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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cohabitating With Animals

If you learn about animals, you will find that more of them than you think are intelligent and social.  My favorites are dolphins.  Yes, it is easier to maim an animal or kill them and dissect them if you think they are just dumb animals.

Why do some people have to assert their power by killing living beings and/or controlling how they live their lives.  When I started studying psychology, I took it for granted that was one thing we used animals for.  Christian people and people who believe in reincarnation and karma know that how they treat animals is something they will be accountable for.  In the book of Genesis in the Bible, mankind was given creation to rule over; but it was to be a benevolent dictatorship.  Some, if not all American Indians, treat living with nature as a responsibility, something that is only “lent” to them for its safekeeping and not something to abuse.

We are given a lot of things in this life time and how we take care of them is a good measure of how much we appreciate them.  Saying prayers at mealtime is one way to do this.

Studies now show that we can hurt plants.  They have been mostly ignored until now.  We have a great responsibility to others with which we share the universe.

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Take Care of Yourself

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

Treat yourself like you want to be treated.  Thank yourself for everything you have gotten done.  Rewards work better than punishment even for you.  Keep something beautiful where you can see it.  If you are a guy, keep something out on display that motivates you.  Or vice versa.  Make a list of all the things you have accomplished in life and review it every so often.

Remember an accomplishment for one person may not be one for another person.  For example, graduating from college can be a difficult goal for someone who works their way through college and  who started with a GED.  For another person who had an excellent grades in high school and whose parents could afford to send him or her to college, getting a college diploma might not be too difficult.  For the second person taking a minimum wage job with rotating shifts and supporting themselves might be more difficult.

If you have made a mistake or mistakes, don’t make that a focal point of your self-evaluation.  Mistakes can be a learning experience.  Don’t let one mistake stop you.  At least you can acknowledge it and then you can do something about it.  I am not encouraging you to do something stupid where you or someone might get hurt or die.  You usually learn more from mistakes than you learn from successes.

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Being Grateful to Those You May Hate

We get so upset about “bad” things people have done to us in our past that we totally ignore the good things they did.  Most relationships can not be all bad, but we prefer sometimes to see them that way when they end.

Make a list of good things your exspouse, exfriend or  “abusive” parent did for you.  Look at it when you are grumpy and can only think of the things they did that you consider bad.  This is not to overlook dangerous things that happened because of  these people or things someone did for you just to ingratiate you so that you wouldn’t refuse to do something for them.

Be appreciative.  There usually has been a time when things were going good or you wouldn’t have been in a relationship with them.  Just think if the relationship hadn’t ended or if you had had a chance to talk openly with your parent before you lost him or her, you might be counting your blessings.

Good memories can be about simple things:  putting butter and sugar on plain white bread for a treat, having gotten a beloved pet together, doing chores together and the other person 0pting to do a chore that you extremely disliked.

Seeking revenge and focusing on what the other person did wrong can only make you unhappy as you relive bad memories.

If you refocus on these types of relationships and try to at least mentally mend fences, you may work out some of your karma with these people in this lifetime instead of the next (if you believe in reincarnation).

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Oh, Heck, Here I Am Being Judgmental Again

Did you know that when you are not being judgmental, you are being judgmental?  Just when you think you have it all together, you don’t.  If you are judging those people who you think are judgmental, then aren’t you also being judgmental?

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” comes from the Bible. (I remember the essences of the Bible verses I learned as a child, but usually not where to find them.)  It is pretty tricky to examine the shortcomings of others without revealing your own.

Pride, the “I am better than you” feeling, is easy to overlook when we think we are being virtuous.

In some sense, we all are pretty common and share a lot of “faults” of others that we think that only other people have, not us.

We want to stand out among others as personifying only the good things in life assigning the bad things to others than ourselves.

I don’t think “saints” spend a lot of time examining the consciences of others, just their own.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

When it comes to art and music,  different people have different tastes and it varies from culture to culture.  Even what you perceive and appreciate now is determined by past experience.  Connections in the brain are either reinforced by use or weakened through disuse.

The more you learn about the universe, the more beauty you see.  That pile of junk becomes a work of art newly viewed through your now awakened eyes.

Peoples’ perspectives on things vary and it is refreshing to know that different people find different things to be beautiful.  Being able to appreciate something is a gift.  Using words like “junk”, “noise”, or “dribble” to label someone else’s artistic experience most often shows ignorance rather than knowledge of great music, art, or writing.

There are always some people who will promote something as art, etc. when it isn’t finding some gullible person or persons who will follow the latest “trend” even when they don’t know why it is supposed to be so fantastic.  They just want to be seen as having or doing the latest “in” thing.  Money can be made that way especially when you are the person other people consult to find this out.  Interior decorators and clothing designers  can be kept in business by customers who depend on them to keep their houses and themselves in style.



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Appreciate Things

Photo of a slice of coconut cream pie. Taken a...

Photo of a slice of coconut cream pie. Taken at the Golden Nugget Restaurant, Chicago, Ill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So many things once thought useless have been found to be invaluable.  The world is fearfully and wonderfully made.  It is like brussel sprouts which you might not like and somebody else finds delicious.  There is even the possibility that sometime in your life you might change your mind.  I did about coconut.  Initially I would scrape off coconut on top of cakes and when I bit into a chocolate from a box of candies and found I had gotten one with coconut inside, I would spit it out.  Then I discovered German chocolate cake with pecans and coconut flakes in the frosting and creamy coconut spread from Florida.  Now I will even eat one slice of coconut cream pie.  Basically I have found I like coconut flavor, not so much coconut in the form of flakes.  Give yourself a chance, give someone else a chance, the world comes in a lot of flavors.  You may be missing something.

Don’t say I’ll  never or you might have to eat your words.  I said I would never work in a nursing home or with the mentally retarded.  Guess what happened?  I had to eat my words.  I was afraid of death after an unfortunate experience as a child and then I wound up helping lay someone out who had died where I worked and visiting the embalming room of a funeral home.


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Creative Drawing

Drawings reveal what is on a child’s mind especially before they become a teenager.  Until then they don’t realize everything they are communicating even though sometimes they will tell you what they are drawing and perhaps even why they are drawing it.  In therapy with children, drawing (by both the child and the therapist) can be a way of resolving an issue.  There is nothing really sophisticated about, it requires no artistic talent on either the child’s or the therapist’s part.  The materials are easy to find and they probably are in your home already if you have children.  You can recycle computer printouts by using the plain back sides.  Most children have crayons and/or colored pencils and the more colors the better.  Also you can use markers or paints if the child is old enough.  The colors used, the actions portrayed, the placement and inclusion of figures all tell the therapist something.  A child can be asked to draw something traumatic or scarey (like a trip to the emergency room).  If the child appears reluctant, then the therapist might draw first asking the child to tell him or her what to draw in the picture.

Little girl drawing with a blue pencil.

Little girl drawing with a blue pencil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Control Freak

control freak

control freak (Photo credit: h4cks)

Some things can’t be controlled, but a true control freak will rant and rave over it anyway.  For example, I once shared a hotel room with a snorer and I couldn’t fall asleep so I went into the bathroom, closed the door, and read a magazine.  That didn’t suit the snorer when she woke up and found what I had done.  Guess who was in trouble? Definitely not the snorer.  Me.  How irrational is that?  I was between a rock and a hard place.  There was nothing I could do to please her, except lay down in bed and pretend to be asleep which I had already tried doing.

Control freaks want to control what the other person feels, thinks and does and what the world does too.  This happens even if something unexpected and unavoidable happens.  Then they go off the deep end, generally taking with them as many people as possible.  Once you have had this experience going along for the ride, you will never forget it.

Drama queens are usually control freaks.  They can make a big deal about something when there is no need to do it.  It is all about them and how they feel and what they want.   Nobody elses’s  wishes or feelings matter.  There is usually nothing to make a fuss about, but they find something.  Sometimes they even brag about it saying something like, “I always get my way.”

I am not encouraging everybody else to give in to the control freak.  Your feelings and wishes count too.  It is just that the control freak just takes it for granted that nobody elses’ wants and desires matter.  They have center stage and they won’t give it up.

Have you ever been in a situation where a person is understandably upset and it  is plain that something needs to be done for that person immediately and everyone pitches in but the drama queen who makes it all about him or her.  The situation makes him or her so upset that sometimes people will stop helping the person who needs it and pay attention to him or her and do what he or she “needs” to have done.  For example, by saying, ” I can’t stand the sight of blood,” and saying that he or she is going to faint.  The person who is injured and bleeding gets the attention taken away from them and it goes to the other person.

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From Their Side From Our Side

Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Pers...
Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Person-centered psychotherapy into mainstream focus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are an opinionated country.  Everybody has something to say about everything especially now with the social network sites.  We get so caught up in how we see an issue or behavior that we are literally blind to how the other person might see them.

I hope you believe that everybody is entitled to their own opinion; however, it is difficult to do when it involves a life or death question.  We often (when we have a conversation or interaction with others) spend more time thinking about we are going to say than hearing what the other person has to say and/or acknowledging it.

Active listening is one way to be sure we understand what the other person is saying.  (See the work of psychologist, Carl Rogers.)  We listen and then paraphrase what the other person has said.  At the same tine checking with them to see if we got the information right.

It is important in such conflicts to be assertive rather than aggressive.  It helps if you agree that a person has a right to their opinion.  You might say, “I can see where you might think I am being aggressive because of the tone of voice that you thought that I used.

Finally, a disagreement might be at least partly due to a lack of knowledge of what information the person used to come to their conclusion.  There are two sides to every issue.  That’s what debates are based on.  People can get so worked up about an issue that they jump to conclusions and leave no room for the other person to communicate what actually happened.

One way that a person might realize this is when they meet a person who represents the very thing they have condemned and gets to know them before they find out they are supposedly on opposite sides.  Such a person might be a Muslim or illegal alien or a conservative politician or stay at home mom; but the person with the stereotype doesn’t know this when he or she first meets them.


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Value Yourself!

How you are judged as a child can determine how you judge yourself as an adult and how you receive the judgments of others when you are an adult.

Do you keep a list of your past mistakes and failures and refer to them frequently when you are determining if you have lived a worthwhile life?    Do you feel that there are some things for which you can never make up?  Do feel that because of these you have ruined your life forever?

Have you judged your successes by the way that other people have received them?  Do you feel that what you have done is not important?  How long is your list of achievements?  What things have you left off the list because they don’t seem important enough?

Are you well-educated; but that is not seen as important because the other people in your life do not value it as they may have succeeded in some other area and did not pursue an advanced education.  Just think if we all did well at one thing,  the competition in that area would be fierce and few people would succeed.

One of the problems with modern day society is mass communication.  Another is the amount of distance that can be covered in a short space of time.  It used to be that people lived in smaller communities and it was difficult to travel from one to the other in a reasonable amount of time.  In each community there was often ample room for people who were good in many endeavors.  As places got closer together in modern times, there was less room for persons to stand out in a given area of expertise.  For example, in the past each little area often had a good singer, an outstanding orator, etc.  Now you have to win The American Idol to stand out among vocalists.


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