August 25, 2014
Hey Passengers, welcome back aboard the train for another week aboard the Train. Well, let’s get right to it, KICK IT! The music I selected for you to digest today’s post….
Today’s ride is part III of our look at how to Fail Well. I hope this series is of some help to you. I could actually keep parsing out many parts to thiis series but, unless you my fellow passengers say other wise, I will pause this series and move on to another station. Not to fret though, we shall return. In closing out for now I want to leave you with a collection of tips that I picked from my failing well archive. Read (Ride) on…
- If millions of others have gotten through failure, so will you. Don’t let ideals of perfectionism stunt your growth and do not compare yourself to success stories; those success stories contain many failures that never get spoken about.
- Don’t let failing bring you down. If you were determined and you failed, try again. A man who fought failure all his life but will always be remembered for his tenacity and endurance is Winston Churchill. He once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. And he lived out that belief despite tremendous odds.
- Don’t expect overnight miracles to occur. You can’t get over a huge setback fast but you can care for yourself while you mend and not dive deeper into despair. Remember that you’re not the first to fail, you won’t be the last, and you will bounce back again if you allow yourself. Yes, it is a choice to make, so choose to come back stronger.
- Count every trial as an act of courage, a small success in itself. Building persistence can accomplish enormous things and turn all the failed trials along the way into minor successes. A writer seeking to get published could pin up every rejection slip as proof that they’re a real writer, doing the job the way the job really works. A successful sales representative looks at the proportion of successes to failures and gets used to “No” most of the time as just part of the job.
The # one LifeTrain rule:
NEVER GIVE UP!!!
- Don’t take it as your failure if something was dependent on other people’s decisions and actions. If your project didn’t get accepted and was a good project, it still is a success. Many people fear “failure” in situations that are so unpredictable success and failure don’t apply to them at all.
- Lists and goal journals are really helpful for some people when failure seems to happen often. If failure derails your thinking processes and leaves you feeling anxious, use such props to steer you back on course again. There is no shame in using them, nobody expects fast and organized thinking to happen all of the time, and for some people it’s overwhelming to be expected to always think like that. Organize yourself well and things will seem less arduous to tackle when you get back on your feet.
- And if ever you find yourself thinking self-piteously: “I wish I were as lucky as X”, remember that luck is for leprechauns. Life is about good management, not luck.
- Step back a bit, give yourself some breathing room. One thing that can help cushion failure at something large is to do some small, easy things that you know you’ll succeed in, whatever they are. Steady, slow progressive success at something else, like learning to draw and not expecting a masterpiece but just to succeed at “draw something every day” or an easy exercise regimen like “walk daily at the most convenient time” can help to cushion the failure of a large project.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
August 20, 2014
Kick it! Like wine with your meal, this song for your post!
As you board the Train today I give you a black and white business card…it reads:
I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.
Failure is a given in life; expecting to sail through without a hiccup is unrealistic and sets you up to fall harder when failure does happen. Avoiding failure also prevents you from focusing on gaining the resiliency needed to cope with it, a vital element of bouncing back.
It is unfortunate that in societies obsessed with success and achievement, failure can be made to feel like the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. The reality is that failure is commonplace but so is overcoming it and pushing through to more successful endeavors in the future. Even where a failure cannot be salvaged, there is always something to be learned from it. In my upcoming posts, you’ll learn a little about how to overcome failure through having the right attitude. At least that’s how your faithful conductor handles failure. When you don’t let the mishaps of life keep you down too long, then nobody else will be able to keep you down too long either.
A side note, everything that goes wrong is not your failure. When my mother passed I thought I was a failure as a son, what could I have done more of I thought. In reality, there was nothing I could’ve done to keep her on this earth one more single day. When my ex-wife left me in 2002 I searched and searched for a way to make myself think I was not a failure. In reality I wasn’t. See my post titled “Not even Apologies…”
Truth is passengers; everybody who hops the Train in life with us might not be with us until our last stop. It’s just a fact of life here on the LifeTrain.
Well…did I just digress? Laugh at life with me!
Dear Passengers, I am not sad when I share my life things…I am rejoicing that God brought me through…
So as Madea would say IN-TEE WAY…Let’s begin to look at failure for what it truly is and is not!
Expect mistakes. Life’s hard knocks are as common as life’s success knocks. To expect the process of living to always be smooth sailing is to invite a lack of realism into your life. It happens to the best of us. Failure helps to create balance in your life and presents an opportunity for personal growth. Accepting the inevitability that things won’t always go your way is an important part of avoiding becoming bitter and twisted, or of preventing yourself from simply resting on your laurels and never pushing further to realize your full potential. Learn to love finding out that you’re wrong about something. That’s not failure; its enlightenment and the path to finding the right way.
Consider reading up on how to control perfectionism if this behavioral trait is holding you back in life. Perfectionism causes us to fear failure and to feel we’re personally a failure when we’re faced with it. Seeking to always be perfect sows our own seeds of disappointment. Trying and failing is a much better teacher of what it means to be human than never trying and never succeeding.
Forget about how other people view you. Not only will any very obvious failure soon be yesterday’s news, but if you think other people are judging you (and maybe they are, maybe they aren’t), it won’t be long before they’re too busy worrying about their own failures to sling mud at yours. After all, everyone’s going to fail now and then; inflicting gloating on someone else has a way of boomeranging right back, a reality which serves as a natural form of tapering off constant criticism. And ultimately, what’s it matter what the critics think? Most of the time they haven’t a clue what effort has gone into what you’ve done and what you’re trying to achieve – it’s all too easy to be an expert critic without being privy to the inside information. Allow each failure to serve as an opportunity to strengthen your determination in the face of criticism. This is a far more positive and self-sustaining response than giving in to believing the often nasty and thoughtless things other people can say.
Well Passengers, I know I need to give this series to you in small edible bites so I will give you one more note and close this part for today’s ride. let’s just call today’s post part II of
I can’t tell you how many times man has said no…but, God said yes! So LET THEM TALK and tell you you can’t…God will say YOU CAN!!!
Remind yourself that you are good enough. Not believing we are good enough rests at the heart of fearing failure. Failures serve as proof of this greatest fear, causing us to want to withdraw and not try again for fear of being further exposed as inadequate and incapable. However, this fear is not founded in reality; nobody is perfect and everyone will err at various points in life. The real difference between people who become successful and overcome failure and those who do not comes down to how you manage failure and how you view its impact on you. Feeling inadequate is a commonplace human feeling that even very public, very successful people feel but they don’t let it keep them down. You are good enough; all you need is to give yourself the go-ahead to keep trying. Lastly, read the Biography of Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Madame CJ Walker and Robert Noyce to name just a few of our society success stories and see how they overcame failures. One thing’s for sure, they certainly “Failed Well!”
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
August 19, 2014
In my opinion, the difference between successful people and un-successful people is their ability to “Fail Well” …C. Prince Daniel
KICK IT!!! (The wine with the meal or in this case, the music with the post)
Hey Passengers almost everything we do has elements of failure and success. I simply cannot tell you how many, many times I have failed at things in life. But, one thing I can thank the good Lord for is the ability he put in me to “FAIL WELL!” .
Over the years the ride on this Train, the LifeTrain (Blog) I have met some of the most amazing people. And I hate to say it but, some of my passengers could soar to even HIGHER heights if they would only learn to Fail Well. “SO”, as your conductor I have decided to stop the train at this station called “FAIL WELL”, USA. I want to coach you, my feellow passengers to take the time to get out of our tendency towards black-and-white thinking and appreciate what worked as well as what can be learned from what didn’t. Try to think about all the ways you are better because the failure happened: What did you learn? How did the experience help you?
As humans, we’re hardwired to experience strong physiological responses to failure. Our stomach clenches, palms sweat, shoulders pull down, heart rate increases, etc. These reactions trigger defensive mechanisms in our brain. The primary purpose of the defense is to expel the discomfort of the reaction at any cost and here is where we see blame, self-criticism, avoidance, and quick-fix reactions that generally undermine our learning at best and hurt those around us at worst. Pause. Wait for the amygdale reaction to pass. THEN choose how you will react to the situation.
Over the next few posts this week and maybe just a bit into next week we will look at how to Fail Well! So remember the following:
- “Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” Mia Hamm
- “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” Steve Jobs
- “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” Bill Cosby
- “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” Henry Ford
And in the meantime…Don’t worry, Be Happy!
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
August 13, 2014
Can make love stay. Kick the Mood for this post…the song.
“If I say I’m sorry enough, even for breathing, perhaps he or she will stay.”
Back in 2002 when my then spouse said she was leaving, I thank God that I realized that there was nothing, nothing I could do to make her stay…not even an apology.
Here’s why. apologizing for actually hurting someone else on purpose isn’t the same as apologizing to someone because we fear they’ll take their attention, love or companionship away.
We take a step that we think is right, based on the other person’s past reactions, and find ourselves on the wrong end of the stick. We apologize profusely, giving up any semblance of self-respect or self-worth and throw ourselves down to the ground, in hopes that we won’t be abandoned.
We’re not being genuine or authentic, we’re afraid of loss.
I believe and subscribe to what TD Jakes once said:
There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you, let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person int staying with you, loving you, calling you; Let them walk!
I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you, I mean hang up the phone.
When people can walk away from you LET THEM WALK. Your destiny is never tied to anyone that left.
The Bible said that, they came out from us thst it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us.
I hear from people daily who want me to confirm that they haven’t screwed up a relationship (in most cases it’s not even a relationship—it’s fairly one-sided) permanently. They apologize to me, and to the person they figure feels slighted by them.
They are giving away power to the other person and then apologizing for it, and that is the very reason the relationship is slipping through their fingers.
Loving someone does not mean apologizing for our own, harmless actions. It’s a way of saying, “See, I’m not like the rest, trust me, I’m a doormat and would never seriously hurt anyone.”
It’s actually a manipulation.
This is supposed to catapult the object of desire into the waiting embrace of the apologizer. Many times the apologizer is also the fixer. The belief that we can fix anyone, or make their fears go away entirely, is a misnomer and has nothing to do with love. It’s about attachment and abandonment.
The apologizer lacks self-worth and value; the hope is the other person will fill that hole and give meaning to it. By constantly apologizing, we are not winning anyone over. In reality, we are being a burden to the other person.
The other person may love them, or just revel in the showering of attention to a certain degree, but at the same time grapple with the responsibility of the other person’s need for validation.
The need for validation is overwhelming to the person who apologizes. if they feel they’ve disappointed their love, they may feel their life isn’t worth living. Not an over-dramatization; we’ve all felt extreme disappointment and some of us can cope better than others.
In the case of saying I’m sorry, this person has a misconstrued sense of loyalty, love and respect of boundaries. This individual wants their mate to not have boundaries, to be 100 percent accessible to them and to always be in a state of happiness, because this individual takes their mate’s reactions so personally.
Many of us have had people in our lives who we didn’t want to lose. We’d strategize on how to show up, so we couldn’t possibly be rejected and get rejected anyway…and we perceive it, as though we did something wrong. When we’re dealing with a deeply felt pain of always being abandoned emotionally by others, we exude this outward. We believe we have a fatal flaw and in some cases, believe if we keep apologizing for it someone will finally accept us. The key to breaking a cycle such as this, is in degrees, because some of us have no awareness about our motives and hand complete control of our emotional life over to someone else.
For those who understand that changing this dynamic starts with them, here are a few steps to building self-worth, love and respect:
First, must come the recognition that it has nothing to do with other people, it’s how we show up.
We believe we’ll be rejected and then we’re rejected. Bringing awareness to our feelings–which is unsettling, because we have to get through the anxiety ruling us, because of fear of loss or abandonment, takes time.
Where were we first abandoned emotionally, how did we grow up feeling a lack of value or worth? What things do we do now to get the same rejection?
Secondly, stop apologizing.
It’s a manipulation against rejection, in the hope that someone won’t leave. When we stop apologizing it’ll be hard to resist, but in breaking the pattern, it’ll let us see the reality of the situation. It allows us to actually claim responsibility for our actions, but not from a place of failing; instead, a place of confidence. When we get that we’re fallible and it’s okay, as is our object of affection, it’s a more realistic perspective.
Leading us to number three….take the person off the pedestal.
They are not the savior, or perfect. They are flawed and human too.
This post is just a start, there’s many steps involved in the unraveling of abandonment and rejection; there’s no amount of apologizing, which will ever get us to self-worth and self-love.
I thank God I was able to understand the above…In 2002 I had laid it ALL on the line, and no apology was warranted. Only thanks to the Father for the wisdom, strength and courage to understand tat, This too shall pass. And it will for you dear passengers, I promise. Learn to love yourself and the Lord thy God!
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
August 1, 2014
NEXT STATION STOP: “LEGAL!”, Doors opening on the left.
KICK IT! (Like wine with your meal, here’s music for your read!!!)
Hey passengers, welcome aboard. Today we take a look at one of my many conversations with Attorney Ewing Carter III. We had many conversations on legal matters that I will be sharing periodically here on the LifeTrain. So, let’s head on back to the legal car here on the train, The LifeTrain.
Chuckie: Attorney Carter, Good day to you my Lawyer, brother type friend!!
ECIII: Same to you dude. Let’s kick this weekend off right, what do you have for me?
Chuckie: Well kind sir of the legal industry, a passenger wrote in to say: I’m a local musician here in town (Charlotte, NC). My R&B / ContemporaryJazz band has been together for 2 years playing weekend gigs as a hobby. I now want to get serious because I’ve got great musicians and our name is recognizable. What is the best way for me to own the name of the band, since I started everything?
ECIII: Before answering your question, I think you should make sure that your fellow band members understand and recognize that it was “you” who started the group and was the person “instrumental” (hee! hee!) in getting the group off the ground and marketable. If you don’t have this conversation, others may believe that they provided a “substantial” contribution to the development of the group, and this may cause problems of ownership down the road. If this is not the case, then I recommend that you register the band name as a Trade Name with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office. The filing fee is nominal ($50.00), and it makes known to all that you are the owner of that name for five (5) years. After 5 years, the name will need to be re-registered. Registering as a trade name adds a level of professionalism to the group, as the Secretary of State’s office will research its files to insure that the name is not being used by another entity.
Chuckie: Good stuff! This was very interesting. Looking forward to a great year of interviews with you.
Chuckie: Oh, I was over a buddy’s house this past weekend. I looked at his dog and I said “SPEAK!”.
Chuckie: Do you know that rascal said?
Chuckie: “NO!”, not without my Attorney Ewing Carter present.
ECIII: “GET OUT!!!”
July 30, 2014
Hey passengers today we have a guest writer. He’s a cat I used to know. I am mad at him (LIL CHuckie) cause there is a few things he could have told me that would’ve saved us a lot of ….time, money and issues had we had a talk back then. KICK IT!
Sometimes it seems like the whole purpose of life is just to learn and grow. We learn from our mistakes. I have observed that most of us do not learn unless we have made some mistake and have suffered its consequences.
I have also noticed that the majority among us keep on repeating the same mistakes again and again and in doing so keep on attracting the same kind of circumstances in our lives and then keep complaining too.
There are some of us who learn from the mistakes of others. The majority among us though must go out there, make their own mistakes, learn from them, change their thinking and behavior and move on. These are the wise ones.
So making a mistake unknowingly is not as bad as making it intentionally. Learning from your mistakes in incomplete without a change in your thinking patterns. Changed thought patterns bring about changed behavior.
Here are some life lessons I learnt after making mistakes. I am sharing them with you in the hope that you may be among the wise ones.
1. The most sincere and selfless people around you are your parents. They maybe wrong sometimes and maybe hard on you but don’t just rebel against them without trying to understand their intentions first.
2. Save some part of your money whenever you get some and don’t touch it unless you really really need it.
3. Spend most of your money on things whose value increase with time, rather than immediate pleasure. It won’t last long otherwise.
4. There is no shortcut to being rich. Anyone who tells you so is lying and most probably a cheat.
5. Time is more important than money.
6. Family is more important than career.
7. Pursue what you love to do and be great at it and find a way to make a living doing that.
8. If you are unable to make a living while doing what you love don’t stop doing what you love to do, and while you make your living doing something else keep thinking how can do what you love and still live of it.
9. Life is unpredictable. Make sure your loved ones know that you love and care for them, no matter how busy you are. Never assume they know. Even if they know tell them anyway.
10. Read good books instead of watching TV. You will learn more and waste less time.
11. Don’t buy what they advertise just on an impulse. Take your time to decide if you really need that thing.
12. Change your friends if they do not share your values. It won’t kill you or your reputation.
13. Take risks but calculate the risks before taking them to see that you can handle the failure.
14. Plan your life but leave room for unplanned activities too. Let yourself experience the element of surprise.
15. Remember that nothing lasts forever. Nothing. So appreciate what you have when you have it.
16. Find God The one true God. The one who gave his only begotten son. Reach out for Him and He will hold your hand for sure.
17. It’s better to agree to disagree rather than trying to force your point of view on someone who doesn’t think like you do.
18. Accept your failures with grace and don’t bury yourself in depression when you don’t get what you want. There might be something better waiting for you to notice it.
19. Loving someone does not mean you have to agree on everything.
20. When you are doing something try to focus all your attention to just that task. Forget about everything else.
21. Be healthy. Exercise, eat healthy foods, sleep well and you won’t get to see very many doctors in life.
22. Don’t do things just because everyone else is doing them. Choose what you want to do consciously with specific reasoning.
These are the very basic lessons I learnt from life. You make your own mistakes and learn them or you can just be the wise one.
Oh and one more thing from Lil Chuckie before I call for All Aboard….
Live like you were dying!
July 28, 2014
MERRY MONDAY!!! Here’s your weekly business car. It reads:
“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Hey passengers, I thought the quote above was appropriate for today’s post…After your ride today I think you’ll feel the same.
Well you know how we do it here on the train, like wine with a meal…MUSIC with the post. KICK IT!
You know, I was thinking as I mused over this post, my (our) mind is a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s awesome. But on the other, it can pulverize us more quickly and ruthlessly than anything else.
Our mind is inherently scared. That’s its job, to be cautious; to keep us alive, to have us cross roads safely, and not get eaten by a lion. But left unchecked, it can become paralyzed with fear and meaner than a cornered crocodile.
And it’s incredibly bossy.
The tendency of the mind to want to control is so strong and so habitual that we often don’t realize the myriad of times it tries to push our inner wisdom and natural sense of ease and love aside.
The bad news is there is no book or course that will change the nature of our mind; the good news—we don’t have to. The problem isn’t our mind, but how we use it.
We feel anxious, fearful, sad, or resentful when we give our mind too much power, when we follow all of its dopey ideas against our better judgment.
Here’s how I spot when my mind is trying to take over. Hope it helps you as well.
1. When you ignore your natural inclination.
Your mind is smart. Not wise smart, but computer smart. Your mind isn’t into all that woolly intuition jazz. It wants facts. It likes making calculations. Running the odds. Say you have a thought to call a friend you haven’t thought of in years. But then your mind says, “Don’t be silly. She’s probably not home. She won’t remember me.”
So you don’t call.
But have you ever followed one of those inclinations and then looked back and seen, wow, look at everything that happened after? And what about decisions like what to do with your life? The logical way is listen to experts or copy what works for other people. Your mind loves this.
This is why we ignore the little voice that says, “You should be a writer,” and choose instead to study statistics, because there are plenty of jobs for statisticians. Or we train to be a dancer because we’re “good at that. ”Except you aren’t “other people.” And experts aren’t as expert about you as you are. And just because you’re “good at something” doesn’t mean it’s what you want to do.
2. When you want to say “no” but you end up saying “yes.”
Do you have trouble saying “no”?
I used to. I didn’t even see it as a serious option until I hit my late forties. It was messy. I thought there were rules more important than my deep desire not to do something. Rules like be a good friend, be a good employee, go to lots of parties I didn’t want to go. Kiss the right butt, shake the right hands and laugh at jokes that didn’t come close to being funny.
This is, of course, a total mind thing. Your mind wants to be liked and it thinks everything is important. Your mind doesn’t realize that saying “no” isn’t a big deal, or even a medium deal. Or that your intuition is where wisdom lies. Not only is it your right to do as you genuinely desire, but it benefits everyone when you do. Awhile back I read “An Angel at My Table”, based on the autobiography of Janet Frame, one of New Zealand’s favorite authors. Janet spent eight years in a psychiatric hospital, had two hundred electroshock treatments, and narrowly escaped a lobotomy only to learn years later that she wasn’t unwell; she just didn’t like being very social, and if she did what she felt like she was fine.
3. When you constantly text or check your phone or email, or Facebook status.
I love the Internet and email and reading comments on my blog. Just love it. What an awesome world we live in. But often I feel off balance because of it. Or rather, because of how I use it. And it’s not like I don’t know why I get so hooked on it. I do. I’m looking for approval.
The need for approval goes deep. Not only is it a natural trait of the mind, it’s entrenched by our schooling system. But it’s dangerous. It keeps you distracted from the present moment and trains you to care when people disapprove. Which they will. The modern hyper-connected world is addictive. To the mind it’s like candy.
So what’s the answer? Give it all up?
Personally, heck no. But setting limits and removing temptation keeps things in check.
4. When you think, “It’s all very well for them.”
Have you ever heard an inspirational story and thought, “It’s all very well for him, he came from a rowing family. It’s easy for him to row the Northwest Passage.” You see it all the time and it’s a classic case of your mind resisting change, worried you’ll want to make some leap of your own. Take Elizabeth Gilbert and her book, Eat, Pray, Love.
It wasn’t a story about traveling around the world. Not really. It was about survival and courage and how one woman used the resources she had to save herself.
Thinking, as a few did, that it’s all very well for her she could afford to travel around the world is missing the point.
We all have the ability to get up off our metaphorical bathroom floor. And we all have our own unique set of resources to help us. When your mind is quickly dismissive and judgmental, it’s trying to stop you from seeing this.
5. When you think repetitive, worrying thoughts.
Getting OCD about washing your hands, turning off the stove, or locking the door before you leave is your safety-officer mind working overtime. While the worry feels real and overwhelming, there’s no reality to it. Don’t be pushed around by your mind. Thank your mind but tell it you’ll take it from here. Allow one double-check or hand wash. Now leave. The trick is ignoring the unpleasant thoughts while knowing a bunch of more pleasant ones will be along shortly.
6. When you try and control someone else.
Have you ever thought you knew better than someone else and tried to get them to do things your way? Just like dozens of times a day, right? Your mind is certain you have to intervene. You don’t. Your mind thinks it knows best. It doesn’t. Trying to control other people, in small and big matters, is not only annoying and disrespectful; it stops the flow of life. You miss out. I don’t know how many times I’ve experienced a profound and unexpected pleasure after I’ve ignored the urge to butt in.
7. When you feel inadequate for being “too negative.”
We’re inundated with messages telling us we should be grateful and positive and the like. They’re well meaning, but ultimately unhelpful. Because here’s the catch. Your mind regards these ideas as rules and is critical when you fail, as you invariably will. Because seriously, who’s positive or grateful all the time? A few years ago I had to tell a friend she was a negative person.
Her response: “Okay, so how do I change that.”
“You don’t,” I said, “You probably won’t always be this way. It’s just how you are right now.” Whenever you feel inadequate, this is your mind pushing you to “follow the rules.” It’s well intentioned, but misguided. Accepting how you are, no matter how you are, is the most loving and genuinely positive thing you can do. And yes, this applies to when you’re being controlling. It’s your mind’s nature to seek control. It’s neither a good or bad thing, it just is. Sometimes you’ll succumb, other times you won’t. And it’s all perfectly okay…
It’s all ok…
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
July 24, 2014
KICK IT! (The music for this post like wine with a meal)
When I first started this blog I had intended for the focus to be on the “Baby Boomer” generation since I just barely slide into that category…All heck, …ok, I’m a baby…”baby Boomer” …ok? Much to my surprise I was chastised by non-boomers (some young folk friends of mine) that the LiFeTrain should be for everyone, i.e. people of all ages. For the most part I have tried to stick to that maxim.
Today however, I would like to focus the microscope on those of us who are aging and the possible signs of depression. But first, I am not a doctor nor a psychologist. As a matter of fact I am not the most intelligent of lads. However, as I have said in the past, I know smart people, I read, think and have opinions (that I like to share here on the train).
Now, on to this week’s topic as part of Mental Health Awareness week. [Depression] is not a normal part of aging, although many older people and their caregivers think the two go hand in hand. As we age, we might encounter many familiar sources of depression, including losing loved ones and facing health problems. Still, depression can and should be treated in people of ALL ages.
I recently read that about 15% of adults over age 65 have significant depressive symptoms, and about 3% have major depression. Note, the risk of suicide increases with age: The National Institute of Mental Health reports that older Americans are disproportionately likely to die by suicide, and that white men over age 85 have the highest suicide rates in the United States. Two studies further underscore why older people with even minor depressive symptoms need treatment: One, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that older adults with signs of depression had diminished immune responses, which may affect their ability to fight off infections or disease. Another, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that more depressive symptoms in older adults meant more limitations on daily activity and a greater need for care. People with no depressive symptoms received three hours a week of care on average, those with one to three depressive symptoms had about four hours of care a week, and those with four to eight depressive symptoms needed six hours of care a week.
As we age, so are our parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles…you get the thread. Keep an eye on them. Check in on them and while you are at it…Check in on you! None of us are super-humans.
Checking in on you…This is what I mean. All over the world, depression is much more common in women than in men. In the United States, the ratio is two to one, and depression is the main cause of disability in women. One out of eight women will have an episode of major depression at some time in her life. Women also have higher rates of seasonal affective disorder, depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder, and dysthymia.
Why are women so disproportionately affected? Many theories have been advanced to explain this difference. Some experts (and myself) believe that depression is underreported in men. But of course there certainly other, more complex reasons for womenâ€™s greater vulnerability to depression.
Before I close out this part of our focus. Just let me close by explaining why I chose such an unpleasant topic this week. Let’s admit it – emotions can be hard to talk about for everyone. The best I can convey is because it [depression] is real, depression is very real. I have seen the effects on many folks close to me. I’ve seen it manifest it self through drug abuse, alcohol abuse, food addiction and if I can keep it real here…even sexual addiction. And as much as I hate to admit it…well refer back to part I for my disclaimer.
Some people can find it “uncomfortable” to be around a person who is upset. It embarrasses them because they don’t know what to say, or do, or how to help. It can even be hard to hear or accept “I Love You” for some people and they barely acknowledge you have said it. Lots of us are just not emotionally confident and even our own feelings make us sometime feel uncomfortable.
So how are we going to react to or help a son or daughter, sibling, or parent (or ourselves) with depression…? Simple actually, very simple. Don’t be embarrassed, …”GET HELP”.
Don’t die of embarrassment, guilt or shame. Listen, biology isn’t personal. Biology isn’t our fault. Our biochemistry isn’t a character flaw or personal weakness.
There is no shame in having diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s ALS, EMS, MS, Alzheimer’s, appendicitis, or being hit by car !!
As passengers here on the train we must learn this, know this & believe this:
Depression is truly an innocent, shameless, blameless, physical disorder that makes you believe that something is wrong with YOU instead of your biochemistry. It is not a mystery anymore. When I was a child growing up we didn’t even utter the word. Most men I know just drank the pain away. It isn’t your fault. It could simply just be a physical disorder, imbalance or deficiency.
The more we know and learn about our own biochemistry, the more often we will be able to see ourselves as separate from ourselves a split second at a time. Think about it…
All Aboard! The LiFeTrain!
July 23, 2014
Let’s head on back to the Doctor’s office, Dr. Diedra Hayman for another portion of the Doc’s wisdom. Today we look at what are some of the hindrances to us’ins relating in a more intimate way. I really enjoy’d this particular session and my allergies (wink, wink) almost started flaring up as the Doc was bringing back some of my own stuff. But hey, I am the Ultimate MACHO MAIN and that moment passed REAL QUICK; I recognized her tricks!
Note to self, I must say, she is good at getting one to open up…
CHUCKIE: What issues can cause one to struggle in the area of intimacy with the opposite sex?
Dr.Dee: Gosh Chuckie, there are so many issues that can cause problems with intimacy in general, as well as intimacy with the opposite sex, in particular. I think you did something on that issue a few months ago, and several people, including yourself, came up with some very good reasons why people struggle in this area. If you pop that in a search engine, you will find another hundred or so reasons. But the big ones seem to be related to inability to trust, mental health issues including active addictions, failure to cultivate intimacy (which can be an issue of priority), childhood issues, cultural influences (including gender roles and stereotypes) and negative past experiences.
CHUCKIE: Is it more prevalent in one sex?
Dr.Dee: I suspect its more recognizable in men than in women. Women generally are trained from babyhood, to talk, to share their emotions, to get close. Men, in general, are taught that the macho thing to do is swat someone on the butt, suck it up, and keep your business to yourself. And if they do share, its the bare minimum, whereas women want to go into all the gory details of whatever. The other issue is that men generally are more likely to feel vulnerable, which is what intimacy requires, by the way, and men just don’t care for that feeling of vulnerability.
CHUCKIE: What types of childhood issues could cause such barriers?
Dr.Dee: Well, how a person attached or failed to attach to a parent or caregiver can set one up for intimacy problems. If you grow up in a household where you could not trust the world (ie your caregiver) to meet your needs, it becomes very difficult to trust that people “out there” will meet your needs. Since the ability to trust is one of the necessary elements to intimacy, people who never learn to trust never learn to become intimate emotionally. Also, if a person grows up in an abusive household, or being abused by people they are supposed to be able to count on, intimacy becomes very risky. Its simply too dangerous to share too much of themselves, because often that information was used against the person to perpetuate the abuse. Low self-esteem can also pose a barrier to intimacy, and this is usually something that develops during childhood. If we never learn to love ourselves, its difficult to believe someone else will.
CHUCKIE: Have you found that divorce can lend greatly to this issue?
Dr Dee: That really depends on the person. Certainly, a divorce can cause problems with intimacy, but generally its safe to say that the problems that caused teh divorce are more likely responsible than the actual divorce itself. Some people are more resilient than others. They are able to understand within themselves that whatever happened in that marriage was something unique to that marriage, and it doesnt necessarily mean that the next partner will be the same. Others simply cannot bring themselves to separate the past from the present and future, and their damaged ability to trust will give them trouble with intimacy for years to come.
CHUCKIE: Should one seek help?
Dr Dee: Certainly one should seek help if they realize that they do in fact have trouble establishing intimate relationships. Problem is, many people who do have trouble, tend to believe its the other person! In fact, in many cases, people who have problems with intimacy, tend to be drawn to people who are emotionally unavailable. In other words, they tend to be drawn to people with whom they will NOT have to actually become intimate, while at the same time claiming to be seeking intimacy from that person. If the other person were to actually become emotionally available, then the seeker would probably turn around and find a reason why they cant be in that relationship. Its just becoming too close for comfort!
CHUCKIE: Doc, I came up with a Chuckism as I am so apt to do. I call it emotional impotency. For example, can a person be hurt by a spouse, lover, or church to the point of becoming emotionally impotent? One may want to love and be loved, or be active in the church, but due to catastrophic experiences, have trouble connecting?
Dr Dee: Absolutely. That really gets us into how people sometimes respond to traumatic events. If someone we trust hurts us deeply, damaging our ability to trust, sometimes, people are traumatized by that event. One of the behaviors associated with post trauma response is emotional numbing. We just don’t feel anymore. Another behavior associated with post trauma response is avoidance of anything that reminds us of the traumatic event…so we avoid relationships. We avoid connecting with others. We pretend to get involved, but we hold ourselves back emotionally. We become, as you say, emotionally impotent. Now another thing that can happen after deep hurt, is, you guessed it, depression and grief. If you remember, one of the symptoms of depression is lack of interest in things you used to enjoy…such as sex and close relationships…and also social withdrawal. You simply don’t want to be around folks. Or if you have no choice, or you are keeping up the front, you simply don’t get too close. You keep it all on the surface.
CHUCKIE: Well, we need to wrap this one up. Is there anything you want to add?
Dr Dee: Yes, emotional intimacy rests on emotional health. That means taking time to discover and address your own emotional needs, even if it means getting in to a therapist or pastor. Emotional intimacy also requires a good bit of courage and a positive attitude. It takes courage to allow yourself to become vulnerable to another human being, especially since we have all been hurt by someone at some time somewhere. And we do tend to draw the energy we send out. If we expect betrayal, we tend to draw people who give us what we are looking for. If we expect emotional distance, we tend to draw people who are emotionally unavailable.
CHUCKIE: Well Doc, this session is in the can. Thanks for stopping by the Train [again]. Is there anything you’d like to close with, is there anything else you’d like to leave us with today?
Dr.Dee: Well, yes there is as a matter of fact. Given that my practice is founded in Christianity, I’d like to leave our passengers with a few scriptures from the Bible:
…and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it…Gen.2:2-3
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord…Ex. 20:11
…the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. Luke 6:5, Mark 2:28
And he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:4
Go fellow passengers…and rest in God’s Peace!
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
July 22, 2014
Hey passengers, in support of mental awareness week (with an emphasis on anxiety) I decided we should visit the good Doc (Doctor Diedra Hayman Ph.D) again to make sure we have a firm understanding of the A word:
Regular passengers here on the LifeTrain know that we often visit with one of my Psych Doctor friends to discuss issues of the mind, back in the medical car of the LifeTrain. I sat down awhile back with Doctor Diedra Hayman to discuss anxiety disorders. With all the stresses of today’s world I thought it might be helpful to periodically look at how we could manage this type of condition or perhaps offer help to a friend or family member who might be…a tad worried over things. So without further a due, lets knock on the good doc’s door and see what we can find out. But first, let’s set the music for the background read:
Chuckie: Hey Doc Doc! Before we get started with today’s topic, tell us, whats going on in your world…how are you?
Dr.Dee: Well, life is moving quickly. I am just about to send the puppy I’m fostering to her forever home, so hopefully my life will get back to normal soon. I am SO glad my kids are past the diapers and 2am feedings, stage. Nursing puppies takes you right back to those days!
Chuckie: Doc, today let’s talk about Anxiety. Just what is Anxiety disorder?
Dr.Dee: Well, an anxiety disorder is really when we take worrying, and raise it to the level of art! lol! Everyone experiences anxiety. Its that feeling of nervousness, or worrying a bit about something that is new, something that is old and bothersome, something that is out of the ordinary for our lives. But when we worry and stress to the point where it interferes with our daily lives…we cant sleep, we cant eat normally, we are having bad dreams or nightmares, we are worrying about any and everything, we dont want to go outside our homes, we panic…then it becomes disorder.
Chuckie: Is this your area of expertise?
Dr.Dee: As a generalist, I do have some experience working with anxiety. After major depression, it is probably one of the most common mental disorders.
Chuckie: As I understand it there are types of anxiety disorder, correct?
Dr.Dee: Yes, there is an anxiety disorder for every day of the week! Not really, but there are several anxiety-based disorders. Interested readers can do a google search for the details, but briefly, there is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia, Phobias, Social Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, Tic Disorder, and Dissociative Disorders, Somato form Disorders, Anxiety Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. I may have missed a couple others, but those are the most common.
Chuckie: How do you treat anxiety disorders?
Dr.Dee: There are a variety of techniques for treating anxiety disorder. Systematic Desensitization is where a person is taught relaxation techniques, and then gradually exposed to the thing that causes them stress, while being asked to practice the relaxation. This can be done either through images created in the mind, or else, “in vitro”, or live, with an actual example of the anxiety provoking situation. Many cognitive-behavioral approaches are effective as well, and they tend to vary according to the type of anxiety. But essentially they teach the client to become aware of their thoughts, and then rather than accepting their thinking about an issue face value, they learn to question the validity of their thinking, and to replace faulty thoughts with more reasonable and helpful ones. I mentioned relaxation techniques as part of Systematic Desensitization, but those techniques alone can be taught as an effective means of coping with anxiety. Biofeedback is another means of treating anxiety. Here, the person is taught, through the use of a machine that monitors heart rate and blood pressure, to reduce the physical response to anxiety by slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. Lifestyle changes are very important. Often we are living in such a way, and at such a pace, that we may be unwittingly contributing to our own anxiety. And of course, there is medication management. There are a variety of medications available for the treatment of various anxiety disorders.
Chuckie: How do I know if the medication is working?
Dr.Dee: If there is significant reduction in anxiety symptoms, and the side effects are not intolerable, then you can assume the medication is having some impact. Its important to be alert to the medications, though. In the case of anxiety, some of the medications are actually addictive, such as the benzodiazepines (Klonipin, Xanax). If you dont want to risk addiction and withdrawal, request something other than a benzo, if at all possible. Some antidepressants are effective against anxiety symptoms, at different doses.
Chuckie: Any parting thoughts to leave us with on this subject?
Dr.Dee: Yes, anxiety can be a crippling disorder. It can make it difficult to impossible to get a job, keep a job, or even leave the house, for some people. Often, people become anxious because they attribute all kinds of faulty meanings to events that occur in their lives. One of the most effective treatments I know of for anxiety is trust in God. Knowing that ultimately, God is in control, makes it possible to manage even the most distressing anxiety, and even reducing it to zero. I encourage all who desire, to seek a knowledge of God, and to rely on Him for the solution to our deepest worries. God says “casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.”
Chuckie: Do you think we’ll ever get our own syndicated show?
Dr. Dee: Uhhh…no, Chuckie, I work on the “brief therapy” model. You are almost out of sessions for this treatment episode!