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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: April 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Deepening the Discussion

So lately I have been thinking a bit about a few general ideas that come up in therapy that, while applicable very uniquely and individually, have general themes that are beneficial to us all in a broader sense.  I wanted to mention them on the blog as food for thought and grist for the mill.  They are in no particular order and related to each other mostly with the idea that they can help us deepen the discussion in our lives about how to live and feel well and have good satisfying relationships.

Our past influences and shapes our present.
There is a difference between being well and being happy. 
Emotional wellness does not always mean we are happy.
Being happy does not always mean we are emotionally well.
Emotional wellness feels good, even when we are sad, angry or hurt.
Being curious about our feelings, motivations and actions can help us understand more about what we need and how to get it.
Being curious about ourselves and others can help take the self attack out of the discussion so that it can move forward and go deeper and bring us closer.
This is hard to do when we are hurting, but the results are often well worth effort.
It takes two to create a culture in a relationship.
Love does not always solve the problem, make someone a mind reader, mean that words and actions of all kinds are tolerable. 
Love is not the only fact in successful satisfying relationships.
There is no age limit for discovering things about our past, our character or our desires.
When we ask a question (of ourselves, our partner, our children, colleagues, friends) before giving advice, criticism, feedback, we deepen the discussion.  We join the effort to understand, to support, to sort though, to soothe, and to find something better.

We can only go as fast as our minds and hearts can go.  But if we are at least involved in the conversation, we are well on the way.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"All sorrows can be borne if we put them in a story or tell a story about them." ~ Isak Dinensen

I was reminded of the above quote several weeks ago when Mary Pipher included it in her talk (yes, more on Mary). And I've been wanting to share it on the blog. I think mainly because it has so many different meanings and implications, many of which Mary spoke about recently, and which are all worthy of repetition.
First, the theme of course, that talking helps. Telling our story helps us to bear the pain, to find the meaning, to continue on toward wellness and life and relief.
Second, that when we tell our story, we are less alone. New ideas, new insights, new thoughts can come to us. We can write and rewrite our narratives in ways that bring us to better places, new levels of understanding and new ways of being less alone in our pain and in our lives.
And this: a burden shared is a burden halved.
And more from Mary Pipher who talked about feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of some of life's problems, both the personal ones and the ones we all share as humans on this planet. That we do not necessarily have to know, in fact, perhaps we cannot know, that our efforts toward solving a particular problem will yield the result we want, when we even know what that is, but that there is a deep intrinsic value in being part of the solution. The effort alone counts. We cannot rest on saying that the problem is too big, seems unsolvable or will take too much effort so therefore we may as well not look, not try, not tend to it. We can take comfort in willingness to take a step, any next right step, and not sit back, ignore it, turn the other way.
It is true that for many of us, we don't get moving on certain issues in our lives until our frustration outweighs our fear. If we are functioning somehow, seemingly well enough, we often don't put forth the effort to push forward for something different or something better. But we do feel better when we are doing something, even if we are not sure where it will lead, or what exactly the goal is.
When there is sorrow to be borne, and we give it life, bring it out into our world and tell it's story, tell our story, we grow, we expand, we live better.