Are you visualising success or failure?
Are you getting hooked into all the doom and gloom? – I started this year with a determination to be a ‘beacon of hope and inspiration' for those people I come in contact with – a fairly hefty determination, and one which was likely to bring me some challenges. By the time I had returned from New Zealand in April, I noticed that although my diary was still pretty full in terms of work, I started to get hooked into the doom and gloom that was pervading the country. I became particularly good at counting the number of empty shops in the high streets, and was particularly shocked when there were about eight in Henley-on-Thames! As my diary after July was looking quiet, I started to get into thinking, ‘Oh well, that is just how it is, perhaps there is no point in chasing around after work that is not there. I can spend my time productively working on my business doing all the things I don't normally have time to do.'
I then remembered my determination and also the fact that I had also set myself some pretty weighty targets for the business linked to the determination to continue to support my chosen charities throughout the recession. So after some inspiring reading, some belief changing exercises (and, as a Buddhist, some chanting) I decided to operate with the mindset that ‘everything and anything is possible', not to prejudge what might or might not happen in the future.
A few days later, having made this mental change, a school whom I did a pilot project for in February came back to me saying that they had got the grant to run more programmes next term. And various people have been in touch with me about coaching programmes.
Are you noticing the positive news and events or focussing on the negative things?
‘The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven' John Milton
The battle between negativity and positivity – Now some people are blessed through their genetic make up with a positive outlook on life whatever the circumstances. I am not one of those; I have to work at it. Since the school gave the go ahead for the workshops, swine flu has started to really take hold (I am writing this in July) and of course my negative self says, ‘Typical, the schools will be closed and I won't be able to do the work'. So, like many people, staying positive is sometimes a day to day battle and I wanted to share with you some of the techniques I use to win the battle.
What I do also seems to be backed up by a book I am reading called ‘The Happiness Hypothesis' by Jonathan Haidt (more about his findings in later editions of Inspire). He bases the book on scientific research and says that those people who have lost out in terms of the ‘happiness gene' can overcome it by meditation, cognitive therapy (similar to CBT) or Prozac, for more extreme cases! Being a Buddhist who chants rather than meditates I know the positive power of that, and many of the exercises my clients and I use are linked to, or similar to those, in cognitive therapy. I've never tried Prozac or anything similar but do know many people who have benefited from anti-depressants. They have been helped to get over the hump of whatever challenges they are facing, raising their spirits enough so that they can tackle the situation in a more positive way.
So what follows are a few of the things that I do….
What techniques do you use to fight negativity in yourself?
Visualising success – Firstly you need to know what you are aiming for in very specific and positive terms. Creating a Well Formed Outcome is useful to do (click here to email me for a copy of the exercise) and/or do a collage of how you want your life or this year to pan out. Then you need to actually visualise success. I've decided that every day I will spend sometime visualising what success will look, sound and feel like over the next 6 months. In terms of the work I will be doing, some of it is known. The rest of it, I will just picture myself running training programmes, in meetings with new clients, coaching people and getting the 101 things I want to get done to improve my business. Plus, all the things I want to do out of work. For the visualisation exercise click here and I will send you a free copy.
What will success look, sound and feel like for you in your life?
‘When you clearly envision the outcome of victory, engrave it upon your heart, and are firmly convinced that you will attain it. Your brain makes every effort to realise the mental image you have created. And then through your increasing efforts, that victory is finally made a reality.' The Road to Victory Daisaku Ikeda
Be ruthless with negative beliefs – If you are starting to feel down, fed up or hopeless the likelihood is that you will be thinking negative thoughts linked to limiting beliefs. However, we don't need to surrender to these negative beliefs. Instead, we can create new, more empowering and helpful beliefs that will drive our thoughts, feelings and behaviour in a positive direction. See page 160 in my book for a belief change exercise or click here to email me for a copy of the exercise. So, for me, having the belief that ‘everything and anything is possible' leads me to act in a more positive direction. One of the impacts of being more positive is that I am now noticing shops and restaurants on high streets that are bucking the trend. I've seen many examples of restaurants and cafes thriving by continuing to offer excellent produce and service.
Is there something that you feel negative or worry about, what are your beliefs around this? If they are limiting and unhelpful, what might be a more empowering belief to have?
‘The only limits you have are the limits you believe. If you believe it will work out, you'll see opportunities. If you believe it won't, you'll see obstacles.' Dr Wayne W Dyer
Keep a journal – One way of becoming more aware of your inner dialogue and any negative thinking and beliefs is to start to keep a journal or even write ‘morning pages' as advocated by Julia Cameron in the Artist's Way. She suggests each morning to write three pages of whatever comes to mind, in terms of your thoughts and feelings. For me, writing a journal on an almost daily basis helps me to listen to myself, be aware of any negative thoughts and feelings before they spiral out of control, then I can take some positive action to transform how I think and feel.
Meditation does not have to be linked to religion – Many people assume you have to be a Buddhist to meditate and that all Buddhists meditate! But there are many people who meditate who follow no religion. One of my colleagues practises Transcendental Meditation or TM every day and finds it very beneficial (click here to go through to the website for Transcendental Meditation). Jonathan Haidt in his book says:
‘Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust: it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It is meditation.'
Jonathan is a psychology professor and bases everything in his book on modern day scientific research.
For me, taking time each day out of the hurly burly to focus on my Buddhist practice of chanting enables me to be aware of what is going on in my head and helps me to stop focussing on my fears and negativity coming from my small self and strive to connect with my wiser self. I don't usually talk about my Buddhist practice in a work context, as being a Chartered Occupational Psychologist it is not really appropriate. However, a friend who attended the New Zealand launch of my book said she was surprised I had not mentioned it as it is a big part of my life. I suppose us Brits are reluctant to talk about religion. If you are interested in finding out more do get in touch with me or visit www.sgi-uk.org to find out more about the Buddhism I follow (there are many different types).
How can you find 5 or 10 minutes each day to quieten yourself? Where is the best place to do this?
‘Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.' Norman Vincent Peale
Coaching support or in-house training. For more information about how we can assist you or to discuss anything in confidence please call Melanie on 01865 377334 or click here to email. For more information about Grovelands visit our website by clicking here.