Resilience: Beyond Punishment and Reward

Resilience: Beyond Punishment and RewardPersistence. Resilience. What is it that makes some people persist in the face of great difficulties, when others simply give up? What makes some people highly resilient, refusing to give up even after many difficult experiences?

Given how much we tend to demand of ourselves and others, given how much we ask from our lives, it’s worth having a second and third look at what this whole resilience and persistence issue might be about. We just might be able to learn to be more resilient and persistent, if we want! Do you want to be like those steel cables in the picture, strong, resilient, flexible and unbreakable? Do you want to accomplish your immediate goals, and make incremental progress on your loftiest goals? If so, read on.

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Posted in Leadership, Success and the Workplace | 8 Responses

Blogging Sucks

Blogging Sucks, Rant AlertTherapy, the Human mind, and life in general are not all that suck. Blogging and blogs suck. So I have to find a cute visual to go with my blog post? Oh, joy. I can break copyright laws again and hose off someone’s hard work, thanking them for it by misusing their photography or art without permission. And I get to use this super-unfriendly WordPress program that screws up half the time? So tempting I can hardly resist. Link my own text with my own prior work? Completely necessary for internet style and not at all narcissistic. Whoops, I’ve got about as much down here now as most people are willing to read — better add one of those fancy little breaks that makes this paragraph a teaser so the whole post isn’t visible at once. Because I just love communicating with my fellow humans in a formulaic way that demands futzing with technical doo-dads and employing advertising tricks and manipulation.

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Posted in Anger and Hate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

Doing Nothing Well: Easing Stress

Non-Doing Lao TzuMost of us complain about “stress,” but we have a superficial understanding of its sources. Like any complex psychological experience, stress has many sources and causes. One of these is that we are not skilled at being idle, doing nothing. It is as if we have lost our “neutral” gear and have to be moving and doing at all times.

Even when we decide to “take it easy,” we are still doing, doing, doing as we “relax.”  We go to a coffee shop, bring our computer, drink our coffee, write emails, look out the windows, fantasize, fret to ourselves, worry, daydream, plan vacations, take phone calls, send emails. And that’s “relaxing.”

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Posted in Stress and Stress Management | Leave a comment

Boredom and Joy

Boredom Isn't Boring

Boredom is rather interesting. Why do I become bored? What, even, IS boredom? I notice boredom as a kind of restlessness in my body, and a thought that “there is something much better out there, and I need to get it.” I disconnect from what is happening right now, right here and begin to focus on other possibilities that exist, for the time being, only in my mind. I stop relating well with what is happening.

None of these things that happen when I notice boredom are “bad,” they just ARE. And, they sometimes interfere with noticing joy in life. It’s hard to notice joy when one is disconnected and absorbed in thoughts about what is not present.

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Transforming Rage into Vigor

Transforming Rage into Vigor

 “At heart I’m a frightened angry person. That’s probably why my stuff isn’t totally insubstantial. I’m constantly, deep down inside, in a kind of rage.”

–Robyn Hitchcock

Hating life? Hard not to in this economy. As I’ve written about many times here before, when we live life through the mind, everything just seems to suck, endlessly.

As the incredibly creative and talented rocker-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock, who graced Portland with his presence and music at the Doug Fir a couple nights ago, points out in an interview, his rage feeds his prodigious and prolific creativity. Why is it that some of us are able to channel the energy of rage into creativity, while for others, rage and hatred of life are just, well, a living Hell and not much else?

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Posted in Anger and Hate | Tagged , , , | 4 Responses

Transcendence: Rising Above Existence

Transcendence InterconnectionIn prior blog entries, I discussed ways that life is fundamentally awful and depression is a pretty understandable, Human reaction to the way things are.  That is, however, only one side of the story of our existence.  The other side is the fact that transcendence of suffering is possible for each and every one of us.

The method of cultivating transcendence is precisely mindfulness practice, whether formal meditation or everyday awareness of the present moment.  Why would this be so?

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Posted in Pain and Suffering | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response

Fatigue and I-don’t-wanna-itis

Fatigue and I-don’t-wanna-itis- Portland Mindfulness® Therapy

I’m fatigued. Not Chronic Fatigue, just fatigue. I slept less than I need to or like to, and I just don’t want to do the things I need to do. Or so my mind says.

What to do when fatigued? Is it worth resting? Or do we “power through” with a caffeinated drink?

Chronic fatigue can be caused by many conditions, and can also be “idiopathic” meaning they don’t really know what’s causing it. I work with people with chronic fatigue as I’d work with anyone that has a chronic and debilitating illness. It’s certainly not the same thing as what I’m experiencing.

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Posted in Stress and Stress Management | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response

Depression: The Logic of Despair

Depression: The Logic of DespairWhy do depression and despair paralyze us?   Okay, not “why,” as in, “can I have YET ANOTHER more or less useless scientific explanation of clinical depression?”  But rather, what is it about depression in the moment, in this very moment, experientially, that makes it so much better to do nothing, than to do something?  And, how can I recognize when my despair is an illusion, versus when it is justified by the facts of my life?  And what is to be done about the inaction resulting from despair?  Like the subject of the classic drawing “Melancholia” featured here, we are surrounded by wonder and yet often choose to do nothing, wallowing in despair.

Recently I wrote about “Bullshit Psychology”, and in connection with that post, I looked around online and found this interesting post by someone with much to say about having difficulty, ah, finding anything useful about psychologists.  The author writes at length, with much truth, about how “awful” and “shitty” life is, the world is, civilization is. And the sad truth is, he’s right. Everything IS awful and terrible, from our perspective. AND also miraculous, wondrous, precious and divine. And we don’t handle that contradictory situation very well; our logical minds take over and fail us, leading us to despair and inaction, when what’s required in order to live life in a meaningful, satisfying way, is action.

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Posted in Pain and Suffering | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Responses

On Bullshit Psychology

The Bullshit Psychology Stamp of Disapproval I was going to write this post on ” pop psychology ” but decided that moniker just doesn’t cut it, and the scope is too limited and easy.  What we are referring to when we say “pop psychology” is 99% bullshit.  Not too hard to see that, if you read 50 of those books and your life still sucks .  But for that matter, what passes for “evidence-based” psychology is still probably at least 60% bullshit.  I’m going to go beyond bashing the obvious targets that lard up our bookshelves, the self-help books and so forth.  I want to target much of what clinical psychology that the public encounters eagerly defines itself as.  It’s not “popular” necessarily, but it is awfully self-important and mostly wrong and potentially damaging to the public.  Actually, So let’s call it what it is: Bullshit psychology.

The main premise of bullshit psychology is that there is something wrong with you, and you need psychology to fix what’s wrong with you.  This is the first premise of bullshit.  I want to highlight this premise because all else in bullshit psychology rests on it.  You are broken, we will fix you.  We, the experts, will provide you the information to fix yourself.  Bullshit.

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Posted in Therapy and Psychotherapies | Tagged , , , | 113 Responses

Why Life Sucks 2: Thoughts And Illusion

Sometimes, I can’t help the feeling that I’m living a life of illusion.

– Joe Walsh

Thoughts and "Reality" - circle square optical illusion

As with this classic optical illusion, things are NOT necessarily what they VERY MUCH APPEAR TO BE.  What you “know” to be “true” is not necessarily even remotely connected to reality. And that’s true for all of us.

What’s really hard to accept is just how much of what we perceive and believe is actually a bunch of poppycock. Balderdash. Ballyhoo.  Utter hogwash. Horsehockey. Life appears to suck — does really seem to suck — often because we have ideas about how things are that are largely inaccurate and certainly unhelpful.  In short: your most treasured beliefs about the world: mostly bullsh*t.  But really, that’s good news, because in fact it’s not life that sucks, it’s your belief system.

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Posted in Everyday Mindfulness | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Responses