Resources

This page will have many resources you can use in dealing with managing emotions and in applying your efforts to change and grow. I will be adding material to it on an ongoing basis, so what you see now is not all that is going to be available. 

There are tools and materials.

Tools will contain all manner of personal tools, techniques and practices. I may refer you to something on this page while we are in session, and you can then refer back to it to use it during the week. You may also just explore this section for things that interest you. Once you have something specific, you can practice it until it becomes a part of you, or you decide to move on to something else.

Materials will contain things you might want to buy and use – books & biofeedback devices mainly.

These are all things I have found especially useful during the years and I have read or used most of them myself. Feel free to let me know of things you have used, as I am always looking for useful products that help people on their path.

Besides these main categories we also have something called Place by the Stream. It is simply a relaxation audio that you may find pleasant and helpful for unwinding.

 

Feature Device - F.Lux

- Free Download
F.Lux is a free download that adjusts the color balance of your computer screen. This is important because it has bee nfound that the light coming out of computer screens changes your circadian rhythms and makes it harder to fall asleep when you have been watching in the evening. This little program will fix that by changing the color balance of the light in your computer screen starting at sundown. Thus the light is less problematic for your brain, your circadian rhythms are unchanged, and sleep cycles not impacted.

Here’s the website: http://justgetflux.com/

Breathing Pacer – Free Online

http://www.doasone.com/BreathingRooms.aspx?RoomID=10
My recommendation is to make the outbreath longer than the inbreath. The pacer has the in and out breath even, just run over a bit on the outbreath and it will be more beneficial to you for relaxation.


GSR Unit

You can purchase this unit for about $70. Well worth it if in your budget. Bio-Medical Instruments 800 521 4640. Website: Look in biofeedback equipment, and then look at GSR unit.


BIOFEEDBACK

Emwave - biofeedback from Heart Math

This can be purchased as well. You would do well to read up about this and the various options.It’s a bit more serious purchase but a wonderful tool if you are interested.

http://www.heartmathstore.com/item/6030/emwave-pro-stress-relief


BOOKS

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life,

by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness Meditation by the person who researched and developed it


The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook,

by McKay, Wood, & Brantley. A good concise treatment of the skills of DBT.


A Morning Cup of Yoga: One 15-minute Routine for a Lifetime of Health & Wellness,

by Jane Goad Trechsel.


Sabbath, by Wayne Muller.

Written by a minister from Harvard Divinity School, this book addresses what to me is a larger context that mindfulness can exist in. Mindfulness is something you do in the moment and which gradually changes how you respond to life around you. When you take time out to slow down, you begin coming back to the sense that life has a rhythm and part of that rhythm is downtime. Taking that downtime and taking it in, puts those mindful moments into a larger context in your overall life.. A simple and engaging book that speaks with depth about this topic.


Peace From Nervous Suffering, by Claire Weekes.

The title may sound a little odd, this is an older book, from 1972 – but it is a classic in the field. It is a bedrock book of advice for dealing with Panic. Recommended for its simplicity and directness.


Mating in Captivity,

by Esther Perel.
A good book on sexual desire in long term relationship. Makes some points about what generated excitement and how married and long term couples need the feeling of otherness at times to keep the spark going. She speaks of balancing Intimacy and Attraction and realizing they are not always the same thing, or even compatible at the same time.


Positive Discipline,

by Jane Nelson.
Good book on raising children. It has of course a particular perspective and is not the be all and end all. I often recommend this when you are in a situation where there is a discipline problem particularly with a child who is challenging you and rebelling. Jane Nelson’s work is based on Rudolph Driekurs who said a long time ago that childrens primary need is to belong, and when they can’t get that, or don’t think they are, they go to looking for attention. If they can’t get that, they go to some kind of power they strive for.

And if it continues to get worse and you are banging heads around the power grab they go for revenge or in some cases, withdrawal.

So she has written books about positive discipline, an applied method to help your child move back down that negative progression, and help you to parent in a way that sets limits with your kids, and still lets them get the basic needs as described above to be met. Here is her website http://www.positivediscipline.com/


Parenting from the Inside-Out,

by Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell. How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

A very good book on understanding attachment theory as it applies to raising emotionally healthy children. Interestingly enough, it is co written by a famous Neuroscientist and an owner of a daycare facility. A very good and useful book for parenting young children.

Do It Yourself Eye Movement Techniques For Emotional Healing,

by Fred Friedberg.

An excellent and accessible book on the technique of bilateral tapping. This is a technique I use frequently in therapy and one that is used in various different therapies that have been developed since it’s discovery. A very useful book.


This section has a few resources you can use to deal with mild to moderate anxiety. It consists of two things, some simple stretches and some breathing techniques.

First there is a video of the stretches which you can use to learn them, and also use to follow and do the stretches any time you like.

Second there are 2 audios that will take you through the breathing techniques. The first two techniques are on the first audio. The third one(Belly Breathing) is the main one breathing technique and is on the second audio. You can do them separately or together as you like.

The sheet that is downloadable lists all of these, stretches and breathing techniques as one whole
sequence. Feel free to mix and match and use the parts of it you like the best. Doing just the stretches when feeling a little stressed or using one or two of the breathing techniques is often enough to get the desired effect. Doing the whole sequence is something you can do at your leisure to cultivate a more in touch and relaxed state of mind and body.

Option: Start with some Stretching

This downloadable sheet is a great summary of the stretching and breathing that you can take with you as a reminder.

There is also a website for guided breathing that I’ve found helpful. Here is a link to the site.

Drop the Words Technique

A simple form of interruption – this is used where your mental activity is excessive or taking you in a negative direction.

Step 1

- Pay attention to the thoughts that are going through your mind. Notice their direction, their tone.

Step 2

– Notice the emotions that these thoughts are stirring up, or reinforcing.

Step 3

– For 30 seconds, stop the thoughts and just feel the feelings alone that were connected to them.

Hold this. Notice that the emotions are there by themselves without the negative thoughts that seemed to be driving them. Repeat as necessary. This is a good distraction technique because it shows you directly that the emotions are just there and may have nothing to do with the negative things you thought were driving them.

Mix the Words Technique

Another form of interruption – useful again in breaking the flow to thought in general, and to get yourself off of a topic you really don’t need to be going over and over about.

Step 1

- notice what you are worrying or fixated on and boil the thoughts down to a phrase or sentence.
Example, I didn’t get enough sleep, now I will never be able to (pass this test, run this meeting, etc).

Step 2

- Now write the sentence down – on paper, on your phone or computer doesn’t matter.

Step 3

- Rewrite the sentence mixing up the words – making no sense. Example - Pass this sleep, now able get, didn’t will enough sleep dog test. You can play with this to make sure it is nonsense, but keep it relatively close to the original.

Notice I added the word dog, always helpful in making it feel silly, add what you like to this end.

Step 4

- Replace the worries and fixations with this phrase. Every time you start to fixate on this issue or worry about it, or need to plan it – say the mixed phrase.

This is a reliable interruption that breaks the cycle and reminds you that the fixation and over focus is senseless.

Cancel That To Do List

If you are ruminating, going over and over you may like this one.

It has been found that when people are going over and over what they need to do, that there is a particular brainwave speed that starts to predominate. The brain starts in a sense to resonate around this over focused planning, reducing it’s tendency to think, perceive and feel in other ways. We want to break this rut.

Exercise

– for the next 20 minutes stop yourself every time you start going over what you have to do. You can also use other things; recite the Gettysburg Address, Count backwards from 100, anything you like.

If you must, make a short written list – take 5 minutes and no more. After that nothing can be added to the list till the end of the 20 minutes.

Now for the next 20 minutes, every time you find yourself back at it, sing a song you know in your head (or out loud if you like) and don’t stop until the planning stops. You can have fun with this, enjoy how you are playfully and effectively jamming these frequencies. Enjoy every moment you do stop it, and have fun interrupting it every time it comes back. Stay with it. 20 minutes - practice, it will get better.

Tonglen

Tonglen is a Buddhist meditative technique, but it is here adapted to therapeutic use. Here is a link to the traditional use of Tonglen which is a much broader practice: Tonglen - Pema Chodron page

Note: This technique can be seen as being paradoxical – feeling the pain, dropping resistance and the wish for it to go away as a way of shifting the negative emotional state. That plus connecting with a feeling of generosity and giving.

Step 1

- notice the negative emotion that you are having right now. Notice what is uncomfortable /painful about it.

Step 2

– Breath in slowly and fully. As you do, imagine that you are pulling these feelings into yourself and feeling it even more intensely. Have the idea that it’s not something you need to resist and experiencing it will not do you harm.

Step 3

- Now breath out slowly and fully. As you do, imagine that contrary to the pain and discomfort you were just experiencing, you are giving or wishing to all around you ease and happiness and freedom from pain.

Step 4

– Repeat this for a few cycles. Don’t over analyze, just stay with it. See if you can do this for 2 minutes. Then stop and notice how you are feeling in terms of this negative emotion. You may want to repeat or you may want to move on.

Color Breathing

This is a technique I learned in the 70’s from John Beaulieu. I have used it ever since and have gotten consistently good results with it. Color Breathing is a combination breathing and visualization technique that helps you to shift out of a state of difficult or negative emotion and feeling stuck and to shift into something more settled and free. It can sometimes work very well to relieve headache too.

Step 1

– Notice the emotions you are dealing with. Notice the tone and intensity of these emotions.

Notice too where in your body you can feel the emotion or the effect of it/them. Breath. Pay attention to the physical manifestation some more. Take a moment, let this continue to come to you.

Step 2

– Now describe to yourself just where you feel it. What else do you notice, is it dark or light in your image of it? Is it dense? How deep does it go it it thin or thick. Pulsating, vibrating, deadened.

Notice these qualities and this will help with the exercise, if you don’t notice much, start with something, even if it is kind of subtle.

Step 3

- Begin our breathing. Breath in and imagine that the breath is going to the main place that you experience this emotion in your body. Imagine your breath soaking into it, like water to a sponge. What color is this? Can you get a sense of color? Now, without thinking too deeply here, what color would feel good to infuse it with? What comes to mind?

Step 4

– Now imagine that the breath you are breathing into your body an into this areas is that color. Picture it, see it, imagine it, whatever you can do. Stay with this. Even 30 seconds is a good start. Just feel that area in your body, breath in slowly and deeply, pulling that color into that area. Relax and repeat. Allow this area to unwind, to disperse to do whatever it “wants to”. Notice how this feels.

Step 5

– When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and notice the room around you. Notice what feels the same and what feels different. How have your emotions changed?

Bilateral Tapping to Shift Mood.

Overall this is a reminder to use this technique when in mild to moderate distress.
It is not to teach it to you.

Thus, this is something you should learn in session first. It is a great tool to use on your own when you need to slow down, are feeling overwhelmed, or are stuck in a negative cycle of thinking. In session we may have used “the tappers” but you can also learn to do this by tapping on your legs with your hands. In some ways, it is more personal that way.

If I haven’t shown you this, just ask me. In the meantime I will tell you that this is based on the discovery by Francine Shapiro that led to the core of the EMDR therapy that is used so successfully in the treatment of Trauma. This particular approach was written about by Fred Friedberg - His book- Do It Yourself Eye Movement Techniques For Emotional Healing is in the resource section of this website.

For now, I just want to remind you that this technique is something you can use on your own to
center, slow down, and shift your emotional state in many cases. When you start using it yourself you should experiment with what works, stay away from highly charged material, (start small is good advice here) and gain some experience and confidence in the technique. It is a simple technique that works in a very organic manner.

So keep it simple, don’t tackle really big stuff on your own.
Sit down, slow down.
Take an inventory of your emotions and;
Take an inventory of bodily sensations.
Shorten your thoughts into a statement that contains the essence – perhaps minus some of the sharpest distress.

Apply these as you know how to and do he bilateral tapping.
2- 3 minutes is recommended and you can do 2-4 rounds.

Remember – when you first do this on your own, start small and see what works,
build from there. When you find it is a comfort to use, then begin to use a little more.

Playfulness to shift Mood

This method of changing mood is very effective in reducing the gravity of the concern and then allowing yourself to shift into a new mood. I mean what would you rather eat stale bread or fresh strawberries with cream.

This will work best if you have first practiced the Playfulness in the cultivate and build positive emotions section. Link Here. Once you have “played with that” for awhile, you can come back to using it to break the grip of a negative mood and shift into something playful. I find when I do this successfully, the playfulness pushes its way through for awhile, and then I stop playing and the mood stabilizes somewhere in between where it started when I was in distress, and the “high” of the fooling around.

Directions – You notice you are struggling with low level anxiety or distress and decide to try to shift it with play. Pick something you’ve tried already from the Cultivate Section – and just start doing it.

Enjoy how funny or silly it is to be doing this, see if you can get yourself to give yourself to it. Once the fun begins, repeat for a little bit. Enjoy it. Enjoy it more. Now pause and see if it is feeling a bit better, and if it feels better to be remembering that there is fun to be had . Let your mood stabilize at a better place. See how that feels and if it works, enjoy the fact you got to feel better by being playful and not having to even get serious about it.

Cultivate and Build Positive States and Emotions

The more we can cultivate positive states and emotions, the more we are resistant to negative states and the more likely we are to be in positive ones. It is still important in therapy to get at underlying patterns of dysfunction, but building positive states is quite valuable in itself. These types of practices relate to the middle of my Therapy Pyramid - Inner Compass and Awareness

Cultivate Part I

These exercises cover a range of techniques but are all in the mindfulness category.

Yoga

- Though not for everyone, Yoga is a wonderful exercise system on many fronts. It helps maintain or develop flexibility and is also very good for relaxation and mindfulness. This is of course a very short description of what Yoga can do for you, but it is not of course my purpose to go into the depth of what Yoga is and can do for you here.

You are encouraged to do some yoga- Do routines you know, sign up for a course, or get a video. Perhaps the simplest way to start is to get his book – Morning Cup of Yoga in the materials section, and you can literally do 15 minutes of yoga and get some significant benefits and see if you want to do more. Even if you stay with the 15 minutes, this will be a significant addition to your day and state of mind.

Mindfulness

- Mindfulness has been developed as a distinct entity by Jon Kabat –Zinn.
You can reference his book here LINK in the Materials section. Google mindfulness and you will find much information about it. There are some local teachers of the standard mindfulness meditation course. Here is a link to online info for Stephanie Speer http://www.stephaniespeer.com/bio/

I am not attempting to teach full on mindfulness in this resource section, but I will give you some mindfulness exercises that you can do at a basic level to bring this into your life.

Mindfulness 1

Pick a menial activity in your daily life and practice mindfulness every day for a week.

Step 1

– Pick something you do on daily basis that doesn’t need much thought. One classic activity for mindfulness is doing the dishes. Brushing your teeth would be good. Watering plants is very good too but you don’t do that every day. Letting the car warm up is another. So pick something you can use as the subject of mindful activity for a week.

Step 2

– Apply these awareness approaches. When you are being mindful, you are taking perhaps one minute or as much as 5 or 10 to focus just on what you are doing.

Mindfulness is in a sense the opposite of multitasking. Don’t think about what you will be doing next, or did before, just focus on the simple task you are doing and how you are using your hands to do so. Begin to pay attention to all the sensory information that is coming in that you usually miss. Sounds in the room , or sounds of touching and moving the objects you are using, temperature on your hand as you touch different objects. Subtle visual cues, glimmers, sparkles.

The trick is, as you begin to pay attention to this sort of thing, the amount of sensory impressions that you can notice just grows. This is helpful because it makes it interesting and it tends to make being in the moment interesting as well.

As you begin to notice these things, become interested in them, pay attention. Let your attention be taken up by these things that are just in the moment. Like anything else, the more you do this, the more you will notice and the more natural it gets.

Notice how it feels to be slowing down and what is different after you have done it. That’s it.
At the end of the week, decide to do it again with the same activity, try a different activity for another week, or take a break. You can also download this little sheet to keep track of your mindfulness and to keep on track.

Standing Meditation

This meditation/exercise comes from the Tai Chi tradition. Different schools of Tai Chi have slightly different approaches, but I will demonstrate here how I was taught to do Standing. It is very mindful and physical at the same time. This video will guide you through it.

Listening to the Rain

This is what it sounds like it is.
If you are working, perhaps take a minute to to focus your attention on the rain. If you are home, why not pull up a chair and really listen to that rain. Give it at least 5 minutes, but what’s even better is if you can relax and start to unwind. How many sounds can you hear in the rain and the wind? There are a lot of them. See how you feel as you begin to notice more of the sounds that are in that raining.

How about the temperature change, the smells, the moist air on your skin and in your nose perhaps memories of other times you were in the rain that were pleasant. This is a mindfulness that comes spontaneously. Why not place a value on taking the time to do this. It’s like taking time to smell the roses, but a lot more likely to happen and a bit more immersive.

Once you have tried this, begin to get other weather events on your list of must be mindful for.
Wind, snow, the moments around sunrise, sunset…. there are many possibilities.


Mindfulness Suite

Introduction

This mini practice is made up of a group of three mindfulness practices. Taken together , it remains a minimum of effort, but a somewhat rounded program of mindfulness in the midst of daily life.

The Three Practices

Mindful not Multitask
Stretching
Transitions to Outdoors

Explanation

The program is to do these three things on a daily basis for one week. You do these 3 things when they come around in the course of your day. These are short exercises, probably from a minute to perhaps 3 minutes tops at a time. But taking the opportunity to do these woven into your day, is what makes up the impact of the Suite.

Mindful not Multitask

This involves the moments when you are waiting for something to happen, a computer to download, a ringing phone to go to message, etc. The action is to avoid doing something else in that space of time, and just breath and point your gaze down. So the opportunity to multitask is declined, and it is used instead to do mindfulness. Generally the situation resolves itself pretty quickly and you can go back to your main task. If it takes longer, there is no need to stay in mindfulness, although you are certainly “allowed” if you should feel like it.

Stretching

This involves doing little stretching routines, like the ones on this site under the heading Stress techniques. It means doing these brief stretches at natural pauses in your day. We are talking about one minute or so of stretching.

Just before you are switching from one task to another, when you get out of bed, come out of the bathroom, at any conclusion or initiation of activity. The idea is this would happen 3 times a day. Even if this is for literally one minute. During the stretching, focus on enjoying the feel of the stretch, slowing down, and not attaching to thoughts.

Transitions to Outdoors

This involves doing a moment of mindfulness every time you step outdoors. It starts when the door opens. Pay attention to the temperature, the sounds and the feel of the outside environment. For the first minute or two, perhaps walking to the car, or whatever is the first natural delineation of your activity, stay in perception mode.

Summary

In doing the suite, you are going to remember to do these three things everyday for one week.
It should make an impact on the quality of your week, and help you make being more mindful more natural. At the conclusion of the week, you can simply let it go, or sign on for another week. You might want to go indefinitely. Enjoy keeping your score – 3 weeks, ten weeks, etc, as long as it feels helpful.

You might also want to try another mindfulness exercise. Or want to read more about mindfulness, or take a class in it. Making it a regular part of your life is the ultimate here. See what fits for you.

Mindfulness Suite # 2

This group gives you cues for mindfulness specifically designed to bring you back to the moment when you are wandering during the course of your day.  This is not to distract you from something you are focusing on as a task, but rather to bring you back from mind chatter and internal dialog.

1. When you are about to do something you do every day by wrote, like sit in a chair to tie your shoes or walk to the sink to get some water - do something different- sit in a different chair, or differently on the chair - change how you tie the laces.... do something different - and in so doing  it will easily jar you into the moment.

2. Take any perceptual subtlety and really pay attention to it, and again, stop whatever mind wanderings you are doing and enjoy the sensory impressions, breath slowly, come back to the moment.   This can be a glimmer of light on the surface of a lamp, a slight shaking of a computer monitor or of something on a desk or surface due to a vibration - these are subtle things that are there all day long, but we see them and don't notice - notice and enjoy - and come back.

3. Same thing with sounds, there are sounds all the time that go on in the background that we pay no attention to.  Pay attention to them.  Notice their qualities, the way the drift into your space from outside or other places.   Breath, notice what it is like to just be here listening.

The goal is to do at least 2 of these in the first 2 hours of your day, and then two more the rest of the day.  You might want to finish by doing at least two in the last hour or so before bed.  Once you start paying attention, you will begin to find these everywhere.  It's kind of fun to look for a different way to sit down at the dinner table or desk, a different way to walk through a doorway... you get the picture.   Have fun with this, and be mindful.


Cultivate Part II

These exercises a little different from straight mindfulness, though they retain some
of those qualities. These are seeking to help cultivate specific qualities and
emotions that are helpful in balancing the emotional life in general.

The Ego Watch

This exercise is another week long practice. It was adapted from author Victor Sanchez.

Background:

It is in a sense applied mindfulness. You are going to pay attention to times when you find yourself shifting from a neutral state to a negative one. This means you are going along doing your day and something comes along to change your mood, suddenly you are anxious, depressed, detached, any “change of state” will qualify.

Step 1

– Notice when something like this happens. once again, it may seem vague at first, but once you have done it a few times, it starts to click. You will notice it more and more easily.

Step 2

– Imagine you have just recognized such a switch in states – now, without analyzing too much and staying in the moment – ask yourself, what is my ego’s reaction to the last few moments. What is my ego doing? Picture your ego – picture it as a child, or as a big shot as holding on to what it needs to feel safe or in control. What do you see?

Step 3

- Notice why your ego just had a hard time with what happened, or what you thought about or remembered. Try to see this from a detached standpoint, as in, “oh look at my ego stressing about that”. And that’s the gist of it!

Step 4

– Keep on doing this, use the first successful sense of this as your guide. And begin to take pleasure in separating from your ego’s response, identifying yourself as apart from that, and being able to have a different response. The Ego Watch helps you to notice reactions that you may not have seen clearly and to take a different perspective. After a few days, you’ll begin to experiment with what it feels like to react differently. You will be creating ego flexibility and a lot of awareness.

Expectancy

- Making use of a basic emotional drive that moves us forward in life. This is particularly indicated when you are depressed and or feeling low energy.

The task in this practice is similar to the previous practice – Ego Watch – to watch for something as you go through your week and make note of it when it shows up. But in this case, we want you to neutrally observe what it is, large or small, that gives you a little spurt of excitement or energy. And when you do notice it, you are going to note this on a list or tracking sheet. The purpose of this exercise it to pay attention to the arising of this subtle feeling, and begin to fan its flames so that you can slowly build up more of it.

What is Expectancy? In brief, in the field of Affective Neuroscience there are 7 Core emotions that are found as physical networks in the brain that generate emotion.

But this one is kind of subtle for most people and hard to identify with. It is however one of the basic drives to go into the day and engage with the world around you. It is almost an invisible emotion that is gives us the basic energy to move through our lives. It is also called SEEKING and is related to excitement.

Instructions:

It is very important that the excitement is in anticipation of something. Like you are getting dressed and you think about your car, and you get excited thinking it just got cleaned and is going to look great when you see it. It is not like when you are at a restaurant and the desert comes to the table and you are excited by the it’s being in front of you or excited as you are eating it –That’s different – what we are looking for here is anticipation – expectancy.

Example:

It’s the weekend, and I’ve been working upstairs at my desk. I get a little hungry, but keep going because I’m on a productive run. Finally, I decide that it’s time for a break and I stand up and head for the stairs that take me towards the kitchen. I begin to think about food, the refrigerator, the cabinets, (seriously, that’s what’s going through my mind, in pictures). It’s subtle, but I notice a little uptick in energy, the dragging I was having the last few minutes is changing to more of a floating feeling. There’s a little of a smile on my face, I notice I’m almost holding it back, not flashing it. I wouldn’t describe myself as excited – not in any major way, but I feel lighter, and I am energized by the prospect of finding something to eat, something I will presumably enjoy.

Note: getting the food is different, that is reward, gratification, feels good, it’s probably the object of what I’m anticipating, but they are separate things.

Alright – download your tracking sheet, and get interested in finding out more about what excites you with expectancy how it feels mentally and physically.

Forgiveness Ladder

This was adapted from a talk by Pema Chodron. Sometimes anger and resentment are part of negative emotions.

When this is something that you want to work through, this kind of exercise can be very helpful. Basically you make a list of everyone that you have not forgiven or hold something against. You yourself might go on that list. – Sometimes forgiving yourself is the main point of this exercise.

Once you have your list, rank them from easiest to forgive to hardest to forgive. Sometimes we have the hardest time forgiving ourselves. Put yourself in that list as needed. One more thing. It is often helpful to put someone in the number one position who you feel softness toward. This is a technique for getting this thing going. You want someone who is very easy to forgive to give you a head start. Often this is a pet or a young child. You imagine they did something, peed on the floor (pet) or something, but it’s easy to forgive them. Then you take that feeling and apply it to the next person on the list, #2. And you begin to forgive them. If you are interested in this technique, talk to me about it and we can go over it in more depth. When you are ready to begin

DOWNLOAD THIS WORKSHEET

 

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Taking Fun Seriously: The importance of Fun Play and Laughter

As I have said elsewhere, the emotions related to Play and Fun and Laughter are essential positive emotions that we would all do well to encourage. For some of us, no encouragement is needed, but for many of us, we could use a little bit more of it. If you would like to pursue this path, read on. You can also download a Play Worksheet.

How about taking the below questionnaire?

QUESTIONNAIRE

Take this little questionnaire, in some ways it’s just an exercise in fun, in some ways it will give you a take on where you are with keeping Play and Fun in your life.

I like to laugh

I make people laugh sometimes, rarely, regularly, frequently.

I’m laughing now.

I can remember things I did as a kid that were silly and fun.

I have favorite comedians or TV shows or movies that make me laugh.

There is someone or are people in my life that make me laugh.

I have a little bit of a clown in me.

I wish I had a little bit of a clown in me.

Laugh, I don’t laugh, my face will crack.

I like being around people who are fun.

I can make fun when I’m with close friends

I can make fun when I am by myself.

When someone else is having fun, it “turns my fun engine on”

I like to laugh.

I make people laugh sometimes, rarely, regularly, frequently.

Activity: Laugh Track

Make a collection in your bookmarks. Go online, and start to find clips of movies, videos, commercials even, stand up routines by favored comics, anything that makes you laugh or feel playful. Save them in your bookmarks and look at one or another of them from time to time. Just before bed can be a good one, or before starting a bunch of paperwork. Morning time can also be great, just start to use these to inject some extra playfulness and humor into your life. And when you come across something funny online, add it to your collection.

Activity: My Idol

Pick one comedian, clown, person who makes you smile, laugh, enjoy silliness. Get a picture of them online and save it in a prominent place on your computer, maybe even your desk top for awhile. Let’s just think of them as your idol in humor. Someone you want to emulate or be inspired by in your own being playful. Then “go forth” and exercise that side of you – enjoy it.

Activity: Clown Face

Go to this web site: http://clownyourself.drinkfour.com/
Upload a picture of yourself, and turn it into a clownface.
Play with it.
Same kind of thing here: http://host-d.oddcast.com/elfyourself2012/home.php
here you can “Elf Yourself”
Send these things to friends, cajole them into doing it, have fun with this.

Simple game, good starter – The Mirror

OK, our goal here is to get you to be more playful, which leads hopefully to laughter, joy now and then, and lightness. So we've got to start somewhere, how about looking at yourself in the mirror when you get up in the morning and sticking your tongue at yourself or making silly faces. Have some fun with this, give yourself a chance to let this fly. Look this is going to be juvenile, that’s the point of a lot of playfulness. Remember we need it, it is a positive emotion, one of the 7 primary ones we know of neurologically. Let’s get it up and running.

Game - Public Place Which one is it?

I actually got this one from George Carlin. You can do it when you are in a public place like a mall where there are lots of people around. It’s a game, the premise is to pretend that you know there is, walking around here somewhere, a spy, a courier for a drug cartel, a mad scientist plotting to take over the world. Your job, recognize them. It’s really just a chance to be childlike and play, but quite a lot of fun.
Let yourself have it.

More Games, More Playfulness

Try to remember things you did when you were young that made you laugh, made you feel playful, and maybe were downright silly. Then, when no one is looking, do them, laugh at how silly it is, and notice how it increases your overall sense of energy. This is what we are after.

When I was a kid, we often would play games where we were shooting at each other with imaginary things, like bows and arrows. Now this won’t work/not recommended if this you’ve had anything traumatic that you or loved ones have gone through in terms of violence. But as a kid it was a lot of fun. And I have to admit that pretending an arrow just went through my shoulder, and holding it, feigning pain, making gasping and moaning sounds, way dramatically, brings back those memories and It’s just so silly as an adult to be doing this…

While this is a great activity to do, just for fun or to lighten the mood, it can also be used quite readily to interrupt negative emotions, when they are in the light to moderate range. If you are experimenting with play and fun, give it a try as a mood changer.

What we are trying to do here is have you make Play a goal in life for awhile. Let there be more of it.

Summary

Many of us have lost touch with this essential emotion. This section is here to encourage you to experiment with bringing it back in your life. If you are in therapy with me, feel free to talk to me further about this and we can explore a little bit more, just how you can cultivate this joyful activity.

Albert EllisThis is Albert Ellis. He is considered (with Aaron Beck) to be one of the grandfathers of Cognitive Therapy. The smiling face in this picture is not a rarity, Dr Ellis was seen smiling and laughing quite a lot. One of his featured techniques was to remind you that as difficult as your situation may be, that there were so many things that were worse if you really thought about it. He would cajole you into looking at that and perhaps admitting it. He wasn’t about warm and fuzzy. But sometimes it was effective. He coined the phrase – you are catastrophizing.

So this little tool is not for the faint of heart. But if you feel like giving yourself a little kick in the butt, or like trying to step away from your misery and think you are up for it, this one is for you.

Just look straight at Albert Ellis and tell him how bad your problems are. You can be sure that you would find no sympathy with him. And in case you are ready for an attitude shift, he would be the man to deliver it.

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