Posts Tagged With: sadness

Done With This?

Tired of the same story new day theme we are living right now? Even with some areas loosening restrictions, most of the loosening (if you even have that) isn’t different from what we’ve been doing. We’re still being guided to wear masks, limit outings, and minimize contact with others. Personally, I’m over it. While I understand the necessity of this (after all my daughter who is in the at-risk group lives with us) I just don’t see how the shut downs are a long term solution. Even as a short term solution this has been devastating for so many across the globe. This simply isn’t sustainable. In my mind, we’re done. We’re not doing it anymore. But in reality, I have to abide by the rules. This creates conflict.

What do we do when our mind wants one thing and reality dictates another? We wrestle until we give up. Think of a two year old who wants her way. The caregiver says, “No” and follows through. The two year old throws a fit on the ground until she’s worn out and stops protesting. Then the caregiver gently pulls this pile-of-a-spent-tantrum child into her arms with a soothing voice, “It’s so hard when you really want something but can’t have it…” Brushing tear soaked strands of hair away from tear stained eyes. Caressing this spent child’s chubby cheeks and sealing it all with a sweet kiss.

I’m not two and there’s no one to really hold me like that. But I need it and you probably do, too. What do we do? When all else fails, we have to give this acceptance to ourselves. Try a visualization. Allow yourself to have that temper tantrum. Feel the anger and sadness all wrapped up in a powerful force. Cry if you need to, scream in your mind or into a pillow. Flail in the safety of your bed or in your mind if you don’t have that luxury. When the fit is over, cradle yourself in your arms. When I do this, I usually see God inviting me up into His lap. He gently envelops me in his powerful arms and soothes me. That might not be what works for you. Find a loving figure or your adult self and see them holding you, soothing you. Take a deep breath expanding your entire chest cavity. Exhale long and slow. Let it all out. Repeat. Let your body relax. Now go do something good for yourself that is healthy, legal and wise ūüôā

Categories: COVID-19, emotions, integration, self care, Self-Help | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

When Little Things Mean A Lot

When really awful things are happening, sometimes little comforts make a big difference. People are struggling. They are starving, homeless, isolated, and sick. And yet, I felt disappointed when our crabapple tree blossoms succumbed to a recent spring freeze. On one hand it seemed myopic and childish to feel so sad. People are fighting to live. Not seeing crabapple blossoms is nothing compared to that. I get it, I do. I also believe we need to honor even the little things.

I love spring and everything that represents it. The warmer temperatures, longer days, and many blossoms that grace the stage for a handful of days fill my soul. When I saw the brown bits on the ground below the crabapple tree, I realized they were the life-cut-short embryonic buds of my treasured flowers. Their beauty will never be seen, their fragrance will never fill the air. Maybe they represent more than just a passage of seasons. Maybe for me, this year, they represent the hope of better days to come…for all of us.

I know, that sounds dramatic. After all, they are just flowers. I care far more about people and their plight of survival; however, for a moment, I will feel the sadness of this loss. I will grieve the absence of their beauty and heart-warming scent. I will take a deep fragrance-less breath and as I exhale I will remember all the good that still exists. I will do this because I believe the act of grieving, even the little things, ultimately frees me to move forward in life and show up in the midst of the big things.

Categories: Acceptance, awareness, COVID-19, emotions, Self-Help | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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!) ūüôā

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

What Can You Do About Holiday Sadness?

For some the holidays bring¬†excitement, fun and activities with loved ones. For others this can be a painful time of year. The reasons range from no social connections to loss. This post is for all, even if you don’t feel sad,¬†so keep reading to the end ūüôā

If you are one who finds the holidays painful, it’s important to understand why. Maybe it’s because you don’t have the money you wish you had to lavish your loved ones with gifts. You could be in a state of transition and your usual holiday activities have been interrupted. Perhaps you are alone and wish you had others with whom to enjoy the holidays. Maybe you lost a loved one. With all the reminders around you,¬†sometimes it just feels too painful. Maybe you have loved ones and enough money but you just don’t “feel” the holidays like Cindy Lou Who in the more recent version of The Grinch.

So you know why you are feeling sad about the holidays, what can you do? Let yourself feel the sadness. Notice what it feels like in your body. Put your hand on a part of you where the emotion is palpable and just breathe. Allow yourself time to feel. You choose how long. It can be one minute, 15 minutes, an hour… When your time is up, think about any control you have over your situation. What can you do that is both healthy for you and legal? If you don’t have anyone to be with, find others who are alone: a homeless shelter, a nursing home…even a visit just to hang out with the animals at an animal shelter. If you don’t have any money to purchase gifts, get creative with existing items or acts of service gift certificates (cleaning, game night, extra hour before bedtime, animal or child care, playing at the park, massage…). Often the best gifts are the ones that can’t be bought…it’s true! Not feeling it this year? Create the spirit by offering acts of kindness everywhere you go.

After thinking through areas where you have some control take another deep breath. As you exhale commit to taking action and get moving. Eventually, the feelings will likely come back. Just go through this same process each time they do. By acknowledging what you are feeling, giving it space, then finding where you have some control, you are creating a healthy habit of processing emotion. The more you do it, the more likely you are to experience a decrease in the intensity and frequency of the emotion for that situation.

Now, for those of you who love the holidays and have nothing negative going on: love on those who aren’t as fortunate as you. Pass it on. Invite someone you know who is lonely or sad to join you in some aspect of your celebration. Give to those who are in need. Offer a smile and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on. Be gentle, patient and understanding.

If you are experiencing sadness that is out of control and you are thinking you might take your life, please get yourself to an emergency room or call 911. If you need someone to talk to you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.

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

Inside Out Is Right Side Up

I saw the new Pixar movie, Inside Out with my daughters the other day. They were by far the oldest children with their parents. At 23 and 22 it’s still fun to hang out with them! I thoroughly enjoyed the movie…ok there were a few moments where I thought it was dragging but they had to give us our money’s worth I suppose. So much of what I explain to my clients about the value of all of our emotions was right there on the big screen with color and animation rather than abstractly defined. The movie also clearly displays the importance of sadness in creating healing, connection with others and staying integrated internally.

I think I’ll add watching this movie to my homework assignments! ūüôā

Categories: Acceptance, Emotional Healing, Growth, Processing Thoughts and Emotions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clinging to the Present

At times in our journey through life, it becomes increasingly more difficult to live in the present. We don’t know what is going to happen regarding our health, our finances, our children, or relationships. Much of life is out of our hands, so what do we do? Continue to live in the knowledge of this moment. No matter what is happening. Your boyfriend may be ending his interest in you, your daughter may be moving hundreds of miles away, your bank account may be draining rapidly without much hope of deposits, your job may be on a precarious ledge. We may react to these occurrences with fear or perhaps sadness, and that’s ok. Keep your focus on the emotion connected to the in-the-present situation. It’s sad when a loved one leaves or ends a relationship with us, it’s scary when we aren’t sure how things will work out for us.

Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you can get through this. Talk to good, trusted friends about how you are feeling and ask to be held accountable to not creating stories about how your situation will end. Remember that rearview mirror? You have made it to today. You will make it through the next breath. That is your focus, this breath, this moment.

I’m feeling this right now. My daughter and I are heading back to North Carolina for a check-up. She is not doing well. She has lost 10-15 pounds since we returned home, she is lethargic and not feeling well. She has done what she can to let her transplant coordinator know of her situation without any concern from her. Maybe all is well. I do not know. I can only look at what I see, feel my fear, take a breath and let it go. We will have answers in about a week. I will deal with the answers when we get them. Until then: No stories, feel my fear for a moment then let it go as I take a long, slow deep breath. The God of the universe is in control, I can rest knowing that whatever the answers are, He will help me.

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

An Alternative to the Emotional Band-Aide

There’s an interesting belief out there that we can “fix” our emotions so that we don’t feel sad, angry or afraid. Some people say, “Don’t worry, be happy.” I love that song, ¬†it’s fun, catchy and upbeat. It does put me in a good mood when I hear it BUT that is not the answer to¬†my fear. Just pretend it’s not there? I don’t think so. Some say, “Count to ten and then your anger will go away.” Yes, that can be a useful technique to keep one from doing something hurtful to another, but it is not the answer for why the anger is there in the first place. If you are sad you might hear, “Just think of how good your life is compared to someone worse off than you.” And that is supposed to lift your sadness? While each of those phrases has been useful to some, not one of them addresses the deeper need of the person or the emotion. Each is more of a band-aide to get through the moment and pretend you’re fine.

These ideas of getting rid of our emotions exist in varying forms in different cultures and spiritual beliefs. I am a believer in God. I am focused on yielding to God and allowing him to work through me, to change me, to guide me into becoming a person who genuinely loves with my words and actions. My growth on this journey does not mean that now I don’t feel anymore. In fact, I feel more deeply now than when I lived on autopilot: doing things my way but not consciously. Sometimes I hear people say that to heal from our sadness, anger or fear, we must pray more, read more, draw closer to God. I believe all of those are helpful in connecting with God, gaining a deeper understanding of who he is and who we are in relationship to him; however, they are not the antidote to our emotional states.

I believe the “antidote” to our emotional state is found in acknowledging that it is there, not in attempting to get rid of it. It is the concept of acceptance. Accept where you are at the moment. Identify it. Ask yourself the question, “What am I feeling?” In Anger and Sadness and Fear, Oh My! I wrote about the emotion clusters and challenged readers to come up with emotion identifiers. This would be a good time to use those. Look at the range of words describing joy, anger, sadness and fear then determine which one best captures where you are at in that moment. Say it aloud to yourself, “I feel intimidated right now.” This helps create a connection with your¬†emotion.

In understanding ourselves better and developing greater awareness, it’s important to look at our cognitive (thought) state in addition to our emotional state. To do this, ask yourself what you have been thinking or what just happened that may be connected to the emotion you are feeling right now. In my example of feeling intimidated, I would check in with why I might be feeling that. ¬†For example, perhaps I just had a conversation with another counselor who seemed to have a much better understanding of the theoretical foundations of therapy. An automatic response for me in that type of situation is to think less of myself. That would explain why I was feeling intimidated.

Now that I understand the connection between my experience and my feelings, it’s imperative that I validate my emotion. Does it make sense that I feel intimidated when I perceive someone to be intellectually superior to me? Yes, it does. Sure, there are words of encouragement we might say to someone else or to ourselves to “make us feel better” but now is not the time. If we jump to that, we perpetuate the band-aide mentality and we don’t get¬†to the root of the problem. At this point, let yourself feel what you are feeling. I would then notice the intimidation, what it feels like, and explore why I’m feeling it. “I feel less than, like I’m just not good enough.” Now we are getting to a root.

Where does this come from, this belief that I am not good enough? For me, I didn’t get noticed very much as a child. My parents provided my basic needs for survival but forgot about my emotional needs. I spent most of my life trying to be enough for others and incorrectly figuring out what I needed to do in my quest for acceptance. In a situation with someone I perceive as superior to me, I go to a deflated state. I feel hopeless because I think, “I can’t compete here. I’ll never be enough for this person.” This is where I need to do some work. For me, this required working with a therapist to not only understand these connections all the way back to my foundations but to get outside perspective on what’s true versus the incorrect and damaging beliefs I perpetuate. I’m not so sure this can happen in a vacuum. I firmly believe we need to bring professional help into this part of our healing.

Now that you understand the why’s behind the thought and the emotion, you can continue with the healing process. As I’m standing there, aware of my emotion of intimidation – a mix of fear, sadness and anger – I can address it. It might sound a bit like this for me: “Ah, yes here you are. That part of me that feels less than. You showed up when I was little and I tried to make sense of the world on my own. If I’m not good enough then I have to beat myself up. From the beat up place, I decide I don’t like this person. She made me feel bad about myself, she’s the enemy. That way I don’t have to be around her, because now she’s “bad” in my eyes, and I can bring myself back up to “good.” That is my unhealthy response.¬† The truth is, I may not be as smart as this person, but that does not define my worth. I can appreciate this individual’s brilliance on the subject of therapy, be thankful that our civilization has people who know more than I do, and still value what I bring to the table. Each of us has something to offer that makes the world a better place. For some, their contribution is more visible than others, but that doesn’t alter in any way the value we each bring to one another. Ahhh, that intimidated feeling is dissipating and I can begin to hear this person without the distraction of my “less than belief” getting in the way.”

Without using a band-aide, this process encourages feeling our emotions and moving forward.  The identified emotion and the discovered thought behind it create a connection for why the emotion rose to the surface.  The underlying beliefs that triggered the emotional response were addressed and brought into a healthier focus.  With a view that is based more in reality, the emotion began to disappear.  The fuel that sparked the emotion is gone for now, replaced by an understanding of the hurtful reality of the spark.

This process, while incredibly freeing, is not easy and does not happen overnight. It takes professional help and repetition to become adept at utilizing the process. After about 8 years of walking on this awareness path, I am much better at using the skill I have described. I don’t use the skill flawlessly and I don’t use it all the time. I¬†do not¬†encourage perfection as the goal, just a general trend toward positive change and growth.¬† The next time you are aware of an emotion you are feeling, feel free to give this awareness technique a try.¬† Remember, you may need a counselor who advocates awareness or mindfulness and¬†looking at¬†your past¬†to help you understand why you are responding the way you are.¬† Here’s to no more band-aides!

Disclaimer: There are some emotional states that require medication not this process to find healing.  In those circumstances, please seek the help of a mental health professional.

Categories: Depression, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anger and Sadness and Fear, Oh My!

The common thread here is emotions and our dread of them.¬† People generally like to feel good.¬†¬† We are most comfortable with the emotions that fall in the joy realm.¬† I adhere to the belief that there are four main clusters of emotion: fear, sadness, anger, and joy.¬† Any given emotion might be purely in one cluster or a combination of two or more.¬† I use the word “cluster” because under each heading are many variations of that emotion.¬† Anger can be frustration, irritation, or infuriation, just to name a few.

When we feel emotions that fall into the joy category, we have a pleasant sensation associated with them.  All is well in the world or at least we are content with where things are.  We want this emotional state to remain constant and will sometimes ignore reality in an attempt to stay there.  Some of us try to medicate to maintain a sense of joy.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, humans are capable of feeling all emotions.¬† Emotions are not something to be feared.¬† They are a barometer of sorts indicating our reaction to something that has happened or words we have heard. ¬†Our emotional response gives us the opportunity to attune to an internal boundary that indicates our preferences, what we are ok with or not.¬† If someone important to us dies it is normal to feel sad.¬† A person we liked is gone and we cannot be with that person any more.¬† Our barometer says, “This does not feel good to me” and the natural response is sadness.¬† If a person stops suddenly in front of us while we’re driving, we might respond with anger, “It is not OK with me if you put my life in jeopardy.”¬† It’s appropriate to feel that.¬† (How we respond to our emotions is an entirely different topic that I will address at another time.)

If the entire emotional realm  is one which you attempt to avoid, I challenge you to give it a bit of thought.  Think of all the words you can to describe each cluster heading: fear, sadness, anger, and joy.  Notice how the words you come up with describe degrees of intensity.  It might also be helpful to give some thought to the idea that our emotions are a barometer.

The topic of emotions is vast.  We are just skimming the surface at this point.  Consider this Emotions 101.  There will be more blogs to come addressing this far-reaching territory.

Categories: Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Depression: No Simple Answers

The very first post on this blog was an article I did not write.¬† The woman setting up my social media outlets simply found an article that seemed informative to help me get things going.¬† No harm intended and I actually appreciate her help.¬† The article inspired one reader to share her¬†critique of the article¬†which got me to thinking:¬† I’ll write my own view of depression.¬† So here it goes.

Depression can be a bit of a slippery fish.¬† Its origins vary from¬†life experiences¬†to physiological¬†to even a combination of both.¬† It can come and go without notice.¬† It can hang on for interminably long periods of time.¬† Sometimes it responds to medication and people report “getting their life back.”¬† Sometimes the quest for the most effective drug can seem worse than the depression itself. There are people who find that “the power of positive thinking” actually helps.¬† For others the mere thought of changing their¬†perception of things catapults them into even deeper depression.¬† There are no¬†simple answers when it comes to depression.

Some may disagree with me.¬†¬†I have found in my life as a counselor that “always” and “never” have no place in the world of psychology.¬† It seems there are¬†more theories and therapeutic strategies than¬†one can master in a lifetime.¬† There are specialties that¬†come just short of¬†promising a cure.¬† In this field, therapists¬†are¬†advised not to¬†offer a cure because, as we all know, every person is unique and the reasons for their particular issue complicated by that fact.¬† Not to mention that the brain, though far more understood now than in years past, posits a vast realm of mystery.

Therapists want to be able to free clients from the pain that cripples and paralyzes them.¬† Most of us are in this field because we genuinely care about people and want to¬†present what¬†limited knowledge we have¬†to improve their quality of life.¬† In my experience, the one constant I can offer, is myself.¬† My presence, my heart, my compassion and understanding.¬† For my most profoundly depressed clients, that is the one thing that seems to help.¬† Not overnight.¬† There is talking and listening, and often there are tears.¬† Sometimes there are skills involved and sometimes not.¬† I encourage being gentle with yourself.¬† Allowing the depression to be there.¬† To understand it as a part of you but not necessarily as something that defines you.¬† I can’t promise that these will “cure” depression.¬† What I¬†believe is that sometimes a portion of relief is found in¬†someone sitting across from you confirming what you already know: there are no simple answers.

Categories: Depression, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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