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Just how stuck are you?

stuck in the mudIt’s that time of year again when everyone seems to be talking about New Year Resolutions and goals.  There again, this year it feels like everyone has decided they want to find just one word to set their direction or theme for 2014.

One word?  Just one word? One measly word?  To heck with that…

The whole fresh start, new year (that or simply too much time on my hands), did get me thinking about NLP and what got me interested in it in the first place.  My desire to understand what makes people tick.  How they think.  What it is that’s made them think that way…..  How that affects their behavior.

Learning about NLP helped me recognize habits – those programs that run unconsciously in our brains that result in different patterns of thought and behavior that we tend to repeat over and over again.  Often without us even being aware of where they have come from.  Ever heard that stuff about being unconsciously competent?  Trouble is you can be unconsciously incompetent too.

And the more you repeat a habit i.e. one of those programs – be it positive or negative – the harder it is then wired into your brain.  So more likely you are to do it again.  And again.  And again.  And again …

NLP gives you the tools not only to recognize those habits and programs in the way you and other people think and act, but also provides the road map to change the ones you wish to change.  And to wire in alternative strategies.

Add to that NLP teaches you to recognize the previous conditioning that made you the person you are today can be changed.  It helps you realize when you get stuck with seemingly no way out.  And helps you find the way out.

When you face a problem you can react to it in an old way and remain stuck.  Old habits limit our range of behavior and so our chances of success. Or you can choose to solve it in a new way….

OK – back to the point.  I’m not going for New Year Resolutions or goals.  Do I ever?  This year I’m going to call them intentions.  As Deepak Chopra says “attention energizes, intention transforms” – it is your intention that creates your reality. To make our dreams our reality we need intention, focus and awareness.

Here’s a selection of my intentions for 2014, in no particular order except for how they fell out of my head – some are inter-related, some are old, some are new and some are more fun than others.

Eat healthier, fresher food:  While we were in Edinburgh for Christmas I was lucky enough to be served one of the best veggie meals I’ve ever had.  And that’s saying something considering I was vegetarian for about 18 years of my life.  It really reminded me that meat isn’t always necessary and made me aware that sometimes I fall back too easily to meat when there are other healthier alternatives.  So this year my intention is to have at least a day as week without meat.

Exercise every day: This is something I’ve been pretty good at for much of my adult life and definitely religious about for the past couple of years.  My intention for this year is to keep it up, but to be more flexible and varied in what type of exercise I do (I know you’re all bored to death of hearing about swimming – swimming – and more swimming) and when I fit it in to my day.  Investigating yoga will be my first port of call.

Meditate every day: I’ve really enjoyed the benefits of meditation since I started my mindfulness course back in the early summer, but I feel like I’ve turned it into another thing on the list to do each day and tick the box instead of making the most of it.  So my intention is to vary my practice and try to adapt to what I need each day.

Invest in quality sleep: I’m never going to be one of those people who can run for any length of time on 5 or 6 hours sleep a night.  My body likes 8 hours and that’s the way it is….  Well, it also doesn’t say no to 12 hours now and again!  But I have been quick to give up sleep for the sake of exercise or allowed things like anxiety or even relatively small quantities of alcohol to mess up my sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling at 2am.  So this year my intention is to push sleep up my priority list.

Give up alcohol: I’ve done this before and I’ve decided to do it again.  Not sure for how long.  Right now I just can’t see any true benefit in drinking alcohol – other than it tastes nice.  So my intention is to find other things to drink that taste nice.

Believe in myself:  I know – when I’m the one writing this blog saying I need to believe in myself more seems to be a bit of a contradiction in terms to a lot of the stuff I’ve written over the past couple of years.  But over those years I think I’ve done a great job of working very hard to stay within my comfort zone and it’s time for a change.  So my intention for 2014 is to work harder at believing in myself, breaking down those old limiting beliefs and smashing out of my comfort zone.

Be kind to myself:  I’ve always said that if I’m left to my own devices, I would be the worst boss I ever worked for…. I always think I should be quicker, drive farther, run harder, do more than anyone else.  This year my intention is to be nicer to myself.  Consider if I really have to push on through for yet another hour.  Or whether I should shut it down.

Remember to play: To me play was something for kids.  But after reading The Gifts of Imperfection from Brené Brown I realised that play is as important as sleep when it comes to keeping us balanced and mentally healthy.  My intention for 2014 is to play more, have more fun and make time to dream more.

Be more aware of numbing:  We all deal with hard stuff and not so hard stuff every day.  I’m aware that when it does come to the hard stuff I can sometimes have the tendency to hide from it, or distract myself from it, by numbing my brain with TV, shopping, food, alcohol or any other suitable activity.  My intention is to increase my awareness of my own behaviour.  That may still mean that I choose in some circumstances to numb it, but at least I’ll be more aware of what I’m doing….

Cultivate mindful awareness every day: I really enjoyed the mindfulness course that I followed this summer and, like my meditation practice, I feel it still needs to be properly cemented in what I do each day.  I’m not sure exactly what this one will mean, though being more compassionate and less judgmental of myself and others certainly also falls into this one.  My intention is to be fully aware and fully present in my daily life.  To be aware moment to moment of the thoughts passing through my mind and to make my choices mindfully and with intention.

Keep on learning:  I love to read, but when I’m tired or want to distract my brain then I’m a master at wasting time watching rubbish TV or surfing the internet shopping or social networking sites.  I’ve already uninstalled Facebook and Candy Crush from my phone for starters.  So my intention for this year is to use more of my spare time on learning – via books, online courses and I hope via live courses.  I’d love to have the time and opportunity to take a live course with someone really inspiring – like Deepak Chopra or Anthony Robbins.

Find my voice again:   I’m not sure why, but I feel that over the past couple of years I’ve lost my voice when it comes to blogging.  I’ve become so focused on different topics and trying to find one clear voice that I’ve ended up losing my voice entirely.  Not really what I was aiming to do.  So my final intention I’ll include here will be to not try so hard.  I’m going to go back to just writing.  And enjoying.  And trust that will take me in the right direction.  And hope that it still proves interesting, entertaining and perhaps a bit inspiring to all of you out there.

What are your intentions for 2014?

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