Buckley Blog Bits – May 9, 2017

I was reading some articles on Psychology Today this morning, as well as making some more progress on the psychology book I’m hoping to publish in late 2018, and wanted to share some of my thoughts.

  • I’ve always felt that helping others with their problems, or even simply just talking about similar problems with one another, helps you because it helps you realize that you’re not alone with your problems and anxiety. Plus it facilitates discussion between you and another person, and gives you an opportunity to brainstorm and strategize while coming up with new coping strategies.
  • When you’re faced with adversity, remember that it actually comes with several benefits:
    • Adversity builds resiliency in you
    • Adversity prepares you to achieve your goals
    • Adversity helps you keep things in perspective
    • Adversity gives you an opportunity to learn.
  • Remember that in every negative experience, there’s a positive lesson to be learned. Sometimes it’s not always obvious, and sometimes it’s up to you to dig deep to find it, but it is in there somewhere.

It sounds cliché, but you’re really not alone with your anxiety and adversity.  Everyone experiences both at some point.  The difference is in how you react and perceive it.

Buckley Blog Bits – March 15, 2017

Today’s articles that I read on Psychology Today pertained to humor in the workplace, and why we shouldn’t fear failure.  I’ll start with the article that discussed humor in the workplace (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201703/cracking-joke-work-can-have-surprising-payoff ).

I hadn’t really given much thought to humor in the workplace before reading this article, nor had I thought about how it can help to elevate your status within the organization.  I once had a supervisor several years ago comment on how he appreciated my ability to “bust his chops” on occasion and that it brought positive energy to the department, so I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that it doesn’t hurt to bring some humor to the workplace.

Personally, while I wouldn’t exactly promote or retain someone at my organization simply because of their ability to be humorous, I might be more likely to retain or promote them if they can demonstrate an ability to bring a positive energy to the workplace in addition to their quality skillset.

In my own work experiences, I’m only sarcastic or humorous with co-workers who have previously established that sort of communication style or relationship with me.  Personally, I think that humor in the workplace is just like humor anywhere else in life: there’s a time and place for it, so just exercise good caution when engaging in it.

In the second article (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201703/why-we-shouldn-t-fear-failure ), the author describes failure as “just bumps on the road to success.”  I recently accepted a promotion at work, and before I started my new boss told me “I expect you to fail at some point, but I won’t let you drown.”  There was a point in time where his remark would’ve pissed me off because I wouldn’t have understood why he expected me to fail, nor would I have understood why he would have promoted me if he felt that way.  But now I understand more how failure really is just a bump on the road to success.  It’s normal to “fail” or simply not be as successful as you want or expected to be the first time you try something.

But you can’t let the negative consequences of failure, such as losing the desire to try new things, to weigh you down.  The fear of failure can be pretty paralyzing, so that’s why it’s important to have the mindset that failure often leads to success because it allows you to learn what you need to learn along the way.

As Duke Roufus, the renowned MMA coach said on an episode of The Evolution of Punk, “if you’re not winning, you’re learning.”  In the end, it’s your resiliency and ability to persevere that determines how successful you’ll ultimately be.

Things to Keep in Mind about Anxiety

I was talking to a colleague about anxiety and unhelpful thoughts yesterday, and figured that I’d share some of the key points that she and I discussed.

  • Remember that everyone, including positive psychologists, experiences anxiety and unhelpful thoughts at some point. You’re not alone with your anxiety.  Everyone else wants it to go away also.
  • It’s not the anxiety and unhelpful thoughts by themselves that matter, but rather it’s how you react to them that really matters.
  • Remember to challenge your negative way of thinking and take a different approach/perspective. Our anxiety inducing beliefs are often distorted, highly magnified versions of the real issue at hand.
  • Practice your new approach/perspective and your new way of thinking often.
  • Remember that anxiety cannot go away permanently, but you can tolerate the discomfort of anxiety better. Focus on building a better tolerance for anxiety rather than eliminating completely.
  • Remember that anxiety is just a thing. Much like bad weather, it’s something that comes and goes, and what matters most is your tolerance of it.
  • No one else even notices the internal discomfort that you feel when you’re anxious, so there’s no need to be self-conscious of it.
  • Break your anxiety inducing stressor up into smaller and more manageable parts. Give yourself experience, and slowly expose yourself to what’s inducing your anxiety.

In conclusion, find what works for you, and take control of whatever anxiety and unhelpful thoughts you have.

Blog Bits – December 7, 2016

  • I read an article entitled “I Wish I Stopped Trying to ‘Fix’ Myself 20 Years Ago” on Psychology Today this morning (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-do-life/201612/i-wish-i-stopped-trying-fix-myself-20-years-ago), and was surprised by my findings. The author discusses how living and being alone makes him happy, and that he wished he had been more okay with this 20 years ago.  On one hand, I’m happy that the author is happy with his life.  On the other hand, I think he comes off as somewhat miserable.  Personally, I can’t imagine living a life with practically no human contact.  Sure, I enjoy my alone time as much as anyone and I’m actually finding that more and more people seem to like alone time (I used to feel weird telling people I enjoyed going to events and games by myself sometimes, until I was often met with a surprised look and a response of “no, I know what you mean.  I like going to stuff by myself sometimes too actually).  But to live a life with zero social interaction? I can’t imagine it.  I just wouldn’t be happy with that.
  • Another article I read this morning entitled “Wanting is a Trap” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation-modern-life/201612/wanting-is-trap) discusses how not getting what you “want” can cause you to suffer. Personally, I’ve always felt that having expectations is more of a trap.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t think you should have goals and preferences, but that you need to manage them and have reasonable expectations.  If I expected myself to make $2,000,000 in 2016 by managing my own consulting business, well then I’d be pretty disappointed in myself right now because I didn’t come close to that number.  But I had a reasonable expectation, that I was going to make money, acquire some great work related skills and knowledge, and continue to evolve and develop as a professional, which I have.  I met those expectations, even though I was never consciously aware I really had them.

But before reading the article, I had never necessarily thought about how simply viewing a “want” as a “preference” instead can actually make you feel a better sense of happiness.  Like the article says, “happiness is always present” and I try to point that out to friends, colleagues and clients that you’re in charge of the reality you live in.  Regardless of what you think, you actually do have the power to change the reality that you live in.

Buckley Blog Bits – September 2, 2016

  • Baseball: This season marked the first time I attended both the Buffalo Bisons home opener as well as their home finale. I know that doesn’t necessarily make me unique since I’m sure there are plenty of people who have accomplished that feat, and done so on multiple occasions, but I thought it was interesting that it wasn’t until now that I did that since I grew up going to Bisons games a lot as a youngster.  It’s made me look at attending the Blue Jays’ last home game of the season as well, just so that I could say that in my first season as flex pack holder for both clubs that I attended both the first and the last regular season home game of the year, just because I don’t know when this opportunity will present itself to me again.
  • Baseball, Part 2: But the bigger question is will the Buffalo Bisons allow Celery to win one race next season before Celery retires? Time will tell… Personally, I can see things from both sides. It’d be great to let Celery finish out as a winner, but maybe Celery should always retain that spot as the lovable loser.  Maybe the better question is what am I so intrigued by a mascot race at a minor league baseball game??
  • MMA: My predictions for the main card tomorrow on UFC Hamburg are Andrei Arlovski winning a decision over Josh Barnett, although nothing is going to surprise me here. So while I won’t consider a Barnett victory to be an upset (Barnett is the slight favorite with the bookies), I just think that Arlovski is marginally closer to his prime right now than Barnett is, although both guys are past their prime days.  In the co-main event, I have Alexander Gustafsson finishing Jan Blachowicz in the second round.
  • Psychology: It’s ironic that I found the article “Your Feelings Are Not Your Fault (Mostly)” when I did (Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intentional-insights/201608/your-feelings-are-not-your-fault-mostly ), seeing as I’m trying to show support for a friend of mine who is going through a bit of a rough patch as of late. The article got me thinking about my own opinion on the matter, as well as my own life experiences.

I’ve often told others that are going through a rough patch that sometimes you just have to accept feeling bad sometimes, and I’ve said this because I used to fight the pain, but that just made it worse.  Something would happen that would bother me…and then the fact that it bothered me bothered me.  It was like a never ending cycle where I was constantly bothered by the feeling rather than by the event.  Then one day, I decided to just let myself feel bad.  Of course it didn’t feel good to feel bad, but I soon found that I felt better because I felt a TREMENDOUS amount of stress drop off of me.  I had let the negative feelings freely come and go. 

As the article states, “let your feelings come, let them go,” and also “focus on doing, rather than feeling.  Let the feelings be what they are.”  These are two great pieces of advice.  Of course, our main motives in most of the action we take is to try to be happier.  But focus on the task, and don’t set expectations of how it will make you feel.  Let the feeling be spontaneous and unexpected.

My Take on the Fear of Recovery

I was reading an article on Psychology Today entitled “Fear of Recovery” (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/view-the-mist/201608/fear-recovery), and while what I read initially surprised me, the more I thought about it, it really shouldn’t have.

The article discusses how some people with mental illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder actually have a fear of getting better, even though their ultimate goal is to become better, because the feelings of their illness have become familiar to them.  It goes without saying that the unknown is a scary thing for all of us, but what was surprising to me was that the unknown, even if it’s supposed to be an improvement or more coveted than our current predicament, can still scare us to the point that we’d rather stay with the status quo.

I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised by it though.  This sort of mentality explains why people remain in relationships when they’re not happy or not truly in love with their partner, even though living the single lifestyle would bring them more joy and fulfillment.  Or why people never seek that promotion at work which would bring them a higher salary, and further life and career satisfaction.

Really, what came as the real shocker to me here was the fact that living a life that’s better than your current predicament, even if that future life is unknown, is still scary enough for someone to want to retain their habits of fearing change.

Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown.  But maybe there’s a fear of failure at not accomplishing your goal. Maybe those that are afraid of getting better are actually afraid of being unable to get better, regardless of how hard they try to.  Personally, I think it all comes down to your mental habits.  If you allow yourself to think that the unknown is a frightening place, or if you allow yourself to think that failure means you suck, then you won’t reach your desired level of life fulfillment.  You have to accept and understand that the unknown (usually) isn’t going to be as scary you imagine it in your mind.

But maybe it comes down to feeling overwhelmed, and perceiving the need for a major change instead of taking things one step at a time.  Personally, while I love my life, I still strive to improve my life on a daily basis, whether it’s saving a few extra dollars here or there, making better dietary choices, working out longer/harder, or maintaining or improving my productivity at work. But I look at things in small steps.  I look at the proximal goal, instead of the distal goal, because when I do that I lose sight of my current smaller goal and predicament, and I feel less engaged in the present process when I focus on the distal goal.

It’s interesting how this “reaction paper” to an article on why people fear overcoming their mental illness turned into me discussing that it comes down to the perception of your goals in life.  I didn’t plan that when I started writing this, but then my mind began wandering a bit.  So maybe what’s buried in the fear of the unknown is the fear of not liking your future as much as you like your present, regardless of how much you dislike your present predicament.

Buckley Blog Bits – August 31, 2016

I’ll be discussing a little bit of everything in today’s edition, as I’ll talk about some mixed martial arts news, an article I read on Psychology Today, and a baseball opinion for good measure:

  • To start things off, I’d like to say that I love the UFC’s signing of Polish lightweight Marcin Held. I’ve been a big fan of his for years.  He’s a former Bellator lightweight title contender, and is only 24 years of age with a record of 22-4 (11-3 in Bellator, with his losses coming against former champions Michael Chandler and Will Brooks, plus one to title contender Dave Jansen, a loss that he recently avenged).  I’m really happy to see that the UFC signed him, because I think he has a wealth of potential so it’ll be great to see him fight the world’s best on a consistent basis.
  • It’s rare that I get pretty excited for a UFC Fight Pass card, but I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s card featuring a heavyweight matchup between Andrei Arlovski (25-12, 1 NC) and Josh Barnett (34-8). This fight was supposed to happen 8 years ago at an Affliction event that ultimately was delayed and then relaunched with a reshuffled card (Arlovski lost to Fedor Emelianenko on that card, while Barnett defeated Gilbert Yvel).  Both are legends in the sport of mixed martial arts, both are former UFC heavyweight champions, and both are at the end of their careers, but it makes for an intriguing matchup nonetheless for me.
  • I was reading an article entitled ‘7 Ways Mentally Strong People Bounce Back From Failure’ this morning (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201608/7-ways-mentally-strong-people-bounce-back-failure ), and the one aspect that stuck out to me the most was the part that said “mentally strong people use failure as an opportunity to spot their weaknesses,” and this is absolutely true. I was watching a tv show recently where Duke Roufus, a well-respected MMA coach, told his students “if you’re not winning, you’re learning” and that’s absolutely true.  Failure, or whatever you’d like to call it, gives you a chance to learn what your weaknesses are.  Take for example if you’re working out, and you decide to go for a jog and you find that your cardio isn’t up to par with where you’d like it to be.  You haven’t failed at your goal of going for a nice jog, but rather you’ve discovered that you need to work on your cardio a little bit more because it’s not one of your strong points, or it’s not as strong as you’d prefer it to be.
  • Listening to the radio show hosts on SportsNet 590 talk about Joe Biagini and how well he’s pitched this year (he really has had an amazing season, and been an incredible find by the Jays), made me remember how he’s actually been even better than his numbers indicate once you look at the lousy month of June he had. Over a span of 5 weeks, his ERA was 7.36 when he gave up 9 earned runs in 11 innings between June 3 and July 5, and to be honest I was getting worried that his luck had run out.  Needless to say, those concerns were unnecessary and he’s been lights out the rest of the time since his ERA outside of that 5 week stretch is 1.00 (for the season his ERA is 2.25; 14 earned runs allowed in 56.0 innings, but he’s conceded only 5 earned runs in 45.0 innings outside of that rough stretch).