Posts Tagged ‘growth’

Psychscribe Quote #54

February 9, 2009

 

“I am not a has-been. I am a will be.” Lauren Bacall

 

Earlier photo:


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If I Had My Life to Live Over

February 7, 2009

 

This is a well known column by Erma Bombeck, a very popular writer who was syndicated back in the days before the internet and died in 1996.. (Yes children, there once was a world without it when people couldn’t live without their paper newspapers!) 

Anyway, I thought I’d post it for anyone in younger generations, or other countries, who missed it. Its quite wonderful, I think. Hope you will too. Its called “If I Had My Life to Live Over”.  She writes:

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love yous”..  more “I’m sorrys”…  but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it…live it…and never give it back.

by Erma Bombeck 

About Erma from Wikipedia: “Erma Louise Bombeck (February 211927 – April 221996), born Erma Fiste, was an Americanhumorist who achieved great popularity for hernewspaper column that described suburban home life humorously from the mid-1960s until the late ’90s. Bombeck also published 15 books, most of which became best-sellers.

From 1965 to 1996, Erma Bombeck wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns chronicling the ordinary life of a midwestern suburban housewife with broad, and sometimes eloquent, humor. By the 1970s, her witty columns were read, twice weekly, by thirty million readers of 900 newspapers of theU.S. and Canada.”

Psychscribe Quote #52

January 18, 2009

 

 

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“Nothing worth knowing can be taught”  Oscar Wilde


If I Were To Die Today (Part 3- Relationship with Self))

December 19, 2008

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Image copyright Jupiter Images 2008

Myself? I’m happy with who I am and what I’ve done in this life.  It took me a long time to grow up. Very long. Through one marriage and into the second, where I finally, finally grew my wings. (Thank to the snuggy, supportive nest my Alph made for me.)

I went back to college  pregnant with my second child and delivered her between semesters. Twenty five years later that child became my colleague and partner in our  psychotherapy practice. Imagine that?!! The joy I feel from this is beyond measure or description.  But more than that, I love that we are able to give our services to those who cannot afford it.  Kind of like Robin Hood. We get the max from our affluent clients and give it back, time wise, to our less fortunate ones.

I’ve learned to enjoy fun. I never played at all until a few years ago when I looked at some application which asked me to list my hobbies. I didn’t have any. For me, an A type, learning, seminars, learning, work were all I ever wanted to do.  (Tightly held secret: we shrinks rarely apply to ourselves the very things we try to teach our clients.)  It so bothered me that I thought: what have I always wanted to try? For me?  That turned out to be decoupage. Hours and hours of learning how to do it, but playing, enjoying the process, the creativity. Creativity had always been what sustains me, but I’d put it aside in my quest for achievement. Now I’m making jewelry. Another joy in the process. If my efforts produce lovely results, great! If not, I still had fun.  I’m also  waiting for my new camera to arrive (thank you, Amber, for putting the bug in me!) because I’m longing to express myself by capturing the other love of my life: nature.

If I should die today, my career goals would have been accomplished. I would die knowing  that I became the therapist I always wanted to be, who  helped a lot of people. The ones whose heartfelt thanks cannot begin to be measured and who I will never, ever forget. The ones who trusted me with their pain and their wounds, who inspired me with their courage, and who taught me so much. 

Have I become the woman I wanted to be? Well that, too, was an evolving process.  First I wanted to be a homemaker and stay at home mom. When that changed and I wanted to get an education and a career, the trouble started in my first marriage. That’s not what he signed on for. And in all fairness, that’s not what I’d originally agreed to.  We were so young. We just couldn’t navigate these choppy waters. We were only 21 when we married for goodness sake! Babies! What did we know about relationships? Giving?Flexibility? Growth and change? Nothing. Nothing at all.

It was a very painful divorce. Volatile, yet so sad. But as Carol Burnett once said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 

My onset of lupus and subsequent stroke have actually been blessings too. Not a life lesson I would  have chosen, but they were not exactly electives in the school of my life.  I’ve had to learn to rely on others which has been a humbling experience. A giver all my life (parentified child) it has been hard to learn to receive. Also…very nice…and quite beautiful.  And, of course, having come so close to death, I’ve learned to appreciate every moment of every day, and to thank God for the gift of my life. 

I read somewhere once that we’re bound by our fate only as long as we accept the values that determine it. I never forgot that. In fact, reading that, and getting it, is probably what changed my life. I got rid of my culturally imposed role of what a woman should be, and I learned to define myself. My self. MY self.  

I learned that personal authenticity is my primary value, and always will be. 

So if I should die today, I would die happy with my journey. Happy that I died as ME.

Psychscribe Quote #45

November 8, 2008

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C. FreeFoto.com 2008    


“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Buckminster Fuller

 

Psychscribe Quote #5a

December 7, 2007

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’. Author Unkown

Psychscribe Quote # 4

December 6, 2007

“He not busy being born is busy dying.” Bob Dylan

Child crouched behind a wall

November 29, 2007

Hidden, though  she  wants to be  found.

Silent, though  she wants to scream.

Choking on her own  fear and

blind to the hand held out to her.

Women and Self Esteem

November 20, 2007

What do you like about yourself? Are you proud of yourself? If these questions make you feel uncomfortable, or you cannot answer them, chances are that you have a problem with self esteem. Why is that? Why do so many of us basically dislike ourselves? Why are we embarrassed to “esteem” ourselves?

Before answering this question, we must first define self-esteem. Self esteem comes from the inside out. It means that a woman is not dependent upon anyone else to make her feel good about herself, because she already knows she’s fine just the way she is. She is confident and aware of her strengths and abilities. She wants to share them with others.

This does not mean she is conceited. She is also aware of areas needing work and growth. But that’s ok, because she knows she’s not perfect, and she doesn’t have to be. No one is. She understands that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

Self-esteem is a core identity issue, essential to personal validation and our ability to experience joy. Once achieved, it comes from the inside out. But it is assaulted or stunted from the outside in. A woman with low self-esteem does not feel good about herself because she has absorbed negative messages about women from the culture and/or relationships.

The reign of youth, beauty and thinness in our society dooms every woman to eventual failure. Women’s magazines, starting with the teenage market, program them to focus all their efforts on their appearance. Many girls learn, by age 12, to drop formerly enjoyable activities in favor of the beauty treadmill leading to nowhere. They become fanatical about diets. They munch, like rabbits, on leaves without salad dressing, jog in ice storms, and swear they love it! Ads abound for cosmetic surgery, enticing us to “repair” our aging bodies, as if the natural process of aging were an accident or a disease. Yet with all this effort, they still never feel like they are good enough.

How can they? Anorexic magazine models are airbrushed to perfection. “Beautiful” movie stars are whipped into perfect shape by personal trainers, and use surgery to create an unnatural cultural ideal. But youth cannot last. It is not meant to. If women buy into this image of beauty, then the best an older woman can strive for is looking “good for her age” or worse yet, “well preserved”. Mummies are well preserved. Mummies are also dead.

Abusive experiences join with cultural messages to assault female self esteem. Abuse is pervasive and cuts across all socioeconomic lines. It invariably sends the message that the victim is worthless. Many, many women have told me that verbal abuse has hurt them far more than any physical act. As one woman put it, “his words scarred my soul”. Women whose abuse started as children have the most fragile sense of identity and self worth.

Poor self esteem often results in depression and anxiety. Physical health suffers as well. Many times, women with this problem don’t go for regular checkups, exercise, or take personal days because they really don’t think they’re worth the time.

Relationships are impacted as well. Their needs are not met by their partner because they feel like they don’t deserve to have them met, or are uncomfortable asking. Their relationships with children can suffer if they are unable to discipline effectively, set limits, or demand the respect they deserve. Worse yet, low self-esteem passes from mother to daughter.The mother is modeling what a woman is. She is also modeling, for her sons, what a wife is.

In the workplace, women with low self-esteem tend to be self-deprecating, to minimize their accomplishments, or let others take credit for their work. They never move up. Finally, with friends, they are unable to say no. They end up doing favors they don’t want to do, or have any time for. They end up going where they don’t want to go, with people they don’t want to go with! A woman with low self-esteem has no control over her life. But that can change. These women can get help and emotional healing.

It is criticial to remember that no one deserves to be abused. If something bad has happened to you, it does not mean there is something wrong with you. The responsibility for the abuse lies with the person who chooses to hurt you. If you are presently being abused, you must put yours and your children’s safefy first. If you think you are in danger, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can choose your own identity. You can discard the popular cultural image and replace it with something real. As I read someplace once, “We are bound by our fate only as long as we accept the values that determine it.”

Nobody is perfect, but everyone is worthwhile. Believe in yourself.

What is Normal Sexuality in Marriage?

November 19, 2007

What Is Normal Sexuality in Marriage?

Everyone wonders about this. Do our friends “do it” more often than we do? Does anyone else have this problem where one partner has high desire, and the other one has little to none? We must be really weird. Everyone wants sex, don’t they?

The answer is no. Not really. More than 40 million Americans feel stuck in low-sex or no sex marriages. Research studies tell us that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men reported little to no sexual desire. Sometime in a marriage more than 50% of couples experience one or both partners with little to no sexual desire.

Desire problems are the most frequent complaint of couples entering sex therapy. They are also often the unspoken complaint of couples entering relationship therapy.

In our sex saturated culture, this particular difficulty has a stigma.  It’s ok to admit to having a drug problem or mood disorder. But a sexual problem? No way! We’re all supposed to be sexual superstars in our intimate relationships, aren’t we?

Actually, sexual anxieties, inhibitions, and problems are the norm. We’re afraid of not doing it “right”, like in movies and books. “Right” would be intercourse, with both parties craving each other all the time and having simultaneous orgasms every time they’re intimate.

Wrong! Healthy sexuality means giving and receiving touch that is pleasurable. It is not goal oriented, but process oriented. (The journey, not the destination.) It allows both partners to enjoy pleasure. It varies. Sometimes one or both has an orgasm. Sometimes not. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is not caring about yours or your partner’s needs.

There are many possible reasons for a discrepancy in desire between partners. The first is biological. As I mentioned in the statistics above, more than twice as many women than men have problems with sexual desire. This is because after the infatuation phase of the relationship, when hormones are running rampant, things settle down to natural biological rhythms. And biologically speaking, whoever has the most testosterone usually has the most desire.

Hmmm…. I wonder which gender that is!

Other reasons relevant to both genders are performance anxiety, emotional pain in the relationship, coerced intimacy, sex used as a bartering tool, lack of time, lack of energy, and fear of intimacy to name a few. These can be helped with an understanding therapist.

What you should do: first get complete medical exams to rule out any type of disease or medication causing the problem.

What you can do: see a relationship expert or sex therapist who can help you experience the pleasure and joy of intimate connection. You deserve no less.

Two Winners, No Losers This Morning

November 18, 2007

My husband gave me the perfect opportunity to practice what I preach. I’m taking a two day seminar in NYC which he drove me to yesterday. He’s a nice guy that way.  He loves to do things for me. This morning he had other plans for the day,  but had still planned on dropping me off again this morning and getting back on time to pick me up at 5:30.  No problem, I said. I can drive myself in. He of course jumped on this because what a pain in the neck to have to cut his day short, right?

Here’s where the therapist had to walk the talk. I asked him to just write down the directions for me. That’s all I asked. Write down the directions. He got all cranky about that and frankly, I didn’t like his tone while he wrote them down and read them out loud to me. I could have called him out on this. I could have gotten reactive.  But I stopped myself and thought, I wonder what’s going on for him that he’s acting this way?

Since this man is the love of my life, I’d say I know him pretty well.  I realized very quickly that he was angry because he felt bad that he wasn’t driving me in again.  He worries about me when I drive into the city. I might get lost, or hurt or something.  He was angry because he wanted to be protective…. because he loves me. And also because he feels like its his job, 24/7. Again, that’s just the kind of guy he is.  

So instead of challenging him per my impulse, I went over and gave him a big hug. I told him what I’d realized and asked if I was right. Boy was I! He laughed a LOT, delighted that I know him so well (we all love to be known, don’t we?). So a potential fight ended up in laughter and a hug.

The only thing is, I hope I don’t get lost.

Couples: Its Not About Who Wins

November 18, 2007

I see this so much in my office- couples wanting to re-hash a week old argument and wanting me to judge who’s right. Detail by detail they correct each other, exactly who said what, who did what first, as if each admitted detail is a score toward the finish line.

But nobody really gets anywhere because there are no winners in an argument between partners. If there’s a winner that means there’s a loser, which means the winner loses too. Losers don’t like winners very much. 

Relationships are not about opponents or gladiators. They’re about loving your lover.

When you love you give the gifts of empathy and the benefit of the doubt. You understand that your partner is probably feeling hurt beneath the anger. You try to understand and ask for help in understanding because you want to make it better.

When you are loved you receive the gifts of empathy and the benefit of the doubt. You feel understood and appreciate the empathy and efforts of your partner.

The more you are given, the more you receive. The more you receive, the more you want to give.

It becomes a lot easier than the win thing.

What was your relationship defining moment?

November 17, 2007

Couples have an identity and therefore defining moments, just as individuals do.  A defining moment with my husband of 20 years took me, recently, totally by surprise. I  was going through the blues about the loss of my youth and youthful appearance. (Even therapists get the blues.)  He said, ” Well I think you’re still beautiful. More now than before. Because when I look at you I see all  of you … how you looked when I first met you, and how you looked over the passing years, and how you look now…like layer upon layer….all of you as one…”  I fell in love with him all over again in that moment, and I  believe it had to happen in order for our relationship to deepen to where we are now.

Funeral Procession Defining Moment from NinjaRyder

November 16, 2007

“I was driving back to my old apartment one afternoon and I had lived one block away from a church. That day I was stopped as a funeral procession exited. I waited and watched the cars go by, trying to see the kinds of people who were a part of this. However, the procession never stopped. I saw every kind of person imaginable.

I was probably there for a good seven minutes and I started to get a chill down my spine at the length of this procession. I felt this surge through me and I had a “defining moment.” I wanted that to be me! Not to pass on, but to have known and touched that many people in my life.

Ever since then I have had this drive to want to help people and I am making the time to have that happen. I’m becoming more social and more outgoing. I do volunteer work and donate to charities I believe in. I know the names of my neighbors. And I want this to increase as my life continues. I want to be an outstanding member of my community. I want to change things.

So at my eulogy? I don’t think it matters so much what they say, but how the people who are there remember how I personally affected them.”

NinjaRyder
November 16, 2007

A Reader’s Hot Sand Defining Moment

November 16, 2007

“It’s taken some time but I think I’ve finally decided what was the first defining moment in my life. When I was little, every summer my family would rent a house at the beach. One morning when my father, sister and I were headed onto the beach, the sun was so hot it made the sand too hot for me to step on. I told my dad and sister this but unfortunately they didn’t think the sand was hot so they kept walking towards the water. I was stuck. I wanted to swim but did not want the hot sand to burn my feet. I stood on the deck for a few minutes trying to think of what to do. I finally figured out that I could slide my feet through the sand so they would not have to touch the top part of the sand that was so hot from the sun beating on it. This is my first defining moment because it was the first time in my life I had to figure out how to handle a situation without anyone else’s help. While it seems like a silly childhood memory, when faced with challenges in my life I often remember this moment and it helps me think of how to face the challenge without ‘burning my feet’. ” Written by Cheryl in a previous comment.

The Guilt Monster

November 14, 2007

Its a nasty little creature  but it does have a good  purpose.  Assuming you’re not a sociopath  you know what it feels like. We all do.  Who hasn’t done something wrong in this life and felt awful about it? We’re supposed to feel bad when we do something bad…. The healthy feeling of guilt prods us into making amends.  For example, you’ve had a lousy week at work and realize you’ve been very cranky  to your Person ( I happen to like this word much better than “significant other”. Its shorter and …well…more personal.) So when you realize this, and feel appropriately guilty, you apologize. Hopefully you have a healthy enough relationship that your Person accepts the apology and you’re both done with feeling offended and feeling guilty. And you move on.

But there’s another kind of guilt where the guilt creature turns into a monster that rules your life…not the kind that prods you to make amends, but the kind that takes over your life and relationships. A logical, cognitive solution that helps some of my clients, and maybe will help you, is this:

Imagine yourself in a court of law, where your guilt must be proven so that appropriate punishment, or amends, can be decided.  You’re the defendant representing yourself because no honest attorney worth their salt would represent you in this case.

Judge Judy, who has moved up to a higher court in her career (no I’ve never watched her in my entire life and I don’t feel guilty lying about this either) :  Ok, so its the State vs. You. What exactly is the crime we’re trying?

You (possibly stuttering at this point!): Uh, not a crime…..I just feel really guilty….

Judge Judy: Where’s your lawyer?

You: I couldn’t find one to defend me.

Judge Judy: Well why not? That tells me already that no one even thought you had a case.

You: Well….my therapist told me to come.

Judge Judy, rubbing her eyes: Oh my dear God,  why do therapists always send their clients to me? Do I look like a therapist????  What crime does your therapist think you commited?

You: Well….nothing…that’s why she told me to come here.

Judge Judy:  Fine.  So she wants me to do her work?

You: Well, actually I think  she wants me to do the work….

Judge Judy with a flamboyant  sigh : Ok, lets get on with this.  What crime do you think you committed?

You: Well, not a crime, exactly….I just feel guilty about….everything….

Judge Judy:  Could you give me an example?

You: Well, my son is unhappy a lot…actually he’s depressed…so I feel guilty all the time for being a terrible mother.

Judge Judy with confusion on her face: How old is your son?

You: 25.

Judge Judy (sighing and with even more confusion on her face) :  Ok…so….what exactly is the crime that I should convict you of?

You: Well, I didn’t say I committed a crime.

Judge Judy: But you did  say you feel guilty. Guilt by definition indicates wrongdoing of some kind.  What did you do wrong?

You: Well….I’m not exactly sure….but I must have done something wrong to be feeling so guilty.   If I’d been a good mother maybe he would’ve turned out happier.

Judge Judy: Did you take algebra in school? From what I’m hearing, a + b is not equal to c here.

You: Excuse me?

Judge Judy:  You have not convinced me with any logic at all that you are guilty of anything. Feelings do not necessarily imply cause and effect. What has your son  chosen to do about his depression? Does he see a therapist? Is he on medication?

You: No….

Judge Judy: Why not?

You: He  just….won’t….he flatly refuses.

Judge Judy: Are you supportive? Do you love him?

You: Of course!

Judge Judy: So what are you guilty of?  (She raises her hand in the air, to stop any possible interruption). And please don’t tell me about his childhood stuff.  That’s your stuff you’re consumed with here, not his. He’s a man now and its his choice how to deal , or not deal with,  the effects of his childhood. Did you do the best that you knew how when you raised him? Have you apologized  for any serious mistakes you made?

You: Yes! But if I could, I’d go back and do things differently now….

Judge Judy: Wouldn’t we all…thus the old saying “if I knew then what I know now”….But you have not convinced me of any crime worth the guilt you’re carrying on our back like a boulder. What was your crime? What should I convict you of?

You: I could’ve been a better mother.

Judge Judy:   I cannot convict you of youth and imperfection. Would you convict a mother of that?

You: No…

Judge Judy: Then what are you guilty of?

You: Nothing….

Judge Judy: Whose responsibility is it for your son to get help?  Can you pick him up and carry him into a therapist’s office? Can he still fit into a car seat? How big is he?

You: Too big (and now the light dawns…)

You grab Judge Judy’s gavel and slam it yourself.  Case dismissed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So think about it…if you will….and tell me….of what crime have you convicted yourself?

At the end of the day, at the end of your life…

November 13, 2007

How would you like to have yourself described in your eulogy? What do you want people to remember that you did?  (An authentic eulogy, not the kind that’s so generic you know the officiant pulled it out of a drawer because no one could think of anything nice to say!) I do not lay claim to the originality of this question. We therapist folks often use it to get people thinking.  Because when you think about the answers to these questions, you begin to define yourself as you’d like to be. And it becomes possible to begin new defining moments as you redefine yourself.

So how do we define ourselves?

November 12, 2007

We have so many roles, personally, professionally, relationally.  Do we define ourselves by some of these, a combination of these, or something else at our core?

Think about it…if you will…and tell me what you think.

Do you feel guilty saying no?

November 9, 2007

A defining moment for me was when I learned the secret. I overheard a woman I admired, a former boss, responding to a request for her time  with the phrase “that’s not gonna work for me”.  She didn’t make up a million excuses for giving her time.   She didn’t recite a list of activities that would prevent her from doing what someone had asked.  What a beautifully honest response. Maybe it wasn’t gonna work because she’d planned to spend her time staying in with a good book that night.   Think about how important your time is. Your sands in your hourglass. 

It was a defining moment for me because until then I didn’t know how to say no.  I didn’t know how to set a boundary between my needs and wants and those of others.  It was a big moment on my journey to define myself.

I know we hear the phrase a lot. Its no longer original.  (Though in my opinion whoever first said it and set it in motion deserves an award of some kind.)  But its usually used when two people in the business or professional world have their schedules in front of them and are trying to arrive at a mutually agreeable appointment.  In the personal realm its a different story. At least, according to what I hear in my office. I hear way too many people telling me they went somewhere they didn’t want to go ,with someone they didn’t want to go with.  When asked why, they will sheepishly tell me they feel guilty to say no to just about any request.  

The guilt thing is something else again. Another post for another day.  All I can tell you is when I coach people to begin to use this simple  phrase in their personal lives, they see it really works for them. Because usually there is some family member who is accustomed to arguing or debating or insisting that they do something according to their agenda.  This phrase stops them dead in their tracks. How can any reasonable person argue it? Ah, but so and so is beyond, beyond  unreasonable, you think? All you have to do is never veer off the “that’s not gonna work for me” path. Don’t explain or make excuses because then they’ve engaged you into your former pattern and before you know it you’ve given up more precious sands from your hourglass.  Once my clients learn to use this phrase  they feel happier, less stressed, and are on their way to defining themselves.

So now I’ve shared another defining moment. Please think about it and tell me, if you will, what was yours?

Jimiyo’s comment and my response

November 6, 2007

In his comment, Jimiyo writes of his struggle for personal authenticity. Always feeling like an artist, knowing he is an artist,  but also feeling forced to go corporate in order to make a living. He has many defining moments in his story, but the one that stands out for me, the snapshot from  his life movie that seems to be his first defining moment, is when he writes:

“Then my grandfather died.

Something about having someone relatively close to you die  makes you question your purpose in life. Soon after his death, on my 28th birthday, I looked around at the

sales office lit by the dull, buzzing fluorescent lights, listening to the chatter of sales pitches, the frustrated tones of rebuttals to all the repetitive common objections that

used to suck the life out of me.

I looked around.

My heart paced.

I wanted to vomit. “

This is what I mean by defining moment. After that, he pursues his soul’s longing without fear and in doing so defines himself, measuring his success by his own standards.   This is also an inspiring comment, and my first one, on my first blog. Thank you, Jimiyo.  Perhaps you’ve given me a defining moment here. I love who I’ve become, but there’s more…there’s more…there’s a writer who has remained silent for too long due to other defining moments….but God they’ve been great….