What’s In Your Head?

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As you know, I am now nearly two months into my new life.

It sounds weird saying that, but that’s how I see it.

I have changed!

 

 

There are so many things that I am doing differently:

  • Eating a healthy vegan diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Stopped drinking and smoking
  • Meditating every day
  • Writing a book

That’s not bad for 8 weeks.  I’m pretty proud of myself and I still actually reach over my shoulder and give myself a solid pat on the back every day. (I really do!)

But, the most fundamental change is not the things I am DOING (although they are very important!)…

…it is how I am THINKING that has had the biggest impact.

How do I know that?

Quit simply, I have tried before to make changes in my life.  Usually on January 1st! LOL 😉 And every time, I managed around ten days before I would get disheartened and fall back on my old ways.

Sound familiar?  I’m sure many people have had that very experience – possibly many times.

The difference this time is that as well as doing the right things, I am also thinking the right thoughts.  That might sound like some form of self-indoctrination to you?

It is!

I was very suspicious of this at the start, but I had heard so many stories of people getting dramatic results from following these approaches, that I thought I’d have to have a closer look.  After all, just trying hard to do the right things obviously hadn’t been enough to change my life in the past.

So I decided to try something different…

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Now I am by not a real expert in this.  However, I do work in education and have a good background in research, psychology and human development, so I already understood some of the key principles behind NLP.

I started by reading “The Secrets of Being Happy” by Richard Bandler and Garner Thompson.  They are pioneers in NLP and I have to say that the book is a great read.

It has a good balance of the theory behind this approach and practical advice that you can follow to make changes in your life.

The main idea behind NLP is that our brains are plastic and we are able to reprogram them to have more useful thoughts.  This is something that I was sceptical about at first.  As a man in his 40s, I know how easy it is to get stuck in my ways and I assumed that my views and attitudes were firmly set.

It turns out I was wrong.

This is why I now know that change is not only possible, but now I understand how my mind works, it’s a conscious choice completely under my control.

That’s such an empowering thought!  The idea that we can simply will ourselves to think differently and then take consistent action to achieve that change is very encouraging.

The book really is excellent, and I am not going to give a detailed breakdown of everything in it.  But there are a number of activities that show you exactly how easy it is to alter your perspectives.

NLP in a Nut Shell

I had two big take-aways from reading this book and looking into NLP more broadly:

1). We can change our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and responses to be more positive and helpful to us.

This does not mean that we ignore the truth of a harsh, uncaring world and go through life like a grinning idiot, pretending that everything is fine and dandy.

It’s actually about not being blinded by preconceptions, past experiences, fear of the future, ingrained faulty beliefs and cultural programming.

2). The language we use not only demonstrates our thoughts and beliefs, it actually helps CREATE them.

This has had them most profound impact on me.  I am now constantly monitoring the words I use when I speak to people.  Am I being positive?  Do my words show confidence and an expectation of success?

But it’s not only the words I speak to the world.  I am also carefully monitoring the words I use in my thoughts.  I’m sure we all have some sort of ongoing internal monologue that acts as a running commentary on the world.

What My Brain Used To Tell Me

“What is he doing?  I don’t trust him.  He must be trying to cheat me.  I always get cheated by other people because the world is uncaring and evil.  There’s no point me trying to do that, because I’m no good at this.  I will just fail and every one will laugh at me.  There’s no point in doing that.  There’s no point in doing anything.  It’s all just a pointless waste of time.  I’m bored.  I don’t know what I’m doing here etc…”

Sound familiar?  I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has moments like this.  Not every day, but variations on that theme played out in my head fairly regularly.

I’m not saying that I never have these thoughts now.  But the thing is, I now notice when I do have negative and unhelpful thoughts and I use strategies to question my assumptions which help me to realise how negative and inaccurate much of my thinking had become.

I try to build spirals of upward positivity now – I take action, get some good results, feel better and more confident, take more action and feel even more confident etc.

So What’s My Head Saying To Myself Now?

“I am making real progress and I feel proud about that.  Making a real effort to change is a challenge, but I am rising to it and showing real grit and determination.  Pro-actively changing my life is making me feel truly alive, engaged and I have motivation and genuine hope for the future.  I will succeed because I am doing the right things and thinking the right thoughts.  I like being me again and life is good!”

I’m sure you see the difference.  The interesting thing from my education perspective, is that both monologues adopt some linguistic tricks that help support their arguments.  You will see logical connectives like ‘because’.  Half the battle is noticing both WHAT you are saying as well as HOW you are saying it.

If we use language to persuade ourselves of our point of view, then surely it’s best to choose a good point of view?  I don’t see that as any kind of negative indoctrination at all.  It’s just about being aware of what we are thinking and saying and choosing to think and speak more helpfully.

 

I hope that helps to give you a taste of NLP and its benefits. Now check out the book!

Cheers for now,

Tony

It only takes a pebble…

I’ve definitely got it now and I don’t want to lose it….

Momentum!Avalanche

I have been trying to live a new life this year and it has not been easy.  The first couple of weeks were particularly tricky.  Any change will always be met by resistance – your old habits are very dogged and refuse to lie down quietly!

On the other hand, you usually get by in the early days of any change because you have that first flush of genuine enthusiasm keeping you strong.  The sheer novelty of your new life is intoxicating and helps to keep you going.

Complacency Alert!

I suppose the real danger period is when you start to get complacent!  I am six weeks in to this new way of living, and it has almost become easy.

I say ‘almost’ because I know from past experience that once I think something is easy and mundane, that I am likely to stop concentrating and fall back on the old me.

This time I am determined to keep going.  I must stick to my plans as they are bringing me closer to my goals every day.  I am feeling much better, I’ve lost over 20lbs in weight, I’m sleeping better and I’m concentrating and focusing on my work like a laser!

These successes certainly help me climb a positive spiral – success leads to more motivation which leads to more success, which leads to…and so on…

Talk Nicely To Myself

I now use more powerfully positive language with myself, and that really helps.  In the past I would have said ‘I should try to lose weight’. Now I declare ‘I must continue to follow my system and then I will get closer to the strong, slim body I need’.

I’m sure you spotted the difference.  The first sentence is so half-hearted and pathetically hopeful.  Whereas the second is clear, positive and focused on what I want to gain, not what I want to lose.

This improved thinking is also helping to keep me on the right path, and that, too, leads to greater and greater levels of motivation.

I’ve Said It Out Loud Now

The other thing that has really kept me moving forwards is accountability.  The fact that I know each week that I have to write a blog post on here and tell people what I have been up to really keeps me focused on what I must do.

There is no hiding place.  I can’t say to myself ‘Tony, you’ve done well, so you deserve a break now and some beer, cheese and a day slobbing-out on the sofa.’  It’s not that you are going to judge me, it’s just that I have told people I will do this, and I so I feel I have to follow it through.

Over 300 different people have visited my blog in the first month and 3000 people like my Facebook page, so that is real to me!  I have to stick to what I said because I have ‘said it out loud’.

Honestly, I think you can get the same feeling from telling close friends and family (assuming they are supportive and empathetic!)  But I am glad so many people are interested in my journey. :-)

Keep The Ball Rolling

Anyone who has pushed a large object knows that the first inch is the hardest.  You need to put everything in to just get it to budge at all.  But, once it starts going it is reasonably easy to keep the momentum going.  And that’s how I feel now!

Here are three of the things I have found so far that have really helped me stay motivated and determined to meet my goals.  I hope they help you too!

1. Read inspiring books

I have been reading Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard.  Hearing from someone else who has faced struggles and succeeded is an excellent way to keep you on your own path to success.

2. Keep your compelling vision at the front of your mind

No matter how hard things get, if you have a very clear and totally compelling vision of the life you want to live, then you will allow nothing to get in your way.

3. Relax and reflect

I still get an ‘itch’ to have a glass of wine or a cigarette, but I know that if I say ‘Only one wont hurt, surely?’ I will be back where I started in no time.  So I ‘switch off’ and go for a walk or listen to some calming classical music.  And it works!

Probably the single most motivating thing I have found is sheer bloody-mindedness.  I want to show anyone in my life who has ever doubted me that I damn well can do it!  This means that every time I succeed, I give myself a real pat on the back (over my shoulder! :-) ) and tell myself that I am that little bit closer to showing everyone!

I hope this helps you to keep motivated on your own journey.  Have a wonderful week and remember that even a single pebble can build to an avalanche.  Get out there and build your own momentum to change your life!

Cheers for now,

Tony

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Why saying ‘Thank You’ is so much more than just polite

Depositphotos_22035805_sThere are two reasons I want to thank you!

First, I want to say a big thank you to all those people who liked, shared and re-tweeted my last post about some of the problems with the self-improvement industry.  I also enjoyed receiving your emails and comments too.  It seems that I did manage to connect with something that many people are feeling.

The danger of writing a blog post like Why Is Self-Improvement Total BS? is that it can come across as a negative rant.  As I’m trying to improve myself and develop as a human, I was worried that this would be unhelpful as I would be focusing on a negative.

But… I feel very strongly that I want my development to be real and genuine and not just me ‘brainwashing’ myself into a relentlessly positive and upbeat robot that is incapable of having passionately held beliefs.

That’s why I don’t think it was a negative post (and thankfully, most of you seem to agree!).  If we look honestly at the world and find things that we don’t like then we have three options:

1. Ignore it  (…and carry on.  The ‘That’s Life!  Get over it!’ response)

2. Avoid it   (find alternative solutions or ways around the problem)

3. Change it

In the case of self-improvement, I can’t really do Option 1 (to be honest, I don’t like this option in most cases as it feels like you are giving in and living in someone else’s world)

So, I hope that my article is a mixture of Options 2 and 3.  I am committed to changing my life and working consistently and persistently on developing myself, so the fact that there are a lot of people out there who are only interested in getting you to open your wallet is an issue for me. So I chose to share that with others because I hoped they would have the same thoughts.  And it turned out, you did!

Anyway…

Back to ‘Thank You’

With that said, this week I have found a great way to feel incredibly positive and genuinely content and I really want to share it with you.

I have found the power of Gratitude.

You may have already heard somebody say something along the lines of ‘You need to be grateful for all you have in your life’?

So had I.  And like me, I’m guessing you too had a similar thought:  ‘Yeah right!  Sure!  I’m grateful, okay?  Can you tell me something that might actually be useful now?’

But I have been reading Brendon Burchard’s awesome book “Motivation Manifesto” and he believes 100% in the power of saying ‘thank you’.  This is not just about being polite, although that is definitely a totally cool way to behave!

It is about realising how blessed we are, no matter what our circumstances.  You can have lots of areas of your life that you want to change, but it will help you hugely to spend some time reflecting on the things you are currently happy about in your life (however few things that might seem!)

Or realising that you should be happy about a lot more than you are.  This doesn’t mean ‘settling’ for a second-rate life at all.

The idea is that you switch your perspective from one of deficit to one of abundance.

You stop focusing on what you DON’T have and CAN’T do and switch to what you ALREADY have!

It’s a subtle switch in both how you see yourself and what you expect in the future.

I really have started seeing things from a much more positive and thankful point of view.  I know how lucky I am to be alive, how lucky I am to have the skills, family, friends and opportunities that I enjoy.

And this gives me a sense of control, power, joy and happiness that makes be believe I can do anything.

Seriously…just try this out for 5 minutes every day for the next week and come back and tell me how you feel:

 

List all the things you are grateful for in your life

 

‘Is that it?’ you might be asking.  It sounds such a pointless and hippy, psycho-babble, happy-clappy waste of time.

 

How could that POSSIBLY work?

 

Here’s how…

We spend our lives worrying about what has gone wrong and what might go wrong and this means that so much of energy is wasted on fear, anxiety, regret and paranoia.  So much so, that we end up missing out on many genuinely golden opportunities because our minds are closed to them.

In many ways, we are living in a Defence mode rather than a Growth mode.

We are so worried about LOSING things (possessions, people, status etc) that we forget to look for opportunities to GAIN.

So, seriously…give it a try.  You might be surprised!

 

These prompts might help you:

 

What skills and knowledge do I have that I feel grateful for?

What experiences and opportunities have I had that I really enjoyed?

What people (family, friends and colleagues) do I know who make my life better?

What aspects of my health/fitness make me feel strong and happy?

What little things do I do every day that make me smile?

 

The idea is that just five minutes a day will reboot your mind into a much more positive frame.  You will be seeing things from a better and clearer perspective.  New possibilities will seem to present themselves, which is another way of saying that you will be spotting things that were already there, but you had forgotten to look for!

Give it a go!

And please let me know how you got on.  Comment below, ‘Like’, ‘Share’ and email me at Tony@rebootingme.com with any questions.

Cheers for now,

 

Tony

 

P.S. – The second reason to thank you?  Well…I am really grateful for you taking the time to read this.

It means so much to me!

Why is Self-Improvement total BS?

Now that might strike you as harsh or unfair?Very surprised screaming housewife

Please hear me out.  ‘Cause it makes me feel like she does  ==============>

You see, I think that there is a whole army of self-obsessed, patronising and pretty horrible people out there who don’t care about you, your problems or how you can solve them.  They just pretend they do.

They only care about selling you some false hope, just enough to keep you hooked as a Self-Improvement Junkie.  They only want you to keep coming back for more, more, more!

On the other hand, I honestly do believe that there are genuine, real and positive people out there who are motivated by helping you to be your best.  There are some awesome people in the self-development world and they make it all feel worthwhile.

People like Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins and Danielle Laporte are truly inspirational, but I think that’s because they are into Self-Improvement FIRST and are marketers SECOND.  And that’s the way it should be, if you ask me.

I have no problem at all with someone who is genuine, real and has knowledge and wisdom to share, doing just that. I know that they will need to hype up their products and services a little to get our attention.  That’s absolutely fine.  It’s when you know you are just getting some empty platitudes wrapped in some marketing BS hype that I start to get cross!

(I know I should accept the things I can’t change with grace, but honestly…ARGHHH!)

I hope that you don’t see this as just someone whining in a negative way (If you do, then see point 2 below).  I really am pushing myself forward in my life and taking action, but some of the crap I’ve seen out there just makes me MAD!!

(Although I do try to rise above it all and remain calm and serene :-) )

So…here are my Top Five Self-Improvement BS Detectors!

Keep your nose primed to sniff these out, and uncover their horrible stench before they sap your positivity.

1. It’s All Your Fault

This is a classic.  I’m all for people taking responsibility for their lives and owning their own mistakes as well as their success (or lack of it).  That’s a really powerful way to take-back the sense of power that so many people have lost in their life.  You can then start taking purposeful action to achieve your OWN goals.  That’s just dandy!

But…when you have tried everything that the self-appointed Self-Improvement Guru suggests and none of it has worked, then is it really your fault?  It is quite convenient that some Self-Improvement programs come with in-built terms and conditions which basically say; “If you use our product and it doesn’t work, then it’s your own lack of positivity that caused it to fail, despite ‘developing your positivity’ being one of the things we sold you.”

2. You Just Need To Be Positive

This one is definitely linked to the first.  If only you are positive enough then you will make huge progress!  Again, I have no problem with the power of positive thinking and I agree that upward spirals of positive thinking, leading to positive action, leading to more positive thinking etc can really work.

But…if a Self-Improvement Guru tells you that it is just down to positive thinking and nothing else then you should just laugh and find another mentor.  That is complete crap!  If wishes alone were enough, then I would look like George Clooney.

Positive thinking and creating your dream life will only take you half way.  It will give you clarity and vision, but it won’t manifest what you want into the world.  You also need to take CONSISTENT ACTION to actually achieve your goals.  Even then, you are limited to some extent by nature, however hard you try.  That is not simply a ‘limiting belief’, but just a recognition of reality.  Sure, you can develop much further than you ever thought possible, but there are limits.  Don’t fall for the easy ‘think your way to _____’ BS!

3. How To Get A Job By Mr. Unemployed

One of most annoying things is being told how to do something by someone who hasn’t done it themselves.  ‘How to Get Rich’ by A. Bum etc.  If someone hasn’t had results doing the thing they are selling, then what makes you think that you will?  This is another example of someone understanding the marketing ‘trigger’ words to get you to buy, but having no real understanding or interest in the product they are trying to sell you.

Quite simply, you need to see their results and know that they actually understand and really care about what they are talking about.  And quite a few of them don’t!

4. Total Ecstasy in 1 Minute

Another BS marketing approach that some so-called experts take.  They promise to take the thing that you have struggled with for all these years (weight loss, motivation, career success, financial freedom or whatever) and show you how to succeed to the max in a ridiculously short time.

Wow!  They must really know what it takes to be able to sort my life out that quickly, without any effort and in no time at all!  Or…are they just selling me an easy, no-effort-required dream that will make me feel warm and fluffy with excitement as I hand over my money, but leave me empty, cheated and $50 poorer?

The reality is that any real change takes effort, commitment and determination and there are very few Super-Fast Success Short Cuts at a special introductory price that will ‘turn your life around’.

5. You Need Me To Tell You To Think For Yourself

The last way to tell if you are being fed some Self-Improvement BS is to look at how you are being coached.  Often the Self-Improvement Guru will tell you that YOU must think for yourself and start to take responsibility (See Point 1).  At the same time, they will also say that only THEY can help you to solve your problems.

So, who should you listen to?  Yourself? (because you are taking responsibility and ownership of you own development) or the Guru? (who knows exactly what you need to do – including taking responsibility for yourself)

Ouuuccchhhh!  My head hurts now!

Okay…I do realise that it is possible to understand that someone else might need to advise you to think for yourself.  It’s just an example of the kind of deliberate ‘mystical’ uncertainty that some of these Gurus use to keep us confused.

Why would they do that?

So you accept their authority without question and continue buying their products?  Could be!

Now, as I said earlier, there are many genuinely inspiring Self-Improvement coaches and mentors out there and I really don’t think that all Self-Improvement is BS.  But, hopefully you will agree with me that some of it is.

Keep an eye out (or a nose, I suppose?!) for the BS Detectors above and just stick to the good stuff!

Or buy my “How to spot Self-Improvement BS and Feel Like a God in 5 Seconds” Mega-Course which is available for a limited time only for $10,000 😉

Cheers for now,

Tony

Please comment on your own experience of Self-Improvement BS and share this article on social media.

I’d LOVE to hear what you think! Thanks :-)

(Even if you just think that there’s nothing we can do about it…but that’ll just be your negativity talking 😉 )