The Lighter Side of Transformation

Observed and reported by Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Compare and Despair: How free do you want to be?

A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my top-tier, close relatives unfriended me on Facebook…ouch! My first reaction was tightness in my neck and throat, I took a deep breath. Yes, surprisingly, breathing always helps dissolve some of the stress. But then I remembered that she was a teenager, and that it is possible she wanted more privacy in her postings with her friends. I made a choice to believe the best possible reason, and let it go.

This relative is dear to my heart – but I will not ask her, “Why did you unfriend me?” It could only lead to more grief. In the past, when I have asked other relatives “Why?” questions, I was scolded. “Why are you angry?” or “What’s wrong?” can trigger some people who would rather not discuss their feelings. I learned from those times.

The past few weeks, however, when I visited my Facebook page (once or twice during the week), I noticed I had this sad, unresolved grief about being unfriended by this relative. It wasn’t going away, despite my rational emotional response to it.

The good news:

Here is another moment in life when I can actually experience free will – I have a choice: will I let this Facebook event bother me and dwell on it, allowing this teenager to interrupt my thoughts and mental flow, living in my head rent free, causing me to spiral into a possible depression?

Or…will I focus on the strengths of our relationship and trust my first reaction?

I have a history of getting caught up in the toxic realm of negative thinking, which I prefer to call the Compare and Despair syndrome…

What is the Compare and Despair syndrome (“CAD”)? CAD operates on two levels. The first level is when I CAD myself to myself. There is the idealized version of me, and then there is the Lisa du jour; however I happen to be now. How this looks: I tell myself stories about how I could have been better…the classic CAD vernacular is fraught with guilt, self-wounding words and phrases such as I shoulda, woulda and coulda, always, never, and if only. CAD thoughts try to figure out how XYZ could be avoided.. In this case, how to avoid being unfriended on Facebook.

For example, “If only I were more athletic, thinner, richer, my relative wouldn’t have unfriended me…” As if my alleged lack of worth caused this teen to unfriend me. Nay, nay, I say, we don’t go there anymore…

The second level of CAD is when I compare myself to others, which always leads to pain. Practicing CAD with siblings, peers, colleagues and other is always a lose/lose situation; CAD becomes torturous when I read Vogue Magazine or The Week and am triggered by a tsunami of CAD, as I compare my voluptuous body with anorexic models and celebrities. It’s wonderful to read about someone’s success and be inspired – that’s always worthwhile. But to read about someone and feel less than, well, it’s time for some treatment for CAD.

So how can I choose to have a better mental health day? For today, I choose to focus on who loves me, who wants to be with me, who are my real friends, and who does care to connect with me. This is a choice! It’s also a practice –a psychospiritual practice.

From my experience, there is no will power when it comes to transformation. I cannot just make myself think about something – or not think about it — as if I am a programmable robot. No, it takes an army of angels to help me turn around these negative, toxic thoughts. From experience, professional training and years of helping others do this, I have come to understand that we have many kinds of helpers, both fleshly and invisible, who will, for the asking, intervene on our behalf.

Most healthy people by default are non-invasive and non-interfering with our troubles and thoughts. We need to pick up the phone and ask one of them for help. Sometimes this can be accomplished in a five-minute phone call. Sometimes we need to meet with someone for a longer talk, or seek professional help. Whatever, getting better starts with asking for help. Once we roll that stone away, the Universe can move in and fill us with the wisdom, compassion, unconditional love and the connection that we truly crave.

The good news here is that my little relative did a big favor for me. By unfriending me on Facebook, I was able to deconstruct this painful moment and turn it around into a joyful affirmation of my life.

So it’s true: my joy, my love and my experience of life are not dependent on who is my friend, on Facebook or otherwise. Instead of asking, “Why did she unfriend me?” I can ask “How can I be useful today? How can I make a difference? How can I give support, love and creative energy on this planet today?” Yes, asking the “HOW?” question is uplifting and invigorating. Asking “WHY?” just leads to a dip into negative thinking.

I have a few favorite affirmative prayers that can transform Facebook pain into something better. One of my favorites: “I am an irresistible magnet for God’s Goodness, and I attract the right friends, clients, peers and always get what I need.” I repeat this many times, until the soothing effect feels complete. Each time I say it, I am reminded of how much goodness and love IS in my life…and in my big picture, all is well. I am better, not bitter…

There’s also the old saying, “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.” I can choose to believe that this relative and I are really on very different vibrational planes – maybe even different Universes – so why can’t I accept that she is truly not a close friend to begin with? Let’s face it, trace it and erase it, DONE! (This is a great philosophy for people who are dating. I used to say this whenever a romantic situation wasn’t working out well. ) Whenever I am rejected, it is surely for the best, because everything is working towards my highest and best outcome.

Finally, we all end up at the Cosmic Café…at the end of time, at the beginning of time, forever; our souls are connected to each other in the web of life, in the Oneness of the Universe. There is no way to NOT be connected to this delightful little teenager! She and I are already One…why is my pea brain stressing over being unfriended, while our souls are joined together at the Cosmic Café forever? Indeed, whenever I want to connect with her, I can still pick up the phone, text her, or arrange for a visit. It’s all good.

Facebook is a great test for how lightly I am wearing my life. Am I experiencing my life as a loose garment, comfortable and easy, or is it tight, constrictive, punishing and unbearable?

Our greatest achievements do not show up on our résumé, on television or in the media, or in our bank accounts. There are no cash and prizes for these personal victories. Each day is another day of turning a defeat into a victory, a scar into a star, and the feeling is priceless. I can laugh at it and move on, free of any Facebook baggage. How free do you want to be? That is the question.

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2011. All rights reserved.

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Advice from the Moon…

As seen at St. Joseph's Hospital, Nashua, NH...

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My new hero, Poppa Neutrino (1933-2011)

Read about “The free spirit who rafted across the Atlantic,” (THE WEEK, Feb. 11, 2011). Here’s a man who lived fully, a life of adventure, passion and purpose on every level. Poppa Neutrino is my inspiration du jour…

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Nothing is impossible…

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’M POSSIBLE!” ~ Audrey Hepburn

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Retirement Readiness and Longevity…are you ready to be a healthy, wealthy Supercentenarian? (that’s over 110 years of age…)

I’m excited to be a guest on Mike Bonacorsi’s radio show tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 12 Noon – 1 PM, broadcast live from Nashua, NH, in the studios of WSMN, 1590 AM on your dial, and globally webcast from WSMN at this link: http://wsmn.wgamthegame.com/archives/138.

Bonacorsi is a certified financial planner, and is well-known in New England as “The Retirement Readiness Expert.” Together we will explore the good, better and best ways to manage money, life and health affecting baby boomers+. Please join us for a fun lunch and learn experience!

Here are some of the questions we will explore:
Last week the oldest person in the world passed away at 114 years-can this be the norm at some point?
Is living to an advanced age 90+ genetic, good living, luck or a curse?
How difficult is it for someone to accept the fact we are getting older, into the advanced years?
Do we accept the fact gracefully, or with resignation?
As a population we are living longer-can we maintain a quality of life as we get to 90 or maybe even 100+ years?
What can we do as we age to maintain the quality of life we want?

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What makes a strong woman?

Laughing at the insanity of life is very worthwhile. Strong women laugh early, laugh often, and laugh deeply. -Lisa Wessan

I was featured in this book a few years ago, as one of 101 “remarkable women” who were quoted on this topic…this is a lovely book, great gift item for the women you want to empower… I’m featured on page 33, available here at www.amazon.com.

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Thoughts on griefwork and laughter….

Kahlil Gibran once said, “If you don’t cry all your tears you can’t laugh all your laughs. ” Do you think this is true?

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Do you want to be a supercentenarian?

Do you want to be a supercentenarian (110+ years)? Great article on four amazing 100+ siblings…masters of letting go! http://ow.ly/2RkN8

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The health benefits of tears…

Yes, feeling is healing…more on the health benefits of tears…. http://ow.ly/2LVU6

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What is free will? From Poo to POWER!

“If life is nothing but a joke, you might ask, then what is the purpose of free will? I will tell you. We get to choose whether or not we laugh.”

~ Swami Beyondananda

When I was in my teens and twenties, I spent the better part of my time researching on the ideas on free will vs. destiny, one of the oldest paradoxes of our civilization.

This research lead me to many philosophical systems, comparative religious studies, living in Jerusalem for a year, even genetic engineering, and even more drama than I am ready to write about today…but what I finally learned was that it is possible for us to have free will AND also have a destiny, or multiple destinies/parallel universes, where a number of outcomes could occur.

No longer am I hyperfocused on this issue, but I’m still interested in what people have to say about free will, and I just love Steve Bhaerman’s quote on this (aka Swami Beyondananda)…I think he nailed it!

As I see it, life happens on life’s terms….no matter how much we visualize, pre-pave, practice positive thinking, chant, release, fast, burn candles and produce vision boards, bad things will still happen to good people who do all the above…when the poo hits the fan, will we be victims or victorious over the poo flying in our face? That is the question…

So how can we defeat the poo? Laughter is one the ways we can distance ourselves from the difficult poo…indeed, when we laugh, we truly diffuse the high negative energy charge of the moment, which then frees our brains up to find a solution, cope better and get help.

Viktor E. Frankl, MD, neurologist, psychiatrist, survivor of Nazi death camps said “I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation just enough to make it livable.” Dr. Frankl used laughter to cope with his imprisonment in the Auschwitz death camp, which he described in detail in his inspiring book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

My clinical work with therapeutic laughter is partly based on Dr. Frankl’s practice of logotherapy, a powerful cognitive behavioral method that can help you to shift and stand in your power despite the massive piles of poo around you. There’s a thought, from Poo to Power! That’s my newest job description…

© 2010 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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