A Tale of Two COVID-19s

Photo by Lucas Sandor on Unsplash

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done”

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of artificial intelligence, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of opportunism, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Might, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of confusion, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, it all changed in the blink of an eye,  in short, the period was one previously unfathomed and many perilous warnings fell mostly on deaf ears.

Although I have taken great liberties with a highly acclaimed Dickens masterpiece, it was the inspiration for a glimmer of hope to those who’ve found themselves trapped in a tale of fear and confusion during these troubling times.

Every person on the planet has been impacted by the pandemic, and while each of us has our own unique account, this is a tale of two opposing outlooks and how one might contemplate this challenging predicament.

Part 1

It would be inflammatory for anyone to infer or demand you ought to be living and reacting in certain ways. No one should be measuring success on whether they’ve been able to keep working versus those who have not. There were inequities long before COVID-19, and has been frequently confirmed by many officials, this pandemic has only exacerbated those injustices.

The ability to work is only one small factor in how people are managing this traumatic event. Suffering the loss of a friend or loved one has been an outcome for countless unsuspecting victims and survivors, which is often more traumatic than losing employment.

Many countries are enforcing stay-at-home type orders, causing people to feel confined and acting out against family members, friends, and partners in behaviors they’d never dreamed could be possible. The psychological dilemmas endured by both children and adults are puzzling and overwhelming mental health professionals.

What appears to be weighing the most on the minds of many people are: when will this be over, and what will be the new normal – intensifying the emotional drain and toll with which this virus has vexed us all.

Part 2

If there were one piece of advice I would implore, it would be this:

Do whatever you can not to fall into a state of despair.

Everyone is currently confronting difficulties and while their degrees vary extensively, fight against becoming trapped by this terminally disheartening emotional state.

At times it appears the obstacles and hurdles are endless, and prevailing over one only seems to plant several more in your path. Despair takes the proverbial wind out of your sails and leads to despondency and hopelessness. If you find yourself falling into its trap, please seek help. Call a friend or family member. Seek out help in your community or even your local government. There are many organizations who’ve stepped up their efforts working with local and private companies to help those in need.

Some people are struggling with shameful feelings about filing for unemployment benefits for the first time ever. This is not a failure. There is no shame to be shouldered. These are unparalleled times and nothing which your actions alone created. If it helps, think about all the times your kindness encouraged others and consider this a payback for you.

Part 3

Our attitudes dictate and often control our intentions. In the darkest corners of our dejected mindset, search first for the figurative light switch. Someone else may need to flip it for you, but a negative outlook compels us more into darkness, further convincing us of no possible escape.

 There was an inspiring story this week which was another motivation for this article. A few years ago, the Afghan Dreamers, an all-girls robotics team, competed globally and, at Robotex International, stunned the world. Recently, due to shortages in their country, they were asked to develop ventilators. Utilizing an M.I.T. design, their first task was to figure out how to construct them from locally sourced components. Electronic stores are unheard of so most of their parts came from Toyota Corollas which is a popular car in their country. Although their quest is ongoing, their outlook is positive and they are determined to be victorious.

No doubt there are thousands of similar stories inspired by COVID-19. Although many of us are focused on keeping food on the table and the lights on, this story is meant to exhibit the human spirit and ingenuity. It’s meant to keep hope alive, especially for those who are extremely overwhelmed and contemplating giving up.

Part 4

We must not let despair defeat our spirit nor hopelessness overcome our soul. The one thing we all can change is our outlook. It can seem impossible for some who remain isolated, but it may be one of the only respites available.

Everyone is essential and we should begin by building a mutual respect for that understanding. Although some were prohibited from working, when things begin to open up, let us realize their work IS essential to them and to the common good of all.

It is going to be a challenging and demanding road to recovery. Extraordinary effort is necessary and huge sacrifices will be required. A true spirit of cooperation should be the primary objective, beginning first in your community and reaching out from there.

A new kind of collaboration will inspire innovative and imaginative programs getting everyone working and feeling productive. Cooperation – not fierce competition – is the formula for reigniting a solid foundation of continuity and whatever the new normal will bring.

If there is one universal ideal COVID-19 has shown us, it’s to have a better understanding of the sanctity of life, a greater appreciation for nature, and the little things often taken for granted or dismissed. If globally, we can all learn this one important lesson, then it will be a far, far better thing we do than we have ever done; it will be a far, far better world than we have ever known.

An Empathetic Cure

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

It’s a story which takes place far too often. An altruistic individual sets out with the best of intentions to fight for fairness in the community or perhaps in the world at large. In some cases, these individuals overcome poverty or other adversities, and with great courage, determination, and effort prevail when the odds were greatly stacked against them. Becoming a hero of sorts to multitudes, but eventually falling victim to the corruption, dishonesty, or immorality they fought so valiantly to protect.

This circumstance has no bias on whom it bestows its curse. No gender, nationality, race nor religion is exempt from its horrific spell, and it’s been chronicled on all rungs of society. It has also perpetually been repeated throughout the history of humankind – or rather humans being unkind, which is a more accurate way of portraying it.

The headlines frequently depict scenarios of politicians, celebrities, and business leaders who’ve succumbed to the lure of their own importance or ego. Their position, status, or wealth becomes a figurative key to open any door which they deem accessible. These stories rarely end well for those once-highly-respected individuals. It would stand to reason with the frequency of these stories, this ought to be an easily avoidable pitfall. Apparently, that is not the case.

Why do so many become the prey to these same inequities they originally strove to eradicate? How does someone who maintained such high integrity and justice, become ensnared by the enemy they previously and courageously had slain?

It is not a prerequisite nor a requirement for people to betray their once-loved ambitions. Certainly, the lure of money or power can influence even those with the highest of intentions. However, is there something even more compelling than worldly temptation?

How power affects the brain

Dascher Keltner, an author and social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted studies which demonstrated how people with perceived power can lack the ability to feel empathy, read emotions in others, and have trouble adapting to others’ behaviors. His research also showed how the notion of power can actually change the way our brains function.

Perhaps a familiar story for many is when someone at work gets promoted to a managerial position and suddenly starts acting as though he or she has reached dictator status. The once thoughtful and kind person you believed you knew has now been usurped by this tyrannical and authoritarian bully.

Historically, supervisory and executive positions were taught to lead with an iron fist. It’s as though it’s part of their job description as managers to “lead” their teams by yelling, demeaning, and cursing at their employees, fully believing it’s the most effective way to get their “army” to produce. However, this line of reason is fraught with misconceptions, fallacies, and essentially feeds and expedites the demise of the individual deploying these boorish managerial strategies.

It’s not inevitable for everyone who is suddenly endowed with power to make this drastic transformation. Many prominent individuals have averted this tragic path which regularly engulfs others, indicating there must be an effective strategy against this terrible affliction.

An empathetic cure

The key is to examine the actions of those who never surrendered to this line of thinking as well as others who were victorious in their struggle against their former insidious rational, and once again are using better human-interaction skills.

It takes two strategies to overcome this challenge:

· Having the proper tools and techniques to fight these compulsions

· Understanding it takes determination and lots of effort to be victorious

Many people are willing to work hard at anything beneficial to their lives. But all the hard work in the world won’t do any good if it’s not being deployed effectively.

As simple as it may sound, the key to regaining empathy for others is to start having empathy for others.

Begin by eagerly communicating and truly listening to what people are saying. Do your best to imagine and experience the emotions they are facing as they talk about their concerns and difficulties. Realize the best way to understand their issues is to be willing to become vulnerable yourself.

The sense of feeling power instigates feelings of superiority and incorrectly infers vulnerability is akin to weakness. Believing we are endowed with power is arrogant, and the ego has no choice but to create a mindset of control and self-importance. The best way to defeat this line of thinking is to become aware that you must change this line of thinking.

Involve others, especially if your power is work related. Willingly receive input from those who do the work. Your trust in them will in turn generate great respect for you. If your perceived power is more in the social world, recognize you must intentionally strive to change your behavior. Pay much more attention, put yourself in their shoes, and try to feel how they are feeling. Always remember, vulnerability is a huge key to having empathy. By no means is being vulnerable a sign of your weakness.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall prey to the selfish, unempathetic, and arrogant thinking when we perceive ourselves in positions of power. Studies have shown this is a natural tendency. To evade or overcome this kind of thinking will require diligence and strength. As with anything for which we strive to be successful, it calls for effort. Be aware it’s an incredibly challenging struggle battling against what could be our natural inclinations.

Fortunately, if we happen to fall in its trap, we are not doomed. We can overcome it by changing the way we think about ourselves. And the best way to start that change is by forgiving ourselves for ever acting in such dreadful ways. If there is one message I’ve learned during this current situation, it’s we all are truly connected. Living a full and happy life demands we include an empathetic attitude toward others as we make this world a better place for our existence.

My thanks to Laura Chouette on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

Constant connection

Before the entire world shifted its attention on the COVID – 19 outbreak, toxic relationships, and how to overcome their grip, were the themes being discussed. With many of us now being confined with spouses, significant others, or other family members, it may be timely to revisit this subject. And for those of you who presently may not be in serious relationships, there’s pertinent information for you as well.

Only a miniscule percentage of the global population can say they haven’t been affected by the current crisis. Strangely, most fit in to one of two scenarios: either you’re experiencing inordinate amount of time at home, or you’ve been working extremely harder than you’d ever believed you could. Both can take a toll on any relationship.

My heart certainly goes out to everyone working on the front lines who’ve been giving both literally and figuratively “their all” to defeat this menace. Their dedication and devotion to this cause is perhaps far nobler than some of the legendary ancient Roman and Greek heroes. It is nearly impossible to imagine from where they find the strength to continue to function on such little sleep and proper nutrition. The last thing they should have to worry about is how it’s also going to affect their personal relationships.

If you are currently the other half in a relationship like this, it’s also time for you to shine brighter than ever. As your partner risks and puts their life on the line daily, consider your efforts to be on a larger, more macro scale. Any sacrifice you make will initiate a ripple effect with everyone your significant other is impacting – including their families.

Remind yourself to be patient. Even when your partner is uncharacteristically short with you, they may simply be venting, and being their momentary “therapist” – showing them patience and love – is what they need to know and feel from you in return.

These are trying times and it will take tremendous effort on everyone’s part. There are uncertainties which many have never considered. Consequently, we are facing many emotions we’ve previously not experienced. All this adds to anxiety and makes us more prone to saying things and acting in ways we would have never dreamed.

Always remember, even though you may not be pleased with your actions, do not compound your difficulties by getting down on yourself. There’s no reason to augment this unfamiliar behavior with additional shame. I cannot stress this concept enough. The downward spiral of self-condemnation will cause more damage than the inexplicable behaviors could ever manifest.

For those of you who have been spending much more time with your partner or spouse than you have since… well since you first started dating… your struggle can seem just as ominous. Although you may not be dealing with the stress of work, there may be an overwhelming urge to take a break from everyone or even seek a little privacy. Add to that the addition of children or other family members and it’s a recipe for an emotional explosion.

Just like those on the frontlines, your situation also is manifesting unusual feelings and causing you to question yourself. This as well can increase doubt and fear which is never a catalyst for building strong relationships. By being aware of this one concept, it will allow you the presence of mind to be more acceptable and tolerant to those close to you.

Use this current situation to get a better understanding of your partner and even your family. Spend time asking questions and perhaps reacquainting yourselves. Make this an occasion for greater intimacy, and not in the physical sense. Intimacy, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “something of a personal or private nature.” It’s about getting a greater understanding of others and that comes most easily by conversation. Ask questions from simple to complex. You may have forgotten what their favorite color or food was. Venture into philosophical discussions and approach it with an open mind. Done in the right way, it can positively change your relationships in ways you could’ve never imagined.

This situation is unparalleled. It stands to reason moods, thoughts, and actions, which we’ve never undergone, would raise huge red flags during these exceptional times. There was no warning; no emphasis on signing up for courses teaching us how to deal with these unpredictable circumstances. All of us are trying to cope with not only the current situation but what will be our everyday lives once it has calmed down.

We all are facing this challenge both individually and collectively. The best way to progress is to ask yourself what you personally can do to manage and help. What in your own life can be improved and how can you be an example for others. This kind of thinking is not typical for human behavior. It takes awareness, vigilance, and persistence. It requires a determination which you may have never previously considered. But why shouldn’t unprecedented times also demand and create unprecedented courage, fortitude and integrity?

It is quite normal for some to be overwhelmed, especially for those who were struggling prior to the whole pandemic. If you or someone you know are facing this kind of challenge, please muster up the courage to ask for help. There are plenty of online groups set up to provide emotional and physical support. Seek out help in the community. Please don’t allow the feelings of shame to overwhelm and stop you from requesting it. As we all move forward with a common purpose to overcome this pandemic, there will be plenty of chances to pay it forward once it has passed.

My thanks to Markus Spiske on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

Going the distance

Photo by Quinn Nietfeld on Unsplash

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” 

Don Miguel Ruiz

Calling these last few weeks unprecedented is nearly an understatement. Even as this insidious virus began to multiply with voracious speed, not many could have imagined the devastating impact it would have on the global economy, as well as the drastic influences imposed upon social norms and standards. Inexplicably, it too shows no favoritism nor prejudice on whom it bestows its occasionally dreadful fate.

Perhaps the most confounding aspect of this Coronavirus is how it has impacted our sense of stability. While many of us have lived through difficult or unpredictable situations, we’ve typically experienced something this mystifying in history books or on the big screen. There are numerous uncertainties which only heighten fears, intensify anxieties, and leave us all hoping and praying for a positive outcome. As much as we can hardly wait for it to end, there’s a good chance life will be different from the way we formally knew it.

The advice for best defeating this menace is social isolation. The World Health Organization, is recommending a one-meter distance while many countries are advising twice that amount. For those who may start to display the slightest symptoms, staying at home and self-isolation are more urgently stressed. Municipalities across the globe are fiercely advocating and even demanding people remain in their residences. For the indefinite future, these are social practices most people have never considered and as a result, are playing havoc on their emotional wellbeing.

Undoubtedly, social distancing is the best way to avoid catching or spreading the virus. Since it was previously not something which we considered as part of typical interaction, we must now remain vigilant and be cognizant of doing our part. This shift in behavior, however, can have a negative emotional impact, especially for those not able to hug a loved one and not knowing when they will ever have another opportunity.

Those who’ve tested positive or are merely showing symptoms are self-isolating providing they do not require medical attention. This type of separation has an even stronger proclivity for creating bleaker anxiety and mental uncertainty. Nearly everyone will experience some angst or mental distress during this period; however, when daily activity begins to take on some resemblance of its former self, we don’t want the effects from these emotional struggles to suffer lasting consequences.

These are difficult times. It would be extremely callous of me to suggest that whatever you do is of your own making and that you should have the mental fortitude to forge through these arduous times. The challenges we face today only months ago were nearly unfathomable. Many are undergoing feelings at far greater levels, and which also are tremendously foreign to what they believed they could ever have felt.

What can help you maintain your emotional health is to be aware of a few points. To begin, know that everyone is facing similar uncertainties. When you feel anxious or even fearful, it’s not uncommon and you aren’t experiencing something that you shouldn’t be feeling in times like these. As much as you don’t want to be having them, they are very normal to be undergoing currently. You are not doing anything wrong nor displaying some particular weakness.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s okay to be feeling this way. Additionally, take the time to forgive yourself if you said or acted in ways which demonstrated abnormal behaviors. All too often, we believe that having these kinds of emotions is wrong and then become ashamed of ourselves for not being stronger. Rationalizing this way only compounds the humiliation and embarrassment, often spiraling us further downward emotionally.

Social distancing can generate a similar psychological struggle. Again, this was not of your doing, and in those moments when you feel discouraged or helpless, remind yourself that it’s okay if you feel confused, irritable, or other distressing moods. These reactions are part of being human and it only makes it worse if we punish ourselves for experiencing them.

What you’ll want to avoid is having those feelings prod you to act out and cause actions which will affect you or others in detrimental ways. Being aware of your feelings and forgiving yourself for having them is a great way to lower your anxiety and propensity to act in ways that you never believed you could. I highly recommend making a habit of frequently forgiving yourself during these difficult times. When you learn to forgive yourself it engenders a spirit of greater patience and acceptance. It sets an examples for others to replicate and inspires family and friends to work through this monumental struggle.

We are now beginning to realize our connection to each other. Even during times of social distancing and isolation, having more patience and understanding for others will restore our hope and faith in the world to come. We may not be certain how it will end or what changes will occur, but we can all do our best to help one another strive to keep our emotional health, and appreciate life in different, more tolerant, and loving ways.

It is true that our circumstances are a product of what we make it. Sometimes, however, we need encouragement or advice to help steer us in a positive and constructive direction. And there is nothing wrong with reaching out for a little help.

My thanks to Quinn Nietfeld on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

Happy 200th

The tree that changed everything. Taken January 2, 2013

Change happens when we change the way we think about ourselves.

It’s hard to believe this is my 200th article posted on LinkedIn. Shortly after beginning nearly 4 years ago, Sunday at 8 am Pacific Standard Time became the chosen time to post. Sunday mornings are always filled with anticipation and some anxiety wondering how my thoughts will be received. Yes, even after all the encouragement and positive comments, the nerves still make their appearance prior to hitting that “publish” button.

Although the purpose of these articles has been to help guide others along their journeys of emotional healing and personal development, I’ve been blessed by meeting dozens if not hundreds of fantastic people across the globe. I’ve interacted with mental health experts, professional writers and editors, entrepreneurs, and simply kind, good people.

2 months ago, when I began considering this article’s content, I would have never dreamed the world would be in the condition it is today. However, these trying times ought to be a reminder that it’s more important than ever to be more dedicated at showing our best self – holding on to our integrity, conveying kindness, and doing what we can to help others. I’ve been inspired by many of the coaches and therapists I’ve met here and it’s now time I stand with them to empower others to be their best versions of themselves.

Today, I’m proud to introduce my website: www.shamedoctor.com. (Please excuse some of the glitches still remaining) My aim is to help people heal from the devastating effects of shame, as well as other emotional abuses, and focus on personal development skills.

There are two subjects which continually weave throughout my writings and those are: (A) Personal Development and (B) Emotional Healing. Personal development can be summarized as getting a better understanding of who we are, our purpose in life, and what makes us feel magical. However, it’s difficult to begin this journey without first dealing with our emotional wounds and initiating the healing process.

The one emotional construct which fosters and magnifies our psychological trauma to extreme levels is shame. It is also one of the greatest misunderstood and under emphasized issues; and for or many, one of the most troubling and evasive hurdles they will ever face.

Shame, which I briefly define as the self-destructive beliefs and opinions we’ve falsely come to believe about who we were and are, is notorious for disguising itself and causing us to believe that somehow, we are not enough. It begins at an early age and for many, continues through much of their lives; constantly conditioning them with feelings of hopelessness and despair.

On the other end of the spectrum, shame also has the capacity to generate exaggerated beliefs of self-importance. Feelings of superiority are a pretense meant to mask the underlying true feelings of shame and hoping others won’t perceive it in us. Shame is the one emotion which causes an array of feelings from total unworthiness to complete arrogance.

My first book is centered around shame and how it frequently clenches us so tightly we don’t realize the damage we bring upon ourselves. It creates an environment where horrific things happening to us start to seem “normal” and if anything good happens to us, we probably didn’t deserve it.

When feelings of being hurt or damaged become our “normal” existence, then being hurt or damaged is no longer perceived as a problem and we wrongly believe nothing needs to be fixed or changed. This is precisely why it is the most difficult issue many people will face throughout their lives.

Although shame is the root cause for many of our emotional stains and abuses, simply pointing that out does not initiate emotional healing. Shamedoctor.com is there to help you begin that journey and start healing from the emotional anguish shame has caused. Unlike our physical bodies which can heal from minor cuts and bruises, the process of emotional healing is not necessarily innate and having a knowledgeable guide is extremely beneficial.

My journey began with the help of an amazing therapist and thankfully, my efforts included learning how best to help others discover these answers within themselves. Now it’s time for me to reach out worldwide and let others know there is hope. We don’t need to remain a prisoner of our past abuses. Even for those who believe there is no hope and the only remedy is doom, my purpose is to help them “change the way they think about themselves.”

There are many ways you or someone you know can benefit from my website and begin the healing journey. Soon, my books will also be available in virtual formats and I’ll have private and discreet group sessions which have distinct benefits as well.

We are living in trying times. All of us have recently experienced more anxiety or unease than we might recall. However, most of us are certain it will get better, only we’re not quite sure when that will be. To help overcome these concerns, I’ll be scheduling group meetings at no charge to help us get through these unprecedented times.

The above picture is one I took over 7 years ago. This tree was an important catalyst in my transformation. While spending the day in the mountains outside of Las Vegas, I was diligently searching deep within my soul for my answers. Why did shame have such a tight grip around me? What was it that wasn’t allowing me to move forward?

When I saw this tree, it made me pause. It was not beautiful. It truly looked withered, frail, and sad while the others around it were tall and green. Yet it continued to grow proudly. It knew no shame even in the midst of the others. That tree inspired a poem which was written 3 weeks prior to “My Independence Day” session. I’ve never finished a poem as quickly and it continues to move me every time I read it (posted at the end of this article).

I’ll be promoting others who are dedicating their lives to helping others heal, become unstuck, and to be the best version of themselves. I also want to thank you, all my readers, for your comments. In many ways, you’ve helped the Shame Doctor hone his skills and become more effective with emotional healing and personal development.

If there is one thing the world needs now more than ever, it’s emotional healing and to continually get a greater understanding of who we are. I am blessed and honored to be a part of that team – guiding others on their journeys. I look forward to the years to come.

The Tree

I took a long glance at this lonely tree 

And when I looked closer, what did I see? 

Its bark had withered, its branches the same 

Yet still it grew tall because it knew no shame 

What did it do to be shameful about? 

It caused no harm nor created any doubt 

Its purpose in life was clearly to be 

Simply one thing; a beautiful tree 

It stood there proudly on the cold mountain top 

Without ever wondering if it was going to stop 

For how long it was there I had no way to know 

Nor how many more years it would continue to grow 

As long as it had purpose in its solitary life to be 

And I felt at that moment, the same as the tree 

There’s no reason at all to continue with shame 

I wasn’t born in this world with doubt or blame 

Somewhere in my journey, I learned how to add 

Shame, unworthiness, and all that I was bad 

After these long years of blame and self-doubt 

Now is the time to realize I can truly live without 

All of these notions that I’m not worthy enough 

They hinder my journey and make my road tough 

So the time is now to look at myself plainly 

And realize I’m worthy to live life more sanely 

Get out from the past, move forward right now 

And put away all blame with this sacred vow 

I choose from this day, when I do have a choice 

To take a firm step and speak with stern voice 

And not let others or circumstanced provide 

The answers to life which for me I now decide 

When shame or self-doubt rears its ugly head 

I will dismiss it quite firmly as though it were dead 

For now, I feel worthy of great things to come 

I will gladly accept wherever they are from 

What life has to give me and what’s still in store 

I value myself fully and am open for much more 

And for the last time I fondly look upon that tree 

Having great anticipation of what life has for me 

With a tear in my eye and a big smile on my face 

I will live my life fully, touched by the tree’s grace 

A note of hope

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

“These are the times that try men’s [sic] souls.”

-Thomas Paine

Since we visited last, the world has gone through some dramatic changes. Perhaps you may have foreseen the tempest coming or maybe hoped it was being blown out of proportion by a few looking to make some easy money. Whatever your views are, it’s impossible to say that covid-19 hasn’t made an impact on your life, for which only time will tell the full scope and measure.

In times such as these, many of us are incredibly vulnerable to getting caught up in the gloomy conversations all around. Our frustrations heighten when the truth leads only to more alarming or ambiguous answers. How can something completely unseen by the naked eye have the ability to hold the entire world hostage?

In the case of a viral outbreak, that’s a question best posed to the scientists who’ve dedicated their lives researching the issues. However, what most of us want is to simply stop feeling confused, and return to the calm assuredness we used to feel about our future.

During such times of complete upheaval, the way we overcome anxiety of any kind is by truly understanding our own value and sense of self-worth. Stability and security come from a deep sense of knowing ourselves and our purpose. Knowing who we are and where we stand, at any given moment is what ultimately lends us this sense of comfort, and provides the self-empowerment needed for a brighter outlook even during the most tumultuous times.

In the next few months we will all be most susceptible to feelings of emotional distress. But that’s even more reason to recapture those feelings of stability and security, and regain a deeper sense of our purpose in life.

Taking strength in your personal integrity is how best to weather this storm and come out a stronger individual.

Sometimes we all require help, but unfortunately, some of us will sit mute; thinking no one wants to hear our problems. We wrongly feel a deep sense of shame when telling others about our troubles or deficiencies. But if there is one thing I want you to take from this article is that what is currently happening should NEVER bring shame upon anyone!

Instead, I want you to know that when we share our deepest, even most disparaging thoughts, the opposite tends to happen. Talking to someone produces positive emotions and they have great therapeutic value for humans. Why else would we want to talk with therapists, counselors, and life coaches? So, it’s important to remember there is help and you are not alone.

Additionally, at times of great despair, don’t discount your positive impact. You can help yourself by recalling and writing down a recent event which made a valuable impression. Think about people at work or in your community with whom you enjoy spending time. If financial woes have you concerned, don’t hesitate to reach out to local organizations or food banks whose primary function is to help. You did not create this situation and there is no shame by needing or asking for help. Their sole purpose is to assist others in need.

All of us can do our part by practicing proper hygiene and using practical steps to avoid catching or spreading this insidious virus. Keep updated on what is going on in your local communities and continue to be proactive to help minimize the impact this virus will make.

One of the most important aspects of building a sense of self-worth is to maintain personal integrity. Remembering who you are will help you to remain calm and not act rashly against someone or become opportunistic in the face of others’ demise. We must work together and not deepen the divide which is spawned by the presence of fear and unrealistic demands.

This current predicament is unprecedented and one we hope will never occur again. It demonstrates how even in a modern society, the world will always be a delicate and fragile place. No amount of money or power can shield anyone from something so undetectably small as this tiny spore. But it can become a valuable reminder to us all that life is a cherished gift and we should always reach for our opportunities to thrive.

I’m going to offer personalized sessions for those who need support during the coronavirus outbreak. If you would like help or to become part of a group session, please contact me for more details.

My thanks to Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.

The impasse

Photo by Nicole Garcia

“Healing is an ongoing process. Some days are more difficult than others but understanding that self-love is a crucial component will keep you on your healing path.” – Nicole Garcia

In last week’s article we explored reasons why some well-intended people find themselves trapped in difficult, one-sided relationships. To think that many enter into relationships only to have their sincerity and love twisted, belittled, and used against them for completely selfish means is appalling. These stories are heartbreaking. But hearing the brave accounts of those who were able to overcome them are exceedingly heartwarming.

Love is complex and multifaceted; and since self-love is part of the healing process, it’s an issue I deal with in a slightly different manner for every single client. What has been helpful in my own practice is to discover the various ways in which people become entrapped by a sincere and visceral need to show and express love.

Having experienced my own version of love’s impasse allows me to be empathetic and understanding with my clients. It’s often a relief to them when they’ve heard I’ve undergone a similar experience. Thankfully, I was not a victim of an overbearing or completely selfish partner; mine centered more on never seeing the importance of self-love and how that truly strengthens relationships rather than damages them. My thinking was only to please; and often found myself second guessing what the “right” thing to do was in order to seemingly express my love.

The remedy is never as straightforward as “just start loving yourself.” If it were that easy, this column wouldn’t exist. The intricacies and peculiarities of each situation are continually shifting, making it more difficult to understand how and why they become ensnared and almost hypnotized into what they believe is true love’s expression.

What frequently occurs in these kinds of love-twisted relationships is the compassionate person, imprisoned by a narcissistic partner, cannot even begin to reason how any person would use someone’s own love against them. The slightest thought that anyone could remotely consider doing that is nauseating and repulsive. Conversely, those with inflated egos can’t imagine how any person would consider sacrificing so much for another person.

Herein lies the problem. Transformation occurs when a person understands something needs to be changed.

The caring ones, rightfully so, don’t want to change their already kind and loving spirit. And the self-consumed don’t want anything to strip them of their power and control. Ironically, the caring person does see the need for the other person to change and wants it to happen so desperately they’ll hang on to the slightest thread of hope, which their self-centered partner has learned to strategically and periodically tease them with throughout the relationship.

The first step is to help them realize what changes need to occur. They don’t need to be less loving and caring while at the same time becoming more self-centered. They don’t need to score more points in the relationship to prove their worth. Those traits should be lauded. The realization is that they deserve to be reciprocated with the same kind of love which they give.

The most difficult personalities, who always require the biggest changes, also have the least ability to recognize what changes need to occur because their primary focus is on themselves. They’ve developed a need and in a sense, have become addicted to continually being right. And when you are always right, how will you ever consider the notion that you may be wrong?

The “giver” frequently identifies what changes need to be made. Their struggle happens with learning to love themselves. The self-righteous, on the other hand, rarely see any need to change and when they do, it typically occurs after their world falls apart and they are left with nothing but desolation and destruction. Even then some still have difficulty understanding everything around them wasn’t provided for their comfort, pleasure, and luxury.

Each person in this relationship needs a healing journey to begin. The dilemma on this road is understanding this is typically a long process. Many desire these changes to manifest quickly. Why can’t we simply decide, “I’m going to love myself beginning this moment” and our lives pivot forever on that moment? Again, if there were a predictable answer, there would be no purpose in writing these articles.

For many, the way we learn to perceive and practice love has taken years to develop. Our actions become more of a ritual or a “default reaction.” Several decades of erroneous behavior isn’t undone by one confident decree. It takes work and determination to undo this kind of flawed thinking. While some might be fortunate to make such a miraculous turnaround, most face a challenging and exasperating journey. Please know that the rewards for this effort far outweigh the difficulties experienced during the process.

Another obstacle is when one questions the progress made because of some mistake or backsliding. Depending on the gravity of the emotional wounds, it can be extremely difficult to see any progress whatsoever. Discouragement is often the biggest denier; especially for those at the beginning of their journeys.

The best medicine for this situation is to remind them of the positive changes they’ve already made. Point out those successes and always leave with encouraging words. There were several times early in my journey when I questioned or even downplayed my transformations. What helped me most was realizing these negative thoughts were precisely how my own shame (and what I refer to in my book as the shame filter) wanted me to reason. If I continued in that vein, I would once again succumb to what I believe is the biggest yet least discussed issue that most will face throughout their lifetimes.

If you or someone you know is stuck in a similar difficulty, let them know there’s hope. Share this article or reach out to me directly. No one should ever have to be at an impasse with their own love.

My thanks to Nicole Garcia for both the beautiful picture and enlightening quote. She is a rising star and one who is an incredible example. I look forward to your comments.