Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

Two ‘refusal rules’ to follow when you are stuck or procrastinating

May 4, 2016

If part of the problem is that you are just being lazy, own it, then try following these 2 rules if that is not enough to get unstuck.

 

I. Refuse to be a alone with the problem

Start conversations with people who are impacted by the same problem  or who are simply people who like to be helpful to you.

Try to reach agreements on how you can address the problem in a more coordinated way. Respect their decision to help you or not. Make sure they really want to help or can, and that they are comfortable saying no to involvement in your plan. If they say no, go to rule 2.

Sometimes just an agreement by them to be emotionally supportive can go a very long way.

 

2. Refuse to tolerate interference from people who decide not to coordinate efforts with you.

Sometimes people don’t agree with how you are going to address a problem and they want to do it their way. This can create more problems than the original problem! You can’t force them not to keep trying do it their way, but you can ask them to pause while you try it your way. You can also agree to try it their way for a time and if it fails,  ask them to try it your way.

Sometimes these conversations reopen the negotiations that ended when you were initially following rule 1.

 

Who in your life acknowledges that you matter ?

May 3, 2016

Oscar Wilde said that there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. We tend to think our motive is win in our arguments or business interactions, yet often you might really be motivated by trying to satisfy your need for attention. Attention may be ‘hostile’ or ‘friendly’ but still fill the appetite for attention. In the act of fighting, each is acknowledging that the other matters.

Our failure to understand our need for attention routinely lands us in trouble because it leaves us at the mercy of anyone, however unpleasant, who’s willing to bestow some. When people feel ignored, a political leader who makes them feel acknowledged will acquire their support, even if he’s an egomaniacal tyrant with no plans to improve their lives. A controlling or abusive partner will doubtless pay you plenty of attention, even as he or she destroys you. Worse, you’ll be predisposed to believe it when you’re told the abuse or message or whataver comes along with the attention is “for your own good.”  You are vulnerable to the message that too often accompanies the exercise of attention towards them. ”

We think of “attention-seeking” as a character flaw, but maybe the deliberate skillful seeking of attention is what is missing for many of us. We are made wiser and stronger as soon as we start to see it as a universal need – met in healthy or unhealthy ways.

 

( I did not write this – just summed up an article by an author whose name I left out when I photocopied it. The author is building on the work of Idries Shah as it intersects with current sociological and psychological research)

Some notes from a mindfulness training

May 3, 2016

Most of us have heard the saying, “What fires together, wires together.” A lot of it is not helpful. Without flexibility of attention, our old wiring will be our destiny.

So how so we work with it? We want to have an experience of something helpful. The intenton to be helpful to oneself or others is compassion. It is developed by paying attention without judgement or striving to whatever is happening.

Just sit and allow whatever comes up to come up.

You will feel some things you do not like.

Instead of feeling bad about feeling bad, let the suffering be an opprtunity to practice compassion.

See what it is like to slow things down, allow whatever is happening to happen. Stop trying or doing. This is not about getting something right.

Notice what happens. Then notice what happens next.  What is possible now? Allow playfulness. Allow compassion. Allow confidence.

Nothing changes unless you feel safe, safe to make mistakes, to bring attention to them, to live with them. The process gives greater equanimity and balance. Give yourself permission to not know.

 

You can live well with things you don’t like. You don’t have to be a victim. You are not a child.

 

“Letting it all be” doesn’t mean you stop efforts to improve your situation or your mindset.

 

The strain in pain lies mainly in the brain.

 

 

 

People are eager to participate when pain is recognized.

January 18, 2016

….a lot of people will run from you when you are in pain, or dismiss it. This causes people to be susceptible to manipulation by people who have an agenda and feign interest in your pain. So that’s a painful thought, but good people recognize pain too, in fact, it is a requirement for compassion which is generally expected from people we consider good.

 

The quote in the title comes from material by the late Jim Camp, a very successful negotation coach.

Communication Idolatry

December 31, 2015

 

Here is what I notice people do instead of converse:

 

tease

reassure

praise

criticize

vent

rant

inform

guide

scold

insult

teach

I am sure you can think of more.

Conversation includes –

inquiry

description

requests for a yes or no to go in a certain direction

.

I find that if a conversation does not set up any of the items on the first list via an agreement – then communication goes poorly. It is almost like communication idolatry to so. In an established healthy relationship or friendship, that ‘agreement’ can be a simple nod or gesture know only to the two parties. The main point is that the agreement must be there or you are throwing mud at the wall.

And a lot people enjoy doing that – making mud pies and throwing them. Nothing wrong with that in many contexts.

People often sense the bullshit even if they stay polite during the interaction where the idolatry has taken place, and if they don’t sense it, they are usually very easy to manipulate. The agreement needs to give some predictability to what is going to happen for involved parties. Even insults can work in that context and not disrupt progress.

So what I think what we can offer, and not even under the title of ‘coach’ or ‘therapist’, is an ability to identify what is happening when there is an interaction between two people. If someone shares an exchange they had with some with us, using the system we can know right away what is missing.

Listen in on social media and blog ‘conversations’, or just ordinary in-person ones.    See what you observe.

 

The pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Choose. Rinse. Repeat.

January 11, 2015

Pain is our jailor, jail, and liberator in this world.

 

Props to Allan Tsang for title inspiration.

You are wise to start with attention to the least sexy component to success – patience.

October 2, 2014

Patience is not a particularly interesting topic, at least on the surface of it. Though patience has a lot to do with why people we admire accomplish so much, we tend to focus only on the fruits of their patience, or their visible actions.

Patience is seen more like drudgery. But reflecting on patience, we can begin to get some traction with it, and give ourselves an advantage for having done so.

How do we get started with becoming more patient? Consciously or not,  patience always begins with a decision to be willing to endure averse emotion as it arises in an endeavor – choose pain over comfort.  So being more conscious of that mental process, or mindful, will help us get more of a handle on accessing our patience when we need it. One wave of averse emotion at a time, we can develop our patience, even as we fall off the wave and our efforts are thwarted. We are strengthening our patience just by consciously meeting the wave that threatens it. We do the best we can.

Yet we know our efforts will be thwarted. Patience is built on a foundation of failures to be patient. It will strengthen your patience if you are kind to yourself and others even as your patience fails you. Or as Idries Shah wrote, learn to …”be patient with your patience.”  Resolve to relate to yourself with heart as often as you can remember to do so.

Fortunately, not everything requires patience. In fact, there is a time to give into your impatience. It is always wise to soothe or bypass averse emotion unless doing so disrupts the focus you require to complete something important.  Putting patience aside sometimes and favoring pleasurable activities will help replenish the energy that patience requires when you really need it. Misplaced patience is an energy drain.

Nonetheless, you really can’t overdo patience in situations that require it. The challenge is deciding which situations really require it. After all, we are told that he who hesitates is lost.  Then again, we are advised to look before we leap.  Maybe better sayings would be “He who hesitates to look before they leap unnecessarily risk being lost”. or “if you don’t look before you hesitate to leap you are just guessing and are already lost”. Anyways, my playing with the wording of pithy quotes might not clarify anything. Patience does not replace critical thinking. It just gives you adequate time to engage in it.

Patience must not confused with the capacity to wait.   Patience is a tool that permits us to see and seize the moment when waiting any longer is unhelpful. Procrastination tends to be the default way we employ time. Waiting is not hard for the procrastinator in us. We put things off and distract ourselves with something more interesting or easy. But it really is more a failure of patience than ambition not to get started on something. After all, you have no problem ‘getting started’ with easier activities, no shortage of ambition or gumption there! You are simply refusing to make a decision to endure the averse emotions that getting started on the tougher challenge might evoke. Call a spade a spade, and call impatience what it is – impatience.

Patience is very worthy of our focus in enhancing our development and making progress toward our goals.  It can expand and deepen our perspective on situations and make possible the vision required to make better decisions based on a greater grasp of what is happening and how it all fits together.

But it will not insist on your attention. It is a quiet virtue, and you have to be able to still yourself to really be able to employ it.

I am sorry if this piece is a boring or dry, but that does sort of speak to the point I am trying to make.

It seems we can’t always avoid fighting so explicit agreements to avoid throwing knock out punches are essential

September 4, 2014

Many disagreements turn into ugly fights  because people feel pressure to get a decision on a matter.  It happens at work and home.  Each party starts hitting harder and harder, or in reaction,  run further and further away from any interaction at all.  However, if both parties give each other permission to step on each other’s proverbial toes and not worry about the outcome, a lot more is going to get aired, and usually that leads to healthier decisions even in the absence of a full agreement.

It actually is fun in many cases, as long as the rules are clear – though not usually pain free. The point is to avoid injury.

Sometimes the instructions on where someone has permission to “hit” you ought to be pretty specific. A married couple cleaning out their cupboard may agree to take the gloves off when talking about what dishware to throw away but not the silverware.

 

 

 

 

 

Stooping to Greatness – Reflections on Life and Business

August 8, 2014

Stooping to Greatness – Reflections on Life and Business.

Stooping to Greatness – Reflections on Life and Business

August 7, 2014

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health.

This is the first sentence from Chapter One of Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. I believe it to be true,  and really think anyone who plays a leadership role anywhere, ought to seriously consider what he writes to begin the book. We all play leadership roles somewhere, even if it is just for ourselves as we run our own lives.

Regarding this single greatest advantage, he continues:

… it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants to do it…If it sound absurd, it should. After all, why in the world would intelligent human beings ignore something that is so powerful and accessible? 

The question was finally answered for me on July 28, 2010. 

I was attending a client’s leadership conference, sitting next to the CEO. This wasn’t just any company. It was, and still is, one of the healthiest organizations I have ever known and one of the most successful enterprises of the past fifty years. In an industry plagued with financial woes, customer fury, and labor strife, this amazing company has a long history of growth and economic success, not to mention financial customer loyalty. Moreover, its employees love their jobs, their customers, their leaders. When compared to others in the same industry, what this company has achieved is almost baffling. 

As I sat there at the conference listening to one presentation after another highlighting the remarkable and unorthodox activities that made this organization so healthy, I leaned over and quietly asked the CEO a semirhetorical question: ” Why in the world doesn’t your competition do any of this?”

After a few seconds, he whispered, almost sadly, ” You know, I honestly believe they think it’s beneath them.”

And there it was.

I have also seen this at the individual and family level in my work as a psychotherapist. The people who improve under my care and maintain their gains all have one thing in common – they establish their mental health or wellness as their top priority. They stop taking it for granted for the rest of their lives. This may seem like an obvious thing to do for someone who is suffering enough to  take  time and money to see a mental health practitioner, but it is not so easy for the many folks who think they are in therapy just to get back to who they used to be before mental health issues set in. They forget that the same person that seemed so strong because they weren’t  struggling with mental health issues also made the decisions that failed to prevent  their current mental health difficulties.

They idealize how they were before mental health challenges struck, and they just can’t bring themselves  to stoop down from their lofty view of their former self and do the new things it takes to achieve and maintain true wellness.

Even if they get better, and many do because they make a surge of effort for a limited time, they remain at high risk for relapse if they do not keep their mental health priority number one.

Sadly, this can reinforce their idealization of themselves before their first mental health episode, and the pattern continues.

 

I imagine organizational leaders fall into similar ruts for similar reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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