Archives for August, 2011
There’s no denying it, inherent in our human make-up is the need to judge and criticize. Some of us are more naturally talented at this than others. It’s worth getting curious about how the act of criticizing or judging others affects us. The truth is it rarely - if ever - has any lasting effects of helping us feel better. In fact, it usually has the opposite, like a slow leaking toxin in our minds and bodies. So here’s a practice for today.
In a past blog, A Child's ADHD Can Stress Your Marriage, John Grohol, Ph.D. cites an Washington Post article stating an increase in divorce rates among people who have children with ADHD. One person aptly comments that it also could be because one or more of the parents have ADHD and it's not diagnosed making the marriage more difficult. Having children with ADHD or special needs is challenging and requires extra responsibility that taxes the family system. There is simply more effort and time required on the parent and child's part which makes people more tired and when people get tired they tend to get irritable. When irritability is not taken care of, people get hurt, put their walls up and close down. When partners are closed down and aren't able to feel or detect one another's feelings anymore, empathy flies out the window, and connection is right on its tails. Without connection, there is no relationship and so this leads to higher rates of separation. The quote from the Washington Post that highlights this issue says:
Once in a while I come across a phrase that helps me drop from the chaos in my mind in the present moment, into the now, into what is most meaningful. Psychologist and author Leonard Felder’s latest book is called Here I Am and the title of the book is the practice I connect with. What do I mean? In Judaism there’s a phrase called Hineini which means “Here I am.” It epitomizes mindfulness, intentionally bringing our minds to the present moment, without the filters from the past. Here’s how it worked for me.
In the spirit of this blog I want share you with a song that was recently sent to me by Jim Angus, a Canadian songwriter. As you listen to this you are welcome to close your eyes and just hear the song or keep them open and allow the images to complement the experience. Enjoy!
In the past couple weeks I’ve been asked by a few different people in leadership positions how they can work with inherent and constant interruptions in their workday. One minute you’re engaged with an important project and the next someone calls you up or walks into your office with an urgent matter that needs attention. This constant moving back and forth interrupts focus and creates frustration that makes it difficult to concentrate. It’s a vicious cycle. What is important to recognize is that being yanked back and forth and getting caught up in an auto-pilot of increased frustration isn’t going to make you more effective at work (or at home). We can also accept the reality that this is inherent in our workdays, especially now that we live in a 24/7 world where people expect us to be available at all times. To minimize interruptions, the most basic thing a person can do is schedule times during the day that are un-interruptible times of complete focus. Whether you’re in a management position or not, you can make sure people know about these hours and then have an open door policy the rest of the time.
In past postings I talked about the power of thoughts and how convincing they can seem in times when our emotions are high. When we’re depressed, automatic negative thoughts such as “This is hopeless,” or “I’ll never get this right,” or “what’s the point” are swimming around. If we’re excited, thoughts like, “this is really going to happen,” or “everyone loves me,” or “I feel like I can do no wrong” are prevalent. Thoughts are powerful and it’s worth becoming aware of our minds, understanding that thoughts are not facts and at times, even challenging them. I was recently reading through a friend and colleague of mine, Steve Flowers’ book The Mindful Path Through Shyness where he cites four helpful questions from Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is to challenge automatic negative thoughts (ANTS). Here are the four questions to help challenge compelling thoughts:
Part of the process of healing from our various mental and physical afflictions is learning how to do a 180 degree shift from self-avoidance to self-inquiry. Self-inquiry is a simple process, but at times not easy. It’s also not as easy to explain the process of self-inquiry because there is a certain feeling to it as you begin to practice. Learning how to get curious about yourself when there’s been a lifetime of habitual disconnection can seem strange at first, but the journey is incredibly rewarding. In A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Bob Stahl and I point out the process of self-inquiry. “Mindful self-inquiry is an investigation into the nature of one’s own mind and being. In the context of this book, that inquiry looks into physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts that may be contributing to stress and anxiety. In your daily life, you may be so busy doing that you feel you have little or no time for self-reflection. Yet this exploration is extremely worthwhile, as fears often lie beneath the surface of awareness.