November 10, 2011-Our Mental Selves & Fear

I’ve been feeling stressed lately.  For over 3 years now, I have had to deal with a family member who is convinced that I am not family & who has been very vocal & aggressive about it.  It has not been pretty.  It has been pretty nerve-wracking & worrisome because their perception of reality does not coincide with mine.  This situation has brought up a lot of fear in me that I’ve worked on pretty regularly for the last 3+ years through my prayer & emotional work.  It has caused me to question my version of events, my truth, my beliefs, my perceptions.  I have feared that I am creating negative consequences for myself & for others by my continuing to interact with & participate in this discord.  Like Job, I have feared that I must have done something wrong since this is happening to me.  I have feared that my version of events, my reality is wrong since someone else has such a different version.  At times, I have feared that I am crazy.  Believe me, there is nothing more crazy-making than having someone in your life who is convinced that what you think is reality is not real!  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more than one movie using this ploy in the script. 

While this is an unusual example, you can probably think of times you have been anxious, worried or fearful when, like my situation, it was not due to an animal attack.  I bring up animal attack because this is the classic example given when describing fear & the “fight or flight” stress response of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).  The ANS triggers the “fight or flight” stress response which readies the body to fight or flee from danger.  There aren’t too many animal attacks happening in the course of most people’s lives these days but we still seem to experience plenty of anxiety, worry, fear, stress & the resulting ANS activation.  Most of us are not daily fighting or fleeing for our lives but rather dealing with long term, low level stress due to intractable people & situations such as my own example above. 

Now you may be wondering why I am talking about fear & anxiety under the heading of “Our Mental Selves” rather than “Our Emotional Selves” so let me digress & explain where I’m coming from.  While fear is an emotion & therefore more a part of our emotional self, anxiety can be thought of as a mental emotion or state arising from our mental self as can despair, probably.  Generally, for the purpose of our discussion, consider that ideas, beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, words & some attitudes & emotions are a part of the mental self. 

Today, people are more likely to experience unrelenting, long term worry & anxiety versus temporary outright fear for their lives.  So, while the emotional self’s fear of impending doom can definitely trigger the “fight or flight” stress response of the ANS, so can the mental self’s experience of worry & anxiety.  Worry is an activity of the mind & the mental self that often triggers anxiety & fear & therefore the stress response.  What you may not realize is that worry & anxiety over something currently happening, something that has already happened or something that might happen in the future will all have the same effect.  While you may realize that what you’re worrying about isn’t actually happening right now, this minute, your body does not & will activate the ANS as though you are being chased down the street by danger.  This is what makes the long term, low level stress of the mental type especially destructive because there is no immediate resolution as there would be with a single, sudden, frightening event.  The mental type of stress & resulting ANS activation could literally last for years instead of seconds.  A lot has been made of the self-created stress of the “Type A” personality but I’m pretty certain that whether or not you are a “Type A” doesn’t matter nearly as much as the length of time you are stressed.  A typical “Type A” blows up & moves on – the mental equivalent of being chased down the street by danger.  As long as this isn’t happening on a daily basis, probably not beyond the ability of the body to recover.  But what about the family members of this person?  Not too many people can take the blow-ups of others & move on so they are left with stewing over the previous blow-ups & worrying about & dreading the next blow-up, walking on eggshells trying to prevent it.

So what is the solution?  Quit worrying!  The upsetting thoughts rattling around & movies playing over & over again in your mind/brain/mental self are completely unproductive & usually move you no closer to any sort of resolution.  Instead, surrender them to the Holy Spirit in prayer each & every time you find yourself back in the rut of fretting & worrying.  I have also in contemplation, gone before God with a basket or apron full of eggs & one by one handed them over naming the person, worry or upsetting situation that each represents, letting go & letting God.  I figure putting all of your eggs in one basket is a good thing if you are handing it over to God.  This technique works especially well at bedtime before falling asleep.  Another thing you can do is forgive each thought as it occurs.  Since your thoughts direct your energy (energy follows thought), by forgiving each & every thought you have that isn’t best, over time you create an energy of peace & quiet within yourself.  The negative thoughts die down & what you are left with is your divine self that God created you to be.  An amazing side effect of this is that you will have created the space within you in which the Holy Spirit can be present & communicate with you.   This is infinitely more satisfying than the out of control fear, worry & anxiety & the resulting stress & ill health that thinking negative thoughts & scenarios creates.  This is what will resolve the stressful problems in your life.  This is what will move you forward into a better life.

Live, Love & Laugh in the Light of God

Dawn :)


 


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September 1, 2011-Our Physical Selves in the 21st Century

In 2005, I began noticing that I didn’t feel right.  I remember explaining to my doctor in the summer of that year that something was going on because I didn’t seem to be handling stress well.  I couldn’t pinpoint it any better than that.  He made some suggestions that helped for awhile but by Thanksgiving I was sick.  And six months later, I was just as sick.   I couldn’t stand up to take a shower but sat on the shower floor.  For months, I couldn’t even drive a car.  I still remember the last time I drove before I fully realized this.  I was needed to drive a second car home & was following my husband.  It was terrifying how much obsessive focus & energy was required to follow him.  I was leaning forward with a death grip on the steering wheel struggling to keep my attention on what the car in front of me was doing.  So, from then on for months, others did all the driving.  It didn’t really matter, though, that I couldn’t drive anymore because it soon became apparent to me that I couldn’t be out in public by myself, anyway.  Especially shopping.  I could handle going on errands with my husband which I did just to get out of the house.  I could go into a store by myself, briefly, to pick up something while he waited in the car.  If, however, I actually tried to shop by myself in a store, I would walk out exhausted & empty handed in 30 minutes because I could no longer keep my focus, think or function.  I would then require days on the couch to recover.

The physical recovery from this ordeal has been long & difficult.  Six years later, I can now stand when I shower, clean my house, drive myself & work from home although I can only handle a limited number of client appointments a week.  My husband still does all the grocery shopping but I can run in for a few items without any trouble.  I can run errands by myself as long as I don’t go into more than 3 or 4 different places.  Longer shopping trips such as clothes shopping is still much easier if I’m not alone.   I can exercise as long as I’m careful to keep it easy & brief.  A day of over-doing, such as a full day away from home, no longer requires days on the couch afterwards to recover from but just maybe one day.  As you can see, I’m not exactly well yet.  Although on most days, you wouldn’t know it to look at me.  I’m no longer a yellow-gray color, my eyes no longer look empty.  Half the year, I lay out in the sun as often as possible for vitamin D so my skin has color & my new diet has resulted in about a 20 pound weight loss.

Why am I telling you about this?  Because you or a family member could be me in 6 months, a year, 5 years or longer.  I think of myself as the canary in the mine.  Canaries used to be taken into the mines to warn the miners to evacuate if the canary died from lethal, undetectable gases.  You could say that I have succumbed to the lethal gases of 20th & 21st century living.  What!?  Well, let me tell you.  My mother suffered with Pica when she was pregnant with me.  She craved dirt.  This is now known to be a classic symptom of severe mineral deficiency.  She was 5’8″ tall & 100 pounds & the doctor told her she could only gain 15 pounds during her pregnancy.  This was standard practice at the time.  She dutifully obeyed the doctor.  Luckily for me, I was born weighing 6 pounds with only minor birth defects.  Luckily for me also, I was one of the few babies in my generation to be breast fed by my mother.  Regrettably for me, I was fed table food from just a few weeks old which was also standard practice at the time.  Most infants since my generation have not been breast-fed.  The infant digestive tract is designed to handle breast milk & nothing else.  Then there was the onslaught of antibiotics every time I got sick followed by no probiotics to replace all the good bacteria destroyed along with the bad.  The Standard American diet at the time did not include any sources of probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, raw saurkraut, kombucha tea.  For good measure, there were plenty of other stresses:  Eye surgery, 2nd & 3rd degree burns requiring hospitalization, a couple of cross country moves,  my parents divorce, several more moves among & also away from family members, loss of my mother when I was 6, physical, emotional & sexual abuse, ear surgery, many infections & allergies, late term miscarriage of my first child at 6 months due to fetal distress (do you see the word ‘stress’ here?), cesarean section delivery of my second child, infertility, fertility treatments, many more moves around the world & country, exploratory abdominal surgery & the usual complement of deaths, births, marriages, divorces & job stresses.  I’m sure this is not a complete list but you get the idea.  Not exactly standard fare.

Now add to the above mix of stresses:   silver (mercury) amalgam fillings in nearly every molar, chemicals & petrochemicals in my food, water, body care products, home care products, clothes & furniture, days spent indoors in unnatural light, nearly continuous exposure to electro-magnetic field radiation & other sources of radiation, air pollution, sunscreen, nightlights, vegetarian diet, low fluid intake, prescription drugs, microwaved food, root canals, genetically engineered food, food irradiation, vitamin & mineral deficiencies due to poor quality food & intestinal damage, refined & hydrogenated oils, refined carbohydrates & sugars, high carbohydrate & low protein diet, petrochemicals-coal, gas & oil, nuclear energy, frequent emotional upset, inadequate sleep (which for me was anything less than 10 hours), deadlines, school.  All of these & more would be the lethal gases of the 20th & 21st century that I know I have been been exposed to.  Ways of living that have never been known or experienced by humanity until just the last few centuries.  So we are all canaries in the mine & it’s probably only a matter of time before you or someone you know succumbs.

I know this post sounds pretty doom & gloom but I think this is necessary sometimes to help people think about what they are doing & choosing.  I wish someone had pointed out to me over & over again until I woke up & became aware of what I was doing to myself.  Maybe I wouldn’t be sick now.  So, all subsequent posts of “Our Physical Selves” will be dealing with these gases of modern living that I have mentioned above plus lots others that I did not mention.  Meantime, think about what you are choosing!  Is it natural?  Is it found in the natural world or or is it man-made?  Is it a practice that is healthy & life affirming?  Is it something your ancient ancestors would have partaken of or done in the natural course of their lives?  If not, what can you do about it?  Many things listed above are within your power to change or do differently so think, question, experiment, read & relearn some of the old ways of your ancestors.

Live, Love & Laugh in the Light of God

Dawn :)                                             


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