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Handling Personal Problems

Why Is It So Difficult To Change Behaviour?


We all find it difficult to change our behaviour, especially when we have gotten into a pattern of doing things. This is because our behaviour is controlled by perception and the most crucial aspect of perception is that it is entirely governed by our thoughts and our fears. It means our subconscious mind is the key to formulating our perception.

The subconscious is a kind of slave which blindly obeys every command of the conscious mind because it cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined experience. That is why, for example, we can easily get ourselves into an emotionally anxious state by thinking negative thoughts, by dwelling on bad experiences and telling ourselves how awful we are or how terrible the world is. Yet nothing else might be happening at that particular time than a rehash of past experiences.

A guy I knew in Jamaica is a virtual prisoner in his own home because he is affected by the increasing crime rate he hears about and sees only negative events around him. He hardly goes anywhere locally or mixes with people, which keeps him isolated and suspicious, making his environment appear even more negative and frightening. Instead, he keeps going back and forth from one country to another to make himself feel better, believing the problem is external when it is primarily inside his head. To prove that. he spent years rushing off to America to avoid the 'terrible' country then last year decided to settle in Jamaica for good, which is strange after all his fears around it! Yet I have never had his perception and fears around the country.

Thus, our subconscious mind develops such negative perceptions, makes them "real" to us, and we begin to believe their reality too. What's more, we tend to place ourselves in situations and environments that confirm these realities and "truths" as we see them; seeking people who think, dress, behave and perceive the same way we do in order to confirm and validate our perception. We are likely to feel distinctly uncomfortable and distrustful of those whom we perceive to have different realities to our own. That is the main reason why it is so difficult to convince someone of low esteem and negative perception that things might actually be different from how they view it. Until they share our perception, perhaps through perceived benefits, they will remain in their own created reality.

Seeking "Truth" Among Like Minded People

The far right parties like the British National Party, or even the Tea Party, who promote racism are a case in point. As members are likely to stick to other members who perceive and believe in the same way, they will reject the perception of others that do not match their own. Since they have filtered out information/stimuli which flies in the face of their own reasoning, it is difficult to influence their narrow view of the world. The only thing that might change them is having to mix with others who are different, for example in the workplace, or if their livelihood depended upon them having another perspective.

That is also why conflict among partners in the home remains entrenched for ages. It is really most difficult to change personal perception, especially when someone does not want to see an alternative way of thinking, or to believe otherwise, because to do so would make them feel insecure and vulnerable. They would also lose face, have their firmly-held beliefs debunked or be deprived of the justification they need for reacting or behaving so negatively.

The one thing to recognise beyond a doubt is that perception is our reality. It is not a false way of seeing the world but the only viewpoint we have because of our culture, background and beliefs. If someone perceives himself to be a victim of a particular situation, it is their truth and must be accepted as such, and also addressed, until there is evidence to prove otherwise. There is nothing wrong with perception except its appropriateness. Not sharing any other person's reality, we cannot tell someone else how to think by using our own yardstick to deny their experience.

We can only offer our own perception of a situation and agree on a compromise, unless the other person is persuaded to ignore their perception and accept ours instead, or there is firm evidence to the contrary. And that is usually more difficult to achieve.

Do You Tend to Say 'YES' When You Really Want to Say 'NO'?


The two main reasons why we might say ‘YES’ when we want to say ‘NO’ are a lack of confidence and a desire for approval.

When we lack confidence we are deprived of the willpower to be assertive, to be consistent and to actually seek what we want because we fear the consequences of what saying 'no' might bring. We don't want to 'hurt' or 'upset' anyone so we hurt ourselves instead. We are not strong enough to stand up for our own rights and so allow others to dictate the pace, regardless of how unhappy or uncomfortable we might feel.

We also lack the skills to deal with someone who might be more socially adept, or someone we fear, we respect or admire; one who has influence over us. So we are more willing to say 'yes' for a quiet life, even when we instinctively feel that response is wrong. That might please other people, but it is likely to leave us feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with our lives. While saying 'yes' might make someone else happy, if we are yearning to say no, we do ourself no service and engender a lot of stress and confusion in the process.

Controlling environments
The second reason, a desire for approval, stems from being in controlling environments: either with parents, spouses and even bosses. Wherever there is control, there is a desire to please through fear and repression. As we are likely to be expected to do as we are told, the only way we can feel included and valued is by pleasing the significant others around us. That might work for that particular moment in time, or that situation, but it really keeps us feeling inadequate and unhappy with ourselves and making us even less empowered each time we go against our own needs an desires.

Every decision we make carries a responsibility to face the consequences of that decision. Only by facing the consequences of our actions can we then say what we mean and stick by it, and feel better for it too. However, the more we seek approval by simply pleasing others the less fulfilled we will feel and the more frustrating life will appear to be. Most important, we soon lose our own integrity because it is difficult to be honest with others when we are not even being honest with ourselves.

So, do you?

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Are you a welcome doormat for people because you can't say NO?


Many people find it hard to say 'NO' to the requests and demands of others for a variety of reasons, especially the following:

1. A desire for approval.

2. A need to impress.

3. A fear of being excluded or rejected.

4. The need to follow others instead of leading too.

5. The need to align with people they respect and admire.
6. Lack of assertiveness and confidence.

They might want to say no, but, for whatever reason, they keep saying YES, then fume or become resentful about it. Of course, the more they say YES, is the more they will keep getting what they don't like.

Confident people find it easiest to say NO because they are not seeking to impress, and they tend to be assertive in their own needs.

When we keep saying YES, when we really mean no, we lead pressured lives in which we strive to please rather than be ourselves. Eventually that takes its toll on our emotions, while robbing us of the time to actually do the things we really want instead of the things we don't.

Does that apply to you? Can you say NO, easily and sincerely?

Can a core attitude be changed or modified?


A core attitude is very difficult to change because it is tied up with our identity and how we perceive ourselves to be.

Core attitudes are formed from childhood, then dictated by our cultures, both social and occupational, and reinforced by personal belief. Thus we do not get real change just by changing behaviour. That is only a temporary change (like someone trying to give up smoking who keeps stopping and starting again). We'll simply keep returning to that behaviour after a time.

To change any core attitude, we have to change our belief system around it which is usually triggered by greater knowledge and education. We have to be CONVINCED of the necessity for change based upon the perceived benefit or punishment that would come to us when we change.

No one can influence us to change. We have to be predisposed towards that change in the first place to accommodate it. If we change purely because of someone else, we soon come back to behaving the same way again, especially when they are not there with us. Once we can see the reason for change and appreciate it for ourselves, i:e we have a new belief around it, our core attitude will then be affected.

How can one handle serious grieving and intense sorrow?


Q. I wonder if anyone has any great ideas regarding the handling of very serious grieving that has gone on for a long time and has damaged the person? Everyone knows of support groups, therapy, medications, exercise, finding laughter and the like...but is there anyone who has a new or solid tested 'cure' in dispelling serious grief, profound sadness, intense sorrow or long suffering broken-heartedness? I do carry a lot of guilt myself in the way that I could have done a lot differently in my life and saved a lot of heartache for myself and others. But this question arises out of a desire to help others, too.

A. Many people who stay grieving for an unduly long time are likely to be reacting to a lot of guilt they feel and have no way of overcoming, and so grieving endlessly makes up for that feeling of impotence in resolving that guilt. Time heals every pain because we are on a journey and everything is designed to help our development on that journey. It means whatever happens to us, we have to move on from it because life has to go on. We cannot be stuck in that time frame forever, otherwise we take our life for granted, we take every blessing we have for granted and we wouldn't really have any future.

Yet, in view of the fact that nothing in life is guaranteed, we have to make use of each moment fully. Allowing grief to overtake us on and on simply robs us of a life when we should be celebrating that person's life with joy, not just focusing on their death. In other words: "Smile, because they lived, not cry because they died." We all have to die at some point and the only way we can truly appreciate life is to grieve for someone and move swiftly along to celebrate their presence, not get mired in negative thoughts which make us feel even worse, yet doesn't bring them back.

As to your statement that you feel some guilt about your past because you could have done things differently. That is rather sad, yet avoidable. You are using hindsight, and the new you NOW, to judge that person back there which never serves any purpose. If you could have done anything differently, you would have done it. You acted the only way you did then because you felt that was the only way you could express yourself or draw attention to you at the time. You did not have the maturity, information, vision, knowledge or experience that you have now. So it is pointless ever looking backwards and blaming the younger you with your older self. It is not only unfair, but a pretty futile exercise.

The best way to cope with an unhappy past is simply to learn from it and endeavour to improve on it. Otherwise the guilt becomes a kind of unmoving morass; a means of beating yourself up without really changing anything in the long run, except to get stuck in that guilt. I always remember that the past is for reference, not for residence, and leave it right where it is because it only exists inside our heads, nowhere else.

The best way to cope with grief is to grieve as much as one wishes, but for as brief a time as possible, and celebrate for as long as possible. It then puts things in a much better perspective while allowing yourself to move on with fond memories of the loved one.

How Do I Make Unwanted Neighbours Leave?


Q. Our landlord and his wife are very very nice people. They helped us a lot and I don't want to make anyone mad. She is always coming down to my place, for hours, like anywhere between 5-8 hours each time she comes down. Their 5 year old son is a huge brat. They used to live in my house before we moved in and act like they still live here. I am dreading them now.

A. You MUST say something at some point, and sooner rather than later. I would have gone off my head by now if someone spends so much time at my house. If you don't say anything it will begin to affect the quality of your life badly because you will find yourself with less and less time, and less and less resources, for your own family. Pointless complaining in silence, or quietly. Nothing will ever happen because you are simply reinforcing the behaviour each day with your silence. Hence you will continue to get more of the same.

First thing to do next time they come round, within an hour of them being there, is to sit them down and say something like this. "I really value you both as my neighbour. You are lovely people and we have shared some great times together. But I am beginning to feel a little stressed with life at present because I am finding that I do not have enough time to do the important things for my family, and in the house, at the moment because of your long visits. I am feeling very anxious about it as it is beginning to make me feel irritable. So, can I ask you a small favour, which will help us spend more quality time together? When you do come to visit, I can only spend an hour with you, maybe two on a good day. But I cannot have you round for so long anymore. Otherwise, if this continues, I will be only able to see you occasionally on a weekend. It means that when we meet up, I have the time for you then. I hope you understand that and thanks for your support as a friend."

If they still insist on doing coming round to suit themselves, just don't open your door a few times when they come round. Pretend you're not there and then only have them in when you're ready to do so. After an hour, say you have to get ready as you're going out and can you see them another day and physically say goodbye at the door to them. My guess is that you are so used to each other, or you feel obligated for their kindness, and also because they are your landlord, you feel afraid to tell them how you feel. But if they don't know how you feel, and you are getting stressed, they cannot act any differently. It is always best to be honest, and FIRM, with people otherwise you simply get more of what you don't want as they will keep doing what makes them happy, regardless of its effect on you.

You are entitled to the life you want, and your privacy too, not what others impose upon you. Bite the bullet with this one, now!

Should I Get Upset on my Birthday?


Q. Today is my birthday and all I want to do is cry. My family has remembered my birthday but I haven't gotten one single card from anyone. I know money is tight and I didn't ask for anything, just to be happy and celebrate with friends and family, and I've got nothing. It's just like another day to them, nothing special.

A. You're not expecting too much at all, but I wonder if they are all planning a big surprise for you later in the day why you have had nothing from anyone? Seems a bit unusual. Normally at least one person gives a card, even if others don't. You say your family has remembered your birthday, so isn't that the most important thing? What about others whose relatives forget their birthdays?

Birthdays are very important, and I can understand why you would feel badly on yours if no one seems to bother to celebrate it. But cards and presents etc., do not constitute love and care. You could have been in a family where you are showered with gifts but treated like crap because there is no real love and appreciation for you. So instead of crying and feeling badly, or being jealous of others, put your birthday in perspective. Line it up against all the other people who do not even have parents to celebrate with because they are dead, who are handicapped in some way, who are terribly poor and cannot even afford food, let alone a card and do something different instead.

Rather than expecting to GET on your birthday, why not decide to GIVE something. Celebrate your wonderful birthday by giving someone your smile, your hug, your love and, most of all, your appreciation and value. Why not do something for them you wouldn't normally do? That person would probably be so shocked that you would make their day big-time, make a huge difference to THEIR life, instead of just expecting to take from them. Often we are so busy taking we forget how little we give to others, always expecting them to treat us well, yet not seeing their needs at all.

The best way to celebrate special occasions is to show GRATITUDE for the blessings we have, for the parents and relatives there for us, for everything we have been given and perhaps take for granted and, above all, to give thanks for waking up alive and breathing! If we take nothing for granted in our lives, yet are happy and grateful for what we have, we will always get more. Above all, we will also have an effect on the lives of those around us, as it won't just be about what we want, but also about what we can give. The more we give out is the more things come back to us, especially when we least expect it.

When you are older and can afford it, you can always have the kind of birthday you want. In the meantime, be proud of what you have and don't knock it. Just because you don't have what you might want does not mean the end of the world. You don't know the pain your Mom might be going through now, though she might not show you anything.

So instead of crying, go and tell the important people around you how much you appreciate them, love them and are happy that they are in your life, and see how different you feel. Hug your Mom and tell her how wonderful it is to have her there. It's not what happens on a birthday that really matters. It's what happens on the other 364 days of each year!

Congratulations or Sympathy? Which one is due?


Q. There's this couple with a 3 year old child who moved into our apartment complex around a year back. In the course of our conversations, they have made it very clear that they did not want another child. Well, guess what? The lady's pregnant. Now, what does a normal person do? I congratulated her. And she didn't like it!!! Her response was...'You know very well we didn't want another baby....so what's the point of congratulating us?' What would you do?

A. How awful for you. I can understand your predicament, especially in view of her reaction. But she was right, in a way. She did confide in you that she did not want another child, "made it very clear", so unless she told you otherwise, you would have to assume that the situation remained the same. Without the interactive skills to deal with the situation, I can appreciate why you would offer congrats and be surprised at her reaction to it.

But the correct response, the minute she told you she was pregnant, was to say: "And how do you feel about it, in view of what you told me?"

Then you would have allowed her to be honest and you would have discovered that congratulations would have been the last thing she wanted. Then follow up with something like: "What happens now, or do you need more time to work it out? I am very happy with you being pregnant, but obviously sad at your situation which must be confusing for you. But I am here to talk whenever you wish to."

That would prevent her being judged and also emphasise that she does have a friend she can turn to. Then things might not look so bad to her. Most important, talking to her regularly would have helped her to crystalise her thoughts and highlight the options she has available. Who knows, with a little bit of regular emotional support from you as a friend, she could even change her mind about her situation and welcome the baby. Often it is simply fear of our situation, of being isolated and unable to cope and fear of the future which make many parents fear more children. A little bit of encouragement could work wonders in many cases, without imposing our desires on them.

Don't worry too much about her being angry. She probably needs someone to be angry with - displaced stress - and you fell straight into it. Just apologise sincerely and then try and talk to her, to comfort her and see how she feels. Admit your were a little hasty and clumsy in your response and you do sympathise with her position. She sounds as though she could do with this reassurance and friendship just now.

As a teenager, why do I become so overly obsessed with guys?


Q. I’m a 15 year old girl, and anytime even just some random guy makes me feel “special” for like a minute, I automatically become obsessed with them. It’s horrible and I really need to know the reason why I become so overly obsessed with guys, just if they like give me a friendly kiss on the cheek or a friendly hug. I take everything so deeply and make things into such big deals, so I always become like obsessed with different guys every month. Aside from this horrible trait, I’m actually a very mature young woman, and I’m really good and cool about dealing with things besides for this.

A. You have the answer in your own statement: “anytime even just some random guy makes me feel “special” for like a minute, I automatically become obsessed with them. “

You have a natural desire to belong, to be wanted, to be valued and a yearning to feel significant (‘special’). You obviously do not get these enough where it matters to you most: whether from parents, relatives, friends or otherwise, and you feel undervalued and lacking in positive attention. Hence when you get it from someone you also like, it becomes a big deal for you.

The second reason is because you have little self-love, perhaps caused by a lack praise, affection and affirmation in your life. When self love is lacking, the idea of someone else loving and appreciating us becomes very significant so that we are inclined to interpret every kind act as something major and unwittingly send out needy signals. Unfortunately, guys are quickly turned off by neediness or any kind of ‘obsession’. It becomes claustrophobic for them, which gradually turns your actions against you by making you seem less attractive.

Your actions stem from low confidence and low self-esteem, which obviously need building up so you need to start valuing yourself more, to make yourself feel special and not wait on others to do it for you. Perhaps you have become too self-critical, a perfectionist or always finding fault with yourself. When someone admires you, that then assumes great importance and you start putting them on a pedestal which is not good for your esteem in the end.

Always remember that YOU are the cake, guys are the icing, and icing is NOT mandatory. You don’t have to have icing, but it’s lovely to have it in moderation. The minute you start treating others as if they are the cake, as if you cannot do without them, and as if they mean the whole world to you, you put them above you and then make yourself feel inadequate.

As to being ‘mature’, yes, you are obviously bright and intelligent, intellectually mature perhaps, but you are still immature emotionally, which is why you are experiencing this need to be valued on such a high level. An emotionally mature 15 year old would realise that this is a crucial point in her life when she has to prepare for her future: educationally and professionally; to concentrate on studies, in particular, the kind of stuff to get her into college and into the career she values. Boys would take a back seat at this time until later. The fact that they are at the forefront for you suggests strong emotional needs of self-value which are not being fulfilled at present.

Start learning to value yourself, by not being so critically self-focused. Look outwards to others instead. Hang out with friends who appreciate you, and to appreciate your talents, your looks and who you are. Join clubs and activities where you can start doing things for others and building your confidence in that way; find friends and opportunities where you can be valued and accepted as you are. It’s not an easy thing to do at the beginning, but if you do something to value yourself every day, no matter how small, and to treat yourself as a unique and important person - which you are! - you won’t then feel you have to become ‘obsessed’ with anyone. Above all, you will learn when someone REALLY likes you and how to react to that.

You can get more information on improving your confidence and esteem from Confidence-Guide.com.

Should Name Brands And Exclusive Labels Matter?


Q. I know a lot of people who won't wear anything that's not name branded. I personally don't care. I've seen a lot of shirts that are nicer for cheaper. I can buy 2-3 pairs of pants at a good store like Garage, or I could buy one pair the same amount of money at an expensive store. Both equally look good on me. Do you, or your children, for that matter, live for labels?

A. That's a very healthy attitude to have, in buying both. It shows common sense and flexibility. People who will wear nothing but name brands tend to be low in self esteem, are seeking approval and need something to make them feel significant - to be part of a select group. As brand names tend to be more expensive than other clothing, that fulfils the purpose of putting the wearers 'above' others and keeping them feeling exclusive. But what is a named brand of clothing, except the person's name who has designed it? And, in today's world, he/she could be a criminal or pervert on the quiet, could even be a racketeer or someone pretty unsavoury, especially if they are from another country and we know nothing about them. Why would I wish to promote their name for the sake of it?

It is also about the economy. When we support only the ones who are already making the money, we kill the business of smaller traders and local entrepreneurs who cannot compete with the big names, and rob our locality of jobs and growth. There is nothing wrong with buying all types of accessories, both branded and standard, but when one obsessively buys only one type for spurious reasons, especially to suggest superiority, they are saying an awful lot about their insecurities and low esteem. It is not clothes that make us who we are, but the personality and character that we have.

On the other hand, people who insist on just buying cheaper items because they think it's a waste of money to buy expensively, or out of pure principle against shopping at expensive stores, are really being inverted snobs to justify their biased perspective. When we need anything in life it should not be about the cost, per se, but about the VALUE we get from it, and the two are not the same. We can pay tons for an item which would probably give us little value in enjoyment and good feeling, yet buy something very cheaply which gives great joy. So one should not have any hard and fast rules around shopping except living within one's budget and getting the best value for that money!

I buy all kinds of labels, known and unknown. It simply depends on whether the item appeals to me or not, and the amount of money I have at the time. When I was presenting annual awards, what I regarded as very special occasions, I used to have my gowns specially made for between $700 and $1000 each. All my other clothes I have bought for whatever price they were. Only yesterday I bought two amazing pairs of shoes for $8 each that had been reduced. Yet I have paid up to $250 for shoes if I really liked them. Life is about variety and when we get stuck in one mode of life and one mindset, whether cheap or expensive, we miss out on an awful lot else in the process.

Why I hate the real world!


Q. I came to the conclusion that I simply hate the real world. I like it here in my virtual world because I find more understanding here. I went on a walk in a park just to take some fresh air. We were walking back home when a gipsy smacked me in the face and started laughing with his friends. If this is the world we live in then, sad and bitter, I would rather not live in it. I couldn't go to the police because as always they will do nothing ....and no one around me did or say a thing...

A. That must have been really awful for you, and I am not sure what I would have done in the situation except kicked him in the goolies where it hurts most! I would have been so angry, but I guess any reaction might have inflamed the situation. I am not surprised that you would feel angry and annoyed at that, because that was just a bully picking on anyone he saw that would be fair game to him without caring about the consequences.

Normal people are not like that. So please don't use his behaviour to judge the world. I have had the greatest respect and treatment from almost everyone I meet in my world. So, for me, the world is a very beautiful place. I always try to treat everyone with respect and love too. I treat everyone as a great person until they show me otherwise. I try not to judge others, or expect the worse from them, and often I am very surprised by the level of human love and kindness I experience.

Don't condemn our world through one person's actions because we are all different and unique. Furthermore, if you only focus on the potential evil you could experience, that is all you are likely to get in life as we only attract what we focus on. So try not to dwell on negativity too much. Start thinking of wonderful people and draw those to you instead. The world is full of amazing things and people than just the bullies. It is fear that keeps us in a negative world. Just give out as much positive vibes as you can, as much love and laughter as you can, and see what comes back at you. You could be very surprised.

Thanks for sharing this and I hope your day is magical!


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