Laws, Theories, Beliefs Or Rules-Of-Thumb

I don’t think the “Law of Attraction” would be so popular if it was called the “Theory of Attraction”?

I don’t think it would have become famous from a book titled “My Belief About Attraction”?

Does calling something a Law make it similar in reality and significance to the “Law of Gravity”?

I don’t think so.

I can toss an apple up into the air and have it come down.

Watching an apple fall to the ground may seem to confirm the idea that what goes up must come down, but that statement is known to be false. You can throw a Voyager spacecraft up into the sky and never expect it to come back down.

Gravity still applies even though you’ve found an exception to the “what goes up must come down” rule-of-thumb.

This is what I suggest the “Law of Attraction” really is all about. It’s not a law – it’s a rule-of-thumb.

Attraction doesn’t work in all circumstances. In fact it is sometimes totally 180 degrees wrong. But it’s a better starting point than many others, as long as you recognize that this is all it is. A start.

One of the few outright jokes I tell to distract people in therapy goes something like this…

A preacher was giving his usual sermon when all of a sudden there was a cloud burst and rain began pouring down. It was so heavy that after a while the whole church began flooding and people were evacuating the church, but the preacher just stood there preaching in the ankle-deep water.

A man drove by in a car and shouted through the church doors, “Preacher, the rivers are overflowing their banks. You better get out of there before you drown!”

The preacher replied, “Don’t worry. God will save me.”

The man then drove away.

The water was now knee-deep and a man in a raft floated over to the church and said to the preacher, “You better get in here before you drown!”

The preacher just stood there and replied, “Don’t worry. God will save me.”

The man then rowed away.

The water was now waist-deep and a man in a power boat came to the preacher and said, “You better get out of there before you drown!”

The preacher stayed right where he was and replied “Don’t worry. God will save me.”  With that the man jetted away.

The water was now neck-deep and a man in a helicopter came by and yelled to the preacher, “You better get out of there before you drown!”

The preacher refused to move and replied, “Don’t worry. God will save me.”

With that the man flew away.

The water then got so deep that the preacher was sucked under and died. When he opened his eyes he noticed that he was in heaven.

He then saw God and asked, “Oh God!  Why didn’t you save me from that horrible flood?”

God replied, “I sent you a car, a raft, a power boat, and a helicopter!  What else do you want from me?”

-Dr Martin W. Russell

Only 5 Hours Remain

The Self Help offer of my products AND James Brausch’s “Time Life Management 101″ ends at 5pm US EST.

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-Dr Martin W. Russell

36 Hour Offer

The credit for making this site a reality goes to a guy called James Brausch.

He wasn’t really the inspiration for this site, more like a solid kick up the butt.

Anyway, he got me to do something I was thinking wouldn’t happen for at least 3 years, if ever. I’ve got much else to credit the guy for (after I finish applying the bandages) but now’s my chance to pay back the favour.

I’m making a special offer.

James has a slap-around-the-head audio CD called “Time Life Management 101″, and he’s doing a buy one, get one free offer.

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OR

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His CD and my products fit well together.

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-Dr Martin W. Russell

“Law of Attraction” Is Good?

I continue to be amazed that the term “Law Of Attraction” has become the catch-cry of the first decade of this new millenium.

A movie like “The Secret” fits a certain era.

I think LoA’s preeminence could only come about from long periods of strong economic growth, just like we have had over the past couple of decades or generations.

A similar boomtime happened in the 1980’s. The signature movie then was “Wall Street”.

It is a very different movie, but it too has a catchy phrase that summed up the era. It was from the movies’ main protagonist, Gordon Gekko.

His actual speech was…

“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed—for lack of a better word—is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms—greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge—has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed—you mark my words—will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. ”

Otherwise known as, “Greed Is Good”.

I think “Law of Attraction” is a eerily similar catch-cry, even though it is supposedly totally opposite.

The bottom line is that in a decade from now it is my bet that people will cringe whenever LoA is mentioned. That is except for those of us who are already cringing at it.

-Dr Martin W. Russell

Is Depression Overdiagnosed?

It’s really interesting to watch this debate going on, especially when it gets into very high level medical journals like this Head to Head debate in the British Medical Journal here:

No: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7615/329

Yes: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7615/328

Depression in its various different clinical descriptions over the years has been claimed to be present in anywhere from 1% to 17% of the US population.

As a counselor I am pleased when as a society we recognize the extent to which people having moods that they try to cover up from the rest of society. People have felt alone and isolated with “depression” and “anxiety” for too long.

The destigmatization of depression has however been subverted. It has been taken into the realm of a medical illness needing medication as treatment.

In my work with people I prefer to destigmatize it differently

People come to me saying they have been diagnosed with Depression. I then get them to detail what they expected their life to be, what their life actually has come to at his point, and their likely future outcomes if they continue on their current path.

More often than not I find that I then can ask them this question….

“Having told me all that do you think you should feel anything other than depressed?”

Confronting question? I hope so. Too confronting? For some it can be, and so sometimes I don’t use this approach. At least not in the first session.

Perhaps you’re saying I should be more positive with them about their life.

Perhaps you’re thinking that their depression is causing them to look at their life, past and future, in a bleak way. They really would be happy if they noticed all the good stuff. And that is true. It would be one way to do it.

But it’s not the only way.

In my experience, many people can handle the bizarre idea that their emotions might in fact be honest, direct, warts-and-all feedback about their life.

From this strange ‘negative’ beginning they can start to face their issues for themselves.

I destigmatize such emotions as depression by giving people back the permission to trust their emotions, rather than believe solely in their so-called rational thinking.

That’s what I mean by turning around people’s lives, whether from depression, or other things in life you might have been unable to resolve up to now.

And it is useful for so many of the people who come to me that I put this together:

http://www.SelfHelpMeeting.com

Being depressed is common. Being stuck in it is not useful. The diagnosis of Depression too often leads people to stay stuck, and for me that is overdiagnosis.

-Dr Martin W. Russell

Television Un-Reality

TV has a lot to answer for, particularly in terms of therapy.

Television has been blamed for 101 problems in the world, and I’d like to add a few more.

For example, was there ever any likelihood of one of the characters in Seinfeld changing when they went to counselling?

What would have happened to the show if their fears, social skills, neuroses, or quirks had been turned into something more functional in general society?

There is a cynical line about therapy, that people go to therapy not to be cured of their problems, but to perfect them.

Well on TV they go to therapy to find new and more extreme ways to dramatize their problems.

But this isn’t even my main concern about TV.

The fact that TV is poor at representing therapy and counselling is no surprise.

After all, it is equally bad at representing most areas of real life.

At least there are more toilets in TV homes these days than the constipated lot of previous eras.

No, the real problem is more insidious.

It’s the mangling of social communication and interaction skills.

Here’s what I mean.

Actors are acting.

They are not exhibiting real human body language, real human speech patterns, or real intonations in their voices.

And yet we watch them in more closely examined detail than many people in our day to day lives.

How well can our brains distinguish the mismatch between acting and reality?

Just take for example watching someone on a TV show telling a lie. As we watch and try to work out the plot and decide if they are lying or not, we are trying to read confusing signals. They are all acting, so they are all lying!

So…

Is the solution to watch less TV and get more human interaction?

Maybe.

Or is the solution to make sure we know how to use different communication skills for our day to day lives, than we do for TV?

And how might we know when we can trust that we’re successfully noticing these distinctions?

Ah, forget it. Let’s just watch ‘reality’ TV shows instead.

-Dr Martin W. Russell

Self-Assessment And Self-Esteem

One of the basic assumptions in any self help process has to be that you can assess yourself.

However when a survey shows that 60% of drivers on the road think they have above average driving skills, this is not an assumption that can be taken for granted.

How well do you assess your own performance, in driving, and in the rest of your life?

How well do you assess your ability to assess your own performance?

In medical school I got to meet a lot of perfectionists. It was all part of being in a system that at that time only allowed entry on the basis of high academic results.

I remember chatting to a very dejected fellow student.

He had just completed his viva assessment, where instead of writing answers down on an examination sheet, you actually have to give them live to a panel of assessors.

This is along the lines of the standard cure in medicine for social phobia – which is just to throw them in the deep end. Think about this if a doctor is recommending such a treatment for you.

Anyway he was wailing and trembling about his poor performance, and how he thought he had studied so well, and yet found himself unable to answer almost all their questions.

I later found out he came second to top.

So I fronted him.

What was all this about his ‘poor performance’?

Well, he too had wondered this and had gone back to the examiners and asked them.

Their response was that he had passed the exam after only the first 2 questions. But he had answered so well that they had decided to find out what the limits of his knowledge were and grilled him on the most advanced and detailed stuff they could.

How was he to know this?

What self-assessment could he have done to keep his ‘self-esteem’ intact?

Another example.

In a research study, people were given a written test, and then asked to guess their score before they were told the results.

The researchers were wanting to know how accurate people’s guesses were.

Here is what they found.

Everyone tended to think they were about average!

Overall, those who had better than average scores guessed they didn’t do as well as they actually did, while those who did worse than average thought they got a higher mark.

The researchers’ theory was when people with higher marks thought they did worse, that kept them striving to do better next time, and made them learn more so they got better than average marks.

Those who got poor marks and were over-rating their own performance, never gave themselves the same incentive to improve so they continued to get worse marks and not notice it.

So what might you take away from this yourself?

Here’s a couple of my suggestions for people reading this who are more likely to be on the more self-motivated end of the human spectrum.

First, if you think you are doing well, just check how you know this.

Second, if you think you are doing poorly at something, then you may well be wrong. At least when compared with other people’s performance.

One give-away for this is when people are telling you that you have low self-esteem, or poor self-image. They are saying you are rating yourself lower than others do.

Unfortunately what others call ‘low self-esteem’ may actually be part of what keeps you excelling.

I suggest you be wary of accepting such comments from even the most well-meaning of friends and counsellors.

-Dr Martin W. Russell

The House Of Interns

When I was training to be a doctor there was one book that was the “underground” text for our training.

It was a book that I only heard once mentioned officially… and that was to be told “Don’t read it.”

Imagine what we did with that instruction!
It was the story of a fresh medical intern coming to grips with difference between medicine as sacred truths, and medicine as a daily job.

It was called “The House Of God” by Samuel Shem, and I got hold of it in about my third year of training.

You could think of it like a hospital version of “Catch-22”. It is seriously black and twisted.

Television programs glorify medicine.

This book scribbles graffiti over it instead.

But when I first read “The House Of God” it didn’t make sense to me. I hadn’t had any similar experiences, so it just seemed cruel and unreal.

When I was an intern it made soooo much good sense.

If you have been trying to learn something and it’s not working for you, get a mentor who has been further along on the path you want to go.

If it is for self help, then my products for that are listed on the side.

However if you are online and want to learn internet business and marketing skills, then I have something for that too…

http://www.DrMartinRussell.com/intern/

Oh, and by the way. In keeping with the theme of this blog the Intern Program will have self-help components in it.

The biggest stumbling blocks in a career, or in business, are often in yourself rather than any particular skills that might be missing.

So I always recommend choosing learning that includes more than just the specific skill set for the tasks.

-Dr Martin W. Russell

Routinely Sleeping Well

Usually when people hesitate to take sleeping medication, it’s because they are concerned about the risk of becoming addicted.

But a few years ago a gentleman came to see me in my counseling practice because he was addicted instead to relaxation tapes.

He would go to bed at night and if he didn’t play one of these tapes he would find himself tossing and turning, mind racing, unable to get to sleep until 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning.

This had been happening for years.

There was one recording in particular he listened to the most, but sometimes even that didn’t work, so he would switch to one of the others he had until he found one that got him to sleep again.

He had tried to “get off” the tapes many times, but he had had to accept that this was the way things were for him, and as he said to me, “At least I’m not on any pills.”

It turned out that this had all begun when his wife died. He had had problems sleeping, and had begun to listen to tapes to help him relax and had found them very helpful.

This success was his downfall.

His mind and body began to associate falling asleep with listening to his recordings, to the point where he required them. Each time he tried to stop he was unable to sleep. If he was on medication the technical term would be “rebound insomnia”.

Now all of us have this psychological ability to connect one experience with another.

In fact this is the principle at work when you have a sleep routine. The idea of a sleep routine is to have a unique way of letting your mind and body know that this is the time to go to sleep. The routine could be changing into bed clothes, brushing your teeth, having some warm milk, simply switching out the light and climbing into bed, or a combination of things.

This gentleman had accidentally chosen listening to a relaxing tape.

Whatever your routine is, when you build up a strong association with sleeping, you can rely on it to help you get to sleep each and every night.

Your natural addiction ability is just waiting for you to make it a routine.

-Dr Martin W. Russell