Tag Archives: courage

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.

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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.

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 1 – Going Back to Basic Principles

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


For many people, the recent election has provided a test of their capacity to stay centered and happy, especially given what they may see is a dire future ahead. There are, conversely, many who are ecstatically happy as they bathe in the belief that our next president will help them get what they want. In either case, this election has created more stress and contentiousness than any I can remember in my 49 years of voting.

It also means that many people who have been used to feeling powerful and in the “right,” may be feeling disconnected with their communities, their work colleagues and their fellow citizens. Many are feeling like “strangers in a strange land,” unable to connect with those around them and experiencing a true sense of being aliens in their communities. Primary responses to this have been angering, depressing, pessimism, and projecting deep emotions on events that have not happened yet. That coupled with the thought, “How could these idiots be thinking what they did?” leads to feeling very out of balance and in many cases, severely lonely.

The challenge seems obvious, “How can I maintain my center and a positive sense of being when I feel severely out of balance in the world around me?” Not surprisingly, this means we have to be ever more intentional about our actions in maintaining our mental health and happiness. It also gives us a chance to understand how Internal Control Psychology can be the foundation of this process. In the beginning, taking control of our emotional well-being means we have to remember a few foundational principles, as well as asking some very important questions of ourselves and others.

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The primary foundational principle we might be well to remember is that overall our metal health is determined by our ability to be loving, powerful, playful and free in whatever situation we find ourselves. If we cannot do that, we will be out of balance and likely blame the external situation for our unhappiness. It is easy to be loving in a situation where we feel supported and valued; it is much harder in a situation where we feel judged, alone and out of step with those around us. The same is true about being powerful, playful and free. If the world presents conditions in which we can easily be these things, it is easier to choose to create these emotions from the inside out. If we perceive our world as full of stupid people, or as a place where we can’t laugh because of how bad things are, or a place where we feel trapped as we see options shrinking in the future, we have to work much harder at following these psycho/spiritual instructions.

To be loving, powerful, playful and free regardless of the world around us, we have to bring to bear imagination, skills and courage.  In order to live in any environment, disparate or not, we must have accurate blueprints (pictures) of what it would look like if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free. We must move from the principle/values level to a more specific description of the actions, thoughts and emotions that we would be using if we were effectively following our instructions in that specific situation. Generalities are not helpful.

For example, if we have a relative whose political beliefs differ dramatically from our own, our initial choice of behavior may be anger, incredulity, judgment and disgust. We may feel these are totally appropriate given the situation, but if our goal is mental health and happiness, being “right” or focusing only on getting that relative to change their mind will be ineffective. Our first step in gaining balance must be creating a new blueprint which illustrates and defines for us what we would be doing, thinking, and feeling if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free at the same time that our relative continues to be who they are, not who we want them to be. This is the imagination piece.


How do we imagine a new vision of ourselves being in balance when we believe the world outside us is “wrong,” or crazy or unacceptable? This is very hard because we often don’t want to let go of our current way of processing things, and we probably won’t until the pain and ineffectiveness become bad enough to consider letting go, or until we realize that in maintaining our anger, judgment, and rigid behavior, we are becoming the very kind of person we have railed against.

The first step, imagination, means developing a vision of a balanced and happy self. We need a blueprint before we can create a behavior.  Being happy does not occur in difficult situations without a new level of intentionality in creating these blueprints. It means asking the question, “If I were balanced and happy, how would I be feeling in this situation?” The answer to that question will determine where we head next.

Let’s say for example, that our answer is “I’d be feeling strong, compassionate and detached (rather than infuriated, manipulated, out of control and judgmental). From there we have to create the thinking and actions that would accompany those feelings, and then act on those thoughts and actions whether we feel like it or not. One of the hardest parts in this stage is that we may be very attached to our ineffective behaviors; it feels unfair to us that we have to change when others are wrong. We may want to hold onto our “rightness,” and see how long we can get away with ignoring our basic instructions.

One thought that makes happiness almost unattainable goes something like this: “I need others to act in the ways I want them to act in order for me to feel the way I want to feel.” This way lies unhappiness. The road to true inner balance can only be attained in thinking, “I have the ability to create the emotions I desire in my life in spite of the actions of others. I don’t need to have others change for me to be happy.”

Next time: Part Two: Imagination, Skills and Courage

Skills & Courage-Further necessities for change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fear: Part 3

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.

 

 

 

Going Beyond Our Beliefs

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

My whole life I have been limited by my own imagination. I mistakenly believed that what I could imagine was as good as it could get. I was convinced that my mind was showing me a future which was reality, not aware at all that it was my personal fantasy often based years of limited thinking and fear-based projection.

Not really understanding that has hindered me continually. When I think about a change in my life or aspiring to be more honest or thoughtful or loving, I need to realize that what I envision may have very little to do with the actual possibility of who I might become. If I let go of my own expectations and both trust the process and seek the advice of people who have what I want, I am much more likely to go beyond my expectations than if I assume they are real and finite.

This has played itself out in what I consider to be my personal mantra:  “ Show Up, Pay Attention, Tell the Truth and Release the Outcome.” Releasing the outcome is crucial in the process of personal change or we get to a place where we don’t see what is “there,” we only see what we expect to be “there.”

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A friend of mine has been in AA for years, and as we talked about this idea, he related the story of a member he respected who always said, “If you keep coming to AA, your life will be more beautiful than you can imagine. And if you don’t believe that, please believe that I believe that.” He told me that speaker gave him something to think about, and allowed him to piggy-back on that member’s faith in ways he was not yet able to do himself. He went on to say that he had listened to speakers who talked about their connection with a higher power in ways he never could have imagined. They helped him break out of his rigid “religion-based” view of a higher power and break open a new “spiritual” view that he was able to work with and today is the foundation of his life.

I continue to look for people who can help me dream beyond my own dreams.  At some level, I need to remember that “If you want to be a man you need to see a man,” or “If I want to be loving, I need to see loving.” There are so many people who don’t realize that their greatest gift to the world is just showing up and being themselves; just showing up and being willing to live life in their own unique way. By seeing lives that surpass our own in areas in which we want to excel emotionally , we are all able to forge new awarenesses of the people we might become.

Thanks you to those of you who showed me the kind of courage I never thought existed; to those of you who showed me the faith I never believed attainable; and to those of you who showed me the kind of honesty I didn’t think was possible in the real world. When I see these things, I can no longer pretend they are simply ideals with no foundation. I see they are real and I am challenged and drawn toward those aspirations myself.

My AA friend said it his own way: “I have become someone I never thought I could because I saw people in real life who were sober the way I want to be sober. “It’s simple, he said. “If you want to be sober, you have to see sober.”

 

 

Fears and Courage

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Dance like nobody’s watching
Love like you’ve never been hurt
Sing like nobody’s listening
Live like it’s Heaven on earth

Chances are good that there is something in your life that you would love to do but you’re just too afraid. Perhaps you really want to go to the beach but are afraid to be seen in your swimsuit. Or maybe you want to finally pursue running for a political office but talk yourself out of this action, claiming your’e just being arrogant. Or maybe it’s something more modest, like asking the person you’d like to get to know better to join you for coffee, but you fear rejection.

One of the reasons the above is such a popular poster is because it speaks to the fear we all feel. There are very few among us who do not feel held back in one area or another in life because of fears.

Our fear is actually biologically based. The amygdala in an old part of our brain deve- loped to scare us into staying safe, avoiding risks, dangers or potential adventures. Why? The basic need for survival means we stay safe, secure and alive, at least long enough to procreate so the species will survive. (Remember we’re talking biology here.)

However, the need for freedom and fun/learning comes from the newer part of our brain. These drives contribute to learning, adventuring, and expanding beyond what is known and safe with amazing outcomes for the species and for each person individually. Leaving the comfort of your home enabled you to meet more and different people. You may have discovered how to fly without an airplane by risking down-hill skiing or sailing. And all of our technological advances resulted from brave and courageous people going beyond the boundary of what is safe, secure and known. (Remember the stories you learned about scientist whose ideas were/are criticized for pushing beyond what was/is known?)

Do you consider yourself a courageous person? Being courageous does not mean being fearless. Courage means taking action, stepping forward and speaking up in spite of feeling afraid!

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Whether you consider yourself courageous or not, the fact is that you are courageos!
How do I know? Because you could not be living as long as you are, changing, growing and developing to where you are now, without taking risks, accepting adventures and going beyond your previous boundaries. Yes, you may have been frightened. But despite the fear you did it anyway. Remember this the next time you feel too frightened to do something new. You are a successful, courageous adventurer already!

Start improving your Mental Health & Happiness today by taking a risk, accepting the next challenge, stepping into the unknown even though you feel afraid. Change the story in your head convincing you that:

you can’t do it, he/she/they won’t like you
you’re not good enough you might fail.

Start telling your self new stories like:

YOU CAN DO IT! YOU’LL LIKE YOU BETTER IF YOU TAKE A CHANCE!
FAILING ONLY COMES FROM NOT TRYING! GO FOR IT!
WHAT A GREAT ADVENTURE!

At first, you may need to counter balance your fearful thoughts with the new, bold thoughts. When you practice enough, you will start replacing the fearful with the courageous more automatically.

Improving your Mental Health & Happiness means you will be:

Dancing whether anyone is watching or not
Loving ferociously and fearlessly
Singing while you listen to your beauty
Living in Heaven here on Earth

Well Done! Good Job! ‘Ata girl!

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

My very first job evaluation occurred six months after starting my very first job as a professional nurse in a private psychiatric hospital. My boss and evaluator was the psychiatrist of the Day Hospital in the second oldest private psychiatric hospital in the country. He told me that I was performing up to expectation and had made no errors. He had no complaints.

I was confused and unhappy with this evaluation. What had I done well? Where were areas for growth and improvement? Did I add any value to the team? Were there particular skills I could improve? Did I bring any gifts and where were my challenges? None of these questions were answered or even addressed. I didn’t realize these were questions I had and feedback I craved until after the evaluation was complete. Nothing more could be done at this point because Dr. M had checked me off his “to do”list.

Six months later I was sitting with Dr. M again, this time for my first yearly review. He gave me the same kinds of answers and feedback that he had at our first meeting. This time I was prepared though. This time I asked for feedback on what I was doing well, what contribution he felt I was making, and where did he recommend I could improve the quality of my work.

His answer left me confused and unhappy yet again. He said he could not provide me with these answers. The fact that I needed and wanted this kind of feedback indicated that I was young and inexperienced. He then showed me to the door, and checked this task off his “to do”list yet again.

Based on his feedback I gave this a great deal of thought and self-reflection. It was true that I was young and inexperienced. It was also true that my parents provided me with their feedback which included my strengths and areas to focus for growth and learning. So had all of my teachers.

By the time my second yearly evaluation was pending I still was interested in feedback I could use as information to self-evaluate. Maybe I was young and inexperienced, and I still wanted information to help me do my job well. I went into this evaluation prepared to get what I wanted.

Dr. M started the review as he had previously. Once he completed sharing with me all his “satisfactory”checks on the list for employee job performance review he looked at me. I was ready.

Dr. M, can you provide me with any additional feedback regarding the quality of my work

He shook his head no, bent elbows resting on his chair, and folded hands blocking his mouth. My advanced skills at reading non verbal communication led me to believe he planned on saying nothing further.

I would still like this kind of feedback. Perhaps it is because I’m young and inexperienced, but I would find it helpful. Here is my plan that I want to share with you before I implement it. I’m going to ask my work colleagues to please provide me with immediate feedback when and if they see me doing a particularly good job. I would like the same kind of immediate feedback if anyone notices when I do something that could be improved upon. I ask that people share the improvement bit in private.

Do you have any objection to my plan, Dr. M? 

He did not.

What happened next was amazing and very satisfying. At our next team meeting (we had these meeting twice a day) I shared with my colleagues what I wanted and asked if they felt they could offer me this feedback.

Yes! was the unanimous reply. And EVERYONE else on the team stated they would like the same feedback given to them.

WOW! The age range of our team was great, some young, some middle and some older. The experience range was equally diverse. Perhaps my desire for feedback was not related to my age or lack of experience.

I learned a lot of things from that life lesson. I learned that what I want does not matter less because of my boss’s opinion. It does not matter more than what other people want including my boss. But it does matter.  And it is my job to figure out how to get what I want.

The biggest lesson I learned was this. Asking for what I want takes courage. And asking for what I want increases the chances that I will get what I want.

Acceptance

By Kim Olver

When I think of accepting, the Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And the wisdom to know the difference.

There is however, a Choice Theory modification to this prayer and it goes like this: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change;
Courage to change the one I can; 
And the wisdom to know that person is me! 

When we truly accept another person as he or she is, we no longer experience anger, frustration and resentment, hence the “serenity.” If you find yourself still resenting the other person, angry they won’t change, and/or frustrated with their behavior, you haven’t really accepted, have you? You are still attempting to change the other person, even though you may no longer be actively using deadly habits. You are still using emotions to coerce the other person to bend to your will.

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Acceptance sounds something like this: “I know I haven’t accepted certain things about you in the past. I even tried many things to get you to see it my way and to change. But from this day forward, I am accepting every part of you. I am no longer trying to change you. It is your life and you get to live it in the way that is best for you.”

Then you have a decision to make. Just because you accept someone and their right to live their life however they choose, does not mean you want to stay in a connected relationship with that person. It is your job to take care of yourself. If you want something from another person . . . let’s say it’s your sister and you want her to stop using drugs . . . you can accept her as a person and accept her right to make decisions that may be self-destructive but that doesn’t mean you have to be a bystander witness to her self-destruction. You may choose to disengage from someone whose choices are painful to you.

If you are in a marriage and your spouse is cheating on you, you may accept him or her and recognize your spouse has the right to make that choice but that doesn’t mean you need to stay married and watch.

Is there something about an important person in your life you have been resisting? Are you ready to move in the direction of accepting that thing, whatever it is?