SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace. Find happiness. Find yourself.

Tag: feelings

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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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

Relationships with a Capital R

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There are very few things in life that are more important than relationships. That is because relationships are the basis of our lives. They help define who we are, make us whole, and are the most crucial way in which we function as a society. Relationships are how we learn about ourselves and those around us. Without them, we are missing out on a major part of our ongoing development. And, honestly, relationships just make us happy. They reassure us of who we are and motivate us to become better people.

Below are some ‘Relationship Rules’, as I like to call them, that I want to share with you.

<3 Loyalty and Respect are not updates to a relationship, they are a requirement to a relationship
 YES! Write this one down, people!
As I am sure most of us do, I often get frustrated with myself when I recall the unfortunate things I put up with in my former relationships- whether boyfriends, friends, coworkers, etc.. However, if it weren’t for those unhealthy happenings in my relationships I would have never learned to speak up for myself the way I do now. I would not nearly be as confident in or as happy with the person I am today if it weren’t for a lot of what I experienced in my former relationships. We can all look back and find things we learned from those who we allowed to treat us poorly, no matter how unfortunate or icky those memories may be. But, that is why Loyalty and Respect are a must in every relationship you encounter and find value in. These two traits are invaluable and will get you very far in life.  I cannot express enough on the importance of Loyalty and Respect. If you have these two things in your relationships, you are on a happy and healthy track. And if we are loyal and respectful, others will gravitate towards us and be much more likely to display the same in return.

<3 Far too many people are looking for the right person instead of being the right person
 On our wedding day, my husband and I had a reading in our ceremony that we fell in love with. The last line of it states, “it is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner”. I will never forget that line. It is a good reminder to let our guards down in order to love those around us, and look in the mirror rather than point fingers. We all want so badly to be understood, but we forget to be understandingBeing the right person helps to hold ourselves accountable in our relationships. We can only expect from our partner what we are providing in return. It is equal give and take that makes the world go ’round!

<3 Tell people how you feel
Feelings are gooooooood! And men, even better when you can express your feelings confidently (aka- it is okay to cry!). We are all entitled to our own feelings, express them! It feels so good to not build everything up inside. Your feelings matter and may make a huge difference in your or someone else’s life if you learn to express them. It is so good to practice being honest with ourselves and others. We feel a certain way for a reason, own it. Be open to exploring why you feel a certain way to help learn more about yourself. The more we understand our reactions, triggers, and emotions, the happier and more knowledgable we become, and the more relief we feel by expressing ourselves. It also helps to understand the emotions and reactions of others around us.  Not to mention we will be more satisfied and comfortable in our relationships.

<3 Be prepared for disappointment
My mother always told me that everyone in my life will disappoint me at some time or another, and I have remembered this throughout the years. It helps to prepare me for the moments when people do disappoint me in my life. No matter how close we think we are in some relationships, people will always hurt and disappoint us. And there will be times where we will hurt and disappoint others, too. No one is perfect and people make mistakes. The mistakes that are made is what can be hurtful at times, and it is up to us to decide whether the disappointment is worth mending in that relationship, or moving on with our lives. Some friendships are in our lives for a short time and are not meant to last forever, and that is okay. However, it is also up to us to forgive those who have disappointed us to help us practice humility and acceptance of others.
The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.  Bob Marley

<3 What people think of you is none of your business
Oh how accurate this is! Nothing is more stressful, hurtful, or frustrating than hearing the negative things people have said about us. But honestly, what is the point of caring? You know who you are, that is what matters. Any why put ourselves through the hurt of having to know what people have said about us? Other people’s opinions and statements are not our business, even if they are about us. People are all entitled to their thoughts and opinions. And you know what? There is nothing we can do about that. Let’s all try to focus more on the areas of life we can control rather than worrying about others’ thoughts and opinions, which we will never be able to manipulate.

<3 You don’t need 2 million friends
It seems to me that the older people get, the more they value having just a few really close friends. Having a ton of friends is exhausting, and it takes a lot of time! Personally, I enjoy having a small friend circle as I can better focus on the relationships that mean the most to me. I can spend more time with those who are equally invested in my friendship as I am in theirs. These are the people that are less apt to hurt us and more able to be trusted. I find so much more value in my friendships as my circle gets smaller, and I am so grateful for that.

And when it comes to relationships, actions speak louder than words, people!

-keep shining

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Ground Your Way To Happiness…

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Serenity; the state of calmness, being untroubled, and peaceful.
Doesn’t that sound amazing? I need more serenity in my life, as I am sure you do too!
One way to help become more ‘serene’ of a person is to utilize the skill of grounding.

This week’s blog has a lot of commonalities as my last blog titled “Find Your Happy Place”. I think it is so important for us as human beings to be able to find a safe place, to feel relief, to detach from painful emotions, to center ourselves, and to use distraction during tough times. I love focusing on a lot of these topics because it is something we all need to utilize more often, and we all need reminders that we are worthy of being happy.  Grounding is another healthy way in which to accomplish these things.

Grounding is a way to gain back control over our feelings. It’s a way to create balance between feeling nothing (numbness) or feeling too much (overwhelmed, stressed). It helps us stay in touch with the present moment and to not judge. In grounding, we stay completely neutral. For example, instead of saying ‘that carpet is red, and I hate the color of red because it reminds me of anger’, just simply notice in your mind that the carpet is red and move on, staying neutral.

I have a few favorite grounding techniques that I will share with you today. Please know there are tons more grounding technique ideas that you can research and utilize on your own, or create your own to make them special to you. There are ways in which to utilize physical grounding and mental grounding as I will explain next.

The good news is that physical grounding is really easy! For me, it is as simple as running my hands under cold water, stretching, touching objects around me, paying attention to my breathing and footsteps…Really taking the time to slow down and notice my physical self and physical surroundings. A lot of us run from one thing to the next, not even focusing on or realizing what we are currently doing. Physical grounding is a way to focus and remind yourself of your present moment and where you are at. I know some people who keep an object (rock, penny, picture) in their pocket or on a dresser, in their office, etc…They touch this object and remind themselves of staying in the present moment.

Mental grounding is where it gets more difficult because typically we are pretty hard on ourselves, and typically it is hard to let go of negative feelings we have towards ourselves or others. It is difficult to not feel overwhelmed by our busy lives. Below are two of my favorite mental grounding techniques:

#1…Look around you and find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This will help you to feel more in control of your surroundings.

#2…Four-Square Breathing. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathe through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and take 4 seconds to release through your mouth (tongue still on the roof of your mouth). Wait 4 seconds, and repeat a total of 4 times…Or more if needed! It is important to breathe from our stomachs during this exercise.

Other ways to stay mentally grounded are to play a categories game with yourself (list types of dogs, musical artists, TV shows, names of athletes, etc.). Or reading out loud, saying every word slowly to yourself. Use humor! Count to 10 or sing the alphabet (I do this when I am upset, typically before I respond to the person who has upset me). Repeat a favorite saying to yourself (such as a bible verse), or use a  statement that you created (‘I am worthy of being happy, I love myself, I need to slow down today’). Make sure your statements are kind and uplifting(‘I am a great person with a good heart, I am just going through a tough time right now’). Think about your favorite things (food, music, sport, activity…). Plan out, in detail, a fun treat for yourself (having some candy, getting a massage…). Have photos of or picture in your mind people you really care about…

Also, it is important to use a lot of imagination. For example, let’s say you are trying to get away from some pain you are experiencing. Really imagine yourself, in creative detail, leaving that pain behind. Something such as riding a bike through mountains and waterfalls getting away from your pain. Sounds cheesy, but it helps!

As I mentioned in my ‘Happy Place’ blog, practice a lot to help become one step closer to a more serene self. Find which techniques work best for you, and make them unique to yourself. Repeat the techniques until they become habit, and take note of whether you are more successful at mental or physical grounding techniques. Get yourself more familiar with other grounding techniques I did not mention here, or techniques you create yourself.

Also, do not underestimate the power of silence when utilizing grounding techniques. Try spending time in silence to assist in becoming one step closer to serenity. We don’t always have to have noise around us. Silence is golden.

Choose your thoughts carefully. Keep what brings you peace, release what brings you suffering. And know that happiness is just a thought away.

keep shining