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.
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.
If I had to try to sum up the pattern my life has fallen into in the fewest words possible, I’d have to say roller coaster.
You know, lots of ups, tons of downs – and very little in between.
There are no ‘plateaus’ in roller coaster rides. Either it’s hard graft to try to reach the top – but you can’t enjoy that high place for even a second, because before the back of the caboose has even made it up there, the front is already falling off a cliff.
While it definitely makes for a fun 10 minutes at the fun fair (although honestly? I can’t stand roller coaster rides in real life, and they make me want to throw up) trying to live a whole life like that can get pretty taxing on the nerves.
So, over the course of the last say, 40 years or so, what tends to happen is that I will put maximum effort in to chugging away at a project, a job, a goal – until I burn out and crash.
Or until 5 seconds after it’s completed, where subconsciously I’ll start casting around for the drama, the excitement again that’s going to stop my life from being ‘boring’.
Ah boring. We’ll talk more about boring in a minute.
And of course, to stick with the roller coaster ride, ‘excitement’ and drama happens when you’re whooshing downhill at a million miles an hour, and you don’t really know if you’re going to smash into a million pieces or not. On the roller coaster of life, that bit is never obvious, there’s no guarantee of a safe landing.
Back in university when I was going through a very tough time mentally, I went to see one of the student counsellors. To this day, I still don’t know if she was excellent at her job, or really, really awful. I sat down, I talked to her for about 10 minutes – and she flat came out and told me I was manic depressive.
So then, I smiled my fake smile, and ran out of that place as fast as my legs could take me.
Was she wrong?
But even then, getting yourself lumbered with a ‘diagnosis’ just meant being pressured to take pills and talk to a bunch of people who mostly went into psychology because they are completely crazy themselves.
No ‘normal’ person from a ‘normal’, mentally-healthy family is interested in psychology. People are nearly always drawn to that field because they are messed-up and broken themselves, and they are trying to figure out what went wrong in their own families, and how to fix it.
So anyway, the ‘manic’ and ‘depressed’ thing was with me for many long years, until I discovered the practice of talking to God in my own words for an hour a day, and then the ‘clinically depressed’ part started to go away.
What sped it along was understanding that C-PTSD and very unhealthy relationships was underneath the depressions, where I was basically flashing back in to a despairing FREEZE emotional response that was my ‘go to’ coping mechanism in childhood.
The manic also calmed down – a lot – and transformed into determined motivation to do stuff. That’s mostly a good thing, and a blessing. But in recent months, God has been giving me so many clues that I’m still living my life with an underlying roller coaster pattern. Subconsciously, I seem to be always craving that excitement and drama that comes with disastrous, awful, destructive ‘downs’.
Why is this?
This happens when you grow up in highly unpredictable circumstances, around people who could flip from nice to nasty in a nanosecond. That dangerous unpredictability acts on the brain like emotional crack. You experience things that are so intense and that feel so dangerous and out of control, that ‘normal life’ pales beside it.
It’s the same reason why people like extreme sports and bungee jumping. That moment when the rubber snaps back and they don’t bash all their brains out on the floor below is mega-exhilarating and often euphoric – it’s the ‘high’ that comes from that low place.
But you can’t live a productive life pinging from highs to lows, and from ups and downs.
You need to plateau, you need that place in between.
And even when your conscious brain is craving stability and routine, the subconscious brain that got addicted to drama and excitement in childhood is always there in the background, working on its next subconscious ploy to flip your life into chaos and madness again.
Last week, I went to speak to my One Brain lady about why I can’t seem to function in that in-between place, where so many blessings and wondrous things grow. Why can’t I get there, I wanted to know? Why am I stuck pinging backwards and forth, like I’m caught in some celestial bungee jump that never ends?
Again, I’ve worked on this issue a lot over the years, from a bunch of different angles, but what gave me extra urgency to really try to nail it, at least enough, was that I’ve realized I’m passing on my tendencies to my children. Our life has been so ‘dramatic’ the last few years, that I can see they are also starting to crave that sort of crazy excitement.
And that’s the last thing that I want for my kids.
So, to cut a long story short, we worked on a lot of things from childhood via One Brain and BodySpin, and I came out of that session feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. I’ve been pretty ill the last 2 weeks, and I know it’s all connected to trying to clean up all these deep, dysfunctional emotional states.
(It’s a post for another time, but inflammation in the body also affects the brain’s functioning, and can also be behind a lot of things that are often referred to as ‘mental illnesses’.)
But I also came out of that session knowing I had some hitbodedut homework to do, in my talking to God sessions. If I just plain aim for the ‘up’ the ‘high’, that is inevitably going to lead to the destructive down.
I need the middle place, the place where I’m neither totally apathetic and can’t be bothered with anything, or totally burning the candle at both ends to try to get things done and achieved. It’s only today that I realized where I’m actually aiming for: energized stability.
That’s the state I’m after. Where life is stable, and I’m not plunging myself down rabbit holes all the time just for the fun of it, but where I have energy and excitement and enthusiasm for life. And let’s be clear, I’ve never experienced that place in my whole life. I can’t get to it by myself, because I don’t know how to find it, where it is on the emotional map.
But God knows.
And I’m asking Him to show me how to make energized stability the touchstone of my life, going forward, just as a free present, just as a gift, in the same way He’s given me so many other emotional health presents.
None of us can pick the circumstances we’re born into, or how our brains happen to get hardwired into unhelpful patterns into unhelpful patterns when we’re younger.
But all this can change.
As long as we hold our hands up, admit we aren’t perfect, and get God involved in the process of fixing our problems.
After I wrote this post, I got a mental picture of what I’m really aiming at here: The highs and lows are competition, trying to be ‘the best’, trying to be the winner, the number one – and the flip side, of feeling like a ‘loser’, and the worst.
These are the ups and downs of the roller coaster.
Where I’m aiming at now is like a train chugging along the tracks at the bottom of these peaks and troughs. It’s low to the ground – representing humility. I’m not better than anyone else. But it’s also moving forward at a steady pace and covering a lot of ground. The engine isn’t straining to go uphill, and it’s not hurtling out of control on the descents.
It’s just moving steadily forward, at the bottom of the peaks.
Bring it on!
The answer is both absolutely yes, and absolutely not.
Why absolutely yes?
Firstly because so many people today have C-PTSD, whether they know it or not, that having typical C-PTSD reactions to life is really far more normal than most people still realize or understand.
C-PTSD doesn’t just happen when you experience terrible, overt abuse as a child, God forbid. As Pete Walker points out in his excellent book: Complex-PTSD, From Surviving to Thriving, sometimes the hardest cases of C-PTSD occur where no obvious child abuse was happening.
It’s just that the parents were…completely absent. AWOL, emotionally. It was a home, a family, where no-one ever really discussed feelings, where the emphasis was put on keeping up superficial appearances, where children (and everyone else) were always expected to swallow down their true feelings, their true thoughts, and to not rock the boat.
Often, these homes had some sort of tragic or difficult circumstances, or some enormous loss that had been experienced in the past, that had been swept under the rug, and which no-one wanted to talk about or discuss.
So the kids grew up in this hermetically-sealed ‘plastic’ atmosphere where they picked up the very strong unspoken message that having feelings, or trying to express your inner dimension, or talking about anything more than very superficial subjects, was dangerous, somehow, and should be completely avoided.
The best way I can think of to try to put across what happens in these types of homes is via Stromae’s video for ‘Papaoutai’ (‘Where are you, dad?’), in the post below, where the kid is trying so, so hard to pierce through the parent’s ‘plastic’ exterior – but in the end gives up, and becomes an unfeeling robot himself.
THE RISE OF THE SCREEN
Screens compound the problem of emotional neglect and emotional absenteeism, and also cause it. The compound it, because when people feel uncomfortable ‘being them’ around other people, they take refuge behind the screen – the TV, the internet, the text message or tweet.
But of course it also causes the problem, because when a parent is so wrapped up in the SCREEN, they have no time or attention to spare for the kid, who then experiences an emotionally AWOL parent, and in turn grows up with C-PTSD issues caused by emotional neglect.
So, part one is: most people today have some form of C-PTSD, whether they realise or not, and that is what is behind most people’s mental and emotional difficulties today.
So, you’re in good company!
Part Two: Let’s look more at whether someone with C-PTSD can live a ‘normal’ life.
The answer is yes and no.
If you understand that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ for anyone, and that each of us are unique, and that each life will run along it’s unique course, then it stands to reason that you can’t live a ‘normal’ life – and neither can anyone else.
But, if you’re talking more about whether you can still live a fulfilled and satisfying life; and whether you can get to a point where you can diminish the C-PTSD enough to really start enjoying life and being happy, and fulfilling your potential – then the answer is definitely yes.
Again, it’s hard to really go into massive details on a Quora answer, so let’s try to boil things down, to give concrete, solid steps of how to do this, as briefly as possible.
1) GET EDUCATED ABOUT WHAT REALLY CAUSED THE C-PTSD, AND HOW IT’S AFFECTING YOU IN MYRIAD WAYS
The single best way of doing this is to read Pete Walker’s excellent book.
It can be hard reading – and I personally don’t agree with Pete’s approach of keeping hold of his anger against his parents long-term (more on this in a moment) – but Pete does an unparalleled job of explaining the different types of dysfunctional family dynamics that actually cause C-PTSD.
And, he does an excellent job of explaining how most of the ‘melt-downs’ that C-PTSD people have, where they get whooshed back into some very negative and hard-to-deal with states of mind are actually just flashbacks to a child-hood state of mind that was never properly processed.
Pete gives a lot of practical tools to show you how to start processing these ‘undigested’ emotional states, and if you follow his instructions, you will start to see a lot of the C-PTSD symptoms start to abate and diminish in both frequency and intensity.
2) LEARN HOW TO LET GO OF YOUR ANGER AT PARENTS (and the others who hurt you), AND FORGIVE
I can’t stress enough, that stage 2 can only be attempted once you’ve 100% internalized and accepted just how bad it really was for you, as a child, and you’ve validated your childhood emotions and experiences 100%.
If you try to jump to forgiveness before you’ve really bottomed-out how dysfunctional family dynamics and behaviors really caused your issues, and your C-PTSD, you will get stuck in the problem.
There are no short-cuts:
First, face up to what really happened to your ‘inner child’, to your younger self, and make no excuses for the bad behavior that was doled out to. Feel all the upset and anger you need to feel to start to heal, and to ensure that you’ll take care of yourself properly from now on, and give yourself what’s required, emotionally.
Repressed emotions are part and parcel of the C-PTSD.
Once they are released and properly digested and internalized, the triggers that spark them off will start to fade and dissolve – and you’ll find yourself coping with life, and its challenges, in a much healthier, easier way.
And part of doing this is to really feel what you weren’t allowed to feel as a kid, and to experience what was too hard to experience as a kid, and to learn the lessons from it, and to take the steps required to protect yourself going forward.
But - don’t stay in that angry place!
Don’t feel like a victim for the rest of your life, because holding on to all that negativity after you’ve validated it, learned from it, and made the changes you need to protect yourself in the future will only keep you stuck in the past.
And the past is not a place where it’s good for people with C-PTSD to dwell, any more than is absolutely necessary to properly progress through stage 1, above.
OF course, it’s easier said than done to really forgive. Practically, how can we do this?
The first bit of advice is to read another excellent book by Mark Wolynn, called: It didn’t start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle. (see the vid above).
This book brings some of the science to explain how trauma, traumatic reactions and responses, can literally be passed down the genes to descendants, via a process called epigenetics.
To give one obvious example, the book explains how the grandchild of holocaust survivors can ‘react’ in the same way as someone who went through the holocaust, even though they may have been born 50 or 60 years after the end of World War II.
The grandkid literally has PTSD, C-PTSD – but they have no conscious memory of where it’s coming from!
And when the trauma is ‘in the genes’, i.e. coded into the body’s DNA, that can make for some hugely overwhelming, monstrous reactions that seem to come out of nowhere – until you really make the links that Wolynn makes in his book.
THE NEXT THING TO DO IS LOOK INTO FINDING A GOOD ONE BRAIN PRACTITIONER IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
One brain uses muscle testing to ‘find’ where the trauma is actually being stored in a person’s body, and subconscious, and memories, and can literally get rid of specific segments of it in just one or two sessions.
It’s particularly effective for trauma that occurred before the adult brain really developed (or that you’ve inherited, and thus have no conscious recollection of).
Because the One Brain therapist will muscle test to locate what age the trauma occurred at, and if they can’t find it in your lifetime, they’ll go backwards, up to 7 generations, to see which ancestor’s trauma ‘issue’ you’ve inherited, physically.
I know it sounds weird – Wolynn’s book explains the science in an easy –to-understand way, and I can only tell you that I know of many, many people who it’s helped, to get rid of C-PTSD symptoms and triggers that were very firmly embedded, and making their life miserable.
The One Brain main website is HERE.
I've written a lot about C-PTSD here on the website, and you can see some of the pertinent posts about how to overcome C-PTSD below:
c-ptsd 101: I've got c-ptsd! now what do i do to get rid of it?
c-ptsd 101: how 'inherited trauma' can give you c-ptsd
c-ptsd 101: how to raise emotionally-healthy kids
c-ptsd 101: how to tame the inner critic
Below, is the 'masterlist' I put together for how to tackle C-PTSD across all three levels of body, mind and soul:
TIPS TO TACKLE C-PTSD AT THE BODY LEVEL
The key thing to remember here is that traumatised people are physically very stressed and tense people.
The more primitive parts of their brain is continually sending them messages that the world is a scary, threatening, dangerous place, which means:
HOW TO CALM DOWN A C-PTSD BODY:
NOTE: If someone experienced any form of physical abuse, then even touch can be a very triggering event for them. In these situations, ‘pet therapy’, or having a safe bond with a dog, horse, or other ‘loving’ animal can be an important first step to desensitising the C-PTSD body to physical touch.
(Click the grey for more details and / or information for how to do each of these things):
Other things to try include:
HOW TO CALM DOWN A C-PTSD MIND / EMOTIONS
HOW TO CALM DOWN A C-PTSD SOUL
TO SUM UP:
No-one is normal, so give up on that idea.
But, you can definitely live a happy, fulfilled and emotionally-healthy life, once you learn where the C-PTSD is really coming from, how it’s really affecting you, and to learn the lessons the negative emotions are really coming to teach us.
Validate your own feelings and experiences 100% - and then do your best to forgive the people who hurt you (while still protecting yourself 100%, and staying with a realistic picture of the true circumstances and situations you find yourself in).
If you need more help (and most people do), consider One Brain, to help you get rid of the traumatic memories that may be embedded deep in your subconscious mind, or even, inherited from your ancestors.
It’s not easy, but you will definitely see things move and improve if you stick with it, and just keep picking yourself up every time you fall down.
If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I’m usually trying to point out the links between our mental and spiritual health and our physical health, because the world generally treats physical health as a closed system that only depends on sleep, diet and exercise, as though our brain has no other impact on what’s going on with our bodies.
My approach is very different: if the body is feeling a problem, it’s because it’s only manifesting some issue the soul is having, which comes out in the emotions, and then if it isn’t dealt with and / or acknowledged, that shows up as a physical health problem.
This is particularly true of chronic health issues including aches and pains.
So, when my back started feeling weak a few months’ ago, I knew it was connected to the terrible stress I’d been under. What still caught me by surprise, however, is that when the back muscles started to weaken, my lower stomach muscles went with them, and all of a sudden, I had a pot belly.
I’m 44, and I’ve NEVER had a pot belly, not even after my kids were born. I’m not a ‘skinny’ person, but that’s just not an area that I tend to carry my flab in.
Again, I was so preoccupied and stressed out, it took a while for this to register, let alone for me to start figuring out what to do about it. But then my clothes (which are all designed to fit a slimmer waist and bigger bottom) started to feel pretty uncomfortable, and even in the midst of all the stress and upset, the penny dropped I had to get to grips on the situation from the body, up.
Stomach fat is fed by stress, directly, and in turn, it feeds stress. The fat cells produce a lot of cortisol, which is a ‘stress hormone’, and cortisol produces fat cells, in a yucky vicious cycle that is still very poorly understood.
That’s why even if you’re watching your diet and exercising regularly, you may still develop stomach fat if you’re never-endingly stressed.
So, this is what I’ve started doing to try to take down the flab:
1)Start walking and talking to God, ideally for an hour a day.
I was talking to God at home for an hour a day, but I realized I have to start moving around more, and as I am anyway talking to God then, and as I often get even better insights when I walk and talk, combining the two is a really excellent way of getting on top of the fat-causing stress from the spiritual side, while also burning more calories from the body side of things.
‘Enough’ is not a fixed part of the equation here. The experts often say 8 hours, but really most parents just can’t manage that regularly, so I can’t think that MUST be what we need to be getting to function properly.
I recently read that if you have a good, relaxing sleep even just one night a week, or a good snooze in the day even just one day a week, you live as long as people who get a regular 8 hours every night. This makes more sense to me, as it fits in with God’s ‘shabbos’ paradigm, where one day a week, we have a day of rest.
To put this another way, that Shabbos shluff is actually holy and helping you live longer.
3)Use Rescue Remedy liberally.
Rescue Remedy is a Bach Flower remedy, and it really does help to reduce subliminal stress – that feeling of being wound-up without even really knowing why. If you’re having troubles going to sleep or staying asleep, try the night version. Otherwise, swig down some drops whenever you are feeling ‘stressed’. (The drops are certified kosher, the sweets and pastilles aren’t, at least not in Israel.)
4)Do some exercise specifically to strengthen your stomach / back muscles.
So, I was walking around for six months already, and doing all the above, but the pot belly barely shrank (although I do feel much healthier and fitter again, BH, and have more energy).
It suddenly struck me, dunce that I am, that I actually might need to re-strengthen the muscles in my stomach and back that went all weak a while back, so they can hold my stomach back in the right place.
I hate, hate, hate gyms.
I can’t do things like play tennis or basketball like I used to, not least for tznius reasons, so then what?
Enter: HASfit, a Youtube outfit that actually has some good videos made by people who believe in keeping their clothes on and not frying your brain out with terrible music. (Much rarer than you might think, in our day and age). Even better, they have a whole range to pick from, including five minute work outs for middle aged women who haven’t properly exercised for years.
And the last thing to tell you is that some of their videos are even suitable for men, like the two I’m linking to in this post, which only has Coach Kozak doing his thing in a very tznius setting.
I’m still at the beginners stage, but after doing 5 minutes of easy stomach exercises 3-4 days a week, I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, BH. So, put your blanket down on the floor, wear something suitable, and hit play!
(The first one, above, is for beginners, and anyone can do it, or at least, make a brave attempt. The second one, below, is much harder, but you can move on to that once your stomach muscles grow back.)
I know I’m not the only one having stress-induced stomach flab issues. And even though I’m working on the flab-causing-stress from the top down, sometimes we also have to work on the stress-causing-flab from the bottom up, too.
Don’t panic when you suddenly discover you have no idea what you yourself really thinks about a whole bunch of stuff, or that you have no idea what you really want to do with yourself, or why.
Instead, just turn your attention to taming your inner critters. The way to do this is to just start noticing how they react to your situations and experiences. Does the thought of having to give a big presentation, or attend a job interview send them scurrying back into their box, or climbing the walls?
What makes them soften up and relax a little? Long walks on the beach? Long talks with someone a little wiser? A little light reading or a hard work-out? As you get to know your critters better, you’ll soon start to figure out that certain people literally have them eating out of their hand, while others put their backs up and get them baring their teeth and growling up a storm.
Relating to your deeper feelings as critters that need to be house-trained can give you a very helpful handle on how to deal with being plunged into feelings of frozen overwhelm or hepped-up over-excitement. But where critters beat dogs hands down is that with a bit of practice, you can actually get them to talk.
Actually, that’s not exactly true. The critters are talking to us all the time, just we haven’t tuned our ears to hear them. But listening to what they are saying can quickly become one of the most profoundly satisfying and useful skills you’ll ever learn in your life. Because critters often hold some of the most valuable pieces of insight and wisdom.
Up until now, you couldn’t hear them because the backseat driver was filling your head with all its dictates, and arguments and worries and concerns. The critters couldn’t really get a look in, unless they went ballistic one day and bit someone’s head off (and let’s face it, that used to happen much more than we like to admit. That’s part of the reason we shoved them in the Porta-Pet in the first place.)
And initially, you may have to take them out for walks muzzled, until you really learn their moods and their foibles, and what sorts of things can set them off and trigger an attack stance. Over time, if you observe them carefully, and really start to listen to what they’re telling you, and showing you with their reactions, you’ll start to build the most rewarding relationship of your life.
The more you care for your critters and tend to their needs, the more they’ll come to trust you, and to go to bat for you when you need them.
Your critters have a much keener sense of smell than you do; they can sense danger - and also snuffle out genuine opportunities and hidden treasures - a million times better than you can.
But you have to be the one holding the leash and taking them for a walk, and not the other way around.
Over time, you’ll discover that you’ve come to know your critters so well, and that you’ve trained them so ably, you very rarely have to worry about them losing their heads and chewing their way through the neighbors’ prize dahlias. Instead, you’ll be able to easily put their talents and abilities at your disposal - as long as you learn their limitations, and respect their requirements.
If your critters hate big, loud, superficial parties, don’t take them to those things even if it seems like a great idea. If they hate being cooped in a stuffy accountant’s cubby hole, you’ll have to find a different job to do, or a different way of doing your job, that will take the critters into account.
If the critters hate sitting through a six hour Thanksgiving feast with your nearest and dearest, you’ll have to decide to either box them back up out the way for the afternoon (and then deal with the consequences of doing that later) or bring them along but leave at the first sign they’re getting a little antsy.
You’ll learn so much about life if you start to listen more to your critters. But that doesn’t mean they’re always right, or completely infallible. When you’re out searching for clues, or trying to track something or someone down, the bloodhound will be invaluable. But no-one sane ever takes their dog’s advice about what stocks to invest.
So don’t expect more from your critters than they’re capable of giving you.
Learn their strengths, respect their weaknesses and you’ll be rewarded many times over.
But don’t expect your backseat driver to like your critters, or the other way around.
One of the backseat drivers’ favorite ploys is to spend a few moments inflaming and inciting your critters, until all hell breaks loose and they’re pooping all over the place and otherwise wrecking the joint. At that point, the backseat driver will try to convince you that you can’t deal with these critters by yourself - I mean, look at the terrible mess and destruction they’re causing!! - and that you really need him, the backseat driver, to get things back under control.
How’s he going to do this? By banning the critters to the back of beyond, crating them up and shipping them out.
That’s how they got into that Porta-Pet crate in the first place, and that’s why they’re going so bug-eyed and wild now you’re finally trying to spring them out again.
From their side of things, whenever the critters have to deal with the backseat driver again, it’ll bring out the very worst in them. Whether they deal by gnashing their teeth, running away or freezing in place - maybe, a combination of all of these things - depends on a whole bunch of things.
But the more you’ve invested in your relationship with your critters, they more they trust you, and the more you really understand and value them, the easier it’ll be to get things back under control again when they do go a little beserk again. And that is inevitably going to happen, because animals inevitably act like animals, not angels.
So to sum up where we’ve got to:
The more you get to hang out with your critters, the more you’ll start to find that you want to hang out with people who like, even love them just as much as you do. Or at the very least, who can tolerate them without blowing a gasket.
There will still be times when you have to Porta-Pet them, but increasingly you’ll find that you’ll want to keep those occasions to a bare minimum, and to also keep those times as short as possible.
Because while you can function superficially without your critters, your critters can’t stay sane for long without you, and they’ll be sure to let you know how much they missed you when you get around to visiting them again.
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.
So, for sure you’ve noticed how just about everyone you know, including yourself (if you’re honest…) is starting to exhibit some extreme mood swings and strong emotions, right? Here’s just a small selection of what I’ve heard and / or seen going on around me in the last little while:
One normally very calm, sweet and forgiving person told me they had such an uncharacteristic rage fit with a rude shopping assistant that they left the store shaking with anger, and it took them hours and hours to calm down again afterwards…
Another person snapped and violently attacked their spouse…
Another person got plunged into the biggest pit of despair and overwhelm about a problem that, yes is a problem, but not SUCH a big problem to merit such a enormous reaction…
Someone else got so overwhelmed by feelings of existential loneliness that they proposed marriage to someone they barely knew (thank God, the person turned them down…)
I could go on, but I’m sure you have your own examples of extreme, unusual reactions, decisions and behaviours going on all around you, and also inside you.
So what the heck is going on?!?
There’s a number of answers to this question, and the more spiritual answers you’ll find over on my other blog, at www.emunaroma.com. But on this blog, I try to concentrate on the more tangible explanations, or the visible processes that God is using to create a particular reaction or set of circumstances.
So what I think is going on, within that paradigm, is that the huge, unexplained body that’s currently in our solar system, and that goes by the various names of ‘Planet X’, ‘Nibiru’, ‘Kochav Yaacov’, or some other comet nomenclature is hugely affecting the bio-electrical structure of our planet - and the humans who live here.
(Again, I know this can sound pretty bizarre and ‘out there’ if you haven’t already been introduced to how the universe, world and human health actually really works, so if that’s you, you may want to take a look at these articles before you continue:)
We’re all kind of feeling ‘subliminally stressed’ at the moment, as our bio-electrical systems are being disrupted by the increased ions, protons, whatever they are in the atmosphere, that are part and parcel of what’s called the ‘solar wind’, or the energy that comes streaming in our direction from the sun.
If you take a look at THIS article, you’ll see how the universe really works, and is electrical in nature, and how when there’s a large comet / planet circling around our solar system, that causes the electrical activity between all the other bodies in the solar system, including the sun and planet earth, to go haywire.
So in a nutshell, the same phenomena that’s causing all these hurricanes in the US and the Caribbean (and even in the UK…), and unusually destructive wildfires all over the world, and massive earthquakes in Italy and Mexico, and floods in the Indian subcontinent, and exploding volcanoes in the ‘ring of fire’ in the Pacific, and also all the earthquake swarms being noted in the US and elsewhere - it’s also affecting us, you and me, on a micro level.
It’s making us feel increasingly ‘subliminally stressed’, which means we’re going into FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE-FAWN mode without even realizing it, and that we have much less patience, generosity, kindness or self-awareness than usual.
We’re all walking around with hair-triggers, prepared to let anyone and everyone have it.
Why is God doing this?
Because He wants us to stop running away from our repressed negative emotions and bad character traits, and to actually acknowledge them and deal with them properly.
You, lady, have an anger issue! That’s why you keep sending out such atrocious emails to people, and commenting so acerbically on other people’s blogs.
You, sir, are sunk in despair and apathy! That’s why you drink so much and spend so much of your time glued to the telly, watching YouTube vids on your massive 50 inch screen.
You, madam, really hate and resent your parents, and you never, ever dealt with it! That’s why now, you find it so hard to enjoy your own family life, and you have a nervous breakdown every time another family get-together looms.
And so on and so forth.
But right now, God’s decided that we can’t run away from this stuff anymore. It’s time to look it squarely in the face, acknowledge the problems, and try to fix them.
And if we don’t do that, then at least in our lives, the ‘crazy days’ we’re experiencing are only going to come more furious, and more frequently.
Not on purpose, of course, but they just have SO many different activities scheduled between 11pm and 3 am - the time when really, I absolutely, positively have to be in bed, ASLEEP - and trying to figure out how to keep them happy and well-adjusted and me alive is proving to be quite tricky.
I live in downtown Jerusalem, where until a few months’ ago there were stabbings regularly happening almost every week (and during one really horrible period of time, almost every day…).
When terrorists aren’t trying to stab people and / or shoot them and / or run them down on purpose, my neighborhood is actually really pretty safe and genteel. But the trouble is, you really never know when the next ‘Ahmed the stabber’ is going to show up, and there’s something about trying to go to sleep when your teens are out of the house that seem to bring all these paranoid fears rapidly boiling to the surface.
So here we are, stuck in a paradigm where they (rightly…) want to have the freedom to be teens, and to do the things that teens like to do in the middle of the night, while I (rightly…) want to be able to sleep at least six hours a night so my brain doesn’t completely dissolve and drip out my ears.
I’m typing this on around four hours’ sleep, and I can literally barely see straight.
Which brings me to another point I’ve been pondering recently, about how so much of what we’re regularly taught is COMPLETELY NECESSARY FOR HEALTH can only really happen in a people-less, hermetically-sealed bubble.
It seems that health gurus that preach the benefit of 8-9 hours sleep every single night, and the importance of getting to bed by 10pm, just don’t have teens to contend with. Or small children. Or elderly parents, who often have their own dramas and difficulties that we need to help out with. Or friends. Or social lives (unless you count all those obsessive, daily ‘hot yoga’ classes). Or spouses who don’t always fit their nervous breakdowns, cries for help, late nights at work and desire to have an evening out into the ‘ONLY BEFORE 10PM’ box.
THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME THEY'VE TRIED TO KILL ME
Not that my teens are only trying to kill me by severely biting into my beauty sleep. In the past, they’ve also tried to kill me by absolutely refusing to pretend that probiotic sauerkraut is a salad, the sugar-free anything is eatable, that brown bread - and brown pasta and brown rice - is just as tasty as the real, white deal, and by forcing me to make at least two suppers a day - healthy for me, and yummy for them.
At the height of my healthy-food obsession, I was getting into regular fights with my kids (who were not even teens, at that stage) because they (rightly…) didn’t want to be forced into eating stuff they didn’t like just because it was healthy, and I (rightly…) didn’t want to be making them white pasta - which they absolutely love to bits!!! Especially with tons of high-fat cows’ cheese grated all over it!!! - that was also giving them stomach aches, zits and mucous issues.
Again, I come back to the idea that the healthy eating fanatics that insist that their kids just LURVE all that sprouted stuff, and kale cookies, and avocado chocolate mousse (which btw IS really yummy…) either have kids that are completely different from mine in every way, shape and form and / or are complete control freaks who give their kids no free choice and / or are lying.
But my teens aren’t going anywhere soon - thank God! - so I have to continue trying to figure out how to tread that fine line between doing enough to stay healthy, without causing them to go completely insane by insisting that I have everything my own way, all the time.
God gave me my teens. God made teens temporarily retarded, so they think they don’t need to sleep properly and eat enough, and they forget that while they get to sleep in until 2pm in the afternoon, other people in the house actually have jobs to do, and errands to run, that require them to be awake much, much earlier.
In the meantime, I’m learning that while 10 hours sleep is nice, five hours sleep is also doable, at least some of the time. If you don’t mind feeling like a zombie, sprouting a whole bunch of wrinkles and losing all pretense of coherent thought.
Once you’ve been in the ‘alternative health’ game for a while, you start to realize that a lot of what passes as ‘healthy’ eating is actually an eating disorder in disguise.
It can be so very difficult to spot this, especially initially, because deep down we all know that at least on some basic level, we are what we eat, and the more fruit and veg we can get down us, and the more whole grains we knock back, and the more ice-cream, margarine and jelly beans we avoid, the better it’s probably going to be for us, health-wise.
BUT - there’s a line that’s so easily crossed when ‘eating healthy’ actually turns into ‘eating disordered’, and in this post, I want to try to pin down where that line actually is.
THE FIRST RED FLAG: EVERYTHING IS BOILED DOWN TO FOOD
One big red flag is when the ‘healthy eating’ person starts to bring all their problems and issues - and everyone else’s problems and issues back down to food. Got a headache? It’s a food issue. Feeling sad, anxious or upset about something? It’s a food issue. Having serious relationship difficulties with your parents, spouse or kids? Man, you just need to eat more seaweed and steer clear of red meat!!!
And so on and so forth, until the whole awesome complexity of being a sentient human being with a spiritual dimension and a highly complicated inner emotional world is boiled down to how much gluten or sugar you’re consuming.
Sadly, this is something that I see SO OFTEN in the ‘healthy eating’ world, and amongst the ‘healthy eating’ experts out there that is pretty much passes as standard, normal behavior. And that’s such a shame, because people are rarely so black and white, and even when food is a major component in their issues, it’s hardly ever the only thing contributing to their problems or difficulties.
People typically eat junk when they feel overwhelmed by life, and when their self-destructive emotional and spiritual impulses are running the show. But here’s the thing: simply switching the diet over to wholefoods / raw foods / gluten free / sugar free / macrobiotic / whatever the fad of the month is doesn’t solve the underlying emotional and spiritual issues.
Over time, it can surely ameliorate them, and begin the process of moving to a much healthier overall mindset and approach to life which puts a proper emphasis on looking after the self, and dealing with cause and effect, but food is not the whole answer.
So that’s the first way you can tell if ‘eating healthy’ has morphed into ‘eating disordered’, when absolutely everything in the world is brought down to food, or the particular diet etc that the person happens to be following.
THE SECOND RED FLAG: A RIGID, JUDGMENTAL AND CONTROLLING ATTITUDE
Another key sign that ‘eating healthy’ has become ‘eating disordered’ is when the healthy eater starts to adopt an extremely rigid, judgmental and even controlling attitude towards people in their orbit that aren’t eating healthy, according to them.
Again, this is unfortunately such normal ‘standard’ behavior in the alternative health world that it’s completely off most people’s radars. But to call a spade a spade, when people start getting all uppity about other people’s ‘lack of self-control’ that they don’t just eat kale for lunch, or jog five miles before breakfast, or contort themselves into all sorts of ‘relaxing’ poses for three hours a day, that’s another big flashing neon sign that ‘eating healthy’ has become ‘eating disordered’.
Rigid thinking is one of the key signs mental health professionals look for when diagnosing serious issues including personality disorders, etc. The more ‘rigid’ a person is, the more controlling they are, the less flexibility or ‘give’ there is in their routine, their thought processes, their ability to roll with the punches and react to ever-changing external circumstances, the bigger the problem.
Again, let’s remember that so many people only eat unhealthily in the first place due to underlying emotional and spiritual issues that aren’t being properly acknowledged and addressed.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to ‘flip’ these issues into a rigid, intolerant and judgmental approach to food and life that’s anything but really healthy.
THE THIRD RED FLAG: THEY'RE ANGRY, MISERABLE AND STRESSED!
The last telltale sign that ‘eating healthy’ is really actually ‘eating disordered’ is the person’s own mood. Invariably, when people are truly ‘eating healthy’ in a balanced, truly useful way, they feel great, they feel happy, they exude calm and joy, and they tend to be pretty laid back individuals that are easy to get on with and be around.
By contrast, when someone is ‘eating disordered’ then they’re usually full of repressed (and not so repressed…) anger, prickliness and intolerance. They tend to be wound very tight, on the ‘mega stressed’ end of the relaxation scale, and to be very hard to be around or really get on with, for any length of time, not least because they often put the burden of their own incredibly high expectations (and diet prep…) on to you.
These are the people who will tut disapprovingly when they see you holding the Starbucks paper cup, or who have to tell you how many ‘bad’ calories are in that muffin you’re eating, or who encourage you / nag you to eat different, or exercise better, or fast more ALL THE TIME!!!
No conversation can pass that doesn’t have some reference to food, and if you’re not eating disordered yourself, that usually makes for a pretty annoying, stressful and aggravating exchange of ideas.
So, to sum up: if someone isn’t glowing with joy, if they’re a martinet about food, or hyper-anxious about everything they’re eating, if they can’t go with the flow and keep feeling the need to bring up their food (figuratively speaking…) every chance they get, and to lecture people about their diets - the chances are very high that they are eating DISORDERED, not eating healthy.
Whatever they’re actually claiming or telling you about their AMAZING!!! eating habits.