Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Declare Your Independence!

We all think of the Declaration of Independence as a famous document that is an important part of American History -- and that's about it.  Here's how it begins:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

But change the pronouns, and see how much it applies to YOU right now:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one...  to dissolve the... bands which have connected [her] with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle [her], a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that [she] should declare the causes which impel [her] to the separation. 

That is, YOU are entitled to a 'separate and equal' place in life as anyone else is. And you are obliged to be clear about that.

Maybe you're being treated badly in a relationship -- perhaps by a boss, or a significant other. Maybe you believe you are stuck, and that there's no way to change it. What if you believed you weren't stuck -- that you could change it or leave the relationship? What would that open up for you? You might begin to look for ways you could change yourself, so you react differently in the relationship. Or perhaps you'd begin to line up the resources (money, a new job or a place to live, transportation, etc.) so you could leave. Who knows what that would lead to? It might lead to a whole new life.

You also depend on your belief system. You believe that say, gravity exists, or the internal combustion engine works. In this physical reality, it's all unquestionably true. Yet there are many  beliefs you could question, beliefs about yourself or how the world works. What if you believed something different? What would that open up for you? 

Perhaps you believe you lack some ability, like the ability to carry a tune (okay, this is one of mine), and that means you can never sing, at least not in public. But what if you believed that the ability to carry a tune was something you could learn? What would that open up for you? You'd search for a singing teacher who specialized in teaching people who 'can't sing' (in a few seconds, I found this) -- and then you might actually go take lessons. And then you'd probably feel a lot less embarrassed singing 'Happy Birthday", and more a part of a group when they burst into song (e.g. the national anthem), instead of really separate from it.

So just try this simple process on a number of beliefs:
  1. What do I believe? Identify it as best you can. Usually this will be a simple, declarative statement.
  2. What might I believe instead? Nothing too weird, but rather a change you can accept.
  3. What actions can I take based on that new belief? Even one is a good start.
  4. What might that lead to? You don't have to know -- and what you expect may well be wrong -- but the possibility of a better situation is often highly motivating.
Please let me know what your experience is from this!

You Were Born This Way...

People are born either extroverted or introverted -- and our society has a real preference for extroverts, to the point that shyness may be considered an 'illness', according to the DSM IV. But society needs introverts, too -- for the surprising gifts of introverts, read this:

Is Shyness an Evolutionary Tactic? - NYTimes.com

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Podcast of yesterday's (6/22) show is up!

Podcast of yesterday's show, with an interview, about how to be blissful after a break with Dr. Aymee Coget, is up on the web. Please scroll to the bottom of the page, for "Your Life, Your Relationships" and then you can download in iTunes or RSS feed:


You can also listen online at http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/your-life-your-relationships/

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ever feel afraid? anxious? Here's how to deal...

When I went to see "Avatar", I saw it in 3D in an iMax theater, sitting in the sweet spot, which is slightly above the very center seat of the theater. At one point, an actor threw a handful of pebbles at the camera -- and I literally jumped out of my seat! My body sensed that these rocks were coming at me, and flinched before I could think about it. (Btw, I have yet to meet a person who remembers this in the movie -- if you weren't sitting where I was, it made no impression on you whatsoever.)

It turns out that this flinching is normal behavior -- we evolved with it as protection. If a black bear shows up as you're enjoying a picnic, you want to have the adrenaline rush that fear creates so that you begin to run, or freeze, or whatever you should do. This is so important that the neural pathway directly to the amygdala, a part of the brain which registers fear, takes just 12 milliseconds, while the neural pathway to the cerebral cortex, which allows you to consider the information that a bear has appeared, takes 30 - 40 milliseconds, or 3 times as long. So watching "Avatar", my body literally did jump before I could think about it. Researchers call this amygdala reaction "fear".

By contrast, though, most of what we refer to casually as"fear", isn't. It's really anxiety, which is the projection into the future of an expectation of pain. You project that your presentation is going to go badly -- you vividly imagine yourself stuttering, or forgetting crucial statistics, or flubbing your PowerPoint deck -- and you feel a bodily reaction akin to fear.

Fear is a blessing; anxiety, maybe not so much. Anxiety is useful when it prompts you to do every question at the end of each chapter in your math text in order to prepare for a final exam. Anxiety is counterproductive when, having done all that, it prevents you from remembering all the techniques when you're sitting in the exam room.

How do you deal successfully with anxiety? There are techniques that can transform anxiety quickly. One is an NLP technique called the Fast Phobia/Trauma Cure, which works with a traumatic event and changes it so you no longer experience it in the same way. (It's a little tricky to do on yourself; if you want some help, please call me at 888-446-5547). Another experimental one uses drugs to stop those painful memories, which later generate anxiety, from forming in the first place.

Or you can use repeated exposure to whatever makes you anxious, so you learn a normal, useful reaction to it, along with mindfulness.  This is simply noting your bodily and mental states -- and letting them go. It means staying in the present -- while anxiety is all about the future. [If you want to read more, try the book, Nerve, by Taylor Clark.]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Best Psychic by Phone

Okay, it's not beautiful, but it does describe what I do better than my old one, still in existence.

Here it is:

www.BestPsychicByPhone. com

I'm trying to get it crawled by google! Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are You the Teacher or the Student?

I hate going to graduations. My high school one was hot and boring. My college one (ABs stand up, BSEs, stand up -- there, you've graduated) was so uninspiring, that I skipped my business school graduation, and had them mail me my diploma. If I was so uninterested in my own graduation, you can imagine how excited I am to go to other people's graduations.

So I was both surprised and delighted by my niece's high school graduation from Summit Prep, a tiny charter school, which is one of the 10 best high schools in California. The approximately 90 kids in her class were divided into groups of 15 or so, each guided by a mentor. It was the mentors who spoke to their mentees, seated onstage at the elegant old Fox Theater. These were clearly dedicated teachers -- one moved 3000 miles to teach there. They were both highly educated, many with masters and doctorates, judging from their robes and hoods, and compassionate. Every single one spoke, fighting back tears, about how much he or she had learned from the students.

Which reminded me that we are all teachers for each other. If these professional teachers are so clear that these kids, 20 and 30 years their juniors, had taught them, how can I not acknowledge that everyone is a teacher for me?

I can learn about being present and positive from the barista who drops scalding coffee, and then calmly looks up at me to ask for my order. I can learn about holding inner sanity in the midst of chaos from the Harmony Festival MC, a woman dressed up as a sunflower, complete with flower headdress and green dreadlocks, as she crafts a great intro for the next speaker in the blink of an eye, after a 3 minute interview. I can learn love from a strange dog, who wants nothing more than to make friends. And that was just yesterday!

I can learn forgiveness from a woman who grew up in Nazi labor camps, and exudes an air of peace. I can learn deeper truths, like the fact that no one can hurt you unless you agree with what they say, from people who verbally abuse me.

If we are all students, then we must all be teachers, as well, because the existence of one implies the existence of the other. Therefore, I must take responsibility for what I'm teaching those with whom I'm interacting. Am I teaching people to whine when things go wrong? Or am I teaching them to take responsibility for their part in what happened, including their intention? Am I teaching people to be silent, or to scream and yell, or to stand up and tell their truth, clearly and calmly?

Each interaction, therefore, has both a teaching and learning component -- you are the teacher AND the student. So you can ask yourself after each interaction: What am I learning? What am I teaching?

Monday, June 06, 2011

It really does get better!

[Note: This is a bit uncomfortable for me to share, but the points are worth making, and my experience is the best example I know.]

I was a really unusual kid. My Dad had this theory that education expanded the mind exponentially, rather than arithmetically,  that is, each new thing you learned led not to one more new thing, but 5 or 10. Since I was pretty smart anyway, my parents started me in school at age 4. But the school I went to was new and tiny, so kindergarten was one other little girl, Donna, and I sitting in the back of a room of 15 or so first graders. Mrs. Hessian (yes, the teacher's real name) ignored us a fair amount, and so I was bored. I hated being bored. I complained to my parents. The solution was obvious -- put me in first grade. They only had to move my desk up one spot, from the very back of the room, by myself, to one row up, with a couple of other kids. Poor Donna got that back spot. 

That's how I got to be 2 years ahead in school. On top of that, I was very small for my age, so I probably looked a year or two younger. This was fine in elementary school, but when I changed schools for the third time in 3 years, entering middle school, it got to be a problem. On top of that, I was one of 5 nominal Jews in an otherwise completely Christian school (I don't think any of us were very observant). Even worse, I was just about the smartest kid in the class. It didn't help that when the history teacher told us Marx's tenet, 'Religion is the opiate of the people', I publicly agreed. All those things that made me different, made it hard to be accepted. Can you say 'outsider'?

So I spent most of middle school wishing I were normal. Have you seen the TV ad for the new X-Men movie, where one of the characters says, "I just wanna be normal"? That's exactly how I felt.

Luckily, my mother had the presence of mind to tell me that as I got older, I would get out of there, and be able to get to places where I'd be more accepted -- that it would get better. So I really applaud the "It Gets Better Project". Although it's aimed at LGBT kids, the message is there for anyone who is different in any way -- too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too geeky, too artistic, too sensitive, too smart, too anything

It gets better in another way, as well. What makes you an outsider in high school, makes you successful in life. Why? Because "what makes kids popular—conformity, aggression, visibility, and influence—won't make them happy or successful after they graduate... what makes people unpopular in the hallways of high school, mainly an unwillingness to conform, tends to translate into success as an adult."

So if you're an outsider in school, it really will get better. And if you're still nursing the wounds from those times -- it's easier than you think to let them go. Call me at 888-4-Hollis (888-446-5547) and I'll explain.