Monthly Archives: February 2015

Diet, stress and anxiety

A danger in any therapy practice is if a therapist only focuses on one aspect of the problem – usually the one (s)he is specialized in. While most emotional issues have at least some psychological components that can be addressed through therapy, it’s important to notice other possibilities that should be taken in consideration as well.

Our physical bodies and emotional lives are not independent of each other – physical issues can create or enhance emotional problems, as well as the other way around. A common example is when people under physical stress are less able to control their immature emotional urges. Did you experience being tired, hungry or sleepy, and lashing out at people around you? Even such common, everyday stress can deplete our bodies of energy needed for suppressing immature emotions or keeping them in line.

What happens if the stress is less easy to notice and recover from? PMS in women is one of the obvious examples – and there are many others that might not be so obvious. I worked with a couple some years back; the woman complained that the man was irritable, disinterested and lacked focus. We worked on some of their disagreements in values, expectations, communication and underlying transference, and while it certainly did bring improvement, the real breakthrough only happened when the man went to a health check. It turned out his thyroid was malfunctioning. After receiving medication, his emotional balance returned quickly and easily. This didn’t resolve all of the issues in their partnership, but it certainly made them much easier to work with.

Another client, who carried huge emotional burdens from childhood, reported great improvements after therapy – and an extra important improvement happened when she removed processed sugar from her diet. She told me that her moods were much more stable now, and while childhood issues were certainly important to work with (and we continued to do so) it was easier to deal with them when her body was also more balanced. Food allergies and sensitivities can have emotional consequences too.

Lack of nutrition or other physical imbalance can also cause or enhance emotional symptoms. Your body might feel in crisis even if you wouldn’t consciously notice. Modern extreme diets, which often remove whole groups of foods from one’s diet, usually bring temporary relief (which I’m convinced is mostly due to eliminating processed foods – something that every diet has in common), but after a while, nutritional imbalance causes huge stress for the body – and that stress can show as emotional symptoms.

This is equally true about vegan diets and very low carb diets (which often remove not just bread and pasta, but even fruit, legumes and root vegetables from one’s menu) – to name just a few. Vegans might develop anemia, for example, which can worsen in menstruating women. Such women can experience anxiety and depression on top of physical symptoms. Low carb diets might cause glucose imbalance, which in turn can lead to thyroid and adrenal problems – both strongly related to emotional symptoms. That’s what happens when we trust very limited, one-dimensional research data or even just other people’s theories rather than our own bodies.

Some people keep “pushing their bodies around” in search for a perfect body; from one diet to another, from one strict exercising regime to another, with occasional unhealthy binges on processed food in between. I can easily imagine that years of such bodily stress might cause chronic anxiety and other emotional symptoms. I will not advise you to just accept unhealthy weight if you have it – it’s always better to strive towards health than to give it up – but, by all means,  keep some sense of balance and treat your body with respect and kindness. Nature is all about constantly re-creating complex balance. We humans keep on thinking that we can cheat and “hack” nature by one extreme practice or the other – but nature always wins in the end.

If you are a therapist, you might feel that it endangers your practice and income if you warn people about potential solutions that have nothing to do with your area of expertise. Well, perhaps you will lose a couple of sessions a month – but there are more than enough family imbalance and childhood trauma floating around to keep you busy. And everybody who acts with integrity, makes the world just a little bit better. It always makes me feel warm inside when I see articles on internet that radiate thoughtfulness and respect for people rather than manipulation and confidence without competence. I strive to be one of such authors. I never had cause to regret it.

 

My 2 cents about chemtrails

A few years ago, the idea of chemtrails (conspiracy theory which claims that condensation trails left by airplanes are full of dangerous chemicals deliberately sprayed to damage, manipulate and enslave people) was rather unknown and promoted by only a handful of people. These days, when I look at my Facebook homepage (I know, it’s Facebook, but still…), chemtrails are all over the place. Many people talk about them as casually as about weather, as something obvious and proven true. If I try to challenge such comments with logical questions, the reactions are often angry or condescending; some people claim that I’m “in denial”, “lazy” or “refuse to see the obvious”. So I’ll write some of my thoughts here, in hope that whoever reads them is willing to think rather than believe.

According to some promoters of chemtrails theory, such harmful spraying is a common practice all around the world. It actually doesn’t stop with airplanes; the conspiracy is supposed to include things like huge radars which emit harmful frequencies, geoengineering and other practices. But, let’s keep it simple and stay with chemtrails only.

First of all, such practice would demand huge resources and huge number of people involved: factories to produce such chemicals, people who would organize and execute packing, distribution, fueling airplanes and actual spraying. Let’s say that a number of manual workers might be oblivious of the true purpose of their jobs; it still leaves a lot of people who are aware of what’s going on. These people all have children, families or at least friends out there. Hell, they themselves have to go outside and breathe the air that we share. Don’t you think there would be whistle blowers? Even less harmful practices have whistle blowers. Or are we supposed to believe that there are so many socially isolated psychopaths out there who all stay at home with gas masks all the time and never experience spring or summer outside? Or that they are all given magic pills to counter those chemicals (more resources, more people involved) so that they could go outside?

You could say that all the media keep rejecting and downplaying such reports because of fear or corruption. If it was so, wouldn’t the media also avoid or downplay Edward Snowden or the Wikileaks affair, for example? Quite the opposite, the media jumped on those affairs with delight. Such stories are fresh meat for media; they are what brings most profit. Media are often willing to promote them even without enough proof, even at a risk of loosing a little bit of credibility. If there was anybody with actual reasonable data about chemtrails, media would fight over them.

Let’s think about some technical aspects next. Obviously, the more developed a country, the more efficient and common such high-tech practices would be. As a result, the people in highly developed countries would be more docile, more manipulable, more afraid to speak against the government; less creative and less individualistic. Yet if you take a look into what is going on around the globe, it’s people in undeveloped countries who are likely to be easier to manipulate (religious manipulation, for example), less independent, more traditional and more afraid. It comes with fight for survival, lack of resources and lack of available education, of course.

There is something seductively pleasant in having some vaguely defined “others” to blame and be angry at; to feel like a victim of some powerful, soulless entity; to feel righteous and clean-handed. My therapist’s brain immediately seeks for connections with early childhood feelings, and I can find many: feeling helpless, feeling controlled by whims of powerful people, feeling excluded from vitally important decisions…

Indeed, most people I know who believe in chemtrails also have huge unresolved issues with their parents. Don’t most of us, though? Yes, so this observation is just a theory of mine, but I’m letting it out here in case somebody might want to consider where their anger comes from.

My primary worry is that in wasting energy on such far-fetched theories that make no logical sense, we are drawn away from real problems that we could do something about: pollution, poverty, discrimination, social injustice, wars… These are things that we could take some responsibility for and do some things, however small, to improve the situation. The problem is, with such problems, we are all responsible. We are all accomplices. It’s easier to blame somebody else.

If you believe in chemtrails, I’m not seeking to change your mind. I just want to make it clear that blaming other people for not believing in the same things as you, or trying to change their minds just by expecting them to believe anybody’s word, doesn’t make sense. I don’t have problems with believing in conspiracies that include a small number of powerful individuals with a limited scope of personal gain. But a conspiracy that includes whole professions all across the Earth, which would themselves be harmed by their own actions…  it doesn’t fulfill my criteria of reasonable. There is plenty of pain in the world that is real and that we could do something about. Let’s do something about it.

Internal issues and external solutions

Even when we are well aware that our strong emotions might be awakened memories from childhood, we might still find it very difficult to focus inwards to resolve those emotions. The urge to blame people around us and seek to change or control them can be overpowering. Why is it so difficult to recognize the truth even after spending much energy in vain, causing stress to ourselves and others by trying to change who they are? Even if we know that the real cause of our emotions is probably in our pasts?

As babies and toddlers, it’s our biological instinct to turn to other people to solve our problems. Hungry? Mommy will nurse you. Peed yourself? They will change your diapers. Bored? Scream energetically enough and they will do their best to amuse you. Tired? They will do just about anything to avoid waking you up and enjoy some well deserved peace. Even children of toxic parents inevitably learn that sooner or later, no matter how much pain and struggle experienced in the meantime, at least their basic needs would be fulfilled by others. Thus the biological instinct is reinforced and grows into an emotional habit.

When we age regress into childish emotions, this instinct can be awakened alongside them. Age regression includes forgetting or temporarily losing touch with our adult resources. What would be more natural in such a state than to turn to the solutions experienced in childhood? Thus we may once again feel as if our emotional well-being or even survival depends of those around us. This essentially means that we confuse other people around us with our parents.

This is visible in many parts of adults’ lives. People try to solve their emotional problems through all kinds of external means. For some people, money can be a weird substitute for parents, as it provides safety, comfort and toys (often other people’s attention, too). Others might turn to religion (heavenly father), magic or New Age bioenergy theories. Food can be a temporary emotional comfort, reminding us of the pleasure of being fed on our mothers’ breasts.

Where this instinct of seeking external solutions is most obvious, are intimate relationships. They are often created as substitutes for parent-child relationships from the start, and when problems arise and we regress into childish states, it can be extremely difficult to take responsibility for our feelings. The old instincts from childhood awaken again and we can start expecting our partners to provide solutions – which usually means expecting them to change.

It never rains but pours – and usually in an intimate relationship, both people experience childish states from time to time. This means that both start demanding the other to change. The problem is, even if our partner tries to change, the childish parts of us will always want more – just like, as children, we always needed more from our parents.

Depending of how much time people spend in such states, their relationships will deteriorate and they will start accumulating resentment. If good communication skills are lacking, too, a crisis is almost inevitable. If an age-regressed state is intense, it can take exceptional self-awareness and responsibility to avoid blaming your partner and pull yourself back into an adult frame of mind.

I hope this can help you understand an aspect of relationship behavior which very few people are aware of. Simple understanding won’t bring automatic change – but it might help you deal with your childish issues in the moments when this is most important.