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World Smile Day - Friday October 4th

A smile costs nothing and yet has the power to change lives. When you smile, you feel happier and the people around you feel happier, and the people around them feel happier and soon your smile is spreading happiness to people you have never even met! Never underestimate the power of a smile. 

World Smile Day began in 1999 and was the brainchild of Harvey Ball, a commerical artist from Massachusetts who created the smiley face in 1963.

Now internationally recognized as a symbol of goodwill, Harvey was concerned about the over-commercialization of the symbol he had created; he felt that its original meaning and intention was being lost. He wanted people to put aside politics and differences for one day every year and focus on smiles and kind acts. So Harvey came up with the idea of World Smile Day.

Here are some ideas for things to do on World Smile Day:
 
Visit a nursing home or an elderly neighbour.
 
Contact an old friend you haven't spoken to for a while.
 
Send a card to somebody.
 
Compliment somebody - it could be the assistant at the supermarket or the bus driver or anybody else you come across.
 
Do something unexpected for a family member or a friend.
 
Remember - we all smile in the same language!
 
 

Press Pause in September!

September is the month to disconnect from social media and reconnect with each other. 

Did you know that Australians spend on average 49 minutes every day on social media? And that women spend more time than men?

According to Roy Morgan Research the biggest users of social media are females aged 14 to 24 who spend about two hours a day on social media. Sometimes social media is used to organise events - I have seen posts asking who wants to go for a walk or to meet up somewhere. This is perhaps the most positive of social media interactions. On the other hand, social media use often leads to arguments or even bullying, sometimes with disastrous consequences. 

Men tend to use social media more for business and dating while women tend to use it to connect with family and friends, and for information. But it is no substitute for the real thing! There is little development of interpersonal skills like conflict resolution, and the instant communication and portrayal of perfect lives leads to impatience and dissatisfaction. 

So this month spend less time on social media and use the time you've saved to create new connections with others - go for a walk with a friend or visit a neighbour or talk to your family. Remember . . . 

Disconnect to Reconnect!

 

NLP - what can it do for you?

Imagine if your computer came without instructions. No clicking on 'Help' to get information on how to change or undo something. You are stuck with whatever programming it came with and whatever information you have put in, whether that information was harmful or beneficial. No 'Delete' button. No 'Backspace'. No re-programming of software. After a few months, your computer would start freezing and possibly crash altogether.

Your mind is far more complex than any computer yet built. And yet it came without any instructions. Your unconscious mind is about 95% of your thought processes. The initial programming took place in childhood and has probably not changed much since. Over the years, you have absorbed and developed patterns of thought and behaviours that may be harmful or beneficial. Traditionally, it is thought that it takes months, if not years, of hard work and introspection to change that programming. But NLP or neurolinguistic programming provides techniques to change the ways in which we code and store our subjective experience, thus changing our unconscious programming. It is like an instruction book for our minds.

Just take a moment now to think about a recent happy memory - make a picture in your mind of that event.

As you are doing this, start to notice the feeling that you are experiencing.

Now change the characteristics of the picture:

If it is in colour, change it to black and white.

If it is in black and white, change it to colour.

If you are looking at yourself in the picture, step inside your body so that you are looking through your own eyes.

Or if you are inside your body, step outside the picture.

Make the picture bigger or smaller.

Put a frame around it or take the frame off.

Bring it closer or push it further away.

Make it brighter or dimmer. As you are making these changes, notice if the associated feeling gets more intense or less intense. Whenever you notice a change that makes the feeling more intense, ask your unconscious mind to lock that change into place. (Assuming you want to feel happier when you remember that event!)

Now do the same with an unhappy memory, but this time try to make the feeling less intense. This is a simple example of how the coding of our memories influences the intensity of the emotion attached to that memory. I'm sure that most people would like to re-visit the intensity of their happy memories and tone down the emotions attached to negative events. After all, you've been through it once - why keep on re-living it?

What is Neurolinguistic Programming?

NLP uses many such techniques to help people to let go of crippling negative emotions and behaviour patterns and install beneficial patterns. NLP or neurolinguistic programming deals with the relationships between:

  • how we think (neuro)
  • how we communicate with ourselves and others (linguistic)
  • our habitual behaviours and emotions (programming).

Basically, it studies the structure of how we think and experience the world. This is obviously very subjective and does not lend itself to precise, statistical formulae. Instead it leads to models of how our minds work. From these models, techniques for quickly and effectively changing thoughts, behaviours and beliefs that limit you have been developed.

How did it develop?

NLP started in the 1970s with Richard Bandler and John Grinder. They studied people who excelled in their professions and asked "What is the difference that makes the difference?" Among those they studied were Milton Erickson (hypnotherapist), Virginia Satir (family therapist) and Fritz Perls (co-developer of the Gestalt Theory which revolutionised psychology). They concentrated, not on the content of what they did, but on the underlying mental structures that they used.

From these studies Bandler and Grinder developed an understanding of the way that we construct our experience of the world in our minds. The way in which we unconsciously code and store that experience determines our reactions and behaviour.

Re-programming your mind

Patterns of thought and behaviours set up "neural pathways" in our brains. A neural response will go down the most used path - the path of least resistance. For example, you're feeling good and then you get home. You walk in the door and see the mess the kids (or your flatmates) have left. The visual stimulus of seeing the mess sets up a neural response which takes the path of least resistance - and you immediately react in the same way that you have reacted every other time this has happened, even although you know that it it isn't going to help the situation. You may have promised yourself that you're going to try a different strategy the next time this happens but you find yourself reacting in the same old way.

With NLP, you can re-program that neural response to help you develop a different strategy for handling the situation. NLP is beneficial for may different issues. Thought and behaviour patterns that no longer serve you can be changed. Issues like phobias can be helped. Old beliefs that are limiting you (e.g. "I'm no good at public speaking/making friends/building my business, etc", "I'll never be successful", "I'll always be poor", "Life is hard") can be identified and changed to beliefs that empower you.

Many of the techniques of NLP involve visualistaion but don't worry if you find this hard - the techniques can be adapted to suit you.

Creating success

NLP is often used in coaching sports people - the visualisations help to improve techniques while empowering beliefs are developed. There have been a number of studies showing the benefits of visualisation in sport. One famous one was conducted at the University of Chicago. Athletes were tested to determine their free-throw proficiency. They were then randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first went to the gym every day for one hour and practiced throwing free throws.

The second group also went to the gym, but instead of physically practicing, they lay down and simply visualised themselves successfully shooting. The third group were instructed to forget about basketball and not practise at all. At the end of 30 days, the three groups were again tested to determine their free-throw proficiency.

The players who hadn't practised at all showed no improvement in performance; many exhibiting a drop in performance. Those who had physically practised one hour each day showed a performance increase of 24 percent. The visualisation group, by merely imagining themselves successfully shooting free throws, improved 23 percent!

Elite athletes have been incorporating imagery into their training for years. In a study of 235 Canadian Olympic athletes who participated in the 1984 Games, 99 percent reported using visualisation techniques. American athletes also rely on these techniques. Rebecca Smith, a clinical research assistant in sports psychology at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, stated that all elite American athletes use visualisation techniques.

So, if you want to create success in your life, or simply change some of those annoying habits - start visualising! Better still, find out more about NLP and its techniques. There are numerous books and courses that can teach you to develop these skills.

Suggested Reading

Frogs into Princes - Richard Bandler and John Grinder

Using Your Brain for a Change - Richard Bandler

The Emprint Period by Leslie Cameron-Bandler

Transforming Your Self by Steve Andreas

The Secret of Creating Your Future by Tad James

What is hypnosis?

There are a lot of myths around hypnosis - I regularly get people coming in the clinic who ask me not to make them quack like a duck. Or they say things like, 'My partner wants you to make me stop smoking'.

Well, the good news is I can't make anybody do anything they don't want to, whether that's quacking like a duck or stopping smoking. There's nothing I, nor any other hypnotist, can do to force you to do something.

You're probably saying to yourself, 'What about stage hypnosis? I've seen them make those people do some weird things'. The truth is that a stage hypnotist begins with an audience of possibly hundreds and, through a process of elimination, ends up with a handful of people on the stage. They are there because, deep down at an unconscious level, they want to be there. Maybe they want to experience being hypnotised or maybe they're naturally shy and want a reason to experience the opposite or maybe there's some other reason. At some level of awareness, they're choosing to participate.

Another common misconception is that you're unconscious when you're hypnotised. In fact, hypnosis is a heightened state of awareness. Your hearing becomes more acute - you become more aware. It is similar to that state of drifting that you enter just before you fall asleep, where your mind is starting to dream but you are still aware of your surroundings.

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of awareness that we all drift in and out of every day - about 140 times a day, in fact! Daydreaming and being 'on automatic pilot' are examples of self-hypnosis. Sometimes people worry that they may reveal things while in trance. Most hypnotherapists don't need the client to talk while they're hypnotised. The therapy is based on information that the client gives while fully conscious and then the therapist, after inducing trance, will offer beneficial suggestions to the unconscious mind. The client can accept or reject these suggestions. Even if the hypnotherapist asks a question, the client will not give anything away that they don't want to.

If you do decide to explore hypnotherapy, make sure that you go to a hypnotherapist that is registered with one of the relevant professional associations. The Australian Hypnotherapists Association or the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists ensure that their members are fully qualified.

fully qualified.