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Feeling Tired? Overwhelmed? Unhappy?
Do you want more energy, more peace, more happiness? Christian psychologist Georgia Shaffer offers a proven “toss and recycle” program to help you evaluate your emotions, keep the life-affirming ones, and discard the ones that hinder healthy relationships. Step-by-step you’ll discover how to
Through real-life stories, insightful questions, and wisdom from God’s Word, you’ll discover transforming truths that will help you be free to be who you are—loved, talented, valued, and forgiven.
Georgia Shaffer is an author, licensed Psychologist in Pennsylvania and a certified life coach. Her books include Taking Out Your Emotional Trash, How NOT to Date a Loser and A Gift of Mourning Glories: Restoring Your Life after Loss.
Georgia is featured in the film Letters to God and is on the teaching team of American Association of Christian Counselors’ (AACC) Life Coaching Training series and their DVD series, Challenging Cancer.
She speaks frequently at conferences, women’s retreats and singles’ and cancer survivor events. Georgia’s warmth, wisdom, and no-nonsense personality will help you:
In 1989, after a recurrence of breast cancer, Georgia was given a 2% chance to be alive in 10 years. During the same time, she experienced the devastating loss of her job and her marriage. So, Georgia knows first-hand the struggles, setbacks, and skills needed to begin again. She also knows the joy that comes from living with passion and purpose.
Georgia’s energetic style has resonated with listeners and viewers on national programs, such as The 700 Club, Decision Today, and Sky Angel’s A Time for Hope. She has also provided expertise as a presenter on the American Association of Christian Counselors’ video curriculum Christian Coaching Volumes I and II; Fresh Start: Life After Divorce; Cancer: Seven Things You Can Do to Help; and Caring for Teens God’s Way.
When Georgia isn’t writing, speaking, or counseling, she enjoys spending time with her son and deciding what needs to grow or go in her scenic garden. She resides just outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Rely on Georgia Shaffer to help you know: What needs to grow and? What needs to go?
Georgia Shaffer is a PA licensed psychologist, life coach, and the author of Taking Out Your Emotional Trash: Face Your Feelings and Build Healthy Relationships. She writes and speaks frequently on the subjects of relationships, growing emotionally and spiritually, dating, grief, and rebuilding after loss. Her book for singles is entitled How Not to Date a Loser: A Guide to Making Smart Choices. Georgia has 19 years experience helping people identify: “What needs to grow? What needs to go?” For more information, visit: www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.
Georgia, we can all relate to the job of “taking out our trash,” but what led you to write Taking Out Your Emotional Trash?
Like many listeners, I grew up in a home where I never learned the skills I needed to handle my disappointments, insecurities, or anger in a healthy way. As a result, those hurts and feelings piled up and created more pain in my life. It took me years to learn how to deal properly with my negative emotions.
As a life coach and licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, I’ve seen how other people struggle with their negative feelings. Too often they wait until a crisis before saying, “I need help.” Unfortunately, it’s usually our closest relationships that bring our junk to the surface and it’s those relationships that suffer the most. I wrote Taking Out Your Emotional Trash to help people dump this junk before they trash their relationships. I want people to experience less stress and more of the energy, peace and joy that comes when we get rid of these potentially toxic feelings.
Could you share with us your definition of “emotional trash”?
I define “emotional trash” as the negative thoughts, feelings and attitudes that accumulate in our hearts and minds and when ignored or denied can lead to strong emotional reactions where we say or do something we later regret.
It’s not that our emotions are unhealthy or dangerous – it’s what we do or don’t do with them that creates problems.
For example, I have a friend whose garbage was not collected one week and so her husband stored it behind a shed in their back yard. A week later, the night before trash day, he carried it back out to the curb. But it wasn’t until he walked into their garage, back into the light, that he noticed maggots crawling all over his sleeves and hands.
If their garbage had been picked up sooner, it would not have become infested—and he would have been spared a creepy experience.
The same thing happens to us when our grudges and unresolved anger are not dealt with properly. They create the emotional equivalent of maggots crawling all over us.
At the beginning of the book you talk about spending a day on a beach filled with trash, and how most of the people walked or played around it as if they did not see it. Then you say we often have emotions that we ourselves don’t see or have grown used to. Can you give me an example?
Resentment is a great example of an unhealthy or destructive feeling that we don’t recognize. It’s like living near a fast food restaurant and getting use to the smell, after awhile we aren’t even aware of its existence.
Several years ago I had to care for my mother after she fell. It was during this time I realized her smallest request like: “Will you buy me some hand cream?” felt like a huge assignment. I usually responded with a snappish response from me. Since this is not the way I wanted to treat my mother I began praying about this. While talking with an old friend from high school, I realized my poor attitude came from some deep resentment I still held from my childhood. I had lived with that resentment some forty years without realizing it. I came to see that my rotten attitude had more to do with what was in my heart than with what my mother expected or needed.
I hear stories like this all the time. For example, one woman told me she realized she still was bitter about her husband’s encouragement to get an abortion thirty years earlier. Like me, she had grown used to her bitterness and was no longer even aware of its existence.
You write about how easily our wants can get distorted into needs. You say wrong thinking and a lack of self awareness can plunge us into a downward cycle. How do we reverse this tendency?
It’s important to understand how our legitimate desires can become warped by wrong thinking. Unless we are paying attention, our unfulfilled desires can plunge us into a downward cycle that looks like this: “I desire fill in the blank” becomes “I need you to ….” or “I demand that you…” And it goes on to become: “And if you fail to fulfill my desire, I will punish you in some way –either by withholding my time and attention or by attacking you verbally.”
To reverse this downward cycle, we must 1) recognize which desires have become something we believe we need, 2) grieve the loss of what can’t and might never be, and then 3) embrace what is. It is only at that point we can learn to live with the tension that comes with having desires and dreams without demanding that God or others fulfill them.
To have healthy relationships, you believe it’s extremely important to understand that different personalities handle loss differently. Tell us more.
When faced with an unwanted change, some personalities like to be around lots of people and talk about their experience. Others prefer to withdraw and privately sort things out. Still others will try to take control of the situation by working harder and seeking the most competent people to help. And then there are those who simply prefer to wait and let things work out on their own.
You need to understand that unless your friend, co-worker or spouse has the same personality as you do, they will handle loss differently. And when your emotions are raw, these differences between those you live and work with will be magnified.
For a free article on this topic (entitled Understanding Our Differences), go to www.GeorgiaShaffer.com and click “free resources.”
In Chapter 5 you talk about destructive and constructive ways of handling anger. Most of us agree that physical and verbal aggressions are harmful but what are some other destructive ways? And how can we express our anger constructively?
Anger is an energy that needs to be channeled in the right direction. Destructive ways of expressing our anger include
Whereas some constructive expressions of anger are
You write that it’s important to understand forgiveness as both a choice and a process. What you mean by that?
First, forgiveness is a choice—not a feeling. But even when you make the decision to forgive, that’s only the beginning. The next step is to work through the feelings of hurt, anger, sadness or betrayal.
You might forgive someone on an intellectual level, but if you fail to do the emotional work then you won’t heal on a deeper level. Working through the process means you verbalize what happened to you and how you feel about. When you get stuck or want to nurse your grudges, remember what God has done for you and how you’re forgiven. You also want to remember it can take months, even years, to be free of the hurt because we can only handle the pain a little bit at a time.
What would you say to someone who is ready to face their bottled-up feelings—their “emotional trash”–but who is overwhelmed by the task?
Many of us get stuck at one point or another in our lives– that’s normal. Last summer I decided to clean my 2-car garage, which at the time barely had room for one car.
It didn’t take me long to realize that making the choice to clean my garage and actually doing it were two different things. I was overwhelmed by the size of the task. Two months later I still hadn’t done anything.
One friend told me to start in a corner and another friend suggested I do one box or one shelf at a time. But I was still paralyzed by the huge task. Finally, I decided the only way I was going to make any headway was to tackle the job one item at a time. Was I going to throw it out, give it away, or keep it? And if I decided to keep it, where would I store it?
The project took five months to complete. But the transformation was amazing. Now I have more space—enough for two cars—but I also have more energy, more joy, and even more money since I now know what I already have and where it is.
If you’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed, focus on one issue at a time. Ask yourself, “What is the next step for me? What is one thing I can do?” And don’t be afraid to seek the help of a friend or a Christian counselor because some times we can’t do it alone.
Most of us have emotional meltdowns once in a while. What can we do to minimize these meltdowns so we can protect our relationships?
Be honest with yourself and ask, “Why do I resist dealing with my trash?” Are you telling yourself you’re too busy to deal with it or that you have a right to be bitter with, say, your ex? Do you think if you ignore your unresolved anger it will disappear? The problem with not facing your feelings is it usually means at some point in the future you’ll find yourself spending a day—or more—unable to do anything but deal your hurt and pain.
Therefore, you want to create and maintain routines that will help you pay attention to how you are doing emotionally and spiritually. Ask yourself: “How am I doing in my relationships with others? Am I reacting or responding to what’s going on around me? Am I protecting myself from total depletion? Am I getting enough sleep, rest, and exercise?
There’s a free self-assessment at www.GeorgiaShaffer.com under “Free Resources.” Use this tool to check and see how you’re doing on taking out your emotional trash.
Here’s the bottom line. Waste management today can take twenty plastic soda bottles and make a Polertec fleece out of them. But that’s nothing compared to what God can do with your emotional garbage. He’s the master of waste management. He can take your junk and make something beautiful out of it—but you have to be willing to give it to him. As I mentioned earlier we all have emotional trash . . . the question is what are you doing with yours? Are you holding onto it or are you getting rid of it so that you can be free to be who God created you to be?
Buy from the author (autographed copy)
Amazon.com: ISBN: 978-0-7369-2726-0
http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/books_nonfictionbook.cfm?productID=6927260 and click on free chapter download.