Tag Archives: deadly habits

Turn Your Complaints Inside Out

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Complaining is one of the deadly habits that can help destroy relationships, according to William Glasser. Most of us can quickly name the expert complainer in our own lives. Sadly, this is the person we try to avoid. And sometimes the complaining person is yourself whom it is impossible to avoid.

Quite simply stated, complaining is unattractive and detrimental to our mental health and happiness.

However, complaining is part of human nature. Why? Because our brain is set up that way. Here’s the bad news: our brain is hardwired to notice what is not right, or off, or a mismatch between what we want and what we perceive we’re getting in our world. This brain attribute is necessary for our survival. But this also means our brain notices almost everything that is wrong in the world, according to us. When we notice out loud it sounds like complaining.

Most of us occasionally comment about these mismatches, or differences. Some people comment and point this out a lot—ugh! (If you want to read a plethora of celebrations of complaints about these mismatches spend time reading Facebook posts.This is our present public forum where we complain and like the world as it should or should not be according to us — just as our brain is designed to do.)

If you spend any time on social media you may have noticed advice from some recent blogs regarding happiness. We are encouraged to stop complaining for twenty-four hours. Great idea! Great advice! However this is easier said than done. Our brain keeps getting in the way, noticing and pointing out all that’s wrong: the weather, the traffic, the temperature of our morning brew, our co-workers, our relatives, our neighbors, our politicians, and on and on and on it goes. And when we comment on all of these things, it comes out as complaining.

If today is the day you want to give up complaining for twenty-four hours to improve your Mental Health & Happiness, here are some tips to honor your brain and still succeed. When you notice what is wrong start asking yourself what you want instead of complaining about what is wrong.

It will sound like this “There are no more seats in this waiting room. I would like to sit down. I’ll sit on the floor.” or “There are no more seats in this waiting room. I would like to sit down but I’ll take this opportunity to stretch.”

Today, every time you notice something worth complaining about, start declaring what you want instead. Are you able to get what you want? Good for you. Are you able to change what you want instead? Does that help? Are you able to see the advantage or alternate payoff for getting something different from what you want? Does that help?

An additional strategy is giving thanks and being grateful for what you’ve noticed in the world, yourself and other people, even if your first impression is a complaint: (aim for a neutral tone and avoid a sarcasm)

I’m grateful for the traffic that will make me late for work.

I’m grateful for the package that has still not arrived in the mail.

I’m grateful that my co-worker is refusing to help me complete this project.

I’m grateful that my brother is not answering my calls, texts or messages. 

canstockphoto15119958Once you’ve declared your gratitude, let it go and move on. You may discover the gift, lesson or opportunity that was wrapped into the complaint as you perceived it. Or not. However declaring gratitude is much more attractive than complaining; attractive to other people as well as yourself.

When you start making these kinds of changes you may begin to get more of what you want instead of simply complaining. Amazingly, when you start interacting differently with your world of complaints you may actually begin to better understand and appreciate what you really want. Now that you have greater clarity you can act more effectively to get what you want. The result? Greater Mental Health & Happiness.

Here’s a word of caution. If you spend time complaining about other people, you still need to keep your focus on what you want, not simply focusing on how you want the other person to change. Instead of complaining, “I wish my child would stop whining. I want a child who doesn’t whine,” may sound like you’re following the advice offered here. See if you can go deeper though. If your child stopped whining and you got what you want, what would that be? Would you be engaged in a more pleasant interaction with your child? Do you want a happier atmosphere when completing a chore? Once you know what you want you can act accordingly. Start singing, smiling, offering compliments about the world, your child, yourself. Your child may still be whining. And still you can create a more pleasant atmosphere while you interact with your child lovingly, no matter how he or she is acting.

People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining — Stephan Hawking

Turn your complaint inside out

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

nagging

Complaining is one of the deadly habits that contributes to destroying relationships according to William Glasser. A recent study reported in a Psychology Today blog stated that the most common complaint men have about marriage is the amount of complaining that their wives do. (Anyone else besides me notice the irony of men complaining about women complaining?)

Most of us can quickly name the expert complainer in our own lives. Sadly this is the person we try to avoid. Quite simply stated, complaining is unattractive and detrimental to our Mental Health & Happiness.

So why do so many people, including each of us, engage in this habit?

Our brain is hardwired to notice what is not right in our world. This attribute is necessary for our very survival. When we were evolving as a species it was important to notice when our environment changed enough to put our very survival at risk. When a pride of lions decided to move into the next door cave where we were living it was important that we noticed this change.  Had our brain not alerted us to this danger and we not then taken appropriate action, that would have been the end of us!

This means our brain notices almost everything that is wrong in our world. Luckily most of us do not need to comment or complain about everything that is wrong. But most of us will comment or complain about some things sometimes.

Several of the recent blogs and social media posters writing about increased happiness advocate that people go twenty-four hours without complaining. Great idea. But what are you going to do instead? If complaining is a natural and brain based urge, if you don’t have some other strategy to follow instead you are most likely to fall right back into complaining all over again.

Why not use this natural brain-based ability to your advantage. Every time you notice something worth complaining about you can take this opportunity to start declaring what you want instead. The more you do this the more you will begin to better understand and appreciate what you really want in your life.

So instead of complaining about the lions who moved in next door you could say I look forward to finding a new home where friendly and safe neighbors surround us.

Instead of complaining about the weather you could say I look forward to the next sunny day or Im sorry for me its raining. Im happy for the gardens and flowers that it is raining.

Instead of complaining about some physical ailment that is causing you pain you could say This stomach ache is reminding me to make better food choices in the future or This headache reminds me to spend more time in gentle light to be kinder to myself.

Instead of complaining about all the complainers that surround you, you could say I wonder what these people want that they are not getting?

Go ahead and eliminate complaining for twenty-four hours. And for better Mental Health & Happiness replace your complaining with a declaration of what you want instead.

 

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.

 

 

Where are you on the Mental Health & Happiness Scale?

by Dr. Nancy S Buck

We have spoken with many, many people since starting and diving deep into our Mental Health & Happiness project. The stories and responses we receive in return have been enlightening, helpful and thought provoking.

One thing we hear from many who are new to this kind of a journey and new to Dr. Glasser and Choice Theory psychology are questions about mental health and mental illness. How does happiness figure into this?

Here are a few things we believe:

  • We are all in a state of mental health. The common terminology of “mental health issues”is describing someone who is lower on the above continuum.
  • Despite the recent DSM-V, not all human responses and reactions to life’s stressors and upsets are diagnosable disorders.
  • People with a diagnosable disorder will move higher on the above continuum, improving their mental health & happiness when they meet their needs for safety, love, power, fun, and freedom every day in respectful and responsible ways.
  • Improving the important relationships in our lives will improve our Mental Health & Happiness.  This alone will move us higher on the continuum.
  • Developing, improving and maintaining optimal Mental Health & Happiness is possible to learn and teach. Just as we learned what to do to get into better physical shape, or improve our dental and oral health, the same is true for Mental Health & Happiness.
  • All mental health professionals should have a clear, achievable definition of Mental Health & Happiness. If anyone is presently seeing a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional, ask him or her what his/her working definition of Mental Health & Happiness is. How can you move higher on the above continuum if you don’t know what it looks like and what you need to do to improve?
  • Our emotions are indicators of our emotional and mental state. When we feel glad, happy, hopeful, enthusiastic and positive we are heading in a mentally healthy direction. When we feel sad, angry, hurt, disappointed, frightened or negative we are heading away from what we need and want.
  • Part of normal living includes positive and negative feelings. Negative feelings do not mean we are mentally ill. We are simply lower on the above continuum at that point in time.
  •  Knowing what you can do to improve and move higher on the continuum is the indication of Mental Health & Happiness. Being Mentally Healthy & Happy does not mean that we feel happy and positive all of the time. But when we feel negative we know why and know what to do to improve.

Hope this helps you better understand where you are on your own continuum of Mental Health & Happiness.

Please give us feedback about more questions, discoveries and quandaries as you continue on your journey with us.

“…and seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

By Dr. Ken Larsen

My friend Dr. Nancy Buck gave me a word of encouragement recently.  It reminded me for some reason of this old song, “Home on the Range.”   I can remember my boyhood hero, Roy Rogers, singing it.  [btw, the second verse is not very politically correct in today’s world, so stick to the first verse.]

It got me to thinking of one of my favorite subjects: words and the meaning they carry.

Think about it.  You have a meaning in mind that you want to send to another.  So you find words that fit and you send those words.  Hopefully, the words trigger a similar meaning in the mind of the receiver.  If that happens, communication has taken place.  Sometime even a meaningless word can have meaning if two people know what is being referenced.  For example, that thingy on your desk came with a doodad attachment.  Where are they now?  You ever communicate like that?  It’s funny how often that sort of thing actually communicates.

puppies

When I heard Nancy offer encouraging words, they triggered pleasant meanings in my mind that made me feel better about myself and about Nancy, and even about the world in general.  I like to find ways to send those kind of messages as often I can without falling into flattery.  If I look and listen, I can usually find something positive and up building to say to another.  Dr. Glasser’s caring habits help with this.

Now think of the unkind word.  The harsh word of criticism, or blame, or complaint.  What meanings do they trigger?  How do they make you feel?  We know that at best they don’t make you happy.  At worst they can ruin your day and affect the way you think about yourself.  You may even go home and kick the cat.  Poor cat.  Think of Dr. Glasser’s deadly habits.

We used to sing “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  I have discovered that that is simply not true.

Let’s look for ways to speak words of love and life everyday.  One of the rewards is the happiness it brings to you.

And your bonus is  a short clip of Elvis singing “Words”.

You ain’t nuthin but a hound dog!

By Mike Rice

We humans can be pretty resilient when disappointed or when things don’t go our way.  One of the most common ways people declare their unhappiness is by complaining.  When all known skills to overcome one’s unhappiness fail, complaining becomes evident.  We’ve all heard the old saw, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”  But also, the squeaky wheel can also get replaced.

There is a belief that exists that by moaning and groaning, somehow, somewhere, someone will come along with the answer to one’s unhappiness or even resolve their unhappiness for them.  This usually occurs when the complainer has given up on their own ability to ease their frustration.  So they continue to go through life, moaning and groaning and not doing much about their unhappiness except to give up and endure it . . . complaining all along.

Motivational speaker, Les Brown, tells the story of a young man who heard a sorrowful moaning and groaning sound as he was walking down the street in his neighborhood.  He wondered who and why someone was making this sad lament.  He followed the sorrowful sounds as it got louder and louder indicating he was nearing the source.  He came upon an elderly man sitting on his porch reading a newspaper.  Lying next to the old man was an equally old hound dog.  The young man approached the older man and asked:

dog

“Excuse me sir.  Is that your dog making that mournful sound?”
The old man replied:  “Yup.”
The young man asked, “Why is he moaning and groaning like that?”
The old man answered, “’Cause he’s laying on a nail.”
This prompted the younger man to ask, “Then why doesn’t he get up?”
And the old man replied, “’Cause he ain’t hurtin’ bad enough yet.”

Is moaning and groaning resolving your unhappiness or is it just easing your frustration?  Have you found many people to join you in your unhappiness?  Misery loves company but company hates misery.   Whenever you get tired of all the complaining that isn’t making you feel any better, you have three choices you can rely on that will bring you happiness at a moment’s notice . . . guaranteed.

Encouraging

By Kim Olver

dumbo&feather

The third healthy relationship habit is encouraging. When I think of encouraging, I always think of Walt Disney’s Dumbo. Remember him? The elephant with such big ears he could fly? However, the first time Dumbo flew, he was asleep and had no awareness of his special talent. His friend, the mouse, was present and aware and told Dumbo he could fly. Of course, Dumbo was incredulous. He said, “Elephants can’t fly.” The mouse persisted but Dumbo wasn’t buying it. Finally, in desperation, the mouse handed Dumbo a feather. He told Dumbo this was a magic feather and as long as Dumbo held the feather in his trunk, he would be able to fly. Dumbo believed in the magic feather and flew.

I think encouraging is like being that magic feather. We need to be that magic feather for the loved ones in our lives. We must believe in our loved ones until they learn to believe in themselves. This is real encouragement.

Over the years people have asked me, what is the difference between nagging, a deadly habit, and encouraging. The answer is that when you nag, you are trying to get someone to do what you want them to do. However, when you encourage, you are trying to get the person to do what they want to do, to develop the courage or skill necessary to be successful.

Who do you have in your life that encourages you? When was the last time you encouraged someone?

People Whisperer

By Mike Rice

Long before I ever become, or even considered, being a therapist, I had always been extremely interested in animal behavior.  I couldn’t get enough of the Nature and animal television shows.  I would marvel how easy it is for different animals to merely be themselves.  They only had to behave the way their species genetically instructed them to behave.  They competed only for food, territory, and sex.  It seemed to me that humans often spend time trying to be something or someone they weren’t and would often fight over anything.

As the years passed, I began to realize that the main difference between we human animals and other animals it that we humans have a free will and the ability to choose our behavior.  Other animals do not have that advantage.

whisperer

About nine years ago, Cesar Milan came upon the scene as “The Dog Whisperer.”  I was amazed how quickly he could resolve conflict between dog owners and dogs in only a matter of minutes.  Years of experience had taught Cesar that the natural order of pack animals is that there is always a pack leader to keep the pack living, working, and playing in a social and homeostatic society.

Cesar also noted that if a person who has a dog does not assume the role of pack leader, then the dog will assume that role.  It’s the old adage that Nature abhors a vacuum.  What is missing in the dog’s world is the leader.  So the dog becomes the pack leader in the home and behaves in any way it desires within the range of dog behaviors.

Yet there are three other components to being a pack leader as a dog owner.  Many people fail to provide adequate exercise for their dogs, much less take the role of a leader.  Cesar reports that those who have dogs must provide their dogs’ needs in the form of:

  • Exercise
  • Discipline

Affection . . . all of which must be provided in the order given.  He also states that people, all too often, use people psychology on their dogs and this fails miserably due to the pack leader thing.  They need to understand and use dog psychology.  Dogs don’t know your name.  They don’t know what you do for a living or how much money you make.  Nor do they care.  They only live in “The Now.”  They don’t dwell or even go back into the past nor can they plan for the future.  They can be involved in a ferocious fight and a few minutes later behave like it never happened.

Dr. Glasser often said, “If someone is behaving in ways in which you disapprove, the first person who must change is yourself.”  Cesar explained to dog owners that much of what they were doing were things that only perpetuated the unwanted behavior of their animals.  Once they learned different ways to react to their dogs, many of the animal’s unwanted behaviors ceased.  Sound familiar?

I then began to draw similarities of human behavior and dog behavior.  I have seen the proof of how ineffective people psychology is on dogs and while I can see how dog psychology can work on people, I don’t advise it.  It is too controlling to use on humans.  Yet we see it all the time.  So I turned Cesar’s highly effective Exercise, Discipline, and Affection requirements for dog owners around and substituted or added words for human psychology.

  • Affection
  • Exercise – the Seven Caring Habits
  • Discipline – eliminate the Seven Deadly Habits.

Doctor Glasser is the People Whisperer.

 

Deadly Relationship Habits

By Kim Olver

Today,  I just want to mention seven Deadly Relationship Habits and later I will give you seven behaviors you can use instead to create a strong foundation to any important relationship in your life, including the relationship you have with yourself.

When I ask the question, “Whose behavior you can control?”, most people intellectually know they can only control themselves. And yet, how often to we attempt to control those around us to change so that our life will be better? Most people who don’t know about Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory psychology, tend to create their own misery by trying to get others to do things they really don’t want to do and even some of us who do use Choice Theory in our lives, still catch ourselves doing it from time to time.

This also happens with others attempting to get you to do what you don’t want to do as well. Has someone close to you ever used the following behaviors to attempt to get you to do something you don’t want to do? Have you ever used them with others?: Complaining, Blaming, Criticizing, Nagging, Threatening, Punishing and Bribing, otherwise known as Rewarding to Control.

nagging

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t at least experienced these behaviors from others or you have used them with people you care about: your children, your aging parents, siblings, our significant other and most definitely, with yourself. When you have a strong foundation to your relationship, using these behaviors every now and then, probably won’t cause a big problem but think about a concrete foundation. Now, imagine taking a pickaxe to the concrete every time you engage in one of these behaviors. Can you see, hear and feel the relationship foundation crumbling under your feet? The more you use them, the less solid your foundation becomes.

After learning these, people sometimes start to guilt or punish themselves for using these deadly relationship habits. I once had a mother in one of my workshops declare that she was a horrible mother for using every one of these behaviors with her children. The truth is she was not a horrible mother. She was simply doing/repeating behaviors she had learned in her lifetime that had helped her get something she wanted.

The problem is we don’t always consider the cost of getting what we want. We can’t use a deadly habit without causing some damage to the relationship. So watch for upcoming posts where I will discuss the healthy relationship habits to substitute instead.

In the meantime, don’t attempt to stop using these deadly ones; just begin to notice when you use one. This will help you make their use more conscious so you can reduce their use without even trying. Just notice when you use them and you’ll be surprised how much less you engage in them.

Relationship Habits

By Dr. Ken Larsen

We know what happens when an infection sets in.  If it gets out of control, we can die.

Have you ever thought that a relationship can become infected?

In a relationship, “me” is “we”.  Think of two people in relationship.  You can draw an imaginary circle around them and discover that there are actually three entities within the circle.  There is each individual and there is the relationship itself, which is a unique entity made up of these two people.

It is that relationship that can be innaggingfected.   For an individual, an infection usually involves some sort of germ.  For a relationship, an infection involves patterns of behavior.

Dr. Glasser has named seven deadly habits that can infect a relationship.  If the infection is not treated, the relationship gets sick and may even die.

The cure for these seven deadly habits is listed alongside.

The mental health of the individuals and the relationship depend on how each individual chooses to relate to the other.

Seven Supporting Habits

Seven Deadly Habits

These bring us closer to one another

These drive us apart from one another

Supporting
Encouraging
Listening
Accepting
Trusting
Respecting
Negotiating differences

Criticizing
Blaming
Complaining
Punishing
Threatening
Nagging
Bribing