A Veteran patient of mine was talking about anger issues and depression and the very sad story of Veteran suicide. He told me that he had previously made a suicide attempt and still struggled with it. He
also said that he made the attempt because he believed it was really the only thing he still had control over in his life.
This relates to a topic I've been contemplating lately and that is: how people's perception of personal power effects their behavior. Our daily lives are largely, if not completely effected by the perception we have of the world
and our place in it. This perception is a direct result of our early experiences in life.
When you were growing up, if you had too much stress to deal with in your life, (family challenges, friend challenges, physical challenges, trauma, abuse) then you tend to go through life believing that stress, any
stress, is too much. When I say too much, I mean you felt you couldn't cope, didn't have the resources, didn't have support.
If, when you're growing up, you didn't have enough stress-strange as it sounds, there are some people like this-then when you start experiencing stress which inevitably happens for everyone at some point, you also tend to
perceive it as being too much because you never dealt with it before and didn't develop inner resources to cope with it.
Finally, if when you were growing up you had just the right amount of stress and had support and guidance to learn to deal with it, you likely developed the perception that you can cope, no matter what it is. So, you go through life
believing that things will work out, you'll figure it out, etc., simply because you always have, no matter what the stressor is.
The types of stressors we deal with as adults in these scenarios, typically aren't different, it is simply our perception of our available resources to cope that is different.
You could say that this perception of "available resources to cope" is basically a perception of power. I may not have all the answers and I may not like dealing with this stressor but I know it will work out in the end, or
I'll get through it.
These kinds of perceptions are part of our emotional programming. 80% of which is complete by the time we are 8 years old, and is the blueprint from which we live our lives. It is the source of the nice, or not so nice, voice
you hear constantly chattering in your head and is the source of the first automatic thought you are aware of when a triggering event happens.
The good news is: We can change our perceptions. Scientists have confirmed that we have Neuroplasticity and therefore, no matter how old we are, we can still learn.
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