The blessing of negativity

December 28, 2017

If you are having trouble getting yourself to take action, try saying no to yourself.

This is actually what you do anyways when you hesitate to do something you don’t want to do. You are telling yourself no, and you don’t know how to deal with it.

Your brain will try to justify it, and often have no good reason.

But if you expect to hear no from yourself, you can prepare for it.

Often, your ‘reason’ for not doing something is some vague anticipation of a negative feeling associated with the action.

But the negative feeling is not a result of the thing you are thinking about doing. It is the result of hesitation.  If you were doing it, you would be focused on the task at hand, not these negative emotions. Your brain is doing the best it can until you start the action. Your brain wants to build on the negative feeling to the point where the ‘brake option’ is fully accessible, thus keeping its options open by not committing to a course of action. So negativity is positive in that it is your brains default way of keeping options open. It must work to promote our survival or we would not be so prone to it as a species.

We can learn to be grateful for the negativity and then reassure ourselves that we can stay flexible without forcing it through worry because we know the ‘brake option’ is going to exercise itself involuntarily.  The negativity exercises itself, like a parasympathetic muscle, making sure our brake systems work. It is reassuring to know this, and allows us to take action knowing that negative emotion will arise again, either as exercise, another ‘drill’, or a real situation where we have to put on the brakes , step back and do something different than we are doing.

Try seeing negativity in this softer light and see how it works for you.

To go with your gut, you need the guts to truly get to your gut.

December 16, 2017

You are going to read the beginning of this post and probably not see how you would ever use it. It is too long and complicated – not really feasible to use. It is the opposite of making decisions using your gut – the more left brain part of the equation.  It is useful and necessary to lay it all out. You’ll see why. At the end of this post I will offer something feasible. Promise.

If you are feeling badly or worried about any activity, thing or situation, instead of focusing on that thing – take stock of any agreements with others that you have related to it.

This can apply to anything. Sex requires agreement, for example. Washing dishes also involves agreement, and everything in between.

How do you know you have a good agreement? An agreement always involves two or more parties, so you can’t really every full know how the other side is with it. Start by looking at your part in it.  You have to compare now to what it was like before the agreement. This may be some time ago.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself. Don’t over think the answers initially.  GO through it quickly and then review if you think your answers need more added.

Who are the parties to this agreement?

Who is impacted by the agreement?

What is the financial impact of the agreement?  Earnings. Savings. Insurance – present and future?

How does it impact your time? Does it save time you time or take up more time

How does it impact your energy  – does it add to it or detract from it

How does it impact you emotionally? Frequency, duration and intensity of those feelings.

How well are others adhering to the agreement? What are the incentives and obstacles to adhering. How easy is it to enforce the agreement? How does that adherence and enforcement impact you financially, time wise, energy wise, and emotionally.

An agreement can save you time, money and energy, but if you hate living under the terms of the agreement, what is it worth?

How does this agreement impact your ability to negotiate other agreements?

How does it impact your authority to be party to other agreements?

What related problems does this agreement leave out?

What problems does this agreement impact? negatively or positively.

What’s the worst that can happen if you stop adhering to the agreement? What’s the best that can happen? What’s the worst that can happen if you continue to adhere to the agreement? What’s the best that can happen? I got this question from Dr Ben Carson book and I call it the WBWB question. You can apply it to any decision.

Now try to go through all these questions with the other parties to the agreement.



The GUTS hack:

It is hard to do this analysis because we spend a lot of time trying not to feel bad or uncomfortable.  We distract ourselves. We have agreements to do things that help us not to feel so bad about the impact of our own bad or fuzzy agreements on ourselves. As an example, we may have people who agree to interact with us on social media with us, or not complain about our being on social media, and that’s how we cope.

As I write this post and try to think of something to evaluate, I am finding it hard. I feel pretty good right now. Since I am doing well, who cares? Nothing is coming to mind, and this is a lengthy and complicated set of questions.

How can I distill it down? A recent or current unpleasant situation. Here is one that just happened.

9 year old Clara lost the horseshoe that we use to keep the shed door closed. She doesn’t remember where she put it.  Shed door was open for about 24 hours. I want her to not do things like that generally.  Are there any agreements related to this? In my mind, yes. But in reality, no.  She asked to go in the shed to get snow shovels and I agreed.  She did exactly what she said she was going to do. I didn’t give her a condition before saying yes.  I didn’t think about what else I care about could be impacted.

I negotiated a crap agreement – AGAIN!  How can I alert myself to these situations where I am being too hasty in making agreements?

Any time you make a decision, you are potentially impacting all the agreements you have in your life. If I go to the gym now, for example, I can’t spend any time, etc on any other agreements.  We make these calculations all the time.

We generally just go with our gut, and that’s fine, but we need ways to go deeper into our guts quickly – a hack. I suggest you ask the WBWB question outlined above.  It is a great question because it helps us see further into the future than current distractions tend to allow. It also helps us tap into our gut.

If you go to your gut using WBWB and you are still unsure and really want more certainty, go to the methods laid out in the beginning of this post to analyze the decision and related agreements. Your gut will tell you its limits and take you to your intellect as needed. You may only need to answer one of the questions and you will get closer to the certainty, the gut feeling that you need to decide. I could go into the whole left and right brain thing, but my gut tells me not too. If I’ve lost you already, more intellectual explanation is not going to convince you.

If you your gut tells you not to use this method then don’t. Just make sure it’s really your gut deciding and not only just your distracted, unfocused, too clever mind rationalizing your choice.


















Mental toughness

September 29, 2017

We generally see mental toughness as the ability to get yourself to do things you don’t want to do. And if those decisions improve you, even better. Decisions fall into four types of categories. 

Type 1. If you don’t want to do something and it improves you, good.  You are both improving and getting mentally tougher.

Type 2. If you don’t want to do something and it is worsening you, good.  You are least getting mentally tougher, and it will be motivation to find type 1 and 3. opportunities.  

Type 3. If you do want to do it and you are improving, good.  You are improving and can also relax and enjoy yourself. 

Type 4. If want to do it and it improves yoy, good. At least your enjoying yourself and can relax enough somewhat to seek type 1 and 3 decisions. 

I’m sorry…but it’s you

September 28, 2017

It is no secret  that we have to be on guard against manipulation when we negotiate. The best  manipulators execute strategies that feel comfortable enough to the  manipulated to go unnoticed.   Victims may actually feel stronger than ever,  just in ways that are useless.  The hardest thing to accept is that it is in very large part the manipulator in victims that makes them susceptible to manipulation… the greedy love of short-cuts. The antidote is  to insist on  assuming ones’s due share of risk and hard work,  no matter what.  Stay true. Be sincere. It will keep you safe, ironically enough.

Surrender, Responsibility and Intimacy

September 14, 2017

 Surrender means not controlling what we can’t control anyway.  Responsibility means listening to feelings — however inconvenient or unbecoming — and allowing them a voice when we make choices.  And intimacy means taking the (often terrifying) risk of being ourselves with another person and allowing that person to do the same.


from Steve Hauptman

Noted with pleasure: The long bag

September 14, 2017

Nicely explained.

Source: Noted with pleasure: The long bag

Seneca quotes

September 13, 2017

“we cease to be so angry once we cease to be so hopeful”

“No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity”
“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
it is better to be scorned by reason of simplicity than tortured by perpetual pretense”
All cruelty springs from weakness


April 7, 2017

Focus cues the direction of attention and effort to the most relevant specifics  (perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and/or actions) of a given environment while downgrading or ignoring the less relevant elements.

Prompt example:

Pay attention to what happens to the backing soda after the vinegar is added.

from Dr. George McCloskey

Executive Function Cluster: Attention


Self Regulation Executive Function Clusters

April 2, 2017




















Sense time













Estimate Time










from the work of  Dr. George McCloskey



April 2, 2017

Perception cues the use of sensory and perception processes to take information from the external environment or ‘inner awareness’ to tune into perceptions, emotions, thoughts, or actions as they are occurring.

Prompt examples:

Listen to me.  Look at the board.   How are you feeling now?

from Dr George McCloskey

Executive Function Cluster –  Attention


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