Archive for November, 2015

Are You All That You Can Be? Meeting Your Essential Needs?

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Are you all that you can be?  Do you know your potential?  Your needs?  What stage of fulfillment are you?

 

Researchers have categorized most human needs under the following five categories, in hierarchical developmental order:

  1. SURVIVAL & SAFETY

Basic for all of us is to be able to exist with some degree of physical and emotional safety.  Over the course of one’s life many people have cause to worry about bodily harm or psychological abuse.  Are you here?

  1. SENSE OF CONTROL AND PREDICTABILITY

Anxiety and fear are lessened when one can feel in control of one’s life and not be subject to the whims of another.  Having some sense of predictability about what will happen gives one a sense of well-being and confidence.  It is a starting point for building trust.  Are you here?

  1. TO FEEL LOVED, LOVABLE & WORTHY OF RESPECT

To experience love and respect opens up new dimensions of human capacity – a deep connection within oneself.  Self worth becomes inherent, integrated into the core of one’s being.  Openness and the ability to share love is one’s modus operandi. Are you here?

  1. TO BELONG

A person reaches out and affiliates, becomes a part of some form of community.  Isolation evolves into inclusion and participation. One extends a caring hand to others and invites them into acceptance.  Are you here?

  1. PURPOSE AND MEANING IN LIFE

When one reaches this heightened stage of existence one is able to see beyond the mundane to the celestial. One is able to co-create a world of goodness and  caring based on a spiritual source and substance.  Are you here?

 

A person’s evolution through this existence has many bumps, bruises, and detours.  It helps to look at one’s personal make-up to assess where one is and what is the next step.  Where are you?  Also, are you supporting and guiding those whom you love, those in your care, through these passages toward fulfillment. We need benchmarks and road maps to help us move forward and be accountable for our lives.  I hope the above framework gives you something to help you look in your personal mirror to see where you are in the journey of life.

 

A Thanksgiving Reflection

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

We celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving today.  Thanks  giving.    Giving  thanks.  Are you thankful?  Are you giving thanks to anyone?  I invite you to use this column as an opportunity to reflect on what this holiday means to you.

Thanksgiving is different than other holidays.  It is not about gift giving, Easter eggs, patriotism, or religious practices.  It is about uniting, coming together.

Thanksgiving is about family.  No other holiday brings family together in quite the same way.  Airlines and highways are crowded as family members assemble.  It is not just about that tasty turkey!

Walk down memory lane for a moment.  What was Thanksgiving like in your family when you were growing up?  What was your family like?  Extended family?  What kind of family do you have now?  What people are considered “family” for you? How will you celebrate, or just get through, Thanksgiving this year?

As we grow older family members go off in various directions, physically and emotionally, for different reasons. Some remain close, others have little connection.  There are reasons.

Dysfunctional families, divorces, and deaths have left people bereft of available family members.  You may be glad some are gone, others are mourned.  John Bradshaw, a noted family psychologist, has written about “family of origin” and “family of choice”.  For those who do not have a healthy connection with their biological and marital related family, they can create/choose a different kind of “family”.  These family members may come from church, synagogue, recovery community/group, neighborhood, or “Cheers” tavern.

Thanksgiving can be a very lonely day for some if there is no “family” present for connection.  If you are in a position to invite such a person into your gathering, please do so.  Or, perhaps, go to a place that is serving turkey to the homeless or other less fortunate people.

Hopefully this Thanksgiving will be special as you are able to participate in a loving and welcoming “family” of one sort or another – and that you are giving thanks for that.  If not this year, perhaps you can create a better “family” to share in next year.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

P.S. I give thanks to you for reading my articles and giving me the positive feedback you so generously share.

 

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

“A Peaceful Life”: Tips To Walk The Path!

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I believe most of us would like to live a peaceful life, one with minimal stress with a sense of well being and joy  permeating our being.  Along life’s path I doubt that you received the manual as to how to gain this way of life. You, like most of us, have picked up bits of wisdom here and there and have tried to incorporate them into our lives. A gentle man of peace, Dalai Lama, has offered his perspective has presented by the blog Expanded Consciousness.  I present them to you with my added commentary.

  1. “Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.” I know from personal experience that it was scary for me to let down my “desperado defenses” to marry Sherry, the love of my life. Also, it was scary leaving my Dean position at Kennesaw State University to start a private practice from scratch while having two small children. As Kierkegaard proclaimed, “a leap of faith” is called for to get the great achievements.
  2. “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson”. Too often people keep doing the same failing things over and over because they have not learned the “lesson”. I see this in my practice over and over, especially in the area of relationships. As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
  3. “Follow the three R’s: Respect for self. Respect for others. Responsibility for all your actions.” I believe respect and trust are the cornerstones, along with love, for a life worth living.
  4. “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
  5. “Learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.”
  6. “Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.” The ability to forgive, let go, and re-connect, if the relationship is worth it, is an important task. Stubbornness and a false pride can keep you stuck.
  7. “When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.” Too often people try to hide their mistakes, or lie about them.
  8. “Spend time alone each day.” This is a gem. Too few people do this. I relish my alone time, whether it be sitting quietly, riding a bike, or on the water in my boat. These times serve as a time of de-stressing, reflecting, gaining renewed energy.
  9. “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” To remain a person of integrity and be open to a better way to move forward can be challenging, but most satisfying ultimately.
  10. “Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.” This one has often been a challenge for me. I continually try to remember that everything I think and feel does not need to come out of my mouth!
  11. “Live a good honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.”
  12. “A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.” If I have learned anything over the years of my practice it is how great your home life affects every aspect of your life forever.
  13. “In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.” This may be the biggest roadblock I have in counseling with couples. They, more so the ladies, keep bringing up the past and refuse to let go. Thus, moving forward is difficult.
  14. “Share your knowledge, it is a way to achieve immortality.” Wisdom is meant to be shared for a positive evolutionary thrust into the future.
  15. “Be gentle with the earth.”
  16. “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” What a neat idea! Continuing to experience new people and places certainly adds to more knowledge and “expanded consciousness”.
  17. “Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” Needy relationships do not grow, do not last. They are built on weakness, co-dependence, as opposed to synergistic interdependence. Love is expansive in it very nature.
  18. “Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” Have not thought of that before but find it true in my life. Profound.
  19. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.” Compassion and empathy are soulful connections of respect and caring. Worthy gifts to be shared.
  20. “If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” The Dalai Lama either wanted to emphasize “compassion” or he wanted to end with 20 and couldn’t think of anything else!

Well, Respected Reader, how well do you do with these lessons? Which ones particularly do you want to work on? I’ve got a couple that need some attention. Glad I wrote this for I have “expanded my consciousness” in order to live a more “peaceful life”!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

Are You Creating A Healthy Family? Know What One Is?

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Do you have a healthy family?  Did you come from a healthy family? Do you know what a healthy family is so that you can answer the first two questions?  I would like to share with you my version of what a healthy family is.

CHARACTERISTICS:

  1. ACTIVELY LOVE EACH OTHER: There are daily hugs and “I love you’s” shared. Loving words and hugs help to make the home a place to feel secure. Security, physical and emotional, is a basic building block for healthy development.
  2. RESPECT and TRUST: Lying doesn’t happen. Privacy is respected. Independence is fostered. Consistency is the norm.
  3. COMMUNICATES: Individuals:  ASSERT their thoughts and feelings. LISTEN to each other. THANK one another. FORGIVE one another. RECONCILE.
  4. WORKS and PLAYS TOGETHER: Goals are established and reached. Fun happens. Laughter exists.
  5. EXPECTATIONS: Rules and responsibilities are understood and carried out. Consequences, positive and negative, are consistently enforced.
  6. FLEXIBILITY and ADAPTABILITY: Things are not rigid. The family is developmental as it goes through the various ages and stages. Change is welcomed.
  7. VALUES and MORALS: Spirituality and ethical behavior is taught and lived. Boundaries are clear and respected.

STRENGTHS:

  1. INSIGHT/AWARENESS: Individuals are tuned into what is going on around them. Perceptions are stated, questions are asked.
  2. INDEPENDENCE: Physically and emotionally. A strong sense of self, not needy or dependent.
  3. RELATIONSHIP CAPABILITY: Able to develop healthy and appropriate relationships in various situation and stages of life, i.e., work, play, friendship, romance.
  4. INITIATIVE: Seeing an opportunity and doing something positive about it.
  5. CREATIVITY: Be able to create when needed or desired.
  6. HUMOR: Be able to laugh.
  7. INTEGRITY: Have an informed conscience and be able to put it into practice. “Walk the talk”.

Well, Respected Reader, what do you think? Is this the family you came from? Is this the family you are, or will be, creating? Hopefully this treatise has given you further insight and motivation to create and participate in a healthy family!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Your Marriage Creates Good Or Bad Chemicals In Your Brain!

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

The brain runs the show. So, train it! Brain chemicals react to various stimulators. The more vulnerable you are in certain conditions determines the chemical response. If you feel safe and nurtured the “feel good” chemical of oxytocin is released. If you are feeling threatened in any fashion, the “flight or fight” chemical cortisol is released. Oxytocin fuels the brain and body, while the stress chemical cortisol depletes.

Marriage partners are vulnerable to each other. Therefore they are susceptible to strong chemical reactions as they interface. Positive interactions promote safety, connection, and closeness, thus keeping the oxytocin flowing. Negative interactions cause fear and anger. Cortisol seeps in.

Dr. Athena Staik, prominent relationship therapist, suggests five behaviors that couples should be continually doing to ensure that oxytocin bonding continues. Such behaviors ward off the stressful cortisol depletion sending couples into the “fight or flight” mode.

  1. PROVIDE ASSURANCE: Unexpected disappointment or demand zaps your energy and makes you feel uncertain of your partner’s love. Consistent words and actions keep that desired closeness. That old Holiday Inn ad speaks here: “The best surprise is no surprise”.
  2. RESPECT ONE ANOTHER – UNCONDITIONALLY: No matter what differences of opinion that arise or anger that mounts, respect needs to be maintained. Respect and trust are the foundations of a loving union.
  3. STAY FOCUSED ON ACTION-BASED SOLUTIONS – NOT PROBLEMS: Partners in good relationships maintain an awareness of what is going on between them. They identify problem issues quickly and then focus their energies on finding solutions and consequent positive actions to keep the momentum of a satisfying secure relationship.
  4. MAINTAIN POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS: Expectations are beliefs. Beliefs affect our emotions and, thus, the behaviors that result. Couples in solid relationships expect the best and do what is necessary. Positive expectations raise the probability of good outcomes.
  5. BE FLEXIBLE: Flexible thinking is a must for relationships to continue to thrive over time. The flexible brain is open to explore possibilities that pragmatically work to energize the couple to make decisions fostering a love connection.

Bottom line here, Respected Reader, is that if you want to develop and maintain a safe loving relationship, you need to raise your consciousness as to what your, and your mate’s, brain need. The brain thrives on oxytocin.  So create it and ward off the threatening cortisol! High consciousness loving individuals train their brain so that it can lead to a loving sustained union between two people who value the relationship and create the necessary chemical foundation. Are you one of them?