The Unwelcome Change – Grief

Little did I know when I wrote my last blog post on February 27th that change of the serious, unwelcome kind was coming our way.  However unwelcome, unplanned and uninvited, it did arrive with the unexpected illness and death of my boyfriend’s mother, Amy.

An illness, which looked manageable, turned into an early morning phone call, the rush into Mass General to be greeted by a kind Argentinian doctor bearing terrible news.   48 hours later, this news led to difficult decisions and, ultimately, Amy’s passing.  Change is now upon us.  My partner in crime for over 31 years, is now without his nuclear family – his dad gone long ago at 48, his only sister back in 2008 at 43, and now his mom.    His life has changed again, forever. My heart breaks for him.  Still, he is stoic and, frankly, this worries me – a lot.  Men are given such a narrow range of acceptable emotion by society that one can hardly blame them for doing what no one has taught them or allowed them to do and that is express all of their emotions.  I believe this is one of the reasons men die sooner than woman and I find it unacceptable.

For my gentle readers who are men, please tell me what you most wished for during the times you experienced grief?  How can we, the women who love you, be there for you?

For my readers who are women, what has been your experience with this?  How can we best support each other during these times of unwelcome, unwanted change and loss?

 

 

 

The dirty C-Word. Change.

Sometimes we invite change into our lives and sometimes we have it hand-delivered, via express mail, by a big hairy postal worker who stands outside our door pen and letter in hand demanding a signature to ensure that we understand that THIS IS SERIOUS.

Suddenly, we are tossed out of your comfort zone into something very much resembling a Discomfort Zone and our only thought – How did this happen?   We may valiantly fight the inevitable and we often do for weeks, months, years.  In the end, resistance is futile and nothing more than an illusion designed to intimidate us into not accepting reality.

How else can we respond when we are unceremoniously and without the tiniest bit of warning kicked out of our comfort zone (even if it wasn’t really that comfortable at all)?  We can cry, complain and reminisce about how great it all was (usually it was not, but we have that magic for self-delusion that speaks so loud and persuasively).  Or, we can ask ourselves expanding questions and embrace the change.  Though, truth be told, we may embrace it very reluctantly at first with about as much enthusiasm as reaching bare-handed for a steaming mound of dog poop.

When it comes to embracing change – especially unsolicited change that has been forced upon us, the first steps are the hardest.  While standing at ground zero trying to figure out what is happening, ask yourself a few good questions which might include something like these:

  • How is this change forcing me to reinvent myself and my life?
  • How is this the kick in the pants just what I may have needed to make my life (even) better?
  • What is possible for me if I step up and grow?

Of course, there are other temporary solutions at our disposal.  We can drink or take drugs to sedate and control ourselves.  And, of course, we can poll the universe of our exasperated friends to get millions of conflicting opinions about why we got treated so badly by life.  This might give us time to get others to buy into our story and attend our pity party which probably feels very much like a wake to attendees.  But, before long, people will run when they see us – our pity party turning out to be very little fun after all.

Being kicked out of our comfort zone is another word for CHANGE.  That dreaded word we all hate even though it one of the only constants in life.  When change comes calling – especially unbidden or at bad times (generally they are all bad unless we are broke and suddenly win Power Ball – Yipee!) we must first grieve the loss of what was.  Grief is no laughing matter.  In fact, it is said that for every tear you cry you add hours to your life.  Therefore, cry away, do not be ashamed – tears are healing.

  1. Give yourself time to grieve.  There are multiple stages to grief (Google it if you don’t believe me) and, depending on your situation, it may take a few hours or several years to grieve.  Be patient, feel it all, life is messy and hard at times.  That which we resist – persists.
  2. Be good to yourself.  Avoid beating yourself up and wait a while before analyzing what you could have done better to avoid this – if that is at all possible.   If you can’t do this alone get a coach or a therapist, it’s perfectly okay and may be necessary.

(Not sure how to create self-comfort?  Email me for information regarding my 30-day program Pocket Comfort program designed to teach you how to support yourself through difficult times.

  • Ask “What is Possible from here? What is good about this?” – Once you have calmed down your overwhelmed mind and can look forward even just a tiny bit, ask yourself what is possible from this new place?
  • Take action! It might take some work to get from here to there – in fact, it will.  What can you do to take charge of your life and shape the new direction to one aligned with your highest and best wishes?

As humans, we will put up with a lot for certainty and predictability in our lives, so when we start to move into uncertain areas it is very important to stay open and adopt a curious attitude.   Certainty and predictability are comforting, but they are boring too.

Letting go of what was is hard.  Not everyone can do this alone.  If you need help, email me and check into availability in one of our state of the art coaching programs designed to help you surf the waves of change and arrive on the beach of your dreams.

Oh, and you can find out more about coaching at:

https://www.ace-up.com/diane-m-lapine

Surfs up!  

Family Systems, Indoctrination and YOU.

Many theories of psychology such as Family Systems Theory and Family Constellations Theory hold that the family system is the most important organizational system in our lives.  I think most of us would agree with that, theories aside.  The family system is responsible for our early and most impressionable years of indoctrination.  Indoctrination might seem  like a strong word, but I think it is accurate.

Indoctrination is the process of forcibly inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine) by coercion.  Wikipedia

So, it is indoctrination that I will use to emphasize the strength of impact of our early learning.

What we learn as babies and toddlers is pre-verbal for most and is what I will call implicit learning – though there is certain to be controversy in that regard, since the definition of implicit is somewhat up for debate.  I am using it to mean how we learn without words, but with feelings.  We learn how people feel about us and we internalize that internal emotional temperature – an emotional set point of sorts.  We are little sponges soaking in the emotions of those around us and getting a fundamental read on life and how we are perceived.  Are we good?  Are we bad?  Are we loved?  Are we hated?

These pre-verbal messages are stored deep in our sub-conscious.  By the time we are 8 or 9, we know our place in the world, who we are, how much we are worth and how loved we are.  As we move on in life, we recreate the world of our childhood.  What I mean by that is we recreate the emotional temperature.  If we felt loved and wanted and valued, we find a future that matches this – it is a future resonant with our deeply inculcated beliefs.  If we do not feel valued, suffer from physical or emotional abandonment and are undervalued, we will recreate that world too.  And, we will create it over and over again.  As a client recently said “I just keep pressing the repeat button.”

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Are  you repeating patterns over and over again?  Do you feel helpless and frustrated to change this?  As a coach, I see this everyday; As a human being, I experience it myself.  This is not place for judgement, but compassion.

Please join in this conversation.  I would love to hear your story.

 

 

The Toxic Tempest of Solo Worry

Shame

Do you worry alone?  Or do you share your worry with others?  Does it matter?  Apparently it does.  I recently heard Ned Hallowell speak about this topic and, as he described the pitfalls of solo worry, it gave me a bit of a personal epiphany I want to share.  Hallowell, an MD, is a leading authority on ADD and ADHD  and he is the Director of the Hallowell Centers in NYC and Sudbury, Massachusetts.  With eleven books to his credit, including Driven to Distraction (1994)  and Delivered from Distraction (2005) Hallowell certainly knows his way around the distracted mind.  However, it was advice he gave on the topic of worry that piqued my curiosity.  “Never worry alone.” Hallowell warned.   Since this is the opposite of what i do – I always worry alone – it really grabbed my attention.

Hallowell went on to add that when we worry alone, worry becomes toxic, we omit the facts, withdraw and isolate ourselves.   Worrying alone is what I do.  In fact, I go to great measures to pretend that everything is going be alright even when I really believe it is not.  I fake it.  I pretend.  I spend money I don’t have.  When I worry in silence, I slap a smile on it, maybe I become a bit sullen or snippy at times, but I do not trouble others with my worry.   What’s your worry strategy?   Can you relate to my terribly toxic strategy of independent struggle or do you have worry support in place?

Hallowell went on to say that those of us who worry alone miss out on the problem solving aspect of having a worry partner.  I would like to add, that when we worry alone, we fail to process the dilemma, the pain, the heartbreak, the fear, and thus may become stuck in the trauma of it.   Additionally, we abstain from the compassion others might provide us when we need it most.   I can absolutely attest to solo worry’s toxic powers, but until I heard Ned Hallowell speak, I simply hadn’t put it all together.

Worrying alone is dangerous, bad for your mental health and can lead to a host of bad things.  Get a therapist, get a worry partner, get a coach, get someone, but don’t go it alone.    The toxic tempest of solo worry is to be avoided at all cost lest this psychological storm wreak havoc in your life.  Don’t worry.  At least not alone.

Diane

She Let Go…..

As we prepare to enter a new year, a new moon is shining on us.  Now is the time to turn inward and reflect on what has happened in this year and how you did or did not show up in your life.  Now is the time to let go of the inner storms that no longer serve us.  If you are a normal person, the stress and strains of the holiday season can be overwhelming.  If  you are a highly sensitive person – a care taker, a people-pleaser, your stress is magnified by these demands.  Whoever you are, male or female, sensitive or not, here is a little poem from the Reverend Safire Rose to help you start and keep you going.  So remember, your journey is short, so make it rich.
She Let Go
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

The author of this poem is Rev. Safire Rose.

“Don’t fake it ’til you make it, fake it until you become it.” Amy Cuddy

At times, most of us try to read another person’s body language.  However, we often don’t pay much attention to our own.  According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, your body language may be the difference between success and failure.

We know that our body language affects how others see us, but we have probably not really considered that our body language may affect way we see ourselves.

In this interesting TED Talk,  Social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses “power posing”.  Power posing is using your physiology – standing in a posture of confidence –  even when we don’t feel confident.  “Power Posing”  has powerful effects on hormones such as testosterone and cortisol. Holding these power poses actually creates increases in testosterone and lowers cortisol levels in the brain.  Could these minor tweaks in your physiology change your life?  Check out Professor Cuddy’s TED talk and see what she thinks.   Then see what a few tweaks can do for you.

 

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

The Rhythm of Life.

November has arrived in New England and with it some cool, damp days.  Mother nature has showered us with an orange confetti of leaves.  The winds of November have blown soft this year.  Soon this colorful landscape will give way to the monochromatic season of winter.  Like black and white photography, winter has a way of revealing hidden beauty, structure and form. Blessed are we who witness the change of seasons for we take nothing for granted and can easily measure the passage of time.  Water flows in streams over granite boulders and pushes aside snow and ice, bare trees claw the sky and animal tracks make visible their presence in the snow.

Winter strips life down to essentials; natures party clothes are put away.  The warmth will return predictably, when the calendar turns and one season folds seamlessly into another.   For now, the season of rest and reflection is upon us.  What will you do with this time?  Will you hide inside and wait it out, pine away for summer, or sustain your spirit with a few weeks of vacation in a warmer place?  You could use this time as nature intended – a time to reflect, rest and re-energize.

Consider examining your emotional inheritance.  Ask yourself which of your beliefs were handed down to you and then decide if you wish to keep them.  It requires self-inquiry, it is hard, it is worth it.

Louise Hay, the best selling author of, “You Can Heal Your Life” says we are all victims of victims.  We unwittingly enter into a chain of pain passed down through generations and repeat those unconscious patterns until someone is aware enough, strong enough, brave enough to shatter them for good.

Become aware of your “Chain of Pain.”  What did you inherit?  How will you change it? Is it your pain or the pain of your ancestors you feel?