Author Archives: Cindi Rivera MFT

About Cindi Rivera MFT

Psychotherapist for over 25 years, working with adult individuals, couples and teens. Bilingual Woman of color therapist using mindfulness to work with anxiety, depression, loss, parenting, relationships. Also offering online Mindfulness courses. Listening with heart, warmth and compassion.

5 Tips to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage and Searching for Your Soulmate

What’s love got to do with it?

IMG_1655It’s not easy to get the love we want. And often, when we don’t get that love that we want, we get angry or resentful and then it can be quite hard to even give the love we want to share.

Generally, though, our relationships fare better when we can be proactive about that love that we want. Make sure we’re giving it as much as we hope to get it. Really listening. Prioritizing our partner. Taking responsibility for our feelings and actions.

Here are five simple but at the same time, difficult things to do that will help give a boost to the level of love felt in your relationship…

Five tips to divorce-proofing your marriage:

  • Be curious rather than furious (ie: “Help me understand more what got to you?” rather than “You jerk – you always overreact!”)
  • Try an empathetic statement before disagreeing (ie: “I see how upsetting this is to you.”, rather than “You shouldn’t be angry.”)
  • Choose what you focus on – give more appreciations and recognitions for what they do that’s right, rather than criticisms for all they do that’s wrong. (Did you know that excess criticism can be a predictor of divorce?)
  • Listen in a way that invites talking (i.e.: learn to breathe and hold steady when you hear something that makes you uncomfortable). And talk in a way that invites listening (own your own feelings; don’t blame, lecture, over-analyze, shut down, etc.)
  • Consider honestly what you might be doing to bring tension or unhappiness into your relationship, and spend more time focusing on changing that rather than trying to change your partner.

Plus, a gem of a perspective to keep in mind:

It’s perfectly OK that you each have different desires, interests, feelings, wishes, viewpoints, rhythms, mindsets. Managing those differences with kindness is what allows for greater intimacy and happier marriages. 

***And if you’d like to learn more about how to have more love in your relationships, please read this prior blog post: Your Soulmate is Closer than You Think.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with finding or keeping the love in your life, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Blessings of Being Sick

This is not what I ordered…

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So how have you started off this new year?

Did you review last year and evaluate how things went, so you could make good progress this year?

Did you set lofty goals/resolutions indicating all the ways that you were going to change your life and therefore be happier?

Did you start off slowly and let yourself rest more and focus more on hibernating rather than hyper-acting?

Did you do some spiritual practice to get rest and renewal, time for meditation, connecting deeply with your intentions for living your best life?

Did you create a master plan so you can be more organized and productive with your time and energy?

One mentor of mine suggested as part of the year’s review process, to note all the wins and triumphs, even if very small; and then to list all of the obstacles or disappointments of the last year and to put a heart next to each one as a way of having compassion for one’s struggle (which is a huge component of any success that we have).

Did you vow to make changes in difficult mindset issues that always come up and get in your way?

Did you prioritize what is most important to you and resolve to focus primarily on those things?…

And NOW… How are you doing with all of that, a month or so into this new year?

Have you given up?

Are you feeling inspired?

Are you already exhausted?

Are you doing the same things you always do?

Are you being super critical with how hard it is to make and sustain meaningful changes?

Are you offering more compassion to yourself and those around you, as you work hard and still encounter frustrations?

Are you pleased with how much you’ve been able to sustain your resolutions?

I continue to be curious about how people enter the new year – with hopes, dreams, buckling down, intentions or resolutions, lists; and how they manage whatever feelings come up related to their experiences. I am interested in what works, or doesn’t work. What helps us to move forward or causes us to stall out.

I paid particular attention this year to my own New Year’s entry. My main intention was to do it with love and a little bit of grace. I had high hopes for a year of business filled with progress and growth. And getting my projects to actually come about.

I ended up however being super focused on planning holidays, gatherings and milestone parties for family members. I had a lovely experience of being able to hug and hold a cousin of mine, just a few weeks before she died from cancer – and tell her face-to-face, in person what she meant to me. I have been able to travel and spend time with faraway family members. I was a part of several significant celebrations.

All the while I was neglecting my online work or at least putting it aside and not really doing any work on it (that’s partly why you haven’t heard for me in all of January). The energy and ideas I had to hit the ground running at the start of the year, actually got pushed to the back burner. I was able to be trusting that I would get to it all eventually and I had the thought that in the new year I would be better – more focused, more productive.

Ultimately I got sick in the middle of January and was pretty ill for the last half of the month. I got slammed, could hardly breathe, had a void of energy or anything resembling life as I wanted it. I had to miss several days of work (which I think I’ve done only a couple of times in my nearly 30 years of being a therapist).

It hurt to breathe; it hurt to cough; my body ached from head to toe. It hurt to BE.

I put gobs of Vicks vapor rub on; tried to breathe in warm steam; sucked on lozenges 24-7. I slept 20 out of 24 hours in a day. One day I thought I could work but I really couldn’t pay attention and I had this terrible underbelly feeling of ‘I don’t really care’. My clients told me to go home – wanting to be safe from whatever I had I’m sure, but also caring about my well-being.

I went from chills (and feeling so raw and vulnerable) to fiery night sweats. I thought it might be pneumonia. My doctor said no, my lungs were clear, but my asthma had gotten totally flared up, and I suffered relapse after relapse.

I had no appetite, no strength, no will to carry on. I felt like a puddle of liquid and that could only move myself from one spot to another, drop by drop, with a teeny spoon.

I wanted to be connecting with my people, encouraging a meaningful start to the new year, providing compassionate and mindful attention and support to those who count on me. But I had nuthin’. No thoughts; no expression of anything I could muster; no energy to communicate in any way.

I tried to at least be mindful of my experience – simply note or name my experience. That required a huge effort. I had no energy in my batteries to just observe. Mostly I did not care…

Then, I miraculously started to feel better and I was flooded with what felt like blessings of being sick.

Let me explain…

  • Knowing clearly what my limits were and being able to articulate them.
  • Sleeping with abandon – not trying to do just one more thing before I went to bed.
  • Easily saying no to people without feeling guilty or that I had let them down.
  • So acutely aware of my body and energy that I could pinpoint the moment I turned the corner and started to feel better.
  • Hearing peoples’ urgings to take care of myself because they cared about my well-being, and was grateful for how I had encouraged them before to take care of themselves.
  • Being so present in each moment that I was not distracted by anything else going on. No worries about the future, no regrets or sorrows about the past, no negative dialogue about myself.
  • Losing six pounds of sweat and shivers without even trying.
  • Having clear boundaries that were not offensive or capitulating to others.
  • Being ok with not taking care of anyone else.
  • Feeling very uncritical of myself.
  • Feeling fully what it felt like to be helpless, lifeless, a puddle, and then living through that.
  • Feeling deep acceptance about the state of my world, knowing I couldn’t rush things along, or try to force fix things in any way.
  • Feeling complete liberation and full of life, as I began to feel better. And such gratitude and appreciation for coming through the depths of it.

I wanted to imprint these experiences on my body and soul, so I wouldn’t forget what it felt like to be so present and so clear even about an uncomfortable time.

I feel as if these blessings of being sick have been integrated and internalized and now are a part of me, creating templates to rely upon when the next struggle – physical or emotional- finds me and alters my path.

How have you been? What helps to make your way a little gentler? What blessings have you experienced in the midst of illness or set back? I’d love to hear from you…

If you or someone you love is struggling to notice the blessings of life and hardship, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart-Full Moments – January 2019

Wishing you possibility and freedom

A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

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It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to starting something new, searching for how to be good, creativity, freedom, possibility, being good and being beautiful – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • “This time of year often brings out the best in people, but the unspoken shadow of Christmas is that much of the consuming prevalent at this time is unsatisfactory. It satiates at one level but completely misses at a deeper level. It’s care that matters, not things.” – Soren
  • “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace, and a soul generated by love.” – Coretta Scott King
  • “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” – Meister Eckhart
  • According to this inspirational footage that was released by Google earlier this month, the most popular internet searches of 2018 were about “good” things and how we can be better people. Heartwarming Data Reveals the Most Popular Google Searches Were About How We Can Be Good
  • “Thinking that other people are supposed to do or be anything other than what they are is like thinking that tree over there should be the sky. I investigated that and found freedom.“ – Byron Katie
  • “The same pain that can blemish our personality can act as a creative force, burnishing it into an object of delight.” – Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
  • “Let tomorrow find you better than today.” – Simone Biles’ Grandfather ~ “This is the time of year when we dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson ~ “Grow whole, not old.” – Chip Conley
  • We talked a lot about this thing called liminality, being in an in between space. The analogy was often about being a chrysalis, that form between a caterpillar and a butterfly, when you feel like you’re goo. Gradually, the chrysalis opens up and its wings dry and it’s a new being. But the point was to embrace this stage at midlife, when you’re in transition, and to say, ‘OK, I’m a mess right now. I’m goo.” – Kari Henley
  • “I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred, but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, as a healer of misery, as a messenger of wonder, as an architect of peace.” – Diane Ackerman
  • “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel
  • “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” – Maya Angelou
  • “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” – Mary Oliver
  • “If we give happiness to others we will end up happy.” – lemon ginger yogi tea bag tag
  • “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others, you need to accept yourself.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Music is the Anti-Wall” – DJ Spooky
  • “It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives.” – Thomas Merton
  • “When you’re sad, breathe.
    When you’re angry, breathe.
    When Joy swims through your veins like goldfish, Breathe.
    When your heart is cracking, splitting and breaking – breathe.
    Whatever is happening right now, no matter how painful – don’t run away. Face it. Stay. Breathe through it.“ – Sarah L. Harvey
  • “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
  • “Until we take the time to face the faulty thought patterns we may be holding onto, we cannot loosen their grip on us, and we will continue to act on what we assume to be true. The best way to undo our conditioning is to still the mind.” – Paul Singleton III
  • “And we can ask ourselves this: Knowing that death is inevitable, what is most precious today?” – Roshi Joan Halifax

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart-Full Moments – December 2018

I wish you courage, kindness and light

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A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to coping with darkness; honoring the light outdoors, and the light within; values and life codes; and a holiday wish – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • Although coming forward was terrifying, and caused disruption to our lives, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty. Having done so, I am in awe of the many women and men who have written me to share similar life experiences and now have bravely shared their experience with friends and family, many for the first time. I send you my heartfelt love and support. – Christine Blasey Ford
  • “What shall I do? How will I do it? I want to win but not at the expense of justice, not at the expense of the dignity of any man — not at the expense of hurting a friend nor teaching my children a prejudice which I do not feel.”- George H.W. Bush
  • “Words I like: family, loyalty, kids, freedom, grandkids, caring, love, heart, decency, faith, honor, service to country, pride, fair (fair play), strength, hope, healing, kindness, excellence.” – George H.W. Bush
  • “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield
  • “What I learned from Bernie Glassman was a willingness to stay in the room when the going got tough and to take loving action.” – Frank Ostaseski
  • “Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” – Dr. Albert Schweitzer
  • “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “His life code was: ‘Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course,’ ” – Jon Meacham
  • “We’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.” – Brene Brown
  • “I love golden white lights and seeing them in various locations has become my purposeful pause. They remind me to consider that what is called for now may be the commitment to and the choice of leading with light – each soft smile, or act of generosity, no matter how small, creating ripples of light to guide our way.” – Dawn MacDonald
  • “Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.” – Frida Kahlo
  • “I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them.” – Bill Gates
  • “The paradox is that living a full human life is not about getting it all together but embracing that not-together-ness in a loving awareness that is larger than it all.” – Melli O’Brien
  • If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again.” – Tara Brach
  • “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” – OG Mandino
  • “Practice gratitude for the balance of dark and light.
  • While standing outdoors, breathe in the cold winter air. Hold your left palm upward, look at it and say, ‘I give thanks for the cold, dark, and restful days of winter.’ Then hold your right palm upward and say, ‘I give thanks for the forthcoming summer and the person I am becoming.’ Then bring your palms together in prayer position. Raise them to your third eye saying, ‘I honor the varied rhythms of Mother Nature.’ Bring your pressed together palms to heart center saying, ‘I honor the dark and light inside of myself.’ Then bow in gratitude.” – Ashley Hitchcock
  • “This is my holiday wish for you: deep peace in your heart and soul, self-compassion, joy and laughter throughout the year, play!, optimal health for you and your loved ones, prosperity and abundance, energy to follow your heart to the corners of the world, and gratitude for all you have and for all you do!” – Alexandra Katehakis

So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…How are you coping with darkness, and managing light in your life? What are your wishes for the new year? Just reply to this email.

Many blessings and an abundance of peace and joy to you and your community, as you wind down this year.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Life is like a block of Swiss cheese

What do you do when you fall into a hole?

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It started when I checked in, with my consultation group – stated my feeling of frustration and lamented about how hard it is to change my brain and live free of self-defeating thoughts. The same unkind thoughts that come up and replay over and over. I tried to change them but couldn’t. I had been feeling not good enough/unloved yet again – after a (minor transgression, really) hurt that I had experienced from someone I care about.

When I spoke it in the group I felt like I was just checking in honestly – acknowledging an awareness I had had about how stuck and pathetic I was feeling, and felt some relief just to articulate, say it. Having an awareness about a feeling is a little better than simply being overrun by that feeling. I also felt a little stupid and not as effective as my colleagues who always seem to have it all together. I thought I was speaking about something unique to just me.

But I was further uplifted to hear everyone else acknowledge in their check-ins that they too had self-defeating thoughts at times and they too struggled with how to deal with those.

We began talking about how life is like Swiss cheese… And I felt immediately understood – gotten. And oh yeah – not alone.

So often my clients tell me about some slip or dip they’ve had in their lives that brings them down. Ruminating about how they were feeling so good, but suddenly got caught off guard when their partner said something unkind; or when too many challenges piled up (being sick, tired, having a misunderstanding with their teen; not having enough time to have a conversation with a loved one, worrying about a sick coworker; and hearing of one more anti-immigrant sentiment expressed in the news, or another person of color who has been mistreated… Etc.) and they felt overwhelmed or inadequate; or feeling a pervasive sadness or irritation for seemingly no reason at all.

Sometimes they’ve eaten too much, or not eaten well; or not slept or not taken good enough care of themselves. Sometimes they’ve been crying too much, or raging too much, or feel hopeless or unmotivated. Sometimes they’ve been impatient with their kids and snapped at them. Sometimes they can’t seem to ever like themselves even though they’ve tried, or they’ve just had a long period of feeling some unwanted feeling (self-judgement, sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, heartache…) that they couldn’t shake or don’t know where it came from or what to do with).

These experiences remind me of Swiss cheese and how life is like a block of Swiss cheese.

Don’t you also think of Swiss cheese automatically, whenever you’re struggling with one (or several) of life‘s hardships? Let me explain…

We go along, feeling more less secure, intact in our lives. We have some good relationships, housing, families and friends we can choose to be with or not; a job, activities we enjoy. We’ve grown to feel mostly OK about ourselves, even if we don’t always take the best care of ourselves. That’s when we’re living on the structure, ridges, solid parts of the Swiss cheese.

And then, usually quite by surprise, we fall into one of those holes. Some holes are small, tiny, almost unnoticeable. Some are bigger and deeper. Suddenly we’re in the empty space of the Swiss cheese; the holes of life. It’s not just that Swiss cheese (life) is full of holes that is bad enough, but it’s what happens to our mind when we fall into those holes that really wreak havoc.

Typically we’ll experience a different state of mind when we fall into the holes. And sometimes one of those holes in the Swiss cheese leads to the next hole, to the next empty space, or to the next series of holes just like that.

Our state of mind shifts (or crashes) into being hurt, insecure, feeling unloved or not good enough like always when we slip into a hole. We might become distant or shut down, or hyperactivated; pessimistic; angered or very anxious. We get down on ourselves and can feel like pitiful examples of human beings. We may fall into old negative self-talk or those repetitive messages that always come up when we feel bad. We think we’ll never get it right; we’ll always be stuck.

Now Swiss cheese is actually pretty yummy. And the essence of it is that it’s full of holes. In fact, Swiss cheese has the right balance of cheese and holes so it still has flavor. The holes are what make it Swiss cheese. When people eat Swiss cheese, they don’t lament that the holes are there or that one hole is bigger than another. And maybe it’s the holes that actually hold up the cheese part, giving it definition, character, surround. Sometimes the slices are all holes… Sometimes it’s more firm. Sometimes a slice is rather lacy in design.

The holes in Swiss cheese come from bacteria that creates carbon monoxide bubbles that pop or from particles that get that process in motion. The holes in Swiss cheese are actually also called eyes. The holes are the identifier of the cheese – not a source of imperfection in the cheese. Turns out that the larger the eyes in the Swiss cheese, the more pronounced is the flavor. Although of course, cheese that has too many large eyes does not slice well and comes apart, so the size of the holes in the Swiss cheese are actually regulated in order to have the best cheese possible.

  • We all have self-defeating thoughts, criticisms, disappointments with ourselves and others. This is our default mode.
  • We all have some degree of difficulty when we fall into the holes of our Swiss cheese life. This usually takes place with a shift in our minds.
  • We all experience something in our bodies when our mind shifts (rapid breathing, heavy heart, tension in our necks or forehead, upset stomach, etc.). Our memories can even change.
  • We can soften the impact of falling into the holes of our Swiss cheese life: We can bring compassion to ourselves.
  • We can appreciate the “holes“ as what makes the Swiss cheese what it is. Maybe even see the holes as the foreground and not where something is missing. See the holes as what supports the structure of the cheese.
  • We can get out of the holes with kindness rather than making the holes bigger and losing the whole essence of the cheese.
  • We can see the holes as just another interesting hole, not a bottomless pit.
  • We might acknowledge the hole to someone who cares about us and feels instantly better by their sharing their Swiss cheese story also.
  • We might meditate our way out of a hole.
  • We might laugh at the absurdity of expecting we would never fall into another hole again.
  • We might notice that when caught in the middle of a hole in the Swiss cheese, that there is always some cheese nearby.
  • We might see the holes as what makes the Swiss cheese whole.

What happens when you fall into a hole in your Swiss cheese life? I’d love to hear from you about what you notice or how you get out (or stay in!) the hole. Just reply to this post.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with, in, or getting out of the (Swiss cheese) holes of life, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart Full Moments – November 2018

The fire inside you burns brighter than the fire around you

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A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to Healing from sorrow, anger, gratitude and generosity, peace, and a way to make a difference in the world – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • “Just keep going.” – Marie Forleo
  • “I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere.” – Leonard Cohen
  • When the washing is done, they end with a phrase from the Song of Songs, a poem from the Jewish bible: “You are beautiful my beloved friend and there is no flaw in you.” – after preparing the Jewish shooting victim martyrs for burial.
  • “Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” – Rumi
  • “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – Interpretive Translation of Talmudic Texts
  • “The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks we give ourselves. “ – Br. David Steindl-Rast
  • “Waiting is an opportunity to turn inward, to find a moment’s silence, to meditate. Let’s be quiet and enjoy our wait.” – Paul Brunton
  • “Life is so painful, but I try to remember the beauty and miracles. “ – Elaine Mansfield
  • “It’s in that convergence of spiritual people becoming active and active people becoming spiritual that the hope of humanity now rests.” – Van Jones
  • “It is a powerful practice to be generous when you are the one feeling in need.” – Allan Lokos
  • “I have decided to stick to love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “In the new year, look for the good in people, instead of always looking for the bad.” – Jamie Foxx
  • “People who routinely express gratitude enjoy better health and greater happiness.” – Greater Good Science Center
  • “The vast majority of human acts each day are constructive: making meals, tending to children, saying hello, restraining anger, completing tasks, planting seeds, teaching, healing, nurturing, cooperating, smiling, and on and on it goes. Recognizing this truth is comforting and inspiring. There is still hope!” – Rick Hanson
  • ”For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” – L. R. Knost
  • Aristotle writes that “anyone can become angry. That is easy, but to be angry at the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and that is not easy.”
  • “We cannot escape the tragedies that arise in our lives. We can search for a reason and ask – why? Maybe we could hold others at fault or imagine what life would be had this not happened, but perhaps what defines our character is not our struggles but how well we meet them and rise up after getting knocked down. Faith will overcome fears, doubt and insecurities. Sometimes in life we don’t recognize how strong we actually are until we are faced with a great tragedy in our life. This calamity we face today will help develop the strength and fortitude we need for tomorrow. Losing everything we own is sad, but the things we own do not diminish who we are inside. Sometimes the worst situation brings out the best in us and others. When you put together a jigsaw puzzle made of hundreds of pieces, you put it together one piece at a time. No one can go back and change what has happened, but we can all start today and make a new tomorrow, one shovel at a time, one day at a time.” – GB (letter left to fire survivor)
  • Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
  • ”For each new morning with its light,
    For rest and shelter of the night,
    For health and food,
    For love and friends,
    For everything Thy goodness sends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Dear Creator,
    You, the borderless sea of substance,
    We ask You to give to all the world
    That which we need most — Peace.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Adrienne Gusoff
  • “A person of good intelligence and sensitivity cannot exist in this society very long without having some anger about the inequality – And it’s not just a bleeding heart, knee-jerk, liberal kind of a thing – It is just a normal human reaction to a nonsensical set of values where we have cinnamon flavored dental floss and there are people sleeping in the street.” – George Carlin
  • Another way to give and make a difference on Giving Tuesday: Send a free beautiful e-card to someone you love or are grateful for in your life. Make their day (and your day) better with an expression of gratitude.  https://gratefulness.org/connect/send-an-e-card/

So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…what’s inspiring you these days? What’s meaningful that touches you? How are you coping? Just reply to this email.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

Heart Full Moments October 2018

We are twice armed if we fight with honor…

IMG_0628.jpgA monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to justice, sanctuary, emotional gardening, mindful pause, voting, and even girl power – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • Click here for everything you need to vote.
  • “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
  • “If you restore balance in your own self, you will be contributing immensely to the healing of the world.” – Deepak Chopra
  • “Start just here. Tune into your heart. That is where love, wisdom, grace, and compassion reside. With loving attention, feel into what matters most to you. Yes, there are anxious thoughts, and there is grief and trauma, but don’t let your heart be colonized by fear. Take time to quiet the mind and tend to the heart. Go out and look at the sky. Breathe in and open yourself to the vastness of space. Sense the seasons turning, the rise and fall of dynasties and eras. Breathe out and dwell in loving awareness. Practice equanimity and steadiness. Learn from the trees. Become the still point in the center of it all.” – Jack Kornfield
  • Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that in uncertain times, our own steadiness can become a sanctuary for others.
  • “In these days of shared difficulties, first make your heart a zone of peace. And then, with courage and calm, you can act, you can speak up, help those in need, dialogue with others, register voters, feed the hungry, care for the vulnerable, contribute to the whole.” – Jack Kornfield
  • Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching to mend the part that is within our reach.”
  • “I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, that once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin
  • “There are many fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is yours is the present.” – Grenville Kleiser
  • “Until then, I had never really thought of the emotional life as a garden. But that is much closer to reality than seeking the instant miracle. Experiences are akin to soil, the rich terroir of growth. Left untended, certain emotions choke out others, like the weeds that threaten my lettuces every spring. In my garden, I pay attention. I know the difference between seedlings and the invasive plants, cultivating the greens and pulling out the others. So it is with our emotional lives. The same soil allows both weeds and good seeds to grow, and it takes a watchful gardener — and more than a little practice — to ensure the health and productivity of the whole. Over decades, I learned to work the garden of my own soul, and discovered that it was the spiritual work of gratitude. The gardening image has been helpful to me in many ways, most significantly by reminding me that some things take patience and time. To think of the emotional life as a garden moves us away from notions of instantaneous change toward a spirituality that emphasizes learning, attentiveness, trial-and-error, and growth. More than once, I have felt like I have finally overcome anger or grief only to discover it was not really gone. I may not want to, but sometimes I have to rework old soil, replant seeds, and try again. Gardening is the oddest combination of accepting what is (including your own limits and failures) and developing persistence. Suffering is in the soil. From it grows both negative and positive emotions. The negative ones are like weeds in the high summer; the positive ones — including gratitude — too often the smallest of shoots. I have discovered that hard work on one’s knees is the surest way to tend the garden. Both in prayer and rooting around in the soul’s soil, recognizing the difference between what will inhibit the growth of goodness and that which is fruitful, and then plucking out the invasive species. If the work is done, the garden flourishes. And there: gratitude grows. It is a miracle of a sort. One that takes time. And patience.” – Diana Butler Bass
  • Watch this – Sure to make you smile…girl power! Watch Eight-Year-Old Drummer Cover Led Zeppelin – Rolling Stone
  • “The first step in learning to practice the informal pause is to be intentional, know you are stopping. Then, take three full breaths — very long in breath and very slow out breath. Right away, that starts to relax the sympathetic nervous system and help you to acclimate. And then, pay attention to waking up your senses, so you know you are here. To occupy the pause, know that you’re listening to sound right here; the forms you are seeing are right here; the sensations in your body right here. Three breaths, open up your senses, and then, with kindness, invite yourself to be here. That’s it. And if you practice pausing in many different situations, you will start getting the knack of homecoming.” – Tara Brach
  • “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
  • “Dear Survivor: you are not defined by the violence that happened to you. The earth is not defined by the asteroid that struck it, but by the million years of life that came after.”
  • “We are twice armed if we fight with honor.” – Plato
  • “And if this isn’t a day when your universe has tilted and something precious you take for granted has not been suddenly irrevocably lost, bow before the mystery and let gratitude wash over you for the miracle of life, health, and this brief walk on our fragile planet.” – Carolyn Moore
  • “I thank God no one’s been hurt, And I thank the brave and resourceful security and law enforcement people who have protected us. There’s something more powerful than bombs, and that’s your vote. People MUST vote!” – Robert De Niro
  • “May I become free of all suffering so I may help others be free of all suffering.” – Pema Chodron
  • “The more I wonder, the more I love.” – Alice Walker

…So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…what’s inspiring you these days? What’s meaningful that touches you? How are you coping? Just reply to this email.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

30 Ways to Tame Your Anger That Will Help You Get a Grip When You Are Outraged

You have to take care of your anger to move through it

anger-tiger.jpg

Spoiler Alert: This is a bit of a personal diatribe. If it feels too long and “ranty”, click right here to bypass the anger and go straight to the helpful suggestions about how to tame your anger when it’s eating you alive…

I’ve been mad. Not mad insane. MAD ANGRY. I am outraged about all the madness going on (and here I mean mad insane). I think actually that I’ve called it madness as a way of protecting myself – if other people‘s behavior is crazy or insane or outright mad, I can manage at least a little bit of empathy for them – they know not what they do… They can’t be blamed for their thoughtless comments; poor judgment. They are acting this way because of some underlying complex factors that I am not aware of yet. They must be suffering from fear or hurt and can’t access any kind way to communicate that. They are at the mercy of their mental illness…

But after this last week of Senate Judiciary committee hearings with Judge Kavanaugh, I have no empathy. I am incensed and furious about what I perceive as a complete lack of judgment, compassion or wisdom, and in fact an excess of calculated, deliberate, purposeful, vengeful and harmful words and actions. I am mad about the injustice of it all.

This anger has hit me like a tidal wave, making every little or big situation be kindling for my fire of rage. As a result, I realize how generalized and over the top my reactionary rage has been.

I AM MAD…

At the noise level in a restaurant, where I can hardly hear the person I am meeting with.

At two white women who obliviously entered the crosswalk in front of me as I was ready to turn left, moments before it turned green for me; trapping me…

At the service technician to come to my house, no less than five times to repair my dishwasher, And piece by piece, bolt by bolt, has replaced parts and rebuilt it rather than replace it altogether through the policy I have, through which I have already paid enough for a brand new machine. And mad at each technician who has complained about every previous technician who did not do his job right, who in fact put in pieces backwards! And mad that even after this last service visit, my dishwasher is still not working properly!

I HAVE BEEN MAD…

At my friend, a rich white powerful male (who is one of the good guys) who came to me at an event and was disappointed with me that I couldn’t offer him words of solace and hope, to make him feel better after the emotional week he had had listening to the hearings of Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh… Talk about white male privilege! Why isn’t he sharing his outrage and disappointment with all those powerful white males who don’t live by the rules they make or who have separate “rules” for themselves? And with whom he has much greater access than I?!

At every man, just because he is a man. I have been over generalizing my anger and disgust toward all of them – regretfully, even disparaging all the good guys.

At the black prospective mayoral candidate, who only acknowledged the men around me at an event, and did not shake my hand or introduce himself to me; making me invisible. What? My vote doesn’t matter to him?

At the guys I know and care about who have admitted to me their own improper behavior toward females while they were in high school.

At the two black guys who came to my door trying to sell (very expensive) magazines as a means of supporting themselves and who challenged me when I did not buy, with ‘didn’t I agree that people need second chances?’

I AM ANGRY…

At the ways so many people are leading with, and over-fueling their anger as they communicate with loved ones, and seeming to not care about the negative impact their rage has on those loved ones.

At the TSA customs officer who treated me like a criminal, recently when I traveled internationally and he barked at me; had his associate pat me down completely from head to toe; threatened to and did throw away my belongings in the airport security line, and scared and humiliated me as I was in his country and felt targeted, being one of the darker people in the line. (I had nightmares about this later, when I was in my own bed, and struggled with a suffocating sense that I could not breathe. This was just a little trauma and yet it stayed with me for days).

At the anxiety, shame, trauma, overwhelm, visceral shaking and quaking that so many of my clients and loved ones have experienced or had re-triggered this week, after listening to the hearings for our next supreme court justice. Many are talking to me as if they have just been raped (literally and figuratively) and telling me their stories again, or for the first time. I am angry that they’ve been knocked down from an already vulnerable position of balance, having worked very hard (or not yet been able to do the work) and having found a tiny place of healing or safety, where their daily lives are not completely consumed and determined by that horrible trauma they experienced at an earlier time in their lives. Things they thought had been put in place have re-emerged as disruptive, invasive and devastating, as if it were all happening again, and their world is rocked.

At the reminders of my own experiences as a teenager of having been sexually exploited by an older white good ole boy/man.

At the sense of hopelessness, I feel.

I AM OUTRAGED…

At the terrible terrible heartbreaking interrogation done of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford – having to answer absurd questions, so many that so clearly had nothing to do with the trauma she had experienced, but that grilled her publicly for hours. I felt I was witnessing a grueling therapy session that was actually re-traumatizing in that moment. I wanted to be a kind caring listening therapist to her, and support her in her struggle, but could not protect her. I learned a lot from her about how to be vulnerable and strong at the same time, and how to handle one’s emotions honestly, even when in the middle of trauma. I hope she didn’t watch Kavanaugh‘s interview since that would’ve only traumatized her further.

At Kavanaugh‘s defensive, petulant, entitled, compassion-less, lying, disrespectful, narcissistic “testimony“ after Dr. Ford’s courageous, heartfelt, honest, vulnerable and incredibly strong testimony at the hearing.

At the rules made by the good old boys network that is so biased and only good for one side and that was practiced and heralded by most of the old white male senators at the hearings – the unfairness of it all is so maddening.

At the lies blatantly spoken and emotionally cried about in Kavanaugh’s testimony.

At the utter disrespect shown by Kavanaugh to Senator Klobuchar when he turned her questions about his drinking onto her.

I AM ANGRY…

At the man who sat across from me while I was dining, who winked at me and blew me a kiss and licked his lips while staring at me.

At the members of my family who perpetuated any kind of sexually abusive or otherwise abusive behavior.

At the horror of watching Trump publicly shame, blame and basically re-traumatize Dr. Ford – who has more courage in her little pinky than he has in his whole life. And at yet another demonstration of him having no empathy/compassion whatsoever. I am angry to witness his vileness.

At the sham of the investigation the FBI conducted, and the restrictions put out by the White House of who’s truth would be considered.

At the invasiveness of receiving a ‘Presidential Alert’ on my cell phone. How fu**ing dare he come into my personal space? I don’t know about you, but I feel as if all of my devices have been hacked and are operating in a dysfunctional way, since that alert. Later it occurred to me that this warning of ‘something terrible is happening’, was indeed a true and accurate metaphor for the times.

At myself for allowing a couple I was seeing to carry on a long hurtful argument with one another, right in front of me, without helping them to have understanding or compassion for one another. I essentially stood by and witnessed them injure one another…My deepest apologies for my overwhelmed inaction…

At a guy who has known me for a long time and reminded me that I stole and shoplifted when I was in high school. He then questioned if I should be judged for that misbehavior, in my role today as a therapist.

At the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, even though there is nothing just or fair or honorable about him…

These are but a few of the many transgressions I have had a strong reaction to in the last ten days, that have connected me to a deep anger within. Some have brought forth an over-reaction on my part, or an irritation, or some a sense of long standing resentment, or a brooding grievance. Some have brought forth outright rage. I have been like a bundle of fireworks, one setting off the other in an explosive chain reaction.

When I read this list now I can see how absurd and over reactionary and even unfair and judgemental some of my rage has been in response. But all together it has been quite a tumult of righteous anger, rage, grievance, condemnation and my own animosity, for me to hold and try to deal with. This is definitely work in progress for me. My intention is to move through it with minimal residual damage to myself or anyone I care about.

I have felt the many layers of this anger in my body – as a tense agitation, tightness in my shoulders and arms, frequently clenched fists, ready to throw blows. My body is strained, hurting, my head throbs, my brow is furrowed. I feel an intense heat coursing through my veins, a kind of boiling over. I feel heaviness in my chest, and an overfilling of my tear ducts. I feel particularly bristly and full of sharp edges. Teeth grinding, jaws locked, heart steeled but searing. I am angry. Hear me ROAR…

So why am I describing all of this to you, you might be asking?

I have been keenly aware of the pervasiveness and global feeling of my anger. I am not usually given to react only through my lense of anger. Usually I can access a much wider range of feelings, and be present to their comings and goings.

But this anger has been all encompassing and unwieldy. And I have struggled to contain it. Or move through it. Or release it. Or not let it poison me. Or manage it somehow.

I know I am not alone in being flooded with anger. Many of us share this difficult emotion, whether it’s in relation to what’s going on in our current socio political arena, or related to past hurtful, unjust, fearfully perceived or actual mistreatments.

And I wanted to offer some tangible things to do with it, so this anger that is a perfectly human and normal emotion doesn’t become self destructive or destructive to the larger community.

As you know, anger is one of the more difficult emotions to handle. Teasing out what’s legitimate about it (when it all feels justified), while not letting it contaminate everything else in our lives is really challenging.

Anger is not bad. It is not something to be gotten rid of. But we need to learn how to manage it in order to benefit from the potential constructiveness of it. We need to learn to take care of our anger. Not blame others, or blame ourselves. Anger is a natural reaction to threat, hurt, fear and can teach us or help guide our attention to what is truly needed.

So here are a few helpful and practical tools I have sought out, researched and tried myself that I think will be helpful to you as you try to manage any anger you are struggling with…

How to get the best of your anger so it doesn’t get the best of you:

  • One meditation on anger I listened to suggested when you are angry, don’t do or say anything. Sit still and find your body via the breath. Do this by feeling the temperature in your hands, or noticing what’s going on in your lower jaw, or checking in with where in your body you feel stirred up. This meditation indicates that when we’re angry we can’t feel anything. And that anger is a reaction to feeling. To take care of anger we must let our bodies become a big enough container to simply feel the raw sensations of the anger, without attaching our story about the anger. Check the energy in your legs, forehead, the skin on your neck. This allows the anger to settle so that we can more easily connect to and feel the feelings underneath the anger (being hurt, abandoned, afraid, disappointed). When you’re angry you don’t know what you feel even though you think you do. If you can ride out the wave of anger, which usually lasts at most a few minutes, then you can move through the fire of anger to the place of feeling again. To that human place, where connection, compassion, communication can occur.
  • Another meditation offered a way of addressing the anger within and the different shades of it. Do this by being mindful of the discomfort it causes in your body, and any attachment or justifications you might have to your anger. Notice if you appraise it in exaggerated or simplistic ways, or how much energy you give to making a case about what you’re angry about. Be aware of your own moral judgments that have become righteous or have a sense of superiority about them. Be mindful of intentions you might have attributed to others, or how personally you are taking a situation. Maybe you truly are a bit player in this situation? Shifting your perspective about the anger that you’re feeling helps to release it and then you can replace anger with more positive emotions like peace or forward thinking or self-confidence or forgiveness. It is a kindness to you to find forgiveness for them. Releasing anger helps you to find appropriate determination or principle or future wise action.

More tiny steps to working through your anger include:

  • Notice when your anger is generalized or exaggerated, and acknowledge when it is sometimes unfairly and overly reactionary.
  • Try to tolerate your anger and just be with it a moment longer.
  • Say things like, “I don’t like it but it’s here and I’m acknowledging it.”
  • Notice when your anger is building, when it peaks, and when it begins to subside. Notice if it is a ripple or a wave or a tsunami of emotion.
  • Take care of your anger so it is not acted out and not acted in.
  • Notice the way the leaves shimmer in the breeze, or how the light falls as the time changes.
  • Walk in nature.
  • Pet a dog.
  • Be intentional and limiting about the time you spend with the news cycle or on social media.
  • Help someone.
  • Try to feel your anger without the story attached to it.
  • Acknowledge your grief, sadness, hurt, anger, disgust, powerlessness. Have compassion for yourself for feeling these difficult emotions.
  • Do no harm.
  • Write out every little thing you feel angry about.
  • Be creative, artful.
  • Breathe. Breathe again. And again. Rinse and repeat.
  • Share how you feel with someone you trust.
  • Ask for a hug.
  • Send thank you notes to people who have acted in courage and identify everything you appreciate about them.
  • Speak your anger clearly, firmly, with conviction, from your heart.
  • Limit what you absorb.
  • Notice the beauty of your real life versus the online distasteful life of politics and news.
  • Do things that make you feel safe and in control.
  • Make choices about how you express your rage. You do have control over that.
  • Recognize you are safe in the here and now.
  • Identify and tend to all the parts of your body that are manifesting the anger.
  • Have gratitude about the things that are right in your world. Even have gratitude that you have the capacity to feel your own shades of anger.
  • Find and be with the soft feelings protected by the anger.
  • Make your heart a zone of peace. Keep the peace.
  • Stretch to mend the part of the world that is within your reach.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s making you angry these days and how are you taking care of your anger?

If you or somebody you care about needs help around managing the anger that you feel, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

 

Heart Full Moments – September 2018

Help! Things have been so hard…

A monthly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.

Coping with injustice, grief in a mindful and respectful way. Quotes of wisdom.

These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard this month that give me pause or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.

It’s been another very challenging month, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to coping with injustice, compassion, respectful speech, grief, mindfulness and even a hero’s words – with you. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight a few that speak to you. Enjoy…

  • “We’ve got the gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard, or just think it’s gonna get on with itself. You gotta keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it…and nurture it.” – John Lennon
  • “The world is a shitty place and I’m not gonna make it worse.” – Alex Williams
  • “One must view the world through the eye in one’s heart rather than just trust the eyes in one’s head.” – Mary Crow Dog
  • “If you are neutral on situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
  • “Interdependence: This is the practice of remembering that we are part of something larger than our individual selves—a karmic web of humanity—and what we do has impact.
  • Compassion: The practice of compassion is a weapon of mass healing.
  • Harmlessness: The practice of nonharming in body, speech, and mind is essential for respect and safety.” – Ruth King, Mindfulness of Race
  • “In my country, we go to prison first and then become president.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “What would your parrot say about your speech?” – Ruth King
  • “When we attend to the discomfort that kindles unwise speech, we discover that unwise speech is a habitual strategy that attempts to disguise the anxiety we are experiencing in the moment. Once we give kind attention to the impulses of our speech, we are more likely to uproot the habit of uttering unwise speech.” – Ruth King
  • “Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.” – Herman Melville
  • “Two things to remember in life: take care of your thoughts when you are alone, and take care of your words when you’re with people.”
  • “Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.” – Alan Cohen
  • “Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy and, after all these mortal human years, love is up to the challenge.” – Kate Braestrup
  • “Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” – Maya Angelou
  • This month, welcome the opportunity to share celebration, kindness, gratitude, and empathy with a heartfelt message. Peruse our free eCards, newly updated with fresh beauty and grateful sentiments. Make a difference – share your love and care. Enjoy our collection – Gratefulness.org
  • “Are you aware of any laws that give the government power to make decisions over a male’s body?” – Kamala Harris
  • “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself; if you want to eliminate suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own transformation.” –Lao Tzu
  • “Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” –The Dalai Lama
  • “Mindfulness meditation helps you say to yourself, ‘This is a feeling. It doesn’t define who I am and it’s not going to last forever.’” – David Creswell
  • “When the waves close over me, I dive down to fish for pearls.” – Masha Kaleko
  • “Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love.” – Valarie Kaur
  • “If all eligible young women voted, you would have the power to determine EVERY. SINGLE. ELECTION.” – #IGNITETHEVOTE
  • “They say ‘this could ruin his life’; without acknowledging it already has ruined hers.
    They say ‘he was just a kid’ without acknowledging she was too.
    They say ‘it was just a few stupid minutes ‘ without acknowledging how those few minutes changed all of her years.
    They say ‘he doesn’t deserve this’ as if she does.
    They say ‘boys will be boys’ without realizing that denied this girl her girlhood.
    They say ‘he deserves better’ while implying she does not.” – Marisa Kabas
  • “I draw prayer round me like a dark protective wall, withdraw inside it as one might into a convent cell and then step outside again, calmer and stronger and more collected again.” – Etty Hillesum
  • “Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life. I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.” – Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Hero
  • May I be filled with lovingkindness.
    May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
    May I be well in body and mind.
    May I be at ease and happy….
    May you be filled with lovingkindness.
    May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.
    May you be well in body and mind.
    May you be at ease and happy.” – Loving kindness practice

…So that’s this month’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your month has been graced with compassion and reflection and that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what inspires you and replenishes your soul.

I’d love to hear back from you…what’s inspiring you these days? What’s meaningful that touches you? How are you coping? Just reply to this email.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full-heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445

How I Help with Racial and Political Anxiety

Dealing with the overwhelm of the times

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It’s been another difficult week, and this week people have had to contend with hearing about more negative interactions in the government, and the possibility of long-lasting terrible implications related to our justice system. Anonymous op-eds, the continued separation between parents and children, deaths of the good ones…the stress from these news events is enough to make anyone anxious.

You might notice you are carrying an underlying current of agitation or feeling hopeless and frustrated (or horrified), even more often than not. You dread hearing about, yet another ludicrous decision made by those in government. You cringe in the face of everything happening, you have heartache in response to the bad leadership we have, you might rather stick your head in the sand, or barely be able to put one foot in front of the other, you feel so overwhelmed. You might feel powerless or enraged. Or afraid for the future.

And you really care – about the impact of this troubled time on your children, your family, your community, yourself. You care deeply about all those people who are struggling so. And often don’t know how to respond or what to do next.

While there is no easy answer, and no one thing that will resolve everything, there are many things that can ease the overwhelm, and continue to bring light into your life. Even with so much suffering going on, it is possible to live a life filled with compassion, courage, and meaning. And even joy.

At this anniversary time of 9-11 and in honor of all the lives lost and devastation that impacted so many, physically, socially and psychologically, I offer these suggestions for living a whole life, even amidst the heartache and wretchedness that surrounds us. This is not meant to ignore all that’s going on and the precarious state of our world; but to provide support and a buoy, if you will, toward strength and well being, especially during difficult times.

Here’s a list of some things I do to help clients who are struggling with the  political/ racial anxiety of the times:

  • As a bilingual woman of color therapist, I offer a safe place where clients of all backgrounds can share deeply about their real experiences, sometimes in the comfort of their mother tongue, and have the experience of being heard, understood and not judged. My warm down-to-earth presence lets them know I get them.
  • Sometimes it helps to simply let my clients grieve their deepest feelings, hold those feelings, and even grieve with them about the world’s sufferings or their own. I invite the depth of the emotion of their woundedness, and often shed tears with them, in my heart or on my face.
  • I honor whatever acts or actions of courage my clients have demonstrated.
  • I encourage putting into the universe small acts of kindness, or sending goodwill to self, to loved ones, to difficult people, to acquaintances, to strangers, and then to enemies, if possible.
  • I advocate self-compassion as a key to empowerment.
  • I encourage listening deeply to each other.
  • I encourage my clients to speak with their wise voice.
  • I support honest reflection and soul searching into oneself, and the welcoming of all emotions, even the difficult or hard to admit ones. I help them to unpack their own biases, and to recognize the damages of internalized oppression.
  • I suggest, teach and practice mindfulness skills as a way of calming the soul.
  • I advocate dance, journaling, walks in nature, yoga, a variety of breathing techniques – and various ways of freeing the body from the bondage of hatred or discrimination.
  • I help couples, and parents and their kids to have calm caring discussions especially about sensitive issues, with the intention of doing no harm, especially when they themselves are triggered.
  • I offer that those of us who are resisting must take great care to not get stuck in the bitter rage and divisiveness and negative thinking of the times, or we become part of the problem and no better than those we are angry with. We must care well for ourselves, so we can continue in the struggle.
  • I remind people that often the turbulence comes just before the true transformation that occurs. I offer hope that things will change for the better.
  • I offer guided meditations, mindfulness apps, body scans, sleep practices and ways of bringing mindfulness into everyday life, in order to build resilience so they can continue on in the struggle without being completely overwhelmed.
  • I listen. And listen. And listen some more.
  • I share a RAIN practice to use when dealing with difficult experiences: R for Recognize (Notice and name what’s happening in the moment); A for Allow (Can I be with what’s happening right now?); I for Investigate (How am I relating to what is happening? Can I do it without judgement or avoidance or resistance?); N for Nurture (How do I care for this distress?).

These are but a few of the ways I help clients to manage the distress and overwhelm of the current negative political and racist society we are surrounded by.

I am also proud to acknowledge that I was quoted in a colleague’s blog, who talked with several therapists to get best ideas for helping clients who are dealing with anxiety related to the difficult and stressful political and racist times we are living in. He is the creator of the progressive mental health directory, Therapy Den. To read the blog of Jeff Guenther, and to get more ideas about how to take care of yourself during these very upsetting times, click here (I’m honored to be mentioned three times): how to cope with political and racial distress.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and thoughtful to you and others. I’d love to hear from you…How are these times affecting you? How do you tend to what’s really important in your life?

Take good care.

If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed and is struggling to find peace amidst all the negative political and racist injustice swarming around, please call me for a therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
www.cindiriveratherapy.com
criveramft@gmail.com
(510) 482-4445