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The official blog of familyWORKZ™

May 26, 2009


Filed under: divorce,Individual — admin @ 6:25 am

When life gets complicated, fills with tension, and a problem pushes you to the brink, you’re entitled to be confused; you’re entitled to feel guilty; you’re entitled to be scared; you’re entitled to want to stop hurting; you’re entitled to want to escape; you’re entitled to hope things don’t get worse; you’re also entitled to want the best for yourself. 

Entitlements are essentially those things that make us uniquely but not fully human. Adding one more dimension to this existential puzzle completes the picture of our humanity, taking our capacity to become a better version of ourselves to a new level – you’re also entitled to think how your entitlements impact others.

May 21, 2009

Reopening the Black Box

Filed under: Individual — Tags: — admin @ 11:04 pm

Much has been written about the mind – the “thing” inside of permits us to become aware of ourselves, our situation, and our future. In this way, it is our mind that permits self-consciousness and our ability to “know.” While scholarship has grown immensely over the years about brain functioning and other matters of the mind, much remains unknown or uncertain about the mind and its operation. Perhaps this is why the mind is often referred to as “the black box.”  

Some people (behaviorists) focus on what happens in the external or public world and ignore, even discredit, what is happening in the internal or private world of our mind. In this way, the black box is not directly addressed and remains closed. Yet, for others, keeping the lid closed on the black box is unthinkable, even absurd.

If the black box is what allows us to know about the world, our self, and, most uniquely, our place in the world, then our willingness to reopen the black box is what encourages self-discovery. It is this reopening that gives to us a uniquely human capacity to recognize our inner conflicts and understand what makes us unique and others tick. By opening the black box at the right time through contemplation, self-reflection, and the request of feedback, our ability to grow and develop is accelerated. Stated another way, keeping the lid on the black box, which is equivalent to suppressing self-discovery, is equivalent to endorsing the continuation of self-deception.

If we all lie to ourselves at one time or another (self-deception), it is through learning how to speak our deeper, more aware, less denying truth that stimulates self-growth and strengthens personal development. In this way, learning and growing up is best accomplished by reopening the black box the right amount at the right time in the presence of the right person for the right reason.

May 11, 2009

Solid Air – The Crux of Anxiety

Filed under: Individual — Tags: — admin @ 1:47 am

Anxiety is the brain’s response to perceived danger. What makes anxiety so difficult to understand, let alone control, is that it comes alive due to a unique interplay of biology and biography.

The biology of anxiety becomes apparent when a situation becomes uncertain or unpredictable. In such cases, the body responds by preparing for one of two things – fight or flight. The lack of choice is made possible by the evolved neurobiology of our brains. When threatened, the body must be prepared to take action. Anxiety, accordingly, is one of the body’s best friend and trusted ally. Yet, to the person experiencing the anxiety, the shortness of breath, palms sweating or heart beating faster feels anything but friendly. The shortness of breath, in particular, can be felt as being plain scary. It is as if the very air we breath becomes more dense, thicker, almost unbreathable – solid air. But make no mistake about it, anxiety is our body’s “solution” to being threatened.

The biography of anxiety makes the condition tricky to resolve. That is, what is perceived as threatening becomes reality by virtue of our learning history. In this way, the object of our anxiety is often blow out of proportion due to what we have been taught to be scary. When something is perceived as being dangerous, our minds disconnect from the relational world and enter into a private world comprised of one. It is in this state of aloneness or oneness that often amplifies the sense of fear into fright. For example, imagine that while walking along a trail in the woods you come across a very special area filled with stingerless bees. Since you have only encountered bees with stingers, you cannot and do not imagine that these trail bees are without stingers. Consequently, based on your learning history, you react according to your history. In this situation, it is likely the very sound of “bzzzz” will send you fleeing down the trail at record speed. Yet, if your mind could no what it does not know (that these bees do NOT have stingers), then your response would be very different. In this way, the privatization of anxiety sends the person’s mind into a state of solitary confinement – we become trapped in our mind. When enforced or protracted, this type of solitude becomes unbearable. Biographically speaking, when the freedom to be ourselves is stolen, we collapse into a sense of involuntary privacy and are left holding all the cards with no one to share the load (solitaire = solid air).

The crux to managing anxiety involves learning how to balance control (breathing) and connection (belonging).

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