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aSocial Psychologist & Personal Advisor

Dr Matt's Book contains Principles that
complement those taught by Stephen R. Covey

Family History Therapy by Dr Matt:
Getting Clear about Your Identity
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Excerpts from Dr Matt's book:
Changing Your Stripes:.
The Social Psychology of Situation, Self, & Solutions
that parallel the principles of.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
by Stephen R. Covey

Habit 1:   Be Proactive

Being Proactive means we are responsible for our own lives, to include the actions that we creatively initiate and the reactions we spontaneously have to circumstance. Dr Matt's new book "Changing Your Stripes" explains being "proactive" in terms of total, no-excuses, Response-Ablilty.

The Division of Response-Ability:
If It Comes out of You . . . It is Yours

OFFENSIVE                                                 OFFENDED

While offensive behavior may necessarily Capture your
Attention, the hurtful actions of others cannot
Cause the Character of your Response.

In response to the accusing query, "Who's to Blame?" . . . I've got two words: Wrong Question!

If you ask a wrong question, . . . you will get a wrong answer! Trying to divide blame between mutually participating partners by percentage, 70-30 or 60-40, etc., may make the lower percentage partner feel better, but in the end, dividing blame is unhelpful, . . . it doesn't practically improve anything. Such thinking fosters an excuse-making mentality: "I may be bad, but at least I'm not THAT bad!"

The best question to ask is: Who's Response-Able? And the answer is . . . Everyone! . . . Everyone is Able to Respond, and each and every human being is Response-Able for their actions and reactions that they personally author--including all thoughts, behaviors, motives, and emotions coming out of them. (Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 20)

This is where Dr Matt's new book offers an insight that is routinely ignored by advocates of "you-can-choose-your-destiny" doctrine. Indeed, you CAN choose your destiny, . . . but here's the catch: As the legendary trumpet player Louis Armstrong suggests:

"If ya ain't got it in ya, . . . ya can't blow it out"

All "choices" flow from us according to the stature of our character, or lack thereof. For example: "Impatient people" CANNOT choose to be "patient" . . . under the press of a provoking situation. Their lack of "choice" in a moment of provocation is similar to a Skunk that sprays its Stink. It happens unthinkingly and spontaneously!

BUT here's the good news: You can "determine" your propensity to be provoked tomorrow, by Changing Your Stripes today and becoming a person of high character capable of patient responses.

* * * * * * *

Habit 2:   Begin With The End In Mind

Dr Matt's book captures Habit #2 this way: Begin by asking the Best Questions from the start! Which included questioning whether "the end" to which you aim is productive and important, and questioning whether the means by which you intent to reach that "end" is an adequate avenue. So, entering every issue with "the end in mind" is good, . . . but questioning and weighing whether "the end" we have in mind and the way to accomplish it, is a superior approach!

Beginning Right: Good Questions, Good Answers. To arrive at good answers, we must first ask good questions! When we start with bad questions, we begin wrong . . . and thus, we will most likely end wrong. Asking unsound questions leads to second-class solutions. When our premise is poor, it's hard to acquire the prize. But the truth is we would not be asking a bad question, if we knew it was bad to begin with, . . . right? The saying goes:

* * * *
It's not what you don't know that makes you a fool;
but what you "think" you know, . . . that ain't so!
* * * *

In pursuit of the best solutions to Life's constraining conundrums, it is of paramount importance to pose the best questions from the get go. If the issues are not right and relevant, then the connected answers are as chaff in the wind; but if you find the right starting point, and ask the right questions, the issues framed there from will be important and purposeful; your questions will be as a beacon of light illuminating a productive pathway.

* * * *
Beginning with a bad assumption is like
climbing a ladder leaning against the wrong wall,
It leads to "progress" . . . . that ain't progress at all!
* * * *

So, to begin right, it is wise to question the question, . . . thoroughly double-checking assumptions before launching into an avenue of inquiry. But how do you know when you've got a good question? A good question has at least these two characteristics:

      1)  It concurs with the given realities of the world, and
      2)  It complements the purpose and meaning of human existence.

          (Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 158)

* * * * * * *

Habit 3:   Put First Things First

The following poem by Dr Matt characterizes matters that are "important" versus matters that are "urgent."

Agendas to push, reputations to prove
always on the go . . . busy, hurried, harried.
There is another way to live, there can be calm and flowing ease
where layers of complexity peel away, . . . the pace relaxes.
For there is no other place to be but . . . Here
and no other time to live but . . . Now.
There is nothing more important
than savoring the moment
with ones we love.
Living Simply . . . Simply Living!

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 101).

Dr Matt's new book, "Changing Your Stripes," also speaks to a matter of paramount importance, thus a principle of priority in this way:

"The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!"

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)

* * * * * * *

Habit 4:   Think Win-Win

Dr Matt conceives the Win/Win relationship from this perspective: While most would assume that Win/Win is a cooperative function of TWO . . . and this is TRUE, still, Dr Matt sees this dyad as a function of YOU!

While a human body is individual and separate in time and space, your "being" is inseparably tied to others. In fact, it is the "be-with" that makes possible your very "be-ing," . . . your human be-ing! Thus, it takes TWO . . . to create YOU:

* * * * *
You are bonded to others through meaningful, linguistic relations.
Your Way of Being IS the way you are "Being-With" another person;
this Verb aspect of Self is literally made possible by the presence of others.
* * * * *

For this reason, Chauncey Riddle maintains, "The self is located in the space between two bodies." That "space between" is the communicative expression we give to others; messages of emotion and meaning that always require both sender and receiver. Your way of being IS this "space between," and exists through the interactive synergy of self-and-other.

* * * * *
Human Beings are more
than the characteristics of Body
and more than activities of Doing, and
more than the Self-Image they Imagine.
The Most Vital Aspect of Self Is Located
in the Space Between Two Bodies
* * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 69)

Every action or reaction that flows from us . . . is expressed in one of two fundamental ways:

* * * * *
Every human act . . . has an impact.
By virtue of mutually impactful relations,
the human world is inherently a moral context.
We inescapably impact each other to either:
Betterment or Detriment.
* * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 85)

* * * * *
As I face fellow beings, I can impact others to
their growth & betterment, in Bonds of Love, . . . I-Thou,
I can "live" something less, and impact others
to their loss & detriment, in Bonds of Anguish, . . . I-It.
In every moment there is opportunity to Be-Loving,
and as I fail to embrace this Way-of-Being,
by default, I choose something less,
I "am" something less.
* * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 86)

The ultimate expression of "Win-Win" . . . means that each partner in the dyad impacts the other to their betterment, . . . not simply in terms of financial gain or better business . . . but to the long-term enrichment of the Bonds of Love. The fact is . . . two selfishly motivated colluders can arrive at mutually beneficial barters, . . . but the pinnacle of "Win-Win is characterized by selfless compassion, . . . and not merely selfish cooperation.

* * * * * * *

Habit 5:   Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

While "seeking to understand" IS indeed the gateway to being "understood," . . . again, human beings cannot choose to be "understanding," unless such empathy naturally flows from their character. Again, as famed trumpeter Louis Armstrong states:

"If ya ain't got it in ya, . . . ya can't blow it out"

In other words, unless we increase our integrity of character, we will not be able to "understand" others with consistent empathy and emotion. Further, using mechanical techniques of "reflective listening" (parroting and paraphrasing back the words we hear) is not equivalent to the kind of "understanding" that influences and inspires others to, in turn, want to understand our perspective.

The quest to live a Happy & Highly Effective Life is to become a person of pure empathy:

Selfish versus Empathic. Because we experience our world from a perspective located at our individual bodies, it is very common for one's way of seeing the world to have a default position that is inherently selfish. Selfishness IS the fuel that feeds the fires of human trouble.

Comes the common quip, "how else can I live, but to live for my self?" And that is where conceptualizing the verb-self, or the self as "being," becomes centrally important. When we finally understand that the most vital and purposive aspect of self is manifest in our way-of-being-with-others, then an alternate possibility of looking at life emerges: Seeing the world through empathic eyes.

What goes around . . . comes around. Because Life is Self-Correcting, if you fail to be empathic and see empathic early on, then Life will smack you hard in the head till your selfish attention is captured; and Life will keep on smackin' your egocentric head until you get the clue that it's time to Change Your Stripes and become a New Kind of Creature. A new you that is able to "Be" empathic, and thus naturally able to "See" empathic.

* * * * *
You See the World according to Who You Are,
Your Way of Seeing is inseparably tied to Your Way of Being.
A New World unfolds to view through Changing Your Stripes
and Becoming a New Kind of Creature.
* * * * *

One way of mentally dislodging Self from the chronic rut of ME-Centered-Seeing is to realize that the Animal You Are is not only an "I" to numerous "others," but also an "other" to numerous "I's." To remember this "out of body" perspective is to begin to desire the sweet fruits of empathy--the rich relations of love. And with "desire" . . . a seed is sown.

But more than a change of mind is required to become empathic. People cannot change their mind—hence their way of seeing and understanding their world—until they first experience a Change of Heart, and that vital change happens only through the renewing powers of Heaven. The metamorphosis of Changing Your Stripes does not happen through mind power, but through His Power—as we yield our selfish will . . . to His Loving Ways. (Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 88)

"Karma" is a principle that supports and explains the 5th Habit: As we send out "understanding," . . . only then can "understanding" return to us; which is a principle parallel to the Law of the Harvest: We must necessarily sow the seeds of understanding . . . in order to reap the fruit of understanding.

* * * * * * *

Habit 6:   Synergize

People who live in a highly effective way . . . have the humility and reverence that recognizes their own limitations as individuals, and appreciates the synergistic richness that only occurs in the Bonds of Love:

When you are being empathic you are not only being Loving, your very Being IS Love. "Being Loving" IS the highest attainment of purpose and existence: Love is the ultimate of Godly attributes.

Thus, Human Be-ing has its richest fulfillment within the relational Bonds-of-Love. The verb aspect of self, human being, transcends the boundaries of individual bodies and is expressed in the space-between-two-bodies. Being happens at the heart of each and every relationship. Without others to "be-with," human being cannot . . . "be." Leonardo De Cresenzo conveyed this inseparable synergism with these words:

* * * * *
"We are each of us angels with one wing,
and can only fly embracing each other."
* * * * *

We literally require each other in order to "be." And because of this bond, we stand before one another in an inherent position of moral obligation. As Mother Teresa put it: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." How we are "being-with" others, our way of being, is the most important facet of self and the most essential expression of our existence.
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 90)

* * * * * * *

Habit 7:   Sharpen the Saw

The highest expression of all "Saw Sharpening," . . . is that of owning and honing your spiritual identity, . . . which means recovering to Who You Are from your beginnings. This IS the ultimate refining and sharpening of the Self. As Pierre De Chardin suggests:

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience,
but spiritual beings having a human experience."

To sharpen our inherent spiritual identity to bright white clarity . . . is to connect to our spiritual roots. The following excerpt from "Changing Your Stripes," speaks to the fact that all emotions flow from the fountain of Spiritual Integrity . . . or Who We Are as we are being True to Life's Inherent Harmony:

The Fountain from which Emotions Flow. The foundational source from which all emotions flow is not spoken of in psychology texts or in scientific literature generally: That foundational source is "spirit." Spirit is not as mystical as some imagine; it is no more mysterious than the occurrence of "wind." While we don't "see" wind (the substance of which is invisible air in motion), we do empirically experience the effects of wind all around.

Similarly, phenomena associated to the word "spirit" are as discernible to the senses as "wind." The consequences of spirit influence are readily perceive-able in the mortal realm, yet the direct substance of spirit remains invisible to mortal eyes—notice I said, "substance of spirit." Some conceive spirit to be immaterial, without form or matter, but this is not so! People who have visited the spirit realm consistently convey accounts of "seeing" some-thing . . . as opposed to no-thing; they viewed a world of substantial things and embodied beings.

To understand why we respond in emotional ways at particular times, it is best to ask a prerequisite question: "Why do you perceive as you do?" The truth is that body physiology follows perception, and the foundational source of all perception is spirit—both the direct influence of spirit, and our way of responding associated to that spirit influence. People perceive the world as a function of their "Spiritual Integrity." Covey submits, "You don't see the world as it is, you see it according to who you are." Because who you are is most importantly manifest by your Way of Being, you see the world as a function of two opposing responses to Spirit influence:

        * Be True to your own Intuition of Truth OR . . .
        * Betray that Spirit Intuition.

Understanding Whole Emotion by Matt Moody, Ph.D.

Spiritual Integrity means hearing and heeding your own sense of what is True. Spiritual Disharmony is a term to describe those moments when you go against your own Intuitions of Truth. The connection between your way of being and your way of seeing the world is taught in the New Testament:

"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving
is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled." (Titus 1:15).

The way you perceive any particular moment in time is determined by how you are being in that moment--whether of Integrity or Disharmony. This is why the Sioux Indian holy man Black Elk said: "It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost." C. Terry Warner adds "When we cannot see our way, we think darkness is shrouding our pathway, when really the darkness is in ourselves."

When we live in spiritual disharmony, we see the world differently, we see the world through darkened eyes; hence, we bring to particular situations our dark definitions, not because the situation is dark, but because we are dark. We get lost in shadows of our own creation, and it follows that dark emotions flow from impure perceptions. For this reason "emotions" should NOT be followed.

* * * * *
Because emotions follow you,
you should not follow your emotions.
If you are being untrue in an emotional moment,
then the emotions that flow from you
only amplify your falseness.
* * * * *
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 127)

* * * * * * *

The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!

(Changing Your Stripes, page 3-78)

The book, "Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
the ditch in which you've been dumped (the difficulties of which you are a victim), and
the ditch in which you've jumped (the difficulties for which you volunteer).

"Mastering a challenging situation
is ultimately a matter of
mastering yourself!"

- Matt Moody.

"Changing Your Stripes," teaches you the principles that lead to lasting change,
making you a new kind of creature capable of communicating
with calm, even as storms of contention swirl.

If these ideas resonate and ring true,
then . . . this book is for you!

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through this website

Changing Your Stripes is a
unique reference book that will help
you understand, . . . and solve all of
Life's ever-appearing problems.
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Changing Your Stripes

Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor


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