safe, insightful talk alternative to family, friends, therapy, coaching

Posts tagged ‘thoughts’

Who Do You THINK You Are?

TED 2014

TED Art installation at the Vancouver Convention Centre: Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks. Photo: Ema Peter  See ‘Quotes” for video or article here.

I just attended some of the TED Talks* in Vancouver – ever watched them on youtube or TED.com? If not: get on it!!

TED stands for technology, entertainment, design, and it is a forum for some of the foremost thought-leaders in the world. Not necessarily the folks that you already know speak here- though there are a lot of familiar names, but rather a lot of everyday folks that are doing some cutting-edge research or taking against-the-grain risks to move their area of expertise or passion in a new or greater direction. (FYI 2014 did include well-knowns: Bill & Melinda Gates, Sting – ya, that Sting… TV personality Charlie Rose… shooting victim and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly… Eat, Pray, Love‘s Elizabeth Gilbert… Edward Snowden – if you don’t know who he is GET OFF THE COUCH!!) 

Jason Webley

“I was excited they booked me to perform, until I saw it was in the session called ‘Why?’…” @jasonwebley at #TED2014 ◦   “If we aren’t actively in love with our existence, what good is any of this other stuff? Are we conspiring to be part of the magic or just making more crap? I ask myself this everyday!”

Some TED talks, like the musician I loved, Jason Webley, are simply validating that there are different ways to live life – and that “success” is not about having everything figured out in a big plan and checking the next thing off the list: ebbing and flowing is a very real way of happy, healthy successful living!!  Each TED presenter has 18 minutes or less to share what they want to share with the world: TED does not censor. Webley, questioning being selected as a presenter, had one of the best messages that I personally heard in the TED Talks this year: that of the power of vulnerability.  Most of his 18 minutes was spent offering up two original songs, however, the few spoken words that he did share are the ones I remember most today (and I loved how he kept telling the galvanized crowd: quiet, quiet – I have limited time… shh shh..shhh… quiet – I gotta say something!!).  It was less about the actual words- although they were poignant, to the point and powerful, and more about the fact that he shared what he shared: essentially about following his heart, inherent gifts, and intuition without an anticipated/known outcome; and taking a breather when he felt disillusioned/lost/unclear about both the path he was on and the one to take next.  You could hear his commitment to his soul, however he acknowledged being completely plan-less and somewhat fearful about the future. A TED Talker!: one of the most prestigious and internationally celebrated, respected, admired, sought-after-for-inspiration person has no idea what he’s doing – – just like most of us, just like most of the other TED speakers on some realm. Clearly, he’s living consciously enough to be able to share his vulnerability on a global stage – and authenticity is a key definition of success in my books.  Jason: you fully delivered on a pivotal TED goal- you inspired me.

TED Talks IdeasThe attention and interest garnered from these presentations is often the catalyst for entire movements and/or major funding to get brilliant ideas moving forward: things as universally influential as facebook and google… to the brainscience and genetic profiling of autism… to a solo accordion performance in an Indian slum that brought people of different cultures, different languages, different political beliefs, locking arms, laughing, singing a song – together .

A lot of what I heard stimulated a whole new conversation in my mind about all of the ways and places our thoughts affect not just ourselves, but each other… and ultimately the world!!! Hugely inspiring… but not necessarily news to me – it’s basically what I’ve been Epigeneticspreaching throughout this little run of posts on thought: how our thoughts/beliefs, thus perspectives, thus habits, thus actions affect individuals, families, societies, nations – heck, even our species, so the new brainscience says! And it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that globally, things – they are a changin’!  Leaders in all realms of life – science, spirituality, education, and of course, Technology, Entertainment, Design are of a common mind generally: that societies have been too rigid in defining and creating systems based on limited definitions of success and valued contribution, where in fact, both of these things need to be malleable to include not only strengths and limitations of geography and economies, but also those of individuals in their domain of choice. “Happy people make the best of everything”!

Sir Ken Robinson, an advocate of more “self” centered education, spoke in Vancouver this year – he was recognized for holding the record number of “hits” for his past presentations at TED. In one of his talks, Sir Ken referenced why in fact the current education model, based heavily on academics, light on arts, is the way it is. Wholly paraphrasing: they didn’t need so much humanities skills during the Industrial Revolution, the era in which most children were finally attending school. Kids kid labourat that time needed to be learning maths and sciences and trades skills that helped them enter factory jobs, design or maintain machinery, and create systems-based business: families, societies, countries depended on this knowledge for decades. As economic centers changed though, school curriculums did not. As social class systems abated, the financial and prestige-based definitions of success permeating our schools have not; and kids have not felt free to explore their given talents and passions without the fear that they are sacrificing secure financial futures.  (Okay – I’m past paraphrasing, well into editorializing!!)  In our recent climate, it’s been all about technology… slowly morphing now though to include philosophy, psychology, spirituality, arts – because we are so burned out from focusing on industry and technology that our bodies, minds and worlds are simply not functioning practically! The social sciences and arts- not law degrees, are bringing us back our sanity, health, and clear vision to make more balanced and wise choices! Finally we’re recognizing that those of us with skills, talents, passions outside of the economic “flavour du jour” add essential value to life. You – with the law degree: you need us!

Sir Ken Robinson

I said I’d do a few more posts on “thought” before tacking to a new subject… but man did this conference provoke that there’s a lot more cool crap I could cover – and will, at some point! This week’s featured article continues with DIY ideas on mastering your thoughts… another step to becoming my definition of TED: totally engaged dude [dudette]!

NextHow To Use Thoughts That Hold You Back (page 2)
Check out Quotes Archive 2014  (about half way down!) for Sir Ken’s TED Talk.

Advertisements

Are We Over Thinking

I'm so over thinking.Alrighty now, lets do a little summary of some of the things we’ve been exploring about “thoughts”:

~ We are not our thoughts. We are the awareness.

~ Our thoughts are not the truth – just thoughts. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral.

~ Thoughts can sit dormant in our subconscious and spring to life at any time, without any warning- and may in fact feel like a brand new concept that we might even think we’ve never thought before.

~ Our brains and bodies can’t tell if a thought is based on real-time activity, subconscious memory… or pure imagination.

~ Every single thought you have can be assessed in terms of whether it strengthens or weakens you.

~ A single negative thought can change the course of your life.
So can a single positive thought.

~ Change your thoughts, change your life.

Crikey – who’s in control here?!! It sounds like I have power, I can change my thinking and therefore myself; and then it sounds like thoughts can divebomb me at any time and my brain and body might respond with behaviour patterns that I created years ago!?! Huh – I don’t get it: what do I need to know or do to manage my thoughts to live the life I want??

Examine the thought itself - not the content.I guess we’re not quite over thinking yet! So far, I think the biggest message around this subject is awareness. When you catch a thought or thought pattern that you know or suspect is not serving your best interest, you can stop and take a look at the thought itself – not just the content of the thought. For that matter, whenever you are feeling stressed, upset, fearful, unsettled, confused: it’s a pretty good clue that your thoughts might not be serving you. Thoughts that serve you feel safe, secure, peaceful – even if they’re negatively manifested, for example, yelling intuitively at a stranger invading your personal space: you may not know if a stranger is danger, however, your instincts know what you need to feel safe, and it’s quite natural and okay to enact those responses. (You can always soften the blow after the fact should you feel compelled!) Likewise, foundationless or forced Pollyanna thinking could hint at denial or limiting beliefs, which will also feel unsettled or unsafe.

Righty then: you’ve busted your thoughts for making you feel unsettled… stuck on repeat… going nowhere good. Now what? Well, that’s a very big discussion… ranging from simple thought-stopping tools and techniques right on through to in-depth cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of my favorite simple tactics for understanding the sabotaging nature of thoughts and thus managing them (learned first from a therapist then reinforced by good ol’ Dr. Phil) is: follow the thought right through to the end. Basically, identify if a thought is true or false. Take the common stressful thought: I hate my job. This one could give tornados a run for their money! Here we go:

Thoughts of the dread of having to get yourself out of bed and go into work even one more day spinning and spinning, slowly picking up whatever thought debris is in its path: nasty bosses, horrible commutes, the raise you didn’t get, how tired you are when you get home, guilt at not being home for the kids, how bored and unfulfilled you feel…
A little momentum and: what can I do, I can’t quit, I’m unappreciated, I’ll never make enough money, is this all there is for me, will I ever find my purpose, can I ever find a job that I’ll like, I don’t know what to do, I’m stuck, what do I do, I can’t talk to my boss… (and on to REPEAT:) he’s nasty, my commute sucks……..

That’s a lot of clutter for one little thought: and each acquisition of debris comes with it’s own little storm! That’s adrenal suicide, and thought overload.  Here’s the same thought, following it through to the end:

I hate my job – I dread going in to work everyday.

So, what if you quit your job.
Well… I need to make money.

So, what if you need to make money.
Well… then I’d have to find another job.thoughts aware3

So, what if you have to find another job.
Well… it will be hard, I hate job searching!

So, what if you hate job-searching.
Well… I need to make money, I’d just have to do it.

So, what if you just have to do it.
Well… I’d have to get some help.

So… what if you have to get help.
Well… I don’t know where to look.

So… what if you don’t know where to look.
Well… I could google or ask people.

So, what if you have to google or ask people.
Well… I’m sure I would find some help.

So… we can conclude: you’ve identified that you have help (if not some really good friends!) to find a new job that you don’t hate and make the money you need?? Next.

Yay! You now have positive thoughts, a basis for an action plan to a desired outcome, happy chemicals flowing, increasing energy, a sense of safety knowing that you are in control – and one less worry.  You get it: follow the thoughts Positive thoughts positive life.through and at the end of the day, you’re not dead. I refer to it as free-floating thought: thoughts that are going nowhere because you haven’t followed them through to the end to see if you end up dead. Free-floating thoughts take up ENORMOUS head-space and energy and the sooner you nip them in the bud, the sooner you will take away their power by understanding that the anxiety and falsehoods of your imaginings are always worse than actual facts/reality. Following thoughts through will dead-end them with some kind of answer – generally a positive one, because you won’t stop the “so what if’s” until you’re somewhat happy!!

My other most favorite simple tool is talking to my thoughts – giving “thoughts” an identity. When I feel uneasy, anxious or unfocused, I stop and see what’s going on with my thoughts at the time: where are they leading, are they based on anything real or useful?  Giving them a role separate from “me” gives a sense of control: I can take a step back and realize that thoughts are simply popping out randomly from my collective memory – “I” am not necessarily choosing relative or productive thoughts. It helps me see thoughts as simply a tool the body uses to offer up potential ideas for something that has yet to solidify a pathway to a peaceful action/feeling, or duh, I would have taken it without all of these lingering thoughts! As stated, if I feel dis-ease, my thoughts are not useful, so I might have a conversation with them that goes something like this:

Caught you again you sneaky little thoughts: you’re really not helping me much right now!!
I appreciate that you conjured yourselves up to let me know that there’s a better way of creating what I want – so you can go away now!! No, really – you can go now: I’ll clear my mind or choose affirmations or
Manage your thoughtsthoughts that are more empowering and create the right kind of chemicals in my body to allow me to better move forward in a way and in a direction that is healthier and more peaceful for me – so you can go. Thanks again for making me check in with myself – I’m good: beat it! 

Yes, I actually do speak to my thoughts like that – though often I can get away with a good “scram”! It’s taken some practice to be able to firmly and concisely tell my thoughts that their current employment is over, and stop them trying to bargain their way back in; and really, what that’s about has nothing to do with vocabulary and everything to do with gaining confidence that I really do have power over my thoughts. I can now catch my thoughts quickly, laugh and have fun busting the little guys – and can pretty much discipline misbehaving thoughts in one good talking-to! This is totally based on the “change your thoughts” theory of Wayne Dyer;  and giving thought a personality separate from me nurtures the Eckhart Tolle thought vs. ego ideology.  Keep in mind, this is not about simply denying all things negative, it’s about choosing a route to create the best likelihood that you can move in your desired direction, by changing brain and biochemical responses that enable you to capitalize on what your body has to offer to do so: primarily neurotransmitters and hormones that calm you and support you to both feel better and take productive action.  It’s amazing how well thought-talk works to raise your consciousness and get you in a positive frame of mind and body, once you get the hang of it! (I also talk to my aches and ailments!) Anyway, what do those rampant, churning, directionless, idiotically repeating, cortisol-producing, brain-path hijacking, negative thoughts do for you – absolutely nothing! EXCEPT: remind you, you have power!!

Soft dandelion flowers macro border over sky blue backgroundI’ll do a few more posts on managing thought before I move on to another topic: rest assured, we will be revisiting this subject often! “Thought-stopping” has many permeations and techniques, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Even the simple tools above take time and practice: do not despair (and they payoff in spades)! Negative thoughts will always be a part of human behaviour. I’m just a firm believer that being raised with a solid sense of self, and a lack of a need for comparison regarding self-worth or success, will take a lot of the ammo away from our minds. Identifying thoughts and their power, and maneuvering them favourably, should be second-nature.  Where we stand now though, we could ask: can manipulating your own thoughts have a down-side? I love the thousands of studies that accompany all of this new research on mind/brain/body: you can’t imagine how far rats and fMRI’s have gotten us recently!  For your amusement, here’s some nice light research about thought suppression and its effect re: forbidden romance, your golf swing, and…Basil Fawlty?  Sans rats!

Next: 8 Ironic Effects of Thought Suppression (page 2)

Olympic-Size Thought Pool

Canadian PrideWhy do we get such a visceral, choked up sensation watching the athletes of the Olympic Games- you know you do!!

It feels so personal somehow… but truthfully, I don’t get that emotional for my own successes for Pete’s sake!? (hmm… good blog subject!)  Those high-level competitors have nerves of steel though, don’t they: all those hopes, all that pressure – liquid prideand whole countries looking at them to bring “us” home the gold! Go us!!

We hear more these days about the element of “mental preparation” in sport, but do we truly grasp what that’s really about? High-level sport is a glaring demonstration of the impact of “thought” in our lives. If world-class athletes can’t manage their thoughts, the path to gold can’t even be travelled.

In the weeks leading up to the 2014 Olympic games, the W Network had a seven episode presentation: “Tessa & Scott”, an intimate look at the two-time world champion Canadian ice-dance team that won both the top prize and our hearts  at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. The bevy of highly specialized coaches we meet throughout this reality series includes the best sport/life coaches in the world, ensuring this prized duo has both cutting-edge info and tried-and-true techniques to manage the stress and pressure that accompanies their competitive lives. Listening to athletes being interviewed, it seems a given that they spend time conditioning their minds.Tessa & Scott

Focus on the now.

Visualize your path, your outcome... feel the feelings that you want to feel from this experience.

Trust your gift and your training.

Acknowledge you’ve BEATEN the stress-monster before… it’s only a figment of your thoughts – and you’ll beat it again – always.

Perform for yourself: have fun!

I’m curious as to how transferrable these techniques have been in these athletes’ everyday-lives: do they adapt these skills and affirmations permanently, or are they attached more compartmentally to their sports performance?

Tessa Virtue

Not good enough. Really?

Tessa and Scott gave us some insight into that question, providing a fabulous all-access pass to the battle of stress and fear demons on and off the ice.  Thank you- especially Tessa, for letting us witness that even with the benefit of expert mental health coaching, thoughts can be tough beasts to tame.

Tessa: not good enough

Really?

Tessa is talented, beautiful, bright, charismatic, and on-track to comfortably medal at this next milestone event.  Still, she struggles with enormous self-doubt: she vocalizes that she’s “not good enough” – and not only referring to her craft. Throughout the show, Tessa spins insecurities and often stops and consciously employs thought-control techniques (sometimes to little effect).  Scott is seen working hard to master switching focus between his competition-life and home-life with the absoluteness required for his sport: seduced by beliefs that one aspect or the other must be suffering. As a team, they are both hugely challenged daily to keep healthy thoughts forefront: they share a coach and a practice rink with their main rivals, Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White, who recently stole the world champion gold from our Canuck sweeties – man, that’s gotta be torture, eh!

Seriously though, why???  Let’s break this scenario down a little:

~You see peers challenging themselves, thriving:  isn’t that good… aren’t you inspired… don’t your thoughts immediately burst to “I just can’t wait to get out and live my dream too- just like them“?

~You love what you do, you’ve created something that you happily spend time mastering – and you’re good, damn it!

~Your passion, your gift delivers health, self-expression, a livelihood, fulfillment.

Where on earth does a defeating thought even fit in here?

I can only imagine where sport might be if understanding our thoughts and pursuing our desires for the pure love and challenge of it – not to define a hierarchy, was inherently nurtured from birth. Not so sure what the competition part would look like, but I believe the talent would be infinitely higher – and athletes infinitely more joyful!  It’s my speculation (based on societal norms) that the “mind-management” tools that many professional athletes recite are learned with their sport, and not necessarily the result of premium conditioning as infants and toddlers (the behaviourally impactful years).  It’s likely then, that they’ll require further psychological support to apply some of the great tools they’ve learned in this sequestered piece of their lives more organically into the other facets of their post-competition lives.  Ever wonder why we have so many messed-up former sports heroes??

So the point here… again…  thoughts influences the tone of our lives and the pathways to our achievements; testament… again… that the earlier we can own our uniqueness and gifts, irrelevant of others, and understand and master thought, the more automatic the tools kick in, the faster we re-route positively, and the less stress and more joy we will feel.

Last post, Wayne Dyer took center-stage in thought-provoking, this time ’round, one of my top five all-time masters of perspective, Robert Holden, ties together some of these ideas of thought-management for the athlete and spectator alike.

Can a Single Thought
really make that much difference?

inner dialogueThey estimate that you speak to yourself at a conservative average of 50 words a minute, 3,000 words an hour. If you listen to your inner dialogue, you will notice an assortment of observations, judgments, commentary, beliefs, doubts, hopes, fears, anxieties, chatter, and general nonsense.

Fortunately, it takes only one great thought—one inspired piece of inner dialogue—to create some success.

Next: Is Your Self-Talk Helping … or Hurting You? (page 2)

School of Thought: Pre-K

Man, I just re-read that article on thought in my last blog and it was pretty intense. Some good basic info… but just enough abstract stuff to lose me at times: you?? I’ll try to break future articles down into more manageable bites! (Although my warning stands: this topic of “thought” is some thought-provoking stuff!!  Just take in what resonates for you right now!)

Thinking CapI guess one of the big concepts around “thought” that we don’t learn in kindergarten is: WE are not our thoughts.
Eckhart Tolle for kindergarteners: hmmmm?! 
Without the benefit of any teachings on this concept, there’s a general assumption that the voice that we hear in our heads is a private “Mini-Me”: sitting in there and directing our lives through silent conversation so as not to have to share everything with everybody until we darn well choose to.  Mini-Me takes everything in, filters it, edits it and then instigates action that represents who we are and how we want to live.  Not so fast:  that little rogue also makes stuff up!! He doesn’t default all input through our “values” sieve so that only the good, healthy stuff gets through to create our outcomes; he throws his two cents into the mix – whether reasonable or not!

Lost? Let’s see if we can paint a picture:

You’re a university student trying to finish a term paper by tomorrow. Your current dream is to become an engineer; you’ve worked hard to get to this final semester with decent grades and this paper is important. You’ve set your good intention and you’re gonna work your a** off all night – get this done and do it right!!! 

But wait for it — here it comes… a THOUGHT: “Hey, let’s go to the pub for one drink”.  Now if YOU were your thoughts you’d put that idea right through the “likely-to-produce-good-results vs. likely-NOT-to-produce-good-results” funnel, which is directly connected to your values sieve and the outcome would most definitely be: you WOULD NOT be going to the pub tonight.

Mini-Me, however, reshapes this whole concept: this time, driven by a scent that just wafted intothoughts mini me your dorm room, subconsciously reminding you of that “hotness” that you’ve been crushing on all year and the high likelihood that they’ll be in the pub!  All of a sudden: there’s room for a change of plans in tonight’s professedly rock-solid schedule! Even though YOU are pretty clear on your current direction and priorities, YOUR THOUGHTS can hijack the situation- without you even being conscious of it (i.e. that sneaky smell).  Mini-Me presents with something resembling a reasonable idea worthy of consideration, yet… “where did that come from”?! You weren’t even slightly contemplating anything but homework tonight!!  That rascal!

It’s actually quite a simplistic fact when you think about it: how could we be our thoughts when they are so malleable and can be so easily manipulated: can you say flakey much??  And if some of our thoughts are sub-conscious, then reason says: we can’t possibly know ourselves very well – and yet it is entirely possible to know yourself inside-out!

This article from Inner Frontier introduces us to “automatic thought” (now also being considered amongst the idea of “cell memory” in some of the new neuroscience research). It brings awareness of our unmanaged and “mindless” habits of thought; and gives a little peace of mind that our learning curve around changing our thoughts and behaviours come by us honestly! Whew!

Read More: The Value – or Overvalue of Thinking (page 2)

My Latest Train(wreck) of Thought

thoughts fire lg

YOU ARE NOT
YOUR THOUGHT:
you are the awareness.”

“Being must be felt.
It can’t be thought.”

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”
–  all quotes, Eckhart Tolle

This is my thought on drugs!

So. Hmm. A lot of our life is just plain ol’ fabricated according to my previous post: societal rules, behaviour patterns, beliefs. The most fun – by far, to try and wrap your head around though is… THOUGHT. Yup – thoughts are all made up too.

Jeez: how are we suppose to achieve or live in this desired and ultimate CONSCIOUSNESS… MINDFULNESS… and uncomplicated REALITY with so much made-up stuff??

Well… some of it is there theoretically to support our ability to live mindfully, such as societal laws of freedom and protection; but rigid interpretations and lack of flexibility and timeliness to tweak or replace outdated systems have gotten us a little stuck in our ways – not to mention attaching useless and immobilizing judgments and stigmas to any so-called “outliers”.  A lot of what inhibits us from living more peaceful, simple and joyful lives requires a stripped-bare, back-to-basics, complete overhaul: our knowledge and scientific evidence pertaining to mind/body/brain and our more open-minded philosophies of live-and-let-live have jettisoned us far past what much of our current societal systems support.

I’ll fix society later… in the meantime, lets think about thought. It’s a brain thing, right: our minds produce our thoughts and our brains control our minds? Not that simple – and also, not really known yet! You won’t BELIEVE the volume of evidence-based neuroscience research that has come out in the past ten or so years – predominantly due to MRI and other technological tools that had no previous ethical predecessors (to test babies brains for example). We’re now able to see – and measure,  how thoughts influence our bodies and thus our actions and outcomes. We can watch chemicals being produced and parts of the brain being triggered via all of those cool colour and light shows on computers that are hooked up to our heads (and other parts, depending on the study).  With all of these advancements however, there is still no real, definitive conclusion to tell us what thought is.

Change your thoughts.What we do know, is that thought can be changed, manipulated – stopped even, and that means that we have a scary amount of control over things that we previously “thought”… happen autonomically!! Thoughts can be tucked away in our subconscious – ready for action spontaneously; and our brains and bodies can’t tell if a thought is based on real-time activity, subconscious memory… or pure imagination.  Current thinking by some world-famous thought-leaders says that thoughts are not even thought of as being a natural part of being: being is the natural part of being.

Yaaa… this is gonna be a fun subject: confusing – but enlightening! I’ll throw a few different angles at you over the next few weeks as food for thought – or being?? Eckhart Tolle of course is the current king of messing with our thoughts; and while his philosophy is amazing reading – and a very accurate concept in my world – it can be a hard go if you’re new to this subject matter (it does click-in naturally when you’re in the right headspace to hear it – like a lot of philosophical or self-development concepts!). Lets start with some other simple thought-provoking info though, to ease us in: today we’ll look at an article on where thoughts physiologically originate, and a theory of the stages of thought from thinktank Galamind. Don’t worry, it’s pretty much in LAYMAN’S terms!! If you’re ready for Eckhart, head to “Quotes to Query” for a video, and of course, his infamous books are in the “Books To Provoke” list.

Next: Where Do Our Thoughts Originate? (page 2)

Why Do We Mess With Perfect?

us3_say_what3

In the comparison game, your biggest archenemy, your greatest source of envy, competition and judgement is without question: YOU. You constantly compare yourself to you.

Now hold on a minute: didn’t we just decide a few posts ago that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, rather, the healthy behaviour is to measure ourselves against our own measuring stick?  Ya,here it is:

 

Compare me to me.

Well, seems like there might be a catch in that plan too! It’s the right concept, however the starting point of that measuring stick may need to shift, and in fact, remain fluid.

Now that doesn’t seem right?? How can I measure against something that doesn’t remain static – it can’t  possibly give me any realistic accuracy for comparison!?!

Bingo! Everything is made up folks! Starting points, end points, what is better, what is worse… it’s all been made up.  Some things are somewhat more factual than other things e.g. the sun will rise again — or willllll it… do we really know it is rising… isn’t that just the theory-du-jour until some new discovery gives us another option?  Okay, okay, we’ll leave Philosophy 101 for another day – back to human behaviour: some things are adapted more universally in an effort to make societies collaborative and function cohesively; things such as laws, policies, school systems. We don’t need to look too far to see how malleable those things are though: I live in BC Canada virtually on the Washington state border, and if my legally-married-here gay friend put one tippy toe on the south side, it would constitute societal disaster in that demographics’ decree. Our two societies grew up virtually identically, yet evidently, a fence in a field can dictate self-worth.

It reminds me of the seemingly innocuous Sunday roast yarn:
Mom makes the best roast beef in town. Every Sunday since forever you’ve watched her skillfully prepare her prime cut: trimming both raw ends off, lovingly Mom's the best cooksalting it, ladling the juices over the brown beauty every 30 minutes as it cooks to mouth-watering perfection – everyone says so. One ordinary childhood day, you go to your neighbour Steve’s house for dinner and you watch his mom plunk the familiar rosy beast raw into the pan, throw it in the oven at 375° and then tell you kids to have your hands washed by 5.
Ew yuck! There’s NO WAY you’re sticking around for dinner – that’s just plain wrong how she’s cooking that beef!! That’s it, these folks are officially not good cooks and over time, relegated as weird inferior people generally; and you masterfully avoided Steve like the plague for fear of being invited to dinner again. The measuring stick had been firmly planted; and eons later when you invited your Mom and Grams to Sunday dinner in your own home, you proudly began the well-practiced routine of cutting and salting, ladle at the ready. Grams pipes up ” why are you spiking all our blood pressure with that dang salt – and whaddaya rich or something lopping off the ends of yur roast like that, geez, must be nice!” With patronizing glances between you and Mom, you reply in a diplomatic: “remember Grams, that’s the way a good roast is made – just the same as you did it for Mom when she was little, and how she did it for us when we were little!”Burn the Beer
“Ya – til you dang kids moved out and I got a new pan and a new oven! That dang pan was never big enough for those dang roasts, and the dog needed feeding anyhow. And salt was the only way I’d have any chance of gravy drippins the way that dang oven kept overheatin! All’s you need to do to cook a roast is throw the dang thing in the oven and pour me a glass of wine!!”

Wowzer wow wow! Fancy that. One ill-conceived idea of right and wrong set your guide for comparison completely arbitrarily. Hmmm. Wonder what the spinoff of lost opportunities or re-directs might be in any one simple conclusion we draw. At the very least here, you might have scored a few more freebie dinners with the neighbours whatchamacallems  – oh ya, the Jobs.

Our versions of good- bad, right- wrong, strong- weak, successful- loser are very much sculpted by where we grew up, who we grew up with, what we were taught – and of course in which era we grew up in. Sprinkle all of this with a little bit of our own personal biology, disposition, and interpretations of what we experience and you have a pretty fickle foundation in which to anchor any measuring stick. And now I’m really gonna mess with you: some of these rules, attitudes, behaviours, conclusions whatever we call them are completely unconscious: we file our interpretation in a nice little internal hiding spot with the autopilot switch on.  We have no idea that some of our behaviours are actually choices, they are so embedded – just so… the way it is.  Not even a notion to ask Grams about.

Now as a part of normal growth and maturity, of course, we diligently take stock of our lives at sensible intervals, checking in with the standard questions:

  • what are my goals and dreams now, what do I want to do to advance them;
  • who is in my life to support me, where am I giving;
  • is this society I’m in one that I believe in and that is best for my goals;
  • what are my philosophical and spiritual beliefs now, do I need to see more of the world to find a better fit for me…

Whaa-huh? Come on – you do this, don’t you, every few months, years at least?? I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t on any of the tests I took in school; and in my family, my circle of friends, you just jumped on the one-size-fits most conveyer belt and you were off . Re-evaluate life? Nope, definitely not on the assigned reading list.

Context is the basis for everything and context is fluid. Some people were nurtured with this ideal, some have it inherently. For all though, at any point in time we can adjust, change, toss or add any rule or measuring stick you want. That may mean seeking new people, jobs, environments, societies etc. that work with your new definitions – and there is a reality factor attached to what you can anticipate with your choice, but it is that, a choice.

More permeations of our core beliefs, inner critic, thoughts and choices to come….. MUCH more really!  Here’s a perspective from Janet Robinson-Gillmore’s blog expanding on “context” from family behaviour:

And p.s. in my dictionary there is “perfect” – no need to politically-correcticize it with synonyms intimating that nothing is perfect and imperfect is perfectly perfect. My dictionary might be updated hourly, but it’s MY dictionary. Go get your own.

Read More: The Undoing of Being (page 2)

Could You Be a Scarcity Model?

 scarcity2

“The real reason that you find it necessary to compare yourself to others, is that you’ve fallen under the spell that says: good things are always scarce.”

I came across this statement when I was exploring the psychology of why we feel the need to compare ourselves and our situations in order to assess self-value. It’s referred to, in a behavioural sense, as “the scarcity model”, and at its centre is the perception that unless you “have” – and stockpiled, somehow you won’t survive.

Hmmm… It’s an interesting concept, born presumably from our oldest reptilian brain remnant, the amygdala, originally facilitating our escape from dinosaurs or tigers.  The functioning of the amygdala has most recently been accused of being somewhat “dysfunctional” in it’s fight-or-flight talents, not having adjusted yet to what this means in civilization today, and triggering limitless hormones and neurotransmitters at every stressor – real or imagined. It might make sense then, this connection to being less than, and therefore, requiring more.

Never run out.

Ahhh, all is well!

I can definitely think of examples where I have felt the need to “stock up” – never knowing when the bottom might fall out: be it t.p. when my money is low, or seeking some validation when my spirit is low. I suppose I’ve compared things a little: I’m sure my friend so-and-so would never be so irresponsible as to run out of t.p. (i.e. funds to buy it); my friend what’s-his-face must be totally secure owning his own business, nice house, dining out whenever, wherever – but thankfully, those thoughts are few and far between! I’m so much happier and at peace since I’ve established a definition of success that works for me: and I am successful!  I no longer have a need to compare my life to others, and don’t give these comparisons a second more credibility than acknowledging that they are imagined and meritless thoughts: I have a nice little chuckle at their persistency to sneak back into my consciousness, and then boot their butts back into oblivion where they belong! I know now that everyone has their own challenges relative to their own definitions of success; some completely aware of this and doing their own butt-kicking of those momentary doubts; but all too many, completely oblivious to what brings them fulfillment, and stuck in deep-seeded comparison games to validate that they are really happy!

One of my fave speakers and behavioural psychologists, Brene Brown, has written about “scarcity” in two of her books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, a relevant quote from the latter being:

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

In an interview about The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown elaborates:

These are anxious and fearful times, and everywhere we hear the lexicon of scarcity. We are not rich, thin or beautiful enough; we are not safe, perfect or powerful enough, and ordinary lives are completely dismissed. But success and high achievement will not gratify us when our self-worth is tied to the mindset of scarcity. We think the opposite of scarcity is abundance — more time, more money — when really the opposite of scarcity is “enough.” Just enough.

Another duo, behavioural economist Sendhil Mullainathan and the cognitive psychologist Eldar Shafir have written a whole book on the feeling of scarcity, brilliantly comparing it to the realities of scarcity in purely political or economic terms – a very interesting read!

Scarcity mindset.

So what are we really talking about – what is the “scarcity model”?  To tippy-toe into the concept, here are excerpts from a few recent articles I’ve come across, and then a link to a more detailed article on the Mullainathan/Shafir book.

splat

It’s Time To Give Up The Scarcity Model

The scarcity model says that if the person that you’re comparing yourself to is (arguably) more attractive than you, then that person has grabbed up too much of that thing called attractive and now there’s less for you. Same thing goes for

Next: Comparison Battle – More on the Scarcity Model (page 2)

Amazing vs. Insanity. Your Choice.

Here’s a challenge for you:
Go outside and find the best possible stick.

Why aren’t you going? Perhaps because the request is ridiculous. What do I mean by “the best possible stick”? For doing what? Digging? Toasting marshmallows? Poking a weasel? A stick that’s ideal for one purpose might be useless for another. And that is why the “comparing mind” is:

insane green2

If your energy and time is spent just being a little bit better than the next person, you miss out on getting to be better for you.  Being better than someone else keeps the bar low and keeps you from exploring the depths of what you can be:

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW HOW AMAZING YOU CAN BE!

Last week we talked about fruit salad and not comparing the sweet vs. the tart, the colourful vs. the bland: just enjoy how every different juicy morsel brings a new surprise in every single bite, and contributes something special to the overall tasty satisfaction. Life can be sweet or tart; you may be colourful or bland: together, your inherent nature and the nurture of your thoughts will drive your future – with a few choice choices from you.

Martha Beck has a few choice words for you; and I like what blogger Tera Warner has to say:

Who cares what they say about the things you should do or say and how you should live your life?!  Be inspired by the lives of others, but do not follow their path and pretend it’s your own. The most valuable be you SUPERDOGthing you have is not your health, it’s not your time, it’s not your purse, your car, your fancy pants designer jeans or even your friends.

It is your self-determinism – your ability to choose the path you take in life, make your own decisions and stand for the things that you believe in. In a world where we’ve been fed a deep-fried, glitter-coated version of what Life should be, how it should work, and told to whom we should defer our power, creativity and authentic expression, it takes some serious [insert male/female sex organs here] to think for yourself! Question what you hear and stand in your truth, no matter how lonely it feels to do so sometimes!

Are You an Apple, Orange or… Bananas?

If you can’t stop comparing yourself to others, you’ve got a case of what Asian philosophers call “monkey mind”, and, honey, it will only drive you bananas.
adapted from article by Martha Beck

Our ability to rank-order things is invaluable in making choices and setting priorities. But problems arise when comparing mind is the only mode of perception we access. Every gathering, conversation, or friendship becomes a stressful contest: Will I “win” in this situation, or will someone else turn out to be prettier, smarter, richer, thinner…in a word, better?

This way of thinking is absurd, because outside the realm of human perception, the concept of better is MEANINGLESS!  This makes comparing mind a setup for failure. Even if you can be the world’s best at one thing, you’ll be the world’s worst at something else, case in point:

Supermodels make pathetic sumo wrestlers.

A brilliant orator who speaks only one language
sounds like a babbling fool in another.

If you spent your life mastering all languages, you might still suck at engineering, croquet, watercolor, etc. Since comparing mind hates being less than best at anything, you lose. Always.

Comparing is insane.It seems that no matter where you are on the planet, the competitive madness was bred into your cells and reinforced in countless social interactions. But you can learn to watch for comparing mind or “monkey mind” to appear, and to notice when it starts tainting your life. Like a virus, it generally sneaks up on you unseen; what you’ll observe are its symptoms. Here are some telltale diagnostics:

Next: Is Your Mind Going Ape? (page 2)

How Do YOU Measure Up?

compare orange

Well, first question is: How do you measure measuring up?

Second question: Why?

There are indeed very valid reasons for “measuring” ourselves in life. A look at human or societal  “norms” is quite useful in setting personal ambitions; however, the dominant measuring standard should be our own selves – and according to our own goals.

We have evolved, sadly, into a society of comparison for ego’s sake and entirely fabricated definitions of “status”; and it is undoubtedly my biggest life pet peeve. We’re born unique and happy – and then very quickly, we are pitted against each other. The how is fairly simple to dissect, and with motivation and time (lots of time!), I have faith in a course-correct; but the WHY? Seriously: WHY???

“To love is to stop comparing.” Bernard Grasset

How to shift this useless and loveless comparison nonsense? One step at a time, starting with you. Here’s some food for thought:

The Losing Game

By Sonya Derian

Comparison: joy thief.

Take a moment to think of a time when you compared yourself to another person, where you were the one on the LOSING side; maybe you were comparing yourself physically, comparing intellects, speaking ability – whatever.

Think of that moment, and take a minute to notice how it feels in your body. It doesn’t feel very good right?

Now, take a moment to think of a time where you compared yourself to someone else, and you came out on TOP; how does that feel in your body?

Maybe it feels a little better… or maybe not at all. That’s because viewing life as a competition, where you have to constantly be better at whatever — how you look, how you parent, how you write — doesn’t feel very good.

In essence, comparing yourself to others is ALWAYS a losing game.

We all do it – or have done it, at some point in our lives: we compare ourselves to others and gauge where we are based on what we observe them to be doing.

If this was simply an observation, that would be one thing, but in comparing ourselves to others, we often end up judging ourselves: and there’s no worse judge!

If you have ever noticed, it doesn’t matter how many people are on your side, cheering you on: if you can’t get on your own side, you never get past “go”.

The thing about comparison is that there is never a win. How often do we compare ourselves with someone less fortunate than us and consider ourselves blessed? More often, we compare ourselves with someone who we perceive as being, having or doing more: and this just leaves us coming up short.

compare gates

But our minds do want to quantify; our minds want to rank and file and organize information. Our mind wants to know where we fit into the scheme of things: we need to give it something to do. So, instead of training it to stop comparing altogether, why not simply re-direct the comparison to a past and a present self—and keep the comparison within?

We are always becoming more. Who you are today is a result of the decisions you made yesterday. We are always in a state of creation. We decide – and then we decide again; and the direction is always toward expansion. It is our human nature to expand.

compare to no one

So, when you catch yourself comparing yourself to another: stop for a moment and re-direct the thought. Instead of submitting to the temptation to compare yourself to someone else, ask yourself a few questions, instead:

Next: Q’s to Ask Yourself (page 2)

Who’s The Boss? Mind, Body or…

Lissa Rankin, M.D. has quickly become one of my favorite people to listen to in the area of integrative medicine, particularly as it relates to the state of our minds and thinking. She has a relatable attitude and light-hearted delivery of “new medicine” info that appeases both the impassioned and “evidence-based”  sides of my learning.

A physician, author, speaker, artist, and founder of the online health and wellness community, OwningPink.com, Lissa was discouraged by our broken health-care system; and fueled by a passion to determine what really makes people healthy and what really predisposes them to illness, her research led her to discover that patients have self-healing powers beyond our wildest imaginings, and science proves it. She took this new perspective and dug into the medical literature to study how doctors might better care for patients.  She is a leader encouraging the health-care industry to embrace and facilitate, rather than resist, collaboration reconnecting health care and spirituality, and empowering patients to tap into the mind’s power to heal the body.

For you skeptics and newbies to the idea of integrative medicine, Lissa  shares her scientific findings in her book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself.

Mind…Body…
Friends or Foe?

mind

by Lissa Rankin, MD

What if… I told you that caring for your body is the least important part of your health . . . that for you to be truly vital, other factors are more important?

What if… the key to health isn’t just eating a nutritious diet, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy weight, getting eight hours of sleep, taking your vitamins, balancing your hormones, or seeing your doctor for regular checkups?

Certainly, these are all important, even critical, factors to optimizing your health. But what if something else is even more important?

What if you have the power to heal your body
just by changing how your mind thinks and feels?

I know it sounds radical, especially coming from a doctor. Trust me, I was just as skeptical when I first discovered the scientific research suggesting that this might be true. Surely, I thought, the health of the human body isn’t as simple as thinking ourselves well or worrying ourselves sick.

Or is it?

A few years ago, after 12 years of conventional medical education and 8 years of clinical practice, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated into the dogmatic principles of evidence-based medicine, which I worshipped like the Bible. I refused to trust anything I couldn’t prove with a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Plus, having been raised by my father, a very conventional physician who made fun of anything “New Age,” I was as hard-nosed, closed-minded, and cynical as they come.

doc old

The medicine I had been trained to practice didn’t support the idea that you can think yourself well or make yourself sick with the power of your thoughts and emotions. Sure, my medical-school professors diagnosed some illnesses that lacked biochemical explanations as “all in the patient’s head,” but those patients were promptly and quietly referred to psychiatrists, while eyes were rolled and heads were shook.

It’s no wonder the notion that the mind might have the power to heal the body would be threatening to many mainstream doctors. After all, we spend a decade learning the tools that supposedly give us mastery over other people’s bodies. We want to believe that the time, money, and energy we’ve put into becoming doctors isn’t wasted. We’re professionally and emotionally invested in the idea that if something breaks down physically, you must seek our expertise. As doctors, we like to believe we know your body better than you do. The whole medical establishment is based on such a notion.

Most people are happy to function within this paradigm. The alternative—that you have more power to heal your own body than you’ve ever imagined—lobs the responsibility for health back into your court, and many people feel like that’s just too much responsibility. It’s much easier to hand over your power and hope someone smarter, wiser, and more experienced can “fix” you.

So true!

But what if…
we’ve got it all wrong?

What if…
by denying the fact that the body is naturally wired to heal itself and the mind operates this self-healing system, we’re actually sabotaging ourselves?

As physicians, things inevitably happen on our watch that science simply can’t explain. Even the most closed-minded doctors witness patients who get well when, by every scientific rationale, they shouldn’t. When we witness such things, we can’t help questioning everything we hold dear in modern medicine. We start to wonder if there is something more mystical at play.

Doctors don’t usually discuss this possibility in front of patients, but they do whisper about it in the doctors’ lounges of hospitals and inside conference rooms at Ivy League universities. If you’re curious and you pay attention—like I do—you hear stories, stories that blow your mind.

You hear people whispering about the woman whose cancer shrank away to nothingness during radiation. Only afterward did the doctors discover that the radiation machine was busted. She hadn’t actually received one lick of radiation, but she believed she had. So did her doctors.

miracle energy

They talk about the man who had a heart attack who refused heart surgery only to have his “incurably” blocked coronary arteries open up after changing his diet, beginning an exercise program, doing yoga, meditating daily, and attending group therapy sessions.

As I heard these stories, I couldn’t ignore the gnawing voice within me. Surely, these people couldn’t all be liars. But if they weren’t lying, the only explanation was something beyond what I had learned in conventional medicine.

It got me thinking. We know spontaneous, unexplainable remissions sometimes happen. Every doctor has witnessed them. We just shrug our shoulders and go on about our business, usually accompanied by a dull, unnerving sense of dissatisfaction because we can’t explain the remission with logic.

healing mind

But in the back of my mind, I’ve always pondered whether it’s possible we have any control over this process.

If the “impossible” happens to one person, is there anything we can learn from what that person did?

Are there similarities among the patients who get “lucky”?

Are there ways to optimize the chances of spontaneous remission, especially when effective treatment doesn’t exist in the standard medical toolbox?

And what, if anything, can doctors do to facilitate this process?

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

Recent books by Lissa Rankin, M.D., OwningPink.com.

 Heal yourself.  LissaRankinBooks

Tag Cloud