Archives for good habits

The Low Down on Willpower: Why It’s Often Not Enough and How to Compensate

BEAT THE DIETER S DILEMMA WHAT TO DO WHEN WILLPOWER FAILS TEXT WORD CLOUD CONCEPT by aihumnoi on Shutterstock

Here’s what we know about it: It’s limited, but with the right motivation and the right conditions, it can be THE thing that helps you create the change you want in your life.

But what if… you didn’t get enough sleep one day? What if something stressful happens in your life? (That’s inevitable.) What if your blood sugar is low one day?

The right conditions for willpower can be very tricky to control all the time.

Gretchen Rubin, aficionado of good habits and author of several great books on forming habits, has pointed out that forming one good habit tends to eventually create a ripple effect of other good habits. One of the reasons is because willpower is like a muscle, and if you exercise it regularly, it gets stronger over time. Another reason is because our brains release dopamine when things feel good. When change feels good, we crave more of it.

However, using willpower can consume so much mental energy that we become less effective at work, in our workouts, or at solving problems. Have you ever noticed when starting a new diet that you feel more exhausted or less competent? As I already stated, you can gradually build up a larger and larger reserve of willpower, but you have to overcome those conditions on a very regular basis.

Another great point by Gretchen Rubin is that forming a new habit is so consuming because you have to constantly consciously make the decision to NOT engage in the bad habit and TO engage in the good habit until the new habit becomes automatic and you no longer have to even think about it.

My biggest frustrations as a coach were when my clients simply would not do what I was advising them to do. In my early years, this took a toll on my relationship with them, as I would grow very frustrated. By digging deep into the everyday individual challenges of engaging in a new activity with integrity from my own perspective and getting some coaching in emotional intelligence, I developed a greater sense of empathy and compassion. As much as my clients appreciated my patience, compassion, and validation of their feelings, it kept them comfortable in their challenges instead of moving them past them.

In my quest to be the most effective force for personal transformation I can be, I was left with a couple of nagging questions:

  • If our conscious efforts can so easily be sabotaged and have such a cost, what can we do to get our subconscious to be on board quicker so that new habits become automatic?
  • If being tough and no-nonsense doesn’t inspire change in my clients, and being too compassionate doesn’t inspire my clients to change, and I know that they want change, what is the right balance to use and the right tools to use that will help them love themselves through the change and create a safe space for them to transform?

As a leader, have you ever asked yourself these questions? The drive of a leader is to oversee the development and transformation of others into leaders. I have to imagine that all leaders have discovered the same strengths and shortcomings of tough love and compassion. Finding the balance takes trial and error and experience. Even with the wisdom of experience, we have to be able to apply that wisdom when conditions, like lack of sleep, low blood sugar, stress, are present.

For the answers, I turned to science: neuroscience and psychology. What they have discovered in the past 10 years negates much of what we knew prior and a lot of what I learned in college, but some fundamentals remain. Planting roots for good habits is still very much based on the cognitive learning methods of positive and negative conditioning, but we are finding that negative conditioning has some detrimental side effects that contribute to mental health declines, even though it appears to be more effective in the short-term. This is why positive psychology branched out as a practice in 1998. Public perception of this practice has held it back, as people believe that positive psychology is merely about “thinking positive,” which many struggles to do with much regularity. Much the same way, the media/Hollywood and a few mal-intended practitioners of NLP (like hypnosis, but using regular conversation to induce trance) have given hypnosis a very bad reputation.

Take the highly-nominated Academy Award film Get Out. Ugh. It’s a shame that people will not seek out a solution with such potential to change their lives for the better because they believe this portrayal of hypnosis as some malevolent form of mind control. I have already had people claim that hypnosis is “too invasive.” If you watched this film, I couldn’t blame you for getting that impression, but you must realize that this was a movie created by the imagination of Jordan Peele. You might also get the impression from watching this film that white people are wackos, or that Peel thinks so. You might not know that Peele is half white himself.

The truth is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it’s a way to get you into rapport with your subconscious mind, and if I were to give you suggestion under trance that was out of alignment with your values and morals, you would come out of trance. The other truth is that I am not using hypnosis to impose my will on you. I was trained to make sure that the ecology and well-being of the client come first, and your words are the most effective words I can use, so before a session, I am capturing how you feel, words you use and what you want most for your life post-session.

I had to clear up my kids’ perception of hypnosis, as they have seen cartoons where characters bark like a dog. I did see a hypnosis show in which fellow college classmates did some crazy things, but those were the same people who would be seen doing crazy things without the influence of hypnosis, and perhaps under the influence of something else that would lower inhibitions. I noticed that the hypnotist sent some people back to their seats. These were the people who would not have wanted to do something crazy.

Psychology was my career of choice as a high school Junior. But someone had said to me that people become psychologists because they’re crazy themselves. This turned me off to that career path. I don’t regret my communications concentration – it had a lot of cross-over and I certainly use it heavily as a coach. However, I know enough now to feel certain about the contribution that I can make with hypnosis, and I’m not going to let the perceptions of a practice discourage me from promoting it and using it.

You may decide that it’s still too mysterious, or that you want to build up your own willpower muscle. I believe that it’s an admirable endeavor, especially if you can afford the time it takes to do that.

If, however, you can’t afford to take a lot of time, or the pace at which you need change has to keep up with the pace of business, technology, life, etc. consider hypnosis as a safe, natural alternative to a fallible, limited reserve of willpower.

 

Schedule your individual session here: https://calendly.com/epiccareering

For corporate change initiatives, including leadership transformations, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com to schedule a consultation.

Ben Harper – The Will to Live

The Will to Live (1997)

Making 2018 Better Than 2017

Part 4 of 4

Destinations by Bruce Fingerhood on Flickr

2018 is finally here. If the holidays hardly felt like reflective down time, then the resolution that best serves you as a top priority is to make time (not “find” it) to get clear about what you want this year, what it will take to get it, and how you are going to make it happen.

Think of 2018 as an adventure you are about to navigate. Figure out the destinations first. (You can always add stops along the way.) Consider carefully why these destinations appeal to you. Research them thoroughly. Understand the potential challenges and highlights. Learn what there is to learn.

If you were physically going to go somewhere, you would probably try to understand the culture of that place, for instance, how to say basic things in the native language or what that culture considers polite and impolite, or even illegal. You would check yelp and other rating sites, and read some blogs on these places. You would make sure you knew if there were areas you should avoid or landmarks you need to include.

The first step is getting clear. Then, it’s making a habit of consistently carving out time, no matter how little, to plan out your micro-movements and taking action.

  1. Emotional Life

One of my teachers has said that if you master this area of your life, you master life. When I thought about that, moments came to mind in which I did not respond thoughtfully to people, but instead reacted out of emotion, and it’s those moments that weigh heavily on me. They suck my energy and cause me to spend time in guilt instead of positive action or creation. This has negatively impacted my health and relationships.

I have heard many teachers say that most of the time we are making decisions from the emotional mind of the 8-year-old version of ourselves, UNLESS we intentionally develop the higher-thinking parts of our mind and create new automatic responses through diligence and practice, just as though your emotions are muscles.

As with most areas of improvement, it starts with awareness. A big, big part of accelerating development in this area, I have learned and continue to practice, is forgiveness. It is so powerful! It’s not just forgiveness of others (even when they are not sorry), but even more importantly for yourself. The worse you make yourself feel, the more you inhibit your emotional development. It’s okay to have negative emotions. Honor them; they are a part of you, and a part of the human experience. The goal is to spend less and less time in a state of upset and be able to gradually improve at being responsive instead of reactive.

These were my emotional goals, anyway. You may have different ones.

Make a list of the positive emotions you want more of and the negative emotions you want less of, leaving several spaces in between for the things in your life that induce those emotions. This makes it easy to understand what to add to your life (or add more of) and what to avoid whenever possible.

Meditating is a practice that can help you remain in a state of calm more often, and further assist you in using the higher parts of your brain for stress stimuli instead of limiting your responses to those of your 8-year-old self.

  1. Spiritual Life

Most people I know do believe that there is more to this world than just matter. However, I do have agnostics and atheists in my life. I accept that not everyone acknowledges a spiritual component to life. If this is you, I encourage you to dedicate this category to evaluating meaning in your life. Both, spirituality and meaning in life, have been proven to benefit outlook, health, longevity and stave off depression.

Otherwise, you do not have to practice any particular religion or even be clear about what you believe in order to make your spiritual life a bigger influence to the rest of your life.

The most significant transformations that I have seen in my clients was when we had built enough rapport to delve into this area of their lives. It has been the most satisfying part of coaching in the past year, as I developed greater courage to address this area with some clients.

In one such instance, it was the simple acknowledgement that this client once was able to feel the unconditional love of God that he had forgotten with all of the other pressures of life. Once he started remembering and allowing, his striving and stress were relieved. Even his physical symptoms diminished. He made completely different decisions about his career. He landed happily where he never would have expected to land. He achieved a peace of mind he hadn’t had since he was a child.

This didn’t take a lot of time, as it was more about letting go.  We tend to pack on layers of protection to guard our most vulnerable parts. In doing so, we create blockages to the flow of giving and receiving.

My challenge to you is to take 30 seconds every day to tune into feelings of gratitude for what is good in your life and to allow yourself to feel love that is not earned by doing or having, just being.

As a level-up challenge, start to affirm that there are forces conspiring to help you, and that you are powerful.

To go even further, you can develop practices, such as Xi Gong, that help you increase your fortitude, which will make problems seem small in the face of your power.

FUN FACT:  scientists are half as likely as the general population to believe in a higher power, while doctors are more likely than the general population to believe in a higher power.

  1. Your Life Vision

Yes, this is kind of like the culmination of all of the categories that we have discussed over the past 4 weeks, but it is also how you re-inspire yourself to maintain good habits, which is necessary for positive momentum toward any of the goals you set.

The practice of imagining the ideal is called visualization. It is scientifically linked to achievement of goals because of its impact on motivation.

The best times to do this are when you first wake up and as you go to sleep. One reason might be obvious – a better start to the day and a better night’s rest. But the other reason is that brain waves are optimal for subconscious learning during these times.

Essentially, you will develop a better outlook on your life, which will make taking action a common sense thing to do.

Which of the 12 areas covered in the last 4 weeks feel the hardest to master?

Which do you want to dive into first, and which one do you want to avoid?

 

Bring on everything you want in 2018!

India Arie – There’s Hope (Video Clip)

Video Cip da música There’s Hope, do álbum Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship 2006. Site Oficial: www.indiaarie.com