Friday, March 26, 2010


Experiencing loss in any realm can be extremely difficult, such as the loss of an object that held special meaning, the unexpected loss of a job or the loss a loved one. Events such as these typically bring up feelings of sadness, disappointment, confusion, anger, frustration and hurt.

There is no right or wrong way to handle loss. Everyone deals differently with uncomfortable feelings. Some people cry on the spot. Some people nervously laugh. Some people yell passionately. Some people withdraw. Some people talk. Some people write. Some people pray. Some people run. Some people sleep. Some people do a combination of these things. Some people don’t do any of these things. There are infinite ways to cope with loss, which is an unavoidable part of living.

Many people hear the word “loss” and think in negative terms. When thought of from a different perspective, one might discover some positives. One that pops into mind is that loss provides the opportunity to learn. Some questions one might ask are: “How does this loss fit into my life on a larger spectrum? Am I able to see how the loss might serve a purpose?” These remind me of the quote, “When one door closes, another opens.” Ask yourself what opportunities have been granted as a result of the loss?

Loss may also provide the chance to learn more about oneself. What was it that made the loss so influential and what areas in your life did the loss most strongly impact? The answers can help to identify things that you truly value in life. Furthermore, one might reflect on how the loss was handled. Would you do anything differently the next time you experience similar feelings? Why or why not?

In addition to becoming more familiar with oneself, loss may also bring you closer to others. Support groups are often available for those struggling with similar situations and friendships are frequently enhanced as supports come to the aid of the ailing. It can be a time of camaraderie and solidarity, despite the loss.

It is difficult not to focus on the end result of a loss, and while it’s important to allow oneself to experience the negative feelings associated with loss, being open to view the loss in a different light will aid the healing process.


Katie Anson, MA, LPC

Friday, March 19, 2010

Outside In

Simply touching something warm may make you feel warmly toward others, finds a study in the Oct 24 issue of Science (Vol. 322, No. 5,091). Yale researchers asked undergraduate study participants to hold a cup of coffee- either hot or iced- and then to rate the personality traits of a fictitious person. Those who had held the hot coffee saw the person as more generous, sociable and good-natured than those who had held the cold cup. Lead author Lawrence Williams, PhD, now at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says the findings suggest that people may be more sensitive to cues in their physical environments than we often think. “We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of our surroundings in shaping our thoughts, feelings and actions,” he says.

- Monitor on Psychology, January 2009 Vol.40, No.1

I never thought too much about my morning cup of coffee- until I stumbled upon this excerpt. I know, like most people, a little bit about the mind-body connection- sufficient sleep is crucial for mental performance, a good workout can produce endorphins which contribute to a positive mood, adequate food is necessary to keep the mind functioning optimally.

But “simply touching something warm may make you feel warmly toward others”? Wow. I sure could use that piece of information the next time I’m feeling crabby toward my husband.

I was fascinated by what the Yale researchers found because their study demonstrated just how impactful the environment is on not only our inner thoughts and feelings toward ourselves, but also toward others. It seems to me that that warm cuppa joe made the holder of the cup feel warm inside (feel good about themselves) so that the holder could feel warm toward others (feel good about everyone else).

It is pretty obvious that we can’t really feel good toward others without taking care of ourselves first, but many people in today’s modern hustle and bustle neglect to put self-care on the top of their to-do list. So many of us (me included) run around with crazy schedules, trying to take care of others in our lives without taking the time to rest or re-charge.

If this study is true, then one significant step that we can take toward self-care is changing the negative influencers in our surroundings. Is your cubicle at work cluttered and uninspiring? Are your walls at home a gloomy shade of gray? Do you spend a lot of time watching sad movies? Do you take the time to make hot, home-cooked dinners, or are most of your meals eaten cold, out of a plastic box?

Taking care of yourself and your relationships could be as simple as surrounding yourself with things you love, consuming foods that warm your heart, and listening to music that can bring you to lovely faraway places. If we can change the outside, then maybe how we feel inside can also change.

As for me, the next time I feel irritation and impatience arising toward my loved ones, I’m going to fix myself a nice mug of hot tea, breathe, and turn on the radio to the jazz channel.

Jolene Hwee

Jolene is a Master's level intern at TAC. She co-leads the Tuesday night ANAD support group.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Let your creative self shine

In the ‘hustle and bustle’ of our daily lives we have a hard time finding (or making) time for ourselves. Getting time to ‘stop and smell the roses’ is a foreign concept in which we often don’t think we can take time for, or even deserve. Noticing our senses, managing our breathing, and simply taking in the small things are all part of getting the best quality of this wonderful life.

To add one more item on the lengthy list of ‘to-dos,’ I ask that you find one way you are able to let your creativity shine through. This task does not mean to be taxing, but a way to explore more of you, slow down, and have a healthy outlet to all that may be going on in your lives. I believe creativity is an innate quality, we just have it hidden somewhere and we haven’t always given it the time to sneak out and present itself to us.

Finding our creativity may be something as fun as finding the rhythm to a song and dancing around the house to a beat you have made up. It could be singing at the top of your lungs and finding your voice is pretty great. Making little or big sketches while in transit or while on a break from work is a way to release this sparkle that we are given as well. Another way to brighten up or liven up the routine is to use fun colored markers or pens.

The options can be as cheap or as much as you would like. Getting construction paper and making stationary, making labels for items around the house, repainting furniture or picture frames, arranging flowers or even a room. There are many ideas that show our side of creativity that often times we are not even aware we have. If you don’t see yourself as a creative being, that is alright, you don’t have to start big. Grab a small, blank notebook and just start doodling. Shutting your eyes is always a good warm up. Turn on music for even 3 minutes at a time and see what appears on the page. It is a very freeing experience to have a book of scribbles or lines and not have judgment.

Whatever it is you find to bring out your creativity, own it. We are never too old for creating or making art. This is an expression of us that isn’t always visible. Just take a couple times a week to explore yourself through your very own imagination. It is a part of you that may be a nice surprise to be revealed. Just give it a whirl. Find highlighters, pens, or colored pencils, use nail polish or markers with water to make watercolor. Whatever the medium, take the time to enjoy the process, enjoy yourself, and simply be.

Anne Riley

Anne is a Master's level intern at TAC. She facilitates the Art Therapy group (sliding scale available) on Thursday evenings.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Self-Love: Can we just talk about me for a minute?

Most children pop out into the world and just know they are great. They love themselves, they love people around them. When we get to adulthood many of us have been taught to un-love ourselves. So what happens between childhood and adulthood? Some have learned to place others above themselves, experienced trauma, taught that self-love is somehow immodest…and then we spend so much of our adult lives vacillating between wanting to love ourselves and not knowing how to start to go about loving ourselves or even having permission to do so. Self love can be the underpinning of abundance, career, friendship and creativity.

How do you start? Starting to make your way to self love may involve looking for a time in your life when you remember that you loved yourself? Loved your personality? Loved your body? Was it early in childhood? Was it babyhood? What did it feel like? That memory may serve as a template.

How differently would you live if you treated yourself with love all day? Would you walk differently? Eat differently? Dress differently? Have more fun? Would you have a different career path? Different friends? Hobbies?

For those who have unlearned to put themselves first – or who have had it taken away, returning to that love can involve a learning curve. It can take some getting-used-to-it. Some think that self love is elusive and can only be achieved once all the un-love and forbidden emotions have been removed from one’s thought system. As if there is some policing darkness that won’t allow us to pass into the forbidden continent of “love for self”. This can be valid - other emotions are likely to show up along the path to self love. However, I’m suggesting that the process can be gentler than that. Self love can be gentle. And it can be learned gently. Self love can also be fierce, that no matter what, you can hold love for yourself.

Consider that the interfering thoughts (insecurity, anger, sadness, etc.) can occur at the same time as self love. So, you can be angry AND have self-love at the same time. You can throw a party for a friend AND have self love. You can be impatient in line AND have self love.

What do you admire about yourself? Are you a great friend? Do you expand your mind by reading? Do you have a great eye? Can you find beauty in simple things? That may be the easiest place to start. You may also ask a friend what they love about you and try to see yourself from that perspective. Gratitude is a great door into self-love.

And if all else fails, give a compliment. If you can see a quality (joy, intelligence, problem-solving, etc.) in another, then it is likely that you possess that same quality. Perhaps without even knowing it. Take it a step further and give yourself that compliment.

Lastly, a great way to find self-love is to give to yourself. Is there a color you have been craving? Give yourself that color. Draw it, color it, paint it, put it on your toenails, put some food dye in a glass of water and admire that color in a window sill in the sun. That color may represent self-love to you in that moment or day or week. Give yourself time, appreciation, quiet and still. Take yourself on a date. What have you been craving to do? Go to an art store, or sit in a park? Give it to yourself.

You may even thank yourself. Or even, dare I say?...Love yourself.


Erin Diedling, MEd, LPC

Saturday, March 13, 2010