Tag Archives: change

First Steps Toward Healthy Change

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Funny Stressed Cat

Funny Stressed Cat

There is no longer any question about the horrific impact varying degrees of stress can have on our all-to-fragile human system. There are experts such as Drs. Lyle H. Miller and Alma Dell Smith, two people who have dedicated their professional lives to the measurement, analysis, and treatment of stress and stress-related ailments and complaints and many others, who can vouch for both the subtle and not so subtle impact that various forms and degrees of stress can have on those most susceptible and overtaken by stress.

In most of these cases, references are made to the emotional/psychological effects of stress and talks about anxiety and how people who are under a lot of stress, physiologically suffer negative impact on blood pressure, aches and pains (very commonly head pain), heart palpitations (leading to heart problems), and possibly even more damaging long-term effects.

World of Stress

World of Stress

And it is very clear and quite easy to understand the direct correlation between change (especially quick changes) and stress. For almost all of us, whenever things happen to cause high degrees of change in short periods of time, the level of stress experienced increases dramatically. And, this makes sense and can be exhibited by the endless supply of advice we are given by those around us to ‘slow down’ and ‘not move too quickly’ through upsetting events. We are advised to ‘count to 10’ so that our feelings of anger and hurt don’t overtake us and we lose balance with rational thought and our over-burdened emotions.

Alternate View of Stress

Alternate View of Stress

We are taught repeatedly in our life lessons that it is smart to ‘give things time’ or to ‘sleep on it’ and ‘let it simmer’ before making any major decisions that will cause a major change. Very few of us go through life without being told by those closest to us ‘don’t rock the boat’ or ‘take your time’. We humans tend to avoid major change…especially when it occurs quickly. We avoid it and advise our loved ones to do the same.

Perhaps one of the most tumultuous times in our humans lives when things change very quickly (whether we want them to or not) is during the period of time we refer to as adolescence:

* Bodies grow and develop, for some practically overnight

* Hormones that we may never knew we possessed, run rampantly through our system – causing emotions to seem like an open mine field

* Social expectations and pressures play havoc even with those with even the most sturdy and consistent of upbringings

And that is just a brief introduction to some of the landscape of the adolescent portrait.

Parent to Teen

Parent to Teen

We can start by adding a dose of understanding to our teenagers. Knowing and realizing just how ‘at risk’ children in the 13-19 age range are can be a wonderful place to start in helping them (and you as the adult who cares the most about them) restore some extremely-needed balance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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The Ebenezer Scrooge Effect

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“Classic studies in positive psychology show that expressing and experiencing gratitude bring peace of mind, satisfying personal relationships, and well-being. 

So what stops us from being more grateful? Research suggests that certain attitudes are incompatible with gratitude, such as an overemphasis on materialistic values. Rather than appreciating what we have in life we are focused on what we don’t have.

Imagining our own mortality can help us appreciate what we have and compel us to set new and less materialistic goals.”  See link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-doesnt-kill-us/201311/the-ebenezer-scrooge-effect

To read the delightful story, see this marvelously illustrated link: 

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24022/24022-h/24022-h.htm  

The Control of Change

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Controls

Controls

I find control is an interesting concept. It interests me because I don’t see myself as a Type A personality or a controlling sort, but with the mindfulness word I have been doing, I am becoming more and more aware of just how often I do indeed try to have things turn out my way.

I am not saying this makes me an awful person, on the contrary, I see it as a very human quality, to want to have things turn out our way. But the question then becomes how do we handle things when it doesn’t. How do we deal with rejection, with not getting things our way?

Do we just take it in stride? I like to think that I do just that, as a part of life on life’s terms and something that is what it is and therefore I need to deal with. But up until recently, I used to try and resist this reality at all costs. One of the most common reactions I found myself guilty of was blaming others in my life who are closest to me; not a very mature or pleasant quality for me to be proud to admit.

But, truthful nonetheless.

Boyfriend-Girlfriend

Boyfriend-Girlfriend

What I understand is that one of the first steps involved is in understanding what I truly am able to have control over and what I’m not. When I was a teenager, I remember having a crush on a senior who I wanted ‘love me in return’ in the worst way. He, on the other hand, didn’t feel the same. But I was not prepared to accept the truth of the situation. I wanted him to care for me and did not understand or accept that my continuing to try to get him to care for me would not change the situation. The reality was that I could do absolutely nothing, from involving myself as the assistant coach for the boy’s baseball team because he was on it, to changing my hair style, to losing weight…none of the changes I made in me, changed the result.

Change is a Process

The next step is being able to determine the difference between what I do have control over and what I might like to have control over, but do not. This was one of the most difficult things for me to learn and accept. AND it still is difficult. Some of the things that I want are things, like with everybody else, that do not happen. So, when I feel I am doing things differently to get them to happen, I easily begin to perceive other people as needing to do things differently as well – – – and why is that? In order for them to help me get my way.

In other words, I am not doing things differently at all – I still am working on getting things my way, not learning how to care for myself better at those times when things don’t go my way. As I said, I still struggle with this one from time to time, but I am more aware of it now than I’ve ever been. I am learning to make myself and my feeling frustrated at the outcome, my focus. I put my energy into taking care of myself and giving myself the permission I need to be upset and frustrated and still love myself even with the less than perfect reaction to disappointment and set-backs.

And by doing this, I care for myself in a more loving way and HAVE done exactly what I needed to do, change the things I truly do have control over; myself, my feelings and my reactions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Waking up to the Hoax

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This video changed my life.

It struck home for me. It showed me a perspective I had, it challenged it and tore it down.

In my culture, to be a viable/normal citizen, you go to school, go to uni, get a 9 to 5 job, get married, have kids, and climb the ladder at work. I never questioned this. Never.

I loved school in terms of the learning side of it. I enjoyed doing homework. I knew I was going to go to uni from the moment I went to primary school. All of school and uni was there so I could get a 9 to 5 job. I’d get married and have kids in there somewhere, then retire after being in the same job for my whole life.

That was what I thought I wanted. That was what I thought was supposed to happen. I never questioned this.

Until I saw the video.

At the time I saw the video, I’d already had three jobs (none of which I wanted to stay in), I’d never been on a date, and clearly there were no kids. At the time I saw the video, I thought I was a failure at life. I thought I wasn’t a viable citizen and people would look down on me for it. I was chasing after the things my culture told me to chase, and I felt like it was all a hoax.

The video showed me it was a hoax, and it gave me permission to not go after something I didn’t know if I even wanted. I’ve realized that I actually probably don’t want kids. If I met the right person and they wanted kids, sure I’m open to the idea. But I’m not even sure I care if I get married or not anymore. Single life is pretty good.

No longer am I chasing after something my culture tells me to chase. No longer am I chasing something I think  should want. Instead, I’m learning to sing and dance to the music of life- appreciating each moment rather than rushing to the next thing.

A Headshrinker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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“In his work on therapeutic change in psychoanalysis, Neville Symington puts forward the idea that a shift from the old routine to a new way of being requires what he calls an act of freedom.  This kind of freedom means having a mind of one’s own, acting in faith in oneself and one’s good objects, and taking a chance.”  See link below…

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/headshrinkers-guide-the-galaxy/201207/just-do-it 

How the world got a little better: People who inspire

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Many of our post focus on how we can do small things to change the world. We have a chance, every day, but sometimes it just feels like a drop in the sea. Be assured, your drop might be a important ingredient the world-remedy. With all those individual and special drops, our sea will never be polluted by debris from high power industries, stigma or “parasites”. Today I want to focus on a blog that has dedicated itself to searching for the good, by also contributing to it. It amazes me how much love and joy one person is able to give, and I am sure he has already inspired many others to do the same.

Does this little step towards changing the world matter? Or is it «no more than a drop in the sea»? Decide for yourself.

GOTTA FIND A HOME

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How it began:

My lungs ached, as frost hung in the bitterly cold December morning air, making breathing difficult. I trudged in the falling snow toward Place Bell where I work, in the city’s gray, concrete, office tower canyon. I dodged other pedestrians, also trying to get to work on time, I noticed a woman seated cross-legged on the sidewalk with her back against the wall of the library. A snow-covered Buddha wrapped in a sleeping bag, shivering in the below freezing temperature. I guessed her to be in her forties. Everything about her seemed round. She had the most angelic face, sparkling blue eyes and a beautiful smile. A cap was upturned in front of her. I thought,There but for the grace of God go I. Her smile and blue eyes haunted me all day.

In the past I’ve been unemployed, my wife and I were unable to pay our mortgage and other bills, we went through bankruptcy, lost our house, my truck. Being in my fifties, my prospects looked dim. It could have been me, on the sidewalk, in her place.

I’ve been told not to give money to pan handlers because they’ll just spend it on booze. I thought to myself, What should I do, if anything? What would you do? I asked for advice from a friend who has worked with homeless people. She said, “The woman is probably hungry. Why don’t you ask her if she’d like a breakfast sandwich and maybe a coffee?”

That sounded reasonable, so the next day I asked, “Are you hungry? Would you like some breakfast, perhaps a coffee?”

“That would be nice,” she replied.

ballongWhen I brought her a sandwich and coffee she said to me, “Thank you so much, sir. You’re so kind. Bless you.” I truly felt blessed.

This has become a morning routine for the past two and a half years. The woman (I’ll call Joy) and I have become friends. Often I’ll sit with her on the sidewalk. We sometimes meet her companions in the park. They have become my closest friends. I think of them as angels. My life has become much richer for the experience.

Throughout the past few years I have come to know many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless. Antonio, slept on a park bench and was beaten, had his teeth kicked out, for no other reason than his choice to sleep outdoors. He is a small, gentle man who has a phobia about enclosed spaces.

Craig, slept on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. I see him every morning and am never sure if, when I lift the corner of his sleeping bag, I will find him dead or alive.

husSometimes, he confided, he would prefer never to awake.

Joy is a friend who fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I have seen her with blackened eyes, bruised legs, cracked ribs, cut and swollen lips. I usually see her sitting on the sidewalk ‘panning’ for change.

I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen. I have started to write an account of their daily lives. I intend to turn this into a book and have it published. That is my goal.

I am writing articles and biographies of Joy and other street people. They have been informed that they don’t have to use their real names, that any profits would go back to the homeless and that it could be a vehicle to say whatever they want to the population at large.

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   Barefoot Baroness on Alphonse Jr. Dies
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Nativegrl77 on One Week Sober
menomama3 on One Week Sob

Coming to terms with abuse

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Coming to Terms With an Abusive Past

By Allie Gledhill

Acknowledging that you’ve had an abusive past isn’t so easy, but it’s the first step that you’ve got to take if you want to come to terms with your past and move forward in your life. Healing from abuse is possible – it is a difficult road but it is definitely worth taking.

Recognising abuse

(Please note some readers may find the following a little disturbing)

Many forms of abuse are obvious to people who observe the abuse with an outsiders point of view. A slap or a punch in the face from a violent partner seems like an unmistakable form of physical abuse. Or, to the reasonable-minded outsider, an adult engaging in sexual activity with a child or young teenager is judged to be an unquestionable misuse of adult power. But if you are the one at the receiving end of it, abuse isn’t always so obvious.

From the moment I was touched by one of my uncles in an inappropriate way, I had a feeling that what was happening to me was wrong. But I couldn’t put my finger on what, exactly, was so wrong and why I hated it so much when Uncle Nathan would come into my room at night and have sex with me. Didn’t I love my uncle? Hadn’t he put so much effort into being the father that I’d never had? And hadn’t I soaked up his attention, his approval and his emotional support? Even when my uncle’s activities with me became violent and I was left bruised and bleeding I didn’t fully understand that what was happening to me was wrong. For years my uncle had been telling me that our relationship was right, that he loved me and that our sexual relationship was my doing because I had been too attractive for him to resist. I trusted him and I believed him.

Wanting to speak out but not knowing how

As the abuse continued, I developed an increasingly burning desire to speak out about what was happening to me. Fear prevented me from speaking out and so the burden of not telling the truth weighed heavily on my heart. It prevented me from living an open, truthful life. I hated that I carried a dark secret and that I had to lie about how I got my fat lip and why I felt so compelled to drink myself into oblivion. At the same time, the idea of telling the truth seemed impossible.

Years later, after the abuse finally stopped, I felt I’d been keeping the secret for so long that I didn’t know how to start telling the truth about it. The idea of telling the truth seemed so massive and confronting that I couldn’t face it. So I brushed it under the carpet, convinced myself that I didn’t need to talk about it and that it wasn’t important that my friends and partner knew about my past. But still the desire to tell the truth would come creeping up and niggle at me, manifesting itself as shortness of breath and sometimes full-blown panic attacks. Eventually the panic attacks became so bad that I reluctantly dragged myself along to an abuse counselor.

Counselling and writing as therapy

Initially, I didn’t share the full truth with my counselor because I felt too ashamed. I skipped over parts of my story, avoided discussing certain events and would lie about my feelings and state that I felt fine about things when I clearly didn’t. I was at the beginning of my healing journey, the start of a long and difficult road that would present me with as many challenges as it would rewards. I didn’t know that the people that I would meet on my healing journey would become my friends for life, that I’d meet other abuse survivors who would provide me with an endless source of love and support. I never expected that old friends who knew me during my years of difficulty would reach out to me with messages of encouragement and acceptance that would touch my heart.

In my early stages of counseling, I was encouraged to write letters to my abuser and to anyone else that I felt I needed to forgive for their part in my abuse. I would sit down and write pages of letters, feeling my anger dissipate and my fears dissolve as I wrote. I never imagined that this exercise would eventually lead me to write my first book, An Angel in the Corner, and that I would experience the joy of meeting and working with other authors and writers.

When I was at the beginning of my healing journey I hadn’t yet come to terms with my abusive past. I didn’t think that I could ever be free from my past and that I would always have to lie about who I really was. I am so happy that my counselors have proved me wrong.

A note of encouragement

After you have been abused, you can never go back to the person you were before. But I believe that personal transformation is possible and that there are wonderful life gifts that can emerge from an abusive past. I don’t know what my life would have been like if I hadn’t been abused and I’m not interested in knowing. My past has made me who I am and I am finally comfortable with that. I have given myself the gift that my teenage self so desperately wanted – the joy of living an abuse free life.

   Allie Gledhill is the author of ‘An Angel in the Corner’