Posting will be a little slow on this site at the moment, as I'm working on a new book setting out how the 4F stress is literally making us crazy - and easy ways to start fixing the problem!
I hope to have the draft done (enough....) by August 1, 2019, and I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to be one of my beta readers. You don't have to check any grammar or spelling, I just want to get some feedback about whether I'm covering the right areas, and also if you have any ideas on how to make the book even more useful to the reader.
If you're interested, please drop me an email.
What negative emotion is causing you the most problems in life, especially with your relationships? Vote below, as I'm planning to start a series of practical tips and hacks that will help you get control of your negative emotions, and help you (and the people around you...) feel much happier and calmer.
I'm lukewarm about vaccines - increasingly so, as I see how much effort is going into trying to kill the debate about them. I believe as much information should be put out there as possible, from both sides, and then people should be left to choose for themselves which path to follow.
A funny thing happened on my other site when I tried to put up this video from Physicians for Informed Consent on vaccines - it totally disappeared, and took half my blog post with it. Repeatedly. So, I'm doing an experiment to see if I was having an issue on my other website, or whether there is something happening with the video itself.
If you see it below, you'll know which one it was. And if you don't see it below, go to: physiciansforinformedconsent. org/videos, and take a look yourself.
I was talking to someone recently who is fiercely independent, and very resistant to asking anyone for help.
She knows how she got like this: She had a difficult, chaotic childhood when there was never a caring, mature adult around to help her out of the myriad problems, fears and challenges that each of us goes through as a child.
So she learned: don’t ask for help, because it’s not going to be given anyway.
And that’s served her pretty well, up until this stage of life, when to cut a long story short, she’s cracking at the seams, and she can’t do everything by herself anymore. These days, she really needs to start asking for help, at least within her immediate family – but she still can’t.
This situation is starting to cause a lot of problems and tensions between my friend and her husband and grown-up kids, because they got used to the version of her that never needs any help. So now, even when she does ask, they aren’t really taking her requests so seriously, they aren’t ‘trained’ to respond, they forget, they get busy with other people, other priorities.
Which is reinforcing the mother’s existing belief system, namely: don’t ask for help, because it’s not going to be given anyway.
But now, she really needs help, so the resentment is rising and rising in the home.
I suggested she take a look at the Connection book by Efim Svirsky, and she came across an exercise that really spoke to her, about trying to connect to the ‘child who can’t question’.
That kid is so overwhelmed by fear, it can’t even frame the problem into words.
She did the exercise, and came up with a stunning insight as to where that inability to ask for help actually came from, which I have her permission to share with you.
As mentioned, she had a very chaotic childhood.
There was a lot of absentee parenting, a lot of emotional neglect, and also a heavy dose of verbal abuse that sometimes turned violent. It wasn’t really bad enough for social services to get involved – but it could have been. And as a young teen, my friend was old enough to be worrying about what would happen if ‘outsiders’ find out how crazy it really is in my home?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, she was struggling in school. There was no-one to encourage her to do her homework, no-one to get her to show up on time. Yet, whenever she was hauled into the principal’s office for a talking to, she always concocted a fantastic web of lies, to provide a diversion to what was really going on behind closed doors.
The dog she didn’t have was always eating her homework, the train was always late, the bus always developed a flat tyre….
Of course, the principal didn’t buy all this, but as my friend didn’t back down from her lies, she had no choice but to ‘go along’ with the deceit, and to try to relate to her from that place.
So, my friend was going through the Connection exercise, when suddenly that scene with the principal popped into her head, and she suddenly realized why she could never ask for help:
Because she could never truthfully describe what the real problem was.
The real problem was not that she was disorganized, didn’t care about her school work, lacked motivation, kept losing her travelcard. The real problem is that she came from a totally dysfunctional family that sapped all her energy and organization as soon as she stepped over the threshold of her house. And she wasn’t about to open that can of worms up to anyone, in case social services got involved.
So, she lied about her homework, lied about what happened to her PE kit, lied about all the emotional dysfunction and chaos swirling around at home. And the help that was offered to her was always dealing with the ‘lie’ of what the problem actually was, as opposed to the truth – so it was essentially worthless.
It wouldn’t solve the real problem, because my friend couldn’t express it.
In the exercise, she went back to that time in the principal’s office, and for the first time in her life, she told the truth. She wasn’t lazy, disorganized, rebellious – anything but! She was struggling to keep things together in some very challenging circumstances.
And there was no ‘help’ that the principal could give her, because that help ran the risk of getting social services involved, which was a massive childhood fear for my friend.
After she completed the exercise, she told me she felt a huge weight roll off her. Now, she finally understood why she has such a hard time really asking for help – because she can’t truthfully articulate her needs.
Telling the truth about what’s going wrong, what’s overwhelming, has always been too scary for her. But now, just maybe, the door has creaked open for that to start to change.
For more on Efim Svirksy and his excellent book Connection, go HERE.
Twenty years ago, when I was a young woman working for Her Majesty’s British Government, I had a colleague who was two decades older than me, who joined the civil service press department the same time I did.
I mostly liked my job, at least at that point, she mostly hated hers.
So I asked her: “Why don’t you quit, then? And go and find a job that you’ll enjoy more?”
I found her answer shocking, even then. She told me:
“The pension is so good here, I’m just going to sit it out, until I retire.”
“But you aren’t going to retire for another 25 years!” I tried to argue.
Pointlessly, as it turned out, as no matter how bad the job was, how much it dragged her down and made her life feel soulless and empty, she was going to carry on doing it for a whole other half a lifetime, just to get a good pension.
In the meantime, I left the civil service – and all its fat perks and benefits – two years later, and my life has been anything but stable, safe and predictable since.
True, my friend probably has a much better pension than I do, at this stage (assuming the stress of being in a job she hated didn’t kill her a long time ago.)
But also true, that there is so much more to life than taking decisions just to stay safely embedded in the comfort zone.
Ah, the comfort zone.
So many of us think we’re striving for that, so many of us believe that the goal of life is to be comfortable.
I also had a bit of that going on still, until recently, when I had three months with no major drama, no major challenge, no big project to get my teeth into, nothing to exercise my brain cells or my praying abilities.
And you know what?
I was totally and utterly miserable.
I know, crazy isn’t it!
It took me a while to figure that out myself, because isn’t being ‘comfortable’ and having ‘stability’ what we’re all taught is the holy grail of being alive? Yet for me, as each stable, predictable, comfortable day passed on, I couldn’t get over the feeling that I’d somehow just flushed another 24 of my precious hours down the spiritual toilet, somehow.
Sure, I had nice chocolate to eat. A comfy bed to sleep in. Enough money to put petrol in the car and go somewhere, and enough time to actually do it.
But so what?
It was utterly and totally meaningless, and I didn’t come back from these days out feeling refreshed and happy. I came back feeling empty and pointless.
After a couple of weeks of this, I started to realise something profound:
It’s the comfort zone that’s killing us.
All of us, not just me.
How many of us are playing safe all the time, scared to offend, scared to step out of line, scared to try something different or be the person God really made us to be, because we’re scared of what comes next?
I.e., potentially being dragged out of comfort zone?
Maybe, if we stop playing it safe, we’ll end up having a real conversation for once, instead of all the fake, pointless inanity that passes for modern “discussion.”
How dangerous is that?!?
Maybe, we’ll discover that we hate our jobs, our lifestyle, certain people we hang out with, and that we really need to change things – in a big way – to start to feel happy and fulfilled again.
Again, that’s scary stuff, isn’t it?
But this is the actual fibre, the stuff of life. All those dangers, big and small, all those challenges, all those adventures, and discoveries and hard decisions.
This is what makes us really feel alive.
Sure, there’s a healthy balance to be achieved. No-one wants to be pinging from one self-induced crisis to another, like an Olympic bungee jumper.
But the other extreme, where we just wrap ourselves up in cotton wool, and make planning holidays and supper the most exciting part of our daily routine, is just as bad for us, it turns out.
It’s spiritual chloroform. It puts us to sleep slowly, slowly, until we spend so much time as screen- watching, comfort-craving zombies we don’t even realise how much life we’re really wasting.
The comfort zone is killing us.
I know it’s scary outside, but it’s also alive, and invigorating, and purposeful, and meaningful and real.
At least every now and then, we have to stick a foot out, and follow the path less travelled.
Otherwise, like my ex-colleague, we can spend the best part of three decades treading
water and wasting our time doing things we hate, living in places that don’t suit us, and trying to hide all our internal misery with ‘busy-ness’ and holidays to Marbella.
Your soul is calling you out of the comfort zone. That’s where you’ll really find yourself. That’s where you’ll really find God.
And that’s really where the pure stuff of life is located.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been very ‘subliminally stressed’. There could be a lot of reasons for that, not least the space weather connection, which can cause us to feel mega-stressed physically even when our own life is going swimmingly.
But the ‘why’ is not the focus of this post, but rather, the problems it was causing me, and how I finally managed to start getting on top of it.
So, I was very stressed and tense, and that was causing a couple of the bones in my chest to start aching, and to feel very sore, whenever I pressed them. That low-level pain was in turn stressing me out, as I kept getting worried that something was going on, health-wise.
And so, a vicious circle started up, where the stress was causing the bones in my chest to ache, and the continuous aching was contributing quite a bit to my feeling stressed.
I tried using Sujok seed therapy, where I put some red lentils on the part of my hand that corresponded to the aching part of my body. When the pain is energetic in nature, this nearly always clears it up very fast – but not this time.
I tried it for 2-3 nights in a row, and while it took the immediate edge off the problem, it didn’t really shift it. So then, I tried some aromatherapy – some lemon, some lavender, something relaxing. Again, same result: it took the problem down by maybe 5%, but didn’t really touch it. Ditto with the Rescue Remedy. Ditto with taking some long walks, and doing some other stretching exercises to get the body’s energy to start moving around.
It all helped a little, but nothing was really solving the problem.
So over the weekend, on the Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, I was talking to God about what was going on with all the pain I was experiencing in my chest, when the ‘answer’ popped into my head that I should go and take a book called Connection off my shelf, and try that.
The more you talk to God on a regular basis, the more you’ll start to trust these otherwise random-seeming flashes of inspiration.
Connections is a book written by psychologist Efim Svirsky, and around six years ago, I used it, and the visualisations it contains, a great deal, and found them very helpful. Then, I moved on to other things, like Sujok, and energy medicine, and moved away from a lot of the visualizations stuff.
But there I was, with the book in my hands, and I opened it up ‘randomly’, and got to the page where Efim describes a hypothetical problem of someone having a recurrent pain in the chest (!) that just won’t go away. In his exercise called ‘The Inner Dialogue’, he basically describes how you first go into deep relaxation, and then address the ‘block’ or pain directly, along the following lines:
First, relax your body thoroughly – lie or sit comfortably, and preferably alone, in a safe space somewhere, and go through every part of your body, consciously relaxing it.
Next, imagine a pure beam of light from God – the light of the Creator of the World – shining down on you, and passing through your body. Make a note of any places where the light can’t pass through, where it is ‘blocked’ or ‘dark’.
If you have more than one block, you can ask God to give you a clue as to which one to work on first.
Go wherever your attention is drawn.
Now, you need to speak to this block / pain / darkness and ask it why it’s there, what it’s purpose is.
What color is it? What shape? What size?
Efim cautions that you shouldn’t try to censor your thoughts, or force the issue. The ‘answer’ will usually just pop into your brain naturally, all by itself. If you aren’t given a clear answer, you can keep talking to the block, asking for more information.
Once you realise this, ask yourself where this next ‘block’ is located – where is the darkness, the pain, the block that is stopping God’s light from passing through your body?
When you find that new block, repeat the process, and start asking it why it is there, and what it thinks its job is. Because those blocks come, because they think they are trying to ‘help’ us in someway, to deal with something that otherwise we would find overwhelming, painful, scary or upsetting in some way.
Once you start to get answers, you can then ask the block to leave.
Often, that’s enough to start the healing process off, but not always. So then, what do you do next?
In his book, Connection, Efim has many other exercises and visualisations, but after years of doing this stuff, I wanted to share with you what I call the ‘Saintly Shortcut’.
I’ll explain how this works by describing what happened to me, when I started doing this exercise on the energy ‘block’ / pain I was experiencing in my chest.
I asked the block why it was there, and it told me it had come to protect me from feelings of extreme anxiety. I’d had those feelings before, around 10 years ago, and they were so intense, I nearly went stark, raving bonkers.
So, Efim’s advice to ‘feel the feelings underneath’ wasn’t going to work for me in this situation.
I could visualize the block as a huge, black slab of anxiety that had kind of wedged itself across the full length of my thorax. But I didn’t know how to get rid of it myself, which is when I turned to the ‘Saintly Shortcut’.
I called up my saint, or Tzaddik, of choice (I like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, but use whoever speaks to you) – and asked him to deal with getting rid of the block.
He dislodged it in a second, smashed it into smithereens, then blew everything away with a gale force hurricane. A couple of hours after I did that visualization, I realized the pain is 90% gone. It’s still a little sore – mostly because I’ve been pressing that spot hard for a few weeks, to see if it still hurts – but the energetic pain that was causing the problem has disappeared.
So, if you have a pain or an ache that isn’t going away no matter what you try, I highly recommend trying this exercise. You can buy Efim’s book HERE, or come up with your own version of this visualization.
If you do it as part of your talking to God sessions, and you make use of the Saintly Shortcut, I’m sure you’ll see some sterling results, even if you’re not doing it exactly the way prescribed by Efim.
And yet again, the whole episode showed me how body, mind and soul are so totally intertwined when it comes to health, and how we need to tackle health problem across all three levels, to really find a lasting solution.
That’s the approach I advocate in my book Talk to God and Fix Your Health, and it’s good God decided to remind me about it this weekend!
Because it really does work.
Over the last few years, I’ve been having an ongoing ‘discussion’ with my teens about the limits of being able to do what they want.
I’ve noticed that a lot of parents seem to be ducking the whole issue of teaching teens how to figure out healthy compromises with other people by adopting two maxims, namely:
While I can understand that attraction of both these things in theory, in practice they really don’t work to create healthy, open relationships with teens. Let me try to give an example from my own real life, to see if I can show you why that is.
The last few years, both my teens have been driving me bonkers with their ‘staying out all night’ habits. I have a lot of fears, most of which are not rational, so when my kids stay out late, I get nervous about them.
I often can’t sleep until they come home, so when they decide to come home at 2, 3 or even 4 in the morning, that’s a real problem for me, and it fundamentally affects my life. When I don’t get enough sleep, my brain doesn’t function so well, I start to feel ‘out of it’, and if it continues on for too long, it also has a real impact on my physical health.
So if that’s happening every night, or even most nights, it quickly leads us all into a very sticky situation.
Is my need to have my teenage kids in the house by 11pm at night reasonable?
But not always.
Is their need to be out very light at night multiple times a week reasonable?
But not never.
So, over the past few years, me and my children have been steadily working our way up to a compromise situation, where I let them have two nights a week where they can be out later, and I do my best to minimize my psycho tendencies to keep texting them every half an hour to make sure they’re OK.
There’s been some fine-tuning required as we go along. For example, I stipulated in our discussions that the two days shouldn’t be back-to-back unless there are extenuating circumstances (like two ‘can’t miss this’ events back to back); and recently, I also had to add another stipulation that the two ‘late nights’ should be on the same days for both kids, so I don’t end up having to deal with 4 sleepless nights a week on my end of things.
We’ve had a lot of blow-ups and heated arguments leading up to this place of compromise. Initially, the problem was mostly on my side of the equation, as I wanted the kids home at 11pm every single night, regardless of what was going on, or how important it was for them to be there.
That’s an example of my house, my rules, but I quickly learnt that if I tried to apply that indiscriminately to my children, I’d end up doing terrible damage to our relationship, and I’d also just be living with an awful atmosphere at home, 24/7.
Then, one of the kids went through a very rebellious stage (as a reaction to a lot of very difficult things we were going through, as a family) – and started staying out until 4am davka.
In effect, she was living according to: ‘her house, her rules’, and it was very hard for everyone else to cope with it.
After a few months, and a lot of praying (and a lot of figuring out where I needed to apologise to my kid for contributing to the things that had made her so unhappy to be in the house), we were finally ready to get to the next stage, which was to work on our house, our rules.
Which is a very different beast, because instead of having one person acting like a domestic dictator, this version tries its best to listen to all point of views, and to come up with a compromise situation that is acceptable to all parties.
Part of doing that was to sit down, and tell the kid:
Kid, I get you need to go out. But, you need to get that when you go out, I don’t sleep, and if that happens too much, I get exhausted, and even ill. So, let’s sit down and figure out how we can arrange things so we both give way a little, and everyone is happy.
This is a tremendous skill for life.
And it’s one that the kids who grow up in an atmosphere of ‘my house, my rules’ just aren’t being taught.
So the pressure continues to build in the home, until the parents pack their children off to boarding school, or university, or the army, or for a trip around the world where the kid can ‘indulge’ all the things they wanted to do at home, but couldn’t.
And that’s a big part why so many people go completely off the deep end, in so many ways, when they finally leave the parental home.
Because there is no ‘limit’ to butt up against, and their evil inclination is pushing them to throw all caution to the wind, and to over-indulge in all those things they wanted to do at home, but couldn’t.
I’m not just talking about drinking alcohol, smoking, doing drugs, and other types of obvious ‘vices’. Clearly, lacking healthy boundaries, and being unable to police our own appetites and urges and crazy ideas to just not sleep for three days straight and only eat Haagen Daz for breakfast is not a healthy situation to be in, long term.
But the bigger problem is that these kids are being taught a very unhealthy paradigm of how to manage human relationships and disagreements which you can basically sum up as:
The winner takes all.
Whoever can impose their will on the other – whoever can make the biggest drama, the biggest threats, whoever is in a position of ‘power and authority’, that person can impose their will on the other person 100%.
And if you aren’t that person? Then you can expect to get totally crushed for as long as you are in that unhealthy relationship.
How can we resolve this problem?
Most of this attitude is being learnt in homes where ‘my house, my rules’ is strictly policed, with very little empathy for the kids’ point of view, or compassion for their different needs and wants.
The more a parent can ‘see’ and ‘hear’ where their kid is coming from, the more the lines of communication between parent and child will be kept open, and the greater the chances that a workable, healthy compromise will be found.
The paradigm shifts from my house, my rules, to OUR HOUSE, OUR RULES.
And that's so much better, for everyone involved.
Being able to have compassion and empathy for another person is the basis of good mental health. If we can really show our kids how that’s done – when we’re the ones in the position of ‘power and authority’ – that’s probably the biggest gift, and most useful life skill, we can give them.
And as an added bonus, our kids will hopefully still enjoy being in our homes (at least for visits!) and still enjoy our company well after they are 18 and independent.
All of us grew up on those fairy stories that involved an enchanted royal person being turned into some sort of frog, or toad, and who required their true love – usually another good-looking prince or princess – to rescue them by giving them a kiss.
As soon as that happened – voila! Instant hunk, instant supermodel, with impeccable manners, a great dress sense and daddy’s enormous fortune and 58 estates in the country.
But even in the middle of all those ridiculous fairy tales, there is a nub of truth, and something useful that we can prise out, and use to our own emotional and spiritual advantage.
Because today, all of us are walking around believing that really?
We’re a reptile.
We’re a frog.
We’re a toad.
Doesn’t matter how things look on the outside, deep-down on the inside, we think we’re green, ugly and cursed.
But that’s not true.
The famous Jewish mystic Rebbe Nachman of Breslov wrote a whole tale about a Lost Princess – i.e. the soul of every single one of us – and the trials and tribulations that each of would face, before we could rescue her from the palace of ‘no good’ and restore her to her rightful place.
So now, here’s where we going to mix things up in an interesting way, because a few weeks’ ago, I discovered an excellent potential short-cut to that whole ‘finding the lost princess’ process.
Before I tell you more about it, I just want to underline something:
Visualisations like the one I’m going to share with you work best when they’re done from a place of deep honesty. There are a lot of people out there who deep down believe they are a frog, but try to pretend that superficially, they’ve already found their lost princess (or prince).
The following visualization probably won’t work so well for them, because the key to getting it to work is transforming the frog into the princess / prince.
But if a person can’t accept that they really are relating to themselves as a frog in the first place, they can’t really do that.
It’s a staged process:
THE KISSING-THE-FROG VISUALISATION
It’s always best to do these visualisations in a place where you feel safe and secure, and where you won’t be interrupted by people or phones.
Think about your ‘inner frog’, and try and bring it to mind. What colour is it? How big is it? What is it sitting on, what is it doing?
Next, describe its behavior:
This is an angry frog.
It’s a spiteful frog.
It’s an ungrateful frog.
It's a lonely frog.
It's a scared frog.
It's a self-hating frog.
Now, walk over to that frog, and give it a kiss. (You can also give it a hug, and say kind words to it – whatever comes to you.)
Now, watch it transform into your lost princess.
If that doesn’t happen, ask your frog what’s blocking the transformation, and pay careful attention to the answer, as for sure it’ll be a big clue about what you may need to continuing work on, or some other insight you hadn’t realized before.
You can repeat this visualization as often as you want, until you finally get that frog to transform into the true princess / prince that’s really inside each one of us.
But as mentioned above, the key to pulling the transformation off is to stay alert for the ‘warts’ each time they surface. Acknowledge them, deal with them, then transform them. But whatever you do, don’t just ignore them and carry on pretending you’re perfect and have nothing else to fix or work on.
We’re all down here to work on improving our character.
With no exceptions.
When we’re little, everything in the world seems so much ‘bigger’ than it actually really is. How many times have we returned to a place we used to frequent as a child that used to seem so much larger than life when we were little, only to find it strangely shrunken down into nothing so special?
That ‘big-ness’ we experience is part of the magic of childhood, in some ways, but it can also lead to some big issues as adults, if we were never taught how to handle the ‘big-ness’ of our problems and fears by a caring adult.
A kid, left to themselves and their own imagination, will always imagine the worst, and fear the worst.
If a parent is late returning one night, and there is no caring adult on hand to help the kid express what’s bothering them, and then to teach them how to ‘self soothe’ and to manage their feelings of anxiety down, that kid will spend the whole night fearing the parent got murdered on the way home, God forbid.
(I had this fear a lot, as a kid, and then when I was a mum, it transferred itself to worrying about my kids, and I’ve had to do a whole bunch of work on it, for years, to shrink it down to anything approaching ‘manageable’.)
Or, say the kid has a headache. If they aren’t given the help required to really acknowledge that pain in a calm way, they’ll start fantasizing that they’ve got a brain tumor, God forbid, or some other serious and potentially fatal illness.
All the hypochondriacs out there, this is how it got started!
The ‘big’ fears and anxieties we had in childhood were never calmed down, explained away, soothed or shrunk by the adults in our lives, so our childhood brain took over the job of providing the commentary on what was really happening – and it made even the smallest mole hills seem like the biggest mountains.
So now, we’re adults. And now, life is full of issues and problems and challenges at every turn. And it’s full of yucky, spiteful and difficult people. And unreasonable expectations.
And we’re still trying to deal with all this stuff with the childish, primitive part of our brain that is completely overwhelmed by the ‘big-ness’ of everything it has to deal with and process.
So how does it react to all this?
It over-reacts. It goes ballistic at the drop of a hat. It runs away from every hint of a problem, or freezes up and goes blank, or reaches for the bottle, or the pills, or the internet.
And that’s totally understandable. But it’s not the ideal way of dealing with the challenges of life, especially if you actually want to be able to have calm, loving and nurturing relationships with other people, and to feel happy, satisfied and coping.
So what’s the answer?
At its most basic, it’s this: Try to make as many thing as possible ‘no big deal’.
To put this another way, it’s the art of trying to relate to life as an adult, and not from the mindset of a scared and anxious small child.
And this is really going to take some work, believe me.
Especially in today’s politically-correct world, where making things into a big deal has been raised to an art form.
But here’s what you should know about all those yucky people who are so quick to start escalating small mistakes, small mis-judgements, small errors into the biggest of ‘big deals’:
They are very immature personalities.
They literally never grew up. They are still stuck in a world-view that was formed in early childhood, and that has never expanded, developed or matured since.
And this is how crazy people think.
And we can’t let ourselves get caught up in that warped, dramatic, OTT view of things.
So, we forgot someone’s birthday, and they are going ballistic. It was a mistake, and mistakes happen. The upset person also sometimes forget important dates and events. This is actually not such a big deal.
So, you don’t want to invite a particular person to your dinner party. You don’t have to always invite them to your events and functions. It’s ok to see other people, mix in other groups. This is actually not such a big deal.
So, my kid didn’t get into the right school, or didn’t want to go to college, or wants to go around the world for a year, against my will. This is actually not such a big deal.
Ditto, for that weird ache you keep getting in your shoulder, ditto that you can’t afford to live in the neighborhood you really like, ditto that your latest project at work was a massive failure.
Stuff happens all the time that we don’t like, and that inconveniences us and upsets us and that can make life stressful and miserable for us.
This is life.
But the key to going with the flow, and coping, and still feeling happy most of the time, is to just keep playing down the things that are occurring, and to approach life as much as possible as a grown-up.
It’s not easy, it takes a lot of practice, and a lot of getting God involved in the process of trying to ‘grow ourselves up’, but the benefits are so tremendous. If you don’t know where to start, go HERE to take a look at all the articles and practical tips I’ve put up about C-PTSD.
I know, so many of us are addicted to that drama and excitement and rush of experiencing everything as ‘big’. And there is still a place for ‘big’ in our lives.
Just not at other people’s expense.
And not at the expense of our own peace of mind and health and happiness.
We can’t keep squandering all the energy required for a huge response on all those myriad, day-to-day small things. Because energy is finite, and there are far better things we could be using it for.
A little while ago, I was having a chat with a friend when she said something that instantly triggered me into ‘fight’ mode. Before I even knew what was going on, I found myself arguing, feeling upset, and generally having that yucky inner feeling that happens when you’ve been tripped-back into a flashback.
I apologized while I was actually having the reaction, and I acknowledged something deep was going on, on my side of the fence, that I needed to go away and look at.
(We often can’t help getting triggered into flashbacks. If we’re around people who are triggering us a lot, that usually means those people aren’t so good for us, and we shouldn’t spend a lot of time with them. But occasionally, even nice people who we have good relationships with can set off a FIGHT / FLIGHT / FREEZE / FAWN response.)
So, I came off that call, and I started wondering to myself:
What on earth just happened there? Why’d I get so upset?
My friend had told me some information that she’d heard from someone else – a speaker – that she really related to, but which sounded plain wrong to me. I went to check up the facts, first of all, and nothing I turned up suggested the speaker’s facts were correct.
That’s not so unusual, especially in our world of ‘fake news’. So, why did I take it so hard?
After doing some more digging, I realized that the subject we’d been talking about is something I’ve discussed quite a bit with my friend, and that I’ve had ‘opinions’ on – opinions that clearly she doesn’t so like, or really agree with.
So, when she quoted this speaker to me, who appeared to be saying things that contradict some of what I’ve given over, I took it as a personal attack. Not consciously, but subconsciously. I got ‘triggered’ into that childhood attitude of being the kid that no-one listened to, the kid that people mocked and bullied, the kid that had strange ideas that were just too ‘out there’.
Ok, this was useful. So now, what do I do with the piece of information? I had a chat to God about it, and I got this back:
Rivka, you feel like a loser when you get the impression that people are ignoring what you say, or trying to make you ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.
Of course, this happens a lot, because so much of what I write is not standard, and often doesn’t conform to the ‘normal’ view of things. Being criticized for holding different views is par for the course if you’re going to write about anything – anything at all – that’s really meaningful to people.
So why the over-reaction with my friend?
It’s because you thought you were in a ‘safe space’, that’s why it hit you so hard.
Again, there was nothing particularly wrong with my friend’s reaction – she wasn’t overtly having a go at me, or saying anything horrible. She was just recounting how this information had given her a different view of things, and that view just apparently clashed with mine.
I did some more digging, and discovered that the ‘loser’ thing and the ‘know it all’ thing are two sides of the same coin. When I start to feel like a loser, I often take refuge in putting together research or posts from that stance of being an arrogant ‘know it all’, instead, to try to counter it.
So then I asked God:
What can I do, to continue putting useful information out there that will help others, but without getting too over-invested in it, personally, and writing from a place of arrogance?
The response I got back is to try to write more from a place of happy humility.
Because it really is a privilege to be able to write about important subjects, and to be able to pull so much research together and digest it, and then package it together in a way that other people can get hold of it easily, too.
Because being able to do the research doesn’t make me infallible, or right about everything, or obligate other people to agree with my conclusions. And when they disagree, that also doesn’t make me a ‘loser’.
If I can internalize this, I’ll have the energy to keep writing, without having to worry about turning into an arrogant ‘know it all’ who tries to brow-beat everyone into agreeing with me, just so that I don’t have to deal with feeling ‘bad’ and rejected. And, I also won’t feel like a ‘loser’ who just wants to give up when I hit a small obstacle.
We’re back to that energized stability idea, again.
It’s hard work, all this working on our internal dimension stuff, isn’t it?
But the alternative is to go through life hurting other people’s feelings, alienating friends and family members and destroying the world instead of trying to build it up.
So, the work continues.