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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Weary Travelers (more Hope Forward)

"When the frustration (pain) of doing nothing is worse than the frustration (pain) of doing something....that's when we are willing and readyto take a new step." ~ anonymous

So the year is winding down and I am thinking about all the pain and suffering that goes on in the world, and all the emotional pain and suffering that many folks live with in their own internal world,  and inside their homes.

I am thinking about how we get lulled into getting along however we can, just to get through a day and how we don't often believe that anything will really help or make a difference.  That we may as well suffer alone.  Why bother.

I am thinking too about President Obama's address to the community of Newtown on Sunday and how he noted the complexities of violence followed by that those complexities "can’t be an excuse for inaction.  Surely, we can do better than this." 

and then this: "Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans."

It seems then, that even in the face of seemingly uncontrollable, unimaginable circumstances, that we still have to make our human effort.  There are choices, options and pathways and the only real failure is the failure to try.

So I am taking a leap here and saying that we can get so understandably caught up in the routine of daily life and we can get so caught up in the routine of our own circumstances that we forget that perhaps there really are things we can do, steps we can take, to change things. Both in our internal worlds, our homes and our larger communities.  That the smallest of steps is still a step.  That any and every step counts. That any effort in any of our worlds will most likely benefit all of our worlds.  That we do not have to see our way clear to a result in order to begin.

If we get stuck in the pain of hopelessness, even though hope can seem painful as well (lest we be disappointed and sent back into despair again), we will never have, at the very least, the knowledge that we were willing to try.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Self Centered Fear

"If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got."

Not a new one, but one worth repeating I think.  And maybe not can be surprising sometimes. But I have been thinking again a bit about how our feelings, especially fear, get in the way of  trying a new approach or working better with a difficult person or responding differently in order to help things get better in a difficult relationship.

This theme comes up a lot in the therapy room of course.  And when we can take a gentle and deeper look at what we are doing and why (what we are really afraid of) new ideas often come to light.

The term "self-centered" often has negative connotations, in this case, it's meant to just to be descriptive.  Meaning this:  underneath anger, hurt and frustration is often the fear that we will not get what we need, or that we are in emotional or physical danger, that somehow our "self" needs protecting.  And it does.  So in order to protect ourselves we repeat certain reactions or ways of speaking, communicating or functioning that have protected us in the past, that are familiar, safe seeming and workable for us. 

It's not always apparent, either, at first glance what some of those things are even.  But when we take a closer look at our "self-centered" fears we often can see that there are other ways of protecting ourselves that bring us good results in our relationships.  And we can then understand that others are often operating out of fear as well.  When we can get to this, we often get farther than we ever imagined possible.