Archive for November, 2011

Coping with Holiday Age Regression.

I remember a disjointed discussion with my father in the nursing home.  He said something that made me feel like a child and I asked him, “How old do you think I am, anyway Dad?”  He looked confused and said, “What are you, 15?  No, that can’t be!  You must be at least 20 now.”

My father had developed dementia at the end of his life and yet, long before this incident I felt as if he had me frozen at some earlier age.  For instance, he always seemed to be shocked that I could drive a car.

As the holidays approach, we may spend more time with family, and as we get into the family force field, we can be immediately regressed to some age between 4 and 18.  In most cases, the family’s view of us just never grew up with us.  The family force field is very powerful, and we may contribute to it ourselves, seeing our parents as all powerful or our siblings as brats.

It’s difficult to be a powerful 50 year old when the whole clan treats you like a pre teen.  Even if your mother coddles you, the price for this coddling is to go home feeling quite depleted.  Avoiding the gathering can make the problem worse, you naughty brat!

This phenomenon is the family’s collusion to stay in the past and avoid of the present moment.  And sometimes, they will vigorously reject your attempts to change the dynamic.  After all, it’s comforting to believe that Father knows best or that your sister doesn’t have emotional problems.   But assuming you want to live in the present, how do you keep your power and sanity without giving up your relatives?

It might help to move the festivities out of the parental home, but the siblings can still be expert at keeping you regressed to that teen who snuck out the bathroom window to see her boyfriend.

The solution, of course, is to spend the holidays somewhere far, far away, from which airfare is prohibitive.  However, if you cannot swing relocation or you live in an airline hub, you might try getting completely centered and staying in the present moment.  This can be done with martial arts, mediation, or yoga.  You may not convince your family that you’re really 45 now, but then again, you might.  The point is to convince yourself of who you are right now.

You can also borrow a tactic from NLP (neurolinguistic programming) called a pattern interrupt.  In normal parlance, this is a distraction.  When your brother begins his recitative about your disastrous choice of mates, you say something like, “Is that a bear in the yard?” or “Who’s peeking in the window?”  which jolts everyone’s attention away from your brother and into the yard.

Of course you must use this sparingly or you’ll end up like the boy who cried wolf.  And, for safety reasons you should avoid distractions like yelling “fire!” in a movie theater or out on the rifle range.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your special turkeys!

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How You Look from Behind

I used to sit in the back of the room at staff meetings and um, well, uh, I would daydream. In one especially riveting meeting, I noticed that 8 out of 10 women present had styled their hair on the front and sides, but had left the back uncurled or uncombed! From the front, these ladies presented a very together appearance, but they were totally unaware of what they looked like from behind.

This is the way subconscious feelings and patterns affect us. You meet someone who presents a cheery, positive face to the world, but you sense an underlying insecurity, sadness, or even anger. No matter how positive and socially skilled you are, your innermost feelings are there, broadcasting subliminal messages that may contradict your demeanor.

Most of the time, this is no big deal. We all have a mix of conscious and unconscious things going on. But if you are pretending to like someone you truly dislike, they will sense it. If you are secretly insecure, I guarantee, most everyone else is aware of it on some level.

How do you know what unconscious obstacles and patterns may be tripping you up if you are not conscious of them? You can become conscious of the unconscious by looking at reflections of yourself, much as my colleagues at the meeting should have done when fixing their hair in the morning.

The first mirror is body feelings. Many of us have been schooled to ignore feelings, but they never lie. Make an affirmation about your wildest dream and see how it makes you feel. For example, “Men find me so attractive they run up to me at the mall and offer me gifts.” Then listen – really listen – to your body. If the statement is true you will feel peaceful. If the statement is false, you will feel some dissonance, or tension, somewhere in your body. (Hint: probably in your belly.)

Another great mirror is other people, but look at the reactions of most people not just a few. Do you get odd reactions from people in general? Are people often rude for no reason? You are probably not a truly awful person, or you wouldn’t be reading this. People are reacting to some dissonance they sense in your person. They probably are not conscious of their reaction, so don’t bother asking them.

The third good mirror is an intuitive coach, counselor or consultant. Find one who has expertise in the area you have trouble with, whether relationships, marketing, managing people, or communications. Intuition helps the expert to quickly identify your unconscious patterns and obstacles and point them out to you. Their expertise helps them guide you to deal with the issues identified. A good intuitive expert will not distort your reflection much.