july 24,-2010-you-are-the-center-of-your-universe

You are the Center of Your Universe

Warning! This will appear to be a very political edition of this newsletter. As you read it, pay attention to any emotional and physical reactions. This is the mind-body connection at work. How long do you hold onto something? Are you a black and white sort of person as in something is all right or all wrong? Do you have similar reactions throughout the day? Now ... to the articles.

Have you ever had someone say, "Who do you think you are? The Center of the Universe?" A question meant to put you down and put you in your place.

The truth is, you are the center of your universe. Everything you see, everything you experience comes to you and you respond to it.

Your memories, your attention, your beliefs form and fashion everything around you. This is from the most mundane ... how you label or see colors ... to great moral issues.

The other day I was "accused" of relativism. This was from a woman who said her sister was lying about having a painful and abusive childhood. She was adamant that no such horrors happened to her sister. There would be no attempt to imagine what it must have been like for a child to grow up in the environment her sister described.

I attempted to be logical ... which doesn't work with anyone so overwrought they can't move from their emotional brain. Finally I told her she could have the last word if she wanted, but that I wouldn't respond.

One woman described horrors in her life. Another implied the family was just great. Who is right? Each had her own experience of her family, of her parents. In my 3+ decades as a therapist I can tell you it is not at all unusual to hear siblings talking about the home they grew up in and for me to think there were 2, 3 or even 4 sets of parents living in the same house at the same time.

If you want to know how uncertain eye witness testimony is, try to get a family to agree upon exactly what happened during a particular traumatic event.

You are going to have a different interpretation of specific events. Your interpretation can change your memory of what happened. It's good to remember this next time someone insists it happened differently than you remember it. Sure, s/he could be lying, but s/he could also be telling her truth without any malice.

Another woman wrote me absolutely incensed that I had written in a metaphysical article that some people needed animal protein. She pretty much told me I couldn't be spiritual to have said such a thing as all highly evolved spiritual beings (she used a metaphysical term) knew vegetarianism is the "right" way to eat.

I've met a number of people people who are in deep agony about how animals are used for food. Their pain is palpable and intense. The way I can understand how she feels is to think of someone eating a beloved pet. I can touch her pain and grief that way.

How we view the world, with rigidity or relativism, has a direct effect upon how we feel. If we are more accepting of others and their views, we are able to stay more emotionally balanced. If we are less accepting our emotions will be rolling up and down with the tide ... now if that isn't mixing metaphors I don't know what is.

OK, so this wasn't very political. I was preparing you for the next article 🙂


The Power of Beliefs or Viewpoint

There's nothing like politics to give you an example of the power of beliefs. I'm going to demonstrate this by using a volatile topic.

Just to ruffle some feathers, let's take abortion.

I learned years ago there was no use trying to dissuade someone from their particular stand on this issue. You have the pro-life folks, also known as the anti-choice folks, who act from the belief that life begins at conception and abortion is murder.

If you truly hold this belief, you will do everything in your power to stop abortion ... some to the paradox of taking life to save life.

The pro-choice, aka the anti-life folks, take their stand from the belief that a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body.Women have been treated as objects for centuries and their right to determine whether to keep or remove a pregnancy is their choice. (The pro-life group will say it is not just "pregnancy" as in a blob of tissue, but it is human life.)

Depending upon what belief you're working from, you will form a whole complement of arguments to support your view that are logically consistent from your premise.


Except for the highly charged topic, it isn't any different than the emotion in the sister who claimed her sibling was lying about the abuse ... or the vegetarian in agony because of the death of animals.


If you can't find common ground on the basic premise of your discussion, you will not be able to exchange ideas in any productive manner.

What I find fascinating about the abortion topic is what I consider the inconsistencies on both sides. One will say "pro-life" but believe in capital punishment and not support government programs such as WIC to be sure the growing life is healthy after birth.

The other says "pro-choice" but is incensed when a group will attempt to find a way to assist women in carrying the pregnancy to term and either parent the child themselves or make an adoption plan.

Viewpoints are different. They come from beliefs. They may be right or wrong to you, but they are not to the other person. Not wanting to believe their is another "side" is the stuff wars and inquisitions are made of.

And here we are back to relativism ... Are there any hard and fast truths? Is everything relative?



Last month I suggested you work on changing negative self-talk.

This month my suggestion is for you to walk in someone else's shoes.

I admit this is not an easy exercise. You have to be a pretty good actor. A good actor is someone who is able to lose themselves in a role. S/he can play the villain or the saint.

My brother was on the debate team in high school. He had to be prepared to debate for or against any issue. That meant he had to know the pros and cons of any issue in the news.

He couldn't be just a republican or just a democrat. He had to know both sides and speak for either side convincingly.

You job, if you choose to stretch yourself, is to choose someone you disagree with and "put on" their beliefs. Feel what it's like to believe that way.

What changes would happen in your life with these beliefs?

What would your body feel like? How would you respond to people?

Would you be in more or less fear? Would you more or less happy?



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