Coyote Thoughts: Getting to Ten

Beau Washington
3/23/13

Stereotyping is one of the worst aspects of the Trickster. While we typically think of stereotyping as a fixed, overgeneralized belief about a particular group, stereotyping also can also trick us into believing that what is happening now will always be this way.

When a person is in a bad mood, they only notice the bad things in life. Technically it is called selective abstraction, that is, we pull one bad aspect that matches our mood and think that is the way it always is. This causes us to overlook the good things.

Here is how it works. If I am in a bad mood, it is easy for me to notice all the problems in life and it keeps me from seeing the good things. This then creates more problems for me and I begin to think that the world is made up of nothing but problems. Kinda makes sense, eh?  

I am guessing that you have seen a Smiley Face Chart in the doctor’s office—you know those charts that help you say how much pain you have between zero (no pain) and ten (worst pain).  Now imagine that instead of the Smiley Face Chart measuring physical pain, it is measuring how good you feel mentally. Zero means that I feel very bad, as in zero hope. And ten means full of life, all is great, book me to sing at the Super Bowl.

Now pick a number that best tells me how you feel. Got one? Okay, remember that number. Most people I see for depression come in between numbers three and five; they don’t feel good at all. Now think about how you feel right now at this very instant in time. Here comes the tricky part---if your number doesn’t go up a point or more, that tells me that you are not thinking about this very moment but about problems from earlier or worries about the future.

So let’s try it again and this time I want you to think about right now, this very instant, not about five minutes ago or yesterday or later today but right now, this very instant. While you think about right now, I want you to become aware of the temperature in the room, that nobody is yelling at you, that you are not changing a flat tire in the sleet—just think about this very moment in time.

This moment should feel better than how you felt a while ago. The number should have gone up. If it didn’t, try it again. If you can catch a glimpse of a good moment in a day, it might remind you that actually there are many good moments in each day. All you have to do is look for them.  When you do this, it gives you a little break from your stress and that will start to break up your bad day. 

Life has many problems and it is easy to carry them around with us. A friend of mine, Michelle, tells me that some people walk around collecting problems. And just like collecting rocks and carrying them in a backpack, these problems get very heavy. Some people feel the need to hang on to them, get them out and look at them and show them to others. However, the cost of doing this with your problems is pain. The weight of the problems will keep you from enjoying the view on your journey through life. Consider taking them out of your backpack one by one and laying them down. 

Some people I see are so depressed that they can’t see the good around them. You might ask the Creator for a 5-minute vacation from the pain of life, so you can get a break from the stress. Ask, wait and watch for Her to deliver. The Creator will deliver. After it happens ask for a 20-minute vacation from the stress. This works. Just a glimpse of the good lets you know that more is possible and will give you hope. Like everybody else, I have problems that come up, but thinking differently helps my overall days become pretty good.

An update on Beau’s work: the BWT therapy he developed has passed the pilot study and is entering the clinical trial stage at the University of New Mexico. Beau is also adapting BWT for sports, making it easier for players to focus on the moment. He is working with a Colorado University baseball team.

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