Tonight, I’ve been looking through my journal and blog entries that I’ve put together for my memoir and I came across this assignment that we did while I was in the Park Ridge Intensive Outpatient Program. I had forgotten all about it, which is a shame because the whole point of it was to change my daily thinking. I’m feeling a little nervous and raw about sharing it, but I feel like it’s important and I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, so to anyone else who feels this way, I just want to say- you are not alone.
June 21, 2016
The Intervention Letter (Assignment from Park Ridge IOP)
“The script each person reads during a family intervention is called the intervention letter. We are going to be writing an intervention letter to ourselves regarding our negative core beliefs.
Ideally, you want your letter to:
- Communicate genuine love and compassion for yourself, and to convey that you only want to see yourself get better
- Help yourself realize the severity of the impact of the core belief on daily life
- Help yourself to understand that your belief and its daily self-talk manifestations and behavioral impact cause hurt and pain
- Clearly express commitment to accept change through challenging negative core beliefs and living as if you believed new balanced beliefs about yourself/others/world
- Clearly express the consequences of not adjusting beliefs and living with old patterns of negative thinking”
I want you to know that I really love and care about you. You are a kind, compassionate, loving, and giving person. I admire your bravery. For example, you’ve traveled the world and you chose to join the Peace Corps. I admire how much you care about other people, as evidenced by your volunteer trip to the orphanage in Kenya, you joining the Peace Corps, you getting your M.A.Ed. in School Counseling, and the empathy you show by hurting and loving so deeply when others are hurt. I admire the strength it took to admit that you need help and to check yourself into the hospital. I admire your conviction and the commitment you’ve made to wellness in spite of your bipolar disorder. I want nothing more than to see you live a full, normal, and successful life. I know you have what it takes to do that and have the power within yourself.
Catherine, I can see that your negative core belief that you are “not enough” has negatively impacted your life. You have avoided taking risks romantically and, over the past three years, you have spent most of your free time in your room on your bed alone except for the company of River. You have avoided spending time with friends because of your “not enough” core belief and it has had a negative effect on your wellness in terms of the progression of your recovery with bipolar disorder. You have, throughout your life, made incredibly questionable choices about the men you have dated because you didn’t think you deserved any better due to your belief of not being skinny, pretty, funny, smart, successful, and competent enough. You have dated men who disrespected you, cheated on you, or were even emotionally abusive to you and who didn’t respect what you wanted and didn’t respect your body. All this was because of your core belief that you are “not enough.”
Your belief that you are “not enough” affects your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in ways that are hurtful and painful. Your daily self-talk of “I’m not pretty enough. I’m not skinny enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not successful enough. I’m not independent enough. I’m not ___________ enough. I’m not enough.” is emotional abuse. When you think something enough times, you start to believe it. It also affects your behaviors, some of which I already wrote about. You would never speak to someone else you care about in this way and you shouldn’t ever let someone you care about speak to you in this way either, not even yourself. This obsessive and ruminating self-talk is harmful and abusive and it’s hard to understand why you would allow it to continue. Since it has caused you to stay in your room so much, your negative core belief has affected your friendships. Your friends are patient and understanding, but they aren’t saints and it was unfair for you to expect them to wait this long to hang out with you regularly again.
Catherine, I’m asking you to accept change. Every time you think your core belief, I’m asking that you change it to I am enough. I ask that you remind yourself that you are enough each and every day. I challenge you to live as though you believe you are enough, even if you don’t always feel that way. This may look like being more confident when stable or depressed and it may look like imposing the 24-hour rule on things that are big choices when you are manic, because you are so much better than some of the impulsive choices you have made.
One major consequence of not adjusting your core belief and of living with old patterns of negative thinking is that if your thought pattern remains the same, your feelings and behaviors are unlikely to change. You will continue to put yourself down and may make more decisions based on the false idea that you are not good enough and therefore do not deserve any better. It is imperative that you start making changes in the way you think and replace “I’m not enough” with “I am enough” in your thinking.