Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Wisdom of a Child

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The wisdom of a child.

One of my most useful quotes comes from Jon Kabat Zinn:

Think of children as Zen masters in little bodies. They will bring you to every lesson you need to learn in life.

 

My little Zen masters have taught me invaluable lessons, and continue to do so every day. I had an advanced course this morning when my 14 year old taught me that I sometimes don’t listen very well, despite the fact that, a large part of my livelihood comes from my ability to teach others to listen.

He taught me that while parents think their goal is to teach a child how and what to be, what they really need is us to create an environment that allows and encourages their skills to flourish, even when as parents, we don’t understand their skill set.

I’ve learned that sometimes a six year old is the smartest person in the room. A client recently told me about an accident that happened to their younger child. While she was in a bit of shock over the affair, her six year old sat calmly beside her and kept reassuring her that things would be fine.

I’ve learned that adults often use the same behavior they criticize their children for- like yelling when they are angry. We tell ourselves that our anger is justified because it’s something big. But in reality, what a child is yelling about is equally big if not bigger to them because they often don’t have the tools or resources to counteract what is confronting them at the time. If we want them to stop that, maybe we should as well.

I’ve learned that you should carefully choose your words; they can crush someone’s soul if you forget to love a person when you speak to them. But in that same lesson, I also learned that love from a child is unbelievable strong and its power along with a little time, can often heal the deepest of wounds.

I’ve learned that most things in life can and should become lower in priority then missing a moment to share something important with another person. And that often what a person wants to share, isn’t the thing they are showing you, but rather the opportunity to let you know how important you are to them because they want to share it with you. If you are lucky enough to realize that at the time, don’t get lost trying to critique the thing you are looking at.

I’ve learned that- oh who am I kidding? I haven’t learned that patience is cultivated by lots of practice. I’m still working on this one. But I want to learn it so I’ll keep practicing. And I’m confident my Zen masters will remain at work to teach me.

I’ve learned that your body is an incredible source of wisdom. Things work a lot better if you listen to it and not try and cover up its messages with societal rules. Pee when you have to pee. Sleep when you have to sleep and eat when you have to eat.

I’ve learned that there aren’t really a lot of things that separate kids from adults. Adults have more cash, kids can bend and stretch more and run faster. But beyond a few things, we are more similar than different. It’s just that adults have more things to hide their fears and inadequacies behind. We have fancier words, letters behind our names and more powerfully built and long standing illusions than kids do. They use make believe to soothe themselves and so do we, but we are better at defending our coping mechanisms as legitimate. They use teddy bears. We use chemicals and compulsions.

I’ve learned that most things can be better explained in books 10 pages long and pictures than one with 300 pages and a bibliography.

And with the birth of my children I learned that love is something we decide. We extend our love to them before we ever know who they are. Even when they are covered in muck, red faced, wrinkly and screaming. Love is our power to give or to withhold. Whether we love a person or not has a lot less to do with who they are and what they do, and a lot more to do with what we are willing to pay attention to or let go.

This is such a brief snippet of the things I’ve learned or am learning from my Zen masters. What are yours? I hope to add to this list, and would love to know yours as well.

Please leave me a comment, and I hope you’ll pass this on to someone else and suggest they subscribe as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Way is North?

 

 

 

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This morning I had to run some errands before work. I tried to leave myself enough time. But I was day dreaming and I, unfortunately, took a wrong turn. I was actually on a familiar road, but that road had nothing in common with my first destination. However, since it was familiar, I drove pretty far down the path before I woke up and realized I had to turn around.

But turn around is what I did. It cost me enough time that I cut it close getting my tasks done while still arriving at work on time.

This is similar to the feeling I have when people tell me about their life not being on the right path. The dilemma is that, often they are afraid to turn around and take another direction. The road they are on may look familiar, so they stay, even when they know it won’t lead them to where they ultimately hope to go. They may stay the course because they feel safe knowing which twists and turns lie ahead. Another thing that keeps people stuck is the feeling that sometimes it may feel like it’s too late to turn around. They’ve lost too much time. So they concede to live the remainder of their life going where they don’t really want to go, rather than risk ending up some place else in between.

My first career illustrates this challenge. I fell into a line of work and then kept doing it because it fulfilled financial needs. I hated it, and knew my growth was pretty limited, but taking another path meant I had to get an education. For awhile, that seemed unsurmountable. I shudder now to think how miserable I would have remained, had I not turned around and gone in another direction. Now I love my job and have for 23 years.

When I contemplated a divorce in my first marriage I was scared of the unknown. I remember thinking what if I leave in hopes of something more and end up with everything less. I recall a friend who said to me , “It’s true, that if you leave, you might not get what you want. But if you stay, you guarantee that you won’t.” That advice helped me make the decision and I started down a new path.

Please be sure that as I describe these two major turning points in my own life, neither of them landed me on a shiny road made of gold with clear painted signs and beautiful flowers along the perimeters. Sometimes my car stalled, I got lost, it rained, sleeted and snowed on my journey. But each new day, the sun rose and I resumed my travel. I had to learn to remember that the sun is still present even when I can’t see it through the clouds.

One of the things that helps a traveler is having a good map. So often, we forget to ask ourselves at the start of our journey, where is it we really want to go. Many of us end up going where others suggest. Perhaps well meaning others, but in the end, no one can really know where each of us needs to go better than we will. It’s personal. The answer needs to come from within.

Another useful tool is the ability to stop and ask for directions. Though no two people will experience the same journey in an identical way, others can still help you seek out and recognize milestones.   They can let you know at least some of the pitfalls ahead to expect, or caution you about detours or construction. In non metaphor terms, this can mean someone with a lot of marriage experience teaching you that marriage happiness ebbs and flows. Another example is a career mentor who might tell you the pros and cons about a vocation with honesty.

But probably the most useful tool for a traveler is willingness . You have to be willing to stay awake at the wheel and not daydream like I did on my morning adventure. And in that state of attentiveness, be willing to ask yourself if you are going where you want. And if the answer is no, be willing to turn around, no matter how much time you have invested.  Because even if you don’t ultimately end up there, at least you’ll know that you were headed towards your happiness, rather than going further away.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this entry. I’d love to hear your comments and I hope you’ll pass it on.   Until net time- take good care.

 

Significance

 

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Recently I wrote about depression prompted by the suicidal death of Robin Williams. I did not know until Thursday, a client I worked with over many years had also ended their life a few weeks ago.

Although I had not seen “C” for a few years, we usually shared a phone call about once a year. As our birthdays were only a few weeks apart, she usually initiated contact by wishing me happy birthday. However, the last time I spoke to her was a couple of years ago. I understand at the start of a relationship that my job is to ultimately say goodbye to people. I give them the tools that they will hopefully continue using, to improve and enhance their lives, long after they no longer come to my office. I’ve been blessed that many continue to update me over the years, even if it is a brief text or announcement of a life event. I am both grateful for and humbled by these messages.

I had been thinking about C a lot lately and decided to leave her a voice mail. A day or two went by without a return call, and that was unusual. And then I received a message from her sister asking me to return her call. My initial sense was C had likely passed, but I attributed it to one of her many health problems. I was wrong.

C and I were the same age, and thus grew into middle adulthood concurrently. She watched me through a variety of life changes including motherhood and maturing as a therapist. I watched her perform as a creative and gifted genius whose talents never ceased to amaze me. She made cuddly toys for each of my boys at their birth. My shelf displays a treasure box she made to commemorate my marriage. Proficient in any artistic medium, C could also fix things, grow things, and understand difficult concepts far more easily than most. She gave of herself and her resources unselfishly, perhaps at times to her own detriment. The world lost one of its jewels in her passing.

It is not guilt that motivates my thoughts now, but profound sadness. I know in every corner of my heart that C pushed me to grow in the ways that, allowed me to sit with her struggles to the best of my ability and then some. C and I engaged in many conversations over the years about her contemplation of suicide. She postulated that if she left the earth, no one would care. My response was always that it would matter to me. Through my discussion this week with C’s sister and reading tributes made on her behalf, it’s clear I was not the only one who felt this way. I can only hope that she now knows the words were true.

I am often annoyed when others use public forums like Facebook and Twitter to announce snippets of personal tragedy. They feel like impersonal drive by shootings that seek attention with little regard for the reader. I have tried to thoughtfully assess whether or not using this forum puts me in the same category and I can only hope it does not. The purpose of this blog is to use the stories I know to convey information about the challenges of life for both my clients and those who invest their time reading my entries. Therefore, this post is not an attempt to process my own grief, for that will take far longer than can be digested in these few minutes. Rather, it is to demonstrate that the relationship between a patient and therapist, although contained within professional limits, does not fail to imprint the therapist, as well as, the patient. I often say I love my job. Perhaps a more accurate description is I love the people I am fortunate enough to know in ways they often don’t share with the rest of the world. And it is an honor I am humbly aware of when I am chosen to be that person.

There is yet another important piece I hope to convey. Although I don’t love his writing style, I think the message in Mitch Alboms “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” is important. Simply stated, it is common for us all to consider small occurrences and encounters in life as insignificant. Yet, because of our interrelatedness, you may likely have a profound effect on someone’s life without knowing it at the time. You. Yes You. And because of that, please do not underestimate your significance here in this world. I’ve found that others rarely note the flaws that you may believe are so prominent once we move past the age of playground taunts. Many of us see your worth and your gifts and want to love you if you will allow us. But you have to be willing to stay in order for that to happen.

I heard a story about a man that presented what he hoped would be a useful lecture to a group of teens. It was new material for him however, and he was unsure of how they would receive him. At the lectures conclusion, the group exited in a processional line. One girl thanked him and handed him a slip of paper as she passed it to him adding that he could have it, she no longer needed it. The man later retrieved it from his pocket and discovered to his surprise, it was a suicide note. If you are mindful enough to realize the impact others have on you, don’t hold back from telling them so. You may be the impetus to tip them on the side of being able to see their significance as well.

As always I appreciate and welcome your comments. If you found this helpful, I hope you will pass it on to someone else and suggest they subscribe. Take care.

 

 

Operating Instructions

 

 

 

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Operating Instructions

Recently it seems I‘ve been asked a lot how I come up with blog topics. There are a couple of ways actually. First, there are a lot of ideas that have circulated in my brain for a long time and I’ve never written in a formal way before. Many of them are stories I’ve used repetitiously in my career over the years and found them helpful. So sharing those is easy. I have an ongoing list that I draw upon from time to time.

The second way is when I feel a reaction to something going on in current events, or happening in my own life. My goal when I provide these is to offer another way of looking at something that might be happening, with hopes that it can be applicable to your life as well.

The third source is perhaps the most quirky. Sometimes I think I have a rather peculiar brain, but over the years I’ve learned to run with it, rather than fight it. Mostly what I mean by this is that when an idea hits me I try to capture it as best as I can. Often this is when I’m in the shower, or driving, or immediately upon waking up in the morning. I find that when I fail to get it down its usually pretty much gone forever. And I get a lot of ideas.

I like to think of these ideas as whispers from the Universe. They usually aren’t hand engraved announcements but rather a nudge to make me aware of something or more curious about something. When the latter occurs, I will often go dig up a little more information to better understand a topic. What I find so interesting, is that many times, its something I previously had no interest in.

My reason for sharing this with you is to encourage you to not “ignore” whispers. Perhaps you too, have a peculiar brain that you haven’t been “listening” to. One very common place people experience this challenge is in dreaming.  Often, they will tell me that they don’t remember their dreams when they wake. I’ve found this is a cultivated practice. Try keeping a note pad beside your bed and jotting something down, even if you wake up in the middle of the night. Once your subconscious knows you are taking notes, it is more likely to be a little more forthcoming.   You may find some helpful insight.

As for daytime whispers, try not discounting the information you take in and brushing it off. I’m not suggesting you try to find the shape of Jesus in your nacho chips here. I am however, suggesting that, my legitimization of events that many would chalk up to coincidence, has proven to be very helpful to me over the years. Anne Lammot titled her best-selling book “ Operating Instructions” after the phrase her father often used. She reports that he when he felt stuck, he would look to the sky and ask for his next set of operating instructions.

The biggest resistance in this arena for most of us is when we get a “message” that may be our operating instructions, we are not open to what may come, but rather are focused on what we want to hear. This often blunts us from hearing what we are offered. Another resistance is that we may not want to stop what we are doing and get quiet enough to take note. I am particularly resentful when my operating instructions come before my desired wake up time. I’ve also had to pull off the road a time or two in order to make notes. Now, I try and carry along a micro tape recorder and get down as much as I can even when I’m driving along.

Just to be clear, I’m certainly not suggesting to anyone that I hear “voices”. At least not in the technical sense. But like many of my other posts, cultivating a posture of mindfulness is essential in being able to notice what happens within you.

I’d like to finish today with a quote I love from children’s author Shel Silverstein

 

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

“I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.

” No teacher, preacher, parent, friend Or wise man can decide

What’s right for you–just listen to

The voice that speaks inside.”

Think outside the box

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A few years ago Taco Bell scored a great pun with their marketing campaign of “think outside the bun”. It was a clever twist on thinking outside the box. Are you familiar with what thinking outside the box refers to?

If not, here’s at least part of the back story.

Gestalt theoriest’s credit the phrase to experiments led by Karl Dunker in 1945. Subjects were given a candle, a box, thumbtacks and matchsticks and then asked to figure out how to attach the candle to the wall in such a way as to avoid dripping. The findings led the researcher to conclude the concept of “functional fixedness” or a person’s inability to see an object as itself, free of the meaning it has in the greater scheme of things.   To learn more about this here is a link:

http://io9.com/the-experiment-that-led-to-the-concept-of-thinking-out-1463883774

 

Another argued origin of thinking outside the box is associated with the The 9 dot puzzle. While the puzzle first appeared in Sam Loyd’s 1914 Cyclopedia of Puzzles, many management consultants throughout the 60’s and 70’s takes responsibility for linking the puzzle to a strategy for problem solving.

It works like this:

Take a piece of paper, and draw dots three across and three down so you have a square made of 9 dots.

The goal is to use only 4 straight lines (no taking your pencil off the paper), and connect all 9 dots. You may want to pause and try this a few times before I give you the spoiler.

 

The paradigm set up by the 9 dots causes most people to look at a “box” that contains the dots. They generally try and approach the solution by staying within the confines of the “box”. But its not a requirement, and in fact, can’t be achieved unless you go or think outside the box. To see the solution, click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrlJHs6-tpo

Thinking inside the box or seeing something the way we are used to see it, (functional fixedness) is something we are all vulnerable to when we are faced with a problem. Our natural tendency is to try doing more of what we have done in the past. Sometimes it will work again. But very often it won’t. So we try and repeat it louder, faster, harder- still to no avail. Thinking outside the box means to leap into the area of what hasn’t been done before. But in order to get there, we have to become willing to see what we are looking at from a different angle or different lens.

In Dunkers experiments, people were only successful if they could use the box as fair game in their solution, rather than seeing the box as only something that held the contents of the other items. With the 9 dots solution, you have to be willing to draw lines that extend out beyond the boundaries of a box and see the space around the dots as fair game.

To solve problems in your own life you have to become willing to see yourself with a different set of eyes or labels than those you may be most familiar with.

Here is an example. I met with someone the other day who hopes to make a career change into sales. She has a marketing degree. She also worked her way through college as a server in a few restaurants. She said she gets interviews for sales jobs, but keeps getting beat out by people with more sales experience.

I suggested she wedge her foot in the door and begin talking about her sales experiencing rather than apologizing for the lack of it. She looked at me puzzled since she had just told me she didn’t have any.

So I pretended to be her in an interview and said the following as if speaking to a potential employer:

On paper it looks like I don’t have sales experience. But I can tell you that working as a server has given me a ton of sales experience. I have to begin selling the minute I walk up to a table. My attitude and demeanor have to convince the patrons that they want to invest in what is going to be a great experience for them. They may ask my opinion about menu items. I have to be knowledgeable about every item on the menu and have the ability to sell it honestly, whether or not it matches my own personal likes or dislikes. And then I have to try and convince them to buy more than they came in for. And I do it hour after hour.

My client looked at me surprised that it made so much sense to her. She had been seeing sales one way, and I went outside that box.

Do you need to look at your job, or your skills through a new lense?

How about a pathology or illness?

What about your financial state?

Could a significant relationship of yours shift by changing the paradigm through which you label it currently?

Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear your ideas and experiments.

Thanks for stopping by.  I ‘d love it if you pass this on to someone else and suggest they subscribe as well.

Life below the surface

 

 

 

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I took a fairly hard stance when Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose. I tend to be somewhat unsympathetic about stars and drugs. And yet,  I find myself with a mixed reaction to the death of Robin Williams. Actually, it seems incomplete to say the death. It’s more accurate to include the phrase suicide in the death of Robin Williams.

After prolific musical artist Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, Don McClean wrote his classic melody “American Pie”. The chorus lyrics include “the day the music died”.   Given the widespread media coverage on Williams, it seems August 11 is a day many people will associate as the one the laughter died. Although I personally sometimes failed to appreciate his comedic talent, Robin Williams was truly a genius. He was also an outstanding dramatic actor. I wrote a post a while back that I will publish at a later date about his role in Good Will Hunting.

Robin Williams was also a man. One I know little about, other than what he puts in the public eye for us to interpret. He was vocal about his chemical dependence and struggles with depression. And despite what he now has taken away from us to enjoy, the reality is he never owed it to us. It wasn’t ours to keep.

Depression is a complicated thing that we sometimes over simplify. Many people use the word with an almost flippant regard. “Oh that was a depressing movie”. Or, “ I’m so depressed about this”. People that suffer from migraines understand there is an enormous difference between a headache and a migraine. People who have experienced clinical depression understand it is not like the feeling of being “bummed out” or sad.

I was a therapist treating “depression” for a number of years before I fully understood what it was. Or at least my version of it. I have had loss and less than optimal times in my life and always managed to “pick myself up by the boot straps” and move along. Until my 2nd pregnancy that is. I attributed my mood shift to my hormonal havoc, but I experienced a full fledged clinical depression. My intellectual functioning and emotional state simply would not line up. I was happy to be pregnant. I was relieved to be pregnant after nearly a year of trying. But I found it impossible to feel joy, or much of anything beyond a jagged numbness. Fortunately for me, the depression lifted almost immediately after giving birth.

Most of what I recall was the inability to feel motivated to do much of anything. Every action seemed labored and unworthy of the effort it required. The promised payoffs provided little to no incentive. Even my beautiful toddler at the time could not propel me to be excited about anything.

I once had a client who attempted suicide. Her description included a firm awareness that she would take her life at the end of a particular evening. She had dinner with a friend, and reported that, all the while she carried on a normal conversation, she was calmly thinking in her own head “only ___more hours until I kill myself”.

Depression hijacks your brain. The things you want to think, the things others tell you to think don’t have much impact. It’s kind of like the flight attendant yelling at the hijacker “You know, if you just put down that gun and take your seat, we’ll all have a much more enjoyable flight”. The hijacker isn’t interested in what the flight attendant has to say.

Medication is kind of like an Air Marshal. It can step in with authority that none of the other passengers have the skills to use. But even medication doesn’t help everyone. Some hijackers are resistant to even Air Marshals.

Therapy? Yes it helps. But not just the therapy that takes place in someone’s office. Depressed people often find themselves curled up in an emotional ball protecting their vulnerability from the world. Yet, what they most need is to be touched by as many supporting structures as possible. Ironically, the thing they feel least like doing, “talking” is the most helpful during depression. And they need to be “doing”, even if it just begins as going through the motions. At very least, doing, keeps you from drowning in the sea of one’s own negative sense of hopelessness.

Doing allows for the world to be a little larger than the black hole of one’s own depressed mind. And similarly talking provides not only an unburdening, but also a way to feel some sense of another person’s non depressed energy to remember what it feels like, during times you feel zapped of vitality. It can also be a way to see one’s value as worth more than a depressed person might be able to conjure up on their own.

Part of the dilemma however, is that non depressed people don’t usually want to hang out for very long with depressed people. This is usually painfully obvious to the depressed. And so Instead of seeking contact, they are more likely to retreat behind a façade or to their private hell where they can suffer silently.

Being with a depressed person doesn’t require us to solve their problems. Nor, does it require us to take their problems on as our own. More often than not, it harkens us to just be there in that space with them for a few moments without judgment or insistence that they change. Think of it as providing just one glass of water on a long path for a weary traveler. You don’t have to be an endless fountain and quench all of their thirst, simply provide enough for that leg of the journey. The traveler may still elect to end their journey prematurely, but they will do so with the knowledge that someone tolerated them as they truly are before they leave.  Sometimes that is the most needed and effective gift we can provide to another human.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  I’d love to hear your comments.  If you found this helpful, please pass it on and suggest someone you know subscribe.  Until next time- Take Care

 

Bad Hair

 

 

 

For an audio version click on the link below- If you are listening on a smart phone scroll to the end of the message and click on the sound icon.

 

I’m having a bad hair day. I pretty much have bad hair days through most of April and August because these are the months it rains a lot in St. Louis and the humidity makes my hair fat. And occasionally I have bad hair days at other times,  but I also have some really good hair days. Today isn’t one of them,  but I do know the difference.

I didn’t always though. When I was a kid I had this wild mound of super curly black hair. Actually it’s pretty much the same as I have now, just with no gray mixed in. I also didn’t have some of the great hair products I use now to keep my locks from oozing into the personal space of a person standing next to me.

Just about everyone I knew while I was growing up had silky straight blonde or light brown hair. But not me. So I felt like an odd duck. Okay I felt like an ugly duck. An ugly duck with bad untamable hair that had a mind of its own.

My mom, bless her heart, tried to do everything she could. I would lay my head on the ironing board while she tried to flatten it out. Not my head, just my hair. I can pick up the scent of singed hair a mile away. Over the years I tried every imaginable straightener on my own and professionally. I’ve spent a fortune on brushes, hair dryers, curling irons and OMG my retirement fund went entirely for creams, shampoos, conditioners, hot oil treatments and I can’t remember what else.

When I was about 4 my severely mentally retarded brother ran a wind up car through my hair. Cutting it out did not leave pretty results. Try picturing RoseAnn Rosannadanna with chopped out sections.

Along the way of my life, people would say “is it natural?” My answer was always “Who would pay to do this to themselves?” Others, (including my mother with baby fine poker straight hair) would say “oh you are so lucky”. I didn’t feel lucky.

But a few years ago,   I did what the popular movie Frozen says.   I “let it go”.   I let my curls be whatever they wanted to be for the most part plus or minus a little anti frizz stuff.

Ironically, or not so, it’s not that unusual when a stranger says to me, an adult, “I love your hair”.   And now I realize in fact that I AM lucky. My sister told me recently had left the house a couple times recently and realized once she was out and about haven forgotten to comb her hair. I can’t remember the last time I combed my hair. I don’t even own a hairbrush. I used to spend an hour a day blow drying my hair out. Now, my morning routine is pretty much limited to a 3 second glance in the mirror just to make sure no wild animals burrowed in during the night. We live on wooded acreage. It could happen.

Am I really writing an entire post about my hair? Nope. Stay tuned.

Recently, I received contact from a friend from about 30 years ago. Although we’re still trying to catch up on each other’s lives, one thing has become oddly apparent. Who she knew back then and who I knew her to be were two people that clearly did not exist. We both credited the other with possessing skills and strengths that were far from grounded in reality.

Perhaps we are simply blind or too inexperienced in our youth to see things of value properly. Maybe I will learn in 20 years that the things I think I see today are just as misguided. But what I now know is that my hair hasn’t changed much. I just have learned to see it from a very different lens. And similarly, the girl I was, back when my friend knew me, desperately wanted to live a life in which she could feel legitimate. The problem was that she took cues from everyone else to determine what that might/should be. It was only once I began to listen to my own voice somewhere along the way I created a life I recognized. I know today there are still people who see me as something they think I am, rather than who I really am. The difference is that i now understand it is their vision that is off, rather than whatever mask I have put forward.

I stopped wearing masks a long time ago. I found they messed up my hair.

Are there parts of yourself that you could appreciate in someone else, but fail to embrace within yourself?

Do people know you? Or do you let them know who you want them to see? Are you hiding your best attributes in fear that they won’t be good enough?

Do you try to mold parts of yourself into someone else or society’s criteria?

Are you judging yourself by a standard that is far more harsh than you would extend to another?

Is it okay to not be the same as everyone else? Or even the same as everyone expects you to be?

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I’d love to hear your comments. If you found this helpful, I hope you’ll pass it on to someone else.   Until next time, take good care.

Justin Bieber gets religion?

 

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I heard recently that, Justin has reportedly found God, is doing bible study and trying to use that avenue to turn his life around. The skeptic in me thinks Justin is trying to turn his plummeting stardom and likability ratings around- but who am I to judge. And frankly, I hope the skeptic is wrong. Not because of a religious conviction, but because at the end of the day I do firmly believe that the path to change always begins with the decision to do so followed by a single step in a different direction.

This morning I received a text from an old client I haven’t seen in a while. He told me he had been thinking of coming in for a while. I said I was looking forward to seeing him and we set up an appointment. He said I shouldn’t be too excited, because he wasn’t feeling very proud of himself. I don’t know what we have ahead to work on. Frankly, it doesn’t change how I’m feeling. I’m fairly confident that regardless of what he has to present, the fact that he already has an internal feeling that he knows he is behaving in ways he doesn’t feel good about, and is willing to talk about this, is justification for my optimism.

I am often asked if I think people change. My answer is yes. And it’s based on more than the PolyAnna optimism I’ve been charged with at times. While many people don’t change, I believe more often than not, people are capable of change. However, it is unlikely to happen unless there is something more compelling to go towards, or something compelling enough to motivate them to move away from. What qualifies as compelling varies from person to person.

 

From the outside looking in, we tend to view the need for someone else to change as pretty straight forward. Woman beaten by husband- leave him. Husband using alcohol with poor health- Don’t drink. Wife disappearing in emaciation- just eat. Employee losing wife due to overworking- just set boundaries.

I think the important thing to remember is that people don’t develop problematic behaviors in a vacuum because they are attractive or fun. Behavior is meaningful. It serves a purpose. The woman may tolerate the beatings because she is financially or emotionally dependent. The husband may be using alcohol to self-medicate other issues. The emaciated woman may use her body as a way to set boundaries between herself and others that she has been unsuccessful doing any other way and so on. I do not offer these as excuses, but as explanations or as a small glimpse of what might lie under the surface that we do not see in others when we judge.

That said, dysfunctional or maladaptive behavior needs to be addressed. But change in my opinion is a process that occurs over time, not an event from a short term burst of enlightenment. People can have an “aha” moment, feel the heal, and seal it by singing a little Kumbaya during a group hug. But chances are when they return to the mundane routine of their everyday world, the very factors that led to their choice of behavior will still be waiting for them. Real change involves learning how to be different internally even though the environment hasn’t changed.

Change takes work. It requires introspection, objectivity and honesty. It also requires a willingness to tolerate the uneasiness of stepping out of your comfort zone while you wait for something better to grow in its place. It also requires a willingness to fail and start again, sometimes over and over again.

I think I’ll wrap this one up with a little humor with a joke that although corny, does make the point.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one- but the light bulb has to really really want to change.

 

I hope you’ll leave a comment and pass my blog on to someone else suggesting they subscribe!  Thanks for stopping by and Take care.

 

 

Scavenger Hunt

 

 

 

Click below for an audio version.  If you are listening on a smartphone, scroll to the bottom of the message and click on the sound icon.

 

I love a good contest. I love to win things and I’m very competitive. How about you? I’ve been writing a lot about mindfulness and breaking out of your traditional bubble. Now I’d like to go a little crazy with my blog and help you put the words into action with a contest.

To help us with this mission here is what I’ve constructed along with the ground rules.

The contest is available ONLY to subscribers. So if you are a lurker… put your email in the little box that says subscribe, wait for you confirmation from Feedblitz and activate your subscription. You may subscribe anytime up until the contest ends to participate.

This contest is based on the honor system…. So be honorable.

The contest is a scavenger hunt. You find the items and then report back to me with ONE email that details (briefly) your success. Or you can be adventurous and post it directly in the comments section. You must find 10 of the 12 to be complete. I will not announce the winner until the contest period ends. I will not disclose ANYONE’s name publicly on the results, but will incorporate some of the finds into the post concluding the contest. You automatically agree to this by your choice of participation.

The winning prize for the first person who complete 10 with an email or comment is a       20.00 gift card to Bread Co. Yes, its worth the effort so go for it.

Second prize— mystery prize for whatever ends up giving me the biggest smile. And my mystery prizes can be awesome if I get a big smile.

 

All clues must occur during the contest period Monday 8/4 thru Sunday midnight CST 8/17. So don’t get left behind.

Here are the clues I want you to go find/experience:

The smile of a child – not your own child

The wisdom of a person more mature than you (hopefully not the same as the child above)

A sound in nature you don’t normally notice

The brightness of a star that stands out from the others

Witness an act of kindness

Experience and notice an act of kindness done to/for you

The awareness you are experiencing a peaceful feeling

Perform an act of kindness

Experience a moment of tolerating your imperfection

Awareness of a moment where you consciously select optimism when given a choice

Completing something on your list from DO one Thing list (see post May 14, 2014)

Get someone else to subscribe to my blog (you knew this was coming)

That’s it. Now its your turn to run, play, be kind, and be mindful. On your marks, get set go.