Behind it All
by John G. Johnson
Like it or not humans are always learning. And we learn quickly. It’s not just our minds that learn, but our bodies as well.Sometimes a single experience is all it takes. Rapid learning can occur when an experience is unique, novel and accompanied by a heightened emotion. What’s interesting is that the more this learning event occurs, the more it becomes a stronger aspect of our being, hard-wired, so to speak, thus leading us to create “conclusions,” “rules” “a point of view” “beliefs,” etc. about this unique event. Take for example, going to a restaurant and eating a meal that upsets your stomach. The next time around, you’ll most likely be cautious of either the restaurant in question or the same meal. However, if you decide to give the same place and meal another try, and if the same thing occurs - again - then you’ll definitely build even stronger conclusions either about that establishment or the meal. In fact, it’s how phobias are created - the body has learned to respond in a particular way that’s usually undesirable.
There’s another way we learn and acquire knowledge, and that’s through detecting patterns. Our minds are continuously scanning for and cataloging patterns in our environment. The interesting thing is that this pattern-detection activity takes place at a level that’s - below our awareness! Inferences are then derived from these patterns, manifesting in the form of, attitudes, beliefs or ideas, etc.
There are times, however, when these patterns are made available to our conscious minds. This gives now us the opportunity to discover the source of our present attitudes and conclusions about a provocative subject in question. This revelation also now puts us in an immediate position to decide whether a specific attitude, belief, etc is useful to hold onto - or not.
But oftentimes these patterns aren't made available to us consciously. And all that we are aware of are just the “conclusions,” and their various forms, be that attitudes, beliefs, gut-feelings, rules, ideas etc., that seem to just “exist” without a source. A simple exercise to prove this is to list as many of the attitudes, beliefs, conclusions and ideas you are aware of, and then ask yourself how did you come to acquire them. This unconscious pattern-detection mechanism has kept our species alive for millions of years. So, too, has our ability to infer and to generalize from these patterns as well. We use what we have concluded, (attitudes, beliefs, gut-feelings, rules, ideas etc.) as rudders in our lives which influence our: behaviors, thoughts and how we see the world. But this mechanism does have its flaws:
IF YOU are having trouble accomplishing a sought-after goal or activity, regardless of whatever field you are in (personal or professional), or are dissatisfied with your level of performance in a specific arena, then it’s useful to examine your attitudes, beliefs, even the excuses you create as to why a certain outcome is the way it is surrounding the context in question. And then - challenge them!:
We don’t have to prisoners of our thoughts and experiences.Success in any endeavor requires that useful beliefs, ways of seeing and even attitudes be adopted, because, as stated before, they act as rudders influencing our behaviors and the choices we make that push and pull us in the direction we choose.
©2013 John G. Johnson All rights reserved! Subscribe to our mailing list for workshops, newsletters and events. Go to: www.nlpsuccessbydesign.com
WHY do you do what you do? How do leaders inspire themselves, people and the world into action? You can do it, too. Watch Simon Sinek’s TEDx presentation.
How to Let Go of Fear
by Tina Taylor
Fear is part of our survival instinct; it sets our body and mind in motion in preparation for a perceived threat. It’s hard wired into the subconscious and is one of our oldest emotions; sometimes generated without any conscious awareness. We feel uneasy, yet don't know why. It makes us jump when something moves on the ground or touches us, makes us blink when something is coming towards our eyes. We respond due to sensory input driving us into action.
Fear makes you focus. There’s a moment of awareness, with our unconscious telling us something isn't right, and as we sense "something" we freeze. This freezing may stop predators from seeing us it also gives us a chance to evaluate the situation and if it is OK we continue - returning to what we were doing.
Fear is all about chemicals, epinephrine and norepinephrine; epinephrine (adrenaline) is secreted by the adrenal glands. These chemicals are released in moments of fear to prepare us for the fight or flight response; and changes occur to improve chances of survival. As well as increased strength an increase in oxygen increases sensory acuity whilst non-survival process like digestion are put on hold.
Fears and phobias are extreme anxieties. As we go through life we learn a great many things by experience, things we are not even aware of. An unconscious learning, fear is one of these experiences and is a demonstration of how quickly we learn an automatic response.
From one experience the mind can generalize and attach fear. Then the flight or fight response kicks in. Your imagination is far more powerful than conscious will and the area of the brain that you use to imagine something is the same area that is used when experiencing things. Which is why your nervous system can’t tell the difference between a real or vividly imagined experience.
For an event to be coded as traumatic its said that four conditions need to be met. First it needs to be a emotional event; second, have a meaning for the individual; third, the chemicals need to be in place and fourth the experience is perceived as inescapable. If these are present it is possible that the brain will categorize the event as traumatic.
And yet there could be 2 people at the same event and one will be traumatized whilst the other will not. How can this happen?
Life is full of traumatic moments, in order for an event to be traumatizing it must produce an emotional response. Meaning is attached to the event, and whereby one person may code something as traumatic another may not. A good example of this is those who are afraid of riding on roller coasters, they produce the four conditions in their mind and they know its scary and dangerous; whereas someone who loves roller coasters will have all the same conditions in place yet they love the thrill of the ride.
Our feelings are created by the way in which we think of something; for example someone scared of spiders may be creating an image in their mind of a larger than life spider which is scaring them. Our fears may have begun due to specific event in our lives but these tend to evolve to a point whereby it’s the thought of the event/situation that causes the feeling rather than the situation/event itself.
There are a number of ways in which you can change the way you feel. One of these is: as you notice a feeling of anxiety/panic begin.
1. Breathe in gently and slowly through your mouth when your lungs are full hold your breath for 10 seconds then.
2. Breath out slowly through your nose.
3. Breath in slowly through your mouth and hold your breath for 5 seconds.
4. Breath out slowly through your nose.
5. Continue breathing this way for a couple of minutes at which point the anxiety will have subsided.
Tina Taylor is one of the UK's sought after Licensed Master Trainers of NLP & Hypnotherapists, having been trained by and then assisting Paul McKenna & Dr. Richard Bandler. With experience in the Human Resources sector, Tina has worked both on a consultancy basis and full-time for major corporations in the City of London. Within her private practice, this diverse background has allowed her to create and provide some very unique services such as assisting couples with fertility issues and to help create a comfortable childbirth experience as well as coaching and hypnotherapy within the south of England to many individuals and companies.
Tina Taylor’s new CD, How to Let go of Fear, can teach you ways in which you can change your response’s and take back control of your thought processes.
Three strategies to gain the most from the time you have
by John G. Johnson
Most of us lead a multitude of lives in today’s world. Adding to this, we perform a wide array of activities throughout the course of a single day… and then multiply that by seven. The result? Little to no time is left for us to appreciate the finer things in life. It’s no secret that we live in a world of consequences, so over-stressing ourselves, suppressing opportunities for personal rejuvenation will have a negative impact on our mind and body. “To every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction” is a fundamental law of physics. This law applies to human beings as well, meaning the way we live our lives.
The benefits of taking time out for yourself cannot be overstated. However, oftentimes, this classic refrain, better known as an “excuse,” frequently can be heard… “If only there were more hours in the day, then I could get everything done.” And then there’s the popular belief that most people subscribe to because they are convinced that certain tasks need to get done…or else: “it’s impossible! I don’t have time. I have too many things to do!”
These imaginary reasons, excuses, fantasies, etc. imply that we have little to no control over our lives, and that outside forces - not us – are responsible for the life we choose to live. This couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s clearly not a useful attitude to support!.... Beliefs of any sort, or any particular point-of-view one adopts, aren’t cast with and set in concrete. Meaning, they can change.
Twenty-four hours make a day; seven days make a week. It’s the reality we have to work within. Since this is the case, then it’s more useful to perceive time differently and ask ourselves “How we can work with what we have in an efficient manner so as to move towards a higher quality of life?”
The following are three such strategies.
Order of Importance
Last month we spoke about values and asking the question, “What’s important to me in X?” We can ask this same question when it comes to ordering your list of things-to-do for a day or week. When you make your list, (day or week), prioritize your activities from – most important things to get done to least important things to get done. (Think of an inverted pyramid). Organizing your tasks this way has several advantages:
One, you will be able to see that what you thought was important to get done isn’t so after all. You now will have the choice of discarding those less-important activities to free up some time. It’s sort of like deleting non-essential files on your computer’s hard-drive to create additional space.
Two, in many instances, taking care of the most important things has the added advantage of simultaneously completing minor tasks as well. Think of it as collateral benefits – two (or several) for the price of one, so to speak.
Learning to Say “No!”
Think about it. How many times do we say “YES” to activities – without – taking into consideration the full consequences they will have on us and on the quality of time we want for ourselves? The reasons why we say “yes” to tasks are too numerous to mention. But learning to say “NO” to deadweight activities is a useful habit to embrace.
Take a moment to breathe –focused rhythmic breathing, for at least three minutes. This activates what Dr. Herbert Benson calls The Relaxation Response, a heightened physiological state deep rest that allows the body and mind to take a break and restore itself. Many breathing techniques for accessing this state of focused rest abound. One simple strategy is to: Breathe in for four counts, hold for three counts, and then exhale for eight counts. Repeat for at least three-minutes. That’s it. If you find your mind wandering, that’s fine. Just return back to your task. It’s like physical exercise; the more you practice the better your focus becomes.
From the womb to the tomb, time is already pre-determined for us, so we can say it’s limited. It’s not how much time we have, quantity-wise – it’s what we do with it - quality-wise - that makes life worth living.
©2013 John Johnson All rights reserved! Subscribe to our mailing list for workshops, newsletters and events. Go to: www.nlpsuccessbydesign.com
Almost Instant State Change
By Kevin Creedon (1960 - 2013)
Think of a problem. Those four words are used repeatedly throughout NLP trainings because most of the time NLP techniques are used in a prescriptive manner. That means that, after the fact, we can examine a problem, make new choices and mentally rehearse a more ideal performance in the future. But what about those events that we didn't prepare for? Is it possible to shift from negative feelings to more resourceful feelings in the moment, without prior planning or an external trigger?
I remember a time when I had to travel from New York to Boston for an important family event. Very early on a hot August morning, I went to pick up the rental car I had reserved a week before. The rental agent told me that, because some cars hadn’t been returned yet, I'd have to wait until one came in or make other arrangements. I finally got a car—two hours later. Now I was stuck in morning rush hour. Worse, there was a lot of repaving being done on the highway and the heat left a lot of overheated cars stalled on the road.
When I finally got to Boston (having missed the wedding and most of the reception) I was in an awful mood. One of my nephews, who was six at the time, asked me why I was so grumpy. I told him the whole story: the car rental, the traffic, the heat... And then he said, "But Uncle Kevin, you're not driving now."
Instant state change! One moment, I'm grumpy and reliving all the unpleasantness of the morning, and the next I'm enjoying myself.
At that point, I knew that positive state changes could happen suddenly, and faster than any NLP technique I had learned so far. But I didn't know how to generate them for myself. They were always a reaction to something external, usually something someone else said to me. Yet I was very curious about how we could learn to do the same thing for ourselves.
Emotions are Choices
William Glasser, M.D. in his book Choice Theory makes a strong case for the idea that emotions are choices, even when they don’t feel like it. Using my trip to Boston as an example, he would say that the reason I was grumpy with my family was not because I spent most of the day stuck in traffic, but because at the reception I was choosing to generate grumpy emotions.
Whether or not emotions are choices is true, it is a very useful assumption. Here's an experiment. Pretend that you are grumpy and mentally label your experience each of these ways:
1. I am grumpy.
2. I am feeling grumpy.
3. I am choosing to feel grumpy.
What are the differences for you? Which gives you the greatest freedom (and responsibility)?
When I taught my first Master Practitioner class, at graduation one of my students told me that he had just solved a big mystery: that much of what I taught in class was geared toward recognizing that we can choose how we feel. This was a powerful revelation for him—he had spent much of his life being angry, thinking he had no choice about it. He asked me why I didn't just tell everyone at the start that emotions can be chosen. "Who would have believed me?" I asked him.
Some people try to suppress or hide their emotions. Others venerate them, with the idea that ALL emotions have to be fully expressed, preferably with an audience, before an emotion is complete. I don't think emotions should be suppressed or avoided, but I’m surprised how often what I’m feeling seems to have been chosen blindly, without considering more than one possibility.
Here's another experiment to illustrate the ephemeral nature of emotions. Think of a small task that you can do, should get done and have been putting off. When you think about it, what emotions do you feel?
Next, ask yourself "Is there any reason I can't put off deciding how I'll feel about doing this until after it's done?"
Notice what happens. In my experience, both with myself and with my students and clients, if the answer is no, the negative feeling spontaneously disappears and we go and do the thing that we had been putting off.
Kevin Creedon's work lives on in and throughout the lives of the people he's touched in his unique way. A part of his legacy has been captured and preserved on this best-selling DVD - Bang Bang!
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