In Search of “Real” Life Using Travel

A few years ago, I travelled around the exotic places of Thailand. It’s one of my “travel without money” adventures, once again. My Australian host treated me to a nice hotel and sumptuous meals.

For a few weeks, I was hanging out in the beaches and Buddhist temples. Simply curious. Savoring fresh air and seawaters. Knowing the culture and their religion.

I received special gifts of insight about me, fellow humanity, and life in general, along the way.

One afternoon, in a cafe, I met an aged American “secret agent.” He was with a young Thai girlfriend, possibly 4 decades his junior.

In our conversations, both intimated that they’re running away from something with their travels together. Not just around Thailand, but also around different Asian countries.

The elderly American, away from the pain of his divorce and estranged children. And the young Thai woman, an escape from poverty and a broken, abusive family.

People seem to be running away from something in their travels.

Yes, travel can be like that – but it’s also running towards something. A search for a run towards something “real.”

While watching a little boat passed by Hua Hin, I felt myself in both ways. Escaping from and running towards something.

I’ve been running away from the “worldly” idea of what life is. Imperfect though I am, I avoid that nonlife.

And I run towards a life with a higher purpose, authenticity, and connection. A life above the sun.

Reflecting, I realize how much society boxes me in. With illusions, diversions, false news. It simply cannot fathom that “normal” is outside its norm. I travel away from the abnormal to what’s normal.

People who found “real” life in their travels break the mold. They just don’t travel. They discover, see, and experience life as it really is.

Be free to travel towards the world and true living. Your whole life is yours to travel. It’s short. And you get to travel it only once.

When Another New Year Comes

We mark our calendars with New Year. 365 days of 1,440 minutes a day is about 525,000 minutes supply per year!

New Years are milestones. They represent significant points in the passing of time.

Stop and reflect about your self. Your life, every new year.

It looks like New Years are designed to enable us to make an annual life self assessment. Not only of length of years we’ve got, but our depth or quality of life as well.

Are you just growing older? Or, are you also growing whole and healthy?

The psalmist gives us a best wish to say each rolling new year along this line.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

I’ve a caution for you and I.

These New Years are not like an insurance policy where there can be pledge of automatic renewal. Obviously, no one holds a guarantee of another forthcoming new year added into his or her life.

So, if our Creator gives you another new year, He must have some plans for you. He has some things in His mind that He wants you to pull off through your self and life.

Surely, that includes more than your coming 525,000 minutes for the new year!

You need wisdom.

Wisdom comes privately inside the self. It’s a by-product of right choices, habits, and principles applied to circumstances and relationships. It’s a fruit of a disciplined, deeper self.

Can you find marks of wisdom in your self, life, and future plans when another new year comes?

Make the most of the time given to you. One of these New Years will be God’s terminal point in your life!

Unbreakable, Permanent Solution

South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Neil-Peters, 2017 Miss Universe, has an incredible testimony after her recent win. She was “hijacked, car-jacked.” Yet she turned her experience into a positive mental health advocacy.

Neil-Peters was quoted by the news:

“Never allow yourself to be a prisoner of fear. Because if you allow yourself to be, you’re going to live your whole life in fear. Go for therapy, it really, really helps. Don’t be too proud … I can walk with you – that makes us unbreakable.”

Fear is a most common disability of those struck with psychopathology. Not normal fear. But fear that is severe. Out of proportion. It’s fear that makes one choose to remain a victim. A person whose fears have become overwhelming gets crippled to move on in life.

I’m reminded of Pablo who struggled with fear and depression a lot. He was bullied a lot in his life by his parents and schoolmates. As a result, he would have panic attacks and gasp for breath. He literally could not breathe and this happened often. Fear was strangling him.

Too often, when we meet a person struggling with unbearable pains of fear, we simply tell them “Get over it!” Or, dismiss the unreality of the source of the person’s fears. In spiritual circles, we may tell him or her, “Have faith.”

However, I’ve observed that none of these work most effectively. None is a solution to the problem of the person regarding fears. The solution to the problem of fear is love. That kind of solution is permanent. Unbreakable.

You can choose to be unbreakable in the face of any fears you experience. You can make it through any rain. And that’s love, super doses of it.

Getting the right kind love is the medicine we all need to overcome all the fears we will face on earth.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Have you known how to experience perfect love in your life?

Overcoming Your Need to Please Others

Do you feel an overwhelming inner need to please others?

If you do, know that psychologists call it with varied descriptions. Approval Addiction. People-Pleasing. Need-to-be-Liked Syndrome. Whatever we call it, it refers to getting your self-value through the approval of others.

A patient, Rebecca, hated the job offered to her. But because it’s her father’s office and business, she said yes when she really wanted to say no. She quieted her inner voice of protest for she believed it would displease one who’s significant to her. She overextended her self.

As a result, Rebecca got too depressed and sick that led her to seek therapy. Her days were filled with boring routines, sadness, and moments of crying while on her desk. She eventually developed signs of insomnia and anxiety-panic. She felt helpless.

A first major step for Rebecca to cure her condition is to become totally aware of her behaviors. Her people-pleasing. Her approval seeking. Her avoiding confrontation – not “rock the boat.” Awareness of it includes understanding how it created her emotional wounds that she can’t heal if she doesn’t take a look at them.

“The need to feel ‘okay,’ liked, or approved-of is rooted in the messages a person received about their inherent worthiness and belonging while growing up,” says clinical psychologist Erika Martinez. “Somewhere along the way, people with contingent self-worth learned that their worth came from others’ approval, not from within themselves.”

To cure approval addiction, you learn to practice getting your self-worth from within yourself and not from what people say about you. That takes self-love. Self-compassion. Accepting who you are – flaws and all. It’s understanding that even if people dislike or disapprove of you, it’s not a reflection of your value as a human being.

How do you know you’re overcoming your need to please others? A sign is when you find yourself able to speak up when mistreated or wronged. It’s tolerating disapproval, criticism, or dismissal without hurting yourself in some way. It’s taking a stand, asserting your unique identity and gifts.

The Fantasy of Pornography

“What love? We just have sex,” Melanie cried during a session. Melanie, whose husband is heavily into pornography, experiences no tenderness in their marriage. Everything is done so fast. She just feels so used.

Pornography damages. Psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. It enslaves addicts in sexual activities and fantasies that destroy their personhood. Far from making a man or woman a better lover, pornography poisons relationships and sexual enjoyment.

Author Victor Cline, in his book “Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children,” wrote: “Pornography contains much scientifically inaccurate, false, and misleading information about human sexuality, especially female sexual nature and response.”

Recently, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner (who died recently) once compared himself to Jesus Christ. He said he was a “missionary” whose important achievement was “liberating people from sexual hang ups” through his worldwide pornography business.

If Hefner is right, wouldn’t the porn addicts find themselves happy, fulfilled, with a strong sense of psychological identity? If Playboy pornography aids great sex, wouldn’t you expect that married partners will have a good sense of love and real mutual pleasure in sex?

Brenda Mackillop, a former Playboy bunny, model, and prostitute, who worked with Hefner frequenting his mansion from 1973-1976, confided, “I lived the Playboy philosophy. I felt worthless and empty. Out of my despair, I attempted suicide on numerous occasions.”

Not too long ago, a patient was telling me that watching porn on the internet during bedtime puts him to sleep. He “fantasize” first before going to bed to put himself to sleep. The pornography he watches appears to alter his mood.

Psychotherapist Dr. Mark Laaser writes, “Fantasy can be addictive. It stimulates chemical reactions in the pleasure centers of the brain. The addict then uses these effects to escape other feelings, to change negative feelings to positive feelings, and even to reduce stress. Given the chemical changes it creates, sex fantasy addicts are, in reality, drug addicts.”

Evidently, pornography only produces psychopathology. It destroys self-worth, dignity, and mental health. It not only stimulates sexual coercion or predation, it encourages rape, promiscuity, and other forms of sexual addiction or sociopathy. Rather than enhancing love and great sex, pornography destroys marriages and relationships.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light; but if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then, the very light in you is darkened, how dense is that darkness!” (Matthew 6: 22, 23)

Watch Your Brain Nutrition

Natural brain nutrition is essential for our mental health. Healthy foods and supplements have a positive effect on the serotonin and dopamine levels needed by the brain.

Serotonin used in the brain is known to affect mood and social behaviors. It also moderates appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire/function.

Dopamine, on the other hand, functions as a neurotransmitter (a chemical released by nerve cells or neurons to send signals to other nerve cells). Dopamine affects way we perceive pleasure/rewards.

Mental disorders, such as clinical depression, addictions, or personality maladjustments, partly stem from a relative deficit in serotonin and/or dopamine levels.

Natural foods to keep our brain “healthy and happy” – counterbalancing serotonin and dopamine levels – include oily fish, whole grains, blueberries, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, eggs, chickens, brocolli, nuts, among others.

It’s interesting to note that, in two studies in the American Journal of Psychiatry, it’s found that the highest suicide rates are found among those with the lowest protein levels. Proteins are building blocks of brain neurotransmitters.

Natural brain supplements are especially helpful. They are known to have a positive effect on serotonin, dopamine, and protein levels of the brain.

I often recommend Transfer Factor Plus and Brain Recall supplements (http://drsubida4life.com) to my clients, which balance serotonin and dopamine levels as well as increase blood flow in the brain. Many of my clients report how these supplements strengthen their focus, impulse control and overall immune system.

Nowadays, our common diet is filled with fast-food meals and harmful ingredients. This modern-day food “norm” has a negative, even a toxic effect, on the brain and our mental health.

The way to go is natural brain nutrition through healthy foods and supplementation. When psychopathology symptoms are present, natural brain nutrition is often life-saving.

Don’t forget it!

Therapy Without Leaving Home

It used to be a traditional way. I once worked all the time in the office, with armchair and tools.

But with it, the problem of the high costs of wasted time enduring more than a couple of hours travel each day to office.

The cost of fuel, not factoring in medical costs of my increasing weight, blood pressure, traffic-anxiety, and fatigue, significantly reduced my joy and effectiveness.

I’m glad times have changed. With the growth of the mobile and the internet, society has progressively moved work channels from the physical to the digital.

The lines between work and life are being erased in the process. Time and money are saved. The threat of burnout and mental health challenges get to be addressed.

Distance is no longer a problem between people engaged in a working process.

Whenever I do Skype or phone sessions with counsellees from the Philippines, Qatar/Dubai, Australia, USA, Japan, or anywhere else around the world, I’ve come to feel that I’m more productive and refreshed working remotely than when sedentarily confined in a clinic cubicle.

I’m glad I can do running or recharging while helping anyone, anywhere!

Productivity appears more in the comfort of home or natural environs of individuals engaged in life session. The domino effect is the natural fruit of seeing that the main value exists not in the structure of a fixed physical space of an office – but in the value of output made.

I think I’m not alone in believing this to be so in our times.

The working world in general is more and more showing a a rising trend of decreased need for a central physical hub to do work.

I’m reading US National Library of Medicine, which suggests that remote, digitally-based workers have higher performance outputs.

The less office means increased productivity by up to 70%, according to Time Doctor Stats.

With technology spurring growth and saving costs, don’t be surprised if you see me championing a non-traditional office-less “psychotherapy without borders.”

Via Skype or phone. Or, in coffee shops, beaches, or malls. It’s organic. Natural life flow. Time/cost-effective. In short, a more healthy option towards your search for healing and wholeness in your life.