Go Ahead — Make Someone’s Day

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Go Ahead — Make Someone’s Day
No one can make you feel bad about yourself, as the saying goes, without your permission. But other people can help you feel better about yourself, if you let them.

Here are three seemingly insignificant moments that forever changed how I look at myself. They helped me so much I’m constantly on the lookout for a way to pay those kindnesses forward — one reason I’m sharing them with you…

Use word substitutions.

You know how when you go to the doctor or dentist she often gives you something to relax so whatever it is doesn’t hurt as much?

A while back on one of those visits I relaxed so much I fell asleep. It wasn’t a deep sleep. It was so light, in fact, I realized I was asleep — and I knew the whirring I heard probably wasn’t the equipment. It was me.

When I came to I was embarrassed at being caught snoring.

My doctor corrected me.

“You were purring,” he said.


Can you imagine how many times we’ve smiled about that, since? It made me think no matter what happens, there’s always a way to frame it that makes you feel a little better.

Talk about healing.

Show, don’t tell.

One day my high school drafting teacher walked up next to me while I worked on a drawing. He held his thumbs out so I could see where he’d picked at the cuticles until they were raw. I was stunned by what I recognized immediately as compassion.

My nails were a mess.

But without a word, he made me feel a little less ashamed. So much less alone in the world.

See the whole person, not just what irritates you about her.

When we started doing the talk show our podcasts were hosted on our flagship radio station’s web site. When there was a typo in those podcast headers, I’d have to bring it to the attention of someone at the radio station instead of fixing it myself.

“I wish I could remove the part of my brain that cares about this kind of thing,” I told the point man at the station. I hated bugging him to fix the typos — but I didn’t know how to let go of them, either.

When I launched into my latest apology for it, here’s what my friend said: “If we got rid of that, we’d also be getting rid of what we like about you.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

It took me hours — really, hours — to realize they guy had admitted my eagle eye for typos wasn’t something he relished.

Imagine if he’d said instead, “Yeah, it’s annoying. But what can you do?”

I know one thing. I’d still be sweating it!

You don’t have to be careful with your word choices. But what could it hurt? It doesn’t cost you a thing, and the mood lift you’ll bestow is priceless.

An Interview With Alanis Morissette: When I Take Care of Myself, There’s Always Inspiration
In an interview with Omega Institute, Alanis Morissette shares how she remains creative after more than 20 years writing award-winning music.

Omega: After more than two decades in music and acting, what continues to inspire your creativity?

Alanis: Servicefulness, activism, leadership, and my obsession with wholeness and storytelling.

Omega: What’s your personal daily practice like? How do you maintain this on the road?

Alanis: Puttering, grooming, working, writing, lively conversation, snuggling, cooking, meditating, watching really fun television, exercise, and sitting in the sun. I can do all these while I travel. I often make sure my hotel rooms have kitchens so I can cook. And I travel as a village, so there are always friends to bandy things around with.

Omega: How do you work through creative blocks?

Alanis: I don’t believe in writer’s block. If I am not inspired to write, it means I shouldn’t be writing in that moment. Maybe I need to go make a sandwich or watch a movie or rest. When I take care of myself, I am always filled with inspiration to express something. The forms of expression are constantly changing, but the impetus to create remains steadfast, as long as I take care of myself.

Alanis Morissette is teaching Channeling Your Creativity, April 25-27, 2014 at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.

Explore more in the category of Creative Expression

© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Are You Feeding on Your Pain… Past Its Expiration Date?
Intimate relationships include pain, at least every intimate relationship I have ever been in or witnessed. And most, if we’re lucky, include pleasure too. We cannot change the fact that pain is included in intimacy, but how much pain we endure is, in part, up to us. As a therapist and a wife, I think a lot about how we can decrease the pain that we experience in relationship and increase the amount of joy and gratitude that we feel.

Once we’ve been in a relationship for some time, most of us have written a plethora of stories about our partners: We have volumes of ideas about what they do that we don’t like, what their problems are, why they are the way they are, how and why they hurt us, and on it goes. Basically, we have figured out what’s wrong with them. Some of our story lines we share with our partners, and some we don’t. We could fill volumes with the convictions we have compiled on our partners, most if not all of which we believe to be the truth. Our story lines have a lot to do with what increases our pain in relationships.

When difficulty arises with our partner, we might feel hurt, angry, frustrated or perhaps a cocktail of all three and more. We might feel intense pain for some time. But then, oddly, we do something that intensifies and extends that pain. You could say we throw gasoline on the fire of pain. The incident or fight is over, in real time, but not for us, not a chance. We’ve still got a long way to go with the story of it. The hurt might have passed, its shelf life in our body over, but we opt to spend days, weeks, sometimes even lifetimes rehashing it in our minds, crafting new stories filled with our partner’s crimes and our grievances, breathing new life into what is in fact ready to pass. If our pain were a child, we would be nursing it long into its adulthood.

The shelf life of most intense feelings is quite short. A strong feeling, which is not fed by our thoughts about it, can pass through us in a rather short time. It is our mind that, counter-intuitively, does not want us to let go of our pain. The mind desperately wants us to pay attention to our pain, and to how any new hurt fits into the larger script that we have written on our partner and the relationship. Perhaps it is the mind’s effort to figure out the pain, to make sense of what seems nonsensical, not understandable. Or maybe the mind believes that if we allow the pain to pass when it has come to its natural end, it is not enough somehow, that we haven’t done the pain justice if we do not extend it by way of our own continued attention. Perhaps the mind believes that we further punish our partner by holding onto and ruminating on the pain they have caused us. Or, maybe the mind wants us to keep chewing on the pain simply because the mind loves a problem; a problem for the mind is like an extravaganza with which to entertain itself. In truth, spending more time re-thinking and rehashing our pain does not serve our pain, or us.

When we start paying attention to our mind, we see that it is always beckoning us to reenter the story of our pain. Something amazing happens however when we make the choice to refrain from taking the mind’s bait, resist engaging with such thoughts. Our relationship gets a whole lot better, and feels, suddenly, like it’s happening in the present tense, like we’re meeting our partner freshly. I am absolutely not suggesting that we deny pain when it is felt intensely and directly, in the body, but rather that we choose not to extend, intensify and freeze it, keeping it alive in our mind when it (possibly) might not need to be there. Pain is a truth, but if we don’t feed it, it has a natural life span. It is we who (often) make pain immortal.

To this end, it is important that we notice when we are actually feeling okay, not in pain, not resentful, not hurt, and we still choose to jump on board a thought train to pain. It is important that we become conscious of this habit to get back in the saddle of hurt. It is an odd choice really, but one that we all make, until we don’t anymore, until we become aware that we are choosing it.

The next time you catch your mind inviting you to dive into the negative story line of your relationship and your partner, to again crack open the great tome on their failings, politely decline the mind’s invitation. Return to where you are and the breath about to happen. By simply decreasing the amount of time we spend telling ourself the story of what’s wrong, we can profoundly improve the experience we have in our relationships. The more we can refrain from stoking the fire of how we have been hurt, the more room there is to discover how we actually appreciate our partners, and to see them in the moments when all is well. The less we obscure our present moment with the history of our scars, the more possibility there is for new relationship skin to grow.

We need to pay attention to what is actually true for us; to meet ourself and our partner, as freshly as we can in each new moment. We need not go looking for past pain, need not dive into every pain story the mind presents. Simply by choosing to decline the invitation to engage with old pain, we end up feeling a whole lot lighter, happier, more present, and available for (and to) love.

Mindful Therapy
When working with psychotherapy clients in my private practice, I usually try to discern and track two major themes:

1. What is the corrective emotional experience that the client is subconsciously yearning for?

2. Who am I showing up as subconsciously for the client? Or, what dynamic or pattern from his or her past are we re-creating with the secret underlying hope of a different outcome this time?

This is a rather dynamic process, a fluid dance, that changes over time as the relationship evolves, but the essential questions remain the same.

The primary therapeutic style I espouse is Rogerian, which means that I believe we all want to be loved unconditionally but live in a highly competitive, judgmental society that only enables us to gain love conditionally – by jumping through hoops, getting good grades, becoming wealthy, successful, smart, sexy, etc. – and that psychotherapy provides a safe, non-judgmental space where clients can process their emotions, “re-parent” themselves, and learn to accept and even love themselves without all of the hoops, bells, and whistles.

So as a psychotherapist, I don’t heal anyone, I don’t fix anyone, and I don’t cure anyone. I’m even highly resistant to diagnoses and will only provide them when required by insurance companies.

As one of my psychology professors put it, “My job as I see it is to lease my emotions in 50 minute intervals.” On the emotional level, this resonates with me. For every “Yes, but…” my clients receive in the “real world” that invalidates their emotional experiences and/or makes them feel “not good-enough,” I provide an empathic and supportive “That sounds awful” or “That sounds challenging” or “Awesome!” or “Congratulations!” in order to make them feel secure in whatever emotional experience they are having.

Intellectually, I appreciate the provocative view of therapy advocated by Jungian analyst James Hollis: “Were therapists required by “truth in advertising” legislation to tell their reality, then virtually no one would enter therapy. The therapist would be obliged to say at least three things in return to the suffering supplicant: First, you will have to deal with this core issue the rest of your life, and at best you will manage to win a few skirmishes in your long uncivil war with yourself. Decades from now you will be fighting on these familiar fronts, though the terrain may have shifted so much that you may have difficulty recognizing the same old, same old.  Second, you will be obliged to disassemble the many forces you have gathered to defend against your wound. At this late date it is your defenses, not your wound, that cause the problem and arrest your journey. But removing those defenses will oblige you to feel all the pain of that wound again.  And third, you will not be spared pain, vouchsafed wisdom or granted exemption from future suffering. In fact, genuine disclosure would require a therapist to reveal the shabby sham of managed care as a fraud, and make a much more modest claim for long-term depth therapy or analysis.  Yet, however modest that claim, it is I believe, true.  Therapy will not heal you, make your problems go away or make your life work out. It will, quite simply, make your life more interesting.”

More succinctly, I would say that on the cognitive level psychotherapists provide fresh perspectives and help clients “reframe” situations and phenomena so that they are more palatable and acceptable. In addition, we can provide cognitive-behavioral tools and exercises such as gratitude lists that can help clients expand their understandings of particular situations and phenomena.

Our minds were built to create “woulda-coulda-shoulda-didn’ts” about our pasts and “if xxxxx happens, then I’ll be happy” ultimatums about our futures.

And as Terry Fralich writes, “Suffering equals the reality of now times resistance.”

Mindful Therapy models an authentic, healthy, supportive, intimate relationship for the client; it validates whatever emotional experience the client is having (as long as it is not harmful to anyone including the client); it helps the client live in the present moment and release fears and prejudices built from past traumas as defenses to ward off potential future traumas; it helps the client release expectations about the future and cultivate non-attachment to anxiety-causing possible outcomes; it suggests tools to help the client cultivate equanimity and ease; it teaches what Tara Brach calls “Radical Acceptance;” and it provides communication tools that facilitate the client getting his or her emotional needs met.

Most people find that there is tremendous liberation in authenticity.

This is Mindful Therapy.

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