Mental health

Learning how to push the pause button

We live in a fast paced world where instant gratification is king. Self centered, ego driven and demanding people seem to be all over the place. There is a major lack of empathy and compassion in today’s cruel world and our culture is paying the price. I for one truly worry about the next generation and the harm on our human connection. Technology has influenced our society in many positive ways yet it’s the negative impact that terrifies me. We hardly speak on the phone any longer with each other. When was the last time you received a hand written letter? Most people walk down the street staring into a screen. The worst example is being out at a social gathering and nobody is talking to each other because everybody is preoccupied with their cell. Don’t even get me started on family dinners with my teens!

We are moving away from an important part of life. Learning how to develop and maintain close personal relationships is under attack and ironically enough, we humans invented it! Out of convenience the precious time spent interacting with each other has become fewer and far between. I feel so many of us have learned to separate ourselves from emotions for time’s sake. Ending relationships by text shouldn’t become acceptable because feelings are messy. If I read an email that I disagree with or am hurt by, I can quickly react and write one back before really thinking through the consequences before hitting that send button. It’s that knee jerk reactionary response to so much in life when it comes to our interactions that is causing undue stress and pain.

There is a big difference between these two actions. Responding to something or reacting to it are choices that can have large and damaging repercussions. I have explored this idea in my own life for the last few years. I made it a priority in all my interactions but most importantly with myself and how I treated me. Of course it will never be perfect but it’s become one of my works in progress. By learning to push that invisible pause button, imagine how much different outcomes in a wide range of situations could be! You get a mean text and instead of reacting to it, you thoughtfully respond. Not two seconds later either, you consciously decide to allow for some space between your thoughts, feelings and actions (whether or not to respond or react). Too many of us purely react to everything in life. We look at everything as though the entire world is against us and we must always be on the defense. Is that mindset allowing for space? How well does that serve us not only as a society but in our individual lives? These are some of the questions I ask myself.

When I encounter a difficult person or situation in life it’s easy to react to them and doesn’t require much thought, looking at it soley from the emotional side. If I can shift my thinking, push the pause button and allow for some space (even 15 seconds) imagine what my response can be?! Putting these ideas into actual practice helps them become more automatic. I have a tendency to act impulsively so this was a challenge for me at first. When I shifted my thinking to decide what was more instinctive to my nature, a loving response or a hateful reaction that’s what made all the difference.

In the end it’s all about staying true to onesef. I must decide to respond or react by what I value in myself. I refuse to take on what others want to impress upon me based on their own scewed perceptions. We are so caught up in the judgements of others that our minds start agreeing with them! Mostly I choose to respond to life in a kind and gentle way. Yes, when I’m met with anger and hatred it would be easy to react with more of the same but ultimately that doesn’t make me feel really good. I end up with regrets, nobody wins and especially learns anything from that kind of interaction.

More of us need to push that pause button. Respond with empathy and react with loving compassion. These are the human qualities that are virtually disappearing from too many around us. I hope you can find your pause button and allow for some space. The next generation is watching. This is a poem inspired by the concept of space.

Consciousness, Spirituality

A peek into my inner child

I have been involved in some type of therapy since age 7. This year I will turn 41 years old, needless to say, I’m well versed in all things psychology related. A few of my therapists have even admitted to me that they felt I was more qualified and knowledgeable than they were on certain topics. My major in college started out in psychology but I switched to humanities and later sociology. My main focus and curiosity in life has always been very analytical in regards to myself and the human condition in general. What makes us tick? What is the root cause for an emotion or behavior? I have been fascinated by others around me for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my curiosity and burning desire for the truth has led me down some unpleasant paths. Mostly I am in awe of the human brain, our psyche’ s and interaction with one another.

If you have been reading my two blogs thus far, you can probably draw conclusions has to why I am so preoccupied by humanity. For my new readers, I will tell you the two major influences are first and foremost my family of origin’s pathology, my dysfunctional and traumatic upbringing. Second is my own life as a physical and intuitive empath. These two aspects of who I am have been my ruling forces and have always guided my way. My journey into self awareness started very young because I was constantly being bombarded with thoughts and feelings I instinctively knew were not always my own. I devoured books on subjects including psychology, new age metaphysics, different world religions, different social sciences and even neuroplasticity. Discovering the answers and uncovering the truth were my goals. Three years ago I embarked upon a path on my journey that would lead me inside all of it and most importantly reconnect me to myself; inner child work.

Just another layer of the onion my therapist at the time reassured me. We had been having some very intense sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) when he asked me if I had ever done inner child work. Damn, I whispered to myself, it’s THAT time. I have brushed off and avoided that topic for too long and now was the time to dive in head first. I understand that our society forces us to repress our inner child and “grow up”. The truth is while most adults physically “grow up” they never quite reach emotional or psychological adulthood. This leaves us in a state of childish fears, angers and traumas that fester away in the unconscious mind for decades. Inner child work is the process of contacting, understanding, embracing and healing that original self who we represented when we first entered this world. It is our capacity to experience wonder, joy, innocence, sensitivity and playfulness. At that time my 37 year old self was completely disconnected from that original girl locked away inside.

My therapist guided me in a few exercises to start. First I was to have a chat with my little girl. Now was my opportunity to protect her and care for her like I never felt I had been. Telling myself, I love you, I hear you, I’m sorry and thank you felt silly at first. In time and with the aid of visualizations it became second nature and felt really rewarding. Many of my most intense emotional break throughs have happened as a result of this one exercise, absolute healing. Then I was to search for picrures of myself as a child to remind myself of what I looked like then, not only my appearance but my expressions representing that presence of innocense. Luckily for me, my mother took tons of photographs and I had many albums to remind me of that little girl. I was truly enthralled by the sight of myself and the feelings these pictures evoked in me. My therapist advised me to recreate what I loved to do when I was younger as another way to reconnect. I remember I loved splashing in puddles. The next rainy day I set out and did just that for hours! I also rediscovered MadLibs, as a child I loved creative writing. To my surprise, I really enjoyed creating those silly stories again! Another component for healing my inner child was to go through different visualization and meditation sequences that really helped me focus in on and reflect on what I was feeling at age 7 and 8. That was the age we targeted because that was when a lot around me became too overwhelming to process properly.

Further along down the path of healing, I was asked to write a letter to myself in the perspective of myself at the age I feel emotionally inside (which for me is 17) from the adult (present time) me with my other hand. I’m a right handed person so this would be done using my left hand. I can not express how much this letter helped me. It sounds so simple yet this one exercise left quite a profound impact on me. In that moment I was again bonded with my teenage self and my adult self was my hero. I’m getting emotional thinking about it and writing this.

In the years since putting myself on this path of healing my inner child, I write poems. This poem is an ode to that little girl inside me and how she reckons herself with the world today.