Monthly Archives: March 2012

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="B008BMMXF4" locale="us" height="75" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41GpVIv3uGL._SL75_.jpg" width="65"]I have been watching the Hungry For Change video … I’ve got quite a lot to say about it, but that will have to wait. When I was buying it, I was offered the May I Be Frank video (trailer below) … and I’ll have something to say about that, too.

In the meantime, watch the trailer:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MvAM97VDE8

What’s burning my brain right now was a phrase I heard for the first time in my life … I heard it on the trailer for the “Frank” movie: “Let us love you until you can love yourself”. I thought that it was wonderful, and ought to become the motto for Together We Can. I Googled it, and discovered that it seems to be used all over the place; mostly in 12-step groups.

And I found a few blog entries about it. The first, called “Cotton Candy Sobriety” by Vince Jones, says it’s just a cliché, along with a bunch of other clichés he’s heard in AA meetings. He says it’s just sugar and hot air. For a while Mr Jones had me running for cover, not wanting to be accused of empty rhetoric or new-age fluff. And maybe it is a cliché when used in an AA group, after all, their essence is anonymity, and the importance of anyone being able to drop in or out at any time … so one could question how deep a love could form.

But then, on AddictScience.com I came across Why Love Is Therapeutic. Having told us that research shows that romantic love really boosts Dopamine, one of the reward Neuro-transmitters, the author goes on to say

Neuroscientists have also studied parental love. They report that both maternal and romantic love activate regions specific to each, but also stimulate overlapping regions triggered by both. Significantly, this overlap takes place in the brain’s Limbic “reward” system, the system hijacked by addictive drugs

And then …

And love is what one gets in chemical-dependency treatment facilities and 12-Step meeting rooms. In rehab, the staff was constantly telling me things like, “Let us love you until you can love yourself,”

That’s exactly what they did. Their love, their caring, compassion, understanding, and support was a central factor …

Research demonstrates that social support also increases dopamine. Thus, addicts in recovery get powerful emotional benefits from participation in 12-Step programs apart from the message of sobriety alone.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="0553386395" locale="us" height="75" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Fikggw86L._SL75_.jpg" width="49"]And through the New Science of Kindness (as described in “Mindsight”) and studies of how mirror neurons help us create empathy, and how, when we are young, they can provide one of the mechanisms through which we wind up with our adult attachment status, we discover that this is no cotton-candy new age fluff, but, done correctly and with integrity, it is hard-nosed, up to the minute, science.

So I think I just will hijack this motto of addiction-recovery programmes for Live Free From Obesity and Together We Can. And I will make sure that every TWC group knows how to operate at a level of integrity that that can produce that “friendly” and “familial” love called storge, and even agape (pronounced agga-pay) … or am I going too far?

My problem right now is I don’t have a re-hab centre, or a 12-step programme in which I feel this level of support. More to the point, I don’t have a Together We Can group to help me. Yet tomorrow morning I will be beginning the radical nutrition phase of the Live Free From Obesity programme (that’s New Speak for “diet” … But much more satisfactory).

My answer is to take what is for me (and most people, I suspect) a very radical step. I have e-mailed, connected on FB, and by this blog post, connected with lots of people who know me and, in effect, asked them “To Love Me Until I Can Love Myself”.

Eeek! Scary!

Here’s the trailer for the “May I Be Frank” video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZNKlUmFkG4

[simpleazon-image align="none" asin="B00AIZ21W2" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MQIM33asL._SL160_.jpg" width="115"]

Yes!! It’s one of the worst health problems facing the western world, and the UK is up there with the worst of them.

According to a BBC health report, around a quarter of all UK adults are clinically obese.  If you go with “merely overweight” the figure jumps alarmingly to over 60%.

The report goes on to say that:

As many as 30,000 people die prematurely every year from obesity-related conditions.

Some experts believe obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking. Being significantly overweight is linked to a wide range of health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Indigestion
  • Gallstones
  • Some cancers (eg, breast and prostate cancers)
  • Snoring and sleep apnoea
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Infertility

And the cost tot he UK economy is huge.  The National Audit office reckons that obesity costs the NHS £500,000,000 a year (that’s £500 million, but you get the real feeling with all those zeroes).  But the overall cost to the UK economy is far worse: £2,300,000,000,000.  £2.3 billion.  With around 60 million people in the UK, that’s £37,000 for every man, woman, and child.

I think I’ll get slim and ask for my £37,000!

But the health-care systems of the world (and the people wanting to lose weight) pick out one or two things to look at: pills, special diets, special exercise fads, the latest book.  Live Free From Obesity aims to use specialist nutrition to speed our progress to a healthy weight, while introducing fun and easy exercise, and rewiring our brains to only want healthy food.

It has to be worth a try!

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward.
When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

Brenda Ueland

Brenda Ueland

Brenda Ueland

I discovered Brenda Ueland a couple of years ago.  She died long before I discovered her writing–I would have loved to have met her.  She was a journalist, a writer, and a teacher of writing.  If she were alive today, and still teaching, I’d go to wherever she was to attend one of her classes, for she taught not the picky things of sentence construction and perfect grammar, but how to reach into our souls and bring out the wonderful things that we all have inside, for she believed that we do, indeed, all have wonderful things to give to the world, and her belief is a gift to us all.

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="9650060286" locale="us" height="160" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41996DT3mFL._SL160_.jpg" width="107"]In her best-known book, “If You Want to Write: a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit“, she says:

“Everyone is talented, original and has something important to say.”

“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.”

“I found that many gifted people are so afraid of writing a poor story that they cannot summon the nerve to write a single sentence for months. The thing to say to such people is: “See how bad a story you can write. See how dull you can be. Go ahead. That would be fun and interesting. I will give you ten dollars if you can write something thoroughly dull from beginning to end!” And of course, no one can. ” 

She removed the duty and chore out of writing, encouraging us to make it easy:

“….you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like child stringing beads in
kindergarten, – happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.”

Well, that’s all very well, but what’s it got to do with losing weight, or re-wiring our brains?  I just wanted to give you a feel for this woman, before introducing you to what she has to say about the Art of Listening.

“A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.”

(That’s not Ueland!)

I think that the most important factor in Together We Can, the most important thing that will help to heal us, to make us whole and to reach for comfort in some other place than the cookie jar, is a “friend who will lay down beside us, and listen”.

But who will listen to us?

Here’s the beginning of an article on the Art of Listening, by Ueland:

I want to write about the great and powerful thing that listening is. And how we forget it. And how we don’t listen to our children, or those we love. And least of all – which is so important, too – to those we do not love. But we should. Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. Think how the friends that really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays.

This is the reason: When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. You know how if a person laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier, and if he does not, every tiny little joke in you weakens up and dies. Well, that is the principle of it. It makes people happy and free when they are listened to. And if you are a listener, it is the secret of having a good time in society (because everybody around you becomes lively and interesting), of comforting people, of doing them good.

Imagine a good mother, and you’ve had a bad day at school; maybe you said something in class that the teacher criticised, and then the other kids laughed at you, and on the way home you fell over and scabbed your knee, and you’re holding in the sobs, and when you get home you rush up to your room, throw yourself on the bed, and bury your head in the pillow.  And your mum comes in, lays down beside you, cuddles you, and after a moment says, “come on then, tell me all about it”, and is then silent while she waits for the words to well up, and silent while they flood out.

But what if you never had anyone like that?  Well, Ueland has a suggestion:

“…  those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:
“Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know and all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out.”

And if you have no such friend … well, then you must imagine one. ”

In Together We Can, we spend a lot of time learning to be such a friend, but if that resource isn’t available to you, then spend some time reading Brenda Ueland, and imagine her as your listener, because, as she says:

… when someone has listened to you, you go home rested and lighthearted.

And when we have been truly listened to, thoroughly listened to, and we go home rested and light-hearted, then we never even think of the cookie jar.  And when this happens on a regular basis, our brains get re-wired, and should we notice a cookie jar, it hardly even registers.

You can find the whole article: The Art of Listening, by Brenda Ueland, here.

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