Tag Archives: beliefs

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

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

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

Thoughts for strong:

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

Thoughts for compassionate:

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

Thoughts for detached:

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

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

Actions for strong:

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

Actions for compassionate:

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

Thoughts for detached:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Types of Quality World Pictures

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

 

 At this point it will probably be pretty obvious what I mean when I refer to types of Quality World pictures. I think there are two basic types: a) “Pictures of how I want the world to be which will still allow me to be who I am today,” and b) “Pictures of me being the person I want to be (probably involving changing who I am today) when the situation does not match what I want.”

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Based on experiences in our lives, we select from all that we have seen certain of those that represent to us the highest quality that we can imagine at that moment. We choose, both consciously and unconsciously, pictures of people, places, things, activities and qualities which we believe are both our ideals and our best chance of being loving, powerful, playful and free. Implied in these pictures is the basic belief that we can actualize these blueprints without having to change much about who we are.  I call these “Ideal World – Actual Me pictures. Because we live in a world dominated by the thinking of external control psychology, we may also ascribe the things we choose with the supposed power to “make“ us happy. The underlying assumption is that if I can get what I have selected as my ideal pictures, I will definitely be happy. The reality is that no external picture can “make” us happy, but the road we follow to achieve it may lead to our being happy when we get there.

As I have mentioned, we often put too much energy into pictures of the way we want the world to be. If those are the predominant pictures we create, we actually reduce our chances of mental health and happiness. To open the doors to mental health and happiness, we need to have a lot more pictures of us being the people we want to be regardless of whether we get what we want or not. We should develop pictures of both what our ideal job looks like as well as pictures of how we can be happy in a less than ideal job. We can have pictures of the college we want our kids to go to, but we should also have pictures about how to be supportive parents if our children choose another direction. I call these pictures “Actual World – Ideal Me” pictures. If we don’t have them, we get too attached to specific outcomes and we start having to exert varying degrees of control over the people in our lives to guarantee those outcomes; that coercion often leads to the destruction of relationships.

To maintain a healthy balance between both types of pictures, we should constantly be asking ourselves, “What would I ideally like to see happen in this situation?” AND “If I were the person I wanted to be, how I would handle it if this situation does not turn out as I hope it will? We are then free to live our lives without fear of reality… we can imagine being happy with the outcomes we want, and we can imagine being happy if things don’t turn out our way.

The Blind Leading the Blind (and they all fall down)

by Mona Dunkin

You’ve heard the story of the blind men describing an elephant.  Each man was exposed to a different part of the elephant and each man described that part of the elephant in keeping with something he was familiar with.  The leg was ‘kinda like’ a tree. The tail was ‘kinda like’ a rope.  According to the poem by John Sykes, each of the blind men were “partly right, yet all of them were wrong.”

Blindness is equated with ignorance; not to be stupid, but something you don’t know. All we have in life is our experiences, beliefs, faith and encounters with things we don’t understand.  Everything we know comes through filters and when our filters are clogged that is just another form of darkness, or ignorance.

One only knows what one knows. Conversely, we don’t know what we don’t know.

In keeping with the Law of Attraction, the blind men married blind wives. The blind wives bought into the perception of the blind husbands. Whether it was genetic disposition or cultural hangover, the blind men and the blind wives produced blind children – and grandchildren who blindly bought into the ‘kinda-like-common-sense” concepts. They believed, bought into and passed on to future generations the distortion of what the elephant looked like and/or who he was.

All of us blindly carry cultural conditionings with us. Not that that is wrong, it’s just limiting.

Although we live in an expanding universe, our day-to-day exposure is mostly confined to the familiar.

perceptionOur comparing place is always working – whether to accurately interpret or to distort. It happens as we try to see what we want to see.  All of our senses bring experiences into our world. We believe what we believe until we believe something different. Or until we see differently.

All we can get from the real world (people, places, things) is information. Information itself is not the problem. How we handle it may be. Same information: one chooses anger, one chooses indifference and one chooses acceptance.  Whether it is a 6 or a 9 depends on one’s point of view. It’s nothing to go to war over.

The moral of this little tale is this. We may unknowingly damage our own health and limit our own happiness by blindly assuming what something (or someone) else is like.

The way we challenge our perceptions is through more information; outward as well as inward. Hearing another’s point of view as well as examining our own wisdom-heart for truth. Look into the mysteries of the universe. Adopt an air of curiosity with no judgment. Push self beyond limited boundaries. Find beauty in life and growth through difficult circumstances. Engage in an empty, hungry, patient outward gaze into the ordinary. And discover there is no such thing as an ordinary day.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but..

by Dr. Ken Larsen

The inner turmoil that comes from conflict can rob us of our mental health and happiness.

Much of that inner turmoil, I believe, comes from the compulsion to “be right.”

I recently heard Tara Brach make the claim that the world is divided by those who think they are right.

bullhornI cringe at the lack of civility in so many clashes of opinion. I have to wonder what makes people think that denigrating another will convince them of much of anything.

There seems to be a trend to belittle and call names to those who may have a differing point of view.

Can we simply state our position, and then listen carefully to the other, trying to understand?

A quote from Wayne Dyer recently floated through Facebook.  It got a lot of “likes”.  Here’s the quote:

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”

Most of us strongly oppose bullying.  I believe we need to stop and recognize that the disrespectful attacks on another because their beliefs don’t coincide with yours is a form of bullying.  A bully seeks to overpower another.  This can be done on the playground, or it can happen in the political arena, or any place where opinions clash.  How about the old proverb, “live and let live.”?

The common bond of our humanity takes precedence over our differing opinions.  Aren’t we tired of history repeating itself time and time again with the clashes that lead to violence?  These clashes have an understandable beginning.  One person is convinced he is right and is equally convinced that the other person is wrong.  Can we step back a bit and look at ourselves, listening to what we are thinking and saying about others?  Then ask if what we are doing is getting us what we want.  If we step away from the sort of hostility I am describing, I believe we have a better chance to maintain our mental health and happiness.

 

It may be real, but is it true?

Dr. Ken Larsen

Centuries ago the prevailing view was that the earth was the center of the universe.  This was a real belief and it dominated the thinking of scholars and the church.

boatIt was also largely held that the earth was flat and that to go too far, was to fall off the edge.

Through the ages certain beliefs have directed our thinking and influenced our behavior.  All of those beliefs were real.  Many of those beliefs were not true.

Copernicus and Galileo did a little investigating to verify the then established “truth” that the earth was the center of the universe. We know what happened next.  It nearly cost Galileo his life to dare to point out the truth that the earth was NOT the center of the universe.  Christopher Columbus dared to defy the prevailing “truth” that to sail too far, was to fall off the edge of the world.

As I think about human history, I wonder how many of those real beliefs that are not true remain in our collective thinkingWe know that our beliefs shape our thinking which in turn affects our behavior which further impacts our relationships with our world and the people in it.

I’m thinking in particular about those beliefs that separate us as humans and which ultimately have an impact on our mental health and happiness by keeping us separate and apart from one another.

Through our evolution we were bonded to our tribal groupings, which fostered a “them” and “us” outlook.  “They” were the potential danger to us and we needed to separate from and guard ourselves against them.

For many of us our tribal connections are history, yet our conditioned beliefs about “them and us” often remain, causing a residual prevailing suspicion that leads to conflict, division and strife.

We see this in many of our interpersonal relationships, where some of us look at others of us and see “them” rather than recognizing the deeper level of our connections to one another.  This separation makes it easy to blame “them” for our problems, tragically leading to animosity and violence against “them”.  Of course “they” have similar beliefs about us.  And the whole thing just keeps on keeping on.

Can we realize that the world is divided by those who think they are right?  Can we further realize that all this “being right” ultimately leads to some big “wrongs” that continue to feed the hatred and violence that have afflicted our species for far too long?

I believe the collective angst that hangs over us is one of the major obstacles to a more complete experience of mental health and happiness.  The international tensions and conflicts and wars have been a dark cloud hovering over us, keeping us in a constant state of uncertainty.

What can we do?  One suggestion is to begin a process of investigating those beliefs that bring us into conflict with one another.  Can we be honest enough to realize that many of those beliefs have been handed down to us?  Can we be courageous enough to aggressively ask ourselves “is this true?”

If we start with those things that are interfering with our mental health and happiness in our personal relationships, we can establish a foothold in progress.  We can do this by asking ourselves in all our relationships, “is what I am doing or about to do bringing us closer together or driving us further apart?” At that point we can make a choice to make a difference.

 

 

 

 

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters

Dr. Ken Larsen

In our efforts to maintain or regain mental health and happiness I believe it is important to understand the internal processes that influence why we do what we do and why we feel what we feel.

A cornerstone of understanding ourselves is to study the differences between “sensations “and the subsequent “perceptions” that guide our choices in behavior.

William James, recognized as the father of American Psychology, devoted three chapters of his monumental book, “The Principles of Psychology”, (first published in 1890.) to what he described as the functions of sensations and perceptions and how they are different, and why it is important to understand the difference.

Most succinctly we can describe sensations as the data gathered from the real world outside ourselves through our senses.  Sensations are what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

whatconcernsme

The information from our senses is then interpreted by what we already know about the world around us, and by what we value and believe about that world.  This interpreted data is what we call “perceptions”.  What is most important to know and remember about perceptions is that we put them together ourselves, we construct them in our mind to form what Dr. Glasser called “the perceived world.”

It is this perceived world that is more real to us than the real world because it is what guides our choices as we relate to our external world and all that this world contains, especially our relationships.  We’ve heard the expression “stinkin thinkin”.  This is a way for us to sabotage ourselves with our own thinking.

If this is true, the good news is that we can change our “stinkin thinkin” by changing what is going on in my personally constructed perceived world.

I experienced a major “Aha!” in my life when I first saw that our perceived world was an internal construction based on my past experiences, what I have learned, what I value and believe.  The corollary to this insight is that if my learning or my values or my beliefs are shaping perceptions that are not needs satisfying, I can change.  Changing my perceptions changes my behavioral choices, and changes my experience of the world I live in.

An example of how wrong perceptions can lead to tragic consequences is the death of George Washington.  He had what started out as a sore throat.   Physicians were brought in to treat the sore throat.  One common treatment option in those days was bloodletting.  “Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were regarded as “humors” that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.”  In Washington’s case, this bloodletting killed him.

Physicians saw the symptoms.  They then formed a perception of the cause of those symptoms, which led to an ineffective, even disastrous, treatment.

The lesson for all of us is that if what we are doing is not getting us what we want, we can pause, step back and evaluate how our internal beliefs about reality are influencing our choices.  Based on new insights, we can change our behavior to more effectively get what we want.  Or we can change what we want, based on a new understanding of what is motivating us.

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.  Tony Robbins

 

Dialogue or Diatribe?

Dr. Ken Larsen

The world is divided by those who think they are right.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  This familiar quote from Gandhi is an invitation to make our world a better place.  There is a parallel saying and that is “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  Like the Miss America contestants, we all want peace in our world.

diatribe

I suggest that the absence of peace is conflict.  While there is little I can do about global conflicts, there is a lot I can do with the conflicts in my relationships.  One place to start is in our conversations with one another.  Dialogue is the free exchange of ideas and experiences.  It is a chance to see the world through the eyes of the other.  The most fundamental element in dialogue that leads to mental health and happiness is to make understanding the foundation.  Too often interpersonal communication ends in disagreement and conflict based not on understanding, but on a lack of understanding.   Each person in the dialogue has a legitimate point of view.   If one tries to deny the experience of the other and try to control the other to see things his way, we have a serious breakdown in the conversation and in the relationship.  If we agree that disagreement has no right to take place until understanding has been achieved, we are making progress.  It’s OK to “agree to disagree” but in order to have any integrity it is important that each person understands the point of view of the other before moving into disagreement.

Dr. Glasser talked about “external control” as a major contributor to conflict, unhappiness, and breakdown in relationships.

The way we circumvent external control is to recognize that I can only control my behavior.  When I slip into seeing my point of view as correct and the other’s point of view as wrong, we have a problem.  This may result in an “Archie Bunker” kind of diatribe against the other, insisting the other is wrong while you are right.  The result of this behavior is a growing hostility and enmity toward the other.

I mentioned earlier that there is little I can do about global conflicts.   But, if I understand the value of dialogue as a way to see the world as the other sees it, maybe I can have a small impact on what is going on in our world.  If I recognize that the diatribe often associated with condemning the other is based on ignorance I can make an effort to become informed.  I can seek to see the world as the other sees the world.  And in that process, maybe I can find a common link that we can build on.

In my own life, I have made an effort to get to know others who are different from me.  With respect and healthy curiosity I have found truly delightful opportunities to see the world through the eyes of people from other cultures and background.

We know that our attitudes and behavior toward others is based on our experience and beliefs about the other.  When we allow our beliefs to be formed by the unexamined opinions spoon fed to us, we have given away something of ourselves.  When listening to a media report on the “news” can we ask ourselves the simple question, “Is this true?”, or is it pre-digested propaganda that we have accepted without question?

In our relationships and in our world, there are differences.  That is what diversity is all about and it is good.  There is also common ground that we can use to build bridges between us.  Let’s build some more bridges.

For a short two minute video illustrating these principals click here

http://youtu.be/_0cdIQmZxWY

Crowded Closets…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

I was looking in my closet this morning.  I compared my side with my wife Sheren’s side.

cluttered closetMy side is crowded and cluttered making that favorite shirt hard to find.

Her side is neat and well organized with all items clearly visible and available.

What is the difference??

I keep everything.  Like Bill Cosby, I’ll keep wearing it until there’s nothing left but the elastic waist band.

She discards it if it hasn’t been used in a year.

neatclosetI’ve been seeing how important it is to let go of what is no longer useful or helpful in my walk through life.

Now I have to apply that realization to my closet.

Good Will, here I come!

Seriously, I think it is a good thing to take an inventory of our beliefs and behaviours from time to time.

Take a look at what is working.   We need to keep those beliefs and behaviours that help us make progress in getting our needs met and that help us stay close to those we love and care about.

At the same time, take a look at what is not working for us.  Do we find ourselves  repeatedly in undesirable situations?  Do we find ourselves not as close to loved ones as we’d like to be? Maybe some caring and careful self evaluation might be helpful.  There is much wisdom available, some of which was brought out in the Mental Health and Happiness Summit on October 10th.

We’ve learned that life involves a lifetime of learning.  And learning is not changing what you know as much as it is changing what you do.

Join me in cleaning out the closet.