Monthly Archives: November 2017

Thankfulness

While I try to practice gratitude for everything that is in my life on a regular basis, this time of year I’m always reminded that one of those “things” is the people in my life – my family, friends and clients.

Since I meditate on a regular basis, it gives me occasion to reflect on all that I have been blessed to experience. Much of that comes from you.

I believe who we are is directly related to those with whom we choose to connect on a consistent basis. The fact that each of you have, on occasion, taken me into your confidence and trusted me with your deepest feelings and concerns humbles me. And as I have gone through my own personal issues, many of you have sent positive energy and prayers my direction, and some of you have even listened as I shared. I’m honored to be in your lives and appreciative of what you’ve each taught me.

As we go into this holiday season, I wish each of you peace, love and abundance.

Namaste

Nurture Yourself

Just like anyone else, I get overwhelmed often. I always have SO many projects I want to accomplish, several of which I have started, but had to put aside because of time restraints.  One of my pet peeves is when people don’t finish something they’ve started, so it bothers me to let things sit undone.

Because I am constantly encouraging others to let go of such cognitive maladies, my habit when I feel this way is to allow myself to be open and honest about what I’m going through – both to myself and to others.  Acknowledging our reality is the first step to dealing with it. (There’s a difference between complaining and explaining. When we complain, we usually also blame [ourselves or others], seldom take responsibility to do anything different; then we end up in the very same place soon.  When we explain, we can express our feelings about something without blame; we take responsibility for our part, and make whatever changes we can to improve or avoid the same situation in the future).

Besides, I’ve always believed part of my role is to model how a healthy(er) person manages daily life. None of us are perfect. We all have challenges.  It’s how we face those that determines whether those challenges become problems or new notches in our tool belt.

For me, when I’m experiencing these times, it almost feels as if I’m no longer living my life, but allowing it to live me – and not very well at times.

But our reality is limited only by where we put our focus. My belief is that we are each spiritual beings who have come to this life to experience it fully – good, bad and everything between. I believe we signed up for those hard times that we pray will never happen. We are human beings, but we were spiritual beings first.  When we get caught up in the minutia of the day, we are forgetting that; and our focus is placed on our daily To Do lists and on attempting to control everything and everyone around us.  If we live that way, we’ll always be in search of more.

I won’t promise that we’ll always be happy, even if we can keep our focus on this higher purpose of experiencing it all.  I don’t believe we’re supposed to be happy all the time.  I think life is really supposed to be like a wild ride on a roller coaster – sitting in the front with our hands in the air – not even holding on. Only when we have faced and conquered the obstacles in front of us (and turned them into opportunities) can we truly appreciate how wonderful and exciting life can be.

But we don’t have to work hard all the time to get to that point. There are some powerful methods we can use that really don’t take a lot of energy – just the memory that we need to employ them on a consistent basis.  One of those is the use of gratitude. Sometimes the pressures and disappointments of daily life keep us from appreciating the small things, let alone the big gifts in life. The big ones include family and friends, our health, our minds and our spirits. Learning to self-nurture is an expression of gratitude – which is a form of love. Nurturing is an attitude of unconditional love. Self-nurturing is about loving ourselves no matter what happens, how we look, what we do (did), or where we are. That’s about as unconditional as we can get.

So self-nurturing can help us get into the habit of gratitude. When we take care of ourselves, it shows that we respect and value ourselves. We’re grateful for our lives and the experiences they provide.

Sometimes we worry that if we nurture ourselves the things we need to accomplish won’t get done; if we give in to our own needs, we’ll get lazy and selfish. When you feel that way, give it a shot anyway.

I grew up with a very rigid German grandmother, and lived the first 18 years of my life on a farm, with the mindset that you basically have to be a workaholic if you’re going to be successful. So I know of what I speak. I’ve spent years being proud of the workaholic I had become.

But I have realized the need for balance in my life. Yesterday, I didn’t want to do the things on my list. I wasn’t feeling well; I was tired and I didn’t have the energy to do them, but I have that critical voice in my head that says, “you’re not worthwhile if you don’t accomplish all those things on that list.”

Because I have worked on this for a while, I had a revelation a few years ago. I realized that when I go on to the next level of existence, no one is going to meet me with a clipboard in their hand with a list of all my earthly To Do’s, and say “On November 10th, 2017, you didn’t get all those insurance companies called, or finish the dishes, etc.” I honestly believe at that point, no one will care about all those irrelevant parts of my existence; most of all me.

So yesterday, I decided to nurture myself anyway. I sat on the couch and read, I meditated, I watched some TV, I worked out, and I had a manicure. When I finished, I felt like doing some of the things on my list. I accomplished them and even did a little more. I even began a chore my husband usually handles – one I really don’t enjoy doing.

Nurturing myself didn’t make me lazy or ineffective. It energized me, and helped me feel more effective. And I felt worthwhile the entire time – both while I was accomplishing something – AND while I was taking care of myself – because I’m worth it!

So are you!

Dealing with Resentments

Here’s a Gospel According to Patti: Resentments are hardened chunks of anger (anger you’ve carried around so long it’s become hard and difficult to chip away). I’ve never known a resentment that was truly justified. We try to rationalize it, but the reality is that when we resent someone or something, it only hurts us. (An old-timer in the AA program once told me, “If you find yourself living with a resentment towards another person, drive by their house at 3:00 am to see if they’re up worrying about it.”)  The reality is that the other person might not even know they did something to upset you.

Anger is often a smokescreen emotion, meaning it’s sometimes used to cover up other emotions that make us feel more vulnerable, such as hurt, fear, embarrassment, shame or guilt.

I don’t believe any emotion is negative, but of those that suck to feel, anger is a little more socially acceptable to express (at least more so than the others), because it doesn’t make us feel vulnerable.  Anger gives us a powerful rush of adrenaline. But while it can feel empowering, it usually stems from a sense of victimization or inequity – or it comes from someone or something not meeting our expectations (possibly ourselves).

At the psychological level anger, resentment and blame can also be used as defenses to ward off those feelings of vulnerability, which we perceive as weakness.  Giving up our anger can feel like giving up a piece of ourselves or a piece of our perceived power. We can experience it as a loss of self – if so much of us is invested in it that it’s become a part of our identity.

And if we feel deeply wounded, it can feel like our anger, resentment and blame are all we have that’s ours to hold onto – to keep us from falling apart – to protect us from possible future attacks.

I’ve sometimes encouraged individual clients to visualize their resentments as an invisible bullet-proof vest they wear. When they come into therapy, I ask them to take off that vest for the duration of the session, so we can talk about – and allow ourselves to feel the anger or the emotions under the anger. Then they can put it on again as they leave to protect themselves if they need it. Eventually, they need the vest less and less, as they get in touch with the human/vulnerable parts of themselves, and recognize they have done themselves a disservice.

Sometimes I believe anger is justified and healthy to feel – especially when it’s about an injustice committed towards you or others who might not be able to stand up for themselves as easily as the perpetrator(s) (ie, social injustices). Or if someone’s been extremely depressed and not caring for themselves well, often anger emerges once they begin the process of recovery. This is healthier than holding it in; it usually means there’s a surge of energy that wasn’t there before. It’s a sign of progress, but it needs to be a temporary hangout until the person can move on to experience other emotional environments that allow for more freedom and peace.

But again, anger is not necessarily resentment. It’s a root of resentment; so when a person begins to work through the issue, (s)he might need to process the original anger that spouted before recovering to a more peaceful existence. Resentments not only keep us from connecting with others, they keep us from our own truth.

As long as a man bears resentment in his heart, peace will never be his.