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Many people give themselves permission to be mean to themselves.
Suppose you were walking along in a park and you heard one person saying things like:
“Who do you think you are?”
“Nobody likes you.”
“Go ahead and try it! You’re going to fall flat on your face.”
Toxic stuff, huh? You would probably be appalled if you heard another person say these things out loud to another person. You might even say something, “Hey! Leave him alone!” Most likely the hateful words would leave an impression on you – one that might last throughout the day. You might ask yourself, “How could someone be so cruel?”
If you are like most people you think things like this to yourself often. Why? Well, there are several reasons which I will discuss at length in the Happiness 101 class on June 7th called Befriending Your Inner Critic. Not only will you learn to identify your inner critic but instead of shutting it off, you can actually make it your ally! For now, I ask you to just be aware of this voice that says these awful things to you. What does it sound like? When is it most likely to spew its negativity? Though it sounds like the voice of authority, it is not in charge. YOU are. On June 7th, I will help you regain control over this important part of your life.
In the meantime, use the formula we use in Happiness 101:
Be mindful – be aware of the voice of the inner critic
Explore your options. What choices take you further away from happiness and which bring you closer? You can let the inner critic spew on or you can DO something about it.
Make your choice.
Implement your choice.
My hope is that you would put a stop to the internal abuse. One suggest is you can think or say “Stop!” – the same thing you might do in the scenario above.
Please. Be kind to yourself – at LEAST as kind as you would be to a stranger.
Licensed Professional Counselor
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In my experience as as a counselor, I find poor communication to be the culprit in most marital strife. As part of that miscommunication is: the signal sent is not necessarily the signal received. One of the most damaging of these miscommunications is a distortion in the language of love. Take a moment to consider:
How do you really feel love? Think of times where someone has done or said something that REALLY made you feel loved.
Conversely, how do you express love? If you want someone to know that you really love them, what do you do or say?
Suppose the way you say “I love you” is via gifts but the way your mate feels “I love you” is by spending quality time? Then your gift may not be appreciated and worse yet your mate may not feel loved. Maybe said mate is trying to tell you “I love you” by asking to spend time together, but you are too busy earning the money to buy the gift which you hope will let them know how much you really love them. In the meantime your mate may feel unloved.
The 5 Love Languages
In his book, The 5 Love Languages
, Gary Chapman
does an excellent job of explaining the five different languages of love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts and acts of service. On his website (www.5lovelanguages.com
) you can take a brief test to find out what your primary love language(s) is/are. You can find his book at the local Borders
or Barnes & Noble
. I recommend reading it together. You can (literally) get on the same page, Kindle
and rekindle the flames of love in no time.
Licensed Professional Counselor
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A must for harnessing your Happiness is taking responsibility for it.
In Happiness 101, we have four rules: no blame, no shame, no guilt and no complaining. These were dubbed the Happiness Robbers but Marci Shimoff in her book Happy For No Reason. The earmark of a Happiness Robber is avoidance of full responsibility, opting instead to be mired down in victim hood. It is important to clarify that there IS a time and place for blame, shame, guilt and complaining. But when they are used as excuses to avoid taking responsibility for your life and your Happiness. This can be easier said than done. On the one hand, taking full responsibility means that you have the power to make changes and that can feel VERY empowering. However, this also means that IT’S ALL ON YOU to make choices that will make you happy. Let’s face it: it is easier and more convenient to blame our spouse, our boss or our friends for our predicament. The price we pay, however, is remaining stuck and feeling helpless – a victim.
You might say “Oh, but I REALLY do not have control over this situation. I am stuck and there is nothing I can do.” The answer is the serenity prayer. If you have never heard it, I offer it to you now:
“Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” So, if I am blaming my unhappiness on the recession, then I am powerless to be happy because the economic state of the nation is beyond my control. However, I AM in control of my personal finances and I am in control of my attitude. Sometimes what we have control over may be in question. Do you have control over your spouse, your boss or your friends? No. Our sphere of direct control is really quite limited. Of course we can help or hinder various processes through our behavior, but do we honestly have control? For instance, I can work hard, always show up for work and laugh at all of the bosses jokes, but does that mean I will get the promotion? Maybe but maybe not. We can do things in hopes of achieving a certain result, but many times that hoped-for result is out of our control.
I know. This can be very challenging to think about how limited your control really is. However, in my practice as a therapist, I see people frustrated and feeling depressed because they are attempting to control something that is not within their control while ignoring the things that truly ARE within their control (Disclaimer: I am not thinking of anyone specific as I write this – promise!). If we take control of our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, WE control our happiness.
A wonderful example of this is Nelson Mandela (see recent movie review of Invictus). Here was a man wrongly imprisoned for 27 years. I don’t think anyone would have blamed him for being bitter and/or hateful. But Nelson Mandela refused to be a victim of his oppressors. He recognized that though he was imprisoned that he was the master of his fate, the captain of his soul.
Now that you have this knowledge, I challenge you to take full responsibility for your life -AND your Happiness.
~Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor
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On the issue of forgiveness, the founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman said “Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.”
In her book, The How of Happiness Sonja Lybuomirsky lists forgiveness as one of the 12 Happiness Habits, but admits it is the most difficult one to do.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about forgiveness. It is not to condone the offender. Forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself, taking back your own power, severing the control the transgressor has over you and your happiness. Understanding forgiveness is only part of the battle. We are not readily taught HOW to forgive. This Forgiveness Group will give participants an opportunity to learn more about forgiveness but more importantly HOW to do it.
Those wishing to attend the Forgiveness Group will need to consult with myself to ensure appropriateness and a good fit for the purpose of the group. This consultation will take 10-15 minutes and is offered free of charge. Cost of the group will be $25 for 1.5 hours of group time. This will be a closed group. This means that once it has begun, new people wishing to join will have to wait until the next group begins (apx six months). This group will meet twice a month, on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 7pm. Location: 220 East 3900 South #7, Salt Lake City. To arrange a consultation or if you have any questions, E-mail me at email@example.com or call 877-476-6338 for recorded information.
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Grief is tough. Two of the toughest parts of grief is feeling alone and not knowing how to grieve. In our fast-paced world, we are given very little time to work through our grief. This can leave us feeling like we “should be over it by now”. There are a lot of right ways to grieve. The only real way to do it “wrong” is to attempt to avoid it. Ironically and sadly, this prolongs the process. I have worked with many people recently who are struggling with unresolved grief. Specifically grief over the death of a loved one that occurred over a year ago and they are having difficulty getting past it. This unresolved grief obviously thwarts efforts to be happy.
To alleviate feelings of isolated, lonely grief and to help educate mourners on the process of grief, I offer the Unresolved Grief Group. Most of the work done in regards to grief occurs outside of the therapeutic arena. Therefore, this group will be offered once a month, to give mourners an opportunity to do the work needed between groups.
This will be a closed group. This means that once the group has begun, newcomers will not be allowed into the group. Those who attend are making a commitment to show up each month for 12 months. Group members must be screened by me to determine whether the person is appropriate and a good fit for the group. Such a consultation will be 10-15 minutes in length and that consultation will be free of charge. The cost of the group will be $25 for each group which is expected to last approximately one and half hours. The group will be held at my office (220 East 3900 South #7) on the first Wednesday of each month. To set up a consultation or if you have any questions, please E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-476-6338 for recorded information
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Right now, I feel angry. I won’t bother with the details but rest assured, I am very, very angry.
Does this mean I am no longer a happy guy? No. It means that right now I am experiencing anger.
Ever the therapist (even in the midst of this anger) I take my cues from Tal Ben-Sharar, the professor teaching happiness at Harvard. In his book, Happier, Professor Ben-Sharar purports that all of our feelings are valid and that to resist these natural feelings is to continue to be snared in them – or you may have heard it phrased “What you resist, persists”. So rather than “shoulding” on myself and telling myself “You’re the Happy Therapist! You shouldn’t feel anger!” I am feeling it. I notice that as I gave myself permission to feel what I am feeling at this moment, I felt intense anger for several minutes and gave myself permission to vent. I further noticed that the feelings are disappating surprisingly fast. I couldn’t keep up that initial level of anger even if I wanted to. I feel better. Not calm. Not cool. Not “over it”, but definately better.
I share this experience with you to help dispell some of the myths of Happiness. Being a Happy person does not mean that I/we go about with a cartoonish smile painted on our face at all times. Happy people get over feelings such as sadness or anger faster than their unhappy counterparts (Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness). Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go scream into a pillow.
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Today we honor the heros and the fallen of 9/11.
As a nation we have grieved the events of that tragic day.
As a therapist, when it comes to grief, I only give people one piece of advice: be where you are in the grieving process. If today you feel sadness, please honor that by feeling it and expressing it. Being where you are on the path is how you reach acceptance. Even when you reach acceptance you may see or hear something that may stir up feelings of anger or sadness. Again, I urge you to be where ever you are in the process. Of course, this means feeling it. If you are feeling angry, I ask that you express it in a healthy way – not in any way that might hurt another emotionally or physically. Healthy expressions of anger could be talking to a trusted person, journalling or using your anger to do something constructive.
Today, you can go to the Patriot Day Healing Field in Sandy to remember the fallen and the heroes of 9/11.
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There seems to be some misperceptions about what Happiness is. Some people have a resistence to being happy because they think that happy people are living in a fantasy world. They wonder how can people be happy with so many bad things going on in the world? Of course there are bad things happening in the world. There are also inspiring miracles happening every day. Both are occuring in the “real world”. The question is: which one do you want to give your focus? Bad news sells. So our papers and our evening news are brimming with the stuff. There are plenty of good things going on as well if you are looking for it. One such example is www.happynews.com Which “reality” do you prefer to live in? Of course you might choose some of each.
Another misperception about happy people is that we never feel angry, upset, frustrated or sad. If you give that belief a little more thought, it does not stand up well to scrutiny. People who are generally sad or angry still experience moments of happiness – just a lot less frequently.
Attached is an excerpt from the “Happy Hour” – a class about Happiness. You can listen to the entire first class by clicking on the link here on this site. I hope you will join us Mondays at 5pm. You can always call 801-262-0317 up updated recorded information.