We are all in the dialogue
whether or not we are talking about it. — Robert Carroll
In this sixth key of the 7 Keys to God-centric Mental Health,
“Speak the language of healing and share your Core Story ”
Thom Harrison states, “True healing has its own language.” This language is not unlike the languages we learn to communicate with others in our profession. The words are unique and offer specific meaning.”
Jeanette Bennett, Utah Valley Magazine Editor-in-Chief, explained how she learned a language fo healing after a childhood trauma. Her grandmother had committed suicide, but her parents would not tell her what happened. She found out anyway and said, this “taught me that we shouldn’t talk about these things and that there was shame involved with her mental illness.”
However, it sent her on a lifelong quest to understand what her grandmother had gone through — trying to know what she felt. As she became more aware of others’ happiness, she discovered a universal language they used.
Then she shared her findings of how she hears happy people talk in day-to-day conversation:
- They talk about their dreams
- They talk about the future.
- They talk positively about other people.
- They see other people’s successes as something to celebrate, and not feel competitive with, and not let that make them feel less than.
- Happy people just love to celebrate other people.
Then continuing about her grandmother’s suicide, she said: ” Just communicating about it was the first barrier that had to come down. We can talk about it; it’s not something to be ashamed of.
“If we’re struggling with depression or whether it’s one bad day, or a period, or a season of life of depression, let’s talk about it. Solution number one is communicating about it.
“I’ve had other close family members that have dealt with anxiety and depression. And my daughter lost two very close friends to suicide. So this has been an ongoing discussion item.”
Bennett started learning her own language of healing for the sake of her family. “I have five kids that are in different stages of life, I’m interested in what’s going on in their minds. How they’re processing the things that happen to them—their disappointments and their successes and their friendships.
“It’s been an ongoing quest of mine to really get to know people and understand the things that they’re going through,” she concluded.
Speaking the Language of Healing
“Therapy through talk, no longer as stigmatized as it once was,” reports the Daily. In fact, it “has become an increasingly popular and blandly normal way for people to address the health of their inner lives, whether individually with a therapist or as part of a support group …For many, there’s no doubt that working through difficult personal issues through talk can be very helpful, revealing, and cathartic. Studies have certainly shown how successful therapy through personal narrative can be in dealing with addiction, such as in organizations like as Alcoholics Anonymous.”
E. Summerson Carr’s study of the language used in a drug treatment center showed how rehabilitation treatments revolve around a drug user’s language. She “points out the familiar discourse structures, opening with ‘Hi, my name is ______, and I am an addict,’ and the structured stories of very personal histories, using the right kind of guided therapeutic language, creates” ways to talk about problems, “and if you don’t talk ‘authentically’ in the way expected of you, you’re in denial. Self-referential language, honesty, openness, and willingness to tell secrets, even private business unrelated to the addiction, are seen and assumed to be evidence of ‘healthy” language. Secrets are seen as things that ‘make you sick,’ not only for what they hide but as evidence of denial or reluctance to come to terms with addiction that generally relies on secrecy and keeping information away from others.”
The Daily explains that clients, “must also adopt and learn the highly structured ‘language game’ of healthy talk. Some therapists not only believe the right discourse can start to heal long-term problems, but at the same time they can more easily track how successful their clients are at moving through the steps of a rehabilitation program or therapeutic methodology, through how well these healthy speakers are able to play this therapeutic language game. This shows how successful that particular program might be at treatment, through how many healthy speakers have successfully navigated through it.”
Learning the Language of Healing
In addition to mental health therapists, who help us learn healthy language, we must also break the “negative speak” we hear all day long. For example, during the day’s ongoing news cycles, “the constant flow of information can be overwhelming,” but writes CDPHP, no matter “whether it’s a friend’s sports digs, details of natural disasters, or political opinions, negative ‘news’ can increase anxiety and heighten feelings of depression and hopelessness.”
Pushing Away From Negative Language
It is up to each of us to overcome negative input in our lives, CDPHP recommends five things that may help:
- Schedule your information intake limiting it to two or three 15 minute sessions a day. They warn, “The human brain is hardwired to pay attention to things that are changing all the time.” Budget a session “in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening to check the headlines and skim your social feeds. Between those times, log off. You may find that your concentration improves and you feel more relaxed after the first few days.”
- Know the difference between commentary and news. Real news “reporting delivers the verified facts about an event, situation, or topic” and commentary, the area where you are most likely to feel upset, “provides analysis, opinions, or feelings about facts. …commentary fosters the impression of ‘negative news’—and it’s bolstered by the individual opinions our friends and family express on social media.”They suggest you “follow wire services like Reuters and the Associated Press” just on “Twitter to narrow your exposure to more fact-based reporting” and then “remove commentary-heavy sources from your social feeds—and block posts from friends who have negative or disagreeable opinions if you find them upsetting.”
- Fight back against the fear of missing out (FOMO). They advise looking “critically at the news you do see. Ask yourself how much more you need to know to take action. Chances are, the answer is ‘none.’”
- Make positive connections your priority. Begin by asking, ” yourself what you can do about the news—within the next day.” Figure out what touches you most, and you will “find that behind your sense of depression, despair, or anger, something has triggered your sense of compassion.” Then use that, turing it into a positive action right away.
- Find something to do—and take care of you that is not on your phone or other screen. They submit taking a walk and listening to sounds around you. “Shoot some hoops. Build a model ship. Do something that requires you to be in the moment and keep your hands busy.” Eat right and “make sleep the safest part of your day—put your phone in a drawer or across the room so you’ll be less tempted to check for updates.” Get out there and serve others around you. “Hold the door for someone, shovel the neighbor’s sidewalk, compliment the chef, or simply meet someone’s eyes and smile. Connecting with real people in real life helps you see the positives when the news serves you negatives.”
Much of what we have discussed here is already in the language of EternalCore. Thom Harrison suggests, “Others will teach us and gently correct us in a safe environment. Once you learn it you need to join in the conversation and add to it.”
Moving Toward Positive Language
An example of someone learning the language of healing and applying principles of intention is found in my sister-in-law Trudy Barnes. In our comment section she reported this after knee surgery:
“I have been the recipient of intentions for healing after total knee replacement. The physical therapist calls me wonder woman and says you are ahead of the game in healing!
“I remember and repeat key intention words like flawless, perfect, pain free, heal quickly , and whole and healthy in every way. I learned to let go of control and allow and trust the healing process to occur. I am 7 weeks post-surgery and able to do all the normal things in my life with increasing strength and joy and gratitude.
“It took courage for me to ask for support in the Power of 8 groups but I am a believer in the amazing generosity of God and the universe to answer and orchestrate our needs when we specifically ask! “
Notice how the words she uses, “flawless, perfect, pain-free, heal quickly, and whole and healthy in every way, let go of control, allow and trust the healing process” all are words that promote healing.
Trudy is a massage therapist and learned the language of healing early on, but with practice, we call all learn it.
Harrison wrote, “Only when we learn the language are we qualified to speak it to others. He tells us that we “learn this language by studying and participating in the community. As you move through your mental health journey, you can share your truths and experiences while receiving guiding practices and ideas from both patients and practitioners.”
Healing and Talking Circles
I have had limited experience with “talking circles,” but whenever I am in one I am changed. In many ways, our Power of 8 Groups, mentioned by Trudy, are like talking circles, as members reveal their needs to the group. But when used solely as a communication technique, “talking circles, peacemaking circles, or healing circles, as they are variously called, are deeply rooted in the traditional practices of indigenous people …Members sit in a circle to consider a problem or a question. The circle starts with a prayer, usually by the person convening the circle, … a ‘talking stick’ is held by the person who speaks. When that person is finished speaking, the talking stick is passed clockwise around the circle. Only the person holding the stick may speak. All others remain quiet.
“The circle is complete when the stick passes around the circle one complete time without anyone speaking out of turn. The talking circle prevents reactive communication and directly responsive communication, and it fosters deeper listening and reflection in conversation.” However, this does not just center on communication with words.”
Dr. Mehl-Madrona went on to explain how the Lakota people use healing circles. When they gather in a talking circle the ceremony begins with a prayer, and together, members “are committed to helping one another and to each other’s healing.”
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) employs a similar method. At their weekly meetings, those seeking help sit in a group, speaking a very specific language of healing as outlined in these twelve steps:
A study by Consumer Reports reported, “that people with mental health and substance abuse problems who went to AA did especially well, with an average improvement score [and] significantly bettering mental health professionals.” But speaking the language of healing is certainly not limited to groups. It may be even more vital for loved ones.
For example, in Engaging Your Community, Ty Dixon explained how talking with his father helped him as they openly considered his addictions. And he says, these days “we have emotional, honest conversations. We express our feelings. We can take feedback from each other … I think the more that we talk about things and we’re honest, the more it dispels shame, and casts out fear, and gains clarity, and allows us to connect and unify, and to work through things.” It is pretty clear that Ty has learned the language of healing.
Clearly learning the language of healing has its benefits. And Thom Harrison states that “EternalCore offers you a process to come and learn [that language] at your own speed, to consistently keep your mind open to new information and ways of learning. [And] in the EternalCore community, you can find strength and understanding as you are able to communicate your thoughts and feelings throughout your journey to lasting healing. Once you have learned the language of healing, you speak it and share it with others. “
Sharing Your Core Story
Jeanette Bennett, (magazine editor from the first paragraphs in this post), says that “people who are willing to open up about their story and what they’ve learned, [draw] people flock to those stories. Those are some of our most-read stories; people want to read and learn from other people. And there’s getting to be less stigma about sharing stories mental challenges.
“We need to be able to open that up even more because we learn so much from those stories. Now it’s usually the people who have overcome it and have a happy ending, who are ready to share it, but even those who are struggling through it. I love it when people are confident enough and vulnerable enough to admit what they’re struggling with. It’s a really powerful connector.”
Jason Coombs Core Story
“I’m a person in longterm recovery. I have experienced multiple rounds of attempting recovery and healing; four rounds in non faith based organizations as a patient; as a client I’ve sat across from literally 45–50 therapists and counselors.
“Nothing worked for me until that faith component was included. And so my fifth and hopefully final treatment experience was through a faith based organization. I feel like God’s gotta be a part of that recovery process for it to work—sustainable and long lasting healing.
In 2003–04, after a car accident, I was referred to a doctor that prescribed me large quantities of Oxycontin. And five months later after being hooked, losing 65 pounds, and becoming emaciated from the opiates, the DEA caught up with me.
“The feds ended up serving me with four felonies misdemeanor because as it turned out, I was a patient in Utah’s largest oxycontin drug ring. So not only was I hooked, I was facing all of the criminal charges.I was charged with distribution, obtaining false prescriptions, insurance fraud, everything they could get me with. So when, when that went down and the doctor got shut down, the supply ended, and I went to the streets.
“And when you go to the streets and you’re buying them off the streets, it’s like a hundred dollars pill. Once I couldn’t afford that, I went to heroin, and of course, all the street drugs and alcohol and everything became a part of that.
“But not only am I a person in long longterm recovery from substance abuse, but also from sexual compulsivity and compulsive overeating is a big part of my story too. So I have not only experienced the healing power in that one area, but in multiple areas. And I am recovering from anxiety and depression too.
“The faith based component is fundamental in healing—I’ve lived it, I’ve experienced it. Without that faith component, nothing else worked.
“The difference between the old me and who I am today is, there was a constant thought about self, about me. It was about survival. The old man was, was wrapped up in self, self bondage. Today, I do my best to practice getting out of self and looking at how I can bless the lives of others. Ultimately that is what creates and fosters healing. Turning back and helping the next, the next one in line, who is struggling and reaching out a hand.
“That wasn’t me back then. It was all about me and my career and my finances and my pleasure. And now, more often than I used to, I think about what does ‘he’ need or what does ‘she’ need? How can I bless their lives?
“Waking up in the morning and asking God to use me as an instrument. I ask Him to help me to know who I need to serve each day and having that part of a daily practice. No way would I have done that back in, back in college or in my addiction.
“So how important is it tobe God centric? It’s fundamentally important. It’s vital. It’s, it’s crucial. It’s changed my life.”
A Challenge To Tell Your Core Story
Thom Harrison asks this of each of us in the EternalCore Community should share our Core Story to help others along the path of recovery. He wrote, “You have your own pathway with God. Though some have paths that are similar to yours, they are not exactly the same. Some have paths that make no sense to you now. Learning a common language together allows you to understand them better in your journey to healing.
“I was asked once by several men who deeply knew God if God was right-brained or left-brained. This caused me deep contemplation. I knew people who strongly professed an experience with God that was very structured and rigid and left-brained. They described a God that seemed somewhat harsh compared to my own experience with a God that was anything but that.
“One of the most profound truths of my life was when these highly trusted guides of mine taught me that God is not just right-brained or left-brained… God is whole-brained. God is able to interact with me in the specific language my brain speaks. God takes me at face value.
“In fact, I’ve come to understand this to be a powerful definition of meekness: taking a person at face value. God starts where ever I exist, at whatever level I am at. God speaks to me in my language.
“Should not we try to do the same? Become a part of the revolution, the story, the EternalCore structure?”
1 Thom Harrison, 7 Keys to God-centric Mental Health, (all remaining quotes from Harrison are taken from this source).
2 E. Summerson Carr, “Secrets Keep You Sick”: Metalinguistic Labor in a Drug Treatment Program for Homeless Women,” Language in Society Vol. 35, No. 5 (Nov., 2006), pp. 631-653 (23 pages)Pued by: Cambridge University Press
4 “5 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative News Cycle,” The Daily Dose, Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc.,(CDPHP®)
6 Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD, MPhil, “Introducing Healing Circles and Talking Circles into Primary Care,” The Permanente Journal, 2014 Spring; 18(2): 4–9.
7 Martin Seligman, “The effectiveness of psychotherapy: the Consumer Reports study,” Am Psychol. 1995 Dec, pp 965–74.