"Once you stop being who you do not want to be, you make room for you to come out."
“Problems and Issues are opportunities to strengthen your resilience.”
“Better self-connection and self-coherence is the pathway to clarity.”
“Clarity is the pathway to strength with softness and eloquence.”
“It is your RIGHT to live life to it’s fullest without letting emotional states hijack your joyful movements.”
“Cultivate your inner resources to expand your resilience and enhance the quality of your existence”
“Let curiosity be the antidote to judgment, and all uncomfortable emotional states.”
A metamorphic process creating a dramatic change in form and function.
Make sure we are on the same page when applying definitions and connotations to the terms I will use.
Jump start your therapeutic experience, by having a three day intensive “living experience.”
A few testimonials from clients after a workshop or during the a therapeutic tool.
Therapeutic paradigm of Transformational Therapy™
“transform” - a metamorphic process creating a dramatic change in form and function.
Transformational Therapy™, a model I designed approximately 10 years ago while working with professional and Olympic athletes. It has proven to be a successful paradigm for setting the stage and for long term success in making the desired shifts to have a happier and more enjoyable life void of conflicts that hijack your time and energy. This paradigm is designed to minimize anxiety, frustration and all emotional states that hijack our ability to be regulated and happy.
Transformational Therapy, works compassionately, softly, yet intensely with nervous system regulation.
Instead of following the traditional therapeutic process where a client comes in once or twice per week for one or two hours and works on specific problems, we will spend between 2-4 days together, from morning through the dinner process. With 168 hours in a week the traditional therapeutic approach leaves a minimum of 164 hours per week where you are still being subjected to the regular daily stressors that have been a part of creating the existing constrictions, tensions and the sub-optimal default responses that may not be serving you so well today. Our work will transcend specific issues and address the functionality of your nervous system thus transforming your total essence.
With Transformational Therapy I will be with you throughout your day in your normal routines. We will have normal conversations as we work through the social engagement system in the flow of your life. We will observe, and bring to your awareness what your subtle triggers are, that activates your ANS. We will also observe and discuss both the intensity of that activation and the duration of the activation that disrupts your pro-active movements in life.
We will be observing how the residual of the days activating events effect you when you go home. What you bring home will have an effect on others you live with (and visa vers) so it will be important to assess how your home environment and the people in it either further activates you, or if there are any attempts at co-regulation by those you live with.
This last point also will have us address the family systemic issues; and this is done with the same attention to compassion for all involved. After all, I believe we are all doing the best we can at any given point in time. Finding new ways to regulate ourselves, and to help those we love through co-regulating techniques only has potential to bring all of us more energy and more time in places that bring us happiness.
On the last day we are together we will examine all the experiences you have lived and sensorially felt from the inside out, from the bottom (body) up, so the changes you desire to make can all come to fruition with thought out consciousness. The felt sense of learning to re-regulate your nervous system will become a way of being, not something you have to do. The benefits are felt instantaneously in each real time moment.
Traditional therapy although a good process, is like a brief timeout from life to get help exploring the “whys” of issues, and to explore some potential ways to readjust and ease the struggles of daily life. But, as already stated, the environment soon closes back in and the old ways insidiously re-emerge. These changes albeit good, typically have a sub-optimal shelf life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to make changes in our basic operational system so we can be and remain more regulated and happy? Yes! Is my answer.
Transformational Therapy, lets you experience exactly what is happening in real time to your ANS, and in real time lets you experience from the inside out how to adjust and make life smoother and happier for you. By working through the social engagement system our work with your nervous system will keep you regulated, and we will simultaneously be doing reparative work with your old attachment wounds.
“Bruce tended to everybody's needs in a personal manner”
“Bruce was what he taught ... he embodied the art of being.”
“I found my voice that was afraid to come out”
From a spouse about her husband after a workshop, they had been married for 15 years “He danced for the very first time”.
“I could find a balance between feeling difficult emotions and staying present.”
“Allowing myself to be supported instead of isolated was heart warming”
“Understanding there are good/valid reasons for my difficulties in relationships was very helpful; And learning the path to a healthy relationship was also encouraging.”
“It was important to first find me, myself, my boundaries, my coherence, and this allowed me to be more available for relating.”
“You are the mental sherpa of my mind”
From an adolescent, “You are one smart mother f*@#er, everything you say is simple and clear”.
“Colors are now more pronounced and brighter.”
(terms as I use them)
- Activated– When our system is energized by an external stimuli.
- Autonomatic Nervous System (ANS) - Automatically responds to external stimuli and unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal.
- Band-width - This diagram represents the optimal band-width where we will coherently move with our energy. Our band-width never stays static. It expands and contracts depending upon our level of stress. The higher the stress the more constricted our band-width; the more regulated and relaxed we are the more expanded our band-width will be. When our band-width is in a more relaxed place, we have more tolerance and resilience to access our resources to deal with whatever triggers us.
- Coherence - When we are in coherence we have a fluid moving wave that moves up and down and may briefly move slightly above the maximum boundary or may briefly move slightly below the minimum boundary. Nobody stays completely within the lines.
- Constricted - When our nervous system and our bodies become constricted, we lose the capacity to take in and process stimuli, and we lose our coherent flow. When we become constricted our peripheral vision becomes compromised and external issues may be perceived as more intense than they actually are.
- Constricted Band-width - Our band-width shrinks and becomes constricted when our nervous system is over-loaded with stress. When this happens any input from the external world over loads our circuits and spins us into either a sympathetic or parasympathetic response. (refer to sympathetic and parasympathetic in this glossary)
- Dis-regulation - When our system is off balance and we cannot regain our balance. Our band-width may be fluctuating and our ability to manage external stimuli is limited at best. This is when we tend to have more intense fight, flight, or freeze responses. Our ability to be socially engaged, and our ability to think more rationally become compromised.
- Explicit responses – Responses that are clear and usually come from a thoughtful conscious place.
- Hypertonicity - When the muscle tone in our bodies creates chronic tension and constriction. This can feel like muscle strength but it is actually constriction.
- Hypotonicity - Extremely loose muscle tone, flaccid, and floopy lacking strength and structure.
- Implicit memory responses - Responses that have served us as well as possible in any given moment (in the past). Responses that happen without conscious thought in the moment. They tend to appear when we are faced with what our mind perceives as a threat. I refer to these as default responses.
- Lack of resilience - When the external stimuli knocks us over and throws us off our proactive course. We tend to remain off our proactive course and we remain flummoxed and over-activated for a time frame that hurts our emotional state and our natural flow.
- Orienting - We want to be able to remain present and connected to ourselves at all times. When we “spin out” we tend to lose our orientation to “now”, the present moment. Orienting is a tool to use to come back to “now” and re-connect with yourself. When we orient we look around and notice colors, shapes, sounds, smells, anything that is currently within our purview. This tends to slow down the spinning reaction, which will likely allow us to access the executive branch of our brain so we can become more conscious with our response.
- Parasympathetic - Considered the “resting branch” of the autonomic nervous system (ANS in the future). When thinking of the fight, flight, freeze responses, this is typically associated with freeze; even though there is a high energy contained within the freeze. Deep meditation, and yoga also brings us to a good parasympathetic and relaxed place.
- Pendulation - Like a pendulum on a grandfather clock, we pendulate between emotional states. You have felt really really good but you have also felt bad. Life has a pendulating movement to it. Our goal is to have the pendulum have as gentle an arch as possible like on a clock face from 4-8, or 5-7. A sub-optimal pendulation would be from 2-10 on the clock face. Everything swings from one side to another; good to bad and back to good again … happy to sad and back to happy again … Learning the pacing of the swings is important, and this too we want to control in the interest of not overwhelming the system.
- Regulation - When we are regulated our band-width remains within a manageable fluctuating state allowing us to remain in coherence even when a medium charge comes into our system. Our system is performing in a familiar standardized fashion.
- Resilience - The ability to rebound back to a regulated state without major disruption. Things will happen and we will be blown off our proactive course, but when we have resilience we will come back to our coherent state in a reasonable time frame.
- Resolution - When we can bring our dis-regulation back into a regulated coherent state moving within our normal band-width.
- Resonance - The ability to be in synch with another person. When we are in harmony with the other person’s emotional state and their needs.
- Resources - People and things, real or imagined that help us stabilize when we begin to get triggered or activated. We want our toolbox of resources to be as full and diverse as possible so no matter what triggers us we can reach out and find a resource that can help us stabilize.
- Social engagement - Being fully engaged with another, having eye contact, listening and responding, looking for common ground and establishing platforms of safety for conversations to remain open with curiosity.
- Sub-optimal - My term that eliminates negative judgment when something is not as we had desired. These are the moments that bring us opportunities for growth.
- Sympathetic - The mobilizing response to stimuli typically bringing an energetic charge that produces the fight or flight or freeze response.
- Titrate - To take in small doses. Therapeutically this means we will take small doses of the issues and properly move it through your system; this allows for everything to integrate as we be build a more secure platform of safety and security for the system to rely on. When we titrate your therapeutic growth you will know, and feel from the inside out that your changes are integrated into the platform of your essence.
- Tracers - Ghost images from our past that trail behind us but may pop up and have an influence at any given moment.
- Triggers - Specific stimuli that brings activation to our system that enervates a response, either of a sympathetic nature or a parasympathetic nature. We all have triggers, and knowing our triggers helps us prepare for them. When we prepare for them properly they will probably not activate us in a strong way. Personally I love becoming aware of the precursors to the triggers as it allows more time to prepare for them and they less intensity. The earlier we can address and discharge something that has potential to activate us, the easier it is to process.
- Vortex - To spin in circles, like in the eddy of the river.
Multi-day on site co-created work retuning your nervous system for to a more coherent, smoother, functioning that will reduce undesired stressful emotional states.
This is best done in your natural environment so we can watch how your daily world effects your nervous system, and we will also witness your resilience or lack there of to your daily triggers. Real time in the moment now work that is unfiltered.
Together we will open the door to your resources that can help you re-regulate your system when it gets thrown off course by different life events, some of which are unavoidable and some of which can be avoided.
This work can also be done by you coming to my environment and together we will pre-design what we will do throughout each day.
Follow up sessions are either in person, on Skype/Face Time/Zoom or phone, or via Email.
Traditional therapeutic process
Session will be from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
Supervision, and case consultation
Session will be from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
The Art of Being
The Art of Relating
Enhancing the Quality of Relationships
Group Case Consultations
Fun ways to reduce stress
All workshops have a 50/50 blend of content and experiential exercises (that are fun as will as enlightening)
I grew up in NYC, moved to Colorado in 1971 then to Utah in 2015.
Although it is important for you to know the professional roads I have traveled to be the therapist I am today, what is most important is how do we resonate together
July 2019, 51 years after I first began working with children in groups, I look in the rear-view mirror of my career with pride and joy for I have enjoyed all that I have done thus far in helping people have happier lives, safer lives void of self-destructive pitfalls, deeper and richer experiences, and more profound connections in the quality of their relationships. I consider being a part of your journey in this way an honor and a privilege.
Throughout these 51 years I have studied many different theoretical constructs, and all of them have added something as they integrated in me and synergized how I perform my art of being a therapist.
Although I appreciate all my mentors along my pathway to here and now, I must single out my first mentor for bringing me into this glorious field in such a unique manner. Morty Mintz, a short(ish), stout(ish) bearded man, who because of his presence commanded your attention and appreciation all at the same time. He was a teacher of group work at CCNY (Community College of New York) and a Cabalistic Jewish man prone to also playing the concertina. He blended his intuition, with his knowledge; his compassion with his strength and clarity.
I want to thank all my teachers along this path. Some teachers came labled as such, but it is you, my client that has been my most profound teacher. You have taught me to be more curious, to listen with more openness, to expand my compassion and empathy, and blended in with these relational components are my formally studied theoretical constructs.
Professional Bio ▼
Personal Bio ▼
- Graduated from the New School for Social Research, BA, 1971
- Graduated from the University of Denver, MSW, 1973
POST GRADUATE STUDIES of different psychological and physiological theories
- Ego oriented psychotherapy
- Group work
- Object relations
- Humanistic psychology
- Reality therapy
- Neuroscience (briefly)
- Brain spotting
- Somatic experiencing
- Attachment theory
- Group worker for children ages 5-9
- Day camp director for all ages of children
- Supervisor of a government grant researching child abuse and neglect 1973-1975
- Director of 1st sexual abuse program in Colorado through the National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect 1975-1980
- 1976 part time private practice
- Full time private practice 1980 - present
Various areas of practice while in private practice:
- Individual, couples and family therapy with all ages
- Mediator/arbitrator in high conflict divorce cases
- Child protective evaluations in high conflict custody cases
- Work with professional athletes
- Work with Olympic athletes
- Speaking engagements to large groups
- Consultant to various state departments of social service
- Doing workshops on three continents
- Teaching various therapeutic techniques on three continents
- Consultant and supervisor to therapists
- Business consultant to private mental health agencies
- Published various articles, a book chapter, and edited a book for the Colorado State Department of Social Services
I am aware that most therapists do not share much about who they are as people; this is good and is designed to ensure the relationship is properly focused on you.
Although I support and agree with this philosophy, you and I both know that I am a person first that synthesizes my professional learnings through my personal lenses. My essence, and how I live will dictate the quality and openness of my synthesizing processes.
Below I will give you some brief phrases that guide my movements:
- First and foremost, “Once you stop being who you do not want to be, you leave room for you to come out”.
- Curiosity is the antidote to all uncomfortable emotional states. When you are judgmental you close the door eg; I am angry, sad, depressed … but when you are curious about your state of being you let go of the fait accompli closed door position and begin to circulate your thoughts. Eventually you find movement that either offers a solution, or at the least softens the strength of the uncomfortable emotional state as previously felt.
- I love being curious and seeing each event as an opportunity for growth and self enhancement.
- I do not see failures, I see attempts that may be less successful than desired to be opportunities for growth.
- I believe that by living a full life, using life, relationships, athletics and work as metaphors for each other we can see the inter-relatedness of everything.
- Intra-psychic issues are important, inter-relatedness can create the pathways to a more harmonious way of being.
- I take my work seriously, but I reflect on everything lightly.
- I believe we all have resources and interests inside ourselves that if cultivated to their fullest will enhance the quality of our existence.
- I have lived a full active life style while also pursuing professional studies.
- My resume only describes my professional work experience. who I am, and how I work is however the gestalt of all the different avenues I have explored in life. Mostly, I seek meaning in the life, I enjoy challenges, and I aspire to grow until my last breath. I believe that how I work today, although it has a synergistic synchronicity from all I have done in the past, should be evaluated not on the basis of what you read about me, but on the basis of how I relate with you.
- Our journey of exploration together will bring tears of joy to your eyes as we pleasurably explore the glorious caverns that lie within.
The Psychophysiology of Repeated Skiing and Cycling Crashes
Psychology Today (Aug 02, 2019)
► Read Article
Preface to the Trilogy of Blogs on Anxiety 2019-08-20
The first blog on anxiety sets the stage for understanding the various ways anxiety hijacks our life force and our life flow.
The second blog describes how anxiety often manifests itself in physiological and behavioral signs and symptoms. It reveals how such manifestations of anxiety ramp up quickly and immobilizes our functionality.
These first two blogs are inextricably linked. They cannot be fully separated or denied, just as the notion of one plus one equals two cannot be disputed.
The third and final blog will describe how we can be filled with a renewed sense of strength and capability as we find new pathways to regulate our systems and calm our anxieties. When we think all is lost, blog number three calls us to action to lessen the effects of anxiety in our lives, leading us to restore a sense of control and wonderment. Attention to the third blog can hold wonderful possibilities that can be life changing and affirming.
ANXIETY - The Ultimate Life Force and Life-Flow Hijacker (Part 1) 2019-08-20
When we spend time being anxious, we are not propelling ourselves forward on our pro-active path. Anxiety steals our precious time; and time is our most cherished and valuable asset. Every minute that passes is a minute lost. Time cannot be recaptured or made up. When it passes, it is gone.
When we lose time in this manner we also lose some of our precious energy units. When energy units are spent on anxiety we have less energy for more desired pro-active activities.
Anxiety hijacks our time and our energy.
Our desire to be engaged in life has our foot on the gas to proceed forward, but our anxiety slams the other foot hard on the brake, while grabbing the steering wheel and taking us down a long and tiring dead end road.
What’s even worse is the fact that our anxiety takes us down the same road over and over again. We have to get control over our anxiety, because if we complacently accept our anxious states as a Fait Accomply we will forever be locked in this Sisyphusian vortex. Anxiety holds us back from what we want to do and from where we want to go, and anxiety generates patterns of behaviors that become self-sabotaging, often causing us to repeat them again and again. We do not want to repeat uncomfortable patterns, nor do we want to spin in the vortex of anxiety but because we do not know how to get out of the vortex, our lives become hijacked.
We all have a limited number of "energy units", and anxiety steals them from us. Hypothetically, if we have 5 units of energy to spend on today’s activities, and we want to proceed with the tasks before us in a proactive manner, our best performance will take place if all our energy units are focused on those tasks. Since our anxiety is taking our energy units in another direction, these needed energy units are not available for what we desire to do pro-actively.
Let’s consider the following hypothetical scenario: My friends have invited me to play golf at a beautiful golf course located 50 miles from my house. However, I suffer from agoraphobia, and I do not like to be a passenger in a car. New environments and travel are two triggers that tend to feed my anxiety, and to make matters worse, I am not in control because someone else is driving.
My desire is to go and be with my friends, to play golf and enjoy the beauty of the golf course.
But my anxiety is triggered by having to travel in a car with multiple people, and go to a new and unfamiliar environment. As my anxiety fixates on how I am going to cope with all this I also become concerned about how I will perform on the golf course, a new unsafe environment. Now I find I am becoming anxious about being anxious.
Once the juices of anxiety start flowing they can become relentless. Our internal story about the issues generating the anxiety grows exponentially, often without pause and strays far away from any reality, except the reality of being stuck in the eddy of anxiety.
Under optimal conditions to play a good round of golf, I want to concentrate on:
• spending my energy units on the course I am about to play and my course management,
• thinking about the techniques of the game on which I have been working and practicing, and
• putting energy into making sure I am in a relaxed place so what I have integrated about golf techniques can just flow through me in a natural unimpeded relaxed manner.
• I also want to enjoy the company of my friends.
As paradoxical as this might sound, it requires hard work and energy to relax and not work so hard. However, when that relaxed state is achieved, it feels great. Think of being in the zone. This is where I desire to be for my golf outing with my friends.
However, in the above scenario my anxiety has hijacked my energy units and now all my energy is being put into attempting to manage my anxiety. Not only does this produce even more anxiety, but my self-confidence begins to erode because I feel silly and inadequate for having the anxiety in the first place. I will probably withdraw socially as well because I am anxious about my anxiety being observed by my friends. That dang anxiety has hijacked my proactive energy units, and drained them to the extent that now I have fewer if any energy units left for focusing on golf. I have also lost valuable time, my golf game is likely to be sub-optimal, and my confidence has slipped into the quicksand of self-doubt. The anxiety has hijacked both my life force and my life flow.
This big "punch-in-the-stomach " that anxiety delivers to our self-confidence transpires insidiously and at hyper speed, and undermines the core of our being. Anxiety has us automatically feeling weak, and less than we want to feel. These pejorative perceptions of ourselves feels like reality, and when they feel real, we think and act as if they are real. Our precious time, our precious energy units, and our self-esteem have been hijacked and are being held captive to an energy source we perceive to be stronger than our will to conquer this villain named anxiety.
This is an attack from within and will continue to drain our precious energy units and our precious time. Each time this occurs we lose confidence in our innate ability to control ourselves because the anxiety spreads strong roots that lead to the development of patterns of behaviors and speech that re-enforce our perceived weakness.
For example, we begin making statements like, "These types of situations always make me anxious. " When we make statements like this we are saying that our anxiety owns us, and we believe it is automatic that the anxiety will be present. We also feel and believe we are powerless to do something about our anxiety.
One of the problems with show stopping anxiety is the speed at which it can ramp up. Rarely does anxiety appear as a slow train moving at a steady terrapin speed. Anxiety usually goes from zero to red line in a nano second, and before you know it you are spinning out of control.
Anxiety is a natural state, and can even serve a positive function by bringing awareness to us, but it has to be managed, which it rarely is, by any of us.
The purpose of this blog was just to identify the many ways, and the disruptive nature of anxiety. This is unfortunately a state that takes the life force out of many people; it is real, and it is powerful in destructive ways to our lives.
SEE PART 2 BELOW
ANXIETY - Some Physiological and Behavioral Signs of Anxiety (Part 2) 2019-02-17
Anxiety reveals itself in many ways, both overtly and covertly; and sometimes we may misinterpret what is overt because none of us want to admit we are anxious. The explanation for that seems rather simple; anxiety is seen as a weakness, and as a mental illness that requires medication under certain circumstances. In reality, anxiety is just an emotional state that has the potential to debilitate us, unless we can get a handle on it when it initially presents physiologically.
Your anxiety probably has been in existence for many years and grooved a pattern of responses that are sub-optimal for your pro-active life flow. Unfortunately these transitory emotional states and behaviors that accompany them feel inevitable and "normal". However, as you learn to catch the early signs of anxiety, there are ways to manage it so it only becomes a small speed bump in each particular moment. You do not have to feel like you are being dragged down the track on a run away train.
When your stomach is churning and upset or your chest is constricted and/or throbbing, it is "kinder", we assume, to think of ourselves as suffering from a physical ailment. So we may make statements, such as "It must be something I ate" or "I must be coming down with a respiratory illness."
We tend to first look elsewhere for the answer to our physiological discomforts; we want these physiological discomforts to have a physical etiology. We do not think, "I have these symptoms because I am anxious", even though these are a couple of the common physiological signs of anxiety.
Other signs of anxiety include:
• a breathing pattern that has become quicker
• a tendency to holding your breath
• episodes of sweating
• a sudden inability to concentrate
• eating incessantly even when you are not hungry
• loss of appetite
• sleep disturbance
• compulsively playing a game on your iPhone
• discomfort being in social situations
• disturbance in the lower GI tract
• finding yourself tapping your feet or moving your feet or legs like the needle on a sewing machine
• feeling tired and lethargic for no clear and understandable reason
• feeling like we want to withdraw for social contact
There are many more signs of anxiety, and these are just a few of the most common physiological signs. I, like you, can recognize all these symptoms because anxiety is an emotional state we all experience. Of course, all these symptoms and many others may have an underlying physiological etiology that could be a signal of something other than anxiety, but as we have all experienced time and time again, we usually find that it is anxiety of some sort that is causing these symptoms which disrupt our regulation.
Anxiety also appears around events in our lives that are not enjoyable but may be necessities. For example, surgeries typically generate anxiety, but they are a necessity for eradicating some physical ailments. The physical signs and signals are likely be the same as with any other anxiety producing situation. It does not matter why the anxiety is there, what matters most is that we know how to identify the early signals of its existence. Next we want to manage it so it does not distract us from being more fluid with the flow of our lives.
It is also possible for anxiety to be a warning sign of real danger, so it serves a very important purpose. Since all the internal warning signs of anxiety are basically the same, it is essential our system does not go into an old default patterned response when these physiological symptoms appear. When we have those default implicit responses we typically lose our ability to judge the current situation for what it actually is.
Anxiety that is very severe, chronic, and untreated, has a high potential to turn into real, and sometimes serious physical ailments. It is common that autoimmune disorders start as untreated anxieties. This is another reason we want to recognize the early, even the earliest of the early signs of anxiety. We want to calm our system down before it makes a turn towards something more serious.
We all have things in life that produce anxiety and stress. These moments in time should not be moments of embarrassment or shame; nor should they become the norm as a systemic debilitating response that hijacks our system away from being present with what we want to be doing. These moments can be wonderful opportunities for us to dig into our toolbox of resources, and to strengthen our resilience to the normal winds of life that tend to knock us off center.
Severe anxiety can also turn into panic attacks and these can take many forms. I will describe a personal moment in time when this happened to me. Life’s stresses were building up; but since I am who I am, along my route to Panicsville I used all my compensatory statements, such as "I can handle this. It’s not a big deal." You get the idea. The anxiety was being stored and buried deep inside, until my system could not handle it any more. Then, in the middle of the night I woke up in a coughing fit, collapsed on the bathroom floor in a deep sweat, and insisted to my concerned wife that everything was perfectly fine. For some unbeknownst reason to me, she didn’t believe my words as she was observing me sweat and cringe in pain on the bathroom floor. So she drove me to the ER. Once in the ER, they were sure I was having a heart attack and they ran all their tests as 10 different people asked me the same 15 questions within a 2 hour time period. At the end of their evaluation they were unsure how to diagnose me. Other than having normal blood work and no pain in my left arm, all the symptoms mimicked a heart attack; but clearly I was not having a heart attack. It’s a good thing I had studied some neuroscience, and I understood a little something about the 10th cranial Vagus nerve that controls the heart and can stimulate the system to mimic a heart attack when the system is under severe stress. Anxiety is a form of stress on the system, and conversely, life stress can cause anxiety.
What is interesting about that personal anecdote is that although my “normal” anxieties are relatively minor and almost never disrupting to my movements through life, given the right set of circumstances, even a person like me can become debilitated by anxiety. This is an emotional and physiological state that all humans have in varying degrees, and at any given moment we may find ourselves surprised by the degree and power of our anxiety.
One of the major problems with chronic anxiety is that we develop defenses that are designed to protect us from feeling these emotional states. These defenses soon become an integral part of our personality and we habituate to thinking that this is who we are and then we stop trying to really fix the root cause of the anxiety.
Above is a brief description of some of the common physiological signs of anxiety, but there are other signs we can pay attention to as well. Anxiety represents a fear, typically of something in the future, and when we are fearful of something we will look to avoid or gain control over the situation. Also, if our fear of something in the future becomes so strong, it will take us away from the present moment. At those times we are responding now, to the future that has yet to happen, and we are losing the connection to ourselves and what we want to be doing right in this moment. Not only do we lose this moment, we have compromised our ability to think about how to best respond to the situation in the future. If we were to stay connected to ourselves, and this moment in time, we probably would be able to think of a strategy for dealing with the situation that made us anxious.
People with phobias look to take strong control over conversations to avoid being triggered by the issue that may throw them into a full-blown anxiety attack. Any time the trigger topic appears, this person adeptly switches the primary topic of the conversation.
Other people may take control of a conversation by speaking so fast and so much that there is no air space for your voice to enter into the conversation.
Other people deal with their anxiety by always speaking about their anxiety.
Then there are those who dissociate during conversations or during moments in time so as not to feel their anxiety.
We have many compensation strategies to avoid anxiety. It is normal to attempt to avoid anxiety, and therefore dissociation is a strategy used unconsciously by our system so we do not overload our capacity to cope. Unfortunately, if we utilize a strategy to the point it becomes a primary behavioral pattern and our primary default mechanism of functioning, it is highly likely this "strategy" will be hijacking our life force and our life flow. This would be sub-optimal.
The intention of this blog was to bring awareness to signs of anxiety being in your filed.
SEE PART 3 BELOW (Click "Read Additional Blogs")
What to do about Anxiety. (Part 3)
1. The first step to overcoming anxiety is to recognize and believe that this is just an emotional state that all humans have to varying degrees. Anxiety is not a mental disorder, it is a state within our control under certain circumstances, and it is not a disease. It is however a dis ease that rumbles through our nervous system and may have a powerful pull towards dis-regulating our functioning and hijacking our life force. In some cases, anxiety does have physiological roots, but if you go to have this assessed by a psychiatrist, remember, that more often than not they want to treat the symptom as if it were a disease, which means pharmacology.
It is likely you will get symptom relief from the pharmacology but this will not necessarily address the underlying cause. Learning to self-manage whenever possible has the potential to give longer lasting relief.
If we can understand that feeling anxious is normal, and it can be within our control, we will be taking both the stigma of having anxiety away, and we will be building our confidence and resilience when it appears. These are fundamental truths for me that are essential for keeping my pro-active desires functional. Even if there is a physiological reason for the anxiety I need to find more internal resilience to mange it more completely.
2. Once you can get control the stigma and power of anxiety can be neutralized. When you do not accept this state as a power source over yourself you can begin to find tools to use that will minimize your emotional distress, and you will find ways to master your behavioral responses. If you feel like anxiety is more powerful than your will you will feel hopeless in the face of it; this is when we do not even search for resources to help ourselves. It is essential for use to utilize our mental capacities to their fullest in order to offer proper resistance to the anxious state.
Also, it is not helpful to “power through” the anxiety as it builds up in your system. When you “power through” the anxiety until it is over and you feel this tremendous relief, what you are really doing is developing a pattern that your body will remember. The pattern is that in order to feel relieve you first have to have these intense feelings. You do nothing to diminish the repetition of getting anxiety, all you do is train your body to a first feel highly charged and then it will feel good. I call this trying to stop the train five miles down the track after it has a full head of steam.
Conversely, it will serve you better in the long run to titrate and discharge the energy of anxiety as it begins to build and be felt in your system. This way you will have emotional states that are within your purview to control. I call this stopping the train in the wheel house. As this exercise gets practiced and repeated, you will notice the charge of your anxious state will rarely if ever rise to “red line” level.
Which train would you rather try to stop.
3. In blog 1 I addressed some of the signs of anxiety that we tend to by-pass. Imagine how you might be able to control the anxiety if you paid attention to these signs when they were in their early stages. let me ask you, would you rather try to stop the train while it was just warming up in the wheel house, or would you rather try to stop the train 5 miles down the track when it has a full head of steam powering it?
Although it is an asset to have compensation skills that allow you to move past the little annoyances of life, it is a liability to always move past the small signals from our body. After all, how long does it take to assess if there is something about to happen that might be generating anxiety. remember, we already decided we are not weak, nor do we have a mental disorder if we are anxious, anxiety is normal. So let’s pay attention to these more subtle signs, make an assessment, and if we are anxious, let’s develop a strategy for addressing it. Now we are slowing the anxiety down, dealing with it in a manageable dose, and it is less likely to get out of control.
When we wordsmith our speech we actually alter our perception. For example, “In the past, that would have made me anxious, but now I know how to move through this with minimal to no disruption to my life force and life flow.” Can you see the difference between that sentence and the sentence stating “This type of situation always makes me anxious”. We are not tricking ourselves, we are make cognitive conscious corrections that will also stimulate the visual cortex and the motor cortex, and we are likely to make different, more optimal choices with our behaviors.
An even more effective word-smithing would be to eliminate all references to anything remotely negative. “I love the new strength I have developed through the hard work of being more conscious and more present to what is happening now.” The word-smithing now produces images of strength and capability. It suggests the anxiety is something in the past without even needing to address it by name, and it radiates confidence in us. It also highlights that through our hard conscious efforts, we have opened new pathways and new, more functional default responses to similar stimuli. In essence, we are stating “I feel I am strong, and stronger than the anxiety.”
a) You can orient to the environment you are in now; Look at the bouquet of colors around you, maybe focus on all the red things or blue things in your environment.
listen to what sounds you hear, or what are the aromas you like in this environment.
b) When you orient to your current environment you are leaving your fears of the future to be present, and when you are present you are more likely to be connected to your essence; this will aid you to finding a conscious solution.
c) Call your observing self up to pay attention to what your bodily sensations are, write them down:
• constriction in the chest
• churning of the stomach
• avoiding behaviors
• excessive use of chemicals such as alcohol
• or any of the others listed above
As you make your observations to these sensation and behaviors, pay attention to thoughts that may enter, and emotions that may also be present. This is about you. See what action plan you can develop for dealing with this issue.
We always want to assess if there is a real threat, and if there is not then we want to be able to mange our level of perceived threat. Putting our perceived threats in perspective is essential, and we must stop that train before it pulls out of the wheel house. We also want to strengthen our will and dig deep into our self-confidence so we can stay connected to our neocortex.
These are suggestions and can be practiced by any individual. I would strongly suggest working with a therapist trained in self management of anxiety.
I am also please to inform you that I and my business partners have recently received our patent pending letter for a virtual device that is completely unique from those currently on the market that deal with anxiety. The VTG2 (The Virtual Therapy Guidance Group) is working diligently to bring this to market ASAP.
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