Sunday, 10 May 2020

Comparing Boys and Girls

When we hold on to the emotional charge of a past event or future projection, such as regretting something that happened yesterday or worrying about something that will happen tomorrow, we ride the inevitable cycle of highs and lows that these stories bring. I was driving myself nuts at first trying to figure out how to help, or what to say even. I was stumped. But then as time went by my concern turned into relief. It was the first time since we'd met that you weren't all over me, telling me what to do, how to do it, criticizing me, making me feel like a child. ' Liam was still having trouble processing that this had happened. I was shocked, he admitted. Had I really been such a bully? Never one to let a crisis go to waste, Liam gained valuable insight into what it's like to live under the duress of his constant over-management. His conversation with Jeanne served as a window of opportunity for them to commit to a more equal partnership. Sometimes shocking, sometimes jarring, I still feel proud every time I bear witness to someone laying it all out. On its face, honesty is a simple expectation of the human life: just tell the truth. It is pretty plain when we teach our kids: Be honest and its shadow side Don't lie. Most of us consider ourselves people who highly value truth telling. Yet we are almost to the end of this article, and every single article addresses an issue or need or desire we are often not fully honest about. Some are overt, some passive aggressive, some secret, some denied, but we are actually filled with dishonesty on the regular. We love truth telling except when we don't, we practice it except when we don't, we require it except when we don't. It is okay to admit this, because it is ubiquitous to humanity. Dr Robert Feldman spent his career examining why people lie and found that, not only do all of us do it (and with great frequency), but we most often do it to grease the social wheels or, as he wrote in his article The Liar in Your Life:

to make social interactions proceed more smoothly. Walsh and his team persisted. Their new studies showed high levels of antibacterial resistance in India's water, sewage, and waste. Analyzing the water and sewage samples from New Delhi, they estimated that nearly half a million people--at least 10 percent of all residents of the city--were carrying NDM-1-producing bacteria in their gut. This would mean that if they fell ill, and their sickness was due to a Gram-negative bacteria like E. coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae that carried NDM-1, the standard treatment wouldn't work. When word got out about this discovery, another media storm hit, which included a live televised conference featuring the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Vishwa Mohan Katoch, who said the latest findings lacked any clinical or epidemiological evidence. The government assured residents that the water was safe for consumption and that the citizens need not worry,11 even as it quietly started chlorinating their water more aggressively and distributing chlorine tablets. To decrease the likelihood of future such embarrassments, the government quickly changed the rules on sample collecting. 12 Walsh was becoming persona non grata in India, but Pakistan hailed him as a hero. After all, I have been me for a long time, and even though I'm not particularly happy, I've gotten by in life. However, after understanding the difference between authentic self- esteem and just feeling good about oneself, I feel more hopeful. It has been a while since I felt hopeful. I guess I have just gotten used to being sort of unhappy or settling for things. But hope feels different. It feels good to see that things don't have to be the same, that there are other possibilities. Hope is helpful because when I feel this way, I see more possibilities. I know that hope is not the same thing as reality, but seeing more possibilities makes me want to try something new for a change. Hope is not a guarantee, but who knows what might happen.

I do know that if I don't try things out, nothing is likely to change. We take a ride on an emotional roller-coaster that expends huge amounts of energy without any productive outcome. It is a very effective way of depleting our energy and leaves us susceptible and lacking resilience. When we think one thing, feel another thing, say something different again, and then do yet another thing, we perpetuate a lack of connection to our values and what's important to us. This is how we remain disconnected with our spiritual body and who we really are. With knowledge from the wisdom traditions, we can make wiser choices that can help us get back into alignment. We know how good being in balance makes us feel--clearer, stronger, and calmer--but we live busy lives. Getting a proper balance of food, exercise and rest for each of the four bodies can be a challenge. Wise choices are all about knowing when to stop one thing and start something else that is preferable or a higher priority right now. What may have been useful an hour ago becomes useless when it's time to stop. For example, overeating, no matter how healthy the food is, becomes unhealthy and causes imbalance. I'm recovering from the depression now, said Liam. And Jeanne and I and the whole family, it seems, are recovering from being estranged from each other in the very same home. Brandishing the weapon of helpfulness (I sometimes refer to it as helpaholism), sharpened with unrealistic expectations and resentment, made Liam difficult to tolerate, which he took as further reason to withdraw into defensiveness. Dominating other people triggers counterattacks that can become so common, they evolve into the norm. This goes to show how entrenched the pattern can become in relationships, families, and workplace dynamics, until the Clot steps back and realizes that he or she isn't being so helpful at all. It's odd to be so grateful for bottoming out so hard, concluded Liam. At a minimum, our feelings motivate us to get our basic needs met. Beyond that, emotions give us up-to-date and comprehensive information about what's happening in the world around us. Most of this goes on unconsciously, so it can be hard if not impossible to know when we're guarding ourselves from overwhelming emotions.

Anxiety, the overestimation of danger and the underestimation of our ability to cope, is especially common, but often hard to acknowledge, because our mind is geared to suppress our awareness of experiences that threaten our sense of self or our ability to function. People lie to be agreeable or to make us feel better about ourselves. What my research has shown is that lies occur regularly in every office. They occur regularly in every living room, in every bedroom, they occur regularly in conversations between strangers and conversations between friends. [A key] misconception is that we are relentless truth seekers. It turns out that in many cases we accept and even embrace the lies of others. In some cases, it is simply expedient to accept others' lies. And when lies are consistent with the way we wish to view ourselves as smart, competent, successful people, we're often motivated to believe the lies to which we are exposed. 1 There is obviously a wide range of lies, from those that smooth out a social interaction all the way to calculated deception designed to mislead. Lying can also include omission, withholding on purpose, sometimes with nefarious intent and sometimes for lack of courage. The reasons had little to do with the fact that he was an esteemed, conscientious scientist and collaborator. No, he was lauded for showing that the water in Delhi was dangerous. He had brought infamy to India. The fact that NDM-1 was not just limited to Indian patients but was of global concern, or that patients in or from Pakistan were also carrying the antibiotic-resistant bacteria mattered little. The Indian medical tourism industry was in trouble, and that was all Pakistan needed to celebrate. In a formal ceremony held in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2012, Walsh was honored by the mayor of the city. The fact that bacteria ignores borders and nationalist histories simply went unmentioned. An unassuming memorial to the worldwide search for a medical miracle, the cure to bacterial infections, currently sits about six miles from central Tokyo. There you will find a small shrine, across from the tall buildings that make up Kitasato University Hospital.

Like the university and hospital, the shrine also recalls Shibasaburo Kitasato, a world-renowned physician and bacteriologist. Now, I feel a bit more energized or motivated. If authentic self- esteem helps us effectively deal with stress as well as act as a positive motivational force for living a better life, then there is value in helping people increase their supply of this vital psychological resource. I often use an analogy to help my students and clients understand the existential and psychological importance of authentic self- esteem. It is that self- esteem may be likened to going on a long journey through a desert while carrying a bucket of water. In this case, the desert represents the trials and tribulations of life, and the water stands for the self- esteem that will sustain us through difficult periods until we can reach the next oasis. To continue the analogy, authentic self- esteem is most desirable because it is potable, dependable, and sustaining. Low or defensive self- esteem are poorer vital supplies because they carry risk, such as scarcity or contamination. Because genuine self- esteem is a precious resource on a journey as long as the life cycle, it behooves the traveler to remember that managing self- esteem well is important. After al , a stumble can cause a spill that slows a journey down, and too many mishaps can lead to a nasty end of one type or another. In addition to caring for the bucket as a container, it is also important to refresh it each time we encounter a potential source of self- esteem. Sitting at your computer working on a project for too long can cause back and neck issues simply because you didn't stop for a break to stand up, stretch and walk around the room. Another example is over-analyzing an issue until you can't decide what to do and you won't take action. Being connected, aligned and balanced is a natural state. The way to maintain alignment and balance, so we are connected, powerful, strong, happy and fulfilled is to know when to stop one thing and do something else. Not too much and not too little. Remember, the essence of measure and balance is knowing when to stop. To provide appropriate daily food, exercise and rest for the whole person, and know when to stop one activity and move on to another requires presence, wisdom and discriminating choices. With practice (and you will soon learn some practices you can use), this becomes a natural, enriching and stress-free way to live and thrive. I was working on my next radio show on my laptop in a local cafe in Sydney.

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