Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Grief, Healing and Wholeness

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined the five stages of grief in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Grief is a deeply personal process and each individual experiences it on their own terms. Some may endure all five stages, others only a portion; some progress in a seemingly reasonable period of time, for others the process is much slower. In any case, it is important to recognize that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and no time frame that is considered normal. It is equally important to understand that grief, like every other emotions, fluctuates. One is not condemned to a lifetime of suffering from the loss of a loved one. Likewise, the grief process does not simply apply to human loss: loss of a pet, a lifestyle, a career, a home, estrangement – each can trigger the five stages of grief. With the proper resources, support, and attitude one can embrace an emotional and spiritual healing and be restored to wholeness.

The Five Stages of Grief:
Denial: a numbing sense of disbelief, refusal to accept the facts. This defense mechanism is used to avoid feeling pain. Shock serves to protect the individual from becoming overwhelmed all at once and can last for several weeks.

Anger: As the shock dissipates, one experiences intense pain and suffering. Although unbearable, it is critical to acknowledge pain rather than try to suppress or deny it. This is a critical period when some individuals may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their emotions. However, feelings do not heal spontaneously. They need to be identified and worked through. The root of anger is hurt, fear, and/or frustration. Any or all of these are part of the grief process. Anger towards others (“who can I hold accountable for their death?”), anger at the self for what was said or done that shouldn’t have happened (hurt) or what one failed to say/do, words left unspoken (regret/guilt). Fear (“what will happen now, how can I live without them?”); frustration (“I couldn’t save them.”) Self-pity may also surface during this stage.

Bargaining: Bargaining with God is a tool used to pull oneself out of despair. (“If you just bring my husband back I promise to go to church every Sunday!”) We seek to restore some sense of power over the situation that we feel has been taken from us.

Depression: Months after the loss it is not uncommon to experience periods of depression and deep sadness. The magnitude and finality of what has occurred sets in and some may withdrawn from family and friends. Melancholy brought on by time spent reflecting on certain aspects of your lives together can lead to feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and despair. It’s critical at this time to reach out to others for support. Isolation can lead to more serious problems.

Keep in mind, that these stages do not necessarily occur in order nor are they complete once you’ve experienced them. It is not uncommon to revisit those emotions that you thought had been put to rest.

Acceptance: In this the final stage of the grieving process one reaches a point of acceptance, a quiet recognition of reality, an objectivity that allows for a clearer view of what is still good about life. There is oftentimes a sense of emotional calmness and inner peace.

Healing And Wholeness
One need not suffer indefinitely from a significant loss. There is hope to restore wholeness and a sense of joy to your life. Here are some additional suggestions:
• Understand that death is a natural process of life. It is not an end but rather a transition from the physical (temporary) world back to pure spirit (eternal).
• Put your focus on feeling gratitude for the time you spent together.
• Honor your loved one’s life by doing something in memory of them.
• Seek the lessons in the loss: to love more freely, to appreciate those while they are present and let them know; to forgive more readily, and so on.
• Replace the pain of your loss with the warmth of fond memories.
• Allow God to heal your heart and mind from your loss.
• Use this experience to bring you into a deeper understanding of our loving Father. All healing comes from the Divine. He will provide all of your needs so rest peacefully in His loving care.

Psalms 39: 7 “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”

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Dealing With Insults Effectively

My husband is brutal: he teases and torments me unmercifully. But I’m just as bad. From the moment we wake up until we crawl exhausted into bed at the end of the day, we are constantly harassing one another. In fact, the first words out of his mouth as he opens his eyes at 5 am are “Are you annoying me yet?” To which I respond, “I can begin whenever you want.” Or perhaps I’m feeling more considerate at that moment: “I’m trying really hard not to but it’s not working.” If, later in the day, he asks why I’m being so irritating I simply reply, “Because you make it so easy for me!” Then we both have a good laugh. It doesn’t matter how many times we repeat this exact scenario, we still find it hilarious. We know each others funny bones intimately and are well aware of what each person is comfortable with in terms of teasing as well as what crosses the line. I can tell simply by his body language if I’ve gone to far. It may be that I’ve touched upon something sensitive or perhaps he’s simply not in the playful zone at that moment. Either way, I immediately acknowledge my lack of sensitivity and apologize. He, like each of us, decides what is and isn’t amusing to him or when something, once taken in jest, has lost its lighthearted component.

But how can one know if a cutting remark is playful banter or a biting insult? There are a few key elements that distinguish the two. To insult is “to treat with indignity or contempt; to injure or offend; rude” – powerful words all indicative of disrespect with an attempt to harm. Good natured, witty, and joking are words used to define banter, quite a contrast from a verbal slur. In addition to one’s choice of words, intent is critical in determining whether a comment is impudent or witty. Your best friend may refer to you as crazy. Insult or banter? If that term suggests that you are mentally imbalanced and possibly dangerous you would probably take offense. However, if she was referring to your unpredictable, free-spirited, and fun-filled behavior you may very well delight in her assessment.

Prior to engaging in playful banter, consider the following:
o Know person’s level and style of humor before making any remarks.
o Pay careful attention to your motive: is it playful, light-hearted; intended to make the other person laugh?
o Avoid sensitive topics or anything that may be perceived as offensive or impolite.
o Be certain the individual is in a jovial mood.
o Check your sarcasm at the door. Sarcasm is not humor – it is passive/aggressive anger.

The following characterize insulting behavior:
o You seek to get reaction out of other party, to exert power and control over their feelings and actions; symptomatic of bullying behavior.
o Your comments are embarrassing, humiliating, hurting or causing discomfort to the intended party.
o Your comments are unkind, disrespectful, negative, and serve no productive purpose.

If in fact, you are subjected to derogatory statements, take positive action:
o First and foremost, seek to understand why their comments bother you. This experience can truly be an enlightening moment if you allow it to be. Ask yourself, “What within me needs to heal?”
o Speak up, be assertive. Inform the other person that you do not care for what they are saying to or about you. Set and enforce firm and reasonable boundaries.
o Remove yourself from the individual or situation. Re evaluate if it is in your best interest to continue having a relationship with them and if so, to what extent.
o Remember, their comments are not reflective of you but rather are a portal to their issues. Forgive them for their insensitive remarks.

Conversation needn’t be stuffy or restricted. One can speak openly and honestly to others even concerning sensitive issues. But when words hurt, we need to take a step back, re examine ourselves, consider the motives behind such statements, and choose how we interpret and respond to them. Words can fill our souls with joy and laughter or rip our hearts to pieces. So choose them wisely for once spoken they can never be retracted. And the effects can be long-lasting.

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How to Start and/or Stop an Argument

Being a part of any relationship for a period of time affords an individual the opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t with each respective person. I may be able to discuss politics with Uncle Joe but Aunt Sue? Never! He’s open minded to other people’s views and enjoys a lively debate. Aunt Sue, on the other hand, is opinionated, is a right-fighter (one who always has to be right as Dr. Phil refers to them), and becomes nasty with those who disagree with her. I can joke around with my husband and refer to him as my “hairless honey” but my friend Steve is very sensitive about his lack of locks.

One of my favorite topics to discuss is God. I’m madly in love with Him and like a teenage who’s fallen in love for the first time, I can’t stop thinking and talking about Him. But try to have a discussion about our Lord with a defensive non believer and you may be in for a rough ride. (I learned that lesson the hard way on facebook – some of them can get down-right ugly!)

We all know what topics we can discuss with certain people and which ones to avoid. We also know what turns a harmless discussion into a vicious argument. (A disagreement is not synonymous with argument by the way. The first is simply a difference of opinion. The latter engenders hostility and sometimes aggression.) Granted, there are those who love the drama – they seek out opportunities to incite a good fight. I’m not one of them. While I enjoy a good debate, I abhor arguing and will do my best to avoid it. Then, too, there are some who engage in a discussion and wonder why every conversation results in quarreling and hurt feelings. “People are so sensitive! Everything you say they take the wrong way.” They fail to recognize their own contributions to the contamination of the dialogue.

Here are some surefire tips to convert any conversation into an argument:
• Know what issues the other party is sensitive to or passionate about. Engage one of those topics for discussion.
• Know what to say or do to provoke them, being certain to push their buttons whenever possible.
• Infuse a hefty dose of criticism, sarcasm, and insults. Insert a few expletives and round it off with a threat or two for good measure.
• Always be right. Never admit to being mistaken about anything.
• Be as arrogant and close minded as possible. Never listen to or consider the other person’s position.
• Exaggerate and embellish whenever possible. This will certainly destroy your credibility.

If you would prefer to keep things civil, try the following:
• Refuse to engage in highly sensitive or provoking topics. Don’t initiate or participate in them regardless of how much the other party persists.
• Stay out of other people’s business. If it does not concern you do not be concerned.
• If necessary, walk away before the conversation turns nasty.
• Remain open and respectful of the other person’s position. Acknowledge their feelings, beliefs, and needs even if you don’t understand or agree with them.
• Be sensitive and kind but firm when necessary. When speaking, be crystal clear and judiciously concise.
• Carefully choose your words, tone of voice, and attitude. Always consider how they would sound to you if the other party said them.
• If the situation becomes heated, know what to say or do to calm things down. A simple validation is often enough. “I can see how important this issue is to you.”
• Don’t take personal offense to what the other party is saying. Their behavior mirrors their inner self and is in no way a reflection of you.

Discussions are a vital aspect of every healthy relationship and enable individuals to acquire greater knowledge of one another, the issue at hand, to find resolution whenever necessary. They also serve as a means to strengthen the rapport between all parties. With a few simple techniques and a bit of restraint, anyone can keep a dialogue civil and productive.

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