HEALING THROUGH UNITY
A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.
Volume 6, Issue #7
- Call Carol Leish Capable: She Hustles with Chutzpah
- Emotional Intelligence - The Missing Link to Unity for Mankind
- How Confident are You?
- Responses to Borderline Personality Disorders
- Website Changes
- Question of the Month
- Purpose of the Newsletter
CALL CAROL LEISH CAPABLE: SHE HUSTLES
By Beverly Kelley, a professor in the Communication Department at California Lutheran University, December 16, 2002, Ventura County Star
What is the best-selling board game in the world? If you guessed "Monopoly," you must be sitting pretty with a hotel on Boardwalk. Two hundred million "Monopoly" sets have literally flown off store shelves since 1935. Monopoly is currently available in 26 languages---including Croatian and Icelandic.
This holiday season, however, Oxnard native Carol Leish would like you to consider her "Call Me Capable" (www.callmecapable.com) as you select the perfect present for your favorite teacher. The purpose of the educational game, according to the forty-year old Leish, is to eliminate or eradicate some of the prejudice commonly exhibited toward people with disabilities.
Leish knows of what she speaks. In 1963, at the tender age of 10 months, she was slumbering serenely in the back of her family's VW when a drunk driver careened into the vehicle and left the infant girl with brain stem trauma. Unconscious for ten days, she awakened to permanent damage on the right side of her brain, blindness in her left eye, and speech difficulties that continue to this day. Even after years of therapy, thoughtless individuals presume her slow, deliberate way of talking (even though every word is enunciated distinctly) is the result of hearing loss or, even more inaccurately (she's a whiz kid), mental retardation. She's even been asked, point blank, on more than one occasion, "what's wrong with you?"
Her antidote for the justifiable anger that boils up after such insensitive remarks is to just express amusement. While "I may be physically disabled," she says, some folks reveal themselves to be "disabled from the neck up." A rabid-to-the-max Star Trek fan (as the bumper of her car attests) she claims to have inherited her sense of humor from her father. It's obvious, however, that Leish has carefully cultivated a drollness that can only be described as deliciously wicked. Her wry wit has even worked itself into some multiple choice questions found in "Call Me Capable." For example, "some newer wheelchairs help disabled people get around by using a) electric motors, b) gasoline motors, c) jet engines, or d) mice on a treadmill" may not be politically correct but gives non-disabled players permission to laugh as they learn.
In study after study, education experts report that empathy is a particularly difficult concept to get across to students of any age. "Call Me Capable" poses open-ended questions that fire-up players to reconsider preconceived ideas and knee-jerk responses. As they are invited to think about those who face physical, mental and learning challenges---"If you go out to dinner with a friend who is blind and the waiter asks you for your friend's order, what do you say?"---Leish has discovered that the light eventually dawns.
When a financially-challenged Charles B. Darrow showed the prototype of "Monopoly" to executives at Parker Brothers, it was the height of the Depression. The assembled big shots unceremoniously rejected his game, citing 52 so-called "design errors." Darrow wasn't daunted.
Neither was Leish. Her bright idea arrived in 1987 while she was working on a Master's degree in Education and Counseling at California State University, San Bernardino. As she toiled in the trenches as a substitute teacher, "Call Me Capable" started to evolve. The opportunity for further "field studies" arrived as a part of her in-service training for teachers, medical personnel, social workers, and other professionals dealing with the disabled on a daily basis.
Finally, in 1997, when the game was as finely tuned as it was going to get--- it was time for a marketing plan. As Zen practitioners will attest, "When the student is ready, the teacher arrives." Membership in the Ventura County Professional Women's Network provided her with the education and encouragement she needed to realize her heart's desire. The last duck to queue up was Franklin Learning Systems. Just in time for the Yuletide season, the company
(www.franklinlearning.com) stands ready, willing, and able to distribute "Call Me Capable" world-wide via the web.
Call Carol Leish "capable." "Irresistible, too," she adds impishly. Leish considers herself someone "who hustles with chutzpah" and hustle she does. Her first "Call Me Capable" royalty check has been duly framed and accorded a place of honor alongside a sparkling tiara, her VCPWN Spirit of Networking Award, and her recognition as an Outstanding Young American by the California Junior Chamber of Commerce.
All of us will face disability someday. Quite uninvited, it will arrive in various guises ---courtesy of old age. How will we want to be treated?
In 1970, Parker Brothers came out with the Braille edition of "Monopoly." Interestingly enough, those who play "Call Me Capable" seem to find a new way of seeing.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE -
THE MISSING LINK FOR MANKIND
By Johanna Vanderpol, Ontario, Canada (Johanna Vanderpol is an Emotional Intelligence Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Author. For more information about Emotional Intelligence or Johanna's services visit her website at www.johannavanderpol.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
If we are truly to enjoy the benefits of being human, the most basic challenge facing us now is unity of mankind. With unity, other goals can be achieved. As we reduce human suffering, we will be able to manifest and enjoy our true potential. We are currently caught up in maintenance activities and "fighting fires". The path to unity for mankind is the most important of the many quests for mankind and one of the basic quests yet to be accomplished. Emotional Intelligence is part of that path.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize, honour, understand, manage and express our emotions in ways that are respectful of self and others. The reward for developing these attributes in ourselves ranges from the basics to higher level of joys: freedom from a host of physical illnesses (migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure, even heart disease) and addictions (eating disorders, substance abuse, self-abuse) and violence. Be sure that shootings at schools like Columbine would not happen with a higher level of emotional intelligence in individuals and organizational climates. The higher level rewards include harmonious and joyous relationships with other people on the planet from intrapersonal to family to friends to community to nation. After pouring over the current exciting research for the last four years, the implications of focusing on developing our emotional intelligence are exciting and staggering in its positive effects for mankind. We were built to experience the emotions of joy and happiness. 'Abdul-Baha always asked people, "Are you happy?" It is our pleasant task to find out what it will take for us to experience these emotions as an overall state of being rather than the exception.
The word "emotion" is from Latin "emovere" and French which means ‘to be moved by'. Emotions are what move us to action. The emotion of anger at injustice can move us to positive action of creating justice where none exists. The emotion of fear can move us to protect ourselves. The emotions of joy "gives us wings". In the Baha'i writings we are encouraged to take the steps of ‘knowledge, volition and action' in our endeavours. Volition is the emotional element that moves us to action. Think about it. Everything we undertake is motivated by some underlying emotional state.
It's OK to have emotions To ignore a large facet of our fundamental nature is to bring fragmentation to the individual and hence to the well-being of society. It will also limit us in developing and expressing our full capacity as a human being and, therefore, limit the potential contributions we can give in service to the Cause or any other endeavour. Emotions are part of being human in a physical world and in a spiritual world. This is acknowledged in the Baha'i
writings: "In this world we are influenced by two sentiments, Joy and Pain. Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings. There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter - the spiritual world bestows only the joy!" (`Abdu'l-Baha: Paris Talks, pp. 109-10)
Emotions are not bad. They just are. Nowhere in the Baha'i Writings does it say that we should judge ourselves negatively when we have an unpleasant emotion. It does, however, give us guidance on how to manage emotions and the framework for them. That is part of emotional management. What is important is the attitude we have towards our emotions and the way we manage them. With improper attitude and management of emotions comes results that promote ill-health in all its various forms - spiritual, physical, psychological. Emotions used in the way for which they were created are the driving force that brings innovation and creativity out of the individual in all areas of human endeavour including progress and problem-solving. Emotions that are denied or not accepted drive us to behaviours that are unhealthy.
Emotions are theopathic in nature. Kevin Ryerson in his article, Emotions that Heal says: "Theopathy constitutes the use of feeling in relationship to our knowledge or sense of the divine. Our emotions are the fibers that lead us to the direct experience of the soul. They are part of our human expression. We cannot be completely devoid of our emotions; they are not a source of defeat. Emotions should not be repressed or denied, but rather observed and allowed to serve us in perspective. We can learn to trust our feelings and emotions, particularly when we come to understand them from a spiritual perspective."
Research shows that one of the prime ingredients of Emotional Intelligence is Self Awareness. Yet many of the Baha'i writings advise us to forget about self and to be constantly of service to others. This may lead us to believe that we should not take a look at ourselves or that to do so would be selfish. This is not a contradiction. If we look closer, we will see that we are also told to observe our self which is made evident by the following passages from
"True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self "(Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Baha'u'llah, 156) and "…man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeath unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pp. 34-5)
Part of knowing ourselves includes the process of recognizing, understanding and honouring our emotions as well as managing and expressing them in a way that is respectful of ourselves and others. This is an essential skill set that anyone can develop. This is emotional literacy. Without it, we cannot manifest our God-given potential that is unique to every one of us. This implies a knowledge of ourselves, an area in which the writings are clear: "O my Servants! Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves—a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being." (Baha'u'llah Gleanings pp. 326-327.)
I encourage you to find out more about this new evolutionary development of emotional intelligence. The research is bearing exciting results and revealing a path already confirmed by religion. So, what can you do to become aware of and honour your emotions? A systematic approach is the best way to have new learning become an automatic part of your enhanced self through coaching or other programs. However, for the purposes of this article, here are a few of what I believe to be the most useful and crucial things you can do to start honouring your emotions and through that bring more harmony and unity into your life and to the lives of other people:
1. Treat yourself with compassion as you would treat another soul. No negative self-dialogue. 2. Feel in your body what is going on so that you may become aware of how you truly feel. The body is a wonderfully designed instrument to give us accurate information about what is going on with ourselves. 3. Say a prayer for spiritual qualities. 4. Ask yourself the question during various parts of your day in regards to specific events you are experiencing: How am I feeling about this? What does my body say about how am I feeling? This question will bring the answers forth to gain more clarity about how you are responding and will allow you to make better decisions about how to respond – more conscious choice. 5. Explore further resources. Read a book on what it means to be emotionally intelligent and visit a few websites. Look at the links on my website for this information. The Baha'i writings make it clear that we should make every effort to know ourselves. A large part of that knowing begins with recognizing and understanding our emotions. Let's take action and develop this area of ourselves so that we may make our unique contributions to the well being of mankind and so that you may live a happier life. Enjoy your explorations!
HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU?
Taken from "Healthy Woman" (In Partnership with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada), July/June 2002, by Hilary Davidson, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Are you always apologizing?
Putting yourself down?
Feeling nervous in social situations?
Anyone can increase their confidence, Hilary Davidson explains how.
How many intelligent, caring and over-achieving women do you know who are critical of themselves on a routine basis; who think that if only they were a few pounds thinner or a couple of inches taller, they'd be happier? Women whose days are filled with balancing childcare households, jobs and social calendars, and yet they curse themselves for not accomplishing more? Sounds familiar? Perhaps you're one of these women.
One of the biggest obstacles to confidence is the belief that if you don't do everything just right, you're a failure in some aspect of your life. "Women aim for perfection," says Dr. Christine Derzko, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Toronto. "Women who accomplish great things are still bothered by the small things like the one hair that's out of place."
Here's good news: confidence is a skill that you can learn. Forget the idea that some people are born with it, while others aren't so lucky. Confidence is a birthright we are all entitled to. If your confidence is wavering, here are some of the roadblocks that may be standing in your way.
It all starts with self-esteem
Self-confidence and self-esteem are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. Self-esteem refers to the opinion you hold of yourself and the belief that you're a worthy person. You can be shy and still have heaps of self-esteem. Self-confidence is more about how you approach the world: how you carry yourself when you enter a room, whether you look a person in the eye and offer a firm handshake. You might feel butterflies in your stomach, but you proceed in spite of them.
"Low self-esteem can lead to problems in relationships, problems with body image and self-image," says Dr. Verinder Sharma, a psychiatrist in the faculty of medicine and dentistry at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. "It's the underlying cause behind depression." Women, from puberty until menopause, are twice as likely to become clinically depressed as men, although no one has been able to satisfactorily explain why. It can be due to hormones or a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can also be argued that some women are so busy worrying about how others feel that they neglect their own feelings. According to Dr. Sharma, low self-esteem can have a biological cause, but it also results from feeling unappreciated and from internalizing criticism. People with low self-esteem can create cycles that are hard to break out of. For example, if a partner constantly criticizes you, instead of leaving the relationship you may cling to it because you start to think that no one else will ever want you. "You must recognize the cause of low self-esteem before you can deal with it, " says Dr. Sharma.
The beauty myth
Everywhere they go, women are bombarded by the distorted images of beautiful ideals that can make them feel inadequate. We can't resist comparing ourselves to those glossy images of airbrushed models and cosmetically enhanced actresses. When we measure ourselves against these unrealistic images, we inevitably come up short. "Many women look in the mirror and almost hate what's there," says Sue Augustine, a motivational speaker and author based in St. Catherines, Ontario. "We see ourselves as ornaments."
We also endlessly compare ourselves to other women. "We compare how flat our stomachs are; we compare everything." says Toronto chiropractor and speaker Elaine Dembe, author of 'Use the Good Dishes: Finding Joy in Everyday Life.' "Perfectionists have a distorted self-image." Envy is normal sometimes, but it can be crippling. What does it do for us? Either it makes us feel bad because someone has something we don't, or else we nit-pick another woman to pieces. It's hard to feel good about yourself when you're tearing someone else down.
Ironically, it's often as women grow older that they begin to appreciate their own unique beauty. "I tell my daughter, "Don't believe what all of these people
say: that growing old is horrible and the best years of your life are when you're young," says 50-year-old Toronto travel writer Kate Pocok. "For the first time, I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy with the person who looks back - and that's a wonderful feeling."
The imposter syndrome
It can be a bumpy road to get to the level of self-acceptance that Pocok speaks of. "The interesting thing is that so many of us out there, we've achieved a level of success and yet we feel that we're faking it, like we've just landed here by accident," says Augustine. This is a problem shared by many women. When I asked one of the calmest, most assured women I know about where she gets her confidence, she responded: "You're asking me? My mom says we're both like ducks: calm on the surface, paddling like hell underneath."
That is, of course, part of the secret: just about everybody is paddling like mad, no matter what image they may project from the surface. "I hate to say 'fake it till you make it," says Dembe. "But if you act as if you can do something, you actually fool your brain into thinking you can."
There's nothing wrong with faking confidence. During a famous reading in World War II London, the English poet Edith Sitwell appeared nonplussed when the room she was in began to rattle from near-by bombs. She simply kept reading her poems, seemingly oblivious to the enormous noise and potential danger. Later, one guest commented on her composure. "The great point of wearing long skirts," the poet responded, " is that people can't see when one's knees are knocking together."
SELF ESTEEM BOOSTERS
Practical steps to take to feel better about yourself.
* Practise self-censorship. "Your words are seeds you're planting into the soil of your life, and you reap what you sow," say motivational speaker Sue Augustine who has just published "5-Minute Retreats for Busy Women: 101 Ways to Add Delight to Every Day" (Harvest House). Words have power: telling yourself you're no good at something will only fulfill that opinion and crush your confidence. When you catch yourself in negative self-talk, make yourself stop. Instead of saying "I'm so forgetful", tell yourself. "I have a great memory." The point is to be realistic but positive. "This isn't self-deception, it's a tool for redirection", say Augustine.
* Remember: your opinion is the one that really counts. When Danyael Halprin of Calgary, Alberta, decided to quit her magazine-editing job and travel throughout southeast Asia for a year, she was surprised at the negative comments this elicited from one co-worker. "She basically said I would never get a job when I came back," remembers Halprin, who was able to keep things in perspective by realizing that her co-worker's comments were really rooted in her own fears. It's important to hear others out, but don't think that they should have the last word on what you can and can't do. Your opinion is what's most important.
* Develop physical confidence. So what if you're not a supermodel. Who is? Besides, even supermodels have body issues! You can make your body stronger and more toned and flexible by exercising regularly. Making the time to care of yourself will make you feel better on the inside and the outside.
* Drop the comparisons. "You're always going to find someone who's a little taller, a little smarter, more beautiful, more charming" says Dr. Christine Derzko, assistant professor of ob/gyn at the University of Toronto. Life is not a zero-sum game in which someone weighing five pounds less than you do has all the advantages. "Things aren't always what they seem, "says chiropractor and author Elaine Dembe, pointing out that while you may admire a woman's appearance, she may well be obsessing about other problems or perceived imperfections.
* Project an image of confidence. Breathe deeply, stand straight and pull back your shoulders. Your posture speaks volumes.
* Keep a record of your accomplishments. Include thank-you letters, photographs, certificates, performance reviews, whatever signifies an achievement of you. Be sure to review these from time to time.
* Know that there will always be moments when you feel somewhat insecure. "Perhaps it's not a bad thing to feel just a little insecure, "says Augustine. "That keeps us from getting complacent." Everyone has moments of doubt and while no one feels 100% confident all the time, the more you work at it, the easier it will become. "Confidence is really about feeling in control of your life," says Augustine. "The more you take back control, the more confidence you'll have."
TEST YOUR CONFIDENCE
Rate the following statements from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating that you don't agree at all and 5 meaning you agree completely.
* I am an interesting person.
* I am good at the work I do.
* When I am in a group, I feel comfortable sharing my opinions and ideas.
* I can hold my own in an argument.
* I stand for the things I believe in.
* I feel positive about the future.
* When I look in the mirror, I generally like what I see.
* In conversation, I look people in the eye.
* I am comfortable with my own company.
* I know I can overcome obstacles.
* Change is inevitable and I know I can adapt to it.
* I believe the glass is half-full, not half-empty.
* I am happy in my close relationships.
* I like meeting new people.
* I can count on the support of friends.
* I like the person I am.
How did you do?
You may have confidence in some areas of your life, but less confident in others. And that is perfectly normal. "Women can have a global sense of confidence, but pockets of insecurity about certain things" says Sue Augustine. However, if you answered mostly 1's, 2's and 3's, you would benefit from developing higher self-confidence.
RESPONSES TO BORDERLINE
I read with interest the recent issue on Borderline Personality Disorder in the February, 2003 issue. I have long been bothered by a case which came to a Local Spiritual Assembly on which I served. Without giving details, which would be inappropriate, a couple came to the Assembly for marital counselling. Although the Assembly prayed and discussed the issue and made several recommendations, as an Assembly member it was very hard to understand what was happening. Even for myself, a trained counsellor, I was confused and really unsure. I have limited training in personality disorders but BPD came to my mind when the couple discussed their struggles and now reading the indicators I am even more convinced that this may have been the trouble. I would like to hear how others on Assemblies have handled situations like this when our best sense of what is happening is not clear and when personality disorders are involved what is happening doesn't fit with our usual expectations. What I am trying to ask is how do we as Assembly members begin to recognize disorders such as these when individuals come to the Assembly for guidance and how do we know when to refer them to psychiatric services? -Anonymous
The subject of Borderline Personality Disorders, BPD is one that I tried to raise eight years ago with the auxiliary board. Perhaps your insight in publishing this will both educate and alert the community or start the friends thinking. You are doing the right thing!!! Most kind hearted, relatively healthy folks simply do not understand problems or the dangers involved with BPD. I think your newsletter is a good beginning. It takes great maturation to begin to deal with "situations" that will likely increase (everywhere and including) within the Faith.
Two websites have changed and the addresses in the February issue under resources are not correct. The Images International website address is now www.images-international.com and the Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals website is www.bamhp.org. Sorry for this error.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH
A reader asks about dealing with anorexia:
My niece who is not a Baha'i aged 22 has an eating disorder; she has not eaten for more than 6 months. She can only drink liquids which my sister tries to make as nutritious as she can. This began after a broken engagement, but went further back from childhood in Swaziland when she had to attend boarding school in South Africa and she tried to cut herself and took an overdose of aspirin. My sister brought her back home and she was better for a while but then began the distressing symptoms again. No one seems able to help her. She has been under medical supervision for years and has counselling but still is not able to eat. In fact she tries even a tiny morsel but gags and becomes panic stricken and over breathes. My poor sister is out of her mind with worry about her daughter and she has resorted to taking her to spiritual healers and various other healing sessions which don’t help at all. Does anyone else have this same illness? If so how did they deal with it?
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PURPOSE OF THE NEWSLETTER
"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.
Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to Frances Mezei by e-mail: email@example.com.
Many thanks to all of you who send such wonderful contributions for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor.
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