If I were to sneak inside your head, just for a moment, what would I hear?
At your darkest moment, when you’re all alone with your thoughts and your thoughts are the things of chaos, when you can’t sleep, and you are at your lowest, what words would slip into being?
Is your head full of hate to yourself? Do you chastise and berate your actions of the day? Do you hear anger? Chastisement? Disgust?
If I could magically give you one thing this year, I would give you the gift of self-kindness.
I’ll bet you’re pretty nice to others. I’m fairly certain you would never be as harsh to them as you are to yourself.
When someone makes a mistake or says something that’s wrong, you may smile to yourself, but you don’t jump out of your seat and call them a moron (or worse). You certainly don’t stay up at night thinking about them.
But somehow, you do this to yourself.
Learning to love and accept yourself isn’t something that comes easily for some of us.
When kids are bullied, when teens face pressures they can’t take, when children are taught that their worth is based on what they do or don’t do, say or don’t say, they end up taking on the voices of the people who are cruel to them.
The mean words that are said to them, they say to themselves.
Maybe this is you.
When I work with people who struggle with self-hatred, there are three steps that we work through, often more than once.
STEP ONE: Identify the source of the self-hating thoughts
Can you recognize where each of the self-hating voices comes from? Is it from the hypercritical parent? Or are the words from the bullies from school that made you so sad and scared as a second grader? Maybe it’s the voice of an ex that made you hate your body.
Sometimes the people who are supposed to build us up and help us grow, stomp us down and harm our soul.
It isn’t right; it isn’t fair. But remember that although it may feel true, it isn’t, even if the words come from …
I’m not one for celebrity gossip.
For the most part, I’m content to let the stars of Hollywood live out their drama in their own world of fame. There are very few actors whose lives I pay attention to, or whose deaths I truly mourn.
Robin Williams is one of the them.
And tonight I am saddened. I am grieved by the death of a man who made his living through his expression of joy and laughter, who lived with a kindness and dignity that is greatly admired.
I mourn a man who struggled with the massive burden of depression so deep that he simply could not find a way out, and took his own life.
He seemed so happy! She had so much to live for. How could he…how could she…why?
To the healthy, suicide makes no sense. To those on the outside of the intense pain and emptiness, the idea of ending one’s own life is horrific. This is as it should be.
But to those who have experienced that darkness and the feeling of unending despair, suicide can appear like the only way out of the pain.
Depression is a terrible illness that shows up in many ways. Some struggle with it their entire life, and for others depression manifests itself after a massive life change or trauma. Depression can be brought on by pregnancy or medical conditions.
Contrary to what many believe, your life can appear perfect and you can still be depressed.
You can be wealthy and still struggle with what Winston Churchill famously termed his “black dog”. You can have fame and fortune and love and admiration, and take your life. Mr. Williams did. While the world loved and saw a man full of talent and life, an actor whose work brought joy and tears and inspiration and understanding, he had a pain that was unbearable and unexplainable.
I believe that the line separating genius and madness is thin. Those with great talent can suffer unspeakable sadness, as Mr. Williams did.
We who sit and wonder at the reason behind his death will never be satisfied, because we will never fully understand. …
But however or whenever these blue days come, it can make the entire day seem like one big long struggle to get through.
You may find yourself watching the clock, just hoping to get done with work or school, or waiting for your kids to go to bed, or waiting for your partner to come home. Time seems to drag on and on. Your energy may be lagging. It’s not depression as much as just feeling out of sorts.
There are countless ways to break out of that blue space. We’ve chosen 10 of our favorites.
The next time you have difficulty getting out of bed or you feel blah and low, try a couple of them out. We’d love to hear what you think.
More often than not I would have one poem or another running through my head as I played in the woods or the creek or climbed trees. Children’s poems have a wonderful sense of rhythm and rhyme that made them easy to learn and entertaining to recite.
As I grew older my memory engulfed songs and lyrics. I always had words floating around in my head. The lyrics were a constant commentary to what was happening. If you were to ask me what music was playing in my mind, you would learn how I was feeling, what I was thinking about.
In Jr. High we had to memorize Shakespeare. Soon, quotes from Romeo and Juliet were jumping off my lips with a wonderful frequency. I challenged myself to learn Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.
As an adult, nearly all those poems, songs, and quotes are still there. When my best friend died while she was in college, my mind went to the words of sorrow and grief, and provided me a focus for my mourning. As I put my young daughter to sleep, I sing songs I learned as a child from my mother.
I can look up a quote in seconds on my phone. Endless literature is at my fingertips 24 hours a day. It may seem as if memorization has no place in our day and age.
But I’ve found that when I’m in the midst of grief or sorrow, or trying to calm a tired child, or even trying to get my mind out of a sad or angry place, that my mind turns to the words I know by heart. Like a psalm or mantra, they center me.
The phrases that I’ve deliberately filed away in my head are always there. I use them to focus, to be distracted, to find peace and to laugh.
My mind struggles with some types of memory; I have …
Everyone has one.
Most people want to shut up, destroy, annihilate, or otherwise quiet that voice in their head that says things like, that was a stupid thing to say, or you look so fat today, you’re dumb, you’ll never get anywhere in life. I’m sure you can add your own.
Your inner critic is the voice that monitors your every act, word, and thought.
When it’s out of control, your inner critic can rule your life and ruin your self esteem. It can fill your mind with fears and worse case scenarios.
But what would happen if instead of trying to shut your inner critic up, you would listen to it? I don’t mean listen as in taking its words as true. I mean listen as hear what it’s saying, think about it, and then make your own decision whether or not to believe it.
What would it be like if you viewed your inner critic not in the sense of negative critical messages that should be dismissed, but as a cautious voice that can be helpful if its understood?
How it works is this; your inner critic makes a remark like, “You’re going to mess up this presentation.” So instead of just dwelling on the negative thinking and giving it power, you spend a couple of minutes critically thinking about it. How would I mess up the performance? Is that something that could realistically happen? If so, what can I do to fix it?
You can view your inner critic as a negative force weighing down on you, or it can be a tool that you use to discern your strengths and weaknesses.
There are two crucial points here.
The first is that your inner critic is neither good nor bad. It points out your insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s kind of like a coach. Sometimes it can have valid points, and sometimes it makes mountains out of mole hills.
The second is that the more thought and attention you give to a particular idea or internal message, the more power you imbue it with. Dwelling or ruminating on fears is draining …
Teens are bullied over the same thing generation after generation: physical differences such as weight, acne and facial features, speech differences, mental abilities/disabilities.
Teens get bullied verbally, physically (tripping down the hall, book bumping), and through writing.
One significant difference that teens face now is the vast amount of technology available, which has changed the dynamic of bullying behavior.
Teens are attacked through social media such as Facebook, text messages are sent, photos are sent and become viral in seconds. Sexting is not uncommon.
When you were a teenager, pictures were physical. Notes were on paper. And while rumors could get around quickly, they were not recorded forever on the world wide web.
As a parent of a teen, you can make a difference when your child is being bullied.
Here are 5 things that all parents of teens need to know.
Humans are all about community. By connecting with others, we find support, meaning, reassurance, and joy. Even the healthiest among us feels lonely and isolated at times. For those who struggle with physical or mental disabilities, the isolation can feel even greater.
How to people do it?
When I first became a bird owner, I noticed that my cockatiel Sunshine would only eat when someone was near her.
Most birds are flock animals; they rely on the members of their community for companionship, safety, and parenting.
In the wild, Sunshine would only eat with her flock members there to watch out for her.
Like many other animals, humans have an inborn need for community that is crucial to not only our survival but also to our mental health and happiness.
Not everyone needs 40 friends, but everyone needs someone they can rely on to help them through the harshness of life.
WHAT KEEPS US FROM BEING CONNECTED TO OTHERS?
There is a lot of relationship advice out there; friends, family, and coworkers are willing and eager to share their thoughts.
Over the years, I’ve heard and read some awful pieces of advice.
Here are the worst of them.
10. If you love her enough, you can get her to change.
9. No one will ever love you as much as he does.
I pulled into a gas station and asked if they would take a check. Nope.
How about a credit card number phoned in from my husband? Nope.
My random gift cards were worthless here. I was worried.
I was desperate. I went back to my car where my young daughter sat and asked her if I could borrow the money in her coin purse. She had $2.38.
Digging through the crevices and corners of my car yielded another $1.03. I went inside and placed the pile of change in front of the cashier. The total amount was $19.41, a little less than 5 gallons of gas.
In my mind I was going through everything that had gone wrong. Why did I forget my credit card? Do hotels take checks from out of state? Do restaurants? What would I feed my daughter? Where would we sleep? How could I be so stupid???
I was going full force into negative thinking. I finally realized that my thoughts weren’t doing me any good at all. In fact, they were harmful. With my mind full of what if’s, there was no room or energy for realistic problem solving.
Once I slowed down I realized that my daughter wouldn’t starve, I could find a way to get some cash back from a store, and that I was resourceful enough to deal with this situation.
I did some mental arithmetic and discovered that I could keep my miles per gallon quite high if I used cruise control and didn’t rush. At 42 miles per gallon or more, I could possibly make it. And if I didn’t, I would be close enough to have someone come and get us.
Negative thoughts often sneak up when people are stressed, anxious, or depressed. And once they take root, they can impede more helpful, critical, and logical thinking.
Here are 5 simple and easy ways to manage negative thoughts when they appear.