Tag Archives: behavior

The Creative Mind (Part 2)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

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Many people have learned to use their creative thoughts and behavior to resolve any frustration or unhappiness that comes their way.  They use their creativity to overcome their sadness and depression, anxiety, anger, and to deal with important people in their lives that matter to them.  There are also those who use their creativity to resolve conflict with others in ways that may only slightly ease their unhappiness and frustration but cause other problems in doing so.  We see these behaviors manifested in such ways that are being called, Obsessive Compulsive, relying and becoming addicted to drugs/alcohol, anxiety attacks, mood swings (Bipolar), and other behaviors that seem unusual or “crazy” to anyone who witnesses these behaviors.   Others don’t often see what another person is facing with their frustration and unhappiness.  Nor do they understand that the person’s odd or unusual behavior is serving the purpose of easing that frustration and unhappiness, even if it is only slightly, and created as a result of their “Creativity.”  You can hammer a nail with just about any other hard object if you don’t have a hammer.  Using something other than a hammer is a person’s creativity to get a desired result.  Unusual behaviors are creative behaviors utilized by those who haven’t created a more effective tool to ease their frustration.

Our creative abilities allow for our general happiness.  Some create effectively and others create maladaptive behaviors because it’s all they created at the time.  Our creativity can get us out of many unhappy situations without the need for counseling or therapy or prescription drugs.   Those who have created ineffective behaviors to resolve their unhappiness are diagnosed and judged as someone needing psychiatric help in the form of “brain meds.”  These types of medications inhibit a person’s natural ability to be creative and to be able to create ways to resolve their unhappiness.

When you have weird or strange dreams at night or even dreams that make sense . . . that is your brain being creative.  So if you have dreams that don’t make any sense, does that mean you’re mentally ill?  If your brain is capable of creating when you are asleep, it is also capable of creating when you are awake.

CREATIVITY . . . it’s behind most of our choices of behavior . . . logical and illogical.

The Creative Mind (Part One)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

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Creativity can be found in all of us.  Many people consider creativity to be limited to the ability to make something materialistic, or to express one’s self in art, cooking, inventing, writing, or music.  While these things certainly require creativity, creativity is not limited to talent in those areas alone.   Everyone uses creativity each and every day of their lives for many different things.  We rely on creativity based upon the knowledge that we already possess about specific things, logic, and willingness to go beyond our knowledge.  We use creativity to make decisions that are primarily designed to result in happiness or pleasure.  We use creativity to solve or resolve problems in business, discussions/arguments, and in our relationships.

All we do, each and every day of our life is behave.  We choose our behaviors to satisfy our needs of survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  When any of these needs are not being met to our desired level of satisfaction, it is human nature to rely on our creativity to satisfy and maintain those unmet needs.

If you have ever watched Naked and Afraid on cable TV, then you have watched individuals using their creative skills to satisfy their survival needs.  In relationships, we tend to put our best food forward when we first meet someone.  Behaving in a manner to cause another person to hopefully be drawn to you in a relationship relies on creativity for love and belonging needs.  Musicians, Artists, Chefs, Writers, Dancers, Educators, Athletes, and Inventors rely on creativity to be appreciated, helpful, competitive, to win, and to be respected as a result of their creative abilities.  These are ways of satisfying power needs.  Investing wisely for the future, making decisions and planning ways to free one’s self from confinement or from poor relationships relies on creativity.  Planning events, vacations, learning, and recreating requires creativity to make these things happen.

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and you just couldn’t come up with the things you wanted to say at the time in order to make a point?  That’s a silly question.  We’ve all done this.  Later, after the discussion or argument is over and both have gone separate ways, you continue to use your creativity thinking about it and suddenly you come up with whatever it is that you wish you had said or done during the discussion.   “I should have said . . . . “or “I should have done . . . .”  That’s creativity.

Here’s an exercise to utilize your creativity:  You wake in the morning and notice that it’s raining and you have a flat tire.  This is surely a frustrating situation.  So what will you do?  Some would say, “I’d change the tire by jacking it up and putting the spare on.”  But what would you do if you had loaned the jack to your neighbor several months ago and he never returned it?  “I’d go next door and get it back.” But he left for work an hour ago and no one else is at home.  “I’d call a friend to come get me to take me to work.”  S/he’s already gone and at their place of work.  “I’d call a cab to take me to work.”  These are examples of creativity.   Some may not use their creative skills very much and say, “I’d go back to bed.”  There are even more examples to this scenario that I could add but you get the idea.  Creativity is being used to overcome a frustrating situation.  With each creative endeavor that fails, another creative method is created until one of them eventually satisfies the frustration and need.

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.

When being right may be wrong

by Dr. Ken Larsen

It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.”   — Pete Seege

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We were living in Salinas.  Not far from where Bobby McGee slipped away.  I was in 5th grade and struggling with a major metamorphosis in my thinking and beliefs.  I was beginning to realize that playing cowboys with toy guns was something that kids did.  I was beginning to believe that I was no longer a kid and needed to put aside childish games like cowboys.  I was also beginning to notice that girls were more interesting than I had thought not too long before.  In hindsight, this awareness of a new way of thinking and behaving was an essential step in my development as a person.  What was most interesting was the slow and gradual dawning of a new self-concept pointing to a need to change.  It was not sudden or abrupt, but sort of crept up on me.  I also came to see that I had to make a choice to achieve that change.

I believe many of us in our culture and in our world are facing a similar growing awareness of our need to put aside some of our childish beliefs and behaviors and move on and into a new awareness of who we are as adults in our humanity.

What I’m getting at is the truth in the phrase “the world is divided by those who think they are right.”

I have lost friends in discussions where both of us were convinced we were right.  This “being right” seemed so important that it came out as a criticism and condemnation of the other person’s point of view.

When both parties are enmeshed in the trap of “I’m right and you’re wrong” what kind of an outcome can be expected?

Far too often there is a cascade of anger, hurt feelings and ultimately alienation from one another.

Dr. Glasser helped us see the universal need in all of us for love and belonging.  The need to be connected to one another is built into our genetic makeup.  Dr. Glasser also challenged us to evaluate what we were doing and saying in our relationships by asking the question “is what I’m doing (or going to do) bringing us closer together or driving us further apart.”

I’ve seen that insistence on my point of view as being the right point of view is a flawed approach to connecting with others.  If I really want to draw closer to another, I’m working on creatively growing into learning new and more life giving ways to have a conversation.  If I believe that “live and let live” is a valid way to be with others who see things differently, then I believe I’m making progress.

I find it more interesting to get to know a person as a unique member of our human family before I get too busy trying to convince anyone of how my opinion is superior to theirs.

And my mental health and happiness are enhanced when I’m working to understand rather than insisting I be understood.

Let Go and Get Free

By Dr. Ken Larsen

This is one technic for catching monkeys. Hollow out a large gourd, leaving a small opening at one end.  Inside the gourd put a piece of fruit that monkeys like a lot.  Then anchor the gourd securely and move on out of sight.  Soon, a monkey will come along to check out the gourd.  Finding the tempting piece of fruit inside, he reaches in and tries to pull it out.   But the opening in the gourd is just big enough to get his hand in.  Once he grasps the fruit inside, his hand is just too large to pull back out of the opening.  Not wanting to let go of the fruit, the monkey is trapped with his hand in the gourd.

monkeyAll the monkey has to do to get free would be to let go of the fruit, pull his hand out of the gourd and scamper up a nearby tree.

I wonder how often we grab and hold on to something that we think we want and need in spite of the harm it’s doing to us.

Some of the more destructive things we habitually hold on to are resentments.  Something happened to us in the past that was harmful or hurtful.  Sometimes the memories of these hurtful events haunt us and we play them again.  There are many reasons for “playing the old tapes” and none of them are good.  Each time we revisit those old resentments, the old feelings come back.  We need to let go.  Forgive the offender and make a conscious choice not to linger in those painful past places.  It takes some effort to do this, but life today will be better if we let the past stay past.

All too often the psychic/emotional pain caused by re- feeling these resentments leads us to looking for relief in a behavior or substance.   We feel bad and want to feel good and the cycle of resentment and pain can lead us to some wrong places to find the good feelings we want so badly.  Those “wrong places, can be behaviors or substances that are addictive.  We cycle from feeling bad to trying to feel good only to come back to feeling bad.  We are stuck and don’t know how to let go.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between a true addiction and just a bad habit.  The one distinguishing characteristic that answers the question for me is “use despite harm.”  If we’re doing something or using something and it’s doing us harm and we can’t just stop, I think “addiction”.

“Use despite harm” can cover behaviors, substances, even certain relationships.  The key to letting go is to recognize that we are holding on to something that is harmful to us and then getting the help and support we need to let go and get free.

Creativity & Madness

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

The 1960 movie, “The Magnificent Seven” was a box office hit staring Yul Brynner, playing the role of Chris Adams, and Steve McQueen, playing the role of Vin Tanner.  In one of the scenes, actor Eli Wallach, playing the role of Calvera, a Mexican bandit who was terrorizing a Mexican town’s inhabitants, asked Steve McQueen:

Calvera: What I don’t understand is why a man like you took the job (freeing the town) in the first place, hmm? Why, huh?
Chris: I wonder myself.
Calvera: No, come on, come on, tell me why.
Vin: It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, “Why?”
Calvera: And?
Vin: He said, “It seemed to be a good idea at the time.”

How many times have you found yourself having done something that afterwards you asked yourself, “Why the hell did I do that?”  Looking back on it, you are amazed that you would have chosen to have done such a thing.  Your thoughts might be:  “Boy, was THAT ever stupid,” or “I can’t believe I did that.”

I recall a time many years ago when I dove head first into a water fountain in the town’s roundabout while wearing a 3 piece suit.  I wasn’t in conflict or frustrated at the time.  I was merely under the influence.  Alcohol can make one really stupid. After landing on my head and sitting in a lot of water with blood running down my face, I never once thought it was a good idea at the time.  I just always wanted to do that after years of driving around that fountain for years.  However, I do recall thinking to myself after I did it, “What a (blanking) dumb thing to do.”But that’s not the kind of dumb choices I wish to describe.

I’m referring to the times when you were under extreme duress and felt like you had no place to turn.  A few examples might be:  Going through a divorce or breakup; losing a job with no prospects for work due to your age; the death of a child or some other loved one; feeling you can’t please someone who is putting demands or expectations on you; someone who is behaving in a way in which you disapprove; someone dear to you who is nagging, complaining, blaming, criticizing, threatening, punishing, or even bribing you to get you to do something they wanted you to do that you didn’t want to do or didn’t know how to do it.

The reason why you may have ever done something “crazy” was because, at the time, it seemed like a good idea.  When faced with a particular situation in which you have no prior experience, and after all your efforts to resolve it with all of the tools you have learned to use in the past have failed, you get creative. . .  you devise new ways to resolve your unhappiness that you have never used before.  Your unhappiness may be so frustrating that any new idea that you devise, regardless of how insensible it may be, seemed like a good idea at the time.  Everything you had tried, so far, was unsuccessful in making your perceived unhappy situation match the happy image of what you wanted in your Quality World.

When we run out of choices, we create new choices.  

Many times, we look back on those choices and say, “That was a really dumb thing to do.”  But at the time, in your frustration, it made perfectly good sense.  You had to try it.  You never thought of it before.   Maybe, just maybe, it would work.  Then to make it even worse when it failed, someone says to you, “Just what the hell were you thinking?” canstockphoto0527001

Being too embarrassed to admit to our perceived stupidity, we reply, “Sheesh.  I don’t know.  I must have been out of my mind,” to which the other person is more than happy to agree.  But now, we have an excuse.  We were temporarily out of our right mind and not stupid.

I am often asked, “what about those people who keep doing crazy things over and over, like Obsessive Compulsive behaviors, anxiety, depression, schizophrenic behaviors of hearing and seeing things that aren’t there?”  People do what works to ease their unhappiness, in some way or another, or they wouldn’t do them.  You just don’t see the how or the why of it.

These behaviors serve to ease their frustrations, even just a little bit, because they have learned that if they didn’t do them, their unhappiness and frustration would be much more intense than it is. Their seemingly crazy behaviors are the result of their creativity to find something that works.  All they know is that when they do them, they feel better than when they don’t do them.  Whatever their unhappiness or frustration is, it is something that is occurring right now, in this present time.  And if it has been a long term pattern of behavior, it will be found to have roots in an unsatisfying relationship with someone important to them.  Very few situations arise in our lives that lead to depression or anger that don’t involve conflict with someone important in our lives (including conflict with ourselves).

Remember your state of mind when you chose to do something that seemed like a good idea at the time that now, in retrospect, was totally out of character for you to have done?  More than likely, your frustration at that time didn’t last for any long term of several months or more and you got your senses back.  But think about the person whose frustration has been an ongoing for many months or perhaps years.  The behaviors that you see as mental illness in others are no different than the behavior you exhibited during your own frustration.  The only difference is that you may have found a more socially acceptable way to deal with it than they have.  While you may not hear voices, hallucinate, or shoot people, you may be depressing, anxieting, obsessing, bipolarizing, and/or resorting to drugs, alcohol, indiscriminant sex, gambling, or excessive spending.

Regardless of the behavior, it is still the result of a person’s creativity to deal with unhappiness and frustration of trying to control things that are beyond their control.  It will mostly be the result of an unsatisfying relationship with an important person in their life. When someone fails time after time to get their happiness needs met, they discover or create the first behavior that affords them some modicum of relief.

Once a person comes to the reality that there is nothing they can do to change another person and they eventually accept their situation as “it is what it is,” and by no longer trying to get what they can’t make happen; by no longer wanting what it is that they have been striving to make happen will they no longer have a need to rely on the behaviors they have developed to ease their frustration and unhappiness.

Who was/is the person with whom you were/are not having the relationship that you wanted to have when you jumped into the cactus patch?  You weren’t (aren’t) mentally ill.  You were/are not as mentally healthy as you could be. You were emotionally upset and seeking relief or resolution.  Since there is no medical, bio-pathological cause of what is being labeled as “mental illness,” there is no pharmaceutical cure for unhappiness.    Change what you want or change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.  There are no other successful or effective ways.

 

How to rid yourself of ants

By Corby D Meyer, LPC

What do you know about ants? I bet you’re thinking of the pesky, small creatures who are constantly working and occasionally spoiling your picnics. That’s not the kind I’m talking about though.

I’m talking about A.N.T.s or Automatic Negative Thoughts. I learned about it at a recent counselor conference I attended. The presenter offered a traditional behavioral theory that focused on activating events triggering automatic negative thoughts. The premise being that we can combat these A.N.T.s, thus changing our experiences. Because these responses are automatic, we do not understand that our negative thoughts are transforming into negative experiences. fallingapart

I was reminded of Dr. Glasser’s ideas regarding behavior. First is the premise that all behavior is total and comprised of the four component parts: acting/thinking/feeling/physiology. The second is his explanation of organizing and reorganizing behaviors. All behavior starts out as reorganizing or creative behaviors. But after we’ve done the same thing over and over and over again, it becomes organized, habitual, or some might say automatic. So when my presenter described “automatic thinking patterns” it reminded of Choice Theory psychology and how it describes organized habits that include thinking and the other three components of behavior.

The major difference between A.N.T.s and ideas from Choice Theory psychology is the A.N.T.s notion of Activating Events—the idea that something external to us can trigger our thoughts or actions. Choice Theory psychology explains that the event, our belief about the event, our thoughts, feelings, physiology and actions about the event are all happening inside us. We are internally motivated and controlled. The outside world, including any Activating Event, simply gives us information. How we interpret it or what we believe about it comes from our internal organized behaviors.

The next time you find yourself unhappy, discouraged, or angry about something, stop and examine your thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Whether you start changing your A.N.T.s or simply questions your beliefs and assumptions, you have the power to change your experience with all of the constant information you receive from the world. With some effort, you too might use the industrial focus of ants and change your negative experiences into more neutral or positive ones.

Can we learn to let go and move on?

By Dr. Ken Larsen

When I was a boy you had to talk to an operator to place a call.  Then we had rotary dial telephones.  Then we had push button dialing, then we had cordless phones, and now we have phones we carry in out shirt pocket that do many things, even make phone calls.  Most of us would call this progress.

What enabled us to progress from rotary dial phones to the modern smartphone was the ability to let go of the technology of the past in order to embrace the emerging technology of the future.  Imagine the progress we would have made had we all insisted on clinging to our rotary dial phones, condemning any innovation or progress in communications technology.

Kind of a silly notion, isn’t it?

graphIn his book “Choice Theory” Dr. Glasser introduced a graph illustrating the steep curve of progress of technology in our world.  He compared this graph of progress with the flat line graph showing no significant social progress among us.

I wonder if one reason for our inability to make social progress is our unwillingness to let things go.

Here is one dramatic example of what I mean.  Look at our penitentiary system.  It is a model of the conviction that bad behavior must be punished and that punishment will somehow change the person so he/she will no longer behave in destructive ways.  Isn’t that the philosophy that mandates sentencing guidelines and that is causing states to spend huge sums just to house the people that are being punished for their crimes?  When we ask “is this system working?” I think we have to acknowledge that it is not.  Is this approach actually rehabilitating criminals?  Or is it teaching young offenders to be better at their ill-chosen lifestyle?

My point here is that in order to move forward into a better approach to this problem we need to be willing to let go of our past conviction that punishment changes people.

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Finally, in our ongoing quest for mental health and happiness, I believe it would be good for all of us who sometimes struggle with mental health to look at beliefs and behaviors from our past that are not working for us today.  Apply what we have learned from our progress in technology, that in order to move into a better future, we need to let go of what is no longer working from our past.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘why?’.  I dream things that never were and ask, ‘why not?’”

Who Owns the Problem?

By Dr. Ken Larsen

The first time I heard this question asked I felt a new level of understanding open within me.

Before this question came into my life, I had found that when a problem arose one of two things resulted:

  • One was the reflexive reaction to find someone or something to blame.  Dr. Glasser defined this process clearly with the “Seven Deadly Habits.”
  • If someone or something could not be found to blame, then, too often I would take on the burden and blame myself.

deadlyhabitsThe problem with this kind of thinking is that the energy that could be used to solve the problem is being dissipated in the “blame game.”

As I pondered this question I came to see that “owning” the problem is simply taking responsibility.  It does not necessarily assign fault.  In his book “Reality Therapy” Dr. Glasser made the simple statement that we could replace the words “mental health” with “responsibility”.

“Owning” the problems that are the inevitable challenges of life is simply realizing our own power to choose the course of action that will be most helpful.

supportinghabitsSometimes we encounter situations where we personally don’t “own” the problem, but are aware of the someone who does.  Once again we have a choice as to how we think about and relate to the other person owning the problem.  Do we lapse into the “7 Deadlies”?  or have we accepted our own “response-ability” to apply one or more of the “7 Caring habits” in support of the other person?

Next time you are faced with one of life’s challenges, ask yourself the question, “who owns the problem?” And then use your “response-ability” to make the necessary choices.

 

 

Unhappy for no reason

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Are you employed by another? How often do you feel frustrated because you have little or no choice about the decisions you make? Are you a parent? How often do you feel as though your children are trying to be in charge of you instead of the other way around resulting in you pressing harder to prove you are the parent with the power? Are you in an intimate love relationship? Do you have moments as a couple when you want and pull for one important thing while your partner wants and pulls in a different direction?

It can feel hard, exhausting, challenging and confusing when faced with any one of the above. Feeling unhappy, out of sorts and out of balance when dealing with these kinds of problems may be an understandable and even effective strategy. Your heart and brain are driving you to search and find good answers and solutions. Here is one solution you may not have considered.

canstockphoto0374035Shift your point of view and perspective. And do this shifting to a completely unrelated topic from your problem at hand. Shift to something by either going very small and mundane or very large and broad.

When going small, find the smallest joy or briefest moment during the course of the day where you feel grateful, joyful or at peace. It won’t necessarily help solve your problem. Instead it will give your brain a break, a moment of relief and flood of pleasure chemicals adding to your feeling of well being. This just may help open you to more solutions and ideas. Continue this practice frequently instead of simply staying stuck in your “I have to figure this out” behavior.

Or go BIG. At the end of your life do you think you will still be stuck in your present dilemma? Boy, I hope not and I bet you do too. And chances are “this too shall pass.” But in the meantime, spend some time asking yourself bigger questions, like Why are you here? Do you believe there is a God? What evidence do you have to support your belief? Is there life on another planet? Human? Do you believe or imagine you lived a previous life? Even if you don’t believe, who might you have been? Get the idea? Start asking yourself and contemplating the BIG questions about the meaning of life and more. This will give you time to be an explorer, searching in unknown and unknowable territory. The result may just be opening your mind to new, different and maybe even helpful ideas and perspectives when you return to your problem.

Even though it feels as though you are facing the impossible, considering and contemplating life in the micro and macrocosm can help give you much needed stress relief and maybe even good and new solutions.