My Therapist Called Me a Weed

L. Chris Cannida, LPC

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published by L. Chris Cannida, MS, LPC – April 6, 2016

April is the Month of the Military Child.  The dandelion is the official flower of military children – representing their resilience in the midst of constant change and uncertainty.  In honor of the smallest, and strongest members of our military community, I am reposting this one.  Honored to have been compared to such a phenomenal group of people – military children.  

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely” – C.G. Jung

My therapist asked me once if I considered myself a dandelion or an orchid. She went on to say she believed I was, of course, a dandelion.

My own therapist had dubbed me a weed.

She was brilliant at leaving me in the space of ambiguity, allowing me to resolve for myself exactly what she’d meant.  I was familiar with the metaphor and it was…

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Mindfulness – Hoax or Help?

 

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by L. Chris Cannida, LPC – January 27, 2016

Recently, I ran across an article that defined mindfulness simply as the exercise of paying attention to deliberate and slow breathing.   The article went on to dismiss mindfulness, given this minimized definition, as nothing more than a trend in the field of behavioral health. While diaphragmatic, or belly breathing, can be a result of or conduit to mindfulness, this definition did little to fully educate on the benefits of true mindfulness as an exercise in healthy living. Unfortunately, if this perception takes hold with the general public, we have stripped from them a wealth of information that can lead to life-changing benefits.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, describes mindfulness as a means of paying attention in a particular way, with purpose and without judgment.

Experts in the field of neuroscience have spent years studying the health benefits from the art (and science) of true mindfulness practice. Turns out, mindfulness involves a wide variety of mental and physiological exercises that positively affect not only our physical being, but also our social interactions, as well as improving our moods and cognitive function. There is now research being done on how teaching mindfulness exercises to students in school classrooms can enhance opportunities for learning.

Some benefits of mindfulness practice include:

  1. Increased mental focus and flexibility
  2. Improved working or short-term memory
  3. Strengthened immune system
  4. Decreased anxiety and depressed mood
  5. Physiological stress-reduction
  6. Psychological resilience
  7. Increases in relationship satisfaction

While I teach the aforementioned breathing techniques to nearly all of my clients as part of a strength-based, wellness portion to their psychotherapy, we also spend time learning many of the other exercises borrowed from the world of mindfulness practice. In doing so, we help them separate from painful ruminations that serve no positive purpose in their healing, empower them to manage their bodies and minds toward a stronger sense of self, and strengthen their physical selves in order to combat continued life stresses.

In recent years, I’ve even witnessed mindfulness practices being helpful to service members battling combat-fatigue and post-war/reintegration struggles. The simple exercise of learning more about how their body and brain interact toward creating a healthier and whole self gave them valuable tools in moving forward toward recovery from the most challenging of issues.

I encourage anyone reading this piece to explore the many ways mindfulness can bring benefit to your life. There is no shortage of legitimate, evidence-based information on the subject from which to draw. To help you get started on a daily dose of mindfulness in living, check out the following resources:

http://www.rickhanson.net

http://www.mindfullivingprograms.com

 

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The Mindfulness Tree

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written by chris cannida, 2015

According to a popular personality assessment, I possess a trait that causes me to nearly insist everything has meaning. Whether buying décor for my home, giving a gift, or writing a poem – without meaning as valued by me, what’s the point? Annoys me sometimes. Other times, it enriches my thought life and keeps me grounded. Years ago, I decided to use it for keeping my Christmas season meaningful, so I began mindfully decorating my tree. I wanted to remind myself of the story of sacrifice and gifting God presented by allowing his Spirit to be born in the form of a Son on earth – a way to offer atonement for our sinful nature.   Each year, as I unwrap the ornaments one by one, I keep my mind focused on how grand the love must be for a father to give his only child to undeserving others as a gesture of that love. I can only aspire to give so graciously. My own son tucked in the cleft of my maternal instinct, offering forgiveness and generosity is my next hope to model God’s perfection. I’ll never reach that level, so humbly I accept forgiveness for my failings and I take the opportunity to honor the gift of Christmas as I don my tree with remembrance.

Welcome to my mindfulness tree –

~ The red apples are hung first as I try to be courageous in addressing my own sinful nature over the years. Recalling the many times I accepted the apples of fear and shame in my own garden, I am thankful for God’s mercy.

~ Next come the red bows symbolizing the gift of that mercy, handed to me graciously, and at risk as God knew I might reject it on many occasion with my faithlessness and doubt. He gave it anyway.

~ The gold and red bulbs are hung, sometimes with me bearing shame all over again knowing the offerings in frankincense and myrrh that is my life’s work and purpose are humble, not nearly enough in return.

~ Tiny jingle bells come next, representing the commission to tell the news in word and action of how God loves us without condition, perhaps aching for us to know. If only we took the opportunity to remind each other throughout the year – “You do matter”.

~ Next, there are ornaments in the shape of musical instruments. These are most precious as I’ve collected them over the years, much as I’ve collected the gift of songs in my heart. When I was 12 years old, sitting on the picnic table in my family’s backyard, I believe God spoke especially to me when He said, “And I want you to sing. I’m giving you the music as a special gift. A way for you to talk with me anytime you need”.There were years where others tried to silence the music altogether, though just as I’ve been able to protect the ornaments shaped like harps and horns, God helped me protect the gifts He gave me.  Funny thing is, most of the years, this singer is silent as she dons the tree. Sometimes the most powerful moment is the breath between notes as the singer listens for the timing and tone God intends for her life.

~ Lastly come the ornaments collected over the years, each personalized with my own son’s name.  God saw fit to give His son, then gave me a son. I believe God has asked little in return.  And every single day of the year, I marvel at this most precious gifting, my child.  You see, I lost two birth children, one late in term and one a bit earlier.  I grieved a mother’s grief, though God saw fit to allow that despair for only a brief time before He graced me with something more precious than even the music.  My son is the joy of my days.  How could I not celebrate that as the best Christmas gift of all?

~ The star?  It goes without saying, doesn’t it?

Humanity has a way of stripping meaning if we let it, perhaps inadvertent. Though we must be mindful and purposeful in protecting the meaning of this seasonal celebration. So, it is my intent as I decorate my home for the birthday celebration.  Christmas may be when we wrap the present with our manmade ceremonies in traditional red and green. Easter is when we celebrate the death and rising, to usher in the unfolding of the gift.

Whether during the Christmas season, or any other time of year, I wish for you grounding in meaningful and mindful living.

Merry Christmas ~

Chris

 

 

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When Grief and Celebration Collide

This week is the celebration of Christmas for many in the world.  It’s also a week that, for some we call Gold Star families, will be cloaked in grief and loss.  Six American soldiers were killed by suicide bomb in Afghanistan this week. Christmas, 2015.  As I consider the magnitude of loss for them this time of year, I recall the first year my own grief and celebration collided.  Christmas, 2013. The first Christmas of my life without mom on earth.

She passed away on the first day of Spring that year. Oddly, I’m glad it was a day easily marked by the calendar. I didn’t want to forget the last time she was physically near. It’s a strange feeling – wanting to remember when your parent died. And yet, I quietly did the same when my father passed away. He died the day after my nephew’s birthday.  First day of Spring, a birthday, Christmas.  What do we do when grief collides with celebration?  Perhaps resilience is built on the ability to reconcile the two.

Knowing that we can remain resilient and grow in the midst of such a pain as grief is one of the ways we cope.

Being able to say to oneself, “I did it. I survived this.”, can be a remarkable comfort in times of seemingly insurmountable strife. For me, it is vital to have a mental stronghold to break my fall when I find myself grappling with painful emotion. Because of my work as a psychotherapist, I am constantly compartmentalizing my own hurts so I can keep my clients’ needs in the forefront. And the side effect of that is what knocks me off-balance at times. My own humanity will not allow comfortable denial of such a significant part of me – being on earth without my parents. But, the constant suppression of such sorrow in the midst of everyday living becomes difficult. So, my pain eventually finds its way to the surface, ofttimes at the strangest, most unexpected moments.

That’s what happened the December after my mother died when I walked into the seasonal Hickory Farms store and smelled the aroma of smoked sausage and cheese.  That day, my grief and my celebration collided.  I found myself quickly scurrying from the store. Several weeks earlier, my son had mentioned that he missed getting his treat package full of sausage and cheese from Nana this year. He’d known the joy of that gift for the past 18 years. Until that year, 2013. His words were the first tug at the hem of my pain and so when I entered the store it was only a matter of seconds before my grief, which I thought was safely packed away inside my soul – where I keep all things painful – would emerge to grip me unmercifully. The salesperson, thankfully, was not one to follow me through every square inch of my stroll through the store. This allowed me a private moment to notice what was swelling inside me. And when my eyes began to sting with tears, I swiftly made my way out the door. Gratefully, I am able to normalize these moments for myself. So I embraced the sweet awareness that being nudged closer to memories of my mom is a blessing. My moment of sorrow turned into a peaceful presence. It felt as though she was right there with me, teasing me a bit for being so silly. Then, gently reminding me that over the years she’d missed her parents, too. I can hear her now, in her southern drawl, “I miss my mama and daddy everyday. You’re supposed to miss your parents.” My mother was the first person in my life to teach me that being tolerant of feelings was a normal part of growing, and in that, growth is lifelong.

Today, I realize that perhaps it’s more about me and my growth than the fact that my parents are gone. Maybe I’m wanting to mark days of my life that forever change me – days that I believe are meant to help me grow and more surely know my purpose on this earth. It’s like that old practice of taking a pencil to mark the height of your child against a door frame – so that over the years the milestones can be noted. Maybe the point of enduring the stresses of life is to see and celebrate the growth. Perhaps someone in our lives is watching and searching for a clue of how to get through tougher times. We are a concrete being. We need proof that all is eventually okay – that we are going to be okay. We need to know that our presence here is noted as important and that those steps we take to survive are not taken in vain.

I’m not really confident I know my importance here in this life. And let’s face it, without our parents here to validate us, that knowing is sometimes even more out of reach. I do know I want to pass on to my own child the keys to finding his purpose. I want him to embrace grief and quickly turn it into moments of warm memories that nudge him into a more peaceful presence, without being burdened by sadness and sorrow. I want him to know that regardless of what he feels in any given moment, those moments are a bridge to better times in which he will feel stronger and sure that he will see better days. I want him to feel validated and recognize his own strength.

Someday I’ll be sending my son and his family Christmas gift packages of sausage and cheese. Until then, I hope I’m able to teach him about turning sorrow into peace. And that with or without me and his dad around for validation, he is significant and needed on this earth. I want him to use his faith in God, embedded in his soul by the reflection of his worth he finds when he sees my face – his mother. That’s a lofty task – to assure a child of their worth. It’s a life’s work. My mom certainly did a good job of it. Her children were the center of her purpose. I’m daunted by the thought of being for my son what she was for me.  I look forward to celebrating his launch into life while making a safe space for my grief to breathe.  Each year since her passing, I just close my eyes and remember getting that package from mom each holiday season. Smoked sausage and cheese – and the steadfast love of my mother. Dear Mom, wish you were here. Grateful for all the times you were.

As I reflect on the bittersweet mixture of grief and celebration, I wish for those whose grief has the sting of newness a peace and strength to remain resilient. Whether Gold Star families or others, remain encouraged that your grief is also a celebration of the love you held for another.

If your grief has collided with holiday celebrations this year, please consider reaching out for support –

www.griefshare.org

www.griefnet.org (Grace Happens)

www.veterancrisisline.net or 1-800-273-8255

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255

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Losing Shame for Christmas

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written by chris cannida, 2015

The appointment book for my private practice is starting to fill up – for one reason.  The holiday season begins.  Triggered for many are painful memories and unfulfilled wishes for bonding and companionship.  When I went to the search engine and typed “coping with the holidays” the number of hits that surfaced was 315,000,000.  Over 300 million hits for coping.  There is no shortage of information written about coping with the holiday season.  That’s because there’s no shortage of people feeling extra stress this time of year.  Yet many people will cower in the darkness of an emotional corner before reaching out for support.

This highlights one of the primary stresses we face – feeling isolated.

No one is actually so alone in feeling depressed, angry, and generally stressed during this time of year.  Yet, because there is stigma attached to having these feelings, the canvas of our emotions is painted with a large coat of shame.  Shame is isolating.  The messages we receive from the media or well-intentioned friends, can add to that shame by making us feel less than because we aren’t filled with joy and holiday spirit. It causes us to ask “What’s wrong with me?”  If life has unfolded into us having no family or friends to offer words of encouragement, that loneliness compounds our belief that we are inherently bad.

So, the first step in coping is to battle against the idea that no one else would understand how you feel.  It’s not true.  Brene’ Brown reminds us that shame cannot survive empathy.  Disclosure can decrease shame.  You are definitely not alone.  Even making the simple comment “this time of year is always a bit rough for me” may bring words of empathy from others.

Although the following list of other ways to cope with holiday stress is not extensive, it includes tips that people have reported to me as helpful.  I use most of them myself, whether during the holidays or year-round.  I’m hoping you find them useful.  And I wish you a shame-free holiday.

* Talk to someone.  It helps.  The “chemistry” of our emotions must finish itself once started, and somehow find release.  We are chemical beings and there are specific chemical reactions that occur in the creation of our thoughts and emotions.  Once we begin a chain of thoughts that then lead to negative emotions, that chain reaction will run its course to an end.  How you cope along the way does determine 1) if the chain will be long and seemingly unending, and 2) if the end of that chain is devastating and destructive or if, somehow, a light for hope and new beginnings exists.  Who you talk to can make a difference.  If you find yourself with no one earning your trust right now, choose a professional, like a counselor.  If you’re employed and have health insurance, see if your plan offers employee assistance programs where some of your counseling sessions would be free. If money is an issue in seeking professional support, perhaps you can find a church and talk to a clergyman.  Pastors, preachers, priests, and chaplains – they’ll listen.  Some are quite gifted in caring for the human spirit.  If the idea of donning a church step doesn’t fit you, there may be a hospital in your area offering support groups or classes this time of year.

Most importantly, if your shame has convinced you that you’re not worth the moments it takes someone to care for you, freeze right now, while reading this, yell STOP and read these next words with the intent to believe them – it’s just not true

Even if the dark cloud of shame has covered up any self-worth, let someone help you clear the sky of your thoughts so you can realize your worth.

* Do something. Anything, really. I’ve discovered that when I feel a lack of worth or purpose, my purpose can be found in doing even the smallest act. Like now, writing this blog and trying to help someone with my own experience. Even if I never know it’s actually helped, for the minutes it takes to write it down, I’m lifted out of a darker state of mind. Volunteering in the community, calling to check on a friend – anything to lift yourself out of these moments that weigh you down.  Even if the “something” that you do is just for yourself (cleaning that long-neglected closet, reading a book), that behavior can change the course of your entire day.

Sometimes our purpose is to be there for ourselves.

It may be hard to believe, but there are times when our most important worth is in saving ourselves. Try not to get caught up in wondering the why of it all.  Just be, do, and survive.

* Taking a walk –  My own teenage son told me once that he’d discovered how relaxing a long walk can be.  He puts on his headphones, walks several miles, and says he can just tune out his stresses by listening to music.  Even if remedies or solutions to your stress cannot be easily solved, walking is a way to manage that chemistry churning inside you while you carry the stress over a period of time.  Bundle up if it’s cold outside, or hit the local mall and just walk, walk, walk.  Slow or fast, doesn’t matter.  Think, or don’t think.  There is scientific evidence that walking, or any type of exercise, can improve our overall health.

* Random acts of kindness can do amazing things for the human spirit.  It doesn’t have to involve money or even lots of time.  If the person working the drive-through window at your local coffee shop has a gentle or uplifting tone of voice or pleasant demeanor – absorb that – pay attention to how their own efforts at pleasantness can ease your angst even just a bit and thaw out your frozen soul for that brief moment.  And then mention that to them.  I periodically offer a heartfelt “thank you” to a clerk in the store if I’m having a rough day – just a simple ‘thank you’ for being kind.  It reminds me that it’s possible to find and feel goodness in the midst of all the badness, or madness in the world.

* Prayer – Not your thing?  Then, skip this part and move on.  But, if it is something you’ve considered in the past, consider it now.  Not sure how to pray?  Not a worry.  It’s easy.  Go on that long walk I suggested (or sit comfortably somewhere) – and just quietly talk to God, your Higher Power, that Being to whom you would choose to pray.  Ask questions, scream, cry, shake your fist, tell a joke, or even just silently pay attention to your own heartbeat or the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.   The power of prayer (or some call it meditation or mindfulness) is in its intention.  If it’s your intention to calm yourself by turning inward (or ‘upward’ to a deity), it can have the same beneficial effect.

The kind of stress we feel deep inside, the kind that attacks our sense of well-being, can be temporary and eventually managed with success.  If you find yourself angry or even slightly irritated, rather than hopeful, at the idea that you can feel better, this sensation alone can be a sign that it’s time to reach out and ask for support.  Until then, it’s okay, even necessary, to practice self-compassion – not only during the holiday season, but all year long.

Give yourself the gift of self-compassion and lose your shame for Christmas this year.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net 

This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for scheduled, face-to-face medical treatment.  If you are experiencing thoughts that may create a medical emergency, please seek help from your physician or contact your local emergency room.

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On Resilience

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by L. Chris Cannida, June 7, 2015 –

Resilience. What does it look like? What does it feel like? There are few words to describe the day I witnessed resilience in a most profound way. Whenever I consider the capacity to withstand hardship I recall a young soldier and the moment I’m convinced was my special invitation to a divinely created introduction to what being resilient really means.

While providing counseling on an army post I was asked to offer support to the unit holding wounded warriors that were stationed there.  I wasn’t sure how I might serve a group of people who had survived hardships most of us will never see.  I’m not frequently intimidated by my work, but on this occasion I approached the task with great uncertainty. What could I possibly offer men and women who were writing new chapters on remaining strong in the face of life’s adversity? I chose to use the best guidance I’d ever received on being a psychotherapist. Just listen.

I decided to attend what the Army calls a “Town Hall” meeting, where service members and their families voice concerns and pose questions toward improving the quality of their ofttimes burdensome lives.  For a wounded warrior unit, the answers to the questions and the intensity of the concerns warrant a mindful ear. The auditorium held several hundred people that day, many of them broken to what seemed a point of no repair.  Most of them were suspended in that awkward space where they remained recognized as soldiers while no longer able to do all that soldiers do.

Amidst brain injury, post-traumatic stress, and lost limbs were these warriors trying to grasp a “new normal” while withstanding significant loss of self.

That day is when I met a colonel who turned out to be as flexible and compassionate in his commanding role as he was harsh and undaunted in times of war.  I’d heard he was quite hardened by multiple deployments, so my curiosity piqued as I readied to observe him lead this most tender mission.  The result of the town hall meeting was the suggestion to conduct a series of smaller group processes, whereby soldiers could be heard by their leader on a more intimate level.  He invited me to attend and admitted I would be there just as much for him as for his soldiers.

That’s when I met Sgt. Elkins*.  Sgt. Elkins had suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him void of fluid muscle movement defined by constant tremors, with significantly slurred speech, and a lifetime of never being the same.  He had suffered the harshest of yesterdays and the most uncertain of tomorrows.  The Commander clearly braced himself for a cacophony of complaints about delayed healthcare appointments and frustration over an arduous process of medical discharge from the service.  He was taken aback at what happened instead.  With Sgt. Elkins’ injuries the most visible and debilitating, it was noticeable when he led the pack in manifesting a determination to find dignity and joy in each moment.  The discomfort fueled by the Colonel’s survivor’s guilt was palpable.  I wondered if my own shame of being, at times, unable to graciously overcome adversity might be visible to the round-table of warriors before me.

To ease our pain, Sgt. Elkins began trying to lighten the mood.  He even used his own condition as the source of jest in an effort to maintain positive energy and perspective.  Each comment followed by the most charming boyish laughter.  I glanced over at the Colonel only to see him caught between not knowing how to respond and lifting his jaw that had dropped as he watched this young man use a pleasurable irreverence to remind himself and all in view of who he was underneath the physical trauma.

The Commander made eye contact with me, the question mark on his face begging an explanation for what he witnessed.  The tears streaming down his face were a blessed mixture of humility and amazement.  I gave him the only explanation I knew.

“Resilience, Sir.  That’s resilience”.  

Several weeks later, I saw the Colonel at a unit picnic.  He shocked me by running up and throwing his arms out for a hug, gleefully reunited with me by our shared memory of Sgt. Elkins.

I’ll never forget Sgt. Elkins.  I’ll never forget the beauty of watching the Colonel meet resilience face-to-face.  To see it, hear it, absorb it, and be forever changed by a soldier who could no longer even raise his arm to salute.

*Sgt. Elkins – Not the actual name of the soldier in this writing.  That is respectfully protected by changing rank, name, and any other identifying information.

To learn more about developing resilience, I recommend the following resources:

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Begin Again with the Gift of Resilience

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written by L. Chris Cannida, LPC – January 1, 2015

Every soul can have its own Springtime. Everyone can begin again.

The dead of winter has set in where I live.  While I appreciate the seasons, the seemingly endless dark clouds, wintry weather on the roads, and shortened days, can leave me feeling a bit down.  It’s helpful when I shift my thoughts to the idea that Spring is coming. If I can just hold on, I will reap the benefits of earth’s promise to change seasons.   While the length of winter varies, sometimes stretching longer than I like, Mother Earth does keep her promise.  We would all do well in keeping promises to ourselves just as the earth does to its land.  Everyone needs a reminder that we can change the season of our mind by choosing to begin again.   And since our mind and soul are co-hosts to our growth, nurturing one brings new life to the other.  How?  We start by changing our thought-life.

Our mind and soul are co-hosts to our growth.

Do you know how many times I’ve broken promises to myself?  Too many to count. Promises to be a better person.  Promises to let go of painful memories.  Promises to set and reach many goals.  I’ve broken every one of them.  Repeatedly.

That also means I’ve started over the same amount of times.  Starting over and renewing promises to my self requires much self-forgiveness and compassion.  It also requires determination and an honesty about my character flaws, my needs, and the ability to communicate with myself in a way that provides just enough admonition without condemnation.

Recently, a young pastor in my church spoke about the effect of condemnation.  He called it a “silent assassin”, adding that “condemnation destroys the initiative of the heart”.

“Condemnation destroys the initiative of the heart”. – D’aundre Johnson*

That statement stuck with me. I started thinking about the times I’ve wanted to start something new – initiate a career move, start a personal or professional project, fulfill a promise for self-improvement in some way.  When new ideas first come to me, my mind is filled with visions for how I want it all to work out. That sparks a visceral excitement in me.  And there is such a hope (some might call it a faith) that everything will work out greatly.  There have been times when everything did turn out well.  Other times my hopes ended up as faint memories.  I can tell you exactly what uproots my plans – self-talk.    Nothing will destroy hope faster than defamation of our worth. And trust me, self-defamation is more damaging than all the negative words spoken about us by any number of other people.  Self-imposed heartbreak can make us believe we’re stuck in a ‘dead of winter’ that will never end.  While winter as a season has its place, an emotional winter can be devastating to our sense of worth.

Draining the initiative and the hope from our hearts leaves us feeling broken.

Heartbreak from self-condemnation is a difficult mend.  Especially when the very mind we need to change it is exactly the part of us under attack by our own thoughts.  That’s why I am ever-grateful for learning the art and science of beginning again.  Beginning again requires resilience.  Resilience is grounded in scientific elements, both psychological and physiological.  It can be purposefully developed and strengthened.

Resilience is my soul’s springtime.  And while that sounds rather trite, I believe it to be true.  Life’s stresses can bring fatigue and a sense of hopelessness at times.  Resilience is the anecdote that can bring us back to life.  And though some elements of resilience exist outside us (social support, circumstances), most of the seeds that need planting are inside  our own minds!

My encouragement to you now is to explore any self-defamation or condemnation you might be allowing to drain the initiative from your self.  If you discover that you continually make negative statements about your own worth, whether by reviewing past mistakes or less-than-healthy intentions in living, or allowing the negative words of others to become the lyrics you live by each day, stop now.  Explore the possibility of forgiving yourself for whatever perceived (or real) shortcomings you may hold.  Consider that on any given day, you’ve perhaps done the best you could.  Then, make a commitment to seek out ways to do better for yourself.

If self-forgiveness (which is really just flushing the experience of shame from inside you) is difficult, there are a number of ways to gently begin.  You can seek help from someone like me, a psychotherapist trained in navigating the mindful steps of healing the soul.  Or perhaps you could risk trusting a minister, a chaplain if you’re in the military, or a friend.   Maybe you’d feel more comfortable beginning the process privately.  It does require allowing emotional vulnerability.  In that case, there are books on the topic that might be helpful.  If you have a faith-base that has brought comfort in the past, recommit to prayer or meditation.  Whatever course you choose, keep the promise of beginning.  Go now – find a mirror – make eye contact with yourself and mark this decision.  Plant the seeds to begin again.  Don’t wait for Mother Earth to change seasons all around you.  Change the season in your mind right now.

Invite a renewal of your thought-life.  Shift from condemnation to encouragement, determination, and positive intention.  Feel free to consider some of those books I mentioned, listed below.   Soon, I’ll talk a bit more about resilience and how you can strengthen yours.  For now, enjoy the coming of Spring.

Recommended books:

 I Thought It Was Just Me, Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame, Brene Brown (I recommend this book for men, as well, since shame can affect us all)

Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioral ApproachMichael Neenan

Just One Thing, Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Shame: The Power of Caring, by Gershen Kaufman

Where Is God When It Hurts? A Comforting, Healing Guide for Coping with Hard Times, by Philip Yancey

* A special thank-you to D’aundre Johnson of Presence Theater Church in Owasso, OK for graciously granting permission to use his concept and words in this piece.

Posted in Counseling, Counseling and Mental Health, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Resilience, Self Help, Self-Acceptance | 2 Comments