Archives for May 2016

The Toddler Approach

Have you ever been upset with how your mind behaves? More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve found myself upset with how the mind keeps sending me disturbing messages; messages that, though untrue, tend to wreak havoc on the emotions.
Rather than being upset with the mind, why not treat it as you would a toddler? How upset would you be with a toddler for knocking over a picture frame? Isn’t that what toddlers are supposed to do? How helpful would getting upset at a toddler be anyway?
Perhaps a more effective way to work with a “tantrumming mind” is to send it words of understanding and support–something you might say to to a toddler in a moment of distress: There, there…I can sense you are struggling right now. I understand that you are doing the best you can and I’m willing to be patient with you.
Practicing the understanding that, like a toddler, the “thinking part” of the brain is relatively new to the task of navigating the external world, may help you feel better about having to deal with the disturbing messages the mind sends you from time to time. It might even help you to feel compassionate toward the mind, and toward yourself for living a human life.
Written by Tony Madril, LCSW, BCD

Expanding the Focus

It is easy to become angry about a situation when we believe are needs aren’t being met. It is easy to see someone as our “enemy” when they have communicated something we don’t want to hear.

What is hard to do is to pause and consider the many ways in which our “big problem” is actually a cumulation of many smaller events that have occurred over a period of time, outside of our awareness. The father who is abusive was once abused by his father, and he by his. The boss who makes an unpopular decision is only following through with the demands of his boss who, in turn, adheres to the whims of a demanding organization.

Expanding the focus beyond a single person or event can ease our emotional distress by helping us see the trajectory of causation. Perhaps we can be more compassionate toward others if we realize that they are not solely to blame; that they too are subject to the movements of forces much bigger than themselves and, like us, are powerless over most everything in life.

Written by Tony Madril