Monday, May 8, 2017

Why selfish mothers tend to raise selfish sons

Narcissism is a genuine problem in today's society. People largely make choices on the basis of their own interests and well being. Doing so makes sense in some cases but not others. Choosing a career on the basis of your preferences and likes and dislikes is much better than choosing a career on the basis of your parents' preferences and likes and dislikes. But there are also cases where narcissism is not backed up by any good reasons.

Although people of all genders become increasingly more narcissistic, there is a form of narcissism that seems to afflict men more than women. This is a form of narcissism that stems from a very close and unhealthy mother-son attachment relationship. Data indicate that men who were raised by narcissistic mothers have a slightly greater risk of becoming narcissistic themselves than men raised by non-narcissistic mothers.

This may not come as a surprise. We often end up being just like the parents we once despised and swore we would never become. But in the case of the sons of narcissistic mothers, this tendency is even stronger—although there are also many cases in which the child of a narcissistic mother becomes co-dependent rather than truly narcissistic.

The narcissistic mother will often start out by idealizing her son and putting him on a pedestal—almost like a display object. This will bolster the young child's ego. But unless he continues to please his mother, which is unlikely in adolescence, the mother begins to resent him, which in turn creates resentment in the young boy. The only way he can avoid feeling emotionally castrated is by building up his ego to an even greater extent.

This creates young men who always put themselves first, who feel entitled and who are dismissive of others. Their feeling of grandiosity is a facade that covers deep insecurity and existential angst.

The reason that sons of narcissistic mothers are more likely than daughters to become narcissistic themselves is that mother-son relationships are fundamentally different from mother-daughter relationships. As several prominent authors have argued, raising a boy as a woman is not the same as raising a girl. There comes a time when the boy will come across to the mother as a mysterious and dangerous testosterone-filled creature that almost appears to belong to an entirely different species. It is this failure to identify with the adolescent male that makes the relationship more likely to go sour, forcing the boy to find his own path in life and build up a grandiose appearance that isn't easily threatened by the mother's huge ego.

Of course, a lot of the research done on mother-son relationships were completed at a time when the mother was more likely than the father to be the primary caregiver. Perhaps the persistent increase in narcissism in our society is in part due to the fact that the father often plays a greater role in his children's lives than a couple of decades ago. Narcissistic fathers then are likely to foster narcissistic children as well.

Can we break the trend and teach people to become more altruistic? If narcissism is grounded in a childhood attachment patterns, this is going to be difficult. But there may be ways to teach emotional intelligence to children outside of the home, for instance, as an obligatory component of elementary school. We teach children math, science and English in order to develop their brains. We include physical education to ensure healthy bodies. It would only be natural to teach children to become emotionally intelligent adults as well.

A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, With 7 Practices

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. I’m not talking about the short-term gratification of pleasures like sex, drugs or gambling (though I’m not knocking them), but something that will bring true and lasting happiness. The kind that sticks.

The key to developing compassion in your life is to make it a daily practice.

Meditate upon it in the morning (you can do it while checking email), think about it when you interact with others, and reflect on it at night. In this way, it becomes a part of your life. Or as the Dalai Lama also said, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Definition
Let’s use the Wikipedia definition of Compassion:
Compassion is an emotion that is a sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another; to show special kindness to those who suffer. Compassion essentially arises through empathy, and is often characterized through actions, wherein a person acting with compassion will seek to aid those they feel compassionate for.

Compassionate acts are generally considered those which take into account the suffering of others and attempt to alleviate that suffering as if it were one’s own. In this sense, the various forms of the Golden Rule are clearly based on the concept of compassion.
Compassion differs from other forms of helpful or humane behavior in that its focus is primarily on the alleviation of suffering.

Benefits
Why develop compassion in your life? Well, there are scientific studies that suggest there are physical benefits to practicing compassion — people who practice it produce 100 percent more DHEA, which is a hormone that counteracts the aging process, and 23 percent less cortisol — the “stress hormone.”
But there are other benefits as well, and these are emotional and spiritual. The main benefit is that it helps you to be happier, and brings others around you to be happier. If we agree that it is a common aim of each of us to strive to be happy, then compassion is one of the main tools for achieving that happiness. It is therefore of utmost importance that we cultivate compassion in our lives and practice compassion every day.

How do we do that? This guide contains 7 different practices that you can try out and perhaps incorporate into your everyday life.

7 Compassion Practices
Morning ritual. Greet each morning with a ritual. Try this one, suggest by the Dalai Lama: “Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” Then, when you’ve done this, try one of the practices below.

Empathy Practice. The first step in cultivating compassion is to develop empathy for your fellow human beings. Many of us believe that we have empathy, and on some level nearly all of us do. But many times we are centered on ourselves (I’m no exception) and we let our sense of empathy get rusty. Try this practice: Imagine that a loved one is suffering. Something terrible has happened to him or her. Now try to imagine the pain they are going through. Imagine the suffering in as much detail as possible. After doing this practice for a couple of weeks, you should try moving on to imagining the suffering of others you know, not just those who are close to you.

Commonalities practice. Instead of recognizing the differences between yourself and others, try to recognize what you have in common. At the root of it all, we are all human beings. We need food, and shelter, and love. We crave attention, and recognition, and affection, and above all, happiness. Reflect on these commonalities you have with every other human being, and ignore the differences. One of my favorite exercises comes from a great article from Ode Magazine — it’s a five-step exercise to try when you meet friends and strangers. Do it discreetly and try to do all the steps with the same person. 

With your attention geared to the other person, tell yourself:
Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
Step 2: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
Step 3: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”
Step 4: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.”
Step 5: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

Relief of suffering practice. Once you can empathize with another person, and understand his humanity and suffering, the next step is to want that person to be free from suffering. This is the heart of compassion — actually the definition of it. Try this exercise: Imagine the suffering of a human being you’ve met recently. Now imagine that you are the one going through that suffering. Reflect on how much you would like that suffering to end. Reflect on how happy you would be if another human being desired your suffering to end, and acted upon it. Open your heart to that human being and if you feel even a little that you’d want their suffering to end, reflect on that feeling. That’s the feeling that you want to develop. With constant practice, that feeling can be grown and nurtured.

Act of kindness practice. Now that you’ve gotten good at the 4th practice, take the exercise a step further. Imagine again the suffering of someone you know or met recently. Imagine again that you are that person, and are going through that suffering. Now imagine that another human being would like your suffering to end — perhaps your mother or another loved one. What would you like for that person to do to end your suffering? Now reverse roles: you are the person who desires for the other person’s suffering to end. Imagine that you do something to help ease the suffering, or end it completely. Once you get good at this stage, practice doing something small each day to help end the suffering of others, even in a tiny way. Even a smile, or a kind word, or doing an errand or chore, or just talking about a problem with another person. Practice doing something kind to help ease the suffering of others. When you are good at this, find a way to make it a daily practice, and eventually a throughout-the-day practice.

Those who mistreat us practice. The final stage in these compassion practices is to not only want to ease the suffering of those we love and meet, but even those who mistreat us. When we encounter someone who mistreats us, instead of acting in anger, withdraw. Later, when you are calm and more detached, reflect on that person who mistreated you. Try to imagine the background of that person. Try to imagine what that person was taught as a child. Try to imagine the day or week that person was going through, and what kind of bad things had happened to that person. Try to imagine the mood and state of mind that person was in — the suffering that person must have been going through to mistreat you that way. And understand that their action was not about you, but about what they were going through. Now think some more about the suffering of that poor person, and see if you can imagine trying to stop the suffering of that person. And then reflect that if you mistreated someone, and they acted with kindness and compassion toward you, whether that would make you less likely to mistreat that person the next time, and more likely to be kind to that person. Once you have mastered this practice of reflection, try acting with compassion and understanding the next time a person treats you. Do it in little doses, until you are good at it. Practice makes perfect.

Evening routine. I highly recommend that you take a few minutes before you go to bed to reflect upon your day. Think about the people you met and talked to, and how you treated each other. Think about your goal that you stated this morning, to act with compassion towards others. How well did you do? What could you do better? What did you learn from your experiences today? And if you have time, try one of the above practices and exercises.

These compassionate practices can be done anywhere, any time. At work, at home, on the road, while traveling, while at a store, while at the home of a friend or family member. By sandwiching your day with a morning and evening ritual, you can frame your day properly, in an attitude of trying to practice compassion and develop it within yourself. And with practice, you can begin to do it throughout the day, and throughout your lifetime.


This, above all, with bring happiness to your life and to those around you.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

I'm an Addict.

It's been a while.. super motivated about the next few days, new year, my birthday, etc... I want to put this on paper. It's real, it's healing for me. Hearing other stories can be inspiring, maybe this one can help someone out there make a positive decision moving into 2017! 

I started this blog to get attention. I had excersized every possible means to gain access to my son, Nikko, and needed our story out. I was concerned, distraught, angry... I needed someone to believe me, and there was no other way. 

When Arizona's former osteopath proposed recently, it was nice of her to reach out to me. Rather than reading it online or hearing from someone else, she called and I will always be grateful. This man will be in my sons life and I was appreciative the heads up. 

So here's the deal... here's my story. I need to hold myself accountable in order to continue moving forward, and that is exactly what I'm doing. I'm an addict. That's it. I'm a fucking addict. I'm not addicted to alcohol or to pain medication. My excuse has been the bulimia (I've suffered with for more than half  my life), but it's more than that. I overuse,  over analyze and overdo everything in my life. I grew up in a not so perfect environment...  self medicating was normal, maybe genetic. 

At 5'11 and 114 lbs, unhealthy, and super depressed, I checked myself into an an eating disorder facility in MD... After a month, I headed to a more specific facility in OK. It was a random location, very expensive, and very "hospital-like", but the staff was amazing... I became friends with incredible people! I have accepted the truth about my struggles. The lies I'd been telling myself didn't fit real life... 

After another month, returning home to have emergency surgery, I had a serious life breakdown. Wandering WTF was happing to me, feeling sorry for myself, a very special woman in my life said, "Therapy is not enough! Meetings are not enough! Yoga is not enough! Change your beliefs and quit waiting for a change. Make a change!"

I have made a change. It's been a long struggle, but my mind is thinking differently. I don't need to overexercise or toxify my body to feel validation. We can make ourselves happy, or at least can work toward it.

It's hard going to meetings. It sucks opening up to my psychiatrist. .. and it fucking hurts so much that my son is in London and I'm not. It's really hard trying to stay happy when life seems turned around. .. But I'm doing it! You know what, it's working.. it's working!!!

I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes and ruined friendships because of my vulnerabilities... but I'm going to continue working to be the best for me and those around me. 

Thank you for your support.. Family, Friends, Rabbi... Strangers. Thank you! 

Just like the political situation in the US, life may be a nightmare! But it may also  not be... Either way, I'm looking forward to tomorrow!