dog smelling flower wiht bird
Motivational, Philosophy

Growing More Confident

So many of us seek, even actively chase, a sense of peace and fulfillment. We enjoy the fruits of life that we find bestowed on us, in parochial measure, but can we say that we truly treat ourselves kindly or are content, with ourselves?

Ethereal

Kindness as an act, is something we do in treating and interacting with others. Whatever your beliefs, as a child of this universe, we are all deserving of kindness and respect. It is a fundamental human right.

And yet, we shy away from practising loving self-care towards our own bodies and minds, because it gives rise to feelings of guilt. Or, we see it as some kind of character flaw, a sign of weak indulgence or self-centred narcissistic navel-gazing.

Body Image and Disliking Ourselves

Some of us take this even further developing an intense hatred or discomfort with parts of our bodies, for whatever reason. We seek to change the way we look via cosmetics, surgery or decoration.

We may have been unkind to ourselves over time, seeing ourselves only through others’ eyes. It is all too easy to be hyper-critical of an imperfection, when comparing oneself to others. It is important that we see that this kind of perspective, or lens, distorts the way we think about our own bodies and our sense of self suffers. Over time, these thoughts become hard to shift.

..there is no hurt, no lost or berated part of ourselves that cannot be touched by our own loving kindness. Indeed, little kindnesses towards ourselves made habitual in daily life are enough to turn any tide, bit by bit, day by day.

Meredith Gaston

Whatever we think of ourselves, at this moment, we must not forget that we ARE INDEED unique and valuable to this world.

Countering Anxiety

In apportioning loving kindness to all, we can consciously practice self-care.

Being kind to oneself, on a regular basis, is a useful life skill which can help us more readily soothe and quell anxiety and distress in the face of difficult challenges, or thoughts.

dog smelling flower wiht bird

Furthermore, when we are kind to ourselves, (and others), we begin to see that we are indeed worthy of tenderness and this, in turn, may strengthen not only our own self- confidence, but also feelings of comfort and support.

It is never too late to be kind and loving towards ourselves. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Focus on thinking that will sustain and support you.

Treat yourself with the kindness you deserve.

Mental Health, Motivational

Slowing Down

tired

Most of us spend our waking lives up in our own internal world. We over-think and, like overdoing anything, over-thinking tends to have negative consequences. In the case of constant mental meanderings, the risk is that they will lead to a negative spiral of indecisiveness, self-loathing depression and insomnia. One way to counter this is to make yourself more mindful.”

Dr Michael Mosley – The Clever Guts Diet

Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Your Mood?

Dr Michael Mosley, famous for his documentaries on the human body, was examining the role of diet and gut health on the body. He wanted to objectively measure what effects, if any, mindfulness practice would have, on his brain. So he underwent a series of tests before embarking on beginning mindfulness techniques.

The studies showed he had cerebral asymmetry, which meant he displayed greater activity on the right side of their frontal cortex, than on the left. This indicated he was pessimistic by nature. Pessimistic people are prone to high levels of neuroticism and anxiety.

Evaluation of Mindfulness Techniques on the Brain

Following the testing, Michael Mosley practised mindful meditation for six weeks, mainly via an app. Like many busy people, he found excuses not to complete the practise: he was too busy, too tired, too hungry, too stressed. Practising along with his wife and incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities, such as having coffee, worked with a hectic lifestyle.

After six weeks of mindfulness practice, an Oxford University Professor re-tested Dr Mosley to find his brain showed an improved balance between the right and left hemispheres, accompanied by a sharp reduction in negative thoughts and emotions.

Beneficial Effects of Mindfulness on Physical and Mental Health

Overwhelmed with insomnia and an incurable autoimmune disease, Australian journalist Shannon Harvey spent a year practising mindful meditation as a way to assist her own mental health and improve an auto-immune illness.

emotion, despair, sad, worry, anxiety

[Shannon] looked for the equivalent of a 30-minute workout for her mental wellbeing, [and] there was nothing. Worried for the future mental health of her kids who were growing up amidst epidemics of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, in a world-first experiment, Shannon recruited a team of scientists to put mindful meditation to the test. 

My Year of Living Mindfully

Shannon Harvey documented how she experienced astounding changes over the course of the year practising mindfulness, despite having some serious misgivings and scepticism about its techniques.

Why Does Mindfulness have a Calming Effect?

Dr Michael Mosley believes that mindfulness works to calm the mind and body because it helps to strengthen your sense of control over your own thoughts and feelings.

Not only does mindfulness assist in learning to distance ourselves and let go of repetitive troubling thoughts; it also encourages a mind that remains focused in the ‘present moment’, thereby reducing anxiety and overwhelming emotions that stem from reflecting on the past or stressing over the future.

Mindfulness Techniques Improving Mental Health

In a study published by the journal, “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” 15 volunteers completed four sets of 20-minute classes of mindfulness. Brain scans have found that mindfulness reduced anxiety ratings by 39%. They also found that it increased activity in the areas of the brain that control worrying, [….]which supports the claim that mindfulness strengthens our ability to ignore negative thoughts and feelings.

Dr Michael Mosley

Feel Calmer in Ten Minutes of Meditation

Do you have ten minutes? Try it for yourself now!

Mindful Meditation Practice

Mental Health, Motivational

You are Not Alone

I came across an interview as a follow on from a friend’s blog.

It was on a sensitive topic.

I have lived through a family member’s depressive and suicidal behaviour, and spent a long time trying to analyse and digest what and why.

There are always questions and no answers. A puzzle that is never complete.

A mystery without a solution.

If a tragedy involving a young adult occurs, the parent is forever changed. There are no magic answers for dealing with it, no rulebook. It leaves a black hole of despair, a permanent scar, for which there is no cure.

How can we help to prevent it?

Suicide occurs less in impoverished circumstances, as opposed to those who have resources and might be perhaps more comfortable in a socio-economic sense.

“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever.

In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans.

Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie you can come back from Neuf York and you can get right back in there.”

Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.
auschwitz fences

 Johanna Reiss explains it in a better way than I could:

“The middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak.

(In) Elie Wiesel’s book. I had read that in concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis, so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too.

There were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”

www.thebrowser.com/books/interviews/reiss
auschwitz railway

“‘There has to be a reason for people to stay alive, there has to be hope, and there has to be somebody or something that is so important, that you couldn’t possibly leave it.’

Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American writer, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor wrote that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. And that’s the only time he mentions the allure of suicide.”

It is vital that the sufferer does not feel abandoned, that they have a reason to be.

You are not alone.

If you feel it is just too much, speak up and tell someone you are not okay.

Call a friend.

Send a message or text.

Tell someone that you need support.

Tell anyone you feel you can speak to, be that medical, commercial or religious.

Just speak up.

Let someone know.

Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Dissatisfaction

Are You Expecting Too Much? Is it time to evaluate or eliminate unreasonable rules and expectations.

When we are feeling a bit dissatisfied with the way life is, we tend to make judgements about other’s actions that are somewhat misaligned or skewed.

We might miscontrue their intentions, place expectations on others and inadvertantly set up rules for how life should be, when there may be an alternative explanation.

Do you ever catch yourself thinking:

“He was late, so he must not care about me.” – Or –

perhaps he just got caught in traffic.

“If I can’t do this correctly, then I must not be smart enough.” – Or –

perhaps you just need more practice.

“I haven’t heard back from my doctor, so the test results must be bad.” – Or

– perhaps the lab is just really busy and your results aren’t available yet.

Marc and Angel

Inventing rules like these about how life must be, based on stubborn expectations, may lead to dissatifaction. We must deal with the world the way it is, not the way you expect it to be. 

Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect. 

This isn’t to say that you should never expect anything at all from yourself and others such as diligence, honesty, ambition, but rather that the rules that govern your expectations should not steer you toward unreasonably negative conclusions.

Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.

Marc and Angel

If you feel dissatisfied or let down by an outcome, then you might have been thinking or expecting something quite different. 

Were your expectations too high/narrow?”

“What new truths have you learned from this experience?”

Keeping an external focus allows us to find a lesson somewhere from every experience. When we find the lesson, we can grow from such an experience, rather than retreat into misery or unhelpful mindsets.

We must be careful to see and accept things as they are instead of allowing ourselves to be upset that things are not as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be. 

Acceptance can be empowering.

Japanese garden
Community, Motivational, Philosophy

Sunday sayings – Frustration Tolerance

banksia

Everything is a gift of the universe–even joy, anger, jealousy, frustration, or separateness. Everything is perfect either for our growth or our enjoyment.” – Ken Keyes Jr.

Frustration is an emotion that arises from challenges that stand in the way of us achieving our goals. How we deal with frustration depends on how much we can tolerate that discomfort.

Do you give up easily or procrastinate when starting difficult tasks?

If you find it difficult to suffer fools, or become irritated by everyday inconveniences like traffic jams, noisy kids, or waiting in line, you might fall on the lower end of the frustration tolerance spectrum.

People with a low frustration tolerance may often have difficult relationships as they tend to have a short fuse and are easily triggered.

Annan manns lyte er lette å sjå.

The blemishes of another are easily seen.

Swedish Proverb

Signs of Low Tolerance to Frustration

  • Frequent procrastination due to an inability to tolerate the frustration associated with a tough or boring task
  • Impulsive attempts to “fix” a situation due to impatience rather than waiting for the issue to correct itself
  • Exaggerating temporary discomfort
  • Insisting on pursuing immediate gratification
  • Giving up immediately when presented with a challenge or obstacle
  • Growing irritable or angry about everyday stressors
  • Thinking or insisting, “I can’t stand this.”
  • Avoiding tasks that might cause distress

Causes

  • Depression and Anxiety lower our frustration levels.
  • Intrinsic personality traits – some have less/more patience and less/more expectations with others.
  • Core beliefs and values may contribute to how each person deals with frustration. Using language such as “It isn’t fair,” or “Life should be easy,” or “Why don’t they just do it.” [this way.]

Changing Frustration Tolerance

Frustration tolerance can be learned. Life will throw some curveballs. Thinking that you have a harder life than most, or are singled out for unfair treatment fuels thoughts that kick off frustration triggers. Sitting with mild discomfort of a distressing thought, for short periods is part of acceptance.

“Why do these things always happen to me! This is horrible.”

Is this something you can change or do you need to change the way you respond?

Can you re-think your attitude, or is it better to accept it and move on?”

Do not Doubt your Ability to Cope

A certain amount of frustration can stem from doubting your inability to tolerate distress. Thinking “I can’t stand to wait in line,” or “I am too old/broken or overwhelmed to try again,” will only increase your frustration. These thoughts do not help or support you and can even stop you from achieving any growth or progress.

Breathe.

Deep breathing is the best instrument you have at your disposal to calm your body.

Breathe deeply and sit (for a short time), with the uncomfortable thought or feeling, before taking any action. Meditation, exercise or muscular relaxation can also assist in calming the mind and body.

We can alter some feelings by keeping it real, more often. Instead of thinking about how “unfair” life is, that it is always going to be bad, we might reduce runaway and triggering thoughts by questioning the reality of what we were thinking. There are going to be difficult moments in anyone’s life.

Like any new skill, dealing with discomfort and thinking more realistically takes practice. A low frustration tolerance doesn’t have to be permanent.

You can take steps which could lead to a more fulfilling life experience.

How do you deal with frustration?

reflection
Community, Motivational, Philosophy

Sunday Sayings – A Bad Day

Knowing your own darkness, is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people

– Carl Jung

Are You Having a Bad Day?

Recently a family member had a bad day. A really bad day.

Everyone has them.

Some are worse than others.

No matter how bad it becomes, a bad day is just a bad day, it is not a sentence. 

It’s painful for the person going through the mental pain and suffering of a bad day and can be equally as difficult for those supporting them. Unlike a physical injury or ailment, there may be no visible cause that is obvious to others. Some folks are driven to extreme actions to stem their mental anguish.

Bad times or adversity affect us and our mood. People do bad, hurtful things to others.

We have no control over what other people do. 

We CAN, however, decide not to let it affect who we are and where you’re headed, as this Native American proverb infers:

You cannot prevent the birds of sadness passing over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest of your hair.

Native American Proverb

What We Can Do

  • Keep in mind that every bad day passes. What’s done is done and is in the past.
  • Acknowlege the setback and make adjustments to it.
  • Do not dwell and re-play the events over and over in your head, for this makes them a bigger part of your life.
  • Do not make it anything more than a bad day. 
  • Events may be terrible and inescapable at times, but you always have choice – if not when, then how, to proceed onward.
you always have choice – if not when, then how, to proceed onward.
You always have choice – if not when, then how, to proceed onward.

There is always a way to take the next step forward on the path you’ve chosen.  Be that minor or major. There are always options, always something you CAN choose to do.

This is where to direct your focus.

Early morning sunrise photography

Every day brings the prospect of new hope and new possibilities.

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Sunday Sayings give us Something to Ponder About

Mental Health, Motivational

Sunday Sayings – The Present Moment

Nothing in life is constant.  Like the force of the ocean, life fluctuates between a wearing away (negative or sad feelings) and a building up (positives).

The Arch great ocean road

As corny as it sounds, the way we think does determine our ‘world,’ our ‘present moment.’

If you are willing to appreciate that this moment is far better than it could have been, you will enjoy it more for what it truly is.”


(source: Marc and Angel)

When our mind is not focused on a task, we tend to live in a world of reflection. We can work through problems, remember experiences and plan for the future. There is nothing wrong with reflection, as long as it doesn’t become set to “critique”mode. That surely results in negativity and for some people: depression. 

It is rare to have absolute happiness or absolute sadness, so our moods oscillate somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum. At any given moment we are comparing how we currently feel to how we felt at another time – comparing one level of our contentment to another.

Negative comparisons can distract you from happiness around you if you notice it.

pensive thoughful looking upward

Since it is our mind that directs and controls the body, it’s the way you think that eventually makes you feel good or bad. The way we think also allows us to dismiss and give up but also to dream, hope and ponder. Increasing our awareness of the present moment can increase our enjoyment and lessen the melancholic reflections of our mind.

Life is not all black and white, but oscillates in between

What do you think? Do you agree?

Everyone’s opinion is important.

Something to ponder about this Sunday.

xanthostemon chrysanthus
Community

Ways to Reduce Stress

Tell a friend you have taken up bead meditation and said ‘friend’ may suddenly look askance, thinking you have gone ‘weird. ‘ But being in touch with your inner ‘flower child,’ can have untold benefits in combating  stress and potentially improving daily life, memory, concentration and overall well-being.

I was introduced to bead meditation some years via after my yoga class, and have to say that I experienced many benefits of a daily five-minute practice. But lately, I have been too busy, too rushed to continue my practice. And now, as I face a stressful time in my life, I have once again turned to Bead meditation.

The practice can be done anyway and or anytime, as long as you can do it uninterrupted. Carry the beads in your bag and you can practise in those few minutes of down time, where you might be ordinarily checking social media on your phone, or whilst waiting in the car for someone, waiting for a bus/train, last thing before bed, even in the loo! For me, it seems to work best first thing in the morning, when I know that I should get up soon, but don’t want to, just yet.

meditation

 

Benefits I have enjoyed from Bead Meditation

  • Sense of Calm
  • Less anxiety
  • More control in crisis or stressful situations
  • Lower Blood pressure
  • More sustained attention span and improvement in effortless single focus concentration
  • Relaxed start to the day
  • Distractions from run-away thoughts or self-destructive negative thinking
  • Increased sense of compassion and empathy
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved sense of well-being & self-esteem

The secret seems to be in keeping the mind busy on a single activity, and in doing so, worry and stress can not seep into your consciousness.  The mind will try to wander and intrusive thoughts will tug at you, and  if this happens, gently bring it back to the task at hand (sorry no pun intended there) Do this as often as you need.

“The mind is harder to control than the wind”, it was said. So now, not only can the mind be quieted by having something to do, the movement of your fingers on the beads, gives the body something to do and allows the body to feel more content and relaxed.

Prayer beads have a similar purpose, however this is more to do with religious devotion and counting prayers, which is not within my realm to recommend or discuss here. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation techniques such as this, emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement.

flowers

Wiki tells us, “Most of the ancient religions of the world have a tradition of using some type of prayer beads as tools in devotional meditation.[125][126][127] Most prayer beads and Christian rosaries consist of pearls or beads linked together by a thread.[125][126] The Roman Catholic rosary is a string of beads containing five sets with ten small beads. Each set of ten is separated by another bead. The Hindu japa mala has 108 beads, as well as those used in Jainism and Buddhist prayer beads.[128] Each bead is counted once as a person recites a mantra until the person has gone all the way around the mala, which is counted as 100, with an extra 8 there to compensate for missed beads.[128] The Muslim mishbaha has 99 beads. Specific meditations of each religion may be different.”

Method

Start with the head bead ( the one that is large and different) and start chanting a mantra of choice ( samples shown below), and with each repetition, move your fingers along to the next bead, and repeat, until you are completely round the circle. If you have time, reverse and do the same back to the head bead again. This depends on how quickly or how slowly you chant the mantra. Choose a mantra that speaks to you.

You only have to say the mantra loud enough for you to hear. It is not necessary to sing it, or say it loudly. Don’t worry so much about your breathing technique; it is not so important in this form of meditation.

Mantras

The eternal wisdom contained in the yoga texts explains that a ‘mantra’ is a spiritual sound vibration that purifies one’s consciousness and brings about ever-increasing spiritual insight and happiness. When performed as a group, you can really feel that vibration!!

 

  • Gauranga
  • Nityananda
  • Om Hari Om
  • Gopala
  • Govinda
  • Chaitanya Nityananda Gaurhari
  • Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana
  • Haribol Nitagaur Nitaigaur Haribol
  • Madana Mohana Murari
  • Haribol Haribol Haribol

waterlilly - Copy

The following passage, from Wiki illuminates the scientific basis for claiming health benefits of meditation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

Scientific Evidence to Support Benefits

 A study of college students by Oman et al. (2008) found that meditation may produce physiological benefits by changing neurological processes. This finding was supported by an expert panel at the National Institutes of Health. The practice of meditation has also been linked with various favourable outcomes that include: “effective functioning, including academic performance, concentration, perceptual sensitivity, reaction time, memory, self-control, empathy, and self-esteem.”(Oman et al., 2008, pg. 570) In their evaluation of the effects of two meditation-based programs they were able to conclude that meditating had stress reducing effects and cogitation, and also increased forgiveness. (Oman et al., 2008)

Li Chuan Chu (2009), found that meditation enhances overall psychological health and preserves a positive attitude towards stress. (Chu, 2009)

Mindfulness Meditation has now entered the health care domain because of evidence suggesting a positive correlation between the practice and emotional and physical health.

Examples of such benefits include: reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, elevated blood pressure, etc. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that those who meditated approximately half an hour per day during an eight week period reported that at the end of the period, they were better able to act in a state of awareness and observation. Respondents also said they felt non-judgmental. (Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, 2011)

“Meditation as Medicine” (American Academy of Neurology) [150] cites scientific evidence from various studies which claim that meditation can increase attention span, sharpen focus, improve memory, and dull the perception of pain.

A review of scientific studies identified relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness, a suspension of logical thought and the maintenance of a self-observing attitude as the behavioral components of meditation;[67] it is accompanied by a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body that alter metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain activation.[46][152]

Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction. Meditation has also been studied specifically for its effects on stress.

 

Some people feel meditation is an alien concept and take it like they would a bitter pill, while others embrace it wholeheartedly. Are they the less stressed?

It will be something I shall ponder about what you make of it.

schnauzer at beach

 

Community

Hidden Lives and Human Resilience

Auschwitz
Birkenau

When visiting Auschwitz concentration camp and the Birkenau selection facility in Poland, the sobering reminder of man’s inhumanity to man, was painfully obvious. It was then that I was reminded of a transcript of an interview, I had read some time ago. This transcript discussed the surprising fact that suicide occurs less among those people, who lived in severely impoverished/low socioeconomic areas and those in concentration camps, as opposed to those who have resources and perhaps live in more comfortable circumstances. What can be learnt from the incredible resilience of survivors, who when faced with extreme brutality or hellish circumstances, continue on and survive?

Johanna Reiss explains it like this:

“the middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak, (In) Elie Wiesel’s book.  In concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis and so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too. And so there were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”

Auschwitz1

Kitty Hart a survivor of Auschwitz, in her documentaries, speaks of how she trained herself not to “think,” but just to do – just to live in the moment and do that, without thinking anything about the future, or indeed the next day.

 Birkenau
Flowers outside Birkenau

Impact on the Victim’s Circle

A parent’s mental state is forever changed when the tragedy of depression or suicide involves their child, no matter the child’s age, nor whether the child recovers or not. Many of those persons, closest to the victim, experience anguish that seems to leave a permanent scar, for which there is no miracle cure, perhaps only amelioration. How can we promote resilience for these people, who suffer a daily living hell?

“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever. In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father,and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans. Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie you can come back from New York and you can get right back in there.”

[Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.]  Click here to read more
Developing Resilience

I think this is a really important thing to remember if we are to combat suicide rates in all levels…. that the sufferer is not left feeling alone, feeling abandoned. Could it be that if an individual has a sense of responsibility towards another person more vulnerable, or if that person feels that the other absolutely needs them, the victim might cope better/ hang in there/be more resilient, no matter what? Might a reason to stay alive, be that they can then feel hope; that there is somebody or something that is so important, the victim cannot contemplate leaving, no matter how bad things become?

Elie Wiesel wrote about his experiences in a concentration camp as a boy and that he “was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him.” And that’s the only time he mentions the ‘allure of suicide.’

Oswiecim
Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

In reflecting on suicide in today’s world where it appears to be a hidden spectre, together with my own experience with a close friend’s depression and suicidal behaviour, I wonder if the resilience/coping strategies of people such as those mentioned, might just be something that could potentially encourage resilience and give hope to victims, where often there seems none?

Something Serious to Ponder About

Save

Mental Health, Motivational

Survivors of Suicide Day 18 – Worth and Day 22 – Value

How Three Survivors of Suicide Spent Their Last Days On Earth – http://wp.me/p6xgta-oS

Incredibly powerful stories, revealing in the way the writers take the reader into their heads and reveal their thinking.

As a young person, I worked as a Nurse and never understood my patients as much as I did after reading this post. Many people are not able to empathize with the sufferer but these words do help to relate the hopelessness and understand the thought patterns that lead to the most tragic act.

I think we can better understand the nature of suicide from survivors like this.

It is so important for us all to check in with others about how they are doing. A txt or phone call could mean everything.

This post constitutes Day 18 and Day 22 of Five Minutes of Summer –

Five minutes of Free Writing every day  for October

wpid-wp-1443948548820.jpeg

Something serious to ponder about

Mental Health, Motivational

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?

While 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?

Moldiv_1401336598966

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?

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 is 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

Mental Health

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

Mental Health

A Hidden life- Death and Suicide rates low in severely underprivileged groups

“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever.”

Johanna Reiss, (Author of ‘A Hidden Life’)

The tragic topic of suicide is rather personal to me as I have lived through a family member’s depression and suicidal behaviours, and spent much of my time trying to analyze and digest the thought processes and behaviour behind those times. As a parent, one is forever changed when tragedy involving a child occurs, and I have no magic answers for dealing with it. It leaves a permanent scar, for which there is no miracle cure, only perhaps some amelioration of the pain, over time. To say nothing of the mental pain of the sufferer, themselves.

If one looks at the bigger picture, it is interesting to note that suicide occurs less in impoverished or difficult circumstances, as opposed to those who have sufficient resources or perhaps, those who have or are perceived to have, ‘comfortable’ socioeconomic circumstances.

Can this be a key that will save lives and give those who suicide, hope where there is none?

Johanna Reiss explains it in a better way than I could:

the middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak. (In) Elie Wiesel’s book, I had read… In concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis and so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too. And so there were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”

I think a really important thing to remember in prevention of suicide is for the sufferer to remember they are never alone, are never abandoned.

 “In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father, …. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans. Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie, you can come back from New York and you can get right back in there.” .

And the other thing about suicide is that if a person feels that somebody totally needs them, they often manage to hang in there, somehow.

“There has to be a reason for people to stay alive, there has to be hope, and there has to be somebody or something that is so important that you couldn’t possibly leave it. Elie Wiesel wrote: (he was a boy in a camp) that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. And that’s the only time he mentions the allure of suicide.”

Something to ponder over during Mental Health Week.