During media-free week, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in Canada.  We flew to Calgary, rented a car, and drove through Banff and Jasper National Parks on the way to Vancouver, hiking and taking 750-plus photos along the way.

I didn't miss media at all.

Why would I?  Pinterest, schminterest.

Real life was way too awesome.

(And yes, the water really is THAT color.)

But what about when life is just normal, and not way too awesome?

I think that's when obsessions can creep in and take over our lives in unhealthy ways, until we're lost under an avalanche of way-too-much.

Food or spending or possessions or clothes or media.  All the stuff we've talked about in the Summer of 7, plus a bunch of other areas we haven't covered at all.

We use that stuff to make ourselves feel better when we're disappointed in our marriages, hurt by our children, upset with our parents, overwhelmed by stress, needing a way out.

And the reason we use it is:  it works.  For a little while.  And then we need another hit.

Essentially, we become hoarders of whatever it is that makes us feel better when life is less than awesome.

In therapy, when we come across a problem like hoarding, we work it from the top (the behavior) and the bottom (the underlying pain).

Yes, we want to stop unhealthy behaviors before they do even more damage.

But unless we identify and process the emotions that drive the behavior, we'll end up with an emotional yo-yo diet:  try hard-give up-try hard-give up.

So, here are some steps toward processing emotions and getting free of whatever has us in a mess.

  • Tell the truth.  It's sometimes easier to start with writing it down, before you say it out loud.  Journaling helps.
  • Name your emotions.  No need to get fancy.  One of these four will work:  Sad, Glad, Mad or Scared.
  • Acknowledge your needs.  For example:  I need emotional connection.
  • Examine your losses.  For example:  My marriage is not the emotionally nurturing place I had hoped for.
  • Take responsibility wherever you can.  For example:  I am afraid I'm not really loved, so I act tough and strong. 
  • Allow yourself time and space to grieve the things you can't change.
  • Hang out with healthy people who love you and encourage you to grow.
  • Trust God.  Profoundly wonderful things can happen when we stop trying to hold the world together, and truly put ourselves into the hands of God, with our hearts wide open and our expectations at the door.
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