How Get The Most From Your Life!

Dreaming Into The Life You Want Most

Will Give You The Most

 

discipline

What Do You Want In Your Life?

It might feel a bit uncomfortable to become “conscious”  of what you want the most from life, but Not knowing might land you somewhere else.

Dreaming Into The Life You Want Most Will Give You The Most!

The greater the clarity of your dreams, the more likely you’ll make choices along the way that honor your vision. The following instructions will help you get started.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Where do You want to see yourself in 6 month? … 2 years? … 5 years?  Try to visualize yourself in the future.

Imagine walking into your home five – ten years from now…

Imagine arriving at your home –  where is it located?  Is it a house, an apartment…?…

Walk in the front door. Who lives with you?…

Reflect on your day. What was it like?  If you work, take a moment to dream into it. Or were you doing something else?… were you with friends, family…?

What will you do in the evening? Again, just imagine the perfect situation.

2. What are the necessary qualities you will need to achieve this vision?

If, for example, you see yourself in 5 years with a different career, you may need schooling. If you see yourself as part of a couple, you may need to work on your interpersonal “issues”. If you see yourself as healthy, you may need to give up a bad habits. List a few of the qualities that will help you get there.

See it to become it!

Best Marriage Tip Ever

Times Magazine published an article about how to make your marriage work, entitled, The Single Best Piece of Marriage Advice Ever Given

It’s a common topic – you can find articles in magazines all over the place, almost every month out of the year.  But I thought it was a good article, so here’s a bit of a summary:

The highest praised piece of advice, according to the author, is to rise above the minutia of daily life and commit to bringing out the best in your partner.  

“In wise love, each divines the high secret self of the other and, refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an image to copy in daily life.”  ~William Butler Yeats 

You can’t do this without understanding what it is that your spouse truly wants. That may sound easy, but isn’t. In the short term, you might know she wants a promotion, or he wants to live in the country. But that is not the “high secret self” you need to know. The “high secret self” exists apart from daily desires and even apart from the twists of fate and fortune that get in the way.

And when your partner has given in to his or her least attractive tendencies, this is the moment when you must see through the annoying, demanding, complaining, failing, faltering wreck in front of you—and find the strong, kind, fascinating, functional person you know your spouse wants to be.

You have to learn to be critical without criticizing. The origin of the word critic is the Greek word kritikos, which does not mean “able to pick at flaws incessantly” but does mean “able to make judgments.” This is a crucial difference. The kind of criticism that helps marriage is the kind you learned in English class: studying something so well that you can find its hidden patterns and its deeper truths. If you apply this kind of criticism in marriage, it is actually possible to stop a spouse in mid-spiral (sometimes even in mid-sentence!) and say, “Excuse me, no offense, but you are not being the person you want to be.” The pronoun is vital. The difference between “who you want to be” and “who I want you to be” is the difference between encouragement and nagging: spark and ash.

Article Source : The Single Best Piece of Marriage Advice Ever Given

“Life doesn’t happen to you – it happens for you”

You are not a victim of fate or circumstances.

Lessons will be repeated until learned.

PemaChodron

In my psychotherapy practice, people often present with superficial problems, as if to distract from the deeper issues. I can see it in their faces – the way they avoid eye contact. I wouldn’t even say it’s a conscious defense- mechanism.  So I ask the deeper questions: “Why?  What would that give you?”  

The answers often surprise my clients.

“Well… I want my family to respect me”. .. And what do you imagine that would give you?  “Validation”.   And what would that give you? … “A sense that my life is worth something.”

That way we are getting somewhere – the underlying, often unknown, motives that drive their actions. 

By making it conscious, we then have choices – Choices about the authenticity of the goal; the strategies employed that haven’t worked, and an opportunity to re-strategize to make the goal achievable.

“Life doesn’t happen to you – it happens for you”  ~ Jim Carey

Love and caring will always lead the way – fear gets in the way of becoming what people most desire. If I can help a person realize this, I can help them create the life they were meant to have – one with passion, with exuberance, one that feels vital and real!

Helping people to NOT suffer has become my obsession. I know it’s possible. That’s why I love my work.

What Are Your BLIND SPOTS?

There’s this cool diagram called the Johari’s Window:

JOHARIwindow2

People have used it for various purposes, but I like to use it as a tool for living more consciously – More authentic, self-actualized, congruent, non-defensive and trusting. 

Briefly, quadrant 1., OPENess, is the aspects of self that we easily share with others.  Quadrant 3. includes the aspects about self that we keep private (HIDDEN).  Quadrant 2., BLIND SPOTS,  are the things others’ know about us that we aren’t aware of,  and quadrant 4. are the aspects of self that are unconscious, UNKNOWN.

In reality, your internal boxes are not equally divided.  They may change proportions depending on the relationship or your moods.  If the goal is to become a more congruent, authentic person, then we must expand the OPEN area, which requires disclosing more about ourselves, as well as being willing to accept feedback from others about how they perceive us.

For example,  Andy thought he was pretty open towards others.  And he was.  But when he received feedback from his friend, Janet, that he seemed to get defensive when she shared an opinion different from him, he just couldn’t see it. He became even more defensive.

This would be Andy’s BLIND SPOT.  As he thought about what Janet said, he looked into his HIDDEN quadrant for some clues. Had he always been like that, or was it just with her?  Through gentle inquiry, he was able to realize that, when people disagreed with him, he felt like he wasn’t “good enough” –  something he felt frequently growing up in a household with many older siblings.

Andy was willing to disclose his discoveries with Janet, thus expanding his OPEN area.  He was willing to respect her feedback, and as a result, expanded his OPEN area even more.

The more we bring our blind spots to awareness, the more freedom we have –  the more we can live an authentic life.  Instead of automatic responses to factors that present themselves in everyday life,  with self-awareness,  we learn that we can exercise choices in our responses.

Ahhhh! Freedom!

How to Communicate Effetcively

Communication Skills using the

Awareness Wheel

I remember reading somewhere that the average person has about 3000 thoughts per minute, along with the corresponding emotions, expectations, and conclusions. I don’t know how they came up with 3000, but lets assume it’s true – That’s a lot of stuff going on! If you want to be clear and congruent in your communications, it’s essential that you slow this process down. You have to learn how to check in with yourself.

One of the tools I use with my clients in therapy is called The Awareness Wheel. Once mastered, it helps the user understand their experiences (awareness), and, if desired, communicate clearly to someone else.

Each experience can be broken down into the following five categories:

AwWheel

  • Sensing or the Facts- what you have seen or heard. They are behavior descriptions, as if seen from a video camera, without evaluation or ascribing meaning.
  • Thoughts – what you tell yourself the facts mean. They are the interpretations, beliefs, conclusions, or stories you tell yourself about what is going on.
  • Feelings or Emotions – Keep it simple: Happy, sad, mad, or afraid.
  • Wants or intentions– What you think will fix the problem.
  • Doing or ActionsWhat you actually do.

Becoming a better communicator

  • Perception Check: This is my guess, am I accurate?  Sometimes it is a good idea to test, clarify and alter your interpretations by moving back and forth between the sensory data and your interpretations. (FACTS and THOUGHTS)

A common problem in relationships that often occurs is the result of confusing FACTS with interpretations about what is happening. Our interpretations generate emotions, and we can be caught up in our anger or hurt because our interpretation is different from our partners. The model helps you to clarify interpretations and emotions by going back to the original sensory data (what you saw, heard or felt) and checking each other’s interpretations. You may or may not get to agreement on the meaning of what you witnessed, but it’s helpful to know what each of you is thinking and perceiving.

  • Use Responsible “I” Statements  

Speaking as though we know the “other’s” intentions, feelings, or thoughts is offensive. By using “I” statements, we show that we are speaking responsibly about something we should be an authority about – ourselves!

  • Reflective Listening or “Mirroring”

Reflective listening consists of slowing the conversation down, while assuring your focus is on being a good listener and not your defense! After a sentence or two, you, the Listener, repeat back in your own words what you think your partner is saying. You then ask if you heard them accurately and completely. You keep trying this until your partner says, “Yes, I feel understood.” Then you switch, and you say a few sentences to your partner, and they repeat what they heard back to you.

Exercises using the Awareness Wheel

  1. Get to know yourself. Journal regularly about your experiences using the Awareness Wheel. Learn the difference between FACTS (what you have seen or heard); THOUGHTS (interpretations/ stories I tell myself about the Facts)); EMOTIONS (body-feelings – Happy Sad Mad Afraid); WANTS (goals or intentions – what you think will fix the problem) and the ACTION taken. Keep in simple.
  2. Practice expressing your Awareness Wheel, through writing first, to another person. Remember to use responsible “I” statements. Ask yourself:*** “ How can I say this in a way that the OTHER person is most likely to hear me?”

For example:

“When _(Facts)_   I thought    (Thought/Belief)    and I felt  (Emotion)  . What I’d like is  (Request/Want)What do you think?” (invites sharing)

Or:

“I felt _(Emotion)  when you _(Facts)_ because  (Thought/Belief)  , and I want _(Request/Want)_. What do you think?”

For example:

Let’s call my clients Joe and Jess.

Jess comes home after a frustrating, but productive day at work. She gets out of her car, and notices, again, the dead spots on the lawn (sensory data). She scowls (feelings- anger) and thinks (thoughts), “How many times do I have to ask Joe to fix the sprinklers!!!” (Wants and actions).

She enters the house and hears a football anouncer blaring from the TV (sensory data). She roles her eyes (feelings: sad/disappointed)  and thinks, “He’s not even with the kids. It’s like I have THREE children instead of two.”

Jess goes into the kitchen to find her mother feeding the kids their dinner, and is so thankful that she at least has her mother!  Jess thinks she wants a divorce.
Because Jess has worked with me for a while, she decides to not act on all these conclusions, but goes to her room to journal about first. 
After summarizing the last 5 minutes (as written above), she asks herself : 

“ok, so WHATS the issue?”.

I don’t feel supported;  and I’d like a more equal partnership. 

She practices her approach in the journal first, remembering the advice :”How can I say this in a way that Joe is more likely to HEAR me?”

Can I talk to you about some things? (Invites participation). 

Ok. This is just my perception, ok? When I got home today, I noticed the dead grass again, then I walked in to find you watching TV while mom was feeding our kids. (SENSORY DATA). And I Thought to myself ‘Joe isn’t taking our talks seriously!’ … because – I mean – how many times have I asked you to help me take care of the house better? How many times have I told you that the kids need more time with you (prior Wants and Actions)??  Naturally, I am incredibly frustrated (Feelings)! I’m seriously getting to the point of giving up (Want), and I may want a divorce.(future Action).

Life’s Journey(s)

 THE HEROES WITHIN

Archetypal psychology carries with it an approach to life that values the development of the individual soul. There are times when it is developmentally appropriate for people to be self-centered, materialistic, independent, or a warrior. We help people best by honoring the lessons they can gain from each state. Stories and folklore assist in our developmental tasks – using archetypal characters – by helping us make meaning of our lives.

These stories (Joseph Campbell uses the term “Myths”) reveal for us the attributes commonly seen as the good and beautiful; or the dangerous and destructive. According to Carl Jung archetypes are deep and abiding patterns in the human psyche that remain powerful and present over time, passed down through the generations through the “collective unconscious.” (Or our DNA?)

Using Carl Jung’s terminology, the ego is that part of the psyche that experiences separation. At first the young child feels little or no separation from the environment and especially none from the mother. It is only as the individual completes the task of strong ego development that his or her boundaries can expand and make way for the self. This includes the full conscious self, the personal unconscious and access to archetypal images emerging from the collective unconscious. The result is a renewed sense of wonder and oneness with the cosmos and a reclaiming and redefinition of magical thinking.

So what does the Hero’s Journey have to do with me?

Identity

Identity

Our Soul, I believe, has lessons to learn in this life. Carol Pearson wrote several amazing books which looks at twelve archetypes. These are not the only ones, but they are recognizable to most people. By learning to recognize the qualities of these archetypes throughout our varied life’s journeys, we can see where we may be stuck, and qualities to focus on so we can continue our personal growth. She groups them into three sets of four each.

The Ego relates to the preparation for the journey and includes: Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver.
The Soul (the unconscious) relates to the journey itself and includes: Seeker, Lover, Destroyer, and Creator.
The Self (individuation) relates to the return from the journey and includes: Ruler, Magician, Sage and Fool.

The following describes these archetypes – their respective tasks, virtues that can be attained, and where we go next. As you read them, ask yourself where you are now? Where have you been?

Innocent

Every era has myths of a golden age or of a promised land where life has been or will be perfect. The promise of the Innocent is that life need not be hard. Within each of us, the Innocent is the spontaneous, trusting child that, while a bit dependent, has the optimism to take the journey. Their greatest strength is the trust and optimism that endears them to others and so gain help and support on their quest.
Goal Remain in safety
Fear Abandonment
Dragon/Problem Deny it or seek rescue
Response to Task Fidelity, discernment
Gift/ Virtue Optimism, trust, hope, faith, simplicity
Pitfalls Naiveté, childish dependence, denial, obliviousness
Addictive Quality Denial
Addiction Consumerism/sugar/cheerfulness
Shadow Side Evidenced in a capacity for denial so that you do not let yourself know what is really going on. You may be hurting yourself and others, but you will not acknowledge it. You may also be hurt, but you will repress that knowledge as well. Or, you believe what others say even when their perspective is directly counter to your own inner knowing.
We begin with the Innocent archetype. The world provides all that we need. Then the “fall” occurs and we are faced with a loss of innocence and the Orphan archetype comes into play.

Orphan

The Orphan understands that everyone matters, just as they are. Down-home and unpretentious, it reveals a deep structure influenced by the wounded or orphaned child that expects very little from life, but that teaches us with empathy, realism, and street smarts. To fulfill their quest they must go through the agonies of the developmental stages they have missed. Their strength is the interdependence and pragmatic realism that they had to learn by being disillusioned.

Goal Regain safety
Fear Abandonment, Exploitation
Response to the Dragon/Problem Deny its existence, wishing for rescue.
Response to Task Overcome denial or identify with being a victim
Gift/ Virtue Interdependence, realism, resilience, empathy
Pitfalls wants caretakers and authorities to fix them
Addictive Quality Cynicism
Addiction Powerlessness/worrying
Shadow Side The victim, who blames his or her incompetence, irresponsibility, or even predatory behavior, on others, and expects special treatment and exemption from life because he or she has been victimized or is fragile. When this Shadow of the positive Orphan is in control of our lives, we will attack even people who are trying to help us, harming them and ourselves simultaneously. Or, we may collapse and become dysfunctional (i.e. “You can’t expect anything from me. I’m so wounded/hurt/incompetent”)
When everything seems lost, the Warrior rides over the hill and saves the day.

Warrior

Tough and courageous, this archetype helps us set and achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and persist in difficult times, although it also tends to see others as enemies and to think in either-or terms. The Warrior is relatively simple in their thought patterns; seeking simply to win whatever confronts them, including the dragons that live inside the mind and their underlying fear of weakness.

Their challenge is to bring meaning to what they do, perhaps choosing their battles wisely, which they do using courage and the warrior’s discipline.

Goal Win
Fear Weakness
Dragon/Problem Stay/confront it
Response to Task Fight only for what really matters
Gift/ Virtue Courage, discipline, determination, skill
Pitfalls Fear of impotence leading to ruthlessness, arrogance
Addictive Quality Stoicism
Addiction Achievement/success
Shadow Side The villain, who uses Warrior skills for personal gain without thought of morality, ethics, or the good of the whole group. It is also active in our lives any time we feel compelled to compromise our principles in order to compete, win, or get our own way. (For example, the shadow Warrior is rampant in the business world today.) It is also seen in a tendency to be continually embattled, so that one perceives virtually everything that happens as a slight, a threat, or a challenge to be confronted.
As the Warrior discovers his/her competence and power, the Caregiver emerges, moved by compassion, generosity, and selflessness to help others.

Caregiver

The inner Caregiver offers aid to those in need. Caregivers first seek to help others, which they do with compassion and generosity.
Goal Help others
Fear Selfishness
Dragon/Problem Take care of it or those it harms
Response to Task Give without maiming self or others
Gift/ Virtue Compassion, generosity, nurturance, community
Pitfalls Martyrdom, enabling others, codependence, guilt-tripping
Addictive Quality Rescuing
Addiction Codependence
Shadow Side Confirms itself in all manipulative or devouring behaviors, in which the individual uses caretaking to control or smother others. It is also found in codependence, a compulsive need to take care of or rescue others.
When fulfillment is not achieved with Caretaking, our journey takes us into the unknown exploration of the Seeker.

Seeker

The Seeker leaves the known to discover and explore the unknown. This inner rugged individual braves loneliness and isolation to seek out new paths. Often oppositional, this iconoclastic archetype helps us discover our uniqueness, our perspectives, and our callings. Seekers are looking for something that will improve their life in some way, but in doing so may not realize that they have much already inside themselves. They embrace learning and are ambitious in their quest and often avoid the encumbrance of support from others. Needing to ‘do it themselves’, they keep moving until they find their goal and their true self.

Goal Search for better life
Fear Conformity
Dragon/Problem Flee from it
Response to Task Be true to deeper self
Gift/ Virtue Autonomy, ambition, identity, expanded possibilities
Pitfalls Inability to commit, chronic disappointment, alienation, and loneliness
Addictive Quality Self-centeredness
Addiction Independence/perfection
Shadow Side: The Perfectionist, always striving to measure up to an impossible goal or to find the “right” solution. We see this in people whose main life activity is self-improvement, one self-improvement course to another, yet never feeling ready to commit to accomplishing anything.
When fulfillment is not achieved through self understanding, our journey begins to look Outward, to the relationship of the Lover.

Lover

The Lover archetype governs all kinds of love—from parental love, to friendship, to spiritual love—but we know it best in romance. Although it can bring all sorts of heartache and drama, it helps us experience pleasure, achieve intimacy, make commitments, and follow our bliss. The Lover seeks the bliss of true love – of the divine couple. They often show the passion that they seek in a relationship in their energy and commitment to gaining the reciprocal love of another.

Goal Bliss
Fear Loss of love
Dragon/Problem Love it
Response to Task Follow your bliss
Gift/ Virtue Passion, commitment, enthusiasm, sensual pleasure
Pitfalls Objectifying others, romance/sex addictions, out of control sexuality
Addictive Quality Intimacy problems
Addiction Relationships/sex
Shadow Side Includes the sirens (luring others from their quests), seducers (using love for conquest), sex or relationship addicts (feeling addicted to love), and anyone who is unable to say no when passion descends, or is totally destroyed when a lover leaves.
When disillusionment is realized by the Lover, our journey takes us into the chaotic lands of the Destroyer.

Destroyer

The Destroyer embodies repressed rage about structures that no longer serve life even when these structures still are supported by society or by our conscious choices. Although this archetype can be ruthless, it weeds the garden in ways that allow for new growth. The Destroyer is a paradoxical character whose destructiveness reflects the death drive and an inner fear of annihilation. Their quest is to change, to let go of whatever force drives them and return to balance, finding the life drive that will sustain them.

Goal Metamorphosis
Fear Annihilation
Dragon/Problem Allow dragon to slay it
Response to Task Let go
Gift/ Virtue Humility, metamorphosis, revolution, capacity to let go
Pitfalls Doing harm to self/others, out of control anger, terrorist tactics
Addictive Quality Self-destructiveness
Addiction Suicide/self-destructive habits
Shadow Side Includes all self-destructive behaviors—addictions, compulsions, or activities that undermine intimacy, career success, or self-esteem—and all behaviors—such as emotional or physical abuse, murder, rape—that have destructive effects on others.
Once we have learned the lesson of letting go from the destroyer, we reach outward even more, seeking meaning through a New identity

Creator

The Creator archetype fosters all imaginative endeavors, from the highest art to the smallest innovation in lifestyle or work. Adverse to stasis, it can cause us to overload our lives with constant new projects; yet, properly channeled, it helps us express ourselves in beautiful ways. Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds. A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
Goal Identity
Fear Inauthenticity
Dragon/Problem Claims it as part of the self
Response to Task Self-creation, self-acceptance
Gift/ Virtue Creativity, vision, individuality, aesthetics, imagination, skill, vocation
Pitfalls Self-indulgence, poverty, creating messes, prima-donna behaviors
Addictive Quality Obsessiveness
Addiction Work/creativity
Shadow Side Shows itself to be obsessive, creating so that so many possibilities are being imagined that none can be acted upon fully. We can fill our emptiness with yet another inessential project, challenge, or new thing to do. One variety of this is workaholism, in which we can always think of just one more thing to do. Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds. A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
Once we have discovered our uniqueness amongst others, we are ready to face life as it is and seek to make the best of our circumstances.

Ruler

The Ruler archetype inspires us to take responsibility for our own lives, in our fields of endeavor, and in the society at large. The Ruler’s quest is to create order and structure and hence an effective society in which the subjects of the Ruler can live productive and relatively happy lives.
Goal Order
Fear Chaos
Dragon/Problem Find its constructive uses
Response to Task Take full responsibility for your life
Gift/ Virtue Responsibility, control, sovereignty, system savvy
Pitfalls Rigidity, controlling behaviors, attitude of entitlement, elitism
Addictive Quality High control needs
Addiction Control/codependence
Shadow Side The ogre tyrant, insisting on his or her own way and banishing creative elements of the kingdom (or the psyche) to gain control at any price. This is the King or Queen who indulges in self-righteous rages and yells, “Off with his head.” Often people act this way when they are in positions of authority (like parenting) but do not yet know how to handle the attendant responsibility. This also includes people who are motivated by a strong sense to control.
When we learn that Ruling does not bring fulfillment, we are ready to enter the wonders of the Magician.

Magician

The Magician archetype searches out the fundamental laws of science and/or metaphysics to understand how to transform situations, influence people, and make visions into realities. Perhaps their ultimate goal is to transform themselves, achieving a higher plane of existence.
Goal Transformation
Fear Evil sorcery
Dragon/Problem Transform it
Response to Task Align self with cosmos
Gift/ Virtue Personal power, transformative, catalytic, healing power
Pitfalls Manipulation of others, disconnection with reality, cultist guru-like
Addictive Quality Dishonesty (image/illusion)
Addiction Power/hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana
Shadow Side The evil sorcerer, transforming better into lesser options. We engage in such evil sorcery anytime we belittle another, or ourselves or lessen options and possibilities, resulting in diminished self-esteem. The shadow Magician is also the part of us capable of making others and ourselves ill through negative thoughts and actions.
Satiated by our experience of power, we seek to combine our life’s experiences into an understandable state of wisdom.

Sage

The Sage archetype seeks the truths that will set us free by helping us become wise, to see the world and ourselves objectively, and to course-correct based on objective analyses of the results of our actions and choices. The Sage is a seeker after truth and enlightenment

Goal Truth
Fear Deception
Dragon/Problem Transcend it
Response to Task Attain enlightenment
Gift/ Virtue Wisdom, nonattachment, knowledge, skepticism
Pitfalls Being overly critical, pomposity, impracticality, lacking of feeling/empathy
Addictive Quality Judgmentalism
Addiction Being right/tranquilizers
Shadow Side The unfeeling judge—cold, rational, heartless, dogmatic, often pompous—evaluating us or others and saying we (or they) are not good enough or are not doing it right.

Fool/Jester

The goal of the Fool/Jester is perhaps the wisest goal of all, which is just to enjoy life as it is, with all its paradoxes and dilemmas. What causes most dread in the Fool/Jester is a lack of stimulation and being ‘not alive’. They must seek to ‘be’, perhaps as the Sage, but may not understand this.

Goal Enjoyment
Fear Non-aliveness
Dragon/Problem Play tricks on it
Response to Task Trust in the process
Gift/ Virtue Freedom, humor, life lived in the moment, exuberant joy
Pitfalls Debauchery, irresponsibility, sloth, cruel jokes, con, artistry.
Addictive Quality Inebriation
Addiction Excitement/cocaine/alcohol
Shadow Side A glutton, sloth, or lecher wholly defined by the lusts and urges of the body without any sense of dignity or self-control.

Article sources:  awakening-the-hero-within-hero-archetype-test; Awakening The Heroes Within Book;

You Can Say Anything!

Communication Skills using the Awareness Wheel

I remember reading somewhere that the average person has about 300 thoughts per minute, along with the corresponding emotions, expectations, and conclusions. I don’t know how they came up with 300, but lets assume it’s true – That’s a lot of stuff going on! If you want to be clear and congruent in your communications, its essential that you slow this process down. You have to learn how to check in with yourself.

One of the tools I use with my clients in therapy is (aptly called) The Awareness Wheel. Once mastered, it helps the user understand their experiences (awareness), and, if desired, communicate clearly to someone else.

Each experience can be broken down into the following five categories:

AwarenessWheelSensing or the Facts– what you have seen or heard. They are behavioral descriptions, as if seen from a video camera, without evaluation or ascribing meaning.

Thinking – what you tell yourself the facts mean. They are the interpretations, beliefs, conclusions, or stories you tell yourself about what is going on.

Feelings or Emotions – Keep it simple: Sad, mad, glad or afraid.

Wants or intentions – What you think will fix the problem.

Doing or Actions – What you actually do.

Becoming a better communicator

• Perception Check

This is my guess, am I accurate? ” Sometimes it is a good idea to test, clarify and alter your interpretations by moving back and forth between the sensory data and your interpretations.

A common problem in relationships is the result of confusing FACTS with thoughts/interpretations about what is happening. Our interpretations generate emotions, and we can be caught up in our anger or hurt because our assumptions about what’s going on is different than our partners. The model helps you to clarify interpretations and emotions by going back to the original sensory data (what you saw or heard) and checking each other’s interpretations. You may or may not get to agreement on the sensory data or the interpretations, but it’s helpful to know what each of you is thinking and perceiving.

• Use Responsible “I” Statements

Speaking as though we know the “other’s” intentions, feelings, or thoughts is offensive. By using “I” statements, we show that we are speaking responsibly about something we should be an authority about – ourselves! (See below)

•Reflective Listening or “Mirroring”

Reflective listening consists of slowing the conversation down, while assuring your focus is on being a good listener and not your defense! After a sentence or two, you, the Listener, repeat back, in your own words, what you think your partner is saying. You then ask if you heard them accurately and completely. You keep trying this until your partner says, “Yes, I feel understood.” Then you switch, and you say a few sentences to your partner, and they repeat what they heard back to you.

Exercises using the Awareness Wheel

1. Get to know yourself. Journal regularly about your experiences using the Awareness Wheel. Learn the difference between FACTS (what you have seen or heard); THOUGHTS (interpretations/ stories I tell myself about the Facts)); EMOTIONS (body-feelings – Happy Sad Mad Afraid); WANTS (goals or intentions – what you think will fix the problem) and the ACTION taken. Keep in simple.

2. Do your Actions reflect your Wants? Reviewing one of your written Awareness Wheels, notice if your ACTIONS matched what you said you wanted. If not, what got in the way of you acting in a way that may have gotten you what you wanted? Hint: Other beliefs or wants? Write a few ideas of other possible ways you could have handled it (for the future).

3. Practice expressing your Awareness Wheel, through writing first, to another person. Remember to use responsible “I” statements. Ask yourself: *** “How can I say this in a way that the OTHER person is most likely to hear me?”***

Possible sentence structures:

“When _(Facts)_ I thought _(Thought/Belief)_, and I felt (Emotion) . What I’d like is (Request/Want). What do you think?” (invites sharing)

Example : “When you didn’t come home at 6pm (Fact), I thought you were possibly hurt or at least disrespectful of our plans (Thoughts/Beliefs), and I felt scared and then mad (Feelings). What I’d like is to trust that you will stick to our agreements so I don’t worry so much (Request/Wants). What do you think?

Or:

I feel _(Emotion) when you _(Facts)_ because _(Thought/Belief) _, and I want _(Request/Want)_. Does that make sense?”

Example: “I feel scared (Emotion) when you yell at me (Fact) because it seems aggressive to me, and I’m not sure what will happen next (Thoughts/Beliefs). I want you to lower your voice please (Want/Request). Does that make sense?”

 

Practice, Practice, Practice!… Now you can say anything!

 

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