Corona Erosion

August 3, 2020

Make no mistake, whether you have been attending, protecting, isolating, denying, protesting, politicizing or hoping as you deal with this prolonged pandemic, that it not eroding your psyche. I have written blogs (drgaryrichman@wordpress,com) on how to handle this dilemma that we are all suffering from no matter what your attempts have been. As we have all been witnessing everywhere in person and in the news, the ongoing effects of COVID19 it are wearing us down.

We crave to have our “normal” back, and we are sick and tired of it being everywhere and controlling our lives. I get it! I feel much of the same emotion/erosion. It is playing on our  psyche and our nerves. It is where ever we look and with every face mask, literally in our face. We want it gone to end the surreal nightmare and wake up metaphorically back in Kansas again.

We held our breath when the out break first ocurred, and we hunkered down to do our best to end it. And then mostly due to mixed messages and community pressure, governors and mayors gave in and opened up too soon and without enough safeguards in place. And guess what, COVID19 came back with a vengence. AND still, people did not what to heed warnings in order to preserve the myth that we had “beaten it.” They even went as far as to blame everything and everyone, rather then their own irresponsible behaviour.

None the less, no matter where you stand on this issue, the erosion continues to wear us down. So what do we do? Like in any war, we have to keep going in a manner that preserves our sanity.  How?

We must maintain a consistent routine that allows all of us to feel secure.

We need to work out physically to ease the tension and stress.

We need to video talk to friends and family to stay connected (texting and emails won’t do),

We need to yell and punch cushions and pillows to let out the anger at feeling helpless.

We need to seek professionals who can support and interpret our psychological pain.

We need to hug those around us and allow the vulnerability we are struggling with.

We need to not assume we can just get “over this.”

We need to admit this is getting to us as it is to everyone else and not attempt to macho through it.

We need to attend and support our own humanness that is dealing with something we have no experience with. That none of us have answers or life experiences to draw on here. We need to be clear and check in on how we feel and what we believe/guess is needed to hang in there.

Do all of these things I have mentioned above and you will decrease the erosive process that is naturally going on with you and everyone. Also get angry at the media. Every media station left or right have emphasized medical and political issues, while ignoring the human/psychological ones that are the forefront of everyone that is healthy and attempting to stay that way.

Good luck and take heed not to ignore Corona Erosion.

Mental Health: Not Essential Personnel?

March 25, 2020

I am stunned by the fact that as every news cast and caster has had numerous consultants on to identify and clarify what we are all dealing with, most have not had a psychologist on to discuss the emotional overwhelm of this country/situation.

Those of us in the mental health field have for far too long been aware that society does not consider us as “essential,” but one would hope that a crises like this would wake people up. How is it that psychologists are not regularly being asked to discuss how emotional stability is affected by a crises, to normalize the stress and anxiety that accompanies a situation like this, or to explain how to address and cope with what is happening. It’s appalling that these essential understandings are not being looked into and discussed.

So let’s get started:

First: We must be able to acknowledge that we are not in control of this virus and it scares us in that we are unable to tangibly fight back. We must seek support and comfort in this time of need, otherwise you will attempt to gain control of family members around you. This attempt will cause distress and distance which is not what will comfort you. Families, couples and even individuals need to communicate around the sense of helplessness to have a sense of not being alone or unsupported. We need to be able to speak out the anxiety and concern. It does not make it disappear, but it will allow the inner self to not suppress feelings and gain some sense of contentment. It is important to feel supported in these times and diminish the toxic build up around this unprecedented event. To ignore this and just hunker down and “get over it” will cause depression, irritation, and concern for self.

The anxiety and angst that will be experienced needs to be let out. One way is to exercise. Another way is to get on your bed on your knees and with your fore arms beat the bed. The third is to go to a quiet location in your house and let those around you know you are doing this. Put a pillow over your mouth and let out a blood curtailing scream. All of these are the easier way of diminishing pent up anger which is normal at a time like this. If you choose to hold too much in you will experience increased anxiety.

Second: With the new normal that is being placed on us, a sense of isolation and “cabin fever” is to be expected. This will cause low frustration tolerance and irritation. Families may be harsh or take out anxieties on each other that will cause pain and separation.  This is the antithesis of what is needed. We need to feel close and not alone in this critical time. Again, a good reason to beef up communication and family chats.

Third: We humans are creatures of habit. We like our routines, schedules, and consistency. Well, clearly that is out the window. People, as time goes on will start to be edgy and impatient. Many of us will not know how to handle this and the usual behaviour is to “get over it,” or ignore/deny it. We will try to hold our breathe morphometrically until we turn blue. This will cause more irritation and a need to control that which can not be controlled. We must set a new routine and sense of order to our lives to stabilize and feel more secure. The more we can engage a new discipline the more comforted and less frustrated we will become in an already frustrating environment.

Four: Be on the look out over the next month for what is called: Situational Depression. This looks like clinical depression, but it is a result of loss or trauma, both of which we are experiencing with the loss of our daily routines and mobility. The warning signs of this are called, vegetative signs of depression. Be mindful of interrupted or prolonged sleep, eating shifts of too much or too little, apathy, lethargy, wanting to isolate or withdraw, anhedonia, i.e. lack of passion for things that you use to enjoy, debilitating helplessness or homelessness, increased use of alcohol, or drugs (prescription or not), and what is not unusual down the road could be a mild form of feeling suicidal in the sense of just wanting out of this situation.

If any of these vegetative signs increasingly show up, seek the support of friends or a therapist that may still be talking to patients by video chat or phone. It can and will help.

There is more to be aware of, but these will help in the short run that we may/will have to endure.

B well   B safe  Relate and Communicate

Panic and Fear

March 24, 2020

Clearly one does not have to look far to see and feel the fear and panic is taking place everywhere. If this were a flood, an earthquake, tornado, or any other natural disaster, people would be rallying as they have over the many years to help others. IT is a human response that typically and wonderfully shows up.

Currently we are under an attack that we can’t feel, see, or touch. And yet we are terrified of it, while getting almost no guidance from the powers that be. Thus we fell like we are unprotected with little hope of rectifying things and feeling safe. So…. as a sense of helplessness increases, people are turning to extreme measures of craziness to combat this virus as best they can, e.g. hoarding toilet paper. Like children who have no sense of protection and safety from a parent, this country is running scared due to a severe lack of guidance from a parent/leader who provides a sense of center and wisdom for us to lean on.

Hence, we have an epidemic of panic and fear that is taking over our common sense, wisdom, or connection to a higher concern. We have lost our sense of brotherly love and community replaced by selfish hoarding and survivalist mentality.

It is now that we have to endeavour to discipline our sense of centeredness, mediation, routine, appropriate health stop gaps, while loving our fellow man who is in the trenches with us. As I tell my patients and fellow church goers, “friendship and faith are tested in the hard times not the easy ones.” This is the time to grab our inner strength, be vigilant while also thinking of the suffering needs of others. To let others know we are around if need be or that we are going to the market if they need something, especially the elderly.

In that we do need to be aware and careful, there are numerous things you can do to ease your sense of fear and panic and feel more empowered:

Wash your hands every time you come in from outside with soap and hot water

Use bacterial wash diligently

Don’t touch your face before washing

No hugging, touching, shaking hands other than with whom you live

When paying with credit cards use hand sanitizer after signing or putting in your pin number

Use paper towels or some buffer between you and the gas pump

Don’t use cash and if you do find some way to sanitize it

Drink hot water with lemon and/or ginger

Get out and walk in nature

Exercise

Develop a home routine as it provides a sense of stability and security

Breathe through the nose and out through the mouth every half hour and center in your chest

Meditate and work on inner practices of centering and peace

Keep aware of the toxicity in the world right now and cleanse your self: sage is good

Stay in touch with loved ones by seeing them through skype, face time, or zoom

There maybe more ways you may know to be safe and can share them with those with whom you talk to. We need to be proactive in our  being/feeling/ owning of personal safety and well being. This is not only an outside of self process but inside out as well. The more you engage in these practices the more you will be able to cope with  what is going on instead of thinking that hoarding will save you. Fear and Panic has never saved anyone. In fact, the more you engage in this you are increasing your stress which diminishes your immune system. Hence, inviting dis-ease and the virus.

Origins of Hate

October 29, 2018

With all that has gone on lately, especially lately the word hate has come up and been acted on in a way that is overwhelming and repugnant. We have over the course of the last ten years been witnessing domestic shootings that seem pointless and originating from those we would classify as seriously depressed to the point of being just plan crazy. We know that random acts of horror have been perpetrated on the innocent for no other reason than someone has lost their way and their mind. The recent acts of violence, however are of a very different origin though not unfamiliar to our history.

There was a line in a song from the musical South Pacific that said, you have to be carefully taught. Carefully taught to be prejudice and hate anyone who is so different that they need to be watched, shunned, or eradicated. However, not since McCathyism has fear been so nationally reinforced and spoken to in the most horrific manner. Those who ‘have been carefully taught’ as well as those feeling so deeply disenfranchised believe they are being somehow patriotic by killing those who are different. When hate and the deadly acting out on those beliefs seems to make one a good card carrying member of some new order, we are moving into the flagrant ‘dark side of the force’ of pure evil.

The origins of hate commence when children are brought up to be socialized to inately believe they can never get ahead or actualize their dreams. They are taught that there are those who are “not like us” as well as more privileged deserving to be hated or projected on. Thus, this way of behaving and believeing becomes the normal way of thinking and acting. In essence, never having to look deeper at one’s own responcibility and potential or even ever believe it is possible to be more. This lack of possibilities begets viewing those who were not given this negative message and have therefore moved ahead, as deserving of hated. The groups that are wrong or too different from those who are taught to be disenfranchised are the easy scapegoats for all the woes experienced by this self fulfilling prophecy of being less. As in another movie,  Pretty Woman when upon hearing that she had great qualities, she says, the negative is easier to believe. When you been weaned on hearing that its everyone else’s fault for how things are and if only “they” were gone will things be right for “us” makes fertile ground for bigotry and hated.

In fact, all these people who feel disenfranchised and pushed aside are horribly alone and hopeless. They anaesthetize depression and worthlessness with substances coupled with blame and hate. Ideally, what they need is to be reached out to with encouragement and a process offered to them by which they can learn to believe in themselves and achieve differently. Obviously, if this were done at the elementary school level the outcome would be more fruitful.

Until we all get on the band wagon of helping and understanding where hate and bigotry come from, we will never have an inroad to healing a severe problem in our country. BUT, along with this we must have leaders who promote this perspective and attitude, while condemning scapegoating differences and hateful violence.

Passion

October 15, 2018

So many of the younger people I see in my practice are struggling with finding their passion. Even older adults wonder where their passion has gone. They look to their heads for the spark and the juice associated  with  passion. They seem to believe that it dwells in their heads and can be accessed as if googling an app. They have been socialized to look even more outside themselves then their parents generation. They seem to believe that the origins of passion are in their intellect wondering why they can’t access this tangible file that must be close at hand.

Passion exists in one place and one place only, i.e. the heart/feelings. Passion by design is a feeling, and that which springs up from this place are the excited aspects of desire and want. It is the place that once accessed, spews forth an energetic targeted on a doing that is overflowing with joy, sacrifice, and enthusiasm.  It is as if we are directed to a place or objective that has almost no thought, except how to manifest it. And though the doing takes some doing as anything worthwhile does, the well from which this springs is clear, definitive, and exciting, and all encompassing.

The rub is that so many have been taught to suppress feeling and oneself. In a society where vulnerability and mindfulness of self are not encouraged, especially in this tech oriented world of texting and social media, we don’t know how to engage self. We distract our self from ourselves being taught not to “dwell,” “linger,” “burden,” “stay stuck,” “loose control,” “breakdown,” or embarrass ourselves by having and owning our emotions. Moving on and “getting over it” are the defaults of our day. No one including your own self, has the band width for emotions or depth. In this collusion against self reflection, we stay as far away from ourselves as humanly possible, accompanied by a good heaping of judgment.

Passion is the juice of/for intention, invention, risk taking, direction, path, knowing, intuition, loving, deepening, and excitement. It comes from deep inside of our higher selves and bursts forth with gusto and intense motivation to grasp intensely and completely whatever shows up. But it can only be felt if we do the work to stay open to self, involving the more difficult work of staying in touch with our deeper selves. To the level you can do this, is the level and depth of passion you will experience.

Gratitude

October 1, 2018

To be in gratitude. Seems like such an easy statement, but such an important, immense and worthwhile perspective. Gratitude is a authentic aspect of humility coupled with a deeper sense of thankfulness. It means that one feels and acknowledges the joy of being granted from the Universe the gifts of being. These gifts can come in many forms, but it is without ego’s pollution. Therefore, an inner acceptance and peacefulness pervades as one owns and claims self through gratitude.

Today for instance was a beautiful day, and I was driving with the top down through the forest on my way to meet a friend for lunch. I was caught by a moment of smiling gratitude that I was allowed to enjoy this incredible moment. It was not one of ego as I stated earlier, arrogance, or pride, but a thankfulness that I feel blessed to be enjoying an experience that feels so lovely. Now this may sound very Californian, but it is so much more. It is a humbling, awesome sense of joy and luck all at once. Now those who believe that there is only the  literal, logical and tangible factors in life see everything through this outward lens and will want to take issue with this. And in their defense, I am not saying I did not take steps to own my car, live where I live, and cultivate the good friend who I enjoyed lunch with. BUT, the gratitude I feel, comes from a philosophy that I subscribe to:  nothing happens that the Universe does not have a hand in. There are many twists and turns that could have denied me this day, so I honor the fortunate, true gift of my afternoon experience.

Gratitude is so important because it takes each one of us out of our ego, and therefore out of our arrogance culminating in personal toxicity. When we are all about ourselves and see everything as accomplished because of how great we are, we lose true appreciation. This appreciation is about owning something grander than ourselves and gives credence to that something more. Without this awareness and recognition, we lose track of our inner beauty and strengths. We brag, as if we are everything, rather than apart of everything grand. This grandeur is a deep resonance with something beyond ourselves and deeply centered in our selves. If you look closer at your own experiences about this, you will see/feel the difference. When you have boosted about your accomplishments, wasn’t there a hollow and somewhat empty feeling that accompanied this and/or received by others? When you have come from a place of gratitude for your gifts and strengths, wasn’t there a deep, peaceful cuddly joy that sprang  forth from inside you and others? The difference of how the two feel is palpable and distinguishable.

Suffice it to say, that ego is outside in and feels that way; empty. Gratitude is inside out and it feels that way; full. Very different perspectives as to how you experience life, and  ultimately how you experience yourself.

Empathy

September 23, 2018

Empathy is often confused with sympathy. Sympathy is more the ability to share or communicate others feelings. While empathy is the deep ability to understand and communicate someone’s feelings as if they were your own, but not. For me empathy is the deeper of the two as it lets the other know that you hear them and have a connection to the hurt they are in that particular moment experiencing.

I often tell couples who are in crises due to a betrayal that apologies are important but only go so far as to healing the pain. The work we do once the apology has been acknowledged is to have the betrayer express empathy as to what his/her partner may be suffering from the pictures in their mind around the betrayal. As this occurs, it allows two things to be accomplished, one: the injured party hears that there is true understanding of the profound pain suffered by their acting out, and two: if the person who acted out can truly empathize with the hurt caused, the likelihood of their doing it again is diminished. Additionally, when one realizes the extent of the hurt caused to someone you care for/love, you truly get that you don’t ever want to cause them that kind of pain again. From this vantage point true healing can commence if both are committed to it.

When offering empathy, it is a deep, engendering closeness to the person you are offering it to. Sympathy just doesn’t have this intensity or the sincerity for me that empathy does. The depth of wanting to connect and let the other person know that you care about them, while having their backs is connoted much more with empathy. I also believe that the person you care about for whom you are offering empathy feels your concern for them, and therefore feels less alone. It is a wonderful feeling to know that  someone is right there with your emotions and holds them in a non judgemental, unconditionally loving space.

Empathy has the ability to allow one to feel attended to, heard, honored, cared for, appreciated, not alone, closer to, and more deeply connected to by the person offering the empathy. It is a vital part of being in relationship and growing with someone. It is the juice that deepens and strengthens our attachments. Thus bringing to each, a sense of safety and security within their connection.

Friendship

September 14, 2018

All too often, I hear people saying they have tons of friends. This always concerns me because in my world it means they believe that almost anyone they engage with is a friend. I tell my patients that real friends along with your spouse or partner is essential to life and includes typically no more than three to five people. These three to five people include those who: always have your back, hold your confidences, you can say anything to and not be judged, are always there, and have unconditional regard for you. Now this inner sanctum, as I call it, is the essence of true friendships. Others are either casual friends, who like you have similar interests and you can go “do” things with. Things like hiking, talking about current events, going to movies with, and enjoying foods and wines with. All others are strangers.

The inner sanctum, are the core of your existence and are where the riches of life can be found. It is here that you know where you stand, and can get the honest feedback one needs at various times of life. Now often, patients will say it hard to find these quality people. I agree. Even though there are three hundred million people in the U.S. alone, and tough it doesn’t sound so ominous, it still is. Looking for and finding quality though difficult, is always worth the hunt. Most people agree, and when I offer these parameters of what real friendship looks like, most realize they have at least one. Now these people don’t have to live down the block. It certainly helps, but with social media, skype, and travel it is not too hard to stay connected. But the reason three to five true friends is about all you can handle is because with family, and work and all that life asks of us, it is hard to maintain this quality of relationship throughout life with too many more.

One of the real difficulties is for men more than women. Men are socialized to believe that other men are only to be interacted with through competition. The vulnerability that is required to have a real friend as I describe it, is just too dangerous for most. I truly get this and it is this socialization that limits men from having the support they need and deserve. Most men have very little idea how to commence, attend, and maintain such a relationship. And yet it is imperative that men have such supports to go to.

The other misnomer connected to friendships is that people hold a double standard as to how to allow friends to support them. Many will tell me that if a friend needs them of course they would be there. BUT, if they themselves need support, it would just be burdening others, which just wouldn’t be right. I say to them, let me get this straight, if your friend came to you in need you would tell them they are burdening you? And when they do come to you and you are there for them, it doesn’t feel good? The answers are always no to the first question, and yes it feels good to the second. I then say, you are not burdening a true friend as they aren’t burdening you. AND, if you don’t let them be there for you, you are depriving them of that good feeling of being a true friend. This usually gets them thinking.

The inner sanctum of true friends is the richness of life. It allows us to feel truly connected and loved. This is an important aspect of being human and relating to others without feeling like you live in some kind of dark hole or abyss. When people are depressed or even suicidal (see my blog about Why Suicide?) it is more because of a lack of this connection.

Compassion

September 4, 2018

Compassion is the third companion to truth and humility, which I have blogged about. These three musketeers are the antitheses to the ego. They reduce the ego due to their deep humanity and lack of esteem triggers that so often get us into trouble.

Compassion is the heartfelt entity that feels deeply for others, while understanding and relating on a truly human level. When we are compassionate we step back from judgment and shame. We don’t look with the comparing eyes of the need to one up someone or hurt them for our own self interest. Rather, we step into our hearts where caring, concern, pathos, and empathy live. It is from here that we relate to another though communicating nothing but the deep felt interest of sincere love. It is from here that our very essence is felt and offered, and received in a similar manner due to its honest resonance.

Compassion in its true form sees the ever present weight of the world. Walking compassionately on your way to anywhere, one feels the sadness or the hurt that so many are inflicted with. You can feel it in the energetic field around you and in that you can’t heal every wound you come across, you must just bless it and move on. Praying that the Universe will allow those in pain to find healing. Those who empath this worldly hurt, can get hurt themselves by absorbing like osmosis the toxic energy they experience. Needless to say, this is very unhealthy and does nothing to solve the issues of those who pass by. Again, that is why you must offer them God’s speed and move on.

Compassion is a state of grace that not only can be held for others, but for ourselves as well. I tell those I work with, that self compassion is the way to move beyond self sabotage. That the learned personality believes it is normal to denigrate oneself and incite inner wounds. To move away from this, we must evoke self compassion. We must engender a new found mindfulness in which we begin to let ourself off that learned hook of shame and judgment. As we develop this habit of self compassion, we can get out of our way, and allow our authentic and more empowered self to shine.

As we learn to hold self compassion for our humanness, we begin to expand our ability to hold compassion for others. It does not mean we heal all that is wrong in and around us, but it does allow us to walk with an open and caring heart. This perspective will be felt by others, and will add to the heartfeltness in the world we walk in.

Truth

August 26, 2018

Now here is an interesting concept that seems to be bantered around quite a bit lately: What is Truth? The literal truth is an easy one to identify. Something that is, is. If there is a statistic, a statement on record, a logistic that occurred, a promise in writing or witnessed, or a known fact that is not open to dispute is truth.

However, there is another form of truth that is what delves in another realm that is for me significantly more important. From a spiritual or authentic self perspective, truth takes on a whole other meaning. In the realm of the divine there is our inner authentic nature of what is. It does not come from ego where one attempts to get over on others or defend ourselves from threats to our feet of clay or insecurities. This truth resonates at a deep spiritual place of what is so for us, about us. It comes from how we walk in the world true to self without concern for other’s interpretation or attack. Our truth is how we ultimately roll in the world consistent to an inner nature that has no wiggle room for dis-self-honesty. We know what is so for us about our walk in the world while learning our lessons to move further along our path of inner enlightenment. Therefore, we don’t need anyone to tell us we are in sinc with self or not. We immediately feel the ping of dishonesty betraying our essence or the resonance of truth. This lack of truth is what sets off the bad karma we hear about because it is a betrayal of self. Thus the Universe feels this vibration through the quantum field and shutters as we come from a place of not.

The process of this “walk” is one of trial and error along with years of work. It is something that starts when you choose to walk of path of the spiritual warrior and continues until we exit this life. It is not one of ease or lacking in difficulty. It is a path of working on self at the deepest level and turning inward. It is the biblical story of the prodigal son who gets caught up in the superficial pursuit of external validation and acceptance until he turns toward the “father within” God. From this point on, the focus is internal and the truth lies within the pursuit of authentic self. Though this path is difficult as described in the book by Dan Milliman in the Way of the Peaceful Warrior, the rewards of owning self are glorious. As we step into the glorious place of the divine, we are vulnerable and empowered in a manner that opens us to what we want more of and don’t. Thus, we know the enhancing and compassionate world we want around us and the shame, guilt, and judgment that we don’t. From this place of authentic self, we walk in truth as to what feeds our soul and gives us the joy of self that offers peace and contentment. We are clear in this truth and speak it fluently without reservation. There is again, no wiggle room or lack of interpreting what gives to us, and what is toxic and erodes us.

Shakespeare said it well, To Thine Own Self Be True. And if you embrace this life path, nothing else needs to be pursued or said.