#119 Get Hypnotized

When we can reach the deepest part of our psyche, we are able to touch the truest power of our brain.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#119

Get Hypnotized

My mother delivered me under hypnosis and without drugs or an epidural, she remembers only one labor pain. Hypnosis is widely misunderstood; people have a sense that while hypnotized they are unable to have any control. I frequently hear resistance that includes a fear of “not knowing what’s going on”. In actuality, hypnosis is nothing more than a hyper-focused state of concentration.

Hypnotic State

While ‘under hypnosis’, the hypnotized individual is in a heightened state of awareness, temporarily rendering the person fully susceptible to suggestion [but only to the extent that the individual is willing]. It is during this state that the individual is able to zero into the subconscious, mostly due to the absence of  environmental chatter – eliminated by suggestion. Some people call this state a ‘trance’ and is easily recognized by the state we all commonly experience when we arrive at a destination but have no memory of actually taking the route there.

Purpose of Hypnosis

Sometimes, there is so much internal or environmental ‘chatter’ that it is extremely difficult to get to the data stored in our brain. Hypnosis helps us dive through the noise. At other times, we are so consciously resistant to going ‘there’ that hypnosis allows us to bypass the auto-diverters that our psyche has created; allowing us to get ‘there’ [a memory or a feeling]. In other cases, hypnosis allows us to get underneath the ego or established defenses and to the place where we are vulnerable and receptive to new ways of thinking.

Benefits

When we can reach the deepest part of our psyche, we are able to touch the truest power of our brain. There, we can divert pain, established beliefs, and dysfunctional thinking. Hypnosis can attack phobias (irrational beliefs), sleep, depression, stress, and other mental health struggles. It can help us visualize, remember, and concentrate.

Cons

Some people question the validity of the ‘memories’ that are reportedly recalled while in a trance. Since these memories are often unable to be substantiated, it is helpful to consider the ‘point’ of the memory, what is the ‘meaning’ that may be attributed to what the brain has created, regardless of the truth or fiction. I find that under some circumstances, a fictional ‘memory’ may be just as valid a message as a literal recollection – similar to a dream.

If you are challenged with an addiction, an unidentified nagging feeling, or a curiosity about childhood – consider finding a therapist qualified to practice hypnosis and take the step to…

Get Hypnotized.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#130 Embrace Aging

In our older years we are the Autumn of life – where we burst into full color, demonstrating maturity and seasoned perspective.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#130

Embrace Aging

On a rather gloomy day in my late twenties – maybe after I noticed the most significant patch of grey settling in – I spent an entire weekend pampering myself, my skin, and my eyes. I exfoliated, scrubbed, hydrated, and massaged every part of my body that showed any signs of aging. The next day, I stopped for a bottle of wine on the way home from work and got carded… I was elated – beyond – that my efforts at disguising my advancing age (!) had worked!

Valuing Youth

Our culture values youth so much that we tend to fixate on staying young, for women at least and more than one client, friend, and relative has lamented on the aging process weekly for as long as I can remember. Even though we see more and more examples of middle aged and older individuals in the media, there is an acute undercurrent of anti-aging in our current culture. Everywhere we look, we are exposed to ideas of how to ‘stay younger, longer’.

Out of our Control

In practice, I think the most troublesome part of aging is that it is out of our control – this seems to be the component that most people have difficulty with. Even if they attempt to control their health – people are acutely aware that there is an absence of control over the years – time – slipping by. My suggestion for all those things that we can’t control: Embrace or let go!

Embrace

Perhaps to some, these are one in the same. Embracing, for the purpose of this suggestion is to see aging as an honor; a testament to strength and perseverance. It means accepting that our bodies change as the years pass. It means to stop fighting the organic process and to stop wishing for a fountain of youth. It may also mean that we stop spending money on wrinkle removal but see them as honor lines; earned through the years as we loved, laughed, and lived.

It doesn’t mean to give up on self care; to let our bodies atrophy. It doesn’t mean that we give up the goal of making each day count or the joy of learning something new with week that passes. It doesn’t mean that we surrender to the term “I’m too old”.

Let Go

Letting go doesn’t mean that you should necessarily ‘go gray’ – although that may be a stunning option – or to give up on your physical health. It does mean acceptance and letting go of critical thoughts about your appearance as it relates to age. It means to silence any disparaging comments about getting older. It may require conscious effort to be present and find joy in the present rather than lamenting over the past.

Letting go requires you to stop comparing your current self to your younger self with disdain or regret.

Wisdom

With everyday that passes, wisdom grows. Each day is an opportunity to learn and to love – both allowing us to embrace life more completely. In our older years we are the Autumn of life – where we burst into full color, demonstrating maturity and seasoned perspective. Hold onto this ideology and make the effort to…

Embrace aging.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#144 Give Up Your Favorite Beverage for a Day.

It’s a reminder to your psyche that YOU have authority over your actions.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#144

Give up your favorite beverage for a day.

If you happen to be reading this just as you move your favorite coffee cup up toward your nose, simultaneously enjoying the aroma and the bold flavor of liquid caffeine… I apologize. Yet – any negative reaction to the suggestion is further evidence that it may be just what you need.

We tend to get sewn into our habits and that morning cup of coffee, tea, lemon water, the evening frosty mug of beer, or the stemless glass of wine are easy habits to do without much thought or consideration; and that’s the danger. Some habits aren’t necessarily good for us. Indeed, it has been postulated that any  habit at all is rather detrimental if we have little awareness of it.

Perhaps the best part of making a decision to give up your favorite beverage for a day is the subliminal (or direct) understanding that YOU are in control of your being. It’s a reminder to your psyche that YOU have authority over your actions. Far too often I hear people say… “I couldn’t help it” or “I don’t even realize I am doing it” when it comes to habits. Paying attention to something as automatic as pouring a cup of coffee or a glass of wine helps you to raise awareness overall.

It’s a simple suggestion and a simple effort that helps you stay focused on the little things. Make a decision to…

Give up your favorite beverage for a day.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#203 Plan Your Funeral

If you want Van Halen or Bach’s Fifth Symphony playing as you take your last breath – you can say so.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#203

Plan Your Funeral

Whoa… I know this is a morbid topic but keep reading. This is important stuff and may not make you directly happier but it will definitely benefit the people you love who are left behind. It doesn’t matter how old you are and while we all hope to live into a ripe old age – some of us may not. We will all die at some point and it’s just not fair for us to leave all these decisions to people who will be riddled with emotions. Who thinks clearly when riddled with grief? Take some time today to think about how you would like to be sent into the spirit world.

Organized Your Way

It’s rather easy these days with organizations like Five Wishes. You can either order the booklet or sit down online and answer a few questions. For a $5 contribution, you can print your completed booklet and tuck it in a drawer or give it to a trusted family member. Then, between a funeral director and the completed document from Five Wishes – your loved ones won’t have to be making any major decisions and can celebrate your life by going through photos and creating a memory board.

Decisions

Five Wishes serves as a ‘living will’ also in some states so if you want the plug pulled when there is no brain activity you can say so there. If you want Van Halen or Bach’s Fifth Symphony playing as you take your last breath – you can say so. If you want to be clean shaven or have the hairs plucked from your chin – you can designate that too! Do you want to be cremated? Or have your remains placed in a Mausoleum? Do you want pallbearers? A certain kind of flower? A particular hymn or Dixie band? Is there a reading or a poem that is meaningful? Do you have an interest in writing your own Obituary? My grandmother did and she didn’t leave out a thing! It cost a small fortune to publish it but she left money for that too.

Exit Strategy

Since we don’t get to choose when or necessarily how we are going to die – planning the funeral is about as close to being in control as we’ll get. You won’t ever have to say “Don’t let the kids….” at least as it pertains to your exit strategy and it saves them all from disagreeing. I had a client once who had a new outfit hanging in her closet specifically for her to wear to her own viewing. She left very clear and specific instructions for a hairstyle as well with a photo for artistic direction.

Some may say it’s silly but in a time that may be completely outside of our control – this little bit of planning allows us comfort in knowing that some part of it will be directed as we wish. If you haven’t given it any consideration, stop for a bit and think what feels authentic to you. Then sit down with Five Wishes or a piece of paper and …

Plan Your Funeral

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

More Letting Go

I had a small epiphany… for a lot of things, letting go isn’t a one and done thing!!

The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life. ~ Gary Zukav

As I wrote yesterday’s post I was emotional. That’s usually a sign that I need to stop writing, process the emotions that are there and then… go forward. I was emotional because it’ hard coping with this ‘new normal’. When I am reminded of the life that H and I ‘wanted’ to live – I get sad because it’s not the life we ‘are’ living and I know it must be very difficult for H if it’s hard for me.

In this year of Cancer, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned a lot about H but more about myself. I’ve learned about my friends and family. I’ve learned more about people and thoughts and feelings. It’s been an education on so many different levels.

There are a lot of little hurts that happen and accumulate when life is hard. There are people who aren’t ‘there’ in the way you may have imagined. There are disappointments about plans that have to be changed or canceled. There are misunderstandings because we may not communicate well when stressed. There are hopes and dreams that move from vivid to blurry.

I was ironing some napkins (don’t be impressed – they are cotton and I left them in the dryer)… and thinking about letting go… I use a lot of techniques already to ‘let go’ of old stuff – techniques that work well but… what about the stuff that isn’t necessarily old?

I had a small epiphany… for a lot of things, letting go isn’t a one and done thing!! Some of you may have already acquired this knowledge and bless you… life must be easier for you since garnering this tidbit.

I realized that every morning when I wake up I need to LET GO of the things that are still there that day. It’s not like the dismay that I had to release regarding ex-Hubby or the anger I felt over the betrayal of Abee… H’s cancer is there EVERY DAY. It burdens him and affects our life every day. I realized that I need to practice letting go more religiously.

I thought of the sentiment ‘Let go and let God’… I think… let God what? Is God going to heal H? is God going to introduce me to someone else to grow old with? Is God going to give H more strength and comfort TODAY so that he has a quality of life? I know there aren’t any answers to these questions and even the devout Christians that I admire and love will tell me that God has a plan for this – jeez… I even believe that the Universe (God?) will help us find value in this experience. And so, without specific answers to these questions, I realized today that I need to practice – as in doing over and over again – the act of ‘letting go’.

When I think about what I am letting go of – I think it may be a couple of things….

A specific outcome

I want H to live, to retire with me, to travel with me, and comfort me. I hear the word “I” a lot when I think about how this ‘should’ play out and I feel guilty about that, although I know it’s quite normal. I have no idea what H’s journey is – what karmic agreement he has with the Universe and/or what God’s plan is for him. I get caught up in the things that we talked about – the things that ‘feel’ good to me and I want our story to have a theme very different than the one that is playing.

The need to control

Because I want all of those ‘things’ – I believe I can help them come to fruition if only I was in control of his health…

I use the analogy of fixing H a salad for dinner if I am going to be home late. I get home – see the salad still in the fridge and freak out because he didn’t eat. My mind does this … I see the salad – it means H didn’t eat – which means he didn’t get the nutrients his immune system needs – which means his immune system won’t work – meaning cancer will grow – which means he will die – leaving me alone and unloved.

Yup… that’s what my mind does in a manner of nanoseconds. H doesn’t stand a chance because I see the salad and go right to I’ll be alone and unloved. (hear all that abandonment??) And so – in an effort to prevent all those negative feelings – I try and control for them. I make a salad with lots of nutrients and ask him to eat. Sometimes, he doesn’t want the salad, sometimes, he just doesn’t want to eat.

I realize that I am trying to control his health – and can’t. Just that simple… I need to let go of my need to control his health.

My feelings

I need to let go of my feelings. I tell people all the time not to judge their feelings – I wrote about it the other day and yet on my walk today I realized that I feel guilty about having such strong feelings because I’m not the one who has cancer. I’m not the one struggling physically although I readily acknowledge that it has a dramatic effect on both of us because we are partners.

The realization that it isn’t a one and done venture is most important here. The feelings I had yesterday when I saw him struggling to get up, I worked at letting those go yesterday. But the feelings I had today when he complained of pain that is unexplainable… I need to ‘let go’ again. I need to be better about remembering to ‘let go’ – to imagine myself as a funnel – to detach from the fear and observe it moving in… and out… away…

My fear

Death is a bizarre thing for those of us who keep living… one minute you’re there… the next – you’re not. Sometimes, we experience the absence of the person who died in a physical way, a physiological pain. I’ve heard about it from parents who lost a child and from children who lost a parent, from spouses who lost their lovers and I remember the feeling acutely… a minute that never ends – only lessens in intensity. I’ve realized that I am afraid of having that experience again. It’s not here yet and maybe it won’t come. Hopefully, it won’t come… because I remember how intense it was and I realize how hard I am resisting its return.

My new mantra… “I am letting go of my fear, my feelings, my control and the outcome and I will trust that the lessons here have value”.  If you know me… remind me of this!

 

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Accomplishments

I was still five or six years away from being able to call myself a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Continued from Finally Free

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”  ~ Edward Hale

Now that Hubby wasn’t at the house when it was his time with the girls I had the house to myself. There is a certain confusing pleasure about having every other weekend to yourself. I didn’t usually like to be in the house when the girls weren’t – it was a big house, meant for family and walking by their empty bedrooms was almost disheartening. However, being a single parent is undeniably the most difficult job I’ve ever known and so, on those weekends, I recharged – rejuvenated my energy. I did homework and spent time with friends. I was usually fielding a few phone calls from the girls, predominately the youngest one who was more dependent on me but encouraged them to turn to dad – I wanted ex-Hubby to develop his own relationships with the girls and be the dad they needed on those weekends.

This goal worked in total conflict with my ‘control’ needs and my ‘fixer’ genes… it was a true learning process to ‘let go’ on the weekends he had the kids. I had so much to learn about letting go – even though I thought I had done a lot already. I practiced opening my hands and counted on my meditation routine to help me. I wrote … and wrote… I didn’t call the writing I did ‘journaling’ back then but that’s what it was… I was just writing the thoughts that came to my mind, emptying my head onto the paper. I think I had been trying too hard to journal something specific. I found that just writing from the mental prompt of ‘I’ve been thinking about…’ or ‘I worry about…’ was most effective in parlaying what was on my mind to the paper. I often burned or shredded the words I wrote as I was a little paranoid that someone would read them. I wasn’t yet ready to experience the vulnerability associated with letting others view my internal reflections.

It’s hard to be patient and allow change to take place when we are in a hurry to ‘be better’. Sometimes it feels like a cruel Universe joke to need patience when we perfectionists are generally ‘not’ patient people. It’s often coupled with the need to remember – bring into our constant awareness – our inability to change others. And then, there’s the frustration of recognizing that even if ‘we’ make changes, the entire situation may not… leaving us needing to either make concessions or decisions.

I successfully settled my grandparent’s estate but only after addressing a lawsuit that had been initiated by Abee and Emma. Receiving that announcement in the mail was mind boggling because it created a direct conflict of interest for me. Essentially, the language of my grandparents will was unclear and ambiguous regarding the distribution of assets – whether or not Mom’s share of the estate was to be distributed to her siblings or to her direct heirs. Initially, the attorney advising me stated her siblings but the lawsuit contested that decision and I had to hire another legal opinion. Essentially my sisters were suing for a share of Mom’s share – taking money out of the mouth of their less fortunate relatives. I will never understand that motivation but in the end, I benefited because the ‘third perspective’ ruled that it was to be distributed ‘per stripes’… Mom’s share would be split among her children. It wasn’t a ton of money but it felt weird to award myself part of the estate. Our aunts and uncle were rather salty about the ruling as it diluted their distribution and frankly, with one exception – they needed it more than we did.  I’m afraid to think what my grandparents would have said / felt over that whole ordeal.  To fight it further would have just wasted more money from the already reduced estate. We paid the funds out and called it a day but not without further splintering of our extended family.

In the fall I returned to school. I loved learning about human behavior and continued to be amazed at how much about myself I was learning. In many aspects, I used my own life as an observational laboratory for the information I was acquiring; a rich environment of detailed data. I also learned to research. One of my ‘classes’ was apprenticing with a professor who was conducting studies. I chose Dr. Brown, the professor who had taught me about emoting. Her area of expertise was how environmental and socioeconomic stressors affected children. My job was to search the bowels of EBSCOHost (the academic database of research papers) to find other studies to substantiate the work we were doing and/or to find measures that we could use in our work. As strange as it sounds, I loved this job! It was a little bit like looking for puzzle pieces and finding something useful or affirming was the reward. Additionally, I would see something interesting and read, read, read. I learned to love reading journal articles about the ways we think, act, learn, etc. Learning this particular skill – research – was particularly helpful when I got to Grad school.

It was also my goal this year to make decisions about Grad school. I had several professors urging me to go on… Another suggested I forgo the graduate degree and become a Life Coach. I knew by then that counseling was the direction I wanted to go and that I would more than likely just open a private practice. My state didn’t require counselors to have any – actually none – credentials as long as they didn’t put themselves out there as ‘licensed’ and so I didn’t ‘have to’ get an advanced degree but… who would go to a therapist that wasn’t educated?? I don’t believe that most people are aware of all the different routes there are to obtain counseling certification – I certainly did not. There are several designations that allow people to eventually qualify for state licensing. First of all, most states require at least a Master’s Degree either in Psychology, Counseling, Social Work, or Mental Health. Certainly, there are also doctoral programs in each of those areas as well as the newer Psy.D. – a Doctor of Psychology (as compared to a Ph.D. which is a Doctor of Philosophy), then there are licensing exams and post grad supervision. I was still five or six years away from being able to call myself a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Since I wasn’t entering academia, a Master’s would fit all the requirements. I didn’t want to take the Social Work avenue (LCSW) although many counselors have that designation. I wanted to focus on Counseling and clinical components within the Individual, Family, and Marital arena. The only program within driving distance for me consisted entirely of night classes. Being a single mother of three made that completely impractical. Even though Sara would be leaving for college in the fall, Erin and Em still depended on me and I didn’t believe that leaving them alone for three nights every week over a two-year period was truly an option. That left me investigating newer online Universities that specialized in Psychology degrees. I left no stone unturned in understanding accreditation and the rigid standards that my state expected their counselors to complete.

In the meantime, I finished my undergraduate degree – finally – at the age of forty-seven. I wasn’t the oldest person to graduate that spring but I felt like it. I managed to leave there with a 3.8 GPA, having received only two B’s. My family celebrated with me on a scorching hot May afternoon by throwing me a surprise party (that wasn’t really a surprise thanks to someone’s well intended big mouth) and I felt accomplished and happy roughly twenty-eight months after discovery day.

My Heart at DEFCON 1

Holy crap… did God just talk to me? Was that my imagination? Who’s there?

I spent the end of my twenties as a single lady. In retrospect, it was a time of defense. I was in personal DEFCON 1. I was unwilling and unable to invest my emotional being in any type of intimate connection. I developed ‘control issues’. Ultimately, at any time that we feel unsafe – emotionally or otherwise – we attempt to gain control of our surroundings so that we can experience comfort. My intent was not to control any ‘person’ or really any ‘thing’ – simply create an environment in which I felt emotionally safe. It was much harder to do than one imagines.

In those years I did have a relationship with a guy who was really, really, comfortable. He was great. Non-confrontational and easy, really easy to be with. He was fun. He wasn’t a lot of other things that really mattered to me but I loved the ease with which we existed together. It was mostly a long distance relationship and when it became a REALLY long distance romance because he moved – he asked me to marry him. He called dad and I said yes. There was no ring – no real plans – it was a desperate proposal. We loved what we had together – we didn’t love each other!

He relocated and started building his life in a new town – I was setting things in motion to get there. It was really hard for us to connect when we couldn’t even spend weekends together (Ahhh… time before cell phones and Skype). He was lonely – I was distracted and busy with a preschooler and a 50 hour per week job. We started arguing and disagreeing about timing of my move, etc. One day he called and talked about an ‘attraction’ he had to a woman he was working with… he was reconsidering our engagement. I didn’t give him a chance. My reaction was at gut level and instinctive…. “I guess I’ll just have to get over you then.” That was me – controlling. I believed I was in control of the amount of emotion that I could allow in the experience. I shut down anything that was intense. I had developed a coping mechanism that was completely unhealthy. I was refusing to feel.

It was me – reacting to yet another loss in my life. I didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt – I didn’t let him explain or share feelings, insecurities, or fears. I shut him down before he could shut me out. He was done in my mind. I had reacted from a place of deep pain – a part of me that had lost love and had yet to be willing to experience the vulnerability of truly loving again.

Love – in any way – did not feel safe.  I had loved my mother and she left. I had loved Rocky and he died. I had loved another and he got sidetracked. Bam! Fuck love. I was now in control mode and making sure that love didn’t touch any part of my life. Defense … Defending … Protected. That was me.

I didn’t know that I had adopted those mechanisms. I was on auto pilot. I was dating and anticipating… excited to meet each new guy but every time, failed to make a connection that felt authentic or long lasting. I was holding everyone I met to the standard of how I loved Rocky and of how he loved me. Even though there were real moments in my marriage that humanized him, Rocky remained a superman in my mind. I had him on a pedestal of sorts. I knew that there were problems in our relationship that were real and typical of young love – it didn’t enter the equation when I associated men that came after him. No one compared.

I put a lot of focus on being a mom. I rented a room in my house to a guy that had been a really good friend of Rocky’s. He was in the area for work and was a great addition to our home. I wanted to love him. We weren’t romantic at all but I wanted to be with him – he was a connection to Rock. I couldn’t. I’m not sure he ever knew my thoughts and I’m still not completely sure if I was simply horny and trusted him or if I loved the idea of him from the perspective of the memories we shared. We had both loved the same guy – differently of course – but it was a connection that I didn’t have with anyone else. I lost track of him eventually.

I was a mom and a hard worker. I spent a ton of time working (a pure commission job) just to make ends meet. Rocky didn’t have life a life insurance policy. I distinctly remember a couple of guys from some Veteran’s group sitting at our kitchen table before he went overseas, trying to sell us a substantial policy but we were poor and young. We believed there was time. He had a small benefit from the Navy Reserves but it took me a long time to submit the paperwork. There was a finality about it. If I got the money it meant, he wasn’t coming back.

Our life (Francis’s and mine) was forging forward without much effort. I bought a house by assuming a mortgage. He started preschool and I kept working. I would drop him off at daycare in the morning – pick him up at night – take him home to eat dinner – and then wait for the babysitter to come so that I could go back out to work and yet… we were basically broke. I had never finished my degree so I felt stuck with the job I had – a sales job with an investment company. I was determined to make something of it.

I was lonely though. I still wanted a piece of that dream I had created all those years ago and I had become somewhat depressed and pessimistic – angry almost – about it coming to fruition. I recall a pivotal moment one evening when, after making a dead end sales call far away from home, I had started the return trip home – in tears – feeling completely and totally defeated. I was sure that none of my dreams would ever come true. In an instant – there was a voice – a male voice – deep and comforting – that said “stop being narrow minded – there are so many possibilities”. Holy crap… did God just talk to me? Was that my imagination? Who’s there? It’s hard to explain what a deep sense of ‘knowing’ I had immediately. It was so intense that I started laughing. Like a slide show on fast forward, dozens of potential life scenarios appeared in my mind. I went from sadness to exhilaration in a second (this experience is what I reference when I attempt to empathize with a psychotic break). I experienced an understanding that had not been there before. I would be OK.

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