Category Archives: Conscious Leadership

Conscious Leadership for leading through emboduing excellence

What is a Life Coach?

Five things you should know about mentorship and change.

A few years ago the word ‘coach’ meant baseball or soccer coach; or possibly it meant a tutor who was helping you study for an exam.

Caitriona Reed and Michele Benzamin-Miki What is a Life COachNow people may think that you mean a Life Coach. Life Coaches are everywhere! The Life Coach reflects a changing paradigm for how we understand personal transformation, accountability, innovation leadership, and in how you take control of your life. At Five Changes we don’t actually use the word Coach because we draw on a depth of expertise that is beyond the skill-set of most Life Coaches and we don’t want to be misleading. However coaching, mentoring, and leadership development is what we do.

What is a Life Coach?

1. A Different Focus: Possibilities for the Future.

For many people coaches have replaced psychotherapists as a resource for support and change. Therapy is good at resolving conflicts of the past, while coaching tends to focus on developing new possibilities for the future. This is a simplified view of both coaching and therapy, because the past and future are inextricably interconnected, but it does reflect an important distinction.

In fact we explain to our clients that they can’t change the future until they change the past; that it’s the future that is fixed, and that you can only change it by transforming your past. That means changing the mindset, emotional patterns, and limiting beliefs of the past before you can expect to get different results in the future. Fortunately Five Changes NLP has given us the skills to help our clients make those changes rapidly and decisively, so that they can turn their focus to building a new vision for what is possible, beyond anything they may have even been conceivable before making those internal changes.

2. More than Feeling Good: Everything Depends on Your Emotional State

Emotions change. Most people’s emotions are dependent on, and triggered by, random events and circumstances. Many people’s emotional landscape is unpredictable. Most life coaches, like most psychotherapists, have a limited understanding of how to master their emotions .. for themselves, let alone as something they can teach their clients. However, the best of them do.

Everything you experience in life, how you learn, change, and the results you achieve, is dependent on your emotional state. Learning to become a master of your emotional state is essential for achieving the results that reflect your true potential. Life Coaching is a way of leading you towards that mastery. As one of our own mentors says, “When I wake up in the morning I ask myself, how much pleasure can I allow myself to experience today?”

Pleasure, far from being frivolous or self-indulgent, is essential to living on purpose. The pleasure we take in everything we do determines how we do it, as well as the results we get from it.

3. Transformation and Mentorship

The term Mastery implies that you stand on your own two feet. It does not mean that your journey is over, because the work of living and learning is never done.

At different times we need different kinds of mentorship and support. The greatest leaders, entrepreneurs, healers, problem-solvers, and creative people all have mentors— different ones at different times. The more effective they are the more they surround themselves with people who can mentor, guide, and support them. They understand that when you are too close to a situation it’s impossible to see it clearly. They know that perspective is one of the things no one can get on their own.

4. The Leader of Your Own Life.

Many people we meet, clients and potential clients, have deep-seated issues about money and value. They believe, on an unconscious level, that money is in conflict with ‘spiritual’ values; or that “the love of money is the root of all evil;” or that money is how the ‘system’ oppresses people. It’s a bit like blaming oxygen for murder, just because murderers breathe it. Oxygen is not the real issue, neither is money.

People usually have difficulties with money because they are confused about their own intrinsic value, as well as the value of what they do in the world. They live, unconsciously, from a perspective of fear and scarcity. Unless they check it, it turns into a pervasive self-fulfilling prophecy that can only be broken when they finally make a clear decision to transform the old mindset that has them seeking value (or validation) outside themselves.

Another way of describing this is from the perspective of personal congruity. Congruity means that you are in agreement with yourself; that your conscious and unconscious mind are in agreement; that you do what you love, and love what you do. Money problems, like health problems, and relationship problems, are only symptoms of deeper level incongruities.

A good life coach will simultaneously help you address the symptoms, while helping you transform those deep level problems so that you learn to master the patterns that triggers the problems in the first place.

5. Power Over or Power With

Teaching is what others do to you, learning is what you do for yourself.

The new paradigm for change is not to follow blindly, but to learn by doing. It’s not by blindly accepting the authority or examples from the past, but to adapt, collaborate, and develop the kind of leadership skills that let you become the leader of your own life; not as a lone wolf ahead of the pack but as a participant at the center of a collaborative matrix of innovation and change.

Unlike other most old-school models for change – therapy, education, spiritual teaching, business development – the new model for mentoring and coaching exemplifies a partnership model based on mutual respect, power with and through, rather than power over; collaboration rather than authority, listening rather than dictating.

There is such an abundance of self-declared Life Coaches it’s hard to imagine where they all come from. Some are skilled, others are less so. Some are natural catalysts for change, others rely on a bag of tricks. Everyone can benefit from mentoring from a professional, but as in any market place, do your research, ask around. Above all, when considering a coach or a mentor, ask yourself if they are living the things you expect to learn from the. Ask yourself, are they teaching what they need to learn themselves, or are they teaching what they have truly embodied.

Big Picture Thinking With NLP

Big Picture thinking - FivechangesSTAYING ALIVE: PART FOUR – BIG PICTURE THINKING. Most problems come from getting the wrong end of the stick .. or of getting hold of an altogether wrong stick! Having an appropriate perspective gives maximum flexibility in any situation. Seeing the big picture is the hallmark of leadership. It is also one of the central elements that makes possible the extraordinary transformation that NLP is known for.

For details on special rates for the next NLP certification training follow this link

Here are a few stories about the practicality of Big Picture thinking

 Big Picure thinking

The King framed in a salvaged toilet seat. Tonga in the nineteen h.

Many years ago, a cargo ship with a consignment of toilet seats was washed ashore on the Pacific nation of Tonga. Western toilets were unknown on the island at that time. But these were put to good use. For many years, through the eighteen hundreds and into the early part of the twentieth century, photographs of the Tongan king could be found in houses across the islands, neatly mounted in an oval wooden frames. If you’re resourceful enough you can make good use for just about anything.

The Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki came to stay with friends in California. While Nanao was sitting in a corner of the room translating his poems into English his friends were busy planning a local action to protest the proliferation of nuclear arms. Nanao looked up and said, “Hey guys, you know we don’t have to survive!” He wasn’t questioning the value of what they were doing. He was suggesting that big picture thinking could empower any plan, and usually allows for more choices and more options.

 big picture thinking avocado Once at a retreat at Manzanita Village, someone working in the kitchen threw out a bag of avocados. She explained by saying that there were no lemons for her to make guacamole. It was a breathtakingly clear example of how easy it is get stuck in self-imposed limitations. How many ways can you use avocados? She was so focused on guacamole that she forgot to ask?

A traveler walking through the Amazon forest realized that he was being stalked by a large panther. The huge cat was about to leap. The traveler began meowing like a kitten. The panther turned and darted back into the forest, as though chased by an invisible force. Was it the surprise of hearing a meowing primate? Was it the absence of fear in the eyes of its intended prey? Was the panther wondering how enormous the mother cat must be if the kitten was six feet tall?

If we get into trouble in life it’s often because we lose perspective. We can often get out of trouble best by changing how we think, changing what we think we know. Asking “Why?” and “How?” finding new answers, and removing some of the imagined limitations and beliefs that had been holding us back.

big picture thinkingJust look at any political discussion on Sunday television in the U.S. and it soon becomes clear that most of the arguments are based on unexamined assumptions. It’s like three people arguing about the shape of an elephant, one looking at it head-on, one from the side, and one from the rear. They are all looking at the same animal, but they assume that theirs is the only possible position on which to stand.

I was speaking to someone today about Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), and saying how people get confused by the many brilliant techniques it is known for, and think that’s what NLP is. All those amazing techniques are simply the products of NLP. They come out of NLP. The essence of NLP is much simpler. Part of it has to do with looking for the big picture, looking at what works, how it works, and then finding ways to change your own actions based on that, in order to get more effective results for yourself. For example, a person standing in front of a charging elephant needs to know how to get out of the way. NLP is concerned first with how to move from A to B, how to get out of the way of that charging elephant, and how to stay out of the way. Knowing why the elephant is charging may be useful information, even though it’s not the first question to ask.

elephant-charge-five-changesjpg Big Picure thinking

Get out of your own way!

One of the key principles of NLP is flexibility, knowing what question to ask and when, being willing and able to change your perspective and acting accordingly. Like using a zoom lens, to zoom in or out.  It’s essential to be able to do both and it’s essential to know when to do so. Seeing the big picture is important, and so is filling in the details. The key is to know when to apply what. Confronted with a charging elephant the issue is one of survival. At another time you can ask a question other than the one your body answers automatically when confronted with that charging elephant,

Once you’ve saved yourself from being trampled by the elephant, a good question to ask in order to see a bigger big picture is “For what purpose?”

For what purpose ..
.. do I unconsciously put myself in the path of charging elephants?
.. am I getting into a dysfunctional situation just like others I’ve been in?
.. is that person spending time doing something they detest?

When we take a less than perfect course of action, in any situation, it’s often because we have not yet uncovered some of our hidden motivations and agendas. “For what purpose am I doing what I’m doing?”

We tell our clients that they are doing the best they can according to what they know, or according to what they think is possible. And that our work with them is to help them to know more .. not just knowing intellectually, but tapping into a deeper knowing and trusting. It means learning to look at a bigger picture so that they have more options and choices. Asking the question, “For what purpose?” is a great place to start.

For more information about learning the tools of Neurolinguistics (NLP) follow this link.

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Re-Define Creativity. Life Coaching Tools – Blog and Podcast

Michele Benzamin-Miki Re-Define CreativitySTAYING ALIVE: PART THREE – RE-DEFINE CREATIVITY. We have to be honest, we’re biased in favor of people with a creative sensibility, whether they’re artists, designers, photographers, musicians, writers, performers, or simply people who bring the spirit of creativity and spontaneity into their lives. Here’s five reasons why.

Life coaching tools and resources from Five Changes

1. To be human is to be creative. Creativity is the essence of human experience. It is change and innovation, experimentation, wonder, curiosity, or the simple desire to do something new. We express it as play, travel, conversation, work, day-dreaming, and lovemaking. Everything is enhanced by the quality of creativity we bring to our life. Repetitive tasks can be transformed by changing your thought or intention behind that task, or by simply changing how you do it. Creativity is what gives you choice; to stretch, to challenge yourself, to play, and to grow. Creativity is not just for children and artists, it’s our life-blood. It’s how we stay alive.

2. Play. Let’s play! Creativity is as simple as a child’s laughter, spontaneous and free. How much can you let yourself feel? What is more important than your ability to wonder and respond, or to see with new eyes, hear with new ears  .. another’s face, another’s words, sunset or sunrise, what was called in classical Chinese, “the ten-thousand things” – the whole wide world. Creativity is the pleasure of being present to the world. Why not ask yourself when you wake up in the morning, “How much pleasure can I let myself feel today?”

Re- Define creativity - communication - play

3. Communication. Creativity is communication. Wherever we happen to live, our language is the roof and walls, the windows and doors of our experience. Even in silence, how we speak to ourselves will define how we experience the world. Our words are constantly changing. No two sentences are alike. How we speak is how we make friends and allies, or how we make enemies. It’s how we tell the world who we are. If actions speak louder than words, then actions are the verification of the internal conversation we have with ourselves.

4. Self-care. Creativity is how we care for ourselves. The impulse for innovation and change, the instinct to adapt, or to celebrate, to pause or to move forward. Whether through unrestrained improvisation or a ritual act, through an artist spending a lifetime on a body of work or a spontaneous instant, the confluence of elements that make for a perfect moment. There’s something about living at the edge of your comfort zone, and dancing with the unpredictable and spontaneous creative. True self-care is also cultivating your limitless imagination.

5. Problem Solving. Everyone has challenges, everyone is faced with change. Creativity is an essential element for problem-solving and fluid adaptation. Sometimes just doing what you have never done before to address an old familiar problem is all you need to do to change everything, including your sense of whatever it is being the problem you thought it was.

Re-define creativity exercise play self-care

Exercise, Re- Define Creativity for your self: Here’s a simple strategy you can use – to start a new project, or inspire you when you’re stuck. Take a book, a large book is always best, and open it at random. Point to a word on the page without looking. Then write the word down. Repeat this two more times. Now you have three words selected at random. Use those words, whatever they may mean or signify to you, to come up with a new approach to your problem or project. For more on mentoring, training and coaching follow this link.

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Two Things To Know About Change

 Two Things To Know About Change


What does not change / is the will to change. Charles Olson

I noticed, years ago, that most of the Buddhists I knew turned the notion of change into an absolute principle. “Don’t get too excited about anything, because it will fade away and disappear before you know it.” They had made it into a ‘thing’ called Impermanence with unspoken hints of nihilistic resignation; at least, that’s how it came across.

Then I thought of that well-known George Gershwin song:

“The way you hold your knife,
the way we danced ’til three,
The way you changed my life,
no, no, they can’t take that away from me.”

and remembered that although everything does indeed change, the impressions that each thing leaves can be very different.

Which brings me to the second thing to know about change, that Big, Life-changing, ‘rock you to your foundations’ change can be easy, long-lasting, and truly transformational,

Many people fear that such change is difficult, scary, hard to come by, and probably only effective for other people! But that’s simply not the case.  Faith and doubt bear equal fruits. In other words, we fulfill our own expectations, whether we expect to or not!  So when you set your expectations high and learn to get out of your own way you can’t not achieve them!  .. like the little boy who dreamed of flying and grew up helping Wilbur Wright to invent airplanes.

Things to know about change:

Fast, long-lasting change is within your reach, and two things are necessary to achieve it; Here are the things to know about change:

  1. clarity to know where you want to go
  2. and the means to get you there i.e. the skills you need, and the people to support you, guide you, and hold you accountable to move through the obstacles you encounter on the way.


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Five changes: NLP Questions and Answers.

We Get to Ask questions!?I

Five changes: NLP Questions and Answers

NLP Questions & AIf you missed the call/webcast  last Friday you can still catch the recording at

We only had time to answer some of your questions. So here are a few more.

Thanks to everyone for your participation and energy. Most of these questions have a relevance beyond NLP, or our Five Changes NLP training. There’s a bigger picture here that has to do with change, transformation, and healing of all kinds.

Q: What are the possible negative outcomes for taking the training and doing this work?

This will apply to any genuinely transformational work that changes you from being the victim of circumstances to living your life at choice. Think of all people who have done amazing things in their life, sometimes against all odds. Some may be iconic heroes, like Mandela, or Oprah, or Cesar Chavez, others may be people you know. You may even be one of them yourself. Think about it! Think of people who have beaten the odds to do something extraordinary.

At some point they refused to put up with excuses for not doing what they knew they could do, what they had to do .. whether it was changing the world or dealing with some personal misfortune.

When you change what you are willing to tolerate in your life, whether it’s a bad situation or negative people, some doors may close. But others will open. When it becomes more important to you to face your challenges, than to continue hanging out with the situations and people who reinforce your excuses for not changing, you may lose some of those friends. But that may not actually be a bad thing, It may not be a negative outcome. You may have to change some of the things you do and places where you hang out. That may not be a bad thing either. But anyway, consider yourself warned ..

Q: Are NLP and hypnosis the same? How are they related?

milton_erickson NLP Questions & A

Milton Erikson

Yes and no. Hypnosis and NLP are certainly related, and share some common ground. But you can practice NLP without any formal reference to hypnosis, and there are numerous styles of hypnotherapy that make no overt use of NLP techniques. Consider hypnosis as simply the means to bypass the rational mind in order to effect deep long-lasting healing and change by accessing unconscious mental and neurological patterns. Based on that, then NLP and hypnosis certainly have a lot in common.

Some people are intrigued by hypnosis. Hypnosis may seem exotic and mysterious. Actually, hypnosis is a daily occurrence for all of us. As the great Milton Erikson said, “Most people walk around in a trance of disempowerment, our work is to change that into a trance of empowerment.” We are using the words hypnosis and trance interchangeably.

You will learn more about the amazing Milton Erikson during our training. His use of Conversational Hypnosis is very much a part of our NLP curriculum.

Q: I’ve heard people speak of ‘NLP magic’ and would love to know what that means.

It used to take weeks, or even months, to get people to overcome a phobia. In the traditional behaviorist methodology curing a phobia is a long process of gradual desensitization.

With NLP we can effectively remove a phobic reaction in just a few minutes, permanently. People find it hard to believe that something that used to take so long can now be done so quickly; but in NLP rapid permanent positive change is commonplace.

Q: What else can NLP change?

If you can quickly and permanently change a phobia, something that used to be considered so hard to change, do you think it might be possible to identify and change a limiting belief? Or a deep-rooted negative emotional pattern? Or compulsive or addictive behaviors and habits? Do you think common fears, like fear of public speaking, might also be something you might be able to change pretty easily?

One of the things we teach students of NLP is the importance of letting go of negative expectations of their clients. Studies have shown that clients and patients tend to fulfill the expectations of those they go to for help. Even completely unexpressed expectations are like self-fulfilling prophesies.

This may be one of the fundamental problems with traditional diagnostic approaches. Diagnoses are valuable, but only as ways to identify problems. If the diagnosis defines the client, or patient, it places them inside a box. But the client is always more than that box. Likewise, the cure, or the transformation, is always more than the conventional prognosis.

You don’t have to believe in miracles. More than fifty percent of remissions from ‘in-curable’ illness is unexplainable by conventional means.  These are already ‘miracle’ cures. In other words, for those fifty percent something changed on an unconscious level to make healing possible.

NLP has always been very curious about how this happens..

Q: How’s is NLP done?

We don’t have time to cover all the details. But the simple answer is that we all create our deepest reality, our inner landscape, our responses to the world, through the words and images that we use for mental access and recall. It is much easier to change those words, images, and the meanings associated with them than anyone realized back in the days when behaviorism and psychoanalysis, and related disciplines, were the only games in town.

NLP uses very specific ways to help people change how they represent and perceive the world they live in. We use a wide range of inductive techniques.In the NLP training we teach you how you can continue to develop ways to do the same for yourself, and others. You may take NLP into a therapeutic situation, a classroom or training room, or you may use it from the stage. The tools and techniques are applicable to almost any situation.

If you are working with clients you will have the tools to effectively change the physical, emotional, behavioral, social, professional, and even spiritual dynamics of their life.

Q: Can I talk to Caitriona or Michele about this training before I register, and will I still get the special price?

If you have worked with either of us privately in past the couple of years we do have a special offer for you if you would like to join us for this. The offer is good through the end of this month. So call us before March 31st

A Story

change NLP Questions & A Once a client came out of desperation – as clients sometimes do – having exhausted all other options. She had chronic back pain from an auto accident years before. She had had several surgeries; had been to neurologists, acupuncturists, and pain doctors. She had been to a psychiatrist at a well-known Los Angeles university hospital who gave her pain medication on condition that she had sex with him. He told her that she would have back pain for the rest of her life. He also told her that if she ever mentioned his sexual abuse he would claim that she was psychotic and delusional.

She came to me for hypnotherapy. After one session her pain was gone. A year later she reported that she had no recurrence of the pain. Such cases help me remember how powerful these tools for change really are. Does that mean her pain was not real? Of course not! It had been very real for her .. for years. Does it mean those other healthcare professionals were incompetent? Aside from the psychiatrist, they were all probably very good at what they did. It is simply that she came to me at a moment when she was truly ready for change. Fortunately the tools I have were able to catalyze that change in an effective and permanent way.

The deepest change is often not about the symptoms. Effecting change is often a matter of helping people to claim their power back, and remember who they are. People may come with ‘incurable’ problems. But those problems are incurable only because the person had learned to believe them to be so.

We do not claim that hypnosis or NLP trumps every other healing or transformational modality. Amazing transformation takes place in many contexts and through many healing modalities.

We do say that there are huge possibilities for the deepest sort of healing outside of the traditional paradigm; and that deep healing often takes place beyond known and familiar territories.


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NLP Meta States

NLP Meta States:

All things splendid have been achieved by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances. Bruce Barton

NLP Meta StatesIn the 80’s and 90’s I used to go for month-long retreats in Southwestern France to study with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Master, who was our teacher for many years. One of his constant themes, and something he would repeat over and over again, was that whenever strong negative emotions came up in our meditations, we should treat them kindly. He suggested simply being mindful whenever resentment, anxiety, regret, self-judgment or similar emotions came up; and instead of pushing them away, to treat them with the same respect and affection you might treat a good friend in need. Listen to them, be kind to them.

What would happen to your relationship with a friend in need if you were to judge them, show impatience and anger, or try to ignore them when they showed up?

The suggestion was to develop a relationship with those difficult emotions as you would with a friend. When you do. You can be sure that those emotions will cause you less grief in future encounters with them. It’s not that they won’t show up any more, it’s that your relationship to them begins to  change. This is a basic strategy of mindfulness training; simple, though not necessarily easy to do.

Go on, beat yourself up! You do it so well!

Unless you do something different than just fighting and blindly resisting negative emotions you will never learn the valuable information they carry. You never get to truly heal the deep wounds that we all carry. Worse than that, you end up compounding the negatives:
– beating yourself up about beating yourself up
– getting angry at yourselves for getting angry
– shaming yourselves for failures, weaknesses, your lack of confidence
– having anxiety in anticipation of anxiety or fear
in a repeating pattern of neurotic loops.

Those layers of resistance accumulate and compound, creating a tangle so dense that it seems almost impossible to ever extricate yourself.

NLP Meta states   

Those meditation instructions echo the ” NLP meta state ” model of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which I use now, to great effect with clients who have no experience of, and no particular interest in meditation.

The common key, and the starting point, is Awareness. You begin by simply being aware of the negative emotional state. As if you were with a good friend who was in trouble; you listen to it. You accept it as it is. Later you begin to evaluate the emotion. Is this state valid? Is it appropriate? Am I digging up some old reaction that is completely outdated in the present circumstances? Can I learn from this? What is it telling me?

Asking clear questions with awareness is the first step of becoming  master of your emotions. Most people don’t develop even this basic skill; or if they do, it is haphazard at best. But if you could learn to handle the infinite progression of emotional states, as they happen, with alignment and clear focus – imagine what would then become possible! You can transform all the emotional patterns that limit who you are, and what you can do.

What I am describing is a way of handling your emotions so that you can play the game of life in an entirely new way, with resilience, resourcefulness, energy, and creativity! And because treating it as ‘play’, may just be the one of the best ways to embody those qualities!

Welcome to the NLP Meta State -Zone!

In previous blogs I described how to use NLP Meta States. There are many ways of doing so, and after  you become familiar with the process, you will be able to adapt it and create your own unique approach.

I gave you an example of taking a negative emotional state and then gradually accessing  its higher level underlying intention. Grief and loss was the initial negative state, and I moved from there to joy and gratitude as its higher level intention, using four intermediate states to get there. I layered each state one on the other, until I was immersed in the joy and gratitude.

Here is another approach to creating NLP Meta States. You begin in the same way, asking what the underlying highest purpose behind the negative emotion is. Then you go directly to it, and move  backwards to find the sequence that connects it to the original negative emotion. Once again you are layering state upon state, to transform that negative emotion.

Recently I experienced a strange and unfamiliar fear. I was about to stand up at a large gathering of entrepreneurs to publicly acknowledge someone from whom I had learned some life-changing lessons, and for whom I felt profound gratitude. My fear kept me paralyzed in silence. Then I examined it to explore it a little. I began simply with an awareness of the fear, and an acknowledgement that it was there for a reason. I realized that underneath my fear there was a stronger feeling – my gratitude. My gratitude had been buried under old habits, and emotional triggers that had lost their relevance years ago. That awareness alone was enough to shift my focus in such a way that the fear disappeared completely. As I tracked back from gratitude, through layers of love, celebration, energy, I found that I couldn’t even access the fear any more. The fear was now the messenger of profound gratitude.

The use of this powerful process called NLP Meta States are something we use to help our clients learn to live with clarity, focus, and purpose. There are some amazing ways of using them that are impossible to describe fully here, but I hope you get a sense of how it works. NLP Meta States are also something we cover in depth in our NLP Certification training.



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Your Life: Just Getting By?

It is Your Life

Eeyore and your life

Eeyore – that great archetype for resignation and low expectations gets his tail nailed back on .. coping with a bad situation in the only way he knows.

Someone recently commented how much they appreciated that Five Changes helped so many people to ‘cope.’ I was taken aback until I realized that ‘coping’ may be all that many people have come to expect—that just ‘coping’ is enough. Tell me it’s not true for you!

How much does defeatism and resignation play out in your life? In what ways have you learned to accommodate disappointment? We have all felt and expressed negativity at some time or other, often without realizing it. You might even say that it is completely natural – whatever natural means.

But the truth is that we are wired to feel good, not bad, and that in feeling good we function better, help others more, are more creative, see more options and possibilities .. and live as a celebration of life, rather than as a denial of it .. benefiting the entire universe along the way—because in the end isn’t that our imperative – to celebrate, and make our celebration contagious?

It sounds pretty obvious doesn’t it? But there’s more; and I wouldn’t want you to imagine that I am suggesting we take on a Pollyannaish approach to everything.

Negative emotions are not bad, they are simply misunderstood. As Michele pointed out in another piece she wrote, they are opportunities and gifts.

What does your anger, your impatience, your fear etc. tell you about your love, your values, your desires in your life?

What do negative (difficult) emotions tell you about being, living, responding to life in ways that are different from what you are doing in that moment when the negative emotion comes up?

What does your outrage at political hubris, for example, tell you about your love of honesty and integrity?

What does your rage at violence and injustice tell you about your love?

What does fear or frustration tell you about your own talents and creativity, and your desire to express them and put them out into the world?

Recognizing the creative power buried in the negative emotion/experience is the first step to standing in your own authentic power to impact the world .. not necessarily as a ‘leader’, but more importantly, as the leader of your life !

How you begin to harness it is the next step ..

Your life, Just Getting By? How much does defeatism and resignation play out in your life? What do negative (difficult) emotions tell you about living? leader of your own life. Mediation, NLP, spiritual practice, Neuro lingusitic   programming, Hypnosis, personal development, unconscious mind.

Meta-States and Negative emotions

Meta-States and Negative emotions: When Bad Emotions Turn Good

Cloudy. Chance of Rainbows!

Image: Cloudy. Chance of Rainbows. Meta-States

Watercolor+Ink © Michele Benzamin-Miki

Wouldn’t it be great if negative emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, and fear, didn’t drain you, confuse you, overwhelm you, or cloud your thinking? Wouldn’t it be great if you learned to use them to bring you more energy, clarity, resourcefulness, even more happiness? Wouldn’t it be great if they became the very best way for you to solve problems and awaken your creativity?

Emotions occur for a reason. They also occur because of a choice you make; or made in the past. Which means that emotions are often based on long-established patterns and habits.

Anger. Fear. Sadness. Go for it!

Think of negative emotions as signals; information you can use to catalyze change; to regain balance, for example; or to trigger deeper degrees of happiness, confidence, joy, equilibrium, excitement.

Think of negative emotions as friends. When an apparently debilitating emotion pays you a visit, what they are doing is reminding you that something is off-balance. Invite them in, ask yourself, “What can I learn here?” Imagine that your friend is bringing you a gift. Ask yourself “How will this .. anger, sadness, disappointment, fear ..  serve me?”

This is the beginning of learning to become a true artist of your states of mind and emotions.

When you learn to use your self-reflective capacity in a particular way, you create the space around these strong emotions so that they won’t trigger you. Some spiritual practices use an observational approach to  meditation. Yet there is a tendency to simply switch from negative to positive, thereby missing the opportunity to use the momentum behind the negative emotion. Certainly, there are times when we need to switch off and experience calm and peace; but if that’s all we do, we miss huge opportunities for genuine and permanent transformation.

Meta-States. The complete and utter transformation of negative emotions

For a few years I had been caretaking my father who is in the middle stages of dementia. He is living in a Catholic facility where all his needs are attended too. Several years ago, when I visited him there, I felt profound sadness. Once my sadness was so strong that I felt it would be dangerous for me to drive. It was as if I was intoxicated with my sadness! So I went back to the small chapel in the building. I just let the feelings be there. Then I began to use my skills to create Meta-States from the sadness. Using Meta-States begins with the question, ”What is the highest intention of this sadness? What is its greatest purpose?”

The answer I got was, “Get back to the joy!” My natural joy was inside, underneath, and behind the sadness. It was a question of simply taking the time to recognize it. In fact, it was a little more than just recognizing that simple fact. Working with Meta-States is a specific way to change deeply ingrained patterns we sometimes use to limit ourselves with emotions we imagine happen to us. They help us learn that we are doing them, and that with skill we can navigate them to effect a complete transformation.

In simplest terms, when you use a Meta-State, you are moving to a resourceful internal experience from the starting point of a self-limiting experience. Of course, there are specific ways to do this. (which we will cover in a later article).

Meta-States is something that comes out of NLP. Despite much confusion, NLP is actually very simple. It is the ongoing investigation and replication of what works best, for the greatest benefit of all concerned.

If the question is, “How do people who remain unshakably happy maintain their happiness, even in the face of setbacks, disappointments, and even tragedy?” Then the answer is, “By applying the specific Meta-States that those people use. In other words, Meta-States is a strategy, a sequence of inner shifts, that you can learn to use in order to bypass old debilitating emotional downward spirals.

Now when I visit my father, my sadness immediately expands out to joy. It happens so quickly that I hardly recognize it as sadness.

There is a Japanese word that actually translates to ‘happy-sad.’ I learned to appreciate what this word meant from my own experience. Not only did I reap the benefits of transforming my sadness, I have learned to hone my skill in developing Meta-States in just about any situation that comes my way.

Of course, there is the added benefit that when you take responsibility to feel good, others feel good around you. Not only is my old Dad happier to see me, but the staff and the nurses noticeably perk up whenever I show up. They’ve even told me as much.

.. Spread the Joy!

Meta-States is part of our Five Changes NLP Master Certification training, and is also one of the key skills we teach to our clients.


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