The Doing and Feeling Balance

Vintage balanceI took a break from everything for a few days over the holidays. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened and it felt awesome! I had to pick up a few dropped pieces afterwards but it was still worth it. Life can get so busy sometimes it’s easy to forget to just be, not do. Sometimes life is so painful we avoid the being so we don’t have to feel; the doing serves as a painkiller of sorts. Some days we need more being and feeling. Some days we need a break from the feeling. Too much feeling can overwhelm us.

Find the balance that works for you of feeling and doing. Everyone is different. Our needs vary. I need a lot of being and feeling. I need time to just sit and ponder. In that space emotion rises to the surface. I identify it, understand it, sit with it, decide what I want to do because of it, then let it go ~ until the next time it shows up. Then I go through the same process. The more I allow myself to intentionally be with my emotions, processing them not just swirling in them haphazardly, the less control my emotions have over me.

Make time to find your balance between doing and feeling.

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, self care, Self-Help | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Take Control of your Holiday

In Fluidity I suggested being open to change. This week I’m continuing on this thread specifically geared toward the holidays. We have the first night of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa on three consecutive days beginning December 24. What do you want your celebration to look like? As long as it is healthy, legal and wise you can do whatever you want. Obviously you can choose unhealthy, unwise and illegal options but I never recommend doing so because the ramifications for you will not likely be good in the long run.  Choosing healthy options might not feel good in the short run but over time you will reap the benefits of making choices that fulfill my three qualifiers: healthy, legal and wise.

If you have always spent your holiday with people you don’t enjoy being around, why do you keep doing that to yourself? Is it for them but inside you are resentful? If so, this action is not wise or healthy for you or them. You are living a lie of sorts. “I’ll pretend to like these people so they feel better.” If you resonate with that statement, you are choosing a co-dependent and toxic action. None of us want people to be in relationship with us out of obligation. We want to be around people who genuinely like us. They might not like us all the time and we might not like them all the time; that’s just the reality of being messy but, at the the end of the day, we count them as those we want to be with.

What about the way you celebrate? Maybe you want to do something different this year. Maybe you sit alone lamenting how lonely your life is. Walk into a homeless shelter and hang out with others. You might even decide you want to start spending more time there to help out. Usually when we see that we have something to offer others we feel better about ourselves. This isn’t out of obligation. This is a two-way street. You help others and in return, without them even realizing it, they help you. You see it in movies all the time. And this time, the movies have it right. When we contribute our time, we benefit. Our heart grows, our purpose becomes clear and our loneliness dissipates.

You have choices regarding how and with whom you celebrate the holidays. Take your life back and exercise your choice! Remember, keep the choices healthy, legal and wise 🙂

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Enjoy Kwanzaa!

Karen

Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Growth, Recovery, Relationships, self care, Self-Help | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Fluidity

Change can be beneficial. Really. Just because you have always done things a certain way does not mean it hChristmasas to stay that way. This is true especially around the holidays. Think about the areas in your life where you have stress. Is it possible to change something up that will result in less stress? Usually our first answer is, “No!” But stop and ponder the idea for a bit. What would happen if you did things differently? The obvious answer is things wouldn’t be the same but is “same” always good/best/helpful/beneficial?

A stagnant body of water with no fluidity, no change, no movement of water coming in and moving out is a breeding ground for all manner of parasites and bacteria. When I looked this up the first bit of information said it’s a breeding ground for dengue and malaria. I do not want my life to be like a breeding ground for nasty parasites and bacteria. I want to be open to changing. Whether that is related to how I prepare for and celebrate the holidays or how I function in relationships, take care of myself, approach my work or faith.

How about you? What areas in your life need some fresh, clean water running in and clearing out the old stagnant parasite breeding ground? Let this holiday season and your entire life embrace and thrive with change 🙂

Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Growth, holidays, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

De-Icing

ice formations in winter streamIt’s that time of year again, the holidays. As with each year since I started blogging I will post holiday-related topics for the next few weeks. Last week was Thanksgiving for those of us here in the States. Generally I have enjoyed my Thanksgiving holiday but not so this year. There were some highlights: gathering together with most of my children and grandchildren, seeing siblings, nieces, nephews, a few cousins, my mother-in-law and my mom. It was a chaotic experience with many people I did not know and that was not enjoyable. Sometimes I am in the mood for conversations with strangers but this year, not so much. This year, I just wanted to be with family. I definitely felt my dad’s absence and that was part of my sadness.

I experienced the strangling of disappointment and anger taking over inside of me. It sucked me down into a  familiar hole. I stayed there for several days. I was less patient with those around me, especially strangers in cars who received eye rolls and shouts of frustration. All of which I’m sure went unnoticed. It felt safer to yell at them. They can’t yell back (or at least I won’t hear them if they do). You know those times when you only want to have one-sided conversations because you are pretty certain a two-way conversation won’t go well? I felt gloomy, eyore-ish, and it’s been hard to get out of it.

I stopped to take stock of the why. My self-care was nearly non-existent while I was away for the week of Thanksgiving. I had been expecting myself to survive on the basics alone and that is not enough for me. On my last day away, I grabbed my husband and our puppy and went on a walk. I griped along the way, getting all that life-sucking poison out. I requested that we leave early (a looming snowstorm sealed that deal for me!) to put an end to this misery. Along the way, we stopped on a pedestrian bridge that overlooked the Roaring Fork River (sounds big but it’s just a stream really, especially in the winter). The clear frigid waters lolly gagged and splashed around huge boulders and scattered tree limbs. Patches of ice formed on the rocks on the downstream side of the bridge while the upstream side, in full sun, remained ice free. Something about that caught my attention. Maybe my heart was like the river. When I am on the downstream side, away from my source for internal warmth, I ice over. It’s harder for me to stay grounded. When I move toward the warmth of my source (in my case, God), the hardness and ice inside of me begin to melt.

But it doesn’t stop there. Ice builds inside of me when I am not getting out on walks, feeling fresh air and sunshine on my skin. I desperately need to soak in nature, do yoga, and spend time in solitude with my thoughts and prayers. Those are my biggies, the most important pieces of my self-care that must be regular ingredients in my life. I had a profound experience of what happens to me when I starve myself. I am working on stabilizing again, turning toward the sun, feeling the ice crystals softening and chunks of ice peeling away from soul. I feel warmth growing again and with it, hope that I will be ok.

Categories: Depression, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, holidays, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Relationships, self care, Self-Help | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Love…Selfish?

valentines-day_110001316-012814-intSelf-love is critical if we want to enjoy this life and relationships. Some wonder if self-love is selfish, “Is it really ok to put myself first? Won’t people who need me get mad about that and tell me I’m being self-centered?” Yes and yes. In order for us to be able to authentically love others and truly be there for and with them, we must have that love for ourselves. We can’t give what we do not have. Not everyone will appreciate your self-love. Some will challenge you if you say no to them so you can take care of yourself, especially if people are used to you saying yes all the time. When we say yes to someone or something, we are saying no to someone or something else. If the no has been for yourself, then the switch to yes for yourself is going to feel strange and wrong. The people you were always saying yes to will tell you that you are wrong. That dynamic will mess with you and your journey toward self-love.

How do you navigate this journey toward self-love? Start by being aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in your body. Just notice yourself. Notice what you like and what you don’t like. When you are eating ask yourself if you like what you are eating. Does it taste good to you? Does it feel good in your mouth, going down and settling in? When you bathe, do you like the method; shower or bath, warm or cold? Ask yourself these questions with everything you do in your life. If you run into hurdles and can’t answer or the answering becomes emotionally painful for you, you may need the help of a professional therapist. Ask if he/she will guide you toward self-love, awareness, mindfulness and boundaries.

Once you are aware of what you like and don’t like, it’s time to start voicing it. “I started listening to myself and have discovered I don’t like this. I’m not going to do it (eat it…) anymore.” There are some limits here. If you have a baby and don’t like getting up in the middle of the night to feed or change him or her, sorry! Some things we must do. If you don’t like your job, I don’t suggest quitting until you find another job you like better if you don’t have any reserves to tide you over until you find a job you like. If you don’t like driving the speed limit, again, sorry! Some things are have-to’s because of morals, laws and positions we have put ourselves in. Beyond those areas, there are a lot of other areas where you have the choice, so exercise your choice in those areas. This self-love action will fill you up to deal with the areas you can’t change because it’s not legal, healthy or wise to change them.

If you have always bailed out your alcoholic brother, it is not wise for you to continue; although your brother will tell you that you are selfish not to help him. He is not a helpless baby. He is an adult who is making unwise choices because of his addiction. It is up to him to decide to deal with it. Not you. You can say no. “I love you. It is not my job to take care of you. You are an adult and it is up to you to go get help. I will help you find an AA meeting, but it’s up to you to make sure you get there and keep going.” (You could go if you want to. Also, you don’t have to help him find the AA meeting. That’s your decision.)

This is just the beginning of your journey toward self-love. Get started on it…it will be the best decision you ever made for yourself (and ultimately everyone around you!).

Categories: Acceptance, Boundaries, co-dependency, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freaked-Out? Sad? Angry?

human_mindNot happy about current circumstances and want to navigate well? You don’t have to just wallow in your misery, you can do something productive. First, clearly identify what you are feeling (anger, sadness, fear…) and the thoughts that are dictating the emotions. Emotions don’t just show up all on their own. They are linked to cognitive thought: you have a thought and an emotion will follow. We sometimes notice the emotion and not the dictating thought so it’s super important to get back to, “Where did this feeling come from?” The reason? If the thought isn’t based in reality, it’s not worth entertaining and neither is the accompanying the emotion. We often feel these not-based-in-reality emotions anyway and develop incredibly unhealthy neural pathways that become ingrained in our brain and feel like a reflex when in fact they are an unhealthy learned behavior that we keep feeding.

For instance: “With this new President-elect, our country is going down the tubes, freedom will be lost, this is horrible!” What is true at this moment that you know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt? We have a new President-elect. That’s it. We don’t actually know what he will do. We know what he said he will do, but nothing has actually been done yet. Breathe. Remind yourself of what you know for sure. Let go of all the places your mind is going with the “what ifs”. They are crazy-making and completely unhelpful. You can mourn the loss of your candidate if you did not vote for Trump. You can celebrate that your candidate won if you voted for Trump. That’s it. Nothing more. Don’t get too puffed up about all that is going to happen or too depressed about all that is going to happen because–none of it has happened yet. Stay with the here and now and breathe deeply and slowly.

Next, after feeling the emotions based in reality, take a deep breath, splash some water on your face and ask yourself, “Where do I have control? Is there anything I can do about the situation that is healthy, legal and wise?” At the very least, we always have the ability to choose how we are going to react, what kind of attitude we are going to have, if we want to smile and find the joy in our life. Always! Viktor Frankl learned this in a Nazi-run concentration camp during World War II. If he learned this concept in the very worst of circumstances then we can surely do this in our circumstances. I know, if you are reading this, you already have way more freedom and more to find joy in than a concentration camp prisoner.

Now, move on. Surely you have something you need to be doing or could be doing that is productive. Maybe it’s time for a good dose of self-care (something you can do that fills you up in a good way–healthy, legal and wise!). Go for a walk, pet your dog/cat, talk to a friend, listen to music, feel the sun/fresh air, read a book, knit, play piano, write…the list could go on and on. Be good to your body and your mind. Fill up and restore so you can reset. You will deal with whatever happens when it happens and until then, you can take care of yourself, anchor to the present and bring joy into this world in your own unique way 🙂

Categories: Acceptance, Depression, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When Life Takes a Turn for the Worse

Life isn’t filled with good all the time. I know, not a shocking statement and yet, when we face adversity or challenges many of us can easily slip into a downward spiral. If we know life isn’t always going to happen the way we would like, then why are we so surprised when life doesn’t go well? If you’re in a “life isn’t so good” place, keep your eyes focused on just this moment. We will often go to the “this is never going to get better” place. First of all, you have no idea what’s going to happen until it does. It is possible that your life won’t get better but you won’t know that until you take your last breath and realize it never got better…though you might not know you are taking your last breath and be spared that realization. Live each moment as its own. Avoid lumping moments that you don’t know anything about into this one that you actually know something about because it’s real and happening…now.

When life is going well, celebrate it and enjoy it. When life takes a turn for the worse, grieve and mourn as necessary and remind yourself to focus only on the moment not a created future-tripping story. Sometimes that moment is just a wave. Sometimes it’s longer. Just be where you are, be vigilant about healthy, wise and legal self care and be sure to have safe, healthy, wise support along the way.

Categories: Acceptance, Depression, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Voluntarily Inviting Upheaval

I got a puppy last week. My sweet little Maltese, Maya died October 24, 2015. I spent the last year investigating different breeds, looking at puppies and repeatedly convincing myself that life is easier and much more tidy without a pet. Dogs require daily attention and I was feeling selfish. In the last few weeks I had an increase in my awareness of people and their dogs. While out on my daily walks I would remind myself I could choose whether or not I wanted to go on a walk whereas the dog owners had to go. I didn’t have to hold a leash and work on proper dog-walking behavior. Again and again telling myself I was better off. Until I just couldn’t take it anymore! I started looking at “puppy porn” as my husband and I termed my actions. Last Wednesday I saw the very puppy I had been hoping for and she was available. I thought ab223faa64-cc98-4483-bdd8-8ff2611b23about it, I prayed about it, I asked my husband and a few hours later I brought her home. I haven’t slept an eight hour night since and I am exhausted! The first two days I spent just holding her, loving on her and taking her outside to “go potty” every hour. I cried a lot…not tears of exhaustion but tears of joy within my heart. Joy so big it has been almost overwhelming at times. My little puppy (who still has no name because we can’t agree on one 🙂 ) reminds me so much of Maya I have accidentally slipped and called her “Maya”. That won’t be her name…she needs her own name and identity. So here I write, having missed last week and a day late this week with a sweet little furry love-muffin resting her head on my feet. I’m sure there are many posts to come with the lessons I am learning through her 🙂

Categories: Emotional Healing | Tags: | 2 Comments

Oh Those Pesky Emotions!

steep-mountainIn my line of work, I repeatedly help people identify their emotions. For some, a lifetime of shoving emotions away in an attempt to avoid pain creates the belief that they don’t have emotions. Then I come along and challenge that line of thinking and completely rattle their world. A person enters my office because something isn’t working. It’s possible a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend may have suggested they seek counseling but no matter the why, the person has voluntarily entered my office (I rarely work with court-ordered clients). They embark on a journey that has twists and turns, rocks and ravines, steep hills and eventually a place of inner peace and integration. Life doesn’t necessarily get easier, just more manageable. The person has healthy tools to navigate the challenges that will inevitably come.

Integration means the person will now feel the full experience of life rather than run away from or try to bury the emotions they don’t like. At first this is unsettling because it’s unfamiliar. After time, as feelings become more understood, they are easier to accept, acknowledge and process. Now the person experiences inner peace and the confidence to be fully present in life.

I know this journey! I learned to stuff my emotions because I thought only happiness was acceptable. I cut off so many emotions. When I was challenged to fully feel, I had no idea what I was doing. It took years of therapy, coaching and participating in safe groups to get to the integrated place I experience today. I am not saying I have it all together, just solidly committed to this journey of healing and relishing the freedom I experience today.

Do you want peace, confidence and freedom, too? Get help! We cannot do this on our own. Find a therapist, coach or group that will guide you toward understanding and integrating your emotions. Check out Psychology Today or Theravive to find a therapist/counselor near you. If you live in the Denver/Boulder area you can contact me 🙂 Journey Forward

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Friends Worth Keeping

I just saw a clip from Madea Goes to Jail. (Click on the link and you can watch it.) She talks about friends. She describes three types of friends. Some are leaves. The wind blows and they go with it. They drop off when they don’t get what they want. They are takers. Let them go. Some are like branches. They seem strong but when you step out on them, hoping for support, they break and leave you high and dry. Let them go. Others are like roots. They aren’t worried about being seen; they are there to sustain you. They give life. Hang on to those friends. You will only have a few really good friends because that’s all you need…just like the tree.

You are worth having good friends. When people want out of your life just let them go…they aren’t really root friends. If they were, they wouldn’t be leaving.

Categories: Self-Help | 2 Comments

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