Leland Clipperton

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Got a Problem?

Have you ever made up a list of things that you consider to be problems in your life? Has anyone ever suggested that you do this?

It's a very good idea.... make your list.

Have you wondered why certain items are on your particular list?????

Okay, now you work on eliminating a few items... let's work on one first!

Inevitably... what happens? If you are actually successful at dealing with an issue (by the way good for you), how long is it before something else seems to creep up the list into your reality?

We must need to live with problems, some quietly, some not. Like they say, "there's always sumpthin"!
How does this system occur and why? Sure we can live, perhaps for awhile believing that all our problems are minimal, but for how long? We encourage problems like they're our job!

When I first met Angie (not her real name) she was in detox... a pursistent life of doing crack and the pursuit of crack had led her there. Through bleery eyes she first offered to take me to the Bahamas... fast forward ten years... at her 5 year clean and sober medallion... I witnessed a miracle in her demeanour and physical health. Yet, I caught myself observing her complaining about her nails not being done the "correct" way; it brought me back 10 years prior listening to her... same voice, same person; complaining about dying, about living on the streets...

All very relative to what is present on our minds at the time.

I first met Alex (not his real name) when his marriage was in deep trouble... near the end. He'd had an affair that neither he nor his wife knew that they could recover from. He was unmotivated, depressed and confused. After working both with his wife and own his own with me for  a couple years they are "happily" (well maybe normally) married; having successfully gone through many of the neccessary hurdles of forgiveness. Yet, when he was promoted to an enviable corporate position, he said quietly to me, "they haven't found out yet"... They" hadn't found out that he really didn't feel deserving of the postion... thought he was still fooling "them" and was hoping he wouldn't get caught.

Our problems are all relative.

Do you remember the MADD commercial... some random guy is driving along, what we see is through the front windshield of his car. After one drink we see the first glass appear in front of the windshield; after the second drink we see another glass appear in front of the first glass; and so on, until the inevitable crash and burn...

Here's my analogy - we have problems occur in our lives, we're not sure of where they come from or why they're there, but we know they're there and we need to deal with them (or perhaps attempt to ignore them). Our focus becomes the resolution or managment of those problems... sometimes for a lifetime. If we are able to "deal" with or minimize a problem enough, there always seems to be another in front of it, another issue to deal with. (by the way if we try to shut one down, it usually comes back bigger and brighter than ever).

What we forgot (and need to remember) is where those glasses (problems) come from!
We put them there, we put our focus on the problem and resolving the problem. The only problem is that we think there's a problem! The more we either try to resolve a problem or alternatively, ignore a problem, all we do is put more focus and energy into that problem.

We need to consider alternatives... alternative approaches, alternative thought patterns... Easy to say, not so easy to accomplish! If we've always been accustomed to thinking a certain way, to dealing with problems, to believing that having and dealing with problems is normal, then why would we expect to just be able to switch. It is not the removal or dealing with the "glasses" that will bring us peace, it is the recognition that the absence of those glasses... the absense of problems... is peace.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290


Our sensitivities are indicators of our inner projections... the thoughts or beliefs that we hold to be true. The indicators are critical to pay attention to.

I'll give you an example...

I go shopping and pick up 4 bags of groceries and bring them home. As my loving wife is helping me unload the groceries, she notices that I've forgotten an item, say, eggs. She point this out to me in an observational manner, "you forgot the eggs".

On a good day...
I hear the "observation". I don't take it personally nor do I feel threatened by the comment. It's simply a comment... information. I may respond with "do we need them today?" or "would you like me to get some later?"...

On not a good day.... (I'll describe later what this means)
I hear the comment and take it personally as a negative judgment and feel hurt and defensive. I quickly go through a cycle of self-comments, most of the time I am not aware I am doing this...

My self-comments will regarding assumptions of what I think she's really thinking... I always forget things, I can't shop properly, I can't do anything properly, I can't be trusted, I'm inadequate, I'm incompetent, .... and on and on... until the inevitable ending comment... I know you hate me! or I know you don't want to be with me!...

I know, I know, ridiculous thoughts, unfounded in reality. So where then, do they come from? What makes them seem so real?

They exist in our minds as a reality that we are convinced of at the time.
Our minds are that powerful that we can make a non-reality, a reality.

These thoughts exist because they are a belief that we hold to be true about ourselves. Beliefs that we do not want to recognize because to do so feels counterproductive, bordering on psychosis. However, the belief must be there and is seen as a sensitivity that we react to.

Which is why it's so important to pay attention to them when they occur.
We don't immediately recognize them as sensitvities because we're busy being defensive, irritated, angry and blaming.

As important as it is, it's not an easy nor comfortable process to work through. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to catch yourself or at least to remember the situation and the inner thoughts and feelings you may have been experiencing. I'd suggest writing the situation and responding feelings down first and then having a look at them later.

It's often very helpful to work with someone else not as invested in the situation to help you work through the process. Talk to a counsellor who is willing to explore the indicators until you're more comfortable doing this yourself.

Until later,

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Nature of our EGO

Ego has a purpose. It has a function in our lives that we all must consider, learn about and embrace.

Our ego allows us to individuate ourselves from each other. I am a separate being on this planet. I exist as an individual. I have my own body, my own mind, my own will....

The job of our ego is to allow us to believe that we must exist this way.

What is puzzling to me is that what we all seek in our lives, what we all feel is missing, what we all genuinely want to hold on to is connection; a sense of spiritual inclusion with each other, the desire to feel a true sense of belonging.

We grieve when we don't have it and crave it when it's not there. Almost all art, all music is about one topic... unrequited love. The longing for that which we feel we don't have.

So, now we have a paradox to deal with. On one hand we have our egos which cause us to see the world of separation, of division; and we have our spirituality which sees us as connected spirits walking along the same path.

It seems to me to be a common occurrence that when I experience "that moment" of connection, that moment when it feels like getting lost in someones eyes... actually having what I believe I am seeking...
my ego pulls me away from the experience, often with fear and typically with judgement.

Our egos become threatened by the connection we seek. Our egos focus on dis-connection which is justified by apparent differences. Those differences become fearful because they're not us. And those fears are justified by judgement.

All this process does is cause us to focus on the illusion that dis-connection is the reality and connection is a fleeting moment of our lives.

I suggest a slightly different approach...

Putting reins on our egos, using our cognitive reasoning, our logic and our spiritual strength to use and understand how to use the information process of our ego minds in a beneficial way. Our egos can't be eliminated, so why not re-focus it to increase our connection with others. If we are aware that each of us has a tendency to focus on our differences, then perhaps we can observe how we normally might consider those differences and offer ourselves the opportunity to consider understanding that the differences are beneficial, complementary. The differences do not need to be considered as threatening.

All of us have the little voice inside us... call it what you will... moral judgement, jimminie cricket, good orderly direction, Holy Spirit, Jesus, God, our conscience... It often can indicate our opportunity of choice. Choosing to think differently, to focus on a constructive, positive and beneficial thought... in spite of our ego tendencies!

I want to provide an example regarding connection...

When we first meet someone, our tendency is to notice and focus on the differences like skin colour, gender, size, shape, smell, clothing, behaviour, speech, etc. The underlying assumption being that if we were the "same" we'd be less threatened and safer... therefore more connected. The better we get to know someone, the less threatening they become. We don't focus or even, eventually, notice the differences when we are focused on the connection. We subconsciously suspend the judgement and "threat" of the differences.

If you're a parent, you would have a difficult time denying or repressing the connection you have with your child(ren). You may not approve of, understand or support certain behaviours, but none of those things would/do/could alter your ultimate connection. In fact, we can not alter that level of connection.

We only seem to because our ego (yes it's back again) begins to see and focus on judgement and fear so we can feel unique and special because we're individuals.... yay! Isn't it odd that we can feel the most disconnected with the ones we care about the most? That we can feel the most threatened by the ones we love? We care about what they say... if we are reacting, it is because of our own sensitivities... but that's another time.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290


There have been many books on addiction... many opinions on addiction... much research done on addiction... many questions about addiction....
I majored in addictions at college and worked for many years at an addiction treatment hospital and with many clients in my private practice over the past 20 years...
I, like many others, don't have to look far to see addiction in my family & friends...
But still no satisfactory explanation...
We have addictions for alcohol, nicotine, food, sex, narcotics, coffee, work...
There seem to be addictions for just about everything!

The best explanation I have for addictions is that it is a complex blend of biopsychosocial components that seems different for every person.
The similarity for all seems to be a loss of impulse control.
We all need to remember that we can justify anything in our minds!

When we have a pre-existing conclusion embedded in our minds, we will then naturally go to the supportive evidence to justify the behaviour.

Take the example of an anorexic who, in spite of contrary information, will insist that they are fat when looking at their body image. It doesn't seem to matter what information it is or whom it may come from, the illusional "fat" image exists. Our minds are very powerful indead!

Addictive behaviour needs to be addressed. It has a pattern of becoming problematic in and of itself. It will easily become the focus and the label and has its own set of negative trends of behaviour and cognitive dysfunction.

Say with drinking (a common problem), the obvious solution is to stop the problematic behaviour. Even the person with the problem will often admit this... why then is it sooooo difficult?

The biological component of the assessment trio is the easiest to determine. There are definately substances which are physically addictive and cause impulse control and tolerance issues. Detoxing from these substances is essential to have a sense of clarity to the mind.

Family histories can indicate genetic predispositions that need to be taken into account. There may be physiological issues that need to be balanced like thyroid, seretonin, diabetes, etc.
In the end for most who are dealing with addictive issues, it really doesn't matter if addiction is a disease or not, it remains an issue that needs to be dealt with and there are effective methods to do this. For an excellent paper written on the biological components of addiction see:

Situational, circumstantial, habitual and emotional triggers are helpful to identify. Understanding the self-destructive and problematic behaviours is helpful will lead to treatment that is effective with a prolonged effect.

You need not feel alone in this process. It can rarely be managed by doing this on your own. Seek out appropriate help.
Peel through the layers of the defensive thoughts and be aware of the "ya but" response.
Do not give up on creating a more positive and workable approach.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Mediation Helps

It makes sense that we all tend to see things differently.

We all have varying life experiences, information, judgements, perspectives and interests. We all think differently. People tend to become rigid and fixed in their expectations and beliefs about what's "right or wrong".

Conflict occurs when there is a perception of competing interests between people. Because of our perceived differences, conflict seems to be a natural and normal occurrence in our lives. When conflict occurs in a family, particularly around a marriage separation, it can be worse because of the emotion involved. Taking sides and being right can seem even more important than never.

These situations can often needlessly affect the well-being and natural development of children. Children can not help but be involved and their needs require sensitive attention. They can feel like it's their fault or feel responsible for fixing the situation. They can feel helpless, hopeless and alone. Others can also feel this way. Lots of scrambled emotion... guessing, assuming and confusion for all involved!
Seeing a skilled mediator can help resolve this.

Mediation is a process which involves the use of collaborative techniques by a mediator who is a neutral third party. The mediator informally assists disputing parties in voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of some or all of the issues in dispute by structuring the negotiation, maintaining an open channel of communication, articulating the needs of each party and identifying the issues.

Mediators are committed to a process that is: voluntary, private, confidential, self-determining, creative, practical and flexible. We help you create an informed, mutual decision. Mediators are not decision makers or judges.

Being involved in a marital separation is a difficult process. Using the services of a professional mediator is the best alternative to litigation. A mediator will help you work through and mutually agree on delicate and sensitive issues like parenting, new partners, asset division, and financial support with awareness and understanding.

We will help you develop an agreement that you can support because it will come from you, it is your agreement.

Family mediation is appropriate for the following situation:
  1. On marriage/cohabitation breakdown, helping couples negotiate a marriage or cohabitation agreement providing for financial and property matters, and/or parenting plan for any children.
  2. When considering living with or marrying someone, helping negotiate a marriage or cohabitation contract dealing with financial matters while living together, on death and on separation.
  3. When family/intergenerational conflicts arise between children and parents, helping establish an understanding of issues and helping the family create a means to their resolution.
  4. In business disputes between family members, helping the family members create a partnership agreement, reach an informal understanding of how the business will be run, or establish terms for the dissolution or sale of the business.
The main benefits of family mediation are:

  1. Where children are involved, the focus is kept on the best   interest of the children.
  2. The ability to resolve issues in a way that suits the clients best and enables them to speak directly to the outcome.
  3. An opportunity to speak directly to the other person about issues of concern in a neutral and safe environment.
  4. An opportunity to learn skills for better communication and cooperative problem solving for the future.
  5. Can be less expensive and simpler than court processes.
  6. Lessening tensions and removing an adversarial atmosphere.
  7. The process is private and confidential.
Mediation allows the parties in a dispute to examine their interests and concerns, explore a variety of creative options and develop their own solutions in a timely manner.

Until later,
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Eyes lead... Brain follows

A good friend advised me one day many years ago that "what you hold in your head is what you hold in your hand"...
Bringing focus to something that we consciously want heightens our awareness and sensitivity to that object or desire. It then may seem easier to acquire or work on that which we want, as opposed to what we don't want. It allows us to see opportunity where we might otherwise not.

Be aware of the excuses/justification that can creep into our minds when creating positive change... I always try to remember to ask myself, why am I making something I want hard to get???? Why not put it into my head that it will be easy. It only seems hard because I may not have done it before or that I may not know about it. Unfamiliarity can certainly breed fear which will create judgement and negative intention... and allow me to lose my focus and give up... even before starting.

We are creatures that seem to need experience... proof if you will, before we believe something. Even then I'll hear that "well someone else can do that, but it doesn't mean that I can".

One day as my wife and I were driving in a very upscale neighbourhood looking at the beautiful homes there, I quietly expressed some envy... My astute wife simply said, "somebody's got to live there and if they can, can't anybody else". There's no reason, except the ones we make up, as to why we can't have what we want!

Suggested steps to get what you want...

1. Clarify what you want... it may be helpful to first think of what you don't want (somehow seems more natural), then think about what you do want.
2. Write what you want down... get pictures of it, talk about it.

3. Set out a specific plan of action for what you need to do to get there.

4. Set up daily accountability with someone you trust to remind you when you're not following your plan.

5. Believe that you deserve and are working on focusing and obtaining your desire.

6. You may run into the odd roadblock along the way... don't minimize these, they're providing information you didn't have at the beginning and may simply be indicators requiring you to refine or tweak your plan.

Until later

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Nature of Conflict

Conflict seems like a natural part of our lives. As many times as we may find agreement in our lives, we are able to find disagreement.

For most of us conflict is an uncomfortable state of mind. It causes stress, physically and emotionally. We view it as something to avoid.

Conflict is caused primarily from a difference of perspectives or interpretations. We tend to focus on the differences and dig ourselves metaphoric trenches to maintain our position. We need to justify being "right" and the other person being "wrong". Huge amounts of energy and time are used in this defense of our righteousness. Some of us live in our trenches, feeling a sense of impending doom or attack. It's not if something is going to happen, it's when!

Very difficult to even be aware of a sense of peace while in this state of mind, let alone, choose it as an alternative.

If you are in this state of mind try to remind yourself first that you may have a choice in how the specific situation is handled. What are your options? What alternatives have you considered? When the conflict involves another person (not within yourself) try to maintain a level of understanding of each other's interests in the conflict... why are you taking the position you are? What circumstances, information, interpretations, assumptions and desired outcomes are at play?
It is often easier to have someone else who is not involved help you resolve the issues and reach a different level of understanding. Ask a friend, family member or hire a professional mediator (like me) to help you.

Conflict does not have to be an everyday occurrence. You do not have to live in the trenches. You can learn how to train your thoughts to find alternatives that will allow you to be closer to the level of peace that we all seek.

Until later

(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

Monday, March 8, 2010

3 Rules of our Brain

1. Brains don't have clocks... Brains are only able to process information in the present.

People sometimes say to me that they're over a circumstance from their past, however they remain somewhat hostage to the situation and the resultant emotions. They are dealing with the emotion in the present, not in the past.

If you want something in the future, you don't really want it in the future, you want it now!

2. Our brains focus on the object of a statement, not on a negative or positive. Try to not think about something... like pink elephants!

3. Our brains can't distinguish between reality and non-reality. Have you ever thought you'd done something or told somebody something? What we process in our brains is reality.

Albert Einstein (my favourite philosopher) said, "reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Until later...

Watch what you ask for?

You don't get what you don't ask for....

You do get what you do ask for....

Be aware of what you ask for,
consciously or otherwise!

Until later,
Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

What is Reality?

Our interpretations and perceptions guide our sense of reality.

They determine how we view ourselves and others and how we see the world.

Albert Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one".

Our persistence of this developed illusion causes us to attract evidence to support our pre-exiting conclusion.

Until later,
Leland Clipperton, H.S.C.
(905) 510-9117
(705) 443-8290

What's on YOUR mind?????

It's incredible to me that our beliefs, interpretations and assumptions can be sooooo varied!
When we go to a "professional" they will naturally have the outlook, perceptions and recommendations based upon their beliefs and training. We will sometimes hang on to what we believe to be true to our graves... even when alternatives may be obvious.

Think about how we treat our own bodies. The obvious questions are... what do we put in our mouths that is contributing to our health? What do we do to exercise our bodies? Do we practice appropriate sleep habits? How do we manage the stress in our lives?

Even when we have the "answers" and we know what we should be doing... what do we do???? Typically justify the immediated "negative" behaviour, allowing ourselves to have that ice cream, drink that beer, not go for that walk, etc. The discipline of looking after our own bodies seems to be more than we can handle... Can you imagine having the level of discipline it seems to take to "change our mind" or at least consider an alternative?

What we have on our mind is an acummulation of information we have collected over the years, patterned in certain specific ways that contribute to our self-definition. These "thoughts" are projected into our individual worlds in a way that further assist in defining us.

Now... here's the twist. Prior to now, you probably have believed that your image IS WHO YOU ARE and that you do not have any say or control over that impression...

We do, in fact have control over that image... we can change our thoughts...

However, if you understad how challenging it can be to do the obvious for our bodies, you can probably also understand why the process of simply changing your mind can seem impossible, improbable and unlikely to occur.

We all need help doing this. It seems that loving reminders, and supportive accountability is a neccessity for most people.

Begin by outlining what is predominately on your mind. Your thoughts are indicators that provide patterns. It takes someone who has had appropriate training coupled with the innate skill to ask the right questions and provide the most effective diirection.

Until later...