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Category: Intrinsic Blog

Forgiveness

Forgiveness – a Happiness Risk/Reward Paradigm—Let go and live fully everyday

Forgiveness of self and others:

  • Reduces the stress levels of the forgiver
  • Reduces levels of negative emotions (e.g., anger, blame, vengeful thoughts and feelings)
  • Increases overall positive emotions
  • Increases the forgiver’s overall sense of control
  • Is positively correlated to better physical and mental health

“…forgiveness still allows for holding the offender responsible for the transgression, and does not involve denying, ignoring, minimizing, tolerating…or forgetting the offense.” (vanOyen Witvliet, et al. 2001, 118)

Gratitude

Gratitude – a Happiness Risk/Reward Paradigm—Be grateful every day

  • “Heartfelt expressions of love and appreciation are associated with a smooth, ordered, coherent pattern in the heart’s rhythmic activity
  • The magnetic field produced by the heart is more than five thousand times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain and can be detected a number of feet away from the body, in all directions
  • A person’s cardiac field is modulated by his or her different emotional states, several studies have now documented that the electromagnetic field generated by the heart may actually transmit information that can be received by others.”
  • “When two people are at a conversational distance, the electromagnetic signal generated by one person’s heart can influence the other person’s brain rhythms. When an individual is generating a coherent heart rhythm, synchronization between that individual’s brainwaves and another person’s heartbeat is more likely to occur.
  • The Heart / Brain wave connection has been measured between individuals up to five feet apart.
  • “This deep form of communication establishes a heartfelt connection between people, resulting in perceptions of, among other things, really being understood and appreciated by the other.”
  • “So when a person expresses heartfelt gratitude toward us, there is the potential for us to experience all sorts of benefits driven by this exchange of electromagnetic energy.” (Emmons, R. A., THANKS, How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007, (87-89)

Stages of Change

Where are you now?

Stages of Change 1

When we experience a change in life (gain or loss) we experience one or all of the various stages of change associated with either our emotions or the way we think. Often, these stages of change happen simultaneously.

When faced with change, we can embrace, learn and grow or resist and close down. Eventually, whatever changes have taken place we eventually grow to accept the change. Research has shown that when we can identify “where we are” in the stages of change, and when we can identify the specific emotions (verbally) we are feeling, the more effective we become in managing the emotional and cognitive stages of change. Moreover, we are better able to think twice about the situation and determine better solutions that foster healing and growth.

The choice you make when under the stress caused by change is to decide whether the change has you or you have it. When you can decide that you have it is the point where you gain greater control.

Lastly, when changes do take place you are far better off discussing the challenges with a trusted friend or advisor to increase your chances of making the very best decisions for both your short-term and long-term needs and goals.

Emotional Stages of Change

Elisabeth Kübler Ross, MD outlined the 5 stages of death and dying as:

  • Shock & Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Additional research suggests that there are 3 more stages to follow, they are:

  • Forgiveness
  • Happiness
  • Gratitude

Cognitive Stages of Change

  • Pre-Contemplation
    • No awareness of any problem or need for change
  • Contemplation
    • Becoming aware of a problem and beginning to think about solving it
  • Preparation
    • Beginning to gather information and developing a plan for change
  • Action
    • Taking steps to actually change – remove deficiencies, add a new way of living, building a preferred future because they value the possible over the present
  • Maintenance
    • New behavior becomes a sustainable habit
  • Termination
    • no risk of going back – client has fully integrated their life plans, and their preferred future behaviors are aligned with their core values and beliefs

Additional research suggests that there are 3 more stages to follow, they are:

  • Forgiveness
  • Happiness
  • Gratitude

Money’s Power

The Symbolic Power of Money by Zhou, X., Vohs, K.D., & Baumeister, R.F outlines some of the pervasive affects money has on our psychological and physical well-being.

  • The act of counting money makes people feel stronger.
  • Recollections of having spent money make people feel weaker (why people hate tracking expenses and budgets and why the great recession feels so bad).
  • The thought of money can affect how we perceive physical pain and social rejection.
  • Rejection stirred a greater desire for money, and thoughts of losing money made social rejections sting more.

Psychosomatic medicine has found that social isolation tends to raise stress hormones and blood pressure, and weakens the immune system (Begley, “All in Your Head? Yes, and Scientists Are Figuring Out Why…” WSJ, B1, 17 Mar 06)

  • The Implication:
  • Money can be a substitute for relationships
  • Money can buy relationships or at least the illusion of relationships. For example:
  • Sex
  • Spouses who remain in marriages “for the money”
  • Doing it, whatever “it” is for the money degrades the sense of self and increases the risks of materialism
  • Thinking about money made physical pain feel less acute. Thoughts of losing money made physical pain worse
  • In other words, the belief that a paper loss is real and permanent makes physical pain worse
  • In a separate study a significant loss of money, death or divorce can cause “broken heart” syndrome and death. (Winslow, R., “Hearts Actually Can Break”. WSJ, D1, 9 Feb 10.)
  • The primary effect of the idea of money is to promote:
  • General feelings of strength, efficacy and confidence and these feelings act as a buffer against social rejection and physical pain.
  • Psychosomatic medicine has shown that being socially engaged is associated with less coronary artery disease, fewer colds & other infections, and longer life. (Begley, WSJ)

Dreams in Motion

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without.

Here is an individual hard at work. He conceives of and mentally builds up an ideal condition of life. The vision of a wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him; unrest urges him to action, and he utilizes all his spare time and means, small though they may be, to the development of his latent powers and resources. Very soon, so altered has his mind become that the workshop can no longer hold him. It has become so out of harmony with his mentality that it falls out of his life as a garment is cast aside, and, with the growth of opportunities which fit the scope of his expanding powers He passes out of it forever.” (As a Man Thinketh by James Allen)

Risks of Materialism

  • “…people who choose to devote their lives to the pursuit of the “American dream” (the pursuit of money, fame, and popularity) suffer more:
  • psychological distress (anxiety, depression, narcissism) than do people who pursue inner guides like self-actualization.
  • This is true even when those who pursue the American dream do actually attain the money, fame, and popularity they seek” (Kasser & Ryan, 1993, 1996).” (Reeve 410)

Intrinsic Rewards

  • “…people who pursue intrinsic motivation in life show greater:
  • – self-actualization and subjective vitality
  • – less anxiety and depression
  • – greater self-esteem
  • – higher-quality relationships with friends and intimates
  • – watch less television, and
  • – use less drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes.” (Kasser & Ryan, 1996, 2001, taken from Reeve 153)
  • When the pursuit of money is motivated by one’s integrated extrinsic and intrinsic motivations there is no negative impact to one’s subjective well-being and enables the pursuit of self-actualization. (Sirvastava, Locke, Bartol)

Letting Go!

Schlag Byte 1/6/03 – “Happy New Year from the Big Kahuna”

Spent a glorious week-and-a-half in paradise over the New Year holiday. We visited our daughter in Kaua’i where she teaches Yoga in the North Shore village of Hanalei accessible only via a single lane wooden bridge. This is the home of big wave surfers, Hollywood moguls, Puff the Magic Dragon and a wonderfully dizzying assortment of hands-on healers.

The morning after our arrival our daughters treated us to a surprise anniversary gift — a traditional Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi massage that lasted four hours. Lomi-Lomi means to soften and we were softened to the melting point.

That morning I was introduced to Allen Alapa’i, a fourth generation Kahuna, a traditional healer. His name means “makes one ready to wake up”. Allen lives at the literal end of the road at the base of a mountain in the midst of a lush, dense tropical jungle. A big teddy-bear of a man with a headband and a high pitched giggle, he greets me with a bear-hug embrace saying, “Welcome to Kaua’i Papa, today we will let out your baby boy spirit out to play.”

I’m not sure what it means but i am ready as he leads me into his treatment room that is filled with guitars, ukeleles, candles, totems and paintings all surrounding the massage table. I undress and wait for the Big Kahuna to release me.

He starts by chanting a prayer in his native language. He asks Akua, the Great Spirit, to bless him in his work and to bless me in mine. He wants to release the knots of painful memories and liberate my uncluttered baby boy spirit to become whole again. Moving his fingertips over my body he does a diagnostic assessment. He picks out all the sore points and tells me they are old stored memories that block the flow of healing energy. Allen says that working on these knots and blocks may bring up some feelings all of which are okay to express. I can scream, cry, laugh or go to sleep, it is all okay.

He says he learned all this from his Grandmother, who picks him out of 12 grandchildren because he had the patience to learn. “This is what my Grandma taught me,” is the repetitive refrain, “you have to get out of your head and hear your body talk. On this table old memories are forgotten. Those knots that are the result of suffering, fear, sadness, anger or jealously and I will rub them out. They will be replaced by a healing energy that will let your baby boy spirit soar. This is what my grandma taught me.”

After four hours with the Big Kahuna there was not a knot left in my body. Floating in a state of tensionlessness, my muscles like jelly, my head separate from body, my baby boy spirit was ready to play.

The following morning I dropped my wife off for her four hours with the Big Kahuna and on my way back I passed two young men butchering a hog at the side of the road. I stopped to shmooze and found out that the whole island was crawling with feral pigs. The wild hogs destroyed crops and landscapes. The hunters, Jesse and Wendell, were the Big Kahuna’s nephews. They are part of a federal funded eradication program that pays licensed hunters a bounty. It keeps the pig population in control, supports the economy and provides food.

Jesse tells me the secret to hunting pigs successfully is having a pack of dogs. They track and corner the wild hogs until he catches up with them and finishes the animal off. Sometimes the boar’s razor sharp tusks finish his dogs off. In fact, he loses 6-8 dogs a year. Jesse has trained over 300 dogs, all coon hound mixtures with Dobermans, Airedales and Pit Bulls. He says the Pit Bulls are the dumbest. “They never last more than five hunts, Jesse says, they want to kill the hog themselves and hang-on even when they are dying.” Of course, I find this a metaphor for life: “If you don’t know when to let go it’ll kill you every time.” I’m thinking this has got to be another one of Grandma’s stories about letting go of your head.

This is another year, so if you’re living like you’re dying, resolve to let go of those pigs on your brain, all those dysfunctional knots and memories and welcome your baby boy/girl spirit.

Happy New Year from The Big Kahuna.

Dr. Carl Hammerschlag

http://www.healingdoc.com/blogs/

Reprinted with permission

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