Patti Harada has been a grief, trauma and relationship counselor for 20 years. As an adjunct faculty lecturer at the UA, she teaches the psychology of death and loss and the psychology of love and spirituality. She offers public lectures each Wednesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. at University Medical Center. July 28 marks the five-year anniversary celebration of her weekly workshops.
What do you teach in your workshops?
I teach people how to be comfortable with their pain and effective at loving themselves. ... The foundation for all I teach is a two-step process: One, you must release your resistance to pain, and two, you must effectively deliver an attitude of kindness toward yourself. That combination all by itself allows the truth to surface. Practiced over a state of time, it creates a state of forgiving.
Can you explain what you mean by a state of forgiving?
It is something you come to; it is a condition of your own state of mind and state of body. ... Forgiving is not condoning, excusing, pardoning, letting it slide, saying it is OK, reconciling. ... It is none of those things. It is a state of peace with the world the way it is, including your pain. ... The prevailing model of forgiving tells us to set aside our concerns for ourselves and extend compassion to the other person. My model of forgiving says you love yourself until you get safe enough to feel your pain.
So in the face of grief and loss, how can one effectively deal with the pain?
Writing is important. Speaking the truth to someone who can listen without trying to fix you. ... Pay close attention to the physical state of your body.
And do what with the body?
Take a breath; soften the muscles in your body; and do it again. Relax the muscles; breathe; let your lungs collapse into your body. Let your shoulders go limp. That immediately begins the process of change. ... If you start choosing to relax your body, you are taking the very essential component of potential self destruction and converting it to a self-building action and thought process. When I have pain and start to become fearful and chose to relax, choosing is the most important part of the process.
What else is important?
You find out it's not necessary to create tension in your body as a way of coping with pain. You learn you do not have to be afraid of emotional pain. ... You love yourself until it gets safe enough to feel your pain. When you get comfortable with your pain, you will achieve a state of peace.
"Love yourself" is a common phrase today. What does that mean exactly?
Be interested in you, in how you feel. Be kind, affectionate, appreciative. Ask and recognize what is difficult for you, what you struggle with. Be steadfast and present. ... It's a shock to find out that your own love for you can be valuable, significant, effective and rehabilitating.
So is loving oneself the secret to good relationships?
Absolutely. Because the better I love me, the kinder I am going to be to you. ... If I have no self-worth, no matter what you do or say to me, I will always be insecure and I will burden our relationship with my insecurity. But if I am effective at knowing that my love matters to me, I am peaceful, and you are much freer to live your own life.
I see. What else do you teach men and women about relationships?
I teach life lessons for men and women. I tell women four things: 1. Don't do things that feel wrong to your body. 2. Don't do things for people that they need to be doing for themselves. 3. Be clear with your mate about who comes first, him or the job. 4. Be willing to lose the person you love most by doing or saying whatever is necessary to take appropriate care of yourself.
And what do you tell men?
I tell men to see the women, children and animals in your life as the recipient of your emotional and physical care.
Why are there more lessons for women?
Women are much more complicated emotionally. We use more words in a day than men do. We have a bigger emotional processing component in our brain. We cannot separate our thoughts and feelings completely. Men can.
Interesting. Any more advice for women?
If I, as a woman, begin to take really good care of myself, the pressure is off you to continue to always be there for me and always understand me and always listen to me. ... We put less pressure on them (that way).
What else is important to know to have good relationships?
We think the other person's validation is more important than our own but, in fact, there is no validation more important than our own.