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Older and unfinished musings.

How are you?

Is how we frequently begin a conversation either face to face or over the phone.
Each party asking how the other is.
My question is, how many of us really want to know? How often are we asking out of politeness than from a genuine enquiry into someones well-being?

As a child and younger adult, I’d learnt that when asked such a question, one answers with, “Okay thanks, what about you?”
In the last 15 years I’ve learnt to say how I am, whether it be good or bad. I have noticed that not all grew up with this injunction. Many are used to saying how they are and going into great detail about how they are. Not all of them have been willing to take the time to listen in return. It has been interesting to notice the responses now that I too say how I am.

I have noticed that some people, having asked how I am, will move on when I tell them I am not so good, or such and such (negative) is going on. They make a noise of acknowledgement, and then change the subject. I am left wondering whether I should go back to my old response (and of course, the people who respond this way would probably prefer that). Others respond with a greater problem, somehow as if there is a competition to see who has it worse. These are the people a guest therapist/trainer of mine referred to as, “Empty Gas Pumps” I can’t find any references to it, but these are the people not to take your problems to. They don’t want to hear that your life is not good at the moment, and cannot provide any support or active listening. They really only want to tell you about themselves, their problems and get your support. So, there is frequently great reinforcement to return to old ways of responding.

I only go to the full gas pumps when I need support nowadays. I am also a full gas pump when I can be, and will say I am not able to provide support when I am empty. I love my mutual relationships, they are mostly free from complication and competition.

Stroking and touch.

This has been a long term ponder of mine. In recent years research has found that touch and stroking can be healing.
Dogs have been introduced to certain areas in hospitals (or have they been banned since M.R.S.A.) providing P.A.T therapy. There is also research into the bonding between humans and their pet dogs and the reduction of stress and lowering of blood pressure.

Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania, actually measured what happens physically when a person pets a friendly and familiar dog. They found that the person’s blood pressure lowered, heart rate slowed, breathing became more regular and muscle tension relaxed-all of which are signs of reduced stress. Furthermore a study published recently in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine not only confirmed these effects, but showed changes in blood chemistry demonstrating reduced amounts of stress related hormones. It is interesting to note that these positive psychological effects work a lot faster than many drugs taken for stress, since all of these effects occurred after only 5 to 24 minutes of pleasantly interacting with the dog.

This is all great, and yet it leaves me wondering…..is it possible to get the same health benefits from bonding with, touching and stroking another human being? Does it have to be an animal? Is it a Western thing? Could this same research be replicated in other cultures, or do they reduce their blood pressure and stress in other ways? I can understand how important it is for those who have a pet and no partner, but what about those with partners?

Lots of questions, I’d love some answers. One more question before you leave. Is it possible we touch and stroke our pets more than we do our human partners? It would be fascinating to get you to count the times you interact physically with your pets and to count the same with your human and let me know that answer.

Please be very sure to close the gate for the next 2 weeks, keep my grandsons safe.

a bientot.

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About kathythesane

Lived in Kent, then Devon, now France. Trained as a Mental Health Nurse in Canterbury, then at Training South East (Sandhurst) in Transactional Analysis with Alice Stephenson (dec'd) , Suzanne Boyd and Mellie Lewin. Managed a Private Psychiatric Nursing Home for very mentally ill patients in Devon for 3 year before retiring to France in 2006.

One response »

  1. On the question of “How are you?”, it’s also worthy of note that the words we use to talk to and about ourselves can have an actual effect on our physical condition. That the stories we tell ourselves can shape the nature of reality around us. This is due to a phenomenon known as the Mind-Body Connection, where our conscious and unconscious beliefs have a measurable effect on things like health, co-ordination and sucess(amongst other things)

    So, if we feel lousy, and spend a lot of time and energy focusing on that lousy feeling and telling others all about it, we can actually make it worse

    If you feel bad, I’m not saying that you should lie and say you’re ok when someone asks “How are you?”. I am saying that it may be a bad idea, though to focus too much on feeling bad

    Catherine
    Foresight

    Reply

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