Over the last few months, I have been working more and more with stressed out people. I have been stunned at the age range to be honest as they have ranged from 10 – 80 years old.
I began to notice the increase early this year when many people started being made redundant in the Oil and Gas Industry in Aberdeen, where I am based. The downturn has created a huge amount of uncertainty which has lead to people feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and depressed and the knock on effects are quite significant. Many of my clients this year, on top of the initial stress have become insomniacs, they have either lost or gained large amounts of weight, have unexplained aches and pains, erratic mood swings, failed relationships…the list goes on.
This turns into a vicious circle, because the initial cause of the stress is still there and then the additional physical, mental and emotional symptoms add more stress into the mix and obviously compound the whole situation.
I have also recently started working with schools in Aberdeenshire running Stress Perception Workshops for both staff and pupils. It seems that the Curriculum for Excellence is creating and excellently high level of stress for all concerned and some pupils are becoming more and more stressed, depressed, suicidal and some resorting to self harming.
The self harming has also become something of a trend and there is a certain element of peer pressure to conform, and as you can imagine, this pressure is highly stressful for someone who really has no desire to self harm in the first place, yet in order to fit in they feel they have to run with the herd. This level of stress is extremely detrimental to the pupils ability to focus, concentrate, learn and absorb in formation and to remember it, this then adds more stress because they either feel they can’t pass they exams or they actually fail them. Pressure upon pressure upon pressure, until they break.
So after doing much reading, I have written this post today that I hope will help some of you to some degree or other and/or, perhaps help you help someone else.
The stress hormone, cortisol, is a sneaky, insidious little bugger that creeps up on you. Even low levels over a long period of time can have hugely detrimental affects on your entire system of body and mind. Scientists have known for years that increased cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… and the list is significantly longer.
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels are also responsible for an increased risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Recently two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.
You can find research papers here:
Our body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his findings in a short seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).
Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of this general adaption syndrome. As soon as our fight or flight alarm system signals our body to release cortisol, your body becomes mobilised and ready for action, however, there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.
Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is exciting, invigorating and often linked with an achievable goal. Cortisol returns to normal when we’ve completed the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide any outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology, which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers, is actually sabotaging our own bodies and minds in this sedentary, technology oriented age. So what can we do to put the pin back in this socially engineered hand grenade?
Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle choices you can make that will help you to reduce your stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are some tips to help you reduce your cortisol levels:
1. Regular Exercise: Martial arts and any martial arts based exercise classes, boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are fantastic ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without beating the crap out of anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol. A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long term.
I recommend a short burst of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. There are an abundance of training methods under this banner and you can find a host of them on Youtube. This gets your heart rate up high, gives minimal rest and puts your body and mind under pressure. The pay off is that your body also releases endorphins which make you feel good, so this is a form of Eustress (good stress) and is highly beneficial for you both physically and mentally.
Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude, which will reduce your cortisol levels. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.
If your schedule is too hectic to squeeze in a continuous exercise session, you can build up the same benefits by breaking daily activity into smaller doses. A simple way to guarantee regular activity is to build your normal routine activity into your daily exercise routine. Where possible start riding a bike to work, walking to the shops and walk at lunchtime, this also gets you out of the office and away from your desk and will get you thinking about other things instead of work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift.If you normally eat your lunch at your desk, maybe you could go to the gym at lunchtime and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards instead. All these things will add up and help you to reduce your cortisol levels throughout the day.
2. Mindfulness and Self Hypnosis: Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax, calm down and slow down.
Setting aside 5-15 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or self hypnosis will develop a sense of calm throughout your nervous system, mind, and brain. There are many different types of meditation. “Meditating” doesn’t have to be a sacred or tree huggey experience. I’m often asked as to specifically what kind of meditation or self hypnosis do I use and how do I do it/use it. There are so many techniques/methods and to be honest it is best to explore and find what works for you and then refine it and make it your own. I suggest that you do more research, and fine-tune a daily meditation/self hypnosis routine that fits your schedule and personality.
3. Social Connectivity: Two studies have been published in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.
Follow the link here to find theses papers and many more:
A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins established that elevated levels of cortisol in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They discovered that these changes in young adulthood, which is a crucial time for brain development, could cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it. These findings, reported in the January 2013 journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.
Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescence in human teens. They found that isolating mice known to have a genetic predisposition for mental illness during their adolescence triggered ‘abnormal behaviours’ that continued even when returned to the group. They found that the effects of adolescent isolation lasted into the equivalent of mouse adulthood.
“We have discovered a mechanism for how environmental factors, such as stress hormones, can affect the brain’s physiology and bring about mental illness,” says Sawa, the study leader. “We’ve shown in mice that stress in adolescence can affect the expression of a gene that codes for a key neurotransmitter related to mental function and psychiatric illness. While many genes are believed to be involved in the development of mental illness, my gut feeling is environmental factors are critically important to the process.”
To shed light on how and why some mice got better, Sawa and his team studied the link between cortisol and the release of dopamine. Sawa says the new study suggests that we need to think about better preventative care for teenagers who have mental illness in their families, including efforts to protect them from social stressors, such as neglect. Meanwhile, by understanding the flood of events that occurs when cortisol levels are elevated, researchers may be able to develop new compounds to target tough-to-treat psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects.
In another study, published on January 18, 2013 in the journal Science researchers from France revealed that mice who were subjected to aggression, by specific mice bred to be ‘bullies’ released cortisol which triggered a response that led to social aversion to all other mice. The exact cascade of neurobiological changes was complex but also involved dopamine. The researchers found that if they blocked the cortisol receptors that the ‘bullied’ mice became more resilient and no longer avoided their fellow creatures.
Close knit human bonds, whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner, are vital for your physical and mental health at any age. Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.
The “tend-and-befriend” response is the exact opposite to “fight-or-flight”. The “tend-and-befriend” response increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones whenever you can, however, even phone calls and Facebook can reduce cortisol if they foster a feeling of genuine connectivity.
4. Have Fun and Laugh Often: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Dr. William Fry is an American psychiatrist who has been studying the benefits of laughter for the past 30 years and has found links to laughter and lowered levels of stress hormones. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels. Watch your favourite comedy movie, favourite comedian or anything on Youtube for example that makes you laugh, feel good and happy, as this will begin to reduce your cortisol levels.
5. Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.
6. Quality Nutrition: What we eat and the quality of that food is important when life is good and we’re happy and content. When life throws a curve ball at you and you’re stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, it is even more important to eat high quality nutrition.
Society has change much in recent years and life and work is becoming faster paced, we often look for the quick, easy and convenient option for food which is not necessarily the best option. So, to combat this, it is beneficial for you to look at high quality nutritional supplements that help to keep the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at bay. When you feel good on the inside it makes you much more capable of dealing with the stresses of the outside world and one of the downsides of eating too much wheat, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol etc, is that it puts your body’s PH out of balance and leads you into an acidic state. When your body is too acidic it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, virus, fungus etc in your gut and causes joint pain and inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also our gut becomes unable to fully and efficiently absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, which further runs down our immune system and metabolism.
When you redress that balance and return it to a slightly alkaline state, as you can see in the image below, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium that allows our gut to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively which means we get everything we need to stay in the optimum state of health.
The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for all of us and this creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on the economy. So, if we all work individually, and together, to reduce cortisol our levels we will all benefit and we will reduce the amount of stress hormones flowing around in our society and in individual lives.
In short, when we feel socially connected, safe, and self-reliant it reduces our cortisol levels. I hope the top tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your own levels of stress hormone and help you to help your friends, family work colleagues and perhaps even some strangers to reduce theirs and feel happier and healthier.
Human beings are different from the rest of the animals on our planets in so many ways, and, one significant difference is that we have, and kind of understand, the difference between our conscious and unconscious minds.
Your conscious mind helps you live a happy and healthy life. You really wouldn’t be able to survive without it. Sigmund Freud is famed for his use the idea of the iceberg to distinguish the conscious mind from the unconscious mind and it is one model that makes it very easy to explain.
The “tip” of the iceberg that extends above the water represents the conscious thinking mind. This part of your mind is the objective or thinking mind. It only holds one thought at a time. It also identifies information, and processes it through the senses or through sight, sound, smell, touch or taste.
This part of your mind is constantly observing, matching patterns and categorising what is going on around you. The unconscious mind, which is the part of the iceberg below the water, represents everything else – which is a hell of a lot.
Even though the conscious mind helps you as you go through your day, it can also hold you back by keeping you stuck in unhealthy patterns. Learning how to break through these limitations is critical when using self-hypnosis because the conscious mind can interfere with all your good work.
Preventing Conscious Interference
Just for example you decide to plant flowers in your garden. There are a several ways you can go about it. You could research different seeds and figure out the best ones to plant, and then even add some fertiliser into your soil if it’s lacking nutrients for the plants.
Now, let’s look at different approach you could take. After following all of the steps above, you chose to go out into the garden everyday and dig up the seeds to check on their progress. Every time you did this, you would reassure yourself that everything was going to plan. However, as you can see, your constant interference actually did more harm than good, because if you took this approach, your garden would never progress.
The same thing that happens when you overthink something. This is your conscious mind interfering. If you want your mental garden to thrive and prosper, you need to leave it alone so it has space and time to grow.
The same thing applies when using self-hypnosis. In a sense you are placing an order just like you would at a restaurant. If you ever worked for someone who micro-managed you, how much work actually gets done as a result of them constantly interrupting and sing for progress checks all the time, wanting to review what you’ve done and constantly adding to your workload because they want to make changes and add other things in. It’s a bloody nightmare, frustrating and a complete waste of time and effort.
When you give your mind an order and constantly worry about how the order will be fulfilled, you are in a sense doing the same thing, you’re micro-managing yourself. If you find yourself doing this, there are some steps you can take to counteract this…
1. Keep Your Conscious Mind Busy
When you do keep your conscious mind busy, it can’t interfere as much. What you need to do is find other things to get involved in, this way your conscious mind is focused elsewhere and not on the problem.
If you have time, go for a walk or get stuck into a different task; this allows you to let it go and allow the unconscious mind to work its magic.
2. Stay Focused and Engaged
It’s important to trust your unconscious, and yes I know that it can be frustrating “waiting” for the unconscious mind to work its magic. If you find yourself in this little cycle, and you decide to try a different approach before the first method has finished, you are actually disengaging from the process which keeps leading you further from your goal.
The key is to keep yourself engaged, without being too engaged.
3. Utilise Ancient Chinese Secrets
The Chinese philosophy Taoism is based on the idea of trusting your inner nature and letting your unconscious mind do its work. This approach allows the conscious mind to sit back and appreciate things, setting the scene and then letting events play out as they will.
I appreciate that this may be easier said than done at times, however, here are few tips to help explain this…
Act without acting
This is also known as doing without doing or “Wei Wu Wei”. This might be a tad confusing at first, because it may be hard to imagine doing something without really doing it. When you hand the responsibility over to your unconscious mind, you are trusting that it knows how to do its job.
Know without knowing
This is also known as “Pu.” In the Tao philosophy, there is a saying that goes:
“The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao.”
What this means is that if your intellect can grasp it, feel it away and put it into a neat and tidy box, then you have probably missed the entire point.
The Four Taoist Stages
The Pre-Hypnotic Suggestion
The Big Drift
Pre-hypnotic suggestions: These generally involve positive affirmations, visualisations and self motivational talk. Affirmations are statements that emulate the state of mind or condition you want to be in, and they are always set in the present tense. Affirmations can be incredibly effective and they are easy to create and use.
Hypnotic questions: These are sometimes called afformations, are also a great way to keep the conscious mind busy. You can say statements like:
“How quickly am I mastering the power of self-hypnosis?”
“Why is it that I am such a master of self-hypnosis?”
These are simple to create and by saying them, it actually gives your mind something to answer.
Emotional streaming or Emo-streaming: This is similar to the principle of hypnotic questions, except it’s based on emotions and moods. For those who find themselves getting stuck on the content of the goal, emo-streaming works well.
For example, imagine yourself at a certain point in the future, say a year or so down the road. Take yourself there in your mind and ask yourself how you would be feeling having already achieved your goal. Avoid “thinking” and focus on “feeling” instead.
You can even imagine yourself going way beyond that goal, imagining how you feel having achieved that all-important milestone.
The Big Drift: This involves allowing your mind to become a casual observer, noticing the responses that are happening, without making any judgments. In other words, you’re just allowing things to happen in their own time and way.
Trusting in the process of the unconscious mind is what this is all about. The Big Drift allows you to create a space in your mind where new possibilities can appear.
7 stages of the Big Drift
Review your purpose or problem
Choose a behavior or action
Get on with your life!
All of these techniques work through the process of distraction. In the Big Drift, you start by preparing yourself by raising your hands up infant of your face, palms facing you and looking at your hands as if they weren’t really your hands. In step two allow oner arm to lower automatically, while you review your life lessons.
Once your arm reaches your lap, you can then review your problem or purpose for self-hypnosis. Step four involves allowing your second arm to descend while you review the myriad of possibilities.
The next step involves you simply choosing for yourself a new behavioural pattern. Step six involves closing your eyes, if you haven’t already done so and integrating all of the steps together.
Step seven is all about learning how to “let go” and learning how to get on with your life. Focusing on something too intently only slows the process down; so there is no need to think too much about your issue once you finish your session.
In order to listen to your unconscious mind, you need to begin tuning into your intuition and paying attention to your gut feelings about whatever is bothering you. The messages of the unconscious can be subtle, but other times they may metaphorically slap you in the face.
When you use self-hypnosis you really have no idea how your unconscious mind will present the opportunity or change to you. Using these methods allows you to open up your mind to a host of new possibilities – possibilities that your conscious mind could never come up with!
A top tip is not to take self-hypnosis or yourself too seriously, it’s meant to be a fun process. You can take as many or as few of these tips as you want, because only you know what works for you and you will only really find out what works for you when you play around with them all and practice with these techniques. This will enable you to find the combination that works best for you. With your conscious mind out of the way – anything is possible!
You need your conscious mind to help you make important decisions throughout your day. Without it, you could not function. Always keep in mind though that your unconscious mind is vastly larger than your conscious thinking mind. Using the idea of the iceberg once again, you can clearly see that your unconscious mind plays a huge role in your life.
Programming your unconscious mind is easy, once you decide what you want to work on. The truth of the matter is that many problems you have can be solved using self-hypnosis because your unconscious mind is quite brilliant and it can help you achieve any goal.
The trick is getting your conscious mind out of the way and these techniques can help you do exactly that.
One Final Word
Obviously I am a firm believer in what we can achieve when we learn to access and harness the power of our unconscious minds. However, sometimes we need a little outside assistance because when we are the root of our own problem/s, it can be extremely difficult to solve it from inside our own minds. If this is the case for you, then I strongly recommend that you do your homework and find yourself a Hypnotherapist in your area that you feel comfortable working with and use their knowledge and experience to help you resolve your problem/s and make the changes you want and need to make.
Whatever path you choose, I wish you every success and much happiness.
Adapted from a post by the Hypnosis Training Academy
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be designing something completely new and I’d like to ask you what you really want to change about your life.
I’d really appreciate it if you could take just a few minutes to tell me what is your single biggest challenge you’re struggling with in your life right now, it would mean the world to me AND even more importantly I’ll be able to use that information to create webinars and blog posts around topics you want to know more about.
I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and thank you if you choose to take the survey as it may help a whole load of other people. How great a start to the week would that be 🙂
Have a fantastic week
I run Lifestyle Coaching Groups both face to face and online which begin with an in-depth 90 Day program to get you on the right track. The programme works in groups of 10 and each new group does not start until the 10th person joins, so I run a waiting list to keep track of who’s in which group and start dates.
90 Day Programme includes the following:
The cost of this 90 Day Programme is normally £1,995, however, for the next 30 days, you can sign up and receive all this for just the cost of your 90 days worth of 100% Natural health Supplements, which is a small investment of £445 towards changing your life. The best bit is that you don’t pay out £445 in one go, there is an initial cost of £195 then it’s £125 per month for the next 2 months, so this makes it much easier to budget for it. It actually works out to £4.94 a day, so for less than £5 per day over the 90 days, that’s way less than you would pay for coffee and sandwich etc at lunchtime alone, you get a jam packed 90 days of coaching and learning.
And, I am not even charging for my time in this offer, so you are saving another £1,550 by taking advantage of this right now and this is not going to last forever, only 30 days.
Just think how much you can learn in 90 days and how many positive changes you can make to set you up for achieving the personal health and fitness goals that you haven’t been able to tick off your list, yet.
If you would like to discuss any of this with me prior to getting started and to book your place in the next group, you can email me on: email@example.com
The 30 day offer starts 1st May and will expire on the 30th May 2015, after that the programme reverts to the full price of £1,995, so take advantage of it while you can at the super low price of £445 for everything listed above.
So remember, it’s only a £195 first payment for month 1 then, £125 per month for the remaining two months for everything in the 90 Day Programme, which, to remind you is:
This is a fantastic offer packed absolutely full of high quality, invaluable content, plus a few hidden extras that will be added as the programme progresses.
If you want to discuss anything with me feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I am planning ahead and I wanted to let you all know that we will be running a summer 10 Day Fast Track NLP Practitioner in Aberdeen.
The dates are:
Part 1: 20 – 24 July
Part 2: 27 – 31 July
Normal price is £2,395 + VAT
Early bird discount will be in three stages.
Stage 1: 30% from today until 31st May
Stage 2: 20% from 1st – 30th June
Stage 3: 10% from 1st – 12th July
The course requires a quite a bit of pre-study, so the earlier you book your place the more time you will have to prepare.
Pre-study consists of listening to audio tracks that accompany the manual which you will need to listen to at least twice with the manual in order to learn as much as possible. There is then a question paper to assess your learning, this must be passed before acceptance into the course, which is why we recommend booking well in advance.
A deposit of £500 secures your place and the balance must be paid 1 week prior to the course start date.
I appreciate that this can be a big outlay in one go, as such we offer the option to pay in instalments, if you choose this option, please call to discuss and arrange.
If you would like us to email you a course brochure, email me at:
Or call on: 01224 443003
I have been listening to a lot of people over the last couple of months who are fed up with their current jobs and where they currently are on their lives, they’re not as happy and content as they expected to be.
So, I have created a brand new 1 day course called ‘Life Design’, which is all about helping you discover what is really important to you, what you really want to be doing with your life both personally and professionally. During this day you will work out your personal and professional values and the beliefs that support them, set goals that enable you to fulfil them and take you to exactly where you want to be, instead of it being just a distant wish.
The venue is being secured at the moment and the cost for this workshop is £125 per person which includes lunch all refreshments and course notes.
So, to start designing the life you want, all you have to do to book your place and to ask any questions email me on email@example.com
My last post ended on the subject of choice, you have plenty in front of you and some of those in the past may have been considered as reasons for not doing things that help you achieve your goals. In truth, they’re not reasons, they are excuses. For one reason or another you chose a goal, or were given a goal that you did not believe in 100%, it wasn’t something that you were prepared to work hard to get or have, there wasn’t enough of a fire in your belly.
It’s actually really quite simple, your choice, you can either work to achieve your goals or you can stay as you are no keep making excuses as to why you can’t or won’t be able to achieve them. Whatever you decide is ultimately your choice and it’s you that has to live with that decision not me. What you must understand is that there is no third option and as Yoda said, “There is no try, only do.”
When you make the decision to work towards your goals, you will find that you discover a huge amount about yourself and for a large proportion of people that’s going to be quite a scary prospect, yet it can be one of the most significant times in your life as you discover more of who you truly are and what you’re capable of.
As part of this process you are going to experience a huge amount of change and despite every single person on this planet being familiar with change, there are still so many who are afraid of it and sometimes it’s inevitability. Change affects us on a daily basis whether we look for it or not and whether we like it or not and it can overwhelm our day if we approach it in the wrong way.
So, before you go ahead and make your choice, take some time to figure out the best way for you to accept change. To start with, accepting that everything changes, both good and bad, and when you look hard enough you can see the good and the useful/beneficial in every situation. Next, do everything you can to participate in the changes that happen in your personal and professional life and also in your community. Stop trying to react out of necessity and find ways to embrace the changes, that way you remove the fear of change. It boils down to you taking control of your life instead of letting others control it and dictate your outcomes. It is massively important that it is your actions and intent that influences your outcomes.
As I said at the start, the buck stops with you and you have a really simple choice to make, do or don’t.
You may think that this is putting a lot of pressure on you, and tough shit, that’s the reality of it, it’s just the way it is and you will either work toward what you want or you will make excuses to justify, in your own mind, why you won’t or can’t.
Any one excuse is as good as another so you can pick from a long list, some of which are quite creative, yet they are all still excuses. So now that you know that it’s all your choice is there really much of a choice?
Are you going to choose to work towards what you do want or make excuses to justify staying where you are? Your life of excuses will be pretty much as it is now, it will not be much different, change will continue to happen round you, you will carry on reacting to it out of necessity and your levels of satisfaction and disappointment will be roughly the same as they always have been. Sounds exciting doesn’t it?
Now, how different would it be if you chose to take control of your life by making positive choices about what you do or do not want to do, have to be as opposed to having your life dictated to you?
What would it take for you to make that decision?
What would you have to do?
What would you have to sacrifice?
Well the first thing you would sacrifice is making excuses, that’s not really much of a sacrifice when you think about it, is it?
This is a very logical concept when you think about it. You will either go find what you want or you’ll make crappy excuses and all they do is keep you where you are right now. And, agreeing to do nothing achieves exactly yah same thing, it holds you back from moving on and achieving.
Now we all have a threshold of sorts where we reach a certain number of excuses and then that seals the deal for someone to give up. They can give a long list of excuses yet the bottom line is their intention, desire and ultimately commitment to achieve that goal was not strong enough.
There is a very long list of people throughout history who have made a choice to achieve something that they felt compelled to achieve, something felt very personally, and they made some incredible sacrifices in order to make it happen. Yet day after day, I speak to people who have trouble making a commitment to themselves let alone to anyone or anything else.
Why is this, why do the majority of us make up such crap, weak and pathetic excuses to stay in bed a little longer and not get up and exercise. To eat that junk food because you can always start that diet tomorrow or next week. To take those drugs again because what difference does once more make and I can give up whenever I want to, I’m not addicted?
We delude ourselves, lie to ourselves, limit ourselves, criticise ourselves and demean ourselves time after time. Why do this to ourselves when other people do it to us as well at times? Trust me I know, I’ve done all those things to myself over the years and occasionally I still catch myself doing it and then I have a quiet chat with myself, reframe what’s going on in my head and get myself back on track. I also have a small, select group of friends that help keep me motivated and on the right track.
This is a massively important piece of the puzzle and if you have people you currently consider friends, who are anything but supportive, I’m going to let you into a little secret, they’re not your friends, they are called wankers. True friends will support you even if they think you’re mental for doing what you’re doing, so if you haven’t already, get rid and find people who will support you regardless of what they think about your goals.
Have you ever written down the kinds of excuses you’ve used yourself and the ones you’ve heard from other people. When you put them on paper and read them, they do look and sound a load of crap and much harder to justify, because externalising them takes you outside of the excuses and allows you to see them objectively making it much harder to back them up. Try it, I have a feeling you’ll be quite surprised.
Some of the excuses I’ve heard are:
I haven’t go enough money
I haven’t go enough time
I don’t know how to
There’s too much work involved
I’m not fit enough
I’m not healthy enough
I’m too old
I had a bad childhood
I have one word for all of these and the myriad of other excuses out there. Bullshit!!!
They are not reasons, they are all excuses and there are so many amazing examples of people who have smashed these excuses to pieces and this makes those of you who keep using them look more and more ridiculous. The only person you’re fooling is yourself. Stop bullshitting yourself and be honest with yourself, you either want to do something or you don’t. If you don’t that’s absolutely fine, you don’t have to do it, however, if you do want to do, have or be something and you keep making excuses then you have no one else to blame for your continued failure but yourself. Stop blaming other people, circumstances, the weather and get off your arse, make a few hard choices and commit to something…commit to yourself that you will move your life forwards, make positive changes one small step at time and keep moving forwards.
I have been in that place, making excuses, complaining about not achieving what I wanted, all be it I was a teenager. Then I joined the Royal Marines and I learned even more self discipline and I made a commitment to myself that I would complete training, which I did and I had a great time in my career. That set me up for everything else I have achieved in my life to date.
Now you don’t need to be a Royal Marine to achieve your goals in life, what you do need is a similar mindset. A stubborn, pigheaded desire to win at all costs, to make a plan that is flexible and adaptable, broken down into small manageable chunks, to remove the word excuse from your vocabulary, be solution focused. Once you know there’s a problem there is no need to focus on it, what you need to do is to focus on finding a way to resolve it, that’s a much more productive use of your time and energy.
The essence of this post is about taking responsibility and accountability for your own life, taking the lessons you can learn from your past and using them to create the future of your choice. From this moment on you can take charge of your present and your future and live your life full of positive intent, free from excuses and full of smart choices.
“Life isn’t measured by the quality of your excuses.”
“A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting.” Carlos Castaneda
In my last post, which was on Boxing Day, I talked about reviewing the last year and how much of what you set yourself to achieve came to fruition and to look at why you did or didn’t achieve that and your beliefs around it.
This is a continuation of that theme because throughout January I have had some interesting conversations with clients about this very subject as I helped them to review and plan for this year. It seems that there are certain things that my clients have been lead to believe that are not achievable for them or forbidden, they are not worthy of it. This is obviously complete bullshit and they have been conditioned to believe this by people they know, trust, respect, love even and most probably with the best of intentions. However some may have done this out of jealousy because they don’t want to see them succeed.
In my experience there are two kinds of people, those who do as they are told when something is forbidden and stay away from it, and those who rebel and flip a middle finger at those who say they can’t do it, have it, be it etc. I’m one of the latter and I find it hard to understand why some people chose the first option and limit their lives. Each to their own.
The thing is when things are forbidden, it generally fires off our natural curiosity as to why it’s forbidden, why we can’t have it and it’s been used by religion, politics, education etc for thousands of years to gain control and hold over over us. All this does is undermine the personal and sometimes global significance and validity of your goals and dreams, and no one has the right to do that.
So, what if this thinking is completely wrong and undermining the significance of our happiness, our purpose has the opposite effect. How can denial of our purpose, which has been driven by men and women over the years who were and are, bitter, frustrated individuals who want to control who and how you are through the illusion that you have no control over that be possible?
Since when has self denial made anyone truly happy, what does it really give you on a permanent basis. I agree that there are times when this is actually highly beneficial, however not for the entirety of your life. On a personal front, denial for too long makes me miserable and crave things all the more and this is where balance must be applied, because, short term denial can be a great motivator when applied in the right way for any individual.
The purpose of this post is to help you find ways to make you happier and make changes that you want to make and, it may say things that some people might not like or agree with and that’s ok. This can create interesting discussion and debate which I thoroughly enjoy.
I hope that this post and the ones that follow it will generate in you excitement and perhaps a little guilt. What do I mean by that? Well as I offer you the opportunity to create change for yourself you will also become fully aware of the other option, which is to stay where you are with your life and not change, improve, refine yourself and become better at being you. If you are happy being where, how and who you are for the rest of your days then I am very happy for you. If not then you have a choice or choices to make.
In simple terms, this series of posts are designed to manipulate you, not in some dark occult way, in a way that enables you to see the choices in front of you that you may not have been aware of yet. Now, you may have been a bit concerned over my use of the word manipulate, however, manipulation is at the very heart of all of our relationships.
We are designed to manipulate, we learn to do it as kids in order to get what we want and some people are better at it than others without even trying, they just have a flair for it. You’ve all met people like this before. They persuade and influence with consumate ease and seem to get whatever they want/need in life. In my humble opinion manipulation is neither good nor bad, it is the intention behind that makes it one or the other.
In order to understand and be able to manipulate others, you have to first learn how to manipulate yourself. How good you are at this depends on several factors:
Your personal happiness
Your satisfaction with your own life
Your current perception of your ability to get what you want
This series of posts may for some people be inappropriate, incorrect or whatever other way that can be perceived as negative and that’s fine, they are free to choose whatever perception they want of this. Those of you who read this and find your curiosity and interest perks up, you will find that you are going to enjoy them and get a huge amount from them.
There are no spiritual ideals, abundance, manifestation ideals, wealth awareness or any other such personal development principles or ideals, this is purely about helping you understand how to change the way you think and believe in order to achieve/get what you want out of your life.
I am not decrying any particular spiritual or any other concept here, I have my own and I encourage you to identify and develop your own too.
We all have needs, right from the most basic, essential life needs as brilliantly illustrated by Abraham Maslow and the updated version of his Hierarchy of Needs incorporates transcendence, which is the point where you are now able to help others to the point of self actualisation. When all our basic material needs are met and the nice to haves as well, it makes any path you choose in life much easier. A crucial step is to raise what you want above greed and spiritual enlightenment and make it the absolute essential piece of your journey.
By doing this you will develop a much clearer understanding of yourself as you identify your deepest wants and needs and the obstacles that my be in your way, this includes your own limiting beliefs, fears and excuses as to why you can’t or won’t achieve it. Being completely honest with you, this is going to happen from time to time along the way, and recognising, accepting and preparing for that makes it a much smaller hurdle to step over.
I want you to remember that there will always be people who do not want you to succeed and some of these people depend on your continued ignorance, desperation, poverty and dependence in order to control you. They do not want you to become independent and free thinking. You may think that at this moment in time you are free thinking and independent. Are you really, when you look closely at who and how you are?
Being independent and free thinking makes it much easier to get what you want in your life and this of course potentially puts so called gurus and consultants out of business because they are not needed, however, there are always going to be some people who are unwilling to take responsibility for their lives. They want to be told what they need to do by someone else in order to feel accountable for their actions and that’s ok too, it’s a personal choice.
The main advantage of this is that these consultants etc have an objective view of your life and who and how you currently are. When you learn to do this for yourself it makes life much easier and cheaper and you can learn to do this for yourself.
What you need in order to do this is take a global view of your life, as if you’re looking down on your life from a high point. This allows you to see it from a detached perspective where you can see each facet, your goals, objectives, obstacles etc and join the dots, rearrange, add or takeaway whatever needs to be adjusted. This has a huge impact on your ability to play the long game and be so much more strategic in your goal planning, as opposed to being reactive, it makes you phenomenally proactive and responsible and accountable for everything that you do in your quest to get what you want in your life. Choices and decisions become easier because you can see the big picture, from where you are now to where you want to be and it all makes sense.
The great thing for me is I don’t know you, so there is no emotional connection, and what I write here can be open and honest from my experience and for some of you what I say may seem harsh and get your back up. That’s a good thing because it means I’ve touched a nerve for you to respond that way and you need to take a deeper look at why you responded that way. Maybe I’ve hit on a truth that you have been shying away from, not admitting to yourself, embarrassed by. Whatever it is, identify it, accept it and and commit to changing what needs to be changed so that you can get what you want in your life and stop being the one responsible for holding you back.
It’s so important that you understand yourself on this level, that you “get it”, rather than it be externally driven because then, it’s you that drives the change and this internal motivation for change is far more powerful than you can imagine.
Mind you, you have a choice at every step, you can stop reading this and future posts on this theme and carry on regardless the way you have been, perhaps banging your head against a wall never quite getting where and what you want in your life. It’s entirely up to you.
This brings me nicely to my next point and something I really can’t stand. Victim culture and victim mentality. Are you one of those people that blames everyone and everything else for your situation, never taking responsibility for what happens to you. If you are, being blunt, you need to sort your shit out!! Grow a set and a back bone and start taking control of your life, be at cause not effect in what happens to you. What I mean is be proactive, take responsibility, accept that shit happens and do everything you can to keep yourself on track. Victim culture is rife in modern society and it really pisses me off. I see it in corporate culture on a regular basis, people, are afraid to make decisions in case they do something wrong, managers and leaders aren’t managing or leading because they are perpetuating this cycle by micro managing, they are not developing their teams and allowing them room to grow.
Stop being a Yes man, disagree, argue your point when you feel it’s needed, challenge the status quo otherwise you will not change and neither will society.
Victim mentality is based on the belief that emotions are reactions to circumstances and not choices. Choices give us power and control over our own lives, whereas being reactive leaves us a puppets on a string.
Despite what I have said here, shit does happen and bad things do happen to good people through no fault of their own, and we do need to show compassion for others when this happens. I am always delighted to see on the news or Youtube videos etc that are posted of people being selfless and helping others without being asked, just purely out of their own desire to show compassion for someone else in need. It’s a shame that it usually takes a significant event for this side of humanity to be openly displayed. My aim is to enable people to make better choices in difficult circumstances so that they can respond better when bad things do happen as opposed to reverting to the victim role.
As Human beings we all have a default setting/reaction when shit happens, this is not set in stone for life though, we can learn to change it to a proactive useful response. Transactional Analysis describes two ineffective roles that we will look at now. These are the persecutor and the saviour and both these roles limit our ability to freedom and flexibility of thought.
The persecutor responds with anger and contempt in the same way a victim responds by feeling victimised. TV dramas and movies are great for depicting this, you can see the characters flitting between victim and persecutor. Until you can step out of these roles you remain a puppet. The roles you take on manipulate you until you choose to respond in another more positive way, and until you do, you make it considerably more difficult for you to achieve what you want in your life.
The saviour is a role we take on when either the victim and/or the persecutor is in play by others and this role doesn’t bring much enjoyment or satisfaction because you feel you have to be the knight in shinning armour who has to save the day. Yet again this is reactive and not a choice and all roles like this are reactions not choices and seriously limit you and your life. In order to achieve what you want in your life, you need to create more choice for yourself.
Part of this is learning about your choice in your behaviour to other people and in how you assess others. Do you judge people on what they say or what they do, their behaviour, because there is a huge difference. We can all have bad days and say things we don’t mean when we feel stressed or under pressure and it is so easy to judge someone as being an arse because of that and decide to not like them. However, we are not what we say or what we do, they are just external expressions of our state of mind and not who we truly are and as such, we need to learn to reserve judgement at an identity level based on words and actions. Of course we can be pissed off with someone’s language and behaviour, this does not mean that that person is always like that and we may find on another day we actually get on really we’ll with them. So yet again it is a choice to reserve judgement and cut people some slack as we do not necessarily know what’s going on in their lives.
The foundation of this post is that there is no objective reality, it is purely subjective and all down to perception. Reality is a perceptual illusion and as such it can be what you want it to be. This can be quite disconcerting if this idea is new to you and may lead you to question everything. This is a good thing, trust me.
YOU HAVE A CHOICE!!
Getting what you want in your life is down to your perception of what is achievable and desirable. This is the same for getting what you want for yourself as well as what you want from other people and this is based on the tried and tested principle that when you control what someone else perceives you control them. It’s a scary thought I know and it happens day in day out.
Knowing this you can now turn your attention to yourself and your goals and desires and manipulate your own perception, therefore manipulating yourself just as you would someone else. This can be quite an eye opening experience, accepting that your perceptions and reality are not real, they are purely your choices at that moment in time, and you can make different choices to create the reality you truly want. Despite this knowledge being widely available, some people prefer to wallow in the self made prison of their own inadequate, ineffective subjective reality instead of questioning their current perceptions and changing their reality through different choices.
Guilt and shame, both self induced and imposed by others is what keeps many people in that self made prison and this is often from religion, gangs, political groups etc and used purely to control you. Understanding that you have other choices strips others of their power and control over you.
I truly hope that this and the rest of my posts in this series open up your mind to the endless choices available to you and help you realise that if you’ve felt stuck up till now, it has been your choice and that there is no discernible honour in self imposed poverty, whether that is financially, spiritually, emotionally or on any other level, unless those sacrifices are necessary for you to keep moving in the direction of your life’s purpose.
” Live for today because tomorrow is a gift, not a guarantee.” Simon Maryan