3 Essential Feelings for Our Well-Being: Post 3

In our third and final post on this topic, we explore the feeling of joy as an essential feeling for our well-being.

We often strive to “be happy.” But happiness in this context can mean many different things; for some it comes in achievements or financial success. For others, it might be found in spending time with loved ones, being out in nature, playing sports. For some, happiness comes in moments, for others, it is an underlying feeling. Happiness is often a mix of both internal and external influences.

Joy is distinguished from happiness as it tends to be linked more to our internal process. When we feel joy, it comes with a sense of peace. Joy grounds us, it warms our insides, it reminds us of our blessings. When we feel joyful, we feel soulful and connected. In therapy we learn that happiness can be too big of a word, instead, let us strive for contentment. Once we begin to feel more content, we have opened up room for joy.

A solid well-being relies on feeling grounded; in control of the overall areas of our lives. The feelings of security, love and joy help to keep our well-being intact, providing protection from the storm. We are best served to strive to focus on creating relationships and experiences that create and maintain those feelings in our daily lives. Our well-being will thank us 🙂

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

Photo credit: http://Photo by Alex Alvarez on Unsplash


3 Essential Feelings for Our Well-Being; Post 2

Yesterday we looked at the importance of the feeling of security for our sense of well-being; today we look at the feeling of love. Love comes in many forms – the love we have for our children, our spouse, for our friends and family. Romantic love, committed love, the love we have for our pets, for our departed loved ones. We can often feel love as almost a swelling of our heart.

The essence of love; however, is dedication. When we purposefully and intentionally commit ourselves to another person, we are letting them know that they are part of our inner circle. We support the feeling of love with acts of kindness, with appreciation, with thoughtful intentions and a willingness to help.

To love is just as important as to be loved; to know intuitively that “I can count on you” feeds our sense of security and our overall sense of worth and well being.

As Lao Tzu so wisely reminds us:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

Photo credit: http://Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

3 Essential Feelings for Our Well-Being: Post 1

There are three feelings, that when present, help to build and create a strong sense of well-being. A feeling of security, a feeling of love and a feeling of joy are essential to not only the foundation of our sense of self, but also to its maintenance. Today we will look at the feeling of security.

Rooted in attachment, feeling secure is a cornerstone to our sense of self. When we are consistently parented, in a way that is both stable and attuned to our needs, we are given the chance to explore. Essentially, we are given the gift of being able to learn the fundamental process of being dependent in order to achieve independence. Secure attachment creates a foundation for an intact sense of self; something that we can rely on in making decisions, being able to cope with life’s challenges, and helping our own children and loved ones feel secure in their relationships to us.

The good news is that attachment is a life long process – we are capable of attaching to others at any time in our life; this is important if you weren’t granted secure attachment from childhood. Self-reflective work and practice will help vulnerability move in from being protected, allowing yourself to be open to giving and receiving secure attachment from people in your life.

A feeling of security works as a container for both love and joy. Tomorrow we will look at the feeling of love.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!


The Fine Line Between Containing Emotion and Stoicism

There are times when we need to contain our emotions. We learn the art of this growing up; from our parents when we were given the space to be frustrated in the moments of not getting something we wanted, from our teachers when we quickly realized that we were “sharing” them with 28 other children, from society in general. The ability to contain is what helps us get through difficult times – we inherently know we can’t be a complete mess around our co-workers and family members, even though we may feel like it. It is then, in our moments of alone time, that the tears come and we can release what has built up in our effort to get through a challenging day.

But what is the difference between containing emotion and being stoic? I have worked with many clients whom I would categorize as being fairly stoic in their emotions. It is almost like a tightness, a guardedness; not only are they containing emotions from others, they are also containing them from themselves. I had one client describe it as “Express emotion? In our house, it felt like I wasn’t even allowed to experience it.”

When we move from containment to stoicism, it has most likely been taught to us. Very often, it is homes in which we were taught or shown by example that emotions were meant to be private, at all costs.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Although it will initially feel like a violation to your system, it first starts with giving yourself permission to explore. First by going backwards and spending some time looking at how emotions were expressed in your family, and then by looking at how you can move yourself towards feeling a little looser in the emotions department. This will begin the process of giving yourself the freedom of the natural ebb and flow of emotion.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Bart Christiaanse on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!


Fear: It Will Hold Us Back Every Time

Fear can be quite tenacious. When our fear response engages, it alerts us to danger; it cautions us against movement forward. Which, hey, works great if there is a bear in our path! But perceived fears will trigger the same type of response, which can make us feel stuck or in limbo.

We often inherently know when a decision has to be made that will elicit some much needed movement but we hesitate. Perhaps it is a relationship we need to leave, perhaps we feel unsatisfied with our job, perhaps we hesitate to put some boundaries into place, or find ourselves procrastinating about making changes.

In any case, we fear the uncomfortable and lean into the familiar; we allow fear to hold us back. But as frightening as change can sometimes feel, we know that movement is essential for growth.

And so we can lean into curiosity as a way to temper fear. When we are curious, we are not making a decision, we are simply gathering information. With job dissatisfaction, for example, we might look at questions such as: “Are there ways that I can make my job more enjoyable? Am I able to put up some boundaries at work that will allow me to feel more in control? Is there a course that I can take while working that might help me advance my career? Have any of the people in my life experienced similar situations and how did they cope with it? What other types of jobs are out there?”

By allowing ourselves to be curious, we allow our rational brain to weigh in. When we simply gather information, we also gather strength and courage along the way. This process will often allow us to push past the fear and make the decision; hence stepping into a greater sense of well being and contentedness. Sounds like a good place to be 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

The Destructive Forces of Resentment

I love this saying by Buddha and will often use it in session:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are

the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

This type of anger is not what we would consider immediate anger – those rising up feelings that occur when someone says something to upset you for example. This type of anger is one that falls in the category of hostility or resentment. It is pent up anger, pushed down anger, anger that has been avoided, anger that we hold on to. Sometimes it is towards a person who has hurt us, other times it is anger that comes from a circumstance in our life that has not been resolved.

In any case, it is a destructive anger. And the only person it is really destroying is yourself. I also liken the hot coal to a stone in your heart; hostility and bitterness will create stones in your heart, and the person that carries that heavy load is you.

We are in a much better position to begin to explore our hurt, for that is really what resentment is about – we have skipped over the hurt to anger and it keeps us in a place where we avoid the pain, thereby avoiding forgiveness. I would say that perhaps it is time to let go of that hot coal and begin the tender care of our wounds. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Armando Ascorve Morales on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

The Companionship of Joy and Sorrow

I have come to appreciate this quote by Kahlil Gibran:

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.” 
― Kahlil Gibran

We spend a lot of time focusing on happiness. Granted, 40% of our contentedness comes from the activities we choose, and therefore becomes an important part of our active living. Sorrow may come to us in the form of a moment in our day, or part of a process as we are experiencing a loss. Our aim becomes not to live with one over the other, but rather to integrate. It becomes a matter of knowing that we can feel both moments of joy and sorrow in our day and understand that we can process each emotion to the extent that it informs us of our growth and healing.  It is okay to give ourselves permission to simply feel the emotion, whether it be joy or sorrow, and acknowledge its presence.

Photo credit: http://Photo by David Schertz on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

Grief Revisited

One of the stages of grief is acceptance. When we have fully reached that stage, there is a feeling of integration of our loss; we are able to recognize that the bereavement we have endured also sits alongside the love we felt and the strength we have gathered through the process.

We can be moving right along, joyfully integrated, when a trigger upsets the apple cart. Sometimes it comes in the form of a dream, other times in circumstantial events that are happening in our lives, sometimes it comes as a re-enactment if a similar loss happens to someone close to us.

Grief revisits us. It can make us feel as though we are experiencing the loss again; perhaps less painfully but there nonetheless. It is when we are feeling vulnerable that we might question the work we have done in getting to a place of healing. It becomes important to recognize that grief has its own timeline and that it is a normal process that it touches us again when triggered to.

The steps we have taken to integrate loss and love are not lost to us in those revisited moments; rather it is a time where we can once again gather our strength, take a deep breath, and say “we got this.” 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

The Aftereffects of Anger

You find yourself angry with a loved one and have called a time out. Your partner is having a hard time containing hostility, so you agree to table the discussion, for now. The best solution to an angry situation is a promise to regroup and try again when our tempers have cooled and our nostrils are less flared. But what happens to us in the aftermath of anger? What are it’s aftereffects?

  1. A narrowing of attention. One of the common prompts to anger is a feeling that you are being treated unfairly which leads us to blame. This doesn’t just go away when you leave the room. Very often, we will continue to ruminate about the situation that is ticking us off.
  2. Bringing the past back into the present. Very often, the issues we have with a person is part of a pattern. In the aftereffects of anger, we can stew about all of the times in the past when we felt the same way, locking ourselves into feeling hopeless about the possibility of change.
  3. Feeling numb or disconnected. Sometimes this comes from our body’s physiological response to being riled up, other times, it is a psychological effect of trying to process all of the frustration, irritation and outrage we have felt.

Recognizing that the aftereffects of anger are present are an important part of choosing an appropriate amount of time in order to process. The 24 hour rule is often a good one, as it gives us time to allow our rational brain to weigh in on the situation. It also gives us time to chat it over with a friend, or work on thinking about a solution before returning to a discussion about it. The aftereffects of anger; important knowledge to have in our tool belt when it comes to understanding this complex, yet simple emotion 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the Stages of Grief

In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the book “On Death and Dying.” She spoke about the universality of grief and how it is a process that we all experience when a loved one passes away. One of the instrumental contributions of the book are the stages of grief:

  1. Denial/Disbelief: Often the first reaction to loss. “This can’t be happening,” “I can’t believe they are gone;” are some typical thoughts we turn to when we are trying to wrap our heads around our overwhelming emotions.
  2. Bargaining: This is often a reaction to the lack of control that we feel when faced with our loss. They include the “what if” questions or the “if only” questions that we ask ourselves over and over.
  3. Anger: As a way to deal with our vulnerable feelings, we can feel anger. Anger at God, anger at the person for leaving us, anger at the medical system for failing our loved one. As we continue through the process of grief, we are often able to work through our anger, touching instead upon the raw feelings of grief.
  4. Depression/Sadness: Sadness is our bodies natural way to try and integrate the loss with the love we feel for our loved one. Carrying a heavy heart can often lead to feeling depressed as we try and wrestle through the sad and weighted feelings.
  5. Acceptance: This is a growing calm. As grief works itself through our system, infiltrating every cell, we begin to feel the integration of love and loss.

One important thing to note is that the stages of grief are not linear. Instead, we can often re-visit stages, moving more in figure 8 motion than in a straight line. We can feel disbelief, for example, when a year has passed; there are times that our anger spikes or we ruminate over the what-ifs again. And very often, we can feel acceptance throughout the whole process, sometimes in just the smallest of ways or in the big moments of a tear-soaked pillow.

In any event, it is okay to lean into the fact that although grief is universal and therefore a shared process, it is also a very individual process. Grief has its own timeline. 

Photo credit: http://Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

Like this post? Consider subscribing!