Advice column 4-18 “Lotus Guide” by Gayle Kimball

Lotus Guide Column April 2018 by Gayle Kimball

Q: I was thinking about all of my relationships. I figured out that in all of them except one, the woman had a father who was estranged, negligent, abusive or a combination. What does that mean?

A: Co-dependents feel if they take care of a wounded bird it will love them and stay with them. Being the stronger one may feel safe, in that we won’t get overpowered. Neo-Freudian Karen Horney theorized that men do tend to have a fear of being engulfed by a woman, as life giver, primary parent and during intercourse. Your task is to pay attention to the warning signs before you repeat the familiar and see if you feel uncomfortable around a strong independent woman.


Q: I suffered from anxiety and depression and didn’t respond to treatment until I found out the problem is my nervous system is wired differently in what’s called Sensory Processing Disorder. I’d like people to know that although it shares some characteristics with autism spectrum and ADD/ADHD, it’s different and doesn’t respond to those treatments. It helps me to wear tinted glasses, use earplugs, sleep with a weighted blanket, wear a weighted vest, do physical work, and avoid strong odors, but it’s very individual. Most important is to understand my nervous system and know I’m not going crazy.

A: Thank you for helping readers who may have the same characteristics and not understand them. The STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder provides more information and characteristic are listed on


Q: Objectively, I have a good life, but I don’t feel happy. What’s up?

A: The positive psychology science of happiness reports on what makes us happy. About half is genetic, about 10% is environmental–circumstances such as poverty can inhibit happiness, and 40% is our attitude and actions. Even after experiencing something wonderful or terrible, we return near our set point. Scientists found we can train our brains to feel happier due to the 40% category, so that feeling happy is a skill. People who have inner-directed intrinsic values such as compassion are happier than those with external extrinsic values like wanting wealth and popularity.

Ways to train your brain are: exercise–it increases the happiness neurotransmitter dopamine. Meditate–Wisconsin Professor Davidson found that the brains of monks meditating on compassion change. Get in the zone doing something where you lose yourself, and spend time with good people. Do daily writing about three good things happening in your life, similar to gratitude journals, and practice loving kindness such as doing at least one good deed a day. Social support from friends and family is helpful although 30% of Americans report they’re lonely. More suggestions are available from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley newsletter and podcast. Please email me about what helps you be happy to share in future columns.


Q: I work in a job where I’m changing tires in a shop without enough mechanics, so our customers get irritated with waiting and with me and I feel unappreciated. What can I do?

A: Smile and do active listening, saying something like “I know it’s frustrating to wait.” Start collecting jokes to tell your customers. The unconscious mind doesn’t know the different between intention and reality, so give yourself praise after every job you complete as if you were the appreciative customer. Evidence of this is when a hypnotherapist tells the subject she’s putting a cigarette on his skin, his body reacts with a blister, even when it’s really just a pencil.


Q: As an artist, how can I be more open to my creativity? I tend to stay safe and cautious.

A: Deliberately make a bold, ugly, kindergartener art piece and laugh at it to desensitize your perfectionism. Tear it up and burn it with the intention of burning out your inhibitions. Imagine you’re creating for a wealthy flamboyant customer. Consider read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.


Q: I’m starting a new job that requires learning many new systems quickly. How can I keep from being anxious?

A: Carry around a notebook with colored tabs for different systems or a tablet and write down procedures as your boss teaches them. Frequently take long slow exhalations to calm the reactive parasympathetic system. Do cross-crawls touching opposite elbow to knee to keep balanced and clear thinking. Put a reminder sticker on your devices so that you remember to breathe, including a calming breath where you breathe in with your tongue on the roof of the mouth and blow out with your tongue on the floor of the mouth. Tell yourself, “I have all the time in the world.”


Q: I don’t feel good about myself. What can I do to be more positive?

A: What I’m seeing with my inner vision is two vines wrapped around each other, one the truth and the other falsehoods told to you in childhood about your worthlessness. Visualize the false vine moving back into the past where it came from, turning gray, while the truth vine stays in the present where you add color to it in the form of fruit or flowers. Visualizations are an effective way to harness mind power, as taught in my monthly workshops.


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