"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Friday, January 29, 2010

Could Super Achievers Be Driven by Low Self-Esteem?

A super achiever with low self esteem? Sounds more like an oxymoron than anything else. And yet if we take a closer look at what drives the super achiever, we may find precisely a lack of appreciation and recognition of value of the self. What does a person who is driven to achieve success after success actually get in return? A sense of accomplishment you might say…the satisfaction of having arrived at a sought-after goal…the pleasure of success. All of these possibilities are indeed, correct. And many achievers achieve for those reasons. But many others do not.

Many others are driven instead by a need for recognition…a need for appreciation…a need for approval…a need for applause…a need for respect from others…a need for, in other words, an outer admiration and positive reception of the self. Being driven, in other words, by this acknowledgment of the self from others, from an external source, rather than by the intrinsic, internal, self-propelled feeling of achievement.

When the feeling comes from the inside, it is an affirmation of what the individual already knows and believes about him or herself. When, however, the need for the feeling can only be fulfilled by an outer, external source, then it is because the individual does not believe in his or her own value, merit, and worth. This can be a critical situation for the self, because under these circumstances it is forever doomed to seek what it needs by achieving more and more, greater and higher success, in order to assure itself the admiration it requires in order to simply feel good about itself.

The solution to this rather untenable predicament is not as difficult as it may appear at first glance. Often the “comfort zone” (also see Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Fear of Emotional Expression) is an important factor. Another is the realization that one seeks external approval or recognition by achieving in order to feel good. The next step is to realize that without the external approval one never feels as good about oneself as with it. Next comes the question why this might be so and the rather evident answer that it involves one’s sense of self esteem. If this sense of self esteem were on a healthy level, one would not need the external recognition, because then one would offer this sense of recognition to oneself, by oneself. And therein lies the final step to the solution: working on one’s sense of self esteem by giving to oneself all of the approval and accolades one would give to another who does or achieves as oneself does. In other words, treat, admire, and respect yourself as well as you would treat your most dearly beloved partner, friend, child, or admired associate. You deserve it and you are worth it!

Photo: "El Arco" Cabo San Lucas, Baja California

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Accountability, Contribution, Growth & Abundance

Those key words from the title of this post were the guidelines for a recent global conference Engage Today that took place in Calgary, organized by Greg Habstritt and his partner.

At the conference, some of the speakers were His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Tony Hsieh, Eben Pagan, Bill Harris, Barbara De Angelis, David Wolfe, Les Brown, Brendon Burchard and many others ...

Honestly ... I was sceptical when I received the email about viewing the video of an overview of the highlights from the conference, and perhaps only because the Dalai Lama was in the list, did I actually begin to watch it, my hand hovering over the mouse to X out the website at the first sign of pushy salesmanship.

I watched it to the end. That's how good it is. In the spirit of my post yesterday, we find this sentence on the website: Engage Today showed the world how you can truly “do well by doing good“.

I can't embed the video here on the blog, so get yourself over there and watch it yourself here

Photo: Tahiti Sunset

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do Good and Feel Great

Happiness is once again proven to be less elusive than many think. Do something good for someone else and you will feel good. You might say it's almost selfish to do something good for another due to the additional good feelings you get into the bargain...

An excellent article in the NY Times by Nicholas D. Kristof, based in part on University of Virginia psychology professor Jonathan Haidt's fascinating book The Happiness Hypothesis, points this out:

"... nobility can lead to happiness ... one thing that can make a lasting difference to your contentment is to work with others on a cause larger than yourself.

I see that all the time. I interview people who were busy but reluctantly undertook some good cause because (sigh!) it was the right thing to do. Then they found that this “sacrifice” became a huge source of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Brain scans by neuroscientists confirm that altruism carries its own rewards. A team including Dr. Jorge Moll of the National Institutes of Health found that when a research subject was encouraged to think of giving money to a charity, parts of the brain lit up that are normally associated with selfish pleasures like eating or sex.

The implication is that we are hard-wired to be altruistic. To put it another way, it’s difficult for humans to be truly selfless, for generosity feels so good.

“The most selfish thing you can do is to help other people,” says Brian Mullaney, co-founder of Smile Train, which helps tens of thousands of children each year who are born with cleft lips and cleft palates. Mr. Mullaney was a successful advertising executive, driving a Porsche and taking dates to the Four Seasons, when he felt something was missing and began volunteering for good causes. He ended up leaving the business world to help kids smile again — and all that makes him smile, too."

Photo: Binningup Beach, Australia

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Not Stop Believing in Your Limitations?

How can I stop believing in my limitations is what is most likely going through your head, maybe even in derision at the author's naiveté at believing such a thing is even possible...

Let me put it to you like this: how much of your psychic energy does it take to continue to believe in your limitations? (I'm using the word 'psychic' in the sense of inner energy, as opposed to physical energy). Could you agree with me that it might take an equal amount of energy to sustain another kind of belief? One that holds that your limitation is not one.

If you believe you can't run a marathon (assuming you have use of your legs), you can't, right? But what might happen if you began to believe you could?

If you believe you can't return to university at 43, you can't, right? But what might happen if you began to believe you could?

I imagine you get my drift. When you believe something about yourself it may be due to any number of reasons, some of which are:
  • upbringing and your parents' beliefs
  • having tried something once, not having succeeded, and then having decided that you will never be able to do it
  • things society says about people like you (whatever that means)
  • never having challenged the belief
  • knowing - somewhere deep inside of you - that as long as you believe in your limitation, you don't have to risk trying something you haven't tried before
So what would happen if you decided to believe in different things than the ones (or at least some of the ones) you have believed in up to now? In other words, invest the energy you currently invest in believing in your limitations in believing that you can overcome your limitations.

Reinforcing one type of belief is just as difficult in one direction as in the other one. Or just as easy. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your Ability to Change Anything You Want

Here is the program that was offered on PBS with Wayne Dyer about his book Excuses Begone!

Youtube shows portions of it in 13 segments, of which I have embedded the first two here:

Segment 1 of 13:

Segment 2 of 13:

In order to view all the segments, click here

Once again, I am uncertain why these things are on the internet ... perhaps they are there illegally, although as I understand it, Youtube has a policy about uploading such programs ... at any rate, here it is ... I have the audio CD and it is wonderful. Give it a listen and begin to change those things about your life that you are not happy about.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why Does My Partner Treat Me Like This?

The eternal cry of the broken heart; the eternal cry of the emotionally abused person; the eternal cry of the person who feels the pain, the frustration, the jealousy, the violent emotions that are the result of living with someone who treats them in ways that are less than loving.

Agonizing Pain

The type of pain that ensues from such a relationship leaves no doubt in anyone's mind (especially anyone who has experienced it) that it is agonizing in its sheer numbing - or hysteria-producing - effects. No one would deliberately wish this upon anyone else, and if we have a friend or family member who is currently going through such a situation, we can almost feel their pain, and we would generally do anything to get them out of that horrific place in their minds and hearts into which they have been placed due to their unfeeling or cruel partner.

Because that is the reason for their pain, right? They currently have or they had in the past a relationship with someone who simply did not treat them correctly, someone who was abusive (whether the abuse is emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual makes no difference) or emotionally unavailable or addicted to some substance, etc. And because of this partner, they are now going through the gates of hell on earth.

Because that is the reason for their pain, right?


Your Partner’s Dysfunctions

At least it's wrong insofar as the culprit – the one to be faulted – the one at whose door we can lay all the blame for such suffering - is the partner. He/she perpetrated those dastardly deeds and caused such grief and pain due to his/her cruelty, coldness, dysfunctionality, twistedness, etc. We could surely come up with a long string of additional adjectives to describe the kind of behaviour this type of personality evinces.

So what is wrong with this picture?

Innocence & Guilt

No one is pretending that the guilty party is behaving properly. No one is saying that the way they are treating the innocent party is right. What we are saying is this: as long as the "innocent" party is saying (to the world or to the self) that he/she is in this situation of suffering and pain due to the actions of the other, i.e. the "guilty" party, no one, including the "innocent" party, will get anywhere that might be called an improved state of being.

Let me say that again – because this is the most important concept in this entire article: as long as the "innocent" party believes that he/she is in this horrible situation due to the actions of the other, no one, including the "innocent" party, will get anywhere that might be called an improved state of being.


This is so because as long as the hurt person does not take responsibility for their hurt (as the dysfunctional party ought to take responsibility for their own cruel or cold behavior), the hurt person will not improve his life. Oh, he might get a divorce, she might get a court settlement, he might get custody of the kids or the house, or anything at all that on the surface seems to even out the erstwhile imbalance in this relationship of inequalities, but that has nothing to do with repairing the inner damage.

I cannot emphasize enough how important this point is. Walking away from behaviour - on the part of another person - that is not acceptable, is a very important first step. But walking away and continuing to look at the situation from a blame perspective is simply not enough. Not only is it not enough, it is conducive to perpetuating the pattern in the next relationship and the one after that, and so on. Some people come to my practice and tell me this is a question of their bad luck in choosing partners unwisely.

The Way We Grow

Well, in a way we could agree that it is...but much more importantly, it is a question of their not taking responsibility for their own role in the affair. Careful, this is not about blaming themselves. This is about realizing that - as Jung might have put it - the incredible intelligence of the psyche has led them - over and over again - to be attracted to individuals and hence enter into relationship with them, who will cause them such pain and frustration in specific areas of their lives, that if they choose to do so, these situations can be used to grow as individuals and to overcome the challenge of this particular lifetime.

Filling Holes and Creating Balance

To overcome the challenge ... you might say we all have a mission in life (and here I am not referring to the life purpose or mission with regards to the mark one can leave, but to the mission with regards to the self, with growing the self, with Giving Birth To Yourself, so to overcome the challenge we need to begin to understand the foibles, the unhealthy parts, the dysfunctionalities of this lifetime that we have chosen to work on.

So that means that we would need to look at those bits of ourself that we seek to fill through the other. What attracts us to another at the outset? What do we fall in love with? Because it is precisely there where we can see what is not whole in ourselves. And if we have been able to identify that, then we are in a position to understand where we have to work on ourselves; where we have to fill our own lagunae, our own holes, rather than trying to find safety through another. Many of the articles indicated throughout this one, address this particular issue in greater depth, because it – the why we fall in love with specific individuals - is germane to understanding this problem that besets most of us in almost all of our relationships (even those that are not painful or difficult).

Jewels in Our Lives

If you look at it from that point of view, the fact that someone in your life is pushing you to the limit, causing you pain and frustration, might be regarded as something akin to a jewel. (I can already hear the invectives that are being hurled my way for that last sentence). Your partner could be viewed as a jewel. Only - I hasten to add - because he/she has been the instrument that has brought you to this point of frustration or pain; only because by coming to this point, you want to go no further in that direction of negativity, but want to resolve this issue in your life once and for all. And so you begin to look at yourself and your role in accepting such pain. Not to blame yourself, but to learn how you can grow beyond such feelings and hence never need to experience them again. Once you've been through the measles you don't get them again, right?

Relationship With the Self

But - and I know I'm repeating myself here - I need to reiterate over and over again: this is only achieved if you look at the self, if you commune with the self, if you pull responsibility for all your thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions, and reactions into yourself. This offers freedom, this offers growth, and you are the only one who can do it for you.

See also No One Can Control Your Emotions and search my blog under emotions or relationships.

My website offers many articles related to this subject, but in particular, you may wish to look at these (click here to access any of these articles):

• Emotional Unavailability: An Introduction
• I Need You ... I Need You Not: Does Love Imply Needing?
• The Mirror of Relationships
• Do Your Relationship Boundaries Contribute to Your Well-being?
• Finding it Hard to Love Yourself? Check Out Your Boundaries
• Tending the Inner Garden
• Losing the Connection

Photo: Hai Island, Thailand

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vitamin D & Chronic Diseases

A friend (who writes a wonderful blog about adoption - in Spanish - Adopción por Dentro) encouraged me to read Dr. Ben Kim's health newsletter. And it is truly to be recommended. Recently he posted a video about Dr. Michael Holick in which he discusses Vitamin D and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Please watch it. If you hadn't already read an earlier post here on my blog about the topic, especially with regards to cancer prevention, at least watch this video:

If you have any difficulty viewing it, please go to the original website by clicking here

In the excellent post by Dr. Ben Kim, where I originally read about this, he goes on to mention the main points Dr. Holick makes about Vitamin D:
  • Vitamin D is essential to building and maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. 
  • There is a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of requiring a C-section. 
  • In addition to taking a multivitamin (typically containing 400 IU of vitamin D) and getting some vitamin D from meals, pregnant women should be taking a minimum of 1000 IU of vitamin D per day. 
  • If you give lactating women between 4000 and 6000 IUs of vitamin D per day, through breastfeeding alone, their babies can get all of the vitamin D that they need. 
  • Infants need vitamin D at birth. 
  • There aren't too many foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D. Oily fish like wild salmon contain about 500 to 1000 IUs per serving (3.5 ounces), so you would have to eat salmon almost every day to barely get enough vitamin D to meet all of your needs.  
  • Wild salmon get their vitamin D from the food chain, where it's abundant. Food pellets that are fed to farmed salmon don't contain vitamin D, so farmed salmon typically provide 100 to 250 IU of vitamin D per serving, which is only 10 to 25% of the vitamin D found in wild salmon. 
  • In the summer, UV-B rays from the sun can create all of the vitamin D that we need if we get some exposure on our skin. 
  • In the winter, the further away we get from the equator, the less chance we have of being exposed to UV-B rays to make vitamin D in our skin. For example, in Boston, you can make all the vitamin D that you need in the spring, summer, and fall months, but from about November to February, you can't make any at all from sunlight exposure. 
  • Above 35 degrees north latitude and below 35 degrees south, you can't make any vitamin D from sunlight exposure from November to February. 
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight increases risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, which is relatively easy to detect and treat if detected early enough. 
  • Using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will decrease your ability to make vitamin D via sunlight exposure by 99%. 
  • The key to responsible use of sunlight to ensure optimal vitamin D status is to make sure that you don't get sunburned. 
  • Getting enough sunlight (1 MED) to create a light pinkness in skin tone creates around 20,000 IU of vitamin D in your system. 
  • Aging decreases our ability to produce vitamin D via sunlight. A 70-year old has a 70% reduced ability to produce vitamin D via sunlight compared to a 20-year old. So the older we get, the more likely it is that we will need to get some of our vitamin D from supplementation. 
  • Obesity increases the need for vitamin D intake and/or creation via sunlight because storage of vitamin D in fat cells reduces the amount of vitamin D that's available to the rest of the body. 
  • For most people and locations, during the summer, a good amount of sunlight exposure is 5 to 15 minutes on the arms and legs, two to three times a week. After this amount of time, sunscreen can be used to help prevent premature aging and increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer. 
  • People with darker skin tone need significantly more sunlight than Caucasians to produce optimal vitamin D levels. 
  • The best blood test to assess vitamin D status is 25 hydroxy D. 
  • Dr. Holick believes that most people (adults and kids) should be supplementing with a minimum of 1000 IU of vitamin D per day in addition to the vitamin D found in a multivitamin and a couple servings of foods that contain vitamin D. 
  • Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common among all races, even in the summer. 
  • Many people that exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia may actually have osteomalacia, which is caused by vitamin D deficiency. 
  • Higher levels of vitamin D (within the normal range) are associated with optimal lower extremity function (healthy bones and muscles in your legs). 
  • Optimal vitamin D status reduces risk of fracture as you age. 
  • You want your 25 hydroxy D level to be above 30 ng/ml. The optimal range is likely between 50 and 60 ng/ml. 
  • For every 100 IU of vitamin D that you ingest, you raise your blood level by 1 ng/ml. 
  • Optimal vitamin D status is associated with a decreased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bless You!

How often do you get upset or angry enough, in order to think of a word that's not very kind - to say the least - about the person who has just caused your anger? Maybe even angry enough to say or think f--k you!

Today's post is merely a reminder. I imagine you've heard this before.

There are two points I want to make:

  1. The feelings that arise in you due to another's words or actions, are yours. So life is throwing you a little gift when those feelings of anger arise, in order that you look at something inside of you. (Don't think I am saying whatever is said or done is ok, or that you are somehow responsible for it ... all I am saying is that when those feelings arise, by looking inside, you might be able to figure something out about yourself. Such as, for example, that perhaps you need to say something without losing your cool in order to let the other person know that what they have said or done is totally not acceptable...

  2. But the other point, the main point of today's post, is that you have the choice to merely think (or say) bless you. You can still go down the other road described in the first point, but if you are so close to expressing an expletive, saying bless you may just keep you from doing so. Then you can go away and think about the whole thing. Perhaps next time, you'll be able to address the matter in a healthy way, or the time after that. But in the meantime, you've done something good for your own energy (maybe even the other person's energy), by saying bless you. And remember, you can apply it to the guy who squeezes past you in traffic, or the customer service person who is obtuse or rude on the phone, etc.

It's like having the perfect solution to all those nasty impulses that you have when someone is out of line. Sooner or later you'll find other ways of dealing with these situations. But right now, saying bless you when you are riled, will begin to bring you to a better place in your life.

Try it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Aging & Wisdom

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” William James
“Respond intelligently... even to unintelligent treatment.” Lao Tzu
"We are as happy as we make up our minds to be." Abraham Lincoln
"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it." Confucius

Life span theorist (with an emphasis on cognitive plasticity in old age) Paul Baltes of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, wrote much about what has been termed the "Berlin Wisdom Paradigm". This holds that as we age - even into our 80's and beyond - we (may) become wise, although this depends on a series of factors:
  • Rich factual knowledge about life – on topics such as human nature, behaviour and development and social norms 
  • Rich procedural knowledge about life – for example, having processes for decision making through weighing up pros and cons, including emotional content
  • Life span contextualisation, for example knowledge of different life stages, and the impacts of significant events/periods of life
  • Value relativism and tolerance, appreciating difference and having sensitivity 
  • Understanding that not everything is certain, and having ways to deal well with, or live with, uncertainty (Source)
(Baltes helped pioneer life-span developmental theory, which argues that in order to understand, say, a 60-year-old person, you need to take into account the individual’s biology, psychology and sociological context at various stages of life, as well as the cultural and historical era in which he or she lived. Source)

Indeed, together with his partner Margaret Balten, Paul Baltes wrote in "Harvesting the Fruits of Age: Growing Older, Growing Wise":

"The good news of old age even includes some aspects of psychological functioning where there is hope for age-associated advance in functioning. Two examples are emotional intelligence and wisdom. In emotional intelligence, that is, the ability to understand the causes of emotions (such as hate, love, or anxiety) and the ways to control and use them effectively for problem solving, we seem to improve with age. This improvement is particularly noticeable when difficult interpersonal problems of life are involved."

"The second example of an instance of positive aging and a new frontier of mastery is wisdom. Historically, wisdom is the peak of human excellence, the perfect integration of knowledge and character. In extensive research being conducted at the Berlin Max Planck Institute for Human Development, wisdom is defined as "expert knowledge about life in general and good judgement and advice about how to conduct oneself in the face of complex, uncertain circumstances." New York Times

"Our research results have supported the notion that wisdom is a domain where older adults can excel. Older adults in particular seem to have acquired the dispositions and skills to benefit from such social exchanges with others to solve the dilemmas of life. Here may lie the foundation for the many success stories of grandfathers, grandmothers, and older mentors who are able to express warmth, understanding, and guidance."

"For us, such findings on the age-friendliness of wisdom-related knowledge and skills are cause for optimism. Only during the last century have so many people reached old age. With more and more people living longer, and thus — at least potentially — growing wiser and wiser, who is to say what the aging mind may contribute to the future?"

To this end, and to further understand these concepts in more manageable, laymen-like terms, I offer two articles from the New York Times:
And for anyone who delights in a slightly more academic approach:
Photo: Chad