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by Lisa Anderson Shaffer, LMFT
February 21st 2021

Hi Friends, I'm Lisa Anderson Shaffer - coach, consultant, psychotherapist, and resident psych enthusiast. And I LOVE psychology! It's the study of human behavior after all and isn't... More

Hi friends and welcome to Joy is Now the podcast where we take a psychologically minded look at life. I'm your host, Lisa Anderson Shaffer, coach, consultant, and resident psych enthusiast. Joy is Now is sponsored by listeners like you visit Lisa Anderson Shaffer dot com to join the community and become a one time or recurring patron of the podcast. Oh, hey, before we begin, I'm busy working away on the next season of Joy. Want to be a guest, have questions about psychology, therapy, modalities, a topic or emotion you'd like to hear me discuss? Email me at Lisa Anderson Shaffer at gmail dot com and be in on the Joy. Why we all have B. O. psychology and the stench. I happen to know a thing or two about body odor. Just ask any of my former roommates, boyfriends or travel buddies. I'm human and human beings get B. O. We also all fart too, for any of you flatulence deniers out there.

I know there's a few. If you don't think you've ever had B. O., ask your partner, roommate, or a good friend you've been camping with. If they all say no, get some new people. When I was in my late teens and early 20's, I befriended a feel good group of creative people who made me laugh a lot and what we loved most was to laugh and have fun together. Sometimes this looked like watching a twilight zone marathon. Getting a grilled cheese at WaWa at 2 a.m.,playing pinball for three hours straight or just sitting around an apartment listening to records we stole from the college radio station and just being close to each other. Mostly though we loved to go see live music. Phish was the band of choice and for most of my college years I was driving around state to state with this group of friends going to shows. It was fun, really fun. And the best part was that this group of friends was big. We could all rotate in and out of these adventures, freely tacking onto one trip with one group, then another. Looking back now, I can see what a special thing that was to have a large group of friends who are always ready for an adventure and always welcoming another adventurer along for the ride. Leaving for a few days at a time as a group meant there needed to be a car, a little bit of cash, some food and a general plan of where to go and where to stay. Tickets to the show were never necessary. In those days you could actually buy them there or even ask someone for an extra for free.

Crazy right, But that's how the system worked and it was a pretty good system. Oh, also there was usually a lot of cannabis. Other things too, but mostly always cannabis. Days and nights were spent sleeping on friends couches, floors, five or more of us crammed into a motel bed sharing everything and just being happy to be together. Trips to shows would often revolve around an upcoming college school break. This meant that as the trip progressed, the group would slowly be dropped off at homes, train stations, left with other friends going to similar places and sooner or later you would end up at your parents house usually very early in the morning or very late at night. Always hungry, always with a bag full of dirty laundry and always needing a shower. On one trip in particular, a small group of us drove through the night in shifts to arrive in New Jersey early in the morning. My boyfriend's mom greeted us with enormous smiles and went on to make enough pancakes to feed a small army. I ate, took a short nap, hugged the remaining group goodbye, dropped off my bestie near the city and drove home to Long Island to see my parents for the long weekend.

I came in the house the usual way with an enormous empty coffee cup, a destroyed bag of snacks from 7-11 and also a really big laundry bag. I can remember my parents greeting me and saying, holy shit did you bring the pot farm with you? Um No, no, I did not. I would have, but to be honest we didn't have any left. I had no idea what they were talking about. How could I smell. I mean none of us had showered in a few days, we all ate burritos nonstop and smoked a ton of dope. What's smelly about that? What were they talking about? My mom asked me if my boyfriend's parents passed out when we fumigated their home with our collective B.O.. Jeez. No, I don't think so. Um no, they said. Well, you totally did. You reek of a good time. I'm sure there's something alive in your laundry bag.
In retrospect. I'm sure there was. To what my parents so clearly experienced upon my return was what had stuck from my adventure. This wasn't the memories or the things I had chosen to take with me, the things I chose to remember and weave into the fabric of my history. But what was put upon me simply by being there, being a part of the adventure group. Seeing live music, eating late night fried food and being a little lax about the whole concept of hygiene.

Looking back now, I'm not sure how any of our families didn't tear up like they were cutting a raw onion when any of us came through the door. I mean, Jesus, we all stunk. But because we were part of a collective experience, we were none the wiser. We didn't know we had B. O. Because we all had the same B.O.. The stench, for the lack of a better word, of our shared adventure smelled the same. It took someone from the outside to say, holy shit y'all stink. If you listen to episode 27 of this podcast with my guest J'Amy Tarr, then you'll remember the two of us laughing about the idea of parental B. O. To catch you up, it's the idea that we all pick up some of the habits and psychological stench of our families and those we keep close. It's the little things, really from what makes us anxious to levels of privacy. Whether or not we talk about money, things like that. It takes some reflecting, that response from the outside for us to have that, Oh my God, I have be a moment to realize we don't really feel that way. We actually want to respond differently. In other words, I do not want to weave this behavior into the fabric of my character.

It's not who I am, it's just something that I picked up on the way. It's time to wash it off. Sometimes the washing off is easy. Like J'Amy and I discussed, realizing that she didn't really care about getting to the airport two hours early or like for me it's okay to go to Home Depot when it's crowded. Anytime is a good time to go to Home depot for both of us. It took our partners being like, hey, that's weird to give the perspective and breathing room necessary for us to be like, yeah, that is weird to me. It worked for my family but not for me. J'Amy now goes to the airport with enough time to check in and pee and I go to Home Depot whenever the hell I want. And this isn't to say that B.O. we pick up along the way is bad. B.O. is normal after all and some of the times what rubs off from one person to another is really good stuff, stuff that we want to keep. Things that we want to weave into our character. So we keep that stuff. But isn't it good to know we can work to wash away the B. O. we don't want? So how do we do that? Well, the same way we make any change really. Do the work..

First, be open. Don't be the person who outright denies having B.O. Oh that's bullshit. We all stink. Sometimes if you are lucky enough to have a past know that you've got psychological B. O. Every once in a while if a partner, friend, someone in your larger circle says, hey you can actually take a deep breath over this. Listen, maybe they are wrong, but maybe they're right. Was your response really you? The deep inter you? How you want to respond? Or was it what was placed upon you along the way? Second, get to know yourself and I'm sure you can guess what I think the best way to do this is. Yeah, go to therapy. Make it a thing that you do. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Integration of experiences is important. Understanding your B.O. isn't about denying what you feel has been placed upon you versus how you actually respond to and feel about something. It all starts with acknowledgement. There's no denial here. Start to discover what your actual original scent is and what you picked up from a shared experience. What you want to keep and what you want to do the work to wash off. And please Let's have all learned a lesson from the 90s,

don't cover that shit up with lots of Patchouli. I did it too, it's okay but let's be better, get to know what is you. Third, do something you love consistently. Find flow. For tips on this, listen to episode 26 with guest Maria Germans Gard. We talk a lot about tuning into experiences, we love. It doesn't have to be big. The practice of interest can be a small thing like trying a new recipe every saturday or learning how to brew coffee a million different ways. Maybe it's just listening to a song you've never heard before, every single day. Find a way to tap into that inner magical part of yourself that feels something big and good when you experience a thing. The long con of this is getting to know you, distinguishing between yourself and the way you respond versus the responses you've learned as they were placed upon you. And lastly honor your intention. Psychological B. O. Is not a failure. It's normal. Feeling things is healthy, for real. Most people mean well Those that point out the B.O. and those that place it upon us.

Remember. It's not personal. It's psychology and psychology is like gravity. None of us are immune, wow. Right? For more on that, give a listen to episode 2 about why astronauts wear socks. Because the thing is we all have B.O and our work becomes the act of washing. This has been Joy is Now with me Lisa Anderson Shaffer, LMFT. You can find me for hire at Lisa Anderson Shaffer dot com along with patronage support for this podcast and the These Three Things project. You can also follow along with my musings at Lisa Anderson Shaffer on Instagram. See you next time.

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