Most practitioners and even people who are casually exposed to NLP or Neurolinguistics Programming methods are often amazed by how impactful it is and how quickly change can be achieved. How does this happen and why? NLP is not just a single technique, but a whole set of techniques and tools that take into consideration how our brain and all of our senses work together to communicate and form our perception of both the world around us and the world within us. NLP was developed in the early 1970's by Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder. In the course of their studies they drew from the work of the best in a number of different disciplines taking into consideration what was most successful. They used the work of others and analyzed the results to come up with systems that do seem to work fairly reliably. In fact, neuroscience is now giving us the why's behind some of what has been working for a long time. NLP has been used, not just in psychology and counseling, but in many other fields where communication and relationships are important like sales, management, teaching and even entertainment. Tony Robbins uses it routinely in his work and speaking and many other motivational speakers, trainers, teachers, preachers and even politicians are quite expert in using it. It is usually used ethically with good intent, but can be used with less integrity too. Examples would be for the purpose or brain washing or propaganda. Unknowing subjects can be negatively impacted by those using it with no integrity. It is a powerful tool and used positively we can create change and influence in important areas of our lives. Let's talk about the good purposes and the seeming magic that can be achieved. It can be such a wonderful tool for healing and change.
NLP training is usually broken into two 7 or 8 full-day sessions just to give you the basics, so you might guess there are a lot of tools and techniques involved and we are only going to talk about a few here to give you an idea of how it works and has such a strong impact. Really mastering and applying the techniques is an art in itself and that is why a skilled practitioner can be so helpful in guiding you with NLP.
In this article, we are going to talk about anchoring, contextual reframing and mental rehearsal. These are all quite simple, but when practiced it will surprise you how fast and effective they can be. There are literally hundreds of techniques and some get more complex. They are also quite flexible and after learning NLP, you will easily be able to modify and customize these tools to fit the situation or if you are a practitioner, the client.
Let’s start with anchoring, sometimes called States and Anchors. It is a way to change your state (or how you are feeling emotionally) by experiencing the feelings from another time and place. Anchoring is used frequently in many different ways. Sometimes it is just to set a pleasant and positive state to return to or guide your client to whenever needed. You bring your client to a state of relaxation and then ask them to remember or imagine a pleasant enjoyable and relaxing place or situation from anytime in their past. Take them through remembering this time with all of their senses and when they are completely relaxed and immersed in this pleasant memory, gently tap on their shoulder, have them rub their fingers (thumb & forefinger) together, snap your fingers or any other indicator signal and suggest that whenever they want to return to this pleasant state they can simply rub their finger together (or whatever you used) and they will be brought back automatically to this pleasant memory and the associated feelings. With this tool someone can learn to go to this pleasant place whenever they are confronted with a negative or unpleasant trigger. The more times this is practiced the more automatic it becomes. You can also use something like an anchor stone that the client can hold in their hand during this process and whenever they hold the stone again, they can re-experience the same feelings and memories.
Contextual Reframing is another great technique. An example of this would be changing the way someone thinks about or perceives something without altering the actual circumstance. One day a client with feelings of low self-esteem was telling me about feeling out of place when she went to her networking group. She was much younger than most of the other members and saw them as having more professional and important businesses than she did. She said, “I’m just a lowly dog walker and they were all professionals.” I said, “Were there any other 23-year-old women who had their own successful business doing something they really loved at the meeting?” She looked surprised and then smiled slightly and I knew she got the point and was seeing things from a new and different perspective.
Finally, Mental Rehearsal is a great technique most of us have probably used to some extent, but that can be honed to produce excellent results amazingly quickly. The truth is, what we imagine internally produces the same neurological experience for us as when we do something in real-time. Therefore, if we can imagine doing something in just the way we would like to perform when we actually do it, it is a form of training and results in performance improvements very close to actual practice. As they say, “practice makes perfect”, so the more we rehearse or practice mentally, the more improvement we will see in our physical or real-time performance. I don’t always remember this, but I have done this and found it to work well, even before I knew it was an NLP technique. I had a guest on my radio show who used this NLP technique to become a pro-golfer very quickly. She then wrote a book about how you can do this too, using NLP. This can be applied to almost any area of performance or learning. Pro-Athletes and Olympians use it all the time.
Hopefully, these 3 simple techniques give you an idea of how NLP can help people to make changes and achieve goals very quickly. To a great extent it is a matter of having the knowledge and being aware of how to use it to your best advantage. With that knowledge and awareness there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Give these simple techniques a try and I am betting you will want to come back and learn more techniques and how NLP can help you up level your performance and achieve your life goals.
NLP or Neuro-linguistics Programming is really an immense toolbox of techniques and resources that use the way our brain and senses work and interact to help in achieving a desired outcome. It is based on the research and studies of its founders Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder. NLP has been around since the 1970"s and has grown to be used by many successful people, companies and, not surprisingly, in the field of education. It has recently been backed up by research and studies in the field of Neuroscience, which have supported some of its basic hypotheses and premises. Some of the NLP techniques practitioners of NLP and Hypnosis have been using for decades intersect with other popular modalities, such as, Mindfulness, Law of Attraction, Emotional Freedom Technique, Timeline Therapy and more. Some would surmise that NLP and all of these modalities have their roots in prior schools of thought and I would not argue with that. Learning and all progress is without question an evolving process. NLP techniques are being used to help children learn more, faster and with better comprehension and retention. Long ago, Buddha said:
“all that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is
everything. What we think we become.” --The Buddha
If we believe this is true, it is apparent how intentionally shaping our thoughts through the use of NLP can be a remarkable tool for teaching and education. In general, kids are the perfect target audience for learning with NLP. They are motivated, open and active learners. They take in the world around them and what is going on in it, quite naturally. They absorb information like a sponge absorbs water. How can NLP contribute to and enhance this natural state that kids enjoy? How can it fit into our educational systems to make processes easier or even be used by parents to help in teaching their children?
NLP is a wonderful tool for teaching children because it teaches them to use their brain to be able to express themselves well and understand others with language skills and it gives them a strong foundation for life-long learning. NLP gives your child tools for learning that help to maintain strong confidence and self-esteem. NLP uses children’s natural perceptual senses. It uses and expands children’s imagination and creativity. NLP can be used to calm children, motivate them, build confidence or establish trust. All of these are optimal conditions for education and learning. Techniques sometimes need to be modified for children, but most of the techniques used with adults are also effective with kids.
Some effective NLP techniques to use with children are:
1. Anchoring – It is setting a positive association that can be used when you want to replace a negative or traumatic feeling with a more positive or resourceful state.
2. Framing – setting a scenario and criteria that allow practice and achievement.
3. Metaphor and Story-Telling – this is so fun and appeals to children’s imagination and is also very effective for learning important lessons.
4. Visualization – If you can see it, you can do it. This is true for children, as well as, adults and if your child is visual it will work well.
5. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards – finding those rewards that are important to
your child will make a big difference in their motivation and willingness to learn well as, the speed and retention of learning.
6. Modeling – this is an excellent technique for behavior change and can be used so imaginatively to make a strong impression.
These are just a few NLP techniques out of hundreds that can be used to help children learn better and faster. With a little effort most NLP techniques can be used effectively with kids and the results have been amazing. Kate Benson, in an accomplished and licensed Trainer’s Trainer for the NLP Society and also that Director of Education for that organization founded by NLP co-founder, Dr. Richard Bandler. Benson said this, “Why aren’t we using NLP in education?” Dr. Bandler and Kate Benson recently released the co-authored a book: Teaching Excellence. Dr. Bandler said this of Kate Benson:
“Kate Benson is an expert in applying NLP in the education sector.
She is thoroughly organized, highly skilled and the love for what she
teaches comes across in her presentations. I guarantee you will
thoroughly enjoyable the experience”. – Dr. Richard Bandler
In addition to her position with the NLP Society, Kate Benson is the founder of NLPkids.com and is one of the foremost leaders in using NLP in education for teaching kids. Kate says this regarding Teaching Excellence:
"Just Imagine You could radically transform how quickly and easily you and your students could learn
Just imagine You were equipped with the tools to entertain and captivate the attention of your audience
Just imagine You had the secrets of Teaching Excellence!!”
I am sure you can imagine how powerful that would be and that is how powerful NLP is in the area of learning and using it with kids offers an amazing opportunity to lift them to an attitude & mindset of unlimited life-long learning and opportunity.
Watch your words! This is a warning that many hear early, probably as a child, in warnings about how we speak and the words we use. It is truer and more impactful than we probably realize at the time. Our words and how we use them, however, affect us and the people around us powerfully. Some people never realize the power of their words and others realize it and use that power in reckless or harmful ways. Take a minute and see what comes to mind when you try to remember words or phrases, things that someone said that affected you in a powerful or memorable way. Then, think for a minute about why those words or phrases were so powerful. Was it the tone, volume, the meaning or something else? Now think about why you remembered those particular words and what you felt or feel about them now. What was the affect they had? How long ago were those words spoken? Why did you remember them or carry them forward with you? Unfortunately, more often than not, the words or phrases that we remember, the ones that make a big impact and stay with us far into the future are negative, loud and/or angry. Often times they are said in times that are traumatic, embarrassing or make us feel intimidated or fearful in some way. Those seem to be the words that most often stay with us, with the opposite type of words, the kind, gentle, soft, encouraging and affectionate words said in softness, affection, praise and encouragement coming in a distant second. We let them slip away. Yes, if we think hard enough those words are there too, but they usually don’t come to mind first. They seem to be dominated or over-whelmed by those other louder, more critical and negative words. This is powerful knowledge. Both for being aware of what we say and how we say it, but for evaluating and filtering the impact of our memories. People say things they don’t mean in ways they would never want them to be remembered and yet, that is exactly what happens!
As a coach and hypnotherapist, I have clients tell me in tears or on the verge of tears something that a parent said 30 or more years ago or a now ex-spouse said a decade ago and it is, as if, it was said yesterday in the emotional pain it brings back. When people dwell on these memories of words, often said thoughtlessly, and in a moments of anger, it causes them unneeded anguish and suffering. It is necessary to learn to take the power away from those words, just as it is necessary to learn to use them better to avoid some of this needless pain and anguish they can cause.
Most of the time words are used thoughtlessly and not meant to inflict long term damage on their recipients. Some people do use them very intentionally to inflict pain and these people are often abusive in other ways as well, but we all at times use words and language in ways that inflict unintended damage. This can probably not be entirely avoided, but if we become more aware of what we are saying and how we are saying it, it is a step in the right direction. Especially with very young children, as what they hear becomes how they will speak to others. Even if language is not directed at them, for instance, a child who hears their parents arguing and saying angry things to one another will feel angrier and more hostile and may direct those feelings outward toward others or inward toward themselves. It is also true that it is the underlying feelings that are most impactful and not the words themselves. We feel that energy in a powerful way.
I had a client break down in tears when I let her know that cancelling an appointment at the last minute impacted me and my schedule. I did not say it in a loud, angry or overly critical way, but wanted to make clear that it was not acceptable. She was a mature adult, so I hardly expected this reaction. However, coming from an abusive and overly-critical upbringing, something in my tone and the disappointment she sensed in my voice brought back for her the feelings she felt as a child of never being able to please her parents or do the right thing and thus, the overly emotional reaction. We talked about it and it surprised me how convinced she was that I was angry at her. I simply wanted her to let me know in advance in the future, if she needed to cancel or change an appointment. We worked on changing up her filtering system and trying to avoid those early experiences as a basis for judging the behaviors and intentions of others.
I had to look at the possibility of my tone and words conveying more judgement or emotion than I intended them to, as well. Having had a critical and controlling Mother, myself, that is something that would come naturally to me. I did not think I had been overly harsh, but decided in the future to go lighter in my tone and messaging to be on the safe side.
It is hard to always get it just right. We will probably always miscommunicate and have misunderstandings based on words and how we use them, but the more aware we are, the more attention we pay and the more intentional we become in trying to communicate accurately the closer we will come to that heart to heart, soul to soul communication we all seek.
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you may stick with someone for a lifetime.” - Rachael Wolchin
In our increasingly social world, I will admit I don’t personally think often about loneliness. I do find a lack on connection on the level of depth that is really satisfying for me at times, but for me personally privacy and maintaining my alone time is usually a greater concern. However, recently with the social-distancing and stay-at-home directive, I have felt a little lonely. Especially today, bei, I am missing the family gathering we usually have. Yes, I am keeping busy and have plans for a nice dinner of roast chicken, but it isn’t the same and I miss that connection with my family in person. I talked with my sister on the phone, but I miss hugging everyone and seeing their smiling faces in person.
With clients, this is a complaint I am hearing often. Many people are feeling lonely and wanting a connection beyond what we can get virtually via the many electronic avenues we are so blessed to have available now. I really cannot imagine how we would be dealing with this if we did not have so much ability to connect virtually. Yet, there is something to be said for the connection we get with physical presence, sharing of activities, meals and in-person conversation, not to mention touch and hugs.
Many people have found themselves slipping into anxiety, sadness and depression with this social-distancing we are facing to maintain our health and well-being and stay alive. The thought that this might be permanent and imagining that we will never get back to an acceptable version of normal that allows the comforts of touch, close physical proximity and hugs, without endangering our health weighs heavily on many and makes them feel more helpless and alone.
What can we do to feel better and less lonely? That is a difficult question, but one I think we can deal with this, until once again we can enjoy each other’s company, maybe with some greater awareness and safety precautions. Though not as satisfying as in-person connections, virtual connections by phone, email, video (Zoom, Facetime, etc.) are so important and can be fun and enjoyable. Keeping busy and getting things done to sustain yourself now and in preparation for the future will also make you feel less lonely. Finish those projects you never had time for. Do things that you will thank yourself for later, like learning something new, taking care of yourself, treating yourself to things you don’t normally allow yourself, doing things that make you smile or laugh. You have to be your own best friend. Treat yourself like you would someone you genuinely care about. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Laugh and smile as much as you can and be good company for yourself. It doesn’t feel good, even to yourself to be in a bad mood, grumpy or disgruntled. Your mood and attitude will actually change your brain and physiology, as well as, strengthening your immune system, resilience and your resourcefulness. Eat well, exercise, get outside even if you can’t go anywhere except your own front or back yard. The better care you take of yourself, the better you will feel.
Use your imagination to your best benefit! If you are worrying, you are imagining something undesirable that has not happened yet, is going to happen. Switch that up and imagine something better. Imagine something good is going to happen. Even better, imagine the best possible scenario that you would like to happen. Why not? As long as you are imagining, imagine something that is exactly what you want, in fact, going to happen. I promise the effects will be much better for your health and well-being and you won’t regret it, no matter what actually happens.
Finally and simply, be grateful for what you have right now, whatever that might be. Be grateful you are safe and alive. Be grateful if you have a pet or a partner to share this experience with. Be grateful if you have family or friends to communicate with virtually and people who check in on you and make sure you are doing okay. And, if you don’t have that, reach out and let someone know, so they can reach back and be there for you! That is actually a gift, as we all need as much to give as to receive.
Remember that in actuality you are not alone! We are all connected and we are all experiencing this and being impacted in so many ways. Talk about your feelings, write them down if needed. Expressing them will help! This is not to complain, but to express this experience, feel the feelings and then let them go! You are not alone, we are all “walking together”, if only virtually at this point!
Now that many are vaccinated and we are able to get back to some socializing and our world is slowly opening back up, make those in-person connections,but do so in a safe and conscious way so we can keep expanding our connection and get back to more normal social interactions we have learned are so precious and important!
My Mother was the strongest person I have ever known to this day. She passed away at 62, of massive heart failure. Even thought she had been sick most of my life, it was still both a surprise and a shock that she died suddenly. It was a difficult loss, compounded by my father’s unexpected death just 2 months later. She was the second oldest of 5 children, the oldest daughter. She grew up in North Dakota and her father died when she was 11, after a long illness. Her Mom raised the kids mostly on her own working as a waitress at the only steak house in a small town. Mom took care of her younger siblings and they did not have an easy life, struggling through the depression. I remember her telling me that they ate lard and sugar sandwiches and my mom only had 2 dresses, one for everyday and one for special occasions. My Grandmother remarried, but her second husband got sick too, and she was again caretaker. They were poor and often bullied or excluded at school. At sixteen, Mom got rheumatic fever, missed a long period of school and ended up dropping out. She had wanted to be a nurse and probably would have pursued that course, if she had not gotten sick. She went to work full-time and started dating a shy, popular boy whose family was more affluent and owned a business in town. That was my dad. He was a kind and affable man, but suffered from social anxiety, which he self-medicated with alcohol. I was born when Mom was just 20. It was a difficult birth and she was told she couldn’t have more children.
Motherhood was hard on her. She was always exhausted and anxious, but it wasn’t until she was thirty-two that she was diagnosed with a heart condition caused by her rheumatic fever. My sister was six then and I was pretty much her caretaker or second Mom, as my mother was not doing well. The valve carrying blood to her heart was the size of a thread and it was supposed to be the size of your thumb. When she was diagnosed the cardiologist told her that she was literally a few months from death, if she didn’t have the surgery. Her skin was gray, she had no energy and yet, was always anxious. My Mom was a bit obsessive compulsive and her go to when she felt bad was to clean. Our house was spotless and you literally couldn’t walk on her beautiful hard wood floors without Mom having an anxiety attack. She needed open heart surgery and they were not sure she would make it. She was actually one of the first open heart surgeries and it was a very complicated surgery at the time. She made it though and it was like she came back to life. There was a long recovery period, but from right after the surgery you could see the color come back into her skin and the hope come back to her eyes. I did not really realize how close we’d come to losing her, until I saw the life returning.
All of my life Mom had been slowly dying and becoming more angry and even more mentally unwell. She went through a process of transformation and really celebrated the value of life. She actually seemed happy and joyful for the first time. As long as I had known her, she had been overwhelmed and unhappy with only moments of joy that were very fleeting and short-lived. My Dad’s drinking had increased with the stress of her illness and even though he loved her and had good intentions, he could not be the support she needed. She turned to distractions I won’t go into for solace and my parent’s relationship deteriorated. My Dad’s alcoholism got worse and eventually they divorced. Mom wanted more of a relationship and actually began that before their divorce with the man who later became my step-father. I saw her embrace life for about 16 years. They were not planning it, but my half-brother was born when she was 39 and he became the child Mom could actually raise and be herself with. I really had to get to know her again, as she definitely was not the same person who had raised me.
“Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” – Mary Oliver
Unfortunately, all of the issues caused by her rheumatic fever had not been discovered and new symptoms started to appear over time. She got a rare form of arthritis and her heart issues were not fully resolved. They did not discover it until after her death, but the rheumatic fever had caused small perforations in her heart that ultimately led to her death. She struggled the last years of her life with debilitating illness, but she kept going and really did not want let go of life. The way she lived the last years of her life was such a contrast to the early years I saw growing up. Growing up I saw an angry, bitter and impatient women with a short temper, who took her rage out on world, but most specifically me and Dad. Though my dad was an alcoholic and drank in part pushed by the stress he felt, he was an adult and did understand what she was going through. I wanted to understand, but I was just I child and it was more difficult. I remember once asking my dad why Mom hated me and he said she didn’t, I just had to understand Mom. That was difficult for a child when she would strike out for no reason and hit, yell and say horrible things. It was hard to know that the rage was not really directed at me, when it definitely felt that way. On some level, I did get the message that she loved me and there was something going on with her, but it took many years of resentment and hurt to heal the wounds. This was another pain for my mother, as well, as she did not know how to heal the distance between us and it hurt her, too! Once she had learned how to feel joyful, she wasn’t willing to let it go of it. I believe that finding joy and happiness prolonged her life and made the quality of her life better despite the illness and pain she suffered. I also believe that the many years she suffered in pain, anger and bitterness in the earlier years took their toll and were contributary to her poor health. I wish that she had not had to endure the long years of suffering not knowing what was wrong, but I learned so much from her experience.
A letter she wrote me six months before she passed told me that she had learned much, too and understood the journey she had gone through in many similar ways, as well, and that provided a lot a healing. That letter would give a needed key for my own later journey and though I don’t have the letter any more, it still does give me comfort. I see my mom’s heart as much like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken pieces are mended to create both greater strength and a different beauty, a magnificent symbol of resilience.
We all know that each moment in our lives is a unique and singularly significant occurrence that will never happen again. Sadly, I don’t think we live our lives in a way that reflects this knowledge in many cases. We take our lives and those precious moments for granted by not honoring them or being fully present. We don’t value time and we waste it or, at least, we don’t make the most of the time we are given here in this human earthly existence. We think we have time to do it, say it or be it, - later. In reality, all we have is now, this moment and it is fleeting. If we did not make the most of our moments, if we wish we had lived them differently, it is a loss that can never be retrieved. This is just the reality of time and something it is best we be aware of.
Thinking of this, we seek to record, remember and savor the precious moments that fill us with joy, make us smile or give us pride. We cannot relive a moment, but we can remember it and there is both value and pleasure in that. In fact, holding on to some precious moments, which we occasionally reflect on and savor is one of the ways we can experience more happiness in our lives and bring ourselves more happiness moving forward. We are told it is a mistake to try to live in the past or wish everything is the way it used to be. This is definitely true. We need to keep living life and having lovely new experiences, but that does not mean we cannot remember beautiful times from the past and appreciate them. Amazingly, with the way our brain works this can bring us almost as much pleasure as the original experience itself and set us on a course for bringing more blissful experiences into our lives. What we focus on, generally speaking, we get more of --- so, absolutely, think about all the good things you can remember or you can imagine is a what we should do.
Pay attention to those joyful moments from last year or three years ago that social media reminds you about, talk with friends and family about happy experiences you shared together, get out the old photo albums and languish for a while in the smiles and laughter they evoke. Have a few photos around the house that just make you smile each time you look at them, because you remember how you felt then. Even things you did by yourself can be very joyful experiences, so don’t forget those. Some of our biggest achievements are often achieved solo. Definitely, go out and have new adventures and happy moments on a regular and continuing basis. File them away in your memory, write or journal about them, take pictures while you savor those moments, tell friends and family about them. Keep in mind that one day they will have the power to make you smile again and relive over again, in a small way, those precious and impactful moments that made a truly amazing life. It is the awareness that we are living and creating that makes the journey of life the epic adventure that it is. Don’t forget the lessons either or those moments that seem sad and later turn to bitter-sweet in our remembrance. It is a blessing how time has the power to do that.
A friend recently shared the great sadness she felt about her dad’s worsening Alzheimer’s and the the loss of his ability to remember all the precious moments from his long, happy and accomplished life. Appreciate the moments in the now, savor the memories and be grateful for each and every moment!
“Remember to be fully present, grateful and always alive and in awe of each moment!” – Kate Olson
I recently stumbled on some “emotional clutter” or unresolved trauma from my past that I did not even realize I had been dragging around with me since childhood. It is funny how that happens when you least expect it. It made me wonder how many other people are carrying around similar baggage and unaware of it, as well as, how it might be holding them back and preventing them from being their best self or achieving their dreams and goals. All parents make mistakes and say things that are interpreted in ways they don’t intend. This cannot really be avoided! As a consequence, children sometimes carry forward feelings that they have not dealt with and maybe don’t realize are still there, right below the surface. These unresolved feelings can be affecting how they interact with the world and make decisions and choices about life.
When I was a kid my Dad said, “If you keep asking, you will never get it!” with reference to my sister and I continually asking for things we wanted for Christmas, birthdays, etc. I know that he said this because he could not give us everything we wished for and did not want us to be disappointed and not because he either did not want us to have what we wished for or that he thought that was how we should operate in the world. However, being like most kids, I took it quite literally and wanting to be a “good girl”, I tried my best to please and not ask for the things I wanted. I still, of course, hoped by some unknown magic, that I would get the things I wanted. I was consistently disappointed and did not get what I wanted most of the time as far gifts for Christmas & birthdays went or just generally day to day. I kept quite mum about what that might be. As time passed, I think I developed a fear that if I did say what I wanted and didn’t get it that the disappointment would be amplified. This did not apply only to things, but to goals and aspirations, too, and even to those emotional needs and wants we all have. I did achieve many of my goals and aspirations, but I did not get much support in attaining them, since I never told anyone what they were.
In the course of accomplishing things and achieving some of my goals some of those feelings did dissipate, but the feelings, I think, remained there and doubt was always ready to manifest itself, especially for my most precious and deeply held desires. They remained deep secrets that I never wanted to share with anyone. It even became denial, in some cases, that I had needs and wants that had not yet been met. The fear of disappointment loomed large and I think it became easiest to ignore or pretend I did not want or need anything.
However, we all do have ongoing wants and needs and an important part of getting what we want is being aware, acknowledging and then focusing on getting or achieving those wants and desires. That most certainly includes being direct and assertive and asking for what we want, whether it is our next job, a relationship, a raise, a loan or just for someone to pass the gravy. If we don’t ask the chances of getting what we want are highly diminished and disappointment is guaranteed.
Coming to the realization that I was still running that old script in important areas of my life, even though, as a coach, I should certainly know better and the fact that I tell my clients on a regular basis to let that stuff go. It was a wake-up call in a couple of important ways. First it brought to light how we can have those old limiting beliefs hiding in the corners of our consciousness and be unaware of their existence and how they are holding us back. Second, it amplified the importance of doing a regular inventory or check-in of our operating system or the beliefs and ideas that fuel how we deal with and function in the world. With this new awareness I have committed to doing a lot more acknowledging what my wants and needs are and asking for what I truly want and need both from myself and others. Let’s see how that works out over the next several months. I am betting I’ll be getting more of those things I truly desire. And, I think I am totally ready for that!
About the Author: Sean Morris is a Guest Contributor. Sean is a social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He has experience in managing a career with parenting, transitioning to a family-focused lifestyle, and a marriage that has lasted 20 beautiful years (and counting!).
Image Source: Unsplash
The reason many people often resist change is that there's comfort in what they know. Although the unknown is appealing to some, it is only natural to resist placing ourselves in new situations. Still, you get to that point when it is no longer necessary and possible to play it safe, and that's where resources like Soul Fire Wisdom Coaching become operative.
Whenever We Think We Are Good, We Can Be Even Better
Many of us neglect to do what will make us the best version of ourselves, even if we can envision what that version looks like. It can be challenging to break out of our comfort zone, even in the name of self-improvement. Moreover, it can be hard to decide what to improve when there's an unlimited number of ways we can become better in 2021. So, even if you take one point from the list below and run with it, you're doing something - and that's worth it.
Set Goals for Yourself
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Improve Your Career
Whether you are pleased with your 9-to-5 job or dream about starting and running your own business, your skills are valuable and could propel you further in the career you chose. Even though you're usually provided with training when starting a new job, when venturing into the unknown of starting a business, this is not always the case. However, there are many benefits to owning a business, including freedom, self-improvement support, ability, money, and time to help your family and others, boosted self-esteem, and so much more.
While you don't need an MBA or any particular business certification to run your start-up, looking for some online resources that will help you acquire new skills or improve the ones you have is the best thing you can do to improve your career. This is also a simple way to succeed in both business life and personal life, making you more confident and bolder in your pursuits. There are many resources out there, such as communication curriculums, project management classes, and online business formation courses, with the latter helping you figure out the best business structure for your start-up and how to get started.
Dress for the Life You Want
Life is way too short to be spent in clothes that make you feel uncomfortable or lower yourself-esteem. Whenever possible, make a change in your wardrobe and dress for the life you want — in a way that makes you happy.
Physical activity and self-improvement go hand in hand, doing amazing things for both your body and mind. Find activities that you love, whether it's dancing around the house, lifting weights at the gym, or hiking mountains. Exercise and movement are some of the most basic forms of self-improvement you can focus on for your overall well-being.
Mediation doesn't have to be challenging, sitting in a room, in silence, for prolonged periods. It can be as simple as taking a few breaths right now. Inhale, exhale, and repeat.
Plan and do at least a thing that is going to make you feel happier per week. It could be booking a spa treatment, watching a play, journaling, shopping for clothes you've always wanted, or just sitting alone with yourself. It doesn't have to be expensive — it's the little things that matter, and they are exceptionally good for your well-being.
What Self-Improvement Brings
We only get one shot at life, and no matter what cards you were dealt, you can improve your life by taking care of yourself first. By self-improving, you're able to get more success, more happiness, meaningful relationships, better health, etc. There's always something about ourselves we can work on; the human potential is limitless, so it is impossible to reach a point of no growth.
“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don't base your self-esteem on their opinions.” – Harvey Mackay
This is something we have all been confronted with and still it is one of the hardest and most commonly traumatizing experiences we go through. Most of us learn to deal with it and get past it, but some never do and the results can be quite devastating. I am called to write this blog for two reasons. I have recently been confronted with the remnants of this and a client also recently told me about a family members’ inability to deal with the emotional trauma and subsequent suicide after feeling rejected and excluded by those she wanted to feel accepted by. This is, of course, an extreme and heart-breaking outcome, but I am guessing there are very few people who cannot relate to the emotional pain that rejection and exclusion can cause. The feelings can be quite crushing and there is almost no one who has not felt it. Why are some people more affected than others and how do people learn to cope with and get past these feelings?
Acceptance and validation are quite basic to our needs and very few of us get enough of these to build our self-worth, self-love and resilience to a level of confidence where we are truly secure and rejection-proof. At least, we seldom get it in childhood and without a lot of introspection, awareness and self-esteem-building work. Why is this? First, most of us are raised by adults who have not yet attained this level of self-worth themselves and don’t know how to give it to us. Second, we face a world which bombards us with self-esteem diminishing challenges on a regular basis. It seems to be the nature of humans to try to build their own self-worth at the expense of others when they don’t know more healthy ways of doing so. We see it all around us and it is modeled for us in some cases.
From childhood into adulthood, we see it. Two friends make themselves feel superior by talking about what they see as the shortcoming of someone else. Or, in today’s world one group of people criticizes and villainizes another group of people over beliefs and ideologies. Many times, we don’t think this is a big deal until we are on the receiving side of it. The people that are bonding and feeling superior in that bonding, often lack any empathy for the feelings of the person they are diminishing. That is sometimes because they do not really know the person and sometimes because they do and want to purposefully exclude or diminish them for their own benefit.
I am going to share a story from my own childhood that had a huge impact on me in so many ways. While today I consider it a blessing as the feelings I experienced give me a special empathy and advocacy for helping people to feel confident and resilient. At the time it was difficult. I was always a fairly kind and inclusive child with a strong sense of fairness, so excluding others or making them feel bad was never something I did. Pretty much the opposite was true. In first grade, I met a girl who became a long-time close friend shortly after the school year began. I got guardianship that day of the much-coveted playground equipment, the ball for playing square ball. A couple of other girls and I were getting ready to play when a girl I had not yet met came up and asked to play. The other two girls said "no" and told her to go away. I reacted immediately and asked them why. They said they didn’t like her. I said it was my ball and I say she can play. They said they wouldn’t play if that girl played. She and I took the ball and found two other girls to play. It turned out that girl and I became good friends and well, the other girls, I don’t remember what became of them. This was pretty much my philosophy.
In fourth grade, a classmate had a bird that she brought to school and that bird became the class pet. She was very attached to her bird, as most of us are to our pets. She shared the bird with the class though and allowed others to care for it. Over one weekend, something happened and the bird died. The whole class felt bad and mourned the loss, but it was really hard on the owner of the bird. I had empathy and felt very sad for her. I had an idea of getting her another bird and instead of doing it myself, I organized a group of her other friends and we all planned together to raise the money, get the bird and give it to her. I thought everything was going quite well. I was excited that we were going to able to do this as a group and hopefully help our friend feel better.
I had no idea that there were any problems brewing in the group. Most of the girls, I had known for several years and felt they were friends. One day, just a few days before we were going to give the bird to our mutual friend, one of girls asked me to meet her down on the baseball field after school. I didn’t really think much about it and went to meet her and saw that the rest of our group was also there. Still, I thought nothing of it. I have never been bullied or had enemies for the most part, so nothing occurred to me. Suddenly, the group formed a circle around me and skipped in a circular motion while chanting “we vote you out!” I was taken completely off guard and it took a few minutes to even figure out what they were doing and what it meant. And then, one of them explained that they were excluding me from the group and I would not be allowed to participate in the plans for giving the bird to our friend. I was just out! My stomach felt like it dropped to my feet and I simply couldn’t speak. I was hurt more than I could have expressed and no words would come out of my mouth. I looked at them trying not to let myself cry and then I walked away as fast as I could. When I got out of their sight, I ran all the way home before I cried. The feeling was horrific and I had no idea why they had done this. I also did not know how to deal with it or my feelings. I had a hard time going to school the next day and really couldn’t look at any of the girls. It hurt that my friend did not know that her new bird had been from me, as well as, the other girls and that it had been my idea, but I didn’t say anything. It seemed like months, but it was really only days, when some of the girls in the group started coming and apologizing to me and telling me that one of the girls had instigated what had happened telling the rest them that I was too bossy and didn’t deserve to be in the group. She was jealous and wanted to be in charge of things. Sadly, she didn’t know that I wasn’t really set on being the boss and would have let her have more say, if she had spoken up rather than tossing me aside as she did. Eventually, all the girls except the instigator apologized to me and even the girl who got the bird told me she had been told it had been my idea. That helped, but the feelings and mistrust hung on much longer. I avoided the girl who instigated things for the rest of the time we were in school together, though we had been friends before that. I am not sure if she knew that I knew about what she had done. She still talked to me and acted friendly from time to time. I had not realized before how insecure and insincere she apparently was, but of course, I knew I couldn’t trust her and didn’t want to deal with that. I did forgive her. I never wanted to experience anything like that again, however, strangely made me stronger and gave me confidence in getting through it. It would be decades, many more experiences and much self-reflection and self-acceptance before I would feel confident enough and put that trauma behind me. It was the start of a very important lesson on dealing with rejection and exclusion. A lesson I am very thankful for, despite the pain involved. I also gained a sort of “Spidey-Sense” for picking up the energy of those people who, due to their own needs, would be inclined to throw me under the bus, so to speak. I learned to opt out or avoid them before they have the chance to do so. Usually without any malice. I have come to realize that they are doing the best they can with what they know.
I did encounter the instigator of that grade-school trauma again on a break after my first year of college. I went into a local store on a visit home and was looking around when I heard a voice excitedly call my name and when I turned around the girl who had caused me that pain, way back when, had a big smile on her face. She grabbed me and hugged me, saying how happy she was to see me. I was in momentary shock as I recognized her and took everything in. She had surprisingly gained a good 40 pounds and looked a bit different. We talked for a while and caught up on what we had been doing since high school. I was surprised to find out that she was on a break from college and working full-time at the store. She had dropped out of school during her freshman year after having an emotional break-down. I listened to her story and empathized as she told me of her feelings of not fitting in, being excluded and having trouble keeping up academically. She seemed to feel better as I empathized. I asked her about her future plans and encouraged her, reminding her of the skills and abilities I knew she had. There was that moment where I felt a twinge of revenge brewing, but opted for compassion. She hugged me again before I left and said she was glad we bumped into each other and that I had always been a loyal and kind friend. I was happy in the end to know she thought of me that way. She went back to school the following fall to a college in the Mid-West where she still lives. She graduated, married and had a beautiful family. When I last heard of her, she was enjoying a happy life. I did wonder if she ever thought about her actions and how they had affected me, however, I realized it really didn’t matter as I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
There are many types of rejection and exclusion and they bombard us throughout life. Breakup, divorce, job loss, not getting the job, award, raise, praise or accolades that we wanted, hoped for or deserved. We do need to feel and process those emotions, no matter how painful. I thought I might die when I fell in love way too soon after my divorce, with “Mr. Wrong for Me”. It seemed so unfair. Eventually I realized I wasn’t ready and “us” trying to be a couple would have been a train wreck. He didn’t want children and I had one, he was gorgeous and romantic, but also selfish and a perfectionist and always made me feel “not good enough”, -- who needs that? In the end, I took the lesson and moved forward, a little bruised, but so much stronger and wiser.
In conclusion, pay attention to your intuition as much as you can and avoid people and situations that end up draining you or feel toxic. Rejection isn’t always avoidable, but try not to take it personally. It likely isn’t about you. Lastly, it is usually not fatal, although it can feel that way at the time and, if nothing else, it will give you strength and character, even when that doesn’t seem possible. I am sure you have some lessons under your belt already. Use them to buoy you up, rather than make you bitter. Rise above the negative thoughts and know that only you can define who you are and what you deserve in this life.
With the passing of another year that has been extraordinarily impactful, I realize that my perception of life and my place in the scheme of things has shifted. This strange year, 2020, has been one of deep and frequent reflection and much soul searching. I know that has been the case for me and suspect that many have gone through similar processes. It has been a year filled with obstacles, challenges and changes that I would never have imagined. And, in that there has been a lot of taking stock, reassessing and yes, growth! I had planned some change into my life for this year and I expected to do some re-adjusting, but I will confess that 2020 has been more of a roller coaster ride than I could have ever anticipated. The biggest surprise has been some long searched for answers to life quandaries and dilemmas that have just dropped into my consciousness and given me unexpected clarity around some of my most important wonderings.
I think we all seek more direction in our lives and to have a certainty about our wants and needs and where we should put our energy and efforts to feel the greatest sense of joy and satisfaction as we travel through life. So many choices and paths we could pursue, but what is the right path and the one that will be worth it? Are we motivated to go in a certain direction and will we get what we want, if we do? Is what we want, what will really make us feel the way we want to feel? So many thoughts can get so complicated and, yes, confusing! Sometimes there are even other people or practical considerations that play into our decision making and make it even more difficult and complex! Are there really answers and is even thinking about it a waste of time? Too be honest, I think it is. I have come to realize that too much thinking and trying to logically plot everything out with our limited conscious abilities is probably one the biggest inhibitors to resolving our life quandaries.
I do believe in questions, curiosity, openness and possibility, but I think we have to let go of our expectation that there is a blueprint that we can follow and achieve a pre-determined outcome and that will lead us to the satisfaction we seek. I think it is a constantly evolving process; everything can change and become something new at any given point. What does that mean for our comfort level with change and uncertainty? Are we destined then to be fearful and apprehensive about what might happen next and whether we will be able to adapt?
While I have come to learn that we will, I know that this is not an easily answered question and the doubts and consequent feelings come very naturally. However, what if we let those doubts go, throw caution to the wind and just follow our first instincts without having an answer to all the questions and only a vision of ourselves feeling joyful and satisfied? A vision that only fulfills our desires without answering the how’s or why’s of getting there may be the better option. I believe we need to ask the question, put it out there and then let the Universe or our subconscious mind do the work and lead us where we want and need to go.
What have I discovered in this turbulent year with regard to my own journey and path forward? I have discovered not to overwork my intellect and to ask the questions and then let the answers flow naturally and follow that intuition, because it just feels right, even if I don’t know why! And, here I am living in AZ and loving my new home without knowing the answer to that question, “Why did you move to Arizona? Let the adventure begin! I am excited to see the future unfold.
Intention is the starting point and your super power when it comes to achieving your dreams and goals. While many things can and do happen randomly in our chaotic and unpredictable world, there is an energy; a force that has a measurable effect on events and occurrences. That is, while much is outside of our control, where are some things that we can and do control. These things for the most part are what is directly related to our personal being and the energy we send out into the world. We have control over most aspects of our ourselves and our actions reacting with the world around us. We do not always have control of outcomes, but we do have control of what we individually put out into the world and to some extent that affects a larger sphere of interactions and occurrences, which become our sphere of energy or influence.
So where does this all lead us with regard to our power in the world and how that relates to intention. If we are to get the ball rolling, so to speak, to accomplish any action, including our most coveted dreams and aspiration, it must begin with our thoughts and the energy they emit, followed by the actions we subsequently pursue. On the cognitive level, preconception is what becomes intention, and that leads us to plans and actions, which become accomplishments and led us down the path to success in achieving what we wish to achieve.
What if we don’t have a clear intention? Then the core of what ignites us to move forward is not there. Not having an intention is like starting out on a journey without a destination in mind. While it can be done, it is hard to plot a course or even to know when or if, you have reached your end point or destination. You may get somewhere, but it may not be where you wanted to go. This is why setting an intention is so important to reaching your dreams and goals. It doesn’t matter how large or small your dreams are, you have a better chance of achieving them, if you set an intention.
Whatever it is, your intention is powerful. It fuels and gives purpose and direction to everything that follows from it. It creates the direction for your journey and becomes a compass to determine if you are on course.
If you want to jump-start your progress toward attaining your goals, set a small intention related to your end goals every day. You will find that you are making small and constant steps toward that larger goal faster and more easily than you ever thought you could. It seems like a simple thing, but you would be surprised at how often we attempt to achieve our goals without any forethought. Think of how far your car would get if you failed to put gas in it. Our intention is the fuel for our goals and aspirations. It is futile to try to move forward and achieve those goals without clear and relevant intentions
I know that a little trauma, drama and chaos occasionally visits all of our lives. And, when it does, we must learn to deal with it and then let it go. We certainly don’t want it hanging around for very long and sucking all the joy and peace out of our lives or getting in the way of our plans and stifling our success. Have you ever met people though, who tend to live in that state consistently and bring it with them wherever they go, naturally sharing it with everyone they come into contact with? One sure sign, if you don’t recognize it right away, that you are dealing with one of these people, is that they simply exhaust you and you feel like a tornado has ripped through your life. These are usually not bad or evil people and for the most part they don’t mean to or have the intention of sowing disruption in your life and a lot of times they feel like a victim of life themselves. They usually think that others should be understanding of all they must endure and have empathy and compassion for their circumstances. If you yourself are going through difficult times, they will surely one up you and try to maintain their ultimate victim status. They rarely realize or feel responsible for the chaos they are bringing to life. Simply as a result of your interaction with or attempt to collaborate or cooperate with them, you too get to experience the trauma, drama and chaos that they bring. Doing so, if you accept that daunting challenge, usually entails a lot of adjustment, tolerance, alteration and flexibility on your part. It is clear that you, your time, your plans or what you are trying to accomplish are secondary and you eventually realize that you are allowing yourself to be disrespected and bombarded by their whirlwind of chaos. Although you can ask for some respect and consideration from these people by establishing boundaries and drawing that line in the sand, it does not usually work.
How do you deal with people like this and the way they affect you and your life? While there are many things you can try, depending on the relationship, the only real way to get way from the constant trauma, drama and chaos is to walk way and not allow these people space in your life. This is sometimes hard, especially if they are close friends or even family members. And, if you are like me and you seek to see the good in others or you’re an empath and you feel their feelings, it is especially difficult. On one hand you want to understand and you do feel their pain. You know there is good there, you see it and you even feel it, but keeping them in your life means also keeping the trauma, drama and chaos they have adopted as part of their lifestyle. You really have to ask yourself how important your peace of mind, your self-respect, your self-worth and your life itself is to you? Maybe it’s okay if this person occasionally transits through your life and wreaks havoc? You can take it, right? The answer is - No! If you allow this in your life, it diminishes your energy and your self-esteem and chips away at your confidence, trust and self-worth. I guarantee you that if you allow these people to do this occasionally, it will build into more and you will also attract more of these people and the energy they carry with them into your life. It is just the nature of the Universe that we attract more of what we allow, more of what we focus on and more of that energy that surrounds us.
How do you make the break then and set the boundaries to protect your own energy and life to keep yourself on a more positive and purposeful trajectory? It is a matter of respecting yourself, first and foremost and loving yourself enough to say, “this is not what I want my life to be!” and then having the courage and conviction to walk away from them. You need to make it clear that you will only allow people in your life if they respect you and don’t drag trauma, drama or chaos with them into your life. It is their choice and it is not your obligation to accept and deal with their messy and chaotic choices. They do not have the right to impose it on you simply because they have chosen to deal badly with their life and not learn from past circumstances. If you do choose to allow it though, it’s on you – you have chosen to join the trauma, drama and chaos club and well, you pretty much deserve what you get. Make a different choice, get a different outcome! If you truly see value in this person, tell them how you feel and be ready to walk away. The best that can come of it is they may choose to change at least in their relationship with you and who knows where that may lead. Perhaps you both have won a better outcome and possibly a better relationship. If not, you get to keep your self-respect and peace of mind and leave the trauma, drama & chaos to them.
Is it possible to remain joyful and experience happiness, even in the worst of times? When things are really bad, when you are in the throes of true disaster and adversity, experiencing illness, loss, grief and/or seriously concerned about very real survival needs, is it still possible to be joyful and feel generally happy, most of the time? If it is possible, is this a desirable state or are we just ignoring the stark reality confronting us? It is not only possible, but it is how you get through bad times in the most resilient, healthy way and avoid damaging side effects to your physical and emotional long-term health. It is also how you stay sane, maintain the best mindset and stay resourceful for solving issues or finding answers for any problems that may arise. This has been demonstrated to us by many who have experienced extreme adversity and yet maintained a joyful attitude through their circumstances. They would have described themselves as generally happy, even when also experiencing and feeling great suffering. Such examples are many holocaust survivors and people like Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi and many, many more. These are people who have gone through things most of us cannot imagine surviving and have done so maintaining a resilient joyfulness and great hopefulness.
We are told it is not good to avoid our feelings and that we must experience them. When something really devastating is happening or has happened, how can we be anything but sad, unhappy and dwell in those feelings? That is really it, we can experience more than one feeling in a very short sequence of time. In a given moment we are experiencing a particular feeling and acknowledging it and we need to do that, but from moment to moment our feelings and what we are allowing ourselves to experience can change. And, it is okay to experience the full and changing range of our emotions and that is the healthiest way to deal with them. You can be deeply sad and truly feel a loss and still a short time later experience a moment of joy when your pet or your partner snuggles up to you. You can be feeling very lonely in one moment and then feel joy when a funny movie or something in real life makes you laugh. It is when you try to dwell in a single emotion and not experience the full range of your emotions that you become stuck in unhappiness and rob yourself of the joy that is still there for you in the natural process of living.
nethe The times we are living in now are truly serious and devastating. They are very uncertain, with the only certainty being that Covid-19 is impacting us in ways that will forever change our lives. Many people are dying, there is real danger to our health and there are many challenges that effect our emotional and financial well-being. There are definitely concerns bombarding us from every direction. Many people were already seriously worried about our political division and the circumstances our country has recently experienced. At the same time there are the usual adversities of life happening. A friend is dying of brain cancer and we can’t even go see him because of this virus. There are people who are homeless and hungry and I saw a terrible accident yesterday and could only wonder what dealing with that would be like for those involved. Still, I really enjoyed the beautiful weather we are having here in the Northwest and a social-distancing walk I took along Lake Washington. I felt a sense of peace and joy, as I always do, being outdoors and watching a beautiful sunset over the water. I try to do a couple things every day that bring me joy. I start my day listening to music always and that lifts my spirits and starts my day on a positive note. I treated myself to a very decadent chocolate desert and a glass of wine yesterday and watched a romantic comedy. It was totally silly and I laughed and loved it. I savored those feelings and it is okay, even though it still breaks my heart that a good person I care about is dying and I can’t say good bye in person and give him one last hug. Yes, I feel that sadness deeply, but I can also feel gratitude, appreciation and joy. I catch myself worrying about something from time to time and I try to switch it up quickly after asking myself if there is anything that I can do about it right now. I try to stay in the moment, care for myself as well as I would take care of anyone else that I love. I try to be intentional in what I do. I stay connected to my family, friends and those who add positivity and light to my life.
You know what, I smile often, I see a lot of good in the world still and a lot to be grateful for, even now. I have to say I feel joyful and happy most of the time through these difficult days and for that I am truly and abundantly grateful! Life is good and the best is still yet to come! I am hopeful for the good I’d like to see come out of this pause in everyday life. I saw a meme posted and I may not have it exactly right, but the just of it was--
“It’s like Mother Nature sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done!” -- Unknown
It is my greatest hope that great awareness, awakening, learning and action will come of this. I am imagining that and holding a space for it in my heart and soul!
I always knew I was as capable and could do anything I wanted to do, just as well or better than anyone else, even a boy! Yes, I know there are differences that make doing some things easier for one gender or the other, but I always thought and believed that there are many ways to do just about anything and you use your own strengths. I was born at a time when roles for women were pretty well-defined and my parents were pretty conventional in their beliefs, although not really in a practical sense. Both parents worked most of my childhood. They worked opposite shifts at times and both parents were very capable of cleaning, cooking and childcare. My Mom definitely had strong opinions and expressed them and my Dad was not dominating and did listen to her. However, I think they both had residual ideas about roles from their own upbringing. My Mom was definitely happier when I got married than when I graduated from college and Dad seemed to think it was my husband’s job to take care of me, rather than a partnership. Mostly though, they supported my belief that I could do anything any boy could do.
My first friends were boys and I constantly challenged this belief and found it to be true. In small ways, of course, but I never found anything that a girl was not capable of doing, none that mattered anyway. I remember actually liking “boy activities” better than conventional “girl activities” of the time, because they were more fun and adventurous. I was a “tom boy” and was told a few times, not by my parents, to act more like a girl. I remember racing a boy in my class home from school in sixth grade because I was a pretty fast runner and knew I could beat him. Also, he said I couldn’t and well, it was on! I won, of course, every time! I was surprised and a bit offended when his older sister drew me aside and said, “You know, Steve (name changed to protect the guilty) might like you, if you acted more like a girl! Boys don’t like girls to beat them!” Well, my objective had not been to have the boy like or not like me, but simply to win a race and prove that I could run faster. Girls don’t like boys to beat them either! That idea that in order to have boys like us, we are suppose to let them feel superior to us, in any and every way, is at the core of the gender bias we are still dealing with. That was a memorable instance. It surprises me after having encountered bias so many times, so many ways, over a lot of years, that it still holds space in my mind. I think the fact that another girl was calling me out and saying something like that was especially offensive.
We have been denied, harassed, bullied and discriminated against and we have been patient, understanding and way too accepting of this atrocity for way too long. Do you think that is too strong a word? Or, maybe that we have made progress and I’m making too big a deal of it? If so, check your bias! There is no other marginalized group that would stand for so much, for so long. Yes, some other groups have been and still are confronted by unreasonable bias. None for as long as it has gone on for women! That is a plain and simple fact and we are the only group that has so much bias represented within its own ranks. Let that sink in!
I usually post blogs related to mind, body, spirit wellness and I was told recently when making a political post that it was in conflict with the good stuff I post. I was calling out the actions of a certain male leader and “somehow” I should be nice and not do that because a lot of people disagree and that diminishes my other “good posts”. While I know this is true, I also know it is part of the whole sit back and be quiet or don’t be confrontational role that gender bias has conferred on women. I really object! Men (I am speaking in a general sense) not only don’t like it when women beat them, but they don’t like it when women prove them wrong or confront their assertions and thinking. Of course, no one likes to lose, be wrong or have their thinking shown to be faulty. That is our nature and our ego rearing its self-protective head! However, why is it more objectional when it is a woman? This is at the core of gender inequity and what has to be dealt with in our thinking and feelings, both men and women, before we can achieve and function in a world with equality for all. The time is now!
I could write pages on the things that have happened to me personally that call out discrimination, inequity, harassment and bias --- ranging from just silly to things that were downright criminal. At a job interview, not as a housekeeper, I was once asked if I liked house cleaning and I was stalked by someone who felt they had the right to intrude on my life in that way. A boss threatened to throw me down the stairs for being too polite, as that shows weakness! I won’t go through the whole list, but you get the picture. Though the circumstances will vary, I am guessing most women have a long list of instances they could talk about. Most men are aware of it too, even if they are not offenders themselves. I have seen things change in some ways, way too slowly, but there has been change and then we see it again and it sometimes seems as if nothing a has changed at all.
The past few years have seemed to signal change with an “Almost Woman President”, the “Me Too” Movement, women elected to more public offices than ever before and then the multiple women running for the Presidency in 2020. It has been a roller coaster ride of hope and disappointment with the old ideas and old ways hanging on, in spite of the bright moments of awareness focused on this issue. So many women had the hope of a woman President and breaking that glass ceiling and pattern of patriarchal domination. Not only were we hopeful for the progress it would make on gender issues, but because we had women who were so qualified, capable, deserving and would truly upgrade the quality of leadership for our country and make real changes so dearly needed. It was disappointing to see those gender biases spoken and demonstrated once again on our national stage and even some coming from women.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t think any woman should support or vote for a woman, just because she is a woman. I think we should vote for the most capable, qualified person with the best ideas, plans, integrity and qualifications that will do what is needed for our country and its people. If that is a woman, there is no reason to wonder if they are electable, likeable, strong enough to lead or should be taken seriously. It truly did break my heart to hear these arguments voiced by pundits on national TV and see them posted on social media. How can we still be there? My patience is running out and so is and patience of millions of American girls and women. Our nation is falling behind because of these “old and useless” ideas that are being perpetuated by fear and ignorance, as well as, an overabundance of ego and a lack of respect. Gender equality would be beneficial to both men and women. We have many examples around the world and yet, we cling stubbornly to the “old ways”. Historically this has never worked and it won’t now!
Yes, as Elizabeth Warren said, “It will happen! We just have to wait a little longer!” I am guessing we have probably missed out on that first President being Elizabeth, and that is a shame because I believe she would be an extraordinary and inspirational President. However, perhaps it will be a woman she has motivated by running for President because, “that’s what girls do!” In today’s world we need contributions from smart, capable people who are willing to get involved and give their all, and we need the best to lead. Gender should not be an obstacle or qualification. What is there to fear in smart, capable women? Equality does not take anything away from smart, capable men, we need them just as much. It only makes us stronger. One of my heroes is a young Muslim woman who said:
“Extremists have shown what frightens them the most …, A Girl with A Book!” – Malala Yousafzai
When will we stop fearing girls with books or a woman with a plan? When will little girls stop being told to act more like a girl, be lady-like, let the boys win, don’t make waves, be sweet and little boys stop being told not to cry, tough it out, man up or boys will be boys? Is that why we let the President get away with corruption and other atrocities and the Senate Majority Leaderl fail to do his job according to his oath of office –because “boys will be boys”?
I do have hope and know that things will change! I am just weary and can’t wait to see a world where things are different and everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their full potential and make this a better, kinder world for us all. To all the great men who support that vision I want to say “Thank you”!
What we say is important, but how we say it can sometimes be even more impactful. Putting that little twist of attitude into the conversation can make all the difference in how and what we are communicating. Humor and cleverness work their way into our communications and make a strong impression. Sarcasm and wit are two of the ways that we inject attitude into our communications and it has occurred to me that it is useful and possibly important, to be aware of how their usage is affecting the conversation.
First, what exactly are sarcasm and wit and how are they different?
Sarcasm – a) a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain b) a mode if satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual.(Merriam Webster)
Wit– a) /clever or apt humor b) astuteness of perception or judgement c) a talent for banner or persiflage. (Merriam Webster)
There is a range of both sarcasm and wit that can run from fairly light and fun to very dark and negative or even biting. They are both usually associated with humor, but are very different in their impact. Using them in our communication sets a tone in both how others perceive us and our own mental attitude and how we see others and the world around us. Both can make us laugh, but the feelings behind that laughter and the emotions both engender within us and those we are speaking to are quite different.
We don’t always realize either that difference or how impactful they can be. Becoming more aware is helpful both in communicating more genuinely and keeping our own attitude and energy on a more positive level.
Generally speaking, sarcasm tends to be negative with the intention to wound and can be directed or undirected. Wit is conveyed more in an observational way and is usually not directed toward a target or meant to wound. When we use sarcasm on a regular basis, it has a tendency to make our own attitude toward others and ourselves more negative or critical. So, while we are striking out and wounding others, we are also chipping away at our own self-esteem. There is usually anger behind sarcasm.
Wit is a higher-level expression that does not hold the caustic association that sarcasm does. When I started my life coaching business, I became more aware of the difference between these two different uses of language, tone and humor. I noticed how they were used in social media posts and in general conversation and how they seemed to affect not only the conversation, but people’s mood, demeanor and responses. Doing so led to an intentional effort to use less sarcasm and try to lean more toward wit. One thing that I noticed in doing this was less misunderstanding. I paid attention to how I felt about sarcasm and wit when they were directed toward me and when they were directed at someone else and I just heard them differently. There was definitely a difference and it was decidedly funnier when not directed at me. I noticed that a lot of bullying used statements that were sarcastic in nature. Most of us don’t see it that way, but it can feel that way to the person it is targeted toward.
Why is this important? The more aware we are of how our language affects us and those we communicate with, the more authentically we will be able to communicate and the more genuinely we can express ourselves. I am not saying we should or shouldn’t be sarcastic or witty in our communication. I am saying we should be intentional and know what and how we are communicating and expressing when we use them. Try paying attention and see what you think? Sometimes funny is not as funny as we think it is!
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is commonly defined as the release of feelings of hurt, resentment or revenge in an intentional and deliberate way. It does not have anything to do with whether the person being forgiven deserves forgiveness. It does not mean forgetting, excusing or condoning the offender and it does not mean that you have to reconcile or allow them in your life. It is an act of releasing debilitating feelings and regaining your power and your peace.
Anger, resentment, malice, blame and grudges are all legitimate emotions we experience in a world that is often unfair, cruel and intolerant. Things happen in our lives that make an enduring impact. People treat us in ways that are hurtful, unkind and undeserved. Feeling responsive emotions is natural and needed, however dwelling in those feelings and carrying them forward with us is a heavy burden to bear. It is unnecessary and will drag us down. It can be hard to let go of these emotions though, especially when there has been no vindication or validation of our feelings and no act of repentance or remorse from the offenders. It is a heavy burden that can affect us long-term in many different ways. it blocks us from feelings of joy, can impact our health and actually changes our brain. Additionally, we sometimes hold some of these feeling with regard to our own actions and past mistakes. This does as much good as banging your head against a wall, except that in the case of banging our head against a wall, we usually would stop when it hurts enough. That is more often than not, not the case with holding on to toxic and self-sabotaging emotions.
How can we let go and free ourselves from this burden of toxic and negative emotions and why should we when something really terrible has been done to us? The "why" is quite simple - because we deserve it! We deserve to let go and put down the burden of past injury and move freely forward. We can do this with forgiveness. When I talk of forgiveness, I am referring to the letting go of the feelings that are weighing us down and that has little or nothing to do with the offenders who have caused us injury. Feeling compassion, though and just being able to let feeling go is amazingly freeing. It does not absolve the wrong or the wrong-doer. but allows us to move on to the present time and release the past. Forgiving yourself is sometimes the most difficult form of letting go. We can walk away from other people and situations and not be reminded of the past more easily. That is hard to do when the forgiveness and letting go is with ourselves. If you remember that you are constantly evolving and the person you are today, is not the person you were in the past, it can be easier. You are letting go of the person you were yesterday to embrace the new and better person you have become. We are different in every moment. If we have learned from a mistake, it has served us and we can let it go. Holding on to it serves no purpose. A man who has a lot of pain due to nephropathy, told me when I asked him why he did not take an aspirin or use other types of pain relief to help him be more comfortable, answered saying -- he felt like he might deserve it. I know many people have feelings like this that are very hard to let go of. They have become part of their comfort zone and are as much a habit, as anything else. Still if they can let go of those old feelings, wherever it may have come from, and just be in the present moment, they will free themselves from what does not serve them and move into a better and more resourceful state.
How do you go about forgiving, whether forgiving others or yourself? Where do you start and how do you go about it? These 8 steps can give you a helpful guide to the process:
Feeling free of the heavy burden of anger, resentment and grudges is truly worth the effort and release it takes to forgive. It may seem difficult, but peace feels heavenly. I wish you peace!
Kate Olson, CHt, CPC, founder of Soul Fire Wisdom Life Coaching, Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP, Total Wellness Products. www.soulfirewisdom.com , www.embracechangehypnosis.com , 206-566-1615
About the Author:
Consumers Advocate. org is an editorial review company that dedicates their work to vetting hundreds of products and services, and often times the categories they cover are purchases that are important, complex or difficult to research. Their mission is to hope the brands and experiences you choose will improve your life today, tomorrow, and for the future."
Essential oils seem to be all the rage recently with DIY projects, gift giving and meditation sessions. However, do we have all the information on these adorable potion bottles? For those who are wondering what essential oils are, they are plant and flower extracts that are very concentrated. These are often used for aromatherapy and meditation, as well as, yoga and other practices. However essential oils can be used for DIY safe cleaning products and projects like candle making or even used for beauty, skin care and hair hydration products.
For essential oils, there are many things you can do in the DYI area, when it comes to beauty and self-care. If you want to mix them into a new beauty or hair product or routine, you must first use a carrier oil with it. Carrier oils are base or vegetable oils that are used to dilute the essential oil of your choosing. It may be olive oil, coconut oil, argon oil (all of which are perfect on their own for your hair or skin). You should mix the essential oil with a larger quantity of the neutral carrier oil in a few droplets. Therefore, by putting the pure essential oil directly on your skin, you avoid any irritation or damage you might, otherwise, experience.
One of the things you can do with essential oils are recipes to improve your hair health. Our hair is so delicate that it is weakened by chemicals and heat and becomes brittle. It can take a long time for it to recover its capacity and become strong again. Sometimes having a DIY hair mask once in a while, when you take a relaxing bath will do the trick safely and speed up the process. Each oil type has its own characteristics and properties that can add different benefits. Geranium oil is one type of oil that can really help for breakage. And it's not just good for your hair, it smells amazing!
One essential oil scent in particular is great to make hair shiny and healthy. It helps people with dandruff keep their scalp clean! This oil is the amazing, calming scent of lavender oil. It also has a relaxing effect and properties that are most commonly found in nighttime sleep products. Jojoba oil is perfect to moisturize and repair hair that has been damaged. Once you have mixed the carrier and essential oils, as part of your bedtime routine, you can apply it to your hair as a moisturizing mask.
If you want to DIY a nice hair mask a combination of olive oil, honey and jojoba oil would be great to make hair look lighter and smoother. The bonus is that it is completely safe! If you feel like you don’t have all the information to dive into the world of essential oils, including which brands are best, the best advice is educating yourself on the matter! There are resources for that. If you want to know more about the various properties of essential oils, check out this guide that might be very helpful in learning more about the subject and finding the best essential oils. www.https://www.consumersadvocate.org/essential-oils
About the Author: Anne Logue now resides in Pennsylvania. Anne has studied the healing arts extensively. She is a Reiki Master, trained in Quantum Touch, certified Hypnotherapist, certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Healing Touch, a form of energy healing that was founded by a Colorado native, Janet Mentegen. Anne’s ties to Colorado through Healing Touch keep her connected to the community, experimenting and developing new ways of creating change and new approaches to some of life’s curve balls. Her practice is in her home in Pennsylvania and she has done workshops and healing fairs there.
Anne’s father died when she was a freshman in college. One of the ways she dealt with this was through poetry, writing and art. She wrote a story about the sun, which was her way of figuring out who she was and what she was meant to do. The Story of the Sun was illustrated by Anne and is her view of life as a 20-year-old. That view still holds meaning for her and has become a way of connecting with children and helping them learn who they are and what they were meant to do. It integrates her interest and love of the healing arts with her artistic side, bringing a refreshing look at life to the readers. The Story of the Sun was published in 2017 and is Anne’s first book.
In addition to her advanced certification in Healing Touch, Anne has done extensive reading and reflection, including research on quantum physics and the holographic universe. She has done workshops and research in the Akashic Records, which are the virtual records that contain all of the information about us in our various incarnations and is a resource for incredible insight and healing. Bringing all of this information into resonance and integrating it with her personal experience has created a new way of experiencing reality. Her focus now is bringing that awareness and understanding to children. She has just finished a publicity campaign to reach audiences that may benefit. Her book has been translated into French and will soon be translated into Spanish. She has written another children’s book, which will be published in the near future.
I follow an on-line program called “The DailyOM” with Madisyn Taylor. She recently featured Edward Vilga, a financial specialist. The dialogue he started with Madisyn talked about detox. He said “Detoxing is a bold decision, but once you make it, you stand at a place where you can determine and create the future you desire.” This opened up a whole dialogue in my head about “detoxing”. Detoxing is not just giving up “junk food”. Detoxing means to me, facing the bad habits, negative patterns and beliefs that no longer work for me, around relationships, money, habits, everything.
Sometimes we lose clarity about our lives and when our lives are in high gear, they can become cluttered and not intentional in the actions and habits we pursue. We keep doing the same thing because to re-design our lives takes some thought and work. The pay-out is a re-structured lifestyle that helps us live the life we want, instead of creating blocks and challenges. When we want to “detox” from patterns or habits that have not been good for us, we have to look them squarely in the eye and realize all the components that they encompass.
One of my most significant lessons came from reading the book by Anita Moorjani, called “Dying to be Me”. Anita had cancer which resulted in large tumors throughout her body and she was brought to the hospital at a critical time. She had a “near death” experience and from that experience she learned that as we cross-over, we no longer have our identity or the limits or filters of our identity. We are no longer male or female, no longer a race, no longer from a certain country, don’t have a particular religion, so all of the blocks associated with these descriptions of ourselves are gone and we see ourselves in an undiluted manner filled with unconditional love.
So, if you have cancer and you are treated for cancer, is it the drugs that cure you, or the belief that they will heal you that does the work? Love is really the only effective treatment for any of our human woes and it is delivered to us through the belief system that we can most readily accept. Anita was taken to the hospital on February 2, 2006, by February 3, 2006, she knew she was free of cancer. Her doctors told her husband, “We have a problem, we can’t find the cancer.” Her husband said, “Why is that a problem?” and the doctors said, “Well, we don’t know how to treat it.” It took until February 27, 2006 before the hospital staff acknowledged that she had no cancer in her body and she was permitted to go home.
Whether we know it or not, we are all creatures of habit and emotional beings and our learning systems are hard wired to connect with our emotions. This system is on such an integral level that we are barely aware of it, and we seldom acknowledge it. When we are trying to make a change in our lives, to adopt a new “system” or eliminate a faulty or destructive pattern, we need to approach it from an emotional standpoint. Love is the greatest motivator. If we love ice cream and associate it with happy and positive memories, when we choose to eliminate ice cream from our diets, we need to find a positive substitute. I remember when my daughter was trying to quit smoking and she called me so desperate because she had so many associations with smoking. I said “Well, why don’t you just go for a walk?” And she said, “You don’t understand, everything I do, I used to have a cigarette.” We have to unlearn and relearn our habits in order to change. Yes, it was a habit, but it was connected with positive emotional experiences.
Try listening to what you are saying to yourself each day and then determine if this conversation is someone who loves you and wishes you only good. If these are not your thoughts about yourself, you can correct them. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
As Marie Forleo says in her book “Everything is Figureoutable”, people are not failures. A failure is a short-sighed version of a longer story. If you deem an event or a circumstance, a person, really anything as a failure, it’s because you haven’t seen what happens after that event that redeems the whole situation. Look for those outcomes, figure out how this, event, person, situation can benefit you if you look at it from a new perspective. Maybe the “failure” was meant to do just that. Change the paradigm.
For many years, a lot of human behavior was deemed “unacceptable” by society and so the term “in the closet” was coined. We also all know the term “skeletons in the closet”. What does “being in the closet” actually mean except pushing down all the feelings of shame, anger, worthlessness, depression, prejudice, fear and similar emotions until they are so well buried that they have altered our lives. Once they are acknowledged and someone comes “out of the closet” what happens but a turbulent cascade of feelings, releasing all of the self-doubt about who they were. Once they have the courage to be recognized for who they are, they can claim so much more and live a life being true to themselves. During the time they denied their feelings, were they worthless? No, they still could live in a manner to help others, but they were not able to enjoy the freedom and joy of knowing who they truly are.
If everything is “Figureoutable” and we can re-program our thinking, lets look for the way to “detox” our thinking and eliminate the stuck habits and beliefs that create stagnant and blocked emotions. Be your own best friend and listen to the positive things you say and think about yourself!!
About the Author: Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Coach, Master Hypnotherapist, EFT & NLP Master Practitioner & Trainer and Reiki Master located in Seattle, at Soul Fire Wisdom Life Coaching & Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP . Kate offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding Path, Purpose and Peace. Kate focuses on integration of mind, body, spirit wellness. It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creative expression and embracing change. She is passionate about creativity, travel, personal growth and enjoying life. She has two other wellness-related businesses, Total Wellness Products, offering healing resources and products and Circle of Love Retreats. All four businesses operate as Dba's under Total Well Resources, LLC. Kate is a speaker, author and radio host. Her new radio show/ podcast starting in September is "Soul Fire Wisdom". Formerly she hosted "Embrace Change with Kate".
Most people would agree that our feelings have a powerful impact in our lives. Feelings make us aware that we are alive and without them we don’t really function well. What are feelings and how do they function in our mind and body? How do we deal with them and why is it important? The answers to these questions give us perspective on how feelings relate to our health and wellness.
As an empath, I have been sensitive to and aware of feelings (in an energy sense), my own and others. It has always been apparent to me that feelings impact our health. As a child, I could tell that my Mother’s anger was not good for her and I could see the effects on my Dad when his blood pressure went up. I knew it made me feel sick when I worried too much. That did not necessarily make me stop worrying, but I was aware of the physical effects and knew they were not good for me.
In my studies as a Hypnotherapist, NLP & Reiki practitioner, as well as, my study into Neuroscience and Energy Psychology, I have found support for my intuitive suspicions. I have gotten some answers as to how things work and I am convinced that the way we deal with our emotions is a key predictor of our well-being.
The dictionary gives three definitions for feelings:
(1) feelings are basic physical sensations, such as touch, temperature, etc.
(2) feelings are emotional states or reactions
(3) a belief, such as suspicion, apprehension. (Merriam-Webster)
Are feelings the same as emotions? Though related, emotions and feelings, are two sides of the same coin. Emotions are lower-level responses coming from the sub-cortical regions of the brain, dealing with conscious thought, reasoning and decision-making. They create biochemical and electrical reactions in the body and alter its physical state. Feelings on the other hand, originate in the neo-cortical regions of the brain. Feelings are initiated by emotions, but filtered by personal experience, beliefs, memories, and thoughts linked to our emotions. Feelings are the result of our brain’s perception initiating from emotions.
Interestingly, the relationship between emotions and feelings works in reverse, as well. Initially, an emotion leads to a feeling. A feeling can also initiate an emotion. If you encounter a snake and experience fear, in the future, just thinking about a snake can result in activating that basic emotional response with all the same chemical reactions in the body. Nature intended that we experience emotions and they are instinctual. They can affect health if we are constantly exposed to circumstances that evoke negative or stressful emotions. The release of cortisol into our system and the impact on our adrenals, heart and blood pressure creates tremendous impact. Our nervous system and body were not meant to be in a constant state of fear and stress. Early humans, who were in constant fear, with few resources for protection and survival, did not live very long lives.
There are fewer real dangers in our lives today, but unfortunately, many more imagined dangers or worries created over possible negative circumstances that will likely never occur. Anxiety and stress are prevalent in our world and they take a big toll.
“Chronic Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.”
(The American Psychological Association, March 21, 2014)
Stress and anxiety result from feelings, the thoughts or meanings we attribute to our emotions around something in the past or future. Most of those feelings and harmful chemical reactions in our bodies are not related to what is actually happening now. We are making a choice to imagine something that may or may not ever happen. We are choosing to actually experience the negative trauma from an imagined occurrence. This causes needless illness, disease and dysfunction in our bodies and can lead to early death.
Our feelings are intricately related to our health. The medical community is beginning to realize this and place more importance on treating patients in a holistic way, taking into consideration, not only physical symptoms, but emotions and feelings in their treatment plans and assignment of expected outcomes. Research bears this out in a government study from the CDC, Healthy People 2020 Approach to Health-Related Quality of Life & Well-Being.
This is definitely encouraging, but more is needed. Individuals need to take responsibility, become more aware of their feelings and learn ways to manage stress, anxiety and depression. By making better choices this can be done. We can’t depend on curing disease. It is necessary to prevent some of the dysfunction and choose to be healthier! We do have the tools to make these changes and with more awareness, we can do this! It is up to us!
About the Author: Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Coach, Master Hypnotherapist, EFT & NLP Master Practitioner & Trainer and Reiki Master located in Seattle, at Soul Fire Wisdom Life Coaching & Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP . Kate offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding Path, Purpose and Peace. Kate focuses on integration of mind, body, spirit wellness. It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creative expression and embracing change. She is passionate about creativity, travel, personal growth and enjoying life. She has two other wellness-related businesses, Total Wellness Products, offering healing resources and products and Circle of Love Retreats. All four businesses operate as Dba's under Total Well Resources, LLC. Kate is a speaker, author and radio host. Her new radio show/ podcast starting in September is "Soul Fire Wisdom". Formerly she hosted "Embrace Change with Kate".
It might seem strange for someone who encourages you to “Embrace Change” to be talking about the power and importance of rituals, but there is a place for ritual in our lives and a balance or synergy between ritual and change is actually what is needed!
What is ritual? If you look in the dictionary you will see references to religious ceremony or a prescribed and ceremonious order, that is not what I am talking about. If you look further you will see that ritual can be:
This defines the type of ritual that I am going to talk about. I have a morning ritual that I start my day with and since I have been practicing this “ritual”, I have realized how powerful it is and wondered why this is so. I did some research I’d like to share with you. I think you might want to develop your own rituals after you hear how powerful and important, they can be.
First let me tell you about my morning ritual. Every morning without exception, when I wake up, I do what almost everyone else does and go to the bathroom and then I drink a large glass of water and run a warm washcloth over my face. I then go back to bed for a 10 to 20 minutes and do something similar to mediation that involves intentional positive thought focused on the moment and this day. I note what I am thankful for today, do some deep intentional breathing and I make it a point to smile. I think smiling is really important! During this time, I can feel the aches and pains lightening and leaving my body and then when I get up, I stretch out my muscles and notice how my body is feeling. I make my bed, (that really does make me feel both more organized and more motivated) and I open up the curtains and blinds in my room. My room gets a lot of light and I love looking out at the trees and greenery. I then brush my teeth and go down stairs. I open the blinds downstairs and turn on my music (always). I have to have my morning music. It is an important part of setting my mood. Sometimes, I then go back upstairs and get ready, if I have an appointment. If I don’t have appointments, I’ll make some coffee or tea and relax while I look over my schedule and check my social media and email. This is not complicated or out of the ordinary in any way, but having this simple and positive structure to start my day does some important things that help the rest of day go well. I was happy to find that there are some science-backed reasons why following this morning ritual makes everything go better.
What does this ritual do for me? To start with it gets me moving in a kind, gentle and positive way. Shouldn’t we be treating ourselves with as much kindness as possible? I remember when I use to set the alarm for the last minute possible with a couple of snooze alarms and then push myself to get up with no time to orient or think, and get ready. I was usually running a little late and stressed, rushed out the door wishing I were still in bed asleep and tried to force my day into a positive direction. That never seemed to feel right and the feeling I was starting my day with was generally not positive. Can you guess how my days often went? Second, this intentional order helps me to focus, concentrate and direct my attention.
How do these seemingly simple and meaningless actions I have chosen to take do so much? There is mounting research and evidence that these rituals, though they may seem irrational and arbitrary on the surface, have a strong impact on regulating our behaviors and level of performance, as well as, setting the tone and direction of our mood and mind flow or the sequence of our thoughts. Studies in the sports field have found that simple, seemly meaningless rituals can, in fact, help us to run faster, jump higher or solve problems more quickly. So, let’s say you are a tennis player and you have a ritual that you do before every match. Which many famous tennis stars do! Let’s say, you always drink a sport drink, practice your backhand and recite a certain mantra. The act of performing this ritual in your chosen order will reduce performance anxiety, set your mind flow in a positive direction and create a success mindset, as well as, diminish doubts or thoughts around failure. We know this because there have been studies in neuroscience where control groups practiced rituals and other groups did not practice rituals and were scientifically tested measuring brain activity. They were measured for performance anxiety using brain wave neural signaling. Goal achievement and performance level were also tracked and the groups who practiced rituals performed significantly better in all cases.
Personally, I think that the quality and intention of the ritual would probably have the effect of even greater performance improvement, but so far, the research shows that almost any ritual practiced routinely has the effect of lessening performance anxiety and worry and therefore, improves performance. This is great news, because it means that we can all improve performance in any area of our lives, while reducing stress and its negative health consequences by practicing simple rituals.
Creating rituals is easy and we all probably already have some that we don’t even think about or realize we are doing. Getting enough sleep is one problem area for me. I am going to start there. I plan on creating a bedtime ritual that I am hoping will help me get more and better sleep. It looks like they have already proven this to be true, so I am looking forward to getting better zzzz’s already! Is there an area where a ritual might help you perform better and be more successful?
Blog By Kate Olson
Kate is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Trainer, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Life Coach and more. To find out more about her or her work, click the button below:
About the Blog
After 4 years of featuring at least 1 guest Author a month this blog changed in 2020. I loved featuring the posts of other great people who also believe in mind, body, spirit wellness. I will continue to feature articles submitted to me on this topic that align with my own mission. However, finding & reaching out to others is time consuming and I do it for my radio show, Soul Talks and other groups and projects and so for this blog i will be ramping up my own perspective and posting mostly my own blogs. I will be happy & excited to post articles from those who submit them to me.