OVER-SENSITIVITY TO REJECTION CAN ACTUALLY CREATE REJECTION BY OTHERS

Are you one of those oversensitive souls that take things too personally and oftentimes feel attacked when the other person didn’t intend to hurt you?  Possibly, they were just giving you feedback or making suggestions to you, and you took it to heart.  Or, maybe they actually were confronting you or even criticizing something that you were doing, and you felt like you melted into a puddle on the floor, feeling worthless.  Maybe you search for facial expressions or gestures that might validate others’ dislike towards you, because you already know inside that they don’t care for you or that you’ve disappointed them.   Maybe, you over-analyze even a huff, or reading into getting no responses from others as reinforcing your belief that you don’t matter to them.  If you struggle with being over-sensitive to rejection, are you also your own worst enemy?   Does your inside voice rattle off a plethora of negative statements about yourself, questioning your own self-worth?  Your strong yearning to be cared about and approved by others may actually be an attempt to overcompensate for the lack of support you give yourself. 

Oftentimes, those that are over-sensitive to rejection have experienced significant rejection in the past, although there are some who have more of a biological propensity to being over-sensitive to rejection.  Possibly, they have received strong parental criticism or verbal and/or physical abuse and neglect as a child.  Others may have been victimized by significant bullying and negative peer relationships, and with continual taunting and ridicule, grew up believing that they were “no good”.  Oftentimes, those that have experienced significant rejection, also anticipate that they will continue to be rejected or criticized.  This isn’t about feeling bad about making mistakes.  It is only about self-rejection.

Unfortunately, those who remain oversensitive to rejection and continue doubting themselves oftentimes become over-dependent on others for validation and support.  As the quality or equality of the relationship swings the pendulum to a lopsided relationship, partners oftentimes feel they are “walking on eggs” and have to be careful how they approach sensitive subjects ,or they may puppet or connive the sensitive person towards being controlled by them with the use of criticism and condemnation if not followed.  Regardless, the relationship is impacted by one struggling with an oversensitivity to rejection. 

For many, it is not easy to learn not to be self-rejecting.  It’s usually a habit developed over a lifetime.  However, it may be worth the battle to go inside and fight those invisible tigers.  With research suggesting that we can change the hard drive in our brains by how we think, it seems like a worthwhile pursuit. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Does Worry Keep the Sleep Fairy Away?

Worry is a definite fiend that robs many people from their normal sleeping schedule.  In fact, researchers have found that 25% of adults say their worries keep them tossing and turning at night.  Apparently, there is a direct link between fretting during the day-time and sleep disturbance at night. 

Of course, all of us worry from time to time.  However, worrying becomes the problem in and of itself when we battle at night trying to sleep, or we can’t concentrate the next day.  Not being able to sleep can take its toll on our bodies and our emotion, even if worrying isn’t part of the story.  Here are some suggestions to keep worrying at bay when it is excessive or not helpful:

  1. Keep a pad and pencil near the bed to jot down reminders of what to do if your worrying is focused on remembering to get tasks done.  That way, it’s off your mind and you can “let go” of it ‘til the next day.
  2. Try to separate out the difference between habitual worrying and productive worrying.  Excessive worrying as a past time is usually a hindrance and causes all sorts of side effects, such as sleeping problems, concentration problems, and irritability, Become aware of when you are worrying, and consciously decide if that is what you want to continue to do with your time. 
  3. Choose to “let go” of what you cannot control, and focus instead on those matters you can do something about.
  4. If you choose to worry, focus on what you are worrying about exclusively.  It is apparent that Worry is knocking on your door for a reason or two.  What are those reasons?  What are the issues you need to spend time resolving?  Give your attention to the matter and process out ways to problem-solve so that Worry can go back to where it came and the issue can be handled the best you know at the time.  After reviewing the issue, you may choose that although the issue didn’t get resolved, worrying about it doesn’t bring it to resolution either, and revisiting it later may be the best course of action
  5. Realize that worrying can be unquenchable, with racing thoughts, ruminations, obsessive tendencies and the continual “what if’s” building to a fearful and anxious character that struggles with discovering the opposite, relaxation or finding joy the moment. 
  6. Practicing relaxation efforts can also help break up worrying episodes, such as paying attention to and managing your breath or heart rate, visualizing and detailing good memories, identifying enjoyable interests and practicing distraction from useless worrying, keep your focus on the big picture, and above all, be aware when you are worrying and decipher if that is distracting yourself from useless worrying or helpful in resolving things. 

If you experience anxiety that is not better managed with these suggestions and it impacts your health or your life satisfaction, you should consider seeking professional help.  There is a good chance that psychotherapy and/or medications can help put your worries down, allowing the sleep fairy to return again, splashing fairy dust onto you, and singing bedtime songs as you begin your sleeping journey through the night.

Claudia Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

The Wise Man Seeks Happiness, Regardless of the Condition Life Happens to Offer

First of all, what really is Happiness:  According to Webster, it can mean lots of things:  wealth, self-gratification, exhilaration, bliss, etc.  For our sake, we will define happiness as contentedness, pleasurable satisfaction, and one which is peaceful and rests without desires.  According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”.          

According to The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, it is not “self-centered” to work at being happy.  When we feel happy, we feel more light-hearted and are more able to eliminate the bad feelings or actions we oftentimes get stuck in, such as over-eating, drinking, gossiping, being irritable, being uninterested in others, being selfish and wanting our way, and doubting that happiness is possible.

If we work very hard to be happy, and mind you, it takes very hard work to be happy in this world, we may feel right and good, and more content in the midst of our battles.

So, how do I get there?  Here are some ideas:

  • Wish to be happy, and challenge those thoughts that guard your efforts; Is the glass full or empty?  If I think I’m happier, I am happier
  • Fight the tigers of negative thought patterns.  Hurdles are easier to swallow than big, monstrous, unpassable mountains
  • Focus on what is good and right.  Be lighthearted, generous, creative, kind, encouraging and helpful
  • Remember in detail the good memories of yesterday
  • Meditate on the good characteristics of others.  We all have an angel and devil on our shoulders. Seek the angel – in you and in others.  The one, who gets the most attention, wins.
  • Realize that we all make mistakes, and being fair usually ends with a  positive outcome
  • Recognize the good experiences you are having right now that you would normally not spot
  • Make other people happy
  • Practice laughing
  • Realize that the years are short
  • Put yourself in control of your attitude 
  • Set your goal on what is meaningful and with purpose

Of course, Happiness does not take the reality out of living.  We still go through many hardships; loved one’s passing, family conflicts, mental illness, poverty, cold wars, endless political battles, illness, and so on.  Life is not easy.  We need to solve our problems and not pretend they don’t exist.  We need to have hope that this too shall pass.

Happiness is an attitude.  It is a resolution. It is a decision.  It is a life-long goal or path we can take so that we are better equipped to deal with the rough spots of the many troubles we face each today.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. William’s Living Center Outdoor Visitation Policy:

Visitors should call activity department at 218-338-1010 to schedule an appointment.  Appointments must be scheduled for outdoor visits.  If activity staff are not available, visitors should leave a message and staff will return the phone call.  Families are encouraged to give as much advance notice for staff and residents to prepare for the visit.  Visits will be scheduled in half hour time slots, which will allow for a 20-minute visit.  This will allow staff time to assist residents to get to and from their assigned visit.  Longer visits will be taken into consideration for special circumstances.  Visitation hours are based on staff availability. 

Current COVID-19 positive residents, residents with COVID-19 signs or symptoms, and residents in a 14-day quarantine or observation period are not eligible for outside visits.

One staff person should be assigned to each resident for the duration of the visit.  Staff should maintain visual observation but provide as much distance as necessary to allow for privacy of the visit conversation.

Visitors must be screened by staff prior to the visit.  Staff should use the visitor log to gather contact information and document screening questions.  Temperatures of visitors must be taken.  Any visitor with a temperature of 100 or greater or any of the following symptoms will be asked to leave.  Screening questions include:

  • In the last 14 days, has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID19, or under investigation for COVID-19, or are ill with respiratory illness.
  • Do you have a new fever (100 F or higher) or the sense of having a fever?
  • Do you have a new cough that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have a new shortness of breath that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have a new sore throat that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have new muscle aches that you cannot attribute to anther health condition or that may have been caused by a specific activity (such as physical exercise)?   

Residents and visitors must wear a mask or other face covering during the visit, as tolerated and must support social distancing of at least 6 feet between the visitor and resident.  If visitors do not have a mask, a cloth mask will be provided by the facility to use during the visit.

Due to the risk of exposure, holding hands, hugging, kissing, or other physical contact is not allowed during family visits.  Visitors under age 12 years must be in the control of adults who bring them and must also comply with social distancing requirements.  Pets must be under the control of the visitor bringing them in.

SWLC will provide alcohol-based hand rub to persons visiting residents and staff will provide verbal reminders of correct use.

Weather: Visits should occur only on days when there are no weather warnings that would put either the visitor or resident at risk.

St. William’s Living Center retains the right to deny outdoor visitation to specific residents only if they believe:

1. Circumstances pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the facility because the resident or visitor does not comply with infection control guidance, or

2. The resident or visitor is at risk of abuse/harm.

The Error of Making a Mistake

Making mistakes is not an easy thing, especially when it impacts others, or our conscience, or our ego.  Many find it very difficult to even acknowledge being wrong.  Instead, it may seem more pliable to make excuses, blame the circumstances onto things beyond our control, or point the finger at someone else that could be touted as being responsible, and as a replacement take the fall.   Admitting a mistake oftentimes takes courage to be sufficiently humble, especially if it requires a request for forgiveness.  The funny thing is, making mistakes is part of life.  Even for those that say their biggest mistake was admitting to one they really didn’t make. 

So, what is the error of making a mistake?  Is the problem actually making a mistake or not admitting to one?  For those that prefer to live under a false pretense that making a mistake is unacceptable, they may also be displaying an underlying dread that screams out-loud one’s fear of being considered weak and imperfect by others or themselves.  The fear of being judged or unaccepted by self/others compounds the need to deny their wrongs, maintain a sense of hidden pride, and resume a superficial façade that mistakes are signs of weakness.  As an anonymous author writes, “Making mistakes is better than faking perfections “

If mistake making is really part of being human and no one is perfect in their own right, maybe the biggest error of making a mistake is not seeing its value?  The denial of making mistakes truly is a short-gap measure to growth and learning.   What a loss it would be to make a mistake, without resolve; without guilt and remorse, without forgiveness and consolation, without recovery and change, and without the recognition that we all give and receive mistakes just as part of our human condition.  Acknowledging our mistakes keeps us honest, humble, more accepting, and allows us to breathe a contrite spirit amongst us. 

Making mistakes is obviously not the practical or desirable means towards growth.  We truly do not intentionally go about seeking a means to make mistakes.  However, acknowledging them surely gives us the opportunity to move forward if we allow it. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Being Elderly Alongside Covid-19

What would it be like to be a prime target of COVID-19?  As already deemed a high risk, you may now be dealing with health problems or at least recognize that your health could be compromised.  With this, you could likely experience heightened anxiety and fearful thoughts of any potential signs of the virus, such as getting a spiked temperature or an unexpected cough.  You also may be much more alert to those that might expose the virus to you, and in turn isolate as a safeguard. The anxiety and fear become monumental in its own right, and the prime target could become overcome with a sense of demise.

And then, what would it be like to be a prime target of COVID-19, and be in a facility residing with other residents who not only have been or could be exposed themselves, but also by the staff taking care of you?  Each and every uncertainty is present while anxiety and fear can be compounded with daily reminders from the 24/7 news breaks, social media, practicing social distance inside the facility through meal isolation, staff masks and goggles, and then being even more isolated from outside visitors in accordance to government safety practices,

It could become too much to bear for some if they allowed themselves to focus only on the risks.  It would be easy to allow such anxiety to overload anyone with these fears.  Emotions can definitely take a toll on anyone if they allowed it.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has spread in various nursing homes and other residential facilities in the country.  However, the precautions taken to ward off any chance of transmission has been monumental.  All the safeguards installed readily display the enormity of this effort.  Hats go off to those that have worked so hard to ensure the best possible outcome for these individuals.

And, hats go off to all those that have been able to muster themselves enough to manage this whole ordeal.  They have had to come to a place within themselves that has moved beyond what they cannot control, and take each moment as it comes – again, one of the hallmarks of being elderly.  Let’s all take pride in our elderly and learn from their wisdom and insight.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

What Does “Getting Old” Mean?

What is the definition of “Getting Old”?  Is “getting old” about a person’s age or maybe it really has nothing to do with the number of years a person lives? 

There are good and bad connotations about “getting old”.  There are true hallmarks of becoming older, such as doing things slower than usual, forgetting more easily, getting wrinkles, and needing more rest than before.  No doubt, age usually begets a breakdown in our physical and mental capabilities; but, does that actually mean we are “getting old?”.  Does “getting old” really have to do with declining health and succumbing to its struggles or is it more about life experiences and the value of what you have to offer? 

Maybe “getting old” has more to do with the characteristics developed after being around for a long time.  After battling through the thicket of life’s circumstances and succumbing to the many bumps along the way, what kind of outlook does an older person develop over the years?  Of course, we are all different and respond uniquely as we journey down the road. 

Those who have aged have a choice of “getting older”.  Maybe “getting old” is when you are absorbed with the loss of what you had before or what you don’t have now?

Or, maybe the choice is to experience the maturity and thoughtfulness of this life.  There is definitely some truth to the saying, “Wisdom Comes with Age”, although this is really determined by the one “getting old”.  Wisdom is about looking through the lens of what really matters; yielding to a backlash of experiences, seeing the forest and not just the trees, summarizing life’s issues, and deriving conclusions by gaining perspective or a well-rounded view of what is important. “Getting old” can be about building tolerance, patience, fortitude, understanding, focusing on what truly matters, having more confidence and feeling a calling or moral responsibility to speak up for the sake of the upcoming generations.  “Getting older” may be a beautiful thing.  What a ripe moment to enjoy life, if you choose to. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW