Dr Gaya I Ep #8 | Family drama during lockdown



hey guys i’m tasha hey listeners this is ghooni and you’re tuned in to dot of the podcast where we chat and explore all things on integrative medicine thanks dr gaia for joining us again

today on daughter of the podcast hi kasha hi everybody hi guni so in today’s episode and tvs i guess we want to dive into living in a pandemic and how it’s impacting our social health and specifically i guess talking about the dynamics within families and how there’s a lot of family drama there’s been a lot of stories reported about fights within family members uh getting out of line and then yeah there’s many stories to pick from but i won’t highlight those um maybe you can tell us how did you manage the family dynamics during covet uh in your household uh yeah what an interesting topic because i think each of us ha has had a unique experience um so i live in a multi-generational household i live my mother lives with me my elderly mother i have my partner and for part of the pandemic my daughter was living with me and and i really can tell you firsthand how difficult this forced proximity was on the one hand you’re absolutely worried about the pandemic what you need to do and i work in the pandemic response in my day-to-day job so you’ve got an increased burden of stress and you are removed from your normal environment because my normal environment is at work we are bringing work into our home and the first six weeks was really hard but it took me a long time to realize how hard it was and we had all the classic you know the research tells us when we were forced into proximity with it with people for extended periods of time you know there’s increased confusion there’s increased anger and our emotions tend to be more explosive right because we are contained we’re imprisoned if you like in this place and we’re frightened about what’s happening outside right um so and and this is also one of the reasons why there’s more violence more aggression and we all have had you know heard about increased domestic violence family violence this this uh we cannot understand that through how our social and mental health works so you know for me yes we we had some explosive arguments my mother and i i might not have gotten involved we were very all very hurt it really was very difficult and very very objective during this process i of course have great coping mechanisms so in the middle of a pantemic i decided i needed to get away and i water i bought a chalet in the mountains and now regularly every weekend i escaped there and that gives us some separation yeah when we come back we’re much happier together well but not everyone has the luxury to have a chalet but it is a good uh coping mechanism it’s like sometimes it just requires a walk in my situation where the whole family is kind of scattered around the world so we just have to navigate our time so we don’t get into this proximity issue because we literally don’t have to however now it’s kind of the opposite is we’re craving for connection and making sure that we are together we are supporting each other in this very unusual time and my escape is basically turning off that red button that is dropping the call so if we do get in a heated conversation i would just say okay bye and i would just so that’s an easy one that you actually raised the real issue so within the family we have a certain impact on our social and mental health but being isolated is what you’re talking about right and and my children are you know they’re into different countries siblings all over the world and you feel the lack of connection it’s very hard and it’s only when you are forced to stay at home you realize how much you depended not just on family but on friends on calling and even just seeing people around you people who you don’t know that connection so that’s the other side and i think a really difficult side because it’s been more than a year where we have not had the social interaction that we have and we also know that has uh research shows that has a lot of negative consequences you know particularly it it impacts actually not just your mental health and your stress levels it affects cardiovascular health it actually is a risk factor and it affects your mental health definitely but it also affects your immune health right so immunity can be abnormal based on uh isolation so actually it’s not just in your head it actually affects your whole health yeah no that’s so interesting i mean you touched on a really good point um i have like maybe a similar dynamic as you dr gaia where i have an intergenerational house right and so we have like three different generations in the house trying to like navigate the day-to-day and also this like strange concept of being locked in the house together plus my extended family is very very connected and they come visit like every week so this lack of connection has put us in a space where we’re unable to like have any other outlet there’s some really interesting facts right so let’s let’s look at social rejection so somebody you really like rejects you it can be a a lover it can be a friend it can be a child somebody does something to make you feel rejected apparently the pain you feel is is the same as physical pain you will feel from you know cutting yourself if you like so actually there’s research that shows for social rejection if you take a paracetamol actually that pain will reduce so it shows in the brain in the mind we feel social pain in the same way that we feel physical pain right and why is this if you look at evolution why why is this why should this happen why should we we be alert to social pain rejection because we lived as groups as tribes as as groups of people right and if you were rejected by the group then your chance of survival is reduced so our brain has evolved to recognize social pain right and and the tragedy is you know during the pandemic we are all very rational beings right we always say we shouldn’t complain about our loneliness or isolation or family problems because look at people dying and a half you know millions of people are dying from coping we’re always trying to rationalize and say other people are suffering more but social pain is real and that’s why we’re talking about health as a holistic integrated concept of physical mental and social well-being and they are interacting to protect you to keep you safe and for you to persevere so we mustn’t i think one terrible thing we’ve done and i’ve done it too that i’ve diminished my pain because i think i’m very fortunate right but actually your pain is very real to you and i’m not saying we should indulge it but we should recognize it understand it’s a real and important thing in your life and as tasha said it can affect your physical health not just your mental health right so it’s very important to have this self-awareness understand that social health our connection with others and having a healthy relationship with others uh in the right doses right we know too much proximity is difficult too much isolation is difficult to have this is very important and we mustn’t undermine this and this is also one of the reasons why we have so much increase in mental health conditions during this period right um so i think it’s very important to be authentic to understand acknowledge um and to see its importance it also highlighted like the importance of having a very reliable tribe um that you can count on and even as you said earlier like just the social interactions with people that you don’t even know like the colleagues you see in the office um you know the lady in the street who’s selling some food you see on the way that all these little moments add to the fact that you’re not alone and isolated and that’s when i started questioning like okay so who can i really consider as my tribe and who can i lean on in this time even though we are super isolated right how do you how do you create that in this kind of setting i think you know i mean we’re very fortunate we’re living in a you know technologically advanced age right so that we can connect and and now our tribes are no longer geographically found and you can have many tribes you can have a tribe that is related to your work related to your religion related to your family i wouldn’t talk my work with my family i’ll end up fighting because our politics are very different right and that’s why we have different communities and tribes for different aspects of our lives because we’re complex beings so i very important i have a very strong tribe in my professional life around the world but they can’t fulfill the needs that i have as a as a mother or a woman or a partner or a daughter and technology allows us to be connected but the issue is there’s research that shows passive use of social media just reading on this post you know following twitter that actually makes you more lonely what really works is synchronous talking to each other at real time interactive that’s right where we can bounce off ideas and build on each other that is the golden egg that we’re looking for right that is what creates connections but if i’m passively looking at other people’s posts it can make me feel diminished unconnected sad uh lonely so social media is a tool but we have to use it in the right way for sure i think that for me because the family was scattered and i i during the pandemic i moved from hong kong to to london the tribe that i had to build was based on friends and the level of proximity or the level of depth that our relationship has gone to would have never happened i think if it was not for the pandemic um because we’re all in the same situation no one has a family there and so we have only each other to create that tribe and that tribe just becomes very unique and same thing when i came here in london where there was a co-living space so i had access to a pool of people when kind of in the same situation so the level of links of attachment that we create to towards each other it’s very strange because i become like kind of a sister to a friend and we are craving for these connections um and and even sometimes seeking it with with strangers in order to survive we need each other that’s the evolution we need right if you look at us you know we needed to collaborate mammals have babies who are helpless so we learn to collaborate in evolutionary terms but i was really interested in what you said before the pandemic i had the same experience as you uh because i work in health emergencies i’m asked to go to countries in emergencies and and work with them and often we travel you know two or three people together and i find a week with my colleagues in the field this equivalent to maybe five years in the office one we are present in an unusual setting and a scary dangerous setting that makes us act more together and then this proximity we’re eating together so that intimacy that proximity allows you to have an accelerated uh relationship and you said you know your experience coming to london so absolutely the thing is when something’s taken away from you when you know you know social isolation could happen you value other people more so you are actually entering relationship with others not taking them for granted you value each relationship right normally we don’t value our relationships we take most of our relationships for granted it’s only when something is threatened we sort of wake up and say oh wow i need this this is really valuable right given rational circumstances and normal circumstances we would be super fixated on like our structure or our rules of how we operate in the world but now all of those keep shifting and changing you expand your rules because you need to survive and so you adjust accordingly i guess it is evolutionary as well right but i’m curious have you guys heard of the concept of like a family bubble because i spoke to a couple of friends and um those who live at home but they couldn’t take the stress of living at home so they formed a little bubble with their friends and they basically decided to like rent a place and move in together and that was that was the way they did it in malaysia yeah i have a great example of that so i haven’t seen my son since last talk but i find he’s one of the few people who’s thriving in this isolation because he’s done exactly that he’s in a apartment building dormitories he’s at university and what they’ve done is they pick i think five or six people on their floor and they set up rules that they have to follow so that they can be a bubble so they actually have a social life right so it’s wonderful and if somebody goes and breaks that they enforce quarantine of that person they say okay you know you’ve been out in this gathering we’d like you to just stay and follow the quarantine and they actually enforce it and they’ve had an amazing time they’ve studied hard they’ve been successful in in their studies they’ve done internships and they have this great vibrant social life with which values each other so i’m very jealous my daughter on the other hand she’s in milan and she was in a very uh wonderful little tribe you know two other medical students were like big sisters to her but because of some practical issues with the building itself she had to move and she really didn’t understand why she was feeling so bad and we realized is that she missed her tribe and and that made her miss even me i mean i’m shocked when my 25 year old is i miss you mommy you know what i never expected to hear but then she she understood she said oh all the people who took care of me i’m gone and and that really made her fall into herself you know and also she actually had another coping mechanism that many of us had in her previous place she had a dog in the house and she missed this too because many people manage isolation with pets right that become really important during this time so everything was suddenly taken away from her and it took actually quite a few months to get back on her feet so i have completely different uh experiences but the family bubble tasha is really an acknowledgement of the social need for connection definitely married to the epidemiological and public health need for not spreading you know to men and to limit the transmission of the disease so i think it’s really interesting is the first time we’ve heard of it for sure it makes you reflect as well about what it means because some people are just like have a very big family and they’re like okay so how do i treat these ones et cetera and then you have smaller families nuclear families but then it’s not sufficient on their own if something happens so then you just add members because you have to survive as you were saying dr gaia but when is dependency versus interdependency you know what is that fine line where it can sometimes become toxic yeah i think you know if you look at the arc of somebody’s life as a child the struggle into adulthood is to become independent right so you started dependent you’re completely dependent on your parents whether it’s food or money or helping you to learn to speak or whatever and then through teenage you’re fighting for independence and often financial independence getting a job right um you know so this becomes your goal as a young adult right and then as you get into adulthood and you’re in the workplace in your new family you know whatever in your in your tribe you realize you’re actually not independent you’re interdependent right so it is a good balance of you doing what you want but understanding that everything you do affects others and what others do affect you right and and people a lot of people don’t make have that understanding and they don’t make that transition so everything is about it’s about my independence but my rights but actually life and beyond individuals and families it is about interdependence countries are interdependent on each other systems are interdependent on each other and we are interdependent on the world in which we live the nature climate and i think we’re at an age in the 21st century we’re beginning to understand what this interdependence is it is a balance between your individuality and your freedom but really understanding the mutual impact you have on other beings on other systems and so on and i think you know this social health is related to that right so what happens when you’re too dependent on somebody you don’t have self-esteem and self-worth and you’re at the risk of being exploited or abused that’s right if you’re too independent then you are lonely because you can’t be with anybody else and what we’re talking about is actually about interdependence that is balanced meeting your needs and and not violating anybody else’s now i was just going to draw from what you said like a good example that most people can relate to would be just think of any uh breakup a relationship breakup you know when you are dependent on somebody and then the impact that happens that’s a good setup to see how you function as a person individually and then with someone in a partnership but often a reason for a breakup can be that you are without knowing too dependent and that gives rise to dissatisfaction in you and the partner right so there’s a toxic situation that can arise when it’s not balanced right yeah and so it may be the result but it could also be the course and what are some of the hints where you kind of draw the line between dependency and interdependency well i don’t think there’s really a line i think you know you it’s a balance that you’re trying to because you can be very dependent in this particular context but very independent in another context and interdependent in another context right so um so for example at work i’m extremely it’s completely interdependent on how we co-create solutions but i’m dependent on the organization because they hire me and they pay me a salary right and then yet in certain areas of my responsibility i can be very independent so i don’t think there is a line i think it’s for us to understand uh it’s like you know nobody’s happy or sad all the time or i think they say we we go through about six thousand mind sets a day you know different thoughts you know so you can’t even count them right you’re constantly in flux but i think societies actually influence how dependent independent and interdependent you are so if you take from more traditional cultures is actually interdependence is valued much more cooperation is valued much more in other societies independence is really the the goal of a mature person in that variety but you know in a globalized world now we see we have the same problems and the same challenges so um i think the fundamental skill here is to be self-aware of yourself of what you’re feeling what this means to you and therefore what you want to do about it we are often mindless right we’re doing things we’re experiencing things we’re reacting to things what we’re trying to do is become mindful of what is happening inside us outside us our reactions and that gives us an opportunity because we’re very smart and we are wired to survive to actually take a course and and and do the right thing so i’m not i’m not really um advocating for one over the other i think i’m really advocating for uh being mindful about what is happening around you what is happening inside you how does this align to your value system how does it help you and other people and then i think that’s how you take decisions um and i think an interesting perspective as do you know spiraling up when you have those those arguments um and it’s conversations discussions that needs to happen because you’re stuck with them um what could be you know ways to have those healthy confrontations or kind of tips for people to integrate in in their difficult conversations with people yeah in several episodes we really talked about the brain the mind you know how we are wired uh to survive and so when we are threatened and the threat could be somebody in your family’s voice has the wrong tone for a look a slight look because we’re very clever we pick it automatically and then what happens we have what we say is an amygdala hijack our sort of lower brains the older parts of our brain hijack logical thinking so now you’re in survival mode in survival you’re going to fight or flight right so this is where these explosive emotions come in everything that you’re confronted with after that you see something threatening or wrong or and really there’s only only one trick to identify the science in yourself of when you are under attack so you see your breathing changes you feel a little hot you feel hostility rising you know in yourself and then take a moment to pause take a deep breath or just pick up a glass of water have a sip all right or if you’re in your house just just walk to the kitchen pick up open the tab get a glass of water come back right or if somebody’s on on zoom and fighting with you say just one minute i’ll be back in one second and go get that damn glass of water because what you need to do is disengage the hijack so your logical brain now reacts that’s one number two i really think you become defensive because you think you’re under attack so we need to step back and say well actually what is happening with this person what is happening not with me but what’s happening with them maybe they’re attacking me because something else is going on right right you you have to learn to not respond first pause but in your response don’t go to judging or giving a conclusion or or replying find a way to ask really what’s going on what’s really bothering you right developing empathy i guess yeah yes you really emotional intelligence is really the core of all of this and neuroscience explains why emotional intelligence works but i think that’s really about it if you make it not about you she actually shouts at me she uses my name she says terrible things make me feel this tall and of course i am trained to defend myself right so i will go and it will escalate and i will say something worse and she will say something worse and it cannot end in a good place the only thing is i have to back off and and and say okay mommy you sound really upset okay let you know what’s this about what do you want to talk about you know or sometimes you just apologize not apologize for doing what they said you can apologize and say i’m really sorry that this has upset you right i’m really sorry you’re upset about this okay so tell me i’m i didn’t mean to upset you tell me tell me what i have done tell me how i can change that and you know a little de-escalation like that can prevent a world war really it can and i i had i thought i was having world war three in my house during and it filled out of the house we were shouting in the garden i mean we were trying to get space for each other in switzerland i thought somebody’s going to call the police and say i’m abusing this old person in this house and she was giving it her all right this is the this is the argument my aunt who lives with her she’s like the oldest right so she has the same thing she’s like stop it like others like they’re gonna call the cops i’m like i don’t care you know i need to state my peace but that’s about us saying me i agree with you tasha i feel like that i say the first thing you think is this is so unfair why are they like this but but then you realize it’s actually a breakdown of communications because we misunderstood each other’s actions because we haven’t understood each other’s intentions right so in my household for me stress relief is being quiet i meditate i’m quiet in my mother’s eyes she thinks i don’t like her that’s why i don’t talk to her right she expect me to talk to her but i talk all day i have eight zoo meetings and i don’t talk to anybody i’m just inquired and i think oh she must be pleased because i’m a good buddhist girl no you are so bad you’re not a good daughter you don’t talk to me and you have you can’t unpack this if you get into it right and actually in one major argument everybody was involved my children the dogs everybody and i basically had to leave i actually left for seven days you know i left the house for seven days because i couldn’t take it anymore and i left i went away and i came back after seven days and i was silent for several weeks after that i didn’t talk because i didn’t trust anyone to talk without getting into a fight but that gave us time to calm down and come to an understanding and that was an extreme case but i know what you’re talking about and i know i can sit here and give you good advice but when it happens to me you get dragged into it it’s like a deep sea current that drags you in you know it’s like a reflex right you just it’s exactly that it is a survival reflex and we have to disengage it i think you you mentioned multiple like uh great powerful tips because one i think empathy and and compassion i think other like links to emotional awareness or emotional intelligence and i think it’s the core of it um and when you are able to i guess disengage and defuse the situation by stepping away from it as you being the center of it then it becomes easier because when i try it those those are the moments where i’m like wow i actually i didn’t go down that path where i fought with them but then when i don’t apply it and i straight away we’ll react in a way it’s very important especially when you’re locked up together you have to diffuse yeah even if it can be very unfair on you completely wrong it will it can be aggressive and violent and we have seen this in tragic uh statistics about domestic violence okay because you are trapped there you are trapped there so whatever the cost you have to defuse that’s right you have to step back doesn’t matter if people are being unfair to you you have to step back diffuse the situation then figure out what you want to do correct yeah um so it really because it can end in depth because people are so passionate about what they feel and this they’re being locked up why why is the violence in prisons because people are constantly aggressed right so we are in a prison if you like and a prison without without bars right because what is keeping us in prison is our moral agreement that we will follow this rule nobody’s imposing it right so so it so it’s triple stress something has been told to us we are fighting our instincts to stick by it and then all this stress is fermenting aggression in in a close face and and don’t underestimate the size of the place you live in the number of people in it oh my goodness yeah that’s so true people who live in apartments in cities more than half of humanity live in cities and cities you don’t have a lot of space right right yeah you just need to be very careful you know and and i suppose after all this is as this is easing up we have to think about what really nourishes us what really stresses us out where do we want to live where do we want to work these are questions we didn’t really ask before we followed where there was work or there was a relationship but now it’s more complicated so you have to use this time to self-reflect about what works for you right you never have enough people and and always your tribe is people are entering it and people are leaving it relationships don’t just happen you have to nurture relationships right whether it’s an intimate relationship or a casual relationship you get what you put in that’s it we take relationships for granted i know that’s a lesson i learned with my partner for me he was always there i just took him for granted but luckily over the last year i’ve really become to appreciate things about him things i was judgmental about before you know which i saw as not so nice i realize it’s a great strength of character you know he has that social health it’s not an end on its own but it is an integral essential core part of overall health right we’ve spent entries looking at physical health in the last few decades we’re beginning to understand and unpack mental health and the pandemic is gives us a great opportunity to learn about social health and 74 years ago when who was formed we said help includes all of these three components so here we are with a great learning opportunity and we’re all learning everybody should uh embark on life as they are learners not experts including me my goodness how much i have learned um but let’s take some time to not judge be approachable and nurture relationships regardless of the benefit you see on this beautiful note dr gaia thank you for for those words of wisdom from the wisdom house as well well said yeah no thank you what is it so i really enjoy talking to you and and i i really enjoy um that it’s very practical and in a way you’re helping me because i’m talking through my problems on air as well i hope my mom doesn’t listen to this episode i’ll have another problem but if you enjoyed this episode go ahead and select that follow a subscribe button for now stay safe and we’ll see you next week

Dr Gaya I Ep #8 | Family drama during lockdown

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top