Lessons from Otto
1. IF YOU'RE FEELING EXCESSIVELY IRRITABLE, TAKE A NAP
Liver and sleep are intertwined. There are many research that point to sleep disturbances as a factor in various liver diseases. But there is also research, published in the journal, Science, that shows molecular ties between the liver and sleep, affecting fat metabolism in the liver.
In Chinese Medicine, the Liver is the organ system that regulates the emotion of anger (and all the spectrum of anger: irritation, resentment, rage). So if there is an imbalance in your liver showing up as anger, the best thing to do is to heal it with sleep.
2. KINDNESS IS EVERYWHERE
One of my projects is to help Otto understand the concept of kindness. Helping, comforting , sharing, even accepting others are examples of kindness. I told him that when we are kind to people and things outside of ourselves, our hearts grow bigger (a la "The Grinch"). But what was helpful was to point out how he feels when others are kind to him. So I started pointing out moments when we were treated with kindness (letting us pass in traffic, a parking attendant solving an issue, etc.). The more I pointed these moments out, the more I realize that I am constantly receiving kindness all around me, sometimes from the unlikeliest of places. Much of the kindness we receive are just small acts of courtesy, but, if we stop taking these for granted, we can see the even the smallest gestures can feel loving if we just fully take it in.
3. GIVE YOURSELF THE SPACE TO FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS FULLY
We shine a negative light on tantrums, but when we allow Otto to feel his emotions fully, we find that the triggers that activated those feelings are just a little less volatile next time. Right now, we are working on our reactions to embarrassment, regret, and disappointment. Those complex emotions are hard to maneuver even for us grown-ups. So we told Otto to let people around him know that he needs some space, then walk away, and feel those feelings. Then most of the time, once his emotional expression has played out, he can come back to balance.
One thing that embarrassment, regret, and disappointment have in common is the element of shame. Embarrassment doles out shame through the eyes of the other, regret is an internal shame, and disappointment is the shame coming from within and being projected onto an external event or person. And shame is the hardest emotion to shake off (and starts innocently via guilt). So once you are able to deal with shame, these emotional expressions start to resolve. There will be more on examination of shame in future newsletters.
4. LIFE IS A PLAYGROUND
Sprouts, a local market, is four blocks from our apartment. But sometimes it takes us 45 minutes to walk there. It's because we point out every dandelion, jump over every crack, and examine everything with such an inquisitive eye. There are times when we walk backwards, and times when we run through sprinklers. These seemingly simple aberrations in our purposeful travel seem like a waste of time, but they certainly make the journey fun. Before my adult mind can grasp what is happening, I have found both mirth and quietude during my walk to the grocery store, with my guru, Otto Radley.