Tuesday, January 27, 2009

YAHOO!! You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks!

You Always Have Other Options! YAHOO! This is something I believe, and I encourage you to. I came across YAHOO in a book I was reading by Dr. Frank Lawlis, The Stress Answer. He talks a lot about brain plasticity, which is a scientific term for your brain being able to make changes as needed throughout your life (even if you are an "old dog"). I've been reading about this fairly new concept, plasticity, for the past few years. It offers a mechanism for what I've thought about how people are able to break bad habits, and develop new good ones. I knew we could do it, now I understand better how it works in the brain. Often it happens without direct effort by us. For example, when someone goes blind, their brain makes other senses, like hearing and touch, improve significantly to help compensate for the loss of sight. However, we can make it happen for us to make important but difficult changes in our lives.

People used to think that the majority of our brain development is done by the time we're young adults. Not so. We can make changes in how our brain works, all the way up to the end of our lives. Those of you who have ailing older family members who seem stuck in their ways, or like they can't learn new things, should consider this. Of course you need to have a lot of patience.

I am putting some of this information together to develop a Plan to help those people who feel themselves to be in a rut, not happy with their lives or certain aspects of their lives (for example, liking your job, but not your relationship). My "Jump Start Your Life" Plan will require only 30 minutes for 30 days, to get yourself unstuck. And not complicated at all. Sound too good to be true? Well the toughest part will be you finding 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days, to take care of YOU. After that it will be easy, and fun. YAHOO!!

Look for my Jump Start Your Life Plan in next week's blog posting. Think about what changes you might want to make.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You Asked For It: "If You Were In Her Shoes..."

I agree with the reader who suggested this topic, and said that "people should always consider how they would feel if the same hurtful things they do to people were done to them." And I left the "her" in the subject title (although I know that in relationships hurtful things also happen to men), because I actually hear this complaint more from the women that I work with than the men. Women in general tend to be more in touch with their emotional side than men are. And the emotion men tend to be more in touch with is anger, not so much with sadness, hurt, fear, etc. In fact some of the men that I help with anger management problems tend to get angry in situations where they should be sad, or fearful. I think it has a lot to do with avoiding the sense of vulnerability that comes with those emotions, and replacing it with the feeling of power (or in some cases, invulnerability) that can come with anger. We have good teachers, our fathers. I also believe that in a lot of ways society condones a double standard for men versus women. But you shouldn't!

So when you consider that men who do toxic things in relationships actively avoid empathy, trying to feel what their suffering partner feels, they likely aren't going to put their feet in your shoes as it may hurt too much. Then it falls on you to decide how much mistreatment you will tolerate. This is a very difficult decision for some people to make. You may have to consider children, whether or not he even acknowledges his behavior is a problem, and how committed he is to repairing the relationship or changing his behavior.

I do want to emphasize that most people are capable of having empathy, including men (yes, men are people are too). Actually it is an important ability that counselors use to effectively help people make some of the changes that they come to us for. Your partner is likely capable of understanding your feelings, but he (or she) has to want to. This is not something you can force him to do, but if they love you then it may be something he would be willing to try. It definitely can help improve communication. So let him try on your shoes. And maybe you should try on his. There are likely some things you can learn about how he feels.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King!
CONGRATULATIONS !! President Obama

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Healthy In, Healthy Out: Good Eating (And Drinking) Increases Productivity

You are what you eat. This year we're going to explore that in my blog. This is an important concern for me and, fortunately, my family (my daughter suggested this topic). They're not all vegetarians like Linda and me. So I'll be careful not to impose all of my 'vegetarian values' on you. I will talk more about that in the future. And, as always, I will welcome your comments.

I became more aware of healthy eating during my college years when my older brother exposed me to bee pollen, and vegetarianism. Books I read on the subject early on were Back To Eden (by Jethro Kloss), and Diet For A New America (by John Robbins, of Baskin and Robbins). Looking back I would say that I ate pretty healthily growing up, including the wheat germ my mother snuck into the meat loaf and the daily morning spoonfuls of cod liver oil (yuck!). A couple of years ago I made some major changes in my diet in order to lose weight. Bye-bye donuts, pizza, white pasta and rice, white bread, etc. Over 2 years I lost 25 pounds and have been able to keep them off (mostly). The Abs Diet (by David Zinczenko) helped with that.

"Healthy In, Healthy Out," will focus on how paying attention to what you eat, being more mindful (see my posting on Mindfulness, 7/10/08), can help improve your mood, thinking, health, energy level, and overall productivity. I will ask you to consider some of the things I've learned about eating (and drinking) and see if they might help you. I am not a nutritionist, nor a food expert. But I know enough to be happy with the changes I've made in my eating habits, and I will offer them to you.

Here are some things to think about. Drink more water (we're mostly made of it). White carbs turn into sugar, and add a lot of calories. High fructose corn syrup, which seems to be in everything you eat and drink(read the labels) is a sweetener that adds calories that are very hard to burn off. And there's lots more. I don 't recommend any dramatic changes, but gradual lifestyle changes that will be more effective long term. For now, just think a little more about what you eat and drink.

Thank you for the blog topic suggestions I've been getting.