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If not, be prepared to move on and spend less time with them. Negativity can be deeply ingrained. Many people get into a vicious cycle of low expectations and low achievement, which begets an inner void. In a sense, there is no bottom to their emptiness, and so trying to fill the hole in their soul is a futile task. You have every right to set limits on what they can expect of you so that that they don't derail you from accomplishing your high self-expectations. My purpose in life is to let you know that you can create more and be more. You don't have to fall into the same self-defeating patterns. Start by setting higher expectations, and then act in a fashion that will enhance your achievement of the goals that mean so much to you. Concomitantly, you must try to improve yourself in society, education, and employment. That's why it's important that you never give in, conform, or stop trying set the bar higher. Expecting more of yourself will lead to a successful life. We have a strong tendency for reciprocity--responding in kind to the actions of another. When someone says "Hello" or extends their hand to shake our own, we feel the urge to reciprocate--not doing so breaks a strong social norm and feels cold. Though the grace of reciprocity works well in person, it can lead to a host of problems online. Email is a tool we have little choice but to use. For most of us, our jobs depend on it, and it is so woven into our daily work and personal lives that giving it up would be a threat to our livelihoods. However, like many things in life that take more time and attention than we'd like, we can get email under control. There are techniques we can deploy as part of our working routines to defuse the unhealthy magnetism of email. Let's focus on a few techniques that deliver the best results with the least effort. The amount of time we spend on email can be boiled down to an equation.

The total time spent on email per day (T) is a function of the number of messages received (n) multiplied by the average time (t) spent on each message, so T = n x t. I like to remember "TNT" to remind me how email can blow up a well-planned day. To reduce the total amount of time we spend on email per day, we need to address both the n and t variables. Let's first explore ways to reduce n, the total number of messages received. Given our tendency for reciprocity, when we send a message it is likely the receiver will reply right back, perpetuating the endless cycle. o receive fewer emails, we must send fewer emails. It seems obvious, but most of us don't act in accordance with this basic fact. So strong is our need to reciprocate that we reply to messages moments after they're received--nights, weekends, holidays, it doesn't seem to matter. Most emails we send and receive are not urgent. Yet our brain's weakness for variable rewards makes us treat every message, regardless of form, as if it's time sensitive. That tendency conditions us to check constantly, return replies, and bark out whatever requests come to mind instantaneously. These are all mistakes. Relapse Prevention is a day-to-day approach to help you stay well. It is a way for you to identify, monitor, and respond early to changes in your symptoms. The approach also involves daily preventive steps to strengthen your emotional resources. For more information on Relapse Prevention, see chapter 5. A Relapse Prevention Strategy includes five main steps that you and your treatment team will act on: Identify in advance what your Warning Signs are. Pay attention to your Warning Signs. Notice when changes from baseline begin to show. Have an Action Plan prepared in advance and ready to use when your symptoms change.

Follow daily prevention steps to help you remain stable. If you notice a change in your emotional health, follow your Action Plan. The plan will enable you to intervene early and modify or improve the course of the episode. Coping skills are the actions we take to lessen the effect of stressors and to get us through difficult times. These skills include problem solving, self-soothing, distraction, relaxation, humor, and managing the little things before they get too big. Learning and using effective coping skills are essential to managing your mood disorder. Coping skills are discussed in more detail in chapter 7. I have a little gremlin on my shoulder. He's about seven inches tall, and usually dresses in dark green or red clothing. He's invisible to you, but I can see and hear him. He sits there, twenty-four hours a day, and tells me what to do. All of my thoughts and conversation originate with him. He whispers into my ear and tells me what I should think, what I should say, and how I should act. In fact, all of my actions are the result of his prodding. Now, you may say that the idea of an invisible gremlin is ridiculous. Nobody would believe in that--where's the evidence? It's just my word that I'm experiencing him. But the fact is, some of the beliefs that we hold have about as much credible evidence to support them as my gremlin. Yet, we continue to believe. As we've seen, many people believe that houses can be haunted, extraterrestrials have visited the earth, people can be possessed by the devil, and psychics can predict the future.

These claims are all very extraordinary, yet the evidence to support them is quite ordinary--and flimsy. And to make matters worse, other competing, more plausible explanations for these experiences exist and are being ignored. Not all evidence is created equal. When forming our beliefs, we need to assess both the quality of the evidence and the reasonableness of the belief. In effect, the more extraordinary the belief, the more compelling the evidence should be to support it. The Discovery Channel recently reported on proof for the existence of ghosts--paranormal researchers actually recorded voices of the dead! How did they do it? They taped sounds in a cemetery, and after enhancing the recordings with a number of audio techniques, it sounded like someone was saying "I'd love to find me stone." The ghost hunters then went to "haunted" Brookdale Lodge in California, asked questions as they walked from room to room, and recorded any sounds in reply. Once again, the responses were inaudible to human ears, but the researchers massaged the very low frequencies of the recordings until you could hear "help me" and "stand over here." So there you have it. Not only do people report seeing ghosts, physical evidence indicates that their voices can actually be recorded. Seems pretty convincing, doesn't it? Do you remember the "Paul is dead" phenomenon of the 1960s? It was thought by many that Paul McCartney, one of the Beatles, had died. A simple rumor took hold and quickly gained a life of its own. People began looking for clues of Paul's death in all sorts of places. They analyzed album covers and noticed that Paul was the only one barefoot on the cover of Abbey Road. The most compelling evidence, however, came from an analysis of the Beatles' songs. When some songs were played backward, or were slowed down, people heard phrases like "Paul is dead." Of course, Paul McCartney is alive and still making great music. You began this life with a constellation of gifts, skills, abilities, traits, and characteristics that uniquely define you. You have within you every skill, capacity, insight, and wisdom necessary to your mission in life.

If your journey through this life has been such that it has developed and nurtured that uniqueness, and you have stayed focused, then you have lived a life consistent with your authentic self. If not, a world-defined, fictional self has dominated you. Your journey through life, whether twenty years or sixty years, is in part characterized by a learning history that tremendously impacts that uniqueness with which you were born. You have learned from and been changed by your experiences: experiences that led to peace and joy, turmoil and sorrow, or some combination of the two. Although your history comprises literally millions of both internal and external experiences, an amazingly small number of these events have come together to shape your self-concept. As we've seen, three basic types of external factors have shaped what you believe about yourself: your ten defining moments, seven critical choices, and the five pivotal people you have encountered. The ten defining moments were those experiences so powerful that they marked you, either positively or negatively, in some lasting way. Some defining moments may have affirmed your authenticity and some may have distorted your self-concept by pulling you away from your authentic self toward some fictional expectancy of who you were "supposed" to be. Your seven critical choices were those important decisions you have made that either maintained your authentic self by generating results that affirmed your uniqueness or instead caused you to question who you were, leading you into mythical fabrications that contaminated your self-concept. These outcomes--either affirming or denying your authentic self--were also impacted by your interactions with your five pivotal people. Your interactions with these people, again, either supported the authenticity within you or gave you false information that became a central part of your self-concept. As a thinking and feeling individual, you have interpreted and reacted to every event, large or small, that has ever happened in your life. Specifically, five internal factors have influenced how you internalized these external events. These five factors are your locus of control, labeling, internal dialogue, tapes, and fixed beliefs. Just to review, your locus of control identifies how you perceive and assign responsibility for the causes of what happens to you. Labeling is the assignment of lasting judgments, incorporated into your self-concept, that classify what you are to yourself. Internal dialogue is the perceptual window through which you see and understand the world and you. It is the self-talk that goes on within you, in real time, as your life unfolds around you. Tapes are those judgments and self-fulfilling prophecies that are so overlearned as to become automatic messages that play in your head at the speed of light: messages that predict outcomes in your life and your struggle for success. Fixed beliefs are long-held and change-resistant positions that you use to organize your world and predict what you think you and others are prone to do.