Saturday, December 17, 2005

Light a candle

Every once in awhile in my reading I will come across an interesting tidbit that I feel led to share with others. In the latest issue of Oxygen, there is an article called "Your Key to Success in Life." One of those keys, the article maintains, is resiliency - the ability to bounce back after life knocks you down. By the time you are my age, you've had your share of those situations. In a perfect world, age brings wisdom, but not always, so I am always anxious to hear others' experiences about their ability to transcend failure and disappointment.

The woman quoted in this article is Dr. Carol Orsborn, speaker and author. Here's her take on not letting negative emotions defeat you: "It's important to feel your emotions, but sometimes when you're in a crisis situation you have to be able to set them aside momentarily," she says.

Admit to yourself how big the emotional wound is and buy a candle that matches how upset you are. Some upsets are little and require a birthday candle. Other upsets are worth bigger candles, which you can burn for an hour a night. As long as the candle burns, allow yourself to feel your emotions. When the candle burns out, it's time to move on.

I was impressed with this idea. So simple, yet potentially so effective.

When Ed was going to AA and getting sober, he was frequently warned about the "pity pot." "Get off the pity pot," they would say at meetings when a member would just have depressing and discouraging things to say and would not come out of a funk. My friend Bernie, before she died when she was in the last stages of hepatitis C, would ask her husband permission for a few minutes to complain, then it was over with and she resumed her usual positive attitude.

I really like the candle idea. It forces us to evaluate exactly how deep the hurt/offense/failure is (we usually tend to overestimate this), and it gives us a tool to allow ourselves to feel hurt and sorry for ourselves, but at the same time, allows us to move on with our life in a positive and productive way. Acknowledgement of the hurt, but not defeat - relinquishing the pity pot to its proper place. I thought that was interesting enough to share.

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