Age Of Aquarius: 21 New Rules For 2021Enjoy, People, And Keep The Vibration High!


1.) Above all else, be direct and be honest. Be the one that says what has for too long gone unsaid.

2.) Love insanely. Let it all out into the open. You don’t have time to hold back any longer.

3.) Make yourself strong. Physically strong, emotionally strong, spiritually strong.

4.) Practice radical detachment and letting go. We need to create space for the new paradigm to emerge.

5.) Learn to enjoy being patient in allowing things to unfold naturally without forcing anything.

6.) Express yourself like you never have before. Be more real. Be more raw. Be more open. Be more bad ass. Be more you.

7.) Let death be all the motivation you need to do anything you want to do. The clock is ticking faster than ever.

8.) Don’t be surprised when things work out far better than you could have imagined.

9.) Give away as much freedom to others as you can stand, then give them more. Let them have their stupid differing opinions, or whatever, and just keep on loving them with everything you’ve got.

10.) Do not allow your mind to take the wheel. Steer with your heart.

11.) Make personal evolution your prime directive and watch how quickly your life changes for the better.

12.) Be the person in the room that laughs and smiles the most, showing others how to brush off the madness of the world.

13.) Conserve your energy until it is time to move, then do so with maximum potency.

14.) Stay close to the things you can control and distance yourself from those things which you cannot.

15.) Teach everything you’ve learned so far. Participate fully in our the growth of others.

16.) Create relationships, fix relationships, find common ground, build bridges, and be there for others.

17.) Learn to fiercely observe the world and the people around you.

18.) Rewrite the rules as needed for maximum ease and minimum stress.

19.) Let yourself cry, scream or whatever as needed in order make sure you are a conduit for negative emotions, not a reservoir.

20.) Practice, practice, practice. Engage in your daily practice every single day. Cultivate your inner peace and strength through the continuity of your intentions.

21.) Maintain the highest possible vibration you can and make a point of being infectious to others.

Tell Congress that Puerto Ricans want nationhood, not statehood

For Puerto Ricans who support self-determination, it is truly mind-blowing that some Democrats have the audacity to offer statehood as a solution on the question of Puerto Rico’s political status. At a time when Congress cannot come to grips with its responsibility to decolonize Puerto Rico – let alone guarantee a process of negotiation – support for statehood becomes suspicious at best, seeming way too much like political opportunism. The disconnect between the Puerto Rican reality and pro-statehood declarations is dismaying. 

Ill-informed support for statehood is based on several myths: 

Puerto Ricans are Americans: False. The Puerto Rican national identity remains an ethnic identification of peoples without a national citizenship of their own who live in a territory they call “their country.” This does not obscure the reality that Puerto Rico constitutes a nation, which has had a colonial relation with the United States since 1898. Ambiguities were created by Public Law 600and by the portrayal in 1953 at the United Nations of the Commonwealth as “a compact” between both nations. As the Harvard Law Review clearly stated in 2017: “Puerto Rico’s heart is not American. It is Puerto Rican.” 

Puerto Ricans in the U.S. have struggled for civil rights, but the political, societal and constitutional reality of Puerto Rico is altogether another issue. You cannot erase a nationhood by overlooking its existence and assume that “Puerto Ricans are Americans.” Such statements constitute a classic strategy of assimilation that negates Puerto Rico’s right to exist.

Most Puerto Ricans support statehood: False. Puerto Ricans have rejected statehood in five plebiscites held since 1968. The 2017 plebiscite was boycotted by all anti-statehood Puerto Rican parties, resulting in statehood receiving 97 percent support, with only 23 percent of registered voters’ participation. The 2012 plebiscite, so far the only one held the same day as local elections, was boycotted by one of the major political parties, resulting in an avalanche of blank votes, pro-independence and pro-Free Association, which outnumbered pro-statehood votes. Statehood persistently has lost support since the 1993 plebiscite (788,296 votes in 1993728,157 votes in 1998834,191 in 2012, and 502,801 in 2017). 

While in power, pro-statehood administrations have corrupted the Puerto Rican government to the point of its collapse, making this faction incapable of leading any future political project. In summer 2019, the pro-statehood governor Ricardo Rossello was ousted

Civil rights in the U.S. are not being addressed by making Puerto Rico a state. As an unincorporated territory, Puerto Rico has a different constitutional reality, and its urgency is not related to civil rights but rather to our human right to decolonization. Since 1998, the only political option gaining support is Free Association, a negotiated compact in which both countries become freely associated. 

Puerto Rico is not a country: False. The Foraker Act, the first law passed in Congress concerning Puerto Rico, stated that Puerto Ricans “shall be deemed and held to be citizens of Porto (sic) Rico.” Fifty years later, Public Law 600 recognized Puerto Ricans as “peoples.” In 1953, in a push to get international recognition for the Commonwealth as a pact between the U.S. and Puerto Rico “forming a political association, which respects the individuality and the cultural characteristics of Puerto Rico [and] maintains the spiritual bonds between Puerto Rico and Latin America,” the United States pursued Resolution 748 at the U.N. General Assembly, allowing the U.S. to cease delivering annual reports on Puerto Rico’s colonial status. Our nationhood has withstood all attempts to be assimilated. Puerto Ricans refer to Puerto Rico as “el País” (the country). Puerto Ricans are a nation, and its people are in Puerto Rico and in its global diaspora. We are not American expats living in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a domestic issue: Partially true. Puerto Rico is a domestic issue as much as it is an international issue. The U.S. took over Puerto Rico through invasion, bilateral negotiation, and a peace protocol, normalizing the relationship through Supreme Court decisions known as the Insular Cases. The U.S. scored a diplomatic victory with U.N. approval of Resolution 748. Even though Puerto Ricans at the time already were U.S. citizens, and even if the country’s political fate was thought to have been sealed, Puerto Rico today again faces the important issue of sovereignty.

Furthermore, the persistent federal mismanagement of the humanitarian crisis following the 2017 hurricanes will continue to be an international issue, as economic, political and social conditions deteriorate. Puerto Rico is a pending international issue with multilateral repercussions.

Puerto Rico has no option but statehood: False. Puerto Rico’s status question can be resolved with strong bipartisan commitment. Inspired by its anti-colonial foundational spirit, guided by its experience with the freely associated republics in the Pacific, and in compliance with international law, the United States has available political options that Puerto Ricans would be ready to discuss. In fact, many Puerto Rican professionals agree that negotiating a compact of Free Association with the United States is the correct mechanism for finding a reasonable political solution to this issue.

Congress will serve the cause of Puerto Rico and the United States by understanding and accepting that Puerto Rico needs decolonization, through a process of dialogue and negotiation. Statehood goes against U.S. political and economic interests, and actually never has been on the negotiating table. Sovereignty serves the interests of both countries, and currently is Puerto Rico’s only feasible solution for decolonization and economic development.

Technofascism: Digital Book Burning In A Totalitarian Age

“Those who created this country chose freedom. With all of its dangers. And do you know the riskiest part of that choice they made?

“They actually believed that we could be trusted to make up our own minds in the whirl of differing ideas.

“That we could be trusted to remain free, even when there were very, very seductive voices — taking advantage of our freedom of speech — who were trying to turn this country into the kind of place where the government could tell you what you can and cannot do.” — Nat Hentoff

We are fast becoming a nation — nay, a world — of book burners.

Technofascism Digital Book Burning In A Totalitarian Age

While on paper, we are technically free to speak — at least according to the U.S. Constitution — in reality, however, we are only as free to speak as the government and its corporate partners such as Facebook, Google or YouTube may allow.

That’s not a whole lot of freedom. Especially if you’re inclined to voice opinions that may be construed as conspiratorial or dangerous.

Take David Icke, for example.

Icke, a popular commentator and author often labeled a conspiracy theorist by his detractors, recently had his Facebook page and YouTube channel (owned by Google) deleted for violating site policies by “spreading coronavirus disinformation.”

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate, which has been vocal about calling for Icke’s de-platforming, is also pushing for the removal of all other sites and individuals who promote Icke’s content in an effort to supposedly “save lives.”

Translation: the CCDH evidently believes the public is too dumb to think for itself and must be protected from dangerous ideas.

This is the goosestepping Nanny State trying to protect us from ourselves.

In the long run, this “safety” control (the censorship and shadowbanning of anyone who challenges a mainstream narrative) will be far worse than merely allowing people to think for themselves.

Journalist Matt Taibbi gets its:

“The people who want to add a censorship regime to a health crisis are more dangerous and more stupid by leaps and bounds than a president who tells people to inject disinfectant.”

Don’t fall for the propaganda.

These internet censors are not acting in our best interests to protect us from dangerous, disinformation campaigns about COVID-19, a virus whose source and behavior continue to elude medical officials.

They’re laying the groundwork now, with Icke as an easy target, to preempt any “dangerous” ideas that might challenge the power elite’s stranglehold over our lives.

This is how freedom dies.

It doesn’t matter what disinformation Icke may or may not have been spreading about COVID-19. That’s not the issue.

As commentator Caitlin Johnstone recognizes, the censorship of David Icke by these internet media giants has nothing to do with Icke:

“What matters is that we’re seeing a consistent and accelerating pattern of powerful plutocratic institutions collaborating with the US-centralized empire to control what ideas people around the world are permitted to share with each other, and it’s a very unsafe trajectory.”

Welcome to the age of technofascism.

Technofascism, clothed in tyrannical self-righteousness, is powered by technological behemoths (both corporate and governmental) working in tandem.

As journalist Chet Bowers explains, “Technofascism’s level of efficiency and totalitarian potential can easily lead to repressive systems that will not tolerate dissent.”

The internet, hailed as a super-information highway, is increasingly becoming the police state’s secret weapon.

This “policing of the mind: is exactly the danger author Jim Keith warned about when he predicted that “information and communication sources are gradually being linked together into a single computerized network, providing an opportunity for unheralded control of hat will be broadcast, what will be said, and ultimately what will be thought.”

It’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth.

Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act.

We’re almost at that point now.

What you are witnessing is the modern-day equivalent of book burning which involves doing away with dangerous ideas — legitimate or not — and the people who espouse them.

Today, the forces of political correctness, working in conjunction with corporate and government agencies, have managed to replace actual book burning with intellectual book burning.

Free speech for me but not for thee” is how my good friend and free speech purist Nat Hentoff used to sum up this double standard.

This is about much more than free speech, however. This is about repression and control.

With every passing day, we’re being moved further down the road towards a totalitarian society characterized by government censorship, violence, corruption, hypocrisy and intolerance, all packaged for our supposed benefit in the Orwellian doublespeak of national security, tolerance and so-called “government speech.”

The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remains the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

The upshot of all of this editing, parsing, banning and silencing is the emergence of a new language, what George Orwell referred to as Newspeak, which places the power to control language in the hands of the totalitarian state.

Under such a system, language becomes a weapon to change the way people think by changing the words they use.

The end result is control.

In totalitarian regimes — a.k.a. police states — where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used.

In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind lest they find themselves ostracized or placed under surveillance.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship, spying and policing: this is how you turn a nation of free people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other.

Tread cautiously: Orwell’s 1984, which depicts the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism, has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state.

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state.

There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere.

People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes.

The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous HuxleyMargaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move.

Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.”

Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state — which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report — we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike — facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.

In fact, our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. And privacy and bodily integrity have been utterly eviscerated.

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot.

The government requires an accomplice.

Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void.

Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex” — a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance — has come to dominate the government and our lives.

Money, power, control.

There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price?

“We the people,” of course. Not just we Americans, but people the world over.

We have entered into a global state of tyranny.

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted).

The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights.

In fact, the addiction to screen devices — especially cell phones — has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots.

However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one’s every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans.

That all changed with the 9/11 attacks.

As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, “Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity.”

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry — mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all — we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government.

In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us — the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” as one official termed it — the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions.

This data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint.

When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card.

There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite.

Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems.

Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely.

And if any “threatening” words are detected — no matter how inane or silly — the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation.

Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content.

Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.

Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted.

We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police.

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

For example, the NSA has designed an artificial intelligence system that can anticipate your every move.

In a nutshell, the NSA feeds vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer then uses to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents.

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy is at an end.

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive this global surveillance state?

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re running out of options.

We’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited:

“Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures.

“A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.”

Which brings me back to this technofascist tyranny being meted out on David Icke and all those like him who dare to voice ideas that diverge from what the government and its corporate controllers deem to be acceptable.

The problem as I see it is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us.

And we’ve allowed ourselves to become so timid in the face of offensive words and ideas that we’ve bought into the idea that we need the government to shield us from that which is ugly or upsetting or mean.

The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

In short, we have reduced ourselves to a largely silent, passive, polarized populace incapable of working through our own problems and reliant on the government to protect us from our fears.

In this way, we have become our worst enemy.

You want to reclaim some of the ground we’re fast losing to the techno-tyrants?

Start by thinking for yourself. If that means reading the “dangerous” ideas being floated out there by the David Ickes of the world — or the John Whiteheads for that matter — and then deciding for yourself what is true, so be it.

As Orwell concluded, “Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four.”

Social vs. Physical Distancing: Why It Matters

Psychology Today

used with permission Lisa Langhammer

By Amy Banks, MD

To protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from the devastation of the coronavirus health experts are strongly encouraging everyone to “socially distance” — to stay 6-10 feet away from other people.

I am concerned — not by the strategy but by the way people are enacting it. The few times I have ventured out to a grocery store or for a walk around my neighborhood, I’ve seen people not only keeping distant from one another but also seeming afraid. They pass each other on the street or in a store without looking at each other or exchanging greetings.

It’s as if we were each locked in a personal bubble that no one can enter. The threat of COVID-19 and the stress it induces can understandably cause individuals to become terrified and myopic — to turn inward in an attempt to stay safe. While a week of that may be more stressful to some than others, months of this type of social isolation is dangerous. Research clearly shows us that our physical and emotional health and well-being are dependent on loving relationships and physical touch. To weather this pandemic, we need one another.

Weeks ago, my colleague and friend, Roseann Adams, LCSW, recognized that the national strategy of social distancing was a double-edged sword. She identified that social distancing can be a threat to all of us as it leads some people to socially isolate potentially causing further stress and, over the long haul, impairing our bodies’ immune system. In fact, strict social distancing may set us up for other illnesses.

Within the first few days, she was encouraging people to physically distance with social connection. Differentiating physical distance from social distance acknowledges the virus’s malignant ability to be transmitted from person to person but also acknowledges that the virus has no power over our ability to support and nurture one another in this time of extraordinary threat.

Think about the power of social isolation in society. Solitary confinement is considered the worst punishment a human can receive. In fact, most civilized communities consider it a form of torture. The physical and emotional toll it takes over time includes a worsening of mental health issues, an increase in self-injurious behavior and even suicide.

Isolating individuals is perhaps the most common first step domestic abusers use to gain power and control over their victims. He or she begins to control who you can see, where you can go, what you can wear. When a person violates the rules set by the perpetrator the punishment is harsh and swift.

Social distancing, as it has been presented, can feel like that.  In fact, in my work with trauma survivors during this time, I have heard people describe feeling trapped and threatened again. That is not sustainable. Becoming socially isolated may keep the majority of us alive, but not well.

By naming the national strategy as physical distancing rather than social distancing and emphasizing the need for human connection we can stay safe from the virus but also hold onto the heightened need we all have for one another right now. Each of us needs an extra dose of being seen and held within our connections during this extraordinary time. Perhaps now more than ever we must be intentional about giving our neural pathways for connection a workout.

In fact, we need to go out of our way to make eye contact, wave, move, or loudly say “hello” from behind the mask. This gives our smart vagus nerve and our mirror neurons a workout. Literally, the sound of a friendly voice and seeing the eyebrows of another person raise in greeting stimulates your social engagement system, which in turn sends a signal to your stress response system to stand down. Those moments of interaction may make the difference in the long run as to how we, as a society, survive the pandemic. 

The human nervous system is amazingly adaptive. Our brains will adapt to social isolation over time, but the burden of stress the isolation causes will lead to long-term health problems. As a society we will not be well at the end of all of this — not because of COVID-19 but because of the message we take in that being with others can be dangerous.

That is why each of us must do our part to not only stay physically six feet apart and to wear masks but also to go out of our way on the street, in the grocery store, through FaceTime, Zoom, or whatever platform you can use to reach out to one another. We all must know that nurturing the relationships we have and reaching out to others who may be isolated is as essential to surviving the pandemic as physical distancing.

Let’s add another important directive to our national policy of containing the coronavirus — to reach out each day to three other people — to check in on them, simply hear their voice, or share the pain or joy of the day. This is a wider strategy to not only survive the pandemic but to keep our humanity alive.

Ohio Schools Give Yoga & Mindfulness Classes Instead Of Detention

A school in Ohio is doing away with detention punishment and giving students mindfulness and yoga classes instead.

We think that every parent can pretty much agree that there really isn’t anything beneficial to detention.

While the thought of being punished works well for some children, for others, it’s looked at as free time during the day or after school.

And we can’t forget to mention that it ends up disrupting their paren’s schedules whenever they need to pick them up after school instead of taking the bus.

And what do kids learn during after school detention? While they might walk away getting a head start on their homework, the lessons learned during after school detention is pretty much zip.

A school in Ohio is setting out to change that and we think that all schools should follow suit.

Good News Network reported that, high school principal, Jack Hatert, of Yellow Springs High, along with nearby Mckinney Middle school, are working on alternate detention classes.

This would include both mindfulness practice led by an expert and yoga.

Each Monday for 30 minutes before the end of their class, the students can sit down on a blanket in Donna Haller’s second-floor classroom and take time to focus on their emotions, be present, and have an allover quiet moment.

Basically, they will walk away from detention with some coping mechanisms for dealing with their big emotions that might have gotten them there in the first place. Talk about being proactive. Bravo!

This is part of a statewide education initiative that is working to encourage teachers to offer this mindfulness training more regularly to students.

The program is called “Each Child, Our Future,” and the goal of it is to address the mental health epidemic currently happening in the United States and raise capable, well rounded young people.

These mindfulness classes are also accompanied by a yoga option as well, which is held every Wednesday in their library.

Led by Donna Haller, a certified yoga and meditation instructor for both adults and youth of all ages, who has been at this specific high school for nine years.

She shared with the Yellow Springs News, “I love it. It does as much for me as them,” she said of the calming effects.

Someone I know said that mindfulness and yoga have helped them with their ADHD and with processing an event where they had lost someone who was dear to them,” wrote freshman Isabella Beiring for a video project about the mindfulness and yoga program.

What an amazing way for kids to end their day!

3 Simple Swaps To Boost Your Happiness

Improving your everyday involves making swaps to upgrade your experiences, ramp up your output and set you up for success and happiness.

A habit is defined as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is considered to be difficult to give up. Which are the habits that don’t serve you? What are you doing that is making you feel tired, irritable and negative? It’s time to identify these habits and swap them out.

Consider that the first thing you do upon opening your laptop might put you in the wrong frame of mind. Your morning coffee might put you on edge more than it gives you focus. Even the way you always brush your teeth might be suboptimal. The same for the way you train for a marathon or how you unwind in an evening or how you shop for groceries. Doing the same things in the same way leads to the same results. If you want a different result, make a change.

It’s more effective to replace habits with new ones than stop old ones all together. It’s why vaping has helped many people quit smoking and why a change of scenery can spark an epiphany. Make a list of the habits you have that stop you living the best possible version of your life.

1. Fearful thinking

Worrying about the future is the opposite of contentment and, therefore, happiness. Reading into someone else’s actions or words and assuming the worst is a form of self-inflicted torture. Think of all those bad things you once worried might happen. Chances are that most of them never came to pass, and the ones that did you overcame heroically. Worrying is like visualizing a future that you don’t want. It’s a complete waste of time and energy.

Swap it for:

Negative visualisation. Write a list of all the worst possible things that could happen, and then write down how you’d handle each scenario. There’s always a plan you can make and there’s always a way through any problem. Back yourself to get through whatever is thrown at you and realise that worrying doesn’t make it any more or less likely, so there’s no point doing it.

Meditating. Worrying either means you’re anxious about something that happened in the past or something that might happen in the future. Either way, your head isn’t in the present. See if you can be present and focus on what’s actually happening in the room rather than in your head. Separate the two. Listening to guided meditations might help you see the difference and stay in the here and now.

Making a success plan. There are some things you can control and there are things you can’t. Out of your control: other people and what they say, do and think, the weather, and so on. In your control: what you say, what you think, how you act. Make a success plan along with daily, weekly and monthly actions you’re going to take and measure the inputs instead of the outputs. Focus firmly on what is in your control and let everything else go.

2. Checking your profiles

There’s always something to “check”; your inbox, social media or a forum, that might result in a dopamine hit that satisfies a short-term craving. The designers of apps and websites do so deliberately to keep you on them for longer. Notifications, endless scroll and candy-dispenser-like alerts keep you hooked and in a loop of checking that’s not conducive to happiness.

Swap it for:

Batching activities. Separate every action you take into big things and little things. The small, minor things are those tiny actions that overall make no difference. Things like checking emails, checking social media, checking bank accounts, invoices and Google Analytics. Batch them into less frequent actions and have a giant checkfest once a week, but no more.

Picking one thing to focus on. With the space you have found by batching little things, pick the big things that you can attack. The big things are those projects that really move the needle and get you where you want to be. The ones that seem daunting until they’re done. Set a pomodoro timer, close all your tabs, turn off notifications and get started. Keep going until you find yourself in a state of flow.

Producing. Turn your ideas and knowledge into articles, blogs, books and downloads. Instead of consuming, checking and scrolling, look to create and produce. What seems obvious to you can be groundbreaking to someone else. Write, record and create to inspire, inform and educate.

3. Watching TV

TV is a massive time-suck. No ifs, no buts. It’s not a good use of life. It can become the default option for an evening, meaning you end up watching stuff you don’t really care about that has zero value or bearing on your life. Those on the path to greatness don’t watch much TV, if any. You can watch TV on a treadmill but not on the racetrack.

Swap it for:

Journaling. Use the time to assess the day. Slow down to write in free form and assess how you’re feeling, what’s going right and what needs improvement. Keep a log of your thoughts and actions and understand the cause and effect of everything you do. It’s amazing how therapeutic this practice can be.

Learning a language. Open up new worlds and the chance to meet new people. Put your brain into something challenging in a different way to your regular work. Commit a certain time each day and attend classes or learn via an app or book. Do it with friends in the lead up to a trip you’ve booked together.

Meeting friends. Cultivating arms-length relationships via WhatsApp and Instagram doesn’t make for meaningful connections. Pay someone a visit, take a meal over, invite them round, at the very least call someone you haven’t seen in a while. Learn about their world whilst expanding yours.

For maximum happiness, find the habits that don’t serve you and replace them with ones that do. If applicable, start with watching television, needless checking and fearful thinking.  

7 psychological superpowers few people have (that you can use to set yourself apart)

7 psychological superpowers few people have (that you can use to set yourself apart)

“Tell me where I’m going to die so I never go there.”

The sentence above describes a superpower few people have. It’s one I’ve only been able to exercise ten percent of the time, but that ten percent creates most of the positive results I get in my life.

What’s the superpower? Restraint.

Successhappiness, or whatever word you use to articulate what you want, often involves what you don’t do.

Also, restraint from one action can be a springboard to a more useful one, e.g., talking to listening.

We live in an unrestrained world. It’s getting louder, angrier, more chaotic and pretentious.

This is why it’s the perfect time for you to behave in the exact opposite fashion and wield these superpowers few people have.

Hide Your Intelligence

“A know-it-all is a person who knows everything except for how annoying he is.” — Demitri Martin

If you’re a smart person, you might have the tendency to want to show it off.

You want people to know you’re smart. While there’s nothing wrong with displaying your intelligence, the costs for showing it off too much are high. People don’t like being corrected. Also, they don’t want a mirror reflected on their own inadequacy.

If you’re in a work setting, follow one of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power — never outshine the master. Showing up your boss is a surefire way to make the relationship contentious (even if only subtly).

Showing people up in general means you lack an important type of intelligence — social intelligence.

If you had social intelligence, you’d know that letting other people take the spotlight makes them feel important. And they’d connect that feeling of importance with being around you.

Also, paraphrasing Greene again, it’s much more clever to resist the urge to display your cleverness (move in silence…let people think you’re less intelligent than you are).

It’s difficult for me. I’m tempted to correct people when I hear them say something incorrect. I love talking about all the things I know. But, at times, I’ll catch myself and realize that nobody really wants to know how smart I am. They want to know how I can play a role in their life that benefits them.

It’s almost always better to understate your intelligence than overstate it.

Resist Group Think

Madness is rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. — Friedrich Nietzsche

We lie to ourselves a lot. One of the main lies we tell ourselves? We think we’re open-minded. On the whole, we’re not.

You’ve cobbled together an identity based on narratives. You tell yourself stories constantly and the ones you repeat often become part of your personality. You’re also prone to adopt narratives based on groups you belong to. You do this because human beings are naturally tribal animals.

The problem with this occurs when you’re unable to even hold views that deviate from your group’s list of stances. This is what you see in the political sphere right now — no one’s budging.

If you’re able to form your own worldview — a legitimate one should contain elements of contradictory philosophies — you’ll have the benefit of not being a crazy person participating in mud slinging contests.

It’s pretty much impossible to form an original worldview because you have to form it by picking up established narratives (unless you’re a truly original thinker, which you’re not). Just knowing how difficult it is to form untainted beliefs gives you the humility to second guess your own opinions.

The end goal? Be able to say that you’ve put thought into which components of group narratives you decided to adopt. And then, stay out of the herd altogether.

You’re going to have to sit on the sidelines while everyone else bickers. Don’t even participate in the discourse. Improve your life.

At the end of the day, most of what happens in your life can be seen and shaped through the lens of your individuality. No matter what group you belong to, the experiences, memories, and emotions you have are unique to you. And, you can only genuinely look to yourself to reshape any of the above.

Stop Caring What People Think About You

“You want praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes, the approval of people who despise themselves.” — Marcus Aurelius

You want to know a great trick for letting go of other people’s opinions? Read a book about space or watch a Youtube video about it. Right now, I’m reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

Here’s a passage from it:

“Our sun is just one of the one hundred thousand million stars that make up our galaxy the Milky Way. The Milky Way is only one of the many galaxies in the local group. The local group, in turn, is just one of the thousands of groups and clusters of galaxies which form the largest known structures of our universe.”

Now think of your place in that universe. Why so preoccupied about ‘what will happen’ or ‘what others’ will think when you’re already essentially dead? Because human beings are the only known species arrogant enough to place themselves at the center of the universe.

I do it. You do it. The less it’s done, though, the freer you are. That’s the thing about freedom — it’s often a consequence of what you don’t do. Once you decide to stop caring so much, it’ll allow you to do what you want.

Are you going to let other people — infinitesimal pieces of existence in the expanse of the universe — stop you from living your life the way you want to live it?

Stop Placing Blame Altogether

“If it’s in your control, why do you do it? If it’s in someone else’s control, then who are you blaming? Atoms? The gods? Stupid either way. Blame no one.” — Marcus Aurelius

This is about taking ownership of your mind.

If you don’t own your mind, someone else or circumstance will. Owning your reactions to what happens to you gives you a source of power no one can corrupt.

Like most of us, I get angry when someone slights me or treats me unfairly. When situations don’t go the way I want them to, I begin feeling sorry for myself. If I’m lucky, I catch myself and focus on the role I played in the situation.

You’ve heard this before. It’s so cliche. Why add personal responsibility to this list?

Because it’s really really hard and goes against our nature.

Also, there are times where the blame should be placed somewhere other than on yourself, but it’s often fruitless.

Sure, you might be able to convince the person you blamed they’re wrong, but at what cost? To what degree did each of you play in the situation (your apt to take more percentage of the victim category than you should)?

You might be able to bend the universe to your will and make the circumstances around you better — as opposed to just being better — but, again at what cost?

In my life, at least, I’ve seen that forgoing the blame game is a net positive ninety-nine percent of the time. Does that mean I always accept responsibility instantly? Hell no, but being able to do it even some of the time goes a long way.

Stop “Waiting to Talk”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey

Have you ever been in a conversation where it’s clear no one is listening? Each person talks and the others are waiting for a millisecond of silence to jump in.

This entire post has been about dialing back your tendencies. Why is that important? When you’re a little more restrained in your actions and your thoughts, you become a better observer.

When you become a better observer, you realize that you can get further ahead by doing less. It’s not easy to put that idea together at first — less outward activity equaling better results — but it’s true.

If you let other people talk, listen to them, and give up your need to jump into the conversation right away, everyone will love you. People love to talk. Let them.

While they talk, listen. If you really listen, they’ll give you all the information you want to know — their hopes, fears, desires, needs, likes, dislikes. Just sit there while they ‘spill the tea.’

Then, you can do little things that make them feel like you’re a great conversationalist and someone they can trust, even if you barely talk — repeat what they said back to them, ask them a question that makes them continue to talk, genuinely highlight when they bring something up you have in common.

You can use this technique in a real conversation or the conversation — the zeitgeist, blogs, and social media. Don’t jump in the debate. Watch it while everyone reveals their cards.

Stop Letting Your Desires Pull You in Every Direction

“Those who act with few desires are calm, without worry or fear.” — Buddha

Books like Think and Grow Rich teach you to have an ultimate desire for wealth to get it.

If you like to read about business and self-improvement like me, you see Facebook ads on “how to start a six-figure business in real estate” or whatever.

Ambition can be good and necessary. It can also be poisonous. When I focus too much on results — output — writing becomes less fun. It starts to feel like work. When I write what I think you want to read and start to pander because of a desire for clicks, the work suffers.

Every time I do something I don’t really want to do because I think it will help me get something I desire, I feel bad, misaligned, incongruent.

The only times I’ve ever succeeded and felt good were bi-products of doing the work I enjoyed doing.

How about you? What status games are you playing right now? What objects and circumstances are you lusting over? Are you being controlled by a desire for the output or the need to do the input?

I have to remind myself constantly that I can be happy with what I have this second. And, even if my life gets better outwardly, I’ll adjust to it quickly and begin running on the hamster wheel all over again. Better to just do the things I love, right now, and forget about the future.

Stop Taking Everything So Seriously

“Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but over time devour us from the inside out. And it’s even more insidious than most vices because we don’t even consciously acknowledge that it’s a pleasure.” — Tim Kreider

Imagine a society where everyone tended to their own well-being first before shouting into the sky about the government or what’s on the news?

What if we stopped watching the news altogether? If we did that, we’d realize — while things are nowhere near perfect — the sky isn’t falling. It isn’t. It isn’t.

You can probably see this in your own life. The things we tend to take seriously at a high level, e.g., will we go to war with ‘x’ (there’s always an x), have little to do with what’s going on at the ground level, otherwise known as our actual life.

I stopped reading the news and going on Twitter all the time. It’s not real life. I realized I was getting riled up over nothing. Also, even if the situations were as dire as I thought, my tweets weren’t going to fix the situation.

All the while there were plenty of things in my own life that needed tending to.

Get out of the outrage, ‘if it bleeds it leads’, machine right now. It’s not worth your sanity.

Then, even in your own life, try to stop taking everything so seriously. Focus on your career, but don’t make your career your life. Be prudent, save, budget, but don’t become a worry wart.

Spend time with your friends and family without worrying much about anything beyond them.

I’ve said this many times. From the perspective of the universe, you’re dead. Clutching on the steering wheel of life gives you the illusion you have control. You don’t, really.

Just live.

Are You Interested in Ridding Yourself of All Resentment?

Someone treats you with disrespect and you feel resentful. Such an initial reaction is common and actually good because you are saying that you are a person who deserves respect. Yet, if the initial resentment lasts, and continues to last for years, it eventually can chip away at your happiness, at your self-esteem, and make you miserable. At that point, it is healthy to try to shed the resentment.

As another challenge, it is possible that you have a history of others treating you unfairly that could go back to your childhood, your adolescence, and into your adulthood. Sometimes we still have an unconscious resentment that is abiding from decades ago. These resentments can be part of our current psychology, shaping who we think we are and affecting our level of well-being. 

I have found that there is a particular psychological exercise in which you can engage:

  1. Diagnose those people and incidences that have hurt you.
  2. Assess your current level of resentment resulting from these.
  3. Take scientifically-supported steps to rid yourself of these resentments, all of them that have occurred in your life. 

The exercise is the Forgiveness Landscape.  What is this and how does it work?  

The term Forgiveness Landscape is an expression first used in the book, The Forgiving Life (Enright, 2012), to refer to all of the people who ever have been seriously unjust to you. When people first construct their forgiveness landscape, they often are surprised at:

  1. How many people are on the list.
  2. The depth of the anger left over, even from decades ago.

When we are treated deeply unfairly by others, the anger is slow to leave. If we push that anger aside, simply thinking we have “moved on” or “forgotten all about it,” sometimes this is not the case. The anger can be in hiding, deep within the heart, and the only way to get rid of it is surgery of the heart—forgiveness.

Would you like to examine your own forgiveness landscape to see how many people in your life are still in need of your forgiveness? You might want to write down your answers to the following questions.

The first set of questions:

Think back to your childhood. Is there anyone who was very unfair to you and if so, what is your anger level now on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 signifying no anger leftover and 5 signifying lots of anger when you reflect on this person and the actions toward you.

More specifically from your childhood, are there any incidents from your father that still make you angry? From your mother? A sibling?

What about from peers or teachers, is your anger still high when you recall the incidents?

The second set of questions:

Let us now focus on your adolescence. Follow the pattern from the first set of questions. Then let us add any coaches, employers or fellow employees, and romantic partners to the list. Are there people who still make you angry in the 4 or 5 range of our scale?

The third set of questions:

Who in your adult life has made you significantly angry, in the 4 to 5 range of anger? We can add a partner, any children, relatives, friends, and neighbors to the list.

Now please rank order all of the people from those who least offended you to those who most offended you. Now, look at that list to see your forgiveness landscape. There is your work, right there on the list. I recommend starting with people lower on the list. Forgive them first because they in all likelihood are the easiest to forgive because the anger is less. As you work up the list, you will gain in your expertise to forgive, which is good preparation for forgiving those on the top of the list—those who are the most challenging for you.

You can find more on this way of forgiving in the book, The Forgiving Life, which walks you systematically through this exercise. Enjoy the challenge. Enjoy the journey of forgiveness, which can set you free in so many ways.

References

Enright, R.D. (2012).  The forgiving life.  Washington, D.C.: APA Books.

Enright, R.D. & Fitzgibbons, R. (2015).  Forgiveness therapy: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope.  Washington, DC: APA Books.

Lee, Y-R & Enright, R.D. (2014) A forgiveness intervention for women with fibromyalgia who were abused in childhood: A pilot study. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 1, 203-217. 

Are You an Overthinker?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your thoughts? Many of my clients have expressed frustration, even anguish, with their relentless experiences of self-imposed mental interrogation. It occurs as an irresistible urge to analyze practically everything they think, but especially the unwanted, spontaneous thoughts that just pop into their mind.   

Consider a young woman we’ll call Jessica. She sought treatment for anxiety, but within a short period of time, it was clear that she was caught in a self-defeating mental trap. Any negative, unwanted thought triggered an agonizing process of self-analysis. 

She’d ask herself over and over “what caused me to have this thought,” “what does it mean,” “what if I get stuck and become more and more anxious,” or, “I need to find a way to get better control of my mind.” She spent hours analyzing thoughts that suddenly popped into her head. She’d also overanalyze what people said to her, always questioning whether a negative intention was meant. By her own admission, Jessica was “stuck in her head.”  

Can you relate? Do you find yourself caught in a distressing cycle of overanalyzing your thoughts? Overthinking is a prominent characteristic of worry, rumination, and obsessive thinking. But it is not limited to these conditions. It can be a problem in its own right, and yet few people recognize the negative effect it can have on our emotional health, happiness, and well-being. Many people have concluded that overthinking is part of their personality; they’ve not realized that strategies are available to counter this anxiety-inducing habit.

The Overthinking Mind

I am using the term “overthink” to refer to an excessive tendency to monitor, evaluate, and attempt to control all types of thought.1 Overthinkers are not only highly aware of their thoughts, but they also spend a lot of time trying to understand the causes and meaning of their thoughts.

Sometimes this can be a useful characteristic if our thoughts are significant, and we need to decide on the best course of action. For example, if I have a thought like, “Should I leave my spouse and file for divorce?” “I’m going nowhere in this job; maybe I need new employment,” or “I’m having chest pains; maybe I should go to the hospital,” I need to pay attention to these thoughts. Ignoring the thought or not taking it seriously could be disastrous. 

Overthinking is a problem for another type of thinking that I discussed in a previous post: negative intrusive thoughts. When we pay too much attention to such thoughts, overanalyze their meaning, and try too hard to control them, we can slip into unhealthy forms of thought, like worry, rumination, obsession, and the like. And when we overanalyze negative, intrusive thoughts, we can end up anxious, depressed, frustrated, and guilt-ridden.

Signs of Overthinking

If you’re wondering whether overthinking is a problem for you, consider the following questions:

  • Are you easily aware of what you’re thinking at any given moment?
  • Do you often question why you are having certain thoughts?
  • Do you often look for the deeper meaning or personal significance of your thoughts?
  • When feeling upset, do you often focus on what you are thinking?
  • Do you have a strong need to know or understand how your mind works?
  • Do you feel it’s important to have strict control over your thoughts?
  • Do you have a low tolerance for spontaneous, unwanted thoughts?
  • Are you often in a struggle to control your thoughts?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, it’s possible you have a tendency to overthink. 

There are two dangers to this. If you are overthinking important issues in your life, you can get stuck in indecision, avoidance, and procrastination. A person thinking about their relationships, health, career, self-identity issues, and the like needs to spend time in thoughtful reflection, but too much time in the head can be costly. On the other hand, we all have negative, intrusive thoughts that are best left alone. Spending time on these thoughts can lead to significant personal distress.

How to Curb Overthinking

If you suspect you’re falling prey to overthinking, there are several steps you can take:

  • Know your triggers. Even the most ardent overthinkers don’t do it all the time. Probably there are certain thoughts or issues that are more likely to trigger overthinking. If you’re a worrier, for example, thoughts about the future may be more likely to trigger overthinking. For another person, it may be thinking about their competence or whether they are liked by others. Whatever the case, it’s important to know the “hot spots” that trigger your overthinking.
  • Be aware of overthinking. To reduce overthinking, you need to know when it’s happening. What are the telltale signs that you’re overthinking? Is it when you’re trying to interpret the meaning of an intrusive thought when it probably has no hidden meaning? Is it when you’re trying too hard to control or suppress the thought? Or is it when you become frightened or anxious with the thought? There may be other signs that indicate you’ve slipped into overthinking.
  • Fully embrace its futility. You won’t be able to curb overthinking as long as you believe it has value. Review your past experiences with overthinking and write down how it helped. Did the overthinking result in any meaningful solution or revelation? Were there more positive or negative consequences associated with it?
  • Disengage. When people are “too much in their head,” this signifies over-engagement with unwanted thoughts. The opposite approach is to disengage from the thought. So, the best way to curb overthinking is mindful acceptance in which we observe but don’t evaluate our unwanted thoughts. A second approach is focused distraction, in which we shift our attention to another train of thought or activity, without engaging in an attempt to resolve or understand the unwanted thought we’re overthinking.

Overthinking can be harmful to our emotional health, especially when it’s directed at unwanted, spontaneous, negative thoughts, images, or memories. Fortunately, we can learn to curb this unhelpful way of thinking through greater self-awareness and the practice of mental disengagement.

References

1 Janeck, A.S. Calamari, J. E., Riemann, B. C., & Heffelfinger, S. K. 2003. Too much thinking about thinking?: metacognitive differences in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 17(2): 181-195.

2 Clark, D. A. 2018. The Anxious Thoughts Workbook: Skills to Overcome the Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts that Drive Anxiety, Obsessions & Depression.  Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Learn to Love Yourself to Help You Love Others

Being in love may be one of the most intense and impactful experiences. People in love admit to spending about 85 percent of their time thinking about the object of their affection1. This is, of course, no surprise, as intense romantic love evokes brain regions associated with the reward center, specifically dopamine (the pleasure chemical), and increases feelings of motivation, ecstasy, and craving2,3

As a result of these powerful, provoking emotions, love is portrayed in the media perhaps more than any other subject area, with 73 percent of songs referring to love4 compared to only 37 percent of songs referring to sexual intercourse5, not to mention all of the movies and other forms of media about the subject of love.

For some, they may only thrive on the momentary buzz of entering a relationship, with no long-term commitment in mind—a serial dater, perhaps. However, many others, depending on what they value, want to develop a deeply connected relationship with another human being. For those who seek the latter, some lucky ones may find a happy ever after, whilst for others, it may be more difficult.

Indeed, many people often find this is not always possible and find themselves getting caught in negative cycles, which cause a disconnection and can lead to resentment and the end of that relation. The statistics show that about half of first marriages end in divorce, and second marriages are even more likely to end6. Though there are many circumstances for relationship breakups and falling out of love, such as financial problems, affairs, lives and interests diverging in different directions, etc., some problems can stem from personal problems with their selves, sometimes in the form of classified personality disorders.

Problems with selves may be rooted in painful or abusive histories, which, if unchecked, can affect the way you relate to yourself and the person you love. Borderline personality disorder relates to a history of insecure disorganized attachment7, often characterized by emotional instability, impulsive behavior, and intense, unstable relationships.

Other personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder, which is characterized by excessive interest with oneself, selfishness, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy, can greatly affect the quality of a relationship. Many of us may have heard of the “gaslighter” who may lie, project, or align people against their partner in a relationship in order to maintain control. Of course, not all relationships are so toxic; however, toxic relationships usually have one thing in common—issues with the self.

In supporting yourself, one way is to engage in self-compassion exercises. Loving yourself should not be in a narcissistic way, but instead in a deeply connected, non-judgmental, and compassionate way. Self-compassion involves self-kindness instead of self-judgment, common humanity and belonging instead of isolation, and mindfulness instead of over-identification8. A balanced, mindful response to internal suffering is important, where one does not try to suppress difficult emotions, nor does one ruminate on these feelings9.

The internal struggle with difficult thoughts and emotions (i.e., issues with the self) may be one of the reasons for the toxicity in a relationship, a reflecting outward of the inward turbulence. A toxic relationship may be misleading, as there can be passion, but without any of the truly loving, caring, or connected aspects, which may be important for longer-term success.

These relationships often involve the highlighting of deficits of the other in hurtful ways and may be an outward projection of insecurity and emotional instability of the self. Self-compassion can facilitate a feeling of connection to others when things go wrong and in times of failure and difficulty10. It can help you balance awareness of painful experiences, acknowledging them in the present moment, and not dramatically running away from the storyline of one’s problems in life.

For these reasons, developing a healthy relationship with yourself may be the key to developing a healthy relationship with another. Studies have demonstrated that people who are more self-compassionate have more positive and higher-quality relationships than those who do not11. Perhaps, therefore, the most important relationship you have really is with yourself.

Problems such as narcissism can be internally characterized by closing off from vulnerability, which can be harmful. In contrast to this, a connection with self in a compassionate, accepting way, where one is open to vulnerabilities such as painful memories and experiences, may facilitate a deeper openness and connection with others. It’s this connection that may then ultimately allow for longer, more satisfying, and truly loving relationships. So, learning to self-care through self-compassion, rather than self-soothe through egotistical and low self-esteem, romantic game-playing will help you truly love another.  

References:

1.         Fisher, Xu, X., Aron, A., & Brown, L. L. (2016). Intense, passionate, romantic love: a natural addiction? How the fields that investigate romance and substance abuse can inform each other. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 687.

2.        Fisher. (2016). Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray (Completely Revised and Updated with a New Introduction): WW Norton & Company.

3.        Xu, X., Wang, J., Aron, A., Lei, W., Westmaas, J. L., & Weng, X. (2012). Intense passionate love attenuates cigarette cue-reactivity in nicotine-deprived smokers: An fMRI study. PloS one, 7(7), e42235.