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Posts tagged ‘personal power’

Kiss Relationship Myths Goodbye

We’ve decided we want a primary partnership in our life, we are ready, we have some solid direction about choosing a partner.  Even with this fabulous new understanding of ourselves, old societal conditioning and limiting beliefs can still mess us up as we’re forging our healthier new relationships (or equally, as we evaluate leaving a current relationship: coming in next post!) Best to have these ideas fresh in our mind, so that when archaic thinking rears, we can immediately recognize it as such – and dismiss it.

Before we go on, let’s get the whole issue of whether or not you believe in soulmates out of the way: bluntly, I DON’T CARE! The word “soulmate” is truly very innocuous, but somehow it has Soulmates. Real?become a true or false debate, and in my opinion, you’d only debate the issue if you don’t know yourself very well; otherwise, you’d have a clear understanding of how relationships factor in your life and vocabulary wouldn’t mean a damn thing!!  The word soulmate is just kind of a handy term to indicate those bearing deeper resonance in your being, as opposed to terms like “significant other” – which let’s face it, doesn’t make someone sound very significant at all! There’s no inference here that you can’t have more than one soulmate, or that they won’t change roles in your life as you grow.  For the purposes of this article:

A soulmate (or soul mate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity more rare and unique than that of other relationships.
– Collins English Dictionary

Simple and generic as you can get. Now, onto an opinion by Dr. Phil regarding “relationships myths” to steer clear of, as per an O Magazine posting:

Ten Relationship Myths

If you are still romantically connected to someone who is not a soul mate, it’s important to discern when one particular relationship has run its course. Most of us know, but sometimes it is hard to let go. It is difficult to let go of a relationship that offers soul pathcompanionship, sex, fun, or financial security. But when you want a true soul mate, holding on to a relationship that only imitates love keeps us from the very thing we say we desire. Even the difficult aspects of romantic evolution can be considered “time served” in preparation for true love. Many of us get our best training in relationship boot camp. We may beat ourselves up for bad marriages, relationships, and dates–any time that seems wasted on Ms. or Mr. Wrong–but in truth, they are an important, instructive part of the journey. The grand awakening to what soul mate love is comes by discovering firsthand what it is not.

The quality of a relationship depends on how well it meets the needs of those involved. -Dr. Phil

Think your relationship is a failure because you and your partner aren’t following certain “rules” or meeting certain standards? Dr. Phil blows the whistle on 10 of the most common but dangerous relationship myths.

MYTH #1: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON A GREAT MEETING OF THE MINDS

  • You will never see things through your partner’s eyes because you are two entirely different people. You are genetically, physiologically, psychologically and historically different.
  • You will not solve your relationship problems by becoming more alike in your thinking. Men and women are wired differently. Attempting to blur your fundamentally different viewpoints is unnatural and even dangerous.
  • Recognize that a relationship is far more enjoyable when you’re with someone who enriches your life, not simply reflects it. Appreciate your differences.

MYTH #2: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES A GREAT ROMANCE

  • Yes, your life with your partner should include plenty of romance. But don’t kid yourself and expect an unrealistic Hollywood fairytale. The truth is that in the real world, being in love is not like falling in love.romance fairytale2
  • Falling in love is only the first stage of love. It’s impossible to remain in that stage. A mature relationship will shift from dizzying infatuation to a deeper, more secure love.
  • Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that when the initial wild passion fades you aren’t in love anymore. The answer is not to start a new relationship so you can recapture that emotional high with someone else. The answer is to learn how to move on to the next stages of love for a different but richer experience.

MYTH #3: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES GREAT PROBLEM-SOLVING

  • Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you and your partner can’t be happy if you can’t resolve your serious disagreements. Ninety percent of problems in a relationship are not solvable.
  • There are things that you and your partner disagree about and will continue to disagree about. Why can’t you once and for all resolve these issues? Because in order to do so, one of you would have to sacrifice your values and beliefs.
  • You can simply agree to disagree and reach “emotional closure” even though you haven’t reached closure on the issue.

You'll love it

MYTH #4: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES COMMON INTERESTS THAT BOND YOU TOGETHER FOREVER

There is nothing wrong with your relationship if you don’t share common interests and activities.

If you and your partner are forcing yourselves to engage in common activities but the results are stress, tension and conflict, don’t do it!

MYTH #5: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP IS A PEACEFUL ONE

  • Don’t be afraid to argue because you think it’s a sign of weakness or relationship breakdown. Even the healthiest couples argue.
  • If approached properly, arguing can actually help the relationship by (a) releasing tension and (b) instilling the sense of peace and trust that comes from knowing you can release feelings without being abandoned or humiliated.
  • Instead of worrying about how many times you argue, worry about how you argue. Here are some guidelines:
    • Don’t abandon the issue and attack the worth of your partner during an argument.
    • Don’t seek conflict because it’s stimulating.
    • Don’t pursue a take-no-prisoners approach in your arguments.
    • Don’t avoid achieving emotional closure at the end of an argument.

MYTH #6: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP LETS YOU VENT ALL YOUR FEELINGS

  • Getting things off your chest might feel good, but when you blurt something outRelationships ebb and flow in the heat of the moment, you risk damaging your relationship permanently. Many relationships are destroyed when one partner can’t forgive something that was said during uncensored venting.
  • Before you say something you might regret, bite your tongue and give yourself a moment to consider how you really feel. The things we say while we’re letting loose often don’t represent how we really feel and shouldn’t be communicated — especially if they are potentially destructive.

MYTH #7: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX

  • The belief that sex is not important is a dangerous and intimacy-eroding myth. Sex provides an important time-out from the pressures of our daily lives and allows us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners.
  • Sex might not be everything but it registers higher (90 percent) on the “importance scale” if it’s a source of frustration in your relationship. If your sex life is unfulfilled, it becomes a gigantic issue. On the other hand, couples that have satisfying sex lives rate sex at only 10 percent on the “importance scale.”
  • Don’t restrict your thinking by considering sex to be something that only consists of the actual physical act. Touching, caressing, holding hands and any means by which you provide physical comfort to your partner can all be viewed as part of a fulfilling sex life.

MYTH #8: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP CANNOT SURVIVE A FLAWED PARTNER

  • Nobody’s perfect. As long as your partner’s quirks are non-abusive and non-destructive, you can learn to live with them.
  • Instead of focusing on your partner’s shortcomings, remember the qualities that attracted you in the first place. Perhaps some of these idiosyncrasies were part of the attraction? Just because a behavior isn’t mainstream, doesn’t mean that it’s toxic to the relationship.
  • Be careful to distinguish the difference between a partner with quirks and one with a serious problem. Serious problems that are destructive and abusive include substance abuse and mental/physical abuse. Unlike idiosyncrasies, these are not behaviors you should learn to live with.

MYTH #9: THERE IS A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO MAKE THE RELATIONSHIP GREATMy rules

  • Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no definitive “right way” to be a good spouse, good parent, or to handle any relationship challenge that life throws you.
  • Do what works for you rather than following some standards you might have read in a book or heard from a well-meaning friend. If what you and your partner are doing is generating the results you want, stick with it. If both of you are comfortable with the principles that work, you can write your own rules.
  • Remember not to be rigid about the way in which you accept your partner’s expressions of love. There is no “right way” for someone to love you. The fact that your partner expresses feelings differently doesn’t make those feelings less genuine or of less value.

MYTH #10: YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAN BECOME GREAT ONLY WHEN YOU STRAIGHTEN YOUR PARTNER OUT

  • Don’t fall into the trap of believing that if you could change your partner, your relationship would be better. You are, at the very least, jointly accountable for the relationship.
  • Let go of the childlike notion that falling in love means finding someone who will be responsible for your happiness. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness.
  • If your relationship is distressed, the most important person for you to change might be yourself. Once you identify the payoffs you are subconsciously seeking with destructive behavior, you can choose to remove them from your life.

Appreciate the relationships that have taught you what you don’t want. Honor those loves. Express gratitude for the lessons you have learned, even the toughest ones. Send a spiritual message to your old flame saying,

“I thank you, I bless you, I release you”

… and sayonara baby!

Oh – You Want To Be Happy TOO??

Ever Gotten What You Wanted…
But It Didn’t Make You Happy?

Humans just SO messed up somewhere along the way.  Society…parenting…education system – no point in sourcing blame, just follow Maya Angelou’s “when you know better, do better” philosophy, I reckon.  I’m referring to our belief that we have to compare materialismourselves to anyone or anything. There’s a predominant conditioning in these parts that our lives (thus happiness) are measured in stages of development and accomplishments – and man, doesn’t that make the years fly?!!  Baby should be walking by X, talking by X… and all of a sudden you have this little person – when did that happen?  You master the alphabet by Y and algebra by Z – then suddenly you should be grown up… and you need to have a career, a partner, money in the bank and a retirement plan… and when you beat yourself up for another 20 years for not having all of that by 30 – because that’s OLD and you SHOULD, your negative thoughts and their impact on your body set you up perfectly for illness; and if you don’t die then, you try so hard to mash all of your bucket list into the next 10 years and enjoy yourself – dammit, that you’re too exhausted to revel in the golden years that you worked your a** off for – then you die. Sure, there are some happy moments in there – but are they really?  With so many adults struggling at 40-50-60 to still figure out “who” they are – something is fundamentally wrong.  “YOU” is innate; happiness is innate: we’re born that way because we’re suppose to live that way.  We humans mess it up with our mindless thinking and pointless, soul-raping comparisons.

Howz about we re-write the plan a little.  Parents are all full of the “you are perfect just the way you are, honey – you can be whatever you want to be” mantra – – but here it comes… in your head without skipping a beat… the conditioned ending to that thought: “but only if you demonstrate that you reach XYZ by XYZ timeframe just like Olivia in your class”. Silent, but  loud.  You’d never say that to the kids, I know, but face it, there is no “modelling” if YOU don’t know who YOU are, folks: you have to live it to sell it to the kids. Let’s work on a subtle shift of awareness – pay attention; SUPPORT your kid to really BE who they are. Let’s permit and assist them – and each other, to take this inborn identity and play with it, explore it, and do with it whatever is so chosen.  Milestones are great – but pick out a few flat ones to skip in the river: it just might amaze you.  A good start is to abandon the need for comparison to any other person, norm, median measurement in our life philosophies; and while making this transition within our measurement-crazy society, let’s reinforce any type of “assessment” to be perceived as a personal goal to attain higher knowledge or skill – – and to make it commonplace that we personally buy into any goal in the first place as something desired to enhance our own life or spirit.

Dr. Judith Wright has a relatable view on the subject, including a perspective within the workplace:

And I want it delivered

I had gotten what I wanted by my late 20s. I had set–and met–my goals; I had gotten all A’s, achieved career success, lost weight, had a handsome boyfriend, volunteered, and was doing good work in the world developing model programs for people with disabilities.

I had what I wanted–but I was unfulfilled. Dissatisfied. I expected that I’d be thrilled, but I was far from it. Even though my friends said I had it all and how lucky I was, I didn’t feel lucky. Then I felt guilty that this wasn’t enough and I thought I needed to do better, do more, be better.

So, I worked harder and partied more and achieved more goals and lost more weight and bought more cool stuff and did more cool stuff and I still wasn’t satisfied. I still felt that nagging emptiness.

It turns out I was miswanting–what positive psychologists say is wanting something that you mistakenly think will make you happy, with an emphasis on MISTAKEN.

We all do it. We are what scientists call poor “affective forecasters”—which means we pretty much suck at predicting what will make us happy.

I was getting what I wanted, but that wasn’t making me happy, satisfied, or fulfilled. And I found out I wasn’t alone in this. So many people were coming to our company for coaching Having everything you desire is not normalor personal and professional development trainings who seemed to have it all—great accomplishments, busy lives filled with great activities—but just like me they felt empty and unfulfilled, like something was missing. We thought the secret to happiness is to set and meet new goals, get another promotion, buy a new place, do yoga and meditate, do a seminar and our vision boards, tone our bodies and volunteer, scout for cool places to go to and cool people to go with…

Yet, none of these things will make us happy unless we unlock the real secret of happiness– which is not about getting what we want, but about fulfilling our yearnings.

The act of wanting gives a dopamine high, that anticipation of reward, that quick buzz, the rush of excitement, that burst of energy… but it doesn’t make us happy or provide long-term fuel of fulfillment. It doesn’t keep us warm at night, make us love our lives, help us respect and be proud of who we are when we look in the mirror, or make us satisfied about our contribution to the world or the legacy we’ll leave at the end of our lives.

Yearning is the true desire under all of our activity, all our goals, all those stabs at self improvement—the yearnings we all have to love and be loved, to be seen and heard, to touch and be touched, to matter, to connect, to belong, to excel, to make a difference. We want to get that promotion, but chances are we yearn to be seen, affirmed, or respected. We want to check our Facebook page, but at a deeper level we yearn to connect.

Believe - you already have it all

And when we are in touch with that deeper yearning, and know what we truly desire, everything shifts. Then we aren’t doing things so that when we get it, achieve it, or buy it we’ll be happy. We start to do things that meet our yearnings directly, and then we find that we actually accomplish more and we are more nourished and fulfilled in the process. When we are with a client or on a sales call, we focus on our yearning to connect, and we serve that client more deeply and tend to make more sales as a result. Whether we are making dinner or making love or making widgets, we are aware of our yearning to nourish and be nourished, to love and be loved, or to excel. The process is fulfilling and we’re not just waiting for the result or…uh…the climax, to be satisfied.

I discovered that I really yearned to love and be loved, to matter, to belong, to make a difference. And, that I was trying to “earn” love by my achievements and trying to prove I mattered through my accomplishments. I saw that what would really satisfy me wasn’t just doing more, or being better, or partying more; it was deeper. It was being present to what I yearned for inside my heart, being more conscious, feeling more fully.

Guess he missed the point.

By focusing on the goal,
I was missing the point.

By following my yearning, I’m more satisfied and fulfilled and meeting more “goals” than I could have imagined. I’m discovering things I wouldn’t have even been able to state as a goal before. It’s like I’m emerging and transforming as I stretch and engage in life to meet my yearnings. Rather than waiting for some future outcome, I’m more spontaneous and in the moment. It’s a messier way to live, I’m not so “perfect,” and I make a lot of mistakes by experimenting on the journey, but it’s a juicier, more exciting, more fulfilling way to live.

My yearnings while writing this? To share, to connect, to make a difference, and hopefully, to ignite some yearnings in you. Forget what we want, let’s go for what we yearn for instead.

Yearn, baby, yearn.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

adapted from The Daily Love Blog, June 20, 2013

Judith WrightJUDITH is hailed as a peerless educator, world-class coach, lifestyles expert, inspirational speaker, best-selling author, and corporate consultant. She is called one of America’s Ultimate Experts”, featured on 20/20, Oprah, the Today show, and in Marie Claire, Fitness, and Health as well as The Chicago Tribune, The New York Daily News, and The Detroit Free Press. Judith is the author of The One Decision and The Soft Addiction Solution. Judith’s latest venture is as president of The Wright Graduate Institute for the Realization of Human Potential.

If There Was a Door to an Extraordinary Life…

Reach for what you want.Would You Open It?

Duh!  It seems the obvious answer doesn’t it?

Now, what if there was some manageable pain involved – would that be a fair compromise, or would that be a dealbreaker? Hmmmm. The answer still seems pretty obvious, but obvious does not mean simple.

Coach and author Barrie Davenport has a great blog Live Bold and Bloom, where she shares both her philosophy and those of guest authors on taking action to create your best life. She shares a love of the quote by Anais Nin that I have chosen as one of my personal mantras, (on sidebar at right), and states her personal mission as follows:

I’ve learned that the only way to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually, is by stretching yourself. Not by practicing Yoga (although that’s a great stretch too!), but by doing something that might not feel natural at first. In fact, it might feel a bit uncomfortable. It’s easy to live inside our closed up buds. But wouldn’t you rather open up and bloom gloriously? Wouldn’t you rather live the life of your dreams instead of just dreaming about it? Part of my life dream is helping others discover their own. That is my calling.”

This is an article by Barrie, encouraging us to take action in our lives; pick even one area and stretch your awareness, your potential, your self… and thus your enjoyment of life.  (I especially like the find a mentor part!!)

20 Ways to Stretch Yourself

by Barrie Davenport

“Sound when stretched is music. Movement when stretched is dance. Mind when stretched is meditation. Life when stretched is celebration.” ~Shri Shri Ravishankar Jee

How much do you want from life? Right now, stop for a moment and think about one word you would use to describe your life today. Got it? If you knew you could open a door that would lead you to an even more fulfilling and extraordinary life, would you open it? What if there was some manageable pain involved? Well, here’s the good news and the bad news: that door does exist, but almost always, the pain does to.

All growth involves some level of discomfort. But the discomfort is short-lived. The growth is forever.

Where the magic happens.If you view life as a circle, most of us live  inside that circle where everything is comfortable and familiar. Occasionally, we might be forced outside by unexpected circumstances, and the brave among us might take a moment to look around at this new and scary landscape. But mostly, we scurry back to the safety of our circle.

Here’s a truth you already know: really bold leaps in our personal growth and quality of life happen only when step outside of that circle and keep walking.

The world has so much to offer — great adventures, interesting people, beauty, learning, emotional development, profound experiences. And we have such a short time on this planet — somewhere around 30,000 days if we live to our mid-eighties.

Why do we resist stretching ourselves beyond our circles when real living is on the other side?

Here are some of the reasons:

  • We fear the unknown. It might be worse than what we have now.
  • We fear failure and looking bad in the eyes of others.
  • We fear success. It will require more of us.
  • We have limiting beliefs about what we “should” do and can do.
  • We don’t believe we are deserving.
  • We don’t want to offend other people.
  • We can’t or won’t imagine how truly amazing life could be.
  • We think it will require resources we don’t have.
  • We don’t like discomfort.

On that 30,000th day, don’t look back on your life and say, “If only. . . .” Life is a string of “right nows.” Whatever it is that you hope might happen in the future won’t happen unless you are doing something about it right in this very moment. Living outside of your circle doesn’t mean you have to go climb Mt. Everest or make a million dollars (unless that’s what you want to do). It does mean shifting up to the next level. Some stretches might move you forward a little, and some might propel you into an entirely new world. Both are good. All forward movement is good.

The key is to take action. Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen in your life. Make it happen.

Here are some practical ideas for doing just that:

1.  Start with awareness. By reading this article, you are probably thinking about your life and how it could be better, more exceptional. Recognize right now that more is possible for you, and it can be achieved.

2.  Access what you want. What do you want to achieve, learn, accomplish, enjoy and understand? Create a list with categories for career, family, travel, self-development, education or any others that apply to your life. Under each category, write down your heart’s desire — without limitations.

Leap List

3.  Pick your top five. Don’t overwhelm yourself with everything on your list. You will not be able to do everything. But you can do many things and still make your life profoundly better. For now, pick your top five, but hold on to your list.

4.  Pick something easy. Create momentum and excitement by starting with an easy goal. Something that won’t involve too much of a stretch. Maybe it’s a trip you’ve wanted to take or a class you have been thinking about. Choose one item from your stretch list. When it’s completed, start with the next goal.

5.  For now, don’t think. Just start taking small actions. Write down everything to accomplish your goal — from making calls, saving money, setting appointments, doing research. Don’t over-think it or question yourself.  Make your action list and then just do it. One action at a time.

6.  Challenge assumptions. Fear and self-doubt will creep in. You must challenge assumptions and negative thinking. If you keep thinking you can’t do something, or you aren’t smart enough, then you are creating a self-fulfilling cycle of inertia. Even if you don’t feel confident, pretend that you do. Mentally resist when you start negative self-talk, and switch gears to thinking, “I can, I will.”

Well I Try!7.  Befriend failure. Begin to view failure as a friend, not an enemy. We are not handed a road map to explore new territory. We set out on our adventure with a hazy view of the way forward. We may take wrong turns, but we have to take them to find the correct path. Love every failure, because it is part of growth. If you avoid failure, you are restricting your life.

8.  Make it public. This is a real stretch, but a very successful one. When you begin a new goal or challenge, tell someone — anyone, everyone. Make it public. Now, you are accountable. It is human nature, when others are watching you, you will work harder. If you are serious about doing something, tell people. And tell them your deadline.

9.  Find a mentor!!!! Find someone who will inspire you to move forward; someone you can feel safe with, connect with, ask questions and advice. Maybe find someone whose life you want to emulate; study that person; learn how they accomplished and achieved.

10.  Look stupid. Be willing to reveal what you don’t know. Everyone has areas of ignorance. Truly smart people are eager to learn and willing to expose their lack of knowledge. Once you get past that embarrassment, the learning is the easy part!

Ignore judgemental people.11.  Ignore other people. Strive to detach from what other people think about you. People spend more time thinking about themselves anyway. The first and main person you have to please is yourself. Then your family and maybe a few close friends who are authentic. After that, you are chasing your tail. What other people think doesn’t matter.

12. Stop resisting. Remember the old pinball machines? You’d pull a lever and the ball would bounce off walls as it sought it’s way forward. Approach life that way. You are going to hit obstacles — whether it’s negative people or circumstances. Instead of resisting, move in a different direction. Bad things happen along the path, but don’t get stuck in them. Move away from them.

13. Think creatively. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. As you approach a goal or action step, challenge yourself to find a bigger, better, or different way. The internet is an amazing resource for this. Look at what others are doing. Steal ideas and make them your own. Think big. Now think bigger.

14. Remove distractions. Whatever you are working on, work on that one thing. Don’t get distracted by emails, phone calls, other pending projects, or intruding extraneous thoughts. Focus on the task at hand, every single time.

15. Simplify everything. In order to achieve what will take you to the next level, you have to let go of what’s tethering you to the mundane. Begin some mental, emotional, and mental housekeeping. Where are you spending time that is draining your energy and resources? Are you spending time caring for material things that don’t contribute to a better quality of life? Do you have too many mindless tasks? Start eliminating these things, and free up tons of valuable time.

Whatcha got to lose??16. Try new things. Whenever you have the opportunity, try something new. A new hobby, new friends, a new type of book, a new idea. Expose yourself to different ways of doing things and thinking about things. Find new environments for learning. This will open new pathways to growth that you never knew existed.

17. Set a big challenge. Chris Guillebeau, the founder of the blog The Art of Non-Conformity, has set the astounding goal of visiting every country in the world (except those in turmoil) by the time he’s 35. He is 32 now. He chronicles his adventures for his blog followers. Create a big challenge for yourself, just for the fun of it. If you don’t make it, big deal. But if you do . . . .

18. Join a community. There’s lots of support out there for whatever you are doing. Get involved in a group of like-minded people who can cheer you on, inspire you, offer input and provide support.

19. Acknowledge yourself. Every step forward should be celebrated. We get so mired in the doing that we forget the being. Take time to ponder the growth you have made and the goals you have achieved. Share these achievements with family and friends. Write them down. You are becoming a different person.

20. Enjoy the process. As you take steps to stretch yourself and create a better life, don’t forget to savor the “right now.” The process of growth is forever, so you will always be in process. All you really have is this very moment — this is your life, so see the beauty in it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
posted June 10, 2010 Barrie Davenport is a personal and career coach and founder of Live Bold and Bloom, a blog about fearless living. She is the author of the free e-book, How to Have a Meaningful Life.

Depression Cafe

Embrace change.Life, please…
with a side order of dysthymia…

This week’s post outlined a typical path for learning about what happens when you have a diagnosis of depression.  As way of subsidy, here is a menu of TYPES of depression diagnoses. Ranging from sneakily disruptive to life-threatening, diagnosing and dealing is your quickest and best route to living your best life.
Following is an
edited ‘snippet’ that proved to be quite thorough and user-friendly (based on the DSM IV: the “bible” of mental health diagnostics) from one of the hundreds of good sites available to explore this issue.

This post and links are for general information only; your mental health practitioner has the latest “official” diagnostic info relative to your interests. 

3 Common Types of Depression
and 3 Less Common

Here is a quick list of the 6 different types of depression:

  1. Major depressive disorder
  2. Manic depression (bipolar disorder)
  3. Dysthymic depression
  4. Endogenous depression
  5. Situational depression
  6. Psychotic depression

The three less common different types of depression (4-6) only differ slightly from the general category of major depressive disorder:

Endogenous depression is referred to on many sites, thus it’s inclusion here, but has actually become a defunct category, formerly interpreted as stemming from purely inherent biological causes (in DNA). Current research in neuropsychology can now link biochemistry with the influence of “thought”, connecting it more closely with situational depression. Biochemical changes are inherent in all depression diagnoses: some need management long-term including drug therapy; some short-term where talk therapy may suffice and perhaps adding limited drug therapy.
Situational depression, often called adjustment disorder, is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event.
Psychotic depression is an extreme form of depression in which the low mood states are often accompanied by delusions or even complete hallucinations. Delusions can include the sufferer feeling guilty for something which they are not really responsible for.
Continue Reading→ 3 Most Common Depressions (page 2)

Diagnosis: Depression. Huh?

I don't understand.Following up on Harley’s personal story in last week’s post “Depression: The Immaculate Conception“, some of you have inquired about diagnosing depression. There are many approaches to this discussion, but if you suspect a mood disorder in yourself or a loved one, the best step is to seek the opinion of a professional: HUMAN BEING!! Specifically, your family physician or a mental health authority are the most common routes to start. Research all you want, but the earlier a diagnosis, the less stress in wondering about it and the quicker you can find an action plan. Please beware, not all GP’s have more than the limited med school education in mental health treatments, and while they certainly have adequate experience to get you started, they may not be the best resource for your entire journey. You can only trust your guts on what practitioner works for you, but rule of thumb: if at any point you are looking to abandon your actions to move forward, you should most likely check out a new professional partner… and keep looking until you find someone who feels like they are on your team!

Following is the classic information on diagnosing depression from a local mental health association: CMHA British Columbia division:

Dealing with a Depression Diagnosis

Whaaa...depressed?No one wants to feel unwell. Talking to your doctor or other health professional about problems with your mood is an important first step. But if you’re diagnosed with depression (or major depressive disorder, the medical term for clinical depression), you may end up with more questions than answers.

Being diagnosed with anything can be hard, but a mental health diagnosis can be particularly hard to deal with. You might wonder why this has happened to you and how a diagnosis will affect your life. But no matter what, it’s important to remember that you are not your diagnosis—you are a person that happens to be dealing with depression.

The medical system may not be the only way to deal with depression. You don’t have to adopt a strictly medical point of view—some people find it helpful, but others don’t. But you will likely have to work with people in the medical systems, such as doctors and mental health professionals, to access treatments and other forms of support. This system is based on the process of looking at your signs, symptoms and test results to find answers. The first step is generally to clarify the diagnosis—what may appear to be a mental disorder may instead be an unexpected medical condition. The diagnosis is how health professionals organize the problem you experience. It’s the start of a process to get you feeling better.
Continue Reading: Why Me?…What the Heck IS It??? (page 2)

Depression: An Immaculate Conception

Thoughts create reality.

My last post featuring an article by Dr. Lissa Rankin featuring functional medicine, raised awareness on the mind-body connection, and how once we start to see a connection in our own lives, it becomes like…DUH!!!!… of course there’s a connection! Your relationship with both your body and your GP will be forever changed.

In my personal journey, and in those of many clients whom I mentor through clinical depression, it’s been pretty clear (once the fog lifts!): the majority of the experience was in fact within our ability to manage outside of the GP’s office. Depression manifests significantly by churning the same thoughts and old limiting beliefs over… and over… and over. Seriously: a very small number of defeating thoughts percolate incognito hundreds of times throughout the day (and through our sleep!!) with NO interruption or reality-check.  ‘Distortion central’ triggering hormones galore! The concurrent emotional pain, lethargy, brainfog, bodyaches, headaches, self-doubt, fear, anxiety thus hopelessness are so tangled up into the “old-school” depression diagnosis, that both mainstream belief and the DSM have over-credited our biology and our biochemistry for the predictably long course and meds-dominant recovery that depression will take.

Not even close: take comfort!

New “functional”, “integrative” mind-body medicine is proving to have outstanding success rate in innumerable health challenges- particularly depression – and is being prescribed more and more as the healthcare industry gets up to speed on the research and protocols — and gets over their egos (it’s simply progress my friends!). Predominantly attributable to the advance of fMRI’s and the ability to both see/measure mind-body/brain reactions in real time, it’s a game-changer to know our thoughts literally change our biochemistry – and, AND, those thoughts can be true OR imagined: the body does not differentiate.  Additionally, we can witness which parts of the brain are engaged/dominant, and/or not functioning as expected, both generally, and when provoked with images/situations creating thoughts and/or emotions. This gives us a lot more information/direction to work with, but more importantly, reveals we have a LOT more self power than we have ever been directed towards in healthcare previously.  Combined with what we now know about epigenetics and our manipulatable DNA, the resulting Rx: less medication, more meditation.

Like I say on my home page, if I had had experienced mentors to guide me when I was struggling with change and depression, I’m convinced I would have been on a healthy path much, MUCH sooner.  Would life have been better? Doesn’t matter. My growth from that chapter brought awareness of what I needed to learn: our bodies are made to take care of themselves- so take care of them; our minds drive a great part of our bodies’ decisions- so take care of them; and great support in the form of both self-care and community (preferably as a wellness plan not just a sickness response!) can handle a lot of our life woes (or perceptions thereof!).

That’s not to say that there doesn’t need to be the utmost respect and partnership between evolving perspectives and traditional medicine. Fortunately, BC, where I am based, is beginning to offer more user-friendly information on integrative and functional healing, and the mental health area in particular is really making an effort.  The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division is one such progressive resource; the following is a very personal story of one BC resident who’s journey took just such a walk through varying perspectives of managing his health and life.Sigh.

Continued: Read Harley’s very forthcoming story (page 2)

Counselling: Who Gets It? For What? Who Doesn’t? Why Not?

Here’s one perspective:

Trends and barriers to getting folks
the counselling they need.

adapted from Psychology Today, April 2013
Susan  Heitler, Ph.D. with Linda McKinzie

Reach Out. Just Do It.For what do folks seek help?

The pie chart above shows what kinds of emotional problems led over 1500 folks last year (2012) to seek help from Denver’s Maria Droste Counseling Center’s 30 or more counsellors.

Maria Droste’s analysis indicated that anxiety and depression together accounted for the primary troubles of almost 40% of people who sought help.  What triggered their anxious, stressed and depressed feelings?  The something going wrong in their lives, MDCC’s staff believes, has often included long-term or chronic unemployment.

When people face a life problem, which usually is about the work or the love aspects of their lives, they typically first feel anxious.  Looking ahead they feel uncertain about what if anything they can do about the problem.

After a period of anxiety, which they may refer to as stress, people become at increasing risk for feeling angry, blaming others for their dilemma, for depression with hopelessness about finding solutions, or for self-injurious habits like drinking and smoking, and for relationship problems.

Note that the two biggest reasons people seek help are depression and relationship troubles.  That should be a heads up that internalizing our thoughts and feelings is a societally widespread problem, desperately requiring more life-skills training earlier in life, and a perspective shift regarding the freedom to be ourselves and speak our truths without fear of judgement.

It’s probably a bad sign that there’s twice as many folks seeking help for depression as for anxiety.   Depression suggests that folks are giving up on finding a fix.  This disproportion could indicate that people wait out their difficulties while they are anxious rather than seeking help in response to this initial distressed feeling.

“Depression is the leading source of disability in Canada at a rate slightly higher than the world average.”
~ Bill Wilkerson, Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health

For many folks, it’s only when they have fallen into a dark hole of hopelessness that they finally feel so bad that they reach out  for professional mental health services.  Better late than never, and yet that’s sad because often it’s easier for folks to find solutions to their problems when they are still feeling anxious than after they’ve given up.

Intake workers at Maria Droste noted another unexpected factor when they looked at these statistics for the past year’s intake records.  They noticed an increase in calls about relationship issues.

Claudia Gray, Maria Droste Intake Manager, said, “This year in particular, we had a lot of people requesting couples and family therapy for a variety of reasons.”

“Mental health disorders represent the greatest business and public health challenge of the 21st century. We must understand that. And in a hurry.”
~ Bob Lord, Chairman of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants

One of those reasons Gray speculates, has been the country’s economic downturn. “If couples are already struggling with insufficient communication skills for talking over their difficulties cooperatively and productively, and then you add the stress and struggle of economic and financial worries, weaknesses in communication become more pronounced.  Couples seek out counseling to help them find better ways to communicate with each other.”

Sue Kamler, Director of Maria Droste’s intake services, added that the calls coming in last year also seemed to be more complex. “For example, when someone called in saying they were experiencing depression and anxiety, during the assessment process we often discovered a history of childhood abuse or domestic violence. The depression and anxiety needed treatment, and at the same time it was important also to address their earlier issues of loss or abuse.”

Employees experiencing high work/life conflict have absenteeism rates three times those of employees with low work/life conflict.
~ Duxbury, Higgings: “Work-Life Balance in the New Millennium: Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?”, 2001

A recent study by compensation consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide found the estimated direct cost of absenteeism to business is 7.1 per cent of the payroll, up from 5.6 per cent in 1997. Again, stress-related disorders accounted for the lion’s share. In 2000, the only year studied, there was an additional 10 per cent indirect cost for overtime, replacement personnel and loss of productivity.
~ The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2002

 Why don’t more folks reach out
for the help they need?

“Mental health is talked about more now than ever before.  With the high profile media coverage and analysis of incidents such as the Sandy Hook shootings, public forums such as Dr. Phil and Oprah, and corporate involvement to bring mental health issues to a more commonly recognized part of life (such as Bell Let’s Talk Day), it is now the subject of discussions at national through to community through to dinner table levels.

Yet only a small proportion of the people who would benefit from counselling actually seek it out.  Why??

Ms. McKinzie offers the following explanations for why many people delay seeking support:

“One major reason that many people, especially men, do not seek support and therefore needlessly suffer for long periods of time from emotional pain, anxiety, excessive anger, old resentments and depression, is their perceived stigma associated with receiving mental health care. They regard getting help as embarrassing, something others do but not themselves.  Better to grin and bear it than to admit that they need help.

“Another concern is expense.  Only one of the costs of meeting with a counsellor is paying for the sessions, which health insurance or extended benefits may or may not help to cover.  In addition, missing time at work for weekly daytime therapy sessions can be costly in terms of not getting work done, docked pay, and supervisor disapproval.  Evening and weekend sessions may require payment for babysitters.

“Finally, there is a documented shortage of affordable mental health care in most communities. If everyone who genuinely needs mental health help were to seek it, there would be far too few resources to meet the challenge. And, there needs to be more options for talk therapy readily acknowledged to meet both a person’s comfort level and financial level, such as community programs, clergy, and mentors.

“Mental health is fundamental to physical health as well as to experiencing life’s most positive blessings such as happiness, gratitude and supportive loving relationships.”

This was one of the key messages in the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the topic of mental health and mental illness released way back in 1999. Now, 15 years later, we still have far to go in terms of getting mental/emotional/spiritual health support to all who need it.

What can give us hope?

Fortunately, there are more options being recognized for folks who are feeling that they just have to grin and bear it:  don’t know where to turn, think they can’t afford help, or fear the stigma of being labelled with an “inferior mind” or weak.  One of the most exciting new trends in our internet age has been the offering of SKYPE, phone and web-based mental health services in any form, from anywhere in the world.

The bottom line

Services are available far more broadly and less expensively than many might think.  If you are feeling down and out, mad or stressed, do consider giving mental health services a try!

When is talk-therapy useful?  Any time you:

Need someone on your side — someone who is knowledgeable

Are stuck and need help resolving a particular problem

Need coaching support to meet a specific goal, such as career, relationship or social

Have concerns about your relationship and want expert help to improve it, or to make decisions about the direction the relationship should take

Have a need for strict confidentiality in regard to your concern

Need a fresh look at your life and where it’s going

Are feeling depressed or stressed by specific events

Are sad, lonely, or anxious and don’t see a way out

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.
Co-author Linda McKinzie, is executive director of Denver’s  Maria Droste Counseling Center.

Co-Dependency 101

codependency_

by Pipa Gordon
The Raphael Project, 2010

Co-dependency essentially is another addiction that life can throw our way. It is a huge minefield and we are just going to scratch the surface here in order to open the door to conversation and thought. If it is something you you find yourself relating to, it might be a good idea to look deeper into it and/or seek some counselling.

A Co-dependent person is someone who is often more orientated to other people’s reality than their own. They have the ability to know and understand everyone elses’ needs but yet they can not tell you what they need for toffee. They are what is referred to as the finder and the fixer. From the outside, this person may come across as the modern day Mother Theresa, people may look at them and be inspired and wish they had it all together like she does but unfortunately, in this situation, when it is a co-dependent person acting out the role of everyone else’s fixer, they are hiding from their own pains and needs and getting their ego fix from being seen as the hero. Of course there is nothing wrong at all with being the good samaritan, but when this pattern of behaviour becomes someone’s identity and addiction, it is because of deeper issues at hand.

A Co-dependent relationship is perhaps best described as a non productive relationship that you are addicted to, feel bound to and can’t get out of your mind. These relationships can sneak up on us, are often the closest we have and are layered with guilt and “I should…” along the way. Unhealthy is an understatement as these relationships are emotionally imbalanced and leave you feeling drained; your thoughts and emotions go beyond those of normal healthy self-sacrifice and caring relationships and you feel beholden to keep up your side of the deal, often fearing that the other person might fall apart if you were to walk away – which even if it were the case, would be the making of you both. The healthy need of each other has gone beyond extremes and become an I need you to need me type of need which is suffocating and often causes the feeling of being trapped.

codependent4

Co-dependency doesn’t only occur between partners, but also often between parent and child. The longer it goes on for, the more the guilt and need runs deeply and almost feels like the life force of the relationship. Often you find that people in a co-dependent relationship are compeltely oblivious to it as they don’t know any different and often genuinely think they are caring for the other person. For example:

  1. a Mother is having a co-dependent relationship with her 32 year old son who still lives at home and is borrowing money, eating into her inheritance because she says he lost his job, again…..yet her allowing him to keep taking from her is feeding his not pulling himself together and acting responsibly and equally feeding her need to be needed.
  2. the Wife has a husband with a gambling problem so she’s working two jobs to make ends meet…she says he’s “trying to quit” but he’s not, because she’s making up the shortfall in their finances anyway.
  3. a Daughter phones her mother every day not because she wants to but because she feels she has to. She’s unable to make decisions without her Mother’s say so, is there at her Mother’s beck and call and carries guilt about being the perfect daughter even though she is married with her own family to look after. (nb, many daughters phone their mum regularly because they WANT to, this is perfectly healthy, we are talking about the feeling of “I need to” here).

So let’s break it down, what are the signs of a co-dependent relationship?

  • Secrets from the outside world
  • Guilt at not fixing their problemtoxic enter
  • Shame
  • Repressed Anger
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Compromising own values to avoid the other person’s rejection or anger
  • Power imbalance in a relationship

How do you know if you are a co-dependent person?

  • Do you get obsessed with fixing and rescuing needy people?
  • Are you easily absorbed in the pain and problems of other people? Do you find yourself feeling someone else’s pain beyond empathy?
  • Do you find yourself being controlling? Are you easily controlled within relationships?
  • Do you do more than your share….all of the time?
  • Are you always seeking approval and recognition? You need to be seen as important and integral?
  • Would you do anything to hold on to a relationship? Do you fear being abandoned?

Codependent support

Co-dependent women often burn out as they are entirely focused on the pain and suffering of someone else. There is a stark difference between a compassionate woman and a woman who is drawn to someone else’s pain as they feel that in being there to fix and help gives them a sense of worthiness.  There is also a difference between someone who works hard, and someone who is  a workaholic! Often you find co-dependent over achievers felt loved by  their parents because of what they DID, not who they were…and hence  they bring that learned behaviour into their adult lives and behave in  an almost martyr like fashion which not only is therefore wasted energy, but can also be damaging to their own spouse and children and the pattern becomes in danger of repeating itself.

Here’s a big one – you know he has a good side and you’re hoping that it will come back again….? Familiar? That’s a co-dependent relationship, you’re fixing him, you’re trying to change him, you’re hoping that one day things will get better and in the meantime are holding it all together. I know it’s a terribly painful realisation – it doesn’t mean the relationship is over, but it does mean that as long as you are protecting him and waiting for him to change, odds on, he won’t. You need to find your own independence, your own healthiness in this relationship and hope to goodness that he bounces back and does the same.

Neediness is an absolute red flag of co-dependency as one person’s happiness depends on having the other person right there, right now to the extent that their behaviour can become possessive, jealous and obsessive….calling them pointlessly throughout the day just to check up on what they are doing…. asking questions which have the underlying motivation  “Do you still love me? Am I still important?”…. these are all clear tell tales of a co-dependent relationship.

Repressed anger is also a deep one linked with shame. Often someone hasn’t been allowed to show their emotions as a child and so has never developed the ability to be rational with their reactions and feelings, their shame and low self esteem causes them to repress their anger as they don’t know what might happen to them if they were to express it.

neglected

What causes co-dependency? This can come from all angles of life! Often from childhood where the child has been loved for their actions rather than who they are, this in turn has built in a pattern, an integral belief that says “if I do good, I am loved” thus the over achieving fixer, mender, superhero over achiever is born. It can also be that as a child, the youngster wasn’t allowed to develop naturally into an independently thinking teen and young adult, perhaps because they were parented by an alcoholic, an abuser, someone with control issues or other family problems. This meant that their own mind was not allowed to function as they were controlled by their parents/care-givers telling them what to do, what to think, how to be, where to be, what is right, what is wrong etc, therefore, they have never learned how to be independent, but have literally been trained in co-dependency behaviour from the beginning.

As well as resulting from relationship issues; we also see that co-dependency can arise from mental illness such as depression, all types of abuse, chronic illness within the family, divorce, even moving home – any trauma without the correct support system around can also trigger and set the stage for codependency, this is because the natural reliance on oneself can become stuck which can then trigger an incomplete sense of self, a sense of inadequacy and an inability to stand on one’s own feet.  The person then feels vulnerable and begins to give with the motivation to receive stability and strength which somewhere along the line they lost.

How do we overcome co-dependency? We learn how to step across into inter-dependency. This is a healthy form of leaning on each other as an independent person, not a dependent one. There is a monumental difference between someone who is a free unconditional giving person versus one who gives because they need to feel needed.  The Mother Daughter relationship can often be co-dependent as it is naturally a very close bond but this is can be abused by emotional issues which can then create unhealthy links and bonds. A daughter can feel immensely guilty at wanting to break free from her Mother who has become all encompassing and involved in every decision in her daughter’s life. The Mother’s need has become larger than her ability to freely give and the daughter knows no different and so feels trapped.

change10

The first step with any addiction is of course to acknowledge it and then reach out for help. There are loads of books available but if you can, I would also opt for a course of counselling as as each case is intricate and different to the one before, it would be helpful to get a professional’s eye on the situation as this is a tough  nut to crack alone. What is very important is setting healthy boundaries and having a good support system because we are talking about changing the fundamental way that someone has done life so far.

There will be a small element of co-dependency in all of us, but you know heart of hearts if it is a problem. We touched on this lightly but do remember that co-dependency can arrive in your life at any given stage or equally can be the fruit of other things such as child abuse and bullying in those formative years. It’s always good to trace back as far as possible to find the root. We all know when weeding, that if you get the root, you’re laughing!

Pipa Gordon and the Raphael Project is a blog/site on wordpress, paraphrased as follows:

There are way too may people who walk this planet alone, who face trials of one degree or another singlehandedly. This is why I wanted to create a space where we can address all kinds of issues, some light some heavy, but those issues that we don’t always know how to deal with or where to go with. The ones that we’re not quite sure who to turn to about.
What this site is about is lifting the lid on life and discussing the lot! What makes it, how to survive it, how to look good whilst doing it but even better, how to do it fruitfully, happily and with one another. (Notice no use of the word successfully!).

For more info:  http://theraphaelproject.com/about

Belief Systems: Big 5 Culprits

The Big 5 That Develop Your Belief System

by Cathy Campbell, Inspired Personal Developmentprincess frog

From the moment you come into the world, you begin developing your belief system. And just how do you do this?

That first sentence contains a major hint of a notable attribute of developing beliefs… your system of beliefs forms from irrational input as well as rational!

Obviously as a newborn you don’t have a well formed capacity for logical deduction, so developing your belief system is not necessarily a rational process. Rather, it’s a process based on your experience of the world.

Whatever information comes to you in a form that you can digest, (ie. you have the necessary perception to process it), you file appropriately into your fledgling belief system.

As you mature, your abilities and understanding expands, and ultimately you are developing your belief system based on 5 primary methods of gathering information. Note that: only one of these stems directly from your personal facility of critical thinking!

Five Main Reasons You Believe

It can be very helpful and enlightening to know why you believe what you do. You might be surprised to realize some of the shaky ground you have formed your belief system on.

The big 5 are:

  1. Evidence
  2. Tradition
  3. Authority
  4. Association
  5. Revelation

Evidence Based Believing

Evidence shows that one thing causes another. The understanding of causation appeals to the analytical and critical thinking part of your mind.

Developing your belief system through this method is very rationale and based on the use of logical thinking.

The skills associated with evidence based believing develop as we mature, and become more honed through education. In this mode you look for facts. You look at events that are measurable, and where one thing directly causes something else. Scientific studies supply results from research and critically tested hypotheses to support evidence based beliefs.

You can also establish beliefs based on your personal experience of cause and affect. You might continually witness a consistent outcome from your actions. For example:

  • If you drive a certain route at rush hour, you know you will be 10 minutes late and upset yourself and others. Therefore you believe it’s best to take an alternate route during rush hour.
  • When you make dinner for friends, they express their appreciation, and you feel great. Therefore you know you will get enjoyment by creating dinner for friends.

This method of forming beliefs is also responsible for ‘learned helplessness’. If you consistently perform a behavior, and always get a negative outcome, you may come to believe that you have no power or influence in creating what it is you are aiming for. For example:

  • Because you are always 10 minutes late when driving that certain route at rush hour, and it is the only route possible to take, you know you will be 10 minutes late. You will feel upset, and you will upset others. Therefore, you always feel distressed in this situation.
  • When you make dinner for friends, no one expresses their appreciation, and you feel like a failure. Therefore you stop cooking dinner for friends.

The trick in the learned helplessness scenario is to adjust the elements that you can, and accept the things you cannot change. This might possibly include altering the physical elements such as setting alternate meeting times or places, or cooking different meals or inviting different friends!

But certainly one thing you can change, through gaining understanding, is how you view these events. For example, you could say:

  • If that is the only route possible to take during rush hour, and I cannot change appointment details, I will be 10 minutes late. That is reality.

Therefore, I have 10 minutes in traffic to put to use as I wish by listening to relaxing radio, personal development recordings, or reviewing the things I’m thankful for today. I will explain this situation to any other people affected. Whether they decide to make the best of the situation, is up to them. I am not responsible for how they view reality.

  • If I cook dinner for friends, and no one expresses appreciation, I can ask myself exactly why it is that I want to cook these dinners. If you feel like a failure when no one expresses appreciation, then you are likely looking to others to reinforce your self worth. That shows it’s time to recognize that your self worth is something always with you. To tap into it, spend some time talking to a life coach for personal development.

Adopting Traditional Beliefs

The traditions perpetuated through families and societies are a major factor in developing your belief system. We are often showered with traditions day in and day out when growing up, so they can be extremely easy to adopt, without even questioning. When you believe in a tradition, recognize that they have served some generation well. Yet it does not mean they are based in truth, nor necessarily have continued usefulness for your life.

There is a funny and telling story about a woman from a certain family where the women always cut their roasts in half prior to roasting. The third generation daughter said she did it because she understood that it made the meat more tender. Her mother said that she learned it from her own mom and thought it was to reduce the cooking time and save on energy usage. When the oldest woman, grandma, was asked about it, she said that the oven she had when raising a family was very small and it was necessary to always cut the roast in half to fit it in!

So not only was there a belief being passed down that it was important to cut the roast in half, the reason behind the belief was totally lost, and no longer relevant to the women’s lives!

It is through family and cultural tradition that many people formulate their primary belief system. Social culture, family bias, and societal prejudice all strongly influence formation of:

  • global beliefs such as:
    • what God is
    • political theory
    • science
    • personal value
  • topic specific beliefs:
    • the specific religious practice to support
    • which political party to vote for
    • which sport team to cheer for

Ask yourself ‘what role has tradition played in developing your belief system?’.

“We are so conditioned, so heavily burdened with belief, with tradition, with the past, that this actually prevents us from seeing or listening.”
-J Krishnamurti

Authority Steers Beliefs

Many beliefs are adopted from people that have a role of authority in our lives.

Sometimes these figures of authority also fall in the category of tradition, as you can imagine. For example, your parents play a role of authority in your early life and they are regularly passing traditions down to you.

Other times authority figures are independent to tradition. Some examples of authority figures who may influence your beliefs (while theirs are not necessarily based on traditional beliefs) might be:

  • a new age religious cult leader that espouses having a special direct line to ‘God’
  • doctors who tell you they absolutely know best about your health and all conflicting ideas re rubbish
  • a school teacher who you look up to, whether or not they follow ‘tradition’

Beliefs by Association

Who do you hang out with?

Whether you run with the ‘in crowd’ or the ‘nerds’, you will be adopting compatible beliefs to your own, as well as reinforcing common beliefs that you hold with your group. It is pretty much a case of ‘what you see is what you get’. As you are continually faced with particular ways of thinking within the group, you start to adopt and reinforce those ideas as the ‘right way’ to think.

Basically, by sharing time and activities, you rub off on one another and mutually influence one another’s belief system.

If you associate with hard working people who feel they are short on time and money, chances are you will be developing your belief system based around those ideas as well. Alternatively, if you spend your time with people who feel they have a very rich blessed life spending their time for their own delight, your attitude will likely be quite different.

Revelations Induce Beliefs

The definition of revelation referred to here is “disclosure of information to man by a divine or supernatural agency”. Basically, this is the experience of attaining information through what you might describe as:

  • a feeling or sense about something
  • a hunch or an inkling of an idea
  • an intuition or premonition about something
  • an insight through your sixth sense
  • a gut feeling
  • your minds eye or imagination

There are two primary and common understandings of how you may have ‘received’ this enlightening communication of knowledge:

  1. the information has been fed into your subconscious through external stimuli. It was just bubbling below the surface, and then some obscure occurrence brought it to your attention.
  2. your developing intuition, a sixth sense of perception of our world that everyone has. It may be that this 6th sense is just as powerful and ‘real’ as our other 5 senses. It has the ability to tune into other aspects of reality that humanity does not yet fully understand, nor have accurate measurements to assess.

Such inspiration can strike at any time; in the shower, driving to work, gazing at the ocean. Where ever it might have originated from may be interesting to ponder. Yet, I think the really interesting question is, ‘is the information valuable to you and how can you use it’.

Certainly Albert Einstein asked this question of the wild ideas he came up with, and look where it lead him and the world. He ushered in a raft of new beliefs for humanity. Just some of Einstein’s words of wisdom on the subject:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The Art and Magic of Believing

It is widely understood that most beliefs you hold have not originated with you. Rather, you have primarily adopted what makes sense to your experience and understanding at the time. You continue in developing your belief system largely by agreeing with ideas that come into your awareness.

Once you understand this, it gives you great strength to:

  • review your beliefs, and ask with nonattachment, “do they have a solid basis and do they serve you well?”
  • drop any feeling of threat when your ‘adopted beliefs’ seem to fall short, or come under attack

You have accepted your beliefs based on what you knew at the time. As you learn more, it is reasonable that your belief system will undergo change and growth.

© 2008-2013 inspired-personal-development.com

The Mental Shift That Can Change Everything

…RESPONSE-ABILITY at work and at home.

adapted from Fred Kofman, PhD. April 2013

“Sorry I’m late.
Traffic was awful!”

How many of your meetings start with this lame excuse? You know it’s a cop-out, yet an irrepressible urge makes you take the easy way out over, and over, and over again. It is not your fault, I know. It’s the irrepressible urge that makes you do it.

In Control versus Out of Control There are two types of causes: those within and those beyond your control. You have a choice about where to focus. The latter makes you look innocent. You are not to blame. The former makes you powerful. It is your “response-ability.” Being “response-able” means focusing on what you can do to respond to a challenge. It’s about taking ownership, rather than assigning blame and playing the innocent victim. As I wrote here, the price of innocence is impotence.

You can explain any result as the balance between these two causes: the challenge versus your ability to respond. When your ability is higher than the challenge, you succeed; when it is lower, you fail. Think of it as weight lifting. If your strength is bigger than the weight, you lift it; if it isn’t, you don’t. There is a funny asymmetry, though. When you lift, you call yourself “strong.” When you don’t, you call the weight “heavy.”

Has anyone ever told you that he was not capable enough to do the job? Yet how many times have you heard, “the job is too difficult!” The missing terms at the end of the sentence, the most important ones to avoid the victim mindset are “for me,” as in, “the job is too difficult for me.

Both explanations are (partially) true. The victim story gets you stuck in resignation and resentment. Someone is harming you and there’s nothing you can do. Life is not fair! The responsibility story empowers you. The ball is in your court. How are you going to play it?

Why are they stuck? My colleague Andrés found himself under the gun. While he waited for his garage door to open in Buenos Aires, two armed thieves assaulted him. “Get out of the car!” they threatened. He did. “Open the door of your house or we’ll shoot you!” they barked next. Andrés teaches people how to be response-able. Shaking, he calmly said, “My wife and daughter are in the house. I will give you my car, my money, anything you want. But I will not open the door.” The thieves took his car, his money, his watch, his phone and his laptop, but they didn´t take his life. I asked Andrés what he thought at that crucial moment. “If these guys were going to shoot me for not opening the door, God knows what they would have done to my wife and daughter inside. If they shot me in the street, they would have had to run. I could have died, but I would have protected my loved ones.”

The ability to respond does not mean the ability to succeed. Response-ability does not guarantee that you win, or even survive. It only reminds you that you can choose how you play and how you live.

Asleep with the Enemy We all want to be liked, as Dave Kerpen writes. The problem is that rather than following Dave’s counsel, many of us attempt to be liked through Idiot Compassion. We collude with the person stuck in the victim mindset. We blame, we moan and we groan.

“I can´t believe they did that to you!” “They shouldn’t have!” “You deserve better than that.” “They should fix it right now!”

These comments are soothing – like a drug – and equally deadly. They calm you down with sweet protection and rev you up with righteous indignation. But they don’t give you a way to address the situation. You may think the person making them is on your side, but your drug dealer is not your friend.

Fight Back! I am always tempted to collude with my clients. They are in pain and I want to be compassionate. However, I want to offer them wise compassion. For example, a call center manager whom I coached had a bad case of victimhood. His automatic response when his boss asked him about poor customer satisfaction was to blame his employees for poor manners, the finance department for small budgets, and the training department for lack of skills. I listened to his story, feeling for him. I expressed my sorrow and then asked him if he wanted my help.

When he agreed, I challenged him with these questions:

  • What is the challenge you are facing? (Instead of “What did they do to you?”)
  • How have you responded? (Instead of “What should they have done?”)
  • How has that worked out for you? (Instead of “How are they wrong?”)
  • What could you do now? (Instead of “What should they do now?”)
  • If you need help, whom could you ask? (Instead of “Who should fix it?”)
  • What can you learn from this? (Instead of “How should they be punished?”)

The pattern is simple: turn “they” and “should” into “I” and “could.” Stop blaming them, but don’t blame yourself either. Ability to respond does not mean guilt. It doesn’t matter who is responsible for the situation. What matters is that you see yourself as able to respond, improve and learn when confronting the situation.

What my client found is less important than what your colleagues can find when you ask them these questions with intelligent kindness.

A final word of caution: Remember that to earn the right to challenge someone out of victimhood, you must first listen, acknowledge his or her pain and ask permission to help. I have seen too many relationships broken by eager friends and spouses who interrupt with, “Oh c’mon! Quit being a victim and start thinking of what you can do to solve this problem!

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior
is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge,
while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
— Don Juan, Mexican shaman (quoted by Carlos Castaneda)

Question for readers: What is your favorite victim explanation?

Fred Kofman, PhD. Economics, is Professor of Leadership and Coaching at the Conscious Business Center of the University Francisco Marroquín and a faculty member of Lean In. He is the author of Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values.

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