Suicide Aftershocks: VOl IV Positivity as Self-hatred –Socially acceptable grief and Apparently I’m either not sad enough or too happy –Who Knew?

Time continues to pass for us all and as I approach the 15 month “post suicide” marker, I’m amazed by the expectations people have about how they think I should behave.

Situationally, if I’m not sad enough I’ve gotten called out in some shaming way for being too happy, and then reminded—like I might forget—that my husband did kill himself.  Or, I’m sad for a moment in time and am quickly reminded that it’s been long enough—buck up and think positively.  As though thinking positively when I feel lost or alone or afraid is a panacea for all that ails me.

Initially when this began happening, I thought, “Well, I can’t please everyone so screw it!”  (or something a bit less kind!)  The first few happenings did throw me.  I second guessed myself, briefly thinking maybe they’re right.   It was easy to do because I’m still juggling the “why” question about my husband’s choice and what part I played, if any, in how the situation unfolded.  Guilt and shame can be an easy go-to when things are FUBAR.

A few weeks ago I asked my friend T—she and her husband showed up immediately the morning of the suicide-“how did I present—how did I act that day”?  So much of those first 24 hours felt like I was a watcher and removed one

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degree from the reality occurring around me.

 

She said that I had a weird smile on all day and that I was trying to take care of everyone else.  The policeman assigned to babysit me, her, the 5 dogs and the other 2 people who came to support me.

That was me trying to hold the state of positivity.  Keep the mask on.  Hold the illusion that all is well or will be.  You’re not good enough to expect support unless you’re bright and shiny, so stay shiny.

Of course, I wasn’t holding that as a conscious thought at the time.  Hindsight and deep exploration in the breakdown of the world I’ve known allows me to see that illusion clearly now!

When “positive thinking” is used in this manner—shaming self and hiding, ignoring, suppressing, distancing or judging our thoughts and emotions, we are making orphans of various aspects of ourselves.  Abandoning any part of self is an act of self-hatred.  Ugly or mean thoughts are nothing to be ashamed of, and when not acted upon are generally benign.  We are human.   We bring our past to the table until we learn to bear witness to and include all of our experiences and thoughts with curiosity rather than judgment.

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Abstract business background.

These last 6 years I’ve been primarily a caretaker for others in various situations and varying degrees of F-ed up! My world went quiet after my husband’s suicide which left a lot of time for me to consider my patterns of behavior and ways of being.  I was faced with many opportunities to be “positive”.

The whole construct of positive thinking is exclusive and perpetuates the unhealthy dichotomy of ; good/bad; right/wrong; now/then, while at the same time creating the expectation of an unobtainable state.  The state of ALWAYS being positive!  No matter what we do, we will still be human with a wide range of emotions and a society that thrives on labeling and judgment.

Love of self would allow all thoughts and aspects of self to well-up, including them and witnessing them as part of the whole that we are.  After all—it’s just a thought.  I don’t take action on all my thoughts and none of them should be judged as unworthy.  Some thoughts are simply no longer useful.  What if thoughts are simply surfacing in our awareness to be healed or learned from—transformed and/or released?   What if some thoughts are the fast-track to self healing is inclusion?

What if we simply allowed all of our experiences to be just experiences—Zen like, neither good nor bad—neither positive or negative?  Simply markers in time that we can either learn from and transform, or repeat and judge.  Inclusion is always an option.  And as thought precedes action—awareness of our thoughts creates dynamic changes in our actions which changes our experiences.Mayan Mystery Pyramid

As for me—I’m happy to be happy and I’m happy for the moments when I’m not. The sad/hard moments are opportunities to make distinctions and to clarify and heal aspects of my life so there can be more forward movement in whatever direction I choose.

So rather than “positive thinking”, perhaps a shift to appreciation and gratitude as a choice in awareness and a way of life might be more inclusive and allowing for all aspects of self to integrate. This shift creates inclusion where all thoughts are welcome, the perceived positive and negative!

Of course, we’re always well served when in control and mindful of what comes out of our mouths!

Here’s to growing awareness and inclusion of every part of “ME” and thoughtful awareness of how we choose to express!

With warmest aloha,

 

Kim

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RISE!

 

This month’s challenge:

A practice in Positive thinking to notice what you like rather than what you don’t.  We’re not seeking to change anything about you –simply creating a new habit of looking for what’s “right” wonderful and inspiring!

3x daily stop and notice your surroundings and acknowledge what’s beautiful, appealing, abundant, joy filled or things you like.

SUICIDE AFTERSHOCKS: VOL III Southern Women’s Wisdom–Discomfort and the Power of a Pause

During the last few months I’ve found myself referencing my husband’s suicide in conversation as the B.E.  (Bill Event)

and making time distinctions based on before and after Bill did what he did.  It feels healthy for me and lighter than using the word suicide.  He simply did what he did-what he chose to do.business_110009277-012914-int

As time passes and I’m happier and more present, how he died is becoming almost irrelevant.  Interestingly when people ask, I pause to decide how direct I care to be in that given moment as my experience has been that most people can’t really handle the truth of suicide.  They seem ill-equipped to respond without judgment.  Most become highly uncomfortable or pretend they didn’t actually ask how he died, rather than pausing and considering a response.

Suicide.  Just the word causes discomfort. Suicide carries so many judgments—social, religions and familial.  When I do use that word, it’s not that I’m choosing to make others uncomfortable.  I am simply choosing to honor myself and respect the level of comfort I’ve been able to achieve in the aftermath of a horrific situation.

 

58d7e6020950c8147cc62a476d63af49The first statement one of my brothers made to me the day of the B.E. was, “I didn’t know your marriage was that bad”.  He maintained this position and even went so far as to publicly state that he and everyone else knew that Bill’s suicide was my fault.  This was my BROTHER! 

A person I considered a friend commented, “How could you not know—you’re so intuitive. This is what you do!  You must have known this was going to happen!”  This was a FRIEND!

My dad’s reaction to my first and only crying phone call to him in the days immediately following the B.E. was, “Quit living in the past.” He said this just prior to hanging up on me.  This was my FATHER.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do and called a girl friend—

a bit older than me and raised in south central Virginia.  Her wise counsel came in the form of a question.  After hearing my pain over the judgmental and insensitive comments being made, she asked,

“Kim, does your Father have a vagina?  Do any of these people you’re speaking with have vagina’s?

I responded no, that they did not, in fact, have vagina’s.  Her response, classic, quintessential southern pragmatism, “Don’t you know you can’t have a conversation when you’re upset with a person lacking a vagina?

Enough said.  I was laughing while crying and oh, so much better!

A girlfriend I grew up with reminded me gently, “Honey, if common sense was lard, your family wouldn’t be able to grease a pan—I don’t mean you of course!”

Another grand moment came while at different girlfriend’s house in central Virginia.  I walked into a group and reacted – inappropriately– to a random participants comment about the B.E.   I kind of lost it and got angry –I really wanted to kick this person till she bled!  (an inappropriate response, I know–but I did pause!)  To avoid any verbal escalation, I went to my friend and said I need help getting under control!  She responded with,

“Well honey, that’s what the back yard is for—you go on out there and stay as long as it takes and I’ll make you some tea!”

8 or 9 weeks after the B.E. I was heading into a meeting with 2 executives and 7 trainers of a global organ harvesting and transplant organization.  The meeting was taking place because—well, that’s another story!  This meeting was a big deal for me and I was still quite emotional but in the “let’s get’er done” frame of mind and knew I needed bucking up before entering the meeting.  Like every southern girl would—I phoned a friend—with a vagina!  She told me,

“Tighten up that corset, put on your lip gloss, lift up your chest and speak slow and syrupy sweet—you got this.”

Scarlett Tightening up!

Scarlett Tightening-up!

Southern comfort no –alcohol required!

Here’s to the strong, proud and direct women in my circle—southern or otherwise!  Thank you for the perfect and timely wisdom and powerful support!

With warmest aloha,

Kim

Challenge:

Pause.  Practice pausing and taking a breath while you mindfully consider an intentional response.  Perhaps nod your head while you pause so the person you’re with will know you’ve heard them—if on the phone, during your pause make a sound like, “hmmm” so the other knows they’ve been heard.!  This technique can create connection, deepen relationships and communication and allows you to learn to listen from a place of desiring to hear rather than from the place of desiring to be heard.  Pausing often times allows the other to hear themselves, as well!

 

 

10 traits for Deep Listening! Truly Listening vs.Hearing

Huh?

Huh?

Listening Despite Differences
Listening Despite Differences

Most of us can hear.  Hearing is an involuntary act.   But how many of us truly engage in listening to another?  Listening means we have to actually take in the auditory information that the other is parleying and then interpret that information.  Best case scenario, the listener receives the information in the way that the speaker intends for it to be heard.

Unfortunately, this is where most communication breaks down as there is no Universal Meaning to anything.  It is here where most of us, as listeners, will interpret the incoming information through the filter of our experiences and assign meaning to it.  Then we make the assumption that the meaning we’ve given is agreed upon rather than seeking clarity about the speakers intended meaning.

We’ve all done it, so we all know the type of person who assumes they know what’s coming next.  They’re the sentence finishers—the interrupters—the conversation dominators.  The assumers are the ones who are formulating what they want to say while you’re still conveying your information. 

When this happens, it simply means that the listener has stopped truly listening.  The trouble with this is that there is a basic human need to feel heard, seen and understood. 

So, how can we listen as an ACT OF SERVICE to meet another’s basic need? 

Active, deep heart-centered listening is an art form that must be cultivated.  We hear roughly 4x faster than we speak so listening must be patient, focused, present and attentive—on purpose.  The best listeners reflect back what they’ve heard for clarification.   This guarantees that they will not make assumptions.  It is common courtesy to listen attentively; it builds your empathy muscles and cultivates compassion for others.  It shows that you are committed to more than yourself—your story—and you being heard. 

10 Traits for Deep Listening!

1.      Keep the conversation on what the speaker is saying not on your response.

2.      Let others speak.  Don’t dominate conversations.

3.      Don’t finish sentences for others.

4.      Cultivate a deep desire to understand and experience what the speaker is conveying rather than assuming it is the same as your similar experience.

5.      Provide feedback so the speaker knows you’re engaged, but do not interrupt with your stories, opinion or preferences.  Smile and make eye contact.

6.      Do not offer unsolicited advice or try to solution find unless you are specifically asked!

7.      Intentionally enter conversations with no agenda of seeking their agreement or to change them, their mind or their perceptions.

8.      Give up assuming you know what anything means!

9.      Reflect what you’ve heard.  Ask questions clarifying not only what the speaker has said, but how it felt for them, what they think/feel now, and how it’s changed them if they’re relating a story.

10.  Be very present.  Square your shoulders/heart to the speaker and listen with not only your ears, but your heart—your entire body.  Listen as an act of service!

Remember, feeling heard is a basic human need.  Truly, deeply listening to another is an act of kindness that uplifts the speaker, forges a deep connection between speaker and listener, one of unity that allows us to focus on our commonalities rather than our differences.  Active, heart-centered listening creates space for differences to exist without judgment.

Joyfully and with warmest aloha from Kauai,

Kim

Communication [or a lack there of] & Unrealistic Expectations

Communicate Clearly or Leave it up to Chance?

No Jay Walking on Kauai!

The 2010 holiday season is almost over which leaves us with only a couple of more opportunities this year to interact cleanly with family and friends.  For me, CLEANLY  means responsibly, with no hidden agenda, no undelivered or unspoken communications, no assumptions or assigned meaning, no story making, no pretending, embellishing, misleading, or withholding information, and no subjugating my true nature, peacefulness and desires for the good of anyone else.  This means allowing them—the family and friends I’m interacting with, the same courtesies, without judgment while maintaining healthy boundaries.

Hhmmmmm—my first response is, “Fat Chance with my crowd”!   Translated, I clearly have not mastered the above list.  When mastered, this will be a life of the highest integrity, the most loving allowance of self and others and a profoundly uplifting model of authenticity.  So how do you eat this elephant of uncovering your authentic self and letting go of expectations?  Like any big project, one bite at a time!

Recognizing  Hidden Expectations

   A good first step is to recognize where you harbor expectations that you’ve conveniently forgotten to mention to the person(s) you have expectations of!  Next time you feel let down in a situation, ask yourself if you clearly communicated to the other person just what you wanted.  I know for myself, if I’m disappointed or let down by a situation or person, it’s because I didn’t fill them in on what I wanted.  It sets up our friends and loved ones for failure when we expect them to magically or intuitively know what we want in any situation.  I’ve heard so many girl friends complain, “If he/she really loved me, they’d just know what to do”.   As romantic as that sounds, and as much as I’m sure I would enjoy it, it’s unrealistic, selfish and irresponsible to expect.

Unrealistic—Self-explanatory unless you date on psychic network for singles.

Selfish to expect anyone else to care more about what you want when you’re too lazy to be bothered with asking.

Irresponsible because it’s your job and no one else’s to meet your own needs or make the requests necessary to have them met.

So these last 2 days of the year, intention to be conscious and aware of what you’re seeking, what would be nice to experience, what your preferences might be.  Then, as you interact with your loved ones, coworkers, clients, etc. rather than risk being disappointed, BE BOLD and simply, clearly and concisely ASK for what you want!  (coming soon—What to do when you Ask and DON”T receive!!!)

Happy New Year, Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Kim