Beautiful words from an intelligent, inspiring Doctor…
An Honorable Mention goes to Cathy over at Healing Through Connection. Her essay “Don’t Give Up!” made me think about caregivers in any capacity and how important it is to reconnect with joy on a regular basis in order to continue caring for others.
She was sent a Green Study Coffee Mug, a unnecessary Minnesota postcard and I donated $25 to the American Red Cross on her behalf.
Don’t Give Up!
By Catherine Cheng, MD at Healing Through Connection
We could not have planned a more uplifting conclusion to our workshop if we tried.
Eileen and Liz, my rock star colleagues from New Mexico and I, presented a seminar on institutional strategies for physician well-being at the International Conference on Physician Health last month. The two of them have done this for a while. They generously invited me to participate this time, as we had collaborated on a Grand…
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You were my healer, my teacher, my best friend, my soul mate. I couldn’t fathom my life without you, let alone survive it without you. You were my world, my everything, nothing was ever too scary with you in my life. Then, in what seemed like a moment of torrential misery I watched you turn into my nightmare. How could this be happening?? Everything was great. Who are you?? Where’s my friend?? Gone. My friend was gone, lost in fear, denial and anger, never to return as the man I knew.
Alone. Alone with my internal storm of emotions, bubbling with toxic sea creatures encouraging me to give up, let the pain sink in. Let it become me. Drowning in pain. So much pain. Give in. “No one is here to save you anymore”, they whisper while their tentacles try to take me over. “It was only a matter of time, he finally knew there was someone better out there than you” the creatures snarled confidently. My limbs are limp, my resolve to keep treading water is diminishing and letting go is starting to sound peaceful. “He was your everything, now that he is gone, you have nothing. You ARE nothing.” They seem almost gleeful in their insults, but I know they’re right. I’m powerless against all of this, there’s too many of them and they seem to keep stinging my abdomen, weakening my core every way they can. I give up and I start to sink with all their weight hanging on me.
My feet hit the sandy bottom. “That wasn’t far” I think to myself. Then I notice the creatures are swimming away. Was this a game to them?? It almost seems like they were feeding off of my pain. I’m running out of breath, I have to get to the surface. I push off from the bottom and voraciously breathe in the crisp morning air.
I awake to find the sun is rising with a breathtaking orange and blue glow. The night is drifting away taking some dark emotion with it to make way for a brand new day. I feel relief. Another day down. My eyes are too swollen to see anyone today, but that’s what sunglasses are for. And ice packs. I can do this, I quietly think to myself. People don’t actually die from heartbreak. Maybe they do. I have to do something else. Something I wouldn’t have done when we were together. A personal growth institute, I need to go and start a new journey.
You were my healer, my teacher, my best friend, my soul mate. I couldn’t fathom my life without you, let alone survive it without you. You were my world, my everything, nothing was ever too scary with you in my life. Then, in one swift motion, our time was up and you were gone. I loved every moment, every memory, every argument and every laugh. For a while, I thought I might actually die. I didn’t know who I was without you. But I do now. Every now and then your calm advice helps me power through something, but mostly it’s me. My own voice. Iam my own guide now. My own hero. My own goddess. My own warrior. Thank you for teaching me how to live without you. Now I can experience the love I want and not the love I need. I have all I need as Iam, and I couldn’t have found that without you moving out of the way. 💜💖
I’ll be happy when…I can make more money, I can move out of here, I lose weight, I find someone to love me…
I bet you know that voice. I know I do. My friends know it. My coworkers know it. That little voice that creeps in to manage fear, anxiety or depression. It’s there to give you hope, and administer a dose of Dopamine into your brain. Kelly Mcgonigal is a Standford Psychologist, and author of several books, she points out how when we give ourselves hope, the bigger the dream, the bigger the dopamine hit.
But this voice is usually in response to “Iam not good enough, I’ll never be good enough, what was I thinking?!” Hope can combat stress and pain. The promise to change yourself has an immediate feel good factor, it also can feel devastating if you make grandiose plans and don’t follow through.
These are ways that have worked for myself and my clients in creating lasting joy:
1. Be present-acknowledge the truth and create a sense of calm.
- When you revel in the moment your activating a part of your brain that numbs fear. Stop for 30sec or 5min and acknowledge the truths around you–-Iam sitting down. I’m wearing a green shirt. I am in control of how I feel at this very moment. You know your truths when you feel calm by thinking about them. This is mindfulness and the act of being present in any moment.
2. Express gratitude
- Once you are able to articulate your truths and practice presence of mind you can begin the next step, gratitude. Understand that things are as they are in this present moment. You can wish and hope and dream they were different, but they simply are as they are. There are always parts of a day, situation or person that we can appreciate. Find those. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb found that when we express gratitude, our brains release Dopamine, giving a similar effect as the drug Wellbutrin.
3. Recognize your gifts and give them away
- When find something that you love so much you can do it happily for hours, days, weeks, or years (without being paid) you have found your gift.
- This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty or shame yourself for wanting to earn a living doing what you love. YOU SHOULD. But, when you can also provide yourself with opportunities to give it away, do that too. It will help you feel joyful and empowered while encouraging others to find their particular gifts as well.