Category Archives: The Latest Wow!

Latest Wow: Face the Truth About Yourself

silhouette woman tree

“The bad thing about not liking myself is not being able to get away from myself. I can’t just go into the next room.”

Anna was being her usual witty self when she made that comment in my office but, sadly, she meant it. Also sad is the fact that a multitude of people feel the exact same way. How can that be? How does that happen?

It’s acquired. Self-loathing isn’t part of the package when we’re born. We don’t come out of the womb disliking ourselves.  We learn it—the result of how we were treated as children. I wrote about this in a column a few years back titled The Bent Twig. The column begins with a painful incident I witnessed between a mother and her little girl in a department store. It still haunts me. You can read it here.

As for Anna, her mother was a mother biologically, solely. Maternal she wasn’t. That is, she was minimally nurturing and minimally involved with her daughter. Understandably, Anna, saw herself as an inconvenience and therefore unworthy of being liked. To some extent, she carries that conclusion around yet today. She’s making progress, though, in turning it around completely.

This is what happens: we form an opinion about ourselves as a result of early life experiences—a self-image—that really isn’t accurate. So what we end up despising is who we think we are, not our innermost reality.  In short, our true self gets buried beneath layers of lies we have bought into about ourselves.

How to change this? A quote immediately comes to mind—a Wow!—by Brad, another client. Like Anna, he’s familiar with self-loathing—he’s been there. Here’s what he said:

“The brain is a fertile chunk of ground so anything we plant up there is going to grow.”

Brad’s statement suggests that we can take charge of our thoughts—the seeds that perpetuate a negative or positive self-image.

It’s good to know that the false notions we learned about ourselves can be unlearned. I say we start by disbelieving the debris of lies we’ve taken ownership of.

Names have been changed to honor client confidentiality

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The Latest Wow: Rebellion’s Treasure

treasure chest

Not long ago, a client—in her 40s—wowed me with this:

“Rebellion, at any age, is a means of repositioning ourselves with our parents.”

I can only agree. I’ve come to see that the good side of rebellion is that it allows us to break into new horizons of empowerment—to transcend existing limits. Another client, Sonya, further substantiated that point. She was telling me how much she appreciates the grief she once caused her parents especially now that she has teenagers of her own. Hair pulling time! So she did the only honorable thing and apologized to her mother :-).

I was both amazed and touched by what her mother had to say:  “Don’t give it a second thought. It just meant you were readying yourself for leaving the nest.”

Rebellion isn’t really a war waged against our parents. It’s a war waged against our childlike attachment to them—our littleness in their presence.

Acts of rebellion are important dramas, essential for clearing the way for a more mature you—little you giving way to bigger you.

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The Latest Wow: “Get over it!” Really?

chasm

According to the late theologian Paul Tillich, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

I rank listening right up there at the top of requirements for a well-running relationship. This includes love partnerships, parent-child relationships, friendships … you name it.

Listening is a lot bigger than the mere act of hearing with our ears. It entails reining in our straying thoughts, our knee jerk assumptions, judgments and impatience. It entails listening from a heart-space, not solely from an intellectual space.

It’s hard to master. I find that true both personally and professionally. One couple comes to mind—Ross and Sara. Ross expressed … no, he wowed me with a complaint common among many of my female clients:

“Just because someone says, ‘Get over it,’ doesn’t mean it stops hurting.”

He directed that comment to Sara after she discounted his feelings in our counseling session. He was sharing a painful incident, and instead of taking his pain seriously, she trivialized it.

Another client, Mindy, feels exactly like Ross. Her husband, Sam, not only discounts her feelings, he’s frequently sarcastic and has an explosive temper. In one of their marital sessions he said, “She cries over anything. I’m convinced she’s incapable of controlling her feelings.” I challenged him: “You accuse Mindy of being too emotional and incapable of controlling her feelings. Isn’t anger an emotion?”   Read their stories here.

Whether the one we love is our partner, our child, a friend, relative or acquaintance, statements like “Get over it,” “Why let that bother you?” and “You’re too sensitive” fail to relieve the hurting heart. Not only that, they can create a chasm between two people—a chasm that, if allowed to continue, may not be bridged.

I welcome your thoughts!

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The Latest Wow: More Beautiful Than Leaves

autumn2

A friend of mine, Patti, who helps me with my tech challenges, wowed me with something that caused me—without any reservation—to demand that she write it up for my blog. She did just that and here it is:

I was gazing out my kitchen window the other day, captivated by the beauty of the changing leaves in my backyard. For some reason, I was struck by this question: Why do we see the changes in these leaves as they near their demise, and say, “Beautiful! Gorgeous! Breathtaking!” yet when humans change as they age and approach their “end” on this earth, those changes are perceived as ‘ugly’? So ugly, in fact, that we go to extreme measures to erase them, bleach them, surgically remove them, inject poison in them, etc. Why can’t we see those changes as just as “beautiful” as those changes in the leaves? In fact, I propose that we see them as even more beautiful, because aren’t we more beautiful than leaves? Aren’t we more precious than leaves?

After mulling over Patti’s insight, I had a thought. One of the gifts of the aging process is a lesson about beauty. Our discernment of beauty changes over the years from what our eyes see to what our heart sees.  On second thought, I think babies have this mastered. They don’t even notice age. Maybe, as we grow older we go back to viewing people through the eyes of a baby—purely.

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Latest Wow: We Can’t Always Snap Out of It

crops

Brad has suffered from clinical depression for many years. Therapy and medications have helped some, but not entirely and not consistently. There are days when all he wants to do is stay in bed. On other days—his good days—he’s active and highly involved with the world.

Would he like to feel that way every day? Of course. But he doesn’t … pure and simple. And because he feels like a failure and a burden to others, his depression is complicated with shame.

“When it comes to depression,” Brad says, “most the world says to snap out of it.”

Unfortunately, he’s right. The world isn’t very sympathetic toward sadness. We expect people, including ourselves, to be happy all the time.

In our therapy sessions, I try to help Brad be self-accepting—to look warmly at himself.  I remember telling him: “Depression isn’t something you wish upon yourself.” It helped him to hear that.

As for his family, when their best efforts to help fail to produce results, they can grow impatient. That’s normal. And it’s also normal to fall into the same trap of shame—being hard on themselves.

Not long ago, his 25-year-old daughter wowed me with this:

“As a family, we need to see him as having cancer. We wouldn’t get mad at him for that. He can’t help it.”

Depression can be a difficult and oftentimes life-long struggle. Shame is the last thing anyone—Brad or his family—needs as added weight.

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality. 

Another gorgeous photo, courtesy of Tracie Louise Photography.

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The Latest Wow: Free to Change

black and white to color

I’m driven to share something!

I received some thought-provoking feedback on my last post (Secret to a Good Life(check out the comment section, too). Some people responded online while others shared their thoughts in person. Jerri’s friend, Mike, had another insightful comment:

“If my expectations of another person are unrealistic then I’m the problem. And thank God! That’s because if anyone else is the problem, I can never do anything about it. I will never be able to control anyone but myself. Whenever I acknowledge I’m the problem, I’m giving myself the power to change.”

Thanks for checking in! Till next time.  Salee

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The Latest Wow: Let Go and Be Free

Rod cropped

“Any time we try to control something, it controls us. That’s because we’re basing our happiness and peace of mind on being able to control it, on something external that can’t be controlled.”  —Rod Pasko

My son, Rod, came up with that one a few years ago. I usually reserve ‘The Latest Wow’ for comments by my clients. But hey … Rod’s my client, just like I’m his at times. 🙂 I don’t recall the circumstances or why he said it, I just know I flew into another room for pen and paper. His words were just so insanely true!

Haven’t we all been there? We try to control how others act.  The driver in the car ahead of us has the power to enrage us.  We try to control how our partner does things. We try to control our children’s choices, and our friends’ opinions, our spouses tastes. We try to control time by attempting to squeeze too much in, or we try to stop it from marching on. Let’s face it, we have trouble seeing our children leave home, and we have trouble watching ourselves grow older.

So what does all this controlling-effort do to our peace? Havoc. Rod’s right. It robs us of our peace and happiness—call it wear and tear on the well-being. The weather plays a trick on us, and our peace is out the window. Cancelled plans carry the same weight. And we know how thrown we get when someone executes their own will versus our own.

Okay …  we can’t always steer things to suit us, so what can we do? We can choose a different way of seeing things, which is an internal adjustment completely under our  control. No matter what the irritant, as Wayne Dyer says: “You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.”

Instead of being held captive by my irritations, I can acknowledge the fact that my life will be good even though everything doesn’t always go my way. I can also choose to expand the lens through which I view an incident that’s getting under my skin by recognizing its relative insignificance when compared to the tapestry of my entire life … or the tapestry of all life.

A client of mine asks herself this question: Am I even going to remember this incident in six weeks? If not, then she decides it’s not worth another second of her mental or emotional energy.

When all else fails, follow the advice of my granddaughter, Emma: “Just think about pink ponies and butterflies.”

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The Latest Wow: Man Objects to Being Eye Candy

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Here’s one man’s response to my post “The Latest Wow: He Says ‘No’ to Sex”

“I know I’m in the minority, but I don’t like being a magnet for women. My physical appearance isn’t who I am … it’s not how I know myself. Before a relationship even gets off the ground I want to make it perfectly clear that my physical appearance means little to me, and if it means something to you, it separates us. If you’re not drawn to something deeper about me, I’m not interested.”

How many women have thought or said those very words? How many complain about being sexual objects? How many long for a connection that runs deeper than the surface? How many want to be valued for who they are? Zillions.

Meg’s a good example. Click here to read her story.

Obviously, these concerns cross gender lines. Men, as well as women, resent being mere eye candy . . . we all want to be valued for who we are inside.

What are your thoughts?

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The Latest Wow: He Says ‘No’ to Sex

sleeping gorilla + copyright

One of my male clients wowed me with this:

“It’s hard to be amorous with someone who’s beating the hell out of you mentally!”

So things turn a man off, too. Hmmmm. So much for their reputation as animals.

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The Latest Wow: Waste Your Time

Dandelion at Sunset

Carlie is  an  over-achieving teenager. She’s  driven to excel academically, athletically and socially. She has trouble with that word “relax.”  But in a moment of clarity, she wowed me with this:

“I would like to know my future to see if I’m wasting my time, because if I am wasting my time, I want to waste it better.”

It’s sad that a stressed-out state can feel normal to us, so much so that it feels wrong to  be free of it.  Let’s face it, our culture values and encourages busyness over taking time to smell the roses. Busyness is easily equated with productivity, purposefulness and meaningfulness. To do otherwise is  deemed wasting one’s time.

This is all wrong! Squirrels are incessantly busy—aimlessly darting here and there—but I wouldn’t necessarily call that busyness productive, purposeful or much less meaningful. The same applies to us humans.

In contrast, soaking up  a sunset can be one of the most productive, purposeful  and meaningful things we can do.

Let’s get busy wasting some time!

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality

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