Wendy\'s Blog

If you’re depressed, you are all too familiar with that listless, foggy, draggy feeling. Depression can negatively affect our personal lives, our work life, our sense of ambition.  Left unmanaged, it can snowball into much bigger problems.

As a cloud of gloom settles on you and the depression makes you too exhausted to do anything, these simple time-tested remedies can at least give you a little step in the right direction so that you can soon overcome that empty feeling.

1Force Yourself to Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night.  That means, under the covers, lights out.  Many scientific studies have proven that the way to get little kids to go to bed is to build a routine – the same things happen in the same order each night so they are triggered into sleepiness. Turns out, it works for grownups too! My routine when I feel a depression cloud coming on: 45 minutes before my chosen bedtime, I turn off all electronics; take a warm shower; wear my most comfortable jammies;  turn off all the lights except the reading lamp beside my bed; then read a well-written book that interests me mentally but does not grab me emotionally.  This takes my mind off my problems.  I quit reading as soon as my eyelids get too heavy. Poof! I’m asleep fast and the last thing on my mind has nothing to do with the thing(s) I think are making me feel blue.

2Go Third Person on Yourself.  When a writer writes a story, he has the choice to use what is called “first person” or “third person”.  First person is, “I went to the store.”  Third person is, “She went to the store.”  One common trait among depressed people is Continue reading

 

So you don’t have Warren Buffett’s money, Angelina Jolie’s good looks, Mother Teresa’s charitable heart, or Richard Branson’s business skills?

Drat. Me neither.

I wonder if the cave men sat around the campfire wondering if some tribe 100 miles west had better tasting antelope or more comfy animal skins to sleep on? Probably not.

So why do we allegedly modern humans compare ourselves to one another – and most of the time find ourselves coming up short?

Could it be the fault of television and the internet?

How else would a person living today on the Mongolian steppes even know there are palm trees in Hollywood?

How would some kid being raised in poverty in an inner city slum even realize that some other kids have two parents and a bedroom stuffed with toys in a clean, peaceful, safe suburb?

What Does It Do for Us When We Compare Our Lives with Those of Another?

I can think of three benefits: Continue reading

Do You Suffer from Low Self-Esteem?

Think back to your younger years. Were you raised by the perfect parents, people who supported you and your interests, encouraged you to go as far as you could, to spread your wings and soar? Did you know that they had your back and there was always a safe place called “home” to which you could return?

No? Wish you’d had those kind of people raising you? Bad News: They are a myth. A myth that does us no good.

Most people grow up being raised by inadequately prepared human beings who were raised by other inadequately prepared human beings back into the mists of time. Some people even grow up with damaged, malicious parents who didn’t even try. Maybe your home was OK but you had a sibling or a bully in your life whose sole purpose was to make you miserable. Maybe you took a wrong turn and ended up dropping out of school, marrying the wrong person, having a kid too early in your life, losing a good job or blowing all your money.

Maybe somewhere between your glorious, potential-filled moment of birth and today, things have not turned out so good.

Welcome to the planet! A lot of people have reached adulthood with our so-called self-esteem in tatters, or worse – completely gone.

Suspect that might be you?

The Self Esteem Quiz

(Answer Yes or No to the questions below) Continue reading

“Good” people are taught they should forgive their abusers.

“Bad” people are embroiled in hate, submerged anger or depression. (*Depression is defined as “Anger turned inward”)

Using this ridiculously simple, black & white worldview, will you label yourself a “good” person or a “bad” one?

I vote for neither.

  • A woman in her 50s nursed her dying stepfather in his last years…the same man who abused her and her 3 siblings often. She wanted to be a “good” person. She came up with a long list of “reasons” that justified his abuse of his new wife’s children, even while he spoiled his own natural kids.

 

  • An elderly man is still mourning his mentally unstable mother some 20 years after her death. The same mother who often left him alone in their Bronx apartment, without adequate food or protection from the neighborhood gangs…when he was four years old until he ran away when he was 14.

 

  • A busy working mother in her 30s still leaps to serve her parents, two miserably unhappy, alcoholic, always bickering people who were so caught up in their own misery that they ignored her and her sister entirely.

 
While it is likely true that forgiveness will make you feel better (many religions and some therapists ask you to consider this option) and probably even will help you move on with your life, those caught up in trying to please an unpleasable (or dead) person are locked into a cycle of misery. How long do you want to stay miserable?

Do you find yourself consumed with trying to finally get love from, soothe or mend a broken relationship with any abusive person in your life?

Have you come to a place where you can justify the abuser’s actions to anyone who asks, including yourself…and then you use that excuse to beat yourself up for not feeling more loving toward your abuser?

Did you know that the people we choose to be in relationship with as adults are often those most similar in core personality to those who hurt us? Yes, that’s because we unconsciously try to resolve the difficult prior relationship by interacting with a similar person, hoping to get a different result this time. P.S. Without third party intervention (usually therapy) and change on both your parts, this doesn’t work.

Do you suspect you are not a “good” person unless you manage to forgive the unforgivable, but fear that you might be a “bad” person for letting yourself be abused in the first place?

This is the conundrum – the mixed-up part – of having been abused. If you see the matter in black & white now that you’re a grown up, what you need is a new pair of glasses. Maybe not rose-colored, but certainly capable of seeing the situation fully. Read on… Continue reading

Everyone talks about “surviving” abuse, getting “through” it, getting “past it”. Some even talk about learning to forgive our abusers. But what happens after all that?

What happens once you finally escape an abuser?

What do you do when you wake up a year or ten years later and realize the impact of the abuse still lingers in your heart and soul? Or that it still secretly directs the way you think about yourself and others?

  • The little boy inside who remembers being beaten up – or helplessly watching someone hurt the people he loves
  • The little girl inside who remembers with conflicted emotion the sexual abuses perpetrated against her
  • The member of an abusive cult or “religion” that constantly waved the fear of death or divine punishment for any misdeed
  • The grown woman whose accuser justified his beatings by telling her she is bad, ugly or inadequate in some way.

You may be far away from those instances of abuse. You may be “safe” today. But the message embedded by abuse – that we are helpless, small, defenseless, inadequate, stupid or deeply unlovable – can crop up in the lives of victims and wreck havoc.

It can cause us to feel powerless in the world, secretly unable to cope. It may taint our ability to easily handle the relatively normal mishaps of adult life. It can cause us to abuse our bodies with drugs, food or alcohol. It may make us less alert to potential danger signals from people or places and thus cause us to be re-victimized. It may even cause us to ignore others being abused around us.

Some victims have even internalized the abuser’s harsh judgment and morphed it into a vicious inner critic that screams, “You deserve this! You are worthless!”

We don’t have to let past abuse command our present lives any longer. Here are some Continue reading

I woke up this morning with absolute certainty that a specific part of my life needs to change. Have you ever had that feeling? The sense that you’ve struggled long enough to resolve something, nothing is working, and now you just simply will not tolerate it anymore?

What did you do about it?

It seems to be a fairly human thing to try to ignore it, deny it, not look at it. Anything is easier than facing our demons, getting to the bottom of stuff, and doing the work (which may include going through some pain) to get a different result.

You know that old definition of insanity, right?

I’ve been here before, for changes huge and medium-sized. Maybe you have too? So this is a reminder to us all that the 3 ways we humans really change anything are these:

ONE:
Get absolutely certain that things must change and you must change them. Wishy-washy, maybe, minor discomforts rarely empower us to make radical, massive changes in our lives. Continue reading

In Missouri with my father

In Missouri with my father

As I write this, I am in rural Missouri visiting my biological father.  I met him when I was 28, and have seen him perhaps 10 times since.  He has been married to my wonderful, kind-hearted, patient stepmother for more than 40 years now.

Being around them has made me reflect on my relationship with my “real” parents – the ones who raised me in Chicago.  Here, I have the chance to see what it is like to be around someone who loves me enormously, but with whom I have no triggers, no history, no memories even.  (He left when I was four.)

In the relatively rare position of having two sets of parents as an adult, one of which I didn’t know as a child, I can compare how quickly my mother can get under my skin with how my father doesn’t.

I have to remind myself of the points below when my mother’s personality catches me off guard, despite how much I love and appreciate her.  But as for my father, I can shake my head and wonder how anyone can think as he does about political or other topics, but it doesn’t bring up a flicker of emotion.  Nothing he says or does really pushes my buttons, because I don’t have any with him.  I can calmly accept the things he does that I judge as quirky, strange or wrong.  I watch myself smiling it off because I have no skin in the game.

I once read:

“Why does your mother push all your buttons? . . . Because she installed them.”

I really love my mom.  We get along nicely now. She is very dear and important in my life. Yet for years, I was conflicted over the relationship.  I have come to realize a few things that have helped me to be more loving, patient and kind with the woman who spent so many years and so much energy raising me, her most difficult child.  Perhaps this will help you, too?

    • Parents have their own history.  They had their own parents – who may or may not have been loving –  and their own genetics, illnesses and fears.  They have traveled their own path and they became the people their lives seem to have driven them to become.  Could they have fought against it?  Apparently not! 

 

    • A generation ago, people had different ideas about how children should be raised.  If you mix in the effects of education, religion and/or poverty, you create a very different environment than the one in which you and I were raised.  In Victorian times, children were see as basically short adults, and expected to quickly take on responsibilities. Now we prolong childhood into a person’s 20s in many cases.  The best you can do is determine to raise your own children differently than you were, to the extent that you didn’t like your childhood.  It’s too late to change yours.

 

    • People born before the 1980s didn’t have access to computers.  Oddly, my stepmother at 76 is quite good at her computer.  My mother at 74 can’t turn one on.  My mother has hundreds of books.  My stepmother only has the Bible and a book of Whitman’s poetry.  Think of how much you have learned from having access to the enormous resource of your computer – and how subtly or profoundly the explosion of knowledge availability has changed the way you think, believe and behaveWas it like that for your parents?

If you weigh nature vs. nurture, and you know even a little about what their childhood was like, evaluate the journey your parents have been on since before you were born.  When you fold in their cultural elements, economic situation, education level of their parents, the lack of access to modern knowledge, and the nature of the people who raised them, it becomes easier to see our parents with mercy, maybe even pity, and disconnect the triggers that irritate or alarm us.  It becomes easier to see them as humans, struggling to get by in the world.

Our relationship with our parents is the deepest of our lives.  For many people, it is also the longest of our lives. As adults, we have the opportunity to observe ourselves reacting to them.  We are at complete choice to change how we feel – in the moment and later – when we’ve had time to reflect on all the influences that created them.

 

Like this blog? Hate it? Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your comments below!

If you or a loved one are hurting today, please get yourself a copy of my free ebook.

When you’re ready, please help yourself to this comforting, helpful eBook

Stop Hurting and Start Healing