Monday, February 24, 2014

5 Negative Thought Patterns You Need To Drop Now

1. Catastrophizing

We go from 0 to “my life is OVER” in five seconds flat when we get caught up in this thought pattern. It usually involves some awesome exaggeration as to how one tiny little mistake is going to be the end of a career, or some similarly important aspect of life. This creates loads of anxiety, fear, stress, and even hopelessness or helplessness.
To steer clear of this one, go with the facts based in reality. Be wary of getting spun up into the anxiety cloud by making something far worse than it really is. Also, DON’T jump to conclusions (another negative thought pattern).
2. Generalizing
We take one thing and run with it. We color all our future interactions by one event. Ever heard “all guys are liars” or “all women are high maintenance”? Watch out for the use of "all" and "none," and break this bad habit for good!
3. Personalizing
The world does not revolve around you. It doesn’t revolve around me, either. Keep this in mind when you take something personally. People’s reactions have much more to do with their own issues than they have to do with yours. Give yourself a break from taking all the blame automatically or assuming (another negative thought pattern) that you're causing someone to feel or do a particular feeling or action. We only have that much power over ourselves.
4. Filtering
Calling all my Negative Nancys. They can find the dark cloud regardless of how many rainbows show up. Filtering focuses on only the negative aspects while ignoring the positive. This is a type of skewed thinking. To stay clear of this one, make sure you’re viewing things from a clear and balanced perspective. There are few things that are all bad or all good.
5. "Should"-ing

This is probably one of my favorites as I “should” on myself all the time. Shoulds imply that we aren’t up to snuff and that we're falling behind in some way. Add enough shoulds to your plate, and you’ll be overwhelmed and feeling defeated in no time. Your get out of jail free card is that if you really should be doing something, then make the time to do it! If it isn’t really that important, then kick it to the curb. You have enough going on right now, and that’s OK!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I want to revisit the topic of belonging because it permeates so many areas of our lives – impacting our behavior, our social interactions and our relationships. We live in a fast-paced world and have access to technology which enables us to connect with millions in virtual space.
We not only have the liberty to express our opinions on ezines and blogs but we can simultaneously engage an audience in multiple forums, influence contemporary culture and even affect current events. This is truly awesome! I believe this has an effect on the way we view our opportunities for belonging.
We are no longer limited to belonging in nations, tribes, clans, villages, religions or cult groups. Our membership sphere extends to virtual networks where barriers of race, color, creed and political thought have become enmeshed, enabling us to navigate across boundaries. We now belong to interest groups and lifestyle clubs based on our cultural practices and thought preferences. We are no longer limited by geography or tied to our birthplace – even if we never get to leave it. By the same token, the world has experienced unprecedented migrations across continents and insurgencies of large populations in virtually every nation because people are forced to flee their homeland due to ruthless dictators, civil wars, warlords, drug cartels, various renegade groups with access to money, guns and vigilante power.
Vivian Diller, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in New York City tells us that “reactions to a natural disaster, an act of violence, mortal combat, bankruptcy or the loss of loved ones can be pretty different. But, almost always, there is the before and after, the desire to forget and a need to remember -- common experiences that follow throughout life.”
The question is what happens to our sense of belonging in the context of these seismic shifts? Does survivor’s guilt and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) transform our need to belong with a need to flee from our past and seek non attachment? 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Links Entitlement To Belonging?

I was in the hospital waiting to get a mammogram when I heard a lady next to me ask the nurse navigator who happened to be African, “The Asian lady with long hair, can she do the mammogram for my sister?” I cringed in my seat thinking that the nurse navigator might find this at the least presumptuous, and even demanding. I also thought she might be offended that a patient was telling her how to conduct her work. In such an environment, most people, myself included, would simply follow the procedure and do as they are told.
Some feel entitled to reach for what they want in all situations. They never lose sight of being entitled and being demanding comes naturally to them. This separates those who might lead from those who would only follow.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 
 It got me thinking that feeling entitled may be linked to a sense of belonging. Now we all know that belonging is right up there with bread and butter in the human condition. Everyone is looking to belong somewhere. That’s why sovereign states exist, why people band together in tribes, why individuals twist themselves just to fit into a powerful circle or become part of a status group.
Oftentimes patients do not want to make special demands because they don’t want to spoil things. The patient’s sister may not have felt vulnerable and that might have been why she could demand her chosen service provider, however offending it might be to the nurse navigator.
As a patient surviving breast cancer, waiting for a mammogram blocked any attitude of entitlement I might have felt previously. In general, there is nothing to lose by going for it, and we are  empowered when we reach for what we truly want. In actuality, it all depends on whether or not we feel there is something at stake. We measure our birthright to exercise our unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness against the odds of our belonging. So being part of that which may seem to overpower us has a great deal to do with harnessing our entitlement and harvesting all of the gains that come from it.
Next time you are in a situation which feels uncomfortable, chew on this and see what happens.