Saturday, April 08, 2006

Is This Working

Dr. Phil regularly asks a really good question: Is this working for you?

We often get into patterns of thinking and acting/reacting without ever stopping to ask ourselves that question. It’s the same thing that I’ve often posted here—that it’s the assumptions we never think to question that trip us up.

Now I don’t always like how Dr. Phil handles things. I think sometimes his advice can be a bit simplistic. But I do think he’s right on the money with this question.

In particular, I believe the question—Is this working for you?—is much more useful than asking—Is this true?—or even—Am I right?

Bottom line: What’s the most useful thing for you to focus on? What are the most useful actions for you to take? What’s the best place to put your energy?

Is anger useful? Yes, if it is SHORT TERM and gets us to set limits and boundaries or to take action. No, if it consumes our energy and we find ourselves stuck in that emotion rather than putting our energy into making changes and moving forward.

It’s important to let go of the anger as soon as we are taking action, otherwise it will do more harm to us than good. It’s especially important to let go of anger if we need to negotiate with that person. What strategy is most powerful? Ironically, the most powerful strategy is to try to understand the other person’s bottom line and negotiate in a way that let’s our own bottom line get met and at the same time come as close as possible to meeting the other person’s bottom line as well. If we do that, we will work out an agreement that will be kept. If we negotiate with anger, then the other person is likely to keep fighting us even when it’s against their best interests as well as ours. On the other hand, if we let go of the anger—no matter how justified!—then the odds of us getting what we want are much higher.

Is shame or self-hate useful? Never! I have seen more harm done because someone felt ashamed or hated him/herself than from any other cause. What works better? To commit to living lives that are honorable and ethical and loving and compassionate and responsible—no matter what has happened in the past.

Are fear and constant worry useful? It can be useful to CALMLY consider possible obstacles or problems that might crop up and CALMLY come up with solutions. If we are calm, our brains will actually function better and we can find solutions that will work that we won’t think of if we’re panicking. In other words, the most USEFUL strategy is to assume things will work out and that no matter what happens we will be able to handle it. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it is more likely to become true if we believe it.

With any situation in our lives that is upsetting us, one of the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves is whether or not what we are doing and how we are acting or reacting is working. And if what we are doing and how we are acting or reacting is not working, it’s useful to ask ourselves what else we could try and how else we could look at the situation.

Wishing for all of us powerful new ways to look at our lives—this week and every week. Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


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