To break longstanding habits and establish new ones, you need skills as well as knowledge. The recording you have received from Dr. Miller will help you learn the inner skills you need while providing valuable information and understanding to the deeper levels of your mind.
Here are some practical hints to help you get started in achieving your desired goals. All of these might not apply to your specific case, but the more you can adopt and follow through on, the better your chances of success. It is OK to start with a few of them then add more as the days or weeks go by.
- Take Baby Steps: Go gradually, one problem at a time. Trying to lose 40 pounds, learn Chinese, and make a career change all at once is asking far too much of yourself. Take it easy.
Especially in the beginning, it is important to create small successes. This produces the belief in your subconscious mind that you can use imagery effectively for personal change. The sense of confidence and empowerment that result will then make it easier to successfully take on even larger challenges.
If you make the error of trying to accomplish too much at one time, you are likely to overwhelm your new skills, leading to discouragement. This, in turn, can cause your subconscious mind to avoid these incredibly powerful tools in the future. If you make this error – no problem. Start again with a more easily achievable goal. Stay loaded for SUCCESS!
- Name The Problem. For best results, give your problem or issue a name (such as “healing my ulcer,” “becoming a relaxed person,” “becoming a great accountant,” etc.), and write it down. Be clear and specific. Your subconscious will understand you better.
If you are working on breaking a habit, write down the behaviors you want to change. Next, list the pros and cons of those behaviors . Ask yourself how these behaviors hurt you and others, and what the “secondary benefits” are that you derive from them? They must have been doing something good for you at some time, even if they are not now.
Be honest with yourself. Write down everything you can think of, and spend some time reading what you’ve written. For example:
Behavior: “I smoke a pack a day.”
Pro: “It gives me something to do with my hands, calms me down, helps me concentrate, and makes me look cool.”
Con: “It costs a lot, makes me smell, puts people off, wastes time, brands me as an ‘addict,’ and will lead to premature disease and death if I do not stop.”
Behavior: “I tend to be impatient and controlling with others.”
Pro: “It saves time in the short run and I don’t have to take time to pay attention to others’ ideas.”
Con: “It irritates and hurts others, gives me a bad reputation, and loses friends for me.”
Behavior: “I have difficulty falling asleep.”
Pro: “I don’t have to stop trying to solve the problems of today and imagining the problems of tomorrow.”
Con: “Sleepy all morning, hard to concentrate, poor performance at work, irritable in relationships”
Hint: If you have trouble imagining what benefit your subconscious mind thinks it is getting from this behavior, ask your husband or wife (or best friend, therapist, or coach).
- Create A Compelling Vision: Empower your goal. Write it down. Make it simple, measurable, and attainable. “I will be district manager by the end of the year.” “I will be smoke free by April 1.” “I will be in shape to run the half marathon on August 1.” “I will be healthy and well in time for Thanksgiving.”
Now you get to write your own life’s script! Imagine you had a special video camera that could take pictures of the future, after you have achieved your goal, and show them to you. What would be in that scene? What would someone looking on see? How would you be dressed? What would you be doing? What would be the effect on others and the world around you? Write it down — either as a little story, or a set of notes — so that anyone reading this would know that you had succeeded in reaching your goal.
As you listen to the program, Dr. Miller will show you how to use the “Master Skill,” guided imagery. Behind closed eyelids, you will imagine you can see that scene you just designed. Imagine how you will look, feel, and perform once your goal has been achieved. And use as many of your senses as possible as you actually imagine you can step into the scene. Pretend you are there already, hearing the sounds around you and your own voice, smelling the smell of the air, feeling the texture of anything you are touching. The more sensations you can imagine, the more powerful your image will be.
- Make A Concrete Plan. Write down the specific steps to reach your goal. “I’ll do aerobics on Monday nights, go running after work Wednesdays and Fridays, and cycle on Sundays. I’ll keep a calorie diary for one month.” “I will listen, relax, and do the guided imagery twice each day.”
Remember, the three most important factors in learning any new skill are: Practice . . . Practice . . . Practice. Your conscious mind may know what is on the recording. What you want is to impress it upon the deeper levels of your mind. Decide: “same time – same place – every day” is a simple way to make sure.
- Get Real: Make your commitment firm and real. Often the best way to do this is with a contract. The contract should spell out your goal, your plan, and rewards you will give yourself along the way and when you reach your goal. Discipline yourself to keep to that contract.
Rewards don’t have to cost money or be fattening. An evening with friends, a Saturday at your workbench or a luxurious, scented bath might be enticing enough. What would be a really fun reward for YOU? Be inventive. Reward each achievement on the path to your final goal.
For extra insurance, you can sign your contract and have someone witness it. This is for real! You are going to be successful this time!
- Keep Records: Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions. A diary or journal can be a very powerful aid to change. Make columns for What, When, How Often, Where, How Much, and Comments. You can record calories, minutes, pulse rates, miles, thoughts, feelings—anything that is important to you.
Set aside a few minutes each day to do this. Every now and then, check yourself out and see how you’re progressing. If you haven’t done what you wanted or expected, stop and think about it. Can you see what went wrong? What new choices can you make in order to be more successful in the next round?
If you repeatedly fail to reach a particular goal, perhaps the timing is wrong. Revise your goal to one you know you can achieve. This is YOUR program. It has worked for thousands — make it work for you.
- Accentuate The Positive, Eliminate The Negative: Counteract negative mental chatter with positive thoughts. If you keep thinking, “Oh, I’ll never make it. It’s too hard,” silently repeat to yourself something like, “I’ve done difficult things before and I can do this one too.” Counteract “I’m just the fat type” with “If I eat right and exercise regularly, I’ll become fit, not fat.”
Your mind belongs to you, and you can develop the ability to choose ways of thinking that support the changes you really want to make. If negative chatter is a major problem for you, then draw a line down a sheet of paper or in your journal. On the left write a typical negative, self-defeating statement. Then, on the right, write three positive statements you would prefer for your mind to be thinking. Continue down the page with other negative self-talk and positive replacements. Here is a sample feedback sheet.
Negative: 1. I don’t have enough willpower to follow through to success.
Positive: 1. I have the intelligence, the focus and a deep desire to succeed. I have succeeded before in other areas and can succeed here. I want success, and I will have it.
Negative: 2. I feel like I have to have a sweet snack.
Positive: 2. I don’t need it, and I really don’t want it, etc.
Remember, you are doing this for yourself. You are worth the effort. As long as you are trying, you are not a failure. If you feel your motivation slipping, enlist support from family and friends, and review Part A of the program again. Good luck!
- Be A Person Who Needs People: Build a social support system. This may consist of a single other person dealing with a similar issue, a group that meets regularly, an online community, or simply a good friend or therapist you can share your victories and shortcomings with. Careful research has shown that, in making any kind of change, the most reliable way to increase the likelihood of success is the presence of a “buddy” or partner.
- Make Wise Choices. Developing the ability to make important life choices — choices that are healthy, mature, appropriate and wise — is a very central goal of our work. Behavioral approaches, such as the ones we are using, to learn new, more effective mind/body responses can be very powerful. Please understand, however, that you are not being “programmed” by some external entity. You are being given the tools to program your own mind and body. You are working entirely with positive reinforcement: awakening and supporting positive perspectives and behaviors.
Some people are afraid of permanent change. Don’t worry. Although you can make the positive changes permanent, you don’t have to. You will always be able to recreate your previous dysfunctional behaviors if you want to (it’s not clear why anybody would ever want to, but the choice is still yours). This is all about empowering you to become the person you really want to be.
What’s more, you will be able to invent new, even more functional behaviors at any time. Our goal is definitely not to create an automaton. It is to free you from being one!