This week I’m going to keep it short as I’m busy preparing for the NLP Conference which starts on Friday. Thinking about the Conference and looking at the programme reminded me of the value of learning as a way to boost your self-esteem.
This makes learning another form of self-care. This is boosted further when you learn with others. The social element creates a positive affect and a sense of belonging. When the learning is a little challenging you also get the additional benefit of feelings of accomplishment and success.
We recently completed an NLP Practitioner Training spread over several months. The students really bonded and supported each other. On the evaluation days some of the students felt anxious. After the results were announced the feelings of success were even greater.
Have you ever had that experience?
Take a moment to review what learning opportunities you have given yourself recently.
You could choose to learn a new hobby, learn a language or learn a practical skill. What about starting some academic studies? You could even start a journey of self-discovery such as NLP Practitioner or beyond.
Some of our new students recorded some reflections on their experience. Click the link to find out more.
Next week I’ll be at the NLP Conference so will get back to you the week after.
Although this series is about self-carethere is an inter-personalaspect to your well-being that I would like to highlight to you this week.
I wonder, have you considered how much the people you spend time with have an impact on your well-being and your ability to stay resilient?
The relationships you engage in regularly will have a direct influence on your energy levelsand your general sense of self. This may not surprise you and yet have you ever stopped to check.
Are the people you spend the most time with:
Critical of you and your life.
An emotional drain.
Needy and demanding.
Easily offended and reactionary.
Aggressive either to you or in your company to others.
Have a negative mindset.
If you answered “yes” to even one or two of the characteristics above the chances are you will feel drained and unhappy after spending time with such people.
So perhaps it is time to change who you spend time with!
I wonder how many of you feel uncomfortable about this suggestion? If you do it will be because you have a value that feels ignored. Maybe loyalty is important to you or kindness. It may be some other value of a similar nature.
I can understand that reaction and yet for your own health it is worth thinking about how much time you spend with people who sap your energy.
Have you applied the above list to yourself, do those characteristic also apply to you? Or maybe they used to. Either way, if you are now committed to self-care practiceI recommend you begin widening your circle of friends to include people who:
Laugh and smile a lot.
Are kind and encouraging.
Motivate you and others.
Demonstrate that they care about you
Are good at turning conflict into conversation
Have a growth mindset.
Lift your spirits.
Begin by adopting the above behaviours yourself so that you are the kind of person others want to spend time with in order to feel good. Secondly, begin connecting with people who lift your spirits.
You may need to do your homework to find out where these people can be found. May be joining a class or hobby group, maybe going to networking events or social gatherings. In all of these places you will find people who fit both the lists above so be selective.
One of the easiest ways to start building your new positive network is to sign up to a personal development course such as NLP Practitioner. You are likely to find other people looking for the same thing plus others who already have a genuine positive attitude to life.
As you build your new positive supportive network you may find that some of your old friends will welcome the change in you and begin their own journeys of transformation. There may be others you choose to limit your time with or gently let go of.
Remember you have choice and you deserve happiness, well-beingand resilience. You can only be responsible for yourself. Become that person that lifts the spirits of others, I know you can do it.
This week someone asked me to explain the benefits of NLP to them and I realised this is something I’ve not written about recently. It made sense to me to give you a little background into my personal angle on this.
Several years ago I studied for an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and for my dissertation I decided to research the benefits of NLP. In my study I was interested to find out if there was any evidence to support my hypotheses, paraphrased here as:
“NLP can be used to improve self-esteem and well-being”
As part of my study Joe and I facilitated a one day workshop with over sixty participants and a dozen of our NLP Master Practitioner Graduates assisting with the group work. During the day Joe and I taught some principles of NLP and guided the group through three NLP change work processes.
I collected data from already existing psychology questionnaires that measured self-esteemand well-being. The measures were taken before the workshop, at the end of the day and six weeks later. There was also another group of a similar size who did not take part in the workshop who acted as a control group. I measured their self-esteem and well-being during the same time frame (they got to do the workshop after the study had been completed).
The results were very pleasing demonstrating statistically significant evidence that NLP does improve self-esteem and well-being. I was not really surprised as I have been using these techniques myself in self-care, in my private practice with clients and teaching to my students for years. Time and time again I see people having excellent results.
When I work with people in my private practice I often encourage them to consider taking NLP Practitioner training as part of their journey. By taking the training my clients are learning how to self-coach when issues come up, they often experience a transformation in their mindset and report feeling greater control in their lives.
Here is a comment from a recent student about a particular technique and NLP in general:
“In all the years of therapy etc I’ve never noticed a shift like this, so it’s a fantastic technique and I really want to be able to use this and my NLP skills to be able to help others who have been through similar experiences to me. Just wanted to share that with you and thank you for all your help.”
If you want to find out more about my research you will find lots of information on the website including my full dissertation and the journal article published later. I also have a free audio download recorded at the research workshop that includes two of the processes covered. Here is the link:
As I may mentioned in an earlier blog I have reached the short list for the Research Award at the NLP Awardsin May. This event is being hosted at the NLP Conferencewhere we will also have a trade stand.
For those of you ready to start your NLP journey you can join us for our NLP Taster Day: NLP101. We have a token charge of just £24.95 for the day which is also day one of the fully ANLP Accredited Practitioner.
For full details of our next NLP Practitioner Training or to book onto a taster day contact me direct via Contact Us.
Last week I promised to give you some ideas for dealing with issues that scored lower than 5 on your list of things you have control over. I’m using the Environmental Crisis as an example for two reasons, firstly it may well be on your list and secondly, it is on mine.
It the last couple of years, unless you have been living in a cave with no human contact you will have seen or read news stories about how time is running out to reverse the damage we (as a species) have done to the planet. You are probably like me and are not in a position to directly make the changes needed to make a difference globally, (such as moving fully away from fossil fuels and replacing our energy sources with renewable options).
So how do we process our inability to control global issues and retain our mental health and well-being?
The first step is to answer a different question first:
“how is this issue impacting on me right now?”
A common answer to the question about the environmental crisis might be:
“I am worrying about the future”
The specifics that you may be worrying about will vary from person to person. For example, you may be worrying about the future your children will inherit.
Although the specific detail of your personal worry will be unique to you the state of “worry” or “fear” will be the same. So, you may need to begin by managing your feelings.
You can transform worry and fear into motivation by asking yourself:
“what can I do right now that will allow me to make a difference?”
You could make a list and start ticking things off as you complete them. We can all make small changes and you may already have started to do that. So, what do you do if the fear and worry is not going away?Although we can feel good about making small changes do you still feel out of control?
The trick is to turn fear and worry into motivation. Start by acknowledging your emotions and recognising they have a value. Fear and worry are emotions designed to keep you on alert for danger. If you allow these feelings to overwhelm you there is a risk you will move from fight or flight to the state of freeze. Acknowledging and expressing emotions will help prevent this shift.
Acknowledging emotion also allows fear to transform to motivation.Beyond the small changes, there will be more action you can take that will require more effort or more commitment. Make a list of what else you can do to influence change and then take a step back to reflect.
Be honest with yourself, what are the actions you are willing to take that also align with your values? What are the actions that for you feel outside of your personal scope? Acknowledge and accept what you are not ready to address or what still feels outside your control.
Now take action and notice how much better you are feeling.
With the example of the Environmental Crisis there are many things you can do beyond personal changes to the way you live. Here are a couple of things I’ve done in the last few days.
Spoken to my dentist about the lack of environmentally friendly products on sale.
I then asked advice from others about what is available. It turns out there are lots of products available. I am now in the process of bringing this information to my dentist’s attention.
I also spoke to my local supermarket about the lack of environmentally friendly dental products in the shop. I am willing to go searching for these products however I know that if they are available in a convenient way more people will buy them. Hence, I am doing my best to influence my local supermarket. I’ll follow up if nothing happens.
I am doing my best to share content on social media to help raise awareness.
Writing blogs and posts about my feelings, beliefs and values.
I’ve become an organisational member of Sussex Wildlife Trusts and a member of WWF. With SWT I’m also doing some pro bono work.
I became a vegetarian a few months ago.
I have written to my MP to ask what she is doing to champion this issue.
Now I don’t share this list to show off. Indeed, some will read my list and think I’m not doing very much. There may be things I will choose to do over the coming months. For example, right now I do not feel moved to join the protesters in London. That may or may not change.
The point of this blog is to show you how to find a sense of control over things that bigger than your direct sphere of influence. By finding ways to influence the issue where it intersects with your life will give you a sense of control. The greater your sense of control the less worry and fear you will experience.
What are you doing to take back control in your life.
Your perceived sense of control over your life and what happens to you will have a significant impact on how stressed and uptight you are. We seldom worry about things we think we can control, we just take action.
If you don’t believe me write down a list of things that worry you and check how much control you have over each item. Give it a score out of 10 where zero is not control and 10 is one hundred percent within your control.
I wonder how many of you have noticed you feel an increased sense of controlabout the issues you have written down? Writing your worries down may have alreadyshifted the level of control you feel right away.
For each item you now feel you have controlover decide what you are going to do to resolve the issue. You may have some nice easy fixes. Other items may now have expanded creating unexpected new worries.
For example, you may have a worry about telling a relative that you would prefer them not to keep popping in unannounced. Speaking to them is one hundred percent within your control. Now that you have acknowledged this you may have now discovered something different to worry about!
Perhaps you now realise the real issue is how your relative may react. So the next step is to ask yourself a very important question.
“How is that a problem for you?”
The answer will be personal to you. Here are some common fears for this type of issue:
upsetting the other person.
the person becoming angry.
the relationship might be damaged.
Being seen as uncaring or selfish.
Losing control of your own emotions.
Not being heard.
All of these fears (and others I’ve not mentioned) are valid and at the same time about something that hasn’t actually happened. You are worrying about an imagined outcome, even so, this is important data. Own your fears and use this informationto help you work out the most effective way to gain an outcome that works for you on all levels.
From an NLP framework the fears indicate ‘positive intentions’that need to be acknowledged and included in whatever action you decide to take. They are also indicators of the wider ‘ecology’of the proposed actions.
You will notice that as you drill down on a ‘worry’ you are moving it further and further to within your control. You might realise that you need to do some research or get some coaching to develop the necessary skills to communicate your message. This is still putting you back in control. Often you will realise you already have what you need to take action effectively.
The more control you perceive you have, the easier it will be for you to relax and enjoy life. The more you are controlling your own reality.
Start working out plans for those things on your list that score five or above. Notice how much you now feel in control and how the worry and stress has lessened.
If you have issues that score below five I will have some ideas that may help you next week. Please do remember if you are struggling with major issues to reach out for supporteither in your own social network or to an appropriate professional. There will be someone who can help you.
Managing stress is a key skill in self-care, how well are you doing managing your own levels of stress?
When I first started out as a corporate trainer I would often be asked to run “Stress Management” Courses. These days the same course is often re-branded as “Well-being” Training.
Whatever the title you still need to be able to handle stress. Over the next couple of weeks I will share a few ideas with you on managing stress so you can add some tools to your tool kit.
Before doing so I want to spend a few minutes defining stress. Firstly, stress is something you need in your life to some extent. Have you heard of the little used word, “eustress”? Eustress means positive stress.
Eustress is what provides you with the motivation to get up and do things. Without it nothing much would get done. Here are some definitions that can be applied to stress in general:
Your life-force. It is dynamic energy. It is stimulating and motivating.
Not a bad thing in itself. It is mismanagement of stress that can be harmful.
The result of unlabelled emotions. The rational mind needs to label things.
A reaction to a situation and not the situation itself.
A motivator. Without it there would be no change.
The basis for the Fight/Flight reaction.
Fuelled by such things as uncertainty, change, helplessness, conflict, pressure.
Dependant on inner and outer influences.
Caused and experienced in different ways by different people.
More likely to occur in people who are ambitious, driven, sensitive or anxious.
Negative stress is the point where eustress tips over into feelings of not being able to cope.This feeling of not being able to cope is based on how much perceived pressure you are experiencing versus your perceived ability to cope.
The essential word here is “perceived” on both counts. The first step in handling negative stress is to reality check the actual level of stressors in your life and challenge your level of control.
Start today by listing those things in your life that are causing you worry or stress. Now ask yourself how much control do you have with each?
If it is within your control, what changes can you make?
If it is something you can influence, who and how do you need to influence?
If it is genuinely outside of your control how do you need to adapt or what do you need to do to gain some acceptance?
Next week we will dig a little deeper into this model and begin building some strategies to increase your ability to cope and then thrive. Thriving is the pathway to well-being and it run right through stress and out the other side.
If you are interested in deepening your own self-awareness I am running a workshop this month called “Transactional Analysis for Coaches”. This workshop provides some useful insights that can also help you manage your life better. Follow the link for details.
Last night was Earth Hour. The idea is that you switch off your lights from 8.30pm and 9.30pm as a sign that you are supporting taking care of our planet. The idea has been around for about 10 years and started in Australia.
We took part in Earth Hour switching off our lights plus as many other electrical appliances as we could. For Joe and I caring for our planet is the ultimate in self-care. After all if we don’t take care of our home our other self-care efforts will be for nothing.
I am increasingly speaking with people who worry about the future, and I worry too. Today I invite you to take a step back if you too are worrying.
Worry has a value in that it motivates us to take notice of dangers in our life and environment. It is the cognitive version of the flight and fight response and if unchecked it can develop into generalised anxiety. This can lead to an unhealthy form of paralysis and stress.
So what can you do to stay socially responsible without losing yourself in anxiety, worry and stress?
Draw up a list of actions you personally can take to make a difference and start taking action from this list. There are many small and easily taken changes you can make to how you live in the world. Start there.
Review the list and take more action. Every time you take action to make a difference, take some time to appreciate your contribution.
As a general approach to worry here is a process to begin taking back control:
Acknowledge what you are worried about and write it down.
Reality check what you are worrying about (and if necessary get a second opinion).
List actions you can take to address the worry.
Acknowledge that you are taking action and give yourself credit.
Schedule time to review your progress and add additional actions if necessary.
In between taking action and scheduled review time put the worry in a box and close the lid.
If you are experiencing extreme worry or anxiety I recommend you seek support from an appropriate professional. There is an old cliché that a worry shared is a worry halved and there is some truth to that.
To return to my original thought stream about Earth Hour. Taking an action and interest in the state of our planet is good for you on a values and spiritual level. This form of self-care needs to be balanced with allowing yourself to also take time out to breathe and enjoy the here and now.
I make a point of spending some time in nature every day. This re-charges me so that I can give some energy to taking social responsibility for my impact on our environment and the planet.
In an earlier blog I told you I had started a 40 day self-care challengefor myself. The challenge was to cut out sugary foods such as chocolate, biscuits and cake. I also cut out alcohol.
My motivation was for general health benefitsincluding weight lossand reducing inflammation.
On the surface I have been successful in this challenge. I have found it easy to avoid the foods I chose to cut out. However I noticed something strange. I have gained about four pounds in weight.
At first this didn’t make sense. Then I reflected on how my eating habits have changed over the last few weeks.
I have cut out the specific sources of sugar but then quite unconsciously I have increased my carbohydrate intake. You probably already know that in the body carbohydrates are broken down into sugar.
How had this happened?
I have a theory, based on my training and experience. I believe that food issues are rarely just about food.In some way sugar has a place in my psychological and emotional strategies. This form of unconscious sabotage needs to be viewed as useful data. It provides us with information that will ultimately help us.
My suspicion is that this is rooted in some personal work that I have already cleared and that this experience is an indicator that there is some more to do. I am also aware of some stress in my life right now that may also be having an impact.
I have decided to use some specific tools that I find really useful as a way of exploring and clearing what this change in eating has triggered.
I am going to use two techniques developed by Connirae Andreas,the Core Transformation Process and Wholeness Work. I’ll let you know how I get on later in this series.
For me listening to your bodyin this way is another way of practicing self-care. Listen to your body, listen to your responses and notice what you learn.
Do let me know what discoveries you make about yourself as you deepen your self-care practice.
Does it hold you back and prevent you from enjoying life fully or maybe stop you trying new things?
Transforming your inner Critic using NLP
A couple of weeks ago I first wrote about your inner critic and how it can sometimes undermine your self-care. This week I am going to share with you some tips that will enable you to make some changes that will really help you transform that voice.
So, firstly a re-cap, your inner critic is a partof you that is trying to help you. It’s job is likely about wanting to keep you safe or help you avoid something such as embarrassment or rejection. It has a positive intention and this intention may be out of date.
The suggestions I am about to make will reduce the power of the voice or change it in a way that makes it easier to feel okay about.
You may still need to do some more formal inner work if the inner critic is connected to unresolved issues. If this is the case the changes I am about to suggest may only last for a short time or not at all.
When you clear the underlying issue the inner critic will either naturally transform or will be open to the changes below.
Here are the tips.
Thank your inner critic for it’s input, help and advice.
Listen to the words and evaluate, is there genuinely something to pay attention to here or are the words just a sign of anxiety.
Experiment with changing your inner critic’s tone. It is your brain, your inner voice so this is easy to do. See what happens if you change the voice into something you can no longer take seriously. For example make it sound like Micky Mouse or Scooby Do. Alternatively soften the tone, make it sound like a kindly advisor delivering the advice in a soft, non-judgemental way.
Notice the location of your inner critic, what happens if you switch the location? Sometimes this on its own makes a big difference. For example, if your inner critic sounds like it is on the right, near the back of your head move it to the left and further forward. Sometimes you may need to do this change before step 3.
These small tips have made a difference to many of my clients however if you try them and they do not work for you I suggest you seek out an experienced NLP Practitioner who can help you using one of the following techniques, parts work, six step reframe, re-imprint, Core Transformation or the Wholeness Process.
Where possible choose someone who was recommended to you by someone you know and trust. You can also check to see if the person is a member of ANLP our NLP Professional body and also ask what level of training they have.
Please be aware that NLP Training does vary with some people attending very short courses. Be wary of working with anyone who has only had online training.
What if instead of giving up you were giving yourself better self-care instead?
I know promised you some more tips on managing your inner critic and I hope you will forgive me for putting it off for one more week. I have a good reason.
I was reflecting on all the people who were posting about “giving things up for Lent”. I am not religious however I do consider myself Spiritual and I wondered about harnessing this idea for self-care.
I made a decision to explore what it feels like to embrace 40 days of reflection and sacrifice. The word sacrifice felt harsh to me so I reframed this as self-compassion with the idea that it will increase my ability to have compassion for others.
I will be giving something up as part of that process. I have decided to give up sugary sweets, biscuits and chocolate plus alcohol which I currently only take occasionally.
I suspect my need for sugar is really an indicator of some unresolved issues, some of which are outside my awareness.
From an NLP perspective, I hold the view that my unhealthy drives around sugar do have a positive intention. They are likely trying to help or protect me in some way.
I have some ideas as to what that might be and there may be some I have yet to consider. It is also possible that the positive intention is now out of date and the part of me that is running the drive did not realise.
I plan to replace sugar with self-care and self-compassion.
The phrase “giving something up”can be a block to lasting change so I am reframed this too. Instead of giving something up I will notice what emerges from my change in behaviour and take steps clear what needs clearing, acknowledge what needs acknowledging and release what needs releasing.
I am using a number of approaches including NLP, The Wholeness Process, Core Transformations and Journalling.
Having begun this journey it then occurred to me that a shared journey can be a very supportive thing so I set up a group on Facebook in order to invite others to join me.
I extend this invitation to you now. Would you like to join me on this journey of self-care and self-compassion?
Below is my original post. The name of the group is “Self-care for 40 days and beyond”and you are welcome to ask to join the group. I will be continuing to write my blogs on self-care here and you can post comments about your own journey or questions here on this blog.
“I do not follow any form of organised religion however I do consider myself Spiritual. I believe in a connection between us all and that we have the ability to share compassion.
I have been considering the Christian tradition of Lent. I have made a decision to explore what it feels like to embrace 40 days of reflection and sacrifice. The word sacrifice feels harsh to me so I plan to reframe this as self-compassion with the idea that it will increase my ability to have compassion for others.
I will be giving something up as part of that process. I have decided to give up sugary sweets, biscuits and chocolate plus alcohol which I currently only take occasionally. I suspect my need for sugar is really an indicator of some unresolved issues, some of which are outside my awareness. I plan to replace sugar with self-care and self-compassion. I will notice what emerges and take steps clear what needs clearing, acknowledge what needs acknowledging and release what needs releasing.
I will need love and support so if you feel moved to, please comment on my daily posts.
If you wish to join me on your own journey of self-discovery please do leave me comments in what I plan to make a daily sharing for the next 40 days.
Please feel free to share this post if you think it will help others.”