Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cherish Each Moment

Terror and natural disasters happen all around us. Whether they are airport shootings in Brussels, or an earthquake in the far east, or shooting of a congress woman, they teach me that life is precious, and I want to look for the blessings in my life and the lives of those around me.

I enjoy, with extra relish, our grandson’s antics on the trampoline.

Watch the kids enjoy a dress-up day at the museum,

Our oldest daughter works with youth in inner city Philadelphia and has spent hours collecting books and warm clothing for their Christmas. “I’m grateful to be associated with these children and share my love with them.”

While I filled my tutoring assignment at the neighborhood grade school, I looked at each one of the energetic boys I read with each week, and I treasured my time with them—a little more than I have in the past.

As I reflected on my reaction to the tragedies, I thought of a truism given us by Betty Smith who wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:
Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first or last time, and thus is your time on earth filled with glory.

The gift I take away from world turmoil is a remembrance to cherish life. Whether it’s the beauty of newly frosted snow clinging to the trees, sticky little finger prints on my patio door, or a hug from a precious grandchild, I will value each moment as if I were seeing it for the first or last time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Teach Children to Believe in Themselves

A young girl, Jane, came in for therapy because she felt victimized in the neighborhood at school. Her dominant father showed her how to fight back physically, and berated her because she couldn’t do that. Her mother fretted and worried but had no solutions. Jane knew what she wanted but was afraid to share her ideas for fear they were no good. Her self confidence was severely lacking.

The four of us worked together to empower this child, using the following ideas. Both parents were willing to listen and learn and change their behavior.

Listen to your child
This was an especially difficult task for both parents. The father was used to discounting what Jane said. When he began to listen, Jane didn’t know what to say at first. Mother was used to telling Jane her solutions were no good.

Ask for his or her opinion
It took some time for this family to open their communication and discuss their issues. But therapy gave them a time of accounting, and they were successful.

Come up with solutions together
The three of them found it fun to come up with answers together. Although the father found it hard not to impose his ‘law’ in the discussions, he did learn to keep his mouth shut and listen.

Work together to unravel a problem
Mother had the most difficult time being solution-focused. She was not used to following through resolve a problem. Over the years she had kept herself in a constant state of drama, and it was hard to let that go.

Discuss your success
When this family had a victory in solving a problem, they were able to talk about the things that worked and the things they would do differently next time.

Ask the child how he or she feels about the victory
Both parents were delighted with their success, and praised Jane. I suggested that they asked Jane how she felt about her triumph.

Over the months, Jane’s relationship with her family and friends changed. She no longer felt victimized by those around her. Her mother watched Jane share her ideas when she had play dates. She could lead and follow in the activities.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Change of Thinking

Building self confidence is something we all want to do. But sometimes the negative voice inside  our heads over-powers the positive. Here are a few secrets to keeping ourselves on the confident side of life.

1.         Thinking creates feeling
If I want to feel positive and build my self confidence, I have to have positive thoughts. Even if I'm in a bad mood, I can change my feelings by listening to some of my favorite music, looking for the positive in my life, and giving gratitude for my surroundings.

2.         Everyone needs to write his or her their own mantras.
We can use generic thoughts and quotes from wise sources to help us feel better, but we are the only ones who know exactly what our inadequate feelings are.

Margie came into therapy with lots of negative thinking. She wanted a life-time partner, but had been unable to connect with anyone. Margie's father had been killed in the jungles of Vietnam when she was a child, and she felt abandoned.

Here are a couple of mantras she wrote to help herself heal.
* My father will be part of me forever.
*I can still have a loving relationship with my father in my thoughts.
As she healed, Margie began to see herself with a spouse. Her mantras included phrases like:
*I deserve to be cared for.
*I am loveable.
*I am worthy of a relationship.
I could tell Margie had her words just right because tears came to her eyes as she said each phrase. The words spoke to the depths of her soul. With guidance, Margie's own inner wisdom held the healing power. I am always humbled as I work with someone like Margie. It reaffirms what I already know. Healing—true healing—comes from within.

"If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask the man who goes back and forth on it." Zebrine

3.         Changing your thinking is a process, not an event.
At first we all get enthused about a project, take the time to put it together, and then set it aside to go on to something else. If we are really serious about changing our thinking and our feelings, we have to work at it. It takes constant effort to bring about change.
We care for our physical bodies on a regular ongoing basis, what we put into them, how we exercise them, and the way we surround them with comforts and luxuries. But we sometimes neglect the inside. We must nurture ourselves internally on a consistent, long-term basis as well.
Write your mantras and say them to yourself daily as part of your wellness regime.

4.         Include others in your process.
Allow your friends and family to support you as you write your mantras. Tell them you are only interested in positive energy. They'll encourage you, and you can reciprocate.

As you find good in yourself and others, you add light to the world—the greatest gift you can offer life.