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Monday, October 25, 2010

Break Ups: How To Survive Them

The loss of a relationship can be incredibly hard - you can feel so much pain. There's not only the grief from losing someone important in your life, but the pain of seeing your hopes and dreams of a future life together disappear as well. Sometimes this is the hardest part - having to totally readjust your view of how you saw your life unfolding in the next 5 to10 years. Suddenly, you can't see into the future and it's scary.

Feeling Like You're Starting Over

You may feel like you're starting over - that you've lost everything that was important to you and you're not sure what to do anymore. It may be hard for you to imagine your life without your partner - your lives have been so intertwined.

Let yourself know that you will get through this.

Having Difficulty Trusting Again

You may find yourself questioning who you can trust, including your own judgment since you may not have expected the break-up. You may wonder if you were wrong to have trusted your partner. You may begin to question how real your relationship was because if it was real how could it be over?

Your ability to trust may feel shaky. You probably trusted your partner, and expected your relationship to last. You may feel alone and abandoned, even if you're the one who decided to leave.

While it takes time, you can re-build trust in yourself and others again. Even though this relationship is over that doesn't mean that you were wrong to trust her/him, and even if you were that doesn't mean that you'll make that mistake again. You can learn from this.

Having an Identity Crisis

You may experience an identity crisis, not knowing who you are any more without your partner. Not necessarily because you didn't have your own identity while in the relationship, but that your relationship had become part of that identity.

This too will change and you will feel more secure in yourself again.

Feeling Triggered

Break-ups can hurt immensely and shake us to our very core. They can throw us right back to the feelings we had in our first relationships - the ones we had with our parents.

If as a child, your relationship with your parents were loving and supportive, you may find yourself wanting to be with them, even wanting to be a child again when it felt safer and easier.

If your relationship with your parents was difficult, lacking, or abusive you may feel some of the feelings that you felt with them (even if you weren't aware of them as a child.) You may feel as though you are drowning in grief and feelings of abandonment. If you feel as though you are being punished or that the break-up means that you are unloveable, or unworthy of love, you are probably triggered - those are messages, beliefs or feelings that usually originate in childhood.

At times of loss, it is very common for feelings, beliefs and memories from past hurts, traumas, and losses to come up. Not only are you dealing with the present loss, but your past losses as well. No wonder, it hurts so much! And, there are ways to cope with triggers.

How To Survive The Triggers

It is really important that you try to separate out which of your feelings, beliefs and responses belong to the present situation and which ones belong to the past. This is hard to do when you're feeling overwhelmed but it can also help you to feel less overwhelmed. Separating past and present feelings will help you to attach less of your pain to the break-up and can help you to feel more hopeful about getting over this break-up, because maybe you are not as upset about the break-up as you thought. You're still just as upset but it can be helpful to know that it's not all about the break up, that some is also coming from the past.

When you know that you are triggered (past feelings and issues are coming to the surface) you can find ways to comfort or reassure yourself, or to deal with those issues in other ways. The first step though is to separate the past from the present.

Ways of separating the past from the present include:

  • Ask yourself where your feelings are coming from, and notice what you become aware of, including later on in the day.
  • Notice whether your feelings are familiar to you - whether you've felt this way before - and if so remind yourself that some of your feelings are probably coming from the past.
  • Spend time being aware of the past origins of your feelings if you know, and if that's not too overwhelming for you.
  • Let yourself know that even if you don't know where all of your feelings are coming from, it's likely that some of how you are feeling is from the past.

Stages of Grief

You will get through this, even if it doesn't feel like that right now. Grief moves in stages - it has a beginning, middle, and an end phase. It might help to know where you are in the process.

In the beginning, you may feel in shock, denial, or numb. It may be hard for you to believe what has happened. It may be hard to make sense of it all. You may find yourself expecting to come home to your partner or for her/him to call at a regular time only to discover that's not the case any longer. It may take awhile for you to fully comprehend that the relationship is over.

During this phase many people operate as if the relationship is still on even as they grieve the loss. For example, even though you may be really upset, you may not have fully accepted that the relationship is over. Deep down you may be waiting for her/him to come back. (People do this even after a death, it's normal.) This period of disbelief or shock is the body's natural protection against pain.

You may try to get back together even when you know it's over. You may go over and over in your mind and with everyone you talk to what you think led to the break up or what might have made a difference and resulted in a different outcome. This is the “if only” stage - “if only I had...or, if only I hadn't...” we might still be together. If you are doing this, you are likely trying to make sense of what has happened, trying to understand and take it in, and trying to change it too. It's hard to take in that a break up is permanent. You'll need time to fully absorb this reality.

At this stage, you may have trouble remembering things, focusing, and feeling a sense of purpose or direction in their lives - you may feel as though you are drifting through the day. This is a natural initial reaction to loss.

The Second Stage of Grief

The second stage involves feeling fear, anger and depression. This stage often lasts the longest and can be filled with feelings of insecurity, panic, worry, crying, anger, and feelings of depression. Some people don't allow themselves to feel, while others have trouble letting go of how they are feeling. Both are essential - feeling and eventually letting go.

Some people worry that if they let themselves feel that they'll be overcome with emotion and never come out of it - they'll drown in their feelings and not be able to function. Others feel their feelings but can't seem to let go of them even after a lot of time has passed. Either way, it's important to give yourself permission to feel and at some point to let go so that you can move on.

In the beginning, you may think that you will always feel this way, but you won't. Your feelings will pass. You'll discover that the time between down periods increases. Too often with break-ups we don't feel that we have the right to feel upset much longer than a few weeks when the truth is it usually takes longer. I have found that grief tends to run a cycle of at least one year unless of course the relationship wasn't very important, was short-term, or you were grieving before you actually left her/him. But, if you spent a number of years together, and the person was important to you, even if you're the one doing the breaking up you can still be grieving for approximately one year. Of course with very long term relationships, it can take even longer to feel back on your feet but it is still possible to recover.

The Third Stage of Grief

This is the stage where you begin to accept that the relationship is over, and that you're going to be okay. You realize that you haven't thought about your ex-partner in awhile, and that without realizing it you are moving on. You've gained back some of your zest for life, and are beginning to see a future ahead of you.

Sometimes the process involves a little movement forward and a little back. This is okay and perfectly normal, after all you need to get used to your forward steps and occasionally may need the comfort of what you were feeling before. Try not to be hard on yourself, change is not a linear path. It's full of up's and down's. It's okay to feel good and then feel hurt and angry again, especially if you see her/him in the community or dating someone else.

In the acceptance stage, you've done a lot of thinking about the relationship and the break-up and you realize things that you hadn't before. You understand yourself better, and you aren't as angry or hurt. You find yourself laughing more, and feeling hopeful. You begin to notice that you're feeling better and that you are ready to trust again, or at least to try.

Try not to lose faith if you fall back into a funk - each time that you feel better will have an accumulative effect. Grief comes in waves - up and down.

Sometimes letting go just happens after you've let yourself grieve and rage and whatever else you need to do. Other times, people have to deliberately and consciously focus on letting go. It is tempting to hold on, and scary to let go. Saying to yourself that you are letting go of your ex-partner can be helpful. Interrupting yourself when you get stuck thinking or talking about her/him and redirecting your focus onto something else is all part of letting go.

Filling your life with activities that you enjoy - creative, playful, sociable, soulful activities - are all ways to nurture yourself back to health.

Breaking-up can feel unbearably hard and so permanent. Let yourself know that you won't always feel this way and in the meantime let yourself grieve your losses fully. You will feel stronger and lighter for having done so.

- by Kali Munro, M.Ed.

About the Author:

Kali Munro, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto, Canada. She has twenty years experience specializing in a variety of issues including sexual abuse, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, and body image. She provides individual and couple therapy in Toronto, as well as online. She offers free healing resources at her web site about relationships, abuse, sexuality, and much more. Check out her inspiring and healing site

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ten Stupid Things Couples Do To Mess Up Their Relationships: Book Summary

In her latest bestseller, Dr. Laura addresses the problems men and women face in finding peace, joy, and individual as well as married fulfillment in relationships. Filled with letters and phone-in situations from her show, this book offers the sort of no-nonsense expertise that has made her a star.

1. Stupid Secrets
Withholding important information for fear of rejection

2. Stupid Egotism
Asking not what you can do for the relationship but only what the relationship can do for you

3. Stupid Pettiness
Making a big deal out of the small stuff

4. Stupid Power
Always trying to be in control

5. Stupid Priorities
Consuming all your time and energies with work, hobbies, errands, and chores instead of focusing on your relationship

6. Stupid Happiness
Seeking stimulation and assurance from all the wrong places to satisfy the immature need to feel good

7. Stupid Excuses
Not being accountable for bad behavior

8. Stupid Liaisons
Not letting go of negative attachments to friends and relatives who are damaging to your relationship

9. Stupid Mismatch
Not knowing when to leave and cut your losses

10. Stupid Breakups
Disconnection for all the wrong reasons

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogging - It's Good for You

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Scientists now hope to explore the neurological underpinnings at play, especially considering the explosion of blogs. According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

Flaherty, who studies conditions such as hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write) and writer’s block, also looks to disease models to explain the drive behind this mode of communication. For example, people with mania often talk too much. “We believe something in the brain’s limbic system is boosting their desire to communicate,” Flaherty explains. Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.

The frontal and temporal lobes, which govern speech—no dedicated writing center is hardwired in the brain—may also figure in. For example, lesions in Wernicke’s area, located in the left temporal lobe, result in excessive speech and loss of language comprehension. People with Wernicke’s aphasia speak in gibberish and often write constantly. In light of these traits, Flaherty speculates that some activity in this area could foster the urge to blog.

Scientists’ understanding about the neurobiology underlying therapeutic writing must remain speculative for now. Attempts to image the brain before and after writing have yielded minimal information because the active regions are located so deep inside. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown that the brain lights up differently before, during and after writing, notes James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. But Pennebaker and others remain skeptical about the value of such images because they are hard to duplicate and quantify.

Most likely, writing activates a cluster of neurological pathways, and several researchers are committed to uncovering them. At the University of Arizona, psychologist and neuroscientist Richard Lane hopes to make brain-imaging techniques more relevant by using those techniques to study the neuroanatomy of emotions and their expressions. Nancy Morgan, lead author of the Oncologist study, is looking to conduct larger community-based and clinical trials of expressive writing. And Pennebaker is continuing to investigate the link between expressive writing and biological changes, such as improved sleep, that are integral to health. “I think the sleep angle is one of the more promising ones,” he says.

Whatever the underlying causes may be, people coping with cancer diagnoses and other serious conditions are increasingly seeking—and finding—solace in the blogosphere. “Blogging undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to expressive writing, says Morgan, who wants to incorporate writing programs into supportive care for cancer patients.

Some hospitals have started hosting patient-authored blogs on their Web sites as clinicians begin to recognize the therapeutic value. Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situations, Morgan explains: “Individuals are connecting to one another and witnessing each other’s expressions—the basis for forming a community.”

This article was originally printed with the title, "The Healthy Type".

Source: Written by Jessica Wapner for Scientific American Magazine, June 2008 issue.

Tips For Those Who Are Lonely and Depressed

There is nothing that feels much worse sometimes than being lonely and depressed at the same time. Usually, loneliness tends to facilitate depression, although it's a fact that many people who are mild to moderately depressed tend to isolate themselves from others creating their own lonely situation. Sometimes it's hard to know which feeling causes the other, but there are some simple, practical steps that you can take to help you deal with some of the issues of loneliness and depression.

If you are not seriously clinically depressed, in which case you should see a doctor for help, you can make a few adjustments in your life which can help you tremendously. The most important thing is to give yourself something to look forward to that is stable and reassuring during this time of feeling lonely and depressed. One of the best ways to do that is to make a predictable schedule in your life for a whole month. Sometimes scheduling your life around some personal positives within a set amount of time can really add a lift to your life and help with the negative feelings you are experiencing. Here's where to start:

Establish a Sleep Pattern

Make a choice to go to bed before midnight every night for a whole month - Did you know that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours of sleep after midnight? Try to establish a routine for your body by going to bed the same time and getting out of bed the same time every day, whether you feel like it or not. This will help your body and mind adjust to a positive cycle of rest and sleep.

Eat Well

Eat at least two well balanced meals a day. Even though you may eat three meals a day, make sure that two of the three are nutritionally well balanced. Breakfast and one other meal are generally the most important to receive necessary nutrients.


Add an exercise routine to your week - Even if you've never exercised before in your life, start now! If it's just a simple 30 minute walk around the block, or at the local high school track or at the indoor mall, do it at least 4 times every week. Walk more if you feel like it.

Quit Thinking of Only Yourself

Do one random act of kindness for someone each day - Think of someone other than yourself every single day! Maybe your coworker needs some help, or maybe an elderly person needs a lift to the grocery store or perhaps your neighbor is ill and needs a dinner meal. Send a card, say "Good job!" or pat someone on the back for change. Do something, however small, that encourages someone else. At the end of the month, you will have gifted others with 30 acts of random kindness!

Start a Hobby

Choose a hobby to engage in throughout the whole month - Even if you don't really do anything, choose something. Maybe you'd like to learn Spanish or gardening. Perhaps you'd like to bowl or learn calligraphy. Take a class or join a group or join the gym. It really doesn't matter, but find something that interests you and become involved in it at least once a week for a month.

Have Dinner with Someone

Ask one person out to eat with you at least once a week - Whether it's family, a friend, a coworker or a casual acquaintance with whom you've never taken the time to get to know, ask them to eat lunch or dinner with you. This alone can help you if you're lonely and depressed.

Make these simple choices at the start of 30 days and don't deter from them. Even if you are lonely and depressed, don't allow yourself to be passive. It's only for 30 days! You will be surprised at how you feel at the end of a month of changes in your life. You will benefit from feeling better, looking better and maybe even helping someone else in the process. Many times, by helping others, we are helping ourselves!

- Bryan Sims writes about various topics including health issues and product information for the online audience. Find information about the newest website at which helps people find super saver deals on a wall mount for lcd tv and more information about various types of wall mounts for televisions.

Article Source:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

8 Toxic Personalities to Avoid

Although we like to think that the people in our lives are well-adjusted, happy, healthy minded individuals, we sometimes realize that it just isn't so. Personally, I've had moments where I'll be skipping through my day, happy as can be, thinking life is grand and BAM, I'll be blindsided by someone who manages to knock the happy wind out of my sails. Sometimes it is easy to write it off and other times, not so much.

Maybe you are a positive person, but when you are around a certain individual, you feel negative. Or, maybe you have an idealistic view of the world and when you are with certain people, you are made to feel silly, unrealistic or delusional. Or, maybe you pride yourself in being completely independent and in control of your life, but when you are around a certain family member, you regress into a state of childhood.

Some of these situations, and yes, these people, can have a tremendously negative impact on our lives. And, although we are all human and have our 'issues,' some 'issues' are quite frankly, toxic. They are toxic to our happiness. They are toxic to our mental outlook. They are toxic to our self-esteem. And they are toxic to our lives. They can suck the life out of us and even shorten our lifespan.

Here are the worst of the toxic personalities out there and how to spot them:

1. Manipulative Mary: These individuals are experts at manipulation tactics. Is a matter of fact, you may not even realize you have been manipulated until it is too late. These individuals figure out what your 'buttons' are, and push them to get what they want.

Why they are toxic: These people have a way of eating away at your belief system and self-esteem. They find ways to make you do things that you don't necessarily want to do and before you know it, you lose your sense of identity, your personal priorities and your ability to see the reality of the situation. The world all of a sudden becomes centered around their needs and their priorities.

2. Narcissistic Nancy: These people have an extreme sense of self-importance and believe that the world revolves around them. They are often not as sly as the Manipulative Marys of the world, but instead, tend to be a bit overt about getting their needs met. You often want to say to them "It isn't always about you."

Why they are toxic: They are solely focused on their needs, leaving your needs in the dust. You are left disappointed and unfulfilled. Further, they zap your energy by getting you to focus so much on them, that you have nothing left for yourself.

3. Debbie Downers: These people can't appreciate the positive in life. If you tell them that it is a beautiful day, they will tell you about the impending dreary forecast. If you tell them you aced a mid-term, they'll tell you about how difficult the final is going to be.

Why they are toxic: They take the joy out of everything. Your rosy outlook on life continues to get squashed with negativity. Before you know it, their negativity consumes you and you start looking at things with gray colored glasses yourself.

4. Judgmental Jims: When you see things as cute and quirky, they see things as strange and unattractive. If you find people's unique perspectives refreshing, they find them 'wrong'. If you like someone's eclectic taste, they find it 'disturbing' or 'bad'.

Why they are toxic: Judgmental people are much like Debbie Downers. In a world where freedom rings, judgment is sooo over. If the world was a homogeneous place, life would be pretty boring. Spending a lot of time with these types can inadvertently convert you into a judgmental person as well.

5. Dream Killing Keiths: Every time you have an idea, these people tell you why you can't do it. As you achieve, they try to pull you down. As you dream, they are the first to tell you it is impossible.

Why they are toxic: These people are stuck in what is instead of what could be. Further, these individuals eat away at your self-esteem and your belief in yourself. Progress and change can only occur from doing new things and innovating, dreaming the impossible and reaching for the stars.

6. Insincere Illissas: You never quite feel that these people are being sincere. You tell a funny story, they give you a polite laugh. You feel depressed and sad and they give you a 'there, there' type response. You tell them you are excited about something and you get a very ho-hum response.

Why they are toxic: People who aren't sincere or genuine build relationships on superficial criteria. This breeds shallow, meaningless relationships. When you are really in need of a friend, they won't be there. When you really need constructive criticism, they would rather tell you that you are great the way you are. When you need support, they would rather see you fail or make a fool of yourself.

7. Disrespectful Dannys: These people will say or do things at the most inappropriate times and in the most inappropriate ways. In essence, they are more subtle, grown up bullies. Maybe this person is a friend who you confided in and uses your secret against you. Maybe it is a family member who puts their busy-body nose into your affairs when it is none of their business. Or maybe, it is a colleague who says demeaning things to you.

Why they are toxic: These people have no sense of boundaries and don't respect your feelings or, for that matter, your privacy. These people will cause you to feel frustrated and disrespected.

8. Never Enough Nellies: You can never give enough to these people to make them happy. They take you for granted and have unrealistic expectations of you. They find ways to continually fault you and never take responsibility for anything themselves.

Why they are toxic: You will spend so much time trying to please them, that you will end up losing yourself in the process. They will require all of your time and energy, leaving you worn out and your own needs sacrificed.

All of these personalities have several things in common.
1) the more these people get away with their behavior, the more they will continue.
2) Unfortunately, most of these people don't see that what they do is wrong and as a result, talking to them about it will fall on deaf ears, leaving you wondering if you are the crazy one.
3) Most of these people get worse with age, making their impact on you stronger with time.

Frankly, life is too short to spend your time dealing with toxicity. If you can, avoid spending mucho time with people who are indicative of these behaviors and you'll feel a lot happier. Have you encountered these personalities? What have you done? Any personalities you would add?

by Brett Blumenthal - Sheer Balance

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Power of Prayer

No matter what your religious beliefs are, prayer can be a powerful force for strengthening faith, calming emotions, and even improving physical health.

Praying…does it really help? This sixty-four thousand dollar question has been around since the beginning of time. Some say yes and some say no. So, who is right? I guess it kind of depends on your faith in God and how you have learned about God, no matter whom you perceive to be your God. I am not talking about praying in the context of a specific religion. Religion is an organized set of beliefs we have created to govern our actions and how we think God wants us to conduct ourselves. No matter what religion or denomination we follow, we pray mostly because God says to do so.

What do you pray for? You can pray for anything. People often pray for their loved ones who may be sick or going through a difficult time. You may ask for help on a problem at work, or help with passing a test for school. You may pray for yourself to be a better, more tolerant person, or you may be going through a personal crisis that you can’t handle on your own. You may pray for success. But keep in mind that the meaning of "success" to you may not be the same as what it is to God. You may pray for a Mercedes so you can go to church or take the kids to school. God will help get you to church and your kids to school, but not necessarily in a Mercedes.

The psychological benefits of prayer are obvious—focusing your emotions by praying can help to relieve stress, calm fears, reduce anxiety, and impart calm in the midst of a storm. Praying on a regular basis can have an enormous effect on your psyche by stabilizing your moods, giving you a feeling of well-being, both physical and psychological, improving how you interact with others, and positively changing how you conduct yourself.

But prayer can be a boon to physical health in addition to emotional health. The physiological benefits of praying can be very far-reaching. These benefits have been studied and fully documented in medical journals. There is also a wealth of information on the benefits of praying before risky medical surgery. In a number of important studies, patients who prayed before surgery came through their operations in much better shape than those who did not pray.

Some of the most powerful and successful political leaders all over the world have professed to praying on a regular basis. The power of prayer has helped them to overcome poverty in their countries, keep their people together, and stand up to their enemies with courage and resolve.

Does God answer all prayers? I believe that God does indeed answer every prayer. It may not be the answer we are looking for, but He does answer in His own way and in His own time. Often we become impatient and expect fast results. Sometimes it may take a lifetime to get an answer. Therefore, praying and patience must go hand in hand—praying on a regular basis teaches patience and strengthens faith in God, no matter who you think of as God. There are literally thousands of articles and stories published each year by publications such as Guideposts, Angels on Earth, and Readers Digest, to name a few, about people from all walks of life who have used prayer to benefit themselves or loved ones, often with the unexpected result of receiving more than they asked for.

So does praying really help? The answer is a resounding yes. There is an enormous amount of evidential, testimonial, and scientific proof that prayer really does help us emotionally and physically, not only in our time of need, but also—and most importantly—in our everyday lives.

By Gary Orlando

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Healing the Grieving Heart

Someone to whom you have given love and from whom you have received love has died. You are in mourning. You are bereft. To be “bereaved” literally means “to be torn apart” and “to have special needs.” I am truly sorry for your loss.

Perhaps your most important “special need” right now is to be compassionate with yourself. Over my years of walking with people in grief, I have learned that many of us are hard on ourselves when we are in mourning. We often have inappropriate expectations of how “well” we should be doing with our grief (Wolfelt, 2001).

These expectations result from common societal messages that tell us to be strong in the face of grief. We are told to “carry on,” to “keep our chins up,” and to “keep busy.” In actuality, when we are in grief, we need to slow down, to turn inward, to embrace our feelings of loss and to seek and accept support.

Good self-care is essential during a time of mourning. It does not mean that you are feeling sorry for yourself; rather, it means you are allowing yourself to heal. For it is in nurturing ourselves, in allowing ourselves the time and loving attention we need to journey through our grief, that we find meaning in our continued living (Wolfelt, 2001).

The following is a list of things to consider as you go through the journey of mourning:

1. Understanding the difference between grief and mourning.

Grief is the constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone loved dies.
Mourning is the outward expression of grief.

Everyone who has the capacity to give and receive love grieves when someone loved dies, but if we are to heal, we must also mourn.

2. Be compassionate with yourself.

The journey through grief is a long and difficult one. It is also a journey for which there is no preparation.

Don’t judge yourself or try to set a particular course for healing. Each person’s grieving process is unique. Each of us has unique needs during this process.

3. Acknowledge the reality of the death.

You must gently confront the difficult reality that someone you loved is dead and will never physically be present to you again.

Whether the death was sudden or anticipated, acknowledging the full reality of the loss may occur over weeks and months.

You will first acknowledge the reality of the loss with your head. Only over time will you come to acknowledge it with your heart.

At times, you may push away the reality of the death. This is normal.

4. Embrace the pain of the loss.

It is easier to avoid, repress, or push away the pain of grief than it is to confront it.
You will probably need to “dose” yourself in embracing your pain. If you were to allow all the pain at once, you could not survive.

5. Expect to have a multitude of feelings.

When in grief, we don’t just feel sad. We may feel numb, angry, guilty, afraid, or confused. Sometimes these feelings follow each other within a short period of time or they may occur simultaneously.

6. Know that grief does not proceed in orderly predictable stages or in a certain time.

Be compassionate with yourself as you go through your own unique grief journey.

7. Remember the person who died.

When someone loved dies, that person lives on in us through memory.

To heal, you need to actively remember the person who died and commemorate the life that was lived.
Never let anyone take your memories away in a misguided attempt to save you from pain. It is good for you to continue to display photos of the person who died.

8. Develop a new self-identity.

Part of your self-identity was formed by the relationship you had with the person who passed away. You will need to re-anchor yourself and reconstruct your self-identity slowly.

9. Receive ongoing support from others.

As mourners, we need the love and understanding of others if we are to heal.

Don’t feel ashamed by your dependence on others right now. Grief is a process, not an event, and you will need the continued support of your friends and family for weeks, months and years. You may also wish to seek support from a counselor.

10. Allow for numbness.

Feelings of shock, numbness and disbelief are nature’s way of temporarily protecting us from the full reality of the death of someone loved.

We often think, “I will wake up and this will not have happened.” Mourning can feel like being in a dream.

11. Plan or participate in a meaningful ceremony for the person who died.

Rituals are symbolic activities that help us, together with our families and friends, express our deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s most important events.

12. Be aware that your grief affects your body, heart, social self and spirit.

Grief is physically demanding. The body responds to the stress of the encounter and the immune system can weaken, making you more susceptible to illness.
The emotional toll of grief is complex and painful. We often feel many different feelings, and those feelings can shift and blur over time.

13. Allow yourself to cry.

Crying is a cleansing and healing form of mourning.

14. Reach out and touch.

For many people, physical contact with another person is healing.

15. Express your faith.

If you have faith or spirituality, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you.

This may come in the form of praying. Studies have shown that praying helps people heal.

16. Simplify your life.

During grief, we are often overwhelmed by all the tasks and commitments we have.

During this time it can be helpful to keep your life simple.

17. Allow yourself to say no.

Especially soon after the death, you may lack the energy as well as the desire to participate in activities you use to find pleasurable.

18. Be mindful of anniversaries and holidays.

Anniversaries--- of the death, life events, birthdays, and holidays --- can be especially hard when you are in grief. Reach out to others on these difficult days.

19. Reassess your priorities.

What gives your life meaning? What doesn’t? Take steps to spend more time on the things that give your life meaning.

20. Allow for feelings of unfinished business.

Death often brings about feelings of unfinished business. The sudden loss of a loved one can be very different than the anticipated loss of a loved one. After a sudden death we may be left with feelings of things we never did, things we didn’t get to say, things we wish we hadn’t said or done. Allow yourself to think and feel through these “if onlys”. You may never be able to fully resolve these issues, but if you permit yourself to mourn them, you will become reconciled to them.

21. Write a letter to your loved one.

Is there something you wanted to say to the person who died, but never did? Write him or her a letter and openly express thoughts and feelings.

22. Establish a memorial fund in the name of the person who died.

What was meaningful to the person who died? Did he or she support a certain non-profit organization or participate in a certain recreational activity?

23. Count your blessings.

You may not feel very good about your life right now. That’s O.K. Still, you are blessed. Your life has purpose and meaning. It will just take you some time to think and feel this through for yourself.

This was adapted from the Book Healing Your Grieving Heart by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Please be informed that MY Confidential's principal email account has been reclaimed by Johana Dato' Johari with the help of Google Team. Business and services resumes as usual.

Thank you for your patience and continuous support. Stay blessed!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alert: Scam Mail!!

Dear Readers, Clients and Followers,

MY Confidential's email account ( has been compromised. The hackers had sent scam mails to all on the contact list. PLEASE IGNORE AND DO NOT RESPOND! Our principal, Johana Dato' Johari is NOT in Scotland and neither is she stuck for money. Please refrain from using that email address to contact us for the time being. The best option for the interim is to call our hotline number or the individual counselors directly.

Any development towards reclaiming the aforesaid email account will be communicated here at this blog site. Apologies for any inconvenience. Thank you for your continuous support.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spiritual Needs

Your feelings of stress or anxiety may be your mind's way of telling you to attend to your spiritual needs. The inspiration gained from spirituality is an essential part of the healing process. Mind, body, and spirit are inseparable. Making an overt connection with your spirit will provide healing for your mind and body. Prayer is a powerful healer as well. Praying for someone else is more effective than praying for yourself.

Belief in God helps put our problems in the right perspective. The ones we have no control on can be left to God to worry about. When there are problems that seem insurmountable, isn't it nice to believe that everything is for good and God has a reason for subjecting you to these problems. We will then see the positive side of these problems and will come out better from this experience.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Is your marriage in trouble?


When you get married, everything is beautiful. A few years later, the baby comes along. Then another.

Soon, both you and your spouse are so busy taking care of the family and earning an income that you hardly connect emotionally or mentally as husband and wife anymore.

Having children changes a marriage, naturally. But it doesn't mean your marriage has to suffer.

Registered and licensed mental health professional Johana Datuk Johari sees a lot of couples in her line of work. She says couples should make sure they have a relationship first before they get married and have children.

“First you get to know each other, then when you like the person you start courting. When you can relate to one another, then only can you call it a relationship. Anything short of that cannot be called a relationship.

“A lot of people jump into marriage without even having a relationship. And then they wonder why, when the baby comes, they find themselves in a place they don't like and they're disappointed because their expectations are not met. These are the things that need to be clarified first.

“People get married because they're in love. When you're in love, everything looks nice. But you need to ask yourself, can you like that person? Because, there are times when you feel you want to strangle your spouse but it's the 'like' that makes you want to hang on. There are times when you think 'I don't love you but I like you, so I'll stay on',” she says.

Relationship first

Johana believes that without a strong relationship, having a baby can actually break a marriage. She says that having a child will not save a marriage and children are never a good enough reason to stay on in a marriage.

She advises couples to have a strong relationship before bringing children into the picture.

“A lot of people think that just because they're married, that that secures everything. No. There's a big difference between a relationship and a marriage. A marriage is a certificate saying that you are the husband and you are the wife but if you don't have a relationship then the marriage is worthless; it's just a piece of paper. What adds value to the marriage is the relationship. And, if you don't relate to one another you don't have a relationship.”

When a baby comes along, the couple finds their limits pushed to the maximum. They're both tired and stressed and lacking sleep. Whose turn is it to change the baby or comfort the baby when he cries?

The roles – who does what with regards to the chores in the house and taking care of the baby – need to be discussed and agreed upon, says Johana.

“Negotiation is not just between business partners. Especially for life partners, you should have an agreement. You should come to the table and say, 'Okay, this is what I can offer into the relationship and this is what I can offer as a wife and mother, and this is what I need in return'.

“And the man does the same thing. 'This is what I can offer as a husband, this is what I can offer as a father, but this is what I need in return'.

“Then you see whether you can jive. If there are any differences, that's when you negotiate and compromise.”

The talking, renegotiation and compromising has to continue over the years as the children grow up because with the circumstances are always changing.

Johana rubbishes the myth that having a child can cause a breakup. She says it is often because there was no relationship to begin with or the relationship wasn't strong enough.

“There was an assumed responsibility and expectation upon the other person but it was not discussed therefore it was not met. Therefore, you find two people very frustrated and disappointed with each other and with themselves and not knowing why,” she explains.

Regaining the 'us'

Will more communication help?

While communication is important, Johana says it is not the magic tonic for every problem. Often a couple may think they are communicating but are they really listening? Communication is not just about getting your opinion heard; it's also about listening.

How about having a “date night” with your husband?

Yes, it can help but you need to focus on your spouse and temporarily forget about the children.

Citing her own marriage as an example, Johana says she and her husband have an “anniversary honeymoon” every year even though they've been together for 21 years now.

“We agree not to discuss the children. We just get in touch with the two individuals who fell in love and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

“Most often we get lost in the roles we are supposed to play as a mother and wife or a father and husband that we forget the individual; we forget who we are and who we were prior to the relationship.

“So it is good to look at each other with fresh eyes and appreciate each other as who you are now and see how far you've come. It's a really great way to look at your milestones.

“There's no point having a ritual date night and say you must do it at least once a week or once a month and when you go you just talk about the kids. You must want to be with each other. A lot of couples who end up in my (counselling) office have nothing in common except for the children.

Johana: 'The kids are never a good enough reason to save the marriage.'

“The kids are never a good enough reason to save the marriage. If you want to stay in the marriage because of the children then your marriage doesn't stand a chance because you don't want to be together. You just want to be in the marriage for the sake of the kids.

“The kids don't need your marriage. The kids need their parents. It doesn't matter if the parents are together or apart as long as their parents are there for them when they need them.

“So, don't use the kids as a reason to stay married.

“If you want to work at the relationship and marriage then work at it because there's something worthy in it.”

Regaining 'me'

As for those who feel like they have lost their identity and now are only somebody's wife and somebody's mother, Johana says most of the time this only happens to stay-at-home mums.

It's natural for them to feel this way if 90% of their time is devoted to the children and the balance to the husband.

Those who feel this way often have no “me” time and that means they are not managing their time well. They then need to take a look at their priorities.

Johana advises those who feel they have lost themselves and their individuality to rethink their priorities.

“When the child is sleeping you can have some time out for yourself, some 'me' time. And reconnect with yourself by doing the things that you love doing; what were the things that made you feel happy and when you do them made you feel strong? Those are your strengths. You need to do all those things again, engage in those activities in order for you to feel connected to yourself.”

Having “me” time does not make you a bad mother so don't feel guilty about it.

To be an effective wife and mother, you need some “me” time.

Says Johana:

“If we don't help ourselves then how can we be there to give to those who need us? You want to give yourself to your child, but if you don't have 'you' to give, then what have you got? Nothing. Zero. You end up becoming emotionally, physically and mentally bankrupt because you never gave yourself a chance to recharge, re-energise or rest.”

The new love triangle

To make matters worse, a woman will sometimes find herself in a love triangle as both her child and her husband vie for her attention. And, the husband seems jealous of their child.

Yes, there are such situations. Johana says this happens when the husband was mothered by the wife in the pre-baby days.

Naturally, if you encourage that then when the baby comes along the husband feels left out and is in the same boat as those going through the first-child syndrome. He will then be competing with the child for the wife's attention.

Johana pulls no punches with her advice for such a situation:

“Don't mother your husband! Be a wife to him. He's got a mother already!”

According to her, there are also cases where the husband no longer views the wife as a wife. To him, a “mother” is sacred and he then sees the mother of his child as sacred and is turned off sexually.

“I point out to them that first of all he did not marry your mother; he married his wife. And it is their child who should idolise his wife, not him.”

When in doubt

If you think the relationship is strained or in trouble, after the baby comes, then seek help.

It doesn't matter who you go to as long as you find someone who can help you with your relationship. If there is strain in the husband-wife relationship, then it is about the relationship; it's not about the baby.

Johana advises against waiting for the last minute to get help.

“Don't wait till you think you're heading for a divorce. The moment you feel that something is not right, you'll know because you feel frustrated and disappointed. Those are already signs and symptoms that something is not right. So, before it gets to the point where you're sick of each other, please seek help.

“Don't try to fix it yourself. Nobody can. Even counsellors go to another counsellor for marriage counselling.”

A happy relationship between a father and mother makes a happy family because when you have a happy relationship, you have a happy marriage and a happy family.

It all starts from the relationship between the husband and wife.

Source: ParenThots