Courage Heals

Courage was a big thing for Mother Teresa. She said, “To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.”

It’s essential to the meaningful attainments she made in her life –serving as a missionary against “injustice among the poor” in India.

Wounded souls. That’s how we may describe the inner state of individuals after suffering injustices in their personal lives and relationships.

Standing up to these personal injustices and wounds requires courage. Overcoming fear in order to heal. In order to be able to do what gives life.

For years, Maria, a 16-year-old high school girl, received abusive, name-calling text messages. She was pushed around at school. She avoided places in her school in fear for her safety.

Finally, she broke down. She could no longer bring herself to continue attending classes. Her grades dropped. She suffered from panic anxiety attacks, lack of sleep, and stress headaches.

Her mother brought her to me. She lamented, “My daughter has become emotionally crippled. It takes all my energy to get her out of the car and ‘go over there.’ ”

To get well, Maria needs a healthy dose of courage. Against injustices and its perpetrators.

It’s not for her own good that she allows her self to be humiliated and shamed in school. To do so only harms her psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

“Be men of courage; be strong,” the Bible says (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Courage matters.

It helps us correct injustices and wrongs. It gives us power over risk and its associated fears. It leads us to be better persons, spouses, parents, children, friends and citizens.

Your Extended “Gifts”

While the Christmas and New Year 2017 holidays are not over yet, it’s not too late to give extended “gifts.” To our selves. To others.

Possibly this may be your “gift” per day from here onwards.

Here are some suggestions for your extended “gifts:”

• Forgive one who hurt you, including an enemy.

• Smile a little. Then a little more. Till you laugh.

• Reduce your anxiety or demands on others.

• Converse warmly together without gadgets, phone, or TV.

• Do wash the clothes for Mommy or Daddy.

• Fix coffee or breakfast for someone you care about.

• Visit your grandparents with your cheers and gifts.

• Listen.

• Find the time to fulfill a promise.

• Express appreciation.

• Ask for forgiveness when you did wrong.

• Take a walk with your child.

• Learn the art of under-reacting.

• Enter into another’s grief.

• Speak kindly to someone you don’t know.

• Be gentle and patient with an angry or depressed person.

• Support to reconcile a broken relationship.

• Give hugs to people.

How about that?

Extended “gifts” to you and others! Sincerely. Lovingly. Without expecting anything in return.

That is mental health and wholeness, isn’t it?

Take Charge of your Health

Medicine in the form of pharmaceutical drugs plays a significant role in countless lives, such as among the elderly or seriously ill.

But the truth is, it can be just as much a curse (causing disability or death) as a blessing (especially in severe cases and diagnostic purposes).

We live in a world of “pharmageddon!” And statistics say that prescription drugs are killing far more people today than illegal drugs.

In treating mental health patients, I’ve witnessed a number of them drugged by psychiatrists, which produced more ill health than health.

A case in point was a friend of mine who chose to agree to every drug her doctor gives her for her depression and anxiety. She never recovered from decades of brain medication.

She actually got worse than before she took the drugs, getting in and out of a psychiatric or psychological facility, and finding new diseases inside her body.

If you’re not careful, “problems” can do appear that were not problems at all after indiscriminate approval of every drug, test, diagnostics, or procedure by your doctor or in the hospital.

I’m reminded of this actress who died just recently. Her slippery slope began, where each drug and test given to her led to another.

Sooner, one of these chemical interventions inside her body may had proven fatal, possibly by way of drug interaction, infection, or surgical complication. How dehumanizing, this “over-medicalizing!”

I’ve been thinking, how come, hundreds or thousands of years ago, people lived for so long and died even without much medical attention at all. In some, even when their life span had been shorter, they lived meaningful and fruitful lives.

Certainly, they had something else to account for their health apart from reliance on medicine or medical professionals.

(Related article: “Why We Are Losing Americans To Prescription Medications?”
https://theduneseasthampton.com/blog/why-losing-americans-to-prescription-medications/)

Wellness … Inspite of Pain

Pain is a place for the mind and soul. It’s an inevitable part of life.

We’re often unable to fully understand the substance of our self. But our willingness to go deeper and experience the pains of life can make us find this true substance.

…. and wellness in spite of them.

Pain is not just physical. Mother Teresa was once quoted saying that the worst disease in the world is not leprosy or tuberculosis but the feeling of being unwanted, unloved, and abandoned by every one.

Life’s pain also includes the non-physical, the emotional, relational, and spiritual pain. It’s so because the self is of many components, one but of many parts.

In psychotherapy, there is mostly this type of pain. A lot of psychopathology and socially unacceptable behavior is really a heart cry to be loved and accepted.

Few people ever come out directly declaring this aspect of pain in their lives. But the behaviors and feelings manifested say it loud and clear.

How then do you find wellness … in spite of your pain?

Christopher is a millionaire doctor and sought-after life coach. He is only after he survived financial bankruptcy, his wife’s infidelity, and family estrangement.

He shared his hints that we can all learn from: “I just accept and bear it and every moment choose to be present in the Presence.”

Anxiety is known to stimulate pain. Christopher learned to conquer that through solitude, Scripture, and prayers.

He learned to experience wellness amidst his varied pains, even at times eliminate the pain, by changing his attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.

An anonymous writer once wrote about a secret formula: “Suffering is not a question that demands an answer; it’s not a problem that demands a solution; it’s a mystery which demands a Presence.”

Yes, you can experience wellness … in spite of your pain or suffering.

Apply the secret.

Distance is Dead!

Once, I had an emotionally-charged session with a foreign couple. Suddenly, the woman partner told me she’s moving back to her home country. She said she could not bear the infidelity of her man.

We were both disappointed. Sessions had been going well, but incomplete. No significant momentum yet.

Then, a few days after, she phoned me. She thought of a practical alternative – session via Skype. This provided her hope and continuity, which she needed a lot during that time. It’s like face to face too such as in traditional sessions.

The medium of video and voice conferencing through Skype then became instrumental for her eventual healing and stabilization – personally and relationally.

We do live in a different time now.

With the fast rise of Internet and technology, psychotherapy and other mental health services have been moving in with the times.

For the final sessions with this hurting couple, we did meet in person again, which felt like a more appropriate way to end the sessions.

Both the couple and myself felt “upbeat” and at ease. Such seemed to be a reflection of our Skype sessions at processing issues and maintaining therapist-patient relationship.

We commented that our face to face sessions did not feel that much different from our previous Skype sessions.

Overall, I think that being able to continue our sessions via Skype was incredibly useful for both the patient and me.

Distance was no longer an obstacle to heal. In both my and the couple patient’s opinion the therapy had been successful. Skype played a role in this.

The use Skype and other modern forms of distance communication technologies could improve access to psychotherapies for people living in remote areas or foreign countries.

It’s helpful to those who are busy traveling or working, those housebound, disabled, or bedridden.

In my observation and opinion, the role of online therapy delivery is going to expand and is likely to continue to do so due to people’s needs and our changing times.

Why Does A Child Disrespect His or Her Parent?

A mother once spoke to me about her disrespectful children. During their childhood onwards, she handled the children by pushing them into a friendship with her.

Instead of being a parent to them, she’d converse with them as if she’s just a friend or companion and not an authoritative figure.

The side effect of her parenting style is conditioning the children to take disrespectful liberties with her.

It’s psychological abuse when a parent handles children inappropriately. In this instance, the mother denied the children the parenting they needed because she allowed her role to be compromised by her need for companionship and friendship.

It’s a thin line of parenting behavior. Crossing it leaves a child with an undefined and empty view of himself.

Perhaps, the children would be accommodating to your unmet need as a parent. But only for a short while. In their hearts and minds, it stretches them.

The role reversal does strain what their parent-child relationship was meant to be.

A parent forcing water from their children that should come from someone else or other adult sources is a relevant parenting lesson.

Wisdom is called for parents with growing children. Make sure we don’t make their tender, immature frame handle undue weight prematurely.

Eventually, time will arrive when our children could handle adult weight or issues.

But prematurely, the weight becomes a source of potential psychopathology. Even a curse.

Moments of Being or Non-Being?

Noted therapist/author, Virginia Woolf, speaks of how much of our life is lived in the haze of “non-being.” She describes what she means:

“A great part of every day is not lived consciously. One walks, eats, sees things, deals with what has to be done; the broken vacuum cleaner; ordering dinner; writing orders to Mabel; washing; cooking dinner; bookbinding. When it is a bad day, the proportion of non-being is much larger.”

In my work as a psychotherapist, it’s inescapable for me that I catch glimpses of people going about their lives. And I always notice that it’s easy enough for most of us to live without really looking. We can get things done or interact with others and not bothering to pay attention.

I once knew a 50 year old man stricken with colon cancer who was always out, day after day, walking in the mall despite his frailty. He liked to get out. According to him, it made him feel alive. Even just looking at people going by or conversing with them in the coffee shop gave him “moments of being.” He rejoiced with them, sharing each other’s stories.

Illness, accident, or death can teach us that all can be taken away in one swift moment. So, for the first time in our lives, we may find learning to reject “moments of non-being” that characterize much of our days. We search for what really matters given the shortness of time to enjoy “moments of being.”

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned, he wrote:

“You have the right to arrange your own life under the blue sky and the hot sun, to get a drink of water, to stretch, to travel wherever you like … Do not pursue what is illusory — property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night …”