5 Things To Do When A Difficulty Arises

Posted by Harriet on

ballooning7You’re going through a rough time.  How do you cope and manage?  How do you stay afloat right now?

1.  Acknowledge the difficulty to yourself.  “This is really hard for me.  I am so stressed.  How will I keep doing this?

2.  Give yourself permission to be human.  There need not be guilt or shame in what you’re feeling.  You can be angry, resentful, overwhelmed, grief-stricken, jealous.  It’s only when you let yourself feel acknowledge the feelings for what they are that they begin to soften and lesson their tight grip around you.

3.  Give yourself some compassion like you would to a friend in need.  You’re doing the best you can in the moment.  Supportive self-talk can be soothing.

4.”Indulge” in some positive respite.  Oftentimes you feel guilty doing something good for yourself when something challenging is going on.  It’s at just those times that you need to allow yourself even a few minutes of self-comfort, pleasure, relaxation, healthy distraction.  It fills up your inner reservoir and helps keep  you going.

5.  One step at a time.  Keep your eyes focused on where you are and don’t look too far ahead.  Some hardships are acute – meaning short in duration; others are chronic, where they’re onging.   Either way, staying focused on the present helps you stay grounded on what you need to do right now, both for the other person/situation and for yourselves.   Each time you get through one thing, you can feel more adept and able to do the next.

Kids Are Too Busy Doing

Posted by Harriet on

busyWe’re all busy Doing.  And we’re all getting stressed, anxious, burned-out and sick from all our doings.  Kids included!

Kids especially!

Warning:  Too much Doing is harmful for our kids.  Side effects include:  anxiety, depression, stomach aches, headaches and other physical symptoms, eating disorders, cutting, addictions, suicide.

Antidote:  Engage in more Being.  Play more; dream more; have down time – unstructured time to maybe even do nothing.  More emphasis on internal qualities like perseverance, compassion, grit;  as opposed to over-excessive focus on achievement and performance as the end-all.

We all need balance.  Balance between work and play; between doing and being; between internal and external.

We need to Be well so we can Do well.  When we keep pushing ourselves to Do well, we are paying a  high price.  That price is ourselves.  We are losing ourselves in the Doing/Busy process.   We are losing our health and well-being.

Kids especially, as they’re growing their young selves into supposedly mature beings.  They’re losing their childhood to the extreme pressures and demands of extraordinariness.  It’s all geared to peak  performance and perfectionism.   Good enough isn’t good enough.  Children are like little pressure cookers ready to explode.

The explosions are happening right before our eyes:  with every child/teen who cuts themselves, with every heroin user, with every suicide.

Kids need to see, feel and experience that life is rich with all facets:  the Doing to get somewhere, to achieve and produce;  And the Being to know one’s self , to connect  with self and others,  to cultivate and exercise one’s inner resources to live through the twists and turns that most assuredly come along the way.

Mind Over Body – Resiliency At Its Best

Posted by Harriet on

resilienceJust saw the movie, The Theory of Everything, about the life of Stephen Hawking.  Talk about resiliency, perseverance, rising above and beyond!    He is a supreme example of overcoming adversity!  Having lived over 50 years with the {most often} fatal and horrifically degenerative disease, ALS,  also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, he is clearly an outlier.  But besides living way beyond the usual life expectancy for this illness, he is an outlier because of his incredible ability to rise above and continue on.  Having lost all physical and bodily functions including his ability to speak and write, he wasn’t giving up on life.  He used technology to speak and write for him so that he could use the one thing he had left – a brilliant working mind.

He never let his limitations, as extreme as they were, further limit him.  While his body was contracting, he – his spirit and mind – was expanding.  They continued {and continue} to evolve.

I don’t know the medical/scientific reasons for living so long with this fatal disease; I’m not sure anybody knows at this point.  But to me this points to the concept of mind over matter, literally.  His mind overtook his body and kept it ticking.  And talk about the idea of Purpose keeping us going.   He had a driving force – contemplating, discovering, creating and teaching new ideas.  His brain churned and churned, and continues today.

Are we pushing through our difficulties and growing ourselves?   Are we utilizing our gifts? 

Staying With Our Difficult Feelings

Posted by Harriet on

oceanwavesWe run from pain.  It’s the natural way.  Fight or flight – we detect danger, we run.

But what about emotional pain?  We also seem to run from that.  After all, who the heck wants to feel  anger, sadness, grief and all those other icky feelings. We do whatever it takes to avoid, numb or squelch them.  We know all the ways to do that.  That’s easy.   But like that tube of toothpaste it eventually starts to ooze out and make a mess.

What if we just sat with these difficult feelings?    What if we allowed them in?  What if instead of pushing them away, we, dare I say, welcomed them?   What would happen?  Would they destroy us?  At times we certainly feel like they would.

Emotions are like waves; they come and go and the intensity fluctuates as well.  They come crashing in and then more calmly retreat.  We must hold on;  we need to believe that we can.  It’s called trust – trusting in ourselves and in the process that in going through it, we will come through it.  They can wash through us, give us a soaking and then we can dry off.

I invite you to start taking note of these feelings of fear,sadness, anger, frustration as they bubble up and surface in the ordinary moments of daily life (not the awful life situations).  When we become mindful of them, we begin to have more control over them as opposed to them taking control over us. 

How Do We Greet The New Day?

Posted by Harriet on

SwissAlps2012Harriet 668editedRachel, my 3 ½ year old granddaughter loves the music from the show Aladdin, especially the song, A Whole New World.  She knows all the words by heart.  One of my favorite times lately is tucking her into bed, either at her house when I babysit or at mine when she has a sleep-over, and singing to her A Whole New World.  I, of course, have to pull out my copy of the words since I don’t remember them as she does.

But let’s back track a minute. Before getting to bed she sometimes goes through the normal resistance.  I get it – who wants to stop playing?  Who wants to end a day of Fun, awe, amazement and curiosity?  It is a whole new world for someone here only three- plus years.   No one wants to stop and turn off the lights on that.

And so I start to sing that tomorrow is a whole new day… of more play….

She eventually gets into bed and I sing the real song and watch her fluttering eyelids as they gently close down for the night; gentleness and beauty in its purest form.


Imagine if we all went to sleep feeling the wonder of a whole new day tomorrow.   And then woke up raring to greet the day with hope and joy.

Of course there are many of us who feel the opposite –who don’t want to welcome a new day; it’s too painful.  The loss may be too great, the sadness too deep, the stress too overwhelming. 

Reactive Or Responsive

Posted by Harriet on

reactrespond“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Victor Frankl


The space is there between the provocation and our response.  We can utilize that space to choose a response rather than an automatic and reflexive reaction.

This is quite a transformative concept.  We don’t have to be a victim to our knee-jerk reaction, with the attitude of, “I’ve always reacted this way and I guess I always will.”  That’s the mindset of someone who’s resistant to change and would rather keep doing what they’ve been doing, no matter what the cost to them might be. Of course, many people who subscribe to this mentality look to the outside, the external circumstances, to justify their re-actions and even use that pointer finger to blame.  How much easier this is.  It takes us out of ourselves and puts it on the other.  The price can be very high when relationships are compromised or even ruined and shame and guilt live deep within, while anger has a good parking spot right at the corner of our lives.

I recently attended a presentation on the brain and mindfulness and one of the presenters said we need to strive to “respond wisely instead of react blindly.”   When we react in the heat of the moment in anger or stress, it’s as if we’re reacting blindly, just shooting off our emotion.

The fact that we can choose our response is huge. 


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