Emotional Control in the Face of Frustration

 

1301 Relax and Succeed - Emotional Control in the Face of Frustration 2

Here’s a reasonable question that hit me last month: why did I get up extra early to get my work completed so I could drive in -34C (-29F) to pick up my father on a day where he did not need a ride?

Finding out that I was actually a day early can be the kind of thing that can lead us to revisit the extra early wake-up and the cold drive and feel angry about losing sleep, not to mention for freezing for no good reason. Very cold weather makes angry thoughts easy to produce.

Doing those disappointment and frustration-based calculations makes sense to almost everyone. But wisdom suggests we stop and ask ourselves if our initial reaction is truly helpful in the situation we’re in. So that’s our assignment this week: to mitigate our common negative reactions with deeper understanding

Take each day and the most frustrating part about it, and then track back to why it that thing bothered us more than other things. We will find that we held some expectation that was not being met.

The question is, what was our unreasonable expectation? Collect enough awareness regarding our expectations and we become able to recognize them in operation and then work around them.

If we’re not blaming others we can use the energy we would have expended on blame to instead fuel more productive action.

Understand that the issue can still bother us, we can even have a burst of blame before we settle. But by understanding that our feelings are logical and sensible means they are less painful to own and we’re less likely to blame –or hold on to blame placed on– the other people involved in our frustration. It simply makes no sense to do that to them because we know we’re reacting out of the logic of who we are and what we are facing.

If we’re not blaming others we can use the energy we would have expended on blame to instead fuel more productive action.

Logically it shouldn’t surprise us that people who hate being afraid will be particularly bad when things are scary, or that shy people will be uncomfortable in crowds. That’s not something going wrong, that’s something making sense.

Likewise, if we have an expectation that we will never behave as though it is the wrong day of the week, or that winter in Edmonton won’t be cold at times, then we would be defying common experiences many have already had. But if we accept that those are mistakes people commonly make, then when it happens to us, we can be half-ready.

1301 Relax and Succeed - The more we do anything

In my case, upon arrival I was fairly quickly informed that I had the wrong day. This is where a flash of frustrated anger sparked my conscious attention. I could feel the pang of that frustration in my gut and I did a check-in. What was I thinking about? Two phrases: So I froze for nothing, and; I’m an idiot who really could have used that sleep.

Okay, so now I can add to my problem by continuing to think about comparing my morning to a warmer one where I remembered what day it was, or I can accept I made this weird decision and ask why.

Once we get good at it, it doesn’t take long to track why, which is why a week’s worth of examples will be helpful. The more we do anything the better we get at doing it.

In my case, I had a big day on that Thursday with some big meetings and a rare visit with a friend, so I spent most of Tuesday organizing life so I could make that Thursday work. So since that Tuesday, I’d primarily thought about and dealt with, Thursday.

Knowing how the brain works, I knew I had essentially ‘primed’ the idea of Thursday in my mind so it would be the most prominent day in my imagination. I even dreamed about Thursday on Tuesday night, which is partly why I woke up under the presumption that it was Thursday.

Do you see how those events took me out of now? I was so focused on future thoughts about how Thursday might play out that I wasn’t actually listening to the radio or noticing the many clues that it was Wednesday that day. Having an expectation and rushing my thoughts into Thursday meant I was blind and deaf on Wednesday.

Seeing the logical sense in what I did, I accepted that that is what a brain will do, and the entire issue was left to die in the past and I lost any sense of frustration. I just had some toast with Dad and headed back to start writing this.

See? In the end, it was even a gift, because I needed an example exercise for this blog. Funny how the world works out.

Go from now and until next Monday try to find your way out of frustration by truly understanding and accepting how easily you got there. You’ll know if you’ve truly understood the innocence of your sources because then the acceptance part is easy. We can hardly blame ourselves for making sense.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your day!

peace. s

Those Kids Today

1216 Relax and Succeed - We don't grow when things aren't easyIt’s pretty rare when I reblog and it’s always for a really good reason. With kids back to school, and parents and children struggling more than they ever have, it’s important to focus things down to their essence. Toronto Occupational Therapist Victoria Prooday writes a blog and it’s not surprising that this was one of her most popular.

For those who can see this subject clearly, her recommendations will look like simple common sense. But in a world where parents, teachers and children feel pulled in a million directions by a million marketers, educators, administrators, and websites all saying different things, it becomes difficult to tell what really counts. But if you want a healthy adult capable in the maximum number of situations, this is excellent advice.

Why are our children so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends?

I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher’s message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my ten years as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.

1216 Relax and Succeed - Victoria Prooday replacement

Today’s children come to school emotionally unavailable for learning, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why:

  1. Technology

Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner.  We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring. When kids come to the classroom, they are exposed to human voices and adequate visual stimulation as opposed to being bombarded with the graphic explosions and special effects that they are used to seeing on the screens. After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide. The inability to process lower levels of stimulation leaves kids vulnerable to academic challenges. Technology also disconnects us emotionally from our children and our families. Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain. Unfortunately, we are gradually depriving our children of that nutrient.

  1. Kids get everything they want the moment they want

“I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!”   The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions — to make our children happy — but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term.  To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life.

The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores the moment the child hears “No” because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away.

  1. Kids rule the world

“My son doesn’t like vegetables.” “She doesn’t like going to bed early.” “He doesn’t like to eat breakfast.” “She doesn’t like toys, but she is very good at her iPad” “He doesn’t want to get dressed on his own.” “She is too lazy to eat on her own.” This is what I hear from parents all the time. Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed. What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive.  In addition, we send them the wrong message.  They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. The concept of “need to do” is absent. Unfortunately, in order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do.  For example, if a child wants to be an A student, he needs to study hard. If he wants to be a successful soccer player, he needs to practice every day. Our children know very well what they want, but have a very hard time doing what is necessary to achieve that goal. This results in unattainable goals and leaves the kids disappointed.

  1. Endless Fun

We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.  When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.

  1. Limited social interaction

We are all busy, so we give our kids digital gadgets and make them “busy” too. Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills.  Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time.  Also, technology made the parents less available to socially interact with their kids. Obviously, our kids fall behind… the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills. Most successful people have great social skills. This is the priority!

The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach him patience.  If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!

1216 Relax and Succeed - Parents only have 2 jobsTRAIN YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN

You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:

1. Limit technology, and re-connect with your kids emotionally

Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights

Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening

2. Train delayed gratification

Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”

Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead teach them waiting while talking and playing games

Limit constant snacking

3. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!

Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time

Think of what is GOOD for them- not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.

Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoor and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!

Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games

4. Teach your child to do monotonous work from early years as it is the foundation for future “workability”

Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed

Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.

5. Teach social skills

Teach them turn taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others, using “please and thank you.”

From my experience as an occupational therapist, children change the moment parents change their perspective on parenting. Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!

*****

I see it all the time in my own work. Mental illness and stress are up. What we’re doing isn’t working. This is what will. If you’re anywhere near Toronto and are having trouble with your own children or you’re aware of others who are, considering sharing this and going to see Victoria’s team. Because whatever you see in your toddler or pre-teen will be amplified as they age, and both you and your children will be the ones living with the consequences of any maturing that hasn’t been achieved.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

 

The Rise of Anger

It comes in two ways. The first is swift and sharp. If you’re quick you’re on edge. You’ve been chemically rattled. Maybe it’s too much emotion for too long, or maybe too little, or maybe not enough sleep, or hanger (hunger-based anger). These are all common major contributors to quick swipes of meanness between either loved ones or strangers. Treat those more like signals and figure out how you need to get comfortable, and then either sleep or eat.

The nice thing about quick anger is it usually passes fast. Even we’re a little alarmed by our reaction. It came out of nowhere (nature) for us too. So once it settles, learn to go apologize right away. It helps if people understand the difference between simmering anger and a flash. That way next time they might lovingly suggest you eat or rest. But even if they don’t; it’s good to get good at giving apologies to those who are bad at accepting them.

There are also those times where your anger still rises quite quickly on some particular news or event, but it’s not a sudden irrational chemical reaction. These are things you’re rationally upset about. These are things you can explain to the person you’re mad at. You know, those how could you do that!? what took you so long?! what were you thinking!? things.

This latter type of anger can very nearly be avoided altogether. Quick anger is a type of pain. It’s unavoidable given a set of circumstances. Anyone feeling your chemistry wouldn’t like it. But suffering is when we choose to do it–when it’s optional. That’s anger other people might not have in the same situation. That’s because they’d have a different narrative.

Suffering is an ego-action and that takes a narrative. The narrative needs us to populate it with language. Language is something we learned, so it is post-now. It’s us describing a moment ago, not living that moment now. So the fact that we can explain our anger is a sign that it’s egocentric.

The suffering is a narrative which would would include elements like an expectation or two, an attachment or three, and maybe a few beliefs about propriety bouncing around in there too. Well just like it takes me energy to write these words it takes us energy to think a narrative to ourselves. So we’re actually investing energy in our own suffering.

The trick with this sort of suffering is that we get caught up in the whirlwind of our own thoughts. We start being the thoughts instead of remembering we’re the thinker. But if we’re the bike and not the rider, then how do we stick anything in spokes to stop the wheels from spinning? Usually there’s a crash before we remember that we’re a rider on a bike and not the bike itself. We have to learn to feel when we’re peddling.

It’s an expenditure of energy. That energy can create the narrative that’s pissing us off, or it can absorb the world in a way where all of our senses blend together into one giant, wonderful awareness. How we invest it is up to us. But we’re not failing when we put our energy into a narrative. Narratives exist. Without an out there is no in. Just don’t keep yourself there by building yet another narrative about having created a narrative that took you there in the first place. Just let it all go and dive into awareness instead. That’s how you find your way back. Quiet.

We all need to be more tolerant about people’s sharp moments. They need our patience and care. And when we’re wound up ourselves, we have to watch for opportunities to divert or steal energy from our angry, ultimately fearful, narratives, because otherwise that’s when we’ll do damage to our lives.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Ugly Confession

Dear Diary,

You know what hurts so bad? It’s all my fault. I know I said it wouldn’t happen again, but it’s my period and my thoughts got the better of me and I–wait. No. I know I can’t say that. Those are my thoughts, they’re my responsibility. But whatever. I thought them and they hurt so leave me alone!!

(I just want to quickly note here that Welsh boys have beautiful square jaws. I had not noticed this before today, but there are two guys in our chem class and they’re from Wales and they are h-o-t. I digress.)

So, I saw Dave sitting with this girl. This woman. I know I probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Yes. My thoughts drove me to do that too. My thoughts. Yes. My responsibility. Okay. So I guess what I’m saying Dear Diary is that I had a choice to go bra shopping with my sister, and I need bras, and instead I drove across town to stalk my own boyfriend.

I am so grateful that diaries do not have eyes to stare at me in shame.What good could come of an emotional girl alone in a car with her worried thoughts? I. Should. Have. Known. But no, I went in. Yes Dear Diary. I went in.

Of course she had the audaciousness to be gorgeous. Just what I needed. For my boyfriend to be having meetings with an accountant who looks like Beyonce. I feel sick. I thought this shit ended when I was a teenager.

For the first time in my life I’m too ashamed to tell you what I did. It’s that bad. It’s U-N-F-O-R-G-I-V-A-B-L-E. It was awful for her, it was awful for him, it was awful for anyone who even saw it happen. And here’s the best part….

It wasn’t a romantic lunch.

That was his boss’s daughter. I called him a two-timing cheat–I told her he beat his dog! Have I lost my mind? Why would I say something like that? I was just so…. MAD. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. Mad because of my thinking. I couldn’t have been mad about her. She was trying to help him. And do you know the worst part? She was nice. Super really truly nice. I #*&%ing hate that.

So there I was, without you, on the weekend, with Dave. I can’t write to you, I can’t get these feelings out, and I am just avoiding too much eye contact with Dave because I have no idea what to say. What do you say after something like that? What do you say to your own girlfriend when by 22 she has totally destroyed your career and your life?

I know. You would think he would want to dump me in the street. But do you know what he did? He told me he’d never seen me this quiet before. And so he sat down with me and he asked if it was about what happened with Tina (her). I told him I was afraid if we started talking that he would break up with me. That seemed to really hurt him knowing that and he hugged me.

He told me I was horrible. He reminded me of times I was horrible before. And he told me he didn’t want to live with me doing things like that for the rest of his life–BUT… he also thinks I’m the most beautiful thing in the world and he wants to be with me forever!!!!!!!

CAN YOU BE-LIEVE THAT!????????He said he loves me. Not just good me. And he knows loving bad me is harder. but he loves all of me anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. He loves all of me, including the horrible parts. He loves my horrible parts because their they’re mine!!!! Can you believe that?????

If there was ever a man to learn to control my own thoughts with it’s this one. If he can love me like that then I want to love him like that back. Can you imagine how that would feel!!!!????

I have to stop speculating and live in the now. I just don’t want to wake up one day and he’s with someone else–Okay. Oops!!! There’s the future right there. Sorry. I guess I’ll just keep this in mind and do it moment by moment.

Do you think that one day I could forgive myself and love myself the way he loves me? Dave’s self-love doesn’t feel egotistical it feels like respect. Maybe I should start there. Tomorrow I’m going to treat myself with respect. And I guess not having to be perfect means I can at least relax into being me. I just wish “me” hadn’t ruined Beyonce’s dress like that. I’m so sorry Dave. I’ll think less and love more. I promise.

peace-out. Dave’s <3 Love <3

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #98

For the majority of people, What the Bleep Do We Know? can be a profoundly informative film, although admittedly a smaller percentage can find it frustratingly confusing. It’s the fear of physics that throws people but there’s no physics in this portion. This plays into this week’s discussion about your Dominant Emotion. Don’t criticize yourself for what it is–that only makes it worse. None are good none are bad. You simply need to know yours and you also need to know that emotion for anyone you love. Here’s how it happens:

If you haven’t seen the film I would highly recommend it. The title above links to their site. They worked hard and deserve to be paid for that work so if you do decide to watch the entire film I hope you do so in a way that benefits the film’s creators.

Know yourself. Don’t criticize yourself. Just know yourself. And no matter what it is you know, you’re worthwhile and so is your life. We’ll work more on that on Monday. For now just enjoy your weekend!

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Basic Choices

749 Relax and Succeed - We were all humans

This one day, I look out my back window and I see a guy I’ve never seen before and he’s hurling my neighbour’s blue bag contents all over the alley. This is somewhat ironic considering that the blue bag is where we’re supposed put things that are designed to be recycled because they can very easily be re-purposed.

I walked out and said a friendly hello but the guy was immediately concerned. Many homeowners will immediately assume a person has no morals because they have no home. I don’t think that, plus—even if he is a total jerk—I’m at least smart enough to make friends with any potential troublemakers in my neighbourhood.

Many people live on the street because of a mental illness or a lack of self control manifested as hostility. They get cared for up until eighteen and then —boom— now they live on our streets, with us. This guy isn’t mentally ill but I do know he has a bad temper problem from previous experience, so I’m not surprised that he blows up when I nicely ask him to just put the stuff back in the bag when he’s done.

“What are you going to do, make me do it?”

“Make you do it? What? You mean physically force you? You think I would fight you over recycling? Dude. You do bad math. It would be infinitely easier for me to just re-load the bag myself than it would be to fight you, even if I beat you the first punch…. then police and jail and losing work. And that’s if I win the fight. That blows me away. You don’t look like you’re jonesing and I know you well enough from the diner that I know you aren’t mentally ill. Is that quick temper the only reason you’re out here?”

“Fuck you.”749 Relax and Succeed - For every minute you are angry“Yeah, that the anger I meant. What’s that for? I’m trying to be nice.” I’m still really calm. I start putting the stuff back in the bag. I’m acting almost offended because that will be unexpected and it’ll force him to rethink things to try to figure it out. I continue.

“You whip that anger out at strange times buddy. I get that it can be useful to protect ourselves sometimes, but I’m a pretty nice and helpful guy. Your angry approach makes you treat me like an enemy. What, is all that just out of habit? Is this what frustration or a lack of trust looks like for you?” I point to the bag as a reference. “Anyone who loses track of their choices is going to lose track of their life.”

“I’m not angry, people are fucking dumb.”

“That is what most angry people assume, yes. We all think that sometimes. And it’s true. I myself am an excellent representative of being fucking dumb sometimes.” I can tell he’s got a lot of us-and-them going on. He sees me as above him so I take the opportunity to mimic his language and concede some weakness. “I am fucking dumb so much more regularly than I’d like. But hey, we all have our thing right? That’s my thing. That’s my version of your anger. That’s my dumb choice.”

He starts to help with the bag. “I don’t choose being angry.” He says it angrily, but there we go. Now at least we’re rolling.749 Relax and Succeed - Remember thisI slowly look over at him like he’s crazy. “Uhh, duhhh. If it’s not you choosing it who is?” I can see he doesn’t have a good answer. “Dude, everyone’s got a personality and a personality is nothing more than a collection of how we respond to life. Tortured people try to make challenges go away. Being healthy just means accepting that crap and finding the best way available. I agree. It sucks a lot of times, but that’s how it works. I’ve never met the person who thinks their life went all-good. But your responses are in your control. You can still accomplish a lot with that. You can be less angry.”

He challenged me. “And you think my problem’s anger…?” It took me a second to realize he meant it as a question hidden by pride.

“I just don’t get why you would chemically torture your own mind by thinking such angry thoughts when there’s a zillion other things you could have thought of instead. I mean it’s not like the angry thoughts or words ever changed anything right? Or if they do they were most likely to change me from coming out to be nice to me feeling threatened, which doesn’t do you any good. Angry thoughts just get the angry brain chemistry flowing. We all do it, but you can’t blame people for thinking it’s a little strange that you would pick that response so often. Sure, occasionally. But not all the time. Not out of habit.”

“It’s not my fault, people are fucking assholes.”749 Relax and Succeed - Today was the absolute worst day“Duh. Do you think? I just told you I’m one pretty routinely. You are too.” I motion to the alley around us where the stuff was scattered. “But what? You figure you’re the only person who has to deal with that? No offense buddy but it’s time to put on your big-boy pants. You’re not talking about avoiding assholes, you’re talking about avoiding life.

“I’m on the road every day with assholes who aren’t even looking at the road. Sometimes I even have to pick up recycling that some asshole has hurled around my alley for no good reason.” He’s quiet until we’re done. He just stands there as I re-tie the bag and put it back.

He very obviously has a question but isn’t sure how to ask it so I kill a ton of time tying. Finally he speaks. “I can’t help it if I’m angry.”

“Look buddy I’m seriously sympathetic. I am. I’m sure some ugly experiences lead you to use that for protection and I’m sorry whatever that shit was ever happened. But again: you pick how you feel. Don’t be less angry for other people. Be that way for you. The world won’t need to punish you for it. The being angry part is the punishment.”

Almost as an afterthought I add, “You need to get more aware of how you’re choosing to feel.” I say this like it’s some key everyone got that he somehow missed out on. And this works because I know he genuinely feels that the rest of us have some special thing inside us that he doesn’t –so many homeless have told me that.

If he’s like them, he’ll want to know the thing that keeps us off the street. The thing that he’s missing. The thing that keeps him down. So for maybe the first time I feel he’s really listening, like it’s now just a plain old conversation between equals. He finally says, “Pick how I feel..?”

“Yeah, you know –using your emotions. That’s what they’re for.” I’m casual as hell because I’m lying. What I’m telling him is actual what enlightened people do, which is currently a tiny percentage of the population. But hey, why make him just functional when we can make him healthy? So I tell him this is what “people” do.

749 Relax and Succeed - If you listen to your body“Getting angry feels crappy, right? The crappy part is what’s telling you to stop thinking the crappy thoughts. That’s why I’m confused. It’s a pretty simple system and you almost function as though someone never explained that part to you before. If it feels painful, stop doing it/thinking it/saying it. Even if we’re just talking to ourselves. If the thoughts hurt we should stop thinking them. Suffering = stop thinking. If you try it and practice it, it’s pretty easy. I’m sure you can do it.”

By this point I’ve made my point and he needs to keep his pride, so I can’t leave him to exit the conversation or he’ll have to rise back up again somehow to prove he’s stronger and that’s what I’m trying to avoid, so I end it. “Hey, look, uh… I’d like to keep talking but I’ve got a friend who’s gonna show up right away. Thanks for the help with the bag. Have a good one buddy.” I shake his hand which really surprises him. As I head back to the house he waves and says a nice goodbye.

Every time I’ve seen him since he’s looked a bit less angry and at the very least he’s always nice to me. And I’m sympathetic because we’re all variations of him. We all have some simple choice we could make that would massively change our lives. The question is, what is it and do we feel it’s really worth it for us to change it?

Figure that out and if it’s really worth it, then whenever we can we should just make that choice instead of what we were choosing and we should practice that until its our new habit. Voila. And yes, it really is that easy. It’s staying conscious of the choosing that’s the trick because emotions can blind us to our wisdom.

So, knowing that, let’s all go have an awesome day as much as we’re able, let’s try not to hurl our emotions towards others for no good reason. When we can, let us lead by example. And let’s all appreciate the roofs over our heads. Many in this world are not so fortunate.

peace. s

Review: Inside Out

Many friends have seen this movie—and several (particularly those who have studied with me or who are similarly minded) were very interested in what I thought as both a screenwriter and as a teacher of the Principles of Human Experience. Fortunately my brother and I were racing the car at the Nationals this weekend and while we were there a good friend told me she wanted to see the movie again and so we decided right then to go together.

734 Relax and Succeed - Inside outShe had loved her first viewing and noticed a lot more contributing details on the second viewing. I was very impressed with how well it was put together and I found the symbolism and message to be quite good, especially considering the limitations of the medium.

Keep in mind: there is no such thing as a good or bad movie. There are ones you like and ones you don’t. So no one is wrong if they didn’t enjoy this film. But from a professional screenwriting perspective it’s very tightly and effectively structured, its characters are consistent and are weaved with such skill by writers Pete Docter and Reonaldo Del Carmen that they serve the plot quite naturally. As we were leaving the theatre several people remarked that it seemed to be over very quickly and we felt the same way despite it being a traditional length—that’s always a good sign.

I loved a lot of the details, like how the memory storage banks held moments rather than stretches of time. I also liked they were organized like a brain structure, and how the ladders up them looked like DNA. There were so many contributing elements, including even more abstract things like the particular types of memories that children both lose and abandon and why. I also liked how it addressed how our current emotions will impact and colour our recollection of past events.

734 Relax and Succeed - Somtimes the thingMaybe even more impressive was each character’s demonstration of a dominant trait—a primary filter or emotion through which the world first passes before being optioned to other possible reactions. This is our default reaction to the world. In the daughter it was Joy, the mother Sadness and the father Anger and these would be how a large percentage of children perceive western childhoods: Dad’s seem busy and mad all the time because of mistakes we’ve made, and Mom’s appear to never want to play and they’re always disappointed we didn’t do something or other exactly the way they wanted.

Another nice touch was the use of the individual characters played in multiple heads. There were many looks for each emotion but the daughter’s Sadness looked just like her mother’s, while her Fear and Anger looked just like her father’s—illustrating the point that we inherit our traits and personalities from the dominant traits of our parents and/or the people that raise us. And, if saw correctly, especially clever was the fact that in any head where you saw Anger you also saw his partner Fear.

Mild spoiler alert—I may give away some later plot details that will give away the ending here, so if you haven’t seen it you may want to save the rest for afterwards.

My favourite aspect was the transition at the climax, when Joy comes to understand and then employ the value of Sadness. That is when the audience—and thankfully many children—are presented with the idea that sadness has value and should not be dismissed from life, and Joy’s role helps to nicely reflect the experience and growth happening within the audience member.

735 Relax and Succeed - Let it BeIn the denouement it was quite fitting that the film set up the notion that it’s not a tragedy when we change our core beliefs. That is the growth I often talk about in this blog as happening every 7-9 years, and of course Joy is I believe nine years old in the film. It is when we fundamentally shift how we see the world and how we understand it and our place in it.

Over the years we establish and fortify a new set of beliefs more appropriate to who we currently are. And again in 7-9 years we’ll tear down those core beliefs and build another set refined by new experiences. It is very healthy for people to see that process as natural. We shouldn’t get angry when things get tumultuous. We should get excited.

This film probably won’t blow kids away in theatres. But I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it becomes an important part of future realizations for decades to come. Just as Wall-E informed a generation about the external environment, Inside Out is informing a generation about a healthy internal environment.

I found this to be an excellent film on virtually every level and I highly recommend seeing it. It’s funny that parents worry when their kids become artists. And yet artists are who despotic leaders lock up first, because they’re also the people who change the world in subtle ways. Like the ways in which this film will change the stigma around being sad and how it will instill that our emotions are within our control. That’s important stuff.

Five thumbs up.

peace. s

Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Health

People don’t make much sense. We worry about unlikely things and ignore very likely ones. We’re more focused on fangs than poison. We worry about plane crashes when our cars are fantastically more dangerous. People worry about their kids being abducted by a violent stranger and that’s about as likely as a lightning strike, and yet they’ll let them eat enough transfat to essentially guarantee adult heart trouble. This kind of blindness also has a 683 Relax and Succeed - You don't become a new version of yourselfmanifestation when it comes to our mental, emotional and spiritual health.

People will spend a lot of money on exercise equipment, gym memberships, work-out clothing and they will dedicate a lot of time to either buttressing their ego or increasing their physical health, or much more likely some ratio of each. People will pay more for organic foods, they will even spend considerable amounts on things like auto maintenance. They’ll do all that but they won’t consider investing in their own peace of mind. And I don’t just mean the money, more importantly I mean the time—as in dedicating a portion of their life to actually trying to develop their spirit along with their corporeal body.

Learning to be mentally healthier, more emotionally in control and spiritually more peaceful is all quite easy as long as the explanations and the actions that follow are clear enough. I’m very verby when I work. People are given specific things to do that make a difference. The ones that do it are 100% successful because if you do it you will be successful. The others do it during the course but get lazy. They don’t practice their mental health, emotional control or spirituality. But if you simply do it the results are immediate.

683 Relax and Succeed - I love you I really doDoing it is what proves that we’ve been paying attention to the wrong version of reality.  So we’re constantly pushing the wrong buttons and getting the wrong results. From this new perspective your former suffering becomes obvious and almost silly. You’re not even mad at yourself because you totally get why you couldn’t see it before. It’s so easy to do. It’s like the visual reference I make about logos in a previous blog. What you see depends on what you look for.

Even the facebook page, the Twitter and tumblr feeds, and the Pinterest pins are all designed to be very practical. The feeds are useful if you’re serious about developing yourself psychologically and spiritually—because in the end those things are all part of one thing anyway. To gain we must become more conscious. To become more conscious we must become more mindful. To become more mindful we must regularly use the real us to check in on the ego us to see what it’s doing. You have to be someone so don’t panic if your actions aren’t 100% productive. You can’t really do anything wrong. But once you’re looking out the windshield it’s a lot easier to steer to avoid unnecessary trouble.

683 Relax and Succeed - We can let the circumstancesThere will always be suffering in the world and once you understand reality well you’ll see why. It’s quite important to the very existence of the universe. But we still volunteer for way too much of it and it’s not that hard to fix that. But you have to be mindful. So if you’ll go to a gym, if you’ll jog or alter your diet in difficult in painful ways, then consider coming and reading 700 words for three minutes of your time every day. And actually check out the statuses or tweets and truly check in each day to see where your mind is at. Do that and it will become a healthy habit.

To succeed in any meaningful way you need to raise your consciousness. You need to raise it to the point where you’re fully aware that that is where you really live.

Here’s to you noticing yourself a really great day. 😉

peace. s

Other Perspectives #3

306 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Words don't have power

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

The Pebble in Your Shoe

Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year #7

The journey through your life is comprised of individual steps. These Moments are each distinct and unique aspects of the universe, but you will use your consciousness to string those individual steps together into what you call the journey of your life. So to be unforgiving is like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Each step of your journey you re-remind yourself that you are in pain. And rather than stopping and removing the pebble from the shoe of your conscious identity, you instead continue on, getting angrier and angrier at the pebble.

129 Relax and Succeed - A lof of the pain that we areSo it also goes with love. If you look for your former lover’s face in every passing stranger, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you constantly think about how you were wronged in the past by someone or some institution, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you watch the world for the next impending disaster, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you hate someone for teasing or abusing you, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you focus on your spouse’s key faults rather than their key strengths, then those faults will be pebbles in your shoe.

Don’t be upset by the pebbles themselves. They will have gotten into your shoe by nature. There’s no way to avoid them. Just the act of walking will kick some up, and every now and then one will make it inside the shoe of your conscious identity and eventually it will find its way to somewhere painful. So it getting there is inevitable. But you continuing to walk on it is choice.

People will be self-critical and they’ll blame the pain on who they have become—on what shoes they chose to wear—and yet everyone walking the Earth will necessarily have shoes, and there’s no way getting around the fact that all of them kick up pebbles to be walked on.

129 Relax and Succeed - In every walk with naturePeople will sometimes be upset with the pebble itself, and yet it got there through natural means. It’s not like the pebble was looking for a foot to irritate. It was just laying there on the path of life and it happened to be one of the ones that ended up in your shoe. If it wasn’t this one it would be another one. So there’s no getting around the fact that we will end up with the pebbles. There’s no way to avoid that. So the real question is, what do we do when we become aware we have one?

That’s where the advantage of the pain comes in. The whole reason it hurts is because that is the universe communicating to you that you have a pebble of thought in the shoe of your identity, and that thought is rubbing your identity the wrong way. If we’re wise that notification will be used as an opportunity for you to stop what you’re doing, pause, and then consciously choose to take off your shoe and dump out the pebble. That is the purpose of the pain. It’s a notification system regarding your thoughts.

We all had to pick a style of shoe. Maybe we’re aggressive like an athletic shoe. Or maybe we’re open and free like a sandal. Maybe we’re pointed and sharp, like a business shoe. Or maybe we’re a casual shoe—something we can’t run in, but at least they’re easy and comfortable. But no matter what shoe-identity we’ve put on, they’re all susceptible to different kinds of pebbles. So don’t be surprised when the pebble ends up back in your shoe. But the process is still the same. You simply notice the pain, stop walking and you remove the pebble. Notice your emotional pain, stop thinking about that subject and replace those painful thoughts with something nicer. It’s that easy.

129 Relax and Succeed - What you allowEventually we learn to walk in ways that discourage a few of larger pebbles from getting into our lives. But don’t lament their existence. They are an integral part of the path you are walking on. They comprise the surface of the path of your life. Most times they carry your weight. But when they do get under your foot and generate an irritation—don’t start thinking you’re on the wrong path. Because a wise person doesn’t change paths. A wise person just gets really good at pausing and removing pebbles.

Don’t complain about emotional pain. Recognize it as your own thinking and get conscious and change it. Because if you can get good at letting thoughts go, then you will have minimized the amount of suffering you will do on your journey. And that makes for a beautiful walk through life.

Enjoy.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.