Posts Tagged With: emotional health

The Misery of Growth!

I heard a quote generally attributed to James A. Garfield from a friend recently, “The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable.” Prior to my journey into my own emotional healing and understanding the lies I had been believing about myself and others, I would not have resonated with this at all. When we delve into the world of understanding and healing our reactions to situations and people, we go through a season when it is as though we are falling apart at the seams. In my journey, I learned my once useful coping strategies were unhealthy and I knew I didn’t really want to stay that way. At times I felt devastated. I can remember sitting in deep despair and wanting to quit. I was a mess!

I’m not finished with my healing process. I will be in this journey for as long as I am breathing and I know first hand it is worth it. At some point I turned a corner and had positive experiences of emotional health and connectedness. Seeing myself change and reaping the reward compelled me to keep moving forward. This doesn’t mean the journey is easy now. The dynamic nature of life and a commitment to growth are anything but boring and stagnant. I regularly encounter challenging situations that show me new areas where I can work on my skills. I get frustrated sometimes but in the end, I realize I am free and I will never go back to being a captive of lies!

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

Facebook Blues

I often hear from people who, after perusing Facebook, begin to feel down about themselves and the status of their lives. This is typically a result of seeing your friends in all their shiny glory. People often post the really awesome, fun, exciting, happy moments in their life. The Instagram or Facebook post is just a snapshot of a person’s life; it is not a representation of the whole picture. It is a glimpse of a moment. A moment that peeked within them the desire to let others in on it. It’s possible in the moments just before or just after the one moment you get to see, all hell was breaking loose. Perhaps the day started out with a low but somewhere in all the moments that make up a day, something that felt good happened and rather than share the low, the person chooses to share the good.

You know what I’m talking about because, if you are a Facebook user, you have done this and guess what? It’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with sharing these sweet glimpses of your life. Keep it all in perspective when you are the viewer of other’s posts. Every person on this planet has good moments and bad moments. Some may choose to only see the bad or on the flip side, only see the good. Both views are out of balance.

When you begin to slip into the Facebook Blues because everyone’s life seems so much better than yours, catch yourself. Say STOP! And remember the truth: no one’s life is all good or all bad. Although you may be feeling down at that moment because you are thinking that everyone else’s life is better than yours remind yourself that your emotion is following your thoughts. The emotion does not deserve to be in the front seat driving your life. In this space, notice the sadness or looming depression and remind yourself you have good and bad. All people have good and bad. The shiny isn’t all there is. Deep breath in, deep breath out…close out your Facebook session and go do something that makes you feel good (it must be healthy, wise and legal!) 🙂

Categories: Acceptance, Growth, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Mind: Friend or Foe?

Taking a break from the “I Have A Question” series to remind you about the power of your mind. Most of us, barring any major mental health disorder, can choose what we want to believe. It seems like we don’t but we do…always.

Be aware of your thoughts and notice how they affect your emotions. Emotions follow thoughts. If the thought is negative, the emotion will be, too. For instance, if you make a mistake, then start thinking of every mistake you’ve made and end up in a depressed tailspin, you have chosen to go down an unnecessarily brutal path. Keep your mind focused on the one mistake you just made and use it as an opportunity to learn something. You can be mad but don’t dwell on it for too long.

The dialogue, either audibly or in your head, might sound like this: I totally screwed up the report. Ugh! I am so mad at myself! This is going to take time I don’t have! Ahhhhh! OK, take a deep breath in and out…in and out. Now, what can I do about this and what went wrong? Oh yeah, I didn’t double check my work. I was in a hurry, rushed through it and skipped proofreading. That’s on me. I don’t need to beat myself up over this, that won’t help. Just recognize it and learn from it. Deep breath in and out again…let go of the anger…and move on. I have other things I need to be doing right now and wallowing in this will not help me at all. I am human. I make mistakes. I can learn from my mistakes. Now, I’m going to work on this next task. You will need to repeat this each time the negative thoughts start creeping back in. They are kind of like cockroaches…hard to get rid of but if you’re persistent you will!

If you veer off the path and start recounting every time you screwed up or start telling yourself you are a loser, STOP! That won’t help you one bit. Literally say stop to yourself. Say it aloud if you can and start the above dialogue to get out of the old way. I can tell you from personal experience this works! Every time I use it, I have success and feel so much better. An added benefit is I usually have more clarity and energy to use on productive, life-giving tasks.

The shift is not easy. Meaning it won’t come naturally. We all have many horribly unhelpful neural pathways that are as strong as the fastest highway you can imagine. When we get on this learned neural pathway it seems like it’s a reflex but it isn’t. We learned it over time from a young age. It was likely modeled for us or it’s just part of how we are wired or it’s both. Knowing the origin and working through it can be helpful but you don’t have to in order to change the pathway. Be super intentional. Take this seriously and you will see results!

 

Categories: Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Have A Question About My Responsibility For My Cousin’s Overdose

Q: My cousin overdosed and died. My aunt told me I’m responsible and should have done something to help him. I knew my cousin was using drugs and I told him it wasn’t good for him. He said he was fine and didn’t want me bugging him about drugs. Is it my fault he overdosed? Was I supposed to help him?

A: Experiencing both the loss of your cousin and the weight of being told it was your fault is a double whammy of pain! My heart goes out to you for the loss of your cousin. Dealing with the death of a loved one is excruciating. Be sure you have support around you and allow yourself to process through the grief. Work with a counselor or get into a grief group to help.

Regarding your aunt’s statement about your responsibility, you are not responsible for your cousin’s choices. You told him your thoughts about his drug use and that’s all you could do since he didn’t want your help. No one can make another person stop using drugs. Sometimes people are court ordered to attend rehab but that rarely ends with the person getting free from their addiction. A person has to want to be free before any recovery approaches will work. Remind yourself of this every time you start to feel responsible for your cousin’s death. Over time you will begin to accept the truth and the guilt will ease. Just like grieving, it will be a process so be patient with yourself.

Note: The information on this blog is opinion only and not intended to replace therapy. If you are running into blocks you can’t get past, can’t understand your thoughts and emotions, are overwhelmed by your emotions…anything that is causing you emotional distress, please seek the help of a professional counselor. If you are suicidal, please call 911. If you are desperate to talk with someone call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255. For help finding treatment options for mental health or addictions contact SAMHSA at 800-662-4357. Links to thousands of therapists throughout the United States can be found at PsychologyToday.com or Theravive.com 

Categories: Emotional Healing, I Have A Question, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Have A Question About Anger, My Husband And Email

Q: When I’m so mad at my husband I can’t even look him in the eye……I should…..send Back view portrait of a young couple using laptopan email instead!! Works for us. Or even…..a phone call instead. Somehow….not seeing his eyes – I can be more honest. Why does that work, Karen?!?!?

A:  It’s wonderful that you and your husband have found a way to communicate that works for you when you are mad at him. It’s my belief that, while this method works, I wouldn’t recommend it for the long haul. Not being able to work through angry conversations eye to eye is an indicator that your adult communication muscle is weak. That’s not a technical term…just something I’m making up to describe the weakness. When we are little, we don’t have the most mature communication styles. In the ideal scenario our parents and caregivers would be guiding us to become adults. Not just keeping us alive until we get there but coaching us wisely in all manners of life. Few of us got this wise coaching. Many of us fended for ourselves while our parents were busy providing for us or perhaps just providing for themselves…few idyllic childhoods exist.

You can develop this communication muscle by being aware of what’s going on within you, your thoughts and emotions, on a regular basis. Become a good student of you. Another prerequisite is to let your husband know, when all is calm, that you want to try a new way of communicating when you’re mad at him. You won’t be able to do it perfectly so the first few times might sound like, “I’m mad at you and I need to work through this before I can talk to you about it.” He’ll know what you’re doing because you gave him an advance warning.

The next time you are mad at your husband, notice it. Understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling it. Tell your husband your findings. If you can’t quite do that at first, let him know you are mad at him and trying the new way but you aren’t ready to talk just then. Let him know you need some time and specify how long: 15 minutes, an hour, a day. While you are away from him figure out what’s going on with you. Use your old way of writing your words down. When you have clarity, take your written words and speak them to your husband face to face. You’ll get better at this over time IF you keep exercising your adult communication muscle!

Note: The information on this blog is opinion only. If you are running into blocks you can’t get past, can’t understand your thoughts and emotions, are overwhelmed by your emotions…anything that is causing you emotional distress, please seek the help of a professional counselor.

 

Categories: I Have A Question, Processing Thoughts and Emotions, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

That Icky Feeling

Do you ever have those days when you are certain you have done something wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it? It’s a feeling of…”wrongness”. I woke up in the middle of the night with that feeling and I just can’t shake it. I’m a recovering co-dependent people-pleaser. When I step into realms and bring honesty and transparency sometimes I feel all icky inside. I tell my clients this is normal. When our strongest neural pathway is to please and we step out of pleasing, it’s going to feel bad…it does.

What do I do when I feel this ickiness inside? The wrongness? The bad? I usually try to figure out if I actually did something wrong. This task can get tricky because my view or filter may be skewed toward people-pleasing. From that perspective, nearly everything I did was wrong. I can ask trusted, wise people in my life what they think. I can look at people-pleasing behaviors and see if my words or actions were about 90 degrees away from people-pleasing (I think of 180 degrees, the total opposite on the spectrum of people-pleasing, as narcissistic/self-pleasing to an extreme). I sometimes process during a walk outside. And, as a God-believing person, I pray and seek God’s guidance.

I think the icky feeling is a good sign that I have taken big steps away from people-pleasing. It’s rarely comfortable when we are changing. Seeking comfort will keep me stuck.

Free!

Free!

Categories: Acceptance, co-dependency, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Messy Side of Family

 

Last week I shared the beauty I experienced with my dad dying. This week is the other side of all that! It wasn’t all sweet and wonderful. I spent about two weeks with my family and that is bound to bring up issues. We have different personalities, tolerances andfamily van messiness. Mine floated ever so effortlessly into clear view. I am number 5 out of 6 kids plus I have two foster sisters who take the first and last spots. I sometimes feel unimportant in my family and my dad’s exit process was no different. I just didn’t think I had a place. I wondered where I fit in. Why should I even be here? I decided after a few days to just go home. Why subject myself to misery?

Each of my siblings, in my opinion, had a role: executor, nurse, caretaker, carry on the family business…
But what about me? For a time I kept thinking my dad didn’t even know who I was…he did. That was just a story I created to support my “I don’t matter” theme. Then I thought he looked at me with disdain, like maybe he was seeing me as he did when I was involved in an affair. Shame poured all over me like waste from a port-a-potty extraction.

Our minds are so powerful! We can convince ourselves of almost anything. Mine was doing a fine job of tearing my worth and value into shreds. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I quietly packed and gently left. No one would have known anything was wrong. I am an excellent, Oscar worthy actress! One of my sisters wanted to have lunch with me before I started my drive back home…that changed everything! She had no idea how fragile I had become or how intensely the toxic stench of shame had poisoned me.
I poured out all the gunk inside of me and laid it at her feet. That’s when the hazmat cleanup started. She and my niece stayed in the icky places with me.They let me have my experience and also added truth. They helped me see my role…everyone has a role! Mine was subtle but still important.

The time with my sister and niece changed an entire course of my life! I could have walked away. I would have missed out on the healing I received from them. I would have missed out on being there for my dad, my mom and my sister in ways only I could fill. Not because “I’m all that” but because I am me and the elements I bring into my relationships are uniquely mine. No one else brings what I do, just as I don’t bring what any one else does. It’s this beautiful place of importance that we all have in the entangled messy rootball of life.

 

Categories: Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Dark Days of Winter

Technically, our darkest days of winter are behind us. Although we are now gaining about two minutes of daylight each day, January is still dark for many people. The energy of the holidays is behind us and we move into survival mode, surviving the mundane dead of winter. Here are a few things you can do to make this time more bearable:

Get outside as often as possible, especially if it’s sunny. We need exposure to the sun, so do what you can. Maybe you work during daylight hours. Can you take a 15 minute break at some point during your day to get outside? Bundle up if you need to, but get out there.

Exercise. You have to move your body, it’s just part of being human. If you don’t, you will suffer grave consequences…literally. You will most likely shorten your life significantly by not moving. Combining sun exposure with exercise is ideal. If you can get outside to walk, hike, run, snowshoe, cross country or downhill ski…whatever works for where you are, you will treat your body and mind very well. You don’t have to go outside to exercise. Go to a class, participate in an online exercise program, use a DVD. You can even groove to the music for a half hour. Pick fun tunes and dance like no one’s watching. Find something you like that gets your heart rate going and do it (as long as it’s healthy and legal!). Of course, as all disclaimers say, make sure your doctor gives you the ok and be safe about what you are doing and aware of your own limits.

Take time to watch the sunrise or sunset as often as possible. Notice the fauna around you. Be aware of your outside environment and see the beauty even in this dark, seemingly dead, season. Noticing nature in action can lift our spirits. Being in tune with what is happening in the world around you can sometimes help you endure it.

Use this time to tackle inside tasks like organizing your kitchen junk drawer or going through those growing piles of paper. When the days get milder and longer, you are not going to want to be inside so do what you can now to free up outside time for later. Tax season is looming. You can start gathering all your documents so you have a jump on those who wait until the last minute. Organize your closet. As you accomplish these tasks you will be energized to do more and you’ll forget the dark days of winter!

Start creating your own list of things you can do to help you not just get through the dark days and nights of winter, but enjoy them!

 

Categories: Depression, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Your Routine Keeping You Unhealthy?

After a few weeks of celebrating the holidays with family, I’m back to blogging. While I fully enjoy time away from my normal routines, I also relish getting back into them; I find it’s easier to be balanced. Routines don’t have to own you, they can actually help you achieve goals or create lasting change.

If you decided to make some resolutions or changes for 2016 how are you doing with them? Routines will help. Even before you decided to create changes, you were in a routine. It was just a routine absent of the ingredients necessary for you to change. It was a routine that kept you in the place from which you decided you wanted something different.

The easiest examples relate to poor nutrition or lack of exercise. If you don’t eat well or get regular exercise you have routines that support these self-defeating behaviors. When you decide to change, you are simply creating new routines to help you reach your goals.

You are in routines of varying sorts every day. Which routines will you choose today? The ones that keep you stuck or the ones that lead to physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, intellectual and relational health?

Categories: Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Broken Trust

broken trust
I’ve done this…I was the one who broke a lot of people’s trust.  This visual is seared into my brain.  At times it creeps in and fills me with all kinds of horrible memories and a painful churning in my stomach.  I have learned over time to remember that I am forgiven and free.  I never see my past actions as acceptable, but I am acceptable.  Although some people may never trust me again, and I understand why, those who know me now, see me not as my past but as my present.

What about you?  Are you the one who was hurt by another who broke your trust or were you the one who did the breaking?  No matter how this quote hits you and the emotions it stirs up, you have the power to be free.

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Forgiveness, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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