Category Archives: productivity

The Imaginary Sniper


What do you see when your fingers are propped above the keyboard in the

anticipation of writing a post or story?  Anyone could logically say there is a blank space or page.  And while this is true, there are many of us who tend to imagine the onset of disaster if a mistake is made.  Maybe you type a letter or word that just doesn’t seem right.  Maybe you end up writing a whole sentence that doesn’t fit.  It’s called an error.  You can fix this.

Writing a grammatically incorrect sentence is far different from hitting someone in the nose.  Revising what you typed is a temporary setback or even a way to learn more about writing.  It is not a crime.  An error in typing is not going to bring on imminent danger.  I can tell you this all day long, but a lot of us will still think, feel and imagine an imaginary sniper ready to shoot us upon the first stroke of the key.  Why else would you sit there and think about what to say?  What is with the hesitation?

Writing is simple.  I’m not saying talent comes easy.  But the task of putting words on paper or the screen is an elementary function which most of us have.  Using your fingers to make words is something that human beings can do in any state of mind.  The ability to create a fluid, coherent message with words will only come with practice.  But the fingertips have to touch the keys.

To understand my claim about the imaginary sniper, try writing a story on a general subject as soon as the blank page appears.  Or get a notebook out and apply the pen or pencil immediately.  Don’t stop for corrections.  Just continue writing.  Pay attention to how your body reacts.

Build Your Vocabulary


English: Emily Chrisman and teacher Joseph Pas...

English: Emily Chrisman and teacher Joseph Pascetta role play a situation during the Oct. 10, “Tying the Yellow Ribbon” event in Elgin, Ill. This is one of the many ways instructors with the Children’s Reintegration Program teach kids how to deal with difficult situations when their parent comes home from deployment. Pascetta is one of eight teachers from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology that help with the children’s program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have a loss for words when sitting around at a party or some other function.  Your memory is fishing for something nice to say to a peer and there is nothing but a blank.  To fish anywhere in the world requires the body of water is stocked or naturally populated.  Otherwise you are dipping the hook with no results.  You might also have to learn how to fish.

In many of the psychotherapy sessions I facilitate, there is an all too common challenge for the client to communicate in a positive and productive way with others.  I see whole families who come off with a tendency to talk down to each other and act confused when directed to pay a compliment.  Along with this, we usually discover that the family members are sorely lacking of a personal vocabulary for positive-based phrases and words.

To help with building a new track in the memory banks for the positive verbage and productive use of it, I propose an active use of role-play and an immediate goal to meet.  The development of skill and a change in memory takes repetition of a particular task, which in this case means saying the words out loud.

In my next post, I will talk about the art of motivation for this task and the different and fun ways to help get it started.

The Trouble With Self-Affirming Statements


Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) leads brother Ral...

We are encouraged by many to produce inner-motivation towards our goals through the work of self-affirmation.  In recent years there has been the prominent referral to “I’m Okay and You’re Okay” kinds of statements.  Some of the self-help gurus make “positive inner discovery” a staple of their programs.  One thousand percent of this makes sense and is effective.

To say “I can” and then of course finish the statement is a very healthy and even courageous declaration.  It beats sitting crouched in a corner with your thumb in mouth, while rocking back and forth.  It sure as hell beats standing by and hiding your abilities while someone else takes off with the opportunity.  Do you agree?

What we’re missing here is the challenge to saying “I can” or “My strength is..” when much of life has been a focus on what a sibling or cousin or classmate can do better.  I will venture to say that the challenge has a lot to do with what communication many of us receive in these different environments.  Have you ever been told “Why can’t you be like..?”

In chapter five of “The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence” written by Dr. James Dobson (1978), there is the conclusion arrived at on how comparisons are made between siblings.  A child in the family or at school hears spoken messages by his adult leaders which stick in his or her mind.  An older brother or sister is praised for winning the trophies.  And at every turn, upon misbehavior of the failure to perform up to snuff, the other sibling is told “Why can’t you do..?”  And the competition ensues.  For this boy or girl, the focus becomes more about what the older sister or brother or classmate has, and less about what is yet to be discovered within.

How To Curb Your Impulse To Argue


Argument

Argument (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

First, I will ask the reader to look at the difference between “argue” and “debate.”  Quite a few of us in American culture can run into some confusion, because of our pioneering spirit.  We cherish our independence.  A lot of early training in the families of this country, reflects the value in standing up for what we believe.  Otherwise, there would not be much protest against government agencies trying to dictate how to raise the kids and run the household.  We don’t like being told what to do, period.  I for one, hope that this healthy attitude continues.  Human beings are not sheep.

When a person is in debate of an issue, he does best when ready with a convincing set of facts.  His platform for debate may not guarantee a win of the most votes, but he can at least pavé the road to a later credible battle.  Unlike argument, which is a behavior based on emotional defense, the act of debating serves a purpose.  The opponent is invited to share information and the goal here is to clarify the gravity of the issue.  A solution is eventually reached.  In arguments, there is nothing but an angry push from each person to see who is the strongest.  And when emotion is ruling the behavior on each side, the information (if any) is only distorted and both parties are further from a solution.  So another day goes by without anything productive happening.  It’s just a cycle of futility.  To argue needlessly is akin to climbing a mountain made of butter with cellophane shoes.

My way of helping to curb the impulse to argue or be led into an argument is simple and easy.  Of course, this works best when there is a personal acknowledgement of the costs about such behavior.  The method has to do with using physical cues to help monitor the rate of impulsive acts.  Your job is to cut down on the number of times per day, that a disagreement or behavior triggers an emotional reaction.  For example, if six-year-old Johnny says the “No T.V. after 7:00 at night rule” is stupid and you are starting in with “No it’s not” then go ahead and put a colored chip labeled “I argued again” in the designated can.  I’ve been known to label the cans for this kind of process, with words that remind the client of what we talked about in the session.  Bringing a souvenir home from vacation has the same effect.

I Choose Desire


Anagrams of Desire

I’m glad you have decided to get over your pansiness and click on this post to read.  Desire is a six-letter word that often connotes some sort of carnal lust for a substance or even better, a person.  Such a word is seen on the front cover of romance novels and articles, which lead the reader into an underworld filled with the kinds of unmentionable activity between people.  I would even put “desire” in the category of taboo conversation.  Only because this is the result of a social mechanism we human beings have built to label and shelve our corners of existence.

I use the word “desire” to help put some emotional charge behind my priorities and to establish a point of entitlement in this respect.  In order for me to take ownership for what I see as personal goals, there must be an investment on my part.  But let’s move on to the reason I titled this piece with “desire.”

My gives me a verbal list of grocery items right before I am about to grab the keys.  There are only four items to remember and she knows that I can keep them in mind, all the way to the store.  She asks me if I need to right them down anyway.  I quickly reply “Oh yes” and go ahead to make a written list.  Yeah, I’ve heard and read about all the different ways that we can exercise our minds.  There are many benefits to keeping our brains stimulated with memory games and what not.  The internet is full of literature on how much better a person can gain in the prospect of health by pushing our mental capacities.

The thing is, I already put my brain to use.  One bit of clear evidence is in the making of this article.  And this is where the word “desire” comes in.  Instead of holding in my memory the list of fruits, veggies, bread and other kitchen items, I desire to exercise my imagination.  Or I simply choose to listen to the car stereo and really get into the music.  These uses of the brain help me further my goals and enable quality time for projects.  My projects bring enjoyment and quality development for life and family.  There’s no doubt of my ability to bring up the list in memory once I get to the store, but why waste such effort when it could just be written?  A few minutes of writing on paper can buy me an infinite peace of mind.  The organizational tools industry makes a bundle for good reason.  It’s easier to move on with the important things and move on when we’re writing appointments on a calendar and not letting these items take our memories hostage.

We Don’t Wear Leashes!


English: visual representation of the Freud's ...

English: visual representation of the Freud’s id, ego and super-ego and the level of consciousness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of us want to experience more in life.  We want to do better in quite a few different areas, whether it having a greater financial situation or increased physical strength.  A lot of us can attest to wanting our relationships with certain people to make more sense.  The only barrier to this, is the strength of ego.  Ego is what has each of us settling back into a safe “reality” on a daily basis.  Ego is the safety governor that works against every idea of personal freedom and measures of assertiveness.  It is the stuff that throttles a person with tinges of guilt or creeping embarrassment when he or she is about to take an action, that goes against their yesterday.

The messages which give proof of a personal safety governor:

“I’ll look stupid.”

“They/ he/ she will think I’m some sort of weirdo.”

“I’m coming on too strong.”

“I’m not ready yet.”

“They’re not ready yet.”

“I’m just being impulsive.”

“Have to do this first.”

The train of self-sabotage goes on and on.  We rationalize that the messages and accompanying emotions are there for a reason and the doubts make sense.  What doesn’t make sense is the restlessness and time spent looking back on what could have been.  What really does not make any sense is the time spent bitching about the current state of affairs and talking about what someone else is able to do.  It’s kind of like forfeiting one’s right to take part in life.  When anyone of us stands there and says “I wished I had that kind of talent” while speaking about someone else’s accomplishment, it is the same as “I give up.”

I have news for anyone who operates such a premise.  The personal ego “defense system” is blind to reality.  Fear, self-doubt and inner criticism are based on expectations and beliefs, which are nothing more than stories fabricated in the mind.  While still inside the mind, they are but mere shadows.  Are shadows supposed to be the ruling body?

Who Is Boss Around Here?


think stencil art & graffiti cat

think stencil art & graffiti cat (Photo credit: urbanartcore.eu)

We (human beings in general) tend to dismiss quite a few thoughts that enter our minds throughout the day.  Some of these may hide a helpful ticket of direction.  And I for one will acknowledge, the reason for this being an issue with distance and how we order priorities.  It’s a matter of playing God and letting ego take the reins in life.  What makes me think about the subject, is whether ego (which does not know reality) is permitted to run things.  Does any business in life prosper off of mindless judgement?

There’s no telling what could be put together over a period of time and consistent effort when the thought of investing in a project is nurtured and acted upon.  Many artists have been amazed by their own works that materialized and grew to fruition because of the many steps taken keep the idea alive.  The idea always starts in the mind.  It may visit during moments of stark consciousness, while driving or walking the dog.  Some thoughts are like a comet streaming through the sky.  The jolting body signifies a limited access for the view.  How does our inner critic (blind to the world around us) get to make the decision about whether or not to make note of the potential of such a natural force?  Who gets to say which idea deserves a more thorough investigation?