This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Going Forward

Personal growth and development requires releasing old patterns.

 Think of a lizard, shedding its old skin; it has to give up that comfortable, well-fitting, all stretched in the right places skin in order to enjoy the brilliant, shiny new look.  To grow and develop as a person, you have to give up old, familiar ways.  Some of them you might be rather fond of.  A baby has to give up having people do everything for it in order to gain independence.  (but it was kinda nice getting all that service...!)  It's the same for the lizard, the human baby and the human adult; it just gets a little more complicated for the adult.  The point is, if you are going to progress, you have to let go of some of what came before.

"Embrace Change
The important thing is this:  To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.  --  Charles DuBois"

quote from STAND! publication, Options

How do you feel about change?  Do you resist it or welcome it? 

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Summer is the time to allow nature to nurture us and to be light-hearted.

Dear Doctor

Advice about bedside manner.

 When a patient goes to see a doctor, they are seeking help or hoping for some solicitude or, at the very least, looking for a resource.  To truly accomplish any of these levels of care, the doctor has to listen to the patient.  It seems that we've all--doctors and patients alike--come to accept that  doctors are so busy that they can't really take the time to learn about each patient.  It seems generally accepted that they should be compromised in their ability to attend to a patient.   But, doctors, you've got to find a way:  You've got to find a way to pay attention.

I've had the bad experiences in doctors offices that most people have had.  I am a pretty pro-active patient and I go to a doctor's appointment prepared and, usually, with a purpose.  I would think an informed, focused patient would be welcome---with such a patient, the doctor doesn't have to do everything.  And, yet, I have sometimes been met with scorn because of this.  One doctor told me:  "Doctors don't like patients like you; you take too much time."  Another, because I came in asking for a specific test, said:  "You've been watching too much TV."

The first, at least had enough sense to recognize that I had done my research.  The second, in my assessment, had no realistic understanding of me as a person and, in addition, was demeaning in his remark (the second, I had been seeing for 6 years, believe it or not).  These doctors are not healers.

(rejection and devaluation do not make for healing.)

I have had a primary care physician who was a healer, and, a chiropractor who was a healer and a podiatrist who was a healer.  Have you ever looked for this quality in a health care provider?  When it is there, it is quite clear.  Mostly it is not there.
But it is interesting to look for it, and to develop the ability to identify it.

I wonder sometimes how people get motivated to become physicians.  Are they just students who are mostly interested in science?  Or, are they actually moved to help others and somehow lose the heart for that along the way?  One person can offer a healing interaction to another and those doctors who have that to offer are the  cream of the crop.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if patients could expect to feel at least a little bit, in some way, better after visiting a doctor?

Doctors, you need to be genuinely interested in your patient.  That's how you pay attention.  You have to give up the notion that 'one size fits all' and see each case as being unique.  Sometimes you have to have enough curiosity on board to 'play detective', to get going on trying to find the cause of a particular patient's problem rather than just treating the symptoms.

Recently, I had a good experience with the latter:  I had been having recurring flare-ups of an allergic skin reaction, mostly on my face.  I had seen each of the three dermatologists in this practice of four, numerous times over some years.  Finally one of them decided to "review the chart" and try to get to the bottom of it.  He also talked to me about my sensitive skin (to chemicals in cosmetics) in a clear but not condescending manner.  To make a long story short, I have not had an episode since that visit.  I had another good experience with my gynecologist recently and these two were unusual enough for me to write about it.

Upon reflection, what seemed different was the attitude (respect), the caring (attention), and the thinking (focus).  This part of treatment is, of course, what psychotherapists primarily do.  And we aren't perfect, we make mistakes.  But, most of us realize, hopefully, what a powerful position it is to be in--a doctor-patient relationship. and how critical even the smallest act of apparent de-valuing could be.  So, we try very hard to think before we speak, to keep in mind at all times, the vulnerability of the person before us, to never be off-handed in attitude, and to be in good shape ourselves when we go to work; we do rely a little, on the overall relationship, as able to carry the healing experience if we do flub up once in a while.

Doctors, maybe you don't get much training in counseling skills in medical school.  Is there a way that you could avail yourself of that training when already in practice?  One suggestion I have is that you engage a therapist to care for you.  Having the experience yourself, of being treated, always with dignity, with growing affection, and with respectful focus on whatever problem you might present---would be a great learning opportunity.  Being on the receiving end of this kind of care is one way to learn how to do it yourself.

Here is a link to an article which addresses the same issue but has the opposite emphasis.   If you read it, let me know what you think of that.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Personal Request & Blog Question

Today I met someone who, upon meeting me, said:  "I read your blog!"  This has happened to me a few times.  But I am always surprised (happily, of course) because I have no way of knowing whether or not my posts are being read.  As we talked, she asked me about that, so I thought others might not realize either that, indeed, I have no way of knowing unless you check a box or write a comment.
Sometimes I get discouraged.  I have plenty of inspiration to write but I don't want to write into an abyss...!  So I am asking you for a little feedback.  Or just even the most minimal response.  That's why I put the boxes there, to make it easy.  I'm not about to quit, but, eventually I will if there is no evidence that I have a readership.
The question is about Amazon.  Google is persistently asking if I want to make Amazon available to my readers.  It means that if you learn about something here that could be had from Amazon store, you could buy it right from here.  The remuneration for me would be miniscule.  I would add it only as a convenience for the reader.  But, so far, I have stayed away from commercialization.  I tried Google ads for awhile but I took it off as some ads were inappropriate.  So, what do you think?  Do you want to be able to order things from here?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not a Formula

One view of loss, grief, and recovery.

 This is not a formula, but a suggestion which emerged today from my own personal process.  I thought to share with you and hoped you'd share your own suggestions.
This is about the inevitable---loss.  We're all going to experience it one way or another from small incidents like finding our car in the parking lot with a new dent in it, to the death of a dear friend.
I think that the grief is unavoidable.  We must feel the emotion. And each event and each  person will have their own timing.  However, it seems to me, from experience of my own and observing my patients, that trying to skip the feeling only postpones it.
At the same time, it seems beneficial not to prolong it, if possible.  Feel it and then be done with it.  If we try to avoid the suffering, it will 'come back to bite us'.
I am reminded of a former patient who came in because five years previously he had lost a relationship and dealt with it by immediately 'moving on'.  So, five years later, it had suddenly come up full force and he was in grief.
While we cannot tell another when their sorrow should come to an end, we can give ourselves the best chance of a time-limited mourning if we let ourselves have it (completely-with anger, crying or whatever the feeling is) and then bring it to a close.
I think it is easier to heal and carry on with a productive attitude if you have a good measure of positive things going on in your life.  So, it behooves us to continue to "...make our own happiness", to nurture that which sustains us in our individuality, and to remember to be grateful.
The good stuff will prevent you from staying overlong in your sadness by beckoning to you; you will be attracted to that which brings you joy.

Cute Client Comment

As we were parting toward the end of our session this week, one of my patients made this happy statement:  "After a  therapy session, I feel like I do after I clean out a dresser drawer or de-clutter a cabinet."
I said I thought this was charming and that I would post it on my blog.
She then added, 
"I feel a load is lifted."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nourishment to the Soul

What it means to lose track of time and the value of that occurrence.

 Ever notice yourself suddenly realizing that time has "...flown by"?     You have been involved in some activity or engaged with another person and lose track of time?  The sensation, when you do become aware of the time, is almost like that of waking up.
~It is theorized that when that happens, it is a sign that you have been doing something that nurtures you psychologically.~
Might be worth noticing...!

A small post about a big experience---any comments?

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The cultural influences in President Barack Obama's early life and how they may be affecting his approach to problems as an adult and as a leader.

 Pono is a Hawaiian word for the right way or the correct or best approach to a problem.  Barack Obama is culturally Hawaiian.  His recent behavior in relation to the gulf oil spill disaster is consistent with his cultural heritage.  I have been hearing many criticisms of his apparent absence of anger, on the radio.  I have seen numerous news and TV talk shows decrying his lack of aggression toward BP on this issue.

The 'cowboy mentality' which IS fairly characteristic of mainstream America is not present in Hawaii.  People do not tend to declare a position, to overtly criticize, to publicly denounce anyone or anything.  In fact, the recent movement in Hawaii for preserving the ancient culture is a divergence in style from the very culture it is representing and shows a shift toward integration with the larger American culture.  Demonstrations, protests, and activism are quite familiar to most of us.  But this is not usual in Hawaii.  Hawaiians try NOT to be reactive.  It is not polite to be too direct.  Belligerence is definitely disapproved of.  Stepping back instead of forward is more natural there.  The 'wait and see' attitude is usual.  When a problem comes up, the Hawaiian way is to observe, to evaluate and to wait and see what's right.  The idea is that the way to proceed will emerge and become clear, given some thoughtful consideration.  Doesn't this seem like what President Obama is doing?
This is natural to him.

  He did finally get provoked into repeating an aggressive reference and now he is being criticized for going too far in the other direction!  Of course, all presidents are subject to constant review; it seems to come with the job description.  Indeed, if memory serves me, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter were often depicted in caricatures-the height of ridicule, some might say.

So, there is no reason why our current president should be an exception-it's the American way; we prize our right to speak out.
I wrote about this because it seemed like it might be interesting to present this behavior style that we see in him from a different perspective.  I don't hear much in the media about his Hawaiian background; to me it seems to be a semi-forgotten aspect of his personal history.  But, in fact, he spent a good part of his growing up being reared by his grandmother in Hawaii.  He went to school there as a child and grew up in that culture.  It seems to me that this influence, being pervasive during early development,--- a time when a person is most impressionable---, would be powerful.

"Ho'o Mana'o Nui"=Let life unfold as it will; don't push too hard
Easy bruddah!

Credit:  conversations with Bruce Pao on language and culture
Quote from Mabel Pao

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Music To My Ears

A note about human compassion.

 Have you ever heard the voice of compassion?  I don't mean sympathy or understanding, or active listening responses.  I mean the sound of compassion in a person's voice.
I heard it last night.  She was talking, just briefly, about the oil spill disaster.  It was just a couple of sentences, suggesting that we all hold a good thought for the people, the animals, and the water in that region.  I heard, in her tone of voice, true and simple and real, compassion.  It was a beautiful sound.
Maybe if you listen for it, you'll get to hear that sound sometime.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't Lose Your Head

A brief overview of the feeling, anger with some ideas about how to handle it.

 "Aggression begets aggression."  We now know that the old 'beating the pillow' theory doesn't work.  The idea was that by taking your anger out on an inanimate object or in a harmless way---such as on a punching bag, or banging on your spouse with batacas in a (well-meaning but, ill-informed) therapist's office is an ineffective strategy.
In fact, this kind of activity can actually escalate your anger.  If you are pacing around and feeling pent up, it won't hurt to use up some of that adrenaline-produced energy in a run, for example.  But trying to release your anger by pretending to act it out will only make it worse.  We now know that instead of the hoped-for release, this exercise actually increases the fury.

Not that anger in and of itself is a bad thing.  After all, it's just a feeling.  Human beings are equipped with a variety of those---I think they give our life experience, color and richness.  I would encourage you to experience all of your feelings, subtle and powerful, fleeting and enduring, positive and negative.  But when it comes to anger, what you do with it makes a difference.
"Do not confuse the feeling of anger with the expression of anger.""Practice saying to yourself when you feel angry:  "I am angry.  What do I want to do with this?  How can I feel okay with my anger?"  This is a choice point;  you have given yourself permission to have the feeling, you've identified what it is, you've acknowledged it, now you get to choose what to do:
  • In some cases, you will decide that the most productive course is to express your thoughts and feelings about the issue.  
  • Maybe you want to write in your journal about it, or talk it over with a friend.  
There are many ways to proceed.  Impulsive action on an angry emotion is usually not the best.
Physiologically, emotions are also in our bodies.  There are a number of physical changes that occur in an angry person such as immune suppression, decrease in blood flow to the extremities, etc.  Some people find this aspect to be a 'rush' and develop a sort of addiction to anger---they feel strong and powerful under the influence of the physiological changes.  Of course, we all know stories of individuals performing super-human feats under these natural chemical influences.  Conversely prolonged anger makes some people experience a kind of sick feeling.
Some years ago we had a psychology fad about Type A people (there were frequent articles about this personality style in magazines and other media); these individuals make anger such a habit that they ultimately contribute to their own demise by developing cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol and anger do not mix well as alcohol is a disinhibiter.  So, alcohol in the system of an angry person effectively eliminates the choice step I outlined above.  Most experienced therapists know that domestic violence or even venomous verbal fights in couples usually include alcohol.
On a positive note:  Anger CAN be re-directed to fuel productive activity.  A good example of this is, MADD.  I think we can safely assume that these women were, at some point in their grief process, not just angry but enraged.  Look at how they turn that into a wonderful contribution to society that we all benefit from!

A reader gave this post a +1.  So appreciated!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Clarification by Sahib Amar

An important addendum to the previous post; suggests a shift in perspective.

 Thanks, Paula, for writing about this important topic. What a nice picture! The only suggestion I would have is to emphasize that the "prosperity meditation" enables you to be more aware or open to the opportunity for prosperity - rather than saying "try not to miss the opportunity," the meditation allows your awareness not to miss it. So you don't have to try, it just happens more easily from meditation. It's a subtle difference but I think it's an important one. The meditation we did on Wednesday is so heart-opening, I'm sure that's why you felt so much happiness from everyone.

Thank you for sharing your blog with me and the world. 

Sat Nam,


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wth a View to Plenty

Abundance and remaining open to possibilities.

In Kundalini Yoga teachings there are some meditations designed to invite prosperity.  At least, there are two that I know of.  When practicing these meditations, Sahib Amar cautions us to remember some things:  Part of the purpose of putting one's focus on a particular concept is to increase one's awareness.  There are many types of abundance  so our definition should not be allowed to narrow; keep in mind that your definition can include a wide and unique-to-you array of items or experiences.  Most important, was her admonition to try not to miss the opportunity for abundance; she suggests that many opportunities or even offerings of abundance may come our way but if we are not open to the idea, we may just miss it!

It is common to think, when we are pondering along these lines immediately of, affluence, or monetary wealth.  I do not diminish the importance of having enough and as John Hollender said to me recently:  "Money greases the wheels of life."  And, I agree, money can make many things in life easier.  So it certainly counts as an item that can go on the abundance list.  But what are some of the other forms of abundance that we don't so often consider?  Personally I live in a location that offers vast views of the natural world,  existing in a fairly undisturbed state.  I count that as abundance.  Some people are multi-talented---might we say that they have abundant personal gifts?  A family may have an especially vibrant social life; it could be said that they have an abundance of friendship or popularity.  Those are just a few examples.

I would also add that the path to abundance--of whatever kind--may not be predictable.  So it might be wise to remain open to opportunities that present themselves in disguise, i. e., not what you would expect.  Just try to notice what occurs in your life, while holding in an open heart, the idea of abundance.

We are, in our society, quickly getting very practiced in an attitude of scarcity.  Try to keep some balance to that in your own psyche.  If you want to experience the sense of abundance now, try the tack described in the post titled, Gratitude.


Scroll down to view the little Springtime slide show.

 Two weeks until the official first day of summer.  The Spring slide show at the bottom of this page will be changed or removed that day.

Don't Miss the Boat

Good news about current crime statistics and a reminder to notice realities that are positive.

Things are not always as they seem nor as we might assume.  Contrary to current popular belief, the economic downturn has not led to increased crime rates.  In fact, crime, nationwide, is down to levels comparable to "...the good ol' days..." (1950's).  
Some sociologists attribute this to higher incarceration of law-breakers and improved police skills.  This last one stands to reason.  Although it gets lots of publicity when a police officer makes a mistake, they probably make fewer.  Our entire society IS gradually learning over time---often FROM mistakes. 
By reviewing and figuring out how it could have been better, we see how to improve in the future.