Releasing Yourself From Your Pain

Posted by Harriet on

082615_Overcoming-The-Tyranny-Of-VictimhoodWe often have no control over a lousy circumstance.   A death, an illness, an accident, a breakup, a job loss – these things can just happen to us, without any responsibility on our part.  (Although we need to always check ourselves to see if and what our part may have been, from which we can then learn and grow)

We can control how we move through and beyond the pain of the situation.

The big question is: do we desire healing?  This seems so obvious.  Of course, we all want relief from pain.  But often it seems like we become a victim of our pain.  We remain focused on the other, on what someone else did to us, on what God did to us, on what the world did to us, and we remain feeling connected in a reproachful way.

A  key to healing is to look to yourself, to “sweep in front of your own house”, to defocus on the offender and decide how you’re going to recreate your life.  In this regard, self-focus is needed.

It is all too easy to stay fixated on blame and offenses done to us.  That keeps us stuck in our lousy situation and certainly in the drama of it.  We need to disconnect to begin to heal.

How do we look towards peace and healing?

We “can’t heal what we don’t feel”.  (David Kessler, grief specialist)

  • So feeling is the first order – let yourself feel the pain.  Feel all the sadness, rage, shock, jealousy. 

Living With Pain And Hope

Posted by Harriet on


How do we find our way back into the world after an awful and painful life situation?

After a divorce we wonder if we’ll ever love again.  After the death of a loved one, we grief so deeply and wonder if the blackening sadness and excruciating pain will ever go away?  Dealing with an illness, we question if we will be able to overcome our health challenge.

We come head-on into lousy circumstances, And we can choose our response.  We receive something bad And we can determine what we make of it.  We can’t necessarily pick what we get but we can choose how we deal with it.

Responsible – response +able = we are able in our responses.  We may have little to no control over certain external happenings but we have control and ‘ableness‘ over our responses to our happenings.

This awareness of our ability to do something with an adversity that’s smacked us in the face can be the difference between succumbing or rising.

As Viktor Frankl (Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor; founder of logotherapy- therapy of meaning, and author of world renowned book, Man’s Search for Meaning) famously stated, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.

Learning Resiliency Gets Us Through Life

Posted by Harriet on


I’m sure we’ve all, at some point, looked at someone going through a difficult time who appears to be handling it fairly well and remarked, ‘I could never be like them, they’re so strong.’  And we think they’re just naturally strong and can handle anything.

The truth is (according to the latest research) that although some people may come pre-wired with what appears to be more innate strength, a half-full glass attitude and better coping skills, this ability to manage life challenges and difficulties involve skills that can be learned and increased.  Resilience, a concept that is certainly not new but has become a buzz word and quite popular lately, as we are seeing the make- or- break affect it’s having in dealing with life’s inevitable storms that blow through all our lives, and often at high stakes. It stems from the Latin word resilio which means to jump back.

And it’s more.  It includes the ability to:

Cope, persevere, grow, learn and be open to new ways.

It is the antithesis of succumbing, remaining flattened out and crushed by failure and disappointment, or shutting down and shutting off the valve of life.

Resilience helps us move through the challenges and adversities of life.  We need to be able to go through the darkness of job loss, illness, divorce, death of a loved one, and emerge into the light as a survivor and eventually a thriver.  As the writer and Holocaust scholar, Terrence des Pres wrote about survivors, they are “as stubborn as the upsurge of spring.”

Everything comes back in full bloom in the spring.  

Being With Our Emotions

Posted by Harriet on

scan0003People sometimes say, ‘Don’t just sit there, do something.’ But we have to reverse that statement to say, ‘Don’t just do something, sit there.’”  Thich Nhat Hanh


The introduction and now prevalence of the concept of mindfulness into mainstream society (not just up on mountain tops with monks and spiritual gurus) has brought with it the action of {just} ‘sitting’.  It usually refers to sitting in meditation.

But let’s take ‘sitting’ a step further to the idea of ‘being’, as opposed to doing.  We know we’re all about doing.  And the more we do the seemingly better off we are.  We’re productive, accomplished and busy with the business of life.  But we’re losing something along the way.  We’re losing our way towards that rich, meaningful and engaged life.

Mindfulness is here to help bring us back a wee bit and center us from the over-shoot and over-emphasis towards all that doing.  It’s focus is on being with life, taking it in, feeling it, observing it.

More specifically I’m looking here at emotions and how mindfulness, or being with our feelings, plays out.

We’re all naturally quick to want to rid ourselves of any negative emotions.  Nobody wants to feel bad –  be it fearful, worried, anxious, angry, frustrated, sad, jealous and the whole gamut of disturbing feelings.  We want to run from them as fast as possible by numbing, distracting, negating, fixing.

What would happen if we just sat with those uncomfortable feelings for a while?  What if we became aware of them and stayed with them, observing and feeling, before we tried to change and purge them from our being? 

Mindfulness – The Rich Life

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_3012Walking along a beautiful nature trail, crunching those fallen golden leaves under our feet, hubby says, “ so what’s your schedule for tomorrow (Monday).  A very common question for him.  My response has lately become, “Let’s not talk about tomorrow right now, let’s just focus on here and now and take it in.”  May sound corny but it’s become very natural for me.  I don’t want to lose the experience we set out to enjoy, or to be really corny – I want to revel in it.

At my daughter’s wedding (6 years ago), my one piece of advice to her on that day was, “focus and feel each part of the wedding for it goes by in the blink-of-an-eye and it will then feel like a dream.”

Did you ever drive someplace and when you got there you didn’t even remember driving?  It’s as if you were on auto-pilot.  That’s often how we live our lives.  We go through the motions and land up where we need to be.  And then we wonder about the blurriness of it all.   Like the eveready energizer bunny, we just keep on going.  Wind us up and we’re off.    But where’s the joy, the richness, the engagement??  It’s all so fleeting and oftentimes unnoticeable.

At some point we may wake up and realize, wow where did it all go?  Now truth be told, time goes very fast no matter how we live it.  As Gretchin Rubin says, “The days are long but the years are short.

Feeling Alone In A Season Of Joy

Posted by Harriet on


The official holiday season is upon us.  A time to be joyful and happy.   But for oh so many it’s not quite that glowing a time.  In fact, it’s the opposite.   And because the hoopla is so high and dazzled with such excitement, the low tide of those feeling anything but, is expansive, magnified and intensified.

The idea of gathering together in relationships and family connections, digs that hole even deeper into the heart and soul of those sailing alone.  And those who are seemingly externally connected may also feel that pit of despair, hopelessness and emptiness to the core, oftentimes unbeknownst to their loved ones.   Feelings of loss are hollowing during a time of expected rejoicing.

And so for all those suffering through this “should be” happy season, your pain and loneliness stands atop of the mountain with open arms to a world larger than your sight.  It is understood, it is acknowledged, it is felt, even if by only a few.

But here’s the key: it needs to be understood, acknowledged and felt by you, the one who stands alone in pain.

  • Befriend your pain; let yourself feel it.  It won’t shatter you.  Accept that it is a part of you right now and let that be O.K.   Sit with it and talk with it like you would to a friend.  Be your own friend, comforting and soothing, not dismissive or judgmental.    Otherwise, the more you resist it, the bigger it gets.
  • Step outside yourself and go do for others. 

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