Have you ever been at a family gathering where everyone in the group sits and waits for others to get a meal together, the tables set, the chairs assembled, and the food cooked and prepared? There are always those men and women who get out of their chairs and look around to see what needs to be done, and then participate in the activities that make a meal happen. There are others who never look or participate. They seem to feel entitled to the goods and services that others provide and then wonder why they have feelings of helplessness. These two types of thinking separate out the two types of people. Those who are able and willing to do what needs to be done and feel good about themselves, and those who are not able and not willing to participate and wonder why their lives seem to lead nowhere. 

People who are in trouble in their relationships or in their personal and professional lives often blame others for their feeling of being a victim. They aren't victims of others, they create their own victim mentality. The remedy is to learn how to think, imagine, explore, experiment, take risks, ask for information, participate and learn how to think in terms of being able and willing to take on life's challenges.  

Especially in these times of high conflict, serious problems that seem impossible to solve, feelings of fear, anger, grief, shame, guilt, all generate stress and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It is particularly important we not let our emotions take over and become unable to act, or we take actions that are counter-productive. 

One process that helps to calm one, to be able to focus, to face reality in all its aspects and think in terms of agency, of thinking and doing those things that move toward solutions is meditation. I don't mean the kind of meditations that relies on a Pollyanna notion that time will cure everything or the helpless meditation that assures us that some magical power will come into the picture and take away all our sorrows or godwilldoit,. These not only don't get the job done, they also are the root causes of depression and anxiety.

Secular Meditation: “How do you stick with it?”

"pick a particular form of meditation that works for you (a sitting/ breath meditation, a body scan, a walking meditation, a yoga or other body-motion meditation, etc.), and do it at the same time every day."

Another process that helps to reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of ability is mindfulness. 

The principles of mindfulness, the theory, research and techniques of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, provides the theoretical basis for using this stress reduction technique. 

What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction? 

Some mindfulness programs use techniques that I do not agree with and I find depression and anxiety producing because they do not work. I mean the kind that generates faux-strength. It is what I call "Pollyanna mindfulness" in which the "feel good affirmations" attempt to confront serious problems. In order to feel good, one needs to develop the strengths of clear thinking, effective action, determination, initiative and focus. 

I used these methods at the boys' ranches, my prison life-skills programs, with my girl's life-skills programs, with Displaced Homemakers, and in my private practice. 

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