I’ve heard, “It Never Hurts to Ask”

It never hurts to ask and what I learned from Honda

Honda stojan

Image via Wikipedia

 

I am a believer in Honda.  They’ve won me over with their automatic doors, convenience in just about any way they can, but mostly because of their Starbucks coffee, fresh-baked cookies and 10% discounts.  “Ten percent?,” you ask.  Well, not so easy as that.  We have to ask.  Ask nicely.

Honda has, if not taught me, reinforced my once shaky belief that if you ask for something, you’re more likely to get it.  Sounds obvious but how often we don’t.  We don’t ask.  What are the barriers?  Flip it and we wonder what helps us ask?

We bring out our biopsychosocial model again.  (Hear the whip-ahhh! as it comes out of our pocket?!)

Question:  What do you find when you break it down?

Those barriers or the helps we have in other areas of our life, including with our own friend, Me.

Self-Care Tip #277 – If you want to change something, ask.  Including when it’s about yourself from yourself.

Finding What Perfectionism Can Offer Our Self-Care – In Summary

Gold star forehead

Image by cheerytomato via Flickr

We managed to run a series on perfectionism without even knowing it was happening.  Pretty cool.  Perfect?  No.

  1. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
  2. Try, Knowing We Will Fail
  3. Loving Me Without Ambivalence
  4. Codependent

Your comments have added to our momentum and interest.  Here are a few from a range of thoughts and opinions:

Jasmine said,

…there’s a fine line between accepting yourself for who you really are and not just who you would like to be…

Patricia didn’t mince words,

I don’t like the word fail as it implies failure which is defeatist. Lots of times I try something and have less success than I would like but that is not failing. It is learning, if only learning what doesn’t work or what not to do again.

I don’t think I would try anything if I knew I was going to fail!

Paula tells us that in her quest toward being perfect she has suffered,

…considerable self-flagellation over the years. i still bear the scars.

Sarah, our literarian, grammarian and editor, channels Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird:

“…I wanted you to see what real courage is…. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win but sometimes you do.”

Marie, who used to be “Livingsuicidal.com,” is now, “Livingvictorious.com” – whoo-ah!  She tells us in her usual courageous style,

Although rationally I know I can’t be perfect, emotionally (I) can’t stop pursuing (perfectionism)…

Carl, strong Carl who shares his weaknesses knowing they don’t have anything to do with weakening him, tells us to,

define the difference between co-dependency and partnership and that the two terms are not interchangeable.

And so I ask you to tell me more because you always say it so well.  Perfectly?  No.

It would be wonderful to hear from the rest of you too!  Speak out!  Connect and lead us into our summary.  Perfectly?  No.

Implications:

  1. Lady Gaga via biology.  How do you understand your biology to be influencing your view of perfectionism?
  2. Our efforts on volition/control.  What is it in regards to your self-grace, (i.e. forgiveness and allowance for ourselves?)
  3. Ambivalence on progress v. limitations and flaws.  How is this conflict affecting you?
  4. Perfectionism on pathologically depending on the opinion of others to qualify us.  Some people call this, “codependence.”  How do you qualify yourself?

Self-Care Tip #276 – Let good come from your propensity to crave perfection.  It can.

Codependent,… Or Something?!

Inquisition condemned (Francisco de Goya).

Image via Wikipedia

Codependent.

It’s a term a lot of people use but I don’t think we are all using it to mean the same thing.  It is poorly defined and confusing.  If codependency were a medication, we would call it a “dirty medicine,” because it hits so many “receptors.”  It is nonspecific.

Who hasn’t ever been shamed by the fear that they are codependent?

You are codependent! 

Am I codependent!!!??

The word implies blame.  Blame for what?  And that is one of the places we walk away without benefit.  Was the word useful to any of us in any way?

In general, vaguely, codependence implies awareness and participation with mal-behavior that we are powerless to.  Treatment preferably includes a twelve-step program that includes the surrender of what we don’t have power over to our Higher Power.  Codependence may incidentally be combined with brain disease and of course that would need medication therapy.

There are however a few things that must be cleared up.

  1. There is nothing shameful about being married, the child of or of any relation to an addict.  That position doesn’t diagnose us with codependency unless that’s what that word is being used to define.  You never know.
  2. There is no shame in wanting to be with people, depend on people, seek people out to problem-solve and get energy from being with people.  That position does not diagnose codependency unless that’s what the word is being used to define.  You never know.

However,

  1. There may be a relationship to family of addicts
  2. There may be a relationship to anger problems
  3. There may be a relationship to kids of parents who expected perfect kids, spouses of spouses who expect perfect spouses, pet-owners who… (Oh wait.  That’s not right.)

BUT, per Dr. Q, if we find ourselves…

  1. in recurring negativity – perhaps an argument that happens over and over
  2. with an increasingly limited ability to participate in life
  3. powerless
  4. doing things we wouldn’t normally do/out of character
  5. tied into someone else’s mal-behavior
  6. consciously aware of that someone’s mal-behavior

IT’S WORTH THINKING ABOUT IT.  We might not be codependent, whatever that means, but we do need help.

Questions:  How do you identify this in your life or someone you know?  How have you been able to stop being dependent on someone you knew was repeatedly doing mal-behavior?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #275 – Forget the shame and just get about your work to figure this out.

Loving Me without ambivalence – Perfectionism v. Passive Surrender

Light cycles designed by Mead, as featured in ...

Image via Wikipedia

The conflict of perfectionism v.v. passive surrender of ourselves to ourselves.

Yesterday we talked about enjoying our failures.  That might have pushed a little much.  But who doesn’t nurse their failure more than their success?  Who doesn’t remember their hurt in life more often than their pleasure?  It can be confusing.

This friend we call, Me, pushes us and holds us back.  But that is not said well enough.  This description implies ambivalence – two strongly opposing forces in opposite directions.  Amidst all the push and pull, we can get confused.  We work so hard on our behalf that we forget we were born flawed and will, at every step of life’s journey, have a constant relationship with imperfect behaviors and emotions all the while having hope for what is better.

I remember in Tron: Legacy that Flynn explained that Clue was created to build the perfect world.  When things became bad and Clue was blamed, Flynn the Creator essentially said,

He’s just doing what he was designed to do.  

Clue, in the name of going toward what was considered perfect, began annihilating everything and everyone that wasn’t programmed right.  Clue was baffled by his Creator’s disagreement and in the end destroyed them both.

Clu: I did everything… everything you ever asked! 
Kevin Flynn: I know you did. 
Clu: I executed the plan! 
Kevin Flynn: As you saw it… 
Clu: You- You promised that we would change the world, together. You broke your promise… 
Kevin Flynn: I know. I understand that now. 
Clu: I took this system to its maximum potential. I created the perfect system! 
Kevin Flynn: The thing about perfection is that it’s unknowable. It’s impossible, but it’s also right in front of us all the time. You wouldn’t know that because I didn’t when I created you. I’m sorry, Clu. I’m sorry… 

We, like Flynn, forget that our beauty is the constant relationship between going toward that which is better for us and allowing for our limitations, regression and failures.  These forces don’t have to be opposing.  Our life is more than an allowance for betterment and foibles; it is a position of value and respect to both.  There is this wonderment that we can in all this chaos be what we should be, now, but still in process of change.  We are all these things and Me, our friend, loves that.

Questions:  How are you doing with your Me who struggles for the whole of you?  Are you able to join Me?  What limits you?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #274 – Love what keeps you from your goals and what gets you there without ambivalence.

We Try Knowing We Will Fail. The Wonderful Journey Of Flawed People.

The t-shirt

Image by plαdys via Flickr

It’s 9:23 PM and our little kids are still awake!  They’ve cried.  They’ve laughed.  We’ve cuddled.  We’ve spanked.  They’ve taken two showers and brushed their teeth twice.  We ate several times.

I was riding my bike, watching a movie, (I love that!), and my daughters were taking turns coming in to complain, wet me with their tears, snuggle, hold me; you get it.  My exercise and my movie were peppered with refreshing breaks.  Sitting on the couch chair nearby with my five-year old during one of these intermissions, holding her, I was able to say,

It’s okay.  

I was able to do this because I was the one in the casita getting pumped up and my husband was the one in the house herding children to bed.  He had the tough job that turns me into a turnip and I had this.

You can do it.  You can try again.  You can try again, even if you are trying for the one-hundredth time.  You try and you try and you try again because that’s what makes our lives beautiful.  The trying part mostly.  Not the arrival.  

And that’s when I grabbed her and held on.  I suddenly felt so blessed.  From this off-night, I was given the reminder that the trying part of life is where it is at.

It’s 9:33 PM and I think they’re asleep.  Sigh.  Tonight was awesome.

We are flawed people.  We try, knowing we will fail.  Who does that?!  Why would anyone do that to themselves!?  Smile.  Ah.  Sounds wonderful.

Questions:  How is your journey?  Have you been enjoying your failures lately?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #273  - Enjoy your failures.

In Mass and Individually, We Are Beautiful – Lady Gaga

Someone, who has experience fighting for her emotional and behavioral health, advised me to listen to Lady Gaga – Born This Way.  She said, “Don’t be scared by it!  Just listen!”

So I did.  And then I did again.  Her message is not, “Don’t stress out.  Don’t work hard.  Just be who you are.”  It is rather, “Figure out who you are and embrace that fully.”  By her own example, she tells us to work harder than anything else on embracing that.  Gaga says, love this unique self and respect it openly and privately.  She tells us that we are all beautiful in mass and individually.

So let us know what you think!  Is her message our message here at FriendtoYourself.com?  Are you uncomfortable with loving yourself so well?  Please tell me your story.

Finalé – Me Again. Everything Starts and Ends With Me – Even Emotions and Behaviors.

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious - Emotions shared
  2. Our own Emotional Junk - Emotions hidden
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea - Small conscious self and BIG unconscious self
  5. Biopsychosocial Model - Biological, Psychological, Social selves
  6. Me! 
  7. Finalé – Me Again.  Everything Starts and Ends With Me – Even Emotions and Behaviors.  (Today’s post.)

We have covered in our series that emotions are contagious.  We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, be more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion.”  Further, we hope that if we do this, we might be able to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care.  We can have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?  Then …out at sea (away from our narrative for a day,) we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the big expanse of our unconscious biology.  We reviewed our biopsychosocial model as a tool, and then restated the simplicity in looking for and at Me to discover where emotions and behaviors come from.

Today we leave Rob and meet Iva for our Finalé.

Mother and daughter

Image by Video4net via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #272 – Look!  Me Again!

Iva was crying.  Things could not go on as they were.  It must stop!  The tension and recurring emotional crisis’ between her and her daughter were cancerous to her family.

Iva was trying.  She’d come a long long way.  On antidepressants now, exercising three to five times a week, down twenty pounds and into her honey-moon clothes from many many years ago.  She felt so much better about herself.  She was no longer yelling at every stressor, she felt pleasure again and liked being with her kids, including her daughter… when her daughter wasn’t throwing fits.  However, her daughter was “fits-ing” one to three times a day still.  Iva felt like she had lost control as a parent and gave a lot of blame to her little girl.  This is why Iva came in.  Something wasn’t right about that.  It was evading her, however, what that something was.

To be clear, “little” in this case meant four years old.  Four years old and they could hardly be with each other.  Iva trembled thinking about the teen years ahead.  Iva wondered how a four-year old could drum up so much drama and wield so much power.

Why didn’t she listen?  Why did her daughter make her resort to spanking and punishments to get obedience?  Why did she whine all the time?  

Crying again, Iva was still able to break this down as to where her emotions and behaviors were coming from and specifically keep it about “Me.”  That was our job as we crunched this together.

Emotions shared – Iva had negative emotions that her four-year old was susceptible to?

Emotions hidden – Iva hadn’t gone towards her own something or other?  Maybe she didn’t even realize the negative emotions she felt toward her daughter in the first place to go towards them and see what was there.

small conscious self and BIG unconscious self – Iva had an opportunity to play, work, know and own this little portion of what made her who she was.  The BIG unconscious self she was doing well taking care of with her basic needs – time with her Higher Power, medication compliant, exercise, sleep, diet, water and so on.

Biological, Psychological, Social selves – (A whole bunch of stuff you’ll have to read the previous blog-posts on!  Awesome paradigm.)

And then, finally, Me.  In the space between her and her daughter, Iva had forgotten that it was about Me.  Iva was putting a lot of blame on her little girl.  That’s a lot of pressure for a child to shoulder.  It is not appropriate for a parent to shame her child this way.  This isn’t a moral statement unless we make it one.  It just is.  It-is-not-appropriate.  That’s all.  Iva circled back around and saw herself there.  Her Me.

Iva left thinking things were looking up.

Questions:  Even in your most difficult relationships, how do you own your emotions and behaviors?  Or is there a reason for them outside of yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Me! Where Emotions and Behaviors Come From

steps 15

Image by Erik - parked in Cairo these days via Flickr

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious - Emotions shared
  2. Our own Emotional Junk - Emotions hidden
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea - Small conscious self and BIG unconscious self
  5. Biopsychosocial Model - Biological, Psychological, Social selves
  6. Me!  (Today’s Post)

What we have covered so far in our series is that we know emotions are contagious.  We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, be more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion.”  Further, we hope that if we do this, we might be able to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care.  We can have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?  Then …out at sea (away from our narrative for a day,) we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the big expanse of our unconscious biology.  Yesterday we reviewed our biopsychosocial model as a tool for further understanding where our emotions and behaviors come from.

Self-Care Tip #272 – If you are ever unsure about where your emotions and behaviors are coming from, it is always safe and true enough to say, “Me.”

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

Me.

For example:  Me <–> Emotions Shared <–> Me <–> Emotions Hidden <–> Me <–> small conscious self and BIG unconscious self <–> Me <–> Biological, Psychological, Social selves <–> Me… round and round, starting and ending and starting with Me.

Rob and Yesenia were both breathing hard.  Rob was pale and Yesenia flushed.  Where to start?  With Me.  This is what I shared with them both.

Put your spouse down and take three steps back!  Own your own self.  Take care of your own self.  In the process, you will be able to pick each other up again and share love.

Questions:  What are you holding, carrying, using to explain where your emotions and behaviors come from?  How have you been able to put those down and hold yourself?  Please tell me your story.

The Biopsychosocial Model for Where Emotions and Behaviors Come From

Waitress.

Image via Wikipedia

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious
  2. Our own Emotional Junk 
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea 
  5. (today’s post) 

What we’ve covered so far in our series is that we know emotions are contagious.  We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion,” so to speak.  Further, we hope that if we do this, we might have the ability to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care and have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?  …Yesterday took us out to sea away from our narrative for a bit, where we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the rest.

Self-Care Tip #271 - Use your biopsychosocial model as a tool to help your friend – You.

We return today to Rob and Yesenia.  (Remember Rob?)  Rob has shown us three important ways of considering where his emotions and behaviors come from.  This is the biopsychosocial model of looking at our functioning in the context of illness.

  • Rob’s biological factors include his own genetic primary illnesses as well as his genetic vulnerability to emotional milieu on his genes’ expression.  It also includes Rob’s temperament.

Going toward what our temperament finds pleasure in will naturally bring more good things to/in us and others around us.  (See blog post, Hear, Be Heard, Believe and Speak in Your Own Language.)

  • His psychological factors include how he is or is not able to cope with his wife’s emotions and behaviors.  There is obviously more involved but, snore.  (Ahem.  Oh.  There I was.)
  • Rob’s social factors include his wife’s emotions and behaviors.  Yesenia’s untreated emotional illness gives Rob a difficult interpersonal relationship to contend with.  …Where to start?

Questions:  How has looking at your biopsychosocial self collectively as well as in parts been a useful tool for understand your own emotions and behaviors?  Is it difficult to do this for yourself?  If so, what limits you?  Please tell me your story.

Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea

Paddle away

Image by San Diego Shooter via Flickr

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious
  2. Our own Emotional Junk 
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea (today’s post) 

Paddle boarding in the Pacific Ocean (OP) today brought me to flocks of pelicans, breaking waves and a seal who said hello.  The OP was kicked up into big swells and long-shore currents.  There was all this ocean to connect with using not much more than a paddle.  Where do the waves come from?  The moon?  The wind traveling currents of changing temperature?  And what did I have?  A paddle and a board.

Our body is about like that.  There is this huge amount of unconscious self that we are connected to but not in a direct sensory way.  Our emotions, touch, smell, hearing, taste and sight; our spiritual quotient, emotional quotient, intellectual quotients – these are a pinch of what make us who we are.  These are our summarily interpretive lens for the world.  They steer our choices and shape our understanding of reality.  They are our “paddle and board” in an ocean of biology.

Even though the things we have a direct sense of, a direct connection with and thereby implying control of is not the majority of what makes us who we are, it is such a privilege to actively engage in it.  It is what makes our life worth living.

When we think of where behaviors and emotions come from, we think of many paradigms.  But that pinch, that bit of the great enormous creation we are that we are conscious of is such a pleasure and wonder.  To not engage with it fully as we are free to do is an unqualified loss.  It is to be without board and paddle at sea.

This is not to say that we are to ignore the great majority of our biology that is otherwise who we are.  Any surfer knows better.

Self-Care Tip #270 – Do all that you can with the amount of direct awareness you are given and relish the experience.

Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too

Chris Sacca, Google special issues

Image by dfarber via Flickr

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious
  2. Our own Emotional Junk 
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too (today’s post) 

What we’ve covered so far in our series is that we know emotions are contagious and we know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible to contagion” in turn.  Further we were left with the hope that if we do this, we might have the ability to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care and have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?

Yesterday, M in his usual gentle way, reminded us that contagious emotions might be effective for spreading more deliberately and more in the positive nature.

 I am encouraged and hopeful. Being peaceful can be contagious too?

Then today I read a tweet about Chris Sacca’s commencement address.

presence -> sleeping well -> breathing *ahhh* -> embracing my weird self -> presence. Thx again @sacca So good.

Well worth my time!  Sacca spoke about being a friend to yourself!  Can you believe it!?  …Ok.  He didn’t say those words or mention this blog, …or me …but he may as well have!  (Wink.)

If you listen, think and process, please tell.   I would love to hear what you get from his speech.

…Did you catch the bit about start overs?!  You know I love that.

Sometimes however, I am a real bore making this “friend to yourself” thing seem so dull and difficult.  And M and Sacca are right!  Peace and happiness are also contagious and a better effort.  To get that, Sacca tells us to do some specific things.  Did you catch them?

Question:  What did Chris Sacca say that you find useful to friendship with yourself? or others?

Self-Care #269 – Positive emotions and behaviors are also contagious and are a better effort for your friend – You.

Taking Care of Our Own Emotional Junk Empowers us Not to Take Care of Theirs

Women Only - Choose your Favourite-Bangalore-n...

Image by najeebkhan2009 via Flickr

Yesterday we started a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious
  2. Our own Emotional Junk (today’s post)

Yesenia and Rob chorussed,

Yes! I am worse when Yesenia is not doing well. Who can cope around that!?

Yes! Rob is making me sicker!

Saying emotions are contagious is not the same as explaining causality or fault. It’s talking about an influence. I didn’t want Rob to misunderstand me. Saying emotions are contagious is information to use to empower us; not to make us feel like victims. It is to help disclose our own vulnerabilities, our own needs and our own quest towards healing and presence.

But how to be present with “falling knives,” as Cindy described this in yesterday’s comments?

It starts and ends with Me. So getting back to Me simplifies things and short-cuts our confusion.

It’s easier for us to be around so much charged air when we have already gone toward our own flaws, pain, emotions and anxieties. It is easier for us to not make something personal that isn’t if we have already stayed in our own nasty space for a time, did that process over and over, and each time stayed long enough to see what is there/what will happen until we realize – not much. (That was what I like to call a “super-sentence!) Taking care of our own junk helps us be available for other people when they are spilling theirs. We are less controlled by shame and fear.

This may not happen when complicated by our brain disease. Personalizing things may be inevitable if we do not get medication therapy. Being present with our own journey might not happen without medical help.

Sometimes when we are ill, we feel like we are spectators of our own life story, standing off to the side, just watching the show. With healing, we join with that living active self and can be present and whole. With healing, we don’t have to personalize someone else’s emotion-spills. With healing, we can improve our quality of life. When they don’t fight for brain health, such as taking needed medications, or whatever it is that would have been friendly for them to do – we don’t have to make it about us.

And! And if we choose to, we can be with them. We can be with the people we love! Isn’t that great?! Even when they don’t do their own self-care. Even then. Or not. But we are choosing now rather than reacting defensively.

Kaily said it yesterday like this,

Now, when I notice that my mood is starting to mimic the negative mood or negative atmosphere around me, I stop myself and realize that just because those around me are negative, stressed, uptight, etc., I have the choice and the power to stay positive and at peace within myself. Just because everyone else is jumping off the cliff doesn’t mean that I have to follow.

Self-Care Tip #268 – Taking care of our your own emotional junk helps you not try to take care of theirs.

Emotions Are Contagious – Such as, Anxiety.

We are starting a narrative series on discussing where emotions and behaviors come from:

Anxiety bubbled, frothed and infused the air.  Yesenia could barely catch a breath.  Here’s the thing.  Yesenia is not in treatment with me.  Her husband, Rob, is.  Yet it was Yesenia who filled our space.  There was barely room for Rob and I to sit or speak with all that anxiety around.  Rob was breathing faster every moment and his face didn’t have much color.  …Where to start?

Unknown source

(What do you think? think?  think? echo echo echo…)

It was too early in our work together to expect Rob to know this, but emotions are contagious.  Anxiety is very contagious.  To say this another way we could say, the emotion of anxiety around us influences how our genes express themselves.  It is further explained by saying that my “patient” isn’t only Rob.  My patient includes the system he lives in, i.e. his home milieu, wife, kids, work and so forth.  But especially his wife.  Because of Yesenia’s untreated emotional disease, Rob’s emotional disease worsens.  The inverse is true as well and so we go round and round gaining momentum.  Like a big ball of hard packed snow gathering speed and girth as it rolls down the mountain, anxiety grows.  …Where to start?

(What do you think? think?  think? echo echo echo…)

Self-Care Tip #267 – When suffering from emotional illness, remembering that emotions are contagious (no matter who they come from) is useful to your self-care.

Questions:  How have you experienced the contagion of emotions?  or seen it play out in others?  Please tell me your story.

Where Do Emotions and Behaviors Come From?

Emotion

Last night at our self-care workshop, we asked the question,

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

The answers, were nice and varied; none the same.  It’s such a great question though, don’t you think?  It would be great to hear from you as well.

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

Then, would you tell us if it has qualified your worth?  self-esteem?  confidence?

Has it affected where you go for help with them?

Self-Care Tip #266 – Answer, “Where do emotions and behaviors come from?” for better self-care.

Our Patient-Doctor Relationship Improved by Self-Care and Back At You!

NICU Nursery

Image by EMS Shane in Portland via Flickr

I am writing a series of blog-posts outlining self-care in which we examine the tenets of self-care:

Self-Care Tip #265 – Use your connections to help yourself and use your self-care to improve your connections (such as your patient-doctor relationship.)

Damaged and premature, my niece was born needing help to live. Now, one year later, I am playing ball with her on the floor. Her intelligent smile, thriving body, and especially the lovely nape of her neck with that baby-curl of hair lipping up makes remembering her near death-dive into life surreal. I don’t want to remember it anyway. But when I can’t help myself, what I like to think of is how my brother and sister-in-law were treated.

The clinicians at UCSD were unbelievable, my brother said. They included him in their decision-making and informed him of medical study results. If you don’t know, if you’ve never been sick or been in a medical setting otherwise, this doesn’t always happen. It isn’t traditional to share medical information directly with patients (such as x-rays, laboratory results, differential diagnoses, and to ask their opinion. Can you imagine?!  “…Um. Yes PLEASE! Can I be your patient!?” Sounds like fantasy.)

I’ve also struggled to collaborate. Hovering over charts and laboratory results, many of us practitioners behave as if our patients were at any moment going to throw us into court. It’s embarrassing, even though the truth is, too many of us clinicians are stalked by litigious intentions, whilst the truly awful practitioners seem to sail away on unsinkable malpractice without pursuit.

I have not enjoyed myself when I’ve done this. When I’ve acted suspicious of the very people I’m meant to team up with, work was not good for me. I don’t think my patients felt comfortable with the doctor-patient relationship either during those times. Hearing my brother talk about how he was treated has emboldened me to engage with more trust in the care I offer patients. Moreso, being friendly to myself has helped me be a better physician.  It’s tail chasing but with productive and enriching effects.

Making a choice to choose trust and transparency with patients and clinicians, even being present with the fear, is self-care although high pressure. With people’s lives on the line, clinicians and patients know mistakes will happen. The self-care will grow our ability to forgive each other.

My journey with self-care has brought me to see people differently. I look at them from the self-care angle. I look for those sticky bits where we can connect and collaborate. I expect things from them. I ally myself with their self-respect, with their intuitive desire to be friends with themselves. I am bored at work when I don’t do this. I am bored at work when my patients don’t do this too. Without self-care for myself and without my patient’s interest in self-care, medical practice becomes everything that the negative reputations advertise about the physician and the patient.

Yes. My quality of practice has definitely improved.

Who isn’t blessed when she sees the courage to face stigma, shame and bewildering illness? Who isn’t more informed every time someone chooses the freedom to do self-care, chooses to live, fights hard like my niece did and shows what that fight is worth?

Who doesn’t learn from that? When someone loses her identity to the defacing ravages of disease but still knows she is worth the fight, like PattyAnne, working beside her is one of the best places in the world to be. For Me. It starts and ends with Me.

Building trust in a patient or a clinician starts with us staying connected to others in our personal circle and along the ripples as the circle widens. We have to have a voice and hear their voice and we do this by maintaining a community of people.

Connection is part of self-care for both clinician and patient. In the case of PattyAnne, (yes, she’s still in our story,) she could take an action toward her self-care with the intention of gaining stronger connection to her community and to me. She could ask herself about her intentions. In fact, we both would do better self-care approaching each other this way.

Connection via the patient-doctor relationship is self-care and then back the other way too!

It starts and ends with Me.

Questions: Has your patient-doctor relationship been a friendly part of what you’ve given yourself?  What are some examples or in what ways have other connections you’ve chosen improved your self-care?  How has self-care inversely improved your patient-doctor relationship?  Please tell me your story.

Trusting our Clinician, or Not

Free Fall Image

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I am writing a series of blog-posts outlining self-care in which we examine the tenets of self-care:

Introduction to self-care
self-knowledge 
presence 
moral neutrality
trust (Today’s topic)
patient-doctor relationship/connection

Question:  How do we trust ourselves when we choose to trust our clinicians?  What is your answer? Please tell me your thoughts.  These are some of mine.

…Enters experience, temperament, and personal self-care/readiness to practice of the clinician.

Self-care does.  Self-care is our tool.

The clinician living her own directives is university.  Going to work in a state of readiness is instructive.  At some level, her patient sees that self-care allows the clinician to go to work after personal needs have been attended to.  The clinician then is able to give over space in time, place and emotion and make room for her patient.  Who wants to go see someone for help but instead finds a clinician in role confusion?  The opposite can also be true.  The patient might mistake their own role and try to leave their real illnesses hidden, protected in the safety of their own expertise.

…Re-enters PattyAnne.  Remember her?

PattyAnne was pretty sure that getting an ADHD diagnosis would explain to the people she had hurt a better why for why she hurt them.  It would give PattyAnne a name for the chaos.  Having a diagnosis that comes from a figure of perceived authority, say a Doctor of Medicine, offers this.  It is like a judge who pronounces us innocent and another guilty.  This is not a bad or good motive.  It just is.  To want to get away from negatively perceived labels, is.

As a practitioner, it’s not simple to resist the lure of treatment, when it would be easy to make our patient happy.  It also takes a lot more time in patient education and building a trust relationship if we don’t agree with the patient’s self-diagnosis. Considering these pressures, many have wondered if the frequency of prescribing is affected by it.  For example, it is estimated that 73% of clinician visits for sore throats result in antibiotic prescriptions, but over 90% of sore throats don’t respond to antibiotics. (I know.  That’s robbery!  Those poor other patients who got nothing for their copays!  Not even a prescription!)

So in comes PattyAnne, diagnosis and treatment already in place. All she needs is my signature.

Being a patient is not always easy.  It improves some with insight or at least the ability to receive insight, a vulnerable pose, humility, courage, self-respect and so much more.  Maybe PattyAnne was thinking, “Oh boy.  Now I got this woman who doesn’t know that I’m ADHD!”

We have each other and begin the adventure of patient-doctor relationship, an alliance and a connection.

Self-Care Tip #264 – Trust to improve self-care, and take care of yourself to improve your trust.

It starts and ends with Me.

 

Self-Care Is Not A Moral Issue

Facial emotions.

Image via Wikipedia

I am writing a series of blog-posts outlining self-care in which we examine the tenets of self-care:

Self-Care Tip #263 – Experience, use, observe and interpret emotions, but don’t moralize them.

We sometimes forget about the involved journey to a healthy Me.  Because of this, we become fearful that it means alone-care, apart-from-God-care, selfish-care, excluding experienced-and-professional-input-care and so on.  It’s not.  Self-care is collaborative, yet that doesn’t negate the fact that it must start and end with Me.

When we take care of “Me,” we can connect more with others, including God, have more inside of us to give to others, and have more interest in the world around.  The opposite disables our abilities to do those things.  No one can give what she doesn’t have.

We have this person, “Me,” to take care of.  This “Me” is valuable, of high priority, to be celebrated and cheered on.

Please, shake it off.  Self-care is not a moral issue.  It just is.  It is a choice, a freedom and an opportunity.  It is not about salvation and has no influence on our worth.  It just is.

We are more willing to buy into the, “It just is,” self-care tool when we understand where emotions and behaviors come from – the brain. This biological stance is the evidence for deescalating our drive to moralize emotions and behaviors.  They are not from an aura, a gear we can shift, or any nidus of control outside of our human bodies.  Emotions are how we interpret the world around us.  They are not linked to morality.  Please don’t take them to the pulpit.  If you do, I will still be polite, although breathing through a mask.

Emotions are our interpretive lens for our physical self.

Questions:  How’s the clarity of your lens holding out after considering this part of self-care?  What influence does what you “see” with your emotions have on your ability to befriend yourself?  Please tell me your story.