Not So Grand Illusions

So many of us are afraid of thinking too highly of ourselves or appearing prideful, but what about always assuming the worst. When we lack self-compassion and continually judge ourselves it becomes easier to do the same to others. It is almost impossible to judge only yourself harshly. Unfortunately judgement and negativity becomes a viscous cycle that can be hard to break. So how do we let go of negative self perceptions without swinging to the other side of the spectrum? Tuning into the truth as it is right now in the present moment………..Ok, easier said than done. Personally I have found that cultivating the skill of acceptance has been extremely helpful. When I first starting learning about 3rd Wave CBT (Mindfulness and Acceptance based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) I was really turned off by the concept of acceptance. It sounded too much like resignation or just plain giving up. Luckily I investigated further and discovered something more subtle and gentle. Acceptance is about being honest with ourselves and acknowledging our truthful feelings, possible biases, and basic desires. Acceptance is the opposite of resistance. When practiced with awareness and an open mind, acceptance can teach us a lot about ourselves and the world around us.

For example, I was recently speaking with some friends about the conclusions we jump to when we don’t get an expected response from a person we know well. It is easy to assume that someone didn’t laugh at our joke because they are mad at us or we just aren’t funny. Usually the reason has less to do with us. A usually jovial friend who doesn’t laugh is probably distracted by a task, received somber news or just is not having a good day. When we engage in acceptance we keep our mind open to current information and not succumb to making assumptions. There are assumptions that seem to be common to many of us. These are often referred to as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are basic PSYC 101, but I never quit finding value in revisiting them.

The below list of cognitive distortions was retrieved from

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  1. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  1. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  1. Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  1. Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
    • Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    • The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  1. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  1. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  1. Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  1. Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  1. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.

From: Burns, David D., MD. 1989. The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

It is all about the perspective.


Published in: on December 24, 2012 at 2:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wonder Woman

Be careful about channeling the powers of Wonder Woman and wielding a pink hammer. 

You never know what may happen! A whole new take on Goddess Squat!

Wonder Woman quotes retrieved from, click to check out more great quotes and interesting posts:

“Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.” Queen Hippolyte

“Please take my hand. I give it to you as a gesture of friendship and love, and of faith freely given. I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.” -Wonder Woman #167

“If it means interfering in an ensconced, outdated system, to help just one woman, man or child…I’m willing to accept the consequences.” -Wonder Woman #170

“What was it that John Lennon said? ‘Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.’ Let it grow already, and quit trying to legislate it!”  -Wonder Woman #200

“Of all people, you know who I am…who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” -Infinite Crisis #1

Published in: on May 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm  Comments (3)  
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Truly Living

Waste not fresh tears over old griefs. ~Euripides

Study as if you were to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow. ~Isidore of Seville

The past is made of memories, the future a fantasy, experiencing the present moment is truly living. ~anonymous


What is bigger the foot or the dog?  It might seem silly to ask, but sometimes the answer is not always so obvious.  Just as the mirror says “objects my be closer than they appear”, there are a lot of illusions in life.  While practicing yoga we take the time to observe the details that we may otherwise block out. In deepening our awareness we can dispel personal illusions and gain a clearer image of our authentic self.  Some may say this is a narcissistic practice and ask how getting to know yourself better can help anyone, but yourself.  I would ask them to notice what the largest factors are that effect how they interact with the world?

When an individual feels sick they are less likely to be patient and tolerant.  If an individual does not understand their own needs how will they understand the needs of others?  The list could go on and on, my point being that your personal experience in the present moment has the greatest effect on how you interact with the world around you.  If you can increase the quality of your experience you are also more likely to influence those around you in a positive way.

So, with that said, do what you can to understand yourself and drop the illusions that wall you in.  The view will clear and you will find yourself doing good even without trying….now that is grand!

Panoramic, single focus or no view at all…

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

~Marcel Proust

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Guest House ~ Rumi

I share this Rumi poem, not to encourage those with mood disorders to minimize their emotional swings, but instead to remind us all that having feelings and emotions is human and not always a pathology.

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

(The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lexical Criterion?

I am currently studying for my last final (at least in 2011).  I have a huge stack of flashcards that I have made to try and learn just the terminology.  Well, out of 58 terms, there are 12 that I thought might make my yogi friends smile.  So here it goes, a dozen fun words.

comic compliments of

  1. Organismic Valuing Process – The internal signal that tells whether self-actualization is occurring.
  2. Transcendent Self-actualizers – People whose actualization goes beyond the self to become more universal.
  3. Constructive Alternativism – The idea that any event can be construed in many ways.
  4. Defensive Reappraisal – The process of re-defining a threat out of existence.
  5. Actual Self – One’s self as one presently views it (I am not sure this one is very accurate?)
  6. Lexical Criterion – An index of the importance of a personality trait from the number of words that refers to it.
  7. Actualization – The tendency to grow in ways that maintain or enhance the self.
  8. Self-handicapping – Creating situations that make it hard to succeed, thus enabling avoidance of self-blame for failure.
  9. Existential Psychology – The view that people are responsible for investing their lives with meaning.
  10. Existential Guilt – A sense of guilt over failing to fulfill all of one’s potential. (Could we have existential guilt without existential psychology?)
  11. Dasein – “Being in the World”, the totality of one’s autonomous personal existence.
  12. Need – An unsatisfactory internal condition that motivates behavior.

Can anyone guess what class this final is in?  Call me a geek if you like, but I love rolling these words around in my head.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 5:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bulwark of Society

“…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”  ~ Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

“The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.” ~John E. E. Dalberg, Lord Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity, [1877].

“The true bulwark of a society is a government strong enough to protect the will of its people; and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain sovereign control of its government.”
~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Published in: on March 10, 2011 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Leggo My Ego?

Ego is greatly misunderstood and defined in many ways. Is ego the picture we present to the world, the whole of what we think of ourselves, self esteem or something entirely different? I believe that ego is the identity or core of an individual as that person sees themselves. This view of oneself is influenced by our public identity, experiences, self esteem and so much more.  The ego is often conceptualized by a some of parts that distinguish us from others. In a collectivist culture an individual is likely to also define their ego as including the characteristics of the self that make them like their group. What does ego mean to you?

Ultimately, the only definition of ego that I believe is universal is that ego is only a word we use to pin down the idea of what makes us who we are, both privately and publicly. I believe it is important for us to understand ourselves and what motivates us in life. Once this sense of identity is clear enough, we can then move through life in a more authentic way…making our actions sync with our authentic selves. How do we move from ego, to identity to our authentic self?

It is my belief that we truly shine when we release our attachment to our self-presentation and connect to our self-concept….letting our actions speak the volumes that our heart sings!

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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