Tag Archives: Self-help

How to Endure the Unendurable

You endure the unendurable mostly by putting one foot in front of the other, and when that is not possible, just standing what I call “Dead in the water” for a

What is unendurable?  Events that change you forever. Such life blows  can be something as personal as the death of gold-fish or as life threatening as being in a war zone;  war zones’ include domestic violence or neighborhoods run by criminals.

Such events bring you to a stand still.   When standing “Dead in the water” is  the best you can do, hopefully others will be there tending you.


When you can begin putting one foot ahead of the other, here are some others have found to move them ahead.

First – Do what the very young do. Young children move forward the best because more than the rest of us the younger the children the more he or she  lives in the now.  A bomb goes off, their house burns down, a parent dies, and quicker than an older child or adult, the young child can be seen playing with a favorite toy or laughing with friends.

Too often grownups seeing such play, think the child is not affected by the unendurable. Not so; nature and the development of their brains at that time, gets they through and keeps them going by having them do whatever comforts them the most, usually play.

Adults and school aged children need a bit more, but the lesson being learned is a good one; as soon as pain and immediate danger are past, get back to the everyday things that comfort.

Next – reconnect with those you care about and who care about you.  Doing so is one of the things that comforts most.  For most of us  right after the unendurable, we need to be with those  who can help us affirm the horror of what happened.

As  the great philosopher Martin Buber noted:  “Man wishes to be confirmed in his being by man, and wishes to have a presence in the being of the other….sent forth from the natural domain of species into the hazard of solitary category surrounded by a chaos which came into being with him…secretly and bashfully he watches for a YES which allows him to be and which can come to him only from one human person to another…that the heavenly bread of self being is passed. “

At no time is this more important to connect or reconnect then when life blows strike. That is why the mental health professionals gather trauma victims for debriefings.  Talking about the horror helps particularly when it first hits.

Warning – going over the bad, however, reinforces the pain.  Current research finds constantly reviewing the trauma, which often happens in some talk therapy, is not useful.

As soon as possible, establish a normal routine with an emphasis on maintaining what we know tends to our physical well-being – getting enough sleep, eating properly, and exercising.

Finally, examine what the unendurable has done to reaffirm or shatter your core beliefs about life and what it all means. Everyone needs to find comforting explanations for the whys of life.

Don’t agree? Think about the universal cry of the traumatized  “Why me?”

We all know people who have lost or gained faith following a life blow.

For most of us, one or another religion serves to answer the why and how of life.  People of faith find comfort and hope in religious practice. My faith helps me.

I quarrel with my atheist friends who want to do away with religion.  Mostly these have lost faith after when prayers seemed to fail. I do not quarrel with any religion as long as it it allows those that do not encourage violence of one sort or another and allow others to  believe as they believe. or preach violence of one sort or another,

While I  do not  care not what anyone believes,  I do  want bad theology done away with.  Most of that theology centers around the idea that all should have the same belief.  In my mind, the atheists who want to abolish religion are in the same camp as those who say in one way or another, “My faith is the one true faith.”  Neither brings peace to this world.

All beliefs need to be examined against the Golden Rule. Harvard researchers Jerome Kagan and Sheila Lamb looked into morality around the world. They found that every culture promoted two values:

  1. Caring for the weak
  2. Justice and fair treatment.

When I taught this to my students, many rightful asked why if this is true is the world so full of violence?

My answer, “Because, we apply those values to our own, but not to others.  We put those  seen different, not in our family, clan, or tribe out of our caring circle.”

The beliefs that work best for all of us are those embodied by the Golden Rule.  To bring peace to this world, however, we must draw the circle of caring around all, not just our own.

 STAy strong

When a life blow strikes, and they strike all at one time or another,  a well-practiced self-soothing program  provides what the experts call resilience and help you move forward more easily.

Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.


Links of interest

 Word Press Daily Prompt

September 5, 2014   Moved to Tears: Do movies, songs, or other forms of artistic expression easily make you cry? Tell us about a recent tear-jerking experience!


Ten Tips to Defeat Shame, Acting is One

We are all actors and our greatest performances sometimes last a life time because of what shame says hide.

Joke about being invisible used to make a point about how we hide ourselves.

Emotional Fitness Training Thoughts and Tips

Acting is work, it means putting on make-up, dressing for the role, learning lines, being directed by others, and adhering to script.  Useful for entertaining others, but not always useful for our souls.

Reality check: In living life there are definitely times to play the part others proscribe.  Want to keep your job? You need to dress as expected. Want to appease a police officer accusing you of a wrong doing when you are innocent? You need to keep your anger under cover, apologize and take your compliant to court if you do not escape a ticket or worse an arrest. In caring relationships there is a time and a place to criticize and many times to act accepting.

Tip one:  When acting keeps you alive or pays the rent, act on. You’ve been given life, you are responsible for doing what you can to stay alive.

Tip two:  Decide to act and know you are acting. That helps you control the play and  your life.

Tip three: Be honest about the things that matter. Don’t act as if you don’t care when you do or when you should. Seeing someone being attacked, you need not put your life in danger to help;  you do need to call for help anyway you can.   Cell phones can you safe. No cell phone. Some say shouting fire works best. Others say to shout “The Police have been called.”  Studies show that one person doing the right thing pulls others toward the side of right.

Tip four: In close relationships don’t fake it, but be your kindest self.  As Yehudis Damet noted in the Other Side of the Story, “Everyone has two eyes, one stronger, one weaker. The stronger is for introspection into our own imperfections; the weaker one for viewing others.”

Tip five: What you hide speaks often of how shame rules.  Shame wants to keep us from doing the unthinkable and being shunned by others. Shame as a powerful emotion tells us to sink out of sight when we have done wrong.  Not good when we have done no evil; not good if we are hiding the evil we do.

Now looking a bit out of my weaker eye, many struggle not to do evil, but trying to keep their evil inclinations from taking over.  These often turn to religion to help, some become priests, rabbis, or ministers. From most, evil inclinations remain only inclinations.; but for some even the most fanatical religious observance cannot hold back an evil act.

I am not proposing forgiveness of the act.  I am proposing that the main purpose of shame is to keep us from acting on evil inclinations, which we all have, and the purpose of punishments should be to keep someone from once again acting on an evil inclination.  Some people need to be confined for life and in some cases – as in a just war killed. Fewer than fear would lead us to believe, but enough to suggest caution is prudent.

Tip six: Bringing shame out into the open is often the best step to defeating the power of un-needed shame. This is where acting can help. Ashamed of speaking up in meetings or when in a group. Acting as if you are the best public orator in the world might work. Think if each time you act as a dress rehearsal until you no longer need to act.

A personal experience. I have an over bit from thumb-sucking. My oldest brother once pointed out a person with a very bad over bite hoping it would shame me into giving up my thumb. That worked, but made me ashamed to smile.

In time a remark from some friends encouraged me to smile more. I had to act at first, but in time smiling even with my less than perfect teeth became natural and drove shame away.

Tip seven: Talking about shame weakens it. That is why some 12 Step programs help, and why confession of sins eases both the shame and the inclination to  behavior badly.

Tip eight: When you cannot keep from acting on an evil inclination, you must get help from professionals.  Maybe the inclination is not evil, but defined as such by your parents, teachers, or preachers.  then guilt and shame are the problem, not the deed.

Tip nine: Be careful when criticizing others. Be gentle for we all have within us a shamed child that all too often takes criticism as a wound to the heart.

Tip ten: Whether you or another are the victim of  shame practice the five in one rule. Five affirmations for one nasty negative.

STAy strong

Not sure you can do the above or that defeating useless shame is possible. Understood. Defeating deep-seated but useless shame means fighting a hard battle.  Building a strong self-soothing program  will help. Moreover, such a program defeats not only shame, but  all useless negative feelings that try to boss you.

Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.


Links of interest

 Word Press Daily Prompt

September 4, 2014: Cast Change: You’ve just been named the casting director of your favorite television show (or movie franchise). The catch: you must replace the entire cast — with your friends and family. Who gets which role?

All get roles, but my favorite show is life and as director, I want all to feel able to be who they are authentically.


How to Keep Your (Inner) Child Happy

In the much-loved movie Big an apparent adult is a child, a happy child.  This post is about how keep to our inner child alive and happy even when grown-up.

Not grown up by t0, no need to keep trying

Emotional Fitness Thoughts and Tips

Okay, first let’s get a few things straight.  Children are being romantically elevated by the “Don’t trust those over thirty” crowd.  Watch the commercials that have  kids driving cars, and lecturing grown ups.

The most recent one, I saw had two squirts who appear to be in first grade lecturing adults on very grown up topics while using the most up to date smart phone.

None of this is helpful, because children are not really smarter than adults, although given some adults, it often seems that way. However, the ad-men  want us to feel unhappy with now, so we will buy.  Mostly, sell things we never heard of, never knew existed, have never needed and that will not make us as happy as  we sometimes were as kids.

Disclaimer:  I am not at all against people buying, buying, and buying more. I want people to buy, if they can afford it.

Fact: we need the rich to spend, spend, spend.  The rich who buy the latest fashions, cars, jewels or who have three or four mega houses are mega employers. That said, my heart wishes the rich would give, give, and buy mainly to give.

Remember, the TV show the Millionaire. Well ,maybe not, but this very rich person anonymous gave mega bucks to others. Changed their lives.  Certainly a million or two thrown my way would make my life different and would let me do more of what matters to me.  Why I buy at least one lottery ticket a week.

Anyway, back to the child within.  Inner Child healing was popularized by John Bradshaw . The word healing as used by Bradshaw meant the focus was on how parents wounded children. His thoughts were related to a larger therapy movement based  on Object Relations Theory. Because that was a therapy movement it also focused on the damage parents do. Helpful only when a child was truly a victim of abuse.

One of the founders of object relations theory Donald Winnecott, a founder of the Object Relations movement, coined the phrase “Good-enough” parenting to stop the process of making all parents into abusers. Did not work for many.

Why?  Because we have all been hurt as children by good parents and good enough parents.  This means quickly we quickly identify with hurt children.  Good if we work toward keeping children from being abused. Not so good if we end up  thinking we have been abused when we have not.

EMOTional FItness Training tips

Tip one: Be aware of all the  beings that are part of  your inner self.  The Transactional Analysis (TA) theorists believe we have at least five inner beings guiding our feelings and behavior.  Two are parents – one is a nurturing parent, the other a critical parent; another is called our  adult which is a computer like thinking self; and finally two are children: one free and the other adapted meaning controlled or shaped by parents.

I find the TA ideas most helpful when it comes to improving myself awareness which the emotional intelligence people is a major part of being in control of feelings and behavior.  Taking a minute to ask which part of an inner self is talking, lets us make better use of their information.

Tip two: Honor all.  And yes that means knowing and hearing not just our nurturing parents, but also our critical ones.  The critical parent within, particularly when he or she has not slipped over into abuse,  is trying to teach us what matters, what we need to learn to keep  safe and to  get along in life.  We need to honor the good, but also the lessons we can learn from the bad.

Honoring all does not mean forgetting the hurtful behavior, or enduring abuse. Abused? Get out of the relationship or at least physically out of it. Hardest to do in a marriage as a parent, but essential.

It also probably means distancing emotionally and strengthening your protective shield. Particularly with children who have to be cut off from physical contact because they abuse parents or someone else if living in the same house.  Also difficult, if the abuser is a partner you love dearly when he or she is not abusive.

What you need to do to stop the abuse from living in your heart and still hurting you is to forgive and to establish an “I forgive” relationship with the abuser while staying where you cannot be abused.  How is that possible?

First you have to be safe and if you are living with an abuser, get professional help. When you are safe, you can work on the forgiveness part.

The door to forgiveness is accepting that we are all human and the human state is far from perfect. Everyone does the best she or he can do. You do, the abuser does. When the best someone can do is abuse, that is tragic and easily leads to wanting to hurt.  However, that only keeps the circle of abuse spinning.

As this How to Forgive Poster Coach notes, accepting that we all do the best we can jump starts forgiveness. .

forgiveness exercise

The poster deals with forgiving yourself because that is key to forgiving others. Why?  Our feelings about ourselves often determine how we feel about otheres. If we have been the victim of abuse, part of us has accepted we deserved punishment and that needs putting aside.

Finally, if we have been victims of abuse, the desire to indulge in pay back is natural, but not useful and needs to be set aside and forgiving.

Tip Three; Laugh and play.  Remember laughing and playing.  Our  hurt inner child is often stronger than our free or happy inner child.  That means we have to work harder to nourish the happy child.  Do remember play means play.

Not sure what I mean; think of Bob Hope’s definition of golf:  “If you watch a game, it’s fun. If you play it, it’s recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf.”

For play to be play, it has to be fun.


Competition is about winning and a little competition is fun and can build a child’s emotional strength. However, as no one win’s all the time,  learning to loses gracefully is major life lesson.

Remind a competitive child, that winning is fun, but also involves luck as well as talent and every one wins some and loses some throughout all of life.

How you handle a loss is the better measure of character and a good character is key to living the good life.


Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness is blesses the giver and the receiver.


Links of interest

 Word Press Daily Prompt

September 3, 2014: Digging Up Your Digs by Ben Huberman

500 years from now, an archaeologist accidentally stumbles on the ruins of your home, long buried underground. What will she learn about early-21st-century humans by going through (what remains of) your stuff?

Wishing that all my posts trying to bring peace on earth would be found and seen as helping many.

And yes, reposted yesterday’s blog as part of Weary Wednesday when I don’t ususaly post. Thank you Word Press for this one.


Three Ways to Shrug Off Nastiness