Tag Archives: emotions

Los Olivos and High School Friends

Los Olivos and High School Friends

Left home at 4:30 on a Wednesday morning to bypass SF and San Jose rush hour traffic on my way south on 101 to Los Olivos, just beyond Santa Maria. Highway 101 is so much easier on my 1994 Volvo than Highway 5 (in gray) because on the travel speed is a temperate 65, not the 85 mph demanded on the 5.

As I approached Salinas, daylight was just cresting above the Gabilan mountains to the east, a silver ribbon outlining the gray ridge, then trimmed by overhead rows of gray clouds of varying stripes. The Coastal mountains on the right grew brighter as the sun rose and I pulled into Salinas to enjoy breakfast at Dudley’s.

Salinas at Daybreak

After breakfast I walked around for a few blocks and admired the creativity of the Hallowe’en decorations in a downtown alley.

At 10 am there was no one in my lane for as far and the eye could see, forward or backward. The drive was beautiful and meditative, and around noon I stopped in Santa Margarita, high in the mountains and still shrouded in fog, even though it is just 10 miles straight uphill from San Luis Obispo. At about 3 pm I met up with my friends at the VRBO in Los Olivos and we visited some of the shops and wine tasting rooms.

Rocking my Moroccan Bag in Downtown Los Olivos Which is Three Blocks Long

I cooked up a quiche for our first night, and on our second and final night we visited restaurant Bar le Côté.

At Bar Le Côté: Regina, Jane, and Moi

Shopping at Garden Supply in Los Olivos

We hadn’t seen each other in ten years, since the 50th high school reunion that we organized. It was such a pleasure to catch up and to fill in the blanks about how we got to where we were. They spoke about what they felt when they visited my house when we were in high school.

Jane: your mother seemed like a child.

Regina: your father was handsome but very scary. Manipulative.

It was such a relief to feel seen and understood. Because I departed at 10 am, the Friday afternoon trip took seven and a half hours but I enjoyed digesting all the insights and camaraderie.

Great trip.

Tv Show “Bad Sisters”

Tv Show “Bad Sisters”

I subscribed to AppleTV+ to watch the new season of “Morning Show” and the premiere of “Lessons in Chemistry,” but the big find was “Bad Sisters,” originally titled “Emerald.” Brilliant writing, bang-on characterization of four Dublin sisters trying to help the fifth sister who is trapped in an emotionally-abusive marriage. And it’s funny!

Bad Girls Cast

Bibi, Grace, Eva, Ursula, Becka

It won a 2022 Peabody award and four nominations for Primetime Emmys and I am thrilled to learn that it has been renewed for a second season. Set in Dublin and shot on location in Ireland, it is based on the Flemish series “Clan” and was developed by Sharon Horgan who plays Eva, the eldest. Deeply Irish in the way it deals with the bad husband, it never considers divorce or trying therapy to get the physically-enormous-but emotionally-stunted man to grow up. The photo reflects that there is wine in nearly every shot as they are harried by an insurance firm run by two brothers who are secretly in deep financial trouble. It moves at a brisk pace and I loved that I could not figure out how it was going to end until we got there. Very satisfying.

Birthday 2022

Birthday 2022

Kiraku Cake Delivered by Robot – Photo by Joyce

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, so I thought I would celebrate by inviting the Saturday Saunterers to my home for cookies and coffee. I wrote to our leader, who (unknown to me) was finalizing plans for a December visit to Germany, so he simultaneously announced his absence for a few weeks and my offer to lead a creek hike on the 17th. I sent out a detailed map so folks could find the starting place — our normal starting place for this hike.

Notice Both Map and Field Instructions

I asked one of the hikers who comes every week to assist me — to lead a short section so that I could dash home and heat the coffee. She showed up at the start but did not even cross Fulton to start the hike. She took off by herself in a different direction and one of the hikers sprinted after her, and learned that she preferred to meet the rest of us at my house. So I had no help and the rest of the group arrived to wet chairs and cold coffee.

The rest of us being three people.

Wende, Marsha, Laura. Marsha’s husband Dave was also there

They sang happy birthday to me. I spent about $100 on food and flowers, which I gave away to my neighbors that afternoon before boarding a plane to Florida to help out my sister Mary Rose, at her request, dog-sit for her friends who were going on a cruise together.

[Note:] This is the map our leader sent a few weeks later for a hike (in the rain) that he led. His turnout was not much better.

Celebrating Quiddity

Celebrating Quiddity

The dog in this NYTimes article by Alexandria Horowitz is named Quiddity by his two lexicographer “parents” (they don’t say owner). Quiddity is a “mid-sized mixed-breed dog with a sleek black coat, a scruffy schnauzer-like face and Brezhnev-esque eyebrows that gave her the appearance of a wise old man.”

Bringing Home Some ‘Hairy Joie de Vivre,’ and Taking Notes

Like many, the canine behavioral expert Alexandra Horowitz adopted a dog during the pandemic. She had extra incentive: understanding a puppy’s development. Now, she’s turned her observations into a book.


Because Alexandra Horowitz, 53, knew the dog’s mother and saw the puppy on the day she was born, “her early life was not full of trauma, and yet nonetheless she was not the dog I hoped she would be at first. She wasn’t responsive to us in a way that I wanted her to be.” Quid was impulsive, eager to run heedlessly after squirrels and other elusive creatures, inclined to bark more relentlessly and with less apparent purpose than Horowitz’s two older dogs.

“I feel now that I was way too focused on dog behavior,” she said. “In the beginning, nothing would slip by me, and it was too much for a puppy to bear. Over time, as I began to release my vise grip on the idea that she should be someone other than who she was, I began to appreciate her for who she really is.”

Untrammeled Enthusiams

Alex’s lexographer husband said, “I think she’s fascinating and full of excitement and love and she has a hairy joie de vivre. She is untrammeled in her enthusiasms, which is nice. Nobody’s interested in a jaded dog. She is also kind of a pain in the tuchus because of those untrammeled enthusiasms.” I looked it up and enthusiasm can be countable or uncountable. Apparently, he can count her enthusiasms, which include squirrels, tennis balls and untrammeled barking.

Quiddity can be defined as the essence that makes something the kind of thing it is and makes it different from any other. Quid is latin for “what” so if your dog was named Fred you would love his “fredness.”

I think Quiddity is what Dr.Rita Levi-Montalcini had in mind when she urged the Praise of Imperfection.

Esalen Experience

Esalen Experience

I made a number of incorrect assumptions about Esalen. Because they have no cell service, I thought it was east of the two-lane Highway One, up in the mountains overlooking the ocean. It’s not. It overhangs the ocean.

Esalen Baths – Not My Photo

I had been following the authors of The Radiance Sutras online for a couple of years and wanted an in-person experience. I knew they had been teaching at Esalen since the previous century. Here is a photo of them with the original, self-published version of the book, of which I have a copy. When they announced a September class, I signed up quickly because I wanted the low-cost, communal, sleeping-bag-on-the-floor room. On their Zoom calls, nearly all the participants are women, and most are 50+ so I assumed I would be sharing a room with older ladies. Error. I also did not realize there would be more than one program going on at the same time.

Lorin and Camille at Esalen with First Edition Book – Not My Photo

There were five in the communal room, two of whom were in my group and two in the dance group. All four were 30-ish. The Esalen demographics were dumbell-shaped. Young people without kids who were just out of their twenties who had some time and money to work on theselves, and people 50-ish whose kids had left home for college and were turning their attention toward themselves. With gasoline prices hovering at $6/gallon, my trip cost about $1000 including the stay at Moss Landing. Others, who decided at the last minute that an Esalen experience was what they needed, had much more invested in the five-day/four-night Radiant Sutras seminar. One professional woman with a daughter in a California college flew in from Ontario, Canada and a 30-ish lawyer from NYC who had hit the stress wall so hard she was on medical leave had to accept the most expensive lodging along with last-minute air fares so their investments were north of $5,000. We all got partial refunds. One member got a complete refund. Here’s what happened.

Encounter Groups

I first heard about Esalen back in the 1970s when I was in graduate school. We did our Massachusetts-version with a mash-up of students in the graduate school of Education (where Bill Cosby was a doctoral student) and students in graduate business school. We rented a seminar/business-conference place and spent the days sitting on a circle on the floor, interspersed with talks from instructors (usually post-docs teaching at the graduate level). The goal was to break through your inner barriers and the cliché was to shout, “I hate my mother!.” This is what I expected at Esalen.

Yet another incorrect assumption. Even though people were naked in the baths (pictured above) and the warm-water swimming pool on the lawn in front of the dining hall, complete decorum was expected at all times. Cannabis is not allowed on the site, and alcohol is served only from 6-7:30 p.m. and is low-quality and costs extra.

Dining Hall on Left – Warm Water Pool on Right

In an effort to solidify my streed-cred as “woke,” I wore my new $30 baseball cap embroidered “Stacey Abrams, Governor” the first morning as I stretched on the deck in the early morning light, waiting for the 6:30 a.m. orientation class by JJ. To my dismay, a beautiful young black woman walked up beside me. About 30, she introduced herself as Nicole, a massage therapist from Los Angeles. In an effort not to appear pandering, I swept the hat off my head and tried to unobtrusively turn it inside out as we chatted. I was struck by her elegant posture and friendly, accessible manner. The orientation class was outstanding, combining a chakra talk with the economics and history of Esalen. I was surprised to hear that they were $7 million in debt. The surprise diminished as I discovered the expansive concrete earthquake stabilization/handicap access work that had been done. The students at 6:30 a.m. were mostly young and about 60% female.

The sutras class started at 8 a.m. but I slipped out to go next door for the 10:15 “Inhabiting the Body” yoga class with Liz which helped me feel safe and protected. When I slipped back in to the sutras class, members were thanking Nicole for her share which I missed. The following afternoon (Wednesday) the trainer played a video a lot like this two-minute version of Reginald D. Hunter’s act, twice. The trainer played it twice.

The version the white male trainer played did not have the final joke about Reginald’s conversation with his father. I understand this concept well — insult humor and the feeling of oppression, and I laughed saying, “I speak Irish.” At the end of the Wednesday afternoon session, Nicole walked past me as she exited the room and it seemed she was so angry that steam was coming out of her ears. As I left the meeting room, the lightbulb went on about the language in the video clip. I realized the trainer was in big trouble.


At dinner, the professional woman from Canada was sitting at a table with Nicole and others. I joined them as the meal was winding down, and the training couple stopped by. The Canadian woman engaged the male trainer in a discussion about the video, saying that “it hurt my heart.” The trainer completely missed her point and replied with something about soothing a hurting heart. Nicole, fuming, left the table.

The couple led the Wednesday night session starting at 7:30 p.m. and he kept giggling and seemed disorganized. I wondered if he was stoned. He told the story about how his wife danced each of his translations and helped him select the best one. A few people read aloud sutras from his book. Later on, someone not in our sessions told me that several women objected to the wife’s name not appearing on the book even though she was integral to the work.

Esalen Eggs are Pale and Tasteless. Vegetarian Options are Better. Bottle from Earlier Vacation.

Thursday morning before breakfast I danced my brains out at Jovina’s “Soul Movement Sanctuary” dance fest. The sutras session started after breakfast with the female co-trainer weeping for about five minutes before she apologized for the “hurtful language” in the previous day’s video. The male trainer just sat next to her making notes. Finally, Nicole got up and gave the damp 70-year-old white woman a hug and the emotionally/socially/attunement-deaf husband took a photo of them hugging. [He was later forced to delete the photo.]

Far up the canyon, in the Ventana Wilderness, Porter Springs bubbles to the surface to provide about 75% of Esalen’s Water

He then started the class with no reference to the video. A different white woman raised her hand and politely asked for an apology, saying that everyone makes mistakes but that it was not sufficient for his wife to apologize, she was asking him to apologize. He insisted that he was using the video for training and it was unfortunate that she missed his point. Other class members raised their hands and politely requested an apology. When the trainer accused the First-Amendment-Rights attorney of “projecting” her issues onto him, the other 30 year old attorney from New York left the room because it brought up her suffering from the dominating language used by the man she had been with for seven years.

The trainer challenged Nicole to “coach” him. She declined saying it wasn’t her job. By this time I was sitting next to her and I volunteered to coach him. I stood chest-to-chest with him and, in an effort to build connection before attacking, I acknowledged that I got the point and that Ireland has no history of black enslavement. This got Nicole to say her piece directly to the trainer. I went back to sitting next to her as she finished. His response continued to deflect and dissemble and Nicole left after several minutes of it. He continued with his denial and I quietly left too, joining the New York lawyer on the lawn by the swimming pool. Things were crumbling.

Around lunchtime we were told that Esalen was intervening and there would be a 3 p.m. meeting with an Esalen mediator prior to the 4 p.m. regular session. I skipped both, instead going to the yoga class scheduled for 2:15 where the teacher did not show up, so classmate Anthea taught it instead. I went to the baths and learned that our explosion was the talk of the Institute.

The Baths in Afternoon Light

When the bar opened at 6 p.m., I bought a beer and sat down with the British producer who attended the 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. sessions and who had been very polite yet very insistent that the trainer apologize. The Brit told me that the Queen had died. I offered my condolences and smirked, “England’s difficult is Ireland’s opportunity.” “Don’t say Ireland!” he replied in mock horror. I cracked up, then asked if the trainer’s apology was sincere or theater. He considered this for a beat, then said sadly, “theater.” A little later on, we asked a nearby daytime soap actress the same question. She thought about this, then her face looked sad. “Theater.”

The Canadian professional woman came by and offered to refill my beer. I followed her in to the bar, but while we were waiting I started talking with Marjan. By the time we finished and I returned to my waiting beer, I had missed dinner. I spent the rest of the evening talking to Marjan’s husband, Robert, who plays the hand-pan which is a Swiss-made refinement of the steel drum.

My Roommates

The moon was almost full on my final day, and I watched it set into the Pacific Ocean from the deck in front of the communal room where I slept with four others. Somewhat dehydrated from two beers and no dinner, I went to the dining hall for some tar-black leftover coffee diluted with hot water. The male trainer came in and sat where I could see him. I greeted him but did not engage him. My roommate Adam came in and sat with three friends from the dance group. Lorin button-holed Adam and walked him out to the deck where I could not listen to their conversation.

Deck Outside Dining Room – Not My Photo

When it was finally daylight, I went back to the room to pack my gear, silently, because Maggie was still sleeping. Geoff came in with a loud greeting and I absent-mindedly greeted him back and we both woke up Maggie who forgave us and engaged in the conversation. Geoff launched into the most interesting riff of the stay.

Why tell the truth? Bad people don’t tell the truth — why give them the advantage? When you lie, it just evens the playing-ground. You don’t have to make it a big lie, just say you were late because your dishwasher overflowed and you didn’t want it to leak into the ceiling of your downstairs neighbors so you had to mop it up right away. Make it easy for them to forgive you.

It had never occurred to me that other people, like men or those with English accents, thought it was okay to lie. I had always thought that they knew it was wrong and did it anyway. What if they don’t even think it’s wrong? “All’s fair in love and war.” Maybe Lorin thinks it is okay to stonewall, gaslight, obfuscate, deflect, and deny.

When Adam returned, he told us what happened when Lorin walked him outside. Lorin was trying to elicit his support against the “conspiracy.” Then Adam said, “I learned the value of a simple apology, so, Anet, I apologize for waking you up with the air mattress inflator.” I was surprised and said, “Thank you for that.”

Another hot day was forecast (it was 115° in Santa Rosa two days earlier) and I wanted to get on the road early enough to beat East Bay traffic because I was planning to go through San Leandro, Oakland, and take and Richmond-San Rafael bridge home. I talked to the front desk and requested my refund and left about 10:15 a.m., got home by 3 p.m.

The Canadian professional woman got a substantial refund, and Nicole got all her money back. She had the good grace to attend the 3 p.m. apology session, I don’t know if she went to the sessions after that. She gave me a hug and a kiss on Friday morning when I said good-bye.

Irene Lyon: Who Heals?

Irene Lyon: Who Heals?

Irene Lyon says that, ideally, we develop a sense of safety and belonging within our bones, guts, and cells as our attuned caregivers encourage us to feel self-worth and personal agency over the pivotal first three years of our lives. Because we are too young to think and reason, our learning is stored into our body posture and the muscles that move us, the muscles that give us strength and a felt-sense of confidence to take on the world.

Father son attunement

Photo taken by Mother

The sensation that we are worthy of the effort it takes to get what we want comes up from our gut which sends more signals to the brain than the brain does down to the gut. As we grow up, we become conscious of our thoughts which get laser-beamed down to the gut, reinforcing the feeling that we can cope with the challenges of our life.

Vagus Nerve

Afferent Signals Arrive in the Brain

Calm is not the same as Regulated – PVI Oct. 2023

The energy that forms how we sense our gut and organ systems (what we call our Sixth Sense) defines our sensations of ourselves as physical, emotional, mental, relational and creative beings. When we are unable to connect to ourselves, to others and our to environment, this shut-down behavior is often described as PTSD. How did this connection get faulty?

For some of us, it goes back for generations, including how our parents were raised and how they mirrored this behavior in our early years. Where large broods are the norm and poverty is widespread, babies were often seen as “yet another mouth to feed” rather than an opportunity to build something wonderful for the next generation. Beating children and chronic shaming practices that use disconnection (get out of the car, now!) and humiliation as a way to control a child’s behavior creates a high level of toxic stress and biological shame that becomes infused into the ENTIRE organism of the young child. In very young children, these feelings are learned as body sensations, which can’t be rationalized later as words or stories. These bad feelings must be addressed where they are: in the body and nervous system.

Those of us who experienced this kind of toxic shaming in infancy and childhood don’t know what it means to feel safe and relaxed in our bones, gut, and cells. We have learned to always be on guard and to express something along the lines of

“all connection is bad and everyone is to be suspected as dangerous and a threat.”

The chronic betrayal by parents and primary caregivers, from which an infant or toddler cannot escape, can instill a quality of hopelessness and defeat such that the person, as an adult, will feel they are in fact bad meat. This underlies self-harm and addictions. The internalized belief that they don’t deserve to be treated well (as the adult may have screamed while the beating the child) leads them to risky situations and abusive relationships. The pervading sense that they are not valued, or even wanted, can lead to a constant cycle of resistance to doing the work, fleeing from healthy behaviors, and rejecting the care of healers and supportive situations. See Irene Lyon‘s blogpost on why every trauma survivor CAN heal, but not everyone will.

For those of us who had mothers who were not capable of soothing us, we lived our early lives ping-ponging between hypervigilant and freeze response. We must learn what it feels like to be biologically calm and to cultivate an internal sense of safety and connectedness. So much restoration work is required, including realizing that maybe the mother herself never felt safe or calm. Coming to accept that my mother could not soothe me, even though I was capable of being soothed by my godmother, allowed me to forgive both my mother and myself. I see now that maybe I am good seed that fell upon rocky ground.

Oprah says, “Feeling that you deserve something is not the same thing as feeling worthy.” And simply feeling deserving and worthy doesn’t mean there isn’t a Competing Commitment such as “if I become biologically calm, I won’t be on the same wavelength as my family and they will reject me because they believe that I must be like them to be liked by them.” If someone has a (maybe unconscious) belief that getting well would betray their connection to their (birth) family, they might get trapped on the hamster wheel of spiritual seeking. See this Harvard Business Review article titled The Real Reason People Won’t Change.

Update Dec 2021

NYTimes Opinion “Opioids Feel Like Love”

The connections between brain opioids and motherly love were first explored by the neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp decades ago. Dr. Panksepp, who died in 2017, told me that when he first tried to publish data connecting brain opioids to attachment, he was rebuffed by a top medical journal. His research showed that morphine, in doses so low that it didn’t cause sleepiness, eased separation cries made by baby animals in multiple species.

The idea that the purest, most innocent love — between parent and child — could have any commonalities with the degradation of heroin addiction was “too hot to handle,” Dr. Panksepp told me. Today, however, decades after he published his work in another journal, what is now known as the “brain opioid theory of social attachment” is widely accepted.

When people nurture children or fall in love, hormones like oxytocin are released, infusing memories of being together with endorphin-mediated feelings of calm, contentment and satisfaction. This is one way that social contact relieves stress, making bonding a fundamental protector of both mental and physical health. When we are far from our loved ones or sense that our relationships are threatened, we feel an anxiety that is not unlike withdrawal from drugs.

So if “all connection is bad and everyone is to be suspected as dangerous and a threat,” the endorphins and oxytocin are not endogenously generated. Attachment does not become pleasurable or soothing. Spending time with others does not produce “calm, contentment and satisfaction.” No wonder Maia Szalavitz says “Addiction is A Learning Disorder.”

Update October 2023

BOTSA PDF link updated Brain Opioid Theory of Attachment. The endogenous opioid system plays a central role in sociality in primates, including humans. Conclusion:

We conclude that there is significant evidence for a role for the endorphin system in a range of mammalian bonding behaviours, including separation distress, play, gregariousness, grooming, infant attachment behaviours, positive affect and affiliative behaviours.

It goes on to say that emotional pain is reduced not only by endogenous opioids but also by oxyctocin, so maybe a caring kiss really does soften the pain. Reducing emotional pain using opioids, endogenous or not, flattens all emotions, not just the painful ones.

Anterior Cingulate CortexEndogenous opiods ties in with pain management using self-hypnosis according to David Spiegel, MD, Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and founder of Reveri self-hypnosis app. At about 40 minutes in to this podcast, he suggests that pain can be managed when self-hypnosis activates endogenous opioids in the dorsal portion of the anterior cingulate cortex (midline “default mode network” emotional regulation).

If you say, “Your hand’s in ice water, cold, tingling, and numb,” [an MRI shows that] you turn down activity in the somatosensory cortex here. If you say, “Well, the pain’s there, but it won’t bother you,” which is sort of the way people on opioids sometimes feel, it was in a different part of the brain, the dorsal anterior cingulate, which is a part of the brain that we’ve shown turns down activity when you go into hypnosis, so we understand how the brain is doing it.

Jan Winhall said, on October 5, 2023 in a PESI seminar, that trauma survivors can work to remove danger from their surroundings but that the numbing behavior, which was an adaptive coping strategy, sometimes continues and interferes with connection with the self and with others. She recommends shifting away from a pathologizing model of these adaptive behaviors and, when safe, to “turn down the dial” on endogenous opioid production so the person can titrate the willingness to tolerate emotional pain and “revivify” emotional attachment.

Vagus Nerve: High-Tone, Low-Tone Dorsal

Vagus Nerve: High-Tone, Low-Tone Dorsal

Vagus Nerve High-Tone Low-Tone dorsal

As I learn more about Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges, I am starting to understand why experts say that one must be in the Ventral Vagal state to really heal. Starting with an image from an article in Frontiers in Psychiatry written by Swiss researchers, I added information on high-tone and low-tone dorsal from Meditate Not Dissociate.

Adrenaline is like stepping on the accelerator; ventral vagal is the ideal coasting state — generating nice Alpha waves, relaxed, engaged, compassionate, fully-present-emotionally, “tend and befriend” or “feed and breed.” Low-tone vagal is described as a gentle brake on the nervous system, allowing a calming/relaxed and alert state, “rest and digest.” High-tone vagal is slamming on the brake and accelerator pedal at the same time. It LOOKS calm, but inside the systems are disintegrating. The graphic below describes three states, but there are really four.

three states of vagus behavior

Update August, 2021

As I continue to watch Stephen Porges videos and participate in Rick Hanson on-line meditation sessions, I have refined the graphic. This version clearly shows that the ventral vagus, which develops myelination through interaction with caregivers, stops at about the navel, while the unmyelinated vagus, fully-functional at birth, extends all they way through the intestines. I lined up the stomach with the direction the brain is facing on this version, and clarified that high-tone dorsal (stuck in the high-beta wavelength of fear) is like pulling on the hand-brake while still in gear.

The myelinated ventral vagus is a state of biological relaxation where one can play, including wrestling the way puppies do or touch football, and still feel safe and connected. It is the interoception of the cues of safety from the ventral vagus that allows play. Modulated voice, smiling face, welcoming vibe. The ability to sit still and listen to another.

Boundaries: Excerpts

Boundaries: Excerpts

Anna Runkle, the Crappy Childhood Fairy, recommended Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend. At first, it was hard slogging through the ultra-Christian rhetoric and scriptural references, but it started to make sense by the end as an example of Judeo-Christian indoctrination in our society. Here are some excerpts. Brackets indicate my comments.

p87 – The Law of Cause and Effect. Rescuing a person from the natural consequences of his behavior ENABLES him to continue his irresponsible behavior.

p219 – Fear of Success. Poor finishers fear envy, criticism, [punishment and revenge]. [The #1 emotion of narcissists is envy.]

p223 – We withdraw from relationships when we need them most. Just like untreated cancer, boundary problems will worsen with isolation. [Co-regulation is stronger, more balanced.]

p227 – Unmet emotional hungers. We all need love during the first few years of life. If we don’t receive this love, we hunger for the rest of our lives. This hunger for love is so powerful that when we don’t find it in relationships with other people, we look for it in [things] food, work, sexual activity, or over-spending money. Compulsive spending is often a reaction against strict rules.

p229 – Address your real need. Impulsive eaters may discover that food is a way to stay separate and safe from romantic and sexual intimacy. As their internal boundaries with the opposite sex become firmer, they can give up their destructive food boundary. They learn to ask for help for the real problem, not just the symptom.

p231 – Surrounding yourself with people who are loving and supportive, but who will not rescue.

p234 – [Survivors of childhood trauma] are convinced there is no good within them. Over-permeable boundaries. Believe they are treated badly because that’s what they deserve. Our ability to trust ourselves is based on our experience of others as trustworthy.

Trust, the ability to depend on ourselves and others in time of need, is a basic spiritual and emotional survival need.

  • Figure out what you are risking when you change
  • Are you willing to lose (love, safety, …)
  • Be diligent in carrying out your plan
  • Get started. Do it.
  • Don’t give up. Pursue your plan to the finish.

Forgiveness is: writing off the debt in our hearts. They no longer “owe” us.
p259 – Take an inventory of your unmet needs.
p260 – To set boundaries is to risk losing the love you have craved for a long time. Letting go of the wish for them to be different is the essence of grief.

  1. Own the problem of your own poor boundaries.
  2. Stop sabotaging your freedom.
  3. Seek Grace and Truth to cope with grief
  4. Get support for your grief.
  5. Let go of what you can never have. Move on to what you want.

You can only steer a moving ship. Your efforts to preserve the old waste your energy and time. Letting go is the way to serenity. Grief is the path.

Coming from a home where anger was used by a parent to control children
p262 – Do I have an angry person in my head that I still fear? This hurt, frightened part needs to be soothed.

  1. Realize it is a problem
  2. Talk to someone. You will not not work this out alone.
  3. Find the source of your fear (Anna Runkle’s Daily Practice)
  4. Stick to self-control statements, stick to your decisions, reiterate what you will do and what you will NOT do. Let them be angry. Tell them you care for them but your NO still stands.
  5. Regroup and talk to your support system.
  6. Practice. “God does not want angry people to control me.”

Blaming others gives them to power to [be the only one who can] make things right. Take back your power by taking responsibility for your life and make the life you want.

Guilt is not a core emotion. It is “you are bad.” [It is a trauma response to a boundary violation suffered as a child.]
The guilt I feel is my problem. Do the things that are right but elicit guilt feelings [or fear of punishment/retaliation/retribution]. Work the edge. Cope with the grief. Mourn.

First, securely bond [with someone appropriate and capable of secure bonding]. Second, set boundaries.

Don’t ping-pong between Compliance and Isolation

Resentment is a signal. Do I have permission to feel angry? Anger is a messenger.
p279 – Boundary-injured people are slaves

Grounding and Self Soothing

Grounding and Self Soothing

A quick note to self with some grounding practices. First, Max Strom as recommended by Therese Smith. I call this 4-6-8 breathing.

Second, the University of Rochester Medical Center 5-4-3-2-1 technique for coping with anxiety and to reconnect to your body and to the earth.

Slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state. Once you find your breath, go through the following steps to help ground yourself:

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings.

4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. It could be your hair, a pillow, or the ground under your feet.

3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This could be any external sound. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts! Focus on things you can hear outside of your body.

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Maybe you are in your office and smell pencil, or maybe you are in your bedroom and smell a pillow. If you need to take a brief walk to find a scent you could smell soap in your bathroom, or nature outside.

1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like—gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch?

Prioritize Yourself, Attend to your Internal State

The techniques to deal with TMS as described by Dr. John Sarno are described Alan Gordon

iRest practices that include listening to meditations on this page and Body Sensing. Feel the earth, feel your feet. Ground your electrical charge into the earth.

Contact water will ground a dangerous electrical charge: take a warm shower, wash your face, wash your hands, take a drink of water.

NYTimes article on Cutting as a form of self-soothing.

Quotes from Carl Jung.