Hidden Barriers to Happiness Blog
Have you always wondered about the invisible forces that affect your health, wealth and happiness?
As a neuroscientist, and then neuro and nutritional epidemiologist, I researched the underlying causes of mental and health problems. Now as a Holistic Healer for a Happy & Healthy Brain, I regularly make new discoveries while working with clients.
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What are you waiting for? Knowledge is power!
You’ve seen it before. A man makes a comment that can be interpreted as insensitive or abusive depending on the listener, and every so often you hear a woman that rails into him, to just let him know how inappropriate he was. Seeing this is often shocking to those of us who are used to quietly taking it, wondering what we’ve done to justify his abuse.
Our responses to abuse can vary tremendously depending many factors.
A healthy response is one where we have a clear sense of when we, or others are being inappropriate. We know what we are willing to tolerate, and we don’t allow others to treat us badly. We can assert our right to be treated well without being abusive to those we feel are mistreating us.
An unhealthy response can take many forms.
Maybe we walk away and take it personally, and start to wonder if the abuser’s accusation are true.
Maybe we don’t anything to the abuser, and start asking ourselves, our friends or even God whether we had brought this abuse upon ourselves.
Maybe we lash out and become just as abusive towards the abuser.
Maybe we hold on to the belief that the abuser deliberately meant to hurt us, when the truth is far more complicated.
Maybe we refuse to see our role in the abuse.
With some people and some situations, we might respond well, whereas with others we may lose our cool.
So what are the factors that determine how we respond?
I grew up in a home where I was regularly yelled at for doing things like leaving lights on, for eating too much, or wanting too much. I was told that it was my job not to make my father angry, and so I felt like I was constantly stressed, and feeling like I was walking on egg-shells around the house. I was taught that we had to respect and obey our elders, and the idea of standing up for myself was completely foreign to me. Since I didn’t believe I would be able to avoid his anger, I tried to not have feelings and needs. This set me up for a lifelong pattern of isolating when I was unhappy, and trying to deal with it on my own.
The problem with this model, is (more…)
Do you know anyone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease?
Do you know anyone that has either in the family?
You’ve probably heard that there is no cure. But as a Neuroscientist, Epidemiologist and Holistic Brain Health Practitioner, I am more optimistic about prospects for recovery than most Western Medical Doctors. Why?
I’ve presented this information to several audiences, and was asked to make a video so that it can share with their loved ones. If you know anyone who has a family member with Alzheimer’s, you will want to see this and share it with them! Just watch the video below:
Lois was starting to forget things. First it began with forgetting names or words in the middle of a conversation. She quickly dismissed it as a sign of old age, and decided that it wasn’t anything to worry about. But she started to get more embarrassed about her occasional memory lapses, and felt less and less inclined to leave her home for social activities.
She had been cooking for her husband John for years, but, her meals were becoming more bland. Sometimes she forgot vegetables, other times, she forgot the meat.
John noticed things weren’t normal, but he told himself, that these were occasional mistakes, and that it they weren’t a big deal. Things were changing slowly. Lois had good days and days where she’d forget things or lose things. But neither of them were ready to face the idea that there could be something much more serious that needed to be addressed!
Then one day Lois went to the grocery store and didn’t come back for hours. (more…)
Years ago, I had a housemate that I could never seem to please. While I harbored no ill will towards him, he seemed to be offended at everything I said or did, regardless of my intention behind it. If I tried to apologize or explain my intentions, he wouldn’t hear them. I started to feel like everything I did, regardless of my intent would be taken as being rude or inconsiderate, and I felt like I was walking on eggshells. It was exhausting!
In a calmer moment between us, I tried to explain to him that he (like everyone) has a filter, which paints our perspective about how we see the world. If there is someone that he has negative associations with in his past that I subconsciously remind him of, then he sees me through that filter. I believed he had an opinion of me that he was subconsciously trying to hold on to, because he wasn’t willing to hear that my intentions were not what he perceived them to be.
This filter we have can make or break relationships.
You know what I am talking about. You’ve met people that you feel like you have to walk on eggshells with. You know people that get easily angered or triggered regardless of your intentions, right? On the other hand, you probably also know people who you can laugh and joke around with, and even tease, and they seem to be fine with laughing at their own expense.
Often times this filter changes regularly in the same relationships as well, and it all depends on our mood and the context.
We often forget this about this filter, but because it is SO powerful at shaping our story, it is important that we fully appreciate its impact. Below is a true story about how it even shapes how we view an image!
As I child I was told early on that I asked too many questions and had too many needs. My father was constantly angry, and he told me it was my responsibility to not make him so. So my response was to belittle my needs, and try to be less demanding.
Recently, I found myself in a similar pattern in a project I was working on, where I felt like I was walking on eggshells to fulfill the needs of someone else. I dismissed my own needs in favor of theirs and began getting resentful.
Yet I am a firm believer that we need to stand up for our rights and what we believe in, and that if we stay silent, we will lose our voice and our power.
I realized that I am caught in this conflict of not knowing, when is it OK to speak up, and when is it better to shut up?
I’ve recently noticed the pattern that people with healthier relationships do speak up. They feel more entitled to being treated well than I do, and there is even research to support this.
I was in the midst of pondering this conundrum, when I showed up for my yoga class. The teacher talked about setting an intention for our practice, but said that to face our current times, we need something deeper, something more long lasting, we need to concept of the sankalpa.
What is the sankalpa?
For most of my life, I hated myself. I could write volumes of books about what was wrong with me. The worse thing about this was that I felt hopeless to change so many of the things I hated about myself. Transformation felt slow, arduous and even impossible!
Now when I discover something I want to change about myself, for many things, I know how to get shifts in only a few hours!
For example, a few months ago, I was experiencing a slump in my business, despite increased speaking engagements and more exposure. I couldn’t figure out why, until I realized that my stress around the business slow down was effecting how I showed up with potential clients. Once I realized this, I was able to quickly let go of that stress, and better and engage and connect with potential clients.
So what did I do?
As 2017 approaches, are you thinking about your annual New Year’s Resolutions?
Most people think of New Year’s Resolutions to start dieting or exercising, but there are plenty of other options as well. A friend of mine who had not been very good at staying at touch, recently apologized and told me that his New Year’s resolution was to be a better friend. I was deeply touched. So in honor of his creative New Year’s resolution, I present his, and a few more ideas that that you may not have considered.
America has grown increasingly divided, especially over the course of this last election, and I worry in today’s political climate, it could get worse before it gets better.
The increasing divisiveness has made me want to only spend time with people I agree with. But I’ve realized that my tendency to stay one sided only reinforces my own way of thinking, and does not help us bridge the widening gaps between us. Americans now more than ever need to find ways to bridge the divide. We need to be able to sit down and respectfully talk to people we don’t agree with, and find common ground. It is the only way we will be able to make the changes we need to benefit us all!
I am no diplomat, but I tend to seek out very diplomatic friends, so I asked them for their wisdom. With their support I’ve developed 7 tips we can take to respectfully discuss divisive topics.
For most of my life, I was seen as indifferent, cold or standoffish. I always admired people who could be loving and open hearted the moment we met. But I never felt comfortable letting down my guard with people that quickly. I wondered, how could they trust someone so quickly? How could these people be so sure that they wouldn’t get hurt?
In those darker moments, I spent a lot of time in blame mode. I blamed my farther for his constant criticism, for making me feel never enough. I blamed my mother for her inability to defend me against his attacks or stand up to him. I labeled my dad as an angeraholic, and my mom as a victim, and I was so stuck in these thought patterns that I couldn’t change my relationship with them.
I’ve come a long way since then. Now when I think of my parents, I no longer harbor any of the long-standing resentment or blame. When I think of my friends, or people I’ve met, I can approach them with an open heart. Without any conscious intention of doing something differently, I’m smiling more, I’m happier to see people and I’m noticing more love coming my way as well!
So what have I done to become more open hearted?