Wednesday, 15 July 2020

She's stupid and cold

I frequently pose this question to parents who are afraid to let go: How do you expect your child to be an adult if you never let them learn how? Mothers and fathers are accompanying children to college, job interviews, and salary negotiations. As the Journal of Adolescence noted recently, attempts at [parental] control are linked to negative child outcomes in emerging adulthood. How sad life would be if, like some believe, all the hard work and accomplishments of women and men are done just to attract the best partner to have kids with. Thankfully the dependency to leave behind children has less hold on us today than it once did. Like the Greek hero, Achilles, who chose to leave his mark through his deeds than by raising a family. Humans today can more clearly see that it's their innovations, not their children that can give that immortality after death that Achilles sought. In time, as more people realize this the religious' monopoly on life after death will melt away, replaced by humans living on in the innovation they leave behind. An engraving may show up on tombstones of the future like below. Akiro Endo discovered statin drugs which have saved the lives of 5 million people and counting, yet he never earned a dollar for it. He said, I did not start the research to make money or become a big man. Since I was born as a human in this world, I wanted to leave my mark before I die. I want to die after I do at least one thing useful for the world. In this second space, each day presented challenges, and days in which he coped relatively successfully with them felt much like the good days of the past. To survive, he explained, it was critical to spend as much time as possible in the second space and as little as possible in the first. The way this individual was able to accomplish what he did involved, in William James's words, taking possession of the mind--or focused attention. All of us are capable of this feat, although much effort and commitment may be required. One reason it can feel exhausting to resist depressing pessimistic ruminations about our illness (or to focus on the silver lining) is that these efforts can deplete our vital energy and mental resources. Hence, some researchers argue that we should regularly give our attention a breather. Nature's peace.

One intriguing suggestion for how we can rest our attention when we find ourselves mentally taxed, thereby shoring up our capacity to maintain focus on the things that make us happy (or at least less unhappy), is to spend more time in or around nature. Researchers have found that when we experience natural environments--sitting under an oak tree, viewing a sunset, or even browsing through nature photos--our attention is captivated through our senses (smelling the ocean, picking out the colors of a rainbow), which requires little or no mental effort and allows for reflection. It's not surprising, then, that unnatural (typically urban) environments, with all their powerful and ubiquitous distractions, are not very peaceful or relaxing. The Benefits Close, committed relationships--whether our first marriage, remarriage, or living apart together--provide us with a sense of ontological security. A close relationship is therapeutic, for it gives us an opportunity to take off the Superman mask of always being invulnerable. We are allowed to stop performing, if only temporarily. Inside committed relationships--marriage, gay partnerships, and even close dating friendships--we come to judge ourselves and others less severely than is typically possible in men's public world, which constantly involves one-upmanship competition. We soften a bit. We feel better about ourselves and our lives, experience fewer stress hormones, and are happier. Ironically, the benefits of a close, committed relationship weren't always self-evident when we were younger and establishing ourselves in the workplace and as husbands and fathers. These career and family distractions from being a full-fledged partner ease as we move into our sixties--when workplace challenges are usually ritualized, children have moved away, and tuition payments are history. When men recouple, either by actually repartnering after divorce or becoming a widower, or by consciously renewing the glue that makes up the we in a long-term, first marriage, the pleasures of being within and part of a relationship are heightened. Their questions are pertinent, allowing me to explain aspects that needed clarification. I feel very relieved that it's over and that I made it through successfully. I congratulate myself for managing my fear and anxiety. Step 4: Plan Coping Strategies for Each Stress Point Most anxiety-provoking situations are made up of several combined stresses. In Dave's case, the stresses that contributed to his anxiety included the pressure of an audience, his own doubts about the content of his presentation, and his discomfort with appearing uneasy and scared. One of the main goals in writing out a narrative and identifying the stress points is to demystify the sources of anxiety.

If you can see the situation as a combination of smaller stresses, your anxiety will be much easier to understand and manage. Anxiety reactions have two basic components: a physiological stress response and thoughts that interpret a situation as dangerous. Therefore, coping imagery must include a method of physical relaxation as well as a set of statements that are calming and reassuring to you. She was right. Big Bertha Big Mouth was a creation of my psyche, based on an aspect of myself I couldn't accept. Through this guided visualization she was able to express herself and teach me a great lesson. It took me months to fully integrate my experience. Everything about her was so real, so pure, so natural. How could this person be part of my subconscious? Where did she come from, how could she be so wise? I kept asking myself these questions. I wanted more of Bertha even though I had been so resistant to accepting her. Slowly, I gathered the courage to get to the back of my bus and meet some more people. The image that's usually used for sangha in Buddhist community is an image of everyone standing together and maintaining unconditional friendship. They are not leaning on each other. If someone falls, not everybody falls. At the basis of an enlightened or awakened society, there are individuals who are taking responsibility for their own escalations and spin-offs, their own judgments and prejudices. They are helping each other with kindness and compassion. They give food to those who are hungry, and they give help to those who are sick. By sharing your experiences on the path, you might be helping another person--not from an up-down position, but from friend to friend.

And sangha members do not have to live in the same place. You can pen pal with a fellow practitioner, or you talk on the phone. It is hard to go at this practice alone. That said, if the Body Scan is really working for you, by all means continue to practice it. Now that you're in the final weeks of pregnancy, my hope is that you've significantly slowed down your routine. If that's the case and you've been enjoying the Body Scan, I would try to start the day with this new mantra, then end it with a Body Scan. This month, the final month of your pregnancy, I'd like you to focus on occupying the present moment. During these final weeks, you may find yourself caught up in the calendar, watching the days and anticipating your baby's arrival. Keep in mind that due dates are not exact and that new mothers tend to deliver a few days to as much as a week or more later than predicted. Take this time to drink in your soon-to-be ending pregnancy and the transformative journey you've been on with your baby. Enjoy the peace and live in this moment. To practice this meditation, unwind using the beginning of the Five-Minute Reboot (article 55). Once settled, gently relax your breathing and, turning away from that awareness, repeat the following mantra, whether aloud or inside and to yourself: Certainly, we rarely have the chance to learn consistency from the example of our own parents. But unless we are consistent with our children, they learn nothing about consequences, and consequences are what much of life is about. I remember years ago having difficulty getting one of my daughters to keep her room clean. One time, I would yell about what a mess the room was, but do nothing about it. The next time, I would punish her. And the next time, I would clean the room myself. And the next time I would cry.

Finally, I realized that she could clean the room or not clean it, live by the rule or not. But I pointed out the consequences: as soon as you clean your room, you can go out to play; What I was trying to teach my daughter was that the consequences in her life are not created by the authority figure in her life. The authors conclude, It would seem that emerging adults should be personally invested in their own growth and development by solving their own problems with roommates, making their own decisions about employment, and seeking their own help from professors. By not doing so, emerging adults may be robbing themselves of the experiences and practice necessary to develop skills that are essential to success in marriage, careers and social interactions. In other words, until we step back and allow teenagers to live their own lives, surviving their own failures and earning their own triumphs, they won't get a chance to experience their own sense of competence, competence they will need in order to be successful in their jobs, families, and yes, even their marriages. When I asked parents with grown children about their experiences, many acknowledged just how hard it can be to let go. I had a terrible time letting my children fail. So much so that my son (who is now 35) wisely told me in his early teens that I had to let him fail. And to him that meant that I had to stop cringing when he did, because then he felt like his failing (rather than being a sign that he was stretching his boundaries) was a sign that he had not lived up to my expectations. He grew up believing that he should be perfect, and perfect meant that he never skinned a knee and never broke a sweat. The process of separating from us began for our children the moment we set them down on the kitchen floor and they took their first steps away from us. Kate sees that Mike, like many, seeks a relationship with her in order to become happy, rather than be happy with himself first before the relationship. Yet Kate is happy, even without him, as she is making something of her own. Philosopher David George Ritchie continues what we can now see is an obvious truth, An individual or a nation may do more for mankind by handing on ideas and a great example than by leaving numerous offspring. Certainly, the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men. Both in affection and means, they have married and endowed the public. Indiana Jones might come to mind when you hear the word archaeology, but few know that the field studies all that humans have made and left behind from the first recorded innovation to now. Starting an estimated 4 million years ago, with new discoveries regularly pushing this date backwards.

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