Self-Help That Doesn’t Suck #7 : MoodGYM

 

The first page...
The first page…

Title: MoodGYM

The Break-Down: MoodGYM is a comprehensive on-line cognitive behavioral therapy tool. Through a set of modules, you learn how to really see how your thoughts color and affect your behaviors in actual life. Cognitive-behavior therapy is one of the most common, modern therapy modes out there and has found it’s way into many mainstream discussions. You’ve probably heard of it even if you don’t know the name. Anyone ever told you to challenge your negative thoughts? To locate and befriend your “inner critic”? If so, they are talking in the language of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Why I Loved It: My boyfriend suggested it to me  and being that I am obsessed with any kind of make-me-less-of-an-anxious-person processes, I did. MoodGYM is Australia-based and has the funny slang to prove it. (Unfortunately, I think this also translates to a lack of diversity on the site with the illustrations, all the cartoon-pictures of people are a watercolor beige color.) The modules are straightforward and still enlightening. It is free. I liked being able to see the kinds of common prisms with which I see the world (MoodGYM has online “characters” which represent our most common archetypes for seeing the world. “Elle” is self-hating and sad, “NOPROBLEMOS” is happily well-adjusted, and “Moody” is well…you know, moody).

I’ve read and worked through lots of cognitive behavior therapy, but we all need reminders about how our thoughts color our interaction with the world. Despite never having been formally diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I have had both in my life. I am pretty sensitive, can get stuck in stale thought patterns, and my inner critic eats her Wheaties. I know that I need to be very aware of my mind and have seen how my invisible, negative thought patterns color how I view the world, myself, and other people (usually in a not-so-great way).

Some of the characters...
Some of the characters…

For You, If…: You want to try out therapy but are mired in cultural shame or don’t have disposable income enough to warrant $175/hour appointments. You have bouts of depression or anxiety and your tried and true method of “just ignore that shit until it dissipates” is not working. You want to giggle at some Australian slang (someone please tell me what a “tinny” is…)

Woo-Woo Factor: 0.5 out of 5 amethyst rocks. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is pretty locked in with sciencey stuff.

Onward,

Hannah

Letter from a Blue Restorative INFP

So, I like tests. Personality tests to be exact, though tests in general never really scared me. Personality tests were always an alluring topic for me: fill out the bubbles, see how many more A’s you have than C’s, find yourself on the Likert scale of your choice… I loved the idea of the right assortment of answers unlocking who I was.

So, what did I find?

I am an INFP.

INFP

I have a blue-green brain.

My top strengths are Input, Intellection, Restorative, Empathy, and Individualization.

I am an Aries with a Gemini moon and Aquarius ascendant.

Of course, these tests would never really solve the truest desire of my soul, which was to know myself and peek at the divine within. The thing about external measures is that they are only pointers to what our souls already know. We often confuse the pointer with the answer.

Still, these tests were fun and pretty interesting to look back on. For instance, I used to test as an ENFP and then slowly came to be an INFP over time. Honestly, if you’re ever bored on The Internet, these tests can be illuminating.

I write this because I am still swimming in the waters of trying to figure out who I am. I am still tearing off identities that don’t fit, peeling off layers that only serve to make me uncomfortable, constrained, and annoyed.

Surely you can relate.

Maybe you’re addicted to personality tests like me. I can also say I am a workshop junkie and a self-help fiend at times.  Hello, my name is Hannah and I am addicted to online “challenges”.

I wandered bookstores in a myriad of cities, would look up and find myself surrounded by A Course in Miracles and Co-Dependent No More. It was like some weird sort of magic.

ACIM.org
ACIM.org

I was always hoping Someone Else would give me a clue on how to be myself. (I’m an Aries, we can’t help but study ourselves and even my personality tests say I’m likely to be a constant improver. Sigh…)

What kind of woman do I want to be and who I am now? Who I am when no one is looking and there is no chance for side-eyes, internet ridicule, or second guessing?

Today (for today and this minute is all that we have), I am an idealistic woman wanting to fully express herself in the world. I am organized chaos. I am a wounded healer. I am a goddess wrapped up in a funnel coat.

I try not to berate myself for my constant inner searching and treks to energy healers, classes, and seminars galore. I used to.  A LOT. It was another thing I added to the I Hate Myself list. Laughing about this drive in me is much better. Oh, Hannah, you test addict you!

Besides, because of these journeys, I have become a better person more attuned to my own path.That’s not a terrible thing.

But, I am ready to stop looking for the next book to speak direction. I am ready to define myself and work with what I have. Maybe it’s the New Moon in Aquarius.

Art By: Mystic Mamma
Art By: Mystic Mamma

Even as I write this, I am a little like WTF, Hannah? I have been in a military environment for more than ten years. I have a degree in Community and Economic Development. I was a Logistics major…who I am to be talking about new moons and this “woo-woo crap”?

I am who I am. That is the answer. And I don’t want my navel gazing to be in vain. I want it to serve in whatever way it can. I want other women and girls to live fully expressed and in love with Life, right here right now.

Really, I want for others what I want for myself:

To be free.

So, whoever is reading this manifesto-y self-exploration blog post, please bear with me. I am trying to let my soul know that it is now or never.

Dear Soul,

It’s time to stop hiding. It’s time to step into this next stage and live without looking for a test or model life to conform. (You can still read some self-help books but let’s try more novels, huh?)

You are not alone in this quest and all this living you have done will be of use. Your quest to live with honesty will serve others.

If it doesn’t, well, I sure as hell hope they find someone who does help them. Here’s to action. Here’s to being Yourself.

With love,

Hannah

 

 

Shadows on the Path

Sometimes a pause is all we need
Sometimes a pause is all we need

I’m reading Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi for the second time this week. A good teacher recommended it to me. The first time last year I demurred her request and I almost did this year. But, I bought the book and as per her suggestion, adopted it as my R-train subway read. It’s a pretty thin book and easy to get through. But, like many the narrow book, it also contains more than its share of wisdom per page. I closed the book feeling illuminated and a bit more at peace.

Before reading this book, I was “suffering” from self-help exhaustion. I was running from one online program to the next desperate to fix my supposed sins and human frailties. From hating myself in pictures (I know) to emotional eating to releasing old traumas, I entered the four to six week coach led virtual call facebook group having program for every problem. Now I see that I was moving AWAY from my goal of inner peace with every payment plan. It’s not that these programs are unneeded or useless, but that I was often seeking quick fixes and my true desires were not being met.

What is my true desire? It’s the desire of almost every sentient being, to be at peace, to be happy and feel accepted.

Shadows on the Path reminded me that the truest teacher in life is our own experience. When I was deep into a program, it became to easy to ignore the telltale clues my own life was pointing towards me.

So, for me, it’s back to making time for meditation, for looking over my life, for observing the ways I relate to my loved ones and strangers.  What do they have to say to me? What are the messages your life is telling you?

There are definite patterns in my life. I am sure there are patterns in yours as well. Instead of throwing up our hands and bemoaning “why this always happens to me?”, maybe we actually listen for the answer.

Anyways, a good read and highly recommended for anyone who is getting exhausted by improvement programs or just wants to read another person’s experience of walking the path. SO many good things in this book. I’ll surely be sharing more.

Kindest regards,

Hana