monkey butterfly

Over and above anything I have learned from years of reading dry journal and research papers as well as studying psychological paradigms, is the knowledge and wisdom gained through working with (and hearing!) real people, especially the kids! One such person was a 9 year old girl having social problems at school: She was blessed with the burden of being way too intelligent (academic and innate) for one so young. One day she said to me “I have realized that it is unfair to put too much trust in all of my friends, it’s too much responsibility, I don’t think they mean to let me down, they are just kids!” OUT OFTHE MOUTHS OF BABES……

Trust is the concrete slab on which you build your life and relationships. I am not saying trust everyone, but trust or distrust based on facts not fears! Until you know a person’s weaknesses give them ‘safe trust’ that is; trust everyone but do not leave your wallet on the table! Do not be cynical just take it slow and play it safe! For wallet substitute – heart strings, secrets, your PIN, children’s safety; anything of value to you. Lock your doors but not with paranoia and fear, just as a sensible habit! I personally do tend to trust a little too much and occasionally I get burned BUT I prefer this to being overly cynical and paranoid.

It is actually quite unfair to just trust everyone with everything because we are all imperfect, flawed, humanoids and sometimes too busy, distracted or ‘just don’t think’ (AND THAT IS QUITE OK!); someone comes to my mind who would never do anything dishonest but if I trusted him to, say, get me somewhere on time it would actually be my fault that we were late because the person is predictably unreliable in that way. It is just a character trait, nothing to hang him for! If you tell this same person anything even slightly personal or confidential, it might as well be in a vault, he will take your info to the grave, Personally you could leave your wallet on my table but if you leave chocolates around me, sorry, !!! What can I say!! You’ve met me!! Your best friend may have every intention of keeping your secrets…one drink and its all over, but you knew that! So take some responsibility before you dump a heap of trust on someone (who you may not know very well…) then get mad because they couldn’t carry it.

If you know the cute guy at work is a serial dater and cheater and you go out with him; don’t get mad at him when he cheats on you. You already knew you could ‘trust’ him to do what he always does! This, like so many things comes back to taking some responsibility for your own stuff!

When picking a partner make sure you can trust each other with the things that are important! but really..Don’t sweat the small stuff!



There are people born without the wiring that tells their brain to feel pain: you want that disorder you say? Seriously? Have you ever had a paper cut on your finger and it did not even hurt until you knew it was there? Imagine you’re an athlete and you break an ankle but your brain doesn’t receive the message (pain response) so you keep on running….you end up with much worse damage than a sprained ankle. So how about someone who has damaged nerves in their leg; everything medically that can be done has been. They have their walking stick; they know what they can and can’t do… Brain got the memo! Message received! We have damage and we have done everything we can to fix it! So why does he need to continue feeling pain; well maybe if he forgets about the damage he might toss the walking stick and start playing footy. What if I say you can learn not to feel the pain (or at the very least to reduce those pain messages considerably). More on this later…
The process: Take this slow and work on each step until you ‘get it!’ Sit in a chair; I want to work first on getting you to know your body and heighten your physical awareness (and control)! So start with the butt muscle;
You already know how to flex and release your butt muscle. Do you know exactly how you control this muscle group? Or is it more like you just think it and it happens? Practice that a few times. Of course a professional can explain the dynamics of brain impulses, action potentials and a whole lot of science gobbledygook BUT to us mere mortals, it really does seem like we just think it and it happens. Now go for something a little harder, lock in you abdominals (your core) this is really hard to start with but keep trying until you get it (bonus: while you do this you are working on your six pack). Practice locking, holding and releasing. Try to build up to a whole minute ‘hold’ and you will start to get rock hard abs. If your struggling, any gym junky will give you some tips on how to do it.
Now for a visual: Again sitting in the chair I want you to play with a muscle you can see: tense and release a top thigh muscle and watch it move: Think it, move it; think it; move it; Even Homer can do that one. homer brain
OK now for a leap of faith, think of a muscle inside where you can’t see… or feel…. .Throats are good for this. Especially if you have ever had anxiety and you have felt that scary tightening of the throat brought about by a fear response. Remember you will not get any proof that it is happening so do it quite a few times. With enough practice you may become vaguely aware that it is working; more than likely you will just have to believe me! BUT since it worked on the ones you can feel and see, doesn’t common sense and logic tell you that it is working on ones you cannot see ??????
Just because you can’t prove something does not mean it is not happening! Can you prove there are no purple polar bears?

I won’t give you the rest of the exercise just yet because I want you to practice this stage first. So keep doing these exercises until you understand that your brain actually can control all your muscles (and your body) ©
funnt brain

Check back in a few days and I will show you how you can apply this to reducing (or eliminating) pain. And we can address the question…..Why is getting a tattoo less painful than going to the dentist?

What are ENERGY TOKENS? Thought you’d never ask!

Assume you wake up each morning with a box containing your daily budget of energies… these are physical, emotional, psychological etc.  etc. etc.  Let us put them into a currency you value, maybe money, time, units of stress, whatever! So your tokens might be dollars, hours, kisses-n-cuddles, or decibels your voice will reach when you “lose it”. (More on ANGER ENERGY another time). You do not have an endless supply so be stingy/frugal! Do not waste units of energy being mad at a situation you can’t change; instead spend your tokens on your own personal growth and nurturing. As you go through your day you will encounter, or just think of, things, people and situations that “make you” mad! You may be having a nice day spending your energy tokens wisely on self-nurturing, personal growth, pursuits that will enrich your future (like reading this book) and attending to the people you enjoy in your life…Having Fun even!. Then something comes on TV, perhaps in the news, and you are reminded of something or someone that has burned you in the past. Right away you start giving away your energy tokens by getting fired up over something that, at least at this moment, you can do nothing about. Ask yourself why, if this person or situation has already taken so much from you, would you go and give away more of today’s precious energies budget!  What is the return on this expenditure? What was the reward for your investment?       

Next time someone cuts you off in traffic and you start donating your energy tokens to a motorist who is now two miles down the road and doesn’t even know you exist, let alone that you are swearing at her, think about how you could better use your valuable energies.

© from, The Little Book to Annihilate Anxiety (to be released next Spring)


Your Amazing Brain

head waves

What are brain waves?       How do the operate?  Why bother?

I am going to keep this simple as I just want you to understand a little bit about your brain and how it works (you’re not looking at going for a science degree here ok!)   We can measure your brain waves on an EEG and we get graphs of squiggly lines that show the pattern and speed of your electrical fluctuations when you are thinking, learning, relaxing, losing the plot, falling love and anything else you do with your amazing little computer in your head.  There is a lot of exciting work going on in terms of neuro feedback and bio feedback for use in a whole range of psychological and even psychiatric disorders but we won’t go there just now. It can get rather technical as to which brain waves (activity) operate at the same time and frequencies etc so the researchers and scientists reading this will have to take a deep breath, I’m dumbing it down, not because my readers are not smart but because I don’t want to bore them into a permanent ‘delta’ state.

In my blog on Anxiety I explained that when you learn to breath properly on a daily basis, one of the things you do is slow down your brain waves:  So again to keep it simple: Lets say we have ‘slow’  ‘faster’  ‘very fast’  and ‘melt-down-fast’   If your in a permanent frazzle, operating at the ‘very fast’ speed… (incidentally that’s were most people operate these days)  when something happens to get you wound up (maybe you’re on the 405 at 4pm, the baby is in the back screaming, you were meant to be somewhere an hour ago and your fuel gauge has been on empty for the last 20 miles).. Quite reasonably your brain speeds up to ‘melt-down’ and that’s not fun!   BUT

When you train your brain to operate at slower speeds (in this case slow means nothing like lethargic or ineffective, quite the opposite) , by breathing properly, practicing a calm approach to things and of course meditation really helps the process; the next time you are in a situation that would get any one of us wound up, instead of going from fast to melt-down you will go from slow to some-what faster, putting you in a much better state to manage the situation.

Blankets, Gloves & Beanies…

As we continue to get spoiled by the California sun, the temperature IS starting to drop and winter is coming, as it should. Many of you are looking forward to open fires and snuggling under that extra blanket on Sunday morning. I’m told January is when it gets really cold in California. When I woke up at 3am to kick off my blanket (my apartment is so cozy and warm at night)I thought about our friends sleeping outside! Somewhere this winter someone will literally freeze to death overnight! So I figured it was time to remind you all to sort out Blankets, Gloves & Beanies that you don’t need and get them to those who do! There will be a collection site near where you live OR you can call and someone there will help you.


Relationships are like shoes??!!

A couples’ relationship is like a pair of shoes! Every woman and most men will understand what I am about to say here. We have all got (or had) shoes in the closet that just do not fit! When they were in the store they were so pretty, and you really wanted them, so you walked up and down for a while and processed thoughts like; I just need to ‘break them in’ wear them with stockings, whatever, but you convinced yourself that they were somehow going to fit later even though you were already getting blisters and you had not even paid for them yet. You bought them, yes they are pretty and yes they would look nice with that dress!


BUT when you get that pair that fits, ……so comfortable you want to wear them all the time, …..
You don’t even care when they start to look old and daggy!

Anxiety is one of the most debilitating disorders to have and one of the most fundamental to cure: BUT it takes consisted/persistant use of the techniques!!

Ever had, or been with someone having, a panic attack and some well meaning soul tells you to ‘breath’… this is great advice but not really well accepted when your in the middle of an acute anxiety episode.  Before we go any further lets call this what it is!  Anxiety is FEAR! Panic is FEAR! and FEAR is way more easy to deal with than nebulous terms like anxiety and panic.

Step 1: From now on drop the words anxiety and panic and call it what it is: Your having a ‘fear attack’ or “fear episode” or even better “feeling fearful”  (you need to ‘get’ that before you move to the next bit!

Fear has to be a fear of……… right??? Yes, right now your either thinking ‘but I have fear of everything’, or’ I don’t know what I am afraid of’  OR you are disagreeing with step 1. That’s OK… read on. For the moment though, just assume that I ‘could be’ right.

There are 2 components to your fear attack; one is the physiological and I will deal with that shortly. The other is self talk (internal dialogue) the thoughts in your head AND the ones on your hard drive (conditioned/programmed attitudes, beliefs, self-doubts, habits etc.).

So your having a fear attack  with the shakes, shortness of breath etc. etc. your head is bouncing around with fearful thinking, “what if’s”, and catastrophising the current situation.

Check your immediate surrounding…. are you safe right now? at this moment where you are?  Clearly if your driving you need to pull over!  If the house is on fire you need to get out of there because your fear this time is very rational! 

So right now, for this moment, your safe OK!   Acknowledge your having an episode of ‘fear’ and that fear is ALWAYS a fear of something, you may or may not know what it is OR its likely something a lot deeper than the thing you think it is! which is why you are having an exaggerated response to the fear.

Now we come to the ‘Fear Funnel of Answers’

Imagine (or draw/write if  you like) a funnel and at the top is the first question/answer What am I afraid of?  Typically the first answer is ‘everything’ or “I don’t know” that’s fine, that’s why it is at the wide part of the funnel because we are going to work our way down to the narrow end.. If we were in therapy together I would probably know what is at the narrow end of your funnel but telling you would not cure your FEAR (previously known as Anxiety) the cure comes from you working your own way there! Its important that you keep asking yourself the question and every time you answer one level you ask again, and again, and again until you get down to the deep stuff.

Whatever your first answer is, work with that….. you have identified a fear… Now what: Is it something you can fix? Is it happening or are you worried that it will happen? Is it something you can prevent? Or do you have to accept it?   can you see that with this process the “FEAR” just turned into a problem that can be fixed or not… I am not in any way minimizing the pain of having events in your life that cannot be fixed!  Anxiety and panic do not come from concrete problems they come from ‘feeling’ or being overwhelmed, not in control, often drowning in ‘what ifs’ and fear of events that may never happen!  (Dealing with actual grief/loss/stress is a whole other subject).

From there you can go into problem solving and solution focused thinking which are active brain states that you do not access when you are having a fear attack.

The Physiological:

People tend to respond  to large pills better than small ones; unless the small pill is marked ‘extra strength’  (Don’t get me wrong I’m all for placeboes when they work and they often do!).

Often people do not put enough effort into proper breathing habits: We breath all the time, its no biggie; your problem is way to big to be fixed just by breathing! Breathing on its own will not fix your problems, true; BUT when you practice deep slow breathing from the abdomen you do a lot of powerful things to your body [and your brain]: you slow down your heart rate, your blood pressure and a few other things but the biggie is your brain rhythms (the power of working with your brain rhythms s a whole other book on its own).  So back to fear attacks: when everything starts racing your brain rhythms speed up and you effectively start to lose control (lose the plot) rendering you incapable of rational, logical thought and/or actions…

So by practicing the breathing everyday (and seriously you do not have to go and pay some guru a heap of money to teach you to breath; you know your breathing from the abdomen if you place your hands on your tummy with the fingers just touching; as you breath in and out your hands will separate and come together, separate and come together, as your tummy goes up and down NOT your chest.

It takes practice (as much as possible until this is how you breath ALL the time!) and it is not as easy as it sounds. Its so much easier to slip back into shallow, breathing especially if you drink a lot of caffeine or you run around in a frazzle.

If you practice your breathing all the time….learn to identify your FEARs and work you way through the fear funnel until you get to your core issues (depending on what they are you may need to get specific help for them)you WILL stop having those episodes you used to call Anxiety/Panic Attacks:  It wont happen overnight but if you do the work it WILL happen:

How do YOU know it will work…you don’t! How do I know it works? 17 years and 100s of success stories.  Try it..  What do you have to lose!