Stop Being Negative

June 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog

Photo by Angie Rubin

It is so easy to see the glass half full — what I don’t have that I wish I had,  why others seem to have an easier time than I do, etc.  To most of us this type of reaction or behavior is almost automatic.

But being “negative” only compounds the problems.  If we’re feeling bad about not having achieved certain goals in our lives, thinking about that and lamenting our current situation doesn’t do us any good.  But, if instead we look at what we do have and our accomplishments; we will certainly enjoy our lives more and then be energized to continue to seek fulfilling our dreams.

To me learning to reeducate my brain to be more positive has been a long road.  Somehow lamenting and feeling sorry for myself became my MO sometime during my late twenties.  Not sure how it happened – maybe a combination of old family behaviors with a very unhappy relationship was enough to get me there.  But, regardless how it started, it soon became my modus operandi.  And then to complete the scenario I surrounded myself with others that behaved the same way.

Once you embark in this style of living, it is hard to turn back.  As we are habitual creatures, we start to find solace in our own pity and sadness. Soon that is how we respond to lives challenges.  Our attention goes to what is wrong instead of what is right.

If you find yourself not celebrating your relationships and achievements as much as you do your losses and frustrations, maybe it is time for you to also take charge and change.

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Learning To Find Positive In Loss

March 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

Today, I was talking to a friend on the phone who used to be a high fashion model.  My friend walked the runways for such designers as Valentino, Christian Dior, and Montana. One day while paragliding he became trapped in electrical wires and ended up losing a leg.  His life radically changed.  He went from making a living from being extremely in shape and good looking to being a man stared at for having a disability.  But my friend is a survivor. He went back to paragliding and actually added a few more sports.  Today he is an extreme sports athlete.

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Reminding Ourselves To Look At The Positive

June 18, 2010 by  
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Yesterday, I woke up at 6am, made coffee, and went through in my mind over all the things I needed to do before catching a plane to Florida.

I then sat down at my desk placed my cup next to my computer and thought I wanted to write about romantic love. I let my mind wonder and my heart remember the thrill of meeting someone who makes our heart skip a beat.   But before I could type the first word, coffee was flying everywhere including on my computer.  I had knocked my cup over. I went for a towel and quickly cleaned it all up but by then some keys on my keyboard no longer worked.  I thought maybe there was still some coffee inside my computer.  I looked for a screwdriver but couldn’t find one small enough to open the back of the computer so I picked up a Swiss Army Knife put the blade against the screw but instead of getting the back open I slashed my finger when the blade slid from the screw.

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Why You Fear Love and Success

May 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

I found this article on the Huffington Post and wanted to share because it talks about how our own happiness and contentment is up to us.  And how much the work we do is within ourselves.  I’m a firm believer our journey through life is a journey within.

by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

In an earlier blog I quoted Rumi’s Guesthouse poem in order to convey a radical approach to our difficulties in everyday life. He says:

This being human is a guest-house.Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

However, it’s not always the difficult emotions we’re trying to avoid. Sometimes there’s a subtle, or not too subtle, aversion to the “positive” feelings like “love” or “joy” that come for life or success. Why might this be?

Well, one thing I’ve learned over time in my own life and as a psychologist is that emotions aren’t so black and white. For example, anger doesn’t just come with anger alone; at times it comes with sadness or other emotions. We just have these words to help us better define emotions as we do with other things.

In this same vein, when we’re growing up we often have a natural love for our parents, but this can get mixed up with other uncomfortable emotions. If we grew up in a scary household perhaps love got mixed up with fear or if we grew up in a family of divorce, love may have been mixed with fear or the sadness or anger of separation or failure.

In other words, in order to feel love, we might also have to feel these uncomfortable emotions. So, acting in our best interest to avoid discomfort, some part of ourselves decided to keep the uncomfortable emotions at bay and at the same time keeps the love or joy at bay.

All kinds of tricks of the mind are deployed to have this work out. Perhaps we discount the positive and exaggerate the negative or maybe just go up in our heads and analyze over and over again to avoid the feelings…Continued


Thoughts On Self-Confidence

April 28, 2010 by  
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Sometimes we are afraid of taking certain actions.  The reasons can be: 1 – We think we couldn’t possible to X, or  2 – We are afraid if we fail what others will think of us or 3 – What do others think of us in general?  Are we good enough?

Let’s think for a moment about “we think we couldn’t possibly do X”.  The truth is we don’t know. And if we never try we will always be stuck exactly where we are.  Why not shift the focus of our thinking from fear of failure to exhilaration?  Instead of being afraid let’s be curious about what will happen if we do succeed.  By turning a negative into a positive we can overcome our fears and move on. And once we do, let’s make sure not to forget to look back and rejoice in what we have just achieved.

How about fear of what others will think of us if we fail?  That questions points to a different issue.  It points to a fragile ego.  If we realize that life is a journey, full of excitements, wins and losses, we know that the only way to move forward is by having self-confidence and taking risks.  Loss is part of life and so is winning. So let’s not care about what others think of us.

And lastly “are we good enough?”  If we think we are; then we are.  It is truly up to us because 1 – there is no such a thing as good enough  2 – If we are on a journey to live a happy and rich life, we know where we are headed and we don’t need anybody’s approval to keep moving forward.

Being self-confident makes life feel more free and easy.  All the worrying feels like a ton of bricks on our backs, and who needs that?  The time of slavery is over.


A Widow On Valentine

February 11, 2010 by  
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I’m a widow.  I never thought I would say these words.  I never thought I would say them in my 40s.  Widows are supposed to be old women contemplating the end of their lives.

I’ve recently watched a few films about soldiers returning home and it dawned on me that our lives are molded by that which happens to us.  Soldiers after seeing extreme violence, injustice, fear and deplorable conditions find solace in each other not because they speak the same language or come from the same town or even share the same believes.  They find solace because they went through the same psychological wounds. They all know what happened without any need for an explanation.  They understand each other in a visceral way.

I remember years ago when by a set of mismanagement of information and conduct by others, I ended up spending time with a woman, at the time in her 30s, who was dying because her organs and skin had lost the ability to stretch.  I used to tell her to look for others who were in the same situation as she was because they would understand her and she would find community with them.  I could talk to her and have compassion but I couldn’t really understand in an emotional way what she was going through specially because then I hadn’t gone through the depths of suffering and loss I would eventually go through.

I’m a widow.

I used to think widows and widowers were sad people who spend the rest of their lives pining for the person gone.

I am now a widow and sometimes I’m very sad; a special kind of sadness; profound, simple and quiet.  But I also have a great desire to live life and to make it meaningful.

I have a friend who has had a leg and a hip amputated because of cancer.  I truly don’t know what it is to live the kind of life she does, but unlike how it was with my other friend, I now have an understanding of pain and hers doesn’t scare me anymore.  I can offer her and receive from her more than I could many years ago.

I met someone on a hiking trail who had just faced death and will spend the rest of her life fighting it off.  I listened to her, she listened to me and neither of us were victims, we were just strong women sharing our lot with each other.

When my husband passed away I wanted so much to find something positive in all we had gone through and all that I had lost but I kept saying to friends and family that I was still the same person I had been before Chris had gotten sick.  But eventually I would realize that I was wrong.  It is impossible to go through something devastating and remain the same.  In my case I believe I have developed a new level of compassion and have in a way turned my loss into something of worth; I write about it and hope it resonates with others and inspires them to have the courage to be truthful, and to realize peace comes from knowing oneself.

So this Sunday when many lovers will send gifts and share kisses I will embrace the person that I am, the person life has shaped and I will promise her to be by her side and to love and understand her till the very end.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home

November 12, 2009 by  
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All Dorothy needed to do was click her ruby red slippers together three times and repeat the words “There’s no place like home.” She is my role model for self-discovery, for personal power and believing in myself.

I also agreed with Dorothy that there was no place like home. Home is where you would celebrate birthdays, graduations, and holidays because there was nothing better than a house filled with family, friends and laughter. Home was where I would sit with my husband talking for hours about nothing and about everything. It was where we laughed about funny things from the past and planned for the new adventures in our future. It was always my safe place. My husband and home would protect me from the worries and pressures of the world.

Home was also where my husband wanted to be when he knew his days on this earth were limited.

After Hospice was called we had 24 days. We sat together and held hands. We talked about our life together. He told me I was stronger than I gave myself credit for. He helped me make a list of how to take care of our home, when to change the oil in my car. He had me write down words of wisdom and what he wanted our grandchildren to know about him. No longer were there plans for our future. I didn’t want to let him go. I didn’t want him to leave me. I asked him if he believed in reincarnation. I told him through the tears that I have to believe he would hear my prayers.

After my husband left for Eternal Life our home became so quiet. I deeply miss hearing the sounds of his presence. Being quiet wasn’t his nature. He loved to laugh and had so much fun making up songs and jingles using various voices and accents. I often told him he should volunteer to read books to children or record books on tape for the blind.

When we would go shopping I could always find him because he would walk around whistling. I still find myself turning around to look for him when I hear that sound. I remember how he would hide behind something even after he knew I saw him. He would always make me laugh. We had so much fun together.

If only I had ruby slippers and could go back to home. Home to the world I shared with my husband.

I keep reminding myself of his favorite quote by Dr. Seuss…

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.


A Sandy Pool with Just Enough Water

June 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

This past Sunday morning at the Buddhist meeting I rolled out of bed to attend, the floor was opened to the meditators who’d come here seeking enlightenment (or just a little peace), as the monk that usually gives the dharma talk was presiding over a funeral.

We were invited to share our experiences of how the path and practice of Buddhism has brought about positive changes in our lives. This raised a question as to whether it is really possible to gauge the progression of spiritual growth in one’s life. Or whether there is any real point in trying to assess such a thing. As I sat listening to the exchange of ideas and experiences, and ruminated about what I might say in turn, a sense of futility lodged itself in my mind. As far as this spiritual journey is concerned, I often feel like a haggard wanderer, marching through the desert in search of a drink. At the last moment, just before keeling over, I find a sandy pool with just enough water to keep on trucking toward the promised oasis.

Such frustrations are like an unwelcome traveling companion that reminds me of my own distinct lack of “progress” in matters of the spirit. Like a stowaway on my spiritual journey, it keeps on my trail, whispering a vague message of the ultimate futility of all of my undertakings, both spiritual and secular. It’s a message that creeps in through some subconscious backdoor, then slowly diffuses into conscious recognition. It spells out a humbling verdict: all my plans and projects, the one’s I carry on dreaming about, amount to a pot of fool’s gold, puddles of inconsequential nonsense. (That includes this essay, in its current impoverished state). Paradoxically, I find this uplifting somehow, an acknowledgement of my own state of relative meaninglessness and cosmic ineptitude. It provides a real sense of relief from the pressures, expectations and obligations that the burden of a good education can place on a man’s life.

This is not to say that I don’t continue to take my pet projects seriously (I wish them all the best), nor that I should chuck them aside in a tantrum of despair. Like every other life form that’s been set loose on this planet I need an outlet for the photosynthetic energy that nature has stored up in my system (thank you Sun!) Better to channel this natural bounty toward mildly consequential pursuits than to allow it to dissipate and find dark crevasses to ferment in. And by recognizing the skimpy stature of my own schemes within the grand scheme, I am better able to impose order over the unruly hatchery of my dreams. After all, dreams complain incessantly when they aren’t allowed to come true. Unfortunately, they are like those little sea turtles on the mad dash for the ocean. All of them want to see the watery world. Only a few are truly destined for a taste of existence.

Anyhow, I think there might just be some real value hidden in my pot of fool’s gold. The phony bills I’ve got stashed there can be used to redeem existence from a sad state of excessive seriousness. We are all playing with the same pile of monopoly money; it’s a currency that can convert the dour business of living into a more enjoyable game.  An existential game that is, not a nihilistic slugfest.

The rules of the game are the same as those that apply to living anyway: The clock is always running. It all amounts to naught. The final score will always be zero. And you play as though your life depends on it.

While such thoughts wandered back and forth in my mind, all I had to contribute to the discussion was the following simple definition of spiritual progress that the monk had previously offered: If you are suffering less, you are making progress.

It’s hard to argue with that.