We're all loving the best we can.
Most of our parents did--even when they may have pressured us to: do well, be on time, keep an orderly room, say "please" and "thank you," eat all the food on our plate, or buckle up. I enjoy believing that, even when perverted by exhaustion or lack of resources, most of us are [and our parents were] all loving to the best of our capacities.
Here is where we are faced with a crucial interpretation moment: we responded to this as an appropriate level of structure to our lives, much like a trellis structures a vine's growth [up regulating to accommodate the input], or we interpreted this as: nag nag nag, down regulating the input by developing defenses. Much like in a diabetic condition, the insistent production and presence of insulin causes receptor sites to "become deaf to" the high levels of insulin; they learn to ignore the barrage of the hormone by decreasing the number of receptors for that message. In the case of criticism, we began to interpret these accumulated directives as a kind of nag or overwhelm, and developed defenses against the input to protect the self.
Nag Nag Nag--I Can't Hear You
At an emotional level, once that defense mechanism has been installed, it can become excited. Whenever someone criticizes us, feeling threatened or overwhelmed, the body acts like it's on red alert, mobilizing as if a germ, virus, or foreigner was invading the system. If we become hypersensitive to others' opinions, we're always in a mental state of defense. A threat mental is a threat physical; they cannot be differentiated by the body.
Consider this hypothetical hold-up scenario. I walk into your office pointing a gun at your body yelling, "Give me your wallet, give me your money NOW!" Practically wetting your pants with fear, [maybe even crying and defecating], you hand it over. As I look you in the eye, trembling half to death, I squirt you with my water gun, not a real gun at all.
You reacted with every cell of your body like your life depended on it, even though it was a farce. Your mind promoted the same reaction in your body that it had inside of itself [mind/brain]. The mind interpreted a need for defense and the body responded. Herein is a possible psychological and emotional foundation for autoimmunity. Just as in the insulin example, a cell environment or organism that repeatedly receives the red alert signal starts to down regulate via defending the organism. A criticism is interpreted mentally [and so physically] as just another foreigner. The body has prepared a defense system and is primed with hypervigilance for more more more.
I have found in practice that these individuals, who do not take criticism well, often need and hungrily seek approval from others to feel good about themselves. If one wasn't allowed sufficient space for creativity, if one was tightly controlled by parents' agenda, if one wasn't permitted to create, make mistakes, and learn on their own terms, the dictates to perform often come from others and approval is sought there. Their sense of self relies on and is connected to other [think: umbilical cord].
Are you someone who:
- doesn't take directions well?
- goes out of way to please others?
- seeks out a professional, yet doesn't receive/utilize advice/suggestions?
- avoids seeking help out, yet declares need for help?
- receives on "their terms" only?
- employs extreme receptivity filters--listens only to what one wants to hear?
- is approval seeking and voice discovering?
- requires excessive structure & instruction in learning environments?
- becomes lost if not told exactly how to proceed?
- has difficulty improvising?
- prefers following directions rather than creating anew?
- generally likes to avoid making mistakes?
- feels like an outsider and is trying to find or fit in with a group?
Note how often you're triggered by others' criticisms. Do you create a persona to fit in with crowds?
Once we can attune to those reactivities, we can realize how much energy we're putting into defense mechanisms.
Once one can calm the psychological component of the defense mechanism, the body will calm down.
Concurrent with you and your doctor's plan for addressing food allergies, you can be actively redesigning psychological structures that predate and helped pattern this cascade of interpretation-defense.
- Learn to enjoy how to create for yourself
- Learn that everyone has an opinion. If you love yourself and are at peace with own viewpoint [you are content, you do not have to defend it], then let others have theirs.
- Allow for differences.
- Notice what happens when you prepare both food and body for meal.
- Say grace before meals. Ask that the food be given a "new life" in this body, or that this food now contribute to the creation of deeper, fuller conscious awareness and right action.
A Final Note on Food
Receiving nourishment without need to defend against it is a practice in receiving without feeling threatened. Note carefully if you create a sacred space around your meal times. Turn off phones, turn off anything with a screen. You're not practicing defending your food-time but practicing fully receiving the nourishment of the food. Let this food become the bodily structure, the trellis, upon which our Spiritual unfoldment relies and is uplifted. Breathe at least once, fully, after each time you swallow. Slow down. Feeling the food in your mouth and feeling the food exit mouth and continue its process is the neurological basis for satiety [read: at peace with your state]. Feeling the food is a major leverage point from which you will begin to shift the psychology of invasion. Feel the food enter your mouth and receive the textures, the flavors, the olfactory components.
A strong mind helps the body become strong. Sometimes we have to follow our physical condition upstream to a point of origin--the origin of patterns. There, we can strengthen a healthy pattern. A strong foundation deserves a strong following.
Other resources from which you may benefit:
Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It
The Highly Sensitive Person