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.

In The Space of Anger, Remember You Are a Friend to Yourself.

The Rage of Achilles (1757)

Image via Wikipedia

Bullying:  Series Continued.

  • #144 Leave Space In Your Beliefs To Grow
  • #163 ”He’s Never Hit Me.” Abuse.
  • #251 Just Ordinary Bullying – The Bully and The Bullied
  • #253 How to Be A Friend To Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully
  • #254 Free To Do Self-Care, Despite Our Bully
  • #255 Bullying That Includes Life-Threatening Behavior.

You are saying this to provoke me!

Paula was angry.  Her hold on her composure was tenuous.  I backed off before she lost her cool.  No one feels good when they do that.  If she felt this way around this mostly unthreatening environment, she must be suffering its effect on her relationships or lack thereof in her other life environments.  No one feels good when they can’t trust themselves.

I am not going to sit here and take this from you!  You are doing this on purpose!

And Paula walked out.  That was it.  That was all I got.  For now, my opportunity to help was over and I was left to wonder after her.

1.  In taking care of ourselves around anger, the first step is to ensure our personal safety.  Deescalate if possible the tension.  But most importantly, do what we must to be safe.  If we have to leave to do that, than we leave and it is over.  I commend Paula for leaving before she acted out on her anger.  That is good coping going on.

For myself, if she had continued to escalate, I could call for help or leave.

2.  The next step, (exclusively per Dr. Q), for those experiencing the anger…  Well there are many, and if it is happening often, should probably include medical interventions along with other considerations of her biopsychosocial self.

For those subjected to the anger, it will be most friendly to themselves to process their own emotional response to the anger-trigger.  “Do I feel angry too?  Do I think I am responsible for her emotions? Do I think what went down here is about me?”  Get our personal out of the stuff that isn’t.  Why make it about us if that isn’t true?  It is another thing if we were poking her with a skewer or had initiated our own emotional diarrhea before she did.  But that just takes us back to step #1.

3.  Finally, for the “victim,” take some time to tease out if we are putting ourselves in a position that isn’t safe repetitively.  “Is there a pattern?  Do we find ourselves in the space of anger or other negative emotions often?  How often?  Do we allow this person to treat us in a negative way that we would never allow anyone else to treat us?”  The answer to that will be telling about our self-friendliness.

Self-Care Tip #259 – In the space of anger, remember you are a friend to yourself.

Questions:  What patterns, if any, do you see in your life, or someone you love re: anger?  What empowers you towards self-care in the space of anger?

Anger – Sometimes There Doesn’t Have to Be A Reason

A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger.

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Self-Care Tip #244 – When emotions and behaviors come without being asked by you, think about the medical reasons.

She needed to keep going, Minka felt hurt and angry.  Control and failure nipped at her.  She wondered what it would take for her to recognize her own success.

Minka had a child who provoked her.  But worse for Minka, was not perceiving progress in their relationship.  Minka was bewildered by it.  But still and more so, angry.  She asked me what she needed to do to be happy and feel like what she did when life was good.  It reminded me of the man who came to Jesus and asked,

Teacher, what good thing must I do to have life forever?  (And listed off all his good deeds.)

Just as I was thinking about this, sure enough, Minka listed off her self-care efforts, angrily as if they failed to redeem her.

Turning this around in my mind, my thoughts ran over a differential – the 3 C’s, her temperament, her biology, other medical conditions, other influencing stressors and I wondered if Minka was angry in other situations as well.  (See The Biopsychosocial-How-To.)

No one really likes themselves much when they are angry.  Anger is pulled through the capillaries and passed on until it colors all of us red.  It is a confusing emotion; internally preoccupying.  Many people don’t remember chunks of their lives during which they said things and did things in anger.  It just disappeared into the white noise of the emotion.  During anger-binges, people can black-out too, much like alcohol.  Often times anger comes without invitation.  Often times, anger is not something that will leave by invitation either.

So we know already that the 3C’s apply to this kind of anger.

I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t change and or cure it!

Minka hurriedly answered that they didn’t work for her but she had tried.  It was on her self-care list apparently.

I don’t want to blame my daughter.  I know I’m responsible for how I feel but I keep holding her responsible even though cognitively, I know she’s not.

That was pretty big.  In my opinion, she could put that on her self-care list and check it off as well.  Steller.

the

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Through further disclosure, I learned that Minka hadn’t enjoyed anything much lately – not only her daughter.  She was irritable, edgy, felt superior to others and then kicked herself over it.  Minka said she tolerated less and less of what life touched her.

I wrap those descriptors in the same nap-sack as anger and mood.  They are on the affective spectrum and for Minka, it wasn’t for lack of trying hard enough, for lack of being spiritual enough (it makes some of us uncomfortable to say this), or missing a puzzle piece from her psyche.  Minka was medically unable to put her anger aside and connect with her daughter.  Minka’s medical condition was isolating her not only from her daughter but most other bits of life touching her.  She was ill.  She wasn’t choosing those emotions.  Now came the job of helping Minka see that and go for help in the right direction.

Question:  What is your opinion about behaviors and emotions coming without being invited or chosen?   …without a “reason” for being there?  Please tell me your story.

Related Articles

When Things Get Heated, Remember to Ask Your Friend’s Opinion. You.

Check the Meaning

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Self-Care Tip #237 – When things get heated, get a second opinion with your friend.

What would my friend say?

When in question, ask.  And who is the friend we are referred to here?  The “Me.”

This is a great check point to give ourselves.  Things get heated between her and him, she gets a second opinion.

Barbara had read this blog and tucked something of its fabric away in her blended space between conscious and sub.  Then one day, while zoning out listening to her husband yell and criticize her, she saw herself.  It was as if she split into the participating Barbara and the observing Barbara.  The participating Barbara suddenly didn’t feel so alone.  The word, or more the concept of “friend” came to mind and she put it together.

Now generally when she is in a situation that hurts and bewilders her, she is remembering to ask her friend what she should do.  Asking used to take longer, but now it comes to mind as quickly as the thought of consulting an intimate partner would.

What would my friend say?

Things weren’t peaceful yet in her life, but just asking her friend what she would do has helped Barbara a lot.  Barbara explained to me that if she were with a girlfriend, say Sally, and Sally gets worked over by her husband, Barbara wouldn’t have any problem thinking of what Sally should do about taking care of herself.  Barbara says that being her own friend is almost the same.

And then for me, it clicked.  I can ask my friend.

What should I do?

Question:  When getting hurt by someone, how can you get friendly with yourself in the moment?  Please tell me your story.

Choosing Perspective

choose

Image by miki** via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #225 – If you can’t choose a better perspective on your own, it might be time to choose it via a medical route.

Feeling trapped?  Overextended?  Used and neglected by others?  It might be true.  But why do we get in these impossible places?

In the Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, towards the end of the story we find ourselves in a room with Charles and It.  Charles is trapped by It.  He has disconnected from his own thoughts and has given himself over to the control of “It.”

Charles’ sister, Meg, comes in and reminds him about Love and that changed the perspective of everything.  It reminded Charles about why he wanted to choose for himself, to have his own thoughts, to love and receive love.  And then, with that, Charles was reconnected with himself again, whole and sharing space with Love.

The changing perspective turned what seemed an impossible bondage into freedom.

When we feel disconnected from our personal journey, impossibly overextended and trapped, remembering our freedom to choose, freedom because of Love can make all the difference.  The perspective shifts.  The impossible becomes possible.  Magic.

Sometimes, choosing is thwarted by brain disease.  When we can’t extricate ourselves, when guilt plagues us, when we feel like things are about us that really aren’t, when the emotion jarring us is inappropriate to the context – we need to use that as a cue to choose to get “free” via medical help.

Questions:  When have you felt trapped?  When you did feel trapped, how did you find your freedom?  Please tell me your story.

So Many Choices, So Little Time …For Self-Care

"Sophia Western", engraving after Bu...

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Self-Care Tip #198 – Being a friend to yourself might be saying,

No.

Our culture is brimming.  Brimming with…, well take your pick; walking the dogs, turning in a take-home test, watching The King’s Speech, writing a journal entry, making pancakes or reading Savvy – we have options.

However, today and often, options are stalkers we think difficult to restrain.  …More difficult, say than filing a restraining order against your husband.

Walter filed for divorce with his unhappy wife.  Vengefully, his wife turned around and filed a restraining order on him and just like that, he was unable to see his kid for over two months.  That was easy.  All she had to do was file it.

And when we have these many options, all we need to do is say, “Yes,” to one and to the rest,

No.

I love it when my four year-old son is rocking carelessly on my outstretched legs, flopping about, a happy-drunk bird-on-a-wire, and predictably although unintentionally falls.  Crumpled on the floor, he flicks his bangs back and says rather coolly,

I was okay, Mommy.  I was okaaaay.

I had tried to rest on the couch and type, doing my self-care thing after doing Mommy-stuff with the kids for a large chunk of the day.  But telling him to stop doing that really cute thing he does was not so easy.

According to The Economic and Social Research Council,

Having older siblings is not related to children’s happiness with their family, but having younger siblings in the household is associated with lower levels of satisfaction and this effect is greater the more younger siblings present in the household.

It turns out that children feel more happiness in their homes when there are fewer younger children.  They perceive that there is less energy available for them from their parents with each born child.  And I’m here to say, there is.  With my son on the floor, flicking his hair and going,

I was okaaay…,

my middle daughter kissing my shoulder and burrowing into my arm like an ear-wig, my eldest daughter came back to ask for the sixth time if I would play jump rope with her – I remembered this study.  So true.  I don’t need more options, i.e. more children who ask and I say,

No.

With these many wonderful options, choosing Me, is not always easy.  (See post, “‘You’ Are the Best Gift.”)

Now throw in a little inappropriate guilt, some ruminating thoughts, self-loathing, bad sleep, some low motivation and energy and choosing Me becomes the hardest thing anyone has come up against.

Questions: How do you choose you when you could pick so many other great options?  How has this helped quality of life for you and others in your life?  Please tell me your story.

Take Care Of Yourself to Give Love to Others

Give, take 'n share

Image by Funchye via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #195 – Take care of yourself to give Love to others.

Belen came in, confident.  She was comfortable in her element.  Working in her area of specialty was her delight and she didn’t worry about clocking hours or mixing it up with family.  Her work was part of what family meant to her.  It was what brought pleasure to her life.

“Wonderful!” you say.  And yes, it is.  “Why then did she come in to see me?” you ask.  Glad you asked.

This was Belen’s third marriage.  Marriage was not where she felt confident.  Talking marriage was when her lip surfaced, quivering on her face, transforming her.  In the past, Belen had often dropped her husband’s name, laced him into stories she told and her ring was a favorite finger toy.  I had the impression that Belen was proud to be married to this man.  But it wasn’t until today that Belen spoke about Ben directly.

I sat up because I was curious about this emotion that had flickered behind it all until today, when it was front and center.

In this case, Belen was afraid of her emotions in fact.  She was aware of them, but they were in a foreign code to her.  Tap-tap-pause-tap-tap-tap-pause… and so on.  She started by telling me about their evenings together.

Ben was a grazer who expected open time with her.  Belen, however, was a barn girl.  When she sat with her husband in their “open time” over a slow dinner, a drink, watching him read a book beside her – it took everything in her reserve each day to stay put.  All her nerves were dancing, telling her to get up and work.  It was what gave Belen her quality of life.  Her work was her self-care.  Ben’s time to meander through thoughts and play was in contrast, what gave him pleasure in life.  He waited all day, pushing through a task driven job, to come home and do this.

Potential negative energy was coiling up inside and Belen was afraid that she might be overcome by it.  Belen did not want to think about what that might end with.  Another failed marriage?  Losing this man she was so glad to be married to?  Dying alone?  She looked at me sideways, ashamed of her emotions.

I’m turning into Crazy Wife.  I yell at him for things that are no big deal.

My answer came too fast this time.  It wasn’t graceful or polite.  I regret that.  It’s never been a forte for me and one of the reasons I recommend my patients find a psychotherapist who will patiently stand beside them rather than collar them and drag them to water (like a certain psychiatrist I know.)

Do what gives quality to your life.  Claim it when you do and don’t hold him responsible for it.  He’ll feel guilty and defensive.  ‘Oh, I have so much work to do honey.  I can’t sit here…’  You are not a victim.  This is your choice.

Unfortunately, there was more along those lines, but like Kevin Blumer says,

I wish the blog world was the same as the real world where people have a chance and can think about things before they (say) them.

Alas, at least we have our keyboards, pencils and erasers.

Belen was losing her lovely confidence to resentment because she wasn’t doing what she was wired to do.  She wasn’t owning her choices.  She thought loving her husband meant that she shouldn’t and because of that, she was only giving him her uncared for self.  She didn’t realize that doing what gave her joy was the best way to Love others.

Question:  How do you help the people you love realize that when you take care of yourself, you are taking care of them too?  (This should get interesting!)  Please tell me your story.