Jinx

I often tend— to little avail— to withhold my enthusiasm in case life doesn’t go as planned (or hoped). I say, “I don’t want to jinx it,” or “I don’t want to get my hopes up,” and then I minimize my excitement or squash it entirely— as if me being happy about something could change the outcome. It’s unfortunate, I’ve realized, and dates to childhood experiences when I got excited about things and then found out they weren’t going to happen. As a kid, I didn’t have the coping skills to handle the disappointment, and when I shared my frustration, I often received messages in line with, “Well, you shouldn’t have gotten so excited,” or something to that effect. My little kid brain translated that as it being my fault it didn’t go the way I wanted, and therefore my unhappiness was also my fault. We didn’t get to go on that outing I wanted, I didn’t get the toy I wanted, or I didn’t get to have the quality time with that person I wanted to spend it with. That’s a lot of responsibility for a kid, that somehow my excitement could control the outcome of a situation.

In adulthood, I have realized it is a horrible way to look at things! Not only does it deprive me of joy for what very well may come to be, but if it doesn’t happen or doesn’t go as planned, I end up blaming myself anyway. I’m not suggesting anyone should always assume the best possible outcome. In fact, I’m saying the outcome doesn’t matter! If someone is excited or happy about something that might happen, I think they should experience that excitement or happiness. Celebrate the possibility.

I am relatively open about my recovery from addiction with clients and comrades, and I feel safe to share that here as well. I believe my experience helps me be a better therapist and the work I do on staying clean helps me be a healthier human being. There is a lot to be excited about on this healthy path. And yet, sometimes I notice myself not wanting to overstate my enthusiasm about my clean time. It’s not as significant a number as many others I know, and there’s this underlying fear if I celebrate too loudly, I will jinx myself. Somehow happiness means I will become instantly complacent, ruining my motivation and dooming me to a relapse. It’s not the most positive outlook, and I must remember that the point of this journey is not the destination. It’s what I’ve done to help myself, what I’m doing to continue, and where I am now as a result. If I can’t be happy about that, what’s the point?

When I picture myself getting to the desired destination in my life, and I see that I’ve lived in fear the entire way, the whole trip almost seems like a waste. When I allow myself to embrace the possibility, I am more likely to act as if it could occur and continue making decision in my life that encourage the direction of that positive outcome.

For now, it comes back to the moment. When I am overconcerned with the results, bogging myself down with what is beyond my control, I sacrifice my own joy. I must be mindful and responsible with my self-care, and part of that care is permitting that happiness. When my pessimism speaks up, reminding me not to get my hopes up, I must champion for my joy. I envision my inner child, thrilled about some new adventure that might come to be. Rather than telling her to tame her excitement, I must be the adult who guides her though it. In case the event does not come to occur, I must help her with the let-down. She can handle it. I’ve handled it before, and I can do it again. That fact alone should permit me to celebrate potential and not fear the outcome. Life is much fuller for it.

The Work

Continuing with the theme from last week, I wanted to share a deeper element of the theory of the relationship-with-self. My approach to treating myself like I would a partner started with this aspect, in fact.

It started with couple’s work. In helping couples heal, I have come to believe that if a couple is not working on bettering their relationship in some active way, they are inadvertently hurting their relationship.

As people change and grow and their individual needs differ, the needs of a relationship also change. The routines of daily life, stagnant as they may be, do not prevent people from adapting. Work alters us, even if it feels redundant, we are influenced by every interaction and task, instantly or over time. We also have interests outside of work, hobbies, and friendships that affect us as individuals. Those aspects influence who we are as people. Age is also a factor. Our brains develop as we grow older. We never stop changing due to neuroplasticity. New input adjusts the wiring of our brains and the habits we follow strengthen or deconstruct neural pathways. As a result, our needs within a relationship are fluctuating too. Even when it feels like everything is sailing smoothly, we may be unconsciously hurting our relationship.

When we settle for disconnect and patterns that feel unhealthy, we are damaging that bond with the person we love. When we sacrifice authenticity to avoid rocking the boat, or lie to ourselves about our disappointments, we hurt ourselves and the couple. We can invite our partners to grow with us or we can enable the status quo with complacency. I am not suggesting anyone should be brutally honest all the time, of course. It is so necessary to find out the healthiest ways of communicating which differ from person to person, and then practicing them with some consistency. It’s a lot of work. The work. And it never really ends, in my opinion.

The same applies within the relationship-with-self. If we are to treat ourselves like we are healthy partners, we must challenge ourselves to grow, identify our patterns and behaviors that aren’t always healthy, and to get to know ourselves a little more. That work can take so many different forms, just like it can with any relationship. Work in a couple doesn’t have to mean strenuous emotional conversations filled with tearful confessions, it can mean trying something new together, or a sharing of ideas, learning about one another. And so in an effort to learn more about ourselves, we might take on new creative projects, classes, or training, we might be vulnerable with someone and step out of our comfort zone. There are so many ways to work on this self-learning, and all require honesty. We must acknowledge and address whatever feelings arise as we step into new territory in order to be good partners to ourselves. If we ignore it, I believe we are essentially neglecting that person we love.

When we become stagnant in life and that inner reflection is moved to the backburner, we can unconsciously damage our relationship with the most important person in our lives, ourselves. If we are constantly changing, there is always more to learn. The adage that we must love ourselves before we love another is not inaccurate but means so much more. Love isn’t simply kindness and affection, love is curiosity and compassion. Love is interest and attention. It’s quite simple, and yet, we so often deprive ourselves of it when we do not prioritize our relationship with ourselves.

The work isn’t always pleasant or fun with an actual partner or within our own mind. It takes effort and energy. The status quo requires much less of us, and it can feel good in a self-indulgent way. Sometimes isolation and sadness or giving in to irrational and resentful thinking feels gratifying, though I think most would agree they do not feel healthy. When we get stuck in those places— which I believe are the undoubted destinations when we put ourselves on the backburner— it’s difficult to get unstuck. The amount of effort needed to get the ball rolling with healthy endeavors, self-care, and mending the relationship- with-self is much harder. Comparatively, if you stop talking to your partner for a week after a conflict, it might take a bit of time to regain their trust. There might need to be extra steps taken to show one’s commitment. The same applies here and that hurtle can prolong suffering.

I’ll call myself out as an example. I went an entire year without writing any articles or entries to this page. My inspiration was lacking, and I did not address what needs of mine were not being met. Instead, I dove into work in other ways that didn’t require me to look inward. My effort was successful for a while. I was productive and my productivity was rewarded, but I felt the massive hole that neglecting my writing left within me and eventually I suffered for it. I could only ignore the disappointment for so long until I realized I was talking myself out of writing out of fear of rejection, embarrassment, and because I lacked the energy required to put my thoughts into words. In my complacency, I only encouraged the negative messages I was giving myself. I finally realized that I was not doing the work as my partner-to-me by ignoring the problem when I settled into feeling stuck. I had to be a supportive partner to myself and provide encouragement, love, compassion and curiosity to get through the writer’s block. It wasn’t easy, but I set the intention and I learned more of myself in the process.

When I feel stuck, when I’ve forgotten about myself and succumbed to complacency, I must remind myself that I am worth the effort. There is so much more to know. I deserve a healthy partner (that is me) and I am capable of being that person.

Heather Rashal
heather@centerforthehealingarts.com    
407-657-8555 ext 6    

Good Relationships

I am in constant pursuit of being a good partner to myself. If you are my client, you have certainly heard me use this idea in our sessions. The theory: More important than our relationship with any other person is our relationship with ourselves.

When I notice myself drifting into self-criticism, those “should” messages that always manage to make me feel inferior, I try my best to take pause and ask, “What kind of partner am I being to myself?” If I envisioned the communication I am having as a relationship between two people, I would see a partner who is looking for every fault in the other person (me), ruthlessly voicing all of her imperfections with a goal toward what? If the answer is to motivate them, strive toward something better, it certainly isn’t working. Those “not good enough” messages don’t empower me. They make me feel small and helpless.

Great. So I’ve identified I’m not only moving myself further from my goal, but I’m also not being a healthy partner to myself. The next step, I try to imagine what a healthy partner would say and do. I try to be a partner who encourages the other person, while validating that it’s difficult. Working together (with myself— yes, I know this sounds weird), I can figure out what my next steps are for any given situation. Often, the answer is to be accepting of the moment. I cannot change it as quickly as I’d like, and that doesn’t indicate my goals are meaningless, but it does require me to be kind to myself in the process.

Currently, I (like many people) am making a diligent effort to exercise regularly and eat healthier. This has been ongoing for the last year or so, but I have stepped up my methods and started going to the gym. At first, I felt inferior. I hadn’t been in a gym in years and my regular yoga practice had dwindled, and still didn’t give me the stamina for cardio or the strength for weights that I once had. The default reaction was to criticize myself. ”This is what you get.” “You probably look ridiculous.” “You don’t belong here.”

Ouch. The internal dialogue was not the healthiest and when I paused to ask what kind of partner I was being, I realized I was practically abusive. I had to stop and be kind and supportive. I had to be loving and provide gentle encouragement that met me where I was at, while giving me the support to push myself a little further. “This is what you get. A chance to get healthy.” “You can only do your best, and that can get better.” “Everyone looks silly at the gym.”

And the process is ongoing. My default negative thinking can find something else to gripe about and it’s only up to me to notice when that occurs. I must be a good partner to that voice too, so I don’t shame the negativity, because that is not at all effective. But I do gently acknowledge when it arises. Most of us have been trained to be negative with ourselves due to school and home environments that weren’t always ideal. It is also harder for some more than others. No matter our pasts, we must remind ourselves that we deserve better, especially from ourselves. We can change the negative messages to kind ones.

Welcome to my first blog entry. I’m doing my best to encourage my partner that is me to share her ideas through a new approach to a similar platform. I’m finding my voice and showing myself respect in so doing. Stay tuned for more thoughts on mental health and wellbeing.

Heather Rashal, LMHC
407-657-8555 ext 6
heather@centerforthehealingarts.com


Selfish

Selfish- the dreadful word reserved as an encompassing insult. We call people selfish when their priorities consistently revolve around themselves. It seems selfish people have little to no regard for the well-being of others and their plans rarely meet the greater needs of a particular party. Selfish people contradict the sharing and caring mentality fostered in our culture.

As the wise Spock once said, “…the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Many abide by this logic, or strive for it, assuming personal needs are secondary. This might work when making decisions that will affect massive amounts of people, or when caring for a child unable to care for itself. Outside of those scenarios, on an individualistic level, it would only be so beautiful for us to selflessly cohabitate; all of our needs covered because we all consistently followed this way of being, always concerned with everyone else first. If it weren’t for those pesky selfish people, placing their emotional, physical, or personal requirements ahead of everyone else’s.

I disagree. Codependent logic is flawed. Predicting others’ needs is impossible if they do not communicate, and communicating needs is a ‘selfish’ act in itself. I propose the needs of the many, more often than not, lean in favor of people taking care of themselves; a classic example: putting the air mask on one’s self before helping others on a plane.  The word ‘selfish’ is a much broader term than we utilize. Out of the context of our common vernacular, selfish can be a helpful or even critical trait to well-being.

In a world overrun by codependent logic (i.e. the idea that our feelings are the result of other people’s actions) the ability to care for ourselves is mandatory. Maintaining healthy boundaries, employing the right to say ‘no,’ and not abandoning our integrity when we assume an obligation becomes self-loving, kind behavior we enact to prolong our mental and physical health.

I think it is important to differentiate between lovingly selfish and inconsiderate behavior. If selfish is an umbrella term to describe all behaviors where one places themselves before others, there is an unhealthy side of this too. ‘Needs’ are tricky, fickle things every single person has to manage. Finding equilibrium, balancing our essential needs like food, shelter, and clothing, compared to our emotional needs like human connection, personal space, laughter, or emotional release takes effort. It is far too easy to manipulate ourselves with the idea that wants or reactions stem from needs, or that we need something from one particular person. If one can be physically and mentally healthy without it, then it is probably not a need.

When our needs are unmet, we often become reactive. As discussed in another article, reactions stem from the brains misdirected fight or flight response: the brain equating stress as danger. Reactions to emotions do not arise in an unconscious effort to meet literal needs. In essence, reactivity is the result of the brain’s unconscious effort to meet irrational needs (i.e. safety from danger that is not there).

There is a victim pattern buried somewhere in there; the panic-stricken brain’s logic is markedly codependent. Blaming external stressors for one’s reactivity follows the codependent thinking that outside variables, people, circumstances, etc are responsible for an individual’s feelings.

In that moment, the need is not relief from danger; the actual need is for an individual to remind themselves that they are safe, returning to conscious, rational thinking, and the ability to choose how to respond.

The inconsiderate form of selfish behavior discussed earlier often takes the shape of those reactions, masked as an effort to meet needs. An example, if you’ve ever been so stressed with work or school that you absolutely needed a friend or partner to stop what they were doing to listen to you vent, and in their unavailability (likely because they were stressed with their own work) you may have felt rejected or abandoned, only heightening that stress.

There is not a measure of whose life is more stressful, or whose needs are more important. Requiring someone to abandon their needs in order to care for someone else’s brings us back to codependent thinking. Personal truths are not universal. This is the catch to this self-loving form of selfish.

Relationships, friendships, interactions, and any other form of social connection involves at least two people, both of which are responsible for how they show up in dialogue. If someone’s selfishness requires another person to abandon their needs, it is probably inconsiderate. Healthy, conscious pursuit of needs recognizes that being ‘selfish’ is not without consequence when it involves other people.

Others may be upset with the way we handle situations, regardless if our actions come from self-love or inconsideration. Worse yet, they may handle their emotions from reactionary places. Regardless of how they react, it is our goal to respond appropriately. With a conscious connection to self, self-loving behavior does not include reacting from malice or belittling the needs of another. It requires not taking responsibility for another person’s feelings. If we employ conscious communication and our intent is clear, another’s reaction is outside of our control. We must accept those terms of interaction, taking action where we decide it is healthy for us.

We have a chance to build a connection with our selves, allowing self-understanding by being selfish. The word must be de-stigmatized. In the healthiest way, we must put our needs first in our day-to-day actions and shake off those people-pleasing tendencies. We must speak and act on our truths from the most authentic place. This does not mean disregarding the needs of others. With conscious decision making, we can understand the motives of our behavior, determining if we are acting from healthy self-love, or reacting from self-manipulation. It is up to each person to decide how they wish to show up for themselves and in relation others. In that conscious selfishness, there is freedom.

Be selfish. Love yourself.

Heather Rashal, LMHC
Heather@CenterfortheHealingArts.com
407-657-8555 ext 6
Winter Park, FL

Choices

Your alarm goes off. Groggy, you roll over and grab your cell phone to make a half-conscious decision of getting up or hitting the snooze button. Opting for the chance to snooze for five more minutes, you press the button and roll back over. You might do this a few more times, lazily preparing to take a quick shower or skip breakfast; or maybe you decided the night before to set your alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier than needed so you had the option. Eventually, you choose to rise to follow your morning routine, showering, dressing, and preparing for work or responsibilities. Each step of this process requires you to make choices.

It does not stop there. It is easy not to notice but making choices occurs throughout every second of every day. On a daily basis, you have to choose what you absorb mentally and physically, and how you apply your energy. What you watch on television, look at on your phone, eat, and say to others (and yourself) involves decision-making.

But you knew that. That article has been written before. I’m not here to rehash a topic that you’ve probably already read about. Instead, I would like to twist this simple self-help subject into something novel, because let’s admit, we love novelty. It’s probably why you’re reading this article right now. So for a novel way to consider the choices we make, let’s explore what we might be teaching ourselves in the process.

Self-lessons based on choices is a broad topic so I’ll start at the beginning. Do you always realize you are making a choice in the moment? Choosing to brush your teeth or whether or whether or not to use your turn signal when driving, for example? Or do you seem to run on autopilot? The first lesson you teach yourself based on your choices is of cognizance. How engaged would you like to be? How much effort are you going to expend on making choices? Running on a mindless default abandons a significant number of the choices you make. They become routine. You will feel like you have less choice in many matters where you are actually the only one who can decide. Life can feel boring and that can be frustrating, or maybe you feel trapped because your choices are so few.

I am certainly not saying paying attention to your choices will fix all of those negative feelings, but it’s at least a start. By paying attention, you can start to break the rote patterns of mundane life, and alter the ways in which you handle the more intense moments. In an argument, is your default to shut down emotionally? If you ignore the problem, does it usually disappear? Or maybe you get loud and expressive, sometimes in not-so-productive ways?

When you pay attention, you can choose how to respond to both the little things and the big things in life. It gives you a chance to make the situation different from the past and presents a learning experience. We spend so much time unconsciously anticipating what will happen, while simultaneously repeating our patterns from the past. When we interrupt the future-focus and stop repeating past actions, and instead pay attention to this particular moment and scenario, we can make change. We can teach ourselves to grow.

In case you thought at any point this process would be easy, guess again. Teaching yourself new ways of being, perceiving, and responding is challenging. Our brains are lazy and would much rather conserve energy and rehearse what we have done for years. Not to mention, the pattern worked at some point. Old, even unhealthy patterns helped us survive and manage life up until now. But if you are considering making change, I am willing to assume you have noticed these means of existence are not leading to pleasant ends.  It’s time to do something different.

Choosing to live, respond, and be healthy allows us to empower ourselves. Though we may be dragging our feet sometimes, when we arrive at a figurative fork in the road and choose the mentally and/ or physically healthy option, we benefit. The trick is noticing the choice is available. We reach those points of decision-making a million times a day, and if we realize the opportunity to teach ourselves different ways of being, the effects will be long standing.

Heather Rashal, LMHC
Heather@CenterfortheHealingArts.com
407-657-8555 ext 6
Winter Park, FL

Mindfulness and Motorcycling

An open road, engine roaring, speed building and scenery melting as miles per hour accelerate. The intensity of the twisting throttle directly correlates with the rate of my heart until I acclimate to the speed. Every time I ride my motorcycle, this occurs. The rev of the engine sparks nervous excitement before I adjust to the mellowing purr of the machine vibrating beneath me. Exposed and all too vulnerable, it is a wonder those of us who ride motorcycles are able to find this blissful medium. But we do, over and over, and it’s what keeps us coming back, placing ourselves in ultimately dangerous situations for personal enjoyment.

With a heightened awareness of the present moment, I release my attachment to outcomes, surrendering myself to what I cannot control, and taking responsibility for what I can- my thoughts, my body, my breath. Think I’m still referring to motorcycles? This is the act of mindful meditation.

As a long time practitioner of mindfulness, I realized the similarities between the two soon after I started riding. Riding a motorcycle is risky. End of story. There is no argument, but interestingly enough when a person indulges in anxious and insecure thoughts, the brain responds with fear and this compromises ability. It is an amygdalic response: the brain activating instinct reactions of fight, flight, or freeze, and in cases where there is a need for focused attention, those fearful instincts can cause slip-ups. Clumsy release of the clutch or a poorly executed turn can result in an accident. In contrast, I am willing to propose that accidents caused by over-confidence in riding are still related to anxiety, or rather obsession. A fixation on appearance to others, or the self, to perform a feat or trick that is not yet within the rider’s ability. The same risks are present, if not greater. Confidence in ability and awareness of limitations maintains the process in making decisions about what to do next.

Similar to everyday life, when we indulge in anxiety we suffer. Fear attaches us to possibilities that may never occur. We do not perform better at work, our thinking is not clear, and we are not happier people when we do this. Rather, we become insecure, guarded, or obsessive about problems that are much smaller than the attention we feed them. We constantly judge or criticize ourselves, worry obsessively about what often results in nothing, or stay overly concerned with how others perceive us. Interestingly enough, the anxiety perpetuates itself when we invest in it, seeming to consume our lives and determine our day. There is an alternative way to think.

Stop. Take a breath. Be mindful.

What the heck does that mean? I bet you are wondering. Observe each moment independently of the rest. Pay attention to the amount of control you have over your thoughts rather than spiraling into the endless infinity that is your anxiety. Let go of thoughts that do not serve you, no matter how much your anxiety insists worry is needed. Return your attention to the breath: inhales and exhales, the sensation of breathing, air coming in and out of your lungs. When your mind wanders (which it will), and the snowball of fretful thoughts exponentially builds again, stop. Take a breath. Be mindful.

Sounds easy, right? I’ll add another challenge: do this without judgment. The mind wanders, anxious thoughts will inevitably return. The key to both successful mindfulness and riding is noticing when this occurs. That’s it; the most important part. When you notice, you have a choice about what to do with those thoughts, to pay attention to what’s going on around you rather than what’s going on in your head. When we judge ourselves, we only substitute one anxious frame of thought with another. The brain learns nothing new.

When practicing mindfulness, we rewire our brains, gradually creating reliable neural networks to the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain in charge of executive functioning, decision-making, and awareness. Instead of the default path to the amygdala where these fear-based thoughts arise, we move to the part of our brain in charge of deciding how to think.

I have explained in a previous article how the brain equates emotional discomfort to danger. The mind will create reasons and ways to avoid uncomfortable situations, attempting to calculate risk based only on the worst-case scenario. Feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, and incompetence are not enjoyable, and when there is a potential for these soul-sucking emotions the brain will become active with reasons and ways to avoid them. When riding a motorcycle, coddling these fears can get a rider killed. The brain goes into panic, interrupting muscle memory. The body overreacts movement and the mind delays response time, compromising the rider’s mind-body balance.  The solution: stop the mental process, and take a breath. Be mindful. Check in with reality instead of the never-ending list of fabricated what-ifs. Right now, whether on a motorcycle or getting through your workday, remember you are alive, breathing, and in this moment, you are okay.

As if you were riding, pay attention.  Listen; notice your thoughts. Are they serving you? Do they reflect reality? Take the opportunity to shift out of the anxious autopilot and into mindful being. Repeatedly and without judgment, practice letting go of the mind’s attachment to arbitrary circumstances and take responsibility for your thoughts right now, in this moment. Stop. Breathe. Be mindful.

Heather Rashal, LMHC
Heather@CenterfortheHealingArts.com
407-657-8555 ext 6
Winter Park, FL

Laughter

Laughter is the best medicine. We have all heard the idiom, but what does it mean? A hearty chuckle will not cure a cold or banish the flu, but I propose laughter has more healing properties than we consider.

In my opinion, some of the best writing for TV and movies comes from productions that bring me to tears, and I find that the best way to make me cry is to make me laugh first. A character in a TV show whose actions provoke giggles is typically more relatable. I’ve noticed when I spend an hour feeling connected to a fictional character through laughter and something bad happens to them, I have stronger sadness as well.

Laughing and crying are not as different as we think. Have you ever laughed so hard you cried? Or noticed that the sound of deep belly laughs is not dissimilar from heartfelt weeping?  Have you ever cried or laughed so hard it hurt? Or found yourself laughing or crying simply at the sight of someone doing the same? The similarities between laughing and crying are not an accident, nor are they the result of the human body’s limiting design. These two seemingly opposite reactions arise from the same place within us for a reason. Humor is an intimate part of a person’s personality and when we open up to others about our sense of humor, however odd, dry, or quirky it is, we show our selves.  Authentic laughter is an act of vulnerability, allowing us to reveal the underbellies of our psyches. It encourages empathy, connection, communication, and promotes safety between individuals. (1)(2)

Most of us hide our true selves behind emotional walls in an effort to keep others out and protect us from harm. Vulnerability is scary and is often equated to weakness, running the risk of rejection, shame, and misunderstanding. Genuine laughter shatters those walls, emitting happiness and a sense of comfort. Joy is as deep an emotion as sadness, and when we can access one, we can access the other.

How do we differentiate between authentic laughter and defensive laughter? Defensive laughter strengthens walls, keeping us apart from others. Humor derived from discomfort or judgment and insults to the self or others is not genuine and is not vulnerable. It protects us from vulnerability. However, someone else’s defensiveness does not have to impede empathy for that person. We are also not obligated to laugh along and if we do, we can be aware this laughter does not serve the same purpose. It does not foster vulnerability or promote the healthy delving into deep emotion.

If laughing and crying are two sides of the same coin, why do we stigmatize one so much more than the other? What makes laughter better received than tears? Though both can be relieving and allow us to be authentic, sad tears tend to make other people and ourselves more uncomfortable. The reason is reflective of our childhoods.

When we laugh with real, heartfelt mirth, it exposes our pasts, illuminating the bright places of our childhoods where we felt safe, warm, and loved. Even if the subject of laughter is mature, the state of mind is the same: unadulterated bliss.  But sadness is the opposite. When we are sad, we expose shadows of our pasts. The unhealed wounds rooted deep within our childhoods, yet to be healed, or still tender even after years of mending. It is uncomfortable to imagine children unhappy and hurt, instigating unconscious reminders of when we were unhappy and hurt as kids. When we witness the modernized reflection of childhood pain in adults, we empathize and it does not feel good. (3)(4)

Enduring joy and sorrow encourages healing. Both standing witness and being seen during intense states of emotion fosters growth, reinforcing the places in our past where we were safe, and correcting the moments we felt helpless and alone. Equal balances in these healing opportunities are required.

My suggestion?


Be real. Be authentic. The reckless abandon of both untamed laughter and heavy-hearted tears permit release when they occur with authenticity. Let’s make safe spaces for our emotions with one another. Let’s heal.

Heather Rashal, LMHC
Heather@CenterfortheHealingArts.com
407-657-8555 ext 6
Winter Park, FL

For more reading on the healing properties of laughter and crying on the brain, as well as the effects childhood emotion as adults:

  1. Why grown-ups cry by Efran and Spangler. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00994161?LI=true
  2. The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on Stress and Natural Killer Cell Activity by Bennet, Zeller, Rosenberg and McCann. http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=nurs_fac_pub
  3. The Role of Childhood Trauma in the Neurobiology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Preclinical and Clinical Studies by Heim and Nemeroff https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Charles_Nemeroff/publication/11909727_The_role_of_childhood_trauma_in_the_neurobiology_of_mood_and_anxiety_disorders_Preclinical_and_clinical_studies/links/02bfe50f180210c406000000.pdf
  4. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix