Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How Friends Impact Your Health

How Friends Impact Your Health

How Friends Impact Your Health

 

There is a strong connection between friendship and health. Recall the happiest times of your life, and those memories likely include friends celebrating with you. Just as important, true friends support you through the bad times that happen in every life, from everyday disappointments to the heartbreak of loss. That’s what good friends do.

Friendship enriches our existence and makes life’s journey more enjoyable. Friends give us a sense of belonging and bolster our self-esteem. Yet, our closest friends will “tell it like it is” and encourage us to change bad habits or adopt good ones. Best friends assume the role of trusted confidante. Who better to listen to your rant in a non-judgmental way than your best friend? Having someone with whom you can talk about anything promotes healthy stress management.

Even self-described loners need interaction with people. Appropriate doses of companionship are especially helpful to prevent loneliness if you live by yourself. The never-married or single-again adult can too easily fall into the trap of staying home too much and eating solitary dinners off a tray in front of the TV. A tendency toward reclusivity may become more pronounced after retirement. Finding one still wearing pajamas mid-day is a red flag that it’s time to get out of a rut.

Many people carry friendships from high school or college into adulthood. New friendships are formed with compatible individuals met through work or after moves to new neighborhoods. Sometimes, life changes—increased workloads, rearing children, caring for aging parents—interfere with existing friendships, and we let them slip out of our lives. Career moves may require relocation and leaving friends behind.

Extroverts—naturally outgoing and sociable— find it easy to meet people and form new friendships. They are often described as, “She never meets a stranger,” or “He makes friends everywhere he goes.”

The naturally shy, socially anxious, or introverted person does not meet people or form new attachments easily. Social events are often avoided. Small talk is dreaded like torture. Without coaxing from others to join in or a personal effort to overcome inhibitions and fears, this individual may let friendship slide—perhaps forever.

It takes effort to make friends and nurture friendships. While social networking can provide connections and relieve loneliness to some extent, making 100 new “friends” online does not take the place of face time in offline relationships. Meeting new people and discovering common interests and values requires getting off the sofa and going out there….Go where you will find other people doing things you are likely to enjoy.

If you like to read, join a book discussion group. Think about those things you really enjoy—cooking, gardening, crafts, music, live theater—and search for groups that share your interests. Volunteer your time with a charitable organization where you’ll come together with others whose compassion for these issues matches your own. Take a continuing education class at your local community college—inexpensive, short-termed and a broad variety of topics. Learning something new enhances conversation.

Friendships—whether existing or new—must be nurtured to last and grow. In order to have (and keep) friends in your life, you must also be a good friend. Forge a positive attitude, practice tolerance, and don’t be judgmental. Friendship is a two-way street, and both parties in the relationship must be willing to give, not just take. Cultivate active listening skills. (Some of the best listeners are those who don’t like to talk, but make a great audience for the more talkative.)

Cultivating and cherishing friendships can affect anyone’s longevity. A ten-year Australian study of 1500 senior citizens by Flinders University’s Centre for Ageing Studies found that the participants who had a large support group of friends outlived those with the least friends by 22%. As one’s social connections decrease, the risk for mortality increases. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, states the mortality risk is nearly as great as that created by smoking.

So…fill the friendship “prescription” for good health. It’s a renewable prescription for life!

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

The High Cost of Ignoring Your Intuition

The High Cost of Ignoring Your Intuition

 

The High Cost of Ignoring Your Intuition

 

Cindy met Bill through her tennis club. He was charming, good-looking, and he swept her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship. Pushing for a quick marriage, he proposed after only two months. Though she felt a few flutters of anxiety, Cindy accepted, hoping for true love. Six months later, she deeply regretted the haste. Bill turned out to be both alcoholic and verbally abusive, with the threat of physical abuse lurking in the volatile atmosphere. Frightened, she moved out and filed for divorce. Later, she reflected on how she had gotten herself in such a painful place.

Something deep inside Cindy had sent up warning flares, telling her that she was moving too fast. But she’d plunged ahead, repressing her own better judgment, which was trying to get her to slow down. Why had she ignored the signals?

“I was afraid that if I told him I wanted to slow down, he might lose interest. He was so passionate, so full of life, and I felt so flattered that this great looking guy wanted me. All the women liked him. It wasn’t hard to imagine that he might drop me and move on to someone more willing.”

The high cost of ignoring your own signals? High-risk relationships and the likelihood of divorce. But most of all, the cost is to your own self-esteem, because the bottom line is that you let yourself down. You failed at your most basic job in life: taking care of you.

These days, Cindy is reluctant to accept even the most seemingly safe dates. She doesn’t trust herself, fearful of repeating the past and making another disastrous mistake. Self-forgiveness is the hardest when we know we didn’t protect ourselves.

The lesson is simple: never let your desire for a particular person override your common sense. When your gut is screaming at you, listen, honor what it is telling you, and proceed with caution. And this goes for any area of your life, not just relationships – trust your intuition, go with your gut.

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How to Recover From an Affair – When You’re the Cheater

How to Recover From an Affair – When You’re the Cheater

cheater

I addressed people whose spouses have cheated on them and tried to offer some guidelines for surviving the crisis. In this post I’d like to speak to those on the other side of the equation, namely, the cheaters. In particular I will be speaking to folks who have already been caught and who would like to save the marriage – if you are planning to leave the marriage anyway, that is a whole different kettle of fish, and if you haven’t been caught, you have a major moral decision to make. Perhaps we can tackle this in a future post.

What are the things you need to know in order to repair the damage of your extremely poor choice? Note that I will not be mincing words here – if you cheated on your spouse, you did something wrong. Certainly you can change and seek forgiveness – we all make mistakes –but it was a mistake nonetheless. So that is our first point:

1. Take responsibility

If you are serious about saving your marriage, you will have to accept that you acted in error. Unfaithful spouses who blame their partner – even a little bit – for the affair are not going to be successful at rebuilding the relationship. (In a relationship that is already characterized by emotional abuse, the cheated-on spouse might be accustomed to being mistreated by their partner and then manipulated into accepting responsibility for it. This does not mean that the cheater is going to succeed in saving the relationship without taking responsibility. What it actually means is there wasn’t really a true relationship to save in the first place.)

It doesn’t matter if your husband was distant. It doesn’t matter if your wife was not being sexual with you. Nobody forced you to have an affair; there are many ways to deal with problems in your marriage (couples counseling, anyone?), and you made the choice to pursue this one. Only once you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions can you hope to achieve forgiveness from your spouse and re-enter into a balanced relationship. If you are still saying or thinking, “Well,if s/he hadn’t…” – you are not ready to fix your marriage.

2. Take appropriate steps to provide security to your spouse

I am assuming that – having accepted full responsibility for the infidelity – you have already apologized profusely, and will continue to do so for a while. That is certainly necessary, but not sufficient. Actions speak louder than words; if you say you’re sorry but keep your affair partner “as a friend,” you are not respecting your spouse. Your spouse needs an extra dose of commitment, trustworthiness, and respect at this point. You do this by cutting off all communications with your affair partner – all communications– to show your spouse that you value him/her above anyone and anything else. If you are concerned about the feelings of the person who you will be cutting off, then you are unconcerned about the feelings of your spouse.

This might become pretty drastic. If the person in question is a co-worker, you may need to change jobs. If it was a neighbor, you may seriously have to consider moving – if your marriage is that important to you, that is.

There are other important steps to take, all of which might very well be hard for you. You need to be punctilious about letting your spouse know your whereabouts. There are many apps these days that allow you to be located by your spouse at all times via GPS. If your spouse finds this reassuring, you should give him/her that reassurance without hesitation. Likewise, your spouse should have full access to your phone, texts, e-mails, Facebook account, and anything else s/he asks for. If you are concerned about your own need for privacy, then you are unconcerned about your spouse’s need for security at this time.

3. Take time

Even once you have accepted responsibility, apologized, and properly addressed your spouse’s need for security and respect, it will take time. You can’t expect that your spouse will be ready to forgive and forget just as soon as you check off all the things on the list. You probably have caused significant emotional pain, and that will take time to heal. If at any time you find yourself wanting to say, “Can’t you just get over it already?” or, “I said I’m sorry!” you need to check in with yourself and think about whether you are really seeking forgiveness, or demanding it. You are not entitled to forgiveness; it is something you must earn. And your spouse is not obligated to offer it. If you are truly remorseful and invested in repairing your relationship, that means giving your partner the time and space to recover at his/her own pace. (However, if you find yourself in a situation where your spouse is throwing your mistake in your face on a daily basis, or holding the grudge for years, professional help may be necessary.)

This article is just a short accounting of what a person who was unfaithful must do to save their marriage; it is not an exhaustive guide. Certainly seeking out a qualified marriage counselor would be of benefit for anyone in this situation. An affair does not have to mean the end of a marriage – but without appropriate repentance on the part of the guilty party, it is likely that it will be.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Signs of an Evil Person

evilperson

Signs of an Evil Person

 

The Evil 8 and the Nefarious 15

 

 

Evil 8 (signs)

1.) Arrogant Entitlement

2.) Lack of Empathy

3.) No Remorse

4.) Irresponsible/Self-Destructive

5.) Thrive on Drama

6.) Brag about Outsmarting

7.) Short-Term Relationships

8.) Fantasy World/Delusional

 

Nefarious 15 (More Signs)

1.) Infiltrate your life

2.) Create Conspiratorial Conflict

3.) Depend on Approval

4.) Build a file

5.) Misdirect and Obfuscate (Obfuscation (or beclouding) is the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, willfully ambiguous, and harder to interpret.)

6.) Blame Others

7.) Lie

8.) Frauds/Cheaters

9.) Isolate Victims

10.) Abuse Authority

11.) Press Hot buttons

12.) Revisionist of History

13.) Two-faced/Gossip

14.) Paranoid

15.) Passive-Aggressive

 

This list explains the similarities between narcissists/ sociopaths/ psychopaths

I agree with this list and sadly, it explains the similarities between all those who have abused/harmed possibly you and others.

 

It is wisdom to not ignore potential issues in people.

It is wisdom to sit back and watch their behaviour over time, to discern who they are and what their motivations are.

 

Do Not Give People the Benefit of the Doubt!

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Reduce Anxiety Without Drugs

anxiety

 

Reduce Anxiety Without Drugs

 

 

“High Anxiety” may have been Mel Brooks’ idea of funny, but it’s no laughing matter for more than seven million North Americans who struggle with insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, eating problems (too much or not enough) and relationship conflicts that general anxiety disorder can trigger. But there have been some interesting treatment approaches making the news.

 

A free smartphone app called Personal Zen, designed by a clinical psychologist, offers an anxiety-reducing game that helps shift your attention away from a seemingly threatening situation or thought to a nonthreatening one.

 

But immediately we wondered: “What if my battery dies? Or there’s an incoming call while I’m using the app?” So if you’re trying this, we suggest you find a quiet spot and put your phone on airplane mode.

 

Then there’s the recent study that suggests you shouldn’t try to calm down. Instead, reframe your feelings by convincing yourself that you’re excited, a far more positive revved-up feeling, say the researchers.

 

We say that may work if you’re nervous about public speaking, but not if you’re fretting about paying your bills or losing your job; those thoughts are never exciting!

 

We like a third approach: According to Johns Hopkins researchers, mindful meditation can ease anxiety symptoms for some folks as well as medication can.

 

Daily, sit comfortably in a quiet room for 10 minutes. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly, in and out. If thoughts pop into your brain, expel them as you exhale. You’ll decrease your stressful feelings, reduce inflammation and release feel-good brain chemicals.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

7 Signs You Should Get Pre-Marital Counseling.

7-signs-you-need-pre-marital-counseling

7 Signs You Should Get Pre-Marital Counseling Before Tying the Knot

 

Premarital counseling is one of those things that’s strongly encouraged—or even required—if you’re getting married in a religious ceremony. But what happens if you’re not getting married in that kind of setting? Is this still something you should look into?

 

Some experts say it’s super-helpful. Brandy Engler, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in relationships, says counseling before you get hitched, preferably from a person who specializes in this stuff, like a couples therapist, can strengthen your bond for the long haul.

 

 

You see, Engler says, couples therapists know the skills it takes to create a happy, sustainable relationship beyond saying your vows. In your dating phase, your hot and heavy feelings for each other drive you to commit, but once you’re husband and wife you need to learn how you can continue to protect your bond.

 

Though most couples could benefit from premarital counseling, not everyone needs it, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a New York-based marriage therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.

 

Not sure where you stand? Experts say these are the top signs you should schedule a premarital counseling session:

 

  1. You’re fighting over how big or small of a wedding to have, and you can’t reconcile this difference.

 

  1. You’re arguing over all the elements of the wedding, and you’re not on the same page.

 

  1. You or your partner doubt whether you’re making the right decision.

 

  1. You’re reluctant to plan anything at all, for fear you’re making the wrong choice.

 

  1. Your family doesn’t like your fiancé, or vice versa. “This can make potential wedding plans difficult and upsetting,” Greer says.

 

  1. You’re not on the same page about how much closeness and space you need. Counseling can help you address how you’ll tell each other when you need a little breathing room, Engler says.

 

7.You don’t agree on how much sex you should have or know how much sex your partner wants to have.

 

RELATED: DO THESE 7 THINGS AND YOU’LL NEVER NEED COUPLES’ THERAPY

But Greer says you can probably give premarital counseling a pass if you meet the following criteria:

 

  1. You’re on the same page about wedding plans, sex, and alone time.

 

 

  1. You’re able to balance your differences and work out compromises.

 

  1. There’s family harmony.

 

  1. Both of you feel secure and confident in your choice to marry each other.

 

As for who should counsel you, Greer says it’s ultimately up to you and your preference. While you can go with a marriage or family therapist, you can also opt for a priest from your church, a psychologist, a psychotherapist, or a social worker. “Anyone trained in working with couples and dealing with relationship issues can help you sort through some of the potential obstacles that might get in your way,” she says. (But if the wedding officiant you found online is trying to pitch you sessions as part of his or her package, and they don’t have any qualifications, you can probably skip it.)

 

If you’re waffling about whether to get premarital counseling, Engler says it’s best to err on the side of caution. “Even if you never fight, you can still benefit from this,” she says.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Keeping Your Emotional Health

keepingemotionalhalth

Keeping Your Emotional Health

 

Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.

Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they are positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. But they know how to manage their negative feelings. They can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own. They also know when to seek help from their doctor.

 

Research shows that emotional health is a skill. There are steps you can take to improve your emotional health and be happier.

 

Path to improved well being

Emotional health is an important part of your life. It allows you to realize your full potential. You can work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It helps you work with other people and contribute to society.

 

It also affects your physical health. Research shows a link between an upbeat mental state and physical signs of good health. These include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a healthier weight

 

There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health.

 

Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.

Express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.

Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Give yourself time to think, and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.

Manage stress. Try to change situations causing you stress. Learn relaxation methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.

Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.

Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.

Connect with others. We are social creatures. We need positive connections with other people. Make a lunch date, join a group, and say hi to strangers.

Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what it is important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend your time doing what feels meaningful to you.

Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes, and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.

Things to consider

People who have good emotional health can still have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause. This could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can trigger mental illness or make it worse.

 

Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.

 

Questions to ask your doctor

What steps should I take to improve my emotional health?

Would medicine help me be able to cope better?

Should I see a therapist or counselor?

How does my physical health affect my emotional health?

What stress management techniques would work best for me?

 

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Letting Go! Are you in a Bad Relationship

lettinggo

Letting Go

 

How to tell if you are in a bad relationship

 

Have you been dumped, betrayed or left so heartbroken that you didn’t ever want to love again? Are you still stuck on an ex and don’t know how to move on? And how do you know when it’s time to let go and look for love somewhere else?

If you’re “the other woman” who’s waiting for a man to leave his lover, don’t waste your time. “If he’ll do it with you, he’ll do it to you,”. The man you want lacks integrity and can’t make a commitment.

Are your standards too low? “What is it about you that causes you to settle for somebody that you know will cheat on you, know will lie to you, know will make a commitment and then break it? What is it about you that you believe about yourself that you’re willing to settle for that?” Recognize that you’re settling and that you deserve more. Set a higher standard for yourself.

Does he really even make you happy? Be honest with yourself about the extent to which he’s really meeting your needs. Chances are you’re longing for the relationship that you wish it could be, and that you want to be in love with the person you wish he was.  “There are times when you break up with somebody and you start missing them and you start thinking about all the good things. And then you’re back with them for about 10 minutes and you go ‘Oh yeah! Now I remember why I hate you!’” Don’t kid yourself about what it was really like or glorify the past.

Don’t wait around because you think he’s going to change. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so the chance that he’s going to ride in on his white horse and do the right thing is pretty slim.  “To the extent that there’s some history, you don’t have to speculate, you just have to measure.”

Don’t put your life on hold. Every minute you spend focusing on your ex is a minute that’s holding you back from a better future.  “As long you are obsessed on this guy, you will never put your heart, soul and mind into getting your life in order and starting another relationship if you want one.” Set some goals and start putting your life back together.

Ask yourself: Are you hiding in the relationship so you don’t have to face the reality of being on your own? Don’t stay with someone because it’s comfortable and safe. It may seem more secure, but it’s not healthy for you and it certainly won’t help you get to a better place. Why would you want to settle and waste your life away just to avoid getting back in the game?

Be clear with him. “You’ve got to say not just ‘no,’ but ‘hell no,'”.  “‘Get out of my life. Stay away from me. Don’t call me.'” If you live together, it’s time to move out, or you may need to change your phone number.  “Do what you have to do.” If the circumstances are more complicated or severe, you may need to get a lawyer in order to get child support or to hold him accountable for any other outstanding issues.

Don’t hold all men responsible for the mistake your ex made. Why should he pay for the sins of someone else who may have wronged you?

Learn to trust again — by trusting yourself. It  tells a man who’s having a hard time letting women back into his life: “Trust is not about how much you trust one person or another to do right or wrong. How much you trust another person is a function of how much you trust yourself to be strong enough to deal with their imperfections.” Have enough faith in yourself to be able to put yourself on the line with someone, without any guarantee of what will happen next. If you’re playing the game with sweaty palms, it’s because you’re afraid of what you can or can’t do, or dealing with your own imperfections — it’s not about the other person.

 

Know that you will get hurt if you’re in a relationship. There is no perfect person without flaws. Even a well-intended guy is going to hurt his partner. He’s going to hurt your feelings. He’s going to say things that you don’t want him to say. He’s going to do things you wish he wouldn’t do and not do things you wish he would do. A relationship is an imperfect union between two willing spirits who say, ”I’d rather be in a relationship and share my life, share my joys, share my fun, share my activities, share my life than do it alone.” If you want to be in a relationship, know that getting hurt comes with the territory. You just have to decide that you are durable enough, that you have enough confidence in yourself that you can handle it.

Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. While it’s important to move forward, you need to take things one step at a time. Don’t put so much out there that you’ll be emotionally bankrupt if things go south.

Don’t beat yourself up. You got through your last experience, you’ve learned from it, and now it’s time to move forward.  “You’ll move on and be a champion in your next endeavor as you did in your past … Life is not a success-only journey. You are going to get beat up along the way.”

Focus on yourself. All of us come into relationships with baggage, but you need to have closure on past experiences before you can start a new relationship with the odds in your favor.  “Unless and until you’ve figured out everything you’ve got to figure out about that and you get closure, you will never come into a relationship with a fresh and clean heart and mind and expectancy and attitude.” You’re probably not ready to get into another relationship until you heal the wounds of your past.

Listen to what he’s saying. If he’s telling you that you want different things out of life and there’s no way you can work as a couple, don’t turn his words around into what you want to hear. He’s being quite clear.

Know the statistics. “There’s a 50/50 chance a marriage is going to work if both people are head over heels in love, passionate and willing to climb the mountain, swim the river and slay the dragon to get to each other. That’s with everybody crazy in love and running toward each other in that field that we see in the commercials. The problem you’ve got here is he’s running the other way in the field! So if it’s 50/50 when you’re running toward each other, what do you think it is when the other person is running out of the field and hiding in the woods?”

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Sibling Stress

Sibling-Stress

How to Navigate A Stressful Relationship with a Sibling

 

Parents have a huge effect on the people their children become. But there’s another family dynamic that can influence us just as much, if not more: the one with our siblings. Relationships with brothers and sisters usually continue long after our parents are gone, and they affect us at every stage of life.

 

Never is this more evident than when we struggle with an adult sibling. It is normal for brothers and sisters to compete with each other as kids, and even fight; parents often assume we’ll grow out of it, and many of us do. Yet simmering resentments about family roles or parental favoritism can persist over time and cause real pain and rivalry.

 

We may also find ourselves at odds with a sibling over core values — like political or religious views, or how to best raise our kids — and these differences can intensify routine disagreements.

 

As intractable as sibling conflicts can seem, they don’t need to be permanent, says psychotherapist Jeanne Safer, PhD. Adjusting our perceptions and taking a few simple actions can help build the best possible bonds with our challenging brothers and sisters, even if the relationships might never be perfect.

 

CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME

Idealizing sibling relationships.   “We have this idea that these relationships are, or should be, wholly positive,” says Safer, “and we use them as metaphors for very high ideals: Sisterhood is powerful. All men are brothers. It can be hard to live up to the idealizations.”

Parental favoritism. Safer says parental favoritism plays a prominent role in nearly all sibling conflicts — and it has its roots in a parent’s experience with his or her own siblings. “If a parent is the youngest of three children, and has three children, she is probably going to favor the youngest child, seeing herself there unconsciously,” she explains.

Denial. Believing you’ve outgrown any childhood rivalry with your sibling, or that you should have, makes it hard to address underlying resentments.

Differing destinies. If one sibling has a more successful career, is luckier in love, or has an easier time having or raising children, this can sustain resentments developed in childhood, Safer says. She cites the case of a physician who was a failed musician. The doctor envied her less-affluent sister, who played the piano beautifully.

Opposing values. You may be a lifelong Democrat and your sister a staunch Republican, or you may let your kids roam free while your brother keeps his on a short leash. If these differences create tension, Safer believes it indicates historical factors are at play. “These differences in values can usually be handled if the underlying issues are addressed,” she says.

Divergent memories. We might be angry at siblings who don’t share our views of the family system, but Safer believes that our memories and experiences are inevitably different. “You and your siblings have the same biological parents but live in different ‘psychological families’ because of the different roles you play,” she says.

Parental interference. When conflict erupts between siblings, parents often push for immediate reconciliation, Safer notes. “This very often means that the higher-functioning sibling is supposed to suck it up and tolerate anything that the lower-functioning one does.”

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

Take the initiative. “If you’re waiting for your sibling to address the issues between you, you may have to wait a very long time,” says Safer. “Get the ball rolling by reaching out yourself.”

Remember the good things. If you’re preparing to address a conflict with your sibling, Safer suggests a positive focus. Recall times when he or she was kind to you, stood up for you, helped you with something. “In your conversation, bring it up and thank him or her.”

Ask your sibling about his or her experience. Ask how he or she felt in your family — and be open to the explanation. Don’t expect it to match your own. Safer suggests this type of approach: “I really want to make things better between us, and I think that starts with our childhood. What was your experience of our parents?”

Address difficulties directly. Don’t let a casual “Mom likes you best” or “I always have to take care of everything” pass without a sincere response, Safer says. Ask if the two of you can talk about it. Explain that you want to connect and get beyond your roles.

Listen nondefensively. “You need to do a lot of listening,” says Safer. “And you need to listen particularly carefully to what the sibling has to say about the person you least want to hear about — yourself.”

Offer your services. Your sibling may respond better to what you do than what you say, especially if he or she is less inclined to ask for help, Safer notes. Offer to watch the kids, do some cooking, run errands. This allows you to show your implicit regard for him or her, which can help build trust.

Settle for modest improvements. Sibling struggles are deeply rooted, and they don’t always change for the better immediately — or completely. Your sibling might disagree that your issues stem from early family life, and he or she may not be ready for change. “But trying counts,” says Safer. “If you can go from being so estranged that you can’t stand to be together to being able to be decent to each other, that’s big progress.”

 

Please contact us with any of your concerns.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived   J Spayde

312-972-WELL

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Are You In A Rut?

rut

Are You In A Rut?

 

Some routines are helpful — others hold you back. Shake things up with a new design so you can move in a healthier direction.

 

Have you ever felt like you were in a rut? Of course, you have! We all have.

 

Feeling stuck in your day-to-day routine is a universal experience. It’s also a byproduct of your highly efficient brain. After all, with an estimated 11 million sensory inputs to process each second, your brain would be unnecessarily taxed if it had to relearn how to shower and tie your shoes each day. Instead, its myelinated neural networks allow routine behaviors to become default behaviors

So if what you’re doing is working for you — even remotely — you tend to stick with it. Default behavior can be constructive (brushing and flossing daily) or unconstructive (downing a few cocktails nightly). Ruts may manifest as lack of action, as well: Maybe you keep your head down at work, never taking on projects outside your comfort zone. Or you stay in an unhealthy relationship for years, avoiding conflict and change.

 

Biologists have observed that animals in nature will take the same paths and escape routes through their territories over and over — often falling victim to predators who exploit this predictability. What if some of your ruts are ill-conceived escape routes — patterns of action or thought that keep you from dealing with problems, rising to challenges, or tending to relationships?

 

And what if these ruts have negative consequences? Wolves may not eat you, but your partner, boss, or friends may let you know that your default behavior is causing problems.

 

AN ANTIDOTE TO RUTS

In his research with animals, Jaak Panksepp, PhD, professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience at Washington State University, identified seven core neural networks of emotion, the strongest of which he defined as “seeking,” or the desire to discover. This emotion compels an animal to find a mate, forage for food, and learn new parts of its habitat, all of which are essential for survival.

 

Just like any other animal, humans are drawn to discover. Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), researchers have found that a region in the midbrain called the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area, or SN/VTA, is activated when a person is exposed to novel stimuli. We are hardwired to notice and gravitate toward the new — new people, new house, new job, new vacation destination.

 

When we combine a neurological tendency to automate routine behavior with a biological drive to seek, it makes sense that we check our phones some 85 times per day. In fact, the act of seeking — more than actually discovering — really lights up our brains. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward, spikes in anticipation of discovery.

 

That seeking behavior manifests in many ways — some beneficial, some benign, some problematic. If you’ve ever spent too much money shopping for things you didn’t really need, you know that seeking is often more satisfying than what you ultimately find, learn, or buy. You can even get addicted to seeking, which may be distracting but does nothing to release you from (or provide insight into) your ruts.

 

Instead, why not use the principles of design thinking to break out of your ruts? Why not design a beneficial seeking behavior — a quest — that allows you to seek in deeper and more meaningful ways?

 

DESIGN YOUR QUEST

For the past 20 years, I have embarked on an annual solo quest to help myself climb out of my ruts. For five days, I camp in a remote wilderness area where I fast and meditate in order to wake up my mind. Isolation removes the distractions of conversation and social obligation. Fasting eliminates the distractions of planning, cooking, and eating food. (Thinking about food, however, is another story!)

 

These days of focused meditation allow my mind to quiet itself from the emailing, texting, and rumination it’s usually engaged in. Eventually I drop into a deep silence where I can gain insights into the nature of my ruts — and the changes I need to make to get out of them. During one quest I came to understand that it was time to move on from a job I loved. While I felt passionate about the work, I had become complacent in many ways and had developed some bad habits.

 

Solitude and time in nature helped me see that, if I wanted to grow, I needed to release that job — a realization I may not otherwise have had until years later.

 

I believe there is a quest for everyone. You don’t have to venture into the wilderness to gain insight into your ruts and the changes you may need to make.

 

Remember, you are the designer of your life — so think like a designer! What types of experiences will really get your attention and break you out of your daily routine? How will you eliminate distractions so you can gain insight into your habits of thought and behavior?

 

The real adventure lies within you. Do you dare seek it?

 

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

P Carrothers

312-972-WELL