Meditation: The First Step to Higher Consciousness

Meditation practice regularly helps you to be more calm and present. When you release your thoughts in meditation, your body relaxes and energy is freed for you to use in other activities or to rest and heal yourself. Letting go of thoughts, fear, anxieties, and distractions allow an emotional environment where fewer mistakes are made and you save time. When you are calmed by meditation, you are less likely to be “Triggered” and you can be more available for positive decision making and better choices.

This is nothing new. Yes, it does take time and practice to learn to meditate but it saves you time and energy in the long run. I have found that people require less sleep and can focus better during their work day. Meditation also allows connection with the divine source of wisdom and unconditional love. You may not know this and even may want to argue about this, but if you quiet yourself and become more fully “present” you will find these benefits.

Or, you can continue to be caught in your emotional drama and allow fear & anger to run your life. This is perfect also. Being open and positive will help you to find more joy and contentment in the challenges of life.

Blessings to you on your path. Just remember to breathe slowly and feel the warm breath that you exhale assist you in letting go of unwanted tension and troubling emotions.

More information at:
Stress Education Center and
Masters of the Journey

Books on Meditations include:
Curt Remington’s Simple Meditation at http://curtremington.com
and
Paula Forget’s, “Guided to a Higher Realm at http://paulaforget.com/inspired/

Count Your Blessings!

Have you ever heard that expression, “Count Your Blessings?” Why would someone say this to you? What is the purpose for looking for the “Positives” in the life you are here to live? For many people, it is easier to look for the problems and the negative interactions and perhaps even play a “Victim” to these challenges. But does looking for and living within the “negative” give you the joy that can be found in this world?

What do YOU give thanks for in the world? Even the most brutal lessons can be honored as important opportunities to learn from, even if the learning is what NOT to do. Personally, I have learned more from my mistakes and my painful relationships than I have learned from when my life was most easy and successful. The 8 years I lived with my wife’s terminal cancer I would not wish upon anyone and yet these were some of the most important years for learning in my life. The lessons of empathy and compassion were so valuable. The fear and the sharing within our many crisis’ was such a powerful tool for learning about the human dilemma. The closeness that we grew into, with the love at a level tested by trauma, was an amazing and important experience for me. AND, from all of this learning, I find that I have wisdom and gifts to share.

So, look for the difficult experiences as well as the joys when you look for the many blessings that YOU have been granted. Do not keep these a secret. Share them! Challenge others to appreciate being more fully “Present.” Bask in the drama that is your lessons of this life. Do not hesitate to reach out for other people. Allow them to support you AND reach out to share your love and support with them. Find compassion and caring. Find the perfection of the divine spirit within every soul you encounter, even the ones who trigger your fear, anger/frustration, and your defenses. Each encounter is there for a reason. Each encounter is there for your learning.

Blessings to you! Love and appreciate each moment and share your love and wisdom whenever you can.

If you are looking for support and resources to focus upon your spiritual growth and development, consider the Masters of the Journey community. YOU are a Blessing! You have a Purpose! The Universe would have a huge hole in it if you did not exist… With Love – Namaste!

Growing the Garden: a Reason to Live

Do you have a good reason to live? Is there something motivating you that may help you to live longer should you find yourself with a terminal illness? I have seen mothers with young children use their love of their children to fight off near-death experiences. When asked why they chose to come back from their near-death incident, they have answered they could not leave yet, knowing that their young children would be left to grow without them. This experience has surfaced when severe accidents and terminal illness were involved. Some people are ready to pass into the next consciousness and “let go” more easily. Some people fear death or for other reasons stubbornly hold on to living. I had a male client in his late thirties who had anger as a motivation to keep living years beyond his prognosis. His wife and younger children suffered the torment of living with this angry, frustrated husband/father. When he finally did let go, there was some relief felt by caregivers and family. In this particular case, his death-defying behaviors were actually viewed as a torture for his family. Sad, but true.

Then there are people like my late wife, Barbara. She lived beyond her prognosis. She appreciated and celebrated every day that she lived with her cancer. One of her positive motivators was her passion for growing plants in her garden. Like the Winchester Mystery House, she continued to add more garden and more plants every chance she got. She rejoiced with every blossom that developed. She celebrated every vegetable that matured. She had weeding projects and building projects that never seemed to end. When she cut her blossoming flowers and brought them inside to decorate our home, I felt her joy and saw her beaming smile. She took all of our visitors on a tour of her gardens to celebrate her creations and the sensation of life that these plants symbolized. Their appreciation bolstered her energy. This energy kept her stronger for her treatments and helped her to maintain an exercise regimen. She kept her focus on living and did not discuss her condition. She did not want to be known as a cancer patient or someone struggling with a terminal illness. She did not want sympathy but wanted to bask in joy, health, happiness and the Light. She planned future dates of positive events with family and friends. She looked to the blessings in the future and not to the gathering clouds.

If this is relevant to you or to someone you know, I encourage you to help them bask in the Light of life’s celebrations. Enjoy the happiness and joys in each new day. Focus on what is working and keep moving forward.

Thank you for your attention and your time. With my love and my challenge, please keep moving closer to the light of unconditional love and higher consciousness… Find joy!

Anger and Rage filled People are Always Right, in Their View!

With the Presidential Elections happening later this year in the United States, the silly political theater is in full effect. Intelligence, cooperation, negotiation, reasoning, and civility go “out the window.” The people who yell loudest, even though a minority in the electorate, seem to get the most crazy, media time due to the fact the media loves the “crazies.” (Good screen-time…) So, I offer a few thoughts on how to view the process…

There are a lot of angry and rage driven people in this country (and the world) and they are always right, at least in their belief system. Most of these people have developed their habitual “knee-jerk” reaction to any opposing thought, by allowing their anger and rage to rise to the surface, and without any appropriate filtering, find expression. Historically, polite society has encouraged a safety net of emotional filtration of the expression of anger. We have developed laws that are supposed to keep strong emotions from taking over and the expression of emotional rage from being demonstrated. We have even developed laws which say that angry people in relationships can not, legally, beat each other or their children (as in domestic violence or child abuse.) Our system allows for “free expression” of our political views but has discouraged “punching someone out” for disagreeing. We do have problems with anger filled bullies who attempt to control situations with their anger by shouting down any opposing conversation or action. On their terms, free expression is sanctioned but only toward someone who holds their same belief. In this way, a minority can control the political process by saying “NO” and bullying any opposition.

Very often these angry, rage filled people are driven by their value system that sees things in “black and white” terms. “Either you are for me or against me” mentality. There is no “gray zone” where there is room to work together with compromise. This is why the congressional process in the United States has ground to a halt and become ineffective. No room to compromise means a minority opinion can control the political process. The person who “yells louder” wins the discussion and angry people, who have no appreciation for the act of compromise, seem to control progress by grinding negotiation to a halt.

“Black and white” values and expressing anger/rage are linked together. This value system historically has given rise to dictatorships and totalitarian regimes like the one currently controlling Iran and, in the past, Nazi Germany. The minorities take control of their political process, and their governments, without regard for compromise and the basic human rights of opposing beliefs. There are dangerous people who might strap an explosive vest to their body and walk into a crowded market to detonate their bomb. Terrorists are very “black and white” in their thinking. They often have a belief that if you do not agree with their values you deserve to die, even if other innocent people die also. Religious extremists and political extremists are not dissimilar in their “black and white,” “right or wrong” attitudes and values. They can be quick to anger with opposition and when they “act out,” headlines are made. For rational people who understand the value of compromise, this is very scary. As our world continues toward political and religious polarization, violence and angry outbursts will escalate.

There is an appropriate place for anger. There are appropriate ways to express dissatisfaction, even rage, but extremism, from any political or religious mindset, needs to be expressed through the filters of rational and appropriate communication. The world is getting too crowded and too small for minority bullies to be running the show.

Mutual respect, tolerance of differing views, and the acceptance that other people’s beliefs can be shared, but not forced on non-believers, seems necessary in our shrinking and over-crowded world.

Be wary of preachers and politicians who are too extreme in their “black and white” sermons, with little or no regard for another opinion. These bullies can control followers and drive them to act unfairly in the mob that they create. Their most ardent supporters are often people who are under-educated or who are impulsive because they are not able to think clearly about available options that can create positive solutions to pressing issues. Stand up and use your brain so that you are not “controlled” and duped into behaviors that rational people of the world would find to be stupid or inappropriate. It is our responsibility to seek all the information on both sides of an issue before we make our final decision, as the framers of the constitution of the United States intended. (Do not rely on any one source of information and news coverage. It may require an effort that even looks outside our country’s media sources.) This requires time and effort, not the “follow the tail in front of you” approach as circus elephants are trained to do. If you can not find your way, safely, out of the narrow minded thinking, then at least do not react in a “knee-jerk” fit of rage to an opposing point of view. Perhaps, as a reasonable alternative, engage in tolerance. “Civics” as a study, and part of our education process, has largely been lost to educational budget cuts in the United States, and with it, the education regarding how the political process is supposed to work and how the voters are supposed to prepare themselves to make good voting decisions. To often we are lead to the polls by the demagogues who yell the loudest and control our media’s attention.

Please be responsible and do not be lazy when you choose your government, or, you are doomed to pay the price…

Letting Go a Meditation

(From a meditation on a beautiful Fall day… and, for future meditations to find peace…)
Consider this meditation by reading each line slowly and pausing to experience these words/thoughts.

Experience the feelings of being angry.
Experience the feelings of fear.
Experience the feelings of being sad.
Experience the feelings of being anxious.
Experience the feelings of the lack of control.

Learn the lesson of anger and accept it.
Learn the lesson of fear and accept it.
Learn the lesson of sadness and accept it.
Learn the lesson of anxiety and accept it.
Accept the lack of control. Accept that death is the outcome of living. It is not the enemy, it is an important transition.

Let go of anger.
Let go of fear.
Let go of sadness.
Let go of anxiety.
Let go of frustration.

Now say:
I am letting go of my anger.
I am letting go of my fear.
I am letting go of my anxiety.
I am letting go of my sadness.
I am letting go of my frustration with my lack of control and I am learning to accept the process of death for my loved ones and for myself. If possible, find grace in the final transition.

I am Joy!
I am Love!
I am Blessed!
I am Peace!

In my heart, I feel the glimmer of peace from acceptance…

10 Steps to Manage Anger in the Workplace

1. Identify who is angry
Train your managers and employees to identify the behaviors that can signal an anger challenged co-worker and have a positive system that will report these behaviors to management for further investigation. Do not wait.

2. Identify why they are angry
Interview reporting staff to determine whether indications warrant further review. Interview subject to determine why they may be angry at work. Offer positive solutions for individual stress and anger control or refer to EAP if appropriate and available.

3. Find solutions to organizations’ culture as it pertains to anger
Do not stick your head in the sand. Tackle the possible organizational issues that may be creating the stress and anger within your organization and work to solve these challenges.

4. Train leaders to create a culture of civility
Leadership comes from the top down and must address the issues with resolve. If anger is inbred in an organization’s leaders this becomes a difficult but important concern. The costs of anger are too high, in the long run, for an organization to be most productive and long standing. Retention of key personnel becomes an issue, if the leadership creates a culture that tolerates, or encourages, anger in the work place. Legal issues will also become an issue that cuts profits and productivity.

5. Train managers to identify anger and manage teams/individuals with issues
Managers require training, support, and good leadership. Coaching or mentoring managers, especially new managers who have risen from technical backgrounds, becomes an essential ingredient for most successful organizations. This will also reduce turn-over, sabotage, and legal challenges.

6. Train employees to control their stress and anger appropriately
Give all of your employees the tools they need to manage their own individual stresses and anger. Do not assume that they will learn civility and self-management outside of work. Though this requires time, resources, and management attention, it will pay off in increased organizational productivity and employee loyalty.

7. Manage organizational stress and transition management
Learn how to manage your organizations transitions and help your executives and employees survive the stress at work. This will prevent problems and create an environment where positive performance can thrive.

8. Create an anger management program for individuals with clear goals
When someone has an identified anger management challenge, it may be a great management decision to assist your personnel with a anger management program rather than replacing these people or expecting and outside agency to fix your “problem.” Programs can be tailored for your specific requirements. Some have a 2 day seminar and individual coaching if individuals require additional support. Other organizations may have on-going, and mandatory, groups for people identified with anger challenges. External coaches or therapists are often hired for these programs so confidentiality does not become an issue in the work environment.

9. Take immediate action: Zero tolerance of anger and violence
Tolerating anger displays or violence is dangerous. It can send the wrong message and opening your organization up to harassment law suits. Leaders must be strong with this Zero Tolerance.

10. Offer ways to speak out safely about issues to prevent anger and violence (be open to creative solutions)
Create venues that allow people to be heard. Respect diversity of opinion. Create a safe way to express appropriate levels of stress and frustration. Always look to build a better environment and culture.
To implement these principles can require resolve and leadership. Many organizations require coaching and consulting to make these deep changes to their culture. The pay-off can be found in increased productivity, loyalty, and more creativity to problem solving.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free newsletter signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.

Dealing with Angry or Anxious Clients

Every situation is unique because the people involved are different. With that said, this blog can offer a basic introduction on strategies that may assist you when you are confronted by anxious or angry clients or customers (consumers.) The event that brought these people into confrontation with you is important to understand and needs to be worked into your solution.

For example, image that you are being confronted by an “upset” consumer who wants to acquire iodine pills to prevent thyroid cancer after a nuclear release in Japan has blown over to your region. The national government has limited the supply of these pills because the government wants the pills to go to the regions where it will be needed most, due to limitations on the supply. The media has whipped up the levels of anxiety and many people are not thinking clearly, impulsively wanting the medication that may not be needed for their specific demographic. You have access to the medication but are not allowed to release it unless your customer meets certain criteria which has been established by some far away governmental agency. What do you do in this situation where you have very little control but are on the front line for taking the “heat” for this media whipped frenzy???

It is good to start by understanding why people react the way that they do in a crisis situation. People often perceive themselves in mortal danger. Their flight-fight response is triggered by the fear created by half truths the media passes off as news. When this panicked response begins, the rational parts of our brains often “shut down” or at least, takes a reduced decision making position subservient to the more primitive part of the brain where the automatic survival mechanisms are centered. This primitive part of the brain, also called the “reptilian brain” because it is related to primitive reptilian responses from millions of years ago is more dominant in certain stressful situations when we require quick reactions to survive. The basic emotions that are expressed when we are stressed are ANGER, FEAR (anxious), Sadness, and, perhaps surprisingly, Joy! These are the 4 basic emotions and these emotions have primitive origins. So, people who are stressed often reduce their abilities to think, problem solve, and communicate, and go into a reactive mood where fear or anger are close to the surface and are demonstrated. Knowing this, you must begin to identify who is angry or fearful and why. Why are they not understanding the full picture? Probably because they do not have all the information and they can not problem solve well due to the stress/anxiety they are processing.

If you have time, the following list offers some of the best ways to handle this situation in order of how you might proceed:

1. Ask questions regarding their base of knowledge and, more importantly, their feelings (fears, anger, anxiety). What is their history of this situation? Often they are trying to protect a loved one and they feel powerless to control a difficult situation. Consider their source of news or mis-information but do not confront them about this in the early stages.

2. Calm them down. Re-state their concerns by repeating back what you have heard and ask them to correct any of YOUR mis-understandings about their specific situation. Know what you are dealing with AND show the respect of listening to their fears/concerns. Offer them ways to comfort themselves in this difficult situation.

3. Get them information about their concern so they can make an informed decision. When they ask questions, give them more information, as patiently as possible. Do not expect a “rational response.” Keep your emotions (frustration) in check, as best you can, to help defuse the panicked response. (I was reminded that in difficult situations people will “go shopping” for the “answer that they want to hear,” so consistent answers or policy descriptions will save you a lot of grief… This requires training for the people who have jobs communicating with the public.)

4. Negotiate a solution that helps to solve their emotional response. Provide time lines, as best you can. Be as honest as you can be, based on the information you have.

5. Honesty and compassion, when sincere, are 2 of your best tools. Brutal honesty, though, is not called for in a stressful situation. Good bedside manner will often get you farther, faster. Reflecting their concerns back to them in a different way will help them to feel heard and may save you time in the long run by helping to establish a positive rapport (or connection.)

6. Always, apologize to them for the situation even if you are not the cause of the problem, and if you are the cause, apologize most sincerely. People would like to feel that their response was correct, even when it is not.

7. If you have not done so already, take GOOD care of yourself. Calm down! Do not get “sucked in” to crazy emotionally driven behavior by your own lack of a solid emotional foundation.

8. If all else fails, say sincerely to yourself, “This to shall pass…” TRY to not get stuck in the “drama” (anxious feelings and reactions) because this will not do you, or anyone else, any good. When the dilemma has subsided, and you feel “out of the line of fire,” do what emergency responders do… make a bad or twisted joke about the difficult situation. This will help to take away its emotional power and can begin the process of your crisis de-briefing.

Good luck. Please take good care of yourself, preventively. Contact the Stress Education Center for coaching or organizational training to assist with managing this process at www.dstress.com.

Anger in the Workplace Part I

Costs of Anger and Identifying Anger at Work

Anger is one of the 4 basic emotions. These primitive responses manifest in men and women as a response to stressful stimuli. Any or all of these, 4 basic emotions can be observed as a response to stress, though each individual develops some dominant habits as response to life’s stimuli. The four emotional responses are Fear, Anger, Sadness (depression), or Joy. These four possible responses are generated from primitive parts of the brain that respond to the Flight/Fight survival response. Some people respond to change or other stress by becoming fearful and apprehensive about lack of control or the unknown. Other people withdraw into sadness or depression as a response to stress. There are some people who manifest their nervousness by laughing or giggling or possibly making inappropriate jokes as a response to a difficult or dangerous situation. This article focuses on anger.

Both men and women get angry. However, men are more likely to “act out” in an overt way in response to stress. In statistics supplied by the Justice Department regarding anger and violence in the workplace, 85% of violence in the workplace was perpetrated by men. Statistics also reflect that 1 of 4 employees are angry at work. Much quoted statistics from the Safe Workplace Institute states that in 1993 work place violence cost $4.2 Billion and that 111,000 incidents were reported. Anger can manifest in other forms that do appear to be acts of violence. Anger can manifest as absenteeism, turnover, low morale, poor communication, reduced productivity, poor customer service, sabotage, theft, aggressiveness, sexual harassment, and intimidation (“bullying”). This can be dangerous and expensive! Accidents, injuries, and legal problems can be tied to anger in the workplace.

WARNING SIGNS
Workplace anger is often buried by employees until they reach a point where they suddenly burst. This “bursting” point may manifest itself in a variety of ways. One employee may just yell at his manager, while another may impetuously decide to quit. Still others may resort to workplace violence or vandalism. Small business owners and managers should acquaint themselves with the warning signs of hidden anger so that they can address the causes for that anger and, hopefully, head off an incident before it occurs. Employees may exhibit behavior that is more obviously troubling.

Following are a range of behaviors that may signal a need for intervention:
• Overreaction to company policies or performance appraisals
• Prone to making direct or veiled threats
• Sarcastic, irritable, or moody behavior
• Apathetic and/or inconsistent work performance
• Aggressive and antisocial behavior
• Touchy relationships with other workers
• Obsessive involvement and/or emotional attachment to job

Counterproductive and expensive behaviors at work can be observed, and, should be dealt with as soon as possible. These may include:
1. Coming to work late without permission
2. Taking longer breaks
3. Complaining about insignificant things
4. Ignoring someone at work
5. Daydreaming rather than working
6. Trying to look busy
7. Being rude or nasty to client or co-worker
8. Leaving work early
9. Insulting fellow employees about job performance
10. Refusing to help out at work
11. Blaming colleagues for errors that they made
12. Verbally abusing a co-worker
13. Making fun of people at work
14. Avoiding returning telephone calls that are important
15. Telling people outside of work what a lousy place they work at
16. Failing to report a problem and allowing it to get worse
17. Withholding needed information
18. Intentionally coming late to meetings or appointments
19. Working slowly when things need to be done faster
20. Staying home and claiming to be sick
21. Purposely failing to follow instructions
22. Refusing work
23. Damaging equipment
24. Stealing
25. Using obscene gesture
26. Hitting or pushing someone at work
27. Threatening someone
28. Intentionally doing work wrong
29. Wasting materials or supplies
30. Starting malicious rumors

Factors that cause workplace anger can sometimes be addressed directly. While workplace anger sometimes can be traced back to prejudices that are at the root of deep-seated hostility, on many other occasions, work-oriented factors serve as the primary catalysts.

Common causes of workplace anger include:
• Favoritism of one employee over another.
• General harassment, whether sexual or some other form
• Rejection (whether arbitrary or for good reason) of a proposal or project in which employee has big emotional investment.
• Insensitivity by owners or managers.
• Criticisms of employees in front of staff or clients.
• Depersonalized workplace environment.
• Unfair (or tardy) performance appraisals or criticism.
• Lack of resources for the employee to meet his/her objectives.
• Inadequate training.
• Lack of teamwork.
• Withdrawal of earned benefits.
• Betrayal of trust extended to manager or owner.
• Unreasonable demands on employees.
• Does not keep promises.
• Lack of flexibility on part of owner or manager.
• Poor communication.
• Feedback is wholly or primarily negative in tone.
• Absentee leadership (such as instances wherein needed disciplinary action is absent).
• Micromanagerial environment in which staff decision making opportunities are limited.

Do not allow your organization to become a victim of workplace violence. The following article (part II) will help to create positive solutions to prevent or mitigate workplace anger and violence. Each organization is unique and this can create a situation where outside coaching for executives and managers can be the most successful way to solve challenges. Training for your employees can be tailored to be most effective for your unique situations.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free ezine (newsletter) signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.

After the Death of My Wife: 6 Months Into the Void

June, 2012 – Posted by L. John Mason –

It has been an interesting six months since my wife passed. Early on, besides the overwhelm, I thought I could get through this difficult transition fairly quickly due the knowledge that I had been preparing for this loss for 7 years. I am learning that this was an illusion. When my parents passed away, I handled this well and moved back into my life with relative ease, but losing my life partner of 28 years has proven to be more difficult than I had imagined. Life has a way of being surprising. And, expectations have a way of leading to disappointment.

I have no reason to whine. I have great friends and lots of healthy support. What has surprised me are the little things that then trigger the beautiful, bitter-sweet memories that float through my consciousness and cause the tears to flow down my cheek. These events are brief, and for the most part, cherished as friendly ghosts of a loving relationship. I have learned that a remembering which causes a smile and then a tear are beautiful and a celebration. Certain events that I would not have thought would trigger the flow of emotions surface like Mother’s Day. It was harder than I thought and I am not sure why. Preparing for the local Relay for Life and the beginning “Survivor’s Walk” was an event that Barbara and I participated in for 7 years and this year the anticipation was difficult.

We have all suffered loss and transitions, and we have our own unique way of getting through these times. Perhaps your loss was not the death of loved one but a relationship change, or a job change, or a move into a new environment. There are changes that are more difficult than others based on your individual life. There are times when you ruminate about your loss and seem to spiral down into despair. These are important lessons to learn from in your life, not easy or fun, but important to wade through. There are recommendations that can be made to allow you to move more gracefully through these possibly dark times. Consider the following: 1. Take Good Care of yourself… practice wellness, 2. Get the HEALTHY support from healthy friends or family, 3. Get Professional counseling support if needed, 4. Focus on positive potential plans or goals, 5. Do not be in hurry to control your expectations (easier said than done.)

Consider sharing your feelings and thoughts early and often. The more you share the story the more you can desensitize yourself to the trauma unless you are ruminating too deeply. Avoiding the healing, with its pain, by using substances like alcohol, drugs, and food can give some people momentary comfort but can slow down the process or even create more problems. For me, the best strategy has been to speak with my many healthy supportive friends. Though not everyone is as lucky as me in this way, you might be well warned that building these positive relationships can and should be done now for your future requirements. If all else fails, local hospice organizations have bereavement groups that can get you started. There are books on the subject. There are counselors, coaches, and clergy who are trained to help. Do not think that you are strong to hold these things in and to NOT BOTHER anyone else with your pain. In fact, by sharing your grief and challenges you are probably allowing others the great benefit of being able to give some support and nurturing to you (and this will allow your partner to feel good about their efforts in your support.) Listen to advice when given but move slowly and carefully on any additional transitions that may be suggested. In most cases you do NOT need to rush into anything.
We can not escape life without loss and transitions. The trick is to learn how get through these times as gracefully as possible and to learn the lessons as easily as possible (so you do not have these lessons have to be repeated…) Keep your eyes open and your heart prepared to give and to receive. No one knows how to do these things perfectly and most of the time these transitions will not be pretty. They will be tests and lessons to learn from.
When we lose a major source of love and support, you can not easily replace this relationship but you can find ways to be open to positive, healthy relationships, and new sources of love, to begin to fill the void. (Do not rush into this but allow yourself to consider the possibilities.)

Please take good care of yourself. Support your friends and family if they have had losses ’cause we can all learn from these times… Celebrate Peace…

We send comments, your thoughts, and your feedback the Stress Education Center at wellness@dstress.com or through the website at www.dstress.com

Anger and Death

At some point, most people who live past adolescence realize that they are not going to get out this life, alive. Death is a natural, and unavoidable, outcome of living. (As of 2014, this is a fact of life…) Some cultures and societies work at pretending that death is NOT inevitable and this denial is built into the structure of the culture. Americans seem to frown on death like it is weakness in life to give in to death. In this culture, youth is celebrated and old people should only participate in celebrations of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. There would be more television programs about older people if the culture were not in such denial. Now, I am not saying that we should have another “reality TV” show about older people’s last days amongst the living but it has been a long time since programs like the “Golden Girls.”

But the point of this blog article is not about denial of death and dying. It is about the emotions people feel regarding the loss of family member or friend to the process of dying. In the past, people lived with or near their families and families cared for each other with process of “passing away” done at home surrounded by family. Families would embrace the transition and it was a “natural” process. It is often very different in present day families.

Image that you were a child of divorced, or unmarried parents. You have been estranged from your biological parent due to divorce, or substance abuse, or prison, or large geographical distances and you learn that your non-custodial biological parent is dying. You may already harbor anger and resentment toward this parent for not “being there” for you and now you cannot even “get even” emotionally for the neglect (real or imagined) because the object of you anger is now leaving you due to a terminal disease process. How do you deal with your anger and your ambivalence toward this parent? From professional experience, I know that people often turn this anger inward. Depression often manifests. Anxiety can surface. Adjustment disorders may become inflamed. It is natural to be depressed or anxious. Though this is a natural response it remains often elusive as to how to deal with these strong emotions in “positive” ways.

Some cultures and religions suggest that you experience the loss of a significant person to better learn “your” lessons of this life. The perspective of surviving this loss can make you stronger. Everyone deals with loss differently. Some people want to escape their pain and avoid this strong emotion by getting involved with substance abuse. Some people use other behaviors to avoid their pain like playing too many video games, engaging in unsafe sexual experiences, or possibly other dangerous, but distracting, behaviors. A healthier way of responding to this difficult experience might be to get professional support or support from “healthy” family or friends. This might involve discussing the anger or the sadness in appropriate ways. It might involve discussing the loss and the void left when the person passes. It might include discussing the unfinished business. It might include discussing life beyond and how to consider filling “the void.”

Children or poorly articulate adults have serious challenges communicating their pain, anger, frustration, upset, and loss. They require assistance in a safe, “non-judgemental” relationship. They need to be told that their feelings are not un-natural or bad. They need to be counseled on how to express this emotion in safe and appropriate ways. They often need to be supported with positive alternatives forms of expression and positive choices to move forward in their lives. Often they have been “cheated” from the experience of telling their estranged parent or significant person the anger or pain they feel about their disappointing relationship. Alternative forms of communicating their feelings should be explored such as painting, drawing, writing, photography, or forms of sculpture.

It is hard to deal with the loss of a loved one (or significant other.) It is difficult to communicate your pain and ambivalence. Some people, especially children, need more assistance and support, from healthy, non-judgemental adults. I am sorry for your trauma and your loss. I can feel your pain. I have experienced this pain, myself, and it is not easy. Please take good care of yourself.