New thoughts about affirmations

I was never been a fan of affirmations. I thought, “Why would I want to repeat some phrase that I don’t really believe?” Especially if the phrase was positive and I wasn’t feeling all that positive about what I was doing. The idea of thinking about something upbeat and totally the opposite of what I was doing, was a bit depressing.
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Only recently, have I come to realize the power of affirmations. Affirmations actually work. They work if you keep repeating them.

For years I have said, and know to be true, that the brain does not understand the opposite of a request. The brain simply negates negatives. If you say, “I won’t eat candy.” The brain hears “Eat candy” and off to the store you go to buy a big bag of M&Ms. Affirmations work on this same principle. If you say, “I exercise everyday” and you don’t, it eventually creates what is called cognitive dissonance and the brain doesn’t know what to do. So the first thing that happens is you resist saying the statement. You get depressed and you may even think affirmations are stupid – oh yeah, I did that. However, if you push through the resistance, eventually your body and mind will crave congruence (in this case, exercise). At that point, it will become mental torture to lie around when you are repeating that you exercise every day. You will want to get up and exercise. As Aristotle stated, “We may lay it down that pleasure is a movement, a movement by which the soul as a whole is consciously brought into its normal state of being; and that Pain is the opposite.” Freud has been recognized as identifying the Pleasure-Pain Principle (or Pleasure-Unpleasure), in that humans seek pleasure and move away from pain or “unpleasure.” When not acting on your affirmations becomes more unpleasurable than pleasurable, you are moved to bring your actions into congruence with your affirmations.

In a case study I conducted over a decade ago of women in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, I was critical of the “scripts” the women repeated with little sincerity. I felt like it was an attempt to beat the system; and, it may very well have been. The women knew what to say, even though they were not living their lives in concert with the scripts. They knew that the scripts made it sound like they were making progress. Many of the women in the center were there by court order. Whether they wanted to change or not was hard for me to discern. At the time, I was sure none of the women thought, I want to be a drug addict and go back to the streets or jail, but I wasn’t sure they weren’t thinking “I can’t wait to get high again.” As a part of the research, I realize that the “scripts” they were repeating aloud, might help ready them for change. What I didn’t realize is that the script might actually be one of the most significant things to motivate them to eventually changing their life. When we continually repeat that we are love ourselves and only want to do what is right, it is hard to do self-destructive things we know are wrong.

Yes, you’ve heard it before. Affirmations work!

Here are some tips for creating a personal affirmation program:

1. Use present tense – The best way to craft your affirmations is to say it in the present tense. “I am now….” “Everyday I…” etc. This creates that cognitive dissonance where your brain hears what you are doing and at the same time knows you are not doing it.
2. State your affirmations aloud – by stating your affirmation aloud, it integrates into both your conscious and subconscious. You are using multiple parts of your brain: your voice and your ears.
3. Write your affirmations daily – by writing you are using the kinesthetic (touch) and visual (seeing) parts of your brain.
4. Close your eyes and imagine – imagine yourself engaged in the activity that is consistent with your affirmation. If your affirmation is that you weigh 125lbs, imagine yourself thin, with an athletic body and full of energy. This paints that mental picture. Your brain moves toward equilibrium and will want your outward image to match the inward image.
5. Repeat your affirmation process two or three times a day. The more you repeat your affirmation process, the more it is incorporated into your consciousness and the more it becomes difficult to not fulfill your affirmation. You will be propelled toward fulfilling your affirmation.

~ You are awesome and living a fulfilling life. ~

Why most New Year’s Resolutions fail and how to make yours succeed

fireworksSo, you are preparing for your New Year festivities and you are probably thinking about what you will make this coming year’s resolution. But, you’ve read the statistics, “90% of all New Year’s Resolutions will be abandoned within the first thirty days of the year.” And if you are like the rest of us, you probably have a list of failed resolutions to your name. The reason is simple. Most New Year’s Resolutions involve a desire to change a habit. They usually don’t have an endpoint and at the same time they don’t involve an individual’s passion or dream. This is why most fail.

Resolutions are logical changes made as a result of analyzing what is not working. Why do you think they are called resolutions? The dictionary defines a resolution as “the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.” From a logical standpoint they follow the same pattern as most dispassionate legal resolutions:
Whereas, during the past five years I have gained 20 lbs.
Whereas, I do not feel as attractive as I once felt.
Whereas, I have less energy than I had five years ago.
Whereas, my doctor said my cholesterol levels are higher than they should be; and
Whereas, I know I will feel better is I lose weight.
Therefore, be it resolved that during 2010 I will lose 20 lbs and exercise more.

No wonder we hear statistics that most New Year’s Resolutions are broken within the first thirty days of the year.

In order for you to keep your New Year’s Resolution this year, connect to the passion. Connect to the feeling on the other side of the goal. Visualize how you will feel, what you can do, visualize the feeling of success. Get a support group to help you with your resolution. If you have resolved to lose weight, join weight watchers or some other weight lose group. If you have resolved to exercise more, find a faithful partner. If you have resolved to save money, get financial counseling. Don’t try to do it on your own until you deeply connect to the reason and the passion in your resolution. And, create a manageable commitment. Achieve in 5! is one way to slowly enter and build on your year’s goal(s).

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR 2013 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

Don’t give it a try

yodaWhen people say they will “try” to do something it generally means they won’t do it or they will do it half heartedly. There is no commitment to “try”. When have you said you would try to do something? Generally we say we will try when we do not intend to do it, don’t intend to finish it, don’t plan to like it, or when we don’t really think it is possible. How many times when someone has said, “I’ll try to make it to the party.” have they actually shown up?

We learn at a young age that a “try” deserves a half-hearted effort and most of the time you are not going to like it and you probably won’t continue to do it. When you were a child and you didn’t want to eat the asparagus, someone invariably said, “Come on. Just give it a try.” First of all, you knew before you took that very tiny bite that you weren’t going to like it and you also knew that if you gave it a “try” and then said you didn’t like it, people would leave you alone. The motivation of a parent saying “give it a try” is generally hoping the child will like it, but if the child still doesn’t like, it is acceptable. The word “try” brings with it option. Once you try, you don’t have to continue. You have an out. If you are committed to a goal, don’t “try” to achieve it. Commit to achieving that goal. Commit to persisting until to achieve it.

Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary if you plan to finish.

(Reprint from October 2009)

crossing the finish line on your projects

Seeing the finish line is an essential element to success. It is important to define the two key terms in this topic, “seeing” and “finish line.” First, let’s look at how we are defining finish line. The finish line is the final result. It is not a milestone nor it is a goal, it is the absolute final result.

That means if you are writing a book, the finish line is not finishing the book. The finish line may be 300,000 copies of your book are sold or a Pulitzer Prize. The reason your finis line is not a completed book is, because too often that intermediate goal becomes such a focus and finishing it feels like full completion. Without knowing why, you just don’t have the energy to go any further with that goal or you are ready to move on to your next project. Writing a book is certainly an accomplishment, but if no one ever reads it, it somewhat defeats the purpose.

Think about it, if you were running a race and you knew your goal was 10K. At the end of the 10K someone says, “Oh but you can get this bigger prize by continuing to go another 10K.” You might not have the physical energy to go that additional 6.2 miles. You had already paced yourself to complete 6.2 miles not 12,4. The same thing is true with setting your goal. If you set your goal at a midpoint accomplishment, you lessen your chances of actually completing the goal because in your mind, that midpoint is completion.

“Seeing” is the act of visualizing what it will be like to complete your goal. The ability to visualize your goal is a part of making it a reality. It is important to get a clear picture in your mind of the end result, how it looks, what it feels like, how you feel emotionally having completed it. As a part of the Achieve in 5! daily rituals you will be guided through a practice of visualizing your goal multiple times a day.

(Reprint from September 2009/)

Stay Away From Psychic Vampires

Even if you have never heard the term psychic vampire used to describe a person, chances are you have met one. A psychic vampire can be your neighbor, your coworker, or even a family member. I am not talking about a vicious person who will bite you in the neck at the first opening – well, not literally anyway. The psychic vampire very slowly sucks the blood and energy from you with each encounter.

This is not the somewhat lovable but annoying friend who complains about one small ailment or life tragedy after another and leaves you feeling slightly depressed. This less than endearing phrase is reserved for the individual who seems to make it a mission to drain you of your energy on an almost daily basis. The psychic vampire is determined to get into your inner circle. This person seeks to be your best friend until eventually you feel held hostage to the effect they are having on your well-being.

You not only become their problem-solver and their confidante, but you also feel like the therapist and the physician. If they have a problem it is yours to solve and the catch is you can’t solve it. Psychic vampires not only want you to take on their problems but want to assist you in feeling miserable in your own right. It is important for the psychic vampire to share everything negative others are saying about you, your partner and anything involving you. Keep in mind, psychic vampires think they are being helpful when they tell you the negative side effects of the medicine you are taking and send you negative articles about your workplace. They just want you to be informed.

If you notice that each time you are around a particular person you feel tired, irritable and depressed, you might likely be dealing with a psychic vampire. Psychic vampires can literally be dangerous to your health. Day after day of fighting encountering a psychic vampire can be so draining that you may start to exhibit physical symptoms. If you are prone to hypertension, your blood pressure may begin a steady rise. You may start having headaches, stomach aches, or feeling flu-like symptoms even though you are usually healthy. Maybe you feel more tired than usual and your motivation is diminished. You may even feel your effectiveness at work dwindle as your self-confidence is being eroded.

How to Spot a Psychic Vampire
If you work in an office or live in a neighborhood where a psychic vampire is on the prey, you need to know the warning signs. Is there one person who has gone through a number of friends and the friendships usually end on a very bad note?

Psychic vampires are regularly seen socializing. At work, they spend a lot of time away from their desk sitting with others for what seems like hours or they have someone at their work station most of the day. You have probably wondered how this person gets any work done. These vampires feel their invaluable gift of gossip, complaint and psychic consumption is a part of their job description. In fact, one of the psychic vampire’s typical complaints is how overworked and underpaid they are. After all, draining another’s psyche takes time and energy and deserves optimal compensation.

The Psychic Vampire is great at making friends, they will sympathize and socialize and draw themselves into the inner circle of several people. At first you might be a bit envious and even wonder how they manage to know so much about people in such a short time. But then the pattern starts, the vampire begins losing friends, one at a time. They say things that cause others to doubt their own motives or actions. They expect undying loyalty and for others to stand up for them even when they are clearly wrong. They become unreasonably angry and often vicious if their “friends” disagree with them. They stand for “right” even when right is obviously wrong and they love to be the voice of dissent. The psychic vampire starts slowly, but can single-handedly bring down the moral of an entire family, office, or organization.

Oddly enough, you might be able to take clues from the vampire’s environment. Not all, but many psychic vampires are fascinated with dreary surrealism and sometimes things that can only be described as strange. I once knew a psychic vampire who had a collection of small plastic insects, rodents and reptiles. This is not to say that all bug collectors are psychic vampires, but if the work environment is a bit dark and off-beat it might be one small clue.

Protecting Yourself from the Vampire’s Bite
As you know from the popular vampire legends you’ve heard since childhood, vampires can appear as charming and normal human beings. So initially spotting a psychic vampire can be difficult. The best way to protect yourself from the bite of a psychic vampire is to always be on guard. Remember, vampires cannot attack unless they get close to your psyche. Keep in mind, unless you are aware they might have the power to draw you to them. Be friendly when meeting someone new, embrace them, but don’t share too much personal information and don’t share your negative feelings about common acquaintances. If you spot a psychic vampire, make it a point to keep your distance, don’t let them know anything. Keep all conversation cordial, superficial and most importantly short.

There is no vaccine against the psychic vampire’s bite. As with any parasitic infection the healthier your immune system—in this case, the healthier your psyche—the better your chances are of warding off the psychic vampire’s bite. Psychic vampires are on the prey and will repeatedly attack a weak psyche.

Treating Your Wounds and Rendering the Vampire Powerless
It is important to realize when you have become prey to a psychic vampire. As soon as you are aware of this, cut off contact as quickly as possible. If it is a family member or coworker it might not be possible to eliminate all contact, but you certainly don’t need to engage in non-essential chit chat or invite them over often. Initially, separating yourself might be more difficult than it sounds. So, you may need to start with small steps. Keep in mind, you need to rebuff their attempts to gain access to your psyche. If the vampire begins to talk to you about someone else, resist the desire to hear the gossip and tell them you aren’t interested in gossip. If they begin to tell you something others have said about you, tell them you are not interested.

Keep your energy up by surrounding yourself with the positive people. Set up your home and personal spaces in ways that make you feel positive and give you energy. Remind yourself of your own power and give the vampire lots of their own space. When forced to be in the presence of the psychic vampire, doing anything that keeps your spirits up is what will render the predator powerless.

When All Else Fails – The Wooden Stake
As you know from the movies, the two most popular remedies for vampires are garlic and a wooden stake. You could wear a garlic ring around your neck and that might work to keep the psychic vampire at a distance, not to mention everyone else you know. In this case, it’s the metaphoric wooden stake we will use to do the trick. The wooden stake for the psychic vampire is an extremely positive attitude. The thing that drives this parasite crazier than anything is an absolutely positive attitude; one that seems nothing can get it down. If you find yourself caught off guard and begin to feel the fangs of a nearby vampire who tells you something negative about another person before you can get away, simply say, “Oh she is so nice, I love the way she…” and immediately walk in the opposite direction. Your goal must be to defang the vampire and save yourself from being sucked dry.

I have seen psychic vampires leave groups, neighborhoods, and even cities when they find that they no longer have power or prey. Stay positive, be aware and keep the psychic vampires away from your psyche with a positive attitude and healthy self-image.

(repost from: August 2009)

5 ideas to Achieve in 5!

High5-blueWhat can YOU Achieve in 5 minutes?

I have had several people contact me and say they want to start Achieve in 5! but don’t know what to do. In this blog, I am going to help those of you who haven’t figured out what you want to Achieve in 5! minutes. Here are 5 ideas.

IDEA 1: Develop Healthier Eating Habits

Make a healthy meal – There are several websites out there that will give you quick recipes that you can make in 5 minutes. With the extra time you saved by only taking 5 minutes to prepare your meal, you can spend 5 extra minutes eating. Eating slowly has many benefits as explained in the link ZenHabits.

IDEA 2: Get Organized

Pick a part of your life that you want to get more organized and start with 5 minutes a day. You can organize your closet in 5 minutes. You might think you want to start a habit of organizing your desk at home or work.  At the beginning of the day spend 5 minutes to organize your day by doing a To Do list; I use www.smartsheet.com.

IDEA 3: Learn Something New

With this 5 minute tip, you can walk in place and learn something new at the same time. There are a number of 5 minute podcasts available online for your listening pleasure. In 5 minutes or less you can grasp some new concept and get a bit of exercise too.

 IDEA 4: Start a Business

I’ll be honest, starting a business in 5 minutes a day is not going to make you a millionaire in a year, but what it will do is get you much…I should capitalize that…MUCH further than you are today; and I guarantee you, once you get going you won’t want to only work at it 5 minutes a day; but know that you have only committed to working 5 minutes a day. Take a look at Entrepreneur.comfor tips on starting your business – then take practical steps 5 minutes a day.

IDEA 5: Grow Your Business

Growing your already existing business is always a challenge. When I was consulting, I would go from so much work that I couldn’t grow my business, to periods of drought while I worked to gain customers. By spending 5 minutes a day paying attention to your current customers and courting new ones you reduce the feast or famine cycle of the independent contractor.

Most of all, pick something you want to do and that you will find pleasure in doing.