Managing Well-Being During a Crisis

This is a transcript of what I shared on April 7, 2020, during a conference call with healthcare workers for a national organization. They said it was helpful. Please share, especially with those working in ​any ​medical service.


Hello everyone. I’m going to talk about managing well-being during a crisis where we are all grievers. I’m thankful for the leaders of your organization who value education. I’m moved by their letter of gratitude to you. I’m also thankful for all the helpers, for your courage, compassion, dedication, and grace during something we have never experienced. I’m grateful for the experts, motivated by their own profound grief to study and share their research to improve our well-being.

I will share what I have observed to be helpful for most people, including myself. It comes from working with grievers and years of education I received from world-renowned experts, including those with a Ph.D. in Psychology, Psychiatry, and Neuroscience, which is the study of the mind and nervous system. My intention is for this to be uplifting and inspiring. I won’t use jargon or share sad stories. Some will feel validated about what they are already doing. Others can implement whatever resonates. The bottom line is knowledge is empowering and can calm down fear of the unknown. What you learn can be used to influence others, including children with age-appropriate language. My dream is for children to grow up knowing how to grieve well.

There is very encouraging information about grief. It is natural, although most of us are socialized otherwise. Research with thousands of grievers by Dr. George Bonanno with Columbia University revealed that over half in his studies were resilient, which can be learned. All experts agree healing is possible. If you experience a dark, scary moment, hear my voice, and remember, there is always hope.

Sit back, take a deep breath, and release any tension from your shoulders. Being relaxed will help you absorb and retain this vital information about the dynamic between grief, thought, emotion, and the body.

Avoiding grief can lead to fear when you are in it. Grief is rarely taught in medical or behavioral professions, so many of us only know what we have been told, which often is misinformation. Grief does not just occur after the death of a loved one. It is the feelings experienced after the end or change of anything meaningful to you. It also may be felt when you are empathetic about someone else’s loss. Grief is as individual as our unique lives.

Common normal responses to grief include trouble with concentrating, sleeping, and eating. It can feel like an emotional roller coaster. If you experience any of this, know you’re OK, especially if you practice healthy behaviors to avoid ongoing pain and fatigue, shutting-down, or falling-apart.

Recognize that survival resources like comfort food, alcohol, and social media only provide short-term relief. A danger of excessively using these distractions is that they can become an addiction. Use strategies I will share with you that are proven to support your well-being long-term.

There was a time where I knew my thoughts were driving my despair, but I had no idea how to change them. I learned we can manage our thoughts by understanding how the mind works. There are two parts. The subconscious mind is like a supercomputer recording everything you experience. The conscious mind is where you are aware and can be mindful. When you are not using your conscious mind, your subconscious programming kicks in instantaneously.

Your subconscious mind programs from birth. By the time you are 35 years old, unless you make conscious changes, your life is 95% your programming. The subconscious is robotic and where habits exist. It wants to be efficient for you, but new grief can trigger past grief and cause you to overreact if the past grief was more painful. The subconscious says, “When this happens, they do that, so I will make that happen again.” The subconscious is resistant to change, which can cause intense cravings. Some then choose their comfort zone and decide change is too hard.

The amazing conscious part of your mind is easy to change. It is where you think, reason, and are creative.  It facilitates processing adversity and meaning-making. It may seem impossible that anything good can come from a pandemic, but I assure you it can. After the death of two children, I now cherish life and loved ones like I never imagined I  could. When you are conscious, you are in control to use your free will to choose. The way you manage your thoughts is to mindfully discontinue unconstructive thought and program constructive thoughts that serve your well-being.

To discontinue unconstructive thoughts not serving you for any length of time, mindfully notice them, and make a better choice. Your subconscious mind will recognize you are no longer using those thoughts and will stop producing them. Start from a place of self-love because you just didn’t have this knowledge before. Grievers are notorious for being hard on themselves, which only makes well-being more challenging. Pay close attention to idle times prone to the subconscious mind sneaking in unconstructive thought loops which can go on for hours. Use reminders to be mindful, like post-it notes or a sign. Practicing and being patient will make this easier.

Because the subconscious is so strong, to replace unconstructive programming with thoughts meaningful to you, it is critical to be prepared. Note the significant things you want to focus on. Examples include acts of kindness, gratitude lists, listening to audiobooks, and mind or body techniques. Affirmations are handy because you can use them anywhere. You can only have one thought at a time so even just saying “There is so much love” repeatedly will stop an unconstructive thought. I use this to fall asleep. Stay informed, especially from your organization, but be strategic about news. You can tape it and fast forward the blaming and arguing. Drag out pleasurable experiences and let love and joy become the majority of your 95% programming. 

Managing your thoughts is valuable because thought creates emotion. Let me say that again. Thought creates emotion! Emotion is energy meant to be felt to move it through us. It is an individual process based on thought and why it is fine if someone doesn’t cry or get emotional. Emotion can be challenging for those who are sensitive. Research psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron says 20% of women and men are born sensitive, and we can’t toughen up or learn to have a stiff upper lip, so we shouldn’t try.

Release emotion assertively rather than aggressively by feeling and talking about your emotions and related facts about what happened without judgment. Because humans are built for connection, it may further promote healing by sharing with an understanding good listener. We should not also create and dwell on unconstructive thoughts. For example, express any sadness about the pandemic but don’t choose and dwell on thoughts like, “life will never be good again,” which is not true and what we have to look forward to.

Suppressing emotion can be helpful when possible or necessary but is often misused. Being in denial or fearing judgment about healthily expressing emotions does not support your well-being. The number one reason emotions are avoided is because of fearing pain and not having the ability to recover. It can seem illogical, but the opposite is true. You get stuck by not feeling your emotions because suppressed feelings pile up causing long-term suffering.

It is good to plan time to grieve regularly for new grief and gradually for old grief if it comes up to avoid being overwhelmed. Grieving privately at home can help prevent exploding at work. Trust the process because it will bring you peace. It may help to have a designated place to grieve at work. Some call it a quiet room, but the bathroom works too.

There is scientific evidence that thought and emotion affect the body. Happy thoughts make you feel good and release healthy chemicals that improve immunity and the opposite can lead to disease. Suppressing emotion uses tremendous energy that leaves you exhausted. Stay connected to your body and allow sensations. Know that shaking or trembling is your body’s natural way to release excess energy for survival, so it does not get stuck in your body. Allow it to happen.

Understanding the dynamic between grief, thought, emotion, and the body can help you manage your well-being through this pandemic and for the rest of your life.

You are in control of your thoughts unless you allow a program that says you aren’t. When feeling strong emotion, thought is programmed faster and deeper, so do not allow new unconstructive thoughts to be programmed. Wrap love around old unconstructive thought patterns as they come up because you know what they are about as you instantly move your attention to something meaningful. Release emotion as it shows up or as soon as possible. Be a conduit and not a container for emotional energy. Allow grief and joy to coexist. Noticing BOTH comfortable and uncomfortable body sensations, thoughts, and emotions allows us to become self-aware and empowered over time on how to return to a state of well-being. Support others to feel and express, but don’t enable unconstructive dwelling. Move away to protect your well-being.

Role model, share, and teach others who are open to learning. Listening is more effective than lecturing or saying things that may unknowingly be hurtful. Phrases like “That makes sense,”  “I hear you,” and “I am here with you” are low risk.

While you are giving so much to others, ensure love, compassion, and forgiveness for yourself. My current favorite constructive thought is, “Even with social distancing, we can still touch each other’s hearts.” I hope I have touched yours. Thank you for listening.

Other Recommended Information

Neurofeedback May Improve Overactive Stress Response

Eight sessions of neurofeedback have eliminated my chronic bouts of prolonged fight or flight. This was a lingering but significant challenge after focusing on healing from profound grief. I was desperate to find a permanent solution for my poorly performing nervous system because I noticed anxiety affecting my physical health. After neurofeedback, I feel like I used to before my overactive stress response had an unnecessary negative effect on my well-being. 

Even though my mind knew my body was not performing naturally, and I had many recovery tools, I felt my prolonged anxiety happened too often. The smallest negative incident could trigger painful physical responses.

Anxiety Physical Responses

  • Difficulty thinking
  • Heart racing
  • High blood pressure
  • Panic
  • Shaking
  • Stomach ache
  • Sweating 

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that measures brain waves to produce a signal used as feedback to teach self-regulation of brain function. It’s like computer-aided meditation. Neurofeedback is commonly provided using sound, with positive feedback for desired brain activity and negative feedback for brain activity that is undesirable.

During a feedback session, five electrodes were placed on my head with a little conductive lotion. I listened with headphones to peaceful music that sometimes included soothing aboriginal chanting. Whenever my brain was in a repeated pattern as it would be with anxiety, a low volume click was played which showed my brain it could get unstuck.

Other than feeling tired after the first session, which I am not sure had anything to do with the neurofeedback, I felt no side effects during any session. I found them to be relaxing.

On my way to the fourth session, I was pulled over for speeding. I immediately noticed my anxiety trigger and then subside as the police officer walked up to my car door window. Instead of feeling overwhelmed for hours or days, I was calm. It felt like a miracle. In the months to follow, I had no prolonged negative feelings about events like my annual eye exam, a speaking engagement, when I sprained my hip, or after our carbon monoxide detector alarm sounded.

An unexpected experience was that I found it easier for my feelings to surface since I wasn’t distracted by an overactive stress response. I was able to lovingly embrace sadness and felt better. I am thankful that I can now feel all my emotions right away.

Each of the eight neurofeedback sessions was $65. All individual patient results vary. For me, the total $520 felt like an incredible investment in myself because my peaceful neurological system is priceless

Positive results are also seen for those who suffer from a variety of problems. It’s a simple procedure that can have amazing results. Share this information with those you know are struggling.

Neurofeedback May Improve

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Brain injury
  • Insomnia
  • Memory Loss
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Negative effects of chemotherapy

Why Life Is Better Understanding Grief

Knowing how to move through grief in a natural healthy way allows you to spend less time in the worst part. You absolutely can have joy again. It also empowers you with the ability to lovingly support those in your life who are grieving, rather than experiencing the guilt of avoiding them because you don’t know what to do or say.

Grief experts agree we were born knowing how to grieve, but some of us get programmed otherwise, and often it’s not even realized. The worst time to relearn those thought and emotion skills is when grieving because it’s difficult to concentrate. Not understanding your experience, especially when it’s an unexpected loss, can reduce your hope about the future. 

Grief is the experience one has after the death of a loved one or any major life change including these examples.

  • Death of Loved One
  • Suffering of Loved One
  • Death of Loved Pet
  • Divorce
  • Infidelity
  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Health
  • Financial Changes
  • Legal Issues

Think about what it was like when you didn’t understand something significant in your life and how much your life improved once you became informed. The same scenario applies to grief.

Be savvy about your life and master the subject of grief sooner than later. Avoiding the subject is not in your best interest. You can experience interwoven intervals of happiness while grieving if you know how. 

CathyCheshire.com includes resources from the best traditional grief experts, those who help the bereaved thrive after loss, interviews, examples of what to say, recommended books, and more blog posts. You can always email Info@CathyCheshire.com if you have a question about grief.

 

Help People by Publishing That Book in You

Update September 2018: CreateSpace and KDP to Become One Service
Click here for
 Article

Dedicated to my friend Tre.

I have noticed on social media, writings meant to help others heal which stopped me in my tracks and powerfully inspired me. I mentioned to several where we follow each other that they should write a book, and they asked for advice on how. This is for those of you who are aspiring authors and/or anybody you know who dreams of reaching out to help people with their writing. They say if you are pregnant with a book, it’s meant to be born. If you continually think about writing a book, it’s probably a worthwhile calling of yours.

Non-fiction self-empowerment books solve problems and improve lives. Reading fiction can decrease loneliness, generate feelings of joy, and provide an escape from everyday challenges, which also helps people.

Experts say helping people is healing, so my action plan to heal after a lifetime of loss included this objective. I have learned those wise souls are correct. I absolutely love providing hope by sharing my story, providing the only website with centralized resources about thriving after loss, speaking, and improving conversation about death and grief.

I’m not a publishing guru, but I am sharing what has been the most helpful information to me so far after countless hours of research and experience. You can learn from abundant but scattered information online or by reading a book, but I recommend taking a book publishing class.

Book Publishing Education
I used to think you wrote a book, handed it to a publisher, and their team handled everything else while the author pondered about their next book. It doesn’t work that way. There are many behind the scenes activities including marketing where you have to play a major role. I feel taking a class is valuable and helps you reduce mistakes, saving time and energy.

I compared the many book publishing courses available and decided on the one that made the best sense for me based on company reputation, my book idea, what I wanted to pay, and my goals. If you are writing a non-fiction book, I highly recommend the Hay House Writer’s Workshop. Hay House is the largest and most influential self-empowerment publishing company in the world. Their online course videos are filled with hours of advice and encouragement from successful authors.

When I began the class, I quickly realized there is much to learn about becoming a well-known author. When the Hay House CEO, Reid Tracy, said something like, “There are more people who need help than those willing to help,” I was hooked. When I finished the class, I felt I could make some serious contributions in helping people heal from grief.

If you are writing a non-fiction self-empowerment book, you can simply share your experiences, but having related education is helpful and can give you more credibility. Numerous coaching certification programs are available.

Self-Publishing
Publishing your book with online websites and without a publisher is inexpensive and easy if you have good technical skills, are a little creative, and know someone who can edit well.

At the end of 2018, Amazon (www.CreateSpace.com) where readers purchase hard-copy books individually printed as they are ordered and Kindle (www.kdp.com) where you publish an electronic copy of your book moved to one website at http://www.kdp.amazon.com. You pay a reduced fee to buy hard-copies of your book. They send your book to many other sites like Barnes & Noble. Use of the software to publish your book is free. The companies keep a portion of book sales.

Supportive services like grammar or content editing, book covers, and marketing are offered through these sites at a price. Hay House also offers self-publishing service through Balboa Press (www.BalboaPress.com).

Traditional Publishing
Most large publishers require you to have a literary agent. They will not read unsolicited manuscripts or correspondence. They will provide you with resources and support, but most are interested in authors with a social media platform and will help promote their book. They want you to have a “tribe” of engaged followers and substantial email lists. Some potential readers prefer to purchase books from trusted publishers.

Literary Agent
There are literary agent websites and a popular one is http://www.PublishersMarketplace.com. You can also find the name of the agent the author thanked in the acknowledgment section of a book similar to the one you’re writing. You can submit a book proposal to numerous potential agents at the same time. Submission guidelines are on individual literary agent websites. Agents receive about 15% and no agent should charge you up-front fees.

Book Proposal
The book proposal is your tool to convince a literary agent and publishing editor to take a chance on working with you. It includes who you are as a person, why you are the right person to write the book you are proposing, why you think the book will sell, and what you will do to promote the book. I purchased a book proposal template with instruction notes for $27 at http://authortoolkits.com/proposal/ and found it helpful.

Book Proposal Outline Example
1. Cover Letter
2. Cover Page
3. Book Overview
4. Author Biography
5. Author Platform (Social Media)
6. Author Marketing Plan
7. Best Sellers
8. Competitive Books
9. Potential Spin-off Books
10. Potential Forward, Cover Quotes, & Celebrity Endorsements
11. Table of Contents
12. Chapter Summaries
13. Sample Chapter(s)

Platform
Hay House recommends the New York Times Bestseller “Platform” by Michael Hyatt. I read the book and think it’s excellent. Engage ongoing in social media in valuable ways that really help people. The subject of social media could be another blog. Use your name for your website and as much social media as you can in case you want to expand your offerings in the future without the name being an issue.

Platform May Include
• Website with Blog – WordPress.com Hosts My Website and is Popular
• Facebook – Timeline Media & Comments
• Instagram – Media & Comments
• Twitter – 140 Characters & Media/Links
• Pinterest – Boards of Photos & Comments
• LinkedIn – Business Profile
• Google+ – Similar to Facebook
• YouTube – Videos
• Podcasts – Recordings

Marketing
Unless you already have a significant following, and I mean thousands, to help promote your book, it’s highly unlikely you will sell many self-published books without significant ongoing marketing.

Marketing May Include
• Use and Grow a Platform
• Join Associations and Network
• Use Professional Photography
• Create Branding
• Obtain Certifications or Degrees
• Write Articles
• Submit Press Releases
• Distribute Promotional Material to Defined Markets
• Create Media Kit
• Participate in Radio/Podcast/TV Interviews
• Conduct Speaking Engagements
• Offer Free Material
• Collaborate With Other Authors
• Use Social Media Marketing
• Use Google AdWords

All of this can feel overwhelming and it was for me at first. It’s one of those adventures where you jump-in, learn as you go, and it all gets easier. They say some of the best-selling books were first rejected numerous times, and it takes years to become an overnight success so get started now! Best wishes on your journey to becoming an author. I can’t wait to read your book.

For questions, please leave a comment or email me at info@CathyCheshire.com.

Barriers to Change Stifle Thriving

After unimaginable loss in my life, I experienced moving from a living hell to heaven here on earth. As I reflect on the extreme variance, I realize there are significant barriers to positive change. I experienced all these barriers to change, until my pain became unbearable, and then I conquered them all.

Barriers to Change
• Engrained habits
• Negative thoughts
• Others talk you out of change
• Don’t know how to change
• Don’t want to change
• Fear change won’t work
• Change feels daunting
• Change feels uncomfortable
• Think change is too much work
• Lack of patience
• Can’t imagine positive results

I’m amazed I took feeling the lowest I can imagine to motivate me to learn how to live well. I could have been thriving throughout my life, but I readily accepted less. No wonder so many get stuck, accept mediocrity, and become robotic. No wonder I read books I thought would change my life, but none did.

I read self-empowerment books throughout my adult life, but I didn’t take them as seriously as I thought I had. I didn’t realize how many barriers to change I embraced creating roadblocks to my best life. I was complacent and dreamed small, comfortable enough with my routines.

I wasted considerable time with enormous periods of negative thinking. The discomfort I felt changing to loving thoughts and actions felt well worth it once I experienced the positive results.

It has been odd noticing the more I thrive, the more people want to pull me down. I am dedicated to only bring into my life what supports my living life to the fullest.

Acknowledging the barriers to change is the first step in removing them, and self-awareness is key. Create your heavenly life now. Don’t wait until you are desperate. It’s easier than you may imagine unless you let the barriers to change consume you. I couldn’t imagine what a wonderful life would feel like until I created one.

Thriving supports you handling whatever challenges come your way, as you dwell in peace, joy, and love. Living your best life may prevent you from experiencing the worst despair. That is an astounding lesson and a reason I am thankful to be thriving now.

 

From “Should” to “Might” Can Inspire Forgiveness

Wikipedia defines forgiveness as the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

I experienced feeling heart wrenching pain from those I thought were supposed to love me the most. I felt hate for the first time in my life at what I perceived as unimaginable cruelty. The negative feelings racing through my veins caused me mental and physical distress.

I voraciously read and listened to experts talk about forgiveness, but I couldn’t do it. I understood my bitterness hurt me, but I felt those who caused my pain were evil low forms of life. I couldn’t just let it all go.

I never wanted revenge, although I thought about how easily I could intentionally do things that would hurt my attackers. I never once wished the pain I endured on anybody. I wanted the words to make things better, but nothing I said made a difference.

My reaction to abuse was to focus on being a perfectionist because I thought it would prove to others and myself what a wonderful person I am. This caused me anxiety and others to feel uncomfortable around me. I advanced in a career I didn’t love and at times detested. I continued on this emotional treadmill until I had so much loss in my life I cracked.

I was fired from a job for being righteous and quit two jobs because I didn’t want to deal with underhanded politics anymore. I became apathetic, reclusive, and depressed. My sense of well-being and any peace or joy vanished.

The action plan I created to improve my life included seeking professional help for anything I couldn’t fix on my own. I doubted counseling could help me forgive my worst offenders, but I was wrong. Talking with an objective educated person about overcoming negative feelings facilitated melting my pain and unshackling my heart.

After looking at how pain affected me, I imagined what kinds of experiences might cause anybody to act unloving. I stopped believing people suffering should want to help others and thought people might be stuck, just like I had been.

Quit “Should” Thoughts
• They should be ashamed.
• They should be punished.
• They should know how I feel.
• They should want to be more loving.
• They should want to help me.

Focus on “Might” Thoughts
• They might have experienced unimaginable pain.
• They might think nothing can improve.
• They might not be able to imagine a better life.
• Their heart might be closed.
• They might not know how to help me.

Thinking about what might cause someone to treat me negatively doesn’t excuse the behavior. It allows my heart to be in a peaceful place of empathy and compassion. I can move away from those who hurt me and move forward with forgiveness allowing my heart to dwell in love for myself and others. I can let go of perfectionism and focus on what brings me the greatest joy.

 

 

 

Welcome to My Thriving After Loss Blog!

This is so exciting! I long dreamed of a website like this and now I’m making it happen. I believe it takes many resources that resonate with you, your personal action plan, and an ongoing conscientious focus to thrive after unimaginable loss. I hope this website is one of the instruments that helps you on your journey to joy.

I admire you being here because there was a time when I never imagined I could ever thrive after the crushing losses in my life. My initial destructive responses to emotional pain I never imagined existed propelled me into a true hell here on earth. I think the first step towards having a glorious life is believing you can, and then you go after it with unbridled determination.

I put so much powerful change into my thriving action plan, it propelled me into a wonderful place I never expected. It seemed difficult and daunting at first because I was afraid my plan wouldn’t work, leaving me miserable forever. The positive momentum created an extraordinary snowball effect that swept me away into a place that warmly welcomed me. The light side can pull you from the darkness and is much closer than you may think.

My life now feels like a miracle. I still infrequently get mad, frustrated, and argue, but I love my life. I fill it with peace, goodness, love, fun, and passion for serving the world. I look forward to getting up every day and am thankful for each moment.

I want to help others new to unimaginable loss avoid my mistakes. I want to compassionately inspire others to get to an amazing life faster than I did.  I also believe it’s never too late. I will blog about the most significant lessons on my journey to thriving after unimaginable loss for those experienced with grief who want to move past surviving. I believe your wonderful life is waiting for you.