What does being authentic mean? Being authentic means being true to yourself. It means that you will pay attention to what your mind, heart, body and spirit are needing and telling you each day.
Your body will tell you, don’t drink anymore, don’t eat any more, please move me around and if you listen, you will start to feel better.
If you are working at a job that has meaning to you, your mind will be active and curious.
If you can’t find work that really is important to you, it is very crucial that you have meaningful things to do in your spare time.
Your heart will be open and happy if you are living an authentic life and closed and sad if you are not.
All of this impacts your spiritual life.
When you live a life that is not of your own choosing, you can have many emotions that are not making you and your life feel good. You can feel angry, resentful, bitter and sad. These feelings are there letting you know that something is not right with you.
So, how do you change this? First of all, you have to start paying attention to your inner voice. You can take a short period of time every day, five to fifteen minutes or more to read, write, meditate, pray or walk.
These are activities that will re-charge you and help you to tune in to what it is you are feeling and thinking.
For some people art works better. They are visual folks that can work through their feelings by doing different art projects.
People sometimes feel if they don’t have large amounts of time to do this, they won’t do it it at all. I say small amounts of time can still be helpful.
If you do all of this and still need help, you can talk to friends, family, a teacher or a professionally licensed counselor.
You deserve to be the best that you can be.
Here is to life and being authentic!
It never ceases to amaze me how ill prepared we are for death. We don’t know how to talk to our family and friends about it. We shy away from comforting people who are experiencing loss, or we talk to them in a way that does not really help them.
Here are some of my thoughts and tips for talking with people in grief.
1. Be present. What does that mean? It means to pay attention to what the person needs in the moment.
2. Check in. that means periodically calling or dropping by. You are letting the person know that you care and are aware of their feelings. Also they may not have the energy to call you to ask for something, this saves them from having to reach out to you.
3. Ask questions that are specific and appropriate. An example of this would be, instead of asking “What can I do for you? You can ask, would it be ok,if I dropped by on Saturday for a short visit? Would it be ok if I dropped off dinner on Tuesday night? I want to help you with some of your chores, what day can I come?
4. Be silent when your friend or family members needs quiet time.
5. Don’t assume. People assume how people are feeling or what they are needing, and you may be completely off course to what the person really wants and needs.
6. Don’t give advice: You should do this or you should do that or I someone that did this and it helped them. This is not really helpful when someone is grieving ( for most people).
7. Don’t push people to get better quickly. Grieving has its own rhythms and timing. Pushing people to participate or join in activities too soon can backfire on the person making them feel worse.
8.. Grief is personal, everyone has their own way of handling their pain. There is no specific timeline that works the same for everyone.
9. Just let your love for the person in grief surround them. They will know you are there and that you care about them.
When you are in the middle of big loss and the world seems cold and lonely, writing can help you get through some tough hours. Journaling can help you feel that there is somewhere you can write all the words that are bottled up inside of you. Write and keep on writing. Don’t worry if what you are writing makes any sense, just sit down and put pen to paper, or fingers on the keyboard and go for it. If you do this it can help you to put some thoughts and feelings out there about your grief.
Grief is hard work. You never know when the wave of sadness will hit you. You can feel so lonely as you try to make sense of what happened to that special person in your life who is longer there. Whether it be death or a break up, you can feel terrible. After awhile good friends and family members will go back to their lives, and they are not as available to be your sounding board. Using a journal can be another way of expressing yourself and feeling safe when the rest of your life may feel out of control.
Grief needs some way of being expressed. When you write about what you are feeling, it helps because you are paying attention to what is happening inside of you. It lets all of those emotions come to the surface, and it helps you deal with the rampage of feelings that start to come out.
A journal does not need to be a fancy book. It can be a notebook that you got at the local drugstore or it can be a journal that you buy at a book store, whatever catches your imagination, that is the one you should go for. You can take the amount of time that feels right to you writing every day, every other day or once a week.
I wish you the best as you start this new part of your life. Your journal can become part of your expressive life. It can help you in ways that will become more clear as time moves on.
A new year holds exciting possibilities! New chances to make your life more joyful, new relationships, working on being more healthy, more mindful.
What I see as really important is that a new year holds hope that we humans can make better choices for ourselves, do more self-care, and really explore in a more thorough way who we are. It is a chance to check in and see if we are being authentic and living the life we really want to live.
It takes courage to make changes and resiliency to keep going when there are tough things and people in our lives. Courage is doing things that are hard for us and moving through it as best as we can.
Taking small steps to change our routine can help make changes and not feel overwhelmed. An example of this would be to add one walk a week to your schedule. That can help you be healthier and not stress you out.
It is your choice, are you going to be courageous this year and really make changes? Are you going to push through some hard issues? It is ok to have support while you do this. You don’t have to do this alone. Some people talk to a trusted family member, a good friend, a religious or spiritual leader or a licensed counselor.
I hope you take this time to think about who you are, where you have been and where you want to go next in this precious life that you and I are living.
Happy New Year, let’s walk and talk together as the year unfolds!
The long, silent winter is here. the Holidays are upon us and people are running around trying to get ready. I hope you will try to keep things simple as to keep the stress levels down. Winter is a wonderful time and it can lead to the opportunity to be at home; it can also be a time for self-reflection. It is a time to stay warm and cozy. The Stillness of the season implies that there is not too much going on; at least not much is going on that can be seen by the naked eye. All the work is going on underground. When spring arrives all the glorious trees, bushes, grasses and colorful flowers that pop out all were evolving during that cold time.
This is the time when we are working internally, doing a lot of thinking and planning and making changes, silently as we go about our business of transformation.
Winter, this time before the spring, is the time to ask questions:
1. Who Am I?
2. Am I living the life I am meant to live.
3. Am I being the best that I can be?
4. Am I connected in a real way to the people I love?
5. If I only have a short time left on the earth, can I leave feeling peaceful?
Winter is a perfect time to reflect, to plan, and to get ready for the coming spring. Some people use meditation as a method of transforming themselves; others use psychotherapy as a method of coming to terms with who they are, and where they want to go in their lives. Others use exercise as a way of feeling good about themselves. I would recommend some combination of all of these, so that you are dealing with body, heart and spirit.
Families can be the source of joy, comfort and connection, or they can be the source of sorrow, pain and no real solid connection.
We cannot change anyone other than ourselves, but we can change how we react to any given person, family or not.
If your family is difficult for you, then I imagine you have had your share of sorrow and grief. You have not gotten some of your needs met by your family, and you might never thyour needs and feelings acknowledged by them.
I hope that you have received support and kindness in your life from other people. They can be friends, religious/spiritual leaders, people in a support group, a counselor or some other family member.
So here come the holidays with all of the expectations, hopes, dreams, and perhaps worries and concerns. What can you change, what do you want to keep the same and what are your challenges? A few of my suggestions are:
1. Simplify, meaning that you keep things uncomplicated, inexpensive and real.
2. Make new traditions that work for you
3. Included friends who don’t have familiy near by
4. Remember to have fun and joy in the activities that you are involved in.
Your family may not be who you would have chosen if you had the ability to choose your family. You can do as little or as much with them as you choose. Please, do not let any one guilt trip you around areas of, how much time you spend with them, how much money you spend, what foods you choose to serve, and how much you chose to decoreate.
We have one life that we know about and it is in the here and now. Choose to be around good, kind, joyful people and if you choose to be alone, then make it work as well as you can for yourself.
You deserve to have a peaceful and contented life.
If you have experienced the death of a family member or close friend right around this time of year, it can bring up extra stress for you. There it is, lights, carols, music, presents to think about, food, get togethers, and there you are sad, lonely, upset and not really ready to be in the holiday spirit. So what can you do? Are you allowed to take care of yourself during this time of year without feeling you are bringing everyone around you down?
You can pretend for a short while that you are ok, but newly grieving folks cannot keep up the pretense for long. And the question is, why should you? Death is a part of life, but it is a hard part and losing someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with whether it be a spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend is painful You did not have any say in this, sometimes you did not even get to say goodbye, I love you.
So, what can you do?
* Get plenty of rest
*Visit with family or friends that understand how you are feeling, keep the numbers low.
*Start new traditions that feel ok for you. If you want a tree have one, if it is too much, let it go, light a candle for the departed one.
*Talk to someone who understands grieving. There are grief counselors and grief groups, especially around the time of the holidays.
*Allow yourself to feel your sadness and know that you won’t always feel this alone.
You will experience people who will say things that hurt or irritate you. These folks want you to feel better and they don’t always know what to say that will be helpful. Or they ignore your loss and pretend that everything is ok. They want you to be the way you use to be before your loss.
Well, you are different now, you have experienced profound loss and it will take you awhile to feel in balance with life again.
Take your time, be respectful of this loss. Take care of your wounded heart.
It is hard to watch people you love suffer, whether it be from an illness, a bad relationship, financial woes, or addiction issues. It is difficult to see someone struggling in their life, and it is also difficult to stay clear of our own need to help that person. There is also the issue of feeling guilty. If the person we love fails to resolve their issues, and they continue to do poorly, we struggle with the sense that perhaps we should do more for them.
It is important to figure out what you can do for your family member or friend, and what he or she needs to do on their own.
It is crucial to distinguish from helping , from being co-dependent. Co-dependency means you help someone to the point of harming yourself and/or you help someone and enable them to continue their unhealthy behavior.
WHAT IS CO-DEPENDENCY?
Ask yourself these questions to help you figure out if you are really being helpful.
1. When asked to help, can you do it without resentment?
2. Are you jumping in to help before you are ever asked?
3. Are you being asked to do something he or she can really do for themselves?
4. Are you taking care of your own health during this time of your family member’s or friend’s problem?
5. Are you able to delegate or simplify tasks so you have time for your own important relationships?
You might have to work harder than you normally do when a family member or friend needs extra help or support. It helps if you can keep things in perspective and balance.
Remember, you want to be a helpful, loving family member or friend, but you don’t want to risk hurting yourself, risking your own good health in order to keep someone else.
Do you feel butterflies in your stomach? Are you feeling stressed? Do you struggle with fear that seems to be taking over your life? You might be experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety is a feeling, a symptom that lets you know that all is not well with your body, mind and spirit. Its symptoms can feel physical and also at the same time create emotional turmoil.
Physical symptoms can be shallow breathing, racing pulse, trouble catching your breath. When you are feeling this type of anxiety it might feel difficult to calm down, be present and to concentrate on any given task.
Taking time to pay attention to what is going on in your life is crucial to help alleviate some of these symptoms. Breathing helps to feel more grounded, connected and feeling more calm, listening to peaceful music, mediation tapes and participating in regular exercise can also be very helpful.
Another symptom that is not usually talked about in connection with anxiety is boredom. Boredom can disguise what is truly going on and take your mind off of being anxious. It really can be anxiety that is making you feel antsy, roaming aroun looking for something to do.
When people struggle with the big questions of life, such as, what is the meaning of life? Is there a higher power, and does God really exist? Not knowing the answers can create feelings of anxiety. People who are sure of the answers might not experience as many symptoms of anxiety as those who question and don’t feel clear within themselves about the answers.
It can be helpful to slow down in your life, pay attention to what is going in your life and inside of you. If it feels as though you need more than self-introspection, it may be time to get professional help. Talking to a trained professional can be very helpful and useful in figuring out why you are being plagued with these symptoms. Finding a therapist who you can trust can help you figure out what makes sense to you and what direction you might want to go in. All of this can lead to more feelings of peace and less feelings of anxiety.
Halloween is now past which means, before you know it, Thanksgiving, Chanukah and then Christmas will be here. So it is time to talk about losses and how to deal with the holidays that are just around the corner. There are different losses that we all have to deal with over our lifetime. There is death of a family member, a dear friend. The loss of an important relationship, a loss of a job, having health issues, loss of a beloved pet can impact how you feel about the holidays coming. If these losses happened around the holidays or recently, you are having to cope with grief while others that you know are getting ready to have parties, go to parties and get togethers.
What can you do around this time of year with all of the hoopla around you? You can honor your feelings and pay attention to what you need to do. You might want to start some new traditions around this time of year, you could keep it more simple, you might not want to go to all the parties or maybe you do want company but smaller amounts of people around you. Perhaps lighting a special candle for the person who is no longer in your life might feel comforting. Because you know, you are going to miss that person or situation whether you talk about them or your situation or you don’t, it is inside of you.
There is no right or wrong way to how you feel. If you pretend to be all right when you are not, that might feel totally wrong and yet you might feel that you don’t want to bring anyone else down.
If you can share how you are feeling and what you are needing from a few close people, that could be helpful. Local hospice bereavement departments usually have talks and groups about how to deal with the holidays. Look around you, there might by something that could be helpful for you.
Talking, sharing, writing, these are activities that can bring some comfort to your sore heart. Take care.