Ask Dr. Gayle Lotus Guide column July 2014 column
Q: I’m having trouble communicating with my girlfriend. Seems like we misunderstand each other. Solutions?
A: Do not use texting or email for emotional discussions!! Since 80% of communication is nonverbal, we need to see and hear to understand the full message.
Q: I haven’t had great success in selecting boyfriends. Suggestions?
A: We pick the familiar in terms of our childhood experiences with our parents, so work with a therapist to identify your patterns. When you find yourself attracted to the old type, be very mindful and cautious. Men who have controlling dominating mothers tend to be withholding because of their fear of losing their masculinity, unless they’re open to working on their fears. Guys whose mothers expected them to share in family work and do their own laundry make good partners. Gorgeous men and women can get spoiled and expect their partners to do all the relationship work. You can also compare your natal astrology charts to see where connections tend to be easy or challenging. http://www.alwaysastrology.com/learn-astrology.html
Q: I’d like to age well, keep my energy and health up. Suggestions?
A: Daily exercise is an essential key to mental and physical health. I need to go to gym classes because I wouldn’t do yoga, Pilates or Pump for an hour on my own, while gardening provides sunlight and Vitamin D. You can buy a pedometer and aim to get in 10,000 steps a day. Fruits and veggies are essential too, along with fiber and healthy fats like olive oil or avocado. I cheat by including powdered greens and fruits in my smoothies. Having a clear purpose helps us live longer, including a feeling that you’re helping others along the way. For me, it’s writing books, doing energy work, and helping care for my little grandson. Gratitude is also uplifting. I thank my roses and veggies every time I pick them and I chant mantras when I’m gardening or driving. Structure in time for fun and nurturance, for me that’s dancing, hiking, and getting massages. Get ideas for increasing happiness from http://www.happify.com and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Scientists report that only 10% of our happiness is due to our circumstances such as wealth, while the rest is due to our attitude and activities interacting with our genetics. Worry and negative self-talk harm the immune system, as does repressing emotions. Take my Mind Power workshop at the Yoga Center to get ideas about how to stay balanced mentally and emotionally.
Q: How do I develop clairvoyant abilities?
A: My Essential Energy Tools book, CD and videos are a start. (Kids’ Mind Power is my CD for kids.)
Q: I’m in love with my toddler’s mother but we can’t live together. She’s always creating drama, often screaming and hitting me in front of our daughter. I want to be her rock but I want to get on with my life. I’m feeling like I should run away to an unknown place, far away, and just forget the reality. Sometimes it can be the small things in life that makes the whole cup to overflows. Some days, life just sucks so bad. Any hope for me?
A: Read about borderline personality disorder, then read about co-dependency to realize you probably can’t rescue such a neurotic person. For the sake of your daughter, I wouldn’t spend time with her mom because parental conflict damages kids. Make sure your daughter is in high quality childcare so she has structure and is observed by experts. If you feel like your ex is abusing your daughter, then you need to report it to child protective services and seek sole custody.
Q: It’s difficult for me to be assertive, to speak my own truth. How can I get braver?
A: Imagine matching the energy of an outspoken person such as Angelina Jolie. See some of her action movies to get the feeling of being powerful. Ground and center (see gaylekimball.info), and visualize speaking to people through a filter that clarifies and enhances your message. Assertiveness training workshops and books are available, as are self-defense classes that could teach courage. Start practicing standing up for yourself with small conflicts or misunderstandings and you’ll get stronger.
Q: I get tense about deadlines at work. How can I be more relaxed?
A: When ever you start to get tense, or every hour, breathe in for the count of 8, hold for 8, exhale like holding up a feather as long as it takes to empty your lungs, and don’t breathe for as long as comfortable. The latter resets the energy field, according to breath expert Gay Hendricks. Stretch and walk around to keep your body from getting tense, squat and stand (see Joan Vernikos, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals). Post relaxing pictures in your work space and imagine being in a beautiful place. See http://www.helpguide.org/mental/quick_stress_relief.htm
Q: A good friend of mine died suddenly. How can I cope with my grief?
A: You can still communicate with her, imagine conversing with her. Rituals are helpful in life transitions, so you might want to get together with friends and create a simple goodbye and celebration of his or her life. Hospitals offer grief workshops; it’s helpful to have a support group that understands what you’re going through. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is the expert on death and grief. She says, “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but, you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”
Q: I’m having procrastination problems big time. How can I get myself to take action?
A: Start with behavior modification: Give yourself rewards for taking action. Put one task that needs to be done on an index card with the steps to achieve it written on the back. Sort the cards by high priority and just focus on the high priority task so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Establish a routine where you allocate say an hour a day to work on the number one task. You’ll get more energy once you complete your goal. You can adopt the successful model of 12-step programs for addicts and find a buddy who can support you, check on you, and encourage you to get past the feeling of powerlessness. Also, talk to your inner child subpersonality who may be sabotaging your success. Imagine that you are having a conversation with an encouraging fairy godmother. What would she say to the recalcitrant child in you? Here’s a useful article on procrastination.
Q: My adult children are upset that I asked their drunk father to move out. They have drinking problems too.
A: Sometimes tough love is in order. Attend Al-Anon so you have support to continue doing the right thing by not enabling addiction. You have no obligation to spend time with adult addicts.
Q: I don’t have any hope for my future, no girlfriend, am a single dad with money issues and little free time after a physically tiring job. How can I feel better?
A: The billion hungry people on the planet would love to have your problems, as would infertile couples, and the unemployed. Write down one thing you’re grateful for each morning as studies show gratitude and meditation improves mood. Email me for my ebook on mental health remedies and check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s books and website. Avoid depressants like alcohol and toxins like tobacco. Exercise is the best natural remedy for feeling better, worth getting up a half hour earlier to structure into your day. Eckhart Tolle suggests, “Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept is as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. . .this will miraculously transform your whole life.”
Q: My boss is irrational and controlling, not supportive in many ways. I like the people I work with but not my boss. What can I do about this problem?
A: You probably can’t change your boss but you can change your reactions to the problem. Add humor and playfulness, as by silently giving your boss points for the most irrational event of the day. Amusement provides perspective. Think of your life as a pie with slices. Reduce the amount of energy you give to work. Snap your fingers when you leave work to separate from it emotionally. Create fun and adventure in areas where you have more control.
Q: How do I save money?
A: First, keep track of every expenditure for a month, determine a realistic budget and stick to it. Limit your use of credit cards for non-essential purchases. See what you can cut out, such as not buying drinks, rather making coffee or tea at home and bringing it with you in a thermos. Buy household cleaning items like vinegar at a dollar store and recycled clothes at second hand shops that fund charities. You can negotiate the price of subscriptions to the Internet, newspaper, etc. If you have a yard include a few hens to eat your leftovers and fertilize your garden (Rhode Island Reds are steady egg producers) or join a community garden. Bike instead of drive. With the money you save, give to your favorite causes and if you itemize your taxes, deduct your donations. For more ideas, see my goddaughter’s books, Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less and Bring Your Lunch: Quick and Tasty Wallet-Friendly Lunches for Grown-Ups by Califia Suntree. Author Suzy Orman also provides many resources for money management and emphasizes the importance of compound interest on your regular savings plan. I like Pax World mutual funds for savings because they’re “green” and perform well.
Q: My partner is mean to me and every request is a demand. How do I change him?
A: Model the kind of behavior you’d like. Use “I feel…because… and suggest…as a possible solution,” so he’s clear what bothers you and what he can do about it. If he won’t go to a therapist to learn better communication skills, you may need to leave him as it’s difficult to change people. Live is too short to be miserable and we all deserve to be treated with kindness.
Q: I’m a recent college graduate, very pessimistic about a job search. How can I get motivated?
A: It’s true that 44% of recent grads are unemployed, and many will find work in jobs that don’t require a degree, but the job growth is in jobs that require a college education. College grads earn a lot more on average than high school grads. It only takes one good job and 66% are getting jobs. Change your self-talk from “I can’t” to “It just takes one job, I’m in the 66%.” Your irrational pessimistic self-personality is running the show. Read Voice Dialogue about how our sub-personalities operate and the importance of encouraging the rational self to run the show.