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In the search for security, self-confidence is the first milestone

Hello and Welcome to my new readers!

The idea of security drives much of human action and directed behavior. The search for security can take many paths.  There are different forms of security attached to financial, physical, emotional, relational, and personal safety and various personalities are drawn to various hierarchies of security.  The path chosen will be focused on the core insecurity for the person.

So if you find that being alone is difficult or you have your strongest feelings of insecurity around relationships then it was in that portion of your life that you have a lack of security and a lack of strength.  If you live here then money may not be of much importance but human interaction is a focus of security.  Individuals who live here will say,  “the money will come” but if someone doesn’t respond to them quickly they begin to catastrophize about the meaning of the lack of communication, sometimes even after 15 minutes of waiting.

If you focus on making money and creating financial security then not having money creates an inner sense of insecurity.  If you live here then relationships have less of a pull on you but wealth creation and savings is of great importance.  Individuals who live here easily let go of other people’s needs or requests and in general can survive with few connections but they have difficulty spending the wealth they created.  They may be unable to spend their money even on fairly necessary things because the spending causes them to feel paralyzed by insecurity.  This is an example of someone who has the funds but never spends it – the money in the bank, or in some cases millions under the mattress, creates no sense of comfort except in the knowing it is there.

How a person develops a sense of insecurity is related to his early circumstances, his place in society, his parent’s perspective of security and his personal temperament and skill set.

So an individual who focuses on financial security will usually have a story or myth behind it that describes a powerful point in his life when he was without money and the lack of money felt dire, dangerous, and life-threatening.  The gathering and having of money becomes the object of security.

In a different circumstance an individual who focuses on connection or relationship for security will have a story of being abandoned and the abandonment will feel like a dire, life-threatening situation.  Physical neglect and abuse in early childhood can feel like an abandonment and individuals can develop an insecurity in relationship as a result of this.  The relationship, being connected to someone, is the object of security.

The issue of insecurity is an equation of the experience plus the attached story or belief system connected to a feeling of life-or-death.  So not all individuals that come from poverty or abuse, who have a challenging financial situation or individuals who have dealt with abandonment, will develop this sense of insecurity.

And this sense of insecurity is something that shows up along a continuum, from slight to overwhelming.  On the slight end of the continuum, supportive groups and talking oneself through the anxiety can be enough to decrease the internal reaction or imbalance.  On the more overwhelming end it can be debilitating, interfering with an individual’s capacity to function.

The word security can conjure up many different connotations: a sense of physical safety, inner balance, laws and rules; the meanings are diverse but the underlying concept seems to refer to a sense of balance and safety.

In order to create a sense of security, the work needs to begin at home.  The first step is to build an internal sense of security or self-confidence and inner strength.

Child development theorists talk about this as the first stage of development for children.  It develops out of trust or mistrust of your caregiver. From there, following Erik Erikson’s developmental model, each stage builds on the previous stage.  A feeling of trust and confidence will lead to self-confidence, competence, success in relationships and career.  Creating this pathway for your child is a function of being present and real with her.  Creating this for yourself is a function of returning to neutral, returning to balance, through meditation and paradigm shifting with compassion and lovingkindness toward others and yourself.

Mindful meditation is a useful habit to help create this.

A feeling of mistrust can skew the development of these capacities; it can decrease your chance to develop the positive aspects of the stages.  It can result in a lack of self-confidence, insecurity, timidity, a lack of internal strength, a sense of incompetence and ultimately if enough aspects are negatively affected then insecurity can create an individual who has difficulty with relationships, is unable to make basic decisions, and breaks down in nominally stressful situations.

This situation can be positively affected with meditation, prayer, breathing, and reality testing through compassionate paradigm shifting.

The first milestone to shifting your relationship with security into balance is through the development of self-confidence.

More about how to development self-confidence and stave off insecurity in upcoming blogs.  Also see February 3, 2011, blog instinctive health medicine, self-confidence vs insecurity, and other blogs through the search icon above under insecurity.

See you tomorrow.


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Mindfulness more useful in Parenting – Recent Canadian 20 year study identifies strong relationship between spanking and aggressive behavior


There has been a lot of research regarding the effects of disciplining children with physical punishment and spanking.  These studies have been conducted since 1990 and have consistently indicated negative results for this style of discipline especially an increase in aggressive and antisocial behavior on the part of the spanked child, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012).

Proponents of spanking as a form of discipline argue against this relationship  indicating that the children who need to be spanked or physically punished are already more aggressive and so this explains the connection between increased aggression in children who are spanked.

This recent study in the  Canadian Medical Association Journal spanning over twenty years controlled for this issue precisely and addressed the issue of causality.  The study followed children who were physically punished as a form of discipline and children who were not.

The study shows that children who are physically punished get more aggressive over time and those that are not physically punished get less aggressive over time.  Furthermore, it looked at studies where parents that were taught to change their methods from physical punishment to non-violent methods of discipline saw a decline in aggressive behavior in their children, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).

What is also good about this study is it looks at “everyday” acts of aggression so it is addressing the kind of physical punishment that is most common and it links these with increased aggression over time.

It also showed that those children that are spanked or hit are more likely to be aggressive toward family members or peers and exhibit other antisocial behavior.

The study’s analysis shows that there are short-term benefits to spanking, as it stops the unwanted behavior for the immediate situation; But these short-term benefits are at the cost of some very negative long-term effects.  It is linked to an increase in aggressive behavior in the long-term.

One of the Key Points of the study shows that NO study has found that physical punishment enhances  developmental health (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p1);  there is no  link between positive behavior and corporeal punishment in the long-run.

The authors reported on a meta-analysis of  studies since 1990 published in 2002 and conducted their own analysis to date and discovered no study – regardless of the sample size, or age of child – has been able to establish positive associations with physical discipline, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).

This is telling because from an anecdotal perspective spanking and hitting as a disciplinary tool are very common. Writing from my observations in my practice and the parents I know socially, I would estimate that over 75 percent use physical punishment and spanking to discipline their children; other polls have quoted 80 percent (Time, 2.6.2012, online).

In my experience, when talking with parents about this subject, individuals who were physically punished offer information about how they feel it was good for them; identifying specific skills they learned as a result.

However, upon examination what becomes more clear is that their learning was a result of them applying their own mindfulness to the situation to make sense out of the hitting, NOT as a result of some direct teaching or correlation connected to the physical punishment.  Most of these individuals express that although they will use physical punishment they will not do it to the extent their parents did; and those that use it state they feel their child understands why they are being punished.

One of the researchers and lead author of the report, Joan Durrant a Child Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Family Studies at the University of Manitoba, cited the issue in the U.S. of physical punishment being an integral part of the culture, a rare instance when an individual was raised without it, which makes it second nature to use physical punishment and feels out of the norm to raise a child without it, Fox News Health, 2.7.2012.

She also discerned that a big component of this style of parenting is that parents may be unaware of basic child development and may then inaccurately assess their child as being defiant or intentionally bad rather than simply acting in various ways that are consistent with normal child development, (Fox News Health, 2.7.2012).

According to an article in (Time, 2.6.2012)  about this specific study Durrant reports the most effective way to assist your children is through educating them about what they are doing that isn’t acceptable or appropriate she used the following example:

A young toddler who upends her cereal bowl on her head probably isn’t being ornery; she’s just curious to see what will happen. Durrant likes to use her son as an example. When he was 3, he dropped his dad’s toothbrush into the toilet. Another parent might have yelled, but Durrant’s academic background helped her realize that he was just experimenting: he dropped objects into water floating in sinks and bathtubs with nary a scolding; why not toilets too? “I explained what goes into toilets and then said, Do you think Daddy is going to want to put that toothbrush in his mouth now?” Message transmitted with no yelling.  (or spanking – my addition).

She is talking about Mindfulness.  Mindfulness incorporates an understanding about your child’s temperament and child development.  Recognizing the basic nature of children is curiosity and exploring their environment, that children are dealing with power issues and trying to understand how things work in relationship and in their environment, and they go through a spiraling developmental system where they have skills that then get reworked and lost as they develop their gross motor activities, fine motor activities and their inner cognitive systems, learning through modeling from the world around them, (Gesell Institute of Child Development, Ames and Ilg, 1979; Erik Erikson, Childhood and Society, 1960)

This study is good news for those of us who have been disciplining through mindfulness and dovetails very closely with the information presented in my book, Turning NO to ON:  The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness (8.14.2011).

It supports the instinctive sense that discipline is a function of knowing, understanding and teaching your child.  Durrant states in the article ”  Effective discipline rests on clear and appropriate expectations, effectively communicated within a trusting relationship and a safe environment”, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p4).

Discipline is an equation of knowing and understanding your child’s temperament and developmental stage + knowing and understanding his emotional and intellectual capacity + knowing and understanding your own temperament and emotional capacity + guiding toward a recognized set of goals + and knowing what you are trying to teach, when.  It is most effective when mindfulness is applied to this multi-faceted equation to get the most effective long-term results.

Reactivity can create problems with this equation in parenting and if your history is that you were spanked or hit as a child then you will have a reactivity to do just that.

In reality if you hit or spank a child to stop their behavior you will stop it for that immediate moment, but you are probably not teaching them what you think you are.

You may think you are teaching them to control themselves, think things through or have good manners but you are modeling something completely different.

You are modeling the opposite – not thinking things through not controlling yourself.

In fact you are modeling that hitting is a solution.  That hitting is a way to get control over another person.  That people in power can make others do things.  I know for many parents that sounds reasonable but if you just look at the long-term effects you can see how this is creating an environment for aggressive behavior, bullying and in some instances domestic violence among adults, low-self esteem and a lack of an internal locus of control – knowing what is right from an inner understanding cognitively with an ability to direct ones own course in life.

The article clarified information that children who are spanked may feel depressed and devalued, and their sense of self-worth can suffer… and physical punishment is a risk factor for child aggression and antisocial behavior, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).   It also identified studies which show researchers have found that physical punishment is linked to slower cognitive development and adversely affects academic achievement, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).  Through their analysis of  previous studies, other links identified show up later in life: mental – health problems including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, these may be mediated by disruptions of the parent-child attachment resulted  from pain inflicted by the caregiver, by increased levels of cortisol, or by chemical disruption of the brain’s mechanism for regulating stress, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).  

To avoid some of these devastating side-effects to spanking it seems wiser to utilize more effective ways to discipline that don’t promote the development of aggressive behavior, wreak self-esteem, and encourage antisocial behavior.

The most effective way to discipline is to utilize positive techniques of teaching and guiding.  The use of time-outs as a way of teaching your child to think through situations and communicate his needs and to help diffuse a negative situation, loss of privileges as a way of teaching connections, and increasing your communication with your child so that you can understand and guide him are all ways to discipline in a positive and educational way.

Mindfulness is a tool that you can use to structure your parenting to assist you and your child.  Remember to focus on how to be responsive rather than reactive and to identify the whole of what is going on to assist your child in developing self-control, thinking skills, and proper acceptable behavior.

Durant and Ensom identify as a Key Point in the article “A professional consensus is emerging that parents should be supported in learning non-violent, effective approaches to discipline”, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p1).

You can check out the information presented here through the sites identified in the article or the references below.

See you tomorrow.



Ames, Louise Bates & Ilg, Francis L.; Your Five-Year Old, Sunny ans Serene.  New York City, New York:  Dell Publishing Group:  1979.

Durrant, Joan and Ensom, Ron; Physical punishment of children: lessons from 20 years of research, CMAJ; cmaj .101314 v1; published ahead of print February 6, 2012, doi:10.1503/cmaj.101314 v1.

Erikson, Erik H.; Childhood and Society, Second Edition.  New York City, New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, inc:  1963.

Gineris, Beth; Turning NO to ON:  The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness.  Charleston, South Carolina:  CreateSpace Printing:  2011.


Focus your energy and breathe


As a therapist, my job is listening.

It  is a special kind of listening not the listening of a friend, or a mother who just wants to soothe.   Although I deeply care for those with whom I work, from a broader perspective listening has many facets.

It is a listening that requires rapid responses, redirection, and guidance offering a sense of calm.

The listening is active but not strained.  I’m present in the foreground in a neutral open way, while in the background my mind, heart, intuition, and senses are evaluating the information on some kind of inner grid; the person’s tonal quality, choice of words, and speech as well as the content of what was said and not said used to develop a multi-level understanding of the person and the problem at hand, in context.

I have developed a special kind of quiet speech, and stillness that becomes even more quiet and still in response to increased danger or lack of balance.  When working my voice has a soothing, relaxing quality that allows others to easily allow a trance state.

While in my personal interactions I may become agitated, in my therapeutic setting I seem to have the ability to drop my blood pressure and pulse in more dangerous circumstances, telegraphing a sense of calm composure.  In the same way an animal can smell fear I transmit a sense of security and peace to assist the person to return to a sense of calm balanced harmony.

This is something that I developed instinctively over a period of time when working in stressful, dangerous environments.  The calmer my demeanor the more likely the danger could be averted.

This tactic is directly related to the concept of energy and breath.

A fascinating phenomenon of activity and passivity in unison, which I believe is a the mechanism that allows others to feel better after being in my presence  and encourages them to return.

It is the sense of being seen and heard that allows the person to move forward to receive the necessary information and support from me.  This sense of visibility in a safe way is soothing and strengthening.

She experiences things already known by her as well as things unknown to her that have the quality  of truth or accuracy or deep familiarity.  In combination this increases a sense of security and strength.  And allows for a letting go of structures that no longer serve her and development of structures which do.

I have developed a way to transmit calm in stressful situations.  Practicing this skill will create an environment for harmony and I think it is what allows for the shifts in the people I see in my practice.

So it’s about paying attention and responding to the situation with a sense of calm neutral interest.  A serious and gentle way of guiding and supporting.

These are precisely the terms used to describe mindful mediation or mindfulness.  And it is through these actions that a person can reduce her anxiety or anxious behavior and feelings of obsessive compulsions.

So it is no wonder that the experience in therapy is soothing and strengthening.

But how to get that when you are not with your therapist.

It turns out the best thing to do is to imitate her in your response to yourself.

  • Smile, sit quietly, listen to yourself, your words, your tone, your word choice, what you say and what you hold back.
  • Listen and pay attention with a sense of calm neutral interest.
  • Appreciating the situation with a gentle seriousness.
  • To get to this kind of state the first thing to do is to focus your energy inward in a gentle, calm and interested way.
  • A gentle questioning: what is going on here, what do I feel, when did it begin, what relationships are present?
  • Then listening to the answer that presents itself with a neutral interest; no need to prove the rightness or wrongness of what is noticed.
  • Then Breathe.  Breathe again deeply and fully with a smile in between your exhalation and inhalation.  Allowing for your heart to open and listen too.
  • A feeling of Love and a connection to spirit help.

Feeling a warm caring and sense of spiritual connection allows me to move into my heart even when I have lost my way, by simply breathing, focusing my energy, smiling and being open  to the perfect answer to the situation presenting itself.

Allowing things to flow seems to be the most difficult.

If you have created success through your mind’s ability to discover the answer and prove it, you will find this allowing part difficult.  Remembering that pushing the river takes more energy and doesn’t get very far – go with the flow.

In general the best answers come to us, they appear or present themselves.  Yes perhaps as a result of study, and work on the problem but is usually after the problem is set to the back burner that the whole picture is revealed along with the solution.

So focusing your energy on the problem, setting a desire or intention, and then releasing it unto breath – breathing through the need to make it happen especially when it’s out of your control, that is the place of real strength and power.

Focus your energy and breathe, you will feel that inner sense of calm and a sense of inner balance.  From this place you will see solutions present themselves if you are paying attention to the information in the universe.

See you tomorrow,