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Problem Solving

Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Sound familiar? So , how do you begin to change so you will get a better end result? One thought at a time. Sounds silly, but is, nonetheless, true.

Every day, life presents us with situations/lessons in disguise. How you respond to them is entirely up to you, your thought processes, your emotions, and your choices. Sometimes, we feel that circumstances dictate our responses, which can be partially true. I am not referring to “exiting a burning building” or “danger–run!” I am discussing things like an escalating argument where one participates in that escalation. Nowhere is it written that one must respond in kind till a situation gets out of hand. One can always withdraw from the room, decide to keep silent, or even listen with a verbal acknowledgement of what the other person is stating (which is the best way to defuse it according to Anger Management techniques). My Golden Rule which I have used successfully for many years: It takes two to fight – if one is unwilling, it cannot happen.

I am not addressing abuse situations where a victim and an abuser, either through emotional or physical actions, fuse into a deadly dance. Professional help is needed in those cases.

There are situations where we choose our response because of exterior demands: Working with a person with Dementia, sickness, disability, etc. We modify our own words through training, caring, or loving response.

Problem solving can begin as a written exercise, where one sits down with pen and paper (or computer or other electronic device) with the intent of brain-storming ideas for solutions. Then you take each item and contemplate its positive and negative merits. It may take time to really think it through. It can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. It may take several tries to come up with something you are ready, willing, and able to do. Just remember, you need to know that a resolution exists and you can find it, use it, and release that problem through whatever action you deem appropriate.

Just endlessly talking about a problem with numerous people does not change it. In fact, it can magnify it. The more you think about it without any solution that you can believe in, the more it becomes a permanent resident. If that is what you want, keep talking. If not, begin to look for a way to resolve it.

Life is a precious thing. It is more than an endless conundrum of existence, like a hamster in a squirrel cage, going round and round endlessly. One must come up with a different idea if you want out of said cage.

How do you begin? Answer: One step at a time.

Most situations do not change overnight. Yet, persistent effort to accomplish a different outcome does not go unrewarded. Every little bit begins a new synergy, which in and of itself, can accomplish more than going around in that cage another time. It is worthy of your thoughts so that you might find a new way to live.

Are you willing?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

 

Small Steps

Small Steps

 

Dealing With Sickness

Sometimes, out of the middle of nowhere, a health issue pops up. Sometimes it is serious, sometimes not. But whether it is serious or not, it always messes with your mind, attitudes, and emotions. How do you get through it?

It is not an issue of wimping out, having a pity party, or giving up. As long as you are alive, you have to deal with it. How you do that is up to you and nobody else. What does your mind say? What attitudes do you choose to encourage? What emotions do you endure?

Common attitudes vary from looking on the bright side, taking your courage in hand, and do what you have to do to get better, whatever that consists of…be it physical therapy – doing it with a good effort, knowing that what you put in will determine how well it works – take your prescribed medication as you should – change of diet, either temporarily or permanently – asking for help when needed, even if you are independent-minded and do not want to ask – make a list of questions for your physicians – listening to their answers – in short: Doing whatever it takes to achieve your goal of improving and getting better.

Looking on the other side of attitudes, you see an unwillingness to go through the pain of it all, be it exercises from physical therapists,  uncomfortable tests for evaluation, unwillingness to trust your physicians or their advice, inability to cope with it all so you withdraw and do nothing (which is an option, though not a very wise one), just hoping that somebody out there has a magic pill to make it all go away.

So far, I have not found any magic pills. Have you?

I cannot wave a magic wand and make the problems disappear, never to return.

The emotions you deal with can exacerbate an already tough situation, as can your brain. Fear immobilizes – always! Anger is debilitating. (Yes, anger is a component, more than we like to admit.) It can even be a generic anger that this has happened to you.  It is all inside of you, bubbling away like a witch’s brew.

Knowing the cause – be it an accident, exposure to a sickness, or just a problem with your body – rarely helps.

Somehow, you need to find a way that works for you personally. You must seek help to resolve the thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. Books can aid you. Counseling can, too. Venting with a good friend can come to your assistance. Prayers for me are a vital part of it all, requesting them from caring family and friends I know.

When it is a loved one who is ill, it becomes a lot more complicated. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness come unbidden as you watch them suffer. You might be able to paste on that smile while you are in their presence, trying to help where you can, but when you are alone, it can fill your heart with angst and fear. You are not in control of anything. That is when you have to do the same thing as listed above: Get yourself under control. You cannot be of assistance to anybody if you don’t calm yourself first.

I know dear people who are caught in the horns of this dilemma. Denial causes inappropriate reactions, delaying resolution – sometimes permanently – as the condition continues to deteriorate.

It has been said: “The way out is the way through!”

I believe this from the very bottom of my heart. There is no avoiding it. You just have to ask yourself: How am I going to respond to this situation? Examine your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and emotions. They are as important as the symptoms of the illness. You are a whole person, not just an arm, leg, heart, head, or other body part.

With that in mind, perhaps you could start by making a list of them. Then you can look for ways to resolve each one. There is no evading this issue, so deal with it.

The question is: Are you willing? Do you want to look for a resolution? It is within your purview to do it – and you are the only one who can. The problem is well defined. Now look for the answer.

God’s blessings on your journey!

 

 

 

Anger Management

A quote I live by every day: “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.”

I have had at least one person ask me what that means. I just responded, “Lighten up.”

When I was young, my temper would often get the best of me. Then I would dwell on the situation, only making myself more upset by the minute. Often it would take me days to get over some small incident.

Even if someone actually means to do something ornery to you, is a grudge the best way to handle it?

If someone cuts you off in traffic, do you react with anger? Are you still upset at your desk hours later? I figure that  person who cut me off, nearly taking my fender with him, did not actually do it to me — it is a habitual way to drive which is a poor paymaster, eventually causing that person to damage his own vehicle and probably somebody else’s. I bless him on his way.

As I have aged, I grant others the ability to misbehave and make mistakes, knowing that they are doing the best they can at that moment. I do not take it personally. It saves me a lot of wear and tear on my heart and mind because I just do not want to get angry about the situation. When I get angry, I am leaving my center of peace and tranquillity and exchanging it for something that will not be worth the agony it causes. I have to choose to ACT and not REACT. If I have to state something clearly so that a situation is resolved, I do not have to yell or cuss to get my point across. Yet there is no doubt in anyone’s mind what I am communicating.

I took an Anger Management class many years ago. I learned that ACTIVE LISTENING is the key. You repeat back to the person who is yelling at you exactly what you heard. You keep it up. Soon, the volume decreases. People yell because they think you did not hear them. When you repeat what they say, they lose steam. The Anger flows away. You cannot rationalize with an angry person. He/she is not listening to you. You cannot discuss the issues if one person is yelling and not listening. You can even, eventually, agree to disagree and then set another time to actually discuss the issues if it is necessary. I personally had to deal with a very angry 300 pound man who was borderline getting physically violent. The active listening calmed him down until I could ask him to leave. So I know it works.

Anger, in some people, causes them to withdraw as a reaction. They crawl up into a little shell, which only increases the anger expression of whoever is perpetrating the situation. Obviously, that person does not know you are listening to them.  Some people just try to get away from whatever is happening and just run away from the scene as fast as they can. Resolution never occurs.

Bullies love it. We admit that. They like to feel powerful and power-filled. They usually find someone to pick on that is smaller than they are.  They win by intimidation. Some supervisors do that same thing. You cannot interact with them because they know they have POWER. But being quiet like a mouse does not work either as a response. They usually only get worse. Try Active Listening techniques. Perhaps it will help calm the situation.

When someone is angry, it raises their blood pressure, the adrenalin “fight or flight” response, and the wear and tear on the body. It is like a light that goes shooting out at the person or situation. When it is over, one feels empty and drained. If the anger is not expressed properly, however, it turns inward and becomes depression. That is a bad beast to have to deal with.

You can pound on pillows, write a hate letter and shred it, perform physical exercise, imagining that you are stomping out the problem/situation/person. There are lots of ways to exorcise the bad feelings without putting one’s fist through a wall, person, or thing.

I have had three accidents in my life which have impacted my body functioning and hampered how I can do many tasks. I have had to deal with anger over the losses to my healthy body. Life is not fair, and it will never be so. I had to work my way through the anger responses so I could deal with the pain and the situation. That is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary because I choose to be a pleasant person with a smile on my face. Most people will never know what I have gone through and what is happening to my body at any moment. I do not let the pain or the anger control me and dictate what my interaction level will be with others. I choose to overcome it and share the best that is in me with my world.

We are like puppets of the memories we have, registered long ago when we were learning how to interact with our world. We learned how to deal with situations by watching those around us. If we did not have good mentors (and most of us had parents and others around us who are capable of making mistakes), we respond with whatever we learned, good or bad.

Most of the therapy that people pay for is so they can react and interact with their world differently than what they learned when they were small. They want to be able to be more functional. That is a good thing. It is never too late to change, using whatever tools you can find that work for you, be it a book, a good friend, etc.

If you find yourself becoming angry at something or someone, can you stop for even a second before you light that flame of destruction? Can you ask yourself why you are ready to rip somebody’s head off? Can you stop and breathe deeply, trying to calm yourself, your blood pressure, and your “fight or flight” response? That is the purpose for counting to 10, slowly.

Do you remember the scene in the Harry Potter movie where Ron was facing his fears, and he turned the spider into a clown, with roller skates on each leg?  Do you know that anger can be dealt with in the same way? I quietly think about a scene from Alice in Wonderland, looking for the Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit with the pocket watch yelling, “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” Anything that will add levity to the situation until I can regain my perspective. I don’t have to tell anyone what I am up to…I just do it.

When things gets crazy around me, instead of joining the craziness, I just calmly rise in my air balloon, looking at the situation as a spectator. If I choose to ACT, I can then do so. No hint of REACT is there. (Now, if I had a charging tiger to deal with, I would put my adrenalin to good use. But short of that, in real life, there are not many  dangers out there to react to. It is the imaginary dangers that cause the damage, and most of them never happen. We just worry about it all, nonetheless.)

If have been told that I am a very positive person. I work at it. It is not something that happens by chance. I work on my calm attitudes because I want to be part of the answer, not the problem.

Each morning when I get up, I set my sails so that if some errant wind catches me, I can then adjust my sails so I can keep heading towards my destination, whatever that may be for the day. Lots of people can try to huff and puff, and blow me off course…all to no avail. Circumstances can do the same. I still press on with my hand on the helm, charting my course by my belief system and my faith. with prayers always in my heart.

Life happens. We all make mistakes. We have to continually pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

If you find yourself stewing over some situation and not arriving at a peaceful resolution, just know that you have lots of company. The only questions you need to ask yourself are, “Do I want to continue feeling like this? Do I want to change that?” Hanging onto your anger will not solve a thing. It only wears you out from the inside. Is it worth it?

 

Divine Inner Companion

An old hymn from my childhood says, “You’ll never walk alone.” It goes on with, “Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown…”
How many times has that happened to you?
Life rarely comes to us in ways the we like. There are many problems and seemingly irresolvable issues that occur to all of us at one time or another.
Rarely, can we estimate if it is a mountain or a mole hill when we start to climb. As we continue, we can multiply whatever it is and make it an even steeper climb, or we can look at the facts of it (division) and turn it into a mole hill so we can have an easier time of it. The multiplication happens because of the emotions we generate. The division happens when we decide to ACT in lieu of REACT to a problem/situation.

If I turn within and commune with my Divine Inner Companion, I can depend on it that I will ACT. I am more rationale and can see things differently, perceive the situation more clearly, and can come up with a resolution more easily.

In the days of yore, when I was not connected to God, I would stumble along blindly, falling, hurting myself, and wailing away at the Universe because I was unhappy and things were not working. My grief multiplied, exponentially.

My epiphany came like the popular poem:

Footprints

“One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him, and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see  only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

I was never alone. I had just let go of His hand. He was always there for me. I was just disconnected. Life’s problems just wore me out. Only when I turned within and reconnected could I feel His Presence. After the chaos that went on when I was “alone,” I determined that was not for me.

How about you? What form of chaos do you live with daily? Are you feeling alone? Only you can change it. Only you can light your candle so you can see through the darkness and find your path. Are you willing to take that action?

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