Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Free and Easy Stress Buster

posted by Linda Mintle

I’ve written about it before. I trained residents, librarians, social workers, teachers and others in this easy stress buster.

It’s free, it’s easy and it will save money on your health care costs.

What is it?

SMILING! Your facial gestures influence your mental health!

In a study published in Psychological Science (November 2012), researchers found that smiling reduced stress. Using a rather imaginative approach, researchers had people smile unknowingly. Here is what they did. During a stress task, subjects had to place chopsticks in their mouths. The chopstick positions forced three different types of facial response. One produced a neutral expression, the second produced a smile and the third a full smile. This way, each subject didn’t know he or she was smiling. Tricky!

The smiling people reduced their stress. The muscles involved in the smile sent a message to the brain, signaling safety, and lowering heart rate.

So here is your charge–smile often and big!

Smile at other people as it seems to be contagious. People smile back at you and you are de-stressing them as well!

Smile at your job and on a date and you will project a more positive image.

Smile when someone cuts you off in traffic and you will lower your heart rate.

Make smiling your favorite exercise.

Mother Theresa once said, “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Sounds like it is also a gift to yourself.

NOW GET OUT THERE and SMILE!

 

 

Help for Eating Disorders

posted by Linda Mintle

If you or someone you love has an eating disorder, it’s best to get help quickly. Treatment can save your life! The longer you stay in your abnormal eating habits, the more ingrained they become.

The first step is to get a good physical exam with a physician who understands the medical issues involved with eating disorders. He/she will need to rule out any physical cause for the disorder and evaluate your physical condition.

Most people can be treated in an outpatient setting, but sometimes hospitalization is necessary. Hospitalization is usually considered when weight loss is severe, when there are serious metabolic disturbances, when there is a risk of suicide due to clinical depression, when binging and purging is severe or when you are experiencing psychosis.

Because eating disorders involve complex emotional, psychological and spiritual issues, you need a comprehensive plan that will help you overcome the disorder. Usually a team of multidisciplinary professionals is assembled to treat you. The team should include a registered dietitian, a physician, a mental health practitioner who can provide individual, group and family psychotherapy and a psychopharmacologist-someone knowledgeable about psychoactive medications used to treat these disorders if needed.

The dietitian will help you establish good eating habits, correct faulty information about food, and help you gain or lose the appropriate weight safely and sensibly. The emphasis is on teaching you to use food as nutrition, not as a coping mechanism. The nutritionist, along with the therapist and physician, agree on a target weight for you to achieve. It is her job to nudge you along to your target weight.

The mental health practitioner is usually a psychologist, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist or counselor. The therapist helps you deal with the underlying emotional, spiritual and interpersonal issues that are playing out through preoccupation with food. The most effective models of individual therapy use a cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal therapy approach. The focus is usually examination and change of thoughts and behaviors.

Group therapy can be helpful in sharing your struggles with others who have the disorder. Groups help you feel less isolated, ashamed and more supported. Many groups provide good information along with support. Therapy groups can assist you in the practice of assertiveness, help you find your voice and identity, and explore interpersonal issues.

Family therapy is especially needed with young girls and teens. It is highly recommended for all types of eating problems. Family involvement aids treatment. Family work deals with family dynamics that contribute to the disorders.

Sometimes, not always, medications are used to help an underlying depression or anxiety problem. A psychopharmacologist may provide treatment recommendations to improve mood, control urges to binge and deal with excessive anxiety blocking progress.

Overall, the work of recovery and eventual freedom is a team effort using the resources of many fields. People with eating disorders often deny the seriousness of the problem. Some react with anger when help is sought. Denial of the problem is strong. Face your problem. Help is available. Early intervention leads to success.

 

For more help, Dr. Linda’s Book BREAKING FREE FROM ANOREXIA AND BULIMIA

Part 3: Christianity and Buddhism: The Difference in Narratives Makes a Difference

posted by Linda Mintle

I began this series with an introduction to The Christian Practice of Mindfulness. in Part 2, I discussed why Christians are attracted to Buddhism. Part 3 is an explanation of the differences of the narratives, which makes a difference. Part 4 is an ending summary and call to the church.

While similarities between Buddhism and Christianity can be found in terms of their morals and ethics, there are striking differences in the underlying narratives. The atonement narrative of Christianity asserts God as transcendent creator who brought harmony to his created world. When humans sinned, alienation from God resulted and a redemptive sacrifice was necessary to lead the restoration between God and his creation. The biblical narrative of creation, fall and redemption is as Richard Payne notes, “…a description of the past, present and future and a way of interpreting life and history and the individual.” [1] It also, as cultural psychologist Suzanne Kirshner points out, informed western development of modern psychoanlysis in terms of its conceptualization of growth and the self. Secular psychology changed “alienation from God” to “alienation from the true self.”[2] And while therapists like Jung and Rogers discussed the false self, the Buddhist notion of self is radically different. There is no self apart from moment to moment arising and ceasing. Self or ego is an illusion.

In Buddhism, there is no transcendent creator who created the world. There is no Garden of Eden or fall of humanity in need of a personal Savior who can save and atone for sin. The world simply exists with no beginning and no ending. Life as we know it is full of an endless cycle of suffering which is caused by attachments to and cravings for worldly pleasure. The self is nothing more than a delusion and is the cause of unhappiness. Suffering ends when cravings cease and all delusions are eliminated. When this is experienced, enlightenment is reached. Buddha, the enlightened one, shows us the path to this awakening.

The contrast between Buddhism and Christianity are many:

  • Buddhism teaches many lives through reincarnation; Christianity teaches resurrection and one life that will continue in eternity.
  • Buddhism teaches there is no self; Christianity espouses a true self that is reborn through conversion. God is a person and a self.
  • In Buddhism, one develops compassion and loving kindness in order to be liberated; In Christianity, charity and love are the results of being in relationship with the liberator.
  • Buddhists sit with suffering and have the goal of eliminating it; Christians desire to be transformed by suffering and see it as inescapable in a fallen world.
  • Buddhists want to extinguish passion and desire; Christians promotes a life of passion in total surrender to God that fulfill the desires of the heart.
  • Buddhists construct reality in the moment; Scripture admonishes us to attend to the present, to not worry about what tomorrow will bring and to be anxious about nothing but to also look toward a restored future in which good will triumph evil.
  • Buddhism promotes self-effort; Christianity promotes total reliance on God.
  • Buddhists believe Budda works to guide and teach; Christians believe in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Buddhists believe the purpose of life is to end suffering; Christians believe the purpose of life is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength.
  • In Buddhism, truth is constructed or developed over time and is the middle of two extremes known as the Middle Way. In Christianity, truth is absolute and found in Christ.

In sum, Buddhism provides a way for people to engage in spirituality without having to contend with a personal God. Fate is believed to be in one’s control and growth comes through self-effort. From a Christian perspective, Buddhism commits the original sin—to go one’s own way apart from God.

 


[1] Individualtion and Awakening: Romantic narrative and the psychological interpretation of Buddhism by Richard Payne pp. 31-51 from Buddhism and Psychotherapy Across Cultures: Essays on Therories and Practices by Mark Unno, Editor (2006). Wisdom Publishing Co

[2] Kirschner, S. The religious and romantic orgins of modern pscyholanalaysis. (1996) Cambridge University Press.

Parent Alienation Syndrome

posted by Linda Mintle

In the 1980s, a forensic psychiatrist coined the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) to describe the efforts of one parent to turn his or her children against the other. The syndrome involves deliberate mental and emotional abuse that can occur among highly conflictual couples who fight over custody.

The result is a child who harbors tremendous negativity towards a parent that is not based on actual experience with that parent.

It is a phenomena familiar to divorce attorneys who listen to endless cycles of accusations and counter accusations between spouses in child-custody disputes. PAS pits one parent against the other, the good and evil parent. When it works, the children also turn against the maligned parent.

The motivation behind PAS is usually rooted in poor coping from the failed marriage. Instead of a spouse engaging in healthy grieving for the loss of the marriage, the spouse goes after the spouse and engages the children in the battle. The spouse feels so damaged from the breakup, that enlisting the children in the anger and blame of the other serves as a way to further the blame. Or the spouse who vilifies feels so rejected and alone, turns to the children for nurturing and a source of support, even companionship. What emerges is a “we against the world” position. Instead of owning his or her part of the divorcing conflict, the spouse blames the other in a self-righteous way to protect the children.

Whatever the dynamics in play, the end result is poor conflict management and  children suffering the effects of parents who can’t cooperate on their behalf. Children are left with fears, confusion, sadness, and despair because parents can’t work through their disputes. The way conflict is handle destroys relationships and devastates children. Parents manipulate and use their children to get revenge.

Custodial parents are charged by the law to avoid any disruptions with the child’s other parent, yet, time and time, we see this syndrome acted out. This needs to stop for the sake of the children.

 

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