Picture This

Santa Monica Mountains, Feb 2011

Thought for the Minute

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.


Deafness is getting to be quite a problem for me lately. I never thought I'd hear myself say that.


How many mice does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only two, but the hard part is getting them into the light bulb.

Not Really That Old News

Poverty is fueled by policy

"The failure of wages to grow for the vast majority is the leading reason why progress in reducing poverty has stalled over the last three-and-a-half decades." —Economic Policy Institute

Your net worth has tanked. Thank a Republican

Their "Get Obama at any cost" tactics have made our economic position far worse—AFL-CIO

Americans know squat about military spending

Americans are consistently misinformed about the amount we spend on the military--and many don't like the truth when they hear it.—Alternet

It's the Inequality, Stupid

Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America.—Mother Jones

Whistling Past the Wreckage of Civil Liberties

Watchdogs slept through a decade of civil rights roll-backs—FAIR

Americans Don't Realize Just How Badly We're Getting Screwed by the Top 0.1 Percent Hoarding the Country's Wealth

With an unprecedented sum of wealth held within the top one-tenth of one percent of the US population, we now have the most severe inequality of wealth in US history.—Amped Status

Low wages and high unemployment are paralyzing the global economy

The race to become "competitive" by lowering wages is killing us—The Real News

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On the Use of New (Psychological) Tools

If I'm trying to build something, say, a dog house, I'm going to need a variety of tools to get the job done. Probably a saw and a tape measure, a hammer and some nails, if I've gone so far as to draw up a plan, I'm styling!

What's more, if I acquire a power drill and some long screws which will do the same work more easily and sturdily, my hammer and nails don't go anywhere. They don't disappear or lose their function. This may seem obvious, but it's a point I feel compelled to draw often, specifically in terms of psychological or behavioral tools.

One of the most common forms of resistance to introspective learning is a form of dogged loyalty to old, well-worn ways of being. We are all learning creatures, though it's had to keep it in mind all the time. Who we are and what we know are not permanent but fluid, totally determined by experience.

Now, obviously we don't have total control over our experience, however we have a great deal more control than most people know or exert. Many people assume the life-skills they learned in their childhood will be sufficient to inform their entire lives, but they rarely recognize it. It's not until someone asks them to step outside of patterns they developed as a child that it becomes apparent, and even then they can choose to ignore it.

When I was a child, I was quiet, small, well-behaved, and consequently easy to ignore. I bear no anger towards my parents because I know how hard it is to be a parent, they gave me their loving all. They didn't know that I didn't know how to ask for the things I needed, but they realized they couldn't reward my crying forever. Eventually, I cried so much they stopped listening. I would cry and cry in my bed, hoping one of them would come in and ask me what was wrong, help me and make me feel better. Of course, they rarely did. The feeling of being unheard and uncared for followed me into my "unconscious" early twenties when I would occasionally revert back to this method, which remained ineffective and self-defeating. I didn't learn to introspect until I was around 25 at which time I realized I had been sabotaging friendships and romances by acting like a child. What I needed was a new set of tools.

Acquiring new tools is even more difficult than shopping at Home Depot, if that's believable. As toiling as it is to wander around for miles in the store being dodged by employees, changing a habitual thought or behavior pattern is even more-so! Some have suggested that there is real tearing and rebuilding of nueral structures, like when building muscles, that manifests the pain of changing on a physical level. But like with muscle building, the alternative is weakness!

I, therefore, set about acquiring new tools, that is, learning new, effective ways to get my needs met. I learned how to ask for help without feeling like a burden or a failure. I learned that I could truly just tell loved ones how I felt, I didn't have to "show" them. I learned that part of self-respect is being respectful to others and part of being respectful toward others is self-respect. I learned how to control my defensive reaction to criticism so that I could actually improve what I was doing rather than just defending it. I learned that true courage means allowing myself to be vulnerable sometimes; that strength doesn't come from avoiding struggle but by overcoming it.

That being said, don't think for a moment that old "tool" is gone. Oh no no no! Every once in a while, if I'm upset enough (unconscious enough) I go right back to it! I drop all my shiny new, hard-won tools and revert to the plastic Tonka wrench I've had since kindergarten!

DO NOT WORRY about your old tools magically disappearing! When you learn new ones, they are simply added to your vast collection. And the more tools you have, the more projects you can complete and the more refined your work!

Both in life and carpentry.

Katherin Elinor Nichols - July 17, 2011