April 2011 column
Q: The democracy revolutions in the Middle East are exciting, but do you think they’re worth the hundreds of people who’ve been shot?
A: With a majority of Arab populations young and unemployed, the revolutions were bound to happen. More than 4,000 colonists were killed in the American Revolution, as justified in the Declaration of Independence: “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [rights to equality], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” I summarize on my blog (http://gaylekimball.wordpress.com) what I’ve been able to find out about the historic events in the Middle East—a peaceful Egyptian revolution in 18 days, wow! The young activists chanted “We are peaceful” and gave flowers to soldiers in a rebirth of the sixties. We can be hopeful about our future as young people assume leadership.
Q: I feel antsy, scattered, don’t know what to do with myself, even though there is plenty that needs to be done. I have to force myself even though I always feel so much better when I go out.
A: The scattered, frazzled feeling can be low blood sugar (eat breakfast and small frequent snacks of unrefined foods, put a cinnamon stick in your hot drink to help regulate blood sugar), depression, and being homolateral. Correct the latter by drinking water and doing cross crawls, touching an elbow to the opposite knee and breathing in with your tongue on the roof of your mouth and then exhaling with the tongue down. Taking walks in nature helps get you bilateral and helps alleviate depression. Take your fish oil and supplements daily and commit to achieving a goal every day.
Q: My boyfriend smokes pot all day and does very little. What can I do to encourage him to get more active?
A: Talking probably goes in one ear and out the other, so let actions do your speaking. Spend time with him only when he’s himself. That means not living with him.
Q: I’ve gotten in the habit of smoking pot throughout the day. How can I stop?
A: Why are you surrounding yourself in a fog? Ask yourself what you don’t want to face. Are you self-medicating for a problem such as ADD or anxiety? Research healthy remedies. Find a support group such as Narcotics Anonymous that feels compatible with you. It’s difficult to kick an addiction by yourself.
Q: My friend is in an abusive relationship and it’s really hard to talk to her about it. It worries me that he is really going to hurt her.
A: What about organizing a group intervention with people she’s close to? She might pay more attention to a group than to just one person. Talk to the local shelter for battered women about how to communicate with your friend.
Q: My girlfriend is from a traditional family and wants me to ask her father for permission to marry her. I don’t need his permission and don’t want to ask for it.
A: Ask for her parents’ blessing since we all can benefit from good wishes.
Q: Impatient or grouchy people irritate me. How can I cope?
A: Make it a game to see if you can get them to smile and give them a sincere compliment.
Q: People tell me their troubles and I feel responsible for helping, which is tiring. How can I protect myself without being unkind?
A: Remind yourself that we learn by working through the consequences of our mistakes, so being rescued can interfere with the growth process. Instead of automatically responding to troubles talk, take a breath and ask yourself what’s the highest good for you and the other person. If you don’t have the energy to be centered and grounded, unless it’s a real emergency tell the person you’ll get back to him or her.
Q: How can I correct and guide my child so he hears me?
A: For useful suggestions, visit www.askdrsears.com/html/6/t061000.asp and www.fabermazlish.com.
Q: I’m the mom both at home and at work in that I make sure tasks get done. I’m tired of it, but I can’t depend on others not to forget to pay the bills or whatever and it’s easier to do it myself. I also tend to be a perfectionist and a pleaser.
A: People end up resenting the one who mothers them. Delegate tasks that others can do, so they can be adults. For example, set up an electronic reminder system to let you and the person in charge know that the bills are due in three days. Have a family whiteboard where anyone can post chores that need to be done. Take turns picking the job you want or rotate them. Having it visual keeps the mother/administrator from having to make annoying verbal reminders. You could also schedule a few hours weekly for family work, backed up by fun music and a reward upon completion.
Before starting a big task, ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 100 how perfectly does it need to be done? If it’s a 60, don’t expend the energy to make it 100. Get in the habit of noticing when you start to get anxious and stressed by many things to do. Take a deep breath and look at a calming picture of nature you’ve posted in your office. When you feel guilty about delegating work, or nurturing yourself, think of it as preventive medicine to avoid burnout and illness. Be as conscientious about caring for yourself as others.
Q: I chew my fingers all the time to the point that they bleed. I know I should stop but I can’t. Any hope for me?
A: It feels as if it’s a tension release, like a volcano has to release built-up pressure from magma. To deal with the cause rather than the symptom, work with a therapist about unresolved emotions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. To avoid feeling more guilt and shame, tell yourself it could be worse—you’re not a drug addict. Keep a journal of the triggers, such as boredom or anxiety. When you’re in a trigger situation, rub your hand reflexology points to keep your fingers busy: You’ll find a chart on the Internet.
Q: I always want to find my answer by myself and now I don’t know what is right. What if I am wrong again? What if I try another job and it’s again not right for me and I waste my time again?My inner child’s nerves never have a rest, always devoured by the fear. I am ashamed to say but inside I am actually still a child who doesn’t know how to take the next step.
A: Think about life as learning lessons, so we can evolve like all of nature. You’ve learned something from each of your jobs and struggles, so they’re not a waste of time. You’re getting clearer on what you want in a career. Throughout life we continue to be imperfect, to make mistakes. The point is to learn from them, not to get it right the first time or be perfect—an impossibility.
The other point is to learn how to determine which is your highest inner guidance, and which is a lower subpersonality in the unconscious lacking in wisdom. Ask for clarity on your next career move before you sleep and take quiet time to be able to hear your inner guidance. If you listen, you’ll know when a job is right for you, although probably not forever.
It’s good that you realize the power of your inner child. With our core issues it takes a lifetime of peeling the onion skins, so don’t expect that just because you see the pattern it’s resolved. We all keep our inner-child subpersonality all our lives. Read John Bradshaw about how to work with the child to make it feel nurtured. The child can be a source of fun and creativity.
Q: I’m not doing my high school work because I don’t want to do what teachers say to do.
A: You have an unconscious subpersonality that feels that if if you’re compliant you’ll lose your individuality and self-respect. Instead of letting that voice run the show and shoot you in the foot, listen to your smart self that says you may want to go to college as a stepping-stone to a good job and to expanding your learning horizons.
Q: My kids have left home, I’m single, and my beloved old dog died. How can I find purpose again?
A: Instead of looking at the glass as half empty, think about its being half full. You have freedom to do what you want. Go back to college? Change jobs? Learn a new skill? Set up regular phone, Skype, and email conversations with your kids so you feel connected. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your dog as you would that of a close friend; that unconditional love is difficult to lose. Schedule interesting new activities such as taking a dance class.
Q: I’m still jealous and angry when I see my ex with another guy, even though I know we’re better off separated. Anything I can do?
A: When you see her with a date, ask yourself, “How long would I enjoy being with her before I got irritated and bored?” It’s human nature to feel rejected, to think that “if I were special, she couldn’t find anyone as good and would pine away for me.” The reality is that primates don’t tend to pair-bond for life like some birds do. You’ll meet someone else when you’re more detached from your ex. Give yourself time to heal and assimilate what the relationship taught you.
Q: My live-in lover left me to live with a neighbor. I see his car every day, a painful reminder of being dumped. What can I do?
A: Imagine signs painted on the car, such as “Time to move on” or “Remember how I like watching TV all day.”
Q: My wife and I run a small business with many projects going on at the same time. How can I be less stressed?
A: When you experience a lot of demands it feels as if you speed up to try to handle them all. When this happens, blood goes to the midbrain, the emotional limbic center, instead of the rational forebrain, as when some people experience exam anxiety and can’t access what they’ve learned. Take a deep breath to oxygenate your brain and then put your hand on the bumps on your forehead, thinking of a peaceful place. Build in time for daily exercise to release tension. Trace horizontal figure eights with your eyes and/or hands, as any movement that crosses the midline of the body helps balance the energy field. To read more stress-management techniques, visit www.gaylekimball.wordpress.com.
Make a firm rule. When you are on your weekly date, no discussion of work. Voice appreciation for each other daily. If one of you feels she or he is doing more work and has less leisure time for health maintenance, make a list of all the tasks and divide them up fairly.
Q: I’m a guy who tends to be an observer rather than an engager. I use humor to make people laugh but also to keep from close contact. What can I do to open my heart more?
A: I’d journal about painful experiences that conditioned you to be afraid of intimacy, and discuss them with someone you trust. If you release some of the hurt to heal the wounds, you’ll be able to risk greater intimacy.
Q: I’m in the process of remembering painful childhood events, but I’m not sure they actually happened. How can I know what’s true?
A: It’s all true for your unconscious mind, so acknowledge each memory with respect and mindfulness, and then release it into the present. Try visualizing a ring of fire around you where you dump and burn up the pain. Sometimes we pick up on repeated thoughts and feelings directed at us; they have an impact even though there was no physical follow-through. For example, if a creepy adult has sick fantasies about a child but doesn’t act on them, the child still feels the thought pattern on an unconscious level and it needs to be cleared out.
Q: My parents and I end up yelling at each other because I do things that annoy them, but they don’t say anything until they’re really ticked off.
A: Suggest a weekly family meeting at which you check in with each other. Start by each person speaking for a few minutes without interruption. Learn about effective communication skills. It makes a big difference to use “I messages” rather than blaming “You messages.” End with appreciation for each other and doing something fun, or else no one will want another family meeting.