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emotions

To the bone 

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I’ve just watched ‘to the bone’. It’s a movie about eating disorders, and I really liked it. It was a realistic depiction of what it’s like to struggle with anorexia, and although some parts were hard to watch, it was not harder than what it must be like for those who live with the disorder everyday. The movie shows that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb up again, and I think that rings true for many who seek help with their issues. ‘Ellie’ could not control her condition and came close to death. In other words, the movie was extreme. Many are able to change before they get that deep into water, but there are many ways to die. When we don’t live the life we long for, that’s death too. It’s losing minutes, days, years of our lives. 

When anxiety keeps you in the house, when you stop trying, when you withdraw from the world, you starve your soul. Many of my patients live with this every day. They don’t feed themselves with love and compassion. They even blame themselves for not doing what they want, not seeing how hard it is. 

Sometimes I think anxiety underlies most of the problems one can have. It drowns courage, it suffocated us. It deprives us of joy, and it covers up our real selves. It’s the opposite of moving towards something, it stifles us. But fear is not dangerous. It can’t really harm us if we remember that it will pass. We must remember how great it is to conquer fear. When you’ve hit rock bottom and climb up again, the view is even more spectacular. 

So are you ready to look into your mirror? Look fear in the eye, truly  face it? You are stronger than you think, and when you look beyond fear, there is beauty and life. 

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Anger management 

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Next week I will start working with a client searching treatment for anger issues. I wondered if anyone in here has tips on how to manage anger?

Protected: The sound of miracles

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The Little Man and the Crowd of Miseries

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The Little Man and the Crowd of Miseries

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Once upon a time, a little man lived in a ramshackle cottage on a weed-choked lot not far from a castle. Every day, the little man opened his door to find a huge crowd waiting. As the door swung open, they all shouted “Huzzah!” Then, one by one, they shared their miseries with him.

The little man was very popular because he was a good listener. He also possessed a great talent for transforming suffering into anger and riling the crowd. Fueling their rage filled him with a sense of power and purpose, which he greatly enjoyed.

The crowd spent the day together roaming the countryside, complaining, swearing, and shouting, always with the little man at the lead. At the end of the day, however, the little man returned home exhausted.

When he looked back upon each day, he realized that they were all the same: nothing accomplished, nothing changed. Many days he felt too tired to fix himself dinner, or he drank himself to sleep and forgot about dinner entirely. His life depressed him, and surprisingly, he felt lonely. After many years of the same routine, his health began to fail leading to frequent headaches, illness, and fatigue.

One morning, the little man awoke with a realization: No one is holding a crossbow to my head or a broadsword to my throat forcing me to do this.

Rather than continue his downward spiral, he instead decided not to open the door. Every so often, he peered through wooden shutters at the crowd gathered outside. They gazed at the door expectantly, talked among themselves, and shrugged their shoulders in confusion.

“Where is he? Why won’t he come out?” After a time, they began to leave, and by noon, everyone was gone. The little man breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, I’m alone.

Slowly, he opened the door to the most beautiful day he could remember. He left his home and strolled through the nearby wood. Bumblebees droned and Peacock butterflies circled lazily in courtship over his head. Celandine, Primrose and Bluebells painted the earth in shades of gold, yellow, and blue at his feet and the repetitive ballad of a Song Thrush whispered in his ears.

He followed a meandering path until it ended near a breathtaking waterfall. A beautiful little woman sat at water’s edge admiring the splendor. The snap of a twig underfoot caused her to turn in his direction. Upon seeing him, she smiled invitingly. Immediately smitten by her charm and good looks, he joined her in reverie.

The little man married the little woman, and they moved into the cottage together. Lush grass and pristine gardens replaced weeds and perfectly groomed thatch sealed the leaking roof. The cottage became one of the loveliest in the kingdom. People came from all around to see it, but most days, the little man and woman were not there—they were busy exploring all the wonders that the world had to offer.

*** We are victims of life not by design, but by choice ***

Image by Ron Adams, Flikr Commons

How to hack your brain

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How to Hack Your Brain

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How to Hack Your Brain

You are not who you think you are. Your personality and identity is significantly more malleable than you realize. With a few simple tricks, you can exploit your brain’s innate functionality to change just about anything about yourself. Here’s how.

You Are Not Necessarily the Person You Think You Are

How to Hack Your Brain

You are not who you are, but rather the product of many influences. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” exists for a reason: the longer you’ve been the person you think you are, the harder it becomes to change. The thing is, you can dramatically change who you are. It’s actually not so much that it’s difficult to change, but that you’ve developed patterns and habits that make it easier to do things the way you do them. Trying something in a new way can feel very awkward, it will be generally less efficient by virtue of being something new to you, and it often lacks excitement for you when it involves giving up the comfort associated with your way.

That’s not to say you aren’t born with some inherent abilities, but most of what you consider part of your identity is a product of influence. While we don’t know the exact ratio of nature to nurture, there is undoubtedly a combination of both that makes us who we are. We have a tendency to think that change is difficult, but it’s really just a matter of changing your influence. You’re probably familiar with Stockholm syndrome-the term used to describe how hostage victims tend to develop positive feelings towards their captors. Stockholm syndrome isn’t a kind of brainwashing by the captor; instead, the victim adapts to the poor situation he or she is in. If most people can adapt to something as awful as being kidnapped, most people can adapt to smaller positive changes in their own lives. You can even make enormous changes if you’re willing to put in the work and you provide yourself with the proper influences. We’re going to look at how to do that on high and low levels, from priming your brain to manipulating your own emotions, and also look at how your environment and the people you know shape your life.

Most of these methods won’t make you feel comfortable, and, at times, they may sound a bit crazy, but it is possible to “hack” your own brain. Here are just a few ways to do it.

Priming Your Brain

How to Hack Your Brain

Priming is a ridiculously simple technique because all it involves is talking to yourself. On the dull end of the spectrum, it’s similar to self-affirmation. On the crazier end of the spectrum, it bears some similarities with neuro-linguistic programming. Priming your brain involves reciting a given set of words that are designed to alter your mindset. It is not brainwashing and it cannot make you do anything you don’t want to do. What it can accomplish, however, is putting you into a state of mind that will be more useful to you with a given situation or task.

How to Hack Your Brain

Before we get into the specifics of how to prime your brain, let’s talk about how and why it works. If you were to say the word mustard out loud, and then you were to see a portion of the word later, you’d be reminded of mustard. For example, if you were to say “I must have this” you might be reminded of mustard because of the word must. If you were hungry and liked mustard, you may even want some. It’s the same phenomenon that compels you to buy a particular brand of shampoo that you saw on television even if you 1) don’t remember seeing the commercial, and 2) couldn’t care less what kind of shampoo you use. This is essentially how priming works, and it’s all thanks to your memory.

While you’re not going to remember everything you say, that doesn’t mean what you say is gone forever. While everything stored in your recent memory may not be immediately accessible, all you really need to bring something up is a trigger word. This is conceptually similar to using acronyms as a memory tool (e.g. Roy G. Biv) but isn’t designed to help you actually remember anything. Instead, the goal is to place common words that, when apart, have no real specific value, but when together, have an associative value that make you think of happy things, sad things, specific people, or ambition. If any of those common words come up again later in the day, you’ll immediately associate that word with the associative value of the group. Here’s an example:

  • drive
  • do
  • go
  • make
  • objective
  • important
  • create
  • commitment
  • purpose
  • enthusiasm
  • eager
  • motivation

This is a list of words synonymous with or related to ambition. It’s designed to be read aloud to put you in a more ambitious mindset, focusing your thoughts and priming your brain to react ambitiously when these words, or portions of these words, come up later in your day.

Another exercise involves taking a shorter list of priming words and making a sentence with it. Here’s an example:

  • the
  • smiled
  • looked
  • girl
  • and

These words can form the sentence “the girl looked and smiled,” which should bring to mind pleasant associations for most people. Constructing sentences out of word lists (which you can create yourself) can help put you in the right mindset.

These two methods can be used to prime your brain. They are not magic tricks that will instantly make you feel happy, ambitious, or whatever, but they can help to provide you with the mindset you need to better accomplish your daily tasks.

For more reading on priming, and a look at some really interesting studies, don’t forget to check out the references for this article.

Using Your Emotions

How to Hack Your Brain

If you’ve ever found yourself making out-of-character decisions based on your emotional state—such as binging on ice cream after a breakup—you know how easily your feelings can overtake your actions. Rather than letting your emotions lead you towards poor judgment and irrational behavior, however, you can learn to compensate for different emotional states and to fabricate emotions to alter your mood. In order to do that you need to, simply put, get in touch with your feelings. The idea isn’t so much to cry into a pillow about your wasted childhood, but understand what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it, what the root cause is, and what you can do about it. We’re going to take a look at how you can dissect your emotional state to use it to your advantage, and also look at how you can fabricate emotion to change how you’re feeling.

Take an Acting Class

How to Hack Your Brain

You can’t really control your emotions if you don’t understand them, and one of the best ways to understand them is to take an acting class. To some this may sound fun, and to others this may sound like hell. Love it or hate it, acting lessons are one of the best ways to explore how and why you feel certain things. Your goal should be to find a class that will make you uncomfortable every time you go. In my experience, any class teaching the Meisner technique is very effective if you put a lot of effort into the exercises. It can be slow, tedious, and uncomfortable, but it’s capable of bringing out emotion you might not realize you had.

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

How to Hack Your Brain

Your emotions aren’t in full force if you’re not really doing anything, so you need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to bring them out. This doesn’t mean you should make yourself feel horrible, but that you should go out and do things that you might resist because you’re worried about the downsides. Meeting new people is something that makes most people uncomfortable, and it’s a great place to start, especially if it’s a first date. Try new things that scare you. If you notice you’re glued to the couch and don’t want to get up, do the opposite. Spend time with people you don’t like. Go to a movie you’re sure you’ll hate. Your experiences won’t always be pleasant, but they should incite emotion that you can later analyze and better understand.

Keep Track of How You Feel

How to Hack Your Brain

Like an abbreviated diary, every time you have an emotional reaction to something, write it down. You don’t need much detail, but just a sentence or two noting the emotion you’re experiencing and the (possible) cause. For example, I get extremely irritable when I’m hungry. I will lose my temper far more easily when I’m hungry, so whenever I notice myself thinking irrational (and sometimes hateful) things, I always remind myself that I’m just hungry, I’ll eat in a minute, and the “asshole” who accidentally missed the garbage can and didn’t notice is mostly a result of my frustrated stomach. Until I started to pay attention, I never really noticed that I was a jerk whenever I was hungry. Instead, I just thought I was a jerk. This is a simple example, but the point is this: pay attention to how you feel and the other issues currently present, and you’ll find it much easier to manage your negative emotions.

Emote in Front of the Mirror

How to Hack Your Brain

Fabricating emotion is difficult. Once you understand your emotions you’ll find it a bit easier, but it helps to be able to recall how it feels, physically, to emote. We all know how to smile, for example, but you can probably count more fake smiles in family photographs than you can real ones. If you don’t know how to create an authentic smile (also known as the Duchenne smile), it will be very obvious to everyone around you.

The easiest way to learn to fake expressions is to practice them in the mirror. You can try them out to see what you look like and you’ll immediately know if they’re passable or not. You’ll also note that it feels physically different to create an authentic-looking emotion than it does to create a fake-looking emotion. For example, an authentic smile shows more in the eyes than it does in your mouth. When someone smiles a true smile, their eyes wrinkle (creating “crows feet”) because a new musicle—the orbicularis oculi muscle—is used. You’ll come to remember this feeling and be able to replicate it away from the mirror after a little practice.

It’s not necessarily easy to emote in front of the mirror, but that’s not as hard as you think. If your goal is simply to learn to smile better, you’ll get there if you just stare at yourself for awhile. Eventually it will get so ridiculous that you’ll have to laugh. If you’re less patient, you can try to make yourself laugh by making strange faces or just being ridiculous. If you’re comfortable, have a friend over to help. For other emotions, you simply need to find a source of that emotion and bring it into play in front of the mirror. If you’ve employed any of the previously discussed techniques, you may already have a reserve. Alternatively, watch a movie that makes you laugh or cry and do it by the mirror. (Yes, this is absolutely a strange thing to do, but it’ll work.) If you’re interested in anger, you should have no problem getting there by just complaining to yourself or to a friend on the phone.

Emoting in front of the mirror is going to be strange and awkward at first, but after a few tries you’ll get the hang of it and be able to create authentic expressions on demand. These expressions do surface from genuine emotion, so repeating them can actually make you feel happier/sadder/angrier/etc. through repetition. If you need to change your mood and your mindset, the ability to fake it ‘til you make it is very, very useful.

Consider Your Health

How to Hack Your Brain

Anything you do is much easier if you’re healthy—and that goes for mental as well as physical health. These methods won’t be terribly helpful if you’re seriously depressed. If you’re not sleeping, eating well, and/or getting a reasonable amount of physical activity in each day, you’re going to find them difficult as well. You can do pretty much everything better if you take care of your mind and your body, so don’t look at anything you’ve read here as a panacea for the problems in your life. Everything here assumes that you take reasonably good care of yourself and generally start your day in a good place. If you’re not feeling good on most days, you need to take care of those problems before you decide to start playing mind tricks with yourself. Always be healthy first.

You can contact Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at adachis@lifehacker.com. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Warmth

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I39043e45b85749d5ed1170f09eab2180 love everything soft and warm. Blankets, fabric and warm, soft skin. I look forward to go to bed, feeling the warm duvet around my body. Softness is safety for me. I Have always appreciated warm hugs and have so many memories of being close to people physically. Mostly, I`ve had warm, healthy relationships with friends and lovers, with some scary exceptions. I have been enveloped in barbed wire, instead of hugs. And my skin has been pricked until it bled from those I thought I could trust. But today I have immersed myself in pleasant memories. I have let them fill me with warmth while sitting in the sunshine, feeling energy seeping into the frosty corners of my mind. Even if it`s late, there is still a sunset when I look out the window. It reminds me of beautiful days to come, and that if you wait long enough, the snow will thaw and you will feel warm again.images-29

Love

Angels cry 

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Sometimes humans are angels. You have the mother who works two shifts a day and still comes home to read for her daughter. The same child later cooks dinner for her mother because she loves to see her smile. These are examples of wings protecting its owners. Of soft feathers caressing vulnerable skin. But we can’t always be angels.

Sometimes we scream in frustration and hurt others. When we’re at our wits end and our negative emotions takes hold of us, we all do things we regret later. But that’s okay. How are we supposed to learn if we never take the wrong turn? Our wings must be taken care of, but we don’t always have the time or energy to do so. Just like a motor needs oil to work, black wings need to be cleaned. 

We use so much time on a particular negative emotion: Shame. We need shame to not steer too far from where we want to be, but often it adds weight to our burdens, as if we deliberately chain ourselves.

Tears are known for rinsing and cleaning our eyes, and when they fall on our sins, they help. Tears remind us of what we all are: People who try our best, but sometimes fail. We must strive to accept that to move on so we can fly again.

  
Some Angels Cry

Protected: Warm embrace

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The sound of following me

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I had to make the picture smaller, as seeing it in full size might be triggering for many of us. This post is about monsters.

Silverfish: My loyal follower

When I went into my new bathroom this morning, I saw them. Not just one, as before, but actually two. The one was fatter than the other, but together they appeared even scarier. Since I live by myself, there is no one to chase the monsters away, so that I can say “Can`t you please get rid of them since I can`t kill animals?”. Normally I would let them creep and crawl no matter how fat they got, but this shocked me so much that I clenched my teeth together, got some paper, and bent down to kill them. I felt sick in my stomach afterwards, and had some flashback-episodes, as this is the first time I`ve intentionally harmed an animal in too many years to count. In other words: For a hypersensitive, let`s save the world-lady, this was pretty traumatic. I got a little calmer after a while, but I still feel bad about it. But I know I must, since I`ve lived with them for three years now (they must have followed me from the last apartment, or I just had bad luck) and I don`t feel very comfortable around them.

 

This event made me think of monsters, and how we try to catch them. The silverfish are so slippery that I had to try two times before I got them. They love darkness and lurk into a crack as soon as sounds or light enters the room. Since my brain has filed them into the drawer of disgust, I get some stereotypical reactions when I see them. It feels like they crawl on me, or like they can attack me. Poo632853b39053b9a39dd99489304519e5r little things. Done no wrong, other than to try to survive. What I noticed today, was that I had more clothes than usual on the bathroom floor. A little after the episode, a lightbulb said “AHA” before it popped: Off course: Another reason to be messy! How can I find the silverfish if it`s so clean that there is nowhere to hide but where I can`t find them? With some clothes and things, they are much more likely to come out, both to cure my phobia, and to get flusheddeepfear1af881a91b94cc8c into the toilet if I fail. I immediately thought this might be a funny story to illustrate a point I`ve thought about a lot the past months, to some of my clients. Why all these bad feelings? What about all the trauma? So many escape, push the scraps of memories to the back of the drawer so they keep their fragmentation alive. Off course, they are ugly, and terrible, and there are real monsters, but they are even more terrible when you don`t know how many they a  -lre, or how they actually look. I feel safer when I can see the silverfish, even if I must suppress a shudder. If I knew they could crawl up anywhere, unnoticed, like many scary memories does, I would look the memories straight in the eyes, because it`s no fair fight if your opponent hides.

 

Escaping the safety net of silence

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Reblogged from Elle:

escaping the safety net of silence

http://media.washtimes.com/media/community/photos/blog/entries/2011/11/27/silence-640_s640x427.jpg?7

Silence was such a helpful skill to master.

To literally not let a word escape from these lips for at least one school year at the ages of 4-5 (don’t know how long it was exactly, only what was written in records that have been accessed). That is not normal, and it certainly wasn’tmanipulative (which is how an educational psychologist described it).

Fearing making a sound; if those little girls had spoken, it would have reinforced their shame for existing. That fear is held by so many of us, even now. “Shut up” “you always sound so stupid” “you never make sense” are just some of the many statements that are repeated, internally pretty much always.

But why should those little girls still be so frozen in silence? Why shouldn’t they cry their tears out loud? Why shouldn’t they tell? Why shouldn’t someone hear them?
Why are we all still so afraid of hearing our own voices? Why are we so afraid of anyone else hearing?

Silence can be safe, it can also be pretty dangerous and we need to stop holding onto silence so tightly.

*just writing this has triggered the “don’t ever tell” monologue.

Thank you for reading.

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