Posts Tagged ‘healing’

The Love Budget – Do Your Deposits Cover Your Withdrawals?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Joe's Dollar

Ah, love. How do you define it, much less measure it? When I think about it, I flash on Valentine hearts, tiny purple wildflowers, skin-on-skin hugs and holding hands, a calm inner conviction that life is good after all… (Have you ever noticed that when you try to describe love, your words always come out sounding like a poem?) But as ethereal and intangible as it may seem, love is very real and actually far more precious than things touched, held, or counted…like money, houses, and cars, for instance. And lucky us—as human beings, we have the capacity to give and receive this extraordinary commodity. Many even spend their whole lives searching for it!

Although love isn’t quantified on any type of universal scale or psychic adding machine, it’s pretty obvious that some people have more of it in their lives than others. The whole discussion gets even more complicated when you consider all the different types of love, the relative qualities of each kind, what attracts it, what blocks it, why some people seem to need more than others, and on and on…

In my own experience, the only crystal clear thing about love is that the more of it I have in my life, the happier I am. Being practical – I’m a single mom, after all – the issues of love and relative happiness seem clearer when I envision them ledger-style in an overall “Love Budget.” According to this system, love that goes out to others and/or the world makes up what I loosely call “withdrawals,” which are balanced by “deposits,” when people or other sources shine love on me. Confused? Okay, here’s a breakdown of the accounts in my own Budget:

1.   The Self-Love Account – For me, this column in my love ledger is hands-down the most important! Self-Love must be kept consistently funded, because other accounts in my Budget (see below) often need transfers from this one to keep them operational. The great thing about the Self-Love account is that I can add to it in so many wonderful ways: taking care of myself by exercising, getting enough sleep and healthy food, and giving myself little pleasures such as a good book, a good movie, a good burrito, or a good massage! Also, ironically, when I help someone else without expectation of reward or reciprocation, I find a surprise deposit has been made to my Self-Love account. Basically, when I treat myself and others with respect and compassion, this column is in the black, where I need it to be.

For me, another critical source for replenishing Self-Love is connection with – actually, complete reliance upon – God. When I put effort into improving my Spiritual relationship, there is an amazing surge of love that can raise the balance to near-overflow!

2.   The Family Account – This account reflects love activity with family members such as aunts, grandparents, nieces, siblings, and cousins, i.e. extended family members whom I don’t live with, but who are important to me and with whom I share many events in my life.

Deposits and withdrawals in this column are pretty consistent, owing to the fact that this account has been around a long time, and I’m really familiar with its typical dynamic. I know which family members to expect deposits from – thanks, sissy – and which ones usually require a disproportionate emotional payout. Actually, it all balances out pretty well, because if funds get low in this account, I start spending more time with the payers than with those who like to take oversize withdrawals.

3.  The Children Account – The balance in this account has to be continually funded by transfers from Self-Love, because it could be decades and maybe never before you see some real love deposits from your children. As disappointing as that sounds, keep in mind: it is a parent’s job to love their children, not the other way around. However, I will add that there is some positive funding here from the satisfaction you get watching your children grow into healthy, responsible, independent adults who manage their own budgets successfully.

4.  The Friends Account – My basic goal in this particular account is to have it include friends who deposit and withdraw in roughly equal proportions. Of course, this follows along with the concept of the best friendships being those that include a healthy balance of give and take.

When there are people in this account making consistent major withdrawals with little to no deposits, I sometimes have to cut off future transactions with them. They can easily start eating their way into my Self-Love account, and the resulting resentment has Budget-blowing potential.

5.  The Significant Other Account – Unfortunately, the balance in this account – for me, anyway – has been pretty volatile. This is probably owing to the fact that falling in love makes me stupid, and I wind up making vast payouts with little coming back from the payee. If this sounds like you, watch out! Love blindness can be similar to an out-of-control spending binge, and even your Self-Love repository can go bust in the fall-out. For some of us, shutting this account down for a while is the only solution.

So there you have it – my Love Budget. How does yours look? Be aware that a Love Budget is also subject to the influence of outside economic conditions such as mental or physical illness, addiction, codependency issues, and unresolved emotional baggage. Nonetheless, everyone can benefit from working on those Self-Love deposits, and the best part is, we can always add to this balance without having to depend on anyone other than little ‘ol us.

(image courtesy of http://thomashawk.com/2008/01/eat-at-joes.html)

Guest Blog from Jill Thomas, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCHT)

Monday, April 25th, 2016
ajill159

Jill Thomas, CCHT

The Heartbreakingly Easy Problem to Solve

by Jill Thomas, CCHT

One of the most difficult parts of being a practitioner is seeing a client fail. When I say “fail,” I’m not talking about the client not reaching their goal, as in losing the amount of weight they wanted to lose, or achieve the result they wanted. I don’t consider these situations as failures, but rather as part of learning and sometimes adjusting the approach used.

Failure to me is when a client cannot or will not see the value of investing the time, expense, and work it takes to create lasting healing for themselves. They apparently don’t understand that they are worth the effort it takes to heal, whether to change their weight/body size or shed destructive habits and attitudes. Sadly, this happens all the time.

One example was when Trish, a prospective client, contacted me because of a challenging yet totally solvable problem. She was having trouble staying connected in a long-distance relationship, and also suffered extreme separation anxiety. Whenever her boyfriend would leave, an intense sadness would come over her, along with the fear that she would never see him again. This made her very clingy with him when he had to go somewhere, and she would insist they schedule their next date right then and there to allay her anxiety. Basically, Trish said she was a “wreck” whenever her boyfriend went away.

Knowing how difficult this issue can be, and how destructively those feelings can affect anyone’s quality of life, I was happy that Trish contacted me, because I knew I could help her. Her problem is actually one of the easier issues to resolve using the tool of hypnosis, and I knew Trish would feel a lot better even after just one session.

After scheduling an appointment with Trish, my mind was already busy planning out her protocol, anticipating some of the conversation, and feeling happy knowing she would see improvement very quickly. I could see the light at the end of her tunnel of pain, and it wasn’t an idiot holding a match!

Unfortunately, Trish never made it in for help. At her appointment time, she called me complaining that I didn’t “warn her” about San Diego traffic (doesn’t everyone who drives know there may be traffic?), that she would arrive too late at this point, and that all of this was my fault. She then added that she thought I charged too much, my intake forms were too long, and a couple of other silly, untrue “reasons” why she wouldn’t/couldn’t come. In spite of all her angry justification, I knew that probably because of the same issues that caused her trouble in the first place, Trish was backing away from her own healing. I was sure she did this in many areas of her life—blaming others for her problems, complaining about the cost of things, and probably not taking any help or advice offered that could really help her. Maybe she and I weren’t a match for treatment, but our conversation told me that on some level, she wasn’t ready. Trish cancelled her appointment and never called again.

It broke my heart, as it always does when this type of thing happens in my practice, that Trish was one more person in the world suffering needlessly and at her own hands. Her pain doubtlessly affected those around her, too…her friends, coworkers, the family watching her suffer, and maybe even a person she cut off on the freeway because her anger towards her boyfriend turned into road rage. Her boyfriend was likely the most affected, and whether or not they were a good match for each other, it was almost a guarantee that their relationship was already, or certainly would be, sorely tested by her issues.

I’ve talked with many practitioners about people flaking out on their own healing, and not surprisingly, it’s a very common drawback in the therapy field. Patients either stop showing up for the appointments they make for themselves, or stop treatment too early when there is still a lot more work to do. Sometimes they say they can’t afford treatment, which is always a ready excuse. My experience over the years, however, is that when people are ready to heal, they find a way to make it happen no matter what, even if that means sacrificing some material comfort for a short time, finding child care, or rearranging their schedule so they can keep their appointments. For those who are not ready, any excuse to cancel is used, and if none is available, the inner saboteur creates one.

Our egos hate change, and will fight like heck to keep the status quo, even if it’s a lousy one. Change – even beneficial change – can be hard because it requires us to grow, shift, and create different habits around the new way of being. Even if something isn’t good, such as being in a bad relationship, there is a certain degree of comfort in it because it’s familiar.

I have to face this with clients all the time and it stings, not so much because of loss of business – although I love what I do and being busy – but because I know that society at large is made better when someone gets healed. The reverse is also unfortunately true.

If you only get one thing from this book, I hope it is this: Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t let money, your or your kids’ schedules, “life,” or whatever obstacle you run across, keep you from the quality of living you deserve. Life goes on whether you are healthy and whole or not, so you may as well get healed! If you consider what you spend your money on, why wouldn’t you pay to get help for the most important person in you and your loved ones’ world—you?

There are few things in this world that can’t be made better through creative solutions. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health are the most important things to attend to, for your own benefit and that of this world we all share. Remember that no matter how things may “seem” at any given moment, you are loved, special, and extremely important! There is something on this planet that you, and only you, can do. Value yourself enough to heal the wounds that block you from sharing your unique contribution.

It’s Stronger to Forgive

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

032In stillness, when the silence seems almost magical and we sit by ourselves in a comforting, peaceful place…we can sometimes hear the whispers of Higher things. One of these is forgiveness. Make no mistake, however; though its voice is soft, forgiveness brings us power and strength beyond comprehension. Although many think forgiveness is a sign of weakness, of submission to or acceptance of injury from others, nothing could be further from the truth! Forgiveness comes from a highly evolved soul, one which knows that we can pardon others’ hurtful behavior while at the same time not remain a victim of it.

Forgiveness reflects love of self, so to find it we must turn our attention inward instead of outward. It is within every person’s reach, and yet impossible to achieve without at least some willingness on our part to feel it. In other words, to forgive is a choice, and some of us need to go through the pain of not forgiving before we’re ready for its healing effect.

The Pain of Anger

Why is it painful not to forgive? Because without forgiveness, hate is like a ball-and-chain, keeping us bound to the thing we loathe. In a very real sense, we give up our power to whatever we hate. Consider all the pleasures, happy thoughts, and creativity that could fill the hours we spend brooding over some person or situation we resent. Hate also breeds retaliation, causing more injury, destruction, and sadness…and of course, more hatred. Simply put, anger and animosity only lead to more of the same, and our entire lives can pass beneath this dark cloud of negativity.

Unlike the gentle tones of forgiveness, the voices of hatred, vengeance, and bitterness are loud, adamant, and raucous. They noisily grab our attention with promises of immediate gratification, causing us to say and do things we feel guilty about later on. Unfortunately, however, besides being the loudest voices, they sometimes yield short-term rewards. When we act out our resentment, we gain a false sense of power, righteousness, and superiority. In the anger equation, we are right and someone or something else is wrong! And let’s face it, who doesn’t love the satisfaction of being right? (Of course, we’re “right” according to our own view of what that is…) Also, if others cower to our bullying, we feel mighty and in control.

In its extreme form, intense anger demonstrated by tantrums, yelling, and physical aggression can be a physiological stimulant that accelerates our heart rate, breathing, and muscular tension, among other bodily effects. These sensations can actually be a “high” to some, who unconsciously look for a “fix” again and again. In this way, anger is like a drug, and one to which many become addicted. Like any addiction, however, the behavior and feelings often must be escalated to achieve the desired release.

Even on a lesser level of intensity, dwelling on the people and situations that are unacceptable to us can take up so much of our time and emotions that it becomes a distraction from dealing with other less compelling but very real emotions and problems. Things we might unconsciously wish to avoid are non-glamorous aspects of being human, including fear of close relationships, anxiety in social situations, confusion, low self-esteem, boredom, lack of motivation, feelings of failure…the list goes on and on. Like any escape from reality, however, anger blocks pleasurable feelings as well, like satisfaction at reaching a goal, appreciation of beauty in the world and people around us, and gratitude for the gifts we have in our lives. The saddest consequence of clinging to antagonism is that we become “stuck” – unable to grow emotionally and spiritually.

Working on Forgiveness

To forgive, we sometimes need more than just willingness. We actually have to work on changing our attitudes. Depending on how gravely we feel someone has injured us, this process can take time. The good news is that if we persist, we will always – ALWAYS – succeed in forgiving. Furthermore, even if we can’t forgive someone fully yet, we’ll feel better immediately just by taking small steps to try. Think of forgiveness as opening a window just a crack in a stuffy room. The fresh air we let in revitalizes us so much, we will want to open the window even more.

It’s crucial to understand that we cannot forgive others until we have forgiven ourselves. You’re probably wondering what you must forgive yourself for… The answer will be different for each one of us. What are the things you need to look at about yourself and your behavior that are or have been harmful to others or to you? It’s time to come clean about these things – write and talk about them, take responsibility for them, and make amends if needed. Now, here’s a real challenge: if you’re in conflict with someone else, say, a person you simply can’t stand, apologize to him or her for your part in the dispute! Sound crazy? You won’t believe how you’ll feel if you give it a try. Amends can also take the form of simply making better choices in the future. In many cases, we ourselves are the ones to whom we owe the greatest amends.

The hardest job is to develop more love and compassion toward yourself, but when you do this, the ability to forgive others comes naturally. If you get mired in resentment toward a particular person, here are some tricks you might try. One is to silently wish the very best for them (even if you know you’re lying initially). Do this every time you get caught up in anger at the person, and you’ll find the feelings loosen up and disappear over time. Another strategy is to make a short list of the person’s positive qualities, and read it to yourself daily or whenever negative thinking threatens to take charge of your brain!

One other fully guaranteed bitterness-buster is to make a list of the things you’re grateful for in your own life, apart from your anger at anything or anyone else. This is basically a positive displacement exercise, because if your mind is full of gratitude, there’s no room left for destructive thoughts.

Spiritual Help is Limitless

Alexander Pope said, “To err is human; to forgive divine.” In just these few words, Pope expressed that the act of forgiving requires more than just our mortal ability. As human beings, we make mistakes, have misunderstandings, and hurt each other. That’s where all the anger and hate comes from in the first place. Without something more powerful than our own limited mental and emotional capacities, we frequently aren’t able to forget or let go of that which has caused us pain. This is where we must reach out for spiritual help, and once we do, we are ultimately granted the strength to forgive no matter how deep the hurt.

What is your “something more powerful?” Many call it God, but others prefer terms like Universal Order, Higher Power, or Spiritual Center. It really doesn’t matter what we name it, as long as we are aware of two critical things: that He, She, or It has infinite power over the world and every single one of its troubles, and is a loving force that cares about us deeply as individuals.

Forgiveness and love are something we’re all born with. It is “life,” people, and painful circumstances that then start chipping away at us, teaching us to fear and to build protective shells around our core. If we didn’t have to create these insulating layers between ourselves and the world, we would all be able to trust, and freely love and forgive each other. It’s food for thought, wouldn’t you say? Maybe the true challenge and goal of life is to find your way back through all that accumulated defensiveness and hatred to reconnect with your whole, forgiving self. Seen in this way, the return journey is worth every step.

Being Sensitive in an Insensitive World

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Do you sometimes think you get your feelings hurt too easily? Would you describe yourself as a little – or maybe a lot – sensitive? If so, I can relate! Well do I know the agony of having someone hit me with cruel words or reckless criticism, watching much-anticipated plans fall through, being let down by a friend, or not getting something I was hoping for or thought I deserved. Ouch! I want to back away, isolate myself, get angry, cry perhaps, and lick my wounds. Then I berate myself for taking things so hard, for being “so damn sensitive.” After all, sensitivity means weakness, right?

Being touchy like this certainly makes a person prone to getting hurt by others and the world, at high risk for suffering pain in all its excruciating extremes. And who wants that? I have learned from my experience as a fairly thin-skinned person, however, that I make things infinitely harder when I criticize myself for being that vulnerable in the first place. Wishing my eyes were blue instead of their actual hazel color doesn’t change the fact. And in the same way, wanting to be less sensitive than I am is nothing more than an avoidance of reality.

When I’m harsh and judgmental with myself about this personality trait – sensitivity – honestly looking at my reactions and feelings is nearly impossible. The brutal inner critic takes over… Why do I have to get so emotional about that? I shouldn’t care so much. I’m overreacting. I’m being childish. This doesn’t bother other people, so there must be something wrong with me because I’m upset. And on it goes, with my peace of mind spiraling downward.

It’s enough! These kinds of thoughts just sabotage me by pulling me away from acceptance and from taking responsibility for myself. Now when I sense myself going down this road, I pause and take a self-caring breath. What is bothering me, and why? If I do some self-examination about the source of my hurt feelings, I can learn a lot! Sometimes I am reacting to something in the present that subconsciously reminds me of a troubling situation from my past. Or perhaps I’m exploding over one issue, but my melt-down is just a “symptom” of difficulties I’m having in one or more other areas of my life. Sometimes I need to look at what my expectations were regarding whatever is bothering me – were they reasonable? In every instance where I find myself disturbed, I’m either losing something I have, or being deprived of something I want. Trying to identify what was or is at stake leads me more quickly to accepting my feelings.

Digging a bit to get to the root of my “hot buttons,” if you will, is a compassionate approach that gives me new information about myself. Not only that, it’s the first step to healing from the pain. Taking a close look at and becoming aware of why certain people or circumstances affect me so strongly can give me insight, help me notice patterns, and hopefully lead to talking about what I uncover with myself, God, and someone I trust. By being gentler with myself, I can lessen my distress immediately; and if I’m patient, it’s possible for me to stop reacting negatively altogether. It takes some work, but wholeness and calm will ultimately replace the angst.

Over my many years of being a sensitive person, I’ve come to see that my reactions – particularly the upsetting ones – present opportunities for personal growth. Obviously no one likes pain, but I’ve learned that until I’m able to really feel it and take an honest look at it, it keeps repeating itself in situation after situation, and with person after person.

Ironically, by acknowledging and being more tolerant of my vulnerable side, I’ve actually become less sensitive. But I know I’ll probably always have this tendency; it’s a part of my nature, after all. Changing my attitude towards this trait has helped tremendously, though. Stop and consider that sensitive people are some of the most loving and creative individuals in the world! With the ability to experience all of life with extra “intensity,” they perceive themselves and the world around them with greater depth and awareness. And because they have generally suffered more, sensitive people possess greater understanding and compassion towards others in pain.

My lesson from being sensitive is that the more comfortable I am with this part of myself, the less it presents problems in my life. I believe this generally holds true for most characteristics we wish we didn’t have. The more quickly I can accept myself right now – with my positive traits as well as my defects – the faster I can move past the issues that cause me misery.

Be cautioned, however, this kind of growth – which is really the process of developing a healthy love of self – takes courage and the willingness to feel some discomfort. In my own case, I’ve never been able to do it by myself. It’s way more than my ego can handle, I’m afraid. So I rely on a Source that has far more power, One whose strength and love are basically guaranteed every second – God. With help like that, things about me that once seemed like total liabilities turn into blessings of self-discovery and growth. After all my struggles in this area, I am rewarded by seeing miraculous improvement in my attitudes and behavior. Truly, I’m even beginning to think being sensitive is one of my best qualities!

Writing For Me

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

For me, writing is not merely an instrument of communication. It goes far deeper than that. Writing is the bridge between my internal life and the outside world, both the means to an end as well as the end itself. Sometimes I wish I could make up amazing stories, but honestly, I find reality much more compelling. Thus the plot is ordinary, but my thoughts and attitudes about what exists around me can be complex, deep-seated, and ever-changing.  And hopefully evocative to some readers to see the mundane in the light of their own inner uniqueness. All becomes so much more precious and beautiful that way.

Words are my paint, paper my canvas. Sometimes I see something so striking and appealing, or ugly and disturbing, that I simply must talk about it pen-in-hand. This I try to do in my way, using language to basically describe and clarify first, then to embellish. It’s not much different from the painter who builds a picture, using white and pastels to highlight and draw the eye’s attention, darker colors to subdue or convey a mood. It is all art, which seeks to affect in some way the people that can appreciate its message.

Yes, I write for a living, so my skill with words and language also has many practical applications. Creativity is one trait I claim, but I also crave organization, so my business report and marketing writing allows me the opportunity to exercise that. Or exorcise, as I’m often like one possessed when it comes to correct grammar, spelling, and word usage. I don’t know many people who proofread their text messages before hitting “send,” but I admit I am one of them.

Making a clear picture from ideas, paragraphs, sentences, and words fulfills me the way it does when I clean out a drawer. I throw out the things that are worthless and unnecessary, and try to put the valuable items in their proper place. Writing for business is a form requiring directness, with less need for description and creative embellishment. In this respect, it can be easier to compose. On the other hand, some business writing, such as marketing or resumes, necessitates specific and at times subtle use of language to glorify the subject and persuade the reader that they need to procure it no matter the cost.

But by far the most personal and necessary use of writing in my life has been to express my mental, emotional, and spiritual condition. Perhaps it is because I’ve been doing this for so long – I’ve kept a journal since I was in my teens – that writing has become almost inseparable from who I am. There have been times, and still are, when my notebook is my always-available confidante, one that doesn’t judge what I reveal nor how I say it. Generally, the only descriptive verbiage I use in this writing is four-letter words. And lots of exclamation points.

Honestly, writing in my journal is a spiritual experience for me, because when I’m spilling my guts on paper, I’m aware that God is reading it. (Duh! Who do I think put the feelings and expressive words there in the first place?) Although I don’t understand how this happens, I get greater acceptance of all those feelings, both difficult and joyful, after I write about them. And if God and I can stomach all that crowds my head, it becomes more likely to me that other people will not be put off by it either.

Considering all the above, writing helps me to survive on many levels: financially, artistically, emotionally, and spiritually. A means not only to survive, but to thrive and grow. Although it has its challenges and frustrations, writing gives back to me according to the effort I put into it. Like so many things in life, practice is the key. Thankfully, I love to practice!

Proven over and over to me, however, is that my life is better the more I write. Or perhaps the better my life is, the more I am writing. At this point, it doesn’t matter because it is all good. And I want to write all about it.