Stages Of Grief

Most people believe that the ‘Stages of Grief’ apply only to the death of a loved one, but this is far from true. It’s also a misnomer to think that the stages go in order, are progressive, or that you will ever actually be done.

We grieve for lost dreams, for job changes, relationship changes. We even grieve for changes in life that we deem a good thing. Graduating is a great word as well as a great example of a change that holds both the long sought goal of finishing something, but also the sadness that it is over. Done.

As a therapist, I cannot emphasize more strongly that each gain carries with it, losses.

To complete these transitions successfully, I believe that it’s essential to acknowledge the loss as well as the gain. In fact societies have created what are often called “Rites Of Passage” to assist us through these complex transitions. Examples include birthdays, graduations, wedding ceremonies, and of course funerals. These Rites of Passage are usually a public event, and have the potential of using the strength of a community to assist us through the change.
Some transitions, though, seem more isolating – divorce, a miscarriage, cancer, a break-up. With no cultural “Rite of Passage” in place, it often feels like we are alone

Yet, with knowledge of the grief steps, we can at least name the stage we’re going through as a way to help us make sense of the tumultuousness of our experiences. For example, I was diagnosed with breast cancer twmonth ago. My first response was shock (denial) followed by sadness and tears (depression). I felt like everything was going to fall apart. I didn’t want this to be my reality (anger)… “no…no no no…”, but alas, reality said “ cancer.” My mind argued with the next steps (bargaining), being mastectomy. I argued with the entire medical field! I said, “why do people jump to mastectomy with out checking lymph nodes first!” As if I were an expert they forgot about.

The next day I woke up ok! Sort of happy even. (Acceptance). I joked with myself, husband and friends that, “ yay! My boobies were too big anyway! Now I get a makeover!” Ha Ha Ha. Not true acceptance, more like another layer of denial.

Sadness isn’t the only stage of grief

The Stages of Grief

  • Denial/shock
    Most people report an almost out-of-body response to traumatic losses (shock). They also report speaking in the present tense about someone who is gone (denial).
  • Bargaining – Bargaining is when we plead with our God to back- up so the truth of the loss can change. It can sound like, “take me instead…”, or, “what if I…” I always envision the Superman movie, where Superman is capable of going backwards and saving Louise Lane, despite the fact that she was killed.
  • Anger – The anger stage can be towards self, others, even God. “why me/ him/ her??“; “This isn’t fair/ not the way it’s supposed to go!”. It can also show up randomly, like being mad at society, the internet, the utility bill.
  • Depression – This describes the feeling of hopelessness after a loss. Questions like “can I go on”, “I don’t know how I can get through this”, or even, “I KNOW I can’t get through this “.
  • Acceptance – acceptance doesn’t mean everything is ok in your world regarding the loss, or that you are now happy. It’s an amazing acknowledgment that you CAN get through this, and somehow you WILL get through it.

These stages are not necessarily experienced in order. In fact, you can triple-cycle through all of them in a matter of minutes. The thing to know, however, is that whatever craziness you feel in this intense process will change. And if you accept the experience, you will flow from one stage to another, even if over and over, until your process is willing to let you go. We can’t force it though. Observe it for a bit of sanctuary.

Mindfulness And Day to Day Life

Worth reading from off the web!

Serenity
Serenity

When we hear about the importance of being in the present moment, the “now”, and hear that it is the only truth, newbies can feel quite inadequate!

This makes a great deal of sense to me. Oftentimes, I find myself distracted by thought about the future. Or, I replay past experiences in my mind, often unproductively.Being in the moment frees us to experience life more fully, which is a good thing. But might this edict have a shadow side? Like any rule or declaration, it has limitations and is prone to misunderstanding.

Discursive thinking — going around in circles with our thoughts — does not get us far. We often haphazardly stray from one thought to another; the chain of association may keep us spinning our wheels without gaining traction.

Self-critical thoughts are also common ways that we stray from the present moment. We may be operating from core beliefs that we’re not good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough. We may notice self-talk such as, “What’s wrong with me?” or “That comment was dumb,” or “When will I ever find a good relationship?”

Meditation and mindfulness practices may offers instructions to simply notice our thoughts. The practice of “mental noting,” perhaps saying quietly to ourselves, “thinking, thinking,” may guide our attention away from unhelpful thoughts and back to the breath, our body, and the present moment.

Rather than being plagued by self-critical thoughts, we might labor under a pall of shame — a sense of feeling defective or unworthy. Unhealed shame keeps us lost in a haze, preventing us from being present with people and life.

Honoring Our Thoughts and Feelings

Being distracted by our thoughts doesn’t mean they’re always unproductive. There may be times when we need to think something through — perhaps a business decision, retirement planning, or how to communicate our feelings and desires to our partner. Meditation teacher Jason Siff offers this refreshing take on meditation:

I see clinging to experiences and elaborating on them, or thinking about them, as being quite natural and nothing to be alarmed about. . . . I have heard many reports of meditation sittings where someone has written an article, composed a piece of music, planned an art project, or redecorated her house, and it was actually very productive and efficient to be doing this in meditation.

Sometimes we need to allow some spaciousness around our feelings so that they have a chance to settle. Rather than hurl an angry or blaming remark and thinking we are living in the moment, we benefit from reflecting on our deeper, truer feelings. There may be sadness, fear, or shame beneath our initial anger. Can we allow ourselves to be in the moment in a way where we allow our deeper feelings to emerge? Noticing and sharing our authentic feelings connects us with ourselves in a way that can connect more intimately with others.

Spiritually-inclined people often overlook the importance of being with feelings that are arising in the moment. If we think that being in the moment means regarding feelings as distractions, then we’re no longer in the moment. Trying to be somewhere we’re not takes us away from the moment. Mindfulness is the practice of being present with what is, not trying to be in a different moment.

For some people, the edict to be in the present moment may be a subtle way to avoid uncomfortable feelings. As soon as an unpleasant emotion arises, they may try to yank their attention back to their breath in an attempt to be in the moment. But then they never get to the root of their feelings, which will keep recurring.

Just as a hurting child will clamor for attention until heard, our feelings need attention. When welcomed and listened to in a gentle, caring way, they tend to pass. We are then freed to be in a new moment, now freed of the subtle pull of unattended and troubling emotions.

“Being in the moment” can be a helpful reminder if we understand it in a more expansive way. It can remind us to be more mindful of wherever we happen to be. When emotions, thoughts, or desires are arising within, we can notice them, be gentle with them, and allow them to be just as they are. We live with more inner peace as we make room for the full range of our human experience.

What do you think?🤔

5 Ways To Transform ANGER into Something Good

“And God said, “Love your enemy,” and I obeyed him and loved myself.”

~ Khalil Gibran

We all get angry from time to time. Even the most enlightened of us would be lying if they said they didn’t. Anger is often a natural response to horrific situations. For example: the on

ly moral response to innocent people getting bombed, whether by military action or terrorist action, is anger.

The question is this: is your anger controlling you (lizard brain), or are you controlling it (evolved mind)? Are you merely a puppet to the emotion of your anger, or are you able to turn the tables and become the puppeteer? Are you a victim of your emotions or a hero with emotional intelligence?

Most of us act the way we feel. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. We do have a choice. With enough discipline we can feel the way we act. For example: we can “feel” afraid but “act” courageously. Similarly, we can “feel” road rage but “act” calmly. With enough practice we can eventually feel the way we act, even in response to something as extreme as terrorism.

 Through such emotional alchemy, transforming anger into a higher emotion really is a choice. The key (as with the following five ways) is practice, discipline, and making emotional intelligence a habit. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

1) Transform anger into strength

“In almost every bad situation, there is the possibility of a transformation by which the undesirable may be changed into the desirable.” ~ Nyanaponika Thera

Anger can give you profound strength: in mind, body, and soul. It’s your responsibility to focus your anger enough to harness this strength. Focused anger becomes sacred anger. But this first requires honoring the anger for what it is, and for where it stems.

We too often suppress our anger, or avoid it, or pretend we’re not mad. But such suppression festers and all too often leads to a blowup farther down the road. In order to avoid such a blowup it behooves you to put your anger into focus. Put it under the microscope of your emotional intelligence. Analyze it. There is passion in anger. And where there is passion, there is love. And where there is love, there is strength.

So when it comes to anger, choose furious dancing over uncomfortable depression, or even comfortable suppression. Negotiate with your anger in order to transform the passion at its center into strength. Embrace it. Accept it. Wrestle with it, gently. Dance with the fire. Then waltz it into something worthwhile. If it burns you up, rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Life is too short to live it second-guessing your passion. Be fierce. Dance furiously despite the anger that seeks to burn you. There’s almost always strength hidden there. Like Deepak Chopra said, “The secrets of alchemy exist to transform mortals from a state of suffering and ignorance to a state of enlightenment and bliss.”

2) Transform anger into exercise

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ~ Mark Twain

That passion at the center of anger can also be transformed into powerful energy: Qi, Prana, Pneuma, Mana. Use it in the park, in the arena, in the field of play. Twain said anger is an acid? So be it. Transform that acid into fuel. Use that fuel for the fire of becoming a better version of yourself. Use it in your kung fu. Use it in the gym. Use it playing sports. Burn it out of you so that it doesn’t burn you out. Whatever you do, don’t keep the acid of your anger bottled up. You are a sacred vessel and acid erodes even sacred vessels. Put it in your vessel’s fuel tank instead, and then burn baby burn! Spar with it. Shadow-box it out. Better yet – shadow-box with your inner shadow. Now that is some meta-catharsis, right there.

3) Transform anger into art

Again, the key to alchemizing anger, is harnessing the passion at its center. This most definitely applies to transforming anger into art. Anybody who has ever read poetry by Sylvia Plath or writings by Friedrich Nietzsche can attest to that.

If you gaze upon Picasso’s Guernica and tell me he didn’t paint that with a focused rage against the ignorance of war. Or take Banksy’s political art charged with righteous anger against tyrannical oppression. Transforming anger into art is a kind of rage enlightenment: a self-actualized creativity discovered through the channeling of anger into a heightened state of awareness, where rage becomes a fire that cooks things rather than burns them. With just the right amount of focus, at just the right temperature, the passion at the center of anger can, and often does, get turned into some amazing art. And there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot do the same. Forget talent. Forget genius or giftedness or skill. So what if others can do it better? Nobody even has to see it.

Create art with all of your passion. Channel your deepest anger into art, and watch in amazement as it alchemizes into soulful poetry.
Like Nietzsche powerfully said,

“Of all writings I love only that which is written with blood. Write with blood: and you will discover that blood is spirit.”

4) Transform anger into civil disobedience

“Love does not imply pacifism.” ~ Derrick Jensen

Use your focused anger like a surgeon’s scalpel slicing open the Achilles Heel of the violent and immoral system that has been propped up over you without your consideration. Use your focused anger like Jesus flogging bankers in the New Testament. Jesus saw an immoral system unfolding before him, so he dug deep, tapped into his righteous anger, and practiced civil disobedience despite the orthodoxy of the time. There’s no reason why you cannot do the same. As Howard Zinn said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” Deep, focused anger can be a boon of sacred energy if we learn to use it wisely and courageously. This kind of sacred anger lifts us up and compels us to empower the powerless despite the powers that be, or to inspire the poor despite the overindulgences of the  rich. The type of focused anger that would rather live a life of uncomfortable freedom than a life of comfortable slavery. Such anger is sacred precisely because it instills in us an unstoppable courage. The kind of courage that declares to the overreaching powers that be, “I will not stand idly by while you decide who lives and who dies. I am unstoppable; another world is possible. And I will do everything in my power to build it, whether you approve of it or not.”

5) Transform anger into a good sense of humor

 The best way to achieve an emotional state flexible enough to be able to use anger as a transformative tool is to practice and to cultivate a good sense of humor. A good sense of humor flips all scripts. It transforms “the jokes on me” into “so what, it’s funny.” Powerful stuff.

In fact, a good sense of humor is so powerful that it is the only thing more powerful than power itself. I mean, a good sense of humor is immune to power constructs. It subsumes them. It transcends power precisely because it is able to laugh at power and not take things too seriously. A good sense of humor takes nothing too seriously, especially not power. And when the passion at the heart of anger is effectively transformed into a good sense of humor, the person cultivating it is truly a force to be reckoned with. No power in existence can stand in the way of a person with a good sense of humor. No authority. No king. No queen. No government. No army. No God. Not even death, because a good sense of humor laughs it all away.

It’s all water off a ducks back, and you’re the duck! Such sacred laughter puts all things into proper perspective. It’s all an illusion. It’s all a game. But, and here’s the rub, it’s a sacred illusion. It’s a sacred game. And you are the infinite player interdependently playing it all out. The cosmic joke becomes self-actualized. You’re no longer the butt-end, nor will you ever be again, for you have attained the almighty rank of The One Who Laughs.

Like Alan Watts said,

“Life is a matter of oscillation. Life is vibration. The question is:

How are you going to interpret that? Is it tremble, tremble, tremble;

Or is it laugh, laugh, laugh?”

Read more at: https://fractalenlightenment.com/36114/life/five-ways-to-use-your-anger-more-effectively | FractalEnlightenment.com

How To Strengthen Your Relationship


Worth Reading from Off the Web!     ~ excerpt from: https://blogs.psychcentral/Relationships

If you’re stuck in communication patterns where you can “predict” what one another will say or do, it likely means it’s time to stop and think with your frontal cortex.

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While it may be true that what your partner is doing is not working for you, its’ also true that you have 100% of the power to change your part in the drama.

To make this work, each partner must own their part. You are not a rock or an island. You’re interconnected.

But even if only one of you becomes more responsible and aware, the sooner you own your part, the sooner you can access your power to make optimal choices and create great outcomes. And if you put the habit of criticizing to rest for instance, the more likely you will “influence” your partner’s heart to do the same.

After all don’t you already:

“See” and “know” how ineffective it is when your partner uses blame-, shame; or says guilt-inducing comments; or gets stuck on making negative forecasts etc. See and know how unloving or unloved you “feel” inside when your partner seems to be competing for “who” is right, better, superior, etc.?

So then why would you use the same or similar tactics when you’re arguing, and expect a different response from your partner?

Ask yourself, do you really want the prize of “who’s more hurt, wronged, etc.” on your mantel? What would you gain if the whole world agreed that your partner is to blame or impossible to live with? If you continue to stay on a track that builds a case against your partner, would this finally lead them to give you the love and value you yearn to realize in the relationship? Likely not.

Keep in mind that like your heart, the key that opens your partner’s heart is feeling loved, valued, appreciated.

You’re both wired to keep reaching to feel good about yourself and life (i.e., happiness, joy), and often lack healthy
ways to feel good in moments of stress and boredom. But our body-mind will subconsciously opt for old tried-and-true “feel-good” options, which are often a waste of time and energy at best, if not harmful and destructive.

In a sense, you become your thoughts.
So, is it a good idea to become consciously aware of your thoughts? To not do so is like sitting on a million dollars rather than investing.

The good news is that it’s never too late to change negative patterns.

If you do not own your happiness, seek to actively grow, to learn what works and what does not (wisdom), to take action accordingly, then you risk approaching your partner with discouraging tactics of criticism, blame, doubts, etc., that trigger their deepest fears and doubts. It’s as if you are not there.

If you allow your thoughts or self-talk to keep you worrying about the future or wallowing about past failures or regrets, you cannot be in the present moment as an observer of your self and your relationships.

If you don’t know what your partner wants and their reasons, you are at risk of making energy-deflating assumptions or treating your partner as an extension of your self. It’s as if you are not there.

If you do not take actions to consciously support you and your partner to realize what you want, you are at risk of getting stuck in fear-based patterns that activate old emotion-command circuitry in your brain (so old, it takes you back to patterns formed when you were 3 or 5 years old!). Again, it is as if you’re not there.

There are partnerships that work okay if ‘Potential’ isn’t a goal for you. But if you see primary, loving relationships as a necessary role in reaching your full potential, as I believe, you need to learn how to be the best advocate for yourself and your loved ones.

Realizing your potential as individuals and as a couple is less about an “outcome” and more about an intention to live life fully: to learn; to grow in wisdom and understanding; to realize the amazing built-in capabilities you have to stretch your capacity and compassion for yourself and your partner.

What does that mean exactly and what is true potential? One thing your potential isn’t is a fixed, static outcome written in stone. Flexibility is a characteristic of creative energy (power); whereas inflexibility is characteristic of destructive power.

Potential can be described as a growing desire to bring into your life and relationship more love, more authenticity, more integrity, more acceptance, more humility, more gratitude, more sense of wellbeing.
This is living with the intention for you and your partner to love one another by living in a way to keep reaching for your highest, true potential as individuals and partners.

Ultimately realizing your potential involves cultivating your ability to do the “right” thing, and keep doing the right thing , especially when you do not “feel” like doing so, builds character, strength, courage and also deepens and matures your capacity to love your self, partner and life in a compassionate, wise-and-understanding way.

To do the right thing is to take action accordingly, meaning that it stems from wanting to do so out of emotions Of love, joy, caring, thoughtfulness, kindness, instead of emotions of fear, guilt, and shame.

One of the most powerful (and least accessed in relationships) kinds of action is to make clear, action-inspiring requests.

In couple relationships, this often comes “easy” for one partner, and not so easy for the other. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It seems to be nature’s plan to bring together polar opposites on this (and other) dimensions. Nature seems to be interested in your growth, progress, transformation, and loves to challenge you.

Your couple relationship is a top-notch school, you may say, and the curriculum seems custom designed for both of you to stretch or change or modify your approach in the direction of the other.

For example:

  • For the partner who “easily” makes requests, it may mean they need to tone down the intensity with which they make requests so they sound less like demands, ultimatums to the other.
  • For the partner who responds with “I don’t know” when asked what they want, it may mean they need to stop talking themselves out of connecting to what they really want or making requests (to avoid upsetting the other).
  • For both partners, it likely means you need to learn to “reimage” the other in your mind, so you “see” and treat the other as loving and loved, valued and appreciated (as you did when you first met!). This is an infinitely more powerful and effective way to restore your relationship –  better than criticism, reactive negativity and the like.

To create the life experiences that meet your deepest yearnings means you must develop the ability to ask for what you want, and to listen to understand your partner’s wants as well.

Set an intention to become more and more aware of how you choose to use your power in present moments:

  • to know and understand what you and your partner want and why
  • take action to make life consciously more wonderful for one another This also frees you both to access life-shaping, miracle-making energies inside.

Therapy is a great avenue to get the right tools for a more richly rewarding relationship. For a referral ask friends, Doctors, or check with your insurance company.