Tag Archives: feelings

What’s wrong with these emotions?

10 Feb

Here’s a quick rundown of the emotions that society tends to refer to as the “negative emotions” or the “bad emotions”.  Take a minute to see why in fact they are not “bad” and discover the functions they serve.   Author Pia Mellody reminds us of the most important thing to remember.  Feeling healthy emotions is a positive experience.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of our emotions, as long as they are expressed in a healthy, functional way and not an abusive one.  As part of the equipment we need to live life fully and functionally, each of our emotions has a specific purpose.

Anger gives us the strength we need to do what is necessary to take care of ourselves.  Anger enables us to assert ourselves and be who we are.  We can use healthy anger to our own best interest by facing it and expressing it in non-abusive ways (either to ourselves or others).

Fear helps us protect ourselves.  When we feel fear, we become alert to the possibility of danger in our environment from which we need to protect ourselves.  Healthy fear keeps us from getting into situations and relationships that would not be in our own best interest.

Pain motivates us to grow toward increasing maturity.  Normal healthy lives are full of pain-producing problems, and feeling the pain produces growth.  A functional person uses pain as a means to work through problems, heal from their effects, gain the wisdom that comes out of painful situations, and continue in the maturing process.  Repressing the pain and not facing it or medicating it in some way keeps us injured and immature.

Guilt is a healthy warning system telling us we have transgressed a value we consider to be important.  Feeling guilt helps us change our behavior and get back to living up to our values.

Shame gives us a sense of humility that lets us know we are not the Higher Power.  Healthy shame reminds us that we are fallible and that we need to learn to be accountable and responsible.  Shame also helps us to correct our areas of fallibility that impact others and society adversely.  This process helps us to accept the rest of our imperfection as part of our normal, healthy humanity.  We can also relate to a Higher Power in a healthy way that is necessary to live as a responsible mature adult.  We experience shame whenever we notice ourselves making a mistake or being imperfect.

There is purpose in everything we feel.  I encourage you to feel the emotions and use them the way they were intended.  You are not experiencing any feeling that hasn’t been felt by countless others.  Instead of running from it, ask someone else how they moved through it.  Seek guidance from your higher power and get ready to grow.

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The Cleansing

31 Jul

Crash! It hit me and it felt amazing. It knocked me off my feet, I had to hold my breath and wait for a chance to come up for air. And then… I could not wait for another. Wave after wave, I was loving my time in the ocean. The weatherman predicted rain and the waves were proof it was coming. The water was rough and I enjoyed it immensely. It was pounding the stress out of me with every rising foam-filled crash. They knocked me down and pulled me back out towards the sea over and over again. It was a cleansing I could not get anywhere else.

In the brief moments when the waves died down, I did what my friend and I call “doing the Jesus.” I laid on my back, arms out to my sides and my eyes to the Heavens. I was floating and offering in sacrifice every worry, every fear, every last bit of stress. “Take it from me!” I’d float until I was pulled under by the next big wave that came to retrieve my sacrifices and carry them far, far away. It was a beautiful thing that left me exhausted and feeling free.

There is something so spiritual about the ocean and the way it is constantly taking from the shore and pulling out to sea the things we no longer need. It is one clean slate after another, erasing and erasing all that we need to let go. We can give our hardships away to the waves and rejoice in the warm sand knowing they are gone, at least for the while that we are there in the presence of the crashing waves. The smell of the air and the sounds of seagulls are simply bonus.

Self Renovation

28 Jul

I’ve been cleaning and painting a house every day for the last week. It’s my rental house. I have dusted, scrubbed, washed, swept, wiped down and picked at things with my finger nails that I probably shouldn’t have. I’ve taped, cut in, painted and repainted every nook and cranny. I’ve changed light bulbs, put in curtains and air fresheners in every room. The place went from trash to treasure in about 10 days time. To see the change has been nothing short of moving and somewhat emotional.

I was about 5 days in when I began to see the changes really taking place and my first thought was, why haven’t I done this in my primary home? What has kept me from spending money on new lighting, paint and vanilla fragrance in the home I live in every day? It didn’t take much time to convince myself that was what I should do. Another 5 days went by and then I did what I always do, I make meaning. I find a way to relate it to my existence as a human being and learn a lesson. I strongly believe that is what we are all here to do anyway.

If you’ve ever dabbled in any dream analysis and tried to figure out why the heck you keep dreaming you’re late for class, running around naked or your legs won’t work when you’re running from the bad guys, then you may know when we dream about a house, it often represents ourselves. When we explore different rooms in the house, we are often exploring different parts of our being – perhaps our roles as a parent, a sibling, a professional, a creative being and so on. Or perhaps it’s the cynical part, the depressed part, the hurting part, the people pleaser part and the broken parts.

Now back to my task of making meaning and allowing this rental house to represent me for the sake of learning. Before I did the cleaning, the house smelled. It was instinctual to turn away and walk the other direction. Is there anybody that perceives me that way? I’m not asking if I stink, and I’m pretty sure I don’t but I am asking if people are more inclined to approach me or turn away from me at first glance and at first encounter with my energy. Am I positive or negative? Do I attract or repel? And if I did a little more upkeep on my attitude, would I draw more positive people to me? I believe what I put out there comes back to me so it is on my to-do list to refresh my attitude.

The old flooring had stains. It had weird icky gooey stuff. It had years of memories, liquid and otherwise. I picked at some of these trying to clean them up. What kinds of stains am I carrying around? I know when people unknowingly pick at one of my old wounds the feelings come gushing out at a rate that is more than called for in the present situation. In other words, they see me “over reacting.” I’ve been triggered and they don’t know it. I think instead of letting these old hurts continue to embarrass me and cause me to look overly dramatic and then just scab over, I might just try some therapy, some meditation, some healing of the soul. Rumi says the wound is where the light enters so I’ll make sure I don’t make them disappear completely (aka denial) but I’ll take better care to clean them and prevent further scarring.

The most damage and dirt in the house was upstairs. It is also in the “upstairs” of me. It’s in my eyes when I look in the mirror and in my mouth when I say those ugly things about my hair and my body. It’s in my ears when I hear only the negative. It’s in my head, in my thoughts and in the old scripts I’ve repeated over the years. I need a lobotomy. Okay, not really, but obviously it’s time to clear the dust from my eyes and see the beauty in this woman that God created. I will shut this mouth and do what my mother said; if I can’t say something nice (about myself) well then I won’t say anything at all. I don’t know what to do about the way I hear things. I guess I’ll probably encourage those that love me to repeat themselves again and again until I can hear it for what it is. They say I am beautiful, that I am kind and strong and smart. That is worth hearing so I will listen. My brain that has the old scripts is really just that little girl version of me still crying about who knows what. I believe the adult version of me is going to just have to sit her down for a come to Jesus meeting and tell it like it is. I will tell her we’re cleaning house and it feels good.

How You Do Something Is How You Do Everything

22 Jul

I heard this phrase last year at the annual conference for the American Counseling Association. We had invited celebrity and well-known actress Ashley Judd to be the keynote speaker. While I understand she may have some radical political views, I will not be referencing anything of that sort. I only want to share with you a little bit about the powerful messages she so bravely shared with us as she picked through some of her most trying childhood memories and shared her story of recovery.

How you do something is how you do everything. I heard the words and they slowly began to melt over me as if the world were moving in slow motion. I am sure my mouth was wide open as patterns of my life and those I know began to move through my mind. It was as if I’d never heard anything more truthful in my life. Think about the words and how they might apply to you or people you know. When we talk about “doing” we are talking about behavior. Are you always neat and organized and on time and overly structured? Are you a bit messy, frazzled, and always running a bit behind? Would all of your closest friends use the same three words to describe you? Probably, because now I see how true it is, how you do something is how you do everything. Are you a half-asser? Have you ever seen the end of any project? Or do you finish everything you start and give a 110% without a second thought? This is where our labels come from. “Oh, she is such a hard worker!” Or on the flip side, “He’s the laziest guy I know.” Our behavior speaks for us and often represents our character and people begin judging and assuming and lumping us under one big label just to keep it simple. They decide if we’re honest, trustworthy, active, capable, silly, organized, mean, kind, and in general if we are good or bad.

If there were ever a companion phrase that goes along with this one, it would be, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” You guessed it. Because how they do something is how they do everything. I believe in exceptions on occasion, but I rarely chalk things up to random, especially people’s behavior. If you stick around long enough, you will see the patterns. What you thought was random behavior or a one-time fluke can then be filed under “red flag.” You’re next step would be to run in the other direction. Run fast.

I think you’ll find it easy to look around you for patterns of behavior in those closest to you. The harder part will be looking at your own patterns. If you are unable to see it for yourself right away, try to think of things you have heard over the years. What have people said about you? This may be hard because we tend to block out some of the more hurtful comments. If you only heard it once, let it go. If you continue to hear it, then perhaps there is some truth in it.

How you do something is how you do everything. By the time you’re grown, your behavior is fairly predictable and in line with your morals and values. With the exception of chemical imbalances and serious disorders, you are likely presenting yourself to the world in a consistent manner. So… what do people think of you? You don’t know? Find out. There is power in awareness. Become aware of how you are perceived by others. If you don’t like it, change it.

A New Twist on Old Advice

9 Jul

I heard some great advice the other day. It wasn’t new advice and it didn’t come from a stranger. It was a twist on old advice from someone I greatly respect and get advice from all the time. For whatever reason, on this day, I heard it differently. It was simple really. She said, “You’re behavior is all you’ve got. Hold on to it.” It was a twist on, “You can’t control other people, only yourself.” or even, “You can’t control situations, but you CAN control how you respond to them.” I hear this advice all the time. I give this advice all the time.

This time though, it was more about recognizing when other people’s behavior is out of control or at best, not to my liking, I always have the option to control my own behavior. I can make a conscious choice not to get caught up in their rage. I can ignore their “f” bombs rather than throw in my own. I can hear them escalate and soothe myself rather than join them in their chaotic world. If I can manage that, I might even choose to throw in a little prayer for them or at least a “Bless their heart.”

Behavior is observable. We see it and therefore, we judge it. We decide if it’s good or bad and whether or not we like it. What I have managed to forget is that while I am busy judging, my behavior is simultaneously on display and living in the land of right or wrong for others to see. What would they say? Could I defend myself? Am I modeling appropriate behavior for younger eyes that are watching?

People that push our buttons are excellent “baiters.” They dangle the bait right in front of us and it is all we can do to no jump up and take it. We think we’ll be quick enough to grab it and fool them. Get in and get out and we win! The truth is, they catch us, every time. We are hooked and immediately on the behavioral decline right along side them. How do they do it? I’m curious about that, but I know my time is better spent figuring out how not to take the bait. I think I will tell myself that my behavior is all I have…hold onto it. I’m going to hold on for dear life. I am the only one accountable for everything I say and do. I might even bless their heart.

Change a Tire, Change a Heart

30 Mar

Isn’t the universe a funny thing? Sometimes I wonder why I even try to be in charge of my own life.

I met someone recently and over the past month we’ve been sharing with each other the ins and outs of who we are. It was just a few weeks ago when I shared something with him that I share with almost everyone I know. I hate doing “man stuff.” I was referring to the times when I am forced to deal with things that require tools and testosterone. Mostly car troubles, things in the house that need fixing, mastering the pool equipment to keep my pool clean and other things of that nature. So I said to him, “I hate doing man stuff.” As soon as I said it I felt whiney and was sure I should hand over my “equality for women” card. This made me nervous, so I did what I always do when I get nervous, I kept talking… a lot. Thank goodness I did, because I finally said something I needed to hear. It came out of my own mouth. It was my truth. This is what I said. “I hate doing man stuff. It’s so frustrating and I usually end up crying. I mean, I can do these things myself or certainly be resourceful enough to get them done. I just hate doing the “man stuff” because it is a reminder that I am alone.” (Insert Aha! Moment)

Well how about that? It turns out it wasn’t so much the “man stuff” that got me so upset after all. It was that undeniable awareness that I am alone. There is no partner around to do the “man stuff.” There is no other adult in my house to help me navigate the up and down days of my life. It is just me.

So I heard my truth come out and I have to say I was a bit surprised. I am strong. I am independent. I can do a lot of things. These are truths I speak more often. I am familiar with them. This new one was unfamiliar and I wasn’t sure I liked it.

Recently, I shared something with my children and every client I’ve seen in the last two weeks. I talked with them about courage and what it means to have courage. I told them it seems that people these days align courage with acts of heroism. I told them that I believed that courage means being able to speak from the heart, to speak your truth. I said very clearly to each of them, “The bravest and most courageous thing you can do is to ask for what you need.”

Fast forward to this morning. I woke up with a full agenda for the day and a flat tire. Crap! Man stuff! With a heavy sigh I began to problem solve. My first step was sending a text to that same person. I figured this was a good move since I’d already proclaimed my hatred for “man stuff” to him. This would not shock him and he’d be able to tell me what to do.

He replied with a text followed by a phone call. Would you believe he had the nerve to offer to drive across town just to take off the flat tire and put the spare on? I began to think…He must not know I’m strong. He must not know I’m independent and that I can do all kinds of things. Whether he sensed my hesitation or not, he suggested I think about it and said he’d call me right back. And that is when it hit me. Damn you universe! I hear you loud and clear. It’s time for me to take my own advice. It’s time for me to own a new truth that I have so adamantly tried to push on to everyone else. I really didn’t think “I need help” fell in line with “I am strong, I am independent, I can do all kinds of things.” Well it doesn’t, unless you have courage. The courageous ones know that getting your needs met doesn’t make you weak or dependent.

He called back with his offer still standing. I accepted. I also told him how extremely difficult it was for me to ask for and accept help. He said he understood and was on his way. He arrived, he changed my tire and he forever changed my heart. He was the teacher I needed in the moment I needed him. He gave help without judgment and thought no less of me. It turns out that I can do all kinds of things including having the courage to ask for what I need. Thank you universe and thank you James.

You Teach People How To Treat You

19 Mar

As you read the title of this blog, I don’t want you to think that starting now you should begin teaching people about how you want to be treated. The title is meant to inform you, that this is already happening. When you understand that you teach people how to treat you, you can begin to determine your own accountability in relationships, you can stop pointing the finger and you can recognize your role in what went wrong.

When a relationship is in trouble and/or falls apart, both parties can easily agree that something went wrong, but they find it much more difficult to agree on who is to blame for the relationship’s demise. I am not suggesting to you that finding the culprit be your end goal, but if you are going to take the time to look at the two parties involved, you might as well ask yourself if you have done your part by teaching your partner how to treat you.

Some people are famous for keeping the peace. They say things like, “Whatever you say, Dear” and “No, really, I’m fine.” The reality is these peacekeepers are not feeling very peaceful on the inside. As they stay tight lipped to avoid conflict and drama, a storm begins to brew. The resentment builds, the anger increases and before you know it they say something ludicrous like “He never listens to me or considers my feelings” and “She doesn’t even know when I’m upset.” Hmmm… I wonder why.

Boundaries. They are not recognizable to others when we don’t enforce them. In fact, they become invisible and unknowingly trampled upon.

Feelings. They are not understood by others when we don’t communicate them. In fact, they become lost even within ourselves.

Thoughts. They are not valued by others when we do not share them. In fact, they disappear and are replaced by the thoughts of others.

Expectations. They are not appreciated by others when we do not express them. In fact, they slip away and often leave us feeling disappointed by others.

While it can be scary to set boundaries, I assure you, the boundaries you set will serve their purpose in bringing some people closer and pushing away the ones that needed to be pushed. When your boundaries are clear, people will know how to be in a relationship with you.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, we leave in a world of “doing” where only behaviors can be seen. Unfortunately, behaviors live in the land of judgment and in the land of what is right and wrong. Most people are not trained to see the thoughts, feelings, and expectations behind the behaviors. There is a function to every move we make. There is a feeling behind every behavior. I guess it’s an option to leave it up to your partner to try to guess the function of your behavior, why you might be stomping around the house mumbling under your breath, or why you quietly cry yourself to sleep at night, but I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, I’d say it’s unfair. Chances are, they’ll guess wrong, that will likely stir up another feeling inside you that you aren’t willing to share and then the cycle continues. It sounds exhausting to me. For those of you living this way, I bet you’d agree that it drains you on a daily basis.

I wonder what it would be like to find your voice. What would it mean to share your thoughts, feelings and expectations? What might happen if you established and enforced some personal boundaries? Wait… I know this one. You would be teaching people how to treat you.