Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tiny Buddha Says- Guide To Healing

(warning - a tome of a serious matters is afoot. Gah! I'm SUCH a dork sometimes)

Need some healing in your life? This 10 step guide from hits right on the mark! (notes from me to follow)

"10 Happiness Tips for People Who Have Been Hurt

by Lori Deschene
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~Unknown

Maybe someone hurt you physically or emotionally. Maybe you’ve survived something else traumatic–a natural disaster, a fire, an armed robbery. Or maybe you’ve just come out of a trying situation, and though you know you’ll eventually recover, you still feel pain that seems unbearable.
Whatever the case may be, you’ve been scarred, and you carry it with you through many of your days.
Most of us can relate on some level to that feeling. Even people who excel at taking personal responsibility have at least one story of having been hurt. Though some of us have endured more serious situations, you really can’t quantify or compare emotional pain.
To a teenager who just had her heart broken, the pain really seems like the end of the world. In fact, Livestrong estimates that every 100 minutes, a teenager commits suicide–and that the number of suicides in high-income families is the same as in poor families. Presumably, not all of those teens have suffered incomprehensible tragedies. What they have in common is pain, born from different adversities and circumstances.
When you’re hurting some people might tell you to “Suck it up and deal” as if that’s a valid solution. They may say “It’s all in your head” and assume that reasons away the pain. But none of that will help you heal and find happiness from moment to moment.
Like everyone, I’ve been hurt–in both profound and trivial ways. I’ve dealt with it using the following ideas:
1. Define your pain.
It’s not always easy to identify and understand what’s hurting you. Some people even stay in abusive relationships because it’s safer than acknowledging their many layers of pain: the low self esteem that convinces them they deserve abuse; the shame over being treated with such cruelty; the feeling of desperation that convinces them there’s no real way out.
The first step toward finding happiness after having been hurt is to understand why you were hurt; to get to the root of everything that makes the memories hard.
2. Express that pain.
There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to communicate how you feel to the person who hurt you; and if you can, there’s no guarantee they’ll respond how you want them to. Say what you need to say anyways. Write in your journal. Write a letter and burn it. Get it all out.
This will help you understand why you’re hurting–and what you’ll do in the future to avoid similar pain–so you can feel empowered instead of victimized. Research has actually proven that people who focus on lessons learned while journaling find the experience more helpful than people who don’t (focus on lessons).
3. Try to stay in the present.
Reliving the past can be addictive. It gives you the opportunity to do it again and respond differently. To fight back instead of submitting; to speak your mind instead of silencing yourself. It also allows you to possibly understand better. What happened? Where did you go wrong? What should you have done?
In other words, it allows you to torture yourself. Regardless of what you should have done, you can’t do it now. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, you may need professional help to avoid revisiting the incident. If you don’t, you need sustained effort. Fight the urge to relive the pain. You can’t go back and find happiness there. You can only experience that now.
4. Stop telling the story.
It may seem like another way to understand what happened; or maybe it feels helpful to hear someone say you didn’t do anything wrong and you don’t deserve to hurt. In all reality this just keeps you stuck right where you are: living your life around a memory and giving it power to control you.
No amount of reassurance will change what happened. You can’t find happiness by holding onto a painful story, trying to place in new, brighter light. You can only find happiness when you let it go, and make room for something better. You don’t need another person’s permission to let go and feel OK.
5. Forgive yourself.
Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong, but you blame yourself. Or maybe you played a role in creating your current situation. Regardless of what happened, you need to realize what you did is not who you are. And even if you feel immense regret, you deserve to start today without carrying that weight. You deserve a break.
You can either punish yourself and submit to misery, or forgive yourself and create the possibility of happiness. It comes down to whether you decide to dwell or move on. Which do you choose: anger with yourself and prolonged pain, or forgiveness and the potential for peace?

6. Stop playing the blame/victim game.
Maybe you were a victim. Maybe someone did horrible things to you, or you fell into an unfortunate set of circumstances through no fault of your own. It still doesn’t serve you to sit around feeling bad for yourself, blaming other people. In fact, it only holds you back. You can’t feel good if you use this moment to feel bad about another person’s actions.
The only way to experience happiness is to take responsibility for creating it, whether other people made it easy for you or not. You’re not responsible for what happened to you in the past but you’re responsible for your attitude now. Why let someone who hurt you in the past have power over your present?
7. Don’t let the pain become your identity.
If everything you do, and all your relationships center around something that hurt you, it will be harder to move on. You may even come to appreciate what that identity gives you: attention, the illusion of understanding, or the warmth of compassion, for example.
You have to consider the possibility there’s a greater sense of happiness in completely releasing your story. That you’d feel better than you can even imagine if you’d stop letting your pain define you. You can have a sad story in your past without building your present around it.
8. Reconnect with who you were before the pain.
It’s not easy to release a pain identity, particularly if you’ve carried it around for a long time. It may help to remember who you were before that experience–or to consider who you might have become if it hadn’t happened. You can still be that person. That person who doesn’t feel bitter or angry so frequently.
If you want to feel and be peaceful and happy, start by identifying what that looks like. What you think about, what you feel, what you do, how you interact with people. Odds are this process will remind you both how you want to be and how you don’t want to be.
9. Focus on things that bring you joy in the moment.
You don’t have to focus on completely letting go of your pain forever–you just have to make room for joy right now. Start simple. What’s something you can enjoy in this moment, regardless of what pain you’ve experienced? Would sitting in the sun bring you joy? Would calling your sister bring you joy?
Don’t think about the totality of the rest of your days. That’s a massive burden to carry–haven’t you hurt enough? Just focus on now, and allow yourself a little peace. You’ll be surprised how easily “nows” can add up when you focus on them as they come.
10. Share that joy with other people.
People often isolate themselves when they’re hurting because it feels safer than showing people their vulnerability. What they fail to realize is they don’t have to feel vulnerable all the time. You can choose certain people for support, and then allow yourself time with others without involving your painful story.
You can share a meal, a movie, a moment and give yourself a break from your anger or sadness. You don’t have to carry it through every moment of your day. Don’t worry–if you feel you need to remember it, you’ll still be able to recall it later. But as you allow yourself pockets of peace, shared with people you love, you may find you need that story a lot less.
Everyone deserves to feel happy. Everyone deserves a little peace. One more thing we all have in common: we can only provide those things for ourselves."

On a personal note -
The step that struck me the most was number 8 -Reconnect With Who You Were Before The Pain. I had spent a couple years too afraid to reconnect with my 'pre-pain' self. In my head, that person was horribly flawed. I mean, why else would I have ended up in such a state if I was not this freakily defective individual? That was absolute poppy-cock! (I just like saying 'cock'). I spent 30 + years becoming that person, why shut them out now? Number 8 is the step I am embracing the most.

These are, of course, all great steps towards healing. They, however, can only work when the individual is ready. During my 'down time', I had a lot of people suggest to me to do many of these things. Unfortunately, when I suffered my emotional trauma, the biggest loss I felt was that of control. The sense of others trying to force healing upon me when I didn't feel ready did not speed the process, because my first instinct was to fight off anything that I felt was further management of my own realm by others - no matter how heartfelt or thoughtful that guidance may have been. It was my silly, gut instinct to push away suggestions because it felt like the only sense of control I had was over my own feelings and healing process. I was in shock, my whole world had changed because of a situation and actions that were not of my own volition. People in shock do not behave with rationale, and the coming out of that fog can take days, weeks, months or years - but that pace can't be determined by circumstance or guidelines. Everyone has their own velocity of coping, and when they are ready - these steps will be a great guideline. Take your time, and just know - even when it feels like the pain is drowning you, your time for healing will come.

Apologies for this 'deep' blog. Our regularly scheduled program of stuff and nonsense will continue shortly.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's On The Internet, So It MUST Be True!

As I enter my not-even-close-to twilight years, I have reached the stage in my life where I compare and contrast the trails I've blazed to.... what the hell are those teens and twenty something's up to now? I've had a few *dozen* conversations of late regarding how easy the 'whipper-snappers' of today have it (I'm on the cusp of 40 and claim the right to use the term 'whipper-snapper' ironically and with quotations). Notably, I was part of a recent rant with a school teacher regarding how the students of the Right-Now Generation have it so easy when it comes to research on even the most vexing of problems. All the thirsty mind has to do it tap-tap-tap and there it is, glowing on the screen-- the Universe. In my youth, I had to do something unheard of. Something so remarkably archaic, it boggles the mind. I had to crack open a book. My step-daughter (and future zygote(s)) will never know the joys of paging though the Encyclopedia Britanica Volume M-P in order to finish social studies report #30 on the Meerkat. They won't have to wrinkle their noses at the slightly musty scent, feel that dry crackle at their finger tips or listen to the soft whisper of paper as they shuffle past those particular leaves of knowledge. It brings to mind that scene in The Time Machine, original of course, when Rod Taylor berates the poor, unsuspecting Eloi for letting their books turn to dust. Will the remake of the remake have our hero smashing a pile of rusted nooks? I wonder.

My family had the ultimate Encyclopedia set - it took up an entire wall in our living room, and it was very, very old. The material was so dated that leaded nipples were still listed as a remedy to quiet baby when fussy (this is real - look it up!). Our set was a garage sale find of my mom's before I was even born, and I'm pretty sure it required a pick-up truck and some heavy back strain to transport the collection from the neighbors garage to our home. Oh -the hours I spent looking up outdated material to throw into my school reports. These were books compiled when ailments such as the dropsies, lumbago and rheumatiz plagued society. To this day, I'm sure my teachers graded me on volume rather than timely content. Even after I left the nest, I would occasionally page through my old friends on my visits back. Imagine my heartbreak when, in the mid-90's, I was informed that the books were disposed of. It was much like I felt when my parents unloaded their massive collection of National Geographic (go ahead and raise your hand if N.G. was your first introduction to soft core porn too. Nice!).

We are now in THE instant gratification society. I could talk about fast-food and microwaves, but all that has been around thickening our wastes and growing alien DNA in our brains for decades. The previous cry of 'I want it now' has not been satiated even close to the degree that we have seen in the last decade. It's all about the world wide web, as it grows bigger, faster, stronger *URL SMASH* The answers to our questions resolved in a quick google search. A person is born, lives, loves and dies right there on a single Wiki page. Entire books are written and lives problems solved in increments of 140 characters or less. We can see our friends from middle school to middle age in a single online photo albumn. This is how we are, and this is where we're going - fast!

A reminder of what www means. World Wide Web. We used to say it before each site link. Then we switched to saying www. We even quit saying that and just started referring to simple titles. We don't really say that either. In fact, it's all old news. Now it's just 'my' this or that. My website or my facebook. Facebook is the network, YOU have a page. The concept that these pages of information reside at a web address of their very own baffles the youth of today. There's no need when all it takes is a single word in a search window to get you to where you want to be RIGHT NOW. Example: when Jonny asked Miss N for her class project url, she said 'There isn't one...type my school name. It's just there'* Future - I'm skeered.

With information coming at us with ease at such high volume, inaccuracy abounds, and the world web of lies has great staying power. That brings me back to my rant with the teacher. Her students are able to get their assignments done at the speed of light, but the students sources are not always validated and their projects are often filled with exciting, and wrong, information. The students are dismayed as they did exactly what they were supposed to do, researched the topic. Points are lost and disappointment is gained. "But, it MUST be true! The internet said so!". Miss N helped to support my point only last week. She informed me with great authority that McDonald's was founded in Europe in the mid-80's. She was SURE she was right because her source was the internet.

My own family was recently effected by the monster of misinformation. The seed of a single press release hitting the newswire resulted in at least a spruce tree of skewed truth branching into several publications, web sites and blogs. They all shared the happy, if not a bit inaccurate, news of a celebribaby and it's would be parents. I had a great deal of e-mails in my box last Wednesday morning, telling me the shocking news that my husband was reported as the father of a star child. Not only was it on the web - but it was in the Strib! Yes, there is a baby to be, yes the mom is is the father that baby-momma happens to be currently, blissfully, married to. And no, my husband is not the baby-daddy.

It's not just the inaccuracy, but it's the speed of which the web of untruth gets spun. It took less than an hour for a hoax regarding Gordon Lightfoot's death to travel from a small site in Canada to nearly a third of the postings on facebook (well, MY facebook homepage...I know a lot of Lightfoot fans). Twitter was flooded with the hoax even faster than facebook - trending topic in 3...2...

There can be retractions for these stories, but there's always a ghost of the lie that remains, floating on the grid. The Encyclopedia came to us at a slow pace. No retractions necessary. New discoveries were made, new volumes were printed. OK, so you had to rely on common sense to throw out the lead 'baby soothers', but that's just about simple evolution right there. Nice and easy. New print comes out, old print gets recycled. The stories of the web, however, still hang out in the blogosphere. There's still stories about the untimely demise of Gordon, and there are are still photos of a celebribaby dad-to-be with my Jonny's name captioned underneath.

The untruth is out there.

*When he typed in the school name as directed...the project was not 'just there' :-D Miss N was completely nonplussed.