Category Archives: Decisions

Out-of-the-Box Conflict Management – 61 Real Life Stories

Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree

Human beings are incredibly creative.

When I first heard about the idea of this book "Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree", it was from the author’s father, Steve Andreas. Steve was doing a training in Australia on “Self-Esteem”. On the first day, he also mentioned that he was collecting stories about people who had been in traumatic situations.

In particular, he was searching for real experiences from people who had “handled conflict” in a way that had turned the situation completely around and made it life-affirming and inspiring.

He knew that there are many, many different and often surprising ways to do what people call ‘conflict resolution’, and he was trying to find as many examples as he could.

Five years later, this book finally arrives, written by his son Mark Andreas. I am delighted to share one of these stories with you from Mark himself.

Have a listen to this ‘conflict management’ technique, as used in an experience of a mugging by six men in the back streets of Glasgow…

Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree: 61 Stories of Creative & Compassionate Ways out of Conflict

The Power Of Negative Thinking

This a quote from a subheading in one of my favorite books of all time, “The Peter Principle“.

But in fact this approach has a long and rich history.

I am just about to head overseas on a 2 month trip with my wife and 3 small kids – and leave my counselling practice unattended for all that time.

For many reasons, this was something I assumed I would NEVER be able to do.

With the Power of Negative thinking (done more informally than Tim suggests in his video below) I managed to do it.

Think of this as a farewell from me – til November anyway – and, an invitation to you to apply negative thinking in your life for your success.

-Dr Martin Russell

Serious Illness And Trauma – Support For The Carers

In my original 7 years of training to be a medical doctor there were gaps.

Some of those gaps I have filled. I spent time with Aboriginal people in rural Australia. I assessed elderly and frail people for admission to Aged Care facilities (aka Nursing Homes.) I also spent time working in a hospital Palliative Care unit caring mostly for people dying of cancer, but also Multiple Sclerosis and other illnesses. Then I took up as a family doctor which covers all areas of medicine, including visiting patients (aka people) in their own homes. Ooh wow.

In all this I still never got the sense of what it was actually like to be a relative, friend or carer of someone who is seriously ill or hospitalized.

Medicine never taught me this.

I still don’t have much experience in this area. (Un?)fortunately most of those around me have remained healthy and well.

This is a gap in the training of most doctors and nurses.

This is one area where the medical system isn’t going to help you very much.

It’s hard to help yourself when there are very few people to turn to for expertise.

However I saw a story on TV about a guy who does know a bit more about this, Dale Elliott (www.DaleElliott.com), who is now a sit-down/stand-up comedian, professional speaker, and the first paraplegic skydiver in Australasia.

Dale’s story is that at age 26 he broke his spine and lost the use of his legs coming off a motorbike. But it was only after his short 2-month stay in hospital that he discovered how many issues there had been for his colleagues, friends, and family while he was concentrating on getting well.

He took this experience and turned it into a self help tool for carers of people with serious illnesses and trauma.

It is called ‘I’m Thinking Of You’.

Since its launch in 2007 the site has attracted TV attention as well as private and corporate recognition. It has cost over $300,000 to setup, and over a thousand “Care Zones” have been created. Much more is to come.

If you know a carer who supporting someone ill in hospital or rehabilitation then have them check out this site to support them and take a big hassle off their already full plate…

www.ImThinkingOfYou.com.au (don’t worry about the .au – this site is used worldwide – 30% from the US alone.)

-Dr Martin Russell

Human Limitations

Human beings are remarkably limited creatures.

We can only handle a small range of physical enviroments. We die if we are too hot, cold, get too little oxygen or too much carbon monoxide. We can’t see X-rays or radio waves or even infrared or ultraviolet. We can’t hear dog whistles or most geological rumbles.

Heck we can’t even detect magnetic energy.

We can’t fly like a bird. We can’t run as fast as most cats or dogs. We can’t go underwater very far at all.

But for almost all of these physical limitations we have found a way around them with our ingenuity and creativity.

More interesting are the psychological limitations.

There are many such limitations we have, but a Dr Albert Bartlett claims there is one that stands out…

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

I would expand this to include other areas of non-linear thinking such as the reality-shattering 80/20 rule.

But rather than get bogged down in jargon, let’s simplify it.

Removing limitations is fun.

Let Dr Bartlett take you on a whirlwind tour of undoing one particular human limitation…

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5051121482067161853

[This video is in fact the first half and the other half seems to be lost to the world. However there is a complete transcript you can find here.]

-Dr Martin Russell

Self Help… Thinking Bigger

Self help can often seem very individual and isolated.

However when I say ‘self help’ it includes the idea that no man/woman is an island.

If you are reading this then chances are you are in a very priviledged position compared to most of the 6+ billion humans on this planet.

There is an entire world around us and lots of other people in that world too.

As individuals our fates are often tied to the people, culture, financial system, politics etc etc around us.

However if you don’t take these bigger factors into account, your own individual efforts can end up swamped by the tide of history.

One of these factors is this…

I do not believe that the next 20 years will be ANYTHING like the last 20 years.

What works today, will often NOT work tomorrow, because the future will not just be a straight line continuation of the past.

Helping yourself will show others that it is possible.

Helping yourself will also put you in a position to help people who haven’t planned for an altered future.

Like they say on airplanes safety instructions, “Please make sure you have your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”

I encourage you in these turbulent times to view these videos here as a starter…
http://www.chrismartenson.com/crash-course

Take these bit by bit. Each one is a treasure of bigger thinking, and it is the best presented version I know of how thinking bigger can really be self help.

Oh, and just for the record, I only go along with with 95% of everything he says. I’ll let you judge what the 5% is.

-Dr Martin Russell

Exercise And Weight Loss… The Final Nail?

The problem with studying exercise for weight loss is that you can’t really disguise the exercise.

If exercise came in a pill you could do it.

You could get a big group of people and randomly give half the pill with exercise in it, and the other half a dummy, sugar pill that looks, smells, tastes etc just the same (aka a ‘placebo’.)

This is the scientific way to test whether pills works for weight loss.

But what about exercise?

It’s a bit hard to have a ‘dummy, sugar pill’ for physical activity. The sweating and heart-pumping bit sort of gives it away.

What this means is that for exercise for weight loss there is no way to do the gold-standard of a “double-blind, placebo-controlled” study.

Is this a problem?

Oh my wordy, YES!

Time after time it has been shown that the psychological power of medicines is a huge part of their overall effectiveness.

But is this specifically a problem for exercise and weight loss?

Well I only know of one good study that covers that question.

The researchers didn’t invent a dummy, sugar pill, but they did the next best thing as Ben Goldacre at Bad Science reports

Alia Crum and Ellen Langer from Harvard psychology department took 84 female hotel attendants in 7 hotels. They were cleaning an average of 15 rooms a day, each requiring half an hour of walking, bending, pushing, lifting, and carrying.

These women were clearly getting a lot of good exercise, but they didn’t believe it: 66.6% of them reported not exercising regularly, and 36.8% said they didn’t get any exercise at all.

The study abstract reports that one group of the hotel attendants was…

…told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided.

Subjects in the control group were not given this information.

Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before.

As a result, compared with the control group, they [the hotel attendants who were told that their cleaning job was in fact ‘exercise’] showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index.

These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.

Now here is the really interesting bit.

HOW MUCH weight did people lose in 4 weeks merely by being thinking they were exercising?

These details are from PsyBlog

The average weight of those in the intervention group reduced from 145.5 lbs to 143.72 lbs. Over the same period the control group showed no significant change. For those of you working metric-style that’s 66.14 kg down to 65.33 kg.

That’s weight loss of almost 2 pounds, just under 1 kilogram, in just 4 weeks.

Not bad huh, for doing nothing extra?

So here’s the kicker.

Doesn’t that sound scarily similar to the 1 kilogram or 2.5 pounds in 12+ weeks that is the ENTIRE benefit of exercise anyway?!!!

[If you didn’t know this was all exercise does, see my previous post with the scientific evidence.]

Exercise, if done for weight loss alone, has suddenly become not just a minor factor, but instead an utter waste of time!

Could this really be the final nail in the exercise / weight loss coffin?

Massive industries of gyms, fitness equipment manufacturers, personal trainers etc etc hope it’s not true.

But what is there left that could resurrect exercise as a real weight loss tool?

If any one knows, I’m all ears.

-Dr Martin Russell

The Diet Spring Clean

Welcome Readers, old and new … it’s Spring in the Southern Hemisphere!

Time for that famous phrase “spring clean” – making sure things are not just tidied away or half-done, but thoroughly cleaned out ready for summer.

Do you want to lose weight, a little or lots?

Do you want to stop feeling guilty, or ‘out of control’ around food?

Have you tried eating differently, and either it was great for a while but then fell back, or it simply didn’t get the results you wanted at all?

Then this is could well be for you.

But What Is A ‘Diet Spring Clean’ ???

Thanks to Radio 5AA’s Amanda Blair, who herself ended up using just such a non-dieting approach through her own trial and error, for letting me announce this on her show on Sept 24 and recommending people come here to find out more.

I’m anti-diet, because for 95+% of people they don’t work in the long term.

People who go on diets are likely to regain all the weight they lost if not more, AND end up feeling bad and guilty about their eating as well.

Not a good result!

So instead, I’m proposing a whole clean-out of your approach to your weight, what you eat (the original meaning of the word diet before “the industry” took it over), the way you eat, your mindset, and food in general – a total “diet spring clean”.

What could possibly sweep clean aside all those rules, restrictions, “healthy” hints, nutrition tips, calorie counting, and “helpful advice” that infests the media, our friends and families, and often ourselves?

Four simple steps…

  • Step 1.  When you are hungry, eat.
  • Step 2.  Eat what you want (NOT what you think you should.)
  • Step 3.  Savour every mouthful.
  • Step 4.  When you are full, stop.

That’s it. Really.

No pills. No surgery. No meal replacements, shakes, supplements, counting, points, calories, carbs etc etc etc aaaAARFGH! Stop!

Everything else is unnecessary clutter and garbage, until and unless you have these 4 steps in place.

Skeptical?

Good. I would be too.

In fact I was very skeptical when I first came across this, and I needed to know much more.

I’ve set up a way for you to learn more too. There is an interview with complete detail of the 4 steps packed into a short 27 minutes, and it’s all yours completely for FREE.

Simply put in the details so we can send you local Adelaide details including the interview. Type in your name, email address, and click Send.

Full Name:

Email Address:

-Dr Martin Russell

Introducing Gavin de Becker

One of the biggest aspects of self-help is most certainly safety and it’s opposite, danger.

A huge chunk of psychiatry is taken up with the manifestations of this issue – anxiety, phobias, worry, self-confidence issues, paranoias, anger, violence.

A patient of mine gave me the trememdous gift of introducing me to a man who specializes in helping people living in anxiety and fear.

For those of you like me who hadn’t heard of Gavin de Becker before, he is an American specialist in security issues, especially for governments, corporations, and celebrities, and yet his core message is very much for individuals in our everyday life.

When he was 10 Gavin de Becker watched his mother shoot his stepfather while his 2-year-old sister slept in her bedroom. When he was 16, his mother, a heroin addict, killed herself. Violence and things to fear has been an integral part of his life, and his work.

I was first given his book Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (And Parents Sane)” which was more meaningful for the fact that I have 3 young children of my own…

A generation ago, in Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, Benjamin Spock told parents that they already possessed most of the important knowledge about their children’s health. Similarly, when it comes to predicting violence and protecting children, I submit that you already know most of what you need to know.

You have the wisdom of the species, and the expert voice that matters most is yours. Yet, society has trained us to believe that we don’t know the answers, that professionals know what’s best and that good parents listen to them. As a result, we have come to believe that we will find certainty outside ourselves. We won’t, of course, but we can find the illusion of certainty, particularly if that’s what we’re willing to settle for.

-Dr Martin Russell

As Easy As…

maths-exam-answers-6.jpg

…knowing there is an alternative.

Life is a different sort of exam than we had at school.

There are more answers than you might have originally thought.

Be aware of the answer everyone else is giving, but there are always alternatives, so discover the ones that work for you.

It pays to take a second look.

-Dr Martin Russell