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Next question, still related to this issue of placing responsibility: Who decided how you were going to respond to this event, such as by saying horrible things to yourself? Next question: Were you in control of the situation? This question focuses directly on responsibility and shame. You would be astonished by the number of people who shame themselves for events for which they were only the victim, not the perpetrator. In addition, many families desperately want such events swept away and so they deem the victim guilty for being so selfish as to want to make it public, or in any way force it to be dealt with. Apply these questions about locus of control to your own event and write your answers down. Caution: Do not write what you intellectually think you should say. It is easy to guess at what the "correct" or socially desirable answer is. That's not what I want you to write down and see. Write what you really think when you are alone and living with the most toxic event in your life. You cannot change what you don't acknowledge, so be brutally honest here. What do you really believe about responsibility for your event, whether you intellectually know better or not? Change comes in two forms. The first is external and usually coercive (i.e., laws, rules, and legislation). The second is internal and involves the greatest gift, human freedom. When you make a conscious decision to change your behavior, you set in motion a process that aligns you with the universe's creativity. Needless to say, I have always felt more comfortable with changing myself by choice, versus having change forced upon me. When you have higher expectations at the core of your thought processes and mindset, then it becomes easier to identify and respond to the negativity that bombards you every day. I have found great comfort and strength in setting and living by the highest expectations of which I am capable. You could call it confidence, but all I know is that I'm more comfortable speaking my mind when I know that my values and goals are coming from the right place.

My deepest core expectation lies in faith. Through faith, I am assured that all decisions I make will be as they are intended to be, and that things will work out for the best. When you find yourself at that point where you need to ask if expectations really matter, my hope is that you will take the time to reflect back on your core expectations and then answer, "You bet your life they matter, and I've got high expectations." People have lived under the cloud of collective diminished expectations for way too long. Individuals, societies, and humanity as a whole are dramatically undermined when expectations are allowed to wither and erode. Without high expectations, mankind lapses into apathy and destructiveness. If this is allowed to continue happening, the consequences will be devastating. I have always believed that people are inherently good until they prove they aren't, which is much different than what the world teaches---namely, that people have to earn your trust. I believe I arrived at this belief by becoming fearless. What does this all mean? For one, I have surrendered myself to a higher power. My life's experiences have taught me that I'm a mere speck in the big scheme of things, yet I know that I make a difference in the lives of other people. I also have always believed that greater things will come to me if I have faith. I truly believe in the goodness of life, all living things, and a higher power. Have I been hurt by my thinking, and have had people take advantage of me? Yes, but I want to share something my dad once told me. He didn't make a habit of sharing his thoughts, but when he did, I was so hungry for his wisdom that it left a lifelong impression. What he told me went like this. "If you trust and give freely with your heart and soul, and someone takes advantage of your heart and kindness, then it's not your fault. But shame on them, for they will have to answer for it one day." Now that I'm older and wiser (older than my father was when he told me this), what a gift his words are, and what an incredible impact they've had in shaping my life's mindset. If I could sum up his wisdom in just eight words, it would be this: Move forward in life through faith, not fear.

To stay indistractable in meetings, we must rid them of nearly all screens. I've conducted countless workshops and have observed a stark difference between meetings in which tech use was permitted versus those that were device free, and meetings without screens generated far more engaged discussion and better outcomes. In order to ensure that meeting time isn't wasted, we need to introduce new customs and rules. If we are going to spend our time in a meeting, we must make sure that we are present, both in body and mind. First, every conference room should have a charging station for devices, but make sure it is just out of everyone's reach. When attendees congregate before the meeting, they should be encouraged to silence their phone and plug in their devices so the meeting can proceed free of distractions. While there are specific exceptions to these customs based on the business, the only things attendees really need in a meeting are paper, a pen, and perhaps some sticky notes. If slides need to be presented on screen, designate one member of the team to present from their computer or have a dedicated laptop that stays in the meeting room. Rather than sparking the desires of others to use their devices, anyone attempting to use a phone or laptop during the meeting should receive disapproving stares from you and your colleagues. Despite the potential for increased engagement in tech-free meetings, some of us may be squeamish about the idea and may protest that we need our devices for taking notes or accessing files. But if we're honest with ourselves, we know that these excuses are not always legitimate. Why do we really use our devices in meetings? Our technology gives us a way of being physically present but mentally absent; the uncomfortable truth is that we like to have our phones, tablets, and laptops in meetings not for the sake of productivity but for psychological escape. Meetings can be unbearably tense, socially awkward, and exceedingly boring--devices provide a way to manage our uncomfortable internal triggers. Your interpretations of the events in your life cause emotions, and in response to these emotions, you also have an urge to act in a certain way. For example, when feeling miserable, you may choose to act angrily, stay in bed, cry, or drink too much alcohol. While some expression of emotion is okay, these are extreme negative behaviors that are not healthy for you. Since you have the ability to act on your feelings, you also have some control over your emotions by choosing how to react and respond to them. The actions and decisions you make in response can intensify or lessen a particular feeling. Learning to modify your responses to intense emotion will decrease your level of distress.

For example, instead of feeling extremely "enraged" or out of control in response to a troubling situation, you might feel sad or moderately angry. Work with your therapist to learn and practice this skill. Should statements are things you say that start off with the words "I should ..." They reflect a rigid set of rules about how you and others must act, think, or feel. These statements take a desire and change it to a mandatory, inflexible standard, a moral imperative. When applied to the past, you can never meet that standard of perfection, so you end up feeling guilty, frustrated, or angry. This process, called cognitive restructuring, has been found to improve current levels of distress in people struggling with depression. The Mood and Thought Monitoring Exercise is an effective tool to use with your therapist or treatment team. The technique was originally presented by Dr. Aaron T. Beck as the "Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts." It has also been described in detail by Dr. David Burns, in his book Feeling Good. The exercise has been widely used clinically and adapted by many others since then. Pick a recent personal experience to think about. Fill in the five columns on the Mood and Thought Monitoring Exercise form on page 96. Then reflect on your thoughts and emotions about the experience. This is not an easy task to do, and it may stir up the emotions you are now thinking about. Review the completed monitoring form with your therapist. Doing this exercise regularly will change your emotions in general, and in particular, those related to each experience. It will eventually improve your mood. Emotions associated with this situation: sadness, anger, rejection ...

at 100 percent intensity. Automatic negative thoughts: He hates me. He is angry with me. Everybody hates me. I'm a loser. I did something wrong. I'm not important enough. Distortions in those thoughts: polarized thinking, over-generalization, mind reading, catastrophizing. When a thought, belief, or interpretation of an event is troubling, it is often helpful to examine the Evidence For and Against that thought. The evidence you gather will help you identify and change thoughts that are based on inaccurate assumptions. Ask yourself if your belief is inherently true or if it is an internalized message from your environment. If you find it is true, ask yourself what is in your power to change? Sometimes the thoughts that bother us come from situations long ago, but the thoughts stay with us, even though they no longer apply. Spending time reacting to old thoughts does not help your current situation. Ask whether your distressed thought or reaction applies to the current situation or to events in your past. Does it apply now? If it does not apply now, try to put it aside. As we've noted, it's not only extraordinary beliefs that we have to be skeptical about. We also hold a number of erroneous beliefs that, on the surface, may appear to be plausible. As a result, we have to employ skepticism when forming any belief.