Saturday, July 31, 2021

Learning to “zoom in” or “zoom out” from our thoughts and feelings

We all know the importance of justice, fairness, and equality in society. It’s a common theme in our society.

Without it, society would not work. Like everything, there’s balance. Too much of anything, including the “good stuff”, can cause expected or unexpected issues.

So, if we can represent our thoughts and feelings around “equality” and “fairness” on a piece of paper, and apply the “zoom in”, “zoom out” function to that, what can we see?

If we are super “zoomed in” onto it at the “OCD” unhealthy level, “fairness” may become more of an obsession, where we demand that “all things MUST be fair and equal”. This is going to create unhealthy stress because how can it always be. We can certainly try to create equal opportunity, but to create equal outcome, it will require ironically, some “unfair” measures.

When we “zoom out” a bit more, it becomes “Life SHOULD be fair”. At this level, it can also be a bit stressful, and may be problematic. 

“Zoom out” a little bit further and it becomes, “It would be nice if life is fair and I will do my part to make it fair. I will help those in need and who are less fortunate”.

“Zoom out” a bit more and we may find, “It is what it is”.

“Zoom out” a bit more and we may see, “Life is not fair, and I don’t care”.

The real question is, are you stuck on any of these “zoom levels”, and is it at a healthy or unhealthy level for your particular context?

If we are not aware or can’t find our “zoom function” in life, we risk a life of unhealthy stress, ongoing conflict, and failures.

So, do we need to “zoom in” more or “zoom out” more? And at what level of zoom do we think is most healthy for our particular context?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

It’s important to pause and observe our mind at times to get clarity before action

Our mind is a wonderful tool. 

It can take in data, store data, create new data, fill missing gaps in our data, enable pop up data, perform predictive analytics, and many more other things. Like the internet, it’s super useful but there is a big price to pay.  In there, hides a lot of inaccurate or outdated information.

Learning to pause, defuse, and be present enough to observe our thoughts and feelings in our mind, is a very important skill to cultivate.

It allows that space before action, to ask ourselves and our trusted others.

Is this outdated news, made up news, or useful news?

Then, we let that guide us.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Emotional literacy is crucial and deserves our attention in the same way as numeracy and literacy

I often think.....

If we don’t wait until people are illiterate before we teach literacy, AND

If we don’t wait until people are broke before we teach numeracy and financial literacy, THEN

Why do we wait until people have a mental breakdown before we teach emotional literacy?

Things need to change in order to prevent more mental health burden for our society perhaps. 

Emotional literacy is crucial and deserves much more of our attention don’t you think?

Sunday, July 4, 2021

A metaphor to help us observe our thoughts and feelings for better processing and clarity

If we represent our thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper or iPad, and really “zoom in” and focus on that with a level “obsession” or “passion”, then that can be a double edge sword. 

A good outcome or not, will depend on the quality of those thoughts and feelings.

So it’s really important to “zoom out” to observe those thoughts and feelings, and ask .....

Is this old news, fake news, or useful news, and let that guide us. If it’s old, fake, or unhelpful news, we may choose to ignore it. If it’s useful news, “zoom in” and take assertive actions.

Your “piece of paper” or “iPad” with your thoughts and feelings, is like the internet. It’s undeniable that it’s a wonderful tool, but one needs the space to differentiate the good quality information from the bad ones.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Zoom out on the things that we can’t change or don’t matter, and zoom in on the things that does matter

If we represent thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper and really “zoom in” on it, AND this is all we can focus on, this may represent obsessiveness or passion, dependent on the content of those thoughts and feelings. It may even lead to obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) if it becomes very dysfunctional. 

If we “zoom out” a little bit more, it becomes more like “I want to act on this, but I am not too obsessed with it.”

Out a little more, and it’s more like “I just want to observe this.”

Out a little bit more, and it’s “Meh. I don’t really care too much”.

Out a little bit more, and it’s a bit detached or “dissociative”.

Some folks are stuck in the “zoom in” mode, and suffer with stress, drama, and OCD features.

Some folks are stuck in the “zoom out” mode, and suffer from a bit of detachment, dissociation, lack of empathy or passion.

Some folks can do both well but just in the wrong way. They “zoom out” too much on the things that matter, and “zoom in” too much on the things that don’t quite matter.

Learning how to “zoom out” and “zoom in” is a critical life skill.

It’s simple. “Zoom in” on the things that matter. “Zoom out” on the things that we cannot change or don’t matter. 

Simple is not easy though, but we can certainly try.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Focusing at the “root level” to get the most leverage for change in counseling

In counseling, when we try to change our “unhelpful” thoughts and behaviors, we are trying to change it at the “leaves” level to get to the roots. 

When we try to change our feelings, we are trying to change it at a “trunk” level to get to the roots.

When we try to change our values and beliefs, we are trying to change things at the “root” level itself.

Changing things that are above the surface is easier and more practical, but may have less “deeper impact”.

Changing things below the surface is much harder because often we can’t see it, but much stronger in impact if we can achieve that. It’s leveraging.

Imagine if we can change the belief in ourselves and the people we look after from, “I am not good enough” to “I am not perfect, I accept me for me, and I commit to growth and learning”, then what would the world look like.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

How to frame our emotional reaction and thinking for more empowerment

When we have an uncomfortable feeling as a reaction to an external event, let’s say someone did something that affects us, we can frame it in two ways.
1. They made us feel this way.


2. We feel this way because of a particular value or belief that we hold deeply or tightly. So we can ask ourselves, “What is the belief that we have that made us feel or react in this way?” Once we have clarity around that, we have the opportunity to change that to influence how we feel and react.

Both are correct. However, one is more empowering than the other.

In counseling, we may try to shift the first way of thinking, into the second way of thinking for more empowerment.

Common beliefs that tend to be “triggering” for people are..

I am not good enough.
Things should be fair.
Things should be done properly or not at all.
People should be nice and sensitive.
People should be competent.
People don’t value me.
My child is so naughty. 
My child is uncontrollable 
People are dishonest.
People are bad.
People don’t have common sense.
Bad things ALWAYs happen to me.
The world is against me.
If someone does something wrong, they must be punished.
If I do something wrong, I must be punished too.
I am weird.
No nobody likes me.
There’s something wrong with me.
Everyone leaves me in the end.
You can’t trust people.
I am significant when I achieve.
I am insignificant if I fail.

And so on......

We also appreciate that beliefs are neither “right or wrong”. Is it helpful or not, or is it adaptable or not to our life and context, are probably better questions.

Furthermore, if one can change the external event, change it. It’s when we can’t change the external, then the internal is an option.

For example... We can’t make the world fair, so having the belief of “life should be fair” is going to create ongoing excessive stress for us and our families.

Changing to the belief of “It would be nice if life is fair”, will help us accept that to some extent, and at the same time, we still thrive for fairness.

An alternative to “changing our beliefs” is to defuse and unhook from that belief, in differing contexts.  To hold it more lightly at times so to speak.