We sometimes meet people who are very uncomfortable with their life. Something is going wrong, and they are frustrated and unhappy. As a counselor, this is particularly hard when I encounter a couple and one person just wishes that the situation were different.
This is very human and very common. When most of us don’t like something, we do things to change what we are experiencing. This is a habit most of us have just by growing up and taking care of our lives.
But when there is no way to change a situation, what do you do? It’s like trying to move a brick wall. How hard is that? Impossible.
Many of us try to get rid of some thoughts and focus on others—perhaps more positive ones. And if you have tried this then you know how very hard this can be. All of us have wished our minds would just let go of some of the things it thinks about.
But how many of us are truly successful at it? We can’t do it by force. But lately I have noticed something quite remarkable. Here is how it happened. My husband has been cutting carbs to reduce weight. He has become very devoted to this new way of eating.
I have seen him withhold foods before, but there is something different about this time. He is very focused and dedicated. So when my workout trainer who also knows my husband said to me, “Your husband is really talking more.” The following memory arrived.
All of us grow up with some sort of inner guidance. When things don’t work out well we often tell ourselves something so we remember to do whatever it was better in the future. This is essential to growing up.
But some of us don’t just do this with encouragement, we do it with hard punches. Think about how you talk to yourself when you make a mistake. What do you say? Before I became aware of how I treated myself I probably said things like, “Oh how stupid!” or “How could you have done that.” And even “I hate you.”
Some of us don’t even bother with saying stuff, we just go right to a really awful feeling about ourselves. This feeling can just inhabit our body and mind and stay with us for a long time.
All of us have a young part that never grows up. In psychological terms it is called the “id”. It’s the part of our experience being human that remains a seven year old and always wants ice cream. You know that authentic joyful part that screams for happiness without hesitation.
We all have it, but many of us have put this organic, beautiful, spontaneous part away so we can be the adult that we must be for our life. Now, this is important too. We can’t be a kid all the time and I am sure many of us know people who are still children even at older ages.
Any one of us who has lost someone special due to death, knows this terrible pain. It is in most circumstances unbearable because we haven’t felt anything like it ever before and it drops us to our knees.
I know when my brother died suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I know I didn’t want to breathe. I was just in such turmoil I couldn’t tell which end was up. I am wondering if you have felt this way too?
I think all of us have some sort of expectation when we do something nice for another. I think it’s pretty human for us to expect to feel something good when someone receives what we have given them. But I had an insight recently that challenged that notion.
I was thinking about a couple of times when I made an effort to be gracious to another, yet after the exchange I felt empty. I realized that I was waiting for a great response and since I didn’t get it, the experience was lacking. That’s when the insight kicked in. And I thought, the giving is the gift.
I was at an event recently and ran into two adult men who attend a self-improvement class I teach weekly. These middle-aged men were recently released from prison and are finding their way in an organization, called Homeboys, where ex-gang members get to start over.
The event was for the volunteers at Homeboys, of which I am one. So, seeing my two students made me feel right at home…
I was listening to a friend talk about his parents recently. Both suffered enormous hardships in World War II. They found each other after all of their individual suffering, bonded as a couple, married, then came to the United States, and had a family.
My friend is their child. His parents had very difficult circumstances, losing all their family members. They suffered unimaginable trauma. So, when they raised my friend and his sister, they were very firm about a few things. One: that God did not exist. If God existed they believed, then the terrible things that happened to them would not have happened.
My friend grew up atheist and untrusting, taught to him by his parents who could not see another way. But my friend said he hungered for something more. He needed to find a way for his own soul to flourish, not stay in the world of his parents.
All of us feel like leaving when we get mad. It’s just something that happens to us when we are in relationships with others. We get our feelings hurt and we have to get away as soon as possible. We can’t help it. Getting away is just the quickest way to end our suffering, or is it?
I know the times I have grabbed my dog and headed out the door to get some relief from an argument I had with my boyfriend I was just protecting myself from further pain. I had to go. I had to go cool off and figure out what just happened.
The other night while my husband and I were having dinner I grew very enthusiastic about something he said. I wanted to enhance my enthusiasm and extend it, so I asked him to call the person who made the remark that I got me so excited.
He said in a very loud and firm voice, “No, I am not going to call him.” I was stunned. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t be swept up in my excitement and play along. I argued with him, urging him to commit, “Come on, just call him. It will be fun.”
He dug in his heels and said louder and even more firm, ‘NO. If you want to talk to him, you call him.”