Do you like being told what to do?

Do you like being told what to do?

I’d say a few people do. What makes this ironic is that our world suffers from a habit of finger pointing and lecturing.  Can you imagine the benefits of reducing our collective irritation that stems from the blame game and scapegoating?  I can, and what I see is happier people, a healthier planet, and space for more love to fill our lives.

Are you often confused about how to express yourself? Do you react to something that happens while you’re driving, or to something a family member or friend says, in ways, you don’t want to? One of the greatest challenges facing humans is our resistance to taking responsibility for our actions and blaming others for our problems.

We can dramatically reduce this burden by improving our emotional intelligence, and communication skills.

We often hear that we can’t focus more on our health and well-being because it will impact economic growth, it will stifle job creation, etc.  I invite you to be curious about this insanity. Can you think of replacing our obsession with economics with something more meaningful?

What does more self-compassion look like? I hope you can learn to value the human heart and soul above the idea of material wealth.  It’s time we stop paying lip service to this. It’s time to stop lying to our kids.  We often them it’s what’s inside that counts, be kind, be nice, etc., but we contradict those messages in the way we live our lives.

People say they don’t have time to work on their emotional life. I call a % 100 fucking bullshit to that.  This excuse is the reason we continue to destroy the earth and each other.  The ‘bull-shit-capades’ we feed ourselves is more insidious and sophisticated the deeper our resistance to change becomes. We have the time; but we don’t use it to take care of ourselves or to explore our emotions, thoughts, behaviours, and actions.

How can your daily experience change through improved emotional intelligence? What does self-care look like to you?

How can you do any of these things, you can research emotional intelligence, I’d start here with a modern well-known author and pioneer in North America – Daniel Goleman

I suggest you consider mindfulness-based stress reduction in Toronto check out Dr. Heidi Walk

You can learn effective communication skills, practice with a coach or therapist, or read about it.  If you want to engage with the ‘Starts With Me Community’ Come to one of our ‘State Of Mind’ events, or get in touch with social media or hello@startswithme.ca

Sink or Swim?

I’ve been reading a lot of content in the public mental health conversation lately that’s so focused on defending, telling other people what not to do, and complaining. This frame of reference isn’t helpful. Most situations get the best results when we focus on what we can control…ourselves. When we point fingers we don’t get anywhere; it’s that simple. I’ve written about this topic before, but lately I’ve been struck my the constant complaining, even by leaders in mental health advocacy. We can sink, or swim. We can rise and empower ourselves, or we can continue to focus on the problems around us and keep our head just above water.

I’m guilty of complaining about all kinds of things. I relentlessly practice catching myself in a cycle of complaining to ask myself; What’s the validity, usefulness, and frame of reference I’m in when I’m complaining. I always find that no matter what, it’s never optimal to complain. 100% of the time there are better responses to my situation.

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
― Maya Angelou

It most cases the best thing for me to do is change the way I think about it. When I’m resistant to doing this, it’s because I’m stuck in self-centredness. I don’t want to put in the effort of working on changing. The person who’s hurt deep down inside is angry, resentful, sad, hopeless and feels defeated. Whining about things I didn’t like was so strong in me, and it’s taken a lot of work to replace it with more constructive responses. I no longer need to complain, because I can empower. When I embraced the gift of self-awareness and responsibility, I had a chance to live the life I’d always wanted to live.

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
― Randy Pausch

I still complain all the time, my first reaction is often to complain. About the traffic, about my wife, about my kids, about whatever is in front of my face. Today my new pattern is to empower myself. If we want to change things, we’d better be damned sure we start with our actions. By doing this, we can empower those around us. A gift given to me by all the amazing people I look up to and learn from. They say the only way you can keep something is to give it away. So I hope to share these experiences with others in the never-ending cycle of learning and teaching.

What are you complaining about?
Can you bring self-awareness into your patterns of whining and blaming and finger pointing?
Can you start by changing your perspective to the situation?
How can you empower yourself through this change?

How can we provide better mental health support for our youth?

When I look at this picture, I am curious about what was going through my mind? It is difficult for me to relate to who I was then. I have a hard time remembering how I felt and why I behaved the way I did. The ONE thing that’s clear to me is how uncomfortable I was in my skin. I was hooked the second I experienced the euphoria and relief from marijuana use. I had no coping skills, nor anyone to teach me how to understand my emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Today, it is clear to me that I did not learn these things, because around this time, the 1990s, western society clearly didn’t value the importance of emotional intelligence and mindfulness. My teachers, parents and community leaders did not have an understanding of how to teach these skills. The exciting thing today is that we are learning how powerful emotional intelligence and mindfulness-based practices are for our wellbeing. I know how crucial these skills are for me today in maintaining my well-being, and that is why it is exciting for me to be learning how to implement them in the mental health work I am doing with youth.

Work by incredible organizations like CASELCollaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning is exciting. Here is a brief description and graphic for their model.

SEL

These skills are imperative for humanity to learn. If we want a healthier world, then we had better get our heads out of our #$& and start teaching our kids these skills as equally, if not more important that traditional, math, science, English and other core subjects.

“Children deserve to experience life positively, and society has
a duty to provide them with the skills and strategies to manage life’s more challenging moments. Mindfulness may be one way to provide this.” (Kim D. Rempel 2012, Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy)

The opportunities for change and a healthier happier world exist everywhere because these opportunities lie in each and every human. People often get caught up in the trap of saying things like “tell me what this magical cure for all our problems is?” Alternatively, people get lost in trying to picture or define what a healthier and happier world would be.

This perspective is not helpful, nor will it get us anywhere. I believe that we are incapable of describing what it looks like because we have not transformed ourselves. Once we change the way we feel, think, and behave, the healthier and happier world will create itself as an expression of our collective growth and wellbeing.

Can you imagine how improving our individual state of being will bring about the world we want? I surely can, because I’ve experienced it within myself. The more I heal and create a sense of wellness and contentment inside myself, the more I can bring love and positivity to my daily life. The possibilities of how we can change the world are endless. I hope you can find a little space within yourself to embrace this opportunity.