Real Self-Care

Self-care is a constant topic of conversation, although we may not have enough time for it. There are the usual suggestions of getting a massage, walking in nature, or having a cocktail at the end of the day. We might meditate or pursue some other kind of spiritual practice, all with the idea of getting some self-care in our world that is always about others.

All of these ideas are great, as far as they go. Real self-care is how you take care of yourself while engaged in your life, rather than dealing with the aftermath. Real self-care means not merging with others, yet having genuine empathy and compassion. Self-care is about not taking on anything energetically from others, so that at the end of the day, you have nothing to “get rid of”— because you did not absorb it during the process of being with them.

Merging with another person, often in our socialization, is seen as a good thing. We are taught in our culture that it is the best way to feel empathy and to know what the other is feeling. In reality, it is intrusive. First, we cannot truly know another’s experience. We can relate, we may have walked a similar path, but knowing someone is upset or in pain and trying to share that with you should be enough. Second, as humans, our job is to witness with compassion, not merging with the other person and thinking we know their feelings.


A Better Way

The first step is to stay inside of our bodies. The task is to recognize what you are experiencing emotionally and physically — so that when you begin to pick up the energetic experiences of others, you are able to distinguish what is you and what is them. This requires being inside of yourself and practicing at identifying the difference between you and others.

The second step is to have a strong sense of your “energetic bubble”. Everything in the universe is energy. That cup you use, the car you drive, and your hand are all examples of energy put together in different forms that we recognize. Each of us has an electromagnetic field outside and around ourselves. This life force is also described as Qi. Becoming hyper-aware of that bubble is the first step to owning your space and being able to understand what is happening around you — by simply being conscious of your bubble.

How would it be possible to keep this constant awareness? It feels like it would take all of our attention if we were thinking about this all the time. We could say the same thing, however, about breathing. We need to breathe constantly. If we don’t breathe, we die. So you must be hyperaware of each breath, or you would stop breathing. Of course, breathing is automatic. Most of the time we don’t have to think about it. When we do, something is wrong, or at the very least deserves our attention.

The same is true with our bubble. It is just part of us. Staying inside of it allows us to hear an alert that signals to us that something is amiss. This happens when we choose to tune in to take the emotional temperature of a person or room. With practice, it can also alert us to danger, before we tune into a specific person or energy. The process is just like breathing. It becomes automatic once we are aware of it and understand how it works.

How Do We Keep Our “Bubble” Solid?

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Unfortunately, childhood, for most people, does not offer great experience for learning boundaries. For many, as children, we experienced whatever limits and boundaries we tried to establish being torn down and trampled. Too often, parents intrude on their children and use them to meet the parent's needs. No one gets through childhood unscathed. Childhood is not designed that way. The task of parenting is to help a child navigate those painful experiences, so that the child has the tools and confidence to explore the world successfully. Not many parents succeed completely at understanding their roles and carrying them out.

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Parents who are the source of the unresolved pain in their child’s lives are what cause personality disorders and neurosis. Our own bodies’ beautifully designed system of electromagnetic energy, one that can protect and inform us, is often riddled with “holes” from the unresolved trauma of childhood and life. Instead of having this solid bubble, we have holes that leak out our energy, and where we have been socialized to allow in the energy of others. And if sufficiently triggered, a child part of our self, from some unresolved pain in our lives, will crawl out of one of those holes in our bubble and suddenly take charge of a situation or our life. There is nothing quite like a four-year-old self suddenly deciding they need to protect us from someone perceived as a threat, a threat that is sourced from pain from long ago. It would be easiest to see when someone overreacts to a situation, where the behavior seems to “come out of nowhere.” We have all been there, and we see it in others every day.

These “holes in our bubble,” in turn, make us vulnerable to taking on others’ energy. We begin to directly experience the other’s emotions and pain, in our own emotions and even in our own bodies. Yet it is their energy; it is not ours, and it should stay outside of you, not inside. This is not about being uncaring or unavailable, it can actually make the opposite happen. You are genuinely available and are a profound witness to another’s experience when you do not intrude on them or their experience. If you keep others “out”, and you “in”, at the end of the day, you are alive, full of energy, and ready to be fully present with your home life and loved ones. This feeling shouldn’t be something you only achieve after hours of decompression, solitude, or the requisite glass(es) of chardonnay. This is real self-care and it is available to anyone that learns this approach to energy management. Staying in your body, learning to read the environment from inside your bubble, is how you know what is happening outside of you.

Our task is to heal our own wounds, so we don’t leak out our own emotions and issues or take in the wounded energy of others. This would be a much better world for all of us if everyone could be aware of this process.

What Can I Do?

Most of us have had the experience of going home to visit our parents and regressing to a child state. Saying no to parents can be very difficult if not impossible. One technique of several, to use in that moment of trouble, is a figure eight visualization. This specific approach is from a book called Cutting the Ties that Bind by Phyllis Krystal

Imagine two hula hoops. Put yourself in one of them and put someone you are having trouble keeping “out of your bubble” in the other. The hula hoops should be adjacent but not overlapping. Turn the two hula hoops into neon and begin moving the energy between the hula hoops in the form of a figure eight. Starting in front of you, start by running the energy clockwise around them and then coming around, and then going counter-clockwise around you until it forms a figure eight. Continue doing this visualization until you begin to notice that you are breathing more naturally and have more mental clarity. I call this exercise a Disconnecting Figure 8.

You can make the energy field bands you are visualizing very tall, or very thick, whatever is necessary for you to feel safely separate from the other.

Another setting for this exercise can be at work. Bosses are often experienced as intrusive, and we frequently turn them into our parents. Using the figure eight will give you space to step back, breathe, and have a better picture of what is happening in the moment.

This technique will help you be better able to see the real person you’re dealing with. instead of a projection. Ghosts from the past, reflected by people in the present, can make us regress and be overwhelmed in the moment. In that moment of stress, healing that past is generally not an option. Having tools in your arsenal to help you deal with the situation is essential to be the best you can be in the here and now.

Figure eights can also be used on bad dreams, obsessive thoughts, and other intrusions where you need to create distance. By using this tool long enough, that “other” will simply dissipate or at least it will give you more distance and perspective to handle the situation in the moment.

Healing is a life-long process as we are constantly uncovering ‘new’ old stuff that needs to be addressed. Understanding and using strong, clear energy boundaries is real self-care.  This allows us to re-orient ourselves, making the healing process easier and faster, and in turn, it makes life more enjoyable.

Try it. See the diagram below, as it may help to make sense of the visualization.


Merle Yost, LMFT

Merle Yost is the author of six books, the latest, Facing the Truth of Your Life and his current workshop is Unspoken Boundaries: Energy Hygiene for Everyone. He has retired from private practice but does short-term Intensives and adjunct EMDR.

Travis Sinks

My name is Travis Sinks. I am first and foremost, a Christian. I'm also a business growth consultant ( My goal through my blog and life is to encourage and equip the church as a whole in both their knowledge of scripture and in their practical lives of life and ministry.

Couples and Money


* Why do couples argue so much about finances?

Money represents security, and as with sex, dealing with it as a couple is based on trust. Just as in a new sexual relationship, it takes a lot of conversation and practice to understand a partner’s belief systems around money, their preferences and priorities, and how they behave around money in general. Too many people just jump right in and assume that the other person must be wired the same way they are because everything works so well in other areas. 

And as with sex, people will lie, or hide issues about money. Over time, these little deceptions usually emerge slowly and can erode trust. Couples eventually discover that just because they are attracted to each other, it does not mean that they see life, money or sex the same way. All of these areas have to be negotiated, often over and over again. 

Crushed expectations, lies, and different priorities can all lead to conflict, much of which could have been avoided if they had taken the time to get to know each other financially as well as they might have on other levels.

* Should couples share their bank accounts or keep them separate?

The answer to whether to merge finances is: whatever works for them. The American fantasy is that once you couple and marry you merge everything: family, money, households, and food. But if two people have very different diets, does that mean they cannot or should not eat together? As with food, you find common ground, but it may be just that, something to start with. It may not mean that you both will eat the same things. There may be shared financial goals or expenses, or there may not. How much or if any merger of money and expenses will depend on the situation. A red flag would be feeling pressured into doing what is expected to make the other person comfortable, even if it does not make you comfortable. 

Also, second and third marriages, where each partner may have their own complex asset situations, are different than when two young people are just starting out in life. Each situation is different and having a tax accountant look at the situation from an outside perspective is a good idea as well. The longer a couple is together, the greater the need to have merged finances. But there are exceptions to every rule.

BEFORE merging money, couples should always exchange the last three full tax returns and a complete current credit report. This action builds trust. It also tells you a lot about the person you are marrying. 

Asking to share this information will seem outrageous to some, but why not?  You will be entrusting your financial future to this other person. If they are forthcoming, if you have both been vulnerable about your strengths and weakness, and if you have taken the time to exchange your values about money deeply, this is the beginning of financial trust. Sharing what you learned from your family about money, priorities, attitudes about saving, tells you so much more about who this person is. It is essential that you know this before merging money. Is buying a house a goal for both of you? Who will manage the finances and why? How much input will the other have? What, if anything, are you willing to sacrifice today to have tomorrow?

If there is a considerable discrepancy in financial values and attitudes between partners, then there should either be no marriage or no complete merger of money. If one person is paying for everything, then there is less reason to have separate accounts, because if my money does not become our money, then the non-financially contributing partner will merely be the unpaid hired help. Keeping all but one checking account separate would be appropriate. Assuming both parties are generating income, then one joint account should be used for paying the mutual bills. In this way, each is sure about how much the other is providing.  It still requires an ongoing discussion about money and priorities.

* What do you do if one person thinks the other is spending too much on non-essentials?

If one partner is doing something that challenges the others beliefs about money, it offers an opportunity to have some of these missing conversations about money and finances. Approach it as curiosity about how they are seeing their spending both personally and in the context of the relationship.  Asking open-ended questions rather than making accusations will create the right atmosphere to share their most honest thoughts and feelings. 

Many people regress to earlier places in their life when it comes to money, especially under stress. Did getting a new toy mean you are loved? Does having money in the bank for emergencies make you feel safe? A parent whose pleasure or needs came before the needs of the family might create a trigger point in a spouse as an adult when their partner does something that reminds them of that parent. 

This question goes back to having agreements worked out before getting married. How did they decide to resolve conflicts in general? Money is loaded, as it represents security for most people. Take away security, and you take away trust. Take away trust, and it is likely the end of the relationship. Infidelity in itself does not end a relationship, a violation of trust can. 

Money in some ways is more complicated than sex in a relationship. Most couples have little to no meaningful discussion about finances before jumping in and making themselves totally vulnerable to another person. There are no absolute rules of how to handle money for a couple, but this most dangerous of minefields should be well-explored territory before you say “I do” and merge your money with another person.

Couple and Money Questionnaire

If you are a new couple, contemplating marriage, considering merging bank accounts and assets, or a couple that is fighting over money This questionnaire is for you. It is comprised of both an individual and a relationship questionnaire. If you purchase this, you should print off two copies and each of you should fill out both questionnaires privately and then compare your answers. The questions are designed to give you insight into both how you see money as well as how your partner does. 

Couples have found this a very useful tool to help them navigate the difficult conversation about. Each couple if they are going to stay together and or merge their money and assets needs to have common ground and basic understandings about money in the relationship. 

Get The Questionnaire PDF

Only $4.99

Parent and Child as Best Friends


A parent and child should never be “best friends”. This can signal boundary crossing, something that is always harmful to a dependent child and is still unhealthy for an adult child as well.

We spend our lives sorting out our relationship with our parents, to come into ourselves, to know ourselves. The child needs a proper perspective on the parent throughout their lives. This helps them navigate all the relationships in their lives.

Once a parent, always a parent. For the sake of the child, those lines should never be crossed. Parent-child relationships are life long, even when the child assumes the parental role for their own parents who may be elderly or in need. Best friends are peers, or if cross-generational, then that friend should be someone outside of the family. Crossing the child-parent line is complicated. People often regress to their childhood emotional state when in the presence of a parent. If you have not worked through the childhood wounds — yes, we all have them! — or you have not individuated from the parents, then the result can be your remaining a child, reacting as a child, in that relationship.

One term that can apply to these blurred boundaries is emotional incest, which refers to any attempt by a parent to use a child to meet their adult psychosexual or emotional needs. That is why “my parent is my BFF” cannot be a healthy relationship. In the best of worlds, the parent helps the child become self-sufficient and launches them into the world, so the child can conquer it and make it their own. This requires the parent to get out of the way. Advise them if asked, but otherwise assume they are now adults. Be their supporter and parent, not their friend.

Parents whose children are their “best friends” can be assumed to not have good boundaries; this can actually impair the health of the child’s relationships with others. Most of the time, the parent dies before the child. The child will need real best friends then, who will support them through that loss.

As a therapist, it was a red flag, a sign that there were potential boundary issues in a family, if a parent told me their child was their best friend, or if a child said the same of their parent. It meant we had a lot of work to do on boundaries and appropriate, healthy relationships. In turn, as a therapist, I also needed to be especially attentive with the client, because they were likely to want me as their best friend, which was not in their best interest.

Steps to Solving Loneliness

Loneliness can shorten your life and certainly make it less enjoyable. All people need contact with others. We are a social species. Some people need more connection than others, and it will even look different from person to person.

But there are some things that most people can do to manage their aloneness, which is time alone that has very positive aspects, versus loneliness, which is when we really need human contact.


Eating out: A key to combating loneliness is to find two or three places to eat, where you go often. You get to know the staff, you ask their names, they know your name, they know what you like to eat. It is some recognition that you exist and people want to interact with you. While you are not with your best friends, it is a bit like having a family dinner. Eating with others is essential.

Friends: Friends are essential. We need people we can confide in, who know what we are going through, who make regular contact with us. Being alone does not mean being lonely. Facebook and Instagram are not enough. You need to talk to people. Meet them for exercise, catching up, a movie, something with in-person contact with others, where you are warmly greeted and genuinely missed and cared for.

Join Groups: MeetUp is an excellent starting point. After you register with the site, search for local groups and activities. You are looking for people with mutual interest. Book groups, movie groups, spiritual groups, exercise groups there is a bit of everything on there. You can also start one of your own. You like photography or drawing, or long walks in the mountains, and there is no local group? Start one and find others into the things you like to do.

Yoga or Exercise Groups are also a way to connect with others. The key is consistency in whatever you do. Making friends takes time. You get to know them, and they get to know you. A bond might be formed and in time, you’re meeting for coffee to get to know each other and then maybe dinner or a movie, as you find mutual interests. Repetition makes people more comfortable with you, and you with them.

Massage: We all need to be touched. The touch of being hugged when greeting someone or departing is affirming and needed. Massage releases all kinds of hormones and feelings in our bodies. Take the time and make an effort to be touched. Find a practitioner you like, and their touch.  Then set up appointments for at least once a month, or as often as you can afford, it will make a big difference to your well-being.

Sex: A friend with benefits or just a sex friend, this is connected to touch, but goes much deeper. Sex, when done right, is intimate and the more often you have good sex with the same person, it should increase intimacy. Masturbation is easy and useful, but being desired, held and touched reminds us that we are important to another in some way.

Pets: The unconditional love of a pet is powerful. They touch us, greet us, and are happy to see us. They can make life worth living when we feel so isolated. One of the concerns about having a pet is that it restricts what else you can do. You cannot linger after work with a colleague if you have to rush home to take care of the dog. A date cannot last overnight. Animals are wonderful, but they are not a substitute for human companionship. Both are nice, but we need human contact to reduce or even eliminate loneliness.

Volunteer Work: Become a docent at a museum or botanical garden, usher at the local theatre, or become an advocate for a political party or cause. You get to choose what is meaningful for you, and make a commitment. You will be meeting people with similar interests; that is the foundation of friendship and a starting point for getting to know each other.

Religious/Spiritual Groups: Churches and other groups are, for many people, the core of their social lives. This is not for everyone, but for some, it can be a match. Make sure that whatever group you join, that their values match yours, and that you don’t give up yourself or your values just to be a part of something.


The major downside of loneliness is depression. We can feel unwanted, alone, and worthless. Seeing couples, families, and friends out socializing can make that even harder to bear and make us feel like the only one who is alone. Why not focus on seeking out other people who are alone? Why not start a conversation with someone? It could change both of your lives.

My Boss, My Parent

Originally posted by Merle at PSYCHED Magazine


The boss employee/relationship is inherently problematic.  Being an employee makes you dependent in much the same way a child depends on its parents. What most people do not take into account is that their relationship with their parents usually is an overlay of their relationship with their boss.

Childhoods are a laboratory for children to make sense out of the world. From the moment they are born, babies, then children and then young adults strive to make sense out of all the data that is coming at them. All of these unfamiliar experiences are labeled and categorized in that vast database of the mind, to be pulled out later to either validate or revise our beliefs about the world.

Growing up in our families, we come to believe that what we experience at home is how all relationships work, this is how all people treat each other and this is what is normal. So we take all this stored “data” of early life experience into school, the workplace, our romantic lives and relationships and use it as the template to make sense out of what is happening in our daily lives.

It’s sad to say that most families are not role models for mental health or healthy relationships. Most people get little to no training in raising children and usually bring their parent’s style into the equation. Or conversely, people may be consciously trying *not* to copy their parents when raising their own children.

So what does this have to do with the boss/employee relationship? Because we are dependent on our bosses in much the same way our parents were, we overlay the relationship with our parents onto the one with our bosses. And so the fun begins.

For example, if John had a “helicopter mother”, over-involved and interfering with his path to self-reliance and problem solving, then the employee is probably going to be lost without someone telling them what to do, and when and how to do it.

While there are micro-manager bosses out there, more than a few, most managers have too much work of their own to have the time to constantly direct each employee’s activities. So the over-mothered employee becomes lost, and the boss thinks they are incompetent.  In reality, the employee had just not learned the skills to be functional and operate independently.

Another response to over-involved or intrusive parents is to be anti-authoritarian. Suzanne for example reacts to anyone telling her what to do with internal tension, anger and even rage. This can be problematic in the workplace and consciously, may make no sense in the actual situation.  But those pesky feelings keep getting in the way. Suzanne might even understand the boss is just doing their job, but it pisses her off nonetheless.

As I often tell my clients, this is not a thinking problem it is a FEELING problem. Any situation that unconsciously recreates the parent-child relationship is going to cause the same emotional response.

If you could not trust anything your mother told you, or if either parent was not really there for you, this emotional response is very likely to be recreated in the workplace.

No one gets out of childhood unscathed. We all have wounds and deficits. I often say that families are the therapist’s guarantee of full employment. But it is not necessary to be trapped in your prior family dynamic and relive it over and over. Of course, therapy is one option. Another is learning a characterological system like the Enneagram. It is an excellent tool to help understand the child frame of reference you are set with and how to break out of it, so that relationships are truly about the present situation.  With this understanding, you can see how the other, whether in work or life, is probably operating out of their childhood reality.

As romantic relationships will draw us to reenact our family dynamics, we often are drawn to work situations that mirror our families’ dynamics. So until we get a conscious viewpoint of what’s happening and work through the original family issues, it is common to recreate it over and over until we do.

So the next time you are stuck in a difficult workplace situation with a boss or co-worker, look for the parallels to the dynamics of your childhood and ask, how is this the same and how does it differ?

Election Anxiety

July 1, 2017

The article below was written in attempt to help people dealing with all the raw emotions and aggression that were breaking out in the midst of an election campaign that was just getting started, when the result was far from known.

Sadly, there is very little to change about what was advised about “a season” over a year ago, since the situation has actually worsened. The rawness of public discourse and the sense of uncertainty about the future have only grown.

What is necessary is that you take care of yourself and not lose perspective. Another election will come and there will be another chance to have your voice heard.

Politics and life are a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself.

March 07, 2016

The unusual USA presidential election season is having an impact on people around the world. It is increasing anxiety for people both in the USA as well as in other countries. It is a major topic of conversation. People inside and outside the USA, especially where I have been traveling Latin America, wonder if we have lost our collective mind. And the answer is, yes.

Anxiety develops when there is an uncertain outcome. In past elections, where there might have been big political differences, there was still a similarity in how the political system was viewed and used. In this election season, all of the previously accepted norms seem to have been tossed out the window. No one, especially on the Republican side, has any idea what is going to happen. Someone has taken the deck of 52 cards and two Jokers and tossed it into the air; where the cards will land is anyone’s guess.


It is similar to a slow motion train wreck. Everyone knows it is going to be ugly but, they can’t take their eyes off of it. Frozen in horror and fascination at the same time.

But it increases anxiety. Watching a 90-minute horror movie will also increase your anxiety, but at least you know it is “only a movie” and it is going to end, so the end does not really matter. Neither of those applies with the election of the President of the United States. We will have to live with the consequences. As a result, people are acting strangely. Even for a political season, there is a great deal of candidate-bashing and extreme positions taken by otherwise seemingly intelligent people in private/public conversations on Facebook. Friends are being un-friended. Families are battling. All over what *might* happen. It has certainly brought into the open the undertow of frustration about the deadlock in our political and government life.

Now that the 'genie’ has been let out of the bottle, is it possible to put it back? Can we or do we want to return to being a civil society? Time will tell.


-An increased number of marriages and divorces: People may either leave unhappy marriages or leave their own isolation to choose marriage. Either decision can reflect an attempt to increase a sense of safety or control, as in “I don’t have to do this or face this alone,” or “I am better off dealing with this alone.”

-An increase in suicides or attempts: People who are suicidal are already in a great deal of internal pain. Our nation is now reflecting its shared pain externally and that can push some people over the edge to suicide, because there will be no relief or sanctuary from the pain inside. If they turn on the TV or internet, it's still there. As relationships are strained by the continued conflict about people’s beliefs and ideals, it can also increase the isolation of people who are already feeling isolated.

-Family/Friendship Fractures: Religion and politics are two of the most divisive things that people can talk about. This election season offers plenty of both, to debate. As a result, families and friends across the spectrum who have maintained  a ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ relationship about areas of strong disagreement will often find the pressure of the current environment simply too much to keep silent. Just as there is clearly a political realignment in our country going on, this could easily accelerate personal and family realignments as well.


Reduce your time spent on reading about and watching the election. After 9/11, people watched video of the Twin Towers coming down, again and again, and thus became more traumatized than they needed to be. Take your eyes off the train wreck. Whether you watch it or not, it is going to happen. Less is more: more perspective, less trauma from watching all the silliness of the season.

Spent time reading largely neutral websites (not TV) that use fact checking to help keep a sense of reality about what is real and not.:The Washington Post, Politico, the Guardian and BBC, for example.

Do some good: Get away from the TV and volunteer. Make a donation to an animal shelter or the food bank. Do something that contributes to making this a better world.

The upside of all of this is that when truths are told and pain is exposed, even if it is ugly, there is the potential for healing. Until we face our own truths and pain, we cannot begin to examine the bigger truths and heal the pain of our society.

The downside is the loss of relationships that might be inevitable in this conflictual process. Perhaps they were not healthy relationships to begin with, and people were holding on to them for the wrong reason. There is an opportunity to be freer and in healthier relationships with people who are more aligned with who they are.

So the imagined consequences of today's increased anxiety may be real, but hopefully healing and growth will still be a positive result of this unusual season.

Weak Gods

March 22, 2015

When I hear about people being killed or threatened by people enraged that they had insulted their God, I am amazed that these people would worship such a weak God. An entity that created all of this is incapable of taking care of himself? He needs us lowly humans to defend and hold people accountable for their disrespect or disbelief? How can that be true?

Of course, it is not true. Any entity that is capable of creating everything can handle people that don’t like him, her or it. Isn’t that what the final judgement is supposed to be about? Meeting your maker and then getting their judgement?

What I think “blasphemy” or just “the attack on religion” is really about is the believers themselves. True believers, meaning those who force their beliefs onto other aggressively, have a very fragile internal sense of who they are, or even none at all. Meaning that when they close their eyes, there is no one home there inside. They are empty. So they fill that space with drugs, alcohol, food, music, and there are endless distractions from that emptiness. Using religion, or one’s interpretation of religion as a personal support in public space is a very old stand by and is socially acceptable in mixed company, particularly for those who swear they had “overcome” an out-of-control, destructive phase of life

If a person relies only on their religion to organize their internal sense of being, then anything that threatens that organization or those beliefs is also a threat to them. "Your attack on my religion is an attack on me." They have no way of separating the two aspects.

Society tends to let the fanatic get by with this by-pass (avoidance of the lack of self) because we are not really willing to call people out on their nonsense, since it is cloaked in the acceptability of religious fervor. It can be dangerous. There are sick people hiding behind religion because they have no real sense of themselves. That makes them dangerous on many levels. There are people guilty substituting a religion for a lack of self in all religions. This is not just an East or West issue; it permeates all cultures and is a miss use of religion that feels like it is consuming our progress and rational thinking. Not all religious leaders are narcissistic; not all followers are mindless, but there are plenty of them.

The next time you see or hear someone threatening or violent in defense of their GOD, just know, they are in a lot of pain.

Vacations Vs Trips

December 12, 2014

There are many articles about how American workers receive and take much less time off from work than our European counterparts. Why this is so, and what to do about it, is for another article. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between a trip and a vacation, however. 

A trip would be going to the Vatican and wanting to see as much of Rome as you can in the 3-10 days you have there. Very scheduled. All about how much you can do and experience. It is busy and outwardly focused. 

A vacation is going somewhere and stopping everything. No schedule, no agenda aside from doing what you want, when you want to, at that moment. A vacation is leisurely and slow. It is about remembering and reconnecting to oneself. 

Many, if not most people use the terms interchangeably. I see them as quite different. I understand the desire to make the best use of your time away from work. Taking in new experiences. Americans especially get precious little time off, and they certainly don’t use all the time they are entitled to. Wanting to change one’s environment and be distracted is certainly important at times. And trips can be fun. What they generally are not is relaxing and renewing. I have seen many people come back from a trip exhausted. They ran around taking it all in, but never rested. In trying so hard to get the most out of the time away, they come back even more depleted.

It takes time for the body to stop, to unwind and begin the process of renewal. In my experience, real renewal only begins with about 10 days off. At that point, the mind has cleared, the body is no longer sleep- deprived and there is a connection to self restored that has been long lost in the rush of daily life. Meditation is one of the ways that people stay connected to self, but vacation is still necessary to remove the distractions, to catch up on rest and to remove the ever-present fatigue that most people live with as normalcy. 

When we are at rest, our creativity can come online. We get clarity about our wants and needs when we are removed from the needs and wants of others. It is like coming home and remembering who we are. 

I often suggest to my clients who are parents that at least once a quarter, they take a weekend (or more) to themselves. They should have someone take care of the kids, go away, check into a hotel or go camping by themselves to just stop, and especially stop caring for everyone else. They should pay attention to their needs and be selfish for a few days. It is renewing and allows for staying the course without the need for the body to force a halt through illness or injury. Even while they are not able to take a real vacation, those who parent face a multi-year and usually a couple of decade’s process of giving up their needs for others. 

I know plenty of people that shudder at the idea of stopping. They are convinced that it would drive them crazy. There is a difference between being distracted and being active. A person who is used to an active lifestyle may very much need to exercise, hike, swim, etc. This is fine if it is done as the body tells you its needs and the activity is not used to distract from the self or your feelings. 

Too many people stay busy, exhausted, high or drunk or still connected to work even on vacation, so as to not have to feel what is going on inside of themselves. While a true vacation will not solve their underlying problems, it is a beginning for perhaps finding a different relationship with the self. Getting to clarity about what you feel can change your life for the better. 

Going to see family is a trip, not a vacation. There are too many agendas and complicated relationships with families for most people to find that kind of visit truly relaxing. I am sure there is the rare family for whom gathering together feels like, and is, a vacation. But for most, it is not.

Again, trips can be wonderful. It is important to experience other cultures, history, play and see the world. Just don't mistake those for a vacation. 

Time being alone, time with no agenda, time to stop is the key to remembering yourself. It makes life a lot more livable and can even bring more joy and happiness.