News for September 2012

Withdraw or Open Up?

Many times we are faced with an important and difficult decision. Do we open up about something that bothers us or do we shut down and lock out our loved ones and friends?

There is no one right answer. Sometimes we need to open up and other times we need to shut down. Ultimately, we do need to open up and be honest with people; however, sometimes we need a little time to process things and figure out how to explain them.

Right now, that is where I am. I want to open up to my wife about how I am feeling, but I am afraid to open up at the same time. I am afraid because it was something she said and did that had caused this emotional storm within me.

She knows that she hurt me and she knows what hurt me. She wants me to tell her what I am thinking, but I am worried that anything I say will only hurt her or make things worse.

I am torn between opening up and shutting down. Even though she hurt me, I have no desire to hurt her back. For now, I have told her I need to process things before I open up about what I am thinking.

If we shut down it can make things worse, but so can opening up and saying the wrong thing. It is very difficult to know which route to take at times; especially, if you are emotionally dysregulated. My opinion is of you are dysregulated, bite your tongue until you are state of ‘wise mind’, the state where your logical and emotional minds overlap.

If you cannot get to a state of wise mind, you want to at least get to a point where your emotional state no longer dominates your thoughts. If you act, in words or deeds, from a highly emotional state, you are almost guaranteed to make the situation worse.

Edited: September 27th, 2012

Music Soothes the Savage Beast

This morning, when I read my daily email from My Dialectical Life, I was reminded that the old saying that ‘music soothes the savage beast’ is very true. Music can help alter our mood.

Music can help lift us out of a depressive state, calm our mind when we are anxious or even help us calm down when we are angry. One thing to remember is that you cannot throw on any old record and expect it to work. You need to choose the songs you listen to at these times carefully. Choosing the wrong song or type of songs can make things worse.

For example, if you are angry listening to Gangsta Rap, might not be the best choice since it would most likely make you angrier. Likewise, if you are depressed, listening to a sad song may work against you.

As the email pointed out, it is important to not just listen to the music, but to listen to it mindfully. While you may gain some benefit from just having it playing in the background, to get the full benefit you need to be more engaged in the music. If you want to get even more out of it, do not just listen mindfully, but sing along. It does not matter if you are the worst singer in the world, you are doing it to help yourself and that is what matters.

Do not limit yourself to just traditional music, find the music that works for you. It can be a theme song from a TV show, a commercial jingle, a recording of your kid, your partner or yourself singing a song our anything you can think of.

I have a few things that are ‘out there’ in most people’s opinion. For example, I keep some wrestling entrance themes on my iPod for a fast pick-me-up. I also keep some running and marching cadence from the Army and Marine Corps on my iPod.

I find cadence to help get my blood flowing and it helps lift my mood. It has a nice steady rhythm to it that helps me regulate my moods. For me, it works in the same fashion as taking my pulse does.

So like I said, do not be afraid to go off the beaten track when you put togerher your playlist. Have fun with it, it is meant to help you, not impress or please others.

Edited: September 17th, 2012

NAMI Walk – September 22, 2012, Fairfax, VA

I am writing you today to tell you about an upcoming event that I am participating in that is both very important and very exciting to me. NAMIWalks, the signature walkathon event of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is being held in Farifax, VA  on September 22, 2012.

I am taking part in this walk for several reason. The first reason is the direct impact mental illnesses have had on my life. The second reason is that not only do I personally suffer from mental illnesses myself, but I have had family and friend diagnosed with mental illnesses. Last, but definitely not least helping overcome the stigma associated with mental illnesses and helping others, both those diagnosed with mental illnesses as well as those that love them, is one of things I am the most passionate about in life.

I would like to ask you to donate to support my participation in this great event. Visit my personal walker page (http://namiwalks.nami.org/punkoj)to donate directly to me online. Donating online is fast and secure, and I’ll get immediate notification via e-mail of your donation.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest education, support and advocacy organization that serves the needs of all whose lives are touched by these illnesses. This includes persons with mental illness, their families, friends, employers, the law enforcement community and policy makers. The NAMI organization is composed of approximately 1100 local affiliates, 50 state offices and a national office.

The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.

NAMI is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to support my participation in this event is tax deductible. NAMI has been rated by Worth magazine as among the top 100 charities “most likely to save the world” and has been given an “A+” rating by The American Institute of Philanthropy for efficient and effective use of charitable dollars. NAMI has also been given 4 out of 4 stars by The Charity Navigator for short-term spending practices and long-term sustainability.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Edited: September 16th, 2012

Too Much Practice

It is always good to have opportunities to practice our skills, right? The fact that I say ‘always’should set off an alarm that something is not right with the previous sentence. Very few things in life exist in extremes, words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ rarely apply to life. Even a stopped 12-hour analog clock is right twice a day, but that is not the point of this article.

While finding opportunities to practice our skills in our day-to-day lives is important and helpful, there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. If we are going through a period where we find ourselves with opportunity after opportunity to practice our skills, we need to look for ways to change our environment safely and wisely.

Environments that are constantly providing us with these opportunities are unhealthy environments. The constant barrage of triggering events and stress begin to take there toll on us. Even a person that is not a different thinker has their breaking point, there is only so much anyone can take art any given time. We each have a unique breaking point.

Right now I am going through a period like this. Between work and home I am getting plenty of chances to practice my skills; however, it is starting to take its toll on me. I would love to have less chances for a while.

If you are not in a position to change your environment safely and wisely, then you need to find ways to mitigate the stress and impact on you. Make sure you take care of yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. There is such a thing as too many opportunities at any given time.

Edited: September 4th, 2012

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