Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ghost or Imaginary Friend?

ImageThe driveway to our house was a mile-long tunnel hand-cut by men long ago forgotten. During the day, sunshine danced through tree limbs like happy fairies eager to great us home. At night, the moon cast deep shadows that morphed into terrifying creatures rushing past the car. In the age before mandatory seat-belts and car seats, the floor of the ‘ 66 Chevy was the safest way to travel at night. I was five years old.

The first time I saw him, it was a balmy afternoon and I was wandering through the woods around my house. He was mowing a lawn I had never seen before.  An old man wearing baggy, grey pants held up with suspenders over an off-white tee shirt. His hair was thin, grey and very short.  His face was clean shaven. He pushed a single-blade lawn mower silently across the grass. I should have heard the sound of the mower wheels or at least some birds. I heard nothing. All I felt was an uncomfortable sensation in my body that tingled and the sudden dramatic cooling of the air near his location. There was something different about this man but I could not understand what.

Intrigued, I retuned many times over the summer to the same spot.  Sometimes, all I would find were mounds of rocks, shrubs and trees. Other times, he would be there silently mowing a lawn that was not there the day before.  Occasionally, I could hear the sounds of his world, distorted, as if coming down a long tunnel. On those days, a stone and clap-board, single-story house sat several hundred feet from my position.

 I wanted this man to be my friend. We didn’t have any neighbors for me to play with. I decided that the next visit when I could hear the rhythmic screeching of the mower wheels rolling through the grass I was going to approach him. I didn’t have to wait long for my opportunity.

I arrived at the spot I now knew well. I could see and hear him pushing the lawn mower across the same stretch of grass he always mowed. I moved toward him, pushing my way through a very uncomfortable thickness in the air. My skin stung from static electricity but I kept going. I was determined to learn his name.

I tumbled forward, feet landing in the grass. He turned, stopped the mower and looked at me puzzled, then smiled. My head started to pound. My eyes watered and it was hard to breath. I fell backward into the woods. The man and his world were gone.  

On the edge of my yard, before the woods enveloped my house, were a table and several multi-colored, metal, bouncy chairs. My swing-set, sand-box and the dog house were within throwing distance. I was riding my bike around the wrap-around porch waiting for my lunch when I saw him. He was sitting at the table in a bouncy chair. I rushed over and plopped down onto a bouncy chair beside him. The air was cold and tingly. I didn’t mind too much.

I invited him to have lunch with me. I told him all about my dog, who was howling and whining at us. He said nothing and stared straight ahead.

 My mom came out with lunch and asked who I was talking too. I pointed to my friend but he wasn’t there anymore. So I ate my lunch alone.

If I was outside playing around the table, I could feel when he arrived. I’d rush over and take my place in my bouncy chair. He never looked at or talked to me which was upsetting. I decided the next time he visited I was going to make him look at me.

It was lunch time. I was seated at the table with my peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. My arms started to tingle. I looked at the other bouncy chair, the one he always sat in. He was there. I got up, ran in front of his face and acted like a jumping bean so he could see me. For some reason I either knew I could not touch him or I had no desire too.

 It worked. He smiled and then faded away. I reached over and swished my hand around his seat thinking maybe he was still there and I couldn’t see him. I felt nothing.

Bummed, I left my lunch and wandered back into the house. My grandmother asked me what was wrong. I told her. She yelled for my mother, who came running.

“Tell your mother what you just told me,” Grandma said angrily.

I did. Just like I always did. I told them both about my friend, what he looked like, the lawn mower, the house and how he sometimes came to visit me for lunch.

My grandmother became very upset and called me a liar. She’d never done that before. She and my mother argued and I wanted to cry.  Mom kept saying I had something called an imaginary friend.

My grandmother turned to me and said, “That man you described can’t be there because he died years before you were born. That house was torn down. There is nothing back there but rubble! I don’t know how you learned about him, but I don’t think this is very funny!”

Desperate to prove I wasn’t lying, I took my mother through the woods to the man’s house. It wasn’t there. I tried to explain things but the more I talked the more upset she got.  

I was no longer allowed in the woods by myself. I never saw my friend again.

This should be the end of the story, but I have never forgotten this event. Long after the death of my grandmother and the deterioration of our old house, I returned with my mother and infant daughter. I wanted to find that yard, that house. I wanted, needed to verify that what I remembered all these years ago was real.

I couldn’t find anything but our house and the skeletal remains of my swing set and the dog-house.  Vagrants had taken over our once beloved home. The windows in the house were broken or gone.  Graffiti butchered the interior walls.  It was heart wrenching. My mother was spooked by the derelict nature of the house and the vibes she said she felt. We left.

 Years later I returned again. Only to my horror the entire area was now townhouses. I was able to find the remains of my swing-set and the dog-house deep in the woods behind the houses.  I brought home a piece of rusted metal from the swing and a stone from our house foundation.

In my forties, I was still haunted by my experience. Although, I will never be able to truly prove what I experienced, I still needed to find some kind of information for my sanity. I needed a name for my friend from so long ago.

I searched property records to see what I could find. There it was. According to the historic records our house and the house of my friend were built in the 1870’s by a man named S. Disney (I know his full name but am keeping it and the location quiet).  On a map, his house was located where I remembered seeing it in my youth. I searched in vain for a picture of him. Oh well.

Was I somehow able to reach and befriend a deceased S. Disney or did I simply have a very unusual imaginary friend?  You can decide what you wish but remember sometimes life is odder then fiction.

Fishing for the Right Life Partner

ImageSetting out to find a life partner is like fishing. Fishermen have to know what kind of fish they are fishing for and where that type of fish is likely to be found. If they are after tuna, hopefully, you wouldn’t see them fishing in a river.  They have to know what kind of bait to use to entice the fish. They have to know their own abilities and have good skills in fishing. Knowing all this, they go to their favorite fishing place and throw in their line and wait. If they are lucky a fish shows interest. Skill is in the length of time and reel play needed to keep the fish interested and not bored. Hopefully, the fisherman gets his fish.

Okay, dating is not quite like fishing. There are some differences but the basics are the same. The person looking needs to know the type of person that holds their interest. Next, they have to know where to best find that type of person. The fisher of a life partner has to assess if they have the correct personal characteristics to attract this type of person.  They have to be confident that what they have to legitimately offer and be sincere in offering.  This is where the analogy stops.

People are not fish and the idea of baiting someone sounds horrid. However, I find using this fishing analogy works well in getting people to realize some of the behaviors they chose to find a mate are as wacky as fishing for tuna in a river. Two reasons for dating disasters and the destruction of the beginning relationships are: One or both people have minimal ideas on what they really want in a relationship. One or both people don’t know what their needs are and the ways they have learned to get those needs met.  One or both parties do not realize that everyone in the world processes and sees the world somewhat differently. When you add the hormonal component involved with sexual attraction and the chemical reaction we call falling in love, is it any wonder new relationships have a high turn-over rate?

To be a fisherman in good form and help prevent fishing disasters, it is best for the fisherman to know his/herself before those hormones kick in.  I’m going to review some ideas then look at an example.

Review: All choices in life revolve around the same basic questions and concerns. What is it I really want and need? What am I doing to get it?Is it working? If not, reassess what you are doing?

 Our choices must also include two very important pieces of information: ALL BEHAVIOR IS PURPOSEFUL (Everything you think, feel and do is for a purpose – always). THE ONLY PERSON YOU CAN CHANGE IS YOU.

All our behaviors are based on our needs. Everyone has the same needs, only in different degrees.  Universal needs are: Love and belonging (feeling connected to a bigger whole),                                             Power, Freedom, Fun, Survival,  Purpose in life (spiritual).

  How we get these needs met depends on several factors:  Our total knowledge (learning and experience), Our values. Our perceptions (how we choose to see the world around us).

OUR EXAMPLE:

Let’s look at Joe (not a real person) for an example of this in action.

Joe has a high NEED for LOVE and a low need for POWER. His goal (WANT) is to find someone to marry who will love him unconditionally the way he wants to love them.

Joe’s TOTAL KNOWLEDGE comes from:

His divorced parents:

Mom said. “Your father never loved me. I know this because he never helped me with the chores.”

Joe heard: to show a woman you love them, help with the chores.

Dad said. “We loved one another but she let herself go and well I have needs.  Your mom turned out to be a total dog. Son, marry a younger beautiful woman and you will always be content.”

Joe heard:  Stay in shape, dress sharp and marry a younger, beautiful woman to keep love alive.

Joe has read all about love and relationships in books and magazines and has learned:

Love takes a lot of work

There are stages of love in a relationship

Couples who make it, communicate well and have date nights

Money is the number one reason couples split up

 

Joe loves to listen to country music, watch TV and go to the movies. He has learned:

Relationships break up all the time

No matter what men do in a relationship, it’s usually wrong

Men have a very hard time staying with one woman

If you work hard enough you can get someone to fall in love with you

If someone steals your girl, you can work hard and win her back

Women want a tender man who is good in bed, has a good job, makes good money, is handsome, maybe a bit quirky and can take care of them

Romance and love hit fast and hard. Go with it.

 

Joe has friends. All of them are divorced and some remarried. He hears them say things like:

She left me for her tennis instructor.

My secretary is better in the sack.

She just doesn’t get me.

We grew apart.

She was a nagging bitch anyway.

 Joe hears:

Stay in shape or you’ll lose her to some athletic guy.

Don’t look at other women, it’s too tempting.

Keep an open communication so you don’t grow apart.

Remember there are stages of love, stick with it.

There are reasons people complain. Find out and correct problems if needed.

Now Joe is ready to find the girl of his dreams.  He is at an art gallery opening and spots the young and beautiful Sally.  He knows she is the one and there is no turning back. He can feel it. The fact he does not know her is of no consequence. He had everything he needs to make this work. So he thinks.

                                                                            PROBLEM

 Joe has not looked at the most important piece of information needed to make this relationship work. Sally has her own TOTAL KNOWLEDGE independent of Joe!  Because Joe decided, based on his knowledge, values and perceptions that they were destined to be together, he inadvertently placed his heart on the line.  He fell romantically in love and it ended up looking like this.

 Joe: Tries to be attentive.  Sally: Thinks he is smothering.

Joe: Brings her flowers and writes her romantic poetry. Sally: Thinks flowers are a waste of money and only for funerals or for saying I’m sorry. She hates poetry.

 Joe: Wants to spend intimate evenings at home watching TV together. Sally: Wants to belong to various up and coming professional and social groups. These keep her out of the house most nights.

Joe: Reminds her of his good, high paying job and income. But he doesn’t stop there. He also reminds her that he is there to take care of her.  Hinting she can stay home and take care of the kids when they come along.

Sally: Thinks he is a male chauvinist.  There is no way in hell she would consider staying home. She is one of the up and coming, not trying to gain a homemaker of the year award.

Who is in the wrong? Neither! Joe has a strong need for love and a low power need. Sally has a low need for love and a strong need for power.  The relationship fails and Joe is devastated. He has no clue why it did not work.

Because of Joe’s total knowledge and values, he chose to only see the things in his world that agreed with them. Those were his perceptions. It all went together and it never occurred to him Sally saw things differently.  Joe had TUNNEL VISION.

Joe’s tunnel vision prevented him from seeing Kelly at the gallery the night he fell in love with Sally.  Kelly had introduced herself to Joe but he hadn’t really seen her after seeing Sally. She was not as stunning in his eyes.

Kelly was looking for someone just like Joe to fall in love and get married.  She would have been thrilled with poetry, romance, nights home together and a long committed relationship with family. 

 Joe missed it! This was probably not the first or the last time Joe’s tunnel vision would blind him to getting his needs and wants met.

                                               FISHING LESSON FOR THE DAY

 

Know your needs and wants (the real ones, not the superficial ones).

Have a handle on how you are thinking, feeling, behaving and how you are screening your reality to get   those needs and wants met.

When you met someone REMEMBER – they have their own needs and wants. They have their own ways of thinking, feeling, behaving and screening their reality.

Slow down and reassess yourself and the situation often. If needed, make changes in your thinking, feeling or behaving.

** Now I know someone is going to ask, why would Sally continue to go out with Joe?

 Let’s look at Sally a little closer.

 Sally has a strong power need. Her goal (want) is to find a man with enough money, connections and good looks to wine/dine and help elevate her and her career. She wants to live the way her parents did without the commitment to marriage.

Sally’s parents are married. 

Mom says. “Your father and I love one another, I suppose. But he’s a lawyer. I’ve got the country club. Marry someone rich, someone who will get you into the upper crust of society.”
Sally heard: Men are your ticket to the rich and powerful of society. Love is not important, prestige is.

Dad says. “I’m a powerful attorney. I don’t have time for trivialities of marriage. I got married because it is what I was supposed to. It looks good for politics and moving ahead in life.”
Sally heard: Marriage if anything is for convenience and if you don’t have to, don’t do it.

 Sally does not like to read books on relationships. Occasionally she reads magazines on high fashion and celebrities.  She has learned:

The more men you have experience with the better

Men are a great spring board for a woman to succeed

Men can be thrown away when a better opportunity arises

Men’s feelings are not as deep or important as a woman’s

Women have been oppressed too long. It’s your turn, baby.

Sally does not watch TV. She listens to Indie and World music but never notices any relationship issues implied in them. If she goes to a movie, it is only to see an Indie film specific about world concerns and oppressed people getting ahead.  She has learned:

You have to be tough in this world

You are truly on your own

Make sacrifices to better yourself

Think global not home based

 

Sally’s friends have never married nor do they want to. They have all gone through many men all propelling them further in their own pursuits.  They all think their moms were naive and or dumb.

Sally hears:

Don’t get married

Date only men with money who can help propel your career

It’s all for me to help me so I can help the world

I’m not going to be a pasty fool like my mom.

Sally meets Joe. His money and continuous attempts to convince her of his great and powerful job tell her he meets her criteria. She can use this even if the rest of him is old fashioned and a bit of a bore. Only his old fashioned ways and smothering behaviors make him too much of a liability for her needs and wants. She dumps him for Kevin who has more of a power need similar to her own.

Sometimes the Joe’s do find the Kelly’s in the world and there are still problems that arise.  Why would this happen?

Remember Joe gives flowers and poetry to show love? It could be as easy as Kelly was raised that a man shows love by doing more family events and activities with kids and extended family. Only she never told him.  Joe thinks he is doing everything right to show his love.  In Kelly’s mind, she loves the flowers and poetry. But they are not demonstrating the deep love she needs from him. Kelly needs for Joe to volunteer to do things with the family.

If both of them know what their needs and wants are AND WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE (What behaviors a person would see as testimony of meeting that need or desire. i.e. flowers mean I love you vs. time spent with family means I love you). The next step is to TALK about it. Neither of these people is more right or wrong, only different!

Once they each have more information they can chose to change their behaviors or keep things the way they are accepting the possible unhappy or disastrous results.

So, if you are having relationship issues or are fishing for that special someone –

                                               GIVE YOURSELF A GIFT

Know your real true wants and needs

Know what they look like in action

Remember everyone is different

Give yourself time to explore and grow

Get more information if things are not making sense or you feel out of balance

Self evaluate often

Communicate always

Remember you can only change you. You are ultimately responsible for you, your feelings, thinking and behaviors. Happy fishing!

 

The Healthy Relationship Part 4: What do I Really Want and How do I Get it?

13

I’ve been breaking down basic rules for healthy relationships. In Part 3 we looked at identifying our NEEDS. Now we need to explore our WANTS.

 Ask someone what they want and often they can give you a very quick definitive answer.  But is that answer REALLY what they want?

I can say, “I want chocolate chip cookies.”  This sounds simple enough; however, it really isn’t. In this particular case, I’m watching television and I’m anxious about a meeting I’m having in the morning. I’m not hungry or deprived of sweets but chocolate chip cookies are what hits me that I want.

Knowing what I know about myself and human behavior, I know chocolate chip cookies are not really what I want. I don’t want the calories or the mess of making them. I’m not hungry. So, I start to dissect this WANT. Broken down, it looked like this:

  • I want chocolate chip cookies, more specifically
  • I want chocolate, more specifically
  • I want to stop feeling anxious, more specifically
  • I want to not go to this meeting tomorrow, more specifically
  • I want to feel I have more control over the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting, more specifically
  • I want to feel more confident in my ability to handle the unknown of tomorrow’s meeting

 Why is this important to me? Because I see myself as self-reliant, intelligent and due to my past, I have a strong need to feel in control.  When I get into situations where I can’t be or do these, I get anxious and feel out of balance. I need to do something to feel back into balance.

As I’m watching TV, my brain jumps to the old stand-by, carbohydrates! They are the building blocks of changing the body chemistry for a short period of time. Will chocolate chip cookies help me feel self-reliant, intelligent and in control? NO! They will only make me feel fatter and give me more dishes to clean.  Making and eating chocolate chip cookies is a horrible plan to get my needs and wants met. It’s time to plan another strategy. Instead of cooking and eating chocolate chip cookies, I can take that energy and plan a healthier way to prepare for this meeting.

 When you know your real wants, you can better evaluate what behaviors you are choosing to accomplish your want.  So, step one is to EXPLORE what your REAL WANT is. Step two is to EVALUATE if the behaviors you are choosing will get you closer to that goal. Step three, if the answer to step two is no, INVESTIGATE other options. Get more information. Think about in the past, what you might have done that did work in a similar situation. Step four, make a PLAN and follow through.

In my case, I had to address the demons in my thinking. I had to explore the negative images and thoughts I was allowing to run amok in my brain. My poor body was only reacting to my thoughts. The result was anxiety and the desire to feel better through food.  I also had to relax, journal and start saying a positive mantra.

Patterns of behavior do not change overnight, but you have to start somewhere. I was still anxious, but much more in control of me, feeling more self-reliant because I took the steps and therefore feeling more intelligent and back in balance.

If your behavior (thinking, feeling or acting) does not get a need met or a want achieved, a re-evaluation is in order. More than likely, what you think you want is only the surface-want or you are using the wrong behaviors to get you there.  Dig a little deeper and do the steps.

The Healthy Relationship: Part 3, What Are Your Needs?

ImageBuilding on Parts 1 and 2 of Healthier Relationships …

  1. ALL BEHAVIOR (Everything you think, feel and do) IS PURPOSEFUL AND PARTIALLY BASED ON YOUR NEEDS
  2. THE ONLY PERSON YOU CAN CHANGE IS YOU
  3. WE ALL HAVE THE SAME NEEDS IN DIFFERENT DEGREES

 This being the case, if we want to improve the quality of our lives we need to start by asking ourselves about our own needs.

 NEEDS: Everyone has the same needs, only in different degrees.

 Universal needs can be lumped in the following categories:

Love and belonging

Power

Freedom

Fun

Survival

Purpose in life (spiritual)

 Below are examples of behaviors you might see in someone with a high degree in a need area.  (These are just examples and not meant to be a scientific endeavor) See if you can find yourself. Beside each behavior place a number based on if it fits you. At the end of each section, count up the points and see in what order your universal needs stack up.  (These are ONLY SOME examples of typical behaviors)

 You might want to get other people who have a close relationship with you to do the same quiz and compare the results. It may help explain why you gravitated toward them or why there are conflicts between the two of you. This is also an excellent exercise in looking at children (parent to observe these behaviors in their child and not have the child take the quiz). It is much easier to parent a child if you understand what needs the child’s behavior is trying to meet.

 Scoring:

1 = Not me at all

2 = Maybe relates to me but very rarely

3 = Relates to me but only under certain circumstances

4 = I do this more often than not

5 = This is me, no question

 

LOVE AND BELONGING

 

Enjoys social activities

 

Cooperative with others

 

Likes to belong to clubs, groups, community events

 

Seeks out friendships

 

Family is very important

 

Craves intimacy

 

Self esteem derived from what others think of them

 

Feel lonely and/or depressed if not involved in a greater cause or group

 

Strives to please others

 

Puts others needs before their own

 

Has many friends

 

Teacher’s/boss’s pet

 

Tends to be affectionate

 

More likely to be a follower then leader

 

Strives to find others needs and to fill them

 

High need to be liked by others

 

Hard time saying NO

 

Purpose in life is in ability to help others

 

 

POWER

 

High achiever

 

Competitive

 

Desires recognition for achievements/ skills

 

Strong will for self-worth

 

Needs to win at games

 

Needs to feel correct

 

Pride in completing challenging goals

 

Enjoys being highly skilled

 

Need to dominate situations/and or people

 

Over achiever

 

Involvement in political/social activist activities

 

Aggression

 

Involvement in behaviors that make the person feel stronger/invincible (excessive drinking, fighting, risk taking behaviors)

 

 

 

Wants to be influential

 

Need to be affiliated with other people at the top of their game

 

Desires to gain higher education to feel better about self

 

Sexually aggressive

 

Gives up family/friends to climb their career ladder

 

Has a hard time being told they are wrong

 

Prefers independent sports as opposed to team sports

 

 

FREEDOM

 

Desire to make their own choices

 

Does not want responsibilities  to tie them down

 

Does not like to listen to people in authority

 

Strives to be their true selves regardless of consequence

 

Does not want to make commitments

 

Does not give in to peer pressure

 

Independent

 

Likes to choose their own path

 

Likes to be seen as outside the box

 

Likes to keep their opinions open and not make decisions

 

Craves spontaneity

 

Enjoy independent thinking and creativity

 

Not satisfied with other’s answers, needs to find things out on their own

 

Restrictions make them restless

 

Likes to be self-sufficient

 

Bores easy with daily routines

 

Relates to other’s needs for freedom

 

Creative expressionism

 

Does not do well maintaining or seeing need for planning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUN

 

Likes to throw parties

 

Craves the energy of new/adventurous things

 

Likes to be around other people with common interests

 

Can be indiscriminate

 

 

Pleasure centered

 

Easily bored with daily routines

 

Does not take self/life too seriously

 

Enjoys playing but does not need to be competitive

 

Humorous

 

Willing to break tradition for fun, excitement, joy

 

 

Searches for humorous things/people/events

 

Can bore easily in long term relationships

 

Likes to travel to learn and experience new things

 

Creative for pleasure and not for completion of a project

 

Craves originality

 

Does not like confrontation

 

Enjoys learning in nontraditional ways

 

Can be seen as always on the go

 

Enjoyment of life is seen as most important

 

 

 

SURVIVAL

 

Fears for the future

 

Stores or hordes food/water/survival tools

 

Low trust of others/government

 

Fears losing their freedoms

 

Needs to feel prepared for anything

 

Typically very tense

 

Fears the unknown

 

Very observant

 

Instinctive

 

Self efficient

 

Can become impulsive, aggressive is threat of survival is challenged

 

Can be considered primitive in thinking/living (so busy concern about surviving all else is put to the side)

 

Strong ego, pits self against others

 

Can be seen as greedy

 

Needs things to be predictable to feel safe

 

Sees threats where others do not

 

Often intolerant of differences in other people or ways of living

 

Can have conspiracy based thinking

 

Feels insecure/anxious inside

 

 

PURPOSE DRIVEN (SPIRITUALITY)

 

Desires to be closer in relationship with higher being/power/element

 

Explores self/meaning of life

 

Needs purpose in life to feel whole

 

Can become judgmental and self-righteous

 

Can be religious/external doctrine focused

 

Can fears doing the wrong thing or for the wrong reason

 

Can  be existential and altruistic

 

May break from tradition to explore other cultural spiritual practices

 

Maybe willing to give up much to gain spiritual wisdom

 

May have complex rituals of behavior to feel closer to a higher power or their true being

 

 

May seek out paranormal experiences or classify experiences as miracles, demonic or other worldly

 

May refuse to conform to society norm of religious or doctrine related thoughts, dictates

 

Can be more tolerant of differences in people and cultures then average person

 

May have experienced one or more profound mystical, paranormal or other worldly event

 

May seek out others who share similar experiences or views of life and/or  a higher power

 

May seek and find spiritual values/meaning in life based on nature/science

 

May engage in experimental/chemical/risk taking behaviors to find a feelings of nirvana or out of body experience  

 

Attempts to fill voids in life/past through higher thoughts/learning/spiritual education/practice

 

May extend need for meaning of  one’s life to reason and causation for universe and life in general

 

 Total scores:

 Love and Belonging: _________

 Power: _________

 Freedom: __________

 Fun: ___________

 Survival: ____________

 Purpose of Life (Spirituality): __________

 ** Information based on the work of Dr. William Glasser

THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CODE BACON ALERT!

ImageWhat is it about bacon that drives normal people batty? T-bone steaks, chocolate cake, homemade ice cream – none of it has the same effect on people as bacon.

My entire family could be home (all seven of us) doing whatever, where ever in the house. I’ll yell or group text, “Dinner is ready!” or in this case “Breakfast is ready!” Maybe, slowly, people will emerge. Unless, whatever I’ve made contains bacon. 

The minute I put a piece of bacon on the griddle, the entire clan including the dog are ready and waiting. Because of this, I’ve decided I’m going to keep bacon in the freezer, off limits for consumption, So, in case of national emergency where I need to gather the troops, instead of turning on our very loud alarm system, yelling or texting, “We’re all going to die unless you run like hell!” I’m going to put that reserved piece of bacon on the griddle. It’s a guarantee  my entire family will head the call. 

Bacon, it’s not just for breakfast.

Life’s Little Instruction Manual Part 2 of THE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP

ImageToday, I continue with the topic of keeping and maintaining a healthy relationship with others and yourself.  Yesterday, I briefly explored the concept of: People can only act and react (thinking, feeling, and doing) based on what they know.

The next important piece of information is this:

 2. Every action/reaction a person has (thoughts, feelings, actions and physiology) is based on what they believe is in their best interest at the time of the event provoking the action/reaction.   

 This is a slightly more complicated concept to digest for some situations. Especially if the actions/reactions you see in yourself or someone else SEEM to be directly opposite of what is in their best interest. Some serious situations that come to mind are people living in abusive situations, joining gangs, engaging in risky behaviors, getting involved in drugs and alcohol.  Other, perhaps less serious behaviors might be procrastination, letting strong emotions like anger interfere with life, not caring for one’s health and well being.

 We ALL do, think, and feel things that are not in our best interest from time to time. There is no way to avoid this unless you are omnipotent. If you think you are omnipotent then you need the services of your local mental health provider. 

 So, go ahead and ask me, Debbie, why in the world would we continue to do behaviors (thoughts, feelings, actions and physiology) that end up not being in our best interest? Aren’t we trying to do what IS in our best interest?  Good questions, glad you asked me.

 Our brains are amazing machines. But like computers, they can only function as well as the information contained within them. And like the computer, someone has to enter the information into the brain to make it work. 

Who is the computer programmer of your brain?

  To start, you were born with reflexes and certain pieces of information to help you act and search out what you need to survive. Then your parents, home life, community, school, friends, lovers, and anything and anyone you have encountered in your life added to that programming.

 The younger you are when you get information the more it was incorporated into the hard drive of your brain. As you aged, you developed your own screens or filters to decide what information in the world is more important than other ones.  These filters were developed based on your personality and the information you gained when you were little. So, if as a little one you did not have affectionate parents, your filters would reflect this.

 Let’s say Joe’s personality is one of a sensitive, affectionate person raised in the above household. His filter would search out people and situations where he could get these needs met outside the family. Depending on how high his need for affection, he could end doing some very risky behaviors to get his need for affection met.

 Now, let say Joe is in middle school and he meets a person who engages in behaviors he normally would get involved with. However, this person does things that Joe’s brain tells him, this is a way to get my needs met. It’s not the best situation, but somehow it will work out.  Maybe, this person of Joe’s interest is a much older student or a teacher with very poor boundaries.  Joe gets involved with this person because he thinks it is in his best interest at the time.   This is a very simplified example.

 Our filters are like little radars always searching and assessing the environment to get our needs met.  Searching sale papers and clipping coupons for the best sale on ground beef, the outfit that will get us a job, the right words to get someone to do what we want, choosing to eat a Big Mac instead of broccoli, rehearsing or practicing to all hours of the night.  All these are examples of behaviors we do based on our needs and the information we have screened through our filters.  Got it?

 Today, take a moment and ask yourself, why you choose to do or not do something.  For example:

 Open the door for someone else?

Yell at your spouse?

Eat a bowl of ice cream instead of a nutritious breakfast?

Read this blog?

Choose to leave for work the time you did?

Stay late at work?

Have a headache?

Became exhausted?

Engage in any sexual behavior?

Watch a particular TV show?

Drink five cups of coffee and an energy drink?

Take a shower?

 Some of these sound trivial, but they are not. They are all examples of behaviors we choose based on what we feel is in our best interest at the time. 

 Challenge Question!

  Did you give reasons like, I just wanted to, so and so did such and such and that is what I did this, they deserved it, I have to?

 None of these are the real reasons you did any of those behaviors. Look again. Keep looking till you get to the real reason you acted, thought, felt what you did. If for some reason you are not able to get to a deeper reason, don’t panic. This is happening either because your programming has not learned how to get this information or it is being blocked. Either way, it is your programming telling you this is in your best interest right now.  

 

Life’s Little Instruction Manual Part 1: THE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP

ImageWouldn’t it be nice if people came with instruction manuals? For that matter, it would be nice if we came with our own instruction manual!  If you had a manual do you think you could have a more positive relationship with yourself and those around you?  You might be surprised to learn you don’t need a lengthy manual, only a couple index cards of information.

 Its basic information that unfortunately most people are not taught. Consequently, most of humanity wanders around with blinders preventing them from experiencing a more fulfilling life.  The end result is attempting several ways of doing things with often minimal positive end. For example, the person who when angry gives the silent treatment to the person they feel responsible for their anger. This solves nothing, gains nothing and puts a chip in the relationship.  With each chip, the relationship becomes more dysfunctional. Despite seeing this happen, the angry person continues to give the silent treatment and is surprised when the relationship sours.  Why would a person do this? Because they don’t have those index cards I talked about.

 So, here is your first card:

 

  • 1.      People can only act and react (thinking, feeling, and doing) based on what they know.

Sounds simplistic but it must not be.  Every day we expect others to act and react the way we do or we want them to based on the information we have.  

 Examples:

   Expectation Comment: “If you loved me, you would have brought me chocolate donuts with sprinkles.”

     Reaction Comment: “I brought you flowers. I thought that meant I loved you. How was I to know chocolate donuts with sprinkles meant love?”

 Expectation Comment:  “You should know better than to leave the house with the oven in clean mode. Everyone knows it can cause a fire!”

 Reaction Comment: “I didn’t know the oven could catch fire in clean mode! I’ve never cleaned the oven before, how would I know that?”

 Expectation Comment: “Can’t you do anything right? Do I have to do everything around here? Can’t you even put the dishes in the dishwasher correctly?”

 Reaction Comment: “Is there a correct way to put the dishes in the dishwasher? Fine, you can do it. I was just trying to help. See if I do that again.”

 Do you want to be shocked and amazed? Spend one day really paying attention to the number of times you expect a person to act and react to information you have and assume they should too. While you are at it, spend another day paying attention to how you act and react when someone hits you with the same assumptions. 

Disney World vs South of the Border

Image

Disney World vs South of the Border

     We decide to take the family on a trip to Disney World. This is the five-year-old and seven-year-olds first time. It is approximately an 18 hour drive. We leave the house at about 5:30 am. No problems.

     The seven-year-old is learning about states in school. So, as we pass each state we call out its name and everyone yells or claps. That’s one state down and so many more to go.

Passing our third state the five-year-old says, “I’m tired of all these little states. Just tell me when we get to the state of Japan!” No problem.

     The day goes extremely well and the kids nap while watching Cinderella for the thousand’s time. Before we know it, the big, gaudy South of the Border sign is on the horizon. SOB is a tourist trap/rest area that has been in existence since the 1950’s. It is covered in bright, multi-colored lights, brightly painted buildings and life-size, cement, animal statues also painted bright colors. It is located on the North/South Carolina border and is almost a mandatory stop as we travel to Florida and back.  We pull into one of their parking lots.

     “Everybody up!” I call out to the family. “Time to stretch.”

     The five-year-old jumps up, looks outside the van window and yells. “We made it. Oh my Gosh, we’re really at Disney World! I can’t believe it!”

     Hubby, without missing a beat says, “Yes, we made it to Disney World! I think I just saw a princess go around the corner!”  I give him a dirty look.  He lowers his voice and says. “Just think about all the money and time we can save if they think this is Disney.” He‘s smiling, I’m not.

     The seven-year-old jumps in front of five-year-old who is now outside the van and twirling in delight. 

“This is not DISNEY!” The seven-year-old yells. Her voice gets louder at the end of each sentence.  “Do you see any CASTLES? Do you see any PRINCESSES? Do you see MICKEY MOUSE?”

     The five-year-old stops twirling and looks dejected. “Rats. I thought this was Disney.”  She crosses her arms over her chest and adds. “Well, at least tell me we’re as far as Japan.”

     Hubby and I just look at one another.  I say. “Well, I suppose we could take her to Epcot. They have a Japan.”

     “No, no,” he says. “All we need to do is tell her the Georgia Welcome Center is the entrance to Japan. She’ll never know the difference.”

      It’s going to be a long trip.