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MAKE USE OF TRANSITION RITUALS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, SPORTS ENDEAVORS, AND IN LIFE!!

Image taken from Williamhenry.net

Image taken from Williamhenry.net

As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with individuals, couples, families, and high school, collegiate, and professional athletes.  I’ve often noticed in my practice that my clients don’t incorporate Transition Rituals into their daily lives;  In turn, their relationships and sports performances suffer.  I don’t begrudge my clients for not doing so, however.  I believe that they don’t make use of Transition Rituals because they don’t know what they are.  In light of this, I’d like to  take a moment to share with you what Transition Rituals are in the first place.

Transition rituals are periods of time that are carved out by someone for the  purpose of changing their psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual state.  In addition, transition rituals are intended  to help people access different parts of their personality.  They’re most effective when they’re done with with intention, purpose, and mindfulness.  When we engage in a transition ritual while feeling distracted and not fully present, they fail to assist us in any meaningful way. Take, for example, the morning Transition Ritual of getting out of bed, showering, brushing your teeth, and putting on your dress clothes. If these acts are done mindlessly and/or unconsciously,  they will fail to assist us in preparing ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the day ahead.

Mild mannered Clark Kent, on the other hand, created a Transition Ritual that worked wonders for him, and he did so with conscious intention and purpose. In times of crisis, he would  ritually duck into a telephone booth or stock room to make his transformation into Superman.  As the Superman franchise evolved over the years, his new Transition Ritual involved quickly entering into a revolving door, spinning through it at incredible speeds while changing his clothes, and emerging moments later as Superman, donning a red cape while having access to superhuman strength and superhero powers so that he could go about saving the world one crisis at a time.

We can all use Transition Rituals in our daily lives to change our state and/or to access different parts of our personality.  Take, for example, the lives of a police officer, a family therapist, and a professional Mixed Martial Artist:

If an authoritarian police officer does not engage in a Transition Ritual before he comes home to greet his wife and children, for example, he’s likely to bring the same stoic, law-abiding, inflexible mentality home with him, which would in turn cause his wife and children to want to withdraw from him;  If a Marriage and Family Therapist doesn’t engage in a Transition Ritual after a long day of working with clients, he or she may be prone to offering unsolicited advice to family and friends at home and elsewhere;  If a professional Mixed Martial Artist doesn’t  engage in a transition Ritual before leaving the gym, he may bring his warrior energy and gladiatorial spirit to the outside world and energetically intimidate people and push them away.

Alas, if only the aforementioned professionals incorporated transition rituals into their lives!!  They would be able to then to switch gears, change states, and welcome in parts of their personalities that would enable them to show up in their relationships, sports, and lives in ways that would better support their deepest needs and wants.  The beautiful thing about Transition rituals is that they are often easy, effortless, and enjoyable.  Transition rituals include carving out time before or after work to do yoga, take the dog for a walk, read the Bible, go for a run, and engage in diaphragmatic breathing exercises; People can also choose instead to listen to calming or energizing music, listen to hypnosis CD’s, engage in progressive muscle relaxation exercises, take a soothing walk on the beach, meditate, engage in mindfulness exercises, and/or engage in visualization exercises; Sometimes  transition rituals include taking a warm, bubble bath, getting a massage, or calling a really good friend on your way home from work for some laughs.

I always encourage my clients to come up with and routinely engage in transition rituals that they resonate with the most.  In addition, I remind them to engage in their transition ritual with intention and purpose.  As for me, I currently engage in many transition rituals that help me a lot both personally and professionally.  In my co-ed Personal Growth Group, for example, I use a Tibetan singing bowl at the beginning and end of each group therapy session to create a calming sound that is intended to signal to the group members that they have now entered into a sacred space, or sanctuary, within my office that is separate and apart from the noisy outside world they’ve just left behind.  In my Men’s group, I burn sage 10 minutes prior to the beginning of each group session, and I ask them to participate in a smudging ritual that is intended to cleanse them of any thoughts or feelings that would otherwise make it difficult for them to be fully present during our time together;  Because our minds use and respond to symbolism, the men in our group  find this transition ritual to be very effective in helping them to be fully present and in touch with their hearts.

If you find yourself living unconsciously from moment to moment and day to day, then I’d like to strongly encourage you to partake in a transition ritual(s) that will help you to switch gears, access different states, and summon the parts of your personality that will serve you best in the countless realms of your life;  Do so with intention and a clear sense of purpose, and do so routinely so that you can show up consistently in your relationships, sports, and life in ways that will serve your highest good and help you achieve your desired outcomes. As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Performance Consultant, I would also like you to kindly note that I would be very happy to sit down with you in person to co-create a transition ritual(s) that you can incorporate into your daily life for the purpose of dramatically improving it!!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!!  I sincerely hope that you found it be interesting and informative.

John Boesky, LMFT/Sports Performance Consultant

 

 

 

 

BECOME AN EXTRAORDINARY COACH!!

Image taken from fr.wikipedia.org

Image taken from fr.wikipedia.org

As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Psychology Consultant, I’ve had the privilege over the years of working with high school, collegiate, and professional athletes who compete with focus and passion in their chosen sport.  I’ve also had the honor of working with their coaches too.  I’ve worked with tennis coaches, volleyball coaches, football coaches, mixed martial arts coaches, etc.  In my work with these coaches, I’ve discovered that many of them are naturals at motivating and inspiring their players, teaching them about integrity, character, teamwork, partnership, etc.  With my help and guidance, they are able to add new insights, tools, techniques, and communication skills to become even greater coaches.  As importantly, the athletes they coach soak in their coach’s wisdom and compassion like sponges, and they in turn become better athletes as well as better people.

Great coaches that come to mind are John Wooden and Phil Jackson.  John Wooden taught his student athletes about hard work, dedication, character, teamwork, game excellence, and seeing how what goes on in an athlete’s life between the lines is a microcosm of what goes on his life outside the lines.   He led UCLA to countless NCAA basketball championships.  Never the less, his players loved and admired him for his ability to inspire them and for his unwavering belief in their full potential.  He became a mentor to many of his players and a father figure to many more.

From a Sports Performance Consultant’s point of view, Phil Jackson seems to be an excellent coach as well.  I don’t base this assessment on the number of NBA championship rings he’s accumulated over the years while coaching for the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.  I deem him an excellent coach because of his willingness and desire to encourage his players to grow and expand as people outside of basketball.  Phil Jackson often encouraged his star athletes to read thought provoking books, practice visualization, practice meditation, and to put their egos aside for the sake of their team.  He was often called the “Zen Master”, and this was because of his tendency to blend Eastern thought and philosophy with Western thought and philosophy.  He also appeared to be a man of equanimity at times, allowing his players to make mistakes because he trusted that they would learn from them.   As a result of his faith his players, he got the most out of them.

Unfortunately, for every great coach out there, there are countless others who emotionally, physically, and even sexually abuse their athletes.  For Indiana University Basketball coach Bobby Knight comes to mind.  He often came across as narcissistic, petulant, and entitled in press conferences, and on one occasion he was caught on video tape violently throwing chairs across the basketball court in front of his own players. Even more disturbingly, there was a time when he was caught on video choking one his players.

More recently, Scarlet Knight’s Men’s Basketball coach Mike Rice and his assistant coach at Rutgers, Jimmy Martelli, resigned from their coaching positions following a physical and verbal abuse scandal.  A video broadcast by ESPN show Rice and Martelli punching, kicking, and throwing balls at players.  In addition, the video shows them shoving and screaming at them, sometimes calling them homophobic slurs.  I believe that what these men did was reprehensible and unconscionable.  Rather than uplift and inspire their players, they chose to intimidate, bully, and abuse them.

Motivating athletes to perform better by instilling fear and shame in them never works.  On the contrary, it only serves to erode their self-confidence.  In addition, it teaches them that abusing and degrading others are acceptable things to do.  As human beings, we’re unconsciously compelled to treat others the way that we’ve been treated.  Hence, it’s highly likely that some of the student athletes on the Rutgers basketball team will mentally, emotionally, and/or physically abuse someone they know sooner or later in their lives.  Thanks to Rice and Martelli, it’s very likely that one of the student athlete’s future son or daughter will be the recipient of similar abuse.

If you’re a coach and work with high school, collegiate, or professional athletes, I want to encourage you to consider meeting with a sports performance consultant/sports psychology consultant.  Do do even if you’re already a great coach because you’ll learn even more about yourself and how to be an even better coach.  I would especially encourage you to do so if you’re prone to hurting the athletes you serve when it’s really your intention to uplift and inspire them.  If you’re reflexively inclined to belittle, shame, or emotionally abuse your athletes, it’s not because you’re a bad person.  More than likely, you do this because you don’t know how of another way how to lead and motivate others differently.  Fortunately, you can acquire these skills rather quickly.  You can learn to offer your athletes words of affirmation, to praise them, and to offer them constructive criticism in ways that inspire them to change.  You can also quickly learn how to improve your communication skills, foster team unity and cohesion, and mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare your athletes for competition in ways that bring out the very best in them.  Finally, you can learn sports psychology tips, tools, and techniques that will help your athletes realize their full potential.

If you’re feeling inspired to up your game and be the best coach that you can possibly be, please call me so that we can visit in person and get to work on improving your coaching skills!!  I look forward to partnering with you and helping you achieve this very worthy goal.

Sincerely,

John Boesky, LMFT/Sports Performance Consultant

 

BECOME THE WATCHER AND REALIZE YOUR FULL POTENTIAL

human soul

image taken from squidoo.com

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I used to hear spiritually inclined people say that we are “spiritual beings having human experiences” with skepticism and a touch of cynicism too.  I was more secular then, and I was convinced that I was defined by my mind, my body, and my emotions.  Heck, it was the world renown philosopher, Descartes, who once said, ” I think, therefore I am.”

Time and exposure to new thoughts about who we are as people have changed my perspective quite a lot over the last few years, though.  After reading  Tolle’s  The Power of Now, and after chatting with several mentors of mine, it’s dawned on me that we are not our minds, bodies, or emotions after all.  Our Egoic minds, for example,  are actually quite primitive,  and they’re prone to cognitive distortions, storytelling, generalizing, black and white thinking, and propagating lies.  This is how come Zen masters call our minds “Monkey Minds”, because they’re prone to making messes and creating chaos.  Our Monkey Minds are trouble makers, and they often spew out lies about ourselves and others that damage our self-esteem and create disconnection with others.

If we were really our minds, then how come we’re able to step back from our thoughts and examine them, challenge them, explore them, etc.  In addition, how come we can go about changing our minds and still remain who we are.  No, we are not our minds nor are we our thoughts.  Our minds ( when they’re functioning optimally) are merely powerful tools that we can use to problem solve,  make good decisions, etc.

In addition to not being our minds, we are also not our bodies.  If you take our legs away, for example, we still exist, don’t we?  There have even been people who have literally flat lined and died on hospital gurneys who have come back to life hours later able to recall everything that took place in the operating room during and after they were declared dead.  These people generally say that while they were dead they took on spiritual forms and were able to watch their lifeless bodies and hear what the doctors and nurses were saying to each as they were being pronounced dead. In light of these happenings, it’s become clear to me that we are not our bodies either.  Like our minds, our bodies are tools as well.  They help us to move, play, etc.

Finally, we are not our emotions and their accompanying sensations.  This is because our emotions always have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  We don’t vanish or perish when one of our emotions dissipates and goes away.  In addition, how can we be our emotions if we’re able to step back from them  and watch our emotions with curiosity, awe, and wonder.  This is precisely what people do when they practice mindfulness and meditation.  They notice their emotions and observe them.  Sometimes the feelings intensify, and sometimes they soften and fade away. Emotions, like our minds and bodies, can serve as useful tools as well.

Instead, we are the Watcher that peacefully resides in each and every one of us.  The Watcher has many names. It has been called our Soul, our Essence, our CEO, our King or Queen, our Highest Self, our Light, etc.  The Watcher has also been described as being timeless, perfect, whole, and complete.

When the Watcher in us is in a resourceful state, brimming over with compassion, unconditional love, and unconditional acceptance  for ourselves and others, it is able to access the deepest truths that we hold about ourselves.  Some say that the Watcher is receiving our deepest truths from a Higher Power, the Universe, the Super Conscious, the Source from which all life comes, or from God himself.

Others who are less spiritually inclined might say that the Watcher represents the Essence of who we truly are deep inside:  Inherently good, wise, forgiving, non-judgmental, unconditionally loving and  accepting, intuitive, and discerning.  For them, the Watcher is able to see things as they truly are.  If their more primitive Egoic minds trick them into believing, for example, that they’re unlovable or inadequate, the Watcher in them knows better and can remind them of their deeper truths:  They’re deeply lovable and very worthwhile.

If you tend to get swept away by your thoughts and get overwhelmed by the lies that your Monkey Mind is relaying to you,  it’s high time that you learn how to access the Watcher inside of you and get in touch with the deepest truths about you really are.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I have a specific experiential exercise that I teach my clients that helps them to effortlessly tune out the lies that are being propagated by their minds.  In addition, my clients are able to worry less and less about their body image and their bodily aches and pains.  Finally, my clients rarely feel  paralyzed by their emotions, and they no longer feel as though they are drowning inside of them.

My Deepest Truth Exercise is very powerful and life-changing.  Last night, for example, in my Men’s group, a man originally heard his Egoic mind tell him that he’s unlovable, and by the time the group exercise was over, tears welled up in his eyes as he  shared with the rest of us that his deepest truth is that he’s lovable, a great father, and a great friend.  A week ago, a woman in my co-ed group originally received the false message from her Egoic mind that she is invisible, and that no one cares to know who she truly is.  After accessing the Watcher and listening for her deepest truth, she shared with the men and women in our group that her deepest truth is that many people do see her and appreciate her.  In particular, she told us that people often share with her that they see how much she cares about others, and they really appreciate how big a heart she’s got.

If you want to learn how to access the Watcher, become acquainted with the deepest truths of who you really are, and realize your full potential, please call me or email me to arrange a time to meet with me in person.  In the meantime,  kindly remember:  You are not your mind, body, or emotions.  Instead, you are the Watcher, the Soul, the CEO, the King or Queen, and/or the Light that resides within you.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post.  I hope that you found it thought-provoking and helpful!!

Sincerely,

John Boesky, LMFT

 

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THE BACHELOR: THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY EXPERIMENT THAT WORKS LIKE A CHARM~

Image taken from digitalfiles.com

Image taken from digitalfiles.com

There’s no question that Sean Lowe, America’s most recent Bachelor, seems like a great catch.  He’s good looking, well spoken, appears to be sincere, claims to value integrity and character above all else, etc.  In light of all his positive traits, it makes sense to me that some women would find him attractive, and it also makes sense to me that some women would even fall in love with him and want to marry him.  However, it doesn’t make sense to me at all that every single female contestant that gets on the show ends up falling in love with him.  The odds of this seem happening to one mere mortal guy seems astronomically low.  So, I ask myself, how come every time a new bachelor shows up on our television sets to find his potential wife, every single woman flocks to him, fawns all over him, and falls deeply in love with him in a matter of weeks?

I think I have the answer.  With all due respect to Sean Lowe, it isn’t him at all that’s causing these ladies to fall head over heels in love with him.  Its the culture of the show, and the way the show’s  producers deliberately and pre-metitatively use social psychology to entrance these women into believing that their season’s bachelor is the Chosen One.  The truth is, the moment the women get out of their limousines to greet their prince charming, they’ve set out on a hypnotic journey full of symbols and metaphors that are intended to get them to fall in love with their man as quickly as possible.  In addition, other psychological forces are at play that get the women in deeper and deeper over their heads, and what’s sad is that the women have no idea that their emotions are being manipulated by a bunch of reality T.V. head honchos.

For starters, when the women first meet the bachelor, he’s there to greet them in front of a mansion with roses in hand.  Women naturally associate a mansion with power and wealth, and it’s fair to say that most women find power and wealth very attractive.  Soon after their brief meeting outside of the mansion, the women are given champagne, which is another symbol of decadence, sophistication, wealth, etc.  Inside the mansion are fireplaces and candles, which women associate with warmth, romance, and masculine charm.  Finally, at the end of the first evening, the bachelor gives out roses to the women he’d like to get to know better.  Women of course love roses, and they associate them with romance, passion, and love.  Alas, unbeknownst to the women, they’re already in the process of making an unconscious link (Anchor) between their bachelor and their own seductive longings for power, wealth, opulence, sophistication, warmth, romance, charm, passion, and love.  The bachelor has become an archetype for the perfect gentlemen, a prince if you will.

The producers of the Bachelor surely know that most women start off as young, impressionable girls reading fairy tales that kindle their dreams to one day find their prince charming.  They also know that these girls also long to one day become princesses.  With this awareness in mind, the producers present the women the seductive vision of a real life prince standing before their very eyes in front of a castle-like mansion, and they give these ladies the persuasive impression that if they win their bachelor’s heart, their dream of becoming a princess and leading a fairy tale life may soon become their reality.

In addition to creating this intoxicating link between the bachelor and all things rich and royal, the producers of the show seem well aware of the psychological concept known as social proofing.”  Social proofing essentially describes when people unconsciously engage in a herd mentality.  If someone who is perceived to be knowledgeable or credible strongly believes something, everyone else follows suit.  This happens a lot in the stock market, for example.  If a well known investor like Warren Buffet, for example, says with conviction that America is entering into a bull market and it’s time to buy stocks, droves of ambivalent investors will follow his lead.  This is because a man like Warren Buffet is highly esteemed, and he’s become a credible source to turn to for direction throughout the years.  Most of the time he’s managed the winds of the market well, so investors worldwide are willing to blindly follow his lead for this reason alone.  In the case of the Bachelor, the show’s producers have rolled out the red carpet and told the world that their bachelor is highly desirable.  They’ve deemed him special, and they have concluded that he is the ultimate prize for any lady seeking love.

The Bachelor is a credible show, and most people who tune in to watch it assume the producers of the show must know something about their chosen man that they don’t.  Alas, social proof is in securely in place.  When the women meet their bachelor, they already believe that he’s the highest of the high hanging fruit.  He’s the ultimate prize, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  It only makes sense then that their hearts flutter within seconds of meeting him.  And it only makes sense that they find themselves falling in love with him within days.

There’s another psychological factor at play on the bachelor that compels the female contestants to fall in love with their chosen one so soon after meeting him.  It’s called “confirmation bias.”  Confirmation bias happens when someone believes something to such a degree that they’ll actively disregard any information that contradicts their fixed belief.  If these girls believe that their bachelor is the ultimate prize, then they’re going to ignore the fact he’s kissing 5 or 6 other girls on the very same night.  They’ll also choose to ignore the fact he may be having sex with the last 3 remaining women in the fantasy suites within days of their own sexual encounter with him.  In addition, they will choose to ignore red flags like he may be emotionally immature, self-preoccupied, etc.  I’ve often found it interesting that the bachelor takes his women on dates that he would like, without much consideration for whether or not his date would like it.  He’ll have her repel down a jagged rock face, eat rancid insects,  or plunge into freezing water, for example.  He’ll say these activities are designed to build trust, of course.  He’ll also say that they serve as metaphors because relationships often have downturns when you feel like you’re repelling backwards or plunging into cold water.  It’s important, he’ll say, that he and his date can weather these metaphorical storms to build trust, connection, etc.

The truth is, however, that most women would rather not repel down a cliff, eat unsavory insects, or endure freezing water to prove their worth to their date.  It’s because of confirmation bias, however, that they’re willing to subject themselves to any and all kinds emotional torture to win the approval and affections of this very special man.  It doesn’t even occur to them that their bachelor is being awfully self-centered.  Just because he’s adventurous and likes to rock climb or plunge into cold water doesn’t mean that she shares his same interests.  When most women have their head’s on straight, they’d ditch that date right after it got started!!  But in their minds their handsome bachelor can do no wrong.  They’re mired in confirmation bias, and nothing he does will dispel them from their belief that he’s every woman’s fantasy.

Another way the show, The Bachelor, manipulates their women to fall in love quickly with their bachelor is to introduce the psychology of  “human competition” into the equation.  It’s no secret to anybody, least of all the women on the show, that they’re competing for their bachelor’s heart.  First of all, most people who compete would much rather win than lose.  Winning means to the victor that she’s the prettiest and most charming woman of them all.  Her ego gets a huge lift, and the answer she gets to her “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, whose the fairest of them all” question is simply music to her ears.  The losers of the Bachelor competition, on the other hand, generally feel like rejects and failures.  They’re left feeling  inadequate and worthless.  This very phenomenon explains why almost every woman that gets eliminated from the Bachelor whimpers and cries during her limousine ride back to the hotel where she will be asked to promptly pack her bags and leave the premises as soon as humanly possible.  As she’s crying, she’ll inevitably wonder out loud, “What did I do wrong?”  “Why wasn’t I good enough for him?”  “What did the other girls have that I didn’t?”  These types of thoughts and feelings cut through each woman’s heart like a knife.  To avoid this pain, each female competitor sets out to win.  After all, they equate associate losing with deep pain and winning with great pleasure.

Like in every competition, there are certain rules you must follow and criteria you must meet  in order to emerge victorious.  In the case of the Bachelor, the women must generally follow the following implicit rules in order to stand a chance of winning the bachelor’s heart:  She must demonstrate vulnerability, depth of emotion, physical affection,  and an open heart and soul.  And she must demonstrate the aforementioned as quickly as possible, because she’s up against other women who will gladly bear their souls at the drop of a hat to move onto the next rose ceremony and avoid the dreaded pain of losing.  Within days each woman is rushing the romantic process to outpace her peers on her race to cross the finish line and claim her prize:  The Bachelor. In this rush mode, she’s sharing with the Bachelor her greatest fears, her past traumas, her life dreams, her family history, her weaknesses, her strengths, etc.  She’s even sharing with him secrets she’s never shared with anyone else ever before because she really, really wants to win this competition and feel good about herself, and it makes her nauseous to think of how she’ll feel about herself if she loses.  What happens, though, when a woman shares these kinds of thoughts and feelings with a man is that her heart invariably opens.  She feels heard, validated, and connected.  If she shares these deep thoughts and feelings with a man at an accelerated pace, it’s only inevitable that she’s going to fall in love with him.

There’s one last psychological phenomenon that I’d like to touch on to support my hypothesis that the women are more or less programmed to fall in love with their season’s bachelor.  This phenomenon has to do with “unconscious mimicry.”  Essentially, human emotions are contagious.  Human motivation is contagious too.  That’s how come you’re more likely to get into a frenzy when you sit next to other frenzied football fans at a football game.  It’s also how come you’re more likely to laugh out loud when you’re sitting besides others who are laughing out loud while watching a comedy at a movie theater vs. when you’re sitting at home watching the same comedy on your couch.  Finally, it’s how come you’re more likely to work really hard at your job if you’re surrounded by co-workers who are really driven and hard working too.  In light of this, imagine now that you have 25 women who are falling in love with one man.  Given that emotions are contagious, just imagine how one woman’s lust for her bachelor emotionally affects the women around her.  Like the flu, her lust is going to spread, and the other women around her are going to catch what she’s feeling.  Pretty soon all the women have caught the love bug, and the bachelor can’t turn any of them away even if he tried.  Night after night, he offers a lucky woman a red rose, and each and every time she blushes and says, “Of course I’ll accept this rose.”

Image taken from colourose.com

Image taken from colourose.com

I wonder if the bachelor himself has any idea that while he may be a great guy, it’s not his princely charms that were causing every woman on the show to fall in love with him.  It had far more to do with the psychological spell and hypnotic trance that the participants on the show fell under than anything else.  I personally doubt that he had a clue.   It’s more likely that he momentarily forgets who he really is, and he merrily buys into the notion that he really is the cat’s meow.  That is,  until his season of the Bachelor finally comes to a close,  and at least half the women he goes on first dates with in the real world think he’s just alright and politely decline to go out with him again.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post!!

John Boesky, LMFT