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?

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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?

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, Motivational

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

It is so very easy to follow routines every day, release the brakes on the weekends,  or days off, and let “life [be], what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans”, as John Lennon famously sang. If  you look back and find too much time has passed by without you really being aware of it, perhaps these five suggestions from Marc and Angel can help re-set your focus and experience all you can from life, as opposed to simply existing. I have added my own ‘take’ on their words that comes from my experience.


1.  Appreciate the great people and things in your life. – Sometimes we don’t notice the things others do for us until they stop doing them.  Don’t be like that.  Be grateful for what you have, who loves you, and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they’re no longer beside you.  Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it to live.*

*My take on Point 1:  I think I will say or do one thing to the precious people in my life, today to let them know I really appreciate them. It is too easy to let the days slide by and take them for granted and they will never know how you felt.

2.  Ignore other people’s negativity. – If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative before you know it.  Ignore un-constructive, hurtful commentary.  No one has the right to judge you.  They may have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through.  You do not have control over what others say; but you do have control over whether you allow them to say these things to you.  You alone can deny their poisonous words from invading your heart and mind. *

  • My slant: No one has the right to judge you. This is important to remember both for our self-talk and when someone might be aggressive or rude. But it is also desirable to let go of this urge to ‘control’ and ‘be right.’ These awful words are the ones that slide off your back  and don’t stick!

3.  Be who you really are. – If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t change.  Uniqueness is priceless.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  It takes a lot of courage to stand alone, but it’s worth it.  Being YOU is worth it!*

*My take: Much of our early lives is about conformity. At daycare, primary and high school, it is all about fitting in, being the same because that is easier for those around you. Do you really want to be just the same as others? No, because your life is different to theirs, so why try to distort it. If you find it hard to exude confidence in being yourself, pretend, and practise. It is not as hard as you think. You will overcome in the end. What a boring world it would be if everyone was the same? Celebrate and feel good about your differences from others. Laughter is a great antidote to cynicism.

4.  Forgive those who have hurt you. – I forgive people, but that doesn’t mean I trust them.  I just don’t have time to hate people who hurt me, because I’m too busy loving people who love me.  The first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to move forward is the happiest.  Be brave.  Be strong.  Be happy.  Be free.* Me: I’m still working on being strong and brave.

5.  Let go when you must. – It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken.  Some relationships and situations just can’t be fixed.  If you try to force them back together, things will only get worse.  Sometimes it’s about starting over and creating something better.  Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over again with a smile on your face. *

  • My take: Persistence is always rewarded. Letting go is difficult, as familiarity is so comforting. Change might feel threatening but deal with it, one step at a time. Change is a natural part of life and your individual journey.

The final words from Marc and Angel:

What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.  What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it…

Something to Ponder About

Community, Mental Health, Motivational

Self – Respect – Are we good enough for ourselves?

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Self respect is a basic physiological need. If our basic needs for self- respect are not met, we  may become depressed, socially anxious, withdrawn or stressed. Marc and Angel has some thoughts on this matter this week:

If you ever felt you are not being good enough…

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  There are plenty of people willing to do that for you.  Do your best and surrender the rest.

Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment.  That is all I can ever expect of anyone, including me.” 

Love yourself and be proud of everything you do, even your mistakes, because your mistakes mean you’re trying. It’s better to have a life full of small failures that you learned from, rather than a lifetime filled with the regrets of never trying. Have you ever seen a toddler learn to walk?  They stumble and fall numerous times before getting it right.  Mistakes are learning opportunities.  It takes failure after failure to create success.  So don’t let time pass you by like a hand waving from a train you desperately want to be on.  Don’t spend the rest of your life thinking about why you didn’t do what you can do right now.

If you feel like others are not treating you with love and respect, check your price tag.  Perhaps you have subconsciously marked yourself down.

Because it’s YOU who tells others what you’re worth by showing them what you are willing to accept for your time and attention. So get off the clearance rack.  If you don’t value and respect yourself, wholeheartedly, no one else will either.

Sound advice from Marc and Angel to ponder about.

Read more here: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/09/18/7-things-fear-has-stolen-from-you/

Mental Health, Motivational

Love and Stockholm Syndrome

Do you have a family member or friend who is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship? Are you at a loss about how to help?

If you ever wondered why people stay in unhealthy relationships, this article can help you understand why and gives a few suggestions about how an outsider can support and help the victim.

Love and Stockholm Syndrome.

Related article:

http://www.pandys.org/articles/continuingrelationshipswithabusivefamily.html

Something very sobering to ponder about.

Community, Mental Health, Motivational

Old Habits that make you Unhappy

Marc and Angel always have incredibly profound words for me. I have abridged their content and distilled the essence of their words to the all important phrases and added some ideas from my own experiences. I hope these have meaning for you. They definitely have meaning for me.DSC_0142

Are your habits and routines sucking up your happiness?

Oftentimes we unknowingly hold on to little, obsessive habits that cause us a great deal of stress and unhappiness.  Even when we feel that something is wrong, we fail to seek the changes we need to make and instead cling to what’s not working, simply because it’s what we’re accustomed to. It is familiarity, that makes us feel secure, whilst causing us unnecessary stress. It’s time to give up the habits that no longer serve your well-being and embrace the positive changes you need to be happy.

Today is the perfect day to give up…

The need to be busy.

Busyness is often confused with productivity.  They are two different things.  Busy is running in place on a treadmill; productivity is actually getting somewhere worthwhile.  These days technology gives us this constant feeling that there is so much to do and not enough time to do it We are always connected to something that wants our attention, or something that could be done.  This feeling creates stress.  The more behind you think you are, the more stressed out you are going to feel.

Stress is not good for you.  It makes it difficult to think, connect with others and it is associated with a plethora of physical ailments that lead to unhappiness.

Tip:  Stop trying to be busy.  Put first things first and give up the rest.  Organization, meditation, improved time management and efficiency and a change in perception are all ways to manage stress.  You must learn to let go.  Release the excess.  You were never able to do it all anyway.

Disorganization and laziness.

We complain that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that we want, yet our laziness often leads us to many wasteful hours of disorganization.  The discipline it takes to sort through a messy desk, counter, closet or mind takes time.  Becoming organized is a habit.  Start with something small, like your office desk or even making your bed after you get up.

Tip:  Studies have shown that people who make their beds are statistically more productive, profitable and peaceful in their lives and careers.  Interesting, isn’t it?  But not surprising.

 Fear of… everything.

Fear is one of the biggest reasons why we don’t move ahead in our lives.  Fear of failing and fear of succeeding.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of fear.  As long as we are alive, we are prone to some level of fear.  Ironically, to feel alive we must overcome that fear with actionAs Bill Cosby once said, “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”

Tip:  Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that your happiness and growth is more important than it.  Do something every day that stretches your comfort zone and helps you face what your fear.

Something to ponder about today.

Related Article:

forestwoodfolkart.worrying-too-much

Mental Health, Motivational

Meeting New People

Meeting new people is a difficult thing for shy, introverted people, or those with Social Anxiety, but neither is it always the easiest thing for extroverts who are out of  their comfort zone.

When meeting new people, after names and introductions, many people fall back on an old standard opening question such as ” What do you do?”

Often the person asking the question uses this as a standard opening question, wanting to initiate conversation and find out more about you. However, are we interested enough in what we can learn from each other, to stop asking “What do you do?” and start asking “Who are you?  What is your story?”

Would it not be better to ask questions such as this, (in a timely fashion), as the conversation progresses, like:

  • What brings you here?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where do you live now?
  • What makes you smile?DSC_0163
  • What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
  • What is your deepest fear?
  • What is your greatest dream for your life?

What questions do you ask? Are some more effective than others? What else could you add to this list?

Something to Ponder About.

Community, Mental Health, Motivational

Negative Social Habits that Impede Communication

Marc and Angel talk about:

Cutting out negative habits. This can  make it simpler to foster good relationships by getting to the heart of productive communication, so why not start today?Singapore

1. Focusing on your inner monologue instead of the dialogue in front of you.

When someone is talking to you, you might be thinking:  “What can I say that will sound smart and clever?  I really hope they think I’m intelligent.  I could make a reference to post-modernism.  Wait – what did they just ask me?”  Stay focused on the other person’s words and points.  People rarely mind when you say, “Hmm. Let me think about that for a second.”  Quite the opposite, since it shows that you’re taking the conversation seriously.  If you compose your answers while someone else is speaking, you’re really only having half a conversation. 

2.  Multi-tasking while you chat.

Even if you are a professional multi-tasker, if you’re talking to someone, talk to them, and that’s it.  Don’t browse online, don’t watch TV, don’t update your to-do list, and please, don’t eat while you’re on the phone.  Whether they say so or not, it really annoys the person you’re talking to.  If you really don’t have the time to talk, be honest and find another time, or cut it short. I know I get irritated if someone checks their phone in middle of my conversation with them. It devalues my conversational worth!

3.  Not paying attention to the people you care about most.

Pretending to listen while your mind wanders to your work day, etc.  Do you really think your loved ones can’t tell?  They can.  And even more importantly, they need you to listen sincerely and thoughtfully.  There is no greater gift of love and no greater expression of caring that you can offer the special people in your life, than your undivided time and attention.  You need to remember that ‘love’ is listening, and everyone wants to be heard.  

4.  fishing for compliments or feeling self-conscious

“Oh, I look terrible today.” – after someone compliments you.  “I just threw it together at the last minute.” – when you obviously dressed up.  “I’m really not good at things like this.” – when the people you’re with know you are.  Please.  Stop.  It is ok to accept a compliment, and you don’t need to put yourself down because you are feeling self-conscious.  Just follow the next step.

5.  De-emphasizing compliments with self-effacing remarks.

It’s okay to say “thank you” when you’re complimented.  By making a self-effacing comment, you nearly force the other person to repeat their compliment, which is not a gracious thing to do.  Acknowledging a compliment isn’t snobby – like you’re admitting that you think you’re just grand – it’s a simple courtesy.  Besides, you earned it.

6.  Cutting people off mid-sentence.

The only time this is okay is when you’re in an intense brainstorming session.  Or you’ve got an urgent situation to attend to.  Or you haven’t seen your best friend in months.  Okay, so this habit is kind of elastic, but you get the gist.  Most of the time, interrupting just means that you’re missing the best parts of the conversation.  Plus, you’re showing your chat partner that you value your own thoughts over theirs.

7.  An unsupportive attitude.

The greatest compliment you can give to someone is to believe in them and let them know you care.  When you see something true, good and beautiful in someone, don’t hesitate to tell them that you appreciate it.

8.  Trying to please everyone.

This one is about keeping your sanity.  No matter how loud their opinions are, others cannot choose who you are.  The question should not be, “Why don’t they like me when I’m being me?” it should be, “Why am I wasting all my time and energy worrying what they think of me?”  If you are not hurting anyone with your actions, keep moving forward with your life.  Be happy.  Be yourself.  If others don’t like it, let them be.  Life isn’t about pleasing everybody. 

This ideas are sometimes hard to remember as we often slip into well-oiled bad habits again, so to keep them fresh in your mind, print them out and have them in your diary, spaced apart in weekly or thrice dailyintervals. This is what helps me.

I will ponder over whether Marc and Angel’s ideas will be helpful for  you.

Community, Mental Health

A note on bullying

Bullying is a terrible thing that leaves permanent scars. Oftentimes, the bully never realise or might not even intend to damage the person so destructively. The following words I think sum up a good attitude to have when faced with dealing with bullies and harrassment.
Humans are the only creatures on this planet that can choose to change their life situation at any moment. A shark can’t one day decide to be a chef. An ant can’t decide it wants to be a dancer. Their lives are built into their DNA.

You, on the other hand, can change if you want to. Oftentimes the only problem is that the fear of change is holding you back. Excuses keep piling up. You only remember the times you failed, and this memory scares you off from trying again. You feel hopelessly stuck in life.

What you need to realize is that life isn’t meant to be a straight line that goes from point A to point B. Life is meant to be a series of zigs and zags. It should look like a mess, but a beautiful mess. It shows that you have changed throughout the course of your life. You’ve had your ups and downs. You went down one path, but decided to change course… perhaps on many occasions.

That’s how life should be. Life is a continuous experience of independent present moments and choices. So whatever situation you are in right now, just know that it can change if you want it to.

It’s up to you. You just have to choose something new.