Let me begin by saying Hypnotherapy is not a type of therapy in itself. However, it is a great aid to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy, which combines hypnosis with cognitive-behavioral therapy, helps change unwanted patterns and behaviors by connecting with the subconscious mind. It helps with psychotherapy because the hypnotic state allows a person to explore more painful thoughts and feelings that may be hidden from the conscious mind.
The positive suggestions that people are given while hypnotized are referred to as “post hypnotic suggestions” because they are intended to take effect after the person emerges from the deep relaxation or trance and is no longer under hypnosis.
Experts say that hypnotherapy can help the "stuck" thought patterns that go along with depression, anxiety, OCD, and other mood disorders.
The fact is, however, that hypnosis is a genuine psychological phenomenon that has valid uses in clinical practice. Simply put, hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention or concentration, often associated with relaxation, and heightened suggestibility. While under hypnosis, it seems many people are much more open to helpful suggestions than they usually are.
"Hypnosis works and the empirical support is unequivocal in that regard. It really does help people," says Michael Yapko, PhD, a psychologist and fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Hypnosis has been used for centuries for pain control, including during the Civil War when Army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers before amputations. Recent studies have confirmed its effectiveness as a tool to reduce pain. Among the leading researchers in the field is Guy H. Montgomery, PhD, a psychologist who has conducted extensive research on hypnosis and pain management at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he is director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program.
In a 2009 article in Health Psychology (Vol. 28, No. 3), Montgomery and colleagues reported on a study, which found that a combination of hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy could reduce fatigue for breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
Hypnotherapy is a safe procedure when done by a trained therapist. Hypnotherapy is not mind control or brainwashing.
Hypnotherapy is specifically designed to fit your needs. This means that each hypnotherapy session is designed for just you and allows for a very individualized approach. The reason that hypnotherapy can be so effective is because it is so person centered. If you have tried other treatments and not seen results, you should give hypnotherapy a try due to the fact that it is so person centered.
Check with your insurance company to see if they specifically cover hypnotherapy.
I am a certified Master Hypnotist so if you are interested in Hypnotherapy please feel free to reach out to me. We can discuss, during an initial phone call, if this is something that may benefit you.
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and certified Master Hypnotist who provides psychotherapy and hypnotherapy services at her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth and ptsd. Her website address is LizBirchTherapist.com.
We've just ended another holiday season. This is a time where, instead of joy, you may have been forced to be with family members you wished you didn't have to be with. You might have been present out of a feeling of obligation.
Instead of "how are you?", "I'm so glad to see you... tell me about your successes", did you find yourself subject to criticism, as usual? Is there one person who always finds fault in what you do? Is that person your parent?
Toxic people prey on others. They dominate and control, disregard your needs and feelings. They focus on themselves and don’t seem interested in you at all. They seem to see other people as tools instead of whole, autonomous beings. They look to take energy from others because they lack their own vital energy. Toxic people drain you! They create drama and chaos but they don’t see that this is what they are doing. They are the person who walks into a room and others will leave or walk away to avoid them.
Toxic people not only are taking energy, but they are also throwing their own pain and raw emotions onto everyone they interact with. This is because they lack the capacity to deal with the severity of a trauma that may have occurred in early childhood that caused them to have a worldview that people are out to harm them. Because of this view, that others are out to harm them, they have problems connecting with others.
Toxic people don’t appreciate you, so they don’t want you to appreciate yourself, either. They need you to ignore your own needs and desires so you can devote all your time to them. They use intimidation to keep you down, which means keeping you from living your truth.
But what if this toxic person is your parent? This is the person who is meant to love you, hold you, and take the sharp edges off the world, while teaching you with love, wisdom and warmth how to do it for yourself. There is a different kind of hurt that can only come from a toxic parent – someone who is meant to love you. It’s a hurt that affects you to the core.
Nobody is perfect, including our parents, but there is a point at which imperfect becomes destructive, taking away from children the love, warmth and nurturing they deserve and require and replacing it with something awful.
When children are raised on a diet of criticism, judgment, abuse and loathing, it’s only a matter of time before they take over from those parents, delivering with full force to themselves the toxic lashings that have been delivered to them.
A toxic parent has a long list of weapons, but all come under the banner of neglect or emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Toxic parents lie, manipulate, ignore, judge, abuse, shame, humiliate and criticize. Nothing is ever good enough. You get on the Junior Varsity team but they don’t understand why you didn’t make Varsity. You get elected as your class Secretary but they don’t understand why did didn’t go for and get elected as class President. You get an A in math but they complain you should have gotten an A+. They’ll demean you then complain you’re a crybaby when you show you are hurt. The toxic parent shows no warmth, caring or security which is paramount in developing attachment in children.
Any negative behavior that causes emotional damage or contaminates the way a person sees himself or herself, is toxic. A toxic parent treats his or her children in such a way as to make those children doubt their importance, their worth, and that they are deserving of love, approval and validation. The truth is that you, like every other small person on the planet, deserved love, warmth, and to know how important you were. You’re not useless at life – you’ve bought in to the messages that were delivered by a parent too broken to realize what they were doing. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The good news in this regard is that:
In knowing all that, don’t wait for your parents to change, because it’s not likely going to happen. You have to become a fully autonomous person, completely responsible for your own life.
But you must be aware that you can’t change lifelong patterns overnight, no matter how self-defeating they may be. Emotional work on yourself can be pretty heavy, and thus it’s easy to start looking for excuses not to do it. In such cases, slowing down isn’t a problem. Just make sure you never stop.
How to heal from a toxic parent.
1. It’s okay to free yourself from a toxic parent.
This is such a difficult decision, but it could be one of the most important. We humans are wired to connect, even with people who don’t deserve to be connected to us. Sometimes though, the only way to stop the disease spreading is to cut it off. It doesn’t matter how much you love some people, they are broken to the point that they will only keep damaging you from the inside out. You’re not responsible for them or for the state of your relationships with them, and you are under no obligation to keep yourself being abused, belittled, shamed or humiliated. Healing starts with expecting more for yourself, and you’re the only person who can make that decision.
You must absolutely let go of the responsibility for the painful events of your childhood. You were in no way responsible for your parents’ toxic behavior.
You were in no way responsible for:
The toxic behavior is completely your parents’ responsibility. Even if no harmful intent existed, it’s the final result that counts.
2. It’s also okay to stay in a relationship with your toxic parent.
Don’t be harsh on yourself if you stay in the relationship. The act of returning to an abusive relationship can trigger self-loathing. ‘Why aren’t I strong enough?’ Know that loyalty is such an admirable trait, even if it gets in the way of your capacity to protect yourself. Own where you are and give yourself full permission to be there. Accept that for now, this is where you’re at, and fully experience what that’s like for you. You’ll never love yourself enough to change your expectations if you’re flogging yourself for not being strong enough. It takes tremendous strength to keep walking into a relationship that you know is going to hurt you. When you’re ready, you’ll make the move to do something differently. For now though, wherever you are is okay.
3. Be honest about the relationship.
If you’re going to stay, know that it’s okay to put a boundary between yourself and your parent. You can act from love and kindness if you want to – but don’t stay in the relationship unless you can accept that the love you deserve will never come back to you. If it were going to, it would have reached you by now. See their behavior for what it is – evidence of their breaks, not evidence of yours. Put a bubble around yourself and let their abuse bounce off. Love yourself and respect yourself enough to fill the well that they bleed dry. They might not be capable of giving you the love and respect you deserve, but you are.
4. Be careful of repeating the patterns.
You might find yourself drawn to people who have similarities to your toxic parent. There’s a really good reason for this. All of us are driven to find an ending to things that remain unresolved. Because love, warmth and nurturing are such an important part of child development, yet so elusive for the child of a toxic parent, it’s very normal for those children to be driven to find a resolution to never feeling loved, secure or good enough. They will look to receive what they didn’t get from their parents in others and will often be drawn to people who have similarities to their toxic parent. The theory is, with similar people, the patterns will be easier to replicate, and the hope of an ending closer to the desired one – parent love – will be easier to fulfill. The pattern often does repeat, but because of the similarities to the parent, so does the unhappy ending.
The decisions aren’t conscious ones, so to move towards healing, the automatic thoughts and feelings driving the choices need to be brought more into awareness. If this is something that’s familiar for you, it’s possible that you are being drawn to the wrong people because they remind you of your toxic parent, and somewhere inside you where you wanted things to stay hidden, is the wish that you’ll get from them what you weren’t able to get from your parent. Look at the people in your life and explore the similarities they have with your own parents. What do they do that’s similar? What do you do that’s similar to the way you are in your relationship with your parents? Which needs are being met? What keeps you there? The more awareness you have, the more you can make deliberate decisions that aren’t driven by historical wants.
5. Acknowledge your right to be loved and respected.
One of the greatest acts of self-love is owning your right to love and respect from the people you allow close to you. You’re completely entitled to set the conditions for your relationships, as other people are to set the conditions for theirs. We all have to treat those we love with kindness, generosity and respect if we want the same back. If those conditions aren’t met, you’re allowed to close the door. You’re allowed to slam it closed behind them if you want to.
6. Be careful of your own toxic behavior.
You’ve been there, so you know the behaviors and you know what they do. We’re all human. We’re all going to get it wrong sometimes. Toxic behavior though, is habitual and it will damage the members of your own little tribe as surely as it damaged you. You don’t have to be a product of the cruel parenting that was shown to you, and this starts with the brave decision that the cycle stops at you. People who do this, who refuse to continue a toxic legacy, are courageous, heroic and they change the world. We’re here to build amazing humans, not to tear them down. How would your life have been different if your parent was the one who decided that enough was enough?
7. You’re allowed to make mistakes and you’re allowed to do it on your own.
You may have been lead to believe that you’re not enough – not smart enough, beautiful enough, funny enough, strong enough or capable enough. The truth is that you are enough. Open yourself up to the possibility of this and see what happens. You don’t need to depend on anyone and making mistakes doesn’t make you a loser. It never has. That’s something you’ve been lead to believe by a parent who never supported you or never gave you permission to make mistakes sometimes. Make mistakes now, it’s okay. Give yourself full permission to try and miss. There will be hits and there will be misses. You don’t even know what you’re capable of because you’ve never been encouraged to find out. You’re stronger than you think you are, braver, better and smarter than you think you are, and now is your time to prove it to yourself.
8. Document the beliefs that hold you back. (And get yourself a rubber band.)
Document the beliefs that hold you back – write them down. The ones that get in your way and stop you from doing what you want to do, saying what you want to say or being who you want to be. Were you brought up to believe your opinion doesn’t count? You were brought up to believe that parents are always right? You were most likely brought up to believe that you’re unlovable, unimportant, stupid, annoying, incapable and worthless.
Now beside each belief, write what that belief is costing you. Has it cost you relationships, happiness, freedom to be, to experiment, or to explore? Then, rewrite the script. Thoughts drive feelings, behavior, what you expect for yourself and what you expect from relationships and the world. How are you going to change those beliefs? Just choose one or two to start with and every time you catch yourself thinking the old thoughts, actively replace it with a new, more self-nurturing thought – then act as though that new thought is true. You don’t have to believe it – just pretend it is. Your head will catch up when it’s ready.
If it’s difficult to break out of the old thought, try this: wear a rubber band (or a hair band) around your wrist. Every time you catch yourself thinking the old thought, give the band a little flick. This will start to train your mind to let go of the old thoughts that have no place in your life anymore. You just need a little flick, no need for pain, your old thoughts have been doing that long enough already. There is no right or wrong on this. All the answers, strength and courage you need to do what’s right for you is in you. You just need to give yourself the opportunity and the reason to hear it.
9. The dreaded “shoulds” - get rid of them.
“Shoulds” are the messages we take in whole (introject) from childhood, school, relationships, and society. They guide behavior automatically and this can be a good thing (“I should be around people who respect me”) or a not so good thing (“I should always be nice”). Take a close look at your “shoulds” and see if they’ve been swallowed with a spoonful of poison. Our “shoulds” come from many years of cultivating and careful pruning, so that when that “should” is fully formed, it automatically directs you without any thought.
It’s likely that the “should” that’s keeping you stuck has come from the person who wanted to keep you that way. Were you brought up feeling indebted to your parents? Did they make you feel you owe them? Did they make you feel like you’ll never cope if you separate properly from them? Did they deliver you messages to keep you small, quiet, or hidden? Believing the messages may have worked when you were younger, but it doesn’t have to be that way now. Don’t pick up from where they left off. You’re older now, with different circumstances, and in a different environment. Bring your “shoulds” out in the open so your actions can be more deliberate. If your “shoulds” are working for you, love them up and keep them, otherwise let them go.
10. Nobody is all good or all bad. Let that guilt go.
One of the things that make ending any relationship so difficult is that there will be traces of exactly what you want. Even toxic parents can sometimes be loving, warm or nurturing, though it’s mostly, if not always, done to further their own agenda. In the same way that being ‘a little bit bad’ probably isn’t enough to sever an important relationship, being ‘a little bit good’ isn’t enough reason to keep one. Step back and take a look at the big picture. If you feel miserable in the relationship more than you feel good, question your reasons for staying. If it’s because your toxic parent is old, frail, sad or lonely, that might be all the reason you need to stay, and that’s okay. If it is, own the decision in strength and put limits on contact or how much you will give to the relationship. You’re entitled to take or give as much to the relationship as you decide. Just whatever you do, do it deliberately, in strength and clarity, not because you’re being manipulated or disempowered. The shift in mindset seems small, but it’s so important.
11. Work on building yourself up.
Toxic environments are toxic to the brain – we know that with absolute certainty. The human brain is incredibly adaptive, and in response to a toxic environment it will shut down so as to protect itself as much as it can from the toxicity. When this happens, as it does during prolonged periods of emotional stress, the rate at which the brain produces new neurons (neurogenesis) slows right down, ultimately making people vulnerable to anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, memory loss, reduced immunity, loss of vitality, reduced resilience to stress, and illness (research has shown that migraine and other pain conditions are more prevalent in people who were brought up in abusive environments, though the exact reason for the relationship is unclear).
We also know, without a doubt, that the damage can be turned around. Diet (omega 3, green tea extract, blueberry extract, reduced intake processed sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates), exercise (anything that increases heart rate), and meditation (such as a regular mindfulness practice) will all help to rebuild the brain and heal the damage done by a toxic environment. Increasing neurogenesis will help to build resilience, cognitive function, vitality and protect against stress, anxiety and depression.
Healing from a toxic parent starts with deciding that the lifetime of messages that have left you hollow or scarred are wrong. It means opening a heart that’s probably been closed for way too long, and receiving the love, approval and validation that has always been yours to own. Sometimes, it means realizing that parents break too, sometimes irreparably, sometimes to the point of never being able to show love to the people in their life who deserve it the most. Sometimes it means making the brave decision, in strength and with the greatest self-love and self-respect, to let go of the relationship that’s been hurting you.
Breaking free of a toxic parent is hard, but hard has never meant impossible. With the deliberate decision to move forward, there are endless turns your story can take. You are a whole and valuable person deserving of respect and love. Be open to the possibilities of what that respect and love can bring.
If you need help with leaving a toxic relationship, whether it be a parent or any one else, please reach out to a Marriage & Family Therapist in your area. They can help guide you through the process and work with you helping you see what a truly amazing person you are.
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth, and ptsd (civilian and military). She can be reached via email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-584-6047. Her website address is LizBirchTherapist.com
Many of us have great intentions of reaching our goals. We may tell ourselves; "I'm going to work out more, I'm going to increase my sales this month, I'm going to work on home improvements this week, or I'm going to begin drinking less alcohol". All of those are great goals, however, it's too easy to not reach any of those goals if we phrase them as I wrote them.
In order to be more successful in your goals you must get much more specific than the examples I listed above. A great system to use is the SMART goal setting system. SMART goal setting brings structure and traceability into your goals and objectives. SMART goals create clear milestones and an estimation of the goal's attainability.
What does S.M.A.R.T. goal setting stand for?
S = Specific
Being a therapist, I use this SMART system with many of my clients. I help them get very specific on what they want to accomplish in therapy. This may take a few sessions to figure out but it's important to clarify the goal.
To have someone say, "I want to feel better about myself" is good, but it will be too difficult to know when my client will be there. So I dig a little deeper and ask my client, "What does that look like to you?" After some exploring my client may say, "Instead of crying 4 days a week, I want to work on only crying 2 days a week". That's very specific and attainable. We work on that goal and after a month or so we revisit the goal. Is the client crying less? How many days a week are they crying now?" Once they've reached crying only 2 days a week we set our next goal. How about crying only 2 times a month? Again a specific goal.
This system works well when working on communication issues in relationships. A couple may argue every single day. So our measurable goal may be that they argue only 4 days a week. Of course, we don't want arguing at all, but is that realistic? Attainable? We set goals that we can be successful with. Once that goal is reached of only arguing 4 days a week we set a new goal of only arguing two days a week, and so forth.
During the sessions, while working on goals, the therapist is exploring with the client what got them in their predicament. What changes need to be made and how can some of their problems be resolved. It's all a work in progress all striving for those specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.
Why don't you think about a goal or two you'd like to reach? Then apply the SMART goal setting approach and see if that makes reaching your goals a bit more successful. I bet you'll be pleased with your results.
If you are in my area and need help reaching your goals, please feel free to reach out to me and together we can work this system. It may take just a few sessions to get you set up and going. You can then check back a month or so later and we can explore how you are doing. My hope is for everyone to be successful in their goals, no matter how small or large.
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth, and ptsd (civilian and military). She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com.
Most of us don’t even scratch the surface of knowing who we really are, let alone figuring out what we have the potential to become. We are so confused that we keep oscillating between overconfidence and low self-esteem. One minute we are filled with a definite purpose for life and the next we move to the opposite end of the spectrum and are completely desolate.
Knowing ourselves better is a boon to our lives. We’re able to make smarter decisions about what’s best for us. We’re able to create more satisfying lives – lives that are based on our core values and personal priorities.
Often our identities contain a lot of “shoulds”. In other words, we strive to be what we think we should be. These “shoulds” may derive from society or our family and friends. I should like this. I should be that. I should behave in this way. I should say that. Who we are gets confused with and buried under the layers of who we think we should be. Strip away the “shoulds”, and think about who you really are. Simply ask, “Who am I?” You can start with statements like “I am a daughter” or “I am a writer” and progress to “I am happiest when I’m laughing with friends” or “I am learning to be kinder to myself.”
If we begin asking ourselves the right questions, it may take us to the answers we need to gain clarity in our own self-discovery and lead us to a more fulfilling and happy life.
Here are 28 questions that open the door to help you in having a real conversation with yourself. Spend some times on these and answer them as honestly as possible. You may find some uncomfortable and some difficult. Don’t filter your answers by what you think others may think but rather be true to yourself. This is how self-discovery begins. Enjoy!
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth, and ptsd (civilian and military). She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com.
One of the most common struggles that people come in to see me for is learning the art of letting go of the past. Many are stuck thinking about the wrongs that have been done to them and they are angry, frustrated, hurt, and sad. The unfortunate part about hanging on to those feelings is they continue to hurt and harm those that we love. That could mean hurting others that weren’t involved in the past misfortunes.
So let’s take a look at those past feelings. Those feelings aren’t really the past, they are the present. You are presently feeling angry, frustrated, hurt and/or sad. And it’s those feelings that are keeping the past alive.
What I first like to do with clients is to fester out all that the person is feeling, such as, anger, frustration, hurt, sadness – or any other feelings that they are experiencing.
Client: “I am angry that my parents worked all day and I was left alone to fend for myself”. Therapist: “You are angry that you were left alone?” Client: “Yes!” Therapist: “Tell me more about that anger.” Client: “They should have been there for me!” Therapist: “Tell me what it was like to be alone.” Client: “I had no one to talk to, I was bored, at times I got scared.” Therapist: “So you were scared to?” Client: “Of course I was scared, I was just a kid!” Therapist: “Let’s talk about you feeling scared.” Client: “I was scared because what if someone tried to come into my home when I was alone?” What if I got injured and no one was there?” “Why didn’t they care enough about me to be home with me?” Therapist: “What I heard you say in the beginning was you were angry because you were left alone but I’m also hearing you were frightened and you felt your parents didn’t care about you.” Client: “Yes, I guess, I feel they must have not cared about me so they left me alone at home.”
So we move from just being angry to actually carrying around a feeling that the client’s parents’ “didn’t care”. The above is just a short snippet of working through feelings and there’s more involved. It’s a process of several sessions to fester everything out. It’s like peeling an onion and working through all the layers by identifying all the feelings that were experiences. As we identify all that had happened, it’s validated.
I hope this gives you an idea of how to pull out all the feelings. I don’t want anything ignored or left out. I want to hear about the experiences that are causing so much pain. But what do we do about them now?
Experiences of the past need to be validated and never brushed off. Events happened and the feelings of the past are real. I spend time with clients letting them “feel” all that they have identified. That could mean they sit in sadness, anger or grief – but just for a limited time. We then move on.
Now we get to the part where we let it all go! Memories are just thoughts and thoughts have no power – unless the person chooses to give it power. Some thoughts stick with us, we react to them, and we keep thinking about them. Ugh! To keep thinking about them serves no purpose.
Some things you shouldn’t do:
• Make yourself forget about the past (you can not forget it)
• Stuff or ignore your feelings
• Wait for an apology or acknowledgment (if you never get an apology you will always sit in pain)
• Wait for time to heal all wounds
• Change the past (you can’t change what happened but you absolutely can change your reaction to what happened)
As a Cognitive Behavior Therapist I talk to my clients about how our feelings control our behavior. If you stay with anger, hurt and sadness, then they will become your reality. As an alternative, be open to moving forward. Prepare yourself to feel differently. Contemplate not defining yourself by thoughts about the past. Keep in mind, what you focus on, will become your present.
Many have been telling themselves their unfortunate life circumstances so many times that they aren’t allowing positive thoughts to come in. These negative thoughts keep you distracted from moving forward.
Some stuck thoughts that people hold on to:
• “I want to stay stuck because I was wronged.”
• “It is someone else’s responsibility to make this better for me.”
• “If I let go, I’m somehow approving another person’s bad behavior.”
• “I need an apology.”
• “Life is unfair.”
Holding on to those thoughts, the constant reminder, will only keep your unfortunate experiences in the present. How you feel is your responsibility, no one else’s. Once you realize all the power that you have, you can begin the process of letting go.
Holding on to the past is like wearing a pair of shoes that are a bit too small for you. You can get your feet into them but they hurt like heck. It’s time to take them off and begin to enjoy comfort again.
Remember, you are in control of how you feel. Begin by thinking more positively. But it might not be so easy at first. You have to reinforce those positive thoughts and behaviors so they will stick. As with any sort of training, the more you practice, the better you get—and, yes, you can practice being positive.
Live for today. Live for and look for the positive in others. Embrace the positive aspects of your parents, spouse, children and friends.
When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, remind yourself that all it takes is one small step in the right direction to move yourself toward a more positive attitude.
Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all: A positive outlook is a choice that you can always make.
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. She is also trained in Hypnosis and utilizes Hypnotherapy as a complementary treatment for many issues Her areas of expertise are with anxiety, depression, traumas, ptsd (military and civilian), relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, and personal growth. She can be reached at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-584-6047.
We set goals for ourselves, have big plans, can feel the success, the excitement is there, we’re off and running to a good start and then it all slowly peters out. Now the frustration sets in and we begin to tell ourselves we can’t succeed.
You can succeed! All you need is a better action plan. Staying motivated is partly the secret to reaching our goals. No matter what our goals are or how detailed we make them, if we can’t find the motivation to take consistent action, success will be difficult. However, if we can stay motivated and push through the tough times, breaking those bad habits that hold us back, well, anything is possible.
Multiple research studies have shown that many entrepreneurs will average a 3 – 5% failure rate for every success. But, they didn’t give up. They pushed through their weaknesses and eventually succeeded. That took motivation on their part. Without the same motivation, that they had, we get stuck in neutral, and then become filled with regret, anxiety and fear.
Below are some strategies that will help you to keep your motivation going so that you can achieve your goals.
1. No Distractions
This seems obvious but most of us feel that having our cell phone nearby, the Internet or a tv/radio running in the room won’t cause a problem but that’s far from the case. Shut everything off! There is no urgent need to check Twitter or Facebook for the latest happenings! If it’s on and nearby you will do that. Keep it all off.
2. Find a new Location
Don’t work where familiar distractions will thwart your effort to work. Go to a coffee shop, the library, the conference room at your work or a table at the park. By moving to a different location there is nothing handy for you to grab, read, or turn on as a way to escape your work.
3. Don’t Procrastinate
This isn’t an easy one. People tend to put off what they don’t want to do.
Try the 15-minute rule. Use your smartphone or smart watch (the one I told you earlier to keep off – ha!) and set the timer for 15 minutes. Tell yourself that you’ll work at your task for those 15 minutes with no distractions. Then you can take a break. In most cases, you will go beyond the 15 minutes and stay with what you are working on. The most difficult part is getting started.
4. Break it down and make a To-Do list
Take your big project and cut in down into smaller chunks. Then put small to-do items on a list. When we look at the enormity of our project it can be overwhelming. So take a small portion of it and put it on a list to get done that day. Make sure it’s doable for that day. Every small piece you get completed moves you closer to your goal.
5. Create a Weekly Action Plan
Schedule time in your appointment book to work on your project - just as you would schedule a meeting. Break your project down in small increments and plan time over the week to work on it. If we don’t plan ahead we tend to whittle the day away by telling ourselves we’ll get to it later. Pick a time, schedule it, and then attend your own meeting of getting your work done. Know that the meeting time has an end and when you reach your ending time feel free to move away from your work area and go for a walk. Remember, you have scheduled another meeting with yourself in a day or two, which you can get back to working on your goal.
6. Dispel your Fears
There are over 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts that run through our minds in a given day, according to The National Science Foundation. We’re unaware of most of those thoughts as they take place in the subconscious mind. But, a large portion of our thoughts is fear-based. What if this happens? Or what if that happens? What will I do if this occurs? What if I lose my job?
We ask ourselves fear-based questions without even consciously being aware of it. For that reason, if we want to get and stay motivated, we have to dispel our fears.
Write down all of your fears and why you’re afraid of those things. Then, create an excuse explaining why each of those reasons isn’t true. Think about past experiences where you’ve pulled through or accomplished something you didn’t think was possible. Focus on your successes of the past! There’s real power to bringing the subconscious fears into the conscious and dispelling them.
7. Visualize your Future
Once you have your goals, you can get and stay motivated by visualizing your future. What will life be like when you achieve your goals? Where will you live? What will you do for work? What will you enjoy in your free time? What places will you travel to? Spend some time visualizing your future by writing out a detailed description of how life will be like when you achieve your long-term goals.
8. Find a Mentor
A great way to avoid losing motivation is to find a mentor. Mentors can help us in so many ways. And while there’s no one specific way to find a mentor, you should certainly get out there and locate one that can help push you and inspire you to achieve your dreams.
Whether it’s a successful businessperson that you meet through a friend, or someone in your family, find someone who can help coach you along.
Keep in mind that success won’t be easy no matter what. It’s easy to lose motivation for anyone. But turning to a mentor can help to bring all that hard work you’re doing into perspective.
9. Channel the Little Engine That Could
A person’s drive is often based on what she believes about her abilities, not on how objectively talented she is, according to research by Albert Bandura, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. His work has shown that people who have perceived self-efficacy (that is, the belief that they can accomplish what they set out to do) perform better than those who don’t.
“Self-efficacy beliefs provide the foundation for human motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment. This is because unless people believe that their actions can produce the outcomes they desire, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties. Much empirical evidence now supports Bandura’s contention that self-efficacy beliefs touch virtually every aspect of people’s lives—whether they think productively, self-debilitatingly, pessimistically or optimistically; how well they motivate themselves and persevere in the face of adversities; their vulnerability to stress and depression, and the life choices they make.” (Pajares, 2002)
10. Be Consistent
It’s important to be consistent with your work, "take consistent action every single day." This means that even if you're totally not in the mood, do one small proactive thing that will move you towards your ultimate goal — even if it's just a Tweet.
Staying motivated is absolutely within your reach — it's often just about keeping your end goal in mind and breaking down the larger end result into manageable smaller steps. Remember — you can do it!
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth, and ptsd (civilian and military). She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-614-0612.
I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions.
We are officially two weeks into the new year. For those of you who made resolutions how are they going? For many of you, your resolutions have probably already slipped to the back burner. That’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
What is a resolution anyway?
1 a firm decision to do or not to do something: "she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more" | a New Year's resolution.
• a formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting, typically after taking a vote: the conference passed two resolutions.
• the quality of being determined or resolute: "he handled the last French actions of the war with resolution".
2 the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter: the peaceful resolution of all disputes | a successful resolution to the problem.
A resolution sounds so definite. It’s a hard word. But how about if you work on “goals”? Setting goals are much easier and gives one a little more leeway. Goals for me sounds like a soft word, more fluid.
1 the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result: "going to law school has become the most important goal in his life."
• the destination of a journey: "the aircraft bumped toward our goal some 400 miles to the west".
• literary a point marking the end of a race.
Goals seem a bit more realistic. A goal for me is more about the journey, about something I am striving for. Less pressure. I think we all need less pressure.
As we begin 2015 what are some goals you’d like to accomplish? Not resolutions but something you’d “like” to accomplish.
Here are some goals that may work for you;
I think all of these “goals” are very doable. No pressure. There’s a lot of fluidity in the items listed. I’m sure you can develop others that are manageable and will work for you. So, go ahead. Come up with some doable goals. In the end, when you accomplish your goal(s), you will feel really great. =)
Now relax and make 2015 a good one.
Therapy in Orange County, California ~
I'm a licensed Psychotherapist and certified Master Hypnotist who works with adults looking to reduce anxiety, depression and stress as a result of every day life and traumas. Work can also be done on breaking specific habits.
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@2019 Liz Birch, LMFT, CHt Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist CA Lic.#40999 Orange County, CA