to Out on a Limb,
a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine
is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re
not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
I’m sure I’m not the only fan of Dr. Seuss,
a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel. An unofficial online biography
of this talented author and illustrator points out that
he was not an instant success. His lesser-known book, And
to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected
by 43 publishers. Dr. Seuss must have spent some time being
inconsolable; I’m guessing the excerpt above, from
Oh, the Places You’ll Go, was inspired by personal
How do you know
if you’re inconsolable? I think
of this emotional state as a combo package. When sadness,
fear and fatigue co-exist, for example, you’re pretty
likely to be inconsolable. You may be inconsolable if you’re
just feeling lonely, but the intensity will increase if
you’re also feeling hurt, mad, frustrated, or all
of those feelings at once! In the 12-Step Fellowships,
an important acronym is taught to newcomers. H.A.L.T. stands
for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you’re just
an H, or Hungry, you may need to halt. The more letters
you have, the more desperate the need for a halt. I find
it useful to add one more letter to the acronym: H.A.L.T.S.
The S stands for Sick. Everything gets harder when you
don’t feel well, physically, and yet, how often do
we stop long enough to truly get well?
You’ll also know if you’re inconsolable if
no offer of care, comfort or consolation is well-received.
A colicky baby is inconsolable. A grief-stricken widow
might be inconsolable. Some people get this way when they’re
sick, sending out loud “leave me alone!” vibes.
You might find yourself positively irritated by the person
trying to comfort you. It’s a tough position for
the caregiver, caught perhaps between feeling compelled
to help and at the same time, being rejected. How to break
just saying out loud, “I’m inconsolable” helps
to mitigate the suffering. Try to articulate the specific
swarm of emotions milling around inside --- to yourself,
at a minimum, and preferably to those showing concern.
Remember the famous slogan: This Too Shall Pass, but don’t try to force it. As
Dr. Seuss said, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily
done.” But reading one of his books might help!
Since an inconsolable state is very kid-like, you might
find great comfort in doing an activity that kids like
to do. Read. Color. Video games.
witnessing someone in this state, it’s pretty
uncomfortable, isn’t it? Feelings of powerlessness
evoke a strong desire to DO something to make this person
feel better. But if you do things without endorsement by
the one who is inconsolable, you might be pushed away. It’s
helpful just to witness without offering remedies. Follow
the lead of the sufferer, and if you get the “leave
me alone” script, honor it and try not to take it personally.
It rarely is personal.
Some folks respond well to “I’m here when and
if you need me.”
Joy-Gram for August
you can guess! Find one or more of the classics by Dr.
Seuss, and read yourself a bedtime story or two. Some of
my favorites: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! , The Cat
in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red
Fish, Blue Fish, and Are You My Mother? Dr. Seuss wrote
one book for adults. It’s called You’re Only
Old Once: A Book for Obsolete Children. The title alone
may make you grin! And the inventive illustrations are
fabulous icing on a delicious cake.
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By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •