I am STILL under the spell of a dishwasher (detergent?) commercial from several years ago. I looked and could not find it out on YouTube or anywhere, but it's very easy to visualize. I think....it was KitchenAid? Can't remember the product, but I sure remember the message!!!
They did a nifty swish pattern. Essentially the bulk of the commercial was comprised of several cutaway shots, one of a dishwasher, one of a woman leaning back against her countertop. When the dishwasher shot was up, the narrator said "This is a dishwasher." When the shot moved to the woman, the voice said, "This is not." They switched back and forth, with the voiceovers, several times--at least 3, maybe more (I wish I could find that video!). Essentially, a visual swish pattern.
This is not
It has stuck with me. Much to my husband's chagrin, I stubbornly try to get anything that will fit into that dishwasher and minimize hand washing dishes as much as possible, and that commercial always pops into my head with a feeling of "justification" every time!
Just one example (and one I'm AWARE of) where good NLP/hypnotic principles have been used effectively to change my thoughts/moods and (a little bit) of my behavior. I'll say I didn't care for hand washing before, but now I feel more strongly polarized about that position!
Be on the look out. Any one who nay-says the effectiveness of hypnosis/NLP should be aware that Madison Avenue has embraced these concepts fully, because they DO work. How are your behaviors, feelings, thoughts, attitudes, being influenced? (They call it "influence." Would you call it "manipulation?")
Well, it's almost November, and November's teleseminar is on overcoming perfectionistic tendencies.
In October, our teleseminar was on creating greater "follow-through" in your life, and we discussed the "gates" you need to pass through to be sure that when you say yes to a new project or any commitment to yourself or others, that you have the best chance of following through to completion. We discussed the reasons why that's important for you, and then anchored the new behavior of following through with a 30 minute hypnosis session. If you missed that teleseminar, log into your Hypnosis Club membership and listen in anytime, the replay is there waiting for you!
In November, we're going to tackle perfectionism.
Perfectionism is one of those character traits that people can create identities around. They tend to not only own, but "become" the trait. Listen to the language that you normally hear, or perhaps use yourself. You'll hear, "I AM a perfectionist." You've probably heard me talk about language before, and the suggestions that you're creating for your subconscious mind all the time--you are, as the saying goes, your own best hypnotist. Is there anything wrong with saying, "I am a perfectionist"? If perfectionism in your life is carried to the degree where it causes problems, then you may want to rethink your language, and the trait's role in your life. Separate your identity from the behavior. Say, I have perfectionistic tendencies. Separating who you ARE from character traits and behaviors opens up the possibility in your mind that those behaviors can be changed, and it's a good first start to reframing perfectionism in your life.
Are there good things about being a perfectionist? Of course. EVERYTHING has its good side and its bad side. Duality is the nature of the universe. Examine any trait and you'll see benefits on one side, costs on the other; strengths on the one hand, weaknesses on the next. The question of when to make a change lies in which side the coin is falling for you. Is perfectionism under control in your life? If so, you may experience the benefits of being confident in your work, setting an example for others, and being known as the detail-oriented one. If not, you may find that your perfectionism creates problems for you, or for others around you.
As with so many things, it's not the trait itself, but the degree to which its being expressed in your life, that matters. Perfectionism over-the-top and out of control will create problems for you and for others around you.
What types of problems can perfectionism, run amok, create?
1. You tend to do things yourself. Whether out of fear that someone else will mess it up, or from being convinced that you can do it better, you tend not to delegate, at home or at work or both.
The cost to you: You take on too much yourself and end up feeling overwhelmed, asking yourself, "why am I the one that does everything?" This may lead to anger and resentment which can too easily be focused on others for not living up to your standards. Not the best way to build a team, whether in a family or work environment.
The cost to others: By taking everything on yourself, you claim not only the work but the glory. This does not empower others to have the feeling of responsibility, the joy of completion, and the glory of being the one to complete the project, or the learning experience of messing something up and having to fix it (which is actually when the human brain learns the best). And if this is a parent-child relationship, you're on your way to creating the next generation of perfectionists.
Try instead: Give the task to someone else, and separate your judgement from what's really necessary for satisfactory completion. Recognize that other people have their own style of doing things, and that while theirs may differ from yours, different does not equal inferior.
2. You take longer to complete projects. Perhaps you miss deadlines or run right up to the deadline. Or if there's no real deadline, you never get started, all because you're working to make it "perfect." One more round of editing, one more checking of the figures, etc.
The cost to you: If this happens at work, you may be selected less often for completing projects, if you develop a reputation for handing in things that are late or barely on time, which makes others nervous, especially when other actions or decisions hinge on what you're working on. In many things, "done" is better than perfect, and keeps the ball rolling.
The cost to others: When others' work is waiting on yours, there is a cost in terms of efficiency and quality. If you run up to the deadline on your piece, or past it, then hand it over to the next person, they may not have the time to do their job as well as they might have. The overall quality of the project can suffer. Also, it's frustrating to others to be waiting on your piece.
Try instead: take the attitude that "done" is often better than "perfected." Recognize that you frequently don't know what needs perfecting until something is in use anyway, because you need that real-world feedback to tell you what's really required, so by getting a project "out there" to get that real world feedback, you're very likely reducing unnecessary re-work. Ready-fire-aim.
3. You get stuck in "analysis paralysis." You spend so much time analyzing the perfect way to do something that you never really get started, or you get stuck at some point and can't seem to find your way clear to move on with it; the anxiety created by the need to do it perfectly freezes you.
The cost to you: Unfinished projects or unrealized goals, whether personal or business, are costly. You don't realize the benefits of a goal left unfinished, plus you may create a pattern for yourself of unfinished projects, which is damaging to your self esteem.
The cost to others: If others were waiting for the project or goal to be completed, they will have to find another person to fill your role, or do it for you, or abandon the outcome. If it's a work project, you may find yourself being viewed negatively.
Try instead: Some of the tips for follow through work well here. Analysis paralysis often happens when you conceptualize the project as a whole. Break it down into smaller chunks so that you don't get stalled mulling over a stage 10 issue when you're still working on stage 3.
4. You may take an "all or nothing" view of the world. For example, if you go on a diet or health program, if you "mess up" around lunch time, you figure you may as well mess up the rest of the day (and sometimes spectacularly, just to drive the point home). This is also known as Dichotomous Thinking; this or that ... success OR failure, no in-between.
The cost to you: This unbalanced view creates unrealistic expectations for you, and you find yourself self-criticizing, even when your performance would be considered adequate or even commendable by others.
The cost to others: Because your sense of self-worth is often (or constantly) being assaulted from within, your mood and attitude suffer and others in your life feel it. You may tend toward depression or anxiety. Others are less able to enjoy your company, whether that be co-workers, spouses, or children.
Try instead: A concept from neurolinguistic programming (NLP), that there is NO SUCH THING AS FAILURE...only feedback. By eliminating one half of the success-failure equation, you eliminate the possibility of dichotomous thinking, because you eliminate the elements of the dichotomy. We will be doing a tele seminar on the basic tenets of NLP in the future, but for now, consider the ramifications of this very different way of thinking. The human brain learns BEST when it makes mistakes and then corrects them (feedback). Your life and all your outcomes are a result of your actions. So if you want different results you need to take different actions, but how do you know how to change your actions? From the feedback you receive, aka, your result. By characterizing results that are less than you desired as "failures," you prevent yourself from learning from them and making better choices and therefore getting better results in the future. Not a very perfect system, is it? By thinking of these results instead as FEEDBACK OPPORTUNITIES, you have the ability to fine-tune your actions and hone your approach so that you get better and better results--a policy of personal continual improvement. So, no such thing as failure, only feedback. This eliminates dichotomous thinking by eliminating the dichotomy and empowers you to learn from the results you achieve through your actions, which is what the human brain is wired to do best.
If you recognize yourself, or someone near to you in these examples, there is hope. You CAN learn to bring your perfectionistic tendencies into line so that you experience the benefits and NOT the dark side of perfectionism, and as a result experience more joy in your life!
In the next post we'll start to look at ways you can start to chip away at perfectionism, and in our teleseminar we'll anchor new attitudes using hypnosis and NLP. Because perfectionism often does begin in childhood due to the example of a parent, one-on-one hypnotherapy should be considered to release those past events that are driving self-criticism today, as well, as that type of regression work just can't be done in a group event or recording.
So mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 28th for our next Hypnosis Club teleseminar!
This is part of an ongoing series of audio interviews with clients of ChangeWorks Hypnosis Center, focusing on the work done and the results achieved.
It's my hope that hearing some past clients' experiences will help others to decide to get help for themselves. So often people with anxiety think there's nothing they can do, and that's simply not true. Your anxiety can be lessened or even eliminated, and you can discover a sense of personal control over how you feel.
Julie shares with us the techniques she uses and how she now knows that she can "choose how" she feels, after a "lifetime" of anxiety issues. Julie learned some NLP, and the ChangeWorks' OM technique for meditation, as well as doing 4 hypnosis sessions in the office.
I see lots of clients on a daily and weekly basis. They come for various reasons, but all of the reasons have one thing in common: to improve the quality of that person's life. Everyone I see I ask the question why now? Why have you come to me at this point in your life to create this change? For many people, the situation or behavior they want to change has been with them for a very long time. So I really want to know, why now? What is it that's pushing them to make the change today, when they could have chosen to change it last month, or last year or six years ago.
For some the answer is that they've been trying to change without success for all that time. ("Try" is "a contract with one's self to expend effort prior to giving up.") For some there's been a change, either internal or external, that's created an urgency to "do it now." But no one has ever said, "because it's part of my plan."
Creating a personal development plan
Do you have a plan? What is your image of what you will be like, what you want to be like, a year from now? Five, ten years from now? What do you want to be doing? More importantly, who do you want to BE? Because in order to DO what you desire, you first have to step into BEING that person. Say you want to own your own business three years from now. What knowledge, skills and personal characteristics will you need to do that successfully? How does the You of that future differ from the You of today? Where are the gaps? How will you fill those gaps? Without a plan, you are much more likely to fail--a plan not only for your business, but for yourself.
And it's not just about starting a business. Maybe you want to retire in five years. Or get married, or start a family, or move out of your parents' house or go to college. Every age and every stage of your life will be more fulfilling and successful when you have a plan.
The benefits of having a personal development plan
In case you're thinking, well, my life's been moving forward. I mean, I'm older and things have changed in my life--changed jobs, places to live, all without a plan. Why would I want to go to the effort of creating a plan for life? Won't life just happen?
Yes, it will. If you're not planning, life may happen TO you, though. Sure, sometimes you get the lucky break and things go your way. Having a plan or not having a plan doesn't alter the fact that you are talented, intelligent, creative and appreciated. Having a plan allows you to leverage those attributes to achieve a much greater outcome, though. So, here are what I see as the top five benefits of having a personal development plan.
1. Creating awareness.
I often say (and I don't think it originated with me), "all change begins with awareness." Creating a plan requires a fair amount of self reflection. As Socrates said, "Know thyself," in other words, become aware, become conscious. Through this process you will learn much more about yourself; your strengths, your areas of weakness (aka, "growth opportunities"), and your character.
Once you have awareness, you can proactively change yourself, molding yourself into the type of person you want to be. Whether that is to have more patience, or more ambition, or both, as you determine best to consciously create the life you want to live.
Think Socrates was perfect? Far from it. Once, as story has it, he visited a palm reader. Upon looking at his hands she declared that Socrates had "many undivine qualities," such as anger, lust and pride. Socrates followers were incensed but Socrates put up a hand and said, let's hear what else she has to say. The palm reader continued, "yes, you have these flaws, but you have them under complete control." Socrates had used his self-understanding to create self-discipline.
How many of the things that upset you on a regular basis are directly or indirectly because of your own "undivine qualities?" Perhaps you lack follow-through and never complete your projects. How would your life be different and better if you'd completed them? Perhaps in the past you've been quick to anger and you've alienated yourself from people who could help you in your life and endeavors. How would having your anger "under complete control" make your life different from this moment on?
2. Clarity of goals.
Lewis Carroll was a genius. Consider this dialogue from Alice in Wonderland:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Does life feel like this to you? Maybe at one point you had the beginnings of an idea of where you'd go in life, what you'd do, how it would feel, but then life itself got in the way. Decisions were made "for" you, by circumstance. Because you had never really charted a course, by the time you discovered you were off course you'd been so for quite some time. And because you'd never really charted a course, you didn't know what to do to get back on course, either.
Life's waters are more easily negotiated with a plan that gives your goals clarity, vision and detail. As I ask my clients, "how will you know when you've achieved this goal?" Sometimes that's easy, but oftentimes I am met by a blank stare and a dawning realization that they don't know what "success" looks like for them. Start asking yourself. From a clear picture of where you are going, you can create a clear set of action steps to get yourself there. No clear picture, and you'll be unsure of what to do now, what to do next, and whether what you have done/are doing is creating the effects that will help you reach your goals.
Or as Winston Churchill said, "He who fails to plan is planning to fail."
3. Alignment of goals with your values.
Here's one that can sneak up on you, if you haven't done the personal development work to be aware. I see lots of people who self sabotage themselves over and over while they "try" to reach for their goals. What they didn't realize is that the goal of their focus is in conflict with one of their cherished values. For example, the woman who wanted to become a public speaker-slash-event planner. She had dreams of taking it to the top, traveling the world inspiring others. But she kept procrastinating, not getting basic things done that would have lined her up for good gigs. She'd done the work to make herself a good public speaker with the potential to become great with experience. But she wasn't getting the experience because she'd miss deadlines. Turns out one of her most cherished values was family, and with two young children at home, her subconscious fear of leaving them to travel for up to half the weeks of the year was causing her to sabotage her own dreams.
Having the self knowledge of what your values are and how they line up with your goals gives you the ability to craft a solution that allows you to honor each. Being CONSCIOUS of this conflict, she was able to make decisions (the job of the conscious mind) that solved the problem. She realized it didn't have to be an either/or proposition. She could focus on speaking locally/regionally and then increasing the amount of travel as her children grew. During the summer she could even take her family with her when it made sense. So rather than missing all her deadlines for proposals to present, she had a conscious filter and she went after the gigs that worked for her on all levels.
4. Better decision making.
It's not that you aren't making decisions when you don't have a plan, but how do you know that the decisions are the right ones? I see a lot of people who have a tough time making decisions. They often delay making a decision until it's too late. You see, that's because from a subconscious point of view, that's "safe." If they don't make the decision to begin with, then they won't make the wrong decision and make a "mistake." So they let time and life "save" them from "failure" through indecision. They don't realize this consciously of course; it's all happening at the subconscious level. The conscious mind then finds reasons and justifications for the lack of action ("I had to wait for such and such to happen." "It's Joe's fault, if he had just done this or that then I would have known..."). This happens because we hate to be wrong. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance going on in this type of situation and the justification is made so that we can stop feeling it.
What's a better path? Having a plan, based on a proven model of success, so that you have a much better idea of what needs to be done and therefore make better decisions on a more timely basis. In a future post, I'll explain why NLP (neurolinguistic programming--the study of human excellence) is such a fantastic tool for this type of work.
Do you know you can take college courses on decision making? Decision Making was one of the courses I took for my master's program and honestly, it was my favorite! There's a LOT going on in good decision making. You can improve your life dramatically by focusing on developing your abilities in this area alone.
5. Continued growth, increased self confidence, self esteem, motivation and insight.
As you create a plan, you can also revise the plan. As you learn more about yourself and develop your abilities you will develop new areas of interest. As you succeed in achieving your goals by following your plan you become more and more confident in yourself, in your abilities, which in turn increases your self esteem. As they say, "success breeds success."
To err is human; to forgive yourself can be divine.
You know that voice inside your head, the one that gently (or not so gently) reminds you of what you should be doing to move toward your goals (get on that exercise bike! Start that book! Finish that report now so you can relax the rest of the weekend.) You know the voice, it's a kind of inner wisdom (or sometimes an inner nag, but you know that your life is better when you listen to it.)
What's your voice like? Is he or she gentle, or do you have an inner drill sergeant, telling you you're a maggot if you don't accomplish your task right NOW??? Do you get a friendly word, a helping hand, or a virtual smack to the back of the head?
Why does it matter?
Sometimes people think that the gentle approach is ineffective, that they NEED to have that drill sergeant hovering over their shoulders, or we're afraid we won't get things done.
But which way is really better? So often psychology studies show us how counter-intuitive our beliefs really are. Do we really respond best to self-bullying, or are we more likely to be motivated by a softer touch? Do you really get more flies with honey?
Don't mistake an inner bully for self discipline.
Let's say someone is trying to deal with a recent period of low self-confidence. Here are three ways the inner drill sergeant might deal with it:
Self-esteem boost: think about positive aspects of the self to boost confidence.
Positive distraction: think back to nice memories to create a distraction from the problem.
Self-compassion: think about the self with kindness and compassion, seeing the period of low self-confidence in context, without evaluating or judging it.
When psychological researchers tested these approaches they found that self-compassion was surprisingly powerful (Breines & Chen, 2012). In comparison to self-esteem boosting and distraction, this study found that self-compassion was most likely to help participants:
See the possibilities for change,
Increase the motivation to change,
Take steps towards making a change,
Compare themselves with those doing better, to help motivate their change. (Source: spring.co.uk)
Once again counter-intuitively, self compassion is not the wimpy, wishy-washy approach, but in fact has the most motivational ooomph. By allowing ourselves to be sympathetic and non-judgmental toward ourselves, we are able to move forward while avoiding damaging self-criticism.
This may be because self-compassion creates a more balanced way of responding to both failures in ourselves and difficult situations we find ourselves in.
Or as American author Eric Hoffer put it:
"Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless."
Not Getting Enough Physical Exercise can Reduce your Cognitive Abilities
There is no shortage of data out there that proves society as a whole needs to get their bodies moving. People of all ages seem to spend tons of time in front of the TV, exploring the internet, or playing video games (or writing blog posts...ummmm, yeah). We all know this can lead to obesity as well as zap the energy out of your body. However, most people don’t realize that a sedentary lifestyle can also reduce their cognitive abilities. This will be more evident as a person gets older.
When you engage in exercise your brain benefits because more blood will flow to that region. (Added note: smoking reduces blood flow & oxygen to the brain, by as much as 24%, also reducing cognitive abilities.) More energy is produced as additional waste in the body is removed. Those individuals that exercise on a regular basis have larger cerebral blood vessels (if you don't use it you lose it, if you do use it, it gets bigger & stronger, right?). It is believed that this is a key aspect of having a healthy brain at any age.
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise that you can take part in so that your cognitive abilities are their very best. It takes a great deal of concentration to learn yoga at first so don’t be discouraged. The more you practice it the more it will become a part of your thinking process. Then you can move into more advanced forms of yoga which will offer even more benefits for your thinking process.
It may surprise you to learn that the brain uses about 20% of the energy you consume each day. Just like with your body, the more you exercise it the more it will produce energy. If you feel that it is stressful to get through the day, to make decisions, and just to juggle all you have to think about then you need to change your approach. By getting enough physical exercise you will also be giving your brain the level of energy it needs to be on top of the game. Getting enough physical exercise will also give you better sleep, which is also critical for your brain's health.
What is also a connection is that many people that don’t get enough physical exercise actually talk themselves out of the task. They put it off until the very end of the day, making one excuse after another. The brain is a very guilty party in this type of decision making. However, when you do get physical exercise and your brain benefits from it, things appear in a new light.
Instead of helping you to make excuses and to find ways to avoid exercising your brain will tell you that you should exercise (you do hear that little voice, don't you?). It will encourage you to make time for it and to be proud of your efforts. Once you get to that point, engaging in physical exercise on a regular basis becomes second nature instead of a forced action that you take part in. And BTW, do something you ENJOY! Find an activity you look forward to. More chemicals that keep you happy will be produced as well so you can have a better attitude than before.
No matter how old you are or how little you currently exercise, you can make some significant improvements in your life. Start out with a commitment to exercise for 15 minutes every other day. Then slowly increase your time by 5 minute intervals until you are at 30 minutes. Then make the commitment to do those 30 minutes of exercise every day. Working up to it this way makes the goal more achievable and you won’t be overwhelmed along the way.
Make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes each day of exercise. If you have a very busy lifestyle, try to fit it in during the early morning hours. This way you won’t be blowing it off due to a lack of time later in the day. You will also have a great attitude to start the day. This is because you will know you already accomplished something great. There are enough types of exercises out there to take part in so you never have to waste your time doing those you don’t love.
Need to be reminded to get your exercise? Remind yourself using the nifty services of HassleMe.Co.UK. You set up a reminder ("Get on the treadmill today!) and how often you want to be reminded ("every 2 days") and provide the email address you want the reminder sent to and voila! You'll get your gentle (or not so gentle--entirely up to you) reminder. Try it out! http://www.hassleme.co.uk/