Archive for June, 2012

Having Trouble Forgiving? Read This!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

While browsing at a bookstore recently a book jumped off the shelf at me.  It whispered, “Use me for your next blog.  Some of your readers are still struggling with forgiveness. I can help.”  Understanding this to be a serendipitous call, I listened and the following is the result.

FORGIVING AND MOVING ON is a book by Tracy Dayton, Ph.D. It is a book of  affirmations to aid those people who still hold grudges and anger in their heart and have trouble forgiving, letting go, and getting on with their lives. I have seen my share of those types in my practice over the years.

This is a wonderful little book, filled with a rationale as to why one needs to forgive and daily prescriptions on how to do that day by day.  It is inspirational.

Dr. Dayton gets it!  Let me quote this insightful woman therapist;

1. “To forgive and let go – to truly release the old resentment – fill us with a sense of freedom.”

2. “We forgive, if we are wise, not for the other person, but for ourselves … to relieve the residue of the wrong that is still alive within us.”

3. “We forgive because it is less painful than holding on to resentment.”

4. “Forgiveness does not necessarily mean acceptance or re-connection.” A boundary may be necessary for that person that hurt you.”

5. “When you let go of the past and move on it is a kind of maturation and growing up.”

Dr. Dayton says it is important for a person to recognize the need for this change. That holding on to anger and resentment in your heart is destructive to the core of your existence.

You may  not be attuned to your inner angst. You may hold a grudge against another.  Perhaps you have guilt for wrong things done by you to another.  The double G’s – guilt and grudge -  are insidious and sully the soul.  Forgiveness of the other and of yourself are called upon for spiritual and psychological serenity. I once saw a word carving that said “Let go, let God”.  Wise words indeed.

Let me close with one of Dr. Dayton’s affirmations:

“Today I recognize forgiveness as the quickest road to freedom and serenity.  When I forgive my past I release myself from the grip that it has on my present.  I no longer carry the heavy baggage around with me.  It is difficult to live in peace if I am psychologically engaged in yesterday’s battles.”

May this article serve as a catalyst to look inside of yourself and see if you are still living in the past with your negative thoughts about yourself or another.  May FORGIVING AND MOVING ON be a mantra for you every day of your life!

Your Children Speak, Can You Hear Them?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Are you raising kids?  Did that? Will do that?  Do you, or did you, have a manual for doing a bang up job in raising kids?  Did you, or are you going to, raise the kids the way you were raised?  What might you do differently?

Raising kids, no matter what their age, is a two way street.  Kids have feelings, perceptions, and needs.  Oftentimes, however, they are not the best in communicating with you, their parents.  Or, perhaps, you parents are not listening well. Plus, there still are some stone age parents who believe that “kids should be seen but not heard”.

Would you like to “hear” them?  They have spoken to me and I am passing their words on to you. They are now a part of a handout I often use when teaching parenting classes.

Hear your children’s words:

1. Stand by us, not over us.  Give us the feeling that we are not alone in the world, that we can always count on you when we are in trouble.

2. Make us feel that we are loved and wanted.  We want to love you, not as a duty but because you love us.

3. Train us by being affectionately firm. You will achieve more with us through patient teaching than by punishment or preaching. Say “no” when you feel you have to, but explain your rules, don’t merely impose them.

4. Bring us up so that we will not always need you.  Teach us how to take on responsibility and become independent of you.  We will learn this faster and better if you will let us question you, your ideas and standards.

5. Don’t act shocked when we do things we shouldn’t.  It is going to take us time to learn how to grow into life properly.

6. Try to be as consistent as possible.  If you are mixed up about what you want from us, why shouldn’t we be mixed up too in what we give you?

7. Don’t try and make us feel inferior.  We doubt ourselves enough without your confirming it.  Predicting failure won’t help us succeed.

8. Say “nice work” when we do something really well. Don’t hold back the praise when we deserve it. That’s the way to spur us on.

9. Show respect for our wishes even if you disagree with them. Respect for you will flow naturally from your respect of us.

Articulate little devils, aren’t they!  “Out of the mouths of babes…”  Listening to kids is not easy, but it is worth the extra time.  Just as it is for you and me, we like to be heard by significant others in our life. The earlier we can respond to our children’s exhortations the better the results will be for us as the kids go through the challenging teen years.

There is no more important role or mission than to be a loving parent who works in concert with our mate, or ex-spouse, to nurture and mentor our children. Communication with them is essential and an important ingredient for any effective dialogue is to truly hear them.  Adhering to the above nine points will go a long way in developing children of whom you are proud and they are appreciative.  Give it your best shot, no matter what age your kids are. A loving family of well connected adults is a wonderful reality and worth such effort.

Want to Live Your Life Fully? A “Simple” Way is Offered!

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Anyone who reads this blog, I presume, is a special individual who is continually looking for ways to become the best person possible, having a quality life, and sharing it with people you love and like.  As I am in a profession that helps people I am always looking for, and learning from, various sources that seem to offer a healthy perspective on how to live life fully.  I have welcomed the continuing process of learning from books, people, my practice and personal experience. I enjoy sharing these thoughts for your consumption and evaluation.  You will determine if it is additive to your life.

Elaine St.James wrote a best seller called SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE.  It focused on the external or outer areas of one’s life.  She then followed with another winner called INNER SIMPLICITY, emphasizing inner nourishment of the soul. She offers many recommendations to that end.  I share some of them with you.

1. SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE: Life is easier. You are able to create peace and stability which offer a foundation for the deeper journey.

2. SPEND TIME EACH DAY IN NATURE & CONNECT WITH THE SUN: Nature restores, heals, and inspires. The sun increases our vitality, elevates our consciousness, and helps us get in touch with our soul.

3. CREATE BEAUTY IN YOUR SURROUNDINGS.

4. LEARN TO ENJOY THE SILENCE: Silence facilitates hearing the inner voice.

5. SMILE. ENJOY EACH MOMENT. HAVE FUN WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

6. CREATE YOUR SANCTUARY: Have a safe and nurturing place to be alone.

7. UTILIZE AFFIRMATIONS AND VISUALIZATIONS: Positive verbal and visual statements of who you are and who you desire to be facilitate maximal self expansion.

8. GET COUNSELING

9. PRACTICE DETACHING (from negative thoughts, people, and excess possessions)

10. JUST SAY NO

11. LEARN TO FORGIVE

12. BE SELF DISCIPLINED

13. GET RID OF ANGER

14. QUIT JUDGING

15. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR LIFE

16. ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE

17. STAY ONLY IN RELATIONSHIPS THAT SUPPORT YOU

18. DEVELOP GRATITUDE

19. CRY OUT YOUR PAIN

20. EXPLORE MEDITATION

21. LEARN TO LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE

22. LOVE A LOT

There are more inviting thoughts offered by Ms. St. James worthy of your read. Hopefully these suggestions will give you food for thought and stimulate you to make new choices as you continue your journey of healthy and enlightened living.  For, as you know, “the unexamined life is not worth living”.

P.S. You may want to cut out these twenty two exhortations and periodically look at them as reminders of how you may want to live your life – fully!

PTSD: Has It Affected You or Someone You Love?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) exists and is far more prevalent than most people want to admit. People need to know more about its causes and treatment. People need to know how it affects an individual and the family of the PTSD sufferer.

I was pleased to see a significant military figure come out and speak openly about his bout with PTSD. General Carter Ham, one of only twelve four star generals in the Army, was the subject of a front page story in a USA TODAY. He was in command in northern Iraq during the early part of the war in 2004. When he returned stateside “all of him didn’t come back… Pieces of him the way he used to be were perhaps left back there.  I didn’t get the whole guy I’d sent away” said his wife, Christi.

According to Ham, loud noises startled him, sleep did not come easily, mood swings over trivial things were prevalent. Concerned, General Ham realized he needed help so he sought screening for PTSD and received counseling. He says this counseling helped him get “realigned”. General Ham admitting the disorder and seeking help is viewed as a “tectonic shift for a military system in which seeking such help has long been a sign of weakness.” Ham says “military tradition doesn’t easily tolerate talk of vulnerability… There is a part of Army culture that says ‘Tough it out’” There does appear, however, to be a shift in that mentality as PTSD is being more recognized and screening and counseling for it are being encouraged by military brass.

According to Rear Admiral David Smith, Joint staff surgeon, five to twenty per cent of the 1.8 million troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will have some PTSD symptoms.  The problems range from “loss of sleep to homelessness and suicide.”  Alcohol and drug abuse, raging anger, and the difficulty of being emotionally close to anyone are common responses to the pain of PTSD.

A major study done in 2006 said twenty per cent of Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSD.  That is roughly 540,000 people.

PTSD is an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience.  It certainly is not limited to warfare experience. A young child seeing parents fight, physical/ sexual abuse, seeing or experiencing brutality, automobile accidents, being victim of a crime, death threatening medical diagnosis, natural disasters, etc… all are possible causal factors in PTSD symptoms.

PTSD statistics reveal that up to more than 40% have endured at least one traumatic event, resulting in the development of PTSD in up to 15% girls and 6% of boys. Symptoms can occur weeks, months, or even years after the traumatic experience(s). Normal brain functioning has been altered by these experiences. Symptoms, in varying degrees of severity, may include: “flashbacks” about the traumatic event; feelings of estrangement or detachment; nightmares; sleep disturbances; impaired functioning; occupational instability; memory disturbances; marriage-family-parenting difficulties.

This article is intended to raise the reader’s awareness of the magnitude of the problem of PTSD in our society and in our military.  Understanding, family and friend support, counseling, and perhaps medication are important factors in limiting the devastation it can cause.

Over the years I have counseled many civilians and veterans of war with PTSD.  It is a challenging process because the emotional wound, the brain wiring, has been so deeply impacted by the particular traumatic events experienced.

If you are suffering from PTSD symptoms, get help.  If a loved one is manifesting PTSD symptoms, support that person and help him/her get the counseling needed.

Thank you, General Ham, for the service you have rendered for our country, both in battle and in the healing of the emotional wounds of PTSD.  Your brave example will, hopefully, help others to be “vulnerable” and get the assistance needed.

Father: “Leader of the Band”: Yes? No? Your Experience?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

This Sunday is Father’s Day.  If you are a father, what does it mean to you?  If you are a child, what does it mean to you?  Is the day important? Does it bring forth any particular thoughts and feelings? I hope that it does for it is important to reflect on the role of Father in the family.

As Father’s day approaches this year a particular song keeps coming to my mind.  It is an emotional song for many sons and daughters. It’s called “Leader of the Band” and sung by Dan Fogelberg.  Some of the lyrics are:

The leader of the band is tired

and his eyes are growing old,

but his blood runs through my instrument

and his song is in my soul.

 

I thank you for the kindness

and the times when you got tough.

And, Pap, I don’t think

I said, “I love you” near enough.

 

My life has been a poor attempt

to imitate the man.

I’m just a living legacy

to the leader of the band.

 

The Father sets the tone (or tune) in the family – good or bad.  The influence on the family, on kids, is very significant, both through heredity and example. The Father’s blood runs through us in many influential ways.

What has been the impact of your father on you?  Have you wanted to be like your father or have you chosen to modify or do the opposite?  Usually “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.  It is important to know who your father was and what his influence has been on you.  Even if you did not have a father present, that abandonment by him has deeply impacted you – perhaps in ways that you are not very in touch with.

The message here is to know the influence of your father on you.  Perhaps you could reflect on that, get in touch with the related feelings, and, perhaps, even share that with a significant other.

Also, those of you who are currently fathers, what kind are you? Where can improvement be made?  Dare you ask your children what kind of father you are or have been?  If
improvement is called for, rise to the occasion.  A Father always has some influence.

Make no mistake, you are called to be the “Leader of the Band”.  Bring forth a beautiful song of love!
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!