Creative Reframing


A wise old gentleman had retired and bought himself a modest home near a school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment. However, when the new school year began, the very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful exuberance and post school enthusiasm, came down his street, banging merrily on every dustbin they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.

The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. He stopped them and said, “You boys are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favour? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.” The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the dustbins.

After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recessions really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.” The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they accepted his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street.

“Look,” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?” “A quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think were going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re mad! No way, we quit!” And the old man enjoyed peace and serenity for the rest of his days.

The Value of Your Values


I wonder if you’ve ever thought about what your personal values are? Not many people have even considered it before, yet clarifying your personal values profoundly impacts career planning, decision-making, and the accomplishment of individual goals. There’s significant research over the last several years that indicates that clarifying personal values reduces stress, strengthens willpower, and aids in overcoming significant obstacles to achievement. Identifying your personal values is an essential and vastly under utilised tool for personal and professional development.

So How Do We Define Values?

Here’s one Definition: Values are deeply held beliefs about what is good, right, and appropriate.

Values are deep-seated and remain constant over time. We accumulate our values from childhood based on teachings and observations of our parents, family, friends, teachers, spiritual leaders, and other influential and powerful people.

Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect your sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be. “Equal rights for all”, “Excellence deserves admiration”, and “People should be treated with respect and dignity” are representative of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behaviour. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values that are not clearly physiologically determined, such as altruism, are intrinsic, and whether some, such as acquisitiveness, should be classified as vices or virtues.

Achievable goals can only be established and pursued if they are in synchrony with your personal values.

You must be clear about your values because they reveal who you are and what values are directly related to the quality and depth of your self-worth.

Some typical values explored in coaching are: harmony, balance, loyalty, achievement, wisdom, integrity, honesty, acceptance, happiness, inclusion, freedom etc.

A Values Assessment Exercise can provide you with:

  • A clear understanding of what is important to you and identifying your guiding principles
  • A map as to where you are and where you want to go based on your values
  • A clearer understanding of why you do what you do
  • A better understanding of how you can best interact with others
  • Better control of your life and ability to succeed as you clarify your personal values

Why Values Clarification Helps

People who are confused or unclear about their values often have difficulty making important life-decisions, because they tend not to weigh what is most important to them. This is an especially urgent problem today, with all the choices, noise, and mixed messages pulling us in a thousand different directions. We are living in a world of infinite options, which can be wonderful, but also more than a little confusing.

Think about how many decisions, big or small, you make in a day. This choice overload can be utterly overwhelming, especially for someone looking for career direction. This is why a values-based decision-making paradigm is an incredibly meaningful alternative. For instance, if you value organisation, you will work best in an organised work environment. Using deeply held personal values as a life compass will empower you and your clients, if you’re a coach, to make career decisions that are right for the individual.

After surveying the workforce in 142 countries, Gallup concluded that only 13% of employees are engaged at work, and 87% of those surveyed dislike (or even loathe) their jobs. Why, when we now have more career options and resources than ever, are so many people simply going through the motions, and working for the weekend? Why do so many surveys indicate that people are truly dissatisfied with their jobs?

It’s because they are compromising their personal values, most without even realising they’re doing it.

We can truly do meaningful work only when we are living according to our core values!

If you’d like get clarity on your personal values, work through the simple values assessment exercise below:

First, take a few moments to read through the list of values and make an initial list of any values that stand out for you, this will be your baseline to start from and this list may be 15-20 and that’s fine as Steps 1 & 2 will help you cut the list down. I’d also like you to write down your observations, thoughts and feelings about these initial values and why you feel they are important to you right now. remember that this is just the beginning of this process and the list will shorten and change, possibly quite significantly too, so just go with it and see what happens.

Values List

Values Exercise Step 1:

What I Value Most…

Value Assessment: From your initial list of values (both work and personal) select the eight – ten that are most important to you. Feel free to add any values of your own to this list if they are not there.

Step 2: Prioritise

Now that you have identified your top eight – ten, write them in order of importance for you from 1 being the most important to 10 being the least important.

Now read the bottom half of your list out loud . If you were offered a job or told that these were the values you were going to live the rest of your life by, would it feel right?

Now repeat this with the top half of your list, if you were offered a job or told that these were the values you were going to live the rest of your life by, would it feel right?

If you chose the bottom half then you need to redo your list or re-prioritise it. This in itself is a very important discovery and helps you to really connect with what is truly important to you, and, you can apply it to anything in life such as a buying a car, choosing a holiday etc.

However, if you chose the top 4-5 as values you felt most comfortable living by then you have done an excellent job in prioritising your values list

Some Guidelines:

  1. Using the Values List – name 3 values that you move towards and that are important to you (e.g., freedom)
  2. Name 3 feeling states you wish to avoid (e.g., rejection)
  3. What values or feeling states do you need to create your destiny? (e.g., self-determination)
  4. Identify 3 people who have had the greatest impact on your life? What special advice or values remain with you?
  5. List 3 peak experiences that have profoundly shaped your life/career direction

 

I hope you found this useful and my next article will be about beliefs and how they are tied to our values.

To your success.

Simon

 

Hypnosis and Fear of Dentists


stay-connectd

Unsurprisingly for many of you, a fear of dentists and dental treatment is a very common phobia in the UK and elsewhere around the world.

  • Almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist.
  • 12% of these suffers from an extreme dental anxiety.
  • Women are more likely to suffer from extreme dental anxiety than men.
  • Visiting the Dentist is ranked number one (22%) for making people nervous, even more popular than heights (19%).

Direct experience is the most common way people develop dental fears. Most people report that their dental fear began after a traumatic, difficult, and/or painful dental experience. However, painful or traumatic, dental experiences alone do not explain why people develop dental phobia. The perceived manner of the dentist is an important variable. Dentists who were considered “impersonal”, “uncaring”, “uninterested” or “cold” may develop high dental fear in patients, even in the absence of painful experiences, whereas some patients who had had painful experiences failed to develop dental fear if they perceived their dentist as caring and warm.

Indirect experiences

  • Vicarious learning
  • Dental fear may develop as people hear about others’ traumatic experiences or negative views of dentistry (vicarious learning).
  • Mass media

The negative portrayal of dentistry in mass media and cartoons may also contribute to the development of dental fear. This negative portrayal may come from such films as the 1932 comedy film The Dentist, the unrelated horror film The Dentist, its sequel, the 1933 cartoon The Merry Old Soul, and Marathon Man (the antagonist, Dr. Christian Szell, is a Nazi war criminal who tortures with dental equipment).

Stimulus Generalisation

Dental fear may develop as a result of a previous traumatic experience in a non-dental context. For example, bad experiences with doctors or hospital environments may lead people to fear white coats and antiseptic smells, which is one reason why dentists nowadays often choose to wear less “threatening” apparel. People who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused may also find the dental situation threatening.

Helplessness and Perceived Lack of Control

If a person believes that they have no means of influencing a negative event, they will experience the feeling of helplessness. Research has shown that a perception of lack of control leads to fear. The opposite belief, that one does have control, can lead to lessened fear. For example, the belief that the dentist will stop when the patient gives a stop signal lessens fear. Helplessness and lack of control may also result from direct experiences, for example an incident where a dentist wouldn’t stop even when the person was in obvious pain.

Diagnosis of Phobia
Phobia of dental care is sometimes diagnosed using a fear measurement instrument like Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale or the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale

It would be very interesting to read your experiences of dentists and how you feel about your 6 monthly appointment. In the meantime here are some case studies and also additional references at the end.

 

Study 1: Hypnosis in Pediatric Dental Treatment Using elements of hypnosis prior to or during pediatric dental treatment.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635894

Results: A review of the relevant research and literature shows that the advantages of using hypnotic elements and hypnosis in pediatric dentistry are evident.

Notes: Most dental practitioners are familiar with pediatric patients expressing dental fear or anxiety. Occasionally, the dentist may encounter a situation where all behavioral techniques fail, while, for some reason, premedication or general anesthesia are contraindicated or rejected by the patient or his/her parents and a different approach is required. Hypnosis may solve the problem in some cases. The purpose of this study was to review the literature about techniques that use elements of hypnosis and hypnotic techniques prior to or during pediatric dental treatment. There is a limited amount of literature regarding the use of hypnosis and hypnotic elements in pediatric dentistry. Induction techniques, reframing, distraction, imagery suggestions, and hypnosis are identified, although mostly anecdotally.

Pediatr Dent. 2013 Jan-Feb;35(1):33-6
By: B. Peretz, R. Bercovich, S. Blumer, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, The Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Study 2: Hypnosis for Dental Procedure Pain
Effects of Hypnosis as an Adjunct to Intravenous Sedation for Third Molar Extraction: A Randomized, Blind, Controlled Study
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140903310782?journalCode=nhyp20#preview

Results: Intraoperative Propofol administration, patient postoperative pain ratings, and postoperative prescription pain reliever consumption were all significantly reduced in the hypnosis treatment group compared to the control group.

Notes: This study aimed to evaluate the use of hypnosis/therapeutic suggestion as an adjunct to intravenous (IV) sedation in patients having 3rd molar removal in an outpatient setting. The patients were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 46) or control (n = 54) group. The treatment group listened to a rapid conversational induction and therapeutic suggestions via headphones throughout the entire surgical procedure along with a standard sedation dose of intravenous anesthetic. The control group listened to only music without any hypnotic intervention. Intraoperative Propofol administration, patient postoperative pain ratings, and postoperative prescription pain reliever consumption were all significantly reduced in the treatment compared to the control group. Implications of these results are discussed.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume 58, Issue 1, 2009
By: Edward F. Mackey, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Study 3: Use of Imagery to Make Easier Injection of Anesthesia for Dental Work
The use of imagery suggestions during administration of local anesthetic in pediatric dental patients.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10997242

Results: The authors of this study conclude that imaging/imagery techniques may be successfully utilized in the administration of local anesthesia to young children (from three years of age) in an effort to mitigate untoward, pain-related stress.

Notes: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of suggestion before and during the administration of local anesthesia to children. Eighty children between the ages of three and sixteen years and who required at least one injection of local anesthesia were monitored. Retrospective examinations of their dental records provided the information regarding the behavior and dental treatment histories of the patients. All other data were provided through observation during the dental treatment phase. During the first treatment session, before the injection, each child was asked to select a favorite, pleasant memory or image. Where children had difficulty in identifying an image, one was proposed by the dentist. After an image had been chosen, the patients were asked to concentrate on the image and to visualize it during the procedure. The majority of children had chosen their own images, and significantly visualized the same images throughout the injection procedures. Image selection and visualization had no association with gender, age, the parent’s assessment of the child’s behavior, previous dental experience, behavior (both past and present) or, management techniques (both past and present).

ASDC J Dent Child. 2000 Jul-Aug;67(4):263-7, 231
By: B. Peretz, E. Bimstein, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Hebrew University, Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel

References

  1. Bracha HS, Vega EM, Vega CB (2006). “Posttraumatic dental-care anxiety (PTDA): Is “dental phobia” a misnomer?” (PDF). Hawaii Dent J. 37 (5): 17–9. PMID 17152624.
  2. Milgrom P, Weinstein P, Getz T (1995). Treating Fearful Dental Patients: A Patient Management Handbook (2nd ed.). Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington, Continuing Dental Education. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0528.1996.tb00893.x. ISBN 1-880291-01-0.
  3. Erten H, Akarslan ZZ, Bodrumlu E (April 2006). “Dental fear and anxiety levels of patients attending a dental clinic”. Quintessence Int. 37 (4): 304–10. PMID 16594362.
  4. Stabholz A, Peretz B (April 1999). “Dental anxiety among patients prior to different dental treatments”. Int Dent J. 49 (2): 90–4. doi:10.1111/j.1875-595x.1999.tb00514.x. PMID 10858738
  5. Locker D, Shapiro D, Liddell A (June 1996). “Negative dental experiences and their relationship to dental anxiety”. Community Dent Health. 13 (2): 86–92. PMID 8763138
  6. Bernstein DA, Kleinknecht RA, Alexander LD (1979). “Antecedents of dental fear”. J Public Health Dent. 39 (2): 113–24. doi:10.1111/j.1752-7325.1979.tb02932.x. PMID 287803
  7. Hilton IV, Stephen S, Barker JC, Weintraub JA (December 2007). “Cultural factors and children’s oral health care: a qualitative study of carers of young children”. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 35 (6): 429–38. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0528.2006.00356.x. PMID 18039284
  8. http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/abuse_survivors.html
  9. Lundgren J, Carlsson SG, Berggren U (May 2006). “Relaxation versus cognitive therapies for dental fear—a psychophysiological approach”. Health Psychol. 25 (3): 267–73. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.25.3.267. PMID 16719597

Life Design


For a long time I thought I was happy with my job, I was doing what I’d set to do in joining the Royal Marines. I worked with like-minded people, got paid to stay exceptionally fit, got fed four times a day and was provided with a roof over my head. The trade-off was that I was expected to do what I was told do whether I liked it or not and, some of the things I was asked to do I really didn’t like. However I was still happy living my dream.

Or so I thought.

Continue reading Life Design

Keys To Successful Fat Loss Part 4: Emotions


This fourth instalment looks into how our negative emotions can interfere with our ability to lose fat through excessive levels of Cortisol and other stress hormones present in our bodies.

Links and References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10023725

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11259858

http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/stresscortisol.html

References
1 Jones, T.L. Definition of stress. In J.J. Robert-McComb (Ed.), Eating Disorders in Women and Children: Prevention, Stress Management, and Treatment (pp. 89- 100). Boca Raton, FL: CRS Press, 2001.

2 Henry, J.P. Biological basis of the stress response. NIPS 8: 69-73, 1993.

3 Ely, D.L. Organization of cardiovascular and neurohumoral responses to stress: implications for health and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Reprinted from Stress) 771:594-608, 1995.

4 McEwen, B.S. The brain as a target of endocrine hormones. In Neuroendocrinology. Krieger and Hughs, Eds.: 33-42. Sinauer Association, Inc., Massachusetts, 1980.

5 Rosmond, R., C. Bouchard, & P. Bjorntorp. A C-1291G polymorphism in the _ 2A-adrenergic receptor gene (ADRA2A) promoter is associated with cortisol escape from dexamethasone and elevated glucose levels. Journal of Internal Medicine 251: 252-257, 2002.

6 Vicennati, V., L. Ceroni, L. Gagliardi, et al. Response of the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenocortical axis to high-protein/fat and high carbohydrate meals in women with different obesity phenotypes. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 87(8) 3984-3988, 2002.

7 Wallerius, S., R. Rosmond, T. Ljung, et al. Rise in morning saliva cortisol is associated with abdominal obesity in men: a preliminary report. Journal of Endocrinology Investigation 26: 616-619, 2003.

8 Epel, E.S., B. McEwen, T. Seeman, et al. Stress and body shape: stress-induced cortisol secretion is consistently greater among women with central fat.
Psychosomatic Medicine 62:623-632, 2000.

9 Tomlinson, J.W. & P.M. Stewart. The functional consequences of 11_- hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase expression in adipose tissue. Hormone and Metabolism Research 34: 746-751, 2002.

10 Andrews, R.C., O. Herlihy, D.E.W. Livingstone, et al. Abnormal cortisol metabolism and tissue sensitivity to cortisol in patients with glucose intolerance.The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology 87(12): 5587-5593, 2002.

11 Morris, K.L. & M.B. Zemel, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 modulation of adipocyte glucocorticoid function. Obesity Research 13: 670-677, 2005.

12 Epel, E., R. Lapidus, B. McEwen, et al. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.Psychoneuroendocrinology 26: 37-49, 2001.

13 Cavagnini, F., M. Croci, P. Putignano, et al. Glucocorticoids and neuroendocrine function. International Journal of Obesity 24: S77-S79, 2000.

14 Mariemi, J. E., Kronholm, S. Aunola, et al. Visceral fat and psychosocial stress in identical twins discordant for obesity. Journal of Internal Medicine 251: 35-43, 2002.

15 Rosmond, R., M.F. Dallman, & P. Bjorntorp. Stress-related cortisol secretion in men: relationships with abdominal obesity and endocrine, metabolic, and hemodynamic abnormalities. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
83: 1853-1859, 1998.

16 Heyward, V.H. Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription. 4th ed.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2002.

Present Moment Awareness


During a far flung conflict, a man is captured by the enemy and thrown into a prison camp. That night he is unable to sleep because of his fears that the next day he will be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then he remembers the words of his instructors as they flood back into his mind,

“Tomorrow is not real. It is just an illusion. The only reality is now.”

Tacking notice of these words as they ring through his mind, he sighs and feels a sense of peaceful relief in that moment and falls asleep.

Altering Perceptions


A wise old gentleman retired and bought a modest home near a school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment. Then the new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful exuberance and after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, banging merrily on every dustbin they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.
The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. He stopped them and said, “You boyds are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favour? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.” The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the dustbins.
After a few days, the old gentleman greeted the boys again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recessions really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.” The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they accepted his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street.
“Look,” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?” “A quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think were going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re mad! No way, we quit!” And the old man enjoyed peace and serenity for the rest of his days.

Choice: Excuse or Success


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

What You Believe Leads to What You Achieve


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

Behavioural Change Through Emotional Stimulus


Emotions – Decisions – Behaviour

Behaviour indicates what is happening.

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Behaviour is a way in which an individual acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus. People learn to behave in certain ways as they progress through life. Behaviour can be taught, mimicked, and/or modified. It begins as a conscious, or learned, response. Over time, though, if that behaviour is repeated often enough it can become part of our unconscious personality.

One of the most interesting things about the way our minds work is the way that we make decisions. We do this every day, we have to decide between one thing and another thing and there is some internal mechanism that allows us to do that. We have an unconscious strategy for everything that we do.

Sometimes this mechanism works really well and we make a great decision and sometimes the result is not so good. You know the decisions I’m talking about. All the exercise equipment you bought and never used. The clothes you bought that you never wear. The things that seemed like a good idea at the time, which you regret later.

And there are other sorts of decisions, the ones we make most unconsciously. A decision like:

Do I eat the chocolate cake or do I eat a salad?
Do I do it by the book or do I bend the rules to get it done quicker, easier?

The results to these sorts of decisions are not always entirely what we hoped and a big part of that is down to how we think about the decision.
How do we compare our options?

The Moment of Decision

In the moment of decision we have to choose between the options to select what is best for us. So most decisions involve some sort of comparison.

Should I buy the brown shoes or the black ones?
Which car is most comfortable / looks best / sounds best / is fastest / is most economical?

We tend to compare some aspect of each experience and choose the option that comes out best for that aspect.

For example, if you look at the choice between a piece of chocolate cake or a salad and you make the choice based on a picture of the chocolate cake and how that feels and a picture of the salad and how that feels. If you make the decision in this way the chocolate cake will win more often than not.

However if you compare these in a slightly different way, focusing on a different aspect of the experience, you get a different outcome. Suppose you were to fast-forward each of the images until you see where they lead and then compare those images. For example, the chocolate cake fast-forwards to a picture of you standing in front of the mirror feeling bloated. The salad can fast-forward to an entirely different picture. Now when you compare those pictures, the salad wins.

And that’s just one way in which how we make decisions impacts the results we get.

Channeling our Decision-Making

We don’t always make decisions with pictures though. Sometimes we talk about the two options with ourselves – we talk about one option then we talk about the other. How you talk about those things – the words you use, the tonality you use and how you express the words makes a tremendous difference in what you will decide.

There are other ways that our decisions can be affected because decision-making is a process.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) it is called a ‘strategy’. There are many different ways that a strategy can be affected by other conditions which will ultimately affect the sort of decision we get and whether it’s a good decision or a bad decision.

But what makes a good decision good and the bad decision bad?

That’s something that is much more difficult to evaluate for most people. I would suggest that as a rough rule-of-thumb a good decision is one that gets you what you want in the bigger picture or in the longer term.

It’s important to look at utility from a broader perspective because how you frame the decision – whether you look at the chocolate cake or the consequences of the chocolate cake later on – affects how you move through the world. To make decisions you’ve got to know what you really want and that’s a whole other issue. I suggest that you evaluate your decisions from a broad enough perspective and find out if they really give you want you want in the long-run.

Emotional Response vs Decisions

When an event prompts an emotional reaction, the sympathetic nervous system mobilises the body for an adaptive fight-or-flight response.

Fight-or-Flight

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The Visual Cortex is sometimes called the “air traffic controller” of the brain. The Thalamus routes the bulk of the information of the cortex (as illustrated on the previous page, to the visual cortex as the stimulus is visual), and a small amount of the information to the Amygdala (the emotional response centre – regulator of our emotions).

The Amygdala is most commonly associated with the emotions of fear and anxiety. When no immediate threat is perceived, the cortex develops a reasoned response which is then routed to the amygdala for generating motivation and action through the release of a suitable amount of electro-chemicals (shown as small circles). If a threat is perceived, however, the amygdala can “hijack” the reasoned response process and flood the brain with electro-chemicals for generating a fast “fight-or-flight” type response.

Such a response can save our lives in certain situations, or get us into trouble by overreacting in other situations (our “hot buttons” get pushed), leading to angry words or sometimes violence etc.

We all have certain triggers – things that cause us to have an emotional reaction and trigger our innate ― fight of flight response. This limits our capacity to think clearly and causes us to move to default behaviours that may not be skilful or effective. Here are some default behaviours you might see (and experience yourself!)

  • Someone gets defensive when they feel criticised – feedback
  • Avoiding difficult conversations – redundancy, firing, disciplinary
  • A person gives in to a strongly worded demand when they really don‘t want to – fear, bullying, intimidation
  • Someone becomes controlling and directive when they are feeling overwhelmed
  • A person shuts down and becomes quiet when there is conflict in a meeting

These above examples of emotional reactions can force us into un-skilful default behaviours.

Here are some initial coaching questions for you to help you gain self-awareness of what emotions are driving your behaviours: Think of a specific time where you either over or under responded:

  • Think of a time when you have felt emotionally triggered, what specifically was the trigger (a person, a situation, etc)?”
  • In the moment when you felt triggered, what were you thinking to yourself?
  • What emotions were affecting you?” e.g. not feeling valued or respected, being disappointed, feeling criticised, needing to be right, etc.
  • Write your reflections about these questions in notebook so that you can review them later.

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Our default response and Pavlovian thinking. Pavlovian thinking is somewhat insidious because we can‘t see ourselves doing this. We think we are thinking about our own reflexive actions but even as the more evolved parts of the brain are witnessing these Pavlovian responses, we are totally unable to control the reptilian‘ parts of the brain. So, the mind is forced mindlessly to follow a set track engraved by the Amygdala which overrides all other systems.

When we try to override the Amygdala‘s systems of default response, we cause EMOTIONAL DISTRESS. Even as the forebrain frantically forces the rest of the brain to do as it says, the emotional toll can be tremendous and often, too painful, so we give up and yield to the set systems of the inner brain.

3 critical ‘performance levers’ that need be used:

Behavioural change happens mostly by engaging a person‘s emotions and feelings.

What we perceive defines what we believe. And this belief or perception is what guides our behaviour. Behaviour often has a large impact in learning/performance environments due to the influence of behaviourism.

Values are one of the components of attitudes. Values help to determine how we will act as they help us to weigh the importance of various alternatives. They drive all organisational and individual efforts.

SOME KEY LEARNING POINTS:

People view the past through the Amygdala‟s learning systems. It is not a logical progression but an EMOTIONAL one.

The brains amygdala is the emotional trigger-point for our decisions and actions (our behaviour). We base our decisions on emotional rather than rational responses to stimuli. People therefore need to ensure any persuasion requests to change are directed to the amygdala.

Emotions control thinking. Every time a decision is made, we subconsciously call upon an emotional memory, a FEELING that will help guide us. It is important that you learn how to get in contact with your emotions – your SELF GUIDANCE SYSTEM.

When we are able to activate our amygdala triggers, we can preclude any laborious rational thinking that can at best only engender very short-term change.

Sources:

Zeus and Skiffington