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?
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 own life!
How you begin to harness it is the next step ..
Be receptive towards the heavens, and active towards the earth.
— Chinese proverb.
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The great thing about negative self-talk is that when you really pay attention it can teach you a lot about yourself. Unfortunately, if you’re swamped by negative emotions or if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may not have the perspective necessary to learn everything you might. But if you can get some distance, your inner dialog can be a gold-mine of information. After all, your self-talk is not really ‘you’, it’s like a radio station you happen to be tuned into. The secret is to find a better station to listen to. Before you change stations however, listen well. Sometimes it may be like listening to a one-sided news broadcast. Even though you know it’s propaganda, you can still hear a lot between the lines. It’s the same with your own negative self-talk. You can find out a lot about yourself behind the drone of self-doubt, or the propagandistic stories you’ve been telling yourself. You’ll always find alternative messages when you listen well.
Like a mirror held at right-angles, negative self-talk can help you look around the corner of your conscious mind to take a peek at your hidden beliefs and negative emotional patterns. When I say negative emotional patterns I also mean those insipid states that may not be acutely negative, but which keep you constantly at half-throttle; as if you have resigned yourself to remain in perpetual discontent, unmotivated, and distracted.
This may sound like a sorry prognosis of the way we conduct the conversation we have with ourselves, but I have found, over years of working with clients and students, that many people, unless they have done serious inner work, tell themselves things that they would never say to their worst enemy. Once we had a student staying at our center who would wake people in the middle of the night with a stream of curses directed at himself. His self-talk had started coming out of his mouth.
Just noticing some of the patterns can be very helpful. Do certain events trigger certain emotions; or do you give meanings to certain events; and the meanings (the story) then triggers emotions? Are there things you tend to do or not do, based on a specific sequence? Does some kind of negative inner dialog kick in at some point? Or is it just the feelings? Sometimes the meanings we attribute to certain events are so consistent it’s hard to identify them as an actual dialog in your head. It’s like the six o’clock news on Groundhog Day, going round and round, over and over again.
You may not be able to track these patterns on your own. The good news is that you can break them, you can change them, and when you do, you can free up immense resources of energy. You gain access to clarity and creativity, and then you start to feel really good again. It’s not just a question of changing the station you are tuned into, though that’s part of it. It’s more like getting a whole new audio system.
Some years ago a friend lend us his little hut above a lagoon in the South Pacific. From the deck, even from the bed, which was just a platform above the single room of the hut, we could watch the fish in the lagoon, the islands inside the reef, and the beyond that, the ocean stretching to the horizon. You can imagine what sort of inner dialog goes on in a place like that.
How to get a new voice
1 Do what you love. At least some of the time, at least for a few minutes every day. Deliberately acknowledge it. Express your appreciation and gratitude.
2 Imagine and remember what you love. Remember the moments that gave you the most pleasure.
3 Be still. I’m not talking about meditation, because people often surround meditation with their notions and expectations. Do less than meditation, preferably in a place where you really like to be. Just stop for a few minutes and be completely still. Relax and look around. Stay alert for signs and reminders of who you truly are.
4 There are things you can repeat out loud every day, ten times or more, in front of a mirror, or in your car, or in a room which you can fill with the sound of your voice. “I like myself. I really like myself.” Ten times. Different intonations, different volumes, different facial expressions, different postures, different gestures.
Or, in the same way, “Life is a fabulous journey, and I’m travelling it in a way that’s leading me to new discoveries every day.”
Or, “I celebrate my life as a unique expression of human life on planet earth.”
Or .. make up your own. As before, play with the sound, and with your body language. Think of it as sacred performance rather than as Affirmations.
5. Engage all your senses. Stimulate your ears with music you enjoy, make your own music if possible. Stimulate your sense of smell with incense, essential oils, flowers, spices. Engage your sense of taste with food you love, slow down when you eat, so you truly taste the food. The same with touch. Feel the texture of things, touch the people in your life, hold them, hug them, caress them. Treat your eyes to what you love, and really look. Seek out what is beautiful to look at, and then really look at it. Stimulate you mind. Study what interests you. Make it challenging enough to stretch you a little.
6. Walk on the earth everyday remembering that it is round and that always you are under the huge dome of the sky, and that beyond it there are more stars and galaxies than you can even begin to imagine and that you are connected to all of it. Imagine that all of it would prefer that you were really happy within yourself, that when you engage in negative self-talk it all fades a little. Imagine the Milky Way regretting something about itself .. how would you feel? It’s absurd to even think about isn’t it. Be like the Milky Way, because that’s sort of what you are.
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“.. the world is not set up against you ..” Rilke
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In monasteries across South Asia food is left out as an offering for wild animals and for the spirits and ancestors of the land. A wise teacher from Sri Lanka, who had been a monk for sixty of his more than seventy years, used to say that if you have trouble with wild animals or demons the best solution is to feed them.
If ants are invading your kitchen and if you can see where they are coming in, put sugar-water outside, and they’ll leave your kitchen alone. It may be that having an attitude of working with your invaders—rather than against them—is as important as your strategy of feeding them. Where else in your life might this also apply?
Although you may never have met a ghost or even believe in their existence, I am sure there have been times when you have met your own fears. If you ever paused to speak with them, to make your peace with them, to feed them with the kindness of your attentive heart, then you know it’s true. The best way to make peace with such ghosts—and they are ghosts—is to feed them.
Everyone has experienced demons of one kind or another—in themselves or in others. Think of them as a metaphor for negative emotions running wild, acting out, striking out indiscriminately, monsters with insatiable appetites, looking for approval, safety, retribution, comfort, or love.
You would be wise not to feed such demons indefinitely lest you turn into a monster yourself. Feeding them is the best place to start. You do it with acknowledgment and awareness. It’s how you lure them into the light of day.
We all do the best we can with the resources we have available. If demons rise up inside us, it means that something has to change. New resources must be found. If all you do is continue feeding your demons you remain or become a rageaholic, a shameaholic, a depressionaholic, an addict to anxiety, habituated to your own serial disappointments.
So the insatiable patterns and needs I have been calling demons, once lured out into the light, must be addressed by more drastic means. The usual sorts of kindness won’t help in this instance. Strategies for masking them or dulling them are temporary solutions at best. Action is necessary, the sort of drastic action that may be completely outside of your comfort zone .
Negative emotions, and the self-defeating actions that have dogged you for so long that they seem to be part of who you are, are not who you are. The limiting decisions and beliefs that you have carried for years do not define your destiny.
You may imagine that the past is fixed while the future is an open book. Actually the reverse is true. The future is fixed so long as you shy away from challenging and transforming your demons. The patterns and perceptions and habits of the past can, and must be changed, if you are to step into your life, free at last …
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Who’s in charge of your life? Who’s driving the bus? These are the basic questions that NLP asks you, to challenge the idea that you are powerless to change.
Depression and anxiety disorders are related to your idea that someone or something else is in charge, and your symptoms are perpetuated and aggravated by the belief that you are helpless to change.
But you know that if you could, and when you do change, you will cease being a victim of the condition you experience, and become instead the one who’s driving that bus, and choosing your journey.
Although much is said about the chemical causes for depression, that diagnosis doesn’t really address the issue. Everything is chemical to some extent. Love is chemical too. Anger is chemical, curiosity, fear, and any emotional state you care to mention has some chemical component. You can also ask, “What else is it aside from mere chemistry?”
Anger, addictions of various kinds, emotions of all sorts can be managed, and transformed. You can learn to change their negative effects easily when you know how. The same is true of depression and anxiety. It’s just a question of learning the skills.
Depression and Anxiety lead to many things:
- family conflict
- learning disabilities necessary
- low self-esteem
- low energy
- ill health
- chronic debilitating mental illness
… the list goes on
Twenty-seven million people in the US take medication for depression. Perhaps you’re one of them. Perhaps you would like to avoid becoming one of them.
Here’s a resource I discovered. It doesn’t mention NLP – but it’s got some good info.
Imagine a world of emotional choice, where we have more choices and emotional range. It would be like playing a musical keyboard – with the full scale of notes available to us – to inform and inspire us, instead of only playing the highest and the lowest notes, disappointment – depression, desire – excitement, back and forth and back and forth…
Imagine moving fluidly, through our emotional landscape, choosing the satisfying and appropriate emotions in order to respond to our environment, and circumstances, and eliciting those emotions that nurture and motivate us towards our goals. The good news is – it is possible to live in this world and to thrive on your terms.
Most of us grew up missing out on certain emotional experiences, and wishing we did not have those certain others, and we were taught, that there are some emotions that are taboo to feel, let alone express. Emotions govern our behavior and sense of well being, nevertheless, many people ignore the importance of their emotions, without realizing how essential they are for achieving their goals in the world. Image and presentation play an important role in how we are perceived by others, however, inner congruency and true success, comes from choosing how to respond emotionally. Your ability to choose your options is the key to your freedom.
We are all emotional beings with the capacity for intelligence, fluidity, freedom, and choice in how we experience emotions. You will be on your way to emotional choice when you appreciate that there is a wider range of emotions than you may currently experience; and when you understand that each of your emotions carries vital information, each of your emotions is communicating with you.
The work I do with my coaching clients almost always begins with helping them move from being stuck in specific negative emotions. But it’s not just a question of getting rid of bad emotions. It is important to understand how even the most painful emotions are communicating valuable information. It is in transforming limiting emotions, reinventing them, and using them creatively that the internal congruence and the achievement of desired outcomes can be attained.
The emotions that appear as obstacles, often become the key elements of your transformation. Call me for a free, no-obligation, strategy session, to see what work we can do, to transform those old stuck emotions – 310.399.3531
Using Hypnosis with depression.
Three things you should know.
Hypnosis has been around for as long as consciousness itself, much longer than depression, which is relatively new on the scene. If we are stuck in a mood it is as if we have been hypnotized. When we absorb information, whatever it might be, it is because we have taken it in through a process that is effectively hypnotic. As young children we are in a state akin to hypnosis all the time. We learn to make rapid associations unconsciously, and we become adept at responding to life, based on those associations. We have learned unconsciously to do what we do, to feel as we feel. Hypnosis is that function of the mind that allows us to absorb information unconsciously. Sometimes, when the information we absorb is intrinsically contradictory, we respond by feeling depressed.
Let me ask you: what is the capital of France? I assume you know. I would like to ask you to reflect for a moment on how amazing it is that you can access the name so quickly, instantaneously, from all the countless other pieces of information that are available to you. The access you have, as well as all the various possible choices you have in how you respond to whatever comes your way, such as that question, for example, is anchored within functions that are also effectively hypnotic.
You may have heard how in certain cultures a curse, or a hex, a 'magic' spell, can actually cause someone to die. It has been well documented, and although we may not succumb to such magic, we are equally susceptible to the effects of our own, often equally inexplicably irrational, belief systems.
Your belief system determines how you operate. Your belief system can even make you do things against your own best interests. It can trigger strong emotions based on the way it forces you to interpret the world. Based on your interpretations, your beliefs ever more solidified. Hypnosis can be used to address the limitations that come from that solidification, it can help you melt rigid beliefs, such as "I am depressed."
I often work with clients who have been diagnosed as 'clinically' depressed, or bipolar, or with a 'chemical' imbalance. The diagnosis often serves the clinician who gave it, and the drug company who provides the drug prescribed for it, more than it does the client. In the short term. that prescription may be a lifesaver. In the long term it may become part of a debilitating life sentence.
My issue is that individuals are sometimes forced to live for years with a diagnosis that traps them, reinforcing the behaviors that caused depression in the first place. Depression is something you learn to DO. Diagnosis tells you that it is who you ARE.
If it is who you ARE you are doomed. If it's something you DO, then you can stop doing it as soon as you know HOW.
EVERYTHING is chemical in one way or another. EVERYTHING is behavioral too. Many things respond exactly the way you expect them to. The filters your expectations impose on your perceptions make sure of it. A chemist looks at chemistry, a behaviorist looks at behavior. A hypnotist asks HOW you can do something different from what you have been doing, so that your life can work better.
Hypnosis can change a lifelong pattern of depression because it addresses the deep underlying and often unconscious behaviors and beliefs that have supported it.
Living in the Light
Humans are diurnal. That means we live our lives by day, unlike owls, bats, badgers, (as well as a few musicians I know). Most of us need light to feel at our best. Even if it's only a few hours a day. Along with light comes physical activity, looking our towards the horizon, looking upwards with your eyes; a few simple physiological actions that engage you with the external world.
Take a comfortable deep breath or two. Look upwards, relax your body. Be aware of everything that's around you. It should take no more than a few seconds to do this, to reconnect with where you are.
Depression is a withdrawal. Reconnecting with people and things; moving; engaging creatively with the world, even when you don't feel inclined to do so, will change your mood. This is only a beginning; but explore how easy it is to begin. You might be surprised to lean that you really CAN change your mood.
Honesty is the Best Policy
I do not want to diminish the debilitating effect of depression. It's something I suffered from myself for many years; and during that time the depression felt entirely non-negotiable, impervious to anything I might do to shake it. Then something changed. I learned that the depression was a choice, and that it was something I DID, rather than something I WAS.
I learned that there were moments of choice, when I could choose how to interpret my experience. My interpretation could affirm whatever I wanted. If I wanted to believe that my life was not worth living, the evidence was certainly there; and if I wanted to believe that my life was full of promise, I discovered that I could choose to believe that instead.
I also learned that my depression had a lot to do with living in a way that was not entirely truthful and open. When I was not in full congruence with myself, when I was not 'walking my talk', I tended to become isolated and depressed. What that means exactly might be different for each of is.
Suffice to say, we can all benefit from coming out of whatever closets we hide in to prevent ourselves from being who we truly are, and from expressing the fullness of our creative capacity.
In my Los Angeles hypnotherapy practice, I have used hypnosis for depression with countless clients. I would say that a majority of the people who come to me for hypnotherapy, regardless of what else is going on in their lives, suffer from some degree of depression, mild or otherwise.
I am not suggesting that hypnosis is a universal cure for depression, but in my experience hypnosis works with depression to help you recognize that you are not just a victim of your emotions.
You do have a choice about how you deal with depression; just as you have a choice in how you deal with everything life sends your way.