Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for February, 2016

Is it Time?

How often have you been faced with what seems like the same challenge and said to yourself, ‘this just isn’t fair!’ When we are able to stop and think to ourselves, ‘what do I need to learn from this latest issue in my life?’ big things start to happen. You are taking ownership for your part in the whole process. One thing is for sure … the lesson has continued to surface for a reason – could it be that you need to address it differently than you have in the past? It’s all about learning the life lessons we have chosen this time around.

When we turn the kaleidoscope ever so slightly to determine why certain things continue to challenge us we are allowing ourselves to discover the pattern, the true lesson involved. You can do this by asking yourself ‘why’ and after the first answer comes to mind take that answer and ask why again.. and again. Do this process three times to get to the deeper ‘Aha’ – which is the real reason and subsequent lesson.

Let’s say you seem to continue to face a lack of money, friends, job opportunities or to have concerns regarding family. When you take the time to analyze the way YOU have been responding – maybe ignoring the issue, refusing to get involved, becoming overly involved, or judging the person (the list of possibilities goes on and on) often your response is the same as it has been in the past and thus you’re getting the same results. The Universe will respond by giving you harder and harder issues around the same theme until you get it. Let’s break this self defeating cycle. Remember the phrase, ‘First God whispers, then talks and finally shouts to get our attention.’

Another way to determine the lesson is to ask yourself ‘what’s the most difficult thing for me to handle about this latest situation?’ You know what I mean, it’s the thing that continues to pop up and you say to yourself ‘the next time I’ll deal with that differently’ but you really don’t – Ahh… yes, there it is … the nugget of truth – the reason behind the reason.

Let’s commit to make a change. Let’s start to view challenges as opportunities for our own personal growth and our road will become easier to navigate with less detours and stops along the way. We have often heard that it’s not the challenges in life that make the difference; it is how we handle them.

Try to measure any difficult issue against the rest of your life to help keep it in perspective. We have many things for which to be grateful and yes we also have many things to learn and overcome. Above all, remember the phrase, ‘this too shall pass’ because it will – sooner or later – the when is up to you.

Have a great few days!

Enough with the Negativity!

My blog written last week entitled, ‘Stress and the Sexes’ explained the different way long term stress effects men and women. If you are like me the stress of this election year has reached a fever pitch and yet we have over 9 months left to go – that’s a sobering and exhausting thought. Think of it this way, by the time it’s over it will be nearly a year of our lives that will never be regained. How are we going to choose to spend it?

At first listening to every candidate helped me understand what they believed in and would hopefully work for once in office. There were major differences which is understandable. Catching each debate – both Democrat and Republican – seemed like the responsible thing to do as I scratched the dates off my list. Watching the candidates evolve on issues gave me a sense of pride. Yes, some were listening to the folks they talked to along the primary trail and seemed genuinely interested in the opinions of us ‘regular folks.’ Some even went so far as to admit that they alone are not a miracle worker and cannot simply promise to make big things happen in isolation of our Congress. After all we do not live in a dictatorship and our country cannot be run as such. Honesty is inspirational and humility refreshing. We all know that it requires those folks we elected into office from our states working together with a President to get lasting changes for the country. From our recent history we can see what devastating effects emerge when that does not happen.

Early on in the campaigns there was a thread of negative messaging by a few of the would be hopefuls but it has now reached a point of no return. No longer do we hear what a candidate stands for but why someone running against them is incompetent, out of touch, a liar or just plain bad for the country. In other words, the debates and interviews are no longer about what the candidate would do if elected but why we must fear their opponent. Fear seems to be the operative word in this campaign from some of the candidates. Fear is debilitating, depressing and a cheap shot in an attempt to win votes. Have we truly devolved into a culture where character assassination is not only accepted but applauded? The last time I checked dog fights are illegal yet somehow this practice has morphed into the behavior of some of the candidates. When I listen to them I find myself embarrassed by their theatrics.

Will we choose to be motivated to vote from a position of hope or fear? It will be a long election year if fear, hate and discontent continue to emerge as the flavor of this years election cycle. Do we have concerns and serious areas of needed change.. absolutely! The list is quite long actually. Recognizing these needs can be enlightening or overwhelmingly depressing – I choose the former.

It’s always a challenge to look optimistically at whatever life presents us. It takes strength to believe in the possibilities of our tomorrows. Yet, to do so allows us the positive energy to go on. A can do attitude is what formed our country – and a great country it is…maybe it’s time to turn off and tune out the barrage of negative campaign adds, interviews and debates in an attempt to protect our own psyche. Being informed is our right and responsibility in the democracy in which we live. Once we feel we know what the candidates stand for it might be good for our own emotional health to say to ourselves enough – and pick up that good book we are reading or escape to the latest NetFlix movie for real entertainment.

Have a great few days!

Stress and the Sexes

Sudden stress brings out the fight or flight syndrome in all of us. However, have you ever noticed the difference in the way males and females react to stressful life changing events that are more long term? In the past we may have chalked it up to the frequently used explanation that women are simply more emotional and men more logical in their thinking. But with the significant increase in research on brain function (now in both male and female subjects) we are beginning to understand a much deeper ‘why’ for the differences regarding long term stress. It is not simply mind over matter. At the recent annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience it was shown that “a common stress hormone triggers different responses in specific brain cells of male and female animals. The differences make females less able than males to adapt to chronic stress.”

Females, often the caregivers for the young, need a heightened stress response to protect their young. The problem, according to researcher Debra Bangasser of Temple University is when this heightened response is “responding for a really long time in a way that becomes disruptive” (and creates a state of constant hyper-readiness).

We may think to ourselves that research findings on animals are one thing but humans quite another until we further read about a series of recent studies on U.S. Adolescents and Adults where it was found that stress plays a role in many disorders that occur more often in women than men. Many of us might think to ourselves, ‘I knew that…’ but the actual extent of this difference is quite surprising. For instance, the lifetime prevalence of stress-related disorders by sex for panic disorders is 6.2% for females and only 3.1% for males. PTSD for females is 9.7% and 3.6 % for males. Females suffer migraines at 18.2% compared to males at 6.5%. Insomnia occurs in 12.9% of females and only 6.2% of males. In fact, of the 11 different areas of stress disorders measured males were higher by percentage than females in only two – alcohol and drug abuse.

The long and short of what I understand is that due to the biological/chemical differences between males and females we react differently to long term stress and that the medications that have been used up to this point to address theses conditions have basically been the same for both sexes.

According to Brain Trainor, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, “it is only a matter of time” before medications for anxiety and depression need to be formulated differently for men and women to account for biological differences.

Like everything in life, once we understand the why of a situation or condition we respond and think differently. Applause to those researchers who are working to help us reach a deeper, more humane way of understanding human needs.

Have a great few days!

Be the Change!

Have you ever noticed the immense amount of time, energy and money that people devote in an attempt to make themselves happier, healthier or more or less something? The wealth of books, magazine articles, week-end warrior workshops and therapy sessions available boggles the mind. It seems at least twice a year a new method workshop (usually with a 3 letter title for effect) and a cost of ONLY a few thousand dollars pops up to change your life. Wanting to be in on the latest and greatest thing people then flock to sign up being convinced that they too will experience nirvana. Many of these new approaches tout that they have found the Holy Grail for answers to self improvement and if you just follow their advice or activate the steps in their program you will be effortlessly transformed. This is usually followed up with pictures or videos of people (often celebrities) with smiling faces showing us how perfect their lives have become as they encourage us to follow their example. Not wanting to be left behind we rationalize ….. ‘well, it worked for them’ but did it really? If it were only that easy…

To successfully make a desired life long change requires that we have finally reached a point of not just unhappiness with our present situation but true and complete dissatisfaction with it. In other words it’s like a whole truckload not a small wheelbarrow of dissatisfaction because we know deep down that change is hard and it’s going to require a lot from us. There is no magic wand to make it easy. Only when we accept the fact that we want something so badly that we are willing to put up with the effort to achieve it will we muster the needed strength and follow through to achieve the change we seek. Our thinking begins to change and we no longer accept the existing condition as inevitable but make a conscious decision to recalibrate our thinking, finding a new truth for ourselves to achieve the change we so desire. The real trick is that we have to become sick and tired of being sick and tired before we will actually choose to make a desired change and follow through with it.

Change requires both our emotional and rational mind working together to allow us to understand and accept the why behind the change we want to make and then allow ourselves to feel, visualize and accept why it is warranted. When we have analyzed the why even momentary slip ups are taken in stride. We see and feel the bigger picture and know we will get there. As we begin to see our progress we think to ourselves. ‘I can really do this!’ and it motivates us to continue as greater confidence seems to flow through our veins.

Just think, a new you started when YOU decided, on your own time frame with your own belief, understanding and strength in yourself to do something different with your life. The self help books, workshops or therapy may have served as a motivator or incentive but it was YOU being you that made all the difference. You are both the noun and verb of the mindset and that is powerful!

After we have achieved our goal and arrived at a point of appreciation for the new us we may be tempted to try to convince others of their need to make a similar change (I liken this to a form of proselytizing) but we must remember that timing is everything and that few, if any, people really want to be told what to do. Remember they have not adorned us with the title of Master and Judge in Charge. Yet, through our own attitude and behavior we can serve as a positive example that whatever the mind can believe it can achieve.

Having achieved your desired change, congratulate yourself daily …. you deserve it!

Have a great few days!