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Friday, March 28, 2014

Perceptions

It’s a simple truth that we often forget:  other people don’t necessarily share our views and ideas.  Another person’s perception of things won’t necessarily resonate with yours 100% of the time, and that goes double for the people you think are “supposed” to agree with you.  Your best friend, your children, your spouse, your coworker or your boss… it’s subtle some times, and more obvious at others, but the fact remains that whatever the dissonance between two people’s views, its people’s perceptions that vary.  And coming to an agreement can often depend on whether you can manage to recognize and respect where another person is coming from with their thinking, whether you actually agree with their thinking or not.

What I mostly do in my private therapy practice is called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.”  That is to say, that what I think determines how I feel and how I act.  How I perceive the world determines the world I create for myself.

For us all to coexist and maintain relationships, we have to understand this, and try to respect the differences in our individual perceptions.


The important word here is respect.  We don’t have to agree in order to understand and respect another person’s unique perspective.  It is important to realize that respecting another person’s perception of things does not mean that we have to change or alter our beliefs or perceptions… but it will make communication far easier.





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Swing And a Miss

Batting averages are funny things.  Batting .300 is something to be proud of, but we tend to overlook what it takes to get there.  That’s hitting only 30 percent of what you swing for, which means that you’re actually missing your target 70 percent of the time!  We tend to put our focus not on the process - the diamonds in the rough, that require human effort to shine- but on the finished diamond… which took effort, and probably a few tries, to be what it is.

Shortly after I wrote my first blog post, I felt I was on a roll, and followed up by writing what was intended to be the second one.  In short, it wasn’t very good.  The idea was there, but it needs some more thought and revision…  you don’t get to see that one today!  Instead, you get this to read, and here’s the thought behind it, for you to contemplate:

If you want to be batting .300, be prepared to accept that you're going to fail 70 percent of the time in order to get there!

Sometimes, things are much clearer inside our head - often, important things! - and it takes some effort to communicate them.  Make the effort.  Sometimes, things are more difficult to achieve than we expected, and it takes greater effort to make them a reality.  Make the effort.  Sometimes there are things we can’t change, but there are far more things we can change, if we’d only put in more effort than we thought we’d need to when we signed up for whatever it was.  Make the effort, change your thinking, and change your world with it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

“Someday” Is Not a Day Of The Week

It has been my intention for some time now to begin blogging about mental health issues.  As with all things, now is as good a time as any.  If we do not do something in the “now,” when do we think we are going to do it?  We tend to have this false sense of “later” or “someday,” but the imprecision of this concept is what traps us.  There is no such day of the week as “Someday.”  Unfortunately, however, it is entirely possible for us to fill whole weeks with “Not Todays,” which is why we see nothing changing about any given situation.  

One of the things we often say we’ll do, but don’t, is take good care of our emotional selves.  Attending to our mental health isn’t all that different from attending to our physical health, in that as important as it is to our livelihood, it’s easy to neglect!  We say that things are “good enough,” that we have enough to worry about, and continue to plow forward.  But that’s just it!  You do have enough to worry about - and yet you’re not doing anything to lighten the load!  In fact, everything you’re doing is increasing it.  

I had a car once that was running fine, but after a while it started having the sort of problems that, while noticeable, I could put up with.  There was just never time to take it in to the mechanic.  I was too busy for that - until it started blowing thick smoke out of the exhaust, and up through the hood, completely breaking down on my way to work.  I’d neglected to take it in for regular service, and it had blown a valve.  Well, it was working fine - until it didn’t.   

We’re like that.  We can pretty much keep going, just fine - until we can’t.


If your knee-jerk answer when greeted with “how are you?” glosses over your internal answer to the question, it’s like skipping your annual physical exam.  Yes, you’ll probably be relatively okay tomorrow anyway in spite of your self-neglect… but what warning signs are you missing in the meantime?    Caring for minor concerns in the present may prevent more serious concerns in the future.  For instance, imagine you’re feeling the pressure at work.  By acknowledging your stressors now, rather than slogging on toward “Someday” when you’ll take better care of yourself, you can prevent more severe symptoms…. your growing anxiety eventually resulting in unexpected panic attacks, or that nagging sadness becoming a deepening depression.  Your well-being deserves just as much attention as the things that have been taking your attention away from it.