The tension and panic I feel are not unlike the tension of the person who finds that I am doing things which are not myself, which I cannot control. The therapy is likewise similar. If I am aware of, and willing to accept all my sensory experiences, I sense the car's momentum forward, I do not deny it, I swing the wheel with the skid, rather than around the curve, until the car is again under control. Then I am able to turn left, more slowly. As another example, if you are relatively advantaged and your mom dies, you likely have a certain reservoir of resilience to draw on and a set of social circumstances that afford you some advantages. Maybe your employer will give you time off to take care of yourself. Perhaps you have money to cover burial costs and pay for supportive therapy. If you are less advantaged and your mom dies, the negative health impact instead may be magnified: perhaps funeral costs stress your already strained budget; Unleash the power within, declares self-help guru Tony Robbins, promising that you can break through any limit and create the quality of life you desire. Tell that to a trans kid of color whose parents just kicked him out of the house with only the clothes on his back and open wounds from his last beating. Those slogans just serve to make people feel terrible when they somehow can't transform their own lives. A positive attitude and a meditation practice are great, but don't be surprised if they aren't enough to save that kid. Nothing like that can (alone) bail them out so long as they're denied the safety and support we all need to survive and thrive. They'd be much better served if a guardian angel provided a loving home and supported their education. Self-soothing methods are behaviors that are meant to relax us and calm our senses. Some common examples include meditation, reading, listening to music, watching television, taking a warm bath, exercising, or calling a friend to talk. The goal of self-soothing is to channel your negative, sad, or otherwise uncomfortable feelings into either neutral or positive ones by focusing your attention on something else. Skill-Building Strategy It's important to learn ways to calm down intense emotions, like anger, frustration, anxiety, and sadness, especially while in the throes of mourning a loss. Below are four tips to help get you started.

Write down at least five to seven self-soothing methods that you'd like to try. Practice one per day for one week. After one week, take time to consider which activities made you feel better. Commit to working self-soothing care practices into your daily routine. In other words I do not immediately gain my conscious objective, but by accepting all the evidences of experience and organizing them into one integrated perceptual system, I acquire the control by which reasonable conscious objectives can be achieved. This is very parallel to the feeling of the person who has completed therapy. He may have found it necessary to modify his objectives, but any disappointment in this respect is more than compensated by the increased integration and consequent control. No longer are there aspects of his behavior which he cannot govern. The sense of autonomy, of self-government, is synonymous with having all experiences available to consciousness. The term available to consciousness in the last sentence is deliberately chosen. It is the fact that all experiences, impulses, sensations are available that is important, and not necessarily the fact that they are present in consciousness. It is the organization of the concept of self against the symbolization of certain experiences contradictory to itself, which is the significant negative fact. Actually, when all experiences are assimilated in relationship to the self and made a part of the structure of self, there tends to be less of what is called self-consciousness on the part of the individual. Behavior becomes more spontaneous, expression of attitudes is less guarded, because the self can accept such attitudes and such behavior as a part of itself. Don't be suckered by stories of people who succeeded despite tremendous odds. Sure, they probably do have some remarkable qualities, like perseverance, intelligence, and grit. Consider Oprah Winfrey, a Black woman born into poverty and raised by a single teenage mom. The odds of her breaking out of poverty--let alone reaching the pinnacle of fame and material success--were certainly stacked against her. But Oprah didn't break free of poverty alone. She had the support of a loving grandmother and a church community.

She found encouragement from teachers who believed in her. She received a full scholarship to attend college. Her admirable qualities allowed her to leverage these resources; Bettering our lives is a community endeavor, supported by individual effort. Mourning a Relationship versus Mourning It's not uncommon to hear comparisons between the end of a relationship and the death of a loved one. Many people equate breaking up to the loss of a loved one--whether the breakup is between romantic partners, friends, siblings, or parents and children. While it's true that both breakups and deaths require time to mourn, there are several stark differences between the two. When someone we love dies, we need to figure out how to preserve a relationship with them even though they are no longer physically present. When I was thirty-six years old, my father died from what doctors suspected was a massive stroke or heart attack. I was completely devastated by his sudden death. My reality had unmistakably changed, and there was nothing I could do to reverse that change. I simply had to learn to accept my father's passing and live life in the face of loss. After the death of a loved one, we still remain emotionally attached to this person, even though they are not physically with us. Frequently a client at the beginning of therapy expresses real fear that others might discover his real self. As soon as I start thinking about what I am, I have such a terrible conflict at what I am that it makes me feel awful. It's such a self-depreciation that I hope nobody ever knows it. I'm afraid to act natural, I guess, because I just don't feel as though I like myself. In this frame of mind, behavior must always be guarded, cautious, self-conscious. But when this same client has come to accept deeply the fact that I am what I am, then she can be spontaneous and can lose her self-consciousness.

XVI) Any experience which is inconsistent with the organization or structure of self may be perceived as a threat, and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self-structure is organized to maintain itself. This proposition is an attempt to formulate a description of certain clinical facts. If the rejecting mother previously mentioned is told that several observers have come to the conclusion that she does reject her child, the inevitable result is that she will, for the moment, exclude any assimilation of this experience. She may attack the conditions of observation, the training or authority of the observers, the degree of understanding they possess, and so forth and so on. My friend's doctor advised her to exercise as a means of treating her heart disease. She didn't need expert admonishment to know that exercise is valuable. She even had a treadmill in her house but was too stressed out from working two jobs and taking care of her kids to ever nail down an exercise routine. It was only after receiving a small inheritance from her uncle that she finally managed to start exercising regularly. Am I suggesting that if you are overextended you should give up on exercise? Or pin your hopes on a surprise bequest? I am suggesting that you consider the conditions of your life first. Even if that seems pessimistic at first, it will help you conceptualize how and if that exercise routine is manageable. Your realism and understanding of your own situation may help you get it started, especially if it means you can avoid useless guilt for (understandably) not making exercise your top current priority. RETHINKING DISADVANTAGE Learning to remain attached when someone we love dies requires us to form an internalized, symbolic attachment. They stay with us by always being in our minds and hearts. It's been seventeen years since my father died, and I still regularly share memories of him with my two adult daughters, my husband, and my close friends. I don't want to forget my father or replace the important role he had in my life. On the other hand, when we mourn the loss of a relationship, much of the work that must be done to achieve acceptance actually requires that we forget. This doesn't mean literally forgetting an ex-partner and wiping all traces of them from your memory.

Rather, through a process known as detachment, moving on requires us to emotionally detach from that person in order to make room for new relationships and attachments. Healthy detachment from a past relationship lays the groundwork for letting go, moving on, and loving again. This process can only happen after consciously relinquishing and working through the feelings--both positive and loving as well as negative and angry--that we harbor toward the person we are no longer in a relationship with. This type of emotional honesty can be challenging, but it is a major component of healthy grieving. She will organize the defenses of her own concept of herself as a loving and good mother, and will be able to substantiate this concept with a mass of evidence. She will obviously perceive the judgment of the observers as a threat, and will organize in defense of her own governing concept. The same phenomenon would be observed if the girl who regards herself as utterly lacking in ability received a high score on an intelligence test. She can and will defend her self against this threat of inconsistency. If the self cannot defend itself against deep threats, the result is a catastrophic psychological breakdown and disintegration. A concise and helpful formulation of the essential elements in threat and defense, as they apply to personality, has been constructed by Hogan (87, 88). In his summary he lists eight statements as describing the way in which defensive behavior occurs. These are as follows: Threat occurs when experiences are perceived or anticipated as incongruent with the structure of the self. Anxiety is the affective response to threat. I mentioned that Oprah was raised by a single teenage mom. What do the words single teenage mom conjure for you? On its own, the phrase is a setup that signals disadvantage. But if you toss aside our heteronormative family values bias, it's not hard to see that the risks for children raised by single teenage moms may have less to do with their parent's gender or relationship status or age than with financial instability, sexism, racism, ageism, and lack of social supports. Plenty of single mothers have the support they need to raise healthy, happy kids--even doing it better than many dual-parent families. Consider the many cultures where households consisting of multiple generations and extended family are the norm, providing a kind of small village to raise the kids.