Celebrate Yourself in 2023

Celebrate Yourself in 2023

Last year I achieved a major accomplishment. I trained hard for several months and competed in a Jiu Jitsu competition I had wanted to compete in for years. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and forced myself to out in front of hundreds of strangers, my team and my coaches and compete. And you know what? It was great! I came in second place, I felt good about myself, and I was proud of having put myself out there to compete with some younger guys. That whole night felt magical… until I got home.

When I got home it was like someone had let all of the air out of my balloon. My significant other didn’t even ask me how it went and when I told her, she didn’t seem to care. There was no celebration. I felt heartbroken. Although she knew how hard I trained and how nervous I was for this particular event, she did not acknowledge it at all once I got home. I felt a little defeated. I realized that something that meant a lot to me meant absolutely nothing to her and while ideally, our friends, family and significant others would want to celebrate our accomplishments, at the end of the day they may not totally understand what it means to us, so we have to be able to celebrate ourselves regardless of if others want to celebrate with us or not.

How Do You Learn To Celebrate Yourself

Unfortunately, many of us do not know how to celebrate ourselves. Some of us don’t do it out of fear of appearing conceited or boastful. Many of us have even been taught to not celebrate ourselves, but it’s important to recognize and celebrate our achievements, especially for ourselves, but it may even encourage or inspire others as well.

You can start by celebrating small achievements. Many of us like to wait until we accomplish a big goal before we celebrate, but often times those big goals take along time to achieve and we can get discouraged along the way. That’s why it’s important to celebrate the small accomplishments as well. Let’s say that your New Years resolution is to lose 50 pounds. You don’t have to wait until you lose all 50 to celebrate. You can celebrate losing five pounds, then ten or even celebrate when you make it through a whole week sticking to your diet and/or exercise plan. Those little celebrations can help motivate you to keep going and accomplishing your goal.

Start small.

Even if you don’t have any big goals coming up, it is good to get into the habit of reflecting back on your accomplishments at the end of the week. Did you clean that garage? Did you meet your steps goals more days than not? Did you cut back on sugar like you had planned? Sometimes you have to celebrate things such as just making it to the gym on a day when you really didn’t want to go, or writing a few sentences on a day when writers block felt particularly crippling.

Ways to Celebrate Yourself

  1. Give yourself a break. Take a day off work and do something special just for yourself. That may mean lying in bed binge watching your favorite TV show, hanging out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, enjoying a nature walk or all three. Just make sure whatever you do is for you. If you can’t carve out a whole day, carve out a couple of hours. Get a babysitter and give yourself some “me time” or turn off all of your electronic devices and enjoy an hour to yourself.
  2. Share your success with others. You can celebrate privately or you can share your accomplishments with others. Yes, some of your friends may not care that you lost 5 pounds this week, but I am willing to bet that many more of your family and friends would love to hear about your accomplishments and are willing to be supportive. Share your accomplishments rather it’s privately with a few close friends and family or on social media and accept the compliments. Remember, sharing an accomplishment you’re proud of is not bragging or boasting.
  3. Dress up to celebrate yourself. You don’t have to be going anywhere special, but the way we dress can influence the way we feel. If we want to celebrate ourselves, sometimes it’s good to dress the part. You don’t have to save your fancy clothes or the clothes that make you feel special for those special occasions when celebrating yourself is a special occasion. This is one way I used to privately celebrate myself and yet everyone I came in contact with would notice and some would even ask what the special occasion was.
  4. Buy yourself something special. I’m a big proponent on buying gifts for myself. Celebrate yourself by buying yourself something you want and if it’s something that may cost a lot of money, celebrate yourself buy saving towards it. It could be a new pair of shoes, a trip to Vegas or something as simple as a book you’ve been wanting to read. I celebrated myself last month by buying myself a watch I really wanted but knew no one else would ever by me.

I really hope this year is full of joy, love, good health and many celebrations for you!

Mental Health Struggles After a Hurricane

Mental Health Struggles After a Hurricane

I live in “The Sunshine State”, but unfortunately, it’s not always sunny herein Florida especially during hurricane season. Just last week many Floridians, including myself, were affected by hurricane Ian. While my house in suffered no damage other than to the fence and being out of power for three days, many others faired far worse. Many people lost their homes to the winds and floods. Sadly, many people also lost their lives. At the time of this writing, 103 people in Florida had died from the storm and recovery efforts are still ongoing. I work at a level 3 trauma hospital and have seen patients with injuries indirectly related to the storm such as burn injuries related to generator fires and electrocutions caused by down power lines. Being in a major storm can be terrifying and even after the storm has passed, it’s effects can still linger not just with the damage to the community, but mentally with those who survived.

For many, such natural disasters can trigger a continuing sense of anxiety and depression or worsen long-simmering mental illnesses, mental health experts say. The effects, if left untreated, can linger for years.

Going through a natural disaster like a hurricane can be very traumatic. Thousands of people had to evacuate their homes, and some had no home to return to, losing all of their possessions and some even their businesses and jobs in the process. In Orange County where I live, schools were closed for several days, and one elementary school is damaged so badly because flooding that those kids are now being taught at a high school. Imagine how traumatizing that is for elementary age kids to suddenly lose their school and have to adjust to a whole new environment that no one could have prepared them for. While children are known for being resilient, I have no doubt that many of them will need additional emotional support at this time.

Often people who suffer from a mental health issue will have a worsening of symptoms especially because they tend to lack adequate coping skills as it is. Even those who don’t suffer from mental health issues may find themselves struggling weeks to months later when they realize how difficult it may be to rebuild, the financial toll the storm has taken on them or anxiety whenever another storm may be headed their way. Once power got restored at my house I had to go through my refrigerator and freezer and throw away almost everything which in itself could cause someone on a limited income anxiety and depression as that food has to be replaced somehow. Luckily there are government assisted programs like FEMA that are offering aid to those in need.

Here are some tips for coping with natural disasters like hurricanes from The Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • Create a plan: Being prepared can help reduce anxiety before, during and after a big storm. Make a plan to evacuate and put together preparedness kits.
  • Be informed: Keep a close eye on weather information and warnings. That may help you gain a sense of control over the situation.
  • Talk it out: Don’t be afraid to talk about your fears with family members, friends, a counselor, or others who can offer emotional support.
  • Accept what you can’t control: Nobody can control the path of a storm or its damage. Excessive worry will not change anything except your emotional well-being.

Some people may need to stay away from watching too much news coverage of the storm as it can be upsetting. Trying to get back to your normal daily activities as soon as possible can be helpful as well as exercising, sleeping and eating right. It’s really hard to manage your mental health when you’re mentally and physically exhausted.

If you can, after the disasters has passed, consider doing something that may make you feel good such as donating food, money or your time. If, however, you feel extremely overwhelmed, depressed and your symptoms don’t improve in a few weeks, it may be time to seek professional help.

Often people think after a storm or natural disaster only about the clean-up and rebuilding, but it’s important that we don’t neglect the survivor’s mental health.

I’ve attached some personal pictures to show just some of the damage Ian caused across central Florida. Things are much worse in certain areas, especially where the storm made landfall.

View from my old house in Orlando the day after Ian passed through.
The view from a friend’s house

A picture a friend of mine who is a fire fighter sent me while rescuing people from flooded houses the day after hurricane Ian
The food from my refrigerator and freezer that had to be thrown away due to not having power for over three days

Achieve Your Goals Using the GROW Coaching Model

Achieve Your Goals Using the GROW Coaching Model

This morning I worked with a patient who unfortunately ended up in the hospital after a near fatal suicide attempt. Honestly when he first came in I didn’t think he was going to make it because his condition was so grim, but over the past several weeks he has made a miraculous recovery although he still faces a long uphill battle.

Today he was given some frustrating news that he is likely going to have to have another surgery after he thought he was done having surgeries. I could hear in his voice that he was upset that this will prolong his hospital stay (he is no longer suicidal, realizes how lucky he is and wants to be home with his family dearly), but also with each surgery there are risks of more complications and possibly even death.

I sat with him, listened to his concerns and offered words of encouragement and validated his feelings. I also reminded him of all the love and support he has of his wife and children. That’s when I decided it would be helpful for us to use the GROW coaching model to help get him through the feelings of hopelessness and negativity he was staring to express as he contemplated on goin through with the surgery or not.

What is the GROW Coaching Model?

GROW stands for goal, reality, options and way forward (or will do). It’s a simple and powerful tool that many business leaders, life coaches and therapist use, but with a little practice, anyone can use it at anytime to help them achieve their goals.

The fist thing is to figure out what is your goal. Your goal should be a SMART goal, meaning it should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

GOAL

  • This patient stated that his goal is to get well enough to return home with his family as soon as medically possible

REALITY

  • He acknowledged that while his goal is to get home to his family, the reality is that he is currently stuck in the hospital, still fighting to recover from what should have been an non-survivable injury.

OPTIONS

Looking around the room that his family had decorated with beautifully handmade get well cards and family pictures, I actually told him that he had no other options but to get better, but of course in reality he does. and together we processed those

  • He mentioned he could refuse to have surgery which would likely worsen his condition and possibly lead to death or more permanent brain damage
  • He could talk to the medical team for a better understanding of what the surgery entails along with it’s risks and benefits so that he would feel more comfortable making a decision either way
  • He could have the surgery, which while it comes with risks, has far more potential benefits of helping him recover

Way Forward

Lastly we came up with a plan based on his goal, the reality of his current situation and his options.

  • He decided he would talk to the medical team and voice his concerns about the surgery

Personally, I wanted him to chose to have the surgery as I think it is the best option, but I’m not the one having the surgery and it’s not my job to give him my opinion. My job is to help guide him to make the best decision possible based on the information available and I think his choice to postpone the surgery until he has a clear understanding from the medical team is the best decision for him.

Once he has met with the medical team I’ll see what his decision is and help him through that as well.

The beauty about using the GROW model to help figure out goals is that you can use it everyday for small goals or use it as for major, life changing goals.

Recently using the GROW model helped me realize that a plan of action one of my clients had was really not going to help him achieve his goal and we were able to use the model for him to see it for himself without me having to directly point it out which was great. This not only helped him achieve his goal, but also saved us a lot of time in helping him to achieve it.

Try the GROW model out for yourself. I personally use it regularly and find it extremely helpful and efficient.

Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing

It was only recently that I realized I had spent a great deal of time in not one, but two relationships where I was the victim of breadcrumbing. Although the term breadcrumbing is relatively new, the acts behind it are not.

What exactly is breadcrumbing?

Breadcrumbing is basically the act of leading someone on. The person doing the breadcrumbing has no real interest in the same type of commitment to the relationship (romantic, social, intimate, etc) that the other person desires. Still, the breadcrumber enjoys the attention or special favors gained from associating with the other person, so they do just enough to keep that person seeking more through superficial acts of interest and flirtation. In the end however, the breadcrumber never gives the other person the full relationship they are seeking and often ends up hurting them through abandonment, false expectations, and empty promises.

The breadcrumber often shows interest when they want something and once they get it, they go back to being elusive and self-absorbed. Most of the time, the person being breadcrumbed eventually realizes that they are being led on, but often continue to deal with the other person in hopes that eventually the breadcrumbing will stop, and the other person will genuinely desire the same type of relationship with them that they are seeking.

Breadcrumbing happens a lot in dating and relationships where one person is looking for commitment and is being strung along by the breadcrumber who does just enough to give their “victim” hope. It can also happen in other relationships as well such as friendships where one friend is constantly seeking connection while the other entertains the friend when it benefits them and then basically disappears when it doesn’t. It can even happen at work in situations such as a supervisor giving you extra responsibilities and hope saying you’ll get promoted one day, but that day never seems to come.

Breadcrumbing can cause the person being subjected to the breadcrumbing to undergo emotional stress, anxiety and even depression due to breadcrumbing being inconsistent and lacking integrity. More severe forms of breadcrumbing can even border on the lines of manipulation, emotional abuse, and narcissistic behavior.

Sometimes it’s hard to identify if you’re being breadcrumbed because usually the person being breadcrumbed is unsure of how the other person feels about them. They know how they feel about the breadcrumber, but they get mixed signals in return. Often this can make the person feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster.

I know in once incident when I was being breadcrumbed, every time I thought this person and I were finally crossing over the line of friendship into a romantic relationship, she’d back off only to come back around again whenever she was going through personal problems and again we’d get close, spend a lot of time together and practically be in a relationship only for her to put distance between us again. It was painful. Sometimes she’d tell me she wasn’t ready for a relationship only to get into a relationship with someone else. Of course when that relationship (and the next, and the next) didn’t work out, she’d come back around and I would hope that this time would be different, but it never was.

This lead to me having a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and insecurity which is a very common experience when you’re being breadcrumbed.

Relationship Dependency

Breadcrumbing can also lead to relationship dependence because of the inconsistency and false hope given to the person being breadcrumbed. They keep showing up and trying in hopes of one day winning the lottery and somedays they feel like they get so close to picking the lucky numbers that it’s hard to stop playing even when it seems hopeless.

Like I said, the young lady I was being breadcrumbed by often spend so much time together talking, or going out for dinner or drinks that it very often felt like we were a couple, but only when she wanted to. More often than not we’d make plans only for her to cancel them at the last minute.

The breadcrumber has all the power over approval, attention and acceptance which adds to the relationship dependency. The person being breadcrumbed always wants to be in the company of the breadcrumber, but the breadcrumber only comes around when it benefits them in some way. They usually aren’t really there when the person being breadcrumbed needs them, yet the person still holds out hope that one day that will change.

Sadly, often times the breadcrumber doesn’t really care about the person being breadcrumber or they are too emotionally unavailable to offer more than what they are giving. Perhaps they are already in a committed relationship or are holding out for what they perceive is their ideal person and until then, they will take what they can get from you.

Eventually the person being breadcrumbed usually realizes that they have been wasting their time, energy, money and attention on someone who is not going to return it in the way that they desire and deserve.

For me it took years and multiple times being hurt and disappointed before I realize that it was never going to happen. By then I had suffered through bouts of loneliness, low-self esteem and even depression because as much as I wanted our relationship to work, it was always leaving me feeling as if I weren’t good enough.

People who do the breadcrumbing aren’t usually bad people. Yes, sometimes they are narcissistic and just want to hurt and use you (those tend to be bad people), but often they actually like you, just not in the same way you like them or they just can’t give you what you want. They don’t want to totally let you go because they realize you have a lot to offer. Exes often do breadcrumbing because they haven’t really moved on or they don’t want you to move on, for example.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you deserve to be treated better than the way the breadcrumber is treating you and if that answer is yes, then it’s time to move on from that relationship and seek the fulfilling relationship you deserve with someone who wants the same thing.

Signs of Narcissistic Abuse

Most people don’t choose to fall in love with a narcissist. Narcissists have an uncanny way of being charming and swooning. Yeah, they may be a little arrogant, but confidence is attractive. What separates someone who is confident from someone who has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Is your partner a narcissist? I know that term gets thrown around a lot out of context, often when someone disagrees with their partners behavior, but if you were in a relationship with a true narcissist you would know it.

Perhaps you know that your partner isn’t treating you right and that they are arrogant, seem to have an inflated ego, takes pokes at you that make you feel bad, and they have angry outbursts that are often out of proportion to the situation. You may not realize it, but you may be stuck in what is known as “the narcissistic abuse cycle”.

Narcissists for the most part are not capable of being in a healthy, loving and equal relationship because when it comes to the narcissist, they must always put themselves first. Even when it seems like they’re not, it’s usually because they are planting seeds for something later.

As someone in a relationship with a narcissist, you will feel the relationship is constantly suffering and you might not be quite sure why.

Here are some signs you should look out for to help determine if you’re indeed in a relationship with a narcissist and caught up in the narcissistic abuse cycle.

You Hold Back Constructive Criticism

Do you Feel like you can’t give your partner constructive criticism because they always take it the wrong way? It turns into a fight you weren’t trying to have, or they find a way to turn it around on you? So instead of saying what’s on your mind you tend to bite your tongue more often than you’d like. An example is, if you tell your partner after his fourth beer that maybe he doesn’t need another, he lashes out at you for calling him an alcoholic or he says you’re always breathing down his back and you’re the reason he drinks.

You Come Second Almost All the Time

Do your wants, needs and desires come second to your partners? Does it feel like most of the time they’re not even considered? A narcissist is so focused on themselves that they often don’t even consider what their partner might want or need. For example, your partner knows you’re a vegetarian, but never takes you to a Vegan restaurant, but instead to his favorite Steak House where he insists you can order a salad and veggies there.

You’re Unfairly Labeled

This is a form of gaslighting that narcissist do very well. They dismiss you as being “dramatic’, “silly” or “controlling”.  The way a narcissist does this makes you start to question yourself. You start to doubt your own thoughts and believes. What the narcissist is doing is slowly eating away at your worldview while reinforcing theirs. You start wondering, “Maybe I am too sensitive and dramatic”.

You Start Falling for Their Fantasies

Often narcissists live in a fantasy world where they are better at things then they really are. This is especially true when it comes to money. Very often, a narcissist will spend money they don’t have in order to appear more successful than they are, even if that means neglecting their spouse and other priorities. They may not buy you gifts, or buy you gifts that seem not thoughtful, while splurging on gifts for themselves they can show off.

The Relationship Is Unstainable

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is very much like being in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder, much of their traits are similar. The only way the relationship has a way of surviving is if you are okay with always putting the other person first and your needs, desires and dreams second if at all. That isn’t a healthy relationship for anyone and yet many people stay in long term relationships with narcist and suffer every day. Their wishes, desires and dreams are constantly being ignored and even extinguished. This can not only cause the person to have low self-esteem, but can actually be traumatic and cause post traumatic stress disorder in some people.

It’s important to recognize if you’re in an unhealthy relationship with someone with a narcissistic personality and start educating yourself and taking the necessary steps to protect your mind and emotions. It’s important that you separate your reality from their fantasy and in the end, it will help you determine to either end the relationship or at least keep you from totally losing yourself while in it.

Post Pandemic Mental Health Struggles

Post Pandemic Mental Health Struggles

Over the last year we have all been through collective trauma dealing with the global pandemic.

Many of us went through stressful moments with the lockdown bringing isolation for some, loss of income for others and increased anxiety, depression and substance use for others. Some of us have gotten sick or even worse, lost friends, family members or coworkers.

Now that there are vaccinations and restrictions are starting to lift in certain areas, you may think that everyone is feeling better, a sense of relief or hope, but that is simply not true for some individuals.

A lot of people are ecstatic about being able to gather with their family and friends without masks. Those who were working from home are excited about going back into the office and socializing face to face with their coworkers. Those who were feeling down or anxious are starting to feel their mood brighten, but for some , they are still struggling with the affects of this collective trauma. They may still be feeling down or anxious and some have reason to be. Just this weekend I was talking to a friend who had recently attended the funeral of his uncle who died from the virus a week prior. He, understandably still has some anxiety about the world reopening although he himself is vaccinated.

Healing from this collective trauma will take more time for some people and what will help is being in tune with ourselves and focusing on what we can control versus what we can’t. We have to find out what works for us to ease our anxiety and make us feel better.

For some people that may mean having a digital detox, limiting how much news they intake, exercising or focusing on better sleep hygiene.

It’s Okay to Say That You’re Not Okay

Over the weekend I had a long conservation with someone I go to the gym with about his struggles with mental illness, depression and even suicidal thoughts. We talked about how he joined the gym as soon as it reopened as a way to cope with some of the depression and negative thoughts he had been battling since before the pandemic, but had grown even more so during the pandemic.

Halfway through our conversation he told me that it felt good to have someone to talk to without feeling like he was being judged. Although I was glad to be there for him, I felt sad that he felt like he didn’t have anyone else he could open up to.

Nowadays there is so much assess to mental health help and actionable information through things like Google’s self-assessments, that it is my hope that everyone who needs help will assess it and realize that they are not alone.

A lot of people who were anxious, lonely or depressed before the pandemic, grew more anxious, lonely or depressed during the pandemic and will continue to have those uneasy feelings and thoughts even when the people and world around them returns to normalcy.

It’s important that we look out for our family members and friends who may not be as excited or comfortable with the transition out of the pandemic. For some of them, a return to normality is a return to battling their mental health issues.

Letting the Dead Die this Easter (2021)

Nine years ago, I wrote a post entitled Letting the Dead Die this Easter and since it was so long ago, I thought I’d rewrite and expand on it since a lot has happened over those nine years.

Holding on to Dead Stuff

One of the reasons we get cheated out of living our best lives is that we tend to hold on to too much dead stuff. Dead relationships, dead jobs and dead dreams for example.

This Easter, the resurrection, no matter what religion (or no religion) you believe in, can have significant meaning for all of us. Perhaps you are married to something that is dead or holding on to a dream that is dead. Too many of us are holding on to death while trying to live.

Letting Dreams Die

Many of us have dreams that need to die. It’s not the most pleasant thought, but holding on to a dream that will never come to fruition holds us back from realizing the dreams that can and have already come true. It can’t happen until you let that dream die. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have dreams or fight for those dreams, even when they seem impossible, but sometimes we have to readjust the way expect that dream to come true.

For example, I have a client in his early fifties who has always dreamed of living in foreign exotic countries. He thinks about it pretty much every day and gets depressed when he realizes he’s not currently living that dream. At this moment, for him living that dream isn’t really practical. He has family obligations that are keeping him anchored in one place. My advice to him was to stop dwelling on the fact that he wasn’t currently living his dream because he was missing out on the beautiful life he has right in front of him. I told him he could still travel to and take vacations to those places and even study the languages of the places he wants to live. This particular dream doesn’t to die, but he does have to let go of the idea that it’s going to happen today or exactly how he had imagined it.

Another example is that some people say that they want to be doctors or lawyers, but they don’t like to read and they hate school so they are currently doing other jobs that don’t require much education and are still saying that they want to be doctors and lawyers. Of course if they decided they really wanted to apply themselves, thy could be whatever they wanted to be, but the reality is, they don’t want to be doctors and lawyers bad enough to make the sacrifices. They need to let those dreams go and create more realistic dreams based on the things that they enjoy doing, value and are willing to work hard to make come true. Otherwise they’re going to continue to be stuck doing menial, unsatisfying jobs while telling everyone around them they want they plan on being a doctor or lawyers.

Letting Relationships Die

A new great romantic relationship can’t happen until you let your old relationship die. You’re tied to something dead. Since I wrote this in 2012, I’ve had to let several relationships die. One was with someone I’d dated in high school and into my early adult years. After we broke up we remained friends, but it wasn’t a healthy friendship, it was almost parasitic on her part and it damaged and threatened any new relationship I tried to have with another woman. As much as it hurt, I had to let that relationship die if I wanted to have the chance of building something with someone more compatible.

A year later I did meet someone great, but that relationship also turned toxic and as much as I wanted it to work out eventually things go so bad that I knew I had to let that relationship go and force it to die. It was hard, just like letting any relationship or dream die because I saw so much good potential in it, but the reality was the bad outweighed the good and I would just get dragged through the mood trying to hold on to that potential.

More recently, I had to let a friendship go. I was friends with someone and we were just growing in totally different directions. I try to be healthy and workout and he likes to smoke and drink all day while partying all night. We started to have less and less in common and it got to the point were I dreaded hanging out with him. I found myself canceling plans we made or if I didn’t cancel I was glancing at my watch the whole time waiting for our evening to be over. He isn’t a bad guy, or even a bad friend, but in my opinion, he brought no added value or joy to my life. I could think of a dozen things I’d rather to doing then hanging out with him including doing nothing at all. I was forcing myself to be in a friendship I should just let die and by letting it die, I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulder and like I had got back just a little more time to do the things I enjoy doing.

Letting Jobs Die

I know a lot of people who waste years at dead end jobs. Jobs that they hate, jobs that don’t utilize their talent, creativity or intelligence. They just show up, some for decades and they’re not happy, but they’re not miserable enough to leave. Working in a correctional setting I have met guards who hate their jobs, feel like they’re basically baby sitting adults and yet they will come show up for the next 20 years so they can retire and they will complain about it for the next 20 years. I personally can’t leave like that. i’ve definitely been in jobs I should have left long before I did and there’s many reasons behind that, but for me, the biggest reason is fear of the unknown. Your current dead end job may be comfortable, even if it’s not stimulating or making you happy. Your dream job may require taking more of a risk, learning something new, putting yourself out there where you don’t know if you’ll fail or not. So it’s safe to stay at your dead end job, even if it’s slowly killing you inside.

Your dream job might be right around the corner, but it’s hard if not impossible to get to it if you are holding on to your dead job.

What’s in Your Life that Needs to Die?

This Easter, and periodically afterwards, I want you to examine what is it in your life that needs to die. Perhaps you need to let some guilt die, fear die or something from your past you’re still holding on to… let it die.

Maybe it’s a fantasy. Maybe you’re holding out for the perfect person and you’re missing so many other terrific people because you won’t let that fantasy die. This Easter is all about resurrection. Let what is dead go so that you can make room in your life for everything that is waiting to be raised.

Easter represents the the new life we all can find by living in the truth. Let what needs to die die so that this Easter Sunday, and everyday forward, you can be free to be all you were meant and born to be.

Overcoming Suffering While Incarcerated

Overcoming Suffering While Incarcerated

Working in a correctional setting, I often find myself reciting my favorite quote by Viktor Frankl; “To live is to suffer. To survive is to find meaning in the suffering.” The reason this quote appears to have such relevance when dealing with incarcerated people is that many of them see themselves as suffering. They are imprisoned, away from their families and often facing uncertain futures. Many become depressed, anxious, hopeless and unfortunately, suicidal.

When  I speak with inmates who see themselves and their situation as depressing and bleak, I remind them that yes, they may feel like they are suffering, but that is life. A large part of life for most people includes a great deal of suffering. There is joy, and there is pain. I remind them that they are not the only ones suffering. They are incarcerated with hundreds of other individuals going through similar situations and millions of people around the world who are going through their own struggles.

I encourage them to accept the reality of it. Learn from it. Figure out how to use this suffering to become a better, stronger person instead of dwelling on it and allowing it to punish you even more.

There is a popular saying in prisons that goes, “Do time, don’t let time do you”, which means to use your time incarcerated to better yourself, to live life even in the bleakest circumstances and to not just be miserable and unhappy counting down the months, years or even decades until you are released (if ever). Have something to look forward to and remember that suffering doesn’t have to last forever. This situation doesn’t have to be permanent. People find ways to live good, happy lives even while imprisoned for life.

I ask every inmate I evaluate, “What do you have to live for? What are you looking forward to?”  I want to know what will motivate them to not only survive the stressful environment of being in incarcerated, but also what will give them something to hold on to when they start struggling with depressing and negative thoughts.

Many will say they have kids to live for, or they’re young and have their whole lives ahead of them, or their family or goals they want to accomplish. These individuals tend to be much less likely to both get in more trouble while incarcerated as well as are less likely to attempt suicide compared to those who struggle with or can’t find a reason to live.

Lastly, I also try to help inmates to stop seeing themselves as victims. Many inmates think that they are being punished unjustly, or they keep getting arrested because they have bad luck. They blame the system, their friends, society. These inmates are more likely to deal with depression, suicidal thoughts and to become repeat offenders.

Instead, I try to help them see that things happen for them, not to them. Yes they got arrested and it sucks, but maybe this is going to save their lives by getting them off drugs, stop them from associated with that criminal element, teach them that they really do need anger management classes or that they really need to take their psychotropic medications. Hopefully this experience will help them reexamine their lives and make better choices.

When people see things as happening for them, instead of to them, they do time better, easier and even happier. They become inmate workers, earn GEDs and even college degrees while incarcerated. They tend not to look like the typical depressed, angry, bitter inmates that I encounter far to often.

The things I try to teach these inmates are invaluable to helping them survive being incarcerated and they can use it when they are released to hopefully live better lives and to not come back. It can also help all of us understand that we’re not special, things happen, life sometimes sucks, don’t take it personal, don’t dwell on it, learn from it and grow from it. It’s when we get stuck feeling down, victimized, hopeless, worthless and negative that we stop fully living life and start suffering though life. That’s when we start living in a prison of our own construction regardless of if we are incarcerated or not.

Get In To The Habit Of Asking Yourself: “Does This Support The Life I’m Trying To Create?”

Get In To The Habit Of Asking Yourself: “Does This Support The Life I’m Trying To Create?”

We create the lives we want by the things we think, the things we do, how we spend our time and the people we spend our time with.

The problem is, many of us mindlessly do things and spend time with people that do not support the life we are trying to create. We say we want to raise our standards and make positive changes in our lives, but our habits show otherwise.

This is a very common theme with the inmates I work with in the jail. I see some of the same inmates re-incarcerated over and over again. Many of them are generally good, caring and intelligent individuals who could do anything they set their minds to.

They have goals and dreams that don’t include being behind bars, yet when they get released from jail they tend to go back to the same neighborhood, hang around the same people and end up doing the same things that landed them in jail to begin with.

They are holding themselves back, just as many of us are holding ourselves back by wasting time and energy doing things and associating with people who are not going to get us to the lives we want for ourselves.

We may be in relationships with partners who don’t believe in us, don’t support our goals and dreams or worst, attempt to sabotage our goals rather it be weight-loss goals, financial goals or our happiness.

We may be at jobs that don’t offer room to grow, that doesn’t offer training courses for professional improvement and career advancement or simply requires so much of our time and energy that at the end of the day we have none left for much of anything else, let alone to pursue our passions and talents.

There are countless ways we can be in situations that are not supportive of what we are trying to create for ourselves. It’s real easy to get stuck situations and habits without thinking much about it, which is why I think it’s important for us to take a step back from time to time and become mindful about what we are doing and to remember what is it we really want.

So get into the habit of asking yourself, especially when you get that gut feeling or you know deep down you shouldn’t be doing something (i.e., going out drinking when you should be home studying): “Does this support the life I’m trying to create”.

At least once a week, get into the habit of taking a quick inventory of your life. It doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated, but check in with yourself:

  1. How is my life going? (take a quick look at all the important areas of your life and how satisfied you are in those areas)
  2. Make a note of the areas that need adjustment (areas where you are not so satisfied) and then commit to making changes in those areas.
  3.  Get to work making changes in those areas and repeat this check in again in a week or so. Little adjustments add up to big changes and you will realize you’ll start living more mindfully and intentional in creating the life you want and deserve.

Why Being Ghosted Hurts

Why Being Ghosted Hurts

The term “ghosting” refers to when someone you believe cares about or is at least interested in you, suddenly stops contacting you or responding to your efforts to reach out to them. It could be someone you’ve been on a few dates with, talked to everyday for the last couple of weeks through texting or even someone you considered to be a potential serious partner.

Ghosting can happen gradually, such as messages and phone calls becoming less and less frequent, or most commonly ghosting can happen suddenly with the person appearing to have simply dropped off the face of the Earth and vanished as the term implies.

Although the term may be new, ghosting itself is definitely not. People have been getting ghosted probably since the beginning of time, but with more people meeting and connecting online, it’s become easier to ghost other people, therefore, increasing the odds that you will get ghosted.

With more people meeting online and more people caring out a large part of their relationships online and through messaging, ghosting people today doesn’t have the same social consequences it used to have. If you ghost someone today, it’s less likely that you share a lot of the same friends and social connections, so disappearing on them doesn’t impact other parts of your world.

Being Ghosted Usually Isn’t About you

When have invested your time, energy and emotions into another person and then they suddenly drop out of your life, it can be very puzzling and even devastating, especially to those who already have self-esteem problems.

However, people tend to ghost other people because of their own emotional discomfort, lack of emotional intelligence and inability to communicate. They rarely think about how it will make the other person feel which is why ghosting can come off as a very selfish, cold and narcissistic act.

People often ghost when they don’t know how to say what they want so they just disappear because to them that is easier than having the conversation. Many times people get scared in a relationship so they leave or they may not think it is that serious so they don’t feel like they owe the other person anything, especially an explanation to why they are no longer interested. Definitely as I stated before, the online dating culture where we have less real life social connections, makes it easier to just stop communicating without giving any type of closure to the other person.

Men are notorious for ghosting, but it happens to us to. The more someone has been ghosted, the more likely they are to ghost someone in return. I’ve been ghosted a couple of times and it has always taken me by surprise because I thought the other person and I had a relationship where we would at least be friends, and then they were gone.

How Does it Feel To Be Ghosted?

If you have never been ghosted before, and I hope you never will be, I can tell you from my experience that it initially left me in shock and disbelief. I was angry because I felt like I had a great connection with someone. It was as if they had died, but they hadn’t. It was very painful and made me feel disrespected as if I wasn’t even good enough to have the conversation with. It made me feel disposable, especially the second time it happened. I feel like I could never just disappear on a person I supposedly cared about, so it made me question how could people do that to me? What was it about me that made me not worth even giving closure to? It felt like torture, being unsure of exactly what happened to both the relationship and the person. Of course you get over it and move on, but only after you gather yourself up off the floor.

Why Does Being Ghosted Hurt So Bad?

For some people, being ghosted may not hurt very much. They may be able to let go and move on easier than other people. They may understand that in this day and age, people tend to be less attached and see ghosting as a byproduct of dating.

For most people, being ghosting hurts. It feels disrespectful and creates questions and doubts about themselves and relationships.

Ghosting hurts because it’s a form of social rejection that triggers emotional pain. It hurts because it’s the ultimate silent treatment and in relationships, the silent treatment is considered emotional abuse. It hurts because it’s a passive-aggressive act that is psychologically and emotionally cruel. It hurts because we typically don’t see it common. It’s as if the rug were pulled from under our feet.

As I said in the beginning of this post, being ghosted has nothing to do with you. What it tells you is that the other person is too immature to have a mature healthy relationship and that they don’t know how to deal with their own emotions, or yours… or even worse, are too narcissistic, immature or selfish to care about your feelings. In any case, they are not someone you want to be in a relationship with. Do not allow being ghosted to make you question your worthiness or become jaded when it comes to relationships.It’s not about you, no matter how personal it may feel.