Check out this article/radio program: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/23/145525853/when-it-comes-to-depression-serotonin-isnt-the-whole-story
“It was bright pink, cheery…and it almost ruined my day.”
Someone who completed one my past Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction Skills(MBSR) courses called me to share her success in using MBSR to manage intense anxiety triggered by this bright pink, cheery envelope. Naturally, I was intrigued. “What happened?” I asked.
“Well. I got this pink envelope in the mail and it did not have a return address, which was the first trigger for my anxiety. I wondered, ‘Who was sending me this card-sized envelope at the end of July?’ There was no holiday or birthday to be celebrated, so I was suspicious. Then I noticed the handwriting…it looked like an older woman’s handwriting.”
She went on to describe her awareness of her negative, automatic thoughts triggered by The Pink Envelope. She was approaching the anniversary of living in a house that she has rented for 12 years, and with the shaky economy and her husband’s job loss last fall, she was afraid that this pink envelope was a notice from her landlady to increase the rent—or worse—or a 30-day notice to move out. “It looked like her handwriting!”
“In the past this would have totally stressed me out. I might have avoided opening it. The shift in my mood would cause me to be unpleasant to be around, and my poor husband and dog might not receive the quality of my attention they deserve. …and I probably would have gotten an intense headache!”
She went on to share that because she had been practicing formal mindfulness on a regular basis (she learned how to do this in the class) and became aware of her patterns of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, she immediately recognized that The Pink Envelope triggered a cascading and nearly overwhelming stressful bodily response.
“I noticed the tightness in my chest, the shallowness of my breath, the feeling of fear, and the risk of becoming consumed by what was inside of the envelope.” When she noticed this, she was able to take a few deep breaths–just focus on her breathing for a few moments–to restore some control over these sensations. This allowed her to challenge the evidence of her fortune-telling and catastrophizing that The Pink Envelope was something scary.
“I walked inside the house, set the envelope on the table, and with my full attention greeted my husband and my dog who were eagerly waiting for me. Afterward, I decided to face The Pink Envelope. I told myself, I was being ridiculous and asked myself ‘Why would my landlady send me a formal notice in a pink envelope?’
“I grabbed the envelope, tore it open, and discovered a beautiful photo of a friend’s newborn baby/announcement. I took a deep breath, told myself that I was an idiot, rolled my eyes and shook my head at myself. Aware that I was now beating myself up, I took another deep breath, forgave myself, blew it away, and took my dog for a delightful walk!”
No longer consumed by negative thoughts, anxiety, self-judgement or the once-dreaded Pink Envelope, she was able to take in the full experience of her neighborhood, the smell of flowers blooming, the cool breeze against her skin, delighting in her dog’s wonder and curiosity about all of the new smells, and enjoy the remainder of her day.
Online registration will open soon. If you have questions, please call me (619) 379-7450.
We’ve all been there: recipients of unpleasant news or decisions by others that would negatively impact our lives and our feeling of peace. Job loss (or the threat of it); changes to importance relationships through divorce, death, or breaches of trust. Stress is a part of life. Our emotions (negative and positive) are a part of being human. However, sometimes we may find ourselves getting stuck in our stress, unable to move past our difficult circumstances. Sometimes chronic anxiety and depression may ensue. Sometimes people develop stress-related medical conditions. However, it is important to remember that we still have power and choices we can make.
It All Boils Down to Three Simple Choices. We can:
- Continue suffering.
- Try to change the situation or how we feel about the situation.
- Radically accept what has happened.
When we “radically” accept, we are accepting completely, wholly. For most people, acceptance is a process. We don’t just wake up and decide, “Today I will accept ‘xyz’ situation” and not continue to experience stress related to the event. Inevitably, a thought, memory, encounter will trigger the emotions preventing us from accepting, and then we simply must begin the process of accepting again.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you agree with what has happened, but that you accept that a certain set of facts/events have taken place. It involves letting go of fear and anger. To radically accept, we might have to “let go” over and over. When we move into acceptance, we can take back our power and begin to take the necessary steps to improve our circumstances and rebuild our lives.
If you need help with accepting and letting go, you might benefit from individual and confidential counseling or psychotherapy. Another alternative is taking a stress-reduction course that helps you become calm and grounded within yourself.
Wow. MBSR. I cannot wait to start teaching the next course. MBSR skills are very powerful for becoming centered, grounded, reducing anxiety,quieting the mind, and taking attention away from pain and suffering. For more information and to read A Powerful Story of MBSR Working at Death’s Door, visit: www.WhyMBSR.WordPress.com.
Becoming Relationship Smart—Tired of bad relationships? Want to try to fix the relationship you are in? Overcome what’s getting in the way of enjoying authentic and healthy relationships.
Choosing to Be Childless— Men and Women: Confused? Feeling alone and judged? Obtain clarity and support for this difficult decision and its impact to your relationships and well-being.
Communication Skills Coaching—What to Say, and How to Say It—Create effective communication strategies for those really difficult situations. Coaching for individuals, employers, and Human Resources Managers.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training (DBT)—DBT includes skill development in Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Acceptance, Letting Go, and Mindfulness. Skill development in psychotherapy improves self-esteem, induces effective action, and reduces anxiety and depression.
Men in Transition: Career, Economy, Finances, Fitness and Relationships—Feeling stuck? Let’s face it. You don’t climb Mount Everest without the guidance and skills of a quality Sherpa. Experience the adventure of solution-focused therapy/coaching to discover how to get “unstuck” in a confidential and supportive environment. You can have both your feelings and masculinity. Your wife, girlfriend, or partner will love the results too.
Mental Wellness and Prevention—Psychotherapy focused on eliciting lifestyle choices to enhance physical and mental health. This is a great supplement to medication treatment for physical and mental health conditions.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)—Deeply restorative practice of awareness and following the breath, for individuals, groups and staff development. Be here now. Get out of the past. Stay out of the future.
Multicultural Therapy—Achieve peace and well-being by overcoming the inner conflicts and the interpersonal challenges associated with straddling two or more cultures.
Women’s Wellness—Individual therapy and Group Retreats focused on the unique needs of women’s mental health and well-being, including the challenges faced by women who choose to be childless.
Call (619) 379-7450 to schedule an appointment.
For more information about Kim and her practice visit: http://Therapists.PsychologyToday.com/rms/47272