Tell your inner critic to shut up!

“Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!”

― Ann Bradford

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Do you ever feel like your inner voice is not your best friend? Do you find that voice telling you that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong? My inner chatter is often telling me that I’m not doing ‘it’ right. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is – doing a task, helping someone to do something, even just trying to meditate. I used to think that I was alone in this and that I was just flawed and hopeless. Then I started working with other women in workshops and discovered that almost all of us do this one way or another. It is painful to realize how many of us believe these negative voices in our heads. I wrote about this topic recently on Thrive Global.

Most of us received plenty of negative messages growing up, and usually those messages are blindly accepted and believed. These negative messages from our inner critic create new neural pathways which become embedded in our brains. This becomes negative inner chatter creating limiting beliefs which adversely impacts us in many ways.

A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes, and unfortunately, a lot of us have some very negative messages firmly rooted in our brains.

Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task.

Is there a way to overcome the negative stories that we once heard and now continue to tell ourselves? Is there a way to shift those pathways so that they are less destructive? Yes! There is a practice which you can start using right now, which will bring about changes in the neural pathways that keep you stuck. Using Creative Positive Reframing, you can take limiting beliefs and creatively transform them so they become supportive rather than destructive. You can reframe and create a new perspective on how you think by using these seven tools:

Pay attention — Pay attention to your thought process.

Action: A good way to pay attention to your thought process is to pay attention to how your body feels. You can tell if the thoughts are self-defeating and destructive if they negatively impact your body; for example, a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat, clenched jaw or tight shoulders.

Practice: Scan your body to check in, notice any tight spots or knots. Observe/pay attention to the thoughts that you are focusing on when you feel tight; think about why you want to change those thoughts; what is the negative impact on your life?

Get the negative out — Write out the negative.

Action: Nature abhors a vacuum. When you cannot get out of a negative thought spiral — write it out. Get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.

Practice: Get negative thoughts out of your head by emptying it out on paper. Think of it as an emotional enema! Write about all the negativity spiralling in your head. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow and let it all come out. And then tear the paper up.

Replace the negative with positive — Use positive statements and questions to replace the negative

Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations and questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral. However, sometimes when we use affirmations that do not feel real, our brain does not believe it, and this can embed the negative even more deeply. For example, if you are struggling to pay the rent and you say to yourself: ‘I am wealthy and have plenty of money for all of my needs’, perhaps your thoughts will rebel with: ‘Well, that’s not true’ — and then will go on to prove how wrong you are, throwing you further down the negative spiral.

Practice: Creative positive statements wherever possible; and try creating questions as well. Research shows that the use of questions instead of statements works effectively. Questions work with the brain’s natural inquisitive nature; pose a question and your brain will work to find an answer, creating more positive neural pathways automatically. So if when you say “I am wealthy” and your brain rebels; try asking for its help by saying something like “Money is coming to me easily and effortlessly. What do I need to do to increase my cash flow?”

Think about the ideal and be clear why you want it — Create an ideal scenario and know why it is important to you.

Action: In order to create new neural pathways and escape the negative spiral, it’s important to have a replacement to start thinking about. For example, if you are stuck in fear about money, and in a negative loop, start thinking about the flip side and create a picture of the ideal.

Practice: Describe your ideal financial situation, be as specific as possible. Have fun with this: let your imagination be your guide. You don’t need to write this out, just tell yourself the story. Picture yourself living with plenty of money. See yourself living the life of your dreams; actually feel how good it feels. And then focus on the why; why is it important? For example, allow yourself really examine why having more money would make a difference in your life. What is the deepest reason you want this to manifest? Keep going deeper and deeper into why you want to achieve this until you feel like you have hit the heart of it. You will know it when you have hit it, there will be an emotional charge linked to it. Allow yourself to feel the depth of that emotion.

Creative visualization — Picture the ideal and embed it in your brain

Action: Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ or visualizing something to attain that which you most want, or want to change. It involves using the mind to see that which you want to achieve; or using the mind to change the negative into positive. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative. The key to visualization is to create a mindset that you already have that which you are trying to attain, and to believe that you deserve the positive result.

Practice: Relax and take time to do this. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.

Stay positive in the process — Keep a positive attitude as you practice

Action: The field of Positive Psychology points out many benefits of staying positive and being happy. Happiness brings social rewards, helps people recover faster from illness, and have more resilience. Happy people feel like they are in control and are empowered and therefore usually feel more confidence, optimism, and a sense of well-being. These are all good reasons to try to remain in a positive mindset, but one of the main obstacles to positivity is that our brains are wired to look for and focus on threats. This mechanism was helpful back when we were hunters and gatherers, but now this mindset breeds pessimism and negativity because the mind tends to wander until it finds a threat. But there are many methods to overcome the brain’s negative bias.

Practice: The most straightforward method is to focus on love and compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. These positive mind-sets shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Even simply thinking about someone you love or something you are grateful for, can help you shift from a negative mindset to a positive one.

Be creative — Creativity helps us shift from the negative to the positive

Action: While you are focusing on shifting limiting beliefs into more positive and supportive beliefs, it is helpful to be creative in the process. An expression of creativity, in any form, can be helpful in shifting our mood and removing us from a negative spiral. Not only that, but repressed creativity can have the opposite effect, and can ultimately express itself in unhealthy ways, such as bad relationships, stress, neurotic or addictive behaviors. Perhaps the most common manifestation of repressed creativity in women is depression, which, of course, only increases the negative downward spiral.

Practice: There are so many ways we can get creative, and they all involve play: start journaling and play with words; get some oil pastels and play with color; go outside, garden, and play in the dirt; learn an instrument, dance, and play with music; cook and play with spices. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. The only important thing is to allow ourselves to connect with our own creativity.

The next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral, use these seven tools to tackle those limiting beliefs, and transform them so that they are supportive rather than destructive.

I want to close with a wonderful video clip with Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff, appropriately entitled: ‘How to Stop Negative Self Talk.’

 

I’d love to hear about how you get your inner critic to shut up.  We all need as much help as possible with that negative committee! And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

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Quick Scan on Health

“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen”
― Shakti Gawain

Do you listen to your body?  Most of us don’t, I know I often don’t.  I push myself to do one more thing when my body is sagging or to run one more errand before I stop to eat.  But more importantly, do you listen and work on healing at a deep level.

Science has proven time and again that we can heal ourselves, but sometimes it takes focus and effort. For the most part, the body naturally heals itself. Dr. Lorraine Day wrote an excellent article about our body’s amazing ability to heal itself.

Deepak Chopra has a wonderful article about self-healing on Oprah.com.  Deepak Chopra has been a great proponent of self-healing for decades.  In the article Chopra advises:

Is there a way for each person to influence his body consciously? We do this all the time, of course. You can’t lift a finger, throw a baseball or drive a car without translating a mental intention into a physical response. But when it comes to disease symptoms, the mind-body connection feels weak or nonexistent. Every sick person wants to get well. How can the mind help?

There are four conditions that would insure a stronger mind-body connection during illness, and all are inter-connected:

  • The mind contributes to getting well.
  • The mind doesn’t contribute to getting sick.
  • The body is in constant communication with the mind.
  • This communication benefits both the physical and mental aspects of being well.

I believe there is a way to stay in a healthier state by using what I call The Quick Scan for Health.  I discuss this in my book:  This Way Up:  Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life.  I have also made a video modeling this exercise.  To be honest, I feel very vulnerable and exposed putting this on video, it is something I use daily, but only when I’m alone!  So putting it out there in such a public way is rather intimidating.  But I believe in it, and people have asked for help doing the exercises in the book, so here it is.

 

 

I would really love to hear how this was for you and if you have any comments about it.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Live Life Fearlessly!

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

– Rabindranath Tagore

The importance of love – and remember to love yourself first;  Live life fearlessly; and remember love keeps you safer than fear does. What wonderful messages.

I have been preparing for my book launch, so sending out short writing pieces about finding purpose after feeling purposeless; about empty nest and other major life transitions; and a lot about the Seven Tools from my book, This Way Up as I get closer to my book launch date (pssst it’s on April 26th if you didn’t know!  You can order it now on Amazon)

I talk about the concept of finding purpose, about love being stronger than fear and about living fearlessly to just about anyone who will listen.  So I was quite thrilled when my friend Jayne sent me the link to a TED Talk called Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani.  Anita went into a coma and almost died – and now thanks the cancer which riddled her body for saving her life.  Moorjani states it was that near death experience which taught her the meaning of life.  Moojani explains that what we focus on, what we pay attention to is what our life reflects.

She states that the five main lessons she learned from that experience are:

  1. The main thing we should be focusing on is Love.  And it is vital to love ourselves first.
  2. Live Life Fearlessly (and remember love keeps you much safer than fear does!)
  3. Focus on humor, laughter and joy
  4. Life is a gift.  Live each day as a gift.
  5. Always be yourself. Be the best You that You can be.

I think this TED talk is amazingly inspiring.  Thank you Jayne for sending me the link – and thank you all for watching it.  I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

 

 

I’d love to hear about ways that you life fearlessly.  And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

This Way Up, The Website!

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy

― Marcel Proust


I am so incredibly grateful to my son Lukas! He makes me very happy.

It’s an exciting time.  I saw/heard a message when I was meditating 2 days ago:

Envision what you want, do what needs to be done to set it up and step into the life you’ve created.

That’s exactly what it feels like I am doing at the moment. Now that my book is written, I am getting it out there. Lukas has built a beautiful website; I’ve had business cards made with the website and new email address; I’m setting up speaking and book events and I’m stepping into the life I’ve created.

Suffice it to say that at 58 (my birthday was yesterday!), building a brand new website, although not completely impossible for me, would be way way beyond my skill set.  As a matter of fact, most of the stuff going on in my life is way outside my comfort zone; I’m on a steep learning curve!

Please take some time and visit the new website; it’s crisp and clean and colorful and creative. It’s called:

This Way Up Book (www.thiswayupbook.com)

I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can comment on it here or on that website’s comment page.  I’ll be keeping workshops and events for the book updated there. So visit often!

I’ll close with a wonderful video about gratitude – because I’m sure feeling grateful today!

Discover the three keys of gratitude to unlock your happiest life!

Neuroplasticity – Retraining our brain to get rid of bad habits

“What were once vices are now habits.”

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133182.html#cRzVZOHjpM8tGpjB.99

The Doobie Brothers


Habits are hard to break, but understanding how they are created in our brain is the first step in breaking them.

No one likes having bad habits – smoking, over-eating, drinking too much – they are often expensive and usually bad for our health.

*I know there is a lot more to smoking  than just the habitual behaviors. Cigarettes are filled with chemicals that serve no other purpose than to addict the smoker. And I’m well aware of the fact that alcoholism is not a habitual behavior. But I’m talking about habits here, not addiction.

In terms of habits, think of it like walking in a virgin rainforest. The first time something is done, it’s like cutting through the rainforest with a machete. The more you perform this act, the more you are clearing the path. And after awhile, the neural pathway you’ve forged becomes easier to navigate, more like an open road. The more often it is traveled, the better the pathway. And this is great news when you are learning a new language or a new skill, the more often it is practiced, the better it gets.

What’s not so great is when this big neural pathway is associated with a habit you want to break, and the repetition of this bad habit keeps making it more entrenched. If each time you turn the key to start the car, you also light up a cigarette, the brain associates these actions together, and they become part of the same neural pathway. The bad news is that the longer you have done this, the more entrenched is this habit.

But the good news is that our brains are not static. Research about neuroplasticity is showing us that our brains can definitely change. We can rewire our brains and get rid of bad habits forever. We can all learn new behaviors and attitudes and transform our lives.

I’m not saying it’s easy to get rid of bad habits. But I am saying that it is possible. There are powerful ways that we can retrain our brain, and with practice rid ourselves of entrenched habits that we want to change.

Marilyn Gordon wrote a good article about training your brain to get rid of bad habits.  Each of the 10 steps deserves to be explored on it’s own, so I plan to dwell on each point individually in my next few posts.

She outlines the 10 steps as:

1. Identify the habit you’d like to transform and set the intention.

2. Observe what the old habit or pathway is doing in your life.

3. Shift your focus.

4. Use your imagination.

5. Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.

6. Use aversion therapy.

7.  Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.

8. Transform the obstacles.

9. Connect with your Higher Source for inspiration and support.

10. Transform and make the shift.

I’ll close with a great talk, held at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, by Rick Hanson about Neuroplasticity.

 

I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

Your Brain on Meditation Again

“To meditate with mindful breathing is to bring body and mind back to the present moment so that you do not miss your appointment with life.”

– Thích Nhất Hạnh


I love how the universe works!  After posting my last post, Your Brain on Meditation, I vowed to meditate everyday for at least 10 minutes a day through the month of March.  Less than 15 minutes later I randomly found this amazing site:

Headspace

Find out how to meditate, feel happier, sleep better and beat stress. It’s as easy as signing up, sitting down, and pressing play. Then just sit back and relax as Andy guides you through a simple process making it easy to learn how to meditate. Research has shown that brain activity begins to change within just a few days of learning to meditate decreasing stress and improving your mood.  Log in online or through  Headspace-on-the-go App  and get your Headspace how you like it – anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

So I downloaded this app onto my phone, and Voila, it not only reminds me to meditate for 10 minutes everyday, but it leads me through a slow, relaxing exercise using my breath.  And it’s Andy Puddicombe leading the meditation – he has a lovely voice.

Wow!  Just like that.  Ask and it is given.  I love it.  But I  have to remember to Pay Attention.  As I mention in the 7 Tools – I can send out the information I want to attract to me, but I have to be open and remember to pay attention to the inspiration and information that comes back to me.  And it often comes back in very random ways.  

Headspace is a great site and a great app.  Do try it – it’s free and it’s incredibly helpful if you’re looking for ways to be more mindful.

I’ll close with Andy Puddicombe explaining Headspace on another very cool site called Do Lectures.

 

 

Let me know what you think of Headspace, and thank you for taking the time to stop by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Beliefs – Limiting or Empowering?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
your thoughts become your words,
your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits,
your habits become your values,
your values become your destiny”

– Mahatma Gandhi


Are your beliefs limiting or empowering? Does your belief system enhance your life or constrict it? One way or the other, our beliefs drive our life. Because as Gandhi points out, our beliefs become our thoughts, and eventually our destiny.  But how do we really know what beliefs are driving us?  I was first introduced to the impact of my limiting beliefs when I did the Silva Method Course. We explored this concept by doing a very simple exercise, which I invite you all to do now. Get a pen and paper and write down the very first thing that pops into your head when you read the following phrases – don’t think about it, don’t edit, just write the very first word that comes to your mind:

  1. Life is . . . 
  2. Money is . . .
  3. Making money is . . .
  4. Time is . . .
  5. My health is . . .
  6. My body is . . .
  7. My love life is . . .
  8. I deserve . . .
  9. There is always too much . . .
  10. There is never enough . . .

OK, hopefully you have been totally honest and written down the first thing that came into your head.  Now look at it – what beliefs are driving your life?  Where did you get those beliefs? Louise Thompson talks a lot about beliefs and how they drive your life on her blog, Positive Balance.  She puts it simply:

“If at some deep level you believe there will never be enough: you are exactly right, and there never will be. If you believe deep down that life is hard then you will have a hard life. If you believe in miracles you will see miracles everywhere. If you believe life is a struggle then struggle you will.”

Most limiting beliefs come from childhood.  Either our parents or our teachers said something about life or about us and we accepted it completely.  And very possibly, we had many experiences as we grew up that “proved” that belief to be true.  But those beliefs do not have to continue to limit us.  We can choose to change limiting beliefs, but the first step is identifying them (thus the simple exercise above.)  There are literally thousands of sites that talk about eliminating  limiting beliefs, but they all agree that the first step has to be identifying what they are.

On the flip side is embracing empowering beliefs.  And to close I want to share a wonderful TED Talk by an amazing woman named Caroline Casey. Visit her blog, Kanchi, it is inspirational! Caroline Casey is a walking example of empowering beliefs.

“It’s extraordinaryhow far belief can take you . . . when you really believe in yourself and everything about you, it’s extraordinary what happens . . . being absolutely true to yourself is freedom.”

Please take the time to explore your own belief systems – and then take the time to watch this woman who can help us all embrace more empowering beliefs about ourselves.

 

 

I’d love to hear about your beliefs – are they limiting or empowering?  Do they make you happier or bring you down?  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

It makes my heart sing!


“To change the world, we need to combine Ancient Wisdom with new technologies”

– Paulo Coelho


I had an interesting talk with a participant on one of my workshops the other day.  She asked me what I liked about facilitating workshops, and I answered that when we have a good workshop It makes my heart sing and it nourishes my soul. Then I stopped and laughed when I heard my words.  And I realized how my words so described which “brains” I use when I facilitate workshops.  And when I later thought about how I feel when I teach a class, I realized that the words I would use to describe that experience would be more intellectually stimulating. Which of course brought to mind  mBraining. For those of you who missed my post on this wonderful book and website, check out Trusting Your Gut!

The idea that we have 3 brains is exciting, but also a challenge in a way.  It’s our challenge to integrate these 3 brains, and to pay attention how they work together. Anil K Rajvanshi, a writer in India puts it this way:

To produce deep thought which helps in improving the wellbeing of a person, the gut and heart brains must work together with the main brain. When all work harmoniously, it creates a healthy body and a powerful mind.

I think one way to start to meet that challenge of integration is to pay attention to our words.  How do we describe things and experiences.  Language is a wonderful way to hear where we are experiencing things in our body.  Do you speak of heart ache, do you live in your head, do you listen to your gut instincts?  Do you have butterflies in the stomach – which is as Michael Mosley points out:

 The brain in the stomach talking to the brain in your head. As we get nervous or fearful, blood gets diverted from our gut to our muscles and this is the stomach’s way of protesting.

I’d like to close with a fascinating TED Talk that my son Devin showed me the other day. It’s not really tied into the 3 brains, except that it made my heart sing, it was intellectually stimulating and nourished my soul.  Enjoy!
I’d love to hear what makes your heart sing and how you integrate your three brains.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

Trusting Your Gut!

“Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”

– Alan Alda


I just returned from a trip down to Dunedin to help get my son settled into his new flat.  It was a wonderful experience.  Incredibly busy, but really wonderful.  My favorite piece of the trip was our long, fantastic, heart-warming, intellectually-stimulating, emotionally-connecting dinner at Etrusco.  We spent 3 hours talking and sharing on such a rich and deep level.  It was one of the best nights of my life!

One of the many things we talked about was some new research that is out:  multiple Brain Integration Techniques (mBIT)

“The latest scientific research shows you have three brains!  You have complex and fully functional brains in your heart, your gut and your head.”

At 55 years old, I would have to say that the most important learning I have done in my life is learning to Trust My Gut!  I have learned that I have to leave the city of my comfort and go into the wilderness of my intuition, as Alan Alda so eloquently puts it, to truly live my life to the fullest.  The latest neuroscience findings about multiple brains and what they have to offer for increasing intuitive abilities, helping to make wiser decisions, and generally living a fuller more connected life seem to echo my experience.

Even Richard Branson, super successful businessman, has echoed this sentiment:

“I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.”

I think one of the great goals of life needs to be integrating these three intelligences. One of the things I have emphasized repeatedly to my own children is to learn to listen to their gut,  to pay attention to what their intuition is telling them.  School does a decent job of developing the intellect, the head brain.  But it sorely neglects the heart and the gut.  So as a mother, I want to nurture my sons understanding of integrating the three.

I want to close with a fabulous TED Talk by Mae Jemison. Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to go into space. She has become a voice for a new vision of learning that combines arts and sciences, intuition and logic.

 

I’d love to hear about your experiences with Trusting Your Gut, and how you integrate your three brains.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Intention!

“Our Intention Creates Our Reality.”

– Wayne Dyer


2013 already feels like a year filled with promise and positive power.  It feels tangible to me. It’s hard to describe, but energetically, things feel different.  Intentions and goals seem to be coming faster.  So now more than ever, it seems so incredibly important for all of us to pay attention to what we are putting out there.

Starting a new year always seems like a great time to start new routines.  I’ve been starting everyday, making at least 1 intention for the day before I get out of bed.  This has been made even easier by using Mallika Chopra‘s wonderful website: Intent.com.  It’s a great social media site that encourages you to set intentions, and then allows others to support you in your intentions.  Another fantastic website is Lynne McTaggart’s website – The Intention Experiment.  McTaggart is doing amazing stuff.  Well worth checking out her work.  A great interview on YouTube.

But it’s important to remember what Caroline Myss so aptly points out:

You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you’ll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless.

So I invite you to make some intentions today.  Go to intent.com and get them supported.  Then take action on them!  The time is now.  We can all start making a difference in this world, starting with our intentions.  Because remember, our intention creates our reality. 

I’ll end this post with Mallika’s father Deepak Chopra speaking on Awareness, Attention and Intention.

 

 

Please tell me about some of  your intentions and how you plan to take action.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.