Tag Archives: Loving Kindness

Mental Wellness Week

Hello all! Thank you for your support, compassion and kind messages over the past week. Each one meant A LOT!

This is a week dedicated to mental health. Some people call it “Mental Illness Week”, others say “Mental Health Week”, but, you know me, I must be different and I choose to call it “Mental Wellness Week”.

Mental illnesses and mental health issues are so often at the forefront of conversations and in trying to get help out there to those whom need it the most.
Of course I support both of these conversation but I wonder what sort of world would we have in 20 years if mental wellness was taken seriously as well? Teaching our youngest children to our oldest senior how to better care for their mental wellness.

Rather than focusing solely on what to look for in society to point out the mentally ill person and help them before it is too late, what if we began to encourage positive mental wellness messages as well. How do you spot a person who takes excellent care of their own mental wellness? How do we take that model and teach it to those who’ve never understood or been taught how to or fell off the rails somehow?

A lesson such as compassion for oneself would radically change our world for the better. I know from my own journey and watching others going through the same journey that the people who are able to show compassion for themselves and can accept their humanness in all its glory and its gory are the same people whom are more able to extend compassion towards others.
I know for certain that I was a far more judgmental and harsh person when I had no compassion for myself. I didn’t have it for others either even though I thought that I did.
When I finally realized that I was just a human being with so many facets, I was able to start being more accepting of others as well.
Imagine a world where we show compassion towards ourselves and then for others. I can’t even think of how much that woudl change our world for the better.

And self-care. Remember being a teapot 2 weeks ago? The importance of keeping yourself full and taking care of your own needs so that you would have the ability to offer goodness from within yourself to others.
What if we began to teach children how important they are. Not due to any ability or level of cuteness but being a worthy human being just for being alive?
Could that child become a teenager that put their own needs for safety and wellness above the needs of a group? Could they make better choices about where to spend their time and who to give their time to if they only knew to put themselves before the boyfriend, girlfriend, groups or others?

Worthiness. Teaching people that they are worthy.
Worthy of a good life, worthy of safety and protection, worthy of being heard and believed, worthy of exactly what anyone else has emotionally…
Worthy even if they are not being taught that at home? How long could abuse last if the person being abused saw themselves of being absolutely worthy of a better life? Never blaming themselves or taking on responsibility for the other persons behaviour. Can you imagine?
Even as a very young child, knowing this one skill would have propelled me in to speaking out more and not stopping so quickly. If I’d known that I was worthy of better… wow.

There are so many life skills that we just do not often teach at home or at school. This is not done neglectfully. It is bypassed because most of today’s adults don’t know what mental wellness includes or how to go about getting it. I didn’t! As a parent, I never taught my children much at all about becoming or staying mentally healthy and well. I did not teach it to them because I hadn’t been taught it yet myself. This needs to change in my opinion.

Wouldn’t it be terrific to one day wake up and realize that we now lived in a happier world filled with people who really knew how to care for themselves and considered themselves worthy of such treatment?
Bullies woudl hold far less power.
Abusers would have a much harder time convincing someone that horrible treatment was deserved somehow.
Pedophiles would be at a huge disadvantage if there was no hidden need for them to prey on. Children would already feel special.

John Lennon sang “Imagine” so many years ago but I’d love to add to those lyrics. Just imagine a world where most people are mentally healthy and skilled while far fewer suffer mental illness because they can catch it when it starts and get help immediately rather than putting it off for days, weeks, or years.

imagine

A Healing Space

I know that it is not always easy to carve out your own space within your home for many reasons but I also know that without it, we suffer. It is easy within my home now with no children left at home and a whole house to fill. I have a bedroom, an office AND my art studio. I consider myself super fortunate and also realize we will downsize at some point and I will be back to trying to carve out a small space for myself.
I also remember having children at home, having a much smaller place (I raised my 3 children for several years in a 2 bedroom place with a shared kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry) and it can feel like nothing is yours. How often do you even get to have a shower without someone at the door (or in the shower with you)?

All that said? It is IMPORTANT to have a little corner just for yourself. A room is great but if that is not possible, take a corner. Each room has 4 corners so just pick one and let others know that this space is for you. I know you give everyone else their space right? We need to teach those around us to offer us the same. I did not do this when I should have and I felt very squashed for years. Nothing was really mine. I had no space just for myself. This was my own doing and I lived first hand with the damage this eventually causes us. I don’t even care if the space you choose for yourself is a rock out in a field… just so long as you choose a space for you and only you. Let others know that when you are in this space, you need a bit of quiet time.
In most homes, this request will be ignored at first so a lot of gentle reminders may be needed. Putting on headphones, closing your eyes and turning your back towards the world helps too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So what do you put in this space? Anything at all! Whatever makes you feel calmer or more at peace with yourself. For me that includes plants, rocks with special words on them, pretty pictures, my rocking chair and a cozy blanket, photographs of my grandmothers, quotes that I love, music… I don’t need a lot of space for these things. Just enough for a chair and some small shelves. Just arrange your special place with anything that brings you joy or offers you comfort.

A sweet friend of mine posted this picture on her blog a while ago and it is PERFECT for this blog today. It gives you a lot of visual ideas of things you could do as well.

Remember that you are important and need to treat yourself as such. โค

Healing

Shame vs. Guilt in Trauma

I love Brene Brown and I know many of you do as well. I am not positive if she was actually the first person to say this because I heard it long before she came along but it seems she is getting credit for it. Who am I to argue? This quote means a lot to me and a lot to my recovery. ShameI am sure you just read the quote but did you really allow it to sink in?

Trauma is a secret for many reasons but a big one that keeps so many people quiet is the shame we feel. I recall going in to hospital and telling my nurse what a gross, disgusting, pathetic, useless human being I was. I felt and believed that I was dirty and if anyone knew my secrets, they would find that out about me and feel that way too. I really believed that. Hook, line, and sinker.
Taking on personal responsibility for the things that had happened to me seemed right. I know I am not alone here. Not even close to alone. There is a huge percentage of the “trauma” population that carry personal guilt for things that they do not need to feel guilt over.

For me personally, it looked like this…
I should have told more people.
I should have reached out in another way.
I should have known better.
I should have run away.
I should have screamed.
I was weak.
I thought he/she loved me.
Sometimes I liked it.
I am just imagining these things.
I am gross.
I am not trustworthy.
If it really happened, I’d feel emotional about it.
I am nothing but a piece of cement. Cold and heartless.
I don’t cry therefore I must have wanted it in some way.
The list is endless but if it was negative and I could take it personally? I did.

It took me a long time to really understand that I did not own any of that shame. Even now that I know better, I still have times where I revert to that old thinking and question if it really was ME that was the problem. Honestly? After a rough week last week? I am questioning myself about it today. Don’t worry though. I know better in my head. My brain just needs a bit longer to get through to my heart. Hopefully one day I won’t even need a moment before that happens. I believe I can get there. Eventually.

Did I own the shame that I carried with me? Do you?
Did I cause the abuse? Did you?
Was I old enough or prepared to deal with what happened? Were you?
Am I the dirty, gross, disgusting one? Are you?

If you said yes to any of those? That is shame talking.
It is the voice of the abuser(s) revolving inside your head. Even if they never used those words, they are the ones that planted the seed in your heart saying that everything only happened because you wanted or deserved it in some way.
Shame is that part of you that says to yourself “I am wrong. I am unworthy. I am to blame. I am gross.” Shame is when you think to yourself that you are the one in the wrong. Without your gross self, this would have never happened.
But is that true?

If you and your shame were not in the picture, would that abuse not have happened? Would no other little girl, little boy, man or woman have been abused instead? Was it really YOU personally or was it a victim they wanted?
My abuse began at home and when either of your parents or any siblings are involved, It is hard to not take it personally but once again you need to ask yourself… if another baby boy or baby girl had been born, would they have fared any better? The answer is no.

Guilt is far easier to deal with in my opinion. Once you remove shame, guilt is just the stuff that you actually cause. Today. As an adult. Not something you did when you were knee-high to a grasshopper. Or worse? A teenager. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You have to let that crap go. You were a kid and kids do dumb things.

As an adult? We feel guilty and rightly so when we do harm to someone else. Telling lies, presenting yourself as someone you are not, stealing, cheating, being an arsehole, saying something hurtful… the list is long but if you are trying to be a good person, you will not be doing these things all the time. They will happen once in a while. You need to feel badly, admit that you feel badly, ask for forgiveness, and then allow yourself to move past it. Feeling guilty is a good thing during these times. It shows you and the world that you do not taking harming anyone in any way lightly That you are a good person despite your mess-ups which we all have.

A friend of mine posted this to Facebook while I was writing this and it is so good as an addition to this blog. Thanks Debbie!
Have a good Monday, a great week and try… try very hard to start putting shame where it belongs. Do you know where that is???
It belong on the person who caused the shame in the first place. The abuser. That is where it belongs.

Shame2

Pervasive Negative Thinking – Part 2

Hello all! I am sorry this did not get posted on Friday but as you saw last Monday, we are living in Puppyville right now and our new fur baby has kept us busy. He’s sleeping right now with his big sister so I have time to do the second part of this blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ A bit of cuteness first you say??? Oh, okay. If I must. He’s waving hello.
DSCN2947
Pervasive Negative Thinking Part 2. A few more suggestions. ๐Ÿ™‚

How about we start with being more compassionate with ourselves?
It is natural to have negative thoughts. No one is happy all the time. Daily ups and downs help make life better for us in the long run. Even the “bad” stuff can help us appreciate the good more or perhaps even learn a lesson that we otherwise would not have learned.
People who are in counselling who are able to acknowledge feeling both good and bad feelings make more positive changes than people who do not.

Suppressing negative thoughts can backfire. There was a study once where participants were told not to think about a white bear. Of course they thought about it almost constantly… and you are thinking about one right now aren’t you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ When a white bear is just there in a room and people are not told to ignore it, they hardly think about it at all.
If you have a good friend or are in therapy, make time to discuss some of your negative thoughts. Getting them outside of your head can help you move past them far quicker.

One quote that I love is by Tori Rodriguez.
“A thought is just a thought and a feeling is just a feeling.”
It sounds simple but we often give our power to our thoughts. We feel upset about a certain situation and we can react as though there is no other way to think about it. Like that thought owns you rather than the other way around.
Having a negative thought is normal and healthy. Putting a cape on it so it can fly around knocking everything all over the place is not.

Now here is a hard one. Let go of jealousy.
We all like to think that we are not jealous people but jealousy is insidious.
Our lives would be better if we were thinner, stronger, richer, better, prettier or more handsome, smarter, warmer, colder, healthier… Almost every one of us has at least one area where we look at others and think “If I was just _______, my life would be better or easier”. In truth? They are thinking the exact same thing but perhaps just a different topic. In Buddhism (which I follow), there are 4 “truths/levels”. The first one is that every single person suffers. This is the human condition. It is not a bad thing, it just ties us all together. No one has a perfect life no matter what they show on the outside.ย  Never compare yourself to anyone else. You do not know the full story… and they do not know yours.

How about a few easy suggestions? When you can’t shake those negative thoughts, take a walk, exercise in your favourite way, listen to upbeat music, distract yourself, or schedule some worry time in to each day.

Another technique. “Repeat after me…”
There is a technique called “cognitive diffusion”. If there is a word or phrase that you think to yourself far too often, repeat it over and over again for a couple of minutes. An example. What if I always call myself stupid? I would say “I’m stupid.” Over and over again for two minutes. At first it feels very real but by the end, it should have lost some of its power. If you need to do it one time or ten times, it doesn’t matter. Just repeat the technique until you feel the power within those words lose their grip.

Journal it. Writing a problem down can help you think less about it. Spending 20 minutes a day writing down your worries can significantly diffuse them. I actually calm down A LOT after I write something out. It feels like I get things sorted out better because I have to slow down to write.

This one might seem silly but it really works for some people.
Jot your problem on a piece of paper. Rip up the paper and throw it out. Toss that thought in the trash and leave it there. It it is a big thought that holds a lot of power? I like to write it down, scribble all over it, crumple it up and burn it (safely). Do what works for you.

Just remember this one last piece of advice…
Being negative is often due to many reasons. It probably took you a long time to find your thinking where it is now. Family, friends, circumstances…
For this reason, please be patient with yourself. Changing thinking takes time and practice. Be very forgiving of yourself and don’t quit.
I had a way of reacting to people who I really did not like about myself. I tried and tried to change it but that negative view held on. It actually took me several years to have it stop completely but I did notice small improvements along the way.ย  Giving up is the only way to lose at this.

Have a terrific week. Let me know if any of the suggestions help you.

Happy

Pervasive Negative Thinking

I was asked to do a blog on this several weeks ago and I know I used to be far more negative all the time but truthfully? Other than knowing I have a better handle on it now, I could not pinpoint what strategies have worked for me as they are blissfully just “normal” for me now. I’ve been paying more attention to this issue over the past few weeks so I could write this blog.

Pervasive negative thinking is more than just being a pessimist. It is more of a “black cloud” cast over everything and it can often leave you feeling depressed or hopeless. For many it can feel like the negative things in life just never stop, like you never really get a break. Sometimes this is reality for a while but when you go from one bad run to the next bad run, you just may be dealing with some pervasive negative thinking more than just bad luck.

I want to explain this well enough so that an occasional whine with cheese or pity party is looked at as normal. The difference is how you tend to look at things over the longer term. Pervasive negative thinking is not really about what happens to you, it is how you handle it or how you view it.

So let’s do a bit of work here today okay? To help ourselves with those negative thoughts that just seem to swirl around in our heads a little too often for our liking.

Lets start with some facts. I am a realist so facts are my favourite thing!
Did you know that 85% of what we worry about end up having a positive or a neutral outcome? 85%!!! So here we sit worrying about whatever we worry about and it will only come true or be a negative outcome 1.5 in 10 times. Holy crap right?
THEN! As if 85% wasn’t already good enough? If that 1.5 in 10 actually happens? 80% will say they handled it better than they thought they would.
I love facts but I love to be straight too…
All these numbers basically mean that we worry for nothing 85% of the time and then even when the poop DOES hit the fan? We handle it far better than we thought we could or would.
Isn’t that great to know?

Something that is also considered pervasive negative thought is when you just assume the worst will happen. Someone is late getting home and you automatically think they have been in a car accident and you have limbs all over the freeway in your mind. Go ahead and laugh now. I know that you know what I am talking about here.
Bad things do happen but not with the regularity that we expect them too.
When these thoughts come to your mind, come up with alternatives.
Perhaps traffic was bad? Maybe they stopped to get a lotto ticket? They could even just be an inconsiderate nincompoop that just couldn’t be bothered to call to tell you that they were going to stop for a beer after work with friends. You may not LIKE the alternative ideas but none of them include car accidents or limbs.

I love this next one. It is called “learned optimism”. The best part is that you can learn it. You don’t need to be born as one of those occasionally annoying “always happy” people. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You just pictured someone didn’t you! ๐Ÿ˜€
Back to my point. Learning optimism is done by taking the way you see a situation in a negative light and flipping it around to something more positive.
Let’s say you fail a test. We might be tempted to say we are stupid, should have studied more (even if we studied plenty), assume ourselves to be a failure and other negative conclusions.
The trick here is to stop taking things so personally. LOTS of people fail tests. They are not all a bunch of idiots. Many people study but still can not pass a test. Does this make them worthless? Hint: No, it doesn’t. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Most negative experiences are really just unlucky situations. It is not personal nor is it permanent.

Some people have a hard time with this one but I am telling you, it works. Rather than worrying about some future event and trying to just forget about it (like that ever works?), think about it. Really think about it.
Are you afraid that your house will burn down? Many people are. Not worrying won’t help you here so why not think about the worst then plan for it?
Go buy good fire detectors for every room. Change the batteries every time the clocks jump forward or fall back (every 6 months). Have fire extinguishers available in worrisome areas like your kitchen or workshop. Buy appliances with automatic shut off functions. Practice escape routes. You will not be able to stop every fire that happens to people or even yourself but if you are ready and have made plans for this just in case? You will be able to rest far easier.

I think I will finish up here for today. That is enough information. On Friday I will continue with another train of thought. How to dispute your thoughts. Everyone “loves” a good fight in their own head right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just remember… Most negative experiences are really just unlucky situations.
It is not personal nor is it permanent.

Here is a great word chart with some words to help you re-frame the way you see something. It has helped me. Replacing words

Blaming the Victim

There has been a huge news story about a town that is about 45 minutes away from me. A woman firefighter was being harassed and even exposed to pornographic video during a training session while surrounded by the otherwise male only fire department. This blog will not be solely about that case but it is where I wanted to start because the reaction of the locals in the area is sadly very normal. They have largely supported the perpetrators! Rallies to support the men, death threats to the female victim… I want to act shocked but I am not. This is the world that we live in.

My experience has been the same. Even as recently as two years ago. After exposing a family member who did me great harm and being totally willing to provide proof, my entire family turned against me. I was called a sociopath, my proof was never looked at or heard, I was accused of trying to ruin people’s lives and relationships… The person who did the harm and continues to do harm still sits at the family table on holidays, has regular contact with everyone including the children (I did call the authorities to try to protect the children). This person has never been called names or been accused of lying.
I don’t tell you this for sympathy. I tell you because this firefighter is not alone in being victimized and then being blamed for it.

As a society, what are we teaching each other when the victim can still be blamed for causing their abuse? I know that many of my readers will understand this blog from the inside out. I know that so many of you have been horribly hurt and then also used as the scapegoat. It is viewed as though YOU are the problem.

Someone gets raped. Society asks “What was she wearing? Was she drinking? What did she expect was going to happen?”.

A child opens up to an adult about being abused. Society is mortified if it is a story in the news about some unknown child but if that child is actually coming to them with that information??? It is with a very heavy heart that I tell you that most of society will not believe the child. They don’t want to get involved. The child must be looking for attention.

As an adult, men and women try to finally break their silence on childhood abuse but since these same people are now also dealing with mental health issued that were very often caused by that abuse? It is easy to look at the abuser and see them doing well in life but here is this mentally ill person saying that they were abused…
Who do you think gets believed more often than not?

I kept my silence for years because whenever I broke my silence, I was blamed. Now that I refuse to stay silent, guess who gets the blame?
“Didn’t you tell anyone?” I tried. I put myself in harm’s way for nothing.
“Why didn’t you run away?” Seriously? It started when I was still an infant. Run to where?
“Didn’t doctors/teachers/social workers find out or try to help you?” Red flags were raised so many times that I am sure a satellite over Ontario can see the red flags with the naked eye but did any of them ever take it far enough to actually help me? No.
“Didn’t you speak out when you were older?” Sure I did! I told a counsellor at school. I spent a whole afternoon with her. I felt heard and cared for. I thought she might actually be my way out… until I left her office and she called my mother to tell her that I’d been in her office weaving wild stories and I needed help.” Yes, I am serious!
I also know that I am not alone. I hear this story in different words time after time after time.

Even when we do take it “all the way”, it is such a waste of time. Several years ago, one of my children pressed charges against someone whom we had accepted in to our family. This abuse went on for almost 2 years and included other girls. At least 35 other girls. The proof was insurmountable and he was found guilty of 9 counts of sexual assault, 1 count of forcible confinement, and another count of uttering a death threat. Know what he got for that? ONE YEAR PROBATION.
… and I got his middle finger and a smile as he left the courthouse.

If a mature, married, well-spoken, respected firefighter gets death threats in 2016 for speaking up and making people face the crap they caused? What do you think women learn from that?ย  We learn to stay quiet.

I write this blog today because I want to offer another lesson.
Refuse to stay quiet. Refuse to allow others to shame you in to silence. You are not the one at fault here.
If you are in a good and stable place, stand up for yourself and do not back down. Even if no one believes you. There are people who do. They are just too afraid to admit it.
If you are in a vulnerable space but still wish to speak up? Do it anonymously or only to people whom you trust. Just do not allow that silence to smother you.

I no longer care who feels uncomfortable when I speak out. My silence allowed people to put me right back in to where I could be abused over and over again. Perhaps not as obviously but if you call someone a sociopath and refuse to even look at her proof then freeze her out of her family? That is abusive.

I have over 3,000 readers now so if the only thing we do today is refuse to allow others to blame a victim? Just one time? That will be over 3,000 stories that will be heard and believed. That story might even be your own… and I believe you. I will stand beside you. I will refuse to allow others to silence you.

What an amazing footprint we can have on the world if we each just affect one life. Your own or someone you know. Use the most powerful words that I have ever heard in my lifetime.
“I hear you and I believe you.”

Hear you

Karma

  • Karma – An action now becomes a future consequence.
  • Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve.
  • โ€œLife will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.โ€ Eckhart Tolle
  • โ€œKarma comes after everyone eventually. You can’t get away with screwing people over your whole life, I don’t care who you are. What goes around comes around. That’s how it works. Sooner or later the universe will serve you the revenge that you deserve.โ€ Jessica Brody
  • โ€œEven chance meetings are the result of karmaโ€ฆ Things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events thereโ€™s no such thing as coincidence.โ€ Haruki Murakami

I was having my usual wonderful Sunday morning chat with my good friend D. She asked if I believed that life happened to us as we think it. Remember that book “The Secret”? What you think, you become. That whole thing? I don’t but that led further in to a conversation that spoke of karma and getting what you deserve. I have no idea how most people take this whole idea and perhaps it is not triggering to most people at all. If you’ve had a decent life, is it comforting to think that you are getting back what you put out there?

Both D. and I are trauma survivors. Heavy duty childhood trauma compounded by events in adulthood as well. Karma to us seems horrible.
If the idea is that you get what you deserve, what on this earth did we ever do to deserve the lives we were handed? Lives that will likely never be completely free of PTSD or its affects. We can (and we have) improved A LOT and we keep working hard but the cards we were dealt were impossible to work with.

I remember telling someone many, many years ago a little about my mother and her kind response to me was “Karma’s a bi**h. She’ll get back what she gave one day.” Well… I felt comforted for all of 2 minutes until my mind said, “What did I do to deserve what I got?”. That thought took all the self blame, shame and guilt that already lived inside of me and just nailed the last nail in the coffin that I had been trying to escape from. I shut my mouth that day and never told one person about the total package of my mother again for over 30 years.

You see, as abuse survivors, we are filled with guilt as a way to keep us quiet. We are told that we wanted what we got. We were told that we deserved it and we caused it. In a way, we are being taught that we are being dealt the karma that we greatly deserve. If we were a better child, teenager or adult, who behaved properly and didn’t screw everything up all the time,ย  we would have had better lives.

For years I heard those messages about karma and allowed them to settle inside my soul. I believed the messages that were taught to me in an evil way then cemented in to me by well meaning people who were directing their words of karma towards the abusers but landed them flat on to me.

It was only 3 years ago that I learned that I did nothing to cause what happened to me. I learned that I could have never asked for it, wanted it, or screwed up enough to justify what was done to me. I was a child who grew in to a young adult that believed I didn’t deserve any better and abusers took advantage of that. If I’d never been blessed with a chance to truly begin to heal and recover, I’d still not know that I deserved better and I woudl still believe I was getting what was deserved. My karma.

And just for a moment, I want to take a look at my beliefs.
If someone did me harm, do I want them to be harmed?
When my mother dies, do I want her to come back in a new life (as some believe) and experienced what she put me through?
Do I really want to spend my life holding out hope that bad things will happen to bad people?
I don’t.

What do I want then if it isn’t karma?
I want the people who hurt me to see the error of their ways and stop what they are doing. I know that many did over the years. It can not take away what they did to me but it can hopefully be one step closer to it not happening to anyone else.
Do I want my mother to come back and live my life? Absolutely not! That would only mean one more generation of pain and hundreds more abusers out there. While I do have some days when she’s hurt me again (I have no contact at all with her but that has not prevented her poison to continuously seep out of her every pore) that I feel very vengeful, but within a day or two I am back to wishing that she would just stop. Just stop. That is all I want. I don’t want her to hurt the way that I have because that only perpetuates the cycle of abuse. I want her to stop torturing me but more than that? I just want the negativity to stop with her and never attach to me. I refuse to be that person. Negative, hateful, wishing karma… I just want it to stop.

If this blog today makes you think about karma, the negative message that it sends to the victims and the negativity that it perpetuates in this world, I hope that perhaps today you can try to find a way to let it stop where it is and never continue on with you.

Now for a more positive quote with a terrific message for all.

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