Thanksgiving is Over

For most people the day of purposeful gluttony is over.  Thanksgiving is over. We had our feast, family gathered, and hopefully cleanup is over.    Now what?  There may be Black Friday shopping to look forward to (or dread).  Some people will be working as usual.  Many airports will be crowded with people heading home from wherever they went.  Will the purposeful practice of gratitude be over too?

I’m in a pretty funky mood.  The weather is overcast and so are my thoughts.  The frenzy of Christmas is upon us.  Even so, I am keenly aware of all that I have to be grateful for.  Instead of a New Year Resolution, I am making a Thanksgiving Resolution to be more mindful of engaging in a purposeful gratitude practice.

Here are some ideas I am considering:

  1. Writing at least 2 things on the whiteboard above my desk each day that I am grateful for.
  2. Find one person to sincerely thank for something each day at work (a place where I find the spirit of gratitude tough)
  3. Starting my morning, before I get out of bed with a gratitude prayer
  4. Saying or singing grace before my meals (silently or aloud)
  5. Counting my blessings while I brush my teeth

If you have a gratitude practice, I’d love to hear about what you do and what benefits you have noticed.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder in WinterSimply put – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a reaction to the changing season that causes problems with mood and behavior.  These mood and behavior changes tend to start around September and may last until April.  According to S.A. Saeed in the March 1998 issue of American Family Physician, 4-6% of the general population experiences winter depression and an additional 10-20% have low-level features of the disorder. In the Journal for the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (February 1998) J. Giedd reported that 3-5% of students in the 4th through 6th grade meet the criteria for SAD.  Women are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with SAD and the average age of onset is 23.  Giedd reported that 9% of adults with SAD had an onset prior to 11 and 33% reported an onset prior to age 19.

The symptoms of SAD include sleep problems, overeating, depressed mood, family problems, lethargy, physical complaints, and behavioral problems.  Individuals experiencing sleep problems associated with SAD are most likely to report oversleeping, but not feeling refreshed when they awaken.  Then may report difficulty getting out of bed, or the need for frequent naps in the after.  (Think hibernation)

Overeating tends to be a problem in several ways.  First, people with SAD often crave and eat carbohydrates.  This generally leads to weight gain.  (Again, think hibernation).  Weight gain then contributes to depression.  In addition, ingestion of carbohydrates can cause rapid blood sugar fluctuations when also impact mood.

Persons with SAD typically aren’t much fun to be around.  They will often avoid company or when they are with other people they may be highly irritable.  Loss of sexual interest is also common.  In general, folks with SAD feel too tired to cope with daily living.  Everything feels like a tremendous effort.  Normal tasks become difficult.  Joint pain and stomach problems become more frequent and they may have lowered resistance to infection.  As if that isn’t enough, people with SAD are depressed.  They may use words like despair, misery, guilt, anxiety, or hopelessness to describe their mood.

By this time you may be wondering what causes this disorder.  My witty reply would be “living in Ohio.”  Actually, where you live can be part of the problem.  There is a structure in the brain called the pineal gland, and during night/darkness, this gland produces melatonin that makes us drowsy.  Bright light is the off switch for the melatonin production.  On dull winter days (there are a lot of those in Dayton) there is not enough light to trigger the pineal gland.  Bright light has also been associated with another brain chemical – serotonin.  You know about that one because it is associated with depression.

Using sunshine to treat seasonal affective disorderBoth the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association recommend light therapy as the primary treatment strategy for SAD.  This isn’t ordinary reading light.  For this type of treatment the light must be at least 2500 lux.  That’s five times brighter than the well-lit office.  Believe it or not, light therapy does have some side effects for a few people including a jittery feeling, excitability, mild nausea, or burning of the eyes.

What can you do if you are one of the mild, moderate, or severe sufferers of SAD?

  1. See your primary care physician.  The diagnosis deserves careful attention since the symptoms overlap with other disorders.
  2. Increase your exposure to natural sunlight, if not medically contraindicated.
  3. Decrease consumption of carbohydrates.  Again, check this out with your physician before making a big dietary change.
  4. Ask your physician about light therapy.

I’ve used it.   And it works!

Don’t Try – Do! Another Lesson from the Tao Te Ching

circles in waterWhile the message Don’t Try – Do! may be more recently associated with my little green guru Yoda, it is also a lesson from the Tao Te Ching.  It is also a lesson I have struggled with, although intellectually whole-heartedly support.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping on the karate chop point): I have a tendency to say I’ll try things.  I was taught that I should always be open to trying.  That was supposed to help me find the courage to do things that I might think I could to.  Unfortunately, saying I’m going to try seems to also set me up for failure at times.  I am open to just doing things to whatever level or ability I can at that time and accepting the result – whatever it is.  Even though I tend to think in terms of success and failure, I am open to learning a new way of being.  Even though trying feels more comfortable to me than doing, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.  Even though I am aware that this is a lesson I haven’t quite mastered in the past, I love and accept myself fully.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…The words I use may be holding me back

Side of Eye…It seems like saying that I’ll try something should be a good thing

Under the Eye…But that attitude may be limiting me in some ways

Under the Nose…When I say I’ll try, I instantly insert the possibility for failure in my life

Chin…I am open to learning a new way to choose the events of my life

Collarbone…I wonder how things could be different if I just do things instead of trying

Under the Arm…I choose to use words that open up possibilities

Top of Head…The attitude of trying can sometimes help me avoid commitment

Eyebrow…The attitude of trying can sometimes help me avoid responsibility

Side of  Eye…The attitude of trying can sometimes help me avoid the possibility of failure

Under the Eye…Well — not really

Under the Nose…I am open to redefining failure

Chin…I am open to redefining responsibility

Collarbone…I am open to redefining commitment

Under the Arm…These are all constructs that I have previously accepted as real

Top of Head…Perhaps there is another way to view the world

Eyebrow…I am open to clarity

Side of Eye…I am open to being less tentative about things I choose to do

Under the Eye…I am open to doing

Under the Nose…When I wake up in the morning – I am doing

Chin…When I eat – I am doing

Collarbone…When I go to bed — I am doing

Under the Arm…In all that I face today – I want to do

Top of Head…Trying is in the past.  Now I will do.

I Am Uptight, Anxious, and Overwhelmed

girl on log relaxingThe words uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed describe me all too often.  Life can be going well most of the time, but when something happens that is unexpected (good or bad) it can throw me off my game.  Tapping helps me to recover.

Say that statement out loud, “I am uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed.”  Rate the intensity or truth of that statement on a 0-10 scale (10=very intense or very true). Write down your rating.

illustration for karate chop pointBegin tapping on the karate chop point.  Even though I am uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. Even though I can do uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed better than almost anybody I know, I choose to substitute calm and confidence whenever possible.  Even though uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed come very easily to me, I choose to manifest other feelings that are more comfortable and will help me to reach my goals.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I am uptight

Side of Eye…And I choose to release it now

Under the Eye…Bit by bit

Under the Nose…Until I am no longer feeling uptight

Chin…I am anxious

Collarbone…And I choose to release it now

Under the Arm…Bit by bit

Top of Head…Until I am no longer feeling anxious

Eyebrow…I am overwhelmed

Side of Eye…And I choose to release it now

Under the Eye…Bit by bit

Under the Nose…Until I am no longer overwhelmed

Chin…Even though I was feeling uptight before

Collarbone…I released it

Under the Arm…Bit by bit

Top of Head…And I choose to feel calm instead

Eyebrow…Even though I was feeling anxious before

Side of Eye…I released it

Under the Eye…Bit by bit

Nose…And I choose to feel confident instead

Chin…Even though I was feeling overwhelmed before

Collarbone…I released it

Under the Arm…Bit by bit

Top of Head…And I choose to feel calm and confident instead

Eyebrow…I used to feel uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed

Side of Eye…I choose to feel calm and confident instead

Under the Eye…I relase the uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed feeling from every cell in my body

Under the Nose…I release the uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed feeling from every muscle in my body

Chin…I release the uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed feeling from every fluid in my body

Collarbone…I choose to accept calmness

Under the Arm…I choose to acknowledge confidence

Top of Head…I choose to accept health and wellness into my body

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Say the original statement again,  “I am uptight, anxious, and overwhelmed.”  Rate the intensity or truth of that statement now on the 0-10 scale.  Continue tapping with these or other more personal statements until your rating is very low.  If other thoughts popped up, or specific circumstances came to mind, be sure to tap on those at some point to help you maintain the calm and confident feeling.

Seeing Red

Fist hitting red objectEveryone knows the feeling of anger.  Who hasn’t experienced “seeing red” at least a few times in their life?  What else do you know about anger?  Try this quiz and see how you do.

 

 

1. True or False – Anger is a good warning signal letting you know that you need to take some sort of action.

2. True or False – Anger can be important to the survival of the species.

3. True or False – Anger is the same thing is disapproval.

4. True or False – Ladies don’t get angry.

5. True or False – You must release or discharge anger.

(Answers are at the bottom of the page.)

All of us experience anger and that is ok.  What we do, or don’t do, with anger may be the problem.  Anger can be expressed in five basic ways: suppression, open aggression, passive aggression, assertiveness, and dropping it.

Suppression involves holding anger inside in an unhealthy way.  Someone engaging in suppression may try to “put on a good front” or pretend to feel no angry man yelling in ragetension.  Open aggression is taking a stand for personal worth, needs, and/or convictions at someone else’s expense. Open aggression may involve explosiveness, rage, intimidation, blame, bickering, criticism, or sarcasm.

While the name sounds better, passive aggression also occurs at the expense of someone else. It may be quieter and it also causes less personal vulnerability for the angry person.  Assertive anger preserves one’s personal worth, needs, and convictions while considering the needs and feelings of others.  In my opinion this is a true art form.

Finally, dropping your anger is also a possibility. It is possible to accept one’s inability to completely control circumstances and to recognize personal limits. You may realize that the anger is misplaced, ineffective, or out of proportion.

Changing your pattern of angry thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is not easy. Anger often involves so many automatic responses that just unraveling the real issue can be tough.

two goats head butting each otherUnmanaged anger can be an incredibly destructive force.  R. Brayton Bowen, as president of the Howland Group, estimated that there are as many as 18,000 workplace assaults each week.  According to a Yale University study, the main factor in employee rage is a real or imagined slight by a supervisor or manager. Perceived lack of productivity by co-workers, tight deadlines, and heavy workloads were also identified. The study suggested that this underground chronic anger that is present in the workplace affects one-fourth of the working population. Businesses who address workplace stress and teach employees anger management skills find that the company’s bottom line improves based on increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced medical costs.

Anger doesn’t just impact employees and employers. School-aged children often have not learned effective anger management skills.  A school in Staffordshire has implemented a program designed to prevent the aggressive behaviors commonly recognized in the school system with good results.

Intimate relationships can trigger aggressive responses if anger is not tended to appropriately. Domestic violence, rape, verbal assault, sarcasm, and arguing all stem from anger.  Most people agree that this type of angry behavior is ineffective at best and, at worst destructive.

So what can you do?  First, recognize the source of the anger. When boiled down, it will probably relate to one of these:

  • Interruption of plans or goals
  • Implications of non-compliance
  • Concern about injury
  • Expectations
  • History repeating itself
  • Overload
  • Personal peeves
  • Embarrassment

You see, none of those is really about the other person. They are all about you and how you feel.

Second, take appropriate action, not to make the other person suffer, but to solve the real problem. This may involve more communication, more planning, less mind-reading, and better self-care.

Anger management classes can be extremely effective. Invest some time and effort and sign up for one. Do you work in a pressure-cooker environment? Ask your boss to bring in a consultant to help the entire team deal with anger more effectively.  It would be a win-win situation.  Is your child displaying problems with anger? Take a look at the anger-management role model you may be providing and make the appropriate changes.

(Answers: TTFFF)

Jump Ship

Ha!  I just caught the fact that my book review of Jump Ship that I mentioned in a previous post somehow never got published.  Sorry about that.

Jump Ship by Josh Shipp book coverBefore anyone gets antsy, let me say up front that I’m not planning to quit my job and start another career in the near future.  I received Jump Ship by Josh Shipp a few years ago in a goodreads.com giveaway and initially requested it simply because I am fascinated by the process of personal growth.  I may actually be addicted to personal growth and self-help books. I currently have an interest in turning my passion into a profession for my retirement years so it certainly couldn’t hurt to read the book.

I loved this book for several reasons. First, I loved the writer’s open and honest style. It was informative. It was challenging. It was provocative. It was personal. On the first page of the introduction the author stated that he has a reputation for being “in your face, but on your side” and that was evident throughout the text. I can appreciate that style.  It is the same style that has worked for me while doing psychotherapy over the years. It is not a style that works for everybody, but it worked for me most of the time.

The second reason that I loved this book was because it was practical. There were no easy answers but there were actual things to do to help you to discern what your passion is and things to do to evaluate whether you could actually make it profitable.

Third, it is a rags to riches kind of story.  Who doesn’t appreciate that? The author obviously has practiced what he preaches.  I have a lot of respect for that. In addition, there were numerous stories of other individuals who have also undergone the process, not just the high points, but also the down and dirty, nitty gritty low points as well.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is considering changing careers, feeling burned out with the status quo, or who is in any way dissatisfied with an aspect of their life. There is much broader applicability to the information in this book than just humping ship from a less fulfilling job. With a little creativity you could make a new life with this information, not just get a new job.

I’d Rather Be Them

Want to Be ThemI don’t think I’m alone on this.  Sometimes it looks like everyone else’s life looks like it is going much better than my own.  I catch my self thinking “I’d rather be them” instead of embracing being me.  If this is ever true for you, tap along.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping the karate chop point): Even though I often think that I’d rather be them instead of me, I am open to learning to accept being me. Even though I often long to be someone other than who I am, I am eager to learn to love and accept myself more completely.  Even though being someone else seems to be quite alluring at times, there is another part of me that likes who I am.  I am open to getting more in touch with that part of myself on a regular basis.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I’d rather be them instead of me

Side of Eye…This is another manifestation of the grass is always greener

Under the Eye…Even though I know the fallacy of that type of thinking it still creeps into my consciousness

Under Nose…When I want to be someone else I’m really rejecting me

Chin…How can I expect other people to accept me when I don’t accept myself?

Collarbone…When I want to be someone else it sometimes means that I just want to hide from my own problems and challenges

Under the Arm…Other times it means that I’m buying into the myth that other people don’t have the problems I have

Top of Head…While I know that is false, it is easy to fall into the trap since I don’t see their problems

Eyebrow…I only feel my own

Side of Eye…When all of my longing to be someone else or live someone else’s life is over

Under Eye…I’m still left with whatever it is that I need to deal with

Under the Nose…The energy of wishing and longing for someone else’s life is wasted

Chin…It would be better spent trying to be the best me I know how to be

Collarbone…That’s the advice I always give to others

Under the Arm…Be the best you that you know how to be

Top of Head…In every second, minute, hour, and day

Eyebrow…That’s the message I often need to hear too

Side of Eye…Be the best me

Under the Eye…During the good times and during the bad times

Under the Nose… Not trying to be perfect

Chin…I don’t really want to be someone else

Collarbone…But sometimes I’m materialistic and just want the things they have

Under the Arm…I don’t want to be them

Top of Head…I want to learn to be the best me I can possible be.  Because I am enough.

What Do You Believe You Are Capable Of?

Jump Ship by Josh Shipp book coverYou may have already read my book review of Jump Ship by Josh Shipp. As I mentioned in that review, the book offers much more than guidance for changing careers. There are many gems hidden in the pages that have potential for profound life-changing “ah ha” moments.  One of them is this question, “What do you believe you are capable of?”

Those 8 words stopped me in my tracks. I re-read them several times.  What do I believe I am capable of? It sounds like a lot of ego, but I have always believed I was capable of great things. There has always been a burning desire to do something big, something that mattered, something remarkable. I honestly don’t know where that came from. I don’t remember being told that I could do something important. Actually, I remember being told from a variety of sources that I wasn’t anything special.  There were those warnings that “pride goeth before a fall”, that I was acting “too big for my britches”, and many other quaint but powerful statements that suggest that “I am not all that.”

I heard them. Believe me, I definitely heard them. And there were times that I didn’t attempt something because I also, on some level, believed them.  Little things, like not being one of the senior superlatives in high school also caused me to question and doubt.  There were many comments and experiences to help balance some of this out. I received many accolades for being smart. My musical spark that never goes outtalent was almost always praised. And boy could I water ski for such a little kid. So while there were individual ups and downs in my confidence level at certain points in my life, that tiny little spark never went out.

It was that tiny spark that has allowed me to continue pushing through the tough times and continue striving for something better. So what do I believe I am capable of? I’m still not sure. Words like “anything” and “almost anything” come to mind but are quickly silenced by the doubts of other people that still ring in my ears. So, I chose to revise the question to “what do I want to be capable of?” That seemed like an easier place to start. In the context of Jump Ship I want to be capable of making a living as an author.

Next in the Jump Ship process is the internal review process. OK, so I want it – but do I BELIEVE IT? That is TBD. After writing and publishing the last two books I have discovered just how much is really involved in becoming an author. It isn’t as simple as just writing some pages of text and voila, you are an author.  My third book has been sitting in the wings, almost complete for more than two years. On my white board over my desk I have written “Authors Must Write” in big bold letters to remind me what I must do to accomplish this.

So my expanded  set of questions includes, “Am I capable of coming up with the ideas, capable of editing, capable of promoting, able to tolerate rejection, and all of the other things that go along with it?”  So far I’ve found that I am certainly better prepared for some of these tasks than others, and I enjoy doing some of these tasks much more than I enjoy others.

I do believe Josh Shipp’s premise that you have to BELIEVE in order to really ACHIEVE your dreams.  So what about you?  What do you believe you are capable of?

I Believe What I’m Told

sign of encouragementYour decision to believe what others tell you is fact or what they tell you is possible may be preventing you from going after the things you desire and can stop you from being your authentic self.  Although some people might disagree, I have had a strong tendency to believe what I’m told.  Fortunately, this has been less of an issue as I’ve matured.  Tap along with this video to gain more clarity about your tendency to believe what you are told.