65  The Psychological Flexibility Matrix and the Wizard of Oz

65 The Psychological Flexibility Matrix and the Wizard of Oz


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Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery with Doc Snipes nights practical tools to improve your
mood and quality of life today we’re going to be talking about psychological
flexibility matrix and the Wizard of Oz we’re gonna start by learning about what
psychological flexibility is and then learn how to use the matrix to achieve
it and we’re going to look at the Wizard of Oz along the way
so what is psychological flexibility basically it’s the ability to experience
feelings thoughts and situations without getting stuck and I couldn’t find a good
graphic of this but if you think about somebody who is in a room and they are
trapped by lasers going all different directions in the room and the only way
to get out is to bend twist and contort themselves to get out well that’s
psychological flexibility when someone is feeling stuck emotionally with
whether it’s anger or fear or whatever it is they feel like they’ve got those
lasers that are holding them and they’re paralyzed well with psychological
flexibility they can mentally do those gymnastics to bend twist and navigate
their way out of the maze so another way to look at it is to think about Dorothy
in The Wizard of Oz bad thing happened to her you know her dog the old lady in
the town wanted to euthanize her dog because it was chasing her cats and so
she got really upset she got even more upset when auntie em and Uncle Henry
didn’t do anything when Toto was being loaded up to be
taken off to be euthanized so she grabbed her dog and she hit the bricks
so to speak she met strange creatures along the way and could have dismissed
them but instead they ended up being her greatest allies so psychological
flexibility instead of going I’ve got this on my own or I’m not gonna trust
anybody she’s like okay you know let’s give it a chance she could have given up
but she kept trying to figure out ways to duck dodge and hurdle the obstacles
that were coming in her direction such as being lost in the forest the flying
monkeys and the witches so six components of the matrix the
here-and-now feelings thoughts and reactions what do you feel and we’re
gonna go into each of these in more depth in a minute your destination
happiness which in this example we’re gonna call the emerald city where are
you trying to get your thoughts and feelings that keep you from moving
toward the Emerald City what’s holding you back
and think about the Scarecrow who was was thought he didn’t have a brain and
he couldn’t figure out how to move forward and the lion who kept saying he
was scared and he couldn’t do it he just kept saying he couldn’t do it ultimately
you know he ended up doing it but I’ll get there
think about what actions keep you from moving toward your Emerald City what
types of things do you do that keep you stuck think about your thoughts and
feelings that move you towards your Emerald City think about the Good Witch
what Glenda who came along and said you’ve got this and at the end she said
you always had the power you just had to close your eyes and
click your heels but you have to believe in yourself and what actions do you do
that move you toward the Emerald City so the matrix you know just to give you a
visual if you’re looking at the video of this on our YouTube channel
that’s youtube.com slash all CEUs education all one word the video the
video of this shows you that you can go to directions and you have actions and
behaviors like taking care of yourself and using coping skills and journaling
and all kinds of things that can help you move toward the Emerald City toward
those things that are important to you and you have actions and behaviors that
you do like sleeping drinking fighting cavorting that may move you away from
what you hope to to encounter may move you away from the Emerald City and you
also have thoughts and feelings that do the same thing so the first step is to
describe your Emerald City where is it that you’re going who and what is
important in your life think about family pets your career
money the ability to do certain activities your health not all of these
are going to be important to you but which ones are and of the people if you
say family is important okay now is that a couple people in your family like your
kids and your spouse or is that everybody in your family who and what is
most important in your life because you only have a certain amount of energy and
when you start making choices about how to use your energy you’re going to ask
yourself is this helping me get closer to the people and things that are
important in my life for example you know money may not be super important in
your life if you’ve got your family and you’ve got a job that you don’t hate and
you’ve got your health you may not care if you’ve got you know hundreds of
thousands of dollars in the bank but some people do so you have to know what
is in your Emerald City and then you have to know what characteristics about
yourself that you hold dear because these are the things when you’re before
you make an action or before you make a decision you go does this fit with who I
think I am and values you can just Google values lists and you can come up
with lists anywhere from ten to five hundred values but just an example here
values were talking about our acceptance accomplishment achievement honesty
integrity ambition creativity approach ability you know those characteristics
that are not necessarily something you do you know yes I can lift a 50-pound
bag yes I can drive a car but that’s not who I am that’s something I can do Who I
am I am honest I am intelligent I am creative I am and those are the things
that you want to focus on so before you make a decision you have to ask yourself
does this fit I had a job at one point that paid really well really well and I
really enjoyed parts of my job but there were other parts of my job
that went against my values so I was constantly miserable and the value it
went against was honesty and loyalty so you know I was constantly struggling to
look at myself in the face in the morning and that’s not any way to live
that wasn’t getting me toward my Emerald City that job was a job and fulfilled
some needs but it also detracted from a lot so when I decided to leave that job
I really needed to sit down and go okay this is how I feel this is what’s going
on now what’s gonna get me closer to what’s
important in my life and that was my farm and my pets and my family and you
know my health because my health was starting to take a toll too and and I
decided that leaving that job was the best choice to help me continue to move
forward even though financially it was a little bit of a hiccup so what are your
away behaviors and reactions now I’m talking about you here you only have so
much energy and it’s going to be used to help you move forward or wasted spinning
in circles or worse yet going backwards so make a list of things you do when you
get stressed angry lonely afraid that keep you from moving forward
sleeping is one that some people do and you may say well sleep is a good thing
yeah but too much sleeping you miss out on a lot of stuff too much sleeping can
mess up your circadian rhythms so then you’re not getting good quality sleep
then your body starts experiencing all kinds of other symptoms including
depression lethargy all kinds of stuff so sleeping while it seems like it’s a
good response actually doesn’t solve anything and it can make things worse
now getting an adequate amount of sleep is on the other end that’s a toward
behavior because we do need enough sleep when you don’t have enough quality sleep
your body starts secreting stress hormones and that works against you so
the key is enough quality sleep not too much and making sure
your sleep is quality another thing people do that moves them away from
their goals and the things that are important can be drinking you know yes
it may help you relax in the moment but again it generally
doesn’t solve the problem so when you sober up the problem is still there
whether it’s somebody at work that you don’t get along with or you hate your
job or whatever it is so drinking really doesn’t solve anything it’s more like
spinning your wheels at best and if you do things when you’re under the
influence that you end up regretting that actually may be moving you away
from your goals and ideals so make a list of those things that you do that
move you away from what’s important so when you start to do them you can say
you know what no no this is not helping me I’m gonna let it go sometimes I’ll
get upset over things that I see on Facebook or Instagram or whatever I’ll
get fired up for a second and then I think to myself you know what no it is
not worth my energy to get upset over this because it’s not going to move me
any closer to my goals it’s actually going to take away precious energy that
I could be using to focus on things that are more important to me the next thing
you do is identify other behaviors in your life that you do regularly which
prevent you from moving toward your Emerald City such as poor time
management lack of sleep poor nutrition and disorganization you know there’s a
lot of things that we can do but I’m talking about things you do in your day
to day life instead of taking care of yourself what do you do that puts you
down on this priority list about for being taken care of you need to start
keeping that in check because if you are not healthy and well rested and well
nourished then you’re not going to be nearly as resilient which means you’re
not going to be able to be there for the people and things that are important to
you you gotta make a choice away thoughts and feelings remember that all
feelings are normal so I don’t want you to think that well I shouldn’t be angry
all feelings are normal that’s your brains way of going hello
there might be an issue here so I want you to think of emotions like dog poop
and you’re like okay dog poop yes dog poop the reason I chose that is
because you will remember it almost everybody remembers poop stories when
you smell poop and if you’ve had a dog in the house you know this when you
smell poop you get up and check to see if the dog crapped in the house it’s
like oh ho so initially you feel angry and when the smell of the dog poop hits
your nose so you get up and you look and try to find the the source of the smell
if you can’t find it you chalk it up to Fido having gas and you go about your
day if you do find dog poop you don’t just get angry and leave it there cuz
then it would permeate the house the whole house would stink and it would
just get worse you do something about it emotions are the same way if you get
angry and you go and you check it out and you say yes this is something that
requires my attention and you don’t do anything about it well then it’s going
to continue to haunt you and harm you whether you’re just stuffing it down or
you’re trying to ignore it sometimes you’ve got to deal with it
but if you don’t if you just leave that big pile of dog poop sitting in the
middle of the living room it’s gonna stink nobody gonna want to come over and
be around you worse yet if you pack up that dog poop and carry it with you you
know and that’s kind of akin to taking your bad mood for whatever reason and
taking it around with you and everything you do people aren’t gonna want to come
sit next to you people don’t want to sit next to that dog poop so remember the
smell of dog poop is like an emotion it tells you that there might be something
that needs attention what you do with it will control the rest and you do have
control over what you do with it you do have control over whether you clean it
up and you’re done with it you know the dogs long forgotten about it or if
you pack it up and carry it with you when you go to the office negative
emotions are like the dog poop of the soul if you don’t address them they’re
gonna permeate your whole being and start repelling others if you start
holding on to lots of anger or depression or or whatever people are
gonna go yeah you know that they may have pity on you they may you know care
but they may also be overwhelmed or repelled so it’s important to identify
your negative emotions ago you know what this is a warning this is a you know
heads up just in case and thank you body for giving me that heads-up but then you
gotta check it out and deal with it you don’t want to carry that stuff around
with you so to identify away thoughts and feelings and these are the thoughts
and feelings that move you away from those people and things that are
important to you and keep you from acting in concert with your values such
as being compassionate and forgiving and loving and all those things keep a list
or make a journal or either way so you can start addressing the thoughts you
regularly have that keep you from being happy you know you may not even notice
them so I encourage you to keep a journal for a week or two to identify
some of these thoughts that you may not even recognize are crossing your mind
also include in that list your inner critics commentary so when your inner
inner critic says you’re gonna screw this up or you’re gonna have a bad day
write that down because you need to address those issues when you get angry
what thoughts do you have that keep you stuck in the quicksand of anger when you
get angry you can that’s your body saying fight or flee it’s not saying
think about the anger and stew in it for 30 minutes it’s saying do something so
the quicksand is when you tell yourself I shouldn’t be angry well you are so if
you are what are you gonna do about it remember that resentment jealousy envy
and guilt are all forms of anger resentment anger at somebody
jealousy is anger at somebody for something
have that you don’t or anger at the universe because somebody else has
something you don’t same thing with envy guilt is anger at
yourself for doing or not doing something that you shouldn’t have or
should have so anger comes in a lot of different forms identify those thoughts
you know when you get angry write those thoughts down so you can start working
on them when you’re sad or grieving what thoughts do you have that keep you stuck
when you’re anxious are afraid what thoughts do you have that keep you stuck
and finally when you’re lonely what thoughts do you have that keep you stuck
in your loneliness this will be four different pages for one page for each
emotional category and the thoughts associated with it but then you can
start using tools to address those thoughts so they don’t keep you stuck in
quicksand what impact does being unhappy have on your trip to the Emerald City
you know yes occasional bouts of depression or anger or something that’s
normal but holding on to anger and being angry a lot how does that impact your
trip you know when we’re angry we tend to run out of energy a lot sooner we
tend to see the negative and things we tend to miss the positive and things
anger also affects us physically it makes us tired increases our pain can
give you neck pain headaches all kinds of things so there’s a lot of reasons we
want to just address emotions more than just I want to be happier but it will
improve our physical health it will improve our relationships it will
improve our productivity yada yada all right so now you’re toward reactions
what things can you do on a daily basis that help you move toward the Emerald
City this means what can you do to take care of yourself because you need to be
happy healthy and whole in order to get to the Emerald City now
a long walk for Dorothy so she needed to have it together when you’re upset and
the angry sad lonely anxious any of those upset feelings what things can you
do that can help you address the issue so you can start using that energy to
move forward again and some examples when you get upset problem-solving think
to yourself okay what are my options in this situation communication communicate
with others about how you feel and get social support or communicate with
others about the situation that’s going on and tried to figure out how to solve
it cognitive behavioral techniques and I’m not going to go into all those here
there are lots of videos on our youtube channel or other podcasts on happiness
isn’t brain surgery that can help you learn different cognitive behavioral
techniques but they help you change your thinking approach in order to feel more
empowered and more successful you can also journal or plain just distract
yourself some things can’t be changed I remember when my dog Kenny died you know
it broke my heart and there was nothing I could do to bring it back instead of
staying stuck in the sadness and sitting there and looking at pictures of them
and of him and feeling sad and you know wallowing I chose to distract myself I
got pack the kids up and we went into town this was when we lived next to DC
so we went on a day trip so we weren’t reminded of all those things for a
little while so it gave us a break did it make the pain completely go away
no but it helped and that was all I could do at that moment because grief is
something you’ve got to work through but staying stuck in it and wallowing in it
isn’t going to do any good and finally your toward thoughts and feelings so
what thoughts and feelings can you have on a daily basis that help you move
toward your Emerald City and you’re like what yes when you wake up in the morning
what positive thoughts can you have what things can you do in order to help
yourself feel happy when you wake up in the morning my
foster cat decided last night that she trusted me enough to sleep on me all
night long okay yes it kept me up but when I woke
up this morning and she was still laying on me it made me very very happy
and when I see my kids in the morning that makes me very happy sunrises those
make me happy I try to do things in the morning especially before I go to work
that make me happy instead of just going through the
motions I try to infuse happiness because it gets me started on a good
good foot when I exercise it makes me happy it releases endorphins and all
kinds of stuff is its exercises good stuff
but other things that you can do have thoughts that are empowering that tell
you tell you that you can do it you know whatever it is for that day but you’ve
got this and it’s gonna be a good day have thoughts that inspire contentment
whether you keep a gratitude journal or you just look around and you’re grateful
for what you have have thoughts that inspire hope that today is gonna be an
awesome day and self-esteem reflect upon what’s good about you you know why are
you a good person you know you’re honest you’re caring your loyal your Yatta
Yatta you know people would be lucky to have you as a friend have thoughts of
optimism you know things can get better they may be good now but they can get
better and instead of going oh well you know today’s probably gonna be a crappy
day say today is gonna be a good day I am going to make a silk purse out of a
sow’s ear no matter what it takes and finally have compassion towards yourself
and others when you are compassionate towards others you’re giving them that
them the benefit of the doubt instead of thinking oh this cashier is just going
so slowly and getting angry and I’ve got places to be having compassion for that
person going you know what it’s problem a really long day standing up there and
running a register for eight hours having compassion with yourself if you
get to work and you know it’s one of those days that you just can’t focus
instead of beating yourself up over it do what you can and be optimistic that
okay tomorrow is gonna be a better day you know I did what I had to today and
tomorrow will be a better day all of those things help prevent you from using
a bunch of excess energy on regret and being angry with yourself and all that
other stuff and it moves you forward when you’re upset and you know so what
we just talked about are things that you you do on a daily basis to get yourself
started on the right foot and to help you continue on the right foot now think
about somebody who know you know or somebody you’ve heard of that is just
one of those people that is just always relatively happy and they’re always fun
to be around and you know maybe always is a little bit of an extreme but these
are the people you want to think about you know people that you want to be like
in in terms of their values and their personality and what types of thoughts
do you think they tell themselves every morning when they’re brushing their
teeth and getting ready for work when you’re upset and angry you can also have
a whole different set of thoughts so when you’re feeling unhappy what
thoughts and feelings can you have that can help you address the issue so you
can start using that energy to move forward again so when you’re depressed
you know we’ll stick with Kenny right now when Kenny passed I was depressed
and it was really sad but what feelings could I have to help
me start moving forward again I started remembering the funny things
that he used to do and the good times that we had and thinking about how you
know we saved him from the pound and he had a really good life when he was with
us so focusing on the positive focusing on keeping Kenny’s memory alive and
the kids and I still talk about him occasionally but those are all thoughts
and feelings that I can have that help me not stay stuck in unhappiness and
move forward and be able to be loving and compassionate and all those things
that I want to be so putting it all together and again if you’re on the
podcast if you go to our You Tube channel which is youtube.com slash all
CEUs education you can see the visuals for this but basically you’re away
behaviors can be things like over sleeping or not sleeping at all eating
drinking alcohol acting out being aggressive seeking revenge withdrawal
blaming smoking all of these things they usually don’t solve any problems they
may numb you for a little while but they usually don’t solve anything and
thoughts and feelings that move you away are thoughts and feelings that you get
stuck in remember it’s natural to have them for a short period but if you get
stuck in them and you stay angry for hours or days or longer resentment if
you just hold on to that and nurture it anxiety stress powerlessness distrust
ego centrism now this is one we didn’t talk about but when people have this
thought that everything that happens people were trying to hurt them or
people were being disrespectful to them it makes life a lot more miserable so if
you start thinking of alternate explanations it can make things happier
things you can do to help you move toward your Emerald City get adequate
quality sleep proper nutrition so your body has the building blocks to make the
neurotransmitters to help you be happy exercise whatever that means for you if
it means walking around the block or you know dancing around your house just move
do something to get your blood flowing communication use copings tools practice
problem-solving journaling and taking responsibility are all things that you
can do on a daily basis but also when things go
a little bit wonky that can help you deal with the unpleasant situation and
continue to move forward not getting stuck in unpleasant feelings thoughts
that you can have are that can-do attitude which is courage you know I can
do this I got it an attitude of gratitude and
attitude and feelings of hope faith honesty and compassion all of those
things if you look at the world through a lens of hope faith and compassion it
looks a lot different than if you look at it through a lens of not so feelings are normal and can be very
helpful what you do with those feelings and how you spend your energy are up to
you you can either struggle in the quicksand with that feeling and tell
yourself I shouldn’t feel this way well every time you do you’re gonna sink a
little bit more you can run the other way which is what we do when we use
addictive behaviors or sleep or withdraw or you can choose to address it and move
forward and remember there are some things you
can’t change but you’ve got to address how you feel and figure out how to
improve the next moment by becoming aware of what’s important to you which
is your Emerald City then you can make a conscious decision each time you act
asking yourself will this help me get closer to what’s important in my life
awareness of unhelpful thoughts feelings and actions that you take when you’re
distressed allows you to start making different choices so those lists I had
you make when you start recognizing that you’re using some of those unhelpful
thoughts or actions you can stop yourself and say is this really the best
choice or is there something else that I could do to deal with this situation
that would help me move closer to what’s important to me as you become aware of
alternate thoughts feelings and behaviors that move you toward the
things that are important you can create a lifestyle plan that will help you
reduce the frequency and intensity of distress which is why I kept saying
there are certain things that you want to do every day to kind of set the
groundwork and try to start your day off on the right foot try to do as much as
you can to ensure that it’s going to be a good day in other episodes of
happiness isn’t brain surgery you can learn more about different coping
strategies and things to add to work in that toward column subscribe to happiness isn’t brain
surgery on your favorite podcast app join us on our Facebook group at Doc’s
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