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It’s Time for a Solution

For close to the past 2 years, I have been trying so hard to get people to listen…. to shift their thinking from the focus on “the problems” to that of the positive and the possibilities. For the past two years I have felt frustration and experienced having doors “slammed” in my face or people telling me I “can’t” make things change or how people wouldn’t participate if they “didn’t have a problem”.

BUT, I’ve persisted because I believe in the power of the idea of the Enjoy Life Community® model and the focus on life enjoyment for our communities and for our people.

Why?

Because I know that EVERY day someone in our community wakes up in despair or experiencing feelings of loneliness or hopelessness or helplessness. I know that EVERY day, in our Country, on average, there are 121 suicides. I know that EVERY day, people wake up with depression. I know that EVERY day, in our Country, 120 people die from overdoses with, I believe, the blame for using drugs being inappropriately directed to drug dealers or physician prescribers.

What we are doing is evidently not working. In 2009 23.5 million (of 306.8 million) persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem . Through discussions with our elected officials and research, it is shown that alcohol or drug rehabilitation may only be effective 10 – 30% of the time.

We have the power to shift and to create an environment to: Decrease social isolation, share the good works being performed in our communities, encourage participation in our community endeavors, and to shift our current focus and redirect our energies from problems to solutions and the goal to enjoy life.

This is the mission and vision of the Time to Play Foundation – The Foundation offers a positive reminder and reinforcement that every day should feel like “play” and provides resources in a PROACTIVE manner to decrease the development of, or utilization of, self-destructive behaviors; and, to, instead, shift the focus to enjoy life and to spark a progressive and proactive momentum in our communities to do so.

Got Crime in your community? Sure. Got drug issues in your community? Sure. BUT…. How about if we shift our efforts to concentrate on a SOLUTION vs. trying to control a negative situation or outcome. The war on drugs has been waging since Richard Nixon declared drugs as public enemy number one in the United States. Since it was coined as such, more than $1 Trillion has been spent in this “war”.

Guess what – it “ain’t” working, no matter how many billions have been spent. Here’s a thought… what if we shift to focus on getting people to love life – to feel wanted and part of their community? Demand drives supply. I believe that, if people loved their life, they would never use drugs or other self-destructive behaviors in the first place.

Ask yourself: Do you love your life? With the visible and proactive solution provided by the Enjoy Life Community® program of the Time to Play Foundation, you will.

It’s time to encourage participation and provide greater opportunities to our students and our people through partnerships and community collaboration. It’s time to strengthen our businesses. It’s time to change the discussion of feeling sad or lonely or depressed from embarrassing and taboo. It’s time to stop the silent suffering.

It’s time to bridge the communication barriers in our communities in order to showcase opportunities available. It’s time to work together to create solutions so our people can be happy, healthy, have money and a work life balance.

It’s time to Enjoy Life. It’s Time to Play.

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1- https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics
2 -published studies report that about 25% of all U.S. adults have a mental illness and that nearly 50% of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime costing $300 billion https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealthsurveillance/fact_sheet.html
3 – https://www.overdoseday.com/resources/facts-stats
4 – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publicatio…/…/treatment-statistics
5 – http://jeremyfrankphd.com/drug-and-alcohol-recovery-outcome…
6 – https://web.stanford.edu/…/poverty_preju…/paradox/htele.html
7 – http://www.mintpressnews.com/war-on-drugs/211217

The Time to Play Foundation, Inc. is a not for profit 501c3 corporation with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life. – See more at:www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org

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What do our people need?  A Sense of Community and Belonging

communityA few days ago I was privileged to attend a conference that focused on our veterans, the issues they faced after discharge from service, their expectations, their feelings of social isolation, and how, together, we could provide resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life.

I came to a conclusion after just the first speaker at the event:  The discussion presented described not only to the experience faced by our veterans, but could be applied to every member of our society, no matter what state or city they live.

As you read on, I am confident that you will agree that the Enjoy Life Community® program developed by the Time to Play Foundation provides a valid solution to address many of the issues being faced today, not only by our veterans, but by a majority of our youth and our people.

Perhaps it is time for the people within our communities to stop just “existing” and “surviving” and to start “living”.

The first speaker at the event was a Vietnam Veteran and a chaplain.  For the purposes of this article, we will call him Mr. O.

He presented how a soldier is trained and embraced into duty and described what becomes missing in their lives upon return to civilian life after discharge.

#1:  A sense of purpose:  Mr. O explained that, when a soldier is in active service, they have a “job”.  He explained how the soldier is important in that job, how the members of service “liked” them in that job, and how the armed forces wanted the soldier to succeed in that job.

#2:  A sense of community / belonging:  Mr. O discussed the soldier’s sense of community and belonging while on active duty and how the soldier knew who they were and where they stood with the others in their command (community).

#3:  A sense of Intimacy:  Mr. O described the sense of intimacy felt by the soldier in their command.  He explained how soldiers not only knew the members of their command (community), but how they stood by each other and supported each other.

Mr. O noted that, after the soldier left active service, they no longer felt this sense of community, of belonging, of purpose, or of importance; that, upon discharge from service, they no longer felt the sense of intimacy or sense of value.

Mr. O noted that there is no system to integrate the soldier back into their home community, and that, without their military unit’s support, they cannot “get home”.

Mr. O said that this is when the dilemma of “where do you belong when you no longer belong” sets in, which is when, he noted, that many soldiers turn to drugs or alcohol to find a sense of comfort.  He described his experience talking to incarcerated veterans who feel more comfortable in jail because they are around people who understand them.

Mr. O said that the feeling experienced by veterans becomes most disturbing when no one understands them, when no one understands who they are, and when they no longer have a voice.  He described how these become the feelings that breed the feelings of hopelessness.  He described how the soldier feels lost without the sense of values given to them and lost because what they believe is not what others believe.

It is, at that time, when the soldier feels very lonely and isolated.

After hearing Mr. O speak, it becomes evident how every person would benefit from being embraced by the community in which they live in the manner the armed forces embraces their soldiers.

Further, Mr. O noted that, years ago in our civilian communities, there were clubs and organizations and a sense of belonging in a community; that people socialized together.  Now, he noted, people are increasingly socially isolated and not embracing of others.

As I imply that there are similarities in the feelings experienced by people who are not veterans, I am in no way minimizing the experience of those who have served.  Thankfully, the general population has not seen the circumstances of war that many of our returning veterans have experienced, and I do acknowledge that our veterans may need support services and programs to face the resulting trauma.

But, think about it. . .

What community member is really integrated into our communities throughout their lives starting with our youth? What programs are available that help the general population feel “at home” or help them develop a sense of belonging or a sense of support?  A sense of not being alone even if facing a negative life situation?

How many articles or events do we need to read about where those who feel “different”, not supported, socially isolated or bullied adopt negative coping techniques including the utilization of drugs or alcohol or cause harm to themselves or others in their communities through violent acts?

I believe the need for self worth and the effects of social isolation are the same for every one of us.

I believe that, no matter where we live, WE ALL NEED a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of importance, a sense of intimacy and a sense of being of value.

We all need a sense of community.  We all need to belong.

The Enjoy Life Community® model presents a solution to all who live in any community.  It will not only help our veterans re-integrate and feel welcome and at home, but the intention of an Enjoy Life Community® is to:  Bring together all organizations and individuals in a community, encourage proactive community collaboration, utilize the community organizations to trickle information throughout a community, showcase the good work of community organizations to encourage participation by community members, identify areas where community participation is available to increase community involvement with the intention to decrease social isolation, and to utilize the strength and experience of community members in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model is a low cost social intervention that is a visible, non-threatening approach to create quality of life for those in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model provides a positive reminder and reinforcement to enjoy life by offering visible cues, establishing pride in a community, and encourages a focus on the positive and the possibilities.

It is a SOLUTION.

It is also important for me to mention here the fact many people do not proactively seek assistance when they are experiencing a negative life situation.  The Enjoy Life Community®, due to its visibility of resources in the community, also offers an opportunity for a more proactive approach to solve this issue.  Additionally, I believe the current system that provides individual counseling may perpetuate (continue) the individual’s experience and current belief system.  Even with outreach or counseling or support programs, the individual may remain isolated and continue to feel “unwelcomed” or segregated from their communities.  That would potentially change in an Enjoy Life Community®.

The Enjoy Life Community® utilizes the resources and people in a community to make it stronger to enhance the quality of life for all.

The Enjoy Life Community® model can be applied to any community, including a school community, college campus or corporate environment to create the feeling that people are important and belong.

If you are interested in learning more about this easy to implement solution, please contact us at 631-331-2675 or email: doreen@timetoplay.com.

Just imagine the possibilities if people in their communities felt supported, not alone, and lived in a place where they were able to share or develop their talents.

Just imagine…

After all, I believe every moment of every day should feel like “play”.  It is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

 

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:  Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

Photo credit:  http://thedinoffschool.com/about-us/community

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Talking to Yourself ( am I nuts or what)- by Denise Rodriguez

talktoself

I talk to myself. Oh sure we all do it from time to time but me, I do it all the time. In the house, outside, at work, in the supermarket (which usually gets me an odd look or giggle) just everywhere. My mother–in-law laughs at me and my daughter calls me a mutterer. Whenever someone speaks up about it I always tell them “hey, I’m the only one who listens”. Talking out loud to myself keeps me focused, it allows me to seek the advice of someone who knows me, knows how I react to things and knows what I am feeling about things deep down.  I find it extremely helpful. So after years of having to say “Oh, I was just talking to myself” I decided to do a bit of research. It seems that talking to yourself can actually make you smarter. So here are 4 types of self-talk taken from her article “Talking to Yourself: A Sign of Sanity” written by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D,  to get you and your best friend (yourself) on the same page.
1.     Complimentary. Why wait to get compliments from another? If you deserve them, (and who doesn’t) give them to yourself. Besides, most people aren’t going to have the foggiest notion about the little actions you take that serve you well. Like the time you were tempted but decided to bypass the ice cream shop because you honored your commitment to yourself to lose five pounds. Doesn’t that deserve a shout-out compliment such as, “I’m proud of you”? Or the time you finally accomplished a bunch of things that you’ve been meaning to do — doesn’t that deserve a shout-out “good job!”? Kids hear that phrase incessantly while most adults never hear it. Let’s fix that right now!  
 (I have to admit, I do a victory dance when I beat a hard level in Candy Crush Saga)
 
2.     Motivational. You may not feel like doing boring or difficult tasks. Live with others and they’ll give you a swift kick in the pants as a reminder to clean up your mess or tend to that tough task. But you can motivate yourself to get going with a much kinder voice. “Hey, sweetie-pie (that’s you you’re talking to). You’ve got time this morning to tidy up; how about it?” Or, “Hey, big guy, time to call your accountant before the IRS comes knockin’ at your door.”
  (This is where I usually excel at telling me what to do)
 
3.     Outer dialogue. Having trouble with making a decision? Should you stay or should you go? Speak up or stay silent? Buy this gift or that gift? Choices aren’t easy. Indeed, because they’re so difficult, we often don’t really make a choice; we respond impulsively from habit or anxiety. It’s much more effective, however, to create a dialogue with yourself so that you can hear what you think. “I want to stay because of xxxx but I want to go because of yyyy. I’m clearly ambivalent. Nevertheless, l need to figure out which decision to make. Time to have an interesting dialogue with myself and see which way the wind is blowing.” Having such a dialogue can assist you in making a commendable compromise or a workable conciliation between your wants, your needs and others’ expectations.
 
4.     Goal-setting. Let’s say you’re trying to be better organized so the holidays are not so frenzied. Setting a goal and making a plan (i.e. what to do, when to do it, how to do it) can be a big help. Sure, you can just make a list, but saying it out loud focuses your attention, reinforces the message, controls your runaway emotions and screens out distractions. Top athletes do this all the time by telling themselves to “keep your head down. Keep your eye on the ball. Breathe.” It works well for them, why not for you? (My list is of course a vocal one, “Get the laundry put away and then let’s get started on the kitchen oh and don’t forget to make the phone calls you’ve been putting off.”)
 
One thing about talking to yourself, never, never put yourself down. You are your own best friend, No one knows you better. And deep down your own opinion is the one you will respect the most. So if you go about calling yourself a dumbass you’re not helping your friend at all. Instead when you’ve found yourself in a head-slappping situation, tell yourself it’s okay, we will do better next time.  You and yourself will appreciate the support.
 
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Rational vs. Irrational

rational vs irrational

Today’s reflection stems from my thoughts regarding this past week’s emotional roller coaster.

With people getting attacked for their views, I believe it really emphasizes the idea behind the science of social and emotional intelligence education.

Personally, I have to admit that this past week was hard for me.  Even with all the training I have had in life coaching and emotional intelligence coaching, I unfortunately allowed the whole negative energy to get “in” and affect me in a negative manner.  I can’t remember being so exhausted.

That being said, each experience does broaden our own personal awareness in order for us to use the experience to make future changes to enhance our quality of life.

Based on my conversations with many people, very few seem to have awareness about social and emotional intelligence. I find it worthwhile for this article to focus on what it is and what it can do for individuals and corporate organizations going forward.

Social and Emotional Intelligence is a learned behavior which I believe is the root of individual behavior and our quality of life.

Social and Emotional Intelligence has been defined as:  The ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships.

I believe that having an individual strong Social and Emotional Intelligence is so important.

I also believe there is an appropriate level of behavior that people need to exhibit when reacting to any situation, whether personal or in a workplace.  I believe that reactions need to be one of rational expression where we need to consider the whole situation and that we need to consider the ramifications of our own personal behavior.  I believe our behavior and reactions positively or negatively impact our lives and our relationships.

For example, think about explosive behavior in a workplace.  If you have a boss that does not consider all sides to a situation, but just reacts in an explosive manner, how does that make you feel?

This can be applied to any circumstance or relationship including that between yourself and your spouse, your parent, your child, your coworker, a checkout clerk, or that of a person driving a car next to you.

Our reactions are truly important to consider, which brings me back to why I wrote this article which discusses the potential different perceptions of people regarding rational vs. irrational behavior.  I believe we need to become aware of, and have a need for, broad social and emotional intelligence coaching.

In today’s society, I personally do not think we have the filters we used to have for our behaviors.  I also believe we have, as a society, have come to accept less controlled reactions from others.  It has become commonplace for bullying, riots, road rage and mass shootings, and we seem to have become desensitized and have come to expect these occurrences.  Personally, as we are not a barbaric society, I believe that this is step in the wrong direction.

While I do believe self expression is important, I also believe it is necessary to consider the “whole” and that it is the responsibility for each of us to control our reactions to not impede the rights, health, or to negatively impact the lives of others.  Ever hear the idiom “it is a two-way street”?  It may be necessary to consider that compromise is a necessary consideration in our interactions with others.  The problem with this is that we have to recognize how our behaviors and reactions relate to compromise and finding solutions to situations in a manner that is best for all.

I believe a strong social and emotional intelligence is necessary to have a quality of life for not only an individual, but the whole.

The following is an excerpt from the book, Emotional Intelligence written by Daniel Goleman in 1995:   “The emotional lessons we learn as children at home and at school shape the emotional circuits, making us more adept – or inept – at the basics of emotional intelligence.  This means that childhood and adolescence are critical windows of opportunity for setting down the essential emotional habits that govern our lives”.  He noted that hazards await those who, in growing to maturity, fail to master the emotional realm.  He further noted that deficiencies in emotional intelligence heighten a spectrum of risks from depression or a life of violence to eating disorders and drug abuse, and how teaching children the emotional and social skills they need can keep their lives on track.  Mr. Goleman reported that a survey of parents and teachers showed a worldwide trend for the present generation of children to be more troubled emotionally than the last:  more lonely and depressed, more angry and unruly, more nervous and prone to worry, more impulsive and aggressive.

Again, acknowledging that social and emotional intelligence is learned behavior, I advocate for the need for us to learn these necessary skills. Emotional Intelligence is an important component of the Foundation’s PREinvent YOUR Life® program.

During my Social and Emotional Intelligence coaching education, I learned there were 26 competencies that affect our reactions and behaviors that include: Emotional self-awareness, accurate self-awareness, personal power, behavioral self-control, integrity, innovation and creativity, initiative and bias for action, achievement drive, realistic optimism, resilience, stress management, personal agility, intentionality, empathy, situational awareness, service orientation, communication, interpersonal effectiveness, powerful influencing skills, conflict management, inspirational leadership, catalyzing change, building bonds, teamwork and collaboration, coaching and mentoring others and building trust.

I believe that you can build on your emotional intelligence strengths and that, if you have vulnerability in any particular area, it will negatively impact your quality of life and the quality of life of those with whom you interact.

Please feel free to contact me at 631-331-2675 if you have questions regarding social and emotional intelligence.  I would be most willing to discuss your personal situation.

With the knowledge that we are only able to control ourselves, our behavior, our feelings and our actions, I believe it is necessary to start with ourselves to insure a better future.  I believe it is time for us to each be personally responsible for our ability to achieve quality of life.

Just imagine the possibilities.

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:

Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

The Foundation offers an unconventional approach in a non-threatening manner to provide solutions for the life situations that people may encounter.  Working in healthcare since 1987, and with her background in quality improvement, she has followed statistics showing our society’s current evolution to be more “sick and sad”.   She developed the Time to Play Philosophy:  you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work / life balance for quality of life and believes everyone has the ability to enjoy life.

Photo credit:  https://sophistics.wordpress.com

 

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“First” vs. “Best”

Best

Best

There has been a lot of talk about “Firsts” lately.  What does “First” really mean?

So, I got to thinking…

As far as achievement, I believe “First” is a milestone.  For example, “first” steps, “first” car, “first” words.

Merriam – Webster dictionary defined the adjective of “First” as: coming before all others in time, order, or importance (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/first)

“Firsts” can, also, perhaps, encourage others and provide examples to others on how they can move forward and achieve, too.  I believe motivating others and encouraging others is truly important.  I believe it’s our personal responsibility to strive and grow and to help others do the same.

“Firsts” are definitely important, but are they the MOST important?  “Firsts” can provide people a vision to build upon and then to achieve beyond what was “first”.

Throughout the development of the concepts behind the Time to Play Foundation, I have come to realize and believe that everyone has something to offer that can help someone else.  I say all the time that we are all not going to be “Oprah” – Oprah is Oprah and we are ourselves — but imagine if we each contributed a tiny bit… if we each used a little of our gifts, expertise and personal power to move things forward, to make our communities better, to reach out and help another.  Imagine the impact this could make.  If all of the “regular” people really worked together…

I believe moving forward and making things happen is incredibly important, and do not believe that we, as a whole, have an ability to stay stagnant.  People have incredible imaginations.  At this point in my life I do not believe that anything anyone can come up with is impossible.  I think that if you dream it, you can do it.  Look at the 3-D printer – who can even believe such a thing is possible?  Look at how far technology and modern conveniences have come in just the recent past.  Our grandparents would not even believe it.

This brings me back towards achievement, motivation and “Firsts”.

Personally, I believe “Bests” are even more important.

Think about it.  If you put an ad in the local newspaper to watch your children or your dog, would you hire the “First” person that answers the ad or the “Best” to be able to take care of your prized possession?

Would you put your money in the “First” bank you drive to or the “Best” and most responsible?

Would you have an operation with the “First” doctor you visited or the “Best” to perform the surgery?

These are a few things just to get you thinking.  We have to be careful and responsible with our personal choices.  We have to research and we have to trust that we make the right decisions for all things that affect our lives and the lives of our children.

“First” or “Best” can make a dramatic difference.  “Firsts” give us a starting point that provides us with the fuel to create “Bests”.

Today, look at what you are and what you have achieved… then look at what is your passion.

We have all accomplished “firsts”.  Let’s continue to strive and grow.  We can have the “BEST” life ever.

Just imagine the possibilities.

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified social and emotional intelligence coach, certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see http://www.timetoplay.com/ for more information.

Image credit a2ua.com/best.html

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How to Create a Happy Family submitted by Rossy Mercedes

Article I.               :Kids who have dinner with their families do better across every conceivable matrix. They are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant or commit suicide.

Article II.        Share the Family History. Children who know  the stories of those who came before them have higher self-esteem and a sense of control over their family functions

Article III.               REDUCE  STRESS:  Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-founder of  Families and Work Institute asked children if they were granted one wish about your parents what would it be. Most parents predicted that their kids would say they wanted to spend more time with them. They were wrong. The kids #1 wish was that their parents be less tires and less stressed.

Article IV.             Having a Sense of Community. Are Religious families happier? According to Robert Putnam, author of “Our Kids -The american Dream in Crisis” It doesn’t matter what there religious affiliation it’s the friends that that religious community provides that gives you the sense of community . So it doesn’t matter what religion you practice , or how close you feel to God, it makes no difference in your overall life satisfaction. What does make a difference is the number of friends you have in said community. 10 being the magic number in this case. If you have that many friends you will be happier because you feel connected to a community.

ARTICLE V. Empowering our Kids,

Scientists at the University of California found that kids who were allowed to plan their own time, set weekly goals, and evaluate their own work build up their pre-frontal cortex and other parts of the brain that help them exert greater cognitive control over their lives. And lastly Grandmoms have super powers. Countless of studies have shown the extraordinary benefits of having her around. Mothers who have more support have less stress and more well adjusted children.

 

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PAIN RELIEF FROM PERSONAL GROWTH

Chronic pain is life altering. Pain can cause depression, affect our relationships, and actually change who you are. The “dirty circle” can slip right in , we are in pain- causing misery-miserable-more pain. But what if it can change us for the better? In this article by Paul Ingraham,      he talks about how we can use pain for personal growth and sometimes personal growth heals the body when all else fails … and of course it’s never a waste of time to try to improve. https://www.painscience.com/articles/personal-growth.php

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Are They Feeling “Emotionally Heard?”

Smartly dressed young women shaking hands in a business meeting at office desk

What is actually going on when your clients, co-workers, or family members keep repeating the details about how they have been wronged by someone else? One strong possibility is that they are not feeling “emotionally heard” by you. Therefore, your advice, your solution to the problem, your legal instructions, or your financial guidelines cannot be received and integrated. Their immediate need is not being addressed, so they are unable to shift into taking proactive steps forward.

You can facilitate that shift within just a few moments of time. In your own style, give them the message that you “get” how they are feeling. It can sound like this: “I’m hearing that you are feeling very hurt, disappointed and frustrated.” Or, “It sounds like you are feeling extremely angry and betrayed.” You want to say this using eye contact and a respectful and compassionate tone in your voice, giving your complete attention to the person for those few moments. You might continue to say, “Given what you have experienced, it is very understandable that you would be feeling that way.”

You have now identified and named the emotions that the person is feeling and you have validated that those feelings can be expected given the situation. That does not mean that you necessarily agree with the person’s assessment or behavior. It just conveys that you “get” how they are feeling, given their perception.

Try out the above beginning step towards making others feel emotionally heard. You may be surprised by their relieved reaction, their appreciation, and by their ability to listen to the content that you begin to bring across after that interaction. At this point, they may even be ready to integrate challenging points of view that they were unable to hear previously. Often, when we are feeling rushed, we want to get right to the content or instructions that we need to communicate. The extra few moments to help someone feel “emotionally heard” first, can actually save you hours of breaking through his/her resistance.

So, next time your client or friend keeps ruminating about his/her situation, instead of feeling annoyed and perhaps even hopeless, help him or her shift into a more proactive place by listening in this way. The results are often striking.

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Programmed for Unhappiness

Dear Rebecca,

I have some questions for you and would appreciate your insights. How is it possible to just stay present when it feels like unlimited potential presents itself? Potential is futurizing. I get that. But how is it possible to just stay present in an experience when potential feels so real? And when a plan is in place and people are working toward a goal, then one person bails? Is potential the same as having expectations?

I was in a musical collaboration that was the absolute best musical collaboration of my life. We were writing A-list songs together. My music partner was a guitarist/songwriter/singer. We were about to professionally record our first CD. I already had been offered a venue for our first house concert and a beautiful cafe had offered their space for our CD Launch party.

We’d been playing consistently every week to work up the material for the CD and for concerts. It was truly the most joyous experience of my entire musical career. I had never felt so matched in a collaboration as I did with this guy. And I had never felt so much unlimited potential for our music as I did in this experience.
He told me how unbelievable it was that we created two A-list songs entirely in one sitting each.

There were so many things that were positive and moving forward. This past week was my birthday. At my birthday dinner, he gave me a card with a pictures of an umbrella – a possible name for our group. The inside of the umbrella was a beautiful sky with puffy clouds. He told me he had ordered this umbrella for me for my birthday but it hadn’t arrived yet.

Three days later, he told me he changed his mind and does not want to be in a musical partnership. Done. Gone. He just wants to do his own thing. Emotional whiplash. Wow. I’m sitting with a major disappointment. It’s shocking to me.

Disappointment comes from having expectations. What does this mean in life? To go through life with not caring about outcomes? To never be attached to anything or anyone? Is this humanly possible, or only for a select few who spend their lives on mountains but never have to interact with people.

I appreciate any insights you can share with me. Thank you!

Signed, Major Disappointment

ANSWER:

Dear Ms. Major Disappointment,

Thank you for sharing so much of your heart and soul. As always, my intention is to answer your questions with clarity and truth. Many times people don’t want to hear or accept the truth about themselves and the choices they make, but without acknowledging and accepting the truth, you will never be free or happy.

The truth is, your reaction to what has “happened” to you is a programmed response. It’s not your fault. You were taught at an early age to have expectations of people – especially people you really like. Look around. You can see human programming everywhere. The majority of the world’s population has expectations of the people they love.

The problem is whenever you have expectations of anyone, the feeling of disappointment and heartbreak is right around the corner waiting to appear. Your email contains key statements that are clues to how you’ve been programmed for unhappiness. I will attempt to dissect each one.

“How is it possible to just stay present when it feels like unlimited potential presents itself? Potential is in the future. I get that. But how is it possible to just stay present in an experience when potential feels so real?”

Living in the present moment is our only reality. When you live in the past or the future, you are literally wasting your time and subtracting from your happiness. You were not born knowing how to live in the future or dwell in the past; you were literally programmed to live that way.

You arrived here living in the present moment, but then your parents unknowingly, ruined your life and brainwashed you into practicing the same habits their parents taught them. From birth until probably one or two years old, the future and/or past did not exist in your head. When you passed the age of three, you were already programmed to “look forward to” something other than the present moment. It all started innocently enough with looking forward to your birthday, Christmas, holidays, summer or even the first day of school. The program was locked in. The value of the living in the present moment was lost forever.

I don’t know about you, but no one taught me to appreciate each moment of every day. In fact, I was programmed to “look forward” to just about everything except the present moment. The practice of living in the moment is just that–a daily practice. It was only later in life, when I began to prioritize happiness, that I realized I needed to live in the moment.

“And when a plan is in place and people are working toward a goal, then one person bails?”

You used three words in your email four times. The three words are, “he told me.” He told me is interchangeable with (fill in the blank) told me. Just because someone tells you, or promises you that doesn’t mean that what they promise you they’re going to do is going to happen. It’s a hard reality to accept, but the bright side is when you don’t expect people to keep their word, you can experience the emotion of gratitude more often when what they promise actually happens.

“Is potential the same as having expectations?”

Yes. Potential, by definition, is the future. All expectations happen in the future. In fact, a synonym for expectation is potential. Having expectations is part of the human programming that creates unhappiness.

“Is this humanly possible, or only for a select few who spend their lives on mountains but never have to interact with people?”

Just because a person spends their life living in a monastery or on top of a mountain doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re happy people. The measure of how happy a person depends on how they process and handle life’s challenges on a routine basis. I mean I’ve heard plenty of stories about monks having no patience. It’s impossible to be impatience and happy at the same time. What would happen if the Dalai Lama is served soup when he ordered a salad? What would happen if the Dalai Lama’s alarm clock wasn’t set and he missed his morning meditation? How about the washing machine broke at the monastery and His Holiness had to wear yesterday’s underwear?

Unless you witness how a person navigates through their challenges, you are not able to conclude their internal state aka their happiness. Just because you have muscles, doesn’t mean that you’re strong. Your internal state of happiness or contentment is measured when you’re challenged regardless of where you’re living.

My dear Major Disappointment, let me share a similar story when I practiced the religion of the having expectations about people and future potential.

On October 3, 2014, I underwent arthroscopic hip surgery. A couple of weeks after surgery I began physical therapy. There was an older gentleman who was also recovering from surgery, and, coincidentally we shared the same doctor/surgeon. An excellent doctor by the way; so if you ever need arthroscopic hip surgery, hit me up for a recommendation. I digress.

What usually happens when I meet someone new is I ask a lot of questions. This gentleman, I’ll call him Tim, told me he used to manage several very famous rock bands in the 70s and 80s. I will not be specific as to exactly who he managed, but trust me, the bands were world-renowned.

I asked him what was he currently doing and he told me that he waiting for his boss to retire. His boss was David Letterman, the famous nighttime TV talk show host. My mouth dropped open because here I was sitting next to someone who was obviously very connected in the “business” I wanted to be apart of. I began to make a pitch for my own television show. I started off by saying, “I’m the next Oprah!” I shared the idea I’d had for my own show—–starring me, of course. Well my new BFF loved my idea and told me he knew a few producers looking for fresh shows with unique content. That’s me, fresh and unique.

As you can imagine, I was so excited that I literally began planning my first show. Did I mention my new best friend managed world famous rock bands, knew producers that were looking for new shows and most importantly worked with David Letterman? I gave him my business card and promised to follow up with my resume, social media links, website, media contacts, photos, references, and the kitchen sink. Hollywood, network TV, here I come! But before I went to Hollywood, I needed to make a few phone calls. I called my mother, my son, a close family friend, I think I remember telling one of my next-door neighbors who, unfortunately for him, was outside mowing his lawn.

I sent “Tim” a friend request on Facebook and my request was confirmed. I privately messaged every link on the web I was featured on, including links to my own online radio show. I will admit, I was very impressed with myself and what I had accomplished during the many years of preparation for my big break. I was ready for network TV. I was going to Hollywood, and I could smell success.

Let me go back to Ms. Major Disappointment’s email for a minute here.

“I was in a musical collaboration that was the absolute best musical collaboration of my life. We were writing A-list songs together. We were about to professionally record our first CD…I already had been offered a venue for our first house concert and a beautiful cafe had offered their space for our CD Launch party. We’d been playing consistently every week to work up the material for the CD and for concerts. It was truly the most joyous experience of my entire musical career. I had never felt so matched in a collaboration … and I had never felt so much unlimited potential for our music as I did in this experience.
There were so many things that were positive and moving forward.”

What she describes above is exactly what I felt at the time.

  • Excited about the future
  • Planning the future
  • Attached to “possibilities” in the future
  • Hopeful about the future (hope is for dopes)
  • Emotionally attached to an outcome
  • Expectations galore

Back to my story. On December 16, 2014, I sent a private Facebook message to my new best friend.
From me: 12/16/2014 8:42 am

Greetings Tim. (not his real name) Wishing you and your family a memorable holiday season. Did you ever receive my email? Let me know! smile emoticon

From “Tim”: 12/20/2014 6:48 am

Hi Rebecca, yes I receive everything. I was just thinking of you when I got your message. I met with ________ yesterday and discussed you with both WorldWide Pants and Oprah’s contact. I’m sorry it took so long, but I was away and, believe it or not, ________ was in Florida and Cuba for weeks. Nonetheless, Oprah combined her company with Discovery, and no longer works on new projects and all energy go to her network. Dave’s last show is in May, and Dave is moving in a totally different direction. ________ is also retiring in May. Also we discussed the importance of the numbers game, and it seems your numbers have a long way to go. By numbers I mean followers on FB, followers etc. On a personal note, although I get what you’re thinking, I wouldn’t call yourself, the next Oprah. Oprah already exists, and you really don’t want to open that comparison. Anyway sorry for the delay, but I hadn’t forgotten you or our conversation. I hope you have a perfect Christmas and great new year. “Tim”

Thank you sooooo much Tim! And I “get it” about saying I’m the next Oprah…great point! smile emoticon

Love to you AND your family!

One day … sooner than later …you will hear my name mentioned ….heart emoticon
Chat Conversation End

Side bar: While I was copying the Facebook message from Tim, I noticed the small print at the top of the chat box. “You and ‘Tim’ aren’t connected on Facebook.” What? Are you kidding me? Tim de-friended me! Without so much as a good-bye, so long, adiós, arrivederci, au revoir, bon voyage, sayonara or even a see-you-later-alligator? I was de-friended by the only person I knew that knew David Letterman. The crazy thing was this newsflash didn’t even register on my emotional Richter scale. Not one bit. Why? Because from October 3, 2014, until December 16, 2015, I made it a daily practice to eliminate expectations of people and attachments to outcomes from my life. It was easy for me to experience probably the most connected person I knew in showbiz disconnect from me.

Let me get back to Ms. Major Disappointment’s email again because there’s another lesson to be learned from this type of experience.

When you find yourself in a moment or moments of joy, happiness, elation, excitement, enjoy it and soak it all in while it lasts. Enjoy the moment(s) without attaching an expectation to future moments. Enjoy the moment(s) without attaching to an outcome of a future moment. To be happier, enjoy the moment without expecting the moment to last into the future.

I am a huge football fan. I love watching the professional games every Sunday. I also watch the “A Football Life” documentaries. I’ve listened to many interviews from athletes that have won multiple Super Bowls. I can only imagine the emotions after years of playing, preparation, training, injuries, the highs and lows all climaxing on a Sunday in February. The Super Bowl is broadcasted all over the world. After you win the Super Bowl, they say there’s a glow that lingers. But that glow does not last. You can never go back in time to get that exact feeling back. But in the moment, the feeling is beyond description; a natural high.

If you talk to an athlete who’s won the Super Bowl more than once, they describe their emotions for each Super Bowl win with a different adjective. Why? Because each win feels different. I’ve heard an athlete from the Dallas Cowboys say that his third Super Bowl win wasn’t a feeling of happiness or excitement but of relief. Why? There was so much pressure to win the Super Bowl for the third time that he couldn’t enjoy the win until months later.

My point is this. The programming for unhappiness runs deep. It takes a conscious effort, and most importantly, daily practice in every moment, to let go of your past and future moments. Remember, the present moment is your only reality.

Warning: Choosing happiness as opposed to the programming that is offered by most of the world, is road not traveled by the masses. When you make the decision to rewire the programming that keeps you unhappy, you will feel like you’re going through emotional withdrawals. Trust me; I know first hand. It’s possibly the hardest and loneliest journey you will make in this lifetime, because you will have to look in the mirror for solutions to all of your problems. That alone doesn’t feel too good.

Good news: When you recognize that your current program is hindering your happiness, you may want to prioritize rewiring that program.

,

Sober and Happy Holidays!

sober holidays

sober holidays   The Holidays can be a challenging time for millions of people recovering from alcohol and drug addictions. People, places and things around holiday festivities can be triggers for relapse. 

Here are some tips you may consider that may be helpful for you.

  • Find new ways to celebrate! Host a party with your friends in recovery. Plan some fun recipes with non-alcoholic drinks and delicious foods.
  • Stay connected and share your triggers with someone close; you’re not alone-pick up the phone! 
  • Set boundaries with your friends and family members. Share where your head is at, and plan ahead together for family gatherings.
  • Watch for certain foods that may have alcohol-just the taste can be a trigger at times. Learn to say “No” in away that is comfortable for you.
  • Give yourself a little extra self care. Take some quiet time and work on an attitude of gratitude.
  • Smile-it’s definitely contagious!
  • Get involved in helping others; it takes us out of our own head at times. Help the family with whatever needs to get done.
  • Leave your judgement at the door, and don’t take things personally. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments!
  • Focus on positive people and things. Be good to you! Then you can be there for others.
  • Dress nice, feel good, share hugs, learn something new, teach someone something, stay true to you!

and…SHINE!