Get In To The Habit Of Asking Yourself: “Does This Support The Life I’m Trying To Create?”

Get In To The Habit Of Asking Yourself: “Does This Support The Life I’m Trying To Create?”

We create the lives we want by the things we think, the things we do, how we spend our time and the people we spend our time with.

The problem is, many of us mindlessly do things and spend time with people that do not support the life we are trying to create. We say we want to raise our standards and make positive changes in our lives, but our habits show otherwise.

This is a very common theme with the inmates I work with in the jail. I see some of the same inmates re-incarcerated over and over again. Many of them are generally good, caring and intelligent individuals who could do anything they set their minds to.

They have goals and dreams that don’t include being behind bars, yet when they get released from jail they tend to go back to the same neighborhood, hang around the same people and end up doing the same things that landed them in jail to begin with.

They are holding themselves back, just as many of us are holding ourselves back by wasting time and energy doing things and associating with people who are not going to get us to the lives we want for ourselves.

We may be in relationships with partners who don’t believe in us, don’t support our goals and dreams or worst, attempt to sabotage our goals rather it be weight-loss goals, financial goals or our happiness.

We may be at jobs that don’t offer room to grow, that doesn’t offer training courses for professional improvement and career advancement or simply requires so much of our time and energy that at the end of the day we have none left for much of anything else, let alone to pursue our passions and talents.

There are countless ways we can be in situations that are not supportive of what we are trying to create for ourselves. It’s real easy to get stuck situations and habits without thinking much about it, which is why I think it’s important for us to take a step back from time to time and become mindful about what we are doing and to remember what is it we really want.

So get into the habit of asking yourself, especially when you get that gut feeling or you know deep down you shouldn’t be doing something (i.e., going out drinking when you should be home studying): “Does this support the life I’m trying to create”.

At least once a week, get into the habit of taking a quick inventory of your life. It doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated, but check in with yourself:

  1. How is my life going? (take a quick look at all the important areas of your life and how satisfied you are in those areas)
  2. Make a note of the areas that need adjustment (areas where you are not so satisfied) and then commit to making changes in those areas.
  3.  Get to work making changes in those areas and repeat this check in again in a week or so. Little adjustments add up to big changes and you will realize you’ll start living more mindfully and intentional in creating the life you want and deserve.

Do women absorb the DNA of every man they have unprotected sex with?

Do women absorb the DNA of every man they have unprotected sex with?

I’ve been asked many times, mostly by worried pregnant mothers or potential baby fathers if a fetus’s DNA can be changed or effected by either another man’s semen while she is pregnant or from her sexual activities with previous partners.

The short answer is no.

There is a false belief that women absorb and retain the DNA of every man they have unprotected sex with. This belief has been spread through some articles, but stems from a 2012 research project that showed that the brains of some autopsied women had male DNA.  Some who heard this quickly jumped to the conclusion that they must have received this male DNA through sperm.

The truth is, this is called microchimerism and the explanation for the male Y chromosome being found in some female brains is not really that complex.

Pregnancy

When women become pregnant, they play host to another human with its own set of DNA. Some of this DNA gets absorbed through the placenta and remains with the woman for the rest of her life. If she has any male children then she will absorb some male DNA which explains why some of the women autopsied (aged 32 to 101) had male DNA in their brains even decades later.

The DNA a mother inherits from her child is often up to 10% of the free floating DNA in her blood stream. Often call foetal origin cells, they have also been found in the mothers skin and all major organ including the heart.

Blood Transfusions and Organ Transplants

When we receive blood transfusions or organ transplants, we are also receive some DNA from the donor. This is known as medical chimerism and is something the medical world has been aware of for a long time. If a woman receives a transfusion or transplant from a male, it is likely she will also absorb some male DNA.

Having an Older Male Sibling

If a woman has an older brother, the chances are her mother has absorbed some male DNA from him during her pregnancy and also passed it along to her daughter. This explains why some of the women autopsied who did not have any male children, blood transfusions or transplants, still had the presence male DNA.

Effects

Research suggests that having male DNA passed on to these women doesn’t affect them as far as femininity goes, but that it could have several beneficial effects:

  • Lower risk of some cancers
  • Longer life span
  • Better tolerance of successive pregnancies
  • Decrease risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Diminished symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

So while many women have the presence of male DNA, it’s not because they were having unprotected sex. They do not carry the DNA of ex-lovers and thankfully are not bonded to them for life, however, they will be bonded even on a cellular level with their children til death.

Why Being Ghosted Hurts

Why Being Ghosted Hurts

The term “ghosting” refers to when someone you believe cares about or is at least interested in you, suddenly stops contacting you or responding to your efforts to reach out to them. It could be someone you’ve been on a few dates with, talked to everyday for the last couple of weeks through texting or even someone you considered to be a potential serious partner.

Ghosting can happen gradually, such as messages and phone calls becoming less and less frequent, or most commonly ghosting can happen suddenly with the person appearing to have simply dropped off the face of the Earth and vanished as the term implies.

Although the term may be new, ghosting itself is definitely not. People have been getting ghosted probably since the beginning of time, but with more people meeting and connecting online, it’s become easier to ghost other people, therefore, increasing the odds that you will get ghosted.

With more people meeting online and more people caring out a large part of their relationships online and through messaging, ghosting people today doesn’t have the same social consequences it used to have. If you ghost someone today, it’s less likely that you share a lot of the same friends and social connections, so disappearing on them doesn’t impact other parts of your world.

Being Ghosted Usually Isn’t About you

When have invested your time, energy and emotions into another person and then they suddenly drop out of your life, it can be very puzzling and even devastating, especially to those who already have self-esteem problems.

However, people tend to ghost other people because of their own emotional discomfort, lack of emotional intelligence and inability to communicate. They rarely think about how it will make the other person feel which is why ghosting can come off as a very selfish, cold and narcissistic act.

People often ghost when they don’t know how to say what they want so they just disappear because to them that is easier than having the conversation. Many times people get scared in a relationship so they leave or they may not think it is that serious so they don’t feel like they owe the other person anything, especially an explanation to why they are no longer interested. Definitely as I stated before, the online dating culture where we have less real life social connections, makes it easier to just stop communicating without giving any type of closure to the other person.

Men are notorious for ghosting, but it happens to us to. The more someone has been ghosted, the more likely they are to ghost someone in return. I’ve been ghosted a couple of times and it has always taken me by surprise because I thought the other person and I had a relationship where we would at least be friends, and then they were gone.

How Does it Feel To Be Ghosted?

If you have never been ghosted before, and I hope you never will be, I can tell you from my experience that it initially left me in shock and disbelief. I was angry because I felt like I had a great connection with someone. It was as if they had died, but they hadn’t. It was very painful and made me feel disrespected as if I wasn’t even good enough to have the conversation with. It made me feel disposable, especially the second time it happened. I feel like I could never just disappear on a person I supposedly cared about, so it made me question how could people do that to me? What was it about me that made me not worth even giving closure to? It felt like torture, being unsure of exactly what happened to both the relationship and the person. Of course you get over it and move on, but only after you gather yourself up off the floor.

Why Does Being Ghosted Hurt So Bad?

For some people, being ghosted may not hurt very much. They may be able to let go and move on easier than other people. They may understand that in this day and age, people tend to be less attached and see ghosting as a byproduct of dating.

For most people, being ghosting hurts. It feels disrespectful and creates questions and doubts about themselves and relationships.

Ghosting hurts because it’s a form of social rejection that triggers emotional pain. It hurts because it’s the ultimate silent treatment and in relationships, the silent treatment is considered emotional abuse. It hurts because it’s a passive-aggressive act that is psychologically and emotionally cruel. It hurts because we typically don’t see it common. It’s as if the rug were pulled from under our feet.

As I said in the beginning of this post, being ghosted has nothing to do with you. What it tells you is that the other person is too immature to have a mature healthy relationship and that they don’t know how to deal with their own emotions, or yours… or even worse, are too narcissistic, immature or selfish to care about your feelings. In any case, they are not someone you want to be in a relationship with. Do not allow being ghosted to make you question your worthiness or become jaded when it comes to relationships.It’s not about you, no matter how personal it may feel.

Parenting Your Inner Child

Parenting Your Inner Child

Most of us think we are adults because we have reach a certain chronological age, but psychologically , we are often pseudo adults. We are children in adult bodies, trying to do adult things. I think this may in part be where the term “adulting” comes from. We may be 35 physically, but deep inside of us is a five year old trying to navigate through adult life, attempting to maintain relationships and cope with adult stress. Every now and then the pressure becomes too much and our inner child is forced to make their needs and fears known.

What Is An Inner Child?

Inside of all of us there is a part that is frozen in time, stuck in the past. As therapists, especially those of us who deal with trauma, we call that part of us our inner child. Everyone has an inner child (at least one), but we experience our inner child in different ways.

Some of us have an inner child that is relatively well-behaved and quiet. He or she may be barely noticeable and only make their needs, concerns and fears known subtly and infrequently. It could be the anxiety we feel whenever we are talking to our boss, or the explainable way we suddenly feel small and unsure of ourselves when we have to give a presentation.

Others have an inner child that is more boisterous. He or she may make themselves known often and show up as a temper tantrum when we are frustrated with our partner (sometimes complete with yelling and throwing things), shutting down when we can’t find the words to express ourselves or a panic attack at the thought of being alone if our relationship fails.

Many of the destructive behaviors we have in our adult lives from infantile neediness, fear of abandonment and dependency to self-sabotaging behaviors, impulsivity and irresponsibility can be attributed to our inner child.

Why We Ignore Our Inner Child

Society tells us that when we become adults, we put away childish things. We are forced to ignore our inner child, the good and the bad. Our inner child not only holds our childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers, but it also holds our innocence, awe, playfulness, sensitivity and wonder.

Remember the things you loved in childhood, the things that made you happy? When adults would ask you what you wanted to grow up to be maybe you said a pilot or an artist. As we grow up, most of us end up going into jobs and careers that have nothing to do with what made us happy or what we wanted to do as children, in large part because many of us were told that those dreams were childish and we needed realistic, more “adult” goals.

One way or another, we were taught to ignore our inner child almost completely which is why most adults are unaware of this unconscious part of them that sometimes throws their lives off balance seemingly out of the blue.

Because most adults are unaware of this inner child, they do not know how to meet his or her needs. This unawareness is what allows the inner child to take over and sometimes ruin relationships or cause us to act in ways that as adults, we know we shouldn’t.

In order to address our inner child and meet their needs appropriately, we have to first acknowledge and accept that he or she exist, and then take responsibility for parenting and loving our inner child.

When we are inattentive or neglectful to our inner child, we may find ourselves in situations where we are unconsciously looking to fill his or her needs through other people. We are basically asking someone else to parent our inner child and that can come in the form of dependency, toxic relationships and even substance abuse.

Our inner child most likely is looking for something he or she felt neglected of when we were children and as adults we can’t expect our parents or anyone else to go back and fix that. We have to do it. We have to attend to the needs of our inner child through love and support as well as set up boundaries and structure just like a parent would with a physical child.

Having a symbiotic relationship with our inner child will allow us to meet their needs in ways that are mutually beneficial to our adult side as well, instead of meeting their needs through ways that are inappropriate, impulsive and childish.

Explore your inner-child. Get to know them. Listen to them and find out what he or she needs.

Don’t Be Afraid of Being a Beginner

Don’t Be Afraid of Being a Beginner

Many people I know allow the fear of looking awkward or silly prevent them from trying something new. It could be anything from karaoke to going to their first yoga class. Just the thought of failing or looking like they have no clue what they are doing is enough to prevent them from ever trying things they have dreamt about doing.

Remember when you first learned to walk or ride a bike? You probably don’t because it’s quite natural to you now, but if you see any old videos of yourself you would see how unbalanced you were and how many times you fell, but never gave up. That’s what it is like trying something new. We can’t let the fear of looking stupid, like we don’t know what we are doing or even failing, rob us of the joy mastering (or at least being competent) in that area will bring.

Recently I started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and one of the hardest things I have done so far was to walk through that door and start my first class. I had so much anxiety about it and most of my anxieties revolved around how silly I would look attempting to perform exercises and maneuvers I had never performed In my life.

I was worried about my conditioning because while I consider myself to be in somewhat decent shape, I knew I was not in the type of shape I thought I needed to be in for Jiu Jitsu. I was mostly worried about my conditioning (or lack thereof). I go to the gym often and lift weights, but I rarely do aerobic activity. I also knew that I could find a thousand excuses to keep putting off starting the class if I didn’t push myself to go despite those anxieties.

During my first few classes, I was really self-conscious and compared myself to the rest of the class. Most of the other guys were in better shape, quicker and more coordinated. I did feel like an awkward gorilla when we did many of the warm up exercises that required flexibility I didn’t have and left me sucking in air before the class even really begun. All of that started pushing doubt and excuses in my mind. “You’re too out of shape”, my inner critic said, “You’re too old, too tired, too busy” it added.

I live in my head, which isn’t always a good thing if you can’t master it. I had to quickly get out of my head. I did this by reminding myself that I was a beginner and it was okay to look and feel like a beginner.

I had to tell myself that it was okay if I looked and felt awkward during the exercises, if I couldn’t perform some moves right, if at all. I told myself that it was okay if I got gassed during class and had to take a break. I was a beginner, and if there is ever a time to look awkward while trying your best, it’s when you’re a beginner.

Instead of being worried about being a beginner take advantage of it, embrace it.

When I started focusing more on myself and not on the other people in class things became easier. I had taken the pressure off of myself to be better than I reasonably could be. I pushed myself of course, but took breaks when I needed to and learned to be unapologetic about it (by the way, no one ever made me feel bad about having to take a breather). I modified moves I couldn’t do until I could do them instead of getting upset, hurting myself or giving up out of frustration.

I worked on not caring about other people’s opinions.

So what if other guys in the class made fun of me or snickered about how this middle aged, muscular but uncoordinated guy flopped around class like a fish out of water. They weren’t paying for my classes, I was. They weren’t in my shoes. We all have different lives and different goals. While some guys were there to someday compete for medals, I was there to get in shape and learn a martial art I had been curious about for over a decade. While some guys live to train, I have a full-time, stressful job, commute 144 miles to and from work each day and have a family to divide my time with. Our goals and drives are completely different, and that’s okay.

Once I got out of my own head, allowed myself to be a beginner and stopped being concerned about what other people may think about me, things became fun! It helps that most people who train Jiu Jitsu seem to be non-judgmental and encouraging. You’ll hear them say, “We all started at the same point, don’t give up, just keep showing up”.

I don’t think anyone ever looked at me and thought about how awkward I looked or how much my conditioning sucked. It was all in my head. Once I got out of my head and really focused on being mindful and present in the moment, I quickly realized I very rarely even thought about my weight, my clumsiness or my fitness level that much. As a matter of fact, Jiu Jitsu class became one of the few places I didn’t think too much about those things or other life problems at all. It became a stress reliever.

I’m still extremely new in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and in every class I am learning something new and attempting to perform it for the first time. I am still a beginner and I allow myself to be a beginner, unapologetic ally.

Survivor’s Guilt: Dealing With Being “One of the Lucky Ones”

Survivor’s Guilt: Dealing With Being “One of the Lucky Ones”

Imagine being in a tragic event such as an earthquake that killed dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people, but you survived. Yet you had to bury family members and friends. You were right next to someone who didn’t make it, and you don’t understand why them and not you?

Days, weeks and months go by and you can’t shake that feeling of guilt, loneliness and wondering if you could have done something different to save someone else. When everyone is telling you that you should be happy that you survived, you don’t feel lucky. You may even feel undeserving of having survived.

You may feel like you can’t talk to anyone about what you are going through, after all, what do you have to complain about? You lived! You survived. You were one of the lucky ones! However, for many people who survive such horrific events, being a survivor is just the beginning of what can be a life-long, debilitating relationship with survivor’s guilt.

What Is Survivors Guilt?

Survivor’s guilt is something that may develop in some people who experience and survive a traumatic, life-threatening event. It is something that is common in war veterans, airplane crash survivors, survivors of natural disasters and mass shootings.

In her blog on Psychology Today, the Stoic Warrior, Nancy Sherman, PhD states that survivor’s guilt begins with an endless feedback loop of “counterfactual thoughts that you could have or should have done otherwise, though in fact you did nothing wrong”.

Recently two of the Parkland mass shooting survivors killed themselves a year after the tragedy and one of the father’s of a girl killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting also committed suicide. According to their family and friends, they all had a very difficult time coping after the tragic event and appear to have been suffering from survivor’s guilt.

While not everyone who survives such tragedies will experience survivor’s guilt, some signs and symptoms include:

  • Having flashbacks
  • Feeling irritable
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling numb or disconnected
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling an intense sense or fear or anxiety
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and heart palpitations
  • Having suicidal thoughts

Survivor’s guilt is a normal response to loss, even if it may appear abnormal to someone from the outside looking in. They may be bewildered to why this seemingly “lucky” person is suddenly withdrawn, depressed or even suicidal.

Some studies suggest that individuals who suffer with depression or have experienced childhood abuse may be more susceptible to survivors remorse since both issues appear to break down a person’s healthy defenses and coping skills making dealing with such tragedies even more difficult.

If you or anyone who know may be suffering from survivor’s guilt, I  have gathered these helpful tips from the Psychology Today website:

  • Give yourself time to grieve.
  • Consider thinking about who was really responsible, if anyone.
  • Remember to take care of yourself physically and psychologically.
  • Think about what those who are close to you are feeling about the situation.
  • Remind yourself that you were given the gift of survival and feel good about it.
  • Try to be of service to someone or something.
  • Remind yourself that you’re not alone.
  • Be patient.
  • Share your feelings with those you trust.
  • Try to stick to a daily routine.
  • Consider journaling your feelings.
  • Get professional help, as needed.

I think it it important that after such tragic events, especially man made, horrible events like mass shootings, that while we are grieving for the ones we loss and reaching out to their families, that we don’t forget those who survived, the “lucky” ones, and reach out to them as well and continue to reach out and support them.

As you can see by the recent suicides, it can be a year or several years after the incident where the survivor reaches his or her breaking point. It also goes to show the bigger pictures of such tragedies and the very far reaching affects they can have on our society.

 

We’re Conditioned to Stay

We’re Conditioned to Stay

The idea for this post came from a client who wanted to understand why it was so hard for her to leave both a bad relationship and a job she nearly hated. As we discussed her family history, I learned that her mother stayed in bad relationships with no good boyfriend after boyfriend.  Her grandmother stayed in a bad marriage for decades.  The answer became clear. It was simple, powerful and complex at the same time. She was conditioned to stay.

Many of us find it painfully hard to leave situations we know are not healthy for us. We find ourselves in relationships for years sometimes with people we should have left a long time ago, or friendships that should have been let go of a long time ago. Unfortunately, many of us are conditioned to stay in these situations that aren’t the best for us and we don’t even realize it which makes it that much harder.

This conditioning could be as subtle as watching or parents stay in a loveless marriage so we stay in an unhappy marriage because we learned that we don’t leave a relationship just because we’re no longer happy, or we stay for the kids or we stay because we vowed “til death do us part”.

Many of us witnessed our parents have terrible fights, sometimes even getting physical, but they always stayed together so subconsciously we learned that even in an abusive relationship, we stay. It can even be that we witnessed our parents blissfully happy and in love for 30 years and we want that same relationship so we stay in our terrible marriage because we don’t want to not have what our parents did or are afraid of disappointing them.

Conditioning comes from many directions. Many families, religions and cultures do not believe in divorce so we may be even more obligated to settle and stay where we are not happy.

Beyond relationships, that conditioning can spill over into the work environment. We tend to copy what we do in personal relationships with what we do on the job. We stay in unsatisfying romantic relationships and end up staying in unsatisfying jobs. We want more, but somehow, somewhere were conditioned to settle.

Just like relationships, different cultures have different views on work. Many cultures believe that a man’s job defines him and that he must do the same type of work his father did, or work on the family form despite his own dreams and aspirations.

Maybe our father taught us that we show up to work every day for 30 years, keep your nose clean, head down and then retire, so even though we are unhappy, that’s what we do.

My mom went to work every day, she retired from two jobs and I never heard her complain so subconsciously I learned to go to work every day and not complain. I also learned to be loyal to a company, sometimes to a fault.

The same things can be said about relationships. I watched my parents stay in a troubled relationship for many years and that helped condition me to stay in toxic relationships longer than most people would.

We are all conditioned in good, bad and neutral ways of thinking, behaving and relating to the world and ourselves. It’s only when we start to examine this conditioning can we break away from what may be holding us back without us realizing it.