Do you ever find yourself filled with righteous indignation when you hear some politician or leader say or do something polarizing that lacks compassion and understanding? If so, it can be annoying to be reminded that when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you! But since there is a lot of finger pointing in our world today, I’ve come to find this expression more useful than annoying because it helps me become aware of how I’m adding to the anger and polarization in our society and I certainly don’t want to add to that!
The problem with polarization is that it immobilizes us into two camps that stay frozen and can’t move forward, unless one is willing to loosen up its stance a bit. We tend not want to do this because we think it will make us appear weak, or we are giving in and backing down.
I actually look at it a little differently, because I believe that if I can free myself from some judgment that is creating a sense of separation and alienation in me, it will give me the energy I need to restore a sense of connection to my community and bring healing to the world around me. So I use this expression as a tool to help me feel more empowered, not less.
It is easy for me to think "I’d never act that way" when I hear a leader spewing something hateful and unkind, or not responding to human suffering. But if I’m honest and ask myself; how or when have I ever added to hateful and unkind energy in this world, this frees me from being so judgmental and creates a space inside of me where I actually feel better and want to move forward, not stay stuck in anger.
Another way to apply this expression to your life is to ask yourself, who was cruel or unkind to you in your past that perhaps this person is reminding you of? This is often the work I do with my clients, particularly when I’m doing couples counseling, because so often a person we encounter in the world outside of us, triggers some unfinished business in the world inside of us.
When we take the time to go within and get to the real source of our pain or irritation, we can express some of that emotion, which helps us feel more peaceful, less triggered, and empowered to respond in a more loving and compassionate manner. So if you are feeling triggered by all the polarization and animosity in our world today, I’d love to help you manage your anger and free yourself from the stress if may be triggering in your relationships. If you want to know more about online counseling with me, you can click on my Services page.
Have you ever been so focused on one thing that you didn't notice something else annoying that was happening all around you? That happened to me yesterday when I meditated outside. Right after I opened my eyes and returned to the present moment, I was surprised to discover that I had several puffy mosquito bites on my hand. I was blissfully unaware of those mosquitoes buzzing around, and their bites had no impact on me at all. But once I opened my eyes and noticed them I began to itch all over!
This reminded me that what we focus our attention on and become aware of effects how we feel and then how we respond! Some people think this means you should avoid focusing your awareness on anything painful or unpleasant that "bugs" you but I think avoiding our problems just ends up making things worse.
I believe we have to notice the pain and suffering in the world and pay attention to our feelings. Our emotions give us the awareness of what we need to feel better, find solutions and choose what action to take. So their guidance shines a light on how to create the hope, healing and transformation we are seeking in our lives. I think it’s essential to pay attention to that!
Sometimes you aren’t aware of what is buzzing all around you and it can feel difficult to connect with the world inside. I’d love to help you with this, so you can click on my Services Page and learn more about online counseling with me.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting outside with a friend and when we stood up to say goodbye I must have stepped on a bee. I got stung on the exact spot where I had nerve pain in my foot, so that bee sting definitely got on my nerves. It also gave me a newfound appreciation for what that expression means, which we use when someone or something is really bothering us
Right now, there are many things in the world that are getting on our nerves, most of which we have no control over, and I’ve observed that it is making a lot of people ask questions like “am I depressed?” or “Do I have anxiety?”
Prior to the coronavirus most of us were so busy that we didn’t have time to listen to our emotions and pay attention to the world inside of us. Now after a few months of social distancing and staying home, we are paying more attention to what makes us anxious which I actually think is a good thing.
Part of managing anxiety is taking the time to be still and go within, so I realized we could probably learn something from the bees buzzing about in my yard. They move about from flower to flower, seeking the beauty of nature and gathering what they need to make honey, which brings a little sweetness into our lives.
My friend Patty sent me this picture of her artwork that captures the glory of the bee, but if you are struggling with depression or anxiety, it may seem hard to focus on beauty and bringing more sweetness in your life. I’d love to be able to help you with this, so please click on my Services page if you’d like to learn more about online counseling with me.
Whenever I’d speak up and get into trouble growing up, my mother would make me sit and write 100 times “ I will not be snippy,” Today we laugh about this and I tease her that she helped me start my writing career!
One of the things I value the most about writing is that it empowers you to express what you think and feel, which many people struggle with. They worry that if they are honest about what they think, feel or need, someone might get mad, disappointed, or even worse withhold their love or approval. But every time you swallow what you think or feel, you are basically saying to yourself. “ I don’t count and I don't matter, “ and those messages damage your self-esteem.
One great way to practice expressing (and listening to) what you think and feel is to write in a journal. And the best part is, since no else will read your journal but you, you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone else’s feelings.
You don’t need to spend money on a fancy journal in fact I think those can inhibit us from being truly honest if what we write doesn’t look pretty. I recommend you start with any old notebook and just write for 10 minutes a day about what you think and feel. But here’s the trick. You can’t write like anyone will ever read it, or you will censor yourself and won’t be honest, which defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.If you are worried about someone reading your journal, then after you read what you wrote, you can rip those pages up and throw them into the recycling bin. And as an added benefit -ripping up paper is another therapeutic exercise that can help you express your anger.
Try using a journal for 30 days as a way of acknowledging that what you think and feel matters. And if you are struggling with self esteem right now, I’d love to be able to help you with that. You can learn more about online counseling with me by clicking on my Services page.
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Last week I had a great opportunity to practice stepping out in faith and was rewarded for my courage! A luxury publication invited me to advertise in their quarterly magazine and initially, I was hesitant due to the cost and my doubt about who reads magazines in print anymore. But for some reason it felt right to do this so I decided to commit.
So here comes my reward. I got a 50 % reduction in the rate once I committed to the ad! I’ve learned this lesson so many times in my life that when I do what feels right and don’t second-guess-it with my mind, there is always some added good that comes my way, as if the universe is rewarding me for my faith and courage. I don’t think we ever completely lose our fear and hesitancy at times, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said “A great part of courage is the courage of having done this thing before.” The more we practice listening to our inner guidance, the more courage we have to trust it the next time and I believe practice is what builds confidence and courage more than anything else!
I’ve always loved pearls but not just for their beauty. I love that they are formed out of a gritty parasite that begins as an irritation to an oyster. The oyster responds by using a powerful defense mechanism and secretes a fluid that coats this irritant, and deposits layer upon layer of it, until it forms a beautiful pearl.
I believe the same is true for our defense mechanisms too. They were created in response to an irritant or stressor that we didn’t know how to manage or cope with, and they are actually our brilliant attempt to solve a problem. We too have something to coat our irritants with – its called loving kindness. When you deposit layer upon layer of loving kindness onto your deepest irritants and hurts, it creates something beautiful, and eventually, leaves you with a pearl of wisdom to appreciate.
This isn’t an easy process and requires you to go deep within, which is why I love this expression: “Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one you must dive deep!“
Whenever you are experiencing anxiety, you are most likely worried about something in the future that hasn’t actually happened yet, and imagining how you might cope with this if it does occur. This is usually a sign that something happened in your past that once made you feel helpless, out of control or unable to manage and now, a part of you doesn’t want to experience that feeling ever again!
One of the most powerful and effective ways to manage your anxiety is to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and notice where you store this anxiety in your body. Become aware of any tightness, constriction, or tension and once you pay attention you may notice that your anxiety has a color, shape, temperature or an image. If you keep breathing and notice this with gentle curiosity and without judgment, you may become aware of memory from when you were young and felt overwhelmed, scared or lonely and didn’t know how to cope.
My clients are often surprised that their anxiety is connected to a 3-year-old version of them who is scared of parents arguing, or a shy, 6-year-old version of them who has been bullied, or an embarrassed 12-year-old version of them who has just been teased. These younger parts of ourselves often emerge when we are feeling anxious and we don’t realize in the moment they are “driving the bus.”None of us want a younger overwhelmed child to handle a stressful situation without support of an adult, so you can imagine that an older wiser you from today in 2020, is reaching out to connect with this younger part of you to soothe it in some way, the same way you would soothe any other scared child who needs support. This older wiser you is who should drive the bus, and then the ride will be a lot smoother and you will arrive at your destination with more confidence and ease.
Years ago, we lived on the Gulf Coast and back then, it was hard to find many organic products in Mississippi. I decided to experiment with some organic fertilizer for our lawn and ordered a bag on the internet.
One beautiful spring day I was excited to try it out and while I was waiting for my helper Faye to arrive, I opened every window in our house to let the fresh air in. We put the fertilizer down so I hopped in the shower and went about the rest of my day. Later that evening my boyfriend came home and the first thing he said to me What is that awful smell? It must have been pretty bad because he went around and shut all our windows and when I asked what it smelled like he laughed and said It smells like the elephant tent at the circus! Thankfully, we had a week of rain after that so the odor disappeared, and a few weeks later, our grass was incredibly lush and green, and all our neighbors wondered what we used to make it look so healthy and grow so fast.
I often think about that fertilizer experience because it is a great reminder that the crappy, stinky things in life are what make the best fertilizer! Many of us are experiencing some mighty crappy, and stinky moments right now, but I wonder what they could be fertilizing inside of us?
I went to Catholic school when I was growing up so during the season of Lent we were encouraged to give up something for 40 days. One year my godmother decided she’d give up cookies for Lent, but would rationalize that she could still eat cookie dough because technically, it wasn’t a “ cookie” yet. Her daughter would tease her and threaten to call their parish priest to answer this theological question of “When does a cookie become a cookie?”
I always laugh when I think about this, because I know all of us can rationalize anything if we want it bad enough. In fact I found myself doing this yesterday about a bar of chocolate. I gave up caffeine about 8 years ago to help me with some health challenges, and I still miss it occasionally because a boost of caffeine can really help me with writer’s block. But since I feel way better without caffeine, it hasn’t been too hard to live without.
However, I love chocolate and a few months ago, I discovered Lily’s chocolate bars that are fair trade, gluten free, with no added sugar, so I try to make one bar last all week, and treat myself to a few squares a day. What I discovered by accident is that there is enough caffeine in a few bars to give me a little lift! So, like my godmother, I’ve been rationalizing and wondering- when does caffeine actually become caffeine? As long as I don’t drink it in tea or coffee does a chocolate bar really count?
Deep down I know the answer to this but I laughed at how easy it was for me to rationalize. I think the task it to be honest with ourselves, and enjoy a bit of pleasure without immediately feeling guilty. But maybe that’s another rationalization (or the result of being raised Catholic). Either way, the sweet taste of chocolate and a little boost of caffeine have helped me to write, and that brings me pleasure too!
Taking a bath is one of my favorite ways to relax - especially after a long day of counseling clients and helping the process their grief and trauma. Seeing this bear brought me pure delight and I could totally relate to how much he was enjoying taking a bath!! https://www.huffpost.com/entry/oregon-zoo-bear-tub_n_5eb4d005c5b66504cc841625 I hope it brings you as much delight!!
I love reading the messages on my teabags and this line from a poem by Emily Dickinson really made me think. “Beauty is not caused. It is.”
We spend so much energy trying to “ be beautiful” through fashion, hairstyles and cosmetics, but is that really beauty? To me, everything about nature is beauty, and I wonder if Emily Dickinson meant that beauty is that which is pure, natural and organic. Maybe beauty is what speaks to our heart and connects us to the light of our soul, makes us smile and cry tears of joy. As a therapist I’ve encountered beauty in the middle of our deepest sorrow because it sparks empathy and compassion and makes us reach for love and kindness.
What do you think beauty is? I'’ve decided that beauty is everywhere and “It is” anything that brings us delight!
My friend Patty works at Home Depot and last week as she was leaving the store at the end of her shift, she looked down and noticed these two leaves in the parking lot and decided they looked like Angel's Wings.. I was talking on the phone with her when she found them and a few hours later she sent me this picture of the Earth Angel she created from nature.
I believe Earth Angels are real and my friend Patty is one of them, she goes about doing kind things for people because that is what Earth Angels do. They understand that small things do matter and they often arrive on your doorstep when you need them the most. I had another Earth Angel deliver me a bouquet of gardenias from her garden this week, and she completely turned my day around.
While I'm grateful to work from home, doing counseling for 9 hours a day on a computer screen is challenging. Depending on my client's Wifi and the device they are using, and the amount of internet traffic at any given moment, there are constant interruptions, technology freezes and then the mic and video stops working. I often end the day with a headache and completely exhausted, so when I opened my door and saw this beautiful vase of flowers, it brought tears of joy to my eyes.
For the rest of this week my office has smelled heavenly and it shifts the way I feel the minute I walk into it. I am so grateful to my friend Renee for taking the time to do bring me gardenias and it made me think of this quote from Dr. Seuss, "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." Earth Angels have that kind of power!
I’ve always loved the word Delight! To me it means “of the light” and with all the darkness and fear in the world today, I wanted to create a place where we can gather together, restore our connection to the light and help one another to Delight The World with love, kindness, gentleness, beauty, compassion and grace. —Amy Rose, LCSW