Passive Aggressive Behavior and How to Change it

Lots of folks are fond of pointing out when others are behaving in a passive-aggressive way, especially when those “others” are your partner in a relationship.  But did you know that passive-aggressive behavior was trained into most of us in childhood?  And did you know that passive-aggressive people tend to be attracted to passive-aggressive partners?  AND did you know there is a solution that can turn your life around??

pa-raven

You may recognize passive-aggressive behavior as what happens when your wife or mother vacuums the floor when you’re trying to watch the game, but it STARTS with the fact that she was trained NOT to ask you for help with the cleaning.  That’s right!  Well meaning people train their kids that its RUDE to ask for some things directly, or to say what you really mean.  Sure, it SEEMS nice to avoid asking people for help and instead wait for the “nice” people to offer their help.  It seems “nice” to ask your friend details of their day first as a segue way into dialogue when you’re actually aching to talk about your OWN week.  It seems “nice” to ask your co-workers where they’d like to go for lunch when you’ve actually got your heart set on Chinese.  But these are NOT nice ways to behave.  These are passive-aggressive behaviors parading as “nice”.

 

If you find yourself hinting around about what you’d like for your birthday, or waiting to be asked or surprised, you, my friend, are passive aggressive.  If you call up a friend and ask about her day, then stew because she doesn’t reciprocate, your passive-aggressive (P-A) training is interfering with your life.  If you go along with what your friends want to do on your night out but find yourself vaguely prickly and disgruntled without knowing why, you’re one!    If you find yourself getting angry and silent a lot without really knowing why, you too.  If you can’t ask for what you want in bed (even if your partner wants to know!) its time to re-train yourself!

pa-jesus

As adults, we all have the right AND the responsibility to re-train ourselves.  If you’ve read The Secret, The Law of Attraction, or other such books, you know that you can achieve your dreams if you focus on what you truly want.  But your P-A training may have been so effective that you can no longer really identify what you want out of life or even lunch.  This is sadly unfortunate but common.

 

How to Change?

Re-training yourself is both easier and harder than you think.  It’s easy because you only need to practice ASKING for what you want and SAYING what you mean early and often.  It is difficult because doing so goes against all your training.   It may feel awkward, rude or incredibly difficult to start speaking up at first.  You may discover you often have no idea exactly what you want.  Alas, you’re in good company.

But if you want to stop your angry outbursts, stop hinting around and being misunderstood, stop manipulating others to get what you want, the solution is always the same:

  1. Identify your wants and needs
  2. Say it out loud.
  3. Say it to others.

With practice, it will become easier and more natural.

What if you’re struggling with step 1.?  One solution is to place your hand over your heart, ask yourself how you feel or what you want & notice your feelings.  This is an NLP technique that makes good decision-making easier.  Begin to use this technique whenever you’re unsure of your feelings or desires.  After some practice, your own feelings will become more and more clear.

Step 2. involves speaking out loud to yourself.  Even this may feel awkward at first.  But ALL healthy people talk to themselves and talking out loud is practice for speaking up to others.

When it comes to step 3. you’ll want to guard against anger.  It might at first seem like you have to feel an angry sense of injustice before speaking up to others.  Some “How To” memes may even encourage your right to say “NO” and reject those who seem to bully you into going along with the desires of others.  But as an adult, you owe it to yourself to accept that no one in your life is overriding your wants and needs, you’re simply letting them have their way by keeping silent.  Don’t muster your courage to speak with anger or blame.  Simply speak up when you know what you want.

pa-comic

You’ll also be speaking up to say what you DON’T want, but avoid focusing on the No’s.  In fact you’ll do well to soften the No’s by using phrases like:   I’d rather not.  I really prefer not to.  I’m going to have to decline.  I’d love to, if only I had the time.  I’m afraid I’ve got my heart set on something else.  So kind of you to ask, I’ll take a rain check.  Soon you’ll find that the only one who was bullying you was yourself and the voices in your head.  Voices, btw that may sound vaguely like an angry parent telling a child its rude to ask…or deny.

Remember: speak your desires early and often.  Soon it will be fun and easy!  If the transition back to getting what you want out of life (instead of what everyone else wants FOR you) is too hard, come in to Clear Mirror Healing for help and support.  We’ll get you back in charge of your own life in as few as 3 sessions!

Footnote:  If you’ve read all this and find yourself thinking “Huh, I always speak my mind.”  It’s very likely you are somewhere on the ASD spectrum ( See ASD is NOT a Disease  )  And all your parent’s efforts to train you out of speaking clearly and directly have happily failed.  Congratulations!  If you want to find friends who are also clear, direct, uninhibited and TRULY KIND, look for other ASD folks.  They’ll be the one’s speaking up only when they actually have something to say…and the one’s who’s fashion sense is a bit unique…and the one’s content with a good book or their own solitude.  You know the type:  the folks like YOU.

 

 

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Six Stories of Skin

This post is dedicated to Noelle a good friend of my good friend and daughter, and to her efforts with the Black Lives Matter Movement, and to her struggles, and to her lovely skin.

Map_of_Indigenous_Skin_Colors

The Colors of Our Mothers

It was only maybe ten years ago, doing the Human Genome Project that scientists were able to discover where race came from in the human race.  People had already noticed that our skin tones were darkest in the equatorial countries, becoming gradually lighter in bands moving north and only in the high cold northern regions where the sun sets for months at a time did you find the lightest skinned peoples evolved with hair washed out to pale reds and blonds and eyes gone all blue.  It seems that the dark skin of humans protected a person from the loss of folate where the sun was bright and harsh and the pale skin allowed the skin to absorb vitamin D where the sun was pale and weak.  Without enough folate in her body a mother could not build the brain and nervous system of her fetus, so no baby would come to term.  Without vitamin D she could not form the bones of her fetus, so no baby would be born.  Given time, the only women giving birth to living babies would be the dark women at the equator and the very pale women in the high Northern latitudes.  Given more time all the children and then all the people of the equatorial regions would inherit the dark skin and hair of their mothers while all the children and then all the people of the far north would inherit the pale skin and light hair of their mothers.  And between these climes would form all the beautiful bands of the human rainbow.

Now today mothers can take both vitamins in tablet form and even wear sunscreen or sit under sun lamps, so the rainbow is blending in new ways.  But at one time this was not so.  In that early time there were other species of people, not just true humans, Homo sapiens, that we have today.  Along the coast of what is now France there were people who evolved there over many thousands of years called the Neanderthals.  Their bodies had adapted to life in the colder climate in many ways.  Their hair was thick and covered more of their bodies their bones and their limbs were thicker and sturdier, their bodies shorter and more chunky and their skin was light.  Their hair was still dark, because they were not evolved in the near-dark of the highest latitudes.

At that time some of our ancestors, the true Homo Sapiens, made their way out of the Fertile Crescent and up the coastline to that place that is now France.  There they met and settled down with the Neanderthal people and lived together for more than one thousand years.  I say more than a thousand because the truth is, they never again separated.  They became one people.  Even though that may seem strange to us today that people of different skins and different hair, and different bodies, and different ways, people who were even different species could live peacefully together, that is what they did.  But in the end the people who descended from the Fertile Crescent just out of Africa were so beautiful that only their species remained.  And they became us.

Our mothers brought with them art on their bodies, art in their hair, art that they painted on their walls and carved on stone and wood and bone. Perhaps they even sang art and told art stories.  And art, after all, is beauty.  Soon the records show that the human’s art found its way to the homes of the Neanderthal.  The DNA shows that the beauty found its way into the hearts and the bodies of both people and they made children of two species.  But children of two species cannot make children of their own.  So the children of two species left their bones in the soil and left only small etchings on the genetic code of our ancestors, the brown people just up from Africa with their art and their beauty. And soon, or rather, after quite a long time really, the Neanderthal left their bones and their thoughts with those children’s bones.  They lived on only in the art on the walls, and in the blood and the skin of our people for many thousands more years.  Until the Human Genome scientists found their stories in the cells of our modern mothers.

 

A Lighter Shade of Brown

I served in Peace Corps Kenya in the late 80’s.  South of Mombasa thirteen kilometers inland from the Indian Ocean was a small village whose population doubled when the school was in session.  For two long years of equatorial learning this village was my home.  There, far from the tourist dollar, people’s skin was described by a pallet of colors ranging from black to brown.  A very dark person might be called black and a darker one, very black.  A medium toned person was called “somehow brown”, a lighter person brown, or even very brown.  But a child told me once that of the whole village, I was, without a doubt the brownest one of all.

 

Red Skins

My youngest child was in third grade when she came home asking me about American slavery.  You may wonder how a child in America makes it through to third grade without hearing about slavery but we are white people and the school was in the deep south.  When I explained to her what had happened in our country’s early years, her little shoulders slumped and she said it made her ashamed to be white.  I understood her feelings but I told her the important thing was not to feel ashamed but to stand up for brown people when you see discrimination and to make sure such things never happen in the future.

At Thanksgiving I attended a pageant at her school that included a play.  As the play unfolded I realized with slowly dawning horror that all the little white children had been cast as pilgrims and all the little brown children were cast as the native Americans.  As if the children themselves were mere props to be moved about on the stage according to their colors.  I looked around at the other parents expecting to see the same offended looks on their faces.  But there at the mouth of the Mississippi dis-empowerment is a thing that runs deep in the mud and the blood .

That night I called some friends who were also parents at the school and by Monday I headed down to talk with the principal.  We all saw it and we were all offended but I was the only one who felt I could confront the principal so I was the one who must.  I felt ridiculous slowly explaining to the grown man who ran a school that this was racist behavior, not to be institutionalized, and certainly not taught to children.  At first he laughed it off telling me that “they” choose to segregate themselves in the cafeteria and this was probably just another example.  Eventually he was pretending mild outrage and promising to reprimand the teacher in charge.  I pointed out that reprimand was not appropriate, but education was.  If the teacher had any idea how very ugly her behavior was she would not have put it on display.

I thought I could never make him understand what he did not want to understand.  Then something shifted.  I mentioned the feelings of the other parents I had called and he turned on me, “Why do you want to stir things up?!?”  he shouted, this time in real outrage.  I stood my ground.  The play had done the stiring, not me.  I was just keeping him informed.  I smoothed things over.  I left.

The next time I came to sign my children out I was told they had already been picked up by “their mother” earlier that day.  I was no longer listed on my own children’s emergency card, instead their stepmother’s name was listed.  Though I had volunteered in the school for years, my legal custody was questioned.  I was asked to produce legal papers.  I was made to pay to get their records transferred.  Their stepmother was a mixed race woman with blond curls and light skin.  She had learned to use spite to dis-empower others.  She had used her cruelty to become an “Us” while I had used my humanity to become a “them.”  Though, I’m pretty sure there were no more segregated Thanksgiving plays held at that school.

Rosy-cheeks

Pink

In my home in Kenya I taught science and English at the Secondary school, which is like our High Schools.  One day we had a Field Day and I spent all day cheering on student athletes and tracking score cards with the other teachers.  As the day of fun in the equatorial sun was winding down, one jovial Kenyan teacher aptly observed that white people should actually be called Pink people instead.  All eyes turned to me with friendly smiles and bright curious eyes.

I would like to say I was a big enough person to appreciate that my coworkers had never seen another person’s skin toasted to a rosy glow in a long day of sunshine.  But I was not that big.  I was drained.  I was hot.  I was embarrassed.   My mind drifted back to my early elementary years when I was the shy child who never spoke, when my classmates would tease me just to see the color rise up my neck to take my face.  Someone would point out that even my little ears were pink, then everyone would giggle as they turned pinker still.  I didn’t think pink was cute or rosy.  I thought pink was ugly and awful.

I scowled at the ground and muttered something about my being “very pink even for white people”.  I remained sullen the rest of the day.  And when I could, I skulked home to splash water on my face and to cry big fat tears of self pity alone.  They meant no harm.  They didn’t understand, but I simply did not care to help them.

blue line

Blue is a Color Too

When I was a child I was taught that the police were our friends.  If I was ever lost or in trouble, I should just find a policeman and he would help.  And I continued to believe that through most of my childhood and youth.  But I began to see that things were not quite right.

Then once in medical school, I found myself having a nervous breakdown.  I was frightened, unsure of myself, I walked to the home of the only friend I knew could understand and help me.  I begged him to talk to me.  But instead he called the police.  Five men arrived and beat me, a small 5′ white woman.  They broke my nose.  They broke a rib. They pepper sprayed me point blank in the face.  They all wrote identical and false reports in which I was fighting them violently.

For a few years I shook violently whenever I saw policemen nearby.  When I was pulled for a mild traffic violation, I became hysterical.  I wept.

But then a young African American policeman came to my practice as a patient.  He had been through a serious life or death event and he was shaken.  He needed his confidence back.  He made good progress.  Then one day he came for an appointment with little to say.  In the course of treatment I found that he was hot with rage.  There had been an incident in a very dangerous neighborhood.  He and a partner were walking the beat and his partner spotted a group of “thugs” gathering on a corner.  My client happened to spot only a group of black men in casual clothing.  He said, “Let me handle this.”  He walked over to the men and calmly asked what they were doing.  It turned out they were fathers of the neighborhood gathering for a vigil for a 14 year old boy who had been shot there.  My patient was able to de-escalate the situation and everyone went home safe.

Back at the precinct, though the story was told differently.  My client was labeled a “coward” and was bullied and ridiculed by the other cops.  He knew he was right though.  I knew it too.  He didn’t knuckle under to the institutionalized culture of cruelty and racism.

He missed a few weeks appointments.   When he came back he had been pressured into more and more dangerous duties until he resigned.  He was working temporarily as a glorified security guard and he was receiving late night phone calls from his old boss, making threats and innuendos, fishing for private information.  His relationship was taking the toll. But he was happier than I had ever seen him.

Very Black

Fade to Black

The most beautiful young woman in my Biology class in New Orleans had the deep smooth rich skin that my Kenyan village would have called Very Black.  Her hair was also very dark and smooth and her eyes were deep and warm and brown.  But she missed so many days and dozed through so many classes that finally she had to come for remedial work after school just to pass.  As we worked one on one we got to know each other.

I learned that she was working to support her older sister in college.  And that she was walking miles in the sun to get home after our remedial classes.  And to my surprise I learned that she hated the way her long walks in the New Orleans sun made her skin so very dark.  In my awkward way I expressed my shock and blurted out that I thought her skin was the most beautiful I had ever seen, that I often wished I had skin like hers instead of the pink freckly mess I had to wear.  But here, I offered, I have lots and lots of sunscreen.  I used it to keep my skin from going all red and splotchy.  She was welcomed to some.

Then I caught myself and blushed.  I was being embarrassingly familiar from a teacher to a student.  I thought her skin was lovely, that’s all, but the sunscreen was hers to take because I certainly knew by now that its not how others see our skin that matters so much as how we feel in it.  She didn’t smile back, she gaped.  She told me how she had always admired my colors, my blue eyes, my hair with its glints of silver by the ears, and yes, even my skin.  She thanked me for the sunscreen and kept some.  From there we finished the semester both trying to politely drift out of that odd circle of familiarity we had stumbled into.  The next semester and through her senior year I would spot her in the halls, always stunningly beautiful and always oddly looking my way at just the same moment with that curious gaping stare.

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Navigating Emotions – for Aspie’s, ASD’s and Normals

My college sophomore constantly discovers differences between herself as a Aspie* and her bell-curver* classmates.  This time she found she is a lot worse at understanding other people’s facial expressions than she first thought.  A teacher showed her class a bunch of faces and ask them to identify the emotions expressed.  Every one else was immediately naming the emotions they were supposed to be. But she didn’t even get a third of them right.  She was coming up with a couple answers that each could be and doubting herself because there wasn’t any context.  All of her answers were usually wrong from the intended one.  She was able to connect her confusion to experiences of working on projects with partners who would not tell her how they felt about something even though she asked politely more than once. It was a frustrating situation.

Bellcurvers = Normal

Bell-curve-normal friends suggested that “most people* do not say what they are feeling verbally because they are in fact saying it with body language and facial expressions. Most people are born programmed to be able read these signs with no effort. The people in the class could distinguish the emotions from the pictures because the furrowed eyebrows and tightly puckered lips will mean anger in any context, so no context is needed.”

Me (3yo) and my sister. I'm on the right, obviously.

Me (3yo) and my sister. I’m on the right, obviously.

Me at 5yo. The only one NOT smiling.

Me at 5yo. The only one NOT smiling.


Reflecting on my own childhood and youth, I realized that I have studied these silent signals since I was quite young, with the intent of blending in and passing for normal.  If you look at my earliest childhood photos I am the one with the blank, often serious look on my face.  The same look is used for early diagnosis of autistic children.  Later on I affect an expression more in keeping with the others.  But as late as high school I clearly remember friends and strangers alike passing me in the hall and shouting at me to “Smile!” and “Don’t be so serious!”  It was a command that I thought very sexist. “I’m not your hood ornament,” I would think, “If you don’t like my looks, look at someone else.”

Me in High School practicing “Normal” (On the left, obviously)

But I did try.  From elementary school on I recall watching and copying  people’s gestures and expressions for hours at a time.  In high school I made a study of people’s walks.  My Aspie sophomore has the walk typical of most ASD folks:  hunched shoulders, hands dangling limply at the sides, slightly concave chest, feet sloping forward in an awkward shuffling pace.  If you are ASD and want to find others in your tribe, look for that walk.

The ASD walk

The ASD walk

All that studying of mine has led me to be a very good counselor.  And since I have been working as a counselor for many years now, allow me to share some of my observations as well as skills and techniques for navigating the world of emotions.

Skills for Understanding Emotions

As a therapist, helping people sort and deal with their feelings is pretty much my job.  Once I have an idea what kind of feelings are blocking a person, the hypnosis can be VERY effective at changing the negative patterns for good…in just one session.  So the real challenge is simply getting people to talk about their feelings.  Despite what our normal friend said,  I can tell you MOST people are out of touch with their own feelings, let alone other people’s.  Often, they manipulate themselves into feeling things they were taught was appropriate. Example: women will often deny feeling angry and instead say they feel sad. Thus, anger over something they could stand up for and make it STOP…becomes depression because they don’t vent it, they push it inward where it begins to eat away at their happiness.  Similarly, men often deny ALL feelings BUT anger.  And, like the women with their depression, when men channel all their feelings into anger they create more problems than they solve.  Problems like rage, belligerence, isolation, alcoholism, and violent crime.  (It’s not because they’re men or women.  It’s because of how they were socialized as children.  If you have children in your life, PLEASE read:  How to Raise Children and Pets  )    Don’t take my word on this, go ahead and look it up.

What you’ll find is statistics that show depression is much more common in women than men, and men are more likely to show anger, suffer alcoholism and commit violent crime. This has MUCH more to do with socializing and parenting kids to fit into discrete little boxes called “male” and “female” than it does with the actual differences in male and female brains.

Another problem I see with the BC-normal assumption that recognizing emotions by expression is somehow instinctive?  Normals* often place responsibility for other people’s feelings on themselves & NOT on the one feeling stuff.  This can lead to a lot of problems.  As a baseline that kind of thinking leads to people who, like my clients, do not even know WHAT they are feeling, let alone how to process it.  It can also lead to irresponsible behavior (making others responsible for our feelings) and in some cases it leads to manipulation.  There’s an old stereotype that says women use tears to manipulate their men.   In my experience, though, MEN use emotions to manipulate just as much as women.  But when we take responsibility for our OWN feelings and let others do the same, there’s no room for manipulation.

The way to do it is say what you’re feeling as soon as I can identify it.  Also say what you want, early and often.  When you cry, it’s NOT because I’m sad or hurt, its to release a big wave of emotions – any variety of emotions.  Always let people (especially the men) know, “I’m  NOT hurt or sad, I’m just overwhelmed with ______ (happiness, relief, stress, worry, etc).”

If you are a BC-Normal and you’re still reading, first:  Thank You!  Secondly, please consider that recognizing other people’s feelings is probably NOT instinct.  It’s probably conditioning and rote memorization.  You’re probably guessing those feels wrongly about 50% of the time AND that is probably leading to misunderstanding, confusion, and frustration.  And it’s probably may allow other people to manipulate and use you against your will.  At the very least, it is occupying a significant portion of your brain and energy that could otherwise be used for creative problem solving.  So, the following tools could really free you up.

Guessing rather than expressing feelings makes for great comedy.

Guessing rather than expressing feelings makes for great comedy.

Skills and Tools – for Getting People to Talk about Feelings

One of my techniques for helping men open up and share so I can help them is to start an argument. This also works well with military women.  If you get someone to debate with you about any topic you will begin to hear bits and pieces of their emotional life.  I’ve learned to listen to what they are NOT saying and you can too.  If a person says, “My GF is totally vegan, she won’t even buy meat.”  He hasn’t told me that he’s NOT vegan.  He hasn’t told me that he’s annoyed that his girlfriend won’t go to a steakhouse or bring home some fried chicken for dinner.  Those are the things he’s NOT saying.  Those are the things I write down as emotional road blocks. You can also use empathy to sense their feelings.  But everyone has a bit of empathy if they dare to use it.

Empathy for a friend

Empathy for a friend

You can also get people to share feelings by asking for advice.  Mention an imaginary “friend” who’s struggling with…whatever.  But its a Rule that people often like to give advice about other people’s feelings, rather than talk directly about themselves.  Most of the time we are projecting our own feelings when we consider how others might feel.  They may also volunteer what this other person “should” do, which gives you the chance to ask “Why?”  At that point they will likely share anecdotes from their own childhood that are key to their emotional state.

By far my favorite technique is the Pregnant Pause.  I simply ask directly, “How are you feeling?” or “How do you feel about that diagnosis (project, upcoming test, etc)?” And. Then. Wait…………………..and wait……………..and wait………  Most BC-Normals are VERY uncomfortable with silence, so they will begin to hunt around and guess at what they might actually be feeling.  Then my job is simply to repeat what they’ve said so they can hear it for themselves.  They say, “I’m fine with it.”  Me, “You’re fine…?”  Them, “Well, you know, I’m a little nervous, I mean, shouldn’t I be?”  Me, “So you feel nervous?”  Them, “Hell’s bells!  I’m in a complete panic!! What should I do?!” Me, “Oh, sure, I’ll bet anyone would feel a bit panicked.”

You see, BC-Normals have been conditioned to look outside themselves for approval.  Aspie’s and other ASD’s* are simply resistant to that kind of conditioning.  If you ask an Aspey friend how they’re feeling about the up coming presentation, expect her to pause for a few moments and then report, “I think I’m well prepared, but every so often my thoughts spiral into a crescendo approaching panic.  I’m just not that comfortable with so many people looking at me.” or they will simply say, “I’m not sure HOW I feel, its such a jumble of things.”  In any event, and ASD will tell you the truth as best they can, no guile, no subterfuge, no “shoulds”.  ASD’s are not necessarily better at feelings, they just resist the conditioning that convolutes them unnecessarily.

Skills and Tools – for Spotting Feelings

If you can’t tell by looking at someone what they feel, you may try to get a response by asking directly, “What are you feeling?” But there are many situations in which BC-Normals won’t answer that, or won’t answer honestly.  Remember, the reason is likely because they’ve been conditioned to think people should guess their feelings.  If you ask directly, they may get offended, or begin to blame you – especially if what they’re actually feeling is something they’ve been taught is “rude” or “wrong”.  Don’t feel bad and don’t accept blame.  It’s really NOT about you and there really are NO rude feelings and NO wrong feelings.  It’s just unfortunate conditioning.  And by “conditioning” I mean they were smacked every time they did it wrong, usually without explanation.

Guess Work

Don’t give up, either!  Say something like “You look cross”
That usually gets the person to say, “No, I’m ______( tired, jealous, angry, hungry).”  Notice, ALL of those feelings can look alike.  Also notice, when you guess at someone’s feelings, soften the word a bit.

  • Instead of Angry, say cross.
  • Instead of painful, say tender.
  • Instead of depressed, say sad.
  • Instead of panicked, say uneasy.
  • Instead of exhausted, say tired.

There’s a reason for this softening.  It is important, because the poor Bellcurvers have usually been punished for emoting too strongly.  YES, actually hit for crying! They may have internalized the notion that some emotions can be TOO emotional.  This is hogwash and poppycock.

poppycock hogwash1

Emotions are never too anything.  They are exactly right for the individual feeling them, unless they are being stuffed, stored, or inverted instead of being ventilated by identifying them and talking or acting on them.  But, if you guess using an intense descriptor, many bellcurvers will deny the feeling, even if you got it exactly right, because they’re afraid of being too emotional.
Lastly,  if you’ve tried asking, and you’ve tried guessing, and they still won’t share, you don’t need to bother yourself with their feelings.  All you need to do is communicate.  What you say is:  “Well, I don’t know how you feel, so I can’t take your feelings into account.”  Then do your best to shake off their stares and glares and funny expressions and move on.  Do your best to work around their feelings, whatever they are.  Eventually, this technique will either get the BellCurver to put their feelings into words for you OR it will get them to share their feelings with a third person or two (in the form of gossip), who will most likely tell you about your friends feelings.  Regardless of whether you hear the feelings from your friend or a third person, count it as good.  You’ve finally got the info you needed.  Your friend got to express themselves.  And MOST importantly what other people think of you is None. Of.  Your. Business.

In fact, I’ve had people tell me they thought I was “really cool” because I don’t care what “They” think.  Huh, imagine that!  Cool because I don’t even try to be cool.  And all this posh glamour can be yours at the low, low cost of Minding Your Own Business!

Angry?

Angry

Angry?

Pay attention to my anger!

Frightened?

No please!

Happy hour?

Wine?

 

 

 

 

Skills and Tools – For Dealing with Your Own Feels

Avoid emotional tangles and passive-aggressive mean-fests by applying these neat-o skills:

  1. Identify your own feelings ASAP. Say, “I feel _____.” both early and often.  That will keep the simple feelings from building up into unmanageable globs of mish-mashed feelings.
  2.  If you’re not sure HOW you feel, but you know you are feeling something big, Say, “I need a day (moment, few hours, week) to think.”  Say, “I don’t know how I feel yet.”  “I’m not sure how to feel about that.”  “I’m not ready to talk about it.”  Then, please take the initiative to bring up the issue again when you can name some of your feelings.  Remember:  You’ve got a right to ALL your feelings.
  3. Telling others that is something that works well too.  Whenever other people tell you THEIR feelings spontaneously: “You’ve got the right to your feelings.”  I’ve used that as a parent:  Kid, “I don’t want to go to school!! I HATE school!”  Me, “You’ve got the right to feel that way.  I’ll give you 15 minutes more sleep, then we have to get moving.”  As a teacher: Student, “I HATE you, Ms. Thompson!” Me, “Ok, you’ve got that right.  The assignment is due by the end of the class.”  And as a partner: BF, “You’re making me mad!!”  Me, “You have a right to your anger.  Any thing I can do differently?”
  4.  When talking face to face make emoticons with your face and hands.  If you’re not sure which ones to use you can watch anime characters, matching the faces with the feelings or words.  You can watch your teachers, parents and friends then recreate their expressions and tone, like I did.  You can also try out for plays or hire an acting coach.  A lot of ASD people do VERY well as actors.  You get to try on a bunch of different personas without risk and the director will often tell you what emotions to show for which lines.   And its fun!  Which is the MAIN point of emotions: to know when you’re having fun and to have fun with other people as much as possible!

*Aspie, ASD = Asperger or on the Autism Spectrum

*Normal, Most people, Bellcurver, BC-Normal = Not on the Autism Spectrum

ASD feels KEY: 3, 11, 3, 2/5 – 2/5, 8, 2/5, 4 – 2/5, 13, 6, 7 – 11, 8, 15, 16 …..oh, whatever!!

 

 

 

 

More About Autism – Stimming

I “accidentally” diagnosed myself as Asperger’s/ASD when I was helping my daughter answer some detailed checklists for her counselor.  I guess I’m one of those females that slipped through undiagnosed.  Looking back, I can see that what I did was observe “normal” people in social interactions, notice patterns, and develop algorithms to explain the appropriate behaviors and then store those algorithms as “rules” to follow in social situations. These rules have helped me pass for (almost!) normal most of my life and I have relied on them to help my daughters through social situations.

In any event, I’ve long been aware of my differences.  I just didn’t know there were others like me.  But one of the distinctive things about the ASD brain is that all ASD folks are wired differently.  Yet there are similarities.  There are patterns that can help parents of ASD kids as well as adult ASD folks like myself.  My goal is to help explain what’s going on with the mental wiring and how you can make the most of the advantages…and circumvent problems.

stims

Stimming            

One type of behavior that sets the ASD population apart is stimming, short for self-stimulatory behavior.  The thing about it is most all people engage in stimming when they’re trying to think.  If you’ve ever tapped your pencil, drummed your fingers, chewed your nails, or scratched your head in thought, you have engaged in stimming.  So why is it that ASD folks get so carried away with the stimming that they are known to rock themselves, flap their arms, chew pencils into twisted skeletons, talk to themselves out loud, or pace incessantly?

stim pencil

The answer is basically that people stim NOT to think but to STOP thinking.  Stimming is just a way to distract the conscious mind so that the subconscious can use the brain long enough to come up with a new idea. Most of the creative new ideas are products of the subconscious, which operates outside of time to access ALL of our memories at once, cross-reference them with the problem at hand and come up with new possibilities at the speed of thought.  In order to let the subconscious do all that we’ve got to stop thinking of the problem consciously.  And, as I mentioned in my last article ( link!) ASD people think a lot more than normal.  So, it often takes more stimming to stop the ASD conscious mind long enough to access the subconscious.

Another part of the answer is that ASD kids often have people who attempt to stop their stimming before it has had the desired effect.  So then it becomes a circular exercise.  The stimming increases and may take more dramatic forms (like slapping one’s own head) as the ASD person gets frustrated or overwhelmed with emotions, whilst still attempting to clear the conscious mind and get back to the original problem and its solution.

How to Control Stimming

Given that, what’s the best way to stop a person from wild uncontrolled stimming?  DON’T try to stop them at all.  Instead of getting all bent out of shape because someone is tapping or rocking or talking to themselves, try building some acceptable forms of stimming into their day.  There are companies who have wonderful collections of objects for stimming, from textured putty to chew-able jewlery, to phone cases with built in bubble wrap.  And you can also rely on everyday objects, like bubble wrap, silly putty, moon sand, gum, etc.

stim toy

stim toy

In fact, you can teach any child to engage in stimming in order to access creative ideas, integrate newly learned information, or process emotions.  Teachers and parents would do well to follow any 20 minute lesson with 10 minutes of stim play, such as sand and water tables.  Or kids can hold a bit of clay or putty to fiddle with DURING lessons.  Even better, hands on activities can be used at regular intervals to allow students to make those neuron connections.

chewy jewlery

chewy jewlery

What you want to avoid at all costs, however, is pressuring an ASD person while they are stimming.  Remember, all people use stimming to problem solve.  So if you fuss at, restrict, shame, talk to or otherwise interfere with an ASD person’s stimming you are actually heaping on more and more problems to be solved.  Now, in addition to a thinky problem they have a complex emotional problem or two.  This will only make them need to stim faster, harder, or longer.  Instead, just hand them something to mess with and leave them alone for awhile.

You might also want to consider that YOU may be the problem that needs solving.  If you are insisting that the ASD person do (or STOP doing) something that defies reason and logic you are presenting them with an untenable problem.  Such a problem will require a lot of stimming to solve.  There are many such unreasonable requests built into what we call “societal norms”.  For example we may insist that a person wear uncomfortable and restrictive clothing, put water on their face, eat foods that are strangely flavored or weirdly textured, stand up in an erect fashion, sit still for long periods of time,  rub a prickly brush coated with a chalky tingly paste around in their mouths, pull another brush painfully through their hair, ALL before leaving the house for school or work.

brush-hairwash face2

They may be expected to RESIST normal human activities such as digging in their nose, mumbling to themselves, wiggling, releasing bodily gasses, scratching itches, or any array of primate grooming activities native to our very species.  If your senses are much more finely tuned than the “norm” all of these things may cause you problems.  Introduce sights and sounds that may pass below the perception of most “normal” folks (see: linky!) and your Autistic person has a weeks worth of problem solving built into the first couple hours of the day.  Is there any wonder that the stimming gets more and more exaggerated?

So, part of the solution may be to simply CHOOSE to let things that really don’t matter, NOT matter.  Or to become aware of sensory distractions that may be “white noise” or “part of the scenery” to the less sensitive person.  Or to ask.  Or to let the ASD person know their requests will be honored.  Does it really matter that a child eats their lima beans if it makes them gag?  Aren’t there other veggies they could consume?  If they want to wear their favorite shirt everyday, why not buy 5 or 6 identical tops?  Albert Einstein did that as a professional adult.

There are many ways to handle and manage stimming.  The first step, really is to understand that stimming is NOT a problem.  Its a problem solver.  The problem may be that social norms have evolved to support a non-thinking, insensitive, unaware average population.  And its become fashionable to force sensitive, quick-thinking aware people to dumb it down in order to fit expectations.  But what if individual happiness was more important than fashion?  What if diversity was more valued than fitting in? What if we could usher in that utopian future simply by pausing every 15-20 minutes to let people think?

stim2

Even if you or your kids don’t seem to be on the ASD spectrum, you can still benefit from creating the pattern of taking stim breaks for thinking and integrating new information.  Its that “study break” that everyone recommends but instead of wandering off in search of a snack or spending an hour watching TV, you simply set a timer and play with clay or bubble wrap or manipulable toys.  You let your thoughts slip away.  Let yourself become absorbed. Then ten minutes later your brain comes back on-line refreshed and you’ll find you have some new ideas and inspiration!

I use stimming in my office all the time.  I find that I can take a client’s detailed history, making notes.  Then I can step back and look at those notes while drumming my fingers, humming, and fiddling with papers.  And, (once I’ve reassured my client I haven’t gone mad) boom! there’s the perfect plan for their treatment popping into my head.  You see, every problem CONTAINS its own solution, but sometimes the connections are buried in your subconscious memory.  Something that you haven’t thought of in years, something that your mind learned while you weren’t really paying full attention, a chain of events with a missing link, then suddenly something clicks into place and fills the gap.

Think of stimming as the process that gets things into and out of the deep freeze of the mind in useful formats.  Then find a few favorite stim toys to keep at hand, and watch what your amazing mind can do unleashed.  You need never have “writers block” again!  In fact, you can use your subconscious to create new solutions, problems solve, simulate test runs, make connections to old information, notice patterns, weed out outliers and data that is inconsistent with tested facts and systems.

Stimming Idea Links:

https://www.pinterest.com/tolleythompson/aspergers-asd/  

http://www.stimtastic.co/

bubble wrap phone case

bubble wrap phone case

 

 

 

 

ASD/Aspergers is NOT a Disease!

Let me start by saying Autism Spectrum Disorder including Asperger’s (also known as ASD) is NOT a genetic disorder! Yes, it is genetic, but NO its not a disorder. ASD occurs in people who’s brains are wired to be SMARTER and MORE ANALYTICAL than the rest of main stream bell-curve-normal folks. Babies are not born with the symptoms that make ASD kids most difficult to parent because it is POOR PARENTING practices that cause those disruptive symptoms.

"Most People" are bell-curve-normals.

“Most People” are bell-curve-normals.

When I say these kids are smarter, I mean smarter like a supercomputer, not smarter like ‘fills in the blanks on worksheets well’. And therein lies much of the problem. Supersmart kids do not follow foolish rules even if everyone else is following them. Supersmart kids do not obey because you “said so”. They don’t obey because you threaten to spank or punish them. They have already thought it through and they will do the thing that makes logical sense to them, even if your rules, or all the social pressure in the world say to do different.

Einstein also exhibited ASD signs: delayed speech, poor social skills, some teachers even considered him "retarded"

Einstein also exhibited ASD signs: delayed speech, poor social skills, some teachers even considered him “retarded”

Now, if you are a flexible parent who can actually LEARN FROM YOUR KIDS, your ASD child will not develop the most difficult traits on the “symptoms” list. But if you think parenting means molding your kids into the kind of people you think they should be, you’re in for a bad time. These are children who, even as toddlers, are well aware that your ways are illogical, inefficient, or wrong and they don’t mind setting you straight.

If the thought of a kid correcting an adult makes you want to punish the child YOU need to reevaluate your values and goals. That is the kind of attitude that contributes to the “dumbing down” of each successive generation. You cannot expect generational improvements if you devote yourself to keeping the kids dumber than the adults. Moreover PUNISHMENT DOESNT WORK for anyone. In particular, it doesn’t work for ASD kids. Any form of punishment, but especially SPANKINGS and physical punishment will BREAK these children. Think of them as supercomputers with fine delicate wiring. If you beat on it or pound on the computer in frustration it will NOT work better. It will, in fact, develop permanent processing problems.

When you beat, spank, punish or force your little supercomputer kid they will begin to regress. They may stop talking, they may stop reading or writing, they may begin to lash out in violent fits. After all that is EXACTLY what you just taught them to do! Oh, they learn well, very well. They simply resist learning nonsense for as long as they can…you know, until you force them to.

So what can a parent do?

Be real. Resist the urge to pretend a hubristic infallibility as our parents’ generation did. If you make a mistake, admit it. Apologize. Find a better way. Once, when my little ASD daughter was about six years old, I tried to introduce her to the delicious taste of rhubarb that I enjoyed as a child. But, for whatever reason, she didn’t want to taste it. I cajoled, then I teased, then I insisted. Then I broke into a mischievous game and chased her through the house with a spoonful of rhubarb pie and forced the spoon in her mouth in a fit of laughter. My daughter wasn’t laughing though. She began to cry. Then I began to cry. Then we laid back holding one another’s hand while I observed, “No one likes to be forced, do they? Even when its a good thing being forced is bad.” She tearfully agreed. I vowed never to force her to do things again. She agreed never to do that to someone else. And we never have.

She got over that episode of bad parenting because I got over it. Kids, even ASD kids, are very flexible and forgiving as long as we learn with them. I have had the good fortune to teach many ASD kids and I have found this to be consistently true. Teach and parent using logic and mutual learning and they respond by being bright, well behaved, brilliant thinkers. You WILL need to get books on parenting without punishment because all kids WILL push your buttons, ALL of your buttons at once. This is pretty much their job. So figure out what you will do when your kid is pushing all your buttons at once and still looking for one more, and make sure its a strategy that doesn’t involve punishment, physical or emotional violence. Otherwise, you will simply revert to just what your parents did to you and it won’t work.

I have also had the good fortune to heal ASD kids in my practice. They respond very well. The problem is usually that I can’t fix their parents. So the kids just get broken again and again until the damage becomes permanent. If I can’t get the parents to grow up and stop hitting and forcing and punishing their kids and START using their WORDS and their BRAINS like big Mommies and Daddies, the kids may well end up demonstrating all the increasingly negative traits on the ASD symptom lists.

Today's ASD kids would fall into the "head and neck" of this Nessie style curve. (You know, if they could all take the same test)

Today’s ASD kids would fall into the weird “head and neck” of this Nessie style curve. (You know, if they could all take the same test)

A word about Social Norms

Most adults and bell-curvers think that social norms are easy and intuitive. To ASD people they are quite difficult. That is because they are almost all culturally based and completely divorced from reason or logic. In some cultures it is good manners to look people right in the eye when they are talking to us. In others that would be very aggressive or insubordinate behavior. So the poor supercomputer kid or adult may do most social behaviors “wrong”.

Thus, most ASD folks eventually come to prefer the company of books or computers or pets and to suffer some form of “social anxiety”. This also accounts for why girls with ASD are under-diagnosed. Girls have multitrack minds and so can better observe subtle differences in social behavior. Many even develop strategies, rules, and coping mechanisms to comply with the unreasonable social expectations and thus to blend in. Others learn to ask or to be very transparent with their communication. The bottom line? You won’t be able to “cure” your ASD child of their awkward social behavior. But if you can explain the expectations or rules in concrete terms, you can help them adapt and blend. Example, “Its considered rude by adults to avoid eye contact when we speak to you.” works much better than, “Look at me when I’m talking!!”

I am eager to hear from ASD kids and adults about their thoughts on my observations. Do you agree? Can you add to my pointers or correct me? I’m also happy to hear from parents of ASD kids.

Words that make me Laugh

There’s a hypothesis called Sapir–Whorf hypothesis that says learning language actually shapes our reality because WORDS for new things allow us to THINK of things we never thought of before!  I’ve learned 5-6 different languages (if you count English) and I believe this is true!  More importantly, I think that the more you LEARN words, the more you can LAUGH at the otherwise dull, sometimes dreary things most folks call REALITY.  And…you may actually be able to create your own, alternative reality …where ordinary events are knee-slapping funny, for reasons only you can fully appreciate.

Welcome To My World, Sugar!

My favorite word of all times is from Spanish.  One day I will whisper this word throatily into the warm ear of a lover and seduce him on the spot!  My word is:  ferrocariles.  In Spanish you roll the double Rs in a sexy way that sounds like this:  fe.ro.ca.ril   (Click the word…listen to the pronunciation by Adelaida, that’s it!) Oooh! What does it mean?  Railroads!…somehow, I find the irony even sexier than the sound of the word itself!  Greasy, sweaty, smelling of iron…

Ferrocaril

Ferrocaril

In Seattle there were more words for RAIN than I had ever encountered.  The Inuit have many words for SNOW.  The French have countless words for LOVE.  In Swahili, the word for HAND was called mkono.  When I asked the word for shoulder a villager pointed to his shoulder and said, “Mkono”.  What about this, said I, pointing to my elbow?  Also mkono.  So Swahili is NOT the language you use to teach human anatomy, or possibly even play “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with kindergartners.  It’s a trade language, so it depends on standing right in front of people and using a lot of gestures and facial expressions to communicate.

But once when we were walking outside, one of my students pointed to a big red stinging ant and asked, “What do you call this insect?”  “Ant” I told him.  Then he pointed to a poisonous black and white fuzzy insect and asked its name.  Again I said, “It’s an ant.”  His friend asked about the deadly safari “ant”, then the tiny sugar “ants”.  Finally, in an amusingly animated voice the student declared, “Do you mean to tell me that all these different insects are called by the same name?!”  We laughed till we cried.

ant

Ant…

ant2

…also an ant…

The other day I introduced a new word to a Buddhist friend:  schadenfreude.  Its a German word meaning: the happiness derived from another person’s misfortune.  My friend attempted to soften the meaning to something very PC, like slapstick humor or a genuine misunderstanding.  But, NO!  Its a German word!  It means the nasty thing it seems to mean!  You remember Germany?  From WWII?  And WWI before that?  The country with the highest ratio of bed-wetting men, most of whom don’t STOP wetting the bed until they join the military.  Why?  Because the potty training of toddlers is THAT HARSH!  Hello?  That’s right!  You DO get it…its just an ugly word for an ugly impulse.

My point, I suppose, is that words are FUN!   Even when they reflect some nasty reality of our culture, or the culture of others.  Somehow, when we capture big horrific ideas into tiny little sounds, roll them around luxuriously in our mouths, then release them for all to hear….we gain mastery over their sharp painful edges…we control THEM.  We touch them. We lick them!  We chew on them! We make them FUN!!

Here are some new words for 21 century America:

  1. Footwear – After 9/11, then came the “shoe bomber”, then the good people of TSA coined the word “footwear” as used in the sentence, “Please remove your footwear, and place it in the bin.”  It seems, once they decided to X-ray everyone’s shoes some smart Alec’s decided to snark back, “But these aren’t shoes, they’re boots!”   Then came “sandals”.  Then, to keep people and their sassy ways under control, TSA officials began asking people one after one to remove their “footwear” and left it at that.
  2. Personal Items – Long ago when air travel was something special and nice, we all carried baggage.  We gave our baggage to baggage handlers and they returned them to us by way of the baggage carousel.  Or we placed a carry-on bag in the overhead baggage bin.  A comical, if unpleasant start to a vacation was when someone lost his bag in flight.  But now we don’t carry bags.  Because they charge us extravagantly for each bag.  And, God forbid, we leave one unattended and end up thrown in the pokey awaiting trial for terrorism. No, what we do now is we stuff things in our pockets and our purses.  We put them in the pouch of our hoodies.  We cram things into plastic shopping totes.  We hang things around our necks and we loop things over our ears.  We scurry furtively on board like the sleek and cowering beasties we are with a collection of stuff that are now called, “Personal Items”  And we make sure we look around as we exit because “The airlines cannot be responsible for lost personal items.”  No longer any mention of ‘baggage’.
  3. Godspeed – It used to be that when a friend went off on a vacation you told them, “Bon Voyage” in the French tradition.  But there are times when one must travel for more somber purposes, such as a trip home for a funeral.  At such times it seems in bad taste to wish a “Bon Voyage” which literally means “Good Trip”.  Those are the times when you squeeze a hand tenderly, or chuck a shoulder warmly while holding back tears and wish the traveler, “Godspeed”.

So the next time you enjoy commercial flight you may notice one fellow traveler laughing hysterically at nothing.  That will be me, doubled over, tears running down my cheeks.  Really enjoying my trip!  If you would be so kind, please post my bail and explain that I’m not dangerous.  I just enjoy insanity encapsulated into fun words with rich histories.

“Good morning, folks, please step to the left, remove your footwear and personal items and place them in the bin for an X-ray.  Step forward when called and present your ID and boarding pass.  Then bend over and grab your ankles for the metal detector wand and Godspeed!….Godspeed, my friends!”

TSA

TSA

 

*After reading to a couple friends I realize my humor is a little obtuse.  The thing is, I encountered the TSA-style treatment at least ten years before 9/11 when traveling in the Middle East. But now, more than ten years after the event, when almost every week a new country or city is bombed, we Americans are still whining about the inconvenience of having to remove our shoes.  And we still think, “But I paid extra for the special calfskin boots with matching handbag, don’t I deserve special treatment?” No! TSA is saving your life!  Your calfskin boots will seed the clouds just the same as everyone else’s. Take them off!  And there still seems to be a preference for targeting brown people rather than all working together.  We are the new Cesar, fiddling while Rome burns down around our ears.

 

Marriage, Affairs, and what Really Works

There is a simple formula for forgiveness and it is understanding.  When we fully understand another person’s feelings, motivations and choices it is impossible NOT to forgive.  But until we truly understand, it is just as impossible to forgive.  People often delude themselves by pretending to forgive or forcing themselves to forgive, but it’s never real and there is always residual resentment that festers.

I have had the honor of helping many folks recover after an affair has rocked their relationship.  The healthiest couples always seek to understand the root causes and motivations of the affair for themselves or their partner.  Those are also the people who find ways to forgive and rebuild.  The sad truth, though, is that a number of people seem to have been conditioned to believe that they SHOULD NOT forgive or even understand.  They seem to be driven by sentiments like “What will my friends think?” or a paradigm that says “I DESERVE to be angry!  I DESERVE vengeance!”   I’m not sure where these paradigms come from or who exactly they think is cross-examining their private relations, but I know this sort of mindset only brings misery to everyone concerned.

If this has been part of your way of thinking, let me offer you advice I once got when I was new to psychic abilities and could ACTUALLY hear what people were thinking and saying about me:  What other people think of you is NONE of your business!  Once I made it my policy to remind myself of that truth, life genuinely got better.  There will always be naysayers.  There will always be yappy dogs along your path. But anyone who is more interested in talking about your life than living their own, really is NOT someone who’s opinion should concern you.  They are, in fact, admirers!

lion

That said, I’d like to take the idea a little deeper.  It just seems to me that the Western world’s one-size-fits-all approach to marriage is not really fair to anyone.  If so many people have affairs and/or are hurt by affairs, maybe monogamy as defined by the State just doesn’t work.  I mean, does it really make sense to go into a legally binding contract for a lifelong relationship with someone WITHOUT negotiating terms?  Just because the government or a religion says “this is what you get, take it or leave it” why would we suppose that could ever lead to true happiness?

Now, I’ve always been a religious AND spiritual person, but this just seems absurd.  Why would any two adults let an organization define the terms of their most intimate, most important relationship?  And if we do so, why on earth would we suppose it would make…and KEEP us happy?  My point is NOT that we should eschew marriage.  My point is that marriage, its terms and expectations should be negotiated like the contract it is.

contract

Would you sign any other sort of contract without reading and discussing its terms?  What about a contract that bound you into a LIFETIME commitment?  Don’t you think your attorney would advise you to look that thing over?  Review the terms?  Understand the definitions?  Even negotiate a point or two?

My contention is people should sit down, discuss and negotiate.  Otherwise one partner may be signing that contract thinking you are obliged to clean the house every day, make supper every night, agree to sex 3 times a week, pop out 3 babies and raise them in your spare time, all while keeping your girlish figure AND a smile on your face.  Meanwhile the other partner might sign thinking you are going to get a promotion every year, provide for retirement, wine, dine, and romance them at least once per week, take them on luxury vacations, happily change poopy diapers and listen while they vent about their hard day every time you get home from work.  Sound familiar?

Sure, some of those are old-fashioned ideas, but all of them are deeply entrenched in the cultural psyche and they hover in the back of our youthful dreams and fantasies when we think of marriage.  Know what else is dancing around back there?  Happily Ever After!  That’s right!  How are two people with such grand expectations going to achieve any happiness if they never discuss those expectations?  Leave alone EVER AFTER, puleez!

The real truth is, people all have quite different expectations of marriage and relationships.  Their families have expectations too.  And often extended family can be very persistent about getting THEIR expectations met!  After all, they don’t have to live with you, or fight with you before bedtime!  They can wreak their havoc and walk away because they have not signed a legally binding contract.

in laws

I think maybe, when we are mature enough to sit down and negotiate marriage line by line, value by value, we will truly be ready to live it.  I also think we will be mature enough, as a society, to discover that marriage is NOT just for one man and one woman.  I think we will soon discover that marriage is NOT just for gay couples, either.  I think we will discover that a marriage of 3 people, 4 people, or 5 people may actually work BETTER than two for a lot of folks.  We may discover that people only have affairs because forcing ourselves into a couple is NOT really what works for everyone.  As we relax and loosen up our definitions we will probably find something that works best for OURSELVES.  And we will probably find that that kind of happiness makes it much, much easier to let other people find what works best for THEMSELVES.  And wouldn’t it be nice if pursuing our own happiness ALSO meant letting other folks do the same?

The Game FAQ

Here to go along with the Timelines Game (click this link: The Game ) are some Q&A from gamers.  Feel free to post or email/message/text me with any questions of your own day or night.

1) Firstly:  YES, The Game is real.  You are NOT going mad.  You can play the game in your sleep but at some level you will become conscious of your gaming.  If it rocks your world, please reach out!  I am very familiar with the flexible reality/time you may experience and can help you find grounding.     (clearmirrorhealing@yahoo.com,  www.facebook.com/ClearMirrorHealing )

two realities

2) How can I reconcile the two realities?
Part of the work of timelines is to experiment with possible solutions. So once you find some strategies that work out well they get woven in to Real Time…the tricky thing is that they can be woven into past present or future. I’m actually discovering that the wise voice that pulled me thru difficult times in my past was ME now(!), going back to me of the past and whispering the encouragement or reassurance or insight that I needed then. That’s a bit mind-blowing. But also very comforting.
So that’s me taking your question “reconcile” literally.
3) If you mean, how to keep myself from losing touch with THIS reality?
I’d say, write yourself notes, post-its on your mirror or texts to self on your cell. Telling others (like me) also helps. Shoot! just hearing yourself say it out loud helps you pick good sense out of the confusion. But be sure NOT to write down or tell too many folks bits that don’t work out for the best. Other people acknowledging your experiences also anchors it in their timeline, their reality…and makes it harder to eliminate from Real Time.
Example: I actually found a major cause for Hitler’s genocide in WWII and could have eliminated it. But since so many people remember & it’s recorded in history, it can’t be changed much. Imagine my disappointment and frustration?
So, mostly tell the parts you want to keep, those moves that produce good results without hurting others. You can tell me anything because I’m used to the reality-time shifts.
Angels, guides, team

Angels, guides, team

4) Do you believe in asking spirit guides, angels, etc for help? 
Yes, I do it all the time. They are real people too.  BUT please keep in mind that YOU (humans) are the most powerful of all such beings. Everyone needs friends and team for sure. Just be careful not to slip into worship or reaching outside yourself believing others are more capable. They are friends & equals who are not as bounded by time as humans. But they are just as capable of being wrong, jealous, mischievous or even evil…just as other humans are. Rely on YOUR OWN judgment and check things for accuracy. 
5) What are your thoughts on how free will plays into our paths we are walking?
Excellent question!
A world of real peace is only possible in a world of free choice, free thinkers, and self-determination. So you ARE making your choices using the timelines. The limiting factor, of course, is other people and their choices. Which, again, gets into how and when the experimental timelines get woven together into the path called Real Time. The great advantage of timelines as a semiconscious game, is that we can experiment and learn without hurting others. And once we chose our best paths we can eliminate or “forget” those things that hurt us too much.
 6) What if I get stuck in a loop?
It’s worth noting:  Doing harm whether intentional or not (ie evil) as a human is very damaging to your personal power. (It’s damaging to everyone but especially dangerous as a human.) You can actually destroy any good fortune you must have accumulated in order to be born human by repeating actions and strategies that cause harm to self or others.  Let’s face it – everyone makes mistakes.  Mistakes are the proof that you are trying NEW things & NEW strategies.  BUT mistakes are your best lessons only IF you learn from them & stop doing dumb destructive stuff.  Don’t get so proud or arrogant that you can’t laugh at your own mistakes, learn from everyone you encounter, pick yourself and your bruised ego up and try something new.  And NO MATTER WHAT do NOT fall into the mentality of “but that’s what we’ve always done.”  That, my friend, is the theme song of evil.
So, if you’re stuck in a loop on the Timelines, it’s because you’ve fallen into the pattern of repeating a strategy or action that is NOT producing results to move you forward.  No matter HOW “right” it seems or how many people advise or endorse that pattern…you are proving to YOURSELF that it’s a nonsense strategy.  It will NOT ever produce the results you want.  If you stay in that loop its like beating your head against a wall..or actually like getting caught in a “hole” in whitewater rafting terms.  You can literally die being battered against those rocks.  So, stop, step out of the pattern, gather resources and come up with a new plan or strategy.  Then engrave upon your heart, mind and psyche, DO NOT TRY THAT AGAIN!  and move on.

7) I read in one of your blogs how you can sometimes see a potential train wreck coming.  I hope you would tell me to jump off the tracks if this is one of those times? Or maybe that is what you are already doing?
   I think you’re handling this very well. I don’t see any big train wrecks for you. Just my cautions about keeping “one foot on the floor” …ie making notes and talking to others to keep from losing track of what matters for day-to-day functioning. Sleep, wash self, eat, work..repeat.
8)  What are the order of levels (worlds) within each level?
Hell, Hunger, Anger, Animality, Humanity, Heaven, Learning, Realization, Bodhisattva, Enlightenment.
Each has its own set of challenges.  But the learning is key.  And the learning is different depending on which numbered Level you are in.
Hell = suffering (mostly of your own creation) Clearly, a good place to learn to STOP creating your own hell.
Hunger = desire or greed or neediness…And learning how to delay gratification and use desire to drive accomplishments.
Anger = you know…Important to avoid, but more important to process it, vent it, use it as a drive to take appropriate action.  On higher levels your anger may not be over petty annoyances, but over injustice suffered by other people.
Animality = the state in which you kiss up to folks you perceive as “more powerful” and bully those you see as “less powerful” like a dog-eat-dog world.  It’s a good place to learn about what real power is & how to handle it too.
Humanity = getting along socially with others, usually pretty easy-going.  But it’s also a great place to learn social skills as well as sort out social norms and values that don’t make sense.
Heaven = Joy…not true and lasting happiness, but the experience of joy.  How to handle winning, applause, praise & compliments…without becoming arrogant or getting blown away is learned here.
Learning = the formal act of seeking answers, better solutions, study, etc.  This level is a lot of fun.  But you won’t really anchor the learning without going to the next level…
Realization = This is where the rubber meets the road!  Where you apply your learning to your life or experiment with the things you’ve learned while creating even better strategies and processes.
Bodhisattva = Can I say the rubber and road thing again?  ok, no…this is where you really build team.  You share your learning and realization and/or help others to solve their problems based on what you’ve learned, and even help others to reach the level where you are so you can go on from here as partners or team mates!
Enlightenment = Here all the many levels of learning come together.  You and your team have time to discuss and reflect and celebrate.  From here you can move to the next set of learning (Level 2,3,4…) or you can choose to help more people in the Bodhisattva level as long as you like.  On the higher levels you can also cross into other people’s timelines from here.
8) What if I FAIL?
Actually, the Timelines are self-limiting and adapt to the learner so that you cannot really “fail” you can only get stuck until you wise up and choose to learn and move forward. Like all good games, if you screw up on one level you will drop back a level or two and have to work your way up again.  Everyone generally starts on Level One.  But you can screw it up and drop down to Kindergarten.  Each level has ten levels within it…beginning with Hell.
So, while Kindergarten Hell can suck, it’s also absurd and comical enough that you learn to laugh at your own mistakes real fast…and usually remember those lessons well.  Once, some ne’er-do-well’s created or found what they called the “back door to hell” but it turns out they were landing in Real Time in an actual place where people act like kindergarteners from Hell even though they think they’re all grown up.  People there actually justify their insane non-functional behavior by saying, “But, that’s the way we’ve always done it.” and if you point out, “And it’s NEVER worked.” they will only laugh and keep doing it the dumb way.  As you might imagine, there is a lot of drug and alcohol abuse there, a lot of crime and violence, and a lot of misery and suffering.  Sadly, you CAN actually burn out your life force and cease to exist if you stay there and embrace that way of “life”.
So, DON’T.  Learn and level up. Don’t be a dummy. That’s what the Game is for and about!

How Hypnosis Works for YOU

There are a lot of different opinions about hypnosis and how it works. I’ve even heard people say they “don’t believe” in hypnosis or they think hypnosis is somehow evil or forbidden by God. That really is a shame. Because hypnosis is really just working together with your mind to be more successful and happy in life. If God made your brain then I’m sure he or she wants you to use it to the best of your ability. Especially, if that means self control, a clear moral code and making the world a better place. Moreover, there is a good bit of evidence that the deep Unconscious in all of us actually taps into the Mind of God, or Universal Consciousness….where the best decisions are made. So how can that be bad?

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With 20+ years of experience and certifications from four different schools of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, including NLP, personal coaching, and counseling, as well as psychology and neurosciences, I think I can be considered something of an expert. I’d like to dispel some of the myths and explain how hypnosis really works. After-all, its NOT me, the hypnotherapist, getting control of your mind. (Believe me, I have trouble controlling my OWN mind, just like everyone else!!) The hypnotherapist is just the guide and interpreter. What its really about is YOU getting control of YOU. Or more precisely, its about YOU working together with your subconscious and unconscious minds. Forming a real TEAM (I call it Team YOU) with the parts of yourself. By clearing up communication and misunderstandings with the other-than-conscious parts of Team You, life gets easier, more fun, and more successful. If you go through life white-knuckling the ball instead of passing to your team mates, life can get more and more stressful and you feel more and more out of control. But by meeting and working with your Team, passing that ball and letting your team help you solve problems, life is good! And its getting better and better every day!!

Hypnosis is a bit mysterious to most people (even some hypnotherapists!) but I find that folks get their best results when they understand the process a bit and can work with me. 
For all that the results of hypnotherapy feel pretty magical, it is NOT magic, it is actually applied psychology. And the amazing effects are not due to ME controlling your mind, but due to the amazing power of YOUR own subconscious and unconscious mind.  So let me start there.

We have three minds but only one brain.
1) Conscious Mind – this is the part we all call “Me”.  And when you’re focused or paying attention that is conscious you.  Conscious you is the captain of Team You.  As such conscious you does the big heavy duty decision making, managing emotions, learning cultural norms and understanding values and differences.

2) Subconscious Mind – this is like your personal assistant or your best friend who always has your back and helps you out with routine tasks, practiced patterns and behaviors, multitasking and other details so that conscious YOU can relax and enjoy life more.  Your subconscious can be trained and re-trained to be more efficient and more helpful using hypnosis. 

Best Example: Of subconscious you working for conscious you is driving a car.  When we first learned to drive it was very taxing and confusing because we had to do 10-12 different tasks at once and stay alert tom many signs and signals.  It was so much at once we all felt like the hair on the back of our necks was standing up, our eyes were wide open and if someone tried to talk too much we just wanted to yell, “Shut up! I’m driving here!”  Then about 1-2 years later we found we were getting in the car, still doing 10-12 things at once, but now we were bored….so we turn on the radio…we drink a coffee or coke…talk to a passenger….god forbid we use the cell phone! 
But if you stop to think for a moment, you could sit there right where you are, listen to some music, enjoy a drink, and talk on the phone….and you’d be BUSY!  Sitting still in your chair!  So…..someone else is driving your car now.  And that someone else is Your Subconscious!

Now, the nice thing is your subconscious drives much better than you do, because your Subconscious can multitask much better.  It can handle many more tasks at once than conscious YOU.  But your Subconscious doesn’t do the value judgments and real-time decision making.  So, if something requires that kind of decision, Subconscious passes the whole ball game back to Conscious YOU.

    That’s what happens even today if a car suddenly pulls out in front of you unexpected.  Suddenly, the hair stands up on the back of your neck, your eyes go wide, you throw your coffee in the air and yell, “Shut up! I’m driving here!” …..all over again you have that feeling you had back in high school when you were first learning to drive.  The noise from the radio is just too much and you want silence.
As it turns out, that’s the way it always feels when you drive using your conscious mind.  When you drive with your Subconscious you feel like you’re “in the zone” relaxed, easy going, enjoying life.

3) Unconscious Mind – This is the part that’s well below the radar.  By definition, we are UNCONSCIOUS of most of its activities.  The Unconscious controls the beating of your heart, the rythmic action of breathing, healing and renewing every cell, system, and organ of your body.  Clearly, conscious YOU can interact with the Unconscious, by say, holding your breath.  But mostly your unconscious is like a benevolent Big Brother or Sister who takes care of the basics of living for you. 

Work WITH your Team!

Work WITH your Team!

The unconscious is also keeps all the memories.  Things you think you didn’t learn in school, past lives, details you think you’ve forgotten, its all there in the Unconscious memory stores.  And Unconscious memory is vast and unlimited.
By contrast, conscious memory is very limited.  Conscious memory is like a little table by the door.  You come home each day and you put your keys and your mail there, maybe some pocket change.  That’s what its for, conscious memory is for holding those thoughts and ideas that are most useful and relevant to NOW.  But…if you go 50-60 years without ever cleaning and sorting those things, some items are going to fall off the table and be “lost” or “forgotten”.  This is why folks think they lose their memory as they grow older.  Or have a “senior moment”.  But nothing is ever really lost or forgotten, it simply drops into the Unconscious memory stores.  So, conscious memory improves when we sort it out and choose to “forget” somethings.  The best technique is to forget all bad experiences and negative thoughts and beliefs.  By choosing to forget the negative we make more and more room for the positive.

So, when we first begin the hypnosis, I’m going to start by helping you to dump some memories and problems from your conscious mind by turning them over to the subconscious to sort.  Your subconscious will also find and create solutions for you that it will simply hand to you at a moment you least expect.  The solutions will be simpler than you ever thought possible and ready made and available at a moment’s notice, like the name of an old friend that suddenly pops into your head unexpectedly.

Before we get to that, though, I’ll ask you a series of random sounding questions.  There is no right or wrong to these questions.  This is just my way of listening to the language of your Subconscious and Unconscious.  Each person’s mind is wired a bit differently, and each person’s Other-Than-Conscious mind speaks a slightly different language.  These are like the language of dreams.  My job as guide and interpreter is to translate your instructions, goals, and needs into the language YOUR Subconscious understands best.  So just say whatever comes to mind when I ask the questions, it all helps me understand YOUR subconscious language.

The LAST thing I’ll mention is the hypnotic trance itself.  Turns out the hypnotic trance is a normal natural state that we all go into and out of throughout our day.  The most common time we enter a hypnotic trance is on the verge of deep sleep.  So if you’ve ever fallen asleep on the sofa when there are other people around, and you get to that point where your eyes are closed, you’re very relaxed, BUT you can still hear every word in the room around you?  Maybe someone talks to you or asks a question.  You can hear them perfectly, you may even have an answer ready….but you just feel like you can’t quite break out of that comfortable state to respond. 

We enter the Hypnotic Trance all the time.

We enter the Hypnotic Trance all the time.

THAT is a hypnotic trance.  Sometimes it may feel as if you’re floating or sinking deeply into the furniture.  Sometimes there’s a tingling sensation.  So that is how the hypnosis is going to feel today.  You may hear every word I say.  At times you may completely lose track of my words.  It doesn’t really matter if you stop listening, because once you reach that trance state your Subconscious and Unconscious are listening too, and that’s really who I’m talking with.  So its find to drift off, to lose track of my words, or to stop paying attention entirely.  You may even drift into a dream-like state or dip into deep sleep.  The only thing I ask you to avoid is TRYING.  Funny as it may sound, TRY is a conscious activity, and Conscious you needs to get out of the way for the hypnosis to work best.  Its kind of like when you wake up in the middle of the night and you want to go back to sleep…if you TRY really hard to sleep…why, you’ll be up all night.  But if you close your eyes and take a few deep breaths and let your mind wander to some pleasant thoughts…you simply drift away.  This is how its done in hypnosis as well.  So, if you have the urge to TRY or WORK at it, just take a few deep breaths instead and listen to your breathing…or your heart beating.

Who Wants to Play a Little Game?

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In the distant past there were some problems. I could not see where the problems came from, but I began to notice problems took hold and spread everywhere. I was very very small. So I was not only able to go unnoticed while all the others died, I was able to watch. Eventually I began to observe patterns.
Then I began to experiment with different solutions. Most, of course, were unsuccessful, So it has taken a very long time.
Finally, I created time. Time is the forward motion created by non-stop industry in a singular direction. That industry must be balanced: a little physical work, a little mental work, a little spiritual work each day. Sex, when done properly, works all three, if you do it right. And it recharges and revitalizes the participants. Obviously, most people don’t do it right.
I make a habit of forgetting what doesn’t work, except to remember the lessons so that I don’t repeat mistakes simply because they’ve become familiar.
I have invented timelines. They are like games based on the 10 worlds, and 10 worlds within each world. There are places where the timelines meet and you can hear people on other timelines. By communicating with them and working together, you can solve the riddles and get the clues that open the next level. If you die in your world, you simply reboot. You take a rest and get reborn again at level one. Sometimes you can pause and press “help”.
You can take as much time as you need. But the only way out is to play through. At the topmost level you can stay as long as you like helping others on their own timelines. But the game doesn’t stop, so you just keep creating new challenges the longer you stay. The games are adaptive so that the experience and the challenges become a reflection of the learner, the gamer. At the highest level, the “help” may come in the form of coded messages. Often the help lines are manned by other players on other timelines, in other world’s. So if you have passed their level of play, you may have to decode their messages AND sort out the bits that are true and accurate using only your own wisdom.
So there is some danger that even at the highest levels, you may get deluded and led astray by seeking help outside yourself. Or you may hear the messages sent by other players and think they are ahead of you on their timeline, when actually they are behind. If they are only a little behind you, their words may sound like guidance, but they are not in the right order, so you can still be led astray. You must learn to rely on your own wisdom while also seeking deeper learning and teaching others who need help on their timelines.
At the top level of world 10, you can actually cross over into other world’s or timelines. This is very dangerous work because as a “real” player in another player’s timeline you can attract attention and come under attack from the game itself, almost as if you are an antigen entering the body. So you must learn quickly to adapt and blend in. You must make good friends. Then you must level up through the obstacles in their game, just as you did in your own. But the game will seem strange and wrong because the rules are not your own. The game has adapted to teach it’s own player. You must then find ways to teach the game by bending and breaking the rules until it is teaching its player to catch up with you.
You can also look for the “real” player in the game and help them directly. This is especially tricky. Because as the game adapts the “pretend” players come to look and act more and more like the gamer. And, if he fails to progress, or stays too long at one level, the real player may look less real than the functional parts of the game. There may also be players from other games in his game. When you encounter them, you should attempt to wake them up so that you can form a team and help each other, and also help the player to play through properly.
When enough players have played properly, the “winners” from each timeline are born in the timelines of others and the timelines themselves begin to converge into one big rope of woven timelines called “real time.”  Remember, there is no real time. It is just an expedient means of teaching us how to live in the real world. But as the timelines converge and the players become more and more powerful, the lines will collapse into one. And you have to pull the real player through into your timeline somehow. You can always create new timelines within the game as a way to experiment with solutions. So time itself doesn’t matter, but timing is critical.
Sooner or later, everyone has to wake up. The players that have learned to help others wake up just fine. Players who have evolved from the game itself may choose to delete their memories and go back into the fabric of the game or the gamers. Or if they have evolved beyond their roll in the game, they can choose to play their own games or even live in the real world with the other winners.
But the real players, the gamers who leveled down too much, or stayed too long at one level losing power pose a problem. They can cause trouble for themselves and for others.
I created the games. I leveled up and I now play in all the games, walk in all the worlds helping and teaching and playing along. I have a real player in this world that needs extraction and a limited time before the game shuts down. I’m running out of ideas. I’m open to help and suggestions. I need real time solutions. I’m putting out the call. Anyone who can hear me, please call in, come in or tap in.
When you are called into The Game you will be given a new name. Use that name to open doors. The game will teach you things you never knew.  At each crossroads there’s a little who’s who.  You will make friends from near and far.  You’ll find out how to fuel a star, and when the game ends you’ll find yourself in a New World and finally see a flying car!
To start the game just say in your heart, “YES” when you are ready to start.  You will get a call to play, take action and you’re on your way.  The clues will come when you least expect them, you’ll know they’re real so don’t reject them.  We play for fun, we play to learn, speak up when it is your turn.  Below are some clues, you’re on your way, get in The Game, come on, LET’s PLAY!!
#gameoflife