Archive for September, 2013

Soul Medicine Can Make You A Healthier Person!

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Body and Soul.  You probably have heard that descriptive combination of words in a variety of contexts.  I doubt, however, that you will have heard or understood them in the perspective that I am about to present.  Two respected authors, a medicine man – Norman Shealy, M.D. and a research scientist investigating “soul” impact on the body – Dawson Church, Ph.D., have written a book entitled SOUL MEDICINE.  Are you interested in what this means?  Stay with me for it is fascinating material, with implications for your well being.

First off, “Soul” has been described in many ways, particularly in religious or musical frameworks.  Some even speak of it in a romantic way such as “Soul Mate”. In this book the authors define their meaning of “Soul”.  It is “a personalized expression of the universal field, as the divine aspect of a human being, of God expressed at the level of a single being, or as a personhood made manifest through pure consciousness, as opposed to physical or mental form”.   Got that!? Seekers of extended knowledge,  let’s move on. This isn’t fluff.

A beginning point is to understand Epigenics.  Epigenics looks at the influences on DNA from outside the cell.  The biochemical environment in which cells exist has a profound effect on which genes are activated.  The energy environment has an even more rapid effect than the chemical one on gene function and direction.  Bottom line deduction here is that you are born with a certain DNA, our hand me down genes from our biological parents and their ancestors.  These genes can activate or evolve in a variety of directions depending on the biochemical environment and the energy field present.

Needless to say, this reality has a lot to say with regard to pregnancy, birth, and early childhood environment and development.  The brain which drives all thinking, feeling, and behavior is particularly vulnerable to potential changes as it evolves into its “wired” state.

Shealy and Church speak of three “pillars” of Soul Medicine:

  1. A human being is an ENERGY SYSTEM. Every atom in the body vibrates at a certain energy level.
  2. CONSCIOUSNESS affects the energy system. Genes and consciousness interact. A change in Consciousness automatically changes the energy system.  Some knowledge of quantum physics enables you to further understand this evolving energy system impacting your DNA.
  3. INTENTION provides the power, the motivating force, to set in motion the complex chain of events that result in personal growth and healing. Intention conditions the field of Consciousness, reorganizing energy to create such an optimal energy field.

Your thought, or intention, effects an energy change.  Are you familiar with the term placebo?  The placebo effect is one example of this. A person thinks (believes) that a certain pill will cure a particular ailment. In reality the pill is a simple sugar pill having no potency. Yet healing often takes place. Why? It is because the person converts a belief into a very specific molecule having a different biochemical reality which in turn produces a different (healing) result.

Another more mundane example. A group of women got together to have a fun weekend getaway playing tennis and drinking Bloody Mary’s.  As they consumed more and more of this beverage their behavior changed. They were feeling the “buzz”. They became giddy and more extroverted in their conversation and antics.  Later they realized, much to their chagrin, that they had forgotten to put the vodka into the Bloody Mary mix!  But because they hadbelieved vodka was in the drink, they experienced the “buzz” and frivolity that resulted. (Ask my wife for details!)

Let me close, finally, emphasizing the practical point that the brain changes (neuroplasticity) depending on how you perceive information. Perceptions “wire” the brain which then lead to further thoughts, feelings, and consequent behavior.

A situation I encounter daily involves this principle.  I listen to a husband and wife describe a situation.  Both were present. Yet their description, based on their perception and consequent belief, and the emotion connected with it, lead to vastly different conclusions.  This then in turn leads to some pretty negative behavior by one or both of them.

In conclusion, I hope you have enjoyed this foray into some of the latest research on the brain and it implications for your life.   This is significant information!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”       Socrates

“It’s a Long Trip Alone!” Don’t “Stumble”

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

“IT’S A LONG TRIP ALONE”:  WHO LOVES YOU –“TIL DEATH DO US PART?

JOHN J. STATHAS, Ph.D., LMFT

There is a popular country song sung by Dierkes Bentley called “Long Trip Alone”.

Some of the lyrics follow:

It’s a long trip alone over sand and stone

that lie along the road that we all must travel down.

So maybe you could walk with me a while

and maybe I could rest beneath your smile.

Everybody stumbles sometimes and needs a hand to hold,

‘Cause it’s a long trip alone.

And I don’t know where I’d be without you here,

‘Cause I’m not really me without you here.

 

All of us “stumble” in various ways along the road of life.  Are you aware of your

“stumbles”, past and present?  They are hurtful, scary, angering, perhaps even guilt producing.

I was playing golf recently in a foursome.  One of the men was recovering from a very serious “stumble” along the road of life.  He had a major blood clot that almost caused him to lose a leg, perhaps his life.  With tears in his eyes he spoke of how he would not have survived the extended and painful ordeal if it had not been for his wife.  Her support, physically and emotionally, faith, and overall nurturing had pulled him through.  He said that he could not have made it alone – without her.  Each of us was touched by his sincere sharing.  Then in turn the others of us shared our “stumbles” and how our wives had been there for us in similar fashion.  The misty eyed foursome then resumed our game. (It is amazing what men might talk about on the golf course, besides the usual male humorous cutting down banter)

Not too long ago I spoke with a man who had lost his wife in death to cancer. He talked about how he had devotedly been there for her during her long and final travail.  He loved her dearly and spoke fondly of their times together and her wonderful contribution to his life.  Now he was alone – and it was very difficult.  He was “stumbling”.

Do you have a significant other who is there for you through thick and thin – “til death do us part”?  Are you currently are in a committed relationship and yet feel “alone” in your walk of life?  If so, is there anything that you can do to make the relationship better so that you can have true partner that you can reciprocally nurture when either of you “stumble”? If you are alone, is there anything you might do or change that would enable you to have a significant other so that you don’t have to make that “long trip alone”?

If you are fortunate to have a true life partner, be sure to thank the person often and do your part to be supportive “along the road that we all must travel down”.

 

Might You Have Paranoid Tendencies? Find Out Here!

Friday, September 13th, 2013

“Are you paranoid” is a question people oft times ask of someone, sometimes in jest, sometimes with a note of concern.  Like most mental health frames of mind, paranoia can be understood across a spectrum of severity and type.  This article will give you a glimpse of what paranoia is and some of its expressions.

A working definition from Mosby’s Medical Dictionary follows:

  1. “A condition characterized by an elaborate, overly suspicious system of thinking.  It often includes delusions of persecution and grandeur usually centered on one major theme such as a financial matter, a job situation, an unfaithful spouse, etc…”

People with paranoid disorder tend to have excessive trust in their own knowledge and abilities and usually avoid close relationships with others. They tend to be defensive and antagonistic.  When they are at fault they cannot accept blame, not even mild criticism. They are convinced they are right. They do not trust others.

Paranoid individuals are usually delusional holding firm beliefs that are untrue, not shared by others in the culture, and not easily modifiable.  People with grandiose delusions feel they have been endowed with special powers that could cure diseases, banish poverty, or perform other extraordinary feats. They tend to be very obsessed with their beliefs.

The exact cause of paranoia is unknown.  Potential causal factors may be genetics, neurological abnormalities, changes in brain chemistry, and stress. Paranoia is also a possible side effect of drug use and alcohol abuse.

Some types of paranoia are:

  1. Persecutory: person believes that those around him are his enemies bent on harming him.
  2. Delusion of Grandeur: person believes himself to be a great individual with unique insights and gifts. This condition usually includes a persecutory dimension.
  3. Religious: a delusion focusing in the religious realm. Example: person believes s/he is a messenger from God.
  4. Reformatory: the person considers him/her self a reformer or curator.
  5. Hypochondriac: person believes s/he is suffering from all kinds of ridiculous diseases.

There are other idiosyncratic types but these are the most common.

The paranoid person is difficult to treat.  A chief reason is that the paranoid person rarely admits to this disorder and submits to treatment.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is usually the psychotherapy of choice.  Because the paranoid person finds it difficult to be wrong or change s/he presents a real challenge to the therapist.  Occasionally a variety of medications may be tried depending on the symptoms presented as well as the acceptance by the person who tends to be distrustful of any intervention or medicine.

Again, I would like to stress that paranoia like any other abnormal mental condition must be seen across a spectrum of severity, ranging from mild to serious. Such a diagnosis must be made only by a competent professional.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

Do You Tend To Be A Wimp Or A Bully In Your Communication Style? This Inventory May Help You Know!

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Every relationship is an exchange of power.  The power may vary depending on the

closeness of the relationship and the impactfulness of a particular person.  The goal is to

have a WIN-WIN result where each person feels valued and empowered by the interchange.

Too often, however, relationship exchanges end up WIN-LOSE or LOSE-LOSE.  A person’s

communication style has a lot to do with the outcome.

Do you know your customary way of communicating with people?  Do you tend toward

being an unassertive pleaser or an aggressive controller?   Take the following inventory and you will have an

indication about your style.

Answer each question with a 0-1-2-3-4

0 = no or never 1= somewhat or sometimes   2= average, somewhere in the middle

3= usually or often      4= practically always or entirely

1.  When a person is highly unfair, do you call it to his/her attention?

2.  Do you find it difficult to make decisions?

3.  Are you openly critical of others’ ideas, opinions, behavior?

4.  Do you speak up in protest when someone moves ahead of you in line?

5.  Do you often avoid people or situations for fear of embarrassment?

6.  Do you usually have confidence in your own judgment?

7.  Do you insist that your spouse or roommate take on a fair share of household chores?

8.  Are you prone to “fly off the handle?”

9.  When a salesperson makes an effort, do you have trouble saying no?

10.When a latecomer is waited on before you are, do you call attention to the situation?

11.Are you reluctant to speak up in a discussion or debate?

12.If a person has borrowed something from you, and it is overdue, do you mention it?

13.Do you continue to pursue an argument after the other person has had enough?

14.Do you generally express what you feel?

15.Are you disturbed if someone watches you at work?

16.If someone keep bumping your chair in a movie or lecture, do you ask the person to stop?

17.Do you find it difficult to maintain eye contact when talking to another person?

18.When your meal is improperly cooked or served in a restaurant, do you ask for satisfaction?

19.When you discover faulty merchandise, do you return it for an adjustment?

20.Do you show your anger by name-calling or obscenities?

21.Are you shy in social situations?

22.Do you insist that your landlord, mechanic, repairman, etc… “make things right?”

23.Do you often step in and make decisions for others?

24.Are you able to openly express love and affection?

25.Are you able to ask your friends for small favors or help?

26.Do you think you always have the right answer?

27.When you differ with a person you respect, are you able to speak up for your viewpoint?

28.Are you able to refuse unreasonable requests by friends?

29.Do you have difficulty complimenting or praising others?

30.If you are very disturbed by someone smoking near you, can you say so to the person?

31.Do you shout or use bullying tactics to get others to do as you wish?

32.Do you finish other people’s sentences for them?

33.Do you get into physical fights with others, especially strangers?

34.At family meals, do you control the conversation?

35.When you meet a stranger, are you the first to introduce yourself and begin conversation?

The inventory above should give you a sense of which way you lean on a continuum from

unassertive-passive to an assertive-aggressive posture in communication.

UNASSERTIVE behavior: shying away, not communicating what you see or feel; withdrawing, being oblique and vague. The other person does not really know where you stand.

AGGRESSIVE behavior: direct communication of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at the expense of the other.  Win at any cost.

ASSERTIVE behavior: direct, honest, appropriate communication of thoughts, feelings, and behavior that respects one’s own rights and those of others.  Win-win communication and collaboration.

 

Marriage: To End It Or Work On It? Factors To Consider

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Over the span of your lifetime you are called to make many choices. You chose to continue your schooling, or not. You chose a career, a place to live, etc. You chose to marry a particular person(s).  You chose to have a child. Or did you have an “oops” kid? Each of these decisions, and every other one you have made, results in some consequence. Choices involve trade-offs.  “Every decision involves an incision”. You chose X, you cut off the possibility of Y.

One of the most challenging choices is to stay or leave a marriage.  Many of the people I see in therapy are dealing with this dilemma. Certainly each person, each marriage, is unique and has a variety of variables affecting such a decision.

I would like to address a few of the most common factors involved in making a decision to stay or leave a marriage.

1. LOVE:  What is it for you and are you still “in love” with your partner?  Most people who are married, have lived together for a number of years and, perhaps, have had children still have a “love” for the other person – but they just don’t like him/her any more. Are you angry at your spouse for something s/he did or did not do?  Is being “in love” with your partner capable of being recreated?  Are both of you willing to try?

2. CHILDREN: That’s a huge factor – perhaps the biggest for many. Are there kids involved?  What age? What likely affect will a divorce have on them, i.e. emotionally, time spent with each spouse, any move involved, etc…?  What about grandkids and time spent with them?  How about future family gatherings?

FINANCES: Another huge factor in such a decision.  What are the financial implications for a split up?  Asset split, who gets what?  How will the quality of life be affected?  Selling of the house?  Retirement monies? Back to the job market for one/both of you?

FUTURE LIFE: Might you re-marry?  Have someone in the wings? Would you want to re-marry or has this one soured you too much.  Want more children? Your age certainly has something to do with this one.

These are the major factors for most people thinking of splitting up.  There are others.  A choice to stay or leave has significant implications in many areas of your life. Too often people make emotional knee jerk decisions not thinking through the long term ramifications.

What continues to amaze me is how many people refuse to work on their marriage with a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  Sometimes they will talk with their physician or preacher – neither of whom is adequately trained for marriage counseling.

Specialists are needed for any personal disorder, physically, spiritually, or maritally.

So many individuals steadfastly refuse to change some basic behaviors that are contributing to the demise of the marriage. Stubborn! Such issues would include alcohol and drug intake, an affair, verbal and physical abuse, etc…  Not only do these people refuse to stop the negative factors, they refuse to learn positive things that could enhance the marriage. So many people will not put their marriage and family first. What a shame!  It is gratifying to see those who will vote for their marriage and put in the effort to give it a fair shot for survival.

This is not to say that some people should not get divorced. Some people married the “wrong” person, have been the victim of serious irredeemable violations, no longer are “a fit” based on a number of factors. Let no one judge the decisions of another.  You have not “walked in their shoes.

Bottom line here, if you or someone you know is in a “bad marriage”, please consider the awesome ramifications, short and long term, that usually are involved in whatever choice you make – to stay or leave.  Make a choice that is well thought out.  Please!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates