Loneliness

Loneliness: woman reaching out to an empty swing
Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.May Sarton

Learning to become a real friend to yourself brings a richness to life that no one else can fill. Try experimenting with “If I was my friend, what would I do, what would I say”. What do you notice?

Anger

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.Mark Twain

Anger can be a valuable emotion. It lets us know when our boundaries have been crossed and can motivate us into action. It’s not the emotion of anger itself but what we do with the anger that leads to harmful consequences.

Denial

Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life.Germaine Greer

Wishing things would just go away. Wishing not to feel or do something uncomfortable, that’s denial. It stops us in our tracks, creates a blockage and consequently we become depressed, anxious, and/or sick. It’s important to remember that all the energy being expended ignoring something is actually having an adverse effect on us. To get out, we first come to terms with what’s happening, we take responsibility. Then slowly, gently, with kindness we set about facing those feelings, thoughts and actions that were so terrifying.

Compulsive Behavior

Eventually, we reach the point where we start to realize that we are not going to find peace, contentment, happiness, strength, fearlessness – all the things that in our heart of hearts we wish we had – outside of us.Guy Finley

Compulsive behavior is simply a way to calm ourselves down. The problem is that it’s very short lived and then ends up adding to the stress of our lives.  By becoming aware of our feelings and thoughts before we act, we can learn to catch ourselves, and thereby do something else to bring relief. Experimenting and having a range of alternatives to choose from is very helpful.

Controlling

Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.Thich Nhat Hanh

Being controlling is a way to create security.  It is born from a chaotic past.  The problem is that when we get lost in trying to control everything, we are holding on so tight we can’t enjoy life. We don’t allow the beauty of life to naturally unfold and we dam up the flow of our own lives. The truth is that the feeling of control is an illusion. We have little to no control over people & events. The more we tighten the strings, the tighter and more constricted we become.

Depression

One often learns more from ten days of agony than from ten years of contentment.Harold Coffin

Depression is a signal. It stops us in our tracks and focuses our attention. It allows us time to reflect; it gives us time to look deep inside. If we listen carefully, we find our inner, beautiful, wise self telling us exactly what we need.

Black & white thinking

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
Albert Einstein

So much of our lives has to do with our perception.  There are many ways to look at any situation and just because we only see one way, black and white, doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the right way. By remembering there is a vast spectrum of colors and infinite combinations you allow yourself choices and develop tolerance.

Isolation

Over time as most people fail the survivor’s exacting test of trustworthiness, she tends to withdraw from relationships. The isolation of the survivor thus persists even after she is free.
Judith Lewis Herman

Isolation is a powerful way to protect us from harm.  The flip side is that it is a powerful way to protect us from joy.  We are social creatures and need companionship.  Little by little, you can choose to let in those that have earned your trust.  Remember that the worst has passed.  This is the present, you can begin at any time.

Anxiety

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”
Epictetus

Our brains are efficient at learning what causes us pain. However, the past is usually not reflected in the present moment. If we breathe, calm our bodies, and look clearly to see if we are in real danger right now, we will find our anxiety dissipating. Later, when we feel safe, we can deconstruct what happened. We can see with gentleness how the situation connected with our past.