Category Archives: Humor

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

Psychological Magic

One of my favorite lines in hypnosis is the idea that you “know much more than you know you know”… at least unconsciously.

There is so much information in the world that it is impossible to take it all in consciously.

You know a part of it, but what do you know without recognizing it.

As I write this there is the feeling of my shoes on my feet, the hum of the computer and the color of the walls around me that I ‘know’ at least at some level but I take for granted.

I loved magic as a kid but ended up in mind tricks instead. The two are very linked as thisvideo shows.

[This may seem like a pretty simple bit of magic, but it gets more interesting about half-way through.]

-Dr Martin Russell

Working Through A Problem

What the **** does that mean really?

What does it mean to “get over” something?

What about “sort it out”?

And as for “deal with it”, are our lives some variation on Blackjack that we just need the right hand to show up?

It’s one of the questions I pondered when I made the “Self Help Me Over” online video product. People had come to me over the years in my counselling practice requesting exactly these things, and so I decided to record the consultation I would give people to help fulfill this request.

But I didn’t cover how to “work through” something.

Well I’ve just been sent some information that appeals to my sense of absurdity about the English Language.

If you have an emotion you need to “work through” then this is from NLPCo.com and it is for you…

The Tunnel Technique

1. Notice where in your body you feel the emotion. With your hands, remove it from yourself and put it front of you. Expand the image until it’s the size and shape of a doorway.

2. On the other side of the doorway is a tunnel of the emotion. In a moment, you will enter the tunnel and walk through it to find out what is on the other side. But there is a rule: once entering the tunnel you must keep walking.

3. Having agreed to keep moving your feet, step into the tunnel, close the door behind you, and feel the emotion surrounding you as you keep moving until you discover the exit on the other side. (This has never taken more than 30 seconds.)

4. Going through the emotion and out the other side typically moves a person into a very different place emotionally. Going through guilt can lead to freedom, going through rage can lead to compassion, but … sometimes it goes to other strong emotions which have been suppressed or masked. When that happens, go through that emotion as well until you’ve reached a place which feels healthy and whole.

You may consider doing this with someone around, even a counsellor, but for the 60-120 seconds the whole thing takes it’s worth giving this a go.

The morning after I read about this I was thinking about an emotion of disgust from my medical school days. I could handle dead bodies, but mucus and phlegm and spit was always a choking and gagging revulsion for me. I used The Tunnel Technique on it and now it’s unpleasant still (I do NOT want to drink a spittoon) but without the gagging or turning away.

One method of self-help is to be aware of your language, and do what it suggests literally.

With the appropriate techniques you can even turn “working through”, into “playing through”.

Golf anyone?

-Dr Martin Russell

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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

Lily The Pink

People say that your adult life is shaped by your childhood experiences.

Now I have my own young children I begin to recall all sorts of nursery rhymes, songs and tunes I haven’t heard for ages. What effect did they have on me I wonder?

I’m not sure that my mum singing “The Purple People-Eater” greatly influenced my future development, but just recently I’ve been getting a song stuck in my head called “Lily The Pink”.

So with a bit of hunting in Wikipedia I find that “Lily The Pink” is an English drinking song based on “Lydia Estes Pinkham (February 9, 1819 – May 17, 1883) who was an iconic concocter and shrewd marketer of a commercially successful herbal-alcoholic “women’s tonic” meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.”

The traditional “Lily The Pink” has verses like these two…

Peter Whelan
He was sad
Because he only had one nut
Till he took some of Lydia’s compound
Now they grow in clusters ’round his butt.

And Uncle Paul
He was terribly small.
He was the shortest man in town.
So on his body he rubbed medicinal compound,
And now he’s six foot, underground.

I have a sanitized version stuck in my head, and this was a hit in the UK just before I was born.

Maybe this was the start of my upbringing to becoming a medical sceptic?

All I can say is that anytime someone tells me they have found a medicine or natural cure that seems to work on anything and everything, then this song pops into my head (the full original lyrics are below the video)


Chorus:
We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Verses:
Mr. Frears
had sticky-out ears
and it made him awful shy
and so they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s learning how to fly.

Brother Tony
Was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.

Old Ebeneezer
Thought he was Julius Caesar
And so they put him in a Home
where they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s Emperor of Rome.

Johnny Hammer
Had a t-t-terrible s-s-stammer.
He could b-barely speak a word.
So they gave him medicinal compound,
And now he’s seen, but never heard.

Auntie Millie
Ran willy-nilly
When her legs, they did recede
And so they rubbed on medicinal compound
And now they call her Millipede.

Jennifer Eccles
had terrible freckles
and the boys all called her names
but she changed with medicinal compound
and now he joins in all their games.

Lily the Pink, she
Turned to drink, she
Filled up with paraffin inside
and despite her medicinal compound
Sadly Picca-Lily died.

Up to Heaven
Her soul ascended
All the church bells they did ring
She took with her medicinal compound
Hark the herald angels sing.

Oooooooooooooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

The original and complete vinyl recording is here;

http://www.youtube.com/embed/6ETDp6xzJko

-Dr Martin Russell

Doctors And Empathy

Have you heard the joke?

When is the time to get empathy from a doctor?

Before they’ve gone to medical school.

Boom. Boom.

Well actually it’s not a joke at all. It’s a researched fact, and not a very funny fact either.

Evidence has been building that shows a steady decline in empathy in doctors as they go through their medical training. The latest one came out just last month…

http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/03/24/prsb0324.htm

It is quite staggering.

Empathy is the ability to feel and respond to what someone else is experiencing.

Doctors are most empathic when they have first been chosen for medical school.

From this point on their ability to be empathic declines. Even once they become registrars it continues to fall away.

I’m not yet aware of research that shows when this trend stops, or begins to reverse. Perhaps at some point it does.

Not surprisingly females on average have more empathy than males, but it makes little difference in medical school.

The proportional drop during training is the same.

Except for alcoholism, some prescription drug addictions, and completed suicide (presumably they have better knowledge about how to succeed if they attempt it) doctors are generally healthier than the average population.

So for self help, empathy may not be very necessary.

But if you want empathy from a doctor you might have to hunt a bit more than you would expect. No joke.

-Dr Martin Russell