Yes, it is that time of year again. Thanksgiving is over and here comes December. You have choices, you can make this holiday work for you or you can have the holidays work you over. Which will it be? For me, I rather make it work for me. So here are some ideas of what I think will make this year happier and more manageable.
Preparing a little at a time and simplifying so that you don’t feel overwhelmed at the last moment. Put music on while working and sing to your heart’s content. Call friends and family up and stay in touch with the people that mean alot to you.
Give to a few worthy causes and give less stuff to your children, grandchildren, other family members and friends who already have enough of everything. This year can be a year of trying new traditions, new foods, less gift gifting and spending money that might be tight. Have some fun things planned, game nights, sing fests, art projects, writing stories of childhood memories, watching old movies, all these types of activities that help the nights be less long and cold.
If you do things that help you have less stress and more fun than the holidays will be a joy and blessing instead of something to dread.
I hope you have a lovely holiday season.
It is almost Halloween which means before you know it, Thanksgiving then Christmas and Chanukah 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 lifetimes. There is death of a family member or a dear friend. The loss of an important relationship, a loss of a job, health, loss of a beloved pet. If they have happened around the holidays or recently you are having to cope with grief while others that you know are getting ready to have 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 might want to keep it more simple, you might not want to go to all the parties or maybe, you do want company. Perhaps lighting a special candle for the person who is no longer in your life might feel comforting.
There is no right or wrong way to the way you feel. If you pretend you are all right when you aren’t, that might feel totally wrong and yet you might feel that you don’t want to bring anyone 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 a talk about how to deal with the holidays. Look around you, there might be something that would be helpful just for you.
Talking, sharing, writing, walking these are activities that can bring some comfort to your sore heart. Take care
If you grew up in a home that was cold, critical and or abusive, you grew up in fear without real attachment to your parents. Growing up without support is tough, but the slant of this article is about holding hope for all those who grew up without proper love and parental guidance.
Yes, I am speaking to you about what you can to to feel healthier and happier. When you grow up in this type of environment there are possible issues you might be aware of: 1. Lack of trust, 2. Lack of stability and 3. Making poor relationship choices.
Learning without being afraid is crucial. All people make mistakes as they are growing up. It is how you learn. If you grew up with critical parents, then you did not have an opportunity to try different things to see what you liked. People learn by trial and error. An example of this would be, it’s okay to try playing the piano and then trying another instrument and seeing if that is a better fit. This is the way you start to figure out what works for you and what does not.
So here you are in the present trying to live an adult life. There might be areas that are difficult for you. How do you move on and create a solid and meaning existence? How do you figure out who is the real you inside and what you want your life to be like?
Trying new things, seeing if it is a fit, checking in with yourself and noticing what feelings come up for you is how you start to become you. Then you start to be able to make true friends and feel like you are part of a wonderful and supportive community.
So, first you have to understand that it was not your fault that your childhood was difficult. There may be some need to grieve for what you did not receive in your life. Next, finding ways to make your life work in a more constructive way, moving forward and knowing that you can have hope, love and partnership in a healthy way and that you deserve it.
Some people do this in their spiritual or religious communities, some people do well working their issues out in therapy.
Good luck on your life’s journey.
What is it, that makes people pick up the phone and call or email a counselor? Why now rather than earlier or later? My guess is that something got triggered in the client, a worry, fear, sadness and for some reason the timing felt right to work on what is going on internally. Sometimes people go a long time with knowing something is bothering them but it feels overwhelming to try to find someone to work with and also some real concern for what will happen if all of the things inside of the person that has been stuffed down comes out? But at some point wanting some relief from the feelings outweigh the worry of what is going to happen in session.
These days a client either gets a referral for a therapist from a trusted source or they go online to look and see who is in their community that is working with the issues that is bothering them, and if they have insurance they check and see if the counselor takes insurance. So the search begins to find someone that the potential client feels is a good match.
I see counseling as a journey to learning about oneself and healing hurts and wounds that are inside the client. So I would look for someone who you feel comfortable with talking to, someone who seems to understand you and your what you feel are some of the problems you are dealing with. In order for real growth and work to be done, there has to be some trust. It is a partnership of therapist and client that will enable the client to grow and learn.
So if you are ready for this, I say go forward and find someone. At times it may seem hard or if not much is going on, trust me, it takes time to make things shift externally and internally.
Good luck in finding a good psychotherapist.
If you come from a family where there was alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness, poverty there is a higher incidence of fear, neglect and or abuse. If this happened in your family, I want to share with you that you may be doing the best you can. If you have been labelled someone who is controlling, there could be a very good reason why.
In order to trust outcomes in life and people, it helped if you came from a stable loving background. If you didn’t and life was chaotic, you might think if you are on top of every detail, if you keep things smooth and steady then bad things won’t happen to the family you have created.
You may be working very hard to have things be just right. If you are uptight, sad, fearful, it is important for you to get support and get help around these very issues. It is no picnic to have to keep everything going and believe me when I say, it does not have to be this hard.
The first person that is important to learn to trust is you. You have inner wisdom but you may need help tapping into it. As you learn to trust yourself and your decisions, there could be a real sense of relief that helps you to let go of the need to control every aspect of your life.
What you may learn over time that there are some things you have control over and many things that you do not have control over. As you accept yourself, you will learn to appreciate what you do have and let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself and of other people in your life.
Sometimes we yearn for people and things that are out of our reach. We want a relationship with an unavailable person. We want something expensive that is way beyond our budget. We think if only and what if constantly, so we are unhappy in our present life. We think if we have this magical relationship or object then we will be happy.
You are not alone, we all do this kind of wistful thinking and at times it keeps us from pursuing what could work for us in our lives.
We day dream and make up movie scenes in our minds of bold and dashing people that want us. We don’t consider if we really want those people who look so good in a one dimensional way.
It can feel like hard work to make life work better for us.
So here is what I suggest: write about what you really want your life to look like in a few years. and what kind of person you want to share your life with. Break things up in manageable pieces and start to look at ways to change what doesn’t work in your life and add what you want. Take that dance, movement, art, music class. Do things that you enjoy and make you feel alive and authentic. Take one day at a time and start building a life that looks good inside and outside. Some days will be better than other days. Some days you will accomplish more some days less but it will feel like you are making little steps forward and that really what this is all about.
Live life to the fullest and be as authentic and real as you can.
When you are in the middle of a big loss and the world seems cold and lonely, writing can help you get through some tough hours. Journaling can help you feel like there is somewhere you can write all the words that are bottled up inside of you. Write and keep on writing and don’t worry if it 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 order into your grieving process.
Grief is hard work.. You never know when the wave of sadness will hit you. You can feel 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, it can feel terrible! After awhile good friends 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 feels more out of control.
Grief needs someway 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 starts to come out.
A journal does not need to be a fancy book. It can be a notebook that you get at the local drugstore or it can be a journal that you buy at a bookstore, whatever catches your imagination, that is the one you should go for. You can take the amount of time that feels right to you every day, every other day or once a week and you and your journal can spend time together.
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.
As I walk around the city I live and work in, I have become more and more concerned and worried about cell phone and internet addiction. It bothers me as a counselor and a human being that I am watching people walking with phones in their hands, interacting with an object. They are not paying attention to what is around them, the people they are with or even traffic. Their faces are down as they play with their phones. I feel that they are losing opportunities to smell the air, look at the blossoms, think random thoughts and or talk with the friends and family members they may be with.
I watch parents under involved with their children now that they have their own toy to play with. I have seen and heard children ask a question and not get an answer, so they ask again and again until they are whining or crying and then they get negative attention for their behaviors. This is also missed opportunities to share the day and what is around them. Being curious about what the children are feeling and what they are thinking about is key to understanding how these little human beings operate.
I am not saying that you have to spend every single second with the people with you, I am just concerned on what is going on around me. I have been in restaurants where someone is on the phone, talking to some one else while a person or people are waiting for them to finish. That to me is rude.
So technology is here to stay and there are so many great uses of these phones and computers. All I am recommending is that you take time every day and disengage with the gadgets and engage with yourself and others. That you limit how much time you are on the computer and how much time your children are playing on their gadgets. Children do not need to be entertained every minute nor do adults.
Please be more mindful of your actions. Take time to smell the roses.
We all have experienced sadness and grief at one time or another in our lifetime. Working with people who have had a difficult loss, whether they have been in grief groups I facilitated or seen privately, the questions asked are:
1. Will I ever feel better?
2. Will I ever get over the sadness?
3. How could this have happened? It seems so unfair
4. Will I ever get back to my life?
5. Is it ever ok to be happy again? There can be a feeling of disloyalty if a person starts to do activities where she or he are having a good time and interacting with other people.
Grieving over the death of a family member or a dear friend, a loss of a relationship or heath, loss takes time and lots of ot. You can feel as though you are on a out of control roller coaster ride. As you dip and twirl, the grief can creep up on you unexpectedly and take you for its demented ride and then drop you like a bag of cement. You can get some relief of your intense feelings for awhile and without any warning, waves of sadness can re-occur.
It is important to understand that:
*You are not crazy.
*Your memory will come back; many people complain they are forgetting, keys, appointments, or other personal items.
*Life might feel different for quite awhile.
Well meaning friends and family might try to minimize your feelings or want you to quickly get back to the person you used to be. You are not a bad or a good person for grieving in your own particular way. Grief takes its own time. People are all different, there is no time line that is correct for each person.
If you feel depressed for a long period of time, let’s say over six months to a year, you might want to get some extra support and/or professional help.
A groups works for some people and lets you know you are not alone with your sorrow. It could be helpful to be with other people going through similar circumstances.
Some people are more private and might not be ready to be in a group due to the intensity of their feelings, they may need individual counseling. You have a right to be sad and also a right to heal your heart. In time and with help you will start to feel better.
What does it mean to grow older? How will we all handle the challenges that will face us? All of us human beings will either grow old or we will die at a younger age. Yet, we rarely talks about what this means to us individually and collectively. The body starts to slow down and refuses to move in the way it used to move. We no longer have the energy and the ability to keep going as we once did.
There are benefits of aging and there are challenges.
We know there are benefits to this process, but because the body no longer looks or acts as it once did, we have a difficult time acknowledging this slow down.
In other societies, seniors are given a status that our society does not give them. Our worth is tied up with our productivity. So when we retire, our value goes down. Males seem to suffer more from this change than females. Males, traditionally have been the bread winners. They have been valued as the ones who earn more money. This has been changing as families are changing and there are more women at the head of their families. But women have also traditionally been more available for friendships and creating communities that are satisfying to the heart.
So what do we need to do, in order to not only survive but thrive? I feel it is important to start facing the challenges of aging way before we reach our 80′s. We need to make decisions to be more connected with family, friends, community, a religious or spiritual practice and we need to keep moving our bodies and using our brains. If we are open and honest and make plans when we are still healthy, then even though we might have some difficulties awaiting us, we will be more prepared.
As we age we are more able to be ourselves, accept our strengths and weaknesses. Accept what we have accomplished and understand that we might never do all that we had hoped to do and that is okay!