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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.