Money, Wants and Needs, Goals – This One is Mental Therapy

Bobblehead DollDear reader, you might want to skip this article.  I write this mainly to organize some thoughts for myself.  I am not preaching; I am not trying to teach anyone but myself; if you find something that helps you, you are welcome to the words and lessons.  I have been struggling with learning a couple of things surrounding a couple of topics, and I want to take a minute and jot down some thoughts that have come to me.  I will return to weightier matters another day.  Please excuse me.

Money

My best friend, traveling companion, and spouse, once said something that stuck in my mental processes, “Money is sacred! [emphasis in original]”  She continued over time to add words to the effect that, since money requires effort and sweat to earn, money should be considered sacred and spent with purpose.  When spending money with a sacred purpose, we would necessarily change our spending habits to reflect the sacred nature of money, and in doing so, honor our sacrifice in earning money, respecting ourselves more.

Working DollarSince 2000 the software industry has undergone a very subtle shift; no longer do you purchase software, you rent it.  You make a monthly purchase for that software, which becomes more than the price you would ever have paid for the software previously.  Now, some argue this is due to the cost of upgrading software.  Some argue this is due to the price of intellectual property.  Some argue this is to reduce the cost of piracy of software.  Regardless, does this shift honor your sacrifice in earning money?

Games, especially phone games, are really expensive.  I have an addiction problem to phone games.  I quickly get hooked, then I justify making a dollar purchase here, a two-dollar purchase there, and then at the end of the month, look at the bill and see I spent $400 on a phone game.  True story.  I turn on the passwords; I turn on the purchase blockers, I try hard to avoid making purchases.  I can only succeed when I delete the games, put down my phone, and stop playing games.  I have tried playing games without making purchases and would argue that it is nearly impossible to play any game without making purchases. The games are not designed to be played; they are intended to be cash machines for the game manufacturers.  Maybe I am jaded, but I have yet to find any game that does not require regular cash infusions; believe me, I have tried to find a game that can be played without spending money, and I quit looking.

I am thoroughly embarrassed, shocked, dismayed, and disgusted by how much I have spent on games.  I lost my head some time ago, and it is past time I got myself back together again.  I turned off the last game this morning and will begin the slow addiction recovery process this morning; if I am grumpy, edgy, and bearish to be around, my apologies.  For the last couple of months, I have been overcoming sugar addictions that I think will kill me, gluten addictions that are harder than chocolate and tobacco combined, and I thought chocolate would kill me.  In the quest to lose weight and clean up my life to improve my diabetes, I am left with many questions about addictions and crutches.Question

I was speaking to a medical professional a month or two back and jokingly said:

Food for too long has been my comfort zone; I wonder what will take its place now that diabetes has ended food being the comfort blanket.”

Me and my big mouth!

For those going through addiction recovery for the more common drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc., know you are not alone.  I have been there for tobacco, now for sugar, chocolate, gluten, money, and food!  It never ceases to amaze me what humans will become addicted to, what we will use to find comfort in, what we wrap ourselves up in to find security and peace to silence the voices in our heads and a good night’s sleep.  I offer you the same hope I cling to, “We were born to succeed; we can do this!”

Wants and Needs

Robert Fulghum explained this one so well in one of his early books.  I will summarize his story but take the time to look up his story; you will laugh, HARD!  He is staffing a reception desk at a Dude Ranch Hotel on a night shift where he gets his meals included, but he has to pay for them from his salary.  The employee meals have been sauerkraut and sausages for a couple of weeks.  He is frustrated; he is mad; he wants to quit.  He reaches a boiling point.  He unloads one night on his relief an older gentleman, a WWII POW camp survivor (I think if I remember the story right).  Anyway, after listening to the rantings and ravings of a childish teenager, this older gentleman gives Mr. Fulghum a piece of advice, “you have to learn the difference between wants and needs.”

GearsI fully appreciate I struggle with this lesson.  I keep getting wants and needs confused.  Do I need a chocolate bar?  Do I want something to eat?  Do I want food?  Do I need food?  Much of my weight problem is trying to figure out wants versus needs.  Much of my mental state is wants versus needs and the confusion between what I want and what I need.  Going back to the games, do I really need a bucket of gems, or that shiny bottle of vitality?

While writing this section, the Grammarly word choices reminded me of another aspect of this conversation, words that confuse the wants versus needs selection cycle.  The English language continues to be a double-edged sword, sufficient to describe and to confuse in the same stroke.  Trying to figure out what I want and distinguishing between what I need has become clouded.  Why?  How?  I have learned that it does not matter when or where the clouding occurred, these happened, it is done; the job is to get them unclouded and get moving forward!

Goals

I do not know the original source.  I have heard several people make similar statements; I am not the initial source of the following thought.

If you have a dream, write it down.  Now you have an action item.  With that action item, give it a date you want to have it accomplished by.  Now you have a goal.  With that goal, set specific steps to achieve and milestones.  Now you have a plan.”

I would add a final thought.  Upon completion of each milestone and especially upon completion of the goal, CELEBRATE!  Celebrate failure, celebrate success.  Then the day after, hold an “After Action Review (AAR)” and review what was learned, pain points, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Start anew!  Too often, we miss the celebrations, and we forget to hold the self-reflections, and in doing so, we do not bring a goal to a close, and we do not write down lessons learned.  Failure to learn lessons means we relive those lessons.  How very tragic!Exclamation Mark

To answer the inevitable question, yes.  I have a list of goals for the coming year.  No, I will not be sharing this list publicly.  Yes, the goals are written down.  Yes, I have an end date.  Yes, I look to have the goals completed in 365-days.  Mental therapy is useless if I do not apply the lessons in my own life!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Tips for Self-Refection

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1One of the most helpful tips provided to me in improving my mental health has been to engage in self-reflection.  However, the tip did not come with any other instruction than to engage in self-reflection.  Thus, I provide the following for those who are like me who need a little more than simply being told to “self-reflect more.”  Please note, self-reflection is not complicated, does not require any special tools, and is only contingent upon starting.  The following is a practical guide to helping to spur starting!  It’s that Missouri mindset, I just cannot get away from it!

Self-reflection can be guided and unguided.  For the novice, guided self-reflection is a good place to begin to learn to self-reflect and grow into unguided self-reflection.  Some people will consider self-reflection meditation, and while I fully admit meditation and self-reflection have many similarities, they are different.  Others try to inject religious overtones into self-reflection, and I fully admit self-reflection is used in many religions across the globe to improve worship services; I am not venturing into the religious aspects of religious self-reflection.

If you would like to explore the topics of meditation and religious self-reflection, I know several good resources; don’t hesitate to get in touch with me outside this forum for those resources.

Guided Self-Reflection

Deep PoetryGuided self-reflection is as simple as journaling your thoughts on a specific topic.  Yes, it is that simple.  There is nothing complicated or crazy, no gurus, no chanting (unless you want to), simply writing down your thoughts on a single topic.  The idea is to focus your mind on sticking to a single topic and write.  I find pen and paper the most challenging medium and one that I cannot reliably, methodically, and consistently adhere to, so I use a keyboard and keep a journal in MS Word.

At the beginning of guided self-reflection, C. S. Lewis 365-Journal Topics was a book I picked up, and it helped inspire journal topics to consider.  Thus, the guided aspect of journaling, using the thoughts of others to marshal your thoughts and write them down.  Making your thoughts known is vital to better understanding you.  Please note, the blank page is intimidating; thus, novice self-reflection is enhanced with motivating forces of religious texts, quotes, jokes, memes, political feelings, news stories, etc.  All of which is fodder for getting the thoughts in your head onto paper for later review.

Unguided Self-Reflection

Free-flow writing, I unguided self-reflection and is where no longer is the blank page intimidating.  More to the point, unguided self-reflection occurs where the mind enters a period of peace or tranquility, recognized from journaling and reflects upon recent events surrounding you throughout the day, cataloging these events for later dissemination and discussion in your journal.  The advanced stage of unguided self-reflection occurs at different times and seasons for different people.  Some people go in cycles between guided and unguided self-reflection due to the chaos in their lives.  Other people move rapidly into unguided self-reflection and never return to guided self-reflection.  Some people stay in guided self-reflection; there is no right or wrong to self-reflection!

Tips to Self-Reflection

        1. Start!
        2. Find what works, and stick to it!
        3. Pick a time that works.
        4. Use what you have.
        5. Be you! – A friend keeps buying new technology, new note pads, new books, new etc., and never uses them. New isn’t them.

Be you!  Be real!  If you find yourself journaling on a paper bag with lots of doodles, keep the paper bag, and get more of them.  That is real self-reflection to you!

Some random thoughts on self-reflection.

In defense of writing with pen and paper - The WriterA friend from high school journaled (self-reflected) through their art.  Words could never come, but doodles and pictures were easy.  Each day their art was either beautiful or terrible, but always dramatic and eye-catching.  Most people learned to look at the book for the art before engaging in speech.  At the end of the assignment, the teacher freaked out trying to score the assignments for my friend; the art was expressive to the point that you could relate and feel what was felt that day.  I have never forgotten that art or its impact.

Simon Sinek wrote the book “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” self-reflection helps you to know your “why” to attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and so much more.  While I am not here to help Mr. Sinek sell more books, if you want a great resource to begin guided self-reflection, I do recommend this book.  You need to know your why.  Not knowing your why makes life more challenging, and your mind is easier to be manipulated by every wind of modern influence.  Knowing your why doesn’t necessarily make life easier, but it makes life easier to understand.  Understanding breeds compassion, empathy and allows you the freedom to make better choices.

10+ Best Sketch Drawing Ideas | Free & Premium TemplatesGeil Browning, Ph.D., in discussing reflective learning, talks about self-reflection and learning, providing counsel and essential guidance.  “Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what matters to us.”  Practicing self-reflection takes discipline and intentionality. It requires pressing pause on the chaos of life and simply taking the time to think and ponder about life and the events of daily living, which is not easy for many people to do. But it’s a precious practice.

        1. “The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
        2. “What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.” – Stephen Richards
        3. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung25 Beautiful Rose Drawings and Paintings for your inspiration
        4. “It is always our self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better.” – Ella Maillart
        5. “I visualize where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.” – Michael Jordan
        6. “The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.” – William Makepeace Thackeray
        7. “Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.” —Maxwell Maltz
        8. “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” —K.L. Toth
        9. “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” —Marcus GarveyBeauty will save, Viola, Beauty in everything
        10. “Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes.” —Lawrence Bossidy
        11. ”The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” —Michel Angelo
        12. “You cannot have a meaningful life without having self-reflection.” —Oprah Winfrey
        13. “Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success, and freedom.” —Unknown
        14. ”Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” – Baltasar Gracian
        15. “Doubt, not self-reflection, comes from a destructive energy, and when it rears its head, I talk to it like a lunatic.” —Gwyneth Paltrow
        16. “There is one art of which people should be masters – the art of reflection.” – Samuel Taylor ColeridgeArt journal spread "Who She Had Always Been"
        17. “Friendship with one’s self is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
        18. “Self-reflection entails asking yourself questions about your values, assessing your strengths and failures, thinking about your perceptions and interactions with others, and imagining where you want to take your life in the future.” – Robert L. Rosen
        19. “Emotions are there to enjoy life, but they are not used in self-reflection because they inhibit a proper reflection. They gunk us up.” – Frederick Lenz
        20. “Difficulty creates the opportunity for self-reflection and compassion.” – Suzan-Lori Parks
        21. “Self-reflection is the gateway to freedom. It also brings greater appreciation and enjoyment. We begin to enjoy spending time with our own minds, and we enjoy reflecting on our experience of the teachings. Like the sun emerging from behind the clouds.” – Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheDecoArt - Mixed Media Blog - Project - Art Journaling the ...
        22. “It is great to be introspective; self-analysis can be useful, but only if it results in action.” —Joe Sacco (emphasis mine)
        23. “Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in a while and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love you and admire you.” – Stacy London
        24. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius
        25. “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
        26. “Self-reflection is an important stage to diagnose, develop and strengthen your creativity.” —Pearl Zhu
        27. “The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.” —Sammy Davis
        28. “To realize the Self is to be still.” —Ramana Maharshi
        29. “The self is only that which it is in the process of becoming.” —Kirkegaard
        30. “Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed; the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.” —Indra Devi
        31. “Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.” – Richard Carlson
        32. “Reflection can transform something familiar.” – Diane L. DuntonReflections
        33. “We have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti
        34. “Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.” —Dr. Steve Maraboli
        35. “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“I Hate the Living!” – Our Brains are Wired to Connect

Men in Black | Movie fanart | fanart.tvThe title for today originates as a quote from the movie “Men In Black” and is an opening line from the mortician as she signs for a body from an NYPD officer.  “I hate the living;” I love this line.  My second time in fourth grade, I was forced to take a personality test.  I was told to pursue a career that did not involve interacting with other people, specifically as a mortician; a bully heard this and claimed I should be the mortician’s dummy.  I guess you could say this was the beginning of my dislike for standardized tests in general and personality tests in particular.  While I do not “specifically” hate the living, I have extensive experience in and with people in a dynamic range of environments.Bait & Switch 2

Having been on the front lines of mental health emergencies, physical emergencies, religious crises, and family issues, I have met some great and some truly horrible people.  More to the point, I have been reading an interesting book, “Social: Why our brains are wired to connect,” written by Dr. Matthew D. Lieberman.  The book has me thinking, and I would like to discuss some of the high points the book raises.

Social Pain and Physical Pain

Several years ago, I learned a lesson about the word “paradox.”  A paradox occurs when people think some things are opposites when they are much closer than they are apart.  Physical pain and social pain are a paradox, most people believe that physical pain and social pain are opposites, but science indicates that the pains are much closer in the brain than they are apart.  The author asks a question that has me thinking, “Given the fact that our brains treat social and physical pain similarly, should we as a society treat social pain differently than we do?”

Non Sequitur - DecisionsMy paternal grandfather died when my grandmother was relatively young, she was forced to raise her two children as a single parent, and several times I could not help wonder that she was sad that she did not have a companion to grow old with.  My mother-in-law spent more than 20 years alive after her long-time spouse passed.  I know for a fact she was lonely and longing for her spouse.  While my mother-in-law had family and friends, they were not a spouse, and the lack of a spouse was very difficult for her to survive.

As discussed in the Old Testament, the social connections in a married relationship make two people one, making the social pain of a spouse passing physical and mental.  Now, I have limited experience with death.  My aunt passed when I was around eight, my grandparents passed while I was deployed in the US Navy, and my family never even informed me.  I called my grandmother and got chewed out by my uncle for missing the funeral I was never told about.  Yet, I am still enthralled with the implications of the scientific discussion revolving around physical and social pain to the brain.  More the point, as a person who struggles with socially connecting, does this mean I am missing something mentally?Scared Eyes!

Thinking Socially

One of the most significant trends in recent years in business has been the rise of emotional intelligence.  Except, emotional intelligence is a misnomer, a fallacy, and a fascinating social experiment, all based on the premise that I can control someone else’s emotional response by increasing my intelligence regarding emotional connections.  Why are humans the dominant mammalian species on Earth; non-religious people claim opposable thumbs, imagination, and other unique aspects made humans dominant.  Religionists claim it was inherited from the creator as an assignment, as discussed in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament.  Dr. Lieberman proposes it was because of the unique aspect of human mammals’ ability to think and connect socially.  Believe as you choose; I am not here to dictate a single belief structure.  However, I would like to discuss the unique aspect of connecting and thinking socially.Mediocre Joke

A correlational aspect of the brain is important to note, “In many situations, the more you turn on the brain network for non-social reasoning, the more you turn off the brain network for social reasoning.”  This relationship creates a dichotomy and an antagonism between social and non-social thinking, especially apparent in problem-solving.  I can attest to this phenomenon, even though I could not describe what was occurring and being observed before reading this book.  Long have I been hailed as an incredible problem-solver but a lousy social integrator.  In emergencies, people want me around to help fix the problems, but I am not a desirable person to associate with when there are no emergencies.

Too Many Synaptic Connections in Cerebellum Creates Problems | Psychology TodayLong have I wondered what other people realized that I could not, and the answer lies in the fact that my brain is hard-wired for non-social reasoning or problem solving without the human element.  It is also why a friend of mine is always wanted around when there are no emergencies.  His brain is hard-wired towards social reasoning, and he is constantly having problems disconnecting from group-think situations.  Our brains work 180-degrees separately, which is not a bad thing, in and of itself, but not knowing how we approach problem-solving was the problem.

New Light Shed on Brain-Behavior LinkMy friend harmonizes easily with social situations, social cues, and social environments.  On the other hand, I am lousy at picking up social signals, am horrible at understanding social-emotional displays, and have never cared about the social aspect of problem-solving.  I hate funerals and weddings; I never know what to say, how to act, where to stand, how to dress, etc.  I am a full-blown social dunce!  I rely upon my spouse and others to tell me what I am expected to do, trying not to insult someone who doesn’t know me, by not being sensitive to social situations others naturally understand and adapt to.  The more I read this book and others, the more I think my experiences changed my brains wiring where socially connecting is concerned, leading to additional questions and self-reflection.

A Socially Malleable Sense of Self

Leadership CartoonDr. Lieberman makes the following point, “The self is more of a superhighway for social influence than it is an impenetrable private fortress.”  My brain is not very malleable in social situations; I have learned to recognize social cues, usually through failure and poor social experiences.  But, my sister appears to have mastered socially connecting and hiding her beliefs behind a socially acceptable mask of cheerfulness and a cherub-like demeanor.  I have no idea how she does this, for my emotional state is as recognizable on my face as a red nose on a clown.

I have often been in trouble for not being able to bend in social situations on principles to meet the demands of a crowd.  To find a balance between points of view and promote calm instead of contention.  My self is not very socially malleable; in fact, it is quite rigid, much to my chagrin and dismay!  However, I must ask, is this a bad thing?  Is being socially rigid undesirable?  Dr. Lieberman claims that social malleability promotes survival and reproduction, intensifying bonds felt while increasing our capacity to predict what is happening in the minds of those around us – which sounds very much like emotional intelligence.

Bobblehead DollLet us consider these topics on a grander and larger scale.  Is it possible for society to change how we consider social pain and award the same degree of medical attention to it as we do to physical pain relief?  One aspect of social pain relief that is not as emphasized in physical pain relief is the attitudes and choices of the pain sufferer.  For example, a broken leg is not dependent on the patient’s beliefs and behaviors to mend.  Whereas in contrast, social pain is more dependent upon the choices and behaviors of the patient.  Would this focus improve physical pain relief?

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.