Archive for January, 2011

Overcoming Obstacles

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

I remember watching Oprah a few years ago and being inspired by a guest who talked about how she overcame obstacles to achieve her life’s dreams.  This woman was a pilot, an Olympic athlete, a wife and mother.  She said that when you meet an obstacle in your life, you find a way over it, under it, around it, or through it.  Well, although I liked those inspirational words, I wondered what that really meant.  Then she went on to explain in detail just how she was able to reach each and every goal that she set out for herself.    

Two simple, but powerful, things this guest said stuck with me.  She wrote down her goals and she wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Although everyone has their own unique goals and obstacles to those goals, there are some things that I think we all can do to overcome obstacles that block us from getting what we want in life.

1. Write down your goals.  Break those broad goals down into specific, measurable objectives.  Then write the tasks needed to obtain those objectives.  If your goal is better health, then one objective might be to get 8 hours of sleep.  If you tend to stay up late, then a task might be to turn off the TV and computer a hour before bedtime.   

2.  Prioritize your goals.  If you want to change several major areas of your life, you may become overwhelmed and give up.  Decide which goals are the most important and start with one or two goals.  Sometimes it’s good to start with a goal that’s easy to achieve just to get you going in the right direction. 

3.  Don’t take no for an answer.  This doesn’t mean that you can always get everything you want when you want it.  It does mean, if you are really committed to a goal, then you will do whatever it takes to reach that goal.  This could require a lot of little steps or a giant leap of faith.    

4. Keep track of your progress.  Tracking your progress will keep your progress on track.  Keep a journal, make a chart, or use a calendar.  Tracking your progress daily will keep you focused on your goal and will make you accountable.

5. Get back on track after a setback.  Setbacks in life happen.  Don’t have an all or nothing mentality, especially when it comes to breaking a habit.  Just as a habit usually develops over time, so it takes time to break that habit.  Don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up.  Let it go and get back on track.

Tools for Making Your Resolutions a Reality Part 2

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

This is part 2 of tools for making your resolutions a reality.  Last week I covered EMDR for trauma and also hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and guided imagery for common resolutions such as weight loss and to stop smoking.  This week I want to talk about a few more techniques to help with common resolutions.

  1. Affirmations are statements that declare that something is true.  They are used to support personal goals and are usually positive statements that are made in the present tense.  An example for good health or weight loss could be “I enjoy eating healthy and nutritious food”.   Sometimes guided imagery CD’s also include a track of affirmations.  While hypnosis and guided imagery CD’s are not to be used while driving or doing any activity that requires concentration, affirmation CD’s can be used at any time. 
  2. Subliminal messages can also be found on CD’s.  These auditory messages are played below an individual’s conscious perception.  On subliminal CD’s, the idea is that you will  consciously hear soft music or the sound of ocean waves while at the same time you will subconsciously hear affirmations.  This would make it more useful for listening throughout the day while doing other activites.  However, in my experience, while subliminal messages may have a temporary effect on thoughts and behavior, it does not appear that subliminal messages have any long term effect on making lasting behavioral changes.   
  3. Meditation is a  practice which calms the body/mind.  It is often used to help with a variety of health related issues including, but not limited to, stress management and pain reduction.  There are many ways to meditate, for example, focusing on a word or phrase, your breathing, a flower, repeating a prayer, and so on.  It can be done while sitting still or walking.  Some people find being in or near water to be conducive while meditating.

Although this is not an inclusive list, these are a few of the tools and techniques that I am familiar with and have found helpful in changing behavior patterns through the alignment of the conscious and the subconscious mind.  It has been my experience that people have their own preferences in using these tools, for example, some people like guided imagery while others prefer affirmations.  Some of the techniques overlap, such as the inclusion of guided imagery in a hypnotic script or while using guided imagery, you may or may not be in a hypnotic trance.   However, I find that the more that you can quiet the chatter of your conscious mind, the more effective a technique will be. 

As far as CD’s go, my personal favorites are Health Journeys (CD’s by Belleruth Naparstek), Effective Learning Systems (CD’s by Bob Griswold) and Brain Sync (CD’s by Kelly Howell which require stereo headphones).  I like their voices, their techniques, and their scripts.  However, that being said, there are some individual CD’s that I don’t particularly care for and that is where individual preference comes in.  I’ve recommended CD’s, especially Belleruth’s CD’s, to clients, family, and friends for help with sleep, pain management, various health issues, weight loss, etc.  I’ve gotten mainly positive feedback, but there are those individuals who don’t care for these CD’s.  It is really a matter of individual taste, so if you’re interested, check them out online where you can listen to some samples before you spend the money on them. 

Next week, more steps to making life changes.

How to Make Your Resolutions a Reality

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

After you have identified the life changes you want to make, the next step to focus on is how to make these resolutions a reality.  Whether your goals include a healthier lifestyle, changing job/careers, starting a business, getting out of debt, or having happier relationships, here are a few tips:

  1. Be ready to make a change.  By being ready, I mean look at your beliefs, feelings, and behaviors from an objective point of view and be willing to take whatever steps are necessary for change. 
  2. Take whatever action is necessary.  This requires going beyond just being willing.  This might be as simple as talking to your doctor about starting an exercise program or as complicated as making major changes in your lifestyle.  
  3. Eliminate self-sabotage.  First, you must consciously believe that your goal is possible.  Don’t make self-defeating statements such as ”I’m resistant to change”.  Yes, I actually had a client who continually said that and until she changed that conscious belief, she didn’t make any changes.  Replace all self-defeating statements with statements that sound true to you.  At first, this might be something like “I’m willing to change”.  You can then progress to more affirming statements such as “I am changing”.  Secondly, your conscious and subconscious mind must be in agreement in order to make a change.  If you have a conscious desire to attain a particular goal, but have subconscious beliefs that are in conflict with your goal, then you are going to hit  roadblocks.  For example, let’s say you have a conscious desire to go to college and get a degree, but you also have a subconscious belief that you’re not smart enough to go to college, then you will likely sabotage your efforts and probably not even know what happened. 
  4. Use tools to align your conscious and subconscious mind.  There are many different ways that this can be accomplished.  Some techniques, such as hynotherapy or EMDR, require the assistance of a trained professional.  Some tools, such as self-hypnosis, subliminal messages, guided imagery, and affirmations, can either be learned through books or through the use of CDs.  Prayer and meditation are powerful spiritual practices which anyone can do on their own.  Our subconscious minds are constantly exposed to new input, so it is important to use some form of daily meditation to keep our conscious and subconscious mind in alignment.  Because these tools are so important, I will discuss them in more detail in a future post.
  5. Take small steps.  Little steps may not seem like much, but they add up and result in big changes.  One of my favorite quotes from Robert Schuller is “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch.  Yard by yard, life is hard”. 
  6. Start each day with a clean slate.  Forget about any failures of the past, whether they occurred yesterday or ten years ago.  Keep your thoughts focused on the present moment.  “I start each day with a clean slate” is a great affirmation to say every morning. 
  7. Replace to erase.  Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “erase and replace” in relationship to changing habits.  Yet I find it works better to focus on replacing (with a new healthy habit) first and then the erasing (of the old habit) is much easier.  Either way you look at it, if you don’t replace the unhealthy habit with a healthy habit,  the unhealthy one will come back or be replaced by another unhealthy habit. 
  8. Be consistent, yet flexible.  What I mean by this is to be consistent with focusing on your goals in thoughts, words, and action.  However, life has a way of throwing obstacles in our path.  If this happens, be flexible.  Your goal might be to walk for two miles every day at 7am, but all kinds of things can happen to mess up your plans.  So if bad weather hits and you’re unable to walk outside, if you’re flexible, you’ll be able to come up with an alternate plan.