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“Nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it, according to the semi-annual survey on youth risk behavior published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/1-12-teens-attempted-suicide-report-article-1.1092622#ixzz2U8kjEYhE
Are you one of those 6 or one of those 12? Life can be hard. It can be so hard that it seems the only way out of it is suicide, to just end it. And people think of suicide for a ton of different reasons:
- To get away from hurt, pain
- Because nothing else has worked
- Because you’re pissed off at your parents/teachers/ caregiver and want to show them
- Because no one would really miss you
- Because you just can’t go on like this anymore
- Because the bullies won’t stop and now they have ruined your life
- Or you may just feel like crap and don’t know why
I am sure people have told you to tell an adult, to call the crisis line. And when you are seriously thinking of it, that is often the last thing you want to do. Or maybe no one even knows that you have these thoughts.
This isn’t a pep talk, it is a plea for possibilities. Is suicide an option? It may be the only option you see right now and there are other possibilities, other ways to solve your problem besides getting away from it all or getting back at someone.
That is where an adult can be helpful. Someone to listen, to problem solve, to look with you at other possibilities in life.
I have worked with teens who want to help others who are going through a rough time. That can be helpful and that is a lot for one person to handle.
Therapy can be a place to feel heard. A place to problem solve. A place to vent. I am not saying don’t think about it, I just don’t want you to take action. There are other options that you may not be able to see right now.
May 31, 2013
I just read an article in Ode magazine (I could not find the link on-line) about how heart break can be a catalyst for change. In the last post, I talked about vulnerability. In this article, Susan Piver shares that in heart break, the heart opens. Everything is felt on a different level. The word raw comes to mind, feeling as if everything is on the surface. Heart break, as hard and painful as it is, can create a crack, and openness to feel it all, to feel vulnerable. She talks about feeling the feeling, not fixing it, not getting through to the next thing, and letting go of the story of why. Story is a great way to keep feelings going and going and going…
In the past I would close up shop. I would move on to the next thing. Never look back. Close the door and be done. I realize that that is an option, yet by doing it that way, I shut down. I ignored what was happening for me. I pushed my feelings down and closed the door, throwing out the key. Yet, feelings have a way of coming up. It may be in a different way. Think of people getting into fights, smoking when they are stressed, going out for a beer after a hard day. What feelings are wanting to be expressed? I recently met my Destructive Rebel Persona, who wants to drive fast and do a lot of risky behaviors. That persona is great at covering up anger. Yet if I chose to partake in that, I do not get to access my anger because the anger keeps going because I am not feeling it; I do not get to move through my anger. I just thought of the children’s book, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt. If I remember correctly, the idea being that there are all these obstacles to finding the bear. They can’t go over them, or under them, or around them, the option is to go through them. With feelings you have a choice. You can ignore, move on, distract or you can feel and go through them.
Next time you have heart break or feel raw, open to the feeling, it is energy. She talks about feelings and thoughts as things that come and go, they are not set in stone to be felt forever and ever. Make room to have feelings, cut down on your schedule so that you have time. Allow yourself not to be distracted and moving on to something else. Meditation is also a great way to slow the brain and focus on what is going on in this moment.
The book is The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.
April 23, 2012
I just watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Listening to Shame. She talks about vulnerability, not as a weakness, but as strength and courage. Vulnerability is being open, being seen as who you are.
She talks about not being afraid of failure, how many people who succeed fail quite often and keep going. It is hearing the voice that “you are not good enough” or “what makes you think you can do that” and doing it anyway. Shame is what keeps us from being vulnerable.
I think we learn many ways to hide who we are. I call them personas, or masks or roles. For example: the rebel- who acts like they doesn’t really care what others think, or the small, quiet role- the one who doesn’t get noticed and tries to hide from others. There are a lot of roles that people learn in order to hide who they are from others.
In what ways do you hide who you are? Are there certain people that you share yourself with? And others that you hide yourself away? Do you put on a happy face when you aren’t? Do you only show certain parts to certain people?
Here is the link if you want to check her out: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html
April 16, 2012
Are you someone who sees themselves as a fix it project or sees other people as fix it projects? I see this a lot in couples therapy. “If you can just change that one thing, then I could be happy.” “If only you didn’t do that, my life would be so much easier.” Then when one thing is fixed something else needs fixing, you are ready to move on to the next thing. “Sure you pick up your dirty socks, what about doing some dishes/ more cleaning/ having more/ less sex.” The list can go on and on and on…
I also see this in individual therapy. “If I just changed (fill in the blank) then things would be better.” “If I didn’t do this annoying thing then I would like myself better.” Once some of the pounds come off, you want more off another area. You can always find something wrong.
What if (play along with me for a bit)- what if you/other people weren’t fix it projects? What if you/they are whole, just as they are? You may want to make changes and that is okay and you can still be loveable just are you/ they are. This may be a stretch, because I think we are taught to see what is wrong. Remember the two pictures and you had to see what didn’t match. This is how we often see ourselves in comparison to others, or our partner in comparison to other people’s partners. Play with this a bit and notice when you want to fix, change, adjust you or someone else and notice how you react to this.
March 26, 2012
I have a lot of people coming in for therapy and ask, “Why?” People want to know why something happened. Why did someone do that? Why do they keep repeating the same thing with the same person? Why can’t they stop it?
Asking “Why” only gives so much. Think of a little person asking why questions and each goes to the next there is no end. Yet that is what we do with why questions. Example: Why do I keep repeating this pattern of other people taking up more space? Because my older brother took up a lot of space in my family. Why did he take up so much space in the family? I don’t know. Why can’t I just get over it? Not sure. Why am I still doing this? Why can’t he just admit what he did and how it affected me? Why doesn’t he change? Why am I so bothered by it still? Why am I still asking this question?
There is no end to the “why” questions.
I propose that shifting the question to “what” or “how” can create more space for changes. Example: How do I keep this dynamic going where other people take up more space? I physically get small, start questioning myself- what I am thinking, what I am saying, how I present myself, and compare myself to others. What can I do differently? I can notice when I start recreating this experience, I can breath and love myself, I can try out my voice, I can remind myself of my abilities to feel more confident.
Try on some “how” and “what” questions in your life and see what happens.
March 19, 2012
How do you define success? What makes your life successful? If you’re willing, make a mental list right now. What is on the list? Things that you have bought- a new tv, a car, a new piece of clothing? How much money you have? What you have accomplished- a job, moving up the “ladder,” schooling, having kids? What relationships you are in- with an intimate partner(s), friends, family, children? What activities you do or have tried- team sports, any sport or exercise, running (a marathon), daily walks with the dog, sky diving, hiking, mountain or rock climbing, parenting, cleaning, organizing? What places you have traveled- nearby or far, specific countries, specific places- a national park, the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge? What you do for your creativity and passion- how you feed your soul- song, dance, music, painting, making cards or scrape-booking, people watching, going to the ocean or other place, meditating, something spiritual? Current or past internal experiences- giving and receiving love, abundance, appreciation, openness, connection, inviting feedback? Memories of past experiences? Are there more things versus experiences?
I want to expand on that. When I think of things, I think external. I think of the “American Dream-“ white picket fence, house, big car. Or the saying, “The one with the most toys wins.” These things are impermanent; they can be lost. If your success is out there what happens if that thing goes away for whatever reason? The house can burn down. The partner can leave. The toys can break. I am not saying not to have things on your list, I am wanting us all to expand to more than things.
When I think experiences, I think internal. An experience of feeling loved and loving. An experience of spaciousness and openness. Or an experience of having accomplished a school degree, a sled ride, or jumping in the ocean.
I ask then, can that be taken away? I think not, I can give it away or even share it. For example, I could have a memory that I share. I can revisit a memory of going to the Oregon coast and wearing a down coat because I was so cold. The other person may enjoy it like I do or maybe they scoff at it judging the Oregon coast to be too cold. I still have that memory and can do as I please with it. A memory is yours to keep and remember at will.
Or I can do something to not feel loved or loving. My favorites of disconnecting to my internal experiences are comparing (look at what they have that I don’t or look how much better off I am than you), looking at what is or is not perfect (if only x happened I/it would be perfect), judging (stating others are stupid, selfish, bad drivers), or being critical (did you see what they did/wore/said). But someone or something cannot actually take my experience from me.
And some of the above fall into both categories. For example I may create some art work- I have the experience and the final product. Even if something happens to the final product, I still have the experience. Or a relationship. I can have a wonderful, loving partner who is a something in my life and I have the experience of both giving and receiving love and the experience I have when with her.
Disclosure- I don’t think there is a right and wrong of this. It is your experience.
I am also wondering about happiness now. Is you happiness based on something in particular? More on that later.
March 12, 2012
I want to talk about feelings. That may sound very cliche coming from a therapist. For the sake of ease, I am going to talk about what I consider the 5 core emotions- mad, sad, scared, glad, and sexual. I think that everyone has access to all of these, for me it is a question if you allow yourself to feel them all.
What are the stories you have heard about feelings? What emotions are you not allowed to feel? This may be something that was said explicitly or passed down non-verbally. For example, “boys don’t cry” or “girls should be nice” may sound familiar. The non verbal may be a look, a shaking of the head, or what I consider the “death look”–the look from a parent or teacher that says louder than words, “Cut it out NOW.” There are certain feelings that are labeled as bad or negative. I hear that quite often about feelings in my practice that anger is not okay yet frustration is. In my family anger was not allowed. I heard directly, “Don’t be angry, it only eats up the person who is feeling angry and not the person you are angry at.” Scared is also not okay yet worried or anxious is okay. Boys on the playground or even older may say something to the effect of don’t be a sissy, a wuss, or other vulgur terms. And the idea of feeling sexual is often taboo.
When I say sexual feelings I am not referring to sex. Sex is an action and feeling sexual is just that, a feeling. When these get confused people end up making rules in order to feel safe and secure. Sexual feelings do not have to lead to sex. When do you allow yourself to feel sexual?
Is it only in a certain location with certain parameters? The bedroom with the lights off or on, in front of the computer watching porn, in a private location or something more public, only at night.
Or with a certain person? Your spouse/ partner/girlfriend or boyfriend, a complete stranger, someone you met on a certain site, not actually in person- on-line or phone.
Or when certain people are or are not around? The kids have to be in bed, never by yourself, if it is by yourself no other people can be around.
If you are in a relationship, are there different rules or stories than when you are single? What can you do if you are in relationship versus single. Are there things you think you lose or gain by being in a relationship? Can you feel sexual with other people if are not in an intimate relationship with them? And do you allow that to be okay or not?
Essentially I am asking what rules you have about feelings. If you are interested in continuing exploration with this, read on. Notice what feelings you do feel and what feelings are harder to access. Are you someone who says, “I never feel angry, that is just something I don’t feel.” Notice if there are stories or rules around what you should and should not be feeling.
I would love to hear feedback about what you discover.
Also published on Portland Health Alliance
March 5, 2012
Marc Andrews and I plan to conduct a 10 session relationship preparation workshop for the GLBTQ Community
Join us for a 10 session workshop helping you resolve past relationships and preparing for the love that you want. This will be a transformational experience that opens doors to the love that you are looking for.
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM Mondays evenings
The Workshop Format includes:
• Lectures/presentations supported visually with the latest in presentation graphics, about the purpose and dynamics of your relationship.
• Individual reflection and recording using the “Calling in the one: 7 weeks to attract the love of your life” and “Attracting the Love You Want.”
•Experiential exercise to bring a deeper understanding of how you interact with others.
•Demonstrations of communication skills.
•Ability to write on a secure Message Boards, which can act as support between sessions as well as after the group, is over.
Please visit our meet up site:
January 24, 2011
What is something that you are doing today that you are excited about?
I think we tend to have our “to do” lists. We have things we think we “should” do or “have to” do. Are any of these things you want to do? Are they taking you a step closer to your overall life goals? I hear people in my counseling and coaching practice speak of this. Are these thing just something you are doing until…? Or that you have to wait for something until you can do that. What if you added some excitement to that “to do” list. Do something in a different way. Reframe what you think you have to do. What if you choose to do it instead of thinking it was something you should do or that someone else wants you to do?
What if it was a choice? I choose to take out the compost today or I want to do this because I think it will make my partner happy. Or maybe I want to take it out because then I will finally have it off the list (some of you may love to check things off) and I can stop complaining about it.
What if you did something on the “to do” list from a different position, responding to e-mails while standing up or kneeling? I could take the compost out while dancing over to it or perhaps changing my pace (fast and slow) or level (tall and short).
What if you added some excitement by singing a song while you do it, perhaps one you make up about what you are doing. I used to work with kids with special needs and noticed that if I sang a song especially about what we were doing (tying shoes, wheelbarrowing, putting on a coat), they tended to do it more easily with a smile on their face which made my life easier as well. I am not aware of a compost song, so I would have to make that one up.
Accents can also be fun. Try speaking in a different accent, as a way to change the way you think about what you’re doing. I could speak in a French accent as I go to the compost and add a bit of spice to the endeavor.
Feel free to respond with your ideas of how you add excitement?
January 10, 2011
Happy New Year to all.
I facilitated a class last night on creating Life Resolutions. It is a simple way to look and prioritize what is most important to you right now. The idea is that you are on your deathbed and someone asks if your life was a success. What is your answer? A full out, “YES?” Perhaps it is a, “Sort of,” or possibly a “No.” First write out the main reason your life was not a success. Then add four more reasons. Now turn those into wishes, “For my life to have been a complete success, I wish I’d…”
Notice what comes up as you are writing these. Old stories about who you are as a person. For example, “I am just a procrastinator, I can’t get anything done.” Or, “I’m too old to go back to school.” Perhaps it is more of an idea that you have to first do this before you can do what you really want. Maybe some feelings come up, sadness that you haven’t done it or anger at yourself or someone else. Fear may come up as you put something out there that could be a challenge that could take you out of your comfort zone. Welcome those, appreciate them, accept them, and then continue on.
Now turn those wishes into things that you have done such as, “My life is a complete success because I…” Next is to turn them into the current, “I now enjoy…” Lastly, create action steps. It may be a smaller action step such as wondering about the next step. Wondering does count as a step. Or something bigger like giving a talk about a topic you love or applying to a class that excites you. Appreciate yourself for taking a step, no matter how big or small.
The workshop was based on 5 Wishes by Gay Hendricks. The website is http://www.5wishesbook.com/wishes/index.php if you want to check it out. The book is a relatively quick read with great examples. Feel free to post your Life Resolutions here, I would love to hear them.
January 4, 2011