Seeing Your Brain As The Place Emotions and Behaviors Come from is Terrifying

Terror

Image by pablokdc via Flickr

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

Now think about it and answer your true beliefs.

I was speaking with a wonderful physician the other day to whom I asked this question, (let’s call her Doctora.)

I respect Doctora for her character, personality, standard of medical practice and interpersonal beauty. She is a bulldog in the operating room. When patients need studies done that insurances won’t pay for, she tears barriers to treatment apart with vicious tools of rightness. And she cares.  She sits.  She asks.  And she cares.  She sees the person in the paper gown, each one for the person she knows them to be and the person yet unknown.

I admire Doctora greatly not only for these qualities but also because it gets personal.  I, who have my own special practice of medicine, cannot do her’s.

When just a green bumbler in medical school, there was a fateful day when I shadowed another great artist of medical care into a locker room.  I suited up in that blue sack they call scrubs.  I put little blue sacks over my tennis shoes too.

Do you know why there are blue sacks on the surgeon’s shoes?  So that when wet things come out of the human body and fall onto their feet, their toes won’t feel squishy. Yep. That’s what was going through my mind as I scrubbed my hands, each finger and each finger nail the ten minutes it takes to reach what is considered clean.

Surgery in progress, the color red mixed with a smell and monstrous sensual force that clobbered me to the ground.  I swooned, gagged and promptly ended my surgical career.

There is nothing more irritating to a surgeon than someone who doesn’t appreciate the “fun” of “cutting.” Yes. I irritated this mentor and others too I’m afraid.

This doesn’t keep me unfortunately from pleasuring in telling people, “I am licensed to do surgery.”  I am you know.  Any Jane with a medical license can pick a scalpel up and bring back the dark ages, or contemporary, depending on who holds the license.  I’m irritating to my mentors, remember.  It reminds me how anyone can go online and pay to become a marriage registrar, i.e. perform a marriage ceremony for couples.  My brother did that twenty years ago and has yet to perform the marriage ceremony for a willing couple.  For real judges and clergy, this might be irritating too and that makes me a little happy as well.

Anywho, Doctora and I were rolling with the injustices haranguing us in the practice of medicine, both from the angle of the physician and the patient. I was pumping her up for being the cutting-wonder who she was and she was dutifully marveling at my jabber-mouth work that she would, “never be able to do in a million years.”  Somehow this brought us round to how our culture avoids embracing the biological paradigm of anything inside our skull but is so willing to celebrate it for any other part of our human bodies.

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

Doctora answered me with a frozen breath. Then after I soiled the air with a lot of jabbering and she was finally able to speak, she said,

I would just be horrified if my brain got sick!

I wondered if it was scary enough to clobber her to the ground, but I do agree.  Terrifying.  Don’t you think?

Question:  Is that why hardly anyone can speak about the brain being human and largely responsible for where our emotions and behaviors come from? How has this played into your experience of self-care?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Go to the fear that keeps you from embracing your biology to gain more freedom.

Victim to Emotions Versus The Friendliness In Accountability

Thin layer chromatography is used to separate ...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s just hard!

It is hard.  Do you feel like a victim?

Yes I do?  It’s hard when they are making you feel this way and no one gets it unless they are here fighting against both sides like I have to.

Juanita’s self-perception and emotions; suffering is special and specific to Me, I am chosen to suffer, I am alone in my suffering and I am helpless, were carried by the air particles through our room.

In 1910, Russian botanist Mikhail Tsvet used water to do this to plant dyes.   The water in the plant dyes carried the pigment, separating them for his needs.  This is now called chromatography and we use it to determine what makes up a particular flavor or scent, to analyze pollutants, to find traces of drugs in urine, and to separate blood proteins.  You might remember doing this yourself as a child in the simple science experiment with a marker, a couple drops of water and a coffee filter.

Juanita’s son also knew about chromatography, I could tell.  He may not have called it that with words, but he did call it out with his body, his eyes and the muscles around his lips told me as I watched that the emotions had made their way over to him and that he was bringing them inside.

Some people call emotions contagious and others may describe them as spreading.  No one thinks they don’t travel.  No one thinks they remain stationary.  In fact, if we were to reduce everything in the known world, living and nonliving matter, and expand our thoughts into a large large amount of time, we’d agree that nothing is stationary.  Furthermore, everything is changed by the influencers in its universe.

Juanita’s son knew this even if he didn’t cognitively piece it together.  He was taking in his mom’s emotions and they were making their changes on him.

What I asked Juanita was if it mattered in the end.  She’s still left with herself, regardless of where things came from.  We’d like to think others should take care of us, at least not do damage to us, but if they don’t or if they do, in the end, we are left with ourselves.  All these perceived degrees of abuse she suffered – what now?

Saying we are left with ourselves, accountable to ourselves and should take care of ourselves is not making any statement about the condition of our connections with the world around us.  It’s just talking about Me.  Sometimes we perceive how others take care of us, sometimes we don’t.  The same goes with feeling alone and so forth.  But that isn’t about accountability to ourselves.

I would have liked to have said the same thing to Juanita’s son but couldn’t.  I hope he learns it from watching his mother.  If he or mom gain insight into this and can act on that insight, wonderful.  If they cannot do one or the other though, I’d bet there’s something biological going on and need to take care of themselves by looking for medical help.

Question:  How do you perceive accountability to yourself being different from where the problems drift towards you from?  Or from how you have been changed by problems?  Please tell me your story.

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Let Things Come Together And Fall Apart To Experience Them More Fully – Presence

Cover of "Boy"

Cover of Boy

He still has some lingering vestigial baby-smell that sets the pheromones into motion.  I turn soft and doughy sniffing his hairline and would claw out any threat; as if there would be one within our stuccoed walls in jungled suburbia.  But just in case, I am primed.  Grrrr.

This moment that comes in one lungful of air sets off the sixth sense, like chimes in the wind, into a little pretty song of contrasting emotions – something warm and nice against fear and aggression.  Lovely.  Complex and simple.  I breath in and taste what is in the air again more slowly.  I let it come together so I can pull it apart.  I am in awe.

What creatures we are.

Big breath everyone.  What contrasts come together for you?  Is the experience of letting yourself watch them coalesce and then dehis add any sense of presence to your moment?

Self-Care Tip – Let things come together and fall apart to experience them more fully – presence.

Oxymorons – The Flexibility In Us That Ties Us to Both Sides of Hope

Clara Bohan, wrote about the wise “white buffalo,” sacred to the Lakota as well as other Plains Tribes, such as the Apache and Cheyenne.  White buffalo’s bring us a message.  Read Clara’s blog if you want to know the message, but what we reference here at FriendtoYourself.com, is the embrace of magical thinking with an indian wearing sunglasses beside a plastic banner.  I love it.

The oxymoron is no more inappropriate than the oxymoron we find in becoming our own best friend.  In yesterday’s post, bluebee called it “schizophrenic,” which means a “broken mind.”

Self-care is an oxymoron at every turn.  Love ourselves the way we are.  Love ourselves too much to stay that way.  Are you okay with that?

Sometimes I say that calling myself a “Christian psychiatrist” is an oxymoron because I know emotions and behaviors come from the brain, yet I believe in outside input, or what many call magic and unscientific.  My own white buffalo.

Getting comfortable with the oxymorons in our life is a friendly thing to do.  We are not so perfectly collected, so well-designed and well-defended that we will ever be above the magic each of us consider, quality of life.  We could describe this in part as having a flexible identity for our own safety.  If we take away the oxymoron, we threaten our hope-factor in life.  We die as anything does that doesn’t move.

So there’s our tip.

Questions – What oxymorons are serving you well?  How?

Have you hugged your oxymoron today?

Demanding Freedom and Other Oxymorons That Empower Our Self-Care

Désirée Nick at "Oxymoron" in Berlin...

Désirée Nick at "Oxymoron" in Berlin, 1999

I read today on bipoblogger’s blog,

I am trying so hard to keep my head wrapped around keeping a hold on this broken heart/life balance/bipolar thing.  It’s been complicated by stupid migraine headaches.  It’s hard to make sense of things and to pay attention.

Today while I was waiting for my laundry to dry, I began writing some deep thoughts, deep like I didn’t want to deal with them. I basically wrote a page of self-help advice.  I appreciate my stubbornness.

My answer:

This sounds like a woman of courage doing it, taking accountability for where she is at, afraid maybe but pressing on to start over any time she chooses, demanding her freedom to self-care.   Demanding freedom seems like an oxymoron but this is what is called for when we feel trapped.

I will add to this “answer” that self-care often seems like an oxymoron.  Such as using the brain (the same organ that is diseased) to figure out what it’s behaviors and emotions mean or everything starts and ends with Me (when we know that there was a beginning before Me) – we see the weaknesses and the conflict and we say yes.  I am an oxymoron.  I am good and bad.  I am healthy and ill.  I am growing and dying.  I am flawed but perfect.  I’m sure you have more.

Demanding freedom is a basic tenet of self-care.  We say that despite the limitations in our lives, in our decision-making, in our suffering or pleasures – despite all, I am free to do self-care.

Questions:  How have you managed to demand your freedom to self-care?  What oxymorons in your life are empowering you in your self-care?  Please tell us your story.

Are You Empowered to Start Everything and End Everything With Me?

Yesterdays blog-post brought a few neighborly questions for us to follow-up with.

One is regarding emotions from bluebee.  Is jealousy medical?  Followed by, What part of emotion is under our control?  Indeed.

Second, Sarah quietly slipped the question under our door of how to respond to emotions and behaviors that come from brain illness.  How?  Indeed.

Third, Carl banged a little louder when asking, what keeps him in a relationship with someone who is maltreating him verses leaving?  Indeed.

There is a nice flow to these.  They are leading into the next and circle back.  Emotions and behaviors come from the brain, much which is out of our control and some of which is.  The choice to engage in the life of the ill is like any other choice.  Our own.  If it matters to us if the way the brain is working in the “other” is in their control or not, we can spend more time trying to sus that out.  I’m not sure myself when I get it good from someone mean, but it has become easier to take care of my junk rather than there’s.  For that, I will say a million thanks.  If I’m getting yelled at, I do the checks on myself – anxiety? fear? anger? fatigue? shaking? dizzy? tone of my voice? do I know what this person is yelling about? (most often it has nothing to do with Me), empathy? empowerment? You’ve told me that you are growing in similar refreshing ways.

Face Down w/Laundry and Gwen Stefani

Image by NCM3 via Flickr

I’ve seen this play out a little in my children.  My daughters and son are supposed to do the laundry every morning before they play.  I don’t know how many years now, but their arguments haven’t changed.

I’m doing this all by myself.  No one is helping me!

Mom!  He’s just laying on top of the clothes!  

Mom!  …

These questions above…;

  • where emotions and behaviors come from,
  • control over biological symptoms,
  • do I respond to others with brain illness
  • or do I walk away

These questions don’t mean much if we don’t find where our empowerment comes from.  Me.  Everything starts and ends with Me.

I’m ill for reasons I have nothing to do with, yet I will be accountable for myself and how I affect others.

I feel emotions I didn’t ask for, behaving ways that I am a spectator to rather than a whole person, yet I will do what I can to gain health.  In that, I have control.

I surrender what I don’t control to my Higher Power.  I take medication.  I exercise, guard my sleep hygiene and get regular sleep, eat responsibly, gather and engage community, attend therapy groups and/or individual, I try while at the same time I let go, I love my flaws as I love my perfections, I try to develop my natural genius, try as often as I can to pour any energies I have in that direction as I know I will heal faster, enjoy life more and be more successful at all my efforts when I do.

It reminds me of that saying, that if I have success, it is from standing on the shoulders of giant midgets.  We are all flawed.  We are all wonderful.  We are supported by others who also are full of flawed perfections.

Do I have control?  You bet.  …And no way.  Always, there are both.

Do I talk when someone is mistreating me? or mistreating themselves by neglecting their own self-care? by letting their illnesses shape their lives?  Do I walk away as that may be what my self-care demands.

Everything starts and ends with me.  There are a lot of stops along the way with other forces, but empowerment is mine.  Indeed.  That’s what I hope my kids will learn when doing the laundry.

Emotions and Behaviors Will Get Better As You Heal.

Punch to the Face

Image by Ninja M. via Flickr

Don’t worry.

When you hear that, don’t you think violent thoughts?  Or how about, “Calm down?”  Got to love that.  I have visuals of my back swing.  Sure.  You might call them hallucinations.  I’ve never actually hit someone but I have pulled into ready position.

Here’s the thing though.  After all this on-and-on about taking care of ourselves, I have found myself saying things that get awfully close and I’m looking out.  Pretty soon I’m afraid I’m going to get it.  (I’ve got my eye on you!  And you!)

Here’s what happened.  Augustina was wondering what to do about her best friend.  They had quarreled and then quarreled again.

Naming someone, “best-ie” sounds pubescent but Augustina was no child.  Her best-ie had been her chosen family (as Jackie Paulson reminded us yesterday)  since she was twelve, fat and leaked.  Kids were laughing.  Future Best-ie wasn’t.  That’s the kind of girl she was.  Safe; a light in a house that she had gone toward naturally and that had not been put out by Augustina’s misty self.  Wet face, stained pants, fat neck and pimples – Future Best-ie wasn’t laughing.  And that’s about all it took.  She was her friend.

Why had Augustina and Best-ie quarrelled these thirty-some years later?  This was am apparent mystery to Augustina.  You know those kind of mysteries, when they belong to only one person while everyone else with the answer key is looking on.  It was almost like she was standing there, twelve-years-old and bewildered.  This time though, Best-ie wasn’t on her side.  Or so she thought.

Truth is, Augustina had been mean.  She was not keeping dates, she argued easily and she was more self-absorbed than the color black.  It had been months now and then they quarreled.  Augustina missed all the prodrome, the warnings, the recommendations from family, other friends and including Best-ie to get insight and help.  To Augustina, this quarrel stood alone and she was being misused and misunderstood.

So what do we do?  Do we discuss Augustina’s behavior?  Do we explain her problems?  Maybe.  But only long enough to help her join our treatment team.  Once she’s in treatment, we wait.  We for reasons of self-preservation won’t say, “Don’t worry,” but we will come close.  Why?  Because we know that many of her problems as perceived by others and herself will disappear when her brain illness heals.  Do you believe that?  Where do you think her emotions and behaviors are coming from?

See blog post, There is Less Space Between Emotions And Science.

Questions:  When have you seen maltreatment from others that feels personal to you appear without provocation?  When have you seen someone you trusted change into someone who is mean, angry, selfish and reject you when they never did before?  Did you see the opposite happen when their brain illness was treated?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Calm down.  (Duck!  I see you and I’m outta here!)