Combating Loneliness During Social Distancing

loneliness during social distancing

Humans are social creatures. We need each other. (Even introverts!) So how do we combat loneliness during social distancing? Before I get into that, let’s look at some statistics to see why this is such an important topic.

Statistics Around Loneliness

According to socialpronow:

  • loneliness in the USA is increasing. 52% of people sometimes or always feel alone.
  • Millennials and Gen Zs have the highest rates of loneliness at 65%.
  • 44% of the elder report being lonely
  • Men (63%) are more lonely than women (58%)
  • Loneliness is more harmful to your health than obesity, smoking, drinking, or not exercising.

So in effect, we’re risking our health so that we can preserve our health right now. Fortunately, it’s temporary. Here are some strategies to help you through.

Reframe Aloneness

Many people think that loneliness is about being alone. This can make us avoid being alone. However, we all need alone time. This is time to reflect, plan, relax, restore ourselves, or do self care. When we’re busy interacting with others, we can forget about ourselves. So instead of seeing solitary time as a bad time, take advantage of it to nurture yourself.

Think of it as “me time.” In fact, maybe you want to make your alone time a “to do” item. This tells your unconscious that this is important and desirable. When you’re the best you that you can be, you are more of an asset to yourself and others.

Change Your Thoughts

Loneliness isn’t about being alone. It’s about the subjective sense of connection to people and the universe. You don’t need other people to create this. It’s already within you. All you have to do is change your thoughts.

We all have family and ancestors. We belong to the animal kingdom and universe. The plant kingdom also inhabits the universe. The Earth houses us all. If we cultivate a connection to our village, city, state, or nation, we can connect to that too. We share culture with others too. Some of belong to groups, clubs, schools, or teams. There are so many things we can connect to that can nurture us if we change the way we look at them.

When you ask a gang member or a hate group why they chose to join, they almost always tell you its because of a sense of belonging that they felt there. We already belong to many different things. All we have to do is change the way we think about these relationships. Cultivate them. Nurture them. Let them be a source of strength.

Connect to Nature

Humans are part of Nature. Your natural family is all around you. Can you look up at the night sky and not feel the awe? You are made of stardust! What an awesome creature you are! The mighty trees are quite similar to humans. Even if you can’t be with people, you have these natural relatives all around you. Open your heart. Feel them. Feel your spiritual connection to them. Take comfort in your belonging to this vast, mysterious web of life.

Reach Out Virtually

Thanks to social distancing, many things that weren’t accessible virtually now are. Meetup is encouraging all their hosts to hold virtual meetups, so you can learn to dance, do yoga, or talk about your favorite book with people who like what you like. Anyone can join meetup. Just find a group that you like and you’re in!

Need support? AA and other social support organizations are now offering virtual meetings, too. Your family and friends are still there, too. You can always pick up the phone and call someone.

Social Distancing Isn’t Emotional Distancing

The key to staying connected is to be emotionally available. This means you open up. Show yourself. Share yourself. Be vulnerable, honest, and real while respecting boundaries and considering the comfort level of others. Feel your feelings. Loneliness isn’t about how many people you see in a day. It’s about how connected you feel in their presence. If you want to make that more likely, lead. Be open to nature, yourself, others, and see how your connection increases.

Social distancing doesn’t have to lead to loneliness. If you’ve been lonely already, perhaps this could be the doorway that breaks this cycle. Why not let it?

 

 

Overwhelmed? Read this to Get Going Again

overwhelm

Spring is here. You’ve got time to do all these things you have always talked about. Yet this sense of overwhelm is keeping you from getting started. Maybe you’re vegging out with video games, talking on the phone, or laying around instead of doing even one of the many things you need to do or want to do. It just feels like being in the ocean being hit with giant wave after wave and you just can’t get up. Life still demands that you be “on”, but you can’t get going.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed?

Chill

First, take a chill pill. Relax. Meditate. Breathe. Take a hot bath. Have a cup of coffee or tea for five or ten minutes. Do nothing. This will give your nervous system a chance to down regulate so that you can see clearly and feel more balanced. If you are really keyed up, make it fifteen minutes. Or thirty. You say you don’t have time, but this is a really important step. The effectiveness of everything else you do is impacted by your ability to attain calm for just a few moments first.

Practice Mindfulness

Put on your mindfulness cap. See things as they are, not how they feel they are. It may feel like people are judging you, things have to be done perfectly or right now. It might feel like the world is coming to an end. Is that really true?

Get Clear on What You Need Right Now

While you are here, ask yourself what you need right now. Do you need to fall apart? Fall apart. Do you need to be with someone else while you fall apart? Ask for help. Maybe you just need to admit that things are out of control before you can move on. Or is this about forgiveness? A need to end something? The desire to feel heard? Whatever it is, use this time to do some self care. Only when you’re good (or as good as can be under the circumstances), move ahead.

Make a Mindful List

Now, with your mindfulness cap on, make a list of the things you have to do. Stick to bullets and small chunks like “do the dishes” instead of “clean the kitchen.” Delete any commentary or judgment. Remember, we’re making it a mindful list.

Reduce Distractions

It’s easy to get distracted. Especially if we want to be distracted so that we don’t follow through with what we don’t want to do. Set yourself up for success by reducing distractions. Distractions are one more thing to pay attention to and add to the sense of overwhelm. So turn off your phone. Stop checking social media and text messages. Close your door. Reduce the background noise, and get to work.

Avoid Making New Commitments

People who have a hard time saying no can create huge piles of commitments for themselves that they don’t have time to follow through with. Learning to say no is a form of self care. You matter. Self care matters. Relationships are important too, but for now, “no” is a magic word that will help you dig yourself out of an overwhelming hole. Just say no.

Delegate

If you can give some of the load to someone else, delegate. Great leaders are neither micromanagers nor do-it-all types of people. They work as a team. If delegating is possible and within healthy boundaries, share the load. If it’s all your work, perhaps you can still ask for help. That’s what friends do.

Get Started

It may seem that the most important items on your to do list should be done first. No. When you’re overwhelmed, the most important thing is to get started, so we’re going to do that by targeting the thing that is easiest to accomplish. Maybe it’s even something fun. If you have a list of ten things and you can knock out three very quickly and easily, it will give you a psychological boost to see that you’re a third of the way there. That can give you juice to keep going on the things that take longer or aren’t so enjoyable.

Be Grateful

Gratitude helps us get through everything. Maybe you focus on being grateful to have a job to do. Maybe it’s about being healthy or skilled enough to do something. Be grateful to have the money to do something or the time. Be grateful to have a family or partner to do things for. We’re all abundantly lucky. All we have to do is look around and see it. When we know why we’re doing what we’re doing, it makes it easier.

There may be many steps between you and your goal. Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So take that step. And then take another, and another. Slowly you the sense of overwhelm will ease, the scenery will change, and things will look very different. Just keep going.

 

Why Is It So Hard to Be Still?

be still

Why is it so hard to be still? With everyone practicing social distancing, a lot of us are stir crazy after just a few days inside. We have a golden opportunity to breathe, be still, release stress and anxiety, and see into the depths of our being – and we’re not taking it!

So, I am issuing this challenge. Be still for fifteen minutes a day for as long as social distancing lasts. It’s fifteen itty, bitty minutes out of 1440 in a day that suddenly became massively uncluttered for many of us. That leaves 1425 minutes to worry, talk, plan, exercise, clean, work, solve problems, meditate, be emotional, argue, surf the ‘net, play, eat, sleep, bathe, or do whatever you want.

Why Be Still?

I am sure your practice of stillness will generate its own benefits. Here are some of mine.

In stillness you gain space for reflection. Most of us are reactive. Something happens and we have a habitual reaction because there is no pause, no space for something new to come in. Stillness gives you that space. It helps you to slow down, savor, and be. You see things you didn’t see before. You have options that didn’t exist before. All because you stopped for a moment.

We all have a light inside. When we are still, it’s easier to feel it warming us from the inside. Once we tune into it, it’s easier to see it shining when we’re not looking. This light can guide us when we’re keyed up so that we act from our center, our true self, not our emotion mind. So stillness helps us to be in tune with our highest and best self more of the time.

Stillness also helps us to see the light outside of us – in small things like the colors of the sky at sunset. But also in big things like your values and the importance of family. It helps us to live on purpose.

I don’t have any evidence of this outside of my own experience, but I believe that stillness also helps to balance us. We live in a world dominated by left brain energy. Stillness is feminine. Fifteen minutes of stillness helps poetry, softness, creativity, and connection to creep into our lives so that we’re more balanced.

How to Be Still?

Okay, so you’re convinced to give it a try, but you want to know how.

  1. Create or find a stillness place. This is an actual place or a place in your mind that is uncluttered, quiet, comfortable, and where you won’t be disturbed for fifteen minutes. If it’s an actual place, consider the feng shui. Simple, clean, with soothing colors works best. If outside, a place in nature away from traffic and manmade noise is ideal. Use this same place each time you go into stillness. Over time it will create an association in your mind that when you are here, you are still.
  2. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. This way you don’t have to stop your stillness to check the time.
  3. Create your “zone.” The zone is your way of stilling the mind. I live on the river, so watching the water go by is perfect for that. Rocking in rocking chair is also hypnotic. Conscious breathing works well. Staring into a candle flame could work. Walking while humming mindlessly could also work. Knitting might work. The more active you are, the trickier it gets to stop your thoughts. If you’re singing a song with words or if you have to watch your step while walking, these ideas won’t work so well.
  4. Do no thing. While your body may be rocking, your mind is doing no thing. It’s not thinking about whether or not you’re comfortable or what’s for lunch. It’s just present with you. If you have a thought, observe it. Don’t entertain it. Just notice it and let it go. It’s like passing scenery when you are on a train. Just let it go on by. If it’s important, you can pick it up later.
  5. Don’t judge. If you were only still for half the time, so what. Skip a day? So what. If you did three days perfectly and then lost your rhythm, it’s okay. No judging allowed. It’s not a contest.
  6. Commit to a routine. Do this at the same time in the same place every day. This makes it easier to create a habit.

I’d love to hear how it went for you. Drop me a comment and let me know.

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

We all have times when we don’t know what to do. Maybe you’re in limbo and all you can do is wait. It could be that you’re in new territory and you don’t have a map. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed and can’t think straight. Maybe none of the things you want to do are realistic options.

When those times happen, it’s good to have a strategy so that you don’t stay stuck. Here are some ideas.

Self Care

When things get tough, many people cope by going to sleep later, waking up earlier, skipping healthy meals, giving up meditation and exercise to make time for other people and other things. We put ourselves last. This is a great way to collapse!

I know you know that we all serve best from a full vessel, but it can be hard to do this when things are falling apart around you. You’ve got to put self care first. This is especially true if you are the type of person who holds up the world for other people. Don’t go down with the ship. Take care of you.

Maybe this means taking a warm bath, giving yourself time to read a book, spending time with friends, sleeping 8 hours, or saying no.

Slow Down

When things get rough, we often forced to slow down. If we choose this, it’s easier to take.

Choosing to slow down is also a way of conserving energy, being thoughtful, and avoiding shutting down. It can be tempting to stay in bed with the covers over your head and shut the world out. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. If we shut down, it’s a lot harder to get going again. So be purposeful in your slowing down so that you’re still in the game, just at a much reduced rate.

This can look like backing away from social engagements, leaving early, breathing more, savoring each moment, and literally moving slower.

Make Something

Creating things is a way of transforming stuck energy into creative energy. As long as energy is moving somewhere in life, we tend to be more hopeful and alive. Now, you might say, “I’m not good at that sort of thing.” If so, think outside of the box. We all make things all the time.

What about making a meal? A painting? You could make someone laugh. How about playing or singing  a song? Or a dance? Or what about making up a story? You could make something useful that you’ve been meaning to do for a long time, like sewing something. Or creating a new barn.

Busy hands take your mind off things. What we create gives us a sense of purpose as well. This is a great thing to do when we don’t know what to do.

Play

Sometime we get really focused on being productive or doing things that are meaningful. We forget to play. “Play” is doing something with no purpose and no desired outcome. It’s a great way to stimulate creativity. It can open up new ideas for how to be unstuck, but don’t do it for that reason. That makes it work. Just do it for the fun of it.

Love Something/Someone

Having something or someone to love makes the in-between times bearable. Are you passionate about hiking, origami, or perfume making? Do that. Do you have a kitty or dog to squeeze? Cuddle with them. Or maybe you lean into your partner, family, or friends.

Lighting the darkness with love creates balance. Sometimes the darkness is a necessary part of transition. We can make it easier with love.

Clean Something

Order and chaos are partners. When things seem stagnant or out of control, we can do our bit by cleaning something. If it’s a big job, focus on a small piece. Maybe you clean your desk or your car. Or maybe you remodel your whole house! Cleaning creates space for energy to move, so you may see options that you didn’t see before. Maybe you’re not as stuck as you thought.

Remember that everything passes. This will too. All you have to do is keep moving.

What is “Religious Trauma Syndrome?”

religious trauma syndrome

Most therapists promote spirituality as a coping mechanism. Life is holistic. We need to connect to Spirit in order to feel whole. It helps expand our experience of life. However, even the best things can be corrupted. Religious trauma syndrome is one example. So what it is?

Defining Religious Trauma Syndrome

You won’t find “religious trauma syndrome” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sufferers may experience

  • Confusion, difficulty with decision-making and critical thinking, dissociation, identity confusion
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation, anger, grief, guilt, loneliness, lack of meaning
  • Sleep and eating disorders, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, somatization
  • Rupture of family and social network, employment issues, financial stress, problems acculturating into society, interpersonal dysfunction

The symptoms occur because of guilt for leaving the faith, questioning the beliefs, or not being devout enough in their beliefs or practices.

How It Happens

Churches with these characteristics are more likely to result in religious trauma syndrome.

  1. Authoritarian. These churches have a hierarchy with God at the top. The rules are inflexible. Members are not to question the rules or the hierarchy. Usually, men have more power than women. Women have more power than children. Abusive practices can trickle down to the people who are lower on the totem pole. This leaves a lot of people vulnerable and helpless because there is nowhere to turn for help.
  2. Isolationism. Members are discouraged from socializing with outsiders to keep themselves “pure.” This may start from childhood so that kids don’t have a basis of comparison to know the difference between their way of life and how others live. Families may go to school, live, and work only with people from their church.
  3. Fear. Fear is often the weapon of choice for any abusive person or organization. It can be fear of physical punishment, ostracism, eternal damnation or anything in between.

How To Deal With It

“Just leave” isn’t really enough to deal with the problems. Sometimes the symptoms don’t emerge until after the person has left the church. If the church is a mainstream religion, triggers can be all around us. Also since many people belong to these religions, it’s sometimes not easy to find a sympathetic ear. Even when people are not of the same religion, are atheist or agnostic, they may not understand because we still don’t do a good job of talking about trauma in our society. So what do you do?

Talk about it. There are online forums for just about everything nowadays. Finding someone who can understand the fear in situations that don’t sound scary is very validating. When others are further along in the healing process, this can help you find your way out and give you hope.

Get therapy. Many therapists still don’t know about religious trauma syndrome, so you may have to educate them. However, a trauma therapist will understand how trauma happens and how to heal it. Ask for trauma treatment, not just help with the symptoms listed above.

Get educated. The more you know, the better you will be able to advocate for yourself. Do you really need medication? Do you have the right diagnosis? If you know what is going on, you can get the right treatment the first time.

The American Religious Identification Survey reported that 12.7 million people went from religious to “no affiliation” from 1990 to 2008. This is a drastic decline in church membership. Not all of those people suffer from trauma, of course, and most churches are places of refuge and comfort. However, if you are suffering from religious trauma, reach out and ask for help.

 

Gratitude Letter to My Clients

gratitude letter

There are so many people I am grateful for. So I want to write a public gratitude letter to my clients past and present. It’s long overdue.

Dear Trooper,

You rock. You show up. That inspires me. You’re willing to be vulnerable, say hard things, sit in your feelings, and do some really hard work. I admire your courage and strength. It takes a lot of guts to do all that. I know I don’t even see half of what happens inside your head and when you’re alone at home. So, add that to the mix, and you are a real rock star!

I know there are times when you feel stuck, like nothing is making a difference, yet to keep on going. That little engine that could eventually does. Thank you for your courage. I am cheering you along all the way!

Thank you for your questions. I say that I help the “hard to help” because I like a challenge. When you ask me things I don’t know, that inspires to me find out the answers. When you show up with something I’ve never seen before, you know I am going to do what I can to figure this out with you (unless it’s outside of my wheelhouse, in which case I have to refer you onward). As long as you keep trying, I am going to keep on trying. So thanks for helping me grow.

I appreciate all that you teach me. Although I am the “paid expert,” never doubt that I am learning from you too! You give me tips about all kinds of things I’ve never heard of that I pass along to others who could use that wisdom. You teach me about the strength of the human spirit, the ability to forgive, the power of love, and so much more. This is not only a place of growth for clients but for me too. Thank you!

I get a lot of “I’ve never told anyone this before stories.” I deeply appreciate your trust. Our stories need to be told. They bring us power and the ability to transcend. They help us to know our own power and identity. I am honored more than I can say that you entrust them with me. Being able to walk alongside you in your journey gives my work and life meaning. Thank you.

I often say that I love my job. I love my job because I love my people. We’re all in this life together. We create our world together. I feel a lot of hope for our children and our future when I see the amazing people who flow through my office and my life. You’re so wise and wonderful. Thank you for being you.

I yearn for a world of vulnerability, beauty, and truth. And here it is inside my office every day. How lucky I am. I hope that all of you keep that bright light shining when you cross the threshold of my door and go bravely out into the world. The world needs your brand of beauty. You may carry battle scars, but as you know, “The wound is the place where the light enters you” ~Rumi. Let it shine.

I am told that an open gratitude letter to my clients crosses boundaries. Really? I think appreciation is always appropriate. I appreciate you! Thank you.

Why Do I Have to Meditate Every Day?

why do I have to meditate

Have you ever thought, “Why do I have to meditate every day?” Does it feel like work sometimes? Self-care can be hard to maintain if you look at it as a chore. Let’s see if we can turn it into something that you feel enthusiastic about doing instead. Maybe then it will become something you get to do rather than something you have to do.

One of the universal laws is that everything changes. Everything has a cycle. The earth cycles around the sun once a day giving us daytime and night. The moon goes from darkness to light and back in 29.5 days. Tides change twice daily. People have cycles too. Once we finish meditating, our energy begins to change until the effect we got from our meditation practice is almost gone. If we want to maintain or grow beyond that, we have to do it again.

During the day, we change. We talk to different people, have different thoughts, and do different things. As a result, we aren’t the same people we were when we last meditated. So, no two meditation sessions are alike. The new one can help us be where we are in that moment. The last one is no longer appropriate for where we are now.

There are *two types of meditations. Yin style is an emptying that takes us into the Darkness. The first layer is one of relaxation where the noise goes away. When we go deeper, we can see things – both positive and uncomfortable – that we didn’t see before. Even deeper than that, we meet the deep peace of the Void. This is a way of checking in.

Yang style is filling and takes us into the Light. The first layer is about feeling inspiration and happiness. Light illuminates or shows us different facets of things we didn’t see before at the next layer. Finally, we can reach a level where people report “seeing God.” This is a way of zooming out and feeling our smallness in the vastness of space and time. When we see that it is all love, and we are love, this can feel very safe and humbling.

The deeper levels are transformational. The Void can empty us so that we start again at zero. Here we can feel the Oneness with all creation because there is no separation in the Void. The Light can bring us into an explosive feeling of love and Oneness in a totally different way. So meditation is a way of checking out of our physical home and tapping into our spiritual home. It’s a reminder that we are more than what is happening on this material plane. It gives us perspective.

If this kind of talk makes you uncomfortable, remember that spirituality is not necessarily religious. It’s whatever helps you to feel connected in a big way to something outside of yourself. Practicing spirituality is a form of self-care. You don’t have to invoke any god or feel that spirit is a part of it to do it and benefit from it. Or if you are a believer, by all means, visit the angels and your dearly departed while you are meditation if they pop up. Let yourself connect. If you do this a few times, you won’t be saying, “Why do I have to meditate every day?” You’ll probably be skipping off and saying, “I need to go meditate now!”

  • there are also meditations that are balancing.

You Can’t Supplement Your Way to Health

You know you need to eat better so you take some supplements to make up for what you think your body is lacking. But you know what? You can’t supplement your way to good health. There are lots of reasons for this. Let’s check it out.

Nutrients Often Need a Carrier

If you want your body to be able to use the nutrients that you put into it, you have to eat like an Indian. Or a Chinese person. Indian medicine (ayurveda) and Traditional Chinese medicine use food to keep people healthy. The diet is seasonal, fresh, and makes use of food preparation techniques to assure maximum absorption. For example, all those turmeric capsules you’re taking probably haven’t resulted in a meaningful reduction in inflammation, have they?

Your body will only absorb about 10% of what’s in a turmeric capsule, so it’s fairly useless. Why? Because some nutrients use water as a carrier. Some use oil, fat, or alcohol. Most of us don’t drink oil when we take our supplements, but that’s what turmeric needs. How do you get that? Eat like the Indians eat! Find a recipe that you like. Follow it. Sit back and enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits. When the oil goes in and how much all matter.

Indian and Chinese recipes are designed to bring out the nutritional values in foods. Lots of Chinese dishes combine sweet and sour to create balance in the body. Spicy food circulates qi. Salty foods get rid of stagnation. Sweetness promotes mood. Sour foods help with digestion. Bitter foods are good for the liver and promotes salivation and appetite. This type of diet promotes variety. The last thing you want is a beige diet where all your food is the same color and has a bland flavor.

Does this mean you should go out and eat Chinese food? No, the Americanized Chinese food isn’t really Chinese food. It’s altered for the American palate. Look for traditional recipes. Indian food is closer to what you find in India, but back off the meat and rice. True Indian food is generally heavier on the vegetables and lighter on sauces, meat, bread, and rice.

Supplements Are Not Bioavailable

Another problem with supplements is that they are not bioavailable. You drop all this calcium (for example) into your system thinking that it will help with your calcium deficiency, but you don’t really see any difference. This could be because the form that you are ingesting isn’t the same thing found in food. A common form of calcium supplement is calcium carbonate.

When’s the last time you ate coral? Yeah, me neither. Calcium carbonate comes from coral beds, rocks, and shells. It’s cheap and only 15- 40% absorbable. The human gut just isn’t designed to digest seashells. I’m not picking on calcium carbonate. Most other supplements perform just as badly – especially if you’re taking a cheap multivitamin.

Supplements Are Not Balanced

You hear all this talk about the need to get a balanced diet. The same is true for supplements. You can’t boost your minerals by taking the one that shows up on your test as being deficient because minerals work together. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and Vitamin D all need each other to do their jobs. If you’re missing one, they are all impacted. So, it may appear that you have a calcium deficiency when in fact you have a surplus of bio-unavailable calcium caused by supplementation. So, what you thought was helping was actually making things worse.

If we’re talking about herbal supplements the same can be true. Research isolates things so that they can see what is causing an effect. This leads to manufacturers making things like garlic, blueberry, broccoli, and resveratrol supplements. While they may have some benefit, these things are foods. Nature designed them to be consumed as food. You’re going to get the most bang for your buck by changing your eating habits because you get the other foods that go along with them. Most of us don’t eat garlic in isolation. Most of us don’t eat a bushel of blueberries in one sitting. Supplementation is just not balanced.

Supplement Efficacy is Dosage Dependent

If you look at the studies for supplements, you will see some that say something works. Then you see another that says it doesn’t. Then you might see a third that says this supplement makes things worse. Why? Dosage. Some things really are useful, but most of us tend to think that if a little is good, a lot must be better. So, we overdo it and the thing that was supposed to help us actually makes things worse. Or we have no idea so we take a multivitamin that doesn’t have enough of anything in it to do any good at all.

It’s Not Meant to Be for Maintenance

Some things, like echinacea, Vitamin C, and zinc, are not meant to be used for maintenance. They are to be used when you are sick or have a lowered immune system. Unfortunately, some people take them all the time to ward off illness. Instructions for usage are usually on the label. Be sure to read them so that you don’t over consume something.

 

Does it sound like I am anti-supplement? I am not. There are some that are beneficial like Vitamin D, probiotics, apple cider vinegar, and essential fatty acids. Others are really beneficial when taken when and how they can help your body. Popping a pill usually isn’t the best strategy for making that happen. Eating well is the best way to get those nutrients in.

Type D Personality and Microbes

I recently wrote a blog post about how we all have these parasitic microbes living inside of us that help us to live healthy lives. In it, I said that have to help keep these little critters alive so that they can help us digest food, sleep, have a stable mood, and do tons of other things that keep us healthy and happy. There is another thing that these microbes really like – a sunny disposition. People with a Type D personality are far more likely to suffer from heart attack, depression, and death than other personality types!

What’s a Type D personality?

You may remember back in the day when we heard a lot about Type A versus Type B personalities. Type A is the uptight, stressed, aggressive, competitive, outgoing, organized, impatient type. Type B is more relaxed. It’s not that they aren’t concerned about success or are unmotivated. They just enjoy the process more and don’t get so focused on the outcome.

Well, now science has further refined these types. Type D is a subset of Type A. In an nutshell, Type D people are habitually negative. They are hostile, aggressive, irritable, engage in more worrying, gloomy, socially withdrawn, sad, lonely, lack confidence, and pessimistic. They have thoughts like, “People will take advantage of you if they have a chance” or “I don’t like or trust people.”

Type D and Microbes

It might be hard to imagine that your attitude impacts your microbes, but it’s true. The microbes that promote inflammation and disease thrive in people who are negative, engage in catastrophizing, victimizing, and blaming behaviors. Everything is energy. Even your bugs are sensitive to environment and energy. The “good” bugs that you want thrive in a optimistic environment where there is forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion. Adopting a happy mental state makes your body happy and healthy. The reverse is also true. When your microbes are happy, they make you happy.

So What Can Type D’s Do?

First, know that this isn’t a permanent feature of your personality. This can change. So learn about mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that things are the way they are and nothing will change them. A person with a growth mindset knows that everything can be improved and sets about learning how. When you get frustrated with your progress, always come back to this. Growing is a process. You have to practice. A setback isn’t failure, it’s just a moment in time. Proficiency comes with effective practice.

Second, practice mindfulness. Mindfulness will help you to become aware of your thoughts so that you can change them to more positive and truthful ones. Your thoughts drive your emotions. If you think something is horrible, you could worry. If it’s just something to deal with, you won’t have any emotional response to it. You get two really useful results from practicing mindfulness so it’s something worth learning.

Finally, get involved in some sort of group that provides safe boundaries for you to socialize and share yourself. Cuddle Party, women’s circles, group therapy, are all examples of such places. They can help you to get over the fear of rejection or judgment and learn to open up. When you see that no one is laughing at you or that others have the same feelings as you, this can build your self confidence.

Your microbes are a really important part of your health. If you want to thrive, you have to take care of them. I keep calling them parasites because I want you to think of yourself as their host. How does a good host behave? He rolls out the red carpet to make sure his guests are comfortable, have enough to eat, and have a good time. When you present a sunny attitude, your little guys are happy. They multiple and help reduce inflammation, disease, and boost your immune system. So, it’s a fair exchange, wouldn’t you say?

Don’t Be a Wounded Healer

wounded healer

There is a lot of confusion about the Healer Archetype. Some think that it’s a life path. They think of themselves as wounded healers and use that as fuel to understand and tend to the suffering of others. The Healer is not that. Archetypal energy belongs to all people, not a select few.

Some feel that the wounded healer is a mark of spirituality. They were selected to bear a wound that never heals. This suffering makes them feel more deeply, makes them more sensitive, and more highly evolved. The wounded healer is the shadow of the healer. As such it is the part of us that needs to be brought into the light so that we can use it grow. It’s not a perpetual or special state.

To clear up the confusion, let’s look at the Healer. (Some call this archetype the Magician or Mage). Here is a snapshot.

Super Power: transformational power, personal power, ability to heal
Motivation: to make things better, to grow beyond
Challenge: overcome fear of power, wield power wisely, egotism, creating cult followers, disconnecting from reality, using power to keep others down or subservient
Shadow: manifesting negative outcomes, pretending to be more powerful or capable than you are; having power but withholding it; manifesting negativity, turning positives into negatives; belittling others, causing or enjoying others’ difficulties
Growth points: experiencing healing or noticing synchronicities; following inspiration with action to make dreams come true; consciously blending the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual to live or create change

Let me give you an example of the Wounded Healer. My first dance teacher used to use a lot of exaggerated praise. She didn’t focus on skills or technique. She praised the person for being beautiful. Often the students didn’t get this anywhere else in their lives so they came to depend on her for this. She used praise as a carrot to keep them devoted to her while holding back teaching techniques that would make them accomplished dancers. On the surface, she appeared to be a healer, but in reality, she really wasn’t.

Another example is a dance colleague who cloaked insults in constructive criticism. As soon as a student would show initiative or promise, she’d send self esteem destroying words her way to knock her down. However, her manner was so pleasant and sweet that the student trusted her and doubted herself.

I saw an article that was titled something like Ten Things That Show You are a Wounded Healer. They were all signs of codependence that were written in a way that made them seem positive. Codependence is absolutely a sign of the Wounded Healer; however, it’s not desirable or sexy. The Healer energy is about learning to stand in your personal power in a healthy way. With codependence, your worth relies on the opinion of someone else.

Whether you are a nurse or a babysitter, you have Healer energy. This energy exists to help you on your journey through life. You may also use it to help family members or friends just in the daily comings and goings of life. You may use it professionally. The primary purpose is to help yourself.

We are all wounded. There is the first childhood wound. Many more follow. Each wound gives us the opportunity to go into it and strengthen our true self or hide into the shadows. When we hide in the shadows, we weaken our power and deny the transformation. Trying to work from this place doesn’t allow us to help others very effectively nor ourselves.

When we are diminished, we often say, “I can’t wait to get back to the way I was.” That’s limited thinking because being the person we were is what allowed the wounding to happen in the first place. The Healer is the juice that helps us to squarely face the lesson, walk through it, and use it to transform us into something greater.

The experience then becomes our teacher and we become our own healer. Even when something else is involved – a doctor, book, therapist, or medicine – we must participate in and allow our own healing. When we give our power to others, the healing is incomplete. The wound may heal, but the energy that spawned it still exists. This means it will simply manifest again in another form later.

The Wounded Healer is the pretender. When it’s on the low side, the Wounded Healer withholds healing or uses the healing power to create negative things like dependence. When it’s on the overactive side, the Wounded Healer may pretend to be more skilled or resourceful than he is. This energy provides us with the excuse to stay where we are.

Wounds hurt. They can heal when we stop giving them energy and allow them to create scars. For emotional wounds, start with acceptance and being nonjudgmental. If you need to do something, follow through. Keep doing your part until the wounding is behind you. It takes mindfulness, surrender, acceptance, and perseverance. You can do it.