How to Turn Worrying into a Valuable Tool

2878520711_fbc43352c1_zI was an expert at worrying.

Many of my clients are experts at worrying too.

Which means that I really had to work on my worrying issue

Martha Beck gave me some useful insights. She describes the difference between dirty fears and clean fears.

Clean fears are real and imminent.

Like:  if you just received a call to say that your partner has been in an accident, your fear would be clean and pure and appropriate.

Clean fears come from situations that do exist – they have happened.

Dirty fears are imagined fears.

You can recognize these by noticing the thoughts that start with “What if… “.

The thing you are worrying about HAS NOT HAPPENED.

Like, “What if someone walks into my house with a gun?”

Even though I live in a place with a high crime rate, the reality is that for only 15 minutes of my entire life have I had a gun pointed at me. Let’s see… I’m 5o-ish so I’ve lived for over  3400 days, which translates to around  4 800 000 minutes. So for 0.0003% of my life lived so far have I been in true and immediate danger. Not that significant, is it? And not worth while worrying about every day and causing myself inappropriate and continuous anxiety.

And yet it’s so easy, for me, to slip into an anxiety-induced state by worrying about if the kids are high-jacked, or if my parents die or if we get robbed again, or if my husband gets ill… and on and on and on I go.

Wasted time, wasted energy and unnecessary anxiety.

There are far better ways to re-direct my energy.

How about spending that time picturing how life will be when I have achieved the goal I am working on. How about thinking about ways to make my relationship stronger. How about picturing myself relaxing on the beach at my next holiday destination.

The process is the same as worrying – it’s basically imagining.

Thinking about these kinds of scenarious results in good emotions, not anxious ones.

Worrying is spending time thinking about stuff that hasn’t happened – using your imagination.

Visualisation is  spending time thinking about stuff that hasn’t happened – using your imagination.

The only difference between worrying and visualising is the outcome.

Visualising makes you feel good. Worrying makes you feel bad.

The outcome of worrying is anxiety and fear.

The outcome of visualizing is motivation and happiness (or something similar).

The good news is – if you know how to worry then you know how to visualize!

All you have to do is to change the topic you are thinking about.

If you notice that you are imagining a situation and a pit of anxiety is developing in your stomach: Stop thinking.

Decide to think about something else, something that calms your feelings, that makes you feel good. You can start in the same way as you do when you worry – by thinking “What if ”

  • “What if I created the perfect dinner party. Hmm lets see – who will I invite ……  “
  • “What if I prepared so well for my presentation. When I walk up to the mic I am calm, ready to give my all…. “
  • “What if I was at the spa today. I’d choose a full body massage …”

As soon as you are aware that you are worrying, stop immediately, without berating yourself, and consciously change your thoughts to envisioning a brighter future.

The more you do the easier it will become.

The gift you receive from putting in the work to change what you are imagining is simple – feeing good.

“Worry never robs tomorrow
of its sorrow,
it only saps today
of its joy.”
Leo Buscaglia

Photo from Flickr/Creative Commons

Posted in Feelings, Happiness, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 4 Comments

Look at what you have done

11314410723_83edd6522a_zYou are not powerless. Perhaps you are choosing to do nothing.

People around me are moaning about the state of the country. Social media are blaring out non-stop negativity about how bad everything is. Hate, crime, violence, xenophobia – it’s all there.

If you think you can do nothing, think again.

If you had been grocery shopping with me the other day, you would have seen something that I found quite upsetting.

I was in a well-known supermarket at the end of Republic Road. Standing a little impatiently in the queue, I was doing what I love doing – watching people’s interactions.

I heard a commotion at one of the tills. A man was performing, shouting very loudly at the teller, complaining bitterly about the service. Making quite a spectacle of himself. Name-calling and blaming. Disrespecting and awful.

I looked at the teller’s face. Dead-pan. (By the way – teenagers also do this beautifully if you yell and scream at them) She literally ignored him, took his money and moved on.

Looking closer though, I could see tell-tale signs that she was upset – clenching her teeth, she looked down to hide her teary eyes.

I’m not saying that you mustn’t complain if you are unhappy about something. It’s important to be able to effectively lodge a complaint so that the issue can be sorted out. There is a, however, a constructive way to do this (watch out for this in a forthcoming newsletter)

What I don’t think this man was aware of was how destructive he was being.

All he had to do was look closely at the teller’s face to see the effect he was having on her. But he was so busy with his own internal being and with parading the fact that he was wronged, that he forgot to treat this human being with compassion and respect.

The core of problems in this country and the world is a lack of compassion and respect for others.

You can make a difference to our country. Here’s what to do:


There is only one way to know how you are impacting on others and that is to LOOK.

Look at their faces. Notice the colour changes, the expression in the eyes, the tilt of the head, the breathing, the expression – there is so much to see.

Doing this will give you feedback about how others are experiencing you.

Once you become aware of how other’s are experiencing you, you can choose to always make it a positive experience.


If you treat people with compassion, rather that resistance and disrespect – you will find yourself in winning situations. There is incredible power in compassion.

Years ago I attended a workshop at Wits University with Martha Beck. I remember she taught us the power of compassion with a simple exercise. I was excited to find a demo of this exercise on YouTube

You can see it here.


Teach others about these three steps. Encourage your friends and families to practice compassion and respect. Encourage them to teach others to do this too. The more you do, the more people who adopt this simple strategy, the happier we will be as a nation.

What are you doing to make your country a better place?

You are not powerless. If there is nothing else y0u can do, you can at least do this.

You can choose to make a difference with every person you meet.

Look at the faces of people you interact with, treat them with compassion and respect, and encourage others to do the same.

Join me – let’s do it!

Love and compassion are necessities,
not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.

Dalai Lama

 Photo from Flickr

Posted in awareness, Communication, Life Mastery, Make a difference | 6 Comments

Why defending yourself destroys your relationship…

stick_figure_heartbreak_4444(1)Pam was feeling upset. She and Craig just had an argument. In fact, she was also feeling confused. She thought she was doing the right thing. He obviously didn’t.

They’d been at a lunch with friends earlier. She was telling everyone how amazing Craig was – he’d just got a promotion, he was doing so well, with a HUGE increase on top of it all.

When they got home, he complained angrily, “I really hate it when you tell everyone my personal stuff. Can’t you keep your mouth closed for once?”

Pam, hurt and surprised, immediately defended herself. “But I am so proud of you. You just don’t appreciate what I do for you. You’re so nasty. I can never do anything right in your eyes.”

Secretly she also thought about the article (probably a post somewhere on this blog!!) she had read which wrote that men liked to be praised in front of other people. It made them feel appreciated. So much for that wisdom!!

Neither of them spoke much after that, both fuming inwardy.

You may have had similar conversations with your partner at some time or another. I know I have.

Now I could unpack both parties’ sentences and look at a better way of saying this, but for this post I will focus on the fact that Pam defended herself.

What’s the problem with the way Pam responded to Craig’s complaint?

  • Craig was not heard. He raised a problem with the hope that the two of them could sort it out. Pam did not acknowledge that he was raising an issue. In fact she turned the issue around and blamed him for something else. She literally attacked him back.
  • The problem was not tackled. It was ignored and will remain unsolved. It IS going to pop up again in the future.
  • Pam did not take any responsibility for upsetting Craig. She was not being accountable. She was merely shifting blame.
  • Instead of dealing with the current issue, Pam introduced more issues.
  • The bond between the two has been damaged and both parties are feeling unheard, unappreciated and upset. The chance of their relationship spiraling downwards is strong.

The way Pam handled the issue is destructive.

How could she have handled this in a more constructive way?

Craig complained angrily, “I really hate it when you tell everyone my personal stuff. Can’t you keep your mouth closed for once?”

Pam responds, “I never realized this would upset you. Can you tell me more?”

Pam allows Craig to explain what was going on for him. She LISTENS to him.

Pam closes the conversation: “Thank you for sharing that. I understand where you are coming from. I apologize and will take care in the future.”

How does this response play out in the relationship?

  • Craig feels heard. He raised a problem with the hope that the two of them could sort it out. Pam acknowledges the issue.
  • No-one likes to be criticized. However, it’s important to see that criticism is an opportunity for feedback. It is an opportunity to grow and learn. It is an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you. Stay grounded and listen.
  • Pam invited Craig to explain. The problem was tackled. It will only come up again if Pam does not honour her commitment to take care with what she tells people.
  • Pam takes responsibility for talking about Craig’s stuff. She demonstrates accountability for her actions.
  •  Only one issue is dealt with and is dealt with until it is solved in some manner.
  • The bond between the two is stronger. Both parties are feeling heard and acknowledged. Their relationship is on a sturdy footing. The way that Pam handled the criticism is constructive for both of them and for the relationship.

Defending yourself destroys your relationship.

Don’t do it.

Criticism may not be agreeable,
but it is necessary.
It fulfils the same function
as pain in the human body.
It calls attention
to an unhealthy state of things.

Winston Churchill

Posted in Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships | 4 Comments

Help – I’m out of control

DaveBikeYou might think that I am going through  a mid-life crisis. You might think I’m being rather silly. You might think I’m plain ridiculous.

Maybe I am. Maybe not.

Almost every article I have written is about me sharing some pearls of wisdom or giving some advice. So I’ve been thinking that you could give me some advice this time – just leave a comment with your thoughts. Please!  x

Here’s the issue:

The kids have (almost) left home. My husband and I are doing all sorts of things that we haven’t done in years or even ever in some cases.

Hey – keep your mind on the straight and narrow please!

My husband has always had a motor bike sitting in the yard getting dusty. Now its been dusted off and some Sundays we go for a ride. We’ve found two other couples that go with us. Each couple takes a turn to plan the route and then feed us afterwards. There’s a lot of fun, banter and excitement as we get closer to the day of the ride.

Now we’ve all purchased new, better bikes (which are all old – er – I mean classic – better use the right term!!)

The problem is – I’m such a nervous passenger.

I close my eyes when we go round a corner. I grip on so tightly I get sore shoulders and arms and my poor husband battles to breathe… which is not such a good idea when he is driving!

Truth be told, I’m quite a nervous passenger in a car too.

I know exactly what the problem is.

It’s because I’m not in control of the wheel.

So I have control issues I’m embarrassed to say.

There were brief moments when we rode on Sunday when I relaxed and  enjoyed the scenery. I want more of those – in fact I want to enjoy the whole ride.

I want to know how to lean in when we go round a corner instead of lean the other way – it would almost be a miracle if I could learn to do this!

So I wondered if you could comment and give me some ideas  how to relax more on a bike.

How do you accept and relax, in general, when you are not in control?

Share your thoughts…

If everything seems under control,
you’re just not going fast enough.

Mario Andretti

Posted in awareness, Balance, Feelings, Life Mastery, Visualizing | 18 Comments

5 Ways to Walk a Labyrinth

2015 01 24 (22)Many, many years ago I walked my first labyrinth.

We wandered onto a farm in the Magaliesberg one Sunday whilst exploring the area. I had never seen a labyrinth before and was curious.

There were no signs or instructions – just a path which invited walking. As I walked back and forth and round following the path, I felt a sense of peace and calm.

I have been hooked ever since.

Now, whenever I come across a labyrinth, I will walk it.

What is a labyrinth?

It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally.

Last year, sometime, I said out loud: “I would love to have my own labyrinth”.

Now I do! Thank you to the man who makes my dreams come true.

 2015 02 14and15 (7)On Sunday, after 5 months in the making,  we officially opened the labyrinth, pictured here. The labyrinth was completed with the gift of a beautiful solid bench from my friends.

Few things can more rewarding than to create a labyrinth and walk it afterwards. The love and care that go into the building – and in the walking – add to the transformative benefits of the labyrinth.

If you are ever lucky enough to come across a labyrinth on your travels, here’s what you can do:

Some ideas for walking a labyrinth

  1. A prayer walk: Churches around the world have built labyrinths as an aid to prayer. They are even used by people as a substitute for going on a pilgrimage. Take the time  as you walk to connect to God, to converse with God, to thank God.
  2. A meditation walk: Choose a meaningful phrase/ word to repeat as you walk. When you reach the center, sit and appreciate your present moment. Walk out repeating a different phrase/word.
  3. A clearing of the mind walk: Count as you take each step, up to ten, then back down to 0ne, then up to ten again – over and over. If you find your mind wandering, let go and start counting again. When you reach the center, sit and appreciate your present moment. Walk out counting back and forth again.
  4. A grateful walk: As you walk in, think about everything for which you grateful. Sit in the center, experiencing your blessings. As you walk out, things about different ways you can give back.
  5. Solving an issue walk: As you walk into the center, reflect on your issue. How did it come about? What is your role in it? Who are the other role players? What attitudes/ thoughts are dominating your perspective on the issue? Sit quietly in the center, asking for wisdom and courage to deal with the issue. As you walk out again, brainstorm all the possible solutions – come up with as many as possible. Sleep on it, then make a decision as to what action you will take to shift the issue.

There are many other ways of walking a labyrinth. Be creative. Be open to possibilities. Experiment.

2015 02 14and15 (31)As  I looked over our recently completed labyrinth, I tried another walk: As I walked in I remembered all the special times we’ve had with our friends – weekends away, BIG birthday celebrations, dinners, experiences, sharing of sad times, supporting each other.

Sitting in the middle I let the gratitude I felt for special people in my life wash over me.

As I walked out, I thought of each individual person and asked that they be given whatever I thought the needed in this moment.

Have you ever walked on a labyrinth?

Leave a comment and tell us about it….

Now, you may be thinking, “That’s all very well but I don’t have access to a labyrinth”

No problem!

Do any of the walks in your mind by writing in a journal.

Go for a walk if it is safe to do so.Do one of these exercises as you walk.

Also – look out for a finger labyrinth. You can buy them at spiritual or religious shops. Sit with it on your lap, and do any of the exercises as you slowly run your finger around the path.

There is always a way…


A labyrinth is a path of prayer,
a walking meditation,
a crucible of change,
a watering hole for the spirit
and a mirror of the soul.

Posted in Balance, Fulfillment, Happiness, Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Way of Being | 12 Comments

How to Fight a Smear Campaign

5893263581_249e418b30_zSo someone has got it in for you….

They’re spreading rumors, telling others how bad you are and even reporting you to the authorities.

How best can you fight their campaign?

Let’s have a look at a story that took place in a beautiful little town nestled in the mountains of South Africa.

The town attracts artistic and unusual people who come to live there and find ways to make a living. This in turn attracts tourists…

About a year ago, someone I know well moved to this town.

She is vibrant, creative and energetic. Her restaurant reflects her personality – Delicious food is presented with exceptional flair. Her shop is stocked with quality, interesting and unusual artifacts – far from the usual tourist shop filled with “Made in China” trinkets.

A couple who owned another restaurant not far away (its a small town remember!) did not take kindly to this new intruder. Feeling threatened by the competition they decided to take it out!

An intense smear campaign ensued.

The newcomer was reported to the authorities – people eating at her restaurant supposedly suffered from diarrhoea and alien plants were growing in her garden.

Rumors were started by the couple that the newcomer was having an affair with one of the regular patrons of her restaurant.

An organization held a meeting at the other couple’s restaurant. The organization wanted to meet there regularly. They were told they were welcome – as long as they boycotted the newcomer – her restaurant and shop.

At  church, the couple used their position to influence more townspeople against the newcomer.

The smear campaign was in full force.

Y0u might be wondering

how the new restaurant owner fought back…..

She didn’t!

She used her own value system to guide her behavior. She served the best food; she focused on making her clients happy;  she was friendly and welcoming to anyone who walked into her restaurant. She even suggested the other couple’s restaurant when tourists were asking about places to visit….

Basically she focused on being her very best – and ignored the smear campaign.

3 things recently happened:

  • The townsfolk began supporting the newcomer more and more. Her restaurant is often filled with locals. They come there to buy gifts when needed. They pop in for a cup of the “best coffee”. They offer to do shopping for the owner when they drive over to the bigger town to get their supplies. (Think about it – would you support someone who was capable of a hectic smear campaign – after all – you could be next!)
  • The organization ignored the request of the other couple and decided to hold their monthly meetings at the newcomer’s restaurant instead.
  • Finally a delegation of dignitaries from the higher ranks of the couple’s church visited  them. They were hauled over the coals for their ungracious and destructive behaviors and told to mend their ways. They were asked to start conducting themselves in a manner befitting of the church.

The reality is that the smear campaign backfired. The couple have lost face and are the ones who look bad. The townsfolk don’t trust them anymore.

So if someone has got it in for you….

They’re spreading rumors, telling others how bad you are and even reporting you to the authorities.

How best can you fight their campaign?

The answer is DON’T.

Don’t fight!

Focus rather on being your very best. Hold onto your value-system. Choose to operate from an abundant mentality rather than a scarcity mentality.

The better person will always win in the end.

The better person is not the one busy with the smear-campaign.

 What you don’t see with your eyes,
don’t witness with your mouth.”
A Jewish Proverb

Photo by


Posted in awareness, Choices, Lessons, Life Mastery, Values | 6 Comments

How to Kill Task Avoidance

2204059683_09eb09601b_zThere were some tasks  I just didn’t get done before we went away in December. Every time I looked at my to-do list, I’d see certain items, and then pretend they weren’t there. Invariably I would  choose  something else to do.

The resistance I experienced to doing those tasks was huge.

You can call this all sorts of names – lazy, procrastination, lack of priorities, demotivated...

I left for my holiday. Even though there were loads of family with us (19 to be exact) and we spent a LOT of time preparing and cooking meals, I still managed to  relax.

Our routine was something along the lines of:  up early, long walk on the beach, 9am breakfast, back to the beach to lie in the sun and swim, lunch, sleep and read, tea, sun downers somewhere, supper, early (ish) to bed.

Repeat – day in and day out for 2 weeks!

Back home early in Jan, I sat at my desk and wiped those tasks out in a matter of hours. Easily and effortlessly. Nill resistance.

I didn’t think too much of it until I met a friend for coffee. (New Year’s resolution – make time to see friends!)

She told me the exact same story – almost word for word. She literally couldn’t do some tasks before her leave, and then did them effortlessly after her leave.

Now I was interested. What made the difference?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of this too.

Before December my friend and I were both in an unresourceful state.

In January we were both in a resourceful state.

The No 1 killer of resourceful states is stress. Think about how stressed we get before we go on leave. There is so much to do, not enough time. On top of work, you have to prep and plan for the holiday. The kids are home. The domestics are on leave……

In the last post I spoke about getting into a flow state. This is a resourceful space. This can ONLY happen when you are calm and relaxed.

So how do you shift from an unresourceful state to a resourceful state?

3 Steps to shift into a resourceful state.

  1. Awareness:  Notice when you  are procrastinating, avoiding and feeling overwhelmed. Acknowledge that this is an unresourceful state.
  2. Calm down: One of my clients has become so good at recognizing when she is panicking. She removes herself to a quiet space and breathes herself into calmness. She reflects for a few minutes. Now she is resourceful and goes back to work. It literally takes less than 5 minutes. The key thing is that SHE DOES IT!
  3. Practical arrangements: Arrange your world so that you can work in a flow state for a good period of time. Just like what I have done to write this post; turned the phone to silent, did two things that were urgent so they were away and done, close email, switch on some music, told people in my house that I needed to work quietly for a few hours. Now the writing is coming easily and effortlessly. I can focus. I can concentrate.

Practice this every day – it gets easier and easier.

All that is needed now is to remember this in December! I’ll put a reminder on my phone to read this post again in November!

Or perhaps you can hold me accountable? Ask me in December if I am following my own good advice :)


Stress is an important dragon to slay
or at least tame
in your life.

Marilu Henner

 Photo From Flickr


Posted in awareness, Choices, Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Motivation | 2 Comments

Forget Resolutions, Aim for Flow.

 Throw out those IMG_8069 (2)New year’s Resolutions today!

You know, I know, we all know: they don’t work.

Try something new this year:

Allow 2015 to be filled with countless moments  of deep joy.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

How can you achieve this?

Before we explore that, let’s look at the difference between pleasure and enjoyment.

Pleasure is the instant gratification we look for to compensate for the daily grind that we experience. We experience pleasure when we flop in front of the TV after a long day. We experience please when we eat a packet of crisps to stave off hunger pangs. We look forward to the pleasure of a glass of red wine at the end of a long week.

Pleasure helps us to relax, escape and feel better.  All good but pleasure alone does not leave us feeling contented for long!

Pleasure alone is  shallow and doesn’t provide for growth and enjoyment.

Constant pleasure-seeking will get you into a cycle of needing more and more pleasure to make you happy – but the happiness continues to elude you.

One of the side-effects of pleasure-seeking is boredom – this leads to you taking greater risks in pleasure seeking –  like drinking more, eating more and other addictions. You’ll experience momentary pleasure along with a deeper feeling of anxiety, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

How is enjoyment different to pleasure?

Enjoyment involves learning, stretching and challenging yourself so that you can overcome the limitations you assume you have.

Enjoyment helps you to accomplish aspiring goals. Enjoyment comes when you gain control over your attention. You focus on a task, fully immersed and attentive on what you are doing.

Enjoyment! This is the place of flow. This is the place of growth. This is the place of contentment.

How to achieve enjoyment:

  1. Give yourself a few opportunities everyday where you allow yourself to work without distractions. Allow yourself to become totally immersed in the task. Focus only on the task and nothing else.
  2. Bring curiosity with you. How can you do this better? How can you do this differently?  What can you try that you’ve never tried before?
  3. Choose tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult. When you immerse yourself in these kinds of tasks you’ll expand your personal limits. You’ll achieve more. You’ll learn more.
  4. Whilst you work on this task, become mindful of your senses. Notice your body and what you are experiencing through your senses. This allows your mind to quieten and to focus only on the tasks. You’ll find any anxieties and fears disappear whilst you work like this.
  5. Set yourself an intrinsic reward such as solving the problem in half an hour, or discovering some novel ways of approaching the task. This provides a new challenge for you which makes the work more enjoyable and satisfying.

When you give yourself permission to work like this  in small bursts on a regular basis, you will experience joy.

The more often you do this, the better you will become at getting into a flow state, and the longer you will be able to sustain it.

Joy comes from getting in the flow.

What will this do for your life in general?

  • You experience a greater sense of contentment.
  • Work becomes less about grind and more about contribution.
  • You life has meaning and purpose.

How great a goal is that for 2015??

That’s my goal for this year. Are you joining  me?

For more info: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“The best moments usually occur
when a person’s body or mind
is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort
to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Posted in Life Mastery | 3 Comments

I am grateful…

I am grateful for….DSC02520

  • A husband who knows me better than anyone else on this planet… And still loves me.
  • Three kids who are thriving far away at University ( without me … Well, that’s not SO nice of them… But what can a MOM do? )
  • My parents and extended family – I cherish my time with them.
  • Clients who are serious about creating change in their lives and clients who are battling to change their lives.
  • Support from many of you who have attended my courses and  talks, and read my blog and books.
  • All the people in my life who make it what it is. From domestic workers, to gardeners, to accountants, beauticians, hairdressers and chiropractors, to mention but a few…
  • Friends , old and new, who bring different flavours of fun and adventure into our lives.
  • Glamour magazine for my  regular column.
  • Other magazines and blogs for opportunities to write. See the latest.
  •  Toastmasters, 90 years old this year, for giving people the gift of growth in leadership and communication.
  • Special places that nurture my soul: my garden, and the Olifants River.
  • Books… And the people that write them and enable me to learn so much.
  • Last, but not least, you, for reading my blog, for commenting and connecting with me.

Thank you.

Thank you, each and every one of you for making my life just the way it is.

Thank you for the opportunities that come from you and from life  itself – Opportunities to grow, to develop and to serve. These are the things that make my life worthwhile. Thank you!

When we were children
we were grateful to those
who filled our stockings at Christmas time.
Why are we not grateful to God
for filling our stockings with legs?

Gilbert K. Chesterton


Posted in Happiness, Life Mastery, Way of Being | 4 Comments

Crush Communication Complications in 4 Steps

Crush Communication Complications

Have you ever said something small and trivial to someone and they reacted furiously? As Communication Modelthey stormed out the door, you wondered what was wrong with them?

You somehow pushed their buttons and you’ve no idea why.

What you said meant something specific to them – only you don’t know what the meaning was.

Model of Mind

The Model of Mind, brought to us by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, explains that this happens because of the way we process information.

We take in around 2 million bits of information per second (bps)  – through our senses.

Our brain can only process about 138 bps.

What happens to the rest of the information?

The brain filters it out. Only the important stuff (according to our filters) is absorbed. We get an internal picture (brown polygon in the diagram). This internal picture is a representation of the meaning we make of the external event (the Star in the diagram).

Filters are like a standard measure. If the external event fits into your standards – the internal picture will be a positive one. If the external event is not acceptable, the internal picture will represent that.

The external event and the internal picture are TOTALLY different!

On top of this – my internal picture and your internal picture are also different – even when we are looking at the same event.

This is why communication is so difficult!

So when he finally pops the question – your internal picture is of you sinking in his arms. His internal picture is of you with your arms in his sink.

Once the internal picture is established in the brain, you react emotionally  (STATE in the diagram). It shows on your face and body (PHYSIOLOGY in the diagram) and then you behave in a certain way (BEHAVIOR in the diagram).

Communication is Complicated because only the external event, your physiology  and your behavior are visible to others. The filters, the internal picture and  your state are not visible.

How do we Crush Communication Complications?

You talk about the filters, the internal picture and the state and how they link to the external event and your behavior.

For example: When you sit on the couch instead of helping me, I feel angry and frustrated because in my family my Dad always helped, and then I withdraw and don’t talk to you.

Of course you can use it for positive communication as well: When you notice I’m down I feel cherished because that means you care and then I want to hug you.

Here are the 4 steps to crushing complications:

1) When You… :  Here you briefly describe the external event. Don’t belabor the point. It’s more important to spend time on the internal events – the picture, the filters and the emotional state.

2) I Feel…: There are over 400 words in English to describe feelings. Become aware and excellent at naming your feelings.

3) Because…: Here you talk about what the external event means to you. This may describe the filter or the internal picture. The meaning you make of it talks to whether the internal event is acceptable to you or not.

4) Then I…: Here you describe how you behave in reaction to the meaning you make of the external event.

When you do this, the other person is much more likely to understand you.

To understand the other person, you ask questions that will give you information about their internal picture, state and filters.



All it takes is practice.

Don’t wait until something hectic is going on, rather practice on simple, every day things.

This way when you need it , you’ll be able to Crush Communication Complications.

Let me know how it goes!

The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw

Posted in Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships | 4 Comments