Blog. #11 — Holding On To Anger

I am ANGRY!  I feel manipulated.  How is this connected to mind-body one may ask?  Internalizing anger causes depression.  Depression increases hormones released into the body that can hurt, cause other chemical reactions, and interfere with healing throughout the body.  It makes one want to sleep more, to escape painful realities.  It diminishes one’s creativity—thinking of ways to overcome obstacles.  Writing about negative emotions is one way to decrease negative feelings, as it gets those feelings out of the body onto paper, where one can see the words instead of feeling the words!  (It’s like being a rapper, only using my fingers instead of my voice to express what I am feeling!)  I’m reminded of the 22-year-old who went into a church to kill nine people.  What feelings did he keep inside to cause such hatred that he would do something so wrong that at the beginning of his adult life, it would ultimately cause the end of his life?  Another way to look at holding in anger is taking poison and expecting someone else to die!

For years politicians have been lying to the people.  Sometimes this is through omission (leaving out just a little bit) or through innuendo, insinuating things to be positive or negative – pro or con something.  Sometimes it is through the media (bringing the world into our living rooms), which gives those in power the biggest bang for their buck.  One thing I learned while doing research is that you can find examples or results for almost any subject of research.  We, the people, MUST learn to think for ourselves, learn to use the intelligence we have to see through duplicity.  Just because something is said on TV or is written in our newspapers is not necessarily true.  It is simply that when someone says something they believe to be true, they want us to believe the same thing.  If enough people believe something, people may think that that something is true/valid – whether it is really true or not!

Our GREAT (and it is already GREAT) country was founded on many freedoms [ethnicity, race, religion, sexual identity & preference (alphabetical order)], which result in ONE nationality – AMERICAN, combining humanity from ALL OVER THE GLOBE.  No other nation in the world was created like this.  (Although I have to remind myself that the American Indians were removed from this land, their land, to accomplish this ideal.)

In order to heal, we MUST not only learn to talk with one another, we absolutely MUST learn to LISTEN to each other and consider the viewpoints of other people (the theme of the movie CRASH).  We each have our own experiences, which dictate how we see things.  All of our opinions count—ALL.

There is always:

  • Our side
  • Their side
  • And the truth.

As Martin Luther King said, we must only judge people by their characters.

When we find ourselves in an accident, if on land, in the air, or in the water, the religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual preference of those who save us will not matter.  I ask you to look at (or think about) someone you love.  If that person was in danger of losing their life, would the religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual preference of the person who could save your loved one’s life really matter at that time?

As is in the name of our country, we must become, more clearly represent in front of the world, a more UNITED States of America!

Blog #10 – The Decision To Change Yourself

Change is hard. There are so very many ways to even think about change.  According to Richard Restak, MD in his book: The BRAIN,  “The brain is the only organ in the known universe that seeks to understand itself.”   We humans are creatures of habit.  We do the same things over and over again.  This is because, as Caroline Myss, Ph.D. explains in her New York Times bestselling book, Anatomy of the Spirit, “Our psychological characteristics are a combination of what we know and what we believe to be true, a unique combination of the facts, fears, personal experiences, and memories that are active continually within our mental energy body.”  She goes on to explain that when one achieves the bare bones truths of different situations and circumstances, that’s when one achieves wisdom.  This, she feels, can only be arrived at by detachment.

Detachment is a state whereby one sees things without the influence of emotions.  And like some people, I’m an emotional person.  There is no way I can look (or think) about most situations without any emotion – good or bad!  To evaluate or consider a situation or person with detachment (and that includes thinking of yourself), one must turn to another person.  The best person would be a professional (like a psychologist or social worker—someone trained in counseling).  However, a professional is not always available to us.  A longtime friend or relative may not be a good person to consult either, because they may also have emotional feelings about situations in your life.  However, sometimes they can give you another point of view to consider.

The best non-professional person to talk with about what kind of person you seem to be, help you to evaluate your reactions to a particular situation(s), and/or if any major change is needed at all is a relatively new friend:  a co-worker, a fellow church member, or a neighbor are good examples.

The very first thing that needs to be decided in your discussions is who or what needs changing.  For example, you may be a perfectly “all right” person who has a job that brings out your negative side (everyone has a bad side).  Instead of trying to change yourself to adapt to constant negatives, the answer may be to change jobs!  You may hang out with people who don’t have the same interests you do.  In that case, it would be a better idea to find some new friends.  You may be newly divorced or broken up with a significant other and no longer have that dual identity.  Finding out who you are as an individual will be very helpful in determining how you want to change your life.  Or you could be one of those people who have been under the influence of others, and never had much opportunity to know yourself—usually going along with the ideas of others.  However, if you do need to make changes in yourself, you could find it extremely difficult to do.  Sometimes it makes things easier to make changes in yourself to benefit others—for example:  decreasing or eliminating the use of drugs or alcohol to improve the relationships with those you love.  People often find it easier to believe they are doing something to benefit someone else.  Somehow it seems less selfish that way!  Yet it can give more power to your decision to change your life.

There are several ways to meet new people without going to night clubs.  There are neighborhood groups, political groups, religious groups, volunteer organizations, and meet-up groups by interest listed on the Internet.  Just use common sense and be careful.  Don’t put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

Whether you end up wanting to change yourself or change some of the people who are around you, life doesn’t have to remain the same.  Consider yourself like a work of art—a work in progress.  You’ll always have choices!

Blog-9 What You Eat/Drink May Surprise You!

As I have mentioned in other blogs, an old saying goes:  You are what you eat.”  But what I also said before, this has been upgraded to:  You are what your body can digest!  So many times I’ve heard people say that, “I’ve eaten or drank that before and nothing happened, so it must not harm me.”  What most of us fail to realize is that our bodies change ALL the time.

 

Everywhere I go I see and hear about people using recreational drugs.  Some things are considered legal (and scheduled to potentially be considered legal).  I’ll tell you why this concerns me.  I was recently told about a teen, pretty much like most teens from a good home, never getting into any trouble.  He joined some friends to try something new.  He’d tried other things before without anything going wrong.  Maybe this day he was under more stress than usual, so trying something different didn’t seem so risky.  This teenager is now in his 20’s.  He lives in a group home for the mentally impaired, needing prescription medication to control his violent behavior!  The desire for a moment of instant high changed his life forever!

 

A man I once knew became a raving mad man after taking a drug prescribed by his doctor to treat an illness.  One of my children (when a toddler) became violent when once prescribed a medication for her illness.  One of my brothers could not tolerate a specific food dye, as it caused him to become hyper-active.  Avoiding foods with this additive allowed him to be a normal little boy.  In all three cases, changing what was consumed allowed their bodies to function normally.  A simple change in medication allowed normal healing.  Not eating something with a particular chemical allowed a child to act normally.  What we eat or drink does matter, and it doesn’t even have to be a drug—it could even be something as simple as food coloring!

 

Not all changes are physical.  Some chemical reactions in our bodies to those things we eat and/or drink affect the way we think, affect our moods, and how we feel generally.  Seeing a person (especially a child) experience a sugar high is now common.  However, when that child’s sugar high begins to drop, we blame it on the need for sleep!  Adults go through that too!  Just ask a diabetic!  Our bodies change for different reasons.  It could be due to normal wear and tear, abuse from either doing the wrong things or not enough of the right things.  Changes can even be caused by our environment—what is in our air and water!

 

Food diaries are common methods for people to learn more about how their bodies react to what they eat and drink.  Try an experiment the first of next month.  Get a small spiral notebook and write on the top of the page: the month and Day 1 on the first page, followed by the 2nd on the next page, and so on (August 1, August 2, August 3,…..all the way to August 31.  Each day write down ALL that you eat and drink.  At the end of the day be sure to write down the mood that you feel:  agitated, extra tired, happy, calm, sad, etc.  You can also write down any physical symptoms, like excess gas or stomach upset, light weight, bloated or full.  What you find out may surprise you!

Blog 8: Validation and Motivation

I am now resuming my blogging after taking time off to write a book of poetry to enter it in a contest.  Soon after entering, since I just made the deadline, I found out that my work had not been chosen.  This hurt me so much, and gave validation (support and justification) to my fears, negative emotions, and feelings that my writing was not good enough.

In all the religions I’ve read about and experienced, each has a concept in common about being tested when you want to change or improve your life.  What I’ve just experienced is such a test.  It’s that devil on one shoulder/angel on the other kind of thing.  (See:  One says “Go ahead and try it.”  The other says:  “I told you that you can’t do it!” or “I told you that it wouldn’t work.”)  It’s a test of whether or not you believe in yourself; if you can do more, BE more.  It is much easier to fall into the victim mode, and settle for the status quo—doing the same thing over and over, expecting somehow things will change.  And that is the definition of insanity!  That’s when motivation STOPS!  Motivation is something, like a need or desire, that causes you to act—to actually do something!  And even if the need is still there, without motivation, the desire goes away.

When it is your own mind, it is extremely difficult to see and understand what is happening to you.  In most cases it is much easier to see when someone else slips into the victim mode.  When thinking of someone else sliding backwards in life, it is then that we have this epiphany—that AHA! moment that allows us to identify and realize that we, too, are having the same experience!  It’s a wake-up call that tells us that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to make life better for ourselves.  Sometimes we have to go inside ourselves to determine what that something is that we are supposed to do.  It’s not the same for everyone.  And sometimes it’s not the same all the time for ourselves, because our lives are always changing.  Unfortunately, in most cases, we cannot go to someone else to tell us what to do.

Mindfulness Meditation is my favorite way to go inside myself (subject of a future blog).  It is simply a way that Jon Kabat- Zinn created to quiet the mind and the body at the same time.  Google Jon Kabat-Zinn for more information.  There is no chanting.  One does not lose consciousness.  You are aware (more so than usual) of everything around you.  In short, this is a process to teach you how to completely relax your body and clear your mind at the same time!  When we are constantly bombarded with thoughts and sounds, at first, meditation is not easy to do.  Once this form of meditation is mastered, ten minutes can be the equivalent of two hours of sleep!  It even speeds up healing!

Many incidents in my past (all the way back to age one) took away a lot of my self-confidence/my self-esteem.  I was raised during the prevailing social atmosphere where a woman was supposed to get married, have children, stay home and take care of the house and family.  Her husband was the provider of things outside the home.  The glass ceiling for women was extremely low!  College was a place where a woman went to find a good husband.  I remember a high school counselor (a professional in our American educational system) once told my mother (referring to me):  “With her looks, she does not need to be in an algebra class!”  Helping and encouraging ALL students strive to be all that they can be is relatively recent in our country’s history.  I have to remind myself that I am lucky to be an American, because there are still some countries that continue to fight against girls/women becoming educated at all!

Once fully relaxed, looking at my situation without emotions (especially negative emotions), it is easier to see the progression of my empowerment.  I have been encouraged to write for half a century!  That is longer than some lifetimes!  I’ve won many contests, been published, and people have paid me money for my framed poems.  One year I was encouraged to enter North Carolina’s senior games in the field of literature.  It absolutely shocked me when my short story, poem, and essay each won bronze, silver, or gold in their respective categories that year!    Looking back at these positive happenings that validated my ability to write helps me tremendously in rebuilding my self-esteem.  It boosts my courage.  I dare to think that someone would want to hear what I have to say, to want me to share my experiences, and that it is possible that my words could actually help someone in their struggle to find some answers along their own journey!

We are not tested just one time.  Looking back over my life, I realize that I’ve been in this position before.  That encourages me.  If I’ve overcome my fears and blocks before, I can certainly do it again!  It reminds me of that old saying¨ It’s not how many times you are knocked down that is important.  It’s how fast do you get up?  Validation (support and justification) works both ways.  When feeling despair, it seems so much easier to validate the negative/bad events in your life.  On the other hand, you may find that it is harder to validate the good things that happen to you.  That is why one’s self-esteem matters.  That tells me that my self-worth needs a boost!  A higher self-esteem (feelings of self-worth) enable us to see and understand our value, how we really are worthy.

Our self-talk, what we say to ourselves, and the very words we use help to validate both the good and the bad.  The tests of how we feel about ourselves (our self-worth) will come after each accomplishment or stage of enlightenment.  So much comes back to learning to love myself, and not allowing myself to only be dependent on relying on love from others—from outside of myself!  I must look in the mirror when I wash or clean my teeth—look into my own eyes and say:  I love you Beth!  (It can be said aloud or silently to one’s self.) It may take a while to get used to, but self-love draws more love into one’s life!  Even when I make mistakes, I must continue to love ME!

I have to force myself to remember not to allow my negative emotions to take hold for very long.  Of course, I’m human, my emotions will show up whether I like it or not—both the good and the bad.  However, I’m smart enough to know that negative emotions cause some enzymes to be released into my blood stream that are not in my best interest at the time.  During those times I need to see a comedy—something to make me laugh and balance out the bad feelings with the good ones.  Laughter and love are very powerful!  I have to fight for my right to be who I really am—warts and all!

And the poetry book contest—no one won this year!  My book was a mixture of both serious poems and what merchants call “bread ‘n butter” poetry.  I imagine that this publisher only wanted serious.  I’m working on it.  I know I have the ability.  And when it’s time, I’ll be ready!

Blog — 7 body AND mind

I want to address a mis-interpretation of the meaning of mind-body health.  The mind and the body are ONE!

It’s not a one or the other.  It is a concept of working on Both Together!

When illness happens, it’s important to work on both the cause and the symptoms at the same time!  For example, when taking treatments to destroy something wrong in the body (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.), it is highly beneficial to also replace the good cells that are destroyed in the process!  If the body is depleted of the good cells (lowering the body’s natural ability to fight disease and return to normal – called homeostasis), it makes it harder for the body to fight.  We become weak, frail, and have much less energy.  We feel tired, and our minds have an increase in negative thoughts.  And as discussed in previous blogs, these negative thoughts increase those things released in the body that result in unwanted negative reactions in our bodies—at a time when more strength is needed.

It is wonderful when massive doses of killer drugs or procedures wipe out the symptoms of a disease.  Too many times we think at that point we are home free!  We can go back to living the way we did before the disease interfered in our lives.  We’ve won the battle!  We forget two very important things:

  1. We forget that many normal good cells are no longer there to protect us.
  2. What was there before was obviously not good enough to prevent the disease from happening in the first place!

Now, after disease/illness has been conquered, is the time to consider how you were before becoming ill:

  1. What kind of stress is in your life? (good and bad)
  2. What are your eating habits, and are changes necessary?
  3. Do you take vitamin supplements?
  4. Does our food basically come from the supermarket, after being harvested before it is ripe, shipped to warehouses for sometimes months, then presented to you in a supermarket after it has lost some of its nutrient value? Or do you get most of your food fresh from the garden, being picked after it has become ripe and full of nutrients.
  5. Do you get enough rest, or are you challenging your body to function on less sleep than you really need? And do you sleep well?
  6. Do you need digestive aid pills to help digest your foods (for hard to digest foods like: milk, beans, cabbage, onions, etc.)?
  7. Are you often constipated or have diarrhea?
  8. Do you have any allergies?
  9. Do you have friends and/or relatives to whom you can vent? (talk about things that bother you/worry you, brag about your accomplishments, share your dreams, express your emotions of joy, sadness, or rage, or hope?  Or do you stay to yourself and keep your emotions and reactions inside?

 

I thought about making up a quiz, adding positive and negative points to the above questions to help you determine what you need, but that makes no sense.  Our bodies are different.  What could be a major problem for some would be considered a minor problem for others.  They say that the hardest thing in the world to do is to get to know who you really are deep inside—physically, emotionally, and mentally.  When you read over the questions above, it is vitally important to be honest and true to yourself.  (You can’t fool your own mind!)  You don’t have to tell anyone else the answers.  However, it is EXTREMELY important to be honest with yourself.  At some point in time your life may very well depend on it!

 

There are many forms of alternative health therapies (several are planned for in depth discussions in future blogs).  There are also many companies that offer vitamins and natural nutrients (pill form, liquid form, and powdered forms to mix with liquids, ingredients to make nutritional smoothies that can either supplement your diet or replace a meal).

Some doctors recommend eating yogurt after taking antibiotics, for example.  This is because yogurt contains some probiotics.  What are probiotics?  According to Ask.Com:  “Probiotics are friendly bacteria, thought to support our immune systems and enhance our health by keeping the numbers of unfriendly bacteria within our digestive systems in check.”  They also replace some of the missing good bacteria that is normally found in the intestines—before you become sick and after treatments for your illness that wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in the process.  The “gut,” a user-friendly term referring to the intestines, is extremely important to your immune system.  Your immune system (Google for a complete definition.) is VERY complex, with multiple parts that connect to different systems in the body.  For this reason, there are different kinds of probiotics (specific for the small intestine, specific for the large intestine, and specific for conditions found in women, etc.).

 

This is why knowing your body, what you need to improve your health, is so vitally important.  I hesitate to say, contact your medical professional because at least until recently, a course in nutrition was not mandatory in medical school.  Many, if not most, doctors know very little about nutrition.  They are trained to treat symptoms, refer you to specialists, and prescribe pharmaceuticals.  They often refer patients to nutritionists when their patients need this kind of information.  A nutritionist is trained to know what nutrients are needed by patients.  There are many kinds of nutritionists:  dieticians, health coaches in nutrition, diet coaches, some holistic doctors, alternative medicine specialists, and many representatives of companies that produce vitamins and supplements who have become experts about their products and how they benefit the body.  However, a particular company’s representative can usually only adequately explain how their company’s products can help you.  They are limited (and understandably so) in knowledge about other products on the market that may be better suited for your particular situation.  It is for this reason that, for those who don’t truly know their bodies, I generally suggest people find a good nutritionist, perhaps one recommended by your health care provider.  Some nutritionists accept insurance.  (However, it would be wise to contact your insurance company first to see if your insurance would pay for an office visit to a nutritionist!)

 

For those who know their body’s needs, it is a question of research.  Research what is out there, available to satisfy your needs.  Not all companies that sell vitamins and supplements are of equal quality.  Several years ago I read the ingredients on a popular vitamin company’s label, which stated that the vitamins were coated in shellac!  The vitamins looked pretty with a high shine!  Unfortunately, since the body cannot digest shellac, the vitamins would only pass through the body undigested.  Any benefit from these vitamins was created by the minds of the consumers who used them!  (Another mind-body connection!)

 

Having dealt with several health issues over the years, I know my body.  However, I am also still learning, as my body’s needs change.  My doctor diagnosed hypertension.  I researched and experimented, found and eradicated the cause.  My doctor diagnosed Type II diabetes.  I researched and experimented, found and eradicated the cause.  Each time I eliminate the cause of a problem, I make an office visit to my doctor to document my improved condition.

 

I’ve been fortunate to find much additional knowledge about supplements with the assistance of representatives from local GNC stores.  For example:  I take their Women’s Ultra Mega Vitamins (with iron).  Many years ago they changed their formula.  I called the store one day and explained to the company representative that I was feeling less energetic than normal, and could not figure out what was wrong.  She suggested I look at the ingredients to see if my new bottle contained Bee Pollen.  It did not.  That taught me the value of taking extra Bee Pollen.  (With all of my allergies, I’m glad that Bee Pollen is NOT one of them!)  With the assistance of a GNC representative, I recently compared several of GNC’s probiotic products.  She helped me determine which ones would provide me with the best benefits—and saved me half the cost I was prepared to pay!

 

There is, however, one ESSENTIAL KEY FACTOR to be considered—Your Confidence Level!

 

At some point in our lives we feel ENOUGH!  It could be about anything.  Just ENOUGH!  It could be about our finances, our spouses, our living conditions, our jobs, and yes, even our health.  Once we have this experience in one area of our lives, and confidence in changing present conditions rise, this desire to change the confidence level in other parts of our lives begins to emerge.

 

But when it comes to health, we go to the doctor’s office with a conditioned mentality of “Fix Me!”  You tell the doctor what you are experiencing, and expect information, a course of action, a referral, and/or a prescription.  It is only after disappointment(s) that we research, start using our own minds to build confidence in knowing our own bodies.  If we don’t learn right away what would work, we soon learn what won’t work!  We then return to the doctors with informed questions about what we’ve read about or heard about.  That is the beginning of having confidence in our own health.  At that point we are working WITH our doctors to achieve better health.  As our confidence grows, our doctor-patient relationship changes—usually for the better.  (Unfortunately, there are still some doctors out there with the “my way or the highway” mentality!)

 

Every cell in our bodies is replaced within seven years!  Some cells may take only days to be replaced, while other cells take years.  What remains the same after being replaced is determined by what is in our minds.  It is my hope that one day, with an increase in psychoneuroimmunological research (the study of the mind-body connection), we’ll have a common mental approach to dealing with disease in addition to what we have today!