It’s kind of depressing that sad songs are often the easiest to write.
I wanted to write a piece about how my divorce brought a positive element to my life that helped bring a deep level of inspiration to my craft, and pass along the message that a creative outlet is a great coping mechanism for life’s trials and tribulations. Then as I began to write, all of the pain of those memories returned and I couldn’t seem to write anything that wasn’t full of sadness or anger, none of which was one bit inspirational. All I could focus on was the pain of the whole ordeal. Maybe you never really get over love lost, you just push it deep down inside and just learn to live with it. Digging up the bones of my lost love only reminded me of the sorrow of the past, so I just had to put down the shovel and walk on for a while.
It’s been nearly five years since my wife left me but in many ways it feels like yesterday. I’ve had a tough time moving on since then. I still really miss my wife, my best friend. I truly loved her. I tried to meet other women and date but it all felt so shallow, something was always missing. During the divorce my lawyer told me “the person who loves last loses the most”. Maybe that’s true, but I feel like we both lost. We both lost the happiness we once knew and the dream of a loving, happy family. We also lost the innocence of our children and nothing is worth more and nothing can buy that back. They were forced to grow up fast in a broken home. In the end I had to buy back our home. I filled the empty rooms with similar furniture and tried as hard as I could to rebuild the life we lost but my children and I knew things would never be the same and I’ve been trying to find my way back to that home ever since.
I spent a lot of time alone and I’ve had a lot of time to think over the last few years. I’ve grown to realize just how important a loving family really is. I’m talking about unconditional love, the kind of love my parents have for me and the kind I have for my kids. It’s really what we are all looking for deep down inside. Maybe it’s something you can only have with your parents or children. In the end, real love is actually the only thing that really matters and without it we live a sort of hollow life. Without the love of a family we just end up lost, alone and afraid of the world. From there it’s easy to head into the dark world of crime and despair.
Before I bought my home back I spent the first six months or so living with my parents. The one thing my divorce did do for me was to give me a chance to get to know my parents all over again. I’m very thankful for that at least. I got to know a lot about my parents that I didn’t know. Also I learned a lot about my family heritage which helped me to recall many wonderful people and things in my childhood. I was also able to spend a lot more one on one time with my kids and in many ways I’ve become closer to them as a result.
When I finally picked my guitar back up and started writing again. I spent a lot of time reflecting on all the things I had lost, my faith in God, my faith in marriage, my faith in many of my friends. I worried about my kids and their own broken hearts. Kids are hurt too when a family falls apart, though they often suffer in silence. I was very angry and spent a lot of time drinking and putting myself in dangerous situations. I was lucky to escape some of it alive. I was also a bit ashamed that I put my kids in danger too, in danger of losing their father.
Now I’ve written a lot of songs in my life and for years I pursued the dream of making it big in the music business but now making it big in the music business didn’t seem to matter to me much anymore. I was writing songs for me now. My songs were the only way I could really express how I was feeling and what I had gone through. Writing songs and singing them out loud seemed to be a sort of therapeutic mission for me now. In the past, I had given up writing and playing for years to raise my family, plus the limited time I had at home with my family was more important to me than spending time singing in a bar somewhere, but now I had no reason not to. In fact, I almost had to. The music helped me to focus my energy on something else, and in doing so, something magical happened – I found myself again!
I have to admit, it was an awesome feeling to hear my guitar ring out in my old empty house but the echo also reminded me of the emptiness that I felt inside. Instead of writing a song I was really just crying and maybe even praying now. I didn’t know where to go from here. I guess I was just trying to make sense of it all. But even though most of my songs were I guess just sad and longing for love, some were about the good things in my life, mainly my kids and family. I saw these things as more important than ever before. Those happy songs mean the most to me personally, but for some reason I think they are often the hardest songs to write. After all of those years of writing songs, I realized that the best songs are really just personal messages of love, hope and pain.
In the end after the dust had settled, I realized more than ever why it’s good to be home.
Chris Leigh’s alt-country masterwork Broken Hearted Friends (Blue River Records) is an album of redemption, reinvention, and reclamation. Leigh has garnered favorable comparisons to Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakum, and Hank Williams, but he also adds wry wit and rock n’ roll swagger to his distinct aesthetic, so this album of barnburners and tearjerkers could also sit alongside modern classics like the Blasters, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, and Old 97s. http://www.chrisleighmusic.com/
The holidays can be stressful, but it’s mostly self-inflicted. Most of the stress comes from the expectations we unconsciously place on each other and on the holiday season. We want to think we’re smarter than this, but our commercial culture has pretty successfully conditioned us to feel that anything short of a Hallmark scene brimming with rosy cheeked children, gorgeous food, and lots of togetherness borders on holiday failure. It’s the BIG HOLIDAY SET-UP. Billions of dollars and some very creative minds went into carefully cultivating these expectations, so of course we’re seduced. But unless you’re aware that you’ve bought into it, you could be in for another holiday season highlighted by rushing around, overspending, and at the end, a secret relief that it’s over. This is no way to spend the holidays!
Here’s one warning sign that you’ve bought into the BIG HOLIDAY SET-UP without realizing it: a slight feeling of dread about the upcoming holidays. You might even think this is normal. But it’s not. If you really think about it, why should the holidays be a chore?
If the season feels like a chore, you’ve bought into the set-up. Take an unflinching look at your expectations about the holidays. If you’re very honest, they may look something like this: “Our family should all be together for the holidays. I should look my best for the holidays. I should be surrounded by family and friends during the holidays. I should be with someone special for the holidays. I should make homemade food like my mom did for the holidays. I should feel loved during the holidays.” You may have some variation on these themes. Are they realistic? If the expectations go unchallenged, then you might go through the season with a nagging feeling that something is missing, or you might run around trying to make the expectations come true. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. But the pressure can be enormous.
Are “Shoulds” Killing Your Holiday Joy?
Each of the statements above contains the word “should”. There’s no faster way to kill joy than to use the word should. Eckhart Tolle says that joy comes from within you and flows into the activity you’re doing. When you use a “should” statement, you’re reversing the process, and assuming that if you accomplish a certain scenario, you’ll feel joy. But the joy is in the doing, and if you’re rushed and multitasking while you make your homemade pies, then you’re missing the joy. If you’re doggedly trolling the bars looking for a cute date for the company Christmas party, then you’re missing the joy of meeting people. The joy is in the process, not the outcome. You may feel relieved and proud that you made the pies, but joyful? You’re probably already on to the next task. If you don’t feel joy during the holidays, you’re probably too focused on your expectations, and not open to the joy of the moment.
Of course, not everything is a “should”. There are lots of things you want to do! It can come as a shock when something you really want to do mysteriously morphs into the status of chore. Example: hosting the Thanksgiving dinner is something you really want to do. You’re enjoying the process: the creativity, the cooking, the careful attention to each detail. Then your sister (who was in charge of the wine) shows up late with a case of 2 Buck Chuck. Your mom drinks too much champagne. Your cousin brings her Jack Russell terrier. And gradually, without even realizing it, the responsibility of dinner, which you heartily welcomed a little while ago, feels like a burden. And you’re a victim. We call this resentment, and it usually comes when you have unfulfilled expectations about others, usually without realizing it.
Resentment is sneaky, and even you start to wonder how the dinner took this decidedly unjoyful turn, when you went to so much trouble to make everything perfect. How COULD they! Your resentment is not your sister’s problem, or your mom’s, or your cousin’s. It’s really your problem because you had the unrealistic expectation that everyone would “behave”. The cure: be on guard for any sign of resentment and the moment you recognize it, remind yourself that you chose to host Thanksgiving dinner, and that you can’t control what other people do. Even if you felt you “had” to host dinner, you still chose it. You could have said no. As soon as you wholeheartedly own this choice, your resentment will magically disappear. It will probably re-appear at a weak moment (don’t drink too much), and then you’ll have to remind yourself again, and again, and again.
Have a Blast this Holiday Season by Letting Go of Expectations
If you can let go of expectations, you can have a blast this holiday season. Is your extended family a pain in the neck? Well I’m not surprised, because extended family is a great idea in theory, but then you have all those messy personalities who don’t always go with the program. Meaning the program you’ve set up in your head! So let go of the expectation that they’ll act appropriately and let them muddle through the holiday dinner while you tell jokes or play with somebody’s baby. Everyone knows that if the hostess is having a good time, the guests will have a good time. So relax and enjoy yourself and everyone else will too.
Let go for a minute of how our culture defines holiday “success” and let your mind wander to what really brings you joy. You might enjoy hunkering down with your crotchety old neighbor and playing cards with no Christmas tree in sight. You’ve never seen this on a holiday commercial, but who cares? This may be something you really enjoy. You might enjoy spontaneously heading downtown at night with your dog to walk around and look at the lights and decorations. You might enjoy popping into a church or temple and having a quiet moment.
My daughter and I, who never watch TV, like to leave it on the Christmas Carol channel all day and evening till my husband pleads for mercy. We like to make a long Christmas list and traipse through the stores buying small gifts for friends and relatives, most of whom we rarely see and who don’t buy us anything. We decorate a few cookies if we get around to it. We each buy one holiday dress to wear to the Nutcracker (if we get around to it), to Christmas dinner, and to a Christmas service. And we sit in traffic for hours every Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit relatives who rarely get along. We don’t expect them to get along. It’s a big treat if they do!
How do you let go of holiday expectations that are killing your joy? Don’t expect your kids to come for Christmas; don’t expect your hair to look great; don’t expect to go to a wonderful holiday party; don’t expect to meet a great guy; don’t expect your husband to buy you a truly thoughtful gift, and don’t expect guests to behave during Thanksgiving dinner! It’s very freeing! I can feel the joy already. Happy Holidays!
Ann Wycoff, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in San Diego, California. She is founder of Safe and Sound Nannies, a full service agency. She also provides nanny hiring consultation to families in all cities who would like to user her professional advice and hiring tools. She has been screening and placing nannies since l998.
Your reality is your asset, not your liability. I will explain this concept completely later, but in a short way, I would like to say that the kite of success rises against the winds of adversity, not with them. That means problems are solved, not avoided. That is living in reality. Live by reality, your reality and not by what anyone else thinks. Conformity is the only ultimate sin or missing the mark really, even if you get rich doing it. In fact, the poorest people even when they have lots of money do not do what they want to do, but purely what looks good. Being good is always better than looking good, and being good consists of living in and by your reality without conformity or fear of failure or success. Yes, I said fear of failure or success. Total courage is the key to breaking the chains of conformity and the beginning of real winning whatever the temporary failure that might come up in life.
So, when I say that your reality is your asset and not your liability, I mean this: Seemingly unsolvable problems happen because people give up too soon, and have a fantasy of total failure. Then someone solves that problem like Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile mark running that was supposedly unsolvable. Truth be told, honestly: All problems have ultimate solutions, they just have to be found whether by the person with the problem or someone else later on.
The ultimate loss is to quit before a genuine answer is reached. It is all ultimately a matter of getting from point to point and destinations, not just a destination. The travel never ends even when you “end”. Existence exists all the time “whether conscious of that fact or not”. Dead or alive, there is existence and if we do not solve the problem someone else ultimately will and it goes on however it may be. My point is: There are always possibilities, and there are always realities of existence and what is unsolvable can always be solved ultimately in the future with what I like to call “genuine evolution”. As the old saying goes, “with time, all things are possible.” Yes, it comes down to that and nothing else when the problem seems unsolvable at the time it happens.
For many, problems are irritating, but for the few that understand, problems are ultimately a welcome evolution of reality to a higher level.
My name is Joshua Clayton, I am a freelance writer based in Inglewood, California. I also write under a few pen-names and aliases, but Joshua Clayton is my real name, and I write by that for the most part now. I am a philosophical writer and objective thinker and honest action taker. I also work at a senior center in Gardena, California as my day job, among other things, but primarily I am a writer.
We all have fears. Some fears are rational: fear of falling from a high place, fear of embarrassment, fear of dangerous creatures. However most of our fears are irrational: fear of failure, fear of the criticism of others, fear of everyday life. These sorts of fears can hold us back from experiencing our lives in a full way. Instead, we live fearfully, scurrying from work to home and doing our best to avoid anything new. However most of the joys in life come from trying new things, even if you fail at first. Here are some ways to overcome fear and enjoy life:
Take One Small Step – The first step is always the hardest. Stepping out of your comfort zone is very hard for most of us to do and leaping out is usually just not in the cards. However you can take small steps. Take a new road on your way home. Talk to someone you don’t know while you are waiting in line. Try a new restaurant or entertainment type. Listen to a new radio station or style of music. Join a new forum or read a new blog. There are many small ways to step out and experience something new with minimal risk. One you realize it is not so bad you may be encouraged to keep trying. But even if something goes wrong, you will find that your worst fears were probably far worse than what actually happened.
Do Some Research – Another thing that helps to overcome fear is knowledge. Many of us are afraid of what we are unfamiliar with or do not understand. Pick something new you want to try and then do some research on it. See if you can get some insider knowledge without actually having to experience it first. That way the experience is not totally foreign to you and you will be able to enjoy it more. The internet is a great resource for learning new things about almost any subject. You do not have to become an authority on the subject, but if you get the general idea you will not feel as overwhelmed or lost when the time comes.
Get Professional Help –If fear is really affecting your life you may need professional help. Although it can be scary to reach out to someone many professionals are willing and able to help you work through the process. If you do not click with one right away do not give up. Try again and you are sure to find someone who can help you through your fear and onto a better life style. Some anxieties may require prescription medications that require a psychiatrist to prescribe. However they do not usually offer much time to talk. Psychologists are doctors that do talk but cannot prescribe medication. Counselors are a more affordable option if medication and a doctorate is not required.If you do not have the money or the insurance coverage to provide this service do not give up. There are many ways to get help without having to pay a lot of money for it. Many not for profit companies offer help as well as places of worship. Some professionals also offer discount rates based on your income or payment plans.
Force Social Interaction – Many of us have social fears. We do not go to parties or work outings or even to bars or clubs because we do not feel confident in our social abilities. However many social abilities are learned or can be learned. All it takes is practice. One way to overcome social fears is to force social interactions. I have found it helpful to be in charge of these interactions to reduce my anxiety. I can plan where, when, how long and who is invited to my social gatherings. By being ‘in charge’ I feel more confident and less worried about what I need to do. Even if you just plan to meet an old classmate for dinner or a coworker for a drink you can practice overcoming your fears and enjoy yourself.
Take a Friend– Last but not least, I find it is far less intimidating to go to a social event or have a new experience when a friend is with me. A sibling, a parent, a spouse, or a coworker can accompany you on your new experience. Maybe it is new for them too and you can learn together. Or maybe they are familiar with it and can help you along. Either way, it is much easier with someone you are familiar with alongside. Sometimes the new person in a group or setting is not always greeted kindly. Do not take this personally. Instead try to keep going. You won’t always make friends or fit in right away but if you persevere you can find that people open up. Having a built in friend can help to lessen the feeling of isolation at first.
Remember that it is okay to fail. No one is good at everything. In fact, I have even found it is helpful to fail in new things. I can learn what not to do and ask for help from others. By failing I have opened myself up to learning and growing. You do not have to let fear hold you back. Usually our fear of what will happen is far worse than what actually happens. You learn to fear the fear! But you can move beyond it. It can start with small baby steps, but doing something new on a consistent basis is a great way to grow as a person and learn to enjoy a life free of overwhelming fear.
Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.
You’ve heard of people pushing themselves to new limits – like sky diving (President George H.W. Bush’s 80th birthday feat comes to mind) or running marathons when they are 90.
But if you’ve been toying with the idea of doing something new, something that inspires you to feel like you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning, you don’t need to engage in incredibly challenging, practically insurmountable goals.
All you have to do is sit down and write down a few fun things you’d like to accomplish – not big things like building a sailboat that might take years. Write down a few general topics like cooking, reading, painting, or woodworking. Then next to it think of just one thing you’d like to do in that category.
Make it fun with goals attached like building four birdhouses in the next year for different types of bird species. Or build three birdhouses and give them as gifts to people who love to watch their backyard birds.
Make your goals fun, experimental, and maybe charitable. If you share part of what you enjoy with people or community groups you care about, your self-esteem will skyrocket and you’ll feel eager to get out of bed and start the day.
Once you get going, you may be surprised how much of an “inner artist” has been inside you all along. It’s true, creativity can be embraced even if you’ve never dabbled in self-expressive activities when you were younger.
Ideas for Cooking, Painting & Poetry
Remember the 2009 movie Julie & Julia, when real-life Julie Powell decided to make all 524 recipes in 365 days from famed cook Julia Child’s cookbook The Art of French Cooking?
Powell accomplished her goal, but not without a great deal of stress along the way. Still, the rewards and joys she experienced were life-changing for this novice cook.
But you needn’t cook a gourmet meal every day for a year to feel inspired. You might use cooking as an inspiration to try food from various countries on a revolving basis.
Try new recipes that move you to get cooking from the Deep South, the Caribbean, Asia, Germany, or Scandinavia to mention a tiny sampling of places to inspire you.
If you are looking for ways to get inspired with less physical activity, try writing poetry. The story of Cynthia Rylant may inspire you. This well-known author has written over 100 children’s books, but this year she did something new. She sat down and wrote her latest book, “God Got a Dog,” a collection of poems in just one day.
In a media interview she said she was driven by “bursts of inspiration.” It started with one idea for one poem. She wrote that and then another idea sprang up and she wrote that. By the end of the day she had written a collection of poems. Inspirations come in all shapes and sizes even as a different type of business venture.
In another interesting burst of inspiration, Doug Haynes, a Madison, Wis. artist painted 30 paintings in 30 days this past October. He was inspired by the “community-supported agriculture” (CSA) projects where people invest in the agricultural products they share. In Haynes’ situation the 30 paintings went to those who had invested a stake in the project.
Act on Big Bursts of Inspiration
The word inspiration comes from the Latin for “to breathe in.”
Studies have found the creative process uniquely stimulates the brain. And it’s a great way to release some steam, express yourself and have fun at the same time. When you get creative and light up new pathways in the brain through your creative projects, research has found this is an excellent way to give your brain the workout it needs.
Creativity has health benefits by giving you new opportunities to de-stress. Did you know recent studies have shown that a majority of Americans report they are more stressed each year? So take a deep breath and find new creative projects. Let go, start challenging yourself.
Look for creative projects that test your memory, concentration and problem solving skills. Cognitive scientists have said brain stimulation for brain fitness differs for each individual, but anytime you learn something new you’re giving your brain power a boost.
Tips for Getting More Creative
Studies have found a positive correlation between engaging in a creative process and healthy aging. Anything that challenges the brain when you try new things, remember new concepts and stimulates neural pathways – all important to our health at any age. So give yourself a break and take more time to be artistic, creative and inspired. You’ll be glad you did!
Do what works best for you. If your brain is fired up early morning then that is a good time to get creative. Learn the way you learn. Know how you learn best, use it your advantage. If you are a visual learner, then make sure there you can utilize the style that best suits you.
Set reachable goals. Goals not only motivate you to move forward, but they offer a framework to evaluate your progress. Make sure your goals are realistic. It is not feasible to become master sculptor in a year. Being organized will give you clarity to evaluate and enhance what is going right and what is not.
Don’t forget to relax and have fun. Your brain needs this relaxation just as much as it needs anything else. Set aside time for yourself to unwind and decompress your mind. Just remember, don’t forget to take care of yourself!
If life has you down these days, it may be tough to put your finger on what’s bothering you. Stress from work, financial pressures at home, and constant nagging of an overactive mind are just a few of the things that can add up over time, making small things seem bigger when your guard is down. Start focusing on ways to improve the sore spots in your life and bring a new positivity to each day that others will start to recognize.
Be Kind… to Yourself
Photo by Chiot’s Run via Flickr
Take time each day to stop what you’re doing, find a quiet, comfortable spot and settle in for a half hour with a book of daily meditations. If reading doesn’t rank high on your list of relaxing things to do, find that something else that does. Try a bubble bath, 30 minutes of classical music, or even a power nap to help rejuvenate you. Your smartphone can even help with the de-stressing if you’re on the go. Take a quick break, step outside and settle down on a park bench to enjoy any one of a number of apps created to lower stress levels in adults:
These apps offer pointers on breathing, motivational quotes, relaxing music and sounds from nature, and even simple exercises that help relieve the tension that work and life often bring.
Aim For Job Satisfaction
Regardless of how peaceful and satisfying your home life is, spending eight or more hours a day at a job you despise can make anyone miserable. The stress and dissatisfaction from working a negative job almost always carries over into other facets of your daily life. If your work just isn’t working for you, it might be time to take that leap of faith and begin searching for a new one. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be an all-consuming effort.
Sites such as job-applications.com give you instant access to applications from just about any employer allowing you to apply on-the-go and store your applications, resume and more for convenience.
Practice Giving Back
Photo by paper10101 via Flickr
The power of gratitude is an amazing force in your life. If you haven’t realized it yet, now might be the time to begin practicing this habit that benefits yourself and everyone else around you. Start by keeping a gratitude journal that focuses on everything that is good in your life. Back up your daily writings by bringing your words to life—be kind to your cashier at the coffee shop, or hold the elevator for a stranger—small deeds reap big rewards. While they make you feel good—they make the recipient of your kindnesses feel even better. Way to pay it forward!
Allison Sullivan -
Allison is the mother of one son and four dogs. She’s a chemical dependency counselor and ardent Libertarian who blogs to keep her writing skills sharp. And, it’s fun.
Each time you affirm your true, authentic self, every cell in your body cheers “Yes!” When you negate yourself, it has negative biological consequences. To build self-esteem and affirm your true self, try this:
Take action to meet your needs.
Express who you really are.
Think good thoughts about yourself.
Take action to do what you really want.
Affirming yourself entails putting yourself at the center of your decision-making (having an internal locus of control) – something hard for codependents, who are other-focused, ignore their needs, and have trouble asserting themselves. Negating yourself or allowing others to do so have the opposite effect.
Neuroscience has substantiated the body-mind connection revealing that hormones, neurotransmitters, immunotransmitters, and neuropeptides all respond to emotion, imagery, and thought. See my article, “The Healing Power of Eros” about neuroscience. The powerful placebo effect is an example of how thoughts can heal. Merely talking about food can make you hungry, a sad memory or movie can make you cry, and imagining a lemon can make your mouth water. Research shows that low self-esteem and low internal locus of control are linked to stress and higher cortisol responses that over time affect brain structures. It’s important to note that it’s not just the amount of stress that’s pivotal, but the belief in your ability to handle it that matters. Codependents with low self-esteem more often perceive situations as stressful – like saying “no” or asking for help – that needn’t be. However, taking such actions in the face of anxiety builds self-esteem and confidence; while shunning them increases a fear response.
Self-affirming actions can be challenging for codependents, because they have an external locus-of-control. Typically, they’re disconnected from their authentic self and are preoccupied with, take the lead from, and react to others. They unconsciously don’t believe they’re important and deserve love or respect. Some don’t feel entitled to happiness or success. Low self-esteem makes them self-critical. It’s hard for them to be proud and self-encouraging. Their shame leads to fear and anxiety about being judged, making mistakes, and failing. From being shamed as children, they may not be able to identify their needs, feelings, and wants, or believe that their feelings, opinions, or needs matter. These are all obstacles to taking self-affirming action, self-expression, decision-making, and putting themselves first.
Being loved and accepted are paramount for codependents. To ensure this, they hide who they really are and become who they aren’t. They tend to accommodate others rather than affirm their true self. They may anticipate anger, criticism, rejection, or abuse for setting limits, because that is what they experienced in childhood. As adults, they often choose partners and friends who repeat that pattern due to low self-esteem. Many even accept abuse rather than risk rejection or end toxic relationships, including friendships. Some fear being alone. Adding to their predicament, codependents don’t realize their own power in asserting themselves. They may have had an abusive, narcissistic, or addict parent(s) and learned that their voice didn’t matter. Moreover, they were never protected and didn’t learn how to stand-up for themselves.
Codependents frequently misinterpret others’ responses in a negative light. The following is an example of how expectations of others (including that they read your mind) and negative, personalized interpretations of behavior can lead to hurt feelings, which reinforce low self-esteem and feeling unlovable.
Bonnie was terribly hurt when her boyfriend Mark refused to loan her money, which he had and she needed and wanted. She took this to mean that he didn’t love or care about her. Adding to the problem, she never actually requested a loan, but presumed he should have offered anyway. The truth was that he was raised to have different beliefs about money and lending, and therefore disagreed with her expectations and her assumptions about how he should act. After she understood his background, and even though he was empathetic to her situation, she couldn’t forgive him unless he agreed with her about what he should have done. She was surprised when I questioned why his disagreement (which clearly had nothing to do with her) meant he neither understood nor loved her and why he couldn’t both love her and disagree. These were novel thoughts that hadn’t occurred to her.
Taking self-affirming action can feel uncomfortable at first and create anxiety, guilt, and self-doubt. Plan to expect this – like soreness after using weak muscles – and know that it’s a sign that you’re doing the right thing. Give yourself credit for taking a risk. Throughout the day, you’re confronted with many opportunities to affirm yourself – to disregard or attune to your feelings, to judge or to honor them, to keep commitments and be responsible to yourself, and to act in accordance with your needs, values, and feelings. Doing so builds self-esteem and your authentic true self.
Throughout the day, you’re confronted with many opportunities to disregard or attune to your feelings, to judge or to honor them, to keep commitments and be responsible to yourself, and to act in accordance with your needs, values, and feelings. – See my article on Your Primary Spiritual Relationship – Love for Yourself.
After a while, such actions feel more natural and less anxiety-provoking, until one day, you find yourself spontaneously doing them – setting limits, asking for what you want, trying something new, expressing a minority opinion, giving yourself credit, and doing more enjoyable activities – even alone. You find you have less resentments and judgments and that relationships are easier. You start to like and love yourself and enjoy the process of living.
Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author of Codependency for Dummies, and expert in relationships, codependency, and addiction. She has a broad range of experience, working with individuals and couples for 25 years. She is an author and frequent speaker. She maintains private practice in Santa Monica, CA and coaches internationally. For more information, see http://www.whatiscodependency.com to receive a FREE Report, “14 Tips for Letting Go,” and find links to her books, Codependency for Dummies and ebooks, How to Speak Your Mind- Become Assertive and Set Limits and 10 Steps to Self-Esteem: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism.
Thanksgiving is over and most of the leftovers are gone. Turkey soup and memories are all we have left to remind us of this year’s feast.
Black Friday has come and gone. Some say sales are up, some say it wasn’t as lucrative as last year and no one thinks it earned as much as they wanted. Well find out when the dust settles.
Now we have Cyber Monday and computers are probably already sending orders to Amazon, Ebay, and all the other places that sell electronics.
The message of the season doesn’t seem to be, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. The true message is Buy, Buy, Buy. I’m not saying “Bah, Humbug.” I’m just saying let’s think about what we’re doing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love giving and receiving gifts and to do that, it’s important to buy something or buy the things we need to create a gift. In fact, I’m almost finished with my shopping and when I finish this article I will be on-line putting the final touches on my gifting.
But—is it just me, or does it seem to you, too, that commercialism has overtaken all the holidays? (Can you think of a single holiday that isn’t dominated by sales?) Are we as a generation forgetting about the important things in life as we go about accumulating more stuff, bigger, shinier stuff, more expensive stuff?
Is a happy Christmas or Hanukkah based on how high our pile of received gifts is? Is our love measured by how much spent on the gift?
How loving is it to buy things you can’t afford, max out your credit cards and spend the holidays angry with your family because you’re worried about the bills?
The past few years have been “financially challenging” for many of us and it’s a relief to know there is money for next month’s rent or the house payment. Some who have never had to worry about where the money comes from, had to tighten their belts, use coupons, and plan every expenditure in advance. Sometimes we had to do without…
It was a good learning experience in what is important. For me:
Love is what’s important.
Family is what’s important.
Caring is what’s important.
Helping others is what’s important.
Giving and receiving is important but not at the top of the list.
Stuff, given without thought or without love, is just stuff. I want to help the economy but not all by myself.
Before you hit the “Go to Checkout” key, think about what is important to you.
I, for one, think it’s time to take our holidays back. If anyone has any idea how we can do that, let me know.
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This morning when I started working on this blog, I opened the Dashboard, as usual, to deal with the comments. Often I get great comments about the articles I've posted. Occasionally, I get comments by someone who thought the article was wrong, needed changing, or just didn't measure up. I welcome … [Read More...]
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