A recent movie hit the theaters this year about Fred Rogers, American television personality, puppeteer, writer, musician, producer, and Presbyterian pastor who also helped to secure millions dollars in federal funding for a new concept: Public Television. Fred Rogers passed in 2003, survived by his wife, two sons, and three grandsons. And, apparently, was survived by a distant relative named Tom Hanks also!
Inspirational Quotes can be helpful in times of stress. ‘Just do it’, for example, and ‘This too shall pass.’ Here are some quotes and words of wisdom from Fred Rogers.
“At many times throughout their lives, children will feel like the world has turned topsy-turvy. It’s not the ever-present smile that will help them feel secure. It’s knowing that love can hold many feelings, including sadness, and that they can count on the people they love to be with them until the world turns right side up again.”
What wonderful words of inspiration from Mr. Rogers on love.
Our minds are more powerful than we realize when it comes to success.
Let’s start by opening up your mind a bit to see what’s already there in that box that says, “Career Journey.” Relax, sit back, and visualize:
Imagine you are in a boat going down a river that is your life and career. What do you see? Where are you headed? Who is on the sidelines cheering you on? Who is speaking to you from the shore and what are they saying? Is anyone in the boat with you? This is your career journey.
Okay. As far as Careers- there are many that may be a good fit for you. Just decide on one before you retire and we can talk about career matching for personality, skills, interests, and values in another post. Here in this visualization you see a situation you have. Now let’s look at some steps to put the wind in your sails.
Research shows that having goals is a huge factor in success (Canfield & Hansen, 1996; Gage, 2006; Hansen and Allen, 2002; Klauser, 2001; Matthews, 1990; Rutherford, 1998; McColl, 2007; Proctor, 1997; Vitale, 2008). We know that if you write down your goals you are much more likely to achieve them! When you write down your goals you become much more aware of them. They are reinforced in your mind. The first step is to be aware of your goals. If we do not have them there are thousands of voices we hear from our culture, friends, family, mentors, teachers, TV and the media, and our own hearts that will distract us from what we really want to do. Our own hearts often want to do things we really do not desire. Goals are the rudder to steer our boat in the right direction.
Goals may take some work to create. You need to discern what are desires, out of your control, and what are goals. Do you have a pie in the sky? Then you need to create achievable goals. They must be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic. For example, if your goal is “I want to be an acrobat,” you may need to define what ‘acrobat’ means. Does it merely mean you can do a handstand or does it mean you are in a Cirque show? How will you know when you are an acrobat? What are the steps to take to become an ‘acrobat’?
In contrast, people have even died from having no meaningful purpose or goals. Can you think of what you have looked forward to in the mornings when you start your day over the last month? What has been on your schedule? What family time or vacation did you look forward to? How would you feel if you had no goals and no purpose for the day? Nothing to look forward to? Or what if your work felt pointless? An extreme case of how this affects people comes from, sad to say we even have this research, prisoners of war. In WWII Germans conducted experiments to see what would happen if prisoners were required to shovel and wheel dirt back and forth all day and many of the prisoners lost their minds, running from the work (Latham, 2007). Korean POWs lost hope, many developing ‘mirasmus’, the lack of the will to live, and died within two days (Schein, 1963). They just went in a corner, put a blanket over their head, and died (Blackett, 2011).
Self-Talk and the Voices of Outside Influences
Even once you have your goals, there is still a battle in the mind. We deal with self-talk on a constant basis that can either move us forward or drag us away from our goals. People often deal with the burden of ‘hand-me-down’ goals from parents or other people in their lives (Blackett, 2011). For example, that father who wants his son to be a doctor when all the son wants is to be an artist. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy can help people to become more aware of and combat lies, automatic thoughts, rules, ‘shoulds’, and negative core beliefs that get in the way of success. Many people deal with negative core beliefs such as, “I am unlovable,” “I am worthless,” or “I am defective,” that were learned from early childhood experiences. This does not mean the parent, caregiver, friend, or experiences through which they learned these beliefs intentionally caused pain. However, the child’s understanding is limited and these negative beliefs stay with us a long time unless we become aware and address them. They become self-talk. Most of this is subconscious; that realm of the mind out of our conscious awareness that comes out in our dreams.
I once attended a hypnosis workshop where I gained insight into this idea of the subconscious. The presenter explained that no one can be hypnotized unless they want to be. To further elaborate, he drew a diagram of the theory of the mind that explains how hypnosis works. The theory of the mind shows that there are three circles- the critical mind which is conscious, then the subconscious which forms habits, then the unconscious that controls our automatic bodily functions. In order for hypnosis to work the subject must allow their critical mind down so that the power of suggestion can bypass the conscious mind and enter the subconscious to form habits and behavior. The presenter told stories even of how hypnosis and the power of suggestion penetrated the unconscious mind, stopping a person’s bleeding after a car accident. Letting the critical mind down, trusting, and believing that one was not bleeding controlled the autonomic nervous system and bodily functions. Research has well-documented the effectiveness of hypnosis at alleviating pain and psychosomatic pain.
I realized this theory of the mind is very much interconnected with the concept of boundaries as well as hand-me-down goals. If you have never read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No by Henry Cloud and John Townsend it is a great read and the first time I heard of this concept. It basically is an awareness of the fact that we may be conscious of our ability to say yes or no to people in our lives. This also means that if we do not have good boundaries we can be trusting of and allow the influences of negative leaders and beliefs on a subconscious level. We can be seduced. The picture of ‘boundaries’ looks similar to that of the theory of the mind presented in this hypnosis workshop.
While you may still be skeptical of these ideas, we can agree that there are people who influence our thinking and we can benefit from an awareness of this and the power of choice. How many people have been dragged down by sibling jealousy, a hyper-critical parent, or even the voices of peer pressure when friends are our only family? One famous extreme example being Joseph, from the Old Testament Biblical story, who was thrown down a well by his jealous siblings and sold into slavery. A hypothetical situation may be a member of a gang, caught up in drugs who is dreaming of a better life and career. He may not even go to college, or be in school but peer pressure may ruin his or her school record and financial support of the state. We do not have to be slaves to the negative influences of others. We can all agree we have a choice and can make strides towards a healthier circle of influence. Further, we all have been children once, and we can benefit from being in touch with our inner child that looks for guidance. Let’s look at what some of psychology has to say about our inner child. Psychology being the efforts students have made over the past 150 years to describe, understand, predict, and control behavior.
We all need leadership and can be vulnerable to outside influences because of the power of our inner child. Children are like little sponges and are much more trusting. I would guess for this reason they may be more easily hypnotized. Famous psychiatrist, Carl Jung, provides insight into the power of the child in us all. He has a strong understanding of the power of thinking and our ‘subconscious,’ where our dreams come from as well as may be suppressed. Find your true dreams of success! This is what they mean when you hear ‘unlocking the power of the subconscious ( or unconscious).’
In Jungian theory is the idea of the collective unconscious, which is the collection of primordial images from myths, fairy tales, and legends that a child has to pull from in understanding the world. This is how the child forms their own identity in individuation, separating from their parents/caregivers and becoming an individual. A part of this collective unconscious are “archetypes”, which are metaphorical images. Examples of these include the ‘hero’, ‘beggar,’ ‘clown,’ ‘villain,’ ‘virgin,’ ‘wounded healer,’ and countless others that play out repeatedly in stories across the ages. Jung’s theory of child therapy began with his interest and understanding of the child archetype and it was not until later in his studies that he applied archetypes to a theory of child psychology. Jung did some work with children but mainly focused on adults and his followers developed Jungian Analytical Play Therapy (Shaefer, 2011).
The strongest archetype according to Carl Jung is the child and I believe the power there lies with the wisdom of humility. Whether it is the Western Greek Socrates’ paradox, “I know one thing; that I know nothing,” or Eastern Chinese Laozi, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”; even Jesus has this wisdom, “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Carl Jung grew more closely in touch with his inner child towards the end of his life and found healing. When our child is orphaned we are especially vulnerable to being seduced. Hitler was given as a great example of a powerful hypnotist. The people were hungry and in need of a leader. He would even stand up over the people so they literally looked up to him like God. Propaganda and film from famous film director Leni Riefenstahl was used to impress the messages into the minds of the people. The people were responsible in allowing the seduction and hypnosis.
The diagram even looks similar to the diagram of ‘boundaries’ outlining who is in our ‘inner circle.’ of influence. Who do we allow into our subconscious and even unconscious minds? Are they ‘safe’? What ‘hand me down’ goals do you have? What self-talk and core beliefs may get in the way of your success?
A Story and a Film to Illustrate the Power of the Mind for Your Career:
Good Will Hunting and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
In Good Will Hunting Matt Damon plays the janitor at MIT with a genius IQ and gift for math. He is discovered solving extremely advanced math problems left on the board while cleaning the university at night.
When he is arrested for attacking a police officer he gains leniency by agreeing at the professor’s request to see a therapist, in the professor’s hopes he will help with this professor’s career in math. He is his own public defender. He needs help from a psychologist, played by Robin Williams, in order to overcome his own self-talk and negative core beliefs. He had been abused in his youth and this was holding him back from finding direction with his life and career. In this clip from a scene Robin Williams, who sadly struggled with heart issues and depression that led to his untimely death, as the therapist leads Will Hunting to a point of healing in one of his deepest darkest struggles. I would say the therapist in this scene even hypnotizes Will- you can see how much of a struggle it is for him to trust the therapist in letting down his critical mind to, in this case, embrace the truth instead of a lie. He has to in some sense become a child again to embrace the truth.
Will’s circle of friends is in fact very supportive.
Finally, an African Folk Tale that kills some of the big lies that get in the way of work.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
I read this with a group of children recently and afterwards we went around the circle. The children were told to ring the singing bowl once quietly and to say something small and something true. Some of the little girls said, “I saw a flower.” Then some of the boys said, “I saw a shark!” and “I saw a shark AND an Alligator.” This was not small and it was not true. It was human nature. Then one of the little girls said, “I saw a BABY flower.” This was small, but it was not true. There is no baby flower. There are seeds, they grow, and then the flower blooms.
“I saw a farmer picking a yam bigger than me.” Is the mosquito judging the farmer’s work? His productivity? Or is he just bragging about how big he is? No one wants to listen to the lies. But the reaction causes a chain reaction leading to the death of a baby owl whose mother is the wisdom that awakens the sun each day. That is her job and she is so sad she no longer can raise the sun so it is dark as night. Finally, the animals come together to the Lion for court and find out the truth; misunderstanding, gossip, and slander. Now she does not even have the strength to do her job, to awaken the day. The moral of the story is: slap the lie that whispers in your ear and kill it before all this nonsense starts!
Rachel Hofer, MS
This book is a New York Times Bestseller.
As a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern one of the things I do is to use talk therapies to help people dealing with emotional and mental problems such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, substance abuse problems, and even just the most common diagnoses, ‘stress’! Mental Health Counselors treat these problems with many therapies that involve changes in thinking and behavior that can not necessarily be ‘seen’. What is fascinating in regards to this book is that Dr. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist, gives an explanation of these problems as ‘brain disorders’ that can actually be scientifically detected with imaging tools. His work gives a window into the metaphysical reality that is the age old mind-brain problem philosophers and scientists have wondered over for centuries. Dr. Amen writes, “I always believed there was a strong connection between spiritual health and mental health (Amen, 4).”
I work from a spiritual, rational, and physical perspective that is holistic and based in a philosophy that includes all three metaphysical (aspects of being) and epistemological (aspects of knowing) planes. We can not discount the importance of the spiritual and intuitions of the heart where we talk about and experience such things as trust, faith, hope, and love. I draw my philosophical understanding from my studies of intellectual history. I particularly draw from one of my favorite philosophers, Blaise Pascal, who gave me a good argument for a spiritual, rational, and physical perspective for my practice that includes a strong theological and scientific base.
Long before we could detect the smallest particles of matter in the atom the Greek philosopher Leucippus hypothesized of its existence around 450 B.C. Not long after, his follower, Democritus coined the term ‘atom’ from the Greek ἄτομος (atomos, “indivisible”) from (a-, “not”) and τέμνω (temnō, “I cut”), which means uncuttable, or indivisible, something that cannot be divided further. Some of the greatest discoveries have originated from the intuitions of man’s heart, only later to be empirically ‘detected’ and rationally understood (if not perfectly), if not seen and touched. Mental health has been a soft science with classified categories of clusters of symptoms in the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders yet without necessarily an empirical way to detect and diagnose. Many of the symptoms described in diagnoses are based on behavior and reports.
Dr. Amen here explains how science can empirically detect and measure activities in the mind-brain connection. This book has a lot of information regarding mental health problems drawn from Brain SPECT imaging, an empirical tool that Dr. Amen uses to detect ‘brain disorders’, or diagnosed mental health problems that meet DSM criteria. These are Nuclear medicine studies that measure blood flow and activity levels in the brain (Amen, 5). Dr. Amen also discusses use of PET (positron emission tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CAT (computerized axial tomography), and EEG (electroencephalograms). Seeing that many mental health problems can be empirically detected in brain function using these tools can be helpful in dispelling stigma and false guilt when there is a medical problem and brain disorder. Without some evidence of the medical issue, people may think that it is ‘all in thier head’ and they just need to get it together, or that they are just a ‘bad person’.
What the information in this book adds to my practice is a holistic perspective that includes making referrals and recommending information on medication, nutrition, exercise, social interactions, behavior changes, along with the talk therapies and other treatments I offer as a mental health counselor. Dr. Amen states he is one of very few psychiatrists that offer these types of brain scans and consultation on mental health problems. They are also rather expensive. He states the purpose of the book is not for everyone to go out and get their brains scanned but to explain a wide variety of human behaviors in terms of the images that SPECT provides and show they can be treated on a medical model as well as the traditional psychological and social models (Amen, 15).
Dr. Amen by no means argues that talk therapy is not effective for treating these empirically detected ‘brain disorders’. His point is not that physical things can only be treated physically but to show a fascinating explanation of thought and behavior using the brain images. For example, his research shows that depression is associated with limbic system (an area of the brain) over-activity and that bonding can decrease this over-activity (Amen, 41). One example of this is that orgasm is like a mini-seizure in the limbic system and lessens deep limbic activity (Amen, 41). He found that when a patient who was depressed had a scan before and after having passionate sex with his wife his brain scan showed his limbic activity was significantly decreased (Amen, 41). He then goes on to explain how casual sex does not work and is so damaging for many females because they have a larger limbic system than males that bonds more deaply, crashing harder when a bond is broken. He also writes that healthy bonding between mothers and children, between family, friends, and even pets affects the limbic system positively.
Dr. Amen has an entire chapter on enhancing positive thought patterns. Dr. Amen’s prescription to heal these limbic problems includes, “. . . accurate thinking, the proper management of memories, the connection between pleasant smells and moods, and building positive bonds with oneself and others (p. 55).” It is common knowledge that research shows Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (a talk therapy) to be highly effective in dealing with depression, but it is effective in dealing with a wide range of psychological problems (Corey, 288, Beck, 2). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy deals with changing distorted thinking and core beliefs about the self and the world such as that one is unlovable or helpless. Bonding also happens in talk therapy between a client and therapist and can enhance relationships and bonding with others.
Understanding there may be a physical problem with the brain is therapeutic and can help us to find more ways to improve our mental health. This book is a great read and a good reference for any specific illness or mental health problem. I also would highly recommend This is Your Brain On Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin with a forward by Dr. Amen. As well as good information and explanation of the parts of the brain (he uses a cartoon) and how they are related to different patterns of thought and behavior, there are a lot of good tips for helping with specific problems including many different treatments, what foods to eat, vitamins, aromatherapy, and cinematherapy.
Amen, Daniel G., M.D. (1998).Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness
New York: Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Beck, Judith S. (1995). Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. New York: Guilford Press.
Corey, Gerald. (2005). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Seventh Edition. Belmont: Thomson Brooks/Cole.