MANAGING STRESS IN OUR LIVES

Tuesday
Sep252018

I'M AGAINST FASCISM/ I'M IN FAVOR OF ENCOURAGING AND SUPPORTING EVERY HUMAN

I would hope that all of us [humans] would be against fascism. So what is fascism? It seems like it is a way to justify controlling others [supposedly] for their own good. That, of course, is impossible as I believe that taking control from people is never for their own good. Fascism purports to promote the nation but it really seems to support sa favored race over the rest of the population. This often means that a few people under the leadership of a dictator will exert control over the rest of the people in their country purportedly for the good of those people. To maintain this type of control over others, the leaders need to completely suppress any form of opposition. They become bullies to sustain their power.

So what is attractive about fascism? Well, there is a promise to take care of those who support the fascist leaders as these leaders act like they know what is best for the people in their country. People are freed from having to make decisions and are often forbidden from acting independently in any manner. The problem with this seems to be that people need to make decisions for themselves and be responsible for themselves. They have difficulty functioning as humans if they don't. This might be why Fascist governments don't last as the people revolt. 

What evidence is their that we need to make decisions for ourselves and be responsible for ourselves? Is it really better to encourage and suport others versus telling them what to do?

What do you think?

 

Sunday
Aug192018

BEYOND GENDER...WHY DO WE NEED THINGS THAT SEPARATE US?

In August, 2018 I saw the play "Paradise Lost" by Erin Shields that was adapted from the poem by John Milton performed as a world premiere at the Stratford Festival, Directed by Jackie Maxwell. The play portrays the innocence of Adam and Eve and it occurred to me that gender was only recognized after their innocence was lost. So, before that there was no need [?] for gender assignment. This made me think of gender assignment as separating us from each other or at least potentially doing that. It also made me reflect on the fall from innocence portrayed in Paradise Lost as something that separated Adam and Eve from each other and according to some spiritual beliefs, separated them from God. Eve is portrayed as yielding to the temptation to learn about good and evil, and then encouraging Adam to join her. This has been used to blame women for the fall and somehow to also consider women to be inferior to men. This has led to thousands of years of pain and suffering as women were considered separate from and unequal to men. This makes me think that the original understanding of Eve's role is wrong as I believe that whatever separates us as humans is wrong. What does separate us? Feeling better than others; judging others; excluding others; sterotyping others; assigning gender roles? So many ways to justify separating ourselves from others. So, is gender assignment another way to separate us from each other?

What purposes do gender assignment and gender roles have?  They seem to invite thinking sterotypically, seeing differences vs similarities and not being a open to actually seeing each other vs seeing the stereotypes that we have created and stored in our memories.  

What do you think?

 

Sunday
Aug192018

WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF EVIL?

Assuming that evil does exist, I believe that when anyone judges someone else or sterotypes others or thinks/discusses prejudicial ideas or in any way acts to separate theirselves from others, they are acting in a way that is potentially evil or are beginning of a process that will clearly become evil. [I am not referring to the dictionary definition of evil as profoundly immoral and malevolent.]

The above definition of evil might seem kind of wierd or wrong, however my patients have taught me that what I mentioned above is correct. Every time one of my patients [or myself] non-specifically criticize or judge others it is wrong. It is wrong because it separates us from those people and as humans we are meant to be connected to each other. 

So, how can any of this be clarified much less validated. One way I validate this information is by having the opportunity daily to learn from my patients how they relate to others when they are being judgmental compared to when they are able to stop being judgmental [reduce it by a lot] and how that impacts the quality of their relationships. Over and over I have seen this change correlated with significant improvements in their relationships to others [including their families] and their own level of happiness. They are much less stressed and are able to not dwell on the past as much. 

So now I appear to be promoting giving up judging others as a way to reduce stress and increase satisfaction with our lives and our happiness. Well, I am. Now what do others say? I searched for information and found an article in Psychology Today from October 24, 2014 by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. entitled  "10 Reasons To Stop Judging People."  The 10 reasons are: 1. don't blame yourself as we are "hard wired to have fight/flight/or frozen" reactions and it is "natural" to judge others; 2. be mindful so you are self aware enough to catch yourself before you say something judgmental; 3. depersonalize the situation as you remind yourself that it is really not about you but likely reflects the conflict that the other person is having; 4. Look for basic goodness in others. We "naturally scan for the negative," but the positive is there; 5. Repeat "just like me." This reminds us that we are more like each other than different and actually from the same subspecies; 6. Reframe what you are hearing to consider that it really is not personal [about you]; 7. Be willing to look at your own behavior as this may be the source of  your upset with someone else; 8. Educate yourself about the other person and see if they may be disabled in some way; 9. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. We generally all do the best we can; 10. Feel good about yourself and you will be less likely to judge others.  A final comment by Dr. Markway states that judging other defines us, not others. There are many other articles and research that appears to support that we are happier if we do not judge others.

I disagree with Dr. Markway about her stating that it is natural to judge others and that we naturally scan for the negative about others.  I believe that we have learned to cope with our own insecurities by judging others and being critical of them. So, judging and criticizing others is not natural. But why then do we do these things? Many of us have had experiences when other people acted in ways that we felt overwhelmed and threatened. Then, to keep from feeling even more overwhelmed, we learn to judge others and be critical of them so we won't be fooled into trusting them.  We also try to keep things from getting worse by taking on responsiblity for others. These coping strategies may keep things from getting worse but they also alienate us from others that can lead to depression and anxiety.  

So, what can be do to stop coping by judging others and criticising them? It helps to be aware that we are doing this and then choosing [outloud] to stop doing it. We then will be able to learn that it is safe to stop judging and criticizing others and that we will actually feel calmer and less stressed if we do.

What do you think?


 

Monday
Aug062018

IS GIVING ADVICE OVERRATED?

A better question might be if giving advice is ever helpful. Now that might sound radical and yet in my experience with a few thousand people I have never noted that advice was helpful to anyone nor actually accepted by anyone. If it seems to be that people seek advice and then reject it. What is that about? Also, if the above is true then what about my attempts to help people? Am I not at least fairly frequently giving advice and then are my patients also frequently rejecting my advice?  

I have seen repeatedly in my treatment of people that it is critical that they decide what to do and then take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Can advice help that? Since advice is so frequently rejected it seems that advice does not help. There seems to be a wish for advice and for answers to problems and for solutions to problems with others and yet this does not seem to be helpful. When we give advice what message is that sending? It seems to be received as a lack of faith in the person's ability to problem solve for themselves and manage their lives. This may not be an intended message and yet giving advice does not seem to reinforce their being able to problem solve for themselves and to take reponsibility for themselves. Of course, the intention of the advice giver might be to have their advice help the person to start being more responsible for themselves and to take responsibility for their lives. Yet, I have never seen advice giving be helpful for either party as it risks separating the advice giver and receiver. This separation may be related to the stress for the advice giver who feels responsible for the advice receiver [which is the reason that advice was given] and need that the receiver has to be responsible for themselves. This appears to be a basic need and the receiver will likely feel that the advice giver does not have faith in the receiver's ability to manage for themselves. 

So what is the alternative? It is to encourage and support the person you are tempted to give advice to. What is encouragement and support? It requires listening without our own reactions and thus allowing ourselves to see the strength in the other and then share this with them. Listening by itself is supportive as we are with others and therefore are supporting them when we are listening. The support is emotional support and often does not require any words. This encouragement and support is what I try to do with my patients as I listen and have an opportunity to reflect back what I have heard and to encourage them to trust themselves and see what happens.

Does any of this make any sense?


Monday
Jul162018

ST. AUGUSTINE: LOVE AND DO WHAT YOU WILL

Well, what does that mean? Does it mean that if you love then you can do anything that you choose to do? Is love really that powerful? Don't we humans need more checks and balances to keep us in line? Don't we need protection from ourselves vs having the license to do anything that we want? St. Augustine in a sermon about God's love for us said "love and do what you will." The meaning seems to be connected to St. Augustine's belief that God's love would transform those who opened their heart's to it and then they would follow God's will and do good things. So then they could do what they wanted as they would want good things for themselves and others. This might be an answer for the critique of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" pointing out that if you do bad things to yourself then you could justify doing bad things to others...if that were actually what you wanted to do to yourself or others. 

So. what does this have to do with us? Over the last 30 plus years helping people with a variety of problems but virtually all were feeling stressed and were self-critical and hard on themselves. I tried to help them to be kinder to themselves and to be more self-aware. I have found that when we are more self-aware, we are more likely to see the good parts of ourselves and are then more able to let go of some of the self-criticism. So maybe part of the "love" in "love and do what you will" is our choosing to be kinder and more loving towards ourselves and then we would be kinder and more loving towards others. If we do this, we will then feel less stressed. What do you think?