Monday, August 22, 2016

I Think I've Found the Problem

This year has been a great year for starting (and stopping, and then re-starting in some cases) some new habits. A notable one is to kickoff morning in solitude with a book about success and an exquisite, hot cup of coffee.

This month I'm reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. If you haven't, I truly recommend getting a copy and digging in.

Today as I slurped my way through my coffee (and unfortunately I do slurp) with my eyes glued to the page I read about Success Principle Number 50: Tell the Truth Faster and it reminded me of a really, funny story. 

If only … I had read that chapter some time ago.

Come to think of it, coffee was involved then too! In fact, coffee was the steamy protagonist.

The cast was small. Coffee. Keyboard. One elbow. First the elbow met the coffee and then coffee introduced herself himself itself to the keyboard. It was downhill after that.

I mopped up the mess, blotted the keyboard, disposed of the empty cup (sadly) and the paper towels and got back to work. At least that was the plan, but ...

kkkkkkkkkkk .@#^ KKKK. wsaaaaaaa……. ,,,√©

Work wasn’t going so well and my keyboard was definitely not cooperating. In fact it seemed to be a little jittery.

Did I say, "Help, I spilled coffee all over my keyboard!" to the IT person? No! I figured the evidence was gone and I was too embarrassed. I figured no one would notice. How many times have you said that and regretted it?

I really, really did think that. Looking back, I don’t even see how I did.

IT to the rescue! Sure enough he notices the odd, random misfiring of my keyboard. This has nothing to do with coffee. The smart gent picks up up and turns it over and out pours a river of coffee and without missing a beat he says “I think I’ve found the problem.”

I have to say I was really impressed with his deadpan humor.

If I had only read Success Principle 50 back then I would have saved myself some serious embarrassment.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Two Models of the World, aka Is Your Worldview Working Against You?

I hear the term worldview bandied about as often as Starbucks serves cold, refreshing iced caffè lattes at the drive thru in Las Vegas. That's pretty often.

I'm more interested in how useful the worldview is ... or is not. Is your worldview as handy as discovering your spare is flat like a gluten-free coconut flour brick pancake? Or is it more like discovering you have this inner MacGuyver who's ready to go build a shopping mall with a stick of gum and a toothpick? (If you don't know who MacGuyver is that's fine, just picture Jason Bourne, he could probably build a strip mall with a stick of gum and a toothpick too).

In FasterEFT training we learn about two world views: the lower model and the upper model.

We are born into this world wholly and completely defenseless. From day zero through seven years old we are learning machines, downloading all our experiences to the great storage device that is our unconscious mind. Experiences impact us. We depend on others for survival, food, shelter. We look to our caretakers for everything. The end result is a belief system, a worldview. A worldview that the power is outside of us: they are doing it to me, power is outside of me.

After our sponge like, immature child-like brains form that worldview it seems to become stuck in cement. A least action pathway.

It would be wonderful if there was a ceremonious graduation and you entered the upper model worldview amidst pomp and circumstance, getting your own shiny key to a whole new worldview as you threw your cap into the air. The sad truth is that most people never leave the lower model of the world.

Blame. Helplessness. Hopelessness. Powerlessness. Frustration. Anger. Resentment. 

Emotions of the lower model of the world.

Fortunately there is another option, an "I am the boss of me" worldview. The upper model.

The upper model embraces the knowledge that we have how-to-programs inside of us that are based on our stored pictures, sounds, feelings, and emotions. Accepting this we can choose our response. The power to do so is inside of us. No one can make us feel something without our participation. It really is an inside job. We have to think the thoughts (no one is listening to me) and feel the feelings (rejection, alone, sad ...).

Two people can share an experience and have reactions that are as different as a mint green Vespa is from a shiny red Toyota. For instance, say Fran and Jane are at work. In comes Stan, the boss, who is in a mood. You know those kinds of moods. We've all been there. Stan says some things and leaves.

Fran remarks, "Wow Stan having a bad day or what"? and somersaults back into spreadsheets and numbers. Unfazed.

Jane on the other hand turns red (that nuclear meltdown special kind of red), gets angry, says "How dare Stan say that?" and goes off to eat some donuts to calm down. Then she replays it in her head a few bazillion times and blames Stan for making her feel bad. Stan isn't in the room anymore which means Stan isn't making Jane feel anything. Jane's internal representations of Stan are creating her feelings.

Two responses. Two different worldviews. Upper model. Lower model.

Knowing about these two options isn't a guarantee you'll always choose the upper model (you knew it wouldn't be that easy right?).

Personally I strive to operate from the upper model of the world, now that I know it exists. But there are times, oh there are times ... I catch myself, literally, both feet slogging through mud, smack-dab in the middle of the lower model. I witness the thought "He/she/it made me feel ..." and at that point I have to step back and take the reigns before that riderless horse gallops any further off the reservation.

That's the time to use my FasterEFT skills to change what I'm saying/seeing/doing inside of me. It's simple, not easy, and oh so worth it.

Free. Choice. Happy. Calm. Peaceful. Gratitude. 

Emotions of the upper model of the world.

When you let yourself choose, you step into the upper model of the world. The food is way better there.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Emotional First Aid: What's Yours?

“The more distractions we have from which to choose, the more effectively we will be able to derail the ruminative train of thoughts that plague us.” 
― Guy WinchEmotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other EverydayPsychological Injuries

I have a slight Ted Talk addiction. Ted Talks never cease to fascinate me! They send me off wanting to learn more about a new topic or go deeper into something I thought I knew about. I watched this phenomenal and funny talk by Guy Winch this weekend. Here it is:

What do you do to help you when you aren't feeling your best? Do you have a technique that transforms how you feel about situations, memories you replay that bother you, and the meanings you give to them? Or do you have a series of ways you avoid your feelings and distract yourself? Or do you just get stuck, replaying what you don't want, feeling worse and worse with no idea how to fix it?

I have embraced all of the above at one time or another. Avoiding is a temporary false haven, because, as I learned long ago, wherever you go, there you are. My attitude goes with me. When I choose to avoid how I feel, it gets worse. When I entertain the bad thoughts, I get even better at having them, finding more and more proof to feel bad. That doesn't work too well either.

Now, I tap until my attitude, meanings and memories shift to an empowered and positive frame. I practice affirmations in a way that works. Attached is a video I made today to show you how I do just that.

Tapping helps you create changes in your emotional state by interrupting the feedback loop between your mind and your body. What you think you feel. The feelings make the thoughts and memories seem as if they are happening in the present moment. As you interrupt those negative states until they no longer have an impact you free yourself from repeating the pattern. The past is over, you are not stuck, and you no longer have to feel that way anymore. You are free to see events from a different and more empowered perspective.

Do you have a technique that helps you transform your emotional lows into highs? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Words Are Just Words

“Words, he decided, were inadequate at best, impossible at worst. They meant too many things. Or they meant nothing at all.” 
― Patricia A. McKillip, In the Forests of Serre

We supply the meaning.

Why is this important?

I look back at times I entered into relationships, believing we both wanted the same thing, and discovered that was not quite so. We both said we wanted a relationship yet what that meant was different to each of us. Our meaning of the exact same word was completely different.

How can that be? Isn't it the same exact word? Doesn't it have one definition in the dictionary?

This past May I attended an NLP Practitioner Certification Training. If you are not familiar with NLP (short for Neuro-Linguistic Programming) it is a fancy to call a process of modeling success. In NLP we model the successful behavior in one person and recreate it in order to create success in another. You find the "how-to" of successful people and apply their formula to create your own success.

NLP is also known as the study of excellence in communication. Language is key here. The language we use to speak to ourselves and to others.

I participated in an interesting exercise to demonstrate that words are just words and we supply the meaning behind them. Until I did this exercise I had a fairly tenuous grasp on that really meant.

The exercise is simple. Select a word, say relationship and write down five words that express what relationship means to you.


Next we compared answers. No one had the same five words. Frequently people would share one single word in their unique meaning combination, less frequent was two shared words, fewer yet were three shared words. I do not recall a single instance where anyone had four or five words that matched.

That's because words are just words and we supply the meaning.

Think about it next time you argue with someone about what they meant. You just might be applying your own meaning and that does not necessarily have anything to do with theirs.

Understanding this now I find myself asking people "what does that mean to you?" more often. I have learned to dig a bit deeper. To not make assumptions.

So the next time someone uses a word you don't agree with, remember you are supplying the meaning.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Journaling and Gratitude

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” 
— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful practice to bring attention to what our blessings are in the present moment. Taking the time to sit down, focus on what you do have, and intentionally feel those feelings of gratitude is the beginning of a habit that becomes self-fulfilling.

I have kept a gratitude journal in many different forms for the past 8 years. In the beginning it was a sporadic practice in a notebook, on for a week, off for a month or more, then back to it again. Today it is effortless, a practice as ingrained in my day as is oil pulling, flossing and brushing my teeth. Instead of a notebook I use a digital app, the result of this change being consistency. I have tried quite a few apps and continued searching for one that is just right for me.

It seems I have found it. It is free, which is even better. This app is called Stigma.

This app is not gratitude specific, it is more of a journal. You can use it to journal about any number of things. Successes. Changes. Growth. Counting your blessings.

What I like in particular about Stigma:

  • Tagging journal entries with emotions #grateful #happy #calm
  • Anonymously sharing entries and seeing shared entries
  • Searching entries by specific emotions #excited
  • Liking entries
  • Choosing to journal anonymously or privately
  • Adding photos to remember a particularly good moment
  • Weekly recapping of your entries via email
  • Word cloud showing your most frequently tagged emotions

When I made that firm commitment to keep a gratitude journal for thirty days straight I noticed it become easier and easier to be grateful. Even on the worst day I can be grateful for breathing, for seeing, for hearing, for getting out of bed.

Some of the surprising changes I noticed in myself as practicing gratitude became a way of life is an effortless appreciation for the little things in life. I notice when parking spots magically open up, the green lights I catch.

One day I heard myself say out loud, "Thank you Universe for the green light, I'll take some more ..." In that moment I realized how far I had come and how much had really changed. Thi is how practicing gratitude became self-fulfilling for me. Back there in my mind my reticular activating system is on the lookout for anything there is to be grateful for. It skillfully points it all out to me.

The more you do it, the more there is to be grateful for. The more you see the things that are already all around you to be grateful for. Try it for thirty days. You never know, you just might be grateful you did.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Thoughts Become Things

I know that thoughts become things. I know it and I believe it.

That does not necessarily mean I am adept at using the skill consistently in my favor ... yet.

I am practicing becoming more present to the workings of my mind. To come from awareness of mind to create more of what I want in my life.

Early August I attended an amazing "From Stressed to Success" Workshop with two skilled and talented colleagues that I respect and appreciate. I left with a greater and deeper understanding of how I can gain greater control of my mind, and how I can help others do the same.

It is known that ...

Our thoughts affect our feelings.
Our feelings affect our behaviors.
Our behaviors affect our actions.
Our actions affect our results.

I pay close attention to my own thoughts, behaviors, actions, and results.

The day after the workshop I went to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. I love to go to the zoo. This was my first visit to this particular zoo.

When I meditate in the morning I sit and I breath in. When I exhale I simply think or visualize the word love, or a symbol for love, or a mantra "I am love." This is how I start my day. Then I have coffee which is probably one of my favorite morning activities. I digress ...

While walking around at the zoo I did a lot of walking meditation, standing meditation, doing that exact same thing. At each exhibit I would look at the incredible creatures in there and breath, sending love. I felt very present and very happy. It changed the experience to something different and deeper, and it felt like I was making genuine contact with the world around me.

When I came to the tiger exhibit I wanted to try something different.

I saw one tiger, sitting in a channel of running water, like a man made creek. This little man made creek turned into a little 4 or 5 foot waterfall that ended in a big pool of water. There were two places to look at the tiger, one large window was in front of where the tiger was resting in the water. It was crowded with people. Then there was a long stretch in front of the pool of water and not a single person was there.

I stood in the middle of that empty section, looked at the tiger and sent it love. I visualized it coming over and getting in the water in front of me. It was an experiment in visualization. Standing alone, and sending that feeling of love and visualizing it getting in the water in front of me. Why not? I was going to stand there and watch anyway, it would be an interesting experiement a la Pam Grout.

That tiger looked at me and got up and moved about 4 feet and plopped back down in the water. I thought harder (is that really possible?) and breathed love. And then it happened. Wouldn't you know that tiger got up and walked to the end of the creek and jumped in the pool right in front of me and started playing with a big piece of a tree trunk in the water.

I was definitely in a state of awe and disbelief at this point. And feeling the most profound gratitude imaginable. People began crowding around me. Then to my surprise another tiger jumped in, and another. Before I knew it there were three tigers playing in the pool right in front of me.

I could shrug it off and say it was just a coincidence, that I really don't have the power to think things into action. I'm not going to do that though. I saw it, it happened (times three!) and it was magical.

Now with this new found awareness it seems even more important to notice and release thoughts that don't serve me. To intentionally choose those thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes that will create more of what I want in the world. It's a full time job and one that I am ready for.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Talking Less and Changing More

I've spent most of my life looking for something. A tool, a technique, a book, a class, something to teach me how to be happy and to help other people do the same.

When I was in college I saw a three different therapists. They were sympahetic, very kind, and great listeners. I told them all my woes and my stories. Nothing changed. Week after week it was more of the same. Lots of talking and if there was progress it wasn't measurable to me.

Little did I know then what I know now: I was rehearsing and refining my ability to have the same problem. I was making myself better at it, not changing it. Oops!

At some point I realized talking wasn't helping me. Neither were the antidepresssants. I felt worse. I had massive anxiety and couldn't sleep. With the antidepressents I still couldn't sleep. I still had massive anxiety. Now I struggled to stay awake during the day at work and felt so foggy it was difficult to think.

After six months of playing with dosages that kept increasing, I threw them all away. It was time to try something else and with my limited amount of experience all I could turn to was exercise. It helped. In fact it has even been demonstrated that exercise is as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. It worked for me and I was sleeping at night again, thanks to the work outs.

Exercise is and was a very tangible tool with immediate results for me. My anxiety and depression largely improved with it. I have to admit though when in the throes of a panic attack putting on my gym shoes and hitting the elliptical wasn't my first thought.

What I really needed to learn was how to transform my thoughts and beliefs into what served me, rather than those that created anxiety and depression in the first place.

I needed to learn that inside me, I have pictures, voices, sensations, emotions, smells, and tastes. That as I experience these internally my body reacts physically. This is what makes me literally feel that my thoughts are real. They aren't, they are just thoughts.

Like most people in the world, I read The Secret and convinced myself all I had to do was think happy thoughts and my life would change. I didn't really understand the message on a deeper level. It isn't just about repeating a mantra or affirmation a few times a day and voila the world is new! Meanwhile you go about your life, cursing at the person who cuts you off on the road, meeting your friends to compare stories of what went wrong all week. Who pissed you off at work, what your signficant other did that bothered you, or how your family just doesn't understand you at all. Insert your own vents there. Do you see the contradiction?

The real point of The Secret is that what you hold inside, those things that make up your thoughts create your world. Unless you tap into this, mantras and affirmations don't have soil to grow in.

I took up Yoga and Meditation to feel more peaceful, accepting of life. Years later I understood what it means to practice them "off of the mat" as well. Sitting, breathing and repeating a mantra in class, going outside and then returning back to patterns of complaining, noticing what's wrong and not right makes the peace temporary.

I began a gratitude journal. Many times. Unfortunately it took me many years to stick with it.

Then I found a course by Larry Levine, The Release Technique. I went through that in record time. I didn't seem to release to much though. I kept on searching.

That same year I found something that really worked. My anxiety had returned with a vengeance, in spite of diligent exercise. I made a series of choices that were probably better left unchosen. I was looking for a way to cope with the repercussions of my choices.

That something is called EFT, or Energy Freedom Technique. It did help me shift emotions, but it was a slow process. It felt slow at times and that could be frustrating. Because it worked I stuck with it. I shared it with friends and coworkers too.

Then Rhonda Byrne's second book, The Power came out. One thing that really resonated with me and still does to this day, is to look for things that you appreciate anywhere and everywhere you go. This has become effortless. At first it was a challenge. When I walked my dog I would practice, the whole walk. What can I appreciate here?

Then one day, a friend I shared EFT with learned of FasterEFT, Faster Emotionally Focused Transformations. It took me about 6 months to try it, feeling loyal to the technique I was using. Then I tried it and I agreed, it was faster for me too.

In fact I loved the process so much I decided to become a practitioner, to share it with others. The personal transformations I have experienced have been incredible. The peace I feel and the changes I see are what I wanted so many years ago when I first saw a therapist.

With FasterEFT, I have learned how to aim at my own pictures, voices, feelings, emotions, smells and tastes stored inside to create changes. The changes create shifts in what I see outside of me. All of these things are simply stored information created long ago. They are in the background driving the tour bus of our life, showing us more of what we already believe to be true based on this information.

We don't see what is there, we see what we believe to be true about what is there. All information is filtered through our beliefs and perceptions. If you're wearing smudged, dirty glasses you see a smudged, dirty world. It really is that simple.

Simple isn't necessarily easy though. It takes effort. Daily practice. Repetition. Dedication. Awareness.

I learned to go inside and change this information using my FasterEFT skills, either by myself or with another practioner (because two heads really are better than one). Next everything I saw around me began to change. Yet it was not circumstances that changed, it was my filters. I dusted them off and all of a sudden I could see what I had been missing all these years.

I am by no means done. Life is a process and I will be working on my internal references for the rest of it.

My main take aways are:

  • Do not believe what you think, your thoughts are predictable patterns of thinking established long ago. They play along a theme. Have you ever been driving somewhere and went somewhere else out of habit? Yes, your thoughts work that way too.
  • Talking about my problems makes me better at having them. Have you ever told a story and added more details? Felt it all as if it were happening again? We create reality with our stories. The question is: are you creating the reality you want?
  • There really is only now. All our memories are in the past, we cannot go back. When we visit them in our mind we are recreating them from faulty perceptions. It is all made up now, choose a better feeling story.
  • Words are just words. Each one of us defines the same word differently. If I were to choose five words that describe love for me, and everyone did the same exercise, we would not have the same words. Our references are all unique. This keeps my mind open.
  • Ask better questions. What's wrong with me? will give you lots of proof that something is wrong. Your mind is an eager servent, it wants to please. Give it a better task and ask "How did I get so lucky?" or another question that resonates with what you truly want to see more of.

FasterEFT has given me the skills to create change. My memories are my references that determine what I see and believe about myself and the world around me. As I change my own self-identity by removing negative emotions from these memories I create a positive alternative, meaning or experience. How I see the world evolves along with it. The process is so fascinating. The best part is helping others as they do the same. Seeing those changes is a gift that keeps on giving.