Category Archives: Choices

Reflection: Take Step Three: Illuminate your Path

By Debbie Cringe

The ability to self-reflect involves strategies that allow you to ignore negative emotion, chaotic mind-stories, bodily pain and illness, or to avoid making harmful choices. There are many strategies that people recommend: walking away from an altercation, finding someone to talk to about the problem, trying to arbitrate a problem among people and yourself. Some of these may have already worked for you so continue them! However, another strategy involves allowing the quiet and healed mind to use its wisdom to guide. Dr. Glasser’s Behavior Car is an excellent way to break a problem into pieces and evaluate the problem area – isolate your Thinking, Doing, Body, or Feelings—as you work towards solutions. This has been discussed in past blogs.

Another strategy is called PACE IT! The intensity of the bright lights help you focus on the smaller parts of a whole problem. PACE IT! Does this in four steps. (1). identify your problem or the action that precipitated your unhappiness. (2). look at the cause-effect relationships that led to the problem or action. (3). Identify which cause-effect line you would choose to change an action that would have allowed a different ending to the incident. (4). Write the action you would change and rewrite the new ending.

Download a template that guides this type of reflection.

Seeing connections between having, doing and being

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… ww.alohafoundation.org

The thirst inside each us for happiness and peace of mind is not a thirst for things, no matter how spectacular they are, and the benefit of the action we take is not so much in what we do as it is the people we are when we are doing it. One person could give $100 to a charity and it might be an act of amazing generosity; a very well-to-do person might give the same $100 and it would be an act of penny-pinching.

“We can never tell what someone is doing by watching what they are doing,” said Bill Powers, and what he meant is that the being dimension of our actions describes us much more accurately than the doing dimension;  they are inextricably linked.

Once we understand that the ultimate goal of a human being is being human, we can connect the “having” and ‘doing” dimensions of our QW pictures to the “being” dimension and discover how all things and actions are reflections of our being human. The significance and the slaking of our psycho/spiritual thirst is in the “being.” As human beings we are given very general instructions: be loving, powerful, playful and free.  The hard part of being human is figuring out how to “be” those things in a world which most generally offers us choices about what we want to do and have.

canstockphoto13450488

It takes work to keep our eye on the prize, the “being” component, but understanding how it connects with our “having” and “doing” choices is a big step. Some people make the connection by asking, “If I “do this” or “have this,” what does that say about me?” Who am I when I have these possessions and take these actions? We know the answer will be different for each person; Internal Control Theory teaches us that “nothing has meaning until we give it meaning.” Nothing makes us feel that we are a specific kind of person; we are the ones who ultimately make that decision for ourselves. Others can impose their values on our choices, but our mental health and happiness will be the result of the meaning and values we ascribe to our actions and possessions. If we search honestly and openly for the “being dimension” in our possessing and acting, we will ultimately be the creator of our own happiness and the arbiter of whether we are being loving, powerful, playful, and free.

“Would the loving person I say I want to be be doing what I am doing right now?”

“I say I want to be worthy; would a worthy person take the action I am about to take?

“Is buying this hat an act of playfulness or an act of fearing peer pressure?”

“The person I want to be knows that I need to spend more time on my paperwork.

If I don’t make that time, knowing what I know, what kind of person will I be?

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience,
we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Skills & Courage-Further necessities for change

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

Let’s assume we have done some good work with ourselves or someone we are trying to help and we have created some accurate and acceptable blueprints which we/they now can envision as both possible and effective in allowing us/them to be loving, powerful, playful and free. We will talk about the layers and levels of these blueprints once we look at the basic necessities for change.

The second challenge we have to face after creating effective blueprints is the question of whether we have the Skills to create these. I may have a great idea of the relationship I want to have with my spouse, but I realize that to have that relationship, I would need skills I do not currently possess. I might realize that to have that kind of relationship I would need to be able to tolerate a level of anger or upset I never learned to feel safe about. Or I might need to be able to have difficult conversations with my spouse with about topics I have always felt uncomfortable talking about. Or I might have to learn to simply say, “I’m sorry.”

If I don’t have the skills necessary, I will have little chance of attaining my picture of the relationship I want. Once I have a suitable blueprint, I need appropriate skills. Like a carpenter who has never worked with certain materials before, he will need to learn new skills if the building’s blueprint calls for it as part of the design.  

courage-risk_5970325

The final basic necessity I want to mention is Courage. Without Courage we can never face the changes we need to make and we will keep backing off from taking the final steps. One of my favorite questions for clients in this stage is,” Do you really not know what you need to do, or do you know what you need to do but are afraid to do it?” A remarkable number of people say, “Yeah, I know what to do but I’m really scared.” If we don’t face the issue of Courage directly, we will most likely short circuit the process at some earlier stage by pretending we don’t really know what we want or by adding endless “Yeah, buts” to every step we are about to take.

One of the most stunningly beautiful aspects of internal control psychology is that we know how to help people change their emotions. We know we can help create the Courage they need, not by directly changing how they feel, but by changing what they do and what they think (Glasser’s concept of total behavior.)  We can help people develop the Courage they need to use their new Skills to work toward their Design of a new and better life.

All three are crucial: Design, Skills and Courage. Knowing that before we attempt to change ourselves or help others change gives us a big jump in the process and can avoid a lot of ungrounded and unfocused activity.

 

World Peace through Laughter

By Denise Daub

Today, May 1st is World Laughter Day.

Laughter Day was first celebrated on January 11, 1988 in Mubai, India and was founded by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga now practiced worldwide.

laughterLaughter has proven to be instrumental in lowering blood pressure and stress levels, not to mention it just makes you feel good … and happy!  Interestingly, the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter.  This is where Laughter Yoga comes in.

We all know that emotions stimulate physical expressions… when you are happy you smile, but it can also go the other way.  Studies have shown that physical expressions can stimulate emotions. So fake it till you make it will actually work when it comes to laughter.

Laughter is contagious, has the power to bring people together and creates happiness.  It  strengthens your immune system, boosts your energy and triggers healthy physical changes in the body and…. it is totally free!

Laughter helps to create a positive mental state to deal with negative situations and negative people. It gives hope and optimism to cope with difficult times. – http://www.laughteryoga.org

Improve your mental health and happiness and take some time to laugh 🙂

 

Fear versus Freedom

By Amanda Love

If you live in fear, it is impossible to be free.  Fear can take many forms — fear of leaving a job you don’t like for a more challenging one, fear of voicing your opinions to a spouse that constantly argues with you, fear of being alone, fear of changing careers, fear of moving away from family and friends and starting over.

depression

My personal experience has been with a verbally abusive spouse.  I would wake up in the morning to his temper tantrums and go to sleep with them as well.  This went on for about fifteen years, until I looked in the mirror one day and realized I had no respect for myself.  I have a high love and belonging need and a low freedom need, which I pushed so low it was non-existent.

I was fearful of rocking the boat by leaving all at once.  My friend, who is also a therapist, advised me to “leave without leaving.”  Start by doing things that you love to do, seek new challenges for yourself, learn new things, she said.

I followed her advice and slowly became more of who I really am as a person.   I raised a puppy for a service dog organization, and took her everywhere I went, spreading the word about the wonders service dogs work.  When the dog was returned to me for a mild medical condition, she and I trained together to be a pet therapy team.  We volunteered at a nursing  home and a Read to the Dog Program at a New York City library.

I regained my self-respect.  I began writing a novel, a love story.  I became more confident in myself and when I finished the book I was able to stand up and end the marriage.  I recently moved to a different town on my native Long Island, and have conquered my fear of new situations by participating in community groups that I love.

I battle fear every day — and maybe you do too.  Challenge yourself by identifying what you are really afraid of, and try to reason with yourself that the fear is unfounded.   If you can’t do that by yourself, seek help from a trusted family member, friend  or a counselor.

Are you willing? Are you ready?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

During one of my regular shifts in the psychiatric emergency room of a general hospital a patient arrived who was feeling exceedingly anxious and worried. He had experienced a number of recent life events contributing to his emotional state. And he added to his list of recent concerns by piling on more issues and challenges he had been juggling and trying to handle for awhile.

In my well meaningman2 attempts to be helpful I shared some very specific ideas and suggestions for some coping skills he could immediately start to implement. Simply taking some deep breaths and focusing on the rise and fall of his chest and belly should be a good and helpful start. These suggestions were met with an increase in his upset and anxiety leading to tears. Clearly I was contributing to his condition worsening.

Later it hit me. This fellow was invested in his upset and suffering. He was not yet read or willing to change.

I was reminded of my own personal experience years earlier. While washing dishes I was deep into an argument with my husband, even though my husband was not home at the time.

At some point I realized my ranting, raving and complaining was not helping me get what I wanted and needed. I even went so far as deciding a different course of action that would help me get what I wanted and needed.

I asked myself two important questions:

Am I willing to do something different?

          Am I ready to do something different? 

          NO!

This was the simple truth. Even though I had evaluated my present behavior as being ineffective, I was not ready or willing to give it up . . . YET!

The present argument was quite satisfying. I was able to express my feelings and desires without interruption. I could be right and righteous without interruption or contradiction. I would WIN this argument.

Later, I told myself, I would approach my husband and engage in a conversation where we could work toward compromise and mutually satisfactory solutions. Later I would be ready and willing.

Now I know better. Now I will still offer my patients some immediate skills and solutions to help them improve their sense of well being and settle their emotional upheaval. But first I will ask:

Is what you are doing now helping you get what you need and want?

Are you willing and ready to consider doing something different?

Respecting their present state of mind I will ask if they are ready, willing and wanting to move forward for greater Mental Health and Happiness.

New Pictures and New Developments

by Mona Dunkin

We think in pictures or symbols. If we don’t get the picture we don’t get the concept.

If I mention a car, your mind sees a car of some sort, even if it’s fuzzy. The longer we explore that subject, the clearer your mind-picture comes into focus.  More than likely, your own car would be your familiar point of reference or perhaps your dream car.

Unknowingly, we associate new stuff with familiar stuff. We also, unknowingly, self-assess whether to like, dislike or simply store it in our vast mind/body warehouse as additional information. For later recall.

Everything is created twice; first in the mind and then in reality. Your computer runs by an operating system and so does the mind. If you don’t like a TV program, you don’t even try to change the screen. Why not? The TV operating system is pre-programmed to bring in that program on that frequency.

Here is where reality sets in.  You cannot change what you do not have control over. You do not have control over the programming slated for that channel but you do have control over changing the channel. To change the picture on the TV screen you change the channel to another frequency.

Change is an Inside Job. Truth be told, we have limited ability to change anything outside our immediate scope. Goodness! It’s hard enough to change something within our self (i.e. attitudes, habits, prejudices).  When we work on self we have something we can work with. When working on someone or something outside our selves – especially without forethought and training – we may be jousting at windmills. Don Quixote’s selective vision of the real world contributed to his unhappy relationships and the fall from the rotor blade certainly curtailed his health.

Will Power = WALL. Even if you are using every ounce of will power that you can muster to change personal habits, attitudes or – alas – other people, it doesn’t compute. Why? Because the old operating system still has chocolate cake as the focal point.  You fall off the wagon and don’t understand why.

Adjust your mind-pictures and grow into them. This simple step promotes self from employee to Management.  From lackey to Taking Charge of Your Life™. And that is power. It’s real power because it’s empowering.  Once the light comes on, it is like a rogue grass seed pushing up through concrete to grow, blossom and bloom. That seed idea that seemed so impossible takes root and produces amazing results.

Yeah But!  I hear you; it’s the I-agree-but-I-don’t-agree-or-I-don’t-think-I-can.  Okay, here’s how:

rest1157188

Stop whatever thought processes you have going through your head and – just for a minute – experience a different sort of reality. Get out of your head nonsense into a beautiful place. Through loving imagination, tune your TV-mind to your Discovery Channel. Tune in to pictures of adventures that you would love doing or being or creating. Whet an internal mental appetite for those things. Act on those new aptitudes and the old picture begins to fade as you become the new you.  You become energized by what you act like and feel like and look like and what life tastes like as you grow into the person living your dream.

What you think is what you become.  Picture it.

MORE TIME

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

In the few months before my father’s death I had an unusual experience with time. My wristwatches and I didn’t seem to be getting along. I would put one watch on only to have it fall off my wrist later in the day. As I moved into different time zones another watch seemed to reset on its own volition. One watch simply stopped working all together.

After I had enough of these experiences I finally stopped to think and consider what was happening. “I’m running out of time!” This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately changed my plans. I re-prioritized my calendar and immediately went to my parent’s home for an extended vacation. 

And I changed my thoughts and words. “I have all the time in the world.”

waitingwomanI realized I wasn’t running out of time, but I was running out of the immediate opportunities to spend with my beloved father. Although he is no longer in this earthly plain, my strong relationship with my father continues. And yet, I’m so grateful that I paid attention and changed my focus and my energies of how and where I spent my time during the days and weeks of my father’s life. I don’t know if I was running out of time, but I did have all the time in the world because I made this happen.

How is your relationship with time? Do you spend energy trying to manage your time? How is that going?

The reality is that of course you can’t manage your time. You can only manage how you spend your focus and energy in the time we are all given. Time is the great equalizer because all of us, no matter our nationality, religion, color, gender, age, sexual orientation have the same amount of time. And time marches on.

Here is a different idea. How about if you change how you think and talk about time. Try your own experiment to see what effect changing your relationship with time has on your Mental Health & Happiness.

Here’s how you start. Listen and note your out loud thoughts, what you say, about time. Here are some possibilities:

            I’m running out of time.

            There isn’t enough time.

            We are going to be late. If we want to be on time we need to leave now!

            This traffic is going to make us miss our train.

            Our days are numbered. 

This is just a sampling. Perhaps you have your own unique thoughts or experiences as you rush through your day to try and squeeze in all you must during this day (another measurement of time).

Now make a list of how you think and talk about time. Instead of referring to time as a scarce and limited resource change to an abundant point of view.

There is more than enough time

            I have all the time in the world

            The world is filled with more time, more love and more peace.

            I can always make time for what is important.

            I arrive on time with joy and grace.

            This traffic gives me a chance to be grateful for all the time I have this day.

            I will make the most of all the days in my life.

Add your own thoughts, ideas and statements about time as an abundant resource.

The next time you hear yourself thinking or speaking about the scarcity of time switch to a statement from your list of time as an abundant resource. Now notice what effect this change has on your Mental Health & Happiness.

Levitation For Improved Mental Health & Happiness

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you know the expression “You can’t see the forest for the trees?” It suggests that when you are too close to the situation, it is difficult to see it as it is. Each person’s perception is biased and inaccurate from each individuals point of view alone.

canstockphoto0512675Have you ever noticed when you are in a difficult situation with someone, you frequently jump to conclusions because you are telling yourself a story about the situation and the other person? Although this process is human it just doesn’t help. In fact it often makes the situation worse.

Essentially you are looking at your own tree in the forest while the other is looking in the same forest but at a different tree. Or perhaps the other is looking at the same tree but from a different angle.

Here’s an idea from Buddhism that just might help. This process just might help you levitate above the situation to change your perspective. This suggestion is based on a brief YouTube interview with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. He was answering a teenager’s question where she stated she felt sad because her friends didn’t seem to like her. This is what he said:

Oh, that’s just a feeling. And this feeling is based on a misperception.

          Ask yourself, “What am I misperceiving? How can I perceive it differently?

Here’s the process:

Once you recognize that you are feeling sad, bad, angry, dissatisfied or any other uncomfortable or negative feeling STOP.

Tell yourself that this is just a feeling. Remind yourself that this feeling is based on a misperception (your own alone).

Now ask yourself what you might be misperceiving.

Ask yourself how you might perceive things differently

Essentially this process allows you to look down at the problem from a distance, a different point of view. With this change in position you may see how much of the problem is of your own making. You will get a new perspective on the issue. This may allow you to rectify your part of the problem.

Since I heard this simple process explained by Nhat Hanh I have been practicing this process regularly. I’m amazed how powerful and effective it is.

Give it a try. As you levitate over your current life’s challenges you just may  understand how much easier it becomes to improve your mental health and happiness by putting it in a new perspective.

Trapped In Your Past?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

The past is a funny thing. If it werent for our past, none of us would be who we are today. At the same time, we have no ability to change the past. Dont believe me? Try and change what you had for lunch yesterday. You might decide to change what youre going to have for lunch today based on your lunch experience of yesterday but no matter how hard you try, you cannot change what you ate yesterday. 

The past is only what you choose to remember if you even choose to remember it. And even when you choose to remember it, can you be sure your memory is correct and accurate? Ever go back to the home where you were raised and take a look at that big hill you use to sled down as a child? Ever been surprised at how little that big hill actually is? 

For some people, the act of remembering and memories seems to be a mysterious, lost category in their brains. There are more than a few people who complain that they have no memories from their childhood. For some of these people, they are convinced this indicates sad, bad and harmful experiences they are trying to repress or suppress (leftover legacy of Freudian thinking). 

canstockphoto13026221How can you know what you dont know? Your brain may very well be acting to protect you from painful memories. Its also possible your brain is busy helping you with more important things in the here and now rather than sorting through memories from your past. 

Today can be the day to change how you cultivate your relationship with your past to benefit your Mental Health & Happiness. Rather than focusing your thoughts on the painful, unhappy, hurtful experiences of yesterday, why not reflect on memories or stories that delight, inspire or lift your spirits?

Were you told stories from your past that reveal your unique qualities? In what ways were you special? Who were the people who found you amazing and worth celebrating? How did they do it? In what ways did the person you were in your past positively contribute to the person you are today? 

Amazingly humans have the unique ability to choose their thoughts. Perhaps you take this for granted because you can easily stop thinking about todays weather and begin thinking about your dinner menu or your vacation plans, or the color blue, or your age, or you painful knee. But make no mistake. This is your own personal magic!

If you find yourself feeling trapped in your painful past memories, change your thoughts and change your Mental Health & Happiness. You possess this magical power.