Dove with Branch
September 29, 2008 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My work is unpleasant because my boss is always criticizing me. He is always criticizing my work. My work is never good enough for him. How can I get him to stop criticizing my work? - Bella in SF

Dear Bella, His answer would be to make it absolutely perfect by his standard. But that solution would be impossible to achieve. What he wants is to get better results by motivating you through fear, and it is not working for him. Your reaction to him has the results of reducing your effectiveness and is your problem. You are upset by his criticism because you choose to view it as unacceptable. You can choose to look at him as trying to be the old style football coach and view criticism as funny, or you can choose to find other work - among other options. Realize that it is not the way he is but it is the way you are reacting that is the problem and find a solution that will work for you. One thing to consider is telling him you want to comply and ask him if he would be able to explain his needs in a way that you can understand them better. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I can never satisfy my mother. I can never do anything good enough for her. Even when I follow her advice she still expects more. Whatever I do or say I am asked to do better. She thinks I must always, always strive for perfection. I can't remember her being satisfied with what I do even one time. I have spoken to both her and my father about this, but it doesn't change even though they know how I feel. - Evan in MO

Dear Evan, If your mother hated you she wouldn't be taking the effort to "improve" you. She is doing what she thinks is right in the best way she knows how. Find a way to gently let your mother know that what she is trying to do will not work. Let her know you want to create a good life for yourself and that it would be more helpful to you if she could learn to give you advice in a more positive way. Let her know you love her and thank her for trying to help and suggest that maybe the two of you could find a way to make this work better. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

We tend to put too much faith in our own solutions to problems. We see a problem - run it through our belief system - collect the facts we think we need to make a decision and then go with it. Once we have made the decision we tend to accept it in our minds as the only "right answer." We put all of our efforts into implementing it, and into defending it whenever it is questioned by others. We often make ineffective decisions simply because we haven't considered all the facts, because things don't work the way we think they will, or simply because others would like to do it a different way.

What if we made the solutions we decide on only tentative? What if the final test was always, "how is this working?" When we give up the emotional attachment to our belief that we know what the right answer is, we focus on finding the best answer. Let's trade the need for feeling that we are doing the right thing for the need to find the best solution.

This will produce better results for us and others around us. It will greatly reduce the emotional conflict in our lives. It can also produce a great sense of satisfaction to know that we are always open to finding the best answer; and that we have always given it our best. A sense of knowing we have the "right" answer often leads to stress because of the perceived need to defend our answer. A sense of knowing we are searching for the best answer leads to reduction of stress because we are no longer resisting alternatives.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

We each have our own unique belief system, which is like a filter that new information passes through before it comes into our awareness. It is an extremely complex system that contains all of the things we have learned in life. These are the beliefs that we have been taught and accepted as true. Our beliefs determine how we think the world works and embody the truths that we hold as self- evident, and accept without question. In order to make meaning out of any new input to our brains, we always compare it to our existing belief system.

Our belief system will always make perfect sense to us - at least until we become troubled by the answers we are getting and begin to re-evaluate them. This system is self-validating because it is "truth" as we "believe" it to be. It is important to understand this if we hope to change the beliefs that trouble us.

Understanding the nature of our belief system and why we hold the beliefs that we do will help us to find the things we believe in that are not working for us; and that we may want to change. It will help us to change to more positive and effective beliefs. Before we change we must recognize that we would like to change. And if we want to change we need to know how to go about it.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: I think about how beliefs systems are created.

Tuesday: I think about where the beliefs I believe are important came from.

Wednesday: I think about the beliefs that make my life good.

Thursday: I think about the beliefs that cause me to be upset.

Friday: I think about the beliefs that I would like to change.

Saturday: I decide on new beliefs to replace my old upsetting beliefs.

Sunday: I begin the process of replacing my old upsetting beliefs with the new positive ones.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

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