Why doesn’t therapy work?

Every so often I get clients who tell me that within one session with me they feel so much better than after 4, 5, 6 sessions with their psychologist.
Is it that I am much better than other therapists, usually working with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Solution-Focused (Brief) Therapy (SFBT)?  
Ha, I wish! …. So, how can this be?

What’s happening is a common mistake we humans make.  We love to think that we’re all rational beings and that we can resolve our problems with rational methods.

If you’ve read my previous blogs you know that I love The Work by Byron Katie, a very CBT way of working.  I just like Katie’s worksheet better than the ABC(DEF) worksheet from CBT / Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.  It’s more personable and if you want to try it, she has volunteers available for you – free of charge!

These exercises work like magic when people are getting wrapped up in negative or self-destructive thinking or are stressing themselves out with imaginary future events that are never going to happen.
It works great when you’ve got patterns or beliefs taken over from your parents that no longer serve you.  As the Buddha says: our human suffering is caused by our convictions, cravings, thoughts.  Use the worksheet and you can fix it.  Next time you try to go into an outdated pattern of negative thinking, your brain will recognize it and interfere.  Same goes for focusing on your strengths, recognizing wins and successes.  Wonderful stuff – that is, if your rational brain is on-line during your problem state.

Yesterday I was having lunch with my old colleagues. We had a great conversation: several people told me they liked my blogs, so I was feeling wonderful. Of course, this is not even remotely interesting to you, but it did encourage me to finally start writing again. So, here it is!

The topic: stress takes you back to your childhood and your family. Why?

What do you need to let go

The autopilot

When there we’ve got more work than we can handle, we build up stress, and when we’re stressed, we revert to running on the automatic pilot as much as we can. Going on autopilot saves us energy. However, the autopilot is not always pleasant for people around us:
  • It’s locked in on the goal
  • It hates distractions
  • It believes it’s always right
  • It’s quickly on the defense
  • It’s irritable with what- or whoever irrelevant for our goal

Continue reading “Warning: you’re bringing your family to work”

Stress at work… A corporate, project or change management role is a challenge. Performing at the higher levels is top sport. Like an athlete, you need to keep yourself sharp, in shape, react instantly, be strategic, predict what the next steps need to be and act accordingly.

Athletes work a lot on state control, keeping their mental game together – even when things start to look bleak. They have to stay cool as a cucumber.

What do YOU do to manage the stressors in your life? Are you able to maintain your high performance state at all times, or do you sometimes find yourself lacking energy? Lashing out to your loved ones? Jumpy and on edge like a scaredy-cat?

What distinguishes people who are resilient, who seem to wear their Teflon-coating at all times, from those of us who bring work stress to our family and homes?

LEARNED BEHAVIOUR

Stress is a given. How we deal with it is not. A lot is learned behaviour, habits. Learned behaviour means we can change it. We can bring the stress reaction down with practice.

What do unflappable people use as defense mechanisms?

Continue reading “Get that teflon coating against stress”

Train your happiness or “the happy few”

Weird concept: “The Happy Few”.

Honestly, to me it seems The Happy Few are usually not so happy. And besides, thanks to Positive Psychology we know exactly what to do to be happy!

Happiness is 1. a muscle that you can practice and 2. a choice you make.

Let’s start with #2. Yes, I no longer have to adhere to any rules but my own, so I can start with #2. if I like!

2. The choice you make

Say, you are not making the choices that are at your heart’s desire.

For instance: you tell yourself you are safe when you’ve got 500K on the bank.

Continue reading “Train your happiness or “the happy few””

So, I was sitting at my desk, with Mont Blanc view, in my dream job, leading a great team, interesting projects. Happily married, a lovely house, dear friends, bucket loads of money and …. I was freakin’ unhappy. What the heck?! Impossible! Embarrassing! Unthinkable!

Acknowledge success

To cut a long story short, I found my way back to happiness with positive psychology. Rainbows & roses. Let me tell you about it… or am I the only one with luxury problems?

What if the job you loved makes no sense to you now? You had energy to run marathons before but now you ask your love to kick you out of bed each morning. All your life you were convinced that you must add value, work hard, rise to the higher echelons. You’ve pushed yourself day-to-day like a top athlete. Is turning your life around really an option? Retiring early? Going down another path? What to do with the rest of your life?  You may fear the lack of status. Because who are you, if not the VP of xyz, the partner in this firm, the director at this company? Who will want to know you if you are no longer moving within your professional network? You may fear not having that regular income, not convinced you deserve to live so selfishly, choosing to do only what you want. This is not what your parents taught you. Who are you to live only for pleasure & freedom? Not earning that income, losing that status, no longer measuring your success by a big car, a job that impresses, being useful to society in a way you believe is right… If becoming a rat-race drop-out is your dirty secret desire … I’ve got some tips.

 

Emotional Intelligence Competencies Goleman

Emotional Intelligence is an essential skill for any leadership function.
The topic is often snubbed as “soft skills”, but a.o. HBR, McKinsey, Korn Ferry research shows that these skills are in hard demand by the corporations for any leadership function.

Several recruitment agencies reported that they are now being instructed to value “soft skills” above “technical skills” for leadership searches.

Certainly for service companies, people are the most important asset and losing important talent in your team can cost you and the company dearly. Sometimes this means you have to say goodbye to those who are undermining your team. And, how do you do that with emotional intelligence?

Do you have concerns about keeping your talented team members on board? Are you working effectively with other functions and businesses in the organization? Would you like to keep growing and learning, so you become eligible for your next promotion? How can you increase your influencing & persuation skills?

Sometimes we find ourselves holding on, with our nails digging in, hoping to maintain security, safety, certainty.

For me, this usually happened when I was holding on to relationships that had died,  6 … 9 … 12 months before. Utterly unhappy, without the guts to end it. Because the devil you know…

Well, one thing was certain, I maintained the security of unhappiness till the bitter end.

That bitter end is usually when the universe throws you a curve ball and you are forced to do something, anything.
And then finally, you go through the shouting, the tears, the grief, the pain.
Only to come out on the other end, a bit shaken but still in one piece (surprise! surprise!).

And there the “epiphany” awaits you that you should have done this months earlier. That yes, you feel guilty. That yes, you disappointed people. That yes, this was painful.

But YES!!! IT WAS WORTHWHILE!

Because in taking the guilt, you’ve grown up and grown taller at least 2 inches.
Reality comes with the unexpected – can you believe that that curve ball the universe throws at you is for the best?
When will you start to have trust that your life leads you down the path that was meant for you?
Fighting reality… haven’t we all been there? How about you? Are you ready to stop it?

Our What stories have you been telling yourselfsuffering comes from our thoughts, desires, convictions about what life should be, what should happen, not from what is actually happening. Suffering will cease as we let go of this clinging & craving for things that aren’t. When we experience grief, we want back what we lost.
When we are angry with someone, we want this person to behave differently than they do. We experience anxiety about (imaginary) things we do not want to happen. In all these cases, you are wasting energy fighting reality – in the last case, even a reality that does not exist and most likely will never exist.

The unthinkable suffering Victor Frankl experienced in the concentration camps left him with wisdom where death was close, because he was able to maintain purpose, meaning in his need to survive this suffering. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, you’ll find his endless wisdom that prescribes us to find meaning in the things that we want to believe should not be so. Once we find that meaning, we know that everything is as it should be – even the bad experiences have a purpose.

So, I totally broke through my perfectionism! Happy release! This is so powerful…

John Grinder NLP

My perfectionism was very specific: for me it meant that I could not fail, not that I would do everything perfectly.

Well, what does it mean “to fail”?
For everyone, these words mean something different, while the consequences can be fairly similar.
Self-torture, pushy for others, taking too much time for things that are not worth it.
In the end, it can thus bring you the opposite effect of holding you back from being the best you can be.

What is the underlying purpose of your perfectionism?

I don’t know about you, but I do sports regularly, eat healthy and make sure I rest well.
But it wasn’t until a couple of years back that I realized that I was forgetting something….
And I think most of us are in the same place.

We do sports to keep our body in good shape, we go on holidays to spend quality time with the family, we take vitamins to support our immune system. Maybe you even do your calls standing up these days, since you heard “sitting is the new smoking”?
So, would you consider yourself to be fit?

Whether yes or no, let me ask you another question: what efforts do you make to ensure the fitness of your magnificent brain? Most of us treat our laptop better than the wiring of our internal computer: virus protection, defragmenting, removing the cookies,…

Scientists now tell us that mental aspects heavily influence all kinds of (auto-immune) diseases, with a positive mindset having a tremendous impact on recovery.

Mental fitness matters greatly, so why don’t we initiate regular upgrades?
How much better would your life be with a brain wash – clean out the cob webs?

Take the edge off. Stop the tiring energy drains. Work more freely and easily with your co-workers. Alleviate strong memories that only cause recurring tension between you and your spouse. Lift the anchors and get more excited about challenging targets. Reach them halfway the year instead of scrambling at the end. And why not: have your bonus increase accordingly?

How does one achieve “the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”?

I’ll tell you about my experience. You don’t have to do the same, just consider this.

Act the way you'd like to be

Two – honestly! – life-changing points to make on this quote.

  1. We tend to think problem focused:
    “Why does this happen?
    How can I be so stupid?”.
    As a result your brain comes up with ten reasons why you are stupid.
    Ok, so that was really helpful. NOT! 
  2. Your brain does not register a negative.
    If I tell you not to think about a pink elephant….
    What happened in your mind’s eye? That’s right!
    So, asking yourself: “How do I make sure I don’t miss the deadline” will echo in your brain as:  “… how to miss deadline… how to miss deadline…”

The short and simple conclusion is to practice the following:

Or in my case, I started wondering about the quality of my life by the questions Umair Haque asked me.

Early 2013, I read his HBR piece “How to have a year that matters”.  In which he posed the following question, among a number of other relevant comments: 
“… let me humbly ask: do you want to have a year that matters — or do you want to spend another year starring-slash-wallowing in the lowest-common-denominator reality show-slash-whiny soap opera of your own inescapable mediocrity-slash-self-imposed tragedy?

OK, maybe that does not speak to you the way it did to me.

But he also asked: “Why are you here? I don’t mean to induce a full blown heart palpitation accompanied panic attack filled existential crisis in you (or maybe I do) — so let’s keep it simple. This coming year: why are you (really) here?”

Which did induce a full blown heart palpitation with panic attack and existential crisis. Why am I here? What am I doing here? Does this matter, what I do? Why do I really want to be here?

quality questionsI read Umair Haque’s HBR piece “How to have a year that matters” early 2013. Umair challenges the usual superficial New Year’s resolutions big time “ do you want to have a year that matters — or do you want to spend another year starring-slash-wallowing in […] mediocrity-slash-self-imposed tragedy?

I picked up the glove and started working through his questions – not that I remembered every single one of them, however, once you start considering what it means for you “to have a year that matters” you will work through them naturally.

He asks:  So what’s your true north? […] Does your true north point to consumption, status, transactions — instead of investment, accomplishments, relationships? If it’s the former, I’d bet: a life well lived is going to remain as elusive to you as it’s been to Lance.”