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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Venezuela buenos dias

Good morning Venezuela!  After the United States and Canada, you have the next highest readership here.  After you is China.  I am happy to have your visits and find it very interesting to see where in the world the interest is in current psychology.
Soy feliz de tenerle aqui.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Paradox of Different

                     Variety is the Spice of Life---or is it?

 On the one hand, we are drawn to differentness.  Remember the oft-quoted saying, "opposites attract" also discussed previously in this blog.  We all tend to really like and sometimes become enchanted with, a new friend or a new romantic partner and it is their quirks that we are enchanted by.  Most celebrities trade on this tendency; they continuously up the ante in  this regard, trying to stand out from their competitors by being more different---usually with a new look or costume and also with wild antics,---flaunting convention in general and in their sector of competitors.

On the other hand, people often have lots of trouble with each other due to the differences between them.  Sometimes we find ourselves gossiping about celebrities and it is often about things they are doing, or wearing, or saying, that are controversial.  As parents, when our teenagers identify with the pop culture celebrities who are the most outlandish (in an effort to make a strong statement to the last generation, "we are different from  you"), we are aghast.  It's very common, for example, for adults to criticize or even sneer at, the clothing styles of the next generation or their music choices.  Some adults, who are parents, will go so far as to forbid the wearing of certain fashions by their adolescent kids.

Confusion, on this topic reigns!

The neighborhood I live in is quite diverse in the make-up of its occupants.  We have, in a 50 house neighborhood, families from China, The Philippines, Tibet, Africa, India, and Taiwan; we also have American-born residents who are ethnically Mexican or Italian, or of Northern European descent.  It has to be, that many of these people chose this neighborhood because of a personal value on diversity (there are nearby neighborhoods that are homogeneous in their make-up).  And, yet, there are lots of disagreements on how to conduct the business of the Homeowners' Association due to cultural differences.  People get offended sometimes just because of a perceived attitude on the part of a neighbor who, after all, did grow up in a completely different way, with a whole different set of assumptions.

So, what about this contradiction---being fascinated by differences, even romanticizing them, on the one hand and, on the other, bristling and becoming defensive over the smallest unintended slight?  Some anthropologists have theorized that this is all genetically explainable.  Being able to pick up difference helped humans of earlier times to spot their enemy, primarily.  However, we also needed to be able to spot a small animal in a large, complicated landscape, if we were hungry.
Genetic differences are good for creating healthy babies.  (In fact, a study was done where women were able to pick out men whose immune systems were different from theirs---an advantage for potential off-spring---they were more attracted to the smell of those mens' t-shirts...!)

This opposition within may, in fact, be built in.  But, sometimes it can be harmful.  De-valuing someone for making a minority choice (such as a healthy person who chooses not to bear a child) can be an unnecessary burden to that person who has to answer intrusive questions over and over---to feel obligated to explain themselves.  "To not have children is a choice, not a disease or a deficit..."More Magazine (2-year)  Nanette Varian.
 Another unfortunate result is the tendency to categorize others so as not to have to deal with their individuality (isn't that what's so interesting about others?).  It can be dismissive as in the Ageism that is ubiquitous in the United States.  As people age, they do begin to look more alike; they (we) all eventually have the same color of hair---gray.  Our features become softened, less sharply defined.  Even, the differences between women and men become less striking.  However, by lumping all of the elderly together in one convenient box (incidentally, as people age, although they look more alike, they generally become more differentiated and individuated psychologically),--- readily making an assumption about them depending on your cultural expectations (for example: Oh, there's a group of older people, they must be wise, or, as in the typical American mind: Oh there's a group of senior citizens, I won't waste my time on them),--- we are missing something.
 In a less dramatic example, how about a social event, maybe a party where people are likely to be expected to socialize with lots of new people.  Why do you think the usual questions (What do you do?-meaning, job; Do you have children?; Where are you from?, etc.) are asked right at the beginning of the encounter?  I think that these kinds of identifying questions help the questioner to  put the new  person in categories rather than to take on the possibly daunting task of actually trying to get to know an individual.

I hope that my propositions about the inconsistency of human nature regarding difference has given you some food for thought.

Please comment below.

Friday, September 24, 2010

blog business

      Amazon, an unwanted ad, "older posts" and feedback for me.
1.  Two months ago, I posted to you that Amazon would be up and running on the blog in two weeks...!
I struggled & struggled with it.  Two friends tried to help me iron out the wrinkles.  Finally, Wrenay Charlton, you may remember her name as the talented graphic designer who gave the blog its current improved look, came to the rescue.  (She is also a computer whiz).  Now, if you are interested in any of the books I refer to in the posts, you can click on the title and immediately get connected to more information about the book and options for buying it.  Also, you can easily access Amazon for any other purchasing or shopping interests you may have by placing your cursor on the widget at the top of the box on the upper right of the screen.  I hope it turns out to be a convenience for you.
The only remaining glitch is that somehow a company that has my same name has an advertisement on my page that I can't get rid of.  So, for now, know that I have no connection  to that wi_ company.

My Office
2.  I am pleased to see that many of you read posts that are not on the front page, although no one yet has gone back to posts written before 2010.  The topics I write about are not time-dependent, one could almost say, they are timeless.  I have only written twice about topics limited to that current time---one was to share with you information about an incredible art event that was taking place in Canada; the other was a cultural exploration of President Obama and how his background might be influencing his response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf when that happened.
Other than those two, of about 135 articles, they should all be as relevant today as the day they were written.  You can skip around in the blog and read what peaks your interest; you do not have to read it in order.
3.  Once again, I am going to ask you for comments.  Checking one of the boxes that always appear at the bottom of each post is the easiest way.  If you want to write a comment, you can easily do that anonymously.  Of course, knowing who you are would be even better!  In any case,  here's me, hoping to hear from you!!

Protecting Your Own Highest Good

  Prize your personal treasure

What is it that is central to you?  Essential.  Can you pick a condition or a personal state or an activity in your life that is the most important to you?
One way of zeroing in on what that one most important thing is  to make a short list first.  Then, imagine life without each one.  It's a way of backing in to feeling what you value most highly, if you don't know what it is for you.

This is partly a personal post-because I had been thinking about this for myself.  What is my most precious priority for me?  And, how will I protect it?  Then, as will sometimes serendipitously happen in therapy practices, a patient came in talking about that very subject.
In his case, it was quite sad as he had lost the most precious thing to him---so, here was a case of recognizing what was personally important, after the fact.
Whatever it is, it will be known only to you.  Others who are close to you may be able to make a good guess, but, only you can truly declare what that essential-to-you thing is. 
 It may be your religion, it may be your marriage, it may be your health, it may be your freedom, it may be your family's well-being, it may be your work, your business, an interest you pursue with a passion, maybe it's a person; it could be so many things.  
What is it for you?!
What I am considering myself is, how can each of us, once having identified that thing, sustain and protect it.  It seems that there must be a commitment.

I remember one former patient who had suffered great personal losses in her life.  She once told me that, at a certain point, she decided that she wanted a life that contained as few stressors as possible.  To that end, she had made many choices to create that condition for herself.
Sometimes we may have to give up something else to keep our one thing secure.  We may have to do things pro-actively to nourish it.  Above all, try to not have happen what did to the fellow I first mentioned who, inadvertently, despoiled his own most important thing---by neglect.
He, sadly, did not realize the significance of this thing in his life until it was lost. 
 So, first and foremost, identify it for yourself!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Your Question of The Day

"Can you envision how you are likely to look back upon the things you are doing today?  If so, how much do you try to live now as you think you will one day wish you had lived?"

Credit:  The Book of Questions
by Gregory Stock, PH.D

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reverse Charting

                       How to create your own 'self-help book'.

 Here is a different approach to charting your course. We've been talking about designing Dream Boards and Vision Boards:  These offer a way to make a visual image of what you would like to see manifested in your life.  They can include whatever aspects of life seem important---ambitions, relationships, self-development, career, problem resolutions, wishes---whatever the designer wants to include.  It is an excellent way to focus and clarify your concerns and goals.  In addition to offering a readily available reminder of your goals, holding the image of your vision, actively in your mind, is a way of energizing the possibilities.

Today I am going to share a method I have been using myself for many years.  It is, in a sense, the reverse of what I've described above.  It is a kind of caring for the future in reverse, by documenting and learning from the past.
"Let me listen to me and not to them."  Gertrude Stein
 As I move through my days, doing and being, I read something occasionally that is striking to me. Sometimes another person says something surprising , but meaningful to me.  I may have a dream that conveys a message, important to me.  Something difficult or distressing may happen and I have to think long and hard to come up with how I want to deal with that kind of situation in the future.  Questions come up that I want to ponder.  I come across a new idea that I want to remember.  Maybe I have a personal issue that I am struggling with.

 These and other things that are uniquely pertinent to me, I write down, usually on my calendar.  At the end of each year, I follow a ritual.  The ritual is to go through the entire year and put each note, each little scribble, each scrap of a notion, into my journal.  As a result of following this practice conscientiously for a number of years, I have several self-help books that are  specifically for me, they are Life Guides for Paula.  Sometimes I also put in pictures or my own drawings and I leave a little room between my entries because I really want them each to have a frame of space around them.  They have significance to me.  Mine aren't just a list.

The wonderful thing about such a project, or one of the wonderful things is that, of course, you can lay out your book any way you want.

What I end up with is a special, really deeper recording of my life than just the practice of writing down the events would be.  I have a record of the psychic flow of my inner self.  I also have an opportunity to pick out patterns and
repeated themes which helps me to see my blind spots and points me in my own particular growth direction.  I have a book of inspiration, just for me.  I have a book with guidance that couldn't be a better fit.

"I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know."  Joanna Field
 A Life of One's Own

Do you like the idea of reverse charting?  Did you try it?  Let me know---

Note:  With very few exceptions, the illustrative photographs on my blog are my own.  The one of the path through the trees at the top of this post is not mine and, unfortunately I don't know the photographer's name.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Little Lottery Win Each Day

Today a patient came in trying to deal with disappointment.  He has a tradition of taking his family on an annual vacation to Disneyland  This year, for the first time, he can't do it.  He can't financially afford it this time.  The reality of his current financial situation is what it is; we can't change that.  But as we talked about this disappointment he has, he came to an idea for himself.  Aside from not being able to do for his family what he wished he could, he also realized that he was beginning a slow but definite spiral down in the direction of depression (something he has suffered from).  
As we continued to discuss this, he thought that what he needed was something  to look forward to.  He, himself,  happily anticipates the trip to Disneyland with his family each year and now he doesn't have that to plan for.  The end result was that we decided that he should plan one thing per month that he could look forward to.  It didn't have to be a big thing, it wouldn't be able to be an expensive thing, it could be small, it could be of short duration.  It could be anything.  The only requirement, we decided, was that it had to be genuinely exciting for him to think about.  It had to be something he could put on his calendar, that he could really, reasonably do, that would truly feel special to him and out of the ordinary.  He had to be eager about doing it.
So, part of what he took away from our session today was an intention to come up with those ideas, make that list, and get those activities on his calendar.
As I reflected on this idea, I recognized, not for the first time,--- but was reminded,--- that this can be a part of every day.  So, try it for yourself, see if you can make it a point to put some little thing to enjoy into each day.  
Have you looked around and noticed how so many people push themselves through their day---day after day---by sheer force of will?  No joy, very little pleasure, no place for creative energy to emerge.
  It is almost always possible to find a way to put some little pleasant moment in your day.  Make a conscious effort to do it; small things can add up.  Your life will be better.
An earlier post related to this topic is entitled, The Easy Way

Friday, September 10, 2010


"The ocean refuses no river, no river.  The ocean refuses no river.  The open heart refuses no part of me, no part of you.  The open heart refuses no part of me, no part of you."  Ocean by Mirabai Ceiba

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trusting Your Chosen Course

This post is a continuation of the writings on Dream Boards.
 Were you honest with yourself when you created your Dream Board?  As you search within, let your true wishes bubble to the surface.  At the beginning of your process, at least, try not to censure yourself.  You can always refine your quest later (Dream/Vision Boards are not made in concrete-they can evolve).  As you search your psyche for the seeds of your future, your inner images and intuitions should all be listened to.  If you remember your dreams, they, also, may offer a contribution (I think it was, again, Carl Jung

who said:  "an uninterpreted dream is like an unread letter.").  If part of your vision
seems odd (for example, most people might think it would be normal to wish for free money, but, maybe one of your longings is to work or to find yourself in a position to be a contributing citizen), all the better.  As I put forward at the very beginning of this entire blog, each of us is unique!  So, if it seems that some of your dreams are out-of-the-ordinary, so much the better!  It is probably an indication that you are closely aligned with the true you.

"The wisdom hiding in the ground resembles the wisdom within instinct, intuition, the gut; capable of meaningful arrangements if we allow ourselves to trust and get comfortable with it."  Craig Chalquist
To an extent, your Vision Board will self-organize.
Trust:  If it doesn't feel right, toss it.  If it resonates within you, it stays.
Patience is required for the powers of growth to manifest.
Your Vision Board is a reflection of you; you are the designer and it is your life coach.

This post is a continuation of previous posts on the topic of evoking your wishes to bring to consciousness a plan for your life; most are titled Charting Your Course

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It Happens

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances:  if there is any reaction, both are transformed."  Carl Jung

Related posts:  The Absent-Minded Professor.  Flyn' By the Seat of Your Pants.  The Geography of Your Friendships.  Co-ownership or Silent Partner.  A Novel Idea.  A Healing Relationship.