Archive for the ‘Making Life Changes’ Category

The Power of Music

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Music is very powerful.  The benefits of listening to music include:

  1. Improved physical health, including pain relief and better sleep.
  2. Enhanced intelligence and learning.
  3. Improved physical performance.
  4. Improved productivity.
  5. Improved memory.
  6. Improved concentration and attention.
  7. Reduction of stress.
  8. Improved mood.

Inspiring music and lyrics can motivate us to reach our personal and professional goals.  Music can also:

  1. Help ease the way through life’s transitions. 
  2. Comfort us in our grief.
  3. Encourage us in the tough times.
  4. Inspire us to have a deeper spiritual connection.
  5. Bring back wonderful memories.
  6. Help us to feel lighter and more joyful.
  7. Help us to lose ourselves in the moment.
  8. Help us to feel connected to others.

So whether you dust off your old albums or listen to music online, start listening to your favorite tunes to help you get through your day.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along by Louis Armstrong
  2. Are You Havin’ Any Fun? by Tony Bennett and Elvis Costello
  3. A Beautiful Morning by the Rascals
  4. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
  5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

Stuck in a Rut Part 2

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  1. In what area(s) of my life do I feel stuck?  You might feel stuck in one or more areas, including job/career, financial situation, relationships, health, home, or family responsibilities.  Or perhaps everything looks good on the outside, but you still feel like something is missing on the inside.  It’s difficult to make life changes if you don’t know what you want, so take some time and figure it out.   
  2. What feeling is missing in those areas?   Perhaps you are missing a feeling of security, safety, freedom, self-esteem, self-confidence, appreciation, love, variety, adventure, fun, connectedness, or a sense of purpose.   Sometimes when people feel stuck in a rut, they might think it’s necessary to make a big change.  But when you identify what you’re missing, you may realize that you just need to make a little change in order to get out of your rut.  
  3. What am I doing that is filling a void?  If you can recognize that you are overeating, drinking, self-medicating, shopping, or zoning out with the TV or computer to fill a void in your life, then you can take steps to replace those habits with actions that will move you in the right direction.
  4. What actions can I take to get out of my rut?  Do you need something big like getting a new job, changing careers, or moving?  Or could you feel better by doing something as simple as learning a new skill, trying a new hobby, or taking a vacation?
  5. Is my stuck in a rut feeling based on life circumstances that are under my control?  It can be especially difficult if you are dealing with a situation over which you have no control.  You might not be able to change your life circumstances, but these are the times that often lead to personal or spiritual growth.
  6. Am I really ready for change?  If your life changed for the better, are you ready for it?  If not, what do you need to do to get ready? 

Stuck in a Rut

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I’ve been watching stories about the winter storms on TV lately.  Lots of people don’t know how to deal with driving on ice or snow.  They slip and slide out of control or they end up stuck.  I read some tips on weather.com for helping drivers when they are stuck in the snow that I thought would help people who are stuck in a rut in their lives.

  1. Don’t spin your wheels.  This will only dig you in deeper.  This is true in life as well.  It’s easy to look at someone else’s life and think “Why do they keep doing the same thing over and over?  Why don’t they do something different?”  As a result of our own life experiences, we tend to create patterns in our lives that are hard to break.  So when you’re stuck in a rut, don’t spin your wheels.  Try something different. 
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.  To get out of your rut, make a change.  Change the way you look at your situation.  Change your thoughts, your words, and your  actions.  Getting your obstacles out of the way makes getting out of the rut so much easier.   
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.  What  action do you need to take in your life?  You might feel like you need a big push to get out of your rut, but sometimes a light touch will do the trick.  Easy does it. 
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.  If turning your wheels didn’t work, maybe you need a tool to help clear your path.  Get coaching or counseling,  talk to a minister or a trusted friend, or use self-help or spiritual materials to help you out.       
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel, or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.  Without traction, you have no control over your car.  So it is with your life. You need to get a grip so that you can get and maintain control.   
  6. Try rocking the vehicle.  (Check your owner’s manual first – it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.)  Shift from forward to reverse, and back again.  Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.  Sometimes shaking things up will get you out of your rut and sometimes it can hurt you.  Trust your gut instinct, your inner manual, to let you know whether to make a big change or not.  If you do decide to make some changes, go easy at first.  You’ll be out of that rut soon enough. 

 

Beat the Winter Blahs

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

This has been a long, cold winter for much of the country.  For those people who live where they are getting lots of cold weather, snow, and ice,  I know many people are getting “cabin fever”.  It’s really hard to be focused on your goals, especially those of weight loss and healthier living when you’re just trying to get through another day.  I thought this was a good time to review some suggestions that might just help you get through this winter with your resolutions still intact.

Identify and Avoid Triggers. What triggers your old patterns?  Look at these common triggers and see which ones you have.  Try some of the suggestions and see if they help.

1. Sensory triggers can be anything you see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. Have you always resorted to eating lots of sweets to boost your energy level and mood?  Seeing food ads on TV or going to Super Bowl parties with lots of high fat foods and sugary drinks are just some of the sensory triggers that are happening at this time of year.  Eating smaller meals and a combination of healthy protein/complex carbohydrates/fat before you head to a party really does help control those triggers.

2. Emotional triggers relate to your emotional state. When the days are short and the sky is cloudy, many people have a severe dip in serotonin.  A lack of this neurotransmitter is related to a variety of symptoms; including moodiness, sleep problems, carbohydrate cravings, memory, etc.  To help with these symptoms, get outside for a little while on days when the sun is out, exercise a little every day, (as listed above) eat smaller meals and a combination of healthy protein/carbohydrates/fat, listen to music that makes you happy, make yourself get out of the house and socialize, and so on.  Have a fun “Beat the Winter Blahs” party.  Turn up the thermostat, make your guests wear summer clothing, fix some summer foods like grilled chicken and fruit plates, and for one night forget what time of year it is.

3. Other triggers, such as being tired, can derail your healthy goals. You may be a night owl and be dragging when morning comes.  Try to get to bed at the same time every night.  Attach a light switch timer to your bedside lamp and set it just as you would your alarm.  If you don’t want to awaken to a bright light, you can use a 3 way bulb and set it at a low setting.  For those willing to spend a little money, try a dusk/dawn simulator.  This is intended to awaken you gradually just as the rising sun would.  If you’re interested in light therapy, you should talk with your doctor about the use of a light box, especially if you have severe depression, bipolar disorder, and so on.  Light therapy is a medically approved treatment for some forms of depression, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone.  I checked out the Sunbox Company’s website and they are having a wintertime blues special, so it’s a good time if you’re looking to buy a lightbox.  Besides cutting back on sugar, consider cutting back on caffeine as well.   Frequent use of caffeine can lead to tolerance of it’s many effects.  At high doses, caffeine can cause nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms.

Don’t forget that the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, didn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, so that’s supposed to mean an early spring.  In the meantime, go watch “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.  It’s a funny movie and that should lift your spirits a little.

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.

New Year Resolutions

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Well, here it is again.  The end of a year and the beginning of a new year.  Personally, I don’t think January 1st is the ideal time to stop a bad habit or start new healthy habits.  Everyone is exhausted from a busy holiday season, the days are short, it’s cold, and our energy levels are low.   I think spring would be more fitting to embark on an exercise program or to give up sweets. 

However, it’s never a good idea to put off healthy changes.  I also like the idea of new beginnings and a new year is a new beginning.  So I’ve decided to start talking about changes; that is, how to best make a plan, implement the plan, and follow through on the plan so that the change becomes a life long habit.  

If you’re reading my blog, you’re probably looking to make some change in your life.  So whether your goal is to stop smoking, lose weight, change careers, improve relationships, and so on, my intention is to give you practical tools and help for making these changes possible.  Making a change in your life may look simple, but it’s almost never easy.  In the coming days, weeks, and months, I want to break down this process so that success is possible.

If you’re ready to make a change, I suggest you start with taking an inventory.  There are various ways to do this, but I like my clients to start with a simple list.  Use the following life areas to start your list.  Think about your life as it is.  Do you like things as they are?  If not, what do you want to be different?  How do you want it to be different?  Do you want more of something, less of something, or a complete change?  If you already know what you want, you can be specific in writing your list.  However, if you don’t know what you want, don’t worry about it.  This is just a place to get started.  

  1. Health (weight, exercise, illness or health condition, etc.)
  2. Financial (income, savings, debt, budgeting, etc.)
  3. Work (job/career, education for career change, starting a business, etc.)
  4. Relationships (family, friends, love, coworkers, etc.)
  5. Home (own or rent, moving, remodeling, possessions, etc.)
  6. Travel (places to visit, frequency of travel, etc.)
  7. Self-expression (hobbies, interests, leisure activities, personal growth, etc.)
  8. Spiritual (church affiliations, personal spiritual growth, finding life purpose, etc.) 
  9. Contribution (community service, volunteerism, etc.)
  10. Other (anything else that got missed)

Best wishes and Happy New Year!