Monthly Archives: May 2014

Blog #18: Love & Anxiety-Individualism vs. Community

We live in a culture that currently is fairly obsessed with Self and individualism. The old days when the group or community mattered more than the individual seem to be long gone. Other countries still focus on the importance of the family or community, but here in the good ole US of A, we like ourselves. We like to be sure that no one gets in the way of our personal happiness. Here are some typical slogans that you may have heard.

Look out for number 1!

You deserve a break today.

Nice guys (girls) finish last.

He (or She) who dies with the most toys wins.

If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

Be all that you can be.

While it is very important to love and care for ourselves, there is a cost when we cease focusing any of our energy toward the good of the society or culture in which we live. Linsey Lohan, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and most of the Kardashians, are some examples of what can happen when self-focus runs amok. Some people may be fascinated by the lives of these celebrities and find their escapades amusing, but most parents would not want them used as role models for their young children.

As a professor, a favorite quote I shared with my college students goes like this: “A person wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package.”  Not only have I seen this to be true, a person wrapped up in themselves often also experiences more anxiety. When a majority of the energy and focus in life is directed inward, toward self, ego, possessions, etc., bettering or collecting more of these things becomes the prime concern and top priority. Therefore, you are much more aware of what you have to lose.

Because of the brain’s bias to the negative, (see past blogs for more on this), fear of loss is of much greater interest and much more motivating, than hope of gain. So a consistent fear of the loss of all we have fought to gain, generates internally greater and greater levels of anxiety. To quote Daniel Coleman in Emotional Intelligence”; “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller.”

Love, on the other hand brings a sense of calmness and security. Being loved and loving is one of the best antidotes we can “ingest” into our hearts and souls against the toxins of anxiety and fearful selfishness. When we focus solely on ourselves, we forget that at the core we are mammals. We are more than an animals, but as mammals, we therefore need our pack to feel safe and secure. People who are focused on the good of their communities and those they love, tend to be happier, and feel more secure and peaceful. They often have more of a sense of intimate connection and purpose. They have a better balance to their focused energy, some going toward self and some going towards the community and loved ones. Studies have shown that people who love and give are much happier overall. There is something fulfilling and rewarding about making a positive difference in other’s lives.

I am not suggesting we stop taking care of ourselves but perhaps taking a look at our lives to see if we are in balance. Is some of my focus going toward bettering the self and some towards bettering others? As a child, attending a Mennonite church I was taught that service to others was all that mattered.  My needs were deemed irrelevant. I later learned the hard way that living without love and care for myself turned me into a burned-out angry mess. Perhaps in your families or religious organizations you have gotten a similar message. Well, as in anything, balance is the key. Love of self is connected directly to the love of other. Most cultures and religions subscribe to some form of the golden rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” So go out and love this week, love yourself and continue to love those around you.

 

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War orphans from Uganda, they know how to do community, they would not survive otherwise

Going deeper:

  1. As humans we often struggle with extremes, balance seems to come with hard work and experience. In this area are you in balance, or do you tend toward one extreme or the other? Selfishness, or are you a people pleaser with an utter lack of focus on self-love and care?
  2. Whichever side you typically inhabit, this week try to focus a bit more energy into the other side. Notice what impact this has upon your mind, body and soul. If you have been programmed to think that self-love and care is “selfish”, practicing it may be hard for you, but please try. You will feel better.
  3. Those of you who naturally have these two sides in balance, thank you! Please keep being a great example to the rest of us who need a bit of support and a role-model.

 

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join a Real Life Solutions 3-wk anxiety reduction workshop. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving!

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Love & Anxiety-Blog 17: Oh that good sensation!

I received lots of comments on the last two blogs, it seems to be new information for many people. So, here is a bit more on this subject to alleviate any confusion people may be experiencing around the concept of the body’s language, sensation.

Many people are so uncomfortable experiencing their sensations, that they try to ignore them. I suggest that many of our emotional problems are rooted in ignoring the body’s messages. A simple analogy may be helpful here. If your infant begins to cry and you pick him up immediately, you can remedy the problem and most infants will calm down quickly. However, if you ignore her for 30 minutes, by the time you pick her up, she is so upset you will have a hard time calming her back down. Our body operates the same way. If you pay attention immediately to your sensations, you can learn to address the “problem” and feel better right away.
Anytime you are learning a new language, you have to start by learning important words. Thankfully, no grammar is needed for the language of sensation, you only need to learn the important words. As you get more familiar with the words of a new language, it is easier to listen and comprehend when someone is speaking them to you. Below is a table with a list of many of the body’s sensations. It is not a comprehensive list, but, if you read all of them, you will get the basic gist. (The table did not copy over to WordPress, so all I can provide is a list)

Airy-Bloated-Blocked-Breathless-Brittle-Bubbly-Buzzy-Calm-Clammy-Cool-Cold-Congested-Contricted-Contracted-Damp-Dark-Deflated-Disconnected-Dry-Dizzy-Dense-Empty-Expanded-Energized-Expansive-Flaccid-Floating-Fluid-Flushed-Fluttery-Fragile-Frantic-Frozen-Full-Fuzzy-Heavy-Hot-Hollow-Inflated-Itchy-Jagged-Jittery-Jumpy-Knotted-light-Luminous-Moist-Numb-Nervious-Paralyzed-Pounding-Pressure-Prickly-Puffy-Pulsing-Queasy-Radiating-Raw-Restricted-Shaky-Smooth-Spacey-Spacious-Spinning-Still-Suffocating-Strong-Tight-Tense-Twitchy-Warm-Wobbly-Wooden

If you read the whole list, your vocabulary of Sensation will be greatly expanded. Now try paying attention to the inside of your body. Particularly from your throat down to your hips. Do you notice any of these sensations, now that you have a better grasp of this language?

As you can see there are sensations mostly experienced as positive – warm, smooth, energized, etc. And, there are many sensations that we experience as negative- jittery, cold, queasy, etc. With each sensation produced, your body is attempting to communicate to you how it experiences the choices you are making. Many of us ignore the sensations we perceive as negative, as long as we are able. Then, we wonder why we have a huge emotional explosion. Paying attention to the beginnings of the sensation, and altering your choices accordingly, will decrease, or even end these big explosions. It is so much easier to just live in our heads, but when you embody your mind and body, your ability to live in joy, freedom, and honesty is greatly expanded.

Try it this week and see how many of these sensations you can notice. Can you even expand this list? Let me know how it goes, and please, if you have any questions, let me know, I love to share this material, it has changed my life.

Going deeper
1.) If this information is new to you, what is your primary response? What is your mind’s response? How does the body respond to the thought of paying better attention to this lovely container of minds, hearts, spirits, and souls?

2.) If it is hard for you to listen to the sensations, try to notice your areas of resistance and be kind to them. This way of living is seeking to integrate different aspects of your personhood, not to cause a civil war.

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join one of my 3-week anxiety reduction workshops. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving.

Blog #16: Part Two-To Feel or Not to Feel….and how to Deal!

I am curious about what you have have noticed or experienced after reading the contents of last week’s blog? We talked about about Emotion, Sensation, and Living Embodied. I concluded by suggesting that living Embodied helps us better handle our emotional storms. If you did not read (part one) last week’s blog, it will help you understand this one better if you go back and read it first.

Living Embodied is our birthright as a Human Being and something little children do extremely well. If you want to learn more about it, with openness and curiosity, watch a child for long periods of time. You will learn more from watching a child live in her body than from my few words.  

When you do learn how to live Embodied -that is being aware of the sensations and messages from your body, listening to them and responding appropriately-  you begin to notice the emotions you are experiencing when they are small and more manageable. When you first begin listening to your sensations, you might not know how to respond appropriately right away, but if you keep listening, your body will teach you all you need to know. (Every human body has an amazing Organic Intelligence within. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why wounds always heal themselves, as long as the area is kept clean). When we allow our sensation and feelings into our awareness immediately, we can ‘metabolize’ them so much quicker and they do not build up in our bodies. Just like our digestive system metabolizes a big meal, by breaking it down in usable portions.

In order to ‘metabolize’ emotions and allow them to pass through us without causing great havoc, use the two E’s, or E2. We first need to Experience our emotion as it surfaces out of our physiology/body. We do this by awareness and attention, we notice and are honest about what we are feeling internally. To further metabolize this emotion, next, we then figure out how we want to Express that emotion. Do we want to write a letter, cry, yell at someone, or talk to a husband, friend, or therapist? When we utilize the two E’s, most emotions will pass right on through our mind and body fairly quickly, like a wave moves through the ocean and then returns to the body of the sea. This may be a challenge when you first begin to try, but like anything else, it gets easier with time and practice.

So this week spend some time re-learning, if you have forgotten, your body’s language of sensation. Notice how your throat/chest/belly reacts to uncomfortable experiences. Or, how that same region reacts when things go really well and you feel deeply loved and cared for by your loved ones. 

One big additional benefit of living Embodied, your emotional range will begin to expand. Instead of just the primary emotions of mad, sad, glad, and afraid, you will begin to experience/feel many nuanced and other subtle emotional experiences. Having a larger emotional range brings more exquisite experiences to your life. As when a painter with access to a greater range of colors, rather than painting with only the primary few, makes his painting much more vibrant and expressive.

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Babies are the best example of Embodied living-Africa trip 2011

Going Deeper;

1.) Do you remember how your parents dealt with their emotions when you were a child? This week try to notice, do you handle your emotions in similar ways, or did you take a different path? 

2.) What emotions were you allowed to express in your home growing up? Which one(s) were outlawed? Do you still live by those “old” somatic rules?

3.) Are you able to utilize the two E’s when it comes to emotion? If not, which one causes the most difficulty, Experiencing or Expressing?  This week just practice listening to mind and body and see what is different.

To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join one of my 3-week anxiety reduction workshops. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving.