Don’t allow “Brain Drain”…Let go of the baggage.

So many people I know are caught up not only in trying to find out who made them stressed and miserable but also in storing the information and cataloging it for future use. I call this “baggage handling” because after a while, we have so much past misery that we need suitcases to put them in. We may even need a Sherpa to carry them.

My grandmother Francesca could have been the curator of the Smithsonian. She was amazing at recalling past history (mostly miserable). My mother was pretty good at storing old stuff too. I inherited some of it, but have been able to process it differently through some time in therapy and my sense of humor.

It is important to differentiate between what you need to hang on to and what to let go of. Many individuals have been traumatized severely from incidents that occurred in the past. History has taught us that if we don’t recall and heal the injustices, it becomes more difficult to heal them. Therefore, it is healthy to identify what has caused you pain, to gain insight, and, it is hoped, to move forward.

This is not always an easy task, for those who have been emotionally wounded often suffer physically. For example, parts of the brain seem to function differently in those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. We can no longer separate the mind from the body; one is witness to the other. There are many wonderful therapists who can help to heal the past and allow it to become a path to a more resilient future.

On the other hand, some baggage shouldn’t even go into the overnight case. So many situations are just a brain drain. I often ask people to write down their stressors, and invariably someone will tell me how upset they get when a co-worker takes extra time at lunch. One woman went on and on about how awful this was. I asked her how long she had been aggravated about this situation and she responded, “Twenty years.” So for twenty years she had been storing this nugget of misery without trying to find a solution.

She also had the need to be a martyr. She felt it was no use to try to do anything, since no one seemed to care that she was being taken advantage of. So now we have a great blend—a martyr with baggage.

Once we have a lot of baggage, navigating life becomes harder and harder. The emotions of resentment, anger and feeling neglected make it difficult to enjoy life to the fullest. Try to make a list of what you’ve been storing and see if you can’t make a point of letting go of what will never change. The freedom you will obtain is well worth the effort. You will no longer be a slave to your mind.

 

Why can’t Valentine’s Day be everyday?

Valentine’s day has come and gone and I’m sure it made a lot of people happy, but it also left some feeling sad and lonely. I must admit I used to really get into the whole concept of needing to get a big Valentine heart filled with chocolates and a romantic card filled with loving accolades. I still find it a lovely day to spend with the one I love, but divorce, maturity on my part, and a deeper understanding of what love means has given me a different perspective about Valentine’s Day.

I really want to work on everyday being a Valentine Day. That probably sounds foolish on some level, but if we truly believe in the fact that to love and be loved is the metaphor of the Valentine message than trying to have it on a daily basis is not that farfetched.

We bandy the word love about to describe a myriad of things we enjoy. “I love chocolate, movies, eating out, going on a vacation, sleeping in, and on and on. How often have you heard people say those things? But “real” love is not about the aforementioned. They’re really about things that delight. I can delight in a variety of things. To love requires a host of ingredients.

Scientists have discovered one of the ingredients by studying prairie voles. “The prairie vole is special for having pair bonding with its partner. The male has a continuous contact with its female, which lasts for all of their lives. If the female prairie vole dies, the male does not look for a new partner. Moreover, this constant relationship is more social than sexual. For this bonding to occur, the male must stay one day with the female after they breed. “

The outcome of this study is related to the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. Human beings have the same propensity. When we touch, and cuddle we release these hormones which help to bond us. Does this all sound like “too much information”. On the contrary I find it fascinating. Love needs touching and hugging to sustain it.

Touch is an important facet, but there are also a list of other ingredients which help couples stay in right relationship to one another. The following traits have been designated to be a critical part of a lasting relationship by the Gottman Institute, leading researchers in the field of sustainable partnerships. Individuals who have endured the ups and downs of long-term relationships have strong friendships, trust, make allowances for each others foibles, create and help to foster each others dreams, use admiration instead of contempt ,manage conflict, have a shared value system, and nurture one another through gratitude and positive messages. And for me one of the most important is to learn to laugh together often!