If you’re like most people on planet earth, you probably haven’t been feeling so hot the last few weeks. The more sensitive you are to space weather – i.e. how the sun’s rays, and the cosmic rays interact with planet earth and human health – the more ucky, strange, light-headed, spaced-out, wired-up or just plain weird you’ve probably been feeling.
In this post, I want to try to set out a little more clearly how the same factors that are leading to increased seismic activity is also affecting your brain, your mood, your ability to sleep at night and even, your physical health.
In recent weeks, volcanic explosions, large earthquakes and freak weather events have been multiplying across the globe. God is the main reason all this is happening, and the force majeure behind it all, but the way in which God is probably doing this is via the interaction between cosmic rays and silica.
Magma contains a ton of silica. People also require silica to produce collagen and bone - and collagen is a semi-conductor. To quote EFT guru Dawson Church:
"Semiconductors are not only able to conduct energy, in the way the wiring system in your house conducts electricity very quickly from one point to another. They are also able to conduct information; think of your high-speed Internet connection. Besides many other properties, semiconductors are also able to store energy, amplify signals, filter information, and move information in one direction but not in another.
"In other words, the connective tissue system can also process information, like the semiconductor chips in your computer. Your connective tissue system is well suited for the task of conveying both energy and information, because it connects every part of your body to every other part.”
The sun’s rays and cosmic rays are a form of radiation, or energy, that is vibrating at a particular wavelength, and that electronic ‘vibration’ is interacting with planet earth in a whole bunch of ways that we haven’t even really begun to understand.
People are electric.
What that means is that the human body is governed by an electrical system so sensitive, and so finely tuned, that even small changes in these ‘vibrations’ can have a huge impact on the hormones our bodies’ create, and on how much ‘stress we feel, subliminally or otherwise, and also what substances our cells secrete.
What brings all these things together is the human pineal gland, which is a tiny, grain-of-rice-shaped endocrine gland located in the brain ‘behind the eyes’. The pineal gland is responsible for producing a number of very important substances and hormones, including serotonin and melatonin.
Melatonin is responsible for regulating a number of the body’s most crucial biological rhythms, including our sleep cycles and ‘circadian rhythms’. As a very general rule, the body produces more melatonin when the pineal gland is exposed to light, and stops producing it when exposed to darkness. Melatonin also plays a crucial role in protecting our nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
(I.e. the stuff that can cause mutations and other genetic ‘changes’ – both good and bad – in the human body.)
Now, are you ready for the leap into some really cool stuff?
Scientific researchers have found that the pineal gland acts as a kind of ‘way station’ or link between the external environment, and the body’s network of internal systems. To quote the study:
“The pineal gland takes environmental information and converts it into chemical and electrical signals within our bodies. It converts light, temperature and magnetic environmental information into neuroendocrine signals that regulate and orchestrate body functions. It regulates our internal clock—determining our daily sleep–wake patterns and influencing our broader lifetime rhythms.”
The researchers also suggest that the pineal gland is the ‘physiological interface’ between body and mind, and the ‘gatekeeper’ enabling people to access their more spiritual side, and the spiritual dimension.
The study continues that the pineal gland is responsible for taking:
“…various forms of energy, such as light, sound, electromagnetism and the putative energy behind the healing effects of prayer,” and translating them “into electrical and chemical signals within our bodies.”
THE LINK WITH EARTHQUAKES ETC, AND SPACE WEATHER
In 1998, New Scientist published a study showing that the sun’s electromagnetic activity (i.e. the charged particles that make up the solar wind) affect the human electromagnetic field, in a similar way to how it affects the earth’s magnetic field, or magnetosphere.
There are two ways humans are being affected by the sun. In times of greater activity (also called ‘solar maximums’), the sun will typically eject much more energy towards the earth, via things like CMEs, or coronal mass ejections. These are huge bursts of energy that when they hit planet earth, can lead to symptoms like headaches, mood swings, sleep disturbances, mood swings and a general feeling of being unwell.
Then, in time of very low sunspot activity, called ‘solar minimums’, the solar wind from the sun decreases, which in turn weakens the earth’s magnetic shield and enables more of the cosmic rays (i.e. energy waves) from other bodies in the universe, such as stars, comets and other planets to bombard the planet.
Again, there is hard science (if you can call it that) that links cosmic rays – which are NOT the same as the sun’s rays – to much greater perturbation of silica molecules in magma. Greater perturbation = more chemical reactions going on = more magma on the move, = more volcanic explosions and more and bigger earthquakes.
The effects that cosmic rays have on human health are barely on the radar for ‘hard science’, but we can certainly say that levels of UVA, UVB and UVC are also on the rise – often in a very dramatic way – during solar minimums.
We are currently in a solar minimum that is shaping up to be one of the most ‘quiet’ periods of sun activity for 200 years.
That is why the volcano and earthquake activity is picking up, and that’s also why more and more of us are feeling ‘weird’, ill, or strangely emotional.
Once again, the pineal gland is hugely affected by the earth’s electromagnetic activity. Other studies show that during solar storms and other times of dramatic electromagnetic activity, the pineal gland will produce abnormal amounts of melatonin – and this can has some severe affects on human health.
THIS is a good article, to get an idea of the sort of health issues that occurred for a swathe of people back in 2015, when there was a massive solar storm. Here’s an excerpt:
“The type of intense solar activity we’ve been experiencing this week can have serious effects on: the central nervous system, the stomach lining, all brain activity (including equilibrium), along with human behavior and all psycho-physiological (mental-emotional-physical) responses. This can manifest as nervousness, anxiety, worrisomeness, the jitters, dizziness, shakiness, irritability, lethargy, exhaustion, short term memory problems, heart palpitations, nausea, queasiness, prolonged head pressure, and headaches.”
I’m willing to bet a whole bunch of the people reading this have been experiencing at least some of these symptoms, over the last few weeks.
THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION
Usually, I don’t go on so much about the spiritual dimension to all the spiritual self-help stuff, but I’m going to make an exception in this post.
As we said earlier, God is the prima facie cause for all of these things happening. There is a lot of potentially disturbing things happening in the world, and the growing sense of unease is coming both internally, from our biological rhythms being affected electromagnetically, and also by the increasingly erratic and powerful freak weather, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
(Not to mention politics, wars, economic issues and all the other more mundane things
The pineal gland is the most pronounced ‘link’ between body and soul.
The more spiritually-aware a person is, the more God-awareness they have, the more they are trying to work on overcoming their negative character traits, and trying to God what He really wants, the smoother this current period of time is going to be.
The more understanding we have about body-mind-soul being linked, the smoother this process is going to be, and the more we’ll be picking up God’s cues about what we need to work on and change.
Right now, God is creating a set of circumstances that are practically guaranteed to set off everyone’s ‘stress response’ – and its attendant negative emotions and bad character traits - in a very unmissable way.
Fear, anger, anxiety, hysteria, depression, panic, hatred – all that stuff is going to be rising to the surface at the moment.
God is doing that so we recognize we still have a lot of issues to work on and work through, and to encourage us to make Him part of the solution.
The people who get that message, and who make regular efforts to calm down their pineal gland via meditation, hitbodedut, prayer and other methods that connect us to God and to our spiritual dimension will weather this storm much easier, and come through in better shape.
And the people who don’t….
Well, it’s going to get more and more stressful. So it won’t be pretty.
I’ll write more about this, but in the meantime, there is a definite link between space weather, freak weather, earthquakes and volcanoes, and human mood, sleep patterns, wellbeing and physical health.
And so much of the impact that space weather has on us hinges around silica and the pineal gland.
If a real person showed up and started trying to fill your head with nonsensical doubts and worries; or started picking holes in everyone you know and everything you’re trying to do, you’d (hopefully) run away pretty fast.
Who wants to take advice from someone like that? Who wants to have someone like that in control of their decision-making processes and view of the world? The guy is nutso! So the first and crucial step to breaking free from the backseat driver is to stop automatically agreeing with everything he’s telling you.
How do we do this?
After we’ve spent a bit of time really noticing the sorts of things he says and when, and how we start to feel after listening to one of his monologues or rants, the next stage is to start challenging the argument.
Try this: When the backseat driver is trying to convince you of just how terrible a particular course of action is going to be, or why you really are the ugliest person in the world and you’re never going to get a girl-friend, start to challenge the narrative.
Think of all the ugly people you know in the world who are in a relationship right now - there’s millions and billions of them. So many people with bad skin, crooked teeth, excess poundage and terrible haircuts have found their other half. Many of them have a thriving home life and happy families.
Why couldn’t that be you too?
Warning: the backseat driver will not take to this at all kindly, especially at the beginning, and will try to cower you into silence by going into a big list of ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE WRONG WITH YOU.
“You don’t have the job or the bucks that guy’s got. You haven’t got his group of friends, or his batting average. You don’t know how to ski. You live in the wrong neighborhood. Your family is way more messed-up than his is. You come from a broken home and no-one ever loved you right…”
On and on it goes. And the key to withstanding the backseat driver’s onslaught and to finally breaking free from his control is to not take him seriously. Remember, you are dealing with a loony tune here, a nutjob.
This is not someone that you want or need to take advice or opinions from in any way, shape or form.
Again, the only reason that you’re listening to the backseat driver is because you and him are the same person. But that’s not true! The real you, the true you, is so much wiser, smarter and nicer. And we’re going to learn how to get the backseat driver out of the picture so that real you can start to find their voice, hold on.
Because the real you is the only expert you really need, and the only source of advice you should really be listening to.
So, how you can tell the difference? Understanding when it’s the backseat driver talking or when it’s the real you talking is the key to starting to think straight, and starting to tune out all the chaos, upset and ‘noise’ that the backseat driver, or BSD, is filling our minds with.
Yes I can see, just keep backing up. You’ve got plenty of room behind you.
You should just drive down to Eilat; it’s so much easier than flying.
You should dye your hair blond.
You should dye your hair black.
You should take the overnight bus — its 11 hours but you’ll sleep practically the whole time.
Just glue it back together. She'll never notice the difference.
Tango Orange is a perfect shade for your bedroom, because it’s so happy!.
You can’t get chicken pox twice.
Don’t bother checking where it is on a map, I'm sure it's really easy to find
Shake it off. It doesn’t look broken and a sprain actually hurts worse than a break.
They always put the sell-by date really early, so people will throw it away and buy more.
Go running later, when it’s dark — that way the park will be less crowded.
You don’t need an electrician for that — just do it yourself.
You shouldn’t eat more than a couple of grapes at a time, it’s so easy to over-do it with fruit.
Next time the chatter starts up, with all its doubts and judgment calls, ask yourself if the backseat driver is qualified to give you his advice on this matter?
If you’re trying to buy a new sofa, what does this guy know that you don’t? Does he work in the business? Did his grandparents craft sofas by hand back in the old country? Is he a fine furniture connoisseur?
Nope? So don’t listen.
It’s not coming from a credible source.
If someone asked you to describe yourself, what would you say?
Most people will answer by talking about their career:
“I work for a multi-national company.”
“I manage 500 people.”
“I’m looking for a job.”
“I’m studying at Harvard University.”
“I’m an investor.”
“I’m a stay at home mother.”
“I own 139 properties.”
Some people define themselves as ‘victims’, just the product of their circumstances:
“I always do everything for everyone but all I get in return is being [turned on / shunned / criticized / abused / made to feel bad / taken for granted, etc].
“I’m a survivor.”
“I’m a single mother raising my children alone.”
Other people will define themselves by a particular character trait:
“I’m an introvert.”
“I’m a nerd.”
Some people will define themselves by their marital status, especially if they’re divorced or widowed.
Still others will define themselves by their religious beliefs:
“I’m an atheist.”
“I’m an orthodox Jew.”
And then you’ll find those who don’t know how to answer the question, so they try to dodge it:
“I’m nobody special.”
“I don't know.”
“I’ve never really thought about it.”
“Isn't it the eternal question as Paul Gauguin beautifully depicted ? “ Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
But are any of these responses really capturing the true beauty, the true essence of who you really are?
Even if you answered very fully:
“I run a successful accountancy practice in Connecticut, and my hobbies include writing free verse and playing the oboe. I’m married to a wonderful woman - my second marriage - and we have two teenager children. I’m a big believer in an open economy, I usually vote Republican, I’m quite a deep personality who thinks a lot about the meaning of life and often worries that I’m not quite doing what I should be with my life, and my favorite author is Thomas Hardy.”
Ok, so that’s a pretty [full] response, but if we’re honest, we can see that it doesn’t really capture the essence of a person.
So who are we, really?
There’s a short answer to that question which will do for now, but we will get into the longer and more complex answer a little later on, but slowly slowly. We can’t move too fast with this stuff without triggering off an all-out war from the backseat driver who’s got us all fooled that he is really us.
So for now, let’s try to define who we are by who we aren’t.
We aren’t our jobs.
People change jobs all the time, housewives become CEOs, car mechanics become taxi drivers, lawyers become authors or chefs. Especially in today’s hustle economy, no-one can really define themselves by their job even in the short-term, because the job, and the role a person performs in society is constantly changing and evolving.
So we aren’t our jobs.
We aren’t our circumstances.
There are so many rags-to-riches stories out there, and probably even more riches-to-rigs stories. Today’s front page socialite who has the world at her feet could so easily be tomorrow’s washed-up drug addict who’s continuing to sell copies of the National Enquirer for very different, unglamorous reasons.
Circumstances can and do change. And this tends to be the rule, not the exception in our lives. Sometimes, we perceive those changes as positive, like when we move up the property ladder to a bigger house, or when we get a promotion, or get some other lucky break, or enjoy some other delicious moment of serendipity when our circumstances fill us with joy.
But if you define yourself as a loser and a victim, or as a winner and a superman, then what happens to you when your circumstances change?
Let’s consider the case of Christopher Reeve, the powerfully-built actor who embodied the conventional idea of how a ‘superman’ should look and how he should act. On screen, Reeve was the caped crusader with supernatural powers who used his physical prowess and really handy flying abilities to save the world from baddies and natural disasters.
Off-screen, Reeve seemed to carry a lot of his character with him, and was a highly-successful, attractive and physically active man. Until that fateful day when he had a terrible accident whilst riding his horse and broke his neck.
Overnight, the muscular, powerful ‘superman’ turned into a total quadriplegic, almost entirely reliant on other people to help him do even the simplest things in life like eat and get dressed.
Most people would have been absolutely crushed in this enormous reversal in their circumstances. But Reeve wasn’t most people, and he rose to the challenge of expressing the essence of who he really was in completely different, non-physical terms.
For the decade of life that remained to him after his accident, Reeve was a tireless campaigner for disability rights and for disabled people.
It’s maybe the biggest irony of his life that he pulled off his most heroic role, and the biggest positive and lasting impact on the world, when he was physically paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.
A superman indeed.
But the point is, we aren’t our circumstances. Whether or not you have wealth, health, good fortune, a big house, good looks, loads of friends, physical prowess, intellectual abilities - all of those things can and do change from day to day, sometimes subtly, and often less so.
So we aren’t our circumstances.
We aren’t our collected personality traits, either.
While this has the surface appearance of being a little closer to capturing the real essence of who we are, it’s still got the same limitation that applies to the other answers we’ve discussed: people’s personalities can and do change over time.
If a person is continually trying to work on themselves, and continually trying to uproot negative character traits, beliefs and behaviors, overtime their personalities will become more sparkly, spiritually shiny and beautiful.
And if we’re not trying to do that work, than typically overtime, our backseat driver will keep diverting us down more and more emotional dead-ends and black holes, and we’ll increasingly find ourselves sharing a ride with more and more feelings of anger, bitterness, resentments and regrets.
Which doesn’t make for a nice day out, by any measure.
So when some people say things like: “I’m just an angry person”, what they’re really trying to do is control their environment by getting themselves stuck in a persona that actually, really isn’t the true them.
“Watch out, I’ll get angry if you try to pull me out of my comfort zone, or expect me to change how I see the world, or react to things!”
It’s like posting a ‘Beware Dog’ sign on your perimeter. Statements like this are warning shots to try and keep people away from the real essence of who you are.
But guess what: you really aren’t the person who’s sticking those signs up - the backseat driver is.
And plenty of angry people calmed down and stopped been so aggressive and edgy once they learnt where their feelings of anger were really coming from, and how to deal with them properly.
And most importantly of all, when they realized that calling themselves ‘an angry person’ actually didn’t’ reflect the true reality of who they really are.
When you give your child a loving hug, are you an angry person?
When you say sorry to a friend for forgetting to calm them on their birthday, are you an angry person?
When you make a huge effort to cook a nice meal for your family, are you an angry person?
The honest answer has to be no. In that moment, with that action, you aren’t being an angry person at all.
So then, who are we, really?
If we’re not the guy in the backseat, and we’re not a collection of our successes, failures, job descriptions and labels, then who are we, really?
Who we really are:
Who we are is expressed in our collective impact on the world, both for the good and for the bad.
These days, it seems like you need a bunch of letters after your name to have a right to an opinion on anything.
“You can’t eat carbs for breakfast! The latest research shows that eating carbs for breakfast will severely impact your digestive system and make you sluggish and slow the whole day.”
“But, I really like my Weetabix…”
“Who are you to have an opinion like that?! What’s your alma mater? What do you know, really? I’m telling you that carbs are bad for breakfast - and I’ve devoted the last 10 years of my life to researching this issue - and you’re still telling me that you enjoy wheat-based cereals first thing in the morning?! Why should I take you seriously? Who are you, to be arguing against the science?”
All the experts out there are pretty busy these days telling us what to eat for optimal gut health, and what gloopy stuff to smear on our skins to combat wrinkles, or zits, and how to raise our kids so they won’t turn into psychos.
The list goes on and on.
Uhoh. Here comes one now.
“Wait a minute, who gave you permission to write about all this emotional health stuff? Where’s your credentials? Where did you study? Who are you, anyway?!”
Hopefully, we’ll get to a much deeper answer to that question as this series of posts unfolds, but you should know that regardless of all the experts out there who are trying to convince you that you can’t so much as pick up a pair of slacks or buy a new toothbrush without their ‘expert’ advice and opinion, really there is only expert you should be listening to on a regular basis: yourself.
Not because you have a million shiny PhD diplomas hanging on your wall (although that’s nice if you do); and not because you’re a self-made millionaire, or a fashion icon, or a pillar of society, or because you happen to bake the best pecan pie this side of the Atlantic.
All that stuff is nice, sure, but the reason you are the real expert about your own life is because you got given that job to do, and every ability you need to carry it off properly. This book isn’t about teaching new truths or new wisdoms that you’ve never heard of before. It’s about revealing that truth deep inside of yourself that you actually already know and recognize to be your own.
Really, you know better than anyone else in the world what you should be doing with yourself, what’s good for you, what you should be aiming for and getting the heck away from. And you for sure know what to have for breakfast.
So this series of posts isn’t so much a journey of discovery as a journey of helping you to reclaim what is already yours, and to find what you already possess deep within.
More and more of us are starting to wake up to the fact that the information we consume may have just as much of an impact on our mental and physical health than the food and other substances we’re ingesting.
There are a lot of similarities between the way we consume food, and the way we ‘consume’ information online.
The healthier, more wholesome sources of information and help on the net can truly help us to nourish ourselves spiritual, and can feed the appetite we have for information and advice in a fulfilling, positive way.
Those are the sites that are routinely useful and calming, without trying to ‘hard sell’ you anything, rope you in to anything, scare the pants off you about anything. In short, about 2% of the sites you’ll find online (maximum).
SO MANY YUCKY SITES OUT THERE...
Then, there’s the other end of the spectrum - the sites that are encouraging and promoting the worst types of behavior in humanity, like online porn, DIY build-your-own bomb sites, sites encouraging teenagers to commit suicide, of people to gamble their life-savings and homes away online.
These sites are more like crack cocaine than foodstuffs, because even evil substances like MSG don’t really come close to the damage viewing sites like this can do to a person’s psyche and overall sense of health and wellbeing.
Thank God I’m not in that world, and I have a couple of strong filters to try to help me stay out of that online version of hell on earth, so I have no idea what percentage of the internet these types of sites account for. But sadly, it’s a lot.
And then, there’s all the sites that are in between, ranging from mildly helpful but still a complete waste of time, through to sites full of profane language and demeaning behaviors that aren’t quite illegal, but are still really, really awful.
In so many ways, the world would be a better place without the internet, but for now we’re stuck with it - at least, if we want to pay our bills, find out what’s going on in our kids’ schools and be able to buy things conveniently or make cheap calls abroad.
(And of course, if we need to work on it, which is the biggest reason I’m still stuck in front of a screen much more than I’d like to be.)
HELPFUL GUIDELINES TO REGULATE WHAT WE CONSUME ONLINE
So then, how can we ensure we’re consuming more of what’s good for us, and much less of what isn’t?
I was pondering this myself, and I’ve come up with a few guidelines that are helping me tremendously, and that BH will also help you too to ensure that more of the ‘wholesome’ and healthy sites are making it into your daily internet diet.
It’s very useful to approach the internet as you would food.
The first thing to do is to divide your internet use into two categories: necessary and unnecessary.
Necessary is work, paying bills, checking PTA notices, printing off a Google map etc - anything that has to be done, and that can only be done online.
Consider this to be your internet staples, the bread and butter of your time online.
Next, take a look at your unnecessary list.
This is where the real work can begin, in two stages. Stage 1 is to divide these sites into ‘helpful’ and ‘unhelpful’ sites. The definition of ‘helpful’ I’m using here is very simple:
does it make you feel cheerful, filled-up and inspired, when you read it? Does it give you real, practical information you can use in your real life, or just panic-inducing superficial soundbytes?
It can be hard to figure out what site is ‘helpful’ and what isn’t, especially initially, because so many of the unhelpful sites are actually strongly addictive, so we get an initial burst of ‘great’ when we log-on, but that feeling tends to sour very quickly.
CHEMICALLY ADDICTIVE, OR REALLY ENJOYABLE?
Again, it’s useful to use a food analogy. Sometimes, we just need that bar of chocolate, that scoop of ice-cream, especially if we’re using it as a coping mechanism or a form of self-soothing. An occasional splurge on sites that aren’t ‘crack cocaine’ is fine, and won’t kill anyone.
But if all you’re doing online is consuming the internet equivalent of candy bars and big bottles of coke? Then sooner or later you’re going to start feeling very, very ill, mentally and spiritually.
So for now, go slow, and just pay attention to how you really feel after you’ve read a site. What sites do you look forward to, and why? What sites are ‘addictive’, what sites do you feel compelled to read almost against your will - the same way a binge eater just has to raid the fridge late or night, or finish every crumb of the gateau?
This stage can take a few weeks or even months, so don’t rush it, and treat yourself very nicely while you’re going through this process of trying to streamline your internet intake. No guilt trips, no beating yourself up, no harsh judgments about your viewing habits.
Just plenty of self-compassion, patience and asking God for help to show you what’s going on and why.
GIVE UNHELPFUL SITES THE HEAVE-HO
Once you’ve really managed to pin-down the helpful and unhelpful sites, you can move on to the next stage: block the unhelpful sites.
Now, don’t panic! I’m not saying you can never, ever, ever see that particularly poisonous Facebook page you’re addicted to. All I’m saying is list your unhelpful sites with something like ‘Block Site’, which is a free add-on for Chrome users.
You can change the settings on it at anytime, so if your urge to splurge online gets too much for you (it happens…) you can indulge it for 5 minutes, remember why you blocked that site in the first place, and return back to your healthy internet diet.
Go HERE to download the BLOCK SITE plug-in for Chrome, and let me know how you get on.
I installed it last week, and I’m already noticing that my internet habits have got so much better. Little
by little, I’m spending much less time online, and more time in my ‘real’ life doing ‘real’ things with real people that really bring me more pleasure and contentment.
A last tip for the news addicts out there (I’m also one, which is how I know all this stuff about you…): block the images on the news sites you regularly visit, and you find you’ll be able to get your ‘news fix’ much faster, without disappearing down the latest bit of eye-candy’s appealing cleavage.
Again, try this for yourself, but blocking the pictures made a huge, huge difference to the pulling power these sites had on me - and I’m a lady!
So here’s to your healthy internet use, and BH, one day we’ll be able to go back to sending snail mail letters, reading magazines printed on proper paper and interacting with people in person again.
I, for one, can’t wait.
I used to struggle with huge feelings of insecurity about my size and appearance when I lived in London. It always seemed to me that ‘everyone else’ was the perfect size 10 (or size 6, if you’re American); that ‘everyone else’ had the perfect hair; that ‘everyone else’ knew how to dress stylishly, while yours truly just always seemed to be about as well put-together as a scarecrow.
But then, God gave me a little break and helped me to earn enough money that I could start buying clothes that were so well tailored, they could make anyone look svelte and stylish. Dressing expensively didn’t remove the problem of my low self-esteem and mega insecurity about my looks, but it helped me shift it on to the back-burner more often than not, which was a huge blessing.
When I moved to Israel, I hit a new clothing issue: none of my ‘stylish’ clothes really suited the hot weather of Israel, or the more ‘covered-up’ way religious Jewish women dress here. I have struggled with my clothing here for more than a decade, and every time I think I’ve finally worked out my style, or taste, either the shop closes down, or stops manufacturing long skirts in favour of mini-skirts, or fashion kills whatever nice skirts were being made last year.
That said, most of the time I don’t think so much about my clothing or appearance, and I very rarely have panic attacks about it these days.
Except for when people come and visit me from the UK.
And when those people also happen to be extremely wealthy, well-dressed, obsessed with labels and anti a ‘religious’ lifestyle, I find my anxiety shooting through the roof again.
I’m expecting a visitation from the UK shortly, and without realising it, it threw me back into a flashback of feeling like the fat, weirdly-dressed outsider again. But I didn’t realise what was going on until I came home in an extremely bad mood, because I couldn’t find anything to wear for the upcoming Pesach holiday.
I felt like everything made me look fat, or frumpy, or somehow not good enough, and that none of the headscarves would really ‘work’ for me etc. Man, I started to feel SOOOOO fat and icky, and then
I got very confused, because I couldn’t figure out how I got fat eating what I eat and doing what I do.
Even though I’m not a hardcore sprouted spelt person all the time these days, I’m still on the ‘healthier’ end of the scale, and I hate most sweet things (baring chocolate…) Could eating four ‘healthy’ chocolate biscuits and a bag of crisps on Shabbat make me fat?
Then, I started beating up on myself for not exercising enough because I can’t seem to get my life together, which segued into feeling bad that my house is so small, so I can’t really exercise at home the way I used to, which segued into me feeling like a complete, 100% loser in every area of life….
Long story short, by the time I got home I felt completely disgusting and horrible, and like I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow the whole mess called ‘my life’.
As I was moping on the couch, my poor husband decided to come home - and got a barrel right between the eyes. Why didn’t he tell me I’d got fat?!? How could he let me get so out of shape without mentioning anything to me?!? Why isn’t our house big enough for me to exercise in?!?! Why
can’t I afford designer clothes anymore?!?!?
The poor guy.
Another long story short, after hearing the whole story and seeing what a mess I was in, he was as bemused as I was.
“You’re really not fat,” he told me. “You’re the same size you always are.”
That’s what I’d thought too, until I went shopping this morning and couldn’t find a single thing to wear. As the meltdown continued, my husband suddenly had a brainwave.
“Rivka, you’re having a ‘flashback’,” he told me, rushing over to the fridge and grabbing the handy ‘flashback’ infographic-thingy I’d printed out and stuck there in one of my more lucid moments.
“This has nothing to do with now, and everything to do with how certain people used to make you feel back in the UK. You just ‘flashed back’ to how awful you felt THEN, and that’s why you’re feeling so bad NOW.”
Don’t you hate when the husband is right?
But right he was, and after five minutes, I begrudgingly acknowledged that he’d hit the nail on the head. I worked the flashback through, and I started to feel much lighter and happier again.
Just to be on the safe side, I also decided to cut back on the chocolate biscuits and to try to exercise a bit more as well, but today’s episode showed me two things:
1) Flashbacks can severely warp our sense of self, and our grasp of reality
2) Superficial, money-obsessed people from the UK (and elsewhere….) are really, really bad for me.
But at least now I know what’s going on, so I can stop ‘the flashback’ before it destroys my happiness and relationships.
The short answer is that TRAUMA CAN BE INHERITED.
There's two ways this can work. Way one is actually now the basis of a whole scientific field in and of itself known as epigenetics.
(Click the blue to go through to a simple explanation of what epigenetics is, in more detail.)
For the purposes of this blog, we can say this: only 2% of the information contained in our DNA is 'fixed'. The other 98% is changeable, and considerably affected by outside circumstances, especially traumatic or difficult circumstances that we - or close family members - experienced that wasn't processed, and got 'embedded' in the body somehow.
To give one example of this:
Say someone has a relative who went through the Holocaust. It's such an unspeakable tragedy, the person could never really access it or work it through. But their whole life can now be lived as a 'response' to what they experienced, i.e., they'll hoard food even if they're wealthy, they have a tremendous fear of bad things happening to people, they trust no-one, they are hyper-vigilant and always on guard for things to turn 'bad' or dangerous, etc.
These behaviours all trigger the stress response we've been discussing over the last few points, and very quickly, that person's physiology is 'hardwired' to react to the world as a scary, dangerous, horrible, traumatic place.
They then hand down these physiological 'reactions' to their descendants, who never went through the Holocaust but live their lives as though they did.
There's a great book called: "It didn't start with you: How inherited trauma can shape our lives and how to break the cycle" by Mark Wolynn that describes this phenomenon very nicely.
Here's the bumpf from the back of his book, which sums up what we're discussing here:
It Didn’t Start With You shows how the traumas of our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents can live in our unexplained depression, anxiety, fears, phobias, obsessive thoughts and physical symptoms—what scientists are now calling “secondary PTSD.”
Documenting the latest epigenetic research—how traumatic memories are transmitted through chemical changes in DNA—and the latest advances in neuroscience and the science of language, It Didn’t Start With You is an accessible and pragmatic guide to breaking inherited family patterns.
WHAT IS INHERITED FAMILY TRAUMA?
Simply put, many of us relive the tragedies from previous generations and rarely make the link.
Examples from the book include:
It didn't start with you - blog
THE SOUL DIMENSION TO C-PTSD
So, the physical mechanism of epigenetics - where the expression of our genes is changed by our circumstances and inherited trauma - is one way you can inherit C-PTSD. But the other way is 100% spiritual, and we'll talk about that in the next post.
One of the things that every good trauma counsellor has identified about people with C-PTSD (which remember, could well be most of us in 2017) is that they have a very strident, aggressive and unforgiving ‘inner critic’.
According to the more enlightened Western psychologists like Pete Walker (because the less enlightened ones are still peddling the myth that severe emotional problems are caused by chemical imbalances, and not reactions to severe trauma), this is how that poisonous ‘inner critic’ came about:
(The following is taken from Pete Walker’s website. Click HERE to see the full article):
Psychogenesis of the PTSD Critic
A flashback-inducing critic is typically spawned in a danger-laden childhood home.
When parents do not provide safe enough bonding and attachment, the child flounders in abandonment fear and depression.
Many children appear to be hard-wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism. This is true for both the passive abandonment of neglect and the active abandonment of abuse.
A prevailing climate of danger forces the maturing superego to cultivate the various psychodynamics of perfectionism and endangerment... When anxious perfectionist efforting, however, fails over and over to render the parents safe and loving, the inner critic becomes increasingly hyper-vigilant and hostile in its striving to ferret out the shortcomings that seemingly alienate the parents.
To put this into plainer English, Walker is describing that when a child doesn’t have the sort of ‘good enough’ emotionally-available parenting we described back in THIS POST, they are overwhelmed by internal fears, not least of which is the fear that they must have done something awful for their parent(s) to be ignoring them and / or maltreating them in this way.
If this situation continues for any length of time, the child tries to figure out what they’ve done to alienate the parents and / or make them so hostile, and comes up with the simplistic solution that if they can manage to be ‘perfect’, and to keep the parent happy at all costs, then the parents will notice them, love them and what them around.
Very quickly, this morphs into a hyper-vigilant ‘inner critic’ that is scared stiff of the dangerous consequences of failing to ‘be perfect’ or failing to ‘please’, which starts to berate the poor traumatized person day and night for their supposed shortcomings, failings and terrible flaws.
This ‘beating myself up and hating myself’ reflex is probably the single biggest source of suffering and pain that a person with C-PTSD experiences. While you can eventually shut out and remove external sources of criticism, hatred and contempt, when you’re carrying your own worst enemy around with you in your head, your suffering truly knows no bounds.
Now, this ‘inner critic’ is not a new concept for believing Jews; we’ve known for a long time that God created each and every one of us with an evil inclination whose main job in the world is to try and trip us up, depress us and really, plain just kill us. We also know that if God didn’t help us to deal with it, that’s exactly what it’d do to us!
But what’s interesting here is that the more enlightened branches of Western psychology are starting to figure out the physiology of the evil inclination.
Again, to put it in very simple terms, when a person grows up in a dangerously abusive and / or chronically neglectful home, their innate evil inclination is strengthened tremendously. Judaism teaches that a person doesn’t even get their counter-balancing ‘inclination for good’ until they reach the ages of 12, for a girl, or 13 for a boy.
So who is meant to be ‘balancing’ the child’s evil inclination up until this point? Answer: the parents!
But when that doesn’t happen, for whatever reasons, then the evil inclination’s hand is strengthened tremendously, and it can begin to run amok.
So, how can we start to tackle and overcome the ‘inner critic’?
Here’s my suggestions:
1. Educate yourself about what’s really causing your perfectionism and unreasonable self-anger, self-hatred and self-criticism. Even just taking notice of the voice of the ‘inner critic’ and tuning in to what it’s actually saying is a huge step forward. (You may want to write its nasty putdowns and criticisms down, especially at the beginning.)
2. Make a practice of relating to yourself with enormous heapings of self-compassion. The reason you feel so bad when you make mistakes, or when you don’t manage to be perfect, or when you do something wrong is because you’re a traumatized person with C-PTSD! So cut yourself some slack, and be kind to yourself. You’ve suffered enough from unreasonably harsh, unfair judgments.
3. Accept yourself unconditionally. This doesn’t mean that you can’t identify things to work on and improve (see the next point), but it does mean that you stop telling yourself that you’ll only be happy with yourself when you’ve achieved X. This is a lie that your inner critic is telling you, to keep you running after impossible perfection, and to keep you feeling bad that you haven’t yet achieved it.
4. Move away from making global statements about yourself as a person, to judging your individual actions and deed. No more calling yourself ‘retarded’, or ‘worthless’, or ‘useless’, or telling yourself that ‘you’ll never amount to much’ - or whatever phrases your own inner critic likes to use. Instead, examine your thoughts,actions and words over the last 24 hours on a case-by-case basis, to see if they were appropriate and reasonable, or require some improvement.
5. Don’t be scared to apologise to your spouses and children, if you discover you over-reacted about something. This is useful for two reasons: first, it starts to dismantle the unhelpful ‘perfection’ edifice that’s been built around you since your childhood, and that almost certainly is keeping the people you most love away from you. And secondly, admitting your faults in a healthy way is one of the single best things you can model to your kids, if you want them to grow up with good self-esteem
6. Talk to God for a fixed period of time every day (ideally up to an hour). The ‘inner critic’ is hardwired into the stress response that is housed in your lower, or ‘primitive’ brain. When you talk to God on a regular basis, you strengthen your frontal lobes, which is the part of the brain that can put the brakes on your knee-jerk ‘stress response’ reactions.
The stronger and healthier your frontal lobes are, the more your innate humanity and ‘higher self’ can shine through, and start to control your stress-response reactions, including the inner critic / evil inclination.
All of these six points can and should be examined and worked on regularly in your daily talking to God sessions.
The last thing to say is that the inner critic will never 100% disappear, because it’s a function of being a human being. Again, this is where even very enlightened psychologists like Pete Walker are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle, because while a traumatic upbringing certainly strengthens the hand of the inner critic, it didn’t bring it into being.
God did that.
So that we’d have the challenge of fighting it, and ultimately overcoming it. He knew that we need the ‘grit’ provided by the evil inclination / inner critic to really produce our spiritual pearls in life, and to truly become the amazing people we are destined to be.
So please, don’t set yourself an unreasonable goal of permanently conquering the inner critic, because I’m telling you now it’s doomed to fail. For now, we’re focusing on recognizing the voice of the inner critic, and choosing against all its perfectionism, criticism, self-contempt and blame-and-shame tactics to treat ourselves - and others - with more self-compassion and acceptance.
Over the last few years as I’ve been doing more and more research, in both Jewish and secular sources, about what’s causing the epidemic of emotional illness the world is currently engulfed in, I’ve discovered that ‘trauma’, that most over-used word, is at the heart of most people’s mental health problems.
While most people in 2017 probably have a rough idea that going through a disturbing, dangerous, or severely damaging experience can very well leave an emotional scar on a person’s psyche, most of us still have no idea what trauma actually is, what it actually does to people, or how it manifests itself in our everyday lives.
To try and fill that gap, I’ve decided to do a few posts on Spiritual Self-Help that explains all this stuff as simply as possible. I have a feeling that once more people start to get exposed to descriptions of trauma, and especially what’s called ‘Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’, or C-PTSD, in plain English, a bank-load of pennies may start dropping all over the place about what is actually causing so many of the problems in our own lives and families.
I’m deliberately going to keep these posts simple, easy to read, and brief.
The ideas themselves are big, and can require a lot of energy to digest. We’ll build each post, each definition up slowly, until hopefully you’ll have a whole picture of what trauma is, what it does, how it affects you, and what you need to do to start healing it and really enjoying your life again.
Today, let’s start with the first building block: What causes trauma?
Answer: The type of trauma that is severe enough to lead to emotional illnesses is caused by a life-threatening experience, or an ongoing chronic situation of mistreatment, neglect and abuse which causes the person (usually a child) to feel utterly helpless to defend themselves, and completely unprotected in what they perceive to be a dangerous world.
To put this in different words, trauma can be caused by:
I’d love your feedback on what would be helpful to you, so please drop me an email or leave me a comment with what could help you the most, on your own personal journey to better mental and emotional health.
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