Reality Check: May I Persuade You?

It would be difficult to ignore all of the persuasive messages that come into our lives, wouldn’t it? Many of those messages are focused on getting us to do something, often it’s to buy something.
Marketing ads have a clear purpose—they want to persuade us to trade our money for their product or service. I recently heard such an ad that I thought quite persuasive. I’ll describe it for you; you decide whether you find it persuasive, too.
The ad tells a story, and while I can’t remember exact details, it went something like this: Continue reading

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Reality Check: For the Hundredth Time

Are you persistent? Or are you stubborn? It takes wisdom to tell the difference between that positive attribute (persistence) and the negative one (stubbornness, also known as pig-headedness!)
Let’s say we’re trying something new: perhaps it’s poetry-writing, cabinet-making, or Spanish-speaking. We start with great enthusiasm. Initially, we progress by leaps and bounds. If we happen to be a “natural” at this activity, it can feel like a signal: “I’m meant to be doing this.”
But what if we don’t make progress? Continue reading

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Reality Check: When Someone Wants to Pick a Fight

Do you know someone who wants to pick a fight? Perhaps there’s somebody in your family or at work who wants to argue. Some people enjoy a fight. But the fact that someone wants to fight with you doesn’t mean that you have to indulge them. You have choice.
Declining to fight can feel uncomfortable, especially if it’s new to you. But fighting is usually uncomfortable anyway, so it’s up to you to weigh which discomfort you’d rather live with in the long run. If the fight is making your life miserable and you don’t see how to avoid it, here are two suggestions. Continue reading

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Reality Check: “Good Thing” Accountability

Accountability. We know it’s good for us. Yet, it sounds kind of naggy and judgey. Like, “You said you’d do this and now I’m holding you accountable. So ‘fess up; did you do what you said you would do?”
It’s not that accountability is bad. Having an accountability buddy—a friend who’ll remind us of our commitment—is helpful. If we want to exercise regularly, spend time studying or call mom every day, we’re more likely to follow through when we know we’ll need to account for what we’ve done or not done. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Overcoming Reach-Out Hesitancy

Even when our lives are going poorly, it’s still possible to feel satisfied if we have good connections with people.
Dr. Wm. Glasser refers to a basic need for love and belonging. While he suggests that the need is universal, the specifics of how we satisfy it can differ from person to person. Some need many close relationships; others need only one to satisfy this need.
However, if we consider only close relationships, we might dismiss the value of our casual connections. For example, we see people at work, school, in the neighbourhood or at social events. We often form friendships there, and while we share the joy of new babies and the sadness of deaths and illnesses, we don’t necessarily share heart-to-heart confidences. Maybe we hear a little news or gossip that brightens our day. Do those interactions make a difference in our lives?
My instinctive belief has been that they do matter. That was reinforced by a study recently published by the American Psychological Association (APA) titled, “The Surprise of Reaching Out: Appreciated More Than We Think.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: True to Our Chosen Self

You’ve heard the slogan, “Be true to yourself.” Combine that with a picture of a beautiful person gazing into a magnificent nature scene and you have a great poster.
It sounds like good advice, too. I mean, you’d hardly advise someone to “be false to yourself,” would you?
Let’s examine it more carefully, though. What does being true to yourself mean? Is it effective advice for someone who wants to live a satisfying life? Continue reading

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Reality Check: When the Choice Isn’t Clear

How do you make decisions? We’re influenced by experience, preferences, perhaps trustworthy advice. And there are emotions, too. When we’re feeling fearful, angry or resentful, we likely won’t make the same decisions as when we are brimming with confidence, love, and hope.
Regardless of the process, for many decisions our options are clear and we choose—for better or worse.
However, sometimes we face decisions where choices aren’t clear. Despite listing pros and cons, seeking advice and having gut feelings, we don’t know what to do.
If so, here’s a thought for you. In Take Charge of Your Life, Dr. Glasser distinguishes between “true conflict” and “false conflict.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: Baggage Handling

When we’re young and excited about accumulating stuff, it’s hard to imagine that someday, we’ll view those once-precious objects that we struggled to acquire as just taking up space.
The more room we have for stuff, the more stuff we accumulate. Stuff expands to fill the space available, you know.
Many people are familiar with downsizing, whether they want to or not. It’s a choice-making process—what to keep, what goes. It can be difficult, especially if your values include never getting rid of anything while it still has a scrap of usefulness left. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Distinguishing Events from Responses

“The pandemic affected almost every aspect of our lives.” Like you, I’ve heard statements similar to that over recent years. It’s been said both in casual conversations and in media. This time, for some reason, it struck me as being a little off. “Is that really true?” I wondered.
Now you’re thinking, “That’s a silly comment. Of course it’s true! Just look around; see all that’s changed.” You would be correct. Many lives have changed; yours and mine among them.
However, my question isn’t about whether our lives have changed. My curiosity is: Are the changes due to the pandemic? Or are many of the changes due to responses to the pandemic? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Case for Living Optimistically

Are you surrounded by messages of hope or messages of disaster? Maybe you’re thinking of a tragic story or situation right now. After all, good news doesn’t seem to abound on the TV screen, facebook page, or even in the newspaper!
If we have influences in our life that lead us to believe that we have a future of optimism and opportunity, then we’ll likely take different actions than if we anticipate a future of fear and gloom, constantly expecting catastrophe right around the corner.
I was reminded of how fear affects action by a recent Psychology Today article entitled Fear Shrinks Life by Dr. Scott F. Stanley. He says, “Having hope for the future affects how we live in the present…” He also makes the excellent point that the world is a mess, but…it has been for a long time! Continue reading

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