Friday, June 18, 2021

                                                                           The Battle

By Kelly Hitchcock

We carry the past with us

We frantically try to predict the upcoming years

Our minds are vociferously occupied

Filled with delusional neurotic fear

To detach from our emotions

Modern man might think is insane

Because to quiet the monkey mind

For many, would make life mundane

So, we move with no direction or intention

We cry about having no purpose or time 

We say we’ll do it tomorrow

Unaware, the river is running dry

There's an internal battle raging

We’re all troubled with mental pain 

Unaware, the harder we fight

The struggle remains the same

They say the medicine may be bitter

But it cures the disease

You can take this advice

Or continue to do as you please

We must learn to let go of the past

Stop concerning yourself with the upcoming years

Learn to live in the moment

You will conquer most all of your irrational fears

Become aware of your emotions

Mindfulness resolves most of life's pains

Control the controllables

This type of liberation is insane

You begin to live life with intention

You create more quality time

You realize, you can only do what you do

Peace, its your new way of life

The battle has been won

Ironically, the war was all in our mind

Personal awareness

Exposes the true enemy for mankind

So, take a deep breath

Listen to the wind blowing through the trees

Right now, this moment

It's all we have, and all we really need

Friday, January 29, 2021

Live up to It

 Live up to It

What do I really think?

How do I behave?

What image do I present?

If there is an internal battle, many times it is the battle of what I think, how I behave, and the self image I present.

If our thought process is the product of low self esteem, we will either behave passively, or attempt to overcompensate by appearing to be beyond that which we wish to be.

The problem with this dichotomy of thoughts/image is the vociferous internal dialogue that it creates. It’s the proverbial devil and angel sitting atop each shoulder.

The first step out of this sinkhole of self-esteem is to first describe the person you wish to be. The second step is the strength of the “why” that image is important. The third step is to behave in a way that supports the first step.

If what you want is to become smarter, read a chapter every morning on a subject that you want to know more about. If it’s to become healthier, get a meal plan and a workout program from a fitness professional - now “behave” your way to success.

Whatever we do, it’s of utmost importance to live up to the description of the person you want to be.

If it's a worthy goal, live up to it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Adversity - Why are we so weak?

So, what's going on with kids today?

They're incredibly sensitive/emotional, more kids are living at home without a job, and stress and anxiety are at an all time high.

Parents seem dumbfounded by this question?

To find the answer, perhaps I need to rephrase my question; What is it about the way parents are raising children today that makes them fragile, dependent, and prone to stress and anxiety?

The truth is the lack of adversity our kids experience. We have taken away the main component that builds self-esteem and character in humans.

We see this in many areas of nature: 

  • Skeletal structure. No stress, fragile bones. 

  • Muscles - the less stress - the greater the atrophy (loss of size and strength)  

  • Immune system? The less exposure, the greater the risk of sickness.

So, the less exposure, the less adaptation.

Many philosophers and religious authors have written about the strength gained during stressful times.

Nietzsche said, “that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger”

Meng Tzu, the Chinese philosopher said, “When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent. ”

Romans 5:3  Paul said, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance"

As a parent and closet neuroscientist, I understand the neurology of taking care of our children at all cost - its innate. However, the cost of alleviating our pain by rescuing them is nothing compared to the pain that will come from the lessons lost by the child.

Pain is a good teacher

There is a saying, “we should prepare our children for the road, not the road for the children.”

There is a strong urge to save our children from the bumps and bruises we experienced on our road in life; however, the strength gained in those bumps and bruises have made us who we are today.

It would serve us all well to adopt the message of Marcus Aurelius', "The obstacle is the way; the impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way, becomes the way."

Monday, January 11, 2021


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” - Leo Tolstoy 

We may not all think of changing the world; however, we do think we can change others. It happens all the time; we try to change our wife or husband, or we might try to change a close friend. But changing ourselves is complicated.

I think there are three reasons why we avoid the process of change:

1. Belief - We don't believe we can change. We've tried several times, but just fall right back into the old habits. The sad part is we fail not because we aren't disciplined, but because the methods of change we've tried are flawed. Take weight loss - we lower our calories or eliminate one food group. 6 weeks later we're done. Due to the restrictive nature of diets we can't continue. You're not failing the program, the program is failing you. Strong beliefs (self-confidence) are created by failing and trying again. Building on your experiences so you can use what does not work to be in your favor.  You don't lose, you learn and grow.


2. Acknowledge - To change oneself, one must first acknowledge there's a problem. Most people get stuck in the pre-contemplative stage where if the “said” issue is brought up, there will be hell to pay. Acknowledging an issue is hard for some because it's become a part of their identity. To lose your identity is very scary because we like to attach to an image so we can define ourselves. People say my anxiety or play a role as a funny person to avoid people seeing the pain inside. Also, acknowledging requires action. Now that I've acknowledged it, what do I do? By acknowledging we go from victim to taking ownership. Which is the only true path to change.

3. Cognitive dissonance - Cognitive dissonance proposes that people are averse to inconsistencies within their own minds. It offers one explanation for why people sometimes make an effort to adjust their thinking when their own thoughts, words, or behaviors seem to contradict with each other. When one learns new information that challenges a deeply held belief, for example, or acts in a way that seems to undercut a favorable self-image, that person may feel motivated to somehow resolve the negative feeling that results—to restore cognitive consonance. Though a person may not always resolve cognitive dissonance, the response to it may range from ignoring the source of it to changing one’s beliefs or behavior to eliminate the conflict.

                      It has been said that change is painful, but so is staying the same. 

                      Tolstoy's point is not that we want to change the world, but that we want the world to change. I'm proposing that there is only one thing we can change (us), and that one thing is what changes the world.

                      “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Internal Dialogue

 The Internal dialogue

The internal dialogue of guilt and regret can grow like weeds in a well landscaped yard if not managed. This dialogue is largely a product of a repetitive loop of blame and coulda’s, woulda’s, and shoulda’s.

The first step to regaining control is to become aware of this repetitive internal dialogue. The second step is to have a preemptive plan ready to address the dialogue when you recognize it. Don't beat yourself up, just Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non-identify (this is known as the RAIN method). This method allows us to methodically reason our way out of these cognitive distortions.

Remember - Nothing changes if nothing changes. Self-awareness is a crucial step in changing behavior. 

“If you don't like the crop, don't sow the seed”

If you don't like the thoughts, let's investigate the perspective that's created the thoughts. Lets manage the cognitive weeds so we can have a new perspective in 2021! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Images

Unfortunately we use the images others present on social media as a measuring stick as to how well we are doing in life. Ironically, we do this as we are driving our nice air conditioned car, checking messages on our synced Bluetooth dash monitor. We then pull into the drive of our comfortable home as we simultaneously unlock the front door by pushing a button on our phone.

Distracted, we enter the house and set our keys in a place we'll never remember - on the way to our stocked pantry and overflowing refrigerator. With our arms full with food, we sit down on our 10 piece leather sectional sofa to watch our 65 inch HD flat screen TV. We then shout out to Alexa to find the latest Netflix movie. We love using Alexa because it allows us to keep our hands free so we can check our iPhone to see what others are doing in this very moment.

This perhaps, is why we’re miserable - our lives are consumed by the images others present. We are faced with the fact that our life will never be as sexy and exciting as our “friends” life. And vise versa, their life will never be as sexy and exciting as the one we present. The truth is, life is pretty mundane and our expectations are extremely unrealistic.

Socrates once said, "if you want to become great, become the person you present yourself to be".

The nice thing about becoming the best you can be is that your happiness/contentment is not contingent on what others think. Your happiness is a product of a life well lived.

We all need to wake up - what an incredible opportunity we are missing out on by focusing on the images.

Order and Chaos

 If you can face what you're afraid of 

You can find what you need

Cause in the middle of order and chaos

Lies your destiny 


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

10 Healthy Habits in Tough Times

1. Don’t give up - you have to fight when you feel defeated.  
-Two choices…we can get bitter or we can get better 

2. You have to practice delay gratification.  
-Lean to develop impulse control – beware the fury of a patience man 

3. You have to make mistakes 
-Failure is a necessary step for growth 

4. You have to keep your emotions in check.  
-Manage your emotions or they will manage you 

5. You have to make the decision you’re afraid to make.  
-Clarify, evaluate, and make the call. Acknowledge the fact that you can’t make everyone happy 

6. You have to trust your gut.  
-Clarifying and evaluating will allow you to trust yourself 

7. You have to lead when no one else follows. 
-Step up and take control with a calm mind  

8. You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb. 
-The devils in the details 

9. You have to be kind to people who are rude to you.  
-The recognition of suffering is the greatest form of compassion. 
-It only affects us if we allow it. Rise above the emotions   

10. You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what.  
-I’m not a victim – I’m responsible 
-Own it 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Become a Stoic

A true Stoic begins with Amour fati - Love everything that happens.

Accept rather than fight every little thing that happens. You don’t decide everything that happens to you, in fact, you control very little. Imagine that everything that happens happens specifically for you.

Wish for situations to happen as they do and your life will go smoothly. This mind set is of great help in the unpredictable modern world because it helps to stay calm in difficult situations, direct our thoughts, and choose the best (re)actions. It offers many useful strategies.

“We can either get bitter or better”

1. Use logic and reason.  (First step is to calm the fight or flight mechanism)

- STOP (stop – take 3 deep breaths – observe the behavior – proceed with kindness)

- Count to 10 backwards (Deep breaths)

These techniques allow us to calm the amygdala (danger alert) so that the perceived information can be fully processed by the neo cortex (logic and reason).

What separate human beings from animals are our mental and social abilities (a mature frontal lobe). We have potential to apply reason to all our actions. We are able to think about our preferred action before we act. Awareness allows us to live in agreement with our nature by applying reason to our actions.

2. Live by virtue – Virtue is the highest of all goods. No matter what happens to us, we can always try to apply reason and choose to live in accord with virtue.  Awareness provides us the opportunity to always try to do the right thing, it’s all that we control.

3. Acceptance - Focus on what you can control, accept what you can’t. All we control is our mind and the actions we choose to take. We can try our best, and accept all that happens because we don’t control it. If we get disturbed by what we don’t control, we become helpless victims. Radical acceptance is about accepting life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot change.  Radical acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.
"Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy." - Marcus Aurelius,

5. Take action - The truly Awoke person actually lives by the ideas; he is a warrior of the mind. Today, many people learn and acquire knowledge only to store it in their mind. They forget the most important part: to live and practice the ideas.

6. Practice misfortune - This is a gem. Imagine potentially “bad” scenarios in advance and they won’t catch you by surprise, and you’ll be able to face them calmly and act according to virtue. Visualize “bad” before, and you’ll be able to take it much more calmly.

7. Stockdale paradox - You only control your actions but not the outcome. You can give your best but maybe it won’t bring the results you wanted. Choose to do your very best to succeed and simultaneously know and accept that the ultimate outcome is beyond your direct control.
“You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. AND at the same time…You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be” - James Stockdale

8. Obstacles equal opportunities - How you perceive things is highly important. Everything that happens can be looked at as an opportunity. Even if it doesn’t go as you wish, you can always see “it” as a chance to practice virtue.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” - Albert Einstein

The Obstacle is the Way – “The impediment to action advances action; what stands in the way becomes the way” – Marcus Aurelius

9. Mindful - You must bring your full awareness in your actions. Otherwise you act out of emotions instead of your rational decisions. Observe yourself and go through your daily actions before you go to bed so that you will make better decisions the next day.

When one becomes aware, you can often get misperceived being unemotional because you try not to act out of your emotions and you want to be indifferent to things you don’t control. This is a classic misconception. You feel emotions just like everybody else, but you are not enslaved by them.  You don’t get overwhelmed by emotions and you act in a rational manner despite your emotions.
It’s not about not having emotions, it’s about the domestication of one’s emotions.

By using the methods listed above we do our best to direct every action for the common welfare of everyone.

Ultimate beauty lies in your character. It’s what you do and who you are that matter most.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are”
- John Wooden

Monday, January 13, 2020


Recently a client asked me what I thought about using the mantra H.O.P.E. for the new year.

Having Only Positive Expectations

HOPE is a positive acronym about creating an attitude that is less negative (perhaps). Most times our intentions are good (Having HOPE); however, we all know about good intentions. I do have some concerns that requires us to ask a couple questions before we embark on this new mantra;

- What happens when “positive expectations” are not positive?

- What happens when “our expectations” do not unfold?

To only have positive expectations would require us to force our emotions to be out of alignment with reality.  (Example - I’m going to have positive emotions when people don’t do what they said they are going to do)

I’m forcing myself to think positive about the negative feelings I’m experiencing in this moment.  This forced emotional response will only last for so long, then we are right back to the negative feelings we had prior to the decision to have “only positive expectations”.

There is an ancient proverb that says, “The true secret to happiness is to lower our expectations”.

At first glance this may sound negative, but if you think about it, this is probably the best way to safe guard ourselves against having a negative attitude toward people and society in general.  If you’re like me, I have very high expectations for myself, which led me to project my expectations onto others.  After years of frustration I adopted “lowered expectations” as my mantra.  As I’ve done this, a whole new world has opened up for me in the fact that I rarely get angry or disappointed with people.

I either take in, or let go, of whatever life brings to me – I keep my personal expectations high, but I don’t project my expectations on to others.

In my world, if you are a good person and true to your word, I take you in – if you show me otherwise, I let you go. No hard feelings.

There’s a saying “believe people when they show you who they are the first time”. If someone is frustrating us it is primarily because our expectations are irrational. (Example: If someone didn’t show up for our meeting the first or second time - what makes you think the third time will be different? When they show you who they are, believe them. Take them in as a new friend or wish them well.

If people are not living up to our expectation we have three choices:

1. Change them. (you can’t change anyone – only yourself)

2. Accept them. (lower your expectations)

3. Leave them. (try to decide if this is the type of person you want in your life)

In order to have a healthy mind, our emotions should always be congruent with reality.  If someone isn’t living up to our expectation, change your expectations – or leave.  It’s a lot healthier than expecting them to change.

I have no expectations, other than the self-imposed expectations of being the best that I can truly be. I can only control me.

“Everything is as it should be”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Awake - Radical Acceptance


Start the New Year off with Radical Acceptance.

Radical acceptance is simply acknowledging reality.  You are acknowledging what happened or what’s currently happening - because fighting reality only intensifies our emotional reaction.

We might fight reality by judging a situation. An example, we might say “It should or shouldn’t be this way,” “That’s not fair!” or “Why me?!”

Fighting reality only intensifies suffering. Gandhi once said, “Pain is inevitable in life, suffering is optional”. Suffering is a product of refuse to accept the pain in our lives, which creates an "extreme fixation of self".

The following comments are valuable reminders to help us to radically accept our current situation.

Say to yourself:

“Right here is where I’m supposed to be”

“Where I am right now is the result of a million other decisions”

“Thinking of the past just robs me of the present”

“What I do in this moment is all that I have control over”

“Every event of my life has brought me to now”

“The present moment is perfect even if I don’t like it”

Happy New Year!