According to Wikipedia, Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) in the field of computer science refers to the fact that computers, since they operate by logical processes, will unquestioningly process unintended, even nonsensical, input data (“garbage in”) and produce undesired, often nonsensical, output (“garbage out”).
I have co-opted GIGO to mean that, if you feed your mind garbage, then your mind will produce undesirable thoughts. Since the Law of Attraction dictates, “You get more of what you focus on,” then feeding your mind garbage results in a garbage-filled life.
Be Careful What You Feed Your Mind
If you want to know the biggest Influencer in your life, the answer would be, “Your mind.” Your mind is with you 24/7 and influences every aspect of how you experience life. When you sleep it influences your dreams.
Western society spends an unreasonable amount of time obsessing about what we eat. Is it too much or too little? Is it good for me or bad for me? One of the fastest ways to make a lot of money is to create a book or video or class that promises a beautiful body while you eat whatever you want.
What we don’t pay nearly enough attention to is what we feed our minds. Oh, we have lots of opinions about what children should be feeding their minds. We know that small, impressionable minds shouldn’t be exposed to violent films or TV shows. We are horrified when parents of teens allow them to play violent video games.
All of the above falls under the category of what our parents said to us that we hated: do as I say, not as I do.
This Really Matters
I am in recovery from a major depression that lasted for 30 years. I can tell you without equivocation that what you feed your mind makes a huge difference in the quality of your life. Since your mind is your constant Influencer, it is imperative that you give it material that will help rather than hurt you. Paying attention to what I focused on was the beginning of my recovery from depression.
Your Mind Doesn’t Know the Difference Between Pretend & Reality
I will never forget the day this was driven home to me with a 2X4 (metaphorically, not literally—a 2X4 would hurt!). I was in a really foul mood. A foul mood is so much worse than a bad mood. It is—well—FOUL. Since I had begun to really pay attention to cause-and-effect in my life, I was confused. I couldn’t pinpoint any reason for feeling so dark. There was nothing going on at the time that would explain it.
And then it hit me! While on the elliptical trainer at the gym I had been listening to books on tape. At the time I was listening to a James Patterson novel. I can’t recall the title but I DO recall it had a lot of graphic violence. Since my brain (like yours) doesn’t know the difference between pretend and reality, at some level my mind thought it was happening to me. The foul mood was the reptilian part of my brain signaling me that I was in imminent danger.
Since that day I am careful about what “entertainment” I choose. Friends who don’t necessarily subscribe to my opinion on this but honor my choices will call and say, “Don’t go see this movie, you will hate it.” I walk out of movies that make me uncomfortable (and ask for a refund) and have been known to throw a book or two across the room when the ending was far from happy. There are authors I will never read again, even though (or maybe because) they are great writers.
Nutritious Food for the Mind
We live in a wonderful time when information is as close as our computers. There are numerous websites, videos, blogs, podcasts and online articles that can inspire and uplift. There are books, movies and TV shows that can do the same. The more we feed our minds a nutritious diet, the less stressed we will be and the more we attract what we want.
In the work we do (paid or not), why not focus on the positive aspects of what we’re doing? What if we celebrated each step of progress? What if we allowed ourselves to feel the thrill of a job well done? Imagine the quality of your life if your mind, your biggest influencer, was consistently applauding your efforts.
Question: Are you careful about the diet you are feeding your mind? Do you remember a time when you realized your mind was being negatively influenced? What prompted you to start paying attention to this? I am gathering these kinds of stories and would love to hear about your experience.
For private coaching, or information on having Silver work with your company on employee engagement, call 877-840-5416 or email: Info@SilverSpeaks.com
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am in recovery from 30 years of clinical depression. Much of what I learned about keeping depression at bay is what I bring to my teaching whether the topic is Passionate Self-Care or Dancing With Change.
A few years back I learned something new that has helped me immeasurably in my quest to stay balanced. It happened one day when I was in a foul mood. If you’ve ever been in this type of mood, you know it’s very different from a regular old bad mood—it’s like a bad mood on steroids—angry and ugly. I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. Nothing was going particularly wrong in my life. In fact, things were quite good. And then it dawned on me. For entertainment I had been listening to the latest James Patterson book on tape.
James Patterson is an incredible writer. He’s so good, in fact that all of the violent ugliness that took place in this book was all too real. It felt as if I were a part of it and my brain reacted by releasing all the appropriate stress hormones that hit your system when you’re involved in or witness to violence. I was in fight or flight mode and it was awful.
This was the day I realized that a good deal of my depression was self-inflicted. The Law of Attraction says that you get more of what you focus on. Choosing where to place your focus in essential to Passionate Self-Care. We all know that, don’t we? And yet most of us don’t practice it. Take the news, for example. We think that following it keeps us well informed when in fact the news is simply someone else’s opinion about what happened. It’s not “the truth” and it’s designed to whip us into an emotional frenzy. In fact, most of the news is none of our business.
We think violent movies, TV shows or games don’t hurt us but they do. If they’re any good, they make you feel as if you are right there. That’s great if you’re part of the dance sequence in Footloose but if you’re watching a movie where someone is being subjected to a horrific act it affects you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. And once you get those images into your brain, they are there forever. Ask anyone who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as I have and we will tell you—forever as in those images never go away. If that’s true, why not implant images that make you smile instead of grimace?
If you are truly serious about taking better care of yourself then being careful about what you feed your mind is a key component. Watch movies and read books with happy endings or ones that are at least neutral. Look for the good in others instead of the bad (including yourself). Listen to happy music. If the paper’s lying around, read the comics or the Opinion Page but throw the front page into the garbage where it belongs.
When we do this are we denying the reality of how the world really is? I say no. What we are rejecting is the idea that life is mostly awful. We are saying to those who present it as such, “I’m no longer willing to listen to you.” When I was in the midst of my worst depression my world was awful and most of it was self-created. I watched maudlin movies, I read horrific books, I engaged in constant complaints disguised as intellectual discussions. My focus was on the travails of life and that’s precisely what I attracted.
Life is no different today but I am. Do I still have challenges? You bet I do. My life partner Bill has pancreatic cancer and it is terrifying. What’s different is that I’m not making it worse by feeding my mind a load of self-pity or engaging in conversations about how unfair life is. Do I talk about my fears to Bill and to dear friends? Yes, I do. But mostly I choose to focus on the incredible love we share and the fact that he’s here with me now.
The only real control any of us have has to do with what we feed our minds. Use this gift wisely and watch how wonderful life can be.
I am with Bill on a business trip to Southern California, spending the day working in the hotel while he attends a Board meeting. I didn’t want to be in the room all day so I’m sitting in the coffee shop working away (bonus: tea on demand!)
Anyhow, I am in search of the ladies room when I encounter a small group of people standing at the hostess stand waiting to be seated. The hostess is nowhere in sight. I overhear one say, “We’ll just seat ourselves.” I hesitate for a second and very nearly turn around to go in search of the hostess. Then I have to stop myself from offering them my advice on what they should do.
What is that? Why do I think I have to fix any problem I encounter, even when it has nothing to do with me?
Do you suffer from this? Could it be one of the reasons we are desperate to find ways to take better care of ourselves? It’s one thing to give of yourself to people you love or you’re paid to care for but if you think the whole world is your responsibility, life becomes exhausting.
A key to Passionate Self Care is (said gently) mind your own business. I want this to be a gentle admonition because I KNOW that you don’t do it to be a busy body or what we used to, as kids, call a “buttinski.” You likely do it because you are so service-oriented that you want to serve the world. But, when I examine my own motives, I notice that there’s a good deal of ego in there. I have to admit that there’s a part of me that secretly believes I know best and that, if everyone just followed my good advice their lives would work much better.
Sometimes, when I indulge my buttinski people seem stunned, as well they should.
This happens when they don’t even know me and I suddenly insert myself into their lives by offering some unsolicited solution. The most useful pearl of wisdom I ever heard about this came from my friend Esther Hicks who says, “An answer to a question no one asked is a wasted answer.” It’s wasted because whomever you’re advising is not listening. Mostly they wish you’d just stop talking and let them get back to solving their own problem.
Imagine; just imagine how much extra time you’d have to take care of yourself if you simply minded your own business. And I don’t mean only with strangers. If you’re like me, you’re spending way too much time solving the problems of your mate, your children, and your second cousin’s stepson’s daughter. We have a tendency to think we should insert ourselves into our family’s problems but take it from me they don’t like it any more than strangers do. They only put up with it because it’s easier than fighting. They say, “OK,” or “Yes, dear,” hoping you’ll just stop.
You might protest, “But what if they do it wrong?” They will! So what? I’m guessing that the most powerful lessons you’ve ever learned came from painful mistakes. Why deprive them of this same learning?
If that’s not enough to inspire you to MYOB let me add one last insight. I try REALLY hard not to answer the question when my kids ask, “What should I do?” Because if they follow my advice and it doesn’t work, who do you think they’ll blame? Instead I try to remember to say, “You’ll figure it out, honey.” I’m there to help if they fall but preventing the fall? Once they’re past childhood, that’s not my job.
MYOB—try it. Your friends and family will send prayers of thanks to the heavens and you’ll have more time for you.
Rituals are keys to Passionate Self Care. Let me give you an example, I feel wonderful when I take the time to perform the ritual of developing my action plan. I call it a ritual because it has a set pattern of components: (1) reviewing my in box, my list of action items and my emails; (2) deciding which I need or want to tackle today; (3) writing my plan; and (4) deciding which to do first.
After years of trying to find the right “formula” for this ritual, I stumbled on a relatively inexpensive online test for the Kolbe “A” Index (www.Kolbe.com). The Kolbe analyzes your natural work style. After reviewing my results, I came to understand that if I develop my plan at the beginning of the work day, I get bogged down in details and it kills my enthusiasm. Instead, I develop my plan the night before so I can dive into action the moment I start work. It’s amazing what a difference one adjustment to a ritual can make.
How many grouchy or distracted people have you heard say, “I’ll be okay after my first cup of coffee”? Admittedly, the caffeine helps but the ritual of coffee is every bit as much of an energy boost. It’s usually the skipping of the ritual that has thrown them off, not the lack of caffeine.
There are rituals we depend on and rituals we’d like to develop. To exercise Passionate Self Care in your life look for rituals you want to start incorporating until they become routine. Some of the best places to look for opportunities for ritual development are in the areas around which you feel guilty. A few of mine are:
Can you see the opportunities for rituals?
There are also rituals we love. We don’t feel guilty if we don’t do them but we feel SO MUCH BETTER when we do:
Rituals give life a certain continuity, which most of us crave. They make us feel more grounded. That’s why you see professional athletes who perform the same ritual every time they begin the game. Maybe it’s superstition, or maybe they know it works.
In a world where change is constant, rituals are a way for us to feel as if we are in control.
Rituals are very comforting and the more comfortable we are, the more we attract things that are a match to that feeling. I’ve noticed, for example, that when I take the time to perform the ritual of putting together my action plan, my work goes very smoothly. It can be no other way because I’m feeling good and in control. Events and circumstances that match those feelings are the only ones I will attract. That is how the Law of Attraction works: you get more of what you focus on.
So what rituals would you like to put into place in your life? What will make you more comfortable each day and give you more of a feeling of being in control? Start today, as soon as you finish reading this.
One of the biggest steps toward Passionate Self Care: Develop rituals that make you feel good, and practice them every day.
Because the Law of Attraction says, “You get more of what you focus on,” a critically important component of Passionate Self Care is focus. If you want to train yourself to recognize where your focus is, start by listening to conversations around you. What is the focus of each? Now look at the people holding those conversations. Are they a match to what they’re focused on?
Never is this so clear as when you listen to the elderly. Those who are having lengthy conversations about their aches and pains and pills and surgeries are the ones who are in the worst shape.
The ones who are talking about their gardens, pets, hobbies or grandchildren are vibrant and healthy. They may have aches and pains but they don’t dwell on them. Because of that, their aches and pains are manageable.
Sullen teens are obsessed with how unfair life is and how ridiculous adults and their rules are. Well-adjusted teens are focused on sports, music, school, or sharing cool new trends with each other.
What are you and your friends focused on? Start listening to your words – those that come out of your mouth or those you type into email messages and texts. Will the recipient of your words be happy to hear from you or inwardly groan?
We all agree that we don’t like to be around negative people but many of us who express that sentiment ARE the negative ones people don’t like to be around. And we don’t even know it. How can that be? How is it that we can be primarily focused on the negative and unaware of it? It’s because it’s become a socially accepted habit.
The news media consistently focuses on the worst events. When we broadcast our own personal news, we seem somehow embarrassed to share what’s going well in our lives. Doctors are trained to look for what’s wrong versus ways for us to stay healthy. Managers, until recently, have been trained to focus on employees’ weaknesses instead of their strengths.
There’s a new trend in management I would like you to steal for your Passionate Self Care. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. An example of how it’s being applied will help clarify what it is:
The traditional style of conducting an employee’s performance review consists of 10-15 minutes focus on what an employee does well (employees refer to this as “buttering us up for the kill”), with the balance of the meeting focused on everything the employee needs to improve. In other words, the manager mainly focuses on what’s NOT working versus what IS.
A manager who practices Appreciative Inquiry would flip the time. She would spend 10-15 minutes focused on what an employee needs to improve and the rest of the meeting on everything the employee does well and how to leverage those skills. This manager focuses on what IS working instead of what’s NOT.
When I talk about this in my workshops, people get very excited, “Yes, that’s what my supervisor needs to do.” They stop in their tracks when I tell them it works both ways. “What do you mean?” they ask.
If you want your supervisor to focus on what you’re doing well, you must also focus on what you are doing well. You can’t expect to attract a supervisor (or a mate, friend, or child for that matter) who focuses on your good qualities if you are continually focused on your failings. Remember, you get what you focus on. That includes getting people in your life who agree with your self-assessment.
Appreciative Inquiry is the daily practice of looking for what you like about a person, place or thing (and that includes you). As you begin to focus on what you appreciate, you’ll begin to attract more of that into your life.
Appreciation is a feeling that can only attract good things to you. As you begin this practice of appreciating your friends, your community, your house, your children, your health, your family, and on and on and on, you will begin to feel more energetic and more vibrant. The Law of Attraction says it can be no other way.
I can’t think of anything more important to Passionate Self Care than using Appreciative Inquiry in all that you do. Try it. You’ll see.