A LITTLE PIECE OF QUIET


========================

(Today's tip is adapted from my new book, 'Feel Happy Now!',
coming from Hay House publishers in April/May 2007...)

"If you are the voice that is talking, then who is listening?"

-Don Miguel Ruiz

Until I came across the field of NLP, nobody had ever told me
you can turn down the volume on the voices in your head. As soon
as I found the control knob (mine is about 6" in
front of my forehead, slightly to the left, but yours might be
positioned somewhere else), I was able to turn the volume right
up loud and then all the way down until I was left with the
experience of true quiet for the first time.

Later, I came to learn that there are any number of meditation
and concentration exercises that enable you to achieve a similar
result, and it's well worth your while to experiment with some
of these until you find the one or ones which work best for
you.

Here's one of my favorites you can use any time you want to
quiet your mind and re-focus your attention on the task at
hand...

1. Count ten breaths from one up to ten. A simple way to do
this is to silently say the word 'in' for each in breath and
'out' for each out breath. Follow up each word with the number
- for example 'in(1), out(1);in(2), out (2) etc.

2. If you lose count before you get to ten (and yes, pretty much
everyone does the first few times they do this), simply begin
again at 1.

3. When you get to ten, smile down into your heart and enjoy the
precious present.

I often ask my clients to do this exercise towards the beginning
of a session if they seem overwhelmed. They almost never want
to do it and they nearly always thank me afterwards. In fact,
the first few times you try it for yourself you may find it
extraordinary how difficult it actually is to get all the way up
to ten.

Once you're back in the now, here are some simple tools you can
use to go out of your mind and lessen the impact of the
storyteller (that voice inside your head) on your happiness and
wellbeing...

* Write it down *

When I'm working on things which are outside my comfort zone, my
inner storyteller kicks into overdrive. What I've noticed is
that if I stayed engaged in the process long enough, the
storyteller goes quiet.

One day, just for fun, I decided to catalogue the many things
that voice inside my head had to say about why I should give up
on a project I was working on:

Variations on "I want to quit" = 4
Variations on "I can't do this" = 6
Variations on "I hate this (the business, networking, life,
myself, etc.)" = 12
Variations on "I'm not good enough/I'm not worthy/I suck/etc." =
16

By simply writing these things down as they came up, I was able
to hear each thought without buying in to its message. That
gave me the freedom to give myself some better feelings and
carry on taking action.


* Move it around *

One technique that works extremely well when your inner
storyteller is speaking in 'you' messages instead of 'I'
messages (i.e. 'you're a loser', 'you can't do this', 'who do
you think you're kidding', etc.) is to change its location.

First, notice where you currently hear it - is it in the back of
your head? Whispering in your ear? Screaming in your temples?

Next, experiment with putting it in the very center of your
throat, as if you were about to speak whatever it says out loud.
People often report that when they do this, the message changes
from a 'you' to an 'I' and the voice changes from someone in
your past (often a critical parent or teacher) to your own.

Finally, place the voice outside your body where you can
dialogue with it from a comfortable distance. (If you ever see
me having an animated conversation with my big toe, you'll know
why!)


* Re-dub It *

Have you ever noticed that Mickey Mouse always plays the hero?

One of the reasons he has so scrupulously maintained his
"squeaky clean" image is that it would be very difficult for
anyone to take him seriously as a villain. Imagine Mickey Mouse
as Dracula, attempting to terrify the heroine by shouting out
in a high-pitched Transylvanian accent, 'I've come to drink your
blood!' Or what if Mickey had replaced Arnold Schwarzenegger
in The Terminator and had to squeak the immortal words, 'I'll be
back!'

One of the reasons that voice inside our heads always sounds so
reasonable and compelling is that it sounds almost like us
speaking. By re-dubbing our inner dialogue in the voice of our
favorite cartoon characters, we can create a completely
different experience.

Imagine Sylvester the Cat complaining that 'Nobody understands
me!'. Or Elmer Fudd bemoaning the fact that 'I'm sooooo
depressed.' Not only would we not take their stories seriously,
we would laugh at how ridiculous they sounded. And in that
space of laughter, we would potentially be able to help them
change their story!


* Comfort it *

One of my most successful clients swears by telling that voice
inside his head to '#%@&! off" at every opportunity. For those
of you who like me find that a bit harsh, 'thank you for
sharing' works nicely, as does my personal variation - a gentle,
soothing 'shhhhh...', like comforting a distraught child.

Here are a few ways of practicing these techniques and
integrating them into your day...

1. Throughout the day today, listen for your inner storyteller -
'that voice inside your head'. Jot down what you hear as you
hear it. At the end of the day, look for any patterns in the
kinds of things you've written down. If there's something which
has a strong emotional charge, take the time to dispute it
using the ABC's of happiness exercise in the next section.

2. The next time you go to the cinema (or are watching a movie
on TV), alternate between 'losing yourself' in the world of the
film and 'coming back to your senses' and reminding yourself
you're just watching a movie. When you get good at this, try the
same thing with your inner thoughts and stories.

3. Experiment with moving your critical self-talk to different
locations outside your head. It can also help to externalize it
by speaking it out loud.

4. Experiment with turning the volume up and down on the voices
inside your head. If you're not aware of any voices inside your
head, notice what happens when you turn down the sound
anyways.

5. Which voice does your inner storyteller use when it really
wants you to pay attention? Write out a list of positive
compliments about yourself and have your story teller read you
the list in that tone of voice.

6. Make a list of all the things you know would take you in the
direction of your biggest dream. As that voice inside your head
begins to scream, practice re-dubbing it with the voice of your
favorite cartoon character.

7. Finally, when all else fails, just say 'shhhhh'

Have fun, learn heaps, and enjoy what my daughter calls 'a
little piece of quiet'!

With love,
Michael

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