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Not Knowing And The Art Of Deception

“The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.”-Socrates

One of the most important things that separates the human species from other types of socratesmammals is our incredibly powerful and adaptable intellect. As young children, we all had an insatiable curiosity to know everything. (If you are a parent, then you have suffered through the at first cute, then later obnoxious “Why?” stage that your children went through right after the “terrible twos,” where the word “why?” was asked a couple dozen times a day.) You started school and for a while it was the greatest thing that ever happened to you, as your teachers had no choice but to provide answers to some of those questions that you had. But, alas, somewhere around fifth grade things got competitive, you began to learn things that you had no interest in, you began to become aware of your peers and what they thought of you. By seventh and eighth grade you became very concerned about how you looked to others, wanting to fit in and maintain a kind of cool and aloof persona, completely unaware that all of them felt exactly the same way. You slowly and subtly began to exaggerate when speaking about your abilities and possessions. It is one of the ways that most of us try to feel better about ourselves. We weren’t trying to deceive anybody and the outcome of most of these white lies were not harmful. We just wanted others to feel good about us and, as a result, feel better about ourselves.

A 2002 study conducted by Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts found that, on the average, people tell two or three lies in a typical 10 minute conversation. Subsequent studies show 90% of four-year-olds intuitively grasp the concept. Most of the subjects in the U-Mass study were in denial of their lying until confronted with videotaped evidence. Monitor your conversations for the next 24 hours notice how frequently you also exaggerate, embellish, or come up with an answer when you simply don’t have one. Also notice the number of times when “I don’t know” would have been a more appropriate answer.

My first career was as a high school history teacher. Early on in my teaching career I got el2008summer_voglerteacher-wsome great advice from one of the many mentors that I had at that time. He told me that if a student asked a question that I didn’t know the answer to- and as a 22 year old, right out of the box teacher, this was the case more often than not- that I should answer with, “You know what, I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll find out and get back to you.” I proceeded to do this despite the fact that it went against my instincts and appeared to be counter intuitive. After all I was the teacher and wasn’t I supposed to have all the answers? I found, over time, that it was some of the best advice that a teacher, or anyone else for that matter, could follow. It never failed that the next day when I started class by answering that question for a student from the previous day that I had created an interested student who liked my history class and subject because I gave an honest answer and the student and I developed a shared interest in some obscure, sometimes irrelevant, point of curiosity.

Studies indicate that when people lie, they are usually lying about meaningless and insignificant things in an attempt to be more interesting, tell a better story, or come across as more likable. Research indicates that 86% of people lie to their parents, 75% to friends, 73% to siblings, and 69% to spouses. A study done in Great Britain show that 30% of respondents lied about having seen the classic movie The Godfather, and, if you are someone who is involved in online dating, be aware that 90% of people lie in their profiles.

Fortunately, most of the fibs alluded to thus far fall into the “white lie” category, harming no one and, in some cases, even making someone else feel better about themselves or even boosting the self-esteem of the fibber. Perhaps the most serious lies that people tell themselves are those that are never even spoken. People often engage in self deception on a variety of topics that they think they should be fully informed about and an expert in, feeling sheepishly stupid about asking others for help or advice or even admitting to themselves that “I don’t know.”

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”- Plato

Plato, Socrates and a host of other brilliant minds throughout history were considered to be thoughtful and deep thinkers because they took the time to ponder carefully over questions that were posed or presented to them. They took their time to think things through and were willing to admit when they didn’t know. Thomas Edison claims to have failed over 1000 times in the development of the light bulb, the Wright brothers, both high school dropouts, crashed two planes before their successful flight, and Albert Einstein struggled in a traditional classroom setting. The reality is that people believed to possess that intangible which we call genius struggle like the rest of us. One of the things that makes them different is they know enough to know that they don’t know and, like many things that need to change, acknowledging a behavior is the first step towards changing it.

All too often poor decision-making is a result of making a too quick decision rather than admitting that we are not aware of all we need to know to make that decision a good one. How many times have you said to yourself, “If I knew now what I knew then…”? Of course, we can not speed up the passage of time in the acquisition of knowledge, but we can perhaps slow things down a bit, admit that we don’t have the necessary information, and proceed from there. Think about how many decisions you feel pressured to make hastily because of some self imposed feeling of inadequacy or because you can’t admit to yourself that you just don’t know and don’t have all the answers. Slowing the decision-making process down and asking yourself some questions can lead you to make a better choice. Questions like:

 
⦁ Do I have all the information I need to make the best decision?
⦁ Is there someone or something that I should refer to for more clarity before deciding?
⦁ Have I done due diligence in as many areas as possible?

This entire process of self reflection may take a matter of moments or it may take a matter of days, depending on the kind of decision and the time frame that your answer requires. There will, however, come a time with many of life’s questions were you simply have to make a decision and stick with it. I’m not encouraging you to be a tire kicker, I am suggesting that all this probably could make better choices if we slowed the decision-making process down and admitted that we did not have all the answers. Once you have answered the questions satisfactorily, take that leap of faith, burn the boats, and take some action. Don’t look back or second-guess yourself. Very often a new choice or important decision takes some time to get used to and get comfortable with. If you’ve done your homework before you decided, then there is no reason to “woulda, coulda, or shoulda.” You made the best decision you could have with the information that you had at that time. People often surprise themselves when they push forward despite their reservations after a decision has been thoughtfully made.

But what about those white lies that many of us tell routinely? These kind of lies are essentially harmless, but it does make sense to know what our motivation is. The first step is noticing how frequently exaggerations, hyperbole, or embellishment enters into our conversations. Some questions to ask yourself are:
⦁ Who am I trying to impress with this white lie, the listener or me? If the answer is little-white-lies-we-tell-each-otheryourself, then take a good look at why you feel you are lacking in a certain area
⦁ Is there any harm to anyone else because of this white lie? If there is then the lie probably does not belong in your conversation regardless of its color.
⦁ Does this white lie make somebody else feel better about themselves, perhaps raising their self esteem? If it does, then it’s probably okay and maybe it’s even the right thing to do. It certainly is a good idea to agree with your buddy from work that you think his new girlfriend is gorgeous, or that your wife’s new hairstyle looks great, and of course that new dress doesn’t make her look fat. These are definitely times where, “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you,” are not the best ways to win friends and influence people.

Knowing enough to know that you don’t know can be complicated, but can save you a lot of aggravation. Taking a little time before making significant decisions and recognizing when you exaggerate during conversations can make your life a little more stress free and even a little more interesting.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln

John

P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

Why Time Speeds Up As We Age And What You Can Do About It

“Sure, everything is ending,” Jules said, “but not yet.”- Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Time is the most ever present, yet misunderstood aspect of the human experience. To be 4382338132_bf43fbc41chuman is to be aware of its existence, its passing, and its inevitability. It has been a major subject of study for human religion, philosophy, and science since the onset of human awareness, yet it eludes a universal definition that fits in all its applications. It is the most experiential aspect of what it means to be a human being, and it is perceived as passing more quickly over the course of a lifetime.

The way that an individual perceives time plays a major role in a person’s mental and emotional health. If person feels that there is not enough of it, too much of it, or that it is passing too quickly or too slowly, they are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. Being able to manage the perception of time’s passing is important to a person’s sense of well-being. As a child, most of us struggle with the slow and arduous passing of time as we wait for things we are told are going to happen in the future, things we look forward to such as going to school, summer vacation, and being a grown-up. We lived for future events we thought would never arrive, but sure enough they did. For young adults who are starting careers and family, time tends to slow, or at least it seems to, as all those grown up events we anticipated begin to unfold, although usually not in the original manner that we intended. Once we realize, somewhere in early middle age, that we are in fact living those moments that we anticipated, the perception of time becomes much quicker, distorted by the accumulated events of our lifetime.

Of course time does not change, but our perception of time, and our relationship with it, does. There is a subjective perception that time speeds up during our walk of life and, as a result, people tend to underestimate intervals of time as they get older, finding themselves making statements like, “Really, it’s been that long?” or being more capable of waiting for things to occur. A length of time, for example six weeks, an eternity for a teenager, will pass in the blink of an eye for an adult over 50. What accounts for this change in our perception and what are some implications on our health and wellness?

As young children, we live in the present with very little ability to project or anticipate what clockwill happen in the future? When a child does something stupid and an adult asks “What were you thinking?,” the answer “nothing” is quite true because children truly live in the present moment, being unable to anticipate what will happen next because they have very little frame of reference. They simply have not had a lot of “nexts ” in their lives, requiring them to be extremely engaged in the present moment in order to properly process and function. An adult, having a frame of reference and experiences to draw from, will more than likely make better choices. One day to an 11-year-old would be approximately 1/4,000 of their life, while one day to a 55-year-old would be approximately 1/20,000 of their life. This helps to explain why a random, ordinary day may therefore appear longer for a young child than an adult. By age 40 and adults perception of time will be eight times faster than that of an 11-year-old.

When something is new and novel, our perception is that time passes more slowly. In the acquisition of any new skill, job, relationship, or task we tend to accumulate rituals and habits in order to work or relate in a more efficient and automated manner. When things are on automatic pilot mode, time passes much more quickly because the mind is not absorbing the step-by-step, moment to moment, passage of time as it does when something is new and novel. The brain does not have to slow down to absorb and observe what is happening. Think about the first few years of a new job, a relationship, or starting a family. Those years are probably perceived as passing slowly. As habits, rituals, and other adaptive functions develop, we go on automatic pilot and our perception of time accelerates. Pioneering American psychologist, William James, explained it this way: “Each passing year converts some of this experience into automatic routine which we hardly note at all, the days and the weeks smooth themselves out in recollection to contentless units, and the years grow hollow and collapse.”

This distortion of time that occurs as a natural part of the aging process is quite frequently something that brings an individual into coaching or counseling sessions. People often feel that “life is passing me by,” or that it is “too late for me to do that now,” or “I would have loved to of done that with my life but I’m too old for that now.” Taken to an extreme, an individual may have the subjective perception that they are, in some sense, dying. There is often hope for those that seek help, as they are not yet 100% convinced that their thoughts are true. There are others who quit taking care of their health and wellness, giving up any ambitions about what they can do with the rest of their life, as they begin to believe this distorted process of the acceleration of time. This can be problematic, as a person who believes this in the early 50s is condemning themselves to approximately 25 years of self-imposed despair, stagnancy, anxiety and depression. Often the origin of all of this negativity is a belief that it is “too late” to accomplish some goal, change careers, start or end a relationship, or get into top physical condition. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/woulda-turned-pro-myths-glory-days/ )

The good news is that there are some ways that a adult can, if not slow the passage of time, see it a little more realistically:
⦁ Time appears to slow when we are fully engrossed in an activity that we love doing, captures our attention, and occupies us on the physical as well as emotional level. Activities that are physically challenging or perceived as a emotionally exciting slow down our perception of time, forcing us to pay attention in order to function. Taking up a new sport or physical activity, learning a new subject in an academic setting such as a classroom, or getting back into the dating scene after years of seclusion, are all examples of things that might fit the bill. If you are relatively healthy and adventurous, you may want to consider things like kayaking, martial arts, skydiving, or even performing karaoke a couple of nights per week. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/find-flow/ )
⦁ Time does not fly when you are having fun. It may appear that way as you are performing an activity that fully engrossed as you, but doing this activity frequently contributes to an overall sense that time is slowing down. The perception of fun is due to the novelness of an experience and the more novel experiences one has, the slower the overall perception of time becomes. Activities that you find to be fun are not only valuable in and of themselves, but they are a requirement if you want to maintain a healthy sense of well-being as you age. Studies of people who live to beyond the age of 80 frequently find that they took up some new activity during their senior years that breathed new life into them. Going to the gym, golf, and ballroom dancing are all good examples. Many senior citizens buy themselves additional years by entering into new relationships after the death of a spouse. Continuing to enjoy life and grow as a person is important at all stages of life, but it is even more critical as one approaches their senior years. Succumbing to the time distortion is tantamount to giving up the will to live in many instances.
⦁ Stop living in the past. Notice that I said living there, not visiting. Memories are important anchors and greatly enrich our lives, contributing to a sense of value and self-esteem. It’s important not to make that the sole focus of our emotional energy. While we should revisit pleasant memories often, we should have things that we are still looking forward to doing. It’s these anticipatory events that will help us slow down our perception of time.
⦁ Spend some time each day in some meditative type of activity. Focusing on the present oldmoment is one of the best ways to slow the perception of time. Studies show that even a brief meditation practice can extend a person’s life considerably. This is a major reason that Buddhist monks and Roman Catholic nuns live so long. Their constant prayers and meditation are important part of their lifestyle. In addition to the health and wellness aspects of a meditation practice, there is a time distortion that occurs that is very beneficial, creating a more positive relationship with time. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/moving-meditation/ and http://mindbodycoach.org/breathing-101-improving-lifes-basic-activity/ for some simple ways to start your own practice.)
⦁ Approach life with the open-mindedness and wonder that you had as a child. Become more curious about the simple things that surround you. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/may-killed-cat-curiosity-good/ and http://mindbodycoach.org/beginners-mind/ )

Realize that you have the ability to distort time. While you cannot change the absolute nature of time, you can distort your perception of it. Following the activities suggested here will have the immediate benefit of enriching your life and the long term benefit of making it last, or at least appear to last, longer.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

John

P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

Oval Office Blues: What Some Overcame To Be The President Of The United States

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Next year is an election year, candidates from both political parties are beginning to throw2016 their hats into the ring, subjecting themselves to incredible public scrutiny and, in some cases humiliation, for the chance at becoming the president of the United States. In previous generations, the electorate frequently voted for candidates that they knew little about, taking their chances they had made the right pick. For the 2016 election that will be impossible. The media will subject the candidates to the most intensive inspection this side of the Westminster Dog Show. You might ask yourself; Who would subject themselves to this? Why would someone do this to themselves? What kind of person would think they had the type of ability to handle such a daunting task? You might even believe that a person would have to have something wrong with them to even consider being the President of the United States. It seems that many historians and psychiatrists agree with you.

A 2006 article in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease conducted an in-depth study of the first 37 presidents of the United States. If you were absent that day, those are the presidents from George Washington to Richard Nixon. Material about each president was extracted from hundreds of sources and presented to experienced psychiatrists, each of which conducted an independent review of the correlation between behaviors, symptoms, and medical information and the source material to the DSM-IV criteria for mental disorders, a reference book which the psychiatric community uses to form a diagnosis and develop a course of treatment. This study concluded that eighteen (49%) of the Presidents met criteria suggesting a psychiatric disorder: depression (24%), anxiety (8%), bipolar disorder (8%), and alcohol abuse/dependence (8%) were the most common. In 10 instances (27%), a disorder was evident during presidential office, which in most cases probably impaired job performance.

The intention of this article is not to denigrate the character or mental capabilities of those that have held the Oval Office, it is rather the opposite. It takes incredible character, perseverance, persistence, and resilience to run for the presidency of the United States, let alone function in what is perhaps the most high pressure job on the planet. What makes the personalities of those that have become our chief executive different from the rest of us 9 to 5ers? While any job worth doing is going to present challenges, I have to think that those facing the President of the United States might be a little more daunting than what most of us struggle with. It also would seem that since so many presidents have struggled with emotional difficulties before and after obtaining the office that they just might be made out of sterner stuff than the rest of us.

Here’s some of the psychiatrists findings:

⦁ John Adams may have suffered from bipolar depression. Adams possessed incredible energy and was prone to long bouts isolative behavior and depression that he managed by walking as much as 6 miles per day. Hardly a fitness fanatic, his critics derisively referred to him as “His Rotundity” because of his overweight and portly appearance
⦁ Thomas Jefferson was virtually a social phobic. Much of what we know about Jefferson came from things that he wrote. He never gave a major speech as President of the United States, as he was incredibly shy in public and self-conscious about his rather high-pitched, almost effeminate voice. The words that we remember as coming from Thomas Jefferson, such as the Declaration of Independence, were those that were carefully penned as Jefferson worked in isolation.
⦁ James Madison exhibited behavior consistent with major depressive disorder. He struggled greatly with these emotions as he waged the very unpopular War of 1812.
⦁ John Quincy Adams struggled with depression as well as the challenge of being the son of one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Adams. A one term president, considered to be a failure at the time, he later became what most historians consider the most effective Secretary of State our nation ever had.
⦁ Franklin Pierce suffered from depression prior to taking office, suffered posttraumatic stress disorder from witnessing the death of his son who was killed after being struck by a train, and drank alcoholically during his one term in office.
⦁ Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression so severe that twice before he held office his friends had him on suicide watch, fearful that he would take his own life. His depression was so severe at times that it was accompanied by psychotic features.
⦁ Ulysses Grant suffered from social phobia, probably ADHD, and was an alcoholic. The successful periods of his life occurred during times when he had relative sobriety and was able to harness his potential.
⦁ James Garfield suffered from depression, possibly exacerbated by his service during the Civil War.
⦁ Rutherford B Hayes, like Garfield a Civil War veteran, suffered from episodes of depression consistent with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
⦁ Theodore Roosevelt showed signs of bipolar disorder. Of all the presidents analyzed, his trbehavior and lifestyle was the most obvious to diagnose. Prone to episodes of incredible and boundless energy, Roosevelt was also capable of plunging into weeks of deep and dark despair. Hypomanic at baseline, Roosevelt was able to parlay this disorder into one of the most charismatic leaders in the history of the Oval Office. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/teddy-roosevelt-personal-responsibility/ )
⦁ William Howard Taft suffered from sleep apnea to such a degree that he frequently fell asleep during staff meetings in mid conversation. Standing 5 foot 11 and weighing 350 pounds, he was prone to eating heavily while under stress, evidenced by his 80 pound weight loss in less than a year after he left the office.
⦁ Woodrow Wilson was prone to depression and suffered from generalized anxiety disorder. An academic, Wilson, much like Jefferson, found himself far more able to communicate in the written word than in speech.
⦁ Calvin Coolidge suffered from depressive symptoms, social phobia, and hypochondriasis. His tendency towards pithy comments and brief speeches is a well-known indicator of his social phobia. He engaged in a number of odd practices which he believed were good for his health, such as massaging handfuls of mayonnaise into his scalp daily.
⦁ Herbert Hoover, president when the Stock Market crashed in 1929 sparked the Great Depression, ironically showed signs of depression himself.
⦁ Dwight Eisenhower was diagnosed with depression by his personal physician in 1955 after a heart attack which he suffered while president. During that time is vice president, Richard Nixon, temporarily assume the office.
⦁ Lyndon Johnson suffered from bipolar disorder. Virtually all of the psychiatrists who participated in this study were in agreement that Johnson clearly had the diagnosis. Capable of incredible focus and energy, Johnson also could quite quickly slip into the depths of despair. His abrupt decision to not run for re-election in 1968 more than likely occurred at the beginning of a depressive episode.
⦁ Richard Nixon, if not an alcoholic, clearly drank problematically and alcoholically during the Watergate scandal which brought down his presidency. His all-night drinking episodes may have fueled the paranoid ideation that he displayed during the national outrage which questioned his integrity and character.
⦁ Bill Clinton, while not subject to the 2006 study, is thought by many mental health professionals to be someone who suffer from periods of hypomania that are consistent with a diagnosis of bipolar II. This may explain his boundless energy as well as some poor choices made in his personal life.
⦁ George W Bush, also not subject to the study, may have suffered from ADHD. This could explain his relative lack of success as a young man, his driving under the influence charges in his 20s, and occasional poor word selection when speaking in public. Rather than being ridiculed, he should be viewed as someone who overcame a lot of youthful indiscretions to become the president of the United States.

As Americans, we enjoy the privilege of criticizing and lampooning those that hold the highest political position the nation has. The 2006 Duke University cited above could be sarcastically viewed as an indictment of our electoral process and evidence of the American voting public’s being fooled by the electoral process. It is, however, more accurately a testament to the incredible resilience and resolve of the kind of person who overcomes incredible difficulties to attain and maintain lofty goals. Many of these presidents would not be electable today due to the overwhelming and microscopic scrutiny that current candidates go through on their way to the November elections. Would you vote for the formerly suicidal Abraham Lincoln, the manic Theodore Roosevelt, or for the frequently intoxicated Ulysses S Grant? Probably not. One can only imagine what the comedians of the modern era would have to say about the behavior of these great Americans.

The 2006 study did not come to any conclusions, they merely identified characteristics lincolnAmerican presidents had that indicated mental illness. Consider the character, resilience, and resolve of these men and what they overcame. Clearly these men were made out of stronger stuff than most of us. However you vote next year, whoever you decide to to support, consider these former presidents before you decide to to ridicule the opposition. The lives of these men are a reminder to all of us that, in many cases, the stigma and fears surrounding mental illness are quite often way overblown and exaggerated.

“When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly.” – George Washington

John

P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

“Don’t Go Off Half Cocked”: How To Prevent Yourself From Self-Inflicted Wounds

“Don’t go off half cocked!”- Unknown

Being reminded that we shouldn’t go off half cocked is one of those expressions that we’ve all heard, been reminded of the dangers of doing so, and did it anyway, all the while having no idea what the expression meant. We knew all along it wasn’t good to be half cocked, we kind of knew we were half cocked, we did it anyway, and of course there were consequences.

What is half cocked and why are so many of us functioning in half cocked mode much of misfirethe time? Half cock is a term used to describe the safety mechanism that existed in firearms during the days of flintlock weapons. In those days the shooter had to pull back the hammer partially in order to ready the weapon to fire. These guns required setup time in order to be fired, making spontaneous shooting difficult and in some cases impossible. There was a notch on the weapon where the hammer could be set in an intermediate position, neither half closed nor open entirely, the position being referred to as “half cocked” position. The term “going off half cocked” came from the failure of the half cock mechanism to prevent the gun from firing unintentionally, thus making going off half cocked a bad thing.

Today, when someone goes off half cocked, it refers to irrational behavior that usually occurs from an ill thought out decision to act or say something without thinking it through before hand. We usually respond too quickly without thinking about what the consequences of our actions could be, and what impact our behavior may have on ourselves and others. Anger, violence, verbal abuse, and overwhelm are some of the consequences of a person behaving is a half cocked manner. “Don’t go off half cocked,” is intended to be a reminder to think things through and make a conscious decision on how to act in the face of an emotionally triggering event. Failure to do so could be, in some instances, just as damaging as that musket that misfired during the War of 1812.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term, action oriented type of psychotherapy that focuses on thinking patterns and behavior in order to allow a person to more consciously choose the results that they get. There is a simple cognitive behavioral strategy that can prevent you from going off half cocked. It involves a simple, four step process that is simple to remember because it rhymes:
Name-give what you are feeling some descriptive words. This can be done internally or out loud depending on where you are and what is triggering you. If you are in a volatile situation, it may be helpful to take a deep breath first. You need to know exactly what you yellingare experiencing before you can make a rational decision on a course of action. Name the feelings. What’s going on for you at that moment? Describe it. This advice may sound trite, but it is critical. You cannot act rationally if you are not fully aware of what is going on for you. The triggering event could be something that is instantaneous, such as being cut off in traffic, or some unpleasant situation that is unfolding over a long period of time, such as losing a job or a significant relationship.
Claim-accept your feelings, don’t deny them or pretend they don’t exist. This is that therapeutic cliche that one needs to “accept responsibility.” You’re not necessarily accepting responsibility for the outside triggering event, what you are accepting responsibility for is what you are feeling. Don’t be too judgmental about your feelings. Feelings are not literally real, they are internal representations of an outside event. They serve a purpose in that they give you an indicator that a triggering event is unacceptable to you at that moment. Feelings serve the same purpose for the emotions that pain serves for the body; they let you know that something is wrong and give you the opportunity to make things right. Feelings are not facts. They are however experienced as very real to the one who has them. Make sure that you are not exaggerating your feelings importance or making more of the situation they have it requires.
Tame-now that you figured out what you are feeling, it’s time to make a conscious decision on whether or not to take action. Taming the emotion allows you to attack the situation, if that’s what is required, with a rational and clear head, fully aware of what the consequences of that action might be. There are many strategies that can help you tame whatever it is that you’re feeling such as deep breathing, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive restructuring, and defusion techniques. You can refer to the “therapies” tab to the right of this article to get some helpful ideas. Start with http://mindbodycoach.org/is-your-thinkin-stinkin/
Aim-after you have gone through the first three steps you are more aware of how you want to cope with the challenging event or events. You may want to shoot to kill, fire a warning shot, wave the weapon menacingly, or not even draw your weapon at all. The important thing is that you are in control, fully aware of what you are feeling, less reactive, and more rational. You may decide to use actions, words, nonverbal behavior, silence, or even choose to ignore responding at all. When you have thought through your options and choose to ignore responding you are not being passive, you are making a conscious response that you have decided is your best option at that moment. What’s important is how you feel about your choice and whether or not it gives you a better chance of getting a result that you are looking for.

This four step process, Name, Claim, Tame, and Aim can slow things down just enough charleton-hestonto allow you to make a decision that you are more comfortable with. Whether the event is in instantaneous confrontation to your ego or a challenge that builds over a longer period of time, this four part strategy will keep you from shooting yourself in the foot. Practicing this strategy on a regular basis, combined with a practice of exercise and meditation could be what it takes to make you that mellow and thoughtful person that you’ve always wanted to be.

“The fascination of shooting depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.”- P.G. Wodehouse

John

P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

“Come With Me If You Want To Live:” Why Arnold Was Right About Weight Training

“We are here to pump you up!”-Hans and Franz

Fitness, diet, and exercise trends come and go. It seems that every year or so there is a hans franznew latest and greatest exercise or diet fad that is going to allow its practitioners to lead healthier, happier, productive, and certainly much better looking lives. They often highlight how little activity will be required, how easy it will be to do, and sometimes even promise that benefits can occur in the privacy of your own home while you sleep. Of course, your friends will be amazed. One exercise that has stood the test of time is good old-fashioned barbells and dumbbells, weight training.

Weight training has been around for a couple hundred years in various forms. It evolved from a subcultural fad to a mainstream activity paralleling the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian born bodybuilder, actor, governor of California, and now American cultural icon. Back in the 1970s he spoke of the health and wellness benefit of weight training and predicted that in the future everyone would be lifting. At the time, most of what he said about anything was entertaining, kind of funny, and implausible. Forty-five years later doctors, orthopedists, and physical therapists have gotten millions to lift in order to maintain physical and emotional wellness, develop general overall health, rehabilitate injuries, and increase our lifespan.

“Come with me if you want to live.”- Arnold, as the the Terminator

Research studies have consistently shown that weight training has health benefits that go far beyond merely pumping up muscles and strengthening bones. Having more lean muscle mass gives older people better cognitive functioning, reduces depression, lowers the risk of diabetes, boosts good cholesterol, and increases overall health and well-being. “Muscle is our largest metabolically active organ, and that’s the backdrop that people usually forget,” said Kent Adams, director of the exercise physiology lab at Cal State Monterey Bay. Strengthening the muscles “has a ripple effect throughout the body on things like metabolic syndrome and obesity.” It also impedes the development of sarcopenia, age related shrinkage of the musculoskeletal system. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/preventing-shrinkage/ )

Until the 1970s, when Arnold Schwarzenegger began to spout off about the benefits of bodybuilding, weight training and weightlifting was a bizarre, subcultural phenomenon of strange men who posed in their underwear and bulbous Eastern Europeans who hoisted the equivalent of small automobiles overhead. Eventually, the athletic world realized that weight training would create stronger, faster, and better athletes for virtually every sporting event. Athletes training for football, basketball, track, and even sophisticated sports like golf found their skills greatly aided by consistent use of barbells and dumbbells. Eventually, an eccentric Florida businessman-bodybuilder named Arthur Jones developed a series of weightlifting machines which he called Nautilus and using progressive resistance became mainstream. The medical world soon found that weights could not only prevent many health problems, but was the best way to rehabilitate a person following surgery or any injury that damaged the structure of the body. By 2015 there’s virtually no one hasn’t done the physical therapy using light weights for some injury or another.

Science, research studies, and mainstream medicine now realizes that strength training with weights is one of the most beneficial things that one can do to improve their physical health, quality of life, and increase their longevity. Here are some of the facts:

⦁ Weight training preserves muscle mass. After age 40 the average person loses approximately 1% of muscle mass per year to something called sarcopenia. Resistance training, particularly weight training, helps preserve this muscle mass. This gradually diminishing muscle mass is a silent killer that weight training can prevent.
⦁ Weight training preserves bone mass. Most everyone knows how osteoporosis impacts women during menopause and beyond, but what most are unaware of is that it also affects men after the age of 60. The reasons why are unclear, but what is clear is that weight bearing exercise can increase and maintain bone density. There’s no better than weight bearing exercise than training with good old-fashioned barbells and dumbbells.
⦁ Weight training can be cardiovascular exercise for those who are unable to run or even walk. All muscles, including the heart, are taxed by weight training. For those who have difficulty walking or running, weight training can activate the arms as secondary pumps to the heart, creating cardiovascular fitness. For those who are more mobile, weight training with little to no rest between sets and exercises can improve overall fitness while preserving muscle mass. Many studies indicate that training with weights is a safer and better way to increase cardiovascular fitness and endurance while minimizing the trauma to the body that comes with running and other forms of intense cardio.
⦁ Weight training increases your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories throughout your day. Muscle mass burns fat far more efficiently and effectively than any other part of your body. After the age of 40, eating the same amount of food and maintaining the same amount of activity will cause the average person to gain about 10 pounds per decade due to declining metabolic rate. In others, bodyweight remains the same but looks different. We’ve all heard someone say, “I weigh the same as I did when I was 30, but I’m carrying it differently.” Something to be proud of, but weight training may be able to make you carry that weight a little better.
Arnie⦁ Intelligent weight training is far safer than most people would imagine. This is where Schwarzenegger missed the boat. He extolled the virtues of weight training in the classic movie Pumping Iron while heaving, shoving, screaming, and yelling, describing it in a weird combination of pleasure and pain. Benefits can come from training at moderate intensity.
⦁ Weight training is the ultimate lifespan friendly exercise routine. Too many people associate weight training with their teens and 20s, when it’s fairly normal to be extremely focused on looks and body type. The same people have often stopped training by the age of 40, either not exercising at all or opting for less time invasive activities such as walking. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s probably not the best way to maintain health and fitness. If the same people can get over the fact that the weights that they are lifting will decrease over the years, they may be able to continue to reap the benefits. Focusing on how well lifting makes you feel, rather than how well it makes you look, can shift your mindset allowing you to receive the health benefits over a longer period of time. Contrary to what you may think, it’s better to feel good than to look good. (See also http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/growing_stronger.pdf )
⦁ Weight training benefits cognitive functioning. A 2010 study in Archives of Internal Medicine found that women ages 65 to 75 who did resistance training sessions once or twice a week over the course of a year improved their cognitive performance, while those who focused on balance and tone training declined slightly. One reason for the improvement, researchers believe, may be that strength training triggers the production of a protein beneficial for brain growth. Even if you’re not over 60, lifting weights can give you a mental lift that is incredibly empowering. Human beings are, at the end of the day, sophisticated animals who were developed to be physical beings. Weight training puts you in touch with powerful and empowering feelings.
⦁ Weight training, particularly using barbells and dumbbells rather than machines, can improve balance, maintain athleticism, and prevented tendency to fall as one ages. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/ive-fallen-cant-get/ )

Adding weights to your exercise and wellness regimen does not have to be a major production. While you can run out and join a gym, it’s hardly necessary and for some may not be advisable. If weight training does not fit conveniently into your schedule or lifestyle, then you’re probably not going to follow through, enjoy it, or do it over the long haul. While Arnold was perhaps a little over-the-top in the 1970s with his enthusiasm, he has served as an example of someone who has made it part of his lifestyle. You should do the same. Your goal was not to look good just for the summer of 2015, but to feel vigorous, alive, and well every day of your life. Weight training is the best way to do that.

If you have no idea how to lift, you may want to engage the services of a personal trainersenior-older-people-lifting-weights-12022486 for a few sessions. If you’ve lifted in the past, then gradually get back into it. The links that I have provided here give you some intelligent plans to utilize weight training to improve your health. If you opt for a gym membership, great, just make sure that you actually use that membership. That tag on your key ring is not a fashion statement, it’s for swiping in when you go to the gym. Make sure you go. If you opt for working out at home, then there are tons of low cost weights and exercise equipment available at yard sales and on craigslist. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money nor does it have to take up a lot of your time. It does have to be something that is consistently a part of your lifestyle.

John

P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

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