In This Month of Love–Love One Another

“Love one another” is a concept that has been around since Confucian times (551–479 BC) or earlier. It’s been stated and restated.

In this month of love--love one another. A known concept for centuries...

Call it a Golden Rule

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself

— Leviticus 19:18

The concept appears in nearly every religion. 

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

— Shabbath folio:31a, Babylonian Talmud

Call it Karma

"Love One Another" Call it religious, karma, or ethics. Call it whatever you want, but live it. Here's how.

Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.

–Chinese Proverb

You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you.

–Wayne Dyer

Call it ethics

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. A repercussion.

– Brownell Landrum Author

Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.

–Joseph Joubert Writer

Whatever you call it…

Live It

A lot of times, in our culture and our society, we put romantic love somehow on a higher plane than self-love and friendship love. You can’t do that. You have to honor and really fully invest in all these different loving relationships.

—Delilah

The fact is, society is made more hospitable by every individual who acts as if ‘do unto others’ really was a rule.

–Gary Hamel

When you plant a seed of love, it is you that blossoms.

– Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati Teacher

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.

–George Eliot

My philosophy is to do the best you can for somebody. Help. It’s not just what do you for yourself. It’s how you treat people decently. The golden rule. There isn’t big anything better than the golden rule. It’s in every major religion in one language or another.

–Art Linkletter
Love one another. Call it religious, karma, ethics, or whatever you want. But live it. Here's how.

There is no limit to the power of loving.

— John Morton

Fight the Hate

Our world has more than enough hate right now. 

Not with name calling or shaming or even by sharing the by expressing our outrage at heinous acts of hate. 

How? We model kindness and love and generosity. We actively show that we love one another. How? Any way you can. Make new friends. Reach out to someone in need. Volunteer. Shake a hand. Compliment someone. Help someone who needs it. 

Remember, there is no limit to the power of loving. It’s in every language, every skin color, every ethnicity, every religion. So in this month of love and in the years ahead—love one another. If more of us did, what a wonderful world this would be. What are ways you model loving your neighbor?

In This Month of Love-Love Nature

It’s February, love is in the air, and Valentine’s Day will soon be here. But you can’t truly love anyone one else if you don’t love yourself, first. (See my post In This Month of Love—Love Yourself). Chances are you have a nature-deficit and you’re suffering for it. If you love yourself, love nature and make time to connect with nature every day.In this month of love--love nature to care for yourself. read more

What Time in Nature Does

Studies show that connecting with nature increases our sense of well-being. When we give ourselves the gift of time in nature, it allows us to understand our place in the world. We feel more connected.

Connecting with the natural world also helps with healing physically and emotionally. Hospital patients with views of the outside heal faster. Those who are grieving find time in natural settings soothing.

Studies suggest that connecting with nature also makes us smarter and more productive.

A Nature-Deficit

Yet, in our modern-day lives, American’s spend more than 90% of their time indoors with little to no fresh air. See this from Velux. Some studies show that we spend even less time in nature.

“In 1989, Ott “reinterpreted” the codes from the MCTBRP activity pattern data for 44 U.S. cities ( Robinson et al., 1972) to estimate the amount of time that people spend in-transit, outdoors, and indoors, and he concluded that employed persons in the U.S. spend only about 2% of their time outdoors, 6% of their time in transit, and 92% of their time indoors.” —nature.com. And Americans aren’t the only people who spend more time indoors. Estimated outdoor time was far less than expected in eleven other countries.

Our indoor lives mean that 15% of us suffer from some level of Seasonal Affective disorder or SAD. It also means that we are sicker.

Indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. And children’s bedrooms can be the worst polluted room in the house. Children living in a damp and moldy house have a 40% increased risk of developing asthma.

Our disconnection from nature in our daily lives, may be endangering the earth. Some researchers believe we do nothing about pollution because we disconnected. Without regular time in nature, we don’t see that nature is in danger.

So what can we do about it?

Watching birds has become part of my daily meditation affirming my connection to the earth body. Carol P. Christ

Broaden your definition of nature. If you’re in an urban setting, a plant in your apartment or a bird on your window sill can be a moment to connect with nature.

Find a few minutes every day to reconnect with nature. Take a walk, visit a park, plant a garden, or open your windows to revel in fresh air and sunshine. Visit a local waterfall, a creek, or a river.

Take a few minutes to educate yourself and/or your children on the natural flora and fauna of your area.

Write down three things to appreciate about nature every day. What would you write? Appreciate how our planet gives us water to drink, air to breathe, flowers to look at and scent the air.

Take part in arbor day, a community garden, take a vacation to a national park or national forest area.

Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived. Sidney Sheldon

Love Nature

To wholly believe in and love ourselves, we need that connection with nature.

In this month of love--love nature

So in this month of love—love nature.

In this Month of Love–Love Yourself

I was in a dark place. My marriage had failed. The separation and divorce tattered my son’s self-esteem. My writing had stalled and I had horrible nightmares. I was the most worthless person I knew (second only to my ex). Self-love was selfish, or so I thought. I wish someone had told child me, “love yourself.”

It took years of therapy and self-examination to learn that self-love isn’t selfish.

I was lucky. I could afford therapy and by the luck of the draw, I found some good therapists. Back then I had one thing going for me, I was determined. Determined to be the best mom I could be for my son, I knew I had to work on me.

In this month of love--love yourself. Learn how.

The Struggle

It was a terrible struggle. Feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing, mistrust, and shame filled me with negativity. I hid most of those feelings from the people around me. That good old Puritan work ethic flowed through me. I plowed through the work day, the housework, and the Monday through Friday life stuff. Every other weekend my son went to his father’s house and I crumpled into a tearful, self-loathing mess. I feared I was going crazy. My therapist made a suggestion. Journal your feelings, she said. That was easy, right? I’m a writer. I can do that. And I did.

I poured all that negativity and memories and self-loathing into my journal. I did that for a year or two. Slowly, surely, I got myself back together and reclaimed my weekends. Things were pretty good. Not great, but better.

Nothing Changed

One day I was moving clutter from one place to another and found some old journals. Curiosity overwhelmed me and I sat down to read. I read and I read. I read current journals, too. And I came to the horrifying conclusion that NOTHING had changed. I hadn’t changed. All those negative feelings were there, I’d simply hid them better.

Someone, probably my therapist, suggested I make myself some healing rituals. She suggested I work on one negative trait at a time.  Treat that one thing with a ritual for a couple of months and see what happens. Now, I was a registered nurse at that time and “healing rituals” sounded a little woo-woo to me. But, journaling alone wasn’t the answer. So I decided to give it a try.

In the Month of Love--Love Yourself. One way you can learn

The Ritual

I decided that what I most needed to work on was forgiving myself and learning to trust myself. I wrote the ritual down so I would be able to repeat it word for word.

That original piece of paper has been lost, but I remember the essence of that ritual. First thing in the morning, I lit a scented candle and said, “I light this candle to remember all the mistakes I have made.” I would breathe in the scent for a minute. Then, I would blow out the candle and say, “My past mistakes are as the light of this candle. I put them out. They are behind me.” Next, I had a small pile of sage leaves in an inelegant ashtray leftover from my marriage. I lit that and breathed in the aroma saying, “Sage is burnt honoring my inner wisdom. My heart is wise and I will listen to it.” When the sage burned out, the ritual was over.

Love Yourself

Why do I tell you this? Because over time I stopped needing that ritual. I learned to trust myself more and more and in so doing, I learned to love myself. I learned to love me for all the mistakes I made, for the wisdom I had, and the person I am. And the more I loved myself, the more love entered my world.

If you don’t already love yourself, take this February, this month of love and learn to love yourself. Discover your fears and the lies you tell yourself through journaling. Use affirmations and rituals to rebuild your self-esteem. Love yourself, my friends. It isn’t selfish. It will change your life.

Do You Have a Mental Health First Aid Kit?

What do you do when you suffer a blow to your mental health, an injury? What would that be? Would you know what to do? Do you have a mental health first aid kit? 

Mental Injury vs Mental Illness?

When you hear the term mental injury, what’s the first thing you think of? If you said post-traumatic stress, you’re not alone. But that’s not the only kind of mental injury.

Neuroscience is still in its infancy so it isn’t easy to define mental injury or mental illness. In fact, it is likely that most of what we call Mental Illness is actually a complex, chronic mental injury. This is an area where we need more studies done.

Causes of Mental Injuries

According to Psychology Today, there are seven common mental injuries. We encounter these injuries most often and are equal to scratches and scrapes. Like minor wounds we may suffer from these things once, many times, or as a chronic or ongoing injury.

  1. Rejection—whether it’s from friends, spouses, or employers
  2. Failure—from failing a test, to failing to complete a self-imposed task, to failing an assigned task, or failing a friend.
  3. Loneliness—that feeling as thought current relationships aren’t fulfilling our needs or we feel disconnected
  4. Loss–it could be a friend moved away or the death of a loved one or pet
  5. Brooding and Rumination—when we feel compelled to stew on sad, angry, or other negative feelings
  6. Guilt—we all feel guilt sometimes, sometimes it’s excessive or lingering
  7. Low self-esteem—we all have issues with low self-esteem from time-to-time, sometimes it’s crippling.

Any one of those seven injuries can start out as a small thing. But like a scratch, if it’s not treated it can fester and become chronic or life-threatening. Suffering from one of these injuries can also bring about one of the other mental injuries. For example, if a date rejected you, you may also feel low self-esteem and loneliness. The combination makes it a complex injury and harder to treat.

Becoming aware of and recognizing these injuries is important. Then, you need to treat them. How do you treat them?

First Steps

Do You have a Mental Health First Aid Kit?Unfortunately, there is no bandaid or tincture of “feel better” to apply to all mental health wounds. No two individuals will react the same way to the same situation. So we each need to develop our own mental health first aid kit. A kit can be phone numbers, rituals, comfort items (teddy bears, blankets, etc.) But there are some basics.

The first step is to educate yourself. (Yay, you’re reading this so that’s part of the first step!) Be able to recognize that you’ve sustained a mental health injury. Pay attention to how you feel. Learn what will help soothe your pain, comfort you, and restore your feelings of self-worth.

Many people talk to a trusted friend or family member. A good listener will be supportive and help you rebuild your feelings of self-worth. Sometimes, that’s all that you need.

What if you don’t have a good listener and supporter at home? That’s when talking to a teacher, clergy person, or medical professional might be helpful. Check your local and state government offices. They often offer some free services such as support groups. Check your medical insurance. Some insurances have a helpline or cover mental health services.

Most help or crisis lines are free. They will listen to you, give you information, and refer you to services in your area.

Here are a few helplines.

Emergency Medical Services—911

If the situation is life-threatening, get immediate help by calling 911. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. This organization provides free information. They may refer you to treatment programs, support groups, or educational programs. NAMI also offers help for family members, information about jobs programs, and connections to legal representation in your area.

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
offers general information on mental health and can locate treatment services in your area. Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Help Someone Else

If you have a family member or friend who needs some mental health first aid, call the helpline. They can give you information and suggestions on how you can help your friend or family member. There is also a mental health first aid class that you can take. Learn more about it at mental health first aid dot org.

Mental Health First Aid

This month my blog posts were inspired by Guy Winch’s TED talk on emotional health. You learned about “Feelings: They’re All in Your Head,” “Big Brain-Little Brain: the Mental Health Connection,” and “You Have the Right to Feel Good About Yourself.” These posts are not to diagnose any condition nor to recommend any treatment. They are intended to guide you to a different way to think about yourself and your mental health. You must decide if you need to research these ideas further or if you need to seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment.

Mental Health First Aid Kit

As children, we learned how to protect ourselves from physical injuries. We learned how to take care of ourselves when we have cuts and scrapes and bruises. But mental health and mental injuries were devalued and ignored. We owe it to ourselves to learn about mental health, mental injuries, and mental health first aid. These few posts on this site are but the tip of the mental health iceberg. Be proactive in your own mental health. Educate yourself further on what is best for your mental health. Have you developed your own mental health first aid kit? Would you share one item that’s in it?

You Have the Right to Feel Good About Yourself

 According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, self-esteem is a confidence and satisfaction with oneself.” A positive self-esteem is vital to good mental health. We all have a story we tell ourselves. This story goes to the core of who we believe ourselves to be. Is your self-esteem positive? Or do you look in the mirror and think, “God, I’m fat” or “I’m so stupid?” You have the right to feel good about yourself. And you can improve or change your self-esteem with a few changes in habits.

 

The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.

Mark Twain

Negative Self-talk

You’ve learned some negative self-talk. Sometimes a difficult time or situation makes us feel bad about ourselves. Being bullied, losing a job, a death, a crisis in a relationship, physical illness, and yes, mental illness can influence our self-esteem. We start a negative pattern. Repeating a negative phrase or thought over and over, you end up believing the statement is true. What if it’s not true? What do you wish were true? Whether at your parents’ knees, or from your sibling, your frienemy, the television, or magazines, what was learned can be unlearned.

Change Your Story

If you want to change your core story, you have to think about it. What is it? Where did it come from? Whose voice are you hearing? What automatic thoughts are you having? You may think you can’t change because this is the way you are. Give yourself a break. There are habits you can adopt that will change your self-esteem. Fake it till you make it is a cliché for a reason.

 

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.

Marilyn Monroe

Changes take time to move from a routine into a habit. But practice them. Over time, some experts say six weeks, routines become habits. Here are 16 habits you can cultivate that will help you gain a more positive self-esteem.

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.

Thomas Carlyle

Groom yourself

It’s hard to feel good inside if you don’t feel good outside. Shower, shampoo, brush your teeth, shave. Grooming yourself makes you feel better because your body feels better.

Dress Nicely

This means dress in clothes that make you feel good. But what if you don’t feel good in your clothes? Dress in the clothes that get you compliments. So, what if you want to wear sweat? Put on the good ones—the ones that are cute or make you feel nicer.

Stand Tall

Slumping, closing in your body doesn’t feel or look confident. It’s healthier for your spine, too.

Be Kind

We all know we should be kind to others. But in this case, let’s discuss self-compassion. Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Stop negative self-talk. Don’t scold yourself. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you’re having a bad day but that doesn’t mean you can be mean to yourself.

Smile

Smiling takes and creates energy. But if you’re not feeling happy don’t force an unnatural full-beam I’m happy smile. Try for the look-at me-working-to-feel-better-smile.

List What You Are Good At 

Come on now, you’re good at some things. No one is good at everything. Add to the list as you think of new things. Pull out this list when your negative self-talk tells you you can’t do something.

Practice Gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal—even thinking about one thing for which you are grateful once a day can help.

Clear a Space

Create a calm space for yourself—uncluttered, peaceful, relaxing place to be even if it’s a one corner of one room. When the space you are in is calm, you feel calmer, too.

Do One Thing

Do one small thing on your to-do list—getting something done always makes you feel better. Make sure you choose something you can be successful at. Crossing it off the list makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere because you are.

Learn

Learn something new. Learning can re-affirm that you can do things. It engages your brain in a different way than doing something you know well. Today, public libraries and the internet  allow you to learn the basics of almost anything for free.

Accept Compliments

Ah, compliments. Do you say thank you while inside you’re saying “that’s so not true?” Notice when you don’t accept compliments, what you’re telling yourself instead? Learn to say and mean thank you when someone gives you a compliment. Then learn to take that compliment in and believe it’s true. Finally, give yourself compliments. 

Celebrate

Keep a celebrations jar. Celebrate EVERY success. Yes, even the tiniest ones. In this jar, put a note for everything you accomplish.  Or keep a journal or a spreadsheet. You’ll be surprised at how much you discount the things you do. Celebrate how? Do a Snoopy dance. Get a cup of tea or coffee. Praise yourself with a “wow, look at what I did.” Reward yourself with a bubble bath or an hour reading or watching your favorite television show.

Be Prepared

Remember taking tests? Remember the test you didn’t study for? It’s difficult to feel confident if you aren’t prepared. But what if it’s not a job or a test, how do you prepare? You’re preparing yourself. If you are prepared for what you fear, you’ll be more comfortable in situations that aren’t fear-invoking as well. For example: Prepare for a party or outing by planning a couple of topics for discussion or how you can help the host or how you can excuse yourself early. Prepared, you’ll be more comfortable and confident in handling whatever happens.

Know Your Principles

There are rules you live by. The Golden Rule is a principle to live by for some. What principle or principles are ones you live by? Think about your principles, how they apply to what you do and how you feel. Knowing what you stand for, what you believe, helps you feel more confident.

You Have the Right to Feel Good About Yourself. 16 Habits to help improve your self-esteem.

Affirmations

Affirmations are usually what experts say use to change your negative self-talk. But we often try too much of a change at once. When you’re feeling unworthy, saying I am a great success feels false and intensifies your feelings of unworthiness. Try saying something positive with the intention of getting to the strongest feeling. Say something like I am going to work hard until I AM a success. Once that feels natural, you can use stronger statements.

Use Rituals

Sometimes an affirmation needs a back up or reinforcement. You can create a small ritual to help shore up that affirmation. Light a candle. Burn some incense or sage. Rub a crystal. Mediate. Any of those things individually or grouped can be a ritual that helps you strengthen your affirmations and resolve.

I think self-esteem is fluid. It’s not a fixed state,

and so some days are better than others.

Jo Brand

Even someone with a healthy self-esteem needs these habits to maintain self-esteem. And remember, it takes time and repetition. Choose one thing you want to change. Work on it for 6 weeks. Then choose another one for the next 6 weeks. Take it slow and steady and you’ll make huge changes. You have the right to feel good about yourself. Your mental health, your self esteem will be stronger for it.