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self-development

Fear of job loss should not stop you from going to rehab

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This post was provided to me by a fellow writer.

Fear of Job Loss No Excuse to Avoid Rehab

If you are a professional with a drug or alcohol problem, it’s likely you haven’t sought treatment for fear of losing your job or setting your career on the sidelines. But it’s no excuse. Drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc not only on your professional life, but can also ruin your personal relationships. The signs of drug and alcohol abuse can’t remain hidden forever and by not seeking treatment you put yourself at an even greater risk of losing your job or worse.

Key signs of addiction

Depending on your drug of choice, you may experience everything from weight loss to hallucinations and physical illnesses including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The more you use, the chances that your addiction will become noticeable become greater with each passing day.

Telling your employer you have a problem

According to U.S. News & World Report, more than 75 percent of addicts are also working adults. And telling your employer that you need time away for treatment is a daunting task. Before you make the decision, look at your company’s policy regarding drugs and alcohol. You may also be able to find information in your company health insurance plan. Schedule a meeting with your direct manager and your company’s HR department and be open and honest about the situation. There is a good chance your company has policies in place to provide protection for those seeking treatment for substance abuse. You may also be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of reasonable unpaid leave to recover from medical conditions.

Handling it quietly

If you choose not to discuss your addiction with your employer, there are ways to skirt the issue at work without negatively impacting your career. If you have vacation time saved up, consider using it to detox at an inpatient drug treatment facility. Start your admission on a Friday afternoon and you can spend an entire 10 days in treatment before returning to work. Once you return, you will need to maintain an open line of communication with your support network, whether it’s mentors, family or friends. You can also use resources that are readily available to you, such as outpatient treatment and exercise to prevent your chances of relapse.

Continuing care

Your recovery efforts will be largely shaped by your willingness to make conscious decisions regarding your addiction each day. You must commit to a sober lifestyle each morning and keep at the forefront of your thoughts your reasons for staying clean. Since stress is one major trigger of drug use, you’ll also need to find ways to lower your stress levels or learn to deal with negative situations without turning to drugs or alcohol. It’s important to avoid other unhealthy ways of dealing with workplace stress such as smoking and overeating, which the American Psychological Association insists only compound the problem.

Psychology Today explains that recovery is built on the pillars of community, purpose, home and health. You can use each of these to your advantage throughout your recovery plan. Your community can serve as your safety net, understanding your purpose will help you continue to contribute to the greater good, your home is a respite from the outside world and your health will give you the strength to continue fighting.

Whether or not you choose to discuss your addiction problems with your employer is a personal decision. However, you won’t do yourself any favors by continuing to go down a path of self-destruction. If you think you have a problem, seek help now or risk losing yourself deeper down the spiral of addiction.

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How to Catch Yourself When You’re Falling

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How to Catch Yourself When You’re Falling

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EMDR, obsessive compulsive disorder, musicophila and synchronization

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Research on EMDR is still in its infancy,and I can`t seem to stop obsessing about why it works. Normally I am not an obsessive person, in fact I`ve always found it fascinating that somebody can really feel the need to do something again and again without stopping. I tried to find information on the internet on controlled studies on EMDR and OCD, but unfortunately there is little research on it, so no conclusion can be drawn yet. This post is just me thinking loud, so what I write might not be true at all. 

sglast ned (4)

What I found when I did my internet search about EMDR and OCD can be summarized here:

This article provides an overview of the current empirical evidence on the application of EMDR for the anxiety disorders spectrum other than posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Reviewing the existing literature, it is disappointing to fi nd that 20 years after its introduction, support for the effi cacy of EMDR for other conditions than PTSD is still scarce. Randomized outcome research is limited to panic disorder with agoraphobia and spider phobia. The results suggest that EMDR is generally more effective than no-treatment control conditions or nonspecifi c interventions but less effective than existing evidence-based (i.e., exposure-based) interventions. However, since these studies were based on incomplete protocols and limited treatment courses, questions about the relative effi cacy of EMDR for the treatment of anxiety disorders remain largely unanswered.Ja

As research shows that clients with OCD respond relatively well to cognitive-behavioral interventions (i.e., exposure and response prevention and cognitive therapy) EMDR will generally not play an important role in the treatment of OCD. However, there might be exceptions. For example, there is evidence to suggest that stressful events precipitate this disorder and that in some cases a causal link between severe trauma and the onset of OCD can be identified (see De Silva & Marks, 1999). Therefore, it could be argued that if the condition has a direct and known onset and the client’s memory of that event is still emotionally charged, it may be helpful to desensitize the memory and to evaluate its effect on the client’s symptomatology. However, case reports on the treatment of OCD with EMDR are sparse, and the effects reported in the literature show that EMDR has limited potential to contribute to the treatment of this condition (Bae, Kim, & Ahn, 2006; Corrigan & Jennett, 2004).

Synchronization

What is it that makes EMDR effective? Some theories point to the fact that using our working memory (when we follow movements of the finger back and forth) at the same time as we think about traumatic material, gives less Space to the unpleasant images, thereby reducing their vividness. Some theories have tried to explain it by looking at how the two hemispheres interact.

Many people in the field of biofeedback or neurofeedback believe the treatment effect comes from hemispheric synchrony, where activity and frequency of both brain hemispheres is in a close relationship.

What I have thought about, is if other movements have the same effect as watching fingers go back and forth. For example: Why is it that the ocean calms us? Why can we sometimes be transfixed when we watch something that repeats itself? If we go back to the fact that Our brain needs to relax and tune out now and then, could it be that everything that pulses in a steady rhythm, calms the brain? Babies in the cradle get sleepy when they are rocked back and forth, it soothes them. If we would watch birds flying around and around, this might soothe us too. For some people repetition is necessary: Like the OCD-patient who must wash themselves again and again. Could it be that their nervous system has a “loop” that they can`t get out of?  Might tradition come from this same need? We have to repeat certain things to soothe our brains? What about autism, where a lot of repetition is the norm?

Recently I have also started to wonder if music might be the “optimal EMDR”. There is as far as I know, little research on EMDR combined with music in therapy, but I found a video on youtube with “Musical EMDR therapy”. Furthermore, I discovered an article discussing if EMDR has its effect by synchronization, that is, letting the brain find peace and calm by creating a state where the brain cells “sing in tune”. Might this be why music is so important to us? Does it realign a malfunctioning nervous system?

This is an excerpt from one article I found:

The common denominator of EMDR is to reach some balance in the attentive feeling of self, which may be defined as harmonious flow of sensory, cognitive, emotional, and physical associations (Servan-Schreiber, 2003). The best results in EMDR are obtained in the intermediate state in which attention and emotion work fluently and in harmony. 

So, might music and EMDR have something in common?
Right now I`m reading musicophila by Oliver Sacks. He presents case study after case study where neural damage has led to the sudden occurrence of amazing musical abilities. Might this phenomena be the brains way of synchronizing and thereby healing itself? Brain damage was earlier believed to be treatment-resistant, but today we have come further in unravelling the mystery of our minds and brain, and we use that knowledge to find treatment methods that might help, also for people with brain damage. My specialist thesis, was that EMDR can actually change the brain and make it “smarter”. I only did one case study, and can`t wait until I can do more research on this. It would be very interesting to see if a combination of EMDR and music, could help more people, also people with serious condition where normal treatment doesn`t work. Because:

We are born to feel balanced and find solutions. Resources within us can automatically help us do these things. Sometimes, we need help to activate these inner processes to resolve personal problems, to stop anxiety, or to meet a great personal challenge.

As a therapist, I have seen people make wonderful changes in their lives and personalities by doing mental exercises that restore, evoke and orchestrate these inner resources. I am impressed with the power of sound to make these exercises more effective.

I will leave my theorizing for now. In the meantime, feel free to dive into more articles about EMDR, synchronization and Music. Maybe some of you might come of with new theories and ideas that science needs to help people with OCD, brain damage or other neurological problems.

 More:

EMDR and bilateral music 

Why does Music Therapy help in Autism?

EMDR and neuropsychological test results: A case study

Reprogramming my inner computer 

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Our mind is a wonderful mystery. We still know so little about it, even if we slowly are starting to reveal its secrets. Normally it works effectively, like a brand new computer, but sometimes it stops working. In a computer, programming mistakes slow an a otherwise perfect system. When that happens, the programmer must find the mistake and fix it. When he does, the computer must be left in peace. The programmer must focus must be on one issue at a time. If the programmer is exhausted, it will take longer time before he can do his job. 

Our body is a fine-tune system perfected through evolution. When something goes wrong, we notice it immediately. Genetic abnormalities or disarray in the brain can manifest itself in many forms. When our body produce problems for us, we try to fix it. Sometimes we manage to do this by ourselves, by doing things that are good for our body. By sleeping, eating healthy, talk with others or listen to music, we give ourselves space and time to let the body get rest so it can work like it always does, on reclaiming the balance it needs. Sometimes we can’t do so on our own, however. Sometimes we need our own programmers, with an intimate knowledge of what makes us tick.

 Unfortunately we can’t find that help like frustrated computer-users can. There is no phonebook with numbers directing us to a competent healer, that will solve all our issues. There is only trial and error, meeting different people and experiencing different things that can help us in the long run. 
I have worked as a psychologist for 4,5 years now. When I try to contemplate the fact that I’ve worked for so long, it’s almost incomprehensible. In this process my mind has usually managed to fix itself. When I’ve been sad, angry or helpless, I’ve dealt with those feelings and come out of it stronger. I’ve found and trusted helpers that pull me up if I’ve made mistakes. But sometimes my stubbornness has gotten the best of me, and I’ve not taken the time to reboot my overactive system because I thought I could fix everything myself. Even if I know my mind better than anyone else, I have parts of it that I don’t know as well too. When those parts start to give me trouble, I need to trust the expertise of others. After all, computers can’t fix themselves if something goes wrong. 
I’m lucky to always have competent and intelligent people around me who guide me when I’m too certain of my own infallibility. When my mirror neurons are overloaded after too much emphatic work, I have others who see me and inform me that I need to take a break. A break for me might be completely different from somebody else’s break. For me, the break will consist of a lot of alone-time where I can write, read, sing and think. With three weeks holiday in front of me, I will have just that now. I will upgrade my inner computer so that it is ready for more work later. 

So, don’t forget to reboot your own inner computer, or ask for help if you can’t fix it yourself. It will do you good.

  

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How to hack your brain

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How to Hack Your Brain

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How to Hack Your Brain

You are not who you think you are. Your personality and identity is significantly more malleable than you realize. With a few simple tricks, you can exploit your brain’s innate functionality to change just about anything about yourself. Here’s how.

You Are Not Necessarily the Person You Think You Are

How to Hack Your Brain

You are not who you are, but rather the product of many influences. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” exists for a reason: the longer you’ve been the person you think you are, the harder it becomes to change. The thing is, you can dramatically change who you are. It’s actually not so much that it’s difficult to change, but that you’ve developed patterns and habits that make it easier to do things the way you do them. Trying something in a new way can feel very awkward, it will be generally less efficient by virtue of being something new to you, and it often lacks excitement for you when it involves giving up the comfort associated with your way.

That’s not to say you aren’t born with some inherent abilities, but most of what you consider part of your identity is a product of influence. While we don’t know the exact ratio of nature to nurture, there is undoubtedly a combination of both that makes us who we are. We have a tendency to think that change is difficult, but it’s really just a matter of changing your influence. You’re probably familiar with Stockholm syndrome-the term used to describe how hostage victims tend to develop positive feelings towards their captors. Stockholm syndrome isn’t a kind of brainwashing by the captor; instead, the victim adapts to the poor situation he or she is in. If most people can adapt to something as awful as being kidnapped, most people can adapt to smaller positive changes in their own lives. You can even make enormous changes if you’re willing to put in the work and you provide yourself with the proper influences. We’re going to look at how to do that on high and low levels, from priming your brain to manipulating your own emotions, and also look at how your environment and the people you know shape your life.

Most of these methods won’t make you feel comfortable, and, at times, they may sound a bit crazy, but it is possible to “hack” your own brain. Here are just a few ways to do it.

Priming Your Brain

How to Hack Your Brain

Priming is a ridiculously simple technique because all it involves is talking to yourself. On the dull end of the spectrum, it’s similar to self-affirmation. On the crazier end of the spectrum, it bears some similarities with neuro-linguistic programming. Priming your brain involves reciting a given set of words that are designed to alter your mindset. It is not brainwashing and it cannot make you do anything you don’t want to do. What it can accomplish, however, is putting you into a state of mind that will be more useful to you with a given situation or task.

How to Hack Your Brain

Before we get into the specifics of how to prime your brain, let’s talk about how and why it works. If you were to say the word mustard out loud, and then you were to see a portion of the word later, you’d be reminded of mustard. For example, if you were to say “I must have this” you might be reminded of mustard because of the word must. If you were hungry and liked mustard, you may even want some. It’s the same phenomenon that compels you to buy a particular brand of shampoo that you saw on television even if you 1) don’t remember seeing the commercial, and 2) couldn’t care less what kind of shampoo you use. This is essentially how priming works, and it’s all thanks to your memory.

While you’re not going to remember everything you say, that doesn’t mean what you say is gone forever. While everything stored in your recent memory may not be immediately accessible, all you really need to bring something up is a trigger word. This is conceptually similar to using acronyms as a memory tool (e.g. Roy G. Biv) but isn’t designed to help you actually remember anything. Instead, the goal is to place common words that, when apart, have no real specific value, but when together, have an associative value that make you think of happy things, sad things, specific people, or ambition. If any of those common words come up again later in the day, you’ll immediately associate that word with the associative value of the group. Here’s an example:

  • drive
  • do
  • go
  • make
  • objective
  • important
  • create
  • commitment
  • purpose
  • enthusiasm
  • eager
  • motivation

This is a list of words synonymous with or related to ambition. It’s designed to be read aloud to put you in a more ambitious mindset, focusing your thoughts and priming your brain to react ambitiously when these words, or portions of these words, come up later in your day.

Another exercise involves taking a shorter list of priming words and making a sentence with it. Here’s an example:

  • the
  • smiled
  • looked
  • girl
  • and

These words can form the sentence “the girl looked and smiled,” which should bring to mind pleasant associations for most people. Constructing sentences out of word lists (which you can create yourself) can help put you in the right mindset.

These two methods can be used to prime your brain. They are not magic tricks that will instantly make you feel happy, ambitious, or whatever, but they can help to provide you with the mindset you need to better accomplish your daily tasks.

For more reading on priming, and a look at some really interesting studies, don’t forget to check out the references for this article.

Using Your Emotions

How to Hack Your Brain

If you’ve ever found yourself making out-of-character decisions based on your emotional state—such as binging on ice cream after a breakup—you know how easily your feelings can overtake your actions. Rather than letting your emotions lead you towards poor judgment and irrational behavior, however, you can learn to compensate for different emotional states and to fabricate emotions to alter your mood. In order to do that you need to, simply put, get in touch with your feelings. The idea isn’t so much to cry into a pillow about your wasted childhood, but understand what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it, what the root cause is, and what you can do about it. We’re going to take a look at how you can dissect your emotional state to use it to your advantage, and also look at how you can fabricate emotion to change how you’re feeling.

Take an Acting Class

How to Hack Your Brain

You can’t really control your emotions if you don’t understand them, and one of the best ways to understand them is to take an acting class. To some this may sound fun, and to others this may sound like hell. Love it or hate it, acting lessons are one of the best ways to explore how and why you feel certain things. Your goal should be to find a class that will make you uncomfortable every time you go. In my experience, any class teaching the Meisner technique is very effective if you put a lot of effort into the exercises. It can be slow, tedious, and uncomfortable, but it’s capable of bringing out emotion you might not realize you had.

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

How to Hack Your Brain

Your emotions aren’t in full force if you’re not really doing anything, so you need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to bring them out. This doesn’t mean you should make yourself feel horrible, but that you should go out and do things that you might resist because you’re worried about the downsides. Meeting new people is something that makes most people uncomfortable, and it’s a great place to start, especially if it’s a first date. Try new things that scare you. If you notice you’re glued to the couch and don’t want to get up, do the opposite. Spend time with people you don’t like. Go to a movie you’re sure you’ll hate. Your experiences won’t always be pleasant, but they should incite emotion that you can later analyze and better understand.

Keep Track of How You Feel

How to Hack Your Brain

Like an abbreviated diary, every time you have an emotional reaction to something, write it down. You don’t need much detail, but just a sentence or two noting the emotion you’re experiencing and the (possible) cause. For example, I get extremely irritable when I’m hungry. I will lose my temper far more easily when I’m hungry, so whenever I notice myself thinking irrational (and sometimes hateful) things, I always remind myself that I’m just hungry, I’ll eat in a minute, and the “asshole” who accidentally missed the garbage can and didn’t notice is mostly a result of my frustrated stomach. Until I started to pay attention, I never really noticed that I was a jerk whenever I was hungry. Instead, I just thought I was a jerk. This is a simple example, but the point is this: pay attention to how you feel and the other issues currently present, and you’ll find it much easier to manage your negative emotions.

Emote in Front of the Mirror

How to Hack Your Brain

Fabricating emotion is difficult. Once you understand your emotions you’ll find it a bit easier, but it helps to be able to recall how it feels, physically, to emote. We all know how to smile, for example, but you can probably count more fake smiles in family photographs than you can real ones. If you don’t know how to create an authentic smile (also known as the Duchenne smile), it will be very obvious to everyone around you.

The easiest way to learn to fake expressions is to practice them in the mirror. You can try them out to see what you look like and you’ll immediately know if they’re passable or not. You’ll also note that it feels physically different to create an authentic-looking emotion than it does to create a fake-looking emotion. For example, an authentic smile shows more in the eyes than it does in your mouth. When someone smiles a true smile, their eyes wrinkle (creating “crows feet”) because a new musicle—the orbicularis oculi muscle—is used. You’ll come to remember this feeling and be able to replicate it away from the mirror after a little practice.

It’s not necessarily easy to emote in front of the mirror, but that’s not as hard as you think. If your goal is simply to learn to smile better, you’ll get there if you just stare at yourself for awhile. Eventually it will get so ridiculous that you’ll have to laugh. If you’re less patient, you can try to make yourself laugh by making strange faces or just being ridiculous. If you’re comfortable, have a friend over to help. For other emotions, you simply need to find a source of that emotion and bring it into play in front of the mirror. If you’ve employed any of the previously discussed techniques, you may already have a reserve. Alternatively, watch a movie that makes you laugh or cry and do it by the mirror. (Yes, this is absolutely a strange thing to do, but it’ll work.) If you’re interested in anger, you should have no problem getting there by just complaining to yourself or to a friend on the phone.

Emoting in front of the mirror is going to be strange and awkward at first, but after a few tries you’ll get the hang of it and be able to create authentic expressions on demand. These expressions do surface from genuine emotion, so repeating them can actually make you feel happier/sadder/angrier/etc. through repetition. If you need to change your mood and your mindset, the ability to fake it ‘til you make it is very, very useful.

Consider Your Health

How to Hack Your Brain

Anything you do is much easier if you’re healthy—and that goes for mental as well as physical health. These methods won’t be terribly helpful if you’re seriously depressed. If you’re not sleeping, eating well, and/or getting a reasonable amount of physical activity in each day, you’re going to find them difficult as well. You can do pretty much everything better if you take care of your mind and your body, so don’t look at anything you’ve read here as a panacea for the problems in your life. Everything here assumes that you take reasonably good care of yourself and generally start your day in a good place. If you’re not feeling good on most days, you need to take care of those problems before you decide to start playing mind tricks with yourself. Always be healthy first.

You can contact Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at adachis@lifehacker.com. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

How to practice forgiving yourself

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Mindfulness and Psychotherapy

sunsetSelf-blame is a human dilemma. We may blame ourselves for shouting at our kids or not protecting our siblings from abusive parents when we were young, or hating ourselves for something we wish we hadn’t said. But blame creates a destructive amount of continual stress that holds us back from learning from our mistakes and also uncovering a real happiness.

So, assuming many of us agree that forgiving ourselves and learning from past mistakes is important for our health and well-being, the next question is how do we actually go about forgiving ourselves?

Know that you are not the first or the last

One of the first things to do is understand that you are not the first person who has made this mistake; it has likely been made thousands if not millions of times before you by other people. I am not condoning the action, but simply letting you know that you are not alone and that many people have made this mistake in the face of common human challenges. One of the common things we do as humans is taking things personally to a fault. When we come to understand that no one is immune from being unskillful, we can begin to take it a little less personally. This helps us in the process of forgiveness.

Understand that it’s in the past

Another thing to remind yourself of is that this act you may have committed is now in the past, it is not present, and you are not currently doing it. Notice when the mind trap of blaming yourself for past events arises, see if you can acknowledge its presence and the remind yourself that you did make mistake, but that was the past and you are going to learn from it. This practice of blaming does not support you or others in any way at all. Allow the process of forgiveness of this past event to surface and begin to see it as something that you can learn and grow from moving forward. This will free you up to be more skillful in the present.

What we might do is say “In the past, I had done or been xyz, and now I am (connect with positive intention.” For example, “in the past I had an affair, today I am a loving and committed husband/wife and the love I feel for my children sustains me.”

Adopt a learning mindset

We are always going to make mistakes in this life. Everyone does. But the key mindset that turns on this on it’s head and catalyzes growth and happiness is the learning mindset.

This is a single thread that weaves throughout Uncovering Happiness and also the newest release MBSR Every Day: Daily Practices from the Heart of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (Final Day! May 31, 2015 is final date for Pre-order bonus of Free Access to Online Interactive Guide for MBSR for Stress and Anxiety). 

Every single experience in life contains information to help us get better and better with our intentions in life.

So forgive yourself for the past, but investigate how you made this error or if it was even an error on your part at all. If it was ask yourself, “What might I do differently next time?” Then invite yourself to begin again.

This is a practice I call Forgive, Investigate and Invite. 

We can begin to let go of our grievance stories of the past and begin to build new ones with more conscious intention on how we want things to be moving forward. This will be a process and will take patience, determination, and persistence as the old stories and habits of self blame will keep creeping back into the mind leading us back toward our old unforgiving ways that don’t serve us. See if you can notice when this happens and then invite yourself now to begin the process of self-forgiveness again.

Forgiveness pic

Who am I? The person in the mirror

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Right now I am ready “The body keeps the score” by Bessel van der Kolk. At one point, he talks about the problem trauma victims have with recognizing basic needs like if they are hungry or need to move their bodies to not be in pain.

What is dissociation?

Dissociation is a word that is used to describe the disconnection or lack of connection between things usually associated with each other. Dissociated experiences are not integrated into the usual sense of self, resulting in discontinuities in conscious awareness (Anderson & Alexander, 1996; Frey, 2001; International Society for the Study of Dissociation, 2002; Maldonado, Butler, & Spiegel, 2002; Pascuzzi & Weber, 1997; Rauschenberger & Lynn, 1995; Simeon et al., 2001; Spiegel & Cardeña, 1991; Steinberg et al., 1990, 1993).

When they dissociate, signals from the body are often disconnected from their experience, and he writes that sometimes they cannot even recognize themselves in the mirrors. He goes on to explain that brain scans have shown that this is not merely inattention, they really have problems with recognizing themselves.  

He also writes that the relationship and talk in therapy, might not be the most important healing force in therapy. What patients really need, he believes, is the “therapist’s attuned attention to the moods, physical sensations, and physical impulses within. The therapist must be the patient’s servant, helping him or her explore, befriend, and trust their inner felt experience.” Relationship therapy can seem like a kind of ersatz friendship, but “it doesn’t make you better friends with yourself.”

To underscore the shocking possibility that neither talk nor relationship may be necessary in trauma treatment, van der Kolk likes to tell the story of his training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an approach held in very low esteem by many of his research colleagues. Although he initially considered EMDR a fad, like est or transcendental meditation, he went for the training after seeing the dramatic effects it had on some of his own trauma patients. “They came back and told me how supportive our therapy relationship had been, but that EMDR had done more for them in a few sessions than therapy with me had done in four years,” he recalls. Van der Kolk decided to go see for himself what this weird new thing was all about, and took the training.

So, do you know who you are?

Sometimes we need others to be able to see who we are when we look into the mirror.

mirror kopi

10 Scientific Keys to Changing Anything In Your Life

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10 Scientific Keys to Changing Anything In Your Life

Changing your behavior is hard.

Luckily, there is a scientifically proven way to do it that gives you the best chance of success.

Anyone who is trying to change their behavior without understanding this science needs to stop, now. Read up on the science. Learn to do it the more effective way.

Then, start again, with better strategies, and create the life you’ve always wanted.

Here’s the other thing you should know: behavior change is hard. Hard like algebra. You will work on it for “a while” before you get to that dream-life. What is “a while”? Years.

But that’s okay. The secret of self-development is that everybody has to work hard and put in a lot of work, if they want to achieve something great.

It just so happens that here at Fierce Gentleman we believe that every man is destined for greatness.

So, below we give you the keys to greatness: 10 scientific keys you need to change anything in your life.

Of course, information alone does not lead to life change. (That’s one of the keys.)

But never before has so much high-quality, scientifically-validated information been available for free, to anyone, to get their path started:

10 Scientific Keys to Change Any Behavior

  1. Willpower is weak. Environmental influences are much more important than willpower. (1,2)
  2. Information does not lead to actionEmotions lead to action. (Tweet this) This one is harder to back up with scientific studies, but it has long been my personal experience….over 8 years of studying both my own behavior, and the behavior of others who I’m trying to help. Information allows us to know in which direction we can go, but ultimately, emotions motivate us to take action. See also (2) 
  3. The Internet destroys your ability to focus. Unless you’re reading higher-level long-form articles, like this one. Read the book The Shallows by Nicholas Carr.
  4. Facebook makes you unhappy. Delete your account (unless you’re using it for business.) (3)
  5. Today’s processed foods are engineered to flood the reward centers of your brain, and potentially trigger food addictions that will wreck your health and wellbeing. Eat vegetables instead. (4,5)
  6. Exercise makes your brain bigger. It also gives you more self-control, lifts depression, and stamps out anxiety. (6)
  7. Meditation makes your brain bigger. It also gives you more self-control, lifts depression, and stamps out anxiety. (7)
  8. Give up alcohol. The breakdown of alcohol in your body creates toxins that the body has to remove. It is also extra calories that will contribute to extra fat storage. The additional toxic load can make you sick. And drinking and driving or just being out around other drunk drivers can kill you.  Give up alcohol. (1o)
  9. Take time off work. Overwork drains your willpower and makes you stressed and sick. (Personal experience, common sense.)
  10. Maximize neurotransmitters oxytocin, GABA and serotonin. Minimize activities that have you “chasing the dopamine dragon.” Activities that stimulate dopamine: shopping, gambling, pornography, binge eating. Activities that stimulate serotonin, oxytocin & GABA: getting a massage, swing in a hammock, spending time with loved ones, meditating, praying, listening to music, reading. (See The Willpower Instinct.)

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Each of the above 23 principles could be a textbook in its own right, given the amount of research that has been done in that area — and there is much, much more to be said about how to actually implement changes using these principles in your own life.

But the information is out there. There is enough knowledge freely available tocompletely change your life and make it into whatever you wish — if you are able to take action.

As I used to say when I was working with adult students, “There are tons of ways to be an F student, but only a few ways to be an A student.

Whenever I study another person who is really achieving greatness in life, I see them doing one of a small number of very similar things.

If you do the things they do, you will get the results they get.

SOURCES 

I’m a behavior change professional. I’ve spent my entire professional career helping people change things in their lives: ability to focus, study habits, success habits, corporate performance, brain function.

I’ve read tons of books and research articles on the subject of willpower, habit formation, interpersonal neurobiology, and cognitive science, and I’ve been involved on the ground-level of helping other people change their patterns, habits, and lives for over 10 years.

So although the majority of the above assertions are backed by solid science, a few of them, marked “personal experience” are just from my own experience with over 500 individuals and their life-change journeys.

If you’re interested in further reading, see the excellent books, articles and presentations below.

flourish4

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