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13
Feb
0

Are You In Your Right Mind?

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What is keeping you awake at night, or is waking you up in the wee hours of the morning? Do you toss and turn as you try to think your way through the questions, problems, or decisions that are weighing on your mind? Day after day, or should I say - night after night – you are getting increasingly exhausted; but you are no closer to a solution. Do you feel like you are losing your mind!? You’re not. You’re just using the wrong part of your brain.

Now, if you’re a scientist or other left-brain dominant individual, what I’m about to suggest may not make a lot of sense to you. It may not fit well with the way you see the world, or the way you operate in the world. Nevertheless, we know that you’re clever enough to understand that not everyone processes information or makes decisions in the same way. Oops! Did that sound condescending? Apologies! Because, of course, we right-brained folk know what that feels like; and it was not our intention.

“Left-brain? Right-brain?” If you’re a “leftie”, you are already saying, “Hogwash!” Because, of course, neuroscientists consider the “Left/Right Brain” dominance theory to be simplistic, at best, an exaggeration and a distortion of scientific fact. Nevertheless, these terms do provide a common - if metaphorical – short-hand understanding of mental processing styles and preferences. Naturally, every healthy individual uses both “hemispheres” of their brain but, according to the theory, each of us has a natural preference for one “side” or the other.

The left-side (L) of the brain is considered to be most adept at tasks that involve language, logic, numbers, reasoning, and analytical or critical thinking. The right side (R) of the brain is considered to be best at expressive and creative tasks including: recognizing faces, reading and expressing emotions, music, color, images, intuition, and creativity. These so-called “right brain” or “intuitive” methods may not work for you L-types. We get that! But that doesn’t mean they don’t work! Moreover, when we’re “stuck”, it’s often advisable – even for you - to get out of our preferred way of processing, and try something different. Indeed, that is how some of the most creative ideas are born!

So, whatever issue you’re wrestling with, if you’re lying awake at night, trying to “think” your way to a solution, stop! Try something different! Try writing, drawing, painting, storytelling, myth, metaphor, or collage. For more information, read our blog at http://www.c-change.info/index.php/blog/entry/a-whole-new-mind-a-book-review ; and for help getting into your “Right Mind”, contact C-Change. Let us take you on a voyage of self-discovery.

Joanne Martin is the Creator of the Therapeutic Writing Network, and Director of C-Change Counselling. She has over 30 years’ experience in human resources and professional and career development in industry and higher education, and in personal growth and development as a counsellor, educator, trainer and facilitator.   Joanne now specializes in therapeutic and/or expressive writing and story-telling, offering a variety of fun, imaginative, and developmental writing workshops – both in person and online.

 

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29
Dec
0

New Year's Resolutions? Make Just One Small Change

Posted by on in C-Change: General Blog

It’s that time again! A brand new year! Time to begin afresh! Time to make New Year’s resolutions! Sadly, many of us will make too many! And in so doing, we will only defeat ourselves, and end up feeling like failures.

So don’t do it! Instead, make just one change. And watch how, in turn, the ripples of that one change will radiate outwards, transforming your whole life. You don’t believe me?

A few weeks ago I blogged about the power of substitution in changing habits, based on Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit[1], a book I highly recommend. Duhigg begins with the story of Lisa Allen who had started smoking and drinking at 16, and had struggled with obesity for most of her life. In her mid-20s, collection agencies were hounding her, trying to recover over $10,000 in debts. An old resume showed that her longest job had lasted less than a year.

One day Lisa’s husband came home from work, and announced he was leaving her because he was in love with another woman. Lisa spent the next four months crying, and binge eating, unable to sleep, feeling shamed, helpless and angry all at once. After a period of mourning, there followed a period of excessively spying on her husband, and stalking the other women, showing up drunk at her door, and threatening to burn down the condo where she lived. Then, though she couldn’t really afford it, Lisa flew to Cairo, Egypt, a place she had always wanted to see.

But instead of escaping her problems in Cairo, Lisa seemed to hit a new low. Awakened at dawn by the call to prayer at a nearby mosque, she tried to light a cigarette in the dark. When she smelled burning plastic, she realized that it was not a cigarette she was lighting, but a pen! “I can’t even smoke right!” she thought. Then she upset a water jug. Lisa began to think about her ex-husband, how hard it would be to find a job when she got back, how unhealthy she felt all the time, and of all the things that had gone wrong in her life. Soon she was spiralling down into deep despair.

In her desperation, Lisa felt like she had to change something, to find at least one thing that she could control. Later, as she rode in a taxi to see the Sphinx, the Pyramids, and across the vast Egyptian desert, her self-pity gave way, and she decided that she needed a goal. She committed to return to Egypt one day, to treck through the desert. Though she was out of shape, overweight, and had no money in the bank, none of that mattered. She needed something to focus on. Lisa decided that she would give herself one year to prepare, and that, to survive such an expedition, she would have to make sacrifices. In particular, she decided that she would have to quit smoking.

When, Lisa finally did make her way across the desert, just 11 months later, it was in an air-conditioned and motorized tour. The caravan carried so many supplies – water, food, tents, maps, GPS, and two-way radios – that throwing in a carton of cigarettes wouldn’t have made much difference. But back in the taxi, when Lisa had set her goal, she didn’t know that.

It was that one small shift in Lisa’s perception that day in Cairo that made the difference. That conviction, that she had to give up smoking to accomplish her goal, had touched off a series of changes that would ultimately radiate out to every part of her life. Over the next 6 months, she would replace smoking with jogging, and that, in turn, changed how she ate, worked, slept, saved money, scheduled her work days, planned for the future, and so on.

She ran a half-marathon, then a full marathon, went back to school, got engaged. When the interview recorded in this book took place, four years later, Lisa had lost 60 pounds. She is described as lean and vibrant, with the toned legs of a runner, and looking at least 10 years younger than the photos in her file. She had no outstanding debts, didn’t drink, and hadn’t smoked in 4 years. She was in her 39th month at her job at a graphic design firm, had started a Master’s degree program, and had bought a home.

Lisa didn’t make a list of resolutions. She made one small change; and it transformed her life. I know this is possible. It works! How do I know? About 30 years ago I was a pack-a-day smoker. I had tried to quit a number of times before. But one year, like Lisa, I decided that I would l substitute jogging for smoking. It was a slow start! But I persisted. I did quit smoking. And the rest is history.



[1] Charles Duhigg (2012) The Power of Habit, prologue, published by Random House (In U.S., and Doubleday in Canada)


http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Habit-What-Business/dp/1400069289/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356744813&sr=8-1&keywords=the+power+of+habit

 

 

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04
Oct
0

Transforming Bad Habits Into Good Ones

Posted by on in C-Change: General Blog

“Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters” ~ Nathaniel Emmons

You know that tingly feeling you get when you brush your teeth? And that nice, rich foam you get when you shampoo your hair? Well, it turns out that, for those products to work effectively, neither the tingle nor the foam is really necessary. In fact, the chemicals that create the tingle in toothpaste, and the foam in shampoo, were added to these products solely for marketing purposes! And then the marketing campaigns for those products were designed in such a way that we would crave the tingle, and crave the foam, and such that we would not be satisfied until we had experienced them! As a result, marketers were more successful in changing dental hygiene habits than dentists were, and consequently, were responsible for vastly improved dental health. Marketers know an awful lot about human behaviour. Specifically they know how habits are formed. And that’s what I learned recently, by reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It by Charles Duhigg .

Habits develop because the brain is always looking for ways to save effort. And they’re not all bad! Without habits, our brains would be overwhelmed by the minutia of daily life. When routines become habits, our minds become more efficient. We don’t have to stop and think about whether to brush our teeth before or after our shower, or which shoe to put on first. We can divert that mental energy to more creative purposes.

The trouble is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits. That’s why it’s so hard to create exercise routines, for instance, or to change what we eat. If we’ve already developed a routine of sitting on the couch instead of running, or snacking every time we pass a donut box, those patterns are stuck in our heads. The good news is that habits are not destiny. Once you take control, and create a new pattern, you can transform those bad habits into good ones. Going for a jog or ignoring the donuts can become just as automatic as any other habit. These behaviours are easier to control once we understanding the “habit loop”.

What is the “habit loop”? Every habit has three components:

1. The Cue: This is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use

2. The Routine: What follows can be a physical, mental, or emotional routine.

3. The Reward: The reward is what helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Over time the cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of craving emerges, which triggers the response. It’s those cravings that drive habits; and figuring out what creates the cravings is the secret to creating new habits. Use the same cues, and get the same reward, but shift the routines.

That’s how AA and other 12-step programs work. The meetings and sponsors form a structure that forces alcoholics to identify the cues and rewards for drinking; and they provide the same rewards as drinking. However, they create new routines. Instead of drinking, members relax and talk through their anxieties. The pay-offs are the same, but the behaviours have changed.

If it works for them, it can work for you! What habit would you like to transform? Start by being more conscious. (Journaling can help here!) Break your habit down into the various components of the “habit loop”:

1. What are the cues or triggers that slip your brain into automatic?

2. What are the physical, mental or emotional rewards you crave? Note that these “rewards” may include “escape” or diversion!

3. What are the habitual routines you want to change? What routine can you substitute that will provide the same rewards?

Transforming a habit isn’t necessarily easy or quick; it isn’t always simple. But it is possible. And now we understand how.

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04
Sep
0

How’s Your Penmanship?

Posted by on in C-Change: General Blog

I have always felt that September was much more like “New Year’s Day” than January 1st. Going back to school, I had a pile of brand new notebooks, all of their pages blank with potential. Pencils and crayons of all colours were sharpened to a fine point. I was ready and motivated to make my mark. Of course, I had a brand new eraser too, should there happen to be any false starts. But as I sat in a classroom with a new teacher, and new classmates, anything I had done or not done in the past no longer counted. I had the chance to start over from scratch, establishing brand new relationships. Here was a new beginning!

So, while we all hate to see summer slip past us, the way I see it, September is not the end. It’s actually the time to plan for the next cycle. Does September mark the start of something new for you? Maybe your “baby” has just started school? Or, with your “baby” now in college or university, you may be “empty-nesting”. Maybe you’re going back to school yourself, or would like to. What are the new beginnings you would like to make in your life right now? Imagine you have a brand new notebook, filled with blank pages; and that it represents the next chapter of your life. How would you like to fill it? How will you write that story?

While you’re out buying the kids’ school supplies, why not pick up a scribbler for yourself! Start jotting down your dreams, daydreams, ideas, wishes, hopes, goals, plans. Reach back and recapture those bits of you that you may have let go of earlier in your life, but for which you just might have room now. Start exploring what it is that may have got in the way. What can you do about that? What’s different now? Thoughts like these can get tangled up in the tedium of day-to-day life and, in that confusion, may not seem worth exploring. But that would be a mistake! Capture them on paper, where it’s so much easier to sort out the threads. Use your pen to spin those threads. And, in time, that’s where you’ll find the gold!

If you’d like some help with that “journaling” process, some new techniques to help you get to the gold, join us for a Journal to the Self® workshop, starting soon! Journal to the Self Workshops at The Black Goose restaurant in Wallaceburg.

4 weeks: Your choice: evening or daytime:
6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 12 to Oct. 3, or
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 13 to Oct. 4 Due to the "intimate" nature of this workshop, the group will be small. Don't wait too long! Sign up now!
For more info, contact C-Change at (519) 436-6214 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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