Category Archives: Past

Is That You?

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My Dad loves to drive. Except, he’s dead.

This is why my experience of him driving my car the other day gave me collywobbles.

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Dad, my brother, me, the car

Growing up, all bikes, skateboards, baseball bats, and badminton nets could not cross the two-foot invisible barrier that surrounded the family car in the garage. My Dad was a little obsessed with the safety specifics and monitored the inches between our kid stuff and the paint finish on his car.

God forbid a baseball, or any object for that matter, bounce off the car. I swear he had some hidden CIA radar for such occurrences. He could be two houses over in someone’s backyard, and he would hear the thump when a foreign body hit the metal on the car. There would be scoldings and lectures from him every time this happened.

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Dad, Mom, and the car

No matter the terrain or weather, he was your man on the street. My Dad took pride in his skillful art of maneuvering through the snow on any road, even no road. The rest of us in the family weren’t so unafraid of that skill. There could be a blizzard warning, and my Dad thought nothing of throwing all of us into the car and driving 70 miles to Wisconsin to visit family in Clinton or Beloit. “We can make it,” my Dad would say with confidence. My Mom would think about it, all of one minute, and call him crazy.

As he got older, he still made car care a priority. He was a State Farm man, after all. Every couple of years there would be a new car to pamper with pride. I’m sure his military experience of managing the care of the equipment he was entrusted with contributed to his viewpoint about other possessions. In WWII, it was a rifle he pampered. Home from the war, it was a car.

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My dad at 88

My Dad drove his car until a fracture in his foot sidelined him at age 90. Before that happened, dad gave anyone who rode with him something comparable to a cardio workout. He would drive: s-l-o-w. I chuckle now just remembering a few of those adventures. Every driver knows that when you’re clear to proceed across two lanes of traffic that you don’t dilly dally. My Dad would pull out quick enough, but then he would just peter out and linger while oncoming traffic was getting closer and closer. Inevitably, my brother or I would yell “Dad!!”

When he died in 2006, there were a handful of noticeable dents and dings on my Dad’s car. Something he would have never tolerated some 50 years earlier. All the dents were signs that his driving ability was reaching its limit.

So on that day, I was driving on the road my Dad would always take to get home. I was looking at the sidewalk where I used to ride my bike as a kid. I drifted off in thought. I was riding in the car with my Dad. He was driving us home. There was a warm and comforting light that filled the car, the way sunlight does but brighter. There was a stream of energy that rippled. There was no sound.

Then suddenly, it was gone. The radio returned to its bellow. I was driving again and realized I had just felt the presence of my father–driving my car. Wow! Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t recall driving the last mile. Did that just really happen? I looked down to see how fast I was going and realize it had to be my dad; I was driving 10 miles under the speed limit!

Thanks for the visit dad. Glad you’re still driving, and you were not here to pick me up!

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

Letting Go, Holding On – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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Letting Go, Holding On

We’ve heard the phrase many times: The past is the past for a reason.

Did we not know that? What does it even mean?

It’s a nagging whisper to remind us that whatever or whoever we’re clinging to from the past should be let go. We need to set it down. It’s a jarring reminder IMG_2250that we can’t go back. The past is the past for a reason. It’s a sounding alarm.

How do we set down a past that occupies a great deal of our present thoughts? How do we let go of prior regrets, lost love, anger, and betrayals? These experiences may be dead in the past, but jeopardize our life, happiness and success today, right now.

When we can’t let go, we drag along with us a sack filled with yesterday’s aftermath that we refuse to leave behind. The sack is heavy so it holds us back, weighs us down, and handicaps our current efforts. We’re not able to keep up with the opportunities that are offered today. We may struggle to get ahead because we’re dragging around this sack of the past, we’re stuck in yesterday.

Dragging our pasts through life everyday will never allow us to change any bygone circumstances. Holding on to yesterday will not provide control over IMG_2321what has occurred. But we can be invested in our future and have 100 percent control over our thoughts and actions today.

The past is your history. It’s a history that may have been painful at times, but also made you more wise, more cautious, more kind, and more confident. You can honor who you were by becoming who you are meant to be. I love this quote by Jeffrey McDanielI realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go. How fitting after letting go is their return to the living in spring, more ample.

FullSizeRender (8)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

 

 

 

 

Your Mind Can Make You Sick – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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But what is quackery? It is commonly an attempt to cure the diseases of a man by addressing his body alone. -Henry David Thoreau

IMG_1681Worry can cause high blood pressure and stomach disorders. Anger can cause heart disease. Even cancer can have a beginning that originated with emotional distress. A focus on emotional health has been minimized for so long that it’s not surprising what scientists are discovering. Ignoring your mental health can have the same consequences as neglecting your physical health.

There are conclusive clinical studies that show clear connections between our emotions and our physical health. Researchers believe that 50 percent of people who see their physician have physical symptoms directly caused by their emotions. Some researchers think that amount is as high as 90 percent.

There’s a scientific reason why feelings impact physical health. Different parts of the brain are associated with specific emotions, and they are connected with IMG_2962 (1)certain hormone patterns. The release of hormones affects our bodies. When a person is aggressive and anxious, too much nor-epinephrine and epinephrine is released into the body, even while the person appears to be relaxed. Experts are convinced that a person with prolonged anger will experience negative changes in blood chemistry. The arteries thicken, and an excess of hormones cause blood vessel muscles to constrict which raises blood pressure and narrows the arteries. This can result in chronic hypertension, stroke, or heart failure.

Many studies conducted have shown that cancer-prone persons tend to hide, ignore, or deny their feelings—especially anger, resentment, and depression. They also determined that three specific emotional characteristics predispose a person to developing cancer: a perceived lack of closeness with one or both images (47)parent’s, responding to stress with a sense of hopelessness, and bottling up emotions or having no emotional outlets. Hiding, ignoring, or denying emotions has been linked so closely with cancer proneness that many researchers are now considering it a valid risk factor for cancer.

Cancer survivor and author Kris Carr wrote: If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. 

Do you dismiss the importance of dealing with emotional stuff? Understandably most people want to forget about past hurts, disappointments, and even some childhood memories. But it would seem that your body remembers it if you fail to resolve it mindfully. If you don’t address it, your body will express it. Whatever you have been avoiding emotionally, deal with it today for a healthier tomorrow.

For more details about the latest scientific proof that attitudes and emotions do indeed affect physical health, read Mind/Body Health: The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions, and Relationships by authors B. Hafen, K. Karren, K. Frandsen and N. Smith.

Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Dealing With Change

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It’s quite humorous to think we can cling to a comfortable redundancy—days ord83194e0-d432-4f1b-a35d-5ac0bd979803-medium years of routines that have brought solace through familiarity. We even may be proud that nothing can or will change us. I envision the universe chuckling at our unwavering stubbornness as the seasons and currents are ever-changing and taking us with it, ready or not.

Lucy: Do you think anybody ever really changes?
Linus: I’ve changed a lot in the last year.
Lucy: I mean for the better.
—Charles Schulz

How silly to think we can be the only elements in a vast universe unaltered by time or change. If we realized how natural and often we alter our opinions, the idea of change would not be so scary. The truth is that we change constantly. Our taste, our preferences, our appetite, our hairstyle, and our favorite color are just a short list of aspects in our lives constantly being altered.

President John F. Kennedy said: Change is the law of life.

We can resist change—even refuse to change, but that will not stop change from occurring. The seasons consistently change and so do our circumstances. The people in our lives change, too. Everything is in constant modification. Today, look around you and note the things that are in a state of constant change—trees, flowers, children, pets, gasoline prices, appetites, even moods. We redecorate to make a change. We even move for a bigger change.IMG_2946

But sometimes change is no laughing matter. Unwanted change requires a letting go of a security and safety found in a way of life we’ve always known. This is true when we lose someone or something close to us. As life thrusts us forward, what we leave behind is a part of ourselves. Loss causes a basic and radical alteration in all those experiences of assumptions underlining our lives. It demands a reconstruction of who we are, without what we had.

Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Dealing With Loss

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photo-camera-219958_150In the past decade, Americans have endured such ruin and bereavement that it compares to the years of the Great Depression under the failed policies of Hoover¹. People have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, their cars, plus in many cases, their self-confidence. And there’s still an additional one in three Americans on the verge of financial ruin.²

American author and Social Worker Virginia Satir wrote: Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.

Well, unless you’re rich, the way it is sucks. It’s a good thing that we’re Americans because there are days that it’s only that spirit that has kept us going. It’s that tenacity found in our heritage that stirs the fight to endure. That and are own guts.

Psychologist and Business Consultant Dr. Kathryn D. Cramer says: People who suffer a loss must reinvent their lives.

Really? You think?

That reinvention isn’t a choice, it’s survival. It’s motivated by a resentment that isn’t often able to let go of the whys, the regrets, the anger, and the pressing sadness.

No one wants to grieve this crap. No one looks forward to Friday because they plan on grieving over the weekend. Grieving involves sadness, regret, heartbreak, weeping, suffering, and pain. Who wants to experience all that, at the same time, for a period of time?

It’s not only loss that requires change, it’s reality. It’s not optional. Something 793c70f5-805c-4b35-8655-785a91de8436-mediumisn’t the way it used to be and will never exist again. Something isn’t the way it should be and never will be again. The purpose of grieving is to adjust to the change in life that reality demands. It’s to bring us to the point of making necessary changes so we can adjust in healthy ways, even if we resent having to do so.

Think about it.

¹http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/12/bush200712

²http://www.marketwatch.com/story/1-in-3-americans-on-verge-of-financial-ruin-2015-02-23

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Fear: The Upgrade of Worry

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We all know what fear feels like: that burning, hot, paralyzing sensation that erupts in the tummy and flows through the veins like lava; that weak, jelly-like feeling in the limbs; that shaky heart-throbbing Oh my God emotion; that I can’t breathe dizziness episode, well, need I go on? No one escapes fear.

Fear is often like a stow-away…it jumps on every other emotion for the ride.

Are you bummed out? Chances are fear is one of the feelings responsible. Anger is always accompanied by fear, and so is guilt. Wondering about getting hurt in a relationship? Getting laid-off? Getting dumped? Losing a loved one? Fear is the main ingredient there, too. Fear has many other names: terror, worry, apprehension, alarm, concern, fret, uneasiness, anxiety, distress, dread, and panic.

Fear is probably the worst feeling, along with depression, to encounter because it’s experienced physically as well as emotionally.

Psychiatrist and author of Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition, Dr. IMG_0727Edward Hallowell thinks people worry when they feel vulnerable and powerless. Worrying is used as a means to restore some sort of control—an attempt to reverse vulnerability and powerlessness. If we’re busy worrying, we feel a sense of control over the problem, even if that’s all we do about the dilemma—worry.

A type of worry—the worry or fear of uncertainty—has been shown to cause a devastating result.

Uncertainty is not knowing. It’s a situation that is unpredictable so an individual can’t determine what to think or do. Over a period of time this causes feeling of helplessness. Mounting evidence published in The Complete Guide to Your Emotions and Health, by Emrika Padus, shows that:

Worry over life’s uncertainties—those future “what-ifs” and past “if-onlys” that can drive us crazy with speculation—creates a particularly devastating kind of stress response…It’s what we don’t know (and can’t do anything about) that can really hurt us.

IMG_0322Uncertainty keeps a person in a constant state of semi-arousal which places an extreme burden on the body’s adaptive resources and resistance systems. Not knowing when something is going to happen or what is going to happen means having to stay on guard—tensed.

 

When worry escalates, the result is fear.

Fear floods the body with epinephrine. It’s most powerful effect is felt on the heart—both the rate and strength of contractions increase. Blood pressure soars. If the fear is intense enough, all systems can fatally overload.

Individuals who experience an intruding level of fear have one thing in common: a need for control.

Anxiety is a future-focused state and control has to do with uncertainty. We IMG_0307seek control of people in efforts to influence or guarantee the outcomes to situations that we want. Worry is often viewed as an attempt to control the future. In some cases we can even think that if we worry enough, a dreaded event won’t happen. The amount of fear and anxiety that we experience is influenced by our perceived ability to cope with what we fear.

The minds of worriers become dominated by fear.

But worrying does not provide security or safety. There is no way to eliminate uncertainty.

Think about it.

 

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you struggling with relationships?

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Excerpt from Emotional Triggers: Stop Pushing My Buttons by Dr. Sandy Nelson…

A woman awoke excitedly on Valentine’s Day and called her boyfriend. “I just had a dream that you gave me a diamond ring for Valentine’s Day. What do you think it means?” With certainty in his voice, the man said, “You’ll know tonight, Honey!” That evening the man went to his beloved with a small package and handed it to her. With anxious anticipation the woman quickly opened the package to find a book entitled, The Meaning of Dreams.

IMG_2155When it comes to love, there are certain types of people that we’re subconsciously attracted to, in our dreams or not. It’s as if we have within us a beacon that sends an underlying signal to certain types of people. Likewise, we’re pulled to individuals who signal us. Entering a relationship that initially stems from a need or attraction doesn’t necessarily indicate doom. But, disaster may occur when you’re unaware of the Emotional Triggers that have brought you together.

Therapists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, the couple who discovered Imago Therapy say: When you’re unaware of the hidden agenda of romantic love, it is a disaster. You inevitably repeat your childhood scenarios with the same devastating consequences. But when you understand that you’ve chosen your partner to heal certain wounds, and that this healing is the key to the end of longing, you’ve taken the first step on the journey to real love.

There’s no torture in awaking to the reality that you’re in a not-so-good relationship. The torture arrives when you try to disconnect or change the relationship. You feel stuck, trapped. You may agonize over which is worse–ending it, tolerating it, or dealing with a possible upset and confrontation if you give your thoughts a voice.

This is the core of unhappy lives–the belief that you’re doomed to tolerate or IMG_1694accept draining and unhappy relationships. You may convince yourself that you would face worse anguish if you state your thoughts to your partner or end the relationship. This belief chips away at self-respect. It invites passive-aggressiveness into the relationship. It prompts you to fix the other person, and cues any control tendencies within you. It breeds resentment and depression. It causes misery.

IMG_0870 - CopyEmotional Triggers are emotionally charged buttons that reside within everyone. Each Emotional Trigger is wired to a memory of past unresolved matters and contains a wealth of knowledge about how you’ve been marked by past encounters. When present situations trigger a stored memory of prior experience, the outcome can be intensely emotional. And it’s not just love relationships in jeopardy. Emotional Triggers materialize with all relationships–including friends, family members, and co-workers!

You may believe that remaining quiet keeps the peace, but the truth is that most likely within you there exists anger, hurt, unmet needs, and resentment that violently whirls around cutting your emotional well-being into unrecognizable pieces. If you’re not actively voicing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in a relationship, you’re not in the relationship–you’re tolerating the relationship. Perhaps, you don’t know what else to do. That’s about to change…

Read more… Emotional Triggers: Stop Pushing My Buttons

Think about it.

 

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Has your inner voice become a nagging critical bullhorn?

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Long time writer for The New Yorker, S. N. Behrman¹ said on reaching the age of 75, I have had just about all I can take of myself. 

Has your inner voice become a nagging critical bullhorn? If your inner monitor has you feeling like a louse because of some wrong doing, then it’s time to investigate if those feelings of guilt are true or false.

IMG_2286True guilt is that icky gnawing feeling of remorse and regret when you have failed your moral standard. But after amends are made and you forgive yourself, you’re free to do better next time; and those icky internal feelings dissipate. False guilt is that same icky gnawing feeling that flogs you day after day when you decline to make amends and refuse to forgive yourself. Instead, you feel compelled to punish yourself and rolling in guilt is the most popular choice.

Believing the truth about who you are is necessary for a happy and successfulIMG_1720 life. If you’re dragging around the weight of guilt, regrets, and self-condemnation, it’s impossible to be happy and successful. Guilt won’t allow the belief that you deserve happiness and financial gain. Regrets won’t allow self-confidence and self-esteem. Your opinion of yourself is powerful fuel for life. The words you say to yourself, about yourself, have an enormous impact in the body, and in your mind.

As long as you hold yourself hostage for past mistakes, you’re chained to the pain of yesterday. You hold the key to those chains today, right now. Pardon yourself. Make amends if you’re able. Realize that staying in bondage to the past won’t allow you to make a difference in your life today, and that’s just another mistake.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

¹http://snbehrman.com/biography.htm
©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Aren’t we worried about what might happen tomorrow, and aren’t we occupied with what happened yesterday?

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Margaret Bonnano¹, famous author of seven Star Trek novels, wrote: It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.

Do you live day-to-day? There’s much attention placed on the catch phrase “One day at a time,” but do we really live that way? Aren’t we worried about what might happen tomorrow, and aren’t we occupied with what happened yesterday? Our brains feel like a swarm of bees bringing back and forth to the hive worries about yesterday’s fiasco, and tomorrow’s anxiety about money. All this buzzing going on while we try to face today’s demands while sustaining sanity.

IMG_0702Most of our blunders from yesterday, last month, or last year are rubbish–we forget them. We make mistakes, we learn, we grow. The End. But sometimes, the memory of a past fault creeps into our minds and tortures again with its pain and regret. It makes us feel shame, depressed and unworthy. Don’t let that memory of the past have its reign over you again. It’s true that we face the future with our past. But a huge part of who we are today, what we stand for, and what we believe about ourselves and life comes from the lessons we acquired from screwing-up, yes, even those major debacles. Those of us who show up everyday in life expecting the best, doing our best, and giving our best have not been discouraged by yesterday’s failure, or reduced in value by its hurt.

IMG_1614Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan² once said: Life is one day at a time. And thank God! I couldn’t take much more. Doesn’t that describe most of us? There’s enough to sort through, solve, organize and work-out in one day, imagine if we were expected to handle the toil of two days in 24 hours? There’s enough to be concerned about today so adding worry about tomorrow and regret from yesterday isn’t a good use of time and energy.

Monitor your thoughts and notice how much time you’re spending dwelling on yesterday and how much you’re thinking about tomorrow. Deal with what’s happening now and what needs attention now so that when you awake tomorrow morning you’ll have energy to do it again.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

 

¹http://www.margaretwanderbonanno.com/
²http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Patrick_Moynihan
©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Who are you now?

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“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”¹

sign2Are you defining your life today past on mistakes made a month ago, a year ago? If all the past errors in judgment were erased and all expectations from others were invalid, who would you be today, right now? Your future will be filled with negativity from the past only if you allow it to be poured into your current thoughts about yourself. Instead, take the wisdom—the positive—available from every mistake and from every heartbreak, and mold that into who you are at this moment forward.

“One of the best ways to educate our hearts is to look at our interaction with IMG_0108.JPG (2)other people, because our relationships with others are fundamentally a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.”²  It’s impossible to have a dysfunctional relationship with others unless you have a dysfunctional relationship with yourself. If you struggle with fears of disapproval, that fear will play out in all of your relationships with others—not just some relationships—all. Everything you do or say will be filtered through a fear of their rejection of you. That fear prompts you to be dishonest with others, to withhold your true opinions and needs, and to become whatever others want you to be. Look at how any unhealthy fears contribute to the status of your relationships, to the status of your life.

Stop at that crossroads. Today, make that powerful decision—who have you decided you really are? Share who you truly are with the people who matter and stay true to your real self.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

¹Anthony Robbins

²Dr. Stephen Covey