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Updated: Jan 14, 2023

“Man is what he believes.”

Anton Chekhov

Beliefs empower our core values and principles and offer direction for our choices. They are based on the perceptions of external stimuli or memory. Accepting something to be true without the executive function of belief can leave a person feeling empty and hopeless. We choose our thoughts based on experience, and they become our reality.

Beliefs mingle with our emotions, and the emotional brain receives external stimuli from our five senses or sensory framework. This has a broader impact on the concept of mind, body, and spirit than the structures of the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus alone. Sensory input gets analyzed according to stimuli from the environment. Once neurologically directed to the frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex, our executive function analysis-decision making, short-term memory, and planning of the stimuli begins. We become consciously aware and catalog this information as part of our beliefs.

For example, you get a ticket for a train; all the seats are assigned by car. You walk the long aisle going from car to car. But, when you arrive at the assigned train car, it is for animals where sheep, goats, and ducks are kept. There is a stall marked with your ticket number. How does that make you feel? If you're a city person probably mortified. If you are a country person who likes animals and grew up on a farm, you would feel at home. Two different realities because of previous experience using executive function. The city person accustomed to tea and crumpets or the country person accustomed to drinking black coffee from a porcelain mug and dunking day-old herb bread. The conscious analysis is based on memories or immediate stimuli if not experienced before.

We have choices; to be stuck in emotional disquiet with a feeling of lack (negative emotion). Or, we can choose to change our thoughts through the use of positive, more uplifting language. Embracing this can shift our behavior and change our beliefs. Over time can change the reactive behavior to one of forethought and responsiveness.

Consider a positive use of executive function. Embrace my favorite acronym for HABIT. A (H)ealthy (A)ttitude changes (B)ehavior and (I)nitiates (T)houghtfulness. Give your beliefs a boost with a random act of kindness. That thoughtfulness will envelop you and those around you with uplifting, positive emotions and nudge your beliefs.

Blessings in health this new year.

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Know you are not alone in your grief.

I would like to ask you three question. When you speak about a situation with health challenges… what are the words you choose to describe the challenge? Do you feel or sense changes how your body is


            After ‘what’ is the ‘why’ of survivors’ grief


In the dictionary, why infers a suggestion, “whether agreed upon or to make one.” It also refers to a “reason” something is said or done—the discussion of ‘what’ from the previous blog specifies the cause of a thing. 


Regarding survivors’ grief, ‘what’ is a spouse's death, which leads to a long list that follows. What do I do? What is this guilt? What did I do or not do? Obviously, there are more ‘what’s,’ all based on the individuals’ circumstances. These become the elements of importance in journaling.


After that, the ‘what’ remain but changes to a variety of ‘why’s’ in a reactive manner. This reactive moment can last for a long time. The nerves are on edge, and the anger is a fresh wound on the tip of the tongue lashed out at anyone when it is prompted. I use the word ‘prompt’ since it is less aggressive or linked to the finality of the word ‘trigger’ or a ‘button’ to be pushed.


Why is it necessary to express emotional pain on paper? It uses the senses to absorb, assimilate and accept the anguish, despair, and anger relative to the loss. Once on paper, the immediate emotion is confronted and questioned as to why it is felt—again providing a reason for journaling. Is it cathartic to journal? Absolutely. But the underlying purpose is to use the 3 A’s-absorb, assimilate, and accept.


Also, why is it aligned with the past negative-ego prompts of growing up? All those experiences of stacked and imprinted emotional and physical stimuli. They compounded the reactive nature of being human as an adult and become reflected in the present state of survivor’s grief.


Attaching “Why” to the following “whats”


What is important?

What to use?

What to avoid?

What from the past?

What is a benefit?


Provides insight into the assimilation of emotion by asking, “Why?” Then, when written in a journal fulfills the role of the senses in offering fuel to the mind. To catalog and compartmentalize the chemistry of emotion in memory.


Raising the question of ‘why’ also creates avenues for new prompts based on positive intentions of forethought as a result of a pause. To pause allows for the assimilation of a prompt. Analyzing and accepting the positive intention of the purpose changes neurochemistry. Thereby changing emotional reactive behavior to responsive thought and actions.

                                                  Know you are not alone!



I would like to ask you three questions.

     When you speak about a situation with health challenges…


what are the words you choose to describe the challenge?

Do you feel or sense changes in how your body is reacting to the words you express?

Do you look for a diversion?


These questions help to formulate a direction of acceptance of grief. I know full well the impact on a person’s psychological and physical well-being. I struggled with my demons of loss and guilt during my wife’s treatment for breast cancer and jumped into the rabbit hole with both feet when she died in 2004.


I learned valuable lessons over the next 4 years. Yes, it took me a long time. Everyone emotionally run over by breast cancer’s insidious nature can move forward over time. A myth about the word (time)…Time doesn’t heal all wounds.” Time may be on our side but the relevance to healing and finding peace is disconnected. 


It is a roller coaster ride of emotional disquiet. One day I am fine, with a manageable level of emotion, the next, all fire and brimstone. 


The point is; that you reach a juncture of choice. Hopefully, one where you turn your back on the back wall of your cave, you’re rabbit hole of despair. I am challenged by the rattle of my Jack-in-the-box emotional receptacles every day. They tickle my emotions with a smile and a laugh. I am intimately connected to it. I refuse to let it define me and arrived at a point of acceptance.

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