Hough Counseling and Assessments PLLC

709 Lake Street
Roscommon, MI 48653

(989) 505-6591

Archive for August, 2015

“Why It’s Alright To Be Wrong”

Posted on: August 25th, 2015

“For a scientist, this is a good way to live and die, maybe the ideal way for any of us – excitedly finding we were wrong and excitedly waiting for tomorrow to come so we can start over.” ― Norman Maclean

Working as a therapist, I encounter a large variety of opinions and perspectives about the world we share. A lot of the work being done with patients involves figuring out individual needs and how they can be met. A lot of the time, fear of being wrong or an insistence on being right can hinder the change needed to meet conflicting needs.

In my own life, I find it difficult to accept perspectives that are racist, pessimistic and/or self defeating. I notice that such beliefs cause suffering, both for the person who believes them and those around them. I become defensive, puffing my chest out and thinking “well, that’s not right!” I make quick judgments without considering the reasons why this individual holds such beliefs. I find this difficult because accepting this fact means that I was wrong, or they were wrong…or maybe, who is wrong?

We all have strong beliefs that we hold and that is perfectly alright. However, when we become lost in our beliefs, we forget the point of holding them in the first place. Most of us want to live in a harmonious world and adopt beliefs that we feel best suits our idea of such a world. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The following are 4 Reasons It Is Alright to Be Wrong that can help us let down our guard and allow us to connect, rather than conflict, with others.

1). We can not know right without wrong. Being wrong is necessary for growth. Without it, we wouldn’t know apples from oranges. While it doesn’t feel good to realize we are wrong about something, it teaches us a lesson about ourselves. This lesson is priceless and if we can learn from being wrong, we can learn how to be right. That is, we can learn to accept the views of others.

2). We can not learn from being right all the time. Unlike being wrong, being right all of the time doesn’t teach us anything. Learning to be wrong is learning to accept that we are flawed. Understanding this fact allows us to empathize better with others who hold what we consider to be unfavorable opinions. Sometimes we hold wrong beliefs because we are ignorant and other times because we are stubborn.

Being right makes us feel confident and in control. However, it can also keep us from realizing our blind spots and stifle areas of growth. If you find yourself having to be right or trying to “fix” other people ask what is it about them that makes you compelled to do so? Chances are, it is  you that you are trying to fix, even if it is only your own discomfort.

3). Learning to be wrong is learning to be humble. A colleague of mine once said that “Being humble means being teachable.” This really resonated with me. If we can suspend our biases and be humble, we are able to accept lessons hidden in the experience of others.

If we constantly try to justify our point of view and “fix” others we miss the wealth of knowledge that comes from the experience of another. We plug our ears until it is time for our turn to speak. Instead, spend a conversation listening to someone you usually disagree with and try to find common ground. This shows respect in the other’s ability to form their own beliefs without making assumptions ourselves.

4). What is wrong for you may be right for someone else. Each of us have different needs and desires when it comes to finding fulfillment in our life. For example, I enjoy writing about my experiences and drawing ideas out of them while others become irritated and put off by such discussion. I find it difficult to talk with these individuals because certain needs/desires of mine are not met. However, I try to be mindful that they have needs of their own and to respect that. This is not always easy.

Let me be clear, I do not mean that everybody is right and that right and wrong are a matter of opinion. Rather, it is understandable that what works for you may not work for somebody else. Differences are to be celebrated, not treated as a problem to be solved. If we fear being wrong ourselves, it shows in our intolerance for the perspectives of others.

Be Helpful

Lastly, It is important to ask ourselves “What do I get from being right?” If we are motivated by truth, what does this truth do for us? While truths can be inconvenient, they usually have a usefulness of some kind. Knowing that mosquitoes carry Malaria helps prevent further spread of the disease. However, knowing that the life of a businessman is better than an Amish farmer is not useful. It is a matter of perspective.

Likewise, falsities are less useful in achieving certain goals such as curing a disease or  preventing harm to others. For me, being helpful outways the benefits of being right. Sometimes needing to be right puts us in our own way. It can hinder a relationship if each party holds different perspectives or it can keep us from growing and learning new things.

It is up to you which is valued more.

Everyday Opportunities for Mindfulness

Posted on: August 5th, 2015

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

In the early morning, as I sit at the kitchen table, I listen to the humming and bustle of my neighbors through the apartment wall. Their creaks and thuds echo through the floor, adding percussion to the soft melody of water flowing through the pipes below. I sip my coffee slowly between the soft chewing of each Cheerio bite. I feel the crunch in my teeth and taste the mellow bitterness of the previous sip of coffee. Through the window, there shines thin white rays and the blinds sway from the humming fan’s wind. Though the moment is brief, it is full of life.

Raising Awareness

Mindfulness is a popular and often mystified practice that has shown to have tremendous psychological and physical benefits. Its mysticism, by my understanding, is tied to its association with eastern religion, new age-ism, and the seemingly endless variations of yoga. Ironically, mindfulness requires no belief system and is used in some of the most scientifically stringent psychological and behavioral approaches available today. It has shown to help ease anxiety, depression, PTSD, high blood pressure, and hypertension among other serious conditions. Check out some empirically supported mindfulness facts here.

Mindfulness is simply a practice of awareness. Being mindful means to be aware of whatever is happening in the current moment, internally and externally, as if observing the passing of clouds in the sky. It can be done anywhere at any time. Doing so allows us to play a more active and thoughtful role in our actions, speech and thought, which contributes to a greater state of well being and self control.

Here are 4 Everyday Opportunities For Mindfulness to help get you started:

  1. Doing the dishes. Most of us know the dreaded sight (and smell) of dirty dishes in the sink. Cleaning dishes is often seen as a burden, but can actually be an excellent way to boost your mood.

I recommend starting small. Begin by cleaning the plate or bowl used to eat your last meal or a coffee cup if you’re at work. Focus on the temperature of the water, the smooth surface of the dish, and the tension in your fingers. Slowly expand this awareness to your arms and then your shoulders. Are they tense? Focus on relaxing your muscles, listen to the sound of flowing water, the clinking of dishes or silverware and chatter in the room.

  1. Cooking and eating a meal. Cooking, like most chores, can either be a stress inducer or stress reliever. Having to cook for yourself or others can seem like more work than it’s worth. However, by working slowly, paying special attention to each step, each chopping of the vegetable, the sound of a sizzling pan and the smell of seasonings, can help you become more absorbed in the process.

Try cooking as if you’re making each meal for someone you love (and usually we are!) even if you’re cooking for yourself. Try adding music or a favorite beverage to your cooking routine. Treat cooking as a gift to yourself and others, even if it’s a simple pot of mac n’ cheese.

  1. Making the bed. Slipping into a nicely made bed at night can be one of the best feelings after a long, hard day. However, making the bed after being jolted awake at five in the morning is usually not.

Begin by practicing mindfulness as you awake. Pay attention to the light coming in the room, the softness of bed, the chirping of birds or bustle of cars outside the window. As you rise out of bed, feel the softness (or hardness) of the floor below your feet. Move slowly, paying attention to  your muscles as they begin to stretch. Pull the sheets up slowly, like wrapping a present, tucking in each spot with care. Set up the bed in whatever way you find most appealing and imagine the joy it will bring at the end of the day.

By doing this simple task, you have already rewarded yourself at the end of the day and overcame the first obstacle of the day!

  1. Sitting and walking. If the chores above seem too difficult a place to start, try being mindful of sitting in your chair or on the couch. Even as we watch TV or surf the internet, we can be aware of our state of mind, posture, how it feels to laugh at our favorite show or react to a sad news story. Each moment has a wealth of experiences that await our attention.

Lastly, try practicing mindfulness while walking. Imagine each step as a kiss to the earth below. Feel the pressure on your feet, the weight being held by your knees and wind against your face. If you’re feeling ambitious, focus on the sounds and sights and how they affect your thoughts. With each step, a new world of experience emerges.

Live As If Everything Is A Miracle

Part of practicing mindfulness is embracing the way things are in this very moment. Mindfulness is an acceptance of life as it is, even during the most mundane and boring tasks. After some practice, we become more aware of the subtleties of life and everyday routines become a gift rather than a burden. Though it is simple to begin, mindfulness can be quite difficult to maintain, as it forces us out of our everyday “auto-pilot” way of experiencing the world. This can take great effort at times, but becomes easier as we continue. It is important to set aside certain tasks or times each day to practice this and soon it will generalize into more aspects of life.

“If you clean the floor with love, you have given the world an invisible painting.” – Osho