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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Love Hurts: The Lessons

I wrote this article in December 2000 when I was still in the Philippines. I published it in my Bizland website which is no longer in existence. During this time, I was teaching Philosophy full time (7 subjects and usually 4 preparations) and was also enrolled at Xavier University in its MA program in Guidance and Counselling. 
I decided to publish this article in this website today, hoping that some of you can benefit from the lessons I have learned 10 years ago.
Below were the lessons I have learned when love hurt:
 1.  Remember that you are both the action and the reaction--to a certain extent you are the external force and the subject of that force.  You create the situation you find yourself in by contributing to it, consciously or unconsciously. Thus, if you are hurt in a  relationship which is supposed to be a loving one as you dreamt it to be, to a certain extent, you caused the hurt itself.  You caused your own woundedness.
2.  You cannot control people. Controlling people is opposite to loving them.  Control is manipulation, putting limits, becoming a master. To control people is to chain them to you in invisible slavery. Control destroys love or whatever is left of it. When you let go of the need to control, you also free yourself from the hurting situation. 
3.  Just as there cannot be spring without winter, so there cannot also be happiness without pain.  Joy and sorrow are two sides of the same reality.  Learn from your sorrow so you can find greater joy. Therefore, don't be afraid of the occasional pain and hurt--the greater the pain, the greater the capacity for happiness. Sorrow digs the pit, happiness fills it in.  The deeper your desolation, the higher your consolation.
4.  Allow change. Change is natural and to fetter and restrict this process creates tensions. There can never be a state of equilibrium in the natural scheme of things. All things considered, everything is in a state of flux. Don't resist the change that a failed relationship offers. Flow with it, welcome the change, and move on.  When love fails and it hurts so much, move on. Welcome the changes that a failed relationship brings into your life. Don't stay in the shadows. Go out into the sun and bask in its warmth. That is the best way to welcome change.
5.  You don't have to understand  why a love hurt or why it failed.  Even the person who has hurt you might not have been aware of the reasons why things happened the way they did.  Have faith that whatever happened has a reason. Perhaps a failed relationship could open a new door for a more loving, nurturing relationship. Maybe the person who has hurt you was your teacher in disguise. You don't have to know everything but it is within your grasp to learn from your pain.
6.  The very nature of the universe is that it presents innumerable options. You need not restrict your choices and thereby narrowing your path from a more fulfilled, expansive life. Take your time to look, to observe, to test, to anticipate outcomes, to search, and to discover. You don't have to stay in a toxic relationship. There are many people out there who may be seeking for the kind of person that you are and for the kind of love you alone can uniquely give.
7.  Trust life. Trust the universe. Trust your self. Not all of life is painful. Not all of the universe is uncertain. Not all of your decisions are  wrong. Sometimes, we arrive at the right decisions after having made wrong ones. Trusting allows us the capacity to love again and to be whole again.
8.  There is a connectedness, a kind of synchronicity in our lives. What may be considered as a disaster may be an enabling event to set your life in a new, positive pattern.  For example,  had I not been over-protected by my parents, I would not have gotten married early. Had not my marriage failed, I would not have met the most wonderful man, and I would not have known what I missed in a loving relationship all these years.
9.  Look inside yourself for your spiritual basis. Your spirituality enables you to make order out of disorder, to make meaning out of chaos.  It takes great strength and faith in yourself to see beyond your immediate defeats and realize that there is something significantly larger than yourself.  
10.  Everything in your life matters. It is true that there are wrong turns, lost opportunities, sad endings. But all these contribute to the making of the solidity and dignity of yourself. For instance, even wrinkles matter. The wrinkles in a face represent defeats, failures, wrong turns, lost opportunities, and sad endings. Beneath all these wrinkles are lessons learned which make the person who has them a better person, more loving, more understanding, more able to cope, more secure, and infinitely wiser.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Profile of the Bully

Have you ever received an insulting remark, given a dirty look, or experienced social ridicule and exclusion? Whatever it was you experienced from a bully, it was probably one or all of these: undermining, humiliating, excluding, and shaming. 
The psychological impact of bullying can be devastating, long lasting, and can even be tragic. Recently, bullying has resulted in 4 gay teen suicides in the US alone. Here's a quick profile of these victims:
  1. 18-year-old Tyler Clementi (New Jersey), a Rutgers freshman, posted a brief farewell on facebook then jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge because his roommate secretly taped and broadcast him in a sexual encounter with another man. 
  2. 13-year-old Seth Walsh (California) had been bullied and relentlessly teased for being openly gay…and hung himself from a tree in his back yard. 
  3. Eighth-grader Asher Brown (Texas) shot himself in response to constant harassment from fellow students about being gay. 
  4. 15-year-old Billy Lucas (Indiana) never told anyone he was gay, but his peers assumed he was, tormented him because of it, and he hung himself in the family’s barn.
Schoolyard bullying (the torment of one child by another) is often compared to workplace bullying (the torment of one employee by another). Both types show a tormentor who is insecure, inadequate, and exercises control by humiliating the target. 
The Canada Safety Council has identified that 72% of workplace bullies are bosses. The target of workplace bullies are usually dedicated staff members, well-liked by co-workers, with a non-confrontative interpersonal style. The bully considers their capability a threat and therefore tries to undermine them by unjustified criticism and trivial fault finding.
Bullying, whether in the school or in the workplace, is intended to harm or disturb; it is carried out repeatedly and over time; and it is an interpersonal relationship characterized by an imbalance of power, with the powerful person attacking the less powerful one (Nansel, et al., 2001). 
Bullies harass on purpose using direct modes such as verbal abuse (teasing, insults, cruel remarks), physical abuse (shoving, pushing, hitting) and psychological abuse (rolling one’s eyes, giving the dirty looks, making a mean face). They also harass in an indirect way using malicious gossip, excluding or leaving out the intended victim in conversations or meetings, and engaging in social aggression (telling others not to befriend the victim). 
Nowadays, bullying extends over social networks and can cause tremendous harm and irreversible damage on the victim because it has a global audience. A boss can write disparaging remarks directed to her subordinate and publish it worldwide, for everyone to see. Veiled as a joke, one can write a cruel sentence or two on Facebook which can lead to stress and agony for the intended victim.
To write about the profile of the bully is to look at the dark, nauseating side of some people. These are the people who make your child not want to go to school. These are the people who create unnecessary stress, tension, and negativity in your workplace. Below are some common characteristics of the bully. See if anyone you know fits the profile.
1) Self-absorption. The bully is narcissistic, does not care about anyone (although pretends to) and does do not see value in helping others or being friendly, unless there is something in it for him/her. 
2) Obsession with status. The things the bully values the most is power and status. There  is an almost palpable preoccupation of wanting to dominate and control others. The bully would rather be powerful than charming.
3) Aggressive communication. The bully will often criticize, blame, yell at people, call them names and so on. This style of communication quickly makes people either shut up or become aggressive themselves.
4) Exaggerated teasing. The bully will not stop at making a few jokes. The goal of the bully is to  constantly tease people and make fun of them, especially in public and especially in ways which really hurt. 
5) Lying. The typical bully has no interest in honesty, only in getting what he or she wants. For this reason,  the bully will not hesitate to lie, deceive and manipulate people, and the huge lies may sound like honest truths.
6) Using others. It is very common for the bully, especially in the workplace, to get other people to do part of their work without helping back. Some bullies can cultivate a small army of "slaves" at work.
7) Threatening people. The bully will not hesitate to threaten people to get what he/she wants. If the bully can get you to do something by causing fear, this will be the bully's tool. Most bullies are known to illicit fear in others.
8) Low self-esteem. The bully usually has low self-esteem, is insecure, and would like to ridicule or put down anyone who is better than him/her, especially those who are capable and well-liked.
9. Strong support base. The bully selects a strong base, usually those who have the same bullying patterns. This support base acts like a group of cronies who protects the bully and vice-versa. 
10. Calloused conscience. The bully sleeps well at night. Probably because of lack of empathy, he/she does not see anything wrong in tormenting others. 
If your child has experienced bullying by some classmates, it is best to report it to the teacher or to the principal. No child deserves to be bullied by another.
If you have experienced workplace bullying, you can report it to the management. If the bully is in the management, you can resign or you can wait until the bully fires you. Or you can learn to cope. Whatever coping style you choose, remember that you have the choice to walk away and leave the bully behind.
If you want to know the effects of bullying on your mental, emotional, and physical health, go to
Note to my readers: Share your personal stories of bullying to other readers! Write it in  the Comment section or send your story to I will be delighted to respond to you right away.
Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W., June, S. B., & Scheidt, P. Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. Journal of American Medical Association, 285(16), 2094-2100.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eating Well for Health

I have about 30 minutes to share what I have learned about eating well for health. My favorite books in the Calgary public libraries seem to be about food, nutrition, wellness, longevity and health. Of course I also read other subjects but my main pre-occupation is to learn more about healthy eating for good health.

Here are the major components of how to eat well for your health, based from my readings:
1. Eat mostly plant foods. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably grown by local farmers who don’t use artificial fertilizers and insecticides. Have at least 5-7 servings of plants foods everyday, in rainbow colors.
2. Choose healthy fats. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, are excellent sources of Omega 3s which could boost and enhance brain functioning. Between red meat and fish, choose fish instead.
3. Limit your intake of processed foods (cakes, ice cream, Coke) or avoid them altogether. Sugary foods have been linked to diabetes and obesity. Choose instead whole, unprocessed foods like oats, brown rice, wheat, beans.
4. If you need to fry, do so at a medium temperature to preserve the enzymes in the food and use as little oil as possible. If you need to grill (sugba, in Cebuano term), marinate your meat with soy sauce and crushed garlic. The garlic prevents the oxidative process when the meat is burned during the grilling process.
5. If you want to eat in a restaurant, ask for veggie salad to go with your main course. Avoid fatty and salty foods when ordering.
6. Drink green tea. It has antioxidants that will help your body combat oxidative stress.
7. Drink low-fat milk everyday. It is a good source of calcium.
8. Red meat is still a good source of proteins not found in plant foods. Choose lean or extra lean red meat. Use them as side dish to go with your veggies.
9. Choose healthy snacks such as fruits or nuts. Snacks should ward off hunger, and therefore, they should not be as huge as your main meals.
10. Take a multi-vitamin-mineral supplement everyday.
There. These are the basics. I suggest you read more about new, scientific research on how some foods can be our medicine. Remember, you are what you eat.
Enjoy eating for health!