safe, insightful talk alternative to family, friends, therapy, coaching

Posts tagged ‘Vancouver mentor’

Are We Over Thinking

I'm so over thinking.Alrighty now, lets do a little summary of some of the things we’ve been exploring about “thoughts”:

~ We are not our thoughts. We are the awareness.

~ Our thoughts are not the truth – just thoughts. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral.

~ Thoughts can sit dormant in our subconscious and spring to life at any time, without any warning- and may in fact feel like a brand new concept that we might even think we’ve never thought before.

~ Our brains and bodies can’t tell if a thought is based on real-time activity, subconscious memory… or pure imagination.

~ Every single thought you have can be assessed in terms of whether it strengthens or weakens you.

~ A single negative thought can change the course of your life.
So can a single positive thought.

~ Change your thoughts, change your life.

Crikey – who’s in control here?!! It sounds like I have power, I can change my thinking and therefore myself; and then it sounds like thoughts can divebomb me at any time and my brain and body might respond with behaviour patterns that I created years ago!?! Huh – I don’t get it: what do I need to know or do to manage my thoughts to live the life I want??

Examine the thought itself - not the content.I guess we’re not quite over thinking yet! So far, I think the biggest message around this subject is awareness. When you catch a thought or thought pattern that you know or suspect is not serving your best interest, you can stop and take a look at the thought itself – not just the content of the thought. For that matter, whenever you are feeling stressed, upset, fearful, unsettled, confused: it’s a pretty good clue that your thoughts might not be serving you. Thoughts that serve you feel safe, secure, peaceful – even if they’re negatively manifested, for example, yelling intuitively at a stranger invading your personal space: you may not know if a stranger is danger, however, your instincts know what you need to feel safe, and it’s quite natural and okay to enact those responses. (You can always soften the blow after the fact should you feel compelled!) Likewise, foundationless or forced Pollyanna thinking could hint at denial or limiting beliefs, which will also feel unsettled or unsafe.

Righty then: you’ve busted your thoughts for making you feel unsettled… stuck on repeat… going nowhere good. Now what? Well, that’s a very big discussion… ranging from simple thought-stopping tools and techniques right on through to in-depth cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of my favorite simple tactics for understanding the sabotaging nature of thoughts and thus managing them (learned first from a therapist then reinforced by good ol’ Dr. Phil) is: follow the thought right through to the end. Basically, identify if a thought is true or false. Take the common stressful thought: I hate my job. This one could give tornados a run for their money! Here we go:

Thoughts of the dread of having to get yourself out of bed and go into work even one more day spinning and spinning, slowly picking up whatever thought debris is in its path: nasty bosses, horrible commutes, the raise you didn’t get, how tired you are when you get home, guilt at not being home for the kids, how bored and unfulfilled you feel…
A little momentum and: what can I do, I can’t quit, I’m unappreciated, I’ll never make enough money, is this all there is for me, will I ever find my purpose, can I ever find a job that I’ll like, I don’t know what to do, I’m stuck, what do I do, I can’t talk to my boss… (and on to REPEAT:) he’s nasty, my commute sucks……..

That’s a lot of clutter for one little thought: and each acquisition of debris comes with it’s own little storm! That’s adrenal suicide, and thought overload.  Here’s the same thought, following it through to the end:

I hate my job – I dread going in to work everyday.

So, what if you quit your job.
Well… I need to make money.

So, what if you need to make money.
Well… then I’d have to find another job.thoughts aware3

So, what if you have to find another job.
Well… it will be hard, I hate job searching!

So, what if you hate job-searching.
Well… I need to make money, I’d just have to do it.

So, what if you just have to do it.
Well… I’d have to get some help.

So… what if you have to get help.
Well… I don’t know where to look.

So… what if you don’t know where to look.
Well… I could google or ask people.

So, what if you have to google or ask people.
Well… I’m sure I would find some help.

So… we can conclude: you’ve identified that you have help (if not some really good friends!) to find a new job that you don’t hate and make the money you need?? Next.

Yay! You now have positive thoughts, a basis for an action plan to a desired outcome, happy chemicals flowing, increasing energy, a sense of safety knowing that you are in control – and one less worry.  You get it: follow the thoughts Positive thoughts positive life.through and at the end of the day, you’re not dead. I refer to it as free-floating thought: thoughts that are going nowhere because you haven’t followed them through to the end to see if you end up dead. Free-floating thoughts take up ENORMOUS head-space and energy and the sooner you nip them in the bud, the sooner you will take away their power by understanding that the anxiety and falsehoods of your imaginings are always worse than actual facts/reality. Following thoughts through will dead-end them with some kind of answer – generally a positive one, because you won’t stop the “so what if’s” until you’re somewhat happy!!

My other most favorite simple tool is talking to my thoughts – giving “thoughts” an identity. When I feel uneasy, anxious or unfocused, I stop and see what’s going on with my thoughts at the time: where are they leading, are they based on anything real or useful?  Giving them a role separate from “me” gives a sense of control: I can take a step back and realize that thoughts are simply popping out randomly from my collective memory – “I” am not necessarily choosing relative or productive thoughts. It helps me see thoughts as simply a tool the body uses to offer up potential ideas for something that has yet to solidify a pathway to a peaceful action/feeling, or duh, I would have taken it without all of these lingering thoughts! As stated, if I feel dis-ease, my thoughts are not useful, so I might have a conversation with them that goes something like this:

Caught you again you sneaky little thoughts: you’re really not helping me much right now!!
I appreciate that you conjured yourselves up to let me know that there’s a better way of creating what I want – so you can go away now!! No, really – you can go now: I’ll clear my mind or choose affirmations or
Manage your thoughtsthoughts that are more empowering and create the right kind of chemicals in my body to allow me to better move forward in a way and in a direction that is healthier and more peaceful for me – so you can go. Thanks again for making me check in with myself – I’m good: beat it! 

Yes, I actually do speak to my thoughts like that – though often I can get away with a good “scram”! It’s taken some practice to be able to firmly and concisely tell my thoughts that their current employment is over, and stop them trying to bargain their way back in; and really, what that’s about has nothing to do with vocabulary and everything to do with gaining confidence that I really do have power over my thoughts. I can now catch my thoughts quickly, laugh and have fun busting the little guys – and can pretty much discipline misbehaving thoughts in one good talking-to! This is totally based on the “change your thoughts” theory of Wayne Dyer;  and giving thought a personality separate from me nurtures the Eckhart Tolle thought vs. ego ideology.  Keep in mind, this is not about simply denying all things negative, it’s about choosing a route to create the best likelihood that you can move in your desired direction, by changing brain and biochemical responses that enable you to capitalize on what your body has to offer to do so: primarily neurotransmitters and hormones that calm you and support you to both feel better and take productive action.  It’s amazing how well thought-talk works to raise your consciousness and get you in a positive frame of mind and body, once you get the hang of it! (I also talk to my aches and ailments!) Anyway, what do those rampant, churning, directionless, idiotically repeating, cortisol-producing, brain-path hijacking, negative thoughts do for you – absolutely nothing! EXCEPT: remind you, you have power!!

Soft dandelion flowers macro border over sky blue backgroundI’ll do a few more posts on managing thought before I move on to another topic: rest assured, we will be revisiting this subject often! “Thought-stopping” has many permeations and techniques, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Even the simple tools above take time and practice: do not despair (and they payoff in spades)! Negative thoughts will always be a part of human behaviour. I’m just a firm believer that being raised with a solid sense of self, and a lack of a need for comparison regarding self-worth or success, will take a lot of the ammo away from our minds. Identifying thoughts and their power, and maneuvering them favourably, should be second-nature.  Where we stand now though, we could ask: can manipulating your own thoughts have a down-side? I love the thousands of studies that accompany all of this new research on mind/brain/body: you can’t imagine how far rats and fMRI’s have gotten us recently!  For your amusement, here’s some nice light research about thought suppression and its effect re: forbidden romance, your golf swing, and…Basil Fawlty?  Sans rats!

Next: 8 Ironic Effects of Thought Suppression (page 2)

Advertisements

School of Thought: Pre-K

Man, I just re-read that article on thought in my last blog and it was pretty intense. Some good basic info… but just enough abstract stuff to lose me at times: you?? I’ll try to break future articles down into more manageable bites! (Although my warning stands: this topic of “thought” is some thought-provoking stuff!!  Just take in what resonates for you right now!)

Thinking CapI guess one of the big concepts around “thought” that we don’t learn in kindergarten is: WE are not our thoughts.
Eckhart Tolle for kindergarteners: hmmmm?! 
Without the benefit of any teachings on this concept, there’s a general assumption that the voice that we hear in our heads is a private “Mini-Me”: sitting in there and directing our lives through silent conversation so as not to have to share everything with everybody until we darn well choose to.  Mini-Me takes everything in, filters it, edits it and then instigates action that represents who we are and how we want to live.  Not so fast:  that little rogue also makes stuff up!! He doesn’t default all input through our “values” sieve so that only the good, healthy stuff gets through to create our outcomes; he throws his two cents into the mix – whether reasonable or not!

Lost? Let’s see if we can paint a picture:

You’re a university student trying to finish a term paper by tomorrow. Your current dream is to become an engineer; you’ve worked hard to get to this final semester with decent grades and this paper is important. You’ve set your good intention and you’re gonna work your a** off all night – get this done and do it right!!! 

But wait for it — here it comes… a THOUGHT: “Hey, let’s go to the pub for one drink”.  Now if YOU were your thoughts you’d put that idea right through the “likely-to-produce-good-results vs. likely-NOT-to-produce-good-results” funnel, which is directly connected to your values sieve and the outcome would most definitely be: you WOULD NOT be going to the pub tonight.

Mini-Me, however, reshapes this whole concept: this time, driven by a scent that just wafted intothoughts mini me your dorm room, subconsciously reminding you of that “hotness” that you’ve been crushing on all year and the high likelihood that they’ll be in the pub!  All of a sudden: there’s room for a change of plans in tonight’s professedly rock-solid schedule! Even though YOU are pretty clear on your current direction and priorities, YOUR THOUGHTS can hijack the situation- without you even being conscious of it (i.e. that sneaky smell).  Mini-Me presents with something resembling a reasonable idea worthy of consideration, yet… “where did that come from”?! You weren’t even slightly contemplating anything but homework tonight!!  That rascal!

It’s actually quite a simplistic fact when you think about it: how could we be our thoughts when they are so malleable and can be so easily manipulated: can you say flakey much??  And if some of our thoughts are sub-conscious, then reason says: we can’t possibly know ourselves very well – and yet it is entirely possible to know yourself inside-out!

This article from Inner Frontier introduces us to “automatic thought” (now also being considered amongst the idea of “cell memory” in some of the new neuroscience research). It brings awareness of our unmanaged and “mindless” habits of thought; and gives a little peace of mind that our learning curve around changing our thoughts and behaviours come by us honestly! Whew!

Read More: The Value – or Overvalue of Thinking (page 2)

Why Do We Mess With Perfect?

us3_say_what3

In the comparison game, your biggest archenemy, your greatest source of envy, competition and judgement is without question: YOU. You constantly compare yourself to you.

Now hold on a minute: didn’t we just decide a few posts ago that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, rather, the healthy behaviour is to measure ourselves against our own measuring stick?  Ya,here it is:

 

Compare me to me.

Well, seems like there might be a catch in that plan too! It’s the right concept, however the starting point of that measuring stick may need to shift, and in fact, remain fluid.

Now that doesn’t seem right?? How can I measure against something that doesn’t remain static – it can’t  possibly give me any realistic accuracy for comparison!?!

Bingo! Everything is made up folks! Starting points, end points, what is better, what is worse… it’s all been made up.  Some things are somewhat more factual than other things e.g. the sun will rise again — or willllll it… do we really know it is rising… isn’t that just the theory-du-jour until some new discovery gives us another option?  Okay, okay, we’ll leave Philosophy 101 for another day – back to human behaviour: some things are adapted more universally in an effort to make societies collaborative and function cohesively; things such as laws, policies, school systems. We don’t need to look too far to see how malleable those things are though: I live in BC Canada virtually on the Washington state border, and if my legally-married-here gay friend put one tippy toe on the south side, it would constitute societal disaster in that demographics’ decree. Our two societies grew up virtually identically, yet evidently, a fence in a field can dictate self-worth.

It reminds me of the seemingly innocuous Sunday roast yarn:
Mom makes the best roast beef in town. Every Sunday since forever you’ve watched her skillfully prepare her prime cut: trimming both raw ends off, lovingly Mom's the best cooksalting it, ladling the juices over the brown beauty every 30 minutes as it cooks to mouth-watering perfection – everyone says so. One ordinary childhood day, you go to your neighbour Steve’s house for dinner and you watch his mom plunk the familiar rosy beast raw into the pan, throw it in the oven at 375° and then tell you kids to have your hands washed by 5.
Ew yuck! There’s NO WAY you’re sticking around for dinner – that’s just plain wrong how she’s cooking that beef!! That’s it, these folks are officially not good cooks and over time, relegated as weird inferior people generally; and you masterfully avoided Steve like the plague for fear of being invited to dinner again. The measuring stick had been firmly planted; and eons later when you invited your Mom and Grams to Sunday dinner in your own home, you proudly began the well-practiced routine of cutting and salting, ladle at the ready. Grams pipes up ” why are you spiking all our blood pressure with that dang salt – and whaddaya rich or something lopping off the ends of yur roast like that, geez, must be nice!” With patronizing glances between you and Mom, you reply in a diplomatic: “remember Grams, that’s the way a good roast is made – just the same as you did it for Mom when she was little, and how she did it for us when we were little!”Burn the Beer
“Ya – til you dang kids moved out and I got a new pan and a new oven! That dang pan was never big enough for those dang roasts, and the dog needed feeding anyhow. And salt was the only way I’d have any chance of gravy drippins the way that dang oven kept overheatin! All’s you need to do to cook a roast is throw the dang thing in the oven and pour me a glass of wine!!”

Wowzer wow wow! Fancy that. One ill-conceived idea of right and wrong set your guide for comparison completely arbitrarily. Hmmm. Wonder what the spinoff of lost opportunities or re-directs might be in any one simple conclusion we draw. At the very least here, you might have scored a few more freebie dinners with the neighbours whatchamacallems  – oh ya, the Jobs.

Our versions of good- bad, right- wrong, strong- weak, successful- loser are very much sculpted by where we grew up, who we grew up with, what we were taught – and of course in which era we grew up in. Sprinkle all of this with a little bit of our own personal biology, disposition, and interpretations of what we experience and you have a pretty fickle foundation in which to anchor any measuring stick. And now I’m really gonna mess with you: some of these rules, attitudes, behaviours, conclusions whatever we call them are completely unconscious: we file our interpretation in a nice little internal hiding spot with the autopilot switch on.  We have no idea that some of our behaviours are actually choices, they are so embedded – just so… the way it is.  Not even a notion to ask Grams about.

Now as a part of normal growth and maturity, of course, we diligently take stock of our lives at sensible intervals, checking in with the standard questions:

  • what are my goals and dreams now, what do I want to do to advance them;
  • who is in my life to support me, where am I giving;
  • is this society I’m in one that I believe in and that is best for my goals;
  • what are my philosophical and spiritual beliefs now, do I need to see more of the world to find a better fit for me…

Whaa-huh? Come on – you do this, don’t you, every few months, years at least?? I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t on any of the tests I took in school; and in my family, my circle of friends, you just jumped on the one-size-fits most conveyer belt and you were off . Re-evaluate life? Nope, definitely not on the assigned reading list.

Context is the basis for everything and context is fluid. Some people were nurtured with this ideal, some have it inherently. For all though, at any point in time we can adjust, change, toss or add any rule or measuring stick you want. That may mean seeking new people, jobs, environments, societies etc. that work with your new definitions – and there is a reality factor attached to what you can anticipate with your choice, but it is that, a choice.

More permeations of our core beliefs, inner critic, thoughts and choices to come….. MUCH more really!  Here’s a perspective from Janet Robinson-Gillmore’s blog expanding on “context” from family behaviour:

And p.s. in my dictionary there is “perfect” – no need to politically-correcticize it with synonyms intimating that nothing is perfect and imperfect is perfectly perfect. My dictionary might be updated hourly, but it’s MY dictionary. Go get your own.

Read More: The Undoing of Being (page 2)

Could You Be a Scarcity Model?

 scarcity2

“The real reason that you find it necessary to compare yourself to others, is that you’ve fallen under the spell that says: good things are always scarce.”

I came across this statement when I was exploring the psychology of why we feel the need to compare ourselves and our situations in order to assess self-value. It’s referred to, in a behavioural sense, as “the scarcity model”, and at its centre is the perception that unless you “have” – and stockpiled, somehow you won’t survive.

Hmmm… It’s an interesting concept, born presumably from our oldest reptilian brain remnant, the amygdala, originally facilitating our escape from dinosaurs or tigers.  The functioning of the amygdala has most recently been accused of being somewhat “dysfunctional” in it’s fight-or-flight talents, not having adjusted yet to what this means in civilization today, and triggering limitless hormones and neurotransmitters at every stressor – real or imagined. It might make sense then, this connection to being less than, and therefore, requiring more.

Never run out.

Ahhh, all is well!

I can definitely think of examples where I have felt the need to “stock up” – never knowing when the bottom might fall out: be it t.p. when my money is low, or seeking some validation when my spirit is low. I suppose I’ve compared things a little: I’m sure my friend so-and-so would never be so irresponsible as to run out of t.p. (i.e. funds to buy it); my friend what’s-his-face must be totally secure owning his own business, nice house, dining out whenever, wherever – but thankfully, those thoughts are few and far between! I’m so much happier and at peace since I’ve established a definition of success that works for me: and I am successful!  I no longer have a need to compare my life to others, and don’t give these comparisons a second more credibility than acknowledging that they are imagined and meritless thoughts: I have a nice little chuckle at their persistency to sneak back into my consciousness, and then boot their butts back into oblivion where they belong! I know now that everyone has their own challenges relative to their own definitions of success; some completely aware of this and doing their own butt-kicking of those momentary doubts; but all too many, completely oblivious to what brings them fulfillment, and stuck in deep-seeded comparison games to validate that they are really happy!

One of my fave speakers and behavioural psychologists, Brene Brown, has written about “scarcity” in two of her books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, a relevant quote from the latter being:

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

In an interview about The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown elaborates:

These are anxious and fearful times, and everywhere we hear the lexicon of scarcity. We are not rich, thin or beautiful enough; we are not safe, perfect or powerful enough, and ordinary lives are completely dismissed. But success and high achievement will not gratify us when our self-worth is tied to the mindset of scarcity. We think the opposite of scarcity is abundance — more time, more money — when really the opposite of scarcity is “enough.” Just enough.

Another duo, behavioural economist Sendhil Mullainathan and the cognitive psychologist Eldar Shafir have written a whole book on the feeling of scarcity, brilliantly comparing it to the realities of scarcity in purely political or economic terms – a very interesting read!

Scarcity mindset.

So what are we really talking about – what is the “scarcity model”?  To tippy-toe into the concept, here are excerpts from a few recent articles I’ve come across, and then a link to a more detailed article on the Mullainathan/Shafir book.

splat

It’s Time To Give Up The Scarcity Model

The scarcity model says that if the person that you’re comparing yourself to is (arguably) more attractive than you, then that person has grabbed up too much of that thing called attractive and now there’s less for you. Same thing goes for

Next: Comparison Battle – More on the Scarcity Model (page 2)

Amazing vs. Insanity. Your Choice.

Here’s a challenge for you:
Go outside and find the best possible stick.

Why aren’t you going? Perhaps because the request is ridiculous. What do I mean by “the best possible stick”? For doing what? Digging? Toasting marshmallows? Poking a weasel? A stick that’s ideal for one purpose might be useless for another. And that is why the “comparing mind” is:

insane green2

If your energy and time is spent just being a little bit better than the next person, you miss out on getting to be better for you.  Being better than someone else keeps the bar low and keeps you from exploring the depths of what you can be:

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW HOW AMAZING YOU CAN BE!

Last week we talked about fruit salad and not comparing the sweet vs. the tart, the colourful vs. the bland: just enjoy how every different juicy morsel brings a new surprise in every single bite, and contributes something special to the overall tasty satisfaction. Life can be sweet or tart; you may be colourful or bland: together, your inherent nature and the nurture of your thoughts will drive your future – with a few choice choices from you.

Martha Beck has a few choice words for you; and I like what blogger Tera Warner has to say:

Who cares what they say about the things you should do or say and how you should live your life?!  Be inspired by the lives of others, but do not follow their path and pretend it’s your own. The most valuable be you SUPERDOGthing you have is not your health, it’s not your time, it’s not your purse, your car, your fancy pants designer jeans or even your friends.

It is your self-determinism – your ability to choose the path you take in life, make your own decisions and stand for the things that you believe in. In a world where we’ve been fed a deep-fried, glitter-coated version of what Life should be, how it should work, and told to whom we should defer our power, creativity and authentic expression, it takes some serious [insert male/female sex organs here] to think for yourself! Question what you hear and stand in your truth, no matter how lonely it feels to do so sometimes!

Are You an Apple, Orange or… Bananas?

If you can’t stop comparing yourself to others, you’ve got a case of what Asian philosophers call “monkey mind”, and, honey, it will only drive you bananas.
adapted from article by Martha Beck

Our ability to rank-order things is invaluable in making choices and setting priorities. But problems arise when comparing mind is the only mode of perception we access. Every gathering, conversation, or friendship becomes a stressful contest: Will I “win” in this situation, or will someone else turn out to be prettier, smarter, richer, thinner…in a word, better?

This way of thinking is absurd, because outside the realm of human perception, the concept of better is MEANINGLESS!  This makes comparing mind a setup for failure. Even if you can be the world’s best at one thing, you’ll be the world’s worst at something else, case in point:

Supermodels make pathetic sumo wrestlers.

A brilliant orator who speaks only one language
sounds like a babbling fool in another.

If you spent your life mastering all languages, you might still suck at engineering, croquet, watercolor, etc. Since comparing mind hates being less than best at anything, you lose. Always.

Comparing is insane.It seems that no matter where you are on the planet, the competitive madness was bred into your cells and reinforced in countless social interactions. But you can learn to watch for comparing mind or “monkey mind” to appear, and to notice when it starts tainting your life. Like a virus, it generally sneaks up on you unseen; what you’ll observe are its symptoms. Here are some telltale diagnostics:

Next: Is Your Mind Going Ape? (page 2)

Who’s The Boss? Mind, Body or…

Lissa Rankin, M.D. has quickly become one of my favorite people to listen to in the area of integrative medicine, particularly as it relates to the state of our minds and thinking. She has a relatable attitude and light-hearted delivery of “new medicine” info that appeases both the impassioned and “evidence-based”  sides of my learning.

A physician, author, speaker, artist, and founder of the online health and wellness community, OwningPink.com, Lissa was discouraged by our broken health-care system; and fueled by a passion to determine what really makes people healthy and what really predisposes them to illness, her research led her to discover that patients have self-healing powers beyond our wildest imaginings, and science proves it. She took this new perspective and dug into the medical literature to study how doctors might better care for patients.  She is a leader encouraging the health-care industry to embrace and facilitate, rather than resist, collaboration reconnecting health care and spirituality, and empowering patients to tap into the mind’s power to heal the body.

For you skeptics and newbies to the idea of integrative medicine, Lissa  shares her scientific findings in her book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself.

Mind…Body…
Friends or Foe?

mind

by Lissa Rankin, MD

What if… I told you that caring for your body is the least important part of your health . . . that for you to be truly vital, other factors are more important?

What if… the key to health isn’t just eating a nutritious diet, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy weight, getting eight hours of sleep, taking your vitamins, balancing your hormones, or seeing your doctor for regular checkups?

Certainly, these are all important, even critical, factors to optimizing your health. But what if something else is even more important?

What if you have the power to heal your body
just by changing how your mind thinks and feels?

I know it sounds radical, especially coming from a doctor. Trust me, I was just as skeptical when I first discovered the scientific research suggesting that this might be true. Surely, I thought, the health of the human body isn’t as simple as thinking ourselves well or worrying ourselves sick.

Or is it?

A few years ago, after 12 years of conventional medical education and 8 years of clinical practice, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated into the dogmatic principles of evidence-based medicine, which I worshipped like the Bible. I refused to trust anything I couldn’t prove with a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Plus, having been raised by my father, a very conventional physician who made fun of anything “New Age,” I was as hard-nosed, closed-minded, and cynical as they come.

doc old

The medicine I had been trained to practice didn’t support the idea that you can think yourself well or make yourself sick with the power of your thoughts and emotions. Sure, my medical-school professors diagnosed some illnesses that lacked biochemical explanations as “all in the patient’s head,” but those patients were promptly and quietly referred to psychiatrists, while eyes were rolled and heads were shook.

It’s no wonder the notion that the mind might have the power to heal the body would be threatening to many mainstream doctors. After all, we spend a decade learning the tools that supposedly give us mastery over other people’s bodies. We want to believe that the time, money, and energy we’ve put into becoming doctors isn’t wasted. We’re professionally and emotionally invested in the idea that if something breaks down physically, you must seek our expertise. As doctors, we like to believe we know your body better than you do. The whole medical establishment is based on such a notion.

Most people are happy to function within this paradigm. The alternative—that you have more power to heal your own body than you’ve ever imagined—lobs the responsibility for health back into your court, and many people feel like that’s just too much responsibility. It’s much easier to hand over your power and hope someone smarter, wiser, and more experienced can “fix” you.

So true!

But what if…
we’ve got it all wrong?

What if…
by denying the fact that the body is naturally wired to heal itself and the mind operates this self-healing system, we’re actually sabotaging ourselves?

As physicians, things inevitably happen on our watch that science simply can’t explain. Even the most closed-minded doctors witness patients who get well when, by every scientific rationale, they shouldn’t. When we witness such things, we can’t help questioning everything we hold dear in modern medicine. We start to wonder if there is something more mystical at play.

Doctors don’t usually discuss this possibility in front of patients, but they do whisper about it in the doctors’ lounges of hospitals and inside conference rooms at Ivy League universities. If you’re curious and you pay attention—like I do—you hear stories, stories that blow your mind.

You hear people whispering about the woman whose cancer shrank away to nothingness during radiation. Only afterward did the doctors discover that the radiation machine was busted. She hadn’t actually received one lick of radiation, but she believed she had. So did her doctors.

miracle energy

They talk about the man who had a heart attack who refused heart surgery only to have his “incurably” blocked coronary arteries open up after changing his diet, beginning an exercise program, doing yoga, meditating daily, and attending group therapy sessions.

As I heard these stories, I couldn’t ignore the gnawing voice within me. Surely, these people couldn’t all be liars. But if they weren’t lying, the only explanation was something beyond what I had learned in conventional medicine.

It got me thinking. We know spontaneous, unexplainable remissions sometimes happen. Every doctor has witnessed them. We just shrug our shoulders and go on about our business, usually accompanied by a dull, unnerving sense of dissatisfaction because we can’t explain the remission with logic.

healing mind

But in the back of my mind, I’ve always pondered whether it’s possible we have any control over this process.

If the “impossible” happens to one person, is there anything we can learn from what that person did?

Are there similarities among the patients who get “lucky”?

Are there ways to optimize the chances of spontaneous remission, especially when effective treatment doesn’t exist in the standard medical toolbox?

And what, if anything, can doctors do to facilitate this process?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Recent books by Lissa Rankin, M.D., OwningPink.com.

 Heal yourself.  LissaRankinBooks

Why Worry Is a Choice

-By Deepak Chopra

conflict10

The demands you put on yourself can create more pressure than you know how to handle. Deepak Chopra has a series of articles and strategies to help you break the cycle of anxiety by changing the way you respond to stress, this included:

Anxiety is like a shortcut. When faced with uncertainty, the normal response is to stop, consider what might happen, and make a decision based on the best prediction you can make.

But the anxious person doesn’t go through this process; they jump right towards feeling afraid.

No one enjoys uncertainty. There is always a tinge of anxiousness when you don’t know what the future holds. But going straight into fear is the worst way to handle the situation because fear is almost never a good advisor. It blocks clear decision-making, and exaggerates the risks and dangers that might lie ahead.

If you are an anxious person, you need to stop making the leap into fear. But how do you do that? It requires a new way of approaching uncertainty.

Life is always uncertain, and until you can embrace this fact, you will imagine risks, dangers, and threats that never materialize.

Yet, suffering in your imagination is just as painful—perhaps more painful—since dealing with a crisis is always easier than waiting for one in a state of dread.

The Anxious Self

There are many sides to me.

Many spiritual traditions speak of separation as the real cause of human misery. Depending on your school of belief, separation can mean being apart from God, your soul, or the higher self/consciousness. But the terminology isn’t important; even the word “spiritual” isn’t crucial. What is crucial is that people are divided inside. One part of the self opposes another part. With guilt, the good fights against the bad. With anxiety, the strong part of the self is at war with the weak part.

When a situation arises that can be handled well, the strong part feels confident, competent, in charge and in control. When uncertainty crops up, the weak part feels afraid, helpless, and hopeless. Anxious people never settle this inner conflict. They are so divided that when they feel afraid, the weak part is “the real me.” When they are not afraid, the strong part is “the real me.” In fact, neither is the real self. The real self is beyond conflict; it is whole and at peace. So the long-term approach to anxiety is to rise above the inner war to find a self that is more whole.

What self-judgment really sounds like

When the self is divided and in conflict, there is always a hidden aspect of judgment against the self. Anxious people judge against themselves so much that they usually seek a stronger person to handle the uncertainties and difficulties that seem so overwhelming. It can certainly mask the problem for a while to marry a strong spouse or rely on a powerful parent. But finding a substitute isn’t the same as finding yourself. Anxious people are blocked from finding themselves because they quickly run into self-judgment, and this makes them even more insecure. Self-judgment is the voice inside that says:

STOP. You are good enough.

“You can’t handle it. Remember the last time you fell apart?
This time will be the same.”

“You’re too weak. Inside you’re still a helpless child. Other people stand on their own, but not you.”

“You aren’t smart enough. Other people can find the right solution, but not you. You just stand there looking blank.”

“You aren’t good enough. All these fearful things are a punishment. You deserve what you get.”

As you can see, to live with a divided self is misery and anxious people dread themselves more than their imaginary dangers. The main thing they dread is anxiety, of course, but anxiety is more than a bad sensation. It is rooted in the weak self that quickly jumps to conclusions. The first part of healing is to realize what is going on. The second part is to identify with the real you; then the war inside will be irrelevant.

Your real self is always present, but it’s masked by the trappings of everyday existence. Whether you recognize it or not, everyone lives in a state of separation, which means the divided self is the one you identify with. People with anxiety have a tougher time than others, but even the healthiest and most secure person is divided. If you weren’t, you would be in contact with God, the soul, or the higher self twenty-four hours a day. I mention this only to emphasize that moving out of the divided state doesn’t happen overnight. Any anxious person needs to learn how to deal with fear and panic on a day-to-day basis while at the same time never losing sight of the long-range goal: finding the real self.

How to Move Towards Healing

Escapism is healthy - sometimes

You can’t find something if you are looking in the wrong place. This holds especially true for the real self, because we all look for solutions from our divided self, and then we trust its answers. For anxious people, fear is actually a kind of solution. It provides a shortcut. It keeps the person vigilant. It gives the feeling of being concerned, engaged, and busy. And since fear is unwelcome, it drives people into all kinds of escapist activities. Every distraction from alcohol and drugs to television and movies is constantly available. It’s no surprise that millions of people would rather accommodate their lives to being afraid rather than seeking authentic healing.

Yet real healing does exist. Because anxious people are insecure, they need to pursue a path to healing that reinforces itself.

Outside help is valuable, of course, but anxious people tend to use stronger people as crutches; that’s where impartial mentors and counsellors can be extremely useful.

The trick here, though,  is to accept that self-healing is the only way. Once you can accept this truth, which is quite painful to anyone in a state of insecurity and fear, the next part is to keep reinforcing the process. Every day needs to be seen objectively as a step in the right direction.

The daily checklist to end anxiety

One method is to keep a simple daily log to track the positive things you did to abate your anxiety. For the sake of being realistic, it’s also good to record the negative things, but avoid the urge to become discouraging or self-pitying. Rather than keeping a full-fledged journal, which most people can’t find the time to sustain after a few weeks or months, make your log a simple check list, ticking off what went right and what went wrong. You can insert comments if you like at the bottom of the page.

Affirmations WORK!

POSITIVES

I stood up for myself, I spoke my mind.

I felt strong.

I had a moment of being real with someone.

I dealt with a panicky moment.

I started to feel anxious but it didn’t progress.

I felt optimistic about myself.

I had hope for the future.

I felt some peace and calm.

I survived a difficult situation.

I appreciated myself; I congratulated myself.

I felt worthy; my esteem was high.

I didn’t fall into my usual reaction.

I had a bright idea.

The world seemed like a safe place to be.

I felt accepted.

I didn’t cling to anyone or use them as a crutch.

I faced a difficult choice.

There is hope.

NEGATIVES

I didn’t stand up for myself; I wanted to speak my mind but didn’t.

I felt weakness.

I didn’t get real with anyone.

I suffered through one or more panic attacks.

I had a lot of low-level anxiety that didn’t go away.

I felt pessimistic about myself.

The future looked hopeless.

I felt no peace and calm.

I caved in to a difficult situation.

I criticized myself and fell into self-judgment.

I felt unworthy; my esteem was low.

I related to people who made me feel bad about myself.

I gave in to someone else’s negative views.

I didn’t feel safe.

I felt rejected.

I was clingy.

I procrastinated and put off a difficult choice.

I wanted someone to rescue me.

I kept wishing that things would get better on their own.

The key to breaking the cycle of anxiety

If you decide to include the negative roster, be sure to note if the items you have checked Take time for yourself.off are improving. Negatives can be useful if they show you what you are moving away from, but they’re not useful if you use them to fuel your self-judgment, since self-judgment is the root of the problem.

It’s key to have more positive events than negative ones. Happiness is built up by having good days, not by reaching for an unattainable ideal in the future. The same is true for being non-anxious. You must find it today, as best you can. By paying attention to your anxiety one day at a time, the hidden healing processes in your mind and your body can begin to work, because you are giving them a real opening here and now.

In the end, however, the best healer is the real self.

It is found by walking your own path: call it the path to self-awareness, God, or higher consciousness – whatever appellation works for you.

The methods for discovery have been outlined in all the world’s wisdom traditions. First and foremost, you need to make a real connection with the level of peace, silence, and security that lies beneath the turbulence of daily stress and strain. The most reliable method is meditation. If that seems unworkable, then sit for fifteen minutes twice a day in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe. Place your attention on your heart and simply be. If you notice that your thoughts have distracted you, breathe again and once more place your attention on your heart.

This technique will accustom you to being with yourself. Anxious people misjudge being alone. They identify it with fear, loneliness, and insecurity. That’s perfectly understandable given their history of fear. But being alone is your ground state, the basis of your existence. It’s not your enemy. It’s not a danger zone. So take some time to undo the mistaken judgment that alone and lonely are the same. They aren’t. The doorway to a lifetime of safety, security, and self-worth lies at the level of the real self, and you were born to open it.

adapted from:
Oprah.com   |   December 31, 2010

Highly Sensitive People: Not Your Grandmother’s Introvert!

sensitive & A-OK!

Samsara HSP Blog

In her national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people.

According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

Additionally, she says, the success of The Highly Sensitive Person is cause for celebration: “We’ve done it ourselves. And not surprisingly, since we are 15 to 20 percent of the population – that’s fifty million in the United States. Highly sensitive people are real, we exist, and we’ve proven it. That alone is something to celebrate.”

Another cause for Aron and her fellow HSPs to celebrate is the acceptance into mainstream psychology of the HSP personality trait. After numerous in-depth interviews, as well as surveys of over one thousand people, Dr. Aron’s findings have been published in Counseling Today, Counseling and Human Development, and the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Elaine Aron has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and a thriving psychotherapy practice. She is the first therapist to tell HSPs how to identify their trait and make the most of it in everyday situations.

Highly Sensitive People have an
uncommonly sensitive nervous system…

– a normal occurrence, according to Aron. “About 15 to 20 percent of the population have this trait. It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.” An HSP herself, Aron reassures other Highly Sensitives that they are quite normal. Their trait is not a flaw or a syndrome, nor is it a reason to brag. It is an asset they can learn to use and protect.

In defining the Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron provides examples of characteristic behaviors, and these are reflected in the questions she typically asks patients or interview subjects:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

Dr. Aron explains that in the past

HSPs have been called “shy,” “timid,” “inhibited,” or “introverted,” but these labels completely miss the nature of the trait.

Thirty percent of HSPs are actually extroverts. HSPs only appear inhibited because they are so aware of all the possibilities in a situation. They pause before acting, reflecting on their past experiences. If these were mostly bad experiences, then yes, they will be truly shy. But in a culture that prefers confident, “bold” extroverts, it is harmful as well as mistaken to stigmatize all HSPs as shy when many are not. In the Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron reframes these stereotyping words and their common application to the HSP in a more positive light and helps HSPs use and view these aspects of their personality as strengths rather than weaknesses.

Sensitivity is anything but a flaw.

Many HSPs are often unusually creative and productive workers, attentive and thoughtful partners, and intellectually gifted individuals. According to Dr. Aron, HSPs could contribute much more to society if they received the right kind of attention – and her national bestseller proves that this 15 to 20 percent of the population is eager to get off on the right foot in asserting their unique personality trait.

Read more:  There are many websites from both the medical and personal perspectives on HSP (including http://livingsamsara.com/)  and of course Dr. Aron’s book is a classic.

Read Me

THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D
http://www.hsperson.com/

BONUS VIDEO! from Marie Forleo, renowned life & business coach… well in her own words:
“I often say if Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Oprah and Jay-Z had a love child, it would be me.  That’s because I’m part business strategist, part marketing maven and part spiritual ass-kicker with a side of hip-hop swagger.”
Marie is highly entertaining – and SMART!

Read/see more from Marie on YouTube, or:  http://www.marieforleo.com/archives/

Counselling: Who Gets It? For What? Who Doesn’t? Why Not?

Here’s one perspective:

Trends and barriers to getting folks
the counselling they need.

adapted from Psychology Today, April 2013
Susan  Heitler, Ph.D. with Linda McKinzie

Reach Out. Just Do It.For what do folks seek help?

The pie chart above shows what kinds of emotional problems led over 1500 folks last year (2012) to seek help from Denver’s Maria Droste Counseling Center’s 30 or more counsellors.

Maria Droste’s analysis indicated that anxiety and depression together accounted for the primary troubles of almost 40% of people who sought help.  What triggered their anxious, stressed and depressed feelings?  The something going wrong in their lives, MDCC’s staff believes, has often included long-term or chronic unemployment.

When people face a life problem, which usually is about the work or the love aspects of their lives, they typically first feel anxious.  Looking ahead they feel uncertain about what if anything they can do about the problem.

After a period of anxiety, which they may refer to as stress, people become at increasing risk for feeling angry, blaming others for their dilemma, for depression with hopelessness about finding solutions, or for self-injurious habits like drinking and smoking, and for relationship problems.

Note that the two biggest reasons people seek help are depression and relationship troubles.  That should be a heads up that internalizing our thoughts and feelings is a societally widespread problem, desperately requiring more life-skills training earlier in life, and a perspective shift regarding the freedom to be ourselves and speak our truths without fear of judgement.

It’s probably a bad sign that there’s twice as many folks seeking help for depression as for anxiety.   Depression suggests that folks are giving up on finding a fix.  This disproportion could indicate that people wait out their difficulties while they are anxious rather than seeking help in response to this initial distressed feeling.

“Depression is the leading source of disability in Canada at a rate slightly higher than the world average.”
~ Bill Wilkerson, Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health

For many folks, it’s only when they have fallen into a dark hole of hopelessness that they finally feel so bad that they reach out  for professional mental health services.  Better late than never, and yet that’s sad because often it’s easier for folks to find solutions to their problems when they are still feeling anxious than after they’ve given up.

Intake workers at Maria Droste noted another unexpected factor when they looked at these statistics for the past year’s intake records.  They noticed an increase in calls about relationship issues.

Claudia Gray, Maria Droste Intake Manager, said, “This year in particular, we had a lot of people requesting couples and family therapy for a variety of reasons.”

“Mental health disorders represent the greatest business and public health challenge of the 21st century. We must understand that. And in a hurry.”
~ Bob Lord, Chairman of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

One of those reasons Gray speculates, has been the country’s economic downturn. “If couples are already struggling with insufficient communication skills for talking over their difficulties cooperatively and productively, and then you add the stress and struggle of economic and financial worries, weaknesses in communication become more pronounced.  Couples seek out counseling to help them find better ways to communicate with each other.”

Sue Kamler, Director of Maria Droste’s intake services, added that the calls coming in last year also seemed to be more complex. “For example, when someone called in saying they were experiencing depression and anxiety, during the assessment process we often discovered a history of childhood abuse or domestic violence. The depression and anxiety needed treatment, and at the same time it was important also to address their earlier issues of loss or abuse.”

Employees experiencing high work/life conflict have absenteeism rates three times those of employees with low work/life conflict.
~ Duxbury, Higgings: “Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium: Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?”, 2001

A recent study by compensation consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide found the estimated direct cost of absenteeism to business is 7.1 per cent of the payroll, up from 5.6 per cent in 1997. Again, stress-related disorders accounted for the lion’s share. In 2000, the only year studied, there was an additional 10 per cent indirect cost for overtime, replacement personnel and loss of productivity.
~ The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2002

 Why don’t more folks reach out
for the help they need?

“Mental health is talked about more now than ever before.  With the high profile media coverage and analysis of incidents such as the Sandy Hook shootings, public forums such as Dr. Phil and Oprah, and corporate involvement to bring mental health issues to a more commonly recognized part of life (such as Bell Let’s Talk Day), it is now the subject of discussions at national through to community through to dinner table levels.

Yet only a small proportion of the people who would benefit from counselling actually seek it out.  Why??

Ms. McKinzie offers the following explanations for why many people delay seeking support:

“One major reason that many people, especially men, do not seek support and therefore needlessly suffer for long periods of time from emotional pain, anxiety, excessive anger, old resentments and depression, is their perceived stigma associated with receiving mental health care. They regard getting help as embarrassing, something others do but not themselves.  Better to grin and bear it than to admit that they need help.

“Another concern is expense.  Only one of the costs of meeting with a counsellor is paying for the sessions, which health insurance or extended benefits may or may not help to cover.  In addition, missing time at work for weekly daytime therapy sessions can be costly in terms of not getting work done, docked pay, and supervisor disapproval.  Evening and weekend sessions may require payment for babysitters.

“Finally, there is a documented shortage of affordable mental health care in most communities. If everyone who genuinely needs mental health help were to seek it, there would be far too few resources to meet the challenge. And, there needs to be more options for talk therapy readily acknowledged to meet both a person’s comfort level and financial level, such as community programs, clergy, and mentors.

“Mental health is fundamental to physical health as well as to experiencing life’s most positive blessings such as happiness, gratitude and supportive loving relationships.”

This was one of the key messages in the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the topic of mental health and mental illness released way back in 1999. Now, 15 years later, we still have far to go in terms of getting mental/emotional/spiritual health support to all who need it.

What can give us hope?

Fortunately, there are more options being recognized for folks who are feeling that they just have to grin and bear it:  don’t know where to turn, think they can’t afford help, or fear the stigma of being labelled with an “inferior mind” or weak.  One of the most exciting new trends in our internet age has been the offering of SKYPE, phone and web-based mental health services in any form, from anywhere in the world.

The bottom line

Services are available far more broadly and less expensively than many might think.  If you are feeling down and out, mad or stressed, do consider giving mental health services a try!

When is talk-therapy useful?  Any time you:

Need someone on your side — someone who is knowledgeable

Are stuck and need help resolving a particular problem

Need coaching support to meet a specific goal, such as career, relationship or social

Have concerns about your relationship and want expert help to improve it, or to make decisions about the direction the relationship should take

Have a need for strict confidentiality in regard to your concern

Need a fresh look at your life and where it’s going

Are feeling depressed or stressed by specific events

Are sad, lonely, or anxious and don’t see a way out

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.
Co-author Linda McKinzie, is executive director of Denver’s  Maria Droste Counseling Center.

Co-Dependency 101

codependency_

by Pipa Gordon
The Raphael Project, 2010

Co-dependency essentially is another addiction that life can throw our way. It is a huge minefield and we are just going to scratch the surface here in order to open the door to conversation and thought. If it is something you you find yourself relating to, it might be a good idea to look deeper into it and/or seek some counselling.

A Co-dependent person is someone who is often more orientated to other people’s reality than their own. They have the ability to know and understand everyone elses’ needs but yet they can not tell you what they need for toffee. They are what is referred to as the finder and the fixer. From the outside, this person may come across as the modern day Mother Theresa, people may look at them and be inspired and wish they had it all together like she does but unfortunately, in this situation, when it is a co-dependent person acting out the role of everyone else’s fixer, they are hiding from their own pains and needs and getting their ego fix from being seen as the hero. Of course there is nothing wrong at all with being the good samaritan, but when this pattern of behaviour becomes someone’s identity and addiction, it is because of deeper issues at hand.

A Co-dependent relationship is perhaps best described as a non productive relationship that you are addicted to, feel bound to and can’t get out of your mind. These relationships can sneak up on us, are often the closest we have and are layered with guilt and “I should…” along the way. Unhealthy is an understatement as these relationships are emotionally imbalanced and leave you feeling drained; your thoughts and emotions go beyond those of normal healthy self-sacrifice and caring relationships and you feel beholden to keep up your side of the deal, often fearing that the other person might fall apart if you were to walk away – which even if it were the case, would be the making of you both. The healthy need of each other has gone beyond extremes and become an I need you to need me type of need which is suffocating and often causes the feeling of being trapped.

codependent4

Co-dependency doesn’t only occur between partners, but also often between parent and child. The longer it goes on for, the more the guilt and need runs deeply and almost feels like the life force of the relationship. Often you find that people in a co-dependent relationship are compeltely oblivious to it as they don’t know any different and often genuinely think they are caring for the other person. For example:

  1. a Mother is having a co-dependent relationship with her 32 year old son who still lives at home and is borrowing money, eating into her inheritance because she says he lost his job, again…..yet her allowing him to keep taking from her is feeding his not pulling himself together and acting responsibly and equally feeding her need to be needed.
  2. the Wife has a husband with a gambling problem so she’s working two jobs to make ends meet…she says he’s “trying to quit” but he’s not, because she’s making up the shortfall in their finances anyway.
  3. a Daughter phones her mother every day not because she wants to but because she feels she has to. She’s unable to make decisions without her Mother’s say so, is there at her Mother’s beck and call and carries guilt about being the perfect daughter even though she is married with her own family to look after. (nb, many daughters phone their mum regularly because they WANT to, this is perfectly healthy, we are talking about the feeling of “I need to” here).

So let’s break it down, what are the signs of a co-dependent relationship?

  • Secrets from the outside world
  • Guilt at not fixing their problemtoxic enter
  • Shame
  • Repressed Anger
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Compromising own values to avoid the other person’s rejection or anger
  • Power imbalance in a relationship

How do you know if you are a co-dependent person?

  • Do you get obsessed with fixing and rescuing needy people?
  • Are you easily absorbed in the pain and problems of other people? Do you find yourself feeling someone else’s pain beyond empathy?
  • Do you find yourself being controlling? Are you easily controlled within relationships?
  • Do you do more than your share….all of the time?
  • Are you always seeking approval and recognition? You need to be seen as important and integral?
  • Would you do anything to hold on to a relationship? Do you fear being abandoned?

Codependent support

Co-dependent women often burn out as they are entirely focused on the pain and suffering of someone else. There is a stark difference between a compassionate woman and a woman who is drawn to someone else’s pain as they feel that in being there to fix and help gives them a sense of worthiness.  There is also a difference between someone who works hard, and someone who is  a workaholic! Often you find co-dependent over achievers felt loved by  their parents because of what they DID, not who they were…and hence  they bring that learned behaviour into their adult lives and behave in  an almost martyr like fashion which not only is therefore wasted energy, but can also be damaging to their own spouse and children and the pattern becomes in danger of repeating itself.

Here’s a big one – you know he has a good side and you’re hoping that it will come back again….? Familiar? That’s a co-dependent relationship, you’re fixing him, you’re trying to change him, you’re hoping that one day things will get better and in the meantime are holding it all together. I know it’s a terribly painful realisation – it doesn’t mean the relationship is over, but it does mean that as long as you are protecting him and waiting for him to change, odds on, he won’t. You need to find your own independence, your own healthiness in this relationship and hope to goodness that he bounces back and does the same.

Neediness is an absolute red flag of co-dependency as one person’s happiness depends on having the other person right there, right now to the extent that their behaviour can become possessive, jealous and obsessive….calling them pointlessly throughout the day just to check up on what they are doing…. asking questions which have the underlying motivation  “Do you still love me? Am I still important?”…. these are all clear tell tales of a co-dependent relationship.

Repressed anger is also a deep one linked with shame. Often someone hasn’t been allowed to show their emotions as a child and so has never developed the ability to be rational with their reactions and feelings, their shame and low self esteem causes them to repress their anger as they don’t know what might happen to them if they were to express it.

neglected

What causes co-dependency? This can come from all angles of life! Often from childhood where the child has been loved for their actions rather than who they are, this in turn has built in a pattern, an integral belief that says “if I do good, I am loved” thus the over achieving fixer, mender, superhero over achiever is born. It can also be that as a child, the youngster wasn’t allowed to develop naturally into an independently thinking teen and young adult, perhaps because they were parented by an alcoholic, an abuser, someone with control issues or other family problems. This meant that their own mind was not allowed to function as they were controlled by their parents/care-givers telling them what to do, what to think, how to be, where to be, what is right, what is wrong etc, therefore, they have never learned how to be independent, but have literally been trained in co-dependency behaviour from the beginning.

As well as resulting from relationship issues; we also see that co-dependency can arise from mental illness such as depression, all types of abuse, chronic illness within the family, divorce, even moving home – any trauma without the correct support system around can also trigger and set the stage for codependency, this is because the natural reliance on oneself can become stuck which can then trigger an incomplete sense of self, a sense of inadequacy and an inability to stand on one’s own feet.  The person then feels vulnerable and begins to give with the motivation to receive stability and strength which somewhere along the line they lost.

How do we overcome co-dependency? We learn how to step across into inter-dependency. This is a healthy form of leaning on each other as an independent person, not a dependent one. There is a monumental difference between someone who is a free unconditional giving person versus one who gives because they need to feel needed.  The Mother Daughter relationship can often be co-dependent as it is naturally a very close bond but this is can be abused by emotional issues which can then create unhealthy links and bonds. A daughter can feel immensely guilty at wanting to break free from her Mother who has become all encompassing and involved in every decision in her daughter’s life. The Mother’s need has become larger than her ability to freely give and the daughter knows no different and so feels trapped.

change10

The first step with any addiction is of course to acknowledge it and then reach out for help. There are loads of books available but if you can, I would also opt for a course of counselling as as each case is intricate and different to the one before, it would be helpful to get a professional’s eye on the situation as this is a tough  nut to crack alone. What is very important is setting healthy boundaries and having a good support system because we are talking about changing the fundamental way that someone has done life so far.

There will be a small element of co-dependency in all of us, but you know heart of hearts if it is a problem. We touched on this lightly but do remember that co-dependency can arrive in your life at any given stage or equally can be the fruit of other things such as child abuse and bullying in those formative years. It’s always good to trace back as far as possible to find the root. We all know when weeding, that if you get the root, you’re laughing!

Pipa Gordon and the Raphael Project is a blog/site on wordpress, paraphrased as follows:

There are way too may people who walk this planet alone, who face trials of one degree or another singlehandedly. This is why I wanted to create a space where we can address all kinds of issues, some light some heavy, but those issues that we don’t always know how to deal with or where to go with. The ones that we’re not quite sure who to turn to about.
What this site is about is lifting the lid on life and discussing the lot! What makes it, how to survive it, how to look good whilst doing it but even better, how to do it fruitfully, happily and with one another. (Notice no use of the word successfully!).

For more info:  http://theraphaelproject.com/about

Tag Cloud