Category Archives: Emotions

How do you mend a broken heart?

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

Like, perhaps, many of you . . . I’ve had my share of broken hearted relationships going as far back as my teenage youth.  Music had always been a major part of my life and I would tend to express my unhappiness by finding and relating to the heartbroken lyrics and music of many song writers and lyricists who could express their unhappiness in words and music far better than I.

brokenheart

I recall listening to these songs over and over, wallowing in my own despair . . . not willing to let go . . . crying, hoping, and praying that each situation might magically turn itself around and we would find ourselves together again in a state of bliss and happiness.  My favorite songs that I would choose to play as a musician were ballads . . . songs of unrequited love and broken hearts.  I loved the music of such writers of Sammy Cohn and Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Matt Dennis, and many, many more.  Recording artists such as Sinatra, Ella, Sarah, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, et al. were m playlist.  I must have appeared to be happy being unhappy.

These were not happy times by any means.  The words and music were like prayers and I recall Father Joseph Martin having said, “The best prayers you ever said were when you were at the bottom of the pit. “

But not all of these artists and song writers wrote only sad songs.  In fact, they wrote and sang more happy songs than they did mournful songs.  And isn’t this the way of the world?  In time, everything changes and we eventually put on a happy face.

When does unhappiness turn into happiness?  . . . whenever one finally becomes tired of feeling miserable.  It happens after weeks, months, or perhaps even years, when we come to terms and accept the reality of a given situation and that there is nothing we can do other than to move on with our life.  As Dr. Glasser reminds us, one of the 3 reasons why people choose to depress is because they know there is something they need to do and they a.) Don’t want to do it, or b.) Don’t know how to do it.  In situations of broken hearts, “a.)” is the primary component.

Letting go of what cannot be controlled eventually comes to those of us who have been mourning the loss of a loved one . . .by breakups, divorce, and even death.  Acceptance.  Making real of what is and not how we want things to be.  Using your own experiences, you will realize that it wasn’t until you accepted the reality of the situation and that there was nothing you could do to change it that you began to move on with your life and feel better.  Looking back on your past lost loves, I would be willing to wager that you can now do so feeling a bit of gratitude for having known them, even if for a little while; for the experience and lesson you may have learned, for the things they may have taught you, and when times were filled with passion and happiness.  I would even venture to say that as you read these words, a slight smile may appear as you recall those times with those you lost long ago.

I still listen to the love songs of my favorite song writers and lyricists. I appreciate a well-written and performed ballad.  The difference now is that I appreciate them for their beauty, creativity, and sensitivity . . . knowing that the creators, too, had the same broken hearts that I have experienced .  . . to be able to express it in words and music.  The songs sometime bring back memories of my lost loves and sometimes they don’t.  And when they do, and after all is said and done . . . I look back on them and realize they were all good.  For even in bad experiences, there is good to be found.  In retrospect, you may, perhaps, even feel fortunate that they did end when they did.

The only two choices we have to overcome any unhappiness is:

  1. Change what you want and/or
  2. Change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.

There are no other options other than to feel miserable until you do so.

Fear: Part 3

I Think I Can Get Away With It

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D

Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

I know a relatively large number of people who are having trouble with anxiety as they move into their elder years. They are anxious about the future, anxious about money, kids, weather and just about everything else, and they spend a great deal of time acting as if it were not their fault that they are feeling this way. Like a compulsive overeater who continues to eat bread and sugar but seems continually dumbfounded that they are gaining weight, denial and “hoping we can get away with it” go hand in hand.

As the anxiety becomes more pronounced in their lives, they generally  don’t want to hear that the state of anxiety they are dealing with now is a direct result of their not facing their fearing and anxiety in earlier years. Essentially they hoped they could avoid facing their destructive patterns; they hoped they could outrun it, evade it or deny it long enough so that the full force of the pattern wouldn’t catch them. They would then have gotten away with allowing themselves years of unchecked fear and anxiety without having to pay any price. Every emotion has a cost; some are very expensive (anger, resentment, jealousy) some have very little cost (generosity, gratitude and kindness), but there is “no free lunch.” Just as we can’t continue to spend well beyond our income, the cost of certain emotions can bankrupt us if we continue to create them over time.

We can get addicted to emotions just as we can to substances, and the root of much of this is the false belief that “I can get away with it.” We think we can stay angry at a spouse and not have it eventually cost us our relationship; we think we can stay resentful at our sister and not have it affect the family strength;  we think we can continue to be fearful and anxious without eventually weakening the entire framework of our mental health and happiness. With discipline, courage, thoughtful planning and good tools (see Fear #2) we can change directions. Without all three, our future may have more unpleasant surprises for us than we would hope for.

 

 

 

Fear: Part 2

Emotions You Act on Grow Stronger

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D

Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

One of the most destructive patterns we can engage in is the belief that by giving into fear that it will decrease in strength. For example, if I am scared of telling someone the truth and I gave into that fear and don’t talk with them, my fear of doing it will increase, not decrease. Any emotion I act on will increase in strength; it’s like using a muscle. If I act on courage, I will become more courageous; if I act on forgiveness, I will become more forgiving; if I act on fear, anger or jealousy, I will become more fearful, angry and jealous. We don’t feel our way into new way of acting. We act our way into a new way of feeling. The tools we use to get there are these:

  1. 1. Admit how we are feeling at the present time. (“I am feeling very angry.”)
  2. Decide if this is how we would like to be feeling in this situation (“Do I want to continue to be angry?”)
  3. If the answer is yes, there is no problem. If the answer is “No,” then we ask ourselves what emotion we would like to create to replace the one we dont want. ( “Instead of feeling angry, what would like to be feeling in this situation? …. I think I would rather be calm and forgiving.”)

As a general rule, it is important to remember that “We don’t push away the darkness, we turn on the light.” We don’t remove what we don’t want in the world of emotional well-being, we create what we do want and the non-desired emotions are replaced. When we go into a dark room, we don’t spend our time pushing away the darkness, we turn on the light and the darkness goes away. And, like emotional well-being, if we turn off the light, the darkness returns.

  1. Begin to think and act in the manner that someone would who felt the emotion you want to feel (and here’s the crucial part) even though you dont feel it. Your action and thinking will eventually create the emotion you desire. (If I were feeling forgiving, what would I be saying to myself (my thoughts) and what would I be doing (my actions). I need to start doing those now even though I realize I don’t feel like it.)

Traditional wisdom would have us wait until we change our emotions before we change our actions, but that is a self-defeating process.

Fear: Part 1

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D

Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

When I hear people saying that I am “overwhelmed by fear” or “I can’t face the fear,” or “the fear is terrible,” I know they are only making things worse by the manner in which they are perceiving “fear.” They have a perception that there is something called “fear” out there and that that fear is somehow attacking them or burdening them by coming into their lives. Fear is not outside us; fear is inside us. Fear is an emotion we create when we look at the world and begin to tell ourselves stories about what we see. “I won’t be ok,” I’ll never figure this out,” “I’ll lose what I have and not get what I want,” are all messages that create the emotion of fear with in us.

If we can begin to own the fear and understand we are creating it, we can take steps to change what we are doing rather than trying to change something outside us which was never at fault to begin with. We can stop dealing with fear as though it is a commodity and some kind of external entity, and start telling ourselves things like.” I am creating a lot of fear in this situation.” or “When I look at the future, I start to fear what might happen;” we can begin to take more effective control of our emotional state. This does not mean that we can just easily change from “fearing” to creating other emotions like “faithing,” or “being brave” or being courageous with the snap of our fingers, but we can begin the process and decrease the amount of fear we are creating.

Fear is not an irrational emotion. What is often irrational and destructive is the amount of fear we create in situations which are not as threatening as we think they are. There are “healthy fears” and “unhealthy fears.” Trying to determine which is which and then create the appropriate amount of fear is never easy, but always worth it.

Neutral

By Gloria Smith Cisse, LPC, LMSW, CTRTC

Happiness is not simply the absence of sadness.   Happiness is much more.  It is a place of peace, comfort, quiet, beauty, and contentment.  It seems the thing we are always chasing is a kind of excitement that comes from getting something that we felt we have always wanted or needed.  This can be synonymous with drug addiction or thrill seeking.  I have never really enjoyed roller coasters and I don’t believe emotional roller coasters are any different.

A few days ago while I was in my car driving from one work site to the next, I thought about happiness.  Questions like: What is happiness for me?,  Am I happy right now?, and How would people know I am happy? danced around in my mind.  It occurred to me that I had not been “happy” in some time.  It also occurred to me that I was also not sad.  About a week before Thanksgiving 2015, I lost my mother.  I should be sad, right?

Some of my sisters and I communicate with each other on an almost daily basis. It feels like they are having a much harder time adjusting to life after our mother’s death than I am.  I was thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me because I was not as sad as they appeared to be.  I had made a choice to not depress.  I had not told them that, I don’t know if they would have understood.  I made the choice years ago because I had already spent too many years of my life being “clinically depressed.”

I have made a choice to get off the happiness – sadness roller coaster.  I can enjoy the happiness more because I experienced, understand, and appreciate the sadness.  I have learned to respect and give sadness its time because I know that it does not last forever.   As a matter of fact, I choose to not depress.

veronica-balanceSince that night alone in my car, I have decided that neutral, a place of balance, peace, contentment, and weightlessness, is a great place to be. It takes effort to remain balanced.  Anyone who has ever tried yoga will tell you, it’s hard!   I am not chasing happiness.  The mental picture I have is one coasting at my own pace and being surrounded by the things and people I enjoy.  This does not mean that I will avoid happiness.  It means that for now I will do my life and enjoy the peace that comes from simply doing my life.   I will choose the amount of time I spend sad.  I will not live on an emotional roller coaster.

I prefer to think of it as living like a “weeble wobble.”  Some of you may remember, “weebles; wobble but the don’t fall down.”  I can wobble from side to side but I will not remain in any one place too long,  except neutral…smile!

 

Lonely Holidays

By Dr. Ken Larsen

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray  1751.  

For me this verse struck me with sadness from the very first time I heard it.  As life has unfolded I see evidence of the many unseen flowers trapped in the loneliness of our culture.

We all know those who are lonely, most of us have been there ourselves.  When I’m in that place I find mental health and happiness more elusive.

kid_catI think the holiday season afflicts many of us as we look to the fabricated images of people enjoying the holiday season and then realizing that our own lives don’t often match those fabrications.

I recently had some major surgery and was feeling lonely and a bit sad because of the forced inactivity of recovery.   Then the phone rang.  It was a call from a friend who is a media personality in her part of the world.  What touched me and actually sent a jolt of joy through me is that she took the time to call and tell me she was thinking of me.  This simple act of friendship and kindness changed the color of my day from blue to rosy red.

helpinghands2A call, a note, a smile,  a friendly touch are all very welcome to us when we are feeling unseen and out of touch.  Let’s reach out and brighten the day of someone we know or someone we don’t know to give them the boost they may need to reconnect with their mental health and happiness.

 

Gratitude, the gift you give yourself

Contributed by Denise Daub

How Gratitude Can Benefit Your Physical Health All Year Long

by Lindsay Holmes Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post

canstockphoto2744335Now that we’re officially in the holiday season, generosity and gratitude reign supreme. We’re altruistic because we’re motivated at this time of year to support others who are less fortunate, and we express thanks for those who have extended similar kindness to us.

And honestly, why wouldn’t we want to tap into this sort of holiday spirit? Both generosity and gratitude have an incredible influence on our emotional health. When we practice them, we’re happier, more optimistic and have a lower risk for depression and anxiety. New research also shows that gift giving reflects how we feel about others and could give more insight into how we maintain relationships.

Yet, somehow, we really only concentrate on the benefits when the year winds down. Bah-humbug.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gratitude-benefits-physical-health_56538058e4b0879a5b0c1464?ir=Healthy%2BLiving%253Fncid%253Dnewsltushpmg00000003

“Tomorrow is another day,” Scarlett O’Hara

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

I recently went through the grueling process of purchasing a home. This is actually the fourth time in my life I’ve been lucky enough to be able to purchase a home. But this time was very different from the last.

I don’t know if the challenges this time were due to the size of the loan, the new parameters since the mortgage housing scandals that led to tighter and more rigorous standards, or the fact that there were multiple people applying for the loan. But I think Rumpelstiltskin had it easier when he changed straw into gold.

At two different times during this process the deal was declared officially dead.  The first time we were told we needed to bring more money to the table. Amazingly each of us who were involved in the deal were able to “find” more money. The deal was revived!

Miraculous! Phew, we were alive again.

Weeks later when we were just yards from the finish line the whole thing fell apart again!

Devastation.

canstockphoto13026221Dreams were dashed again only this time it felt worse. We had come so far, had overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, pushed, persevered, and worked really hard. And in one moment it all vanished!

But this second time I waited before I fell into the depths of despair.

This roller coaster ride had taught me some new lessons.  I was determined to put these new strategies into practice.

I had already used my time-tested and well used strategy of crossing and uncrossing my fingers. In fact I had used this so often I was beginning to develop callouses on my fingers.

This time I tried something I had only used a very few times in my life.

I gathered facts. I left out all emotional information surrounding the facts. I simply wanted the facts.

What I learned was that there was a chance that the deal could be completed. In six days we would have a definitive answer. In six days we would know if the deal was alive or dead.

This was the information I held onto. I did not wish or hope, worry, barter or demand. I simply repeated the factual information. Holding onto and repeatedly reviewing the facts kept me from soaring into wild hopes or falling into depths of despair. We would know the outcome, the results and the answers to what was presently unanswerable in six days or less.

Every time I found myself wondering, worrying, hoping or wishing, I went back and simply repeated the facts.

I also made a conscious choice to think about the whole deal less. I repeated the facts, and knew there were five more days, four more days, and so forth until I would have the final answer. And any time I found my mind wondering, worrying, or hoping I reminded myself to change my thinking to some other subject, topic or question.

I made a conscious decision to postpone my celebratory dance of joy, or my upset, anger and disappointment until I had facts to verify either reaction.

In the end we were able to celebrate, sing and dance with joy and offer prayers of thanks.

In addition, I learned a very important lesson for my Mental Health & Happiness. Gathering factual information rather than relying on my emotionally tainted information was a new, very helpful strategy. Using facts and data rather than impression, instincts and intuition alone keeps my well being intact as I experience my life’s speed bumps that upset my balance.

With this new strategy added to my other coping skills I believe I will handle the next of my life’s challenges with greater personal strength, wisdom and grace.

Take Your Life Back

26 Ways To Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken

pensivewomanThere’s an old, outdated assumption that time heals all wounds. But I believe this to be untrue. In the words of Dr. Phil, “Time doesn’t change us. It’s what we do with that time that changes us.” We are all more than capable of taking control back into our own hands when life knocks us down. It’s just a matter of doing so deliberately. Of making changes that will move us forward. Of finding a way to progress with purpose, rather than simply letting life knock us around into whoever we will become next. When you’re feeling lost and disheartened with life, here are 26 simple methods of taking your power back.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/11/26-ways-to-take-your-life-back-when-youre-broken/

“But I got an emptiness deep inside and I’ve tried but it won’t let me go…”

Dr. Ken Larsen

I believe that happiness is not something we can seek for itself.  Dr. Glasser and Mike Rice (a friend who is a Choice Theory Addiction Counselor)  have told us that we can seek pleasure for itself, because pleasure can be a solitary pursuit.  Happiness is more of a byproduct of a life lived in caring relationships with others.  Within those relationships we are getting a large portion of our needs met for love and belonging, for fun, for freedom and for a sense of self efficacy or power.  For most of us, even if our lives are reasonably happy, there is still a level of the imperfect in our happiness.  There is often a small emptiness somewhere inside that is hungry for something that we may not even be able to name or identify.

questionThis hole in us may be a hunger for more intimacy in a relationship, a spiritual hunger, or that unexplained existential loneliness that haunts us, even when we are with those we love.

I think the Serenity Prayer offers an appropriate response to this hole inside us.  “…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I have found that if I strive and strain to fill the hole, to find the answer to the question raised by that empty space, it becomes more elusive and slippery.  Struggling to meet an unmet need that is beyond our grasp simply drives it further away.  For example, if I am striving to earn the affection and approval from someone who has withheld it, this will just widen the gap, and increase the distance between us.

It is far better for mental health to “accept the things I cannot change” and move on to pursue the other good things in life.  Many have found that in the process of letting go, the frustration and anxiety that are associated with that unmet need subsides and may even go away.   The interesting and paradoxical experience of many is that sometimes letting it go is what allows what is wanted and needed to gently come in to fill the hole without any strident effort. 

I believe that a perfect state of mental health and happiness is beyond our grasp.  I also believe that we can all make progress in this pursuit, even though the price for perfection is prohibitive.

https://youtu.be/sxDyXK93o6g