Left to Pick Up the Pieces

There can only be one thing more nightmarish than hell itself, and that is to lose a child to  suicide. Gut-wrenchingly sad and tragic that a young life is lost. Gut-wrenchingly sad and tragic that the person has felt such emptiness and despair. Gut-wrenchingly sad and tragic that someone could feel so lacking in hope, so consumed with mental pain and anguish that this was even considered an option. And yet for their own family, who are left somehow to pick up the pieces, the consequences of this act can be so viscerally devastating, it is akin to a nightmare without end. Is it a selfish/revengeful act? An aberrant impulse? A distorted  or dysfunctional thought?

Family 2013 268While the tortured soul focuses completely on their inner world, of thoughts and feelings, they fail to realise the contagion of misery and desperation will afterwards infect the rest of their closest allies, their own family or friends. How does one face the world and continue with life, after the loss of a close family member or child?

Many lives have ended here
Many lives have ended here

The strength humans display in the face of this kind of tragedy, is nothing short of awe-inspiring. To bury one’s own child is heart-breaking, but to experience a child who deliberately ends their lives is completely unfathomable. How do people get over such an act? How do they lift themselves out of the depths of  misery?

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And now, this week we have a man appear to conceal a mental illness and commit suicide on a German aircraft, taking 150 innocent lives with him. Not only that, but he has also taken his own family’s normal life and that of the victim’s families, on the path to a living hell, that is only just commencing. These people have to pick up the pieces of their own lives, and continue on, somehow.

Last week, a young boy from Australia drove a car filled with explosives into an army base, intending to cause maximum death and destruction and in the process, killing himself. A selfish act? A nutter? A kid with nothing to live for? A criminal? A sociopath?

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I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a magic solution. Perhaps there isn’t one.  Each case of suicide is different, and each individual is different. Every socio-economic group, every ethnicity can be affected – no one is immune. But it is cowardly and selfish. The most selfish act imaginable. Australia, the egalitarian vanguard, has the highest rates of youth suicide in the world.

And so Life cis a roller-coaster. It is unpredictable, full of hard times and challenges, and if you are so blessed, many good times too. For some of us, success doesn’t happen and when life becomes too overwhelming, we feel like quitting, or we might feel like ending the pain, yet there is always Hope, waiting, watching, willing us to believe that things will improve. There is always Hope.

Can we stop suicide?  What can  we do:

We can be there to comfort and support our loved ones and our fellow man and woman.

We can make an effort if others appear stressed or unhappy.

We can appreciate every moment we have with each other, no matter how bored, tired, hungry, frustrated we may be feeling.

We can encourage others to seek help and reassure them of our support.

We can speak up, without shame, to others, when need dictates. Secrets kill….

And We Can  Listen to each other!

Reach out to one another – There is always hope!

Take a break – and relax!

Every person is a child of the Universe and has every right to be here.

Remember, “Everything, like the weather, passes.”

A final word from Marc: Whatever you believe to be true about yourself and life in the long-term becomes your reality.  Your beliefs are ingrained patterns of thinking that you build up over a lifetime.  They are habitual ways of processing the world around you.  If those beliefs don’t work in your favor, you can change them.  How?  In the very same way the negative beliefs formed in the first place – via repetitive thoughts that you accepted to be the truth.  Ingrain new beliefs by consciously choosing and repeating messages that lift you up.

Something sobering to ponder about.

If you need help or wish to talk to someone:

beyondblue.org.au

kidshelp

Lifeline

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Is Life too Stressful? A Different Take on Handling Stress

There’s a lot of people in this world who feel ‘stressed.’ PicsArt camera app

Many of us have attended workshops titled ‘What is stress?’,  ‘How to handle stress’ etc. They offer basic  practical tips, but do they really address our underlying behaviours and motivation, or why we might react in this way?  With a little reading, I discovered a different way of looking at, and handling, stress.

Marc and Angel recently posted on their blog about the thinking processes behind one’s own personal feelings of stress.  They believe that ultimately it is one’s own behaviour, (not good luck or lack thereof), that impacts most, on whether a person feels happy and successful, or not.  By ‘behaviour’, Marc and Angel are referring to:

How you react under stress.  Whether you decide to meet your commitments or not.  How you communicate and interact with loved ones.  Your attitude toward bosses, colleagues, employees, and customers.  How hard you’re willing to work to do a job right.  Whether you’re focused and disciplined or scattered-brained and distracted.

Some people certainly have more than their share of bad luck; others may experience a lack of opportunity, in life, through circumstances totally out of their control, and this of course, will impact on their stress levels, and how their life pans out.  Others might manage to cope and even be successful for a time, muddling through, until the pressures in their personal, or professional lives build and boil over into feelings of STRESS. It is then they might find they react with self-destructive behaviors, or other actions that cause them even more personal grief. These behaviours often affect those closest to them in a very detrimental way. Do you recognize any of the commonly beliefs or behaviours that may trigger stress, outlined below?

Belief 1

“It is all too hard! I don’t have time”

Do you believe life is too hard for/on you?  Is it too hard to find time to exercise or get fit, resolve conflicts with loved ones, spend with your family, or follow-up on an opportunity? Marc and Angel believe that “You are where you are because of the choices you’ve made in the past.”  It really is just as easy to develop good habits as bad ones.

All of us make a choice to go online, watch TV, or spend time with the family; we also have the choice to work on a special project, go to the gym or further our education, and even the choice to show kindness and concern to those around us, just as much as we have the choice to sit, sleep in, or chill out and let things slide.

It takes around three full weeks to begin to develop a new habit and building a new habit, every day, IS hard work. However, hard work pays off and this has to be a personal choice one consciously makes, and that choice is relatively easy. It might be even easier for you to think that life has thrown you a curve ball and that this effectively prevents you having any choice in the matter. If you do happen to think this, ask yourself if you really want to put in the hard yards to effect real change in your life? Then hang in there for the three weeks, and see if it is easier to keep it going, after that. Develop a habit that will help you deal with your inner stress. Use a star chart/reward system or whatever works for you. The first day you miss, in those first three weeks, might break the whole habit, so hang in there and persist!!

Belief 2

“It’s Not My Fault” – Shifting the blame

When we consider our motives and those of others, we often look for who is at fault and this inadvertently causes stressful feelings in us, because we feel it is unfair/unjust. Some of us blame family, friends, parents, teachers, the education system, work bosses, even the government. Many times I have been guilty of this very thing, yet I like to believe I am the one who is in full control of how I choose to deal with my life! So how can I blame external people or things for taking the ‘responsibility’ for my personal actions? I can’t as I am the one with that responsibility. If I want to grow and move on with my life, I have to accept responsibility for the whole of my life, as the only person that can really do this is ME. This gives me choice and with it, the confidence to tackle life’s crises, as opposed to feeling stressed that everything negative that happens in my life, is completely out of my control.

 “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”  [Sigmund Freud]Don’t let this be you.

When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibilityyou surrender full power over that part of your life.  In reality, the price of happiness and success IS responsibility.  And no one else is responsible for you. [Marc and Angel]*Europe 2011second batch 016

 

Belief 3

People Can’t be Trusted

I know a few people who find it extremely hard to fully trust anyone. Of course, some level of discernment is a natural defense mechanism that we use to protect ourselves, but most successful people don’t assume that the world is out to ‘get’ them.  They are relatively trusting of others to do the right thing/task. In doing this, they build up a supportive community around them, by conveying trust by their words and actions.

Contrast this with someone who is suspicious and distrusting of others, who must do or verify everything themself. These are people who are full of negativity and this closes the door to any new friendships and possibilities. This belief causes loads of stress and physical fatigue, as they attempt to analyze the intentions of those they interact with, on a daily basis. This self-destructive behaviour, which they falsely believe will protect them, will in fact cause them anxiety and stress.

Trust grows trust. Distrust breeds suspicion. There  are many more good people than bad in this world. You are one of them.

Belief 4 

Others seem to Manage

Comparing our situation with other people’s, seems to not only elevate stress levels, but also makes us feel less competent, in an instant.

Marc and Angel explain this one better than I can:

Don’t let envy (or jealousy) get the best of you.  Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own – there’s nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior.  So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s.  Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.*

Belief 5

Expectations – they ‘should’ have …

Expectations breed disappointment and stress. Has anyone ever felt every expectation was fully met? I doubt it. Many conversations  I hear, revolve around working out why others around them have said, or did, this or that and what the others, in their opinion, should have done. These “shoulds” are statement that are difficult or near impossible to fulfill. Try not to have expectations of others. Rather, believe that most people are out there, trying to ‘be’ the best they can be, with what they have got, and with the information to hand, at that very moment in time.  It may not be right, we might not agree with it, but we cannot expect any more than this.

A Final Word

Life is Dynamic, full of change, drama and is often unpredictable. It can be scary, but the universe has a plan and it is always in motion. This is beautifully summed up by these wise words from Marc and Angel:

Some of the great moments in your life won’t necessarily be the things you do; they’ll be things that happen to you.  That doesn’t mean you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your life.  You have to take action, and you will.  But don’t forget that on any day, you can step out the front door and your whole life can change in an instant – for better or worse.  To an extent, the universe has a plan that’s always in motion.  A butterfly flaps its wings and it starts to rain – it’s a scary thought, but it’s part of life’s cycle.  All these little parts of the machine, constantly working – sometimes forcing you to struggle, and sometimes making sure you end up exactly in the right place at the right time.*

Questioning our underlying beliefs may assist in reducing the extent to which we feel stressed and this, in turn, may help us to modify those undesirable behaviours that can be destructive. Eliminating expectations and comparisons with others, might change how we ourselves react to stressful feelings, and gives us confidence to take responsibility for our own life. Developing new habits to deal with stress, takes persistence, but carries with it a multitude of benefits.IMG_9148

 

 

How we can handle Stress is Something to Ponder About

30 Day Book Challenge – Most thought-provoking book.

DAY 16 –

Endearing Love by Ian McEwan

This story is a surprising book about obsessional love and the actual psychiatric condition that underpinned the story added realism to the plotlines. It really make me think a lot about the mechanisms in the brain that trigger mental illness and those feelings and action that may not yet be classified as such, but have this same basis.

In this thought – provoking book, I found myself, as reader, really wanting the victim to mount an assertive response and understand he was contributing to the situation. I pondered how much this happened in reality. (After all, celebrities have, at times, contributed to their own stalking issues. For example: Agnetha Falskog from ABBA.

I was led to questioned his own sanity at one stage in the story as he delves into the criminal underworld for solutions to his problem. Had he really gone off the rails? Buckled under the constant pressure and stress?

This is a book that won’t grab your immediate attention, but once it has you in its grip, it won’t let go. I still think about some of the things that were said and discussed as well as the events that occurred in this book.

Something I will continue to ponder about.

Day 17 – An Author I wish People Would Read More

Do You Fit In? Anxiety, Emotions and Friends

Do you sometimes feel misunderstood, or like you just don’t fit in? Is socializing painful or something you avoid? Is mixing at a party or large group a torturous experience?

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If so, you could be suffering from social anxiety? People suffering with this are often introverted by nature and feel that they are constantly being judged negatively by everyone around them. As such, they find it difficult to make new friends or maintain relationships.

These people are often drawn to online friendships, as the cyber world can be anonymous and much less threatening. Without the need for eye contact or body language, contact with others  over the net, can be much less overwhelming on the senses. The written word on its own, can be tolerated by someone with social anxiety, as it can give them the time they need to choose their words carefully and to be sure to express themselves in a way that would not be perceived critically. For this is what someone with social anxiety feels every minute of every day: that they are being negatively judged or critically perceived by others. For some, it destroys everyday life and  they are confined to the only place where there is no anxiety, the sanctuary of a solitary existence at home.

Although there appears to be  a genetic basis to social anxiety and its evil partner depression, there are a number of behaviours that can be un-learnt  just as easily as they  are learnt as a coping mechanism for anxiety.

As a result of these thoughts and anxieties, people with social anxiety have few friends and find making new friendships very difficult and not just because of trust issues. Their fears and negative thinking can render them vulnerable to friendship with toxic people, who in turn, erode their self-esteem and self-concept, even more and it feeds into a vicious circle.

Relationship gurus, such as Marc and Angel, list some common toxic behaviors to social interactions which is useful information for those who have social anxiety and who may wish to improve their social interactions:

1.  Taking everything too personally. – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them.  The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you.  People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences.  Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them.  I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback.  I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide.

2.  Acting like you’re always a victim. – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization.  Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck.  Working as a life coach with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe.  When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality.

3.  Obsessive negative thinking – It’s very hard to be around people who speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life.  These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening.  Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another.  Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that. Seek out positive people and look out the way they perceive obstacles and problems in their life.

4.  Lack of emotional self-control. – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you.  We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem.  Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor.  If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality.  There’s more to it than what appears on the surface.  An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders.

5.  Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion). – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can.  They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield.  Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well.

6.  Needing constant validation. – Last but not least, people who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around.  Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to “win” over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining.  Know this.  Overly-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down.  There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses.  It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.

What can you do to help someone/be a friend to someone you suspect has Social Anxiety? 

  • Be alert to when they attempt to join into conversations and listen to them with consideration, and without judgement.
  • Be aware that although they might appear rude and abrupt, they would never intend to come across in this way, and it is often their lack of social experiences that make them withdraw, or be incapable of responding appropriately.
  • Accept them the way they are, and always remain positive whilst empathizing.
  • Invite them to social outing without pressure, such as small groups situations or in a situation that they would not find threatening, such as stopping by their desk each day for a quick chat.

Something to Ponder About