Archive for August, 2010

How Do You Measure Up?

Posted in continued learning, enjoyable living, quest for content, relationships, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by dredslack

  “How have you been feeling about yourself lately?” When you ask this question most folks initially give a report on how things are going at work, how things are going at home and how they feel the state of the world is going …. and they’re usually dissatisfied because what they think should be happening isn’t. If you restate the question and prompt them to be more personal what follows is often a set of ratings as to how they feel they are performing at work and at home, and more often than not this rating is comparative to others or a ‘standard’ they hold themselves to. These ratings and comparisons are usually ‘automatic’, meaning they haven’t been consciously chosen but have been adopted because of education, observation and experience. 

  For most, this personally generated basis of self-esteem isn’t a choice but a matter of happenstance. If brought up with a different set of cultural / experiential circumstances a different set of standards would apply. This is important because our drive towards a positive self-esteem guides our behavior powerfully. If we’re driving to locations we don’t really want to go to we may end up somewhere we have no interest in being, feeling adrift and unsatisfied. 

  Step back from yourself for a moment and ask yourself what comprises the internal model of what you’re supposed to be. Write it down or draw it out if that helps, take your time. How do you compare with this model of your ideal self? Would you weigh less? Would you be richer? Would everybody love you? Would you be famous? Now ask yourself if you really think these things are important? Are they part of your idea of a human life well lived? Are they realistic? Are you in agreement with the values implicit in this model? If not change it to one that agrees with your values and is realistic and again feel free to write it or draw it out. Sure it’s easier said than done but having an aware and self generated set of expectations can do a lot to increase your satisfaction with yourself and your life, in a very short time. 

  Being a shrink for the last 25+ years, a lot of my job has been helping people feel better about themselves. Being generally happy really is a win-win situation as happy people tend to not only be more satisfied with life, they’re more fun to be around, perform better at work, get sick less, live longer, etc., etc. Making the internal model of what you’re supposed to be a personally meaningful and realistic set of parameters, is a surprisingly easy bit of work that can have vividly positive results. The main problem is remembering your new model and not getting back into old, habit based automatic reaction patterns. 

  Remembering new patterns is a huge issue when it comes to changing one’s life, and the easier the technique the easier it is to forget. Some find journaling a big help, others get into a regime of daily self reflection and mentally go over their new patterns per diem. My personal favorite is to find a cool painting or knick-knack for around the house that reminds me of the new ‘thought habit’ I’m working on. It only takes about twenty repetitions of a new pattern, either behavioral or mental, to create a new habit pattern. That’s not a lot to be a bit happier and a bit more you.

Are You Living Laterally?

Posted in continued learning, enjoyable living, quest for content, relationships, staying alive with tags , , , , on August 12, 2010 by dredslack

 Living laterally is moving through life without pressing forward into new territories or doing unfamiliar things. It’s a life style of pretty much doing the same thing, day in and day out. Think back to when you were in grade school… a huge part of life was about learning & acquiring new skills, it was a hurried movement forward. Pretty much the same in High School and if you went to collage more there, but what’s happened since? 

 Most of us move on to careers and families and that certainly takes time & effort, but what happened to our growth and development as human beings? Without the structure of school, what new aspects of life have you moved forward with? Some of us have careers that push us forward in ways, sometimes circumstance will push learning upon us, avocations can certainly fuel the growth continuum but I think a lot of us get caught in the comfy trap of lateral living and just kinda getting by. 

 There’s certainly not a lot of social cue’s to encourage increased self awareness or to develop our awareness at all. In fact I think a lot of us consider continuing self development to be a huge waste of time and a painful pain in the ass. I couldn’t disagree more. To take 5 minutes to reflect on what you experienced in your day can be mind bending and can be had for the time toll of a long traffic light. Spending 10 minutes reading something of a ‘moving forward’ nature can add surprising vigor to one’s step and one’s conversation. Connecting new dots is inherently a lot more interesting than connecting the old ones again. 

 And it’s fun. Moving forward is enjoyable and it doesn’t have to be a pain in the arse. Remember all those ‘learning is fun’ type books you had as a kid? Not all of them lied, (though many did), some really were a laugh. Their illustrations and lighthearted manner made it easier to learn phonics, language rules and lots of other things; I know my multiplication tables went down more easily. So much of school was a boring drag that many of us associate learning with boredom and judge mentality and a lot of other negative things. It doesn’t have to be that way.

 If we seek out things that aren’t ‘the usual’ be it books or movies or classes or websites or music or whatever and we think about them & give ourselves a bit of time for self reflection, particularly where our personal relationships are concerned, we’ve got a moving forward lifestyle going on. A continuation of our growth and personal evolution that’s a lot more stimulating and enjoyable than living laterally, which sooner or later ends up being laps of the same thing over & over & over & over. And we don’t have to approach our individual development with the pressing, grade obsessed urgency of our school days, which makes it all that much more enjoyable.

Are You Smarter than You Think?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 4, 2010 by dredslack

  You’re probably smarter than you think. Most people are. This doesn’t mean most folks make great decisions or achieve a lot, but that underlying ability is often there, waiting for the chance to come out and show what it can really do. 

  When we’re kids a big part of our job is to push our agenda to see what works and what doesn’t work, what we can get away with and what leads to unpleasant consequences. That’s one of the ways we learn how the world works and what’s best for us to do. It’s left to our folks to set limits for us so we don’t kill ourselves in the process. It’s not an easy job. A lot of their message comes across as “you don’t know what you’re doing” and for the most part that’s probably quite true. 

  Societies “more primitive” than ours usually have a ritual called ‘the rite of passage’. In this ritual a sub-adult can prove themselves competent and worthy of adult status, typically by performing a set of difficult and / or dangerous tasks successfully. This is followed by a ceremony where the sub-adult is ‘transformed’ into an adult and from then on out, to both themselves and their society, they are no longer some dumb ass kid but an adult worthy of respect. 

  Aside from some ill advised drinking rituals our society does not have a defined marking place for us to shift gears from adolescence to adulthood. This leaves many of us with the lingering sense we’re still dumb ass kids. 

  To compound this being able to critically, logically think for one’s self is not part of the curriculum (required classes) of any public education system currently in the United States. Clearly learning to think for one’s self is not important enough to be part of a general education. It’s not important. 

  Further, the road to any type of competency or wisdom is strewn with errors and mistakes, ask anyone whose achieved anything of significance. Mistakes are how we learn and grow. In spite of this a preponderance of people respond to any error as proof of hopeless incompetence. Even more sadly many of us do this to ourselves.

                     You’re probably a lot smarter than you think.

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