Inner Peace Improves Creativity

Inner peace improves creativity.

Based on my experience as a creative person, inner peace takes us to a different place that improves our ability to come up with fresh ideas.

Brainstorming Is Not Creativity

I have nothing against brainstorming – either by yourself or with others. But here’s the thing: brainstorming is often about what we already know.

When we get together with others we each take what we know and pool it with everyone else’s knowledge and come up with an idea or strategy. This is great up to a point and in increasingly complex institutional environments can be very useful – after all there is too much for any one person to know.

When we brainstorm we mostly rehash what we know. Unfortunately it is usually linear, left brained activity meant to enhance the status quo..

Brainstorming, then, can be limited in what it considers as potential ideas. It may be limited to what exists and what others will accept.

So is it creativity?

What Is Creativity?

According to one online dictionary, creativity is

1.the state or quality of being creative

2.the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

3.the process by which one utilizes creativeability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

What is key in the definition is the word, imagination. Imagination is a right brained activity. It claims the connections that we cannot make any other way. It offers us the unknown for our progress in solving  problem or developing something new.

Is Imagination Endangered?

Left brained mental processes have dominated human culture in the West for centuries. They are an outgrowth of the scientific method which is evidence based and relies on the material world.

Imagination is elusive. It is energy based and connected to the universal field, the source of all intelligence in the universe.

Science developed as an antidote to superstition. It does not respect  the spiritual, psychic and energetic realms, although that is beginning to change a little. The discredited realms  of modern life are also the home of the imagination, which we find cute and interesting in children not adults.

The Universal Field And Creativity

The universal field is an important support of human life. It is the emptiness and silence of oneness where those wild ideas of the imagination come from. It is therefore a great resource for our creative endeavors.

Here’s the rub.

You cannot force it.

You have to be open to it.

Creative ideas require that we are receptive to them or they cannot make their way to us because we have closed ourselves off to them. Receptivity is a feminine quality and one that is discredited in modern culture. Therefore many are often not receptive to new ideas and it is not just an individual problem it is also a societal problem.

Those who are in touch with their imaginations, their creativity and the universal field may find themselves isolated and have difficulty communicating their ideas and gaining acceptance for them. How many people are really open to and in touch with the universal field?

Inner Peace And Creativity

Creative challenges aside, the universal field is our source for creative support. Interestingly, we learn to move into its stillness through meditation. Yes, the same meditation that helps us find inner peace.  Meditation helps us let go of the petty difficulties of everyday life. It helps us become more comfortable with silence than the drama of everyday life.

In doing so, we quiet the mental chatter that distracts us from our creative source and allow ourselves to receive new information. We open ourselves to new possibilities simply by being open to the universal silence. Meditation helps us find inner peace and in doing so also helps us find and embrace our creative potential.

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Entering The Aliveness

Aliveness!

We all seek it and it is all around us.

As a highly sensitive person, I love just being in the natural aliveness around me.

Aliveness And Its Substitutes

I have a hard time with all the substitutes for aliveness: entertainment, overwork, war.

They jangle my nerves.

I do not like drama all that much – mostly because it does not ring true but also because it seems so escapist.

Drama is often a substitute for living. It is a great way to organize people and harness their energy for some purpose, necessary or not.

When we opt for drama we give up the precious aliveness of space.

I think it is a poor trade.

Drama As Loss

Whenever I am around drama I experience such a sense of loss.

I feel the loss of a precious home. I feel the sullying of perfect silence.

Perhaps I am simply not endowed with an effusive love of busyness because it often seems silly. Some people seem to love it.

I am not interested in false importance.

Perhaps I just miss the joy of space.

Why Do We Need To Get Ahead?

I do not understand all of the getting ahead.

Why?

When you see that we are all part of the universal energy, then what is there to get ahead of? Or perhaps who?

The minute you separate yourself from the universal energy, you essentially are operating from an adversarial mind and not embracing the whole.

Then you are definitely creating drama and missing out on simple joy.

Animals know this. That is why the animal kingdom is sometimes smarter than we are.

There is no one to get ahead of. We are all part of the universe.

I know that that idea is considered naive by some, but it is really dangerous to think otherwise because when we do we are creating the adversity that we do not like.

The human mind can be a blessing or a curse. The more we engage in comparisons the worse off we are, the more adversarial we are and the less we live in the peace of space.

So why get ahead when you can simply be in the luxurious silence of wholeness?

I Love To Just Be

I love to just be, it’s my favorite thing to do.

I have to keep reminding myself not to turn it into an aspiration, though.

Learning to just be is not easy. It has taken many years of meditation to begin to relax. Probably because I am so sensitive.

I have to remind myself that I do not have to fix everything, I do not need to be necessary or essential and then I can relax.

Sometimes I have trouble relaxing because I see so may things that need doing.

Since I am sensitive the things undone can be a source of irritation and make it hard for me to relax.

I keep at it though, because no matter how much I get done nothing makes me happier than just being in the universal silence.

Then I feel I am at home.

An Easy Way To Discharge Stressed Out Energy

Nature is one of the most powerful and natural healing modalities available to us and yet it is largely untapped as a healing resource.

We highly sensitive people are more vulnerable  to a stressed nervous system  from the high levels of stimulation that are so rampant in our western culture.

Over my lifetime I have tried many modalities to relieve myself from the excessive stress out feeling I get from being ‘out’ in the world. What I have found is that Nature is the one consistent place my body, mind and spirit automatically relaxes and comes into a state of harmonious synchrony.

One way nature creates this nervous system balance is by helping us to shift our attention from thinking to sensing. The sights, smells, sounds and general energy level of nature is a lot more harmonious and attractive than the loud and discordant stimuli so often found in cities, the workplace and even our homes when the T.V is on.

How Your Heart Field CanRelieve Stressed Out Energy

Studies have shown that when you shift to sensing you alter the electromagnetic field of your heart. This causes the heart rate to slow as well as bringing the two parts of the nervous system into a dynamic state of alert relaxation.

The quickest and easiest way to bring yourself into this state which scientists call coherence is by actively seeking out that which you find attractive. Appreciation for beauty activates the heart’s energy field. Science has shown the size of the heart’s electromagnetic field is much larger than the brain’s. This means that the rest of the body and mind will entrain to it which creates that much sort after state of relaxed ease and openness.

The more you practice direct perception and appreciation the more you will move out of ordinary thinking and into pure consciousness. It is in this state you are able to deeply rest, rejuvenate, decompress and discharge all the chaotic stressed energies that are the seeds of so much dis-ease.

Even if you are not near natural wild places you can still look around you and seek out the beauty of nature. You can actively notice the gentle sway of a tree branch, the rustling of leaves in the breeze, the fluffy white clouds silhouetted against the deep blue sky or the delicious fragrance of daffodils coming into bloom, signaling spring and a time of rejuvenation and new beginnings.

Appreciating Beauty Mediation

Try the following ‘Appreciating Beauty Meditation’ taken from Empowered Nature Meditations; for Personal & Planetary Healing

1. Look around you and find something that attracts your attention. It would be better if this were something from nature such as a rock, a tree, or a flower. Gently bring your full awareness to the object you find beautiful. Become aware of the elegance of its shape, the intensity of its color, the light on its surface, and the specific presence of the item. Ask yourself what makes this item unique?

2. Imagine you are taking in the essence of this object. Breathe in its best qualities as if you could absorb those qualities into yourself.

3. Look at the tiniest detail and notice how each aspect contributes to the whole.

4. Now look at the entire object and sense its grandeur even though it might be small and subtle. Practice going from the small to the large view. Now try to see the object as huge, and then bring it back to normal size.

5. Blur the focus of your vision slightly and try to see a glow around the object. Can you sense a radiation of any kind from it? Ask yourself what is it you like about this object? What aspects stand out for you? These are the qualities that you already possess.

6. As you go about your day pay attention to your surroundings. Look for what you find beautiful around you. Appreciate the beauty and breathe it into yourself.

To further enhance your ability to create natural healing for yourself, please enjoy this recorded healing exercise: Appreciating Beauty For Natural Stress Relief- MP3

 

The Surprising Cause Of Addiction

Jive Addiction Cruise 2010 4th -11th October 652 © by Jive Addiction

Have you ever wondered what causes addiction?

Does it seem sometimes that all around us is one form of addiction or another? Entertainment, shopping, work, the internet, sex, food, drugs, alcohol?

Do you ever wonder if that is all there is?

The Cause Of Addiction

Stress and addiction are actually cause and effect according to Yogi Amrit Desai, founder of Kripalu Yoga. His thinking is explained in  Natural AwakeningsHealing the Root Cause of Addiction with Ayurveda A Natural Cure for Unhealthy Dependence by Linda Sechrist

According to Yogi Desai in this article, “Addictions are antidotes that provide a temporary escape from the stress- producing, conflict-creating reactions you have about what you are doing, where you are going and who you are with. Addiction, which is only an effect, occurs when you continue to use inappropriate external resources to reduce stress and restore a sense of balance, while failing to resolve the cause of the stress hidden in the unconscious.”

The first question this raises is:

  • why does anyone need an antidote to a reaction?
  • are some reactions OK and others not?

Have you ever noticed when your feelings and reactions are “corrected” by other people and how that feels?  and what is your reaction to that experience?

Problems with reactions and the need to escape them come from a conflict we are unable to resolve. Usually the seeds of addiction are created when we are children.  As children we are stuck not only physically but also emotionally as well. We have to survive in the environment into which we are born. It is that natural need to survive that can get us in trouble because we sometimes have to live with compromises to our worth and dignity that we do not want or deserve.

Unfortunately the seeds of addiction can happen innocently. If, as a child, someone were to step on your foot, and you were told not to cry, that the hurt is really not so bad, you would likely feel awful from the hurt foot, awful that your hurt was not acknowledged, bad for crying, and confused by the reaction to what seems obvious to you: you need help and healing.  The seeds of addiction have just been planted, when the child has to reject his or her natural feelings to be accepted by parents and family.

The seeds of addiction can be magnified in a situation of extreme abuse where the child experiences both abuse and denial of the abuse. Often the child must act with affection and gratitude to their abuser, which causes their feelings of conflict intensify. Add the natural pain of the child and the thwarting of the natural inclination to love that an abuse situation creates, and you have a serious emotional mess!

This mess if it is allowed to exist over a long period of time results in disabling and  creates  damaging conflicting emotions that can result in extreme and maybe permanent damage to that individual’s integrity and ability to self regulate.

People who suffer from addictions deserve compassion.  Highly sensitive people are particularly vulnerable in abusive situations because they take in all energies like a sponge and they heal slowly.  It is difficult to be stoic and be a highly sensitive person.

There are any number of solutions and paths to healing the conditions and causes of addiction.  They include therapy that validates feeling, and alternative health practices like meditation, eft and reiki that help release frozen painful energy in the body.

Healing from addictions and child abuse can be a lengthy process, because you have to reverse the long process of devaluation that created the problem in the first place. HSP’s often experience devaluation because of their sensitivity so abuse can add an additional experience of devaluation making healing even more challenging.

One of the bravest actions a highly sensitive person can take is to decide to be an advocate for themselves and get the help they need so that they can have some quality of life.

Overstimulation: How Subtle Energy Overwhelms An HSP

Overstimulation Feels Like A Waterfall

Rushing Waters © by Reiver

So – your an HSP and have overstimulation issues?

It’s a huge challenge trying to handle it.

I am sure that it always has been but in our current culture where ridiculous amounts of stimulation are considered normal, it is particularly difficult to handle overstimulation for HSP’s.

The Problem Of Overstimulation For HSP’s

Because of their sensitive nervous systems, highly sensitive people pick up on all kinds of nuanced subtle energy going on around them. The most minute ripple of energy penetrates their awareness and takes a place in the consciousness of an HSP.

In our fast-paced world, those many small awareness can build up and clog an HSP’s nervous system and mind. The resulting overstimulation is an important factor for HSP functioning and quality of life.

Highly sensitive people need to process every bit of information they receive. Not to do so feels wrong to many HSP’s and also take them out of their integrity. So what happens when each day the amount of information a person receives is overwhelming like an oncoming rush of water that never stops?

Handling Overstimulation

There are essentially two options for handling the overstimulaton:

  • take time to process the information immediately
  • take in the information and process it immediately.

Each option has pitfalls.

Because highly sensitive people consider all information carefully, they are inevitably slower in their responses to stimulus. A highly sensitive person takes the information in, like a sponge takes in water.

HSP’s usually don’t like to lash out in a reactive way; they prefer to take in, sort out and respond to information. The HSP approach is likely to be a contemplative rather than a reactive one.

All of this takes time. Pressure to be fast can actually slow down a highly sensitive person since that pressure is more stimulus that they have to handle and only increases the overstimulation.

Unfortunately, a wonderfully thoughtful way of doing things can put an HSP at a disadvantage. Why? Because in a fast paced world, speed is often more highly valued than thoughtfulness and aggression over sensitivity.

What this means is that that the center of gravity and benefits of this world usually go to the fast, not the meticulous. The meticulous may end up cleaning up after the fast as HSP’s often find out.

It is important for highly sensitive people to recognize that that a time based society like our consumer society has an external, time based locus of control. HSP’s have an internal locus of control, so they are at odds with the culture.

The culture will continually try to make them conform, but to do so brings out the worst in an HSP.

Meditation, stress handling techniques and other health enhancing habits can help an HSP maintain an intelligent relationship between their natural internal locus of control and the opposite demands of their culture. Therefore, highly sensitive people can help themselves a lot by seeking health and stress management tools to buffer an aggressive culture.

Meditation Increases Self Discipline And Self-Acceptance

Mantra © by j / f / photos

You know the drill.  You are sensitive and therefore it is assumed that you are unstable.

And so you get marginalized. After all sensitivity means you are not tough enough. It means you are unreliable.

NOT SO!

Researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough discovered a link between sensitivity and self discipline in their study about meditation. The study demonstrated that meditators were more accepting of their emotions which impacted their performance.

The Effect Of Meditation On Emotions

“Willpower … may relate to ‘emotional intelligence’,” said Michael Inzlicht, associate professor of psychology at UTSC. According to the study, meditators were more open to their emotions. This “emotional intelligence” has a strong impact on the ability of an individual to be disciplined on tasks.

When you meditate, and I am speaking from my 15+ years of experience with Transcendental Meditation, thoughts come and go. You do not attach to them. Sometimes they subside or stop. There is a flow to thoughts and feelings and the more you let the flow happen, the less likely you are to see them as part of your identity.

When you detach your identity from your thoughts and emotions, it is easier to accept them as part of the flow of life. You then take thoughts and emotions less personally and you become emotionally freer. Meditation promotes emotional freedom so that you can apply your energy to a task and stay with it because your emotions are not getting in the way so much.

Emotional Acceptance Trumps Mindful Awareness

According to the article, ” the researchers asked participants about their experience meditating, and gave tests that measured how mindful they were of the present moment, and also how aware and accepting they were of their emotions.

The researchers then hooked up participants to an electroencephalograph and gave them something called the Stroop test. In the test, participants are shown the name of a colour written in letters of a different colour – for instance, the word “red” spelled in green letters. Participants are asked to say the colour of the letters. The test requires them to suppress the tendency to read the word, and instead to concentrate on actual colours.

Meditators were generally better than non-meditators at the test… Looking further, the researchers found that the best performers were those who scored highest on emotional acceptance, and that mindful awareness – the more cognitive aspect of mindfulness ­– had less to do with success on the test. ”

Implications For Highly Sensitive People

Being highly sensitive means being aware of emotions. You cannot escape them. Being in touch with your emotions can be overwhelming and you quickly discover that you cannot respond to each one.

Although you have to process your feelings and make the wisest action choices that you can make, if you see them as part of the flow of life it will be easier to do so.

Whether you meditate or not, over time the practice of processing feelings and making decisions can become a practice that helps you develop both wisdom and self-discipline.

That is quite a gift from the supposed problem of being highly sensitive.

3 Steps To Emotional Health

black handmade journal © by cordfish

If you struggle with processing your feelings you are not alone.

As an HSP, it is often difficult to handle so many strong, overwhelming emotions. When too many  emotions remain unprocessed they can lead to emotional blocks.

However, we sensitives are blessed with the gift of introspection.  It may seem like a curse at times but it is actually an advantage.

Why?

Because for highly sensitive people the mundane task of processing our emotions is what leads us to wisdom.

Step 1: Learn Where Energy Blocks Come From

According to Yogi Amrit Desai, founder of Kripalu Yoga in a June, 2010 article in Natural AwakeningsHealing the Root Cause of Addiction with Ayurveda A Natural Cure for Unhealthy Dependence by Linda Sechrist,  “…stressors—thoughts and reactions to our lifestyle, relationships, work environment and family life—are introduced through the ego mind.

Emotionally charged thoughts and feelings of blame, shame or guilt then get metabolized into our biological body system. Stored in the form of toxins and neuro-glandular imbalances, these feelings create energy blocks that prevent the free flow of energy, or prana, the body’s self-healing wisdom.

Energy blocks may take the form of muscular tensions and weakness in liver, kidney and digestive functions. Gradual decline results in a progressive deterioration of biological processes and consequently can manifest in external symptoms of fatigue, fear, anxiety and insecurity.”

Step 2: Embrace Emotional Metabolism

Metabolism comes from the greek word ” metabole” for change or transformation.

At any given time as we interact with our world we are in the process of metabolism – of perceptions, thought, feelings, emotions as well as material substances such as food and water.

All forms of life engage in metabolism, from plants to humans. When we are unable to metabolize a food it will clog our bodies. When we are unable to metabolize or process emotions, they will clog our system as well.  Ideally we process all food and experiences each day so that we are in a state of flowing with life.

If only it were that simple!

Step 3: Create A Daily Emotional Health Plan

It is often not  possible to process all information and feelings when they occur.

  1. you may be too busy
  2. the feelings may be too much to process in one day. Grieving a loss is a good example of that.
  3. you may have experienced long-term abuse which requires a long time to reach forgiveness and release.

There are a number of daily practices that you can engage in to help you with your emotional health:

  1. meditation like Transcendental Meditation is excellent.  It moves you into the more detached space of universal consciousness and therefore helps you release and heal negative emotions including those from the past.
  2. visualizations are a great way to change your emotions.  You can visualize a time of forgiveness, a time of joy in your life to move you forward, when feelings are keeping you stuck.
  3. journalling is one of the best emotional healing methods.  When you journal you release feelings out of your system onto a paper (or computer).  In doing so, you have taken them out of your body which frees you to work and enjoy your day. Journalling is particularly useful for healing the effects of abuse since you can keep releasing the hurt or angry feelings each day until they dissipate.
  4. energy healing practices like reiki and eft are also very useful for healing emotional problems because they release energy blocks and create a wonderful feeling of well-being.

Step 4: Finding Perspective

It can help to think of feelings as information and to notice when your feelings come from past or the present experiences.  When the feelings are the result of a past experience transferred onto the present, it is a sign that there is unfinished business in the past that must be dealt with.

The body has its wisdom and in some individuals who have experiences exceptionally abusive situations it will “store” emotions to be processed at a later date if that is what is needed to survive. Severely abused individuals, therefore, will have a lot of blocked energy and a great need for therapeutic solutions.  It is not a fault of people who have been badly abused that they have long-term issues including addiction and take a long time to heal.

Highly sensitive people and severely abused people should accept their healing process as a way of being generous to themselves which may be a new and uncomfortable experience. Engaging in healing practices reduces the potential for long term destructive addiction and other illnesses that are the complications of long term abuse. They also feel good and help us to be at our best.

Anyone who takes responsibility for their healing is part of a larger effort everywhere to reduce abuse and emotional harm on the planet. It is something to be very proud of.

5 Ways That Meditation Is Changing My Life

Zen © by EverJean

I had no expectations from my meditation.I started my practice over 15 years ago after having moved from New Jersey to Virginia. We were living in an old farmhouse on a large farm when I happened to see a presentation by Deepak Chopra on PBS about meditation.I was very curious.When it aired again, I showed it to my husband.  He was intrigued as well.In New Jersey we had started to investigate health for ourselves.  We both worked long hours, traveled for our jobs, and felt tired a lot of the time. Our first health venture was to start juicing.  We sure consumed a lot of vegetable and fruit and it can be expensive!  Then we added vitamins and other supplements.All good as it goes. However I had a hunch that there was more to becoming healthy – that I was missing something. It was the Chopra show on PBS that set me on a different path.

I remember that Deepak Chopra spoke about consciousness in his presentation. Perhaps he validated an experience I had at 18 while walking to a class at Tufts.  I was early morning on a beautiful, sunny fall day. All of a sudden I felt compelled to stop and at that moment I felt the unity of all things. I stood there for quite some time because I found the experience so compelling. I believe that experience was my first taste of the benefits of meditation.

Fifteen years ago as a result of Deepak Chopra’s program, I decided to learn Transcendental Meditation and have been practicing it ever since.  I have to say that I have noticed changes in myself along the way.

Some of the benefits are remarkable, but more often than not they are subtle. These are some of the benefits:

  1. meditation expands you by putting you in touch with the universal field so that you become aware that there is more than you, your thoughts and experiences to be aware of. To some degree, we are all aware of others since we live in a world with lots of other people and creatures. But this is different. Meditation puts you in touch with the universe as a form of awareness and so enables you to see the universe as something intelligent.
  2. meditation enables you to experience the universal field as a home, a place of rest, a benevolence which brings a comfort that that you cannot get from other kinds of security seeking: money, fame, position etc.
  3. meditation aligns you with the universal field and helps you operate in what I call the  ”constructive self”- in alignment with the positive intelligence of the universe. It is therefore a source of comfort to know that you are in a positive place vis-a-vis the rest of the living universe.
  4. meditation helps you realize the positive in you is a natural state.  This was especially important to me since I grew up with a lot of negativity. In realizing the positive in yourself, you also realize that you are not unique in that regard so it helps you soften into daily life. This is one of its most important daily benefits. Meditation helps reduce the feeling of vulnerability that drives so much unhelpful behavior which then lets us help others reduce their fear which in turn creates a more peaceful world.
  5. meditation takes you out of the fear which consumes so much of our lives. For that alone I am grateful.

I am immensely grateful for Transcendental Meditation. I would love to have everyone receive this precious gift.  I believe that we all deserve the experience of benevolence that meditation brings.

Inner Peace For You And Me: A Review Of “Shortcuts To Inner Peace”

 

INNER PEACE © by jopetsy

Do you think inner peace is for people with easier lives, people who are not sensitive like you?

You can’t afford a retreat? Don’t have time to sit for hours in meditation?

Well, I have good news.  Here is a book that makes inner peace accessible for everyone.

I have read the book, Shortcuts To Inner Peace 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity by Ashley Davis Bush which is a recently published book which offers simple exercises to help people find inner peace in everyday life.

What is nice about it is that it is not shortcuts in the way we usually mean them.  These “shortcuts” are very simple exercises to intersperse throughout your day to make the path to inner peace easier.

Ashley Davis Bush is a licensed psychotherapist and grief counselor living in Epping, New Hampshire.  The exercises that she created came from her own life experience of trying to find inner peace and also as an attempt to help people she met in her practice who found it difficult to meditate. Not only does she have a busy practice and large family of five children, but Ms. Bush also suffers from insomnia and panic attacks.

The Shortcuts To Inner Peace book is divided into two main sections:

  1. Your Daily Thread which are serenity exercises designed to be combined with a specific regular daily activity.  Washing hands, having a cup of coffee, taking a shower, or stopping at a red light are just some of the activities around which the book offers opportunities to reduce stress and reclaim our inner wellness. Your Daily Thread includes sections on finding serenity in relationships and sensory experience.
  2. The Peace Portals is the second section of the book that focuses on serenity exercises for four aspects of our being:
    1. physical well being
    2. mental well being
    3. emotional well being
    4. spiritual well being
  3. The book includes appendices that  cross reference the serenity exercises make it easy to locate exercises:
    1. by type: verbal, action and imagination,
    2. by need: mindfulness, developing compassion, improving perspective, improve gratitude,
    3. by situation, extreme stress, anger, anxiety and
    4. by location: home, work and car.

So if you are tired of daily life getting you down get this book and pick one exercise and incorporate it into your day.  Many of the exercises help reframe your perception so picking one where you are having particular difficulty can make you feel a lot better.

I particularly like this approach because it is low on drama but high on results. As a long time practitioner of TM, I know how valuable meditative techniques can be. This book turns everyday events into a meditation. I highly recommend it.

Self Pity And Grieving: 6 Ways To Feel Better

Army Photography Contest – 2007 – FMWRC – Arts and Crafts – Fallin

Self pity and grieving are very different.  Self pity is the stuckness of despair.  It can be a bitter feeling of longing for something you cannot have but need. Often what we want does not seem like too much to ask, which is why self pity can be so painful. Sometimes it feels like the end of the world.

Self pity can be very difficult to handle not just because it can be tied to our dreams but because it is also tied to the expression of the good in ourselves and our natural drive toward self actualization.  So when our dreams – even the simple ones –  do not come true a part of us often loses its optimism and resilience. Self pity is often the loss of our idea of our best self.

Self pity is also funny in a way.  No matter how worked up we get about how the world has done us wrong, and often it has, it always makes us feel worse.  Whatever the problem is does not get better with self pity, so hurting ourselves or someone else never helps. Self pity can cause a lot of harm.

Grieving is different. Grieving is about the loss of something or someone we have had. When we grief we feel the absence of something that lives in our hearts. Grieving is often about a passing of someone or something from our lives as a chapter ends and another begins.

Grieving is sad but does not come with the desperation of self pity. Self pity can occur when we lose something we never had a chance to have.  An example would be the person who lost their parents early in life, and who feels sorry for themselves because their life has been such a struggle because not having parents does in fact make life more difficult. That experience is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the person who loses parents as an adult which causes grief but the loss is an ending.

Self pity and grief are both natural feelings. One is not more justified than the other. Self pity comes with a perception of damage to ourselves and our lives and the wistfulness of what might have been. Self pity is a hurt to our willingness to be a part of life in a positive way, but not getting the chance.  Often the reasons are beyond our control.

Grief can come at a more natural ending point of a phase of life or of a relationship. Grief accepts the transience of life and as such has a more graceful attitude toward change and loss.  Grief has its pain but also its dignity.

Self pity and grief may be different but that does not mean that they are mutually exclusive. But grief at some point diminishes. Because self pity often comes with a lot of anger, it may not end until we forgive.

We live in a culture with few skills for handling negative feelings.  When our unhappy feelings are invalidated they go underground but are still there to be processed. When individuals cannot release those feelings, they may turn to “acceptable” forms of expressing their pain like alcohol and drugs. All feelings including negative ones run their natural course and need to be accepted.  Here are a few techniques for providing for your self pity and grief feelings whether your companions approve or not:

  • a journal can work wonders.  Of course, it should remain private.  I had one at one point, and scribbled my feelings in it which was a more energetic discharge of the feelings that also made my writing unintelligible. That worked for me!
  • meditation will help and I highly recommend making time every day for meditation.
  • embrace whatever you are grieving.  Can you make a shrine that you spend time with to honor your feelings and loss?
  • seek out a therapy group so that you can receive some compassionate care from others.
  • do not relinquish your idea of your best self because you are going through a tough time.  Often in our success driven society it can be hard to appreciate ourselves when we have a setback.  Your best self may have nothing to do with fame or social approval. Framing your journey as part of a larger human story can make acceptance easier.
  • good food and sleep are small acts of caring which do wonders.  Try to care for yourself.
We all deserve the best life we can have.  Part of life is handling our painful feelings. Hopefully this list will help you find a graceful path through sad moments by dignifying your experience and your life.