Irrational Beliefs – Part 2

Most likely, as humans, you have experienced numerous cognitive distortions at one time or another. In the previous post, I highlighted 3 tendencies out of 11 cognitive distortions, and here is another 3 flawed pattern of thinking which are significant in our interactions and relationships. Once you are aware, you can improve and modify the faulty beliefs with practice.

Mental Filter – The mental filter distortion happens when an individual allows a single negative piece of information to overshadow and exclude the positive ones. For instance, when someone focuses on an unfavorable comment or incident and dwells on it while ignoring all positive remarks or experiences.

What to do: Write down the negative thought, challenge it, and reframe the thinking to a positive and realistic one. And remember that a negative situation does not remain negative forever.

Disqualifying the Positive – This distortion involves the rejection of positive statements or events by insisting that they are a fluke or argue against it: “that doesn’t count.”

For example, when someone is praised for a trait or a work, the receiver ignores it and disqualifies the comment based on “they are just nice.”

What to do: The best way to start managing these inaccurate thoughts is to practice receiving compliments and feedback with a simple: ‘Thank you”.

Jumping to conclusions:

  1. Mind reading variant –  it refers to inaccurate beliefs and negative interpretations based on assumptions. We might have an idea of what other people are thinking, however jumping to conclusions without justification by the facts is wrong. For example, you meet an unfriendly or bad-tempered person, and you automatically take it personally or think that they have bad intentions.
  2. Fortune telling variant – in this case, we imagine and predict horrible things will happen to us. Of course, we all feel anxious to some extent if a loved one is late and does not pick up the phone.

What to do:

  • Slow down and actively ask yourself whether your assumptions make sense and are based on valid reasoning or available evidence.
  • In both cases, Mind reading or Fortune telling, for you to remain calm, it is best to balance out by thinking about the two extremes, the negative thoughts, and the possible best outcome of any given situation. This way, you likely feel better.

 

Featured image by Lucio Carvalho

Interview with Mariannita Luzzati – Brazilian/Italian Visual Artist

Do you like to wander? Are you seeking solace? Are you turning to nature and landscapes to be inspired and encouraged? Are you figuring out the absurd situations, odd habits, or other eccentric aspects of daily life? In such moments, turning to art re-enacts our emotions and magnifies our natural survival instincts. Complexity in life demands a catalyst to foster coherence and clarity. Seemingly, looking at the artwork that recognizes the intensity of the modern world and comforts in uncertainties or sorrows and amplifies exuberance is beneficial to our well-being.

The contemplative landscape paintings of Mariannita Luzzati is one of the activators to learn about the mysteries of the world around us. An artist that sparks the knowledge to living a hedonic way through a mediative outlook. Born in São Paulo, of Italian parents who arrived in Brazil in the sixties, Mariannita Luzzati artworks honors the natural habitat and explores the interconnectedness of humans to their environment.

“These images suggest that the viewer should contemplate and reflect on emptiness and silence, which for me, is our greatest need today,” says the artist.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

In 2011 Mariannita Luzzati conceived and developed the Cinemúsica Project in collaboration with her husband, the pianist Marcelo Bratke to bring multimedia performances to Brazilian prisons exploring the dialogue between music and moving images. Cinemúsica was performed in 10 prisons of the State of São Paulo, and Mariannita Luzzati produced and directed a documentary about the project. Since then, Cinemúsica has also been performed in prestigious cultural institutions in Brazil and abroad. Among these are the Southbank Center in London; Performing the World Festival in New York; Sarajevo Winter Festival; Sala São Paulo; Teatro da Paz in Belém and the Rio de Janeiro Opera Hall. The Cinemúsica Project was performed more than 60 times, receiving the Art of Touch Award at the Sarajevo Winter Festival.

 

Interview with Mariannita Luzzati

 

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

ML: It is the need to create a pictorial space on my work in which I somehow feel I can insert myself in.

In fact, I create a parallel reality of the aesthetic ideal that I pursue.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: Why are you focused on the concept of the landscapes-

ML: Because I want to be there, to be at that particular landscape in the middle of nature briefing nature.

Nature is an infinite thematic element, and I always discover new ways of seeing it.

Environmental issues are of great interest to me, and it motivates me to develop my work.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

ML: To be true to me. This approach includes doing nothing that offends my ethics. To be close to the people I love and to stay close to nature and to have a simple life.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt-

ML: A long walk in the countryside is the best way to down negative thoughts. I love swimming and yoga, as well. I always try to ignore negative thoughts. I don’t exercise self-doubts, and I believe that mistakes and successes sadness and happiness are part of life, and we have to experiment it.

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working

ML: I never answer phone calls or messages when I am at the studio so, I am very focused when I am working. I love to be absorbed entirely in my studio or my readings during my working time.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

ML: Love it!

I love it when I am criticized! I believe that opening discussions about my work is always interesting and productive and makes me reflect on what I am doing.

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

ML: Be yourself. Do not follow trends. Be truthful in what you do. Do not mirror the career of another artist. Each human being is unique and has its trajectory. Stay open to other arts such as music, cinema dance, theatre, etc.…

 

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

 

Jupilings: What is the role of art today-

ML: For me, art’s role is to modify the perception of the world and life taking us out of our comfort zone, confronting us with new questions, making us look inside of ourselves, and finally opening a new window in our lives.

Jupilings: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard

ML: When a white horse passes in front of your window, just jump on it! (I received this advice when I was in my twenties and was reluctant to accept an invitation I received to make my first solo show at a significant Gallery in São Paolo. So, I jumped on it!)

Capturing Emotions – Interview With Milenna Saraiva

Without a doubt, Art, especially portraiture channels, a better understanding of ourselves and others. It nudges us towards empathy, appreciation of diversity, and the grasp of emotions. From documentation to speculation, the category of portrait art is fascinating as it gives insights to the interior self. As Lucian Freud stated: ‘I think a great portrait has to do with the way it is approached … it is to do with the feeling of individuality, and the intensity of the regard and the focus on the specific’.

Dynamic and vibrant, Milenna Saraiva captures the spirit and the expressions of her sitter with a strong brush of paint in her portraits. Her strength in depicting the likeness inspired by the individual’s narrative and conviction is passionate. She pushes the age-old genre in new directions where the feelings are revealed, and the appearance utters the individual’s true essence.

Princess Diana – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva – Brazilian Visual Artist

Here is my interview with Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Your story- 

Milenna:  I was born in SÃO Paulo, Brazil. I grew up surrounded by musicians and Art in my family circle, so I was always stimulated to be creative. I recollect always drawing since I was very young. I was a shy child, so drawing helped me to communicate and protected me from the world. I ended up getting into dancing and then gymnastics and became an athlete at 12 years old. I used to practice for 8 hours a day, after school, and travel around the country competing with my teammates. Even then, I continued drawing on the side. When I was 17, I injured myself and decide to stop training. At 18, I decided to go to the US to study Fine Arts, and there I lived for the next 14 and a half years. Los Angeles was an excellent teacher and mother to me, but I missed my real base in Brazil and moved back to my country. I continued my education here with a post-grad degree in contemporary painting. I started to make my way into the art world here, doing all kinds of arts-related activities. One of them was live painting. Once I observed and connected with the visual performance, it changed the way I paint and my approach. It has also given me the confidence I need to loosen up and let my emotions come out with way less restrained. Today I have an art studio that I go to every day and spend at least 8 hours working. I spend my time discovering new ways to express myself through my work, painting commissions, murals, and performing live painting in all kinds of events.

Milenna Saraiva Artwork

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

Milenna: Art is the language of my thoughts. I find it easier to paint than to use words. The lights, the darks, and the layers of depth that come from playing with textures and colors give me a freedom that I cannot find in Portuguese or English. Painting is my quiet way of expressing my heritage and questioning social values. My work has become a tool for me to narrate my life experiences in parables. The paintings I make reflect my personal mythology.

Jupilings: As a portrait artist, you capture aspects of a person’s identity, likeness, and emotions. In your artwork, do you aim to portray the individuals as to how they see themselves, or how they perceive them-

Milenna: I want my portraits to give clues about the portraited people’s energy and essence. I do want them to identify with the works too. For that, I rely on trying to perfect my technique. Portraits are tricky, though, people want their portraits made still, in most cases are surprised when they see the final product. Their expectation is to see themselves as they see themselves and not how the artist sees them. The way we see ourselves is unique to ourselves. There are many versions of us, one to each different person that we meet, so it’s impossible to fulfill that desire unless you are a photo-realistic artist. And that will never interest me. In my opinion, an artwork will always have the artist’s perceptions engraved all over it.

Andre – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What are your thoughts on “portraits” to create a visual dialogue to explore social justice, sexuality, race, and many other controversial subjects-

Milenna:  I’m attracted to controversial subjects, clearly, lol. I think portraits have always been fantastic tools to create dialogues, subtle dialogues with those paying attention. Many artists have and are using imagery and symbols to tell stories, to convey hidden or explicit messages. At this moment, I’m not taking advantage of the allegories that painting offers in all its possibilities; instead, I’m investing in the emotions and expressions of the markings, brush strokes and the colors to do all the ‘talking.’ For instance, the portrait of Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian human rights activist, and politician, murdered in mysterious circumstances by the militia, I used a very warm color pallet, with red drips, splashes, a well-defined box behind it, and name it “Seed.” I narrated her story in an observable manner, and those paying attention will hopefully understand it. That means my Art allows me to say what I want to say, but only to those who want to hear it. If Art is a form of communication, my paintings are a language.

Marielle Franco – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

Milenna: It changes a lot from time to time, depending on what’s going on. But there’s a good one I always go back to that says “Live whimsically. Love extravagantly. Dream boldly. Create daily.” 

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt- 

Milenna: It’s a constant struggle to balance everything that happens in my mind. But I think I usually sort it all out by painting. Negativity and positivity are only opposite sides of the coin. As well as self-doubt and confidence. I believe that self-doubt is essential for improvement. When I’m questioning myself if something is as good as I could make it, I will keep working on it until self-doubt is gone.

Julian Assange Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working-

Milenna: I don’t think I manage distractions that well. I could be way more productive If I actually do away with it. I’ve gotten used to doing many things at the same time. Working on several projects at the same time. The distraction is also an opportunity, or maybe a window, to take a moment and then return to something I was very focused on. And sometimes, this little break could give me the answer that I need to finish a piece. So, I guess I embrace them.

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

Milenna: I will only accept criticism from people I respect and have more knowledge than I do. Otherwise, I ignore them completely. Sometimes you need to protect yourself from opinions since every person has a different one, you have to believe in what you believe in. There are many reasons you do what you do and how you do it, that precisely is what makes you unique.

Malala YousafzaiArtwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

Milenna: If you want to be an artist, study to be one, like a doctor studies to be a doctor. Learn every technique, learn how to draw and produce as much as you can. Only the practice of your craft will allow you to discover your true gift and unique style. Also, be organized with your works, photograph everything, and have an online portfolio since the beginning. It’s important to network, to be part of a group of people who think alike and have the same goals that you do.

Most importantly, what you love. Find out what inspires you and create based on what you love. When you do that, you will want to do it all the time, and you will never feel like you’re working. Know that not everyone will like what you do, and you’ll get many ‘no’s,’ but keep going until you get the ‘yes.’

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is the role of Art today-

Milenna: Art has many roles, in my opinion: To entertain, to express and provoke thinking and emotions, tell a story, shock, and sometimes to simply beautify the world. To me, it’s all of it.

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva
Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupiligns: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard- 

Milenna: At Santa Monica College, my painting teacher once told me I needed to work harder if I wanted to be an artist and said that “talent isn’t enough.” When I was younger, I was reckless. I used to go out at night and was always come late to painting classes. After that day, something changed in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Negative Thoughts Instantly!

“Our views of our body image – what’s on the outside – are directly affected by our emotions on the inside.”

Dr Alan Watkins

Are you feeling stressed out? Are you facing challenges? Are you having negative thoughts about how things are going? Do you have a poor body image that affects how you present yourself?

Next time you are riding on the negativity rollercoaster, notice the mindless chatter that is taking over your cognitive reasoning. Recognize that tension and anxiety are the sources that are stirring up the useless inner voice that signals destructive criticism. This negativity is unrealistic, and if it is not challenged, it will consume your health, your immune system and turn you into a self-absorbed toxic person who is unaware of the world around them. So be aware!

Introspection and shifting your mindset to a positive state can be achieved through myriads of ways. There are lots of self-help books, treatments, training, and the list goes on. However, it is possible to remedy the way we feel at any moment of the day! You can control the rush of negative thoughts and tensions in the heat of the moment by shifting your focus to your heart’s physiology.

Dr. Alan Watkins, a leadership expert, neuroscientist & CEO of Complete Coherence, explains that we can balance our emotions by controlling our breath. He further points out the connection between the optimum level of our performance and our physiology. Therefore, to reach our “A game,” we need to get a grip of our different psychological and physical layers:

Performance – To be at our best, we need to change our behavior.

Behaviour – To change our behavior, we have to change the way we think.

Thoughts – Our feelings influence our thoughts.

Feelings – Our feelings are the awareness of our emotions.

Emotions – Emotion is the energy in motion from all the streams of data,

Physiology – Streams of data produced by functions and mechanism within our body,

Therefore, in a stressful situation, practicing rhythmic and smooth breathing to regain a coherent heart rate pattern allows the flow of data in our body to function without a blockage. Due to our ancient survival instinct, our frontal lobe shuts off as the time intervals’ variation between the heartbeats increases. Once you master the smooth and rhythmic breathing, you have set the ground to gain control over the fabric of your mind. As a result, the mixed self-help efforts or developmental training exerted on those psychological layers will help you stay alert and energetic to give your best. Only with practice, in an anxious state, you can steer your heart rate variability to an ideal pace so that your brain regains its clarity. The emphasis should be to breathe in measured, regular, and smooth intervals to have a coherent heart rate pattern.

Now that you are aware of the connections and most importantly, you have the elixir of control, next time you are restless and on edge, you know precisely what to do: zoom out of the negative perception of your body or mind and zoom in to your heart and breathing rhythm.

For more watch:

Featured image courtesy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy Marvin

Stop Judging – Take Back Your Power! Foundation of Mindfulness #1

At times, we form an opinion or conclude, deliberately or otherwise, only to find out that the story in our head is polluted. By judging, we work hard to build a wall and to protect ourselves and live securely. The problem with this stance in life is that it often prevents us from making meaningful and genuine connections with oneself and others. Although judging is an instinct, you can be aware of it and control your impulses. When you adopt a mindful outlook, you embark on the intelligence and wisdom track. The non-judging approach is the protective gear that will support you against unsound decisions and irrational reactions in life. Releasing judgment is stepping over self-made barriers to see and grasp “things as they are.”

Todd Schorr Art
Todd Schorr Art

The myths and sensationalized stories are good examples of our preconceived judgments. Overall, the side effects of judgments such as fear or condemning bad and good categories in our mental descriptions create prejudices, biases, and stress. The habit of categorizing is useful for filing systems, but when it comes to our life relations and connections at times, it limits our perspective and growth.

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Todd Schorr Art

How to remove the obstructive judgemental attitude? 

  • Be mindful- Recognize the judgments that unfold whether you are performing a task or when you are in fight-flight mode. Observe how your mind describes the situation: as mundane, suspicious, energetic, or any other attribute that influences your behavior or reaction to that particular circumstance. For instance, to observe our judgemental mind, practice breathing. Set a time and start paying attention to your breath, and indeed, your oblivious mind will begin harassing you by labeling your practice as boring. Basically, the approach is not to suppress your judgment but to be aware of it.
  • Don’t take it personally – I remember that when our son started high-school, the amazing principal recommended that as the parents of young teenagers, do not take their withdrawn behavior and uncommunicative reactions personally. Instead, be continuously loving, caring, and have a set framework of rules. Don’t snoop; they will eventually talk to you and tell you all about their adventure but on their own time. It was great advice, one that kept the peace. Or, as adults, it happens that you will encounter disagreements. As long as you remember that the conflict is not about you, it helps to detach the “me” connection and give others the benefit of the doubt.
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    Todd Schorr Art
  • rame – This approach is about not changing the facts but having an open mind to recognize that people have different ways of doing things or different perspectives. Instead of getting angry or miserable, channel your energy to pause and reflect. The challenge is to dive underneath the anger, and your oxygen tank is your ability to reframe. With regular practice, the efforts to reframe a situation become a habit, immensely rewarding, especially when you encounter setbacks. Reframing a problematic situation or dire circumstance allows you to transform the problems into possibilities and remain healthy, composed with a positive mindset.

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    Todd Schorr Art
  • Self-reflection – As soon as you start judging, try to ask yourself whether you have had the same or similar behaviour.

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    Todd Schorr Art
  • Don’t blame yourself or others- As much as the blame game is an easy defense mechanism, indeed, it is unproductive and unpleasant. The tendency to distort our self-esteem with blame is inept. Instead, see things as they are, and break away from blaming yourself or others. Again reframe the situation, replace words such as should to could or losses to learning experiences to make a pathway for much better opportunities.
  • Be a friend to yourself – Connect with your strength, intelligence, and love yourself. Dismiss negative thoughts and destructive criticism. When you stop judging, you will distance yourself from gauging others and assume an impartial approach in life. One that helps with mastering your mind.
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Todd Schorr Art

Featured image by: Todd Schorr

Letting Go – Foundation of Mindfulness #7

Changing the habit of non-acceptance

  • Let the sensations come and go
  • Do not take things personally
  • Acceptance is not choosing over your preference
  • Let go of control; not everything is what we imagine nor what we believe
  • Do not react to the unwanted situation
  • Take your focus away from what you agree or disagree
  • Recognize that flaws do exist in life, in people, and your doings and point of views
  • Detach yourself from distressing thought by not giving too much weight to it
  • Create a supportive slogan for yourself to accept things as they are in challenging moments

Ultimately, by allowing things to be as they are and staying neutral, you will learn to cultivate an acceptance attitude to reduce your anger, remain calm, and eventually find solutions. Remind yourself that the sensations that you feel are magnified. Just like in a horror movie, the knife is on the kitchen counter, but it does not mean that you will be stabbed with it. Being mindful is to know that you don’t have to solve everything nor to change it at once.

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Art by Alex Gross

How to let go

The body

  • Observe your hurtful and discouraging thoughts
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing and imagine that the frustrating emotion flows away with your exhalation

Emotions and feelings

  • Instead of ruminating on the story and inflating the situation with fear and panic, take it at face value
  • Sometimes it is best to engage with the negative thoughts and to confront them with counter argument
  • Know that if something doesn’t go your way is not the end of the world, not necessarily other bad things will continue to happen
  • Set an intention to realize the root cause of the negative thoughts, tension and frustrations
  • Journalling your feelings is helpful and sometimes physical venting like yelling off into a pillow works
  • Recognize that you have a choice to bid farewell to the hurt
  • Create peaceful images to call to mind as a support system
  • Realize that you are not in the centre of the universe
  • In frustration ask yourself is this who you really are? Then align yourself with your peaceful and intelligent self

When you cultivate peace in your attitude towards life, you are diffusing fear. Instead of kicking yourself and others over mistakes, past hurts or old injustices, learn to detach and let go of the anxiety that is brewing from the fear, criticism or offence.  It is satisfying to expose with rage the wrongdoers, vicious people or storm over unfairness but letting go with compassion and forgiveness makes you stronger. The idea is not to ignore nor to tolerate or to yield to unjust but to see things as they are! Your strength to analyze the situation with its risks and being able to shut off the anxieties which cripple and bring you to a depressive mood gives you the control over your emotions and allows you to accumulate the best possible outcome.

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Art by Merelle Fabien

For further information refer to “The Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Feature image by Michael Bergt