Thursday, April 19, 2018

Healing Your Loneliness

To transform the emptiness of loneliness to the fullness of aloneness. Ah, that is the secret of life. Sunita Khosla

We all know what loneliness feels like. And each of us perceives this in our own unique way. Some equate loneliness with being alone. But while both offer opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth, loneliness is suffering, and solitude of itself is simply being alone and need not involve a state of loneliness.

Loneliness involves a sense of loss and/or separation, and may come from many sources: loss of a loved one, the empty nest, illness, isolation, rejection, a major move to a strange place, etc. A shy person may lack social skills, and becomes isolated and lonely. Maybe you've always been lonely, and you don't know why. It just feels like a piece of your heart is missing. For some people, loneliness is the result of a childhood experience that left them unloved and alone.

When I was 6 years old, my father died, and it left a hole in my heart that was filled with loneliness. For most of my life I fought it. But that only strengthened its presence until, with help, I was finally able to let it go. I'll always miss my father, but I no longer feel that deep pain I lived with for so many years.

Involvement with others is the single most important factor influencing our health, well being, and happiness. We humans have a strong need to experience personal connections. And any type of isolation causes psychological problems like fear, abandonment, loneliness, etc. And reaching out becomes more difficult. In our present world, advanced technology greatly reduces meaningful interactions with others. People become attached to their hand held devices that provide only written words without a voice to communicate. This situation has become the norm, but it can lead to a sense of isolation with less time, or inclination, for really meaningful relationships.

No other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely. Randi G. Fine

Evolutionary Psychologist Robin Dunbar speaks of healthy interactions with others, and says, "On their own, words are slippery things. It seems essential to have face-to-face interaction if you're going to build a relationship with someone that has any meaning. You get more information from the way that someone touches you, about how they see you, and how they see the relationship between you than anything they could ever say."

Lonely people may feel no one cares, and some give up. But there are always ways to deal with loneliness. Sometimes it can be healed...Sometimes not. But it's always worth a conscientious try. First accept loneliness as where you are now. Then it's no longer your enemy. And if you work toward change with intention and commitment, it can bring a letting go of limiting beliefs, and lead to freedom and purpose in your life.

We need to communicate our thoughts and feelings, so find someone who's willing to listen. If you don't know a listener, see a clergy in your place of worship. Don't have one? Then get one. They have good hugs there too. Otherwise find a counselor. But no matter how you feel, reach out to a few trusted people and start communicating. Even a pleasant hello is a good start.

Go within and talk to your loneliness. Search for answers, and Clarify the cause of your lonely feelings. Did you experience a loss? Is it from your childhood? And is there a situation you have power to change? If so, devise a plan with intention and commitment. If not, soothe your inner child's pain, and continue inner work with patience and faith for healing. And ask yourself what you can learn and how you can grow from this experience.

When you're ready, affirm your strength and give loneliness permission to leave. Bless it with peace, and replace it with a period of solitude where you can communicate with Spirit. You've never been separated from this inner love and comfort, and it will sustain you now. Then reach out to others with love from your heart. And allow yourself to receive love. Loneliness will have nowhere to live, and it will leave you. And you will find peace.

I wish you freedom to be your beautiful self.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

You Can Have A Second Childhood

In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play. Friedrich Nietzsche

Laughter contains powerful energy--the kind that transcends pain, dries tears and heals wounds--the kind we experience during one of those, maybe rare, second childhood moments when we let our inner child out to play, and with every giggle we feel joy in our heart. Allowing our inner child to express in a second childhood promotes health in our lives in many ways.

To me, children are fascinating. They haven't yet learned to dwell on regrets from the past and miss today's blessings. They experience both pain and sadness in life as we all do, but most seem able to bounce back, live more in the present and savor the good times. They're curious, creative, funny, and forgiving. We all have that inner child, but many of us lose that spirit when we grow up and feel driven to express only as responsible adults according to an acceptable image. To do otherwise would not be proper. Or maybe we get so busy we forget what brought us joy as children.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Pablo Picasso

A few years ago while sitting alone on a bench in the park just reading and taking time out from a difficult week, I heard unusual footsteps on the sidewalk coming my way. They sounded light, almost musical. I looked up and saw a child about 5 years old holding his mother's hand while he skipped along to a certain beat all his own. When our eyes met, he broke into a giant smile, and I acknowledged with a smile of my own. No words were spoken, but we didn't need words. Our smiles remained as he passed. And we expressed joy together until he and his mother took a turn, and we lost contact.

For a little while, I was a kid again, and I recaptured that inner child part of me that doesn't come out often enough to laugh and play. I wanted to put the experience in my pocket and take it out whenever times are hard, when I need a second childhood moment to turn a painful challenge into a time of hope.

Once in a while I let my child out and do silly things, but not often enough. So I think I'll let her out more often. Of course I can't stand on my head or walk five miles to the old swimming hole like I used to. But I can still play music and dance around the house, or play in my yard in the rain, or laugh at myself when I look in the mirror instead of moaning at what I see. And I don't have to eat brussels sprouts if I don't want to.

Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child's eye--it is very beautiful. Kailash Satyarthi

What do your childhood memories hold for you? Did you ever make an airplane from a piece of paper, or fly down a snowy hill on a sled, or swim the ocean in a kiddie pool, or get mad at a playmate, then laugh together the next day without judgment? And did you say your prayers and give hugs to someone every day? Maybe not. Each of us is unique, and we have our own memories. And those memories may contain some pain and sadness. But how wonderful to create a second childhood moment and experience some of the joy that was there in spite of some of the pain that was there too.

You can have those second childhood moments. Allow your adult self to forgive and release any childhood pain and sadness you may feel from the past. And invite your inner child to come out and play. Just have fun acting like a kid again in any way that's yours. And relish those moments with that part of you that knows how to laugh and feel the joy of living. Then when someone shakes their head and says, "You must be in your second childhood," you can grin and say, "Absolutely."

I wish you fantastic second childhood experiences.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Staying Sane In Stressful Situations

I've heard that problems come in threes, and I recently had my three. First I was ready to copy an important paper, but my printer was out of ink. Okay. Get more ink. But I forgot how to insert a new ink cartridge. So I got out the manual, studied, and did it right. That wasn't so hard after all.

Then feeling smug about my first ordeal, the second one appeared. My land phone had been giving me less and less time to talk before it beeped and then cut me off. Finally, it just died. I know about people, but I'm a dummy with mechanical stuff, so I got out the manual. Manuals are so smart. They know everything. Well, I learned that phones need new batteries. Duh. So I got a new battery and solved that problem.

Then my third challenge came when my A/C wasn't putting out cold air. Now that was really out of my league, and I couldn't remember if I ever had a manual to solve that one. I figured a repair person wouldn't need a manual, but they can be expensive. However, sweat running down my back convinced me there was no other way. So I called a brilliant repair person, then sat under the cool air  reassuring myself that it was worth every penny.

By now I was sick of feeling stressed out solving problems, one after another. I know what to do with stress, how to manage it, or even eliminate it, but that's hard to do when you're in the midst of a crisis. I realize those weren't big crises, but don't they seem like giants when you're confronted with them, especially when you're one manual short? I envy people who can keep their sanity even when vultures are descending to eat their young. We could take a lesson from them. The people, not the vultures.

So now I'm retrieving my little Mental Stress Manual to remind me to pay attention the next time stress attacks me. I've been through some biggies in my life. Handled some well, some not so well. And if you ignore stress or don't know it's there, it can really do a number on you. You just gotta be prepared.

So here's how my little Mental Stress Manual says to handle stress in any situation. You have to catch the stress before it gets full blown, because full blown is too late. Right before you feel the stress, you'll feel a very subtle knot in your belly. Sometimes a knot in your belly is from something you ate, but with stress, it can come from something you're thinking about. On the outside it can come from another person and/or situation. And it depends upon how you're responding. Do you feel capable to handle whatever's happening? Or are you caught up in pangs of concern over the happening? If it's the latter, and you feel that knot, you better get busy with your stress obliteration technique. It's a monster if you let it get out of hand. And it's a lot more difficult to solve a problem when you're stressed out. You can begin with a few deep breaths to get you on the right track.

One of the best lessons you can learn in life is to master how to remain calm. Catherine Pulsifer

1. Identify the beginning of stress (the knot) and talk to it. "Hello. I know you well, and I want you to know that I'm not at all afraid of you. I decree that no matter what you do, you have no power over me. You're no more than a fly on a horse's rump. And I'm the horse. I have the power to handle any situation in a calm, peaceful way, which I intend to do. So you might as well leave now."
2. Whether the situation is internal or external, picture an image of something that represents peace to you. ie A dove, a white aura, angels, balloons floating in the air, a beautiful sunrise, whatever has meaning for you. And associate with that peaceful feeling as the stress loses its power, or better yet, doesn't even materialize.
3. Express gratitude. No matter what the result, express gratitude. 

The more you do this, the more effective it becomes. And if you forget, like I did, you can even create your own Mental Stress Manual and start over. Stress can be a stubborn critter, but you can be stubborn-er, and turn it off. And you become stronger with each experience.

I wish you peaceful encounters in your life.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

How To Let Anger Work For You. Part 2, Taming The Tiger

Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into power which can move the whole world. William Shenstone

As you go through life, whatever you encounter demands some kind of response. And the way you perceive and interpret external and internal situations dictates what each response will be. Most of your responses are automatically just daily routine. But when a situation produces a strong emotion like fear, frustration, loss, insecurity, or hurt, anger may follow. And you let the tiger loose on someone or some thing. Deep down you know it doesn't solve anything, except maybe give you a false sense of satisfaction and power. But you still go there. Perhaps you've actually given it power over you.

During my years of angry outbursts, when I threw a chair through my backdoor screen, or slung spaghetti against my kitchen wall, or all my other angry episodes, I believed that lashing out would stop my pain. But it left me exhausted, and I still hurt inside. Then I learned there's another side to this phenomenon. Anger can be useful if you use it as a tool for positive change rather than a remedy that doesn't work. Yes, it needs to be controlled, but it can help you grow and find more peace in your life.

Anger is pure energy, and you can work with it to your advantage. If you see anger as a teacher, you can use it as a catalyst to help you understand your fears and correct your faulty beliefs and perceptions, the real causes of your anger. The better you understand yourself, the better you're able to deal with life situations.

Anger is a warning signal. It points to problems. Meloday Beattie 

Anger doesn't stand alone. Anger is a symptom, and its presence is always a clue that something inside needs your attention, some emotional pain crying out for help that you need to work through. So when you feel anger building, pay attention, and change your focus to resolve issues and find peace that you may have missed without this intervention. It can teach you to look inside and begin your search for answers through inner and outer work. As you do the work and changes take place within, your anger will gradually diminish, even disappear.

Inner Work
1. Begin your search within for answers.
Write letters to yourself with questions: What am I afraid of? What in me feels threatened?
What in me needs changing? What situations make me angry?
Recall times when you were angry and, without judgment, analyze what you were feeling then...fear, panic, anxiety, sadness? Be clear about what you remember. 
Write down whatever answers you discover.
2. Clearing painful feelings.
Confront each answer with solutions for positive change, and work on ways to create the changes
you want. Emphasize peace, strength, power, etc. You might address your painful feelings to release them like, "Now I release you with love." Or use affirmations, "I let go of the pain. I am free." If this process seems difficult, take some breaths and repeat. It gets easier.
3. Forgive others who may have hurt you. And forgive yourself for not being perfect.

Outer Work
1. Stopping anger.
When anger appears, listen to what it's telling you. Then quickly stomp your foot to get rid of it with a key word that has strong meaning for you like, No, Stop, Whoa, etc. Repeat several times until it weakens and maybe stops.     
2. If anger remains, repeat step 1 again and refocus with affirming statements. "I have a right to be in control of my actions, I take back my power," etc. Use whatever stops the angry feeling before it becomes full blown. Now you're on your way to taming the tiger. Work with it until it gives up.

Anger may totally disappear, but if it still pops up once in a while, use your outer work and release it by doing something active. I do my best house cleaning when I'm angry. Ride a bike, run around the block, clean the car. Once you learn to identify and better deal with inner problems, anger won't visit you as often. Just be happy.

I wish you peaceful days ahead to be your special self.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

How To Let Anger Work For You. Part 1

Dear Readers, Today we're living in an angry world, and some of it can rub off on us causing discomfort, even pain. But anger doesn't have to be a bad thing when you understand it and know how to make it work for you. In the past I published a blog post on that subject, and would now like to share it again. Hopefully, it will turn some jangled nerves to more heart felt peace.

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled. Marshall B. Rosenberg

The pot of spaghetti slammed into the wall, and I watched my supper run down onto my clean kitchen floor. I stomped my feet in it, and then got a hammer and a box of nails to repair the backdoor screen through which I'd just thrown a chair. I already needed to buy a new lamp. The one I threw across the room last week was beyond repair.

That was me--way too often--for too many years when repressed anger broke down the dam and gushed through with a mighty force. I know about anger. When I was a child, I was forbidden to show anger. But it had to go somewhere, so it seethed inside, waiting until I became an adult and could let it loose, uncontrolled and very painful.

Anger is a complex critter. When projected outward, it becomes destructive, sometimes even lethal. It can ruin relationships, careers, even property, as in my outbusts toward whatever inanimate object was within my reach when the monster reared up inside. Society tells us we shouldn't get angry, and if we do, we should just suck it up. As if stuffing it down somewhere inside is going to dissolve it. But when anger is repressed, it can cause ulcers, blood pressure imbalance, heart disease, any number of illnesses. On my 30th birthday, I vowed to never have another angry tantrum. And I didn't. But then my anger turned inward, and caused severe depression.

According to Marion Ross in her book, 'Removing Your Mask', anger is a specific form of fear at a very deep level, and most anger shows that people's internal and external realities are not in balance. The real message of anger is almost always about one's own beliefs, perceptions, or actions in a given situation or with particular people, not the situations or people themselves. P 194-195.

Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. Eckhart Tolle

So what causes anger? Where are you hurting?

Sometimes repressed anger will surface without a conscious reason. But anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you or others are being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something--look what they're doing to me, or that other person--or that you've fallen short of your standards for yourself--I'm so stupid. I should have done better. These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem issues, needing to feel secure and safe, your own imperfection, loss of something in your life, your sense of caring for others, or something as simple as a need to be right. For some, being wrong means invalidation of self, but being right provides a false sense of power.

When a situation arouses an inner fear, you may perceive anger as a way to deal with a situation, sometimes just to let off steam like throwing a chair through a screen door. Some of your perceptions may be accurate, but lashing out in anger is not the answer. Anger is a natural human emotion, and it can kill you or save your life, depending upon how you use it. But you must use it wisely for it to work for you instead of against you.

Next week  in Part 2, I'll go into some ways to tame the tiger and put you in control, ways to allow it to help heal your fears and grow in truth.

I wish you a peaceful week.


Monday, March 5, 2018

A Time To Quit Or A Time To Stay. The Choice Is Yours.

In everyday life, we encounter many issues that take our time and energy and guide our life, one way or another. If the car breaks down, we get it fixed; if we lose our job, we look for another; if we're sick, we see a doctor. It's easy to get caught in the rush to keep up, and the load gets heavy, leaving us exhausted. Many people give up and spend years treading water while life slides by and leaves them wondering, "Where's the sunshine?"

All living creatures possess the will toward a meaningful life, and oftentimes this 'will' keeps us hanging on when we're too weak to see a way out. But sometimes life is more than a person can handle, and giving up becomes all there is. And it comes with the stigma of being a quitter. You've heard the classic advice, "Never give up...don't quit...quitting is for wimps." Is is really? What's involved?

There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you've had enough. Unknown

Giving up usually comes from feeling overwhelmed about a situation with no other alternative available. The person becomes exhausted, and can't find enough stamina to keep going, or even make it through another day without rest. They lose sight of their inner 'will' to hang on, and may experience self condemning thoughts like, "I don't have what it takes; what's wrong with me?" etc. And they finally give up. But hopefully to rest and wait for a new day.

Knowing when you've had enough is when you feel unfulfilled, and you no longer see something as worth continuing. It may involve leaving a job you don't like, or dissolving an unhappy relationship; or whatever. But other paths are available, and you have freedom to choose what you'll do. When you've had enough of something, you're able to give it up and seek something better in life.

Don't be discouraged. It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock. Unknown

Another example is a person pursuing a dream their heart yearns for. But they keep running into dead ends, and nothing works out. As time passes, discouragement sets in, and they fear their dream may not be worth pursuing. So they give up trying. But eventually, if that inner 'will' pushes them to renewed hope, they can continue on to fulfillment of their dream.

If you're going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

Recently I witnessed a small tenacious critter refusing to give up. It was a little fly floating in the cat's water bowl on my concrete patio, swimming like crazy to get out. I dipped him out of the bowl with a leaf, and told him to fly. He frantically tried, rolling over, kicking, and flapping his wings, but got nowhere. I watched intently with words of encouragement while he struggled for his life. Twice he flew a short distance, and fell back both times, but would not quit. I wondered how much that little fella could endure, when he suddenly took off flying through the air, up and away. My heart jumped when I heard him thanking me for believing in him. And I thanked him for a lesson learned.

Giving up or staying in is complicated, and a decision to either keep going or give up depends upon many variables in a situation. When you face a dilemma, consider what's at stake. What's the benefit or loss to either choice, how much are you suffering, can you deal with being seen as foolish if you hang on, or a wimp if you fold, and who will be affected by your decision? Will you throw in the towel and give up, or will you choose to get out when you've had enough and search for something better?

"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." Anthony J. D'Angelo

Each day do what's yours in your special way. There's nothing wrong with quitting, but if something is worth continuing, get back to it, and let your light shine through it. You're free to be your beautiful self. You can give up some of the pit stops, but stay on the journey. It's yours, and it's blessed with your presence.

I wish you sunshine always.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Miracles Happen. See Your Miracles With Your Heart

 Dear Readers. We all experience miracles in our lives. Some people only see a small coincidence, but others see an amazing miracle and never forget. Today I was reminded of one of my miracles. And I'd like to share it with you.

Of Course

Sometimes our prayers are answered in unexpected ways. When this happens to me, my initial response is usually one of amazement. But within a short time, I respond with of course and a knowing smile of gratitude.

One such blessing occurred when I worked in Administration for a Mental Health Agency coordinating services in five nursing homes. As a Psychotherapist, I'd worked in various settings, but now my work had become unfulfilling, and I felt overwhelmed and disillusioned. I made a list to satisfy my work needs, but after a week of good intentions, nothing came of it. So when one of the Counselors could not come in to work, I filled-in for her myself and gathered information on new patients to complete our files.

It was late in the day when I entered Martha's room, my last patient before leaving the nursing home. Martha was eighty-one years old, a frail woman with white hair and hazy blue eyes. Her face held lines pinched with time as if she hadn't smiled since she was young. She was oriented and alert, but in a highly agitated state when I approached her. She sat on the edge of her bed wringing her hands and swaying from side to side. She looked at me, but didn't acknowledge my presence.

I pulled a chair over beside her. "It's all right, dear," I said. "I just want to talk with you for a while." She watched curiously as I held her small hands and quietly began to calm her while asking questions for my files. "What kind of work did you do? How far did you go in school?"

He body became still, and she continued watching me. But she had not spoken when she suddenly reared back and asked with serious eyes, "Did God send you?"

Her question startled me, but I considered the importance of this situation. "Well...maybe He did," I answered and smiled.

"Well, I think He did," she said with firm conviction.

At that moment I decided my files could be completed another time, and I became open and receptive to whatever God had in mind for us. Martha began to relax and spoke of times she spent with her children when they were small. Her hands stopped shaking and her face lit up with memories of swimming in the creek, John learning to read, and Billy chasing chickens around the yard. She was engrossed in her stories. And I listened.

In a while, her head nodded, and her breathing became shallow. I saw she was tired, so I suggested she lay back on her pillow. When she was comfortably settled, I moved closer and asked if she could imagine things in her head. She nodded. Then I asked, "Can you imagine yourself a little child cradled in God's loving arms, feeling safe and at peace?"

"Yes, I can do that," she answered, slowly closing her sleepy eyes.

I watched her face for a moment and saw her thin mouth broaden into a peaceful smile. "I have to go now," I said. "But you rest and know that anytime you feel nervous and upset, you can just go inside and be with God, and He will comfort you."

"Mmm hmm." She squeezed my hand.

I left the room and felt my own peace as I stood in the hallway and glanced back at her. Now my work-needs list contained only one item. My answer was clear. I had to work with patients like Martha. Of course, I thought, and felt a knowing smile of gratitude.

Yes, miracles happen. Of course they do. And sometimes they bring a smile. But is a miracle a happenstance? Is it a blessing from God? Is it angels knocking on your door? You interpret them in your own way as they make sense to you. But know when you experience one. And some miracles may even change your life.

I wish you amazing times to remember.