This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tell Me About It

There's an advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, who writes a column in the newspaper that really packs it in.  In a recent column she answered a letter presenting a problematic relative and asking how to handle her.  Ms. Hax managed, in a few paragraphs, to discuss abuse, victims, how these problems become patterns, our feelings toward them and how to deal with a difficult situation with a family member. 
I don't know what her background or training is.  She lists no credentials by her name.  But it is apparent that she either has a solid education in psychology or she really does her homework on each subject she addresses.
The title of the column I am describing was:  She dishes out what she took.
If you enjoy reading about good coping with common life problems, you might take a look at her column; it's called Tell Me About It.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


"Be the change that you want to see in the world."  Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, December 14, 2009

Being Santa

"I always ask, 'If this gift could talk, what would it say?'"
Natalie Lee Gian. LPC
Giving a gift is not such a simple thing.  There is motivation behind it.  Sometimes it may indeed be a simple heartfelt offering, a spontaneous moment of generosity or, a wish to share something you value with a person you care about.
However gifts can also communicate something specific to the recipient:  Expanding on the suggestion of the therapist quoted above, here are some possibilities:  The gift may say to the one receiving it, "I was picked out in a hurry." or  "I'm here to impress you." or  "I was a bargain!".
On the other hand, a gift can say, "I am something you like."  "I was made with love."  "I suit you."

I bet you can come up with  many more. 

Many of us feel  pressured and rushed at  this time of year.  Or, we may feel that at other times too---like wedding season, for example!  The challenge posed here to me and to you is offered here on my post not  to add to the demand.  All paths lead to the Self; it is suggested as another way to self reflect.  Just be honest with yourself--this idea is for you.  It could be interesting to examine your own motivations.  

A final note on the subject of gift-giving:  You may be in a situation where you simply feel obligated to give a gift.  Even then, I believe that if you stop and take a moment to really focus on the person the gift is destined for, you'll feel better about the process.
If it is truly a gift from the heart, inexpensive or extravagant, regardless, I submit that your loving intention will be communicated.

~Most of us feel pleased when we sense that we have been thought about by someone in our lives.~

It is often said, to try to combat the commercialism of Christmas, that the most precious gifts are not 
under the tree.  This can be-- rather than trite, actually true.  
Center yourself, take a long, slow, deep breath and be the gift--the gift of affection for those you celebrate with this holiday season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Teacher

"...contemplate the fact that a lotus's perfection begins its journey deep within the mud of a pond."
Michael Parkes

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not Easily Impressed

Is that you?  Is it easy for you to criticize?  Do you often feel skeptical?  Do you pride yourself in being a hard sell, not easily impressed?  There's something to be said for withholding false praise, certainly.  And not being easily swayed may be important when, for example, engaged with a car salesman.  Yes, a little reserve and skepticism are appropriate in some situations.  But, if you are too guarded, you and those closely involved in your life, may miss out.

Nearly everyone can benefit from some encouragement.  It must be sincere but, given that, some sincere praise has the power to lift spirits, to infuse another with energy, and to spur new enthusiasm.  Surely children make good use of encouragement in using it to help them grow, try new things, and develop skills.  But all adults,--- elderly adults, mid-life adults, young adults and teenagers, can all be powered by praise.

You have the ability to assist an elderly person with self-appreciation.  Does that person who is older and more experienced than you are seem wise?  Then why not tell them!  You have the power to improve a friend's mood by telling them what a treasure they are to you.  You can encourage a young child to try a new task by saying, You're catching on!  You can influence an adolescent to make a positive choice by noticing and remarking upon it when they show responsible behavior.
You can do it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shape Changers

Personal identity and the wish to effect change in another

 Each person is unique and therein lies the joy of learning about someone new, in gaining a deeper understanding of someone familiar, of discovering the propensities of a developing child.  Each of us is a different combination of traits and talents.  Most adults take pride in the qualities they view as being distinct.  Sometimes you hear people making statements describing their own particular qualities---the things they see as making them who they are:  "I am a party girl."  "Bad luck follows me around." "I am a good worker." "My mother said I smiled more than any of her other kids."  "I am a picky eater." It seems like most of us enjoy and appreciate that we have our own unique identity.

And, yet, we often make tremendous effort to change another, to alter their identity.
Today I heard a lot of lamenting about others:  'If only he/she would change, I/we would be happy/our problems would be solved.'  As distressing as it is to focus on the troubling characteristics of someone close to us, it usually seems much, much harder to self-evaluate.

It seems to come more naturally to most people to notice the faults of others and to readily determine how another could improve.  In addition to complaining and evaluating others, it is quite common to blame relationship problems on the other.

So, despite the fact that we each find our own distinct persona to be of essential importance, we seem to believe that others could  readily conform to our ideas of how much better it would be if they would change.  It's a kind of blind spot.

The fact is, it is very difficult to change another person without their buy-in.  There are a few things worth a try, such as being an example of a person with the quality you are wishing to see in the other.
Sometimes one person can be a good influence on another. Or, if the problem is interpersonal, you can try changing your part of the pattern---logically, the pattern cannot continue in the same way if part of it is altered.  These are fairly subtle ways of trying to effect change.  A more direct method would be to tell the other how their behavior or habit or characteristic affects you personally.  Also, occasionally you can negotiate an agreement for a behavior change when interacting with you; if you get an agreement, you have accomplished a degree of change.

But, for the most part, you cannot, no matter how much you may wish it, change another by force of will.  Even therapists---and I call myself a change artist---can't change a patient who isn't looking to transform or is, at least, receptive to suggestions for doing things differently or thinking in a new way.

Back to The Man in the Mirror (see earlier post).