Tag Archives: relationships

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.

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.

 

New Pictures and New Developments

by Mona Dunkin

We think in pictures or symbols. If we don’t get the picture we don’t get the concept.

If I mention a car, your mind sees a car of some sort, even if it’s fuzzy. The longer we explore that subject, the clearer your mind-picture comes into focus.  More than likely, your own car would be your familiar point of reference or perhaps your dream car.

Unknowingly, we associate new stuff with familiar stuff. We also, unknowingly, self-assess whether to like, dislike or simply store it in our vast mind/body warehouse as additional information. For later recall.

Everything is created twice; first in the mind and then in reality. Your computer runs by an operating system and so does the mind. If you don’t like a TV program, you don’t even try to change the screen. Why not? The TV operating system is pre-programmed to bring in that program on that frequency.

Here is where reality sets in.  You cannot change what you do not have control over. You do not have control over the programming slated for that channel but you do have control over changing the channel. To change the picture on the TV screen you change the channel to another frequency.

Change is an Inside Job. Truth be told, we have limited ability to change anything outside our immediate scope. Goodness! It’s hard enough to change something within our self (i.e. attitudes, habits, prejudices).  When we work on self we have something we can work with. When working on someone or something outside our selves – especially without forethought and training – we may be jousting at windmills. Don Quixote’s selective vision of the real world contributed to his unhappy relationships and the fall from the rotor blade certainly curtailed his health.

Will Power = WALL. Even if you are using every ounce of will power that you can muster to change personal habits, attitudes or – alas – other people, it doesn’t compute. Why? Because the old operating system still has chocolate cake as the focal point.  You fall off the wagon and don’t understand why.

Adjust your mind-pictures and grow into them. This simple step promotes self from employee to Management.  From lackey to Taking Charge of Your Life™. And that is power. It’s real power because it’s empowering.  Once the light comes on, it is like a rogue grass seed pushing up through concrete to grow, blossom and bloom. That seed idea that seemed so impossible takes root and produces amazing results.

Yeah But!  I hear you; it’s the I-agree-but-I-don’t-agree-or-I-don’t-think-I-can.  Okay, here’s how:

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Stop whatever thought processes you have going through your head and – just for a minute – experience a different sort of reality. Get out of your head nonsense into a beautiful place. Through loving imagination, tune your TV-mind to your Discovery Channel. Tune in to pictures of adventures that you would love doing or being or creating. Whet an internal mental appetite for those things. Act on those new aptitudes and the old picture begins to fade as you become the new you.  You become energized by what you act like and feel like and look like and what life tastes like as you grow into the person living your dream.

What you think is what you become.  Picture it.

Sex in heaven?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 4/29/14)

I suspect that question got your attention just as quickly as it got mine. In the last century I opened a book by Peter Kreeft entitled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven… “ As I scanned the chapter headings I came to the chapter with the question, “Is there sex in heaven?”

As I read the chapter the author pointed out a couple of interesting insights. One was that “sex” doesn’t start with what we do, it starts with who we are. He goes on to point out that the ideal in sexual connection is a form of ecstasy, which, in this case, is losing oneself in caring for the other.

He encourages the giving rather than the getting in intimate union, pointing out that our greatest happiness lies in getting out of self to care for others.

Dr. Glasser told us that “addictions, violence and unloving sex” were activities of those that were not getting what they needed in relationships. The opposite is certainly true. As we care FOR another, we find an enhanced sense of self-worth which boosts our mental health. The happiness that comes from knowing we have given deeply and intimately to another just makes life better for all.

After reading Kreeft’s book I gave a presentation to a group of physicians on this subject. To my surprise I received a standing ovation, which said to me that we are all hungry to learn more about how we can more deeply care for one another.

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After the talk a young Jewish Doc came up to me. She told me about her experience in Israel. She said that on Friday afternoons, the florists were very busy as men came in to buy flowers to take home for the conjugal celebration that is part of the Jewish Sabbath. Once again the focus was on the man caring for and serving his lady. [She recommended a book that I enjoyed, “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage” by Maurice Lamm]

Mike Rice recently reminded us that Einstein, when asked about our purpose in life, answered “to serve others.” I believe this can be true in our most casual relationships all the way into our most intimate encounters with one another.

In closing, let me quote from Kreeft’s book where he suggests that a connecting and caring FOR sex life Is a foretaste of heaven on earth!

“This spiritual intercourse with God is the ecstasy hinted at in all earthly intercourse, physical or spiritual. It is the ultimate reason why sexual passion is so strong, so different from other passions, so heavy with suggestions of profound meanings that just elude our grasp. No mere animal drive explains it. No animal falls in love, writes profound romantic poetry, or sees sex as a symbol of the ultimate meaning of life…”

[For a Judeo-Christian view on human sexuality and the intimate relationship between God and humanity, read the “Song of Solomon” sometimes titled “The Song of Songs” In the Bible. ]

Mental Health Characteristics

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 11/5/13)

One of the characteristics of mental health and happiness is getting our needs met in and through our relationships with caring other people.

Dr. Glasser describes these needs in a couple of ways.  One, from his first best selling book “Reality Therapy” he points out that we need to “Love and be loved, and to feel worthwhile to ourselves and to others.”

Later, when he wrote “Choice Theory” he listed our basic needs as “Survival, Love and belonging, Freedom, Power and Fun.”

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One way I meet my fun needs is by learning.  Recently I was reading a book entitled “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, MD.  One paragraph jumped out at me because it spoke to ways to grow closer to the ones we love.  Having a wife, three daughters, and five granddaughters, the more I can understand the female experience of life, the closer I can be in these very special relationships.

This is a quote from the book: “If she’s married or partnered with a male brain, each will inhabit two different emotional realities.  The more both know about the differences in the emotional realities of the male and female brain, the more hope we have of turning those partnerships into satisfying and supportive relationships and families.”

I highly recommend this book.

Relationships 101

Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 8/14/14)

puzzleWe know that our mental health and happiness is dependent on the quality of connections we enjoy in our relationships.  We are not meant to be alone.  We each have something that someone else needs and wants.  When we find ways to make those loving, life giving connections, we add to the quality of life of the other.  And what makes it even nicer, our own quality of life is enhanced.

Asking ourselves the question “to whom do we owe what?” gives us the opportunity to evaluate how we are contributing to the relationships we need and enjoy.  The question can also set us free from relationships that are toxic when they are destructive to our well being.  [for more on this idea, look to the principles of Al Anon.]

Our first commitment is to ourselves.  It’s like when you’re getting the safety speech by the flight attendants on the airplane.  Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.  The New Testament tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is not narcissism but a basic principle in a healthy relationship.

fingersThen we look to those to whom we have a commitment.  Spouse, children, friends, parents all have a rightful claim on our time and attention.  Maintaining a healthy balance between self care and care of others is essential to ongoing quality relationships.

Then there is our recognition that “no man is an island.”  We each have a share in the overall well being of all of us.  Certainly to a lesser degree of intensity and time commitment than to those close to us, but essential to our answer to the question.

If we could see these three sets of relationships as concentric circles, we would have a larger outer circle within which all the others exist.  That outer circle is understood in different ways.  Some name it as God, some as a “higher power”, some as the Universe.  Each of us needs to relate to this outer circle according to our own understanding.

Our question, “to whom do we owe what?”  is not a one time question, with one set of answers.  It is an ongoing means of navigation in our journey through life.  It helps us maintain those connections and relationships that are so essential to the quality of our mental health and happiness.

I’d like to hear of your experiences with the sort of thing I’m talking about here.  Add a few lines in the comments below.

A Crucial Relationship

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

When I was 26 years old, I began an intentional relationship which has been one of the most important I have ever had. It gets more significant every day. I was teaching a college class and the issue of death came up. I decided to create a short thoughtful experience for my students, so I asked them to write down the answer to the question, “How do you feel about death?” on an index card.  On the other side I asked them to answer the question: “How would you like to feel about death?”

My answer to the second question was  “I’d like to be as unafraid of where I am going after my death as I am of where I came from before my birth.” I was actually quite happy with my answer, but the more profound thing that happened at that moment was that I realized at a deeper level that I should start interacting with the thoughts and emotions and realities of death quite early in my life, for as the saying goes, “There are only two sure things in life, Death and Taxes.

Over the years I have gotten a wide variety of reactions to my desire to incorporate my relationship with death into my everyday life, but now that I am 70, I am so very grateful that I did. I am well ahead of so many people my age who have been pushing this relationship away for years.  I feel like my relationship with death has gone through the ups and downs of any long term relationship. I have been angry, sad, scared, denying, accepting and serene. My long-term relationship with death has given me the opportunity to work out many of my fears and questions, some which take years to resolve, and I am left at this time of my life with a sense of serenity and acceptance which I know could not have been created in a short-term last minute relationship.

I have envisioned my own death, I have written several obituaries as though I had died in that particular year, and I have  imagined my own memorial service (who will come? who will stay? who will I be glad is there? who will I wish had stayed home? What will be said? What would I like to be said?). I have talked with my children about my death until they are much more easy talking about it, and I have asked others what their thoughts are about probably the most important issue of our lives over 70, the process of aging and death.

 

Imagine the edge you would have if you took any of life’s issues and explored it thoughtfully and emotionally for 45 years. This is no different, it just involves a subject most people are unwilling to talk about: it America’s great taboo. The results of my relationship with death over the year are reaping great rewards in this time of my life, but it has also been a blessing all along the way.

 

 

Can we all get along?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 2/24/14)

Dr. Glasser has pointed out the disparity between our technological progress as a society and our ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with one another.  Our technological prowess has soared over the past couple of centuries, yet, Rodney King’s simple plea, “Can we all get along?”  stands with Dr. Glasser’s comment from his book “Choice Theory” that “…we are no more able to get along well with each other than we ever were.” 

There is more than one reason for this inability to get along with one another.  I’m going to talk about just one that came to me in a fresh flood of insight recently.

It started with discovering a video clip on YouTube.  The clip was of a Swiss family who play and sing Swiss folk music.  Dad plays accordion, Mom does vocal, the two brothers play bass and guitar and daughter Yodels!  I was completely charmed by their performance and puzzled over why I found them so appealing.  I mean how many folks do you know that just DIG yodeling???  [Oesch die Dritten is the name of the group.  Check em out.]

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After a couple of days enjoying their music and driving everyone else nuts with my new found enthusiasm for yodeling, I suddenly sat up in surprise.  I asked myself, “What is the most obvious characteristic of this group?  They are European!  Specifically Northern European, that part of the world where my ancestors lived.  I was connecting in a funny way with some of the traditions of my distant ancestry!  Then I sat back and reflected on this insight.  I found that I really valued what I see and know about my European heritage, especially, in this case, with the music.  My appreciation for my own racial history has nothing to do with thinking less of other traditions.  As a matter of fact, I find that learning about other cultures and ethnic groups is fascinating.  We are all interconnected and have a contribution to make to this organism we call humanity.

Then, in my eagerness to share this with my friends, I found that I wanted to simply share my enthusiasm but I also wanted to be sensitive to the fact that a lot of people I know, including my friends, are less than enthusiastic about yodeling.  So with some hesitation I simply told of the joy I felt with this music, leaving them free to listen or not to listen.

Have you ever had what some call an epiphany?  Where fresh insights just seem to pour out in your thoughts?  That was what I was experiencing.  The next clear idea that emerged was that while I wanted to respect the interests and tastes of others, I also wanted and even expected a certain respect from my friends for what I had experienced through this music.  They didn’t have to jump in and become fans of Swiss Folk Music, but I didn’t expect them to look at my interest disdainfully.

I think this experience gave me a fresh desire to be more reflective in my efforts to touch and appreciate our diverse differences in our American culture.  We have rich treasures from other continents and other peoples.  Most of us have ancestors that came here from someplace else.  As I appreciate my own roots, I want to support and respect all my fellow Americans as we embrace our heritage and as we find ways to continue to build our common culture in this land of opportunity.

We live in an age where diversity is a reality.  I would like to see us all approach one another, as diverse as we are, with respect, interest and healthy curiosity.  Hopefully, through this we will grow in understanding and perhaps even bond in friendship across our differences.

worldhands “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

John F. Kennedy

The Whisperer

By Mike Rice (Originally posed 1/9/14)

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.

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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.