The Focus On You

Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

Tag: grief (page 1 of 3)

My Letter To Anyone Feeling Lost Or Stuck

This week’s inspiration comes from the major motion picture, “The Shack.” It’s an inspirational movie based off a best-selling book, which centers on the themes of faith, forgiveness and grief.

This post will share two major messages I took from the movie that can be applied to anyone who’s feeling stuck or lost.

You’re Not Stuck Because You Can’t. You’re Stuck Because You Won’t.

In this era of the “can’t even” complainers, it’s easy to use this as an excuse to avoid something. When people say they feel stuck, are their feet actually cemented in the ground? Think about the difference between “can’t” and “won’t.” Do you know someone who defeated the odds due to disabilities or restrictions in their life? Before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I enjoyed running. I thought I wouldn’t be able to run a marathon because of my physical weakness. I watched people competing in a local Ironman event and I saw athletes with physical disabilities competing. They may have had prosthetic limbs but they still competed. Technically, I COULD run again. I pushed my limitations into the “I won’t” category and wrote it off. What do you tell your kids when they throw down their homework in frustration? Are you challenging their “I can’t”, with “oh no honey, you MUST!” How does that message apply to you?

What are you avoiding that is causing you to be stuck?

How can you move your “CAN'T” to the “MUST” stage? Click To Tweet

If Anything Matters, Then Everything Matters. Everything You Do Is Important.

In the context of this movie, these messages applied to forgiveness (no spoilers, I promise). One way to reach forgiveness is to continue to do kind deeds. In the midst of hurt and pain, there still has to be something that matters. Click To Tweet One of the characters explained how our simple acts and treasured values still have a place in this world, even when tragedy strikes us or when the world gets ugly.

This message is tough in the midst of the fogs of grief. Our values can get lost during tragedy, illness, major life changes or losses. Instead of telling ourselves or our loved ones, “Well you still have to work despite all this. You still have to be a mom/dad/parent, etc”, let’s share with them how much they still matter. Let’s give them the space to try to figure out their feelings. Figuring out feelings on top of a busy schedule can be overwhelming.

I see this play out with survivors of abuse. They have to move to a safer home, continue to pay bills, feed the kids, take them to school & daycare, make dinner and figure out how to stay safe from their abuser. Their daily routines take on a new level of importance and survival. Routines can overshadow their values, causing them to feel stuck or lost. As a therapist, I thank them for coming to their appointments and being fueled by courage. That hour in my office may be the only time they are recognized for their importance and value in this world.

I have been brought to my knees due to grief 4 times in my life. I could actually add one more if you include my fibromyalgia diagnosis. I’ll never recover from fibro. My body will never be the same. I felt like I mourned the loss of my healthy self.  But whether I mope on the sideline of a triathlon or not, everything I do is important. My values are still the same whether I am exhausted or not.

My values are stronger than my diagnosis.

My values are stronger than my physical pains.

Restricting myself to labels and excuses of “I can’t even” leaves me with what? Is it a cop out from life?

I don’t think two people could watch this movie and leave with the same emotion. Our childhood experiences, history of resentments and current messes are unique. Yet this movie begs the question, “What’s next?”

In the grand scheme of your life, what’s next? Where are your feet? Are they moving or are they cemented? Regardless of where you are standing, everything you do is important.





Turning Abandonment Into Action In This New Era

It’s hard to hold a normal conversation anymore.

I feel uncomfortable with pleasantries and can’t even say, “So how was your weekend?”

I remember the last time I felt this way was after the death of a family member. After losing my grandma in 2007 it was hard to go back to routines. I started a new job a few months after she passed so it affected my normal “drive.” I didn’t have the energy and spunk you may see in me now.

Maybe it’s the Catholic side of me that imagines loss as a heavy weight that can’t be lifted. In some traditional Catholic homes you can’t listen to music or wear any bright colors after a death in the family. Catholic guilt has no room for my Snapchat wake up calls.

With the frightening, frustrating and unfair practices we have seen with our new leader, it doesn’t feel like the smooth transfer of power that Obama promised.

Sudden changes, whether expected or not, can leave an unsettling and empty feeling inside of us. Now I can finally put a name to what I’ve been feeling: abandonment.

If you also feel abandoned by our cheerful, fun-loving President and Administration, it may feel like you have been living a dream. After a sudden heartbreak and abandonment, its normal to question reality. I have heard heartbroken clients explain how their previous happiness feels unreal now. The sudden shift from feeling secure vs. feeling out of control are real feelings Click To Tweet.

In my work with domestic violence survivors, I have discussed the effects of sudden abandonment in adults. Abandonment can cause hyper-vigilance, social anxieties, self-medicating, increased irritability and angry outbursts as well as re-attaching to unavailable or dangerous people.

All of our feelings are valid.

All of our feelings deserve to have a safe place and to be heard.

If you know how to be resilient with grief, channel this resource.

If this abandonment can lead to healthy action, how can you use this for the “greater good?”

With my writing and personal plans side-tracked by recent news, I am rolling with the waves of abandonment and taking life one day at a time. Self-care, self-care, self-care. I can accept each feeling as it is and keep my distance or lean closer depending on what my soul needs.

Because in the grand scheme of things, I will never abandon myself or my values.

I will never abandon my voice.

My ancestors would never accept my silence if they never abandoned theirs.

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