Category Archives: Control

Who can you control?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

So much of our lives are not under our own control. We can’t control the weather; we can’t control our politicians and international relationships. We can’t control other people. We can’t control the waiting time on hold when making a phone call to a large organization or government agency. These are just a few examples. Without much difficulty you can name many more things and people out of your control that you encounter throughout the course of your day.

But if you let each of these examples lead you to feel annoyed, irritated, helpless or hopeless STOP! There is one important thing that you can control. You can control yourself, how you view each of these circumstances and handle each these situations.

(And for a choice theory psychology language correction in the above quote please read it as:  You gotta look for the good in the bad, the happy in your sad, the gain in your pain, and what  you’re grateful for, not what you’re hateful for.)

choosehappyStop and change your glasses. Put on the spectacles that help you find the gratitude when your car battery goes dead demanding a change in your morning plans. How lucky this happened before you ever left home. You are stuck in a warm, familiar place where you can attend to other things than what you had planned.

When a family relative loses her temper can you find the good in this seemingly bad situation? Perhaps the fact that this person is finally speaking up and back, letting the family know what she wants and how she feels is an uncomfortable change, but one long overdue.

Can you find the gift of gain that comes from being ill with the flu stopping, you in your social tracks? Perhaps being forced to spend more time at home means you can focus on improving your daily surroundings for greater comfort and home satisfaction.

Do you get the idea? Are you willing to change your point of view by putting on a pair of glasses to help you change? Are you willing to discover both the positive and negative sides contained in all aspect of life? With some effort you can find the bad and the good, the sad and happy in all that is going wrong and right in your life.

Since so much of our lives are not under our control, why not try and change what is?

Coping Skills

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

We all have those overwhelming experiences and stressful times in our lives when it feels as though everything is falling apart. The upset can be a failing grade on an important exam in our high school class, or hearing the news that our family pet has died, or being laid off from our job and only source of income, or the pain and heartache that comes with a love break-up. Let’s not forget that many are now struggling because of environmental and whether challenges. These include floods, flash floods, out of control forest fires, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes.

What do you do when faced with these kinds of things in your life? Do you have coping strategies and self-soothing comfort skills? Have you developed and practiced these skills? Or are you like many people who aren’t quite sure what you do until faced with the emotional upheaval of life?

I have recently begun working as a nurse in a psychiatric emergency room of a regular hospital. Most of the people I see are in the worst moments of their lives facing terrible circumstances. This is the time when coping skills are really needed. Too often however, people tell me they have very few or no coping strategies.

When I asked one fellow, who was terribly upset and distraught, what he did to help himself he told me he asked his girlfriend to hug and hold him. If she wasn’t available he told me he then took drugs, whether they were prescription drugs or street drugs. He was in search of something that would help him numb the pain he was experiencing. These were the only two strategies he had. Amazingly he never considered seeking some kind of solution or help to solve his problems. Even this emergency room visit had been initiated by the police and not his idea.

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For improved Mental Health & Happiness start now developing, learning and practicing your coping skills. This is best done not when you are faced with the crisis or upset, but when life is mostly in balance and you feel calm and in control. Chances are good that you already have a few of these self-soothing strategies. Perhaps you just haven’t considered these to be part of your coping repertoire.

For instance, do you close your eyes, take a deep breath and count to 10? Or maybe you call a dear and trusted friend just to hear his voice knowing he will offer wise words of counsel. Some people get regular massages and when needed get an emergency massage. Others take a bath, or meditate, or take a nap, or go for a long or short walk in nature. Still others go directly to the ice cream shop, local bakery or fried chicken joint to eat their comfort foods because that is what is needed — some comfort.

A crisis is not the time for judgment about what is the healthiest choice. Now is the time to evaluate only based on the ability of your strategy to give you the kind of immediate comfort, relief and help you need.  Once the crisis is resolved you can decide whether or not to cultivate healthier and more effective coping strategies. It is always appropriate however, to evaluate whether or not your coping strategy is putting you in greater danger like my patient who was hospitalized for perilous drug consumption.

Start today. Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Identify your present coping strategies
  2. Evaluate how healthy and effective they are
  3. Start cultivating and practicing more strategies to add to your  repertoire. To get more ideas you can always ask friends and family  members what they do to help them cope when under stress.

Dealing with a crisis involves more than relying on good and effective coping strategies to help keep you calm. Understanding the step-by-step of handing the crisis you face is also essential. This will be discussed in a future blog.

For now, improve your Mental Health & Happiness today by cultivating, practicing and improving  your present coping strategies.

Transform from a worrier to a warrior!

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you have an upcoming vacation you’re looking forward to? As welcoming as this break may be are you also worrying about the work, planning, and organizing that must be done before you get to plunge deep into the fun and freedom a vacation promises?

Maybe your life is on the other side of this coin. Rather than looking forward to a good moment in life perhaps you’ve recently received some unwelcome news that has you on edge. Maybe you are worrying about the unfortunate change in your physical or financial health or a shift in an important relationship.

Whether you are presently in a good swing of life right now or facing some challenges that could send you spiraling down is worry a constant companion? Are you a worrier?

canstockphoto13026221For many people, worrying is one of the habits they use in an attempt to get the illusion of control in their lives. And if worry leads a person to take necessary and effective action, then by all means continue this  strategy.

But for many people worrying may not lead to further action. Instead the person is worrying, while simultaneously wishing and hoping for the best. Too often the result for this person is increased stress, upset and tension.

My mother was a champion worrier. She worried about her children all day long who walked to and from school (this was long before helicopter parenting). She worried about adequately preparing and packing for our family camping trips. She worried about the health and well being of every member of the family. In fact, she worried so much that I began to believe that her worry was a protective shield over me. This realization came to me after my mother died and I was aware I no longer had her worry to keep me safe. For Mom, worrying was one way she let us know she loved us.

If you are a worrier consider transforming into a warrior instead!  News flash: there is a great deal in life that is out of your control. This means there is a great deal that you could worry about. What if you decided to fully embrace those things in life over which you do have control?What if you decide to face life’s unknowns, including the potential disasters, chaos and hardships as a spiritual warrior? 

A spiritual warrior, according to one definition, is a person who gains mastery over oneself. Imagine waking up each day feeling fearless, strong, and ready to persevere with all the necessary and effective action you can take for the best outcome you desire. Now that you have done what you can, as a spiritual warrior you release the need to control the outcome.

If you are a worrier, let today be the day you experiment for improved Mental Health & Happiness. Just for today practice the actions, thoughts, and feelings of a Spiritual Warrior every time you face your well honed opponent: your habitual worry. The more you practice transforming from a worrier into a warrior, the easier this will become. Eventually your mental Health & Happiness will also improve.

You Made Me Do It

By Mike Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

If it rains, will the rain have an emotional effect on you?

Some of you may say, “Yes” and others may say, “No.”

Some may show emotions of anger, depression, disappointment, or even anxiety.  Others may welcome the rain and be happy, smile, or even be joyful over it.

Why the two different reactions?  It’s the same rain in the same city.

The difference lies with your perception of how the rain affects your plans or needs.  Personally, I love when it rains.  We get so little of it here in Arizona and it turns many things green and smells nice afterwards.

If your phone rings and you answer it, did the ringing make you say, “Hello?”  Have you ever not answered a phone when it rang?

When driving and you come to a stop sign or a red traffic light, did that sign or light make you stop?  Have you ever purposely run a red light or stop sign?

If you said “no” the phone didn’t make me answer it  and the stop sign/light didn’t make me stop, then you might be inclined to say that you were not controlled by those outside stimuli because you chose not to answer or stop . . . because you didn’t want to and you were aware of the possible consequences if you didn’t.  Your decision was a choice.

So why is it that when someone says something or does something that you DON’T agree with or like that you blame them for “making” you feel angry, disappointed, sad, or even fearful?  Conversely, why is it that when someone says or does something that you DO like you may react with laughter, happiness, or pleasure?  It all comes from within yourself based upon how you perceive the situation.  Is it meeting your wants and needs . . . or not?  If not, then you want to do something that will make the situation meet your wants or needs.  You take measures to control and change someone to do or believe what you want done or believe.  The other person didn’t “MAKE” you to try to control or change them.  You chose to do so.

How do you usually react when someone tries to blame, change, or control you?  Do you like it when that happens?  No?  Then what makes you think others will like it when you do it to them?

choice

When we get outside stimuli that matches what we want, need, or believe, we choose to react in a positive and cheerful manner.  I use the word “choose” because what some people may react to with positive cheerful behaviors may find others choosing negative and unhappy behaviors even though the outside stimuli is the same for both.  The only difference is the perception each person has about the outside information they received.  People can choose how they will respond.  If they want to feel miserable and unhappy and/or want you to know just how miserable and unhappy they are, they will show you with their behavior just as the happy and pleasant people would do with their different perception.

You, and only you, are the master of your emotions.  If you believe that others can control your emotions by the things they may say or do, you are actually giving up your own emotional control to someone else and giving them your power to control your emotions and behavior.

If you don’t want to feel angry or tense, or any other negative emotion, why would you choose to do so?  Choosing to remain happy or content is as easy as refusing to accept one’s offer for another cup of coffee when you don’t want any more.  It’s a choice.  No one is forcing you to have another cup just as no one is ever making you react in an unhappy manner except you.

We live in a world of criticism and judgment as well as those who will coerce us to do things we may not like or want to do.  They do so because they know we will give them our control.  If we don’t relinquish it, then they go away.  As the saying goes:  No one can walk over you if you don’t lie down.  You can’t control them and they cannot control you.  Allow others who think and behave differently than you to do and think as they please.  It is not your responsibility to change and control others to your way of thinking and doing nor is it the responsibility of others to, blame, change, or control you to their way of thinking and doing.

None of us can be all things to all people.  We cannot please everyone because we all have different wants and needs.  When someone blames, criticizes, or judges you without really knowing you, or if they don’t have all of the facts, their words and behavior are based on no more than their short-sighted perception and/or lack of information.  You will always have a choice on how to react to them.

Several years ago, when I was a married man, I had moved our family to AZ.  We purchased a home and bought a luxury car.  My wife wanted to drive the new car to the store so she asked me if there was anything that I wanted as long as she was out and about.  I requested that she get a jug of muriatic acid for the pool.  When she returned, I helped bring the groceries in and noticed the absence of the acid.  When I asked about it, she informed me that she had placed it  on the floorboard, behind the driver’s seat.

I shuddered to think what could have happened.  As I opened the back door of the car, my fears were confirmed.  The bottle of acid had fallen over and acid leaked out and had dissolved the carpet down to the bare metal of the floorboard.  When I asked her why she would place a bottle of acid in such a position as to ruin the carpet, she replied, “It’s your fault, not mine.”  Astonished, I repeated, “My fault?  How is it MY fault?”  She answered, “If you hadn’t asked me to get it, it wouldn’t have happened.”

In my dumbfounded expression to her response, I had a split moment to process what she had said.  It became clear to me, in that moment, that she was indeed correct.  Silly me for expecting her to have known better.

Before reacting to others, you may choose to give them more information and if this doesn’t work, you can always  (reframe your perception) decide that arguing or getting upset over the other person’s behavior or words are just not worth the effort or unhappiness and walk away or change the subject.  When discussing differences, ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say or do going to bring me closer to agreement with this person or will it drive us further apart?”  One doesn’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to come up with the correct answer that will result in the least resistance and unhappiness.

If someone were to call you a horse’s ass . . . that is merely their opinion.  However, if three or more people call you a horse’s ass, you may want to start shopping around for a saddle.  If this offends you, I hope you didn’t hurt your feelings.

 

 

Bumper Cars Satisfaction

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Human efforts to connect often have us bouncing off one another like bumper cars. Maybe that’s because of what Dr. Glasser calls “external control”. We have something in mind for the other person to be, and when we try to get close to possess what we want the other person to be, we bounce off. We bounce off because maybe the other person doesn’t want to be who we want them to be. They want to be accepted just for who they are. It is this acceptance of one another that may help us stop bouncing off each other.

Paradigm Shift

By  Mike Rice

Admit it.  We’ve all done it a few times in our lives.  It happens on airplanes, in grocery stores, parks, church, or any other public places.  We experience things outside ourselves that leads to feeling frustrated or angry because “some people’s children,” or someone, or some thing is behaving in ways in which we disapprove.  We begin to think such things as, “These kids need to be taught how to act in public,” or “Boy, Some people’s children . . .,” or “A good swat on their tails would put an end to this kind of behavior.”

When our happiness needs are being disrupted, it’s easy to react in negative ways to attempt to ease the frustration.  You may choose to criticize, blame, complain, nag, threaten or even punish those whom you perceive as the disrupters of your happiness.  Ironically, the thoughts and behaviors that are chosen often cause more unhappiness than they do to resolve it.

EXAMPLE

You are riding a bus and you don’t like riding busses.  You are only doing so because your car broke down and is in the shop being repaired.  So already, you are not all that happy because in your happy world, your car is running well and has no mechanical problems.  You are also unhappy because the bus has to make several stops to let passengers on and off which makes the bus trip seem to be even more unpleasant.

On one of the stops, a man and his two young sons board the bus.  You are reading a newspaper to take your mind off of your unhappiness and to focus on other things.  But even the newspaper articles are stories of things that conflict with your happiness ideals.  Perceiving yourself as in control of your emotions, you do your best to stuff your negative emotions so that others won’t notice them.

busrideThe two boys who recently boarded the bus are now running up and down the aisle of the bus, playing tag and letting out several high-pitched sounds that are unpleasant to you and disrupting your concentration and ability to read your paper.  You begin to think to yourself how unruly these kids are and how poorly they have been raised to behave this way in public.  You glance over to the father who appears to not even be in touch with his surroundings.  He is not only ignoring his children and their behavior, he is just staring out the window at nothing in particular.  And now your values kick into another gear of confirming just how poor a parent this man is and why these kids are behaving so poorly.  Now there are several people around you who are behaving in ways in which you disapprove.  You begin to feel a knot in your stomach.  You clench you teeth.  Your blood pressure rises.  You feel achy.  Your anger intensifies.

Now you don’t care if anyone notices your looks of displeasure or not.  In fact, you hope the father of the two boys will notice your expressions of unhappiness and take measures to get these kids to behave the way you want them to behave.  But the father is too self-absorbed to notice your unhappiness much less the behavior of his sons.  He simply stares out the window as if in a daze.  Meanwhile, the two boys continue to play and yell while chasing each other up and down the aisle of the bus.

You see the father and the boys as the cause of your unhappiness even though you were unhappy before they even boarded the bus.  But since there is nothing you can do about having to ride the bus, you begin to think that you can say or do something to the boys and/or the father to get them to behave the way you want them to behave.  You have held off as long as you can with only the information you see before you that you have recognized as being of the cause of your personal happiness.

Enough is enough!  You yell at the boys, “Sit down and be still!  Quit running up and down this aisle and disrupting everyone!”  And to the father, “Can’t you control these kids?  Some people should never have children because they don’t know how to raise them!”

The father looks stunned.  It appears you just shook him out of a coma.  He replies, “I apologize.  I’m sorry for how my kids are behaving.  Boys?  Come here.  Sit down and be quiet.”  And to you he once again apologizes:  “We’re all a little bit lost in our thoughts right now.  We just got on the bus back there at the hospital.  My wife . . . their mother, just died of cancer a few minutes ago and we are not dealing with it too well right now.”

So what are your thoughts now?  Do you still want to choose to criticize?  Do you still want to complain and blame them for your unhappiness?

This story is an example of how one chooses to think and behave on limited information and self-centered thoughts.  One cannot behave without a thought that leads to an emotion that leads to the choice of the behavior.  Once you change your thoughts, you will change your emotions and your behavior.

At the beginning of this story, you were controlling your behavior as best you could at the time.  But that didn’t work so well so you began to behave based on your thoughts and lashed out at the source you perceived as the cause of your unhappiness.  Once you got more information of what was happening in their world and not in yours, you suddenly changed your thoughts and behavior and may even felt like a jerk.  So now who is apologizing?

It’s not always about you.  Other people have their own unhappiness to deal with.  Just remember:  When you find yourself unhappy because of the behavior of others, you can only control yourself.  And there will always be someone else who has more to be unhappy about than you.

The Next Time You Are Unhappy

Change what you want and/or change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.  There are no other effective ways.

 

Is it time to go on a new diet?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Lately it seems as though the world is becoming a more negative, scary and out of control place. Are people nastier, more competitive, cut throat and unkind? The number of shootings is increasing stirring up not only death and destruction but all the accompanying hostility and angry arguments about gun control or freedom. Questions and concerns about mental health services, or lack of, as well as fights over funding seem never ending.

Yikes! The more I hear the more discouraged I become. I worry that I’m becoming one of those grumpy “old people” who think the world is becoming nothing but doom and gloom, not like the “good old days.”

On closer inspection I’ve begun a more personal, internal inspection of myself and how I interact with the world instead of only focusing on the world. How much time am I spending watching crazy cable news shows that focus on delivering only those doom and gloom stories? Too much time! No wonder I’m feeling discouraged and down hearted!

You would never invite a thief into your house. So why would you allow
                        thoughts that steal your joy to make themselves at home in your mind? 

Many years ago I decided to stop watching and reading the news. I went on a “news diet.” Initially I worried that this action would result in me becoming an uninformed citizen. Remarkably, I still learned and was informed about the important news of the day.

odeI remained loyal to one radio news program that gave me actual balanced information about the important news of the day. I heard about the full story and I was told the good news as well as the important news. It was not all doom, gloom and destruction. It was not the same three terrifying news stories told over and over and over again.

 It was time I returned to that news diet all over again. I had become an unconscious consumer of the 24 hour cable news programming. This choice was interfering with my good mental health and happiness. I needed to return to consuming only the programming that would enhance my joy!

The world is an ugly, destructive and out of control place. The world is also a beautiful, remarkable and kind place. I get to choose how I spend my attention and time. I can choose the version of the world I focus on. Now I choose to change my news diet toward what will enhance my mental health & happiness!

Crisis: Danger and Opportunity Combined

By:  Maria E Trujillo alias Manual DeVie

Suddenly normal events took on pain, awkwardness and new meaning.

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for awhile and she asked, “How are your kids?”

I shared that my son is now incarcerated for four years.

This is followed by a brief and awkward pause from us both. She then said, “That’s too bad” and we quickly disconnect.

So often these awkward moments equaled disconnection.

crisisWhen I first heard my son was going away to prison and for how long I was speechless, overwhelmed and frightened. Only I couldn’t just walk away and disconnect from this new reality, this crisis. My mental health and happiness suddenly vanished.

I now realize that this has been a blessing and opportunity in disguise. Resources and prevention programs for a prescription pill epidemic are lagging behind the need. Our journey had actually begun twelve years before the incarceration. Being locked up was the best chance my son had of getting the drugs out of his system.

If I had turned my thoughts or concerns about what others thought, fearing their judgment of me as a mother, my worry, upset and concern about my son and his present situation would have been compounded. It could have become a downward spiral. I might I have turned to a doctor asking for pills to help me sleep? I can easily imagine that I might have fallen into a similar trap as my son, relying on medication to help me with my mental and emotional anguish.

Luckily I am so grateful for the training I had in choice theory psychology. Knowing ways I could improve my own mental health and happiness helped me manage myself. I also learned tangible actions to help my son.

Choice theory psychology was everything I wished I had known when I was a kid. It was everything I wanted my children to learn. For me “necessity was the mother of my invention!” I created Manual DeVie to teach our youth choice theory psychology. I was able to use my hindsight into foresight for our kids.

I learned one last surprise from this crisis. Now when people hear my son is incarcerated I am able to use this opportunity to share.

I AM SO PROUD OF MY SON!

 

 

Control What You Can

By Dr. Nancy Buck

So much of our lives are not under our own control. We can’t control the weather; we can’t control our politicians and international relationships. We can’t control other people. We can’t control the waiting time on hold when making a phone call to a large organization or government agency. These are just a few examples. Without much difficulty you can name many more things and people out of your control that you encounter throughout the course of your day.

But if you let each of these examples lead you to feel annoyed, irritated, helpless or hopeless STOP! There is one important thing that you can control. You can control yourself, how you view each of these circumstances and handle each these situations.

(And for a choice theory psychology language correction in the above quote please read it as:  You gotta look for the good in the bad, the happy in your sad, the gain in your pain, and what  you’re grateful for, not what you’re hateful for.)

Stop and change your glasses. Put on the spectacles that help you find the gratitude when your car battery goes dead demanding a change in your morning plans. How lucky this happened before you ever left home. You are stuck in a warm, familiar place where you can attend to other things than what you had planned.

When a family relative loses her temper can you find the good in this seemingly bad situation? Perhaps the fact that this person is finally speaking up and back, letting the family know what she wants and how she feels is an uncomfortable change, but one long overdue.

Can you find the gift of gain that comes from being ill with the flu stopping, you in your social tracks? Perhaps being forced to spend more time at home means you can focus on improving your daily surroundings for greater comfort and home satisfaction.

relaxDo you get the idea? Are you willing to change your point of view by putting on a pair of glasses to help you change? Are you willing to discover both the positive and negative sides contained in all aspect of life? With some effort you can find the bad and the good, the sad and happy in all that is going wrong and right in your life.

Since so much of our lives are not under our control, why not try and change what is?