Friday, May 3, 2013

Positive thinking

Positive Thinking

My former Psychosynthesis tutor Margo Russell often reminded us that Psychosynthesis is a humanistic and positive psychology, with focus on the healthy and strong in man. She emphasized the importance of developing “bifocal vision”: the ability to see the “outer shell” of a person and to see “behind” as well, the ability to see the inner, the human, the potential, even when the “outer shell” has negative and destructive traits.

This can be regarded as a form of positive thinking, wanting to see the good in everyone.

But, she also all the time warned us against becoming naïve, against ending up on a downhill slope of positive thinking where, as she expressed it, ”positive thinking becomes positive stinking”.

This can be interpreted as a warning against adhering so singlemindedly to positive thinking that the negative becomes “forbidden”, and thereby gets suppressed from the conscious mind. People ending up here risk getting into trouble due to their naïveté, and in the roles of therapist, medical doctor, or other roles where they are to help others, they can even cause damage.

Language is image-making

With this said, I still want to promote a certain kind of positive thinking, and that is when one wants to influence oneself or others, when one wants to motivate oneself or others, in an efficient way.

In order to explain why positive expressions are more efficient than using negative expressions, I will start with philosophizing about the function of language, illustrating this with the following picture:
(Click on the figure for larger image.)

The function of language is to produce an inner image (Symbol 4) inside the head of the person listening. This image is the result of an interpretation of what you have said (Symbol 3). The words that you pronounce are symbols (Symbol 2) for your inner image of what you are describing (Symbol 1), which in turn is a result of how you perceive reality.

The whole communication chain is thus

Reality -> S1 -> S2 -> S3 -> S4

And one can say that language distances itself from reality four times over, which might explain why communication is so difficult, and why misunderstandings are so common…

Inner images influence

So, if you want to influence somebody in doing something, or if you want to motivate someone for something, you should according to this model try to create a positive image in the head of the person, an image that makes the person feels attracted to and feels inclined to act on.

It is here that positive thinking, and a positive language, comes in. If you formulate a sentence containing negations, like not, never, hardly, etc, inevitably  an inner image of what you do not want to happen will be created. This image will not feel good, and a subconscious resistance may develop, like “selective deafness” (common among teenagers), suppression or some other type.

Reflect on the sentence “The dog does not chase the cat.” The inner image that came up in your head was most probably a dog chasing a cat, and then you had to thinkand that is not so…”. The brain is not capable to create an image of the word not.

Use positive terms only

So, if you want to become skilled in influencing and motivating, train yourself to use positive terms only. Say what you want to happen, or how you want something to be done, or how you want your child to behave.

When you do this, positive and motivating images will be created in the head of the one listening.

We have the bad habit of using the word NOT.

Most of us have though the bad habit (= an automatic, learnt, and subconscious behavior) of using negations. If you are the parent of young children, it may be an enlightening “measurement” to count the number of NOTs you use during an hour together with the child…

Even if you mentally know that you are a victim of this negative habit, the only efficient way of changing it, so that you instead automatically use positive expressions, is to train in a persistent and conscious way.

Test this! You will discover how surprisingly hard it is, but I hope that you also discover how much better you can become in influencing and motivating!

If you want to work even more with efficient communication, test PsychosynthesisForums e-course BasicCommunication, and become a skilled communicator!

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Monday, April 29, 2013

The Life Wheel

Periods of crisis occur i everyone's life

To live is both to meet what we need and to meet resistance. Both of these make us grow. Sometimes what is resisting us can feel so heavy, that we end up in a personal crisis. If one takes this crisis seriously, one grows.

Most of us meet these periods of resistance in all phases of our lives. Whether we call these periods crisis or not depends on our attitude, but the characteristics of these periods often follow a general pattern, that can be illustrated by the following picture:

The text inside the brackets describe the risks there are for serious consequences in connection within the different crisis periods. These risks are larger, the less one takes the crisis seriously, or the less oneself or people around understand it. The risks can although be completely eliminated with good self-knowledge and/or with help of personal support, coaching or therapy.

The LifeWheel as illustrated here, contrasts with the old tradition of western countries often called The Ages of Man, which implies that life after 40 is "downhill". I rather adhere to another, and in fact an older tradition, the Ayurvedic, that describes Ages of Man in a much nicer (and today, with higher health levels, more realistic) way:

  0 - 12   Childhood
13 - 19   Adolescence
20 - 39
   Young Adult
40 - 59
   Younger Middle Age
60 - 89
   Middle Age
90 -
       Old Age

Different types of crisis require different therapy forms

In this blog there is a focus on Psychosynthesis. This does not mean that Psycho-synthesis is better or more superior other coaching and therapy forms. Referring to the "Life Wheel" above, different therapy forms are differently well suited for the task, depending on where in life one is and which type of crisis one has come into. The following picture illustrates this:

I work in all of these levels, with some of the therapy forms shown in the picture: counseling, personal support, Transactional Analysis, Reality Therapy, Gestalt Therapy and Humanistic Psychology, and of course, Psychosynthesis. I also work with cognitive methods, NLP and Cognitive Script Therapy (CST). Other, not traditionally therapeutic, methods are also used, like meditation, affirmation, prayer.

One method from Psychosynthesis that specifically can be mentioned is visualization. A number of generalized Psychosynthesis Visualizations are gathered in this site, and you can  purchase and download them.If you are a Newsletter Subsciber you can also listen to them for free on-line.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Personal versus spiritual development

Welcome to my (and PsychosynthesisForum's) blog. I am a real beginner in the area of social media, hopelessly behind my four kids... (which are 13 to 33 years old). This is my first "real" blog post, after two posts that are more general information about PsychosynthesisForum's products.

I hope that this blog will become a useful forum for discussions around interesting questions about personal and spiritual development, a forum where I in a more active way can meet my internet customers. My other "customers", my coaching and therapy clients, I already meet in an active way.

Regarding spiritual development, I do not mean just religious. I see spiritual development as everything that touches on existencial issues like a deeper sense of personal identity, the sense of meaningfulness, important life goals, etc.

Note that I wrote personal and spiritual development, not or. My experience is that these two go hand in hand, and I often use the following picture to illustrate how I mean that personal and spiritual development are connected:
As the engineer I am from  the beginning, I love graphs... The axises denote age, and the horizontal axis stands for personal development, the vertical stands for spiritual development. The picture shows three typical development paths, and the dashed lines stand for "normal" occurrences of crisis.

The lower curve represents a typical development path of a person in the industrialized countries, where there is a strong focus on personal and professional development. This path ususlly feels OK, up to the point where the person starts to feel "I am no longer coming nearer my life goal" (=the sun in the picture, that stands for our deepest life goal). Or the feeling does not come expressed in words, but more as a sense of meaninglessness, spleen, depression, etc. This is sometimes experienced as periods of crisis. These typically come every tenth year after the age of 30. When they happen, some "press harder on the accelerator", investing more energy, but on "more of the same", as change of job, new car or new partner... Which usually leads to an even larger sense of meaninglessness. Others, on the other hand, "listen" to their crisis, and activate their spiritual development (the curve bends upwards), and a sense of meaningfulness starts to re-emerge.

The upper curve represents those that early in life identify with the spiritual realm. This usually also feels good, up to the point in mid-life when a paradoxical feeling of meaninglessness starts to emerge also for persons in this cathegory, with similar words - "despite the fact that this path should have led me to my deepest goal, it doesn't." And furthermore, life does not work well on a practical level, like income, a home, work, etc. If this person now persists with "more of the same" it often leads to a sense of resignation, cynism, depression, etc. But, if this person takes his or her crisis seriously, and takes hold of his or her personal and professional development, new possibilities will open.

And the curve in the middle may stand for most of us, where it goes up and down, back and forth...

The morale of this description is that both personal and spiritual development are necessary in order to become a whole person, one that is able to embrace both Doing and Being, that is able to express both one's masculine and one's feminine side, that is able to unite Jin and Jang.

How has this been expressed in your life?

In mine it is so that I was a quantum physisist and development engineer up to the age of 40, and then a 90 degree turn into becoming psychotherapist in the area of transpersonal psychology...

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Friday, April 19, 2013

New E-course: MY MISSION

The e-course MY MISSION
New e-course: MY MISSION.

An e-course in Self-actualization. You will be led through a very structured process in ten steps, towards becoming more and more aware of what your Self - Your Higher Me - wants for you and for your life.

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