Can we transform negative thought patterns?

October 28, 2009

Besides working to maintain ever expanding brain plasticity as we age, I believe it is essential that we keep turning our negative thought patterns into positive ones.

The potential to do ANYTHING you set your mind to, is already present within your own mind right now, but unfortunately so are all those nasty little irritating limiting thoughts and doubts. They are always happy to share with you the many perfectly good reasons why you do not deserve or cannot have whatever it is you want.

If you are anything like me, you constantly struggle to reconcile what you feel like you are supposed to do, with what you want to do.  Or perhaps you don’t even know what you want to do or be, because you’re so busy doing what everyone else around you wants or needs you to do.

Why do we keep re-creating the same realities for ourselves?  Why do we repeat the same mistakes in our relationships with others?  It is because all too often we believe everything we think.

The first step in changing this internal limiting mental pattern is to understand exactly how your brain works.   New discoveries in the brain sciences suggest that you can take control of your mind instead of letting it control you.

It is estimated that the human brain has about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses. Each one of our neurons may be connected to hundreds of other brain cells by as many as 10,000 synapses.  The average person thinks between 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day, most of which we are not even conscious of.

Every thought we think is used by the same network of brain cells and synapses—every single time.  Every thought attracts thoughts of a similar nature because neural electrical branches are capable of growing secondary branches leading to similar thoughts.

So our brains have a tendency to hold on to those thoughts we think most often.  What happens in our brains determines what happens in our lives.  That’s why we need to stop believing everything we think.

Subconscious thoughts come to us effortlessly because the synapses that give life to them are wider and information can pass through them more easily. They usually represent the sights and sounds from our past which we have mentally revisited the most often or have affected us on the deepest emotional level—whether positive or negative.

One of the worst difficulties anyone can cope with is to be haunted by negative thoughts that constantly repeat themselves in our mind seemingly without our conscious control.   Negative thoughts serve no beneficial use to us whatsoever and can even drive us insane.

If you let them, they will take away all of your confidence, all of your happiness, and even your desire to better yourself. The negative unconscious thoughts from our childhoods are particularly brutal because they are the most deeply-ingrained and we have the tendency to believe their messages and then let them define who we are in every life situation.

Fortunately, one of the greatest discoveries ever made about the human mind is the fact that we can choose which thoughts to develop and which to eliminate.

I’ll teach you how next time.


Breast Cancer Awareness

October 20, 2009

breast-cancer-ribbon-stained-glass-alana-schmittLive one day at a time, and make it a masterpiece!

Breast cancer is one of my most insidious worries.  Ever since my Mom got cancer when I was in junior high, I have worried a lot about this!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease has touched all of our lives, and it’s time to stop it in it’s tracks!

Here’s a few short but very informative videos about detecting it early and SURVIVING!

Amy Ferris shares her confessions from a midlife crisis: Marrying George Clooney

October 12, 2009

One of the BEST benefits of being the Midlife Crisis Queen is being automatically mailed a few of the latest books published about midlife.

MarryingGeorgeClooneyBeing a librarian from way back, I ALWAYS appreciate a good read, and Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a midlife crisis is just that!

Any book about midlife crisis that can make you laugh and cry at the same time, is well worth reading.

From her love affair with Ambien to her midnight musings as she cruises the internet, Amy Ferris captures the deeper turmoil and confusion that only menopause can bring.

At first I thought her book would only be a light and sometimes hilarious romp through Amy’s own version of a midlife crisis with great lines like, “I no longer have a waistline!” and her compulsive need to Google old boyfriends and lovers.  She definitely kept me on my toes and laughing through her discussions about being a control freak even AFTER her own death.

But at the end of the book, Amy graciously shares her last days with her mother before she died.  No more touching words have been written about the passing of a beloved parent.

The relationship between obesity and low self-esteem

September 12, 2009

This British study found that over 20 years, low self-esteem leads to obesity and not the other way around.

I believe low self-esteem leads to poor eating habits, especially the need to stuff yourself with sweets, which makes us feel the need to eat ever more carbohydrates to feel full.

It’s called stuffing your feelings instead of letting them out and dealing with them, and it can turn into a never-ending vicious cycle.  We stuff our feeling and try unsuccessfully to hide them.  Pretty soon they are showing all over our body!

Do we “deserve” everything that happens to us?

September 11, 2009

I received another rejection notice from MORE MAGAZINE yesterday.  I pitched them a story about how others have dealt with their midlife difficulties and learned and grown from them.

I go back and forth in my relationship with the mainstream media.  Mostly I’ve decided that it is just too dysfunctional to bother with.  They seem to insist on covering only celebrities, how to lose weight, how to perfect your makeup, and other types of earth shattering news.  They insist on maintaining a pathologically optimistic attitude, never admitting that life is really tough sometimes, and how do we deal with that?

It reminds me of a conversation I overheard yesterday between two elders who both agreed that we should just wait a few more years before we change health care, because we don’t quite have it right yet.

I could not contain myself.  I burst in with, “While we tinker with the system, thousands of Americans are  dying for the lack of health care.  I know you both have Medicare, but the rest of us are completely screwed if we lose our job!”

It seems most Americans have a colossal case of:

My life is fine, so screw you!

I also used to feel so self-satisfied and complacent.  I had my little job and my life and thought anyone  who ran into trouble,  simply wasn’t playing by the proper rules.  Then I lost my job and could not find another no matter what.

No more health insurance, no more money and eventually no more home!  If I had had my bike accident (Traumatic Brain Injury) while I was uninsured, I definitely would have lost my house!  And I wouldn’t have been able to work because of my brain injury.

HELLO!  Completely unpredictable things happen to each of us all the time!  It’s nobody’s fault when you get cancer or have a terrible accident, and these things do happen to everybody, regardless of whether we  “deserve” them.

Perhaps it has to do with the unforgiving nature of some brands of Christianity.  You know, the old belief that if bad things happen to you, you are probably being punished for your sins.  I ran into this often in the rehab hospital where I did my counseling internship.  Especially the elderly would sit and wonder out loud, “What did I do to deserve this?”

News flash!  We all get sick, get injured, and we will all have to die, no matter how good or bad we have been in our life.  It sure would be nice if we accepted these facts and then decided to offer proper health care to our fellow Americans.  I feel certain that the richest country in the world can afford universal health care, if we ALL decide WE are worth it.

The Healing of America

August 29, 2009

On the PBS Newshour last night, they had an interview with T.R. Reid, the author of the book The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.

Reid traveled the world to study how other countries offer health care to all of their citizens for generally half the cost of that paid in the U.S.  He said he started this journey asking the question how do other countries do it?

In time he replaced that question with why do other countries feel that universal health care should be a right for all citizens.  He is amazed, as I am, that we are one of the richest countries in the world, and yet many of our citizens die daily for lack of proper health care. 

Why do so many Americans feel others do not deserve the kind of health care that they themselves enjoy?  Are we really so selfish and ungenerous as a people?

Reid said many Americans would say we cannot afford proper health care for all of our citizens.  But in other countries the citizens decided that this was their top priority, and then they found a way to MAKE it happen.

I remember when I lost my job a few years ago and could no longer afford health insurance.  On top of feeling terrible about my life circumstances,  I also felt like nobody cared about me or my health, at one of the worst times in my life.  Life happens to all of us.  Sometimes we become injured or ill.  Is that our fault?  Do we still deserve health care?

Our health is our most precious possession.   When you don’t have your health, nothing else matters…

The health care debate, obesity and YOU!

August 13, 2009

Health Overhaul ProtestsI’ve been thinking a lot about our legacy lately.

I find one of the least attractive legacies of our generation to be that of obesity, both in ourselves and our children.

I have had an amazing eye- opening experience in the past six months, when confronted with how toxic the well-accepted, standard American diet can be.

I learned so much by simply observing the overwhelming amount of sweets (also known as sugar, high fructose corn syrup,  aspartame, splenda, honey, cane sugar, etc.) there is in our diet.  It is turning our bodies into toxic waste dumps!  I believe the only healthy sweetener is the herb stevia.

I now see that if each of us would do the same simple experiment of cutting most sweets from our diet, we would see a dramatic reduction in illnesses and deaths caused by the three biggest killers: cancer, obesity and diabetes.

As we confront the issue of health care reform together, the question of what each of us is willing to do about the obesity epidemic should come front and center.  We now spend at least $147 billion every year on obesity-related ailments and conditions!

If we are at all concerned about reducing health care costs, we need to get serious about taking better care of ourselves!  There is an undeniable link between rising rates of obesity and rising medical spending and early death.

I personally wish everyone who feels so passionately about reducing health care costs would quit pointing their finger at government or food manufacturers or anyone else for one moment, and turn that finger around and take a good hard look at themselves and what they put in their mouths everyday.

If this country really wants to reduce health care costs, we must get serious about taking better care of ourselves!  I know taking full responsibility is so out of fashion these days, but we could all benefit from considering how we each contribute personally to the health care problems in this country.

Personal observation and discipline are required to change your health and your own quality of life.  Nobody else can do this for you.