This is a link to the Denver Post’s article on the mental health situation in the state of Colorado. The big take aways are the lack of care that prevents mental health crisis. Colorado’s system is built mainly for crisis care. The state is not investing in a system that helps get people well but takes people into the system when there are no other options. This lack of preventative care and supportive mental health policy likely creates much greater expense down the road. Beyond the expense is the extreme amount of pain that comes from an unwillingness to deem mental health a priority.
“Colorado ranks near the bottom in per-capita psychiatric treatment beds reported by hospitals, and in the bottom half in per-capita state and federal spending on mental health.”
We can do better Colorado. The reality is that mental health should not be different from any other health issue. The stigma of mental health is what causes people to wait till it is too late to get support. Feeling depressed is no different than having a heart condition. Experiencing panic attacks is the same health issue as having a broken leg. In both cases people need professionals to provide care.
“What I want to do is normalize mental health care. Separate systems of care perpetuate that stigma,” he said. “I dispel myths quite a bit — ‘Those are the crazy people. Those are the people who shoot up our malls and kill our kids.’ We want mental health to just be another facet of health.”
I have seen in my clients struggle with mental health issues. They are not dealing with some personal choice issue. Mental health is not something you can deal with on your own. It is usually caused by brain traumas that happened at an early age. I saw this trauma working with men who suffered from childhood sexual abuse . At times some of these men could not function. Why do you have to get in a car accident or fall off a cliff for it be deemed legitimate brain malfunction? When emotional boundaries are disrupted (especially at an early age) the human brain suffers the consequences. It can be irreparable damage in some cases. It also can be healed through the same relational dynamic that caused the damage. Having a loving, caring, professional can provide new neural pathways to grow and help bring great relief to a sufferer of emotional trauma.
This video is more about the impact of film on girls and boys. However, if you watch it all the way through, Colin Stokes brings in how he views the definition of men. “A real man is someone who trusts his sisters, respects them and wants to be on their team.” Colin is reacting against the manhood that encourages the patriarchy, that allows for sexual assault and that does not respect women or girls. This video shows how films are not helping boys to understand this new definition. Instead it is up to fathers to both model and teach their young sons how to act.
I found this Ted Talk to give some really important insight on the issue of suicide.
“It’s not just the talking you do but the listening. Listen to understand. By just being there you may just be the turning that they need.”
Understanding how to work with someone in you life who is struggling with suicidal thoughts could be the difference in how you respond. It could make the difference in whether they survive or become victim to suicide.
In life, we go through seemingly endless challenges. And they aren’t evenly spaced. When life becomes overwhelming, how many of us actually have the support system that we need? Not many, because we’ve replaced human connection with digital. And, because life is busy, complicated and stressful at times. It’s hard just to live.
When someone thinks of suicide, they could be experiencing an imbalance of chemicals in their body. Even just getting outside and getting Vitamin D can actually physically boost the positive chemicals. This is biology. Yet, the other side, the support side, helps men and women understand that they’re not alone in their challenges. And, they can map out a plan for change. It’s a way to see things from a different perspective. Suicide is a painful experience to go through on the end of the loved ones left behind. With more understanding, education, patience and kindness, we can shed light on the darkness that so many people feel in their lives, leading to suicide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255
This is a moving talk that covers some new territory on shame.
One quote that comes up for me is this:
“You show me a woman who can actually sit with a man in real vulnerability and fear and I’ll show you a woman who has done incredible work.”
I had an article come out in The Good Men Project on Monday around how women and men function in vulnerability. I think it is such an important topic for our culture to have.
Both men and women need to start to understand how to listen to each other in these vulnerable spaces.
We need to make it safer for each other.
In this video, Brown describe the time she gave a presentation to about 500 – 600 people and explained a time she had a breakdown. Humiliated and feeling ashamed, Brown works through it and comes out a stronger, bolder version of herself.
Shame is a punishment we put on ourselves when we feel vulnerable for something we’ve done or for who we are as a person.
It’s something we can feel, and something we should also let pass. It allows us though a moment of deep reflection. Emotions are meant to have a purpose. This is shame’s purpose. It gives us a moment for pause.
Lingering shame though? Toss it.
It’s just not worth the emotional drain. Learn. Live. Love and move on. You’re an incredible person. You can and do deserve everything you want. Contact me to schedule a session and learn how to find integrity and strength through emotion.
I thought this short video was hilarious. However, I don’t agree with Mila being against men saying they are pregnant (and I know she was joking). I think the “we” of being pregnant is important. Yes, men will never know of the bodily changes or the discomfort and extraordinary pain that women go through. We men will never have to deal with the extreme emotions and the nausea.
Being a man today is stepping fully into supporting a woman through her pregnancy. It is seeing that this is not an experience that is separate from the man, but one that is integrally connected and a critical part of the child’s development.
I like the “we ” because it means there are two people having different experiences and doing it together.
Men Have a Unique Experience During Pregnancy
Our energy is felt outside the womb. As a dad, we are usually trying to instill feelings of safety, love. It’s a one of a kind way of emitting support and stability that fathers can provide uniquely from mothers. Honoring dads who want to own their part of the pregnancy is a noble way to support fathers. Don’t dog on men saying they are pregnant Mila (funny though, watch this video for a laugh especially if you’re an expecting dad).
As part of my practice, I work with fathers and soon-to-be dads on how to be the best version of themselves to reflect to their families. It’s a balancing act to be a great dad, get good nutrition, proper mental health support, and maintain a successful career. I work with men to be bold, authentic and create positive relationships in their lives. Contact me.
This is full of wonderful wisdom. Better than most graduation speeches. Also wonderfully funny. Jim Carrey’s graduation speech speaks to what’s deeply human about each of us.
Expressing Authentic Self
Enlightening from an actor who until we were able to know more about him, was a Hollywood actor for so long. Two dimensional maybe and someone who we fondly remember in films we’ve seen over and over. He’s changed. Or, he’s just showing his authentic self more and more boldly. Jim Carrey’s graduation speech asks students to act in love, and not out of fear. To choose love, over fear.
“I am here to plant a seed that will inspire you to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts and a clear sense of wholeness. The question is, will that seed have a chance to take root, or will I be sued by Monsanto and forced to use their seed, which may not be totally “Ayurvedic.”
I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation, and though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, (laughter) it was after all a loaner and would have to be returned.
Then, I learned that everything outside the vehicle was a part of me, too, and now I drive a convertible. Top down wind in my hair! (laughter)” – Jim Carrey’s graduation speech at Maharishi University School of Management
Opening up to the Possibilities in Life
Jim talks about his father and how he could have been one of the greatest comedians, but he chose a “safe” job that let him go after 12 years, throwing the family into poverty. After that, he realized he wanted to free people from concern. He even created a “Church” to free others from concern. He realized there is no other way to live than to “open the door in your head” and accept whichever way your aspirations and dreams come to fruition. Once you open up to the possibilities, the surprises will be never ending.
This is a powerful talk by Esta Soler. Witness the amazing work she has done to end domestic violence.
In my practice, I work with couples who are working on their relationships. Effective counseling can help to stop damaging behavior from escalating. Domestic violence is a showing that something needs healing, badly. There are ways to channel anger and frustration into other outlets than resorting to violence. If your tension has been alarming, even to yourself, or your relationship is in a constant state of turmoil, consider reading this article about healthy anger (yeah, it really can be healthy when used in a certain way).
Domestic violence is never okay, yet it has existed since ancient times (unfortunately). In modern times, we can turn the tide on domestic violence, as Esta Soler points out. It takes documentation and public knowledge sometimes. Once the Polaroid was available widely, taking pictures as evidence helped put a face to domestic violence. The internet today has taken documentation of domestic violence even further with video, both live and captured. It’s not something we can hide in the closet with technology like this. And, it’s helped to change public perception and awareness. This in turn, has led to dramatic drops in cases of domestic violence. Soler states that in 30 years of technology, reported cases have declined by 64% in the United States.
It starts at home and inside you. Unhappiness, low self-esteem, unresolved issues, hurt. They all lead to pain in some form. Inwardly, and outwardly projected onto someone else at times. Taking care of your pain immediately and healthily (and maintaining it regularly) is the one way to stop emotions from becoming negative actions. You can learn coping skills to do this on your own, or you can get support to make sure you stay on track. Having someone to validate you and give you a place to blow off steam can help you avoid serious consequences from not taking care of yourself and blowing up at someone you love.
When you think about anger, many people imagine the pain of an out-of-control parent or partner who couldn’t handle their emotions and spewed them out on everyone else. Many of us struggle with the wounds of unhealthy anger. What is important to note is that anger is not the problem. How a person deals with anger is the problem. We can use anger as an important reaction to our physical, emotional or spiritual boundaries being breached. When this happens we should feel anger. We should expect to get upset. How can we do this in a healthy way?
I want to give six points of how to express healthy anger.
Number One: Slow down.
This is probably the most important point. Anger is hot and fuming. It can take someone over very quickly. People who express anger in a healthy way are able to feel the anger and still manage to moderate their inner experience. Once you get a little bit of distance from the anger, through your awareness, you can then start to operate from your higher mind rather than your reptilian brain.
Viktor Frankl said it best: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Slowing down is the attempt to develop the freedom to respond.
Number Two: Make sure the person actually did something wrong.
Many times we can get triggered into anger by something a person does, which is eliciting a painful memory from childhood or a past relationship. Think through what just happened. If you could imagine this happening to someone else and them not getting upset then you are probably the one creating the problem. This doesn’t mean your anger has no validity. It just means that it is important to tell the person you are dealing with why you are angry. For example, maybe your co-worker told you he couldn’t meet for lunch today and you suddenly started to fume. As you slow down and feel the anger you may notice the memory of a partner several years ago who always changed plans at the last minute. Maybe this relationship was very painful. Now you are responding to your co-worker through this memory and not through the present moment. As you see this you could communicate to your co-worker that changing plans at the last minute brings up these painful memories and you would like them to be a more certain in the future when they make plans with you. Your co-worker may not be able to do this and it is a fair need to communicate.
Number Three: Take responsibility for your anger.
Although someone may have done something to you that is hurtful it is still your anger. You are getting angry to protect yourself and not to hurt someone else. Using “I” statements is one of the best ways to communicate your pain without having to hurt the person in front of you. For example, “when you told me you didn’t care about my important presentation today, I felt really hurt.” This is a statement of what happened and not an attempt to punish the other person for their insensitivity.
Number Four: Stay away from blaming language.
People who express anger in a healthy way don’t go into blaming language. They stay with what happened and how it made them feel. Although you may have lots of reasons to blame the other person for what happened if you want the person to hear your side of the story this kind of language often times shuts the other person down. When you express the vulnerability of being hurt it is much more likely that the other person is going to hear you and actually want to change their behavior in the future.
Number Five: Know when to take a break.
If your anger is really hot and you feel unable to slow down it may be a good time to take a walk for a few minutes. If you can’t walk just say you need a minute before you begin to talk about this. This is a great way to help slow yourself down. I also suggest trying to stay in your body. Notice the sensations (tight chest, shaky arms) that are happening and try and stay with them. The awareness of our emotional sensations actually helps them move through our system much faster. It can be good to even name them, “feeling a restricted throat,” either in your head or out loud. Once the break is up you will be in a much better position to communicate to the person who may have offended you.
Number Six: Willingness to repair
Once the anger has passed through you it is then possible to take time to repair any damage that may have happened while you were expressing your anger. In many cases people who have been hurt come to a self-righteous place. “Why should I play nice, this person hurt me?” Although it is reasonable to have these thoughts, people who handle anger well take the higher road. They are willing to stay in relationship even when they are hurt. This is hard to do and it may take a few days to get to a place where you can actually approach someone about what happened. Know that the repair can be a wonderful process of growth for the relationship and a chance to heal any painful misunderstandings.
I realize that doing this is not easy. In my personal life I find it really difficult to do any of the things I listed above. I fail constantly. I don’t see this list as something people will suddenly start doing but as more of a practice. Start by being intentional about how you handle anger. Make it a daily practice to re-read these ideas. Commit yourself to becoming a person who can handle anger in a healthy way. I made this commitment several years ago not because I was lashing out at people but because I was stuffing my anger. After years of practicing healthy anger I’m much better at it. Now I don’t run from my anger, I welcome it in. If this resonates with you, consider working on a plan. I can help.
I’ve noticed over the last several years a tendency for people to apologize for instances when they don’t need to apologize.
You bump into someone, “I’m sorry,” when all you need to say is excuse me. There seems to be this tendency to preemptively apologize before the other person can get angry. I think this is done to head off any uncomfortable issues by apologizing quickly.
Personally I find this annoying. It seems to water down the important human experience of owning up to our failings and apologizing for something we did that wasn’t right. Thus, apologizing becomes something we do without hesitation. We lose the power that it has in repairing a misunderstanding. And, we potentially increase greater connection between two people.
When we say we are sorry from a place of moving away from difficult feelings, we aren’t really engaging what is happening for the other person.
An insensitive statement was uttered and someone was hurt. Clearly an authentic apology is necessary. However, the quickly blurted apology to get off the hook from feeling the hurt of the other person doesn’t really do the trick. Yes, both parties can move on from what happened but it hasn’t actually been resolved.
Robert Karen, in his book, The Forgiving Self: The Road From Resentment To Connection, speaks about the attempt to use apologies as a way to distance from feeling any pain.
“People feel guilty and apologize all the time, but often it results from shame (what I did to you makes me look bad and I can’t tolerate that), or what might be called superego guilt, which is more like fear of a higher authority (those inner voices) than genuine remorse.
Apology that comes mainly from this part of ourselves is not a form of giving; it is more a form of pleading. We want to get the sense of wrongness off of us and so we petition the person to let us off the hook: If you forgive me, I’ll get out of this state. If you forgive me, I can stop worrying that you hate me and will reject me. If I apologize, maybe you’ll get off my back. “Come on, I apologized!” we say, getting angry that we’re not getting the results we want. There is no warmth in these apologies.”
I call this ego apology.
This form of apology accomplishes what it is intended to achieve in a way. It moves things quickly along and represses the feelings of hurt and sadness that may be associated with saying something that was painful to another. However, is this what we really want? To create relationships where we are disconnected and unwilling to empathize, both with the pain we may have created in someone else, and in ourselves?
An authentic apology is different than the ego based apology.
Apologizing from a place of empathetic connection and feeling the other person’s pain puts us in a much more potent and empowering place. We have to slow down and acknowledge that we screwed up and how hard it is to be with that. We can admit how hard it is to see our messy self. This allows us to really heal the rift that occurred.
Robert Karen calls this owning up.
It is actually admitting our failing from a deep heart space that allows us to see our human failing and stay connected with the person we have hurt. It also is a way to get out of blaming either yourself, for what you did, or somehow apologizing in a way that doesn’t really admit error.
“The need for owning up is a pervasive aspect of close relationships. We do things that are thoughtless, inconsiderate, selfish, mean, and we do them often in disguised ways. In almost every conflict, one or both people are covering something up, presenting themselves as cleaner than they really are, all the more so if blaming has been an important factor in their upbringing. This kind of behavior is very threatening—someone is going to be it, is going to get nailed to his own self-hatred and shame and feel deeply and unforgivably bad.
To say, ‘First I made a dumb mistake and then I blamed you for it,’ and to say it with caring, gives a lot, even if there is no formal apology, because it frees the other person from that badness. It is also a way of stepping out of the blaming system. It suggests the security of self-love, the ability to forgive oneself. ‘I can admit this; it’s not pretty, but it doesn’t make me an awful person.’ ‘I may be nervous about rejection or punishment, but still have enough faith in my own okayness and in our connection that I can reach out and take care of you.’
When we are making an authentic apology, it is important to take the time to actually feel how it hurt the other person. It is a process of staying with these uncomfortable feelings and seeing them as inevitably human. Can we stay connected to our sense of being good enough when we make mistakes?
Here are some things to consider when you have hurt someone and need to give an authentic apology.
1. Slow down. Let the moment sink in and take in what is happening. If you move quickly to say you’re sorry you’re probably in ego apology.
2. Take the time to admit how difficult it is to say you’re sorry. You may notice that you feel bad about what you did. Feeling bad about being insensitive or inconsiderate is natural. If we didn’t feel these things we wouldn’t have the capacity or motivation to not do them again.
3. Look into the eyes of the person you have hurt and say you’re sorry while still connected to your heart. Linger in this place. It will feel awkward at first but in a short moment the other person will feel your authenticity and often times they will soften.
4. Notice any tendency to blame yourself with thoughts like, “I’m so insensitive, I always hurt people.” This sort of absolutist thinking is not helpful. See if you can move to a place where you can accept that you made a mistake and ultimately forgive yourself for being human.
Authentic apologies are a way of being truly present with our feelings.
It is admitting that we make mistakes and that nobody has to be blamed for what happened. A willingness to give an authentic apology allows people to stop the pain. And oftentimes, it can create a deeper connection.
Get the Book I Reference in this Article
I refer to experts in my field and extensive research for my practice. In this article, I refer to Robert Karen’s “The Forgiving Self: The Road from Resentment to Connection.”