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Four aspects of helpful inner focus: 2.) nourishing positive states (part A)

Ten days ago, on this blog, I wrote about "Reducing negative states" as one aspect of a simple model entitled "Four aspects of helpful inner focus" (see below).  The model is a method I've evolved to help me organize and think about the many facets of deliberately induced altered states of consciousness.  I'm using terms loosely here.  I remember a hypnotist I came across many years ago, calling himself a "de-hypnotist".  He claimed that we walk around "hypnotised" most of the time and that he saw his job as trying to help us "wake up" from this hypnosis.  I mention this to illustrate how terms in this field - for example "inner focus" and "altered state of consciousness" - tend to creak rather a lot if one pushes at them for precise meanings. 

Checking in with Larry - first evening

On the train to Glasgow.  It's a Saturday afternoon in early July and I'm heading over to meet up with my old friend Larry to spend 24 hours or so together looking at how our lives are going.  We've been getting together to do this three or four times a year for the last 10 to 15 years.  Typically it's over a Saturday to Sunday afternoon.  Ideally we try not to make it in one of our houses.  We've found we get more of a perspective on how our lives are going when we're away from desks, emails, and a thousand other demands.  We alternate meeting up in the West or East of Scotland.  Today it's my turn to head West.  I bring my bike over on the train and will use it to cycle up the towpath of the Forth & Clyde canal and then on to Larry's.  Probably we'll then buy food and head out by bus and foot to an out-of-the-way shack owned by one of Larry's friends.  There isn't any running water or electricity, but it's quiet, dry and surrounded by countryside - a great place to breathe and take stock.

Wellbeing, time management, self-control & self-determination

“ Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans - that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too ... Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin it now! ” - Goethe

This is a bit of a ragbag section.  It contains a mixture of handouts on wellbeing, time management and related topics.  A lot of my work involves helping people face fear and anxiety.  The "Determination training" and more straightforward monthly "Practice record" are often helpful here.  The "Respected figures exercise" is one of the most frequent forms that I ask people to fill in - it clarifies values and so highlights how one wants to act.  The handout on Kohlberg's work is relevant to values too, especially at times when the focus is on fairness and assertiveness.  I often move from the "Respected figues exercise" to the five "Goals for roles" handouts.  They build from clarifying "Role areas" and using this for the "Funeral speeches" or "80th birthday party exercise&qu

Peer groups: Cumbria spring group - first reflection

Why are these groups often so great, so welcome, so precious?  Real life is very rich - theories only capture aspects of this richness.  However a theory, that I like a lot, highlights one reason why these peer groups are so important.  The theory is Self-Determination Theory (SDT).  It has evolved for over three decades.  The SDT website (see below) is a treasure trove of information about this approach.  It contains hundreds of research papers covering SDT's application to many fields including happiness, wellbeing, friendship, couples, parenting, education, psychotherapy, healthcare, political/ecological action - to name just some of the more obviously relevant. 

SDT focuses particularly on the crucial importance of satisfying three basic psychological needs - autonomy, competence and relatedness.  It proposes that:

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