The moment you start thinking about any personal problem as a thinking problem, you start changing it. As I was thinking about our thinking and about things that we need to change in order to start doing different thinks and bringing different things into our life (I know I sound like Dr. Seuss:) I came up with an acronym AIDS. That’s right. Easy to remember. You see, there is AIDS and there is “aids”. AIDS means a horrible disease that can destroy life. Yet, we want something that aids us to achieve our goals, to get what we want.
And the truth is that we have problems and we liberate ourselves from our problems by having the same four thinks about things.
A – Attention. Thinks that select things we pay attention to. At any moment our brain selects from a vast ocean of experiences a handful that we pay attention to. If you pay attention to all the bad things – you feel stuck, you feel overwhelmed and stressed and it is difficult to find a solution. When you pay attention to things you have, that you can do, that you want, that you love etc. – you start finding motivation, determination and new solutions.
I – Imagination. A special kind of thinks that create new things. We can spend our time imagining all bad things that may happen and feel bad. And we can imagine other things, which are more pleasant such as our goals, our dreams. We can imagine so many things we can accomplish. And we can imagine so many pleasant, loving things and feel good. When we use our imagination to motivate us, inspire, cheer us up, drive us forward and when we look at tings from different perspective, we start finding solutions and inner strength to implement them.
D- DO – Thinks that make us do things. We can chose to sit and worry and eat comfort food and toss and turn in bed thinking about our problems and how miserable they make us, or we can start studying people who successfully solved the same problem and start doing things they have done in order to reach their goals.
S- Say – Thinks that create voices that say things inside our heads. We can say some pretty nasty things to ourselves or we can become our own best friend and start reminding ourselves about our accomplishment, comfort ourselves, cheer ourselves up and use our inner voices to generate good feelings . Changing the way we talk to ourselves can have a profound impact on our level of confidence and help put ourselves into a mind state that is more positive, productive and more useful for finding even better thinks for even more exciting and useful things.
So at any moment in time you can either have AIDS or aids. You can have something that destroys life or something that aids your life. Most importantly, if you want new things, you have to practice new thinks. And the more you practice new thinks the more you start using your brain to move your life in a new direction, the more you transform yourself from a victim of our own thinks into someone who thinks things through to be more glowing, loving, flowing and free.
When you begin to develop deeper knowledge of who you really are, when you become intimate with yourself, when you fully inhabit your body and fully embrace both light and darkness within you, it becomes very difficult for others to upset you with their judgement, opinions and criticism.
You still may be more vulnerable when receiving criticism from those you love, but even with them something changes, because you no longer feel obliged to instantly morph into something they may approve. Instead, you receive these critical comments as a gift.
You appreciate that someone you love shared their honest opinion, even though they knew it may upset you, even if they had to deal with their fear of losing you. You recognize that they spoke their heart, because they wanted you to grow and shine. So you accept this gift not as the final judgement, but as a valuable feedback from someone who loves you and has your best interests in heart.
Then you decide what to do with this gift. You never just throw it away. Even if after careful consideration you decide to disagree, you still treasure it and hold it in your heart. And when you agree, you do not feel as if it shatters your self-image or reduces your self-worth. You do not puff up, and you do not shrink. You just use it as a guiding light on your quest to deeper awareness and even deeper knowledge of yourself.
When two people, who are striving to develop deeper knowledge of their true self, who are willing to embrace their light and darkness and who are determined to grow, join their hearts in a loving relationship, whether it is love, friendship or deep soul connection, it is the most beautiful and rewarding experience. They neither allow their own insecurity or bad mood guide their tongue, nor feel any need to walk around each other on tiptoes. As a result, they no longer need masks or armor, they can speak their hearts and help each other grow.
I was looking at my calendar deep in thoughts. Then I said, “Hmmmm…”
My husband is a geek, so to attract his attention and make him look up from his computer, I had to make a bigger sound: “HMMMMMM…”
“What is it?” said my husband. (Yes, the bigger voice worked!)
“Hmm… I wonder… Should I compete this time?”
“Compete? What for? Look at your mantelpiece! Don’t you have enough trophies already? Give someone else a chance!’
This was not a response I expected.
If you ever competed in Toastmasters speaking competitions, you know that there are two distinctive feelings that you may experience. One of them is this warm and fuzzy glow, when you stand in front of a smiling and applauding audience, holding your trophy proudly like a new baby. And then there is the other one… We don’t like talking about it. We pretend it doesn’t exist.
First time I experienced the other feeling was, quite understandably, the first time I ever competed.
I thought I was prepared to take the blow. I kept telling myself, “You probably won’t win. It’s your first time. It is OK.” And yet, here I was, feeling defeated, deflated with my self-esteem curled into a whimpering ball of self-pity. And of course I tried to act nonchalantly, “Oh, I knew I won’t win. You know, competitions are not about winning.” (Who was I kidding? Of course they are. They are competitions!)
It took a bit of willpower to enter the contest again. “Remember, it is not about winning!” I kept telling myself.
And, yes! This time I did it! I won the club contest. Oh, it felt so good. My self-esteem was dancing on the rooftops and singing happy tunes. My heart felt warm and fuzzy. I entered the next level and won it again. Yes! Oh, it felt even better! I was floating on air.
And then I lost the division contest. And my heart was sinking again.
It was in 2012, when I experienced my biggest moment of glory. Oh, I worked so hard for this. I won the club, I won the area, I won the division… I couldn’t believe this. I was going to compete on the district stage. And finally, here I was, holding a huge trophy with both hands, smiling down into a big room full of applauding people, feeling so warm and fuzzy inside. Oh, it felt so good to be appreciated, validated, admired, noticed!
In just a few months I entered another contest – the International speech contest. And lost at the area level.
I would probably continue running through this endless marathon – winning, losing, feeling good, feeling defeated, if not for a dream I had this week.
In this dream I was walking in the forest with a close friend. I was not surprised that he appeared in my special dream, because of a deep bond of trust that developed between us. If you are blessed to have someone who accepts you completely the way you are, so you feel comfortable expressing even the goofiest, weirdest sides of you deepest self, you know what I am talking about. Yes, this dream would not be complete without him and I was happy he was in it.
At some point I noticed that I was carrying a heavy bag. I took it off my shoulder, put it on the ground, opened it and peered inside. To my surprise, it was full of small dull pebbles. As I was looking at these pebbles in bewilderment, my friend took a handful of them, examined them closer and said, “Oh, look, they are your external validations – praises, approvals, compliments. Oh, and there are all the trophies that you got for your speeches. Look, how many there are! You rock, girl!”
Now I could see it too. Only I thought they would look differently. Shinier. More precious. Like golden nuggets or diamonds. But they were just dull pebbles! All that effort and I ended up with a bag full of pebbles.
And my friend said, “Just think, if you keep it up, how much more you will get in 10 years!”
I sat on the ground and started crying. Yes I was still in my dream. “Pebbles! Pebbles! I don’t want more pebbles.”
My friend sat down besides me and said: “OK, you don’t want pebbles. I get it. What do you want?”
This was not an easy question. I knew I didn’t want more of dull pebbles, but what did I want?
“Wait… I don’t know… I need to think.”
“Well, you know what to do, don’t you? Close your eyes and open your heart. It will come to you.”
I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths and slowly allowed my heart to open to the richness of the moment. The gentle whispering of wind in the grasses, the warm kisses of sunshine on my eyelids, fresh smell of leaves. And this special feeling of being with someone who understands. Who is there for you. Feeling connected. Sharing the moment.
I opened my eyes and said, “This. I want more moments like this one. This is perfect.”
And my friend said,“Here you go. You have them. And guess what, there are everywhere. You can have as many as you want. Just keep your heart open.”
I opened my eyes and awakened from my dream. And I thought that when I arrive at the end of my life’s journey, I don’t want to open my bag and find it full of pebbles. I want my bag full of magic golden moments. Moments of connection. Moments of appreciation. Moments of love. Moments of friendship.
The problem with golden moments is that they cannot be hoarded. You cannot put them on the mantelpiece. They can only be experienced moment by moment. And I remembered how often I would give a speech and notice someone’s eyes softening, as if letting me in, opening the door. And then as if a barrier between me and another human being would dissolve, allowing my words flow freely from my heart to another heart.
I made a decision to not compete again. I suddenly realized I never wanted trophies. I wanted something that was passed to me with the trophies, yet couldn’t be put on my mantelpiece with the trophies. I wanted my golden moments of connection. I wanted to touch other people’s hearts. And my friend was right. These golden moments are everywhere. I don’t have to compete for them. They are waiting for me. As long as I keep my heart open.
To me a person’s melody is their energy. You see somebody across the room and you feel some subtle vibrations. You are curious and you approach them and start a conversation. The words are not that important. You ask the usual questions, “Where are you from? Is this your first time here? How you enjoy being here?” And as you talk you feel that on some deeper level you resonate. If you ever experienced the beautiful moment of resonance you know how it feels.
If there is time and an opportunity, you may talk to this person again and again. Each time going a little bit deeper. Again, it is not the content of a conversation, but a feeling of comfort and ease and curiosity to learn more. It’s this first attraction that prompts you to seek this person’s company and take the next step.
And it may happen that you start sharing your stories and as you do you find yourself explaining in delight and surprise, “Me too!” As my mentor John La Valle once told us, the phrase “I like you” should read “I AM like you.” We are attracted to people who are somewhat similar to us. On the outside they may look and sound very different. But there is something – some common experiences, views, aspirations and often even pain and struggle – that makes you resonate on the same frequency with more and more intensity.
More stories are shared. Each story is like a string stretching from one soul to another, making the connection stronger. With enough time and opportunity, a strong bond may be formed – a friendship or a romantic relationship. A student finding a mentor. A mentor finding a student. A soul finding a soulmate. There is something magical about this process, when a person becomes more and more important, until beautiful flowers of caring affectionate feelings start blossoming.
Yet, all those wonderful things are like river that must begin somewhere. You should be able to hear someone else’s music, before you feel the attraction. And someone else has to be able to hear your music. It may never happen if you block your energy, hide your light and silence your music.
So often when we experience too much pain and rejection growing up, we develop a protective shell to avoid future hurts. We start believing that in order to avoid rejection we need to be nice to everybody. We try to guess what other people may think and we try to fit in. As a result, we block our unique vibrations and we create a wall between us and other people. Even though on the inside we may be desperate for human connections, we make it impossible for those who vibrate on the same frequency to recognize us. If they don’t hear our music, they cannot be attracted to us.
What I learned in my journey of overcoming stuttering is that hiding inside a protective shell rarely protects us from being hurt. It just prevents us from feeling vibrantly, from living fully and from connecting deeply. As I started removing my armor and letting go of my defenses, I found my unique voice flowing more and more freely and my energy growing stronger.
For some taking off the armor and opening up to flow maybe a slow and often painful process. Fortunately, NLP and hypnosis offer us many powerful tools that can make this journey pleasant, fun and exciting experience. As you heal past hurts and learn to use your mind differently, you can develop better and more effective ways to protect yourself, while staying open and flowing.
It’s a beautiful moment when you listen to someone’s music and realize that you want to learn their lyrics as well. And it starts with opening up to your own music and discovering your own lyrics with a sense of deep connection and appreciation.
People often ask me – Can NLP help with stuttering? or Can NLP help to reduce my social anxiety? or Can NLP boost my confidence? etc.
To me NLP is not something you use to “fix” something that is broken. It is an attitude and a methodology that allows you to become a true master of your mind. As such it is something that everyone can benefit from. Knowing what specifically we do when we “think” and when we make decisions and when we create emotional states is extremely useful.
I sometimes think that the whole purpose of me having a severe stutter for most of my life was to lead me to this path I am walking now. Knowing how to refocus your mind, how to relax your body and how to reframe your experience transforms your life.
Our mind can be a wonderful garden and it can be a living hell. So knowing how to nurture your mind’s garden is to me the most important thing that NLP can offer. For example, when i used to have severe stutter, I struggled with feelings of fear, anxiety, inferiority, perfectionism and shame. I believed that as soon as I am done stuttering and regain fluency, those feelings will magically disappear from my emotional repertoire.
Yet, many of my clients who never stuttered experience the same torment – only for different reasons. Even though there is nothing wrong with their speech, they display the same high level of speech anxiety and feeling of inferiority and unworthiness that I had. They should be happy that they can speak freely, but the problem is – they don’t know they have to be very happy, because they never experienced speech blocks. Yet, they are afraid to share their opinion, beat themselves up over perceived imperfections in their speech and go through the same torment.
Knowing how you create your internal reality and what you can do to start changing it is priceless. What many people do not realize is that many NLP processes have to be practiced on a daily basis. Some of the techniques work like miracles and others you need to practice over and over. Such as being mindful of your internal dialogues for example. Or noticing when you are sliding down the slippery slope of unpleasant feeling and switch at the very beginning. It takes practice but it is doable.
I know may people who magically transformed their lives with NLP. I also know some who just couldn’t get it. It is such an alien way of thinking, because we are not used to think about our thinking.
In five years, which now seems like a very short time, I went from being overwhelmed and totally controlled by my emotional reactions, which seemingly just pounced at me like tigers, to being able to direct my unconscious processes and recognize when I am doing something that is not helpful or something that causes me unnecessary pain while accomplishing nothing.
It takes determination and commitment and a fierce belief that you are destined for much more than you are settling for now. This is why I am now switching from individual sessions to 6-months coaching contracts. From my own experience I know what is possible, but I also know that you cannot make big changes unless you are driven. It is by becoming intolerant to everything that stands between you and a person you can become and by engaging fully that we can start moving forward and start magically transform our lives.
Contact me for your free initial consultation and see if you have what it takes to become absolutely awesome.
A client confided to me: “I keep forgetting to do what you told me – meditate on good memories and amplify good feelings.”
Do you feel like this sometimes? You know what to do to make your life better, but you keep forgetting. Yet, you never forget to run through your negative internal dialogues, access old hurts and amplify them, meditate on difficulties and personal limitations. So why not do the same with good feelings and good memories?
Long ago I had a friend who would say with a deep sign: “Sometimes I wash the dishes and then think, Oh, I nearly forgotten – Its probably time to have sex with my husband…Darn it! Another chore!” Yet, when they just got married, this “chore” was fun and exciting and they would dedicate a significant portion of time to it. How do we lose our dedication to fun and pleasure? They both still had two perfectly good bodies capable of producing an infinite variety of pleasant feelings. Yes, sure it would require more creativity and more dedication to keep it from becoming a chore, but the investment would bring them great reward.
On the other side, if you have somebody with an addiction, like smoking, they never forget about it. In Seattle people are forbidden to smoke inside office building or near them. So people who smoke
never forget to interrupt their work, go outside, often they have to ride an elevator down 20 something stores and then go and find a place to have a smoke while getting drenched in Seattle rain. This is dedication. What if we become obsessed with feeling pleasure, having fun and generally make life more enjoyable instead of seeing life as a series of chores or a performance that is
Some people obsessively wash hands because they believe they may get sick. But they never think about the dangers of allowing feelings like anxiety, worries, fear run inside our bodies. It is not a metaphorical danger – those neurochemicals are toxic. And not many people realize that even though it may seems that they are motivating and help us stay on top of things, our bodies are not designed to have them circulating in our system for months and years.
What if we become obsessed with cleaning our mind from toxic emotions and do it obsessively? Think about it – when we go out we never forget to dress up. We never forget to put on a pair of pants or a skirt. Yet, we keep forgetting to spend a few moment to put ourselves in a resourceful and vibrant state of mind. As my mentor Dr. Richard Bandler says, “When you dress up in the morning, dress up your attitude”. I’ve been living by those words for the past two years and I can testify – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And the more you try to have bad feelings with this kind of attitude, the more you feel like it is a waste of time.
Did you remember get dressed this morning? Now it is time to dress up your attitude!
This was an assignment at the Strategic NLP and Hypnotic Patterns for Learning Seminar. We were told to work in pairs. Simple. Ask your partner what is it that he or she wants to have. Put them into a deep trance. Find out what they are not seeing.
I pair up with a Russian man, who came to Dr. Bandler’s seminar all the way from Moscow, Russia. He speaks English slowly, picking words, but well enough, so there is no need for us to speak Russian. I go first with my problem.
“I want to speak better English. I still get upset when somebody does not understand me. But I don’t believe I can get rid of my accent at my age.”
My partner looks genuinely puzzled.
“Really? Why do you care?”
Now it is my turn to look puzzled – my problem seems so serious to me.
“Well, of course I care. If they cannot understand me, this means my English is still bad.”
“How does it mean your English is still bad. I often do not understand THEM. Does it mean their English is bad.”
I am an NLP practitioner myself, I understand exactly what he is doing. He is challenging my model of reality. Yet, my brain cannot help it but starts turning things around and looking at them from a different perspective. Still, I grasp for straws trying to defend my limiting belief. I am not giving up something that makes me feel bad so easily.
“They do not have accent. The reason you do not understand them is because you don’t know English well enough.”
“They don’t have an accent? There are a couple of folks from Australia, I have very hard time understanding what they are saying.”
I nod. “I know what you mean. I have to listen very hard in order to understand them.”
“Well, isn’t it always so that when you are speaking to someone whose speech is different, you just listen better?”
Suddenly I can see what I am not seeing. Yes, of course. Since the beginning of the seminar I have been talking to people from Germany, Japan, India, Australia, Switzerland and other countries. Some spoke English so well, I wouldn’t guess they were from another country. And yet some spoke English with a thick accent and had difficulties finding the right word. Still their accents didn’t matter. Their appearance didn’t matter. What mattered was that we all came here to learn, to improve ourselves and become better at what we do. If we didn’t have a common language to speak, we would talk to each other with smiles and hand gestures and friendly noises. Since we all could speak English, it made connection and communication so much easier. And often all we had to do to understand each other better was to listen really well and give each other space to express our thoughts.
I emerged from a deep trance with a smile.
“How do you feel about not being able to speak English without an accent?”
I smiled. “I guess people just have to listen a bit harder when they speak to me. I guess we all can benefit from learning how to listen. And I guess if I stop worrying what people think and start listen to what they are saying with more precision my English would improve by leaps and bounds.”
There is nothing like that light-hearted feeling when you realize how easy it is to let go of another limiting belief. The human mind is a marvelous thing.