Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask for help. When we ask, we run the risk of being told, “no,” having our needs dismissed or invalidated. As a result, we may become fiercely independent, determined to do it all ourselves. Or we may become bossy and demanding, hiding our vulnerability by voicing our needs as demands. Either way, if it doesn’t feel safe to ask for what we need, we can’t be close to our partners, and ultimately, that’s what we really want.
If you find yourself in one of these two roles, it may be time to try something new – something like, “Sweetheart, I’m feeling overwhelmed (or tired or unmotivated…), and I need your help with something.” If this approach feels scary, it may be useful to sit with a therapist who can help you get the words out and help your partner practice listening so that it really IS safe to ask for what you need.
It may also help to preface the conversation, preparing your partner that you’re about to do something hard, and need him/her to be kind. Maybe even showing him/her this posting as a way of introducing the topic. Though it may be uncomfortable for both of you at first, knowing that you can ask for what you need and that your partner will listen without judgment can make you both feel closer and more connected.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Some have noted a pattern of suspicion followed by silence among those who knew something about Sandusky’s behavior with young boys. Those who work with survivors of child sexual abuse know this pattern all too well and are often angered by it. How do we explain the reluctance of people to talk about their suspicions openly so that something might be done to stop these atrocities?
One of the explanations suggested is that the abuser is a person of power or status who could use that power to punish anyone who dared talk about what they suspected or knew. Though there is some truth to this, especially in the minds of the young person who has been manipulated and sometimes threatened into silence, I think there is a more basic explanation that comes clear in an understanding of the nature of shame and our responses to behavior that evokes shame.
Shame is one of the powerful survival emotions with which we are all hardwired. It is the emotion that compels us to surrender and try to hide when we are faced with an overwhelming threat or defeated in competition. It can save our lives in a primitive battle over status, and it has a complex function in forming our consciences and guiding our moral awareness. But although we use the word in a way that has many complex connotations, it is a fundamental and powerful basic emotion, and shares some characteristics with other survival emotions.
1. Shame compels an immediate behavioral response. Fear compels us to freeze first, then run. Anger compels us to attack. And shame compels us to surrender and withdraw, averting our gaze and trying to hide. We want to become invisible, and anything that draws attention to us makes the shame stronger. So when someone tells an inappropriate joke at a party, everyone wants to crawl under the table. And when someone in your group is behaving badly, no one wants to be the first to call attention to the problem. “For some people, the subject is literally unspeakable.”
2. Shame is contagious. Like the panic triggered in a crowded theater when someone shouts fire, or the rage evoked in a mob when it is focused on a target, shame over someone’s exposure evokes an emotional response in all of us. Depending on our relationship to the person shamed, the emotional response can be one of shame or anger, but if the person is a member of your family, tribe, or a group with which you identify, the shame will come first. When Dad is drunk and making a fool of himself, everyone in the family wants to leave the scene. A secondary
reaction of anger may set in soon, but the initial response is shared shame. If our political leader makes a gaffe, we all groan inside before we go into defensive action.
3. Shame is followed by anger. But the anger may be expressed toward almost anyone. After feeling the sting of shame, we may be angry at ourselves, we may be angry at the world, we may be angry at the easiest person to be angry at – which maybe the victim of the abuse – or we may fear the anger of others that we know is likely to emerge if we make a lot of noise about the shameful situation. So family members enable the alcoholic rather than confront, institutions shield and hide the abusers in their midst rather than share the shame of exposure, and people with suspicions of others, particularly leading members of the group with which they identify, keep their mouths shut and their heads down (the classic posture of shame). The fear of angry reprisals can extend to fear of legal action against the institution involved. But underlying this fear is the naive wish that it will all just go away if we can cover it up or keep quiet about it.
Understanding the nature of our powerful survival emotions, how they compel us to freeze, run, attack, or hide, can help us resist the self defeating behavioral responses that can arise in response to emotionally loaded situations and help us solve problems sooner. Wishing the problems and the feelings would just go away only prolongs the damaging situation.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
What is hypnosis? Have you ever been totally absorbed while reading a book, cooking or watching a movie? Did you zone out to the point you didn’t notice what else was going on around you? If so, you’ve experienced a trance-like state that’s similar to what happens to you during hypnosis.
Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state of mind. It is usually achieved with the help of a hypnotherapist and is different from your everyday awareness. When you’re under hypnosis: -Your attention is more focused -You’re deeply relaxed and calm -You’re more open to suggestions, and less critical or disbelieving
The purpose of hypnosis is to help you gain more control over your behavior, emotions or physical well-being. Hypnotherapists say that hypnosis creates a state of deep relaxation and quiets the mind. When you’re hypnotized, you can concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling or sensation while blocking out distractions. You’re more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to change your behavior and thereby improve your health and well-being.
Who is hypnosis for? Hypnotherapy has the potential to help relieve the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases and conditions. It can be used independently or along with other treatments. According to scientific studies, hypnotherapy may be used to: · Change negative behaviors, such as smoking and overeating · Reduce or eliminate fears, stress and anxiety · Lower blood pressure · Control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy · Reduce the intensity or frequency of pain · Treat and ease the symptoms of asthma Although hypnosis may have the potential to help with a wide variety of conditions, it’s typically used as one part of a broader treatment plan rather than as a stand-alone therapy. Like any other therapy, hypnosis can be helpful to some people but not to others. It seems to work best when you’re highly motivated and your therapist is well trained.
Types of hypnosis
There are a variety of hypnotic techniques. The approach you choose depends on what you want to accomplish as well as your personal preferences. For example, in one method a hypnotherapist leads you into hypnosis by talking in a gentle, soothing tone and describing images that create a sense of relaxation, security and well-being. While you’re under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist suggests ways for you to achieve specific goals, such as reducing pain or stress or helping to eliminate the cravings associated with smoking cessation. In another technique, once you’re under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist helps stimulate your imagination by suggesting specific mental images for you to visualize. This conscious creation of vivid, meaningful pictures in your mind is called mental imagery, and it’s a way to help bring about what you want to achieve. Self-hypnosis is a third technique. A certified hypnotherapist teaches you how to induce a state of hypnosis in yourself. You then use this skill on your own to help yourself. For instance, hypnotherapists can help executives visualize what they want to accomplish before they perform it, such as giving a presentation or making a sale.
Although hypnotherapists, like other health care practitioners, each have their own style, expect some common elements:
A typical session lasts from 30 to 60 minutes.
The number of sessions can range from one to several.
You generally bring yourself out of hypnosis at the end of a session.
You can usually resume your daily activities immediately after a session.
Although hypnosis may have the potential to help with a wide variety of conditions, it’s typically used as one part of a broader treatment plan rather than as a stand-alone therapy. Like any other therapy, hypnosis can be helpful to some people but not to others. It seems to work best when you’re highly motivated and your engaged in the process.
Myths about hypnosis If you’ve ever seen hypnotism used as entertainment in a stage act, you’ve probably witnessed several of the myths about hypnosis in action. Legitimate clinical hypnotherapy practiced by a qualified professional is not the same process as that performed on stage.
Myth: When you’re under hypnosis, you surrender your free will.
Reality: Hypnosis is a heightened state of concentration and focused attention. When you’re under hypnosis, you don’t lose your personality, your free will or your personal strength.
Myth: When you’re under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist controls you.
Reality: You do hypnosis voluntarily for yourself. A hypnotherapist only serves as a knowledgeable guide or facilitator.
Myth: Under hypnosis, you lose consciousness and have amnesia.
Reality: A small number of people who go into a very deep hypnotic state experience amnesia. However, most people remember everything that occurred under hypnosis.
Myth: You can be put under hypnosis without your consent.
Reality: Successful hypnosis depends on your willingness to experience it. Even with voluntary participation, not everyone can be led into a hypnotic state.
What is the situation? How does that situation make you feel? What’s the worst part about the feeling in that situation? When else have you had this feeling? Who does this situation remind you of? These questions promote self reflection and personal insight into why this circumstance is dominating our thoughts. We need to understand ourselves since we have to live in our own skin. There will always be times when insecurities arise but they will pass from our attention. We can use distraction but still our thoughts continue to dwell on these feelings. We try to move on but our head is stuck in trying to solve an emotional problem. We need to let go of these feelings, which is easy to say but hard to do. There is an emotional reflex that occurs that takes us back to a time when we had the same feeling and we try to avoid that same outcome from reoccurring. We may have not gotten over that feeling when it first arose. We took it personally and now fear exposure of our inadequacies. There is a need to overcompensate for this short-coming and we try to prove to others that we are not how we feel. We want to protect ourselves from being hurt so we remain guarded but end up getting our heart broken since our partner is not getting the affection they need. We try and stop people from think negatively about us so we portray a facade and wear a mask of composure that offers an appearance of composure, when we are feeling weak inside. We look to others and wonder why we cannot tolerate the events in a similar fashion. Perhaps they too are playing a role, wearing a mask and putting up a front. We are not in their head and no two people come from the exact same background. We all have different perceptions of the situation and react differently. We look to others, social proof to see what is the best way to handle a situation, but consider the source, their map is good for them, their recipe suits their taste but is not preferable to our palate. We end up with a bitter taste in our mouth or get lost along the way.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Judgment is the organ of decision making. Our judgment does not operate in a vacuum. We have degrees of judgment and we have attitudes towards ourselves and our judgment. If we respect ourselves, we are likely to trust our judgment and use it constructively for our own behalf. If we hold ourselves as worthless and inferior, we cannot respect or trust our judgment to guide us through life. In fact, we will trust it negatively: whatever it tells us to do, we will do the opposite. The irony is that when it tells us to do something self-destructive and consistent with our self contempt, we will trust it! We lose either way.
Most young people take their cue from their parents and teachers. If they are called “stupid” every time they make a mistake, they come to hold their intelligence and judgment in the same contempt they hold themselves. They take these insults personally, as a reflection on their worth as a person. They don’t know how else to take it. The reverse process does not occur. The child rarely hears himself being commended for his good judgment in solving a problem. The parent may have the attitude that he doesn’t want success to go to this child head. “It will spoil him.” The irony is that he is spoiling the child with his good intention to avoid spoiling.
The child without self respect cannot win for losing. With his judgment knocked out, he is predisposed to fall back on his unconscious attitudes towards himself. He feels he doesn’t deserve to succeed. If his judgment yells him yes, he will outsmart himself and say no in order to avoid the negative outcome he predicts for himself. His good intention to save himself will be counter productive. If his attitude tells him yes, he will do it. But his attitudes have no brains. They cannot steer him in the right direction. They are in the service of his self-destructive self contempt. The child who respects himself does not feel he deserves to fail, does not predict failure, does not over ride his appropriate judgment, does not arrange to fulfill his prophecies of disaster. He does not stand in his own way. He deserves to succeed in life, no more and no less than anyone else.
The child who does not respect himself reaches the point where his self contempt and his self blame for being such a “loser” ferment into depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviors. Here is a conversation with a young man who, like many imperfect human beings, has trouble trusting his in the present. We had been talking about his memories of himself. The things he remembers are consistent with they way he feels about himself.
Client: “I remember my dad catching me and my brother Simon taking money out of his wallet. I ran out the back door, but Simon got caught. He got the crap beat out of him. When I came home, my dad had calmed down, but I felt terrible about what happened to Simon. He was still sobbing.”
Therapist: “You felt guilty for abandoning your brother. You should have stayed and taken your punishment like a man, but you didn’t. Your judgment propelled you out the back door and you have regretted it ever since.”
Client: “I haven’t thought about that for years.”
Therapist: “This escapade also includes the lament of exemption from the consequences of your behavior. Simon was not immune, like you. You got away with it.”
Client: “I was quick on my feet and I could talk my way out of anything.”
Therapist: “That ability gives us a fictitious sense of power and control over the circumstances of life. We end up defining our self worth in terms of this very minor, superficial trait.”
Client: “What’s wrong with that?”
Therapist: “It’s only the gift of gab; it is hardly a prescription for a healthy, gratifying existence. For instance, it does nothing to relieve you of your underlying contempt for the limits of your judgment. You end up being all mouth no brains.”
Client: “I had everybody fooled, didn’t I?”
Therapist: “You even succeeded at fooling yourself. Your weak spot was your judgment. Your great trick was to overcompensate for the unworthiness of your judgment.”
Client: “How did I do that?”
Therapist: “By imagining that your judgment was superior to the judgment of everyone else, that you knew in advance that you could take things and emerge unscathed. By believing that you could talk you way out of anything, you predicted the future and knew that you would be immune to any consequences thrown at you.”
Client: That’s stupid isn’t it?”
Therapist: “There you go again. It is not a matter of stupidity. It’s a matter of learning things about yourself that are not true.”
Client: “What do you mean? What is true?”
Therapist: “That you were a little boy and you made little boy mistakes. You compounded these human childish mistakes by taking them personally, as if they were a reflection on your intelligence and your self worth. When you got through compounding this pain, you didn’t have any self worth left. You grew up feeling worthless and stupid.”
Client: “That’s how I have always felt; I just didn’t want anyone to find out.”
Therapist: “When we try to conceal our secret stupidity in ways that don’t make any sense, the secret usually comes out one way or another.”
Client: “I’m always screwing up.”
Therapist: “When you do, you mistakenly perceive the screw-up as if it were a confirmation of your stupidity, which is an error in thinking because there was no stupidity in the first place.”
Client: “What other mistakes did I make?”
Therapist: “You made the mistake of perpetually blaming yourself. You imagined that your childhood ignorance was permanent and would last forever, which of course it does not.”
Client: “So I overcompensated by proving myself to others to get their approval. That’s stupid.”
Therapist: “Nope, that wasn’t stupid either. Stupidity has to do with one’s level of intelligence. The efforts you made to prove yourself to relieve the pain of your self-contempt did not arise out of your intellect. They arose out of feeling that you have about yourself. If these emotional conclusions are mistaken and unrealistic, you will have trouble coping with reality.”
Client: “I believed that my judgment couldn’t be trusted.”
Therapist: “That’s right. That was something you have come to accept as ‘fact’. You didn’t question it rationally or objectively when you were a child. And you never went back to check it out.”
Client: “I’ve been struggling ever since.”
Therapist: “That belief of yours is a double edged sword. One side is that you cannot trust your judgment positively. The other side is that you cannot trust it negatively.”
Client: “What does that mean?”
Therapist: “It means you can only trust your judgment to be wrong and let you down.”
Client: “So when I come up with a good decision, I doubt it will work, so I go ahead and do the opposite.”
Therapist: “Exactly. What happens when you doubt your judgment?”
Client: “It’s always a disaster. I could kick myself for not trusting my gut. I was right the first time, but doubted what I was thinking.”
Therapist: “This is how you confirm over and over again that your judgment cannot be trusted. Your self doubt kicks in and overrides your initial approach. It is this doubt that sabotages your happiness and success in the real world. It is entirely consistent with your identity of self-contempt.”
Client: “It proves that I am just being me doesn’t it?”
Therapist: “Yes. This is how you maintain the consistency of your childhood role as the stupid five-year-old that you used to be. It’s a payoff in a way. It is reassuring to know that you haven’t changed, you are still you even if it a stupid, unhappy you.”
Client: “Well it feels awful.”
Therapist: “It is awful. But these choices are not judgments at all. They are negative beliefs. They have nothing to do with your intelligence. They are emotional. They come from the heart, not the head. You keep overriding your mature adult judgment in the present with this childish belief from first grade. This approach makes sure that you don’t get any happiness, which you feel ‘stupid’ people do not deserve.”
Client: “Why don’t I stop?”
Therapist: “People, who feel they are guilty of being stupid, need to be punished for making mistakes. They don’t believe they have earned the right to be happy. Every six-year-old knows that when you are wrong, you deserve to be punished. So by denying yourself happiness you are just righting the wrong. When you fill yourself with doubt, it relates to the potential of being punished, which must be avoided. But since you don’t trust yourself to make a good decision anyway, you end up in painful doubt. This is the closest you come to finding happiness; it’s a painful pleasure in a way.”
Client: “Can I turn this around?”
Therapist: “Not by yourself. You can not be objective about your own mistaken feelings and beliefs. You are just going to agree that what you are thinking is right.”
Client: “I’m tired of this painful pleasure. I want to quit.”
Therapist: “Wanting to quit is nice but it is not enough. People who are drowning in self-contempt do not deserve to get what they want. They deserve to be punished. First you have to feel that you deserve to get something better.”
Client: “How do I do that?”
Therapist: “It’s done by doing your homework.”
Client: “What’s my homework?”
Therapist: “Instead of giving you an assignment for tomorrow, let me see if you have done some homework already.”
Client: “How could I do homework without even know it?”
Therapist: “Well let me see…How do you feel about coming to see a therapist?”
Client: “I feel it was a good decision.”
Therapist: “In what way?”
Client: “I feel like I am learning something about myself.”
Therapist: “That is a feeling of accomplishment. Would you call it a success?”
Client: “Yes, it was hard to come and ask for help, to admit that I couldn’t do it myself.”
Therapist: “Do you feel stupid?”
Client: “No I feel smart.”
Therapist: “How smart is smart enough?”
Client: “I don’t know?”
Therapist: “As smart as you are right now, that is smart enough. Did you have a choice in coming here today?”
Client: “Yes. I could have chosen not to come.”
Therapist: “So how do you feel about the choice you made?”
Client: “It was a good choice.”
Therapist: “In order to make that choice you had to use your judgment didn’t you?”
Client: “I guess.”
Therapist: “How good was your judgment in making the choice to come here today?”
Client: “Good enough”
Therapist: “This ability to recognize how good is good enough speaks to your own standards. By living up to our own standards we have feelings of accomplishment, success, maturity, security and self-respect. By coming here today you already did some homework for your own good, not for your parents, or for me, but for yourself.”
Client: “I always thought it was selfish to do things for me.”
Therapist: “It’s only selfish if it ends with you. Self-preservation means you take care of your self so you can help others. But if you don’t take care of you who will?”
Client: “I don’t know who?”
Therapist: “No one and you will come to resent those who you help since they take away from your ability to care for yourself. You are an equal member of the human race who is equally entitled to care for himself, no more or less important then anyone else. “
Client: “Actually, it was kind of scary to come here.”
Therapist: “But you did it anyways. Do you feel liberated?”
Client: “From who?”
Therapist: “From the old you. You came here and took responsibility for your own happiness. You made an independent choice and you can do it again. It took courage to try something new and do it anyways, that was quite a risk, but you did it anyways. You have earned the confidence and competence that come with courage. You took control by making a choice in the real world, according to your own standards. How do you feel now?”
Client: “You know, I can’t remember the last time I said that and meant it, but I feel happy.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
1. Is what I’m thinking a fact (provable of course)
2. Does thinking this thought help me feel the way I want to feel?
3. Does thinking this thought help me achieve my goals? or better yet get where I want to go or be where I want to be.
4. Take responsibility for disturbing yourself and do not cop out by blaming others;
5. Face the fact that your early disturbances do not automatically make you disturbed today;
6. Understand that no magical forces will change you, but only your own strong and persistent work and practice – yes, work and practice.
Recognize that neither another person, nor an adverse circumstance, can ever disturb you–only you can. No one else can get into your gut and churn it up. Others can cause you physical pain–by hitting you over the head with a baseball bat, for example–or can block your goals. But you create your own emotional suffering, or self-defeating behavioral patterns, about what others do or say.Identify your “musts.” Once you admit that you distort your own emotions and actions, then determine precisely how. The culprit usually lies in one of the three core “musts:”
“Must” #1 (a demand on yourself): “I MUST do well and get approval, or else I’m worthless.” This demand causes anxiety, depression, and lack of assertiveness.
“Must” #2 (a demand on others): “You MUST treat me reasonably, considerately, and lovingly, or else you’re no good.” This “must” leads to resentment, hostility, and violence.
“Must” #3 (a demand on situations): “Life MUST be fair, easy, and hassle-free, or else it’s awful.” This thinking is associated with hopelessness, procrastination, and addictions.
Begin by asking yourself: “What’s the evidence for my `must?’ ” “How is it true?” “Where’s it etched in stone?” And then by seeing: “There’s no evidence.” “My `must’ is entirely false.” “It’s not carved indelibly anywhere.” Make your view “must”-free, and then your emotions will heal. Reinforce your preferences.
Preference #1: “I strongly PREFER to do well and get approval, but even if I fail, I will accept myself fully,”
Preference #2: “I strongly PREFER that you treat me reasonably, kindly, and lovingly, but since I don’t run the universe, and it’s a part of your human nature to err, I, then, cannot control you,”
Preference #3: “I strongly PREFER that life be fair, easy, and hassle-free, and it’s very frustrating that it isn’t, but I can bear frustration and still considerably enjoy life.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
How do you handle change? Do you fear it, resist it, welcome it, or deny it? How you react towards change often depends on whether you initiate it or feel subject to its control. When change occurs abruptly, it may be a final wake up call to an already existing situation. One that has long been in need of an overhaul.
Regardless of whether you feel the victim of change or the initiator, the process of change happens slowly and subtly over time. I like to use the metaphor of a garden. When you plant a seed in the earth, it usually takes a period of time, sometimes weeks, before any visible evidence presents itself. This does not mean that growth is not occurring. Just because no visible signs are apparent does not indicate the absence of development. So it is with the process of change. As nature teaches us, you need to cultivate patience, especially when experiencing times of transition.
The need for patience can present a challenge to many of us who are affected by the instantaneous demands of contemporary society. Living in a time of computers and fast foods does not encourage this virtue. Yet patience is an important requisite for allowing change to take an effective course. I remember a client of mine who had difficulty being patient with her changes. She had been in counseling for three weeks and thought there may be something wrong since she did not see any changes. I recounted the metaphor of the garden to her, after which she admitted to digging up a plant just for that very reason. It was taking too long and she wanted to make sure it was growing. So she dug it up only to find that it was sprouting in the earth.
One reason for people’s impatience comes from the anxiety of facing the unknown. Change demands risk as well as a certain amount of faith and courage. The familiar may be painful and uncomfortable but at least we know what to expect. Also people tend to harbor unrealistic expectations of the process. They may feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of them. It is, therefore, important to realize that change consists of a series of small steps. The more you acknowledge each step the more you will feel encouraged to venture forth. Unfortunately, people tend to disregard the small, simple accomplishments in life. They do not understand the significance of each action taken.
The following story demonstrates how one of my clients eased the process of change by taking small steps that supported some of her needs. Karen had been remarried seven months when she enlisted my services. She and her husband were trying to merge two families under one roof, a challenging task for anyone. Already she and her husband were experiencing relationship problems. Furthermore, her husband didn’t get along with his stepson and she had difficulty communicating with her stepdaughters. One thing that particularly bothered Karen was that she didn’t feel comfortable in her own home. She felt like an outsider. Eventually she learned to take small risks. She cleared away an area and created a space for herself. She played her favorite music. She let herself relax one afternoon instead of jumping up to see if she could tend to her husband when he came home. She began to feel more relaxed and at ease. The response from the other family members was positive. Suddenly she began to feel more at home.
As you can see from Karen’s example, small steps can accomplish significant results. If you would like to create a positive change in your life, begin by asking yourself the following. “What small step can I take right now that would help to enhance my life” Then do it. Each time you take a step see it as an accomplishment. Acknowledge each accomplishment as a success. Then build on your successes by looking back on what you have already achieved. Realize that if you did it then, you can do it now. This will not only help you ease the process of change but will encourage you to move forward with confidence as well.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got, so for a change do something different and by doing something different we will be making a change. this limits the risk of the unexpected and limits the possibility of our enjoyment, Change may seem difficult, formidable, foreboding but making changes at your own pace opens up new possibilities, opportunities and experiences. Teach me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand.
Some other suggestions that can help you overcome a fearful lifestyle are:
- Fear and discomfort are a normal part of life. They are only irrational when they disable you, which is more likely to happen when you tell yourself you cannot stand them. Of course you don’t like discomfort — who does? But thinking that you must avoid it at all costs will itself make you uncomfortable!
- Give up the idea that you should be able to feel good all the time. Learn to tolerate unpleasant feelings. Find out how to change them but without demanding you avoid them entirely. When you are confident that you can handle bad feelings and know that you can stand them, they will bother you less in the first place!
- Value security, for instance, but accept you can survive when the unexpected occurs. Try hard to get the things you want, but don’t tell yourself that you need and must have them. Try to do well at whatever you set your hand to, but without demanding that you always succeed. See failure or disapproval as facts of life you can live with.
- Ask, ‘Why is such and such terrible, rather than unpleasant?’, ‘What makes this a disaster, rather than a disappointment?’, ‘Would it be so awful if . . . ?’ Don’t pretend that everything is wonderful. Acknowledge that some things are unpleasant, uncomfortable and inconvenient — just don’t make them into anything more.
- For fears such as giving talks, speaking to strangers, sitting exams or flying, try the ‘blow-up’ technique. Exaggerate your fear out of all proportion, to the point where you cannot help being amused by it. Laughing at your fears is a good way to control them.
- Observe that while you dislike them, you do stand unpleasant events and feelings. Witness the fact that you are still alive to tell the tale! Note, too, that if you learn to live with something rather than try to avoid it, most often it will bother you less.
Some ways you can begin to trust your judgment would be to:
• Give yourself credit for making successful judgments in the past. You can build on your past successes. Your mind may be quick to criticize your mistakes, but very slow to validate your success. If you don’t validate them, you look to others for approval. This means you give control over what is a success, control over your self worth, over your confidence to other people. When you look to others for approval, they control your confidence. You cannot build on you success and develop confidence. Instead, you can choose to say, “I did that. It needed to be done and I made it happen.” That is not conceit, it is not “smug self satisfaction.” It is confidence. It is validating your appropriate responsibility for repairing the discouragement of the past.
• You can replace your self-critical attitude with a more realistic one, such as “My judgment doesn’t have to be perfect, I am never going to be better or worse. I am always good enough. I do the best I can with the information I have at the time. If I make a mistake it onl;y proves that I am an imperfect human. I am loveable and worthwhile regardless of the outcome. It would be nice if others recognized my efforts. But that is only a preference. My judgment is good enough that I get the job done. I am good enough as I am and if I make a mistake, then I will have the opportunity to learn from my mistake.”
• You can remind yourselves that an imperfect judgment, a mistake, is not the end of the world. You have made many good decisions and have made mistakes before. You are more then the sum of your success and mistakes. Your performance will vary from day to day, hour to hour and you can separate your performance from who you are as a human.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Maybe you begin avoiding conversations at work or in social situations because you are afraid of being rejected? Do you refuse to participate in sports or other activities because others may see you as clumsy? Are you so rigid in your likes and dislikes that you’re not open to new kinds of music or books outside your interest, or eating unfamiliar types of food because you might not like them? People come to know and appreciate each other through sharing experiences. If you stay in a small, safe world you only cut yourself off from others and from the growth you could gain from new experiences.
Humans tend to gravitate toward their comfort zones. A comfort zone is any place, situation, relationship or experience where you don’t feel any threat. It is where you feel safe. It is usually a place or situation known to you where you feel some control, or at least you usually know what happens, in this place or setting. Examples of comfort zones include your home, your job, the things you commonly do every day, the people you spend time with such as your friends or family members, the places where you frequently go to eat and the types of food you eat, the places you go to exercise, the type of car you drive and directions you commonly travel to get to your various destinations. Humans prefer being in places, being around people, doing things that are more comfortable to them. Each time you move out of your comfort zones you expand, you grow. You become more and move toward your unlimited potential. There is a catch to this expansion process. It doesn’t automatically happen without any effort on your part. It is your effort that produces the expansion. Included in this effort is usually overcoming or dealing with some type of fear. Frequently, it is a scary shift from comfort to discomfort. But if you are to expand and grow, that is where you must put yourself. This means facing your fears with some frequency. Moving out of your comfort zones implies facing your fears. The experience of fear is similar to the perception that you are being chased by a big bear. Yet, realistically you rarely find yourself in situations that are the equivalent to being chased by the big bear less. Rarely, if ever, are you truly in danger. Similarly, when you venture out of your comfort zones, you sense the emotion of fear because you feel that there might be pain or discomfort of some kind. But the reality is that when you do go out into the discomfort zone, you are rarely, if ever, hurt, in the true sense where physical pain is involved.
The key to overcoming this fear of leaving your comfort zone is not seeing yourself as powerless, even in the face of unavoidable calamity. Otherwise, you might as well find a quick way out of such a ruthless and painful existence. It is helpful here to differentiate between powerlessness and empowerment. To feel powerless is a common human experience because there are some things you obviously have no control over. However, even in situations where you feel such impotence, you can still empower yourself to take positive action and choose a positive direction. Each and every human has a choice in how they respond to suffering. Suffering is unavoidable.
But you can choose your attitude. You can choose to see the unconditional meaning in all of the suffering your experience. Even in the extremely difficult situations you face, you have the opportunity to grow spiritually, taking your difficulties as a test of your inner strength. You can find inner strength by looking to some future goal, which allows you to rise above the sufferings of the moment as if they were already in the past. Suffering ceases to be suffering the very moment you find a meaning. There is opportunity in suffering. You have the opportunity to accept the challenges you are faced with, to be proud of your struggles and suffer bravely. The decisions you make are your responsibility and you chose how to interpret your suffering. You can chose to find meaning in it, to use your suffering by turning a tragedy into a triumph, by seeing a hopeless situation as a growth experience. Yet, if you choose to obsess and worry about past and future misfortune, you’ll most certainly create a life filled with discomfort, anxiety, fear, and frustration. If this way of thinking goes unchecked, it snowballs and you become plagued with negative thoughts and emotions. Eventually there is no room for your natural state of peaceful mind. If, on the other hand, you turn your mind in a different direction, you create the space for peace to emerge. It is not unlike tending a garden, where you diligently pull the weeds you don’t want and water the plants you wish to grow.
I could talk about all the reasons why humans feel fear. But until you actually step toward that border of your comfort zone, look at your fear straight in the face and step toward it, you will never rid yourself of your fears. As Shakespeare once said, “A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero only one.” Why would this be? It is because the coward lives the potential outcomes repeatedly in his mind, continually bringing up the pain that will certainly accompany the event being considered. But the hero just goes for it anyway. He doesn’t think about it much. He simply moves in the direction of the feared thing and nearly always finds that things are rarely as uncomfortable as they were perceived to be in the first place. It is important that as you do go through your fears, that you celebrate the victories for doing so. The more that you associate pleasure and positive feelings with risking, the more you will be inclined to risk again.
We have been taught to believe trust is a commodity to be earned by others. Once they have passed certain tests, then we feel safe to extend our trust. When you trust someone, you know he or she will do the right thing. You know they have their affairs (no pun intended) under control. They are faithful and loyal. You don’t need constant reassurance of this—you just know. What you don’t do is constantly grill a person about where he or she is and with whom he or she is spending time. You don’t have him or her followed looking for proof of infidelity. You don’t snoop around in his or her personal belongings or private places. You trust that he or she can be trusted.
Of course, there will inevitably be someone you trusted who didn’t deserve it, but don’t allow that to shake the foundation of your self-confidence. It is right to trust the person with whom you are involved. If he or she is undeserving of your trust, in time this will be revealed to you and then you can move on and forgive—whether or not you choose to stay with the person. But if your choice is to forgive and stay, then put trust into an action verb once more. It does no good to stay if the trust is forever gone. You will find that eats at your self-esteem daily and you will turn into someone you don’t recognize and definitely don’t like. Be the person you want to be in the relationship. Don’t let paranoia and suspicion ruin a good thing.
I was recently talking to one of my clients about her readiness to begin a new relationship. This woman, Susan, had been divorced for about five years and believed she was ready for a new dating relationship in her life but nothing was happening for her. I asked her if there was something holding her back. She is an attractive and fun-loving person. I suggested that maybe her ex-husband was still holding too much power over her emotions to allow her to engage in a relationship with someone new. She thought about that and realized that what really happened is that when her husband had an affair with a much younger woman, it totally shook her self-esteem. If she doesn’t like herself, how can someone else be attracted to her?
So often, when our trust is shattered, we tend to look at ourselves. What’s wrong with me? Why did someone I love betray me? Why didn’t I see it? Instead, we need to look at the character flaw in the other person. When someone makes a promise to another and breaks it, then that is a flaw in them, not you. Trusting really comes down to which is most important to you—trust or self-protection? If you are more concerned with keeping yourself safe, you probably won’t trust because you are afraid of being hurt. However, can you really protect yourself? Won’t you still be hurt to learn of a loved one’s deception? Without trust, you will never achieve that level of intimacy a trusting relationship provides.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I have found there are many reasons for married people having affairs. Much of the time, couples describe a distancing occurring in their relationship where they don’t spend enjoyable or meaningful time together. Their sexual relationship also becomes less frequent or non-existent. Unfortunately, when this happens and couples don’t discuss their difficulties, there is a high risk of one partner having an affair. In addition, with social media being so available, either one or both partners may seek to meet others on the internet. These meetings often begin out of lonliness, but turn into more emotionally intimate and sexual connections.
It is also common for men and some women to view pornographic websites when feeling angry, sad, or alone as a way to channel the negative emotions. These behaviors of having an affair, or using the internet do not solve the problems within the marriage. Avoidance only postpones the needed connection and communication in the marriage in order to solve the marital discord. The longer the disconnection, the more difficult it can become to re-connect and save the marriage.
I have seen many couples on the verge of divorce. When both partners are willing to work in the reconnection process, they can have very good success on not only saving the relationship, but having a better relationship the ever. When one partner wants to work on the marriage and the other is ambivalent or is “sitting on the fence” about remaining married, it is still possible to improve the relationship and save the marriage. Divorce does not necessarily lead to people being happier in their lives. And, second marriages have as high a divorce rate as first marriages.
I believe that we have a choice in how we deal with conflict within a relationship. Being direct and honest with your partner can often lead to working through differences and making your relationship better. Having open conflict and discussing it, is a healthy way of dealing with your relationship. Avoidance, lack of communication, dishonesty, holding on to resentments, anger, alcohol and drug abuse, and going outside of your relationship is a sure way of bringing on more problems and most likely, divorce.
I invite you, my readers, if you are in a troublesome relationship, to take on the challenge of being open and direct with your partner about your feelings. Do this in a conversational way while being respectful in how you present yourself. If you or your partner is angry, cool down before approaching one another. There is really no such thing as being “right or wrong”. These are only beliefs, not facts. If you think you are right and your partner is wrong, the chances are that you will lose out on an opportunity to work through your differences. Being respectful, direct and honest can be stressful. However, the rewards can be high. Being negative or avoiding your partner will result with little or no reward, and probably very high stress.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
For thousands of years, human beings have looked down on their emotions. We’ve seen them as primitive passions, the unfortunate legacy of our animal past. When we do stupid things – say, eating too much cake, or sleeping with the wrong person, or taking out a subprime mortgage – we usually blame our short-sighted feelings. People commit crimes of passion. There are no crimes of rationality.
This bias against feeling has led people to assume that reason is always best. When faced with a difficult dilemma, most of us believe that it’s best to carefully assess our options and spend a few moments consciously deliberating the information. Then, we should choose the alternative that best fits our preferences. This is how we maximize utility; rationality is our Promethean gift.
But what if this is all backwards? What if our emotions know more than we know? What if our feelings are smarter than us?
While there is an extensive literature on the potential wisdom of human emotion – David Hume was a prescient guy – it’s only in the last few years that researchers have demonstrated that the emotional system (aka Type 1 thinking) might excel at complex decisions, or those involving lots of variables. If true, this would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we’ve long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be more intelligent, at least in some conditions.
The latest demonstration of this effect comes from the lab of Michael Pham at Columbia Business School. The study involved asking undergraduates to make predictions about eight different outcomes, from the Democratic presidential primary of 2008 to the finalists of American Idol. They forecast the Dow Jones and picked the winner of the BCS championship game. They even made predictions about the weather.
Here’s the strange part: although these predictions concerned a vast range of events, the results were consistent across every trial: people who were more likely to trust their feelings were also more likely to accurately predict the outcome. Pham’s catchy name for this phenomenon is the emotional oracle effect.
Consider the results from the American Idol quiz: while high-trust-in-feelings subjects correctly predicted the winner 41 percent of the time, those who distrusted their emotions were only right 24 percent of the time. The same lesson applied to the stock market, that classic example of a random walk: those emotional souls made predictions that were 25 percent more accurate than those who aspired to Spock-like cognition.
What explains these paradoxical results? The answer involves processing power. In recent years, it’s become clear that the unconscious brain is able to process vast amounts of information in parallel, thus allowing it to analyze large data sets without getting overwhelmed. (Human reason, in contrast, has a very strict bottleneck and can only process about four bits of data at any given moment.) But this raises the obvious question: how do we gain access to all this analysis, which by definition is taking place outside of conscious awareness?
Here’s where emotions come in handy. Every feeling is like a summary of data, a quick encapsulation of all the information processing that we don’t have access to. (As Pham puts it, emotions are like a “privileged window” into the subterranean mind.) When it comes to making predictions about complex events, this extra information is often essential. It represents the difference between an informed guess and random chance.
How might this work in everyday life? Let’s say, for example, that you’re given lots of information about how twenty different stocks have performed over a period of time. (The various share prices are displayed on a ticker tape at the bottom of a television screen, just as they appear on CNBC.) You’ll soon discover that you have difficulty remembering all the financial data. If somebody asks you which stocks performed the best, you’ll probably be unable to give a good answer. You can’t process all the information. However, if you’re asked which stocks trigger the best feelings – your emotions are now being quizzed – you will suddenly be able to identify the best stocks. According to Tilmann Betsch, the psychologist who performed this clever little experiment, your feelings will “reveal a remarkable degree of sensitivity” to the actual performance of all of the different securities. The investments that rose in value will be associated with the most positive emotions, while the shares that went down in value will trigger a vague sense of unease.
But this doesn’t meant we can simply rely on every fleeting whim. The subjects had to absorb all that ticker-tape data, just as Pham’s volunteers seemed to only benefit from the emotional oracle effect when they had some knowledge of the subject. If they weren’t following college football, then their feelings weren’t helpful predictors of the BCS championship game.
The larger lesson, then, is that our emotions are neither stupid nor omniscient. They are imperfect oracles. Nevertheless, a strong emotion is a reminder that, even when we think we know nothing, our brain knows something. That’s what the feeling is trying to tell us.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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