Thursday, April 13, 2017

No Crying at Funerals

Growing up, I noticed that people in my community would watch the relatives of the deceased, noticing if they did or did not cry; and passed judgment on that behavior.  For example, if a widow did not cry while her husband was eulogized and laid to rest, people would quietly whisper to each other “She is being very strong”.  

WHY?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

How is it that during a funeral service, a congregation sits and judges rather than hugs and supports?  How is it that a person is not able to display genuine and raw emotions in what could be argued as one of the most difficult day in a person’s life?  Why does our society think running away from our emotions is strong and brave?

I argue that embracing your feelings is strong.  I argue that tackling difficult life events head on only increases long-term happiness.  I argue that you are brave for wanting to be vulnerable.  I argue that the relationship with yourself and others will be infinitely better by seeking help. 

Who is a safe person in your life?  Who can you call?  Who will listen to your story?  If no one comes to mind, please call a professional counselor; it could save your life.

In order to live Happier, Healthier, and Longer, let’s start to process difficult life events, support each other through trauma, and congratulate someone for going to therapy.  After all, they are the strongest among us.


#TalkItOut

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alone vs. Loneliness

In all of the research regarding this topic, it boiled down to this:  Alone is a state of being and loneliness is a state of mind. 

Let’s unwrap this a little.  Alone is a state of being; something you physically are at that time and in that space.  For example, if you are home by yourself, you are alone; if you are on a golf course with no one around, you are alone; and if you are at the office and everyone has gone home, you are alone.  In each of these examples, being alone changes when another person enters the space you are in.  When alone, you have the ability to change from being alone to not being alone simply by inviting someone into your space. 

Loneliness is a state of mind, meaning an emotional state of being, or when we feel emotionally disconnected from the people around us.  Let’s use the same examples as before.  If you are home and the house is filled with family or friends but you don’t feel you can open up, you are feeling lonely; if you are on the golf course with 3 others in your group but feel disconnected, you are feeling lonely; if you are at an office Christmas party, surrounded by co-workers and no one wants to hear more than “fine” when asked “How are you?”, you are lonely

Loneliness is much harder to remedy, because of the complexity of feeling in sync with another human being.  Loneliness is difficult to change because of our own resistance to being vulnerable and acknowledging these painful feelings.  Finally, loneliness is challenging because of the skills required by two individuals to want to be emotionally connected.


Robin Williams once said, “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all along.  It’s not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”  Whether you are alone or lonely, it is worth your time and effort to process your state of being as well as your state of mind.  Telling your story can only lead to a happier, healthier, and longer life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Power of Vulnerability

A colleague referred me to René Brown’s Ted Talk.  She is an inspiring researcher that not only found ways to help all of us watching, but also herself.  Here are some of the highlights of her talk:
  • Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to life
  • Shame is the fear of disconnection
  • Do you believe you are worthy or belonging, being loved, being connected, to be imperfect?
  • Do you have the compassion to be kind to your self first… then to others
  • Let go of who you should be, and be who you are
  • Vulnerability is beautiful, but not always comfortable
  • Vulnerability is the birth of happiness, joy, creativity, belonging, and love
  • Blame is the a way to discharge pain and discomfort
  • We make everything uncertain…certain
  • The more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we become
  • We try to perfect not only ourselves, but also our children
  • We pretend that what we do does not effect others
  • René Brown wanted the audience to learn:
    • Let yourself be seen
    • Love with your whole heart, without any guarantee
    • Practice gratitude and joy
    • Tell yourself, “I AM ENOUGH”

To watch the Ted Talk in it’s entirety simply click on this link (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability#t-1198854).

Go out there and practice some or all of what René Brown was trying to teach.  You will live a Happier, Healthier, and Longer life. 


Talk It Out, not It Tough

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Risk of Toughing it Out

There is no way around dealing with life events.  Some are easy to process, others are difficult, and some are traumatic.  No matter what the event, we use learned coping skills to be able to move forward.  There are many people, especially men, who have decided that “Toughing it Out” is their way of coping, rather than “Talking it Out”.  But, what are the consequences?

An article by Dr. Jonier, describes how depression is a real worry when “Toughing it Out”, and the results can lead to decreased physical health, increased aggression, and intense irritability.  All can damage the relationships with kids, a spouse, friends, and co-workers.  Dr. Muller wrote that “Toughing it Out” individuals dealing with trauma, such as PTSD, often revert to drugs, alcohol, or suicide.  In fact, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that each year over 40,000 Americans die through suicide, and 70% are middle aged white men. 

The isolation and loneliness that comes from “Toughing it Out” not only can decrease happiness and ruin relationships, but can also be lethal. 

Take charge of your life,
Improve your relationships,
Decrease your emotional pain…


Seek help & “Talking it Out”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I'm Not Crazy

In recent weeks I have overheard this conversation multiple times

Friend 1:  Wow, I am so overwhelmed
Friend 2:  Have you thought about seeking help?
Friend 1:  What do you mean?
Friend 2:  You know, go see a therapist
Friend 1:  I AM NOT CRAZY!

The implication here is that only crazy people need counseling, when in reality you are crazy for NOT going to counseling. 

Here are the facts:  Psychology Today reports that 59 million adults seek therapy in the United States.  GoodTherapy.org explains that an overwhelming majority of these individuals are “ordinary people with common, everyday issues”.  So, as research clearly indicates, therapy is for everyone including YOU, the reader, and it is only due to social stigmas why the word “crazy” is associated with therapy.

Dr. Howes, writing for Psychology Today, lists that adults in the US go to therapy because of distress, support/coping needs, communication issues, self-exploration, or mental disorders.  The simple truth is that every individual needs help processing events in our daily lives, and a counselor can help by giving support, information, guidance, or practice new tools.

Despite what you may have learned growing up, despite what you may see on TV or at the movies, and despite what may be said by some friends or acquaintances, going to therapy helps you THRIVE.  It is the strong, brave, and healthy that become vulnerable in order to grow, and they should be applauded and supported not ridiculed. 


If therapy is suggested to you, please go.