edge of the water

The Other F****** Word

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in emotions, feelings, Therapy | Comments Off on The Other F****** Word

When thinking of a title for this article, several variations on the theme came to mind: Feelings: Everybody Has Them I Feel, Therefore I am Yeah, I Have Feelings. So What? Feelings 101 I Have Feelings? Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings Feelings…I Would Rather Talk About Sex. I was looking for a way to approach a subject that’s often challenging to talk about. There are a lot of overt and covert messages in our society that devalue and expect feelings to take a back seat to logic or reason. So, what I’m trying to do with the title is make it okay to talk about feelings. My own feelings about this entry are excitement and apprehension. I am excited to be able to write about a topic that is so universal and a part of everyday life. I’m also apprehensive that the subject matter by itself may inadvertently turn some people away before giving it a chance.  Many of us grew up in families where feelings were not discussed or only certain feelings were acceptable to share. We may have frequently heard statements like: “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “Don’t feel that way.” “I don’t know how to feel in this circumstance.” “She is so emotional.” “He is so unfeeling.” The bigger message in those words are that there are right and wrong feelings. That someone should or should not feel a certain way about a situation, and that the correct feeling is obvious and universal. If this is true for you and you wish to continue in this way, then stop here and go live life. However, if this resonates with you and you are ready to be challenged, please read on. Your feelings may want some recognition and  validation. A different perspective about feelings is that feelings are merely a human way of taking in information about a subject or situation. Similar to sensing the outside environment in terms of touch, sight, sound, taste and smell, feelings offer humans information.  And just like sensing the warm heat of the sun on a sunny day, there is no good or bad, no right or wrong.  It is just information to accept without judgement, that you may use to make decisions. The warmth may remind you to apply sunscreen to protect your skin, or you may decide to take off your sweater to regulate your body temperature. Taking in information through feelings works similarly. Spilling your drink during a meal might evoke feelings of disappointment, embarrassment, sadness, worry, or excitement. Each of us has our own set of feelings that could surface. If you’re worried about ruining something, you may decide to quickly remove your iPhone from the table to mitigate the damage. Embarrassment may lead you to decide to use a stack of nearby napkins to sop up the liquid and get rid of the evidence of the accident. Perhaps spilling the drink was the most exciting thing to happen that day and you think that you could use a little more spontaneity in your life, so you decide to take the afternoon off and go see a matinee. Learning to identify and label feelings allows us to take in more information. We often find that there are several feelings that can be applied to any given situation. This characteristic...

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Deepening Roots

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Relationships | Comments Off on Deepening Roots

  With a high wind event in Pasadena, California and the surrounding region a few years ago, there was an amazing amount of debris and destruction. The most prolific evidence of the power of these winds could be seen around town in the piles of leaves, scattered branches and toppled trees that lined the streets. It was humbling to see 100 year old oak trees and 4 story pine trees lie prone on streets or toppled up against structures. It was reported that one of the contributing factors to the falling of these large trees was the impact of artificial watering on gardens and landscapes. This prevented some trees from deeply rooting themselves into the ground and instead created shallow root systems. Even though they were healthy and functioning trees during most conditions, when the extreme winds whipped through the area, these trees didn’t have the ability to remain erect. This makes me think of the parallels between humans and their environment. We know that some people are more resilient than others. Most of us function well under typical conditions, but when extremes happen some of us have the ability to “bounce back” or return to their normalcy more effectively than others. We know there are some key factors that promote greater resiliency. Knowing these may help us put energy into systems and relationships that increase our chances for recovery when bad things happen. Short List of Resilience Factors (with Implicated Human Adaptive Systems) • Positive attachment bonds with caregivers (attachment; family) • Positive relationships with other nurturing and competent adults (attachment) • Intellectual skills (integrated cognitive systems of a human brain in good working order) • Self-regulation skills (self-control systems and related executive functions of the human brain) • Positive self-perceptions; self-efficacy (mastery motivation system) • Faith, hope, and a sense of meaning in life (meaning-making systems of belief) • Friends or romantic partners who are supportive and prosocial (attachment) • Bonds to effective schools and other prosocial organizations (sociocultural systems) • Communities with positive services and supports for families and children (sociocultural) • Cultures that provide positive standards, rituals, relationships, and supports (sociocultural) (Taken from Ordinary Magic: Lessons From Research on Resilience in Human Development Ann S. Masten, Education Canada Vol. 49 (3) Canadian Education Association ( 2010) Some questions that I reflect upon are: How deep are my roots in my family? How deep are my roots in my friendships? How deep are my roots within myself? How deep are my roots in my spirituality? How deep are my roots in my community? (This is an edited repost from a former blog.) Natasha Morisawa is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. She has deepened many of her roots in the San Gabriel...

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