On Saturday afternoon I sat down to watch the North Melbourne versus Brisbane Lions AFL game. As I like to do I wanted to follow SuperCoach* scores on a particular website.
SuperCoach* is a competition where you are given $10,000,000 at the start of the AFL season and choose a team of players who you think are going to play well. Each player is allocated a price, so picking your team is about choosing a balance of great players, good players and the unknown. You are allocated into a league where you compete against others on a head to head basis to win (based on how well your players score). I like playing it during the season, riding the ups and downs and generally berating myself for making poor choices. It’s a constant exercise in frustration tolerance and self-forgiveness.
Back to Saturday afternoon. Whilst the game was on I was keeping an eye on how my SuperCoach team was going. The website I was following was being very glitchy, and I was becoming quite frustrated as the scores on the website for the players were not matching. I also could see that some of the players in the team were not showing up on the website, despite numerous attempts at reloading the website.
Despite this it was a great game.
Toward the end of the game (about two hours later) my son came in from his man cave. He sat down, looked at the game, looked at me and said Mum, you realise this game is a replay. He then pointed out how some of the players were now playing for other teams, one was suspended and not playing in the real life game that I was actually not watching.
The penny dropped.
It wasn’t the website that was wrong.
It was all me.
I had been lulled into the fact that it should have been a live game, because the replay had the live label up in the corner. They were the right teams playing, it’s just the game was about three years old.
I was not mindfully watching. I was watching for interest in the game, but they are not teams I usually follow. Now admittedly I was also reading and doing a couple of other things at the same time as watching the football, but how did I get it so wrong?
I saw what I thought I was seeing.
I looked at the live label, looked at the teams that were playing and thought I ‘should’ be watching the game. I am currently watching games on the Kayo App which for various reasons I found sometimes difficult to navigate, and thought I had pressed on the button for the current game.
So, in my mind I was watching the right game, and everything else went through that lens.
The fact that the website figures didn’t match the game, the fact that the website didn’t have all my players on it (because they weren’t actually playing!). This evidence was dismissed because it didn’t match my currently held belief – that I was watching a live game.
If I had tuned my attention fully I would have realised what was going on.
If I had actually tuned into my common sense I would have realised what was going on.
If my mind had been clearer and not full of everything else I was thinking of. Because I rarely sit for two hours and watch a game of football – it is interspersed with other tasks.
When it was pointed out to me, it was so obvious.
Isn’t this the way with so much.
You see what you expect to see, what you want to see and dismiss evidence to the contrary. In fact you gather evidence (consciously and subconsciously) to support your own belief. This is also known as confirmation bias. In my case, it was that the website had been glitchy and couldn’t be trusted.
The power of the mind to convince us of things that just aren’t true!
Ok, don’t leave me hanging here.
I know I’m not the only one that does things like this. We all do it. When was the last time you fiercely gathered evidence to prove you were right, when you were actually wrong?
What to do about it?
Situations like this are a great reminder of the importance of living mindfully. To be aware of incongruences and to take the time to explore. They are also a reminder that perhaps it’s time to focus cognitive self-care and nourish your brain.
Slowing down a little, taking the time to actively look for a different perspective, realising when your brain is stuck, allowing that other possibilities exist, are all important for your brain health. (If I'd taken the time to go through some basic problem solving steps, I’m sure the brainstorming part would have thrown up the option that I was watching the wrong game.)
As is realising your humanity and be able to laugh at the silly things you do from time to time. I had a great laugh at my own expense as I realised what I had done, rather than add to any stress by beating myself up for being so stupid.
Ways to Love your Mind
You can tune in this week to the Creating Connection podcast where I will be talking about Loving your Mind, and in particular problem solving. But in the meantime you can catch up with my most popular episode this year – 9 keys to successful habit creation.
Until next time, take care of yourself.
I really believe in self-care, but find I can get to the end of the day and realise I actually haven't done it. Running a small business and medium sized family looking after myself is really important, or I will get burnt out.
So, I thought this week I would schedule it in.
I sat down at the beginning of the week and thought Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon, they look like good times to have a few hours break to myself. Monday and Tuesday I will work on my business doing admin, marketing, exploring possible new sub contractors etc. Wednesday afternoon I have private clients, Thursday I need to work on assessments and client notes/plan, Friday assessment to do.
So welcome to Wednesday morning. My youngest has had ongoing minor medical health issues. These popped up again on Tuesday, so first priority this morning was to make an appointment for him and take him. Then my middle child informs me that they, and a number of other students, were excluded from important career sessions at school and they have not been informed of when they will be allowed to catch up. So, parenting task no.2.
Rang middle child's school. The person in charge of careers said they had nothing to do with the careers assessment and gave me a contact name. The person was unavailable. All possible avenues to speak to at the school were unavailable. At this point I have left phone messages with two different people and am waiting for a phone call.
When I dropped my youngest child back at school after their medical appointment I popped in to see the Special Needs Co-ordinator about some of the clients I have at school. Had a quick chat and picked up some paperwork that required action.
Okay, so I’m home now, just a couple of admin tasks to do before I could have a work free morning, or an hour or two.
Came home and called the parent of the child whose paperwork it was. Received permission to forward paperwork to another professional. Went to scan paperwork that I had picked up, and discovered the scanner on my printer wouldn’t work. I have never used it before. Looked up and tried to follow instructions on website, didn’t work. Contacted HP support. They explored and told me the driver hadn’t been installed properly in the first place. The support person was helpful, and proceeded to fix the problem, but there went more of the morning. When call had finished, scanned documents, sent email.
I quickly checked emails and had responded to latest email from potential sub-contractor. Organised information that needed to be dropped off to another allied health professional.
By then it was lunch time……
I am currently writing this whilst listening to a work related youtube video, as my first client for this afternoon cancelled. I have ten minutes before I need to go to work.
I’ll try again Friday…..
ps all was not lost. Wherever I am I can practice informal mindfulness. For example, when waiting in the medical appointment I practiced mindfulness in the chair. Grab it when you can....
Whilst I was talking with someone about all the things that were going on in my life someone said to me “life’s not simple”.
They were right. Life is not simple, it is complex and messy and confronting. It is also rapidly changing and sometimes downright scarey.
But that is not all it is.
It is also beautiful and awe inspiring; exhilarating and wonderous.
The challenge is to notice those moments too.
I wonder how you would feel if you can turn off the news, stop reading the paper, make your favourite drink, find a quiet spot and sip.
Take the time to find the simplicity, notice the beautiful.
Hands up if you saw someone driving this weekend texting on their phone, if you saw someone speed, run a red light, cut in front of you, not allow someone to zip/merge, or tailgate you?
When was the last time you drove somewhere and realised you did not remember how you got there. When did you last say to yourself, I did not see them, or find yourself swerving as you changed the radio station?
All of these examples occur when we and other road users take driving for granted and forget to drive mindfully.
Who better to talk about mindful driving than a Highway Patrol Officer. It is my pleasure to introduce Leading Senior Constable Glenn Dunn, from the Casey and Cardinia Highway Patrol Unit. LSC Dunn, is passionate about reducing the road toll. Since February 2016 he has presented the Emergency services speaker component for Road Trauma Support Services seminars being conducted at Narre Warren. Recently he shared with me his A, B, C and D of driving. Over to you LSC Dunn.
I have intercepted many road users that engage in intentional high risk driving behaviours such as driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, doing burnouts, travelling at excessive speeds and using their mobile phone whilst driving. All of these people have the view that it is OK to do these things and they see it as an opportunity to see what they can get away with. Police are the bad guys, speed cameras are revenue raisers, drinking and driving and texting whilst driving are OK as long as you are not caught. There is something horribly wrong with this mindset.
It all comes back to the basic laws of physics. If you are speeding and you lose control of the car and slam into a tree, a pole or a car coming the other way then there is going to be an impact and an exchange of forces - a “Sudden Stop!” If you are in a vehicle that has a sudden stop and you are not wearing your seatbelt you become a projectile and continue to travel at the speed that the car was travelling before the stop! Our bodies have not been designed to withstand such external forces! We are not Graham.
Graham is a human sculpture designed to look like how the human body would need to be created to survive a serious crash. You can learn more about him herehttp://www.tac.vic.gov.au/about-the-tac/media-room/news-and-events/current-media-releases/introducing-graham. Now I don't know about you, but I don't look like Graham. Therefore I need to drive as safely as I can, and that means driving mindfully.
I have attended serious collisions caused by the fatal five activities (as identified by Monash University Accident Research Centre)
These are all avoidable activities. For most people driving is something that they do in between other activities in their life and as such they are rushing from one place to another and as a result not enough attention is paid to the actual act of driving.
My approach to driving can best be summed up by the following A,B, C, and D.
(A) – Drive with Awareness – pay attention!
(B) - don’t forget to Breath
(C) - Concentrate on your driving, don’t allow yourself to be distracted; and last but not least,
(D) - every road user has a “Duty of Care” to every other road user.
A – Drive with awareness
Be aware of:
The external environment – weather, traffic conditions, speed limits, is your car too hot, too noisy. If the kids are fighting pull over. Use your mirrors.
Your internal environment – Are you tired or upset? Pull over take a nap. Go for a walk. Calm yourself before taking off.
A lighter example of unaware driving.
I am in an unmarked police car, being tailgated for a few minutes. We came to where the road went from one lane to two lanes. This person felt I wasn't moving to the left lane quickly enough so he drove closer to the rear of the unmarked car and honked his horn ferociously. I moved over to the left and allowed him to pass. When he got up level with me he looked across at me and saw that I was in police uniform. I could see the colour leave his face as he turned a lighter shade of pale. We went through the roundabout and I pulled him over and gave him a ticket for tailgating.
B – Breathe
When you hop in the car, before you start you journey, take that moment to breath and remind yourself that the intention of driving is to get to where you want to go, safely. When you switch on the ignition of your car switch on your awareness as well.
During your journey you will encounter many potential obstacles. We just need to view these differently. For example - Treat a Red light as a “Relax light”. Take the opportunity to take a couple of deep breaths. Do a quick body scan - be aware of any tension in your hands and neck and stretch. Check in with your internal environment and let any stress go. Remind yourself you will get there. On most occasions driving is still quicker than walking or riding a bike.
C – Concentrate
Prepare before you go. Make sure you know where you are going. Don’t text, put on makeup, read, eat your breakfast, play with the radio, answer your phone, read the Melways, punch in an address into the GPS. Yes, these are all examples of activities people are doing before they cause an accident. Just drive. If you are texting when you drive or you answer a phone call and you hurt someone badly, even if they don't die, you can go to jail for about 5-10 years. You will also live with the trauma caused by taking that call.
D – You have a Duty of Care. Drive in a manner so that you do your best to keep other road users, your passengers, and yourself safe. Check your child is wearing their seatbelt. Send the text before you drive out of the school car park, not whilst driving out. Treat the speed limit as a maximum. Leave room between your car and the car in front, it’s not OK to tailgate someone because you think they’re going to slow.
If we can encourage more motorists to apply this approach to driving, help motorists take responsibility for their actions and get them to take their Duty of Care seriously I believe that we can go a long way towards reducing the amount of senseless road trauma that is currently occurring on our roads.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by road trauma one place you can seek help is through Road Trauma Support Services, Victoria. https://www.rtssv.org.au.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.