Archive for September, 2009

How NLP Anchors can Improve Your Life

Have you ever wished that you could control anxiety at a crucial moment like an interview or driving test or during an important exam?  When you feel very happy, don’t you wish you could ‘bottle’ that feeling so that you could summon it up whenever you like?  With NLP anchors you can.  Read on and in a few simple steps, we’ll tell you how!

What is NLP?

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming.  Simply put, it is a method of re-training your mind to think another way.  It abolishes ‘old’ and less than helpful reactions and replaces them with new, empowering ones.  The best thing about NLP is that you are in control all of the time and you work at your own pace.  Creating anchors is a basic, safe and easy NLP technique that everyone can – and should – try.  Let’s get started!

Step One

Which emotional state do you want to anchor?  This is an important step so take your time over it.  Just saying that you don’t want to feel worried or low in confidence isn’t good enough at this stage because although you’ve identified what you don’t want, this is all about identifying what you do want.  Try to define how you want to feel and be specific.  For example, you could choose to feel enthusiastic or powerful.  And don’t forget, you can create as many anchors as you wish, so this isn’t an either/or list.

Step Two

Once you have chosen how you would like to feel, remember back to a time when you felt like that.  It doesn’t matter when it was, as long as it was a strongly felt feeling that you can remember clearly.

Step Three

Now, relax as much as possible and take yourself back to the time that you felt that strong, positive emotion.  Take a little while to really feel it.  Once you are feeling it strongly, try to notice what you were seeing at that time.  What were you hearing?  How did your body feel?  Were you standing tall?  Smiling?  Confident?  Really get back into that moment of time.  As you’re re-living it, notice how the emotional state builds up to its most powerful and then the intensity gradually starts to fade.  That is completely normal, so don’t worry!

Step Four

Repeat Step Three but just as the emotion is reaching its strongest point, make a gesture with your hand.  This gesture will be unique to this emotion.  This could be balling it into a fist, or touching the thumb and finger of one hand together.  Don’t forget, this is something that you will do in public to recreate that emotional state so don’t make it too way out!  You can leave it at just the gesture but if you wish to anchor it even more firmly, you need to do the following.  While still making the gesture, quietly say a word or two that describes the emotion i.e. “cool”, “calm”, “happy” etc.  For even more strength, visualise a picture at the same time of something that you can associate with that emotion.  Take your time choosing as it works better if it is a picture that you can summon easily.

Step Five

Hold that gesture / word(s) / image for a few moments then release the gesture and break state.  That’s an NLP term for changing your emotions fast by thinking about something completely different – like what was the name of your first pet?

Step Six

Once you have completed Steps One through Step Five, you need to repeat them again at least five times.  This is crucial and will make sure that your NLP anchor is strong and will be easy for you to summon when you need it.  So don’t skip this step or it won’t work!

Step Seven

Now it’s time to test the anchor that you have made.  Trigger the anchor by making the hand gesture, saying the word(s) and picturing the image.  If the anchor has worked, you should feel the desired emotion within 15 seconds.  If you don’t or it’s not strong enough, you may need to choose a different experience from your memory that really gives you the feeling that you’re after.

Creating more anchors

If you are happy with your first anchor, you can go on to make more.  Make as many as you like, as long as each one has its own gesture, word(s) and image.  If you’re making a lot, do it over a few days or keep a list to learn off by heart so that you don’t mix up your anchors!

Handy Hints

Only anchor a strongly felt experience that you can intensely recreate in your mind.

Choose an experience that was purely to do with one, predominant emotion and not mixed with other feelings.

Remember to create a unique anchor for each desired feeling so that the state may be easily accessed when you need it.

Timing is crucial, create the anchor before the peak of the remembered emotion and release it before the peak fades away.   

You need to be prepared to put some time into doing this.  You’re learning a new skill so don’t rush it and don’t worry if you don’t ‘get it right’ first time.  Expect to spend around 20-30 minutes creating each anchor.

If you feel the anchor fading, once it’s in use, take some time to repeat Steps One through Seven to re-strengthen the anchor.

Stacking

Once you get used to the concept and creation of anchors, you may like to try ‘stacking’ them.  This simply means that you choose the emotional state that you want and anchor it as we did in Steps One through Seven.  Then you repeat the steps using the same gesture, word(s) and image – but to achieve a different state.

For example, let’s imagine that you wished to anchor confidence.  You’ve chosen to clench your right fist, quietly say “strength” and visualize a picture of Superman.  When you repeat the steps, you may choose to have a big smile on your face, so visualize that, clench your right fist, say “strength” and picture Superman.  When you try out this stacked anchor, you will feel confident and have a big smile.  See how it works?

Once you have mastered anchoring, it can make a huge difference to your life.  The only limit is your imagination and the amount of time that you are willing to put in, in creating, refining and testing your anchors.  The rewards are so great, it’s time very well spent!  Good luck!

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

We all feel down from time to time.  That is a normal part of living and what life throws at you.  But when you start to feel permanently exhausted, lose interest in yourself and hobbies or pastimes that you used to enjoy and start feeling as if you don’t even want to get out of bed – you could be suffering from depression and may need to seek professional help.  But how do you know if you’re really depressed?

What is depression?

The word ‘depression’ is used far too freely in our society.  People sometimes say that they are depressed when actually they are sad, tired, miserable or unhappy about a disappointment or setback that they have suffered.  True depression is something different altogether.

Depression isn’t just feeling sad.  In fact, it’s much more common for people with depression to say that they feel no emotion.  What they may feel is empty, hopeless, helpless and worthless.  Once these negative feelings reach a point of interfering with your daily life, then it’s time to seek help.

If you suspect that you might be depressed, take a look at this list of common signs.  If you have three or more signs, then you may be what Doctors call ‘clinically depressed’.

  • You can’t get to sleep, or stay asleep or you want to sleep all of the time.  You may wake up very early in the morning.
  • You may ‘hate’ yourself and have feelings of worthlessness.  You may judge yourself very harshly over faults that you perceive you have.
  • You have no energy.  Even the slightest task seems overwhelming.
  • You may be suffering from a loss of libido (no sex drive).
  • You find it difficult or almost impossible to concentrate – so that tasks you wouldn’t have even thought about now seem insurmountable.
  • You feel hopeless and helpless – feeling as if there is no point to even trying.
  • You have negative thoughts, which you can’t get rid of, so you’ve given up trying to.
  • You have no appetite or you can’t stop eating.
  • You are much more irritable, snappy and short-tempered than usual.
  • You have thoughts that it’s not worth carrying on, or people would be better off without you or life is not worth living.  If this is the case, stop reading this and seek help now.

Worried about someone else?

You may be reading this because you are worried that someone close to you is suffering from depression.  You may have recognized that they are displaying some of the symptoms in the list above.  However, depression can also manifest itself in varying forms.

Depressed teenagers…

Some of the symptoms listed below can apply to a teen simply being a teen.  If you’re not sure, you need to consider the following:

1.  How long have the symptoms been present?

2.  How severe are the symptoms.

3.  Is the teen radically different from their ‘usual self’.

  • Irritable or angry? – Depressed teenagers rarely appear sad.  It is far more common for them to appear irritable, or downright hostile.  They may also be easily frustrated by themselves or others and have seemingly uncontrollable outbursts of anger.
  • Mysterious aches and pains – Depressed teens often say they have headaches or stomach aches. If no medical cause is found, then this may indicate depression.
  • Over sensitivity to criticism – Depressed teens often feel worthless.  This means that they find it hard to take criticism.  Rejection and failure are huge issues and sadly, this is a particular problem for over-achievers.
  • Withdrawing from some people – Depressed adults tend to seek isolation but depressed teens keep up one, or some friendships.  They may go out less than they once did, stay away from their parents or start hanging out with a ‘bad’ crowd.

Recognizing depression in older adults

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are 35 million Americans who are aged 65 or older and about 2 million of them suffer from clinical depression. Another 5 million suffer from it in a less severe form.

Getting older is hard.  It brings a lot of changes and stresses to a person’s life.  Some of the risk factors that can cause an elderly person to become depressed are:

  • Recent bereavement – The death of a spouse or partner, siblings, friends and pets.
  • Loneliness – This could be caused by being left alone due to the death of a spouse or partner, a smaller circle of friends due to deaths or moving to a new area, loss or reduction in mobility due to physical illness or not being able to drive any more.
  • Loss of purpose – due to bereavement, retirement or physical illness which now limits previous abilities and activities.
  • Health issues – Illness, disability, pain, decline in cognitive function, changed body image due to age, surgery or illness.
  • Medications – Many prescription medications can trigger depression or make an existing one worse.
  • Fears – Fear of death or dying, worry over financial or health issues.

Recognizing depression in men.

Depression in men is hard to diagnose because of the way our culture views the illness.  Sadly, for many, it is still thought of as ‘weakness’ and therefore men often fight hard to cover up any signs that they are not coping.  Although they may well feel hopeless and dislike themselves, this aspect of depression is usually very well hidden.  What they may mention is constantly feeling tired, having problems sleeping and losing interest in work and/or hobbies.  Outward signs may include them being more irritable than usual, angry outbursts, aggression, violence or violent acts such as punching a wall, reckless driving and an increase in smoking or drinking.

It is worth noting here that although twice as many women suffer from depression as men, men – especially older ones – are at a higher risk of suicide.

Recognizing depression in women

It is thought that twice as many women suffer from depression than men because they have strong hormonal influences.  This occurs throughout their lives.

  • The monthly menstrual cycle may bring premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  However, for one in ten women, this may be severe enough to be classed as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).  Women with PMDD will suffer severe depression, irritability, and other mood swings, with symptoms beginning around 10 to 14 days before their period is due and then improving a few days after it starts.
  • Women are at risk from post partum depression after the birth of a baby.  This usually develops soon after delivery, but any depression that begins within six months of giving birth may be postpartum depression.
  • Then as the hormone levels change again prior to the menopause, it can bring perimenopausal depression.

Women may suffer from any of the symptoms on the list of signs.  In addition, they are highly likely to feel high levels of guilt, sleep to excess, overeat and put on weight as a result.  They are also prone to seasonal affective disorder, which doesn’t seem to affect men so badly.

Find help

When you are depressed, seeking help may feel like a huge undertaking.  Try and realise that the helplessness and hopelessness that you are feeling are symptoms of an illness that you are suffering from.  Although it feels all too real, it’s not the reality of the situation that you are in.  Depression is an illness which can be treated successfully and is not something that you should be ashamed of.  It’s also not something that you have to live with so please, get some help and begin to enjoy your life again

Understanding Wicca – Let’s Get it Straight

Ritual Tools - Brass Pentacle Paten Altar PlateWith ‘new age’ practices gaining in popularity, Wicca enjoyed resurgence – peaking with the TV show ‘Charmed’.  The series followed sisters who were ‘good’ witches and the first episode, entitled ‘Something Wicca This Way Comes’, pulled record audiences.  People have mixed reactions to Wicca – is it a harmless, nature based phenomenon or hags on broomsticks?  Read on to find out more…

Are Wiccans Witches?

This is the most common question and one that can cause a lot of misunderstandings and unnecessary ill feeling, so let’s answer it first of all.

Wicca is a form of paganism, in the same way that Catholicism is a form of Christianity.  All Wiccans are not Witches and all Witches are not Wiccans.  Just because someone is a Wiccan, it doesn’t mean that they are a Witch.  The confusion probably arises because both Wiccans and Witches are forms of paganism but they are quite different from each other.

Further confusion arises from how we perceive Wiccans and Witches.  There are Wiccans who do call themselves Witches but these are ‘hedge’ or ‘white’ witches who work with herbs to create natural herbal medicine.  Our stereotyped view of ancient wrinkled women dressed all in black with hooked noses is a throwback to the times when ‘Witches’ were burned at the stake.  People were taught to view ‘Witches’ as evil and frightening but these poor unfortunate women were often simple herbalists who helped sick people in their village and often acted as midwives.

What is Wicca?

Wicca is one of the most commonly practised forms of Paganism.  Paganism is one of the very oldest religions, going back to the beginnings of time.  Wiccans believe that the God and Goddess are divine and most often follow the goddess.  Wiccans can belong to a group or work alone as a ‘solitary practitioner’.

The cycles of the moon and the beginning and middle of seasons are times for religious ceremonies.  These celebrations are known as circles or rituals and are for the honouring of nature.  During the ceremony, an altar is used, which may be a simple table with a cloth.  Various items are placed on the altar, including an athame, which is a blunt edged knife.  This often alarms those who don’t understand its’ purpose.  Not cutting is involved and the athame is simply symbolic.  Other items may include cups (chalices), candles, incense and pictures or items decorated with the pentacle.

What is the pentacle?

Students of Wiccan or paganism often wear an item of jewelry depicting this symbol.  It is a five pointed star, inside a circle.  This is where many people make mistaken judgements about wiccans.  The uninformed see the star and think it is a sign of Satanism.  It isn’t!  Let’s get this straight once and for all. The pentacle that wiccans wear has five points which stand for earth, air, fire, water and the essence of spirit which they believe binds all living things together.  The pentagram is a five pointed star worn upside down by Satanists and those who have an interest in black magic…definitely not wiccans!  Wiccans don’t believe in Satan so why would they worship him?

What other symbols do wiccans use?

There are many.  Celtic knot work is popular, as are crosses, triskeles (the three pointed celtic knot that was the symbol in ‘Charmed’), the double headed axe, nature and Goddess imagery.

Do Wiccans believe in and practice magic?

Yes and no.  They believe in magick – which is different from magic.  Wiccans use the extra ‘k’ on the end to differentiate between what they practice and the David Copperfield, Kriss Angel style of showbiz magic.  Wiccans use natural items such as herbs, stones, crystals etc to create change that will help with happiness and growth.  They use positive imagery and believe in personal responsibility.  Wiccans believe that whatever they wish for, comes back to them 10 fold so for that very good reason, wiccans do not cast evil spells.

But Wiccans cast love spells…don’t they?

Most definitely not!  Wiccans believe in free will and so to cast a spell ‘making’ someone fall in love would be against their beliefs.  All they can do to help the path of love is to cast a very general spell, asking that if someone’s affections are returned, the couple may be helped to be together…but only if the object of desire reciprocates and wishes it to happen.

What is the Wiccan Rede?

This is the list of ethics or moral behaviour that wiccans live by.  It can be summed up by one line from the Rede: “And ye harm none, do what ye will”.  It is similar to the Hippocratic oath that Doctors take when they qualify and pledge to “…first, do no harm.”

The Wiccan Rede is very like the Ten Commandments but it differs in one major aspect – it doesn’t cover marriage and adultery.  Wiccans believe that love is sacred and doesn’t require legalizing.  If two individuals genuinely love each other, it doesn’t matter what their race or gender is.

What is handfasting?

‘Handfasting’ ceremonies are becoming increasingly popular as marriage ceremonies for those who do not want a traditional ‘religious’ wedding.  The name comes from the practice of the couple holding hands during the ceremony and then having their hands tied together, often with ribbons, to symbolise the joining.  It is said to be the origin of the phrase ‘tying the knot’.

However, there is a lot of confusion about how handfasting originated and what it has to do with Wiccan or Pagan ritual.  There appear to be three meanings and three different historical periods for the practice.

  1. From medieval times to the early 1600’s, handfasting was a Christian ceremony and was like a formal engagement.
  2. From the late 1700’s until the early 1900’s, it was erroneously thought to be a ‘trial’ marriage which lasted for one year and one day.  No one at that time practised it – but during those years, it was believed to have been practised prior to the late 18th Century.
  3. From the late 1900’s, the ‘year and a day’ myth persisted and handfasting is now common practice among wiccans, pagans and those who are ‘charmed’ (excuse the pun!) by it

Be nice to Wiccans!

Wiccans are gentle, caring people who don’t deserve the ‘witch’ accusations that are often hurled at them.  A love of nature and an attempt to strive for balance is nothing like the Halloween characters that are so popular.  We hope that we have cleared up a few misunderstandings regarding Wicca and its’ practice.