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Life as a Comma, not a Period.


Hmmm.... Not quite sure what this post means, huh? I assume it has you wondering and you would now like some clarification from this interesting (a.k.a weird) psychologist?

Let me explain... Have you ever experienced something so powerful that you felt consumed by it? For example, the loss of a loved one, a painful break-up, or a traumatic experience. It can leave you feeling out of control like a child with no capacity to see the world outside of the realm of their current circumstance. In these times emotions can take full control of our lives leaving us feeling powerless and with little hope.

However, this is where you need to know life as a comma, not a period. Your emotions will come.... and they will go. They are not permanent states of being. When we realize that the painful experiences of life will not be the end of us then we have the potential to navigate through them more effectively. Much of this phenomenon requires mindfulness of your emotions and their transient state in our lives.

What is mindfulness you ask? Great question! Webster's dictionary defines it as the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; or an act of being in the present moment.

Many clients ask me what this means and somehow imagine themselves in a monk robe meditating somewhere high in the mountains away from civilization. This is not normally the case (although I would never discourage a vacation to Tibet). Mindfulness is focusing on the task at hand. Imagine a painter with his canvas, a chef in the kitchen preparing a meal, or a marathon runner focusing on the finish line. Mindfulness is an act that teaches you how to view your emotions as observations in the present moment. The act teaches you not to place judgment on how you feel or why you feel your emotions. Rather, it helps you learn ways to observe those feelings in an intuitive and non-discriminatory way.

Why is this important? For many people it is difficult to separate how you feel with what you are. For example, feeling like a failure does not constitute being a failure. If you perform poorly on an exam in school does that make you a remedial student? Absolutely not! This is specifically true if you are taking trigonometry or calculus, but I digress....

Here is another example, if someone breaks up with you due to "not being in love with you" does this mean you are unloveable? By no means at all. What you feel is not the same as what you are. This is where mindfulness comes in as a way to help you navigate the painful or negative experiences that may occur in life. Your emotions are constantly moving, shifting, and varying in degree. Thus, it is good to remind ourselves of the old saying that, "This too shall pass."

In summary, when we can look at our life encounters and emotions like a comma, then we determine what comes next. A comma by definition is a pause in two parts of a sentence and much like life our emotions are separated by distinct events. If you are feeling pain, anxiety, or depression take note that these are just pauses in the greater joys of life. Remember, whatever you're going through it is not the end, and you have the power to determine your outcome.. period.



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