I Think I Can Get Away With It
by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D
Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org
I know a relatively large number of people who are having trouble with anxiety as they move into their elder years. They are anxious about the future, anxious about money, kids, weather and just about everything else, and they spend a great deal of time acting as if it were not their fault that they are feeling this way. Like a compulsive overeater who continues to eat bread and sugar but seems continually dumbfounded that they are gaining weight, denial and “hoping we can get away with it” go hand in hand.
As the anxiety becomes more pronounced in their lives, they generally don’t want to hear that the state of anxiety they are dealing with now is a direct result of their not facing their fearing and anxiety in earlier years. Essentially they hoped they could avoid facing their destructive patterns; they hoped they could outrun it, evade it or deny it long enough so that the full force of the pattern wouldn’t catch them. They would then have gotten away with allowing themselves years of unchecked fear and anxiety without having to pay any price. Every emotion has a cost; some are very expensive (anger, resentment, jealousy) some have very little cost (generosity, gratitude and kindness), but there is “no free lunch.” Just as we can’t continue to spend well beyond our income, the cost of certain emotions can bankrupt us if we continue to create them over time.
We can get addicted to emotions just as we can to substances, and the root of much of this is the false belief that “I can get away with it.” We think we can stay angry at a spouse and not have it eventually cost us our relationship; we think we can stay resentful at our sister and not have it affect the family strength; we think we can continue to be fearful and anxious without eventually weakening the entire framework of our mental health and happiness. With discipline, courage, thoughtful planning and good tools (see Fear #2) we can change directions. Without all three, our future may have more unpleasant surprises for us than we would hope for.
by Dr. Ken Larsen
“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” — Pete Seege
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.
by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
Have you ever had a project or an idea that you were excited to see become a reality? How long were you willing to work hard without seeing any concrete positive results? Perhaps you’re the kind of person who only needs a little bit of evidence to reassure you that you are on the right track. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who throws up your hands in surrender if your first attempt results in failure followed by your second unsuccessful attempt to your last and final attempt. With failure number three your ambition and willingness to keep trying also evaporates.
What makes one person willing and able to hang in for the long haul while another succumbs to setbacks and quits in discouragement? What makes one person resilient and confident while another may not even have the psychological strength and sufficient belief to even take the first step and dream?
Some psychological researchers say the difference is grit. (Want to measure your grit? search for “Grit Survey”by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth if you want to find out your grit score). Dr. Glasser called it psychological strength. His 1976 book Positive Addiction explained not only what psychological strength is, but what we each could do to build and increase our psychological strength. With greater psychological strength we experience increased confidence, perseverance and creativity.
Could one of the side effects of increased psychological strength be increased grit? If you developed a greater capacity to pursue your long term goals with passion and perseverance would you increase your Mental Health & Happiness? Imagine feeling psychologically stronger, more creative and confident. Do you believe you would also feel happier and mentally healthier?
If you’re willing to give this a try, here is what you need to do (or continue doing, or modify what you are already doing.) Glasser’s recipe for building psychological strength, resilience, grit, and confidence include the following criteria:
- Non-competitive activity
- Can be done easily without worry about need to do it well or continually improving
- Can be done alone preferably (so that you remain non-competitive and non-critical).
- Believe this act will add to your life’s value, spiritually, physically, emotionally
- Believe that persisting in this activity will add to your sense of physical and psychological well being
- Can do it in a non-critical way
What you do is not as important as developing a daily diligent habit that meets the above criteria. To help inspire you below are some ideas:
Jogging Praying Hit golf balls Swinging a baseball bat
Meditating Walking Hiking Gardening
Biking Yoga Juggling Playing musical instrument
Singing Painting Sand castle building Cooking
by Dr. Nancy Buck
What do you believe about people? Do you believe people are basically good, kind and loving? Do you believe that people are selfish, just out for what they can get or gain in any situation?
Do you believe people are lazy and trying to do as little as possible and yet receive as much as possible? Do you believe that people are generous and friendly?
There is an old story about a farmer working in his field that is along side a road. A car stops with the driver asking the farmer, “What kind of people live in this town? I’m thinking of moving here and would like to know”
“What kind of people lived in your former town?” the farmer asked.
“They were a really nice bunch. People always willing to offer a helping hand to one another.”
“That’s the same kind of people who live here too,” the farmer tells him
A little while later another driver stops his car along side the farmer asking the same question.
“I’m thinking about moving to this town and would like to know what kind of people live here.”
“What kind of people live in the town where you presently live,” asks the farmer.
“They are just awful. You never met such a stingy, selfish bunch in your life,” the fellow replies.
“That’s the same kind of people who live here too,” the farmer tells him.
Let me ask again; What do you believe about people?
Huh. Isn’t it interesting that what you believe is what you discover about people.
Want to change the kind of people there are in your world? Start believing differently. Get curious instead of judgmental. You just might discover that when you have a change of heart in your belief about people there will be a change in the people that you meet.