Monday, February 21, 2011

Why are you afraid?

Why are you afraid? Why do you panic? Why do you sink into depression?

If all we seek is an earthly answer to those questions, then all we get are a list of reasons or excuses for our misery and pain. But what if we look for a higher answer, then what do we learn?

My spiritual teacher, a man of great wisdom, and what always seemed to me to be a direct relationship with On High, once said,

"Your soul plunged downward to live in an earthly realm,
to enwrap herself in a body of flesh and blood, willingly and with purpose.
What emboldened her? What drew her to squeeze into the
straitjacket of time and space?
It was neither fear, nor dread, nor panic. It was the knowledge that
here below is a beauty the highest of angels cannot touch.
Care for yourself, for your family, for your fellow human beings and
our lovely planet earth, NOT out of fear, NOR from distress, but out
of love and awe for the beauty within that we came to discover."

So, go forth, and discover the beauty. Find the pathway that leads you out of fear, out of panic, out of depression.

Opportunity may be presented as something that knocks on our door, but the truth is that more often than not, we have to leave home for opportunity to find us. When I was single, Mr. Right never rode up to my apartment door on his white steed, knocked boldly, and said, "Hey, jump on, Cutie. I'm here to change your life!" Jobs never looked me up in the White Pages of the telephone directory and offered me huge sums of money to do what I knew how to do. Contentment never sent me an email inviting me to a champagne reception to shake the hand of Truth. And Truth, well, Truth has been elusive and seems to be found only by walking one's own path, which, it would seem, usually leads out of my home and out into the world. So, go forth, and live your life among others. Who knows what good will come your way when you intersect Good's path. Just a thought.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why am I here?

"Why am I here?" is a question frequently asked by patients, spiritual querents, and the deeply depressed.

Why am I here? The answer to that question unfolds throughout our life. It may not be very clear earlier in life, but as the years add up and one's perspective develops, it becomes easier and easier to understand our purpose in being. Take a good, long look at yourself: What do you see? What do you enjoy? What resonates within you? What are your gifts? When you have the answers to those questions, then it is time to put the answers to good use. How you apply your gifts is probably your purpose.

Why are you the way that you are? Short and sweet, God made YOU this way because God needs you to be this way. No one else can do what God needs YOU to do. So, go! Do it!

If we are made in God's image, why does God need so many images? I don't know, but, maybe, it could be because each of us reflects a different aspect of God. So, go! Reflect!

How can we each have our own unique gifts? How can there be that many gifts? For all I know, there may be a finite number of gifts, but how and where you apply them will be uniquely your own. So, go! Give!

How can we use our gifts in service to God? By giving our gifts to others.

How can we use our gifts to bring meaning and purpose into our life? By giving our gifts in a spirit of gratitude.

How can we feel like a part of the human race? By giving our Self to others.

How can we feel like we belong? By giving our Self to our purpose.

How can we get over depression? By stepping out of our self-imposed isolation, our loneliness, our aloneness, and our all-consuming self-loathing.

How do we do that? As it says on the back of the shampoo bottle: Repeat. Return to the beginning of this entry, read it, and then reread it. Repeat. Repeat until you get it. Then go out there and join the human race. You deserve to belong. Just a thought.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Change your attitude, change your life

Too often, we focus on the bad stuff in life, or the stuff we cannot control. How many times in a day, in a week, in a lifetime, do good things actually occur? And how often do we walk right by the good stuff and not see it or feel it? How often do YOU focus on the hurtful words or deeds, the painful memories, the disappointments, the loves lost, and the suffering, but you don't notice when good stuff is actually happening?

Am I asking you to be a PollyAnna or to make lemonade out of lemons? No. I'm just asking you to write down every big and little thing that happens this week that was GOOD. NOTICE THE GOOD STUFF. Notice the things that you enjoy, or feel good about, or that enhance your self-esteem, or that you were so pleasantly and happily engaged with that you lost track of time. And, then, take a moment to feel grateful. Why? To increase your level of attention to the good details of your life.

As you change your attitude toward your own life, and what is happening in it, YOU will find that your life is actually changing. Yes, just by changing your attitude, you can change your life. I invite you to give it a try. Spend the next week noticing what is actually going right and you may be surprised at how good your life really is. Just a thought.

Remember: the sky may be the limit, but time is limited.

I love the start of a new year because it is ripe with potential. However, it is up to me to fulfill its promise. Granted, my 2011 appointment book was filled with recurring engagements even before the end of October 2010. There were all the usual items, e.g., appointments with patients, meetings, personal holidays, but the rest of the time was wide open and ready to be filled.

I'm sure we've all experienced the reality that if we stand still, we get run over---run over by time, run over by competitors, or run over by our own fears. I've never been much for standing still: there is still too much to learn, too much to experience, and too much to teach, before I will have no choice in whether or not I stand still. None of us knows when, or if, we will develop a progressive disease, a neurological condition, or when that "thing" that we already have may advance and stop us in our tracks. So, while I can still make a difference within my sphere of influence, I am. While I can still learn, I will. And while I can still teach, I do.

It is with the above in mind, that I have decided to pursue national certification in trauma and dissociation. As my patients know, many years ago I earned national certification in thanatology (death, dying, and bereavement), and that continues to be an area of treatment in which I specialize. Since I began my career in the field of psychology 35+ years ago, as the executive director of a rape crisis center and a victims' advocate, trauma has played a very big part in my career. It feels like the right time, once again, to commit to the certification process, and to make an investment in myself and my career as a practicing therapist. The courses and certification are offered by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and it is a year-long program. I'll keep you posted when I learn something new.

What will you do to invest in yourself this year? Charitable work, a class for fun (cooking, art, archaeology, glass blowing), increased reading, enjoying a new hobby, taking a professional development course, or, or, or....???? Remember: the sky may be the limit, but, time is limited. So, what will you do with the time that you have remaining?