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The Importance of Grieving

Loss of a loved one

When we lose someone whether from death or the end of a relationship, it is important to allow yourself to feel all of the emotions related to that loss. These emotions can feel like despair, disorientation, rejection, loneliness, sadness, pain, and anger. If you avoid your emotions, they will not go away. They will haunt you. And, as a result of avoiding emotional grieving, it can negatively impact your life including relationships, future relationships, goals, and plans.

It is never too late to grieve

It is never too late to grieve a loss. This week’s guest post is a beautiful example of the author using letter writing to grieve the loss of his grandmother who died several years ago. Thank you for reading and please don’t forget to comment and share. You never know, you may be helping somebody!

By Nathan Conrad

Dear Grandma,

Let me start by saying that I miss you so much. It was times like these that I relied on you the most. You were always there to listen. I wish you didn’t have to go the way you did. You deserved to go quietly and peacefully in your sleep.

I know how scared you were. And, to be honest, I was scared for you too. But, I was strong, I was strong for you and for mom too. I was by your side the whole time putting on a strong face, but my heart was breaking. I wasn’t ready to lose you and neither was mom.

You were so much more…

You were much more than just a grandma, you were one of my closest friends. I wish I would have spent more time with you, but we both know how my job [first responder] was.

That day, the day you died, changed me. The ambulance was no longer a calling. It became just a “job.” Every time I had to ride with a patient in the back, it took me back to that day, and, would break my heart all over again.

There wasn’t enough whiskey…

There wasn’t enough whiskey or that other “junk” to fill the void you left, but I sure tried. I know why you left the hard choices that day up to me. I was just as stubborn as you and you know I would follow your wishes to the letter. And we both know that mom could not have handled the guilt.

I miss you every day. I miss our talks, our music, especially Elvis and Willie. No one could make a bacon and egg sandwich like you, and no one ever will.

I was the one…

I wanted you to know, that I was the one who put your ashes in the grave and I wrapped your urn in your favorite blanket.

I am two months sober now

I am sure you know that I have gotten myself into trouble. You were right about my loser friends. I want you to know that I am two months sober now and I am learning what is important now. I am going to try my best to be a better son and grandson to take care of my family like you took care of us.

You still have the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known and I am trying my best to be like you. I hope I will get to see you again one day, but for now, your spirit will always be with me.

I Love you, love, your favorite grandson

For more information on counseling, please contact me, Catherine Cleveland at (585) 432-0313 or email me at clevelandemotionalhealth@gmail.com.

Staying motivated

I was recently asked the question: “How can I stay better motivated?”

Often you will start by setting the goal that you want to achieve. Say for example, your goal is to lose 20 pounds.

The goal is your starting point

The problem is, a lot of things can happen between now and your goal. These problems can easily derail a perfectly good goal along with your motivation to achieve it.

So, what can you do?

Rather than paying attention to the goal, focus on the process. The process is paying attention to the steps involved:

  1. Plan: Start with a plan
  2. Do: follow through with the plan 
  3. Evaluate: evaluate what happened. What changes can be made?
  4. Reward: reward yourself. tell yourself you did a good job following through
  5. Repeat: start back at number 1.

Say for example the first step you want to do is find out what nutritional changes would work the best for you (Plan). Then you would implement the plan. For example, ask around for what has worked for others and/or do a web search for more information (Do)

Next you would evaluate the plan. You found a good nutrition plan you want to implement. Always reward yourself for following through, “I did it!” Now repeat the process.

Or,

“I didn’t follow through with my plan today.” Now you get to choose: 

are you going to take a strengths-based approach (evaluation of the process)? Or, are you going to take a deficits-based approach to reaching your goal?

This next step in the process is what can make or break your motivation. 

There is an important difference between evaluating (what can be done differently) the process to stay motivated (strengths-based approach) or looking at your attempt as a failure (deficits-based approach).

For example:

A motivation response is (strengths-based approach): “I didn’t follow through with my plan. What happened? Do I need to change my plan?”

Or,

The motivation killer is (deficits-based approach): “I don’t have time to find a nutritional plan. I am never going to lose the weight. I have been this way my whole life, it’s not going to change now, I am always going to look like this.”

While evaluating your plan, are you going to pick the motivation response or the motivation killer?

Remember, to stay motivated, focus on the process rather than the goal.

Plan out each step, follow through with each plan, and make any changes as needed. 

And, finally, make sure you reward yourself, every time, for paying attention to your process with your ongoing strengths-based positive attitude.

Authors note:

I wrote this article ad a script to a video. I am still working on making the video will post soon. Please remember to subscribe to this blog, leave a comment, and contact me, Catherine Cleveland for your mental health needs (585) 432-0313

Emotional Health Tip # 1: Pay Attention

Pay Attention!

I had a new friend ask me if I was analyzing them. What I was doing was enjoying the day and their company in the present moment. Although I may figure out sooner or later what their neurosis is, their worrying about whether I am “analyzing” them, says more about them than me. If you are worried about being analyzed, start by asking yourself these questions: what am I afraid to reveal? What is it that I definitely do not want others to know about me?

The essential tip I will give you to improve your mental health is to pay attention to yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts, to what your emotions are, and to your behaviors (as a result of your thoughts and emotions). Mostly, pay attention to what is happening to your body – are you having any muscle tension, does your heart race, do you feel tightening in your chest? What does your stomach feel like during stressful times?

Believe it or not, most people are not able to well articulate their thoughts and feelings. There are multiple reasons for why we lack this type of intrapersonal insight. The main reason is that we avoid our thoughts and feelings, hoping they will no longer exist. 

However, avoidance does not work. Thoughts will always haunt us when we are not occupying ourselves with something else like work, homework, socializing, television, gaming, and social media. Unwanted thoughts can most often occur when we are lying in bed, trying to go to sleep. Feelings can get subconsciously triggered and come out in unwanted behaviors and physical reactions, such as fighting with loved ones, aggressiveness, moodiness, anxiety, depression, and OCD, and physical pain. 

If avoiding thoughts and feeling does not work, what can you do? You can pay attention to those thoughts and feelings. Begin by developing a childlike, nonjudgmental curiosity to yourself, and all of your parts. In other words, “analyze” yourself in a compassionate and curious manner. When you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical body, you begin the healing process, which essentially eliminates the coping and hoping behaviors where nothing completely changes.

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