Turning Straw Into Gold

Life through a Buddhist lens

Highly Recommended: Guy Winch’s Book, “Emotional First Aid”

I was first introduced to Guy Winch through his popular blog at Psychology Today. His writing resonates with me because it’s practical, whether he’s explaining how to make an effective apology or discussing the keys to recovering from failure. I was looking forward to reading his new book, "Emotional First Aid," and I was not disappointed. Read More

Thank you

I just read your post. The more I read, the faster I read, because it resonated so deeply with me. Both your story regarding the book as well as the examples you gave of the book itself. After I type this brief message I am sure I will read it a few more times...at least. You know, prior to getting sick five years ago, I considered myself to be very fortunate in the area of self confidence. Whatever task I undertook, I almost always succeeded at. I thrived on things such as risk and "being out there". I can never remember feeling inadequate or afraid to address a group of people. In fact, I loved public speaking and did it at every chance I could get. Things like failure, rejection and guilt were part of my life, but they were never more than an afternoons complaint and maybe reason to have a glass of wine after work with a few good friends. Now...totally different story. Being disabled, homebound a lot of the time and tied to social media for most of my interaction with the outside world - these things have become monsters lurking in the dark just ready for a prime opportunity. Words on facebook, a call or email not returned, a look, a canceled plan to visit me, a child whom stays somewhere else other than "home" when visiting or simply watching the world go by - these issues can soon become fuel to a brain that can't fall asleep at night. And I wonder, when and how did this ever happen? And who is this person who is so ill equipped to deal with these monsters. I sometimes think that because I never had to really deal with these things in my youth, to struggle with them at 48 feels like I'm trying to keep an avalanche at bay with an umbrella. I have to be honest, this is not something I have been very good at sharing with people either. As much as I SAY I have compassion and understanding towards myself (which I do feel that I do in most situations) I hide these things sometimes (Oh,no worry...I'm just fine!) - which tells me there is shame. I'm excited to read this book. I think it will feel good to get go of the "I'm handling things great" and just be honest with myself. Thank you for being honest with your situation in regards to facebook. These are things readers like me long to hear. A little vulnerability goes a long way!

Theresa, I feel similarly.

Theresa, I feel similarly. Although I was a frightened, insecure child and adolescent, I grew into the type of adult you described, thriving on risk and "being out there." Lyme disease has changed my life from one of challenges and possibilities, to managing pain and loneliness. "...I wonder, when and how did this ever happen?" is something I think every single day. Additionally, I'm fearful of if/when I AM well again, having to reconstruct an entire life. It's overwhelming.

I think it must happen very

I think it must happen very gradually. As the hours, days, years pass on and loneliness and seclusion become more a part of our lives, it's easy to live life "up inside your head". At least for me, when I finally get strong enough to address issues, I find that things are not nearly as bad as my mind would like to make them out to be. But it is so very difficult when we spend so much time sick and by ourselves.
I worry about the same thing Beth. I wonder how far gone is TOO far gone. I wonder if I will ever "be" the person again. If I will ever know that type of a life again. But then, in my healthier moments I can look at myself and realize that I can't continue to live in the past (longing for what I don't have or once had) or in the future (worrying about what I may have some day or may never have). What I have is this moment. Just this moment. It is my opportunity to be at peace. And by being at peace and being content with this moment I almost ensure that those days in the future will be okay, no matter what happens. The best insurance for the future is what I do with today. It truly is. So I do my best to shake off the panic and let go. Empty my mind of all the frightening stories I tell myself and just find the best in this moment right now. It may be just laying on the bed. It may be stepping outside and smelling the air. Or maybe, on a better day it may be actually going and visiting someone.
To do otherwise - to get wrapped up in the panic, to feel inferior to everyone else, to allow myself to fall into depression - this most definitely does not pave the way for a better "future". I had one of these very sad days yesterday. I sat and wrote down this line, "Thoughts I am attached to" and I proceeded to write exactly one hundred things. All fears and worries. All expectations I have on myself. All "need to do" this and "I will never" do that... It was truly an eyeopener. Because then I told myself to write down thoughts that I have during the day that are hopeful, positive, things I look forward to, things I am grateful for. In that moment, I could not think of any. Everything was clouded in this "story" I was telling myself. Instead of letting myself get depressed I used this as a true eye opener to how much I had allowed myself to live in everything except the here and now. All of my concerns were about the past or the future. What good does that do me? None at all. So today - I am not allowing myself to tell that story. It does no good for me to wonder how I will ever reconstruct my life or make this life something else other than what it is. But it does a lot of good for me to find the blessing of this moment, find a smile for my family, find the beauty in the smell of a carrot as I cut it for my snack. I cry less tears, I feel less sick, I keep calm and don't spiral out of control. I pave the way for a better tomorrow.
I hope I have not seemed "preachy" - this was not my intent. It is more about me finding my way back from a couple of really dark days and finding a place in your comment. This is a very difficult journey you are on. Just know that you are not alone. Even when the solitude of your illness would have you think differently.
Theresa
(I apologize if this posted twice, I was having trouble posting!)

Theresa, my main worry is

Theresa, my main worry is being sick, alone and totally broke. It's difficult to push past that one.

Thanks for addressing this

Thanks for addressing this issue of emotional first aid. I am quite certain that my chronic illness originated (at least partially) from several traumas. If I had taken better emotional care of myself at the time, maybe I would not be in bed most of the time now.

As for the person who was nasty, he/she obviously does not have a chronic illness and therefore, cannot understand what it is like.

Can't Wait To Read This!

I just put "Emotional First Aid" on hold at the library. I am really looking forward to reading it. Your books "How To Be Sick" and "How To Wake Up" have been very helpful to me and I am sure this book will be helpful as well. Thanks for the tip!

Just in time

last Saturday I went to cheer for my former team (can't play anymore too risky for more concussions) & was already bumming that I couldn't handle watching both games...when SURPRISE, in walks a "life lesson" with his new wife. Hit me when I'm grieving my athleticism, lonely in the stands & brain over-taxed...I could have used Dr. Winch's Emotional CPR stat.
My heart break was exponential with all the layers of loss happening at once. I love the analogy (I used to be a medical provider) of taking ACTION for emotional wounds/injuries/gut wrenching, etc. I actually told a former teammate later, "I need a confidence transfusion."

I am thrilled to get the library copy & continue to build my coping kit. Toni, your books & posts are steady, reliable tools for many of us.

That 1 arrow may have had only one molecule of toxin on it but when it gets into one's circulation, you are officially poisoned.

Thanks AGAIN for writing a post that gives us options for handling our daily challenges. They are incomprehensible to many, which only intensifies our need for rebounding skills. Sending peace on the wings of hundreds of butterflies for all~

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Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at University of California at Davis. She wrote the award-winning How to Be Sick and, recently, How to Wake Up.

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