While life follows a safe routine day-to-day, and I know what I’m doing and what’s likely to happen, I have a certain degree of security and an idea of who I am. However, life is currently changing, and we are not quite sure where it can end up or indeed, how it is going to look.
Without the pressure of work, regular family routines and other responsibilities we relax and start to engage in different activities. Some of these activities result in improved self-care and improved relationships.
There are three phases to time as we know it.
There is the past, the present and the future.
The past is what has happened, it is set in stone and you can’t change it. The present moment is the very moment that we are in now and then there is the future which basically hasn’t happened yet.
In the present, we can choose to make changes. We can’t change the future because it hasn’t happened yet and we can’t change the past because it’s set in stone so our power only exists in the present.
If you’re not happy with where you are in the present then you have to make a change in something to get a different result. You can look at the past and use the past as a lesson and determine what you had in the past is not what I want now. If you use your negative experiences to determine what you do want, you will be able to see what you need to do to effect change. This is a common approach to change. Some people, however, will look at the future and design how they want the future to look. This, in turn, shows them what needs to be done in the present to get that outcome. Either approach will work.
Using the past to motivate change is an act of moving away from pain. Using the future to motivate change is an act of moving towards pleasure. Moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure are the two great motivators for human beings.
The barrier to this working with any degree of success lies in our tendency to look back at the past and want to blame people have done things to us for our current situation or blame the Universe or God for whatever for what’s happened to us. By dwelling on this we get stuck back in the past where we cannot make any changes.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t feel pain about things that have happened to you and shouldn’t be really upset about things that happened to you because everyone’s got those things in their lives. What I am saying is if we allow ourselves to be bound back in the area of time in which we have no power because no changes can happen there, we become stuck. We must focus on the changes that we can make in the present in order to move forward.
As easy as this might sound, let’s be honest, it is not easy to make the decision that you are going to live from this point forward in order to see the change that you want. It takes effort not to focus back on the past, and this effort is easier when you have the support of others.
© Tracey Janke StartPoint Counselling 2019
07 3458 1725
Supporting Your Change
We are now a few days into 2019 so the enthusiasm of the start of the New Year is probably waning a little bit and the cold hard truth that this is just another year is starting to set in. Same old, same old. But you can change that if you want to.
If you want this to be a different year you need to take the first step and clearly define what you want in 2019. I don’t mean just some sort of general idea like I’d like to make more money or I’d like to be healthier. Those statements do not really define anything but rather indicate a general sort of direction.
The interesting thing is that people will not accept a general sort of direction in real life but when it comes to defining goals we seem to think it’s okay.
If I gave you a package and said deliver this to a town out west, you would think I was crazy because I am giving you a general direction only. Instead, in order to be able to complete the journey, you will require more detail such as which town, which street, what street number et cetera. So what I am suggesting to you is that when it comes to deciding what you want in 2019 you need to be more specific.
What do you want to see a change in your relationship or in your personal life? Once you write down the general idea, get specific. What exactly will it look like when you have it? Write as much detail as you possibly can because the detail is a key to achieving what you want. As you write the details you will also develop an emotional attachment to what you’re describing and that is another key to moving towards what you want.
So what do you want it 2019?
It is very difficult to arrive at a destination if you don’t know where you are going. If I gave you a box and asked you to deliver it to a town out west, you wouldn’t simply accept that. You would want to know more details including the name of the town, the street, the street number and to whom you were delivering.
However, when it comes to the things that we want in our relationships, we tend to use very vague or generic terms. Since these terms are not clearly defined we have no idea how to get there.
We are famous for such vague statements as “I want more money” without defining how much money. So if I give someone who says this five cents, then they have got more money. While they now have more money it certainly won’t be what they want.
Usually when I ask couples “what do you want in your relationship?” I get vague responses such as “I want to be happy”. What exactly does happy mean? What is happiness for one person is not happiness for another person. We need to have a clear vision of what makes up this happiness. We need to define what happiness means for us. Defining things takes effort to do, and that’s why most people shy away from it and settle for continuing to use vague terms. Unfortunately, without clearly defining what happiness is we are never going to move towards it nor achieve it.
Because many people struggle with answering this question in a clear and defined way, I use a technique with my clients called the miracle question. The Miracle question goes like this “if you went to sleep tonight and a miracle occurred overnight, and the next day you woke up, and your relationship is how you would like it to be, describe what you see which is different to what you’ve had in the past?” In other words, if you can imagine that everything is how you want it, what does it look like.
The miracle question can start to give you an idea of what you want in a relationship. Once you get a general idea, it is time to get specific.
Make a list of at least five things that you want in your relationship. It could look like this list.
For him to take the time to listen to me when I am upset and to be there for me without telling me to get over it
For us both to share household responsibilities at home
For us to spend time together talking each day without interruptions from mobile phones, kids and TVs.
For us both to have our own hobbies as well as joint hobbies
For us to plan activities that we will both enjoy
Now compare your list with your partner’s list. What do you have in common and what do you have that is different?
Plan to implement first those things that you have in common and then plan to implement those things that are important only to one of you. If it is important to one of you, then having that happen within the relationship will result in a happier relationship.
Deciding what you want is an important first step in making beneficial changes in your relationship. The next step is to be able to communicate your feelings and ideas around what you want. We’ll cover that in another tip.
© Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2018
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Often failure in life is blamed on a lack of willpower. There is, however, increasing evidence that what you “see” happening is what is holding you back.
Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
How often have you heard people say “I can’t imagine……… happening “
Most people struggle to imagine themselves as healthy or fit or anything else that they want. They apply willpower to achieve what they want but end up failing because they cannot achieve things that they cannot imagine themselves achieving. However, instead of realising what is happening, they blame a lack of willpower.
The problem is if you imagine something as impossible then it is impossible.
Emile Coue, (French psychologist ) said, ”when the imagination and the willpower are in conflict, it is always the imagination that wins, without exception.”
In other words, if you cannot imagine yourself as being successful, then willpower will not make you successful.
Emile Coue also said, “when the imagination and the willpower are harmoniously pulling in the same direction, irresistible force is the result.”
Willpower is defined as the ability to control your own thoughts and the way in which you behave:(Cambridge Dictionary)
Willpower is beneficial in the short term for resisting short-term temptations or desires to achieve long-term results.
Kelly McGonigal a health psychologist, a lecturer at Stanford University and the author of “The Willpower Instinct” sees willpower as being comprised of
- I won’t
- I will power.
- I want power (remembering what you want).
There is an increasing amount of research showing that resisting temptations depletes us mentally and as a result decreases our willpower.
How much willpower you have in a day is a finite amount, and that amount is dependent on a multitude of factors. For example, if you’re not feeling very well, tired or stressed you’ll have less than if you’re feeling rested and refreshed.
POWER OF IMAGINATION
Imagination is defined as: the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the creative ability to form images, ideas, and sensations in the mind without any immediate input of the senses (such as seeing or hearing). (Wikipedia)
Let us look at imagination and willpower in the world of a smoker. Logic says that smoking is detrimental and as a result, a person may be trying to stop smoking using willpower. However, during certain times of the day, something calls to them to smoke, and that call is coming from their imagination, and they submit. Subconsciously they are following the images embedded in their mind which are images of them smoking.
A person who has a weight issue will apply willpower to eat the right things but if they have an image of themselves as an overweight person that image will win and they will not lose weight.
If I have a metal plank that is 60 cm wide and 4 meters long and I place it on the floor and ask you to walk along it, you should not have a problem in doing that. If I then raise that plank to a height of 4 meters and asked you to repeat the action, you may be able to do it, but there may also be some hesitation as you start to imagine what would happen if you fell off. Now I raise it to a height of 10 meters. How do you feel about walking across it? More than likely your imagination about falling is way stronger than your willpower to walk across it.
Willpower is important but is given too much credit as being the total answer. Initially, the decision to make any change requires willpower. Once the movement towards change initiates, visualisation and imagination are the next two important components. Vividly imaged images draw us forward to the realisation of that which we imagine.
Visualisation is not about dreaming or hoping something will change. It is, however, a well-developed method of improving performance which is supported by scientific evidence and used by successful people such as athletes.
Neuroscience tells us that the brain can change based on what we often do. If we do something over and over again, it strengthens the neural connections relating to that behaviour meaning that it is more likely that it will continue to occur without a lot of effort. We know this as a habit.
To create a new neural pathway in the brain requires 21 to 30 days. That is 21 to 30 days of imagination and visualisation plus focusing on learning new information and exposing ourselves to new situations.
When we first learnt to drive a car, it was a series of steps that needed to be coordinated to achieve the goal. At first, these steps required focus and the sequence became imaged in our minds. With the application of imagination and experience, the brain over time created the neural pathway that now automates those steps. Now you can now get into a car and drive without thinking in detail about what you are doing.
The interesting thing is that imagination built through visualisation works because the neurons in our brains (building blocks of neural pathways) see imagery as equivalent to action that occurs in reality.
The following Universal Laws help us understand how the mind processes suggestions into a belief system.
These were formulated by a Physician Emile Coue in the 19th century.
The Law of Concentrated Attention
When you repeatedly concentrate on an idea, it tends to become true for you.
The Law of Reversed Effect
The more you think about not doing something the more you imagine yourself doing it and imagination will win.
The Law of Dominant Effect
Focusing on something is more effective when combined with strong emotion.
Human beings process information and retain information in combination with our five senses (seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling). The more that we associate sensual information with the thing that we imagine the stronger it becomes.
The brain cannot distinguish between imagined and real.
The building of neural pathways can be triggered, simply by imagining it happening.
Exercise to build a Vivid image in your imagination
- Decided what you want to accomplish and write it down.
- Close your eyes and imagine what it will look like (see) when you achieve it. Write it down.
- Write down what you are hearing
- Write down what you are feeling
- Write down what you are smelling
- Write down what you are tasting
- If you cannot list all five senses that is ok
- Refer back to what you have written several times a day and reimagine it
- Repeat for at least 30 days
The image needs to become very vivid in every detail. The image overtime will draw you towards the goal. The how just comes. It is not your job to work out how. It is your job to do and trust the process. Take whatever steps you are prompted to take.
As Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
The knowledge is what we are trying to grasp at when we focus on “how”. Focus on the imagination and follow the mental/intuitive prompts that follow.
(c) StartPoint Counselling 2018