In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal techniques to help you to transform when you think and feel that you are a loser or failure.
First a quick update:
“Fat people on reality TV”
Read the interview I gave about the stereotypes of fat and thin people and the effect reality TV shows that feature overweight/obese people doing physical feats and challenges.
“Kidnapping victim bonded with her abductor and didn’t try to escape”
Jaycee Duggard was kidnapped and held captive for 18 years, but was she truly a slave and why did she never try to escape when she had access to phones, computer and email? Jaycee Duggard’s stepfather Terry Probyn said “Jaycee has strong feelings with this guy,” and “She really feels it’s almost like a marriage.” How did Jaycee’s abductor succeed in brainwashing her? What is the psychology of attraction and bonding to abusers? Listen to the radio interviews I gave to Russ Morley, on News/Talk 850 WFTL.
Now, let’s talk about strategies to empower you and transform what you believe about yourself and the way you feel.
In my Success Newsletter of July 29, 2009, I stirred up a lot of controversy when I cited a university study that reveals that if you have low self-esteem, positive affirmations can make you feel worse instead of better. Doctors Joanne Wood and John Lee from the University of Waterloo in Canada along with Doctor Elaine Perunovic from the University of New Brunswick conducted a study with 68 men and women. Two experiments revealed that participants with low self-esteem, who repeated a positive affirmation: “I’m a lovable person” or who focused on how that statement was true felt worse than those who did not do the affirmation at all. The low self-esteem group also felt worse doing the affirmation “I’m a lovable person” than the low self-esteem group who simply focused on how that affirmation is both true and not true.
I have also explained in the past that affirmations alone generally don’t work because there isn’t sufficient repetition and they are in constant battle with deeper long-standing beliefs and emotions.
So what is the solution? How do can we change our negative programming and beliefs? What steps can a person take to redefine their self-image?
One powerful technique is to use positive evidence (reframing) to shift what you feel and believe about yourself. This results in cognitive change.
Recently, Jeff, a client of mine complained about the fact that he felt like a loser. In fact, his words were “I am a loser.” I could have said what most of his friends said, “Oh, no you’re not a loser” which Jeff told me only made him angrier. Instead, I asked him to explain his feelings and relate to me what in his life made him feel like a loser?” Thus, step one is to acknowledge your feelings. Rather than trying to pump himself up with positive affirmations which are sometimes simply a denial of either fact or feeling, I asked him to first accept and acknowledge what he feels. If you constantly deny your bad feelings, you will unknowingly program yourself to also deny your good feelings. I am not, though, promoting that you wallow in bad feelings.
Emotions need to be in motion i.e. we need to begin by accepting and expressing what we feel, so we can let it go. Most of us are told we are not allowed to feel bad or down; we must “take it on the chin”, “keep your head up”, “don’t let things get you down”, etc. All of that is true, depending on what you are experiencing. If there is loss, pain or disappointment in your life, then accept that it will feel bad. Denial, resistance and suppression of our deeper feelings lead to further pain, illness or the desire to escape via drugs, alcohol or some other addiction; when you suppress emotion, it seeks another form of release.
It was understandable why Jeff was feeling bad and why he was feeling like a loser – his current story is about many losses and disappointments – his business was performing poorly, he had to give up his house, he broke up with his girlfriend, and experienced major changes to his lifestyle because of a loss of income. All of these events left Jeff thinking and feeling as if he were a loser.
Now, if Jeff were to affirm every day, “I am a winner” do you think he would feel and believe it? Most likely not because the first thing his mind would do is say, “no, your not…look at all the failures.”
Thus, step two, is to separate your feelings from the facts. So, Jeff and I sat down and began to discuss the definitions of a loser. The dictionary defines a loser as a misfit, especially someone who has never or seldom been successful at a job, personal relationship, etc. Next we determined if that definition applied to Jeff or not. It was obvious that Jeff was not a misfit since he was surrounded by a loving family and many supportive friends. He had also been successful in various areas of his life, even though he was not presently successful in certain areas and had suffered setbacks. We then considered the fact that many people were having the same experiences due to the economy; many people were having setbacks, disappointment and failures.
Step three, is to use the process of evidence to shift Jeff’s feelings, thoughts and belief. Here I asked Jeff to list all of his talents, qualities, achievements, accomplishments and contributions – everything that Jeff could feel proud about – past and present. And yes, in amongst all the losses and disappointments were many more successes.
As Jeff looked at all of the evidence, his feelings shifted from hopeless to hopeful. No longer did he believe that he was a loser and he learned that sometimes we can feel like a loser but those feelings don’t make us one. Further, our present experience does not have to be permanent; Jeff could recreate his life, world and experiences.
Of course, Jeff and I also did the necessary work dealing with the specific events such as the breakup.
Here are the three exercises that Jeff used on a daily basis to turn around his feelings, beliefs and self-image. I also do these exercises every day and in this order. You can write them out, state them verbally or just think about them mentally.
- “Gratitude list”: Every morning begin the day by listing everything in your life (things, people, events, situations) for which you are grateful. Choose one person or thing from this list and describe why it is significant and how it makes you feel
- “Things that make me feel good about who I am and what I am now”: List every single quality, skill, talent, gift, achievement, accomplishment in your life, and, how you make a difference
- “Action plan”: List the steps you will take today to achieve your goals and dreams
Here is an example of exercise two: “Things that make me feel good about who I am and what I am now” I am kind, loving and forgiving. I am tall (I am petite and cute.) I am friendly. I have a great smile. I am intelligent and well-read. I am creative. I am a mother of two glorious children. I speak my truth. I am persistent and relentless. I am well- traveled. I am college-educated (I excel at social-media networking.) I am funny. I am a loyal friend. I am honest, sincere and faithful. I am open-minded. I am courageous. I am a great presenter. I am optimistic. I am great leader; I bring joy to others with my singing. I led a team of 20 people at my former company, I pursue my dreams, I respect myself and others, etc.
Do these exercises daily and watch and experience the transformation it the way you feel and perceive yourself and the world around you.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist
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Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.