Saturday, December 3, 2016

Emotional Problem Solving

I always wondered why my parents talked about the weather so much but now I know.  Grandad was a rancher and dad was an engineer.  Grandmother was a farm woman and mom was a journalist home maker.  They had a whole lot of experience between them.  They paid attention to the world around them and people.  They drew on this  vast wealth of ‘traditional’ and ‘conventional wisdom’ .

When something wasn’t right with them they first considered the WEATHER.  They didn’t think that they should kill themselves, divorce or change their jobs.  They just knew that commonly people are affected by the Weather.  It’s even been shown that on Wall Street trading increases on sunny days and decreases on rainy days.  It’s really not rocket science.
Next thing the old people talked about was the GOVERNMENT. Whenever anyone felt badly and were uncertain of the cause they considered the influence of Government on the overall well being of people.  Government decisions can make or break a country and can destroy individuals lives with their wars, tax programs, corruption, graft and deceit.  Throughout history next to the natural catastrophes caused by Weather, Government is the greatest source of catastrophe and illness.  That said we all know that if the Government is good and respectable and responsible there really can be peace and love in the valley.  When Governments are mature and thoughtful and productive not wasteful the society as a whole improves with general well being spreading through the land.
Old people also realized that FINANCES were a major source of anxiety and depression.  Not only research but common sense tell us that the poorer one is the more one is at risk for negative events and the more negative events one encounters.  This was truer before the social ‘net’ of modern societies which ‘catch’ people when they fall.  There’s loans, disability, welfare, food lines and charity, all manner of resources that protect one from the ravages of starvation and ‘debtors prisons’.  In some Moslem countries slavery still persists so it’s really not in some distant past that financial problems lead to really bad outcomes.  We really take this granted often simply because our education has been basically shoddy and substandard.
Naturally most of these social security developments in the First world are not present in the Third World. Their development also did not occur in a variety of cultures and historical societies but are increasingly taken for granted in the present day democratic societies most of which began in the enlightened Christian cultures which believed in ‘second chances’.  By contrast this was not a part of the ‘law of the jungle’ or ‘social darwinism’.  It’s a whole separate history to follow the rise of ‘charity’ for ‘strangers’ not just family and tribe but ‘outsiders’ and consider this by culture and religion because again it’s something most simply take for granted not realizing how unique and extraordinary this is.
That said there’s a serious issue of ‘relative wealth’ in that people adapt to certain ‘incomes’ and ‘financial capacities’ and experience loss of ‘status’ with any reduction in FINANCIAL SECURITY.  So old people had savings and made sound investments and recognized that ‘bad times’ could come. Farmers had to save for bad weather years, the droughts, and families ‘saved’ for sickness as sickness was commonly associate with loss of work capacity.  When a person felt badly they commonly recognized that they were fundamentally anxious because of FINANCES and set about remedying this by reducing unnecessary spending and looking for ‘extra work’ to increase savings and security.
HEALTH is commonly discussed by middle aged and older people. Young people are generally healthy unless they have chronic illness from childhood. Most take their ‘good health’ and lots of energy and ability to go without sleep or meals for granted yet as they get older commonly they don’t realize that their well being is directly related to their overall physical HEALTH.  When a person sees a psychiatrist the first thing the psychiatrist considers in investigating a person’s anxiety or depression is whether there is a physical cause for negative change, how long that negative change has been developing and if this might not just be a product of a temporary illness, like a flu or ‘something that’s going around’.  Old people with a variety of chronic illness, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, bowel diseases, lung diseases will simply consider that a bad day or week or month may be because their physical illness is worse. Chronic physical illness, like all psychosomatic illness responds to external stresses but can be it’s own source of stress.  When I’m well a hemorrhoid might not bother me but when I’m already anxious or depressed the bleeding hemorrhoid, a really minor health problem, may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s because of this that people faced with general malaise, anxiety or depression, or just a lack of well being and a sense they’re not happy as they might be, commonly go to their general practitioner and discuss their health concerns with them or talk about their HEALTH with their friends and family.  Maybe an antibiotics which cures a urinary tract infection is all that is necessary to right the problem. Maybe a change in diet or exercise or an increase in an anti inflammatory medications is sufficient.
Successful people faced with lack of happiness, a sense of feeling that they are not enjoying life, feelings of emptiness, or too much anxiety and maybe a sense of depression consider early their RECREATIONS.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The World Health Organization took Freud’s simple definition of Mental Health, ‘the ability to work and love’ and extended it over two full pages but really only added that Mental Health is the ‘ability to work, love and play”.  A lot of people have really barren personal lives yet somehow expect they should be happy. The adage is ‘Misery Loves Company’ and as we are ‘herd animals’ we need social outlets. Maybe our work is not that social or our family just not enough. A major proportion of todays’ divorces occur because young people want their partners to be their ‘all’, (friend, parent, therapist, lover, cook, parent, cheerleader, etc ,etc).  We all come from a tribal society where everyone was interconnected and all had close to dozens, a hundred or more people to turn to.  Today often people’s lives are sterile.  They work and eat and sleep and wonder why they suffer anxiety or depression.  Really , they need to get involved, take up some ‘sport’ even if it’s just, walking with a group.  There are countless clubs, activities, ‘MEET UPS’ on the Internet, and community organizations, and schools, churches and temples.  Really, commonly a person’s life is ‘boring’ because they are ‘boring’ and don’t have any activities in their life because of their narcissism and selfishness and unwillingness to ‘SHARE THEIR TIME”.  These people are time hoarders but like most entitleed people want something for nothing.  Yet a problem shared is a problem halved and loneliness in modern society is so often described as ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’.
FRIENDS are either as source of joy or a drain. Some are down right ‘soul suckers’ and others are chronic ‘kafetches’.  Many are ‘takers’ and ultimately one has to seriously consider how much time one has to be an emotional cheer leader of those who haven’t a minor or occasional problem but have a chronic recurrent unrellenting series of crisis.  In life saving the lifeguard is taught to swim out to help but not let the drowning person pull them down with them.  Whole communities are alcoholic or drug addicted and frankly some people need to get right out of these hell holes to get away from those who would drag themdown.  In Canada and in communist countries in general there is a phenomena called the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome which means that the ‘group’  because of some ideology actively stop those around them progressing.  They chop down the ‘tall poppy’ or ‘chop off the heads of others to make themselves look taller’.  In some tribal communities those who are doing well will have their homes broken into and wealth stolen or even have their house burnt down.  Many communities of ‘friends’ are gang like where the expectations of the ‘group ‘ is for the ‘individual’ who succeeds to ‘share ‘ his success yet this ideology destroys initiative.  Why should one person ‘work’ at an extra job and then share the reward with those who didn’t put out the effort.  A lot of individual lack of success is associated with ‘friends’ who are negative and ‘belittling’.  Being around people who say ‘nothing is going to change’, ‘life suck’s’ and various other ‘depressive statements’ is Depressing.  By contrast those who succeed and are happy commonly are surrounded by positive people. People who are enlightened are generally encouraging and supportive of those who wish to learn and excel but shy away from those who live by stealing and fawning relationships.  It’s often that we don’t have to  ‘end’ a relationship but rathe that we need to ‘distance’ ourselves or ‘spend less time’ with people who are ‘wallowing’ in their negativity
WORK is often a source of anxiety and depression but few throughout history had the LUXURY of NOT WORKING or even CHANGING THEIR JOBS.  So many accepting that work is principally to pay for the physiological needs, and provide fundamental food, clothing, and shelter simply accept their work.  They stay in less than perfect jobs because they see that those who jump around from job to job commonly ‘take their own selves ‘ with them.  PERSONALITY DISORDERS are primarily identified by the inability of an individual to stay at one job for a year. A red flag goes up with those who are workers when a person can’t last a year in the ‘class’.  Our school system was supposed to provide this basic capacity.  4 seasons, one job.  Admittedly there’s many factors to be considered but there is a direct correlation of “success’ and ‘happiness’ and ‘general well being’ for those who ‘stay’ at a position. There’s even a thing called ‘position authority’ which gives status to even a bull frog in one pond that stays rather than jumping from pond to pond.  Work is not only associated with activity which by itself is healthy but its a place of socialization which is also healthy. Buddhists even designate ‘RIGHT LIVELIHOOD” as essential to enlightenment recognizing that a lot of jobs intrinsically are depressing, risky, unhealthy or simply dehumanizing.  Prostitutes collectively are unhappy even though many ‘chose’ the job for quick wealth  It just doesn’t have the long term benefits that teaching children has.  Survey a hundred prostitutes and a hundred school teachers and the evidence is overwhelming that prostitution isn’t a very ‘high quality’ job.  The whole job world is laid out in terms of education, financial reward, risk, and effort.  Entrance level jobs have the real advantage they need low education but they commonly lack security and rarely have long term financial reward.  One has to seriously consider their work in light of what they want and what their present and future desires and needs are. All too often people have been satisfied with a particular job and had a whole lot of short term benefits from that job only to find that one day the job didn’t have longevity. This occurs with athletes and commonly with dancers.  If one doesn’t have a fall back plan or a plan to progress then it’s not uncommon for crisis to arise which could well have been foreseen and prepared for.  In today’s world it is expect that people will have three careers minimum in a lifetime and those who are “coasting’ will likely encounter job problems. While the ‘coasters’ are blaming everyone and everything for their loss of work, the rest have been upgrading their skills and taking extra training at night anticipating that their job as a ‘steam engineer’ is less than permanent.
FAMILY is a fixed ingredient. Those who are fortunate are born in loving families and learn the ART OF LOVING (see Erickson) and know that LOVE Is not something that just “HAPPENS” but needs to be nurtured and maintained.  Successful happy families pass on the SKILLS for happiness to their children and commonly this learning leads to generations of success whereas the poor believe the success is only a product of the individuals in this segment of society starting with a ‘financial nest egg’.  If this were true then those who won LOTTERIES would be similar examples of personal and societal success.   However,  commonly those who ‘win lotteries’ lose them just as quickly.  One of the reasons AID works so poorly is that it doesn’t ‘teach’ people how to produce more successfully but only cares for their needs that one day. Often what a family teaches is the cornerstone to the success of the members whereas equally so a family can be perpetrating ‘self defeating’ ideologies.  It is important to remember if we had sent Einstein to a tribe of Cannibals they would have thought him a tough rooster at best and learned nothing about energy and relativity because they were simply not capable of appreciating the genius of the man.
 Therapy was not about ‘rejecting family’ or dishing parents but about sorting out the useful teaching from the commonly once useful but now outdated ideas.  A mother might teach her daughter to avoid black men because when she grew up black men were migrant and poor but today that very statement might be a limiting ideology if the majority of black men in the community were hard working successful individuals.  If a person is a live today it’s thanks to the parents simply not killing them when they were vulnerable.  Since life if fundamental and without it all else is nothing all parents are 50% good.  Fish eat their eggs and reptiles leave them to fend for themselves.  Therapy isn’t supposed to be about ‘blaming’ but rather about understanding and learning from the past to make the present and future better.  Therefore each individual must recognize the contribution of history and not dish it outright.  Further today people commonly judge the past by the yardstick of their own limited understanding.  Dickens said, “it was the best of times and worst of times’ and this is true for all times. The trick is to be selective, learn from and make valuable alliances. Family are the main stay of society and the STATE is threatened most by family. Alone individuals are likely to perish but the capacity to form networks and communities is central to the happiness of individuals. This begins with the family.  When I worked with the most mentally ill they commonly had the worst family relationships and least social skills.  If the family can be strengthened most commonly success for individuals follows.
The LOVED ONE, the PARTNER, the most intimate sexual partner has through all cultures and classes been associated with the greatest joy and happiness at some time.    Many a person has said that their life is made by the finding and nurturing of their soulmate.  This is the person they marry. This is the person we have sex with. Sexual relationships are limited to those who we are willing to be most intimate with, most vulnerable with, closest too.  A ‘casual relationship’ is never truly casual but marriages and long term sexual relationships define emotional landscapes for all.  The Loved One is the most important person in a person’s network of relationships. That person is commonly the father or mother of the children, the most important person in the family, and the one who can most affect a person’s emotional life positively or negatively.
IF mental health is the ability to love, work and play, then it follows that a person without work or school, without a Loved One or Family or Friends would at most register ’30’% generally on a happiness scale. Those who lack that most important cherry on the happiness cake , the loved and loving one, at best might only approach a “B” grade  in the overall likelihood of general well being. There are clearly exceptions, saints, heroes, hermits but generally speaking our sense of well being follows from this simple analysis.
Now the must successful and mature people do not ‘change’ their ‘loved one’ or their ‘job’ first but progress through an analysis of what is lacking in their lives by starting at the outside.  Maybe it’s just a bad hair lousy weather day and that one could consider buying and umbrella or taking a vacation to the hot spot or improving the use of sunscreen.  There’s a whole lot of solutions to the ‘weather’ problems. I took up cross country skiing when the ‘weather’ was forcing me to curtail outside activities and I felt a prisoner in the winter city.  My general well being improved immensely. My friend has made a point of cycling and winter swimming at Wreck beach at least twice a week ‘getting outside’ and ‘facing the elements’ and their sense of well being and decrease in anxiety is amazing to see.
Recently a whole group of people rioted because they didn’t like the government but studies showed that 70% hadn’t voted.  Most of these government activist complainer types commonly don’t even join a political party.  A friend is a professor of political sciences and I watched her acquire her wisdom and generally amazing calmness around matters political by gaining in depth knowledge about the mechanisms of government, anthropology, sociology and the misinformation of media and propaganda.  When she was a student government most upset her but today she’s probably the least ‘upset’ person I know in this regard because she is actively participating in government, making things better for herself and other individuals.
Countless times I’ve seen people’s general malaise and depression a product of something so simple medically as hypothyroidism.  Depression and anxiety are commonly the presenting symptoms of countless treatable illnesses. Increasingly most depression and anxiety I see has it’s roots in addictions, substance abuse, alcoholism, pornography, eating disorders.
Work problems arise in every job and in every life but rather the ‘take this job and shove it’ over the years mature individuals have formed unions, discussed the negatives of their job with co workers, counsellors and even the boss.  These minor changes in a person’s life can reap amazing results in solving emotional problems
Obviously spending less time with a ‘soul sucker’ , that constantly ‘needy’ , person always bitter and always complaining, will lead to less stress and more room for positive relationships.  Maintaining contact with family but modulating the time and distance of the relationships is a sure fire way of improving one’s happiness simply because these are the template of all relationships that follow and the source of so much joy for those whose lives are most successful.
Finally the most mentally ill commonly admit to having their longest intimate relationship as under a year, under five years, or under 10 years.  Relationships are like vehicles and if you keep crashing or trading in your primary vehicle for relational happiness then you really would benefit from seeing a psychiatrist not to discuss what the partner is doing wrong but to learn what others do right and what you are doing wrong.  The Gottman Institute “love labs’ studies successful happy couples and unhappy couples and scientifically came up with a set of rules that are simply not rocket science but really do give a decent basis for  setting up or repairing broken relationships before they get trashed by this ‘throwaway unhappy society’
The main reason I wrote this though was to simply encourage people to consider problem solving from the weather inward to work and loved one rather than dumping the job and life partner only to find it El Nino was all that was wrong and if you’d waited a year the weather would have improved and you could have saved the cost and pain of trashing work and love.
Finally spirituality is associated with the greatest happiness and joy for most people.  Research shows that spiritual people are overall happier and more prosperous with greater security and success. This doesn’t mean any one religion or any one moral prescription is right but it does tend to challenge atheist political idealogies that reject the spiritual community lives of the most successful individuals in society.  Perhaps when all else fails or earlier ,one might consider, as Victor Frankl, the psychiatrist who survived Auswitch, encouraged, asking yourself "what is the meaning of life”.  What is your relationship to God   Or  perhaps change the word, God, to  the GOOD.  What is the Good to you or what is the GOOD LIFE.  Often emotional problems solving follows ‘reframing’ the question'.
In the end it’s your life.  Enjoy.

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