Monday, July 19, 2010

Grief and Loss

Loss is a part of life, and we all experience it. Some people just keep going and "stuff" those feelings. Some people allow themselves to feel the pain. If you have experienced a loss, there are some things to keep in mind as you go through the grieving process.

1) It isn't helpful to stuff the feelings. If you do, then you are carrying the grief with you and the grief actually will get bigger over time. The next time you experience a loss, the stuffed feelings will now be compounded with the new loss. It is important to let yourself grieve with each loss.

2) Remember that the feelings of sadness, anger, shock, and guilt are all a part of the grieving process.

3) It is very important to take care of yourself during this time. Make sure you are getting nutrition even if it is only a few bites per meal. Sleep regularly. Get some exercise several times a week. Nutrition, sleep and exercise are essential ingredients to staying well during this time of loss.

4) This is a time to really allow those around you to help you and comfort you. Don't isolate, even though you may feel like doing that. While some "alone" time may be good and healthy, try to balance that with time spent with others. Allow family and friends to help out and comfort. A meal. A cup of tea. A chat. Anything that is an expression of nurture and care.

5) Remember that grieving is a process that takes time. How long it takes depends upon many factors. There is no timetable. Be patient with yourself, and don't allow the impatience of others ("Aren't you ever going to move on?") to dictate how long you grieve.

Sometimes it may be helpful to reach out to a pastor or a counselor to help you through the grieving process. It is important to be able to talk about your loss and the myriad of feelings in a place that is safe and nurturing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Change Your Thoughts

The Bible is filled with scriptures about thoughts and how they affect us. Here are a few:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

For as as a man thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
II Corinthians 10:5

I believe that our thoughts can affect deeply how we feel. I often tell people, if you change how you think then you will change how you feel. That may seem like a very simplistic approach, but it is a useful tool in dealing with many situations in our lives. That may be why recovery programs often deal a lot with what they call "stinkin' thinkin' that causes people to stay stuck.

Let's look at why changing your thinking can change how you feel.

I think of the feeling (depression or anxiety for example) as a "fire." The fire is fueled by thoughts. If I think depressed thoughts, I will increase my depression. If I think anxious thoughts, I will increase my anxiety.

This is in no way to say that the way I think will necessarily change my situation. But it is to say that thinking in a healthy way can help the depressed or anxious feelings to lessen or not become worse.

For example, in the case of anxiety, what does the Apostle Paul write?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Paul says not to be anxious, and he says to talk to God about our situation. He says to be thankful. If we do those things we will have peace.

If I am thinking thankful thoughts, it is much more likely that I will see God and His ability to be at work in my life. If I see Him at work in my life, it is much more likely that I will understand that He is in control of my current situation. If I see Him in control of my current situation, I am much more likely to feel less anxious.

Obviously, there are many things that may make it difficult to think that way. That is where a therapist or pastor may be able to help you "get there."

You can't always change your situation, but if you change the way you think, you may be able to go through it with less anxiety or depression.

Food for thought!