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healing

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Feelings. Better Out Than In.

Far too often, most of us choke on our feelings. We feel tears welling up with that awful, aching lump in the throat, and we take several deep breaths, forcing the emotions back down where they can do all kinds of damage. They make us sick or depressed, give us physical pain and discomfort, sometimes with the weirdest symptoms that doctors simply cannot explain.

We fear being seen as weak. For some reason, our culture thinks a display of emotion means we're out of control. But there are only two occasions on which emotions can hurt us.

One is when we stuff them and do not acknowledge them. The other is when we make hasty decisions purely because of our feelings, without thinking them through, and end up hurting ourselves - or others - as the result of our poor choices.

But there is nothing wrong with having painful or difficult feelings, and there is nothing wrong with expressing them (appropriately). Having them makes us human. Expressing them helps to get rid of them and it connects us with others, many of whom will offer support and comfort, thereby strengthening our bonds with one another.

The best way to get rid of unwanted feelings is to immerse yourself in them. Take a little time and allow yourself to really feel every bit of whatever it is that hurts. If you want to cry, cry. Lots. Until you can't cry any more. You'll feel a whole lot better for it. If you're frightened, feel the fear. Ask for some hand-holding. And remind yourself that you are strong enough to get through anything.

Do whatever you need to do when bothersome feelings are standing in the way of you and your happiness, and let them out. Get it over and done - once and for all.

Think of it as housecleaning. Gathering all the rubbish and putting it out on the drive to be collected on trash day. If you keep digging, eventually you'll find less and less “stuff” that needs removing and turfing.

This doesn't mean it's a good thing to sit around and feel miserable every waking minute either. You must strike a balance. But certainly, choking back unhappy feelings is not any better for you than spending 24/7 whining about your miseries for days, weeks and months on end. Once the crying jag is behind you, take some time to look at the positives in your life. Set some goals and take a step or two (even if they're teeny) toward achieving them.

Just don't be afraid of your feelings. Allow them to be heard. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, as the good Dr Phil says. Give your feelings a chance to speak up so you know just what's on your plate. Chances are, the more you do this, the quicker the issue will dissolve or will find a resolution in your heart.

You wouldn't let an infection fester below the surface or in your blood. You'd be off to the doc, figuring out how to fix it because you know that infections left untended can kill you. Well, negative emotions can do it, too. Quietly and insidiously by giving you cancer, heart disease or a million other ailments, or a little more overtly by making you say and do some very hurtful things to yourself and/or to others.

Expressing your emotions is the great equaliser. It makes you the same as everyone else. It levels the playing field. It shows your strength. It shows your vulnerability, your softness.

It helps people get to know you because they see just what affects you on a deep level, which then connects you with everyone else on the planet because really, we are all pretty much the same in many ways. We are unique in our personalities and in our perceptions of our life experiences, of course, but everyone hurts, everyone needs, everyone feels some version of the same emotions. How we do all of this and how we express these aspects of ourselves is what separates us from one another.

But we're really not so different in terms of our emotions. So go on. Stop hiding behind a wall that you think keeps you separate and sets you apart from everyone else. Because I can assure you, you're not fooling anyone. We know you hurt, too.

And we'll be here for you when you're brave enough to tell us about it.

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Your Words Don't Tell the Whole Story...

Think about the people in your life...just take a moment and contemplate anyone who comes to mind, whether they're positive thoughts or negative ones...

Go ahead; think of a few more. The ones who make you want to tear your hair out, the ones you want to see all the time, the ones you avoid like the plague... just briefly think of each one and move on to the next...

Did you get a good sampling? I hope so.

Now, what happened while you were doing that? I'll bet you were thinking about how each one made you feel. You'd remember one and feel all oatmealy (warm and mushy), you'd think of another and feel your blood begin to boil, and there were probably some in between, or even a bit of both.

You were not likely thinking about this or that specific thing that they did with you or for you. As your memory took you from one person to the next, you wouldn't have been thinking about them at all. Chances are, you were just feeling about them. Because that's what's important to us.

When you leave the lives of people with whom you've interacted, whether for three days, two weeks, or by moving, drifting apart, or departing this Earthly existence, first and foremost, you will be remembered for how they felt because of the way you treated them. The specific memories will come next.

The way you treat people will leave an impression, and it is the most important element in any sort of relationship, no matter what that relationship is. It might only be your occasional dealings with a little old lady you see in the village as she's walking her dog. It could be your sister or your neighbour or the grouchy man who runs the post office.

Have you ever been itching to share your favourite places or events with people who didn't really want to go? But you said "Pretty please" or maybe you didn't - but at any rate, they finally agreed to go, and you could tell they hated every minute of it?

Or have you ever been with people who said and did all the right things, perhaps they fed and housed you, or had to drive you to appointments or whatever, but you felt that it was out of obligation and you just knew they didn't really want to do it?

I'm sure that like most people, you can relate to these and other similar situations. And no doubt when you remember those situations, the first thing you do is remember how you felt. It doesn't matter whether those people showed up, attended the event with you, said please and thank you, said it's no trouble at all, or insisted they were happy to help.

The only thing that you're really left with are feelings that aren't very nice. 

Words don't always say very much. Imagine this: A man gazes lovingly at his wife while she reads the paper. He reaches over and lays his hand gently on her arm. Softly, he says, "I love you, honey.

She looks up from her paper, turns to him and you can see her face soften into a warm smile as she says, "I love you, too." You might guess how he feels in that moment. What a lucky guy!

Now same scenario again. Husband gazes at wife, loving rests his hand on her arm and says he loves her. She doesn't look up from her paper. She continues reading. There's a noticeable pause and he's not sure she heard him but before he can repeat it, and without looking up from her paper, she says in a tone as flat as a pancake, "Hmm...love you, too."

He's probably not as happy as the other guy.

It's not what you do for people; it's how you do it. It's not what you say; it's how you say it. Is it with a sour attitude? Is it with "I'll get you for this" in your mind? Or is it with a loving heart, and a willingness to bring joy to someone's life?

The size of the gesture is irrelevant. Whether or not it's something huge and expensive and time-consuming, or something very teeny like remembering a favourite little treat.

It is not what you do for someone, or what you say that is important. It is how you do whatever you do, or how you say whatever you say that matters, because that is what will trigger an emotional response in the person on the receiving end of it.

Think about how you would like to be remembered and let this be reflected in all you say and do.

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With every ending, there's always a beginning.

Generally speaking, our culture is frightened of loss, one of the greatest of which is death. It is a subject that makes people squirm as they try to avoid discussing it. We have all sorts of euphemisms for it, we shield children from it and many of us struggle to cope with the idea of our own mortality.

In a Tarot reading, people come unglued when they see the Death card appear. They think it means they're going to die and once again, we see this aversion to the entire subject. But the Death card means change, transformation. It means death in a symbolic way, followed by rebirth.

And with rebirth comes a new beginning, a fresh start.

Physical death is like this, too, as we shed our bodies and return to the spirit realm. It is simply a transformation, but one that those people left in the earthly realm do not always accept easily.

Endings and beginnings...beginnings and endings...you cannot have one without the other. Too often, endings are not by our own choice, which can make the new beginning at least as difficult. Sometimes even though we need or want change, and we just wish this or that could happen, we're still hanging on to what we've got with a 'have your cake and eat it, too' attitude.

But too often, this is not how it works.  In order for those changes to occur, and for us to get the desired result, we must let go of what we've got now and make room for whatever comes next.

I used to be unbearably sentimental about 'stuff'. I had the most ridiculous keepsakes - ticket stubs, corks from wine shared on a special evening, bits of wrapping paper from special gifts, napkins, swizzle sticks, tiny plastic toys from boxes of popcorn, every card and letter I was ever given, and countless items so silly I can't even remember what they were.

And of course there were more 'normal' items to which I attached myself. Furnishings, ornaments, dishes - and like many people, there was 'my mug'. How many people are very possessive about a particular mug they use for their coffee or tea? Or about their favourite chair at the table, or where they sit in the sitting room? Sheldon's "spot" on the Big Bang Theory, or Archie Bunker's chair on All In The Family...

I used to be very connected to my 'stuff' and even more so to any of it that had even remotely sentimental value.

When I say 'stuff', I'm not just talking about material possessions either. I'm also talking about aspects of my life that were important to me. A relationship or friendship, an activity I loved, or some part of my life that I didn't think I could do without.

I kept focusing on the losses and was so immersed in grief I couldn't stand to be in my own skin.

With an ongoing theme of loss throughout my life, eventually I thought I ought to figure out what I could learn from it so it wouldn't feel so awful.

First, I realised that as long as I focused on the losses, I wouldn't see the many blessings that remained.

Secondly, I discovered that with loss (and all challenges) comes the opportunity for a huge perspective shift. It's a chance to look for the positives, to focus on the happy memories or relationships that are associated with whatever it is that is changing or gone.

And thirdly, there is the Buddhist view that all suffering comes from attachment, and I can certainly say that the less attached I am to any 'stuff', the happier I am because when the 'stuff' goes, without attachment it cannot hurt.

And there is another important point to remember. It's in not focusing on the letting go, the ending, or the completion. It's in focusing on the fresh start, the new beginning and what lies ahead.

Yes, it may be frightening to walk down a new and unfamiliar road, leaving behind everyone and everything familiar. But if that new road has been presented to you, there is a reason for it. You must let go of the old, the stale, the stagnant and finished, and embrace the new, the fresh, the expanding and beginning. Before long, you'll have walked through the endings and blended straight into the beginnings, living the Death card and experiencing rebirth and the magic of renewal. It's a chance to create something different, something better.

The Wheel of Life will always mean there are endings. But the good news is, you cannot have an ending without a beginning.

Sure, you can fear beginnings if you want to do that, but it's better to see them as exciting adventures. A positive attitude will go a long way to reducing the impact of any speed bumps or potholes on that new road so buckle up and don't look back; you already know where you've been.

Now let's see where you're going!

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Happiness is not a destination; it is a choice.

sunflowers.jpg

I'm probably gonna take some flack for that title. I can well imagine people will be popping up with all kinds of objections, like how can they possibly be happy in this or that horrible situation or while surviving some tragedy or other.

I get that. I've lived that. I'm still living it because I have a pulse. All of us get nasty stuff lobbed at us if we're breathing. It is the nature of being alive on this planet; it is an inescapable fact of life.

I've got a life story that reads like a soap opera (more like several) - all your standard issue insanity, and pretty much everything you'd find on daytime TV, apart from having an evil twin appear out of nowhere (not yet anyway) or being cloned (I could use a few of those).

And although some people have had it much better than I, many have had it much worse.

But that is neither here nor there. This isn't a contest to see who's had a more traumatic life; we've all got our own pain to endure, and our own obstacles to overcome.

Within that pain and those obstacles lies the challenge to pursue happiness, whatever else is going on. That challenge is what stretches us, teaches us, allows us to expand, to grow, to find strength to get us through the darkest of times. And in doing so, we learn valuable lessons that we can pass along to others - an added bonus beyond our own progress and development.

Happiness is not something you find and keep; it is as elusive as the shroud of mist that hangs in front of the moon. It is not a destination; it is a choice you make every moment of every day. The pursuit of it is its own reward, for it is in travelling that road that we are open to finding happiness here and there, dotted like bright sunflowers peeking out from the brush and trees. The more of them you find, the more you will want to seek.

It doesn't matter what else is going on. No, it really doesn't! There is always, always, always room to step out of your 'stuff', your pain, your grief, your abject misery and find a bright sunflower. Even if you just take a peek, it is sweet relief for your soul when it is allowed to set its gaze on such beauty and rest a while.

Sometimes we're blessed to have an unexpected little 'sun shower' of happiness and how wonderful it is when that happens! But in between those lovely glittering drops that brighten our lives, it must be understood that the only way to find happiness is to discover it as if playing Hide and Seek. It will hide and you must seek, moment by moment, and in so doing, you will create the happy life that you desire.

 

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Life's too short to be serious all the time

Play. Just drop what you're doing and go and play. Find a puzzle, get some Lego, buy some crayons and a colouring book, go to the park and climb on some monkey bars. Sit on a swing, zip down the slide - and laugh if you don't fit like you used to do.

Bake some cookies and decorate with silly stuff like gummy worms. Find a sandbox, fly a kite, or find some mud. There's something really therapeutic about playing in it; squishing it between bare toes is as delightful as making mud pies.

Make a telephone out of two tins and some string. Squoosh some playdough into ornaments or dopey stuff. Maybe try a hula hoop or get a skipping rope.

Play hopscotch or tag. How about pick-up-sticks or jacks? If you don't have a cartoon channel on the telly, rent an animated "kid film", like Yogi Bear, Winnie the Pooh, or Casper or look for old cartoons on Youtube.

How about blowing bubbles? Or getting one of those huge plastic hoops that makes bubbles as big as the moon?? Well, okay, perhaps not quite that big.

So much of life is about responsibility and "have to" and work and being tired. We feel guilty when we carve out a little time for fun or just relaxing. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's good for you to play, to have fun and some down time.

If you work, work, work all the time, you owe it to yourself to find some play-time amidst your busy life. It's essential to your mental health and to being the best version of yourself that you can be. Keeping yourself topped up with positive input means you'll feel better, do better, and you'll have a lot more to give.

A little play-time will make all the miserable responsible bits a lot more palatable. Life should be about balance, and if you spent most of your time working or doing boring, miserable responsible stuff that feels like work, you're missing the point of being here.

Whether you're having naughty snacks or are out bowling, riding bikes or doing other great 'kid stuff', as long as you're feeding your "inner child", you'll be in great shape. That little child will demand to be heard, especially when things get bumpy as it's so easily ignored at that time.

Cut yourself - and that little child - some slack. A little playfulness and fun are life-giving - life-altering. Go and have a great time! Enjoy yourself!

(Photo courtesy of Chance Agrella at freerangestock.com)

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Wisdom

In the garden of silence

Seeds of Wisdom are sown.

 

In the soil of listening, they sprout.

In open mind, they flourish.

 

In compassionate heart, they blossom.

Graceful understanding is the harvest.

 

In stillness, Wisdom shines,

Illuminating blackest night.

 

Sharpest eye, keenest ear,

Wisdom gathers, nothing lost.

 

Eager student, Wisdom is.

Teach me all, Wisdom cries.

 

It will be taught

In the garden of silence.

 

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Actions Truly Do Speak Louder Than Words...

I’d like you to grab a piece of paper and write down your answers to a few questions I’m about to ask. It’ll be important in a minute, you’ll see. So I’ll wait……..

Okay.  Ready?

What is important to you? Don’t read any further, please, until you’ve written your answer. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or involved, just a quick point form list will do. 

This little exercise can be quite a profound experience if you do it, so please do yourself a favour and take a few moments with this.

Okay. Next question. Who is important to you? Another quick point form list, please.

Now, a separate list. Please jot down what has eaten up your week. Make a few notes about how you spent your time over the past seven days. What were you doing each day?

One more thing: What were you thinking about during the week? What was on your mind?

I really hope you wrote those answers down because there’s something about seeing them in writing that works better than just leaving it all in your head.

Now, please take a look at your list of what you did and what you thought about for the past week. Most people have a whole lot of stuff on their lists that is about work – whether it’s about their jobs or the housework, the errands, the obligations, the responsibilities, the meetings, the children’s homework and music lessons and the groceries and the meals blah blah blah.

Okay, let’s take a look at your list of what is important to you. Chances are, some of that stuff is on that list, as it should be. But are there things on that list that aren’t getting your attention? Why not?

Look at the list of who is important to you. Did those people make it onto your list of how you spent your time and what you were thinking about? Did you even make it onto your own list?

If there is something incongruent about all of this, perhaps you could stand a shift in your priorities. If you say it’s important to play and enjoy your life more, then do it. If you say your health and well-being are important, then make choices that reflect that. If you say your children, your parents, your sister, your friends are important to you, then make sure they know it. Write. Phone. Email. Send a card. Organise spending time together.

And don’t forget: Really, you must be on that list of who is important to you. If you’re not, then put yourself right at the top and make sure you spend time doing something for yourself every day, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes.

We give our attention to what is important to us. Sometimes we know what - or who - should be important, and we can say all the right stuff on that subject, but really, in our heart of hearts, our priorities are a mess.

It's truly a case of actions speaking louder than words. If you say something or someone is important to you, then show it. Prove it. Live it. No more excuses.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to click on the posts below:

When Forgiving Seems Impossible

You Only Fail if You Stop Trying to Succeed

The Golden Rule: Completely Misinterpreted

How to Love Waiting