Latest Entries »

Into the rabbit’s hole: sensory deprivation chamber is one of my favorite ways to unwind from the ouside world and into my own world.
There are many benefits of using these chambers but in essence,  you’re temporarily disconnecting yourself from the environment  and connecting with your inner self. Two major senses are turned off for a while, sight and sound. The chamber is designed to be somewhat soundproof; when you float, you’re listening to your own breathing, your heart beat and sometimes even your digestive system at work. The chamber or tank is completely dark and you won’t be able to see a thing even with eyes open. So, it is best to keep them comfortably shut. Best feature of this chamber is the floating, your body is not subject to gravity and free to roam the chamber. Combine all three, it makes a Zen experience.

Not all chambers/tanks are created equal and it all depends the place you visit. Some tanks will offer dim light , if you’re claustrophobic,  others soothing sounds but for me, dark and soundless please.

There are few things you should know before “diving” into the hole.

You’re floating in hundreds of pounds of  salt (epson salt), so you don’t  want to touch your eyes or any orifice for that matter. It is recommended not to use the chamber if you recently shave or have any open wounds.  Remember salt!

A more important  note, make sure you go to the bathroom before you enter the chamber. You will be inside for a period of 60 to 90 minutes so,  you have been warned!

If you’re asking yourself ” wow, 60- 90 minutes?” and don’t think you can handle it, guess  what the outcome might be? Best is not to think about it. You will know when your time is up by the sound of music, a dim light turning on or if you’re still not sure, the circulation pump will turn on automatically.  So no worries float-naut, enjoy the experience.

If you’re still thinking what to do during all that time with yourself,  alone, naked floating in the dark,  I have some suggestions for you.

First, don’t float thinking you will do this thing first and then do that. This is time for yourself, just relax and everything will unfold as it should. If you’re ever in doubt,  the best thing to start is by just breathing and relaxation.

Float-nauts beware: this is not the place to worry about your past, present circumstances and your uncertain future. You will not last longer as anxiety will creep up and you want to get out.
This is a place to breathe, relax and be mindful of what’s going on inside you. Whatever comes to mind, let it be. Soon, you’ll get the hang on this and will enjoy it.

Breathing:

Nose breathing – breathing in and out through your nose

Buteyko method -keep mouth close and using the minimum amount to breathe. Start with 5-10 seconds of minimal breathing  and then increase to 30 or more. This is gradual so don’t expect to do one minute the first time.

Systema breathing, belly breathingdiaphragmatic breathing– consciously breathing through nose filling up the belly and exhaling through your mouth.

Breath holds- inhale, hold breath 5 to 10 seconds and slowly exhale.

Relaxation :

Tension/relaxation– inhale tense a body oart, exhale fully relax. Alternate body parts ( lower body, upper body , specific body part, etc.)
Body extension – with the breath, extend through fingertips or toes. Like stretching.

Yogic poses or mudras– go creative here, no specifics. If you have experienced with mudras (gestures or positions) go for it. Nothing fancy, crossing fingers over chest or belly or behind neck will do. The universal OM mudra works well too.
As for yoga poses, try stretching like you would on the ground to open hi/pelvis, etc. It doesn’t  matter if you touch walls or bottom of the chamber. Explore and discover ways to find relaxation.

Train your Kegel muscles, the love muscles . Yep, try it.

Vocalizing breath– tune into your own frequency.  Try vocalizing OM sound with your mouth close. It wil have a tremendous vibrating effect while in the chamber that you can only feel ( and hear).

Body rotations. Like I said above, explore the bounderies of your chamber. No splashing though…remember salt! Do smooth transitions without splashing water or creating waves.

Meditation or prayer– you will have time for this, don’t rush it. It will come to you. Think gratitude,  think in the now. Not the past, not the future and NOT in your problems. I use this time to assess my current situation with a sense of gratitude without judgement and make plans for the immediately future. That is, what I’m going to do once I leave the chamber.

Sleep– it does happens, though it’s a bit tricky. I often find myself waking up as if I’m at the edge of a cliff about to fall over. Obviously you don’t want to turn to your side inside of the chamber but if your body naturally rolls over when you’re sleep, this may happen inside the chamber.

If at any point you get water in the face, STOP. Raise your upper body to a vertical position and carefully wipe the sides of the face, close to the nose away from your eyes, but whatever you do….DO NOT touch your eyes.

These suggestions are just a few.  You can create your own experience for a relaxing and mindfulness float.

If you’re still not sure, again don’t worry.  Your float guide will help you in the induction process.
There is much to gain by trying the sensory deprivation chamber, so go on my friend float and I’ll see you on the other side.

image

image

I’m facinated about how my brain works. It is a personal journey  I have taken on for a while, researching information about neurotransmitters and how influences the brain at the cellular level. I experiment with my findings and incorporate them in my daily life.
The subject of neuroplasticity is extensive yet still we know so little about it.  Enjoy this cool infographic. It’s very informative  and should motivate you to explore more about it.

This Nifty Infographic Is a Great Introduction to Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Therapy

by Robert Montenegro

http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/this-nifty-infographic-is-a-great-introduction-to-neuroplasticity

Top photo credit: Jezper / Shutterstock

The Willpower Instinct

image

Willpower Instinct by Kelly Mcgonigal. Let’s go deep into willpower to see if there’s validity on its truth on whether I’m powerless over my weaknesses  or just plain excuse to justify my addictive personality. Actually  BOTH!

Things to consider:

Commitment instead of progress. “Why am I doing this?”

Self indulgence is self sabotage

Remember the WHY as in WHY I’m doing this.

Instant gratification or long term reward?

Moral- licensing : justifying or saying that it’s right or ok to do something despite of knowing that is not by comparing with something else that feels right

Delayed gratification

Mandatory 10 minutes rule to curb temptation.  When the need to self, imidiate gratification arises,  wait 10 minutes and ask the question of wanting it again afterwards.

1. Ask yourself weather what I’m going to do now will have repercussions in the future?

2.  Is it worth it instant gratification now or should I wait for the big reward later?

3. will all be happy with this decision in the future?

Think current happiness? Over long term rewards?

Giving in? Or sticking out?

Reframe the situation and  outcome. Is this your spending in or investing in?

Burn the ship- the Cortez tale . When Cortez sailed to conquer new lands, he burned his ships to send a message to his men that there will be no turning back. Only going forward. Keep in mind for goal setting and determination.

Mandatory 10 minutes delay. See your  future self… it’s neither a stranger nor a superhero. It’s still your present you!

Concentrate on positive actions of what I want and not what I don’t want. Enable positive talk rather than prohibition or can’t do or have talk.

Surfing the urge. A skill that builds overtime.  Feel it but don’t automatically give in. Ride the urge, feeling all the sensations when temptations or cravings come in. Be aware, accept what’s happening.

1. Wait, stay put, sense the craving before acting out.
2. Breathe
3. Ask what I really want at the end

The foundation of self control:

1.Self awareness
2.Self care
3.Remembering  what matters most

It’s impossible to prevent what comes into our mind. All we can do is to chose what to believe we can do.

What is happening in my environment that is shaping my behavior? Ads, marketing trends, tv, people, peer pressure?

New Willpower definition: self awareness is the one step I can always count on to help me deal with what is difficult and what matters most.

Check out The Willpower Instinct on hoopla digital.
https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11212837 #hoopladigital

image

When you understand how neural pathways are created in the brain, you get a front row seat for truly comprehending how to let go of habits. Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve cells that transmit messages. You travel over the superhighway many times, and the pathway becomes more and more solid. You may go to a specific food or cigarettes for comfort over and over, and that forms a brain pathway. The hopeful fact, however, is that the brain is always changing and you can forge new pathways and create new habits. That’s called the neuroplasticity of the brain.

I used to drive with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator, and I wanted to train myself to drive with one foot only. It took some time, as I had a strong neural pathway for two-footed driving. But because I had the will to do it, I built a new pathway, and I rewired or reprogrammed my brain. You can remove a behavior or thought or addictions directly from the brain.

Because of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ever-changing potentials, anything is possible. People who’ve had strokes can retrain their brains to function again by building new pathways. Smokers and overeaters and many others can learn new behaviors and attitudes and can transform their lives.

Whether you work with others on their habits or you work with your own (or both), you can apply these understandings to boost your success.

Some Powerful Ways to Retrain the Brain

1. Identity the habit you’d like to transform and set the intention.

You may remember the punch line “The light bulb has to want to change.”  You have to have a high intention to change as well. If there is this high intention, then creating new pathways in your brain is bound to happen.

2. Observe what the old habit or pathway is doing in your life.

Advertisements

Look at feelings, thoughts, and how the body is responding to the habit, and see what results you’re creating in your life. Be the witness, and  be aware.

3. Shift your focus.

This is very important. To create a new neural pathway, you take the focus off the old habit, and then that old habit eventually falls away. Don’t pay attention to the donuts and cakes. Take your awareness and focus it on good, wholesome, healthy delicious foods.

4. Use your imagination.

You can build new neural pathways not only with new behaviors, but through the imagination. Just imagine the new behaviors over and over and over. Keep repeating that in your mind so you build new pathways. Focus your mind and retrain your brain.

5. Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.

Say “no” or “cancel” when an old thought or impulse comes in, and say, “I don’t have to do that anymore.” Then turn toward the new neural pathway you’re building and keep on going in the right direction.

6. Use aversion therapy.

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an optional path. I like to call it “the maggots on the chocolate cake technique.” I used to love candies and sweets, and when I stopped eating them, I still had to pass by them when I walked by the candy store in town. I used aversion to train my brain to walk on by: “That’s junk,” I said to myself. “It’s made in factories, sickeningly sweet, makes me feel bad. The company makes it so sweet just to addict buyers. I don’t want any of that.” So I talk myself out of it. I’ve use it with many clients (only those who say they want it) on smoking, junk food, cocaine and many other behaviors.

7.  Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.

When you get specific, it’s easier to build new neural pathways. You “make it official.”  Decide if you want to exercise instead of overeating or if you want to eat fruit instead of candy. Just keep focused on the new choice.  You may want to create affirmations and anchors to reinforce your choices. This can be “I’m free or “I’m in control.” Reinforce this with energy therapies like EFT or other techniques.

8. Transform the obstacles.

Look at what’s in the way. Look at secondary gain – what you’ve been getting out of the old habits or pathways. Look at the stress in your life and how you can handle it differently. Get your mind in the place of possibility. Handle the emotions and thoughts and get on a new superhighway in your mind.

9. Connect with your Higher Source for inspiration and support.

Listen to our guidance. Know you have the Force within you, and therefore you have great power. Meditation creates new pathways and brain changes. Actual studies have been done on the brains of monks to show meditation’s effect on neural circuits of the brain.

10. Transform and make the shift.

Know that transformation is always possible and that you can create new brain pathways whenever you’re ready to make the shift. When you keep your mind in the “I can do it!” space, you get a clear sense that you’re done with the old and on a new beam now.

Some people feel we’re being rewired spiritually for anew era. There’s great upheaval now in our world. And there’s a process of transformation happening on earth in which huge changes are taking place for all of humanity. You have to be present in the moment, overcome your fears, and get to know the Infinite source so you can be a vehicle for the light to predominate on the earth.

Credits: www.marilyngordon.com

Via: http://themindunleashed.org/2014/03/train-brain-let-go-habits-10-methods-creating-new-neural-pathways.html#

Love Your Wife.
Actively loving your wife is incredibly beneficial to your children. The number one source of security for kids is when they know that their dad loves their mom and is committed to her for life.

And remember that your spouse is not the enemy. You are on the same team. When my wife, Susan, and I have disagreements over things like disciplining our children or finances, she’ll often say to me, “Remember, I’m on your team.” Marriage is the ultimate team sport. You and your spouse were designed to complete each other, not compete with each other.

If you are not married to your child’s mother, your patience and kindness towards her are still crucial to your kids.

2. Spend Time with Your Kids.
How you spend your time is a reflection of what’s important to you. You value your kids by being with them and making memories that will last a lifetime. As my five kids were growing up, I tried to be intentional about spending one-on-one time with each of them doing things that they enjoyed. I often put those times on my calendar as very important appointments. Remember, it’s not just about quality time; it’s about quantity time.

3. Be a Role Model.
I cannot overstate the importance of a father modeling the type of behavior he desires in his children. Role models don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk of honor. Want to be your children’s hero? Then be what you want your children to be.  These 5 Ways Parents Can Be a Role Model for Kids will help you be a good model for your kids to follow.

4. Understand and Enjoy Your Children.
Like you, every child has unique DNA, unique fingerprints, and a unique personality. In order to be the best father you can be, you’ll need to understand your children as individuals and learn to show them you appreciate what makes them unique. Take note of what each of your children needs from you the most. One may need encouragement. Another may respond better with affection. Kids grow up quickly, so just enjoy being with them.

5. Show Affection.
Children long for a secure place in this fast-paced world. They find it most often in the warm embrace of a parent. As children grow, so does their need for acceptance and a sense of belonging. Dads meet that need in a way no one else can when he offers a hug or a kind word, and expresses his appreciation and love for his children. If nothing else, make sure to say, “I love you” every day.

6. Secure Your Family’s Financial Future.
Financial stress is one of the leading factors that tears families apart. In order to put your family in a position of strength, you have to shore up your finances. First, hate debt. Do everything you can to get out of it as quickly as possible. Then, make sure you establish a budget that not only trims expenses but also allows you to save and share with those in need. Have proper insurance. Finally, make sure you live and teach these frugal principles to your children as well.

7. Eat Together as a Family.
Most children today don’t know the meaning of a family dinnertime. Yet the communication and unity built during this time is integral to a healthy family life. Sharing a meal together—breakfast, lunch, or dinner—provides structure to an often hectic schedule. It also gives kids the opportunity to talk about their lives. This is a time for fathers to listen as well as give advice and encouragement.

8. Discipline with a Gentle Spirit.
True discipline is a function of a father’s love for his children, which is why it should never be hard-nosed or harsh. The goal of discipline is not to intimidate or tear down, but to mold and correct. Correcting your kids should be done in private, and you and your wife should be unified in how you discipline. Strive to be consistent.

9. Pray and Worship Together.
Families that have a healthy prayer life and take worshiping God seriously help their children understand that there is an ultimate authority in their lives—an authority who loves them and who provides moral absolutes for them to live by. Every child needs to know that there is right and wrong, good and evil. Living under the authority of God will give them that knowledge.

10. Realize You’re a Father Forever.
Someday every father must let go. As he allows his children their freedom to direct their own lives, a good father realizes that he doesn’t abandon them at a dorm room, a wedding altar, or the door of their first job. He continues to love, encourage, coach, and convey his wisdom to his children forever.

http://www.markmerrill.com/10-essentials-for-the-successful-dad/

“the most important battle is to overcome yourself”- Myamoto Musashi

The key is to stay calm in the face of fear and to do that you must have a sense of control…self control.

Actions are determined by emotions/feelings and these by what we. encounter everyday in our lives.

Preparation: physical training as well as psychological. Creating situational awareness to our surroundings , visualizing scenarios of what could go wrong, ways to anticipate a situation and formulating an action plan.

This rehearsal will prompt the mind to act instead of reacting in a real experience , staying calm and with a sense of control in the situation.

http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/02/samurai/

http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/02/samurai/

brain_cell-200x151It takes only one person to change your life and that person is YOU. I knew that despite the people around me, the counseling, all the self-help material out there, I was the only one with the power of change my life by changing my thoughts. No one could have done that for me. Many people will open the doors for me, but I alone had to walk through the threshold towards the light. Sounds dramatic but it’s true in some sense. Recognizing this power to change my thinking was vital to my journey of self-improvement. Putting into practice, to change the negative thinking with the positive, I realized was the work I needed to do to make my life better. But how? The quick answer is brain training.

To understand what it took for me to make that change, we will have to sit down for several rounds of beer and perhaps shed a tear. There is a bit of the story here.

Anyways, my current brain training program consist of the following:

imagesThis is my daily breakfast for the brain. Designed by neuroscientists, the Lumosity brain training program is designed to challenge core cognitive functions in the areas of problem-solving, memory, attention, speed of processing and brain flexibility. It is based on extensive research in the field of neuroplasticity or the ability of the brain to adapt. Here is the Wiki on Brain Neuroplasticity. There is a free version and paid subscription. I opted for the paid family subscription. Everyone has fun playing the games.

The program is so easy to use. It only takes about 10 minutes to play and it reminds you when to play. Also, I can tailor the program to meet my  needs. I do this training at least 3-4 times a week!

images (1) Learning a second language can have positive effects to the brain and even change it. More of that here. I love Rosetta Stone for language learning. It is fun and challenging. The program is broken down into lessons and training segments. You can do it online on the go or using the CD’s of the target language of your choice at home. I usually do this right after my Lumosity session. It only takes about 10 minutes up to 30, depending on you.

download (6)Playing musical instruments, like language learning, keeps my mental monkeys tamed. I use Songsterr an online guitar, bass and drums tab player. I started playing bass guitar right away using this software. Very easy to use. It has a free version but the paid subscription has many more features.

 

images (4)

 

 

Neuro-Programmer 3. NP3 is a software application to stimulating the brainwaves. I use it with the Proteus Advance Light & Sound Stimulation System. More about Brainwaves here, here and here.  This is the crown of my personal self -programming tools. It is portable and so easy to use. I can customize my sessions and add my own personal affirmations. Adding my own personal affirmations has helped to anchor my new beliefs and agreements. This is very important for self-programming.

images (5)

 

 

The light and sound stimulation system helps deepen my meditation sessions. I put the glasses and headphones on and let the device do the rest. The only thing I have to do is empty my mind by focusing on my breathing. As I roll my eyes back a little, I can visualize the lights pulsating like neurons in my brain.

Once the affirmations start to play, I allow them to flood my brain. I visualize the words sinking into my sub-conscious becoming part of my new self.

download (2)

Books, Audiobooks and Positive thinking. Like I have said before, it is a constant and never-ending process and it is best if it is practiced daily.

I believe that if I have what I need readily available and in plain sight, it will be an easier transition into a positive, fulfilling life. Therefore, I made the effort to have positive visuals throughout my house so I can see them all the time. This exposure to positive things like phrases, quotes and notes encouraged positive thinking and since there were posted in every imaginable place, I had no other choice but to look at it and read it. The result was that it diffuses any attempt of negative thinking to enter  my mind.

One warning to this measure is getting used to it and overlooking it like you would with any picture frame around your house. I had to make an effort to remind myself why they were there in the first place.

images (6)

Since I drive a lot, I don’t have much time to read a good book. Audio-books are my road companions in every trip I have made. It makes the journey much more enjoyable plus I learn while on the road. The audio-book selection should include fiction and non-fiction alike, self-help, and biographies. Whatever I’m interested in as long it is of added value to my life. More about the choice of audiobooks.

download (5)Understanding how the brain works was critical in my brain rewiring program. I wanted to understand how the brain works down to the neuron level. I read this insightful e-book called Brain in Balance by Fred J. Von Stieff. It goes in-depth about neurotransmitters which made a lot of sense in understanding how my brain works. If you would like to understand  how neurotransmitters work and what causes a chemical imbalance in the brain, this is a great book.

download (1)Systema or Russian Martial Art is my way of life. It is not just for self-defense; it can be very effective in saving my life or the life of others in any dangerous situation but what I like about Systema the most is how it influences my life every day. It offers many health and fitness benefits which help improve my overall wellbeing mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually. It signifies a lifestyle that compliments and applies to everything I do. From the very essential like breathing, to keeping a good form, how to stay relaxed and move properly and with purpose. More about Systema here.

download (3) I use Evernote to record my daily events, ideas, pictures and videos. I don’t hold anything back. I write everything that comes to mind and at the end of the day before going to bed, I collect and review to make sure I have accounted for everything that went through my mind that day. This is a good investment to unload or dump whatever dwells in my mind into a digital format that is easily accessible from anywhere. Journalism is a great tool for me. I feel I have accomplished something at the end of the day.

This is what works for me. Brain training and self-programming is a work in progress, not a short-term try. Through repetition and some self-discipline, it will pay great dividends in the long term.

download

Our brain is wired to manifest whatever we think the most. For years, I had the intention to make changes and sincerely wanted change. However, my actions did not correlate to what I deeply wanted. I was more on the surface; a wish of short-term goals and instant gratifications. I didn’t realize this because my mind was constantly bombarded by external influences like television, gossip, daily worries and other distractions to infinity.

Garbage IN-Garbage OUT

An internal commitment to change and be disciplined enough to discern what is bad for me versus what is good does make a difference. Later I was able to define it like this: “added value”. Asking questions like “ does this ( thing, TV program, book, word, action) adds value to my life?” helped me to developed a higher standard to what I let inside my mind. Though I cannot take the ostrich approach to everything I face every day, I have the power to choose. Everything I meet whether good or bad does come with a lesson within or an experience that it must happen to decide what is of “added value” and be kept and what is not and be discarded.

Changing my thoughts to change and improve my life is my personal never-ending challenge. Once I had realized this is the key to positive changes in my life, I plunged boldly into self-programming: Neuro- Linguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness and Brainwave Entrainment (BE).

There are couple things that must take place ( at least to me) before crossing over to real change: motivation, understanding, and determination.

I was really sick and tired of being sick and tired. This is not just a form of expression. I was absolutely mentally, physically and spiritually sick and tired of how I was handling my life. For some it is just that gut feeling, constant nagging every day. That preoccupation that something is amiss. For others, like me is hitting rock bottom having experience something so dramatic that there is no turning back.

2014-09-24 22.32.32

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you” that became my personal mantra. A quest to become stronger, wiser and a better person than I was yesterday, the last hour, this past second. This is my motivation; to improve the latest version of me: Version 2.0.

I wanted to take a different route than the traditional faith-based approach to really understand what was going on with me. Through some counseling and personal research, I came to understand that to change what was happening inside my brain and what was influencing my behavior, I needed to go deep into the cellular level of my brain. I just didn’t jump blindly into Brain Entrainment nor I put all my eggs in one basket. What I mean I did my research through reading, counseling and even taking classes and lectures about the Brain, Neuroscience, Neuroplasticity, Addictions, Neurons, on an on. I wanted to understand the science behind it and both sides of the coin. This understanding  it’s a work in progress, not an overnight thing. You will be disappointed to try for a few weeks and then dropping it all because you think nothing is happening or you just don’t get it. Do your own research like I did. What works for me may not work for you. We are all unique people and each brain is uniquely wired and operates  however the owner wants it to.

This takes an 80/20 approach: 80% mental effort (internal) and 20% the rest (external). What I mean is that It works if you believe it works. All the self-help books, classes and gadgets available out there will only input 20% of what you want as the result. No amount of money or time will create permanent changes for you unless you have your mindset into what you want and have the determination to follow through.

Like the saying goes “if you think it will work, you’re right, if you don’t think it will work, you’re right too”.

It is most important to understand and accept this. Believe that it will and do whatever is necessary until the results are evident. Then keep it up as it becomes part of your lifestyle for life. No short cuts here. Change and improvement is a 24/7 operation. Drop your guard and you will be absorbed by the negativity of the world, the mundane and mediocre. You may find yourself right where you started.

And that is why you wanted to make that change in the first place right?

Brain Entrainment  is powerful and effective. It must be practiced daily and tuned to your ” specifications “. It certainly  has worked for me in changing  negative  thinking and bad habits. It is a work in progress. ….

http://myscienceacademy.org/2015/02/06/altering-your-brainwaves-the-secret-to-personal-transformation/

http://ideas.ted.com/7-ways-to-practice-emotional-first-aid/

“If a rejection, failure or bad mood is not getting better, it  means that you’ve sustained a psychological wound and you need to treat it.”

7 WAYS TO PRACTICE EMOTIONAL FIRST AID
Psychologist Guy Winch lays out seven useful ways to reboot your emotional health … starting right now.

You put a bandage on a cut or take antibiotics to treat an infection, right? No questions asked. In fact, questions would be asked if you didn’t apply first aid when necessary. So why isn’t the same true of our mental health? We are expected to just “get over” psychological wounds — when as anyone who’s ever ruminated over rejection or agonized over a failure knows only too well, emotional injuries can be just as crippling as physical ones. We need to learn how to practice emotional first aid. Here are 7 ways to do so:

1. Pay attention to emotional pain — recognize it when it happens and work to treat it before it feels all-encompassing.
The body evolved the sensation of physical pain to alert us that something is wrong and we need to address it. The same is true for emotional pain. If a rejection, failure or bad mood is not getting better, it means you’ve sustained a psychological wound and you need to treat it. For example, loneliness can be devastatingly damaging to your psychological and physical health, so when you or your friend or loved one is feeling socially or emotionally isolated, you need to take action.

2. Redirect your gut reaction when you fail.
The nature of psychological wounds makes it easy for one to lead to another. Failure can often drive you to focus on what you can’t do instead of focusing on what you can. That can then make you less likely to perform at your best, which will make you even more focused on your shortcomings, and on the cycle goes. To stop this sort of emotional spiral, learn to ignore the post-failure “gut” reaction of feeling helpless and demoralized, and make a list of factors that you can control were you to try again. For instance, think about preparation and planning, and how you might improve each of them. This kind of exercise will reduce feelings of helplessness and improve your chances of future success.
3. Monitor and protect your self-esteem.
When you feel like putting yourself down, take a moment to be compassionate to yourself.
Self-esteem is like an emotional immune system that buffers you from emotional pain and strengthens your emotional resilience. As such, it is very important to monitor it and avoid putting yourself down, particularly when you are already hurting. One way to “heal” damaged self-esteem is to practice self-compassion. When you’re feeling critical of yourself, do the following exercise: imagine a dear friend is feeling bad about him or herself for similar reasons and write an email expressing compassion and support. Then read the email. Those are the messages you should be giving yourself.
4. When negative thoughts are taking over, disrupt them with positive distraction.
When you replay distressing events in your mind without seeking new insight or trying to solve a problem, you’re just brooding, and that, especially when it becomes habitual, can lead to deeper psychological pain. The best way to disrupt unhealthy rumination is to distract yourself by engaging in a task that requires concentration (for example, do a Sudoku, complete a crossword, try to recall the names of the kids in your fifth grade class). Studies show that even two minutes of distraction will reduce the urge to focus on the negative unhealthily.
5. Find meaning in loss.
Loss is a part of life, but it can scar us and keep us from moving forward if we don’t treat the emotional wounds it creates. If sufficient time has passed and you’re still struggling to move forward after a loss, you need to introduce a new way of thinking about it. Specifically, the most important thing you can do to ease your pain and recover is to find meaning in the loss and derive purpose from it. It might be hard, but think of what you might have gained from the loss (for instance, “I lost my spouse but I’ve become much closer to my kids”). Consider how you might gain or help others gain a new appreciation for life, or imagine the changes you could make that will help you live a life more aligned with your values and purpose.
6. Don’t let excessive guilt linger.
Guilt can be useful. In small doses, it alerts you to take action to mend a problem in your relationship with another person. But excessive guilt is toxic, in that it wastes your emotional and intellectual energies, distracts you from other tasks, and prevents you from enjoying life. One of the best ways to resolve lingering guilt is to offer an effective apology. Yes, you might have tried apologizing previously, but apologies are more complex than we tend to realize. The crucial ingredient that every effective apology requires — and most standard apologies lack — is an “empathy statement.” In other words, your apology should focus less on explaining why you did what you did and more on how your actions (or inactions) impacted the other person. It is much easier to forgive someone when you feel they truly understand. By apologizing (even if for a second time), the other person is much more likely to convey authentic forgiveness and help your guilt dissolve.
7. Learn what treatments for emotional wounds work for you.
Pay attention to yourself and learn how you, personally, deal with common emotional wounds. For instance, do you shrug them off, get really upset but recover quickly, get upset and recover slowly, squelch your feelings, or …? Use this analysis to help yourself understand which emotional first aid treatments work best for you in various situations (just as you would identify which of the many pain relievers on the shelves works best for you). The same goes for building emotional resilience. Try out various techniques and figure out which are easiest for you to implement and which tend to be most effective for you. But mostly, get into the habit of taking note of your psychological health on a regular basis — and especially after a stressful, difficult, or emotionally painful situation.
Yes, practicing emotional hygiene takes a little time and effort, but it will seriously elevate your entire quality of life.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 522 other followers

%d bloggers like this: