Seek To Know Your Uniqueness

He who seeks truth shall find beauty.
He who seeks beauty shall find vanity.
He who seeks order shall find gratification.
He who seeks gratification shall be disappointed.
He who considers himself the servant of his fellow beings shall find the joy of self-expression.
He who seeks self-expression shall fall into the pit of arrogance.
Arrogance is incompatible with nature.
Through nature, the nature of the universe, and the nature of man, we shall seek truth.
If we seek truth, we shall find beauty.
—Moshie Safdie, TED 2002

Questions:  What direction does this offer our efforts toward friendship with ourselves?  Will you give us a personal example?

Self-Care Tip – Seek to know your uniqueness

Bring Your Separate Selves Together – Personal Journey

National Museum, Czartoryski Collection

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #199 – Bring together what you are naturally inclined to do with what you spend your energies on.

When we do what we like to do, what is congruent with our hard-wiring, what is naturally inspiring, fatigue becomes part of our pleasure in my life.  Cliché,

Enjoy the burn,

…is common for a reason.  There are times when pain, fatigue, difficulty and hard-surfaced days are bits of what make life journey one of richness, rather than diminished.  I was reminded by Jaclyn Rae’s Blog-post today, that when we can say,

I’ve learned that I’m tired but still want to do what I do,

…we are paddling the same river our life is floating down.  When we by mental illness, misfortune, choice or neglect, don’t – we are more observant of our lives rather than participants to them.  We find being present in the process difficult.  It’s not something everyone can do in all aspects.

However, we don’t have to be defined by those particulars, choosing instead to do the hard work of processing our choices, our energy and where it comes from, our emotions and see how they weave into our constitution.  Then, some time when breathing hard, limping and spent, we will remember this and reconnect the experience with the choice and the emotion a little quicker.  We will less often separate from the water our life is traveling.  Not become observers but participate more often, more actively, more tangibly with that kernel in us that stays, our essence.  (See blog post, My Essence.)

In the marvelous work, “His Dark Materials” trilogy, Philip Pullman describes us as split persons, a body and a spirit (“demon”) that might be parted by neglect, carelessness, abuse, or other disasters.  But when it is separated, the body suffers and is disconnected from it’s life purpose, what brings pleasure and presence in the world around.  (See blog post, Soul and Body.)

There are medical illnesses that do this, as mentioned above, and in those cases, perhaps all to do is get medical care, heal, treat and get on with life.  Other times, it might be that we forgot ourselves in the midst of caring for children, a demanding job, an opinion that victim-hood defines our life possibilities or what not.  We have options.

As Jjen reminded us some days ago,

The bad doesn’t disappear but it is not a qualifier for the rest of life’s potential.

Questions:  How have you reconnected to your life journey?  Your essence?  What is constant about you in your changing self?  Please tell me your story.

What Is Your Most Core Desire? That Is Self-Care

It's a Business Doing Pleasure

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #191 – Do what you desire to get friendly with yourself.

What is your most core desire?  I am learning more about mine.

I wonder at the improvement in my quality of life since blogging with you.  It is More than the pleasure of writing; which I do love and have missed for years.  It is More than the pleasure of being productive; a natural high for my temperament.  It is More than the self-care tips listed off that roll back; a tide of all that is sent out comes in again to wash over me and change the shape of my life.

This morning I ran into a newer friend.  We came into each other’s lives, catalyzed by the ingredient that this blog provided.  I am sure I would not previously have allowed myself the pleasure of speaking with her for long without it.  My temperament has always been a driving force that pushes me into “the barn.”  I often miss the journey for the end.  This is “The More” that has been given to me.  Connection.

Now people actually look different.  Despite years of medical education, years of psychotherapy and my years of life, I never saw people to the extent that I do now.  Each of us here for a time with our stories, our pearls to offer and each of us with our essence to share for eternity.  It is one more time for me when I am open-eyed, open-mouthed gawking at the thought of “The More” that is still coming.  Better than this.

Think of your most core desire; what you are driven toward by biology, genes and higher intelligence.  What has given you access to that?  Now think about how to go for More.  That is self-care.

Question:  Oh, you know what I’m going to ask…

Do You Feel Pleasure? Lacking The Ability to Feel Pleasure Leads to Suffering.

Grazing in Spain

Self-Care Tip – Enjoy what you do or else find out why you don’t.

Pleasure.

I often ask patients when I am taking their mood history,

Are you able to feel pleasure?

I need to figure out how to ask this without you or anyone thinking that I want to know more about lube and feathers.  No, thank you very little.  But what I am trying to ask about is the ability to enjoy what you are doing.  It is not necessarily “joy” but at least it includes having a positive sense about you while you are progressing through something.  Being able to feel pleasure does not mean being happy at a fiesta or while doing kangaroo jumps with your child.  It does not mean changing your personality so that someone who prefers to work turns into someone who is playful, or a grazer* turns into a barn animal*.

Feeling pleasure does not mean that we achieve our fantasies.  It does not mean we are on vacation.

To understand what pleasure is, it helps to understand ones temperament.  It is enjoying what you do when you do your thing.  For example, if you are someone who in any given day or mood and regardless of weather or wealth would want to complete the work for the day – when you do that, are you feeling it?  Are you feeling pleasure?  Or, to contrast, if you are someone who would more often choose an unstructured and unmarked day – how is it going down for you?  Are you feeling pleasure?

Pleasure when you are doing your thing is quality of life.  If you do not feel it, life is crackers without soup.  It comes and goes dry and without anticipation.  If you do not feel pleasure, you lose your perceived connections around you and including with yourself.  Suffering is when you feel alone, even from your self.  Losing the ability to feel pleasure results in suffering.

Goodenough, PhD

Not everyone connects that emotional illness is a state of suffering – whatever one or combination of illness(es) come to us in.  Looking in at ourselves, at our Me, from the outside, we observe expressions and behaviors that we interpret from our own bank of information and intuition.  When I tell someone, what you are observing in your child, or wife or whomever is my patient at the time with mental illness – when I say,

They are really suffering,

it tugs our unconscious awareness into consciousness   We often do not actively know about this internal world where there is no pleasure.  We do not know that lacking pleasure leads to suffering.

Are you able to feel pleasure?  Do you find it harder to feel pleasure than you used to?  What things do you still enjoy? How long has it been since you last felt pleasure?

The ability to feel pleasure is a wonderful gift.

Questions:  What has helped you most in healing your suffering?  What has helped you connect again with others when illness pulls you away?  Please tell me your story.

*Reference:
Temperament definitions according to Dr. Q:
grazer = someone who comfortably wanders from idea to idea
barn animal = someone who is goal oriented and does not like things unfinished

Related Articles

The Achilles In Us All – To Our Own Demise

Cover of "Troy - The Director's Cut [Blu-...

Cover of Troy - The Director's Cut

Self-Care Tip #188 – Don’t avoid the obvious to be a friend to yourself.

Have you ever watched someone make a bad decision?  Probably, if you’ve watched anyone.  We all do make bad choices.  But a really bad one?  One that when you hear it going down, you can almost feel the hair on your neck point south.  We ask ourselves why no one stops them.  We perhaps have tried to reason, to force, to pull favors to buy them away from this choice.

If you do this, ….

Maybe weeping some.  Maybe they’ve done this same variety of bad choice before; many times perhaps.

The problem is bigger than our own selves of course.  The people in our wake, being tumbled about by our bad choices, these people suffer.  It’s irresponsible.  Sure.  Those tumbled people are responsible for there own self-care too, but they aren’t responsible to accept us back with open arms when we drive our boat over them.  We don’t connect that the reason they are back there bobbing in the water is in part because we don’t have insight into our behavior.

Brad Pitt played Achilles in the movie Troy, Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.  If you remember, he died in the end.  Movie critic, described what killed him well.

Achilles is moved by love of glory and knows that he will die young if he pursues it, but his reputation is all that counts because all he is a warrior and the best one, at that.
Self-care includes stopping the kill that our own “Achilles heel” is making on us; i.e. that (or those) big thing(s) that everyone else but us can see that in the end will kill us.

Carl Jung describes the inferior function of someone’s personality type as their Achilles’ heel.  Myers called this the shadow.  It is the part of us that has the least amount of conscious awareness (otherwise known as insight.)  This is the part of our temperament that we are not comfortable with.  Although it may strengthen with maturity, it can be the death of us if we don’t take it seriously.  We will always have it, true.  But with deliberate effort and with working no harder than what self-care has already proven to be (the kind of bleeding effort that makes us plead “Mercy!”) …then we can grow.

Then perhaps after performing the hardest work of our life, we may be fortunate enough to die from another reason in the end.  🙂  We also may be fortunate enough to have people in our lives who feel safe with us.  People who feel they can trust that we will treat the precious connection between “Me and Thee” responsibly by taking care of ourselves.

Questions:  How has your Achilles been influencing your life?  How have you helped yourself to stop avoiding “the obvious?”  Please tell me your story.

Hear, Be Heard, Believe and Speak In Your Language.

c. 1868

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #187 – Say it better by saying it in your voice.  Be a friend to yourself.

We all have our own language.  I’m not talking about Hungarian or Spanish.  I’m roughly talking about Jungian typology.  We speak and hear, we are heard and we find that we believe better with it.  But we don’t all know that and so don’t treat ourselves with enough courtesy.

For example, many of us used to think that listening to emotions was silly and that using graphs and quoting studies was smart.  (Who ever heard of smart emotions or even spiritual intelligence for that matter?!)  We used to hold our breath and hope our brains would change if we despised our own wiring enough.  As if our genes would get the hint, give up their mortgage and leave town, disgraced.

Hopefully after the paternity of the genes in question was established, and if we grew a little, we noticed that there is no better way to speak than what is our own voice.

Say it.

That was lovely.  Thank you.

We can listen to the beautiful music of Celine Dion French Album, or watch the foreign film Like Water for Chocolate (Spanish: Como agua para chocolate) without subtitles, or sing the African-American spiritual song from the 1930s, Kumbaya.  We will get a partial understanding of what is intended, what is said, what is felt.  We will know that someone is desperately in love with someone else, for example, in Como Agua Para Chocolate – but not get the full story of course unless we hear the words in the language we know.  Saying that one language is greater than another is hopefully buried with Hitler.  Our temperaments speak uniquely as well by design.  They are not qualified differently from each other.  True, they are better suited for different tasks, jobs, audiences.  But that doesn’t make one smarter or dumber than another.  Regardless of the bank account any one or many may hold, there is no difference in value between them.

If we want to say something, ….  Well all I can say is this just feels right?  You know what I mean?  😉

Question:  What has helped you discover your language best?  How has it helped you understand your connections better?  Please tell me your story.

Don’t Waste Your Time. Do Your Thing.

[en] teacher, profesor, educator, school pt pr...

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #101 – Don’t waste your time if you don’t have to on things you aren’t good at.

Ben is almost 16 years old.  His parents are happy because he’s not as depressed, more interactive and more interested in connecting with others.  They came with him to see me.  Ben gets easily overwhelmed trying to tell me about himself and his parents often interject to help him out.

Ben’s parents are parents to admire.  Patient and clear-sighted regarding values and presence.  I’ve caught my breath more than once in the company of their comfortable regard and affection for their disabled children.  (Ben’s sister also suffers from mental retardation.)

During clinic, Ben struggled to tell me he was bothered and stressed by the school staff pressing him to learn things he didn’t care about.  He lost his words over the bits about how it related to his self-esteem and looked at him mom.

Mom told me Ben doesn’t care about some of the topics he’s taught and he gets sad and anxious when he thinks about it.  He’s embarrassed by it because he doesn’t finish as quickly as others and misses some of his lunch time.

I’m not a high school educator but I still told Mom and Dad that they can feel more confident advocating for Ben’s interests and needs with his teachers.  Ben will excel more in areas he is interested in.  He will find more pleasure in them.  He will be more empowered emotionally.  He will  be more ready for his adulthood needs.

The pressure many of us grew up with to be good at everything, is bogus.  We shouldn’t.  What we should do, is be good at what we are talented at.  We should be good at what we are interested in.  In fact, be shameless about it.  I spoke about this in the post “Do What You Were Designed to Do,” amongst others if you want to read more.

Ben with his parents looked at me with something of relief.  They had “permission” to do what they wanted.  The rest is mostly a waste of time.

Question:  What has opened you up to doing what you want to do in life?  What has that done for you?  Please tell me your story.