What About Self-Help?

May 18, 2010 by  
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EYE-4Just read an article by Deepak Chopra (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/when-you-help-yourself-wh_b_578892.html).  It’s a good post about self-help really being about self-discovery if it is to have lasting changes.

What he left out is that self-help is really an American phenomenon.  Somehow we have developed a society that needs to read about, having sex, loving, being in a relationship, being happier, finding ourselves etc. instead of just being.  Why is that?

I think one of the answers is our values as a society, families, and individuals.  In the United States we live under constant pressure to work and to succeed while the rest of the world uses work as a means to have more fun. To us work is an end unto itself and success defines us.  The result is that more and more we live in our own world of trying to succeed and less and less in actually living.  And we are in a hurry, so we want immediate answers.

We want to have good sex now.  So instead of communicating with our partners, spending the time to actually enjoy the intimacy, we read books that give us step by step ways to have better sex.

We want a better relationship now.  So instead of giving the time and attention a relationship needs we read a manual on how to make it better.  We don’t have the time to just be.

I’m not ditching self-help books but am saying the answer, as Mr. Chopra has written, lays within us.  It also lays in the way we live our lives, and in the ways we have constructed our societal set of values.

Work and technology are tools to allow us to have better relationships with others and ourselves.  Not the other way around.  So if we really want to have better sex, relationships, lives, we need first to set our priorities straight.  Once we do that, we are set to take the voyage of self knowledge and most likely will not need any self-help books.

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Mother

May 7, 2010 by  
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The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.  ~Honoré de Balzac

I have just come back from spending ten days in Brazil with my parents.  I had a great time with them; we talked, had lunch and dinners together, and saw a couple of movies.  It was also my mother’s seventy ninth birthday.

I love my mother but ours wasn’t always an easy relationship.   She was always very emotional, and that scared me, and I, a little wild for her.  As the years went on we tried to strike a balance; neither one of us forgetting we were a family.

I’m not a mother so it has taken me a long time to understand how my mother feels about me.  I was made by an act of love, grew inside of her and then fed and protected by her, while I had my eyes on my life’s road.

My mother and I survived all the years of misunderstanding because of the love we have for each other.  That’s the power of love; it keeps you there even when your mind tells you to shut the door.

Today, I admire my mother’ wisdom and her still ever growing love for me.   I’m no longer afraid of her emotions and she has come to understand my singular way of being.

So this Sunday, even though I never pay any attention to holidays,  I will tell my mother how much I love her and how much she means to me.  And I hope our love can color all the roads that lay ahead for me.

Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime.
~William Shakespeare

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A Dog Without An Owner

May 1, 2010 by  
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I am in Brazil visiting my family and have just got off the phone with a childhood friend.  The call was mostly about making plans for tomorrow but before we hung up she said: Debinha (that’s how my friends in Brazil call me) please say something.  I said “what do you mean?” and she responded “I’m feeling like a dog without an owner.”

What she meant was she didn’t feel like she belonged anywhere.  She’s a woman in her forties, who’s not in a relationship, and who lives alone.  I told her we are all dogs without owners.  What I meant to say was feeling lonely came from within not from being or not in a relationship.

When we are feeling well, we entertain and keep ourselves company.  We listen to what we want to do and we follow up on our desires the best way we can.  We feel whole and because we are okay with our own selves, we are also okay with others and the world. Being with others is in addition to the way we are already feeling.

When we are not well, we feel lonely and abandoned.  So feeling like a dog without an owner in reality has little to do with being with others or not.  It really is about ourselves.  Just ask how many times have you felt alone in the middle of a large group of people?

I told my childhood friend to stop thinking and get out of the house.  “Keep yourself in motion.  The more you think how things are not the way you want them to be, the more pity sets in” I said.  I know from experience this type of thinking is unhealthy.  It is the type where we are the masters of the universe and everything that we consider to be wrong is our fault.  It is the thinking that points to our incapacity to find happiness simply because we are no good.

Each one of us has specific reasons why we feel lonely or why we beat ourselves over the head when we are already down on the ground.  But one universal solution to this phenomenon is to not indulge in it.  “Distract yourself when you start thinking about all the wrong things in your life.  Watch TV, go for a walk, call a friend to talk about the funnies but don’t indulge in your pity for yourself” were my parting words to my childhood friend.

Being our own best friend requires a willingness to peel the layers of the onion and look within.  It takes a willingness to give ourselves a hand when we need it instead of running out and looking for someone else to do so.  It takes realizing only ourselves are a constant companion in our lives.  But if we can do that we’ll never feel like a dog without an owner as we are both the dog and the owner.

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Keeping An Eye On Our Ego

April 30, 2010 by  
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Here’s another devastating side-effect of the ego; I know everything and therefore I don’t need to listen to anyone and so I stop learning.

When I was in my early twenties I spent some time with a man who was incredibly smart and well read.  But he had a problem; he thought he was leaps and bounds smarter than anybody else so he never dialogued with anyone.  He only “monologued”.  A couple of years later this man and I went our separate ways and I didn’t see him for four years.

In the four years I didn’t see him, I continued to ask questions and to listen to what others thought and had to say.  So when I saw my old boyfriend to catch up, I found myself sitting in front of the same man I had separated from four years earlier.  He said the same things and thought the same way.  He then didn’t seem so smart and well read anymore.  He seemed like a man who had become stuck because he thought he knew it all.

A certain dose of ego is healthy in the sense of allowing us to assert ourselves without fear.  But ego that wraps pride around itself  is terminal as it kills the self.

I like to keep my ego in check and so I often ask myself when my feathers get ruffled if I’m justified or if it is my ego feeling frail.  If it is the latter, I tell myself: “pipe down, it’s for your own good.”

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The Difference Between Love And Obsession

April 29, 2010 by  
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In my never ending web searches for topics to read I came across the article by Deborah Leigh Ketner (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/42453) about a subject I know a lot about: the difference between love and obsession.

I have truly loved two men in my life.  One when I was fourteen years old (innocent love) and the other my husband, who passed away in 2008 (mature and supportive love).  In between those two relationships, I dated many men but I either was not really interested in them or they were relationships of obsession.

Let me write first about my two genuine loves.  I met Tau (remember I’m from Brazil) when I was thirteen.  We stayed together until I was eighteen.  In those years we traveled and learned about relationship through loving each other.  It was an absolutely trusting, and innocent relationship, neither one of us had much history and we were discovering life together.  Everything was new, exciting and we were there for each other.

When I met my husband, I had plenty of history.  I had also accumulated a lot of heavy baggage but there was also plenty of wisdom which I had picked up along the way.  It was this wisdom that allowed me to really love and be loved.

I had learned that when we NEED someone in order to exist and our body aches when that person is not around, it is not love, it is obsession.  It is about us thinking a particular person has the power to rescue us.  And we want to be rescued because we don’t trust our own ability to take care of and provide ourselves with a rich life.

Loving someone means we don’t NEED them but instead we want to share our lives with them and most importantly we want to support them on their life journey.  That means giving them the foundation to let them go and be whatever is going to allow our loved ones to grow as people and experience life.  There is a huge difference from “you have to stay with me no matter what” or “you can’t do this to me” to “I’m here loving you; go try out life”.

In obsessive relationships it is all about us not the other person.   In a strange way, even though these relationships are all about us, we have no power.  By NEEDING someone we give our power away and sometimes the recipients can be quite cruel.  It is a game that gets set up; I give you my life and you abuse it because the truth is I’m needy and you resent me.

Love happens easily and naturally.  No games. Two people meet and they are ready to journey together.  No imprisonments or psychologically empty deals.  It is simply: I love you and I want the best for you.  You love me and you want the best for me. That’s real love.

So if you truly want to experience a deep and loving relationship start by loving yourself.  That is the only way you’ll be able to meet someone and share love and life without being needy or always being scared if that person leaves your world will crumble.  Because that is not love that is obsession.

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Embrace All Parts Of Life – Video Blog 7

April 28, 2010 by  
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Don’t Fall For The Casting Couch

April 27, 2010 by  
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We are always trying to look for quick solutions and when they don’t happen we feel sad and frustrated.

Let me give you a few examples:  If we want to be in a relationship we take the first guy/girl we find and say to ourselves: He/she is it.   It doesn’t matter he/she may not be the best choice for us. What matters is that we are done casting the part of a partner/lover.  Of course when the relationship doesn’t work we blame ourselves, we blame them and we blame the world.  And we fail to realize that in our hurry to put one need/problem/issue aside we rushed to the first possibility and thought: “issue solved” and moved on.

What about when we are feeling blue and we reach for the first soothing anything only to feel worse after the fact?

I’m not suggesting we think a million times before we do anything.  But I am suggesting being in tune with ourselves so we can hear our inner voices screaming at us: “Stop type casting and look for the real deal”.  Our inner-selves always knows the truth, stop and listen to yourself.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself.  ~Alan Alda

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Emotions Outlast The Memories That Drive Them

April 26, 2010 by  
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I friend has just sent me this link.  It reminded me of my husband’s 100 year grandmother.  We used to ask her to play the piano and she would say she didn’t know how, but when we walked her to the piano and she touched it, all these emotions would come back to her and she would sit and play smiling all the way.

A study of patients with amnesia finds that the emotion tied to a memory lingers in the mind even after the memory is gone.

The finding, published this week in the journal PNAS, Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences could have important implications for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

One of the loneliest things about loving someone with early Alzheimer’s is the feeling that any good times the two of you share just don’t matter.

Family Caregiver Alliance

“So often I’ll listen to family members say, ‘Oh, I don’t go and visit Grandpa anymore because 10 minutes after I leave, he doesn’t even remember I came,’ ” says Justin Feinstein, a graduate student in neuropsychology at the University of Iowa.

Feinstein had a hunch that those visits made more of an impression than anyone realized. To check, he turned to several people who, like Alzheimer’s patients, have damage to a spot in the brain called the hippocampus.

He describes it as a “kind of a sea-horse-shaped structure right in the middle of the brain, no bigger than the pinkie.”

Damage your hippocampus, and you can’t hang onto new memories for more than a few minutes. It can happen through a stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.

Feinstein says, “Your brain is no longer able to catch onto those experiences, so your day-to-day experiences, like what you had for breakfast this morning, what you did last Saturday night, those are gone. They’re vanished.”

But Feinstein suspected that the good feelings and bad feelings triggered by meaningful events might linger, captured by a different part of the brain.

So, to stir up some strong emotion, he threw a mini-film fest in his clinic. He showed several people who have damage to the hippocampus a string of short movie clips from tear-jerker classics.

One was the scene in Forrest Gump where he is crying all alone at the grave of his dead wife, Jenny.

It worked. Everyone who watched the film clips was visibly moved — some to tears. Yet a half-hour later, when quizzed about the movies, they didn’t remember a thing — not even one woman who had sobbed during the films.

“We test her memory, her memory’s gone,” Feinstein says. “What happens to her emotions? Well, it turns out she’s still sad…Continued

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Misunderstanding

April 24, 2010 by  
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It’s so easy for people to misunderstand each other.

Although we are all humans, each one of us has a different process to interpret the world; different education and processing mechanism.  Often things are said with one intention and are heard with another.  Feelings get hurt and relationships are destroyed.  That’s when we need to leave our egos aside and reach out.  Ask yourself what is more important the relationship or your ego?  And what is an ego anyway?

A strong ego doesn’t have to be right every time.  A strong ego can even be right but not need to prove its position.  A weak ego must prove itself to the world.

When a misunderstanding occurs don’t wait for the other person to reach out.  Do it yourself.  Strengthen your ego by not having to be right at all costs.  You being right will be a secret between you and ego.

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Are You Really Ready For Love?

April 19, 2010 by  
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featured_1Most of us say we are looking for love.  But are we really?  Or are we looking to cast someone in a role we have developed in our imagination?  Are we looking for the classy man who will defend and saves us?  Or the beautiful woman who is nurturing and sexy?  And once we’ve cast the part, we’ll live happily ever after without ever having a fight or a problem? That’s not being open to love that’s being ready for a casting session.

Loving someone means loving them for who they are; strengths and frailties.  It is respecting them as people who like us struggle to make sense of life’s complexities.  It is also living in the present.

The first step to really being able to fall in love and be in a good relationship starts with loving ourselves.  No knight in shinning armor can rescue anyone and no super hot girl can compensate for a bruised ego.  We rescue our own selves and we build our own egos.

As we learn who we are and embrace all parts of ourselves we learn to love others as well.  Being there for ourselves and having our own backs allows us to be whole and able to truly share with someone else.

So take the time to get to know you.  Feed your heart and soul with small pleasures that give you contentment, ask yourself what is really important to you, slow down and concentrate on life as its happening not as you imagine it should be,  laugh as much as you can, and as you are busy living, life will happen to you.

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