Water and Tears

>>:::<<
water
embraces each drop of rain
the ocean hides my tears
>>:::<<

In my creativity blog, I talked about the additional challenges we are facing and the reasons for my scarcity in the blogging world.  I am still around, I am doing my best, and I thank you for being patient with me.

Multiple major areas in my life are, quite frankly, in turmoil, and the feeling of overwhelm with all of them happening at the same time is often unbearable and feels like I cannot keep my head above water.  But as I realize, change is the only thing that is stable and one must somehow adapt to change, as I wrote about in my last posting.  None of these areas, not even details at this point, can be ignored, avoided, or denied, or we risk lagging in improvements.  They all need attention, and there is a LOT to be done.

When there is time, I try to apply the tools I have learned (and included in this blog) for addressing emotional and physical pain and anxiety, as this continues to be a very painful time.  One thing to keep in mind that I learned from my pain psychologist is that it is important to have a variety of tools to help through pain and anxiety.  However, even though he has taught me the tools he knows, he stressed that no amount of tools combined will replace the need for genuine emotional support from other people.  Also, it is important to have multiple people to lean on, otherwise, the loss of even one source of support can be devastating.

I hope when you are facing tough times, that you have people you can count on to give you the purity of their attention and compassion.

…also, remember that it is ok to cry.

Water and Tears

”Tears expand you, they don’t diminish you.” ~ Michael Ondaatje

The fish said, “I can’t see my tears because I’m in the water.”
The water said, “I can feel your tears because you’re in my heart.”
Lesson:  We may hide our own hurts and pains but never can we lie to the people who care about us the most.  Words aren’t needed for them to know how we are.  (Source:  Searchquotes.com)

.

Adapting to Change

Adapting to Change


It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most ADAPTABLE to CHANGE.

I saw this quote a few days ago and it really hit home.  My life is drastically different than it was 10 years ago, even much different than it was five years ago.  I will never be able to go back to the life I had so many years ago, and have to keep moving forward, toward adapting to more changes.  It’s a necessary acceptance.  Some of it is good, while some of it is sad.  One thing for certain, though, is that change is constant.

My “normal” keeps changing.  I’m sure many of you who visit or follow this blog can relate to how that feels.

Let’s keep forging ahead!

MCS Awareness Month / Fragrance Sensitivity

May is national MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) month.  Briefly, MCS is defined as suffering “multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances.”

According to MCS-America, MCS affects over 48 million men, women and children of all races.  There are many substances that affect those with MCS, some of which include fragrances, cleaning products, laundry products, air fresheners and scented candles, secondhand smoke, pesticides, paints, solvents, certain foods, preservatives, beauty and personal care products, etc, etc.  Symptoms can range from mild annoyances to life-threatening reactions.

As I wrote in my previous posting about Human Canaries, I am a person who is highly sensitive to low levels of fragrances and chemicals.  They make me very sick and I could be debilitated in bed for at least a couple of days after an exposure…and an exposure could be as simple as getting a whiff of someone’s perfume or walking by an air freshener.

FRAGRANCE SENSITIVITY

The remainder of this post will focus mainly on fragrance sensitivities, which is a part of MCS.  Studies are suggesting that fragrances are becoming an increasing concern in general, and definitely for me because of its increasing prevalence.  There are more and more fragranced products that are available, and more products where the fragrance is designed to last longer (as I have seen in commercials for certain laundry products).

Health Concerns

Research has discovered a number of toxic and undisclosed chemicals in fragranced products.  Prior to the 1970s, perfumes were primarily made from natural ingredients like flowers and herbs.  However, perfume formulations have since changed.  Today, perfumes are over 90% synthetic.  These fragrances can contain up to several hundred chemicals, many of which are toxic even at low levels and can be dangerous when inhaled or applied to the skin.  Low levels can accumulate and small exposures over time can lead to health problems.  Common fragrance chemicals have been found to be toxic to the neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems.  The skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs chemicals, which can affect other organs in the body.   Also, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrances are considered a leading cause of contact dermatitis.

Fragranced Products

Fragranced products are widely used in homes, businesses, institutions, and public places.  Some that are of concern include:

  • Laundry products – detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets
  • Scented candles and air fresheners
  • Personal care – soap, shampoo, hairspray, gels, lotions, sunscreen, deodorants
  • Perfumes, powders, oils
  • Cleaning supplies

Environmental Impact:

Fragrance chemicals enter and persist in the environment.  They have been found in the air, soil, water bodies and drinking water, and are difficult and costly to remove once they have entered the environment.

Fragrance Regulation:

The fragrance industry is mainly self-regulated.  No law in the United States requires disclosure of any ingredients in a chemical mixture called “fragrance” even if the chemicals are toxic or carcinogenic.  Depending on the type of product, the word “fragrance” may not even need to be listed.  Certain regulated products only need to list “fragrance” or a similar term, as an ingredient, but not the ingredients that make up the fragrance, even though an individual “fragrance” can contain up to several hundred chemicals.  Generally, consumer product ingredients are exempt from disclosure, some of which are protected as “trade secrets.”

Alternatives

There are many resources on the internet that include healthier and environmentally responsible alternatives.  Here are just a handful of suggestions:

  • Choose products without fragrance, scent or perfume.
  • Help institute or suggest a fragrance-free policy at work in consideration of those who are sensitive and become ill.
  • Baking Soda – a versatile natural cleaner, scourer, odor absorber, deodorizer, and is a natural fabric softener and deodorizer when added to the wash water prior to adding clothes.
  • White Vinegar – another versatile natural cleaner, grease cutter, stain remover, removes mildew, odors, and is a natural fabric softener, deodorizer and reduces static cling when added to the wash or rinse water
  • Lemon – has effective antibacterial qualities and can dissolve all sorts of grime.
  • Use better ventilation and consider plants that absorb and reduce odors, rather than using a potentially toxic air freshener that masks the odors but does not clean the air.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – for cleaning
  • Fresh coffee grounds – absorbs odors
  • A natural or organic ingredient, or essential oils do not always mean it’s safe.  Some can be harmful and emit hazardous chemicals.  (Some natural plant smells alone that make me very ill are lavender, gardenia and stronger fragrant flowers.)

Remember, being “clean” does not have a smell, and changing just one thing is a positive step to a healthier environment and healthier living.

Consideration for people with sensitivities

Even for those who do not experience any reactions to chemicals, fragrances, allergens, etc., or do not notice their existence, we might consider healthier alternatives for our own sake, the environment, and for those whose lives are greatly altered and tormented by their presence.

Please be considerate and respectful of those who say they are noticing a fragrance, chemical or allergen that is making them ill, whether it is something wafting in the environment or a product being used by someone they are with.  It is a very real problem for us and leads to loneliness and involuntary (or necessary) isolation from relationships and activities that we so much want to be a part of.  Personally, my doctor said my only option is to avoid any of my irritants called fragrances and chemicals.  Health should be a top priority.  Judgmental reactions and criticisms do not help.  Some people are so debilitated from what many would consider low or unnoticeable levels that they have had to resort to near total isolation to protect their health. I believe this is the case with some of my blogging friends who have MCS.

Friends, family and others who are considerate, respectful and even stand up for us as an advocate shows us that we are important to them, and that we matter.  What an important and necessary feeling to experience!

You Matter

Here is a closing thought to consider:  When you genuinely matter to someone, they will always be there for you.  No excuses, no lies, no broken promises. 

Related articles:

Pain Haiku #2

Pain Haiku 2a

>>>::<<<
dark clouds swallow me
relentlessly tormenting
pain monsters
>>>::<<<

Several weeks have passed and the elevated, intense pain symptoms persist.  The list of places in my body without pain is shorter than the list of places experiencing pain.  This recent increase is explainable.  There have been a few unexpected setbacks, and I need to continue therapy, stretches and treatments to get me back on track.

In one of my pain psychology sessions a while back, I showed my psychologist some doodles I had created, which included some emotional situations involving…of course…pain.  One of the recommendations he had in addition to doing artwork regarding emotional situations is to draw an alternate scenario.  For example, he asked how I would draw myself if I had more “power ” and said that drawing an alternate scenario can help you figure out an alternate in real life.  So here it is…my alternate scenario:

Pain Haiku 2b

>>>::<<<
pulverize the beasts
banish to oblivion
a bright new day
>>>::<<<

Pain is only one type of monster persisting right now.  What kinds of monsters are persisting (or have persisted in the past) for you?

Pain Haiku

Pain Haiku

>>>::<<<
pain advances
like shadows grow through the day
a new day has not dawned
>>>::<<<

Lately, there has been quite an increase in chronic pain and other symptoms.  I hope for the day when decreased pain will give me some freedom and independence.  In the meantime, I must continue treatments, therapy, stretches and mind/body exercises, including taking pain breaks with what I call my “nature, photography, and creativity meditation.”

Human Canaries and Friendship

In addition to many of the health issues I’ve talked about in this blog, one of the major conditions that has increasingly affected my daily life is my extreme sensitivity to fragrances and certain chemicals.  People with sensitivities like me, and others diagnosed with “multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)” are referred to as “canaries.”  We are human canaries.  The name “canary” comes from a past practice of miners who would take the birds into the mines with them as an animal sentinel, to provide advanced warning of danger.  Canaries are more sensitive to toxic gases than humans, so if the bird stopped singing, got sick, or died, the miners would know they needed to escape the mine or use protective gear before they were affected.

Low levels of fragrances and chemicals that most people probably wouldn’t notice, will make me very sick, so sick that I could be in bed with debilitating migraines, intense sinus pressure and pain, nausea and vomiting for a few days.  This includes perfumes and colognes, scented candles, scented lotions, air fresheners, scented laundry products, personal care products, even some flowers, etc.  Almost anything that contains fragrance, and some cleaning chemicals, solvents, paints, etc., will affect me.

I don’t know why I am sensitive.  I’ve seen doctors and specialists about this.  My specialist said that the only thing I can do is to avoid fragrances and chemicals as much as I can.  With me, it is an “irritant” and irritants need to be avoided.

I don’t know if there was an initial exposure that started this sensitivity, but I wasn’t always sensitive.  It started in my mid-twenties with a few perfumes and gradually escalated over the years to the point where low level exposures or even one whiff of a certain fragrance will make me very ill.  Right now, given that the “why” is unknown, the “why” to me is not as important as the fact than “I am” sensitive and need to make significant adjustments in my life and choose my health.  Other health issues themselves are already isolating enough, but fragrance and chemical sensitivities make it even worse.  This problem affects many decisions I make, and my social life is very limited.  Some of the decisions I’m faced with frequently are:

  • What products I buy – from household cleaning products to soaps, lotions, makeup, etc.  They need to be “fragrance free” or “unscented.”
  • What stores, restaurants or other establishments I visit – Will there be air fresheners, scented candles, or too many fragranced people?
  • What public events I attend – Is it indoors or outdoors?  Outdoors is better with fresh air.  In the last few years, I haven’t been able to attend events that I enjoy, like family get-togethers, ballets, musicals, concerts, parties.
  • What volunteer or other community service activities I get involved in.
  • Who I can be around and who I can socialize with – Will they be wearing fragranced products around me?
  • Whose car I ride in.
  • Who rides in our cars – Hubby has had to “de-fragrance” our vehicle when people wearing fragrances have ridden with him.
  • Whose home I visit – Do they apply perfume, use air fresheners or other scented products?
  • Who can enter my home – I have to be strict about who enters where I live.  It is the only place where we can make it safe for my condition.  Fragrances, especially many scented laundry products these days leave lingering fragrances, especially in upholstery, for several days or weeks.  Sometimes I have to leave my home and stay with my mother while hubby “de-fragrances” it.
  • What home projects hubby can work on and when – Most likely I will have to leave the house if chemicals are involved.
  • When I can go outside –Smells from fragranced laundry products emitted from neighborhood dryer vents trigger a reaction.
  • Who my “true” friends are – True and caring friends will help you.  They will be considerate, respectful and nonjudgmental of your sensitivities if they value a relationship with you.

Chemical and fragrance sensitivities is a growing problem, and it is concerning to me to learn about the types of ingredients that make up many fragrances these days.  I will post more about this later.  Over ten years ago when I was searching the Internet for information and resources, I came across only a couple of websites with passing mentions of the problem.  Now, when you Google “fragrance sensitivity,” “chemical sensitivity,” “multiple chemical sensitivity” etc., there seems to be endless hits.

For those of us who live with this kind of condition, it is real.  It’s not all in our heads.  I will post more information in the future.  But for now, here’s a question to think about (inspired by blogs from two MCS sufferers, Sherri Connell and Linda Sepp).  If a friend or loved one mentions that a certain fragrance or chemical around is making them ill, even if you are the one using a fragranced product, what would you do?

Would you choose the product?

Fragrance - Choosing the Product

Or

Would you choose the friendship and try to help get your friend away from the problem, or make yourself and your home safe when you are around your friend, regardless of the type of sensitivity they have (food, flowers, environmental, electromagnetic, etc.)?

Fragrance - Choosing Friendship

Here are a few fellow bloggers I know of who live with similar sensitivities.  If you or someone you know is struggling with chemical or other sensitivities, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section or let me know if you/they have a blog.

Take A Break

Let it clear

.
Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.  ~ Lao Tzu

Sometimes we just need to take a break to clear our minds or let fresh thoughts and ideas flow in.  Here are just a few examples:

  • If we are struggling with finding a solution to a problem, it may help to let it rest for a while.  Go for a walk or do something else, and return to the problem refreshed rather than continuing to spin our wheels.
  • If we are overcome by chronic physical or emotional pain, perhaps a meditative or other relaxing activity will temporarily lessen the intensity.
  • If thoughts are racing through our minds, anxiety is elevated, or tempers are flying in a heated interaction, calming down can clear or minimize the turmoil.
  • etc.

What are some muddy waters you have faced and what have you done to let it become clear?

Never Give Up

Nana korobi ya oki

Nana korobi ya oki (七転び八起き) is a Japanese proverb that means, “seven times down, eight times up.”

nana (七) = 7
korobi (転び) = fall down
ya (八) = 8
oki (起き) = get up

It is a saying about perseverance and not giving up no matter how many times you are knocked down.  I’ve seen this proverb associated with the Japanese Daruma doll, which is a hollow, round Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism.  These dolls are weighted at the bottom in a way that will always return to an upright position when tilted over.

Never Give Up.  May you always get up after a fall.

Daruma

Daruma Doll
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Addressing Emotional Pain #6 – Flashbacks

Squirrel Spinning
Squirrel Spinning, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
.

>>:::<<
a sudden rewind
engulfs me in a whirlwind
flashback
>>:::<<

Do you experience flashbacks of traumatic, sad or other painful events?

A description of flashbacks is:

a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually powerful, re-experiencing of a past experience or elements of a past experience. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion one can consider. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person ‘relives’ the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in ‘real time.’  Flashbacks are the ‘personal experiences that pop into your awareness, without any conscious, premeditated attempt to search and retrieve this memory.’  (Source: Wikipedia)

I have grouped painful flashbacks as part of  the “addressing emotional pain” category because I’ve learned through my pain psychology sessions that they are handled similarly to emotional pain.  In previous postings, I included some of the tools that can help with painful emotions, including having an awareness of the body and how it is feeling, physically and emotionally.

Certain situations (events, places, smells, comments, time of year, etc.) can trigger flashbacks.  They can be very uncomfortable and lead to feelings like fear, sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, etc.  There are a few situations that trigger flashbacks for me.  They can go as far as feeling anxiety, and a couple even resulted in panic attacks.

A flashback can feel very real, and your body may think it is a real event.  When a flashback occurs, what are some things we can do to get through it?  The key thing to remember is that the traumatic event in the flashback is not happening now even though the emotions, fears, and physical responses may be the same.  Over time, the reactions to the flashbacks will diminish.  Some with take more work than others.  The goal is to get to the point where they are “just memories” and that’s it.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Breathe and practice relaxation techniques
  • Allow your body to feel what is happening and have a curious acceptance about those feelings.
  • Use some of the tools I’ve talked about to address emotional pain like mindfulness meditation, body awareness, guided imagery, etc.  Click here to see more examples.
  • Have empathy for yourself and coach yourself through it calmly and objectively.  For example, some of the things I’m learning to say to myself are:
    • “I wonder what this means.”  (This is an important one for me because it involves seeking guidance from our inner advisor, which I’ve also posted about before.)
    • “What was the trigger?”
    • “I am remembering things very vividly, but it is not happening to me now.”
    • “This is uncomfortable, I hate it, but I got through this before and I will get through it again.”
    • “It will not kill me.”
    • “I have the skills and tools to help me, and I know how to use them.”

Although coping with some of my flashbacks still need more work, there are a few that now carry no emotion, no hurt, and no anxiety if the memories occur…they have gradually become “just memories!”

If you have experienced painful flashbacks, what methods have helped you get through it?

More

Anxiety, Emotions and Opening To Them

The guidance in this posting was prepared and provided to me by my Craniosacral Therapist (CST, LMT).  She has given me permission to include it in this blog either in verbatim or paraphrased.  (FYI – I first posted about my initial experience with CST here.)

My CST has been treating me for many physical issues over the last couple of years including chronic pain in several areas of my body, and recovery from multiple surgeries.  Weekly craniosacral and massage therapy sessions from her, regular pain psychology sessions from a licensed psychologist, and periodic acupuncture treatments from a licensed acupuncturist, have provided me with the majority of improvements and answers concerning my recent health issues.

Since the body and the mind are connected, professionals and exercises in both areas are essential for my healing.  My CST said it is important to note that she is not a psychologist, and that her work includes how the mind and psyche (such as anxiety, emotions, thoughts, feelings) enter and affect the body physically.  Her expertise and treatments have been very helpful for me.  The information here is based on her personal experiences and materials she has come across over the years in bodywork trainings, meditation trainings, and teachings she has heard.  I thank her for allowing me to include her experiences here.  (This image below is a doodle I did to introduce her information.)

.
When you feel a strong emotion arise:

1)  Focus on your breath.  Connect with the physical sensations of breathing in your body.  Do you feel your chest rise and fall, do you feel the breath rush past places in your sinuses or down the back of your throat?  Any place you can feel the breath enter and leave, focus there.  Your breath is your anchor to the present moment.  It’s impossible to breath in the past or future where your mind and/or body often want to go in their remembering or anticipating.  To invite yourself fully into the present moment, focus on your breath.  Note how your breath feels and what you notice.  After noting awareness, invite your breath to gradually become slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular.  I often repeat those four parts to myself when I feel increased anxiety…slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular. Give yourself several minutes of this practice to slow down.  Dr. Andrew Weil teaches this practice as a way to turn off fight or flight response in the body.  You may be able to find more information on his website or look for his Breathing: Master Key to Self Healing series.

More

Keep Going Even If It’s Slow!

It does not matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.  ~ Confucius

Many health issues over the last few years, including high chronic pain, have slowed me down significantly.  In my healthy heyday, I was constantly on the go and had a good career!  Now, I move very slow and am dependent on others to help stabilize me when we leave the house.  I feel like I am being left behind in this fast paced world.  However, I do have wonderful people closest to me who have stuck with me, supported and encouraged me in many ways, and have slowed their pace to meet mine.  This is gold!

Improvements are slow but I am better than I was two years ago.  During those times when things get discouraging, it’s important to remember quotes like this.  Slow is not bad.  It helps one appreciate the things that whizzed by before.

Even if I am moving  s l o w l y,  it still means there is progress.  Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare?  In the end, the tortoise won with slow, steady progress.

What are some profound quotes you have handy when experiencing tough times?

Emotion: Feeling Angry?

Squirrel Anger
Squirrel Anger, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
volcano surges
lava guided to safe path
disaster averted
>>:::<<

Feeling angry?  Have you ever been so angry that you felt like punching something (like this little squirrel appears to be feeling)?

Feeling angry is not bad.  Remember, experiencing a variety of emotions depending on our circumstances, is a fact of life.  They are going to happen and they need to happen, and are a natural occurrence.  Anger is an intense emotion and can carry a great deal of force and energy with it.  If we bottle this energy inside us, it will come out later in one way or another, such as lashing out at others or as health problems, for example.  A number of tools exist that can help us analyze and express negative emotions, including anger, in a safe and healthy way.  Trying to stop the energy from anger may feel like trying to stop a hurricane, but, no, punching someone is NOT ok.

It’s important to recognize that anger is generally a secondary emotion, which I discussed in a previous posting.   Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation, and when we analyze our anger, we may discover that there are different emotions and feelings at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, etc.  (If we assume the little squirrel above is angry, what could be it’s primary emotion?  Fear, perhaps?)

Previously, I listed a number of tools that I keep in my toolbox to help analyze and address emotions.  There are numerous other ways that also exist, and each of us needs to find the tools, or combination of tools that work for us.  I’ve listed these before, but here is a handful of tools that may help:

  • Managing symptoms by expression:
    • Talk out your emotions with a good friend or relative who is willing to listen
    • Write about your feelings in a journal or through poetry
    • Cry.  It is “part of a healthy emotional healing process”
    • Express your feelings through art, photography or crafts (like I did with the squirrel photo above)
  • Do some kind of exercise like walking, jogging, aerobics, etc., that can use the emotional energy associated with the anger and move it out of your body
  • Practice deep breathing exercises; meditate
  • Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools
  • Addressing Emotional Pain #4 – Secondary Emotions

Finding safe and healthy ways to release painful and negative emotions from our bodies creates space for more positive emotions to move in, and more peace within our life.

.
What are some of the ways you have found to help manage anger?
.

Related article(s):

  • Anger – Recovery Thru My Lens

More

Listening to Your Inner Advisor

.
The Master observes the world 
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.
~ Lao Tzu

Conversation with myself
Conversation with Myself, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
.

>>:::<<
a resonating voice
soundless yet influential
listen and trust it
>>:::<<

Have you ever looked inside yourself to find answers to your questions, whether it’s help with a problem, a project, making decisions, finding out what’s behind some of our health issues and what we need to heal, determining the reason for certain recurring memories, or even why some situations seem to trigger strong emotions, etc.?  Our questions can involve a variety of issues, and sometimes the answers you receive can be very surprising, as depicted in my photo above.

Those who understand or practice mind/body exercises like meditation or guided imagery probably understand how important it is to consult and trust our inner voices, ie., tapping into our subconscious for help (also referred to as our “inner advisor” or “inner physician” – I like to use the term “inner advisor,” which I introduced in my posting here about a year ago ).  This also helps build and strengthen our intuition. More

Addressing Emotional Pain #5 – Recognizing Deeper Emotions with Artwork

To see things in the seed, that is genius.  ~ Lao Tzu

In a previous post I listed some tools to help address emotional pain.  One of those tools I learned is creating artwork that represents what you are feeling, such as a drawing, painting, sketching, doodling, photography, etc.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to be an artist.  The important point to remember is that the energy associated with painful emotions needs an outlet, instead of becoming trapped in the body.  Just try to get it out of you.  Stopping, distracting, dismissing or suppressing these emotions can surface later in other, potentially harmful ways.

When you create your “emotion” artwork, ask yourself a couple of questions.  “What does this picture mean?”  “What is it trying to tell me?”  It may depict a primary feeling at first, such as sadness, anger, fear, etc.  But try to dig deeper and notice other feelings that arise.  Don’t be content with the first emotion you are creating because this could help reveal core issues that need to be addressed.

Look at the following doodle for example.  Have you ever felt down or discouraged, like you were in a deep hole and didn’t know how to climb out?  If this were one of your doodles, what are your initial feelings?  Is it hopeless, overwhelmed…?  If you dig deeper, what are other feelings that arise?  List them…is it sad…lonely…frustrated…angry…isolated…irritated, etc…?  The face may not depict all the emotions, but dig deeper.  Notice what else you are feeling.  More

Emotion: Feeling Irritable?

Irritable #2
Irritable #2, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
nerves yearning for fly swatters
while tormented by hornets
irritable
>>:::<<

Are you feeling extra touchy?  (male finch on the left with the evil eye)
Do others feel like they are walking on eggshells around you?  (female finch on the right)

Irritability is a normal emotion depending on your condition, health, stressors, hormones, etc.  Here are some tools and links that may help with the emotion:

.
How do you manage irritability?  Please share.
. More

Emotion: Lonely

Lonely
Lonely, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Calm, cool water
embracing each drop of rain
The lake hides my tears
>>:::<<

Expanding on my last post about “loneliness” versus “aloneness” I’m using this photo to represent both being alone and being lonely.  By the way, does anyone know what kind of bird this is?

(I’m using one of my artwork “tools” again to help address emotions.  See my posting on Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools.)

Other postings in my “Emotion:” series:

Emotion: Loneliness (versus Aloneness)

.

As they pertain to emotions, my interpretation of  “aloneness” and “loneliness” are:

  • Aloneness – a geographical separation, apartness or isolation from other people (your health condition can contribute or cause you to be separate and alone); a mental separation from others (such as being focused in an activity by yourself).
  • Loneliness – a separation from others due to a lack of connection with people, or lacking emotional support, compassion and encouragement.

This first photo demonstrates “aloneness” to me. Even though one can feel alone and lonely at the same time, I get a feeling of peace, calmness, content and warmth from looking at this photo. The butterfly is alone and immersed in collecting nectar, but does not appear to be lonely at all.

Sweet Butterfly
Sweet Butterfly, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

I used the second photo below to demonstrate emotional loneliness. Even though people may be physically very close, the emotional distance between them can be as far apart as the planet Pluto is from the Sun. They are not looking at each other, they are not connecting, they are not listening to each other, and they may not be supporting each other emotionally. I also feel a lack of compassion. The snow and ice also adds to the coldness of this photo.

Cold Chickadees
Cold Chickadees, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Sitting together
an admirable closeness
Deafening silence
>>:::<<

I’m using one of my artwork “tools” again to help address emotions.  See my posting on Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools.

Other postings in my “Emotion:” series:

Support and Encouragement

Friend
A Friend, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

.
True friends and family fly to you when you don’t have the ability to fly yourself.  They support, comfort and encourage you physically and emotionally.  ~ Fergiemoto

Finch (right):  “I’m so discouraged.”
Junco (left):  “I’m there for you.  How can I help?  You can talk to me…I really mean it.”

Remember that close friends and relatives struggling with chronic/invisible illnesses or pain need us to be there for them.  Here are some ways to show support and encouragement:

  • Slow down.  Listen with your whole body and 100% of your attention.  Look at them and acknowledge you are truly hearing what they are saying.  To the person talking, this is more valuable than all the gold in the world.  Never underestimate the power of holding the space for someone who needs a listening ear. You may be their life-line.
  • Let them know you are truly there for them and that you are listening.  Silence when a person needs to know someone is really there can lead them to feel lonely.
  • Avoid interrupting them while they are talking.  Let them finish speaking before you respond.  When you are talking, you are not listening.
  • Allow the person to feel just as they are.  Avoid judgment, lecturing, criticizing, ridiculing, etc.  Telling them to tough it out, quit complaining, pull it together, they have a low pain tolerance, they’re crazy, it’s not a big deal, or threatening to stay away can lead to negative results.  Sometimes the pain inside is much more intense than the pain they are showing.
  • Be there with them, physically and emotionally.  Don’t try to fix it. More

“Celebrate The Small Successes!”

Baby steps…toddler steps…sometimes this is the pace we have to take to achieve our end goals and desires.  Overcoming any kind of struggle can be very daunting, frustrating and discouraging, and setting large goals can seem overwhelming.  They require patience that sometimes we don’t think we have anymore.  It’s easy to get over-ambitious and all too often, we are looking for an overnight success, which is understandable.  In the meantime, we overlook and neglect the small accomplishments that lead to larger victories.  Busy schedules can bog us down; pain can seem to overtake our entire waking moments that we wonder if there is ever an end; then we miss the chance to celebrate those wins.  Progress is good at any level because it means we are headed in the right direction.  I realize this is easier said than done.  Believe me, I’ve been there many times.

When you have a success, do you say a quick “yay”, move on as if nothing special happened, and then rarely or never give it another thought?  The next time you have a success, remember this:  Recognize…Reward…and Celebrate!  You are working hard to reach your goal, so don’t brush it aside.  The body and mind need the reinforcement and encouragement.  When you celebrate, you are helping to breed an attitude of “I’m successful” to your mind, which will then breed more success.  One success leads to another to another and hopefully you will accelerate the process of reaching your goals, i.e., the snowball effect.  Mental health affects physical health. More

Addressing Emotional Pain #4 – Secondary Emotions

Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment; Mastering the self is true power.  ~ Lao Tzu

Recognizing our primary and secondary emotions helps us understand what our core emotions and issues are.  I talked a little about core issues in my previous post on body awareness.  Simply, secondary emotions occur in response to a primary emotion.  Eventually we may unknowingly bury our primary emotions until they are unrecognizable.  The problem with this is that we may think our secondary emotions are what we are really feeling, and address those, rather than addressing the true and primary emotions.

Anger is a good example of a secondary emotion.  Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation.  When we get behind our anger, we may discover that there is a different emotion at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, regret, sadness, loneliness, etc.  Anger, although an intense emotion, is more acceptable and easier to admit to than showing vulnerability.  If a primary emotion is shame, people usually don’t want to admit to shame, so they may respond with anger instead.  Some will want to push back for safety, and get away from the true emotion with a few sharp words of anger.

Irritability can be a similar response to anger.  It is usually a secondary emotion (other than hormonal).  What about anxiety?  It could be a secondary emotion to fear.

If we don’t address our primary emotions, they likely won’t go away.  We may not express them for a variety of reasons, such as habit, upbringing, social situations, etc.  Therefore, secondary emotions may end up hindering us because we are not addressing the real issue, nor are we expressing them appropriately.  Also, we probably won’t be able to understand what our primary emotions are without understanding how to use self-awareness tools, some of which I have talked about in this blog.  Tools such as body awareness, mindfulness meditation, emotion focus therapy, guided imagery, downward arrow exercise, and so on, really help us listen to our bodies and feelings.  You may have a different tool that you have found to be effective for you.  Something to keep in mind is to keep asking yourself, “what am I feeling…what else am I feeling…what else…what else?”

It’s like deconstructing a recipe.  When you taste something, there is an interplay of ingredients that make up the overall taste.  But savor the flavors and notice the individual tastes and sensations.  What’s making up the taste?  For example, you may find that you taste cinnamon, pepper, lemon, etc.  So..…what’s really making up your emotions?  Try to deconstruct it and see what you find.

Don’t always be comfortable with your first emotion.  Try to find out what it is really about.  Recognizing deeper emotions can be very helpful part of a healing process!

Related articles:

Previous Older Entries