Blog

What did you learn? (DW#526)

Today let us reflect on life lessons learnt from this past year. These lessons could include reflections on what you did that worked, what you did that did not work, lessons learnt in challenging times and/or blessings and opportunities that you discovered even amidst set backs. 

In fact, it is generally in challenging times that we step back, take stock and reflect on what we have learnt and/or can do differently. 

So go ahead, and take a moment to reflect and write down the life lessons that you have learnt this past year. By distilling these lessons and turning them into wisdom, we can learn from the past and not repeat our mistakes (of course we can always make new mistakes :))

Here are some life lessons from challenging situations to reflect on. It can be difficult to write them in positive terms so that we are not embittered by our experiences and we so that we many continue to live with positivity, purpose and peace. 

You can only control yourself. You may wish...

Continue Reading...

The closer the goal, the stronger the regret (DW#525)

Psychologists who study regret map a three-stage process which triggers regret: there is action, outcome and recall. In other words, we take an action, we experience the outcome of our action and if the outcome is negative, we feel regret. 

The third aspect of regret, recall is rather interesting. The researchers found that "Feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment are strongest where the chances of corrective reaction are clearest". In other words, the greater (and easier) the opportunity for corrective action which is not taken, the stronger the regret. 

Let’s try and understand this with a couple of examples: imagine you have an exam and you don’t study enough to get a passing grade. What the research suggests is that you will experience stronger regret if you get one or two percent below the passing grade than if you miss the grade by a long shot. 

Imagine you are catching a plane, get distracted, leave late for the airport, hit traffic and arrive...

Continue Reading...

What do you regret? (DW#524)

When we are reviewing the past year and reflecting on our stumbles, feelings of regret can sometimes surface. We may begin thinking about how our life would be different or better "if only" we had done this or not done that. 

The pain of regret can be intense and it is very tempting to want to distract ourselves, distance ourselves or push it away. Doing this too quickly can be a mistake. 

Janet Landman from the University of Michigan explains that there are some benefits of staying with the discomfort of regret. 

Firstly, there is information and instruction. Regret informs us that the course of action that we have taken in the past has not led to success. 

Secondly, the pain of regret can act as a motivation for change. It tells us that the course of action has not made us happy and we need to do something different in order to get better results. 

Thirdly, and related to the point above, regret can act as a moral compass. If we see negative outcomes for...

Continue Reading...

Where did you stumble? (DW#523)

Once we have acknowledged our successes for the past year, it is easier to confront and acknowledge where we stumbled or fell short. 

So let’s remember the domains of our lives again: social, emotional, physical, professional, spiritual, marital, parental, financial. 

Where did you have the greatest challenges? Where these challenges outside your control or as a result of your own choices?

For example, if the stock market crashes and causes you to have financial setbacks, it is outside your control. (How much you invest and how you diversify is within your control however  . . . ) If your financial crisis is caused by overspending, not saving or other actions, the situation is caused by your own actions.

If we lose our job because of industry-wide cut backs, we cannot control that. But if we lose our jobs because we slacked and did not do our best, our actions caused our challenges. Get the picture?


While it is helpful to own responsibility for our actions, it...

Continue Reading...

Where did you succeed? (DW#522)

One of the joys of doing an end of year review is to look back with gratitude on the things that went well, the milestones that we achieved and the successes we enjoyed. 

When we are in the thick of things, it can be easy to ignore the baby steps we are taking towards success. At the end of the year or the beginning of a new year, it is enormously pleasurable to celebrate our successes and give ourselves a small pat on the back! 

If it has been a stormy or difficult year, this can be quite challenging. The challenges or setbacks can often claim a disproportionate amount of our attention and energy. When this happens, just take a moment and reflect on the various domains of your life: social, emotional, physical, professional, spiritual, marital, parental, financial. It is much easier to acknowledge successes when we separate the events and happenings of our various domains. 

For example, even if we suffered from health challenges the past year, our finances may have...

Continue Reading...

Looking back before moving forward (DW#521)

Philosopher Seren Kierkegaard said that we live forward but we understand backward. These simple words make so much sense: very often we do not gain understanding of a situation or of our actions until they are in the past. It is only once we see the impact of our actions (both positive and negative) that we gain a perception of whether our decisions were sound. We can see this both in our personal and professional lives. 

Sometimes the impact is so significant that we cannot move forward and we get stuck. We may keep ruminating about our decisions and wish that we had done more to get greater success (if the impact is positive) or, more likely, wish that we had made better choices, if the impact is negative. 

While wishing that we had made better choices is not helpful, it can be hugely beneficial to confront our choices, reflect on their impact and learn lessons from them. It is only by being brave enough to engage in this process can we move powerfully into our future....

Continue Reading...

Challenging Cognitive Distortions Summary (DW#520)

Here are the 10 ways to challenge cognitive distortions that we have been exploring over the past few weeks. (and here is the link to catch up on any that you may have missed)

1)    Clear weeds from the garden of your mind [DW#508]
2)    Separate facts from interpretations [DW#509]
3)    Be an observer and develop a practice of thought watching. [DW#510 and DW#517]
4)    Explore what happened and what did you make it mean? [DW#511]
5)    Ask yourself if your interpretations are helpful. [DW#512]
6)    Come up with more helpful interpretations. [DW #513 & DW#514]]
7)    Ask yourself what your wisest friend would advice you in this situation?  [DW#515]
8)    Take the advice that you would give to a dear friend [DW#516]
9)    Develop and use a list of questions to challenge...

Continue Reading...

List of questions to challenge Cognitive distortions (DW#518)

It is very helpful to have a list of questions already prepared when we want to challenge our unhelpful thoughts and negative assumptions.

Here are 25 questions that we can choose from. When we notice our distorted thinking patterns, lets challenge the validity of these distortions. They can seldom hold up to this type of questioning.

·     Is this thought helpful?
·     What are the disadvantages of thinking this way? 
·     Do I have a trusted friend whom I can check out these thoughts with?
·     Are there other ways that I can think about this situation or myself?
·     Am I blaming myself unnecessarily?
·     Is it really in my control?
·     Is it all someone else’s fault? 
·     Am I overgeneralizing?
...

Continue Reading...

Develop a practice of thought watching (DW#517)

As we have been saying, the problem in our lives is not that we have negative thoughts or "cognitive distortions". The problem is that we believe all of these thoughts and assume that they are accurate or true. 

Instead of believing everything that we think, we can begin to notice our thoughts as they come and go without getting "hooked" by them. We can learn to become observers of our minds and its chatter and become aware of how much of it is automatically negative and unhelpful. 

The best way to do this is to intentionally set aside time each day to get silent and observe our thoughts as they come and go. When we notice our minds wandering into negative territory, we can bring our focus back to the present moment without further engaging with those thoughts. 

Once we become intimately aware of how our mind works, we can stop automatically believing and acting on our thoughts. We have a choice. We can notice our thoughts, let them go. Notice our thoughts and let them...

Continue Reading...

Fallacy of Change (DW#503)

The fallacy of change is another distortion which, even we recognize it, can be rather challenging to shift.

This pattern of thinking involves believing that we will be happy if people around us change to accommodate our wishes and desires. An outcome of this type of thinking is to expect that others will change if we just pressure or encourage them enough.

If I just nag my adult son enough, we may think, he will stop wearing un-ironed clothes. Or


If I gently (!) and sweetly tell my spouse that he should not watch so much football, or eat healthy, or cut his hair a different way, he should listen to my solid advice!

Instead of focusing on our own circle of control, we focus our energies on ‘encouraging’ others around us to change. Of course, it seems that the more enthusiastic we get about our agenda for others to change, the more they seem to resist our good advice!!

Now we do need to mention a huge caveat here: let’s be honest. The behaviour of...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.