Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism

Culled from Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter
May 26, 2010


(The complete text is here:

Psychiatry and psychotherapy obsess on what's wrong with people and give short shrift to what's right. The manual of these professions is a 943-page textbook called the *DSM-IV.* It identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones.
Some time back, I began to complain about this fact, and asked readers to help me compile material for a proposed antidote, the Anti-DSM -- a compendium of healthy, exalted, positive states of being. As their entries came in, we at the Beauty and Truth Laboratory were inspired to dream up some of our own. Below is part one of our initial attempt at creating an *Anti-DSM-IV,* or as we also like to call it, "The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism."*

ACUTE FLUENCY. Happily immersed in artistic creation or scientific exploration; lost in a trance-like state of inventiveness that's both blissful and taxing; surrendered to a state of grace in which you're fully engaged in a productive, compelling, and delightful activity. The joy of this demanding, rewarding state is intensified by a sense that time has been suspended, and is rounder and deeper than usual. (Suggested by H. H. Holiday, who reports that extensive studies in this state have been done by Mihaly Cziscenmihaliy in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.)

AESTHETIC BLISS. Vividly experiencing the colors, textures, tones, scents, and rhythms of the world around you, creating a symbiotic intimacy that dissolves the psychological barriers between you and what you observe. (Suggested by Jeanne Grossetti.)
AGGRESSIVE SENSITIVITY. Animated by a strong determination to be receptive and empathetic.
ALIGNMENT WITH THE INFINITY OF THE MOMENT. Reveling in the liberating realization that we are all exactly where we need to be at all times, even if some of us are temporarily in the midst of trial or tribulation, and that human evolution is proceeding exactly as it should, even if we can't see the big picture of the puzzle that would clarify how all the pieces fit together perfectly. (Suggested by Meredith Jones.)

AUTONOMOUS NURTURING. Not waiting for someone to give you what you can give yourself. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)

BASKING IN ELDER WISDOM. A state of expansive ripeness achieved through listening to the stories of elders. (Suggested by Annabelle Aavard.)
BIBLIOBLISS. Transported into states of transcendent pleasure while immersed in reading a favorite book. (Suggested by Catherine Kaikowska.)
BLASPHEMOUS REVERENCE. Acting on the knowledge that the most efficacious form of devotion to the Divine Wow is tinctured with playful or mischievous behavior that prevents the buildup of fanaticism.
BOO-DUH NATURE. Dwelling in the blithe understanding of the fact that worry is useless because most of what we worry about never happens. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)

COMIC INTROSPECTION. Being fully aware of your own foibles while still loving yourself tenderly and maintaining confidence in your ability to give your specific genius to the world. To paraphrase Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral: following the Byzantine ploys of your ego with compassion and humor as it tries to make itself the center of everything, even of its own suffering and struggle.

COMPASSIONATE DISCRIMINATION. Having astute judgment without being scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or person without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan Jones: having the ability "to smell a rat without allowing your ability to discern deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone's birthright."

CRAZED KINDNESS. Having frequent, overpowering urges to bestow gifts, disseminate inspiration, and perpetrate random acts of benevolence.
ECSTATIC GRATITUDE. Feeling genuine thankfulness with such resplendent intensity that you generate a surge of endorphins in your body and slip into a full-scale outbreak of euphoria.
EMANCIPATED SURRENDER. Letting go of an attachment without harboring resentment toward the stimuli that led to the necessity of letting go. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)
FRIENDLY SHOCK. Welcoming a surprise that will ultimately have benevolent effects.
HIGHWAY EQUANIMITY. Feeling serene, polite, and benevolent while driving in heavy traffic. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)
HOLY LISTENING. Hearing the words of another human being as if they were a direct communication from the Divine Wow to you.

IMAGINATIVE TRUTH-TELLING. Conveying the truth of any specific situation from multiple angles, thereby mitigating the distortions that result from assuming the truth can be told from a single viewpoint.

IMPULSIVE LOVE SPREADING. Characterized by a fierce determination to never withhold well-deserved praise, inspirational encouragement, positive feedback, or loving thoughts; often includes a tendency to write love letters on the spur of the moment and on any medium, including napkins, grocery bags, and skin. (Suggested by Laurie Burton.)
INADVERTENT NATURE WORSHIP. Experiencing the rapture that comes from being outside for extended periods of time. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
INGENIOUS INTIMACY. Having an ability to consistently create deep connections with other human beings, and to use the lush, reverential excitement stimulated by such exchanges to further deepen the connections. A well-crafted talent for dissolving your sense of separateness and enjoying the innocent exultation that erupts in the wake of the dissolution. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
JOYFUL POIGNANCE. Feeling buoyantly joyful about the beauty and mystery of life while remaining aware of the sadness, injustices, wounds, and future fears that form the challenges in an examined life. (Suggested by Alka Bhargava.)
LATE LATE-BLOOMING. Having a capacity for growth spurts well into old age, long past the time that conventional wisdom says they're possible.

LEARNING DELIGHT. Experiencing the brain-reeling pleasure that comes from learning something new. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)

LUCID DREAM PATRIOTISM. A love of country rooted in the fact that it provides the ideal conditions for learning lucid dreaming. (Suggested by Kenneth Kelzer, author of *The Sun and the Shadow: My Experiment With Lucid Dreaming.*)

LYRICAL CONSONANCE. Experiencing the visceral yet also cerebral excitement that comes from listening to live music played impeccably by skilled musicians. (Suggested by Susan E. Nace.)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

On the True Nature of Forgiving

Forgiveness is a process not an event. An action not a pronouncement.

If you expect the words themselves to usher in a guilt free future for the perpetrator and a freedom from real and metaphoric nightmares for the victim, then you are expecting a four star meal at the MacDonald's window.

Letting go is something a victim can do without the cooperation of the perpetrator. While forgiveness is a cooperative venture and demands that the perpetrator asks for it.

Forgiveness for victims is icing on the cake of healing... but they can heal without it or, in some cases, they can learn to function in spite of the pain of what has been inflicted. Some wounds are permanent, physical, emotional and spiritual: to deny that is to offer too rosy a picture of what is possible in the real world.

For some victims letting go is a natural event that signals how the brain itself heals from trauma. Healing will happen without forgiveness, but may be sped along with it. To rely on it exclusively or to have greater expectations from it than it can deliver is the game of politicians and perpetrator denial.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grief: A Normal and Natural Response to Loss

Most people who suffer a loss experience one or more of the following:

* Feel tightness in the throat or heaviness in the chest
* Feel thumping, erratic beats in the heart and are very aware of
heart actions
* Have an empty feeling in their stomach and loss (or gain) of
* Have pain and/or nausea in stomach
* Feel restless and look for activity, but have difficulty
* Feel in a trance, want to just sit and stare
* Feel as though the loss isn't real, that it didn't actually
happen; (this may include trying to find the loved one)
* Feel light headed and dizzy often
* Sense the loved one's presence ( this may include expecting the
person to walk in the door at the usual time, or hearing his/her
voice, or seeing his/her face)
* Have headaches frequently
* Wander aimlessly, forget and don't finish things they've started
to do around the house
* Have difficulty sleeping, and have dreams or visions of their
loved one frequently
* Assume mannerisms or traits of the loved one
* Feel guilty or angry over things that happened or didn't happen in
the relationship

These are all normal grief responses.

You may also experience:

* Disbelief:
You expect to wake up any minute from this nightmare. It can't be
true. You can't cry, because you don't believe it.
* Shock:
Nature softens the blow, temporarily. You are numb and dazed. Your
emotions are frozen. You go through the motions, like a robot.
* Crying:
Deep emotions suddenly well up, seeking release as loud sobbing
and crying. Give yourself time for tears. They can help.
* Physical Symptoms:
You may sleep or eat too little or too much. You may have physical
aches, pains, numbness, or weakness. Check with a doctor to rule
out other causes. Usually the symptoms fade gradually.
* Denial:
You know the fact of death but you forget. You expect your loved
one to telephone or walk in the door. You search for him/her.
* Why:
"Why did he/she have to die?" You dont expect an answer, but you
need to ask repeatedly. The question itself is a cry of pain.
* Repeating:
Over and over again, you tell the same story, think the same
thoughts. Repeating helps you to absorb the painful reality.
* Self-Control:
You control your emotions to fulfill your responsibilities or to
rest from the pain. Self-control can shape and give rhythm to your
grieving, but constant rigid self-control can block healing.
* Reality:
"It really happened." You feel you're getting worse. Actually,
reality has just hit, and support from friends and family may be
* Confusion:
You can't think. You forget in mid-sentence. You are disorganized
and impatient.
* Idealizing:
You remember only good traits, as if your loved one was perfect.
You find it hard to accept the not-so-perfect living. Your loved
one's idiosyncracies or imperfect traits become endearing
reminders of their realness, humanness.
* Identifying:
Wanting to stay close, you copy your loved one's style of dress,
hobbies, interests, or habits. You may carry a special object of
his or hers.
* Envy:
You envy others. Their pleasure in their loved ones makes you feel
keenly what you have lost. They don't deserve their good fortune.
* Frustration:
Your past fulfillment's are gone. You haven't found new ones yet.
You feel you're not coping with grief "right."
* Bitterness:
Temporary feelings of resentment and hatred, especially toward
those in some way responsible for your loss, are natural. But,
habitual bitterness can drain energy and block healing.
* Waiting:
The struggle is over, but your zest has not returned. You are in
limbo, exhausted, uncertain. Life seems flat.
* Hope:
You believe you will get better. The good days out balance the
bad. Sometimes you can work effectively, enjoy activities, and
really care for others.
* Missing:
You never stop missing your loved one. Particular days, places,
and activities can bring back the pain as intensely as ever.
* Commitment:
You know you have a choice. Life won't be the same, but you decide
to actively begin building a new life for yourself.
* Seeking:
You take initiative, renewing your involvement with former friends
and activities, and exploring new involvements.
* Hanging On:
Some days you hang on to the grief, which is familiar. Letting go
is more a final good-bye to your loved one. You let go gradually.
* Peace:
You can reminisce about your loved one with a sense of peace. You
feel able to accept the death and face your own future.
* Life Opens Up:
Life has value and meaning again. You can enjoy, appreciate, and
anticipate events. You are willing to let the rest of your life be
all it can be.

This list is a gift to you from Survivors from both Orange and San Diego
County. It has been compiled for you by Connie Saindon, MA, MFT,CTS

Connie Saindon, MA, MFC14266 Self-Help & Psychology Magazine,
Trauma Department Editor

Copyright (c) 1994-1997 by Pioneer Development Resources, Inc.
All rights reserved.