Posts tagged ‘Psychology’

March 13, 2012

The Complaints of Others

Yes, I would like a complaint free world. As I stated yesterday, I am still working on that complaint free me. We did conclude with the realization that only we can control our own habit of complaining. The “Complaint Free World” approach of moving a wrist band from one wrist to another is a great form of personal accountability to shape our own behavior.

What about the complaints of others? Since we can not control other people’s habits, we can only control our own responses. It is helpful to remember that we have different options when other people complain so we don’t fall into the socially accepted pattern of complaining ourselves.

The first thing that we should consider when a friend or colleague starts to complain to us is that person’s possible motivation to complain. Do they want to complain for the sake of complaining? Are they complaining because they are in a challenging situation and are seeking emotional validation? Are they complaining about a situation in the hopes that someone has a possible solution? The second thing we should consider is how close the relationship is of the “complainer” to ourselves. For example, if a stranger in front of us in a line starts complaining about how frustrating the wait is, we should not feel compelled to join the chorus of “this line is a pain”.

For the “constant complainer” that we know, it would be appropriate to acknowledge their concerns as well as setting boundaries.

“I hear your concern about the new procedures. I now need to finish my project before my deadline”.

For someone complaining about a life situation where they have no control and appear to desire some emotional validation, it would be appropriate to demonstrate compassion and understanding about their feelings. You are not obligated to complain yourself.

“I can understand how tough it is. I can only imagine how your are feeling right now. That seems to be a really challenging situation”.

One of my personal challenges is that I sometimes do now intuitively know the difference when someone is complaining about something just to vent and feel heard or if that person is seeking advice or assistance. For these situations it is beneficial to listen intently to the person’s concerns. When if feels appropriate, you could ask if the other person needs assistance in this matter.

I would appreciate any comments on how you choose to respond to the complaints of others.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

March 12, 2012

Why Complain?

One thing that we truly have control over is the habit of complaining. I wish that I could tell you that I have mastered the art of avoiding complaining, but that would make me a liar (and lying is another habit that does not serve me). As I have said before, I am a recovering cynic, which means that I have occasional lapses in failing to appreciate the world around me.

I believe that a conversation about a problem that acknowledges a problem/challenge as the first step in addressing that problem is significantly different than complaining. Often when people complain, they tend to stay in the realm of problem admiration and they may even become resentful if you going in to “problem solving” mode

One odd thing about complaining is that people rarely complain about things they actually have control over. People will complain about the weather, the cost of gas and even the temperature of their latte not being up to their personal standard. When people complain, they tend to stay in the realm of problem admiration and they may even become resentful if you going in to “problem solving” mode. Complaining may reinforce depreciating unconscious beliefs such as “I am helpless to solve the world’s problems”, “things will never get better”, “life is unfair” or “I am a victim”.

An interesting social dynamic about complaining is that once one person complains, the other person joins in a chorus of complaining. What is even more interesting is that complaint based conversations can appear to become competitive.

Man 1 – “Man, I had a awful night last night. My neighbors had this loud party and I only got 4 hours of sleep”.

Man 2 – “You think that’s bad, my kid was sick last night and he woke up every hour throwing up”.

Man 3 – “You guys have it easy, I work the night shift and my house is under the flight path. I rarely get any sleep”.

In my more cynical past, I had a friend who I often engaged in complaint conversations. I found myself collecting things to complain about. I even remember thinking “I can’t wait to tell Bob (name changed to protect the guilty) about this horribly annoying and yet insignificant think that happened to me this morning”.

The most frustrating pattern of complaining is the act of complaining about things that you can do something about. In the example above, Man 3 could make the decision to find a different job, take a different shift, move to a new place, or invest in high quality sound cancelling headphones.

The good news is that we are in control of our own tendency to complain. We can evaluate our beliefs related to complaining and we can make a conscious effort to avoid complaining (see ). When can choose to look at all aspects of a situation and see the areas where we can be grateful.

Man 1 – “I am grateful that I got at least some sleep last night!” 

Man 2 – “I am grateful that even though my child is sick today, he will most likely be well by the weekend.”

Man 3 – “I am grateful that I still have the job in these challenging economic time.”


-Have a great day with no complaints (even though it is a Monday) and remember “It’s all good”!




March 11, 2012

Think from the End and Have Fun Along the Way.


One of my favorite quotes from Wayne Dyer is “think from the end”. If you want to live the life of your dreams, you need to know what the life of your dreams is.

Here is a simple exercise to help you “think from the end”. Get out some writing paper or get out your word processor, it is time to get ready to write! First, set aside some quiet time to reflect. This reflection will not work if phone calls/ family members would repeatedly interrupt you or if you are preoccupied on a report that is due tomorrow. Once you have found a quiet time and place, close your eyes and imagine what you want in your life. Take some time to explore your true wants and desires. For this exercise, remember that you are worthy of anything and anything is possible. Once you are able to imagine your perfect day in such clarity that it runs like a video in your head, it is time to write it down. Write your vision with as much detail as possible. Explain how your perfect day would start. Include the people that you would interact with. List your feelings as you move through this imagined day. Your description should include details of the sights, sounds and smells of the day.

When you have finished this exercise, you have created the destination that you wish to achieve. You can now start working on the road map of getting you there. You future vision can assist you in creating goals and can help you with further self-reflection.

What beliefs would I need to change to achieve my perfect life?

What habits would I need to implement on a daily basis to get where I want to go?

How would I need to think to achieve my goals?

What actions can I take to start moving forward?

Life is always a great adventure. Have fun along the way!

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!

March 8, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks and appreciation goes to Jay Rando for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

I am very grateful for this award. Thank you for the encouragement to keep writing. Thanks to all of you who have been reading “Influence Versus Control”. I am glad to be a part of the blogging community.

Here are the rules to the awards: Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them when you create a post on the award. Share 7 things about yourself. Pass the award on to 15 people you know who have blogs that you follow and enjoy. Contact those people that you have nominated.

More on the Versatile Blog Award

7 things about me: (Andrew Gilbert)

  1. I have an incredible wife who is an artist/ muralist (
  2. I am a proud father of Connor who has started writing a book at 8 years old (
  3. I am a proud father of Aidan, who had probably taught me the most about love and whose early struggles in life facilitated my “cynical recovery”.
  4. As an occupational therapist, I have created a program to teach handwriting / penmanship to Kindergarten students (see and
  5. I love surfing
  6. I enjoy mountain biking
  7. I play guitar, bass and a little bit of drums

When creating this list, I realize that I have defined myself by what I do. However, from my blog postings I feel that it may appear evident that I am doing my best to replace previous cynical thought processes with appreciative, forward thinking, thankful, compassionate and grateful practices.

15 Blogs nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award

I am amazed at how many good blogs there are “Wordpress”. I know that there are more than 15 blogs out there who are deserving of the “Versatile Blogger” award. Two of the blogs that I read regularly and
 are already on Jay’s list.

I wish that I could include everyone on my list of 15. However, like Jay Rando, I choose to list those blogs that I have been following for a longer period of time.

My 15 nominated and most favorite blogs are:

  1. – My first “follower”. This is a gratitude blog from a good friend.
  2. -Great art!
  3. – Good advice for self improvement
  4. – Healing Health and Inspiration
  5. – Mr. P’s math blog
  6. – A “Journey to Enlighten”
  7. – “Inner Peace Transformations”
  8. – A great source of good literature
  9. – A description of one’s Journey to be the best they can be.
  10. – Author of a children’s book with good life lessons
  11. – Great perspective and advice
  12. – Great quotes and awesome mazes!
  13. – “Have a Dream” – A very positive guy.
  14. – “It’s All About Learning” This is a great blog for educators.
  15. a lot of amazing photos

Thank you to all of you!

-Andrew Gilbert

March 1, 2012

The End of The World, And I Feel Fine

Many say that the Mayan Calendar predicts “Doomsday” for December 21, 2012.

Joe and Moe are brothers. Each of them has heard of this ominous date. In fact, Joe and Moe discussed the Mayan calendar during a Holiday family dinner on December 21, 2011. At that dinner, Moe insisted that the Doomsday date was accurate. Joe reflected on this date and said “you could be right” and shrugged. After this dinner, Moe thought about the impending Doom constantly, while Joe never took the date seriously.

Over the next year, Moe fretted over the impending end of the world. He watched multiple documentaries on cable TV about possible scenarios on how the world was going to end. He would watch shows on earthquakes, monster storms, global warming, nuclear devices being set off by terrorists, plagues, germ warfare, global pandemics and global financial meltdowns.Each day he would watch the news fearfully as he heard of pedophiles, local murders and food that could kill you. Moe spent the majority of his free time thinking of how to protect himself. In July, he quit his job and moved to an undisclosed location where he built a bunker deep underground. His wife and family did not join Moe in his bunker. Moe’s family thought that Moe had gone crazy and they hoped that he would come to his senses, especially if the world was still around 12-21-12. For the rest of the year Moe toiled on his bunker and continued to feast on a media diet of fear. Moe’s dominant thoughts were worrisome and most of the time he experienced fear, dread and anger.

Joe had a very different year than his brother. On New Year’s Eve 1-31-11, Joe , his wife and two children celebrated in Time Square. They were not able to get right next to the main stage, but they were very grateful of the experience of sharing New Year’s with the crowd. For the Superbowl, Joe’s family hosted a party with all their neighbors and friends and everyone had a great time. Even Moe’s family came without Moe, who thought that any celebration when the world was going to end was silly. In February, the family went on a ski vacation for the four day weekend. During the spring, Joe and his family had fun going to their son’s baseball games in addition to a couple of professional baseball games and went camping together a couple of times. In July, Joe’s family took a vacation to Southern California where they went to the beach, Disneyland, Legoland, Knotts Berryfarm and the San Diego Zoo. In October, the family hosted a Halloween party with a haunted house. In November, Joe and his family went to his parent’s place and enjoyed an epic turkey dinner with all of the fixings. Joe’s dominant thoughts and feelings were of  health, happiness, and appreciation.

On December 21, 2012, a gigantic solar flare erupted at 6:01 AM. The radiation of the solar flare was so intense, it anililated every life form on earth. Even Joe could not survive in his underground bunker.

Who had the better year?

Influence Versus Control

Many say that the Mayan Calendar predicts “Doomsday” for December 21, 2012.

Joe and Moe are brothers. Each of them has heard of this ominous date. In fact, Joe and Moe discussed the Mayan calendar during a Holiday family dinner on December 21, 2011. At that dinner, Moe insisted that the Doomsday date was accurate. Joe reflected on this date and said “you could be right” and shrugged. After this dinner, Moe thought about the impending Doom constantly, while Joe never took the date seriously.

Over the next year, Moe fretted over the impending end of the world. He watched multiple documentaries on cable TV about possible scenarios on how the world was going to end. He would watch shows on earthquakes, monster storms, global warming, nuclear devices being set off by terrorists, plagues, germ warfare, global pandemics and global financial meltdowns.Each day he would watch the news fearfully as…

View original post 369 more words

February 2, 2012

Summary of Main Points


In this blog, we have reviewed some Psychological concepts important to the discussion of what we can personally control and what factors we can only influence.


In “The First Step” we discussed that you will experience more success in attaining your live goals if you take full responsibility for where you are in your life. This concept is supported by research in Intrinsic Locus of Control that people who feel that the have the ability to control their lives tend to be happier.


When discussing locus of control, we also stated that there are some elements of life that we cannot control such as the economy or weather and for these factors we should adopt an external locus of control. Although there are elements of life that we cannot control, we are in control on how we choose to respond to these situations. In the blog post E+R=O we discussed that our chosen response to a given situation has a direct impact on the overall outcome.


If “The First Step” is accepting full responsibility for your life, the second step should be “Find your Passion”. The research suggests that for situations that require problem solving and creativity, people do better when they are intrinsically motivated.


If we have identified some life goals that are challenging for us, we may benefit from extrinsic rewards to help get us motivated.


Once we have reflected on our passions and considered what activities help us “go with the flow”, it is beneficial to reflect on our belief systems. In the blog post “Icebergs Ahead” we discussed that many of our beliefs are unconscious, yet still have a significant impact on our internal dialogue. In “Identity” we discussed that what we typically think of as ourselves is the voice in our head. Once we realize that a “me is a story I tell myself”, we can start to evaluate which recurring thoughts are serving us and which thoughts bring us down. In Judgment – Part 2 we discussed that there is a difference between the processes of evaluation (“does this serve my interests”) versus devaluation (finding something or someone to be “inferior” to us). In reviewing our beliefs, it is valuable to evaluate if a belief serves us and to “root out” beliefs that devalue our selves or the humanity of others.  Similarly, in “Appreciation” we discussed that it is helpful to review our beliefs to see if we are appreciating the world around us as well as our own value.


In future blogs, we will be exploring emotions in more depth and considerations for turning around our emotional perspective.


For the topic of actions, we reviewed how to set goals.


In future blogs, we will explore some pragmatic action plans in the areas of weight loss as well as finances.


So far, this blog has been posted daily. To ensure quality of writing and to tackle topics in greater detail, I have decided to start posting weekly. If you prefer the daily posts please let me know.


If you have any feedback about the content so far, please feel free to contact me at


Thank you for your time and attention!


Andrew Gilbert

January 28, 2012

Sometimes you need extrinsic rewards

The other day I heard a great podcast on NPR’s Planet Money

In summary, the farmers in the town of Xiaogang were forced by the communist party to farm in a collective. They did not own the land and were required to work on a schedule dictated to them by the communist party. The government would take all the food that the collective grew and then share it with each family. There was no extrinsic reward for working harder or for growing more food. No matter how well the farmers did, they always received the same amount from the government. The amount of food that they received was insufficient in feeding their families.

“In Xiaogang there was never enough food, and the farmers often had to go to other villages to beg. Their children were going hungry.”

To solve this problem, the villagers agreed to split up the land into family plots. If a family worked hard and grew lots of food, that family could keep some of the food. Now, these families had the promise of an extrinsic reward for their efforts. Before the agreement, families would only start working when the whistle blew to start their work day. After the agreement, many families went out before dawn.

“At the end of the season, they had an enormous harvest: more, Yen Hongchang says, than in the previous five years combined.”

There can be great power to be rewarded for your efforts. There is also power to know that the harder you work, the more you will be rewarded for your efforts. If one of your goals is to earn enough to support your family, sometimes intrinsic motivation is not enough.

May you be rewarded for all of your efforts!