SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace. Find happiness. Find yourself.

Tag: be present

Finding Peace Through Pain

The entire concept and culture around emotional pain completely fascinates me. We hurt a lot as humans; it’s a part of our growth and resiliency while we venture through life. And most of the pain we deal with day to day is our thoughts. What is fascinating to me is that we choose to let pain burden us, and because of that we experience things like confusion, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fear, anxiety, anger, rejection, humiliation, perceived failure, mood swings, guilt, shame, and self-blame (to name a few)…And to add to this long list, pain causes us to mentally rewind time, replay situations, ruminate,  and wish for different outcomes. AKA-we are constantly and subjectively experiencing mental suffering. And do you know the worst part is? It’s addicting…

It’s easy for our minds to focus on and discuss the negative; what isn’t going well, what hurts, what upsets us, what we don’t like. Our minds are hardwired to have a stronger focus on and easier pull towards pain rather than happiness and optimism. It’s engrained into our cultures and entangled  in our every day life to focus on negativity…It’s contagious to experience pain because it helps us relate to others and gives us something to talk about.  We are motivated by pain and negativity, and we gravitate towards focusing on others’ pain and negativity more so than what is going well in their lives.

I am constantly being asked how I manage pain from my personal life experiences as well as the secondary trauma I acquire from helping those that have endured horrific pain. I did not realize how much pain could gradually seep into my life until working in a career filled with it. That being said, I have come to live by a few very important rules regarding pain and how I ensure it doesn’t control me…

  • First and foremost – every painful, broken piece of us doesn’t need to be analyzed, collected, or remembered… Some pieces need to stay lost because they don’t belong to us, they happened to us. Let the pieces go. Move forward, and do not hold onto these things. Do not claim the pain, just understand that it was an experience. And as hard as it is, do not tie emotion to it. It just is, and let it be just that.
  • Change your beliefs about the pain. We cannot experience love, humility, positivity without an understanding of gratitude. And without any pain, we would fail to see how great life can truly be. How can you look at the painful experience as a learning curve, or a helpful step in the right direction? What positives can come out of this pain? How can you change the belief about the purpose of the pain to help it motivate you?
  • Do not run away from pain, allow yourself to feel everything. Be present with your feelings, allow whatever it is that wants to come up to do so. Do not be embarrassed; purge the emotion. This is how we move forward, otherwise we stuff things deep inside to be dealt with later, on top of all the other pain we try to avoid. Embrace what you need to feel; it helps to understand and accept the pain… A very good tool for this is meditation.
  • Slow down. We cannot allow ourselves to feel if we are constantly going at a pace of 100 miles an hour. Give yourself time to breathe, and figure out how to move forward with these painful experiences. I am guilty of purposefully going 100 miles an hour so I do not have time to ruminate on pain… It’s how I distract myself, and it is not healthy. Take time to be with yourself, and work through the pain before it gets stuffed deep down to come up later. And trust me, it will come up later.
  • When you are right in the muck of your pain, ask yourself if there’s any piece of this that you can control. If the answer is no, you cannot control or change anything about this, then learn to let it go after you process through it. *Meditation is super helpful here also*. We cannot hold onto pain that serves us no purpose. If we can’t make any positive changes, and if the situation is not in our control, we must move on and move forward.  What other option do we really have?
  • And lastly – how can you make your pain a part of you? Always remind yourself to use pain to your advantage. Remind yourself that pain makes you who you are, and it has helped to develop you into your current self…Your soulful, resilient self. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?


You are never more than one thought away from peace~

-keep shining

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Leave The Driver’s Seat

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All of us want some element of control in our lives. We try to plan out that five-year check list. We try to prepare for each day, every interaction, etc. However, all of us could use a lesson in letting go….We need to let go. We need to trust that things will work out the way they’re meant to, and that by letting go life will bring us to where we are needed most. It doesn’t matter how much we try to plan and control, there is always a chance it won’t work out. Life often has different plans for us than we have for ourselves, and that’s just the way it goes!

~Not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control.

I’ve had a few people in my life tell me that I need to work on letting go of control. I struggled with that for some time, because how do you just let go? How can you just assume things will work out, and not feel the need to have control over the outcome? Then recently I heard the above quote not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control, and it all began to make more sense to me.
Letting go of control means being open to many outcomes. This kind of mindset is healthy and it helps us to stay present; it helps us to worry less because we aren’t so focused on ensuring things work out just the way we planned them to. Being out of control is so much different than that. Being out of control means not having conscious control over our behaviors; to be unruly or wild. These two concepts are polar opposites from one another, yet we combine them to mean the same thing. We combine the concept of letting go of the need to control with the concept of being out of control. We combine a healthy outlook on life to being unruly and ‘out of hand’.
Letting go is to accept the unknown. It means being less stressed and open to new and unexpected possibilities. And how exciting does that sound, if we are open to it?! There is no event or interaction in your life that you can have complete control over. Of course, sometimes this can be stressful and frustrating, but at the end of the day what option do we have? We need to loosen up our expectations as to how we look at the world and our ‘plans’. If we don’t loosen up, we give energy to things that are not in our control, and what a waste of time that is.
Sometimes letting go means that our life feels stagnant, but why do we always need things to be progressing or moving? Progress can be a stand-still. Being stagnant can be growth if we view it through a positive lens, and it can be an important piece of life we don’t want to miss out on. When we are constantly planning out the next thing and ‘controlling’ situations, we miss out on the ease and beauty within those stand-still moments. It’s these times where we have an opportunity to exhale and ‘just be’ for a while. Keep present, as everything happens there; only this moment truly counts. And quit panicking, progress can be stagnant but that doesn’t mean we aren’t moving forward.
There is no magic answer as to how to let go and make this an effortless habit. It is difficult for me every single day. But, remembering these little tidbits of positive reframing around our thoughts regarding control is a great first step. Acceptance is also key here. Accept the uncertainty of each day and the challenges it will bring. The challenges we face each day are what makes us resilient and what makes us better, more patient and appreciative people. Reminding myself of these things has reduced my stress and helped me to be more grateful in each present moment. Taking a step back, breathing,  and enjoying life’s curve balls has made me a better friend, sister, daughter, coworker; the list goes on and on!
And just in case you forgot….Not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
-keep shining

 

Happy Things Thursday

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  1. The first time using new mascara
  2. New and unexpected opportunities
  3. Snow days
  4. Freshly vacuumed carpet
  5. Getting stuck in busy traffic and someone stops to wave you in.
  6. Bonfires
  7. Evening walks
  8. Icecream sundaes
  9. Feeling proud of yourself for reaching a goal/accomplishment
  10. Watching your flowers/garden grow

Happy Things Thursday

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1. A marathon of your favorite show

2. Finding something special to you that you thought you’d lost

3. Cuddles

4. Traveling to new places

5. Getting a good night’s sleep

6. Long weekends

7. Discovering new things about yourself

8. Watching your favorite movie

9. Unexpected kindness in strangers

10. Colorful sunsets

“Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk”

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It is okay to feel the way you feel. Sounds easy, right?! How often do we try to mask our feelings and emotions, or sweep them under the rug? And then how often does it come back to haunt us? For example, when you’re in an argument with someone and then “word vomit” takes over- you say everything that’s bothered you over the last 6 months, including the time your significant other left the refrigerator door open. Yikes! Rough, huh? Or when you hold in your feelings for so long that the smallest things set you off, like starting to cry because you dropped your full milk jug all over the kitchen floor (not that I’ve ever done this before…).
Why does this happen?! It’s because we bottle up everything and think we forget about it, but we don’t. The good news? ITS OKAY! You are entitled to your feelings and emotions. Don’t hide them, embrace them! Why are you feeling this way? Ask yourself that question, and know that it’s okay. There is a reason you are feeling this way so figure out why. It’s incredible and refreshing how much you’ll learn about yourself. The moment I began utilizing this tip I was so relieved. Not only will you learn about yourself, but you will be more open and accepting of other people’s emotions; you learn to become more insightful. You also learn to tell others that it is okay to feel the way they feel, and trust me, they will appreciate it. It will make others feel more comfortable opening up to you, and it helps them to feel “normal” and safe expressing themselves.
Overall, wouldn’t it be great to learn more about yourself? I have found that there is a certain pattern to my emotions, and certain things that bother me more than they should. Now that I am aware of that, I am able to talk about those emotions, and recognize when they are creeping up on me. I have learned to be honest with myself. Emotions and feelings are our body’s way of telling us something. Appreciate when your body signals that something isn’t feeling right and needs to be addressed. Be honest to and respectful of yourself. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. After all, they’re the only ones you’ve got!

-keep shining