Monthly Archives: May 2012
What is longing? Well, to me it is about seeing a photo and wishing that I could spend the day with this dearest of friends. It is her birthday after all, hence natural to want to be around her in person. Yet, she lives far away and I’m unable to celebrate with her. The truth is… there is something deeper going on with my reactions.
I don’t just miss, I have a powerful visceral response to seeing her photos. I miss her so acutely at times it feels like my heart might just burst into a pieces. Sound dramatic? It is… because for me longing is a painful and sweet emotional expression of wanting something I can not have.
Longing gets it power by not relating to the present. It is very often a reminder of something that has changed and a desire to have it returned. Or on the other side it can be a forward projection of what you wish you could have in the future. However, it isn’t a here and now formation.
When we move into a place of longing for what we don’t have it takes up the available space to enjoy what we do! Hence, what this does is take us out of being part of the current experience. We are no longer living in the moment where the richness of experience is found but rather manufacturing an imitation of such.
This is not to say that having an emotional response is in any way negative, however allowing that emotional response to be coupled with negative thoughts about how your life is lacking, shifts the focus from who you are is in abundance now. So when you are pining away for someone or something that you want, take a breath and re-center. Shift your focus more towards how it is wonderful that you have experiences that are so powerful that they still resonate with you. This reframe allows you to bask in the here and now rather than taking you away from the very parts of life you want.
And to use this technique even within my own emotional framework and this blog post, I will say:
Happy Birthday and thank you for being in my life. I’m honored to have a connection with someone who brings me continued joy and inspiration!
See? Longing can become a reminder tool to focus on what living is all about. It takes a bit of effort to shift into being present. It is worth it to be able to enjoy the current experience rather than separating from it. Give this approach a try. You are bound to be more presence.
Last week was tough for a number of clients. I got to thinking about how great it would be if Madison had an Anger Room (a safe place to express anger in multiple forms). Navigating angry feelings can be confusing and when you have abuse in your past it can be even more difficult to know what to do. A place like the Anger Room provides an outlet for learning about different expressions.
One might think that we all experience anger so what is complex about the process? Many of us suppress it for fear that we will act out in a way similar to the abuse or abuser we experienced. It is a scary thing when one has spent their life being a good, caring, gentle person who wants to stay away from conflict and angry feelings. It almost seems logical to become someone who is on the opposite side of rage. However, because anger is a universal signal that something isn’t right, problems occur if we ignore or push it away. People that experienced abuse didn’t feel that they could express themselves properly (for whatever reason) and were also taught that it was not okay to have the feelings of anger. Hence, in many ways their system is taught that it isn’t safe to have a response of anger, even when it is a healthy reaction.
Any time we pretend that our emotions don’t exist or don’t honor them, they float back up in unpredictable ways. And this very thing is often what a person is trying to avoid by suppressing the emotion in the first place. So what is a person to do if they are scared or unfamiliar with how to feel anger and express it?
One of the first things is to begin to identity when you think you might be having anger. You begin to be aware of when you feel angry and where it is in your body. This allows for grounding and a signal that you are accessing the situation beyond just a momentary reaction. Once you have basic identification of what you consider to be angry feelings, you can look at what the anger is about… the person/situation that is currently happening or a trigger to how you were treated in the past. Once these beginning steps are in place, you can look at how to express the anger in a healthy way*.
People hold anger in different ways and that means that what works for one may not work for another in providing some relief from the intensity of the emotion. Some people need a strong physical outlet, others need to write, many need to express the anger with the person (in a safe way) verbally, and others might need a more creative way to share these feelings.
Anger isn’t a bad thing, it is an emotional response to learn and teach you about your system. What is harmful is when you don’t allow yourself to express emotions in a healthy way. Your angry feelings are telling you to listen to yourself and look at the situation around you. This is a powerful tool for the ability to set boundaries, create a plan, and act in a healthy way.
*Please seek help from a therapist if you need assistance with this process.
It’s almost time for alternative sex therapists and researchers to get together and talk about big ideas in the field.
All are welcome to attend the upcoming CARAS Conference in Chicago on May 24th. I’ll be presenting with Awen Therapy on the topic entitled :
Using the D/s Dynamic to Reach Therapeutic Goals In and Out of Session
This is such an important group of individuals who are looking to bridge the gap between therapy-research-and-community. This is going to be a great conference, join us!