Be Careful What You Say; You May Be Listening.

May 19, 2019

self-talk-designHow you communicate with others is important. How you talk with yourself is critical.

“You can think of self-talk as the inner voice equivalent of sports announcers commenting on a player’s successes or failures on the playing field. Unlike that sports commentary, which athletes never hear while they’re competing, you can actually “hear” what your self-talk is saying. When this is upbeat and self-validating, the results can boost your productivity. However, when the voice is critical and harsh, the effect can be emotionally crippling.”

— Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today

Ever wish you could predict the future? Now that would be a handy SuperPower. You will get a pretty good idea of where your mind is headed—and therefore your life—if you listen to the things you say to yourself. Self-talk is a compelling window into the conversation that goes on, constantly, between your subconscious and conscious minds. This conversation can affirm your strengths, or it can argue for your weaknesses. Because of the Negative Bias phenomenon, discussed in Chapter 8 of my book Ignite your Dormant Superpowers, most of these thoughts will probably be negative.

Let’s say you are at lunch with colleagues from work (in the year 2043) and the conversation moves to the 30th installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. You hated the movie and say so. You point out that the series was dead after the 5th sequel and that by the 30th, and after a hip and two knee replacements, Jack didn’t have to fake his drunken walk, and that pairing him with a 24-year-old love interest smacked of pedophilia. No one at lunch agrees. Most of them think that it was the best since the first installment. Self-talk kicks in:

Well, that was a stupid thing for me to say. I believe what I said, but everyone disagrees, and some even seem angry. If my boss hears of this, she’ll think I have a problem getting along with others. There goes my promotion. I really screwed up this time. Why can’t I just keep my opinions to myself?

By the time you finish with this internal conversation, you feel worse than Jack looks. You run to the kitchen, pop an antidepressant and chase it with a tall glass of wine.

Change the Dialog

The first step in turning your self-talk positive is awareness. Be aware of the conversation going on inside. When the negativity begins to flow—stop it. Silva Mind Control, a self-help and meditation program developed by José Silva in the 1960s, taught that when you hear the negative dialog starting up, you say, “cancel, cancel.” This is a triggering mechanism that tells your subconscious to cut the crap. You can then consciously direct the conversation to the positive—with affirmative self-talk like:

I’m glad I spoke up. That movie sucked. If my colleagues all liked it, fine, but I am welcome to my own opinion.

I am glad that I had the guts to voice my opinion. I’m sure that some of them hated it too but were afraid to say so. Speaking my mind demonstrates that I am an independent thinker, do not fear criticism and have leadership qualities that the company will respect.

Positive self-talk can lift you up, bolster self-confidence and strengthen your self-image. The critical thing to remember is that, even though this is a conversation, both sides are you. You are not just listening to these negative messages; you’re sending them. They are the doubts and fears that reside within your comfort zone.


Be Careful what you say; you may be listening.

March 24, 2019

How you communicate with others is important.

self talkHow you talk with yourself is critical.

Ever wish you could predict the future? Now that would be a handy SuperPower. You will get a pretty good idea of where your mind is headed—and therefore your life—if you listen to the things you say to yourself. Self-talk is a compelling window into the conversation that goes on, constantly, between your subconscious and conscious minds. This conversation can affirm your strengths, or it can argue for your weaknesses. Because of our natural Negative Bias, most of these thoughts will probably be negative.

Let’s say you are at lunch with colleagues from work (in the year 2043) and the conversation moves to the 30th installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. You hated the movie and say so. You point out that the series was dead after the 5th sequel and that by the 30th, and after a hip and two knee replacements, Jack didn’t have to fake his drunken walk, and that pairing him with a 24-year-old love interest smacked of pedophilia. No one at lunch agrees. Most of them think that it was the best since the first installment. Self-talk kicks in:

Well, that was a stupid thing for me to say. I believe what I said, but everyone disagrees, and some even seem angry. If my boss hears of this, she’ll think I have a problem getting along with others. There goes my promotion. I really screwed up this time. Why can’t I just keep my opinions to myself?

By the time you finish with this internal conversation, you feel worse than Jack looks. You run to the kitchen, pop an antidepressant and chase it with a tall glass of wine.

Change the Dialog

The first step in turning your self-talk positive is awareness. Be aware of the conversation going on inside. When the negativity begins to flow—stop it. Silva Mind Control, a self-help and meditation program developed by José Silva in the 1960s, taught that when you hear the negative dialog starting up, you say, “cancel, cancel.” This is a triggering mechanism that tells your subconscious to cut the crap. You can then consciously direct the conversation to the positive—with affirmative self-talk like:

I’m glad I spoke up. That movie sucked. If my colleagues all liked it, fine, but I am welcome to my own opinion.

I am glad that I had the guts to voice my opinion. I’m sure that some of them hated it too but were afraid to say so. Speaking my mind demonstrates that I am an independent thinker, do not fear criticism and have leadership qualities that the company will respect.

Positive self-talk can lift you up, bolster self-confidence and strengthen your self-image. The critical thing to remember is that, even though this is a conversation, both sides are you. You are not just listening to these negative messages; you’re sending them. They are the doubts and fears that reside within your comfort zone.

From chapter 10 of Ignite Your Dormant Superpowers by Steve Dickason

Available at Amazon or order from your favorite book store.    Image result for Buy Now button


Listen with Beginner’s Mind

March 2, 2019

beginners mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.” – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki. Also known as Suzuki Roshi, he founded the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and the San Francisco Zen Center.

You achieve a beginner’s mind by dropping all expectations and preconceived ideas—shutting off autopilot—and seeing things with an open mind and fresh eyes—like a beginner, like a child.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., offered this parable to describe beginner’s mind:  “Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar’s cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began spilling over onto the table, yet she kept pouring and pouring. The scholar burst out: ‘Stop! You can’t add anything to something that’s already full!’ The saint set down the teapot and replied, ‘Exactly.’”

Full-cup thinking is the process of prejudging what we see in the world so that we “know”—can act without analysis—without even listening or noticing the nuance that exists in everything and everyone. We “fill up” our comfort zone with beliefs that are the product of judgments we have made about the world and how it works.

In his discussion about “Beginner’s Mind,” Jack Kornfield, Buddhist teacher, and author, tells a story of Seung Sahn, a Korean Zen master who urged us to value what he called “don’t know mind.” He would ask his students questions such as: “What is love? What is consciousness? From where did life come? What is going to happen tomorrow?” Each time, the students would answer, “I don’t know.” “Good,” Seung Sahn replied. “Keep this ‘don’t know mind.’ It is an open mind, a clear mind.”

Here are some significant benefits of listening with “Don’t Know” or “Beginner’s Mind.”

Learning: You can’t learn anything while speaking. One of the most common mistakes humans make when communicating with one another is assuming that they know what the other is saying—but those assumptions are based on their unique experiences. If, on the other hand, we realize that we DO NOT know what the other is saying, we create a vacuum which they will happily fill. Create the vacuum by asking questions, then listen intently to the answers. Don’t interrupt. Don’t talk about your own experiences. Don’t interpret their words through your perceptual filters.

Build a Bond: When you ask questions and listen intently to the answers, you build a lasting bond. With the dismal state of communication today, feeling heard and understood is a rare experience. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who made you feel that your opinions and feelings were the most important things in the world to them at that moment? How did it make you feel? Did you want to spend more time with that person? Sure. We all like to think that our opinions count, or that they should at least be listened to and taken seriously. When they are not, we feel discounted, put down, perhaps angry and darn right crappy. When someone is apparently not interested in what you have to say, how much time do you want to spend on them? That’s a rhetorical question.

Better relationships: If you are always comparing what others say to what you believe, based on your stored belief system, you will experience frustration and disappointment because they aren’t meeting your ideal, your expectations. The person you are speaking with will feel criticized and diminished. If instead, you look at others with fresh eyes, open to the fact that they are not you—that they have had an entirely different stream of experiences—it transforms your relationship. You see that they are just navigating down the river of life and encountering as many challenges and hardships as you. Instead of a contest, life becomes a collaboration.

Less anxiety: If you are anxious about an upcoming interaction with someone—instead of worrying about how and whether you will convince them to accept your point of view—open yourself up to being curious about what will happen, let go of your preconceived ideas about the outcome and instead embrace not knowing. Embrace being present and be thankful in the moment for what you’re doing and who you’re meeting.

When we abandon our need to know, we are free to listen and learn.


Time for a Change?

February 19, 2019

ChangeMany have made the mistake of trying to change circumstances rather than changing themselves; this flawed tactic is sometimes called the “geographic cure.” My 35-year career as a real estate office manager was like a masters course in human behavior. Real estate agents are a very mobile sales force: every year a high percentage of agents change brokers. Their business falls off due to the economy, rising interest rates, too many bad hair days, a sudden interest in daytime soaps, early-onset narcolepsy or whatever, so they decide that changing where they work will somehow energize them—“take my career to the next level.”

You probably know someone who moves from job to job, career to career, but never seems to experience an increase in their income or sense of accomplishment. The problem with changing where they work, where they live, or what career they pursue is that it prevents them from effecting real, lasting change—change that can only come from within. Thus the saying:

“No Matter Where You Go, There You Are.” —The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

You can’t escape yourself by running. You can change your circumstances, your location, your profession, your friends, but wherever you go and whatever you do, there you are. And if you are not willing to change, to adapt, to learn, no matter where you go, you will do whatever it takes to perpetuate the status quo, replicate your old environment, no matter how dysfunctional.

Dr. Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, once had a man who lived on the East Coast ask him, “What are people like in California?” To which Dr. Carlson responded, “What are people like in New York?” The man answered, “They’re greedy and selfish.” Dr. Carlson told the man that he would probably find the people in California also to be greedy and selfish. Why? Our judgments, beliefs, perceptions, and habits do not change just because of a change in location or circumstance—we carry them with us.

Okay, if you’re not yet convinced that change must come from within, here are the words of some people you may have heard of:

Gandhi said:  “If you choose to change your world, begin with yourself.” “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

And from Neville Goddard (1905-1972), a prophet, profoundly influential teacher and author:  “Good news! If you don’t like what you’re manifesting, you can change your mind about who you are.”

Not yet convinced? Let’s try Einstein—scientist, spiritualist, and well-known brilliant guy:  “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Let’s add some international flavor since WE ARE A COUNTRY OF IMMIGRANTS! This is from the Persian poet, Rumi:  “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

Okay, one more, since we are trying to improve relations with Russia, from Tolstoy:  “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Deciding what you want out of life is essential. But you will only achieve your desires when they are congruent with who you think you are (your self-concept). Changing your world is an inside job.


MAKE FEAR YOUR FRIEND

February 7, 2019

Fear SeymoreOne way to become less of a slave to fear is to develop a conscious relationship with it. Talk with fear as if it was another person. You can even name it—let’s use Seymour.

“Thank you, Seymour. I appreciate that warned me not to pet that rabid dog. However, we need to talk about this fear of talking with strangers. It was useful when I was five, walking home from school—you kept me safe, and I do appreciate that. But now I’m a thirty-year-old real estate agent going broke because I’m afraid to speak to strangers about selling their homes. Time for an adjustment, dude.”

This may sound silly to you but try it. And remember, fear is not a real thing; it doesn’t exist in nature. It is you. It is your way of protecting yourself when you’ve decided you need protection. No more than that.

Now that you and Seymour are getting tight, notice how you become increasingly aware of his presence. Something doesn’t work out the way you want or expect, and the inner trash talk begins. Why did I say that? I’m sure my client is going to kill the sale now, which means no mortgage payment next month. I may even have to start drinking cheap wine, God forbid!  When life fails to meet our expectations, we tend to snap to negative, insecure thinking. Unchecked, negative, fear-based thoughts can spiral out of control, leaving us agitated, in no position to take command of the situation and solve the problem.

The solution to this downward spiral is to listen to the conversation you’re having with Seymour before it gains too much momentum. Recognize it for what it is—you talking to you in a manner that you have decided. You are Seymour’s scriptwriter. Heck— You are Seymour!


Time To Act!

January 31, 2019

I’m re-blogging this little article I wrote in 2011. It seems appropriate for the start of a new year:

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.—William B. Sprague

act-nowThis is not the time to listen to the news and worry about whether the economy is in recovery or not. Turn off your TV sets! Set down your newspaper!

It is time to stop wondering, worrying, discussing, analyzing, listening.

It is time to take action! Who cares how “the market” is doing? You are not the market. You are the only you to ever walk the planet, an individual with unique talents, skills, motivations, desires, feelings, abilities. You are special!

The only question you should ever ask is, “How am I doing?” And the answer can only be found in your actions. Today, act as if you have no doubts, as if success were hiding right around the corner, so close that you can smell it. Take a leap of faith – dare to risk being called an optimist. Someone will have to be prepared to loan money to the pessimists.

 


Remain CALM in The Eye Of The Storm

January 29, 2019

Detach from the emotional chaos surrounding an issue, focus on the actual problem, and access your creativity and problem- solving abilities.

hurricaneThere is a calm in the center of hurricanes—the eye. The most violent and dangerous winds are those immediately surrounding the eye—as if the most intense, chaotic motion is attracted to this harbor of calm. Within your metaphorical eye— your center—you will find the power to shelter yourself and others from the raging human storm. Creativity and problem- solving abilities are most readily available when you remain detached from the swirling drama. It is hard to see clearly when you are lured out of the eye and into the human storm. It is difficult to be creative when focused on the chaos around you, and nearly impossible to be present.

Staying grounded can be a bit challenging when your 14- year-old daughter tells you that she is getting a tattoo, dying her hair green and wants to sleep with her boyfriend. Or when you take your car in for its regular maintenance and are told that you need new brakes, a new transmission and tires, so what you expected would cost $100 is now up to $5,000. Or your partner sits you down and tells you, in a panic, that he has run your credit cards up over $100,000 and wants you to declare bankruptcy.

But isn’t it selfish to lounge in the eye while people in the storm are crying for help? No! When a challenging problem arises, and those around you are freaking out, the last thing they need is for you to join them in their freak-out dance. They need a cool head who can come up with creative solutions. They need your undistracted best.