Category Archives: Behavior

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 2 – Imagination, Skills and Courage

By Barnes Boffey, Ed.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

Following the imagination process through means getting very specific about our thoughts and actions. In the case of our relative, let’s say we have decided to work toward being strong, compassionate and detached (obvious derivatives of powerful, loving and free). We now need to create the thoughts and actions that might accompany those feelings. The list that follows is one version of what our new blueprint might involve.

Thoughts for strong:

“Getting angry is not going to solve anything,” ” I need to put my energy into action rather than reaction,” “ Not confronting my sister about her beliefs does not mean I agree with them,” and “ Closedmindedness and anger are the very things I say I am intolerant of.. time to prove it.”

Thoughts for compassionate:

“My sister made choices on her best information.” “I am scared, Ill bet she has been too.” “We both want the best for our country.” “I can lead the way to common ground rather than perpetuating the conflict.” “Shes doing the best she can with the information she has at the time, as am I.”

Thoughts for detached:

“Everything doesnt have to be decided and resolved today,” “Her beliefs do not mean I cant express and act on my own,”  “I obviously need to take action to show myself that I am serious about what I say I believe,” and “Our relationship is more important than our politics… she is my sister.”

With these thoughts  in mind, we can now imagine actions that would accompany them. (again, these are not “right” answers, just one version)

Actions for strong:

Make a commitment to be more politically involved. Move conversations to topics which nourish our family not pull us apart. Actually listen to my sister for amounts of time I can handle and show my strength by actually listening. Accept that reality has changed and plot a course that I did not need to in earlier times. Have the strength to change rather than holding onto my old patterns.

Actions for compassionate:

Tell my sister I am happy she won and that I am sure we both want the best future we can have. Forgive myself for not always being the person I say I want to be. Keep a journal to stay focused and write down as a first entry, “I was born not to pass judgement on my family but to love them.”

Thoughts for detached:

Instigate other community building activities in the family rather than just political discussions. Don’t respond in kind to what I perceive as outrageous statements. Pray that both my sister and I find the peaccouplee and courage to heal the wounds that divide this country.

With this information in hand, I have now achieved some early success in the imagination stage.

The second step is Skills. Here is where we explore the reality that although we may know what we should think and do, we may not currently have the ability to do it. We have to self-evaluate to see if we actually know how to gracefully exit a conversation, or not bite at a stupid remark, or reframe the family’s activity, or pray, or even keep a journal. There may be skills we have to learn and practice to be able to bring our imagined blueprint into being.

And the final step is Courage. By now we know what we would be thinking and doing, and we have hopefully learned some new skills to do it, but change can be fearful and fear can only be faced with courage. We may have fears about taking the steps we need to take. Some in this case might be:

“If I back down from fights will others think I agree with them?” “What if I really can’t be more tolerant of others?” “What if I try and fail?” “What if I replace anger with compassion and I lose the fire in my belly to actually take action?”

There fears are legitimate, understandable and normal. We need to remember, however, that whatever emotions we act on become stronger. If we act on our fears by not taking necessary steps to change, the fear will get stronger not weaker. So now it comes to “the moment of truth.” Do I have the courage to face my fears and change myself rather than insisting the world change so I wont have to. I often ask clients, “Do you really not know what you need to do, or do you know what to do but you are afraid to do it?” One is lack of clarity; the second lack of courage.

***

We have all put a great deal of energy into creating what we want and hoping that will continue. When it does not we can bemoan our fates and rage at the world, or we can go about the business of making the changes we need to make to be loving, powerful, playful and free in a world we may not like or want to accept. Our inability to accept reality does not mean that reality doesn’t exist. It simply means we are unwilling to go through the difficult process of imagining our new selves, learning the skills to put those selves into being, and having the courage  to face the fears that come with any major change in our lives.

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 1 – Going Back to Basic Principles

by Barnes Boffey, EdD.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org


For many people, the recent election has provided a test of their capacity to stay centered and happy, especially given what they may see is a dire future ahead. There are, conversely, many who are ecstatically happy as they bathe in the belief that our next president will help them get what they want. In either case, this election has created more stress and contentiousness than any I can remember in my 49 years of voting.

It also means that many people who have been used to feeling powerful and in the “right,” may be feeling disconnected with their communities, their work colleagues and their fellow citizens. Many are feeling like “strangers in a strange land,” unable to connect with those around them and experiencing a true sense of being aliens in their communities. Primary responses to this have been angering, depressing, pessimism, and projecting deep emotions on events that have not happened yet. That coupled with the thought, “How could these idiots be thinking what they did?” leads to feeling very out of balance and in many cases, severely lonely.

The challenge seems obvious, “How can I maintain my center and a positive sense of being when I feel severely out of balance in the world around me?” Not surprisingly, this means we have to be ever more intentional about our actions in maintaining our mental health and happiness. It also gives us a chance to understand how Internal Control Psychology can be the foundation of this process. In the beginning, taking control of our emotional well-being means we have to remember a few foundational principles, as well as asking some very important questions of ourselves and others.

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The primary foundational principle we might be well to remember is that overall our metal health is determined by our ability to be loving, powerful, playful and free in whatever situation we find ourselves. If we cannot do that, we will be out of balance and likely blame the external situation for our unhappiness. It is easy to be loving in a situation where we feel supported and valued; it is much harder in a situation where we feel judged, alone and out of step with those around us. The same is true about being powerful, playful and free. If the world presents conditions in which we can easily be these things, it is easier to choose to create these emotions from the inside out. If we perceive our world as full of stupid people, or as a place where we can’t laugh because of how bad things are, or a place where we feel trapped as we see options shrinking in the future, we have to work much harder at following these psycho/spiritual instructions.

To be loving, powerful, playful and free regardless of the world around us, we have to bring to bear imagination, skills and courage.  In order to live in any environment, disparate or not, we must have accurate blueprints (pictures) of what it would look like if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free. We must move from the principle/values level to a more specific description of the actions, thoughts and emotions that we would be using if we were effectively following our instructions in that specific situation. Generalities are not helpful.

For example, if we have a relative whose political beliefs differ dramatically from our own, our initial choice of behavior may be anger, incredulity, judgment and disgust. We may feel these are totally appropriate given the situation, but if our goal is mental health and happiness, being “right” or focusing only on getting that relative to change their mind will be ineffective. Our first step in gaining balance must be creating a new blueprint which illustrates and defines for us what we would be doing, thinking, and feeling if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free at the same time that our relative continues to be who they are, not who we want them to be. This is the imagination piece.


How do we imagine a new vision of ourselves being in balance when we believe the world outside us is “wrong,” or crazy or unacceptable? This is very hard because we often don’t want to let go of our current way of processing things, and we probably won’t until the pain and ineffectiveness become bad enough to consider letting go, or until we realize that in maintaining our anger, judgment, and rigid behavior, we are becoming the very kind of person we have railed against.

The first step, imagination, means developing a vision of a balanced and happy self. We need a blueprint before we can create a behavior.  Being happy does not occur in difficult situations without a new level of intentionality in creating these blueprints. It means asking the question, “If I were balanced and happy, how would I be feeling in this situation?” The answer to that question will determine where we head next.

Let’s say for example, that our answer is “I’d be feeling strong, compassionate and detached (rather than infuriated, manipulated, out of control and judgmental). From there we have to create the thinking and actions that would accompany those feelings, and then act on those thoughts and actions whether we feel like it or not. One of the hardest parts in this stage is that we may be very attached to our ineffective behaviors; it feels unfair to us that we have to change when others are wrong. We may want to hold onto our “rightness,” and see how long we can get away with ignoring our basic instructions.

One thought that makes happiness almost unattainable goes something like this: “I need others to act in the ways I want them to act in order for me to feel the way I want to feel.” This way lies unhappiness. The road to true inner balance can only be attained in thinking, “I have the ability to create the emotions I desire in my life in spite of the actions of others. I don’t need to have others change for me to be happy.”

Next time: Part Two: Imagination, Skills and Courage

The Important Things In Life

By Michael Rice LISAC, CTRTC

In marriage, what tends to bring people together are their similar values.  What tends to keep people together in marriage are their similar interests.  In non-romantic relationships, it seems that similar interests bring people together and similar values maintain the relationship.  Our values are those things that we find that give meaning to us as a person and in society.  They define us as to the type of person we are, or rather, how we want ourselves and others to see us.  We all know that there are many people who say one thing and yet behave in another.  This might be the result of their value not being fully internalized and one that they profess because others have told them they should possess them.

What makes any of our values valid?

I believe that first of all, it must be a value that we have chosen ourselves and not because someone else said we had to have it. Parents often instill many of our values.   Some parents may possess some values that are not acceptable or even effective for the parent.  Many of the values  parents give are indeed valid and helpful.  Therefore, the first rule of a valid value would be:  Something that you have chosen freely and not because someone else said you should possess.


values-memeNext, a valid value is one that you have tested among other values and have found it to be right for you.  If you don’t feel that it is 100% right for you, then don’t profess it to others as your true value just to “fit in.”  How well does the value work for your parent’s life as you perceive it?  Just because Mom or Dad possess a specific value does not mean it is necessarily correct for you.  What is right for one person is not necessarily right for another.

I recall the story told by Mark Twain who said that when he was 18 years of age, he found his father to be so ignorant that he could hardly stand to be around the old man.  When he had turned 21, he said he  was amazed at how much his father had learned in 3 years.

Another criterion for a valid value would be that you have considered the consequences of possessing and acting on a chosen value.  Will this value possibly bring wide spread rejection from others?  Will it cause you to be in conflict with the important people in your life?  Could it possibly result in any hardship for you or even incarceration?  Are you willing and prepared to take criticism for your value?  Are you willing to lose acquaintances because they don’t agree with your value?

Lastly, to be a valid value, it should be one that you profess openly and regularly.  In other words, you walk your talk.

What is important to you?  Have any of your values caused you to lose those who may be important to you?  Many of us have lost friends and acquaintances at one time or another due to our beliefs and this would be due to the conflict of one or more of our values.  However, if it seems to cause conflict with many of those who are important to you, you may want to take another look and scrutinize the validity of your values or find those who have similar values as your own.

Epigenetic and Choice Theory

By Mona Dunkin

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

chicken

 

The chicken and the egg are interdependent. The egg-laying chicken and the developing egg each have a viable part to play in the on-going production of breakfast and casseroles.

Here is another round-robin-riddle. Which came first, the theory or the theorem?

question

The developing-egg theory is, “I have a pretty good grasp as to what the outcome will be of my idea” (i.e. based on previous experience, the creative cook has a fairly good idea of how a newly developed recipe will turn out).  A loose definition of theory is it is a not-as-yet proven.

Encarta Dictionary defines theorem as “a proposition or formula in mathematics or logic that is provable from a set of axioms and basic assumptions.” Theorem is experiments getting closer to text-book-weighed-and-measured fact.

Boiled down, epigenetics is the science of gene/cell development. A 13-year Human Genome Project (HGP) involving scientists from around the world discovered that each individual cell in our body pretty much has a life of its own.

Epigenetic Scientist Bruce Lipton calls it “The Biology of Belief”; meaning that our cells turn-on or turn-off depending on what we believe.

lightswitch

 

“Sure, I would love to have a doughnut.”

 

And the whole body goes into pre-programmed operation. The brain values the delicacy, the mouth salivates to receive the morsel and the genes turns “on” to store fat.

“No, thank you, I’ll pass on the doughnuts.”

And the whole body musters strength to re-write previous programming. The brain values a nutritious salad, genes turn “off” to keep from storing fat – thereby improving your health – and your waist thanks you.

I love it when theory becomes fact.

Dr. William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy, called it Choice Theory. Consciously or carelessly we choose how we behave…

  • which translates into having chosen what we do
  • which greatly influences how we feel
  • which is embraced/disputed by our thinking
  • which genetically becomes who we are – mentally, physically and relationally.

Always has. Always will. And now science is proving it.

 

The Five Basic Needs of Pleasure

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

The five basic and genetic needs for Happiness are Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun.   These needs will almost always require a connection with someone else in order to both achieve and maintain.  As Dr. Wm Glasser asks:  “How happy and enthused would you be if you were playing golf alone and shot a hole-in-one?”  Your excitement would be short-lived at best.  There would be no one to share in the happiness of such an event, much less, confirm that you did, indeed, get a hole-in-one.

happy

Try as you might to get your friends excited about your accomplishment, you would get feedback such as, “yeah, right,” or “well good for you.”  There will be no shouts of joy or excitement because they didn’t see you do it and therefore, they cannot share fully in your emotion.  Your continued happiness would be the result of their excitement for you.  Since they weren’t there to witness the deed, all they can do is pat you on the back and say, “nice going.”

The paradox of happiness is that while no one can make you happy, happiness requires a satisfying relationship with those who are important to you.   The golfer who shot the hole-in- one did so on his own, but it would take someone meaningful to him to achieve happiness from his victory.   Had someone else been with him to witness the achievement, he would have surpassed pleasure and would have realized tremendous happiness.

When a person has exhausted all the skills they possess to acquire and/or maintain meaningful relationships, they begin to rely only on those things that they can achieve or do that does not involve another person.  The satisfaction they receive from these behaviors is what they wrongly perceived as happiness.   Pleasure is much more intense than happiness but it has one major drawback . . . it is short lived.  Pleasure diminishes almost as quickly as it is achieved.  Therefore, the behavior that creates pleasure must often be repeated several times to maintain the pleasure received.  Think of the mouse in the lab study that keeps pushing the lever over and over to get his dose of cocaine’s pleasurable feeling.  Happiness is not as intense as pleasure but it generally tends to last for days, weeks, months, and even years.

Five Basic Needs for Pleasure

Pleasure is usually attained without the need or involvement of anyone else or at the expense of another person.

  1. Sex (indiscriminant, self-serving, masturbation)
  2. Food, Alcohol, Drugs
  3. Isolating – detaching from others.
  4. Thrill Seeking – Adrenalin surges. Element of danger.  (Gambling, dangerous risks, Hunting, Torture, history of criminal behavior, video games, car racing, sky diving, bungee jumping,   BDSM, Catch & Release relationships, sex in public places.
  5. Reckless Spending

You don’t need anyone in your life to experience pleasure.  You DO have to have meaningful relationships in order to experience happiness.

Five Basic needs for Happiness,

  1. Survival
  2. Love & Belonging
  3. Power
  4. Freedom
  5. Fun

Once the 5 Basic Needs for Happiness are maintained, the need for Pleasure diminishes from compulsive behaviors to occasional behaviors, or total cessation, and will result in a happier and healthier way of living.

Support Yourself

By Dr. Nancy Buck (originally posted December 4, 2014)

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Good relationships are built on many things, including accepting, encouraging, supporting and trusting one another. But a good relationship with others alone is not enough. Strong mental health that leads to happiness must include a good relationship with YOU. That means we each must consistently accept, encourage, support and trust ourselves most of all. For many  this practice feels like a stretch.

Research suggests that most people have an easier time giving and supporting others with compassion than we do turning that inward. And studies link self-compassion to lower anxiety and depression. Another benefit is increased optimism, better relationships and greater overall satisfaction in life. This practice will improve your physical as well as mental health.

Here’s how to get started:

• Notice when you give or receive acceptance, encouragement, support or trust to or from another.

• Notice when you start discounting, discrediting, blaming or beating yourself up.

• As soon as you notice any of the above moments that lack self-compassion, immediately change to a kinder or gentler thought or statement.

• Continue to practice noticing how you give and receive these kindnesses to your family, friends and loved ones

• Continue to practice noticing and changing all moments of disrespect and lack of self-compassion

What do you see?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally published November 23, 2013)

The ancient story of the blind men and the elephant is full of wisdom. Let’s apply this wisdom to the ways that we connect with the world around us and the people that share that world with us. We’re realizing that our mental health and happiness depend on loving and being loved in our relationships with others. This fable can give us insights into what can help us connect. It also shows us dramatically one major obstacle to connecting, and that is the assumption that the way I experience the world around me is the same way you experience our world.

elephant

Each blind man had to interpret the information of his senses and construct an image of the elephant from images formed from prior experience. This is understandable. The problem came when each of them assumed that their perception was the only accurate image of the real elephant. What would have happened had they shared their experience, each reporting on the part of the elephant that he could sense, realizing that the others were experiencing something that he could not. By sharing their individual perceptions, they could form a collective composite image of the elephant. This composite image could then be shared and they would all know more about the elephant.

How many conflicts could be prevented if each of us would make the effort to listen to one another to discover how the other “sees” the world that we share. Once we have an understanding of the perceived world of the other, we can make a choice on how to respond.

This seems preferable to reacting to what is assumed to be the point of view of the other.

Take Charge of Your Life

 by Mona Dunkin 

Noted Psychiatrists, Dr. William Glasser, suggests the term “mental health” be replaced with “responsibility”.  Responsibility is the ability to get one’s needs met without depriving others of meeting theirs.  When needs are unmet we feel unfulfilled and fail to live at optimum wellness. We are not taking charge of our lives.

In 1998 I attended a lecture given by Dr. Glasser in which he intimated that certain physical and mental maladies are chosen. I took issue with that; I mean, anyone who would choose pain and misery would have to be crazy!

He went on to explained our basic needs and how we are driven to have them met.  Our health – physical as well as mental and emotional – is dependent on how our body handles our actions, our thoughts and the way we feel about things.

This led me to do some deep thinking. I ask myself some hard questions: Was swallowing my anger inflaming my joints?  Was my anger not only harming relationships but also my physical heart and blood pressure?  How am I hurting myself?  I do not want to hurt others but neither do I want to harm myself.

I began to practice the genius of Dr. Glasser’s wisdom.  When we begin to lovingly notice our disconnecting habits of thought and actions we can then choose to turn our attention to matters that leads to greater health and happiness and improved relationships. Only when we come to a conclusion for our self are we willing to make changes or take charge of our own life.

Oh, and my health today? Thanks for asking.  Peace reigns, relationships flourish, business is good, movement is pain free, most meds have been cut in half and I am releasing weight every day.

How about you? Are you ready to take charge of your life?

Picture It 

by Mona Dunkin 

Picture taking and sharing has become a national pastime. Whether it is the exotic – Eiffel Tower – or the ordinary – PB&J sandwich – See it. Capture it. Share it. Develop it.

We have an internal camera that is handier than our cell phones, quicker than our fingers and never runs low on batteries or storage facilities.

It’s our brain attached to our six senses.

Our six senses are continually taking ‘sensual pictures’ – smells, tastes, sights, sounds, emotions – whether we are deliberately snapping them or not. The brain and senses are on call 24/7 from birth to death. And the brain sorts and stores all these pictures for later recall – or not – but they are still cellular stored.

Psychiatrists William Glasser says, “The power of the picture is total.”
What?  Basically that means that we cannot separate ourselves from ourselves and everything we do effects everything we do and involves every part of our being which is connected to all of our experiences.  The totality of our existence works in tandem and is inextricably tied together – thoughts, actions, feelings and physical.

The following example reflects the possibility of a child’s first-ever encounter with liver and ice cream.

Liver: ugh!

  • Thought – horrible, never again.
  • Action – spit out, gulp down
  • Feeling/Emoting – frustrated, deceived?
  • Physical/Bodily – iron, nutrition, strength

Ice cream: yum!

  • Thought – wonderful, delicious, more
  • Thought – wonderful, delicious, more
  • Feeling/Emoting – happy, joyous
  • Physical/Bodily – nutrition, fat, tooth-decay

When our reality seems to match these sensual pictures in our head, we have some degree of satisfaction. This degree of satisfaction – no matter how minute – was the pioneering pathfinder to the brain.  The degree of satisfaction leads to organizing our behavior to do it again or to refrain from the next time.

This simple example illustrates how an initial unpleasant encounter can be developed to be beneficial to keeping us mentally and physically healthy and happy. It also illustrates how a pleasant encounter can become detrimental in the long run to mental and physical health and happiness.