Posts tagged ‘Beliefs’

May 21, 2012

What’s Your Story?

Most of us do not realize the power of our own internal story telling. We assume that our identity if fixed and we are just experience life as it comes to us. What we may not realize is the fact that how we choose to experience our life is influenced by many unconscious assumptions related to how we are “writing” our own story. Once we realize that we are authors of our own story, we are better able to guide the narrative of our lives.

Setting:
The setting is really just where you are in the moment. It is your specific location in time and place. The setting is just part of our story. It can have an influence on us, and our actions. Our current setting does not define us. Just because you may have lived in the same location for your entire life does not mean that that will always be the case. You can change your setting is you so desire. If you do not like a particular setting such as living with someone who gives you more frustration that affection, then you have the ability to leave. Our setting has an influence on us, but it does not control us.
Character:
You have control over the elements of your character. Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits and attitudes guide your actions. How you frame your role in different situations will affect your response and possible outcomes to these events. The role of your character may change depending on the setting, how you view your involvement in the current “plot line” and in relation to the others around you. You may perceive your role as:
– the victim
– the hero
– the complex misunderstood character
– the comic foil
– the central character
– the social observer
– etc.
Remember, you are the one constructing the narrative in your own mind. How do you want to see yourself?
Plot:
We are in control of the perceiving meaning that we discern from our life’s events. However, we do not have control over many things that happen to us. Based on our beliefs of our role in our lives settings and routines, we will distill meaning from what happens to us.
If we see ourselves as the unfortunate victim of life events, the coffee that we accidentally spilled on ourselves on the way to that important job interview will be construed as a tragic element in a series of unfortunate events. We may proceed even further with our internal plot line by acting in some unfortunate subconscious way that leads to a nervous unflattering job interview that leads to losing the prospective new job.
When we see ourselves as the fortunate protagonist, the coffee spilled on our dress shirt will just be a minor obstacle to conquer. Our plucky character will find a napkin and soda water to clean the stain or even would use the incident as a humorous anecdote to start the job interview. Even if this perceived “champion” does not get the job, our internal dialogue will weave the story as just one step of many in the quest for optimal employment.
How we “write” our plot will control how will remember the event. When we tell stories about our lives at the end of the day, it is clear to the plot lines that we see ourselves in and the role our character plays.

In closing, I realize there is so much more to say about this topic. I want to give a shout out to Lem at  The Identity Specialist  (http://identityspecialist.net) and Karen Wan at Writing your destiny (http://writingyourdestiny.com) since they thing about these concepts as well.

Now go write yourself a good story!

April 24, 2012

Don’t Judge a Book……

This weekend, I went down to the bay for a birthday party for one of our family friend’s four-year-old daughter’s birthday party. When we drove up to the picnic area, I noticed a “Biker Gang” in the picnic area next to us. There was loud “hip hop” music blasting on the sound system. Every few minutes, the air became full of the thunderous noise of another group of ten or more bikers arrived to the park. As we started the birthday party, there were at least 75 “bikers” at the park.

We have many brain processes that focus on survival. One of these brain processes is “heuristics”. Heuristics is a basic problem solving strategy that uses a limited amount of data to generate a conclusion. This is helpful for survival since we need to respond immediately to any pattern that looks like a threat. For example, if we are outside in the mountains at night and hear a sudden noise, we need to instantly decide if that noise is a group of deer moving away from us, or an approaching mountain lion. If we decided to spend extra time to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the noise we heard was a mountain lion, it may be too late for us to get out the “threat zone”.

Socially, we are also programed to look for threats. We instinctively see people that have more similar characteristics to ourselves as not being a threat and those that are more dis-similar as being “outside our tribe” or a possible threat. Unfortunately, we may use this “heuristic” to evaluate people when there is no obvious threat. If we are in a social situation where there is no indication that someone is out to “do us wrong”, we need to use our conscious mind to suspend judgment.

At the Birthday party on the bay, I consciously reflected on the common cultural stereotype of a person that hangs out in a biker club. People typically imagine that people who associate in biker clubs as rough and tumble folks that are up to no good. When I decided to suspend judgment, I noticed that these guys had a bake sale, and a “bounce house” for the kids. One guy that was associated with the motorcycle club drove his ice cream truck to the motorcycle club meeting. Every “biker” that I spoke with was open and friendly. One of the “bikers” offered to help me move my Kayaks to the water. My kids had a good time with the “biker” crew. They were able to jump in the bounce house, they got cookies from the bake sale and they got ice cream from the ice cream truck.

As the old saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its’ cover”. Some times you need to gather more data to see the common humanity in all of us.

April 7, 2012

Law of At(r)Action

Since the release of the movie “The Secret”, there has been considerable attention given to “The Law of Attraction“. Wikipedia describes “The law of Attraction”a metaphysical belief that “like attracts like“, that positive and negative thinking bring about positive and negative physical results, respectively. Although I believe that there is value to the concept of “The Law of Attraction”, I feel that many people may not achieve all that they desire since they may feel that all they need to do is sit in their home and imagine their desired future without taking an action. I feel that you will get more results from using “The Law of Attraction” if you look at is as “The Law of At Action”. You can only build “the life of your dreams” if you take consistent action in acquiring your goal. “The Law of Attraction” works because when you thinking positively about your goals you will have more thoughts about possible action steps to attain your goal.

One essential belief of the “law of attraction” is that you can manifest your desires if you have a clear picture of what you want and you believe that it is already on it’s way. If the word “metaphysical” makes you leary of the “Law of Attraction”, you can choose to look at the “Law of Attraction” pragmatically since you can observe how the “Law of Attraction” from a cause and effect perspective.

It all starts with belief. When you belief that you are worthy of having what you want in life, you will have more positive thoughts about your possibilities and more positive feelings about your actions. With any life goal, you need to believe that you can do it. It is always important to start by reflecting on your belief system as well your specific beliefs about your personal goals.  Belief makes it all possible. If you do not believe that you can do it, you are done! You will not even try to act towards your goal. If you believe you can, you will move forward.

Thoughts and feelings are also vital in creating what you want. Your brain is programmed as the ulitimate pattern recognition device. When you thoughts include a clear image of what you want, your brain starts looking for the patterns that are consistent with the picture of what you want. Feelings are vitally important in this process since our limbic system is highly tied to our memory system and we also pay more attenion to things that we have sting feelings about.
Action are the physical steps that we need to take to accomplish any goal. Once you start taking action, you will notice that you will have different choices that you had before. After each decision and each action, you will have another set of choices that you would not have even know about if you had not taken any action towards your goals. Even if you made a choice that may seem like a “mistake”, you can use the results of this choice as feedback of where you need to proceed to attain your goal.
We can use the idea of a map to conceptualize how the “Law of Attraction” can help us. First we visualize where we want to go. Next, we believe that it is possible to get there. We then use our thoughts and feelings to keep of following the route on the map. Our Actions move us down the road. When we make a “wrong turn”, we acknowledge this feedback and look at our map to see where we are. We then take consistent action and keep moving forward to our designation.
All comments are greatly appreciated!
April 2, 2012

Acceptance (Habit Change Challenge Day 2)

Hello Beautiful Blogging World,

I was successful for day one with all of my target goals. I meditated. I exercised. I read affirmations and I journaled my gratitudes and my successes. I am going on a vacation with the family and I am very excited.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about acceptance. I plan on spending more time on “acceptance” in a later post. Today, I will just share my affirmation about “acceptance”

I accept everything element that is a part of my life.

I accept all aspects about this  moment in time.

I accept that all my previous thoughts feelings and actions have brought me to where I am in this present time and place.

I accept all forms of feedback from my environment.

I realize that when I resist all those factors that I can not control, I feel “stressed” and powerless.

When I accept all that I can not control and realize that I can always control how I react, I feel empowered.

–Have a great day!

 

March 28, 2012

Habit Change Challenge

 We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.  ~Jim Ryun

A habit is something you can do without thinking – which is why most of us have so many of them.  ~Frank A. Clark

The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones.  ~Somerset Maugham

I have heard so much about the notion that it takes 21 days to change a habit, that I just thought of this as fact. As I was getting ready to write this, I discovered the that notion of the 21-day habit change theory only goes back to one primary source, Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book titled, ”Psycho-Cybernetics”. One source is hardly hard science. However, committing to 21 days of working on a habit can at the very least develop a pattern.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been working on helping people change destructive habits one day at a time. When we focus on making a commitment on a daily basis, we can focus on the moment and we reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by our goal.

Whether it is 21 days in a row or just a day at a time, I had the following suggestions of some positive habits to try on:

  • –       Meditate, pray or find some quiet time for yourself for one minute or more per day.
  • –       Exercise for at least 10 minutes per day
  • –       Create a journal with at least one item of gratitude per day
  • –       Create a journal with at least one item of Success per day.

Of course these four items could be expanded. I am all for more exercise, more meditation, more success and more gratitude. In fact, you could add more habits such as getting adequate sleep and eating right. Sometimes it is good to start with sustainable habits to get the momentum going.

Want to join me for 21 days?

March 27, 2012

Responding to Gossip

I have wanted to write something about gossip for some time. I thought it would be easy. I thought I could just write “gossip is bad, avoid it at all costs”. Unfortunately for me, this is much more of a nuanced subject. In 2006, Jennifer Bosson published a paper demonstrating disliking a third person creates a more powerful social connection than a mutual preference for somebody. This supplies us with another example that the world is not simply “Black or White”.

When reviewing the literature on gossip, there are challenges on how to define gossip. Is gossip just a conversation about a third party without the third party present? Is it gossip only when we are talking about someone we know, or is talking about a celebrity count? Is it gossip if we are “talking smack” about someone who is in earshot (like children have been observed to do)?

In Eric K. Foster’s paper “Research on Gossip: Taxonomy, Methods, and Future Directions” (Review of General Psychology, 2004, Vol. 8, No. 2, 78–99) it is stated that a common definition of gossip for research purposes is: “In a context of congeniality, gossip is the exchange of personal information (positive or negative) in an evaluative way (positive or negative) about absent third parties.

Eric K. Foster’s paper breaks down gossip into major social functions including: information, entertainment, friendship (or intimacy), influence and evolutionary utility.

Information: Gossip can be an effective tool of distributing information. Historically, before the advent of print media, radio, television and the Internet, most information was passed through an oral tradition (gossip). In smaller social groups, gossip is how group members exchange information about each other.

Entertainment: Gossiping for entertainment’s sake does not need to be malevolent in nature. In this instance the gossiper and gossipee may just exchange information about third parties without any salacious details. However, more “sensitive” or controversial information is often seen as more entertaining gossip. In this context, the enjoyment of the gossip is considered more important than the information itself.

Friendship: “The friendship or intimacy function of gossiping refers both to dyadic interchanges and to the way in which gossip brings groups together through the sharing of norms, thereby establishing boundaries to distinguish insiders from outsiders.”

The 2006, Jennifer Bosson study on gossip fits into this category. When two “strangers” meet and find they have a mutual dislike for a third party, the gossip about the third party creates a new “in group” and the “strangers” now feel that they have something in common. Gossip for the sake of friendship can be positive in the sense that gossip can enhance the social bond between select people. The downside of this type of gossip is being on the out-group, where this type of gossip may lead to one feeling like a victim of the gossip of the in-group.

Influence: Gossip has the power of significantly influencing our behavior. Many of us fear being “caught” engaging in a behavior that our “in-group” may deem odd, eccentric or a violation of a social norm, since this violation will be likely topic of gossip. If we know that rule violations are spread quickly through our social group, our behavior is greatly influenced. This type of social functioning is “positive” if gossip is used to dissuade a group member of engaging in an activity that is harmful to a group. However, the influence function of gossip is “negative” if this social mechanism targets freedom of self-expression, religion, political affiliation etc.

Evolutionary Utility: This is the type of gossip that keeps cousins from marrying Cousins and alerts community members to the health risk of interacting with “infectious” people. In the old days, the matrimonial custom of “speak now, or forever hold your piece” was essentially a query to the local community of; “Hey folks, the word has been out for a while that these two are going to get married. Does anybody know if these two are related?”  In Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, gossiping is used to alert community members as to who has HIV and who does not (see This American Life).

As we have seen, gossip does provide some social functions. However, as many of us has experienced, there is definitely a “down-side” to gossip.

Reputation – Gossip can be used as a tool to harm someone’s reputation. During every political cycle, one party brings up a tawdry piece of gossip about the other party. This type of gossip can be based on truth, or completely fabricated.

*Response: When you hear about a piece of gossip that is obviously designed to “take someone down”, remain objective. Look to a neutral third party for verification. If this piece of gossip does not affect you ignore it. Do NOT pass it on if you have any doubts to the intent or veracity of the gossip!

Productivity – Idle gossip, though “entertaining” is unproductive. Excessive gossip at work or school lowers overall productivity. If the work environment allows any gossip that maligns the character of any employee, there is a great chance of a “toxic work environment” being created where gossip wars are fought by varying in-groups.

*Response: When you hear co-workers gossip on a continual basis, resist the urge to join the chorus. Sometimes it can be valuable to change the topic to something more positive or at least something bases on facts. Whenever possible, it is best to stay out of gossip between “warring factions” at work.

Self-Esteem: Hearing gossip about oneself can be harmful to your sense of wellbeing.

*Response:

  1. Remember that you are in control of how you choose to think, feel and react. You can always ignore gossip if you have the feeling that it is innocuous and it will just go away.
  2. Be wary of the truthfulness of all gossip. Avoid being “Iago-ed”! In Othello, Iago continued to fill Othello’s ears with lies until (SPOILER ALERT) Othello killed his wife. If someone is telling us gossip that they heard someone else say, consider their motivation. Are they trying to get you in their in-group? Are they trying to socially isolate you? Are they honestly trying to be helpful?
  3. Refrain from retaliation. Once you retaliate, you are an active participant the “gossip game” and with any game, there is a great chance you may lose. Spreading gossip makes you a target for more gossip.
  4. Set the record straight.  If someone is saying something that is untrue, make sure the truth is known. If gossip is happening at work, it is best to inform your employer. However, it is your boss that is spreading gossip about you, it may be wise to consider human resources or your union representation.
  5. Share what you want shared. Sometimes it is best to keep your private life private. If you don’t want your co-workers to think that you are an “irresponsible drunk”, don’t talk about the one time that you drank too much.

It would be easy to say, “gossip is the problem”. However, gossip has historically been a positive force of social communication. The challenge comes with how we use gossip or respond to gossip. I hope that you are able to learn to be mindful of gossip to strengthen social bonds as well as being able to respond to gossip so you can maintain high self-esteem.

All comments/ feedback are appreciated. (Rumors and innuendo are discouraged).

 

 

 

March 25, 2012

Appreciation versus Depreciation

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
Voltaire

Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.
Alan Cohen

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. – Frederick Keonig

 

When we consider our beliefs, there is a dichotomy of how we can choose to approach the world.  We can find value in everything around us, or we can devalue our world. In “The Secrets of the Power of Intention”, Dr. Wayne Dyer discussed this in terms of appreciation and depreciation. When we are appreciative, we find more value in all things around us. Wayne Dyer used the example of the Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl  who was able to mentally survive living in a concentration camp by finding beauty in a fish head floating in his soup.

When we look at the world appreciatively, we are creating more value to ourselves. Since our experience is essentially governed by our perception of the world around us, the more value we find, the more value we perceive. When you adopt the strategy of appreciation you are more likely to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

It is important to note that most people are not solely appreciative or completely depreciative. It would be very difficult to imagine someone appreciating the passing of a loved one or devaluing winning $1,000,000. However, the more appreciative someone is in his or her habits, thoughts and feelings it would be easier for that person to accept the passing of a loved one by focusing on memories of the good time shared with that person and of all the things they have learned from that person. If someone is commonly depreciative, they may still adopt a pattern of daily complaining even after winning $1,000,000.

When evaluating your beliefs, consider if you beliefs are creating more value for you.

Depreciate beliefs include:

  • Belief that you are unworthy of love, affection, success or material goods
  • Belief that you are superior to others (since you are depreciating others)
  • Belief that you are inferior to others (since you are depreciating yourself)
  • Belief that you would only be worthy if you had a certain amount of social status or material goods.

Appreciate beliefs include:

  • Belief that you are worthy of love, affection, success or material goods
  • Belief that all people have value
  • Belief that you have value regardless or race, status or class
  • Belief that you can learn something from all situations

I hope that you are able to find value in each and every day!

Judgment as an evaluative process is “positive” since it is helpful for us to compare differing perspectives to make a decision or to evaluate information to make a wise decision to determine the best course of action. This sense of judgment infers using sound criteria as a part of the process. It also connotes an image of fairness and justice.

However, we people are labeled as “judgmental”, we imagine a person who uses judgment to devaluate. We devalue others when we engage in the practice of discrimination and prejudice. When we devalue others, we feel in some way superior to “the other”. The process of devaluing people can be extremely dangerous. In the extreme case of genocide, the side committing the atrocities devalued the group victimized by the genocide.

When we adopt the habit of devaluing others through judgment, we know subconsciously that other people may be “judging” us. If I am judging others, it only makes sense that someone else would be judging me. Therefore, the more judgmental we become, the more afraid we may become of being judged ourselves. It also follows that the more that we have experienced being devalued by another’s judgment, the more likely we are to feel justified in judging others.

The next time you find yourself judging a quality of another person, ask yourself if you are evaluating or devaluating this person.

I feel that this is one of the many life situations where the old saying of “do onto others as you wish others to do onto you” would apply.

March 24, 2012

Events + Response = Outcome

One of the most influential equations that I have learned in my life has been:
E + R = O
For this equation;

  • E = Events
  • R = Your chosen response to an Event
  • O = The overall outcome

In the model, the “Event” is neutral. It is not “good” or “bad”, it is just a life circumstance. It is our Response to an event that will shape how we label or perceive the event in our minds. How we choose to Respond to an event directly effects the overall outcome.

For example, imagine you are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You choose to respond by calling the other kid a worse name. The outcome is that the other kid hits you.

Imagine this scenario with a different response. You are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You ignore the other kid and move to the other side of the playground to be with a group of your friends. The outcome is that you have moved on with your day without conflict.

Let us look at this equation from an “Influence versus Control” perspective

  • E = Events – These are things that you typically can’t control. You may be able to influence factors leading up to events, but the event would have happened without you. Life events can be the small events such as being cut off in traffic or misplacing your house keys to major life events such as your house burning down or losing a family member.
  • R = Response – This is where you have some control. You can choose your response. When a life event happens, you can remember that there are multiple ways to respond to any situation and you can practice taking the time needed to evaluate your response. Since your response has a strong influence on the outcome, it is important to take personal responsibility for your responses to all life events.
  • O = Outcomes- This is an areas where we have influence. If we react “positively” to a situation, we are more likely to experience a “positive” outcome.

The next time “life happens”, do your best to take the time to evaluate your response and observe how the outcome unfolds.

March 17, 2012

PEOPLE First!

Earlier this week, I overheard someone say the dreaded “R” word at work. As special educator and as a parent of a child that has unique learning challenges, I find the word “retarded” devaluates a group of people directly or indirectly. When this word is used as an adjective, the noun that is describes is depreciated. The “R” word has such a strong negative connotations for families that have a family member with any form of a cognitive challenge that the Federal Handicapping Condition of “Mental Retardation” was changed to “Intellectual Disability”.

Later that day, another person used the phrase “a ton of autistic people” to describe a group of students with Autism. I cringed for a second time, and then I started to reflect on the importance of “People First” language.

The movement for “People First” language is based on the notion that all people are PEOPLE first before they are described by a secondary characteristic. In every other language of the world, the descriptor comes after the noun.

When some people hear about “People First” language, they may think; “what’s the big difference between saying “blue-eyed kids” versus saying, “kids with blue eyes”. One difference in this example is that the word kid / person is a better description of the essence of that person. Having blue eyes is just a physical attribute and it should not define who that person is. Another difference in this example is that once you start using labels that infer a preconceived notion (such as disability, religion, gender, race or sexual orientation) to describe a person, you limit your perception based on that label. Therefore, when we describe an “autistic kid”, our primary image is of that person’s diagnosis and any biases or pre-conceived notions about autism. If we say “person with autism”, we focus on the individual’s “personhood” first.

What does this matter? We are only talking about words. Why should I care about word order?

Yes, it does matter since words are the currency of our conscious thought process. Labeling a person not only effects our conscious perception of a person, it also affects our unconscious perception of that person.

If you have any doubt of the incredible power of labeling, you need to go back 45 years ago to Jane’ Elliott’s third-grade class. In an attempt to teacher her students the effects of racism, she separated her class into groups of “brown eyed” kids and “blue eyed” kids. Elliott requested that he blue-eyed students wear paper armbands.  Ms. Elliot said to her class, “The brown eyed people are the better people in this room. They are cleaner and they are smarter.” By lunchtime Ms. Elliot noticed that previously shy, withdrawn brown-eyed kids were suddenly outgoing, and acting like classroom leaders. At recess, groups of brown-eyed kids started picking on the blue-eyed students. In the afternoon, a blue-eyed girl who had never had problems with multiplication tables started making mistakes. In just under one school day, an entire classroom had changed their view of themselves and their fellow students solely on the basis of a label.

The main point of “People First” language is that we should all celebrate our common humanity. We are all people regardless of race, creed, culture, color, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, physical ability, mental ability, health status, age, gender, height or eye-color. All of our attributes are factors that add to who we are, but any specific attribute should not be considered the one thing that defines the totality of who we are.

March 10, 2012

Personal Responsibility

The first step of getting from where you are to where you want to be is to take full responsibility for everything in your life.

Of course I am not talking about taking responsibility for earthquakes, tsunamis, fires and floods and unavoidable events. I am talking about talking full responsibility of your beliefs, thoughts, your chosen emotional responses, daily habits and actions.

For example, if you are dissatisfied about your current job, it is best to evaluate all the things that you can control.

Belief: What are your current beliefs about the job? Upon reflection, are your beliefs valid? Is your job consistent with your core beliefs and values? Do you have any limiting beliefs about your potential in your profession? Do you feel that you are worthy of something better?

Thoughts: What are your recurring thoughts about your job? Are your thoughts related to what you can accomplish in your job? Are your thoughts related to solving challenges, or are you fixated on problem admiration? Can you change your thoughts about your job? If you change your thoughts about the job, would your feelings about your job change?

Feelings: How are you choosing to feel about your job? Can you change how you feel? Does your emotional outlook affect how your co-workers respond to you? If you were in a different job, would your emotional response be different?

Actions: Do you have a long term plan to find another job? Do you need additional education? Have you researched other professions that you are interested in? Are there any actions that you can take in your current job to make the job more enjoyable or more lucrative?

When you take responsibility of where you are in life, you will take full ownership of what you can control in order to move forward towards your goals.

If you do not take responsibility, you are more likely to end up complaining or blaming people or circumstances for where you are in life. You will most likely stay in the same place and engage in the same thoughts, feelings and habits that have lead to your current level of satisfaction. You will continually collect data to support the belief that you are a victim and that the world is out to get you. You will hold other people accountable for your thoughts feelings and actions.

Believe that you are worthy of having the life that you desire. Choose to focus on thoughts that lead to problem solving and creating value to others. Realize that you are in control of the majority of your emotional responses and that your emotional responses have a great influence on those around you. Take the action that is needed for you to create the life our your dreams!