Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Family Roles as Children Predict Adult Roles

An adult is just a kid that has a bigger body but the same childish habits. Anonymous

Do you agree with this?

 If so, why? 

If not, why?

After Karen and I were married and living in Cincinnati we drove back "home" to Ina, Illinois several times a year.  Karen often commented that as soon as I drove into my parent's home on The Spring Garden Road, I began to regress emotionally to my former childishness. She asked rhetorically, "What happened to that mighty man of God who preached the gospel around the world?" 

Do you ever see yourself React at a Level 7.0 Earthquake to an event that a normal person would Respond as a Light Tremor of 3.0?

It is true that my Reactivity to Mother and Dad rose from a normal level 6.0 to 7.0. In some situations it was much higher.  On some topics I would break out into a cold sweat and start shaking in Fight or Flight or Freeze. Why did I regress and React so strongly?

It is an amazing but true fact of life that there are certain people in our families and work whom we allow to “push our buttons”.  One group is constantly doing things that “make” us mad, sad, or frustrated.  We want to fight them or take flight to keep from having a fight. What is it about them that controls me and "makes" me act foolishly?

Another group “makes” us react in an opposite manner. They seem fragile and helpless and it makes me want to rescue them or to protect them from other people.  The way they look and sound is irresistible to my mercy side and I chronically find myself trying to care for them. I simply cannot resist the temptation to put on a Superman suit and try to Rescue them.

Perhaps the most surprising group of all is made up of people with whom I get along with quite well and with whom I have no problems trying to rescue or resist.  I can have a good debate but keep cool and listen.  I can hear their woes yet remain calm. Their requests for loans of a few thousand dollars do not move me to write a check and bail them out. I am at peace when they are anxious.

My mentor and coach Dr. Friedman suggested that no one can "make" me feel strongly or react automatically. Friedman said that I need to look at the log in my own eye before I find the fault in others. I don't think that is very realistic.  It must be their problem. At least I hope so. It couldn’t be my problem could it? Is the Reactivity and Fight/Flight within me not in them?Am I pulling my own strings and pushing my own buttons? Yikes! How can that be?

The following exercise will help us decide whether it is my anxious reaction or theirs.

On a scale of 1-10 where 1.0 is peaceful and non-reactive and 10 is the extreme anxious reactivity, mark your level of Reactivity to the persons listed.

 I.  Fight or Flight.  The ways I react with persons to either fight their ideas or find a
     way to take flight away from them and their ideas.

A. Little or no emotional reactivity. This is a 1-3 on the scale. Think of someone you can have a good, deep discussion with and stay "unhooked."  There are rarely sparks or deep emotions and you can have a calm dialogue about almost any topic.

                                    Person 1
                                    Person 2

B.  Some Reactivity, but I do not automatically want to flight or flee. It is 4-6 on the scale. A person with whom I have occasional fights or flights with occasional anxious blow-ups mixed with times of calmness and peace.  It varies in intensity.

                                    Person 1
                                    Person 2

Major Chronic Reactivity. It is 7-10 on the scale and describes a person with whom I conflict consistently. I get emotional thinking about them. My heart beats faster and I want to run away or tell him/her what I think. I cannot stand him/her.

                                    Person 1
                                    Person 2

II.  Protect or Rescue.  The way I react to others who are in need of assistance.

A. Little or no Emotional Reactivity toward protecting a hurting person is 1-3 on the scale. I can interact with little or no desire to rescue them. I can discuss problems, anxieties and needs without trying to save them. I rationally respond to their needs.

                                    Person 1
                                    Person 2

B.  Some Reactivity of protecting is 4-6 on the scale. I feel sorry for the person, want to please them, am concerned about their needs, wants and views and want to conform to them.  I often think about the persons and worry about them.  I can't discuss their emotional issues, problems or concerns without feeling their feelings and worrying that I should help them.

                                    Person 1
                                    Person 2

C. Major Reactivity of rescuing and protecting: This is a 7-10 on the scale. I compulsively think/worry about the person and their needs, weaknesses, fears, or problems.  I may even be able to "read" their mind and "feel their feelings" at the same level they feel them--or even more intensely.

                                    Person 1
                                    Person 2

If you were able to face these patterns in your life and go through the check list you are in a better situation to Renew your mind and find more self-control. The book Power Christian Thinking can be very helpful to anyone who wants to stop being controlled by others.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

Marriage is Good for Us

Single Parenting is bad for Us

One of the strongest, most consistent benefits of marriage is better physical health and its consequence, longer life. Married people are less likely than unmarried people to suffer from long-term illness or disability (Murphy et al. 1997), and they have better survival rates for some illnesses (Goodwin et al. 1987). They have fewer physical problems and a lower risk of death from various causes, especially those with a behavioral component; the health benefits are generally larger for men (Ross et al. 1990). A longitudinal analysis based on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a large national sample, documents a significantly lower mortality rate for married individuals (Lillard and Waite 1995).

For example, simulations based on this research show that, other factors held constant, nine out of ten married women alive at age 48 would still be alive at age 65; by contrast, eight out of ten never-married women would survive to age 65.

The corresponding comparison for men reveals a more pronounced difference: nine out of ten for the married group versus only six out of ten for those who were never married (Waite and Gallagher 2000).

Similarly, although there are exceptions and the matter remains controversial (Sloan et al. 1999), a growing body of research documents an association between religious involvement and better outcomes on a variety of physical health measures, including problems related to heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, as well as overall health status and life expectancy. This research also points to differences by religious affiliation, with members of stricter denominations displaying an advantage (Levin 1994).

A large body of literature documents that married men earn higher wages than their single counterparts. This differential, known as the "marriage premium," is sizable. A rigorous and thorough statistical analysis by Korenman and Neumark (1991) reports that married white men in America earn 11 percent more than their never-married counterparts, controlling for all the standard human capital variables.

Children raised by their own married parents do better, on average, across a range of outcomes than children who grow up in other living arrangements. There is evidence that the former are less likely to die as infants (Bennett et al. 1994) and have better health during childhood (Angel and Worobey 1988) and even in old age (Tucker et al. 1997). They are less likely to drop out of high school, they complete more years of schooling, they are less likely to be idle as young adults, and they are less likely to have a child as an unmarried teenager (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994).

Children who grow up in intact two-parent families also tend to have better mental health than their counterparts who have experienced a parental divorce. Using 17-year longitudinal data from two generations, Amato and Sobolewski (2001) find that the weaker parent-child bonds that result from marital discord mediate most of the association between divorce and the subsequent mental health outcomes of children. Cherlin et al. (1998) find that children whose parents would later divorce already showed evidence of more emotional problems prior to the divorce, suggesting that marriage dissolution tends to occur in families that are troubled to begin with. However, the authors also find that the gap continues to widen following the divorce, suggestive of a causal effect of family breakup on mental health.

The book Breaking Free has a lot of revealing research on the correlations between Childhood Loss and Trauma and later Adult Diseases, Addictions, Criminal Behavior, etc. We also include several soul stirring stories about adults who were healed from Adverse Childhood Events.

Be careful. This book may be too advanced for you to read and implement. Its healing properties are very powerful.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Help the Poor?

I recently asked a Minister in the inner city how his group was faring at helping the poor break the "Cycle of Poverty".  His answer surprised me. "We are not trying to get people out of poverty. Being poor is not all bad".

I had another conversation with a young woman of about 40 who was working with a government agency to help the poor. She said they set up a program for single mothers that provided food, clothing, milk and baby food as well as a small group of other unmarried pregnant women to provide emotional and informational support.

The goal was to encourage these very young, poor women who were on welfare to stop having unprotected sex and stop having babies.  The state needed to "empower" these babies to make better decisions about having babies.

Can you guess what happened? Did these young, unmarried women stop having "unprotected sex" and stop getting pregnant?

Why  would they stop? That would be stupid.

Stopping behavior that gets such nice rewards would be stupid and these women are NOT stupid! Most government agencies and Rescuers assume they are stupid so they treat them as totally ignorant and unable to understand why sex and babies are bad. Because, sex and babies out of wedlock are not bad for them in a culture that rewards it so lavishly.

Can our attempts to help the poor actually keep them poor?YES! It usually does.

Remember the chart that laid out the opposing extremes of Pleasers and Challengers? Another way to label them is "Over Functioner" and Under Functioner".  The Over Functioner is compulsively driven to Rescue Under Functioners. They are seen as: 

Sick Children who are Trapped and Need A Rescuer:  Victims, Stupid, Helpless, Ignorant, Sick, Addicted, Tainted, Powerless, Hopeless

Must have someone that is: Smart, Educated, Trained, Heroic, Tireless, Pure, Humble, Selfless, Godly, Powerful, Wise

In my former profession we called it One Up rescues victims that are always One Down

It is hard to break the compulsive habit of treating people beneath us but this approach to helping the poor and disadvantaged is very disrespectful. Only by interacting as equals can we show others Respect.

This is how multi-generational poverty is created and maintained.

Why are so many good hearted people breaking the Golden Rule?

If you want to learn how to keep the Golden Rule, try reading our materials, if you think you are ready for an alternative approach to caring. If you want to see an approach that breaks the cycle of poverty. Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty is a place to begin.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Should Christians try to Rescue the Perishing?

I grew up singing an old hymn that went like this: 

Rescue the perishing
Care for the dyning
Jesus is merciful
Jesus will save!

It sounds wonderful but it is quite confused. It says first off that we should "Rescue the perishing and Care for the dying" but ends up with the promise that "Jesus will save". Now which is it? Do we save the perishing and dying or does Jesus do it?

This kind of lyrics along with a preaching style that calls for church members to  serve the poor, evangelize the world, raise kids so they will all be saved and obedient, etc pitched side-by-side with the idea that we are saved by grace and that we cannot force anyone to do anything sets up an impossible Catch 22 for pious Christians.

Catch 22 communication patterns by persons in authority leave members with increased anxiety, frustration and anger. It is a factory for Fight/Flight/Freeze emotions.  In Grad School it was called the main cause of mental illness. (That may not be true but it certainly is damaging. to relationship with God, self and others.)

As we look at the Reactivity Charts above they remind us how anxious families tend to balance out by producing opposite Reactions to additional stresses.  The Reactive Pleaser tries to get his/her siblings to comply with the rules and expected roles. However, that is balanced by  Reactive sibling that Challenges the Pleaser when he/she acts in a Parental or Authoritative Role.

Many of us who go into Preaching, Counseling, Medicine, Nursing, Wellness, Recovery and the Military or Para-Military are Reactively trying to get Challengers to Conform to the Rules and Roles. This is why many Prevention programs like Dare and Anti-Porn Crusades are loved by people in authority but hated by Challengers. They not only fail to convince drug users to stop, it can stimulate them to do more drugs and yet the conservatives want to give them more and more money.

We compulsively try to Rescue the Perishing whether they want to be Rescued or not. As Winston Churchill said of an acquaintance, "Lady ______ loves saving people so much she will push people into the lake just so she can save them." We need to Rescue the Perishing as much as the Perishing need to be Rescued. In Addictions Recovery it is called being Codependent.

It is also why so many Pleasers fail to show Empathy, and Mercy toward those who fail and why the tend to like legalistic preaching, harsh ads on TV and church programs that preach what they consider "Tough Love". Think of most advertisements and programs for losing weight. Do they seem harsh or gracious?

Think back to the man who had two sons. What roles were the sons caught in? How did each show his Reactivity toward authority? Which had the most peace?

All out books and videos try to use this information to train people how to escape the Reactivity Traps. The books on Breaking Free and Family are focused on these issues. Are you ready to look at the roles in your family tree?

The Golden Rule says, "Do for others the same kinds of things you would want them to do for you."

Not the Lead Rule that says, "Do for others what they need to do for themselves." 

Your Family in the Generational Tree

The Power Point slide below shows two marriages with a divorce after two children, a girl and a boy. The mother remarried and that couple had one son. As you can see, once a person is married and has children they can never be fully separated. There will always be a connection with the children, grandchildren, birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc.

As the Bible puts it, "They became 'One Flesh' and even a legal divorce cannot totally separate that pair emotionally, spiritually and generationally. The two children brought forth in that union will always have the genetic and spiritual marks of both parents. No matter what a judge says God has rightly described the facts.

 We have been sharing our thoughts about being "Uptight" in families and how that anxiety/stress is transmitted from generation to generation. In the Bible, the term SIN is used primarily to describe aspects of our being that keep us from being perfect. It does not always mean a conscious willful act. So, when the scripture says our sins will be transmitted from generation to generation it can simply mean that the pain, stress, dysfunctions and imperfections of one generation are transmitted like a virus from generation to generation.

Divorce causes stresses, patterns, fears and emotions to go from generation to generation. But healing is possible.

Have you started drawing your genogram yet? No? Are you waiting a few years until the old folks are dead so you don't disturb the family skeletons? (Remember, if you open the closet door and let the skeletons out you have to dance with them!)

Just as the Bible says, "The sins and blessings are singing and playing music in the children of several generations." So, many of us have discovered in our researching past generations that we have a strange desire to dance a certain dance just like Great Grand Dad did.But healing is possible.

It can be daunting to face the past in your family. Who knows what we may find or the music we might hear. The nice thing is to see patterns in your family tree that can be reversed or prayed over. We must live with some of our inherited traits and spiritual dynamics but there is also hope.

I discovered that my maternal great grand father was an evangelist, preacher and pastor.  My mother and grand mother both said I was just like him. He split of from a Missionary Baptist Church after a Holy Spirit revival in 1894 and planted a new church in 1895. I recently spoke at that church.

I split off from a Baptist Church in 1969 after a Holy Spirit revival and founded a house church in 1970. I had it in my bones it seems to plant my own brand of church very similar to the brand my great grand dad was led to plant 165 years prior to me. I heard some strange music and started to dance to it without knowing Pa Dempsey heard similar music. Is the music you hear deep within coming from past ancestors? Can you face the music? 

If you can face the music get our books, How to Be Me in My Family Tree and Breaking Free from the E book store and download the PDF. files to learn how to heal your branches. 

Maybe your skeleton can help you take the next step in a rising career.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Family Roles in the Bible

The Bible is vastly different from every other holy book. For example it tells the raw and shocking truth about the Heroes of our Faith. Moses was not only a great deliverer but a deceitful killer and coward. Elijah wanted to die and considered suicide. Jacob's mom stole first born son's guaranteed birthright and gave it to her second son. And, the second generation of humans started off with a really dysfunctional family with the Elder Brother killing the younger.

Most old holy books tell incredible stories about the heroic men who ruled Egypt or Greece but did not reveal much about their flaws. The Bible exalts God but not man. Yes, we are created in His image as Ambassadors of the King but we are all fallen and need redemption by a merciful King.  The great exploits are not by the energy of humans but despite our energy and drive. This is why the Bible tells the gory details of individual and family life and always emphasizes we are saved by grace not our works.

For example, take a look at Luke 15 and read the story of the family there. It has everything modern families have. A son tells his dad he wishes he were dead so he could collect his inheritance. The father enables the rebellious son by giving him the inheritance that he does not deserve.  The Elder Brother hates the younger and tries to get him permanently banned from the estate.  So the families' severe dysfunctions are laid bare yet it is a favorite story for Christian preachers.

This is, of course, a parable to show brokenness and redemption with only one good character in the story. How Uptight or Anxious do you think the Luke 15 family was? Take a look at the Power Point below and think about the kids and how peaceful or uptight they were.

Did you come up with a level of Anxiety for that family on the scale? Do you think you are ready to take on my entire book? Be careful! It might bite you if you start thinking you can change your family! How to be Me in My Family Tree

Friday, July 26, 2013

Attacking, Shaming, Advising Obese People to Diet?

NBC News

Making overweight or obese people feel bad about their bodies doesn’t do anything to motivate them to lose weight – actually, a new study finds it does just the opposite.

People who felt discriminated against because of their weight were more likely to either become or stay obese, finds a new report published this week in the journal PLoS ONE.

“Weight discrimination, in addition to being hurtful and demeaning, has real consequences for the individual’s physical health,” says study author Angelina Sutin, a psychologist and assistant professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Fla.

It’s a funny cultural paradox: Most American adults – around 70 percent -- are overweight, and more than a third are obese. And yet research – not to mention popular culture – shows that we perceive obese Americans to be lazy, unsuccessful schlubs with no will power.

In a real-life example, just last month, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller tweeted, “Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth.”

Miller, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, quickly deleted the tweet and apologized, but many don’t feel they need to be sorry for saying cruel things to overweight people – they’re just concerned about the person’s health, that’s all!

A 2011 public health campaign in Georgia used that idea in a series of ads designed to fight childhood obesity, featuring chubby, sad-looking kids with slogans like “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.”

"It’s almost like obesity is the last of the acceptable groups to be teasing," says Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News health and diet editor. Being biased about the overweight or obese, she says, is still very socially acceptable.

Research has already shown that stigmatizing overweight people leads to psychological factors that are likely to contribute to weight gain – things like depression or binge eating. This new paper takes that a step further, linking what the Internet likes to call “fat-shaming” to weight gain and suggesting that you can’t scare people skinny.

“Stigma and discrimination are really stressors, and, unfortunately, for many people, they’re chronic stressors,” says Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. Puhl has studied weight bias and discrimination for 13 years. “And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety -- that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors, so there is a logical connection here in terms of some of the maladaptive coping strategies to try to deal with the stress of being stigmatized.”

Researchers assessed the body mass index (a way of measuring body fat based on height and weight) of 6,157 people, all Americans ages 50 and older, in 2006 and 2010. The people they studied were a mix of sizes -- normal weight, overweight and obese. But they found that the overweight people who reported experiencing weight discrimination were more than twice as likely to become obese by the next check-in in 2010. And people who were already obese in 2006 were three times more likely to remain obese by 2010 if they had experienced weight discrimination.

“Many people, from your sister-in-law to ethics professors, think that the road to weight control runs directly through shame and humiliation,” bioethicist Art Caplan, the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center and an NBC News contributor, said in an email. “Common sense says that this is not likely to be true. Now this important study demonstrates that discriminating and shunning those who are fat does nothing to help them lose weight.”

One of those ethics professors Caplan is talking about is Daniel Callahan, who in January wrote an editorial arguing that one way to fight obesity in America might be to increase social pressure on the very heavy. He says this new study adds to what is a “very confused situation.”

“I suspect that in our society people who are seriously overweight -- not mildly, but seriously -- do feel at a disadvantage, do feel that they’re open to discrimination, do feel that people look down on them,” Callahan says. He wonders if some obese people are internalizing those feelings, and then acting accordingly, making a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. “I’m 83 years old, and I’ve heard for years (about) age discrimination and bias against aging. I haven’t seen that at all. But an awful lot of old people basically lose self-confidence, and it begins to interact with what they think the rest of the world is saying about them.”

If stigmatizing isn’t the way to fight obesity, what about the effect of naming obesity a “disease,” as the American Medical Association did last month? It’s too early to tell, Puhl says, but she has a good feeling about it. “I think time will tell. I think that there is reason to think it will be helpful -- that this could potentially reduce stigma because it may help remove blame that is so often put on people,” Puhl says. “But I think we need to observe this over time to see what happens.”

Moving forward, she hopes that research like this can help public health campaigns “shift focus from just a number on the scale” to a conversation focusing more on individual health. “We want people to engage healthy behaviors, regardless of their body size.”

“Obesity remains a complex problem—part choice and free will mixed in with a smidgen of genetics, sedentary lifestyles and a whole lot of promotion and advertising of fast food, sugary food, high-caloric food and junk food,” Caplan said via email. “It would be nice if guilt was the magic bullet to weight control. It isn't. Nothing is. It took a long time and a lot of bad habits to get the way we are in terms of size and, short of a pharmaceutical miracle, it will take public and heath policy attacking a lot of variables for a long time to slim us back down.”

None of our materials attack, demean or shame people with problems of any kind.We communicate with Genuineness, Respect, Empathy and Warmth. These GREW skills are essential to fostering the inner strength to grow and change.

In fact, the Bible says that Guilt and Shame cause more problems and bad behavior. (Romans 2:2-3) If you want to know how you can change yourself and how others can CHOOSE to change if they want, read our book, Power Christian Thinking. It covers how to Spot and Stop Stinking Thinking.

Time Waits for No One

The last wishes of Alexander the Great: On his death bed, Alexander summoned his generals and told them his three ultimate wishes:

1.   The best doctors should carry his coffin;
2.  The wealth he has accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) should be scattered along the procession to the cemetery, and
3.  His hands should be let loose, hanging outside the coffin for all to see.

One of his generals who was surprised by these unusual requests asked Alexander to explain.

Here is what Alexander the Great had to say:

1.   I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that, in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal
2.  I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that material wealth acquired on earth, stays on earth  
3.  I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted, and that is TIME.

TIME is our most precious treasure because it is LIMITED.  We can produce more wealth, but we cannot produce more time.
When we give someone our time, we actually give a portion of our life that we will never take back.

Our time is our life.