Posted in holiday, self-improvement

New Year’s Eve

The late Rev. Dr. King, once spoke to a Junior High School in Philadelphia where he asked them this question: “what is your life’s blueprint”? He went on to suggest three elements for creating one, he said you must:

1) Have a deep belief in your own dignity— your life has ultimate value;

2) Achieve excellence in whatever you do; and,

3) Commit to the eternal principles of beauty, love, and justice.

As I ruminate over the past year, I hope that I shared a deep sense of self-dignity that I strived to be the best that I can be at all levels of work; and that I was committed to those same eternal principles valued in Dr. King’s blueprint by making a positive contribution to the betterment of the lives of others. I am a better person and my structure of life is improved by having similar people in my work and personal life; others who are working at having a great life blueprint of their own. Sometimes I think I never say “thank you” enough for improving me and for the enormous value you add to life. This value, dedication, and commitment help me face any challenges that life may dole out. Your positive energy and commitment to finding beauty, love, and justice in your life and to help others find the same along the way lifts me up as you lift up others. Thank you all.


Cite: Thanks to Richard Rhodie for opening up this discussion.

Posted in self-improvement

Working through depressive and critical thoughts

From last week’s blog, “Depression is so widespread that it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disturbances. Cognitive therapy (thought therapy) is mood modification that you can learn to apply on your own through Understanding, Self-Control, and Prevention & Personal Growth.” Some tools to assist:

  1. Cope, don’t mope – Recognize automatic, self-critical thoughts and turn them to rational self-defense responses. Example:
    1. Bob hates me.
    2. Bob doesn’t hate me, he was unhappy with today’s work product, but just last month gave me accolades in the team meeting for my work on the larger bigger project.


  1. Procrastination / do nothingness – being stuck because of
    1. Hopelessness is frozen pain
    2. Helplessness is victim theology
    3. Overwhelmed is task magnification
    4. Jumping to conclusion is I can’t, I would but…
    5. Self-labeling is inferiorism
    6. Undervaluing rewards is not experiencing satisfaction…thank you for the award but I really don’t deserve it
    7. Perfectionism is defeating yourself with inappropriate goals or standards
    8. Fear of failure is if I fail at this task, I fail at everything
    9. Fear of success
    10. Fear of disapproval or criticism
    11. Coercion /resentment
    12. Low frustration tolerance (this is mine)
    13. Guilt which is self-blame

How to fix it? – Learn to endorse yourself by visualizing success, counting what counts, and testing your can’ts.


  1. When someone is attacking you
    1. Be empathetic
    2. Use feedback and negotiation
    3. Use an anti-heckler technique


  1. When dealing with anger, cool hot thoughts by
    1. Imagining other thoughts
    2. Rewriting the rules (remember Captain Kirk)
    3. Learn to expect craziness
    4. Practice enlightened manipulation (just give up the anger, you don’t have to manage it if you just give it up; you don’t have to choose between holding it or letting it go if you don’t create it)
    5. Practice should reduction
    6. Practice negotiation strategies
      1. Compliment what s/he did right
      2. Disarm by finding a way to agree with him/her
  • Clarify your point of view calmly and firmly
  1. Practice accurate empathy

A final reminder – anger and depressive thoughts are created by your thoughts just like other emotions. Your feelings result from the meaning you give to the event, not the event itself. Thus, cool those thoughts. You are making yourself hurt. Do you want to keep it up?

Cite: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns, M.D.

Posted in self-improvement

Feeling Good through Understanding, Self-Control, and Prevention & Personal Growth

Depression is so widespread that it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disturbances. Cognitive therapy (thought therapy) is mood modification that you can learn to apply on your own through Understanding, Self-Control, and Prevention & Personal Growth.

Understanding – Why do you get moody? What can you do to change your moods? How do you distinguish normal from abnormal?

Self-Control – Apply safe coping strategies that will make you feel better whenever you are upset.

Prevention and Personal Growth – Genuine and long-lasting prevention of future mood swings.

All of your moods are created by your cognitions (thoughts) by the way you

  • Look at things
  • Perceive things
  • Believe things
  • Interpret things

Ten common distortions include:

  1. All or nothing thinking – “Because I lost this, I am nothing.”
  2. Overgeneralization – “The birds always crap on my window.”
  3. Mental filters – “This stain on my dress ruined my entire date with …”
  4. Disqualifying the positive – “They are just being nice, they don’t really mean it.”
  5. Jumping to conclusions – “He is mad at me because I…”
  6. Magnification and minimization – “My mistake is THIS big; my success is this
  7. Emotional reasoning – “I feel like I am a bad person, therefore, I am a bad person.”
  8. Should statements – “I should …..” or “I must …”
  9. Labeling and mislabeling – Extreme overgeneralizations
  10. Personalization – “My spouse didn’t love me, thus, I must be a lousy person.”

To handle all these, talk back to the internal critic. Train yourself to recognize these distortions. Write down self-critical thoughts as they go through your mind. Learn why they are distorted. Practice talking back to them so as to develop a more realistic self-evaluation system. And remember, feelings aren’t facts. Unpleasant feeling merely indicates that you are thinking something negative and believing it. Stop it, and start again.

Cite: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns, M.D.

Posted in self-improvement, spiritual/religious

Taming the Gremlin Summary

If you’ve liked the subject this month, the photo this week is of the book cover. It has lots of good information and exercises. It can be found on, and I’m assuming lots of good bookseller sites. As we finish this month, I want to leave you with some final thoughts:

Don’t argue with your gremlin, simply notice, and move on. The author expands on this brilliantly in the book, but the argument reminded me of the old George Bernard Shaw proverb: Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and the pig likes it.

Free yourself by not trying to free yourself, but by simply noticing how you are imprisoning yourself.

Draw a picture of your childhood home, a floor layout. Then write things that happened there i.e., laid on the floor watching boxing with my dad, etc. Think about any habits that you created there. Are they good ones? Then keep them. If they aren’t, discard them or modify them.

Make a list of 10 of your same gender’s parent’s characteristics. Make a check mark by all that you share. Make a minus sign by all you would like to change or delete. Make a plus sign by all you want to keep and expand.

Remember, don’t listen to your gremlins. Notice them. Breathe deeply. Give your emotions lots of space, don’t try to suppress or block them; just experience them and move on.

A final reminder of common gremlins:

  1. You can’t – change it to I choose not to
  2. You should, you ought to – change it to I choose to, I choose not to
  3. You need – change it to you want
  4. You don’t deserve – change it to guilt serves no purpose. I am worthy.
  5. They have to change for me to feel better – change it to my feelings are my choice. Simply notice. Breathe deep. Center myself. Move on.

Cite: Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson

Posted in self-improvement, spiritual/religious

Gremlin Habit

All the emotions can be placed in five basic categories – anger, joy, sadness, sexual feelings, and fear. Your responses to these emotions are usually based on gremlin thoughts or memory events. For instance, you may block your anger if you have been told it’s unprofessional. You may block your intimate desires if you were raised with Puritan parents. You may over act when you feel fear because you’ve been told that people who feel fear are cowards.

You may repeat the same patterns over and over again in similar situations. However, these patterns may be based in the world that was instead of the world that now is. As a reminder, you are NOT your memories, and you are NOT your habits. Instead of eating the next time you feel angry, stop to simply notice the emotion and the habits that the emotion raises. Simply notice your breathing. Then without over analyzing it, decide what to do. Practice this when dealing with the other emotions too.

Remember, by acting out of habit, you will replay the same life dramas over and over again. The characters and settings may vary, but the outcomes generally will be the same. As long as you operate out of habit, you will limit your ability to fully experience, appreciate, and enjoy your gift of life. Life may be one thing after another thing, but it does not have to be the same thing over and over again.

Habits are cemented in place by fear, your gremlin’s primary tool. When fear pops up ask yourself, “What would happen if I did…?” Would I fail? Be wrong? Lose friends? Lose my job? Be embarrassed? At the time the habit was created, it may have made sense. Only you can determine if it is still a good reaction or simply an old habit.

Cite: Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson

Posted in self-improvement, spiritual/religious

Gremlin Myths

Last Sunday we identified some typical gremlins that stay busy in our minds. If you missed it, check it out here: November 5th Post. This week, we continue.

Some common gremlin myths include:

  • The real you is unlovable and unacceptable.
  • If you show sadness, you are weak.
  • Suffering is noble.
  • Fast is good and slow is bad.
  • Nice girls don’t enjoy sex or nice girls don’t show that they enjoy sex.
  • To show anger is to be childish and out of control.
  • To express joy is to be childish and unprofessional.
  • If you don’t acknowledge your emotions, they’ll go away.
  • More is better.
  • Men are better leaders than women.
  • Worry, anxiety, and guilt have value.
  • Tensing in anticipation of pain lessens it.
  • Western/Eastern philosophy is closer to the ‘true’ religion.
  • Someday, when you get your ducks in a row, you’ll be happy.

Last week we talked about the process of simply noticing the gremlins inside your mind. To simply notice is to be aware. To simply notice is to pay attention. Simply noticing is not thinking about noticing, it is about simply noticing, simply being aware, simply paying attention. Simply noticing is shining a spotlight on your current moment, on your current now.

Consciously focusing your awareness requires effort, not strain. Consciously being aware is being willing to experience your now without the filter of preconceived notions, ideas, and thoughts. Consciously focusing your awareness is about trusting your own senses in the present moment. It is about taking care with your life and with your awareness. Taming your gremlin does not mean staying out of your mind. It means entering your world of mind by conscious, aware choice. It also means knowing where you end and everything else begins.

While remembering to be aware, also remember to breathe. Full, clear breathing is important. When your breathing is relaxed and clear and you are taking in all of the air you want and exhaling fully, you will be more aware of yourself and of all around you. Your perceptions will be clearer and your vantage point for responding to change will be better.

So, along with being aware of your inner gremlin thoughts and shining spotlights on them to shrink them, also be aware of your breathing. Be aware that you are breathing fully and relaxed. Once you are aware of your thoughts and your breathing, you are what is called centered.

Being centered is your home base for the here and now. So remember to go ‘home’ often to keep yourself aware of the now, and to give yourself a fresh start. Center yourself every day, in the morning if possible. Doing this regularly will allow you to re-center yourself throughout the day as needed.

Cite: Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson

Posted in self-improvement

Taming Your Gremlin

It’s not your mother’s life. It’s not your father’s life. It’s not your spouse’s life. It’s not your employer’s life. It’s not your child’s life. It’s your life. It’s a gift from God to you.

But it’s not always easy to respond to this life gracefully, in part because of the vile, vicious, villain you have living inside your mind – the gremlin. Your gremlin is the narrator in your head who has influenced you since you were a child and been with you ever since. He tells you who you are and how you are and interprets your experiences. He wants you to accept his interpretations as your reality. But, it does not have to be your reality if you learn how to tame your inner gremlins.

People have different gremlins. Some include

  • The General who likes life according to rules, regulations, shoulds, and ought tos,
  • The Artist who shows you a beautiful painting of your perfect life and makes you feel badly if you don’t match up to it or who changes the painting just as you are about to get your life to match the painting,
  • The Hulk who keeps you from showing anger or even assertiveness by telling you to sit down and shut up,
  • The Big Shot who tells you that you are a nobody and a never will be
  • Coach Don Ledup who continually tells you to hustle, to go, go, go, to be number one always
  • Reverend Al Dryup who creates problems when you are in intimate relationship
  • Baba Rub Adub who tells you that anything materialistic and anything that keeps you from your higher conscientious is wrong
  • The Grim Reaper who keeps you worrying and looking backwards and forwards with ‘what ifs’, keeping you in an emotional funk and convinces you that suffering and martyrdom is natural and noble
  • Little Miss What the Hell who once you stray a little from your diet and have one sugary dessert tells you that you’ve failed and may as well have all the cookies in the box. When you do, she says, “Now you’ve done it. You’ll never change.”

So how do you tame your gremlin? You don’t strain, you don’t get frustrated. You don’t create a 7 point plan. You don’t think you should do or ought to do. You begin by simply noticing them when they are around. You learn to recognize the natural you from the gremlin voices. When then start up, you simply notice them. By doing so, you shine a spotlight on the gremlin and watch it shrivel under the light.

Cite: Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson