Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A couple of my daily affirmations

What affirmations do you use each day to ensure you reach your goals?

Do you use a list someone else has prepared for you, or have you created your own?

How do you use them?  Do you simply read them out, do you visualize them as you read them, really feeling them internally?  Do you include them as sub text in your own personal Mind Movie?

In asking those questions I am not suggesting that the way you currently do it is wrong, or implying from the way I have worded the question there is a best way to do it.  Some people would say there is, including many coaches.  But that is not where I am coming from.  I simply want you to ask yourself the questions and justify to yourself the way you use (or even don't use) affirmations in your efforts to evolve and improve.

Let me share with you a couple of the affirmations I use daily.  Again, I am not suggesting that you should use the same affirmations, or that you should use them in the way I do.  But perhaps by looking at what I do, and what I know works for me, you will pick up some ideas on ways you might wish to change what you say and what you do.

The exact affirmations I use depend on which aspect of my personal development I am focussing on.  I have some that I use regardless (I call these my "Mind and Motivation" affirmations) but in addition to those I add some that are much more specific to the range of goals I have made my priority.  Many people think that there is only one goal to reach, and often it is linked in some way to their wealth.  I believe this is an important goal, and I do give it more emphasis than the others simply because it can be easier to reach some of those goals if I am wealthier, but it is most certainly not my only goal.  The affirmations I am giving you today are two of my "Mind and Motivation" affirmations which I use every day regardless.

Ok, here is my number one affirmation, one I use every day regardless:

"I create my own life.  I choose the direction in which my life is going and determine how successful I am."

I strongly recommend you have something like this in your list of daily affirmations.  As I have said, I am not suggesting you add this to your list exactly as I have written it, although you are welcome to do so if you find it helpful.  But I do feel you should look through your list and see if you have something like it there.

To me, this is number one not only in terms of its position on the list, but also in terms of its importance.  We must all recognize that we are each individually responsible for what happens in our lives and our own success.  It is easy to blame your employer, the government, your circumstances, your family.  In fact, anyone and anything except yourself.  As long as you place the blame outside you are dooming yourself to failure.  You cannot control what happens outside.  You may be able to influence it to a degree, but you cannot control it.  When you realize that you are responsible for your own success this can turn things around.  Trust me, it really can.  I constantly use this affirmation and know it work.

Here is the second one I use every day:

"I know my goals and know how I am going to reach them."

This is very important too.  When I first started using this affirmation I realized I didn't really know my goals as well as I should.  I was still using goals I set myself decades ago.  In the intervening years I have moved towards those goals, so the personal development techniques I was using have certainly worked for me.  But now I no longer feel strongly about some of those goals and need to set myself new ones.  The first step in doing so was recognizing the gap, and this affirmation gave me that realization.

With both these affirmations there is both something that gives us a realization that something inside needs to change, and also by affirming we are starting that process of change.

In another blog article I will give you some further insight into my own affirmations and how I use them.  Hopefully you have found this helpful and will start putting into practice anything you may have learned from it.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

State Change

In a previous blog I emphasized that we are each in control of our own emotions.  External factors may seem to create negative or positive emotions, but this only happens because we allow it.

So how do you actually switch from a negative to a positive emotion?  What do you need to do to achieve this?

This is not an easy thing to do, especially if it is not something you do all the time (or perhaps have never done), and especially if the negative emotion you are feeling is very strong.  It is not easy, but you CAN do it.

I would suggest the way NOT to do it is to say something like "come on, perk up!", or to have someone say this to you.  You may just as well say "come on, flap your arms and fly!" for all the good that does.

In Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) it is common to hear a lot of talk about "state change".  Really, this is just another phrase for saying the same thing - changing your emotions.

If you are in a deep funk, maybe desperately sad about something, or perhaps very angry, before you can replace this negative emotion with a positive one you need to switch out of that mood as quickly as possible.  And "as quickly as possible" can be very quick.  It can be instantaneous!

In a very recent blog article I gave you a technique you could use for this in a specific situation.  Someone has made you very angry.  How can you snap right out of that angry mood?  One method I suggested was to imagine the person who has made you angry is suddenly standing there completely naked.  Depending on the circumstances you may now wish to laugh out loud.  I say "depending on the circumstances" as if the person is standing right there it might not be appropriate for you to laugh suddenly.  In the example I gave, you are driving a car and the person who made you angry is the driver of another car who has cut you up.  In that situation you can, and SHOULD, laugh out loud as you picture them standing there stark naked.  Where the person is standing in front of you, still see him stark naked but only laugh internally.

Try this.  If you have never done something like this before you will be amazed at the result.  You should find your laughter wipes away that negative emotion, giving you time to replace it with a positive emotion of your choice.

This is only one example of a state change technique, but it is a very powerful one.

Once you have wiped away the negative emotion, recognize that what caused it was your reaction to someone or something - not that someone or something itself.  The person has not changed, and nor has the situation, but you are no longer angry (for example) but are inwardly and perhaps outwardly laughing.

The next step is to stop yourself reacting negatively again once the amusement has passed.  To a degree you have already done that - just keep that naked image there.  But there is also an inner conversation you had with yourself that generated the negative emotion in the first place, or at least perpetuated and amplified it.  You may have said something like this to yourself: "How dare he move into my lane like that, so close to me and without even signalling!".  Now that you have created a state change, don't waste this opportunity by engaging in the same negative conversation again.  Yes, the guy who cut you up did a silly thing.  It was not nice.  But don't add to the problems he may have caused you by allowing him to make you miserable.  You already know what he did was wrong and why it was wrong, so there is no need at all for you to have a conversation with yourself about it.  On the other hand, you could certainly continue a conversation resulting from your amusement about him sitting in his car stark naked!

So that is a technique you can use to stop a negative emotion in its tracks.  A very effective technique.  Try to think of others.  It is best to have a selection of such techniques in your "state change armoury".  The one I have just given you works very well when it is a person that is causing the negative emotion.  You can extend it just a little so you can use it in any situation, not just one caused by a person.  For example, you may choose to see everyone around you as naked.  This will still create the state change you need, even though they are all innocent and you have nothing against any of them.  Think of a few more like this and remember to use them next time you are suffering from a negative emotion of any kind.

After you have removed the negative emotion and stopped yourself from calling it back again, the final step is to trigger a positive emotion.

There is much you can do to trigger a positive emotion.  I find one of the best ways is to recall a time in the past when you felt that emotion really strongly.  Visualize it.  See it as though you are sat in a cinema and the scene you remember is now being played on the screen.  In colour.  This is important.  Your mind, which doesn't like anything that changes your state, will probably try to limit you by making the film black and white rather than colour.  If that happens, just remember the scene more vividly and recall it in full technicolour.  Allow the emotion to flow through you.  Then step into the scene.  Experience it again fully with all your senses.

Rather than waiting until you need to use it, you should take some time now (or when you next have a few minutes by yourself) and go through this exercise.  Take some time to find some of the best examples.  Relive them as described above.  Do this several times for each of those incidents over the next few days.  Keep doing it until you can recall each incident and feel the emotions strongly without too much effort.

Once you have two or three (or even more), the final step is to "anchor" them.  This simply means associating each with a physical action.  Many NLP practitioners will teach you to do this with a completely random action.  For example, tap your right hand with the middle finger of your left hand.  Keep repeating the incident in your mind, and each time the really powerful positive emotion flows through you, tap your hand in this way.  If you do this enough times, you should then find that if you tap your hand in this way it automatically brings back that positive emotion.  Keep practising this anchoring until that is the case.

I suggest, though, that you anchor the best example with the right body posture associated with that emotion.  For example, if you are trying to anchor your best example of being happy, then anchor it with a smile.  As above, keep going back to that incident that caused you such happiness, and each time the happiness flows through you anchor it with a smile.

Do this and you will have some very powerful tools to create the right state changes no matter what is happening around you.

If you would like some outside help with creating the right state changes, try this site:

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Behind the mask

Have you ever looked behind your mask and found the real "you"?

When I ask people this question most ask "what mask?" and say they never wear masks.  They are deluding themselves.  We all wear masks.

We learn from an early age that we need to present a certain image to the world around us.  Maybe that is the image of an obedient boy or girl, who is really not quite as obedient as the mask suggests.  Maybe it is a mask that makes us less noticeable to the school bully and hopefully therefore allows us to avoid being bullied too much.  Or even the mask of a bully who doesn't want others to notice how vulnerable he or she is.

But we do not permanently wear the same mask.  Again, as a child you probably displayed a different mask to your parents than the one you displayed to your brothers and sisters if you had any.  A different mask to your teachers than to your school friends.  A different mask to your group of friends than to those in other groups.

As an adult you still have a whole series of masks.  One you show your boss at work.  Another you show your spouse.  And yet another you show your children.  You take on different personalities with those different masks.  The personality of a mother or father.  The personality of a loving spouse.  The personality of a loyal employee.  There is, in fact, a whole series of things that change in you as you assume each mask.  How an employee, spouse, or parent should behave, what they should say, how they should think, what they should believe.  Some of the beliefs associated with the mask are absolutely the right thing.  Many are not - they are patterns you have learned from others, from what you have read, what you have been told, experiences you have had.

If you want to develop and evolve properly it is important that you first look behind the masks.  You need to find the real "you".  Once you have found that true personality you can then work on improving it and moving it in the direction you wish to go.  And you can then also analyse each of your masks, identifying whether they are needed at all once your personality has evolved, and if they are still needed identifying which aspects should still be there and which should not.

This is not as easy as it sounds.  It is actually a lifetime task.  But a very rewarding task which you will find brings improvements in your life and, hopefully, greater happiness as you progress.

One reason it is not that easy is the point I made right at the beginning of this article - the challenge of even recognizing you are wearing a mask.  Knowing that even when you are sat alone, thinking about your goals, motivating yourself to reach them, and checking they are aligned with the inner purpose of your life, knowing that even then you are wearing a mask which you have to remove in order to move forward properly.

Another reason is that we all wear masks under our masks.  A bit like a matryoshka doll, the Russian nesting doll, except in the case of the matryoshka each doll inside the other normally looks identical, whereas when you peel back your masks you will find the one underneath is a little different.

Take some time each day to meditate, opening up your personal matryoshka one mask or shell at a time.  Get to the inner "you" and find out what that "you" really wants out of life.  Until you do this, you will not be satisfied with what you achieve, as it does not reflect what you really wanted to achieve.

As you progress with this, also take a look at those masks you are removing.  Try to find out why they are there.  Perhaps they are necessary, but perhaps not.  If they are needed, then try to find out how they change your personality, the way you behave, even the way you think and what you believe.  Strip out of the mask everything that is not needed, and everything that you find is a betrayal of the real "you".

What you will almost certainly discover is that the real "you" is very different, much deeper than suggested by the masks, and probably a much nicer person.  The mask of the "Democrat" or the "Republican" for example if you are in the US, "Labour", "Liberal Deomcrat", "Green", "UKIP", "SNP" or "Conservative" (and forgive me if I left out your particular mask here) if you are in the UK.  Wherever in the world you are I am sure you can replace these political masks with ones more appropriate to your situation.  I am not saying do not be a Democrat or Republican.  Just be aware that you do not need to wear the Democrat or Republican mask, that you can vote for one or other party and even strongly believe in the stance of one or other party, but do not allow that party to create a mask for you that is not the real "you".  Putting this back over 150 years ago, there were Confederates and Unionists.  If you have watched the US ABC miniseries "North & South", then you may remember the characters and beliefs of George Hazard and Orry Main.  They each believed strongly in their own cause, one being a Confederate and the other a Unionist.  They each had good reasons for those beliefs, or at least they felt there were good reasons for them.  But "Unionist" or "Confederate" was not really the true George Hazard or Orry Main.  Underneath the masks were decent human beings who loved each other despite their very different political persuasions.  And underneath your mask too there is probably a much better human being than the one you are currently displaying.  Dive beneath all those masks and find that real "you".

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Choosing Your Emotions

Did you know that you choose your emotions?  They are not caused by external events.  They are caused by your own choice, your own decision of which emotion you are now going to experience.

Most people react quite badly to what I have just said, even though it is the absolute truth.  Perhaps you are one of them?  Here is what you might say:

"Do you think I would deliberately choose to be miserable?"
"I am angry because of what just happened, not because I want to be angry!"
"How can I choose to be happy when something like this happens to me?"

The common theme here is that it is events around us that create our moods.  "I am angry because ...".  We externalize our emotion.  We are victims.  We want to be happy, but we cannot because ....

It really doesn't matter what words you put after "because ...".  It doesn't matter, because whatever you put there is NOT the reason for your negative emotion.  YOU are the reason.

It is true that external events can trigger emotional responses.  And in some cases those triggers are very strong.  I am not denying this.  But the final decision about what mood you are going to be in comes from you.  No matter what the trigger, no matter how strong it may be, it cannot force you to experience a particular emotion.  Only you can do that.

Learning to maintain positive emotions no matter what the external circumstances may be is not an easy task.  It is not even necessarily the right thing to do.  Negative emotions have a purpose.  For example, if a loved one has just died you will have a mix of negative emotions, including grief.  It is important to pass through that grief.  But the grief is not caused by the death - it is a choice we make in reaction to the death.  A choice we SHOULD make.  The same thing applies, to a lesser extent, to other negative emotions.  You mustn't bottle up your feelings and try to pretend you are happy when you are not.  Choose to experience those negative emotions at the right strength and for the right time.  Then let them go.  What do I mean by "the right strength"?  I mean they should not be so powerful that they make you do things you should not do and would not choose to do in normal circumstances.  Don't, for example, become Michael Douglas in the film "Falling Down"!  Certainly don't fire a gun in MacDonalds because they have stopped serving the breakfast menu and you want breakfast!

Begin learning to control your emotions just by choosing your emotions in every day circumstances.  Choose to be happy when you would otherwise perhaps have been in "neutral gear", when nothing particularly bad has happened but neither has anything particularly good happened.  Choose not to be angry when a driver cuts you up or does something else that is silly or perhaps rather dangerous.

How do you choose the right emotions?

If something has happened which would normally make you angry, try to see it in a different light.  For example, the driver who cut you up - maybe imagine he is completely naked!  Now think about how silly he looks and laugh.  Or in a neutral situation where you would normally be a bit unhappy for no particular reason, think back to an event that made you happy and imagine yourself there.  Feel that happiness, then bring it back with you.

There are, in fact, many techniques you can use to choose the right emotions.  Some are quite specific.  Look out for training on "state change" - in fact I will probably write a blog article about creating "state change", so keep an eye out for it.

For now, just accept that you are in control, that whatever emotion you are feeling has been chosen by you.  If you don't like that emotion it is within your gift to change it.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


When you want to change your life for the better how do you begin the process?  Do you immediately start trying to fix the problem?  And do you see that problem as something outside, in your environment, or something within you?

Just by asking you those questions I have hopefully started to make you question the ways in which you do this.  I hope so.  Because asking the right questions first is a key step in creating change.

Too often we ask ourselves the wrong questions.  We may or may not get good answers, but those answers will not help move us forward in quite the right direction if the questions we asked were the wrong questions.  They may move us vaguely in the right way, if they were vaguely the right question.  But there will usually be much better answers we could have found if the question were more focussed.

For example, suppose you have decided that you need to earn more money.  So you ask yourself the question "how can I earn more money?"  Perhaps you decide the answer is to ask your boss for a pay rise.  Now don't get me wrong.  In this case the answer is pretty good.  You may or may not get that raise, but if you do, then you have certainly moved forwards in the right direction.  You will get more money.  There is also a chance that you won't get that raise though.  Should the question have been "how do I earn more money" in the first place?  I am not saying this is the wrong question, but only that you should really make sure it IS the right question before you rely completely on the answer it gives you.  Perhaps the question should have been "how do I become wealthier?"  And when you ask that question maybe the answer that comes back is "create a passive income stream".  Or maybe a series of answers come back, one of which is "ask for a raise", another is "create a passive income stream", and perhaps another is another question: "am I in the right job?"

So, when you want to create change, begin by thinking about what changes you should be trying to make, rather than rushing in and trying to make changes before you know for certain those are the changes you should be making.  The key to successfully changing things for the better is to make sure you first ask yourself the right questions.

Think deeply about the questions you should ask yourself.  Think really deeply.  Don't assume the first question that comes to mind is necessarily the right question.  In fact, don't assume there should only be one question.  Usually you will find there is more than one question, and then probably more than one good answer to each of those questions.

When you are considering the right questions to ask, focus on yourself rather than on the environment.  The changes you need to make will come from within.  They may then change things around you, but the process starts within.  You do not have absolute control over your environment, but you CAN take absolute control of yourself.  Ask yourself questions about the changes you can and should make in yourself, and you can then change everything for the better.