An important truth about feelings

An idea occurred to me a couple of weeks ago which I want to share with others suffering from depression. It is this:
 
Negative, painful feelings are NOT “evidence” that one is a worthless person, NOR are they “predictors” that one’s future will be a miserable failure. They are not realiable measures of “reality.” They are just feelings!
 
What evidence do I have for this claim? Think about the last time you had an AMAZINGLY fun day. How did it make you feel? Did you feel positively about yourself? Did your good mood make you feel hopeful and enthusiastic about your life? Now imagine hypothetically that the very next day you ended up in a very sad, dark place in your mind. Imagine that it made you very self-critical. Let’s assume that it made you feel that there was NOTHING to look forward to but a lifetime of depression.
 
Now ask yourself these questions: Did something fundamentally change about your self worth (your value as a unique living, breathing human being) from day one to day two?  NO!  Did your ACTUAL future suddenly become dark from one day to the next?  No!  Your future remained wide open.  What happened then?  Your mood changed–that is all!  NOT your worth, and NOT your future!

Let’s remember this next time we’re hurting:  “It’s just a feeling.  This, too, shall pass.”
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Good News!

Yesterday I was headed on the Frontrunner to SLC (intended destination: airport) and somehow mistook the North Temple stop for a stop further south. When the train started moving again and I looked up from my phone to see that there were very few passengers still in our car, I asked a fellow passenger which stop that had been. When he confirmed that it had indeed been North Temple, I jumped up hoping to find a way to get off the train. Not possible, a Frontrunner employee told me (she’d just walked into our car): “Once the train starts moving, it doesn’t stop until the next stop.”
 
I tried to not panic.  Knowing I had some flexibility in my schedule, I would just go to the Woods Cross stop (10 minutes to the north), switch sides of the track, and take a southbound train to North Temple.
 
When I checked the UTA Trip Planner to get an estimated arrival time at the airport under such an arrangement, however, I began to worry. The southbound train wouldn’t show up for another 45 minutes–putting my arrival time at the airport within 30 minutes of my scheduled flight to Denver. If the security line was long, I’d miss my flight.
 
While not happy about the thought of having to pay $30-35 to Uber to get a ride to the airport, I was relieved to think that at least I had that option (which would provide me more peace of mind than the cutting-it-close train schedule would).
 
I went to the Uber website and quickly got frustrated that I couldn’t remember the password I’d created a year or so ago when I’d last used their services. At this moment (as I’m typing this), I realize that it would have been very fast and simple to request a new password from Uber. But yesterday my brain was flooded with Cortisol and I was not thinking clearly. Feeling anxious and antsy, I was afraid I’d waste a bunch of time trying to remember the password only to have there be no Uber drivers around (since the Woods Cross Frontrunner station wasn’t near any major roads). I wanted to start heading south NOW.
 
I decided I’d try to hitchhike. Maybe someone would at least take me to a freeway onramp, where another someone would pick me up and take me to the North Temple station . . .
 
Walking from the train station to the closest city street, I tried practicing emotional intelligence to manage my anxiety: “What am I feeling right now? I’m feeling anxious. Frustrated. Worried. Self-critical. Curious if I’ll get a ride. How do I WANT to feel about this situation? I want to find the hidden blessing. Let’s see . . . This experience will help me be more empathetic and understanding the next time someone I know makes a similar silly mistake. I’ll be able to say, ‘I know how that happens. Frustrating, though, isn’t it?! Hard to believe you missed something so obvious.'”  I smiled to myself then, thinking, Erik is going to laugh and shake his head when he learns that I’ve hitchhiked again!
 
This kind of thinking brought me a measure of peace, and I felt slightly more relaxed as I stuck out my thumb to ask for a ride.  Look confident, not pathetic, Shaunalei, I told myself.
 
The third car to pass pulled over. I briefly explained to the woman what had happened. Then–feeling my emotions well up–I warned her, “I may cry–this is so stressful.” She was patient with my tears and reassured me that she was happy to help.

As she began to drive, she told me that she had left her job in Woods Cross early because she wasn’t feeling well.  (She is 37 weeks pregnant and suffering from kidney stones, poor thing!)  She said she lives in Eagle Mountain so would be taking I-15 south.  “Oh, you’re not feeling well.  I don’t want to inconvenience you!” I told her.  “You can drop me off wherever is convenient for you.”  She again reassured me that she was happy to help and would be able to take me to the airport.  I couldn’t believe her generosity!  To make small talk, I asked her about her pregnancy, if she has other children, about her commute, where she intends to give birth, etc. 

Within ten minutes or so we were nearing the airport, and I turned to her.  “I don’t have any cash to pay you, Amy, but I’d be happy to send you money right now via PayPal.”  She didn’t want me to pay her.  I tried again.  “Do you need anything for the baby?  I could order something on Amazon for you,” I offered.  “I’m fine,” she said.  “You don’t need to give me anything.”

“Would it be all right with you,” I asked her, “if I allude to your kindness today on Facebook?  We’ve had such sad news recently that I would like to share the story of your kindness with others.  Not only have you helped me today, I think your kindness will help others, too, to remember that the world is full of good people.”

She smiled and consented.

Today I honor and share the Good News of Amy’s kindness!  May her influence for good radiate out from this moment to bless and inspire others with the truth that there is an ocean of love to be shared–drop by drop in small acts of kindness.

Thank you, Amy of Eagle Mountain.  Thank you for helping make the world a kinder, friendlier place.  My heartfelt wishes go out to you for a safe, healthy delievery of your baby in the coming week(s).  Your children are blessed to have you as their mother!

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On minimizing contention in the home

A friend recently asked the question on Facebook, “What do you all do to stop contention in your home? I need ideas. My normal isn’t working.”

I shared these ideas with my friend:

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1. When I step back and approach the challenge thoughtfully, I remember the importance of managing external stressors (as much as possible) and encouraging everyone to get enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food. An individual’s wellbeing is often self-expressed as positive or negative behavior toward family members. When a child is being mean to another family member, it’s a invitation to ask: “I wonder what is going on in my child’s body and emotional world . . .”

2. Rather than just penalizing a disruptive child, I sometimes remember to give him/her some of my 1:1 time (either immediately or later that evening) and listen as she/he vents about the tough stuff going on. (Likewise important to give the kids who are negatively impacted by the disruptive child time to talk/vent with me.)

3. The old adage is often true: “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” My own negativity can influence the tone in the home, I feel. Rather than giving full attention to what is going wrong in my life, I hope to practice noticing what is going right–which feels much more hope-filling and peace-giving. Realizing that arguments among siblings is normal and happens in every family also helps to minimize my anger, worry, and judgment about my family life.

4. The normalcy of kids fighting doesn’t mean I become apathetic to it–however. It can drive me crazy at times! Rather than taking it personally and be driven crazy by it, would that I would step forward as a resource for the kids by asking questions like: “Did you know that many kids fight with their brothers and sisters? Why do you think that is?” “Is yelling at your brother/sister working? Are you successfully convincing them of whatever it is you want? Have you tried anything other than yelling? Would you like a few ideas?” (etc.)

5. This idea worked once (time to return to using it!): “I understand, [child’s name], that you want ____________________. Would it be all right if ___________________________?”

You have my love and sympathy, [name withheld]! I am, as you well know, not an expert at maintaining the peace in my home. Just a fellow explorer in the exciting journey called raising a family! Thanks for the invite to consider strategies for promoting sibling amicable-ness. Best wishes, my friend!

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I’d love to hear your ideas, too!  (Especially with regard to helping teen boys talk respectfully to one another.)  What’s worked in your home?

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