Periodic vacations are essential for me to refresh myself and stay in an expanded space with my clients. Therefore I am taking one now until Tuesday, May 8.
"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers".
- T.S. Eloit
Sometimes it can just feel easier to hunker down against the softening of Spring - the old hurts, resentments and pain can feel reactivated with warmth and nourishment, rain and sun. The pain is real - but only temporary. The heart that is hoping to open again and you canwork against the cynicism of memory. Here are three tools to use in opening up:
1) Decide to be compassionate for yourself instead of being disappointed or angry with yourself. You would have done things differently if you could have, and in the future you will.
2) Talk to someone safe about your pain. Get support from a professional if needed.
3) Notice the pain but don't become the pain. Your heart is bigger than the pain you are feeling. You can get past this.
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
Sometimes life can feel like a chapter out of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events." There may be a theme to the events, or your challenges may seem random. This rather overwhelming state can appear to be an endless swamp that will entrap you, but in the end this seldom turns out to ttrue. In the meantime though, slogging through the day-to-day drama of it is sometimes overwhelming. Here are three tips about how to get through this kind of time:
1) Think about other times in your life when you were discouraged. How long did they last? How did you resolve things, or did time just sort them out for you?
2) Detach. Step back from the fatalistic story about what is going on, even it it is as compelling as a train wreck. In Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" the most sticky and uncomfortable of journeys were in the end tests that encouraged personal growth in the characters.
3) Don't do it all alone. Call friends, see a therapist, go to self-help meetings or follow a spiritual path more closely. Suffering is often lessened from something as simple as talking to another person.
To you in Your Journey,
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT 36764
Much is written about the financial aspects of retirement, but not so much one's feelings about leaving the work world behind. In talking with recent retirees and people who will soon be retiring, I came up with three observations. What is interesting about the observations is that they are thoughts that can be working in the background of your mind about your retirement whether you have many years to go or this is your last week at work:
1) When a person retires, they are often stepping out of a pressure cooker. Don't just step into another one. Take awhile to unwind and let the mind unfurl so your actions will be considered ones.
2) Let go of judgments about what you should be doing. Let go of guilt, or that feeling that you are lazy if not "productive". That is an illusion that won't get you far in retirement.
3) Let yourself have nothing that has to be done. Practice mindfulness or meditation or contemplation because time is what you have instead of making money. After all, time is the most valuable thing in the universe!
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
Humility is a most precious of virtues. It doesn't always come easily, and once you think you have it, it is usually gone! As the saints say "if you want to go through a small doorway, you have to bend down." Bending can be awkward for any number of reasons.
Just for today, treat everyone as though they were a king or queen, prince or princess. Let humility dissolve the feeling that you have been wronged in the present or the past, or are about to be wronged in the future.
Humility can dissolve anger and can create a good situation out of a bad one. Practice finding humility today, and let yourself expand into a state of grace.
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
No Spring Skips it's turn.
- Hal Borland
Everyone makes bad decisions. Unless of course you are perfect, and even saints made mistakes before they become realized. Once you make a mistake it cannot be undone and it frequently becomes easier to repeat This repetition simply ups the ante for punishment in the end.
The mind is a funny thing. It can tell you "It's alright. No one will find out, no one will get hurt." But in the meantime, what happens to you? Are you still able to feel the same way about yourself? Do you find yourself having to hide things for people you care about, or fear, or want nothing to do with?
Since mistakes are inevitable, it is usually best to find someone that you can trust to listen to you without revealing your secret. Try to sort out with this confidant how to resolve your mistake. You might be surprised that what you have done is not as bad as you think. Or maybe that there is a guilt that you should learn to live with in order to not hurt a person that is innocent. The main thing is, by not keeping your secret to yourself, you take responsibility for yourself. You move on.
You are the main victim of your own bad decisions. If you treat yourself with enough kindness and firmness there is a good chance that you will be able to resolve your mistake with the least amount of hurt involved for everyone.
Warm Regards, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
Difficult Relationships – Ten Tips to Make Life Less Stressful
Difficult people are everywhere – but in your personal life, they can be devastating! When someone close to you is in the midst of their own pain, anger or other negative emotions, they can completely ignore what they are doing to you. Below are 10 tips on how to handle difficult people in your personal life:
Remember that most of the reason they are upset with you is not personal. Even
though you may have a part in what is happening for them, their state of mind is what
determines their behavior and their words. Their own thoughts are creating a version of you
that is inaccurate. It is not you.
If you think you deserve to be slighted you will be. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” said Eleanor Roosevelt. Don't let another person dictate your self-esteem.
Feeling disliked stings. It is hard to not to want to retaliate when someone seems to be deliberately trying to hurt you! Do your best to not respond if you are emotionally reeling from a verbal attack, a nasty silence, or a show of contempt. Give both yourself and the other person time to back down before moving on to solving an issue between you.
They may not realize they are impinging on you. This may seem hard to believe, but when people want to feel important, are having a bad day, or acting unconsciously, they may wonder why you seem so crabby! Gently point out how what they are doing affects you.
You must want to get along with the more than to engage in drama. Stay true to what you want the relationship to look like. Chances are good that they will be won over. Being kind is often the fastest way to end a drama.
Is an unhealthy dependency part of the problem? Dependency kills respect. When you
let yourself be dependent, or another person encourages you to take care of them without
mutually agreed reciprocity - resentment easily finds its way into a relationship.
Are you truly able to listen? Not listening and not understanding can lead to shouting, withdrawal and hurt feelings. Listen to the person without interrupting and look at them. When
they are completely done, ask if you can repeat back to them what you heard for clarification.
8) It is human to confuse fighting with caring, especially if this was what was modeled in
one's family. This “negative caring” can lead to full-out relationship war. Is it easier to fight
than communicate? If so, seek more positive ways of caring as quickly as you can.
You can't always get another person to seek help so you may have to do the changing.
But don't worry – if you change, they will have to change over time. Relationships are like any
other system – if you change your output, it follows that the system will change.
Is your life out of balance? Is it possible you are so caught up with your career, other
people, hobbies and activities that you are neglecting your most important relationships? Do you spend much less quality time with the difficult person than you once did?
Relationships more than anything else help us grow and mature in life. They polish off our rough edges and support us to live longer and happier lives.
Often, the most powerful secret to changing another person's behavior is simply to treat them differently. It is often the fastest and best way to get out of a nasty situation with someone you care about.
“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.”
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”
Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.”
Beyoncé Knowles Carter
“It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it. Sometimes you’ve got to blast through and have faith.”
. . .but they often get what they need. No two people love in the same way. Couples therapy often turns a corner when a couple realizes that their partner does actually love them deeply, but in ways that they have not fully realized.
True love involves having enough love for yourself that another person does not have to love you exactly the way you love to them.
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT#36764
There is a joy out there as Winter slowly begins to release its grip into Spring. How much can one bear to notice? Is it tolerable to tear oneself away from everyday thoughts and anxieties long enough to notice the subtle and not-so-subtle moments of change?
No matter how important our worries seem today, no matter how pressing our problems, there is a part of us that remains separate and calm. Take a moment to find that inner stillness, that inner beauty. You will know you are seeing joy when you really notice a crocus, the sunset, or a raindrop.
Have a Wonderful March,
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT 36764
Codependency is a largely unconscious attempt to have another person in one's life in a way that makes one feel and loved and needed. It occasionally, briefly works - which is a hook for a way of living that will ultimately fail.
Many good people live with the idea that they are unworthy or otherwise not very lovable. In the grip of unpleasant feelings about oneself, the escape to codependency takes root. Focusing on another person's problems helps one to feel capable and useful. But ultimately, the other person will become an excuse for one's frustration and dissatisfaction.
Some people stay in relationships way too long. They put up with circumstances that they would never want a friend or loved one to endure. However, the good news is that codependency can be overcome, and you can put oneself back in the driver's seat of life.
If you think you may be codependent, by all means reach out for support. This could mean reading about codependency, talking to someone who knows you and cares about you, going to Codependent's Anonymous and finding a therapist. Just getting rid of your codependent is often not enough - another will probably come along soon if you haven't changed!
Once free of codependency, life blossoms in ways that you would not have dreamed were possible.
Regards, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
Feeling unforgiven by someone can be very unpleasant. Your mind may go over and the situation with that person, trying to figure out over and over again how to get forgiveness or what went wrong or if it was even your fault. None of this changes the situation.
Here are ways to change the situation:
1) Have you asked for forgiveness? This is the first and most important step. Even if you think you did nothing, have you listened to why they feel the way they do and said you were sorry for the way the situation made them feel? If so, and they haven't forgiven you,
2) Are you respectful and kind to the person when you need to deal with them? This may help the other person to understand that you perhaps did not mean to harm them.
3) Don't keep apologizing. This will make them less apt to forgive you. Once is enough. No one wants to feel coerced into forgiveness by the person they feel harmed them. Time and space may be necessary for forgiveness.
4) Some people need to hold onto resentments for some reason that you may never know. You can't do a thing with this type of person except treat them with courtesy and hope someday they come around.
5) The only person you can change is yourself, not another person. What lessons do you learn with someone refuses to forgive? How do these lessons make you a better person? If they never forgive you, but you as a result are a better person, then they have given you a great gift.
6) Let go of them, and forgive yourself.
Warmly, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT#36764
An out-of -control ego is blind to its destructive power. Whether an ego is too big or too small is less important than the amount of pain it causes. Since an unregulated ego is very hard to see, here are three symptoms of being under its influence:
1. A lack of insight that what feels good in the present can lead to pain in the long run.
2. An unwillingness to consider good advice that runs counter to what one wants.
3. An urgency to do what one wants and an inability to focus on healthier ways of getting one's needs met
There are many factors that limit insight into the demands of one's ego. These include mood swings, family patterns, addiction and habitual choices for a few. The good news is a person who is willing to do whatever it takes to develop proper ego function can succeed. Here are a few of the ways help regulate the ego:
1. Be willing to ask for and let in the advice and support of friends and family.
2. Realize that everyone makes mistakes, and everyone makes a fool out of themselves sometimes.
3. Become someone you can trust. To trust oneself is to love oneself.
4. Seek professional advice and be willing to experiment with new approaches to your problems
5. Know that people already see us as we are, not what we pretend to be.
6. Cultivate gratitude. It is the underpinning of the sort of humility in life that helps us to fall more gracefully, get up again and learn.
I Wish You the Best,
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
What feeling do you most want to run away from? For some it is sadness, or grief - for others, anger or anxiety. Some can't abide admitting to jealousy or envy. Often, people do not realize that they are avoiding a feeling. They may stay busy, drink, socialize or otherwise create barriers to becoming aware of unwanted feelings.
One thing to realize is that feelings can't kill you - but chronically avoiding your feelings actually can!
So try this. Sit down with a paper and pen. Think of the thing that bothers you the most for exactly one minute. Then write about your feelings. In this way, you are freeing yourself from being a prisoner of a dreaded feeling. It the feeling continues to occur with intensity, talk it over with someone you trust or maybe a therapist.
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT 36764
With the holidays over and frequent overcast skies, people can often feel blue. Sometimes rain, fog and other elements keep one inside more and lead to boredom as well. Mild depression is the next step. Depression is often simply the outcome of feeling that one is trapped in the same thing every day.
If you are feeling bored or humdrum or empty, there is a good chance you just have the Winter blues, especially if they subside after a day or two. If it feels deeper than that, you might be experiencing signs of depression.
Try getting some exercise, talking to a friend about how you feel, eating a healthy meal or going on a little trip. If doing what you like instead of what you think you should do does not help, then you might consider talking to a professional or counselor about your state. Life doesn't have to be so hard!
Regards, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
Gratitude is so much a part of many psychotherapies as well as spiritual paths. I believe it is because gratitude is a natural way to foster positive movement in a person. The result of this movement is more happiness.
The mind is a willing servant, and it thinks what a person wants it to think. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be".
Gratefully Yours, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
The level at which on
The level at which one is aware of their own "controlling" behavior at work is very important. Everyone wants a degree of control in their universe. It is healthy unless one does not realize how it can distort one's reality. A successful person in the marketplace may be rewarded richly for being controlling, yet be baffled that the same controlling behavior backfires miserably at home, or in one's social life.
At work, the capacity to be in control can make one appear competent and accomplished. It can be seen as a leadership quality and bolster one's sense of power. Yet one can base too much of their self-esteem in this sort of external bolstering and it can lead to an unbalanced life.
The term "workaholic" is a catch-all word for this sort of controlling person. Workaholism is insidious. If you are reading this you probably know someone who fits the description. The need to control one's personal relationships as though they were business relationships simply does not work.
Awareness of one's need to control is the first step to changing the pattern. Shifting one's pattern happens when this awareness seeps into other areas of one's life. One can begin to exchange time at work with personal time. Investing in friends, activities outside work and family can allow one to start feeling more human again.
The habit of being controlling can be hard to overcome. Often, seeking outside support is recommended.
Warm Regards, Cheryl Deaner, LMFT 36764
In this New Year, right now, all things are possible. So why not prepare ourselves for a revelation? A revelation is defined as a new disclosure, especially one with surprising or valuable information.
A new year gives us a moment to look up, to see the world anew, to invite new intention and blessings. Is is a time to let go of the woes that stifle insight and new meanings.
If you want to know what you should do, or to set a new goal, or see things in a different light, be on the lookout for revelation, which always lives in the present moment. Never give up hope that more will be revealed.
Happy New Year,
Cheryl Deaner, LMFT
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost