March 2004 Vol. 4 Issue 3
An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.
Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.
Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
Ray Castillejo, M.D.
Letting Go (Part 5)
Clem S. Estrera, Jr., CIM '72
We all deserve a second chance
Imagine if you were the boy. What would you feel? You’d be terrified like being chased and cornered by a vicious Doberman pinscher with nowhere else to run. Imagine further if you were Thomas Edison. How would you feel and what would you do? I bet many or most of us would be upset, shaking with anger, and a face red with engorged veins ready to pop like we're about to have a stroke or heart attack, and would probably yell to the top of our lungs at a poor, pitiful kid and want him vanished. Some of us might even stomp our feet and hit something if not the boy.
But Edison simply smiled and calmly went back to work putting more hours to produce another light bulb. Then when it was finished, Edison handed it to the boy who had dropped the first one who then gingerly carried it to safety up the stairs into a room.
Rather than let the boy wallow in his mistake, what Edison did was taught the boy to rise above his failure by giving him another chance. Edison’s simple gesture may have changed the boy’s self-image from one of failure and incompetence to one of success and confidence.
"Spare the rod and spoil the child."
Like perhaps in many of us, my late parents strongly believed in what the Bible says, "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Thus I grew up not just with criticisms, but also with physical punishments that could make the toughest fraternity hazing look like a Chinese tea party. Somehow my butts had a way of attracting my mother's broom or stick and my father's belt like one of those love-hate relationships. I was not one of those so-called good small town boys that parents would love and be proud to have for their sons. Trouble seemed to love my company. I guess it was probably because I seemed to have a knack for trouble. While other children would cry even before their parents hit them with a stick, broom or belt because of the fear and the pain, I would cry only after several blows to give my parents some satisfaction. But the real tears would come during the night when I went to bed from the feeling of rejection, alienation, or isolation and the feeling of being unloved and alone.
I was academically weak and made so many irresponsible mistakes when I was a kid. I was constantly criticized and frequently threatened and yelled at because I did what I wanted to but was not supposed to do. My curiosity for bad or forbidden things seemed to have a way with me. Worse, I was way behind others and way below my parents' expectations. I almost flunked every year from first grade to first year high school and for some weird reason, I was so happy just to pass the grade even if I was aware that my parents would be very sore with me, and every one in the family would be criticizing and ridiculing me. Boy, those ridicules and criticisms hurt and made me feel worthless and insignificant, but they did not make me cry because I had soon learned that crying would only attract more ridicules and criticisms.
But when things got bad for me, I would usually sneak and stay for days with my grandparents who seemed to understand my flight. My grandparents would then feed me and rarely if ever ask questions as to what happened. My grandfather would just put me on his lap, combed my hair and split my hair in the middle like the hair of Jose Rizal and he would then laugh looking at his work like a barber who was proud of the haircut he just did with the style of his choice. Then he would ask me to go with him and his old dog to the farm and help him gather firewood which I was only too happy to do because we would then have lots of fruits like guavas, jackfruits, papayas, tambis, etc. He made me feel like he was the only adult who understood, loved and cared for me. I guess he may have realized his mistakes on his daughter, my mother. He made up for those mistakes with me.
Blessing in disguise
My early weaknesses turned out to be a blessing in disguise because with them, my parents gave up on me early in life, lost their hopes and lowered their expectations on me to nothing. Well ... may be almost nothing. I was ignored or taken for granted, and thus I felt relieved from the pressure to achieve. I was also transferred to the University of Southern Philippines (USP) during my second year high school and was endorsed to my two older brothers for discipline. My brothers were concerned about my education in Camotes and so they willingly accepted me as their room mate to keep an eye on me.
Sensing that my parents were merely hoping for a miracle as far as I was concerned, I felt free to think for myself. I began to feel like an underdog and became determined to fight my way up. Thanks to my two older brothers in college. They helped me with my studies although with one implied condition - that I must have better than just passing grades. Our oldest brother was of no help. He was a hopeless drunk who, probably out of shame that it took him 7 or 8 years in Abellana Vocational High School instead of 4 to barely graduate, joined the Philippine Air Force. But I admired him and given him credit for being the only Estrera in the whole Camotes who could really dance. I guess what he lacked in brains the rum and whiskey made it up in his feet.
In USP, I started in section 10, among the dullest of the class, and in three months' time, I was transferred to section 1, among the brightest. After high school, my father kept convincing me to become a school teacher like him and to enroll at Cebu Normal School. As he insisted on talking me into it, he gave me the feeling that he didn’t think I had the brains to become something else. It only made me more determined to become something else. Some of our hometown folks and a couple of my elementary school teachers could not believe that a mediocre small town boy like me has gotten big time by enrolling at the University of San Carlos, considered in our town in Camotes to be the most prestigious and a tough college in Cebu to pass through during those times. They found it even more incredulous that I had waltzed through college and tangoed through Medicine in CIM like nobody’s business. But having experienced hardships and different kinds of hard-labor jobs for two years since I had to quit college for two years, I felt like I had already seen the worst of my life. What could be better than studying to become a doctor?
But whatever disappointment and bitterness I had with my parents ceased to exist when I became old enough to understand things like family and such. That was when I started college and my parents told us in the family that at least one or two of us would have to quit college soon because it was just not possible financially. I volunteered to quit but I asked my parents to wait till after my second year college because I wanted to finish and get over with the ROTC. I never could learn to like wearing those ROTC uniforms, let alone the washing, starching and ironing with charcoal iron that blows smoke that could make the American Indian smoke signal look like just someone smoking cigarette, much less those heavy boots that blistered my feet on whole day drills. Anyhow, I saw then and there crystal clear how terribly hard it has been for my parents because there were too many of us in the family - 10 although 2 died when they were little. No wonder why at one time my mother closed the door of our house on me and told me to go home. She didn't recognize me. She took me for the boy across the street. Talk about a face only a mother can love.
Draining the emotional pus
Perhaps some of you also grew up in a family where everyone particularly your parents could not tolerate even minor mistakes or failures, let alone the ones that they believe would ruin your future and embarrass the family like poor and failing grades. They would see your mistakes not as evidence that at least you tried or did your best, but simply as a bad example of how you failed. They would get upset and criticize you without hesitation as if their upset and criticism would make a genius out of you and make you become successful.
I know. I know. We are all hesitant to talk about the negative behaviors of our parents. In our culture, we consider our parents sacred that we are afraid to say anything that may indicate a dishonor or disrespect, for we have that nagging feeling that somehow it would only attract a lightning to come out of the blue and strike us particularly to those of us who were inculcated with the Commandment that says: "Honor thy father and thy mother." But this Commandment has been misinterpreted and abused by many parents during our time in the Philippines. Instead of earning honor and respect to deserve their "sanctity," parents utilized the Commandment to give them the authority to impose their will and blind obedience on their children.
Yet expressing our disappointments, anger or resentment with our parents in a rational way is not a disrespect, let alone a dishonor; it in fact involves love and respect. It's a healing process that makes it easy for love, compassion and understanding to enter and stay in your heart and mind. That's why I'd rather have my kids talk back to me, express their bad feelings and rebellion openly than keep their bad feelings to themselves. Bad feelings are like emotional pus that if not expressed, only form an emotional abscess causing heated exchange and dispute to come and go without resolution. A wound of any kind, be it physical, emotional or spiritual will never heal unless the pus is drained. Genuine love, trust and respect cannot develop, let alone grow in a festering wound.
But we cannot really blame our parents for the kind of rough discipline we got from them when we were kids because it's what they learned from their parents before them. It's all they knew how, and they truly believed that it was for our own good. Also, it was part of our culture, a cog in the wheel of the humans' life cycle in which children were to be seen, not to be heard, like decorative figurines. Children were not allowed to express their unpleasant feelings in particular like anger, as if doing so is a mortal sin. But now as parents ourselves, it's all up to us to let go the past and do things differently.
Go ahead .... Make a mistake.
As adults, many of us treat others especially our own kids who make mistakes with the same kind of negative outlook our parents did to us. And as for ourselves, we view at least some of our mistakes as earth-shattering from which we’d have a hard time recovering. We sometimes find ourselves wallowing in regrets for having made such mistakes, and drowning in shame, sorrow and self-pity.
So when it comes to a mistake, be easy and gracious to the one who made it even if it's yourself, and particularly if it's your own child that made the blunder. Critical and accusing words only make someone withdraw, shrivel or shutdown, especially a kid who is still insecure and fearful. For, such words only confirm the kid's fears and opinions about himself. If you keep criticizing him as if he is incapable or worthless, he'll likely fail because humans tend to reproduce the seeds you plant in them. If, instead, you look for and point to what's good in that kid, he would make every effort to justify your confidence. Your kind and understanding words, gestures or silence would make him open up and discover what's good about him. Such kid would be motivated to reach higher.
We all make mistakes. We are all aware of that. But we have choices. And we are all aware of that, too. When we make a mistake, we can choose to dismiss it, diminish it, deal with it, and learn from it and let go. So what would it be? Well, go ahead…make a mistake.
"Have courage, my son"
Even in our professional life, the thought of disapproval, criticism, ridicule and other negative response from others for making a blunder would weaken us, impose limitations on us, or put us in distress by subjecting us to pressure. It would hold many of us back from achieving something we would have easily been able to. It is paralyzing. It only perpetuates the truth of our weakness rather than provides the impetus to make changes. As a result, we have so many things we do don’t want to hear, let alone accept.
We don’t want to hear disagreement from anyone especially from friends, classmates or colleagues. We don’t want to hear anyone to see anything in us to criticize. We don’t want to hear another idea or opinion that opposes or is different than our own. We don’t want to hear that our children are making choices we wouldn’t make. Unwittingly, not wanting to hear them could only stifle or choke our intellectual and spiritual growth and development.
The world is full of people who would disagree with us and who have different ideas and opinions, and people who are ready to point and criticize our mistakes and weaknesses sometimes in the name of political correctness and sometimes as a way of disguising their own weaknesses by projecting them to us. If we allow their disagreement, disapproval and criticism to threaten us and keep us from moving beyond what we are, then we won’t be able to grow and develop into what we should be. Our intellect and perhaps even our personality may only undergo the process of rigor mortis.
Disagreement helps determine whether you have the moral courage to hold on to your values and principles in order to stay whole and be worthy of self-respect. The lack of moral courage makes you vulnerable to moral corruption. When the going gets tough, if you decide to go on with your shaky moral ground, you are likely to succumb to sacrificing your honesty and integrity all for the agreement and approval of others. But in doing so, you are betraying your values and invalidating your principles. You'd lose something far more valuable than the pride and pleasure of being approved, appreciated and admired. That something is called honor.
Well, consider that if there is nobody to disagree with you, then you’d have no way of convincingly measuring out your moral courage and of validating your beliefs, values and principles. It would be like giving a lecture and nobody asks questions afterward. You have no way of knowing exactly whether somebody was really listening. That, of course, if you care about your lecture and about enlightening your audience with your knowledge and information that you would be happy to be subjected to many questions, difficult they may be. Otherwise you become annoyed.
To be continued
A couple of readers have asked these questions: "If you love someone without conditions or with no ifs and no buts, does that mean that the person you love can do and say whatever he wants to and I shall continue to love him? Is that not stupid?" These are really good questions and I have to admire the readers for asking them. In these day and age of our own kind when a little bit of assertiveness seems not desirable, it takes real courage and irresistible curiosity to ask questions. These readers definitely deserve the best and honest answers which I hope I can provide.
I always try to avoid religion if I can in anything I write because religion to me, is a very personal issue. But to try to answer this kind of questions and provide a clearer explanation, I have to touch on religion. If you notice, except perhaps for the Islamic extremists or the terrorists that teach hatred against other people like the Americans, every religion in the world teaches love. I believe religion especially Christianity, has continued to dominate many people's lives because of love that it is teaching for every one of us to embrace. It's mainly because of love that people of different color, race, beliefs, etc., are able to live and work side by side, for from and with love, respect, tolerance and understanding spring and grow. Again, although I'm not that religious, I personally believe that love is the way to heaven, or love itself is heaven.
Love of whatever kind is unconditional. Conditions are only for business and gambling transactions, not for love. Unconditional love is how Jesus loves every one of us, a love that doesn't depend on what we say or do, on how we look, think or feel, on whether or not we are popular or successful, and on whether or not we are a fool or just plain stupid. He loves us just the same, and because He does, He forgives us for our mistakes or for our sins.
There are two lovely parables about unconditional love that I know of in the Bible. There may be more but it's been so many years since I read the Bible. The last time I read the Bible was when I was still in college. Our parents required every one of us in the family to read it when we were kids and we had Bible study every week. But reading and studying the Bible created confusions in me. It was not the Bible that confused me, it was my parents' contradictions. I'll tell you in a moment in these parables.
One of the two lovely parables is about the lost sheep and the steadfast love of the shepherd. When the one sheep became lost, as the parable goes, the shepherd did not act like a business owner and write it off as a loss in doing business and deduct it from his tax return. No, Siree. The shepherd searched diligently until the lost sheep was found. He loves the sheep so much and unconditionally that there was no mention of punishment or scolding, let alone abuses - simply the joy at finding one of his own that was lost.
The second parable that tells us about unconditional love is the parable of The Prodigal Son. Even if the prodigal son made a big blunder, the father celebrated for his return because he loved his son unconditionally. He was happy to have his son back. And yet, when we were kids, when we made mistake and got lost, instead of joy and happiness, our parents got upset and angry, and thus instead of getting a hug or a kiss from them when they found us, we got a whip on our butt, or a painful twist of our ear. Already afraid or scared, they would terrify us further by blaming, threatening and yelling at us. This is the kind of contradictions I'm talking about.
So when you love someone unconditionally, you have the kind of feeling the shepherd and the father of the prodigal son had. You love that someone regardless of whether he is blundering or has gotten lost because he chose what he wanted even if his choices were against your wishes. Many of us are lost, but we don't need a reprimand, threat, punishment, or guilt manipulation, let alone a nag, to help us find our way. We need just love, pure and simple.
A potential confusion
Unconditional love should not be confused with unconditional approval. Certainly the person you love is free to do and say what he wants to but that doesn't mean you approve everything he says and does. God, Himself, doesn't approve prejudice, hatred, arrogance, resentment and greed, because they antagonize or are against the love He wants us to have in our hearts. But He continues to love us no matter what. So to the person you love, you don't approve of him cheating, lying, coming home drunk and beating you up, do you? Of course, you don't, because if you do, then that's what is really called stupidity.
Loving without condition doesn't mean loving without concern. If the person you love behaves irresponsibly, then that person may be lost and thus need your love and your help, not your whining and nagging. But if the person doesn't want your help and instead insists on ceasing to be someone he ought to be and thus continues his irresponsible and abusive behavior, and even keeps lying and cheating on you, then you have every right to break the relationship, often a tough decision to make. He is no longer happy with you. He is happy with something or someone else. Thus he is adamantly refusing to keep his end of the bargain to sustain the relationship. Because you love him, you want him to be happy. Since he loves and is happy with his refusal and his irresponsible behavior, then it's only love to release him to what he is happy with. Also, you have yourself and perhaps the children to consider and worry about for love, safety, security and happiness.
A Pandora's box?
I hope I'm not opening a Pandora's box or a can of worms here, but I'd like to mention that love and marriage are not necessarily "drawn together like horse and carriage and thus I tell you brother, you can't have one without the other." Frankly, my dear, no. Love and marriage should be looked at separately. Many people marry not for love, but for something else. Subsequently though many of them also learn to love each other after a while of married life and perhaps of family life too.
What I'm trying to emphasize is that marriage, if broken because of the lack or absence of love, is subject to laws like the divorce settlement in which particularly here in the U.S. where lawyers, like sharks, can smell blood from a distance, one could easily lose everything including his allowance for the Viagra pills. So one has got to weigh between his love and his potential losses before deciding that after months or years of marriage, life is without love and happines anymore. Is he willing to take the losses that because of the settlement, child support and alimony, he could very well also lose his erection since he would no longer have the money for the Viagra pills? Ironic, for the one cheating on his wife, isn't it? Love, on the other hand, is not subject to any legal skirmish. ---Clem
If you, as one of the CIM alumni in the U.S. in particular, have forgotten our ASOCIMAI raffle, believe me, I can understand. When I got my share of tickets to sell in November last year, I was able to canvass only two pledges for a raffle ticket so far since then. I was told by some of those whom I tried to sell the raffle tickets to, to remind them later like they were saying: “Yeah, right….” Not that it discouraged me, … well, … may be a little bit, but with the winter or cold weather that was coming soon and that has a way of depressing many of us, I’ve figured out that no one would be in the mood to even think about the raffle. Thus putting it off is understandable. So I also put off trying to sell the raffle tickets.
Although Phil, the groundhog in Pennsylvania, did see a shadow and thus portends long cold winter, the weather has already gotten better lately and would soon be a lot warmer. Pretty soon many people would be in the mood for outdoor shopping, and one outdoor shopping that appeals to many of the alumni I believe is going around the car dealerships to look at new model cars with their prices and option stickers. “Ah… there you are. May I help you? My name is Dave. I'll be happy to answer your questions about these babies here. You want to drive home one of these? Would you like to test drive? Well, here is my card in case you have questions to ask later.” These sound familiar, don't they? No, please, don’t let me stop you from looking at them beautiful new cars. I just want to remind you that if you’re lucky playing our raffle, it’s a 2004 Mercedes Benz SLK 230 that you’re going to be driving home in July. Well, here is my e-mail address in case you are interested in purchasing a raffle ticket: email@example.com.
Allow me to make a suggestion. There are some of you who, perhaps because of nothing better to do with your free weekend, would rather take a trip and spend your free weekend every now and then in Las Vegas or Atlantic City than just stay home, drink beers and watch TV. I reckon that a considerable part of that trip is gambling. It's none of my business, of course. But maybe by not taking just one of these trips, you can use the money to buy a raffle ticket or two. After all, your odds of winning the Mercedes Benz or the cash equivalent are probably better than in the black jack table or slot machines.
I know. I know. There is a difference. You don’t get to rub your ass with those sexy, skimpy-dressed women in the casinos, or strategically place your elbow where it feels good. Well, may be I could propose to the board that we hire a couple of sexy-looking skimpy-dressed women for the reunion raffle, young women, of course. I’m reminded by the joke: “What does a 75-year-old woman have between her breasts that a 25-year-old woman doesn’t? – Her navel.” Perhaps the Ladies would also want to hire a couple of those great-looking body-builder men in spandex shorts from Chippendale. How about that?
Now let’s get serious. Anyone, alumni or non-alumni, can purchase a raffle ticket and has the same chance of winning any of the great prizes. Again, you don’t have to attend our reunion to win a prize. But if you are one of the CIM alumni in particular, we’d love to see you there in Philadelphia. We’re appealing more to the alumni because if just half of them buy at least one ticket each, it will be enough for us to go ahead with the raffle. After all, this is for a good cause. Dili bitaw mi mangayo ug barato kung makadaog ka.
So if you prefer to purchase a raffle ticket from me, you know where to contact me. But it really doesn’t matter who you buy it from although I may have one of the lucky tickets, if I can remember where I put them. Winter has really been hard on me. I am having a hard time remembering. You know what? Somehow I remember something else, a question I was asked not too long ago. "What is the best thing about having Alzheimer's? -- You meet new people everyday."
Oh! yeah, the tickets. I think I can remember where I put them if only some of you would purchase one ticket each. Come on. Help me here. We really want to sell at least the minimum number of tickets to be able to go ahead with the raffle. In most everything, the first time is almost always the most difficult to get through. If we can do this first reunion raffle and people know that someone they know of has won a great prize especially the car, the next time we have another raffle, many of them will be encouraged or enticed to take their chances, purchase a ticket or two and play our reunion raffle. Believe me, it will be easier for us next time to get a Hummer, Mercedes ML 500, BMW, etc., for the jackpot prize. We may even be able to get one of those Apache helicopters from Iraq as a consolation prize. But some parts maybe missing. ---Clem
CIM is still number 1! This was proven last January when our students won the Annual National Medwhiz Competition, a quiz bowl organized by the APMC or Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Student Network. This year, it was held at Xavier University High School. The CIM team was composed of Genevieve Te (4th year), Merci Letigio (2nd year) and Jun Lasco (3rd year). Dr. Melfer Montoya acted as coach. CIM bested other schools who became regional champions and runners up from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Again Congratulations to our Alma Mater!
Going to other news...the campaign period for the National elections has already started last February 10. For presidentiables, we have the following candidates running: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Senator and Education Secretary Raul Roco, Actor Fernando Poe, Jr., Edie Gil and Jesus Is Lord Movement leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva. This is probably the most important national elections in our country so we ask your prayers from you out there in the States.
Last january, I wasn't able to submit my contribution for BrainWaves February issue. It is because I helped in taking care of my brother who was admitted for abdominal pain and later on underwent cholecystectomy. I would just like to share to you what I learned from the experience...I learned that we should be mindful always of the feelings of our patient. It is easy for us to advise a patient to agree to surgery but in reality, when we, or our relatives ourselves will have to go through the experience, it is really a hard or difficult decision to make, even if we know the benefits of surgery. Maybe because of the fears for complications, the finances involved and many other factors. You won't realize it until you experience it. I'm glad my brother agreed to the surgery and he is okey right now but now I know how it feels to be a patient thru my brother's experience. Thanks to the doctors who took care of my brother, Dr. Martin Zanoria, Dr. Busa, Dr. Don Cruz and the medical residents and more importantly the nursing staff.
Narciso (Taps) Tapia, MD
Original webmaster, Official CIM Website
Health and Medicine
This information is from British Journal of Surgery courtesy of Miguel Delgado-Rodriguez, professor of Medicine and Public Health, University of Jaen, Spain and leader of a study of 1,505 patients admitted to a general surgical department. Daily consumption of all types of alcohol may increase or raise post-op risk. The increase is highest in wine drinkers. Risk of surgical site infections increased threefold in patients mostly men who drunk four or more glasses of wine a day. The reason is believed to be that alcohol consumption makes it harder for the body to fight off infection.
According to Judy Cameron, PhD, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, - Eating late at night doesn’t make us any fatter. A calorie is a calorie no matter what time of the day it is consumed. Good, because I usually eat most of my food late at night so I don’t have to wake up early in the morning hungry, because I often exercise during the night when I come home from work.
According to Caroline Rae, PhD, research fellow and biochemist, University of Sydney, Australia, and a leader of a study of 45 vegetarians, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society - Vegetarians may need a brain booster - Creatine. The human body makes creatine naturally, and it is also present mainly in fish and meat which the vegetarians don’t eat. This creatine supplement is popular with athletes because it supplies bursts of intense energy. It is also found to increase brain power in vegetarians, but seems to have no effect in meat eaters. Those of you who have gone to health-food stores, you know where they are.
Insomniacs, help is on the way. In Sleep, Andrew Krystal, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, published his study of 788 patients. The new drug eszopiclone, brand name Estorra, improved insomniacs’ ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and function during the day. Like other non-benzodiazepine drugs, such as Zolpidem (Ambien) and zaleplon (Sonata), Estorra has minimal side effects that include occasional dizziness and nausea. Estorra’s edge is that – it gives patients more hours of sleep. It may be available in the next few months. This drug would have been a lot more effective if instead of Estorra, it is named Estrera. Just kidding.
For the past several years, video and computer game makers and researchers have been looking for alternatives to the present programs and devices like products that listen to your voice, watch your movements, monitor your pulse and even tout better health and inner peace. They have been busy researching for alternatives to heavily modified joysticks, keyboards and mice. One of the new products that is fundamentally different with no keyboard to press or mouse buttons to click is a game called The Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage."
In this game Wild Divine, players attach three plastic biofeedback clips called Magic Rings to a small device that plugs into the computer's Universal Serial Bus port. The $160 game, attachments included, monitors a player's heart rate and perspiration. Players who enter the game's decidedly new-age setting must master a series of tasks, such as juggling balls, by relaxing and thereby lowering their heart rate. If they tense up, the balls will drop. Thus mastering the game means learning how to control your breathing and to cycle between emotional states of excitement and relaxation. It's like controlling the game with your mind.
Look for Wild Divine in the electronic stores near you. And don't be surprised that in the near future, video and computer games will be modified not just to have accelerometers to measure motion, to have face-recognition software, EKG to measure heartbeat, and respiration monitor to measure breathing depth and rapidity, but also software to gauge reaction to stress, boredom and other psychological situations as well as software expansion to manage pain or quit smoking. Neat, isn't it?
According to Gary Zylkuski, a senior meteorologist at Fleet Weather Inc. in Hopewell Junction, New York – Expect a late spring in the eastern U.S., Although warm temperature may occur now and then, it will be cooler than usual over most of the region. The West Coast and the South also are likely to be cooler and wetter than normal. The Midwest can expect heavier thunderstorm activity and possibly early tornadoes. The Rockies and Northern Plains are likely to be warmer and drier that usual – but not enough to worsen the drought.
A professor was removing parts of a dead man's body before a class full of medical students. "This is the heart, this is the liver, these are the kidneys…."
"What's he doing?" asked a latecomer.
"Sssh. He's giving an organ recital."
A farmer was sitting in a bar one afternoon, getting slowly drunk. A man came over to talk to him.
"You look down," said the man. "It's a beautiful day. How can you be miserable on a day like this?"
The farmer mumbled: "Some things you can't just explain."
"Come on, tell me about it," said the man. "It might help you to talk to someone."
"If you really want to know," said the farmer, "I was sitting in the barn this morning milking my cow and I'd just got the bucket full when she kicked it over with her left leg."
"Is that all? It's not exactly the end of the world."
"Some things you just can't explain," mumbled the farmer.
"So what did you do?"
"I took her left leg and tied it to a post on the left with some rope. Then I carried on milking. And just as I'd got the bucket full again, she kicked it over with her right leg."
"I can see that would be annoying."
The farmer mumbled: "Some things you just can't explain."
"So what did you do next?"
I tied her leg to the post on the right and carried on milking. And just as the bucket was filling up, she knocked it over with her tail."
"You must have been angry by now."
"Some things you just can't explain," mumbled the farmer.
"What did you do?"
"I didn't have anymore rope, so I took off my belt and tied her tail to the rafter. At that moment, my pants fell down and my wife walked in. Some things you just can't explain."
A French guest, staying in a hotel in Ontario, phoned room service for some pepper.
"Black pepper, or white pepper?" asked the phone on the other end.
"No. Toilet pepper!"
An image of self
Behavioral therapists and psychologists tell us that our beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and personality have been programmed to us since childhood and we almost always continue the same programming well into our adult life and even throughout our life. Many of these behavioral experts also tell us that our self-image is already completely developed within the first 2-5 years of our life while some mental health professionals believe that it’s within the first 6-8 years. It probably takes longer to develop completely in some cultures. Either way, a positive self-image is critical to one's performance and success in this world. It is also critical to one's recovery from unfortunate circumstances, from grief, sadness, mistakes, failures and losses. Obviously, an emotional development during the very early years of a child's life is extremely important because his behavior, attitude and personality that he continues on to adulthood are derived mainly from his self-image that had been formed out of his programming.
Whether we are aware or not, as parents, we pass our self-image on to our children. Thus many people tend to think that behavior, attitude and personality are hereditary. Whatever behavior we have shown to our children, they pick it up for themselves. So if we want the children to be assertive, to walk tall or with head held high, to sing joyously and laugh happily, we ourselves must show these things for them to see. We all know that abused children tend to become abusive parents.
From what I've learned from reading, from psychologists I have talked to and mainly from my own personal childhood, family and professional life experiences and observation, self-image is what we project to others and it is that image others respond to. Others are like the glasses through which we look and see ourselves. Or, others are like the doors by which we open with a key, our self-image, to enter into a relationship with life. But the world has many different doors and our key fits only to one of those doors although we don't know which door. Our key may fit to a door that leads to a good place or may fit to a door that leads to a bad place. Thus if we have a wrong key or a negative self-image, the door it opens may lead to places of misery and loneliness, hatred and anger, or frustrations and despair. Conversely, if we have the right key or a positive self-image, the door it opens may lead to places of love, success and happiness.
The way we treat others is basically the way we treat ourselves. The way we see others and interpret their words and actions is the way we see ourselves. If we are intolerant of others' mistakes, we are likely to be just as intolerant of ours. If we are judgmental with others, we are likely to be just as hard on ourselves and vice-versa. In other words, we project our self-image to others with our attitude and behavior, or the way we act and the language or words we use to which others respond.
For instance, if we project an image of honesty and integrity like we always seek and tell the truth, or we always respect principles and keep what promises we make, others would likely respond to us with trust and respect. They would likely believe in us. It's also how we would respond to others who are honest and principles-oriented. If we project an image of arrogance and insensitivity, others would respond to us with hatred and resentment. It's also how we would respond to others who are insensitive and arrogant. We would hate and resent them because we see ourselves through them. They are showing us our own unpleasant behavior. But if we have a positive self-image, it doesn't matter how others behave, for we won't be affected that much by their negative and unpleasant behaviors. Their negative behaviors are not the kind of behaviors you see yourselves having and thus they won't affect you that much negatively. That's why a positive self-image is crucial to one's success and survival, to one's recovery from failures and unpleasant life events and to one's peace of mind and happiness.
A negative self-image
If a child is constantly criticized, scolded, punished or threatened for making mistakes, for defying parents' wishes, or for not meeting parents' expectations that are often unrealistic, he is likely to develop a negative self-image. That child may grow up to be suspicious, fearful, insecure and critical of himself as well as others, and be unwilling to take risks, but to play it safe most of the time. Being insecure, he may constantly seek for approval. Fearful of making mistakes, he would be hesitant to take action. Thus he would often find comfort in avoiding rather than in achieving and so his performance is way below his potentials.
As the child grows up, he may also succumb to the ruthlessness and tyranny of perfectionism. As adult, he is likely to become rigid, strict, overbearing and always feel the need to be in control all the time and his life is structured in a certain routine. He would become obsessed with the need to perform flawlessly and at least to be better than others especially his peers and friends. Since flawless or perfect performance is almost always impossible to achieve, and being better than his peers and friends doesn't happen very often, his life would be dominated by angers and irritability that would constantly fluctuate at high level like the bull market in Wall Street. This would only stifle his freedom and creativity, frustrating his family and turning his peers and friends off.
If his peers and friends come out to be better than he is, he either avoids them, envious of them, or becomes uncomfortable with them as he feels bad about himself. Unmet or crushing expectations could devastate his self-image. He may carry a sense of failure throughout his life and may become overly sensitive, getting hurt for no good reason all because of suspicion and negativism, always licking his wounds looking inward to his own imperfections and thus becomes totally unaware of the needs of others. He is often misinterpreted as arrogant. But he is actually lonely although he almost never understands why he is so lonely. It is because of his negativism and oversensitivity that others find him difficult and depressing to be around.
Can one's self-image be changed?
Every one agrees that anyone can change his self-image and re-program his mind to modify his attitude and behavior anytime in his life. Older children's self-image can be reconstructed but it needs patience, openness, understanding and constant love, support and encouragement especially from their parents. You cannot change years of programming overnight. If your mind has been programmed to respond to certain stimuli with anger, frustrations, hate, fear, sadness, and other negative response, such stimuli would keep generating the same negative response over and over again but faster and faster and stronger and stronger year after year. It takes time and consistency to change the way your mind respond to such stimuli. However, many children as they grow into adulthood, change their self-image after realizing through experiences and observation that their negative self-image is counterproductive.
In adults, it's not going to be easy to change or reconstruct our self-image and re-program our mind, but it can be done with constant conscious effort. And for any adult to have a chance of being able to change his self-image, he must be willing to admit the need for change and therefore must willingly accept his shortcomings, "warts and all."
Type A behavior
Having grown up with criticisms, threats and physical punishments in the Philippines which could easily qualify as abuses here in the U.S., I used to have a hard time dealing with mistakes. I was so rigid with my children and always felt like everything had to be done right. I had to be always in control especially when it comes to my family. I would readily get frustrated when my schedule is upset by anything or anyone so that even the rain would make me irritable and grouchy when it keeps me from jogging as scheduled. Children’s mistakes and defiance and my wife's disagreement with things I wanted, used to irritate me, make me angry and drive me up the wall to become mad enough to yell and even hit my daughters when they were small. No, I could not hit my wife. I never did. She knew the law well enough and I must admit that I was afraid that if I lose control and hit her, she would not hesitate to commit me to a mental institution. It's easy to get paranoid when you're working with mentally-ill patients and you know some of the patients are there because their wives involuntarily committed them. The mind-altering medications they cannot refuse to take because their wives signed for those medications have finished them off and made them real nuts.
I was so insecure that I was always worried of being fired from my job especially during those years when I didn’t have the permanent visa yet. I became grouchy for trivial reasons and my heart would skip a beat every time I was called to my boss’ office. Having started in the lowest pay grade in my job, it took me almost seven years to muster the courage to go to our administrator and ask for an upgrade of my position only to hear his apology that he forgot about it and could have upgraded my position three or four years ago. It took me five years to have the courage to return an item I bought from the store that was defective or I didn’t like. I had lost too much to fear, anxiety and insecurity, losses I definitely did not deserve.
Going on a trip, I felt uneasy or anxious when I smelt something inside the car like burnt rubber or gasoline even if I knew that the air-conditioning vent is open and the smell came from outside, not from my car. Authority like cops frightened the hell out of me every time I saw their car even far behind me and even if I was driving within speed limit. Seeing a broken down car on the side of a highway made me worry that my car too, even if it’s new, would break down on long distance driving. I was giving too much power to the little things in life. The only advantage my years of anxieties have given me is that I never had a speeding ticket or any traffic violation ticket since I started driving in 1975.
A light from within
The bad thing about my attitude and behavior was that after I hit or verbally abused my children, I would hate myself, regret the things I’ve done and I would have a hard time sleeping during the night that depending on the weather, I would go out in the middle of the night or very early in the morning to take a walk or jog. I used to overreact even to minor unpleasant events that involved someone in my family, let alone an accident. I still do but very rarely now. I'm still insecure but mainly financially because of the kids who are all in private colleges. I'm still afraid of cops but not when I'm within speed limit even if the cop is following me. Car trouble won't bother me that much anymore. After having had to walk almost two miles in the middle of the night on a dark and lonely road in a 20-degree weather to call and get some help when my car refused to ran, hell, how worst could anything get after that? And with the cell phones nowadays available like hot dogs, there's no need to walk anymore when you have a car breakdown.
It was when my son was a little more than a year old, 17 years ago, and I screamed at him and roughly shaken him because he was crying continuously for 20 minutes even after I had changed his diaper and given him his bottle which he threw it away that I decided to do something about myself. Suffice it to say, it's often the most difficult and negative circumstances of life that can actually clear our perceptions and lead us to find the way or the solution of our predicament. They cause us to intuit and introspect, or for many of us, to fervently pray and seek God's help. It's like you're being attacked or pressured by the Devil, and it challenges and stretches your faith. If your faith is strong, you persevere and ultimately become a winner. If your faith is weak, it could snap and break, and you succumb to the ways of the Devil and become a loser.
I was alone with my son during that day and somehow during my tirade of frustration and anger and my son still kept crying, I decided to take his temperature and found out that he had a fever of almost 103. I was crushed by guilt feelings. It was the turning point of my lousy life like I was finally shown a light from within. I cried like a baby and kept telling my son how sorry I was even if he was already asleep. My eyes still get misty every time I think about that day, a poor innocent child who was sick deserved to be cuddled, not screamed at; gently handled, not roughly shaken. I became determined to re-program my mind and change my irresponsible behavior and attitude of frustration, fear and anger as though God whispered in my ear. That night a plan formed and advanced in my mind like the Charge of the Light Brigade.