Life as we have known it has dramatically changed.
The ramifications of the current global crisis created by the Covid-19 health hazard are multiplying at a rapid rate. The information disseminated by the WHO, the CDC, other scientists, and the media are often contradictory and confusing.
Are you one of the many seeking more solid and reliable solutions than hand washing, social distancing and the wearing of masks? Are you ready to take charge of your well-being?
If so pay attention to the condition of your immune system.
Boost your immune system through lifestyle changes in nutrition, exercise, rest, and STRESS REDUCTION. A strong immune system is the best defense for individuals and communities to this and every other virus. This aspect is what is being overlooked by many doctors, public health officials and politicians.
The new reality of working and sheltering at home is stressing many individuals enormously. The result is increased irritability, anger, anxiety, depression and sometimes grief, all hard to bear or express in ways that do not hurt those we love the most and depend on for meaningful connection.
10 Tips to Help You
We need to strengthen our coping mechanisms. Chronic stress taxes the immune system thereby greatly increasing our vulnerability to all viruses and disease. Here are some tips on reducing and/or managing stress.
It was with some chagrin that, after eleven years of public schooling, and another eleven years of university and graduate school education, I allowed myself to face the fact that very little learning had occurred about how to live life. What I had learned was how to pass examinations, endure anxiety, earn approval, obey others, and suppress pain. In short I had learned to be an impostor, to appear confident and authoritative while feeling fearful and ignorant.
How freeing it was when, finally released from the prison of academia, the unlearning process, the deconditioning could begin. Daily living offered richer education than any classroom or book. I began to discover the importance of joy, ease, peace, love, truth. I learned not by being told about them or reading a “how to” book, but through close observation of people who seemed to experience these qualities. I learned through keen observation of my own process, through paying attention to what thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours produced feelings like fear, shame, guilt, self-doubt, resentment, loneliness. By observing conditioned states of mind, and expressing the inevitable feelings that they produce, I set free energy previously wasted in controlling and containing myself. I noticed that if I did not invite new experiences into the space created, I inevitably recreated further suffering and pain.
How I welcomed each discovery of the principle: “There is a choice about how to live life!” It is possible to choose new thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours which must then create new experiences and feelings. I found that joy begets further joy. Ease, prosperity, and feelings of vibrant health beget greater ease, prosperity, and vibrant health. One of the simplest ways of switching channels is to associate with those whose lives are joyous, simple, and fulfilled. These qualities, like all others, are contagious. A phrase that has often inspired me is: “truth is to be caught, not taught.”
Now I give thanks to the particular children, neighbours, clients, friends, bank tellers, educators, musicians, artists, poets, waitresses and “strangers” who threw me the ball I now throw to you, a smile, bubbles floating in the air, sparklers, an open flower, an enchanted moment. Catch the joy. Catch the love. Do it with ease.
Many of those who consult me ask for tips on dealing with uncertainty. We all wish we could control the future. We especially fear loss or pain. To accept uncertainty calmly and peacefully, we must stop a thought or replace fear-inducing thought, with reassuring talk.
The unknown can be handled effectively if we rehearse and prepare: as in writing a will, purchasing insurance, eating well, relaxing, exercising, activating a loving supportive network, and reading biographies of inspiring, creative people.
Take a moment to brainstorm your own playbook for what you would do if… make sure you include what you would do if the unknown, unexpected events were wonderful ones such as getting your dream job, falling in love, receiving an unexpected financial windfall, or winning an all-expenses-paid trip to a dream destination.
Focus on your breathing and do a body scan so that you are not just imagining with your mind. Make sure you anchor your plan physically so that you are in a calm, relaxed, comfortable state that fits with overcoming difficulties or that goes with living your dream. Notice and feel the smile on your face, the sparkle in your eyes, your confident posture, your breathe as you inhale and exhale.
The more we take charge of our physical comfort and well-being, as well as our positive thoughts, the more we hone both our confidence and competence to succeed.
We can then welcome and embrace uncertainty, knowing we can navigate whatever comes our way and assure our ultimate success.
Dr. Sara Joy David, Downtown Psychologist
This is a piece written and shared by a client who had toxic parents and a toxic brother. She is en-route to FREEDOM and is sharing this with my support and gratitude for a grandchild to be born, a daughter who may break the generational pattern along with her mother. May all of you use it to declare your independence. May you open the doors of your heart to kindred spirits ONLY. May I remind you to fall asleep every evening to the following objective and intention:
LET ME DO WHAT IS RIGHT
FOR THE RIGHT REASON
AT THE RIGHT TIME
IN THE RIGHT WAY
WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Let me be whole, cleared and empowered
Let me inspire others to be healed and empowered
Let us be in our JOY
Declaration of Independence
“There is no right way to deal with a toxic person in your life. If you put up with them, they will play cat and mouse with you and reduce you to nothing. After a while, they will come back for more. If you confront them with their awful behaviour, they will deny it and come after you with a vengeance. They are driven to distraction by the boredom and dissatisfaction of their own lives, so they look for a handy scapegoat, you. They will never admit the truth or their responsibility for the hell they inflict on the people around them.
Here is the story of how I dealt with a toxic member of my family. He looked charming on the outside, but on the inside, he was a liar, a manipulator and a predator, and he would do everything in his power to destroy me, while smiling sweetly and denying his evil intentions. He used enticement and entrapment, luring me in, only to exaggerate my weaknesses and failures while downplaying my strengths and successes. There was no connection, empathy or encouragement coming from him. Instead, he was controlling, rude, oppositional, adversarial and disloyal.
He was running a campaign against me of gas-lighting, shaming, blaming, confusion and escalation. I sensed as I had so many times before, that he was building up to my ultimate humiliation and character assassination, his satisfaction, in front of the family, and that there would be no escape. In spite of this, I managed to get away. He was infuriated and could not hide his frustration, so he continued the rudeness and harassment for many more months. Finally, I had no choice but to let him go.
I didn’t commit a heinous crime, and nobody died. I just disengaged from his ugly mind games and I have no regrets. I have no fantasies, illusions or false hopes regarding the future, and I’m not feeling sentimental about the horrible times I had with him in the past. I don’t need to have what he has or go where he goes to be happy. I can find peace and tranquility within myself wherever I am and I always have.”
Change your brain and you will change your mind. Change your mind and it will change your brain. This is very good news for all of us recovering from trauma, substance abuse, humiliating experiences in our formative years, relationship loss, or the many forces that have led to an internalized oppression that keeps us from living our dreams . It is equally good news for those privileged enough to have had loving care, good education and financial security who want to make the very best use of our talents and the opportunities life presents to use these gifts for the highest benefit to all.
Since the brain is very much a part of the body, anything that contributes to the optimal health and performance of the body will also contribute to the optimal performance of the brain and to a clear and creative mind.
Superior Nutrition provides oxygen and all the other necessary ingredients to the blood, internal organs, and the brain. We are meant to be vegetarian but vegetarianism will not be enough to improve health. Foods must be properly combined, consumed in a stress-free manner, must include great variety, must be properly chewed and masticated and we must allow sufficient intervals between meals to assure proper digestion and elimination. For a more elaborate introduction to healthy eating, I recommend any of the writings of Dr. Herbert Shelton and, a student of Shelton’s, Susan Smith Jones.
Mindful Exercise such as yoga or stretching, pilates, tai chi, weight training, jogging, swimming, dance, all contributes to the proper alignment, flexibility, strength, grace, and mobility of the body. Movement of the body helps the brain/mind which when stressed tends to freeze, contract, sometimes becomes immobilized and performs poorly.
REST is probably the most important and overlooked ingredient in the self-care toolkit. It is during sleep that the body heals and restores. Without sufficient sleep, we become emotionally volatile, less able to concentrate and focus, less attuned to wake up calls from a fatigued body/mind and more vulnerable to diseases such as Alzheimer’s or burnout.
Emotional Equilibrium is another major contributor to a creative mind and healthy brain. We need to learn emotional self-care skills so as to be able to access the full range of emotions and express them appropriately. We need to learn to regulate our emotions when they threaten to overwhelm us temporarily. All of this sets us free from the disruptive impact of past upsetting experiences.
Secure Relationships: We all need at least one safe and reliable relationship. This could be our primary love relationship, a family of origin relationship, our connection to our best and most trusted friend or, temporarily, a bond with a primary care health service provider. Too often past wounds lead to insecure attachments to another or others. Attachment is different from love. Attachment is the outgrowth of loneliness, fear and generally leads to seeking to control the person to whom one is attached. It is a form of imprisonment of both parties. Attachment binds people together out of habit, obedience to societal pressures and expectations, family pressure or other incorrect motivations. Love connects people FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. It sets people free. It forges a bond that can never be broken. The two are often confused but could not be more different.
We want love but fear abandonment. We want support but fear criticism. As a result, we are often ambivalent about intimacy and give mixed messages to those who care about us. Those who have been traumatized may even avoid intimacy altogether and isolate themselves to protect themselves from further wounding. However, current brain science research shows that secure bonding or love leads to healthier, more creative, more productive and more fulfilling life experiences. The good news is that eliminating attachment and replacing it with true love can be learned in many ways including individual or couple counselling,
Spiritual Development: We all need to increase our awareness of our ONENESS and UNITY. We are global citizens and would do well to consider ourselves brothers and sisters in the human family. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Therefore we must take care of ourselves and one another. Whatever your religious background there are core, universal principles to live by. I have found the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti to unite and surpass other spiritual teachings in that the basic premise is that we are all lights onto ourselves who must make no man or woman our authority. Many awaken to their spirituality when alone in Nature. Mindfulness practice, meditation, or AWARENESS and reading inspirational books or articles can also strengthen our spiritual awakening. Music and art can be further catalysts. When we are spiritually attuned we make the right decisions and we find inner peace.
Developing and maintaining a healthy body/brain and a creative mind, we can see, is a lifelong journey. It is a spiral rather than a linear path. We can be assisted or impeded by fellow/sister travellers. Therefore, we must be selective about the company we keep. We must also be caretakers of the planet as the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, soil in which we grow our foods are fundamental to our ability to survive and implement all the other aspects of healthy living. We are in this journey together. We are all either part of the problem or part of the solution. Choose to contribute to our collective evolution.
To all who have trusted me in the journey to recover from past wounds, and acquire the skills to take the good and make it better yet, I wish you the following!
- The courage and willingness to continue the process of being whole, healed, and empowered.
- The ability and discernment to attract others who are on the same path to being whole, healed and empowered.
- a quantum leap forward in achieving and maintaining optimal health, joyful and meaningful relationships, increased creativity and joy.
Resolve to do what is right,
for the right reason,
in the right way,
at the right time.
2: When conflict occurs, deal with each person’s feelings before turning to the content. Accept and validate the feelings and assist one another to express the feelings in their full intensity. Avoid shaming, blaming, explaining and defending. Instead choose mutual accountability.
3: Focus on solutions not problems.
4: Choose nourishing people, work, hobbies, food, thoughts, beliefs and environments.
5: Accept, support, encourage, protect and love yourself. Loving ourselves assists us to allow others to love us and increases our ability to love them.
6: Face and overcome your needless fears as doing so will help you grow. Sometimes we need to feel this fear and do what we fear anyway. After repeating this many times the fear will fade. This applies to fear or worry we feel when there is no actual physical danger. Fear in the face of actual danger is a gift to keep us safe by assuring we take action such as running to safety, fighting, hiding or reaching out for support.
8: Listen to, trust and act upon your gut feelings. Thought often undermines intuition instead of strengthening it.
9: Let thought be your servant rather than your master. When it is not serving you, observe it with curiosity and gently let it go or, at least, replace limiting thought with thoughts that set you free.
10: Past mistakes can guide us. They do not define us if we learn and move forward in a new and more empowered manner.
11: “No one saves us but ourselves.
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path.” ~ Buddha
12: Be willing to sparkle and shine.
Dr. Sara Joy David
Coal Harbour Downtown Psychologist
It is exciting and challenging to be writing to assist those of you who seek my services to help in your journey to self-knowledge, healing and empowerment. It has been a gift and privilege to be trusted by you and witness your journey. I take very seriously the responsibility to assure my own continued growth and ongoing study of state of the art research on brain science, trauma recovery, couples therapy, and other topics of interest so that the services offered to you are leading edge.
It is a sad moment in mental health history that there is so much reliance on prescription medications, which are band-aid treatments for emotional turmoil and stress that challenge a large portion of the population. These medications are toxic, addictive, and sometimes lethal, much as mood-altering substances that are not socially sanctioned ( ecstasy, cocaine and other street drugs). It is for this reason that I want to acknowledge each of you who is open to combining the best in insight-oriented therapy, emotional release and expression, positive thinking and rewiring the brain through brain gym and other discoveries by neuroscientists, as well as spiritual practices, all better ways to get lasting relief from anxiety, depression, self-doubt, relationship conflict and work stress. My intention in the upcoming series of blogs is to supplement your reading of articles on my website and the work you do during in-person consultations with additional readings and tools that anchor the gains you make.
Here is an affirmation for the coming week. Remember to use it in the first, second and third person.
I release all resistance to healing and empowering and welcome joy, serenity, and security.
You release all resistance to healing and growth and welcome joy, serenity, and creativity.
(Your name) releases all resistance to growth and welcomes joy, serenity, and freedom.
The slight variations in wording are used to encourage you to phrase this concept in your own words. language. Let me remind you that brain gym with the 6 images and words on the homepage of my website will anchor them. Do five minutes daily of on-the-spot jogging or snapping your fingers at each ear (to switch on both hemispheres) for 1 month while looking at the words and images, and listening to background music.
The recommended song for this month is by Helen Reddy. While the song was written to and for women originally, make the words your focus since they apply to both men and women serious about growth and setting themselves free. Many boys and men report finding the words inspiring. Girls and women certainly find it heartening and many have made it their theme song. I suggest that the men reading this blog insert their/your own name where the word “woman” appears.
I am(woman), hear me roar/ In numbers too big to ignore/ and I know too much to go back and pretend/ ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before/ And I’ve been down there on the floor/ No one’s ever going to keep me down again
Oh yes, I am wise/ But it’s wisdom born of pain/ Yes I’ve paid the price/ But look how much I’ve gained/ if I have to/ I can do anything/ I am strong (strong)/ I am invincible (invincible)/ I am…………..
You can bend but never break me/ “Cause it only serves to make me/ More determined to reach my final goal/ And I come back even stronger/ Not a novice any longer/ ‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes, I am wise/ But it’s wisdom born of pain/Yes I’ve paid the price/ But look how much I’ve gained/ if I have to I can do anything/ I am strong (strong)/ I am invincible (invincible)/ I am ………..
I am ……. watch me grow/ See me standing toe to toe/ As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land/ But I’m still an embryo/ With a long, long way to go/ Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes, I am wise/ But it’s wisdom born of pain…………………………………………………………………………… I am strong (strong)/ I am invincible (invincible)/ I am (woman) …………………
Relationship Enhancement: In my experience, gender conditioning and family of origin dynamics play a pivotal role in how spouses/partners relate to one another. This applies to both heterosexual and same sex relationships. There are slightly different challenges that arise in each of the following 3 relationship combinations, male/female, male/male and female/female. (There are, of course, commonalities as well as differences in all 3 types of partnering but that is a topic for another day). Gender conditioning leads some men not to allow their spouses/partners to influence them and this is one of the key factors that leads to eventual frustration and conflict. Gender conditioning also results in women sometimes being more emotionally expressive than men and men being more cut off from feelings and ruled by thought. Until gender conditioning is overcome, it helps to do one’s best to compensate for the rifts created by such differences. These differences are not innate. They are learned and can be unlearned. Until we develop new, more harmonious ways of communicating, resolving conflict and staying anchored in mutual love and respect, we accumulate hurt and anger that can be challenging to defuse. While it is challenging to resolve all this, it is well worth the effort. We all need to learn what may be missing. We can then be allies and teachers to one another assisting each other to apply newly added skills as needed. Love definitely brings to the surface, everything unlike itself so that healing and re-scripting can occur. The danger is that if we do what we have always done, we will get what we have already had that does not work. We do need to find new steps to a different dance. The metaphors used by Harriet Lerner are far reaching. The Dance of Anger and The Dance of Intimacy, two of her best known books, describe the dynamics well and you may wish to read one or both of these books.
Here are some tips to help you soften your heart and return to equilibrium when conflict leads to temporary alienation or disconnection from your spouse, partner, or loved friend. We each have our own styles of communicating but we are more similar than we are different. The following self talk may assist to remind you each of basic commonalities.
- Both of us want to feel safe, loved, heard, understood, accepted, and appreciated.
- Both of us have fears of being taken for granted, abandoned, disappointed, let down or even betrayed.
- Both of us sometimes allow a current disagreement to trigger memories of past grievances.
- We have made it through past conflict and this, too, shall pass.
- When stressed it is difficult to focus on solutions.
- Our first task is to assist each other to regain equilibrium together or separately.
- It is only after we have succeeded in calming ourselves that we can resolve the conflict.
Love is stronger than hurt, anger, fear, shame, and guilt. Since energy flows where the attention goes, focus on what led you to choose one another, upon memories of shared affection, moments when you felt peaceful, safe and serene together, moments when you felt proud to be a couple or friends. By evoking the feelings you had at a time when you were feeling good about yourself and one another, you will succeed in shifting your focus from failure to success, from powerlessness to competence, and from despair to optimism. Your confidence in yourself and trust in each other will be restored and even strengthened. Then you will find it much easier to brainstorm solutions to the problems you face.
Remember that change occurs through repetition and practice. Your willingness to be accountable, together with your acceptance of yourself and your loved one, gets the neurons firing in the brain that are associated with well-being, activates new more productive neural pathways and replaces circuits in the brain that once undermined communication with circuits which are better able to produce win-win outcomes. The more sincere, enthusiastic, and energetic you are when putting your attention on what bonds the two of you, the more quickly new neural pathways will be established in the brain. Be determined. Be persistent. It will pay off.