Sunday, July 31, 2005

What do you do when you finally succumb to the pressure?

I've been on overload for three months now. I've been working quite hard on finishing a book, scripting a daily radio show and parenting three children. I've been working too many hours and not following my own advice.

One of my children is angry with me and is resentful of the radio show. None of my children are satisfied with the amount of time they have received from me lately. My wife just became upset with me because she feels I portray her in an unflattering light (which is largely true but unintended).

Just for the record, my wife is one of the most wonderful, loving and emotionally intelligent people in the world. Proof of this is the fact that I dated her for 7 years and have been married to her for 14 years.

In the midst of this stress, my body recently revolted and has been ill for the past five days. My strength is waning. My spirit is ebbing. But my resolve has not.

We've had some issues with the radio show on KDIA. I think we are capable of making a world class radio show and are falling slightly short of that mark. It's frustrating.

However, we will pursue because this is what I am supposed to do - speak to people, share the information that may improve their life - right here, right now. Because what we do now, echoes in the halls of eternity and Heaven.

God bless,

Dr. John

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Author of Forgive for Good - Dr. Fred Luskin

During our show this upcoming Friday July 29th, at 5 pm on KDIA 1640 AM, we'll be interviewing Dr. Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good: A proven prescription for health and happiness.

Forgiveness is one of the key ways that we can achieve our goal of leading an exemplary life because it provides a way of emptying your emotional gas tank of all that anger and sadness and disappointment that you have inside of you. Once emptied, you can begin filling up your gas tank with positive emotional energy ? happiness and peace.

Forgiveness is a feeling of release and contentment that takes place in the present moment as you learn to take your hurt less personally and begin to assume responsibility for how you feel. Forgiveness does not change what happened in the past. It does not lessen the transgression you experienced. Rather it helps you to become part of the solution to the problem, rather than one more victim. In order to forgive, you must understand that pain and suffering are a part of life. It is life. You don?t live life without experiencing hurt and pain. That is the price you pay to play the game. You need to realize that forgiveness is done to benefit yourself. No one else. You do not need to speak face-to-face with the person who wronged you. You can forgive anyone you want, in your own mind, by yourself.

We decide to forgive NOT because it is good for anyone else. We choose to forgive because it will benefit us. When we forgive, we recover, we bounce back. When we forgive, we are resilient. When we are resilient, completely resilient, we are invincible, because at that point, we can bounce back quickly from anything hardship, any trauma, any loss.

According to Dr. Luskin, forgiveness is beneficial to us for three reasons. First, forgiveness penetrates the illusion that we are victims of our past, that we are chained to the wrongs that have been done to us. The past is the past. We cannot change it. The best you can do is to learn new ways of being in the present moment.

Second, by learning to forgive you can serve as an example to others. Forgiveness is not a trait that many possess. The world needs more individuals modeling forgiveness and showing individuals how to strengthen it. You are surrounded by people who are filled to the brim with rage, anger, sadness and disappointment, people who are in pain and don?t know how to escape it.

Forgiveness is a way out of that prison of pain. Forgiveness is a show of inner strength, NOT weakness. Forgiveness is a sign that you are able to rise above that which life has thrown your way. Forgiveness indicates to others that you have the power to overcome tragedy.

His third point is that as we learn to forgive, we are better equipped to share love and kindness with our loved ones and those around us. For if we are filled to the brim with anger and vitriol, we have no emotional bandwidth with which to help others. Emptying our gas tank of that anger allows us to refill it with positive emotional energy ? love, kindness and thoughtfulness. Only when we are filled with such positive emotions do we have a chance to share them with those around us. Otherwise, we allow our past hurts to intrude on our current relationships. Without forgiveness, we allow our accumulated anger to harm those who are trying their hardest to love us.

I am truly looking forward to speaking with Dr. Luskin on Friday. Tune in and join us!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pat Sullivan - author of Wellness Piece by Piece

The show yesterday went very well. We had the opportunity to interview Pat Sullivan, CEO of Wellness Piece by Piece. Pat is widely recognized as a pioneer and visionary in the high-tech industry who created ACT! used by millions of business professionals around the world. He was named as one of the 80 Most Influential People in Sales and Marketing History among the ranks of Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Jack Welch, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates. Sullivan was also honored with the prestigious Ernst & Young ?Entrepreneur of the Year? award not once, but twice! First for creating and marketing ACT!. And again for SalesLogix, the leading mid-market customer relationship manager. He is now founder and CEO of JigsawHealth a company dedicated to helping individuals feel better.

Here are a few principles from JigsawHealth ( First, our bodies are very complex, but completely interrelated. Each major system of the body (gastrointestinal, neuro, etc.) depends on the healthy functioning of the other systems to attain and maintain optimal health and wellness. If one system is compromised, other systems can break down, too.

Second, chronic conditions rarely have just one cause. Chronic health issues may be the result of a genetic predisposition, nutritional deficiencies, overuse of antibiotics, chronic infections, exposure to heavy metals, mold or hormone imbalances. Or it may be a combination of these.

Third, Overcoming chronic recurrent conditions generally requires a balanced, multi-faceted approach. There is no "magic bullet." Prevailing over chronic conditions requires persistence, patience, and a passion to feel better.

Fourth, nutritional foods and supplements are necessary for optimal health. Today, much of the food supply in the U.S. has been injected, sprayed, processed, and over-cooked. The result is artificial food tainted with toxins and stripped of any real nutrients. We are, in a sense, starving ourselves. And we wonder why, in this land of plenty, our levels of obesity, cancer, heart disease, and more have risen far above those of other countries.

Interestingly, we received feedback from one listener after the show calling us "evil" since according to her, we were insinuating that "the doctors out there don't know what they are doing." It's funny how quick many people who call themselves "religious" or "Christian" are to cast stones at other people. For me, it's one more reminder NOT to judge other people.

The point we were trying to make is that we need to look at the whole individual while incorporating the best from both the traditional medical and the alternative medical worlds for the best possible health. In addition, there are some environmental factors that we need to be aware of if we are to optimize our physical and emotional health. Pat Sullivan has some theories on what has harmed him and what has helped him. He also has a number of scientific studies to back up his theories. We thought that it would make for an interesting and informative conversation. Guess we were right!

John Schinnerer, PhD

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Energy vampires and toxic people

On our daily radio show, Guide to Self and Beyond, we have been and continue to discuss energy vampires and poisonous people. These are the people who drain the energy right out of you whenever they are around. They insult you. They embarrass you. They rob you of your positive emotional energy. They take while you give.

We all remember the old children?s rhyme. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Well, actually, your words can hurt me. And my own words can hurt me. Our use of words is undeniably important because our brains believe what we tell them. The brain is literal. We?re all running away from memories of painful events, nasty words, and mean people. The brain is so impressionable that we not only remember painful events, we tend to live our entire lives based on words we heard as children. Words are powerful. So you do not want to surround yourself with people that belittle and insult you. Nor do you want to spew mean-spirited words on others. Negative messages only serve to make you small and powerless. You deserve to be cherished and appreciated.

So it?s time again to get out the garlic necklace and the wooden stake because we are fighting the battle against energy vampires this week on 1640 AM at 5 pm Monday through Friday on KDIA. We?ll tell you all about the types of vampires and how to deal with them.

In order to correctly identify vampires, you must be in tune with your bodily reactions. It takes some time and practice to discern between someone whom you merely dislike and someone who is a vampire and drains energy from everyone with which they come into contact. Also, be aware of the difference between your nervous energy, which comes up in new situations and then slowly fades, and the ongoing exhaustion caused by vampires. To help you identify energy vampires, tune into your physical reactions to individuals. If your chest tenses up when you come within four feet of an individual, be on guard. If your stomach cramps when you approach a person, pay attention to it.

Keep looking here. I'll be adding more info on the types of emotional vampires this week.

All my best,

John Schinnerer, PhD

Friday, July 22, 2005

Laughter and better well-being

This just in "Laughter is the best medicine." It's an old saying, but evidently it is true!

A recent study has shown that laughter-as-medicine has more positive health effects than first realized. Conducted by the University of Maryland, the new study examined the physiological reactions of participants to movies of different genres. The group who viewed a comedy experienced an increase in blood flow in 95 out of 100 cases. Exactly the opposite occurred for those who sat through a drama or sad movie - 74 out of 100 had diminished blood flow. In the group who watched a comedy, the blood flow benefits lasted up to 24 hours.

This all makes good sense. When you laugh hysterically at a comedian or a comedy, your cheeks get a little red which demonstrates the increased circulation in your body.

Presented at the most recent meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the study demonstrates a strong relationship between laughter and heart health. Laughter helps our bodies in a number of ways:
a good laugh helps reduce our stress levels
it improves our blood flow
a hearty chuckle causes a cascade of painkilling endorphins into the blood stream
laughter increases our sense of well-being
it gives internal muscles a work out (it's like jogging for the inside!)
and it improves the functioning of our immune system (increases T-cell counts).

However, we don't need science to tell us that laughter is good for us. Common sense and a love of life will tell you that laughter is always the best way to go. So smile and laugh easily - your body and your friends will thank you!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Autism and Thimerosal part II

The Guide To Self Radio show on Wednesday with David Kirby (Evidence of Harm author) went very well. A lot of amazing evidence that makes sense to me. Some said it was our strongest show to date.

We got one emotional response from an acquaintance. It is funny - strong negative emotional responses don't seem to persuade me in a debate.

What I do know is that mercury is the 2nd most poisonous substance on the planet. It is a neurotoxin. It kills brain cells. It kills brain cells faster when mixed with other substances such as aluminum or cadmium. Why put it in our bodies?

And I sure as heck do not want anyone putting it in my newborn children's bodies.

It's interesting how people get certain thought systems or mind sets and then simply look for information that fits into that mindset. Any information that does not fit, does not enter the mind for evaluation. It's just emotionally dismissed.

Question: What doesn't fit into your world view or mindset? Why does it not fit there?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Autism and Thimerosal - Mercury-based preservative used in children's vaccines

If you have children or grandchildren who were born after 1989, you will be highly interested in our topic on Guide To Self and Beyond Radio on Wednesday July 20, 2005. The show begins at 5 pm on KDIA 1640 AM in the SF bay area. Or you can listen to it live on

We will be interviewing David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic. David Kirby has been a contributor to the New York Times for eight years, where he writes articles on science and health among other subjects.

As a school psychologist, I?ve witnessed first hand the explosion of childhood mental disorders such as ADHD, speech and language disorders and autism. I?ve also seen how a disorder such as autism can tear a family apart due to financial pressures, emotional fatigue, and physical exhaustion. Autism used to be considered a rare disease. However, it became an epidemic in the past fifteen years. Autism has spiked from 1 in every 10,000 children in 1987 to 1 in every 166 children today. I?ve done observations on students who would hide under tables, curl into fetal positions, cover their ears and scream wildly, flap their arms, overfocus on spinning cups, and not have a clue how to connect with another person socially or emotionally. This spike in the autism epidemic coincides extremely well with the increased number of vaccines required by the US Government. Most of these vaccines contained Thimerosal, which is 49% mercury based. The mercury is a preservative to enable mutliple doses of vaccines to be bottled together, although it doesn't work very well as a preservative.

In any case, children born since 1990 were given up to 600 times the recommended healthy dose for an adult as published by the FDA (0.1 mcg per lb. of body weight).

David's book presents a convincing argument that the Thimerosal in the vaccine (or ethylmercury - a known neuro toxin which kills brain cells and other cells) lead to this recent epidemic in autism (and some ADHD, speech and language disorders).

All three of my children were born after 1989 and what I?ve discovered in this book during the past week is enough to make my blood boil.

Back when I was working as a school psych in the public schools, it was commonly accepted that autism was a rare genetic disorder, yet there?s no such thing as an genetic epidemic. Now it seems that there may be a different, more relevant and more disturbing cause of autism, ADHD, and other brain disorders in our children. It also appears that our United States government knew about the risks and tried to conceal them from us. Stay tuned, you won?t want to miss this one.

Tune in KDIA 1640 AM 5 pm - 6 pm. Or come download it at our website, The show should be available 2-3 days after the initial airing.

All my love,

Dr. John

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Quote of inspiration

So great has been the endurance, so incredible the achievement, that, as long as the sun keeps a set course in heaven, it would be foolish to despair of the human race.

-- Ernest L. Woodward

Monday, July 11, 2005

The 11 Types of Gremlin Thinking

I promised to finish up the types of Gremlin thinking. I've been so busy this past week with going daily Monday through Friday on the radio show, that I've yet to fulfill that promise. So here you are... the 11 Types of Gremlin Thinking. I've put them all together to make them easier to read.

The 11 Types of Gremlin Thinking
Dr. John Schinnerer
Guide To Self

All of us struggle at times with negative thoughts. We?re human. Negative thoughts are second nature to us. However, it is within our power to control our thoughts. After all, we are the thinker of our own thoughts.

To get a hold of the thoughts in your head, slow down and pay attention to the thoughts that rush through your head. Journaling is a useful way to help keep track of your negative thoughts. Another suggestion is to merely count the number of times each day that you have a negative thought. This is a simple, gentle and powerful way to gradually draw your attention to your negative thinking, or Gremlins.

At first, many people feel like their thoughts are the equivalent of the freeway at rush hour and they can only see the inseparable blur of speeding cars. After observing their thoughts for awhile, they can slow down the speed of the cars so they can identify what type of car each one is. Eventually, you can turn your freeway of thoughts into a slow-moving country road. This is the point at which you have near complete control over your thoughts and you have only a few thoughts in your mind ? thoughts that you want to be there ? positive and supportive thoughts.

The good news is that we can learn to train our thoughts to slow down and to be more nurturing and supportive. You begin this process by identifying and challenging your negative thoughts. I like to refer to negative thoughts as Gremlins. This helps us to speak about them more safely, and it helps you to master personifying them so you can push them out of your head. When I have a negative thought, I like to picture it as a Gremlin, which looks to me like a goblin or a troll. When I notice a Gremlin thought, I envision shoving him out my ear. Think of it as making him walk the plank.

The Power of Visualization
Remember, your brain does NOT know the difference between the internal world and the external world. Once you grasp this idea, you will understand how powerful visualization is. Another visualization you can use is to imagine catching each negative thought and hitting it with a rubber stamped marked ?Cancelled? and then sweep it in the garbage can. BTW, it?s always good to have a garbage can in your head to dispose of negative or destructive thoughts.

What Gremlin Thinking Sounds Like
Yes, Gremlin thinking, negative thinking, occurs when your mind distorts incoming information to make you feel lousy and worthless. The really big red flags for Gremlin thoughts are ALWAYS, MUST, NEVER, OUGHT, and SHOULD. Gremlin thoughts sound like this:

Oh no!, I?ve screwed up again.
Why me?
I?m not good enough.
Nothing ever changes.
This always happens to me.
How can I be soooo stupid.
I should have done better.
I?ll never succeed.

Top Types of Gremlin Thinking

So here are the top types of Gremlins or negative thoughts:
1. Mind reading
2. Fortune telling
3. Always or never thinking
4. Guilt based thinking
5. All or nothing thinking
6. Focusing on the negative
7. Emotional reasoning
8. Self-righteous thinking
9. Labeling
10. Perfectionism and
11. Blaming.

Mind Reading
The mind reading GREMLIN occurs when you think you know that another person is thinking something bad about you, without any confirmation of this from that other person. Many of us think that 99% of what other people do or feel is a direct result of something we?ve done.
In truth, only 1% of what other people do or feel is directly related to something we?ve done. The other 99% is due to stuff going on in the other person?s life and has NOTHING to do with us.

For example, you come into work in the morning and see you?re boss looking angry. That look of anger may mean nothing more than she hit a lot of traffic on the way to work, or maybe had an argument with her spouse that morning, or had a flat tire. There are a million possibilities none of which involve you directly. You just don?t know. So don?t conclude that her angry look has something to do with you without some sort of justification. Just assume that your boss? anger, for example, has nothing to do with you 99% of the time.

Fortune Telling
The fortune telling GREMLIN predicts a negative outcome to a situation before it has taken place. To some extent, your mind creates self-fulfilling prophecies. Unconsciously predicting failure will often increase your chances of failing. For example, if you say, "I know I will screw up my big presentation," then you will likely not prepare enough or become very anxious during the presentation and your brain freezes and thus, you make a costly mistake during your presentation.

So how would people deal with such thinking?

First, recognize that you are thinking negatively. Then talk back to your Gremlin thinking. So for instance you could tell yourself, ?Ahh, my Gremlin is coming out. There you are, you little devil. That?s enough of you. Gremlin, you?re going into the garbage can.? And imagine sweeping the Gremlin into a garbage can in your mind. And, of course, put the lid on the can!
Next, replace the negative thought with a positive thought. So if you?re worrying about an upcoming presentation you might tell yourself, ?This presentation will be a great chance to practice my public speaking skills. The more presentations I do, the better I?ll become and the easier they?ll be to do.?

Always of Never Gremlin
The always or never Gremlin takes place whenever you think words such as always, never, every time, no one or everyone. These thoughts are absolutes. Absolutes are almost never correct! The always or never Gremlin can negatively change your behavior.

For example, I have a friend who asked her boss for a raise. She was turned down. She told herself that she would never get another raise. This GREMLIN prevented her from asking for another raise for nine months, despite the fact that she deserved it. You can counter this one by reminding yourself that ?always and never? are NEVER true. When you hear words like always or never running through your mind, imagine sweeping them into the garbage can and replace them with a positive thought.

Guilt-based Gremlins
Guilt-based Gremlins occur when we are overwhelmed by thoughts such as?

"I should have done...?
?I'm bad because?. ?
?I must do better at??
?I have to?. ?
?I ought to have??

The Guilt Gremlin brings to my mind a dictatorial parent figure shaking a finger at you. The key words to watch for are should, ought, have to, and must. These are tip-offs that you are dealing with guilt beatings. The result is that you often feel pressured, nervous, resentful and not good enough.

When you realize you are suffering from a guilt beating, take a step back, take a deep breath, and calmly look at the facts. Did I do something to deserve this feeling of guilt? Is there a constructive solution to the problem? Or is this guilt beating unnecessary? Don?t let your worries get the best of you, remember even Moses started out as a basket case.

All or Nothing Thinking
All or nothing thinking is similar to always or never thinking. Both types of thoughts ignore the subtler shades of gray in the world. All or nothing thinking occurs frequently when you are in a bad mood and view the world in absolutes ? black or white, good or bad, possible or impossible. The world is never as simple as either/or, it is filled with various grays. The world does not lend itself to such simple dichotomies. Our world is too complex for these thoughts to be true.
Some examples of all or nothing thinking include thoughts like ?I?m the worst father on the planet? and ?Nobody likes me? and ?If I do well on this presentation, then my boss will like me and give me a raise, but if I blow it then he?ll hate me and fire me.? Other examples include ?I hate myself. I?m all bad. There is no good in me? and ?I?m completely stupid? and ?I am 100% worthless.? None of these thoughts are true. Yet, if we don?t dispute and challenge them, we risk them becoming the truth.

All or nothing thinking is very, very rarely right. Ninety-nine percent of the time these thoughts are lies. Typically, these thoughts are fueled by negative emotions. When you notice all or nothing thinking, take a step back and look at what you are feeling. If you are feeling angry, sad, or ashamed, it?s a good bet your thought processes are lying to you.

Every time you become aware of such a thought, challenge it. Is it based on fact? Is it true? Is it rational? When you challenge such thoughts, you remove their power over you which enables you to live up to you potential rather than drown in your fear. When you find yourself in black and white thinking, remind yourself of all the shades of gray in between.

Focusing on the Negative
Focusing on the negative is the next Gremlin. It?s easy to focus on the negative. We?ve been trained most of our lives to look for mistakes, to look for areas where people don?t measure up.
This GREMLIN focuses entirely on the negative and filters out all of the positive. It?s like filtering out all of the light and seeing only the darkness. An example of this might occurs at your annual performance review at work. The boss has mostly good things to say about your job performance. However, he asks you to work on one thing such as getting to work on time. You focus on the 1 criticism and miss the 12 compliments. Shortly, you become convinced that your boss is out to get you and believe you will soon be fired. Again, this GREMLIN is deeply intertwined with how you are feeling. Negative feelings will greatly enhance the power of this GREMLIN. When you are sad or angry, it becomes difficult to see that there are potentially positive outcomes in current situations.

Instead, you want to train yourself to seek out the positive in every situation. Some people have asked me at this point, ?What if there is nothing positive in the situation?? My answer comes straight from Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, who said, "Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms ?to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Even in the worst situations that humanity has to offer, we still have control over our internal world. No one can ever take that away from you. So even in the worst circumstances, you still have control over your thoughts and feelings and you can make those positive.

Emotional Reasoning
Up next is the emotional reasoning Gremlin who creates problems when you believe your negative feelings to be true without questioning them. Just like thoughts, feelings can lie to you as well. Many of us believe our feelings are true without taking a closer look at them. This Gremlin makes you believe that your mood defines who you are. Emotional reasoning Gremlins can be identified because they usually begin with phrases such as ?I feel ?? such as ?I feel like I?m worthless,? ?I feel afraid,? ?I feel like nobody likes me,? and ?I feel like a failure.? Any time you have a strong negative feeling, challenge it as soon as you become aware of it. Is there any evidence to support the feeling? Or is it merely an irrational feeling? Are your feelings based on past events that no longer apply to the current situation?

Occasionally, negative feelings are there to serve as a protection from real dangers. However, in our current world, our emotions are more likely to overreact to perceived dangers than react appropriately to real dangers. Your job is to pay attention to your emotions, so you become skilled enough to tell the difference. Remember, he who angers you, controls you!

Labeling is another form of destructive thinking. Labeling sounds like this ?You are a? fill in the blank with a label such as democrat, republican, Christian, Muslim, old, young, businessman, smart, or dumb.? The philosopher Wittgenstein said, ?When you label me, you negate me.? Anytime you put a simplistic label on someone or something (including yourself), you reduce it to an oversimplified caricature of its real self. By labeling someone, you ignore and denigrate important parts that make up the whole of that individual. This is especially true of overly simplistic negative labels such as brat, idiot, dope, loser, etc. These labels are not only hurtful; they have a way of becoming reality. When you call yourself an idiot, you run the risk of it becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Your expectations of yourself go a long way in defining who you are and how your life plays out. This Gremlin ignores the degree of complexity that exists in the world. As William James said ?"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude."

Underlying the self-righteous Gremlin is frequently a deep-seated fear. It could be a fear of being unlovable, either by the person to whom you are speaking or God himself. Now obviously, God loves all of us. Yet, we may still have an irrational human fear that God can?t love someone ?like me.? And while I can tell you this isn?t true, that probably won?t carry much weight with your emotional mind. And this is where rock solid faith comes in. When you have 100% faith, you don?t think, you know that God loves you.

So how do you identify this Gremlin? The self-righteous Gremlin persuades you to think that other people should always act the way you think is proper. If they don?t act in this way, then the other person is wrong and should be punished.

For instance, you are at church and someone comes in without their own Bible. You always bring your own Bible. You are indignant and tell yourself that they must not be a good Christian and decide not to associate with them.

Remember, we were called to be witnesses, NOT lawyers, judges or executioners.

Perfectionistic Thinking
Next up is perfectionism, and the perfectionistic Gremlin creates a lot of pain. Nothing is ever good enough for this Gremlin. Let?s say you?re taking a test in graduate school. This Gremlin will want to focus on the 1 item you got wrong rather than the 99 items you got right! This Gremlin is never happy no matter how well you do. One mistake leads this Gremlin to conclude that you will never get it right.

What?s more, the perfectionistic Gremlin also holds other people to the same unrealistic expectations. This Gremlin will ensure that you are constantly unhappy and disappointed.
Understand that it takes a long time to be the person you want to be. Mistakes are part of that learning process.

Blaming Gremlin
We?ll wrap up with the Blaming Gremlin ? the one who likes to point the finger at everyone else. Many, many lives have been destroyed by the negative power of blame. Those individuals that excel at screwing up their own lives are experts at blaming other people for their troubles. Nothing is their fault. When something goes badly in their life, they can always find another person or external event on which to lay the blame. They don?t take ownership of their own problems and shortcomings.

Some examples of blame statements include phrases such as ?That wouldn?t have happened if you had?? and ?It?s not my fault that?? and ?Why didn?t you?? and so on. Their faulty reasoning runs something like this ?If you had just done something differently, I wouldn?t be in this mess. This mess is entirely your fault and I have take responsibility for it.?

When you assign blame to others, you effectively render yourself powerless. You have just taken your power to effect change and given it to someone else. That is a big mistake. Remember that you are responsible for what you do, no matter how you feel.

So the question is, how do you counter this type of thinking? My approach is to encourage clients to take personal responsibility for all their own mistakes, screw-ups and difficulties. You must cultivate an attitude of honest self-exploration. Mistakes are okay. They?re natural. They?re how we learn. All mistakes are merely disguised learning opportunities.

On the other hand, when we have a success or triumph, we encourage clients to give the credit to our higher power. In this manner, we stay humble, continue to work on our development and growth, and give away the credit for successful outcomes. You can also give the credit away to coworkers and those around you. Give away the credit. It?s free and it makes other people feel wonderfully important.

Ways to Challenge Gremlin Thinking
So let?s look at a couple of ways to counter some specific thoughts. For example, if you have a critical thought such as, ?I?ll never get this right.? You can challenge that thought with, ?No, that?s not true. I am smart. I am worthy. I will get this right.? If you never challenge your negative thoughts and simply "believe them," then Gremlins will insidiously infiltrate your entire brain and eventually ruin your life. Instead, visualize a can of anti-Gremlin spray to eliminate your negative thoughts, or picture the Gremlin Police to kick out the negative thoughts that are draining your mental energy. Sweep Gremlins into the garbage can in your mind and slam the lid shut on them. Or imagine your own way to deal with them.

Visualization is one of your most powerful tools here so you are only limited by your imagination.
The goal is to notice your thoughts, and then question them -- talk back to them. Once you question them, they begin to lose their power. As Norman Vincent Peale said, "Change your thoughts and you change the world."

The Snowball of Thought
It?s often helpful to imagine your thoughts as a snowball rolling down a large snow-covered mountain. At first, the snowball is the size of your fist, something you could easily pick up and control. However, as the snowball rolls down the hill, it picks up speed and grows exponentially. After a few yards, the snowball has increased in size to the point where you can no longer handle it by yourself. Given the right conditions, the snowball can grow to mammoth size and could cause damage to other people.

The snowball is exactly the same as our thoughts. Each thought starts out tiny and manageable. However, if you are not paying attention, the thought spirals out of control and quickly creates unwanted effects.

The most important thing in controlling negative thoughts is to challenge them. Don?t blindly accept them as truth. Confront them. Check to make sure they are founded on fact, not fiction.
George Lawrence-Ell, author of The Invisible Clock, said ?? an accurate definition of the self is impossible. You are more than you realize, more than you can define. And the more time you spend trying to nail down the definition, the less time you spend living right now. ... Your past is not your identity... You, living now, is your identity.? Put an end to you negative thinking and live in the present moment. You will be so glad when you finally learn how!

Friday, July 01, 2005

More on Gremlin Thinking - Automatic Negative Thoughts

Today, I will return to the topic of automatic negative thoughts, or Gremlin Thinking, and how to train your brain to challenge them.

The human brain does NOT know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Brain scan studies have shown that the same area of the brain lights up when someone looks at a bed and when they simply imagine a bed. That is why the mere thought of something sad can make you cry. In the same way, constantly thinking about worst case scenarios will make you stressed. This has been verified by the Harvard Medical School. Harvard Medical School uses this same info in their Heart Wellness Program to help people prevent heart disease and recover from heart difficulties.

The more you listen to negative material, the more your brain becomes convinced that the world, and everyone in it, is heartless, cruel and meaningless. All those negative messages normalize and simultaneously perpetuate the insanity. Be careful what is fed into your head!

Negative thoughts are insidious. They pass through your mind quickly and quietly. They happen on their own. But they have tremendous destructive potential. They usually start with messages given to us in childhood and they are carried with us into adulthood.

Left unchallenged, we BELIEVE these negative thoughts.

This is critical to understand. If you do not challenge your negative thoughts, you will believe them, and they will negatively impact your life.

The Harvard Medical School has stated that negative thoughts can lead to headaches, low back pain, insomnia, and high blood pressure ? all symptoms of stress. They go on to state that negative thoughts can lead to negative behaviors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, and over- or under-eating. Harvard Medical School uses this same method of cognitive restructuring to help individuals recover from heart difficulties.

Negative thoughts are based on false beliefs, illogical views and incorrect assumptions. Most people do not know that thoughts can be deceitful. Most of us don?t even think about our thoughts. So people go through life believing whatever irrational thoughts pass through their head. This means that their behavior is based on these false beliefs and assumptions. This, in turn, leads to difficulties with moods, behaviors and interpersonal relations. Often these negative thoughts fuel anxiety, depression, anger and misunderstandings. Unfortunately, the development and mastery of our thoughts and feelings is left largely to chance.

Learning how to dispute our negative thoughts is essential if we are to reach our potential and live a satisfying and meaningful life.

The good news is that we can learn to train our thoughts to slow down and to be positive, nurturing and supportive. You begin this process by identifying and challenging your negative thoughts. I like to call negative thoughts Gremlins. This helps us to speak about them more safely, and it helps you to master personifying them so you can push them out of your head.

When I have a negative thought, I use visualization to eradicate it. I like to picture it as a little Gremlin (which kind of looks like a goblin) that I shove out my ear. Think of it as making him walk the plank. Remember, your brain does NOT know the difference between the internal world and the external world. Once you grasp this idea, you will understand how powerful visualization is. Another visualization you can use is to imagine catching each negative thought and hitting it with a rubber stamped marked Cancelled and then sweep it in the garbage can. BTW, it is always good to have a garbage can in your head to throw away negative or destructive thoughts.

Negative thoughts are ways in which your mind lies to you with the intent of making the situation worse than it really is. The really big red flags for Gremlin thoughts are ALWAYS, MUST, NEVER, OUGHT, AND SHOULD. Gremlin thoughts sound like this:

Oh no!
Why me?
I am just not good enough.
Nothing ever changes.
This always happens to me.
How can I be soooo stupid.
I should have done better.
I will never succeed.
I am mad, therefore I must have been treated badly.

Watch out for these types of thoughts. When you recognize them, challenge them. Are they based on fact? Or are they merely runaway feelings?

I plan to fill you in on the final types of Gremlin thinking shortly.

Right now, I must go prepare for our upcoming radio shows. We begin going daily (Monday through Friday) on July 4th, 2005.

Look for Guide To Self Radio on KDIA, 1640 AM.

All my best,
Dr. John