Newsletter – July 2009

RECOVERING COMPETENCIES

THAT WENT MISSING OR NEVER WERE

When there’s a lack of emotional warmth and physical touch in our earliest experiences, our growing brains don’t develop the receptors for the oxytocin we need to “feel” loved and connected. We may “know” intellectually we’re loved, but without oxytocin – the brain’s natural hormone that generates the “felt” sense of safety and trust, of bonding and connection in our bodies and brains, we can’t “feel” it.

Those receptors can grow later in warm, loving relationships. We can recover the missing competency to “feel” love. (See The Chemistry of Connection in Books and Websites below.)

As a psychotherapist, more than half my work is helping clients recover competencies that went missing or never were: recovering a sense of humor and playfulness after years of depression and numbness, recovering a sense of inhabiting a physical body after years of intellectual defense; recovering a sense of clarity and “oh! That’s how this works!” as they emerge from a protective denial and dissociation, recovering a sense of mastery after feeling plagued by real or imagined failures.

The tanking of our national economy and the cascading wobbles of our personal economies are causing all of us to scramble a little more urgently these days after competencies that went missing in the wear and tear of life or, because of less-than-optimal experiences growing up, simply never fully matured:

Planning to save money for retirement
Relating empathically to a friend whose brother just lost his job
Assertiveness in asking for a modified work schedule when a child or parent is ill
Sorting out the tension with our spouse over unbudgeted charges on the credit card
Calming ourselves down when a third of our SEP-IRA vanishes overnight.

William Bridges’ great contribution 30 years ago in his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes (see Books and Websites below) was in suggesting that a process of transition underlies any specific transition we have to navigate: changes in career, relationship, health, geography, etc.

Similarly, modern brain science now illuminates the process of recovering missing competencies that underlies recovering any specific competency; now we know how our brains actually recover competencies through neural re-wiring.

In this month’s newsletter I’m suggesting we could use the tottering, if not toppling, of national and personal economies as an AFGO – Another Fricking Growth Opportunity – to learn that process of recovering competencies so that we can remain stable and productive in our lives. May you find these reflections and resources immediately useful to you and yours.

REFLECTIONS on Recovering Competencies That Went Missing or Never Were

I’ve presented the following Coaches Training Institute learning model before. (Thinking Outside the Box newsletter, May 2009) Now I’m integrating a process of 5 R’s: Refuges, Resources, Reducing Reactivity, Recovering Competencies, Repetition that will move us through that model to recover any competency we need to.

First, the learning model:

Step 1: Unconscious incompetence: we don’t know how to do something and we don’t even know that we don’t know. The “ignorance is bliss” phase. The brain is in homeostasis here. We hang out, status quo, until some crisis comes along – the Chinese characters for crisis are two together – danger and opportunity – powerful enough to budge us to:

Step 2: Conscious incompetence: We “wake up” to “oh, shit, I need to…and I haven’t a clue.” Sometimes this “oh well, at least I’m not in denial anymore” can move us right into Step 3 – we’re eager to learn and recover a competency. Sometimes, though, the dawning realizations of “Uh oh, I’m in deep doo-doo here” can trigger feelings of shame-blame, fear of failure, or anxiety-dread. We need the first three of the five R’s – Refuge, Resources, and Reducing Reactivity to build the platform to skillfully move to:

Step 3: Conscious Competence: this is the step of the 4th R: Recovering Competency – where we intentionally create the new experiences that will re-wire our brains and feel a sense of mastery and pride in doing so. With enough of the 5th R – Repetition – we move to

Step 4: Unconscious Competence: – we know how to do something so well, it’s in our bones. We don’t even have to think about it anymore.

We use this process again and again in our lives to move through the learning model and recover competencies. Now we’ll go through it in more detail. (See Exercises to Practice below also.)

1. REFUGE

Brain researchers now distinguish between optimal stress – which catalyzes learning and change – things cannot stay as they are – and overwhelming stress which floods the body-brain with too much of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol destroys brain cells, especially in the hippocampi which encode new experiences into long-term memory. Too much stress, too much damage to neural cells and their synaptic connections, no re-wiring of the brain, no learning can happen at all. (Of course, too little stress, there’s no need to change, things remain status quo, but that’s not the situation for most of us these days.)

A key ingredient in experiencing the optimal stress that catalyzes brain re-wiring is, ironically, enough sense of safety to be open to change. Like a child returning to his mother’s arms to re-group after a bit of bruising in the real world before he goes out to explore again, we all need a safe haven we can “come home” to when the world is shoving us around willy-nilly and draining the very life right out of us. In these moments following a wake-up, “Oh, shit, I need to….and I haven’t a clue,” it’s skillful means to find a refuge, a sanctuary, where we can re-group, recalibrate, re-fuel before moving into the arduous effort of re-wiring our brains.

A refuge can be people we feel safe with and unconditionally accepted by. This gets the oxytocin flowing. The felt sense of trust and love can immediately reduce the levels of cortisol in our system. With no stress response de-railing us, we can more easily encode a new competency in our brain and it will stick.

A refuge can also be a physical place we feel safely at home in, or activities that anchor both our sense of belonging and our sense of competence in other aspects of our lives. Refuge is not numbing out or escape. Refuge provides our psyche-soul with nourishing re-assurance that we are perfectly capable of learning what needs to be done.

(See John O’Donohue’s beautiful poem For One Who Is Exhausted in Poetry and Quotes below.)

2. RESOURCES

The next key step in re-wiring our brains is to seek the new experiences that will catalyze the re-wiring. Our brains “learn” by new experiences stimulating the brain’s neurons to fire in new ways; with repeated experiences and firings, the brain grows new neural circuits that encode new competencies (or recover old ones.)

New experiences are sources of learning and people who can guide us to those new experiences and/or teach us from their experiences, are invaluable resources in recovering competencies that went missing or never were.

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
– Chinese proverb

If we’ve never sat with a sick child or a dying parent before, if we’ve never had to re-tool a 22 year old career before, if we’ve never had to juggle three kids and a job when our partner walks out before, we need to reach out and begin to rely on other people who can not only show us new ways of doing things but new ways of thinking and being.

Our culture places a premium on self-reliance, and the sense of mastery and competency that underlies a healthy self-reliance is what we’re aiming for in recovering competencies. But our brains really do re-wire and recover competencies more efficiently in interactions with other brains. We are almost entirely social learners.

You learn more quickly under the guidance of experienced teachers. You waste a lot of time going down blind alleys if you have no one to lead you.
– W. Somerset Maugham

When I had to confront some major financial doo-doo recently and, even harder, face the reality that my own ignorance had contributed greatly to the doo-doo, I found refuge in friends I could admit my lack of competence to and be reassured, I wasn’t the only one….they, too…or someone they knew…..I was still an acceptable human being in their eyes

And within a few days of me taking in how thin the financial ice I was skating on truly was, the friends I had reached out to for stabilization and re-assurance had plugged me into a tax person and a mortgage person and an accounting person and a computer person and a marketing person, creating a virtual team of competent, compassionate people who weren’t’ at all scared of what was terrifying me and who could help me recover competencies I had been blithely ignorant of for years.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
– Buddhist proverb

(The coaches, role models, experienced hands of a virtual resource team can change as needs change, and one team (a job search team, a dealing with an aging parent team, a becoming a single parent team) doesn’t necessarily overlap with another.)

3. REDUCING REACTIVITY

It’s not the tasks that are hard. It’s the emotions that are hard.
– Terry Trotter, MFT

As we move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence – from “I didn’t know and I didn’t even know that I didn’t know” to “well, I’m not in denial but I honestly haven’t a clue what to do,” we need to regulate any shame-blame that can accompany this “awareness can be horrifying” phase. “I should already know how to do this.” “Everybody else knows how to do this but me.” And to modulate any anxiety-dread: “If I haven’t learned to do this by now, it’s too late; I never will.”

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.
– Benjamin Franklin

The ability to manage shame-blame or fear-dread reactivity is itself a competency essential to recovering any other competency. Shame-blame or fear-dread act like an undertow in our psyche, completely de-railing the most valiant, skillful efforts of our wise adult or Wise Self to learn to do now what wasn’t available (or needed) before.

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn form.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

It’s helpful to remember that 99% of these shame-blame and fear-dread reactions are implicit memories of previous reactions to earlier experiences. Deeply encoded in our neural circuitry outside of everyday conscious awareness, implicit memories feel very real, very true in the moment, without any sense at all that they are a memory. The body sensations, the emotional states, the beliefs about self and other that gelled around the experience at the time carry all the weight and power of “The Truth of the Way Things Are” to our sensibilities now. But we can pause, reflect, realize that they are not true now, or no longer need to be, and choose to create a clean slate. (See Exercises to Practice below)

4. RECOVERING COMPETENCIES is the heart of the learning model. Here we:

a. Set a clear intention for what we want to learn, what competency we want to recover, by when. Clear intention focuses the mind’s attention and not only “primes” the brain to perceive and process new experiences in new ways, but also activates the structures of our brain that integrate thoughts and emotions, essential to integrating a new competency permanently.

b. Seek the new experiences that will re-wire our brains with those new competencies. Any experience causes neurons in the brain to “fire”. Neurons that “fire together wire together”. New experiences cause neurons to “wire together” in new synaptic connections. Repeated enough, those new wirings encode the new competency in new neural circuits. Learning changes the brain and allows us to do what we couldn’t do before, or forgot.

c. Pro-actively cultivate the competency. Learning from others, trying, practicing is wise effort and become the priority now. This step is where wise guides, mentors, coaches, teachers, more experienced friends, can be so helpful. We’re not just learning new content here, new facts or new behaviors, but a new way of being with or thinking about that new content or new behaviors. If we inter-act with people whose brains have already encoded and integrated the competency we are trying to develop or recover, our brain processes will become entrained with theirs and we take in the new learning much more quickly.

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
– Chinese proverb

d. Let go of the blocks and let the learning in. As our brain registers, accepts and integrate new ways of being and behaving, the “new truth” sometimes bumps into and contradicts “old truth.” Just as we have to recognize and set aside old implicit emotional memories that might de-rail our even getting started, we need to notice and let go of old encoded patterns that might have served us very well at one time (and may even remain useful as one of the 20 tools in the toolbox) but now may be superseded by new experience, new learning, new competencies. The brain actually “prunes” neural circuits we no longer use, which helps the new competency become more solidly established.

When I finally found the courage to set my intention to learn what I didn’t know but needed to know, like yesterday, about cash flow, (the basics!) I felt like I was learning a new alphabet, certainly a new vocabulary, but I was actually learning from others to “read” the data I had collected but never paid attention to in a new way. Learning to use basic information to make wise decisions was actually recovering an old competency and applying it to new content. And as I became more adept at re-generating a financial safety net that had become disastrously frayed, there gradually arose a sense of mastery. The brain loves to work well. The emerging sense of mastery reinforces the new neural circuits even more.

5. REPETITION. I used to tell clients it took 17 repetitions of a new behavior for our brains to encode it in our neural circuitry. Then someone told me it was 58. Then I heard 12 times a day for six weeks. Whatever; it takes more than once. (I’m guessing any stress accompanying the learning makes it harder for the brain to form the connections that will sustain the new encoding.) It does take practice, practice, practice – like learning how to ride a bicycle – for a new competency to encode permanently. (And, under stress, the part of our brain that learned that new encoding can go offline completely and we default to old, old patterns; it helps to know how that works and simply de-stress, pick up and practice some more.)

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.
– Mortimer Adler

The 5 R’s lead us through new learning to new skills, certainly. More importantly, they change the brain so that we can meet disasters “out there” with more stability and flexibility “in here”. We recover our resiliency.

POETRY AND QUOTES

No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born in into the world.
– Frances Willard

* * * * *

I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t’ teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.
– Neil Gaiman

* * * * *

All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.
– Martin H. Fischer

* * * * *

Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.
– Abigail Adams

* * * * *

Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.
– Aristotle

* * * * *

When a man is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

* * * * *

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
– Douglas Adams

* * * * *

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.
– Willa Cather

* * * * *

Whenever you are asked I f you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.
– Theodore Roosevelt

* * * * *

For One Who is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
– John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

STORIES TO LEARN FROM

James Baraz told a delightful story in his Awakening Joy course this spring of his mom learning a new competency at age 89. (I highly recommend the course for recovering many competencies that lead to well-being. A new cycle begins January 2010, www.awakeningjoy.info.)

“I have a personal anecdote about the power of gratitude. A year and a half ago, I was in Los Angeles visiting my 89-year-old mother. She is still as mentally as sharp as ever. But by her own admission, a lifetime of seeing the glass half empty is a tough habit to break. And she knows it keeps her from enjoying her amazingly fortunate life to the fullest. I happened to bring with me that visit the Greater Good issue on gratitude. When she saw the compelling research on the health benefits she was impressed. But, even though she wished she could alter her habit, she was skeptical of changing a lifetime of seeing the negative. We decided to play a game that we came up with together to remind her of the grateful perspective. At the end of each complaint that rolled so easily off her tongue I would simply say “and…” to which she would respond, “And I’m really very blessed.”

“It turned out to be a fun game, and it started to have some real impact. She was saying her new line very often! We had a wonderful time as our week became filled with gratitude. To my delight and amazement, she kept up with the experiment these last eight months. The following is an excerpt from a poem she wrote to me for my birthday that poignantly described the effects this practice has had on her, even though she was starting to lose her sight during those months:

“Ninety is just fine with me; I no longer rant and rave
About where the world is heading and my exclusive job to save.
I wallow in contentment and know that I am blessed
Awakening to the joy of living at its best.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been and truly mean each word.
The thoughts that cause the worries now all seem so absurd.
Though my eyesight has been dimmed I see clearer than before;
The glass is not half empty; it’s over-flowing to be sure.

“Just this week when I spoke to my mom, she said twice in our conversation, “Aren’t we the luckiest people in the world?” She also said in her droll way, “I’m having so many positive thoughts, it’s positively exhausting!” I hope my mom’s story can help you stay with your intention to develop more gratitude and well-being in our life. No matter how ingrained you habits may be, it’s possible to change.”

And it’s possible, lifelong, to recover or build a new competency.

* * * * * * * * *

A few years ago my client Lisa (not her real name) shared with me a distressing realization about a missing competency. On a rare sunny afternoon over the weekend, she had been reading a book in Golden Gate Park. She noticed a young woman pushing a young girl on the swings. The two of them seemed to be having quite a fun time together. Lisa assumed they were a nanny and her charge and went back to reading her book.

After 15 minutes or so, Lisa overheard the young girl say, “Mommy, Mommy! Let’s go see the puppy!” As the woman and girl left to meet the Dalmatian puppy and its owner, my client “saw” – with some horror – a huge hole in her understanding of play in relationships It had never occurred to her that this woman and young girl were mother-daughter. She had no template in her experiences that this kind of playful interaction meant “mother-daughter”. Her own experience of being her mother’s daughter, or even being with mothers of her childhood friends, while adequate in many other ways, hadn’t included enough play or fun.

My client’s distress was acute. She was still young enough to want to be married and have a family someday. But waking up to this missing competency – that playing with your own child could be fun – was suddenly looming as a potentially serious sabotage of that dream.

We began finding ways she could spend time with young children and with the adults who knew how to play with them. Hanging out on play-dates with married friends and their own young children; volunteering at a local pre-school one afternoon a week; even co-coaching a girl’s soccer team eventually. It took about a year and a half for Lisa to trust that the delight she was experiencing in playing with so many different children was real, was trustworthy. That she would be completely competent to play with her own children someday.

She told me at the end of that phase of our work together, “I didn’t even know I didn’t know this until that day in the park. But, somehow, I knew I could know it. I mean, I could learn, by doing it over and over and over. I guess somehow it’s sunk in and now…well, now I know I can be playful myself and stay open to being playful with a little being. I’m not afraid anymore that I won’t know how to do this with my own kids. It’s a miracle.”

It’s also seeking the new experiences that will re-wire our brains, permanently.

EXERCISES TO PRACTICE RECOVERING COMPETENCIES

Identify one competency you want to recover or learn in the next month. Especially one where your practice will move you from conscious incompetence to conscious competence. Learning to multi-task; learning to slow down and uni-task. Learning to think of other people’ needs before your own; learning to assert your needs ahead of others when necessary. Learning to listen (see June 2009 newsletter on Listening); learning to speak up. Learning to track something you’ve been ignoring too long; learning to let go of something you’ve been obsessing about for too long.

1. REFUGE

Find a place and time where you can sit quietly for a few moments, safe from any possible interruption. Settle into a relaxed posture; allow your eyes to gently close. Bring your awareness to your breath flowing gently in and out.

When you’re ready, think of someone who has shown faith in you in the past. This could be a family member, close friend, teacher, coach, even a beloved pet who loves and trusts you. Imagine them sitting with you in this moment. Sense the comfort of sitting with them; notice where you feel that comfort in your body. You may imagine two or three more people sitting with you, if you like. Sense any calm or peacefulness or ease sitting in this imaginary circle of refuge. Stay here in your imagination as long as you like.

Practice calling upon this circle of refuge five or six times a day as you go about your week until remembering this circle becomes a helpful habit. Be sure you actually feel the comfort in your body as you evoke the circle in your mind. Rehearsing creates the pathways in your brain that will make it more likely you will actually remember to call up this circle of refuge in moments of stress or overwhelm, and that you will actually feel soothed when you do.

2. RESOURCES

Resources are the people, places and activities that help us re-Source; that help us re-anchor in our deepest sense of what’s true, what’s wise, what’s of value, especially when we’re facing more catastrophe than usual.

Resources are also sources: of information, of experience, of what works and what doesn’t, of who knows well what we don’t know at all. “If I don’t know, I can find somebody who does” creates a great cortical safety net in our brain. We don’t de-rail into daunt. We simply seek the help we need and use it whole-heartedly.

Brainstorm at least five resources for the competency you wish to recover. Contact them (people) go to them (places) do them (activities) within the week. Where appropriate, ask your resource people to recommend three of their resources. Follow up on at least 3 recommendations from the whole list.

3. REDUCING REACTIVITY

“It’s not the tasks that are hard; it’s the emotions that are hard.”
– Terry Trotter, MFT

The March 2009 e-newsletter: Skillful Ways to Deal with Stress and Trauma suggests many practical tools for reducing reactivity.

One more essential tool is to resist the power of implicit memories to de-rail us when we need CPR – courage, perseverance, resilience – to move forward. Implicit memories are just that, memories – powerful constellations of feelings, beliefs, behaviors that come up automatically when we encounter a situation that reminds us of something we’ve encountered before. Only, because it’s implicit, outside of awareness, there’s no explicit recognition that this is a memory. The implicit memory system is the brain’s way of being efficient. We don’t waste a lot of time sorting and evaluating; we can react quickly even before we have time to think. When the memories of that earlier encounter are negative – we remember that we were laughed at, or that we got tongue-tied and couldn’t speak, or that we were overwhelmed and hadn’t a clue – everything in us believes that that experience is happening now. And 99% of the time, it isn’t. It just isn’t.

We need to be able to catch the experience of the memory, recognize it as a memory, pause and reflect for a moment, is there any validity to this memory I should pay attention to now? This is an old pattern of neural firing, remember, not something happening in the moment. Claim our growth and maturity in what we are capable of now, if not in the new realm that daunts us, at least in other aspects of our lives. If I forget to look at my checking account balance, I do remember to pay the bills. And if I forget to pay a bill, I pay off my credit card each month. And if I forget to pay off the credit card one month, I call right away to get the charges reversed. etc.

We label the memory as a memory. We acknowledge the grip it can have on our thinking. And we choose, nonetheless, to discern the wisest step to take now and take it, so we can continue the process of re-wiring our brain and keep moving forward.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. RECOVER COMPETENCIES

Make the competency you want to recover this month the priority for this month, however that works for you. Carve out time; put practice opportunities on the calendar; check in regularly with your friends, mentors, teachers about how it’s going. This is not meant to be a report card. It’s to create championing for your efforts.

Until one is committed there is always hesitancy,
The chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness,
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
There is one elementary truth,
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen accidents and meetings
And material assistance which no man could have dreamed
Would come his way.
– W.H.Murray

5. REPETITION

Create reminders to practice the competency you are recovering or developing. Repetition is what will encode the competency in your brain permanently – the final step in the learning model of unconscious competence. The reminder could be a time trigger – every morning or every hour. The reminder could be a situational trigger – every time you sit at your desk or start your car or pull out your wallet. (Even the full title of Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now is Remember: Be Here Now.)

BOOKS AND WEBSITES

The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy and Love, by Susan Kuchinskas. New Harbinger Publications, 2009. www.newharbinger.com

A skillful distillation of the last ten years of brain research about oxytocin, the brain’s natural hormone of bonding and trust. We learn that oxytocin creates a “calm and connect” response – the flip-side of our “fight-flight” response to stress. Any warm, trusting relationship can boost the amount of oxytocin released into our brain and body, creating a felt sense of love and security. And, by harnessing the brain’s innate neural plasticity, we can learn to feel love at any age.

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by William Bridges. DaCapo Press, 2004.

This book is a classic. The 25th anniversary edition updates the strategies for skillfully coping with endings, limbo, and new beginnings. I’ve recommended this book to a dozen, dozen clients over the years; people have always found it helpful.

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser, Random House, 2005. www.villard.com

This gem of a book explores how we use suffering and challenge to develop real wisdom and love. The author, co-founder of Omega Institute (www.eomega.com) one of the world’s largest centers for experiential workshops in personal growth and spiritual transformation, blends moving stories, humor, insights, practical guidance and personal memoir to help people weather change and transition. A lovely safety net in these times.

Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want, by Ron Frederick, PhD. Jossey Bass, 2009. www.josseybass.com

Dr. Frederick guides the reader through a powerful process, informed by the latest brain research, to feel our way through the emotions that can de-rail our attempts to recover competencies. By using the tools and techniques presented in this book, we can fundamentally change the way our brain works, harnessing the power of our emotions to regain the energy and confidence we need to recover any competency, to meet with renewed courage and wisdom the challenges we face in these times.