A recent article by ABC News got me thinking about why getting the planet, and all the countries that comprise it, back on task is going to be a massive job. The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 surveyed 114,000 people in 107 countries. It found that 50% of people believe corruption was worse in recent years and 27% copped to paying bribes so they could get access to public services and institutions. (I would really suggest you take a look at the above report. It’s full of interesting statistics and conclusions.)
88% of respondents think their government’s leaders are doing a poor job at fighting corruption. According to 114,000 people the five most corrupt institutions are:
1. POLICE. This is a world-wide problem, with police getting a 3.7 (on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 means extremely corrupt and 1 means not at all corrupt.) Corruption is especially high in rural areas of countries such as Mexico and Venezuela. In Mexico 93% of drivers think traffic policemen are corrupt and it’s estimated that cartels pay police $100 million every month.
2. JUDGES. If you don’t think judges are trustworthy, it is more likely you’ll take justice in your own hands or allow offenders to escape. Of the 20 countries where respondents think judges are the most corrupt institution, 30% said they had paid a bribe to help their case. Like with the police and public officials, most of these countries were in South America, Eastern Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.
3. PUBLIC OFFICIALS and CIVIL SERVANTS. Government workers who are in charge of land, registry, health, and education are most able to extract brides. This happens most in countries where rural and civil conflicts occur and the governments are centralized with large bureaucracies, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia.
4. POLITICAL PARTIES. People who live in Argentina, Greece, Colombia, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Israel, Uruguay, and Jamaica believe that political parties are the most corrupt. In the USA 76% said that political parties were affected by corruption. 90% of Greek citizens believe the same. This is where people in the USA felt there was the most corruption.
5. PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME. 27% of the people surveyed said they had paid a bribe in the last twelve months. 21% said they were not willing to report incidents of corruption. In 16 countries over 50% said they would remain silent for fear of reprisal or because they didn’t have faith in their governments.
What does all this mean for me? Reading this makes me feel quite helpless because corruption is such an insidious problem.
Corruption has been around since time began so we’re not going to stop it completely. The road to balance and honesty is long but we each need to figure out how we can do our parts to restore the old fashion values of freedom and democracy we were taught in school.
But because I don’t live in a large city in the United States, where there is more likelihood of police and maybe judicial corruption, I think the place where I can contribute the most, is helping out political parties. That means both supporting the issues and politicians that I feel are important, both monetarily and verbally speaking out when it becomes clear that shady deals are going on. On the level of action, that means volunteering to support legislation and causes I believe in rather than turning a blind-eye and grumbling.
There are other things that can be done. Start a viral video campaigning highlighting when injustices occur. Create a petition, post it on Facebook and collect signatures to ignite change in your community or your world. We’re not altogether helpless, especially when it comes to supporting one another. Every small kind action you take towards others, and also towards yourself, helps improve the overall trust and feel good energy on the planet. Who knows? Maybe all those little actions will add up someday and create a domino effect, making a dent even in the rungs of our global police force, our political leaders and our officials in public services.
You might think it’s possible to die of a broken heart. Especially if you’re in the middle of the agony right now, wondering how the world can go on. Ending a relationship can be crushing. It touches upon our deepest wounds and biggest dreams; our scariest insecurities and our happiest moments.
It may have only taken a second to fall in love, but to reclaim equilibrium takes time. Injuries have to heal whether physical or emotional. So before jumping back into action, give yourself time to heal and room to feel your pain. According to Attitude Reconstruction, here are six things to do to ensure a speedy recovery:
1. Maintain your regular healthy routine. That means don’t give up exercising, don’t stop eating regularly, don’t start drinking (or indulge in your favorite addiction), and don’t stop sleeping.
2. Deal with your emotions. Start with whatever emotion is in the foreground. Pound if you can’t believe what he said or did. Cry buckets because it’s a loss, but don’t indulge in blaming him, freaking out about the future, or feeling sorry for yourself. Just mourn and say good-bye. Shiver and shake if you feel scared and in survival mode. These strong emotions will not last forever. If you acknowledge and express them constructively, you’ll move through the pain much quicker.
3. Interrupt your destructive thoughts, particularly worries about an imagined future, even if they come up a hundred times a day. Shiver instead and remind yourself, “These feelings will pass. This situation is temporary.” Instead of trashing him or her, remember the good, and then refocus on what you need to do to honor yourself. Remind yourself of your worthiness and lovability. “This says nothing about me. I am lovable. I am fine.”
4. Get clear on what you know is best. If you’ve had somewhat of a ritual of fighting and breaking up, only to get back together, get clear about what you know when emotions aren’t flying around and hold fast to that. Rather than being rash and doing something impulsive like splitting up during a fight, get yourself back to a loving place first. Do this by addressing and resolving the specific topic that started the fight. Then, when you feel centered again, look within and ask what’s true for you about the relationship. If it is true that one or the other of you is no longer willing to be in a partnership, hold tight to what you know at those times of clarity, and remind yourself self of it often. As well, align your behavior with what you know deep down is true.
5. Keep addressing your emotions physically and constructively. This point can’t be stressed enough. If the reality is that it’s truly over, then it’s time to deal with the inevitable sadness, anger and fear. If your emotions are intense, be extra mindful to eat, sleep, and exercise regularly, because throwing off your physiology hinders the healing process and your quality of life.
I promise it won’t take as long as you imagine to heal and move on, if you deal with your emotions constructively and don’t indulge in trash thinking or talking. Soon you’ll be able to make a plan to restore your self-esteem, reflect on what you’ve learned, and engage in any necessary communications. It takes time to work through such an intense event but on the other side of pain, there is life and happiness awaiting your arrival.
“Not enough” comes in all shapes and sizes. We can feel like we aren’t enough, how we look, how smart we are, or how talented we are isn’t enough, what we have or do isn’t enough, what is happening currently isn’t enough, or other people aren’t enough. Stop comparing and bringing yourself down! In all cases, you need to reverse the focus from what you or others do or don’t have to focus on enjoying, appreciating, and being grateful for who you are and what is. This simple shift requires moving from “out there” back to yourself.
You can free yourself from the dissatisfaction and the fear of never “enough” and rest in enjoying the reality by doggedly and consistently replacing your old thinking. In terms of how to do this, I’m going to use as an example “not feeling good enough.” Instead of perpetually trying to measure up against an invisible standard, give it a rest. Give up believing if you had or did something else — got married, earned more money, looked more beautiful, had more time, were smarter — you’d finally be happy and feel worthy.
As you already know, that doesn’t work. In terms of who we are, what we have, or what we do, our mind will always find some thing else that feels lacking. The mistake is that we are identified with our actions, appearance, or possessions, rather than our unchanging essence.
To get to the root of not feeling good enough, figure out and write down exactly what you tell yourself when you are into “not enough” thinking. Then get ready to wage a war with your mind. You have several powerful choices for weapons. Here are some options so you can win your battle and little by little slay your downer thinking and replace it with something that increases the amount of joy, love, and peace you feel. Repeat your selected strategy with the conviction of knowing that it is true until you smile.
1. Appreciate what you do have. Focus on qualities and characteristics.
2. Be grateful for what is presented or what you do have.
3. Look for the positive in the situation. There is always a sunny side to the bleakest of moments.
4. Find a contradiction to your old thinking (see below for a few suggestions) and repeat it over and over, ignoring all the discounting thoughts that arise.
My presence is enough.
I am good enough.
I’ve done enough.
I’m pretty enough.
I am fully satisfied with myself.
I am enough.
About other people, things, and situations
This is enough.
I have enough.
My friends are enough.
What’s happening right now is perfect.
I have enough time.
There is enough time.
Regardless of the option you choose, interrupt negative mind noise and replace it with your chosen constructive alternative. As you do, you will accept yourself ‘as is,’ and jolt yourself into loving yourself regardless of how the world turns. Your attention shifts to what is already here and who you already are. You become more accepting of yourself, others, and time just the way they are right now, and enjoy the present moment, your life, and all that you have.
Are you considering buying pajama jeans because your womanly curves yell at you in the mirror? Do you park your Camry a block away because all the other housewives drive Escalades? Got a barrage of brutal self-talk to ready-aim-fire every time you interview for a new job or go on yet another date?
Being too self-critical is epidemic in our society. It’s almost a national pastime to beat ourselves up over real and imagined imperfections. We became unwitting devotees watching our parents and teachers direct their anger towards us with negative judgments and demeaning labels instead of channeling emotions in appropriate ways. Being receptive little students, we pledged allegiance to those unkind messages and internalized commitments to keep them alive. Today we know the words by heart and speak them inside without even thinking.
Whenever we criticize ourselves, we compound the issue. We turn one problem into two — there’s the social blunder, a poor financial decision or disapproving glance in the mirror — and the demeaning self-loathing that follows.
Are you more than ready to silence the tyrant? Then try these five effective strategies to stop being self-critical and show yourself more love:
1. List the most common expressions you tell yourself, such as “I’m so stupid.” “I blew it again.” “ I’m such a bad person.”
2. Correct the sentiment to something more positive, such as “I’m doing the best I can. / I did the best I could.” Or “Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.” Or “If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” Determine what contradicts your old messages and write them down on a card or paper. Carry them on a 3×5 card in your pocket or post them on the dashboard of your car. It helps.
3. Relentlessly repeat your new thoughts, especially when you’re judging yourself poorly or when you’re crying and feeling down. Repeat them ten, twenty, thirty times! It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. Just repeat them. Interrupt all the “yes, buts” and other discounting thoughts that surface.
4. Shower yourself with kindness in the form of self-appreciations. Compliment your own abilities, characteristics, qualities, and efforts. It’s not boasting or bragging. It’s looking on the bright side. Ignore the self-criticism and be grateful for the magnificent human you are.
If this feels totally weird and you can’t come up with a single self-appreciation, start with something small. Name a specific positive trait, talent, or quality and look at yourself from this new perspective. Try something like:
· I have a good sense of humor and can be funny.
· I’m a dependable friend.
· I take good care of my cat.
· I like to do nice things for others.
5. Try writing two self-appreciations each day. At the end of each week read your list out loud with conviction and enthusiasm. Adding a smile, or even half a smile while repeating your list, will give it a boost.
Beating yourself up for not living up to impossible standards is a dead-end road that leads to Point Misery. See how wonderful you feel when you relentlessly focus on the good. Emphasizing your positive qualities and contradicting that internal critic will definitely improve your attitude about yourself. Starting today, turn your self-criticism into self- appreciation. You’ll feel the difference immediately and hear a new pledge of allegiance to the united states of Joy, Love, and Peace!
Recently Tom came into my office. He is a middle-aged athletic man living here in Santa Barbara with a lovely wife and 9-year old son, Jimmy. Tom was really frustrated because Jimmy would rather be on his computer than play sports. Every weekend was a battle to get Jimmy out of the house. It was getting old and there was growing unspoken tension whenever they were together.
In talking with Tom, it became very apparent how important sports were to him and his siblings while growing up. However, Tom also realized that he needed to change his thinking. He needed to find a way to let go of his expectation of having an athletic son love sports as much as he did.
What did he have to do to have a good relationship with Jimmy? Enter Attitude Reconstruction. He read the chapter in the book Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life about how to change his thinking.
Over and over, many times a day he told himself “Jimmy is the way he is, not the way I want him to be. I love him. He’s not me. Let Jimmy be Jimmy.” By interrupting his old thinking and repeating these phrases over and over, he had a shift. Tom got that he needed to accept Jimmy for who he is and find some activities they could enjoy together.
With his head now screwed on a little straighter, Tom then had a few great ideas. First, he decided he would hold his tongue whenever he felt the urge to make a comment about how Jimmy should enjoy playing sports. Second, he started to genuinely praise all the great things he saw Jimmy do and all the positive qualities he possessed.
Third, Tom decided to ask Jimmy to teach him how to text. Working together on texting led to a lot of laughter. After a while and much to Tom’s surprise, Jimmy suggested they walk to the pier and watch people fishing. They got out of the house and had a good time together.
Whenever Tom’s frustration resurfaced, he just repeated, “Jimmy is the way he is, not the way I want…” Sometimes he would have to say it many times, until he once again really got it. And each time he fought his own agenda, almost like magic, giving up his expectation allowed Tom to create a warmer, safer atmosphere with his son and for the entire family.
It sounds so simple, and it is, but it takes a big man and steadfast perseverance to combat and give up his own deep desires to have an athletic son. Whenever those thoughts bubble up he acknowledges his sadness and then embraces the spectacular child he has. And maybe someday, they’ll enjoy going to games together. Then again maybe they won’t, but either way, they’ll have a strong and loving bond, based on true acceptance and mutual interests.
We’ve all had people in our work or school environment that seem to throw our positive group energy out of whack. Maybe it’s the gossiper, the know-it-all, the criticizer, the advice giver, the nosy. When they’re absent, we rejoice. When we’re feeling good, it’s almost easy to not pay attention. But it’s all the other times that really wear us down.
According to Attitude Reconstruction, if you have an annoying Debbie-downer in your office, on your committee, in your class, or in your house, here are four effective strategies.
1. First, matador their comments. Ignore the barbs. Don’t get into it– instead let the bull go flying by and stay focused on doing your best job. Resort to silence rather than confrontation. So ignore them or speak up about it at a neutral, non-emotional time. (see #4)
2. When they are not being annoying, appreciate and praise them. Appreciate it when they do something well because these folks are running on a positivity deficit and saying genuinely nice things goes a long way to fill it and melt difficult people.
3. As your own spiritual practice, practice repeating this over and over, until you finally accept it: “People and things are the way they are, not the way I think they should be.” If you accept, rather than holding an expectation they shouldn’t be “that way,” you will no longer get hooked in and feel frustrated when they act that way. People are people and they are slow to change. The best we can do is infuse ourselves with joy, love, and peace.
4. When you know that you need to speak up, be sure you just address ONE SPECIFIC TOPIC at a time and SAY WHAT’S TRUE FOR YOU about that topic. … that is, stick to Attitude Reconstruction Communication Rules. These are the first two communication rules: “I”s and specifics. Avoid those finger pointing “yous” and reading people the riot act. It only makes things worst and does nothing to improve the work environment. Avoid global overgeneralities, such as “always,” “nevers,” and “everyone.” Speak about one event at a time, be specific about the influence it had on you and state your specific request.
At a neutral time speak your message, such as “I got really hurt when you called me a slacker in the meeting, and I would appreciate it that when you have something to say to me you do so in private so we can talk about it.”
Then listen for a minute to see if they received your message. If they defend themselves or continue to blame you, or start to argue, when they pause, lovingly repeat your message, saying, “Well, I just wanted you to know I got hurt…” Then pause, offer an appreciation if it feels appropriate, smile, and move on back to doing your own job description.
It’s not often one can write about Oreos and cocaine in the same blog, but that’s exactly what’s on tap today. Recently I came across reference to a study that melted my heart. For one, it was the brainchild of a female undergraduate at a small college, Connecticut College, for two it shows the power of simplicity, and for three it explains why it’s hard to eat just one Oreo or potato chip. The study was inspired by Jamie Honohan, a senior with a desire to become a physician assistant. She was interested in the large rates of obesity in lower-income communities.
Being a neuroscience major, Jamie and her advisor, Professor Joseph Schroeder, designed two studies to test the potential addictiveness of food with high fat and sugar content. They chose Oreos so they “could make a correlation from rats to a problem facing humans,” and because earlier research had shown that rats like Oreos!
In the first study, two adjoining chambers were set up for the rat. In one half, rats were given Oreos, and in the other, rats feasted on rice cakes. No surprise rats preferred the Oreos and finished every bit (cream filling first) while those given the rice crackers didn’t. When the food was taken away, the rats were given the option to spend time in either chamber, Oreo rats preferred to be in the chamber where they were fed, where Rice cracker rats, didn’t.
In a second study, half of the rats were given a shot of cocaine or morphine in one chamber, and the other got a shot of saline. When the substances were taken away, the rats were given a choice where to hang out. The Oreo cookies subjects chose to spend just as many hours in the Oreos chamber as the cocaine rats chose to be in the chamber where the drugs had been injected. The association to a certain place was equally strong for the Oreos and the drugs group.
The researchers also measured increased neuron activity in the brain’s pleasure center and found that Oreos activated significantly more neuron activity than the drugs.
Their research supports the idea that high-fat, high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way as drugs. Jamie Honohan said these results suggest that junk food may “be more dangerous to society than drugs because you don’t have to go (into) a dark alley to buy them. You go into any grocery store or bodega, and they are highly available and affordable. They target kids and families on a budget.”
This simple study certainly gives insight about why we love our high sugar and fat food items and how hard it is to give them up. It also legitimizes the need to treat food addiction withdrawal in the ways we do for cocaine or morphine.
But to end on a much lighter note, I can’t help but love the finding that rats, like humans, eat the filling before the cookie.
Do other people tiptoe around you so you won’t get mad? Are your kids afraid of you? Have you been told to take an anger-management class?
We all experience anger because it’s the natural reaction to violations and injustices. What we do with it is a different story. Anger, like each of the six emotions, is e+motion — “energy in motion” in our bodies. If we deal with it as just energy, physically and constructively, the anger will quickly pass. Then our love can shine through.
Maybe you can relate to Lorraine, a client whose anger was jeopardizing her job, her home life, and her relationships with her siblings. On Friday, when Lorraine’s coworkers told her she shouldn’t have gone to the boss about a problem, she blew up. This was the first time in a while she’d really lost it.
Then as she drove home, she started to stew. She hid away in her room all day Saturday, snapping at her family’s overtures to join them. Thankfully, when she woke up on Sunday she remembered what she had done in a therapy session. (How easily we “forget” what works better than our old habits.) Lorraine expressed her anger physically, naturally, and constructively, and salvaged her day and family. Not only that, she had a workable solution when she was next getting ready to lose her cool.
Here’s what she did to dissolve her anger:
1. Express the anger energy physically without damaging a person or anything of value.
Identify what your anger feels like in your body. Lorraine’s cues were that her ears really got hot and she experienced a surge rising in her chest before lashing out. Then decide what would be a satisfying way to express that anger physically and constructively.
Lorraine decided that destroying something would be most satisfying. She could have chosen to pound pillows, stomp, growl, kick, push against a wall, or shout a word like “broccoli.” But she decided to pull out the 20 inch flexible plastic hose I had given her and hit a couple of old telephone books in the garage. So she moved some boxes around and tore into her pile of old telephone books that she put on the floor. She pounded and pounded until she couldn’t anymore, making sounds and grunting along the way. Lorraine caught her breath and then started pounding once again. All together she did this half a dozen times. It took less than ten minutes. She was sweaty and exhausted.
Off the wall as it seems, I suggest that the next time your heart starts beating loud and the rage starts surging, excuse yourself and find a safe place and give it a try. Whatever method you choose, do it hard, fast, and with abandon. Let go. Let it out. While expressing the anger don’t say negative things and swear. This will only reinforce your old feelings and perpetuate your anger. Just move the physical energy out of your body.
2. Interrupt your destructive thinking about how people and things “should” be different than they are and accept what is.
Indulging your old thinking will only keep you feeling righteous and judging others as wrong. Instead, accept reality. Repeat, “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.” Say and think it 100,000 times. Repeat this phrase any time, when you feel frustrated, but especially while moving the energy out of your body.
Lorraine modified this generic acceptance statement and repeated “My co-workers are the way they are, not the way I think they should be.” After a few minutes of saying it out loud, she realized that it was true! People are the way they are. That was a fact. That was a revelation. Lorraine almost laughed. She felt strangely peaceful, climbed into bed, immediately fell asleep for half an hour, and awoke feeling oddly refreshed. She was ready to join the world again and went downstairs.
3. Determine what you need to say or do to feel resolved.
Just a few minutes of expressing the emotional energy and focusing on acceptance will dissipate the anger and bring you back in balance. You’ll feel more centered. You’ll feel more loving. Your thinking will be clearer. You’ll be able to figure out what you need to say or do to resolve the specific thing that triggered your blow up so you can feel complete.
It became obvious that Lorraine wanted to apologize to her co-workers on Monday and ask them to gently remind her to take a few minutes break when she started to raise her voice. That would be her signal to go to her car and vent her frustration by shaking the steering wheel while repeating, “People are the way they are, not the way I think they should be.”
Each time you own and deal with your anger, you create love. It’s hard at first. We’ve got our pride. Our ego is strong and we feel so justified. It’s the last thing we want to do. But it works. It’s effective. Natural. Fast. Reliable. Just ask Lorraine.
Think about how you will spare yourself and your world when you change your old funky habit. Think about the doors that will open. Imagine how much more loving you’ll feel and how much others will benefit too.
Relationships wax and wane, stretch and grow, shift and evolve. We are always changing and any relationships we have, are always changing, too. Sometimes there are bumps in the road on any relationship journey.
After living together for two years John increasingly felt less open with Jen and was starting to wall himself off. Slowly, slowly, he realized he either had to give up and leave or step forward and speak about some specific things that have been bothering him. Luckily, deep down he knew he truly loved Jen and so when push came to shove, he was willing to make a few changes to keep the good thing he was fortunate enough to have alive and thriving.
If you find yourself feeling isolated, separate, or different from someone you care for, instead of wallowing in those feelings, lashing out or pulling away, do the opposite. Do things that create connection. Follow these seven guidelines to keep the trust alive:
1. Refrain from telling other people about themselves – “you-ing” whether in the form of unsolicited advice, labeling, sarcasm, criticism, teasing, blaming, evaluating, etc. Instead, talk about what is true for you, your “I”. Give information about what is going on for you about what you’re feeling, thinking, wanting, needing.
2. Bring up one specific incident at a time and don’t get sucked into dragging in everything, right down to the kitchen sink. Avoid the words “always” and “never.”
3. Listen with genuine attention. Ask questions and strive to understand another person. Don’t defend yourself or strike back with “yous” if attacked. Silence or speak your “I” – what’s true for you.
4. Keep your word. Honor the agreements you make. Violating mutual understandings produces separation. Trust is built on integrity between your words and actions. When you need to alter an agreement, talk about it beforehand.
5. When clarifying misunderstandings, if you violated an agreement you had, listen to the person that feels violated to understand their feelings and point of view until you can truly empathize with what is true for them. Say what you will do in the future to avert it from reoccurring and follow through.
6. If you feel someone violated an agreement with you by not acting in line with the understanding you believe you had, speak up about how you felt about the specific incident at hand and what you want to be different in the future.
7. Lavishly give sincere gestures of appreciation. Do genuine acts of kindness or selfless giving. Initiate physical (not sexual) contact to nonverbally connect thru a hug, squeeze, or loving look. Look for the good and offer praise.
Stick to being aligned with your heart and personal integrity. Communicate what’s true for you with kindness. Like John, with a little awareness, persistence, and practice, you can also navigate whatever twists and turns you encounter, and successfully keep your relationships on the high road.