If you could start your life over, what would you do differently? When it comes to regret, the person you most often must forgive is yourself.
It can be hard to understand why people cut themselves on purpose. Cutting is a way some people try to cope with the pain of strong emotions, intense pressure or upsetting relationship problems. They may be dealing with feelings that seem too difficult to bear or bad situations they think can't change.
As we all know, some people worry too much. Rather than solving a problem, too much worry becomes the problem. Not only does excessive worry create much personal suffering, but it also affects the people around the worrier. I wonder if a lot of our worrying in life is like this: constant, spontaneous and effortless focus that gets dislodged by distracting external events or our own change of perspective. Now, I think that anyone who does not worry is just living on a different planet; yet, as we know, just worrying about the weather does not make it rain.
After 31 years of working in the field of psychology, I know a few things make a difference in coping with life.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will, that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
As this year continues, on behalf of the psychologists in the practice, I want to thank you for recommending us to others.
My friend Steve and I talked about him the last time we met for breakfast. The three of us had been college classmates but Steve and Rich were closer in those years. A few years after graduating school, Rich shot himself to death. Neither of us could remember any sign or warning of his despair. He was there in our lives and then gone.
“IS PATH WARM?” is a mnemonic device developed by Lanny Berman, Ph.D. (Executive Director, American Association of Suicidology) to identify acute risk factors for suicide. I share it with you for we all want to be on our toes for those we care about.
I Ideation - directly or indirectly disclosed thinking of ending one’s life.
S Substance Use - misuse of alcohol or drugs.
P Purposeless - finding no meaning or value in living.
A Anxiety - a regular sense of being on edge; sleep problems.
T Trapped - thinking that there is no other solution.
H Hopelessness - and it will always be like this.
W Withdrawal - increased isolation from family, friends, and usual activities.
A Anger - rage at self or others.
R Recklessness - making risky and dangerous choices.
M Mood Change - endless despair or a sudden and unexplained release from it.
In the thirty years I have worked as a psychologist, I have gone to court one time to speak with a judge about detaining someone in a hospital because of imminent danger of suicide. This list captures many of the signs I saw back then.
More information on these suicidal risk factors is available at www.suicidology.org.
On a minor note, I recommend two books to bolster our strength before we get to despair: Endurance by Caroline Alexander and Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. These true stories, one of hardship and the other of wartime cruelty, and are breathtaking descriptions of impossible conditions and human triumph.
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