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?

 

 

 

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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 Goodist

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Some people are wired to be “good” people.  They focus on doing the right thing at every critical juncture even if it means (and it often does) they get the short end of the stick.  They were raised to believe that good things come to good people and that they must do the righteous thing, the moral thing even if it is the wrong thing for them.  They habitually put themselves last and have an idea that someone, someone is watching them and keeping score.  Maybe this is true, maybe it is not.  The “goodist” is the anti-thesis of the narcissist – though both may be excessively focused on themselves.

The “goodist” excels at being modest and self-effacing and taking care of others needs before their own.  They do not back out on promises or commitments even when they are trapped in an abusive situation.  They think it is too rude to say “no”.  Once the “goodist” realizes that they always seem to come up short, they become angry,  Or at least their subconscious does, in true “goodist” form, they do not necessarily recognize this anger.  Instead, it is often transmuted into depression or converted into aches and pains which are far more acceptable than admitting the terrible rage that is brewing in the subconscious mind.  Rather than allow themselves to be angry at all, the “goodist’s” anger is not acknowledged, but suppressed.

The “goodist” patiently waits for their slice of pie to find it is all gone and the greedy claimed second and third pieces for themselves.   Thus their anger is a natural consequence of their continual self-sacrifice.  The “goodist” excuses and rationalizes other people’s bad behavior,  they are compelled to take the higher, lonelier road rather than …say…get angry.  At some point they believe, they will get their due.  But all they get is crap.  The “goodist” puts themselves last and, not surprisingly,  so does everyone else.

For more information about the health consequences of being a “goodist”, I urge you to read:

The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno

Heal your mind, heal your life.

Expecting the world to be fair to you because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.

4 Types of Survival Patterns

Okay, I am cheating a bit with this post, but because it hits home on so many levels for many of us, I thought it was important to post.  Read the content that follows and see if you can identify your survival pattern, your go to safe strategy.  Except, there is a trick to it – these patterns don’t actually work long-term and may make your anxiety worse.

In case your wondering, I am the AVOIDER.  I have used the others on occasion too.

The following content is a direct quote from Dr. Friedemann Schaub, M.D. author of The Fear and Anxiety Solution a book I highly recommend.  I have spoken before to Dr. Schaub and he is a very kind and humble man.  His work is worth checking out at http://www.cellularwisdom.com

“When was the last time that fear and anxiety made you feel vulnerable, unsafe and out of control? Being anxious can feel so intense and overwhelming, that all you want is to suppress or get rid of it. But how do you that? Chances are that neither your parents nor your teachers in school showed you how to deal with anxiety. And like most of us, you had to figure out on your own, how to respond to being anxious or insecure. The problem is that you may have become so good in managing your anxiety, that you don’t even realize that you’re just surviving every day, rather than finding joy and purpose in your life.

There are 4 major survival patterns, through which most people try to consciously and subconsciously control their fears and anxieties. If you are finding yourself using one or several of these survival patterns on a daily basis, you know you have an anxiety problem.

 The Avoider

If you are an avoider, you are probably very sensitive to criticism, rejection and failure. You try to escape potential hurt through making yourself smaller or even invisible. You hide in a small and controllable comfort zone and preemptively loath and criticize yourself, before anyone else can do this to you. Outside of your refuge, you vigilantly scan your surroundings for any signs of judgment or danger. As an avoider you deny yourself any sense of empowerment, because in your mind feeling confident and positive only increases the risk of getting hurt.

The Pleaser

As a pleaser you believe that your best chances to avoid painful rejection or abandonment, is to make sure that everyone is “ok” with you. You may be the care-taker, who feels overly responsible for others; the chameleon, who is able to fit in everywhere; or the jokester, who tries to win people over through being the life of the party. In pleasing mode you try to manage your anxiety by not being alone, which is why your sense of safety and worthiness depends on the approval of others.

The Controller

If you have the constant need to control every aspect

of your life, you may not realize that all you are doing is to manage your fear of being powerlessness. You may even take on the role of being the authority and strictly enforce your ideas and rules through anger, threats and punishment, just to avoid feeling exposed and unsafe. By controlling others through instilling a sense of insecurity and powerlessness, you feel more empowered and secure. However, underneath this dominating behavior often reside profound feelings of inferiority, vulnerability and pain, which stem from traumas and confusion from your childhood.

 The Achiever

Are you known as a go-getter, who always exceeds everyone’s expectations? Do you continue to strive for the next achievement, never taking the time to enjoy the one you just reached? Or maybe you call yourself a perfectionist, who can’t accept mediocrity. As an (“over-“) achiever, failure and second-place aren’t an option, because your identity and worthiness are defined by your successes. However, although this form of drive and competitiveness may have got you far, deep inside it is still the deep-seated fear of not being good enough, which keeps you running and striving.

All of these survival patterns have one thing in common: they don’t lead to a true sense of inner peace and happiness. As you become more and more dependent on these strategies to cope with your anxiety and insecurity, you drain your energy and power, which only increases the likelihood of feeling stressed and anxious. Because no matter how many people you have avoided or kept successfully at arm’s length; and no matter how many you have “wowed,” made happy or controlled – in the end you may still end up feeling powerless, because you have been defining yourself through circumstances and people around you, and thus making them more important than yourself.”

See yourself here?  What style do you lean on to manage your fears?  Come on, it can’t only be me 🙂