Curing Depression, Anxiety and Fear

Depression, anxiety, and fear are symptoms not causes. So when I read today that recently compiled statistics show that “one in 10 distressed Americans in 2014 did not have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or mental health counselor” I understood the point… but think it overshot the mark.

We have a tendency to treat symptoms not causes. I think its because as awful as symptoms can be they usually arise from causes we’d rather not confront. Whether it’s a lesion on our body or our psyche, we instinctively know that it will take less effort, and require less honesty and introspection, to treat the symptom rather than the cause.

The article went on to say each of these stress related conditions has escalated since the 2008 financial crisis. That the economic hit people took, the careers that were eviscerated overnight, the enduring personal debts that accrued due to loss of income have all been contributing factors. Well, yes.  And so it’s why I understand the concern for inadequate health insurance to address the symptoms, because psychiatrists and mental health counselors treat symptoms.

Only the individual can treat causes, and treating causes requires courage and honesty rather than government assistance or health insurance.

Of course the financial crisis of 2008 was hard on everyone (well, nearly everyone except those on the inside who are still profiting from their foreknowledge and connections) but even the near collapse was a symptom of a deeper cause. It was a symptom of a culture where values and principles have been discarded in favor of materialism and technology.

If you want to treat the cause of depression, anxiety and fear you have to look at the quality of your life, the choices you make, the things to which you aspire, the love in your heart for yourself and others. You have to put those you love before the things you want. You have to find gratitude in everything you have…not mourn or resent that which eludes you.

We went way off track decades ago. It began in the 1960’s in an innocent enough way. It began with the rising phoenix of individualism, no better exemplified that by four, hot-looking musicians from Britain with outrageously long hair and lyrics that dared speak truth about life as they saw it.  It was an exhilarating time when anything went and love, or at least sex, was a free-for-all.

Much could have come from that innocence but what, in fact, followed were decades of ever increasing self-absorption, self-indulgence and separation. We became a culture that wanted everything bigger, better, faster.

The millennials, who think they have their priorities on straight and are opting out of the “bigger” are still enslaved to the better and the faster. That is because they were raised by technology not human hands and hearts. In the world of technology, newer and faster are the “un-status” status symbols. Every generation has them…the seductions of the material world. It’s just that in each generation they are cloaked somewhat differently.

An appreciation for the material is not a sin. We live in physical world with things of beauty all around. Some are creations of God and some are creations on mankind. Both are here for our enjoyment not our enslavement.

I know firsthand about materialism and depression, anxiety and fear. I was raised with money. My parents had lots and, therefore, I had lots of things that were the status symbols of my generation. Three corvettes before the age of 20 paints an accurate picture. I was also riddled with depression, anxiety and fear. So, between the ages of 20 and 30, I saw a psychiatrist and a couple of mental health counselors. Its why I feel the authority to write about symptoms and causes.

I had stomach problems (symptom) that led to intestinal surgery at age 16.  At age 23, I was very depressed (symptom) so Triavil was prescribed. I used those to try to commit suicide (symptom). I was married and divorced in 11 months (symptom) followed by a series of unsuccessful relationships (symptom). I developed fibromyalgia (symptom) in my 30’s and struggled with it for almost two decades until I had enough of symptoms, their treatments and their cures.

I decided to address the cause, which turns out to be a full time job of being honest with myself and others, holding myself accountable for my actions, finding a connection to God, birthing my creativity and generally living life as an adult with principles and values that I live by not just espouse.

I have come to believe that most physical and psychological illnesses are the result of a spiritual imbalance. A soul at odds with higher laws. So, looking to government or the medical community often turns out to be an excuse for not looking within and up. I think we could cure a lot of our nation’s ailments by a willingness to look into the causes of our individual discontent and righting those aspects of ourselves that have gone belly up.              Carole

MOAB Then and Now

Today the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat. It was dropped in Afghanistan on the caves used by ISIS affiliate Khorasan to attack U.S. troops. The bomb is a GBU-43 named “Massive Ordinance Air Bomb, or MOAB. Am I the only one who was riveted by that acronym?

Moab is a name I am very familiar with since it is on the mountain Nebo, in the Land of Moab, that Moses gazed upon the Promised Land and died without ever having entered it. Why? Because Moses disobeyed God’s direction.  During the Exodus, while the Israelites were wandering in the desert on their way to the Land of Canaan, God instructed Moses to “speak to” the rock so that water could be brought forth to show the people that God would provide for them. Moses “struck” the rock instead and the water poured out.  The consequence of Moses having disobeyed God was that Moses would bring the Israelites to the land but never enter it himself. He died there.

What was so terrible? So he struck it instead of speaking to it. Wasn’t the purpose to get the water out to show God’s willingness to provide? Well, no. The purpose was to be humble, witness faith and be an example of patience with a doubting people. Moses brought forth the water in anger. Faith and patience know not anger. Then, to add insult to injury, he took credit for the miracle!

I don’t want to get all religious on you here. I write about energy not theology. From that perspective, different energies have different frequencies and effect different ends. The type of energy you use has a direct impact on the end you affect…on the outcome.

I remember what a teacher once told me when I was taking a class in Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. He said, “Of course you have to discipline your child. And sometimes it’s necessary to appear to be stern or even angry. That is fine as long as you are angry in appearance only, not in your heart. When you seem angry to that child, you must be holding love in your heart.”

It’s a nuanced approach but I get it. What originate from love can only create good. What originates from anger can only create more anger. Speaking to the rock would have done it without anger. When Moses struck that rock he was angry. So what began in anger ended poorly…for him.

We live in troubled times and, too often, we think we have all the answers. In our hubris, we act precipitously and take credit for the outcome, conveniently forgetting that there is a higher power that provides us with the basics of how we are to live our lives and who assures victory.  Have faith and be love. Its simple. We are still allowed to defend ourselves, or the oppressed, but we must do so with an awareness and circumspection of what is in our hearts. We must understand our connection to all that is. If evil was set back today, and good comes of it, let us understand that it was divine intervention that succeeded not egoic politicians.

So what’s the connection between Moab and MOAB?  I sure hope those pilots had love in their hearts when they dropped that thing.                     Carole

The Untold Story of United Airlines Brutality

The story of what happened on United Airlines has been about the violence and brutality inflicted upon a passenger. That story is not nearly as troubling as the one no one is writing about. What happened on that flight was how the German government, led by Adolph Hitler, was able to kill twelve million people. What happened on that flight was cowardice in the face of abuse of power.

None of us know what we will do in an emergency or life threatening situation until we are there. So it’s easy to say what we would have done had we been there. Hindsight is not only 20/20…it’s also safe. What can be said is that if you know what you believe in, and you know what is worth facing consequences for, then your action in such unanticipated moments will be motivated not by what is expedient or beneficial to you, but rather by your guiding principle.

Everyone on that flight knew that was happening was wrong. I don’t care what United’s Rule 25 says or what its CEO says in justifying the assault and battery that occurred. Nor do I care a whit about United employees who “needed to get where they had to go.” Everyone knows that what happened was wrong. It was the application of brute force with total disregard and disrespect for another human being. It must have been horrifying to watch right before your very eyes. Yet no one present did anything about it.

Why?

We say gold is a rare commodity and difficult to mine but courage is much harder to find. It was totally lacking on that flight. Three hundred people watched, horrified, and did nothing about it. What could they have done? Well, if they weren’t trying to make certain that they weren’t next, and they had a principle of which they were certain, they could have stood and said, “We’re all leaving this plane. You just bloodied a passenger because he was resisting disembarking. Now you can have the whole aircraft for non-paying United employees because we’re getting off and never flying United again.”

That’s what courage looks and sounds like. But instead, what happened on the flight was precisely what German Lutheran Pastor Martin Neimoller wrote about:

“First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out…

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out…

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out…

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me….and there was no one left to speak for me.”

He was one Asian man, minding his own business, sitting in a seat he had paid for, harming no one. His history and his background are irrelevant. Unless, of course, you are looking for a reason to justify or excuse, in your own mind, why what was done to him was not so bad.

And those people present on that plane? Well, it was happening but not to them. It wasn’t their seat, it wasn’t their problem. Best to not draw attention to one’s self and perhaps be the next victim.

What breeds victims is an unwillingness to stand in the face of evil. Whether it is a bully in a school yard, an abusive spouse, a rogue cop, ISIS, or a corporate policy that justifies violence…the failure to refuse to tolerate what we know is wrong is the slippery slope to enslavement.

It is Passover. It is a holiday that exists to remind us that we are only enslaved to others when we tolerate indignity and deny the laws of God in so doing. Yes, it takes courage to walk into the unknown and risk the safety of what is. But when what is robs you of your humanity then the unknown should be welcomed and the risk worth taking.

On Palm Sunday 50 Coptic Christians were killed in a suicide bombing in Alexandria, Egypt.  First they came for the passenger and we did nothing…                           Carole

 

In Support of Lone Wolves

Britain has now experienced what Israelis have been living with for years…a radicalized individual who, consciously and with mal-intent, sets out to murder as many people as possible with a vehicle and a few kitchen knives. One of the murdered was Kurt Cochran, an American and member of the Church of Latter Day Saints who was on the last day of the trip of a lifetime with his wife, Melissa, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

We call these radical terrorists “lone wolves.” I simply cannot understand why.

I understand the radicalization. What I cannot comprehend is why we liken them to wolves, lone or otherwise. Wolves are pack animals that contribute significantly to the ecosystem in which they live by having a positive, ripple effect upon other animal populations as well as plant life.  The remainder of their prey’s carcass provides vital nutrients for the soil upon which it lays.

Wolves kill for survival not indiscriminately, wantonly, or for the sheer joy of it, unlike radicalized Islamic terrorists.

More specifically, the lone wolf who is driven from the pack has been sent away, usually by a breeding  male, or for territorial reasons.  To the contrary, the radicalized Islamic terrorist is very much a part of the pack. He or she is philosophically bonded to the murderous and hate-filled mind set of all radicalized Islamic terrorists.  And they kill not for individual survival.  In fact, their barbaric sprees almost always end in their own annihilation.

Unlike even the lone wolf, they have no sense of survival.

So it always bothers me when we reference animals to describe behavior that is barbaric, inhuman and totally lacking in an inherent sense of survival of their particular species. In fact, it’s an insult to wolves specifically, and animals generally, to call Islamic terrorists lone wolves.

They are simply humans who have so ingested and embraced hate as a form of perverse nourishment, and who so willingly believe the promise of a manipulative fantasy about reward for their barbaric and self-destructive behavior, that they have disconnected themselves from rational human thought as well as the natural instinctive behavior of animals.

Let’s give the actual lone wolves back the respect they are due.  Then, let’s call radical Islamists what they are due. Barbarians.

It’s hard to be Above The Fray on this one. I keep thinking about Melissa Cochran who survived the attack. I guess my usually higher ground perspective, in this post, is on behalf of the wolves.

Carole

 

 

The Pope and Polarization

Polarization is not a political problem.  It is a human one.

As this nation turns into something just short of “armed camps” against one another… black vs. white; rich vs poor; left vs. right; Republican vs. Democrat; Trump vs. #NeverTrump; straight vs. LGBT etc., there is its global counterpart. Russia vs. the U.S.; Democracy vs Socialism; Muslim vs. Christian and now, the old canard and ultimate absurdity…the New Testament vs the Old Testament (the Torah).

In Italy, there is growing concern with the Pope’s use of verbiage and catch phrases that harken back to a time that preceded the progress made in closing the gap between Christianity and its predecessor, Judaism.

Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, the former chief rabbi of Milan, has written an open letter to the Pope expressing what he and many others have been feeling about statements by the Pope.

“The biblical dichotomy between Old and New Testaments, Laras argues, signals “the resumption of the old polarization between the morality and theology of the Hebrew Bible and of Pharisaism, and Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels.”

The rabbi also underscored the Church’s “embracing of Islam, which is all the stronger as the Christian side is more critical toward Judaism, now including even the Bible and biblical theology.” He also identified an undercurrent “of resentment, intolerance, and annoyance on the Christian side toward Judaism.”

How absurd it is that religious belief and the institutions it has spawned, should become the disseminators of the disease of polarization. Polarization spawns fear of the “other” and it is this fear which allows the few to remain in control by pledging to dominate, control or eradicate the opposing force.

Power by the few over the many is as old as recorded human history. And for all that time there has been a yearning by individuals to throw off the yoke of such control and live as we were created to live: sovereign and autonomous.

Yet, when so many aspects of our global persona are at figurative and literal war with one another, we have lost our inherent sense of oneness and succumbed to the manipulators of fear. Our misperception is what enables them to continue their control.

Only with the realization that whether it be by governmental or religious institutions, no human being was ever created to be held captive by or subservient to another…will we be set free. Only by refusing to be manipulated into intolerance of others to the point that their mere existence becomes the basis for our fears and the justification for our hatreds…will our eyes be opened to truth of oneness.

I respect the right of anyone to choose a path to God other than the one I choose. What I do not respect are religious leaders who use their bully pulpits to spread a political or biased agenda that moves people in the direction of slavery to antiquated thinking.

There are no secrets to power. There is only each individual’s awakening to the truth of free will, which is much more than a religious precept. It is the right of every human being to think for themselves and, by so doing, create a world where creativity trumps control and where polarization is an extinct concept replaced with tolerance.

There is but one unifying principle and one testament:  Love.

Carole

Hate To The Left and Right of Us

I’ve never before re-posted a blog. But what follows is my post prior to the election of Donald Trump. It pains me to say it is more relevant since his election than before it. (Originally posted September 23, 2016).

My co-blogger, Steve Clark, texted me a link earlier today with the following comment: “This is what passes for journalism!” So, naturally, I had to click through.

love-and-hate

Where I landed was at GQ online and an article by, correspondent and author, Drew Magary titled, “If You Vote For Trump, Then Screw You.”  Creative and engrossing title, don’t you think?  Yeah, me neither. Not so much. But, in all fairness, and since I respect Steve, I read the article. So I fully understand Steve’s incredulity.

It’s an adolescent, vulgar, profanity-laced rant by…well, an adolescent. I’d say more about the “correspondent” but that sentence pretty much sums up space occupied by nine paragraphs of filth and unrestrained emotional immaturity. I’d much rather write about how Magary’s rant is symptomatic of something much larger.

We are a nation divided and that’s not a bad thing. From true diversity of thought comes new ideas. When it comes to problem solving, difference is the petri dish of creativity. The catch is that each side of the divide has to honor the differences of the other so that they can communicate and, hopefully, zero in on the merits of each others’ arguments. Name calling, accusation, disrespect, hyperbole…these are impediments to problem solving. All they do is cause the object of their slings and arrows to defend positions rather than remain open and receptive to possible solutions.

The real harm of the verbal filth spewed by Magary in his self-indulgent tirade is not done to Donald Trump. To give him credit for his honesty (evidenced by the article’s title) Magary makes his intention pretty clear. His hatred is directed at anyone who sees merit in the candidate or who would vote for him. So, Magary hates his fellow Americans who disagree with his particular political preference.

Where does such intolerance and narrowness of thought leave us?

If we take the Magary approach, close to half the country needs to hate the other half. To me, this is a bit like using your left arm to beat up your right arm if you have an irritation. While it may, in the moment, address a superficial and temporary annoyance, in the long run (and we need to think about the long run) you will have done serious damage to a part of you that needs to be functional and cooperative.

You see, there is only one of us. Yes, you read that correctly, There is only one of us. We are all branches on that one tree called humanity. It serves no one, and nothing, for us to treat one another as if harming someone else never comes back to harm us.  Hatred, whether its the fuel for Islamic terror or fuel for a so-called “correspondent”… is still hatred.  Hatred is a cancer of the soul and does as much damage,  perhaps more, to the host than it does to its intended object.

After all, there are only two emotions. Love and fear. Every negative emotion, including hate, is a derivative of fear. So in the end, the Drew Magarys of the world are afraid. Of what, I don’t know. But so much hate is really so much fear.

So, I would recommend that Drew Magary re-think what’s eating at him ( literally I might add) and perhaps understand that there are people out here who seriously disagree with him but who love him all the same.

The Answer To Suffering

A farmer and a blue collar worker were in line to vote last Tuesday. Someone overheard their conversation in which both were sharing that they had not had a good year financially since 2000. That’s 16 years. They were suffering and they were voting for Trump.

hope

I know a lot about suffering. It’s the same whether it’s an individual or the collective consciousness of a nation.  My knowledge and understanding comes from years of suffering depression which culminated in an attempted suicide at age 24. Individuals, like nations, who misplace hope and choose suicide as an option, don’t really want to die. Notice I said, “misplace” hope. Hope is never gone…but when suffering is prolonged enough and there seems no cure for its cause and no end in sight, hope gets obscured by the pain. And when the pain is bad enough, rational thought is cast aside for any solution, regardless of how irrational or self-destructive.

A person may choose suicide as a seemingly rational end to their suffering. But what does a nation filled with people who have misplaced hope do?

The seeds of national suicide were sprouting in 2008. Barack Obama, and the Democrats recognized this and so, knowing the nation was suffering, offered “Hope and Change”. They ignited the flame of hope that the nation was in need of and with that held out the promise of an end to the early stages of suffering. But the promise was empty and as time passed, the pain and suffering grew more intense.  With that increased pain, came a decreased optimism…hope…that there was a “cure” or light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, from 2008 until now, that light has been progressively (no pun intended) harder and harder to see.

Pain and suffering increased over the past eight years to the point that hope was obscured and with it rational thought.  What resulted was a populace who would, in its desperation, settle for giving the most powerful position in its nation to either a greedy thief or an egomaniacal illusionist. We chose the illusionist.

That is how a nation commits suicide.

My experience of attempted suicide taught me an invaluable lesson. It’s the certainty that hope always exists; it’s just up to us to have the patience and determination find it. Donald Trump will not save us for he was chosen in a period of national darkness. Whether he is well intentioned or not, there are those around him who recognized our perilous time of suffering and glammed on for the ride and for their own agendas, not for the national best interest.

When I was in the emergency room, I had an out of body experience. As they were pumping the drugs out of me, I was up in the corner of the room, looking down at what they were doing, and thinking, “Why don’t they let that body go?” At which point I “felt” a distant voice say, “You have to go back, Carole, you have work to do.”

Our nation is on that table. We are looking at it and wanting the suffering to stop and for the pain to go away. There are no guarantees. But this I know.

Hope exists if we are patient and determined to be the best we can be. No one will save us but for ourselves. Giving it over to someone else is an act of suicide. Its up to us to demand of ourselves personal accountability. Its up to us to demand of our government accountability to the founding principles. So, fellow citizens, we have to go back. There is work to do.

Carole Gold

 

Cultural Suicide

You can build the wall and still fail to protect the country.Self-destructhThere are two kinds of threat: external and internal.  If we build the wall, and monitor it properly, we can go a long way toward addressing the external threat. The internal threat is quite another matter. It’s less apparent, more difficult to counter and much more dangerous.

Terrorists, or anyone else, seeking to do physical harm by crossing our borders unimpeded can do significant damage. Such damage can draw upon our physical and financial resources, from minor to catastrophic levels, in our recovery efforts. Disaster resulting from terror draws upon our collective will and determination in order not to be brought down by harbingers of hate. But, as with 9/11, we have been there. Our national resolve to repair physical destruction and surmount national grief has been tested and proven fit for the challenge.

But what about threats from within? On this front,I have far less confidence that we will awaken in time or that we can survive.

For decades, our children have been educated by Progressive, history-altering academics both in grade schools and universities. They have been taught a selective and self-serving view of America’s contribution and role in the world. Our “contribution” has been narrowed to one of exploitation. Our “role” has been defined as a global oppressor. We have inflicted upon two generations a conscience of guilt and shame for being American. We have inflicted upon one generation a conscience of guilt and shame for being white.

Nations, like individuals, err. Even the best of us stumble and fall. Even the best of us have moments in our lives, if given the chance, we would seize to do over differently. This is life. This is learning. Mistakes are the fertile ground upon which we grow better and, hopefully, wiser. Nations are no exception.

Yes, there have been grave errors committed in the name of manifest destiny (decimation of Native Americans), commerce (slavery) and fear (Japanese internment camps). But this same fallible nation that committed these grave errors is also the most charitable and giving nation in the world. In 2012, the U.S. gave $30B in developmental (i.e. not peace-keeping or anti-terrorism) public aid. The United States is among the first, if not the first, to send monetary and medical aid to victims of natural disasters.

We are a good and caring people. However, even good people who are daily subjected to falsehoods can be brainwashed into believing what is not true. So, by way of a carefully planned, thoroughly executed Progressive political agenda that has been slowly and systematically implemented since the Woodrow Wilson presidency, our self-image and our self-confidence have been eroded and all but destroyed.

Yet, there is still another internal threat as deadly as the Progressive agenda. It is the insidious melding of foreign cultures that have little in common with our own.  I am not talking about immigrants who come to the United States and retain their own religious and cultural identities within their own homes, communities and spiritual institutions. I am talking about immigrants who seek to impose upon America their home country’s culture with the goal of substituting it for that which is uniquely American.

In the fit of mental illness we call political correctness, there is no difference between the people of, let’s say Turkey and the people of the United States. We all want peace. We all have concern for the future. We all seek a better quality of life. We all want the best for our children.

Well, maybe not so much the children.

This week, the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled to annul a provision that punishes all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as sexual abuse. That’s right. Now, if you are 12 years old in Turkey, you can be said to give consent to having sex… say…with a 60-year -old man (apparently even if you were raped and the offender says you consented!).

In case you haven’t noticed, we in the United States have nothing in common with a Court, let alone a culture, that would make such a law. This is anathema to us. Yet the speech police and the PC police here in the U.S. are so busy hurrying to market the “oneness of Bernie Sander’s-like kumbaya” that they step over the obvious to stand firmly upon the absurd.

We have nothing in common with nations, governments or cultures that abuse children, kill homosexuals, torture animals, behead for sport, cut off hands for stealing or enslave women, to name a few… all in the name of God.

So, as we delay securing our physical border, continue to misinform our young, and remain blind to the insidious invasion of our culture by foreign adversaries who seek our destruction, we remain complicit in that destruction.

Oh, and making believe it is not so… only hastens our demise.

Carole

Focus on The Process

“There are no winners here. The point of Aikido is to train and focus on the process of getting better.”

Trust The ProcessIt took me about five years to learn this lesson from my friend, Brian, who helped me with my training. It was a hard concept for me to grasp. The sports I had formerly played were based upon a performance score that would determine the winners and the losers.

With Aikido, I trained religiously for years, going every day, hardly ever missing a practice.  I realized that the only way to get good at the art was through consistency.  It was doubly hard for me because there were very few tests, and very little feedback.

I sucked at the sport for years! It was only through grit and perseverance that I finally attained a high level of mastery by focusing on one thing:  trying to get better every day. By the time I tested for my black belt, it wasn’t really a test at all. I had been doing Aikido so long –  with so much consistency –  that the results took care of themselves.

While I didn’t learn this invaluable lesson until I was in my mid-thirties, I am able to pass this knowledge and training on to my kids. Three of my daughters now play competitive soccer and they train every day. Come rain or shine… they put their time in on the ball to improve.

Understanding mastery takes a long time and so I rarely get mad at the outcome of their games. As long as the effort is there, and they are learning, I know that eventually they will reach their potential. My goal for them is not to be the best soccer player in the world but rather the best soccer player that they can possibly be.

Rick Barry, the former basketball player for the Golden State Warriors, used to shoot the ball underhanded at the free throw line. He was mocked his entire career for shooting in this manner.  His method was seen as too feminine and dainty for the rough and tumble world of the N.B.A.  Yet, Barry became a Hall of Fame player and retired with the highest free throw percentage ever! When he retired, he acknowledged that he was not the best basketball player ever but shooting free throws in this manner helped him become the best basketball player that he could ever be. For him, that was enough.

Contrast that with his peer, Wilt Chamberlain, who was considered the best basketball player of his generation. Chamberlain was a terrible free throw shooter. Even after being coached by Rick Barry and using his technique to improve his shoot, Chamberlain always reverted back to shooting overhand with the same disastrous results. The reason? He did not want to be seen as shooting in a sissy manner. When asked about Chamberlain, Rick Barry said “Although he was a better basketball player than me, Wilt was never the best basketball player he could have been, and for that he will have to live with that gnawing feeling that he came up short.” ( The insights from the Rick Barry story come from this podcast by Malcolm Gladwell)

Youth sports today are indescribably competitive and getting more so for younger and younger children all the time.  The need to win is so great by parents that the events become tortuous.  Just a few weeks ago, I witnessed an indoor soccer game where the parents came close to blows over the fouls the kids were committing. The behavior of the parents was truly sickening. Mind you, the players were eight year old girls!  It was sickening to be a witness to such twisted values.

On other occasions, I have had parents tell me that my daughters were not good enough or lacked certain skills. It seems most parents have forgotten that kids make mistakes and, in order to get better, they need to make these mistakes.  While its never easy, or desirable, to have other parents criticize my kids, for me its more important that they develop the core discipline that they will then be able to replicate in other areas…on and off the field.

In the seminal book, The Inner Game of Tennis, by Timothy Gallwey , Tim  walked away from his professional tennis career…get this… to focus on becoming a tennis player. He stopped playing competitive tennis and just focused on becoming a better player. What he realized was that his need to win short-circuited his ability to actually win.  Seeing everything through the lens of “winning” or “losing points” actually impeded his growth as a tennis player.

Once he jettisoned his need to win and focused instead on the outcome of his shots, adjusting accordingly without judgement, his tennis game took off.  He became a much better player.  He came to realize that by solely focusing on winning you actually lose more.

Gallwey’s book on peak performance is considered required reading for many professional sports teams. The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks actually make all players read his book to improve performance.

Bill Walsh, the legendary coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was another coach who believed winning was secondary to the process. Walsh, who guided his team to four Super Bowl wins, was almost fired after his first two seasons because of his record: 8 wins / 24 losses.  In his book, he tells the story of how, in the beginning of his career, it got so bad  that one of his assistant coaches complained to the owner that Walsh did not care about winning because he never talked to the team about it.  But Walsh did care about winning. He knew the results were secondary. Before you can win, you have to do things in the right manner that eventually leads to winning. The foundation has to be built first before you can pile up the wins.  The wins are a result of the foundation. It doesn’t work in reverse.

For example, I am fluent in Spanish. However, every day I practice to improve my fluency. There are no guarantees in life, but doings things in the “right way” while staying committed to the process has greatly increases my chances of success in life. In my personal journey thus far, having experienced the highs and lows of life, it is the process that has repeatedly saved me.

Everyone’s process is different; but, for me, getting better every day in every way is the core of my daily practice.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

Hope For Veterans

The mind can be friend or foe. For twenty Vets a day, it has become their foe. That’s how many U.S. Veterans per day are committing suicide.

Hope2

I want to address this incomprehensible fact but do so with trepidation and humility as I have never served in the military and, as such, am acutely aware that my understanding of the problem is limited. I tread lightly upon this topic. However, in my early twenties I tried to commit suicide and so bring a personal, if limited, perspective to what drives a Veteran to conclude that taking their own life is a reasonable solution to their suffering.

In fact, suicide is not motivated by reasonableness but rather by misplaced hope and a lack of forgiveness.

For every individual, suffering has its limits. Be it mental, physical, psychological or emotional, pain can reach the intolerable. When it does, without hope that the suffering can end, or at least diminish, a perverse form of reason takes hold and death seems a “logical” even “desirable” option because death holds out the promise of an end to pain. In fact, this conclusion is neither logical nor reasonable but is driven, in the moment of choice, by the void created when one misplaces hope.

Hope holds the promise of a new and better tomorrow. Hope holds the promise of a return to happiness. Hope holds the promise of a life worth living. In its absence, despair fills the void and with it comes the illusion of never-ending suffering. Although it was decades ago, I remember that moment of choice as if it were yesterday. The pain is so intolerable and death so seemingly pain-free, that there can actually be a perverse euphoria in the decision to end one’s own life.

The sights and sounds of war, while beyond my personal experience, are also often beyond the mind’s ability to integrate and make peace with their after effects. I was married to a Vietnam Vet. My current business associate is a Marine Vet who served in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War.  My experience is that some Vets cope better than others, but all are scarred.  While some develop mechanisms that permit them to return to various levels of functionality in their day-to-day lives, I suspect that those who are unable to do so both misplace hope and find it impossible to forgive themselves for having participated in what the mind cannot accept.

When I look back at my attempted suicide, understanding how I had misplaced hope came relatively easily after I survived the attempt and began to live my life in a more positive direction. However, understanding the importance that forgiveness needed to play in my healing took much, much longer.

I truly believe that with renewed heart and a commitment to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday or today, God forgives us everything. It is we who do not forgive ourselves. And in not forgiving ourselves, we suffer again and again each time we replay who we were or what we did.  Living in the past, rather than in the possibility of the moment, is too often repetitive, self-inflicted punishment that adds to our pain.

While we cannot go back and change the past, it is the present that is malleable. It is the present that holds the opportunity to be the best we can be. It is the present in which we can affect the past by taking the knowledge, and even the pain, of our experiences and using the wisdom gained to take action in ways that heal the wounds of that past and the actions that caused them.  So, yes, hope and forgiveness are partners in overcoming despair and judgement.

If you know a Vet, or are one, I would gift this message: You are more than what you have done. You have within you, still, a spark of hope and the will to let go of the past by forgiving yourself. Dedicate today to doing one kind thing, however small, for yourself and for one other person and let the healing begin. You have never stopped being a child of God. You have only temporarily misplaced the knowing that all is forgiven and, because of that, all is still possible.

 

Carole