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Something bad happened. What now?

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 When something bad happens, people generally fall into two camps. One camp says: "This bad thing happened. We need an investigation and we need apologies. We need restitution. We need justice." These are all good things but they are mostly attempts to solve a problem that is in the past. This is what grief does. It makes us look back and value what has been lost. They build a lighthouse so others will know where the dangers are. As we heal from grief, we ask different questions. What's next? This is the response of the second camp. That happened and it's horrible. But now what? What do we want next? They know that a lighthouse isn't enough. You also need a better boat if you want people to travel safely. The second camp is the NLP ( neurolinguistic programming ) camp. It believes that the best way forward is to make a mental model of a desirable future. It's not enough to know what you wish had never happened. You have to know what you want to rise from the a

Agree to Disagree if you want to get better

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 I suspect that much of what gets written about disagreement gets dismissed as soon as it is read. It's not that readers actively disagree. It's more that their brains feel safer with agreement and so they find ways to resist the suggestion that active difference is essential to getting better. If you always do what you've always done, you won't always get what you've always got. The world will change around you and failure to evolve means failure to thrive. You need difference not just to grow, but to maintain. This is one of the rare instances where a pattern is more evident to our conscious minds than it is to the brains which set up our attitudes and behaviours. There is no easy answer. The best advice is: Listen more than you talk. Sit with other ideas before you respond to them (easier said than done). Make ideas feel safer (to you or to others) by focusing first on common ground than new ground, over and over again. Look for models of disagreement that works.

Know Your Own Brain

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 What have you given up on before you even started? There are so many things we try a little and then stop because the learning curve seems too steep. We can't do everything, and so we stop doing something that might take too much effort or too much time to understand. Fair enough? It's not fair enough when it comes to understanding how you are making choices. You might know your own mind but that mind is shaped by your brain. If you don't know anything about your brain, it's hard to know when to trust your thinking and when to challenge it. Allow me to introduce you to Lisa Feldman Barrett.  She's one of my favourite sources of news about how the brain/body system works. When you read 7 1/2 Short Lessons About the Brain  you'll understand how  how many things you "know" about your brain that are just plain wrong. And you'll see how having better information connects to knowing yourself better and making better choices. This is a short, easy read b

Listen Better to The Voice in Your Head

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 How is that key relationship going for you: the relationship with the voice in your head? How often do you fight with that voice, or sneer at it, or walk away from it discouraged? If you were to describe a relationship with another person the way you describe your feelings about the voice in your head, how would that sound? There is no divorcing the voice in your head; you cannot silence it and you cannot make it respect your boundaries. This is the relationship that you can negotiate but not ditch. Here are three things to consider the next time the voice in your head does not seem like a good friend: The voice in the head is always on your side. It's not always tactful or friendly or upbeat, but it is on your side. You made it. You can meet the complaints and criticisms and fears with compassion. We are all in palliative care: we are all scared of running out of time or health or hope. If you were visiting someone who sounded like the voice in your head, you could dig in and fin

Where to find a unicorn in a pandemic

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Have you been feeling the need for a unicorn lately? A mythical creature of healing and hope that magically appears to right wrongs and detoxify with a touch of its horn? I wonder if you would recognize a unicorn when it appeared.  You might say, "it's just a horse, or a trick, or I saw it wrong." Four days a week, I meet with two 5-year old friends and we make crafts and tell stories by Zoom. It takes about ten hours a week to do the Zooms and prepare stories and crafts, and most of those hours come out of the middle of my day.  We sometimes call the middle of something the heart.  At the heart of my days is a five year old giggling.  In that moment, all is well. That's a unicorn. If you need a unicorn, be one.  The girls' moms think I am giving them the most amazing gift by showing up for their kids in the middle of the day (and letting their moms get one work call in without an interruption). They think that I am the unicorn. But I know that in the middle of my

Keep hitting 'reset'

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 If you're like me, you're frustrated. There's too much work and too little laughter in your days. There are never enough hugs. Times are tough, and you suspect they will stay that way for the foreseeable future. So what will you do? I know. Hibernation is a great idea, but it doesn't work for human beings. Pretending you're fine works for a while, but eventually even you realize that faking it isn't helping you make it. And you've tried wallowing, but it's not really you. So hit the reset button. That's frustrating, too. I know. For one thing, often the reset button is actually a hole into which you have to insert a push pin or paper clip. And then you have to wait. And isn't that just so very 2020? Photo by    Linus Strandholm   on   Scopio And yet, over and over again, you'll hit a moment when you are sad or angry or distracted. And the right answer is to push reset. Don't try to get better yet. Try to get back to neutral. Get up and m

3 Ways to Improve Your Mindset as COVID Winter Approaches

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  Fall is a little magical. We notice the light, and forget a little that it is easier to see the sky because there are fewer leaves every day. At the end of this lovely path is winter. In Canada, even bright winter days are short. Overall, the winter is dark and often damp and sometimes very cold. Patios are less attractive after Christmas and even walking is harder in wind and ice. So we all know what is coming, and we know that COVID will make it worse. What we need to know is what will make the coming season better? Stretching a little now will set you up for more of what you need in the months to come. Here are three practices to get you started: You might not have run an actual marathon, but you have had projects and experiences that seemed like marathons. These are your foundation: the evidence that you CAN keep going and the models of strategies that work for you. Lean into them. Be curious about how you managed to stay focused and keep moving. How does that help now? People yo