Monday, June 28, 2010

De-nominalising your world

"The ancestor of every action is a thought"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Incorrect use of language leads to incorrect thinking"
Buckminster Fuller

When the developers of NLP, Dr Richard Bandler & Dr John Grinder, were both asked separately if there was anything that would improve every person's life and mental wellbeing. Both said the same thing:

What are nominalisations?

In English, there are two main noun forms -- proper nouns and nominalisations. Proper nouns are persons, places and things i.e. objects you can experience directly. Nominalisations are disguised verbs; processes that we represent as things, as nouns.

For example, the word 'relationship' is a nominalisation of the process of relating. A relationship is not a real thing -- you can't hold one in your hand, you can't buy one from the shopping mall, and you certainly can't fix one with sticky tape or glue when it's broken. The word 'relationship' is a conceptual descriptor of the process of relating. It's a cognitive shortcut we use, where we take a process that is distributed and varying in space and time, and we reify it into a fixed object that we can get a handle on. You can't see a relationship, you can only see the process of two people relating. When people are relating poorly, you can't fix it with glue. The two people need to get clear about their outcomes and then do the behaviours and processes of relating well, for the 'relationship' to be good again.

De-nominalising for sanity

De-nominalising is the process of taking the nominalised noun form (the sneaky disguised verb) and relanguaging it into its true verb form. The import of this is what Korzybski spent his lifetime attempting to explain and share through the deeply insightful field of General Semantics that he created. And I've personally found the insights from General Semantics and from the child it spawned (NLP) to be incredibly powerful and life enhancing.

According to Korzybski, un-sane use of language leads to un-sane thinking and behaviour. When we use words and abstractions that are not well-aligned with the underlying reality they are attempting to represent, we end up making less than sane choices and decisions.

(And please note the number of nominalisations in that last sentence!!! Our everyday language is replete with nominalising!!!)

You'd be surprised I think, how powerful it can be to shift behaviour, by reconnecting how you (or anyone else) is creating their reality and meaning through language, ideas, symbols and words. Words are very much the tools we use to construct, explain and promulgate our model of the world, our reality tunnel. And when we shift how someone is languaging, and connect the tools -- the maps that we use -- to be more aligned with reality, to be more sane, you shift the sequence of meaning at a very deep level in the unconscious mind.

An amazing and true story

I'd like to share with you now a very sad, but amazing story...

I was running a workshop on Conflict Resolution for a large Government department, and as key to this, was explaining the power and import of nominalisation to the participants, in order to denominalise 'Conflict' and 'Resolution' into their more sane and accurate verb forms. You see there is no such thing as 'Conflict' -- there are just people relating and communicating in ways that lead them to conflicting with each other. When you understand this, you get clarity on the underlying processes and issues and open up the possibility of doing the converse, which is 'high quality relating'. However, the details of these life enhancing skills are the topic of a future blog. For the moment, let's return to our story...

At the morning break, one of the participants came up to me and asked if she could share a personal experience with me that related deeply to what we had been covering in the workshop. What she told me was both sad and fascinating.

Approximately 2 years before, her mother had one afternoon developed a herpes 'cold sore' lesion on her back, and the virus had travelled up her nerve pathways and into her brain. Within 24 hours, she was hospitalised and suffering from herpes simplex encephalitis, a dangerous and debilitating condition. During the attack, parts of her brain were damaged, and she lost the ability to understand, communicate or express noun forms. Literally overnight, this normal, vibrant and intelligent woman had her world turned upside down. Before the attack she lead a normal life. After the attack, she could no longer comprehend nouns and the objects they represented -- she could no longer function normally, was unable to work, and had to be guided when she went out of the house. The virus had selectively attacked the part of her brain responsible for noun-ing. She was left with only the ability to do verb-ing.

What an incredible story! I spoke at length with the participant about her mother, asking about what it was like to live and interact with her. For example, we discussed what was it like to go for a walk in the park with her. According to the participant, you could not point at a flower and say "look at the beautiful flower, mum" as the poor woman just couldn't comprehend or understand the object form. But if you said "looking at the flowering" then she would do the looking and appreciating of the beauty of the flowering.

Just imagine what life would be like if you could only do, understand and communicate process... what a different world it would be!

"Our language influences our perceptions"
Peter Senge

Noun versus Verb Processing

The story lead me to researching the neuro-science and evidence for the effect on the brain of verb forms versus noun (and adjective) forms. What I found is that the research shows that very different parts of the brain are activated by nouns versus verbs. And the parts that are activated lead down different paths, open up and connect to different meanings and responses. And of course, this powerfully backs up the insights from NLP on the importance of de-nominalising.

Much of the work has come from observations of aphasic subjects who are selectively impaired in the processing of nouns or verbs due to selective damage to parts of their brains through stroke, disease or other causes. The study of lesion location in these patients has suggested that the left temporal lobe plays a crucial role in processing nouns, while the left frontal lobe is necessary for verbs.

More recent research has focused on using PET and fMRI imaging to examine the effects of noun and verb processing in normal subjects rather than subjects with lesions. For example, in a study by Perani et al. entitled 'The neural correlates of verb and noun processing. A PET study.', the researchers found verbs selectively activated specific left hemispheric areas, including the dorsolateral frontal and lateral temporal cortex. In addition, the study showed that abstract word processing was associated with selective activations of the right temporal pole, amygdala and bilateral inferior frontal cortex. You can see the results of the neural correlates of verb versus noun processing in the following image.

In another study of subjects with intact brains, the processing of nouns versus verbs was performed using event-related potentials and electrocortical responses. Nouns and verbs were carefully matched for various variables, including word frequency, length, arousal and valence. The study found that cortical representations of nouns elicit visual associations whereas cortical representations of verbs lead to association of body movements. These results are summarised in the following diagrams from the study.

In Summary

As we can see, evidence from both neuro-imaging studies, ERP studies and brain-damaged patients suggests that verbs and nouns are represented in different neurological substrates. Verbs are processed by areas of the brain associated with action, with agency, with purpose, with movement. Nouns on the other hand are processed by areas of the brain associated with objects, with location and with attributes such as size, shape, weight etc.

So when we use a mental representation -- an abstraction -- of an object, our brain applies and ascribes the attributes of an 'object' automatically and unconsciously to the process being represented. Linking back to our example above of the word 'relationship', when we use the verb form, we trigger parts of the brain associated with process, agency and outcomes. However if we use the nominalised form 'relationship', then we trigger and represent the action as if it is a noun. Our brain processes the relating as if it's an object. And this is why we end up taking relationships for granted. Because objects have persistence, they are always there, unchanging. Whereas in reality, the process of relating is a verb, it's an action, and requires focus and clarity of outcome and purpose. Relating is only as good as the competencies, skills and focus that is applied to it.

“Language is the means by which we organise and shape our experience" 
Dr. Annabelle Lukin,
Dep’t of Linguistics, Macquarie University

Connecting the research back to the real world

Let's use another example to wrap up and connect the insights from the research into the real world of daily life.

In the blog post I did on 'O-priming your life' I talked about the psychology of ownership and how greed and attachment are verbs. We talk about them as if they are nouns. We say things like "he has a lot of greed". But that's a very un-sane way to represent it. As indicated by the research above, when we use words as nouns, to represent what in reality are processes, we end up unconsciously applying attributes that more appropriately belong to objects and not processes. And since words organise and shape our experience, and the word forms we use determine the parts of the brain utilised in processing them and directing our decisions, thinking and actions, then we really need to ensure we are using language that is supportive of our outcomes.

So in our example, greed is a 'process'. Greed'ing is definitely an unconscious competency -- a skill. It's not a 'thing' -- a noun. Greed is a verb. It's something people do, it's a doing word. However, in our society and in English, it is 'normally' used as a noun. In the dictionary greed is listed as a noun, referring to "insatiate longing as an atribute of an individuals character". The challenge is that when this abstraction is used as an attribute, as a fixed property of the individual or their character, then the locus of control is relinquished and made external and people give away their power to change.

If you want to see greed'ing for the process and behaviour that it is, and if you'd like to support yourself to overcome that process, then you need to think about it and re-language it to the verb form. That way your brain will support you in focusing on internal locus of control, personal agency and your ability to control and change your processing.

The take home messaging

Words are powerful. They can be life enhancing or life depleting. You construct your ongoing 'reality' through the words you use, and the effects those words have on your multi-mind and on the minds of those around you.

It's vitally important that you learn to listen to the words you are using and to become life enhancingly skilled in using words sanely and wisely.

Nominalisations (verbs turned into nouns) can be very slippery and dangerous tools. Use them carefully and wisely.

According to Bandler and Grinder, the geniuses who developed the amazing field of NLP, one of the most powerful and life enhancing things you can do to improve your life and your mental well-being is to de-nominalise the words you use each and every day.

So the take home message is:
De-nominalise your life! Your sanity and happiness depends upon it.

Want to learn more, get a copy of my book: Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS!

with life enhancing encouraging and wishes,

To learn more about NLP and the power of language, read these books:

Frogs into Princes - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

Using Your Brain For a Change - Richard Bandler

Reframing: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

Trance-Formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis

The Structure of Magic: A Book About Language and Therapy - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

The Structure of Magic II: A Book About Communication and Change - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Congruence is life enhancing


/ˈkɒŋ gru əns/ (noun)
The quality or state of agreeing, matching, harmony, conformity or corresponding. 
Do you live a life of congruence or incongruence?

I was thinking about how a friend of mine manages to espouse all sorts of great ideas and intentions, but never manages to follow through and live out those aims and values...

And it made me realise how it would be very very useful to blog about the importance of congruence and how life enhancing it is, and how it's converse -- incongruence is NOT!  Incongruence, inconsistency, procrastination and self-conflict all create failure, and truly that's not life enhancing.

So I immediately sat down and started typing this post. Because, as NLP behavioural modelling of successful people has shown, you create success by taking immediate and congruent action on your outcomes and desires. Thinking and talking about something, without putting actions to your words, is intellectual masturbation and a waste of your time, energy and life.

Motivating Congruence

"Motivation follows action!" 
Zig Ziggler

A great insight into motivating yourself and creating congruence comes from Zig Ziglar, one of the top motivational speakers of all time. According to Zig, “motivation follows action”, and the research backs him up. Most people think that action follows motivation… they erroneously believe they’ll be more likely to take action once they feel motivated. But that’s not the way it works. It’s counter-intuitive, but the patterning system of the mind/body works the other way around.

You generate motivation by taking action. Just start it. Just do it! Begin taking action on a goal or outcome you’ve been procrastinating on, or a goal or outcome you’ve been waiting for motivation on. Put gutsy action to your heartfelt desires. You’ll find that as soon as you take action, even the smallest of steps, your feelings of motivation will immediately increase. You’ll feel more positive and encouraged. Your energy will increase. Your head, heart and gut brains will align. It’s an amazingly simple and very powerful insight. Use it!

Rules and Standards: doing what you say you'll do... what a concept

As I explained in a previous blog post 'Set high minimum standards', life tends to give you the minimum you are prepared to accept, so set high minimum standards for your life. This applies equally to setting high minimum standards for your own rules and behaviours -- Refuse to do incongruence, make it a rule to always choose congruence in your life - to do congruence-ing. Don't accept anything less from or for yourself. If you say something, if you make a promise, then make sure you live up to your word! Always do what you say you'll do... what a concept!

Cybernetic Loop - congruence in thoughts, feelings and actions

I also previously discussed in my blog post 'Choice = Life Enhancing Control' how the mind and body are connected in a cybernetic loop of control; how the mind/brain and body interact and affect each other -- they are not distinct and separate, what affects one, affects the other. The Cybernetic Loop is summarised in the diagram below.

What this model shows is that your thinking (your Internal Processing – thoughts, images, ideas) is connected to and both influences and is influenced by your feelings (your Internal State – your emotions). Your feelings in turn are connected to and both influence and are influenced by your physiology (your External Behaviour – your body, breathing, physical state), which in turn is influenced by and influences your thinking, in a loop. The process of control runs both ways, each of the three components influencing the other.

For congruence in your behaviours, results and life you need to align all parts of your cybernetic loop. For success, you must ensure that your thoughts, feelings and physiology support each other.

Aligning your multi-mind

As I've highlighted in many blog entries, our minds are not unitary -- instead we are an amalgam of a myriad of relatively autonomous multi-minds. And we also don't have just one brain. Modern neuroscience has shown that we have complex, adaptive and functional neural networks, or 'brains', in our heart and gut regions. And congruence requires ongoing negotiating between all the parts of this multi-mind and between all three brains (head, heart and gut). It's a vital life enhancing skill. So I'll blog in detail on how to congruently align your multi-mind and multiple brains in upcoming posts. So stay tuned. [You can also read much more about this in my book, 'mBraining - Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff']

How are you treating your life?

Finally, people often ask me, "How's life treating you?" And I always respond, "Life is treating me the way I treat it.... wondrously!"

You know, life is like a mirror... it reflects back to you in results, the actions and thoughts you put into it. Life treats you the way you treat it. If you are congruent, then you'll get success from life. If you do incongruence, then you'll get incongruent results from and in your life.

What about you? How are you treating life?

Want to learn more, get a copy of my book: Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS!

congruent life enhancing wishes,

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to live to be 100+

TED is life enhancing:

TED is "Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world"

TED is a small nonprofit project devoted to 'Ideas Worth Spreading'.

It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. More than 500+ life enhancing 'TED Talks' are now freely available online, with more added each week. TED is based on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.

To introduce you to the value of TED (in case you weren't already a TED aficionado) and to share some incredibly life enhancing research on how to live longer and with greater health, here is a TED talk on 'How to live to be 100+'. I hope you enjoy it and find it as fascinating as I do.

Into the blue zones... how to live to be 100+
What do Seventh-Day Adventists in California, the residents of Sardinia, Italy and the inhabitants of the islands of Okinawa, Japan have in common? They enjoy the longest, healthiest lives on the planet. National Geographic writer and explorer, Dan Buettner assembled a team of researchers to seek out these "hotspots of human health and vitality", which he calls Blue Zones, and to figure out what they do that helps them live so long.

Dan and his team have distilled the secrets of the world's longest-lived peoples into a single plan for health and long life. In this TED talk he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.

In Summary:

The 9 principles for health and longevity can be summarised into:

Right Outlook - Sense of purpose, Enjoy your life, Follow your passions.
Move naturally - Remove laziness, Setup your life so that you naturally exercise and get out in the nature that surrounds you
Eat Wisely - Eat right @ right time
Connect with others - Family, friends, community and have long meaningful relationships

Make sure you live a full life where you engage with your community, the people in your life and the nature that surrounds you. Don't let modern society stress you out. Celebrate your life. Do calm abiding, forgiving, appreciation, savoring and compassion for yourself and others. And check out the life enhancing wisdom that TED has to offer.

wishing you a long enhancing life,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beauty and art

I know it's a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) that beauty and art are life enhancing, but I wanted to explore some deeper distinctions on this, and bring to your conscious awareness the use of these as tools and filters for enhancing your life.

What is beauty?

We find things beautiful and aesthetic because at the deepest level, we have evolved to experience that which is life promoting and life enhancing as attractive and desirable. Beauty is nature's yardstick for survival.

An amoeba finds a dirty puddle as attractive, because in that environment it is safe and has lots of nutrients it can use to live and replicate itself. Humans typically don't find dirty, putrid puddles as beautiful and attractive (unless they are young boys looking for a mess to play in :). Instead, we find clear fresh pools, ponds and running, babbling streams as attractive and aesthetic.

The reason for this is that as an organism we need fresh water to survive. Dirty stagnant puddles full of amoeba and other pathogens are not good for our health and survival. Over millions of years of evolution any complex organism that accidentally evolved the desire and attraction for dirty water, would have died sooner than those that found clean, clear water as attractive. The sense of beauty and attraction to crystal clear pools would have come to dominate the population as those who enjoyed this trait managed to live longer, prosper and replicate their genes.

I know I'm simplifying things somewhat here... and there's a deep point to what I'm sharing. Our sense of beauty, aesthetics and it's expression in art and life, are pointers to that which is life enhancing. Art connects us with wellness, life, resilience and thriving.

The heart and gut mind, attraction and values

Listen to the deep wisdom of your heart and gut brains. They'll speak to you of love, attraction and deeply felt values. In Japan, there is an ancient tradition, still practiced today at the highest levels of management and society, called 'Haragei'. This translates roughly to 'stomach art' and its essence involves learning to tune into and trust the wisdom of the gut. It's also known as 'the unspoken way' because the gut does NOT communicate with words. The heart and gut communicate through hunches, feelings, tastes, desires, symbols and dreams -- through art,  beauty and aesthetics. With haragei the practitioner listens to the silence, to the gaps between words, to what is not said, to the shapes, pathways and patterns of behaviour and the world.

So learn to listen to and deeply bond with your ancient heart and gut brains. They provide an evolved wisdom that you can learn to connect with and tune into. And a powerful pathway to them is via your sense of beauty and art.

Look for the spirit of beauty rather than surface beauty

Seek beauty not in ephemeral fashions and fleeting trends, but in the deeper more enduring beauty of nature and timeless art.

Inspire yourself by surrounding yourself with wonderful works of art. Create your own art. Add value to life by gathering and creating beauty. Support those who bring beauty into our world.

Beauty is natures signpost to adding value to your life. Use it to enhance your life and the lives of those you love.

with life enhancing wishes from the heart

The Unspoken Way

The key to success in Japan is a thorough understanding of the workings of "haragei" - an idea affecting language, social interaction, and business dealings in particular. This volume examines the idea of "haragei"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Question Everything - an interview with Barry B. Longyear

A life enhancing interview with author Barry B. Longyear

I was recently re-reading a wonderful book 'The Enemy Papers' by author Barry B. Longyear, one of my favourite science fiction writers, and I came across this quote:

"Instead believe this: question everything, accept the wholeness of no truth nor the absolute rightness of any Path. Make this your creed... for in this creed stands your right to freedom."

Now, this is a life enhancing creed I've lived all my adult life, passionately and assiduously, and I truly believe it is important and life enhancing.  So, Barry's words struck such a major chord, that I was immediately motivated to interview and ask him to share his thoughts on happiness, freedom and questioning everything...

About Barry B. Longyear

Barry B. Longyear is the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer all in the same year. In addition to his acclaimed Enemy Mine Series, his works include the Circus World and Infinity Hold series, SF & fantasy novels, recovery and writing instruction works, and numerous short stories. Barry's multiple award winning novella 'Enemy Mine' was also made into a movie and is well worth a watch.

Writing is obviously a life enhancing activity for Barry.  According to his online bio, "My reason for writing these days is the ride. I love it. Once a story grabs me, I am literally transported elsewhere, and the eyes I get to look through, and the scenes I get to see, are always captivating and are frequently sustaining."

And I can attest that reading Barry's books is equally captivating and grabbing and for me life enhancing as they provide more than just entertainment.  Barry's writing explores important values and ideas.  For example his Infinity Hold series is about justice and morality:

"They found a planet no one wanted and upon it created an unsupervised gravity well for unwanted human debris: political activists, terrorists, the criminally insane, and the insanely criminal. It was a dump in the middle of a lethal desert with no support facilities, authority, control, or law... What does a society of rejects and criminals dropped into a crucible of horror and desperation come up with as a legal system?" As the wikipedia entry on Barry says: "The Infinity Hold series... is more a work of sociology than science fiction."

What I can also definitely say, is that reading a Barry B. Longyear book provides a fascinating ride through idea space.  And personally, I find that incredibly life enhancing :-)

So without further ado, here's Barry, with his take on Happiness, Freedom and Questioning Everything.

"My goal, often reflected in my writing, is to maximize happiness. Being alive is usually, but not always, an aid to that. Freedom is nearly always an aid to that."
 Barry B. Longyear

Q. How do you define freedom? What is freedom for you? Why do you think its life enhancing and important?

How do I define "freedom?"  Freedom is choice. To increase an individual's freedom that person's choices must be increased. As far as political freedom goes, I support the libertarian concept of freedom to be, do, and act anywhere and in any manner up to but not including restricting the choices of others. Freedom is happiness enhancing simply because doing what I want to do makes me happier than having that taken away from me by force.  For that reason, freedom is important to me personally. For things I value, such as the USA, creativity, prosperity, intelligence, information, and many other things, freedom works better than any of the statist/interventionist schemes that have been devised.

Q. Your books often involve scenarios that presuppose or are based on the ideas of 'freedom from' and 'freedom to', for example in 'Enemy Mine' the two principle characters need to gain freedom from their societal prejudices and stereotypes in order to create the freedom to work, live and survive together. What motivates you to explore these concepts?

When I write stories, I do not  "explore concepts." Stories (mine, at any rate) are not about ideas, gimmicks, hardware, trends, or scientific discoveries. Stories are about people. Everything else is  what the people in the story are experiencing. In the case of the two main characters in "Enemy Mine," to survive they needed to work together, and to do that, they needed to change. In other words, they needed to grow up. In the context you put it in your question, they needed to let go of self-imposed limitations to increase the number of their choices. In other words, they needed to grow up.

Q. Why do you think it's important and life enhancing to 'question everything' and how do you support yourself to do that in your own life? What advice do you have to help people achieve that in their own lives?

The closer we are to truth, the better chance we have of understanding and utilizing reality and what's in it. Questioning dogmas of all kinds has brought us everything from the light bulb to string theory and made it possible to support billions of persons on this planet, as well as the ability to wipe out all of them. Unquestioning obedience to dogmas brought us the Inquisition, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, every benighted idiot who believes that blowing up a bus full of school children is something God wants, and has crippled most of the world's economies.

As for my own life, I am a recovering alcoholic and prescription drug addict, clean and sober for the past 28 years. I have described what was necessary for me to question and then change in my novel Saint Mary Blue.

Advice is dangerous to give; there is always the danger that someone might actually take it. The following is from a speech I never gave:
. . . Unaware that I was doing so, I've been guided by what in school I thought was an old-fashioned cornball slogan: "Truth, Duty, Honor."+

Truth. That's an important value I picked up at SMA (Staunton Military Academy).  Truth. "the property of being in accord with fact or reality." Truth isn't what we hope is real. Truth isn't what we want to be real. Truth is not what we feel is real. Truth is what is in fact real.

Duty. This is the value that keeps me up some nights and then helps me sleep once I've done my best to do what I know needs to be done. Dictionary definitions of "duty" are filled with words such as "obligation" and "conduct," but don't seem to carry the weight of the word as I learned it at SMA. "Duty" is doing what "Truth" has shown needs to be done, whether those changes involve the world, my country, my fellow humans, or myself.

Honor, as I learned it here, is the quality of doing one's duty by the light of truth.

Q. Who are your role models for 'life-enhancing'? Are there any exemplars that live enhanced lives that you look to for inspiration in your own life?

The only "life enhancing" role model I ever had was a famous jogger who dropped dead during a run. Role models for raising my freedom and pursuit-of-happiness index, however, are too many to list. They include soldiers, sailors, airmen, scientists, politicians, civil rights leaders, men and women of business, writers, actors, philosophers, artists, and anyone who overcame insurmountable obstacles to achieve worthwhile goals. At the top of my personal list are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Q. What books do you feel have inspired you the most or have enhanced your life by either the writing of them, or reading them?

Of books by others, there are simply too many list. I thought to list authors, but that would be rather extensive, as well. Of my own works, certain of them were meaningful to me in that I was either working out necessary personal issues, world problems, or both. In particular I would include The Enemy Papers, Infinity Hold\3, The God Box, Saint Mary Blue, Yesterday's Tomorrow, and especially Sea of Glass.

Barry B. Longyear

The Enemy Papers

Infinity Hold³

Manifest Destiny


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mirror Self-Awareness - Self image, Self talk and Self esteeming

The Guy in the Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

The Guy in the Glass by Dale Wimbrow, 1934

Believing in yourself

Self-believing and self-esteeming are such vital and life enhancing skills and unconscious competencies that I think it's definitely worthwhile exploring them in today's post and sharing with you a powerful technique, backed up by neuro-science, for how to do greater self-esteeming.

In NLP, we know that 'self-belief' and 'self-esteem' are not 'things' that you have... those words are nominalisations (disguised verbs) for processes and skills that you do! You don't have self-esteem, instead you do self-esteeming. And the processes of self-esteeming and positive self-imaging (which are linked) have a structure and can be learned and improved.

The first thing to know is that the more you do positive self-believing and self-esteeming, the easier and more streamlined and automatic the process becomes. You are re-patterning your heart, gut and head brains.

At first, only your head brain gets it, but over time the heart and gut brains come into certainty and alignment with your new inner knowing, and when you feel it deep in your heart and gut, you know you'll be able to do great self-esteeming for the rest of your life, effortlessly. In esoteric traditions this is called 'centering yourself'.

Mirror Self-Awareness - the power of the mirror

Research in the neuro-sciences has shown that the process of self-awareness is mediated by the pre-frontal lobes in your head brain, and that looking at your self in a mirror and talking and reflecting on your self increases activity in the pre-frontal lobes. Negative emotionality on the other hand is mediated by the limbic system and the amygdalae, which are much more primitive structures of the brain closely aligned with autonomic fight and flight responses.

So, by looking at yourself in a mirror and reflecting positively out loud about your self and your positive outcomes and goals, you cause your brain to switch into much more positive and creative pre-frontal activity. And in doing this you also interrupt any negative or limiting emoting patterns. As you do this, you also send powerful messages to the heart and gut brains, and bring your autonomic nervous system into coherence, harmony and balance.

In addition, when articulating out loud about positive emotional aspects of your self, it is virtually impossible to at the same time do negative internal dialogue or negative self-talk. So this technique guarantees you are pattern-interrupting any negative or limiting patterns of selfing.

There are many components to the connected skills of high self-esteeming, positive self-imaging and supportive self-talking, and we can't cover them all in one blog post. However, the technique that follows is so incredibly simple yet amazingly powerful, that as you do it, you'll be positively surprised with the results. The key is to do it repeatedly over a number of weeks to build an unconscious part (an unconscious competency) that will continue to do the positive self-imaging and self-esteeming automatically and streamlined outside of conscious awareness.

Doing this exercise consciously for (say) 21 days is like installing a new piece of software in your brain(s). As you put in the effort and work upfront, you reap the life enhancing rewards for the days and years to come. And the results echo and reverberate into the relationships and patterns of your life.

Interrupt any old un-supportive patterns in your life by:
  1. Stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eyes.
  2. With passion, positivity and conviction say positive things about your self, your life, your goals and outcomes out loud to your self.
  3. Each day, as part of your morning and nightly routine, develop a habit of looking at yourself in the mirror, repeating the following self-affirming statements –
  • I give myself permission to love and approve of myself
  • I deserve to take care of myself, I do take care of myself
  • It is okay to love and accept myself
  • It is okay to think well of myself
  • I am worthwhile
  • I am valuable
  • I accept and love myself
  • I do the best I can with my current awareness
  • I am courageous and accept responsibility for my thoughts, actions and feelings
  • I own my strengths
  • (Your Name) you are capable of learning
  • (Your Name) you deserve to achieve your outcomes
  • (Your Name) you can grow and increase your awareness, skills and strengths
  • I accept where I am now and enjoy the process of achieving my outcomes

Create and repeat your own positive and encouraging scripts. Remember to include your strengths and positive character traits. Look yourself in the eyes, deeply, as you say these heartfelt statements and really feel their truth in your mind, your heart and your gut.

And remember:

For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

life enhancing thoughts,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life Enhancing 'Green Exercise'

We were out in the back dunes the other day...

...exploring, walking and taking photos of native orchids and other botanical wonders...

...and we came back so enlivened and refreshed that I really wanted to share with and remind you to make the time/effort to get out in nature, get away from the abstracted man-made world and reconnect with your natural environment.

Of course, we all know that exercise is good for both the body and mind... and a recent BBC Medical Science news article I came across backs this up with research showing that "Just five minutes of exercise in a 'green space' such as a park can boost mental health"

"There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being."

So to support you to get out in nature, here's a summary of the BBC Medical Science News article:

Green Exercise: Good for Mind and Body
"Just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

The research looked at many different outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail.

Green and blue

A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water - such as a lake or river.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is yet further evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental well-being."

Get out in nature

So here's a life enhancing suggestion: Sometime today or tomorrow, take 10 minutes to go for a walk in nature. Go to a nearby park. Spend more time in natural settings. Get out into the garden. Find a tree lined street. Reconnect with the outdoors. Next weekend drive to the beach or country and go exploring. Do some green exercise and you'll come back refreshed, alive and regenerated.

And surely, that is life enhancing!


ps If you'd like to see more of the beautiful images from our walk down the ocean, check out my beloved's photographic portfolio at