This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"It's A Big Job Being Me!"

Is there a way to make it easier?

This week I've had 2 adult male patients, in very different stages of life say almost the same thing.  The other one was:  "Why does it have to be so hard?"
             (artist, image on right, Daniel Healey, 2008)

It does, in fact take thought and conscious effort to be you---all that you were meant to be or all that you want to be.  At this stage in human development, a happy fulfilled life is not automatic.  In fact, people who shun self-reflection and do expect a good life without doing any personal work are usually the most unhappy, after all.  An uncomplicated example:  If you simply take the first job you land in, after school, get enamored of the money coming in and don't try to discover what work would be meaningful to you, you can find yourself, years later, a misfit.
One thing    that is much more available now to more people is, choice.  You make many choices and decisions along the way that can be life-altering.  Without some time spent searching inwardly and thinking about your choices, your life can fall off course.
Here are some simple strategies you can begin right away that can start you in the right direction:
  1. Highlight your positive experiences
  2. Substitute gratitude for worry and also, for tension
  3. Try to make someone in your family happier
  4. Contribute some volunteer time to your community
  5. Improve your psychological well-being by practicing forgiveness
Two ways that a therapist can help you feel better are to offer a safe place to re-visit some of your past painful  experiences and, instead of feeling alone, scared, or confused, you can associate that memory with a respectful caring guide, with a comfortable protected setting, and a process of trying to understand.
The second way seems so simple but is really profound.  We have found that the easy-seeming act of naming your feelings, putting words to them helps to settle the brain; it lessens any activity that may be going on in your brain's alarm system.  Sometimes a therapist will label the feeling you are expressing, for you, or-at least suggest a label.  If it resonates with you, then you also receive that wonderful moment of feeling understood.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lucien and Suzy

Welcome to my blog!!

 Lush Morphologies by Gary Brewer, 2009

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Beginnings to Come

Ping H. Chen does some spectacular photographs.  He has permitted me to use them to illustrate my blog.  Here is the first of one of his.

"In life, cycles recur endlessly;
think of the seasons, the phases
of the moon, and the tides which
continually change.  Today,
be open to new beginnings to come."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Balancing Act

Keeping your life and your Self in balance takes attention

Keeping  your life in balance means not working too much, not playing too hard, not letting your 'me-time' turn into isolation, not using your physical self so much (in sports or a labor job) that you induce damage to your body, or distracting yourself with entertainment (partying, gaming) in such large doses that your mind turns to mush.  Most of us need or at least could use all of these things but, and this is key, in moderation.

One of the ways to plant the seeds of compulsion and, even, addiction is doing too much for too long, of one thing.  In a previous post, I wrote about how behaviors and substances are sometimes used to escape/avoid, to numb the emotions, or to achieve a false high---leading to dependence.
Most people can not only do all of the above things but, will find them much more delicious and gratifying in small doses  The first bite of a choice cupcake or candybar is divine but as you continue eating, it's almost as if your taste buds become dulled and 3/4 of the way through, that delicious cupcake just isn't as exciting anymore.  Drug addicts sometimes describe the compulsive search for the massive high of the very 1st dose, never again to be experienced.
A beautiful, unusual bouquet of flowers can have a luscious fragrance and be beautiful visually unless you work in a florist shop.  Too much of a good thing overloads our senses and removes the charge.

A lot of people don't like to hear this, the oft offered advice:  All things in moderation.  Some people hear this as a restriction-they want to be able to generate extremes-but actually as referred to in the post So You Want to be Free, you actually preserve your freedom of choice if you don't overindulge.

Today is my birthday.  I decided to begin a new tradition:  A Birthday Resolution.  My resolution is to try to move towards an even amount of work and play in my own life.  I've worked very hard all my life and I have accumulated an array of responsibilities, so, for me, this will be a challenge.  But it will be an effort toward balance.  It reminds me of people who invest in the stock market; periodically, and on a regular basis, they have to "re-balance their portfolio".  They have an investment strategy that they've committed to and they have to re-balance from time to time to keep the portfolio in line with their goal.

Excess isn't healthy.  Overindulgence is what the word says it is---too much.

We notice this imbalance when we see a person who is prone to emotional extremes.  "Experiencing emotions is, of course, a normal part of life, but extremes can induce imbalance and illness..."  Dr, Maoshing Ni.    Impulsive actions can also lead to repercussions.  "When you are visited by emotional extremes, use deep breathing and rest to restore your metabolic equilibrium."  Dr. M. Ni

The old adage:  Think before you speak can come in handy.  (Save yourself from saying something you might regret but can't take back.)  Giving yourself a little time before you respond to another, and before you take action can yield a superior plan.  That's what I find.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Revisit and Transform

"Self-regarding intensity"

"It's that singular drive to revisit and transform, to keep seeing freshly and more deeply, that runs like a river...of forward-flowing energy, constantly pressing on, ceaselessly learning and innovating, discarding and reappropriating, looking forward and backward...and feeling as fully..." as one can.Steven Winn
Such wonderful writing, not about therapy but struck me as beautifully describing the self-actualizing person, the one who is not satisfied with an unconscious life, the one who seeks, the one who wishes to discover-the world, yes, but, above all-themselves.  (For more on the self-actualizing person, read Abraham Maslow)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Know Thyself

That which you have loved with youthful enthusiasm and admired with youthful ardor, that which you have secretly and mysteriously preserved in the innermost recesses of your soul, that which you have hidden in the heart, that you always approach with certain shyness with mingled emotions, when you know that the purpose is to try to understand it.  Soren kierkegaard

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 10-Minute Relationship Miracle

Learning to listen well is one of the most loving and most useful skills we can develop

 Listening, the art of listening, empathy, the importance of listening is something I have written about in a number of posts.  Here, a colleague, Vivian Baruch, has described a technique that any two people can use and develop.  It's one of the things that a therapist might typically suggest for certain couples who come for counseling.  It is, of course, helpful to have a therapist to coach you in using this and to help with the snafus that might come up, particularly at first.  But, it is laid out clearly enough here that if you follow the instructions, it could work as excellent self-help.  Try it!