Keeping It Positive During the Holidays
When we have less sunlight, mood is often compromised. On top of that, there are expectations that holidays should be filled with joy and good cheer. What happens when people are missing from our get-together, either because they are out-of-town, fighting to defend freedom, ill in a hospital bed, estranged, or recently passed on? How can we stay positive?
Food needs to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, conversations need to be gentle, and the approach we take to all should be non-threatening. If we are over-sensitive, we need to try to be aware of the vibration we excuse and own in. To listen in on a discussion dealing with this issue, click here. Wishing you and yours healing, joy and a wonderful, healthy holiday season and beyond. ~Dr. Iankowitz
Familiar Change-of-Season Cold/Flu?
If you want to stay healthy this winter, click here to break the pattern.
Healing Through Journaling is a technique used to help balance mind, body & spirit. Marcy’s Mom decided to journal using allegory to help her regain perspective. Listen in to hear how she deals with empty-nest, embracing personal strength, grief, and separation anxiety. Click here.
Living With Diabetes
When one needs exogenous insulin (insulin injections) in order to help blood glucose get into the cells, the ‘explanation’ given is generally: “In order to lower your blood sugar, you need to take insulin injections” which, in part, is true. There are a few ways of keeping blood sugar at a level that helps the body and internal organs to function well. The first point to keep in mind: don’t overload the body with ‘simple sugar’ because that increases demand for production or injection of insulin. Insulin, in moderation, is a friend; however, too much can cause inflammation, and even diabetic coma (leading to death). While chronically high blood sugar levels put a terrible burden on the body, misusing insulin can be just as dangerous.
Are there particular foods that provide what’s best for a person living with diabetes? Yes. Foods rich in Omega 3-fatty acids (click here for a short video with recommendations) and those that provide Vitamin A (not beta carotene) are helpful. Retinol (active form of Vitamin A) is important for people living with diabetes. Feel free to click here to listen to a short video with a few points that may help clarify the role of Vitamin A in your healing journey. Remember: speak with your own primary care provider about the right exercises for your body, and before you make any changes to your daily routine. Here’s to your best health. ~Dr. Iankowitz
“Chess and Relationships – Healing the Great Divide”
What can a game of chess reveal about your ability to have a healthy relationship with yourself or another person? Listen to what Dr. Daniel Cohen, PhD, retired family and marriage counselor and Director Emeritus of the NY Testing and Guidance Center has to say:
“When You Can Trust Another Person With Your Life, But Not With Your Heart”
Relationships are a two-way street. People involved in them need to agree on boundaries, and these are impacted by level of trust & respect earned and given.
The relationship you have with yourself sets the stage for your ability to effectively and satisfactorily relate to others. When self-respect, self-esteem, self-trust and self-confidence exist, and are accompanied by emotional intelligence, a compassionate spirit, humble demeanor and ability to share and channel positive energy, others who are interested in the same are attracted to and sought out by you.
Problems arise when there is a mis-match; that is, when only one part is able to channel positive energy while the other is either an energy drain or one who otherwise ‘blocks’ that positive channeling. The awakening on the part of the positive energy channel may take an hour, a day, a year or even decades – depending on many factors.
Dr. Iankowitz and Dr. Cohen discuss how to get your scenario back on track. Click here to watch the video.
“Are You Who You Are ‘In Spite Of’ or ‘Because Of’ Your Parents?”
Choosing Relationships: To Trust or Not to Trust – Why for Some, This Is An Essential Question
And here is Part 3:
Click here for short video.
The Brain Is Designed to Calm Itself
To watch a short piece of this presentation, click here.
“Wellness Re-Cap of Three Prior Broadcasts”
Safety in the Sunshine (Below)
In truth, our children are our most precious legacy. Opening up lines of communication with children as young as 7 – 9 years of age (early as 2nd & 3rd grade) helps parents earn trust. It takes only 12 minutes of quality, interactive reading time to facilitate a relationship of respect, and communicate unconditional acceptance and love. Each story in “Marcy and Her Friends” is under 1000 words, geared towards children in the 2nd & 3rd grade. Here is a sample of how one of the stories begins:
Marcy didn’t want to get out of bed to go to school. Click here to find out how Mom helped motivate her with gentle parenting techniques – using logic, kindness and understanding. The title of this story is: ‘Marcy Changes Her Attitude’
Marcy tested her limits with Mom (in the video above). Find out how they both handled it.
The day was super-charged with excitement. Marcy was preparing to go to sleep away camp – until she had a few important concerns. Find out how Marcy handled them and see if you can figure out how Mom could have done a better job helping her. Click here to listen to ‘Marcy Goes to Sleep Away Camp’ from Marcy and Her Friends.
Visiting Day arrived! After counting 35 cars, Marcy felt like crying. Where were Mom and Dad? Find out what cheered Marcy up and how trust was built. Listen below to this 8-minute story: “Marcy Cheers Up” from Marcy and Her Friends.
Marcy was very confused about why Mom wasn’t at the door when Marcy got home. What made it especially awful was that Marcy had something very important to share. Click here to listen to the story “I Know You’re There For Me” from Marcy and Her Friends.
Boosting The Immune System (presentation at Pawling Library, July 2017)
The team at WBXO Radio 102.5 Sunday Night Live (below) was warm, welcoming and fun to work with. A brief interview, live on-the-air featured “Marcy and Her Friends”, how the book came to be, and a bit about the healing it offers readers. Interactive reading is essential because it helps adults engage with their 2nd & 3rd grade listeners, facilitating the book’s purpose: peaceful conflict resolution & building self-esteem in the next generation.
The Deep Dive For Love
A professional note by a colleague: “This article braves 5 major areas and addresses 6 essential questions. To fully understand how to appropriately utilize this article, it would take a person who is in the beginning or middle of this struggle a year of two visits a week with a skilled mental health professional. I consider this an epic article.” ~ Dr. Daniel Cohen Ph.D., Life Member, APA.
Areas of focus
1) Struggle as a Gift
2) Leaning on Love
3) The Choices We Make
4) Courage & Distraction
Essential Questions Addressed:
1) Why would anyone avoid the struggle?
2) What interferes with leaning on love?
3) How can you know when you’re choosing toxicity over healing?
4) Why would someone choose toxic behavior?
5) How does one cultivate courage?
6) How can you tell when you self-distract?
Ideally, love is shared between two people who see forever in each other’s eyes; who grow old together, embracing challenges as they arise with courage, confidence, and mutual effort. In a healthy, well-balanced relationship, each empathizes with the other. On occasion this may mean dropping whatever one is doing in the event of an accidental misstep that caused a rift or, more essential: a broken heart. The point is, each prioritizes the safety (emotional and physical) of the other, and does whatever is reasonably possible to earn and nourish mutual trust and respect. Earning and sharing trust are at the forefront of their union, and they travel life’s sacred journey, hand-in-hand, without making excuses for not showing up emotionally. But what if only one has self-expectation of showing up for the partner while the partner has no such self-expectation? What if only one shows up emotionally – and the other expects this one-sided deal will go on forever, without offering the same?
Make no mistake about it: love can be as frightening as it is rewarding. Those who dare to embark upon the true journey, walk a sacred path to touch eternity – experienced as the spark in the eyes and hearts of those who embrace this rare and precious piece of life’s adventure.
Each struggle is a gift – an opportunity to show how well you, as a team, can handle it. In any loving relationship, whether you’re together for 2 months, 2 years, 2 decades or more, ‘struggles’ emerge. In healthy relationships, sharing the burden strengthens your union.
Avoiding struggles undercuts trust by giving the message(s): “We can’t do this together” and/or “I’m not here with you to deal with this. You’re on your own. I don’t’ care if it is fixed. You want it fixed? Do it yourself.” Why would anyone avoid the struggle? This is the key question to be answered in this article.
Every couple has struggles on some level. Financial are often among the first stressors for most starting out. Leaning on love not only eases all tension, including financial, but empowers the couple as a united front. That having been said, leaning on love – while easy and pleasurable for some, is almost impossible for others. The inability or unwillingness to lean on love complicates every struggle and ultimately gives the smallest of issues power to tear a couple apart – either by forcing the healthy partner to give up on the lonely, burdensome effort, or by defining to both that they truly have no interest in choosing “us” over self, or any other distraction.
Keep in mind: all struggles are designed to build a foundation of trust. Dealing with struggles as a team provides an opportunity to strengthen internal trust and your bond as a couple. Avoidance is toxic, and poisons relationships – always.
When handled properly – with heartfelt, unconditional love as the main ingredient, struggles become part of a couple’s recipe for happiness. Without unconditional love, channeling of positive energy, a desire to earn trust, and a mutual decision to nourish devotion to defend against toxic interference, there is no success. Both partners must equally prioritize their union above everything else in order to be triumphant as a couple. This balanced path begins with vulnerability and a willingness to share and feed love freely so it can be leaned on in times of crisis.
What interferes with ‘leaning on love’? Unresolved childhood trauma is often a major culprit. Is it possible to dissolve that obstacle? Yes – but it takes enormous patience and honest effort. Both people need to be sincerely interested in rekindling passion (assuming they began with it). It takes commitment on both parts. Note: as a medical professional I assure you that the human body is designed to heal itself, and the human mind/ brain/ spirit craves inner-peace and calm. To illustrate those observations: the skin, when cut, seals itself off; broken bones heal from within; the brain produces neurotransmitters to self-calm (i.e. serotonin).
Recognition that everyone has experienced disappointment at some point in life is the first step along this healing path; the second step: awareness that, in addition to run-of-the-mill disappointment, some have survived devastating pain. With these two points to guide, it helps to repeat what was stated above: the mind craves healing and inner peace. To achieve healing, the mind forces unresolved issues to resurface throughout life’s journey, giving the traumatized spirit a chance to review – ideally, with perspective and emotional support, so balance can be achieved. Some craft defense-mechanisms which all boil down to self-distraction – in spite of the true desire of the spirit to heal. This will be explored in a moment.
As issues and past trauma arise, the choices we make are either to deal with them head on, or to avoid resolving them, by self-distracting. Dealing with unresolved issues requires commitment and tremendous courage. Avoidance is easier – thus, chosen by most. How can you know what you’re choosing? There are hints.
Self-distraction may spiral into more self-distraction. A person with unresolved childhood trauma often enters the spiral by perpetually avoiding dealing with hurt, negligence, or even abuse that he/she inflicts on a loved one. This is commonly followed by a ‘self-excuse’ which might sound something like this: “Oh I see I caused you pain but I’ve been busy/ confused/ upset myself . . . (the list goes on) all day / week/ year. How could you expect me to step up and deal with what I inflicted on you?” Or, it might sound like something that boils down to this: “It isn’t convenient to deal with this now.” The first few years of these excuses might earn ‘forgiveness’ by the one who was hurt, until either the abuse/ neglect stops and trust is finally earned, or growth on the part of the abused leads to separation from the painful relationship, as no more ‘slack’ can be cut.
There are more self-distracting techniques used by survivors of childhood trauma who, until resolved, abuse their partners. One is to self-praise one’s own efforts as ‘progress’ while ignoring the betrayed trust, as if these self-assigned ‘gold stars’ in any way mend the broken trust: “I am finally noticing how I inflict pain on you. That’s progress!” stated without recognition of the actual specific thing(s) done to disappoint or otherwise betray trust. Another: “But look how well I’m doing in so many other areas!” as if this recognition should somehow un-ring the bell of broken trust or spontaneously crazy-glue a shattered heart back together again.
Another cleverly toxic tactic: “I want you to continue to hold me accountable” suggesting the offending person is incapable of self-reflection in the moment. This puts the burden on the offended as it takes the offender off the hook – at least, from the perspective of the offender. With tremendous pride in the illusion of personal growth, the offender fails to earn trust or mend the broken heart of the offended, who continues to feel disappointed and pushed away. The offender feels remorse, which is self-proclaimed as ‘payment enough’ for the offense.
Sadly, the offender might then deem the ‘offense’ not worthy of further consideration, time, effort etc., comparing it to far worse heinous crimes – therefore, the offended is ‘lucky’ to have not been the recipient of the more hideous offenses. After all, it isn’t as bad as . . . whatever the offender can conjure. Bottom line: feelings hurt are not mended by the offender – and though there is some remorse, the pattern continues.
The offender chooses a vicious cycle of toxic interactions and behavior over self-reflection and healing. Why? Even though logic shows this vicious cycle of avoidance on the part of the offender inflicts self-abuse, shame, guilt, and more, this is the choice that is made. The offender actively chooses to avoid self-reflection which could heal all damaged relationships, simply because it is easier and requires no courage.
Self-reflection leads to awareness, embracing of emotions, recognition, questions, an honest search for answers, and ultimately: centered peace along with physical wellness. You can see how much easier it is to choose avoidance – though, when laid out this way, you might notice the rewards of self-reflection are so much greater. Yet, courage is required and, as stated, most who have been traumatized in childhood choose self-distraction over courage until perspective is gained.
How can one actively cultivate courage? The answer begins with learning how to spot the many ways in which we tend to self-distract. To be clear, we all self-distract to a degree. Healthy self-distraction permits us to calm and center ourselves enough so we can move to the goal of building courage. Problems arise when self-distraction is permitted, by the coward, to become the goal, rather than a tool to permit us to self-reflect.
It is necessary to understand how to identify ‘self-distraction that leads to self-reflection’ so that we can spot and dissolve the tendency to permit it to default to more self-distraction. The latter represents an unfortunate spiral feeding a perpetual cycle until one actively breaks the pattern. To learn how to cultivate courage, it helps to recognize that it actually grows on its own with the right nourishment. The logical question becomes: what nourishes courage?
Every time you spot your own distractions, and view them honestly, you strengthen your own internal courage. Once you have the confidence to spot distractions and actively choose to look at them for what they are, you build self-trust which goes hand-in-hand with spiritual courage. If you’ve read this far, you are interested in learning simple truths about self-distraction, strength of spirit, and how you can spot distraction in yourself and others so you can facilitate your own healing journey.
People often self-distract emotionally by investing energy into blocking thoughts. There are clear signals when this occurs, such as self-destructive behavior including but not limited to overindulgence (i.e. work, food, exercise, sex, gambling, shopping), or personal neglect (i.e. permitting the body to fall below or climb above target weight or muscle mass, unkempt nails, hair, skin, etc.). These are examples of how one chooses to put ‘dealing with emotions’ on the back-burner. When skilled at self-distraction, one can find ways to avoid addressing emotions altogether.
One adept at self-distracting actually redefines effort into ‘emotion’ as ‘the distraction’ rather than as an important step along the path to healing mind, body and spirit. What does this type of redefinition look like in real time? How can you tell if/when you do it?
Anyone who channels every ‘spare’ moment into devoting time to charities, hours upon hours of hobbies &/or projects that require so much precision and attention that ‘but of course’ no time for emotion would be permitted; work (excusing the investment as necessary to pay household bills – ignoring the feeding of emotional relationships within the home); or any other ‘excuse’ to avoid dealing with hurt inflicted emotionally on a loved one who states, “That made me feel sad/ angry/ frustrated etc.”, demonstrates this type of self-distracting avoidance – ultimately avoiding the essential building of courage, spiritual strength, and trust with loved ones.
Self-distracting people often buy into the lie: emotion will distract from a good and effective outcome of ‘the project/ work/ donation effort’. The defenses include but are not limited to: “After all, only a ‘good person’ would devote every spare moment to charity – right?” and “Only an ‘excellent bread-winner’ can make ends meet and/or support the lifestyle to which one has become accustomed (aka: doing it because of love of family and those supported).” In truth: what the individual succeeds at doing, in real time, is defining ‘emotion’ as the distraction rather than the gateway to inner-peace.
A child raised in this type of spiritually starved environment is traumatized by toxic vibrations in that very ‘well-intentioned’ home (especially during the most emotionally vulnerable years – before the age of 9). Such exposure often results in an adolescent with either excellent numbing skills, or anger management issues.
Numbing might be accomplished by using external substances (i.e. mind-altering drugs, alcohol), revealed by behavior easily spotted by most casual onlookers, or by mastering the unfortunate skill of silencing the heart by internally numbing. A master of internal numbing presents as cold, distant, and/or emotionally unavailable; or might excel at intellectual pursuits, but can’t give, receive or share satisfying, consistent love with another human. Words don’t match facial expression, empathy is clearly absent, and ‘logic’ remains the focus.
Another sad scenario would be a person who lashes out at others – seemingly unprovoked, with loud words, behavior, or disruptive actions including but not limited to throwing fits of rage in public places, picking fights etc. This path pushes people away as often as the ‘silent, numb’ approach. In any of these cases, until the childhood trauma is put into perspective through interventions which might include EMDR, EFT (tapping), and talk therapy with a well-educated relationship counselor, healing is unlikely, and a satisfying love relationship with another healthy human is nearly impossible.
People who have unresolved childhood trauma might do well if paired with another emotionally numb person, but only if both agree on emotional boundaries, and a parallel existence without desire to build or expectation of earning trust is acceptable to both. Unresolved trauma does not permit a mutually satisfying relationship with another healthy, balanced human unless extraordinary sacrifices are made by the healthy person – or, until the trauma is put into perspective.
To be very clear: casual by-standers and well-intentioned people are not equipped to help heal a person who struggles with unresolved childhood trauma, for it is an emotional emergency that requires professional help; a journey of extraordinary courage and spiritual strength. Healing for the traumatized survivor is only possible if that individual has the right support, and is more than just ‘willing and able’ . . . but very highly motivated to do so.
This is your sacred journey. All steps taken and avoided are your personal choice. I wish you spiritual courage, emotional healing, balance of mind, body and spirit, fulfillment, and positive energy. ~ Dr. Iankowitz DNP, RN, FNP-BC