Monthly Archives: July 2009

Terrible Toxins

Terrible Toxins 1

Competency # 18 TOXINS

Reference: The Body Toxic by Nena Baker, Published by Farrar, Strauss 2008

Ever heard the phrase, “Better Living Through Chemistry?” Of course you have.  I’ve said it many times to myself as I gulp a Tylenol for a sore back.  Have you ever been concerned that some of our chemicals may not be safe?  Have you  heard about persistent chemicals that remain in your body and have long-term effects?  I want to learn this stuff so that I can keep my body safe and my family protected from hazards.  What are the hazards?  Here goes a series on toxins.  I’ll give you the basic concepts first.

First of all, what’s a toxin.  A poison, right?  Take cyanide and in a few minutes you are dead because it poisons your cell’s ability to use energy.  The dose is the problem.  The larger the dose, the faster you get in trouble.  Same with snake venom, or carbon monoxide.   Get enough of it and you get much sicker, faster.  That’s not the whole truth.  If you focus on dose alone, you will miss some key concepts you need to understand.  Toxins can act in other ways.  They can change your gene action by acting like one of your hormones.  In that way, you aren’t exactly poisoned in a few minutes, but down the road bad things happen to you because of hormone action.  That’s called endocrine disruption.  The chemical involved may not be used as a hormone, but its long-term action may result in a hormone-like effect on you.

Secondly, there is bioaccumulation.  Some chemicals get concentrated up the food chain.  That’s how DDT got us in trouble.  It was sprayed on crops to kill pests.  It got into the water supply, was absorbed by tiny organisms that were then eaten by larger and larger fish or insects or birds until eventually it got to the top of the food chain and had extremely toxic effects.  Wisconsin almost lost all its eagles because DDT made the egg shells become too thin and break easily.  Banning DDT saved our eagles.

Aren’t we meant to be protected by our government?  Well, yes, we thought so.  But we aren’t.  In fact, the well-intentioned TSCA (Toxic Substance Control Act) of 1976 gave the FDA supposed authority to review the 62,000 chemicals that we are all exposed to everyday.  The devil was in the details:  language that said that the FDA could not act unless the FDA could show that the benefits of restriction outweigh the costs of such restriction on business and society.  And chemical companies were not required to find out if their chemicals were toxic.  The burden of proof was on the FDA to find it, and then prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.  And as a result, the FDA has not banned one chemical since 1989.   So 62,000 chemicals got grandfathered in with no testing at all.  We have to find problems, one by one.

Europe is now doing it differently.  Their new legislation is called REACH.  What it requires is that chemical companies may sell a chemical only if they can prove it is safe first.  The onus is on the chemical company to prove it.  Not the FDA to find it after the fact.  It’s brilliant.  We are behind in America.  Is that a problem? Big time!

WWW: What Will Work for Me?  I thought I was being protected.  I’m not.  More about this next week.  We need to learn this together.  It’s you in the crosshairs…

Demon Dialogues: The Trenches of Marital Combat

Demon Dialogues:  The Trenches of Marital Combat

Competency # 22 Social Wellness and Friendships

Reference: Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson.  Book Review

When a baby cries, parental adults who have bonded with that child just cannot resist. They do anything to stop the baby from crying.  They bend over and pick the baby up.   They touch. They sooth.  They reassure.  They hold.  It all stops when we develop language and learn not to cry.  Our language becomes a barrier to our communication of our distress to our loved ones to whom we are bonded.  That’s the key finding that Sue Johnson discovered as she discovered the dynamics and components of “Emotionally Focused Therapy.”  Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we still don’t need the key components of nurturance that a baby does.  We still ache to be held, reassured, soothed, touched.

Dr. Johnson asserts that the arguments we have with our loved ones follow three patterns, all relate to one key simple message.  We need attachment.  We are crying for attention.  And attachment anxiety is the one feeling for which ANY response is better than none at all.  As adults, we don’t cry.  Instead we put out words to our bonded mates to find a way to get a response.  Unfortunately, we don’t do it very well.  In fact, we do it backwards, to our eternal misery.  The words don’t convey our emotional anxiety.

Demon Dialog # 1: “Find the Bad Guy” or finding blame.  One person accuses the other of something bad.  The other attacks back.  The first person defends; the second swoops in for further attack.  Neither is right.  It’s all about attachment.  It’s the whole that is wrong.  Both feel more distant from each other and wonder why the other doesn’t just give in and confess their sins.  Both are losing.  Dialog # 2: The Protest Polka:  One partner complains about the other’s behavior, language, attitude, glance…the other withdraws.  The first person complains more; the other gets more withdrawn. The Polka goes faster and faster.  Again, both are losing.  Dialog #3:  Freeze and Flee.  As one and two get worse, the partners go numb and withdraw.  Breakup is on the way…

There is a way out.  It’s the whole process that’s wrong.  We look at the details and miss the whole.  Stand back!  Let your ears hear the call for attachment.  Hear the adult’s cry for affection, for attention, for time, for touch, for tenderness.  Your job is not to attack back or defend, but to catch the Dialog.  Next week:  we’ll share those details.  Meanwhile, order this book.  It will save your marriage, your friendship, your partners..

WWW:  What Will Work for me.  This is just too good.  Sue Johnson is a genius.  I’m reading “Hold Me Tight” twice.  I never knew I was such a good dancer.  I’ve got the Protest Polka down pat.  I could give lessons.  I’m tired of being so expert.  I want to laugh more, hold hands more, listen better, hear the cry…

De-Escalating the Protest Polka

De-Escalating the Protest Polka

Competency # 22 Social Wellness and Friendships

Reference: Sue Johnson’s Hold Me Tight – Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

The Protest Polka is one of Sue Johnson’s “Demon Dialogues”.   It goes like this:  “You are working too hard”  (a protest).   “But, I’ve got this big assignment….” (a defensive reply).  And you are off to the races, polkaing together as you argue.  What we learned last week was that a Demon Dialogue is really a cry for attention in which neither hears the other’s attachment needs, loneliness, and fears.  What we really want from our partner is soothing attention and reassurance that we matter.  How do we get to that when we are frantically dancing the Polka?  How do we stop the insane Protest Polka and start down a new path to loving intimacy?

You have to De-Escalate.  Here are Sue Johnson’s Seven Steps in great brevity.  These are the crib notes to tempt you to read more.  When you find yourself in the Polka:

1.Stop the Dance.  Someone needs to say, “Stop!”.  Instead of “You always do….” statements, start with “We” statements.  You are both trapped in it.   “We…”

2.Claim your own moves, your own dance steps.  Each person has to name their own behavior.  “I did this….” Was it an attack?  Or was it a defensive reply?  Neither is right because both just add flame to the fire.  Claim your part with an “I”.

3.Claim your FEELINGS.  “I’m mad!” Both of you express your feelings about what you feel when you get in the give and take.  You become more human.

4.Own how your behavior shapes your partner’s feelings.  “When I do this, I put you off balance and make you feel abandoned.”  That’s ALWAYS true because our Demon Dialogues are always about attachment and intimacy.  We are babies crying, with adult clothes on.  Attachment feelings are that primal.

5.Ask your partner about their deeper feelings.  “I hear you.  When you get mad, it’s really because you want my attention and my time.  You don’t want to think of being alone and abandoned.”  Simple as it sounds, it works every time.

6.Share your own Softer Feelings.  Let your partner know that you are afraid, ashamed, angry.  That’s why you responded how you did….  Take the risk of confessing how you feel inside and really don’t want your partner to feel left out.  Your own struggle reveals your desire for relationship too.

7.Stand Together.  Now you are on the same side of the table and working on a common problem.  You become a couple.  You see the Polka as the problem.  You are in the dance because you are bonded and attached.  You each own a bit of the other’s soul.  And that’s what it is all about.  Now, start the new story of how you are fixing your relationship so it doesn’t get all mucked up with the craziness of the dance.

WWW:  What will work for me.  It isn’t just your spouse.  You have precious attachments in your life with friends and family too.  Your ears will become expert and your love relationships will grow.  I promise.  Read the book!