MANAGING STRESS IN OUR LIVES

Wednesday
Jun212017

IF IT IS EXHAUSTING IT MUST BE WRONG!

It has become clear in my work with people that when they are interacting with others and feel exhausted or drained that something is wrong in how they are interacting. This may seem obvious but fairly often people tell me that they are exhausted by being with certain people. Now it may be only certain people but often I have seen where people are exhausted interacting with some people and then tend to not interact with others. It also seems obvious that people at times need more help and that this can be exhausting. So, does that mean that helping people is wrong, or is there something wrong with helping in a way that leads to feeling exhausted?

I have seen repeatedly that when people feel responsible for others or take on responsibility for others, they frequently end up feeling exhausted.  It is hard to stop "helping" others as they still seem to need help and to not be able to manage for themselves. Frequently my patients tell me that if they stop "helping" others, in other words stop taking responsibility for them, they will get angry.  Also, if my patients have pressing needs of their own, the people they are "helping" will often still get angry as if my patient's needs do not count as much.

No wonder it is exhausting. It seems like it is never ending. Why is that? Well, it seems that once a pattern is established where one person is "helping" [taking on responsibility for] another person, that person depends on it and feels that they are entitled to the help. So, if it stops for any reason [including any obvious need for help of the person helping] the person who has been helped is upset, often angry, and frequently will feel and act self-righteously.  This is often confusing and painful to the person who has been helping as they thought that the person being helped would be more than happy to help them if they needed help. Not so as the person being helped still feels the same needs to be helped and they are not easily put aside to then return the favor and help the person who had always helped them. It frequently does not occur to them that the person helping them would ever actually need help.

So what are you supposed to do.  Well, it is good to become more aware of the tendency to feel responsible for others and not let yourself fall into this trap.  Being aware of the stress involved can help, however, the stress of stopping this is a factor as well.  If you are feeling or acting responsible for others you are likely someone who does not like to see other people struggling.  You might have a tendency to jump in to help.  Well, you may need to redefine help for yourself.  Help is not doing for others or protecting them from feelings or stress. Helping is being encouraging and supportive as you are able to see their strengths and coping abilities and can be encouraging and supportive of them using these.  Believing in others and their ability to manage is very helpful and supportive. Doing things for them can undermine their self-confidence as they can interpret your help as meaning that you don't believe that they can manage. However, not doing things for others can seem cold and uncaring.  

To see a depiction of the importance of believing in others you could watch a short film entitled "The Butterfly Circus." 

Sunday
Jun112017

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SAY "NO"?

I have previously blogged about the importance of not feeling responsible for others and not taking responsibility for others as this inevitably leads to stress and anxiety.  Why does it? Well, it is actually not possible to be responsible for others as they are separate human beings.  I know, as a parent or even as an innocent bystander, you can feel responsible for the welfare of children.  Yet even then, is it really being responsible for them or is it offering more literal support until they can do more for themselves while still encouraging them to make decisions for themselves so they can actually choose to go along with your support? Plus, it is likely that anyone you are taking responsibility for [or even just feeling responsible for] will at some point be resentful as you will not do a good job being responsible for them [how could you really] and it will start to feel to them like you do not have faith in their ability to take responsibility for themselves.

So why do we take on responsibility for others? Well, for the people who come to me for help, it is to prevent things from getting worse or simply to keep bad things from happening. These seem like good reasons. However, even if in the past [often years ago] things would get worse, that was not true now, but it seems like it is still true.  This seeming like there is still a risk that things will get worse is partly due to the fact that your past memories of things getting worsse tell you that the risk is real and the person that you are taking responsiblity for are acting like they will not do well if you stop acting responsbile for them.  So, what is one to do?

One can choose to recognize that they really don't have to worry about things getting worse as that is a thing of the past that does not apply any more.  They can also recognize that the person they feel or act responsible for can manage on their own, even if they don't act like it.  Hopefully, they will also recognize that they must not think they can wait for that person to start acting like they can manage.  This is not likely to happen.  

Well, this is where the idea that "no" is a term of endearment comes in as actually saying no and not taking on responsibility for others is an indication that you care about that person and believe that they can manage on their own.  Therefore, no becomes a term of endearment.. This does seem harsh though.  So my pateints have helpled me to come up with modifications of this.  These include: "I love you and I think you can manage."  It should be noted that it is worded think you can manage because even if you know they are capable of managing you do not know if they will choose to manage.  Other modifications of no include "I love parts of you and I think you can manage." Also, [Click] which is the sound of you hanging up the phone instead of repeating over and over that you are going to hang up.  So, click is a sound of endearment. Get it? Of course, you will have to keep saying no to help increae the likelihood that the persons you are believing in will start believing in themselves. It is definitely worth it. Seeing the strength in others when they are doubting themselves is a gift to them...so keep giving it. If you can let go of your feeling or acting responsible for others you will feel a lot less stressed.

Thursday
May112017

CAN WE COMMUNICATE BY EMITTING ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES?

I have wondered for awhile if it is possible to communicate with other living things through electromagnetic waves that are emitted by our brains.  This could explain how caring about someone can be felt by that person or how prayer works or how empathy works or how intuition works, etc.  Of course it is not clear that our brains emit electromagnetic waves that can influence anything, although our brains are influenced by external electromagnetic waves being applied during transcranial magnetic stimulation [TMS]  

There are theories and research findings suggesting that electromagnetic waves in our brains are generated by the firing of neurons being synchronized to give us the experience of seeing things as unified so that we see faces instead of millions of parts of faces, etc. This gets into theories of how we are conscious and see things in unified patterns not as masses of separate pieces of information from millions of neurons firing.

Susan Pockett [The Nature of Consciousness] and Johnjoe McFadden [(2002). "The Conscious Electromagnetic Information [CEMI] Field Theory, The Hard Problem Made Easy?"Journal of Consciousness Studies.9(8)45-60.] have proposed that electromagnetic fields [EM Field Theory] are activated when neurons are activated and that this causes there to be a representation of the information in the neuron.  McFadden also believes that the firing of neurons is synchronized to allow digital information to form a conscious electromagnetic information [CEMI] field in the brain that represents our experiencing consciousness.

So, we are still trying to understand through research into specific brain functions what consciousness is and the role of electromagnetic waves and how any of this is related to the ability to be empathic or intuitive or communicate by feeling love for another or by sending them a prayer.  What is clear to me is that living things have an ability to communicate with other living things other than through vocalizations or gestures. It seems that these other forms of communication are powerful and are important to our feeling connected to one another.  And, this connectedness is fundamental to who we are as living creatures and to what is important in our lives.

Therefore, keep sending those positive [electromagnetic] waves to the others in our wonderful universe and be open to receiving them from others.  This is another reason to avoid being stressed as stress seems to interfere with the sending of these positive somethings and receiving them as well. I have to stop now as I am sounding less scientifically grounded.

 

 

Saturday
May062017

COOPERATION VS COMPETITION

Which one did you vote for [cooperation or competition]? Or is that silly as we need both to live healthy and happy lives? Is some competition ok and other kinds not ok? Is cooperation always better?  Which one brings people together?  Which one recognizes individual effort?  Which one gives you winners [and losers]?  Which one is the foundation for one's life? 

Well, tally up the answers and see who won!  Can cooperation win? Is it hard to separate competition from our every day lives? Is the significance of sports linked to competition and winning and losing?  Or is it linked to being part of a team and sharing experiences with others? I have often seen players [competitors?] at the conclusion of games [competitions?] greet each other warmly and with what seems like caring for each other or do you think this display is not real? I have also at times seen the coaches not show any caring and occasionally see a coach not shake hands and walk away instead.  

Well, who cares whether the players or coaches care about the other team?  I care and I suspect that you do as well.  If they do care about each other then maybe competition is not the main thing but a way of valuing how well a group of people work together [cooperate?] and testing this against another group of people working together.  So, competition helps people learn the importance of working together and the value of sharing life with others? This may seem like a bit of a stretch but if indeed we are meant to be pack animals that do not exclude other packs then this could be good preparation for life.  What do you think?

 

Monday
Feb272017

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS?

I thought about this old saying recently in light of recent events that have caused a lot of people to feel anxious when watching or listening to the news.  I try to help people who come to me to let go of their worries about things that they hear on the news and often will suggest that they not watch or listen to news, especially news on TV.  I have previously blogged about this and freely confess that I am biased when it comes to this as I have not watched TV news since three-forths of the way through the Vietnam War [about 1970].  I stopped watching because I had friends who had been drafted and were fighting in the war and I did not want to see news about their being wounded or killed.  I had a deferment because of medical school and yet I felt guilty that my friends had to fight in the war or leave the country [I had a friend make this choice].

After the war, I decided to continue not watching the TV news as it was frequently focused on violence and negative things that were stressful to watch and listen to and I did not think I gained anything from watching and listening to it.  It did not seem to directly motivate me to do something about what I was witnessing on the news and would instead lead me to feel stressed and then be less able to do something to counteract what appeared to be happening.  It was not as if the negative news was balanced with positive news.  Even if it were, I believe that the negative news would have more influence over me than the positive. I have joked with people that I don't know what country I live in or which state, etc. Of course that is not true. I get my news from radio [unless it is a negative focus or is describing violence] and print sources that includes reading news on the internet.  However, I avoid looking at photos depicting violence, etc.

Avoiding TV news and references to violence would be difficult for a lot of people. Since watching the TV news makes a lot of people anxious and feel stressed and pessimistic about the future, why do they watch it?  I had several people who watched the air planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City thousands of times. They couldn 't stop themselves.  It seemed to represent a hope that the next time they watched it they would find out it wasn't real after all.  Maybe the same desire keeps many people watching TV news in hopes that it will also turn out to not be real. Well, that puts control over stress in our lives directly in the hands of those who control the news that is shown.  

I encourage people to take back control of their lives and the stressful events that they espose themselves to. To me this means no TV news and no violent shows and no overwhelmingly painful commercials about dogs and cats being mistreated or children suffering from cancer.  It is vey hard to erase those sad faces from our brains and yet having them there does not help those animals or those children.  It can keep us from being more active helping those in need as we are preoccupied coping with the stress of remembering these events and the hopelessness that often comes with it.

So, no news is good news!