healing/health

Childhood physical abuse linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, study suggests

Childhood physical abuse linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, study suggests

Dealing with a Drunk

Do you have, or have you ever had, an alcoholic in your life? I’m pretty lucky — I have never had a very close friend or family member have addiction problems. Until now.

Serena is a friend of several decades. We were roommates briefly, way back when, when I was changing cities, and a lease ended, and I couldn’t move for a couple of weeks. She was kind enough to take me in. At the time, I noticed that if we opened a bottle of wine, she drank the majority of it. If we went to a party, she had one too many, but she was a funny, sweet drunk, so I mostly just enjoyed her company. We were young; everyone partied; I excused it.

Then I moved. Though we kept in touch through job changes and moves and marriages and kids and separations and divorces, we really didn’t see each other much. When she got pregnant with her daughter, she told me she’d stopped drinking. I guess her husband insisted, and insisted she stay sober for her daughter’s entire childhood, which she did. But her daughter went off to college last fall, and her drinking resumed. To make matters worse, her husband left her.

Serena’s living in California now, has been for a few years, and so we’re spending time together. I’ve noticed that she’s drinking a lot. If I see her in the evening, I have to drive, because I don’t trust her to. Sometimes she slurs her words. I’ve seen her pass out, very genteelly, of course, but pass out nonetheless.

I’m horrified. I’m sad. I’m scared for my friend. I don’t really know what to do. I tried the Al-Anon website, which was not all that helpful, because I’m not family, or even close enough for Serena’s drinking to affect me, except for friendly concern. Then I found this article, by a recovering alcoholic, who is also a family member of other alcoholics, which is quite helpful.

So here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Take Serena out for coffee, early in the day on a weekend. (She only drinks in the evening, so she’ll be sober. We’ll be in a neutral location, in public, which is the safest place to have any difficult discussion, something I learned at Harvard Business School. Because it’s the weekend, we’ll have time to talk.)
  • Tell her specifically what I have noticed. (In NLP, I learned that people can’t deal with generalities, so it’s best to be specific.)
  • Tell her neutrally about my concern for her. (The article says that judging, labeling or shaming just make the problem worse. They give the alcoholic more reasons to drink. What the alcoholic needs is more resources, more ways to deal with the pain underneath the drinking.)
  • Bring information about the nearest AA meetings, both locations and times.
  • Listen neutrally and openly, using all the skills I’ve learned in NLP. (NLP has a whole model of linguistic rules which, when used by a listener,  help the speaker become more clear about what is going on.)
  • Be non-attached to the outcome. Perhaps Serena will take some positive step. Perhaps not. Perhaps, despite my best efforts, she’ll make me wrong for even bringing this up. I am prepared to lose the friendship, if that is what happens. 

Wish me luck! (And I truly welcome any additional ideas you’d like to post as comments here.)

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

Life on the Plateau

I typically greet friends with the question, ‘What’s new?” Of course, they tell me, and then ask me the same question.

I am often stumped because, at least on the outside, there is not much new. I’ve been married to the same man and lived in the same home for more than 10 years now. Nobody’s died — or been born. My business has its ups and downs, but basically, it’s the same business. No family or close friends have gotten married lately. A couple of friends are getting a divorce, but that’s not mine to discuss. Depending on the week, I have more or less time for hobbies — and those haven’t changed much either. I can’t talk about exotic trips I don’t take.

Most of my changes take place on the inside — and I can’t share those with many people. And sometimes, there aren’t many of those, either.

That’s the real plateau — when nothing much is new, even on the inside.

Often, this is a good thing. We need to catch our breaths from all the change. So much is going on around us, if not to us — births, deaths, marriages, divorces, jobs ending, jobs and businesses starting, illnesses and recoveries, moves of home and/or workplace. Then there are all the societal and political changes, too many to mention.

Sometimes we even need breaks from internal change. I know that when a client does a big piece of change work with me, that client needs to let it integrate, often for a couple of weeks, before becoming completely comfortable with who (s)he has become.

As a culture, we are fixated on what’s new, what’s changing, rather than on the deeper truths. Maybe a better question is, “What have you learned lately?” Because learning goes on, even on the plateau. In fact, I suspect that is what the plateau is for — to help us deepen our learning. If you keep on doing what you’re doing, practicing what craft or skills got you to the place you are, learning new things, you’ll improve — and new opportunities will come, and with them, change, starting the cycle again.

[For more on life on the plateau, check out George Leonard’s classic,  Mastery — a wonderful short book on the virtues of practice for its own sake, and loving the plateau.]

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

A New Type of Gratitude

This blog is called “Change Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day” — and I found a new technique, a new practice, that really can do that.

It’s a truism in the New Age community that the ‘attitude of gratitude’ helps power the Law of Attraction, which simply says that what you focus on expands. So if you’re focusing on what you are grateful for, then you’ll get more of that.

The problem with this is that if you are only focusing on things you are grateful for, you tend to sweep the less positive things under the rug. And what you ignore, endures. That is, by not dealing with it, by leaving it there in your psyche, your energy body, it attracts more of itself to you, too.

A couple of months ago, I happened upon Melody Beattie’s “Make Miracles in Forty Days“. Beattie is famous for her books about co-dependence, which are very clear. This is completely different. In it, she talks about how, by admitting how bad things are, you can start to turn things around.

Her process is very simple. Each day, you spend 10 minutes writing what you are grateful for. The twist is that you are also grateful for seemingly negative events and circumstances, as well as the emotions around them. For example, here is part of what I was grateful for, as I wrote in the first post in my gratitude journal after learning the process (Jan. 29, 2011):

  • I am unable to lose weight
  • I’ve mostly given up trying to lose weight, because I exercise and I’ve tried everything (low cal, low fat, low carb), stuck to it, and nothing’s worked.
  • I dislike my body at this weight

Now it’s been more than 40 days, and I’ve been losing a pound a week for about 8 weeks. Yes, there is a real world mechanism here, which I’d rather not go into, and it is still a sort of miracle. 

More than that, though, is that there is a sort of peace from admitting this stuff, even if only to myself. I’d say the process works. Try it for yourself and see!

Here’s the process:

Take 10 minutes every morning (I set a timer) and write the date and then:

“Today I am grateful that:

[Insert the good and bad here. Beattie used bullet points, and within each one could use multiple sentences.]

“Thank you for all that!”

That’s it — that’s the whole process.

Obviously, in her book, Beattie elaborates more than this — and it’s still a very short book. It might take an hour and a half to read. Makes great bathroom reading, too, as it doesn’t go overly deep.

 
If you try it please let me know what happens.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

How to Talk to Yourself so Your Unconcscious Hears You

Last week on my radio show, “Your Life, Your Relationships”, I had a caller who was so frustrated with his body and his situation that he wanted to ‘break up with himself’. He had reached a place where he was feeling negative about everything in his life and wanted to be more positive. I suggested a particular language intervention for him.

I think I should pass this on to you, along with a few more ways of helping yourself think positively. It does take work to make a practice of using these positive language interventions — and it is well worth the effort.

What follows is a list of what to do to change our most common ways of thinking negatively into more useful thoughts.

  • Avoid the word “not” – The unconscious mind is very literal — and it believes everything you tell it. Unfortunately,  it is incapable of hearing the word “not”. (Don’t believe me? Don’t think of a purple walrus. What just happened? If you’re normal (and don’t know the game), you just thought of a purple walrus. Why? Because you have to make a picture of something in order to eliminate it.) Notice I used the word “avoid”, rather than saying “Don’t use”.
  • Eliminate the word “but” – When you use the word, “but”, you are implying that what came before it is somehow false, or partly false. For example, when you say to a friend, “I like that dress, but the color isn’t great on you” implies that you don’t really like the dress, because when your friend asks you if you like it, “do you like it on me?” is implied.
          It’s much better to use the word “and” – “I like that dress, 
          and the color isn’t great on you” sounds very different, doesn’t it? 
          Eliminate the word, “however”, as well. As my friend, Janet 
          Crawford, says, ‘”However” is just “but” dressed up in a tuxedo.’
  • Avoid the word, “can’t” –  When someone uses the words, “I can’t”, what (s)he usually mean is “I won’t”. It’s not that she can’t come to your dinner party, it’s that she isn’t willing to do whatever is necessary to come. Occasionally, when someone says he can’t, he really is disabled, as is the man in the wheel chair who says, “I can’t run”.

          If you choose not to do something, take responsibility for
          that, and say, “I have other plans” (even if the plans are to stay
          home and watch TV). This implies that the other plans are more

          important for some reason, and that’s okay. It’s okay to make
          choices — that’s life.
  • Avoid the passive voice – “It can’t be done” is just a way of avoiding responsibility; what the speaker probably means is either “I can’t do it” or “I won’t do it”. Plus passive voice is boring and confusing for the listener. If you mean, “I’m not willing to do it” — tell the truth — say that.
  • Avoid the words, “I’ll try” – Right now, put your right foot flat on the floor. Now, try to pick it up. Don’t pick it up, just try to. This is what Yoda meant when he said, “Do or do not… there is no try.” 

         Make a commitment. Yes, you might fail — and you are much
         more likely to succeed than if you just “try”.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.