SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace. Find happiness. Find yourself.

Tag: emotions (page 1 of 2)

Feeling Into Your Thinking

Feelings…Feelings, feelings, feelings! We are full of ‘em. Every single thought we have has a feeling attached to it. Often times those feelings are emotions we stuff deep down instead of dealing with them…And there’s a huge myth out there that goes something like this; if we avoid our feelings they don’t exist and they will eventually disappear.
We avoid circumstances (people, places, situations, conversations) that bring about emotional reactions we don’t wish to experience. We ‘avoid’ with the assumption that the feelings associated with the circumstances will go away. The fear associated with feelings, and inability to handle the feelings, seems to be easier to deal with if we try to forget their existence in our minds. Instead, if we feel into the fear and face the emotion, we can diminish the fear and understand the emotion; thus, removing the need to avoid. This also allows us space to understand ourselves better and live life more freely rather than by what we think we should be doing.
Feeling into the fear allows us to better recognize and work through our emotion and be more honest with ourselves. We are so fearful of feeling. We would rather not know the outcome or avoid having to come face to face with making difficult decisions. What we forget is that our emotions tell us so much about ourselves and what we want and need to do. And we also forget that these emotions don’t just leave us alone. If they are unresolved, they will continue to build, nag us and give us this feeling of ‘what if’…
It’s okay to feel what you are feeling. But when our feelings are different from where we want them to be, we don’t want them to exist.

No matter what thoughts we may have, whether we want them to exist or not, your life can still bring you joy. It doesn’t matter which path you meander on, no one can take away who you are. Facing and owning your feelings is a part of life’s purpose. And the best part? No matter the emotional turmoil and confusion and no matter where life brings you, you can always have joy. That’s because no one can take away your self worth, your love, your happiness, your mindset, your journey. These things have and will always be yours. Knowing that is what makes life worth living.
Typically problems arise because of how we think about these things. There is so much self pressure to retain things a certain way that we focus more on thinking about controlling these things (self worth, love, happiness, mindset, journey) based on where we think we should be, rather than listening to our inner wisdom and emotional responses. We are constantly in a state of avoiding thoughts and honest conversations with ourselves about where we are at internally. We are scared. We don’t want to complicate things. And we forget that we already own all of these wonderful things that have and will always be ours. Regardless of our feelings, we can still have self worth, love, happiness, a healthy mindset, and our journey. So what is there to fear when the things we fear most are ours to have if we want them? It goes back to this myth that if we keep our feelings stuffed deep down, we can avoid them and just keep on our current path of comfort and deal with the floating thoughts of ‘what if’. Avoiding our emotions tricks us into thinking our feelings have dissipated when actually, they are waiting to rise to the surface to be dealt with later.
We pay so much attention to ‘controlling’ our thoughts, thus ‘controlling’ and hiding our emotions. But who wants to hide? Who wants to cover up who they really are? Who doesn’t want to learn about themselves? The obsession we have with control causes us to avoid listening to our gut and our inner guidance. But it’s this inner guidance and wisdom that is where we come from, and without it you would not exist as your unique self.

Recommendations:
Give yourself time, but not too much…
Time can be related to avoidance. There’s a balance between giving yourself time to understand and process your feelings, and then deciding what to do about them. If we wait too long to take action, we start resonating too much which can cause more fear, anxiety, and even anger. We don’t want our feelings to eat up our energy. Coming to terms with our feelings is supposed to be a healing, uplifting, and refreshing experience, even though it can feel scary.
Also give yourself time after coming to terms and acting on those feelings to let the dust settle and see how things effortlessly blossom thereafter.

Allow plenty of space for silence…
We forget how noisy our world is. Nothing has been more powerful in my life than giving myself space for thought. No music, no background noise, no one else around…
Let yourself experience those floating thoughts that come through, and do so without any distraction. I feel so refreshed after spending time in complete silence, and it has helped me get to know myself. There is no greater feeling than looking forward to silence and the experiences of your own thoughts. Enjoy times of silence, and be your own best friend!

Journal and meditate…
I know I know, I always get a few eyerolls here. BUT, hear me out…Just take the time to write and process through the feelings we do not even realize are there. This is where I take moments to pause and focus on the feelings I forget about because I am so busy thinking about everything else. Journaling is a great way to understand pieces of you that you didn’t know existed, and adding meditation helps to let go of everything aside from what’s in front of you right now. Take the time to stay present rather than stress over all the thoughts we have flying through our mind each day.
Let yourself go here; don’t control what comes through the pen or what emotions come up when you meditate. It’s your time to give back to yourself, and you owe it to yourself to have that quality time. 

Be honest with yourself…
Spending more time in silence, journaling, coming to terms with your emotions, etc. cannot happen if you don’t let go. Being honest with yourself is huge. Feel into the confusion, those fears, hesitations, conflicts, and questions. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how do you expect to move forward and enjoy every aspect of your life? Let your guard down with yourself, it’ll be okay.

Understand that your thoughts are just thoughts
Thoughts drive our feelings, so taking a hard look at how your thoughts affect your feelings is crucial. Sometimes if we change our thoughts and perspective on a situation, our emotions change, too. Our thoughts are what drives our perception of the world and how we feel about it. And just because we think a thought, that does not mean we agree to it or believe it. Thoughts can just come and go, and we do not need to feel into every fleeting thought in our mind.

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking ~

-keep shining

Similar blogs:
It’s Okay, Guilt, Control, Failing, Self Forgiveness

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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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To Feel It All Is To Be Alive

We are supposed to feel…
Emotions are meant to awaken us.

We are supposed to
love
and hate
and cry
and laugh.

That’s the point.
To feel it all is to be human.

We are supposed to be destroyed.
Pick up the pieces over and over again.

Don’t avoid it,
don’t remove it.

Accept the pain when you’re broken.
Know that you’re going to make mistakes.

We grieve,
we get angry.

But it’s only then that we recognize how good life can be when it’s really good.

To feel it all is be to alive. 

 

-keep shining

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The Gift Of Giving…To Yourself.

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I’ll be honest, the this time of year is really difficult for me. Along with all the parts I look forward to around the holidays such as gift-giving, parties, paid time off, traditions with family, and Christmas treats also comes a caseload of clients that doubles in size overnight. Every year I tell myself I will be stronger, I tell myself that it will get better, and remind myself that I can’t save the world; I can’t bring the world home with me for Christmas. But, every year I still break down and cry…A lot.
The holidays are usually a time that I reflect on the clients I have had the privilege to work with over the years. I recall their stories, and I remember that many of them do not have the opportunity to receive or give gifts, to go to parties, to take off work, to spend time with family, or to have a warm meal to eat….
I have mourned with kids in psychiatric facilities whose family did not visit them over Christmas. I have been a shoulder to cry on for a man who had no one to spend the holidays with, and was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. I have tried to find the silver lining for the girl who told me that she has never opened a Christmas gift in her life. And I continuously work with individuals whose behaviors escalate around the holidays due to the trauma they’ve endured, and then watching as those around them lose empathy because they do not understand it.
I can’t keep up with the demands of the job because I cannot make people’s pain disappear, and the holidays alway remind me of that. It’s hard for me to look forward to time with my own family when I spend the days leading up to the holidays in constant crisis mode with my clients who have been sexually assaulted, physically and emotionally abused, and have nowhere to go. I struggle to leave work at work and take a break because I know someone might need me, and I can’t be there for them…This is called secondary trauma, or compassion fatigue, if you will, and it can affect any one of us at any given time. We take on our clients’ problems and stress, we let their stories affect our personal lives,  we develop our own triggers, we become hyper-vigilant, and ultimately we burn out. That’s why people who work in the helping profession often have a high turnover rate…we give too much of ourselves.
I always ask myself whyWhy do I get to look forward to the holidays when it brings so much pain to some people? I get mad that the world isn’t fair and get discouraged because there is nothing I can do to change that. At the end of the day,  I always remind myself that I have done my best, but sometimes telling myself that isn’t enough to make the pain and frustrations dissipate. It isn’t enough to ‘leave it at the door’ when I get home because I am still empathizing with those less fortunate than myself. If I only had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I take care of myself with such an intense job, I think I’d have enough money to buy every client plenty of gifts to go around! That being said, the way I get by each holiday and stay sane is to take care of myself and keep my compassion fatigue in check. Regardless of your field of world and how stressful or enjoyable your job may be, we all need to take care of ourselves and be sure we put ourselves first sometimes.
Here are some quick and easy ways I do that:

1. Check In…. I check in with myself every day; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I tune into how tense I am, what is causing me stress and/or joy, how tired I am, what I am thinking about, etc… Just check in and take a pause. Know where you are at and be mindful of yourself, first and foremost. This can take no more than 5 minutes, but it ensures that each day you don’t forget about yourself and become mindful of how you feel. This helps me approach each day more thoughtfully and think about myself throughout the day, which is easy for me to forget to do.
Click here for another perspective on checking in.

2. Be Kind… Not only to others, but to yourself. Be easy on yourself. Know that you are working hard. We get ridiculed enough in this society as it is, the least you can do is be nice to yourself and give yourself a compliment now and again. You  can always find something positive to say about yourself, and make it a daily habit. It’s easier to be kind on the outside when we are first kind on the inside. And I find myself more kind to others when I am first kind to myself. By being more kind to myself, I have actually found that mean/rude people don’t bother me as much; I am nice to people even when they aren’t nice to me. And sometimes that is just what they need because clearly they’re having a worse day than I am.

3. Focus on what is in your control… As you could have guessed, I can’t bring all of my past and current clients home with me for the holidays. Clearly, that is out of my control. I need to remind myself of the actions I have taken to try and produce the best outcome, but the outcome itself isn’t something I can predict. The holidays may bring extra frustrations or unpredictability, but it does no good to be upset over something I cannot do anything about.
When things arise that cause anxiety and frustration, just check in and ask yourself what about that situation you’re able to change, do it, and leave the rest behind.

4. Take Breaks… Let me spell it out for you, PTO…P-A-I-D   T-I-M-E   O-F-F. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the world will still revolve in your absence. People will get by if you’re not there. You earned time off, take it. We all need breaks. If we don’t take breaks we are burning ourselves out and that only affects the people around us, and the clients we are trying to serve. We cannot be our best selves in the work place if we are not taking breaks. Life is more than just working all the time. Try to rid yourself of the guilt because if you aren’t your best self for you, you sure as heck can’t be for anyone else. Breaks help give us some clarity and relief. Enjoy that vacation in Hawaii!

5. Cry… I hate crying. I hate it. And I do not do if often, so when I do I know that it’s needed. And every time I break down I feel better. We have emotions, people! We always get mad and embarrassed with ourselves for feeling the way we feel rather than just accepting it and letting it flow. You can’t control your emotions, but you can control how you react to them.
We have to get our feelings out and be honest with ourselves. Not only does it feel better and help us come to terms with things, but it brings a sense of relief. And it ensures you that you won’t go and unexpectedly word vomit your emotions onto someone else.
Click here to read another one of my blogs on this topic.

6. Decide what self care means to you…. In my trainings, when I ask people what self care means to them, often they say things like taking a bath, going on vacation, getting their nails done, going hunting, etc.. But self care is SO much more than that. Really ask yourself what self care means to you, it’s more than just this surface-level stuff. Dig deeper, there’s always more we can be doing for ourselves to ensure our happiness and health is where it needs to be. My self care absolutely includes vacations, getting my nails done, playing basketball, etc.. But it also includes all of the helpful tips above plus many more.
One of my favorite self care exercises is what I simply refer to as happy thoughts. Sometimes it is easy to let negativity sink in without even recognizing it. It’s these times when we don’t give ourselves enough credit and say something hurtful about our character or our physical appearance. So, when that happens I practice what it referred to as ‘thought stopping’ in the social work world, and replace those icky thoughts with one of my handy dandy happy thoughts I keep stored away.

We all have tough days, and we need to be easier on ourselves in order to get through them. A little gratitude, kindness, and self love can go a long way.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete ~

-keep shining

For additional holiday blog posts, click here and keep scrolling.

Happy Things Thursday

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1. Random smiles from strangers.

2. Adopting a pet.

3. Coming home to a package on your doorstep you forgot you ordered.

4. The smell of Subway.

5. Finding gift cards you forgot you had stashed away.

6. Dog kisses.

7. Refurbishing old furniture.

8. The tummy tickling feeling in your gut when driving down a steep hill.

9. Good hair days.

10. Getting your rental deposit money back after moving out of a rental property.

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-keep shining

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