Sunday, August 28, 2011

Parable of Ups and Downs

This is a parable by Dr. Robert Terry which was read out to us in a development programme. I am reproducing the same.

What makes an UP an UP and a DOWN a DOWN is that an UP can do more to a DOWN than a DOWN can do to an UP. That’s what keeps an UP UP and a DOWN DOWN. The UPS tend to talk to each other and study the DOWNS, asking the DOWNS about what’s UP, or what’s coming DOWN, for that matter. The DOWNS spend a lot of time taking the UPS out to lunch or dinner, to explain their DOWNNESS. The UPS listen attentively, often in amazement about the experiences of being a DOWN. They contrast one DOWN’S experience with another DOWN’S experience and usually don’t worry too much about what the DOWNS are UP to because the DOWNS never get together. If they did, the UPS would have to shape UP.

After a while, the DOWNS are weary of talking to the UPS. They tire of explaining and justifying their DOWNNESS. They think, “If I have to explain my DOWNNESS one more time, I’ll throw UP.” And so they form a process which they call “networking and support groups.” This act makes the UPS nervous. Three UPS together is a board meeting; three DOWNS - a pre-revolutionary activity! Some UPS hire DOWNS, dress them UP, send them DOWN to see what DOWNS are UP to. We sometimes call this “personnel and affirmative action.” This creates a serious problem for the DOWN who is dressed UP with no sure place to go. That DOWN doesn’t know whether he or she is UP or DOWN. That’s why DOWNS in the middle often burn out.

Sometimes what the UPS do to smarten UP is to ask the DOWNS to come in to a program one at a time to explain their DOWNNESS. UPS call this “human relations training.” OF course, the UPS never have to explain their UPNESS, that’s why they’re UPS rather than DOWNS.

There’s good news and bad news in this parable. The good news is, we’re all both UPS and DOWNS. There’s no such thing as a perfect UP or a perfect DOWN. The bad news is that when we’re UP it often makes us stupid. We call that “DUMB-UPNESS.” It’s not because UPS are not smart. It’s that UPS don’t have to pay attention to DOWNS the way that DOWNS have to pay attention to UPS. DOWNS always have to figure out what UPS are UP to. The only time UPS worry about DOWNS is when DOWNS get uppity, at which time they’re put DOWN by the UPS. The UPS’ perception is that DOWNS are overly sensitive; they have an attitude problem. It’s never understood that UPS are underly sensitive and have an attitude problem.

I used to think that when DOWNS became UPS they would carry over their insight from their DOWNNESS to their UPNESS. Not so. Smart DOWN—dumb UP.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Power of Positive Talk

An interesting article that I read some years ago.

I remember my dad teaching me the power of language at a very young age. Not only did my dad understand that specific words affect our mental pictures, but he understood words are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success.

One particularly interesting event occurred when I was eight. As a kid, I was always climbing trees, poles, and literally hanging around upside down from the rafters of our lake house. So, it came to no surprise for my dad to find me at the top of a 30-foot tree swinging back and forth. My little eight-year-old brain didn't realize the tree could break or I could get hurt. I just thought it was fun to be up so high.

My older cousin, Tammy, was also in the same tree. She was hanging on the first big limb, about ten feet below me. Tammy's mother also noticed us at the exact time my dad did. About that time a huge gust of wind came over the tree. I could hear the leaves start to rattle and the tree begin to sway. I remember my dad's voice over the wind yell, "Bart, Hold on tightly." So I did. The next thing I know, I heard Tammy screaming at the top of her lungs, laying flat on the ground. She had fallen out of the tree.

I scampered down the tree to safety. My dad later told me why she fell and I did not. Apparently, when Tammy's mother felt the gust of wind, she yelled out, "Tammy, don't fall!" And Tammy did fall. My dad then explained to me that the mind has a very difficult time processing a negative image.

In fact, people who rely on internal pictures cannot see a negative at all. In order for Tammy to process the command of not falling, her nine-year-old brain had to first imagine falling, then try to tell the brain not to do what it just imagined. Whereas, my eight-year-old brain instantly had an internal image of me hanging on tightly.

This concept is especially useful when you are attempting to break a habit or set a goal. You can't visualize not doing something. The only way to properly visualize not doing something is to actually find a word for what you want to do and visualize that. For example, when I was thirteen years old, I played for my junior high school football team. I tried so hard to be good, but I just couldn't get it together at that age. I remember hearing the words run through my head as I was running out for a pass, "Don't drop it!"

Naturally, I dropped the ball. My coaches were not skilled enough to teach us proper "self-talk." They just thought some kids could catch and others couldn't. I'll never make it pro, but I'm now a pretty good Sunday afternoon football player, because all my internal dialogue is positive and encourages me to win. I wish my dad had coached me playing football instead of just climbing trees. I might have had a longer football career. Here is a very easy demonstration to teach your kids and your friends the power of a toxic vocabulary.

Ask them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it to them. Now, follow my instructions carefully. Say to them, "Okay, try to drop the pencil." Observe what they do. Most people release their hands and watch the pencil hit the floor. You respond, "You weren't paying attention. I said TRY to drop the pencil. Now please do it again." Most people then pick up the pencil and pretend to be in excruciating pain while their hand tries but fails to drop the pencil.

The point is made. If you tell your brain you will "give it a try," you are actually telling your brain to fail. I have a "no try" rule in my house and with everyone I interact with. Either people will do it or they won't. Either they will be at the party or they won't. I'm brutal when people attempt to lie to me by using the word try. Do they think I don't know they are really telegraphing to the world they have no intention of doing it but they want me to give them brownie points for pretended effort?

You will never hear the words "I'll try" come out of my mouth unless I'm teaching this concept in a seminar. If you "try" and do something, your unconscious mind has permission not to succeed. If I truly can't make a decision I will tell the truth. "Sorry John. I'm not sure if I will be at your party or not. I've got an outstanding commitment. If that falls through, I will be here. Otherwise, I will not. Thanks for the invite."
People respect honesty. So remove the word "try" from your vocabulary.

My dad also told me that psychologists claim it takes seventeen positive statements to offset one negative statement. I have no idea if it is true, but the logic holds true. It might take up to seventeen compliments to offset the emotional damage of one harsh criticism. These are concepts that are especially useful when raising children. Ask yourself how many compliments you give yourself daily versus how many criticisms. Heck, I know you are talking to yourself all day long. We all have internal voices that give us direction. So, are you giving yourself the 17:1 ratio or are you shortchanging yourself with toxic self-talk like, "I'm fat. Nobody will like me. I'll try this diet. I'm not good enough. I'm so stupid. I'm broke, etc. etc."

If our parents can set a lifetime of programming with one wrong statement, imagine the kind of programming you are doing on a daily basis with your own internal dialogue.

Here is a list of Toxic Vocabulary words. Notice when you or other people use them.

But: Negates any words that are stated before it.
Try: Presupposes failure.
If: Presupposes that you may not.
Might: It does nothing definite. It leaves options for your listener.
Would Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen.
Should Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen (and implies guilt.)
Could Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen but the person tries to take credit as if it did happen.
Can't/Don't: These words force the listener to focus on exactly the opposite of what you want. This is a classic mistake that parents and coaches make without knowing the damage of this linguistic error.

Toxic phrase: "Don't drop the ball!"
Likely result: Drops the ball
Better language: "Catch the ball!"

Toxic phrase: "You shouldn't watch so much television."
Likely result: Watches more television.
Better language: "I read too much television makes people slow.”

That's the power of positive talk.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Mumbai

Everyone talks of the spirit of the Mumbaites ( folks of Mumbai or erstwhile Bombay –the commercial capital of India). I, being one of them, would of course agree to the existence of this undying spirit, but not without asking a question ‘ Is it slowly dying, bit by bit?’

There is a bomb blast and the very next day, the city is back to its feet. It never comes to a grinding halt. But the question is ‘is there a choice at all?’ Folks come to Mumbai to eke out a living, and ‘necessity to work’ is all powerful and consuming.

But the other part that I have been observing recently, which really demystifies this undying spirit, is the intolerance observed in the day to day life. Road rage, impatience, quarrels, bickering, fights, fisticuffs and so on seem to be increasing by the day and the ‘live and let live’ accommodative spirit seems to be waning. Smiling faces, earlier seen, have turned to scowling, and externalising issues seem to be the order of the day. Reasons may be galore but what does Mumbai really need to do.

I am reminded of a mother who took her daughter to the departmental stores. The little girl saw some expensive toys and was uncontrollably weeping so that the mother buys the toys. The mother was heard saying ‘Jennifer, relax, Jenifer relax ….’ The girl continued weeping and the mother continued saying ‘ Jennifer, relax, Jennifer relax.’ Some others watching this asked the mother ‘Do you think, the child would understand whatever you are telling her …. after all she is small?’. The mother replied ‘ I am not talking to the child. My name is Jennifer.’

So Mumbai, revive the spirit and say ‘Just relax, just relax.’

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eating the cookie

Eating the Cookie is a piece written by Rachel Naomi Remen. A beautiful piece that leaves one thinking. I am sharing this with my readers.

One of my patients, a successful businessman, tells me that before his cancer he would become depressed unless things went a certain way. Happiness was "having the cookie." If you had the cookie, things were good. If you didn't have the cookie, life wasn't worth a damn. Unfortunately, the cookie kept changing. Some of the time it was money, sometimes power, sometimes sex. At other times, it was the new car, the biggest contract, the most prestigious address.

A year and a half after his diagnosis of prostate cancer he sits shaking his head ruefully. "It's like I stopped learning how to live after I was a kid. When I give my son a cookie, he is happy. If I take the cookie away or it breaks, he is unhappy. But he is two and a half and I am forty-three. It's taken me this long to understand that the cookie will never make me happy for long. The minute you have the cookie it starts to crumble or you start to worry about it crumbling or about someone trying to take it away from you. You know, you have to give up a lot of things to take care of the cookie, to keep it from crumbling and be sure that no one takes it away from you. You may not even get a chance to eat it because you are so busy just trying not to lose it. Having the cookie is not what life is about."

My patient laughs and says cancer has changed him. For the first time he is happy. No matter if his business is doing well or not, no matter if he wins or loses at golf. "Two years ago, cancer asked me, 'Okay, what's important? What is really important?' Well, life is important. Life. Life, any way you can have it. Life with the cookie. Life without the cookie. Happiness does not have anything to do with the cookie, it has to do with being alive. Before, who made the time?" He pauses thoughtfully. "Damn, I guess life is the cookie."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That's love

The story goes that a father punished his five year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapper. The next day the father noticed a neatly packed gift box with the golden wrapper placed in his room with the words " I love you, Dad." The father was touched by his daughter's gesture and felt bad that he had scolded her.

However, he again became furious when he opened the box and noticed that the box was empty. The father felt that his daughter had played a trick on him, and, once again, reprimanded her. The daughter had tears in his eyes and said ' Daddy, the box is not empty. I blew kisses into it till it was full." The father was overwhelmed and hugged his daughter and felt sorry for what he had said.

An accident, some days later, took the life of the girl. It is told that the father kept the golden box by his bedside for the rest of his life. And whenever he was a little down, he would open the box and pick up an imaginary kiss and remember the love of his daughter.

In a very real sense each one of us have been given this golden box filled with love and kisses from our children, parents, friends and God. Can we treasure our box and fill their boxes too?