Lately I have been thinking about good and bad emotions. Good emotions run the gamut from a simple flash of a decent day to full blown joy. It is easy to see the negative ones. Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, sorrow….I could go on. To counter these we can use the positive things we don’t often see as emotions: safety, relaxation, strength, gratitude, pleasure, satisfaction, friendship, kindness, and assertiveness. (From the article How to Tap into Your Light by Kalia Kelmenson in Spirituality and Health)
Most of these we don’t equate with emotion and so we don’t key into them. We don’t see them as positive emotions. We don’t focus on them. That is a major part of the problem.
I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to come home and relate a story about how uncomfortable I felt doing a mediation than that I did a good job. I let the good feeling be lost in the negative emotion. We tend to hang onto the bad feelings and nurse them. We are unwilling to let them go. Think of how often you have been angry about something and just kept bringing it up in conversation or dwelling on it. For some reason we must enjoy holding on to them.
When we don’t let go we experience physical changes. Negative emotions can cause an increase in heart rate and rise in blood pressure. They can decrease our resistance to disease and lower the ability of our immune system to function. They allow our bodies to attack us with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, asthma, ulceration colitis, migraines and irritable bowel. Oh, what we do to ourselves.
We have to learn to focus on the positive emotions and use them to overcome the negative ones. To do that we need to remember what they are and see them when they come. The list above can be added to I’m sure. It’s easy to see how we think when I realized that I had to find that list and couldn’t just come up with one from my head but the negative emotions were right on the tip of my tongue.
I think the most important piece is to be aware of what you are feeling. We can’t change it if we can’t recognize it.
As the song writer Johnny Mercer said “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative!”
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
I have talked here about my friend whose husband is in excruciating pain. Pain medicines only give momentary relief. The pain is unremitting. Diagnosis has been difficult and we now know it is from a back fracture and a pinched nerve in the back. The question becomes what to do?
As we grow older the answers to medical issues becomes more complex. Can the person withstand the surgery? Will it solve the problem? If not what now? We tend to forget that not everything can be fixed to our satisfaction.
Life’s problems cannot always be solved the way we want. This is a hard thing to learn. My husband has always said “every problem has a solution but it may not be the one we know or want”. I am sure that we all know people who live with chronic health problems or who are disabled. Sometimes we don’t even see it. How often do we disregard the person who seems “less than” for whatever reason. We walk by and think “Oh too bad” and just keep going.
The same thing can be said about the treatment of those of us with emotional issues. Most people don’t understand and either don’t want to do the work to get it or just keep going.
Admittedly, it is easier to understand something that we have experienced ourselves. That’s why support groups with fellow travelers help. But all of us have been at fault. I can get the emotional issues but do not understand the breadth of some physical problems even with my medical training. I have a friend who has cared for her son with cerebral palsy since his birth some 50 odd years ago. She has ignored her own wants to support him and enrich his life. He has a brilliant mind but has to use a computer to communicate. Do any of us really understand the life of either her or her son? I don’t think so.
We need to strive for the kind of compassion and love that is shown in the life of Christ. We need to take time to listen and do our best to be a companion on the way not just a voyeur. If everyone could do this so many lives would be enriched.
Strive to live with compassion and love!
Yesterday I talked about the importance of touch. There is another side to the idea of needing touch. It is very important that we learn to treat ourselves well. We can get some positive touch from things that we do. What do you like to do to make yourself feel better? I love smells so lighting a candle for the odor makes me happy. Slipping between clean sheets is something that I love. I love to take a walk with the dogs. A wonderful sup of tea. All these things tend to bring me down from whatever stressors are jumping on me.
While at my grandson’s wedding I was feeling stressed (weddings are always stressful for those involved) but really had no way to stop the cycle. I wanted to but I was away from home with other people and couldn’t think of a way to stop.
When I think back I realize that I could have taken five minutes to take a short walk outside and just breathe. The way that we do nice things for ourselves is a way of giving ourselves soothing touch.
The secondary benefit of this is that we are more ready to offer something soothing to someone else. Being kind to ourselves is a step in the direction of being kind to others. We will begin to treat others the way we treat ourselves. Kindness can start at home. Learn to take time to do something for yourself and let yourself pass it on to others.
For those of us who are Christians the question is often asked “if God is so good why do bad things happen?” Unfortunately, this is the unanswerable question. I wish I could say that I know how to explain this. I don’t
Over the years many theologians have written about this question and some have attempted to answer it…. none to my satisfaction. Many people who question there being a God jump on this problem. If there is a God why doesn’t he/she do something about the many tragedies in the world? It always puts us up against a hard spot. To them, it seems trivial for us to say that we don’t know. It seems that we can’t defend our belief.
Why is one person’s cancer healed and another’s not? Why did a friend’s child die in a car accident? Why does a pastor friend’s grandson have brain cancer? How I wish I could come up with an answer that made sense.
To those in pain the statement that God/Jesus will be with us in our pain and suffering doesn’t help. The fact that Jesus also suffered is little consolation. So if we can’t answer the question what can we do?
I long ago learned that I can’t fix everything but I can be there. I call it a ministry of presence. I can’t take away the pain but I can let them know that they do not have to go through it alone. Not only does God promise to be with them but the community of faith is called to love, comfort, and sustain them through the pain. The caveat is that we have to be in a community of faith that companions those in need.
We need to search until we find that place. We have to keep looking and keep in mind that only if we offer ourselves to be part of that will it work. To just appear in church during the week and go home does not make you part of the community. You must open yourself to become a caring member. This may not be easy and it won’t work until you find your place but don’t give up.
Remember, churches are made up of people and people have flaws. No church is perfect. No church has all the answers. Just find one that fills your soul in some way. It won’t be everything that you want it to be but it can still be home. After all, our families are also flawed and imperfect and yet still family. Find a church family with all that implies.
see more on this topic on https://wordpress.com/post/heargodinothervoices.blog/1028
I have several friends who are going through really tough times. As we age there are some things that you don’t expect. We all picture growing old gracefully and walking off into the sunset together. It’s sad, but for most of us this is not the case. Many things can happen that change your world. They sneak up on us and suddenly you are in a foreign country trying to learn to speak the language and find your way through a maze.
I think one of the hardest things is when one person is well and the other is not. When I was young I never thought what it would be like to have to care for someone. What it would be like to be on call 24/7. Never to be able to go out for a meal or visit with friends.
Caregiving is one of the most stressful tasks on this earth. What if you are afraid to leave home because your spouse may fall while you are gone? What if the dependence of that person on you grows obsessive and you have to account for any moment away? What if every time you walk away to another room you are called again and again to come back. The person you love has turned into a demanding attention seeker. They have not done this deliberately but fear inhabits them and being alone triggers terrible anxiety. They did not choose this path. It was foisted upon them. Age happened.
When we are young we never see the anguish that can be aging. We can see all of this as a burden for us and turn away. Yet simple things can make a difference. Volunteering to visit for an hour or two while the caregiver gets out. Making a double recipe for dinner for your family and sharing it. Even words of understanding and encouragement can help.
While we are young we need to show compassion for those whose life is in crisis. In order to do that we first have to notice. The elderly can so often be ignored.
I have long been fond of this poem by Ogden Nash. It shows us how we are blind to those who are aged.
People expect old men to die,
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when…
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.
The past few weeks have tested my ability to not lose my temper. It seems that everything that I have tackled has been complicated to deal with. Nothing has been easy. None of this has been life threatening but just plain aggravating. The world is getting so complicated that there is no easy.
I mentioned before about dealing with medical issues and that process has become so complicated that I am not sure that there is anyone who understands how it works. Doctor’s offices have now contracted out to someone filing the necessary paperwork to deal with issues that need preapproval or precertification. One more step to confuse things and send them out into the universe to disappear. I really feel sorry for the average person trying to parse the system.
Also today we took my granddog to the vet and he has lymphoma. That is a terrible diagnosis in humans and worse in dogs. Bottom line he may live a month at the most and will be sent to the rainbow bridge if he is in pain. For any of you who have pets and love them like we do this is losing a member of the family. I really think our pets keep us sane. It is so wonderful to come home to a house where someone is so glad that you are there. My dogs are my “blankies.” My favorite writer says blankies are an icon for God.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Dogs have all of those!