Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26th - October 3rd, 2010


  • You are a valuable and unique individual, and you are worthy of respect of others.

  • You look at life optimistically and are eager to accept new challenges.

  • You are kind, truthful, patient and compassionate.

  • You are optimistic about reaching your goals. You look at temporary setbacks as stepping-stones to strengthen character and resolve.

  • You do not own the negative opinions of others. You enjoy giving your best, growing in awareness, and striving to live up to your own high standards.

  • You are successful and you can feel love towards yourself.

  • There is no one in the world who is more important than you, and no one who is less important.

  • Everyday you can count your blessings.

  • You are productive and efficient; you divide your big jobs into manageable, bite size tasks. You can do one thing at a time.

  • You are gentle,  forgiving and kind to yourself.

  • You need not worry, if something can be done about a problem here and now, you will do it. Otherwise, you will let go of it.

  • You appreciate every moment of your life. You do not dwell on the dead past or the imagined future.

  • You love everyone unconditionally, including yourself.

  • You see everyone and everything around you as something that you can learn from.

  • You understand that to be upset over what you don't have is to waste what you do have.

Use the above affirmations on a daily basis. Maybe tape them to your bathroom mirror, keep it by your phone or maybe memorize one each day. Remember, you are worth it!.  To get yourself ready to listen to straight talk remember:

  • My thinking affects the way I feel

  • If I am unhappy about the way I am feeling, I need to change the way I am thinking

  • Is my thinking realistic, can I challenge my interpretation of how I am feeling?


We will have our group tomorrow; Monday September 27th, 2010 at 2p.m. PDT.

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19 - 26th, 2010


Last week we discussed 10 principles that would be quite effective for us to  govern our skills base. Let's look at the final two.

NO BLAME, NO SHAME - Being human is not easy. We have been endowed with the most sophisticated information gathering and processing system on earth - the brain. The potential of this system, which is nearly unlimited, is extremely difficult to harness and direct. Especially when considering the fact that we are attempting to do it by trial and error with no manual! Frustration and discouragement are natural and inevitable outcomes of attempting this nearly impossible task. Our expectations about what we and others should be capable of are often unrealistic. Like giving the keys of a car to an eight year old and expecting him to drive without bumping into trees, light poles, and other cars. Consciousness is not an easy vehicle to steer even with years of practice! Mistaking this difficulty to be "abnormal" can lead us to the erroneous conclusion that something must be wrong or someone must be at fault. We are all a "work in progress" doing the best we can with the genetic tendencies we've been handed, and skills and experiences we currently possess. Seeing ourselves and others with less judgement and more compassion and understanding is very useful. When we let go of finding fault or feeling guilty it frees us up to see more options for improvement.


WE DO IT TO OURSELVES - Everyone experiences distress or an undesirable emotional state from time to time. With certain exceptions of course, most of the distress we experience is inadvertently self-induced. That is, we unintentionally bring it upon ourselves. This is not because we are bad, broken, stupid, or ill; but because being human is not easy. We all long for security (certainty or control) and we all want to avoid pain (physical or emotional). Unfortunately, in our attempt to do this we often develop mental or behavioral tendencies that are less than skillful. As a result, we suffer negative consequences such as interpersonal conflict, physical harm, or unpleasant emotions (guilt, shame, frustration, anger, resentment, fear, etc.) Why would we do this?

  • We are unable to see our tendencies, or

  • We can see them but we do not know how to change them, or

  • We can see them, we do know how to change the, but we have not yet practiced enough to master alternatives.

This is actually good news. If the main reason we suffer is a result of our unskillful tendencies, then we have a recipe for success: 1) increase our ability to see how we inadvertently contribute to our own distress; 2) acquire the knowledge of how to do it differently; 3) patiently & persistently practice in order to develop the necessary skill.

Let's talk in-depth about all ten of these principles in tomorrows group!

Group will be held at 2p.m. PDT in the forum. We hope to see you there!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 12th – 19th, 2010


I want to talk about principles that govern our state of mind when we endeavor to live more effectively.  There is great wisdom in getting familiar with these 12 principles and understanding how they apply to your personal life's situation. I will cover 10 of them this week and the other 2, next week.

Please understand, the material I am going to discuss is not my own. It is not from Marsha Linehan, but it is from a group here in the Pacific Northwest. The aim of the group is to live your life mindfully whether there is a mental illness or not. Having said that, let's get right into them.

  1. SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL - Pain is inevitable;  it comes with the human experience. It is a very useful signal that something is out of balance and needs attention. What turns pain into suffering is struggling against it rather than listening to it and making necessary adjustments.

  2. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT - Whether we intend to or not, all day, every day we are reinforcing patterns of thought and behavior.  Positive change happens when we take conscious control of this habitual process and intentionally program patterns that work for us rather than against us.

  3. FEELINGS FOLLOW FOCUS - Both desirable and undesirable aspects of reality exist simultaneously; for better or worse, we experience that on which we focus (consciously or unconsciously) at any given moment.

  4. ASSOCIATIONS DRIVE BEHAVIOR - Consciously or unconsciously we tend to move toward things with which we associate pleasure and away from things with which we associate pain or discomfort.

  5. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED - Our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviours are all inextricably interrelated and constantly influence one another. We, as people, are inextricably interrelated with other people and the world, and constantly influencing one another. (Holistic)

  6. EVERYTHING IS IMPERMANENT - All things, from clouds to pyramids to emotions are in constant flux, continually forming or "un" forming, only the duration of the process is different.

  7. PURPOSE IS PARAMOUNT - Having a clearly defined goal or desired outcome (i.e. something meaningful toward which to point), is absolutely essential. Without it there is no way to measure the effectiveness of your current strategy. You cannot determine whether or not you are on the right track if you have not identified your destination. Being clear about our purpose also helps us to prioritize tasks as well as serves to motivate us to follow through when things are difficult.

  8. CURIOSITY IS CRUCIAL - Looking deeply and non-judgmentally into the way things work is absolutely necessary in order to see where we might be inadvertently perpetuating ineffective patterns. It also increases our ability to see where we can most effectively exert influence.

  9. PROGRESS vs. PERFECTION - The attainment of perfection is a frustrating and futile pursuit. More reasonable, realistic, and gratifying is to strive for growth and improvement.

  10. WHATEVER WORKS - In most cases, thinking in terms of effectiveness is more useful than thinking in terms of right/wrong, good/bad, or true/false. What is the measure of effectiveness? Basically, it will help you feel the way you want to feel, behave the way you want to behave, and achieve what you want to achieve, without undue negative consequences for yourself or others.  Ask yourself, "Does this action cause relief in the moment, but misery long term or induce target behavior?"

I will save the final two for next week because they are a bit more detailed than the others. More importantly though, I want us to have time to digest some of these. Get a handle on how, if used in your life, they would lo0k. What sort of changes can you see in your own thinking if you were to place these principles on your journey to recovery? The final two are; No Blame, No Shame & We do it to Ourselves. I thought I might send out their titles so that your brains can get going on what you might think they will look like. The last one is probably the hardest one to swallow, it is certainly worth considering in a mindful sort of way :)
Until next week then!

Group will be Monday, September 13th, 2010 @ 2p.m. PDT. We will discussing how our week went with removing certain phrases that reduce our effectiveness.  Please see the group forum for more details. We then will be adding to the list of words, phrases, self-talk that adds to our load, rather than taking away from our load.

Then we will have a group discussion about these principles mentioned above.


Monday, September 6, 2010

September 5th-12th, 2010

To everyone,

I apologize for no post yesterday! The week got away for me, and before I knew it I was heading to bed last night, without having posted!


We started the discussion on Stop, Breathe, Reflect and Choose last week. This week we will take a look at the last two.


  • Reflect on the fact that you have been "emotionally hijacked" by a self-protection system designed for speed over accuracy. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Your system is doing exactly what it is programmed to do. Emotional reactivity is a part of an automatic protection mechanism designed to defend against a perceived threat. You are neither your reaction, nor are you responsible for its existence. Once you become aware of it, however, and if you would like to reduce its negative impact, you are responsible for managing it.

  • Reflect on the question: What else could this mean? Before assigning mal-intent, ask yourself, what is really going on? Is this person really intending to hurt me or are they in the grip of an unconscious habitual reactive pattern?

  • Reflect on the fact that 'this is not that' and 'now is not then'. It might feel like a different situation but it is not. It might feel like the past, but it is not.

  • Reflect on awareness = options. Just becoming aware of it (objectively observing or non-judgmentally witnessing an habitual tendency) means you have disengaged from it enough to see it vs. being unconsciously controlled by it. As a result, you are empowered to make a choice. Without awareness we have no choices and without choices we are destined to unconsciously repeat well-worn habitual patterns.

  • Reflect on the fact that practice makes permanent. If I react the same way I will reinforce the pattern and get the same results. If I want to experience different results I am going to have to think or do something differently. (change the recipe)

  • Reflect on your desired outcome: What do I ultimately want? How do I want to feel? Is the way I am approaching this going to bring me closer to that?

  • Reflect on the need for an honest, non-judgmental appraisal rather than assigning blame, assuming guilt, or feeling shame. Notice, observe, witness objectively and impartially.

  • Reflect on the fact that everything is impermanent and this will pass.

  • Reflect on the fact that the outcome I am experiencing is a logical consequence of the various factors (causes and conditions) exerting influence upon me at this particular moment. Mix together flour, sugar, eggs, put it in a hot oven and you get a cake. If I want to experience a different outcome I need to change the recipe.

  • Reflect on the many and varied factors that influence your emotional state - time of the day, hunger, fatigue, stress, social setting, physical discomfort, over stimulation, and boredom, are but a few examples.

  • Reflect on the fact that we tend to inadvertently generate our own distress by holding onto unhelpful beliefs or perspectives.

  • Reflect on the fact that it is not circumstance that 'causes' emotional distress but the view we take of it. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.


  • Choose to respond reflectively vs. react reflexively (this goes back to Big Self vs. Little Self)

  • Choose to acknowledge, accept, and allow the emotion. Instead of resisting, fighting, running from it; turn toward it and embrace it as reality.

  • Choose to liberate yourself from the tyranny of your unconscious habitual patterns.

  • Choose to either take constructive action or look at things differently in order to decrease emotional suffering.

  • Choose to take responsibility for the quality of your inner state and experience.

  • Choose the best option under the circumstances. Given the way things are what can I do? Not what I would most like to do, that may not be possible in the moment.

  • Choose to challenge irrational or limiting beliefs.

  • Choose to practice radical compassion/acceptance/patience/trust.

  • Choose to reprogram the trigger that normally elicits contraction & tension, by softening and expanding.

  • Choose what you are going to do, not what you are going to make someone else do.

  • Choose to recalibrate your expectations so they more accurately reflect reality.

  • Choose to use humor and not take things so seriously.

  • Choose to act in alignment with your core values, purpose, or intended way of being.

  • Choose to write it down or talk to someone.

  • Choose to move, stretch, or change location.

  • Choose to emulate someone you respect and admire.

  • Choose to view this as training or conditioning. Use this as an opportunity to practice mastering the art of not disturbing yourself by generating unnecessary bodily tension or telling yourself an upsetting story.

  • Choose the true path to reduced suffering and increased inner peace by 1) taking skillful, constructive action that is within your control or 2) letting it go.

In review:

  • STOP perpetuating the cycle

  • BREATHE in & out

  • REFLECT on what is actually happening

  • CHOOSE something within your control

This week we will hold a group, however since I am posting this on Monday and the group is also today, it seems to be a moot point to post about the content of the group. If you would like to check it out, feel free to do so inside the FORUM.