Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Challenge #2

Let two people know when you are going to really be able to get to their work. Be honest with them. We often say, "this week" and know there is no way. Being real allows us to put those tasks aside and focus on what we really have to work on this week.  This is not an easy challenge, as many of us dread disappointing others, so instead, we lie to them (although we never see it as such). Consider.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday Challenge # 1

Write at least 100 words on your primary writing project. Decide you are going to do that today, no matter what.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Obey:An Essay

My latest creative nonfiction piece, published in the literary journal, The New Southern Fugitives, Obey. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Should Within Shame

In Karen Horney’s work on anxiety and depression she explored what she termed the “tyranny of the should.” She posited that our internalization of social demands is part and parcel to what  traditional psychoanalysts referred to as the super ego. Her work helped psychotherapist from all disciplines and traditions to begin to consider the mechanisms by which the self encounters the other in regard to experiencing shame.

Horney’s work has had an important influence on the development of various systems of cognitive behavioral therapy, including Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Therapy (now referred to as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy). Ellis believed that at the core of all irrational thinking lies an oft-hidden, unrelenting-difficult-to-change “should” or “must.” He coined the term “musterbation” to refer to this type of thinking.

We often do not recognize or “hear” our thinking easily at first, until we develop the ability to “think about our thinking” but when we do, this type of thinking often sounds like “I must do this.” I should have done that.”  The internal experience is shame.

The shame that many academics feel about their careers is very much linked to this phenomenon. Shame is very much musterbation, or the internalization of should, about that which we should or should have not done or accomplished in the past. Some shame is highly pro-social, and keeps us from doing harm to others. 

When applied to one’s careers, the internalization of this demandingness often sounds like:

By now, I should have….
I should have been a great scholar by now..
I should have published X books….
I should have a citation count of x…..
I should be more cited than X (insert internalized competitor)….

What is most insidious about these "shoulds" is that there is usually a secondary evaluation.

Since I should have done X by now, and I have not, I am therefore X (harsh evaluation)

The last X can be filled in by some pretty hard judgments: unworthy, not smart, not good enough, useless, worthless, or perhaps less harsh but often still-debilitating variations: not as really as smart as people think, not as competent as people think,  not as good a writer as, etc.

It is hard for me to know how to end this post—I usually like to end with a nice pithy statement of hope. However, when it comes to such “shoulds,” it often takes hard work with someone well-trained to help you reprogram yourself. You deserve it.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Timer-Defining the Undefined

Some tasks can take as long as we give them. Take grading student papers, for example. We could literally spend hours on each paper--there is always more to comment on (although, the more feedback we give, the more likely students are to pay attention to none of it, from my experience).

However, taking hours on each paper is not possible regardless—we have too much to do. Yet, how do we insure that we don’t spend too much time on grading (and other such tasks, like writing letters of recommendation or service-related writing)?

Use the timer. Decide on an amount of time that you are willing to spend and set the timer for one minute less than that number, and go. Feel the pressure of time. Just a bit. When the timer goes off, it is time to start writing it up.