Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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SilentDawning
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Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jun 2010, 06:44

I'm going to take a big risk here.

Here's why. I've found a real carefulness by posters at this site to NOT judge and ridicule people who share their misgivings about the Church. There seems to be a genuine and so far, "safe" culture for sharing barriers to activity and I hope, sharing personal weaknesses without people making comments that leave you feeling worse than before you posted a question.

So, here's my risk. (Please be nice when you answer).

I have a strong testimony of the the truthfulness of the Church. But I've had periods of semi-activity and inactivity due to this weakness below.

The weakness is a strong inability to let go of the things that people have done to me in the Church, in spite of all the philosophy and doctrine that tells us to get over things that happen to us to avoid greater condemnation, to preserve your own peace, etcetera.

Recently, I had a conflict with some Ward members over an activity I was planning. It ended with them distributing a nasty note to many members of the Ward. Apprently they felt I was too overbearing. I was also reprimanded for what happened by our Bishop, even though i apologized if I'd offended anyone.

The LIngering Effects

However, I still hang on to this. I don't trust those people that were part of this. I don't want another leadership calling in that Ward. I feel I need to protect myself from similar behavior from others. I have a very jaundiced view of this Ward, which does have a reputation for being difficult. When I see the ringleader/note writer, I avoid her. She hurt me deeply and I feel I must protect myself by not interacting with her. Plus, I have no desire for interaction. And later, when we brushed together on another issue, they complained again and my decision was reversed!

I sincerely would love to be back to my old self in the gospel, but I can't seem to shake this experience! I feel at this point this will only change when life has me moving into another Ward due to job changes etcetera.

Comments? Standard gospel answers don't seem to help much, although I'm willing to listen to them. I know the parable of the man who gets his debt forgiven, and then refuses to forgive his own debtors, and is thrown into prison. I realize I have the greater sin for not forgiving. I've read Bednar's talk on "Thou Shalt Not Be Offended". None of those things help. I feel this deep, deep reluctance to make sacrifices when service has the potential to lead to experiences like the one I shared.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 20 Jun 2010, 14:23, edited 2 times in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Euhemerus
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Re: Need Help with

Post by Euhemerus » 08 Jun 2010, 07:50

I have some thoughts on this. Let me share a bit of a story.

My mother is wonderful. She works hard to help people. She would do anything for anyone. She is meek, sensitive, loving, and depressed. She lays it all out for everyone all the time. She gives people the benefit of the doubt. But she also allows people to take advantage of her, which hurts her deeply.

I have found that people like this are badly misunderstood, taken advantage of, and poorly treated. But it is a vicious cycle. You want to serve, and want to help because you love so much and want to do what is right. But it is this very thing that leaves you vulnerable to hurt and the callousness of others. Unfortunately, the solution cannot be a function of everyone else or nothing will ever change. As long as we continue to discuss how people treat you we are only feeding the problem. The discussion really has to begin with you.

I actually think I suffer from a similar problem, but to a different degree. For me, the way out is to take control of the only thing over which you have rightful control - yourself. There is empowerment in the concept, and I suggest allowing yourself to believe it. That is to say, you get to decide the terms on which you participate, serve, love, and help others.

My best advice would be to seek a CBT course. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is a psychotherapy technique for helping people with depression and has proven much more effective than drugs particularly because it provides you with the tools to handle problems in the future (you don't have to be depressed to take such a course). My opinion is that CBT should be required for every human being. They should teach it in a life skills course in public schools. It's very helpful.

The gist of CBT is what I'm conveying to you - that you get to take control of your life, your feelings, your actions. When you are in control of you, you can challenge false beliefs (negative thoughts), make plans to handle situations differently in the future, and give yourself permission to let go of unwanted feelings.

A good example of you doing just this, was your demand that your bishop arrange to have a meeting to air out the dirty laundry. I suggest taking this same concept and applying it on a more personal level. That is, you resolve that next time will be different and make goals that emphasize you doing what you feel is important, while not allowing yourself to get into a compromising situation. You might also demand that you allow yourself to forgive the woman involved, while creating boundaries with her that will not be crossed. Forgiving is important, but it does not include allowing yourself to be vulnerable to hurt and abuse from her in the future. If that means avoiding her, then fine (though I suspect that will fade away as you start to feel empowered with control over yourself).
Don't believe everything you think
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GBSmith
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by GBSmith » 08 Jun 2010, 08:00

Just a few quick comments:

1. If that's the way you feel then that's the way it is.
2. Don't rely on someone else like the bishop to straighten things out. This seems to have descended to the level of politics and power and at that point everyone loses.
3. Protect yourself and if that means asks for a release and laying low then fine. There's nothing at church worth making yourself sick over.
4. Don't make your self feel guilt by not forgiving. When you're ready, you're ready. You don't have to "get over it".
5. Remember what's important, your family and you. And what's not, them.
6. Claim a seat on the back row of the overflow and watch the world go by for awhile.

And take comfort in the eternal truth that what goes around, comes around. Good luck.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jun 2010, 08:38

Euhemerus:

Thanks -- I've been considered getting some counseling for a while.

I had similar therapy as a missionary twenty-five years ago. I was a leader in my mission and I was struggling with similar issues -- something I'd experienced from time to time throughout my life. Most were related to similar situations as this -- where people would call and rake me over the coals about things, out of the blue. I took it personally -- as if I caused it -- and that's another tendency I have. The LDS Social Services therapist at the time told me I was unusual -- to be in a leadership position, while struggling with these kinds of self-esteem problems. We met for about two months and then he said he didn't need to see me anymore -- I had demonstrated the cognitive discipline skills I needed to cope on my own.

I have to confess, his reasonong helped -- in therapy I sat there feeling REALLY STUPID about the things I believed about myself, but not angry with my therpaist. He taught me cognitive coping skills which helped. My mission president kept me in leadership, and I continued onward in further leadership positions on my mission, which was very sucessful. At the end I learned my therapist was using "Rational Emotive Therapy", which I have learned is a subset of the therapy you're advocating.

I think I've forgotten those cognitive coping skills and need a refresher.

However, I keep these things tendencies to personalize, to be oversensitive, to dwell on things invisible to others as much as possible. With the exception of when I demanded the meeting with the Bishop. (one might argue that experience WAS personal, since the women handled the situation with a personal attack on my specific character, loud and clear, but let's not relive this).

Normally, I get asked to step up to leadership positions in my work and in Church, yet these tendencies -- to dwell, to be deeply hurt by others, and to personalize things are definitely interefering with my personal progress now. Through my reaction to the situation I shared in the Opening Post, I've proven to myself that without additional help, further experiences like the one I shared here have the power to devastate me, although I'm no longer suffering from depression.

Now, the next thing. There is going to be time and money involved in taking these steps. Currently I'm working full time, going to school part time. I also have young children. I'm going to have to decide how important overcoming this is to me. I recognize this as a huge flaw in my character right now, but I'm free of depression, working productively, succeeding in school, and also active in the Church in a lightweight calling. My tendency to react so violently to personal attacks like this is now a sleeping giant, not a current force to be reckoned with. It does make me unhappy, though, whenever I see the people involved in the conflict, and I'd like to be free of that....there is some attraction to rising up once again with strength in this situation. As my father once said "Bloom where you're planted" rather than wasting away until life takes me to a different ward.

I do think the training you've suggested would be worthwhile. It's a matter of making it a priority. I'm wondering if it can be taken online on in some way that fits one's lifestyle? I will do research, but wonder if anyone knows -- you mentioned a course, rather than individual therapy, which might be more doable. Or can one receive counselling remotely by phone? These are things I need to look into.

Thanks for your input, I've been thinking along the same lines.....
Last edited by SilentDawning on 20 Jun 2010, 14:25, edited 2 times in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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SilentDawning
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jun 2010, 09:07

GBSmith wrote:Just a few quick comments:

1. If that's the way you feel then that's the way it is.
That's true -- it's the current state of my reality. But it doesn't make one happy in the long run. I'm getting fatigued from these kinds of situations. This one was extreme, by the way, with the public and personal nature of the attack, and the reprimand. But there are smaller events that occur now and then that bother me and make me unhappy for shorter periods of time.

For example, as a result of this experience, and a subsequent comment from the other counselor in the Bishopric that he's witnessed this kind of vindictive behavior from women, I've developed this bigoted view of women as far more temperamental and vindictive than men. To the point of feeling I can't even express even mild disagreement around them on day to day issues until I really get to know them. I keep seeing it around me now, or at least, believing that I see it. I never used to think of women that way until this other counselor in the Bishopric shared that perception.
2. Don't rely on someone else like the bishop to straighten things out. This seems to have descended to the level of politics and power and at that point everyone loses.
It's over now. To demand more from anyone would be picking at a scab unecessarily. It happened a couple years ago, however, I still see the woman in the Ward. That's the trigger for the feelings. And my reluctance to serve in further positions in this Ward is a result of my observations of similar pettiness from others....it WILL happen again, I know it.
3. Protect yourself and if that means asks for a release and laying low then fine. There's nothing at church worth making yourself sick over.
I actually stayed in the calling for well over a year after the experience, and was released some point later, after some other issues got to me. The calling was hard on me, I must confess. I've been out of it for about 6 months now, and am in a period of reflection about it. My Church service has always been really important to me, and although I was an effective leader, by most reports, these and a couple other hiccups in the experience have me discontented going forward.

But I believe self-protection is important. If simply for the reason you don't want to put yourself in a position where you HAVE to expend mental effort overcoming similar petty behavior in other contexts.
4. Don't make your self feel guilt by not forgiving. When you're ready, you're ready. You don't have to "get over it".
Problem is, it doesn't add to the sum total of happiness to let it simmer. It happened two or three years ago. And its not just this particular situation. I'm sure there will be other experiences that will hit me like this one did, even when I'm not looking for them. I'd like to genuinely forgive this woman and get over this and future situations like them.
6. Claim a seat on the back row of the overflow and watch the world go by for awhile.
Good advice, I'm doing this right now. In a way, it's therapeutic. I'm seeing all these people who have been benchwarmers and detractors (when I was in leadership) being asked to step up to time consuming callings I personally may have been asked to do if I wasn't taking your advice. It's actually refreshing to see people who refused to do home teaching and who weren't much help, to suddenly step up to HPGL callings because there is no one else to do it.
And take comfort in the eternal truth that what goes around, comes around. Good luck.
[/quote]
Perhaps. Ideally I'd like to be able to have "joy' with these offensive women when good things happen to them.

Thanks for your advice though -- parts of it resonate and this discussion is helping me.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Euhemerus
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by Euhemerus » 08 Jun 2010, 09:39

Some thoughts on your thoughts:

I took a CBT course a while back but I was not depressed. I took it because I thought I might learn something. I think it's unfortunate that a collection of such great information is only recognized as a mechanism for helping people who are allegedly depressed. If I could re-brand it as a type of Stephen Covey habits course I would do so.

I relate quite a bit to what you say and feel. I have a tendency to take things personally as well. It's the good news and bad news. The good news is that you are very open-minded to criticism. That means you accept feedback and try to learn from it. Many people are entirely incapable of admitting they might be wrong. The trick is to learn to constructively use that for improvement rather than perpetuating a cycle of shame and depression. I have learned to properly handle such situations, and much of my technique is what I described. But it is a constant effort. Recently I allowed myself to get pushed back into allowing someone else to have power over me - and it put me into a depressed state for a few days. But with each incident, as I practice good CBT techniques, the length of time gets shorter, and I learn from the situations rather than getting depressed over them.
SilentDawning wrote:Now, the next thing. There is going to be time and money involved in taking these steps. Currently I'm working full time, going to school part time and about to start a demanding post graduate program. I also have young children.
I'm in the same boat. Again, I think CBT skills are far more universal than simply for depressed individuals. They are life skills, and it would likely serve you well to have a good treatment. The one I did was just a group class, and it was dirt cheap (like $7 a class or something). I suppose you could learn the material online, but part of the experience is being able to talk about it in a group setting. This has a very "12 Step"-ish feel and is quite beneficial. Plus, when you hear about the problems of others, suddenly your problems don't seem quite so bad ;) . CBT typically employs the Socratic method, and part of the technique is to learn how to use the Socratic method on yourself (challenging false beliefs).

Here is a pretty good site.
Also here is the Mayo Clinic article which is pretty good.
Don't believe everything you think
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SilentDawning
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jun 2010, 10:06

Euhemerus wrote:I relate quite a bit to what you say and feel. I have a tendency to take things personally as well. It's the good news and bad news. The good news is that you are very open-minded to criticism.
I'd like to share a kind of "funny" experience about taking things personally, since I feel you understand the mindset. When I was a leader, one brother wanted something from me. I believed it was inconsistent with Church policy, and general goodness to give it to him. My bishop concurred. He left the meeting not too happy, but accepting the decision.

Then two months later he calls and says he will no longer do home teaching. He cited my personality -- and listed a number of character weaknesses I'd never heard about myself. He did tell me he was offended by my unwillingness to help him solve the problem I cited in the previous paragraph, which offended him too.

I bounced this off my wife, and she thought I might have one of the weaknesses "a bit" but it's not something that defined me. Don't worry about it, she said . Well, needless to say, I started checking with other people I trusted about this perception (lmy parents). They came out with other weaknesses, but not the one this person specified.

Well, I got over it. This brother faded into inactivity, and I felt responsible.

Later, he shows up at Church, and i did my best to welcome him without getting too close. Self protection again. I didnt' want to be exposed to anything that would upset me. He approaches me and launches into this tearful and heartfelt apology for "saying things that weren't true about your personality"!!! I told him all was forgiven and gave him a hug, and we both felt better. There was a Spirit there that told me I was hearing the truth.

Personally, I think his initial assault on my character was a result of being mad that i didn't give him that thing he wanted ages ago. Bottom line -- so often the things that happen to us are a reflection of other people's weaknesses, not our own. We become targets for their anger, pride, and other foibles.

When I reflect on how much his original comments took out of me, all for NOTHING (he didnt' mean them, he said), it makes me laugh.
That means you accept feedback and try to learn from it. Many people are entirely incapable of admitting they might be wrong. The trick is to learn to constructively use that for improvement rather than perpetuating a cycle of shame and depression. I have learned to properly handle such situations, and much of my technique is what I described. But it is a constant effort. Recently I allowed myself to get pushed back into allowing someone else to have power over me - and it put me into a depressed state for a few days. But with each incident, as I practice good CBT techniques, the length of time gets shorter, and I learn from the situations rather than getting depressed over them.
I had the same experience when I underwent Rational Emotive Therapy as a missionary. I did get better. But there was a need for renewal of the skills. I wish we had a monthly or weekly meeting like the Sacrament to work on our mental health (I'm sort of kidding). I need those boosters.

And by the way, I have a scripture that bears on this. I do think our own inability to control our thoughts causes us to suffer and to hunger for peace, so I share the experience of a group of people in the Book of Mormon who were also suffering, and how the end of their suffering started, and gradually ended. In my case, the enemy is our own thought patterns. The hunger is the hunger for peace and freedom from the negative thinking.
13 And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies.
14 And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would bdeliver them out of their afflictions.
15 And now the Lord was slow to ahear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage.
16 And it came to pass that they began to prosper by degrees in the land, and began to raise grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds, that they did not suffer with hunger.
The point is that these things get better "by degrees". Because I've struggled with this off and on since my early twenties, I question whether I'll ever be completely 'out of bondage", just better able to cope, or "in bondage" for shorter periods of time and with less angst.

What kind of organization offered the training you described? I think a course like this would be very helpful to me. I like the idea of $7 a class, too. I'm going to check out the links you sent, in case the answer is there.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 20 Jun 2010, 14:28, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

nightwalden
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by nightwalden » 08 Jun 2010, 10:14

I don't have brilliant advice for you. One thing that I find helps me is to put myself in the other person's shoes so I can have pity on them. When you think about the situation that distressed you, you think about it from your perspective. I would try to step out of it so you can see the situation more objectively.

This woman thought it was okay for her to stir up a couple other women to anger against you, write a three-page letter tearing you down, and send that letter to others. I don't know this woman but that is enough to feel pity for her. She seems unhappy and she lacks propriety. A happy, healthy person doesn't do the things that she did. I am sure that there is a lot more that you know about her that could help you develop pity for her. This process of developing pity isn't necessarily easy but it might help you in your situation. Good luck.

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Euhemerus
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by Euhemerus » 08 Jun 2010, 10:23

SilentDawning wrote:
Euhemerus wrote:I relate quite a bit to what you say and feel. I have a tendency to take things personally as well. It's the good news and bad news. The good news is that you are very open-minded to criticism.
I'd like to share a kind of "funny" experience about taking things personally, since I feel you understand the mindset.
I have a story that is less funny, but from which I learned a great deal. I went out on my mission with a certain mindset in mind. Most missionaries didn't really like my trainer and it quickly became apparent to me why that was. One day he just laid it all out there for me. He ripped me apart and told me all the things wrong with me. It hurt so bad! After thinking on it for quite some time I thought there might be some things he was right about. That experience, coupled with my next companion, changed the course of my mission for the better. I think it might be that it took a thorough scolding like that to get me to see the light.
SilentDawning wrote:The point is that these things get better "by degrees". Because I've struggled with this off and on since my early twenties, I question whether I'll ever be completely 'out of bondage", just better able to cope, or "in bondage" for shorter periods of time and with less angst.
Yep, I think you're right on. My personal experience is that we will always be in "bondage" to the tendencies we have. But I think we can learn to curb our tendencies and at least make ourselves available for the Lord to help us in our struggle.
SilentDawning wrote:What kind of organization offered the training you described? I think a course like this would be very helpful to me. I like the idea of $7 a class, too. I'm going to check out the links you sent, in case the answer is there.
Well, it was through my health insurance at the time, Kaiser Permanente in CA. But if you're going to be in school, most schools have a counselling center of sorts and there may be an opportunity that they know about. It's not something you need a "prescription" for or anything, I'm pretty sure anyone can just decide they'd like to have a CBT course.
Don't believe everything you think
- bumper sticker I saw one day

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Heber13
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Re: Need Help with This Personal Weakness

Post by Heber13 » 08 Jun 2010, 10:40

SilentDawning wrote:Bottom line -- so often the things that happen to us are a reflection of other people's weaknesses, not our own. We become targets for their anger, pride, and other foibles.
I really think you have hit on a real gem with this thought.

However, I have found in most cases I'm as equally flawed as the other person. So while I have been the target of their weakness, my weaknesses have sometimes instigated theirs.

I think there is wisdom in realizing that in all interactions, it is between 2 flawed individuals that can't read each others' minds. Sometimes the problem is just communication, sometimes it is different personalities, sometimes it relates to other character differences.

Take responsibility for your part, and DON'T LET THEIR PART TAKE CONTROL OF YOU. Learn to accept that sometimes that will just be the situation. But remind yourself of all the other times people loved you for your caring service and your diligent work. No one can perfectly handle all situations, or win the hearts of the whole congregation. That is why you need to rely on other leaders to help balance your weaknesses, and they need you and your strengths.

Seek first to understand others before getting them to understand you, but be willing to walk away agreeing to disagree without hurting the relationship if necessary.
SilentDawning wrote:My wife also tells me she thinks I take things WAY too personally, and that I'm over-sensitive. I also care too much about what other people think -- which is true.
I think you should view this as one of your greatest strengths. Caring about people has its roots in Charity, which is the greatest virtue of all, without such, nothing else matters. Don't down play that or feel ashamed of that or wish you could be more uncaring. Take that great part of your personality, and build on that with letting go of pride in expecting others to react to you the way you want them to. Learn to accept what others do and say, be able to disagree with them, and still be able to trust people and love people. Protect yourself from being hurt, but don't isolate yourself that will cause more depression.

You are carrying a burden that others probably are oblivious to. There needs to be some way to let go of that burden. Some people find God fills their heart with love that they can let go, others find courses like CBT help, and others find new religious or good books (like books from the Dalai Lama) provide new ideas that help to let go of this burden you are carrying.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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