Tag Archives: Stress

Six leadership lessons highly worth learning from psychology of a physician

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Be your own physician?

We all know that medical practice in any field is a noble profession; but what is little known are unique lessons that we should learn from the mindset of a medical practitioner. We are talking about just a good physician, leave alone successful ones.

Let us look at what does psychology of a physician teach us:

  1. Managing conflict of interest
    Getting into medical profession entails lot of efforts, time and money worldwide. It is natural that motto of getting into this field for most is earning name, fame and wealth.
    It is also clear that every visit to or by a physician fetches a fee for him/her.
    Now, a physician is faced with conflict of interest – treat his/her patients or customers for self-interest or serve them selflessly. Good doctors would always manage this conflict by rising above self and greed, and serve customers keeping in mind their interests. They prescribe minimum medicines and pathological tests and discourage patients to make frequent visits. Many have grace to charge less fees from those, who can’t afford.
    Let us draw a parallel to above the stock options scheme in corporates for employees and top management. Such options have a singular motive of driving employees to perform well, so that company profitability improves, which in turn would reward employees with more options. But, when it comes to top management, conflict of interest creeps in – should company performance improve to increase value of his/her substantial stocks or should it improve to increase values for customers and employees, even if it means slight dent in company’s profitability? Many CEOs allegedly and subtly act in favor of the former – serving self-interest.
  2. Maximum availability
    A physician is available 24×7 to his/her patients, at least in India. Their work-life balance is heavily tilted towards work.
    I am not suggesting that it is good for them, although it is good for their customers. What is more significant lesson is that they don’t make any excuse for non-availability. Their dedication for duties is total.
  3. Memory management
    Did you notice that a good doctor’s memory is very good. He/she would remember history of his/her patients correctly, correct medicines’ name, spelling (usually complex), potency and names of manufacturers for innumerable number of ailments and case histories of other patients.
    What is the key – inbuilt sharper brain or they pop up some pills to sharpen their memory? Not any of these. It is registering the information without any conflict in mind and recalling it without any stress.
  4. Motto of service to customers
    A physician’s actions are completely oriented towards his/her customers and obtaining the results for which they have approached him/her. They never compromise their attitude to serve.
  5. Maximum confidence and concentration
    Successful practitioners give their advice or prescription with total confidence and rarely side or back track. Their focus on duties is deep.
    They are never shaken by patient’s condition, however adverse and do maintain their composure effortlessly. They are attached to their duties but detached from their customers while serving them unflinchingly.
  6. Marvelous understanding of their own body
    In leadership programs or schools, reference to this quality is by and large missing. It is extremely important to understand how you or your body would react to different situations, what triggers your emotions and how to manage the same.
    Doctors do very well on above count and hence, rarely fall sick or fall prey to sickening situations.
    A good leader needs to understand his/her body (including mind) well in order to be robust, consistent and persistent in his/her pursuits.

So, a good physician is a great case study at business schools and organizations!

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Are modern day science n stress making us more sick or superstitious?

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True image or illusion?

Current US President Barack Obama has revealed in a recent interview that he always carries in his pocket a statuette of Lord Hanuman, small Buddha, silver poker chip etc. and seeks inspiration from same when he feels tired or discouraged. But, he has said that he is not that superstitious.

He is not alone; he has millions of followers!

How gifts and gadgets of science are making you more superstitious

You would find celebrities, artists, leaders, especially from political polity and gen. next more than ever before wearing rings containing specific stones, colorful bands or sacred threads on their wrists or lucky charms to attract good omens. Advancements in multimedia enable millions to watch them like never before and entice them to emulate such practices.

Scientific advancements have given advent to social media and social media have brought together not only colleagues, cultures, traditions, beliefs and rituals from every corner of our planet but also voices of faith healers and fortune tellers. Every other day, I get text message on my cell phone about forecast for my future and what I should do to make it lucky. One day while under duress, one is bound to fall prey to same.

All kinds of wearable devices are now available to monitor nearly all parameters of your body. Everything looks hunky-dory as long as these parameters are within prescribed limits. But what is if some of those go out of limits? You land on the lap of stress, superstition or god for quick fixes. Hardly anyone would run to doctors for every tit and bit; but if someone does it, he/she would create another set of psychological problems.

When you are stressed, you fall either sick or prey to superstitions

Stress has long list of its byproducts – insomnia, IBS, cardio disorder, lever dysfunction, diabetes… and now new research studies including one conducted by Ohio State University have added cancer, as it gets accentuated by stress.

In modern age, there are many more media available to invite stress, leading among which is social media and mobile phones. Social media is a great boon as well as a gruesome bane. It is a classic example of how plus and minus go hand in hand. Thirty years back, we were surviving very well without having even a line of remote communication at home; today we can’t sustain a minute without cell phone in hand.

No one notices, rather dislikes to notice silent stress of taking selfies, posting images supposedly better than previous day, racing to get more likes and repenting if buddies or beloved did not like it.

Untold story of how science has been misused by man

In its original form, science is secular and secures everyone; but depending upon how it is used or applied, it can create values and virtues or vices and viruses; it can develop faith or fear; surprisingly, its positive use promotes spiritualism and negative use prompts materialism.

Though the taste of man or masses is for positive, their recipe is for exactly opposite – negative. That is why scientific facts have been twisted by most people into their fractured faiths i.e. illusions or superstitions and turned on more far right and left wing ideas and ideologies leaving little space for the center or balanced ones. Discoveries of atom and subatomic particles should have consolidated our conviction that god is everywhere but we have pushed him elsewhere – deeper into isolation and places of worship. We have used these discoveries more for destruction than for construction, creating more stress on our system. We have misused stress to create more medicines and manipulated the fact that it is more a matter of mind control.

We hardly know who we are; but we want to jump into bandwagon of knowing who and where aliens are. We are unable to arrest decay of our world colony; but billions of dollars are being spent on race for colonizing Mars and Moons.

But, all is not lost yet, if we can still realize that it is a bad idea to misuse or overuse science, its gifts and gadgets and that it is a bane to drift away from core principles of nature and life!

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Baggage that you carry at the back of your mind is your biggest bottleneck!

Baggage at back of mind! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

One fine morning you get up with bad feelings and start to wonder what has happened to you today! You feel tired or lazy; things look hopeless and you witness lot of things going wrong. You are unable to figure out what has really gone wrong. Your health, blood pressure and everything around you are otherwise as good as previous days.

Some leaders are great communicators. However, you would notice that on some occasions, they are extra-ordinarily effective and inspiring; but there are instances when they do a lousy job. Why? Females are known to have mood swings. Medical sciences surmise that it is because of hormonal changes. Do the swings of what is at the back of their mind swing their hormone levels or hormones swing what is going on in their mind is really not known to science.

There are several star sportsmen like Roger Federer in tennis, Lionel Messi in soccer etc. Sometimes, they are in the best form and other times, they can’t keep with their track records. Why?

The reason behind each of above examples is “What is at the back of his/her mind”, which holds concerned person back; impairs his/her performance; does not allow to do what one attempts to do!

What we mean by “What is at the back of mind”

Though it is a very common term, people seldom know its complete meaning and colossal effect.

Thoughts, information and/or images from your past memory, which are passively present in your mind constitute what is at the back of your mind. Your mind might be actively witnessing an action or making you to perform an action; but these Thoughts, Information and/or Images (TII) constantly influence or rather get mixed up with what you are actively engage with – thoughts or tasks. Sometimes you are aware about it and sometimes you don’t even realize this!

Your beliefs, faith, habits, biases, ego, obsession, fear, anger, anxiety liking or disliking are always part of TII!

Now is the key information hitherto little known – what is at the back of our mind (passively present) has been termed for centuries as “Subconscious mind”! On other hand, what is being witnessed now (actively present) is our “Conscious mind”!!

“What is at the back of mind” is more a bane than blessing!

If you believe that having things at the back of your mind i.e. in subconscious mind do good to you, then start to rethink.

Things that can reside at the back of your mind are countless. Some of the significant ones are:

  1. Love or respect for someone
    If it is balanced, it is bound show up for a right reason and at a right time. Then, it works well. But if you are overwhelmed, then it resides at the back of your mind. You would tend to overdo and in that process, mess it up.
  2. Past performance or incidences
    When you are able to pull from your memory only lessons learnt, it would help. Instead, if you keep images of past incidences at the back of your mind, it would lead to over or under confidence and that would impair your performance, rather than improving it!
  3. Anger, anxiety, fear or stress
    These rampantly reside at the back of mind of everyone, cause most issues and mood swings. These lead to pessimism and hopelessness.
  4. Attention deficit and absent mindedness
    These are the prime causes of mistakes and mishaps.
  5. Prejudices and ego
    These are foundation stones for arrogance, split personality, irritation and tendency to blame or pass on buck to others!
  6. Multitasking
    Only when you keep several tasks or items at the back of your mind that you would multitask. Although most people defend merits of multitasking, it actually messes up their efficiency.
  7. Feeling pain in the body
    When feeling of body pain remains at back of your mind, it is frustrating and nagging. If you divert your mind i.e. take it away from back of your mind, then pain decreases or disappears. 
  8. Feeling lethargic or inertia
    There are days, when you feel withdrawn or lackluster; enthusiasm in you is missing and initiative lacking. You are at loss to understand, what has happened to you. These symptoms are because you are passively struggling with your thoughts at the back of your mind, leading to confusion and reaction and that alters levels of mainly 3 hormones in your body – Adrenaline, Cortisol and Norepinephrine.

What is at the back of mind is a burden, you must get rid of!

Right from childhood, mind gets so used to keeping thoughts, images and information (TII) at the back of mind that we start to believe that it is a necessity and we can’t live without same. This belief has been further reinforced by innumerable books and articles on importance of subconscious mind, which as a matter of fact promotes keeping things at the back of mind, albeit only positive ones. What one forgets – if you keep positive things at the back of mind, it is impossible to prevent negative things to also creep in! 

My research for years has revealed that whatever is at the back of your mind – good or bad – it does not do anything good to you! It is a burden worth dumping it away!! Some of you may then start to wonder what would happen to your knowledge, notions, traits or beliefs. 

It is too simple to believe what can work wonders:

  • Practice to keep knowledge/information, ideas and images in your memory but not at the back of your mind.
    Let it not be passively present in your mind; allow it to sleep in your memory. 
  • Do your things unmindful of your past; don’t prejudge or predefine; just witness whatever is happening.
  • Allow your conscious mind to take control and respond to what you witness.
    You would be amazed to see how your mind would automatically fetch knowledge or information from your memory right at nick of time or as needed.
    Most innovations, creativity, breakthroughs and successes have come to people, when their mind was functioning like this!!!

So, a mind without any baggage at its back is amazingly powerful, peaceful and progressive! Any elaboration further would only belittle its phenomenal effects; you need to experience it by doing it!!

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Mind boggling effect of thoughts on our being, body and its built!

Reflection of good thoughts! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

A study by scientists of Swansea and Milan Universities of people in various age groups has concluded that those, who spent too much time on internet, are more susceptible to caching cold and flu. Internet addicted people suffer from stress, when they are disconnected with internet. Cycle of relief and stress that they go through leads to altered levels of cortisol – a hormone, which is responsible for impacting human body immune function. Previous research had shown that excessive use of internet leads to greater sleep deprivation, worse eating and drinking habits among users. Note that culprit may be internet; but real cause is addiction and/or stress, which is nothing but thoughts albeit negative!

In 1950’s, Henry K. Bleecher of Harvard University published his research finding that 30 to 40% of patients suffering from chronic ailments improved after taking a placebo! A placebo is like dummy tablet say sugar pill that has no therapeutic value, but patient sees it as part of treatment without recognizing that it is dummy but believing it would help. Since then lot of medical research has proved that placebo does work and leads to biological changes in body, which are actually triggered by psychological changes. It only establishes intimate relationship of brain with body; mind over matter!

How our brain controls body

Regardless of biological explanations how brain controls our body, bottom line of this control is our thoughts. Ironically, very little work has been done in physics or physiology on “How a thought gets developed in human mind”! It is our thought that sends command through nerves/ blood vessels to concerned part of body to control it in a specified manner.

See below short/long term physical effects of thoughts on our body:

  1. If you are generally optimistic (essentially positive thoughts), your eyes glow and face wears smile or serenity! In longer term, aging effect on your body is slower.
  2. If you are carefree and rarely tense, you would enjoy good health and immunity with body weight being normal. However, if you become careless/casual, you would run risk of becoming obese.
  3. If you a confident person (confidence comes by clear thoughts), you would raise your head, look straight and walk fast. Over time, you are less likely to suffer from cervical or spinal problems!
  4. If you are generally stern and angry faced, you would develop crow’s feet lines around eyes and wrinkles on forehead.
  5. If you are worrying or stressing type, you would be vulnerable to host of health issues – poor digestion system, IBS, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac ailments or disturbed sleep leading to dark shadows under eyes and weak immune system!

Train your thoughts and tag your world along!

Everything that we experience comes through our thoughts in mind! It is only our thoughts, which give us feeling of life in ourselves and in others around us. Absence of thoughts is absence of life and in medical terms, one is brain dead. Our intentions, perceptions, ego, emotions, desires, needs, habits, tendencies, traits, biases, beliefs, fears or faiths are nothing but a set of thoughts. We tend to classify those differently, since our sensory response to each of them is different. Our world is roughly 50% physical comprising of matter and energy and 50% is virtual comprising of our thoughts!

Such is colossal effect of thoughts; but equally callous/casual is the approach of most people towards thoughts! Normal tendency is to think – oh, what is there? It is just a thought; it does not matter! Stark fact is our thoughts become our talks and tasks, after getting converted into words and wishes/wants!

Thoughts also create radical impact:

  • Thoughts help you dream and design your destiny! 
  • They shape your personality!
    Medical field generally talks of genes impacting your persona. But, genes only determine your tendencies and your thoughts can alter same. If genetic tendencies are favorable, impact of your thoughts would get accentuated; but if contradictory, those would impede impact and you would struggle more for a change!
  • Thoughts can influence upcoming events, until those become a reality! 

Now, how to train your thoughts!

My research has revealed that you can train your mind only for positive thoughts; but never for negative thoughts! Negative thoughts would always build automatically!!

Less positive you are, more negative would you be. When your negativity recedes, positivity rises! To train your thoughts:

  1. If you are happy and hopeful, you are ready to go to step no. 6 below.
  2. If your mind is laden with loads of thoughts, divert your mind and get busy with your work, until your mind becomes light.
  3. If you are confused or irritated and can’t find reason for same, believe that what is in your mind is rubbish. Simply discard it.
  4. If your mind is preoccupied with some problems, determine what needs your immediate attention and what can wait. List down the latter on a piece of paper; but attend what is immediate, leaving aside everything else.
  5. Finally, when you think you are focused, then is the time for next step.
  6. Practice to build your thoughts only on basis of your present observations or goals and knowledge but never emotions.
    Nothing else must be considered to build your thoughts.
  7. Our mind keeps wandering, which actually means random thoughts roaming in our mind. Lot of researchers and psychologists suggest that allow them to come and go; just observe. This is a right thing to do; but what is not right is to create pressure in mind to drive them away, since by doing so, you create opposing thoughts, which is wrong. Instead, believe random thoughts are redundant; hence give no importance. This is the best way to practice and push them away!
    Another significant revelation from my research – “Random thoughts or remembrance of even most loved or respected ones, including God, can’t stand you in good stead! It means a malady in mind – traces or tones of obsession or prejudice!!” So, practice to think or remember even God consciously!
  8. Drill in your mind nothing is more important than to focus of what you choose to do now!
  9. Secret of your positive thoughts is surfacing of your happiness! Practice to capture and consolidate those thoughts!!
  10. Make serious efforts to allow single thought at a time in your mind!

By training your thoughts as above, you would witness miraculous and mind-blowing changes in your being and body!

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How to defeat a disappointing or damning day!

When disappointment drains you! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Sometimes you get up in the morning with not too good a feeling. You do not feel enthusiastic or excited. You feel your energy has been drained. On that day, you may experience lot of things going wrong. You would get into a tiff with your spouse or dear one/s for a trivial reason right in the morning. While preparing to leave for work, you may not find important document which you need to carry or receive an unimportant call, leaving you very irritated. On way to office, you could find this day too many red traffic signals or getting stuck in traffic. On reaching office, you may find e mails from upset customers and receive a piece of mind from your boss, which leaves you wondering what more disappointments are in the pipe line today! You somehow finish your day and retire to bed hoping that a better day would emerge tomorrow!!

Can you be sure that tomorrow morning would be better than yesterday? Normally not! If it turns out to be better, what exactly changes? Most people are unable to figure out or don’t care to figure out. They tend to defer it to their destiny or divine. But, then cycle of decent or damn days continues, so do fun and frustration!

Is it possible to start every morning with same zeal and zest, energy and excitement, hope and happiness? 

Your distress can’t decrease your disappointments; instead it increases!

When things don’t happen as per our wants, we react – why? We feel irritated or infuriated. We reject the things, if those are not right from our view point. We don’t know to accept what has already gone wrong. We rebel or remorse against the reality, if it is bitter; but rejoice, if it is sweeter! This is precisely our problem! Reality is always real, whether we accept or reject; then why treat a reality differently and relate it to our taste?

It has been drilled in our mind that wrong or unwanted things must be greeted with agony, anger or anxiety and embrace right or wanted things with ecstasy. See implications of such approach:

  1. We lean heavily on negativity and hence become prone to same.
  2. Worries or whining is like a whirlpool of distress, which can only suck you deeper! Negativity attracts negativity.
  3. It shakes your confidence and composure!
  4. It fractures your belief in prudence and propriety!
  5. It generates a bias for pessimism!

Your de-stress is key to design your day!

Everyone believes stress is natural; but that does not take away the fact that it plays havoc, regardless how powerful or poor one is! Stress defocuses and disorients you, may be by a small degree. When stress is not major, you may not notice it; but it is there in your sub-conscious mind. Silent stress is far more damaging than loud one, because latter would take you to the peak of your problems quickly and hurt you so much that you would then rush for quick healing!

Silent stress is very challenging because most people are unable to recognize it! It could be as little as a thought that my morning was not good; so now my day would not be good either. This thought is good enough to encourage you to commit a series of mistakes to draw you deeper into disappointment. That day, you are not able to manage your boss, customer, sub-ordinates or spouse as well as you do another day!

Here are few things you could practice to do to defeat an adverse day:

  1. When you get up in the morning, remind yourself that problems are part of life.
    Practical and real world is where problems are present and not absent.
  2. If anything adverse shows up, avoid reciprocating it with your reaction. Just observe and be to yourself.
    We all have learnt that reaction to wrong things is our right; but in reality, this is absurd.
  3. Carry out a simple check in morning and during day – if you are free from stress, you have to be happy; conversely, if you are not feeling happy, you ought to have stress!
    When stress is absent, your energy and excitement levels get boosted!!
  4. Like cancer virus, viruses of ego and prejudices are present in all of us and these substantially weaken our immunity to stress.
  5. Stress, which can be in form of anxiety, anger, agony, fear, frustration or obsession, is nothing but conflicts of thoughts in our mind. Source of such stress is always emotions from your past. So, live in present to live stress free!
  6. Common belief that “what does not start well will also not end well” is bunk!
    It is purely in your hands, when you want to let go your feelings from immediate or distant past. Terrible things can translate into terrific things at any point of the day, by taking a pause and redeeming yourself.
  7. If you are conscious or anxious that thing/s should not go wrong, probability is high that those would go wrong! So, your best bet is not to guess what would go right or wrong.

So, substance of the story is by linking exciting events to euphoria, you also link disappointing happenings to your distress. Drop both links; you would then gain freedom to freely design your day!

How about enjoying this freedom?

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