Don’t allow “Brain Drain”…Let go of the baggage.


So many people I know are caught up not only in trying to find out who made them stressed and miserable but also in storing the information and cataloging it for future use. I call this “baggage handling” because after a while, we have so much past misery that we need suitcases to put them in. We may even need a Sherpa to carry them.

My grandmother Francesca could have been the curator of the Smithsonian. She was amazing at recalling past history (mostly miserable). My mother was pretty good at storing old stuff too. I inherited some of it, but have been able to process it differently through some time in therapy and my sense of humor.

It is important to differentiate between what you need to hang on to and what to let go of. Many individuals have been traumatized severely from incidents that occurred in the past. History has taught us that if we don’t recall and heal the injustices, it becomes more difficult to heal them. Therefore, it is healthy to identify what has caused you pain, to gain insight, and, it is hoped, to move forward.

This is not always an easy task, for those who have been emotionally wounded often suffer physically. For example, parts of the brain seem to function differently in those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. We can no longer separate the mind from the body; one is witness to the other. There are many wonderful therapists who can help to heal the past and allow it to become a path to a more resilient future.

On the other hand, some baggage shouldn’t even go into the overnight case. So many situations are just a brain drain. I often ask people to write down their stressors, and invariably someone will tell me how upset they get when a co-worker takes extra time at lunch. One woman went on and on about how awful this was. I asked her how long she had been aggravated about this situation and she responded, “Twenty years.” So for twenty years she had been storing this nugget of misery without trying to find a solution.

She also had the need to be a martyr. She felt it was no use to try to do anything, since no one seemed to care that she was being taken advantage of. So now we have a great blend—a martyr with baggage.

Once we have a lot of baggage, navigating life becomes harder and harder. The emotions of resentment, anger and feeling neglected make it difficult to enjoy life to the fullest. Try to make a list of what you’ve been storing and see if you can’t make a point of letting go of what will never change. The freedom you will obtain is well worth the effort. You will no longer be a slave to your mind.

 

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You are what you eat!


One of the most confusing elements of modern-day living is the many messages that come at us daily about food. I often think back to my days growing up in Brooklyn, New York, spending hours with my Italian grandmother whose greatest passion was cooking. Meals were considered to be a special part of the day where we gathered as a family to enjoy conversation and the delights of my grandmothers’ cooking. I never heard anyone discuss how the marinara sauce was found to reduce prostate cancer, that the olives were good for your skin, or that white potatoes would elevate your glycemic level. There were looks of dismay if you put too much on your plate, talked with your mouth full, clinked your silverware, or interrupted when someone else was talking. I hardly ever saw an obese person. Being grossly overweight was just not part of the culture. Perhaps it was because snacking was frowned upon. You ate three meals a day and that was it and they never included donuts, French fries, soda, or anything that was smothered in some suspicious looking sauce. Today, you are surrounded by fast food, and barraged by ads for junk food. Other ads tout weight-loss programs, some of which promise you that you can eat anything you want as long as you drink their special elixir and exercise five minutes a day. I love the ones that say you will lose ten to fifteen pounds in the first week. It might happen if you have your head cut off, but otherwise this is nothing more than a scam! Scientists and food activists at Yale University call this a toxic food environment. The sad fact is that certain people are making a lot of money selling foods that are unhealthy. Many of the individuals who were brought up in this culture have become hooked on fatty foods, excessive sugar and lots of salt. Once they are on the path to having illnesses related to their diets, they are put on drugs to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin levels. The sad fact is that many of these health problems could be solved by paying attention to better dietary habits. Unfortunately health insurance payments don’t go down if you’re at a healthy weight, exercising or monitoring your stress levels. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to recognize that food can be a cure or a curse, and to understand that the old axiom “you are what you eat” is really where it’s at!