Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Multiversal Meditation At the End of Life

Kelley Woods hypnotized a dying client whose minister had been unable to convince her that she was deserving of admission into Heaven, and suggested that she was already there, bathing in the infinite love of God. With this reassurance, when the hypnosis was concluded her failing body was able to experience a peaceful death (Gibbons & Woods, 2016, pp, 173-180).

Reference

 Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Books

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Overcoming the Negativie Suggestions from your "Inner Hypnotist"

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The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly held beliefs which are all false, but which many of us have are inclined to accept, at least occasionally, If they are not identified and specifically eliminated ahead of time, these negative beliefs can function as deeply-rooted autosugestions which may cause the hypnotist's positive suggestions to be rejected without either the hypnotist or the client knowing why. Since many clients are able to recognize these negative beliefs about themselves if they are specifically asked about them, I frequently go over this list with them before their initial hypnosis session: 

I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.

When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat youunfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.

It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.

Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.

If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"

It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences,once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.

Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. If thiwere really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!

It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to. Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.

I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.

Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But they are so common that most of us have believed some of them at least part of the time. As far as the others are concerned, whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, depressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Merging Parallel Universes Into One

One day, I happened to mention to my ten-year-old daughter that Lenin was her mother's second cousin.

"WHO?" she asked, incredulously.

"Lenin," I responded.

"JOHN LENNON?" she asked.

In my parallel universe, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a major historical figure in the development of Communism:

V. I. Lenin

In my daughter's parallel Universe, however,V. I. Lenin did  not exist. John Lennon, however, was as real as a -- well, a "Yellow Submarine!*

If a person responds well to hypnosis, we can provide easily provide corrective experiences from a parallel universe which, if these experiences are meaningful enough, can alter their behavior in this one. I am fond of quoting a well-known story about a Russian boy who had become shy and withdrawn because his face was disfigured by a birthmark -- until his grandmother told him that this was a special sign from God that he was destined for greatness. Although he did not become famous, he eventually married, had a family, and experienced a much more successful life than he otherwise would have had, were it not for his grandmother's prediction, which had come to function as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I was recently working with and client who was going through several anxiety provoking stresses at the same time. She was also an excellent amateur gymnast, and she would probably have had great success if she had the means to compete at the national and international level.

To boost her confidence and self esteem, I hypnotized her and suggested that she was going to experience the thrill, the exertion, and the triumph of winning an Olympic competition in a parallel universe, and having the gold medal hung around her neck at the end of the ceremony. I then suggested that on an emotional level, this experience would be just as real to her as if it had happened to her but in this one. At the conclusion of the session, she opened her eyes, obviously thrilled to the core, and exclaimed, "Wow! I just won a gold medal!"

She knew that she had done this in hypnosis, but it didn't seem to make any difference. We chatted for a while, and I humorously mentioned that perhaps I should adopt the motto for our practice that some dance studios use, posting a sign outside which read, "Walk in, dance out." To my surprise, as I watched her leave the office and go down the hallway to the door at the far end, she was dancing!

She later told me that she had no more difficulties in facing her current stressors with resolution and courage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Next Step Upward in Human Evolution






With 99% of the same genetic makeup as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, there is little doubt that our evolutionary development has been lopsided. We have highly developed frontal lobes which enable us to formulate lofty ideals and distant goals, but all too often our emotional centers prevent us from achieving them. More than once in the last century, we have come close to annihilating each other; and many social institutions are devoted in whole or in part to regulating our behavior so that we do not destroy one another individually.  

Human, evolution did not come to a screeching halt with the first bipeds who could accurately be labeled homo sapiens. We have been developing the powers of our imagination in new and exciting ways ever since. We frequently need the services of a hypnotist to function as an enabler, coach, or personal trainer to show us how to use these emerging abilities with confidence, because they are so different from the current patterns of thought which we are used to in everyday life. Using the BEST ME Technique of multimodal suggestion for the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness.(Gibbons & Lynn, 2008), it is possible to fully experience the rewards of distant goals now, in the present, when they are most important for motivation, making it much easier to live up to the goals and ideals which evolution has enabled us to construct but have heretofore been difficult to achieve (Gibbons & Woods, 2016).

The next major breakthough in human evolution is likely to be of a  spiritual nature. The saints and mystics of every major religion have attested to the life-changing properties of experiences in which they felt that they were in the presence of the Creator, returning with a sense of the indwelling presence of God.  People who are sufficiently advanced in their evolutionary development may be hypnotically brought ino the presence of the Creator Himself, and return with an enduring sense of the indwelling presence of God, no longer broken by the stresses of life, and living like they have never lived before! 

Regardless of whether or not our clients' metaphysical beliefs are the same as ours or whether we have no metaphysical beliefs at all, the challenge facing all of us is to help our clients to to make the fullest use of their emerging imaginative abilities by regularly practicing hyperempiric meditations such as these, for the facilitation of human growth, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the enrichment of human existence.

References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

 Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Books.




Sunday, August 26, 2018

How to Spot Bogus Academic and Professional Credentials


I can run off a Ph.D. degree today on my computer and give it to you, and you can say that you have a Ph.D. without breaking any law. The only time you can actually be prosecuted is when you offer your services to the public in a license-protected occupation, such as a psychologist, counselor, or social worker; but even here, there are exceptions.  In New Jersey, for example, a non-profit organization such as a church can hire you as a psychologist or a counselor  without having to comply with formal licensing requirements, because you are not actually holding your services out to the public, they are, regardless of whether or not you have a real degree, a phony degree, or no degree at all. Many non-profits do employ licensed people, of course; and there are many fine instructors in non-profit organizations who do not have the full preparation which is required for working or teaching in public institutions.

If you want to open a practice as a "psychic astrologer," with a Ph.D. that you designed this morning on your word processor,  there's nothing stopping you, because "psychic astrologer" is not a license-protected occupation -- although you may still have to pay for a business license before you can actually open a practice and collect fees for your services. Generally, these occupations operate according to the "Golden Rule:" He who has the gold makes the rules!


In any field, a degree which is recognized by established institutions of higher learning must be offered by the officially recognized accrediting body in your locality, and no other, because diploma mills are very good at forming legitimate-appearing organizations which happily "accredit" each other. Here is a list of all officially accredited post-secondary institutions from the U.S. Department of Education.
Since there aren't any restrictions on forming an "educational institution," it is easy to incorporate "universities" with impressive-sounding titles, offering courses and degrees in all sorts of subjects, which may then group themselves into unsanctioned regional associations to accredit each other -- and they do!  To muddy the waters even further, some States maintain "lists" of educational institutions, which some of these institutions then use as evidence that they are "recognized" by that State, because it is all too easy to confuse being on a State list  with being "accredited by the State in question, which usually involves an official visit by a State accrediting team and a thorough review of the qualifications of every member of the faculty,
Whenever you hear someone say that they "can paper the wall of their office" with their academic degrees, or you see an official-looking diploma signed by people who have a large number of degrees in several different fields after their name, or someone has claimed to earn a large number of degrees in just a few years, this should be a signal to examine the situation further. (Just think how many years or decades it would take to actually earn all those degrees!)
The best way to establish whether or not an accrediting body is legitimate is to call up the Registrar's office of an academic institution which you trust, and inquire as to the legitimacy of the accrediting body of the college or university which you are asking about -- but sometimes even the legitimate institutions themselves get fooled by a person who has begun teaching there with a bogus credenttial. 
When I was teaching, every few years I would hear about somebody who was booted off the faculty because their diploma was found to be a fake. By the same token, professed membership in the American Psychological Association is not in itself proof of professional standing, since A P.A. lacks the financial resources to police the Internet for impostors.
Here in New Jersey, there is a woman up the road from me who advertises that she has a degree in psychic astrology and hynotizes people to tell them the name of their guardian angel. I once complained about her ro the New Jersey Psychological Association, and I was told that because neither hypnosis nor psychic astrology are regulated by State law, there was nothing that they could do. 
It is no crime to posess an unaccredited degree. The world is awash with them! But before you take a course or a workshop from such a person, or pay good money to attend one of their conference presentations, it is usually a good idea to check out their credentials ahead of time. If you are met with silence, evasiveness, or a personal attack, this is usually good reason to suspect their qualifications. 
Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware!


Saturday, August 25, 2018

How to Improve Sports Performance Using Self Hypnosis

Perhaps you have seen those news stories about individual athletes, or even entire athletic teams, who have improved their performance by securing the services of a sports hypnotist. The research literature in psychology supports the conclusion that such interventions have been effective. (Barker & Jones, 2008; Levitan, 2012; Tramontana, 2011). But you don't have to hire a hypnotist yourself in order to obtain similar results.  Self-hypnosis, can also provide helpful mental preparation. What really counts is the ability to actively engage the imagination so that you can pre-experience successful performance as vividly as possible.  

I recommend regular practice with the Best Me Technique (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010) in self hypnosis as a way of involve your whole person in visualizing successful performance, so that you can experience now, in the present and in concentrated form, the rewards and satisfactions which would not normally be yours until success has actually been achieved. This will not only improve your performance, but it will also provide you with the motivation to pursue it. 


Each element of the Best Me Technique corresponds with a dimension of experience (Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations), which may be used in any order and varied and repeated as often as desired in order to involve the imagination as completely as possible. I'm going to use bowling as an example of how to use the Best Me Technique to improve bowling performance, but it can just as easily be applied to other sports such as baseball, golf, and soccer. Here's how it works.


First, find a quiet place where you are not likely to be disturbed. Close your eyes, and after inducing self hypnosis as described in the link above, imagine or picture yourself about to bowl a successful strike, using imagery like this:


Beliefs. Believe, or picture in your mind, that you are headed towards a certain and inevitable success. 


Emotions. Feel the thrill of achievement surging through you as you realize that victory is assured.


Sensations and Physical perceptions. Listen to the sound of the ball rolling down the chute while the people around you grow quiet.


Thoughts and Images: See the ball hit the pins directly, and watch them go flying in every direction .


Motives. Realize that this is how you want your bowling to become.


Expectations. Allow yourself to fully savor in your mind the fruits of your success! 


Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, feel it happening, and savor in advance the fruits of your success. Practice and rehearse regularly, and with patience. And, above all, make sure that you enjoy it!


 References

Barker, J. & Jones, M. (2008). The effects of hypnosis on self-efficacy, affect, and soccer performance: A case study.  Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2(2),  pp. 127-147.

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.

Tramontana, J. (2011).  Sports hypnosis in practice: Scripts, strategies and case examples. Norwalk, CT, US: Crown House Publishing Limited.

Levitan, A. (2012).  Review of Sports hypnosis in practice: Scripts, strategies, and case examples. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 54(4), pp. 365-366




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The "Backstory" can Validate or Invalidate ANY Hypnotic Technique!

The hypnoverse of all possible experiences which may be brought about by means of suggestion is theoretically unlimited, as is the multiverse of potenial experiences which constitute our daily lives (Gibbons & Woods, 2016). But the circumstances in which we presently find ourselves are fixed; and to sucessfully blend the former into the latter, we mst consider the context from which we start.  Here is Steve Lynn's excellent summary of how they work together, followed by an illustration of their application in everyday life.. His first sentences deal with the structure of the hypnoverse, and the final sentence refers to their application in the multiverse in which we live. 

 . . .how clients respond to suggestions depends less on the nature and success of a particular induction than on the following variables: (a) clients' prehypnotic attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and expectations about hypnosis; (b) their ability to think, fantasize, and absorb themselves in suggestions; (c) their ability to form a trusting relationship with the hypnotist; (d) their ability to interpret suggestions appropriately and view their responses as successful; (e) their ability to discern task demands and cues; (f) their ongoing interaction with the hypnotist; and (g) the appropriateness of the therapeutic methods and suggestions to treating the presenting problem. . . . Accordingly, clinicians should devise inductions and suggestions with these variables in mind and tailor their approach to the unique personal characteristics and agenda of each client they encounter" (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010, p. 289).  

 A nurse I used to work with in a screening center asked me to hypnotize her to stop smoking, which I was happy to do. She mentioned that one of her high school teachers used to hypnotize her regularly (apparently as a demonstration subject in his classes), so it was clear that she was imaginatively gifted. 

We didn't have time for the usual stop-smoking program that I use, with three visits and all the rest. But, knowing her as I did, it was clear that if she was ready to stop she was going to do so, with hypnosis providing the necessary catalyst regardless of the time and format which were available to us -- so I just gave her the usual stop-smoking suggestions, with the usual repetition and elaboration. As I recall, I told her that her desire to smoke would vanish, that the cues which would normally awaken a desire to smoke would no longer be effective in doing so; that she could not be suddenly surprised by taking a cigarette without thinking of it; and that she would feel strong feelings of pride, achievement, and accomplishment at the fact that she had become a non-smoker, 

To my consternation, the next day, when I asked her how she had done, and she told me that she had gone home and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes! But six months later, when I casually mentioned something about her smoking, she told me, "Oh, I haven't smoked since the time you hypnotized me."`


"But didn't you go home and smoke up a whole pack?" I asked her.

"Yes," she replied. "And then I stopped."


Having worked side by side on the same unit with her for quite some time, I was familiar enough with her "personality and unique characteristics" to realize why she had responded the way she did. Her approach to authority was basically confrontational. In her everyday work environment, she made it obvious to everyone around her that, "Nobody's going to tell ME what to do!" So, when I gave her suggestions under hypnosis that she was going to stop smoking, her life narrative required that she had to first go home and deliberately smoke up a whole pack just to prove that I wasn't telling HER what to do. Then, once she had made the point to her own satisfaction, she could comply with my suggestions because she was ready to change. 



References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

When Your "Inner Hypnotist" is a LIAR!

The following video was made by a woman who had been suffering in an abusive relationship for many years. In personal terms, she explains the underlying psychological principle of cognitive dissonance, and how it kept her from realizing what was really going on and taking the necessary steps to end it. 

We commt to a belef on the basis of emotion, and  then we use our intellect to defend it -- which is why political and religious arguments usually lead nowhere. When you have an idea that you are deeply committed to and you encounter a fact which contradicts it, as in the case of the group described in the video below, cognitive dissonance is the result. You put your intellect to work not to seek the truth, but to reduce the dissonance if the truth is just too uncomfortable to face because it is tied up with your sense of self.

 Political, racial, religious, and other forms of cognitive dissonance have ruined many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, outdoor barbecues, and couples get-togethers; and at the opposite extreme, it can provide the basis for rioting and war.

 


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Limitations of Mechanically-Based Virtual Reality Systems

In spite of all the money which is currently being thrown at them, mechanically based systems of virtual reality are necessarily limited to the single sense of preception. And how "real" is that when they are STILL working with only one dimension of experience? Here is an example of what we as hypnotists can do to involve one's whole person in the content of a suggested experience  (Gibbons & Lynn, 2008; Gibbons & Woods, 2016).

The Best Me Technique utilizes the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness. Taken together, the elements of this technique form the acronym, BEST ME.

Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

Emotions may be enriched, intensified, weakened, or combined with others.

Sensations and physical perceptions may be suggested and experienced with an intensity approaching those of real events.

Thoughts and images may be created and guided in response to explicit or indirect suggestions.

Motives may either be suggested directly or implied as a consequence of other events.

Expectations may be structured concerning the manner in which the participant will look forward to and remember suggested events which will occur in the future, and the manner in which suggested experiences will subsequently be recalled and interpreted in memory.

When I was teaching at what is now the University of St. Francis de Sales, a student with whom I was well acquainted came to my office and said, "Hey, Prof! You gotta do something. I'm not studying!" Final examinations were coming up soon, and he was in the last semester of his senior year.  His grade point average was marginal at best. Since he had been a willing participant in earlier hypnosis research, I knew that he was a high responder. After hypnotizing him, I proceeded approximately as follows:

Belief systems. Now you can feel your awareness of the present beginning to fade, as you become ever more clearly aware of yoursel seated at your graduation ceremony, waiting to go up and receive your diploma. Just picture the scene, and imagine yourself excitedly waiting there, until it becomes just as real and just as clear to you as if it is happening right now.

Emotions. Let yourself feel an ever increasing sense of pride and achievement as you savor this moment to the fullest. As you look around at your fellow graduates and at the crowd of family, friends, and well wishers who have come to share in your success, you can truly rejoice in the thrill of all you have worked so hard to accomplish.

Sensations and physical perceptions. The graduates are getting up one row at a time to form a line beside the stage until their name is called. When it is your turn, you join the line and await your turn to go up and shake hands with the Dean and receive your diploma.

Thoughts and images. And all the time, you are realizing how much this means to you, and how much it has all been worthwhile.

Motives. Now, as you walk across the stage and shake hands with the Dean, he smiles and hands you your diploma, and you return to your seat, let yourself take a few moments now to bask in the satisfaction of a job well done, and savor your achievement to the fullest. [Pause.]

Expectations. And each time that you return to this treasured memory of the future, it will become easier for you to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, feel it happening, and savor in advance the fruits of your success!

We repeated this exercise five times in the final two weeks of the semester, and he did successfully graduate. Of course, it helped to have the active participation and encouragement of a faculty member who believed in him and was rooting for him; and the effectiveness of hypnotic suggestions must be evaluated in terms of the personality and unique characteristics of the individual to whom they are given, and the total context of the situation within which they are presented.  But what would we have been able to do with virtual reality goggles, even if they had been available at the time?


References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Myth of the Analytical Hypnotic Subject

It has been said that the organisms most frequently experimented on are the laboratory rat and the college sophomore, because they are the most available to academic researchers. The differences in hypnotic responsiveness which are commonly used in psychological research have been obtained when data are gathered under standardized testing conditions such as a college classroom.

The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (Shor & Orne, 1962) is modeled after the experimental approach originally begun by Clark Hull (1933). It contains a script consisting of a light hypnotic induction, followed by a list of twelve suggestions in increasing order of difficulty, from "easy" ones which almost anyone can pass, to more difficult items such as the inability to shake one's head "no" when challenged, or amnesia for most of the test items until after a prearranged signal has been given. Since its initial publication in 1962, the test has been used in dozens of studies all over the world, in order to give us a greater understanding of individual differences in suggestibility.

In a typical administration, in a class setting of about thirty people, there are there are from one to three high responders who obtain a perfect score of twelve on the test, one or two people who will obtain a score of zero on the test, just sitting there with their eyes open, looking around the room with a mixture of curiosity and boredom, and the rest manifesting varying degrees of responsiveness in between. Data of this type have been gathered by now at many colleges and universities around the world, and has yielded a great deal of useful information about differences between high and low responders. Many useful inferences can be drawn from Measuring sugestibility as a personality trait, and I have collected some of it myself (Gibbons & de Jarnette, 1972).

Now let's perform a thought experiment. I would like you to imagine that the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility is being given to a class of introductory psychology students when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "There is an active  shooter in the building. Take refuge under your desks immediately and await further instructions!

Even if such an announcement had been a hoax (i.e., a cleverly-designed suggestion) thought up by a dissident student organization to disrupt the orderly running of campus activities, if it were to be conducted in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably cower under their desks until they were found by the next class which was scheduled to use the room. What happened to the "analytical  subjects" who were supposed to be impervious to suggestion? What happened to the individual differences in hypnotizability which the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure? They simply ceased to exist!

Outside of the narrow confines of the classroom, however, suggestibility is the rule rather than the exception, which is why entrenched political and religious opinions are so hard to change. 

References

Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156. 

Hull, C. L.  Hypnosis and Suggestibility. New York: Appleton-Cenntry, 1933.






Wednesday, July 25, 2018

How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy

The boss yelled at you today and it made you angry. Why did he do it?
  • Maybe your boss and his wife are getting a divorce.
  • Maybe his kids are on drugs.
  • Maybe he just got arrested for drunk driving.
  • Maybe something else is wrong that is even worse.
If your boss really had accused you of something that was false, of course you need to speak up. But why did it make you angry?
  • You could have thought that he was out to get you and felt afraid.
  • You could have thought that it was a personal put-down and felt hurt.
  • You could even have thought that he was making a fool of himself and felt amused.
If your boss has a personality disorder, or is out to get you for other reasons, you may need to cultivate beliefs that help you to conquer anxiety and perform at your best.

You might also need to replace beliefs which lead to exaggerated feelings of self-importance, self-blame, or self-pity.

Self-Importance:
  • "Whenever anybody raises their voice to me, it is an attack on my personal worth."
  • "I secretly believe that everything should always go my way."
  • "My boss is one hundred percent wrong, and I am one hundred percent right."
  • "I always have to have my boss's approval in order to feel OK."
  • "If my boss started it, I am justified in pushing it to the limit, even if it costs me my job and a good reference."
Self-Blame:
  • No one makes you psychologically depressed. You do that by the things you say to yourself.
  • You are not worthless even if important people in your life reject you.
  • Doing badly never makes you a bad person — only imperfect.
  • You have a right to be wrong.
  • Guilt is created in two steps: a) You do something bad and b) you decide you're awful.
  • Never blame yourself for anything. Instead, admit your responsibility for wrongdoing.
  • Self-blamers are grandiose in the sense that they judge themselves more harshly than they judge others who commit similar errors.
  • You can always forgive yourself since you are a) imperfect b) ignorant or c) disturbed.
  • Separate the rating of your behavior from the rating of your self.
Self-Pity:
  • You don't have to have everything you want. The world was not made just for you.
  • Not getting your way is only disappointing or sad—not the end of the world.
  • Count your blessings. You have put up with disappointments all your life; you can tolerate this one too.
Also, both you and your boss might be in the habit of seeing things in ways which make them look worse than they actually are. Trying to see both sides may lead to a better understanding. Cutting your boss some slack can also leave the door open for an apology. And, if your boss really is out to get you, at least it may give you some time to look for another job.

The most important thing, however, is that you are in control of your own emotional reactions, and these come from your own beliefs and values. This is the secret to something you can change -- although it may occasionally require the services of a trained psychologist, counselor, or social worker in order to help you to complete the process.


 

False Perceptions that are Driving You Crazy

Most of us have one or more habits of perceiving things which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of life..

All-or-nothing thinking: Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If your opponent is not perfect, then he or she is completely evil..

Over generalization: A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "My opponent didn't support the bill I wanted. My opponent is never going to do anything right."

Mental filter: One single negative thing about your opponent colors everything else. When you're depressed about this, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

Disqualifying the positive: If somebody says something good about your opponent, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about your opponent, you "knew it all along."

Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation of your opponent's claims, even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

Mind reading: You think that your political opponent is thinking negative things about one your favorite programs and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that this is true.

The Fortune Teller Error: You think that things are going to turn out badly if your opponent is elected to office, and when it happens you convince yourself that it's the end of the world.
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Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: Imagine that you're looking at the opposition candidates through a pair of binoculars. You might think that any mistake they made or is more important than it really is. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something a candidate you favor has done might look less important than it really is,

Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

Should statements: You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You"should" have done this, you "must" do this, you "ought" to do this to do your part to influence the outcome of the election, and so on. This doesn't make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of over generalization. When the other candidate makes a mistake,you give him or her a label, such as, "a loser" or "He's an ass." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

Personalization: You believe that your vote was the cause of something bad that happened, when, among all the millions of votes cast, your own vote really didn't have very much to do with it.


Activities Which Help You Get off the Merry-Go-Round

"The world is so full of such a number of things,
I am sure we should all be as happy as kings."
                       --Robert Louis Stevenson
The following list of activities, based on the one at at www.smartrecovery.org, can serve as a starting point for getting off the merry-go-round of loneliness, anxiety, lethargy, depression, and despair. You can use this list of activities as a springboard for suggesting others. They can also strengthen the bond between you and one your friends when you do them together. As much as possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people -- and get moving!

• ACADEMIC PURSUITS (Self-help Books, Workshops, Lectures, Skills-learning, Career Development).
• CHORES AND USEFUL TASKS (such as Cleaning, Cooking, Dishwashing, Ironing, Sewing).
• EXERCISES (such as Jogging, Nautilus, Walking, Aerobic Dancing, Stretching orAerobic Exercises, Shadow Boxing, Skipping Rope, Yoga, Weightlifting).
• FOOD ACTIVITIES (such as Baking, Cooking, Barbecuing, Preparing Gourmet Meals, Shopping for Food).
• GAMES (such as Bridge, Checkers, Chess, Go, Jigsaw Puzzles, Monopoly, Poker, Online games, Scrabble, Crosswords, Anagrams).
• GRAPHIC ARTS (such as Cartooning, Drawing, Lettering, Mechanical Drawing, Painting, Photography, Silkscreening).
• HANDICRAFT ACTIVITIES (such as Basketmaking, Bookbinding, Crocheting, Embroidering, Knitting, Leatherworking, Dressmaking, Decoupage, Needlepoint).
• HUMOROUS ACTIVITIES (such as Cartooning, Improvisation Games, Charades, Jesting, Joke-making, Playing Practical Pranks and Jokes, Punning).
•MARTIAL ARTS (Akido, Jujitsu, Judo, Karate, Fencing, Wrestling).
• OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS (such as Birdwatching, Gardening, Crabbing, Fishing, Canoeing, Sailing, Hunting, Walking, Ice-skating, Skiing, Rowing, Hiking).
• PERFORMING ARTS (such as Dancing, Ballet, Mime, Acting, Improvisation, Modern Dance, Tap Dance, Singing).
• READING (Fiction, Novels, Plays, Poems, Nonfiction).
• SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES (such as Anatomy, Biology, Herpetology, Physics, Medicine, Zoology, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology).
• SOCIALIZING (Conversing, Group Activities, Attending or Giving Parties, Rap Sessions).
• SPECTATING (watching Movies, Plays, Sports, Pageants, Circuses).
• SPORTS (such as Baseball, Basketball, GQlf, Gym, Football, Hockey, Dancing, Tennis, Skating, Running, Volleyball).
• STUDYING ACADEMIC SUBJECTS (such as Art History, History, Language, Math, Music, Science, Social Science).
• TRADES AND CRAFTS (such as Bricklayer, Builder, Carpenter, Foreman, Factory Worker, Gardener, Mechanic, Machinist, Police Officer).
• VENTING FEELINGS (such as Punching Pillows, Yelling, Talking, Writing, Expressing Good Feelings).
See also the book by R. Schwartz, and E. Braff entitled, We're no fun anymore: Helping couples cultivate joyful marriages through the power of play. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.

Additional Links Which May be Helpful:

Albert Ellis has put together a list of false beliefs that are driving you crazy because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us are inclined to at least occasionally believe some of them. Take a look at this list and see if you are inclined to agree with any of them, at least part of the time. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them.



 A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." This is a list of false perceptions that are driving you crazy. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them, too.






How to be More Therapieutic for Family and Friends

Most of the actual "therapy" that is done in the world is carried on between close friends, romantic partners, family members, and co-workers, who provide understanding and emotional support to those around them while serving as a good listener and helping them to look at things in a more positive light. In clinical settings, family systems theorists point out that the "identified patient" who comes for counseling or psychotherapy may not be the one who actually needs it, but merely the one who is the most sensitive. How can we help people to be a therapeutic influence for others whom they are close to, who may be more in need of help than they are, but who refuse to even consider such a possibility?

Cognitive-behavioral psychologists have found many ways to change people. Many of these techniques, once we have learned them and put them to work in our own lives, can also be used to help those around us. While they cannot, of course, serve as a substitute for actual counseling or psychotherapy which is provided by a duly trained and licensed mental health professional, they can help to make life easier, both for ourselves and for those whom we hold dear. 

For example, Albert Ellis has compiled a list of "ten irrational ideas," which is reproduced below, Most of us believe some of these false beliefs at least part of the time. The first one, "I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile," does an especially great amount of damage, since it guarantees that we are going to feel like miserable failures whenever we do not live up to this impossible ideal. We can spare ourselves a great deal of misery when we cast out this false belief once and for all! But what about our friends and loved ones? Whenever someone who is close to you acts as if he or she could use a gentle reminder that they are being too hard on themselves by expecting to be perfect all the time, you might point this out by saing something like, "You know, dear, sometimes I think you feel like you have to be perfect all the time or you're a failure. But even the Pope goes to confession. You mustn't expect yourself to be perfect when nobody else is!"

You don't need a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to apply ideas like this in a common-sense manner when the situation is appropriate. The rest of the items on Ellis's list can also take their turn when the situation warrants it.  
 Ideas that Cause Negative Emotions

 "I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

"I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me." Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.

"When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people." Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.

"It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected." Some people have such a short fuse, that they are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.

"Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change." Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. You can choose whether to see yourself as an effect of your circumstances, or a cause.

"If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it." Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away. "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"

"It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them." Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth.

"Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future." If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!

"It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to." Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.

"I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes." If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.


Perceptions that Make Negative Emotions Worse


Similar practical applications can be found for the items on the second list. which cognitive-behavioral psychologists refer to as "cognitive distortions."  Most of us have heard the expression, "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." But when you use cognitive distortions, you tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Here are some habitual ways of looking at things that you should stop from rolling through your head if you catch yourself using them.

All-or-nothing thinking. Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren't perfect, then you're a failure. You procastinate doing stuff because they are not perfect until you have no other choice than doing them.

Overgeneralization. A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "I didn't get a phone call. I'll never hear from anybody again."

Mental filter. One single negative thing colors everything else. When you're depressed, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

Disqualifying the positive. If somebody says something good about you, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you "knew it all along."

Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

Mind reading. You think somebody is disrespecting you and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.

The Fortune Teller Error. You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.

Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization. Imagine that you're looking at yourself or somebody else through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else's achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something you've done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else's faults might look less important than they really are.

Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

"Should" statements. You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You "should" do this, you "must" do this, you "ought" to do this, and so on. This doesn't make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

Labeling and mislabeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake, you give yourself a label, such as, "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, "He's a louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

Personalization. You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn't have very much to do with it. And ask a friend to help you realize your emotions or worries so that you can have someone to rely on.

Don't memorize these lists, just keep them handy.  (One of my cilients keeps them posted on her refrigerator for ready reference!) And when someone you know well enough starts showing signs of exaggerated worry, self-distrust, fear, anger, or despair, see whether or not some of these false beliefs or false perceptions might be behind these feelings. And, in the process, you'll get pretty good at applying these principles to your own life.

As previously mentioned, this type of "psychological first aid," augmented by sympathetic listening, affection, and encouragement, is not to be considered as a substitute for actual counseling or psychotherapy, which can only be carried out by trained professional. But If we can get the people around us who refuse to even consider the possibility of formal counseling or psychotherapy to "lighten up" in the manner just described, it can frequently make life better for ud ss well as for them!

See also: 
How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy

Print Sources


Ellis, A. (2006). IHow to stubbornly refuse to make yourself miserable about anything -- yes, anything! Chicago: Citadel Press. 

Laazrus, A. A., Lazarus, C. A., & Fay, A. Don't believe it for a minute! Forty toxic ideas that are driving you crazy. San Luis Obispo, CA: Impact Publishers.