July Newsletter

Welcome to my July newsletter and Happy Summertime!

Hopefully, most of us are enjoying warm weather, barbeques, and outdoor fun. Many of my conversations lately have been about leveling up and optimizing the life we have been given. I don’t know if the energy of summer is responsible, but the vibe I’m feeling is wanting to take a juicy bite out of what life has to offer, step fully into our greatest selves, and thrive!

I’ve written an article titled, “FEAR IS POWER”, found in this issue. You’ll discover how to not only utilize fear to your advantage, but to also go out and find fear, look him in the eyes, and run toward him at full speed. Read (or listen) on to find out more. In this issue, you’ll also learn about Dr. Victoria Beckner, a psychologist who expertly teaches why we become afraid, what to do to conquer our fears, and how to become a master of them.

 


Featured Article:

Fear is Power

On a daily basis, I work with my clients on the concept of not just tolerating, but truly and fully embracing fear. For many, radical welcoming and leaning into the emotion of fear is the key needed to unlock the door to freedom. Still, I hear many objections:

Why would I want to feel more fear? It’s awful!”

“Um, can’t I just find a workaround? I mean, why would I want to dive face-first into fear if I can find an easier route?”


Featured Professional:

Victoria Beckner

Victoria Beckner, Ph.D., is a San Francisco-based psychologist who wrote the book on treating post traumatic stress, literally.  Dr. Beckner is an expert in conquering anxiety and all kinds of fear-based challenges and disorders. Even if you do not suffer from PTSD, I recommend this book.. Dr. Beckner explains fear and trauma (which we all experience at some point, in one form or another) in a user-friendly way, including many real-life examples, and provides a positive, encouraging outlook. Dr. Beckner explains how we get through trauma and experience growth, meaning, and empowerment.

 


WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on my YouTube page

 


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


Fear is Power

 

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

On a daily basis, I work with my clients on the concept of not just tolerating, but truly and fully embracing fear. For many, radical welcoming and leaning into the emotion of fear is the key needed to unlock the door to freedom. Still, I hear many objections:

“Why would I want to feel more fear? It’s awful!”

“Um, can’t I just find a workaround? I mean, why would I want to dive face-first into fear if I can find an easier route?”

Great questions! Even after these questions are answered, and my clients and I have strategized ways they can welcome more fear into their lives to meet their goals, they often report doing better when they are feeling LESS fear! They tell me, with no sense of irony, that doing better means feeling less fear, not more.

What the what?!

By the way, my clients are AWESOME. These are brave people who work with me to face difficulties and get more of what they want in life. They are individuals who want to make the most out of the time they’ve got, and are courageous enough to invite me into their lives to help. They sign up for walking through emotional pain to get to the other side.

So, this idea that “decreased fear = success” is not them being resistant or obstinate. It is an indicator that this concept is tough to learn.

As humans, we are programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Well folks, fear = pain. Fear can feel literally mind-numbing (our frontal lobes shut down and stop firing when emotion is high). Fear can make us sweat, cry, scream, and want to jump out of our skin. In short, feeling fear is no joke.

It doesn’t help that the urge associated with the emotion of fear is to avoid. This means that when you are afraid, your brain gets busy finding other ways to occupy itself – all so you do not have to face what you fear. You are biologically and evolutionarily wired to avoid feeling fear. The chips are stacked against you.

That’s okay because FEAR is POWER, and power does not come to us by doing easy stuff. We’ve got this.

Our strategy for gaining more confidence, mastery, a sense of competence, and empowerment?

FEEL MORE FEAR!

The reasoning for this can be thought of in three parts:

1 – We need new experiences to teach us that what we are afraid of will not always harm us.

If you have been bitten by a dog, and you run away every time you see one, you will never have the experience of being in close proximity to a dog and not being bitten. You won’t learn that most experiences with dogs are non-threatening. If you’ve had your heart shattered in a relationship, and then avoid intimacy and closeness, you will never have the opportunity to experience true, deep, soul-feeding love with another.

We learn through experience. When we experience trauma, it gets encoded in our memory in a particular way (define “trauma” however you like: a bad breakup, a car accident, abuse, moving far away – whatever happened that causes you prolonged pain and suffering).

We remember the possibility of threat, and fear gets activated anytime we are in a situation that reminds us of some aspect of past trauma – even if there is no current danger present. It is the brain’s way of trying to protect us, gone awry.

If we halt having new experiences after a trauma, we will never learn anything new about that type of experience. Have you ever heard that it is important to get behind the wheel of a car as soon as possible after having been in a car accident? This is because you need as many new driving experiences as possible – without encountering a life-threatening event for your nervous system – to learn that driving is not a threat. You must create many new memories to help override the emotionally traumatic memory of the accident.

 

2 – Running away from what we fear serves to reinforce the emotion and makes it worse.

Let’s go back to the dog example. If you were just bitten by a dog, you will likely experience fear the next time you encounter a dog. Now, let’s say fear gets in the driver’s seat of your mind, and you allow it to steer you away, running as fast as you can to escape that dog. In that moment, fear decreases. Let’s recap: you see dog > fear happens > you get away from dog > fear goes away.

What have you learned in that moment? You have learned that dogs are to be feared.

How does this happen? Despite your best intentions, your brain pairs fear with dogs and relief with no dogs. Each time you run away and experience relief, your brain learns that the dog (or relationship, or driving a car, or whatever it is you ran away from) is to be legitimately feared.

The brain stores this new experience, and slowly, over time, the fear you have of that particular stimulus grows. Now, the next time you see a dog, you are likely to be a little bit more afraid than you were the last time, and this fear continues to grow until eventually, you panic at the thought of a dog being anywhere nearby, until you feel “safe” again.

 

3 – There is immeasurable power and quality of life in repeatedly learning we can do hard things.

Part of learning that experiences won’t harm you is knowing you can cope if something painful happens. Now, this learning is not for the faint of heart. In order to learn that you can handle the experience of fear and do what scares you anyway, you must not only accept the experience of fear, you must ask for it!

It is a bit paradoxical because to get a handle on fear, you must convince yourself to want more of it: more fear, more anxiety, more sweaty palms and heart racing – until you are looking fear in the eye and yelling, “Bring it on!”

This is the kind of fierce attitude required to turn an experience of fear into POWER.

Think of it this way: fear means growth and opportunity. Nobody ever got scared sitting at home staring at the television because that action is not challenging. No growth is happening, and there is no opportunity there.

When you experience fear, it is like your environment giving you the gift of growth. If you run away, well, the result is no growth and probably more fear. If, however, you choose to stand your ground and radically invite fear to wash over you, putting one foot in front of the other and moving closer and closer to the fear… Asking for more of it… Telling fear to, “Bring it on!” and “I’ve got this!” now that is hard stuff.

We don’t build a sense of confidence and competency by doing easy stuff. We develop our sense of mastery by doing what is hard – through our blood, sweat, and tears. You learn that you are a force to be reckoned with, and when this happens, a side effect is that fear often regulates. Fear may not necessarily go away, but you start to have a different experience. Instead of, “Oh no, please don’t let me feel afraid,” you begin to think, “Fear? Oh yeah, you’re here? Whatever. I’ve got this. Come on in and hang out.”

That is powerful.

If you want to transform fear into POWER, start looking whatever makes you afraid in the eye. Move towards it shaking and crying – it doesn’t matter. Let the fearful sensations wash over you and run into the fear. Watch yourself become free!

 

Listen to this article here.

 

 

 


Saying Goodbye to Gramps

 

My grandfather was a great man. He was kind, patient, dependable, and no matter what, funny. Even in the emergency room at age 89, days before his death, he had me in stitches.

Frail, confused, scared, and physically uncomfortable, he waited over 9 hours in the cold, chaotic ER to be admitted and finally settle into a quiet and warm room. My mother took the first half of the shift waiting with him, and I was lucky enough to take the latter half, lasting until 1:00am. We were so excited when the nurse told us his room was finally ready, we both looked like we won the lottery and I took a selfie to send to my family.

That was my Gramps. He was always game for smiles and laughs, even in a hospital gown, even afraid and knowing this is where he may soon die.

My grandfather was from a generation almost long gone. He belonged to a cohort valuing honesty, politeness, hard work, and service. He tolerated the uncomfortable, usually with a smile, and humbly tried his best, taking pride in any task he took on. When things did not go his way, he took it upon himself to strategize and fix it, not expecting others to accommodate his suffering.

 

Through example, my Gramps taught me several life lessons:

LAUGH OFTEN – No matter the situation, Gramps had a joke. Sometimes they were eye-roll and groan-worthy, and sometimes his irreverence would surprise and delight us with a good, hard belly laugh. Even when taking care of my grandmother in her last days and through his despair, Gramps never stopped trying to tickle her funny bone.

TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES – I cannot think of a single time Gramps did not follow through or keep his word. He was dependable and if he said he would show up, he would. Not only was he a man of his word, he also took pride in doing well.

When he moved into a home, now matter how nice, he made improvements. When I was a child, he told me the importance of always leaving a place you lived in better condition than when you moved in. Gramps also left the people who knew him better for having known him. His influence and the time I spent with him beautified my life.

BE CONSIDERATE – Gramps was old-school and midwestern, which means that he followed the rule: Be polite. No matter what, Gramps was polite. Even in his assisted living facility, or when the nurses in the hospital shuffled his body around causing him more pain, Gramps thanked them and tried to “not be too much trouble.”

 

Gramps was patient and determined to believe that everyone was doing their best. He gave others the benefit of the doubt and always smiled and remembered his “pleases” and “thank you’s.”

When I think of times spent with Gramps, I smile. I think of him taking off his glasses and shouting, “Tah-dah!” when I was little and afraid of men wearing glasses. I think of him belting out, “Amanda Grace” (my first and middle name) to the tune of Amazing Grace just to be silly and make me smile. I think of him jingling the Tic Tacs in his suit jacket pocket on the way to church and pacing around the house while waiting for my grandmother to get ready to go.

I think about him taking me on nature walks and being able to identify every type of tree and bird, even though I was too young to pay attention and appreciate his knowledge. I remember him making a fuss about Gram’s amazing cooking at every single dinner.

He seemed to have so much gratitude. I remember him making me laugh when visiting him at his home and in the hospital, and the way he said “Thank you” and smiled whenever I kissed him on the cheek.

I know that Gramps influenced my life in a meaningful way and I am better for having been a part of his family. I love you, Gramps.

 

Listen to the audio version here.


June Newsletter

Mid-year has me reflecting on how the seasons change: Spring into Summer, then Fall and Winter…Young to middle-aged, to old and all the stages in between…Life and death. All are part of the cycle we participate in. Losing people we love is, painfully, another natural part of that cycle. We all (hopefully) grow old, and eventually die. Gratefully, the lessons we pass on – and are passed on to us – stay alive.

In honor of Father’s Day this month, I would like to pay homage to some of the men in my life who I have loved and lost. My father passed away on Father’s Day and my grandfather would have turned 90 the day before Father’s Day this year, had he not passed in January. The best way I know to honor those who have touched my life is to take inspiration from them and pay it forward, continuing the cycles as they were handed down to me.

In this edition of my newsletter, you will find a memorial I wrote, highlighting just a few of the many lessons I learned from my grandfather. Lesson #1 is to Laugh Often, so I have also included some funny, family-related comedy clips for your amusement.

 

I will leave you with two take-home messages (take action if they speak to you):

1 – How have the men in your life influenced you to be and do better? Take a moment and appreciate their influence. Is there anything you would like to do or say to express your gratitude for their inspiration and influence?
2 – Laugh often! How can you increase the laughter in your life today? Laughing is good for the whole body and soul. Go for it!

 

 


 

FEATURED ARTICLE:

Saying Goodbye to Gramps

My grandfather was a great man. He was kind, patient, dependable, and no matter what, funny. Even in the emergency room at age 89, days before his death, he had me in stitches.

Frail, confused, scared, and physically uncomfortable, he waited over 9 hours in the cold, chaotic ER to be admitted and finally settle into a quiet and warm room. My mother took the first half of the shift waiting with him, and I was lucky enough to take the latter half, lasting until 1:00am. We were so excited when the nurse told us his room was finally ready, we both looked like we won the lottery and I took a selfie to send to my family.

 

Continue reading here.

 


 

LAUGH OFTEN!

Please enjoy these family and age-related clips from stand up comics. Whether Father’s Day brings up joy and love, or other more difficult or conflicting emotions, laughter can be the best medicine. Now go tickle that funny bone!

 

Nick Swardson – Old People:

 

 

 

Sebastian Maniscalco – Meemaw:

 

 

Lachlan Patterson – The new old people are going to suck:

 

 

Hilarious Grandma Stand Up Comedienne:

 

 


 

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on my YouTube page

 

 

 

 


 

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


May Newsletter

The key to change is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and then, go ahead and PRACTICE some more. My former Zen teacher reminded me often that we cannot force ourselves or anyone else to change. All we can do is show up every day and practice, until one day, what we have practiced becomes who we are. I love this way of thinking about change! This means we can throw away the overwhelming notion of having to jump from Point A to Point B. Rather, just show up and practice. We can do that! This month’s newsletter focuses on the spirit of practice and being a force to be reckoned with. Check out my Skills Roundup for coping with illness and meet the inspiring Tim Ferriss, pantomath extraordinaire who has personally fought Lyme Disease and is the king of life hacks. His book, “Tools of Titans” is my favorite coffee table book, providing motivation and expert tips. Please enjoy reading (or listening) to this month’s installment. Happy PRACTICING!

 

 

FEATURED ARTICLE:

Coping with Chronic Illness: Skills Roundup
(Quick Reference Guide)
In this article, we will review and recap some of the tactics and practices that we discussed in the 3 previous Chronic Illness articles.
Hopefully, these ideas will prompt you to explore more of your own solutions, experiment with what works best for you, and above all, stay mindful of how your physical condition is affecting your mental and emotional health. At the bottom of each skill, you will find a “TAKE HOME MESSAGE” to help guide your practice. The skills are in no particular order of importance, so discover what speaks to you and start there.
Continue reading here, or you have the option to listen to it here.

FEATURED BLOG/PROFESSIONAL:

Tim Ferriss

Speaking of living and coping with chronic illness, Tim Ferriss is a force of nature. He is the bestselling author of 4-Hour Workweek, the 4-Hour Body and my favorite for inspiration: Tools of Titans.
Through his own diligent research and experimentation, Ferriss has been able to fight back against the symptoms of his own Lyme Disease, all but stopping it in its tracks, and prompting new research across the medical community.
His podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show, explores the processes and philosophies of the world’s top performers across a wide variety of disciplines, and Tim has used these nuggets of wisdom in his own life, becoming an advocate for healthy, highly effective approaches to fitness, work, diet, and life in general.
(You can find Tim’s books, more backstory, and episodes of his fascinating podcast at https://tim.blog/)
If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend looking into his book Tools of Titans.

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on my YouTube. page


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.


April Newsletter

April Newsletter Dr. Bando

April is the quarter-mile mark. We officially have 25% of 2019 in our rearview. This is a good time of year to ask yourself how it’s going – though I suppose the answer depends on what measurement tool you use.

The “compare-yourself-to-someone-else” ruler is usually inaccurate, either underestimating or overemphasizing challenges and accomplishments alike. Rather, how are you doing compared to last year, last month, last week, or even yesterday?

If you notice an improvement, capitalize on your progress by taking time to note what is working, and be intentional about continuing on this path. If you identify being in a worse, less desirable place in life than you were, what got you here?

With curiosity and nonjudgment, can you describe what is not working? Can you articulate what you need to move toward positive change? What steps are necessary to turn you toward your ideal path?

My article and practice this month are about tuning in to your experiences and needs, and focusing yourself on personal responsibility as a way to build more of the life you desire. Both my article and featured professional are geared to help you understand how taking that step towards personal responsibility can make all the difference in the world.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

 

FEATURED ARTICLE:

Personal Responsibility Article
The Importance of Personal Responsibility

How often have you been driving and thought: “If that car in front of me would just move out of the way, I could get where I’m going faster?”  

These kinds of thoughts cross my mind often. If that car would move, or if that person would stop using that tone with me, or if so-and-so wouldn’t put me in an awkward position or “make me feel” a certain way, life would be grand!

All of these statements, however, communicate to your brain that your wellbeing is dependent upon someone else.

Let’s break this down . . .    continue reading or listen here.

FEATURED BLOG/PROFESSIONAL:

Featured Professional Jordan Peterson

Jordan B. Peterson

When focusing on personal responsibility, there is no better colleague to feature than Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Dr. Peterson was a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto until his straightforward, common sense, and psychologically smart teaching points landed him under attack in the media. Dr. Peterson has been lied about, falsely accused, and physically threatened, all for asserting his firm philosophical belief that freedom of language is essential to ideas and intellectual discourse.

Now a public speaker and author of a multi-million-copy bestseller. Dr. Peterson is a prime example of living your truth despite whatever comes your way, and accepting personal responsibility for your life and choices. I find Dr. Peterson a bright light with qualities to aspire to, and I hope you do as well.

For an example of what Dr. Peterson has to say, check out this video: https://youtu.be/o73pqQ9Gzt4

Visit Dr. Peterson’s website: https://jordanbpeterson.com


WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on my YouTube page.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.


Personal Responsibility

The Importance of Personal ResponsibilityPersonal Responsibility Article

How often have you been driving and thought: “If that car in front of me would just move out of the way, I could get where I’m going faster?”

These kinds of thoughts cross my mind often. If that car would move, or if that person would stop using that tone with me, or if so-and-so wouldn’t put me in an awkward position or “make me feel” a certain way, life would be grand!

All of these statements, however, communicate to your brain that your wellbeing is dependent upon someone else.

Let’s break this down… When I say that I want someone else to change their behavior, I am really saying that I don’t like how I feel – and I don’t know what to do about it. I want someone else to change so I can feel better.

Essentially, I have taken all of my “power chips” and handed them over for someone else to manage my life. Let’s look at an example:

I was recently at an airport, and the people in front of me in the security line were taking for-ev-er. One person took a shoe off and gently placed it on the conveyer belt – so slowly that I wondered if she ever intended on having the other shoe join its mate. The gentleman behind her agreed with this pace…

With all of us in line waiting, he leisurely drank his water before proceeding with the security routine. Man, did I have judgments! My head (and facial expressions) were screaming, “Have you never been in a security line?! We are all waiting! How rude! Hustle, hustle, hustle! Knees to chest, people! Get moving!”

I was so invested in their obvious-to-me socially unacceptable behavior that by the time I got through the line, I was huffing and puffing, wondering what could ever possess people to be so inconsiderate. Because of them, I had a stressful experience, and had to rush to my gate despite arriving at the airport in what I thought left plenty of time. I was irritated, and I placed all of the blame on the other people in the security line.

In short, what I believed at that moment was:

If they changed their behavior, I could feel better.

Wow, that is a loaded statement! By going down this train of thought (with my emotions quickly following), I just invested in the belief that someone else is responsible for how I feel.

Ugh, no wonder I was frustrated and felt powerless. In this experience, I believed I had fallen victim to someone else’s ignorance. Notice those words? Powerless. Victim.

Now, you might think that this was such a minor incident, how could this really affect how I feel about myself or my place in the world? You also might agree with the judgments I made about the slow-movers at the airport and share my frustration…

Well, the beliefs that we invest our time, thinking, and behavior into are important. They inform the blueprint of how we see ourselves in the world, and how we show up for life… And here’s the rub:

When you expect others to take care of you:

  • You cheat the relationship, and you cheat yourself
  • Your confidence dwindles
  • You begin to believe you cannot do hard things

When you expect others to regulate themselves so you feel better, you burden the other person with the expectation that it is their responsibility to make you feel differently than you do Deep down, nobody wants this responsibility. It is an unwelcome gift. Even if the recipient saddles up and takes responsibility for how you feel, resentment is likely to build. The other person has just received a weight that is too heavy for them to bear.

They have also received the inferred message that you are unable to meet your needs and regulate yourself – so you subtly lose some of their respect.

When you hand over your feel-good expectations to someone else, you cheat yourself by giving yourself the message that you can’t handle the responsibility. Someone else needs to ride in on a white horse and rescue you, all because you are not whole enough to handle things on your own.

When you use phrases such as, “so-and-so made me feel [fill in the blank with a favorite icky-feeling emotion],” it is like a slowly dripping faucet of self-disrespect. You may not feel the impact of the first drop, but eventually, the sink fills up, and you’ve got a big, sloshy pool of belief that others hold the power to “make you feel” – and you become a victim to their behavior.

Talk about a confidence buster!

When you repeatedly tell yourself that others are making you feel a certain way, or thinking that if others would behave differently, that would solve your distressing emotions, you are also telling yourself that you cannot do hard things.

This is one of the most dangerous messages for you to believe! Resilience is built upon knowing that you can do hard things, that you can roll with whatever life throws your way, and that you know as long as you are in your own corner, you’ve got this life thing!

When you start to lose sight of this fact by hoping others will change their behaviors to “make you feel” better, you are in serious trouble.

On the other hand:

When you look for (and accept) your responsibility and volition in all situations, you gain:

  • A sense of empowerment
  • More mutually rewarding relationships
  • Self-confidence and self-respect

If, in the airport, I had noticed my thoughts, “Damn these people for making me anxious and uncomfortable!” here’s how I could have responded:

“Uh-oh, did I just say someone else is ‘making me feel?’ Okay, it’s time for me to get to work here.”

STEP 1: NOTICE AND LABEL when you have just handed over the responsibility for how you feel to someone else.

STEP 2: FOCUS INWARD and QUESTION. Questions I might ask myself include:

  • “What am I feeling in my body?”
  • “What emotion is this I’m feeling right now?”
  • “What about this situation is making me uncomfortable, instead of the many other situations I’ve been through today that I haven’t focused on this intently?”
  • “What interpretation am I having of others’ behaviors in this situation?”
  • “Are there other possible perspectives here?”

This inward focus immediately grows your sense of self-respect and responsibility for your own experience. First of all, you receive the message (from yourself) that you are worth paying attention to – and that your experience is significant enough for you to focus all of your attention in this moment.

Second, by observing yourself in this way, you unglue from your interpretations and reactions and start getting reflective, leading you to other possible experiences. Third, this step is hard – and when you practice turning toward yourself in this way, you learn that you can do it. You gain confidence in your ability to tackle your unchecked reactions.

While you are building all this empowerment, self-confidence, and self-respect, you are also improving your relationship with the other people in the situation!

If I had put this into practice in the security line, I wouldn’t have glared, sighed, rolled my eyes, and in general, treated others with contempt. Perhaps I could have let others have their experiences and I mine, and focused on what I needed in that situation, which brings us to…

STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS and RESPOND. If I had asked myself what I needed in that moment, regardless of others’ behavior, I probably could have used some deep, slow breaths, stopped fidgeting (which was fueling my frustration), and maybe talked to someone or texted a friend for a brief distraction.

Maybe all I needed was to acknowledge that I felt frustrated, that my interpretation was that I was being disrespected, and I would have been able to let it go. Perhaps I would have decided to ask for the people in front of me to move more quickly, or request they let me go in front of them. The point is that I did not ask myself what I needed, so I did not receive the message that I cared about what I needed… And I certainly was not able to provide it for myself.

Even so, I still have…

STEP 4: REFLECT. Although I am not proud of my behavior in the airport, and it is not a representation of how I wish to walk through the world, I can still face it and move forward.

Notice your ineffective behaviors in retrospect, and walk yourself through what went wrong. Thinking about how it could go differently the next time, as I just did, facilitates change. After this exercise, I can tell you with 99% certainty that the next time I am frustrated in a security line, I will think of this example. When you wake up to the moment, you have a chance to make a choice and do things differently.

 

Here is a practice for what to do when you believe someone is making you feel a particular way:

A PRACTICE IN PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

(Listen to this practice on YouTube)

First, let’s take a moment to settle into this present moment. Let’s put our attention on a few things that are right here, right now, starting from the outside in. First, take a look around you, noticing the shapes, colors, light, and dark. Take a moment to notice where you are, using a beginner’s mind, and take in the environment around you.

Now, turn your attention toward sounds. Place your attention on your ears and notice any sounds or silence that floats through your attention.

Now, can you notice your body? Perhaps you can notice the bottom of your feet on the floor, the parts of your body touching another object, like a chair or your clothes. Begin to notice parts of your body in contact with other objects.

And finally, bring your attention to your breath. You do not need to alter or change your breath. Simply notice that you are breathing, in and out. Notice the quality and length of your breath, knowing there is no way your breath is supposed to be in this moment, and just allow your breath to flow, however it is occurring right now.

Now, shift your attention to a recent time you believed someone “made you feel” a particular way. It could be that you were annoyed waiting in a line or sitting in traffic, or perhaps you had an argument with a loved one. Whatever the situation, bring it as vividly as you can into your mind’s eye.

Now, pay careful attention. Focus on the point when you had the experience that this person was “making you feel” a certain way, or thought that if this person changed their behavior, you would feel differently. Say to yourself, “Ah, I just handed over responsibility for how I feel to someone else.” That’s STEP 1. You just practiced the skill, NOTICE AND LABEL. Instead of being a slave to your reaction, you’ve gained some wiggle room for a different experience to emerge!

Let’s practice STEP 2: FOCUS INWARD and QUESTION. First, put on your curious, nonjudgmental cap and start investigating. This is the part where you act like a scientist and explore what was going on for you, in your body, in the moment that you gave responsibility for yourself away. If you’d like to pause here and give yourself some time to reflect or write, please do so!

Some questions you can ask are:

  • “What am I feeling in my body as I am recalling this moment?”
  • “What emotion am I feeling?”
  • “What about this situation made me uncomfortable?”
  • “What interpretation am I having of others’ behavior in this situation?”
  • “Are there other possible perspectives here?”

Another helpful practice during STEP 2 is to write out just the facts on one side of a paper, and your interpretations, opinions, and evaluations of the facts on the other side of the paper. This is an exercise in separating the facts from your personal experience.

You may decide to pause and spend some more time on STEP 2. It is important to understand your experience with some clarity before you are able to move on to STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS and RESPOND. Given your new, more complete understanding of the experience by completing STEP 2, you can now ask yourself what you needed in that moment.

A helpful way of asking can be, “Given everything as it was in that moment, and given that I cannot change others’ behaviors, what did I need?”

You can ask yourself, “How may I have responded to myself if I were able to attend to my needs and take care of myself in that moment?” Now, your job is to listen. Give yourself the space to hear about your needs.

By engaging in this practice, you have already completed STEP 4: REFLECT. By taking the time to reflect on this situation, you have set the stage to do it differently next time. By engaging in this exercise, you have given yourself the message that you matter and are worth the time.

You have also taken a stand. You will engage with yourself and others with integrity. Don’t expect it to be perfect… That’s life! It’s an eventful journey of learning. You can keep practicing, and you will start to notice your relationships, both with yourself and others, shift for the better.

Come back to this any time you need it – and please, keep practicing!


March Newsletter


In just a couple of short days, Spring will officially be upon us. This change in season, with its blooming flowers, and new foliage on trees, tends to revitalize many people. It is a time to shed winter clothes, shake off the cob webs, and take care of those projects that have been put off for the last few months.

For some, it is difficult to shake that winter bleh. I have even known someone who has seasonal depression in reverse. When others are brightening up in the Spring weather, he withers, feeling more pressure to feel sunny, and becomes down in the dumps as a result.

If you feel the pressure of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for Spring, read on! Even if you do feel revitalized, I have included a practice in this month’s edition that is invaluable for year round well-being.

In this newsletter, I continue my series on Chronic Illness and Mental Health. With an estimated 45% of Americans suffering with some sort of chronic illness, chances are that either you or someone you know are struggling. In part 3 of this series, I discuss Diagnostic Problems and Invalidation. This month’s guided practice focuses on SELF-VALIDATION, one of the most effective tools for quality of life, chronic illness or not. Also, meet the inspirational Elana Amsterdam, a NY Times Best Selling Cookbook Author who also suffers from Celiac Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

Whether Spring makes you sing or your tune fizzles out, please know we are in this together! We are all doing our very best as we navigate our way through this messy, challenging, wonderful life. I truly believe life is way too short just to survive, that’s why I help people thrive! Happy Spring!


FEATURED ARTICLE

Chronic Illness and Mental Health Part 3: Diagnostic Problems/Invalidation


Autoimmune and other disorders that may present with vague or a diffuse cluster of symptoms, or are difficult to diagnose, seem to be at an all-time high. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association estimates that approximately 50 million Americans live with an autoimmune disorder. On the other hand, the National Institutes of Health, also a reliable source of information, claims that only 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder. The NIH recognizes less than half of what is reported by the AARDA. Why the discrepancy? NIH funded studies include only 24 diseases/disorders, while recent studies by the AARDA now include upwards of 80 to 100 diseases/disorders. Research is ever-evolving and it is hard to keep up!

You can see why chronic illness may be a confusing subject for so many people when two reputable organizations who lead our understanding of what diseases exist, supply different numbers based on what they consider to be different facts. Currently, conventional Western medicine does not seem to know how to detect or diagnose many of these diseases accurately.

Continue reading


FEATURED PROFESSIONAL

Meet the beautiful and inspiring, Elana Amsterdam; health blogger and author of three cookbooks geared towards the support of health and healing.

Often, when clients of mine have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, they struggle with the question of what their life will look like going forward. It is because of people like Elana that I can continue to offer them hope and encouragement. Rather than shirking into the darkness of chronic illness symptoms, Elana states, “My goal was simple. To be of service.”

In addition to her books and the many free and autoimmune-friendly recipes she makes available on her website, Elana shares her struggles and successes of living with MS with her readers and also promotes and volunteers for non-profit organizations she believes in.

What I love about Elana:

  • Her candor. She does not sugar coat the experience of living with chronic illness. She shares her struggles in a relatable way that preserves the truth without getting caught in the bell jar.
  • She LIVES with chronic illness, not suffers.
  • Her RECIPES!!! OMG, does this lady know how to cook. She has certainly spiced up my gluten/processed-free kitchen and brought bread back to my life whenever I want it. (Did I mention she has tons of Paleo and Keto recipes? AND you can search for recipes on her site by special diet requirements.)
  • She gives back. Before I ever spent one dime on purchasing her cookbooks, I benefitted from her tasty recipes and bright Instagram posts. Her life purpose of being of service shines through – anyone who is interested can benefit from Elana. She is a contributor.

You can read a piece of her story here.


WANT MORE?
My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.


February Newsletter

Use Valentine’s Day as a nudge to practice self-caring!

February is here and whether you buy into the commercialized holiday or not, I like to view this as a time to think about and celebrate love. Love is a healing, warming, nourishing emotion. Independent of others, love is an emotion that is available to us whenever we need or want it; It may just require a bit of practice.
Self-love and self-compassion are essential to a healthy, vibrant, thriving life, and this goes for relationships with others as well. Sometimes, the most caring thing I can do for those I love is pay attention to myself in an honorable, compassionate way. This allows me to be present with those I love without expecting them to fix parts of me I haven’t attended to. It allows me to be available for their experiences because I am coming from a place of fullness, instead of lack. Whatever your feelings about Valentine’s Day, I invite you to use this time of year as a nudge to practice self-caring.
In this month’s issue, you will find a bold piece I’ve written on an alternative view to medication for depression and anxiety. I view most, if not all, mood disruptions as a disconnection from self. Read on to understand more and experience a practice in nurturing your Wisdom. Speaking of self-love and respect for your body, there is a book being released this month that could be a lovely act of self-care to purchase. Read on to find out more about “Feeding You Lies” and how to feed your body with the love and care it deserves.
HEALTHY, VIBRANT, THRIVING!
My whole way of thinking, and of helping others, is based around my philosophy of living a Healthy, Vibrant, and Thriving life! One way I love sharing this philosophy is through Instagram. Follow @drbando and receive encouragement to live a Healthy, Vibrant, and Thriving life yourself!

FEATURED ARTICLE…

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

It is beyond unfortunate that our culture is so accepting of popping pills for ailments that need a completely different remedy: self-awareness, attention, and honor. All too often, I see people struggling from the side-effects of medications or new disorders they’ve developed as a result of following their doctor’s well-meaning instructions. While medication certainly is useful and has its place, it is over-prescribed in our country and doing so deprives many of us of a deeper connection with ourselves. If you are experiencing mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety, it is your personal choice whether you treat these experiences with medication or other options.

Medication is not bad or wrong; at times, it is life-saving. However, the information we receive seems heavily weighted toward popping a pill to feel better. Here, you will find other options and ways of thinking about depression and anxiety. Please filter this information through your wisdom and do what is best for you and this short, meaningful life of yours.

Continue Reading


DID YOU KNOW?

I have been following food blogger and nutrition-based author, Vani Hari, otherwise known as Food Babe, for years. I am embarrassed to say that it did not occur to me to read food ingredient labels until well into my thirties. I was taught to be aware of carbs, protein, fat, etc., but it did not occur to me to be thoughtful about the quality of my food until over a decade into adulthood! I was never taught that this was important. Enter Vani, whose upbeat style and no-nonsense approach to nutrition, opened my eyes.
Food Babe’s philosophy is to inform and educate people on the “food” they are putting into their bodies and hold manufacturers of food accountable for responsible practices. She presents research on harmful chemicals that are snuck into food, exposes deceitful marketing practices, and suggest alternatives to the individual and larger corporations to help make our available options healthier. Vani is a crusader for nutritious eating, and in her new book “Feeding You Lies”, she exposes the untruths behind or food system from the food industry and our government. She is also uplifting, hopeful, and encouraging, leaving you feeling excited about treating your body well.
In her new book, Vani guides you through a 48-hour Toxin Takedown to rid your pantry, and your body, of harmful chemicals. She will help you live without preservatives, artificial sweeteners, additives, food dyes, or fillers, eating foods that truly nourish you and support your health. Pick up your copy of “Feeding You Lies” and learn what is needed to take control of what you are putting in your body!

WANT MORE?

My articles are always available for you to read and listen to at your convenience. My written articles can be found on my website, and the audio versions can be found on either my YouTube or Soundcloud pages.


PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

My guided meditations and practices are available in audio form – all for free! If you would like to enhance your mindfulness practice, experience this month’s or any recent offerings, click here!


LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO JUST SURVIVE.
THAT’S WHY I HELP PEOPLE THRIVE!
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you can do so by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page.
Amanda Gale-Bando, Ph.D.

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

The Answer Is Not In A Pill, It’s In a Process

Listen to this article on YouTube or Soundcloud.It is beyond unfortunate that our culture is so accepting of popping pills for ailments that need a completely different remedy: self-awareness, attention, and honor. All too often, I see people struggling from the side-effects of medications or new disorders they’ve developed as a result of following their doctor’s well-meaning instructions. While medication certainly is useful and has its place, it is over-prescribed in our country and doing so deprives many of us of a deeper connection with ourselves. If you are experiencing mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety, it is your personal choice whether you treat these experiences with medication or other options.

Medication is not bad or wrong; at times, it is life-saving. However, the information we receive seems heavily weighted toward popping a pill to feel better. Here, you will find other options and ways of thinking about depression and anxiety. Please filter this information through your wisdom and do what is best for you and this short, meaningful life of yours.

Why depression and anxiety are not your fault, AND at the same time, your responsibility.

It Is Not Your Fault

Feeling depressed or anxious is not your fault. Emotions make sense. There is a cause-and-effect law of nature that we can apply to emotions. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, there is a reason, even if it is not immediately obvious to you.

Let’s take Sally, a high-achieving, married, mother-of-two.

Growing up, Sally learned that being angry didn’t work. When she expressed anger, her parents cut off affection and withdrew attention. She soon learned that her parents responded similarly to her expressions of fear, hurt, and other emotions that were painful and uncomfortable.

Now, in her thirties, Sally has learned to smile and “brush it off” when things bother her so that she doesn’t “make a big deal” out of things or upset the apple cart. People describe her as easy to get along with and laid-back. It is no surprise to me that Sally suffers from depression. She reports feeling like a shell of her former self and now has trouble experiencing all emotions, even joy, and mostly feels numb. Her doctor recommended she try taking an anti-depressant medication, but something inside her told her that was covering up and not addressing the true problem, so she sought my help.

I soon learned that whenever Sally suspects an emotion may bubble up, she does everything she can to shut it down and go back to feeling “fine.” Sally had so much emotional buildup clogging her every atom, it is no wonder she was bogged down with depression. My work with Sally was helping her feel those painful emotions she had stuffed away for all those years. I taught Sally some of what she already knew, deep in her intuition: how to walk through the hell of her emotions, look at them, feel them, and move through them, until she found herself. Through this process of facing, rather than medicating or numbing her emotions, Sally found bravery, the knowledge that she can do very hard things, and a self-respect she hadn’t previously known.

Another example is Ralph, a 40-something man with a high-powered career.

Ralph was anxious, didn’t know if he would ever find a relationship, and ran away each time he started feeling interested in a woman he was dating. In fact, this was Ralph’s M.O. Whenever he felt anxious, he either worked harder and achieved more to ensure his competence or found another way to run from and avoid facing his fear head-on.

It turns out that Ralph had this response to anxiety starting from a young age. He implicitly learned that once he quieted or escaped the anxiety, he felt relief. He recalled staying home “sick” from school as a young boy to avoid social situations when he felt unsure. This worked for a while. Every time he felt anxious about his work performance, rather than feel the fear run through his body and view it as an opportunity for growth, he worked even harder than his 60-hour-per-week job required and made sure there was no room for doubt. As a result, he quickly advanced in his career.

He also applied this philosophy to dating, and every time Ralph felt anxious (i.e., vulnerable because he really liked the woman he was dating), he figured out an exit strategy and reasoned that it was for the better and she just wasn’t meant for him.

In short, Ralph’s coping style was to run away from anxiety any way he could. Now in his 40’s, Ralph suffers from an anxiety disorder and was prescribed Xanax by his doctor. However, learning more about how anxiety (and emotions, in general) works, Ralph knew that escaping the feelings every time he was anxious, whether through hard work, break-ups, or medication, were contributing to him experiencing more and more anxiety and dissatisfaction as life marched on.

My work with Ralph was to help him turn and stand tall, toe-to-toe with anxiety. Ralph learned to move towards, instead of away from, anxious feelings, and has gained confidence, self-respect, and a loving dating relationship he enjoys as a result. Ralph’s work life also became less stressful and much to his surprise, his performance did not suffer.

What do Sally and Ralph have in common?

They both had mood symptoms they did not understand and were prescribed medication. They both also intuitively knew that for them, medication was hiding, not solving their problems. For both of them, treatment involved facing their emotions, connecting to the physiological sensations coursing through their bodies, and learning to welcome them in.

Last, and certainly not least, both Sally and Ralph learned to feel comfortable in their skin again and live life feeling purpose and meaning. For both Sally and Ralph, mood symptoms were signals that something was wrong. Their emotions were not getting the attention they needed and behaviors geared toward avoiding or pushing them down were moving them farther and farther away from the wisdom their bodies were offering through the experience of emotions.

In both cases, depression and anxiety was not their fault. Mood symptoms were a result of the behavior patterns they had learned to keep themselves feeling safe. They did not purposely engage in coping strategies to make them feel worse in the long run. In fact, they did not even know this was happening. They thought they were being skillful.

Feeling depressed or anxious is not your fault. There is always a cause and effect. This means, there is no need or even logic in harshly blaming, criticizing, or berating yourself: that emotion you feel makes sense. We can trace it back to a certain event or series of events that caused whatever is happening in your life now to happen. The take-home message here is, if you feel it, it makes sense; that does not mean that you need to live in it, dwell in it, swim in it, buy real-estate in it, or act out of that place of emotion.

Personal Responsibility

As a holistic psychologist, I view depression and anxiety as a disconnection from the self. Depression and anxiety are not your fault, AND the only one who can change things is you. Not a doctor who gives you a pill or anyone who offers a remedy. You are the only person who can change your experience.

Emotions are a physiological process, meaning they happen in your body. When an emotion fires, your biology instantaneously changes: your breathing, heart rate, temperature, and even blood pressure may fluctuate with each emotion that passes through your body. When you process your emotions, you are aware of your body. When you make a connection with your body by paying attention to your emotional experiences, you not only get rid of emotional buildup, you gain access to so much more. When emotional buildup isn’t getting in the way, you are able to feel grounded in your experiences and more readily identify what is important to you. In short, you free yourself to live with meaning.

That begs the question, “How?”

Once you begin to understand that your symptoms are signals for you to pay attention to, you can start to evaluate why your body, brain, and mood are trying to get your attention. You can ask yourself questions about how you feed yourself, exercise, rest, and how your daily behaviors are in or out of line with what is truly important to you. Take a look at today. Are you behaving in ways that produce pride? If you do not regularly engage in daily activities that you feel proud of, it is impossible to feel proud of your life. Where are you disconnected from what truly matters to you, and what step can you take today to move closer to living your values?

It’s a Process.

Dealing with depression or anxiety is a process. The answer is not in a pill, it’s in a process. The process is one of truly looking at yourself, without judgment, and listening to what your body and emotions are telling you. Then you can make this information actionable by asking yourself, “Where can I take a step forward today?” Don’t think of it as, “I’m at point A and I want to be at point B, but I don’t know how to get there.” Rather, ask “What is one little tiny step forward that I can take today that will start me down my path and my goal of reaching point B?” It could be something as small as “Today I’m going to drink a cup of bone broth”, or “Today I’m going to take 3 breaths and notice how my body feels before I take that first sip of coffee in the morning.” It could even be, “I’m going to open and read a page of that book that is important and meaningful to me.” Recovering from depression and anxiety is about the process and the relationship you build with yourself. Recovering means engaging in daily behaviors that support your best life.

The process of healing and self-connection is not about harshness, punishment, will power, and a “just do it” mentality. This stance of cracking the whip to get yourself in line is short-lived and impossible to maintain. You may have experienced coming up with a “tough love” remedy time and time again, only to wind up back in the same stuck place. Rather than more discipline, you may need more of a connection to yourself, because if you can relax into yourself, trust your body’s experiences, feel what you are feeling, and connect to what is important to you, you will move in a direction that is in your best interest.

 

CONNECTING TO YOUR WISDOM PRACTICE

Listen to this practice on YouTube or Soundcloud.
Let’s begin with getting grounded in the present moment. Focus now on the bottoms of your feet. Really see if you can feel any sensations present on the bottoms of your feet. Just notice.

Now, bringing your attention to the parts of your body touching the seat that you are in. If you are standing, you can continue noticing the bottoms of your feet or notice the sensation of your clothes on your body. Wherever your focus, bring your attention to your body touching another object.

Now, turning your attention toward your breath. Breathing in and breathing out.

Notice: where in your physical body does your attention go when you are bringing your awareness to your breath? Where do you feel your breath in your body?

Bringing your attention now to the very end of your inhalation. Take a few breaths focusing on the very end of your inhalation, right before the pause leading to your exhalation.

When you are noticing the very end of your inhalation, where, in your physical body, does your attention lie?

Some hypothesize that this is the physical representation of Wisdom in your body. Breathe into this place, notice this place inside of you. Within Wisdom, there is usually an experience of peace. Some describe this as a settling, much like sand gently settling into the bottom of the ocean.

This is a practice you can take with you anywhere to help settle into your body and your body’s wisdom. Three steps:

  1. Ground yourself by feeling the bottoms of your feet.
  2. Bring yourself solidly into the present moment and notice where your body is touching an object – your clothes or a seat you are sitting in.
  3. Notice where you feel your breath in your physical body. Then start to focus on the very end of your inhalation. Focus on this point, wherever in your body it lies.

You can also practice asking this part of your body, also known as the physical place of  Wisdom inside of you, a question. I like to practice with mundane, daily tasks, like how to prioritize what to do next or whether or not to go get a glass of water. Building a relationship with your body and your Wisdom requires time and attention. The more you ask and are present, the stronger your relationship becomes.


© 2017 Amanda Gale Bando Phd · Designed and Developed by D-Kode Technology

Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando

Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando