Archive for December, 2009
Tags: christmas blues, christmas spirit, depressed at christmas, struggling during holidays
Wishing You A Joyous
and Merry Christmas
May the spirit of the season bring you feeling of peace and thoughts of generosity… and abundant patience!
For many people the end of year holidays are filled with contradictions: there may be both fun and dread ahead. It’s not uncommon to have mixed feelings about the gatherings, dinners, parties, and shopping frenzy that fall on us between Thanksgiving and New Year. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with the expectations and unbridled “good cheer” that can accompany this time of year, try to take a step back and consider that many others may be feeling as you do. You can help yourself, and them, to have a more relaxing good time by taking a new perspective and allowing the enthusiasm to build, crest, then subside, in its natural pace, as it surely will. The natural pace of the celebrations and the familiarity of the rituals can serve to sooth as well as sadden when you stop to consider the impact on others of helping to spread the “holiday cheer”, or at least allow others to do so without inserting a “humbug” attitude into the day. If you’ve had a difficult year of personal losses, you can be sure that others have too. Some you may know about, and some you may not. So assume that everyone has had some difficult situations that you don’t know about, and try to be as kind and uplifting as you can.
And if you do, the most amazing thing may happen; you may find yourself feeling the joy of giving someone those most precious of gifts… comfort and joy.
Tags: divorce, getting over divorce, missing someone, moving on, picking up the pieces, therapy fnd divorce
This quote could well have been murmured by my client as she talked about the ambivalence she felt toward her former husband. She had come to therapy to “get over” him, and to learn to like herself again, since being with him had, she felt, undermined her capacity to enjoy her own life. She had spent much of their time together in confusing self-doubt and tearful apologies for things she didn’t even know she’d done. She’d often been miserable – far too often.
Yet she missed him, and she missed the way they were together during the times when things were good. It never really was the soaring excitement of total acceptance she’d felt with her lover before (and a few times during) their marriage, but usually she felt loved and appreciated.
And it seemed to me that she also missed the misery. Their relationship had been difficult at times, especially as the end drew near. Even then, looking back, she said in several sessions that she missed all of it. All of him. She seems to be trapped in missing the familiar, even though the future, though obviously unfamiliar, held the promise of joy and the possibility of fulfillment.
Over many months of sessions, my client began to feel more hopeful, more in control of her future, and less miserable about the loss of the husband who had stopped loving her long before either of them admitted it. She began to make different choices and small changes that could lead to more of what she wanted in her life, and to leave the misery behind.
You can find ways to express and experience your own vibrancy, and to find expressions of your passions that are more congruent with your goals and values.
And to get more of what you want.
May you feel, inside of and around you, the peace, commitment and joy that is at the center of this season.
Celebrate the good things in life, and forgive those who have hurt you.
Research shows that holding a grudge or resentment is more likely than not to affect the “holder” adversely, causing emotional pain to linger much longer than it otherwise would. The re-playing, over and over, of real or perceived insults and distressing encounters serves to solidify them in our memory and may result in recurring trauma.
Try, in this season of generosity and reconciliation, to give peace a chance.
Tags: starting psychotherapy, therapy
Have you wondered what psychotherapy is like? What it might feel like to explore and expose your deepest thoughts and feelings?
The poem that follows, written by George Eliot, was sent to me by a client who utilized therapy to illuminate many issues, and to begin the steps on a new life path. We spent more than a year in weekly, and occasionally twice-weekly sessions as we discovered then discussed her hopes, dreams, fears, achievements, losses and her developing intentions. She became increasingly clear about what direction she wanted her life to go, even as she struggled with old habits and self-defeating internal messages.
She was brave and determined and came to understand her frailties as only one aspect of her true self, and moreover to see herself as capable of making changes that would create new opportunities for even more meaningful change. She began to live an intentional life. And so, she sent this to me in gentle recognition of our time together.
Oh, the comfort –
The inexpressible comfort of feeling
safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words — but pouring them
All right out — just as they are –
Chaff and grain together –
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them –
Keep what is worth keeping –
and with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.
The poem itself, and her sending it, is so tender and thoughtful
that more words that can’t possibly add meaning.
Tags: patience in therapy, psychotherapy, taking time to change, the process of change, therapy
It takes hard work and perseverance to change habits of thought, feeling and behavior that have had years to become entrenched.
But the changes you can make in therapy may feel almost magical!
Many clients initially feel frustrated and impatient at not being able to immediately make substantial changes in their life once they begin therapy. Often the emotional ache has been on the surface for some time before a person makes the decision to actually begin psychotherapy. Once having begun, the work of discovering, illuminating and altering deep feelings and beliefs, then changing behaviors accordingly, you may feel some impatience to have your life quickly reflect your commitment to change. Usually however the process of making real and lasting change takes time.
My suggestion is that you accept your natural pace of making changes, and in the beginning focus more on the discovery and illumination aspects of therapy. Rushing into changes without understanding the emotional source of your past choices my feel safely gratifying, but may not result in the sustained changes that will ultimately bring you more of what you want in life. True, it can be challenging to really examine your life and how it came to be what it is. It might result in feeling of remorse or loss or anger. You may find you have to forgive others for their transgressions, and forgive yourself for your conduct towards others. There may even be events and situations that you wish you could “fix” but are unable to do so. You will not be smiling after every therapy session, as the difficult thoughts and feeling you have bubble to the service. What may surprise you however, and leave you feeling emotionally stronger is the recognition that you can do better. Not everything is in your control, but you can be in control of yourself and so build a more intentional life style. You can come to terms with your past behavior and either confirm or change your future choices, so that before too long you have created a new history through new conduct.
Consider beginning psychotherapy, and giving yourself the time to change that you deserve.
As you make changes, as you feel better about your life, and the people around you begin to relate to you more positively, you may even begin to feel as though you finally pulled a rabbit out of a hat!
Tags: fear of motherhood, gaining self-confidence, like mother like daughter, overcoming family history, self-confidence
She was very much her “mother’s daughter”…
she loved her mom deeply and could not bear to disappoint her.
… but she did NOT have to make her mother’s choices!
My client was being tortured by the painful memories of the abuses she suffered from her mother. They had an intimate and very difficult relationship. Her mom had always been more the child and my client more the mother, even from a very early age. She remembered consoling more than she was ever consoled. She remembered being available for grocery shopping and her mother’s doctor’s appointments, but had to get to school and to school activities completely on her own. She remembered days trying to be happy so that her mom would always see her smiling and feel good, trying to be positive and trying always to do the right thing, while she spent her nights under the covers listening to drunken sobbing from the next room or plates breaking against the wall in the kitchen.
She came to therapy because she had decided she would never have children, afraid that the horrible parts of her mother would come out in her and expose another child to such mistreatment. The sadness of this belief was turning into a deepening depression, and she just wanted to feel better about her decision to protect children by never exposing them to her deeply hidden maternal flaws.
I could tell from her sense of fairness, from her gratitude for the good things in her life, and from her continued embracing of her mother’s memory even as she spoke of the painful moments, that she was not of the same character as her mother. She seemed so thoughtful, actually “sweet” in her tenderness and generosity, and so tentatively hopeful. After several months of weekly sessions I was convinced that she would not forget her experiences with her mother, and more importantly that she would use them as a way remembering to listen to other, to hope for others when they lose hope of their own, to share with others, and to find joy in little moments with those she loved. And I came to believe she would be a great mom.
Many months later, she said to me: “I think that I could be a really good mother if I decide to have children. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself by believing in me before I could do it myself.” And I thought about how much we all need this gift at sometime in our lives; for someone to believe in us even when we are filled with self-doubt. If someone gave this most precious of gifts to you at some time in your life, let that person know, with a call or a note, how much it meant to you. If you feel that you need that support and hopefulness from someone else now, look around you! There may be family and friends who are trying to reach out to you and offer you their affection and confidence.
If you are having a difficult time letting the people in your life give you the gift of love and support- or if they can’t, or won’t – then contact a therapist today and begin the self-discovery that will light your path to a future of intentional living and perhaps to a time of more contentment and self-assurance.
Begin making new choices, and more importantly, your own choices, today.