“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~Buddha
For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with anger.
My earliest memories of my anger are from junior high school, but it was around much earlier than that.
The only emotion that was ever shown in my house growing up was anger. My dad had an anger problem, and my mother showed no emotion at all. This is what emotional normal looked like to me—either nothing or anger.
I was the …
“Stay in the moment. The practice of staying present will heal you. Obsessing about how the future will turn out creates anxiety. Replaying broken scenarios from the past causes anger and sadness. Stay here, in this moment.” ~Sylvester McNutt
Like many people, I have an anxiety disorder that twists my thoughts and feelings. I call it my “anxiety octopus,” as it feels like there are tentacles in my brain triggering fear-based reactions for no reason. In everything, even things that I am confident in, I suddenly feel insecure and unsure.
It takes time to realize that the “anxiety octopus” has …
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“Declutter your mind, your heart, your home. Let go of the heaviness that is weighing you down.” ~Maria Defillo
I remember perusing through a used bookstore in a small New England town as a teenager. A book caught my eye—maybe because its spine was a MacIntosh apple red—and I slid it off the shelf. It was titled Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston.
Back at home in my apartment in Boston, I devoured it. That book shifted the trajectory of my life. Fast-forward seventeen years later and living clutter-free is not only my lifestyle, it’s my calling …
TRIGGER WARNING: This post references an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some.
“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.” ~Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story
I’m now at 181 days teetotal. I prefer teetotal to sober. I say sober sometimes, but teetotal feels lighter, airier, and I feel lighter and airier these days.
For the life of me, I can’t remember when I took my first sip of alcohol. It probably came from a grownup’s glass.
What I can remember is being sixteen or so, half waking up from a blackout with a friend’s hand down …
“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.” ~Brené Brown
Did you know that one of the biggest causes of suffering is unacknowledged shame? It makes us believe that there’s something wrong with us and we’re not good enough.
When we have deep shame inside, instead of being true to ourselves, we “dress to impress” so others will like us, which eventually makes us tired, depressed, and anxious because …
“The opposite of anger is not calmness. It’s empathy.” ~Mehmet Oz
In December last year, I went to India to study yoga and meditation. About a week into my training, I noticed I was becoming increasingly angry.
I thought that coming to this peaceful and supportive place would be all about gentle healing while perfecting my yoga practice. Instead, I was furious, very negative, and frustrated with everything.
Eventually, I talked to my teachers and shared what I was going through since I was becoming worried. They explained that since the training was intense and we were doing lots of …
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” ~Marianne Williamson
When you hear the word “forgiveness,” what do you feel?
Forgiveness used to make me feel uncomfortable. I would physically contract when I thought about forgiving someone who hurt me. I felt like forgiving meant letting them off the hook while I was the one paying for their hurtful words and actions.
I would play a scene in my head about what it would look like for someone to apologize and admit to their wrongs… and only then would I be ready and …
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything—anger, anxiety, or possessions—we cannot be free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
My anger has gotten the best of me more than I care to admit. I’ve smashed windows, broken chairs, had movie-worthy brawls on the beach, and said gut-wrenching stuff that has brought people I care about to tears.
I grew up when mental health was not taken seriously, nor was it even on my radar. I just took my wild nature to mean I was screwed up and hopeless. …
“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared, or anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a ‘negative person.’ It makes you human.” ~Lori Deschene
In November, I was on an emotional roller coaster full of sudden unexplainable fits of anger, hysterically crying for no reason, barely sleeping, feeling urges to physically kick, hit, and scream.
One of the main triggers was when my partner would go out without me.
He’d go out with his friends to play pool and I would immediately shut down, shut him out, and turn …
“As soon as I allow the Universe to replace my fear-based beliefs with new perceptions, I receive a miracle.” ~Gabby Bernstein
As I was packing up my mother’s nursing home room after her death, I found a little heart-shaped stone that had the word “serenity” on it. I took it back to California with me and I hold it frequently. It’s heavy, solid, and soothing, and it reminds me of her.
I love the weight of that little stone.
When we’re grieving, heavy things are comforting. It’s not surprising that when we want to release stress, many people go …
“Regret is not dangerous or abnormal, a deviation from the steady path to happiness. It is healthy and universal, an integral part of being human. Regret is also valuable. It clarifies. It instructs. Done right, it needn’t drag us down; it can lift us up.” ~Daniel H. Pink
It happened when I reached midlife.
I’d experienced regret before, but this was different.
In my forties, I struggled with several deep-seated regrets all at the same time.
And I didn’t handle it well.
If only I hadn’t chosen to fall into unhealthy habits that were hard to break, like smoking cigarettes …
“Don’t believe everything you think.” ~Unknown
A couple years ago, I entered a depressive state as I sat through many long, eventless days while on partial disability due to a bilateral hand injury. I was working one to two hours a day max in my job, per doctor’s orders. The medical experts couldn’t say if or when I would feel better.
As I sat in pain on my sofa, day after day, running out of new TV series to occupy my time, I couldn’t help but catastrophize my future
What’ll happen if I can’t use the computer again? My whole …
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” ~Jean-Paul Sartre
“So did you figure out what your shadow totem is?”
This was the first thing out of my husband’s friend’s mouth as I sat down to dinner at a local downtown restaurant, across from my husband and a couple friends we were meeting up with.
I laughed at the choice of question but then paused with wide eyes and replied, “YES, I DID! Oh my gosh. It’s an ant!”
The backstory is that we had previously had a conversation about animal symbolism, and how figuring out …
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~John Muir
The sign comes into view.
I make the left-hand turn, driving slowly through the rusty gated entrance. The sound of gravel beneath the tires makes me smile. I flashback to driving my go-kart on our gravel driveway.
I park my rental Mini and walk to the kiosk.
The Mianus River Gorge trail map is laid out in front of me. Where is the trail I’m looking for? Which one will bring me to the waterfall? This is why I came here today—to find the waterfall. I …
“Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz
The other day, I told my adult niece that I regretted selling my downtown condo several years ago.
“On no,” she said. “You told me back then that you were finding the lack of light was getting to you. You weren’t happy there.”
I had no memory of that until she reminded me. And surprisingly, it lifted a great deal of my painful regret around it. It helped me change from regret to recognition that I’d made the right decision.
That got …
“Perfectionism is a self-destructive belief system. It’s a way of thinking that says: ‘If I look perfect, live perfect, and work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism and blame.’” ~Brené Brown
I struggled with trying new things in my past. I learned growing up that failure was bad. I used to be a gifted child, slightly ahead of my peers. As I got older, everything went downhill.
Whenever I tried out a new activity, I would quit if I wasn’t instantly perfect at it. If there was the slightest imperfection, I would get extremely frustrated and upset. I …
“Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” ~Roberto Assagioli
When I was a little girl, I used to wonder what my father was like. Was he a nice man? What did he look like? Did he think about me? Did he love me?
But, above all I wondered why he left.
I used to make up stories about him—one time I imagined him as a voyager traveling to foreign lands and picking up small gifts for me in every new place he visited. He met with the locals and would learn new trades and …
“If you don’t love yourself, you’ll always be looking for someone else to fill the void inside you, but no one will ever be able to do it.” ~Lori Deschene
I was a simple girl who met a complicated boy and fell in love. It was unrequited. I loved him with all my heart for six months, and acted like a teenager with her first crush. It was humiliating. I did things that I should never have done—the incessant texting, calling, arranging meetups, and what not.
Embarrassment doesn’t even cover the emotions I feel now. There is also a …