The Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose
We are a society that values rugged
individualism. This is because of our
historic frontier experience... with
immense and fertile land to capitalize
on. Though most of us have never even
seen a frontier, people remain believing
"Every man (person!) for himself."
The USA has been "settled" for a couple
of centuries and exponentially increased
its population. Old modes of thinking
and being no longer apply. Today we are
much better served by understanding that
our survival depends upon collaboration
and community building. We can choose to
plant trees or practice a myriad of
other ways to do so...to care about the
generations to come....
I'm spending more time consciously
breathing these days... and not "waiting
to exhale ". (It’s on the exhalation
that our para-sympathetic nervous system
calms us down.)
These days our external world is
particularly disruptive... which affects
our personal lives as well.
Now, more than ever, mindfulness is a
Mindfulness means setting an intention
for the quality of relationships you
and who you want to be in the world.
Then to stay focused on that
intention... no matter what.
Here’s how to practice mindfulness for
high-quality relationships. When people
"act out" and trigger us, we can
understand they are most likely hurt or
scared. By simply remembering this we
can get underneath a poor delivery and
try to hear the other person’s true
message. This prevents a vengeful
“tit-for-tat” and the rupturing of an
important relationship. Feelings get
heard and acknowledged thus deepening
Soooo, when you find yourself getting
upset and “contracting”, take a mental
step back, go to your breath, remember
who you are… and what you want.
As hard as it is, when people are
reactive they need our caring, not our
Let there be peace; let it begin with
~Dr. Duffy Spencer
By Albert Camus
Whatever the external environment, we
can go within for our true sustenance.
Each of us has rich inner resources. We
are connected to all there is, the
cosmos, the human world, the animal
world… and to ourselves.
This winter season, take time for you,
(without guilt!), close your eyes and be
with your own internal world.
B r e a t h e s l o w l y and f e e l
the s u p p o r t of M o t h e r E a r t
Scan your body and notice any physical
sensations. See if you can get out of
your head and into your body. It is the
source of all of your wisdom.
My wish for you is to bring your own
meaning, spirit, and joy to the New
With a heart full of love,
The Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose - December
Life’s not about waiting for the storm
It’s about learning to dance in the
So many people
responded to my last Occasional Dr.
Duffy Dose about being the “I”
in the storm, that I am devoting a
series to this theme.
stormy. In these turbulent uncertain
times we are challenged to tap into our
own calm center.
The good news is
that we already have one. It is our
inherent birthright, yet elusive to
How to find it? It
is often obscured by distress… like
clouds obscure the sun… which is always
there. These clouds represent our
wounded parts… which are burdened with
false beliefs. These wounded “parts” get
agitated and lobby for our attention.
Stress and anxiety
come from buying into our false beliefs
while denying our wounds. The remedy is
to question those toxic beliefs and
address our wounds from the vantage
point of our calm center.
We need to give
them that attention without judgement.
Ironically, when we do this, they calm
down. You will access your true center
as these parts temporarily step away and
give you space.
In love and peace,
This way of
understanding the psyche is from
Internal Family Systems theory by
As a trained IFS
therapist, this is the framework I use
in helping people find their inner
People are naturally loving, but our
loving nature can sometimes be obscured
by distress. So the love that exists is
not so easy to find. When people get
hurt, they build defenses to protect
themselves. These defenses are hidden
behind well-polished shields. The truth
is that most people are struggling
underneath. Really knowing this can help
us be kind to people who don’t seem to
need it. We can practice “Zenergy”
through conscious loving kindness.
The trouble with
loving is that pets don’t last long
enough and that people can last too
I'm offering you a sardonic love quote
this time for Valentine’s Day… the
quintessential “Hallmark Holiday”.
Valentine’s Day is about romantic love
but in its most hyped up, commercial and
assumptive sense. People are assumed to
be coupled… and blissfully so.
As we know, many adults are single…
sometimes by choice and sometimes not.
And those who are coupled are not
necessarily happy with their partners.
I propose a Valentine’s Day that
celebrates love in a non-romantic and
more inclusive sense.
Essentially love is connection. It’s
that poignant stretching of your heart
when you experience warm feelings for
not only lovers, but family members,
friends and even others. Love blossoms
when two people experience a shared
positive emotion. To quote Stefan Porges,
“Love is positivity resonance in moments
of interpersonal connection.”
This version of love is far more
accessible… and can be had by all who
are willing to feel it. For Valentine’s
Day, consider noticing those micro
moments of love where you feel your own
positivity, warmth and openness… and see
if it’s not mirrored by the other. It
may very well be.
Life’s not about
waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s about learning to dance in the
So many people responded to my last
Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose about being
the “I” in the storm, that I am devoting
a series to this theme.
Life is stormy. In these turbulent
uncertain times we are challenged to tap
into our own calm center.
The good news is that we already have
one. It is our inherent birthright, yet
elusive to many.
How to find it? It is often obscured by
distress… like clouds obscure the sun…
which is always there. These clouds
represent our wounded parts… which are
burdened with false beliefs. These
wounded “parts” get agitated and lobby
for our attention.
Stress and anxiety come from buying into
our false beliefs while denying our
wounds. The remedy is to question those
toxic beliefs and address our wounds
from the vantage point of our calm
We need to give them that attention
without judgment. Ironically, when we do
this, they calm down. You will access
your true center as these parts
temporarily step away and give you
In love and peace,
This way of understanding the psyche is
from Internal Family Systems theory by
As a trained IFS therapist, this is the
framework I use in helping people find
their inner strength.
ODDD November 2015
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble or
hard work. It means to be in the
midst of those things and still be
calm in your heart.
The world is tough. It can bring
much noise and trouble. Anything
external is like a house of cards…
easily collapsible. We can either
be swept away like a tumbleweed or
we can be our own “I” in the storm.
We all have an inherent “I”…. our
spiritual center, our divine spark.
This place is sacred and inviolate.
No one can tear it asunder.
We are all born with a sacred Higher
Self. Though many people live and
die without ever accessing it, it is
yours for the taking.
When the world is overwhelming, and
you feel at the end of your rope,
take a moment to stop, breathe, and
look for your own reservoir of
strength. I promise you it is there.
You have rich inner resources. Dip
into the calm waters of your own
inner being and luxuriate in the joy
of presence, be one with nature, be
one with humankind, be one with all
there is… and be one with your Self.
When you breathe away all the clouds
of despair, grief, and fear, your
Self will be there like the Sun…
which is hidden behind the clouds.
These dark emotions are not to be
ignored or hated: they are to be
embraced. Your breathing them away
is only temporary… so you may
remember that your Sun is
always there. This will give you the
inspiration to move forward with
clarity and courage.
If you are interested in learning
more about your “I” in the storm,
let me know and I will continue
writing on it. My approach as a
therapist is based on this principle
which is derived from Internal
Family Systems Therapy, founded
by Richard Schwartz, PHD.
I wish you well.
On what basis do you judge yourself? …
Is it realistic?
Human beings make judgments. We can’t
avoid it. We can, however, be aware of
the basis of our judgments.
When we were children, we received
information about ourselves from others.
Whether verbal, non-verbal, direct or
indirect, it was based on their
Think of distorted mirrors in amusement
parks in which we appear taller,
shorter, fatter or thinner. As children
we believed the feedback, we received,
distorted or not. "Big people" always
seemed to know better.
The good news is that as adults we can
have a clearer view of ourselves. The
bad news is that people generally don’t
re-evaluate their original self-concept.
A simple example is the child who wore
braces and... even as an adult... feels
abashed flashing a full smile.
Notice how you compare yourself to
others. Do you think you're supposed to
know it all? Do you put yourself down
when you don't? Are you that fish that
believes it's stupid because it can't
climb a tree? Or are you that fish that
enjoys swimming in its element?
In Alcoholics Anonymous, there’s an
expression “don’t quit five minutes
before the miracle”. It’s not always
easy to know the difference between
giving up and letting go. But we can
check out our assumptions and question
what we truly can and cannot do.
I, for one, could live eight lifetimes
and never be a mathematical genius, but
I can excel in other areas. Our major
challenge is to accept our real
limitations and expose our fake ones.
You can venture into such exploration.
It makes life much more interesting… and
All my best wishes to you,
We have only this moment, sparkling
like a star in our hand…and melting like
a snow flake.
Marie Beynon Ray
A poignant description of the fleeting
moments of our lives… life is so
beautiful and precious. Especially if we
can stay in the sublime moment.
As human beings we have the capacity to
think of the past and the future.
Thinking of the past often brings
despair and regret; the future anxiety
and fear. While it can be useful to
process the past to come to terms with
it… and to plan for the future, it can
distract us from the glorious present.
During this sweet summer… and forever,
challenge yourself to be mindful and
stay in the moment. Begin doing what you
really want to do. The time is NOW!
~ July 2015
“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to
choose our attitude.”
Viktor E. Frankl
This is the season we celebrate rebirth
and freedom from oppression. It provides
the opportunity to think about what they
What is personal freedom? It’s about
choosing what we want and manifesting it
cooperatively with others. It also
involves responding to the world with
meaningful action. Unfortunately many
people become overtaken by external
circumstances. We ultimately have the
power to stay self-directed despite no
matter what happens on the outside. By
tapping into our inner wisdom, we can
discern the best approach.
This is easier than it sounds. We can
take a quiet moment to “step back” and
gain a larger perspective. By
deliberating momentarily we can ask
smart questions like, “What is the real
impact of this?” and “Why does this
And what about freedom from oppression?
By looking inside, we can determine if
we are oppressing ourselves in any way.
Low self-esteem is rampant in our
culture and essentially involves putting
ourselves down aka oppressing ourselves.
This is a choice we don’t have to take.
We can instead ask the basic questions,
“Why am I putting myself down?” and “Is
this serving me some purpose?” We have
the capacity to create our inner world
by asking ourselves reflective
questions. Notice what inner world you
are creating for yourself this beautiful
holiday season. What we see inside
reflects what we see outside.
This is the personal rebirth it is
possible to achieve.
If I can stop one heart from breaking, I
shall not live in vain.
We are on this planet to help each other
… and yet our own lives can be very
challenging. Sometimes we become so
preoccupied with keeping our own heads
above water, we forget to see other’s
Take a moment; take a breath and look
around you. By helping someone else,
even in the smallest way, you can help
yourself feel empowered.
Most people recognize how much others
impact them. Few recognize how much we
Simply notice when you positively impact
someone else. You would be amazed by how
much your caring presence and empathy
can soothe another’s heart.
"The first problem for all of
us, men and women, is not to learn, but
The biggest challenge in life is not to
learn, but to unlearn.
- Gloria Steinem
Is this surprising? Does it make sense
It's very easy to learn things as a
In fact, children are like little
with the button permanently turned on.
We take in information without even
realizing it in our formative years.
And then, later on in life, we think all
this "information" is true.
AND it can be intricately woven into our
Many people live and die without ever
questioning what they learned in
Rather than accepting all that you
believe about yourself (and the world)
as a given, how about starting
your "unlearning" by simply asking
"is this really true?"
What is true and what isn't about what I
I trust you will find this process
fascinating, enlightening and
Dr. Duffy Spencer
Spring is nature's way of
saying, let's party. - Robin Williams
Springtime is a bout nature waking up
and re-birthing itself.
It's a perfect time to detoxify, let go
and have some fun.
Emotional detoxification is about
uncovering and expressing
hidden feelings like grief, fear, anger
and replacing them with
forgiveness, love, joy and hope.
Physical detoxification is about getting
rid of the toxins that we ingest...
like junk food and beverages. This
enables us to be healthier and more
Physical detoxification is also about
uncluttering our surroundings.
Letting go of unused papers, clothes and
creates space and welcomes new energy.
Detoxifying ourselves frees us
emotionally and physically.
Nadine Stair wrote, "If I had my life to
I would start barefoot earlier in the
Spring and stay that way later in the
If not barefoot, make some contact with
spend time just being in the Great Out
Doors (my favorite acronym for God).
Wake yourself up to your natural
energy, feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Let the good times roll. It's time to
Warmest regards... and Happy St.
Dr. Duffy Spencer
The Gift of a New Year
Winter invites us to pause and reflect
at a time
when all of nature withdraws into itself
and waits a new beginning of spring.
This quiet season presents us with the
for spiritual deepening.
When life is at its darkest – and
especially then –
light comes to rekindle the receptive
heat and spirit.
May this winter be yours to reflect,
Rest and rejuvenate for the whole year
Wishing you a Lively and Joyous New
Dr. Duffy Spencer
What is essential is invisible
to the eye.
As the trees grow bare
and the earth goes to sleep
we look to another holiday season
T'is the time to look within
To take stock and decide
what has meaning for you
to remember that what is essential
is invisible to the eye
and that the best presents are the
of those who mean the most to you.
Wishing you your own most fulfilling
"I have come to believe... that
what is most important to me must be
expressed, even at the risk of having it
bruised or misunderstood."
Yes, it can be risky to speak our mind.
We can be misinterpreted. People filter
what they hear from behind their own
eyes... and they will do that when you
Yet what's the alternative?
Who you are is very important... and
when you are willing to share who you
are (and how you see things) you enrich
One major caveat: we need to take the
time and effort to be clear. The more
precise you are with your message, the
less room there is for others to
Unless you're willing to truly tell the
world who you are, the world will tell
YOU who you are!
The best time to
plant a tree was 20 yrs ago. The
second best time is now.
Oh, the degree to which we can
lament our missed
opportunities.... and all of
those great decisions that we
could have made if we had had
Yes, it’s absolutely true that
if we would have planted that
tree 20 years ago, we would have
had a full grown tree with all
of its glorious fruits. But we
didn't...for all of the various
reasons we had at the time… or
just a lack of awareness of
So, today we have a choice. We
can continue to “should” on
ourselves OR we can start anew…
rev up our energy in the
magnificent NOW and live our
lives as fully as we can from
this day forward.
What “tree” are you willing to
plant today? What are you
willing to start or do
Difficulties are soul
shaping...they can be lessons that lead
us to know who we are.
Jean Shinoda Bolen
As we mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11
and mourn the thousands of our fellow
Americans who so wrongfully died, we
know what difficulty is.
We also know what difficulty is in a
more general way. Our own birth brings a
certainty of pain and loss. That is
What is not inevitable is our response
May we accept that we can't escape
difficulty in life, but we can look at
it straight in the eye and say, "ah, I
embrace you as I embrace joy... and I
remain open to you as my compassionate
Life is always worth living.