Posts tagged ‘Control’

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!

Advertisements
May 3, 2012

Embrace the continuum

I have found that life is rarely “black and white” and most things have at least some “shades of gray”. Though our brain typically likes to organize things into neat little categories such as “black or white” or “good or bad” since this easy heuristic helps us process 400 billions of pieces of information per second. We may notice that when we ponder situations that we are more familiar with, we are able to understand that these situations are best expressed in the forms of a continuum.

When I was a teenager, I was introduced to the “yin-yang” symbol. I felt that this symbol is an excellent representation of the balance of life. Some things are more “light” than “dark” and other things are more “dark” than “light”. For example, people are rarely “all bad” or “all good”. When considering the political spectrum, there are people that are “all the way to the right”, there are people “in the center” and people “all the way to the left”.

As I write my blog of “influence versus control”, I fully acknowledge that the line between influence and control can be expressed as a continuum as well. When we consider health, we have control of all the habits that lead to good health including getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well. However, we cannot control if we get sick or not. When considering wealth, we can control how much we spend. If we earn a paycheck, we can control how much comes in each month. If we earn a commission, we have greater influence on how much money we could earn in a month, but we cannot control weather other will buy our product. We also do not have control of unforeseen expenses such as flying across country to visit a sick family member.

All in all, it is wise to consider the shades of gray. When considering an action, it is helpful to write a list of the pros and cons and see if this action has a greater chance of benefit than detriment. Life is too colorful to be seen as just “black and white”.

 

April 5, 2012

Day 4 – Serenity and Surfing

ImageOne irony about vacations is that one imagines having an almost endless amount of time to get everything accomplished. I am finding that although I am able to do lots of fun things with my family and that I am able to go surfing and mountain biking, I have not made the time to write. I have included pictures of where I surfed this morning and where I went biking this afternoon.  I have been able to find the time to meditate and to complete my journalling (as promised). 

One idea that I had about my little blog o’ mine is that the main idea of “Influence Versus Control” could be summed up in the “Serenity Prayer”. I find that these words also make a great affirmation statement. In the very small chance that you have not heard it before, I am including it below.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

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 29, 2012

Change Starts……Sunday

“Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!”

April fools will not be a joke if you decide to participate in a “21 day” habit change.

“Why 21 days?” Why not! The intent is that by all of us  monitoring our daily progress on a set of skills for 21 days that we will build momentum and achieve our target goals.

“Why are you posting this challenge?” There is more unity with a community! If a group of us move forward together, we can keep each other accountable.

“Didn’t you post about this yesterday?” Yes! But Lem from identityspecialist.net reminded me that I forgot to post the start time.

Considerations for Life Change

  1. Accept full responsibility of where you are in life. – It is very difficulty to take action moving forward if you feel it is someone else’s responsibility.
  2. Find you Passion! – It is easier to gain momentum to work forward if you are passionate about where you want to go.
  3. Set Clear Goals! – If you don’t know where you want to go, how could you get there?
  4. Reflect on your beliefs – Are your belief’s appreciative or depreciative? Are your unconscious beliefs holding you back?
  5. Habits – This is what this 21-day challenge is all about. Let’s build some daily habits that have evidence to leading to improving our perception of happiness.
  6. Action – Take positive daily action to work towards you goals!

Research Based Suggestions for Habit Change!!!!

– A fellow blogger “MyLifeIsASmorgasbord” posted a link to Shawn Actor’s Ted Talk. Shawn’s talk provides us all with the research for the proposed targeted habits for the “21 day habit change challenge”.

  • Gratitude – The more that you record what you are grateful for, the more you look for things to be grateful for and the more you will experience gratitude.
  • Journaling (blogging) – Journaling about the daily positives help you re-live these experiences in your brain and you increase your positive daily experiences. I suggested journaling your successes because it is important to acknowledge the progress that we make every day.
  • Exercise – There is a lot of research on the positive effects of exercise on mood and health.
  • Meditation –  The article linked here is the most comprehensive article I have read so far on meditative practice. I will speak from personal experience that when I practice meditation daily, I have a much better control of my emotional response.

So far, I only have one blogger accepting this challenge with me. Currie Rose, you Rock!

The 21 days will officially start Sunday. Every few days I will post a “feedback” blog where everyone can comment on his/her success.

To Success!

-Andrew Gilbert

 

 

 

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 21, 2012

Giving Feedback

I would like to joke and say that feedback is “better to give than receive”. However, as we stated yesterday, feedback is very important for us to optimize our own performance.

Sometimes, we may hesitate giving feedback to others since we are unsure of how they will react to it. Will they be appreciative of the feedback?

Will they be defensive to the feedback? Will they respond so negatively that the relationship may be damaged?

Things to consider:

1) Is feedback desired by the recipient?

Before giving feedback to someone else, determine if the other person wants to hear it. For example, if a friend is telling you about a difficult situation, that person may be “unloading” or telling the story for catharsis. In this case, feedback about that person’s role in the situation would most likely not be welcome.

Them: “John came home last night and we got into a huge argument! He said that he was sick of cleaning up after me!”

You: “Hmm, maybe you spend more time cleaning up after yourself”

Result: FAIL!

2) Is it your role to give feedback?

In the work situation, it is almost always appropriate for a supervisor or manager to provide feedback to people in  “subordinate” positions. However, there are a lot of questions to consider when determining if it would be appropriate for you to provide feedback to your supervisor or manager? Do they really want your feedback? Would your feedback reflect negatively on you in the future? What is the price of you remaining silent versus you providing feedback?

3) Use the “Hamburger” approach

Back in my college days when I was a peer counselor, we always encouraged the “Hamburger” approach to giving feedback. The buns are compliments; the meat is the issue that needs to be discussed. Compliment first, feedback then end with a compliment.

 “Hey Bob, I always like the fact that you take reports home to finish them. I know you may be pressed for time, but you may need to slow down and look for typos. I appreciate that you always focus on the content of your work.”

4) Frame points of feedback in the form of a question

People often do better with new or challenging ideas if they feel that they have thought of the idea themselves. Asking questions encourages the listener to create a visual image of a possible situation. Questions can guide the listener to consider his/her own performance and can work well for people who have high ego investment.

5) Keep the feedback about the issue at hand

When you give feedback, it is best to make it clear that you are discussing an issue/idea/event that is separate from the person that you are talking too. Instead of stating “you did this”, consider saying, “when this happened”. Sometimes it is valuable to stand next to someone and look at a visual representation of the issue together. For example, you could hold up a report and state, “in this document, there are a few typos.”

6) Avoid Always/Never Language

When you user the terms always or never in your feedback, you have a good chance of the listener feeling that that have already failed and there is no chance of improving. The terms always/never can make the recipient feel judged or attacked. When others feel attacked, they may likely “shut down” or go on the counter-offensive.

7) Avoid over using “Why?”

If we use “why” too many times, it can sound accusatory to the recipient of feedback. Just think back to your childhood. Imagine how many times your parents asked you the accusatory rhetorical question “why can’t you clean your room” or “why can’t you be more like _____” If you use too many “why” questions with your feedback, the other person may hear “why did you mess up” or “why can’t you do things right”.

Remember feedback should be of some use to the person you are providing it to. When considering giving feedback to another person, imagine how you would feel if you were the recipient. We cannot control another’s reaction to feedback, but surely can control how it is given.

References – My thanks go out to the following sites for inspiration

http://www.buildingpersonalstrength.com/2010/04/giving-feedback-no-2-people-skill.html

http://www.givingeffectivefeedback.com/giving_effective_feedback.html