๐Ÿ“– Permission to Feel ๐Ÿ’–

Yesterday I started a new book, Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett, it’s just what I wanted after reading How Emotions Are Made.

How Emotions Are Made had so much evidence that almost everything we thought we knew about emotions in the general public was dead wrong.

The real evidence supported the real-life occurrences of increased mental health problems with kids, growing suicide, the probably mental health problem underlying the American opium epidemic, but it was also hard to wrap my head around.

Wow, so everything I knew and was taught was wrong… that makes sense, but now what?

The now what is this book, Marc worked with answering the same questions I had for 25 years before people wanted to hear it, now he makes sense of how the same evidence that I am chewing on fits in to a larger new world of your family not being emotionally abusive anymore because it’s status quo.

I’ve always wondered why you can tell your dreams to strangers, who for the most part, won’t tear them down, but in your own family, I’m sure there is one or more people who would tell you things no stranger would ever think of saying to you.

Then you grow your own internal voice of emotional abuse and no one has to say anything to you for you to doubt what you feel is normal or valid.

It’s so common I know very few families that don’t do it (two, I’m so glad I saw it first hand or I wouldn’t know what that feels like).

I hear a lot of verbal abuse of millennial by older generations, and there are many many flaws with us, but one thing that is not a flaw is our speaking out about sexual or emotional abuse and beginning a process of transformation in our society where hopefully if abuse does happen from 0-18 and doesn’t get prosecuted, at least it stops then, at the minimum I hope to live through a period where at least adults have the social and emotional power to say I don’t care what support you gave me and how we are related, if you are going to tear me down, I’m not going to be here. I hope I see the death of the abusive family, much more than the first female US president or the first person on Mars. Not everyone creates a family, but we are mostly part of one, if it’s something we all do, I wonder why we haven’t “got it right yet”?

Perhaps the pain of being “wrong’…

I asked my daughter if she thinks I’m a bad parent, she said “yes”.

I got a bit defensive, but 98% I just agree.

And I’m really hoping this book “Permission to Feel” helps me be a good parent.

We all tell our friends, “you’re not a bad mom” or “you’re bad wife,” but there are bad moms (especially Gabriel’s mom right?) and bad wives out there.

According to this book I’m supposed to be able to:

Understand and read feelings from faces as well as words,
Know why the emotions occurred,
Understand how did the emotion affect the person (myself and my kids),
Label the emotions correctly,
Express emotions well to be a model of how to do it,
Regulate how I feel

I think I do regulate well, but I’m not good at reading other people’s emotional lives, or understanding them. When I label wrong my husband and daughter get frustrated with me and when I model they seem super disinterested with trying out processes that work for me.

I think I’m going to have to support my husband through his journey at learning more about emotions and he will have to work with my daughter, because their mental process is so similar, I just don’t think the same tools that work for me will work for them, at least not in the same way.

I’ve noticed meditation helps me, but I only meditate when I’m already calm or half way calm. When I’m really angry or depressed I don’t even try.

So it doesn’t seem fair to tell my depressed family member or furious family member to meditate. Even if meditation was the #1 best way to master sailing the sea of emotions, if boats are only for sale to calm people… I hope we find a different way for my husband and daughter. Or if not, we at least need a step to move them to calm before they start where I usually start, a transition step.

I’m trying not to read more than I can absorb, today I read so many truths:

1. A 30-minute argument with your significant other slows healing 1 day
2. The stress of anticipating a public speech doubles allergy symptoms
3. Sad moods make illness symptoms more severe and susceptibility to catching them x3.
4. Crying caries stress hormones out of the body.
5. Gratitude increases oxygen in the body speeds healing, boosts the immune system.
6. For 1 year falling in love improves memory via nerve growth factor and restores nerve system.
7. Laughter enhances mood, releases beta-endorphins, stimulates growth hormones, and reduces heart attack risk.
8. Anticipating laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline.

– Marc Brackett

A quote that I liked:

Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at any cost.
Emotional health is facing reality at any cost.

– M Scott Peck

I kind of believe that the purpose on a whole of our millennial generation is to say, enough emotional sickness. I fully understand the frontier days were about survival, women, children and men as well suffered abuse to survive at all, the first generations of Americans were making life work as best they could, WW2, the great depression, a huge proportional of people has unavoidable PTSD, we wouldn’t be here without their sacrifice and hard work, yet we don’t want to continue broken habits now that the larger world is completely changed, I think it’s time for the world of the family and individual to change as well. I think it’s time for a war on emotional abuse within the family. At least in my family.

And it starts with me, going to war with me.

I knew I wouldn’t want to hit my kids, I didn’t.

This year I didn’t want to yell anymore, I stopped, that was my 2020 resolution.

But I have no idea why I never thought to be nice?

If one end of the spectrum is abuse, then “acceptable” hitting, then yelling, then verbal abuse, rudeness, meanness, talking, acceptance, emotional empowerment, mentoring, support and being nice.

I don’t know why I didn’t even think of being nice, rather then “stop yelling.”

After I did stop, I wondered what the next goal was, I though maybe “stop being rude,” “stop saying mean things,” but I realized that was a void, a lack of a habit, not an actual action, the positive habit. I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be doing instead of yelling…

It’s not just me, I just visited a friend who according to them, had been yelling at their only child all day to clean up…

That’s a horrible day.

It actually wasn’t clean, so the whole day was spent, not disciplining, not cleaning, but just being ignored and unhappy…

That’s been my day too.

Then I really started taking away toys (without drama), and I realized I never needed to have a problem.

Either my daughter cleans up whatever she wants to have, which is fine, or I box it away for someday that she might both want it and also be able to manage it.

Now when I grab something I’m cleaning I decide if I want to be responsible for cleaning it or if I want to put it away and not have to clean it everyday.

If that’s unfair I don’t see how?

No calling her a slob, no throwing it away, no giving back and forth everyday or week or month…

It’s just when you are ready to be responsible for the item you will be able to chose to access it.

I worked for years and when I became a stay at home mom my husband expected (maybe subconsciously) that I would suddenly want to clean up a lot after other people and I actually don’t. So I don’t.

He also hopes that I develop my skills as a writer or programmer to someday make money from home.

I am not willing to hold the pressure and expectations of being someone who is “developing to renter the workforce” and also someone who is “developing to be a better stay at home parent”. Complete refusal.

I would perhaps do what I can of either, but not both.

I’m not already doing a job ie stay at home parent and also preparing to get a job (meaning I don’t have one as a stay at home parent.

I’m really not sure if parenting is or isn’t a job. It’s hard to say, since there is no income, yet there sure are job duties and hours of work completed.

But I’m not going both be a better maid, since I’m “not doing anything” and also try to develop job skills…

It’s so weird to me that my husband and I have these problems of ping ponging expectations, because I’ve always been clearly not that lady who would cook, clean, take care of the kids and pick up part time work at the same time. I will cook and take care the kids, if he cooks I would clean and take care of the kids, if I didn’t have kids I would pick up work. I will basically do any two with a smile, but not all of them and he has always wanted me to do all of them with a smile (like his mom). So I’ve never been his mom, never said I would be, never been willing to, but he just can’t stop wanting me to be. I’ve wanted to, but I can’t, I can get type A productivity from myself, I wasn’t born to be that way. It kills me to try and when I was able to and saw him contributing so little of the overall duties, it made me hate him, so either I don’t do everything or I do, but I will be a single mother, rather than a married-single mother.

We’ve talked about it many times, it’s not something he wants to do, something he feels stuck doing, like when I used to yell at my daughter, while I was pregnant.

I’m not trying to shame him, I’m just trying to voice a problem in marriage that either people could watch out for developing or tell me how they solved…

One thing is shoes, I picked glass off the carpet yesterday, my husband works with machines, he tracks in glass, I ask him to take off his shoes before he walks on the carpet, he won’t.

I can’t even ask anymore. I vacuum the glass, I hope I get it before my 1 year old eats it or steps on it. I find it sad that I’m too sick of the cycle to even bring it up again.

I’m Asian, we don’t wear our shoes in the house, my husband is Mexican, his particular family doesn’t not wear shoes in the house… I’ve told him how I feel about it, that it increases the amount of debris that gets into our kids area, that I don’t enjoy spending the time vacuuming as often due to him bring the shoes in, that I have tripped carrying the baby once at night when his shoes were in the middle of the hall, I don’t know if he doesn’t care, but he doesn’t change. I have a boundary, I express it, my spouse doesn’t respect it, I discuss it, from there I don’t know where to go?

I can imagine hiding his shoes, but um, it seems disrespectful to treat an adult like that. What I want is a spouse who will respect my boundaries, but I don’t have that, I’m not ready for a divorce over it, but nor do I want to adjust to it, I don’t know what to do about that yet. On paper, the next step to having boundaries is defending my boundaries, but how to do that in a respectful way I have no idea, so I live with these little things that build one millimeter of resentment up every day and it slowly becomes a mountain of distance between us.

The book made these claims that I have directly experienced, it’s difficult to discuss these things in a way that isn’t complaining, in a way that is sharing observations of life without being a victim, but I do want to say to people reading the book, these things do match my anecdotal evidence, this is not just a story, it’s something that happens to people and can happen to you, something to be mindful of from both the perspective of the person who distressed by arguing with a significant other, who doesn’t like arguing, that it isn’t right or fair to scapegoat a stressful day at work onto someone who isn’t fine with it (common yes, possible yes, just no, decent no).

I discus my husband because he plays this huge role in my reality, it would be hard to explore our interaction leaving his half blank, but it’s not that I don’t appreciate him. I wouldn’t be with him if I didn’t love him. I just think we could do better, both of us, and it takes me a lot of anger to be able to uncover where my boundaries are or should be, since they are a bit like a reef in the dark to me.

1. A 30-minute argument with your significant other slows healing 1 day.

I had this really bad digestive problem during the time my husband and I had our first apartment and I really think it healed slower than it needed to because it happened at the same time as we were fighting like cats and dogs trying to match his family’s version of normal living and my family’s version of normal living together (it couldn’t be done, we just had to find a new version together). It started on a trip, a very happy trip, I don’t think it happened because of stress, I think it happened because of Giardia or some other traveler’s diarrhea, but I do think it lasted years because it coincided with a time of stupid constant arguments. I wish I was better at communicating, stupid constant arguments take two people to have them, I could have been the person to be more respectful and less reactive in hindsight, but the point of me talking about it is to say, I really think it’s true. Rather than say “all couple’s argue” as an excuse, I hope I and everyone starts to understand that engaging in obviously too much argument is doing damage on some level, maybe small, but real to the person you love’s health and it’s really an excuse for not learning how to communicate well.

An alternative to arguing is talking, it has a higher rate of results for me 70% instead of 0%. When I don’t get what I want through talking, arguing hasn’t made it work either. If arguing does work for you, what’s the cost to the other person? Is that fine? Maybe it is. But if arguing doesn’t even get you what you want, maybe consider quitting?

2. The stress of anticipating a public speech doubles allergy symptoms.

I had allergies (verified by blood tests) for years, I didn’t give public speeches, but knowing I would have to be on call worsened it when my phone broke after I accidentally washed it, I didn’t replace it and my well being increased so much. It’s not for everybody, but it’s not impossible to live without a phone, for some people (like Stephen King and myself) it’s a better life either not having a phone or having one with extreme limitation. I don’t know how much being on call for work or for arguments by whatever family member wanted to start one affected my allergies, but I could see that when the stress improved (not to perfection) I got better. I had all the allergies on the blood test in the past, now I have none. The body can heal quite well if whatever is harming it is removed well.

3. Sad moods make illness symptoms more severe and susceptibility to catching them x3.

This is not me, I’m not too sad (I’m more angry or calm), but it’s my sister. She averages three times the flus and colds as everyone else in the family, year after year after year, I’ve always wanted to be able to help her turn off her depression, but I think I’ve ever been able to help at all, not sure if it’s just me or if it’s something that needs to be done from the inside out, or if it’s just a bad gut biome, which will have a cure in the future, I don’t know, but we care for her. She went to the psychiatrist, she tried the meds for months, no improvement, she went through the recommended hoops, but they didn’t help for her.

4. Crying caries stress hormones out of the body.

This is a horrible point of marital conflict between my spouse and I. His family says “no llores” don’t cry and I completely support a baby having the option to cry. An older child can be encouraged to find emotional copping, but I’m just 100% against the biggest component of his mom’s child-raising philosophy so it’s defiantly cost us peace in our marriage for me to try to support my children’s right to emotions and I hope I was not wrong because it was not without a cost. One thing people who don’t want crying are trying to get is sleep, that I agree with, I try to soothe the baby during sleep hours, but not by saying don’t cry and not with the attitude of “shut up now” more like “how can I get you more comfortable so we can all rest”. Another thing they want is emotional resilience, but having people care about you and be willing to hear you out is what creates that, so it’s unfortunate that they prevent the goal they are seeking with a method that has no evidence to work because of the logical fallacy if it’s commonplace it’s right. Instead of strong men and women, it creates people who refuse to report being weak, while they are often weak as hell. My husband’s father left his family with three kids when he was 1 year old, supposedly because he was impatient with how long my husband’s diarrhea bought was lasting. Wow, what a strong man that isn’t… My mom left because she fell in love with a guy who she felt attracted to, who didn’t want to commit to her, couldn’t support her and she didn’t care so much about providing a stable environment for her two kids. Is it a win for gender equality? It didn’t feel like it at the moment…

5. Gratitude increases oxygen in the body speeds healing, boosts the immune system.

This is the most important one for me to talk about because the others were commonly spoken about, perhaps not believed, but spoken about much at all. Being sad can potentially kill you, but it’s also part of who we are, our experience, gratitude can potentially save your life and it’s free and encouraged. I’m not saying don’t be sad, I’m saying do be grateful. Perhaps the death of a loved one is a good example of chasing sadness with gratitude. When we remember the good, it doesn’t mean we don’t wish there was more, but without doing that seemingly simple thing we go through a greater pain than we need to. Which reminds me of when my son was born. I delivered him naturally at home, no pain killers, and then had a headache and took an Advil. It was kind of funny to go through the larger pain without medicine and take the medicine for the smaller one, but the reason is I’m not sure pain medicine was safe for the baby during delivery and I felt sure it was for the headache. So for me, there was no reason not to take an Advil for a headache and there was a reason for me not to take medicine for the delivery (that I’m not sure is right or not). I was told that the increase in pain killers for delivery corresponded to an increase in drug addicts possibly not coincidently and it worried me, totally not saying it’s for sure or trying to shame other people, but it worried me and affected my choice. Anyways. Living without gratitude is like living without pain medication, it’s your choice, you can, but why? For many people it seems out of reach, like either you are or are not “that person” but I know it’s not true now, it’s possible to find your own way to be grateful and it’s so wonderful a feeling once it stops being awkwardly hard. Kind of like rolling an R, but better. I think when cats purr or dogs lie in the sun they get the kind of feeling gratitude gifts me and it’s really a beautiful, very understated life skill that is available for anyone.

6. For 1 year falling in love improves memory via nerve growth factor and restores nerve system.

It’s funny, I used to talk with my husband about our favorite times and we would remember everything from our first year, a bit of our second and almost nothing after… but that’s consistent with this evidence about nerve growth factor. I also felt like I was healing as a human being, and perhaps to some extent, I was since I was so inspired to be the best person I could and I also was able to actually restore my brain. It felt like I was healing from a lifetime of being unloved and unwanted by parents, and maybe my brain was actually growing some new social skills. When I fell in love with my husband it was, the feeling of being loved for the first time, a feeling of this is what human life is supposed to be like, someone cares about me, I have someone to care about. It was as if the world was constantly covered with golden dust, I didn’t see it, but it felt that way. It felt like no one died of poverty or disease like no one got trafficked, no wars were going on… it wasn’t true, but it created a feeling of world peace in my heart for many years and I never forget that. Even though today, we have such a typical “I Love Lucy” kind of status quo dissatisfaction, I never forget the beginning. The first smile, the look in his eye, that I was the most interesting and beautiful wonder of this universe (that I haven’t seen in years…) I remember it completely – thank you never growth factor for saving me that memento.

7. Laughter enhances mood, releases beta-endorphins, stimulates growth hormones, and reduces heart attack risk.

Laughter is the best medicine, maybe not just a saying, but true? I don’t know how far it goes, but lately that I can’t exercise, because I’m kind of nursing myself back to health still I naturally turned to comedy to look for a healthy substitute to the dopamine.

Dopamine isn’t bad, it’s necessary.

I worry that by misunderstanding addiction we are missing our chance to have productive conversations and find solutions that really work.

-Cyrus McCandless

I was going to say I’m grateful that I don’t have anyone addicted in my family, and it’s true, but then I remembered my mom. We are now, so distant, there is a gap, a hesitation of my brain to even remember her… At the end of that TED Talk Cyrus says that addiction isn’t a moral failing, it’s a biological one and I felt guilty without knowing why.

I’ve always judged my mother harshly, for her abuse of myself, even more of siblings and even more of non-related victims as if abuse “should occur” with family only, not strangers!… but I judged her also for being a drug addict, like she chose it over us, quite possibly she didn’t “choose it”.

My mother, the bipolar, anorexic, drug-addict, pedophile… wherever you are I no longer blame for being a drug addict. Actually, I hope you find peace, though I value the safety of children so very much higher than your freedom.

When I watched the TedTalk today the quote “I worry that by misunderstanding addiction we are missing our chance to have productive conversations and find solutions that really work,” really struck me as the feeling I have about talking about my family problems, my marriage problems. I’m trying to either have a productive conversation or at least be a part of a world where those conversations can be open conversations so much more than I want to “complain”.

I think it’s a fine line between “this happened” (discussion) and “this happened to me” (complaint-victim-hood).

There is also a fine line between “this isn’t the time and place for this discussion” and “shh! We don’t talk about that ever.

So perhaps laughter can save your life from a heart attack? Maybe. I know calcium supplements can kill you from a heart attack, that was surprising. Germany studied it and did not see it coming. The study is attacked, it only studied ย 23,980 men and women… seems like a lot to me. The authors reported that users of mixed calcium supplements had an 86% increased risk, well that’s just… um, a lot. But that’s the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg), most places are still trying to sell calcium supplements… but I’ve been really suspicious about them since college where my largest project was to search for the largest probably osteoporosis culprit and it really seemed to be “excess calcium.”

8. Anticipating laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline.

This was cool, I try to make my son laugh everyday at least once, but even if I don’t, if I even make him expect to laugh I’ve created a slightly better life for him. For about a week I’ve been trying and failing to watch comedy every day, it seems not that hard, but all new habits are hard, and even thought I didn’t, my life has been improved by thinking I was going to watch comedy for the past few days.

I think I’m very often like, “this book is life changing,” this is going to be the book for me, that lets me “really start to live” to suck the marrow out of life like Henry David Thoreau did, just sit there by the lake sucking away, not giving a damn about what haters think, this is going to be “that book”…

But really, I think is the book for me, to fill the gaping hole in my life skills that nice people tell is already just fine, but that still stinks.

That reminds me of getting my wisdom teeth removed, it left me with a gaping hole, food would get in, be trapped by the bowl shape of the healing wound, and stink… I had to flush the trapped food out with water, I’m hoping this book is the “curved tip irrigation syringe” I need to flush the rotten part out of myself.

Because I do suck as a parent, at least at a part of it, and I think by denying or misunderstanding the ways I am a bad wife and mom, I am missing my chance to have productive conversations and find solutions that really work.

74,000 drug deaths in the U.S. in 2017, it’s getting worse, but we continue to take the same punitive approach under the presumption that if we are just hard enough on addicts, they’ll stop, and we’ve servery limited the kinds of treatments that are available and the availability of those treatments and we’ve been very slow to adopt new approaches from the science of addiction where we’ve made huge progress in the last 30 years if our current approach worked don’t you think things would be getting better instead of worse?

Marketers and journalists have perpetuated a huge misunderstanding that what feels like your addiction to your phone is the same thing as addictive drugs.

-Cyrus McCandless

Yes that matters to me, but what matters more is seeing how true it is of my family life.

It’s getting worse (the distance between my husband and I, the closeness between my daughter and I), but we (my husband and I) continue to take the same punitive approach (putting my daughter in her room, taking away toys and games) under the presumption that if we are just hard enough on addicts our daughter, they’ll stop, and we’ve servery limited the kinds of treatments that are available for feeling frustrated (getting outside, seeing friends) and the availability of those treatments and we’ve been very slow to adopt new approaches from the science of addiction learning and emotional intelligence, where we’ve made huge progress in the last 30 years if our current approach worked don’t you think things would be getting better instead of worse?

Marketers and journalists have perpetuated a huge misunderstanding that “want” and “like” are married

We don’t have to want what we like.

We don’t have to like what we want.

Dopamine doesn’t make us feel good or be happy, it doesn’t tell us how much we like things, it teaches us how and where to get the things we need or like.

Can โ‰  Should

Like โ‰  Want

Dopamine responds to the signs I have learned that predicts the appearance of what surprised me in the past, not what actually happens.

That’s why very young kids probably love Christmas, and older one’s not, it was a nice surprise at a point, then it became a routine without surprise, then possibly a routine that wasn’t even rewarding at all.

That’s why falling in love was so great, I completely didn’t expect it to happen to me. Then it did, someone loved me, it was amazing. Now perhaps my husband does me love me, that’s not surprising at all, it’s kind of expected. Our marriage became routine and isn’t very rewarding at all at this current point in time. But when he does tiny things like buying me two fries without asking, it’s magic! I guess I do love surprises and never knew it before.

I recommend you check out Cyrus McCandless’ TedTalk, it deals with real addiction, but also your brain, because your brain works based on dopamine too and I think it’s the main culprit of hedonistic adaptation that turned the wonder of going to the moon the first time, into the boredom and criticism of the second time. It explains a lot.

I’ve been singing “I love you, I love you, I love you, just the way you are,” to my kids (ripped off from Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood) instead of calling them pretty or handsome, and they love it, even the 1 year old… it’s kind of “cheesy” perhaps for me to say this, but let me say it to you guys too, maybe for someone, it’s the first time…

Readers, I love you, I love you, I love you, just the way you are.

If it’s silly or cheesy, that’s fine, I’ll be silly and cheesy, instead of just being mean all the time. ๐Ÿ’ž

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