How to Learn from Mistakes

Bill Benson’s January Tip: Struggle for Success

Bill Benson,  LMFT, LPCC

Bill Benson,

Happy New Year and here we go again! The early months of any year provide a popular period for pursuing healthier outcomes. But betterment often requires we try on new or different approaches when looking to change our perceptions and/or circumstances:

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein

“I’m going to get into top physical shape” or “I’m going to make more money this year” or “I’m going to have a better marriage”: these are all positive resolutions, however, when we tackle these pursuits by repeating regimens that have formally failed us, our chances of succeeding are greatly diminished.

Sigmund Freud coined the term Repetition Compulsion to describe this “desire to return to an earlier state of things.” Fortunately, there are checks and balances in life to help us manage this instinct and to guide us toward more realistic and effective ways to grow and enlighten ourselves – if we pay attention….

Most would agree that squeezing into a pair of sneakers we wore in 5th grade would be silly – walking around in these under-sized shoes would be painful and regrettable. Yet, this is, in essence, what occurs when we remain unaware and do not update our perceptions to fit our adulthood experiences.

Struggle indicates a pattern of behavior that is no longer useful to you.

When we struggle, we are in disharmony with ourselves and/or our surroundings. Often, this is a result of thinking or behaving in ways that are not appropriate for the given circumstance we’re in – this understanding can help and ultimately aid us in our personal growth.

Struggle awareness, allows us to inductively uncover the thoughts that have led us into this discomfort. We are then able to question and challenge the validity of these root-truths to determine whether these beliefs propel us toward or deter to us from our goals.

This year, before setting out, make sure you are carrying a seasoned map thoughtfully revised through the richness of your past experiences.

Growth occurs not by avoiding mistakes but by learning from these missteps and applying the knowledge acquired for future, more successful journeys.

Guest Columnist Duane Law’s Tip: We’re only 10% Human – And That’s Okay.

Duane Law, LA.c.

Duane Law, LA.c.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was common to assume that someone suffering from anxiety, depression or madness was being poisoned by internal toxins. With the rise of psychoanalysis in the 1920s, this concept fell into disrepute.

But new evidence shows intestinal health may be more important to mental health than we thought. One of the more interesting discoveries of recent years has been complex nerve linkages between the intestines and the brain. Yes, gut feelings really do count.

The new research shows that for every human cell in our bodies, there are ten non-human microbes. Our bodies are actually a community of thousands of different life forms. The name given to this community is the microbiome.

Last year The Economist magazine published a very user-friendly introduction to the concept of the microbiome here and here with a brief video introduction here.

The vast majority of these “alien” microbes exist in deep and ancient harmony with us; indeed, they can play vital roles in the maintenance of good health. Helpful bacteria in our gut help us absorb critical nutrients and manufacture others for our benefit. They protect us from unhealthy micro-organisms like candida.

And since the brain is 2% of the body’s weight while using 20% of the body’s energy, any disturbance of these colonies of helpful microbes can show up as psychological symptoms long before other issues appear.

Modern industrialized diets and widespread antibiotic use appear to be having a profoundly destabilizing effect on the microbiome as well as cognition and mental health throughout the world. When we consume large quantities of refined carbohydrates (ie: sugar) unhealthy bacteria thrive. Antibiotics, while saving lives, can also lay waste to these complex and crucial communities of healthy life forms, allowing the unhealthy ones to take over.

A growing body of research is linking the inflammation and malnutrition set in motion by unhealthy gut flora and fauna to spreading epidemics of depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, autism, cardiovascular disease and more.

We realize this news may come as something of a shock. So here’s a quick intro to some of the more interesting studies that have appeared recently telling the story of how our bodies are 90% non-human … and how important this is to our well-being.

Bonaz and Bernstein explained how intimately connected the central nervous system and its neuro-endocrine control mechanisms are with gastro-intestinal health. Ohland, Kish et al showed that western-style diets produce weight gain, immune-driven inflammation and anxiety in mice, and that probiotics, supplements that restore the natural gut microbiome, reduced anxiety-driven behavior.

Bested, Logan and Selhub published a three-part series in Gut Pathology that examines these issues in depth. The original papers are available online for free. Part I covers the early history of the field and the controversial concept of “auto-intoxication” that emerged in the early 20th century as an explanation for mental illness.

Part II takes a look at contemporary research detailing “leaky gut syndrome” and mental health. “Leaky Gut” is a condition in which food allergies increase the permeability of the intestinal wall in ways that increase inflammation throughout the body and brain. Part III explores the progress of research to date and the development of the ideas explaining how the health of the gut’s microbiome can influence behavior, cognition and mood.

The good news is that there are relatively simple ways of helping restore these populations of healthy microbes. For more information about how to go about this, get in touch.