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“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” Mark Twain

April is National Humor Month and so that got me to thinking about laughter. Perhaps you’ve heard the famous quote from the poem Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you”. It turns out there is scientific evidence to prove that true! Apparently, just like a yawn, laughter is contagious. According to a 2006 study at the University College of London the brain responds to the sound of laughter and preps the muscles in the face to join in the mirth.

It is a fact that laughter itself changes us physiologically. Like exercise, it boosts the heart rate and increases blood flow, so we breathe faster and more oxygen is delivered to the body’s tissues. Our facial muscles stretch. Research published in the International Journal of Obesity found just 15 minutes of laughter a day will burn 10-40 calories, depending on a person’s weight and the intensity of the laughter. That is enough to lose between 1–4 lbs a year. Furthermore, the mere act of smiling can alter your mood almost immediately. You can’t feel sad or angry when you’re laughing, right?

The benefits of laughter

  • Reduces Stress: When stressed, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter can significantly reduce cortisol levels.
  • Helps Reduce Pain: Laughter causes us to produce endorphins, which are natural, pain-killing hormones.
  • Strengthens the Immune System: A hearty laugh decreases stress hormones and increases production of T-cells, immune proteins and infection-fighting antibodies.
  • Helps the Heart: When we laugh we increase blood flow and the function of blood vessels, which can help prevent cardiovascular problems.
  • Relaxes the Whole Body: One good belly laugh can relieve physical tension and relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes.
  • Helps You Recharge: By reducing stress levels and increasing your energy, laughter can help you focus and achieve more.
  • Improves Aging: Sharing laughs with others is related to higher self-esteem, lower levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress, and a more positive self-concept.

 

With all this good news, it just doesn’t seem right that we laugh less as we age. Young children are recorded laughing around 400 times a day. Adults are lucky to laugh 10 times a day! This helped create a mission for me. I challenged my husband to join me in attempting to laugh 400 times in one day. Quite honestly, after a while we lost count of the laughs. I posted on Facebook that we doing this and received jokes from friends. We found ourselves making humorous remarks about our day as it progressed. The more we did laugh, the more there seemed to be reasons to laugh.

Maybe it is my imagination, but somehow all that laughter made traffic lighter, in spite of the fact that this is Spring Break time in Florida! When the challenge was over, the laughter lingered. I did notice us becoming less tolerant of people and situations, so back to laughing we went. When stress tried to interfere with my mood, I forced a laugh. It seemed silly, so then a real laugh followed. Suddenly the stress was gone and I could deal with a particular situation clear headed.

I offer you the same challenge. Look around, what is funny? Do you have a good joke to share? Let your inner child out and have a few laughs. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Notice if your muscles seem a bit more relaxed. Let the healing power of laughter be the gift you give yourself and others, you’ll be glad you did!

Laughter For Weight Loss

I have a program called Laugh It Off! It is a weight management program I created to assist my clients get rid of fat and the inflammation it causes. I noticed that some of my clients start to giggle during the beginning of a trance. It is never offensive and always they go deep. So, I had to figure out a way to use it. Well, we now use it to lose it! There are laughter assignments between sessions and plenty to laugh about during. Funny thing (see what I did there) is that it works! So whether you knew it before or not, weight loss is a laughing matter.

Why are you eating that?  If you are supposed to be dieting to shed that ugly fat, why did you put the donut in your mouth? Why did you grab candy from the dish on your co-workers desk? You know it won’t help, but it seems you can’t help it either. Furthermore the co-worker with the candy is thin and never seems to eat her own candy.

The Battle Is Real

Guess what? You aren’t imagining it, the battle is real. It really is hard to diet and your body is fighting you! That’s right; you are a victim of your own brain and genetics and maybe even programming. Every dieter I work with knows how to cut out calories and increase exercise. They all know the formula to shedding ugly fat and maintaining a healthier body.

fats are enhanced

Our taste buds have been genetically engineered to crave high-calorie, high-fat foods because we used to need that for energy—hunting, gathering, exploring the continent, etc. Now we’ve created food that tastes even richer than nature’s, which makes kale a hard sell when compared to a loaded pizza.

The “naturally thin” individuals (NT’s) are blessed with a great genetics. NT’s metabolize at a higher rate furthermore, they aren’t tempted by the same treats a dieter is. If a person on a diet ate the same amount of food as the NT’s it would still be too much food to lose weight. While they fat shame the dieter they also believe the dieter is weak. They are wrong. When we are dieting, our awareness of food, particularly fatty foods is heightened.

Are You Stuck?

So, what can the poor dieter do? Let’s circle back to my original question, why are you eating that? When you catch yourself in the act of eating off diet, stop and ask yourself why? Is there an emotional component? Are you resentful that everyone else can eat the goodies at a party and you can’t? Are you eating for emotional reasons? Does your body need fuel?

Amnesia eating is often triggered when watching night time television and all the food related commercials. After a long hard day, we settle in to relax and reward ourselves. Often we have eaten dinner; still the habit of rewarding with food and the constant barrage of food commercials triggers us to find a snack. Due to fatigue, we eat the easiest choices, prepackaged goodies. Eating those foods triggers the reward center of the brain and we are lulled into a false sense of temporary comfort. In order to help change that habit, I encourage finding something active to do during commercials. Personally, I have a medicine ball and I work with it during commercials. I also enjoy a warm beverage when tempted to nibble.

Hypnosis To The Rescue!

Through hypnosis for weight loss we can level the playing field, that is, we can give you less desire for the foods that have become your nemesis. While I am not a fan of making a favorite food disgusting (because I believe a determined mind will find a way around that) it is possible to give you better control over what you choose to eat. Hypnosis can also be used to amp up the metabolism, more like that of an NT. The mind body connection is powerful and using it to your advantage is exactly what hypnosis is all about.

Hypnosis For Weight Loss

If you are struggling with your eating habits, put down the goodies and pick up your phone to call and ask me how I can help you achieve your weight goals!

worry

If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.
 – E. Joseph Cossman

The word worry descends from an old English word ‘wyrgan ‘ which meant to strangle.  If you have ever worried, that can seem appropriate as worrying will affect your breathing and sometimes leave that lump in your throat.

Worrying is a habit that many people develop and then hold on to as if it was a proud memento of their life. Chronic worrying has been called a ‘thought disorder’, but it’s more a misuse of the imagination. I have often teased my clients that they write better fiction than Stephen King, the problem is they believe their thoughts and there are consequences for that. The more we worry, the more stress hormone we produce and the more we dream at night. In turn, over-dreaming caused by unresolved worry can cause clinical depression (something else to worry about!).

A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. – John Lubbock

Often worriers believe that they “need” to worry in order to ward off bad things. Therefore they begin to worry about everything, all the time, even if there is no legitimate reason for it. I have had clients who believed that they prevented their vehicle from falling over a bridge because of their worry, nothing to do with the construction of said bridge or traffic flow, etc. Also, many who believe that it has nothing to do with physics or pilot training, but their worry that keeps their plane from crashing.

Hypnosis, like worry can use the imagination. The difference is, with hypnosis we are setting a goal for a positive outcome and imagine our success at doing just that. Many clients will imagine themselves smoke free in my office, to become smoke free. Others will imagine whatever they are worried about turns out okay.  (I have been known to ask my clients, “What if you are wrong and things turn out alright?”)

If you are a chronic worrier, here is a tool for you to use.

When writers like Mr. King write their scary stories, they distance themselves from the horror they are writing about. By removing any emotion from those thoughts they lose power. Therefore I will ask a client to first go as dark as possible. Imagine what they are worried about actually came true. What would that look like and feel like. Then we discuss how likely it is that the worst case scenario occurs.  Next, we will work on distancing themselves from the worry.  Notice I didn’t say stop worrying, which is possibly the worst advice ever! Instead we imagine putting the worrisome situation “over there”. We may place it in a container or just put it on a screen to observe. Then we agree that if they want they can worry again, tomorrow at a set time for a set amount of time. What they will find is that the need to worry diminishes.

Ultimately, worry should be a tool or a signal that lets us know when something might need addressing. We don’t want to lose this tool completely, but no tool should ever be allowed to enslave its owner. Try using your imagination for good, you just might like it.

hypnosis accesses memories

A former client reached out to me to stop smoking. Jenny (not her real name) had seen me several years before and was successful at stopping at that time. She loved being smoke free and didn’t miss it at all. Then one day, she reported pulling in to the parking lot of a convenience store and buying a pack. Without a thought, she lit up. Once again, Jenny was hooked.

When I asked Jenny what prompted her to take that action, she couldn’t tell me. She didn’t recall anything out of the ordinary, “it just happened”. So for 2 years she smoked and struggled with stopping, too embarrassed to call me. Finally, as Jenny put it, “I came to my senses. I know the only way for me to quit was to call you, fess up and use hypnosis for good!”

We had a great session and at the end she stated she knew she was smoke free. Still, something was not right. When I pressed her, Jenny admitted she was hoping to find out why she had started back up and she still didn’t know. I knew that in order for her to stay successful, this was important.

Back to trance we went

I told her that she could find the information written down on a pad that was locked in a box nearby. It was important that she unlock the box and read the information. It was not necessary to share what she discovered. I explained that her knowing was all that mattered, unless information came through that she felt I “needed” to know in order to help her better.

Jenny opened the box and read the pad. She said, “Oh my” and “aah” and even “I get it”. Then she told me she had put it all away and she was good. At that point I suggested she use any and all information for her best interests and she now had permission and “the right” to be smoke free forever. She was to relax until she felt she was 100% smoke free and could then return her awareness safely, comfortably and in her own manner.

After a few minutes, she opened her eyes and gave a huge grin. She then told me she knew this time, it was for good. One year later, she checked in with me to report all is still good. I will never know what was on that pad in the locked box, but I do know it was a valuable tool for Jenny.

Do you suffer from ANTS, you know, those Automatic Negative Thoughts? Somehow, by imagining the worst case scenario, we think we’re protecting ourselves from what we fear most. But guess what? It doesn’t work. Whatever tragedy you imagine might befall you, happens – no dress rehearsal will protect you from loss and pain. Plus, while imagining the worst, you’ve missed your chance for joy, radical presence, true bliss – and the health benefits that accompany peace.

Our nervous systems can’t tell the difference between practicing tragedy and the real thing. As far as your amygdala is concerned, whether your fears occur or it is imaginary, your “fight-or-flight” responses get triggered and your nervous system goes on red alert. Your stress responses flip on, your body is filled with cortisol and epinephrine, and your body reacts as if tragedy occurred.

Preventive medicine for Negative Thoughts

Fully experiencing joy is essential to living a long, happy, healthy life. Joy is “preventive medicine”. It has repeatedly been proven that it is our thoughts that make the difference in our health. Some studies show that happy people live up to 10 years longer than unhappy people.

In a book written by Byron Katie called Loving What Is, she lists four simple questions that can help chase those Automatic Negative Thoughts away. Those questions are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. What would you be without that thought?

By simply asking these questions you begin to understand just how many of our thoughts are simply not true! If our thoughts are going to have so much impact on our health and happiness, it is worth checking them out. So, first become aware of them and then step outside of them. In other words:

  • Stop
  • Take a breath
  • Observe your thoughts
  • Ask the four questions

Remind yourself that you have “been there and done that”. Those ANTS are old negative patterns that you now choose to eliminate. Then finally, when you begin to realize who and what you would be without those thoughts, practice gratitude. Experience the moment you are in, truly be in that moment. I wonder what you are grateful for today. I’d love if you shared your gratitude. Gratitude shared can only expand the hearts of both the giver and receiver.

Self-hypnosis to release Negative Thoughts

There are times however, it seems that no matter how you try to redirect your thoughts, they keep creeping back in. It is those times that it helps to use self-hypnosis. First, on paper write down the thoughts that are bothering you. Then find a quiet place to get comfortable. Take some wonderful deep refreshing breathes, close your eyes and relax your body. As you do, notice the sounds around you and then let them fade away. Ask yourself, “Why do my negative thoughts leave me now?” Then again take deep breathes and notice how your neck and head feel as you relax. Notice how your feet feel as they rest. This time you ask,  “Why do my thoughts relax so quickly?” Continue relaxing the body, notice the aromas around you. Ask yourself, “Why is peace so natural for me now?” Begin to count from 10 down to 1 and with each number repeat, “Peace, be still”.  You will find yourself recognizing how safe and at peace you are in the moment.

For additional assistance you can go to one of my free audios. Call for an appointment if you just can’t shake those ants! (727) 781-8483

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”  ~Thomas Dekker

sleepAre you one of those people who believe that sleep is a luxury? Are you lucky to get 3 – 4 hours of sleep a night if that? If so, you are not alone. In a recent email a friend wrote, “I am trying to not worry too much about my job and issues with my aging Mom, etc…. I need help with how to turn my brain off at night without having to resort to taking sleeping pills.” His lament is something I frequently hear from clients as well. They are busy all day long and once it is time to relax and get sleep, the mind starts to race.

I always advise anyone with sleep issues to first get checked by their doctor. Obviously there are physical conditions that might be causing sleep issues and that needs to be addressed.  Once we are sure it is the night time worries, it is time to learn some behaviors that will help sweet sleep return.  It is known that caffeine is a stimulant, but so too is tobacco. While alcohol may help one fall asleep, once it wears off then wakefulness sets in. So while giving these items up is the best option, at the very least one should avoid them before bed.

Keeping up with exercise is recommended for good sleep and for better mental health! Just 20 minutes a day improves not only the heart, but the brain according to Dr. Daniel Amen, a medical doctor and psychiatrist who authored many books on the brain, including Change Your Brain Change Your Life and Use Your Brain To Change Your Age.  There are numerous studies that back up the wonderful connection between exercise and a good night’s sleep.

But, what if your issue is really the late night antics of the mind?

Once everything is still for the night, your mind goes into hyper-drive. Suddenly you review the day and it seems as if everything you did was wrong! Tomorrow looks to be even worse and the sky is surely falling. Well, now it is time to take back your mind and get some sleep.

First of all, remember to reframe and refocus. Notice the dialogue in your head and challenge it. Are you really going to end up homeless because you didn’t refill the coffee pot in the break room? Do you have nothing else, no other resources that make you essential to the job you are doing? Sometimes we just need to notice how ridiculous our thoughts are.

If you are concerned with a list of tasks and events you want to be sure to accomplish, write them down on a list before bed. Keep a pad next to the bed in case you absolutely need to add anything to the list. Just taking a thought and putting it on paper allows the mind to begin to settle down.

The 5 – 1 Count

If you do a 5 -1 count it helps. Find 5 parts of your body that are comfortable. Notice how does each part feel?  Recall 4 memories of the day that you feel gratitude for.  What are 3 things you can remember seeing before the lights went out that caused you to smile? Can you feel the smile again? Check for 2 scents you smell in bed. Are they familiar? Are they sweet, pungent, or something else?   Finally, listen for 1 sound that you hear that is soothing, what might it be? Is it the sound of your own breath even?

Then, if still awake focus on your breath, inhaling 7 deep breathes for each chakra as you visualize the color of the chakra as a mist that surrounds you.  For those who are not familiar with chakras, they are centers of energy, located on the midline of the body. There are seven of them, and they govern our psychological properties. The chakras located on the lower part of our body are our instinctual side, the highest ones our mental side. Each chakra has a related color and they are:

  1. Root Chakra is red, representing our basic needs
  2. Sacral Chakra is orange, representing our sensual side
  3. Solar Plexus is yellow, representing our personal power
  4. Heart Chakra is green, representing our love and compassion
  5. Throat Chakra is blue, representing our self-expression and communication
  6. Brow Chakra is indigo, representing our intuition and dreams
  7. Crown Chakra is violet, representing our connection to the Universe and our spirituality

If you imagine breathing in each color and at the same time imagine healing the area of your life that it represents, you will likely find yourself drifting off to a pleasant dream state.

Hypnosis for Sleep

Your brain is an expert at having insomnia.It doesn’t know how to do it differently,otherwise you would be able to sleep easily. Therefore, it is important you can teach your mind how to relax, letting go of worry so that you can  fall asleep and stay asleep. Hypnosis techniques will help you manage your worry, anticipate easily falling asleep and create a new and healthy outcome. Some benefits of getting adequate sleep include releasing anti-aging hormones which help you maintain your youth, maximizing your metabolism, enabling you to control your appetite better, allowing you to relax, and keeping your mind and memory sharp. Getting the sleep you need also increases the feel good hormones released by your brain which makes you feel happier.

 

 

Are you one of the folks who has a crazy busy day from the moment the alarm goes off until it is time once again to go to bed? Do you feel as though everyone else’s needs come first and you never have time for your own wellness? If so, then you are not alone and there is hope for you! For so many people the demands of family, home, work and school can be overwhelming. The thought of adding even one more thing in seems hopeless. The key is to start small and build from there. Add on one small change and when you realize it simply is a part of your routine, it seems less daunting to add the next small change.

Changes even a busy person can make

To me, the easiest thing to add is deep breathes. If you are someone who eats in front of the computer, step away. No matter how stressed, slow down, take three deep breathes before you take the first bite and notice what your meal looks like and smells like. Savor the flavors and the time to tune into what your body is telling you. Then continue to breathe between bites and notice when you’re full. Odds are you’ll end up eating much less (and feeling much better)!

The same thing when racing through traffic, breathe. With construction a familiar sight on the roads and crazy drivers from all over the country, our local traffic can be a real stressor. Stress is one of the biggest enemies of wellness there is. Instead of joining in with anger at your fellow commuters, why not just take some deep breathes each time you stop at a traffic light? Get the oxygen flowing through out your body and leave the stress behind. Listen to some favorite tunes or a good audio book, make the commute your transition time from work to home. You might even put a few drops of lavender oil in the car to get the added benefits of aroma therapy.

While at the office, stand whenever you can. Stand while you take phone calls, if possible walk around. Standing burns twice the calories than sitting and it gets the blood flowing to the extremities. You can also begin to do “deskercise”.  For instance, you might keep resistance bands at your desk and between phone calls pull them out for a set of ten reps. Have some filing to do? Why not do squats when putting things away in the lower shelves and cabinets?

Healthy changes for the busy

Instead of meeting for coffee or drinks, begin to live an active lifestyle. Meet a friend to walk and talk or for a game or class. While there may not always be time for a real workout, living actively helps. Spend time dancing or jumping or just plain playing with your kids. That way, you have quality time with them as well as teach them the value of moving the body.

If you are a smoker you are not only doing something unhealthy, but also wasting a lot of time. The average cigarette takes eleven minutes to smoke, while simultaneously taking away eleven minutes of life. So, want to add time on to your day and your life? Trade smoking for anything else that is heathy, legal and nonfattening! Try my favorite health tip once again and breathe deep!

It is helpful to turn off the technology at the end of the day.  Take a break from emails and messages and even social media. Your phone, television, and computer all have screens that emit artificial or blue light. Since we spend 90 percent of our waking hours staring at “glowing rectangles,” that’s definitely a problem. This light suppresses the release of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. You will find you sleep better as a result. Also, it allows you to connect with family at a much better level.

Make your changes personal

There are many more ways that the little things can add up to a big and healthy change. Start with a few of these suggestions and you will soon find yourself creating a list of your own, one that is personal and works for you.  No matter how busy you are, if you don’t take time for you, your body will slow you down. So be proactive before it is time to be reactive.

Clutter can be overwhelming for the busy, yet having the time to eliminate it may be hard to find. Still if you are constantly looking for lost items, you are wasting time. If everything is in order, you can get out the door with less stress and more time. Many years ago I found a tremendously helpful website to help the busy clean up and declutter. It is Flylady.

Hypnosis for the busy

Hypnosis can help you find a way to understand your personal priorities and reset your day so that it reflects them. It is also known for the reduction of stress. Let’s face it, less stress makes everything better. I have recorded audios as short as ten minutes for the busy client who wants to make healthy changes for the better. I have also taught many busy people how to use self-hypnosis on the run.

Are you on overwhelm? Do little things set you over the edge and into the abyss? If so, then you are like so many of my current clients. While they may come to see me for over eating or to stop smoking or nail biting (you can fill in the blank) overwhelm seems to be a secondary issue.

We have been inundated with negative current events for quite some time now. Politics headline daily, with both sides angry and insulting one another. The hurricanes this season were fast and furious, leaving trails of destruction in their wake. The shootings and terror attacks seem unfathomable. The fires in California have destroyed homes and taken lives. The light being shone on sexual harassment began with Hollywood, but goes so much deeper.  We are all suffering from so much negativity.

The ability to access news from around the world as it happens is both a blessing and a curse, both for obvious reasons. I have shared in the past about how important it is to turn the news off, get off of social media for a few hours and be present. Walking in nature or holding a live conversation can be so much more healing.

I just want to remind everyone (including myself) that it is important to be kind to one’s self. It is human to be imperfect! After all, we learn and grow from mistakes. I have some pretty savvy clients and when I tell them to be kind to themselves, to take care of their needs, they can list for me the things they “do” for themselves. Manicures, pedicures, massages and shopping therapy are a few things they will list for me. All good, but not what I am talking about.

Here are six ways you can be kind to you!

Dear Irma,

Written by:

You did your best to mess with us. You left a lot of damage in your path. I am one of the fortunate ones and so I am going to speak for those who don’t have a voice right now. I realize that life is unpredictable and chaos is inevitable. I also know that regardless of your fury mankind can and does prevail. I see it in the faces of my neighbors who are helping one another with clean up, regardless of any silly differences they might have had in the past. I watched it in Houston as volunteers poured in to help rescue strangers from Harvey. I witness the commitment and strength of first responders, who leave their families to ensure the safety of other families.

You had help from some of the same resources we look to, to keep us safe. Yes, the television and radio news shows warn us of potential threats. Social media allows us to check in on one another. Still, both of those help to ramp up our anxiety levels. There is almost a palpable excitement that exudes from reporters as they interview every  and any one they can find regarding your fury. There are numerous people posting and reposting misinformation by the carload of what to do in order to protect themselves and their belongings. Nonstop check- ins with icons of worry. My phone rang, pinged, dinged and continually interrupted my meditations with people who really love me and were checking to see if I had yet perished because of what they were watching, reading and hearing.

Our ancestors are survivors. Proof of that is the existence of me, my family, friends, neighbors and everyone here on this planet. Whether we descended from Vikings, Aztecs, Mesopotamians or any other continent or culture, we are here because we have survival in our very DNA.  While you and your cohorts tried to create a false sense of reality in our heads, I refuse to give you that power over me. What is more, I encourage my fellow survivors to do the same. We will come together and rebuild our lives. We will aid those who lost more than we did, because we are connected, we are humanity.

You gave us some gifts that I am not sure you had intended. First of all, you left many of us without power, but you didn’t leave us powerless. I opened my doors and the temperature was perfect, the breezes gentle. I enjoyed sitting on my porch and listening to the quiet. Because I have taken social media off of my phone, I had peace. At night the stars were glorious. I slept better than I can remember.  I am grateful to have my phone, never knew how much I love hearing the voices of loved ones. Still, I had time to ponder just what does matter in my life.

We laughed because we could. We made puns and jokes and just allowed humor to chase away fears. We made up silly songs and danced to them. We waited, because we had to. However, creating possible doom and gloom scenarios wasn’t going to change you, just infect us. Therefore we did our best to remain as playful as possible.

Funny, all I had planned on saving were some pictures of family. Relationships matter so much more than stuff. Because of you, Irma, I am ready to continue to pare down the amount of stuff in my life. Less truly is more.

There are many fables in different cultures of how an individual has all the riches of the world, then loses them. As they face certain peril they are reminded that “this too shall pass” or that it is neither good nor bad, it just is. When the Hero realizes that just as wealth and power had passed, so too would uncertain peril, the hero finds themselves returning to a better situation. It is only as good or bad as our perception.  We all knew you would pass Irma, just not how you would do it. For our brothers and sisters in the hard hit islands, life is forever changed. People are resilient and help and love is being sent to them. I will do my best to offer my support to them just as I have the good people of Houston, in whatever small way I can. So, I guess you were a strong reminder that I want to remain connected to what matters and that is relationships I have and the ones I build going forward.

I am glad you are gone Irma and I send out prayers to everyone who was affected by you. Now it is time for me to be the love and the light, to take the lessons and gifts you gave and make this a better place because I can.

I normally close a letter with Take A Deep Breathe, but in your case Irma, I shall simply say, Good Bye!

Good Bye Irma

This was recorded without professional equipment and with limited time, but hopefully what it lacks in professional sound quality it will be made up for in comfort.

There is a fable about elephants that is often told to help us move beyond limiting beliefs. It goes something like this:

Vihan was a good boy who loved animals. He was particularly fond of elephants.  He admired the huge animals for many reasons. However, he never had a chance to see real elephants, he only saw them on the television and computers. He lived in a small village, where there were no elephants and none were brought to his village. He dreamt of one day seeing them in person.

Fortunately, when he was a young man he got a chance to join a crew of wildlife lovers. He asked them about their plans whether they would take him to see the elephants. And they said yes. He was excited! Vihan enjoyed the many places and animals he saw on his journey, but the anticipation of seeing elephants was always

with him. At last the time came where he would see these magnificent creatures.

As the group passed through the forests, they walked past a beautiful village. The team chief told Vihan that the village had more than 100 elephants and he would allow Vihan to enjoy the entire day in that village. The rest of the crew moved on, leaving Vihan to enjoy this opportunity. At last he saw the elephants. He could barely control his excitement.

After spending a brief time just seeing the elephants, he was shocked to notice those elephants tied to a frail fence with only a thin rope. No chain and there was no steel cage nor any kind of shelter where the elephants lived. Instead, there were simple sheds without any doors.

Vihan was surprised as he knew the strength of elephants. He had seen them tied to strong chains on the television. He asked one of the villagers, “won’t they easily break the rope?” The villager replied that they wouldn’t. “How can that be?” inquired Vihan, “They are so big and strong.”

The villager answered, “The elephants have been trained here since they were born. When they were babies we would  tie them with a strong rope and the baby elephants weren’t able to break them. The rope we used to tie them when they were small was strong enough to hold them. If the elephants tried to break the rope, they could not set themselves free. So as they grew, they believed that the small and thin ropes were too strong for them to break.”

Vihan was amazed that the powerful elephant wasn’t strong enough mentally to break free from a thin rope.

Like the elephants we hold on to limiting beliefs.

limiting beliefs

Think of the things that keep you from achieving your goals. Isn’t it usually just your thoughts? Maybe you were teased as a teen about your athletic prowess and so now you don’t think you are coordinated enough to take an exercise class. Or maybe it was a class you took that wasn’t taught in a way that you could understand the subject matter, so you decided you were no good in that area. There are many reasons we develop limiting beliefs, and often they are moments that no one else even realized what was happening.

The good news is we can change those limitations! We have the ability to change boulders into stepping stones. As a child I lived in a house that had a driveway that went up a hill. As a child I thought the hill was so steep it was a miracle I could make it all the way up on my bike. As an adult I had the opportunity to visit that early home and what a surprise to see the tiny upward slope of the drive!

The first step is to recognize what your limiting beliefs are.

Ask yourself what are some limitations in your life that were set up for you either by yourself or by others in your life. Notice the moments you feel insecure or held back and sit with that feeling. You might want to write them down and then decide how strong each feeling is. Recall how those beliefs have affected your life. I once had a client who overcame 17 years of stuttering when he realized it began as a way to get his mother’s attention after she opened an in home child care. Ironically, she had done so in order to spend more time with him!

Next step, decide these are beliefs, not facts!

Remember, just because you think it, it doesn’t make it true. My clients will often spend a portion of our session defending their limitations rather than working on imagining life without those limits.  I like to interrupt and  ask them, “what if what you are telling me is false? What if it is just fiction that you have written in your head?” You can choose to stay the same or you can choose to change.

Third step, imagine yourself without the limits.

I often ask my clients to tell me how they would be different if they no longer had those limiting beliefs. What would change about their self-talk, posture, maybe even facial muscles? Then I will ask them to close their eyes and describe the person who has already achieved those goals in as much detail as they can.

Fourth step, figure out what actions you will take towards your new goal.

Behind your eyelids lies your imagination. So I ask clients once again to close their eyes and we will walk the timeline forward from where they are in my office to the point where they have evidence of the belief switch. I will have them squeeze their hand at each action, so that they will remember them when they open their eyes. When they open their eyes, I encourage the client to write down the actions they recall taking.

Fifth step, practice daily taking action.

It is important to practice daily the new actions and new beliefs. Remember to be kind to yourself, at first you may not do things perfectly. That is the beauty of this, we are all works in progress and every  moment can be a do-over! Notice the actions that you took that were successful and repeat those. Learn and laugh at your mistakes.

 

If the elephant fable affected you as it did me, here is a link to an organization that works to provide a safe haven for elephants who are retired from zoos and circuses. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

 

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