Archive for the ‘stress’ Category

What Hypnotherapy Is (And Some Misconceptions)

There are many misconceptions surrounding hypnotherapy at a time when it is only a process of inducing a very relaxed physical and mental state (i.e. a trance) more like guided day-dreaming or meditation. The hypnotherapist, in this process, supports you work-out being stuck, modify maladaptive behavior, or eliminate stressors in multiple ways. Effecting positive change can range from curing phobias, to dealing with low self-esteem, to resolving repressed traumas, to installing new beliefs, and many more….. The whole idea of inducing a trance is to facilitate your getting in touch with your unconscious mind – that part of your mind that has command over much of your behavior, emotions, and ingrained beliefs; hence, make important life transformations. During the process, your conscious mind is asked to relegate to the periphery. It is that logical analytical part of your mind that has everything you are aware of at the moment (i.e. the spotlight mechanism directing your attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior). You may wonder: why, then, seek the unconscious mind during hypnotherapy?

Your conscious mind is deliberate and has limited capacity. It relies heavily on the automatic unconscious mind to deal with overwhelming diversified other functions. Known for multi-tasking, your unconscious mind is by far the larger store of all your memories and is the domain of your emotions both of which continue to have influence over you without your awareness. Your unconscious mind is guided by the principle of least effort and loves repetition; thus, is responsible for creating and maintaining your habits (of thought and behavior). Your perceptions are formed, controlled, and are similarly maintained by your unconscious mind; hence, internal and external events are interpreted through schemas formulated at the unconscious level. For your protection, your unconscious mind represses memories of unresolved negative emotions as well as thoughts that are too anxiety provoking for your conscious awareness (i.e. ideas you’d spank yourself real hard for even considering). It, furthermore, runs and preserves your bodily process (e.g. you don’t notice that your heart beats, nor are you aware of your stress hormones being released in your system). No wonder, then, we seek to communicate with your unconscious mind to involve the whole of your mental processes in working for you; not against you.

In hypnotherapy, the aim is to tackle any concerns controlled by your unconscious mind (and these are plenty as briefed above). To help you speed up processes of change, hypnosis takes a short cut targeting the root causes of behavior, beliefs and emotions. Many prominent figures used hypnosis to enhance their achievement like: Mozart, Thomas Edison, Einstein, Sir Winston Churchill, and Henry Ford to name a few. Others used it to overcome their life tragedies (e.g. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis), beat the habit of smoking (e.g. Drew Barrymore), or make it as champions (e.g. Tiger Woods). To date, many are still reluctant to take this quick fix because of many circulated popular misconceptions that portray hypnosis as scary or dangerous. Frequently asked questions are addressed herein to clarify:

–       Is hypnosis really safe? Yes, hypnosis is a normal state that you go in and out of everyday without noticing. Spacing out while driving, or being totally engrossed in a movie are trance-like states. An autopilot takes over and you’d be totally absorbed in focus. The state induced in hypnotherapy is very similar. The difference is that your focus will be totally inward on your internal states in a dream-like fashion. After a session, many wonder whether they were in fact hypnotized, as the induced state resembles so much normal experiences. There are no mysteries about it and no magic (though I consider the after effects more like “white magic”).

 –       Do I end-up sharing my deepest secrets? No, you won’t say anything you’d rather remain private; and you can openly express your reluctance to share your secrets during the session. It helps more, though, if you verbalize your thoughts out, as your hypnotherapist will better be able to guide you in resolving any issue. Besides, why would you be reluctant to talk about what bothers you? Get it off your shoulders. Confidentiality of anything you discuss is ensured through-out the process. That’s an oath your hypnotherapist abides by all the time.

 –       What if I am the type who cannot be hypnotized (i.e. I’m un-suggestible)? Everyone can be hypnotized. We are in trance at least twice a day: when we wake up in the morning and as we fall asleep. It is your choice to willingly collaborate with your hypnotherapist or not; go deeper or not; cooperate to solve what’s bothering you or decide to forfeit the highway to effecting positive change. It is known that smart people are easily hypnotized because they can easily follow instructions. It’s not a sign of being too gullible, weak-minded or submissiveness. Hypnosis just creates the space for solving problems. And practically we all get immersed in our own thought processes whether we like it or not. The only difference in a hypnotic session is that you will have someone guiding you through the process to achieve the outcomes you desire.

 –       What if my hypnotherapist suggests that I do things I don’t approve of (e.g. robbing a bank or take off my clothes)? You will never do anything that violates your values or find objectionable in normal circumstances. This myth has grounds in stage hypnosis during which extroverted people volunteer to be in the arena. They totally let go of their inhibition and engage in outlandish behavior. It’s their choice to be in the spotlight, but clearly have an excuse by blaming it on the hypnotist. You can always check the credentials of your hypnotherapist (many charlatans have intruded on the profession and Hollywood movies jazzed up their stories by making up such exciting scenarios). Certified hypnotherapists abide by a code of ethics and would definitely not cross the lines.

–       Would I be completely under the control of the hypnotherapist? No, you won’t. The degree of control over you is only that which you allow. Your conscious mind will keep track of all the session details while you do the change work with your unconscious mind. Your hypnotherapist will merely suggest imagery and thoughts that instill a new way of being (one that you choose). You remain at all times in charge of accepting the suggestions or not. You are the one in control of your heightened state of alertness, memory, and concentration. If for any reason your hypnotherapist says anything you don’t agree with, you can still control the flow of the session and express your disapproval. It’s not that you are stripped of any power; on the contrary.

 –       Will I forget what went on during the session? No, you won’t unless it’s a therapeutically induced amnesia to forget a past trauma (the light can be made dimmer on distressing memories). The empowering suggestions by your hypnotherapist will linger and you will remember everything that took place during the session. The suggestions are repeated continuously to become your new driving force. These will positively influence the way you behave and emotionally react to life events. Unless you are motivated to forget and express that to your hypnotherapist, it is not usually the norm.

 –       Would I sleep during hypnosis? And what if I don’t wake up? Although many use the term “sleep” to induce hypnosis, it is not “sleeping” per se. It just refers to a state akin to “sleeping” when you experience utmost relaxation and calmness. It differs with sleeping because your senses remain alert during hypnosis. They don’t shut down.  You, especially focus more on your hypnotherapist’s voice. I personally prefer to use the term “relax” instead of “sleep” just so it eliminates this confusion. Never worry about not being able to return from trance; the choice to return to your previous state remains up to you any time. And when the session is over, you will always feel more refreshed, invigorated, and more empowered. If for any reason you do fall asleep (i.e. because you’re very tired), you will easily be awakened when I tell you that you’ll be charged extra for “over-using” that relaxing chair :).

 As a final note and after clarifying the above misconceptions, a survey of the psychotherapy literature by psychologist Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D. (published in the American Health Magazine) revealed that hypnotherapy recovery rates after 6 sessions were 93%. Using Psychoanalysis, recovery rates were 38% after 600 sessions. Using Behavioral Therapy, recovery rates were 72% after 22 sessions. Knowing all this by now, are you prompted to take a short cut to effecting positive change through hypnosis, or would you rather keep postponing?

Note: Please refer to “Contact 3Ds” on this website if you need to know more about hypnotherapy or benifit from this service.



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When You Can’t “Undo” It, “Re-do” it!

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to press “undo” for some past events we don’t fully approve of just as we do on a “word document”? Unfortunately, in real life, the potential for unhappy life experiences is loaded; and we are not equipped with a similar opportunity when things go wrong. We often say things we regret. We find ourselves in embarrassing or painful situations. We even acquire many fears and phobias following just one ill-fated accident. And then, we beat ourselves up repeatedly with the memory until the negative feelings compound and restrict our ability to move forward. We get cornered in between self created confining walls and feel stuck because we carry a heavy baggage of all sorts of guilt, shame, or fear that keep one in place. So, then what do we do?

Well…. Maybe you cannot totally “undo” a previous incident, but there is a smart way to go about it if you have exhausted all other resources to rectify. You can learn your lesson, forgive yourself, minimize the importance of the whole event, and water down the intensity of any corresponding negative feelings. Time can surely heal, but things may drag. It’s more empowering to speed up the process, assume control and lift up your own spirits. Here is one sure way derived from NLP techniques to help you “re-do” what can’t be undone. It makes use of humor and visual minimization. We all know that humor can be a good coping mechanism to deal with difficulty. And we unknowingly and un-deliberately use both minimization and humor to deal with many tough realities. The following exercise combines both in a much more concentrated effort when the need arises.

Imagine yourself sitting all alone in a cinema holding in your hand a remote control that starts a movie on a big screen in front of you. You can control when the movie starts, stops, and play some scenes forward or backward. You can similarly control the sound, color, how fast the scenes go, and even the size of the image. This cinema is the “change workplace”. As you sit there, start playing the episode of that phobic or distressing situation. Watch it all happen slowly. You may experience some discomfort, but that’s Okay. Let it wash over you for the last time. If the anguish is too intense (in cases of phobias), stop the scene, rewind and play it again until you’re able to watch it all through. Tell yourself: “I need to face this for the last time”. When you succeed, stop and re-play the scene backward to the start. Watch it all in reverse (you or others talking or walking backward, etc…).

Next, run the movie from start really fast this time up to the critical moment (taking only a second or two); then run it backward as fast again. Do it a couple of times (i.e. fast forward and backward). The final stage is that of intervention and “re-doing”. Play the scene forward shrinking the image in size till it becomes the size of a postage stamp towards the end. Do this a second time playing forward adding some humor. You can insert the sound of some circus music in the scene and/or make the voices of you or others talking really funny. Add the voices of other spectators laughing as if watching a comedy sitcom while clowns jump around in funny maneuvers. Shrink the scene again as you play it forward. Repeat the same process playing it backward then forward as fast as you can until you feel that your worries greatly diminished and faded away.

When you think about the situation now, you won’t find it as disturbing or fearful as it was earlier. And if there are still any major residues, smooth it over by playing around that movie some more each time adding funny things and fading the colors and the size of the scene. The shift in your new experienced feelings will simply be magical. “Redoing” the episode this way will make you feel lighter and alters your state from that of bemoaning to owning a change in course. Why not save your time, attention, and energy to focus away from that experience and build new positive bridges. Whatever you nurture grows much bigger in size just as a shadow is of any respective object. And you need to accept that some “stains” are difficult to “undo”, and it is much easier to throw a garment than to dispose of our self-image. And unless you decide to let go, and actively shrink that memory, you will remain disempowered and stagnate. Active self-healing may be necessary to speed up the process of discounting the perils of a gloomy past episode, so better not rely only on time to do the work.


Contain Your Anger (for a while)

Life can throw us in the gutter sometimes when we least deserve it. It makes us prone to lose our temper specifically when we face injustice, shocking news, spitefulness, grave disappointments, or acts of malice by others. We may differ in reacting to such predicaments. Some of us just shake our heads in disbelief and turn our negative emotions inward; some others display their anger openly demanding corrective action on the spot. It might be helpful sometimes to dramatize our reaction to an extent. This is how we set your boundaries so others wouldn’t cross them (e.g. reacting directly to an insult in a mild way). At other times, there’s more to gain than to lose if we suppressed our anger for a while before reacting. I am not suggesting we bottle up our anger (a lot of harm can ensue in doing that). Just contain it a little and channel it properly.

Usually, our first spontaneous reaction in fury is most regrettable. Our problem may compound exponentially. This is because we have a clouded vision and blurry reasoning. The “count to ten” before reacting rule is set specifically for such reasons. You may be tempted to say “hell! I can’t help it. I don’t want to suppress the anger! It would seep in other covert ways!” But consider the alternative. If your anger was towards a person, you can lose the battle if you give your anger free reign especially if that other person has more power over you (e.g. an authority figure like your boss or your parent). The prospects of unpleasant consequences can be inevitable. You can boil inside, but it’s best to control yourself and consider how to best respond. Give your opponent a blank stare with a mild expression of your in-appreciation of what’s going on, ask to discuss the situation at another time (come up with an excuse for why not now), and then off you go to a place where you can unleash your anger as you give the situation some thoughtful consideration.

In your quiet place, start off by dissecting the conditions. You need to carefully plan, carefully phrase what you will say next, and carefully reflect on your options. Ask yourself: “what advice can I give my best friend if s/he were in a similar situation?” As you do, you may find that you are still fuming in anger and need to discharge it somehow. You’ve probably heard of venting out pent up anger through sports, screaming in a remote place, or simply engaging in a relaxation technique. Here’s yet another tool you can use if you want to be in more control of your situation and win over whoever made you angry.

Still, in your quiet place, take deep breaths and engage in mental combat with your rival. Imagine that you are in a boxing ring punching your adversary in the face. Clench your fists and move them with each blow as you live the fight in your mind’s eye. Keep breathing forcefully in and out. Beat your rival repeatedly in the face while s/he becomes too weak to fight back. Tell yourself “The more I hit, the more I take my revenge; and the more I discharge my anger”. There ….. you get more and more relaxed as your opponent finally totter and crumple to the ground. You feel all too exhausted from this anger display and release. Down your opponent goes, but up goes your sense of victory. Tell yourself: “I win! I win you #@#*! And I am very satisfied and relaxed now” Relive the moments of triumph. Change scene and contemplate further solutions to handling your situation. You’ll find plenty now that you are more empowered. Repeat the punching and winning with every option you consider. This will further release any residue frustration.

Some final tips: In considering the scenario of your confrontation, you need to have a bird’s eye view of the whole picture. Now that you got your revenge, attempt to see the situation from your opponent’s perspective, attack the problem not the person, talk about how “you feel” and what it means to you, address multiple solutions, and find middle grounds of agreement (i.e. negotiate to make it a win-win situation). Careful planning of how you handle the situation can make all the difference. Just like you won that imaginary boxing fight in that ring, you can win gracefully in reality. You have equipped yourself with a clearer vision. You would have contained your anger for a while, found a healthier way to vent it out, and planned well your battle. And it’s not whether you can contain your anger or not. It’s whether you want to. And you’d want to remain in control until you mobilize your inner resources, right? You need to turn things round for your own benefit, don’t you?


Waiting Out The Storm

“To fight the storm may not be the wisest decision and by no means is it surrender when you wait it out” so I told myself just recently. That’s how I self-pacified as I found myself battling external forces beyond my control. You see, I am a “big picture” person who’s also a fan of goal setting. I get to achieve a lot by designing baby steps to reach my final objectives. I had earlier formulated some plans to grow professionally during the summer. Lo and behold, those plans were consistently obstructed; thus, got detoured. I was thrown off balance as I found myself drowning in arranging outings for the kids, meeting up with friends who came to visit from abroad, and getting involved in numerous other social obligations that usually intensify during the season. There I was involved in the plans of others; not my own. I was fighting and resisting just keeping up with meeting my own deadlines. It felt as if I was struggling in a storm of opposing forces pushing and pulling me astray. The fight drained all my energy; thus, leading me to feel entirely frustrated.

 I had to step back and revisit my agenda. It makes no sense to keep grappling for something at the expense of other equally important endeavors. It’s futile to expend all that effort and choke under my own pressure when it’s not the right time. It’s brilliant that I aim for the stars, but so what if I miss. I can still hit the moon and then aim at the stars again. Why would I need to be too dogmatic and strictly abide by any schedule when there’s a need to pause for a reality check? Why not reorganize and reassess my agenda? When the circumstances are all too powerful, flexibility is a sign of strength, not surrender, isn’t it? All storms in due course subside; and the sun shines again. I can then easily swift into my routines and stay on track of plans. I’ll have to be content with whatever I can achieve when the surrounding conditions are beyond my control.

 When you think about it, this resolution can be generalized to many other life situations we face. If we consider implementing most decision, good timing is a highly contributing factor to their success. For instance, would it be a good idea to approach a fumingly angry person for a favor? Consider your desire to quit your job amidst unemployment. Would it be the best idea if that job supported your living expenses at the time? You certainly would not leave on your arranged vacation if your best friend just got devastated at losing a loved one, would you? As long as we maintain a clear picture of what needs to be done and don’t defer it repeatedly on our agenda, rescheduling is more sensible when the going gets tough. It does not imply ditching our aspirations, nor does it mean we lost the battle. We just wait for better moments in time to carry out certain choices. Again, “to fight the storm may not be the wisest decision and by no means is it surrender when you wait it out. Action is best during the right climates.” ~ 3Ds


Talk To The Chair!!!!

Doesn’t it just irritate you when you try to make a point to someone and all your arguments fall on deaf ears? You feel so un-listened to and some, in a humorous way, would even tell you: “Talk to the hand” as you advise, give your point of view, or otherwise. Many relationship problems quickly soar when one or both parties would not listen well enough. It happens all the time between friends, parents and their children, husband and wife, and even colleagues at the workplace. Each would be engaged in mental rehearsals of certain arguments to shoot on when the other person pauses. The end result is grave misunderstandings, anger, resentment, or anguish especially if the issue being discussed is rather serious.

 What we need to pay attention to is that despite differing in opinion, there’s a kernel of truth in both party’s point of view. One that seeps unnoticed or remains invalidated during discussions. The ineffective communication may reach a deadlock and naturally frustration can ensue. Many scenarios may follow: the infamous silent treatment, escalated conflict, or other drastic negative measures undertaken by either party. So how are we to effectively deal with all the negative feelings before things compound to that extent?

 Instead of “talking to the hand”, in therapy, there is a procedure called talk to “the empty chair”. It is used to soften the client’s anger or resentment towards the stressor (i.e. source of stress). Anyone can use it when there is disagreement to gain clarity, alleviate the grudges, and modify off-putting behavior. Try it yourself if you may. Simply, all you need to do is sit in a room and face an empty chair. Imagine that the person you have a disagreement with is sitting on that chair. The baggage you have has to be unloaded; the rage needs to be released. Tell that person your point of view all over again. Let it all out. Don’t leave anything unsaid (even it was harsh). You don’t need to act out your anger. Say things in a calm manner as if trying to persuade that person once more. Experience the feelings you have. Make your conversation as detailed as possible. This process will help you understand yourself and your attitude better.

 When you’re done, switch chairs: sit in that empty chair and face the seat you were sitting in. Now imagine that you are that person and start replying in that person’s logic to your previous conversation. See the situation in that person’s eyes; use the reasoning that person has. Exhaust all the arguments that s/he would want to say in response. Similarly, engage that person’s feelings, and fully express his/her point of view taking all the time necessary to gain clarity. Find if there is any good or bad will, reasons, ignorance, or shortcomings. Acknowledge out loud all these on behalf of the person.

 You, lastly, need to change seats again. This time, choose a new seat; different than the first two. Take on the role of an observer and start recalling the previous two conversations. What would an observer say about those interactions; and how can the two points of view be reconciled? Give advice on how better to handle the disagreement/situation. Do the best you can to be objective. It can be difficult, but doable.

 Finally, go back to your original seat and face that empty chair again. Start arguing about your point of view. You’ll find that it comes with less intense negative emotions. There still is disagreement, but trust that next time you converse with that person for real, the flow of the conversation will be much different, less intense, and more understanding. You were in his/her shoes and will be better prepared, more convincing, and more in control to handle the opposing arguments.

   One more tip on how to crown your point of view with success: persuasion works best when you start off with the other’s point of view (and after that exercise, you know it really well). Say first what they would normally say, and then refute it. This is how you get the other party’s attention. They get to really listen when they hear their own logic to; then slide in your point of view. Eventually you’ll find that instead of being given the “talk to the hand”, your chances to score rise drastically. So next time you disagree with someone, and you really want to win, why not go “talk to the chair” first?

The Omnipotence of Self-talk

As you read these lines, don’t you hear your own voice in a whisper like tone echoing behind your eyeballs? Most probably you do; and it is not deliberate. You’re always engaged in self-talk and despite this being a characteristic of your mental chatter, you seldom monitor it or pay attention to. This is the way you think. That voice creates your inner idiosyncratic world; so private no one knows what’s going on in there.

 HOW ABOUT WHEN YOU READ THESE LINES NOW?? WITH ALL THE LETTERS WRITTEN IN CAPITALS?? DID THE TONE OF THAT VOICE INCREASE IN VOLUME SOMEHOW? I bet it did. The tone of your self-talk changes volume all the time. Similarly, the type of language you use varies. Like it or not, your mind is constantly buzzing with thoughts and ideas. Your internal dialogue is quite a phenomenon of the mind; however, it is a double edged sword. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It steers your emotions and is the commander in chief of your behavior. Let me elaborate.

Think for a moment about a time when you did a grave mistake. Did you drone in endless self-reprimand? Did your self-talk resemble barking orders at yourself like an angry mother whose child had just dreadfully misbehaved? What sort of language did you use? How did that make you feel? Guilty as hell, right? Words like “Shame on you” and other inflammatory accusations could ignite a sense of being a failure. Invective language can swallow your self-esteem. How can you later be confident in anything you do? This activates a cycle of hesitation and inadequacy in dealing with the new.

 Now, can you recall a time when you applauded yourself on a job well done? You probably used affirmative language recounted in the sweetest cheerful, even, sexiest tone ever. Your positive self-talk compounded your feelings of triumph till you were full to the brim. This process may have sent waves of euphoria to the rest of your body till you were ecstatically numb. And what a feeling! What a state to experience! It gives you an impetus towards further action. Now you’re full of yourself; more confident in doing the right things.

These are but few examples to demonstrate the influence of your inner voice on your feelings. Your emotions are so tied up to your self-talk; and consequently so are your actions. You not only engage in external battles with opponents or situations; you top it up by internal mental battles between thoughts that may sway you in disperse directions. There’s a dialogue running in your head constantly and it ranges from minor assessments of what you or others do, to making all sorts of decisions. You internally speak the ideas roaming in your head. You tell yourself what to do or how to do it. Your internal dialogue can focus your attention narrowly or makes you open to a world of new possibilities. It can cripple you dead, or serve you well.

 Your self-talk makes you an almighty human being. Change your inner dialogue when you’re feeling down and your mood changes. To err is human, but you don’t need to keep whipping yourself for something past and done. “Note taken, I’ll learn from it” and then move on….. If you aspired to keep empowering yourself, you need to be a master of your thoughts. Change your language and be gentle with yourselves before your self-criticism escalates into self-destruction. And when negative self-talk seeps in, refuse to empower it by denying it further energy. Stop, and change that detrimental chitchat.

 If you hadn’t before, start paying attention to that inner voice of yours. Befriend it and use it as a tool to appease you, guide you, and pull you towards progress. After all, self-hypnosis lies squarely on such self-talk. It’s what you want to become that you tell yourself. It’s the new “to be created you” that you converse about. And you don’t have to be hypnotizing yourself to change your inner language to affirmative statements. Just practice positive self-talk until it becomes an iron-clad ritual that works for yo; not against you.

Enjoy the Price Tag of Success: Keep Raising The Bar

“Success”…. Big word …. It can connote minor achievements like eliminating a bad habit, finding the right career, or even working out a good relationship to victory or recognition in a broader sense. It is true success can be a twist of fate sometimes, but mostly it characterizes the hardy ones. Those who plan, persist, take action, are focused, and constantly revise and ameliorate their strategies. It is a culmination of passion to what is being done. It typifies those who are determined to run the extra mile; those who endure the hardship and surpass the challenges. They resist being sidelined and refuse to live on the margins. They’re out there on a mission; determined to make a difference. And when they do claw their way to the top, it feels so good, but could it come at no repercussions? Probably not…..

You see, there’s a high price for success (a downside) despite its entire lure. To make it, the hard work entails incurring a physical tax and some psychological drainage. This is one reason why many would want to “play it safe” and not engage in the battle. Let’s consider those who become really noticed (i.e. prominent figures in their field, celebrities, etc…). They eventually become a smoking hot topic in circulation. They are either admired (by the mature), or resented (by the jealous). The latter category represents an additional toll. Successful people raise the bar; hence, become easy targets of envy, attacks, and undermining. If others are unable/don’t want to catch up with similar standards, they downplay the successful achievement by ignoring, searching for pitfalls and flaws, or vilifying. Those are considered the typical “kill-joy”.

Does that mean you give up attempts to thrive (even at minor matters)? Avoid all these costs? “To fly we have to have resistance” Maya Lin once said. Expect the “price tag” and along the way, take care not fall off the cliff edge. Keep in mind 3 detrimental expenses that can befall the unwary heading the path of great accomplishments: your relationships, your health, and your sanity:

 – Your relationships: Embrace those who admire you and don’t drift by deceit or arrogance. They look up to you as a leading example. Deal with those who envy you. Either ignore them as the nuisances coming with the new package, or team them up on your side. You can transform the battle from being combative to more cooperative strata.

–  Your health: Monitor your physical health routinely (take time to refuel). Too much hard work and focus can make you lose sight of bodily symptoms warnings. You need to intermittently fan the flames of your passion; and this only works if you’re physically fit to endure the battle. When signs of “strain” are not attended to, it can result in “burn-out”.

Your sanity: Above all keep your sanity in check. Emotional exhaustion from leading the battle can bleed you dry. You feel you want to chisel your success in stone, but fear of losing the achievement can enslave you; and the constant attacks can get to you. Resist attempts at isolation to escape it all. Expect, analyze, and arm yourself with insight at how things go and how best to cope. Make time for enjoyable activities and ask for a laugh here or there.

Lastly, with the above in mind, you don’t need to stay standing at the edge of life just because there’s a price tag to succeeding. Re-interpret the price of success from “paying” or “enduring” to “enjoying” the ride. The attraction is still out there. It still brings you a lot of satisfaction and admiration by the mature type. You’re a role model, an inspiration and a leader with many followers. Hard work cannot seep unnoticed. Yes…. Be there…. Illicit a “WOW! I want to be like that!” Keep raising the bar. And remember: “A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.” ~ David Brinkley. So, where do you want to make your mark?

Stopping to Refuel!

I am currently running a three month Parental Coaching workshop that tackles various effective parenting skills to a group of mothers. The first session topic was devoted mainly to daily refueling (of course coupled with weekly special booster sessions). To overcome feeling inundated that comes with the package of being a parent, these mothers needed to know the necessity of recharging their batteries daily. Wouldn’t driving a car require you to stop for a refuel? Well, we do too; and that applies not just to parenting, but to all the endeavors we handle ranging from small daily routines to more demanding tasks.

 The fast pace era we live in is moving at a dizzying speed. Many of us, and without notice, have this tendency to burn our body and mental fuel close to being empty. We assume that by sleeping we get that rest we need, but that only replenishes our physical drain. What about our depleted mental and emotional capacities. Think about it… how can you give what you don’t have (i.e. attention or love)? Only internal focus can project outwardly; only loving yourself builds your ability to love others…..

  Refueling can take on different forms; and many satisfy it through different means (and maybe without a conscious thought). Here is what some efficient and productive people would do:

 –       Wake up early and have sometime alone: By far, this is the most effective method for a recharge. It helps you plan the day ahead and become focused on what to resolve. A fifteen minutes time alone can help you take stock of your direction.

–       Incorporate exercise in your routines: Exercise has a magical effect on your mood over and above your physical health. One hour is equivalent to a “Prozac” pill and guarantees your ability to face the many challenges you might face.

–       Give yourself sporadic space during the day: It doesn’t help so much to stay “on the go”. Pause a bit before jumping to that next meeting, or that next thing on your agenda. You need to be mentally prepared and focused especially when getting down to brass tacks.

–       Treat yourself with occasional pampering: This is what I meant by weekly booster sessions. Where do you find yourself most relished? Do something off the usual routine. Something you really like, but can’t squeeze the time for daily. It could be getting a massage, watching a funny movie, or simply meeting a friend who makes you feel good about yourself.

–       Plan a vacation: It keeps you going to know that you have an allotted lengthier space to catch your breath. “Dangle a carrot”, a big reward, for all you want to accomplish. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just a plan to spend your time your own way…

 There are many other simple and brief ways we can insert during the day like taking deep breaths, laugh about something, listening to music, taking a relaxing bath, etc…choices are varied if we just take time to find these. When you don’t stop to refuel, you’ll find yourself adrift in life and eventually will be dragging your heels whilst everything seemingly hitting the fan. You can become a nervous wreck, risk your health, and be a grump that no one tolerates. Don’t give in to that autopilot of yours. Take the lead and relax a bit. It’s an active choice. If you don’t do it, no one else will do it for you. So, what would be your favorite refueling method? Take the steps today without delay…..


Do You Want FOCUS? Try The “Mini Hulk” Exercise!

It has been said that around 65,000 thoughts cross our minds daily. It is no wonder, then, that we find many ideas wondering about in our psyche each calling for attention. Some of these seep into conscious awareness and succeed in being recognized; others just creep up to the surface and then retreat unnoticed. Normally you wouldn’t mind it, but if you’re pressed with time to have a specific mental task done, you find that the more you toss away irrelevant thoughts, the more they forcefully fly back. What needs to take an hour, is now consuming two. You can’t concentrate and that gets you more inundated. You may have too many things on your plate and there’s no running away from multi-tasking. You keep thinking of the next things you need to be doing, but you still haven’t finished what you’re working on. Whether you’re down the wire, or not, it is total absorption in an endeavor that differentiates those who are efficient from those who are not. They have insurmountable “focus”; always at the heart of what they do. So how can you stop this mental chatter?

 Here is an exercise I offer my students to help them through the drudgery of studying for multiple exams. You can use it for any other time consuming project that necessitates you to be both fast yet efficient in your mental capacities. The exercise takes you about 8 to 10 minutes, but it could save you hours of inefficiency. I use the analogy of the well proclaimed “Incredible Hulk” hero. You might have read about him in the comic magazines, or seen the movie. It’s about this scientist who upon trying to experiment accidentally becomes subject to radiation. Eventually, whenever his body is highly aroused, he gradually transforms into a green hulk with omnipotent physical powers. You need to have such mental invincible powers that render you all-too focused. No distractions; only full mastery and time efficiency. Why not make time to play a bit before the hard work? Let’s start:

 Sit in your work area and start visualizing that you are about to deploy and attract the entire world’s energy through the top of your head. That’s right…take it easy…. Focus… It’s all coming to you from different directions….pouring…. filling you up with green energy….That’s it…. You’re filling up from your toes, going up your legs, knees, thighs, up to your abdomen, chest, and spreading to your arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and up to your face. Your color has changed into green radiating energy and now you start transforming slowly…Each part of your body is growing and specifically your mind has doubled in size. It became immune to any noise’ and hears only the sound of your firm voice speaking affirmatively. Things like:

–          I will start now on this task and will stop only when I consciously decide to.

–          I have total focus on this and will be wading my way through with utmost energy.

–          I have put away all distractions (my mobile, my computer, turned off the landline phone, etc…). So, my internal force is the guiding hub for action now.

–          I will be doing a great job in having this done perfectly, in no time, and will have full mastery over this.

 Tailor your self-talk to the specific task you’re handling and keep talking. Imagine further that you have shut the doors to any extraneous thoughts that do not serve what you’re working on. Are these doors locked? Look at you…..Now you are the “Mini Hulk” and you can have that full focus you need. You have gong-ho pace and kick-ass energy. Start working on what you set your mind on doing.

 Take your time to do this mental exercise and then assess your focus. You’ll see the difference. You can also condition yourself to be in that state without taking those 8 – 10 minutes later on. In neuro-linguistic programming, it’s called “anchoring” yourself. That means, as you repeat the exercise a number of times, give yourself a pat on the shoulder at the end of each ritual (alternatively you can choose to say any word or statement you like; for instance I am a “Mini Hulk”). Simply associating that pat on the shoulder or that statement repeatedly at the end of the exercise would make a link in your mind. When you will it, and in no time at all, just give yourself that pat; and alone it would render you in that invincible state of focus without having to go through the process. It just needs some practice. Many of my students have implemented this exercise and reaped the benefits. Call it an investment. I call it a gift for all of you; would you turn it away?


How Am I Supposed to Handle “Hypocrites”?

You are, indeed, blessed when life hands you the right kind of supportive people who get you all enlightened, validated, or nourished. But, like it or not, you may bump repeatedly with mere hypocrites. If you’re the tough-minded type, you wouldn’t easily let them off the hook. You may openly defy their emotional blackmail and confront them with the truths you observe. But what happens if you’re the overly sensitive type. You abide by societal etiquettes that require you to continually swallow your observations? Your personal standards dictate gentle interpersonal dealings. You’d tell yourself: “let others discover the hypocrisy just as I did” (maybe let them quell the lies for you). But then what? It just irritates you that you have to keep tolerating the deceit. Hypocrites have been preying on my mind lately; and I am having difficulty dealing with them. I am just saddened by the idea of being lied to. I might as well write about it to gain some clarity. Maybe in the process I get to reduce their harrowing effects.

 Let’s see: The dictionary defines a hypocrite as “a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives”. It’s not those diplomatic well-meaning people that will be referred to here; rather, the malicious type who continually live a big lie to portray a good image. They intentionally or not neglect to practice what they preach (i.e. their actions contradict their declared beliefs). They hide the truth for having motives that are either unappreciated by others (could be hidden agendas), or that they don’t feel so proud of to start with. It seems to me as if they underestimate that others are bright enough to figure out their pretense. They live by double standards; and to reduce their internal arising conflict, they cleverly self-rationalize this duality by providing all sorts of justifications. But, would this defense mechanism succeed in zeroing-out the precipitating imbalance? Would it eliminate the emerging inner anxiety? My belief is probably not. They will remain in an ongoing battle to protect their charade. I wonder if they get too drained to persist, or if they ever anticipate for the predictable moments of being discovered. 

 What about you at the receiving end of being bombarded with unsolicited lies? Our natural tendency is to start avoiding these people especially if honesty is a guiding cherished principal in our lives. As impractical as it is, some of these hypocrites are woven into your most intimate connections (i.e. could be family members, colleagues on the job, or even members of your own circle of acquaintances). By now, you know them too much; and when they get going with the “parade”, it feels to you that you want to grab out your daggers and stab their lies to death. But, no; the caring sensitive type can’t allow that. You resist the urge of descending to lower levels of dealing; you want to keep rising to higher standards of ethical conduct. To you, ignoring them might be the right thing to do; and how many times do we choke by having to do the “right thing”? Sometimes it sounds like too much pressure. Are you to lash out and bend your rules some time? Hmmmm! that seems tempting and you’ve got good reasons to do that. Gees! These people keep invading your territory. They walk all over you!

Giving it a good thought, I’m inclined to stick to my guns. They press my buttons, but let me keep doing what I believe as the “right thing”. Let me use some self-affirmations. Something like:

  • Dania, wait! Suspend your judgment. Are you basing your observations on assumptions or on repeated and well demonstrated action / declared belief discrepancy? Re-visit your stance EVERY time.
  •  If I do find such discrepancy, understand well where it comes from. These people might just be covering up something embarrassing to protect you, others, or themselves. They could have good intentions after all, so keep your eyes open to find the good core in people (even in those hypocrites themselves).
  •  Don’t let their prevalence keep you on your toes when you deal with well-meaning others. The “good guys” and the “not so good guys” inspire us alike.
  • Let’s keep our hopes high in their coming to terms with their true self. Life can be made much simpler if we just acted naturally.
  • Let us tiptoe through the minefields of their insecurities and ignorance while being alert to not being coaxed into their hidden agendas.
  • They are “small stuff”; let’s focus on more worthy pursuits.
  • Let’s persevere in being sincere. Be the good example; maybe by observation they get that “wake-up” call.
  • They are here to teach us a lesson. Think of many good reasons for why they exist in your life. Refine your life skills and exercise your patience.

 It’s amazing how my disgust subsides as I state what I can do to manage their inevitable presence in my life. See, I can still disagree without being disagreeable. Eventually, these hypocrites will realize that the masks they wear are transparent and people can actually see through. Their masks wear out. If they don’t shape up, they will look around one day to find themselves living in total isolation. Give them ground to discover on their own the serenity of being true. Shrug it off! You can’t teach them. They’ll have to learn it on their own from you…..  



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