Reality Check: When you tell yourself a story

“Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.” If you’re a Canadian folk song aficionado of a certain age, you may be humming that Stan Rogers song right now. The Mary Ellen Carter isn’t just a catchy tune; it tells a story: the loss of a fishing boat; the betrayal of the owners who left her to “a sorry grave;” and the determination of the crew to lift her up and restore her to former glory.
Disaster. Betrayal. Loyalty. Determination. Triumph.
Those elements make for an inspirational story, don’t they? Whether truth or fiction, stories can motivate us by sending the message that good can emerge from bad. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Lessons from an Ice Cube

How’s your motivation? Are you full of get-up and go, with plans and actions to get to your goals? Or are you listless or discouraged, where “What’s the use” comes to mind?
Which state would you prefer? And if one is more effective than the other, do you have any control over which one you’re in? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Mixed Messages

We have lots of ways to communicate. We use words, of course, both written and spoken. But we also communicate through facial expressions, tone, and actions. If you’re not sure how we communicate using actions, think about the message sent by a slamming door. That’s communication, isn’t it? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Earning and Power

“It’s just a summer job to earn some money.” The young man on the flagging crew knows that his long hot days on the road are not his career. Cheerfully, he filled me in about the university program that will take him to a satisfying career in a few years.
This lad isn’t alone to recognize that attaining a worthwhile long-term goal often involves giving up gratification now in exchange for greater long-term gratification in future. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Disagreements Close to Home

People argue. That’s no surprise; we have different opinions. Discussing opinions can be useful, enlightening, and fun!
However, disputes can also be destructive, even permanently damaging relationships. Political and cultural issues—views of entitlements, responsibilities, political correctness, justice—are especially fertile ground for conflict.
Kris and Ollie see each other at holidays when the family gets together to eat, laugh, and argue. Good times!
However, over the years, the tone of the arguments has changed. Now, when Kris comes from university and talks to Ollie on the farm, the discussion is hostile rather than good-natured. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Opinions at Work

Last post, I introduced Kris and Ollie—two people with different opinions. There are many types of relationships where you can find differing opinions. Today, I’ll look at Kris and Ollie as coworkers.
The two were getting along fine until one day at coffee break. An issue came up where they took opposite positions. They looked at each other in disbelief. “How could someone I thought I knew be so wrong?” they both wondered.
Now, Kris and Ollie barely speak. While they were never close friends, this difference has affected how they work together. The atmosphere has moved from easygoing toward hostility.
What to do? We could start by asking whether Kris and Ollie both want to address the conflict. They don’t have to. Put bluntly, they’ve been brought together to do a job for which they are paid. We don’t necessarily get to work with people who agree with us. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Joy of Diverse Opinions

Wouldn’t it be great if we all agreed? We’d live in peace and harmony! However, to quote Dr. Glasser, “We all want a perfect world populated by perfect people like us, but that world has never existed. If it did, there would be no need for psychotherapy.”
People have different opinions. You and I probably have different opinions. I don’t know that for sure, but I’m willing to bet we can find something that we disagree on. For example, we might disagree about whether it’s appropriate to bet about finding disagreement! Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Bare Essentials

What is essential for you? Think for a moment. What pops up? Perhaps people come to your mind—friends, family, people we rely on for help and companionship, who keep our spirits up and make our lives worth living.
What else comes to mind? Survival basics are probably on your list. We need air, water, food, shelter, and so on. There are other things too. Perhaps you believe that work is an essential in your life. Interaction with young people is essential for some; for others not so much. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Compartments for Life

One stunningly beautiful day recently, I noticed that I wasn’t fully appreciating the warmth and the beauty. Instead, I was ruminating. The thoughts popping into my head all had to do with concerns and difficulties.
Have you noticed that yourself?
All of us have worries. Every one of us has difficulties. Over this last year, concerns about health and medical issues have been top of mind for many people.
But there are plenty of other things to fret about as well, whether you are fretting for yourself or about others. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Getting in the Mood

Are we prisoners of our moods?
Some days we feel great from the moment we wake up; others not so much. Why? We could blame the weather. Maybe it’s that incomprehensible jumble of hormones inside our bodies. Or it could be after-effects of last night’s pizza!
Events can also have an influence. Compare a day when there’s no line at the coffee counter and you have a pleasant conversation versus another day when your new shoes get splashed and somebody scowls at you. Continue reading

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