Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Friends and Family Sabotage Your Life

In my practice, after a client’s first session they are excited to have some ‘New Direction”. They have a plan and are ready to go home and share it with family and friends. The problem with that is most people, well-meaning or not, dislike change. When it is someone they care about, their first line of defense is to criticize what they are doing. They will tell them they don’t need to change, or that they have failed so many times in the past, why do they think it’s going to work this time? This is only their distorted version of reality, not the person who is in the process of changing.
 When a client tells me they feel ‘defeated’ (usually in the second session) I know words can have different meanings for each person. It could mean they are finished and want to stop the process, but more often it means that that they are feeling ‘deflated’ and need some emotional CPR. That is why it’s so important to hire someone who has the knowledge to understand the feelings behind the words.
I think most people are surprised at how often friends and family unknowingly will attempt to sabotage your efforts. They will do everything they can to keep you tied in with your old self in order to protect themselves from having to change. Change is scary for a lot of people.
Here are four basic types of behavior that I learned about from Dr. McGraw years ago.
1.       Overprotection.  The underlying message here is fear. “I don’t want to see you get hurt” or  “You are setting yourself up for failure again”. This pattern is very dangerous because it’s disguised as love and concern. Be very aware of their motives.
2.       Power Manipulation. In this type of sabotage, people will attempt to take away your personal power by talking to you like a child. They may say something like: “Who told you that going back to school was a good idea? You are too old.” Or,” Don’t be stupid and throw your life away by changing jobs”. This is a power manipulation move.
3.       Leveling. This is a way that people who feel inadequate will try to ‘level’ the playing field by bringing your down.  Your success poses a threat to them and they will sabotage you anyway they can.
4.       Safety in Status Quo.   People are comfortable with circumstances that they know, even if it’s not ideal. A change for the better is still a change, and a threat to what’s familiar and the status quo. These behaviors are usually subconscious and FEAR is the motivation behind it.
If you want to change your patterns of behavior and move beyond the toxicity in your life here are a few suggestions.
First and foremost, don’t get in your own way. What I mean by that is ‘Stealth Sabotaging” is something that we are all very good at. So don’t say you want one thing, and then go about doing everything you can to ensure it doesn’t come to fruition.
Drop the blame game. The “ He/She doesn’t understand me”, ship has left the dock. Let it sink. They don’t need to know why you are doing what you’re doing, just how to support you. It may seem obvious that going to eat pizza is not the best idea for someone trying to lose weight, so you need to speak up.  Tell everyone how they can support you, don’t assume that they know. If you feel someone is sabotaging your efforts, then think about how you would like to be supported and be clear and direct.
Make the changes you want the world to see. If you quit smoking, declare that you are now a non-smoker. In psychology they refer to this as boundary selection. You have purposefully made a decision based on what you want, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. You have the final say. Done deal!
And last but not least, if none of the above work, your last option is to change the situation. Either take a look at your decision, and perhaps make some minor adjustments with your goals to make them little less threatening, or change your tribe. That means surround yourself with supportive people instead of those who are trying to sabotage you.

It’s your life, and in the end, the only person who has the final decision over your thoughts, feelings and emotions is you, so make them ones you won’t regret. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Can a Belief Change in an Instant? By Linda McCarthy Ph.D

Can a Long Term Belief Change in an Instant?

I often get asked the question by clients: “So how long is it going to take me to change my beliefs?” For some reason, people think that I can give them a designated amount of time, and then at that point, poof, the issue will be resolved. The reality is that YOU and only you can determine how long that will take. Ultimately a belief is changed when you determine that you are ready for the story to end. Some of us hold onto our stories for days, others weeks or months, and still others hold onto them for years. They become such an integral part life that when I ask the question: “Who would you be without your story?” the response that I usually hear is:  “I have no idea”.
I know for myself, years ago I held onto a belief (which is usually someone else’s perception that we claim as truth) that if I got pregnant I would never be the same size again. I was told that story by new mothers who obviously had that experience, and that was their belief. I never took into consideration that I too was able to have my own experience separate from theirs.
After the birth of my daughter, I vowed to get back to my original weight by 6 weeks, and I did. I was wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes and people were amazed. I also had acquired an abdominal hernia from starting sit ups too soon, but that was a small price to pay for proving everyone wrong. Fast forward 9 months later,  and I was once again pregnant, this time with my son.  I was told that because my pregnancies were so close together, that my body wouldn't have time to recover and I might as well give my clothes to Goodwill. After he was born I began my regime and worked out even harder, 2-3 hours a day while the babies were sleeping. Anyone who has a newborn knows that you are sleep deprived, so I lived on caffeine which also suppressed my appetite.
I was once again back down to my original weight by 6 weeks, but something started to happen. I thought I still didn't look thin enough, so just a few more pounds. A few became 5, which became 10, until I was in the 90 lb. range. People began to tell me I was now too thin, which was music to my ears. I felt I had won that battle but ultimately, I was losing the war, the war with my body.
I had no idea the damage I was doing to my body at the time. All I knew was that I had entered the doors of anorexia, and it was closing behind me. No matter what anyone said, all I could think about was not letting go of my story which had been ingrained in my mind.
Then one day I took my children to see their pediatrician. He asked me how I was doing. I told him that I was great, never felt better, and was relieved that he didn't say anything about my weight. He gave them their checkups but as I was leaving he said something that changed my life. He said “Can you do me a favor? Go home and give your kids all the love you can. Write them letters take lots of pictures and videos. Because at the rate you are going, your body is going to cannibalize itself for protein and you will die. They are going to call someone else Mommy when your husband remarries.” He hugged me and left the room.
I stood there stunned, and my beliefs changed in that instant. I knew that I didn't want anyone else to raise my children, and I needed to change my life in order to make that happen. That was 26 years ago.
The only person who could ultimately alter the course of my life was me, but he held a mirror up to my face, and I didn't like the reflection staring back. If I’d had someone to hold me accountable for my actions, perhaps things would have been very different.  That is why I am so passionate about what I do. I want people to understand that by letting go of an old pattern or belief that no longer serves them, a whole new way of life can emerge from the shadows and illuminate your way. Let go of your story, and find out who you really are!

Until next time~