In the article "Emotional Agility" (Harvard Business Review), read about four "inner strategies": Recognize your patterns, label your thoughts and emotions, accept them, act on your values. One of the two case studies included is a corporate lawyer.
Mary and Jane have a lot in common. Both are young women in their last year of study at the same law school. Each grew up in a two-parent family in a middle-class neighbourhood. Yet in some crucial ways they could hardly be more different.
To Mary, the law is like a martial art—a way to defeat opponents by mastering many complex manoeuvres. She chose law as a career because she wanted to make a lot of money, and with that aim in mind she has mainly studied the more lucrative legal specialties, such as corporate law and litigation. To achieve her career goals, Mary has made a point of skillfully ingratiating herself to certain influential professors. By applying just the right amount of flattery, she hopes to make the connections she needs for a good position after completing her degree.
Jane's approach to the law is much more idealistic. She views the law as a means of achieving justice, and her goals in studying law are to help people and to make a difference. She's trying to decide whether to work in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor or public defender, or to work for a not-for-profit organization. Jane has had some contact with her professors, chiefly when she has asked them to explain some of the finer points of the law. She tries to be pleasant and polite with her professors, but she would be uncomfortable trying to curry favour with them.
Mary and Jane are both single, but both plan to marry someday. . . .
And the tale goes on for another paragraph. The authors use the quick and simple stories of these two
This Article describes potential benefits of considering certain processes within an individual that take place in connection with external conflict as if they might be negotiations or other processes that are routinely used to address external disputes, such as mediation or adjudication. In order to think about internal processes in this way, it is necessary to employ a model of the mind that includes entities capable of engaging in such processes. The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, developed by Richard C. Schwartz, works well for this purpose. The IFS model is grounded on the construct that the mind is composed of two kinds of entities that interact systematically: "Parts" of the personality (or "Subpersonalities") and the Self. The Article integrates the IFS model with conflict resolution theory and practice. It proposes a combined perspective, which it argues can give us access to certain internal processes and help us: Understand certain potentially conscious internal processes and their relationship to external conflict; Assess such processes; and Manage (and hopefully improve) such processes, which should lead to more appropriate external conflict-related behavior and to less suffering in connection with conflict.
The title of this blog post is also the title of a program on KQED. One of the guests on the program is Ellen Bruno, the producer of the documentary Split about children and divorce. If the clips played on KQED taken from Split are any indication, the film is worth watching for anyone involved personally or professionally with marital dissolution.
A new documentary about children of divorce by Ellen Bruno has just been released, and it’s terrific. I don’t know how she did it but she managed to have children just speak into the camera in a moving, honest way about their experience as children in the midst of their parents’ divorce, unfiltered by questions or interviewers’ participation. I watched this with one of my adult children and his wife, both of whom had gone through this experience decades ago, and they were both deeply affected. It is so hard for parents to not be so caught up in their own difficulties to be able to see how different their kids’ experience is than they might think. For example, what it’s like going back and forth between mother and father’s house has such a different slant to it when you watch what it’s like for the kids. We all know that co-parenting is preferable to having children raised by one parent, but the toll taken by the back and forth is so stark that it’s impossible not to look again at our deeply held assumptions about it.
What is it about stories that may change people's behavior? Obviously that's an important question for marketers and salespeople. Or for anyone wishing to influence. A new study in Journal of Consumer Research may have parts of the answer to the question. (Click to read the news release at Science Daily.) Excerpt:
They [researchers] found that consumers were most likely to engage with realistic stories with identifiable characters and plots that easily lead to mental imagery. They also identified five characteristics that made participants more able to be transported: familiarity, attention, ability to fantasize, higher education, and female gender.
"Consumers who are 'transported' are changed by their experience. People who lose themselves in a story accept the story is true and relate to the characters," the authors write. "As the Hopi proverb goes, 'The one who tells the story rules the world,' and now we know how."
And here's another overview at the Gartner Blog Network. Quote I will remember from the post: "[S]torytelling amplifies receptors, while attenuating resistors." Not a new hypothesis but certainly a good reminder—and some new research that is intriguing, yes?
If you are interested in how we take in new information and then retain it, you will want to read this new article: "Making long-term memories in minutes: a spaced learning pattern from memory research in education" (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience). The article describes a method, Spaced Learning, that may make learning relatively quick and long-lasting. The authors also describe the probable underlying neuroscience. (Basically the technique involves brief bursts of exposure to content interspersed with activity unrelated to the lesson being learned.)
I found the reasons cited in the article that teachers resisted the technique to be telling and somewhat disconcerting:
Teachers reacted differently to Spaced Learning though some responses were common to many teachers. Many found Spaced Learning fun, different, and felt it was a positive learning experience for both teachers and learners. Negative responses included rejecting the underlying neuroscience out of hand, a concern about greater workload, and a fear of school inspectors judging Spaced Learning sessions harshly because they did not match recommended teaching methods.
The students often had a different response: "[They] on the other hand were very positive, asserting Spaced Learning helped them learn rapidly."
In talking recently with someone about how to lessen anxiety in conversations about death, wills, estates, family conflicts, and funerals, I mentioned the possibility of self-affirmation. Realizing I had not blogged about the topic in a while, I decided to write this short post.
[I]n a common self-affirmation procedure, participants choose a value or characteristic they consider very important and write about why it is important to them. Examples of valued domains used in self-affirmation include relationships with family and friends, physical attractiveness, and creativity. Affirming the self by affirming one’s most important values appears to fit the description of a worldview-bolstering procedure. It leads people to select a central part of their worldview and affirm to themselves its meaningfulness and importance.
In previous posts, I have written about the benefits of self-affirmation in improvement of college women's grades in science classes and about benefits in several other activities, too. Research shows its beneficial role in, for example, stress reduction, increase in openness to facing health threats, and reduction in defensiveness to mortality salience (awareness that you are going to die).
Affirming your values, whether in writing or through another process, can be a powerful exercise. If you want to learn more, read the above-mentioned article or my past posts listed below.
The ancient practice of making mental notes is one of the simplest (although not necessarily easy) ways to increase mindfulness and self-awareness. More about the practice from my article "Lead Your Brain Instead Of Letting It Lead You":
Sometimes we become distracted from the direction in which we want to be going. Our purpose may become clouded by anger, annoyance, confusion, jealousy, fear, or other feelings that knock us off balance and take us off the path. Brain research has provided a handy way to deal with the distraction.
We label the feeling, saying in our mind or, if appropriate, aloud, statements such as "I am angry" or "I am nervous." When we make statements like this, that part of the brain feeling the distracting emotion is calmed. We can then return to clarity and purpose. The neuroscience literature calls this "labeling the affect."
Sometimes in the heat of the moment this labeling is not easy to do. One way to make it easier is to practice it throughout the day when you are not feeling distracted. You can practice by labeling behaviors as well as feelings. Here's how.
During the day make mental notes such as "I am eating," or "I am pleased," or "I am thinking about the deposition." If you practice daily, your skill in mental note taking will grow and you will be able to engage in it, no matter what is happening.
By labeling the affect, by taking mental notes, a self-leader can become calm in the middle of a storm.
I have found an iPhone app that helps me to practice making mental notes throughout the day. It's called Lotus Bud. Several times during your day the app randomly rings a bell; when you hear the bell, you can make a mental note.
Is there an app like this for Android? If so, please let me know and I will add its link here.
Note (added October 12, 2013): A reader kindly alerted me to Mindfulness Bell for Android; it is free. The version of Lotus Bud I am using is also free. See the comments for still another suggestion for Android users.
I will be on my colleague Gail Rubin's radio show A Good Goodbye October 30, at 4 Mountain, 6 Eastern. Listen in here. If you cannot listen in at that time, a recording will be available afterwards at the same link.
October 30 is the 14th annual Create a Great Funeral Day; the interview is in honor of that holiday. I registered the day well over a decade ago to remind people to consider the benefits of creating your own funeral or memorial service, regardless of age of state of health.
Why would you want to make those plans? Just a few reasons:
You relieve those you leave behind of many decisions during their time of grief.
You give the bereaved the emotional satisfaction of knowing they are carrying out your wishes.
You may open up new areas of discussion with your family.
You are able to create an event that truly reflects your life.
Reviewing your life for the purpose of creating the service allows you to evaluate how you want to use your future.
And this gentle reminder of your mortality has an effect on your decisions about today.
For some previous blog posts about creating your own funeral, click here. For more about my book on the topic, go here.