Monday, December 28, 2009

The Not-so-Fine Print
...... it can be a source of temper

Lots of information for us to tap into out there – especially via the Internet. And although it’s information, it may not be true knowledge.

Some items are hopeful, more are fear producing – and there are ‘key words’ to help you decide how to interpret more accurately.

The problem (and I’m not sure if that’s really what I want to call it) – the problem is some people, far too many people, take what they read as the gospel truth – even when the information includes the speculative words right up front.

‘Fine print’ refers to information which has to be read ‘carefully’, in order to decipher and interpret the correct, precise meaning. What I’m talking about with not-so-fine print are words which people often skip over. As a result, they believe what they read to be totally ‘true’.

How germs may help your heart

People who are more spiritual may be better able to deal with the pain and limitations of chronic disease.

Babies born to women who take antidepressants may be more likely to have health problems, but that doesn't mean stopping medication.

Brain scan may reveal risk for Alzheimer's disease

Could fat babies mean fat toddlers?

Mediterranean Diet May Fight Depression

…Training May Be Tied to Health Risks

Vaccine May Treat Cocaine Addiction

Autism May Be More Common Than Thought

Congress may consider fees, advice issues in retirement accounts

Post-traumatic stress may harm kids' brains

The study suggests…

Finance gap could wreck climate talks

…the arrangement of a mother's genes could impact whether her son is gay

Some children from poor families may be receiving powerful drugs not because they need them, but because…

…suggests that the ice cap may nearly vanish in the summer much sooner than the year 2030

A cup (or more) of coffee or tea a day could keep Type 2 diabetes away

Any activity that requires long periods of close-up work, such as reading, may change the shape of the eye.

New Danish study says looking young apparently means a longer life.

High Leptin Levels May Protect Against Dementia

Psychological Approaches May Have the Potential to Block Fearful Memories

Amyloid Imaging May Identify Preclinical Alzheimer's Disease

Impulsivity Measures May Help Flag Future Pathological Gamblers

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Be Effective for Elderly With Depression

Substance Abuse Medications May Offer Effective Treatment Option for Pathological Gamblers

A study suggests…

Let’s look at this one:

…a gradual increase in the gas tax may be inevitable to prop up the state's nearly depleted Transportation Trust Fund.

Lots of folks will take that as: “It IS going to happen – taxes are going to go up – again. Right away. Gas is going to be more expensive. The add: We’re already spending $150.00 per month on fuel for the cars. Where’s that extra money in our budget going to come from?”

My point is – these ‘may’s’ and ‘could’s’, the ‘suggests’ and ‘apparently’s’ – all too often generate a response of fear or anger.

So when you ‘skim over’ an article, and feel ANY bit of temper rising within you – please do check for the may’s and could’s. And if you find them – know that the opposite of what the author ‘said’ is also possible.

That little act will certainly help you stay more At Ease & In Control.
Do it for your mental health!

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Wishes

My Best Wishes to each and every one of you to have a beautiful, good, average Holiday Season!!

....................Love & Blessings,

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Monday, December 21, 2009

It’s OK to Second-Guess

It’s OK to second-guess? I can hear the (shock) thoughts churning now: “Whaddya mean it’s OK to second guess? Every ‘expert’ tells us not to.

Well, let’s think about it realistically. You make a decision, and after it’s made, you review your decision. That could be considered second-guessing. That action could be called wise.

It’s not second-guessing that gets us in trouble. It’s 35th second-guess, the 74th, the 209th second-guess that keep us stressed. Or maybe we could call it Continuous Second Guessing which stresses us out, makes us cranky and crabby, and often down, disgruntled and depressed. All those extra guesses stem from one type of thought: “Did I make a mistake?” Maybe not in those exact words. The insecure thoughts could take the form of: “I should have…” or “I shouldn’t have…”

Second guessing is not something that happens outside of us. It involves thoughts – our own thoughts. Granted, someone may say something, or something may happen that triggers the fear (yes, it IS fear). There may even be a whole series of circumstances, yet – WE are the ones who keep the cycles going.
How? With our thoughts. Ahhh, and sometimes with our actions too. How so? By asking. Repeated asking. Asking your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, you best friend, someone you respect, and even someone you may not think too much of – if they agree or if they disagree with what you did (or didn’t do). In this case it’s muscular action + thoughts that keep the worked-up, worked up.

It’s talking it up = working it up in one of it’s finest form.
Where are you when you ask 12 people for their opinion, and 5 five are on ‘your side’ and the other 7 express some doubt or concern? Where are you? Still worked up. Even when you have a solid majority – maybe out of the 12 you come up with 8 yeas and 4 nays – it’s still possible to remain worry mode.

A solution?
a. Stop and think about what you’re thinking.
b. Watch your words. What you speak is what you’re thinking.
c. Excuse yourself. The decision you made ‘was’ – that’s the past – the past is outer environment.
c. Know that whatever decision you’ve made, there are still other choices you have access to.

The fact is: All of Life IS a series of choices and decisions.
And one of those choices is:
Will I be at ease & in control, or worked-up?

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Friday, December 18, 2009

Why??? Why??? Why???
…………..Am I Thinking This Way?

Probably one of THE GREATEST truths I learned through the Method is this:
We are not responsible for the thoughts that come into our minds, but we can accept, reject or change those thoughts.

How freeing that was to me. ALL those insecure, oddball, sometimes scary thoughts I had were NOT because I was bad, terrible, crazy, mad, or losing my mind. I did not have to be ‘wrong’ for having the thought in the first place. WOW, I was ‘not wrong’, I was ‘average’. What a relief!!

Thoughts come. From where? I have no idea ‘where’ they come from. Maybe someday science will give us ‘the’ answer.

The second vital and essential piece of information is:
We can accept thought(s). We can reject thought(s).
We can change our thought(s).

In other words: We’re not responsible for them ‘coming’.
We ARE responsible for them ‘staying’ and ‘multiplying’.

That’s the method:
a. Deliberately STOP and think about what you’re thinking
b. Deliberately IDENTIFY the insecure/unrealistic thoughts
c. Deliberately REPLACE those thoughts with healthier ones - - over, and over, and over again if need be. Throw out one thought by replacing it with another does not necessarily work when the process is only done once. Especially when you’re a rookie. Deliberate, consistent, conscious effort is required.

Somewhere else, I’ve seen the statement:
Don’t believe everything you think.
That means Choice. It’s either “I choose to believe this thought”, or “I choose to not believe this thought.”

When you’re feeling good, it’s a sign that you’re thinking good.
If you’re not feeling good, it’s a Chance To Practice – another chance to practice.
As long as we’re thinking, there will always, always, always be opportunities. That’s Life.

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fear is Fear is Fear

Call it apprehension or worry or concern or feeling uneasy – it’s FEAR.
It’s an insecure thought that ‘something’ bad or unpleasant is going to happen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about or related to a physical condition or an emotional symptom. Some people have the idea that if it’s related to a ‘real’ physical difficulty or diagnosis, they can’t or shouldn’t use mental fitness tools to dissipate the fear.

I disagree. ALL fear – can be lessened, diminished, reduced. Fear is fear is fear. Worry is thoughts – a bunch of them. Thoughts are mental activity.

I have a wonderful friend who had a hip replacement a few years ago. Recently he fell off the lower second rung of a ladder. In the process, his foot got caught and the fall caused his hip joint to ‘pop out’ causing considerable pain and a trip to the hospital. (this is the second time his bionic part has done that) Now, with a deep wrinkle on his forehead, he admits to being ‘overly’ cautious – that is – thinking about, worrying about whether it ‘might’ happen again.

That’s the key word – ‘Might’.
Might is a ‘what if’ and the topic of ‘what if’s’ is typically some kind of danger. Most people don’t think: “What if it NEVER happens again”. They think: “What if it DOES happen again.”

Yes, it’s a realistic concern. BUT, not one that ‘should’ consume an otherwise well-adjusted, happy person’s mind. The solution? As always – changing thoughts.

What comes to mind is possibilities and probabilities. Is it possible? Of course – everything is possible. Is it probable? Is it likely to happen again? Not in the same manner, if he stays off ladders.

Is a third occurrence more likely because a second one took place? Perhaps. The medical community has figures and statistics, which state that the likelihood ‘could’ increase – but maybe not. MAYBE NOT! That ‘maybe not’ is a secure thought. Maybe, just maybe, the healing that takes place now will create an even stronger connection for the natural tissue with the artificial device. That IS a possibility too.

Right now the condition of his hip may be distressing, but it’s not dangerous. It’s fixed. It’s back in place. I know, I know, someone out there is saying: “BUT, it could be dangerous.” So ‘could’ sitting on that chair you’re parked on right now. It ‘could’ fall apart, or you ‘could’ slide off it and hit the floor.

The point is (and this goes for any physical condition): do what the doctors recommend, and DO catch yourself when you’re worrying. Make it a point to stop and think about what you’re thinking, and change your thoughts. If the worry continues, continue changing your thoughts to more realistic and secure thoughts. Be persistent. Be consistent.

Fear thoughts produce the ‘feeling’ of fear, and secure thoughts reduce and eliminate fear.

As many of us well know, fear thoughts cause emotional pain. And, a mind filled with fear – distracted with fear – is more likely to cause/contribute to an accidental fall. Plus, fearful thoughts thought day after day, night after night lead to depression.

On the Fear Scale – Realistic, rational, average caution is several notches below fear.

How can you tell of you’re being simply cautious or overly cautious?? That’s a very individual & personal verdict. Only you can gauge that. Ask yourself: How tense do I feel? The answer will tell you of the fear thoughts are outnumbering the secure/realistic ones.

Mind and body are connected. Our bodies do let us know what’s going on in our minds. They do let us know when we’ve over-indulged in fear thoughts.

~ ~ ~ ~

In the words of Leo Buscaglia:
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,

............ it only saps today of its joy.”

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Monday, December 14, 2009

Poor Mondays – they get a pretty bad rap

How many times have you heard people ‘slamming’ Mondays?
“I’m doing ok (pause) for a Monday.” (spoken in a depressed tone of voice)
or, “I hate Mondays!!” (with a tight, serious facial expression)

Ouch – that ‘HATE’ is a pretty strong word.
WOW. Talk about temper!

Monday is a day – that’s all. Every 7 days it’s Monday again. There are 52 (give or take) Mondays per year

Just because a lot of people express their strong dislike of Mondays – does that really mean we all have to jump in and agree?
The whole thing may have started out as some humor in the cartoons, and now it’s like a world-wide syndrome.

For some people ‘hating Mondays’ actually makes them cranky, crabby, grumpy & sad on Sunday because they know Monday is fast approaching.
Is that any way to live?? Spending Sunday, dreading Monday?? What a waste.

Think about it: hate for Mondays is temper. Temper causes tension, tension causes symptoms. Is it worth it? You already know my answer to that one!

Soooooooo, I vote we put a good/pleasant adjective in front of each day of the week. Actually I’ve already done this for a few years. The tellers at the bank I go to already know the routine, and they are quick to tell me what day it is, complete with the positive, cheery prefix.

Marvelous Monday
Terrific Tuesday
Wonderful Wednesday
Tremendous Thursday
Fabulous (or Fantastic) Friday)
Super Saturday
Splendid Sunday

What we choose to label something DOES make a difference in how we feel about it (in other words, how we judge it).

Plus, those pleasant labels make for smiles, instead of frowns. They add joy, instead of grumbling. And that’s good for everyone’s mental health.

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Tip on Time

Tis the season for Holiday gatherings – and with that comes being somewhere at a particular time.
Some people like to get to where they’re going on the early side. To others arrival time doesn’t matter all that much. Often, the question comes up: “How early is too early?” The topic of when to leave, how much travel time to allow for can even spur vocal differences of opinion – disagreements and stress.

The realistic fact is: you only have 60-second window to get anywhere ‘precisely’ on time.
Sixty seconds. One minute. That’s all.
If you have to get somewhere at 5:00 – it’s only ‘exactly’ 5:00 for 60 seconds – then it’s 5:01.

Whatever time you’re expected (whether it's you or someone else who set the expectation), odds are you’re going to get there before, or after. Possible you’ll be there at the specific time – but probably you won’t be. So take the pressure off yourself.

What’s more important, the time you get there, or the mood you’re in when you get there?

So, make it what it is: No Big Deal. Trivial. Not at all worth getting upset over.
After all – the goal IS to be At Ease & In Control – and you CAN achieve it.

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Thursday, December 10, 2009

“I Forgot” or…

What’s the typical/average response to “I forgot to ____”?

You’re right, it’s usually a insecure reaction (thought), that throws us immediately into self-blame – which is another thought – a fear/judgement thought – “I’m wrong!”
That’s the habit pattern (thought pattern). You can even see this very reaction with a young child – let’s say a six-year old who forgot one item of homework.

Now let’s look at the truth – the realistic viewpoint. And a viewpoint is a thought – a thought that CAN be changed.
Yes, whatever ‘it’ was may have been forgotten, but now, in the present moment, you have remembered.

Instead of that blame reaction “I forgot”, we could be celebrating the fact that we remembered.

Immediate Insecure interpretation (thought): “I forgot”
changed to
Secure thought: “Hey, I just remembered!!”

Even though they’re average, we DON’T have to live with our first responses.

We have the freedom and the ability to consciously change our thoughts.


© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remove the Blinders

Pretend you have the word FEAR written in big letters on the palm of your right hand, and the word ANGER written on the palm of your left hand.
Now, with your eyes open, bring both hands up towards your face and cover your eyes.
What do you see?? Maybe a little light peeking in around the edges? Not much else.

Now that you’ve read the instructions – try it. There’s a lot more impact in doing the exercise, rather than simply reading about it.

In the dark - that’s where we’re stuck when we’re in a vicious cycle of temper – with very little or no insight.
That’s what fear and/or anger do – cause a condition which we could call temporary blindness. Not vision or eyesight blindness, but mental-emotional ‘loss of sight’.

We don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to do it. If we stay in that state long enough (hours or days) we can easily slip down into:
I can’t, I just can’t…
I’ll never be able to…
I’m a mess
I’m confused
Life is horrible
I’m depressed
I’ll never be well enough to function (at a job, as a parent, etc.)
I can’t see how this is ever going to work out
I’m a failure

......and on, and on, and on.

And just what is insight? Inspiration. Ideas. New/different/healthier interpretations (all of which by the way are thoughts).

Ideas come when the mind is clear – or at least semi-clear.

The Solution? Release the judgment that either you, or someone else, or something else is wrong. You probably won’t get immediate results, but the fresher, new & improved thoughts will begin to flow.

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Saturday, December 5, 2009

When Your Mind Seems to Have
a Mind of Its Own

STOPPING the Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah,
Blah, Blah, Blah...

The other night I made the ‘mistake’ of reading a news article online about an hour before I went to bed. Yes, In my mind it was a mistake, because I know better (for me).

Typically I’m pretty selective about what I read. I’ve found that it’s just much, much easier to not plant something in my mind in the first place, than to try to get rid of it later. With that said, in case you’re wondering, I do not watch TV news, because I don’t own a television. That’s not exceptional. For me there’s just not a lot of content that interests me. It’s not any more exceptional than not having chocolate ice cream in the freezer, when you don’t eat chocolate ice cream.

Back to the topic: The article I read was about a murder in my former home town. The details were not particularly grisly, but there was enough there to ‘paint a picture’ in my mind, in other words – to ‘deposit’ thoughts in my mind. And even though I did other things before I went to bed, when I was trying to fall asleep, BING, BING – here came the thoughts about what I read. They were really more bothersome than upsetting. Nevertheless I didn’t fall asleep as quickly as I normally do.

I am so grateful for learning about objectivity from the Method – doing something with focused concentration. To say I used that technique a lot way back when I was feeling panicky is an understatement. It’s good. It works – like a charm.

There are lots of relaxation/quiet-the-mind practices that call for counting backwards from 10 to 1, or 50 to 1, or 100 to 1. The idea for the procedure I’m going to describe here I invented for myself when I was learning to meditate. With that said, I will add that I have passed it along to others who use it strictly as a mental health tool – and successfully to.

Ready? With this process, you don’t count backwards with numbers-numerals, you do it by spelling the words. It takes a whole lot more focus and concentration. And, you don’t say the word before you spell it. So it’s not speaking or thinking ten – t e n. It’s t e n, then n i n e, etc.

Here goes:
t e n
n i n e
e i g h t
s e v e n
s i x
f i v e
f o u r
t h r e e
t w o
o n e
z e r o

If you want to get fancy, you can also picture the letters as you think them and then “see” them or the entire word in your mind’s eye. Sort of how it would look if you were printing them on a blackboard or whiteboard.
Notice the sample? All the letters are lower case. That’s how I “see” mine. All uppercase, or a mixture is fine too. Whatever you want. You are the creator, the graphic designer. More elements: What color are your letters? What color is the background?

The more detail you add, the more your mind has to work on what you are directing it to do – keeping it busy with NO time for unwanted thoughts to slide back in. Any thoughts that do try to come back are stopped by an imaginary (maybe not-so-imaginary) ‘busy signal’, a ‘no admittance’ sign, an error message… Like the recorded message you get when you call your internet connection provider because you can’t access email or anything else and voice says: “All circuits are busy. Please try again later.”

So is my stop-the-thoughts method tedious? Yes, you could say so. Effective? You bet. And, it can have an element of fun too, if you move your lip and cheek muscles into a smile when you begin doing it, plus label it a mind ‘game’.

Why go to all that trouble?
Me? I do it for my mental health.
Actually getting quiet, being still, benefits my mind, body and spirit.
ALL of me wins!!

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What’s the Difference between Angry Temper and Angry Thoughts?

Note: From time to time I’ll do a Q & A post. This question happened to come from an RI Group Leader – someone asked them, they in turn asked me. My thinking is, if one person wants some clarification, others most probably do too.

So, what is the difference between Angry Temper and Angry Thoughts?
The way I understand it – Nothing.

Angry Temper – the judgment that someone else or something else is wrong is a thought – a temper thought. The expression of anger may be outward – BUT before it’s an action, it’s a thought. We think before we speak. That’s how it works. We think thoughts, before they come out of our mouths.

Granted, in some cases the words come out with lightning speed, and it seems as though we speak before we think. Think about it: If we didn’t have thoughts first, there would be no words. As humans, that’s how we’re wired.

Anger is anger, whether it’s spoken or thought. And, at times there are no spoken words, but acts. Walking away ‘in a huff’ is an angry gesture, so is slamming a car door, so is sulking, so is scowling (you know what I mean – it’s that face thing that sends a snarly message).

Out-rage is pretty easy to recognize. In-rage (I know, I know the correct spelling is enrage, yet “In-rage” points to where the anger originates – inside our minds).

In-rage is having angry-judgmental thoughts. “Somebody else is wrong.” Out-rage is the resulting action that can occur.

Racing, angry thoughts are not always volatile – as in you’re really, really, really, really mad. Although that kind is easy to recognize when you’re having them.
The judgmental, ‘he’s wrong/she’s wrong thoughts’ can be more subtle – and I’d say most of the time they are. So are they less harmful? Well, in a sense they may be. But if several irritations, frustrations and disappointments come up, let’s say in a 12-hour day, and they’re not taken care of (not consciously excused) that’s where feeling overwhelmed comes from. Number 10 triviality get stacked on top of Number 9, on top of Number 8, on top of Number 7, etc.

Think about it: At that point you’re ‘feeling’ the tension from 10 prior events/responses, not just one. Of course it’s going to make you feel swamped, irritable, cranky, crabby, not at-ease and maybe even tired too.

That’s why I find it so important to use the guideline of trying to handle each triviality/each response of even the slightest temper/judgment as soon as it happens.

The fact is: Temper causes tension, tension causes symptoms.
It’s a whole lot easier to work down an original response when you feel the tension – BEFORE the tension grows into symptoms.

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So what’s The Big Deal about Gratitude??

Well, it’s an activity of changing the focus from what we don’t have, to what we do have.

Tis the season… The holidays in general, and holiday shopping time can be a time for the “What-we-don’t-haves” to come to the surface. Behind those “What-we-don’t-have” thoughts are fear, concern, worry as in: I don’t have enough, and other thoughts – which can quickly escalate to: I am not enough. And anger, resentment, envy, jealousy too as in: “They” have so much more than I do – and a few thoughts later spiral into thinking ‘who’ is at fault for our present circumstances, It’s just not fair, and more (more temper).

In order to change our focus – we need to our change thoughts.
Can’t feel grateful, if we don’t think grateful thoughts. Besides, thinking of what we do have right now– is good practice in thinking realistic thoughts.

My personal preference is to write a gratitude list. For me the act of writing is more meaningful than simply thinking about what I’m grateful for.
When we write – we’re thinking the thought, writing the thought, seeing the thought on paper, and reading it too as we’re writing. Lot’s of physical senses involved. It takes some effort & concentration.

For several years I wrote the standard: I am grateful for _______.
Now sometimes I add some variety.

There are lots and lots of ways to express gratitude.

I appreciate ______.

I’m so fortunate to ______.

I’m lucky to be/have ______.

I’m so very glad to ______.

WOW, I really appreciate ______.

I am thankful for ______.

I’m so lucky to have _____.

I’m so happy to ______.

I’m so pleased to ______.

I really value ______.

I am sooooooooooo grateful for ______.

I’m really happy about ______.

I am profoundly grateful for ______.

I am so blessed to ______.

And one of my favorites: I really cherish ______.

Me? Among other ‘things’ – I really cherish my mental health!

There’s no right or wrong in which words you choose to use. It’s the heartfelt feeling of appreciation that shifts/elevates your mood (feeling).
Suggestion: Just like any other practice – Say it like you mean it.

One more idea –
Thinking about what we don’t have makes us feel bad.
Thinking/being grateful for what we do have makes us feel good.

As always, we get to choose what we want to consciously think about and dwell on. And, as always, for BEST results – practice daily.

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved