Time Matters

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“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘don’t want to.”  Lao Tzu

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”  Heraclitus

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

Time matters more to me at seventy-three than it did at twenty-three. At twenty-three time seemed to stretch out forever. I couldn’t image forty-three much less seventy-three. Now I know that time has limits. It can’t be saved. You spend it. And, I know that how it’s spent pretty much determines my future. Love, respect, and prosperity tend to come to those who spend time wisely.

Time spent foolishly can result in isolation and poverty. Think wisely about time. Ask yourself, do you take time to –

  • Relax?
  • Eat nutritionally and regularly?
  • Sleep?
  • Exercise?
  • Connect with your partner?
  • Enjoy your children?
  • Stay connected with friends?
  • Continue to learn?
  • Consider the spiritual side of life?
  • Plan for the future?

All of the above activities help you to stay in balance. For example, meditation, contemplation, and prayer help you to relax and connect with yourself and the world you live in. Taking care of your body with nutritious food, sleep, and exercise gives you energy to invest in what’s important. Time with good people results in attention, affection, and love. Personal time gives space for play and doing nothing if you want to. Planning for the future gives your life direction and learning new things enriches your life.

It’s important for you and your partner to think through how to balance out time. Failure to plan can result in things like excessive spending and an excessive amount of time devoted to work. It can also result in time being devoted to things like fun computer activities that isolate you from family and friends. The result is that you feel disconnected with both yourself and others.

Think about how you’re spending your daily allowance of twenty-four hours? Talk it over with your partner. Be sure your time is wisely invested. Time does matter.

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Take Time To Check In With Yourself

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Self-examination is critical to maintaining your body, to enabling personal growth, and to the development of healthy relationships. You and I need to know how we’re doing. Here are some things you can do –

1. Sense whether you can relax and feel accepted, alive, and whole when you’re by yourself. If you can’t, kindly ask yourself, why?

2. Think about your attitude toward your body. Are you okay with it despite its pains, weaknesses, and shape. Be compassionate. Contempt can result in more tension, more pain, overeating, etc. Kindly work for a healthy body.

3. See if your body is relaxed or tense. You can give your body permission to relax by breathing more slowly and deeply and focusing on what is beautiful, good, and true.

4. Kindly examine your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acknowledge your mistakes, make amends, and accept forgiveness.

5. Consider the positive things that you’ve done and accept that this too is reality.

6. Focus your thoughts on the present and let yourself absorb the beauty, goodness, and truth in it. Avoid getting stuck in the past or fantasizing about the future. Say, “No,” to your mind and come back to the present.

7. Consider other people. Can you feel a positive connection with the people in your life? If you can’t, kindly consider why?

8. Consider your attitude toward the world. Do you notice the goodness and beauty that is there? Do you feel connected and grounded? If not, why?

9. Consider your attitude toward the universe. Do you have any sense of connection with it; that you are part of something much larger than yourself?

10. Do you sense that your life has purpose, that you are contributing to something larger than yourself? If not, you might think this. Purpose, love, service, and sacrifice can lead to much fulfillment and contentment.

Self-examination can be painful but it’s worthwhile. It gives you an opportunity to celebrate the good that you’ve done and the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, make amends, and change. You can learn to endure all the truth about yourself. Solitude, contemplation, and reflection help you deal with the world and fate as they are. You’ll be glad you took time for this.

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield,”

William Butler Yeats.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi

There’s A Way Out of Loneliness

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Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  Mother Teresa

“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.” G.K. Chesterton

Loneliness thrives when you’re disconnected with yourself and others. Today, as a culture, half of Americans live alone. Many have given up on the religious communities whose work it is to lovingly give us, wisdom, help us find a sense of purpose, and help connect us with others and God. These are places to celebrate our joys and to find compassion and comfort in our time of sorrow.

We need community and we seem to do better when we sense a connection with an ultimate sense of being that many call God. We have known this for millennia.

Loneliness can have it’s roots in the past. For example, some of you may have experienced –

Neglect. (Why would anyone want me?)
Chaos. (Who can I depend on?)
Bullying. (Why can’t I be defended?)
Rejection. (Why wouldn’t I get rejected again?)
Isolation. (How could I fit in?)
Disappointment. (Why would things work out now?)
Aloneness. (Why would someone look out for me now?)

These lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and hurt. Sometimes you can feel so hurt that you feel consumed by it. Beauty, truth, and love may feel far away. You’re not good enough; others, including God, aren’t good enough. Therefore, why would you try to find a friend? To avoid rejection, you might tell yourself that happy people live in fantasy; that they have nothing to teach you; that there’s no hope for you. But, inside, you know you need and want a friend.

There is hope –

There are people who choose to be compassionate and loving. You can be one of them.

Good, wise, people can help you be a friend and find a friend. You can choose to focus on what is good, beautiful, and true.

You can move from judgment to compassion.

Consider compassion toward yourself and others. Everyone has his/her own pain to deal with. Some had deal with the results of war and natural disasters. Some may be been deceived and think that alcoholism, drug abuse, intimidation, compulsive devotion to work, etc., are good for them. We’re all in the process of learning to live as we go along.

Connecting with yourself and others, of course, is the only way to reduce loneliness. To do that you have to be compassionate, loving, and graciously firm about what is and is not acceptable to you.

1.Learn to know yourself and be compassionate and firm with yourself.

2. Get comfort by expressing your pain to a compassionate person.

3. Give up demanding that life be your way; it doesn’t work.

4. Accept that it’s a struggle to be a person with kindness and integrity. Work at it.

5. Find compassion for others. They have their own challenges.

6. Live in the now. The past is gone; the future’s unknown.

7. Accept that nothing in life stays the same. Appreciate what you have.

8. Learn to be a good judge of people.

9. Join groups with kind people of integrity.

10. Move from self-focus to asking what the world needs from you and contribute.

Dealing with loneliness may seem like a daunting task. It can take courage and strength. You don’t need to work on it alone. Be willing to allow others to help you. This is a worthwhile task. You owe it to yourself to truly live.

I Tell You I’m Not An Alcoholic!

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No animal ever invented anything so bad as drunkenness —

or so good as drink. ~Lord Chesterton

Dan, (fictional person), came for therapy because he had to. His wife, Jean, (fictional person), moved out while he was at work. He wanted her back. She said, “No.” She refused to come home to more drinking; he had to get help.

Now, did Dan know Jean was unhappy? Well, he should have. Jean told him to stop drinking; she threatened to leave; she threatened to call his dad. She had already talked to her mom. Did he know that she was unhappy enough to leave? Well, apparently not.

Dan reported that he had been drinking since he was 14. His parents had alcohol around the house; he just helped himself. He found that he liked drinking with friends and he liked drinking with Jean. He relaxed after a few beers.

As the years went by, he knew that he was drinking more and that it was bothering Jean. She complained that his personality was changing and that he was often irritable and verbally abusive. He frightened her. Dan agreed that he was more irritable. He said things he shouldn’t have said. Jean did tell him to stop drinking and he did agreed to but it was hard to stop. Besides, he wasn’t an alcoholic and beer helped him to relax. He didn’t think that he was too unreasonable but obviously Jean did.

Dan’s an intelligent guy: well-educated, good job. So, why didn’t he listen to Jean? Well, from my experience, Dan may have been –

  1. In denial about how much his wife was suffering.
  2. Unable to stop drinking by himself.
  3. Too proud to get help.
  4. Afraid of rejection by other drinkers.
  5. Irritated by Jean’s telling him to stop drinking.
  6. Afraid to tackle life without alcohol.
  7. Afraid of facing his feelings.
  8. Medicating himself alcohol.
  9. Rebellious – I’m going to do what I want to do!
  10. Pushing Jean away.

Be wise. Take your partner seriously if he/she is telling you that you’re drinking too much. Talk with an expert in the field. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has helped thousands of people by providing –

  1. Education on alcohol and other addictive substances.
  2. Support, without judgment, from people who understand addiction.
  3. Confidentiality. Only first names are used.
  4. Free services.

AA’s twelve steps can benefit everyone. An AA sponsor can take you through them.

Our office provides an intensive out-patient substance abuse treatment program that provides information, group therapy, and drug screening. Simply call (757) 595-3900 for information. Take care of the alcohol and then consider marital therapy.

Is alcohol is your friend or your enemy? Be wise. Partners and vocations aren’t easily replaced.

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You Need To Be Appreciated!

42109184_s Remember: people move toward pleasure; away from pain.

Sometimes I go about my life and forget that I really need appreciation my wife. I need appreciation to keep her as a friend, partner, and lover. I need to remember and offer what she needs from me. By doing this, I can create good memories within her.

You can create great memories for your partner by knowing and doing what your partner needs. Know what gives your partner the feeling of being loved and tended to. If you do this, your partner can receive what he/she really needs from you; you’ll receive the satisfaction that comes from doing something truly worthwhile. Contribute freely with no thought of return; otherwise it really doesn’t count as an act of love.

Knowing what your partner needs and wants and doing those things is what will draw your partner to you. Your partner will want to spend more time with you as a result of good memories from the past. Kind, loving acts are the glue. By themselves, appearance and sex aren’t sufficient to keep someone close to you.

Here are some more things to remember  –

1. Combine truth with kindness. “A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

2. Make your word be your bond. Allow your partner to count on you.

3. Let your words be kind, clear, direct, and brief especially when voicing displeasure. It will help your partner understand what you’re trying to communicate.

4. Tolerate the opinions of your partner. You could be wrong.

5. Graciously concede when you’re wrong. DO NOT attempt to explain yourself.

6. Give up resentment and revenge. They only lead to depression, anxiety, and physical illness.

7. Make amends to your partner when you harm him/her. Be clear that you are remorseful about the harm you’ve caused.

8. Be compassionate. Feel the pain of your partner and respond. Contribute to his/her welfare. Give more than you take.

9. DO NOT be a dream killer. Allow your partner to express his/her dreams without critiquing them.

10. Evaluate your current relationship. Lower your expectations when they’re too high.

Appreciation is crucial. Be aware of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Contribute to your partner so that you’ve done something truly worthwhile for another person.

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What Do You Appreciate?

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“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” Seneca

Not long ago, while I was watching a video on the universe, I realized how incredible it was to be on this small planet we call earth; how incredible to be floating through space and to realize that I was floating through the immensity of a galaxy. What an opportunity it is to just experience life and to be aware of. To appreciate what I have daily. Appreciation makes me feel alive.

Do you know that it’s really impossible to be happy without being grateful for what you already have? It’s impossible to be grateful and appreciative of your partner without recognizing the contribution your partner is making. There is no true appreciation without this. And, without appreciation the relationship will scour as you’ll focus on your partners shortcomings. Appreciation can make you feel alive, happy, and content.

The road to satisfaction is paved with appreciation of what your partner contributes, an acknowledgement of the shortcomings in yourself that you need to work on, and doing those things that your partner appreciates.
Appreciation needs to be programmed in. It’s worth it – everyone feels better. I personally feel much more alive, happy and content when I am aware of the good in this world and in others. How about you?

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living, If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.” Tecumseh

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Trauma

Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our response to a terrible event like a bad accident, natural disaster, war, or sexual violation is often seen as an individual matter. But, of course, the people who suffer are sons and daughters, parents, and marital partners. As you think about yourself and your partner, you may, or may not, be aware that one or both of you suffer from trauma. Here are a few of the symptoms that can be associated with it –

Reliving the terrible event and feeling the physical and emotional distress associated with it.

Avoidance of anything associated with the terrible event.

Emotional numbness.

Withdrawal and lack of interest in pleasurable activities.

Anxiety.

Depression.

Anger.

Guilt.

Substance abuse.

Trouble concentrating.

Sleep problems.

Trauma can be treated. It would be advisable to see a therapist if you think that you or a loved one is suffering from a traumatic event. The Veteran’s Administration has programs focused on treating veterans and psychiatric offices like ours can be helpful. A hospital should be used if suicide or homicide is a possibility.

The Mayo Clinic has additional information at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20022540

Here are some trauma researchers and their websites. I found them helpful:

Bessel van der Kolk

Trauma Center At Justice Resource Institute

Focus: Post-traumatic stress.

Website: http://www.traumacenter.org/about/about_bessel.php

His latest book is: The Body Keeps the Score. Some of my patients have found it helpful.

Lisa Ferentz

The Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education

Focus: Letting go of self-destructive behaviors

Website: http://www.lisaferentz.com
Richard Schwartz

The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Focus: “Internal Family Systems” – dealing with parts of oneself.

Website: http://www.selfleadership.org/about-richard-schwartz.html
Peter Levine

Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute
Focus: Healing stress and trauma.

Website: http://www.traumahealing.org/peter-a-levine-phd.php
Mary Jo Barrett

Director: The Center for Contextual Change
Faculty: University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration
The Chicago Center for Family Health
Family Institute of Northwestern University
Focus: Transform the lives of those impacted by abuse and trauma

Website: http://www.centerforcontextualchange.org/bios-mjbarrett.html
Janina Fisher

Focus: Understanding and treating trauma.

Website: http://www.janinafisher.com

I hope these resources will be helpful to you if you or a loved has experienced a terrible event. Always keep in mind that medication and therapy can be helpful in letting the mind know that the terrible event is completely over. The goal is to safely put the terrible event in the past so that one can fully live in the present.