Tag Archives: psychotherapy

Emotional and Spiritual Hoarding

Emotional and Spiritual Hoarding

While thinking about what to write about, I wanted to explore the idea of ‘starting your day over again’. A key part of being able to start your day over is being able to make an honest self appraisal and say or do whatever is necessary to stop, regroup, and change your path. In the process of writing that post (I subsequently changed the title of that post to ‘Honest Self Appraisal without Self Loathing’), I remembered the John Lennon song Just Like Starting Over, and thought that I would use that song for that post. When I saw the video though, I saw that it did not really convey the idea that I had intended. The video itself made me uncomfortable, as ;I watched this declaration of love, all I could think about was that he had been shot and killed.  It felt terribly painful and ironic. This video has remained in my consciousness, gnawing at me, knowing that there was something important there, which I could not quite put my finger on…

Another aspect of ‘taking care of oneself’ is something that I am calling ’emotional and spiritual hoarding’: holding on to your love and happiness so that it’s not as painful when you lose it. Not loving fully, not living fully with this vague notion that somehow you’re better off, ‘safer’, less pained when things turn sour. ‘Don’t climb to the mountaintop, the fall will kill you’.

Emotional and spiritual hoarding is a way of coping with the fear of having an overwhelming painful experience. Being afraid of being hurt and so not living fully. Tucking your love into the back of your drawer, hiding away your passion in the corner of your closet, not admitting to yourself what you really want to do. What is your reaction to this video? Do you thing that the pain (of his death) was due to the fact that they loved each other? Is the way to avoid this type of pain to pull back and not ‘go there’ with others?

Psychotherapy helps with connecting the dots of past experiences and current emotional issues. Energy work helps with releasing the blockages that keep us in emotional trenches. Working with sound is especially helpful for those who cannot quiet their inner critic.

You Spot It, You Got It

One indirect way that fears rear their ugly head is to take the form of projection – we believe others are feeling something that we in fact are feeling, but are unable to acknowledge: ‘THEY think I’m _____’; ‘THEY are saying ______’. It is then easier to focus on angry feelings: ‘ how dare someone judge me or gossip about me.’
Projecting your own fears makes them unmanageable because it is impossible to control what someone else is thinking or doing. But if you identify and ‘own’ your feelings, then it becomes more likely that you can work through them. You can become more active in getting the necessary skills or support; You can
process with someone who knows you and can give you more accurate feedback.

Chakra framework

The chakras energetically hold all of our life memories. Throughout our lives, our consciousness is impacted by the events of our lives. If we do not or are not allowed to process these events in a functional way, our interpretation of these events is what leads us down the road of shame; self blame; secrecy; automatic thoughts or automatic feelings that no longer apply. If you journal, reread passages from different years of your life. Is there a theme that emerges? A theme will most likely emerge in the interpretations you make, which tend to center on fear or shame.

Chakra work gets around over-analyzing data. It is important to have an understanding of your issues through psychotherapy and/or self-help groups. Chakra work is not a short cut around the traditional process of psychotherapy and possibly painful emotional work; but it does help release emotions / thoughts that have been hidden from view. Sound healing restores balance to your chakras. Depending on where you are in your personal healing – chakra work will enhance or deepen the work that you have already done/are doing and lead you to greater freedom from the shame or fear based thoughts.

You find what you look for – getting past the root chakra

Please watch this video before reading the rest of this post.

Do you often wonder what someone else’s ‘angle’ is, finding it difficult during a conversation to take things at face value? Or maybe you just feel lonely, not liked by many people. Perhaps there was some past trauma that has left you hypervigilant and unable to move forward. How often do we ‘look’ for things and ultimately find them? What is the likelihood of seeing something that we are not looking for?

I have worked with many people that count their personal slights; they look at and report on the number of times they have been ‘betrayed’. Often times, there is unhealed trauma that keeps perpetuating itself in various ways that appear to be unrelated to the original event(s). One is left with unrelenting sense of ungroundedness; fears, insecurities and inability to take risks due to a fundamental sense of lack of safety.

As in the video above, how often do you ‘count’ the number of times someone has wronged you; or how many times you have been hurt? The bigger question is, though, how often have you missed the ‘moon-walking bear’? How many times has a kind gesture gone unnoticed; an invitation to lunch left unanswered?

The root chakra – located at the base of the spine is the energetic center that holds our most basic survival needs: physical safety; financial stability; shelter. When our root chakra is clear, we feel stable, grounded, safe. We are able to venture out and take risks. When there are blockages, or ‘sanskaras’ – imprints left in our bodies from past experiences that impacted our basic sense of safety or stability – then we become, or remain, ungrounded, insecure or fearful. We may have physical problems in the general area of the root chakra or emotional problems stemming from the lack of groundedness such as depression or anxiety. The events that lead to PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – could also cause a disruption in the root chakra, especially if the individual is not able to or does not have the opportunity to process the trauma.

Talking about the past in therapy is a wonderful way of working through past trauma. It is a forum to work through difficult social interactions and the full range of emotional issues that stem from them. There are specific cognitive- behavioral interventions that help an individual move past their specific life events in order to live happier healthier lives. However, sometimes an individual can get stuck with the whirlpool of talking about their problems and remaining unable to move beyond this.

Sound healing can be a tool to help an individual move to the next level in their psychotherapy; give them that extra ‘oomph’ or insight into themselves that helps them along in their growth. Using toning; tuning forks and other sound healing tools – in meditation or with a sound healing practitioner – can help an individual heal and move forward.

rewriting history


Rewriting history
We all come with baggage
Things that happened to us as children; as teenagers and as adults
Maybe a family member was insensitive to our needs; perhaps there was cruelty either accidental or intentional. There is remorse or regret over something we did: maybe we were the bully ; or we were the abuser. At times the victim becomes the victimizer.

You can gaze at the past but do not dwell on it.

We have learned – through self help books and therapy that we need to ‘work through’ our issues; which we dutifully do – we journal; talk about it; cry over it; confront the individuals that wronged us.

At some point though, we are just left with ourselves. We are left with the effects of the past and our perceived ruins in the present. What if we could just let it all go? When do we say enough with the processing? What if there is an escape hatch in our brain that we can open and get rid of all the pain we have been hoarding?

Ask, and it shall be.

how to save the world

Last Sunday, my spouse and I decided to go for a late afternoon walk in the park. It was our lazy way out of doing a 3 mile run. Instead, we decided to walk the 3+ mile loop of our park with our dogs, as a way of getting the miles in but not over-exerting ourselves. This of course, is not the point of this post, but I need to set up this scenario.

We walked around the park, but although it was already late afternoon, it was pretty hot, and our dogs are not used to the heat; and although they are fit, 3 miles was a big jump from their usual 1 mile max on a walk. So, we carried them, looked for water, sat in shady areas, got their bodies wet to cool their core. Eventually we sat in a cool shady area for a longer period of time, where the dogs (and us) could rest, and watch the people in the park.

While sitting there, watching kites fly, people playing frisbee, or paddle ball, sitting around, eating, reading to their child. I lay back and enjoyed it all. Though the park was full of people, it was peacefully quiet.

I turned my head, and looked at the curve of the hill that I was on, that flattened out to the path. Beyond that was a lamppost, a fence, and then more greenery beyond that. I thought about the earth, the dandelions all over, imagined the hundreds of people that walk through this area; imagined the iron worker that must have taken pride in the lamppost they made, or not. The people that installed it in that spot, and the others that repaint it a shiny black every so often. Were they proud of the work or indifferent? I went on to think how the fence must have been installed by someone – I wondered how they felt doing it – was it a hot, sticky day like today or the middle of winter?. I wondered about the stories that each person in the park had – why were they there, were they happy? serene? miserable? There were also the birds, bugs, and other animals that live in this park – all in a peaceful coexistence. We are all one.

With this thought of one-ness, I then started thinking about the world; caring for the world and how there are some people/organizations/countries that are not taking care of the earth/people/animals/vegetation, and are more focused on profit. How could we be one, and then do this to ourselves? What can I do to stop fracking, or to stop use of GMO’s or whatever other global or local issue that is affecting the world?

We are all one…hmm. The thought came back to me, like the speck in Horton Hears A Who!. Earlier that week, I had spoken to someone about how, within families, we cannot change others, we can only change ourselves. Even if the other person is the one that’s ‘wrong’, we can only control our own behavior – what we say and what we do. We have to focus on ourselves if we want to make progress, otherwise we can wait forever, unhappy, waiting for someone else to ‘see the light’. And then it hit me – well actually, the speck landed on my forehead: maybe this earlier line of thinking also applies to the world – that all I have to do is work on myself. Somehow, this is the key to saving the world – make myself the best person I can be. This new thought has been quite tentative – a thought that can float away on doubt. But it hasn’t, it has rested on the spot right above my nose. I did not swat it away, it was not bothering me, but was also surprised that it remained there, still.

What do you think? Change the world by becoming a better person yourself. Phooey! That can’t be possible, can it?

The Lazy Song

Very cute video.  As I was on my treadmill, struggling with running after not having run for several days, I heard this song on the radio.  It struck me that while he did not feel like doing anything, he in fact, wrote this song, set it to music, and directed the video, had friends/associates that could do the video with him, and it became a number one hit.

There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day, feeling lazy, or laying on the couch all day on the weekend watching tv…but the fact is, that you do have to show up for yourself and do the things that you don’t feel like doing.  Exercise, eat right, meditate, work, pursue your goals and your dreams.

The issue that gets most people though is not ‘being lazy’, but feeling ‘not good enough’ or ‘not enough’.  Once you have the knowledge of what you would like to be doing in order to feel better, or accomplish your goals – you have to take all the thoughts that come afterwards, that are obstacles to you taking the next step, and put them in a locked box.

Or maybe you can write a song about it…

 

 

 

 

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day – a day for us to renew our awareness of our connection to the Earth.  As we go through our daily routines, especially those of us that live in urban areas, it is easy to forget about the ground we walk upon.   It is deeper than the sidewalk in front of our house, the road that leaves town; or the bicycle lane that takes us to work.  Even in more rural areas, we may still focus on the day to day troubles and fail to contemplate the gifts of the earth.

Along with the idea that we need to take care of ourselves – mentally, physically and spiritually comes the much bigger notion that the earth is what sustains us all on each of these planes.  Our gratitude for our life does not begin nor end with our ‘thank you for this day’; it begins with the simple actions that enhance or diminish our lives on a daily basis, that also enhance and diminish the quality of life on earth.  Think about it.  Think about the things you do to enhance your own personal well being.  There should be no incongruity between self-care and care of the earth.  The reverse holds true as well, if you know how to take care of the earth – you have the fundamental knowledge of how to take care of yourself.

doing the next right thing

Sometimes our thinking can get in the way of progress.  We complicate things beyond recognition and become immobilized.  The concept of ‘doing the next right thing’ is a way of removing the thinking clutter from our minds and focussing solely on the next step that will move you forward towards your desired goal.

Cognitive Distortion – Overgeneralization

Overgeneralization is a type of cognitive distortion where an individual generalizes a negative view based on one, or limited, experience. In this song, Billy Joel is singing to someone who has ‘over generalized’ – she has been hurt in and is unwilling to love again.

Does life stop after one is hurt or betrayed? Are there some things that are just too devastating that one simply just does not recover?

We look to people to inspire us, like the guy that cut off his hand in order to live while mountain climbing; or Elizabeth Smart who was held hostage for over 18 years; the triathlon guy who does triathlons with his son, who has cerebral palsy, in tow.

We look to these people and wonder whether we’d be able to face the challenge they faced. Meanwhile, we all face our own particular challenges that we see as ‘different’. Symbolically, are you willing to cut away an important part of you in order to survive? Are you willing to go to any lengths to accomplish something, even if it is harder for you than it is for most? Are you able to face down other people’s possible criticism or judgment? It is safer to fantasize about what would we do if we were mountain climbing and our hand got stuck under a rock; than it is to think about cutting away the dead end job or the unfulfilling relationship. We face similar questions in each situation – what will happen then? What if I don’t succeed? What if I regret my decision?

Overgeneralization can be a distortion that leads us to remain stuck.   It gives us the illusion of safety by avoiding taking any risks. Can we instead, learn from our errors, from the things that go wrong? Surely we can; we must, in fact, learn – even when or especially when the solution is more painful, at least in the short run, than the problem itself.

 

For more information on the above references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ralston

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Smart_kidnapping

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Hoyt

 

 

 

secondary gain

One thing to look at when thinking about unremitting problems is what is the secondary gain from staying stuck?  Just as an alcoholic who gets sober suddenly finds themselves with a whole lot of time on their hands, so do others who make significant changes in their life.   What would you be doing if you didn’t have your situation?  Do you know?

Looking at this a little more concretely, we can look at alcoholism.  With the elimination of alcoholic drinking, an individual will then have a whole lot of time, and probably extra money, on their hands.  There is no more time spent hungover, recovering from the night before; and no more time spent ruminating about the all too vague semi- recollections of what was done while drinking; no more time spent regretting or in remorse, apologizing, for something done while ‘tight’.  An important part of the recovery process is finding healthy ways to fill that void, otherwise, there is a greater risk of relapse.

When other types of changes are made, the same thing happens : you are left with a whole lot of time that you don’t know what to do with.  There are life-cycle changes that are (more or less) out of your direct control, such as all the children  growing up and leaving the house;  or the death of someone you have been caregiving for years.  You are then suddenly faced with what are you now going to do with yourself.

There are some problems, though, that are more under our direct control – possibly more than we see right now.  Sometimes, on some semi-conscious or unconscious level, we keep our problem in play.  We become an actor in the play of our life, new people come into the picture, but they are all signing up for a repeat performance of our same script; we think we are starting new relationships, but we quickly find ourselves repeating the same old tired lines.  Always getting into the same type of relationship; the sense of feeling betrayed or hurt in the same manner, by different people.  It’s not so much that we find exactly the same type of person, but that we have the same types of reactions/fears/expectations.  What is the secondary gain in repeating this same type of scenario?  What are you missing, or avoiding, by not changing or moving on?