Tag Archives: unhappiness

Loving What Is

By Dr. Nancy Buck

One of the biggest causes of mental upset and unhappiness comes from our own making. Every time we resist what is actually happening right now in real life we make our own distress and mental discomfort.

You wake up to discover that it is a rainy day. You were hoping for a sunny day to enjoy your morning walk. Boy that is annoying! You’re really trying to get into the habit of getting outside everyday to walk and quiet  your mind. And now you can’t go!

What a perfect evening you had planned. You and a friend were going to have a lovely meal together then go see a movie. You were really looking forward to this. But your friend calls to cancel at the last minute. Now what? You’re fun evening is destroyed. Can you ever rely on this friend to come through?

Oh my gosh. You realize you’re getting sick – again! How many colds does that make for you since the fall? Does your body ever cooperate? You’re really being conscientious, taking special care of your diet, your exercise, your work out routines. And still you keep getting sick.

These are just a few examples of what may happen when what we get is very different from what we want. Upset, frustration, anger and disappointment are not unusual feelings.

But remaining in this same emotional spot long after the disappointment is over then becomes a choice. And with that choice comes the persistence in resisting what is actually happening now. Ever heard the expression “What you resist persists?”

The longer we hold on to our upset, disappointment and frustration about reality not turning into what we planned and wanted the longer we will continue to feel upset, disappointed and frustrated.

What can you do instead? Accept what is.

How? Get curious and see if you can discover the “silver lining” in the new reality of what is.

Need better instructions to follow this idea? Watch the movie Silver Linings Playbook. The whole movie is about our hero learning to make the best he can from some unhappy, disappointing changes and challenges in his life. Once he begins to accept what is actually happening now in his life, he discovers unexpected silver linings!

Want to improve your mental health and happiness? Start looking for your silver linings in your disappointments. When you are open to the possibilities you are more likely to discover unexpected treasures.

 

Reflection: Take the First Step – Turn on your Bright Lights

By Debbie Crinzi

Reflection is a critical part of making life better and happier. I compare the process of reflection to using your bright lights when driving. When you have good habits that keep you on track and the world around you is clear and understandable, you don’t feel the need to use your bright lights. However, when problems arise and unhappiness ensues that is the time to turn them on.

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The first step towards reflection involves turning on your bright lights. I often look for a quiet place to be alone where whether sitting, standing, or lying down I can deliberately relax every part of the body – starting with facial muscles, moving to neck, shoulder, neck, arms and hands.  Then I focus on calm, even breathing. Sometimes I have to start counting my breaths before I can just focus on the breath entering and leaving my body.  I have to control the thoughts flooding my mind before I can listen. Emptying my mind of thought, just focusing on breath, is the trigger to turning on bright lights. It is the first step towards self reflection. Try it! Whether indoors, outdoors or just sitting in the car, take a moment to first relax your body and then to clear your mind of its busy thoughts.

What you do a lot you get good at doing. It is easier for me to practice relaxing my body’s muscles and taking calm, even breaths when standing at the kitchen sink or looking out the window. I don’t have to wait until my emotions are choking me to use this skill. Actually, I want to become good at doing it before problems occur. By practicing the relaxing of my body and clearing my mind of anything except for my breathing, I discovered that it becomes easier to use this skill during times of stress and anxiety. After all, what you do a lot, you do become good at doing! Practice this skill at any time of the day for any amount of time. Putting the practice in strengthens your personal mind control and allows you to retrieve the skill when unhappiness pervades your life.

 

Shame & Guilt: The Happiness Destroyer (Part 2)

 

By Michael Rice, LISAC

One of the necessary approaches in dealing with addicts or alcoholics is to help the person release or let go of all their shame and guilt.  You don’t have to be an addict or an alcoholic for this to be effective in your life.  Anyone who harbors shame and guilt will not know true happiness and peace of mind until they are rid of their shameful and guilt ridden thoughts.

 

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What is often amazing to both myself and to my clients is to discover that much of what they are keeping secretive, along with the fear of being discovered, is so trite in nature that if or when others did find out, the discoverers would either be understanding, bored, or not even care.  All the stress and fears of being discovered are self-imposed.  It would also appear that those who are most susceptible to shame and guilt by the manipulation of others who believe what one “should’ think or do, are the most easily taken advantage of.  These individuals have a very hard time in saying “no” to others and end up doing things that they really would rather not do only to please the person making the request.  They would create feelings of shame and guilt in themselves if they refused the requests of others.  Afterwards, they begin to feel angry and turn their anger inwardly (depression) because they would feel guilty and shameful if they let their anger out.  Continually giving up one’s own wants and needs for the sake of someone else’s wants and needs will lead to unhappiness.  Once a person shows signs of continually trying to please others, others will begin to take advantage of this trait.  No one can walk on you if you don’t lay down.

In A.A., members who seek recovery along with their sobriety do more than merely attend meetings.  They put the twelve steps into action with the help of a sponsor.  Ridding one’s self of shame and guilt is like having the weight of the world taken off one’s shoulders.  It’s like being able to exhale after holding your breath for years.  I have even witnessed some individuals break down in tears of joy after letting go of their shame and guilt.  It is truly a sight to behold and an experience one never forgets once they release it.  The process involves making amends wherever possible, forgiving one’s self, and realizing that they are humans who are prone to make mistakes and yet still be loved; feeling worthy of giving and receiving love. 

One’s lack of self love is due to their perception about themselves which is laden in shame and guilt. The second genetic need for Love and Belonging is so powerful that when adequately acquired, all of the other genetic needs seem to be more easily attained.  Not only does one need Love and Belonging from others but from one’s self.  How can you expect others to love you if you don’t like and love yourself?     

Personally, I contend that when a person finds love through someone else’s acceptance, they are actually feeling love for themselves as much as for their partner.  It is the concept of, “I like me better because you love me.”  Love for another person enhances our need for love of our self.

In the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) begins to realize he is miserable without love and belonging?  He finds himself being attracted to Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) and on a casual date he says to her, “You make me want to be a better man.”  Melvin has reached an epiphany and realizes that if he wants love and belonging, he needs to stop being such a jerk that drives others away.  He’s beginning to deal with his shame and guilt.  And what does this all mean?  If you want things in life to be better, the first person who needs to change is one’s self.

Shame & Guilt: The Happiness Destroyer (Part 1)

 

By Michael Rice, LISAC

All of us have done something in our life of which we are not particularly proud.  And there may be some who may have even had some things happen to them by someone else that they are keeping secret.  In either case, the basis for keeping these things secret and not wanting others to know about them will be rooted in two things:  Shame and Guilt.

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Shame and guilt can be the core of most, if not all, of one’s unhappiness.  Yet both shame and guilt are not always bad.  There is such a thing as healthy shame and guilt and these are the principles which keep many people from breaking laws, harming others, or performing deeds that would affect others in negative ways.  It could be said that healthy shame and guilt keeps our innate urge to be selfish or harm others in check.

I don’t believe we know about shame and guilt until we have been taught what is proper and what is not proper when interacting in society and in our families of origin.  And while we are known to be products of our environment, there are some individuals who have not been taught about what may be right or wrong and therefore may possess minimal shame and guilt, if at all.  And there are some parents who use shame and guilt to “control” their children . . . to manipulate them to behave the way they want them to or to get from them what they feel they are lacking.  Playing the martyr is an example of how this is utilized by a parent or spouse to get love and attention that they feel that don’t have.  They suffer or pretend to suffer to instill shame and guilt in someone so that the other person will show them some pity and attention. . . .another form of external control.

It is toxic shame and guilt that destroys one’s happiness and peace of mind.  Toxic shame and guilt consist of the following beliefs:  Guilt is: I DID something wrong.  Shame is: I AM something wrong.

We often hear, “We’re as sick as our secrets,” and to this I must agree.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep from being “found out.”  One must be ever vigilant and looking over their shoulder to keep others from finding out whatever it is they don’t want others to know. Shame and guilt affects all of our genetic Basic Needs of Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun.

A leading cause of substance abuse is found in what is referred to as the Shame and Guilt Spiral.  Drugs and alcohol put to sleep what would make a person feel bad.  As long as they are high or buzzed, the things that normally tend to cause one to feel bad go away, albeit temporarily.  What happens next is the spiral.  Once sober, they begin to feel badly about what they just did (drinking or using) on top of all of the other things of which they feel bad.  They just added another 5 pounds of shame and guilt in a 3 pound container.  The quickest remedy?  Drink or use some more.  This behavior continues to spiral downward until they either get help or die.

A Little Acceptance

by Dr. Nancy Buck

Spending time with a  person who is in a miserable mood can be a misery.

You mention what a beautiful day you’re both blessed with and your companion mentions the irritating bugs that are so annoying. You smile for no particular reason and your grumble-grouch side kick complains that your ubiquitous joy is another source or irritation. Are you beginning to suspect that your friend is doing everything possible to have you join in the misery?

Is it possible that you are doing everything possible to have your partner join you in joy?

We human beings are a funny lot. Although no one can make us feel happy or miserable, feelings and emotions certainly seem contagious. Hanging around someone who is full of unhappiness and complaints can lead to our own feelings of irritation and upset. It is also possible that spending time with someone who is full of joy and laughter can influence our improved mood.

But if you are dancing and singing, standing on your head and juggling chickens all in an attempt to “cheer”someone’s mood, this will almost always backfire. If a person is committed to or needing to feel unhappy, miserable or grouchy for awhile, there is nothing that anyone can do to change their mind. They have to make this decision and choice themselves.

The one thing that you can do, however, that is kind, loving and respectful is to simply accept that your companion is feeling, thinking and behaving in a bad, sad or complaining mood. You don’t have to like it. And if you feel their mood is “rubbing off”on you, you can choose to temporarily disconnect. But the last thing you should do is to try and “make”them change their mind and mood.

Accepting the feelings of another, whether the other is your child, your parent, your partner or your friend is respectful, kind and loving. Accept that they are feeling this way for their own very good reasons, whether you understand those reasons or not. You can offer a listening ear and an understanding heart, if they want it. But trying to convince them not to feel the way they are is disrespectful, unkind and unloving.

You can contribute to the Mental Health & Happiness of another if you accept that this person is feeling the way they are. You can also contribute to your own Mental Health & Happiness by accepting your own feelings.

You ain’t nuthin but a hound dog!

By Mike Rice

We humans can be pretty resilient when disappointed or when things don’t go our way.  One of the most common ways people declare their unhappiness is by complaining.  When all known skills to overcome one’s unhappiness fail, complaining becomes evident.  We’ve all heard the old saw, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”  But also, the squeaky wheel can also get replaced.

There is a belief that exists that by moaning and groaning, somehow, somewhere, someone will come along with the answer to one’s unhappiness or even resolve their unhappiness for them.  This usually occurs when the complainer has given up on their own ability to ease their frustration.  So they continue to go through life, moaning and groaning and not doing much about their unhappiness except to give up and endure it . . . complaining all along.

Motivational speaker, Les Brown, tells the story of a young man who heard a sorrowful moaning and groaning sound as he was walking down the street in his neighborhood.  He wondered who and why someone was making this sad lament.  He followed the sorrowful sounds as it got louder and louder indicating he was nearing the source.  He came upon an elderly man sitting on his porch reading a newspaper.  Lying next to the old man was an equally old hound dog.  The young man approached the older man and asked:

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“Excuse me sir.  Is that your dog making that mournful sound?”
The old man replied:  “Yup.”
The young man asked, “Why is he moaning and groaning like that?”
The old man answered, “’Cause he’s laying on a nail.”
This prompted the younger man to ask, “Then why doesn’t he get up?”
And the old man replied, “’Cause he ain’t hurtin’ bad enough yet.”

Is moaning and groaning resolving your unhappiness or is it just easing your frustration?  Have you found many people to join you in your unhappiness?  Misery loves company but company hates misery.   Whenever you get tired of all the complaining that isn’t making you feel any better, you have three choices you can rely on that will bring you happiness at a moment’s notice . . . guaranteed.

It’s So Easy to Fall In Love

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Seek wisdom in all that you do, but especially in your relationships.  Much human misery is the result of simply making bad choices based on ephemeral attractions.  The journey through life is a maze of choices.  Success in life is built on making more wise choices than the other kind.

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Dr. Glasser distinguishes between pleasure and happiness.  If life choices are made in a quest for pleasure, it is likely that those choices will result in unhappiness.  Happiness is not a condition that we can reach for directly.  It is the result of making life enhancing choices.   Happiness is enduring and is built on loving and being loved in close relationships.

Years ago a friend of mine made a rather cynical comment about choosing a mate.  He said that most young men spend more time researching their choice of a car than they do in their choice of a mate.

The emotional thrill of infatuation, which we idolize as “being in love”, can entice us to make choices that cannot last.    I used to tease my children when they were teens.  I’d sing Buddy Holly’s song “It’s so easy to fall in love.”  What I was saying is that if you put two young and attractive people close enough, long enough, the built in chemistry of our sexual nature will cause them to “fall in love.”  The problem is that infatuation does not last.

Choice Theory offers a great deal of wisdom in building long lasting satisfying relationships.  Start with understanding the Solving Circle, and then go on to think about how your needs and the needs of the other fit together.  The pleasure of “being in love” is certainly a pleasant component to a relationship, but a more firm foundation is usually required if that relationship is to last.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of “advice” that tends to be dismissed more readily than pondered and applied.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions.  Those of us who contribute to this page see our job as more than just to write a quick blog and then move on.  We are available to answer questions and offer further suggestions on how to apply what we write about.  We really do want to contribute to your mental health and happiness.