“We are Spiritually Unemployed” | Couple's Net | Chandrama Anderson | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

Couple's Net

By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson

About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

View all posts from Chandrama Anderson

“We are Spiritually Unemployed”

Uploaded: Jun 2, 2016
I’m talking about the definition from the Oxford Dictionary: “of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” Another definition of spirit is related to religion, and I’m not talking about that in this article.

This quote hit me like a ton of bricks, and got me to thinking about what’s going on with couples in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.

One of the most important things—if not THE most important thing, that relates to our human spirit or soul is love.

Spirit and soul are about being—not doing. And being is not the culture here.

What I see is a lot of is focus on work, material, and physical things, and over-involvement with kids to the detriment of your marriage or relationship. I’m not opposed to any of these other things. I just see that the balance has been lost for many people.

Living without community—and many people tell me it is hard to make friends here—puts extra pressure on everyone. I see couples doing so much in their nuclear family, and there is always more to do.

The results of spiritual unemployment range from anxiety, depression, sleep problems, sexual acting out (including paid “escorts”), alcohol and/or drug issues, workaholism, criticism, rage, and disengagement. In turn, your work suffers when your relationship suffers.

I know when you fell in love and married, you didn’t expect it to turn out with each of you falling to such low priority in the others’ eyes. You had hopes and dreams. And perhaps your actions are being done with the big picture in mind—providing, living up to Silicon Valley standards, having a good retirement in which money isn’t a concern. Is that enough?

There are so many brilliant people here, doing and creating amazing and worthwhile offerings to better our world.

Yet losing sight of each other and your love takes a huge toll on you, in every way. Stress causes the hormone Cortisol to run rampant in your body. Cortisol impacts:
1. Your ability to fall or stay asleep
2. Your sex life
3. Your weight
4. Causes headaches and backaches
5. Leaves you feeling tired after getting plenty of sleep
6. Compromises your immune system so you catch colds and flu more easily
7. Causes cravings for unhealthy food
8. Causes your gut to act up
9. And so on

Loving, sex, and cuddling cause the “love” hormone oxytocin to be released. It brings about a sense of comfort, bonding, security, and reduces stress and anxiety. According to a WebMD article from November 2010, “The love hormone oxytocin, known to be plentiful in lactating women and released by men and women during orgasm, appears to do much more, according to new research presented here at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. It's also associated with boosting trust and empathy -- to the point of increasing the wish to donate to charitable causes -- and reducing anxiety and stress.”

What nourishes your spirit or soul? For some people it is art, music, writing, photography and other forms of creativity. For others it is nature. For others it is people we love and care about. Travel, curiosity about the world and other cultures. The choices are endless.

When your spirit is fed and cared for (by yourself and others around you), you are able to give more freely from a place of spirit and a good heart. That may translate into volunteer work, mentoring, philanthropy, being of service (even in small ways), etc.

What do you think your special or unique gifts are that only you can bring to the world? Whatever those gifts are, they are needed. These gifts guide you to live authentically; hence your inside and your outside match.

What are three things you can do to rejuvenate your spirit? What are three things the two of you can do to rejuvenate your relationship, bringing love, spirit, and soul together?


*The title quote comes from Francis Weller in The Wild Edge of Sorrow

Comments

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Jill Borders, a resident of another community,
on Jun 3, 2016 at 8:23 am

Thank you for your article Ms. Anderson. I am seeing so many of my couple friends splitting up, living in unhappy marriages, and even staying together in the same house but with the understanding of being "just friends". My friends and I talk a lot about what you have described. Living in Silicon Valley has become like living in a cult. Everyone talks about how busy they are, how they have no time, how they have no money (all spent on housing for most of us), and how they all feel unhappy and like everyone has "lost their soul". After telling two of my closest friends that our family is planning on leaving the Bay Area within the year, they both said, "good for you...why would anyone stay?" We are all talking about leaving and yet we don't know why exactly. I think you have hit the nail on the head. We are looking and longing to get our soul back and instinctively we know we can't find it here in the Bay Area. Seniors are stressed, children are stressed, families are stressed, marriages are stressed, teachers and service workers are stressed, tech workers are stressed....hey wait...everyone is stressed. It's plain and simple - the quality of life here for most is awful. I will do what you are suggesting. Three things that will rejuvenate my spirit 1) move out of the Bay Area 2) fight for the landless 3) start over in a community that values people more than money.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Jill,
Thanks for your comments. I hope this will open dialogue, and help people reach out to one another and create community. Would it be fun to cook a big meal for a few families at one home once a week, and rotate between homes? Hang out, visit and share food. As I said, the choices are vast. We have to get past the "I'm fine" and let others know we want community or we're struggling. Then we can begin to heal with support.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 12:23 am

It’s a great platform regarding to one of our main problems such as buying or selling a house.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Someone Aware, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm

I am pretty sure Silicon Valley and much of California is the divorce capital of the world. With over 20% of the country's lawyers, and an abundant amount of drugs and counter-culture, and of course a culture where luxury is considered bad, but everyone must artificially and brutally strive towards it regardless of how California-Social views it. In addition, children whose parents divorce are likely to go through a divorce themselves- so there is a continuous growth rate. Then California is surprisingly one of the most Racist places. What would California media say if Mark Zuckerberg married an African American from Mississippi named Jamelah Rose (made up name)?- he would probably lose his credibility and funding.

Back to divorce rates, there is a spiritual problem. Because of the sort of "counter-culture" portrayal of society and the strive for and against luxury at play, many marriages involve different religions, and different ethnicities on the basis of financial growth (solely the basis). There are several millions of men and women marrying from newcomers from India, Asia and the Middle East on the basis of wealth, a new startup idea, and maybe a way to set a "new standard" for a Californian love life. This of course quickly transforms into a divorce because there is another culture (of the spouse) established, that refuses the existing California counter-culture.

And yes, people still get men and women shipped across the country, and from other countries, only to find out that these are attempts are to have their child become a citizen, or to get a job in the United States.

Yes, the same applies to homosexual marriages as well. Many partners are finding out that despite their right to marriage, society has yet to be in approval of their love. On the surface things may seem okay, but under the "counter-culture" skin, there is an American culture that is in need of dire repair.

Then on top of that debt is rising, lawsuits are everywhere, and only the lawyers act as shepherds to citizens taking their life onto the Bay.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by dennis, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Growing up as a baby boomer in Palo Alto I always dreamed of the so called "golden years," of living life after retirement. It turned out that it is not that way at all. In my own apartment complex I can very easily go through the day and hear only Russian, Spanish, and Mandarin. I feel lost in a melting pot that doesn't exist. This is not the area I grew up in or even close to what I hoped it would be. I hardly flinch anymore when I hear of another death on the tracks.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Dennis,
Sounds like you have an opportunity to learn more about other cultures right at home. You could learn a new language and have people to practice with. Find what might make you happy and go out and experiment. We're all a day closer to the end of our days.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by read randall robinson's ''quitting america''., a resident of South of Midtown,
on Jun 8, 2016 at 2:25 pm

xxxxxxxxxx


 +  Like this comment
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 9, 2016 at 5:12 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

We are spiritually unemployed.
Not so.

I think we need to think glass half full. It is not easy sometimes.

I am an immigrant from India; adopted many good things from USA, California, bay area and Palo Alto.

I get up every morning thanking for being here in Palo Alto.

Some one said about all the different people here.Look they are here from the world because it is the top ten places to live. Granted they, me and you look different in skin color, eyes, accent; but humans aspire for similar things.

I take a dance/exercise class at Equinox where about 45 people that come from all regions of the world. They assemble to get exercise, to get their spirit up. We all dance to fast music; mostly English. We finish in one hour and go take on the day or evening with high spirits.

Divorce. It happens. It happened to me; I had to take care of two children. It did not stop my life; I moved to the Beach (Manhattan) and made up for the challenges and it was fantastic and made up for sadness.

I was force retired at 57; I moved here to look for a job; got a job in Palo Alto. Keep trying. Be patient; things will happen.

My word of wisdom; is to cherish what we have. Look at glass half full. Go to Starbucks or Pete's and see how society is living.

If children are grown; be a god parent; if children are home; get them a pet to come home to.

If you are single; cherish the freedom; go make friends. If Palo Alto downtown crowd is bothering; go to Los Altos downtown to walk around.

I still believe that life is good. We all are unemployed some time in our lives.

Employment means you are working for somebody for money. Sometimes it is ok to be unemployed mentally, marriage wise or mind wide.

Yet, it is worth getting up with positive attitude.

Respectfully


 +  Like this comment
Posted by James, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park,
on Jul 26, 2016 at 6:34 am

Thank you for this article Chandrama!
"Spirit and soul are about being—not doing. And being is not the culture here.
"- you make a good point here.
Balance is always the key.

James


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Vina Enoteca to serve first 'Impossible burger' in Silicon Valley
By Elena Kadvany | 19 comments | 4,621 views

Coupon for Yourself and Your Partner
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 887 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 31st Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 13, 2017. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details