Living In the Real World

Whenever someone famous commits suicide people are affected in different ways. There is usually the surprise and shock associated with the sudden death. There are the questions of why and how could they? Most of them have achieved success and wealth and have adoring fans. Why would a person who seems to have it all want to end their life? They live in the real world just like you and I.

When these people appeared in the public eye they seemed so happy and positive and full of energy. It seemed their lives were so easy and they were able to have whatever they desired. What we saw was just a snapshot of their life. What we saw was only what they wanted us to see. What we saw was actually fantasy and not reality. These celebrities lived in the real world as we all do. They all had a history of life experiences, tragedies, losses, as well as the happy times and successes. Some had medical issues. Others had mental health and substance abuse problems. It is not easy living your life in the public eye. It affects how others see them as well as making it more difficult to have stable relationships. They lived in the real world and what the rest of us see is merely an illusion.

Just like the rest of us, life sometimes gets to be too much to deal with. Feelings of desperation and helplessness and hopelessness take over. It seems there is no way out other than to put an ending to it all. They lived in the real world.

If you look at what you think their lives have been and compare them to your own remember that you live in the real world too.

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Choices

Most of us grow up exposed to the habits and beliefs of our families of origin. We learn from them the way to do things and the way to think about and see things. Most of our beliefs come directly from them. It is common to adopt those beliefs or rebel and do the opposite of what we were taught. Neither is the best approach to life. Most of us grow up limited in our exposure to the variety of options available to us. My experience with clients and people entering a recovery process is the common view of seeing things in black and white.

Black and white and all or nothing thinking can cause people problems and inhibit their ability to solve problems and succeed in life. Many of us go through life unaware of how limited we are by our inability to recognize all the choices we have and choices we never consider as options. We have the beliefs we learn as children and carry with us into adulthood. Many of those beliefs do not apply to our adult lives. We have many choices for how we interpret the world around us. Keep this in mind. Many things mean many different things to many different people.

Most people tend to do what they are in the habit of doing and what is most comfortable for them. If we have not be raised in an environment of exploration and being open to new ideas it is difficult to go out of our comfort zone. We have to learn to think outside the box and explore all possible option in order to make better decisions and have a more fulfilling life. It is important to avoid black and white thinking and be able to see all the shades of grey.

Human Just Like You

I have been working in the mental health/addictions/human sexuality for field for over 20 years. I have counseled hundreds of individuals and couples, as well as facilitated hundreds of groups. For nearly 10 years prior to this I was in my own process of learning, growing, and overcoming many years of depression and low self-esteem. I worked with counselors, attended 12 step and support groups, kept a journal, and read many self-help books. Am I cured or immune from all my old thinking, beliefs, and behaviors? No I am not. Am I much better at maintaining a more positive and realistic frame of mind? I certainly am.

During the past couple of years I have posted many helpful ways of looking at life and managing feelings and the events we encounter. I hope this information has helped the thousands of people who have viewed my blog. But, offering this information and making suggestions is much easier that applying these things to my own life. I do a pretty good job for the most part maintaining balance in my life and my emotions. Am I able to apply these each and every day to each and every hurdle I encounter? The truth is that sometimes it isn’t so easy to reach into my bag of tricks and I experience the anxiety, anger, and depression that we all do. I don’t always remember the things I know. I have human experiences just like everyone else.

One way I benefit from all the work I’ve done on myself is that any emotional upheaval I experience is not as deep or long lasting as it once was. It is much easier to find my center once again. The things I suggest in my blog as well as ways to see the world which make it easier to manage are things I apply in my own life. Many people I know and many of my clients use what they have learned working with me. I have seen amazing changes in my life and in the lives of many others over the years. It took applying what we have learned consistently and being persistent. If you have the desire to improve and change your life you can. It takes time to change.

Putting Everything in Perspective

I saw a video over the weekend and it really got me thinking about the meaning of my life and the importance I give to events I experience. It made me wonder if I give thing way too much meaning and allow events to affect me entirely too much. Take a look.

http://digg.com/newsbar/science/i_stepped_out_of_a_supernova_and_so_did_you

From the perspective of time, we are alive for a blink of an eye. Even the most important things most of us experience will be known by a relatively few or affect even fewer. One of the guiding posts for how important something has been to me and how much emotional energy it deserves has been: Will anyone care in 100 years?  I understand even more the importance of events, or the lack thereof, when seen from the perspective of the universe and infinity. Even more reason to limit the impact even the most life changing events have on me. My life has value to me. I want to get the most of every day that I live. The quicker I can shed the setback, disappointments, losses, and other things that can negatively impact my emotions the quicker I can get back to a rewarding life.  In reality, considering the big picture, what happens in my life has no real meaning and are actually a series of events.  Seeing it this way changes everything.

I think it is a good idea to go through the process of dealing with, learning from, and moving forward as quickly as we can. Life is too short to allow events to limit our experiences or allow emotional pain or fears to inhibit our ability to enjoy life.

Goals vs Expectations

One important part of having a healthy and positive attitude about life is having goals. It is important to have goals that are realistic and attainable. Short term goals are valuable and help to keep you on track and motivated to reach your medium and long term goals. It is also important to stay focused on the present rather than concerning yourself about the “what ifs.” The only thing that is real is the here and now. The future hasn’t come yet and the past is gone. The only thing you have any influence over is what you are doing now. Focus on what is in front of you. Complete that task and then move on to the next. You have a greater chance of reaching your goals this way. Reward yourself when you have met a goal or completed a task.

Fears may inhibit you from moving forward and completing the tasks you set out to do. Fears are about the future and only increase if that is what you focus on. To decrease your fear (of failure, success, how others will judge you, etc.) it is important to focus on what is right in front of you.

Expectations are a good way to set yourself up for disappointment. We have hopes and dreams and goals for our lives. But, the outcome (where we eventually end up) is not totally in your hands. Your life is affected by many variables that are totally out of your control. These variables directly influence whether we attain our goals or not.

To review: Set realistic and attainable goals for yourself. Have short, medium, and long term goals. Focus on the task at hand and the things you can actually control. Avoid having expectations of the eventually outcome.