Over the years that I have been coaching I have come across a handful of helpful techniques that have proved their worth time and again and I’ve included a few of them here, just for interest in case you would like to use them too. They are not exactly ‘coaching techniques’ but they are all tools that will help you move forward and getting results is what this book is all about. I hope you find some of these suggestions interesting and useful and most of all I hope that they inspire you to go on your own search for the tips and techniques that will help you most.
SPEAKING WHAT YOU WANT INTO EXISTENCE
Did you know that listening to the sound of your own voice making suggestions for positive change is much more effective than the same words spoken by a stranger? When you record your affirmations or even just speak your goals out loud, your subconscious mind quickly recognises the authenticity and authority of your own voice and immediately goes to work on your behalf to help carry out your commands.
There are many ways of doing this. Some people are motivated enough to make up rhymes or songs and repeat them regularly throughout the day. But if like me, you think this sounds too much like hard work, then consider simpler options such as leaving a message on your voicemail to remind yourself about a positive quality, or thought for the day.
ACTIVITY: SPEAKING OUT
Pick an activity that helps you speak what you want into existence. For example, you could speak your affirmations out loud with authority and enthusiasm, or send yourself a voice message with some words of encouragement or congratulation for your recent achievements.
ANCHORING YOURSELF TO SUCCESS
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to form associations with things? We all do this naturally as our mind tries to make sense of our environment by looking for patterns and associations between things.
Perhaps a particularly striking piece of music reminds you of a time when you felt really good about yourself or were doing something particularly exciting. Then again you may have had the experience of an unusual smell evoking memories of the more unpleasant kind. Many people carry these mental associations with the smells linked with hospitals for example. These natural associations of remembered stimuli and their associated responses serve to ‘anchor’ us to particular experiences and you can use this natural phenomenon to help move into a more resourceful and confident state.
Very simply an anchor is an internal state which has been triggered by an external stimulus. You can create your own positive anchors by simply remembering a time in your past which also reminds you of how you would like to feel now.
ACTIVITY: SETTING AN ANCHOR
Start by thinking of the emotion you want to feel. For example, if you wanted to feel more determined and focused then recall a memory from a time when you felt that way in the past. Let that memory be as vivid and clear as possible. Recall what is happening, see it in your imagination, feel what you are feeling, in other words, experience the event as if it were happening today, remembering everything as clearly as you possibly can.
Let that memory build within you until it is really strong, then chose some way of physically anchoring that memory such as making a fist with your hand, or squeezing your hands together. Any simple and repeatable physical gesture will do. Then break away from that memory for a moment by doing something completely different before repeating the whole process again using a different but equally positive memory from the past. Do this with several positive memories until that anchor is good and strong. Then test your anchor to make sure it works by making that same physical gesture and notice how those positive memories naturally come to mind.
This is a great NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) technique that is simple, easy and practical to use, especially when you are feeling at your most vulnerable. Some people love it and use it regularly, others prefer different tools. Trying out different methods to increase your motivation and then learning what works best for you is all part of coaching yourself. Like most other techniques though, creating and then ‘firing’ your most positive anchors can take a little bit of practice, so be patient and have fun with this. You may well find that it turns out to be surprisingly useful.
There is no doubt about it; the people who are most successful are the ones who keep their goals firmly in the forefront of their minds. This is really a very easy thing to do and the results are usually well worth any initial effort it takes to set up your prompt.
Let me share a few suggestions here that recent clients have come up with, just to get you thinking:
- If you would like to take more exercise then keep your walking boots or running shoes by the front door so that they are easy to use. Better still actually put them on your feet when you get up in the morning, it will be much harder to curl up on the sofa with them on!
- Write yourself some supportive ‘post-it’ notes with encouragement to keep going and put them in unusual places that you will come across during the day. Let them be a positive reminder of what you’re aiming for.
- Send yourself an encouraging email, especially if you are struggling to keep going. Send yourself lots of encouragement in any creative way that you can think of.
- Create a photo board or collage of how you want to look or feel when you have achieved your goal.
- Join an online support group so that you can tap into the encouragement and ideas of other people who are going through a similar transition to you.
ACTIVITY: PROMPT YOURSELF
Now think of some ideas of your own.
AFFIRMING THE WELLNESS WITHIN
An affirmation is a positive statement created with the intention of enhancing your life in some way and if used properly they can be an invaluable tool in helping you to improve your wellbeing. They are not effective however if the rest of your day is spent thinking negative thoughts, or engaged in negative self-talk.
Many people don’t even realise that their unconscious statements about themselves or ‘self- talk’ creates the bulk of their belief systems. But in fact, there is a direct link between the words you choose and what you experience as real in the world around you. Many psychologists consider the subconscious mind to be like a computer, very literally creating the reality we program into it through the constant repetition of our inner talk. The current circumstances of our lives always tend to reflect what we think, believe in and give our attention to. If you want to know what you are telling yourself over and over again then all you really need do is look around at the life you have already created.
Affirmations can be a great way of helping you stay focused on what’s positive and good but let me also offer a word of caution here. It’s simply this, sometimes, especially at times of low energy or vulnerability they can also have the opposite effect by focusing your attention on what you don’t have yet, and just trying to superficially overlay negative feelings with positive ones doesn’t really work. It can easily make you feel even worse as you reflect on the enormity of the gap ahead of you. To be of practical use you must to be able to connect with a fundamental belief that what you are affirming is at least possible for you.
If you find that creating affirmations just uncovers a whole heap of negative feelings about yourself such as, “I can’t”, “I’m not good enough”, or “I’ll never be able to” then take a step back and consider some other technique to help build up your self-belief, or strengthen your motivation. Alternatively, try chunking down your positive statements until you believe that they are really possible. This may leave you feeling like the progress you are making is incredibly slow but that’s alright. Slow progress is better than no progress, and as your confidence in your own abilities grows, so you can begin to take slightly larger steps forward.
MAKING AFFIRMATIONS EFFECTIVE
You will find plenty of self-help books full of affirmations but just reading an affirmation over and over again has been found to be only 10% effective at best, and that really isn’t good enough to make your effort worthwhile. On the other hand, psychologists have shown that if you can add vivid and detailed imagery to your statement so that you can experience yourself enjoying your success with all of your senses, then over time this becomes up to 70% effective. The best news of all though is that if you add the feelings of success to your imagery, even if you have to borrow the feelings of success from another time in your life, then with repetition your subconscious mind will accept what you are saying as real and it will become very much easier to enjoy the changes you desire in the real world too, not just in your imagination!
A SIMPLE SUMMARY
Reading only = 10% effective
Reading + Imagination = 70% effective
Reading + Imagination + Feeling = 100% effective
This means that to be truly effective you must not only repeatedly visualise yourself being successful but you must also add the feeling or emotion of success to your image. If you can do this then your subconscious mind will be far more likely to accept what you are presenting to it as real. If you think about it the advertising industry also uses these same principles. The repetition of graphic visual imagery associated with a positive emotion can be used to great effect to sell you something and you can use these same principles to sell yourself the idea of some positive changes too.
I’ll be saying much more about this as I introduce you to the amazing technique of mental rehearsal but creating some effective and positive statements that reflect the changes you want is an excellent first step.
Here are some tips you might find useful when it comes to putting your affirmations into practice:
- Firstly make sure you construct your statement using the present tense as if you already have this quality or thing.
- Get personal and use your own name if you can so that your subconscious mind recognises the authority and authenticity of what you are saying.
- Most of all make sure that what you say is specific, accurate and measurable, just as you would if you were writing a SMART goal for yourself.
- If you can it is always a good idea to take the time to write your affirmations down. I know many people think this step is just a waste of time. But in my experience, it makes it much harder to deny this new truth about yourself if it’s written down in front of you. It is also a way of highlighting your commitment to actually making a change.
- Connect with the positive emotion associated with your statement, or if that doesn’t come easily for you then borrow the emotion from another time when the feelings of success were strong and then mentally associate those positive feelings with your words and images of success.
- Keep coming back to that new snapshot of yourself as often as you can throughout the day. This is also a great way of helping your self-talk to become more positive too. Repeating your positive statements regularly throughout the day is also important because it’s known that on average it takes about 21 days of repetition to bring about real change and affirmations are a powerful tool for doing this.
- Finally, do a reality check from time to time to make sure that you still want what your affirmation describes. If your original words no longer feel comfortable or congruent then change them for something more appropriate.
Nearly everyone I have worked with has been surprised at what a useful technique this turns out to be but as with everything else in this book, you will need to actually give it a go to find out for yourself.
EXAMPLES OF GENERAL AFFIRMATIONS FOR WELLNESS:
- I love the feeling of making progress.
- I enjoy the foods that keep me healthy.
- I choose thoughts that make me feel good.
ACTIVITY: CREATE SOME AFFIRMATIONS OF YOUR OWN:
Use the examples above to guide you, together with what you learnt from your Wellness Wheel to write some affirmations that will be useful and relevant to you on a day to day basis.
DON’T EVEN TRY
There will probably come a time as you are coaching yourself that your initial enthusiasm and motivation for change will be challenged by the task ahead of you.
You may even be left wondering just what happened to those genuine desires to do what you know will make you happier, healthier and more successful.
So let me offer you a good tip to help you get going. It’s simply this. Stop trying!
Think about this for a moment, how often do you say to yourself “I’ll try” (to achieve whatever it is). For example, you may say, “I’m going to try and stop smoking this year”, or “I’m going to try and lose weight before my holidays”. But what do you really mean when you say that you will ‘try’ to do something?
I always challenge people when I hear this word because more often than not what it really means is that they have already sub-consciously decided that they will not succeed.
Consider, what goals are you ‘trying’ to work towards in your life?
Now, what would happen if you replaced the word ‘try’ both in your inner self-talk and outer conversations with the word ‘intend’.
Give it a go right now.
What do you notice?
In general, if you are willing to replace the word ‘try’ with ‘intend’ you will have a much greater chance of achieving your goal. The word intend implies that you are actually willing to be successful, whereas the word try holds little commitment.
If you find the word ‘intend’ too uncomfortable to use with sincerity, then be honest about that and think about revising your goals so that they are more realistic for you.
So there you have it, stop trying and start intending.
Now, to help you a little further along your journey of change, let me share a few more tips with you that you might just find useful.
SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Do what you can to set yourself up for success. By this I mean think about what structures you could put in place around yourself to make it a little bit easier to be successful. For example, if you are trying to change the habit of putting too much of the wrong kind of things in your mouth, such as cigarettes or alcohol, then find some way of interrupting this automatic action. For example by only touching those things with your non- dominant hand from now on. This will at least help you to break your unconscious responses so that you can choose consciously if you wish to go ahead. Be creative here and think of as many ways as you can of helping yourself succeed.
Next, I recommend that you get some support, I can’t emphasise enough how important this is. Going it alone can be really tough when you are breaking out of your comfort zone. Who do you have who could give you really unconditional and practical support?
Last but by no means least be kind to yourself. Remember that baby steps are fine. In fact taking small but positive steps on a regular basis can often be more productive than trying to take a big leap into the unknown. Steady and sustainable change is what you should aim for. Just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, there is much to be said for taking slow, steady and regular steps in the direction of your goal. That way the change you achieve is far more likely to be sustainable and you will soon be able to look back over your shoulder and be surprised at just how far you have come.
So be gentle, be realistic, look for ways to set yourself up for success and above all don’t try!
“There is no try, there is only do or not do.”