Poem by Lowry Foster
May 31, 2016

An elusive state of mind, so it seems
An always moving target, in my estimation …

Just when I think I have it in my grasp, it slips away
I am sure I have a hold of it and it is gone …

How can I keep my soul from wanting more?
Is it possible to restrain myself from yearning?

When will there ever be enough?
Is it part of me to be satisfied?

It seems I am always wanting more, more, more
My thirst increases with each passing hour …

Maybe the cravings deep within, the things of this world cannot meet?
The hole in my heart remains unfilled by worldly pleasures …

Lowry is a dear friend with a sensitive heart and the gift of accurately articulating his inner self. From time to time I use some of his poetry to reinforce my thesis of the value of inner-personal work. This poem about exploring the nature of contentment reminds us that inner peace comes not from getting what we want but rather wanting what we have. This idea is stated on pages 15 and 16 of my book.

Like Lowry’s facebook page where he often contributes his stream of consciousness.

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Coping Mechanisms

Learned Responses Based on Core Beliefs

The term “coping mechanisms” refers to our way of responding to the things that happen, both trivial and consequential on a day-to-day basis. Our reaction to events tend to be spontaneous and immediate which we usually interpret as our natural state. They come from a place of deeply held sense about what our place or role is in the situation. And, if articulated, these responses would express our convictions about what is right and proper. Because they are rarely reviewed and questioned, our responses define our underlying values in ways we are not aware of.

Where do coping mechanisms come from? If this question can be answered, there is hope that we can modify responses and achieve better outcomes. In Stages 1 and 2 of my book we are asked to review our history, the place our coping mechanisms were developed, and begin to have a better understanding of ourselves. The following three thoughts are suggested as a way to break down our internal complexities and gain insight into how we see our place and the roles we play. These three aspects are interconnected and operate simultaneously starting at a very young age.

Frist, we come to recognize a set of values that are imposed on us. These include; what actions are beneficial or detrimental, helpful or unhelpful, effective or ineffective, acceptable or unacceptable, productive or unproductive. The messages that define how we are to see the world are both subtle and dramatic and provide structure. These messages come from parents, teachers, peer groups and other authority figures. And the experiences we have within our environment continually reinforce an understanding of how the world works and what we can expect in any given situation. We adopt these values as rules to live by and are tied to them as if they were our emotional DNA.

The second element of developing coping mechanisms comes from the way we internalize, (how we see ourselves in comparison to), these values. For example, if high educational achievement is a value, we judge ourselves as either smart of dumb as students. If exemplary behavior is a value, we judge ourselves as either a good or bad person. If being respected by society is a value, we judge our character as either worthy or unworthy of respect. We make these internal assessments for a myriad of characteristics based on how others seem to react to our level of performance regarding these values. Slowly we develop a “self-image” of ourselves that is carried at a deep subconscious level where it is rarely challenged.

Finally, the third element is the overt actions that results from these values and comparisons. These are the coping mechanisms or reactive responses that are consistent with how we have internalized our ability to perform. If we see ourselves as a dumb person, we make little effort to work hard in school with the coping mechanism of being inattentive or disruptive. Alternatively, if we feel we are bright and intelligent, we revel in the praise and status of good grades. If we feel unworthy, our low self-esteem leads us to cope by being socially withdrawn. On the other hand, if we carry a view of ourselves as having a positive character, we gravitate to publicly visible positions as a leader or person of influence.

The examples provided here are admittedly over simplistic and do not account for the vast number of variations that coping mechanisms can take in real life situations. Any one characteristic exists on a continuum from very low to very high intensity. A person’s negative vs positive perspective may vary from melancholy on one end of the spectrum to ecstatic on the other end. And at the same time, coping mechanisms morph into unique variations when one is experiencing any number of other self-images such as, the ability to express oneself, the sense of being heard, the degree to which one will be misunderstood, or an underlying level of trust. When multiple factors are overlaid one on the other, is it any wonder that we are at a loss to explain our reactions?

My book outlines a process to recognize our coping mechanisms through taking responsibility for our actions and our behavior. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to start by trying to change a set of self-images in order to change behavioral reactions. It is far easier to change reactions to life situations and allow the feedback we receive from those around us to slowly modify what we think of ourselves. In the wise words of those who have experienced transformation:

We don’t think ourselves into a new way of acting rather we act ourselves into a new way thinking.

For more information of the process of change go to or to acquire the book go to

Values – Vision and Direction

What Makes the Difference?

What is the difference between a positive and a negative person? What is the difference between a motivated and a passive person? What is the difference between an influential person and one who follows the crowd? These are the questions that we seek to answer in our quest for “success” in our lives. Still, many of us are resigned to feeling our characteristics are somehow locked in place, inevitable and unchangeable.

So much of the popular self-help literature attempts to dispel the view of the inevitability of our behavior and promote change as simply a matter of surface characteristics. If you have tried some of the techniques suggested as methods to change attitudes; self-affirmation, visualization, self-talk and other motivational exercises, you may have become discouraged with failed attempts or short-lived benefits. The danger is that unsatisfactory results are often used to justify the belief that nothing can be done and revert to self-destructive defeatism.

Techniques of self-motivation are, unquestionably, important to maintain a high level of performance, but applying such technique must follow after the more fundamental work is completed. Values are the foundation of personal expression, the well-spring of motivational energy, the strength to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. Although difficult to develop, if values are carefully thought-out, clearly articulated, and diligently pursued, then our vision and direction is clear even if circumstances are confusing. Values are what make our efforts meaningful even if a particular result is not attained. Values allow us to stand for an ideal not fight against an argument. Making a commitment to principles, that are themselves timeless, means that we see beyond the moment and visualize something worth working for.

Values exist in the background of our lives. Values are not typically written in our resume or on the letterhead of our business stationary. If they are, it seems we are being pretentious or self-aggrandizing. Values define our demonstrated character and are reflected in our persona as if coming from an inner radiance. They are more about our core substance and less about our appearance.

In the September 2018 issue of Psychology Today the lead article by Steven C Hayes is 10 Signs You Know What Matters. Quoting from his introductory words:

“Values are what bring distinction to your life … From achievement and adventure to wisdom and wonder, not to mention kindness, innovation and professionalism, values are those things you deem important in life. As expressions of what you care about, they profoundly inform what you pursue day to day, year to year. In so doing, they fundamentally shape the trajectory of your whole life.

Values are an inexhaustible source of motivation – inexhaustible because they are qualities intrinsic to being and doing. They are visible through their enactments. They’re adverbs, or adjectives, or verbs … Because they are chosen qualities of actions, they can never be fully achieved, only embraced and demonstrated. Nevertheless, they give life direction and help us persist through difficulties. They nudge us, invite us, and draw us forward. They provide a constant soft encouragement.”

Steven C. Hayes is a clinical psychologist and Nevada Foundation Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Psychology, where he runs a Ph.D. program in behavior analysis Visit his web page at:

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Counter-Intuitive: Poem by Lowry Foster

Lowry is a dear friend with a sensitive heart and the gift of accurately identifying and articulating his inner self. From time to time I use some of his poetry to reinforce my thesis of the value of inner-personal work. Please take a moment of quiet reflection and use his words to get in touch with that sacred place inside yourself you rarely go.

December 5, 2016

There are times when I feel I’m not in control and can’t fix it;
Everything within me wants to push away and pull within …

My default draws me toward darkness and isolation;
Where I am free to despair and throw my own pity party …

In these very depths I hear a Voice that joins me;
And point me toward the light …

Invariably it helps counter-intuitively to get my eyes off me;
To remind myself it’s not all about me and how can I help someone else.

Like Lowry’s facebook page where he often contributes his stream of consciousness.

I find this poem very reminiscent of the thoughts expressed in Stage 12 of the book starting on page 114.

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Other Writers – Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence
by Daniel Goleman
Published by Bantam Dell a Division of Random House, Inc.
Tenth Anniversary Edition,
1995 and 2005

Not coming from a background of scientific psychological study and not being prone to read such material, I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for taking the time to be exposed to the depth and breadth of this book. Like many people, I had a vague idea that research was being done in areas of the human brain activity in relationship to learning, behavior and in innate responses, but had little comprehension of the powerful findings of how Emotional Intelligence is being applied in therapy as well as being on the cusp of implementation in society in general. The need, as the author points out, is vitally important in our society as institutions and mores change rapidly and in seemingly chaotic ways.

Emotional Intelligence is a relatively new term, posited in the late 20th century, to bring together many specific areas of study. Separately, research is being done on how modes of behavior are imprinted on our psyche, and include the use of neuroscience to visualize the functioning of the human brain as experience moves through the circuitry. The combination of this whole body of work has been a growing synthesis to where this book argues that the human experience is lived with two distinct, co-equal, continually active, forms of awareness. These are the intellectual brain (rational, interpretive, problem-solving – executive functions) and the emotional brain (reactive / impulsive, action-oriented, motivational – feeling functions).

The marrying of these evolving understandings of the whole person is that the emotional brain, just as the intellectual brain, needs training and refinement in all of life’s stages from infancy, through early childhood, into preadolescence and adolescence. And the good news is that retraining a unique set of preprogramed responses in adults can be accomplished with directed awareness, non-judgmental support and careful reconstruction of triggering events.

The five Parts in sixteen chapters of this book take the reader through the complexity of human emotional laying out the brain architecture, chemical / neural interactions, sensory clues, response memory, and the myriad of variations that can develop from both natural predispositions and environmental conditions. That is to say, there are general rules, but the path in calibrating emotional response needs to be creatively done with each individual and in conjunction with the help of a uniquely empathetic mentor who has the capacity to gain trust and relate in a genuine / authentic way to the emotions being expressed.

My contribution to the ideas of relearning emotional responses is based on my path from a starting point of virtually complete emotional devastation to a place of inner-peace where my responses to difficulties were no longer subject to being hijacked by unresolved past experiences. I put together the Process based on personal work with the help of others in the process of change and with my observations of them I witnessed the enormous benefit of honesty, integrity and humility. My coming to self-awareness and acceptance was one of trial and error, rather than a well-controlled approach. Non-the-less, I attest to all of the conclusions of Dr. Goleman, one in particular seen on page 285 in the Chapter; Schooling the Emotions, (paraphrased) “… It’s not just for those with problems, but all can benefit from these skills; these are an inoculation for life”.

Visit his web site at:

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit the web site or to acquire the book go to

When we’ve lost our humanity? – Support

When do we know we’ve lost our humanity?

When the support is gone from our friendship.

We are most helpful when we listen in a non-judgmental way when a friend needs to talk.

Friendship is among the most valuable possessions in our lives particularly when we need to unburden ourselves. Being able to get our inner thoughts out and hear non-emotional objective feed-back from a trusted friend is a priceless gift. In the book such a process is noted as an exercise in getting to know our real selves which is greatly enhanced when we are free to express our vulnerability.

The act of exposing ourselves and inviting friends to bare witness is essential for change to take place. The act of bringing friends into the process fulfills the requirements of honesty, integrity and humility as a foundation as stated on page 50. “We demonstrate honesty when we are willing to expose exactly what is going on with us. We demonstrate integrity when we make no excuses or rationalizations for what we know to be true. And we show humility when we take responsibility for what we know to be true”.

What secrets have we kept that we feel would be too embarrassing to relate to a close friend? How would I feel after relating this if the friend said it didn’t seem all that bad?

These concepts are expressed in Stage 5 of the book.

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site or to acquire the book go to
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