Category Archives: Feelings

When being right may be wrong

by Dr. Ken Larsen

It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.”   — Pete Seege

acceptance-belief-change

We were living in Salinas.  Not far from where Bobby McGee slipped away.  I was in 5th grade and struggling with a major metamorphosis in my thinking and beliefs.  I was beginning to realize that playing cowboys with toy guns was something that kids did.  I was beginning to believe that I was no longer a kid and needed to put aside childish games like cowboys.  I was also beginning to notice that girls were more interesting than I had thought not too long before.  In hindsight, this awareness of a new way of thinking and behaving was an essential step in my development as a person.  What was most interesting was the slow and gradual dawning of a new self-concept pointing to a need to change.  It was not sudden or abrupt, but sort of crept up on me.  I also came to see that I had to make a choice to achieve that change.

I believe many of us in our culture and in our world are facing a similar growing awareness of our need to put aside some of our childish beliefs and behaviors and move on and into a new awareness of who we are as adults in our humanity.

What I’m getting at is the truth in the phrase “the world is divided by those who think they are right.”

I have lost friends in discussions where both of us were convinced we were right.  This “being right” seemed so important that it came out as a criticism and condemnation of the other person’s point of view.

When both parties are enmeshed in the trap of “I’m right and you’re wrong” what kind of an outcome can be expected?

Far too often there is a cascade of anger, hurt feelings and ultimately alienation from one another.

Dr. Glasser helped us see the universal need in all of us for love and belonging.  The need to be connected to one another is built into our genetic makeup.  Dr. Glasser also challenged us to evaluate what we were doing and saying in our relationships by asking the question “is what I’m doing (or going to do) bringing us closer together or driving us further apart.”

I’ve seen that insistence on my point of view as being the right point of view is a flawed approach to connecting with others.  If I really want to draw closer to another, I’m working on creatively growing into learning new and more life giving ways to have a conversation.  If I believe that “live and let live” is a valid way to be with others who see things differently, then I believe I’m making progress.

I find it more interesting to get to know a person as a unique member of our human family before I get too busy trying to convince anyone of how my opinion is superior to theirs.

And my mental health and happiness are enhanced when I’m working to understand rather than insisting I be understood.

What am I doing?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Be the change you want to see in the world — Gandhi

We are only a few days into the new year and I’m feeling weary. The temporary respite of the political bickering, name calling and finger pointing is at an end. What happened to the declaration and feelings of

PEACE ON EARTH GOOD WILL TOWARD ALL?

angrywoman

I know spending time on social media is not helping. One person declares that his position is right and honorable, while another declares the same about her opposite position. How surprised I am to be so actively involved in arguments and bickering between so many people even though I live alone. It’s not like the good old days when I could simply go into another room when my children were “going at it” with each other.

Amazingly, I continue to choose to read these posts. I open my Facebook page to connect with the wider world and discover what’s going on! Whew. What I discover leaves me feeling upset and disheartened.

I deicide that I’m just not going to engage.

That doesn’t help though because now I’m missing all the moments of laughter and joy while seeing pictures, stories and announcements that delight. These treasures are buried among the terrible grumblings and demands that this person disagrees with a certain politician, don’t I agree?

Eureka!

My new resolve is to respond differently, whether this is simply a private thought or an actually written comment I publicly share. I’m going to ask myself these questions:

  •           What am I doing to contribute to the problem?
  •           What am I doing to contribute to the solution?
  •           Can I do anything to tolerate, honor and respect other people’s  alternative belief and position?
  •           Can I do anything to help people tolerate, honor and respect other people’s alternative belief and position? 

Ah, this feels better. 

And I can always choose to disconnect or hide a post I simply do not want to read.

Such simple actions to improve my Mental Health & Happiness today.

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

 

Cause and Effect: Which Happens First?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Nothing we do is caused by what happens outside of us — William Glasser, MD

How do you feel today?

Good? Tired? Stressed? Satisfied? Angry? Upset? Excited? Bored?

How come you feel that way? If you were to explain to someone else the reasons you feel this way, would you say, “Because I choose to feel this way?” If you did that would be surprising.

Mostly when we explain our feelings and our present state of well being we point to something outside of ourselves as the cause for our pleasure or displeasure.

I’m so happy because I did well on my exam.

I’m furious that my boss doesn’t believe me.

This Thanksgiving is going to be perfect because my out of town family is coming here for the celebration. 

None of these circumstances or situations are inherently good or bad, pleasurable or displeasing. It is our belief, opinion and meaning making that makes them so.

For instance if you have ambivalent feelings toward your family, or feel criticized and uncomfortable around certain members of your family, you might be less than pleased to know they will be joining you for a holiday. 

What happens in the world are simply the facts as we presently understand them. Declaring them good and pleasurable or bad and displeasurable is something that happens inside each of us. And this declaration depends on how close or disparate we perceive the world compared to how we want it to be.

It’s like the baseball umpire says: It ain’t a ball or a strike until  I  call it a ball or a strike. 

The effect the world has on our Mental Health & Happiness is based on the meaning and value we place on the information and experiences  we receive in the world. We are the cause and we decide the effect.

If you don’t like what is happening in your life, one way you can change it  is to change how you are describing and making meaning of the experience.

canstockphoto22485059Too much unhappiness and misery? Change the value and meaning you place on the “facts.” You can change it to neutral, positive or negative.

This is not easily done and takes work and practice. But the results will definitely improve your present mood and your Mental Health & Happiness.

Try this:

Describe today’s weather? Are your descriptors factual or neutral, such as Today it is raining and the temperature is 58 degrees

Or is your description more opinionated:

Today is a miserable, raw and cold day

Or is your description positive:

I’m so glad it’s raining today so I get to stay inside and read all day long.

Now try this:

Change the description you made and see if you can describe today’s weather in a neutral or factual way, a positive way and a negative way.

Choose another situation in your life and see if you can do the same thing; describe it neutrally, positively and negatively.

The cause of your displeasure or unhappiness is only inside of you and how you define and describe your world. For improved effect that includes improved Mental Health & Happiness change your descriptors of your world from negative to neutral or positive. 

*Take Charge of Your Life: How to Get What You Need With Choice Theory Psychology, p. 5, Dr. William Glasser, M.D.

 

Shift Your Bad Mood

Contributed by Denise Daub

8 Ways to Shift a Bad Mood and Feel Better Fast by Nathalie Thompson

Have you ever heard the phrase: “as within, so without”? It has become something of a mantra to me lately because it’s a reminder that whatever is happening outside of me is a direct reflection of what is happening within me, on the inside.

Our thoughts affect our beliefs and expectations, which affect our actions, which, in turn, affect our physical reality. In a way, we create our world through the thoughts we think; our external reality becomes a reflection of our internal landscape.

miserable_kenThis effect works with all of our feelings — good or bad. So when we start finding ourselves feeling down or pessimistic about things, or when something we’ve come across in the media upsets us, it’s really important to head the snowball off and look for ways to shift our focus into a better-feeling place before we get trapped into only being able to see the crappy stuff in life.

Read more http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathalie-thompson/8-ways-to-shift-a-bad-mood-and-feel-better-fast_b_8201180.html?ir=Healthy%20Living?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

 

Coping Skills

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

We all have those overwhelming experiences and stressful times in our lives when it feels as though everything is falling apart. The upset can be a failing grade on an important exam in our high school class, or hearing the news that our family pet has died, or being laid off from our job and only source of income, or the pain and heartache that comes with a love break-up. Let’s not forget that many are now struggling because of environmental and whether challenges. These include floods, flash floods, out of control forest fires, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes.

What do you do when faced with these kinds of things in your life? Do you have coping strategies and self-soothing comfort skills? Have you developed and practiced these skills? Or are you like many people who aren’t quite sure what you do until faced with the emotional upheaval of life?

I have recently begun working as a nurse in a psychiatric emergency room of a regular hospital. Most of the people I see are in the worst moments of their lives facing terrible circumstances. This is the time when coping skills are really needed. Too often however, people tell me they have very few or no coping strategies.

When I asked one fellow, who was terribly upset and distraught, what he did to help himself he told me he asked his girlfriend to hug and hold him. If she wasn’t available he told me he then took drugs, whether they were prescription drugs or street drugs. He was in search of something that would help him numb the pain he was experiencing. These were the only two strategies he had. Amazingly he never considered seeking some kind of solution or help to solve his problems. Even this emergency room visit had been initiated by the police and not his idea.

canstockphoto4793854

For improved Mental Health & Happiness start now developing, learning and practicing your coping skills. This is best done not when you are faced with the crisis or upset, but when life is mostly in balance and you feel calm and in control. Chances are good that you already have a few of these self-soothing strategies. Perhaps you just haven’t considered these to be part of your coping repertoire.

For instance, do you close your eyes, take a deep breath and count to 10? Or maybe you call a dear and trusted friend just to hear his voice knowing he will offer wise words of counsel. Some people get regular massages and when needed get an emergency massage. Others take a bath, or meditate, or take a nap, or go for a long or short walk in nature. Still others go directly to the ice cream shop, local bakery or fried chicken joint to eat their comfort foods because that is what is needed — some comfort.

A crisis is not the time for judgment about what is the healthiest choice. Now is the time to evaluate only based on the ability of your strategy to give you the kind of immediate comfort, relief and help you need.  Once the crisis is resolved you can decide whether or not to cultivate healthier and more effective coping strategies. It is always appropriate however, to evaluate whether or not your coping strategy is putting you in greater danger like my patient who was hospitalized for perilous drug consumption.

Start today. Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Identify your present coping strategies
  2. Evaluate how healthy and effective they are
  3. Start cultivating and practicing more strategies to add to your  repertoire. To get more ideas you can always ask friends and family  members what they do to help them cope when under stress.

Dealing with a crisis involves more than relying on good and effective coping strategies to help keep you calm. Understanding the step-by-step of handing the crisis you face is also essential. This will be discussed in a future blog.

For now, improve your Mental Health & Happiness today by cultivating, practicing and improving  your present coping strategies.

Emotionally Bankrupt

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Have you ever had the experience of being completely and utterly emotionally depleted?  It would be pretty amazing and unusual if this weren’t true for you as it is true for almost all people.

Three years following my father’s diagnosis of terminal lung cancer he died. His passing was not a surprise nor a shock and still it was devastating for his immediate family including me. I was privileged in that I was able to spend two of the last three weeks of his life with him and my mother.

My mother and father had celebrated more than 50 years of marriage only weeks before my father’s death. My mother was devastated following Dad’s passing. As she predicted, Mom  lived another ten years after my father died. However, she was never the same, never really happy again.

Once Dad died the family all assembled in North Carolina for the memorial service with the fellowship to begin our mourning and healing. Then it was decided that Mom would visit each daughter’s home for awhile before she would return to her own home to begin her life without Dad.

Six weeks after Dad died my mother had a heart attack. I had just returned home after accompanying her back to her home to help her begin this post-Dad part of her life.

canstockphoto0527001I was lying on the couch in my living room when I received the call about my mother’s health. I was told she had a minor heart attack and was stable. My mother told me that her heart was broken.

My sisters and I needed to decide what we were going to do. At this point I couldn’t even get off of the couch. How could I possibly get on a plane and return to my mother’s side?

This was my first experience of being emotionally bankrupt. Sadly, it has not been my last.

There was a “letter” circulating on Facebook recently where an old man explained grief, mourning and loss to a younger person. He described these kinds of life moments as being ship wrecked. Being overwhelmed by all of the sadness, devastation, grief and varying aspects of loss comes upon us as waves. And when the ship is first wrecked all we can do is hang on and stay afloat. Sometimes we hang onto another person, or a thought, a prayer, our faith or a possession.

Eventually these overwhelming feelings are not present 100% of the time. Eventually we have some moments of relief. How soon? There is no way of predicting. And for each person with each loss and each wrecked ship the timing and waves vary.

Eventually the waves become less and less frequent. Eventually we are not devastated by the wave. Eventually our memories become sweet and a source of comfort.

While we are waiting for the waves to lesson, and calm without taking us under, we must be kind, gentle, loving and supportive of ourselves. We must care for ourselves in ways that might normally feel like indulgences:

Take an afternoon sitting on a park bench, under a tree, or on the beach, and do nothing.

Take a hot bath daily, as a ritual.

Be quiet, still, and if needed alone. Let nature be your companion as nature is one of the strongest healers available to us all.

Stop working, at least for an afternoon or morning.

Stop doing for, caring and helping others, at least for an afternoon or morning.

If you have a pet, hug, love and pet him/her. Let your pet soothe and comfort you as you pet and love him/her. If you don’t have a pet, ask to borrow one.

Ask a friend to help you focus on fun, funny and wonderful memories.

Ask a friend to distract you and tell you stories that are completely unrelated to your  present experience.

Spend time holding, hugging, playing and cuddling a baby.

A word of caution about any and all of the above ideas. If you discover that this emotional soothing and regenerating is not working, is in fact contributing to you feeling worse STOP. You can return and try out any or all of these ideas in the future. For now, be gentle, quite and still with yourself.  Concentrate on breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out with no other expectation or goal.

Honoring your need for rejuvenation during the emotionally bankrupt and tsunami  times of our lives is important and essential for our Mental Health & Happiness.

The World On A String

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

The Hear & Now

The Hear & Now

I used to travel the United States for a living.  I traveled alone for the most part and met up with my fellow musicians at our next contracted venue.  I traveled from Seattle to Miami Beach, from San Diego to New York and all points in between.  There were times when I would have to pull over to the side of the road to take in some of the most beautiful sights that I never imagined existed in our country.  Just as I would begin to marvel and feel the appreciation of the beauty I was seeing, my happy thoughts would soon dwindle into a mild form of sadness.  Why?  . . . because I had no one with me to share the experience.

Regardless of what you may own or experience, it cannot provide happiness unless shared with someone else who is important to you.  Regardless of whatever you may achieve in life, it will not provide happiness unless someone else in your life respects, admires, acknowledges, and enjoys your success with you.  Regardless of how much fun a particular activity may be, it is rarely as much fun if only done alone and not with someone else.  You may derive pleasure from single activities but not happiness.  Happiness can only be attained by having, at least one, meaningful relationship.  The more meaningful relationships you have, the more happiness you will have.

Howard Hughes is one example of how money can’t buy happiness.  Here was one of the wealthiest men in the world yet he was consumed with unhappiness.  The more unhappy he became, the more he would disconnect with others and isolate.  Even the people he needed the most were shoved aside.  He could never maintain a loving and lasting relationship with the women in his life.  His genetic need for love was not being met because his stronger need for power destroyed the relationships of those he needed for romance and, eventually, those he needed  in business. He would consider his unhappiness the result of others and became a germaphobe, obsessive compulsive, agoraphobic, and he literally shut the world out of his life in dark, desolate isolation.

There are countless stories of individuals who had the world on a string, so to speak, but whose life was less than happy.  Yet the string that maintains happiness is the string of love and belonging.  All one need do is notice the difference between the songs that have been written over the years.  The happy songs involve a meaningful relationship with another person.  The sad and unhappy songs are those about losing a meaningful relationship with another person.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KfHgUAdWCA

 

Run from the fire or reach for the stars

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

What best describes you?  Do you run from the fire or reach for the stars?

When you spend your time running from the fire the energy propelling you is sourced from fear and pain. You are attempting to avoid getting burned, or alleviate the pain and fear of more pain. In order to keep going on this path you need to keep “re-fearing” yourself by reminding yourself of what can and may happen. It is stress, fear, and a whole lot of negative energy detracting from your Mental Health & Happiness that’s propelling your action.

meme-reachforstars

When you reach for the stars the energy propelling you comes from inspiration. This means you’ve identified what you really want, what your quality world picture or pictures are. You are driven with inspired energy. This doesn’t mean life is stress free but it does mean the energy is uplifting and hopeful, filled with possibilities of dreams coming true. This energy keeps you going, enhancing your Mental Health & Happiness.

Some say when setting your goals you should ask yourself if your goal is realistic. Hmm, seems like that question contains not only realism but also doubt and potential fears.

Imagine if Columbus had asked himself if his dream of finding a shorter sea path to the Orient was realistic. Imagine what Martin Luther King might have done differently if he had asked if his dream was realistic. Imagine what might have happened if Rosa Parks asked if sitting in the white section of the bus was a realistic or good idea. Had any one of these people been driven by their fear instead of their dream to reach for the stars our world would be very different.

Imagine how your life could change if you reached for your star, inspired by what you want rather than what is realistic. If you are willing to let dreams inspire you rather than relying on an internal energy to avoid fear, not only will your Mental Health & Happiness improve, you just might change the world too.