Category Archives: Hope

Reflection: Take the Second Step: Use Your Brighter Lights

By Debbie Crinzi         

For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided.  You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.

In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.

chair-beach

Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.

Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.

Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.

Fear versus Freedom

By Amanda Love

If you live in fear, it is impossible to be free.  Fear can take many forms — fear of leaving a job you don’t like for a more challenging one, fear of voicing your opinions to a spouse that constantly argues with you, fear of being alone, fear of changing careers, fear of moving away from family and friends and starting over.

depression

My personal experience has been with a verbally abusive spouse.  I would wake up in the morning to his temper tantrums and go to sleep with them as well.  This went on for about fifteen years, until I looked in the mirror one day and realized I had no respect for myself.  I have a high love and belonging need and a low freedom need, which I pushed so low it was non-existent.

I was fearful of rocking the boat by leaving all at once.  My friend, who is also a therapist, advised me to “leave without leaving.”  Start by doing things that you love to do, seek new challenges for yourself, learn new things, she said.

I followed her advice and slowly became more of who I really am as a person.   I raised a puppy for a service dog organization, and took her everywhere I went, spreading the word about the wonders service dogs work.  When the dog was returned to me for a mild medical condition, she and I trained together to be a pet therapy team.  We volunteered at a nursing  home and a Read to the Dog Program at a New York City library.

I regained my self-respect.  I began writing a novel, a love story.  I became more confident in myself and when I finished the book I was able to stand up and end the marriage.  I recently moved to a different town on my native Long Island, and have conquered my fear of new situations by participating in community groups that I love.

I battle fear every day — and maybe you do too.  Challenge yourself by identifying what you are really afraid of, and try to reason with yourself that the fear is unfounded.   If you can’t do that by yourself, seek help from a trusted family member, friend  or a counselor.

Hope

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness                                                                        Desmond Tutu

“I wish I didn’t have hope,” she complained to her therapist. “I feel as though I am continually inflicting pain on myself by believing that what is happening is for the best, or that everything is going to work out. All that seems to do is keep me hoping. Then my hopes are dashed with more disappointment and more pain. Can you help me learn how to stop hoping?”

She was seeing a good, caring, skilled therapist. The best help her therapist offered was providing a safe and supportive holding environment.  Here she was able to express all of her feelings, fears, and upsets, including her unhappiness with HOPE. 

If it were not for hopes, the heart would break. Thomas Fuller

pensivewoman_blueThat was her problem. Her heart was breaking. An essential relationship of more than 25 years was ending, not by her choice. Hoping that it would all get better or that they could end their marriage without inflicting pain on each other and their children seemed to be failing time and time again. Her heart was breaking.

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better we can bear a hardship today. Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t you see? Every night I go to bed following Scarlet O’Hara’s message that, ‘Tomorrow is another day,’ meaning  my world might get better, my relationships might mend and the pain might subside. And every tomorrow I wake up and nothing is better, no relationships have mended, and the pain is not subsiding.”

She was not proud that there were times when she considered suicide. She wanted relief from the relentless pain. There were people who cared, who wanted and did help and yet the pain and despair were relentless.

Having worked as the manager in an emergency service of a mental health center, she was knowledgable of strategies for suicide prevention. During those times when she was dangerously close to acting on her self-destructive thoughts she did her own suicide assessment. She also tapped into all that she knew, including the fact children of parents who suicide are much more likely to suicide themselves. To kill herself was not horrifying to her. But knowing that her action and absence gave her sons a kind of permission for suicide was completely UNACCEPTABLE. It was this knowledge that kept her from taking any irreversible action.

She knew it was vital to use whatever it takes to keep a suicidal person alive.  This included herself. During those dark and painful days she used this as her reminder and strategy. This enabled her to hang on for a little longer. She was beginning to realize that HOPE, including the HOPE that she would get through this time and arrive at a place where thoughts of suicide were a memory, was her ally and savior. She was beginning to be grateful that her therapist did not teach her how to give up HOPE.

It is a good thing when all you have is hope and not expectations. Danny Boyle

She was beginning to realize that things may be happening for the best, that things would work out. But that might mean that her expectation for her saved marriage could be replaced by the hope of a genuine and mutual love with another. She was learning how to embrace her hope, release her expectations, and to even give thanks for this tragedy as the start for greater hopes and fulfillments.

I share this personal story with you, dear reader, for those of you who may be feeling self-destructive presently. Please wait. If the world turning into more and more tomorrows doesn’t change your perspective, you can always choose suicide later. But if you choose it now, you will never know when a moment of glimmering hope might expand into love, light and laughter again.