Tag Archives: life

When people disagree, they are questioning reality

We often disagree about what is reality. This causes us pain and leads to anger. Is it possible that we can resolve this dilemma by looking at what we know as reality?

What is Reality anyway?

If the majority of us are so certain that we know what is real then why do we disagree?

It is well known that when two or more people witness an event they often describe it very differently. Some times their descriptions sound like two different events. Why is that?

We take in the events from the world around us thru our eyes and other sense organs. But our eyes don’t see the same thing. Yes, we think we see the same things with both eyes, but the images our brains receive are actually different. Our eyes are located on two opposite sides of our faces. Thus they have a different angle on the object we are observing. This difference in the images allows us to track objects and catch them.

How we hear sounds is even more complicated. Our ears are located on two sides of our heads and they distort the sound. The shape of our earlobes helps us to determine if a sound is coming from in front or behind us.

IF you don’t believe this try an experiment. Close your eyes and focus your attention on a sound. Now turn your head and see what happens to it. Does it sound louder with your head in a certain position?

Next, cup your hands behind your ears. Focus on a sound and then move your hands. Does the sound change?

When I tried this I noticed that sounds coming from a few feet in front of me are loudest. This is the area where people who are visually impaired are taught to position their white canes. Positioning the cane in this way informs the cane user what is in front of the user’s feet so they can determine where to take their next step. Using this caning technique prevented me from falling down stairs a number of times.

Thus the distortions our eyes and ears make while perceiving the world can help us. Our eyes assist us to track objects and catch things. Our ears prevent us from stepping on things.

If our eyes and ears distort what our brain receives, what else happens to the world as we become aware of it?

In our brains the signals from our eyes, ears, and other senses move along various neural pathways. First, they pass thru basic parts of our brains to determine whether or not the sensory input represents a threat. If a threat is detected then those parts of the brain that signal survival responses get activated. Our hands are already withdrawing from a flame before we realize they are being burned.

It is hard to overcome such reflexes. If we have a pain in our foot or knee we walk with a limp. By looking at how someone limps I can determine where the pain is before I even speak to my patient. Try it next time you see someone limp.

Next, the signals go to the areas of the brain where more complicated responses are elicited. These signals also serve to protect us. These areas (when activated) prepare us to fight or flee. We stop and focus our attention on the source of the stimuli. Hormones are then released so we can decide to either run or defend ourselves. We call this attention to the brain signals the startle and respond scenario.

For example the toot of a car’s horn can elicit this type of a response. It draws the driver’s attention to the events going on around him or her. The vehicle operator can then sort out what response to the horn blast is needed.

The response a driver chooses depends upon how he sorts out the additional information he receives. If it came from a car next to him, he might need to swerve to avoid colliding with another vehicle. If we are driving an unfamiliar car we might over or under steer.

Once I flipped a new car because I over-corrected while making a turn. If I had been in my old car I could have swerved a little less and missed the bicycle safely. In the new car I was unsure of exactly how far to turn to the left.

Thus what we sense from the world gets changed by the time we are aware of it. Psychologists have studied this in great depth. As a signal travels thru our brains it connects with more and more of the memories we stored.

This connecting a new event with past events enables us to recognize faces and greet a friend or avoid an enemy.

When we see someone who reminds us of a friend we relax and are more open. If the new person reminds us of someone who we fear we shy away. This constitutes a pre-judgment. If that person turns out to really be hostile we call it a good judgment of character. When the person turns out not to be dangerous we regard our assessment as a Prejudice.

Since the events stored in my brain are different from anyone else’s, the way I understand an event will differ from everyone else. This means I experience reality in ways unique to me.

If we see sticks as snakes, or even worse see snakes as sticks, there are problems. We won’t respond in an appropriate manner. We call those situations hallucinations.

Knowing how our brains filter what we see in the world around us enables us to understand why others don’t see things our way. It can also give us a glimpse into why others see things the way they do.

Next time you find yourself disagreeing with someone pause and ask yourself, “Why do I see it in my unique way?” What might be prompting the other to see it their way?

If each of us did this what would happen to the issues that divide us?

Could we use our perceptual information to discover our Prejudices and confront them?

As All Ways, Seek Joy

Does Disability give you a Zest for Life?

The thought that a Disability could give you a zest for life seems odd. For most of us the onset of Disability caused the zest we had for life to vanish. Yet, this is the opportunity to put real Zest back in our lives.

When Disability struck it took over our lives. What we thought we were able to do ceased. Weather Disability came in a physical or mental form it consumed us and became our identity.

Those around us no longer see us as more than our abilities. Rather they see us now as only the Disability, the Disability in a personal form.

Most people have no personal experience of human disability. They only have mental images of a disability and those images scare them.

When surveys ask what people worry about the most disabilities usually rank higher than traffic accidents. Yet traffic accidents are more common. The fear of disability is part of the fear of the unknown. Once it takes on a physical form, we become the living image of the disability.

Thus, we become our Disability in the eyes of others.

When others begin to see us as the Disability, they no longer see us for ourselves. Whatever we meant to them before we now become what they fear the most. No wonder so many friendships and marriages suffer with the onset of Disability.

This adds to the Disability spiral. First, others see us only as our Disability. Then we see the presence of Disability taking hold in our own lives and we begin to act disabled. The spiral continues as others see more of the disability than they see of us in our wholeness. It is possible, however, to use the interruption Disability creates in our lives to find the Zest for life!

Naturally we still want to do those things that used to put Zest in our lives. This desire provides us with the impetus to learn the new ways of doing things dictated by the presence of a Disability.

If a disability put you in a wheelchair you are aware that you can’t stand on the river bank any longer and fish. The good news is that there are wheelchair accessible peers where you can find modified boats. You can learn to transfer to a boat and fish with others. These are all processes that life with a Disability requires. These are skills most of us did not intentionally develop or develop as fully as crafting a life with a Disability now demands.

These are new skills we can use beyond coping with a disability.

When a person who is blind shows up to talk about plans for a park, he advocates that all will be able to participate. He forces planners to think of anyone who might come to the park. What would they want to do? How can they do it?

For those of us with a disability we now see that we are contributing beyond ourselves. We see that we are now able to contribute more than we did before.

Now our experience of disability has put Zest in our lives. Disability forced us to learn new things. We used those new skills to live beyond just being “Disabled.” We have reversed the Disability Spiral.

Our disabilities make us pause and look at life. Not only can we use the desire to renew our former activities to put Zest back into our lives, but it gives us the opportunity to try new things.

As we contemplate what to do next, we ask other questions. We ask the big questions of life. Now they have new relevance, as we have a new perspective.

In our adolescence we asked the big questions of life and found answers in terms of doing things. For many of us facing a Disability we found the answers in terms of acceptance.

Adolescents face life’s struggles as heroes. They dream of success and accomplishment. They are the center of their story. That led them to worry about how they will achieve those feats. They often found their lives consumed with stress. In order to achieve they had to do. They had to do more than they were able to do easily. They became overwhelmed by the “To Do’s.”

When Disability took our chance for success and achievement away, it also took our worry away. We can blame Disability for not succeeding an. release the stress. We now will achieve what we can achieve. This will have to be enough. The story will no longer be just about me, but my working with others.

We must accept limitation. Disability limits us. We realize that we had limits before Disability. In fact to be human is to be limited.

In accepting limitation we also accept the future as it will be, not as we want to make it. We can enjoy life. We can accept it as good.

We can find success in doing the little things. An artist friend of mine is learning to paint by holding a brush in her teeth. She is now quadriplegic. Getting the paint on the canvas to look the way she wants is success. That always is success for an artist.

IN What ways does Disability give you a Zest for Life?

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Lost in the wilderness?

A voice is heard calling from the willow, but you turn your head. A caress comes from the wind, yet you tighten your coat. The sun infuses you with knowledge, instead you feel scorched. Surrender to the forces, become one, and let them lead you to your greatness.” ― Shaman Elizabeth Herrera,

When we find ourselves stopped by a disability we become lost in the Wilderness. Yet as this quote suggests we need to calm down and become aware of our surroundings.  Our surroundings nurturer us constantly, but in our busy lives it gets overshadowed.

While we are morning for what we have lost, our dreams, our self-image, our identity, we need to be loved. Our impulse is to crawl into our shells and hide. Pulling back and taking a pause in our busy life plans is necessary, we also need to get in touch with what is our true essence.

There is a voice with us always. In our busy lives we rush to and fro and only listen to that voice that says do this and that. When we can no longer do this and that, we have the opportunity to listen to the quieter voices in our lives, the ones that come from our core.

As we listen for the quiet core messages we find other things too. We discover that we are not alone. We feel things, too.

We find the caresses that abound. Those soothing caresses come in the gentle sound of rain, or wind in the trees. They come from the concerns of friends and family. Suddenly we find we are loved not for what we can do, but for ourselves.

If we relax and open up, we can feel the sun. If we but open our eyes we can see what is around us. The splendor of a cold winter’s day, the shimmering green or summer leaves. Life goes on in its rhythm of contraction and renewal.

With the onset of disability, we have entered a time of contraction. Like the World in winter we must hibernate and prepare for the renewal to follow.  In the winter snow we see tracks of animals scurrying about. Few are around to be seen. Yet these animals are pregnant with new life.

New life to be born as spring thaws the snows. Most animals birth their young in the spring. So too, we will be reborn when our spring comes.

When I entered my Winter of Disability, I got in touch with Spiritual things I had put aside for my career. I read and studied the book of Job. I read Herbert Kurshner’s book “On why Bad things happen to Good People”.

For me the message of Job was to let go and let God hear my pains, to let God respond to my pains. In those moments of surrender I felt caressed and not alone, I found opportunity and freedom.

When you find yourself stopped by disability, use it as an opportunity to return to your core, Pray, Journal, meditate. Become grounded in what you have walked away from in your formerly busy life. From that time extract your story. Find who, you have really been, consult family and friends, about who they think you are.

When have you needed to pause and reflect/

How have you been able to get back in touch with yourself?

Share them in the comments here. Share your brokenness with those you love and trust.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

Ps, share what you enjoy here with others, send them the link.

Ways to know your life is in transition

When your life is in transition your may or may not know it. Some times like when we have a sudden event like college graduation, it is obvious. A sudden illness or injury also gives us a date for the change.

Since transitions are not just changes but the emotional changes that result, it is less obvious.

 Here are some ways to know your change is a transition.

You find yourself thinking about the past. That can either be good or bad. We learn much by reflecting back upon what we have done and coming up with better ways to do things, next time.  When our thoughts get stuck upon how good things were, and hot how good they can become, we are not preparing for the future.

Our dreams about the past tell us about our unfinished business. Our dreams are openings into our subconscious minds.  If we are flying high we are feeling good about ourselves. When we dream about running scared, there is something scaring us.  Seriously bad scares come out as Post Traumatic Stress.

You feel sad or lack energy. Transitions often leave us uncertain as how to proceed. Feeling sad and listless means we might be depressed about our current situation.

When you try to do something you are unsure as to why or exactly how to do it.  This can either mean you are truly doing new things or you are afraid to complete the task.  When familiar tasks seem hard, we should ask ourselves why?

You feel that things are just too confusing. You are at a loss for what to do next. During a transition we often find ourselves “Lost in a Jungle”. We have lost the familiar of the past, but have not found the certainty of a way forward. This sort of uncertainty is normal. It lasts for a brief while with planned changes, but unplanned changes take more time. Here is where a coach              might help you to ask the big questions about your life. They can help you find your direction again.

Your life will lack purpose when you are in an unplanned transition. Here you did not have a new job or whatever ahead.

When you were in a life transition how did you feel?

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

PS there is still time to sign up for my Webinar about transitioning thru a disability. I expect it to be helpful to anyone in a possible transition or their friends and family. You can sign up here