The Stars and The Scars

Leonard Cohen Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

I see your light.

And your darkness.

And all your shades of grey.

That’s what makes you complete.

All the parts of you.

Integrating.

Changing. Transforming.

Simply being.

Accepting.

This moment. Yourself.

Whatever the day may bring.

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen


Story behind the blog post

Yesterday someone asked me what my philosophy of psychology was. And the one word that kept coming to me over and over again was: Integration.

All the parts of ourselves. The scars and the stars. Just like coal and diamonds. Same element (carbon). Different manifestation.

Wholeness is the goal. Perfection is overrated.

Carl Jung Integration Wholeness DrAndreaDinardo.com

Helpful Psychology Resources

  1. Blog Post: The Shadow Effect
  2. Video Post: Healing Your Inner Critic
  3. Book: Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark
  4. Research: Self-Compassion Research Summarized
  5. Theory: Carl Jung’s Individuation and Wholeness Process

Compassionate Listening

Even as a psychologist, I often don’t know what to say.

Especially now with so many people experiencing pain and trauma in escalating ways.

So rather than assume what someone needs, I have learned over the years to ask one simple question:

How Can I Support You?

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Empathic Listen

In doing so, I create a safe space for healing and acceptance.

Something we all need right now, more than ever before.

Unconditional love and support.

To be witnessed. To be heard.

All good conversation begins with listening.

Only then can we transformed by what we learn. 🌎💞

Video of Post ⇒ Click Here

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves DrAndreaDinardo.com

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

Celebrating Moms Everywhere

Let’s not wait until Mother’s Day to celebrate moms everywhere.

Let’s celebrate moms today.

Including my own.

Moms of every age. Moms of every country. Moms of every kind.

  • Cat moms.
  • Dog moms.
  • Aunt moms.
  • Friend moms.
  • Professor moms.
  • Neighbour moms.

The only thing that matters is love.

Love For Mom

Sharing Mom Memories

And since Mother’s Day is all about love, I wanted to share this fun video memory with you.

Our Recap of That Day:

Don’t chase the destination my dear, chase the feeling.

Because the feeling will always bring you home. 💗

Who’s on your love list today?

 Share how you have fun together

Related Post → Who Inspires You?

Acceptance: Your Peace Depends on It

Shift your focus.

Change your life.

Acceptance and peace go hand in hand.

peace

Consciously accept the good and the bad that exists in your life.

The rain and the sunlight.

The shadow and the light.

acceptance

Accepting what is does not lower the bar.

Quite the opposite.

Acceptance shines a spotlight on your inner strengths and endurance – independent of outer circumstances.

Strengths in Adversity DRANDREADINARDO.COM

Courage. Creativity. Wisdom. Perseverance.

This very moment in time.

And it’s that good feeling that motivates you to strive for more of what’s right for you. Instead of fighting against what’s wrong for you.

HOW DO I MAKE THE SHIFT?

Begin by accepting what is.

Moment by precious moment.

Your happiness depends on it.

acceptance


Applying this Post in Everyday Life

The 3 to 1 positivity to negativity ratio is one way of applying this post in your everyday life.

Specifically, each time you criticize an area of your life (or something about yourself personally), write down three positive aspects about the very thing you condemned. Hence, the 3 to 1 positivity ratio.

Journal Reflections DrAndreaDinardo.com

For example, each time you get down on yourself for not working during the COVID-19 pandemic, write down three benefits of sheltering in place. (E.g., more time for fitness, the space to try out new hobbies, meaningful conversations with family members). This daily practice helps to dampen the adverse impact of negativity bias, a type of cognitive distortion, common to all of us.

FOMO JOMO DrAndreaDinardo.com

Likewise, stop comparing your lowlights to other people’s highlights. You never know what’s happening behind the scenes in another person’s life. Good or bad. FOMO is “a story” fabricated in the mind based on snippets of observable behaviour (video below).

Reflection Questions

  1. How has COVID-19 eased (or increased) the pressure you put on yourself and the people around you?
  2. What does acceptance “feel” like physically in your body versus fighting “what is”?
  3. What have you surrendered lately? Let go?

Let Your North Star Guide You

My Wish For You Today

May you find peace in your home.

And calm in your heart.

No matter the storm.

PEACE is an inside job. DrAndreaDinardo.com

Psychology Thought for the Day

The goal isn’t to get rid of all our negative thoughts and emotions.

The goal is to change our response to them.

To accept them without judgement.

To transcend them when the time is right.

e·qua·nim·i·ty

Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. “She accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity”.

This video may help:

Let Your North Star Guide You 

How do you rise above? 💫

Watch Video of Post → Click Here

The Power of Breathing Space: You are Safe

Every time we take a long deep breath, we are telling our bodies that we are safe.

Each breath connecting
our mind, body, and heart.

Bringing us back to present time.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Breathing Space

Breathing Techniques To Try

Follow Your Breath Become aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat. When you feel your thoughts drift, gently redirect your attention back to your breath.

sky

Stand Up Straight Posture is especially important for breathing. Being upright enhances the rhythmic movement between the diaphragm and ribs. Hold yourself straight. Shoulders back. Feel the power of your breath.

forest

Think Reassuring Thoughts While Breathing With each breath, think soothing thoughts (“I am inhaling calm”). With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries (“I am exhaling worry”).

earth

Abdominal Breathing Breathe through your stomach. Start by inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “empty” your stomach, then your chest.

Breathing Quotes - Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Balanced Breathing At the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while slowly counting “1, 2, 3”. Hold the air in. Then slowly exhale counting “1, 2, 3”.

Source: Scientific American

Reflection Questions

What brings you peace during uncertainty?

What gives you strength?

Breathing Video → Click Here

Celebrate how far you’ve come.

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Today let’s celebrate all the dreams that came true.

Merely an idea 5 years ago.

It’s so easy to get lost in our hopes and motivations for the future.

Without realizing how many of our aspirations we’ve already achieved.
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Together let’s honour how far we’ve come.

Only then will we have the fuel + the faith to keep reaching for our North Stars.

Again and again and again.. 🙏💛 🚀💫

Don’t Give Up!

You are closer than you know. ✨

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

Mindful Moments in California

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We’re on a trip to California for our December birthdays and wedding anniversary and I couldn’t imagine a more mindful place to be.

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Nature everywhere we look.

Luminous moonlight.

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Dancing campfire.

Fresh ocean air.

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Water as far as the eye can see.

Sunshine in every nook.

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100 year old fig trees.

Just outside our hotel room door.

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Mountains in the distance.

Waiting to be climbed.

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Above all, I am most grateful to wake up each day and share my life with John, my students, and everyone reading this post.

December birthday blessings of the highest kind.🎄💚

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

Coping with loneliness during the holidays.

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When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Original Source:

I originally wrote this article for The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness/

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SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

schacter singer

This theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

1. Count to 10

2. Take a long deep breath

3. Make three wishes

4. Look up at the sky

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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.

2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”

3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”

4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”

5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”

6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

Watch Video Summary

Click Here

JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits are twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

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• Lean into loneliness

• Approach it with openness and curiosity

• Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Disclaimer: This post and magazine article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed.

Your Turn

1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?

2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?

3. What are your unique traditions and one-of-a-kind celebrations?

Video of Blog Post → Click Here