Embrace Your Challenges & Choices

The photo to the right of this weight lifter at the Rio Olympics dramatically illustrates an important psychological principle. You must find a way to embrace your challenges and fears. Can you see and feel how this athletes loves for her sport makes her "one" with the experience? She "loves" the weights because she strives to make her competition a cooperative venture with the weights, not an adversarial one. How often do you avoid taking on a challenge, or act afraid of taking a test, trying something new, breaking out of your comfort zone? 
There are 3 routes you can take with any challenge in your life,
  1. You can resist, become perfectionistic, find the negatives of any situation, which only serves to make you an adversary to your challenge. Problems arise for many people when they feel performance is pressure rather than fun or exciting. Stress, fear, and anxiety about performance always negatively impacts achievement. 
  2. You can avoid and distract yourself with excuses & rationalizations and live in fear or,
  3. You can "take the call to adventure" (Joseph Campbell-Hero's Journey reference) to face your fears by leaning into them. Get prepared, get support, learn the skills, get coaching, find the best practices for your endeavor. 
If you have a fear of elevators, driving, heights, public speaking, taking tests, intimacy, or change, there is help and hope. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) provides skills, tools and techniques to assist you in overcoming these limitations. The best way out of fear is going through it. So, embrace the fear with a guide and teacher to partner with it. You can accomplish your goals and conquer those fears.

Video of a Smoker's Lung.......Yikes!!!!!

If you are a smoker or have family member that is currently a smoker, this video may change you forever. Having developed smoking cessation programs and run them in many corporations, worked as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society as Chairman their Tobacco and Health Committee for 16 years and heading the Great American Smokeout on several occasions, I feel qualified and committed to helping people quit smoking to save themselves from a the addiction of cigarettes. The video link below will take you to one of the more convincing and graphic ones that I have seen to help convince anyone on the harms of smoking. Although the adult rates of smoking have dropped in the US and Texas in the past 10 years from 26% to about 19% of the population, rates for teens have gone up to about 33%. The problems from smoking related disease are very tricky because they don't usually show up for about 30-40 years. Then, emphysema, lung cancer, and other health problems emerge. Take a moment to view this brief video and imprint in your mind a commitment to quit smoking. When you have a plan to quit, support, education about how to manage urges and mental tools, you can be successful. Call if you would like some direction to help yourself or someone you love.
Quitting any addiction is difficult, so you need support, resources and the right tools to manage. Let me know if you would like more information. 

Click on the link below. 
Lungs from Smoking

Understanding Chronic Pain

Pain is a very complex and subjective experience. To complicate the matter of pain even more, there are about 100 million people suffering from chronic pain in the US alone. This is about 1 in 4 people have a severe and debilitating pain condition. Some people have a high pain tolerance and others quite low. This makes treating pain even more complicated for medical professionals. Doctors don't want you to suffer, thus end up prescribing stronger and stronger narcotic (addictive) medications to help you. Even following doctors orders can lead to problems. Over time, all of these medications fail to provide relief. 

It might be helpful to understand the different types of pain because treatment methods vary greatly based upon the type of pain experience. For example, in the acute pain phase, painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet, Hydrocodone are typically prescribed and are very effective. With chronic pain conditions, when the pain continues after an expected time of healing, painkillers are typically increased in both amount and frequency leading to problems with overuse and addiction. These "painkillers" no longer "kill" the pain and become less effective over time, so without other means of relief from the pain, addiction is inevitable. In fact, in 2016 in the US, death from overdose of painkillers is now the leading cause of death with an average of 47 deaths per day. 
  1. Acute pain, which is the time from injury to about 3 months,
  2. Chronic Pain, which extends beyond a 3-6 month window of duration, 
  3. Chronic Pain Syndrome, which is pain which continues beyond 6 months. 
Hope is at hand. There are programs, methods and help available to manage chronic pain. Multidisciplinary pain programs which incorporate psychology, medicine, chiropractic methods, acupuncture, massage, mindfulness meditation, mental imagery, biofeedback, hypnosis, cognitive restructuring have proven to be extremely effective in managing chronic pain. The mind is very powerful and can be harnessed to decrease, distract and transform the pain experience. You don't have to continue to suffer.  Click on the link below in blue to view an educational and informative video to help you understand how to help yourself manage your pain.  Please call if you would like to know where to get help with your pain when you feel you are in need of help. 
Video on understanding chronic pain...informative video about pain.  

12 Charactertistics of a Self-Actualized Person

Even though we aren't all in the army, most of us are trying to 'be all you can be" in life. This pursuit is called self-actualization.

Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who defined self-actualization and the hierarchy of needs, believed that self-actualization can be achieved once all other needs are met. For those of us how have a stable food supply, safe shelter, and friends/family, the inner journey becomes imperative.

It is a constant striving to reach your full potential. People reach their personal mountaintop on different paths, but Maslow believed that the view was the same once at the summit. A realized self. He detailed them in the 12 characteristics of a self-actualized person:

1) Self-actualized people embrace the unknown and the ambiguous.
2) They accept themselves, together with all their flaws.
3) They prioritize and enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
 4) While they are inherently unconventional, they do not seek to shock or disturb.
5) They are motivated by growth, not by the satisfaction of needs.
6) Self-actualized people have purpose.
7) They are not troubled by the small things.
8) Self-actualized people are grateful.
9) They share deep relationships with a few, but also feel identification and affection towards the entire human race.
10) Self-actualized people are humble.
11) Self-actualized people do not allow themselves to be passively molded by culture.
12) Despite all this, self-actualized people are not perfect. 

How many of these characteristics do you embody? How do you strive to embody all of them? What must you do? What must you be?

Become a leader of your own life to find purpose and meaning. We all want greatness for our lives, but many obstacles can present themselves, and we are often the ones that put them there. Challenge yourself to always lead your life, not just robotically go along with old life scripts. It is easy to fall into routine and habit, and fall away from new and unknown.

It requires trust. Trust in yourself. A belief that you are capable of creating great change, that you are worth it, and that you deserve it.

So what do you need to remake yourself to be happy? How do you self-actualize? How do you rewrite the scripts of your life? Or just improvise instead?

Pip Biofeedback Relaxation

Biofeedback has come a long way. The purpose of biofeedback is to use body monitors to guide a person towards relaxation with immediate feedback of body tension and stress. That way, it is easy to listen to the body and direct it accordingly. After learning the tricks to calm the body, the tools are no longer necessary, and relaxation is achieved on command.

In the olden days, biofeedback was conducted with pulse monitors that beeped your heartbeat aloud, or other monitors that would gauge body temperature. The more anxious, pain, or fear; the greater measurements you receive. But recent technological innovations have brought a more engaging device, the Pip.

The idea is the same, using monitors to guide towards relaxation. But rather than a beep or flashing light, the Pip measures skin conductance or sweat gland activity. The Pip is used in conjunction with mobile apps to offer an interactive experience. For example, relax and turn an icy landscape into a blooming spring scene. Or relax to guide a hot air balloon across the sky. The more relaxed... the faster you accomplish your goal.

It teaches the user to control the body's stress and tension through direct feedback, at which point each person can direct themselves to a more relaxed state. The Pip trains a person to refocus, relax, and regain control of their own physiology. Then... relaxation will prevail.

Wouldn't it be nice to have control over your body's tension and relaxation? Click here to learn more with the 7-day Pip Guide

Meditate? Who Me?

Yes, you! Learn to meditate and practice There is now abundant research and evidence that meditation is incredibly helpful for happiness, stress management, relaxation, health and peace of mind. With meditation, you can learn to turn off the inevitable “monkey mind” that keeps you up at night, anxious and stressed.

Not only will you notice a difference in your mood and focus, but your brain will actually change. Check out the brain scans below. Meditation wakes up more parts of the brain, connects both hemispheres, and leads to a better, more balanced, functioning system. The parts of the brain that are more active in a meditating brain have shown to improve self-regulation, reduce stress and fear responses, and improve memory. Meditation can significantly change the brain wave patterns within 15 minutes. And while this is an image of a brain during meditation, researchers also found that the benefits of meditation can lead to more permanent changes in the brain, actually restructuring your brain! For more info on this, click here.

All you have to do is... nothing... for 15-25 minutes a day. Give it a shot and see how you feel.

The Company You Keep

Take time to examine the current relationships you have that are positive, encouraging and healthy vs. relationships that have negative associations. Think of the image of Superman and Kryptonite as a metaphor.

Who or what experiences strengthen or weaken you? My strategy is to examine those relationships that you initiate, look forward to, enjoy and then feel great afterward. Then look at those that cause your stomach to churn and feel draining and distressing before, during and after. The message... pursue those that enliven you, avoid those that deaden. With the right company, you will feel supported to become the best version of yourself!