Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goals, Goals, Goals!!

“Don’t Should on yourself” Dr. Charlie Walker

We are going to switch topics a little to focus on goals and the motivations behind being able to reach goals.  This can be focused on professional, personal, fitness, depression, anxiety, better relationships, or any other goals that you may be working on in your life.  This is not going to focus on the planning or even the breakdown of S.M.A.R.T. goals, (Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Action orientated, realistic, and time specific) which of course are important, but will not get to that underbelly of what really allows some to reach goals and others to not. 

Let’s say you want to go on a vacation.  Vacations cost money (sometimes significant amount), travel time either flying or driving, sleeping in unfamiliar places, possible language issues, lots of planning, choosing where you want to go, and multiple other potential problems that could happen on a vacation.  So why in the world would anyone ever want to go on a vacation knowing this?  The simple answer is that people focus on the positive outcome that the vacation will bring them, which could be stress relief, lifetime memories, beautiful scenery, visiting a friend, etc………. 

So of course it is in relation to those positive outcomes are the important part.  I’ll go back to my personal training days when I often heard people express their goals like this.  “I want to lose weight”, or my favorite was “I just want to tone up”.  This is equivalent to saying, “I want to go on a vacation.”  There is no real positive outcome with this or personal attachment to the goals.  The next step closer was someone who came in and said “I want to lose x amount of weight.”  This is closer because it gave us something to measure, but still no real positive outcome or personal attachment. 

To reach your goal you must create that positive outcome and personal attachment for yourself.  What is that goal going to do for you?  How will that goal impact you and better your life?  What are the very underlying reasons that you want to reach that goal?  So basically “Why” is this important enough for you to work through the difficulties that it takes to reach that goal? 

Now the question is why don’t we do this in relation to all of our goals?  The usual suspects usually fall into these categories;

1.     Fear of failure
2.     Fear of giving things up/sacrificing
3.     The goal is just not that important

The fear of failure tends to be the major one when it comes to not reaching a goal.  “If I never really reach for the goal, I cannot fail.”  Though this is a very irrational thought process, as there will be no goal attainment or often times very little progress towards the gain, which is creating a protected level of failure that was intended to be avoided in the first place.  This brings out a second level of irrational thinking, because avoiding failure is an impossible task.  Nobody fully succeeds throughout the entire process of reaching a goal. 

So in this case, the rational response would be to take acceptance that reaching a goal will involve challenges and often times failures that will need to be overcome to reach the final outcome.  It will never be perfect and may be delayed.

The Fear of giving things up/sacrificing can also be thought of as “letting your But get in the way.”  I’d like to lose weight “but.”  I’d like to do that “but.”  How often has your “But” gotten in the way?

Ultimately this comes down to a level of prioritizing.  What is more important to you? 

It also focuses more attention on the thought of giving something up over the thought of gaining something.  Are you more likely to eat healthier if you notice improvements in weight, health, and energy and focus on the positive outcomes or if you focus on giving up eating Big Mac’s for lunch everyday?  Humans like to gain, but do not like to have to give things up.  I encourage you to focus on that “Gain” when thinking about your goals.

The last one “the goal is just not important enough” usually falls under the category of trying to do something for others or something that you thought you are supposed to do.  This is often the line of “I should do this.”  When you feel as if you should do something, but don’t really have it as a personal goal.  Maybe society, spouse, friends, job, parents, etc. tell you that you should.  Though just to quote one of my favorite lines, “Don’t should on yourself.”  Make the goals something that you want to do and find your benefit in those goals.        

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oh no, Expectations!!!!

“People not only gain understanding through reflection, they evaluate and alter their own thinking."
Albert Bandura

I wanted to start this entry with my reactions that I had after sending out my blog information to pretty much everyone I knew, as it does relate to what we are discussing.  After I had sent it out, I had an instant reaction of fear of living up to Expectations.  I am still not sure exactly sure if this was the expectations that I set up my self, or the expectations that I have for you, the reader?  In reality, it is probably somewhere in between. 

Now I hope to some extent that you are saying to yourself that having expectations should not be a bad thing, which I would say to you that you are right. (Though in my belief it is Irrational to identify just about anything as absolute Good and absolute bad or absolute rational vs. absolute irrational, which is a discussion for another time).  Expectations and meeting and exceeding them are a great motivator in our lives for the success that we want.

What I wanted to do was look at the irrational parts of that fear and strike when the iron is COLD.  (Strike when the iron is cold means to step away from the emotion (irons hot) and identify the situation and feelings.  If you strike when the iron is hot always, you will tend to deny your emotions, when often times its best to let those emotions play out before you truly evaluate them.)

What I found out was that it is irrational to expect everyone to want to read this.  It’s irrational to think that every posting will connect to everybody.  It’s also irrational to think that I will always meet everyone’s expectations, especially my own. It’s also irrational to identify myself as a failure if all of my expectations or your expectations are not meet, as this would be unrealistic to expect.

It also got me wondering how these expectations play out in other parts of my life, as most of the time, these things will manifest themselves in other areas of life.  How does this fear of expectations affect my relationship with my wife? Kids? Family? Friends? At work? 

Now of course it would be “irrational” of you to think that I would have a good answer besides that I know it has affected all of those situations to some extent, though 3 days is not enough time to really evaluate this.  Give yourself some time and remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

That was a long segue. :) Now I want to cover the three main area’s of irrational thoughts and  please comment here, if you feel comfortable, on which ones you feel that you identify most with.

 1.    I must always do well and win the approval of others, and if I don’t, I am a failure.

2.         Other’s must always treat me with respect and be kind to me, or else they are no good.

3.          I must always get what I want and never get what I don’t want. 

   For me, my irrational belief pattern falls mostly with the first area, (especially with my example in this posting) but of course, like most of us, there are times when I identify with each of the areas.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Why are we so Irrational?

Rational beliefs bring us closer to getting good results in the real world.
Quotation of Albert Ellis

My second blog and am very excited to bring you the topic of Rational Emotional Behavior Therapy (REBT).  I Know what you are thinking, why would I be starting my blog entries on a topic such as this.  Me, I must be the most irrational person that you have ever meet or ever would hope to meet, and nobody would be able to benefit from a conversation with me.  Why would anyone even want to read this????

Well I hope you caught on to my providing some nice examples of some of my lovely irrational thoughts. 

The reason that I want to start with this topic is that it is one of the major theories of counseling that I most closely identify with and identify much of what I do, and how I am able to help people process some of their thoughts and beliefs, and help them towards more positive thoughts and beliefs. 

REBT is a form of Cognitive behavioral therapy and was created by Albert Ellis.  This theory focuses on all those irrational thoughts we have about how we are not good enough, not smart enough, and doggone it that people just don’t like us.  The great thing about this theory is that pretty much everybody has these types of thoughts from time to time.

The theory start’s with the A-B-C concept, which is as easy as 1-2-3.  (I hope you never get sick of my lame attempts at humor).  The A-B-C model goes like this;

A-    Activating Agent/ Adversity
B-   Belief about the Activating Agent
C-   Consequences

So first take a look at how you process this with an Activating Agent or current Adversity you may be facing. 

For me that Activating Agent can be writing this blog.  Now the (A) Activating Agent can be something I control (such as this blog), or an event we cannot (Death, or an action by someone close to you. 

The (B) Belief of course we have a level of control over this, if not full control.  I would say the later, though we first need to identify these things, and identifying those is not always as easy as flipping on a light switch.  So in my example of negative/irrational thoughts would be those thoughts in my first paragraph, which of course would make my (C) Consequence to not do the blog, which would maybe keep me safe, but would continue to feed those ideas that I am not good enough.

So a Rational/Positive (B) Belief is that this will be an opportunity for me to develop Personally, Professionally and that I will be able to hopefully say some things that will ignite positive changes to some of you reading this.  Of course now my (C) Consequence is writing this blog.

My challenge to all of those who are reading this is to work on identifying the A-B-C model to your life and identify if you may be leading yourself into negative consequences.  Though be sure to identify the positive consequences you have created as well, and feel good about them.

My next blog will cover some of the different types of irrational thoughts and possibilities to work through them.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Blog - My Introduction

“Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

My first Blog!!

I wanted to start this blog as a way to share some of the Knowledge that I have gained during my 2+ years so far in Graduate school working towards my Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling, My Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science,  my 7+ years experience as a personal trainer, and my soon to be 35 years experience of living on this big blue and green ball that we like to call Earth.  I would like to explore many topics that are and have been important to me, as well as topics that have helped me personally, and have helped many of the people that I have worked with. 

What I am hoping is that I will be able to motivate people little by little to make positive changes in their lives.  I’m not expecting everybody who reads my blogs to have miraculous results, and some will not get much benefit out of it.  My style and views will not be right for everybody, which I am fine with, as everybody needs something different.  Though I suspect, since you are taking some time out of your day to read this, that you are looking at improving and making some positive changes and I hope you keep an open mind and challenge yourself, identify those areas of improvement, and to use me as a resource.  I have yet to meet someone that is immune to improvement and doesn’t deserve to live a happy life.

I’m also looking at this blog as a way  to enhance myself professionally.  It’s a way to identify various topics in relation to mental health and help to be able to better understand them and how they can be used when working with people, as well as to see how some of my readers may respond to some of the topics. 

My last reason for doing this is much more personal.  Self-awareness is something that is crucial, especially for a counselor in training.  I need to understand myself better and also understand how I can apply these topics to my own life.  I will not be able to reach my full potential in this field without the knowledge of who I am, which of course is a life long learning adventure for all or us. 

Now as a Counselor in training, I am Ethically bound and do take Confidentiality very seriously.  Please know that anything that is shared with me in relation to this blog will be done in this manner, as I expect all readers to do the same.  Though please realize that any comments in the comment sections will be public domain.

I would like to hear and take many suggestions on various topics that may be important to you.  I will be covering topics mostly dealing with motivation,  psychology, counseling theories, exercise and anything else related to the goal of Mental, Physical, and Emotional health and Well Being!

I hope to share this adventure with you and am very much looking forward to intriguing discussions!