Tag Archives: ideas
There was a video I recently saw that talked about Reverse Graffiti. I had never heard of this concept. Basically it is people that use water and often times soap to create graffiti on dirty walls around a city. It is truly beautiful. This guy in the video was talking about how he had OCD that specifically focused on cleaning up dirt. His story is so inspiring.
It starts off that he suffered from some pretty bad obsessive compulsive tendencies towards cleaning. I felt bad for him, as I imagined how hard it must have been for him to experience this as a negative quality within his life. But then, something shifted in my thoughts as he began to talk about how he was a dishwasher. And I thought WOW, he is transforming the problems that he has and turning them into something that provides soothing for the issue and gives him a paycheck. How smart and inspiring is that?!
Then it just got better. He went on to explain that one day he saw a spot on the wall and needed to clean it. He began to clean but the wall was so dirty that the clean spot totally stood out. He tried to make a design but that was even more noticeable. So he decided to was the whole wall. And then decided to clean the whole restaurant.
From this he was inspired. He saw dirt everywhere and calls himself the Professor of Dirt. He took this need to clean and wanted to make something beautiful on the streets of San Francisco In fact, the video shows his current project of a mural that are all the plants that once were on the land where walls are now.
All of this got me thinking about the therapeutic principal of “co-opting the pathology”. This concept basically means that the thing that your brain is already doing that you dislike you turn it into something wonderful and helpful to you. You don’t go against your own brain to fight it, you incorporate the way your brain already works to make something positive.
This man took his OCD tendencies and created art and a life for himself that is bigger than a problem of always wanting to clean. That is outstanding! I would encourage you to consider the areas in your life that you feel you are negative and consider amping up what it is you do and find a positive outlet for it. Who knows… you might just find you are making the world a better place with the very thing that you once felt hindered you!
My cat likes to be pet… he likes to be pet at a speed that is much faster than usual. He loves it! Then at some point, he can’t take it anymore. He becomes over-sensitized and starts to fight, scratch, and bite at me. I think this same thing happens with teasing.
There are so many times when we start out with something that feels innocent and just being playful with someone. Our intentions are to lightly tease, but along the way it just turns too rough for the other person. It is difficult because we all seem to have a different level of humor and/or being teased. It can be hard to gauge what will or will not be hurtful to the other person.
For instance, some people can be teased over and over again about their intelligence and others will recoil at the first mention of such. Some individuals are very sarcastic and will push boundaries with a smile on their face, where some people feel that sarcasm is a cruel expression of the truth and not playful at all. Then there are people that are a mix, where they can dish out a lot of teasing but have almost no ability to be teased back. We are curious in our abilities to be gently teased or greatly taunted.
I think that a big part of this has to do with each person’s own insecurities. We tend to be better about being teased in areas that we are secure within. If someone is always on time and they show up 20 minutes early, and you lightly verbally jab them about being early, most likely they will just laugh it off. However, if you do the same thing to someone that feels insecure about always being late, there is a good chance that their feelings might get hurt.
Being sensitive isn’t a bad thing. It simply shows that there are areas of the person’s life that they are working on and that require a more gentle approach. It isn’t a reflection typically of you as the teaser. Hence, telling someone to just “buck up and get a thicker skin” is often adding insult to injury. You know what it feels like when you are teased and it hurts. Try to remember that, when dealing with others.
Sometimes we do tease with an edge. It takes on a passive aggressive nature and instead of telling the person exactly how we feel we couch it in a joke. Often times the person receiving the teasing knows right away what the real intent is. They get the message and often they feel upset. While this approach can work, I would suggest that simply letting the person know directly is a more effective method. This way it keeps the lines clean. People know that when you are joking it is truly a joke, rather than an underhanded jab at them personally.
We all have our breaking points. And when we are teasing another person it should be with the intent of joining together, being playful, and lighthearted. If that is your intent and the person reacts poorly, it is a great time to talk about the situation. Apologizing and explaining that you were not meaning to hurt them and to ask more information about what specifically stung will provide you with more data as to not fall into this pattern in the future.
So if you accidently play a little too rough, you know to ask for more information and apologize. If you are intentionally play mean, be brave enough to take a more direct approach, it will serve you well and is more respectful for everyone involved.. Learning how and why some teasing works and others does not, allows for relationships to either breaks apart of grow stronger. Do what it takes to connect with the other and make sure the playfulness comes across, as just that, play!
I recently watched a documentary about the origin of venture capital, Something Ventured. Specifically, I was struck by Don Valentine because while all the other investors were not interested in giving funding to Apple, Valentine saw something. He talks about the rough personalities he dealt with, the crazy conditions, and the in-fighting of the business. But beyond all that, before the world would forever change due to personal computers, Valentine was willing to take a risk.
It is known that VCs are risk takers but when all the other risk takers are not willing to move ahead, it is a scary proposition to believe in an idea that is beyond the current popular notion of acceptance or understanding. It takes a great amount of courage to go against the grain. It all sounds like easy enough cliches but when you really have to make a choice to go ahead with something you believe in or turn back, it is that moment what you are made of that comes to the top.
Valentine’s philosophy is one that I really appreciate: ”The world thrives best when individuals are left to be different and creative.” It becomes clear that if you want to do something new that you are going to get some push back from those around you. The people that are seeking to change the world are often not accepted. In fact, numerous people seeking venture capital have devoted themselves to a singular idea, to the exclusion of other things in life, that could shift the way we understanding our very existence. They believe in themselves so deeply, they will risk everything. That is a powerful concept!
I don’t expect that if you are reading this that you have millions of dollars to invest in new companies. However, I do expect that if you have a desire for something new or different for your life that you would do everything you could to make your vision become a reality. People might think you are crazy, they will judge you, it is possible they will even dislike you for your new idea/approach/concept but I encourage you to take that push-back as ever more reason to move ahead.
There is no way that you will ever be able to please the world but you just might be able to change it with who you are! It isn’t just okay to be different it is encouraged! Please… allow yourself to express, dream big, and be passionate about the life you live. It is that drive that will make this place better for everyone!
For those that are continually seeking growth and self improvement, it can seem like a no-brain-er to see your trouble spots and fix them. Yet, logic and integration often seem to be on different time frames. It can be even more complicated when you see yourself in others and can’t seem to figure out if it is you or them that needs to shift because you are both exhibiting the same behavior you dislike.
In the moment when you catch your own negative reflection in another, you instantly know something needs to change. Then when you understand that change needs to come from within, it cuts to the core and it often stings. That judgment that so easily comes forth towards others is directly pointed at yourself.
You have a choice.
You can project it back on to the other person, which is completely valid because you dislike the behavior anyway. Or you can push it one step further and take a dose of your own expectations for change.
It is pretty easy to put the blame on another and it is even easier to judge those that are doing things you don’t do yourself. However, expecting more of yourself in areas that are shown to be problematic can be tricky. You can take on the negative as some terrible deficit within yourself. You can shame and belittle your own process. OR you can choose a whole different approach (this one is therapist approved btw).
You can come to terms with the idea that you are a work in progress. If you want to grow that means there will be areas that need improvement. You can rejoice in the fact that you have a new level of insight and work on integration! You can use this information to more quickly focus on the areas that specifically need to shift. You are already moving ahead and better than you were before you were in the dark about the issue the moment of the realization.
This is a totally doable re-frame. You can take your weakness and turn it into your strength. Gently treating yourself in the same way you would others during the growth process, will dramatically increase efficiency towards change. You won’t have to do that whole “self-loathing” thing, you just skip right to the change and feeling better.
Accept, change, and move on with your awesome self.
Sometimes it is hard to find something you enjoy about your day. It can seem like one bad thing after another happens. It all just piles up and you want to hang your head low as the Charlie Brown theme music plays along. Basically, you feel like life sucks.
Now, this isn’t a post about how you are supposed to be happy and jump around when you are feeling like crap. I promise! However, this is a post about how you should find at least one thing to smile about even when you are super unhappy. I won’t go into all the science (you have the internet, you can look it up yourself) behind it. The basics are when you repeat negative messages over and over again… it becomes easier for your brain to respond with terrible thoughts than with positive ones. This is essentially what is going on when you are depressed (same thing can happen with anxiety). Your brain wants to go to the miserable places rather than hang out at the joyous ones. (what fires together wires together).
Hence if you want a quick way to keep depression at a distance, you just need to allow your brain multiple different ways of interpreting information. This is kind of the idea that is set into motion when you learn a new language as a way of keeping your brain active to strengthen against Alzheimer’s. You begin to look for an opposite or alternative way of processing the daily grind of grumpy thoughts and emotional responses.
An example for this would be when your morning has already turned into a hellish adventure. You take a moment to realize that November 11th 2011 looks kind of neat as 11-11-11. Then you decide that it would be pretty cool (or geeky depending on how you look at it ;) noticed it was 11:11 am on 11-11-11. Then you decide that you will text a friend and let them know about this grand idea. Then you decide to celebrate this 11-11-11 at 11:11 by both doing a dance even though you live in different time zones. It sounds simple, it is simple. One thought leads to another and leads to actions and leads to positive emotional responses. Before you know it, not only are you dancing but you are smiling and BOOM depression is defeated for another day.
I’m being rather elemental with all this, but you get the idea. In the moment it takes to use the emotional energy to repeat the negative cycle you can decide to do something different. Maybe you aren’t ready to do the 11 dance (it is rather advanced). But maybe you are ready to consider shifting the continued pattern of sadness into a lighter version. Changing the thoughts from “I’m miserable and life is horrible” to “I’m pretty unhappy and I just haven’t found a way to get out of this slump YET!” See the change? That one little word at the end leaves open the possibility for a different approach, mindset, and emotional response.
Becoming happier doesn’t require some big overhaul of your life to begin nor does it require you stop being you. What it does require is the three-second effort of shifting perception to incorporate a new idea. I think no matter how upset, ticked off, or all around curmudgeonly a person you are… you can get this approach to work for you!
It is that time of year where people start to look back on their lives and freak out. They have managed to survive the holiday season thus far and begin to focus on next year. The lists come out of all the things that were not done, all the things to do, and all the things that should be important but that won’t make it to any real list anyway.
You hear it time and time again… resolutions. Then two weeks or two months later… you hear about how they are never kept. I won’t go into why making big grand statements about change don’t work, at least not in this post. But I will say this much, we change as we grow and that isn’t just about an idea, it is about integration. You can wish and hope all day long for something to change, but if you are not truly ready to deal with the consequences (and yes there are scary realities to change even in a positive direction) then it just isn’t going to happen.
So back on to what you can do in 2010. Here is an idea… how about working on your relationships? I know I know… you don’t have the time, the energy, or the desire. But I assure you, if you are devoting time to how you can feel differently about yourself or strengthening the bonds around you, you WILL feel better. We spend an amazing amount of time focusing on the negative that simply seeing one thing positive within ourselves and others, is already a huge shift.
You want to revolutionize your world? Okay…. maybe that is too grand a statement… sounds almost like a resolution.. How about just making a small step towards not putting so many horrible thoughts in your head about yourself or your loved ones? That is workable …. at least the theory is. But how do we really make change with such a large idea? I’m so glad you asked!
Here is a realistic how-to for growing your relationship with yourself or others:
1) Become aware of all the negative things you are saying inside your head. You will be shocked. Write them down with little check marks if you want. It will blow your mind.
2) Once you realize your negative autopilot thought process, start working on actively stopping. In the middle of a negative thought, say “STOP” inside your head our out loud. This changes the cognitive mechanism that is on default. Even if you then still think the thought, you will already started a skill set to change the process.
3) After you have caught yourself in the act, work on some radical acceptance. You don’t have to give up all the negativity cold turkey. However, letting the feelings/thoughts float around as something without impact goes a long way. For instance, if you think “I am stupid” then you stop yourself, and you can allow the thought not to have an impact. You simply have a feeling and thought that is negative but it does not carry weight. It can float past you as the Taoist and Buddhist tend to say “Like leaves on a river they move along.”
4) Then the big moment has arrived. You are ready to start adding on some positivity. You pick something that actually resonantes within you. No choosing a word or feeling that is out of your scope. As with the example above with intellect you could say “I am working on building new levels of intelligience.” This doesn’t negate anything, nor does it put you in a category that isn’t real. You are in fact working on this, by the shear nature of doing these steps.
5) Finally, when you are ready you can really push yourself. *dramatic music* You can start saying positive statements outloud to yourself or others. I know… it sounds intense but work through this with me. You might start to see and feel yourself and others differently, once you geniunely feel some kindness. Using the idea above, someone might say “Wow, that was a really good idea.” You would respond with, “Thank you for saying that.” It sounds like such an easy response right? But when you are struggling with how you deal with yourself and others, it can be a process. You have just validated yourself, the other person’s feelings, and openly expressed appreciation for both.
So let’s look towards 2010 with realistic optimism that we can change ourselves with one thought, emotion, and action at a time. That there is space for us to feel a bit more secure in ourselves and with others. The theme of the new year will be — strength in relationships–.
There is something within our humans mind that is constantly looking for the thing that is out of place, the negative, the part that doesn’t fit. This is normal and for some it can really make it hard to be positive. This fact coupled with a feeling of self doubt can compound into a state of unhappiness and lack of inspiration.
So what do you do about it?
Well, of course the goal is to internally change the negative thought patterns and be more positive. That is a wonderful approach and as a therapist I completely approve. However, what if you are not there yet? What if you don’t have that inside you and you don’t feel you can “fake it… to make it”?
There are other strategies that are on the spectrum of getting you where you want to be on being inspired internally. One of the main things is to take in data points from outside of your own mind. You are so inside yourself that you bombarded your own psyche with negativity. Where would you even get anything positive?
I have found working with clients that one of the first steps is to take in more positivity around you. What this means in actual terms is… reading books that are positive according to your own values, actually slightly allowing yourself to accept a compliment, taking time out to do things that are part of your specific interests, talking with people that share your ideas or passions, listening to movies, music, media that continues to uplift you… beyond your own thoughts.
We spend so much time dumping negativity and insecurity into ourselves that just to balance even slight positivity may seem uncomfortable. So realize that this approach may feel awkward at first. You will need to bit of patience with yourself on actually surrounding yourself with something besides negative emotions and thoughts.
I promise you though… you do not have to be internally inspired just in one big leap. Of course, if you want to I encourage you to shift yourself as quickly as possible. But if you need a starting place to get yourself out of the negative death spiral of yourself, then try bringing in outside sources of inspiration.
And as a matter of full disclosure… the image below is what inspired this post.
I have been a long time fan of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I read his work, way back when, in undergrad… interestingly enough it was my Taoism professor that assigned his books. Looking back with my understanding of Taoism and Csikszentmihalyi’s work, Flow, it all makes more sense now. I am still grateful for my prof bring this man’s ideas to my consciousness. Added to this my affection for natural trance/hypnotic states that we experience everyday, I am drawn to Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas on life fulfillment.
So what is this guy with the really long name talking about with Flow? Well, if you consider what it is like to be totally focused in a way that there is no room for anything other than being engrossed in the process… that is flow. Sometimes it is called “being in the zone” where you feel engaged, alive, and ready to move in your thought/action of choice. To be really fulfilled Csikszentmihalyi believes that we must find these areas of our being/life and create as many more as possible. You can read the wiki on the 9 elements of Flow.
The key for me about Csikszentmihalyi’s work is that with other approaches it requires a person to have stimulation outside of themselves. But with Flow a person is using who they are to find satisfaction. It all sounds like a rather basic concept at this point but when Csikszentmihalyi was bringing it forth, it was controversial.
Take a few minutes and push through Csikszentmihalyi’s accent and listen/watch to his intro talk on the idea of Flow when he was at TED.
Psyche Today had a great intro article to Flow, from years back, that I would also suggest you read if you are interested … but truthfully reading the book is well worth the effort.
Remember the Madonna song called “Human Nature”? Sure you do… she is walking around in leather and latex. The video was ever-so-scandalous at the time.
Oh fine, here is the link to the video if you can’t remember.
Anyway, the song came up on my pod the other day and I got to thinking about how great it was motivating a person to be open about their feeling (with their sexuality or otherwise). There is something deep within each one of us that longs for the freedom to be truthful about who we are as a person. We want to be understood and accepted for who we really are at our core.
Deciding to expose the raw parts of your soul can be freeing. So why on earth wouldn’t each one of us want to just spill our deepest secrets to someone we trust? It is a scary thing to share your most intimate thoughts and feelings even if they are not about sexual desires.
The main issue though is this little-big thing called rejection. It is human nature (idea pun intended) for each one of us to fear the risk of being mocked, ridiculed, or even pushed aside. The moment you share who you are is the moment you stand for something. In that very second you will find that someone you care about intensely either shares your views, disagrees with your views, or something in between. That risk can feel terrifying. We don’t want to lose the person we love so often we keep the most personal parts of who we are to ourselves.
Everything around us will tell us that our people want to know who we _really_ are but in reality they could just as easily decide they don’t like who we really are and leave. It is natural for us to want to minimize that chance. But yet… we long and crave to be understood. We want to know that the person we share our life with fully understands us (even if they can not full accept).
Here is where things get tricky. We are fearful of rejection so we do not share yet we bemoan the fact that our partner doesn’t understand us. We set up the very pattern that keeps us from drawing closer. I will not pretend that each one of us takes a big risk in sharing our truest feelings…. you could lose your partner. However, as cliche as it sounds, was that someone you really wanted if when you shared the core part of you they rejected you? The answer may be yes or it may be no … however even that can be part of the growth process.
Assuming you feel that you want a truly open honest relationship with your partner, it is best to face your fear and share. The moment you risk (read: trust) your heart with another person is the moment that the two of you have a huge opportunity to connect on a deeper level. This new creation of intimacy will allow each one of you to feel safer in discussing anything from money problems to sexual desires.
It isn’t easy to be who you are in the face of fear and possible rejection. Yet, I claim your self worth and the potential for deeper trust out weighs any negative that could occur. I know it sounds like a dramatic claim, however I do speak from experience. I have risked it all and found myself alone and I have risked even more and found myself in the best relationship of my life. So in both ends of the spectrum I knew that I was proud of being true to myself.
Risk it… risk being afraid and all the glory that comes with being strong enough to be yourself! It is worth it!
We have all done it. Paper cuts. The thin slice makes you want to scream and for a day or two all you can do is keep feeling your fingertip bump into just about everything. You realize how directly you use your fingers and sort of wonder how you ever made it through life before the paper cut. This example is small but it is real.
Pain of the physical (and emotional for that matter) is real. It can be a long drawn out illness or a short burst of a sickness. Either way being in pain is hard. You physically ache and you feel overwhelmed by everything around you. The world seems harder to bare and you just want to stay under the covers.
Pain isn’t a solitary issue… it creeps in to our relationships. For those of us that live with, care for you, or want to avoid you during pain … your wellness level matters. It is hard enough being sick or in pain without having to worry about everyone feelings but we are intricately connected and what we feel is shared with us even if we do not voice our discomfort directly.
So what happens when your pain threshold is reached by you and those around you? Well the truth is that you do your best to take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it. Sounds simple enough but these two things are hard for us. Sometimes we do not want to be sick or in pain and want to avoid the very idea of caring for ourselves. Of course we know this isn’t healthy and would never recommend it for another but for ourselves we try to “push on through”. The second can be even harder for some because you are showing your vulnerability. There is a risk in asking for help because it is very possible that the person will not want to help. Then you feel in pain and alone. We often will do whatever we can to avoid the idea of slowing down for health reasons and/or asking for another’s support.
And while the above reasons, and many others, are valid in nature they do not provide us with the core answer to the issue. When we are sick or in pain we need to rest, slow down, and take the necessary steps to recover. This just the truth of the matter and very little happens if we try to avoid it. Also, there are some pains that we simply can not tackle alone. Being in pain feels huge and so taking on the task of healing can appear even more overwhelming. True, you might ask for help and not receive it but at that point you have lost nothing. And even if the person you are asking doesn’t want/or can’t help they most likely will have an idea of someone that can help.
The thing about human nature is … we rarely want to see another suffer. There is something deep within each of us, even the most harshly selfish, that makes us want to help another in pain. This makes sense considering that we want to keep the species alive. Beyond the most basic levels of our nature we also want to be there because others have been there in our time of need. It is a cycle of giving back that makes sure that we move forward.
I’m not suggesting that pain is not isolating. It is. Pain can make you tired, upset, and fearful. It can push those away that you love most in your frustration in the healing process. However, if there is one thing I would suggest to those of you in pain currently, it would be to think about how grateful you will be when you are on the mend or in full recovery. Just like with the paper cut … you realize that you were taking your body for granted and now you have an opportunity to rejoice in being healthy.
This may all sound rather trite, but I assure you that when you take the time to reflect back on being healthy, strong, and without pain you will find yourself smiling. Not paying attention to not being sick is how we usually exist. It doesn’t make sense to focus solely on how we are without pain, yet when we have experienced pain we then find even more space and appreciation for the lack of it.
It boils down to this… take care of yourself and slow down when you are in pain, ask for the support of others, and look forward towards a time when you are healthier.