Smile!

A very simple yet powerful way to lift your spirits, to make you feel happier and more positive about who you are is to use a mirror and smile!

It may sound crazy and may feel completely awkward to begin with but keep at it and you will notice you begin to feel happier and better about who you are as an individual (and so you should because you are incredible!)

Every morning (and every time you pass a mirror if you can) take a couple of minutes to simply smile at yourself. That’s all you have to do – just smile at yourself. Appreciate it may feel weird to begin with – but keep doing it. If you can then tell yourself how amazing you are too – that you love yourself.

Again if that feels strange just go with it and before long you will feel comfortable smiling at yourself and telling yourself how great you are (because you are great!)

After a week you will begin to feel a little better and after a month you will feel a whole lot better and all you did was smile at yourself it the mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are!

Try it out – I mean how long does it take? And if you can do this exercise 3 times a day – in the morning, during the day (if you have the bathroom free at work) and at night just before you go to bed. You will notice that you do feel good whilst doing this exercise – and that’s great isn’t it?

You may notice that you begin to laugh too – and that’s great too as laughter is a powerful medicine and one which many lack. So Smile and be Happy!!

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Say NO and Mean It!

Reading an article yesterday I felt compelled to write on the subject of saying no. No is a simple two letter word. There is nothing complex in it’s pronunciation or interpretation. No is the opposite of yes. No is a full sentence and does not need clarification or justification. No means simply no.

So why do some of us have difficulty saying no and meaning it? Whether it’s saying no to the PTA or your kids or your boss at work who seems to have singled you out for extra work and unpaid hours. When you say no it should mean no and not ‘well I might be able to’ or ‘you know that I really don’t want to’ or even ‘I hate letting people down and they will probably not like me if I say no’.

People soon get used to the ‘weak’ no and consequently will try and force your hand based on past experience however isn’t it time you stood up for yourself, for what you want and for what you mean? Yes it is!

If you have problems saying no to people then try this simple exercise below and soon you will be saying NO in an assertive way that everyone will understand and no-one will doubt!

1. Think about a couple of past situations where you wanted to say no to someone but failed. You may have started with no but ended up with ‘okay if you want’ (what about what you want?!!)
2. Go through these scenes in your mind and find the point where your ‘no’ became a ‘yes’. Notice how you felt, what you said, what the other person said etc.
3. Now go through these situations again but this time change the end result to a positive outcome. When you get to the point where you gave in before, see yourself now saying no and meaning it. As you visualize yourself doing this notice your body posture, the tone of your voice etc and how much more assertive you look and sound. Go through this a couple of times and notice everything that is different about this new you that says no and means it!
(a few suggestions here would be seeing yourself standing tall, relaxed, possibly smiling (though not manically) whilst saying something like ‘Thanks for the opportunity but I really can’t right now, so I am going to have to say no’. And LEAVE IT AT THAT! No does not need to be justified it simply means no, however you can be polite about it which is more likely to appease the other person. Say no with a smile (creates a feeling of warmth) and simply say ‘No thank you, I am fine/I really haven’t the time right now/it’s really not something I enjoy/I do not accept what you say’ etc. When you have said no simply see yourself walking away or changing the subject.)
4. Next write down all the ways that you can say ‘no’ nicely, firmly and mean it. Read them through and practice saying them with conviction. This does not mean shouting or raising the tone of your voice, if anything lower the tone of your voice just slightly as this sends out a clear message to others that you mean what you say! (I use this technique in class with students and it’s far more effective than shouting which merely lets others know you have lost control).
5. Now practice saying no to people who take advantage of you, in front of a mirror preferably. See yourself looking calm and in control, maintaining eye contact (vital!) and smiling before saying no. And then practice defending that no – ‘As I have just mentioned I do not have the time……but thank you again for asking’. etc! Make sure the outcome is the one you want!

When you run through this exercise you will notice you begin to feel more confident about your ability to say no and mean it! If you have a situation that you know requires a no then practice saying no before hand and remember always picture a POSITIVE outcome i.e. the one you want!

Everyone has the right to say no and some say it more or less everyday whilst others fear the consequences of their no. Sometimes it is appropriate to say no – if it’s to the attention seeking child to the annoying friend or to the guy down the road who keeps you chatting for too long about his health problems!

From today make a commitment to say no and stick to it! Say no and mean it!

Confident Children And Imagination

My son was a very anxious boy this morning. He is playing in the school team this evening in a deciding match for the league title and he is scared!

As a mum it’s all to easy to say ‘don’t be ridiculous, you’re a great player’ and leave it at that, but if your child is really worried about something or lacking confidence then surely there is a better way to help them that just offering reassurance?

Well thankfully there is! Confidence is based on perception i.e. your child’s own idea of whether they feel they can do something well or not and like us all, confidence can be diminished through ‘bad’ experiences. And when I say ‘bad’ the experiences themselves may not necessarily be bad but the meanings we take from them may be.

So your son is anxious about a match or your daughter feels scared about doing her Show and Tell – how can you help them?

Two ways really and both very simple and incredibly powerful.

The first one is to get them to ‘rehearse’ what they are going to do in their mind and talk them through it with as much positivity as possible. Make them feel incredible and make sure that every detail is positive and that the outcome is a success.

Not only will this boost their confidence as you are doing the exercise but it also programs their mind to do what they have been ‘rehearsing’ too! So when they stand up in front of the class or get in front of that goal, their mind goes ‘ah right, I know what I need to know now’ and more often than not, they will get the results the practiced.

However be realistic. Don’ set them up for failure! You son will probably not score 10 goals even if he is up front and not in defence! The idea is to get them to focus on the skills needed to get the results they want and to program their minds for success and remember what the mind can see you will achieve – so if your child focuses on failure (which is probable if they are worried) they are more likely to fail. So get them to always focus on what they want from this moment on (and you too!)

To help them feel more positive towards doing this and the following exercise, mention how all the top sports personalities carry out this exercise and how it improves their game/race etc.

Another great way of boosting your kids confidence (which can be incorporated with the exercise above too) is know as the confidence switch. This is quite simply setting up a physical anchor which when ‘fired’ produces feelings of well being and confidence in your child. 

So how do you literally turn on a confidence switch? Well the first thing you need to do is decide what the switch will be (a good place is a knuckle on one hand, the back of the hand or even their nose) and ensure you keep this ‘switch’ and that the pressure used is the same too i.e. press the same place all the time and with enough pressure to register the touch but not too much that it’s obvious. Also once this is set up the switch needs to be something that you child themselves can access themselves if and when they need it. So discretion might be key.

Once you have decided where the ‘switch’ will be then you need to set it. So get your child to remember a time when they felt really great, perhaps when they scored a goal previously or when they were doing something they loved doing such as dancing, singing or simply a time when they felt really great – perhaps playing with friends or on the rollercoaster! 

Get them to close their eyes if they want to (it’s ok if they don’t want to) and get them (with a little help from you) to talk through the positive experience as if they were actually reliving it again. Ask them what they see, what they hear and ask them to really focus on how great they were feeling and as you know yourself, when you focus on happy memories those old feelings flood back don’t they? 

So when you see that your child has associated into those feel good feelings (it will be very obvious with a child when they are!) simply touch their ‘switch’ for roughly 10 seconds. Then stop.

Get them to go through the memory again maybe this time bring in more details or try another memory. Again get your child to really focus on all that they remember and when you see them accessing those happy feel good feelings again, anchor them by touching their knuckle again.

Do this a couple of times at any one go – don’t overdo it as your child will get fed up! Do it again with them the next day or the next to ensure that their confidence switch becomes more powerful.

However one of the best things about the confidence switch is that your child doesn’t even have to know what you are doing! You can get them to focus on happy memories whilst you anchor these feelings by touching their hand (in the same place and the same hand!)/knuckle/nose in such a way that they are unaware of what you are doing. 

Also every time they are feeling happy, confident or at ease with themselves you can simply top us this switch by touching their knuckle for a few seconds. 

You need to go this exercise around 4 – 8 times and then try out the switch. Get you child to focus and then flip the switch and ask (and watch out for signs) them what they noticed? Keep topping up this confidence switch – whenever you child is doing something they are enjoying, when they tell you about a fab goal they scored at school or how they did this incredible dance move – just switch that switch. The more you do this the better the result.

They will be delighted with their new weapon of  mass construction! So give this a go – it’s easy to do and will make your child feel so much more confident and in control. Furthermore, the more they use this switch the more likely the behaviour is to become a natural part of who they are. 

I will keep you posted on the result tonight!

Take care and speak soon!!!

Remember a time…….

…a specific time when you felt great about yourself, when you achieved something or when you just felt so relaxed or great to be alive. And as you remember that time now I want you to really get a sense of being right back in that moment right now…..perhaps close your eyes and see the memory now.

See it as though you were right back in that moment now, as though you were looking through your eyes and really see everything that you could see at that time. Hear what you could hear – perhaps people talking – and really get a sense of how great you felt at that time.

And you may be surprised at how good you are beginning to feel as your mind re-associates into those feelings at that time. Now make that image bigger, brighter, perhaps make the sounds crisper and notice how the feelings become stronger and stronger.

Keep focusing on everything that was going on at that time and feel all those feel good feelings flooding through your body again and doesn’t it feel good to know that you can feel this good when ever you want to?

How? By simply focusing on happy memories or positive things in our lives – such as gratitude – you can begin to feel a lot more positive and a whole heap happier.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety you have a tendency to focus on the ‘bad’ things or those things that make us feel anxious. You go through old hurts over and over again replaying them over and over again in your mind however, unlike a movie reel which will wear out over time, these memories seem to get stronger and more powerful the more you play them.

Sometimes these memories become distorted in some way so that they appear worse than what they actually were and all the time our mind is remembering and reliving these ‘bad’ memories your body is re-experiencing all those old ‘bad’ feelings.

Your cells become accustomed to certain feelings (depression, anxiety, anger) and you stay trapped in a cycle of bad feelings, as your body begins to ‘crave’ those ‘bad’ feelings because it’s all it knows so you continue to focus on those old memories and those negative feelings. Then you get given a label. Depressive. OCD. Frustrated.

If you want to beat depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, worthlessness or any other negative emotion then it’s time to change the movies you run in your mind. However before you do that you need to become aware of them first!

So take a few day to ‘listen in’ to your thoughts, and discover what things you dwell on – and write them down. You will be amazed at how a pattern seems to form. Once you become aware of what you focus on, then make a commitment to yourself that you are going to change. Write this down to and state it in the positive.

So if you want to let go of depression and feel happier then make a commitment to yourself to focus on the happy things in life and always see the good in any situation. If you want to be less angry, then make a commitment to stay calm in every situation and to speak calmly and politely to everyone.

Once you have made that commitment, for the next 30 days you need to change the movies in your mind or those negative thoughts to ones that are more supportive of your new outlook.

So as soon as you find yourself dwelling on that memory of you feeling sad, say CANCEL in your mind and bring in a new happy memory (and yes you will have them you have just chosen to forget them!) and focus on this memory for about 15-20 seconds. Each and every time you have a negative thought say CANCEL in your mind and change to positive supportive thoughts such as ‘I am happy’, ‘I am in control’ etc.

Write a reminder of what you are doing somewhere visible so that you are reminded everyday what you are doing. Use post it notes and stick them on mirrors, cupboard doors etc to remind you to change those old movies or thoughts to new, positive and supporting ones.

Yes some days will feel like an up hill struggle and that’s okay. Persevere. Because it’s natural to come up with some resistance when you are making changes to your life. So know that it’s natural to ‘fight’ these new changes and keep on going!

You can change how you feel and depression, anxiety, anger, low self esteem and all those horrible feelings are all run on automatic. Your thoughts run who you are so make a commitment to change how you feel and change your thoughts.

However in order to succeed there are three words of advice for you.

Persevere. Persevere. Persevere.

 

 

 

Seeing Is Believing

Many clients come to me in the hope that they can feel more confident in certain situations whether that be driving, singing, dancing, public speaking or to simply feel better about themselves.

I usually see these clients for a couple of sessions however there is an incredibly easy and effective tool that anyone can use which will build confidence over time and as they say, the more you do it the more you will benefit!

Visualization is (and I can not stipulate strongly enough!!!) one of the most simple yet powerful self help tools available to one and all and is completely free! The majority if not all of top athletes use visualization to enhance performance and it has been proven that visualization is more effective than just training alone. Top business men, professionals, actors, singers and even doctors use this simple tool.

Why? Well first and foremost because visualization  reprogrammes our mind for success. Your mind does respond to the thoughts you have and the images you create in your mind too. So if you see yourself confident you mind will respond accordingly. Also the part of the brain that responds to what we actually see is the same part of the mind that responds to what we visualize too, so your mind will just assume that you are the confident individual you see in your mind and will accordingly produce the behaviour appropriate. And the more you see yourself confident the stronger the new neural pathways become to that new more positive behaviour.

Secondly, when you visualize yourself feeling good and acting in a way that you wish to behave, you will automatically begin to feel better in yourself too so visualization stimulates these wonderful feel good feeling more and more in response to the positive images we create.

Thirdly. The part of your mind that is responsible for your behaviours in the unconscious mind and this part of our mind has many duties, one being to move you towards pleasure and away from pain. So whilst you visualize yourself acting more confidently, you begin to feel better too, so your unconscious mind will begin to associate this feel good feeling with acting confidently  and as it wants you to feel happy it will produce more confident behaviour to ensure you keep feeling great!

Visualization may not be easy to begin with as you may not be used to creating images in your mind but believe you me, you do produce images daily in your mind whether you are aware of it or not! Think of something you love and you may be surprised to notice an image pop to mind straight away! If you do struggle with visualizing then daydream – most people can daydream and quite often do about winning the lottery!

When you see yourself confident in your mind you may notice your physiology adapts accordingly too, however really get a sense of, or an image of just how you would look, how you would behave, especially in those situations that perhaps you would avoid. How do you sound when you speak? How do you walk? How do you feel in yourself? So really get into how you would look, feel, think, behave when confident and most importantly is FEEL how great you feel when you see yourself confident because the better you feel while visualizing the more confident you the quicker the transformation!

Get into a routine too – visualize first thing in the morning to set you up for the day and several times during the day – it only needs to be for a couple of minutes to make a difference each day. If you are preparing for something that you need to feel more confident about then see yourself doing what ever it is, whether it’s presenting or chatting up that guy at work that you’ve had your eye on for ages, but see yourself doing what you want to do in the way that you want to do it and make sure that you focus only on a positive performance because remember – what the mind can see the mind will achieve!!

So get seeing you in a more positive light and see how quickly you begin to feel differently. Confidence is based on perception and by changing how you see yourself in your mind you are changing how you perceive yourself in everyday life too.

Good luck!

I Need A Little Time….

So you want to change? And you want to be slimmer? You want to be more confident, successful? Brilliant!

But you don’t have the time? You don’t know when you can squeeze that exercise in or find the time to actually sit down and eat properly? You’re too busy to think about that right now.

So pardon me for asking, but do you still want to lose weight? Do you still want to be more confident, successful?

Thankfully most of the people who come to see me with help to shed weight or feel better do have the time to make a difference in their lives! If you want to lose weight, be happier then you need to commit yourself to making time for yourself – it’s as simple as that!

Yes life is a lot faster today than it was years ago but if you seriously cannot find the time to make a difference in your life, then ask yourself why? I’m a single mum and life can be very hectic however I can play the victim card and bemoan how ‘I never get any time for myself with the kids’ or I can make time for myself because I know I deserve it. It’s a choice and a choice that sometimes can take a while to comprehend, but never the less, it is your choice.

Time is precious and they say never swap time for cash and it’s true. We can never buy back lost time, no matter how much we pay for it! Life is precious and life is time. It’s about living in the here and now. Not in the past or in the future but right here right now. The only time you can make a difference is now, not yesterday and not tomorrow but now.

Taking time for yourself is one of the easiest ways to feel better, however taking time for yourself does not mean sitting on your bum in front of the TV swigging down a bottle of wine! Taking time for yourself means taking time to appreciate yourself, to do something for yourself, something that you enjoy or perhaps something that can help you unwind such as a relaxing bath or long walk. By spending quality time with yourself you are nurturing yourself and telling yourself that you are worth it. Now that’s got to feel better than ‘sorry too busy’ hasn’t it?

Spend time with the ones you love too, as this can improve your sense of well being. Kids grow quickly don’t they? So take time to enjoy them now, because when they reach their teenage years they spend less and less time with you. I get up early some mornings so that me and the kids can walk a longer way to school because it means I get to spend some quality time with them and I find this one of the best ways to start my days – it certainly beats shouting and rushing to get out of the house on time for school.

How you spend your time is YOUR choice. Yes we need to work and yes we need to feed the kids but come one – you could make time if you really wanted to! Being a martyr isn’t really going to help you feel any better is it and it certainly won’t help your mental and physical welfare either.

Most successful people today attribute their success to ‘taking time out’ – whether that be to meditate, exercise, walk or to pamper themselves – the crucial point is that they value themselves enough to take quality time for themselves.

So next time you hear yourself saying you haven’t got the time to do something that you know will improve your life or make you feel better, then ask yourself why you don’t feel you deserve the time? We all deserve to have fun, to be happy, to succeed and all of these things take time.

So if you want to lose weight then you need to take the time to eat properly and take some form of exercise. If you want to beat the blues then get out of the house and do something fun today! You can make yourself feel a whole lot better if you really wanted to – it takes time – yes, but time that can help you change your life.

So take time now to thing about how you can change your life in some way, how you can help yourself and remember that you are worthy of time and as life is all about time, you are worthy of the best life ever!

Responsibility Versus Blame…….Let The Race Begin

Responsibility and blame line up at the start of the race – both look on top form and both have their own band of supporters. They are on the starting blocks………..and then they are off. Blame gets off to a good start, with responsibility close behind. It’s a close battle at the beginning of the race and blame,fueled by anger and self pity, steams forward inching away from responsibility, however responsibility has maintained an even pace and manages to overtake and surpass blame, sprinting towards the finish and with a clear vision of success in mind, crosses the line and takes first place. A race well run with the only true contender winning.

As a therapist I deal with many people who suffer from a myriad of issues ranging from lack of self esteem to bad habits to excessive eating and before I can help any of them, they need to accept responsibility for there issue and for any subsequent changes. This does not mean that they are to ‘blame’  for their issues it simply means they need to acknowledge that in order to change they have to accept that they can not keep on going the way they are going.

For example, I often hear from clients who are overweight that it is because of ‘hormonal issues’ or ‘it’s in their genes’ or that they ‘love food’ or ‘they kids love this food’ but they do not acknowledge that it is anything that they are doing that is causing them to be overweight (research also shows that that very few people have what is often referred to as the ‘fat’ gene). So how can I help someone who blames their genes or the fact that they love food and don’t wish to change their eating habits? I can’t!

However if an overweight client comes in and admits that they have several issues with food that they wish to address then I can certainly help them and they can help themselves too because they have admitted responsibility for their weight. They have chosen to overeat or to eat unhealthily, and it may well have been something they were ‘taught’ as a child, but as an adult they can choose to change or continue to blame someone else for their being overweight. It is a choice. We can take responsibility for who we are and who we wish to become and we can acknowledge that what we do is not working therefore we need to change something to make it work.

Taking responsibility for our lives is incredibly empowering and instead of blaming God, the kids, your parents etc for what is wrong in your life, isn’t it about time you took responsibility for how you behave? Of course you may well suffer from anxiety or low self esteem if you lived with domineering or critical parents, but is you continue to blame your parents for your low self esteem you stay in victim mode and you maintain your low self esteem. So does blame really improve your life in anyway or does it give you the easy option of staying where you are and avoiding change?

Yes your parents could have contributed to your low self esteem however as an adult you have to accept responsibility for yourself for who you are now. That may mean that you can acknowledge that events or people in your past contributed towards your lack of confidence or anxiety etc however as an adult you now have the choice whether to continue blaming the past or move forward qand improve your future.

Responsibility features very much is all adult relationships too and I quite often see clients who wish to increase confidence or feel  better about themselves after years in an abusive or controlling relationship.  In any adult relationship be it love, work or friendship you have to accept 50% of the responsibility for that relationship.

Yes it may be that your partner is physically and emotionally abusive and he/she may be the ‘bad’ one in the relationship, but by staying in the abusive or controlling relationship and allowing your partner to continue the abuse you are just as responsible as they are for the state of your relationship. Both parties are equally responsible however for the victim it is very important that they realize that they have a choice. They can either allow the abuse to continue and blame the perpetrator for their awful life or they can  refuse to allow the abuse to continue and either leave or get help and thus accept responsibility for their life and their well being.

Whilst you can change who you are you can not change other people unless they accept your help and in order to do this they need to accept responsibility for where they are in their lives too.

Anger is another great excuse for people to play the blame game and I have come across many angry people in my life! (I too have given in to anger but at least I can see who is to blame!). Anger masks another emotion, usually fear, and  is used as a defense mechanism to protect against emotional hurt and in some cases too, to avoid the individual acknowledging that they are unhappy in their lives. How many times do you hear people blame others for losing control? ‘It’s your fault that I am angry!’ they shout but is it the other persons fault that you lost control? Absolutely not!

We control how we feel and if we chose to let someone upset us then we are to ‘blame’. We can either ignore hurtful words or respond to them angrily, either way it is our choice how we react. We can stay in control or we can let the other person take control by responding negatively.

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, negativity, worry – then take responsibility for how you are feeling today and tomorrow you can change your life by changing how you feel. Your thoughts make you who you are and only you (with some help if you require it) can change your thoughts. Stop blaming your mum or partner or siblings or work colleagues and take the initiative to take back responsibility and change your life. You will feel so much better! It may take time but believe you me, it is well worth it!