Archive for the ‘Personal reflection’ Category

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Who are you prosecuting?

Having recently shared on the tyranny of being right,  Rick’s regular newsletter, “Just One Thing”   arrived in my inbox.  The topic “Who are you prosecuting?  was on a similar theme.    So what better delight than to share his great post – with his permission, of course –  with you all?! 🙂

Sign up details to his awesome newsletter are at the bottom.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, New York Times best-selling author, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. See Rick’s workshops and lectures.


Lately I’ve been thinking about a kind of “case” that’s been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven’t supported me, views about what should happen that hasn’t, and implicit taking-things-personally.

In other words, the usual mess.

It’s not that I have not been mistreated – actually, I have been – nor that my analysis of things is inaccurate (others agree that what I see does in fact exist). The problem is that my case is saturated with negative emotions like anger, biased toward my own viewpoint, and full of me-me-me. Every time I think of it I start getting worked up, adding to the bad effects of chronic stress. It creates awkwardness with others, since even though they support me, they’re naturally leery of getting sucked into my strong feelings or into my conflict with the other person. It makes me look bad, too cranked up about things in the past. And it primes me for overreactions when I see the person in question. Yes, I practice with this stuff arising in my mind and generally don’t act it out, but it’s still a burden.

I think my own experience of case-making – and its costs – are true in general. In couples in trouble, one or both people usually have a detailed Bill of Particulars against the other person. At larger scales, different social or political groups have scathing indictments of the other side.

How about you? Think of someone you feel wronged by: can you find a case against that person in your mind? What’s it feel like to go into that case? What does it cost you? And others?

The key – often not easy – is to be open to your feelings (e.g., hurt, anger), to see the truth of things, and to take appropriate action . . . while not getting caught up in your case about it all.


Bring to awareness a case about someone – probably related to a grievance, resentment, or conflict. It could be from your present or your past, resolved or still grinding. Explore this case, including: the version of events in it, other beliefs and opinions, emotions, body sensations, and wants; notice how you see the other person, and yourself; notice what you want from others (sometimes their seeming failings are a related case). For a moment or two, in your mind or out loud, get into the case: really make it! Then notice what that’s like, to get revved up into your case.

Mentally or on paper, list some of the costs to you and others of making this particular case. Next, list the payoffs to you; in other words, what do you get out of making this case? For example, making a case typically makes us feel in the right, is energizing, and helps cover over softer vulnerable emotions like hurt or disappointment. Then ask yourself: are the payoffs worth the costs?

With this understanding, see if you can stay with the difficult feelings involved in the situation (the basis for the case) without slipping into a reproachful or righteous case about them. To do this, it could help to start by resourcing yourself by bringing to mind the felt sense of being cared about by others, and by opening to self-compassion. And try to hold those difficult feelings in a big space of awareness.

Open to a wider, more impersonal, big picture view of the situation – so it’s less about you and more about lots of swirling causes coming together in unfortunate ways. See if any kind of deeper insight about the other person, yourself, or the situation altogether comes to you.

Listen to your heart: are there any skillful actions to take? Including naming the truth of things, disengaging from tunnels with no cheese, or the action of there-is-nothing-that-can-be-done.

Watch how a case starts forming in your mind, trying to get its hooks into you. Then see if you can interrupt the process. Literally set down the case, like plopping down a heavy suitcase when you finally get home after a long trip. What a relief!

Enjoy the good feelings, the spaciousness of mind, the openness of heart, the inner freedom, and other rewards of dropping your case.

JUST ONE THING (JOT) is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind. A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.

Just one thing that could change your life.
(© Rick Hanson, 2018)

Leadership Call: The One Truth You Cannot Afford to Ignore

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
– E.E. Cummings

Listen to your inner self!

During our busy year of meeting deadlines and juggling the demands and expectations of others and self, we can be left with little time for meaningful reflection of our lives.

After all, most of our energy is caught up in just keeping things going.

Should I Keep Struggling or Throw in the Towel and Move On?

We are delighted to have this guest post from Srikumar Rao.

Srikumar Rao is a professor, author, consultant and TED speaker. His
work has been profiled in major media worldwide and he has been 
interviewed frequently by TV and radio networks. His course “Creativity
and Personal Mastery” was among the most popular and highest rated
at many of the world’s top business schools and is the only one to have
its own alumni association. To learn more visit

A framework that helps you decide when to keep it and when to give up.

Aphorisms and proverbs sometimes pack powerful wisdom. We are fond of quoting them and using them to guide our behavior or to explain it.

But have you noticed how many of them contradict each other?


How to Get Motivated When You Feel Like Giving Up

You had this really great idea. You started on your project with great gusto but as time passes you start to feel deflated.

You just are not getting the results you had been expecting. You are left feeling frustrated, disappointed and flat – your dream project is just not gaining traction and your mindset is negative.

Reading about people who have ‘made it’ accentuates your own lack of progress even further.

You can’t help but wonder if you have been duped by all that smart marketing, the glowing success stories of others and your own misplaced optimism and enthusiasm.

Your well-meaning family and friends had questioned you right from the start. What? Leave your full-time job? Embark on a writing career NOW? Start an internet-based business? (Or whatever other phrase fits here for you). Are you crazy?

Now their voices have become even louder in your head.

You would so love to be one of the success stories. The one who finally made it but right now have lost all your mojo and nothing to show for your courageous decision.

Well – here is the good news: (more…)

How Being Plagued by ‘Not Doing Enough’ can be a Trap

woman with headacheI have a very healthy dose of self-loathing. But I think we all have a past of being whatever our story was, of feeling not good enough. It can propel you to work harder and do more, but it can also be a tremendous trap, and you can’t see beyond it.
– Kim Cattarall

Last month, working up and down the country, I heard a question voiced by several women. Their concern was, “Am I doing enough?”

It got me reflecting that I have very rarely heard this expressed by any of my male clients! But this is not to say that men don’t ever have such concerns.

So – how about you?

Is this a question you ask yourself?  This might be in your work, family or community life.

Is there a nagging doubt that what you are doing isn’t quite enough and perhaps carrying some guilt that you could be doing more?

This is despite the juggling of multiple tasks, activities and demands with all the available hours in the day.

And what’s more – what you are doing is probably more than adequate.

Yet the gnawing doubt remains.

“Am I doing enough?” or some variant of this is an underlying question that pops up no matter how much you are doing.

The human condition

As aspiring people, at some stage, many of us have been plagued by this question andthe unrelenting pursuit for more, quicker or better.

If you can relate to this blog just check that the root cause of this is not something much deeper.

Being human, having underlying doubts and anxiety about our core self – our identity goes with the territory.

We try and fill this gap by many different means – pursuing the next big shiny object, buying expensive items, zoning out, trying to be a super man or super woman and the list goes on.

You see deep down we don’t feel complete, adequate and whole in ourselves. In other words, we don’t feel like WE ARE ENOUGH!

We may even feel like imposters – waiting to be found out for who we really are which is not very much at all.

Our social conditioning

Along with our own existential make up, we are also bombarded with images, messages, expectations that we can look, feel, do and be a lot more.

This can be a motivating force in a healthy dosage but the need to do and be more can also be a reactive “fix” to a bottomless need.

Age and stage of life 

Our perspective also changes as we transition through the various stages of our lives.

As per The Atlantic article, as we age into our mature years, we can feel more relaxed and have greater acceptance of ourselves and our life circumstances.

The desire to do and achieve things can also come from a stronger place of what our core values are such as helping others, greater community mindedness, more gratitude and so on.

We are even more motivated and driven by these intrinsic drivers along with the emerging consciousness that life is limited and our days are numbered.

What can we do now? 

Sheryl Sandberg in her very readable book, “Lean In”, puts this well especially in relation to working mums that “Guilt management can be just as important as time management.”

Perhaps we need to remind ourselves when these thoughts arise, that not only are we already “whole”,  but we are doing the best we can and that perfection doesn’t exist.

Instead of the relentless pursuit of filling the “not enough” gap, we need to remind ourselves to come from a place of greater wholeness and self-acceptance.

This is a much calmer and resourceful place without the constant negative and self-berating chatter of not being and doing enough.

We are also more composed and centered then and are therefore able to give more and make better decisions.

Ultimately it is also about the quality of life rather than the quantity of things.

Your thoughts?

Image of woman  – courtesy of stockimages at

Jasbindar Singh works as a business psychologist and leadership coach.
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