Leaning Into Uncomfortable Emotions Actually Makes You Happier!

Worth reading – from Off the Web!

Why Leaning Into Your Uncomfortable Emotions Actually Makes You Happier

2971831831_7ebf8e6860_oby Dina Overland

Life is the most amazing teacher.  It offers us the exact lesson we need, precisely when we need to hear it.

So that means that if you’re feeling emotions like anxiety, anger, sadness, jealousy, or bitterness, then life is offering you an opportunity to understand where you’re stuck in your growth… where you have more to learn… where you could focus your attention.

That’s why you should LEAN INTO those emotions and really FEEL them. Explore them. Consider WHY you’re feeling that feeling. Think about what lesson you can learn from the situation and the feeling you’re having.

It’s when we truly feel and experience ALL of our emotions that we’re able to move past the emotional pain and start receiving more happiness and peace in our lives.

In fact, these so-called negative emotions are actually quite positive — if you take the time to SIT with them. View them as messages to stop what you’re doing and look these feelings right in the eyes.

“To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening,”  ~ Pema Chodron 

I know this firsthand. Although I have accepted and come to peace with the fact that I will most likely only have one child, I still feel sad that I can’t have what I desperately want in my life — more children. In fact, I felt deep heartbreak earlier this year when I learned that three of my close friends were all pregnant.

I knew I had two options — ignore the crippling emotional pain, pretending I was fine with the news or open up my heart and really explore my honest emotions that were stirred up as a result of my friends’ pregnancies.

I opted to follow the advice I give to my clients and feel my feelings. So I gave my sadness and despair a space to exist by limiting my to-do list and social obligations. That freed up my time to practice good self-care tools like journaling, sharing my honest feelings with my husband (and he shared his with me), and meditating so that I was able to fully process the sadness and upset out of my system.

From an outside perspective, it looked like I was moping about for a few days, but I was really letting my sadness have a place to exist — without judgment. I wasn’t stuffing it away, hoping it would just miraculously disappear so I could avoid feeling crappy.

And I felt so much better for my choice to feel my feelings. It was like I healed a part of myself by releasing these emotions.

If you find yourself in a painful situation, and you think you can’t bear a minute more of whatever you’re feeling, follow these three steps:

  1. Become aware that you’re resisting and pushing away the feelings. Simply being mindful of your tendency to avoid feeling emotional pain is a huge step toward moving past that pain and feeling more happiness. That’s because you can’t change a thought or behavior if you don’t know you’re thinking or doing it.
  1. Observe your feelings without judgment. Don’t push them away, but don’t obsess over them either. Just acknowledge them and let them go. One way to do that is to observe your feelings and thoughts simply as “feelings” and “thoughts.” Don’t qualify them as good or bad, positive or negative. Just allow whatever feelings you have to come to the surface and remind yourself with compassion and kindness that you’re merely feeling a feeling or thinking a thought. To help prevent those feelings and thoughts from taking over your life, use this affirmation: I accept all of my emotions and thoughts. It is safe to feel those emotions and think those thoughts. 
  1. Refrain. As I mentioned in Step 1, we often try to distract ourselves from feeling sadness, loneliness, bitterness, and other so-called negative emotions. But try to refrain from diverting your attention away from those feelings. It’s when you refrain — by pausing and being mindful of those feelings BEFORE you take any action based on them — that you’re getting to know your deepest fears and able to heal the wounds that caused the fears. For example, if you’re feeling particularly hurt and lonely after your estranged spouse makes an insensitive comment to you, don’t just lash out in response. Instead, sit with that hurt and loneliness and use the opportunity to consider where else you can work on healing yourself.

Essentially, if we live our lives seeing everything as a chance to heal, then every single moment and experience — even the especially hard ones — is truly a gift helping us grow and welcome deep peace and happiness.

About The Author
Dina Overland is a Spiritual Life Coach helping people (especially mamas) move past their emotional pain so they can stop feeling angry, anxious, bitter, depressed, and alone and start feeling more happiness, love, and peace. Watch her FREE video — From Pain to Joy:  4 Steps to Finding Peace Through Emotional Suffering — connect with her on Facebook, and check out her website.
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Original source: http://truththeory.com/2015/10/29/why-leaning-into-your-uncomfortable-emotions-actually-makes-you-happier/

 

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The Value of Journaling

Introspection Overload? The Value of Journaling by 

~ Worth Reading from Off the Web

Introspection Overload? The Value of JournalingTo my fellow over-thinkers, ruminators, and introspective-dwellers: I know what it’s like to feel “stuck in your head.

It’s those moments when your mind starts to wander, and all your reflections and ponderings (whether they may be trivial or significant) begin to simulate a mountain that’s too exhausting to climb. I like to refer to this as ‘introspection overload’ — thinking that decides to examine a subject matter intricately and closely, inviting further thoughts to join the party, even though you reason that it’s probably time to take a few steps back.

This is one of the reasons why I love journaling. I have drawers devoted to several years of journal-keeping (including a precious gem from my second-grade self).

Besides my interest in writing and jotting down various notes, happenings, or musings that strike my fancy, journaling has become an integral component in reining in introspection. The transfer of your thoughts from your mind onto paper is a symbolic release in and of itself.

Phylameana lila Desy’s article suggests that journaling serves as a therapeutic outlet of sorts:

“Journaling can be a healing process to help you get in touch with your deepest yearnings, find resolve for problems, and deal with personal issues. Whatever type of painful emotion you are experiencing (grief, sadness, fear, isolation, etc.) expressing yourself in writing can help ease your discomfort.”

Besides the basic ‘daily diary’ that’s best for making sense of your experiences, try these alternative kinds of journaling:

  • a gratitude journal – focusing on the positives is beneficial to any kind of healing
  • a dream journal – symbolism/scenarios in dreams may have important meanings, and self-analysis may help to uncover what that is.
  • a memory journal – writing down childhood stories may be a way to preserve memories for future sharing, but it also may spark further understanding of the past.

In The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron suggests experimenting with various writing exercises to induce greater internal clarity.

  • The Morning Papers” –  Take three sheets of blank paper and allow your pen to mark down your stream of consciousness, writing down anything and everything that surfaces.

While these pages are not meant to be kept, Cameron advocates that writing can generally serve as a cathartic tool to release negative thought processes.

According to Sandy Grason, author of Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams, journaling is an overall proficient method to simply get to know yourself better.

“I believe each time you give yourself fully to the blank page, you get a little bit closer to your true Self… It’s the place that your greatness can whisper to you and remind you of all that you came to this earth to be.”

So, my fellow over-thinkers, ruminators, and introspective-dwellers: there are probably other avenues that can quiet all the chatter in your head. Maybe a long walk is soothing, or maybe meditating and focused breathing exercises do the trick — it’s all up to you. I, for one, will always be an avid supporter of the journal. I should probably start creating more space for my collection.

Source: Introspection Overload? The Value of Journaling | World of Psychology, edited for readability

Also see https://janeweisslcsw.com/2015/01/08/why-journal/

A Relaxation Exercise

Self Help TidBits

Five-Finger Relaxation Technique

This technique is great for lessening anxiety and building confidence. It only takes a few minutes to learn, and is actually very powerful.

To begin, get in a relaxed position, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply.

  1. Inhale, and as you exhale, touch your thumb to your index finger. Recall a time when your body felt a healthy fatigue, like how you felt sinking into a chair after a day of hiking, or just stepping out of a hot tub. Breathe deeply and try to feel the heaviness of your muscles.
  2. Next, touch your thumb to your middle finger and think of a time when you had a loving experience – when you felt a strong sense of closeness or connection with another, like a long embrace.  Feel the sensations of warmth and love moving through you.
  3. Now, touch your thumb to your ring finger and recall the nicest compliment you ever received. Listen. Take it in. You might want to imagine thanking this person… Accepting the compliment demonstrates your high regard for this person.
  4.  Finally, touch your thumb to your little finger. As you do, reflect on the most beautiful place you have ever been. Let yourself soak in the environment – the colors, light, breeze, sounds, texture and smells. Allow yourself to stay in this place for a while.

Now gently bring yourself back to where you are. Remind yourself that you can awaken this experience any time throughout your day by touching each finger, saying:

5-finger relaxation

5-finger relaxation

 

More TidBits – Therapy self-help

 

Using Compassion to Cope with Anxiety

Worth Reading From Off the Web!

 

Using Compassion to Cope with AnxietyIf you struggle with anxiety, you probably have a mean streak. That is, you’re probably very mean to yourself. You probably have no problem being harsh and overly critical of your thoughts and behaviors — particularly when you’re having a tough time with anxiety.

You might blame yourself and see yourself as less-than because anxiety follows you everywhere, from home to work to the grocery store.

You also might think in shoulds: I should have more control over my anxiety. I should be a better public speaker by now. I shouldnever be scared of something so silly. I should be ashamed. I should be different.

 And you might think that being harsh toward yourself will curb your anxiety and whip you into calmer and cooler shape. Or maybe you think that being self-critical is simply being realistic. That you’re realistically evaluating your shortcomings or weaknesses. Or maybe being self-critical has simply become your default, your automatic response to anxiety (or anything else in your life).

But guess what? This kind of thinking often backfires and actually can boost your anxiety.

At least according to Dennis D. Tirch, Ph.D, psychologist and author of The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Worry, Panic and Fear

You can’t insult your way to less anxiety (or any positive change). And you know what? You deserve better. Millions of people struggle with anxiety — and there’s no shame in that.

Self-Criticism vs. Compassionate Self-Correction

In his book, Tirch distinguishes between self-criticism and compassionate self-correction. He says that “Compassionate self-correction is grounded in the desire to alleviate suffering and to help us realize our hearts’ deepest desire to be able to behave as we’d wish to.”

He explains that it’s not about denying mistakes or weaknesses. Instead it’s about radically accepting yourself: “accepting your fallibility, your frailty and your suffering, all of which are essential aspects of your common humanity.”

Tirch cites Paul Gilbert’s analogy involving two teachers with different styles: the critical teacher and the encouraging, supportive teacher. The critical teacher focuses on their students’ faults and scolds or teases them. As a result, the students become afraid and resentful, while the teacher becomes angry and anxious. The encouraging and supportive teacher, however, focuses on their student’s strengths, has clear expectations and gives constructive feedback.

Connecting to Your Compassionate Self

Tirch features several valuable activities to help readers tap into their compassionate self. One activity involves using two chairs to mimic your anxious mind and your compassionate mind. It helps you learn how to purposely activate your compassionate mind – and, over time, being empathetic will become automatic.

Take two chairs, and have them face each other. First, sit in one chair and imagine looking at yourself in the other chair. Connect to your self-anxious thoughts, and say them out loud. Talk about your worries, your criticisms, your shame.

Then, when you’re ready, sit in the other chair, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Visualize your compassionate self, and let yourself smile. Connect to your forgiving, kind and warm thoughts. You can also place your hand over your heart and think of being compassionate.

Next, open your eyes and acknowledge that you’re with your anxious self. You might say that you understand your feelings, and acknowledge the difficulty of anxiety; and that it’s OK to feel this way. Then close your eyes, again, and after a natural exhale, let go of the exercise, and give yourself credit for practicing this activity.

In the second exercise Tirch suggests readers compose a compassionate letter to themselves. Before beginning, take a few deep breaths. Then focus on your thoughts. “What conflicts, problems or self-criticisms come to mind? What’s your mind beginning to tell you? What emotions arise within you?”

Then take a few more deep breaths, and focus on being compassionate, nonjudgmental and accepting of yourself. Recognize that your feelings are valid and your struggles are a normal part of life. Find a time to read your letter – and feel free to revise it any time.

Bringing Compassion to the What-Ifs

In the same chapter, Tirch also talks about how readers can bring more compassion to worrisome thoughts (i.e., the usual litany of “what ifs”). It’s these what-ifs that, over time, our brains begin to interpret as cold, hard facts. Then our bodies act in kind, producing anxiety-riddled sensations.

As Tirch writes, “Of course, the anxious mind is very good at generating anxiety-provoking predictions of possible threats. All too often, our emotional brains then respond to these imaginary threats as if they were real, so our physical sensations, feelings, and behavior come to be dominated by our worries.”

He suggests readers explore their thoughts by asking questions such as: “What’s going through my mind when I’m anxious?” “How does my anxious self see the world, and what does it think about the current situation?” “What is my anxious self/mind telling me right now?” Write down your thoughts, and think about how your compassionate mind would respond to them. Think about how you’d talk to a friend who was in a similar situation.

Being kind to ourselves can be hard – really hard for some of us – especially if the critical thoughts are deeply ingrained. But with practice you can learn to be self-compassionate.

And remember that there’s nothing self-indulgent about being kind to yourself. (This is a common misconception.) Tirch cites research that’s actually found the opposite: People who are self-compassionate tend to be less self-indulgent.

As he writes, “To operate from the compassionate mind is to have a deep appreciation of the suffering of both others and ourselves.”

Learn more about Dennis Tirch and his work at his website.

Your Inner Capacity for Growth

“No matter how many scars we carry from what we have gone through and suffered in the past, our intrinsic wholeness is still here. When it comes right down to it, the challenge is to realize that this is it. Right now is my life.

The question is, What is my relationship to it going to be? Does my life just automatically “happen” to me? Am I a total prisoner of my circumstances or my obligations, of my body or my illness, or of my history? Do I become hostile or defensive or depressed if certain buttons get pushed, happy if other buttons are pushed, and frightened if something else happens? What are my choices? Do I have any options? What else contains the scars? None of us has to be a helpless victim of what was done to us or what was not done for us in the past, nor do we have to be helpless in the face of what we may be suffering now.

We are also what was present before the scarring—our original wholeness, what was born whole. And we can reconnect with that intrinsic wholeness at any time, because it’s very nature is that it is always present. It is who we truly are.

As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter how despairing you may be feeling in a given moment. But if you hope to mobilize your inner capacities for growth and for healing and to take charge in your life on a new level, a certain kind of effort and energy on your part will be required.

It will take conscious effort on your part to move in a direction of healing, inner peace, and well-being. This means learning to work with the very stress and pain that are causing you to suffer.”      
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living 
~*:.•*•.:*~*:.•*•.:*~*:.•*•:.*~*.:•*•:.*~
Pink
This is one of the things psychotherapy is good for. As a therapist, I see myself as opening my heart to hold space for the one who is sharing, and then offering assistance in making sense of it all. We often will break down beliefs that have held my client hostage for years – some since childhood. Also, transformation seems to be more profound with a witness … expressing emotions helps you digest them, and then the emotions let you go.
Stay tuned for more articles about the benefits of psychotherapy!
 

All You Want to Know About Therapy

For Therapy to work, you must have a good connection…

and that’s why        

self-help books don’t work.

Our emotional lives, with all their emotional cues, are on board before any verbal or conceptual ability appears. And the consequences of these experiences are unaffected by intellectual efforts to change them.

That may be because emotions, and our most powerful “memories”, seem to be stored in the right hemisphere of the brain. And yet our thinking (or intellectualizingis a left-hemisphere activity.

Books and conversations about why we act the way we do are certainly helpful, but they don’t seem to be enough to effect real changes in our interactions with the world and ourselves.

So how can we make real changes?

Only by recreating as much as possible the initial conditions in which the processes were created in the first place.

We are born wired to seek connection with others. 

You may have heard that your first loves (parents) create the models for every relationship there after. They become our relationship-blueprints. Our experiences, especially with our caregivers, will become unconscious, intuitive memories that form the basis of our emotional life.

So if you want to change the deep, unconscious patterns that define your reactions to life’s events, you need an environment that can mirror those earliest connections, while, ideally, re-writing them (“neuroplasticity”). The result is a more harmonious existence in your current situations.

A powerful way to do this is through a positive connection with a trained professional (i.e., a psychotherapist). Good therapy aims to create a safe connection with the client so that emotional healing can take place.

And there is more to it, of course. Techniques that require direct experience have proven effective, such as working with the “inner child , mindfulness meditations, Journaling and others. I believe these techniques work because they access the right-brain.

When my client opens up to me as much as they can in a session, I know that we are accessing the right-brain. In doing so, the chances for authentic change become possible.

If you’d like to contact me, have a question, or want to chat, please click the link:

Work and contact info

call, 801-252-6754 (private voicemail, 24/7),

or Email me:  JaneLCSW@gmail.com

And Please Join Me :  Jane A. Weiss, LCSW on Facebook

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6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them

category – Worth reading from Off the Web: ADDICTIONS CORNER

By
~ 3 min read

6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery - and How to Face ThemFear is normal at every stage of recovery. Everyone enters rehab with some trepidation, even if they’ve been in and out of treatment for years. Likewise, most people leave rehab full of worry. What will happen when they leave the one place they know they can stay sober? How will they cope when the feelings they’ve been medicating come flooding back?

When you think about how the average person responds to a horror movie or passing a traffic accident, it is clear that, in some cases, fear actually draws us in rather than repelling us. Fear makes us alert to danger; it helps guide our decision-making process. But too much fear can be paralyzing in life and, in addiction recovery, can be a precursor to relapse. Here are some of the fears common among people in recovery, along with suggestions for facing them:

#1 Fear of Sobriety

Getting sober means replacing your primary coping mechanism – drugs and alcohol – with new, unfamiliar ones. The process can be uncomfortable, particularly for someone who is afraid of feeling in general. Will all of the hard work be worth it? Will sobriety be boring, sustainable? Staying stuck in this fear generally means staying stuck in addiction.

What to Do: Nelson Mandela said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Rather than running from it, feel the fear and then take one step forward anyway – go to rehab, meet with a therapist or attend a support group where other people in recovery share their success stories. Once you try it, you may find that sobriety is not as scary as you once thought.

#2 Fear of Failure

Whether you have one day sober or 10 years, recovery presents challenges. There are times when you’ll doubt yourself and get pushed outside of your comfort zone. There are times when you will fall short of a goal. At this point, you can either conclude that you don’t deserve it or have what it takes, or you can try again.

What to Do: Many addicts are perfectionists who have difficulty accepting mistakes and taking strategic risks. True, about half of recovering addicts relapse at some point. But the other half doesn’t, and if you relapse and learn from it, you haven’t failed at all. Others have succeeded in spite of fear, and so can you. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, more than 23 million people in the U.S. have recovered from drug and alcohol problems.

#3 Fear of Success

The flipside of the fear of failure is the fear of success. Most people don’t consciously self-sabotage, but they have a deeply held belief that they don’t deserve to succeed and, in so believing, never really put forth their best effort. Feeling doomed from the start, many allow self-doubt and fears of what others think to keep them from trying.

What to Do: Fear is an emotion that is based on something we cannot control: the future. Instead of fretting over what might be, practice being mindful of the present. Feel the fear and breathe through it without resisting it or trying to change it – and then notice how the fear begins to dissipate.

#4 Fear of Rejection

Worried that they may be abandoned by the people they love or judged by others, some people refuse to admit that they have a drug problem or reach out to others for support. Yet without taking these steps, there can be no recovery.

What to Do: Fear of rejection can be overcome by pushing yourself to work a recovery program even when you don’t want to. Attend sober social gatherings, lean on family members and talk to people at support group meetings. Research shows that the simple act of putting your fears into words taps into the parts of the brain responsible for logic and emotional regulation, decreasing fear and anxiety.

#5 Fear of Losing Your Identity

After months or years of being fixated on drugs and alcohol, who are you if you aren’t an addict? What are your hopes, desires and values? These are some of the most difficult questions in recovery, and the answers may change over time.

What to Do: In recovery, you have a unique opportunity to redefine yourself. Spend some time thinking back to who you were before you started using drugs and revisit old interests. Also try something new, such as volunteering or taking a class, so you have a chance to develop new passions. Each of these steps will not only help you maintain your sobriety, but also move you closer to the ultimate goal of figuring out who you are.

#6 Fear of Perpetual Misery

Lurking in the minds of most recovering addicts is the question: What if I do the hard work of recovery and am still miserable? After drugs flood the brain with dopamine, some people find it difficult to feel pleasure from normally enjoyable activities. Others get clean and sober only to find that they still feel angry and depressed. Also known as “dry drunk,” these individuals erroneously believe that getting sober is where the hard work ends.

What to Do: Some of the damage inflicted by prolonged drug use will be repaired the longer you stay sober. Just as important as stopping the use of all mood-altering substances is actively engaging in a program of recovery. Only by investing in yourself and your relationships can life in recovery be truly joyful.

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine.

Original: 6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them | Addiction Recovery.