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!
There are four levels to us human beings, actually probably more that I am not even aware of. But I am going to address the levels that I know and think about. What I know to be true is that when we are out of balance, all of our different levels seem to do more poorly.
Our mental level is the part of us that thinks, that part that helps us solve problems and issues. It is the part that helps us with cross word puzzles, adding up numbers, reading, studying and on and on. It is the part of us that sometimes has chatter that is not always helpful to us. It can distract us from our feelings and what we really need to work on.
The physical part of us, our bodies, is what keeps us moving. Sometimes our emotional issues will come out as not feeling well, having headaches, feeling stressed in our muscles. It is important to remember that our bodies are not entities that exist all by themselves.
The emotional part of us contains those amazing feelings that pop up, sometimes without us even realizing that there is something important going on in our lives! Our feelings are the clues to what is happening on all the different levels of ourselves. It is important to pay attention to our feelings they are the gift we have as human beings. These feelings allow us to experience love, joy, sorrow , anger, frustration, envy and so on.
The spiritual part of us is the part that connects us to the divine. It is the part of us that wonders about life and what is beyond life. Sometimes if we don’t pay attention to this part of ourselves, it gets malnourished and shrivels up, leaving us to feel like something is wrong and missing from our lives.
Self-care is not being selfish. It is important so we can do the important work we have in front of us. It allows us to be strong and healthy. When we feel right with ourselves then we can be more effective in our relationships and be more creative at our work place.
Human beings are amazingly complex. I invite you to the life long journey of curiousity, creativity, and self-care as you travel down the path of your life. Here is to a long and healthy life!
If you have a client that you feel stuck with, have feelings of irritation, feel manipulated by, could mean that you are working with someone with a personality disorder. These clients generally have issues with important relationships and can sometimes have problems keeping a job.
These clients usually have trauma backgrounds. They could have been raised in dysfunctional, chaotic families with issues of being neglected and or abused. In order for these children to survive they created false selves that enabled them to some how make it out of their childhood. But now when they know something is not right with who they are or their lives they have created, they don’t know how to get healthier on their own. Something is not working for them.
So they may try to come see a counselor because they are in emotional pain and they want relief.
Our job is to help them develop an authentic real self because their real self is hidden deep inside. They are wounded and they need our help and compassion.
If they are pulling on you to take care of them, if they regress in their behaviors, if they want to be loved, you may be working with some one on the Borderline Personality Disorder specturm.
If the client you are working with wants to be seen, understood, if they hate being vulnerable, have big feelings of shame and feel easily criticized then they could be on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder spectrum.
The reason it is important to be able to diagnose who you are working with is because of the difference in how you approach them.
Working with someone on the NPD spectrum, what you do in the early stages of therapy is mirror mirror and mirror what they are saying. When you have a strong relationship built and trust is there you can start to make interpretations of the clients’ dilemmas.
Working with someone on the BPD spectrum, you do gentle confrontations between the grown up part of them who tries to be responsible and the child part who wants to be impulsive and act out.
If you ask questions, then I will come back and answer them, to the best of my ability.
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 them and you might never get those needs and feelings acknowledged.
I hope that you have received support and kindness in your life from other people. They can be friends, religious leaders, people in a support group, a counselor, or other family members.
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:
2. make new traditions that work for you
3. include friends who don’t have family near by
4. remember to have fun and joy in there.
Your family may not be who you would have chosen if you had the ability to choose. 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 choose to decorate.
We have one life that we know about and that 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 for you.
Some people really dread the beginning of the holiday season. It feels stressful, and sometimes brings up old feelings from those childhood years of scenes from hell or scenes of indifference. People can feel like they have to recreate a beautiful holiday memory every year and work too hard to create it so that they cannot even enjoy the day when it comes.
So, if this sounds familiar, my thoughts and challenge to you, is how can you change this? How can you make it beautiful, serene, and meaningful? I suggest:
1. Change your expectations, if you are alone, create an oasis of peace and beauty for yourself.
2. If you are sharing the holidays with family and/or friends, simplify it so you do not become overwhelmed.
3. If you had very little growing up, you will not make up your childhood by spoiling your children with many gifts.
4. Think about what you are thankful for in this past year.
5. What still needs to be changed and what can you do to move forward in your life?
Holidays will come every year. There is a blend of joyfulness and hype from the media and stores. You get to choose how to spend the holidays.
Remember, you can say no to people, you can take back the traditions you want, or change it around.
I wish you all, peace and good will during this season.
Time is one of the healers
of our hearts’ wounds
As we move through
stormy days and months
the repairs begin
Through our pain
nature moves in
stitching our hearts
We start to see
color around us
Is it really ok
for us to work
Sometimes it feels scary
being pulled back
without the person
As we move
talking baby steps
one minute at a time
one hour at a time
we come back
to our lives
with the understanding
that we have changed
No matter how different
that the love
is still with us
Being authentic means being true to yourself. What does that mean? It means that you will pay attention to what your mind, heart, body and spirit are needing from you each day.
Your body will tell you, don’t drink any more, 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 extra important to have meaningful things to do
in your spare time.
Your heart will be open and happy if your are living an authentic life and closed and sad if you are not.
All of this will impact your spiritual life.
When you live a life that is not of your own choosing, you can have many emotions that are not making 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 15 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.
If you do all of this and still need help, you can talk to friends, family, teacher or a professionally licensed counselor.
You deserve to be the best that you can be. Here is to a life led authentically!