Q: I’m starting to date seriously. What should I look for in a partner?
A: If you’re looking for a man, avoid one who had either a controlling mother or a mother who did everything for him. Some men tell me they avoid especially beautiful women because beautiful people get used to being served. In either sex, look for a best friend who is interesting to talk with and whom you respect, and who is attractive to you. We tend to attract the familiar, so think about the relationship patterns you experienced growing up and decide what you want to repeat and what you want to do differently.
I asked a newly single man about his perspective on dating. He said, “So many people are socially conditioned to be a princess/player. We co-create our relationships so they do mirror our weaknesses. Going into a relationship thinking we aren’t going to get hurt or work is naive. Our society has a skewed point of view about love; most people think of love as all about themselves, but really, love is wanting the best for someone else. Relationship love is the dance of giving and taking. To return to a love life, dating, one should be ready to love unconditionally and expect nothing in return. There are lots of guided meditations for new lovers. Be playful, have fun; for myself I don’t plan to give away my heart so easily. If a person likes someone, tell him or her! I honestly rarely have any idea if a girl likes me because she doesn’t say it and acts aloof. And guys have no clue what they want versus need. Love is constantly morphing, recycling, undying, reemerging.”
Q: My boyfriend’s mother tries to break us up. She announced she’s coming to visit us in our small apartment, without consulting me and I don’t know for how long. How can I survive?
A: She will try to bait you to lash out at her so her son will defend her. She’ll look for flaws in your housekeeping and how you relate to her son, so don’t take the bait. Go out and exercise or do volunteer work or whatever to stay away from her and keep your cool. Focus on your breathing before you say anything to her no matter how irritated and angry you feel. You may need to go visit a friend while she’s there. When she leaves make it clear to your boyfriend that in the future you expect to be consulted about houseguests.
Q: I have two bosses who harass me at work, keeping me from sleeping at night and from enjoying life. What can I do?
A: Look for allies who are on your team. Keep a record of any unfair or illegal actions by your bosses. Instead of being defensive, think about the struggle as a chess game in which you successfully block their moves to undermine you. It really helped me at CSUC to read Chimpanzee Politics by Franz de Whaal about the dominance struggles, alliance forming, and posturing of chimps, so you look at your workplace as if you are a primatologist. You can also think of it as a chess game to give yourself some perspective. You’re probably looking for another job.
Q: My significant other lies to me and is often unpredictable and mean to me. What should I do?
A: Talk with a therapist about why you are attracted to punishment and don’t feel deserving of love. Remember that about 80 percent of our behavior is governed by the unconscious. I would read Voice Dialogue articles that define common subpersonalities so that you can take charge and not let self-sabotage run your life.
Q: I suffer from ongoing depression and anxiety but don’t want to take drugs. What can I do to feel better?
A: Researchers at Rutgers University reduced symptoms of depression by 40 percent with an eight-week program combining 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and mindfulness meditation focusing on breathing. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends at least five days a week of exercise, plus breathing exercises. Kathi Kemper, MD, suggests remedies for anxiety in her book Mental Health, Naturally. Natural remedies that contain GABA, ashwagandha, chamomile, B vitamins, L-tryptophan, SAMe, and 5-HTP can help balance neurotransmitters. A new approach is use of the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus strain R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum strain R0175 as sold by Life Extension.
Q: I’m starting out in my career. What do I need to know about financial planning?
A: If they are available at work, fund your 401(k) and IRA to the limit and have the investment deducted from your paycheck. Invest in a stock index fund with a little in a bond fund using a discount broker. Keep an emergency reserve in a money market account. If you decide to hire a financial planner, pick one who charges a fee rather than a percentage of your investment. Buy basic term life insurance if you have dependents and make a will. Avoid credit card interest by paying the card off right away and consider a card that will give you a mile of air travel for every dollar spent. Some will give you 25,000 miles to sign up so it’s worth the yearly fee for the card.
Q: I’m the head of a business who has had trouble with dishonest employees so I have to do most of the work, plus I have young children and a wife. My coping technique is to drink, which distresses my family. I go to AA. Other ideas?
A: Build daily physical exercise into your schedule to relieve tension. Think of pressure to get so much done as a boa constrictor squeezing you. When you’re aware of the pressure, imagine melting the boa away and listen to calming music and exercising. If you’re grounded and centered in the sixth chakra rather than the reaction second chakra, you won’t be as reactive. (Learn these techniques in my monthly Mind Power workshop at the Yoga Center of Chico, which carries my books in the store.) Also, try to make jokes about the stressors because laughing is relaxing. I’m sure you’ll do background checks and extensive interviews with future employees.
Q: I’m too sensitive and emotionally reactive to other people’s emotions and judgments. What can I do not to feel so raw?
A: Instead of reacting from your emotional second chakra below the navel, shift to the sixth chakra by imagining a peaceful room behind your eyes in the center of your head. This chakra is neutral and clear seeing. Imagine an iridescent bubble defining your energy field separate from other people’s bubbles. Intend that it filter out other people’s emotions. Give a number to how reactive you are on a scale from 1 to 10 and visualize turning it down to 1. Say the kundalini yoga mantra Sat Nam: “Truth is my identity.” In psychological terms, develop an internal locus of control rather than an external one, meaning you feel in charge of your life.
Q: My mother abandoned me when I was 5. I’m still angry. I need a powerful EFT (emotional freedom technique) script to put all my systems back in order; I need to get all this unforgiveness, hurt, and anger out of my system so I can heal my body.
A: I would tap on this:
“Even though I’m still angry that my mother abandoned me, I deeply and completely accept myself and maybe her.”
“I love and forgive myself and maybe her.”
“I choose to focus on enjoying my present.”
Readers can email me for info on emotional freedom technique.