Tag Archives for " Healthy Mind "

The Masquerade of Perceived Bliss

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone ~ Miller Williams

Life is hard.

It doesn’t seem fair. And there are days when it’s no fun.

It makes sense that people dip into a deep blue funk (that’s what I call depression).

The Masquerade of Perceived Bliss begins early in life.

Lullabies hushing little ones to stop the tears – don’t cry – we’ll buy you something. Won’t you delight in one more snuggly stuffed animal?

We don’t want to see your tears.

Who called you a name at school? It’ll be ok, have some milk and cookies.

We can’t handle your hurt.

They made fun of your new jeans? Let’s go get the right jeans, then.

We need everyone to approve of you - you can’t be different.

The coach is being rough on you? Don’t worry about mowing the yard or getting your homework done – this is a blow to your self-esteem.

Just don’t cry. Please, don’t cry. I can’t stand to see you cry.

Stop the tears with food, clothes, money, video games, and alcohol…please, don’t be sad! You have no reason to be sad – look at everything you have!

Can we stop hot-wiring happiness?

There is no instant elation.

We are humans, created with crevices of imperfection. Sadness, anger, bitterness, jealousy, confusion, grief, anxiety, arrogance…

Yet, it is faster, easier and not only acceptable – but expected - to throw a cloak over the pain. You had better do just that, camouflage any emotion – you know you only have three bereavement days for the loss of your immediate family member, right?

Stuff all those tears. Take these pills. Read this book. Listen to this song.

We are complex beings and we regularly dismiss the intricacy of our souls for the sake of time-management.

We teach and we learn to impersonate emotional perfection. The childhood grief, adolescent pain, adult anxiety and fear begin to feel less important – maybe even imagined.

But the authentic soul aches to be seen and heard. If you don’t allow it a voice, its desire to be recognized will twist within your body. The pain is determined to be witnessed.

Not everyone has earned the privilege to bear witness to your pain. And that may be one of the most difficult steps of ending the Masquerade.

Your pain deserves to be validated, cared for, and supported and when we expose our emotional rawness to someone who doesn’t hold it sacred, the hurt is magnified.

Living in your truth is risky and takes courage…so, go slowly and remember this is a journey.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2015 Rebecca G. Townsend

The Badge of Busy-ness

“Be gentle with yourself.  Be gentle with yourself.”

I heard it over and over as I entered consciousness from a restless night of sleep.

The sun was beginning to show itself after it’s own evening of re-charging and it was becoming brighter and fuller.

I was not mimicking such energy in my own awakening.  My eyelids felt like 10 pound sandbags trying to be lifted by a mere pinky finger…gravity is winning.  And I am losing.

“But, be gentle with yourself,” I hear the small voice within cry out for it’s own attention.  Am I to treat myself with kid gloves?  Why do I keep hearing the same thing?

Could it be that I am not listening?  That I am moving too quickly…saying ‘yes’ when I should be saying ‘no’?

How do I change the automated response of ‘yes’ to the perceived selfish reply of ‘no’?

My life has been spent trying to earn the honorable badge of busy-ness.  In my community and in my childhood home, there was a distinguished identity associated with a full plate of responsibilities.

From a young age, I began to correlate busy with worthy.  I viewed someone who was “on the go” as important and valuable. 

I created a script – a story in my head - based on the belief that in order to be a person of influence and prominence, I had to say ‘yes’ to everyone and every opportunity.  I had to be of service to others whenever I was asked…and that it is selfish to say ‘no’ to someone.  It is selfish to not care for others when you have been taken care of so well.

This story line runs deep.  Parts of this story are generational.  I could have possibly been mimicking what I watched my sweet mother do so often and so well – serve others.  How could she not have with the name of Mary Martha?

In her service of others, I watched her stay up late completing promises of baked goods for a church gathering.  I saw her up before the sun to prepare us for school, when we should have been independent in that task.  I saw her live with no boundaries around her own time and our family time.  She ran on empty so often.

And here I sit.  Having just celebrated 44 years of amazing existence on this earth and I realized I am close to being depleted.

I have justified my hectic and active calendar for the last several years because I believe I have finally found my sweet-spot in life. 

I love my life – I love my family – I love my work.  I love the opportunities I have been given in serving our military members and their families.  I love being a witness to and a guide assisting individuals and couples on their journeys.  I love the opportunities I have to share what I have learned, professionally and personally.

I have a crazy amazing life.  I’m overwhelmed when I reflect on the pieces of my puzzle.  The pieces are so beautiful individually and I cannot believe all these blessings are creating my life.  MY life.

{Let me just pause in complete awe of the Divine…my heart is full of gratitude for these gifts of people, talents, and opportunities.}

BUT - Here’s my conundrum – How do I remove this Badge of Busy-ness that has implied such honor?  I have worked diligently to earn this and now I should just rip it off?  Tear it off of my soul’s work?

If I have heard the message of the importance of self-care once in the last two months, I can assure you I’ve heard it well over 4 dozen times.  Yes, almost daily – in a devotional, on a video, from a loved one, at church, in a seminar and…ummm, ironically, I’ve actually taught it to others.

I am beginning to acknowledge the importance.  I am contemplating what self-care would look like in my life.  By exploring new boundaries to preserve time and space for self-care, I am seeking to honor myself and those I love and care for.

I am seeking to be gentle with myself as I experience the pain and guilt of relinquishing this Badge of Busy-ness.

I am seeking balance.  That is the badge I want to earn.  The Badge of Balance.

Believe. Create. Live.

 

© 2015 Rebecca G. Townsend

Snickers, Snorts, & Giggles

Laughter is carbonated holiness.

~ Anne Lammott

I just wrote about 400 words on exposing our emotional self to people who haven’t earned that privilege…beautiful words. Truth in the sentences. Honesty in my self-reflection.

But, I stopped before I finished. It felt heavy and deep. And I really want to giggle this morning. I want to start the day with silliness. Joy. Smiles.

I believe laughter is a crucial ingredient in our healthy existence. So many people create distance between themselves and others when humor, laughter, light-heartedness could actually be the bridge connecting pain and differences.

It didn’t take me long to realize how important laughter would be in the helping profession. My first job in the field was as a phone counselor at a 24/7 crisis line. I was a junior in college and had completed my practicum at the call center when I was offered a part-time job there. This was the time before cell phones, before the internet, before GPS.

If there was a caller who was suicidal and we were the only counselor working (which was typical in this small organization), the counselor would have to pick up another line to call the police and ask for a tracing of the phone lines to locate the caller – while on the phone with the caller. It was both a difficult and delicate matter – trying to continue building rapport and safety with the caller in crisis and report a need for assistance from authorities.

Obviously, there was an enormous amount of stress involved, but in the de-briefing and reflection process we tried to find a moment to laugh at ourselves. Please don’t confuse that with being disrespectful to the people involved or the seriousness of the situation. As counselors, we needed to lighten the emotional burdens that the work entailed in order to be fresh for the next shift or next crisis.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to fear, stress and pain. The use of laughter in medicine is documented in the thirteenth-century medical history as being used as an anesthetic before surgical procedures!

Research has proven time and time again that laughter relieves physical tension and stress for up to 45 minutes following a good belly laugh. Not only does laughter decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells, it also triggers the release of endorphins – our body’s natural pain relievers which also bring about a feeling of euphoria and well-being.

From a mental health perspective, laughter relieves stress and eases fear and anxiety. It’s a definite inoculation to fight bad moods – I’ve never seen someone scowl and laugh simultaneously.

Most importantly, laughter can strengthen relationships by defusing conflicts and promoting commonality and bonding. But, first we must let down our defensiveness and stop being so easily offended…we always have a choice in how we respond – ALWAYS. Why don’t we choose to laugh more?

If you struggle with finding humor in daily life, I’d encourage you to start small…just smile – practice smiling. Consciously choose to smile.

Hunt the good stuff in your life. Make a list of every blessing you have – starting with the basics of food, shelter, clothing if you are struggling to realize you have many things to be grateful for.

Stop watching drama and news on TV…that does not make you fun and playful! There are enough people in your life who will continue to follow the world’s soap opera and let you know what you need to know to survive.

Seek out humor. Why don’t we ask people to share the funniest thing they’ve heard or experienced in their week?

Can we start a revolution of laughter? Can we let go of our defensiveness? Can we be more spontaneous? I think it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Believe. Create. LAUGH. Live.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend