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How to find the love you deserve (part 3)

How to move on from dysfunctional relationships

This article is part three of a series of three. Here are PART 1 and PART 2 (please read / watch these first)

In order to create lasting change in your relationship patterns so you can find the love you crave and create the relationship you deserve, you must TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the way you act and feel. What does that mean ? 

It is easy to blame others, society or even yourself for the way things are but what good does that do ? Does that attitude help get you where you want to be ? Chances are it doesn’t. 

You are fully responsible for the way you respond to situations. Responsibility means to have the ability to choose your response to what happens rather than behave automatically without thinking things through based on the conditioning you have received throughout your life. When you focus on yourself and your behaviours with gentle compassion you give yourself a chance to choose your reaction to challenging feelings or situations. In this way you can work on things you can control without beating yourself up for what you previously did with less awareness. This is how you can get back in the driving seat. 

QUESTION :  In what ways are you not taking responsibility in your love life ?

Even in the most difficult situation you are half of the picture. What are you doing to allow things to go the way they have always gone ? What part are you playing in the game ? If you want to change a situation you need to know what you can do differently rather than hoping others will magically change and make everything better without you doing anything at all.

Are you trying to change your partner ? 

EXERCISE : Make a mental picture of the person you’re dating exactly as they function today — warts and all —  If they never changed, would you still want to be with them in five years?

Answer honestly. You need to stare reality in the face as uncomfortable as it may be.

If you have answered NO  you need to ask yourself another question : is what you want to change in your partner a personality trait or is it a behaviour ?

Character traits (such as shyness for example)  are almost impossible to change. If you cannot accept a particular trait in your partner you need to either leave them or accept that you are condemning yourself to a life of misery with them.

If on the other hand it is a behaviour that you want changed, there might be a chance your partner may change but that depends entirely on how much they want to change and how committed they are to making an effort in the right direction.

Basically people cannot change their traits and can only change their behaviours if they really want to. And if you are spending your time trying to change someone who doesn’t want to because YOU cannot live with it, you are either falling into the category of “fixer” or you are ignoring the fact that you need to leave the relationship because it has become toxic.

How to break negative relationship habits 

Now, I normally don’t like maths but when it comes down to change here’s my winning formula :

(Insight + Behavior Change ) x Repetition = Identity Change = Different Outcome

Also : Intention (to change)  + Attention  (to old patterns of behaviour) = a capacity to catch yourself when you are about to repeat old behaviours which leads to – Choice to do something different.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. First you invest your time and energy in answering questions that increase your awareness around your patterns so you uncover your automatic ways of responding in relationships and become aware of the motivations behind them.
  2. Following that, you catch yourself when you’re triggered to fall back into old behaviours and you consciously decide to do something different instead.
  3. You shift your view of yourself as someone capable of a good, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship and decide you will not accept anything less than that.
  4. You keep building new positive patterns paying attention to strengthening your new identity so you can prevent and manage trigger situations that would have you go back to old ways.

Start the process of change now 

To start this process I would ask you to get a pen and paper and write or respond to these questions speaking out loud. It’s not enough to just think about them. Thoughts have a way to get lost and keep meandering in our minds unless we pin the down either in writing or through spoken word.

First of all you need to target the behaviours that hold you back and learn to replace them with new ones:

  • What attempts have you already made to change your repeating behaviours?
  • Think about your last relationship and ask yourself, what were the earliest warning signs you saw that could have tipped you off to potential problems?
  • How did you respond to those warning signs? How would you have wanted to respond ? How will you respond in future ?

In order to change you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You need to be willing to be uncomfortable for a while and ’embrace the suck’. Can you bring an attitude of curiosity to the investigation of what you are finding so challenging ? You need to make a commitment to stop avoiding difficult stuff and just face it.

  • Are you really willing to change ?
  • Which of the ‘types’ do you relate the most to ?
  • What behaviours would be hardest for you to change when it comes to responding to the old type of man / woman you are attracted to?
  • What feelings will be the most difficult for you to sit with as you start to change your own behaviours?

Finally, you need to have a good idea of where you are going and why. If you just keep on thinking about what you don’t want that’s what you’ll keep on getting.

  • How would you describe the reward you’re going to get as a result of engaging in this process of change ? In other words: why change ? what are you going to get out of it ?
  • What’s standing in the way ? What are you afraid of ?
  • What new behaviour do you need to implement to reap the reward of a great relationship ?
  • What do you attitude / belief / behaviour do you need to leave behind ?
  • From where you are right now what do you think your identity tells you to expect from your romantic relationships? What are your expectations now and how are they keeping you where you are ?

Once you do the work you are on your way to better relationships. Remember that this is a process that requires constant practice and commitment. Like getting physically fit requires you to exercise every day at the gym you need to keep going to achieve and maintain your goals. There are no quick fixes in life but the reward is worth it ! Focus on that and you will reap the fruits of your hard labour so you can find the love you deserve.

How to find the love you deserve (part 2)

Reasons people end up in dysfunctional relationships

In the last article we looked at the main dysfunctional relationship patterns people get into:

  1. Idealizing the external
  2. Chasing the emotionally unavailable
  3. Rescuing and fixing
  4. Self sacrifice

Now let’s have a look at why do we repeat these patterns

REASON #1 FEAR

You are afraid of Having a Good Relationship

You may think why would I be afraid of having a good relationship ? It makes sense that I would be avoiding a bad one but a good one ? The answer is that openness and joy, actually make us feel more vulnerable than we may feel it is safe to be. Positive emotions potentially expose you to rejection and pain which can be a terrifying prospect especially if you’ve experienced heartbreak before. So in a good relationship you may feel terrified and anxious and therefore avoid it at all costs.

You are scared of Intimacy

Intimacy can be defined as a desire to know and care for the another in a way that is mutual as well as the ability to be vulnerable and trust one another. If you are stuck in the same relationship patterns you may have learnt to be pretty independent and self-sufficient as a result of the fact that you feel nobody else will care for you or meet your needs. Perhaps somebody badly betrayed you or something hurtful struck you down and now you cannot trust, as you are scared you may not survive another blow.

REASON #2 DENIAL

Denial is a defence mechanism that your mind has produced to defend you from the possible threat of facing something that could destroy you. If something is so upsetting that it threatens to overwhelm or destroy you then your mind will push it away and repress it. When you are in denial you are not in touch with your need for intimacy (to be close and to trust others) . You may hardly ever have had your needs met so you don’t even remember you have them. If somebody asked you what you were looking for in a partner you may answer simplistically. You may be stuck in a fantasy. Or you may be focussed on a check list of items that have nothing to do with your emotional needs. You cannot even imagine what it would be like to be treated well or to be happy in a relationship.

You are in denial of anger

When you are in denial of old feelings you may not be aware that you are in fact angry and your anger may have turned in on yourself.

You are in denial of sadness

You could be unaware of a deep old sadness. It could be that the original experience that caused you to be wounded has happened so long ago that you can’t even remember it. Or it could be that the experience is too painful to be recalled . The sadness you feel now is the old sadness revisited.

You are in denial of your own responsibility

This is when you don’t want to look at yourself and you avoid taking any responsibility for what went wrong in your past relationship/s and instead blame your partner or others. By refusing to ask what you could have done differently and not learning the lesson you are bound to repeat similar mistakes in the future.

REASON #3 IMPULSIVE COPING STYLE

You have low tolerance for discomfort

If you are impulsive you will just jump in to a relationship without thinking much of the consequences in advance. You may feel uncomfortable with feeling bored or lonely, sad or angry and you just want to jump into action. Alternatively you may be afraid of thinking too much of the situation in case you find something wrong and then you have to deal with the inevitable disappointment. This way you may end up with similar kind of partners because you have not taken the time to go slow and properly vet your potential partner.

You are drawn to drama

You tend to get into relationships marked by emotional highs and lows. You may come from a home where there was a high of emotion or conflict. You may be afraid that a good relationship equals too much stability and that means boredom and therefore emotional death. You may feel addictively drawn to relationships that you know are not good for you and that you know will not work. If you already use drugs or alcohol to self medicate or you use other addictive behaviours to cope with life in general your dependency in relationships may be just another way that your impulsive coping style gets manifested.

Reason #4: DISTORTED BELIEFS

Sometimes it is our deep held beliefs – which are the foundation for all behaviour – that are holding you back.

You have unrealistic expectations

Do you believe that a relationship will permanently change the way you feel, so you’ll finally be happy ? Do you believe that if only you had a relationship you would automatically :

  • feel fulfilled

  • have someone who will be there no matter what

  • you’ll finally have a gratifying sex life

  • you’ll be swept way from the mundane realities of everyday life

If so, you are in for a fall ! Inevitably you will realize this relationship , like the one before, cannot meet these expectations. You are attempting to use the other rather than relating to them and you are trying to get something so unrealistic from a relationship that you end up disappointed on a regular basis.

You have Negative Core Beliefs

If you have deeply negative core beliefs about yourself you may be interfering with your ability to find and maintain a long-term, positive relationship.

  • Do you believe you are unlovable?

  • Do you believe you are helpless?

  • Do you believe a combination of the two?

You are rigid

You restrict yourself to a narrow selection of partners and fail to see the big picture. You may get caught up in non-important details, and not see how a partner may be good for you just because they don’t fit it with your rigid idea of the requirements they should meet.

You are trying to get over a previous trauma by putting yourself through a new one.

If you have previously experienced a trauma you may try to gain some mastery over the original traumatic event by putting yourself in similar traumatic situations now and hoping to react differently.

Trauma can be anything you perceive as traumatic, regardless of whether others would find it traumatic.

SELF-EVALUATION

  • So, what do you think are your triggers for repeating the same old patterns in your relationships ?
  • Which ones of these reasons struck a chord ? If you think none do, have another look at the denial section !
  • What in your past could have set the stage for this ?

And finally : Do you believe you can truly change the underlying causes of your behaviour? This is essential if you want to change . In the next article we will deal with how to practically change these patterns.

This article was inspired by the book : Dr Seth Love Prescription. Overcome Repeated Relationship Patterns by Seth Meyers.

How to find the love you deserve (part I)

Overcome negative relationship patterns

 

Do you keep going out with  the same kind of man / woman ? Do you feel stuck in a rut where you keep on repeating the same mistakes over and over again and end up broken-hearted ? Find out what type of “relationship repeater” you are.

THE IDEALISER:

  • You are drawn to partners with a particular physical type, appearance, professional status (whether it’s a great job or no job at all), level of ambition, or age.
  • You prioritize external characteristics above all else.
  • You place more importance on sexual attractiveness than emotional attractiveness.
  • You see your partner as a reflection of yourself.
  • You harbour the fantasy that someone with the appearance or professional status you are drawn to will be enough to make you happy.
  • You eventually end up feeling like you have little in common with your partner by the end of the relationship.
  • Your relationship consistently end because you don’t place a sufficient priority on the internal, emotional characteristics of your partners.

ASK YOURSELF: 

  1. How would someone describe your professional and physical type? Write down these external characteristics.
  2. Has anyone ever idealised any of your external characteristics? Did you feel truly appreciated when they did that?
  3. Why do you think it’s tempting to idealise external characteristics?
  4. Can you think of people you know who repeat this pattern?
  5. What are some emotional attributes that are worthy of more attention in the beginning of a relationship?
  6. Write them down and keep this list for later.

THE EMOTIONAL CHASER:

  • You tend to have partners who ultimately won’t commit and settle down, who cheat on you, or whom you put on a pedestal.
  • You are usually more emotionally committed to your relationship than your partner is.
  • You feel like your partner has all the control and power in the relationship.
  • You often feel less worthy than your partner, as if your partner were more interesting or desirable than you
  • You believe you have to work hard to keep them interested because you feel that they could very easily slide through your fingers and slip away.
  • You try to shape yourself into being what you think your partner wants.
  • You notice that your partners always seem to have excuses for why they can’t make more time for you or why they don’t want to take the relationship to the next level.
  • You feels like you’re waiting and hoping for your partner to realise that you are the one they really want.
  • You have a hard time imagining yourself settling for a love that is anything less than romantic and intense.
  • You see your partners as too good for you, better than you, or unattainable.
  • What motivates you is the prospect that if you can attain the love and affection of your lover you can finally experience the bliss of feeling good enough.
  • You are trying to prove to unavailable partners that you are good enough, that you are worth settling down for, you are on a mission to win the love of unavailable partners.

ASK YOURSELF

  1. Whose affection and love you have worked hard to get but have never fully received?
  2. How did the chase end? Did you get what you wanted?
  3. What was the most difficult part of the situation to accept?
  4. Looking back, was the chasing done in pursuit of a specific person, or did it become about something bigger?

THE RESCUER:

  • You regularly attach yourself to partners who are emotionally unstable in some way.
  • You focus on and worry about your partner more than they do about themselves.
  • You repeatedly finds yourself with partners who at first seem to be sweet and have great potential (while also being slightly helpless or misguided), but before long reveal themselves to be emotionally volatile or unstable, aggressive and controlling, unhappy, or unable to cope with some aspect of their lives.
  • You often believe that love trumps everything and that ending a relationship would mean giving up on or abandoning the person you love.
  • You desperately try to help your partner but, at root, you are trying to change them
  • You tend to have partners with histories of anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.
  • You come from a family in which you felt the need to take care of a parent or sibling, or in which there was a high level of turmoil and drama.
  • You have invested all of your energy in the fantasy of who your boyfriend / girlfriend could become in the future as opposed to banking on who they are in the here-and-now. You have a fantasy that your love could transform them.
  • You don’t realise you’re supposed to be a partner — not a therapist or a life coaches.
  • You eventually start to feel crazy or to doubt yourself thinking the problem might lie in you.
  • You tend to be very strong, resilient, highly intuitive, sensitive, and giving .
  • You seek partners that are emotionally broken and dysfunctional, helpless,  who can never ultimately rise to the occasion,  wounded souls that can also be controlling, erratic, and emotionally volatile.

ASK YOURSELF 

  1.  Have you ever tried to rescue a wounded soul? If so, which type? If not, why do you believe this is one pattern you wouldn’t fall into?
  2. Can you recall a time when you got to know someone and could see that he or she was emotionally broken? How did that affect your developing friendship or relationship? How should it affect your developing relationship?
  3. What might the appeal be of forging a relationship with a wounded soul? Why would a person fall for someone who is broken?
  4. What are the essential differences between a wounded soul and the average man with typical imperfections?
  5. Do You Have a Fix-It Mindset?

THE SACRIFICER:

  • You repeatedly have partners who verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abuse you.
  • You have noticed that your partner’s moods tend to leap, without warning, from one end of the spectrum to the other.
  • You often fear that one wrong move could trigger your partner to get angry and begin an abusive cycle.
  • You see yourself as trapped and betrayed in your relationships; you feel too guilty to leave and too afraid of what your partner might do if you tried to do so.
  • You try to excuse your partner’s abusive behaviour by saying things like, “It only happened once,” or “He/ she only does it when he gets mad.”
  • You eventually begin to wonder if you’re going insane, because your partner does such an able job of putting the blame on you
  • You lose your grasp on what normal behaviour in a relationship looks like and fear that the abuse has damaged you to the point that future healthy lovers wouldn’t want to be with you.
  • You believe your partner is treating you the way you deserve to be treated..
  • The constant abuse convinces you there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

ASK YOURSELF 

  1. Has anyone ever mistreated you verbally / physically / sexually ? If not, how have you avoided relationships with such partners?
  2. What would you do if someone new were to abuse you in some way ?
  3. What do you think is the hardest type of abuse to spot in other people’s relationships ?
  4. What would be the hardest type of abuse to spot in your own relationship ?

In the next article I shall look at what causes these relationship patterns to come about and what to do to move away from them and discover the love you deserve.

This article was inspired by the book : Dr Seth Love Prescription. Overcome Repeated Relationship Patterns by Seth Meyers.

How to manifest the life you want

The truth about manifesting

Imagine you are sitting in the middle of a dark theatre. Then suddenly a spot light appears.  The only thing you can see is whatever the spotlight shines its light upon. That is your reality. You may think that is all reality but the truth is it is only a fraction of it. You decide where to point the light and wherever you do that’s what you get ! The universe is a mirror of us. Our external reality is a reflection of our internal reality. The world reflects back to you whatever you believe about it and your place in it.

Are you getting the opposite of what you want ?

Imagine you are the captain of a ship sailing on the wide open ocean. The crew follows your orders to the letter. You just need to tell it where to go. But instead of telling it where you want to go you keep on telling it where you don’t. “I don’t want to go to Hell Island! it’s full of horrible people there and there is nothing to eat and the weather is terrible all year round! No, I don’t want to go to Hell Island! Please don’t take me there!”

Guess where you end up going ? The crew doesn’t know where else to take you, all they hear is “Hell Island! Hell Island”!

So stop asking for what you don’t want and focus on its opposite: What you do want. 

Asking for what you want…

Some people use this simple principle to try to attract to themselves what their ego wants in their life. More money, a better job, a mate, you name it. And although there is nothing wrong with wanting these things, if the request comes from your ego you may end up in trouble when you do get what you asked for. This is because the ego tries to get you ‘stuff’ based on a dream, a fantasy of what getting that stuff will be like. Often we have no idea what that really would entail and it might just be the opposite of what would make us happy !

What if I don’t know what I want ?

The other problem is that we often have no idea what we really want, and that’s because the ego has no idea what would satisfy our deeper needs. It hears ideas about money or fame or having children or achievement as the ultimate goals that will bring it happiness and believes the story. The problem is that’s just a story and what makes somebody else happy might not make you happy. The ego doesn’t know what would make you happy. Only your deeper self does. (More on this later, read on)

I don’t have enough money…

Many people think that if only they had more money then everything would be ok. There are many problems with this:

  1.  money is a means to an end and not an end in itself so you’d be better off asking for the end object or service than money itself. ie. “I want to go on holiday to the Bahamas”, not “I want money to buy a ticket to go to the Bahamas”.
  2. asking for money reflects the idea that we don’t have enough. If you believe that you don’t have enough then the universe will register that and will keep on giving you more of the same. Instead try to focus on being grateful for what the many blessings you already have and you’ll get more of those.
  3. too often underneath the idea that you don’t have enough lies the basic insecurity that you aren’t enough. And if you aren’t enough, anything you get is not going to be enough. So you are just stuck in a scarcity mentality.

Fear vs Freedom

What to do instead ? The solution to this conundrum is to surrender to the higher self, the inner teacher, the part of us that is much bigger and wiser than our ego. This inner voice, the inner counsel always knows what is best for us in a way that might even frighten the ego. This is because the ego wants safety at all costs, while our higher self wants our ultimate growth, happiness and freedom to expand out of our comfort zone. You will be most aware of the difference between the ego and the higher self when you have a decision to make.

Your ‘head’ will always counsel you towards safety. Your ‘heart’ will always counsel you towards expansion. Your head tries to keep you small. Your heart wants you to grow. But growing can be scary, because you are entering unknown territory, so if you feel a little scared of what one of the inner voices is telling you to do you might just have tapped into the wisdom your heart.

How to be happy

So listening to your ‘heart’ (or your inner teacher, wise counsel, higher self, sometimes also experienced as God) is the way forward.

But what if you cannot hear the voice of the inner self ?  It is hard to listen to the inner voice if you are surrounded by constant distraction and never spend a moment looking inside. Facebook, mobile phones, TVs are pulling our attention away from the inner voice on a regular basis.

A simple practice to connect to your Inner Guidance

  1. Switch everything off, sit down (or lie down) and be still
  2. Take a few deep breaths and relax for a few minutes.
  3. Go to a place of peace or stillness in your mind and allow yourself to feel your feelings. Do not try to feel differently from what you are feeling, just accept whatever it is you are feeling.
  4. If you notice the feeling is negative , while accepting what you are feeling, imagine what you’d like to feel instead, as if your life were already perfect.  Connect to this reality and let yourself experience it as if it were already real.
  5. Ask for your Inner Teacher to appear. Maybe it is just a presence, a feeling, or a knowing or maybe you can even see it.  When you are connected to the inner wiser self ask: What feels like the right thing to do for me to bring about this change ? What is going to get me closer to what I want ? What feels right ?
  6. Now listen and make space to receive. Open your heart to its wisdom.

If your analytical mind is interfering with the process by distracting you with judgements you need to relax more and pay no heed to its criticisms. It’s just the ego getting scared and trying to protect you from the unknown. You can reassure yourself you’ll listen to it later. But for now pay attention only to the exercise. Drop your judgements and connect to the deeper truth of the present moment.

Follow these steps and you’ll access the most valuable teacher and therapist you’ll ever have. The coach that knows you the best. Remember this is a PRACTICE. You don’t run a marathon by going to the gym once. You need to keep at it and commit until you get the results you want.

Remember, it is never the experiences we have that keep us stuck but the judgements about them. It is the resistance to feeling our feelings. Move into the feeling and trust it has something invaluable to teach you.

For more articles on related topics see

How to be Happy

You are what you believe 

How to Get Unstuck

unstuckFeeling Stuck in your Old Ways ?

When we are blocked in an area of our lives it often is due to the fact that we feel safer that way. We may feel unhappy but that is easier to deal with than our fear of the unknown. We begin to change when the pain we experience in staying stuck is bigger than the anticipated pain of change.

A lot of fear comes down to our negative core beliefs : deeply held beliefs acquired some time in the past due to painful experiences. Becoming conscious and challenging these beliefs is the first step in the process of change.

For a moment, think about something you would really like to do or be right now but don’t feel able to. When you’ve got that, write it down. Do that now. Maybe you have always wanted to be an artist so write down “I am a capable and talented artist”.

The Trouble with Positive Affirmations

Now, in all probability a voice in your head has just emerged to criticize this statement bringing up all sorts of reasons why this is either impossible or a bad idea. Positive affirmations can give us a sense of safety and hope if we let them but at first you will probably feel they sound fake, embarassing or not right. No surprise there.  If you have spent all your life bludgeoning yourself with negative beliefs such as “I am worthless” or “I am not good enough” or “I must be perfect to deserve success” anything else will sound unfamiliar and syrupy or cheesy . So saying to yourself ” I am lovable just as I am” or “I am capable and confident” will surely sound untrue at first.

The problem with not accepting a belief because it doesn’ t sound right though is that feelings are a result of thoughts and if you want to change a feeling you have got to change the thought first. It’s a bit like the idea of “fake it til you make it”. You can’t wait to feel it to believe it, you gotta believe it to feel it! Luckily there are some ways to get around this obstacle, but all of these do involve a certain willingness to suspend judgement and take a leap of faith, as well as engage our rational mind doubting limiting old beliefs.

Seek out the Monster in your Head

So what is that critical monster in your head saying when you tell it you already are what you want to be ?( After saying your affirmation: i.e. “I am ok just as I am” )

Listen to the objections that come your way. What s the cruel voice saying inside your head ? “so you’re ok as you are… ah ah sure you are!”, “who are you kidding?”, “You are ugly”, “You will never change”, “You can’t do anything right”, “No-one will ever love you unless you are perfect”, etc etc… You will be amazed at the rotten things you can come up with. Write them down.  These are your personal negative core beliefs.

Become a Mind Investigator

Once you have written them down you can start having a good look at where these beliefs come from: Mom and dad? Your school bully? The boy/girl you were in love with when you were ten? Teachers that pushed you too hard? Your little jealous sister ? Scan your blurts for possible sources. Time travel back into your life in five year increments and list by name who influenced you the most in each block of time.

Once you have identified these challenge their opinions. What self serving reason could they have had to have done or said what they did do or say? How did their own worldview influence them ? What did they believe about themselves ? What messages did they grow up with ? Remember this is not about blaming or condoning, just understanding and distinguishing their beliefs from what yours would be if you hadn’t accepted theirs as true. If there is still a lot of emotional energy involved in recalling these memories you might have to release it first so you can forgive them and yourself and move on.

Keep in mind that it is also possible your negative beliefs may come from subtle non direct messages received from your environment or from an experience of something that happened to you where others were not directly involved:

Maybe you felt different because of a situation you found yourself in; maybe you were abandoned by a significant other; maybe you fell ill and became isolated; maybe you were born with something that set you apart from others and you yourself came up with the negative conclusion that you were not Ok just as you were: the possibilities are endless and very personal.

Challenge the Critical Voice

Whatever your monster is, after it has been brought up to the light of day you can start working on challenging its critical voice and changing those negative beliefs that keep you stuck and unhappy. If you would like help with a practical cognitive behavioral approach to this, read this article about “how to get rid of negative core beliefs”.

Bring On the Crisis

bringitonWe all complain about having problems. But what would it be like to wake up in the morning and have absolutely no problems to solve, nothing to worry about, no vexations whatsoever? Having no problems can be a very serious problem and lead to the creation and yearning for any old dumb problem that will shake us from our slumber and generate some excitement.

It seems to me that creating problems in a real human need. It seems we define ourselves by the dilemmas we attract and struggle to solve. Usually it ‘s those who are most creative that ask the biggest and hardest questions and then put together resources to answer them.

It is often said that there is no gain without pain, and nothing of value is gained without effort. While this is mostly true and anxiety can be a valuable spur for getting things done it is also true that putting ourselves under a lot pressure to solve mediocre problems is not going to be useful or make us smarter. If we get too used to allow unimportant problems to fill us with nagging vexations we won t gain much except for a headache.

The other fact to consider is that when we are preoccupied with silly boring or demeaning annoyances we might miss out on asking the bigger questions and getting well into wilder, more interesting problems. These may be of the variety that pushes you out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before life forces you to do so when you are least willing to deal with it.

When we focus on the problems that matter we feel excited about our ability to deal with them because ultimately they will open the door to a better existence rather than dragging us down into the same meandering tunnels of meaninglessness.

So invite the real crisis in : it will be a time of destiny, a turning point, an opportunity to rethink what really matters to you so you take action to bring about the changes necessary to create a better present for yourself.

In other words: stop distracting yourself with minor irritations and ask yourself the question you have been avoiding.  Instead bring it on, delve in deep and get it over with : there is no time better than now !

Anxiety and Mindfulness

become observerBecome an Observer

Mindfulness is the art of being aware of your environment, your thoughts, your feelings and your sensations as they happen and  becoming their observer.

It is about training your attention to focus on the present moment, on concentrating on a task rather than thinking,  and on external rather than internal factors.

So what does all of this got to do with relieving anxiety?

Well, first of all let’s understand the role of thoughts in anxiety. I find it helpful to think of anxiety not as something we have but something we do, or even better, something we think and imagine and therefore feel. The assumption behind this is that feelings follow thought. So change the way you think and you will change the way you feel. Change the way you feel and your behavior will change. Change your behavior and your life will change.

When we have fearful (anxious ) thoughts, the problem is not necessarily to do with the thoughts themselves but with the importance and meaning we give them. Often we identify our thoughts as facts rather simply thoughts, and that is the problem. When you think ‘something terrible will happen if I get out of the house’ for example, it is the fact that you are viewing this as a fact rather than simply a thought that causes trouble.

In fact if you distanced yourself from it and treated it as simply another thought among others and refused to assign it more importance than that, you would lessen its impact.

Also, I find it useful to remember that for every negative thought there is always an opposite positive thought. Both are just thoughts, not facts. And their importance depends on how much attention you decide to give them.

You decide what to pay attention to and what to accept or reject. This you can do by challenging negative thoughts as not helpful and asking yourself what would be more helpful for you to think in order to feel better about whatever situation is causing you concern.

indexYou Are Not Your Thoughts

First though , you need to believe that you are not your thoughts. You need to believe that you are more than your thoughts, that you are an awareness aware of itself and that although you have a mind  you are not your mind. Another way of understanding this is to imagine that your thoughts are like unruly teenagers in a house where although you have always been the master you have never exercised your authority.

Of course, the first step to do so is to believe that you are the master and that you can exercise your authority successfully because if you don’t the teenagers will act as if they are the masters and they will have power over you. Once you shift your belief it may take some time and practice to learn how to take charge effectively but if you believe you are the one who makes the decisions and train your attention with patience you will succeed.

Train Your Attention

The first step in training your unruly mind is to practice redirecting your attention away from yourself and what you feel / think / are imagining , and concentrate by choice on something external : something that is happening outside of yourself or a task you are doing.

Starting with situations that you don’t find particularly scary or challenging this active practice will help you counter balance your tendency to over focus on threats and on yourself when you feel anxious.

For example:  rather than worrying about yourself and how you are coming across during a conversation with a new acquaintance focus on the other person and ask them questions about themselves, paying attention to their answers and becoming curious about them.  

Later practice in situations that are more challenging and progress gradually from the least to the most anxiety provoking situations, getting out of your comfort zone and facing your fears head on. If you cannot attend to a specific task, for example if you are sitting in a crowded waiting room, direct your attention to your surroundings, noticing people, the features of the room, sounds an smells.

presentFocus On the Present

Finally, bring your attention back to the present. Anxious thoughts are thoughts about an imagined catastrophic future that exists only in your head. It is a big castle in the sky.

It cannot exist in the now. So get back to now, and remember not to take your fearful thoughts seriously.

They might be trying to help, but they aren’t really helping are they?

So, say no to the negative fears that have only held you back til now and say yes to the voice in your head that says : no matter what I will survive !

Your anxious thoughts are as real as an imaginary friend. It is up to you to make up what that friend says. Make it say encouraging things. Make it work for you.

Relax

And most of all, observe how much easier life is when you relax into existence and trust in your abilities to deal with whatever challenge life throws at you, no matter how hard it may seem at first.

The most truly accomplished and successful people in life have a relaxed attitude. Some might have been predisposed to be like that but most of them have honed their talents by practice and dedication. Practice relaxing into existence and learning to expect the best out of situations. And when life throws you something you cannot change accept it and make the best of it.

relWorrying is a mostly a learned habit and we can do away with it by becoming aware that we are simply scaring ourselves to death by believing in our fearful thoughts; Instead we can take a deep breath, focus on the present and remind ourselves that we have all the resources we need to survive.

After all, if you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got. So do something different !

You Are What You Believe

What do you believe in ?

Your beliefs shape your life.

Are your beliefs serving your best interest ?

This is what I happen to believe. Read through if you like, and compose your own list.

I believe in giving people a fair chance.

I believe in taking responsibility for my own well being.I believe in being honest and true to myself.

I believe that the most difficult, painful and challenging experiences life throws at us can end up being
the most enlightening rewarding and meaningful.

I believe that being different although not easy is something to celebrate as a blessing.I believe in the power of laughter to help us lift us from tragedy.

I believe that an enormous amount of wealth lies in reading and learning. I believe sometimes the best thing you can do is switch off and have a good night sleep. In the morning new solutions and insight may come.

I believe in learning to let go of the need to always having to “do something”.

I believe that most problems come from tension and not giving ourselves permission to relax.

I believe that believing in myself is the best investment I could ever make.

I believe that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. No success is ever possible without making mistakes. What’s important is to listen to the feedback.

I believe genius is not something we re born with but something we make with practice, dedication and determination.

I believe that not letting people get to me is sometimes hard but essential.

I believe in learning to let go of whatever is bothering me by first expressing my feelings and then examining my thoughts and gaining perspective.

I believe in not paying too much attention to those who do not have other people’s best interest at heart. To do so would impair my faith in humanity.

I believe in choosing to listen to the part of myself that encourages me rather than to the part of me that wants to put me down.

I believe in expecting the best and accepting the rest.

I believe there is nothing wrong with people who do not like me. The fact they don’t tells me more about them than it does about me. They might have something to teach me, or they might have something to learn. You cannot please everyone all of the time…

I believe in allowing myself to like what I like without shame. I believe in not denying myself the things I feel attracted to, no matter what others may think of me as a result.

I believe in making time for fresh air, social interaction and being creative.

I believe in self reflection as a path to self healing.

I believe that focusing on things we are grateful for is the key to happiness.

How To Be More Confident

confidentSimple Ways to Improve Confidence

When you say to yourself : “it’s easy for others to be confident but I am just not that kind of person…”  what a powerful statement are you making, telling yourself and the world who you are…. !

When you speak (saying to yourself that you are not good enough / not confident / shy or any other negative statement)  effectively you are deleting all opportunities to be anything other than those statements . So say STOP to those statements . Tell yourself this is simply how you used to be and think, not what you are choosing to be and think now.

What people often forget is that genius is made not born, and skill is the result of discipline and practice. Talents are learned and honed with determination and discipline, so make a decision to start honing yours now. Start to begin taking control of your thoughts instead of allowing your previous programming to control you.

Learn to Become Confident

Begin to imagine people who you believe are confident. Hold your body like them. Think like you imagine they would think. Talk to yourself like you imagine they would.  Most of all, pay attention to the voice in your head and get it talking in a tone and manner that you find motivating and reassuring instead of insisting using the same internal dialogue that you used to convince yourself that you are not confident.

Imagine yourself as you would like to be and step into that confident version of you. Do things differently, consciously. If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got. So stop those old thoughts in your head. Say the word STOP to those old thoughts. Then take a deep breath, relax, feel good, play confident sounds in your mind, see confident pictures in your head.

Remember a time when you felt confident and then imagine yourself to be now like you were then. Make those images brighter, larger  and bring them nearer and wrap them around you.

Now that you believe in your ability to be more confident , how you think is how you allow yourself to be. What you believe to be truth is the truth for you. You are the most powerful influence in your life.

As you start consciously changing your thoughts grab the thoughts by scruff of the neck and think: I am going to choose how I feel and what I think from now onwards and notice how good it feels to feel so good.

Start Feeling More Confident Now

Now, do this practical exercise to start getting rid of your old conditioning:

Imagine you are standing in front of a mirror. As you look at yourself in it you can see yourself  and all your past experiences reflected back. Now imagine this mirror is magical : it has a liquid surface and when you step through it, it immediately removes the past and on the other side all you know is present and future.

Here the past view is gone and you you look forward to the future.  Infinite possibilities are contained in it. Anything is possible. Notice what you can use to start making that future come true now.  And notice what new ideas come into the present about the future.
Trust your unconscious, allow it to help give you sensations, feelings, images, ideas that inspire you and motivate you to create that future now. Feel the ideas become a fuel that propels you towards that future so you just naturally want to move closer to that compelling future.

7 Ways of Getting What you Want

February 3, 2013

goals1: Think of what you want, not what you don’t want

We all know what we don’t want: we don’t want to get fat, smoke, be unfit, be lonely, ill, stressed poor or unattractive. But when we focus our attention onto what we don’t want we create a mental image of what we are trying to get away from and actually end up attracting exactly that which we are trying to avoid.

This is because our subconscious does not understand “negative” language. The classic example is someone asking you not to think of pink elephants. What are you thinking about? Our society is based on negative language. We tell our kids not to touch this or that, we tell them not to do this or that and what do they do? exactly that very thing.  This is because our subconscious is a goal striving mechanism: tell it what to do and it will get you there somehow, so instead of telling it what you don’t want, tell it what you do!

Because we are not used to doing this, you can start with what you don’t want, then ask yourself : what do I want instead of this ?

2: Set your own goals

If your parents always wanted you to be a doctor and you are going through with your studies because you want to make them proud or you don’t want to disappoint them you are not going to be truly engaged with your goal and sooner or later you are going to become unmotivated.

In other words: if you are trying to live up to another person’s expectation or idea of you, you are going to subconsciously resist  this in some way and you will eventually sabotage yourself because you don’t really want what you think you want.

It is important therefore that you examine in detail what is truly important to you, quite apart from what others may want for you or think you should be. If you do not do this your goals will be influenced by their opinions, be that your peers’ your family’s your spouse’s the media or such things.

You need to care enough about your goal in order to have enough energy to push through the inevitable challenges along the way. Let’s face it: nothing is easy and every goal requires determination in the face of difficulties. So why waste energy ‘trying to’ be or get something you don’t truly want just when you would have much more energy putting all your efforts towards achieving something that truly gets you excited?

3: Engage your Imagination

If you want to build a house you first need to imagine what it looks like. Then you need to make a drawing of it and only later will the details come in. If you can’t  picture the house you cannot build it. The same is true for other goals.

If you are one of those who believe you have no imagination think again: everyone can daydream; you did it throughout your childhood whenever a boring teacher went on about something you didn’t care about .  Talking about what you want with a friend or writing about it will help you ‘see’ it more clearly in your ‘mind’s eye’. When you do this, use the present tense, as if the goal has already been achieved and think of how you will feel when you do, as if you already did: this will make you connect to the emotion behind it which will be the motivating motor behind your actions.

Be specific: specify what you will see, hear and feel when your goal is achieved. The more vividly you can do this the more compelling and possible your goal will be. This is because the imagination is the language of the subconscious and images speak louder than a thousand words. When you imagine the desirable things your want as if you already have them this will give you positive feelings about your goal and it will provide you with an emotional pull to achieve it. If you are vague your actions will be vague and you won’t get anywhere.

Don’t say something like “I want to be happy” . That is not a goal, it’s a feeling and you are already in charge of how you feel if you accept responsibility for how you respond to what happens to you. Instead think about a specific and measurable goal in terms of what will be in place when you achieve it because this will give you an indication of when you have achieved it and it will help you notice any aspects of the goal that need to be adjusted.

After you have done the above and you are feeling really good about it, step out of it and think about the first step you need to take to begin the process of making your goal come true.

 4: Put a date on the goal

If you don’t put a specific date on your goal you will be more likely to put if off and deal with something “more urgent”. Don’t be vague and say “next year” or you will be telling your subconscious that your goal will always be a year in the future. Instead use an actual date so that as time goes on you will be able to see yourself getting closer to it and it will motivate you to put in the effort to make it come true.

5: Think about the consequences of getting what you want

They say : be careful what you ask for in case you get it! So think about what comes with what you want. If you want to set up your own business are you aware of all the time you will need to put in, in order to make it successful ? You need to be aware of all the consequences of achieving your goal such as the effects on your health, your relationships and the wider community so you can make the changes necessary to avoid unwanted side effects.

Your unconscious is better aware  than your conscious mind about possible pitfalls that may stand in your way and since its language is emotion rather than reason ask yourself  how you feel when you think about your goal : do you feel energized and excited or discouraged and tired ?

If you don’t feel a hundred per cent about it there is probably something you have consciously overlooked or ignored so pay closer attention and be honest about what you find.

 6: Take One Step at a time

If you feel overwhelmed by how big your goal is you need to ‘break it down’ to achievable chunks otherwise you’ll get discouraged and are more likely to give up. If this has already happened you probably have lost a bit of motivation. If this is the case first shift your attention fro what you need to do to get there to how great it will be when you have achieved it. Then break down the goal into smaller steps. Each step is a mini-goal in itself and you can feel good when you complete it. Celebrate every small victory and give yourself a small reward every time you achieve a mini-goal.

If you are unsure of what the next steps need to be first imagine the goal as if you already had achieved it. Then ask yourself: what conditions need to be in place in order for this be able to happen ? Work your way back through time until you get back to the first step you need to take. Put the work in: the more you put in the more you get out of this process . Get started now.

7: Find out what you want

Most people don’t know what they really want and so they avoid setting goals altogether. But think about it: If you don’t put in the time and  effort to find out what you really want you will never get anywhere. When you don’t set any goals you’ll just drift reacting to what life throws at you. Or even worse others will set goals for you and you’ll just go along with them. This is a recipe for feeling unfulfilled, vulnerable and lost.

If you don’t know what you want you can try either one of the following approaches:

1) Ask a friend to ask you : what’s important to me in a career? what’s important to me in a relationship? continue for each area of your life. Tell your friend to keep on asking you even when you think you have discovered what you value the most, because often the most motivating values you have are the most unconscious or least obvious.

2) Experiment and try out different experiences. Pay attention to  what you enjoy and what you don’t . Ask yourself what it is about each experience that you really liked. This will give you an idea of what you really value, what excites and motivates you and who you really are.

Persist and remember: there is no failure until you give up!

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