A Simple Exercise to Relax and Focus
— Elena Michaels, PhD, CCH, LMFT
If you could incorporate a simple exercise into your life right now to feel calmer and happier, would you? I know, why is it always “what can we do for ourselves”? It would be wonderful if we didn’t have to do anything, and someone would just take care of us. Ironically, it is exactly when we do more for ourselves, that our lives get better!
In an alcoholic or dysfunctional family, a child learns early to numb feelings. In that kind of unpredictable environment it’s easier not to feel, since things were often painful and confusing. Unfortunately, when we turn off uncomfortable feelings, we also turn off good feelings. We become proud of our ability to “not be affected” emotionally by anything going on around us and pleased when we have things under tight control. This may have been a helpful defense and survival tool in a dysfunctional family, but it does not bode well for having fulfilling relationships.
As we grow up, it may be difficult to relax and have fun with our friends, then later, to enjoy our children. We may use alcohol, drugs, or food, because things “seem to be easier” and we “deserve to kick back and enjoy ourselves”. We may also use various addictive behaviors like spending, gambling, watching television, working out, busy-ness, or having affairs, to escape from the empty parts of ourselves. Anger directed outward or inward only perpetuates the abuse with which we grew up, although it may manifest differently from how we experienced it as children.
The only way out, is to go in…..deep inside ourselves, which can be uncomfortable. The first step is making the commitment to yourself that you want and deserve more out of life. You know what it’s like to have less, and as you work on yourself more, “less” slowly becomes unacceptable to you. Admitting that a problem exists is important, because then the slick veneer of the false persona can begin to crack and create an opening. That opening can be a way in, to discover what is really important to you…the real you.
Focusing on others or what is outside of ourselves, helps us avoid going deep inside. It’s easy to find distractions but this only feeds the emptiness, which cannot be filled from outside of ourselves. “Alone time” nurtures deep parts of our soul, connecting us to higher aspects of ourselves. For many, this is not a desirable activity, as uncomfortable feelings and negative self-talk may come up. However, there are things we can do to enhance our well-being when we do spend time alone.
Self-help programs are available, and may provide support on your journey. A trained psychotherapist can also be a very valuable ally on your adventure of personal discovery. It really can be an adventure…the most exciting and fulfilling trip of your life!
If you are wondering “what to do with yourself” and would like a simple exercise that others have found to be helpful, send an email to me with “Simple Exercise” in the subject of the email. But if what I send you sits in your inbox or in a stack of papers after your print it out, it won’t help…as they say, you have to “just do it”!
Elena Michaels is a Doctor of Natural Health, licensed psychotherapist, Marriage, Family and Child Therapist (LMFT), and certified clinical hypnotherapist with a holistic approach who has taught hypnosis and led numerous workshops, seminars and groups on various subjects. She is also a Level II EMDR Practitioner (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Her office is in Valencia, California, and she can be reached at 661/250-4395, 661/255-3388, Elena@DrElena.com www.Dr.Elena.com and at http://www.facebook.com/DrElenaMichaels