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How to Tell the Difference Between Fear and Intuition

By Judith Orloff, MD

In Emotional Freedom, my approach to transforming fear has two stages. First, take stock of what makes you afraid and distinguish irrational fears from legitimate intuitions. Second, take appropriate steps to heed protective fears and transform the others with courage. At times you may foresee real danger, but more frequently unproductive fears clobber you.

Therefore as a general rule, train yourself to question fears tied to low self-esteem; we’re all worthy of what’s extraordinary. For example, it’s right to question the fear that you’re too emotionally damaged to love; even the severely wounded can have their hearts opened again. True intuitions will never put you down or support destructive attitudes or behavior. Here are some guidelines for distinguishing legitimate fears from irrational ones:

 

How to Tell Fear from Intuition

Signs of a Reliable Intuition

 Conveys information neutrally, unemotionally

 Feels right in your gut

 Has a compassionate, affirming tone

 Gives crisp, clear impressions that are “seen” first, then felt

 Conveys a detached sensation, like you’re in a theater watching a movie

Signs of an Irrational Fear

 Is highly emotionally charged

 Has cruel, demeaning, or delusional content

 Conveys no gut-centered confirmation or on-target feeling

 Reflects past psychological wounds

 Diminishes centeredness and perspective

For comparison’s sake, I’ll share radically different examples of how I use the above criteria. One morning I got two calls from frightened patients who both claimed to be hearing voices. Truly a typical day in my office! The first came from Bill, a schizophrenic who’d been skimping on his meds. Bill’s inner “voice” kept haranguing him, insisting he was a bad person, that his food was poisoned, that his son was being raped again by the grandmotherly babysitter. Believing these “delusions” (false beliefs unsubstantiated by fact), he was absolutely unhinged. So Bill kept calling the cops, who sent a squad car out twice, but found no threat. Tolerant but tiring of this, the officers warned that if he contacted them again, they’d haul him off to a psychiatric hospital. My other patient, Jean, had been coping with despair about her brother suffering from end-stage AIDS. Jean’s inner “voice” said to immediately fly to New York to join him, though he’d recently been stable. True of authentic intuitions, it came through clear-as-a-bell, oddly matter-of-fact and followed the typical progression of being “seen first,” then felt.

Both patients asked me, “What should I do?’ I urged Bill to take his meds and offered reassurance about his safety, a tack that had lessened his fear many times in our decade of working together. Jean, however, I supported in buying a plane ticket because her intuition felt so imminent, so right. Fortunately, she did, despite the expense and inconvenience to her job. That week her brother took a sudden turn for the worse, slipped into a coma and died within hours. Heart-breaking as witnessing his death was for Jean, she was able to be at her brother’s side in those precious last moments.

Try to separate unhealthy fears from intuition. Though Bill’s case was extreme, you may also have some fears that belittle you or cause you to misinterpret danger. Perhaps in a fit of anger your ex-wife called you “useless” and you believed it. This is not intuition. Nor is being frightened of having cancer whenever a brown spot appears on your skin. Also, be skeptical of long-standing fears, say of heights; these are typically not premonitions.

If you’re an emotional empath, it can be especially tricky to ascertain which fears are authentic, helpful intuitions. Because you tend to absorb other people’s emotions, you may pick up their fear and think it’s your own. To avoid this, always ask yourself, “Is the fear mine or someone else’s?” One dependable way to find out is to distance yourself from the source. Move at least twenty feet away. If you experience relief, it’s likely you’re perceiving another’s fear. Although it’s fine to absorb courage and all positive emotions from others because they’ll strengthen you, you don’t want to absorb negativity. Move away, and keep releasing extraneous fear by exhaling it until the feeling passes.

While some apprehensions may be empathically linked to another’s feelings or, like Jean’s, are distinct intuitive warnings, the more garden variety ones reflect ingrained negative psychological patterns. To resolve these, you must know where they come from and do what’s necessary to loosen their hold.

About the Author: Judith Orloff, MD, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and intuition expert, is author of the New York Times Best-seller Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011). Her other best-sellers are Positive EnergyGuide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting-edge knowledge of intuition and energy medicine. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

How to Stop Emotional Eating

By Denise Foley

Did you buy six boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year because you couldn’t say no to the world’s cutest 7-year-old in a Brownie uniform? Did you take that extra helping of your sister-in-law’s whole wheat carob cake because you didn’t want to hurt her feelings? When your BFF is waffling over ordering dessert, do you agree to share it with her even though you don’t want it – and then match her bite for bite?

If you could answer yes to any of these questions, you may suffer from sociotropy – the scientific term for having the need to please others. While that might make you the right candidate to broker peace in the Mideast, excessive niceness is a recipe for excessive girth. And it’s only one of the character traits that can lead to unhappy mornings on the scale.

We all know the major triggers of emotional eating: anger, loneliness, rejection, guilt. Most of us, at one time or another, have taken out our fury on a bag of crunchy corn chips or tried to beat the blues with a pint of cookie-dough ice cream. But new research shows that certain personality types are also prone to making a frosted donut a chosen alternative to therapy. Besides the sociotrope, there’s the thrill seeker and the worka-choco-holic – and each type needs different strategies for coping without the extra calories.

The People Pleaser: You Eat for One, But It’s Not You

In a recent experiment at Case Western Reserve University, researchers screened volunteers for their “gotta be nice” qualities, then invited them to a meeting with a staff member (actually an actor) who casually passed around a bowl of M&M’s. When the bowl came their way, students who’d scored higher on the sociotropy scale dug in, taking more than the students who were less concerned with others’ comfort or with matching how many the actor ate. “They didn’t want him to feel bad by eating fewer,” explains study head Julie Exline, Ph.D.

We often eat more when we’re around those who are eating a lot – that’s one reason studies show that people whose friends are overweight are more likely to be heavy themselves. “Then, if you have a people-pleasing thing going on top of that, you’ll feel even more pressured to follow others,” says Exline.

After overeating comes depression, and not just because you can’t zip your jeans. “When your motivation is to please other people, you’re letting them tell you what’s important to you,” says Exline. “I describe it as ‘silencing your own voice.’ ” The goal, then, to avoid piling on those unpleasing pounds, is to find that voice.

1. First, Consider What You Want 
If you’re not truly hungry, “Lay on praise, then state your boundary,” suggests Karen R. Koenig, a psychotherapist and author of Nice Girls Finish Fat. You might say, “Those pastries look delicious, but I’m so stuffed from lunch that I’m going to take a pass.” You can smile at that cute Brownie, give her the money for two boxes of cookies, then ask her to donate them to troops overseas. 

2. De-nice Yourself…A Little 
Of course, you’re going to be fighting an enemy that has outposts in your head, as writer Sally Kempton famously said. Even if you were the biggest tomboy on the block, you probably grew up believing that caretaking was in your future, if not somewhere in your genes. “But changing isn’t as hard as you may think,” says Koenig. “It’s really about learning a new life skill.”

Practice saying a (polite) no to the salesperson on the phone (start with the robocaller if you’re a tough case), then work your way up to strangers offering samples in a store and coworkers tempting you with holiday goodies. After that, you’ll be ready to take on your cousin when she pushes a second helping of pie at you.

Are you eating out of boredom? The Thrill Seeker: You’re Bored and Want Candy

What you probably want is a jolt of dopamine, says Susan Carnell, Ph.D., research associate at New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. That’s the brain chemical that drives excitement, pleasure, and motivation – including the motivation to eat. “The dopamine system evolved with the very purpose of making adaptive things like eating feel rewarding so we wouldn’t forget to do them.”

These days, says Carnell, drugs, thrill seeking, and food cravings have hijacked the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction, accidents, and overeating. Recent studies have found that ingesting sugary, fatty foods sparks dopamine production in the brain in much the same way drugs like heroin do, lighting up the neural reward center in imaging studies. “It’s just a matter of degree,” says Carnell. “Food gives a relatively mild high compared to skydiving and heroin. But it’s the easiest route to reward.”

Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of research on boredom eating, but a small 2011 Bowling Green State University study hints at how prevalent it is. In the study, 139 young men and women reported eating out of boredom more than out of other states of emotion linked to overindulging, such as anxiety or depression.

Older studies, approaching boredom from a slightly different direction, have suggested a connection between having what scientists call a “novelty-seeking personality” and being overweight. In a review from Washington University in St. Louis, obese people were more likely than thinner folks to be novelty seekers; they also had great trouble dropping pounds. One reason: Being high in novelty-seeking can make you more likely to overeat as well as to try and enjoy drugs. Cocaine, a cupcake – it’s all the same when you’re looking for a kick.

Joking aside, if your life seems like one big yawn, there are things to do other than hitting the fridge.

1. Seek Out a Thrill 
Make a list of activities that can fill in the boring blanks. “To stimulate your neural circuitry, it has to be something that makes you feel excited and motivated,” says Carnell. You could, for example, take a class. Dopamine is the chemical that fosters learning and memory, so the novelty of doing something new scatters the chemical throughout your brain. Whether it’s knitting or scuba diving depends on you and the level of excitement you think you need.

2. Shake Up Your Life Regularly 
Get off the bus at a different stop and hoof it the rest of the way to work, checking out the sights you’ve only seen from a window. Plan your dream vacation or home-remodeling project in detail, as if you’re doing it soon. Need to lose weight? A single program may not help you, particularly if you get bored counting calories, carbs, or points. So try one and, after the thrill’s gone, try another. Likewise, alternate physical activity – walking one day, Zumba the next.

Busy lives can contribute to weight gainThe Worka-choco-holic: You’re Overworked, Overwhelmed – and Overeating

Those are the “three O’s” that are the downfall of driven women, says psychologist Melissa McCreery, Ph.D., which explores how women’s busy lives contribute to emotional eating and weight gain. The “O’s” can all lead to stress eating. “But there’s more to it than stress,” says McCreery. “Women who balance many responsibilities struggle with putting themselves first. It takes time. Food is an easy Band-Aid, while real self-care can be more time-intensive.”

But solutions come in many sizes – and even small changes may be enough to avoid the extra pounds that can come with extra work.

1. Think “Doable” 
You don’t want to add more stress to your life. For example, take five minutes to transition between work and home. If you know you won’t find quiet – everyone will be “starving” or clamoring to tell you about his or her day – sit in the car and listen to music or meditate before going into the house.

2. Connect With Yourself 
When you’re stressed, take five again – five seconds – before digging into the Nutella. “Ask yourself what’s going on and if there’s anything else you want to do besides eat,” says McCreery.

Make a list of small breaks that don’t involve chewing: calling a friend; playing a game on your cell phone; tossing a toy for your dog.

3. Say It Out Loud 
A recently published Greek study found that people who were trying to learn a new skill did better when they spoke to themselves using cue words. When you’re stressed, voicing your plan to do something other than eat – “I’m going to sit down and read for five minutes” – will change the direction of your thoughts, says McCreery. “It takes you off autopilot and puts you more in control.”

If that doesn’t work, instead of blaming yourself, be curious. Think about what went wrong and what you could do next time. Overachievers are smart; harness your own wisdom, and you’ll find your answers there.

Getting enough sleep can deter emotional eatingGo to the Mattress

No matter what your personality, if you’re tired, you’ll be tempted to look for a quick hit of energy – the kind that lives in vending machines or behind drive-through windows. Many of us know this from life experience, but now, using brain-imaging technology, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have confirmed that people who have been sleep-deprived suffer impairment in the parts of the brain involved in making appropriate food choices. The solution: Make sleep time sacrosanct. When you can’t log enough hours, try these next-day tricks: Give your brain a rest every 45 minutes or so. “No matter how busy you are, you’ll be more productive if you take breaks,” says psychologist Melissa McCreery, Ph.D. And find other quick ways to boost energy – move around, go outside for some fresh air, or listen to upbeat music on your iPod.

8 Ways to Use Your Mind to Live Longer

by Self Magazine

Fret Less

To banish worries, put stressors on paper. Writing them down and stashing the note in a “worry jar” (or a drawer) makes it easier to compartmentalize and move on, says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a psychologist in Washington, D.C. Limiting anxiety is healthy. A surfeit of the stress hormone cortisol may lead to chronic pain, depression, cognitive issues and even heart problems, potentially shortening your life. Not to mention that constant worry is no fun.

Keep Your Sunny Side Up

Optimists live longer, plain and simple. In a 15-year study of more than 100,000 women, cheery types were 14 percent less likely to die in an eight-year period than gloomy gals were, the National Institutes of Health Women’s Health Initiative finds. To change your thinking, visualize a happy moment: “Imagining yourself in a hammock on the beach can have an immediate, relaxing effect on the body that makes it more difficult to stay focused on the negative,” Bonior says.

If All Else Fails, Take a Nap

When life starts getting you down, catch 40 winks. If you’re stressed out, a 45-minute daytime snooze may lower your blood pressure, a study from Allegheny College reports. Siestas also help you catch up on much-needed sleep. That’s crucial, because chronic sleep deprivation can cause aging at the cellular level. So give yourself permission to nap like a kid. We predict you’ll start feeling like one, too.

Your Relaxation Rx

Which mind/body treatments have the most rock-solid science backing them up? Brent Bauer, M.D., director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, provides the big picture.

For: Back pain Try: Yoga

For: High cholesterol Try: Qigong

For: Depression Try: Music therapy, qigong, yoga

For: Eating disorders Try: Meditation, yoga

For: Fertility Try: Visualization, yoga

For: Heart health Try: Deep breathing, qigong, yoga

For: Immunity Try: Breathing, chants, meditation, qigong

For: Insomnia Try: Acupuncture, visualization, yoga

For: Joint pain Try: Music therapy, qigong, yoga

For: Migraines Try: Acupuncture, yoga

The Science

The latest cutting-edge research proves your mind can heal your body. Here’s how:

Your body dials down stress. Dr. Benson’s research has found that mind/body practices—meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, visualization—all elicit the relaxation response, quelling the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Your heart slows, blood pressure falls and digestion eases. 

Your immunity soars. The relaxation response causes cells to release micropuffs of nitric oxide, a gas that dilates blood vessels and stabilizes the immune system, Dr. Benson reported in Medical Science Monitor. Mind/body methods worked as well as drugs designed to do the same thing, without the side effects.

Your genes change. Here’s the real slap-your-forehead news: In a study in PLoS ONE, Dr. Benson compared the genes of 38 people, half of whom meditated regularly and half of whom never did. Controlling for other factors, he found that genes associated with stress-related illness behaved differently in the two groups. “These genes control not only stress but also premature aging and inflammation,” he says. It seems meditators’ genes were essentially telling their body to stress less and age more slowly.

www.healingpowerhour.com

Food That Will Boost Your State of Mind

By Jennifer Matlack
 

For the longest time, I swore I wasn’t a morning person. As soon as I ate my routine breakfast of a toasted bagel with butter, I had to pinch myself to stay awake.

Recently, I discovered my heavy lids and endless yawns were not a predisposition, but rather a result of my diet. “Carbohydrates have a relaxing effect,” says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., director of the women’s health program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and coauthor of The Serotonin Solution. “And eating too many will make you sleepy,” she says.

Instead of feeling drowsy, I could actually rise and shine in the morning? Absolutely. And you can, too, if you’re mindful of what you eat.

“Your diet ultimately has an impact on how you feel,” says Mary Beth Augustine, R.D., a dietitian at the Continuum Center for Health & Healing in New York City. Banish three unsavory moods by eating the right foods.

Mood: Stressed Out or Tense
You’re running late for an important meeting; you’re working on a tight deadline; you’re waiting for medical results from a serious test. No matter the scenario, strained situations can produce similar physiological reactions in your body. “Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate in-creases and your body makes glucose to give you the energy you need to get through,” says Augustine. There’s also a rise in cortisol, a hormone that, when released over time, can lead to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Foods to reach for:
Complex carbo-hydrates, such as legumes, whole-grain breads and cereals, and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn.

Why it works:
“Carbohydrates destress you by increasing the production of serotonin,” says Dr. Wurtman. This key chemical in your brain improves mood, increases emotional energy and relieves pain.

Keep in mind:
Simple carbohydrates that are refined or processed, such as doughnuts and cookies, up serotonin production faster than complex carbohydrates by quickly releasing glucose, which further increases the brain’s ability to produce serotonin. But by choosing a jelly doughnut over a whole-wheat pita pocket you’ll pay a hefty price in weight gain and compromised healthy eating goals. In addition, for serotonin to tranquilize, carbs need to be eaten on an empty stomach and, surprisingly, without protein.

By the way…
If you experience irritability brought on by premenstrual syndrome (PMS), then you have all the more reason to consume complex carbohydrates. Dr. Wurtman advises eating a baked potato or drinking PMS Escape, a carbohydrate-based beverage that decreases anxiety.

Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

The Health Benefits of African Black Soap

By Nicole Gordon

Black soap, or African Black Soap, has been used for generations as a natural remedy for acne, eczema, body odor, and to alleviate oily skin. Its many uses include using it as a body soap for cleansing or lathering and using it as a shampoo–all with the main goal of using a natural product to keep skin looking its best.

History

  • Natural black soap originated in West Africa. Alata Samina, as it is called locally, is typically a combination of the cocoa pod (husk), plantain skins, coconut oil, palm oil and essential oils. Used for generations, black soap and its benefits have been a staple for the relief of skin blemishes and everyday hygiene. Although its roots are in Africa, black soap is now sold across the world and on the Internet, used by people of all backgrounds.

Identification

  • Natural Black Soap is a brownish/black color and soft to the touch. Because it’s natural and unscented, it has more of an earthy scent, which is also beneficial for skin types that are irritated by fragrance. According to http://www.info-ghana.com/black_soap.html, it’s the only soap in the world that does not require lye but lathers more than any other soap without the cancer-causing laurel sulphate.

Uses

  • This multipurpose, all-natural soap is used for issues ranging from rashes to dandruff. Although it’s most commonly used to keep skin blemish-free, other uses include as a shampoo, body soap and face wash.

Benefits

  • Natural black soap works for all skin types, from rough to sensitive, and is said to keep skin smooth and hydrated–but without increasing oily skin for those prone to it. It helps work against premature signs of aging and wrinkles, alleviates bumps and spots, is great for removing makeup, and is good for deep cleaning without drying out or irritating skin.

Warning

  • Black soap should never be all black in color. If you come across a product on the market that claims to be “natural” black soap and it’s not brown in color, it’s dyed and therefore doesn’t have the same benefits as natural black soap. Additionally, the fake black soap is hard in texture, whereas natural black soap is soft. The fake soap doesn’t contain all of the natural ingredients and can stain clothes.

Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page