Traci Stein - Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys Traci Stein http://blog.healthjourneys.com/author/traci-stein/feed/atom.html 2017-05-22T17:31:15-04:00 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management How to Avoid Being Negatively Affected by Toxic People 2017-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2017-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/update-from-belleruth/how-to-avoid-being-negatively-affected-by-toxic-people.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/82d4bdbabad9326e1cc0666b65fac0a0_S.jpg" alt="How to Avoid Being Negatively Affected by Toxic People" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>If you find yourself a magnet for the hopelessly self-centered, the most important question to ask is not, &ldquo;Why are some people so toxic?&rdquo; but, &ldquo;How can I stop attracting toxic people and still love myself?&rdquo;</p> <p>There are reasons why many super-nice people are drawn to those who take advantage of them, even if they are not fully conscious of these reasons.</p> <p>Of course, toxic behavior occurs on a continuum, from the person at work who always looks for someone else to do things for them, to the friend who constantly asks for favors but never reciprocates, to the person who is callous, lies, steals others&rsquo; intellectual or actual property, the partner who cheats, or the family member who is verbally abusive or worse.</p> <p>Whatever form your toxic people tend to take, you&rsquo;ll recognize your tendency to get involved with the liars, false friends, or takers of the world, because you&rsquo;ll find yourself in the same types of frustrating, draining, or hurtful situations again and again.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>Even as the people in your life change, the basic dramas won&rsquo;t, and you&rsquo;ll ultimately experience feelings of hurt, betrayal, or insecurity when toxic people reveal their true colors.</p> <p>There is no denying that toxic people have the ultimate blame for how they treat others. But at the end of the day, it takes two to tango; only you can learn to change your steps (effectively changing the dance), or leave the dance floor altogether, and choose better dance partners going forward</p> <p>What Keeps People Going Back to a &ldquo;Poisoned Well?&rdquo;</p> <p>Continually forming relationships with people who can&rsquo;t reciprocate or who take advantage of you is like a being thirsty person who drinks only from poisoned wells. Even if the water doesn&rsquo;t kill you, you&rsquo;ll probably feel really ill from drinking it and you will never fully quench your thirst.</p> <p>Many nice people unconsciously seek out those who need healing of some sort. They may believe that their <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Esteem-Pack/642" target="_blank">self-worth</a> depends on being loved by difficult people. They may get a &ldquo;high&rdquo; from being a hero, rescuer, or perennial &ldquo;go-to&rdquo; person. They may feel a need to be self-sacrificial in order to be a &ldquo;good person.&rdquo; Toxic people can &ldquo;smell&rdquo; these needs from a mile away.</p> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Guided-Self-Hypnosis-to-Help-Release-Old-Habits-bCreating-Positive-Changeb/689" target="_blank">Breaking the Cycle and Creating Positive Change</a></p> <p>So, what can you do to break this cycle? I suggest keeping a journal and reflecting on the points below. You&rsquo;ll be surprised at how much you learn about yourself. You&rsquo;ll also become better able to change self-destructive habits.</p> <ol start="1"> <li>Take a fearless inventory of your relationship patterns. If you&rsquo;ve attracted a number of friends or partners who tend to take advantage of you, ask yourself what initially attracted you to these people. Same goes for coworkers and bosses. Write this down for each relationship that fits the bill.</li> </ol><ol start="2"> <li>Notice how many times you say, &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; when you would rather say &ldquo;No&rdquo; to someone. Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings you have when you consider setting a limit. Write these down as well. This will shed light on how you value yourself and the self-judgments you have around limit-setting.</li> </ol><ol start="3"> <li>Ask yourself, &ldquo;Do I treat myself with <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Compassion-Super-Set/737" target="_blank">less kindness, consideration, or respect</a> than I give others?&rdquo; Understand that if the answer is &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; this makes you a magnet for difficult people. And it&rsquo;s unfair to you. Most important, you are the only person who can change this pattern.</li> </ol><ol start="4"> <li>Realize that you can take good care of yourself and still be a good person! &ldquo;Goodness&rdquo; does not require self-sacrifice to the point of victimhood. There are no extra points for personal martyrdom.</li> </ol><ol start="5"> <li>Understand that how you treat yourself sets the ultimate example for your children. It will influence how they treat themselves and their partners, their own children, and other loved ones some day.</li> </ol><ol start="6"> <li>Remember that it&rsquo;s impossible to make everyone else happy (and that&rsquo;s not even a good goal anyway). Some people will never be happy. And no one who looks to others to make them happy will ever really get there.</li> </ol><ol start="7"> <li>Similarly, understand that no one can heal or change another person. Personal growth requires a willingness to do the hard work, and although other people can be supportive, no one can do the work for anyone else. Truly toxic people are uninterested in becoming more self-reliant, compassionate, kinder, or more giving. Stop trying to change them.</li> </ol><ol start="8"> <li>Practice <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Mindfulness-Meditations-Finding-Peace-and-Perspective-in-the-Present-Moment/731" target="_blank">mindfulness</a>&nbsp;or another form of meditation. This will help you to ride out the anxiety you&rsquo;ll likely feel as you get used to taking care of you, and weeding out the people who treat you poorly. You&rsquo;ll also gain greater insight into your own vulnerabilities and strengths, and better sense when someone is really unable to be in a healthy relationship with you.</li> </ol><ol start="9"> <li><a href="http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-positive-affirmations-can-help-you-achieve-your-goals-0227175" target="_blank">Listen to positive affirmations</a>. Recent research has shed light on how your brain responds to them, and has found that affirmations really help people feel and do better. Ones that focus on fostering self-compassion, developing a healthy self-esteem, and having greater self-confidence can give you the boost you need to treat yourself better.</li> </ol><ol start="10"> <li>Understand that you will definitely get pushback from people who want you to continue being their go-to person for everything. Toxic people hate losing their supply. You can help shore up your self-esteem and build self-confidence by spending time with those who are truly supportive of you, and by practicing self-kindness.</li> </ol><ol start="11"> <li><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Guided-Self-Hypnosis-to-Help-Release-Old-Habits-bCreating-Positive-Changeb/689" target="_blank">Be creative in your efforts to release old patterns.</a> Imagery that helps you sever unhealthy emotional cords can help you through the process of ending dysfunctional relationships. It can also help heal the heartbreak that losing relationships &ndash; even toxic ones &ndash; can generate.</li> </ol><ol start="12"> <li>If you need additional help learning to set limits or move on from a relationship, consider consulting with a counselor who can support you during this process.</li> </ol> <p>Be well!<br /><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/ts-signature.png" alt="ts signature" /></p> <p>p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up <a href="http://eepurl.com/peo4j" target="_self">here</a>!</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/82d4bdbabad9326e1cc0666b65fac0a0_S.jpg" alt="How to Avoid Being Negatively Affected by Toxic People" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>If you find yourself a magnet for the hopelessly self-centered, the most important question to ask is not, &ldquo;Why are some people so toxic?&rdquo; but, &ldquo;How can I stop attracting toxic people and still love myself?&rdquo;</p> <p>There are reasons why many super-nice people are drawn to those who take advantage of them, even if they are not fully conscious of these reasons.</p> <p>Of course, toxic behavior occurs on a continuum, from the person at work who always looks for someone else to do things for them, to the friend who constantly asks for favors but never reciprocates, to the person who is callous, lies, steals others&rsquo; intellectual or actual property, the partner who cheats, or the family member who is verbally abusive or worse.</p> <p>Whatever form your toxic people tend to take, you&rsquo;ll recognize your tendency to get involved with the liars, false friends, or takers of the world, because you&rsquo;ll find yourself in the same types of frustrating, draining, or hurtful situations again and again.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>Even as the people in your life change, the basic dramas won&rsquo;t, and you&rsquo;ll ultimately experience feelings of hurt, betrayal, or insecurity when toxic people reveal their true colors.</p> <p>There is no denying that toxic people have the ultimate blame for how they treat others. But at the end of the day, it takes two to tango; only you can learn to change your steps (effectively changing the dance), or leave the dance floor altogether, and choose better dance partners going forward</p> <p>What Keeps People Going Back to a &ldquo;Poisoned Well?&rdquo;</p> <p>Continually forming relationships with people who can&rsquo;t reciprocate or who take advantage of you is like a being thirsty person who drinks only from poisoned wells. Even if the water doesn&rsquo;t kill you, you&rsquo;ll probably feel really ill from drinking it and you will never fully quench your thirst.</p> <p>Many nice people unconsciously seek out those who need healing of some sort. They may believe that their <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Esteem-Pack/642" target="_blank">self-worth</a> depends on being loved by difficult people. They may get a &ldquo;high&rdquo; from being a hero, rescuer, or perennial &ldquo;go-to&rdquo; person. They may feel a need to be self-sacrificial in order to be a &ldquo;good person.&rdquo; Toxic people can &ldquo;smell&rdquo; these needs from a mile away.</p> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Guided-Self-Hypnosis-to-Help-Release-Old-Habits-bCreating-Positive-Changeb/689" target="_blank">Breaking the Cycle and Creating Positive Change</a></p> <p>So, what can you do to break this cycle? I suggest keeping a journal and reflecting on the points below. You&rsquo;ll be surprised at how much you learn about yourself. You&rsquo;ll also become better able to change self-destructive habits.</p> <ol start="1"> <li>Take a fearless inventory of your relationship patterns. If you&rsquo;ve attracted a number of friends or partners who tend to take advantage of you, ask yourself what initially attracted you to these people. Same goes for coworkers and bosses. Write this down for each relationship that fits the bill.</li> </ol><ol start="2"> <li>Notice how many times you say, &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; when you would rather say &ldquo;No&rdquo; to someone. Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings you have when you consider setting a limit. Write these down as well. This will shed light on how you value yourself and the self-judgments you have around limit-setting.</li> </ol><ol start="3"> <li>Ask yourself, &ldquo;Do I treat myself with <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Compassion-Super-Set/737" target="_blank">less kindness, consideration, or respect</a> than I give others?&rdquo; Understand that if the answer is &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; this makes you a magnet for difficult people. And it&rsquo;s unfair to you. Most important, you are the only person who can change this pattern.</li> </ol><ol start="4"> <li>Realize that you can take good care of yourself and still be a good person! &ldquo;Goodness&rdquo; does not require self-sacrifice to the point of victimhood. There are no extra points for personal martyrdom.</li> </ol><ol start="5"> <li>Understand that how you treat yourself sets the ultimate example for your children. It will influence how they treat themselves and their partners, their own children, and other loved ones some day.</li> </ol><ol start="6"> <li>Remember that it&rsquo;s impossible to make everyone else happy (and that&rsquo;s not even a good goal anyway). Some people will never be happy. And no one who looks to others to make them happy will ever really get there.</li> </ol><ol start="7"> <li>Similarly, understand that no one can heal or change another person. Personal growth requires a willingness to do the hard work, and although other people can be supportive, no one can do the work for anyone else. Truly toxic people are uninterested in becoming more self-reliant, compassionate, kinder, or more giving. Stop trying to change them.</li> </ol><ol start="8"> <li>Practice <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Mindfulness-Meditations-Finding-Peace-and-Perspective-in-the-Present-Moment/731" target="_blank">mindfulness</a>&nbsp;or another form of meditation. This will help you to ride out the anxiety you&rsquo;ll likely feel as you get used to taking care of you, and weeding out the people who treat you poorly. You&rsquo;ll also gain greater insight into your own vulnerabilities and strengths, and better sense when someone is really unable to be in a healthy relationship with you.</li> </ol><ol start="9"> <li><a href="http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-positive-affirmations-can-help-you-achieve-your-goals-0227175" target="_blank">Listen to positive affirmations</a>. Recent research has shed light on how your brain responds to them, and has found that affirmations really help people feel and do better. Ones that focus on fostering self-compassion, developing a healthy self-esteem, and having greater self-confidence can give you the boost you need to treat yourself better.</li> </ol><ol start="10"> <li>Understand that you will definitely get pushback from people who want you to continue being their go-to person for everything. Toxic people hate losing their supply. You can help shore up your self-esteem and build self-confidence by spending time with those who are truly supportive of you, and by practicing self-kindness.</li> </ol><ol start="11"> <li><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Guided-Self-Hypnosis-to-Help-Release-Old-Habits-bCreating-Positive-Changeb/689" target="_blank">Be creative in your efforts to release old patterns.</a> Imagery that helps you sever unhealthy emotional cords can help you through the process of ending dysfunctional relationships. It can also help heal the heartbreak that losing relationships &ndash; even toxic ones &ndash; can generate.</li> </ol><ol start="12"> <li>If you need additional help learning to set limits or move on from a relationship, consider consulting with a counselor who can support you during this process.</li> </ol> <p>Be well!<br /><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/ts-signature.png" alt="ts signature" /></p> <p>p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up <a href="http://eepurl.com/peo4j" target="_self">here</a>!</p></div> More Ways to Create Positive Change 2017-01-09T00:00:00-05:00 2017-01-09T00:00:00-05:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/update-from-belleruth/more-ways-to-create-positive-change.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/49e6594c793e8c835e2a6b8754be9039_S.jpg" alt="More Ways to Create Positive Change" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Although potentially challenging, identifying what we&rsquo;d like to be different in our lives, and creating a plan for change, can help us feel happier, be healthier, and set us free from things we know, deep down, are unhealthy for us.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve read my earlier post, &ldquo;<a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/update-from-belleruth/eight-essentials-for-creating-positive-change.html" target="_blank">8 Essentials for Creating Positive Change</a>,&rdquo; you are already armed with the fundamental tools to address those habits, patterns, or relationships that need tweaking (or more).</p> <p>Below, I address in a bit more detail how to successfully engage in the process of change. What follows are some of the most common changes people seek to make, and what to keep in mind.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store?s=RELATIONSHIPS" target="_blank">Relationships:</a></strong></p> <p>If we are hoping to improve a relationship, we must be willing to answer this question honestly: &ldquo;Am I willing to do or give the very things I am asking for?&rdquo; If the answer is &ldquo;no,&rdquo; we may achieve another&rsquo;s compliance, but this will not amount to genuine closeness or lasting, meaningful growth. For a relationship to change, all parties must be willing to give something.</p> <p>That said, sometimes the task is to acknowledge when neither party can grow within the relationship, and allow space for grief. Endings are rarely easy. If it is time to part ways, we can still bring about endings in a loving, respectful, and compassionate manner, however.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ll tell you what I&rsquo;d tell my own clients, friends, or family members: honor and be grateful for whatever you have learned from this union, even if some of the lessons were hard ones. Every person we meet has the potential to teach us something invaluable.</p> <p>Thank yourself for being willing to learn the inherent wisdom in this experience. Allow yourself to grow from it. We build each subsequent relationship on the foundation of what we have created before &ndash; how we came together, maintained the union, and how we ended it. There are no wasted moments or lessons if we allow ourselves to see the value in whatever it is we learned.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Stop-Smoking/15" target="_blank">Smoking and Other Habits:</a></strong></p> <p>If we hope to <a href="http://www.oprah.com/style/How-to-Stop-Biting-Nails-Once-and-For-All" target="_blank">release an old habit</a>, we need to better understand the functions that is has served for us thus far. As an example, years ago a patient contacted me for hypnosis to quit smoking. One thing that became clear early on was that for this person, smoking was an important and multipurpose &ldquo;tool.&rdquo;</p> <p>The &ldquo;positive&rdquo; functions of smoking included distracting the person from work stress, and also serving as a weight management tool. It felt especially difficult to give these benefits up. It also came as a surprise to the client that smoking, due to its associated health risks, served as a way to self-punish &ndash; and thus alleviate guilt - for misdeeds of the past. It was therefore essential to find a way to better manage stress, avoid overeating, and forgive himself for those things he now wished he&rsquo;d done differently.</p> <p>In this person&rsquo;s case, hypnosis and imagery were particularly helpful in managing stress, breathing through cravings, and visualizing successfully quitting. In addition, his religious faith helped the client learn the self-forgiveness needed to stop hurting himself again and again and treat his body with reverence.</p> <p>Once you understand the purpose a tool has served for you, and what options will better serve you now, change will come more easily. You can also change your inner script around the issue to be one of self-compassion and encouragement, which are always more beneficial than self-criticism or self-harm.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Weight-Fitness/3" target="_blank">Weight Loss:</a></strong></p> <p>Appreciate the small wins. Most people hope to achieve weight loss rapidly, and if you have a large amount you hope to lose, it&rsquo;s easy to minimize the importance of a few pounds. Don&rsquo;t! Remember that you have earned every success. Savor it and build upon it! &nbsp;It all counts.</p> <p>Find other ways to nurture your body, mind, and soul. As with other habits, seek to understand the myriad purposes that food has served for you. Visualize yourself properly and lovingly nourishing yourself in the way that is healthiest for you. Let go of comparisons to others. Enjoy and treasure the body that you have &ndash; both in the present moment and when you reach your goal. Move your body joyfully. Celebrate the miracle and gift of your life.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Guided-Self-Hypnosis-to-Help-Free-Yourself-from-Procrastination/656" target="_blank">Starting &ndash; and Finishing &ndash; A Project:</a></strong></p> <p>Be concrete and specific. Clarify exactly what this will look like for you. Want to run a marathon? Write a book? Learn a new skill? Identify the ways in which you tend to get off track, so you can head them off early on.</p> <p>Be realistic about the amount of time it will probably take to achieve your goal. Set a date for reaching it. Work backwards on your calendar, breaking the larger goal into small, specific, achievable mini-goals. Visualize yourself achieving them. Really make time to do this and do it wholeheartedly. Acknowledge successes, breathe through setbacks, and be willing to tweak your approach as needed as you learn new information. Celebrate each step on your journey.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store?s=self+worth" target="_blank">Self-Worth:</a></strong></p> <p>We are each here for a purpose, and nothing &ndash; not having made mistakes, experienced setbacks, or failing to live up to other people&rsquo;s expectations &ndash; changes that. Give yourself the gift of releasing the need to compare yourself to others. Let go of trying to please everyone in the universe (who could do this anyway?!).</p> <p>If you struggle with self-esteem, daily affirmations can help you shift negative self-talk and remember how truly unique and wonderful you are. Listen to affirming imagery or meditations to help you replace your &ldquo;Inner Critic&rdquo; with a powerful &ldquo;Inner Ally.&rdquo; Love yourself in the way you have always wanted to be loved. Notice how this shifts every other experience.</p> <p>Wishing you all the best, now and always.</p> <p><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/ts-signature.png" alt="ts signature" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Authors/Traci-Stein/208" target="_blank">Traci</a></p> <p>p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up <a href="http://eepurl.com/peo4j" target="_self">here</a>!</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/49e6594c793e8c835e2a6b8754be9039_S.jpg" alt="More Ways to Create Positive Change" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Although potentially challenging, identifying what we&rsquo;d like to be different in our lives, and creating a plan for change, can help us feel happier, be healthier, and set us free from things we know, deep down, are unhealthy for us.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve read my earlier post, &ldquo;<a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/update-from-belleruth/eight-essentials-for-creating-positive-change.html" target="_blank">8 Essentials for Creating Positive Change</a>,&rdquo; you are already armed with the fundamental tools to address those habits, patterns, or relationships that need tweaking (or more).</p> <p>Below, I address in a bit more detail how to successfully engage in the process of change. What follows are some of the most common changes people seek to make, and what to keep in mind.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store?s=RELATIONSHIPS" target="_blank">Relationships:</a></strong></p> <p>If we are hoping to improve a relationship, we must be willing to answer this question honestly: &ldquo;Am I willing to do or give the very things I am asking for?&rdquo; If the answer is &ldquo;no,&rdquo; we may achieve another&rsquo;s compliance, but this will not amount to genuine closeness or lasting, meaningful growth. For a relationship to change, all parties must be willing to give something.</p> <p>That said, sometimes the task is to acknowledge when neither party can grow within the relationship, and allow space for grief. Endings are rarely easy. If it is time to part ways, we can still bring about endings in a loving, respectful, and compassionate manner, however.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ll tell you what I&rsquo;d tell my own clients, friends, or family members: honor and be grateful for whatever you have learned from this union, even if some of the lessons were hard ones. Every person we meet has the potential to teach us something invaluable.</p> <p>Thank yourself for being willing to learn the inherent wisdom in this experience. Allow yourself to grow from it. We build each subsequent relationship on the foundation of what we have created before &ndash; how we came together, maintained the union, and how we ended it. There are no wasted moments or lessons if we allow ourselves to see the value in whatever it is we learned.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Stop-Smoking/15" target="_blank">Smoking and Other Habits:</a></strong></p> <p>If we hope to <a href="http://www.oprah.com/style/How-to-Stop-Biting-Nails-Once-and-For-All" target="_blank">release an old habit</a>, we need to better understand the functions that is has served for us thus far. As an example, years ago a patient contacted me for hypnosis to quit smoking. One thing that became clear early on was that for this person, smoking was an important and multipurpose &ldquo;tool.&rdquo;</p> <p>The &ldquo;positive&rdquo; functions of smoking included distracting the person from work stress, and also serving as a weight management tool. It felt especially difficult to give these benefits up. It also came as a surprise to the client that smoking, due to its associated health risks, served as a way to self-punish &ndash; and thus alleviate guilt - for misdeeds of the past. It was therefore essential to find a way to better manage stress, avoid overeating, and forgive himself for those things he now wished he&rsquo;d done differently.</p> <p>In this person&rsquo;s case, hypnosis and imagery were particularly helpful in managing stress, breathing through cravings, and visualizing successfully quitting. In addition, his religious faith helped the client learn the self-forgiveness needed to stop hurting himself again and again and treat his body with reverence.</p> <p>Once you understand the purpose a tool has served for you, and what options will better serve you now, change will come more easily. You can also change your inner script around the issue to be one of self-compassion and encouragement, which are always more beneficial than self-criticism or self-harm.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Weight-Fitness/3" target="_blank">Weight Loss:</a></strong></p> <p>Appreciate the small wins. Most people hope to achieve weight loss rapidly, and if you have a large amount you hope to lose, it&rsquo;s easy to minimize the importance of a few pounds. Don&rsquo;t! Remember that you have earned every success. Savor it and build upon it! &nbsp;It all counts.</p> <p>Find other ways to nurture your body, mind, and soul. As with other habits, seek to understand the myriad purposes that food has served for you. Visualize yourself properly and lovingly nourishing yourself in the way that is healthiest for you. Let go of comparisons to others. Enjoy and treasure the body that you have &ndash; both in the present moment and when you reach your goal. Move your body joyfully. Celebrate the miracle and gift of your life.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Guided-Self-Hypnosis-to-Help-Free-Yourself-from-Procrastination/656" target="_blank">Starting &ndash; and Finishing &ndash; A Project:</a></strong></p> <p>Be concrete and specific. Clarify exactly what this will look like for you. Want to run a marathon? Write a book? Learn a new skill? Identify the ways in which you tend to get off track, so you can head them off early on.</p> <p>Be realistic about the amount of time it will probably take to achieve your goal. Set a date for reaching it. Work backwards on your calendar, breaking the larger goal into small, specific, achievable mini-goals. Visualize yourself achieving them. Really make time to do this and do it wholeheartedly. Acknowledge successes, breathe through setbacks, and be willing to tweak your approach as needed as you learn new information. Celebrate each step on your journey.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store?s=self+worth" target="_blank">Self-Worth:</a></strong></p> <p>We are each here for a purpose, and nothing &ndash; not having made mistakes, experienced setbacks, or failing to live up to other people&rsquo;s expectations &ndash; changes that. Give yourself the gift of releasing the need to compare yourself to others. Let go of trying to please everyone in the universe (who could do this anyway?!).</p> <p>If you struggle with self-esteem, daily affirmations can help you shift negative self-talk and remember how truly unique and wonderful you are. Listen to affirming imagery or meditations to help you replace your &ldquo;Inner Critic&rdquo; with a powerful &ldquo;Inner Ally.&rdquo; Love yourself in the way you have always wanted to be loved. Notice how this shifts every other experience.</p> <p>Wishing you all the best, now and always.</p> <p><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/ts-signature.png" alt="ts signature" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Authors/Traci-Stein/208" target="_blank">Traci</a></p> <p>p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up <a href="http://eepurl.com/peo4j" target="_self">here</a>!</p></div> Eight Essentials for Creating Positive Change 2017-01-02T00:00:00-05:00 2017-01-02T00:00:00-05:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/update-from-belleruth/eight-essentials-for-creating-positive-change.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/a312b55d844053dd26f924626090e244_S.jpg" alt="Eight Essentials for Creating Positive Change" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Hello all, and Season&rsquo;s Greetings!</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re like me, this time of year may be when you more &ldquo;formally&rdquo; think about what you want to change in your life. But really, any time of year can be a good time for self-reflection, deciding what works for you, and what to finally toss, whether figuratively or quite literally!</p> <p>Some of us may be contemplating a more significant shift &ndash; such as deciding whether to stay in a relationship, change careers, return to school, or move across country. Or, our primary goal may involve a habit change, such as <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/day-night-healthy-weight-body-image-set/718" target="_blank">eating better</a>, moving more, quitting smoking, or <a href="http://www.oprah.com/style/How-to-Stop-Biting-Nails-Once-and-For-All" target="_blank">leaving nail biting behind</a>. &nbsp;As you know, contemplating any sort of change can feel stressful, but there&rsquo;s a lot you can do to remain calmer and more optimistic, and achieve those goals that are important to you. (Remember, there are probably very good reasons why you&rsquo;ve set such goals in the first place!) Whether your goal is large or small, the steps below can help get and keep you on track, while remaining sane during the process.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"><ol> <li>Be courageous. By that I mean be honest in examining what needs to change, why you believe this is so, and what has gotten in the way thus far. Doing so will help you recognize and head off potential habit triggers and remain committed to your goal.</li> <li>Remember, you are human! Just about all change happens with some initial starts and stops, as well as moments of doubt and anxiety. Ups and downs are normal and expectable, especially in the beginning and during times of stress. Lasting change is not about perfection, but about a commitment to get back on track when we need to.</li> <li>Be willing. Often we wish things would be easier, the conditions would be better, or that the stars would align more perfectly before we commit to change. If the goal is important to you, get going. Be willing to sit with what is less than ideal.</li> <li>Be collaborative. When you need help, ask for it &ndash; whether this means consulting with an expert, seeking the counsel of a friend or clergy person, or finding an online support group.</li> <li>Feel the fear and do it anyway. If the change is worthwhile, commit to it even if a part of you is frightened. In the words of the late Carrie Fisher, &ldquo;Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What&rsquo;s important is the action...eventually the confidence will follow.&rdquo;</li> <li><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Mindfulness-Meditations-Finding-Peace-and-Perspective-in-the-Present-Moment/731" target="_blank">Quiet the mind</a>. Make time for practices that help tame the &ldquo;monkey mind&rdquo; &ndash; the endless stream of self-criticism, feelings of &ldquo;What if I can&rsquo;t?&rdquo; and any regrets about the past. They will only make the journey more difficult &ndash; unnecessarily. Instead, meditation, prayer, imagery, or self-hypnosis can help you feel calmer and more centered, remember what&rsquo;s important, and connect with your innate wisdom (it&rsquo;s there!).</li> <li>Be <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Compassion-Meditations/730" target="_blank">self-compassionate</a>. This involves cultivating acceptance of yourself in the present moment, regardless of what&rsquo;s going on for you; remembering that you are human, and not meant to be infallible; and affording yourself the same kindness you would show another. Self-compassion has been shown to increase motivation, enhance well-being, and foster greater compassion for others. The practice can also be incredibly freeing and healing.</li> <li>Remember, you are in it for the long haul. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Deeply entrenched patterns often take longer, and a greater number of attempts, to change. But positive change is worth it (and so are you!).</li> </ol> <p>I wish you all the best, this year and always. Be well!</p> <p><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/ts-signature.png" alt="ts signature" /></p> <p><a href="https://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Authors/Traci-Stein/208" target="_blank">Traci Stein, PhD</a></p> <p>p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up <a href="http://eepurl.com/peo4j" target="_self">here</a>!</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/a312b55d844053dd26f924626090e244_S.jpg" alt="Eight Essentials for Creating Positive Change" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Hello all, and Season&rsquo;s Greetings!</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re like me, this time of year may be when you more &ldquo;formally&rdquo; think about what you want to change in your life. But really, any time of year can be a good time for self-reflection, deciding what works for you, and what to finally toss, whether figuratively or quite literally!</p> <p>Some of us may be contemplating a more significant shift &ndash; such as deciding whether to stay in a relationship, change careers, return to school, or move across country. Or, our primary goal may involve a habit change, such as <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/day-night-healthy-weight-body-image-set/718" target="_blank">eating better</a>, moving more, quitting smoking, or <a href="http://www.oprah.com/style/How-to-Stop-Biting-Nails-Once-and-For-All" target="_blank">leaving nail biting behind</a>. &nbsp;As you know, contemplating any sort of change can feel stressful, but there&rsquo;s a lot you can do to remain calmer and more optimistic, and achieve those goals that are important to you. (Remember, there are probably very good reasons why you&rsquo;ve set such goals in the first place!) Whether your goal is large or small, the steps below can help get and keep you on track, while remaining sane during the process.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"><ol> <li>Be courageous. By that I mean be honest in examining what needs to change, why you believe this is so, and what has gotten in the way thus far. Doing so will help you recognize and head off potential habit triggers and remain committed to your goal.</li> <li>Remember, you are human! Just about all change happens with some initial starts and stops, as well as moments of doubt and anxiety. Ups and downs are normal and expectable, especially in the beginning and during times of stress. Lasting change is not about perfection, but about a commitment to get back on track when we need to.</li> <li>Be willing. Often we wish things would be easier, the conditions would be better, or that the stars would align more perfectly before we commit to change. If the goal is important to you, get going. Be willing to sit with what is less than ideal.</li> <li>Be collaborative. When you need help, ask for it &ndash; whether this means consulting with an expert, seeking the counsel of a friend or clergy person, or finding an online support group.</li> <li>Feel the fear and do it anyway. If the change is worthwhile, commit to it even if a part of you is frightened. In the words of the late Carrie Fisher, &ldquo;Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What&rsquo;s important is the action...eventually the confidence will follow.&rdquo;</li> <li><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Mindfulness-Meditations-Finding-Peace-and-Perspective-in-the-Present-Moment/731" target="_blank">Quiet the mind</a>. Make time for practices that help tame the &ldquo;monkey mind&rdquo; &ndash; the endless stream of self-criticism, feelings of &ldquo;What if I can&rsquo;t?&rdquo; and any regrets about the past. They will only make the journey more difficult &ndash; unnecessarily. Instead, meditation, prayer, imagery, or self-hypnosis can help you feel calmer and more centered, remember what&rsquo;s important, and connect with your innate wisdom (it&rsquo;s there!).</li> <li>Be <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Compassion-Meditations/730" target="_blank">self-compassionate</a>. This involves cultivating acceptance of yourself in the present moment, regardless of what&rsquo;s going on for you; remembering that you are human, and not meant to be infallible; and affording yourself the same kindness you would show another. Self-compassion has been shown to increase motivation, enhance well-being, and foster greater compassion for others. The practice can also be incredibly freeing and healing.</li> <li>Remember, you are in it for the long haul. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Deeply entrenched patterns often take longer, and a greater number of attempts, to change. But positive change is worth it (and so are you!).</li> </ol> <p>I wish you all the best, this year and always. Be well!</p> <p><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/ts-signature.png" alt="ts signature" /></p> <p><a href="https://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Authors/Traci-Stein/208" target="_blank">Traci Stein, PhD</a></p> <p>p.s. If you liked this post, you might enjoy getting our weekly e-news with other articles just like it. If so, sign up <a href="http://eepurl.com/peo4j" target="_self">here</a>!</p></div> Clinicians Agree: Self-Compassion Desperately Needed 2016-05-10T11:51:38-04:00 2016-05-10T11:51:38-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/professional-e-newsletter-volume-4/clinicians-agree-self-compassion-desperately-needed.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/d5c23e4072dad16f0fc4139ee6073e36_S.jpg" alt="Clinicians Agree: Self-Compassion Desperately Needed" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/header.professional.jpg" alt="header.professional" width="350" height="62" /></p> <p>Over the past several years, there has been a surge of interest in the topic of self-compassion, and for good reason. So many people find it easy to feel compassion for others, but have difficulty being compassionate toward themselves. Self-criticism and harsh judgments can be difficult habits to break. Yet, the research on self-compassion has found that the practice has a number of benefits. These include enhanced compassion for others, increased personal motivation, decreased distress, and greater optimism and self-worth.</p> <p>Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in self-compassion research, states that the three elements of self-compassion are: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-kindness refers to acknowledging our own suffering and responding with caring, patience, and acceptance - much as we would be patient and kind toward another. Recognizing our common humanity involves understanding that everyone has ups and downs, strengths and challenges, and feelings of self-judgment, but that each of us is far more than any of these. Our own foibles and errors simply make us human. Finally, a mindfulness practice enables us to sit with whatever is going on in the present, without judging it, attaching to it, or pushing it away. Mindfulness is key to being in the gift of the present moment and breathing through suffering.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>It&rsquo;s important to know that some people initially resist the idea of self-compassion, worrying it will lead them to be lazy, self-centered, or unmotivated, or that it is equivalent to self-indulgence or self-pity. Yet, the opposite is true: we can still be self compassionate and make good use of feedback, take responsibility, and acknowledge the need to make changes, without being harsh or demeaning. It really comes down to treating ourselves with the same kindness, understanding, and patience that we would afford another. Not surprisingly, in addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, self-compassion also paves the way for better self-care.</p> <p>Both the <em><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Compassion-Meditations/730" target="_blank" title="Self-Compassion Meditations To Release Self-Criticism and Foster Self-Kindness">Self-Compassion</a></strong></em> and <em><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Product-736/736" target="_blank" title="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Product-736/736">Self-Compassion during Sleep</a></strong></em> programs begin by enlisting the breath and carefully crafted language to facilitate a sense of ease and profound comfort. Mindfulness and hypnotic suggestions woven through the guided imagery help the listener foster feelings of self-kindness, observe difficult situations, thoughts, and emotions from a safe distance, and reframe or release harsh judgments and unreasonable expectations. The imagery also encourages breathing through any negative self talk and accessing one&rsquo;s inner ally, kind friend, or wise and patient shepherd &ndash; even if they have not yet experienced this kind of acceptance from others.</p> <p>The tracks on the <em>Awake</em> program are set to the lovely music of composer Steven Mark Kohn. Because ocean waves themselves are both trance-inducing and relaxing, and as some prefer not to hear music while falling asleep, the <em>Sleep</em> imagery is set against a background of soothing ocean waves. This can help the listener more rapidly fall into a peaceful slumber. The sleep track also features abundant hypnotic imagery to foster deep and restorative rest, while taming the Inner Critic, and accessing the listener&rsquo;s wisest, most loving inner champion and guide.</p> <p><em>Traci</em></p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/d5c23e4072dad16f0fc4139ee6073e36_S.jpg" alt="Clinicians Agree: Self-Compassion Desperately Needed" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/header.professional.jpg" alt="header.professional" width="350" height="62" /></p> <p>Over the past several years, there has been a surge of interest in the topic of self-compassion, and for good reason. So many people find it easy to feel compassion for others, but have difficulty being compassionate toward themselves. Self-criticism and harsh judgments can be difficult habits to break. Yet, the research on self-compassion has found that the practice has a number of benefits. These include enhanced compassion for others, increased personal motivation, decreased distress, and greater optimism and self-worth.</p> <p>Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in self-compassion research, states that the three elements of self-compassion are: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-kindness refers to acknowledging our own suffering and responding with caring, patience, and acceptance - much as we would be patient and kind toward another. Recognizing our common humanity involves understanding that everyone has ups and downs, strengths and challenges, and feelings of self-judgment, but that each of us is far more than any of these. Our own foibles and errors simply make us human. Finally, a mindfulness practice enables us to sit with whatever is going on in the present, without judging it, attaching to it, or pushing it away. Mindfulness is key to being in the gift of the present moment and breathing through suffering.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>It&rsquo;s important to know that some people initially resist the idea of self-compassion, worrying it will lead them to be lazy, self-centered, or unmotivated, or that it is equivalent to self-indulgence or self-pity. Yet, the opposite is true: we can still be self compassionate and make good use of feedback, take responsibility, and acknowledge the need to make changes, without being harsh or demeaning. It really comes down to treating ourselves with the same kindness, understanding, and patience that we would afford another. Not surprisingly, in addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, self-compassion also paves the way for better self-care.</p> <p>Both the <em><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Self-Compassion-Meditations/730" target="_blank" title="Self-Compassion Meditations To Release Self-Criticism and Foster Self-Kindness">Self-Compassion</a></strong></em> and <em><strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Product-736/736" target="_blank" title="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Store/Products/Product-736/736">Self-Compassion during Sleep</a></strong></em> programs begin by enlisting the breath and carefully crafted language to facilitate a sense of ease and profound comfort. Mindfulness and hypnotic suggestions woven through the guided imagery help the listener foster feelings of self-kindness, observe difficult situations, thoughts, and emotions from a safe distance, and reframe or release harsh judgments and unreasonable expectations. The imagery also encourages breathing through any negative self talk and accessing one&rsquo;s inner ally, kind friend, or wise and patient shepherd &ndash; even if they have not yet experienced this kind of acceptance from others.</p> <p>The tracks on the <em>Awake</em> program are set to the lovely music of composer Steven Mark Kohn. Because ocean waves themselves are both trance-inducing and relaxing, and as some prefer not to hear music while falling asleep, the <em>Sleep</em> imagery is set against a background of soothing ocean waves. This can help the listener more rapidly fall into a peaceful slumber. The sleep track also features abundant hypnotic imagery to foster deep and restorative rest, while taming the Inner Critic, and accessing the listener&rsquo;s wisest, most loving inner champion and guide.</p> <p><em>Traci</em></p></div> Fat Talk, Body Shaming, and Other Forms of “Self-Bullying" 2014-10-26T00:00:00-04:00 2014-10-26T00:00:00-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/health-journeys-contributors/fat-talk-body-shaming-and-other-forms-of-self-bullying.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>I'm honored to guest blog for Belleruth while she travels this week. It is <strong>National Bullying Prevention Month</strong>, and for this column I decided to talk about extremely common forms of "self-bullying" – "fat talk" and body shaming. Both of these are unfortunately common and at odds with the expectation that we should treat everyone – ourselves included - with respect, compassion, and kindness.</p> <p>As a woman, I'm struck by how often we criticize ourselves for being "too much of this" and "not enough of that." It is so ingrained for us to feel we must not take up too much space – literally or metaphorically. We criticize ourselves for the normal, largely unavoidable effects of aging, or for having bodies that differ from the airbrushed images we see in the media. We find fault with ourselves even despite objective information to the contrary.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>Furthermore, a recent study found that both men and women view women's tendency to talk negatively about their bodies as "normal," although certainly this is not a standard to which we should aspire. Men also experience self-criticism and body insecurity, although they are less likely to discuss these feelings openly.</p> <p>Some things we know from the body image research are:</p> <ul> <li>Engaging in "fat talk" and other types of body shaming leads others to do the same</li> <li>Fat talk is associated with increased feelings of body dissatisfaction and guilt</li> <li>As many as 93% of young adult women reported engaging in fat talk with at least moderate frequency</li> <li>Those with an eating disorder or body image issue engage in fat talk even more often</li> <li>Fat talk has been linked to greater investment in one's appearance, increased depression and feelings of pressure to be thin, increased preoccupation with weight, distorted body image, disordered eating behaviors, and lower self-esteem</li> <li><em>Fat talk is typically unrelated to one's actual size or weight</em></li> </ul> <p>In contrast, self-accepting body talk has been linked to greater body satisfaction and self-esteem, and decreased likelihood of body image distortion.</p> <p>So, why do we engage in fat talk and body shaming at all? The data suggest that doing so with a friend increases feelings of closeness and can reduce feelings of being alone in one's body dissatisfaction; however, it also predicts more anxiety and depression at the end of the day and over the course of six months.</p> <p>As a clinical hypnotherapist, I would say that constant fault-finding with oneself cements an idea that we are not good enough, or "worse-than" – in effect, reinforcing a "trance of unworthiness." And it happens regardless of whether our negative self-evaluations have any objective validity.</p> <p>Finally, putting all of our proverbial eggs in the basket of our appearance necessarily takes away from appreciating our other important and enduring qualities, including creativity, intelligence, spirituality, the ability to be good friends, partners, parents and siblings, the contributions we make for the greater good, and so forth.</p> <p>Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking care of one's appearance; the danger lies in <em>defining ourselves</em> by something so subjective, ever-changing, and to some extent, beyond our control.</p> <p>So, what is the remedy for "self-bullying?" Practicing self-compassion via loving kindness and other types of meditation can reduce body dissatisfaction and shame, and free us from defining our self-worth based on appearance. Self-compassion is also linked to greater happiness, emotional intelligence, and optimism, and decreased rumination, perfectionism, and fear of failure.</p> <p>Loving kindness and mindfulness have other benefits as well, and can be easily paired with imagery and hypnosis. With practice, we can change the trance of unworthiness and self-criticism, remember our strengths, and experience gratitude for our bodies – our most steadfast allies.</p> <p>So, this October, as we become more aware of the harmful effects of bullying, please do allow yourself space to be yourself, embrace who you are – even if there are things you are working on (and aren't we all?), and affirm what is wonderful, special, and unique to you just as you are in this very moment.</p> <p>Be well!</p></div> <div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>I'm honored to guest blog for Belleruth while she travels this week. It is <strong>National Bullying Prevention Month</strong>, and for this column I decided to talk about extremely common forms of "self-bullying" – "fat talk" and body shaming. Both of these are unfortunately common and at odds with the expectation that we should treat everyone – ourselves included - with respect, compassion, and kindness.</p> <p>As a woman, I'm struck by how often we criticize ourselves for being "too much of this" and "not enough of that." It is so ingrained for us to feel we must not take up too much space – literally or metaphorically. We criticize ourselves for the normal, largely unavoidable effects of aging, or for having bodies that differ from the airbrushed images we see in the media. We find fault with ourselves even despite objective information to the contrary.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>Furthermore, a recent study found that both men and women view women's tendency to talk negatively about their bodies as "normal," although certainly this is not a standard to which we should aspire. Men also experience self-criticism and body insecurity, although they are less likely to discuss these feelings openly.</p> <p>Some things we know from the body image research are:</p> <ul> <li>Engaging in "fat talk" and other types of body shaming leads others to do the same</li> <li>Fat talk is associated with increased feelings of body dissatisfaction and guilt</li> <li>As many as 93% of young adult women reported engaging in fat talk with at least moderate frequency</li> <li>Those with an eating disorder or body image issue engage in fat talk even more often</li> <li>Fat talk has been linked to greater investment in one's appearance, increased depression and feelings of pressure to be thin, increased preoccupation with weight, distorted body image, disordered eating behaviors, and lower self-esteem</li> <li><em>Fat talk is typically unrelated to one's actual size or weight</em></li> </ul> <p>In contrast, self-accepting body talk has been linked to greater body satisfaction and self-esteem, and decreased likelihood of body image distortion.</p> <p>So, why do we engage in fat talk and body shaming at all? The data suggest that doing so with a friend increases feelings of closeness and can reduce feelings of being alone in one's body dissatisfaction; however, it also predicts more anxiety and depression at the end of the day and over the course of six months.</p> <p>As a clinical hypnotherapist, I would say that constant fault-finding with oneself cements an idea that we are not good enough, or "worse-than" – in effect, reinforcing a "trance of unworthiness." And it happens regardless of whether our negative self-evaluations have any objective validity.</p> <p>Finally, putting all of our proverbial eggs in the basket of our appearance necessarily takes away from appreciating our other important and enduring qualities, including creativity, intelligence, spirituality, the ability to be good friends, partners, parents and siblings, the contributions we make for the greater good, and so forth.</p> <p>Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking care of one's appearance; the danger lies in <em>defining ourselves</em> by something so subjective, ever-changing, and to some extent, beyond our control.</p> <p>So, what is the remedy for "self-bullying?" Practicing self-compassion via loving kindness and other types of meditation can reduce body dissatisfaction and shame, and free us from defining our self-worth based on appearance. Self-compassion is also linked to greater happiness, emotional intelligence, and optimism, and decreased rumination, perfectionism, and fear of failure.</p> <p>Loving kindness and mindfulness have other benefits as well, and can be easily paired with imagery and hypnosis. With practice, we can change the trance of unworthiness and self-criticism, remember our strengths, and experience gratitude for our bodies – our most steadfast allies.</p> <p>So, this October, as we become more aware of the harmful effects of bullying, please do allow yourself space to be yourself, embrace who you are – even if there are things you are working on (and aren't we all?), and affirm what is wonderful, special, and unique to you just as you are in this very moment.</p> <p>Be well!</p></div> A New Free Report: Ten Keys for Kicking Your Habit 2014-09-24T00:00:00-04:00 2014-09-24T00:00:00-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/news/a-new-free-report-ten-keys-for-kicking-your-habit.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/752528f7e473d94587257358fa6aedac_S.jpg" alt="A New Free Report: Ten Keys for Kicking Your Habit" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Hello all, and happy Fall! This is my favorite time of year for many reasons: the air is becoming crisp, leaves are turning, and children are gearing up for the new school year. I always feel more energized and ready to get back in the swing of things once the lazy days of summer have begun to fade. Both literally and metaphorically, fall is a time for shedding whatever has run its course to make way for new growth.</p> <p><a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/news/a-new-free-report-ten-keys-for-kicking-your-habit/download/health-journeys-changing-habits-report-final-pdf.html"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/kicking-habit2.png" alt="kicking-habit2" style="margin-left: 20px; float: right;" /></a>Fall is the perfect time for reevaluating whether a particular habit, behavior, or outlook really serves us best in the now, or whether it is time to make meaningful change.</p> <p>If you're like me, you probably have a running list of things you'd like to tweak a little, or change completely. On my to do list right now: get more exercise, eat fewer refined foods, bring my lunch more often, reduce my salt intake, increase the duration of my meditation sessions, be more patient, and so forth. As always, there are things I want to do less of and things I want to do more of.</p> <p>What helps me, and I hope is helpful to you, is remembering that it's <em>not</em> about perfection (there really is no such thing, anyway), or about accomplishing everything at once. Our lives really are about the journey, rather than immediately reaching any specific destination.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maintaining change is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day process. Each day, we recommit to what's important. That's much easier and more effective, I think, than trying to address "forever" right now, on top of everything else we do on a daily basis. And what a relief that is.</p> <p>If there are old habits you wish to leave behind, or new ones you hope to begin, I encourage you to take a look at my <a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/news/a-new-free-report-ten-keys-for-kicking-your-habit/download/health-journeys-changing-habits-report-final-pdf.html"><strong>free report</strong></a>, which outlines what you need to know about making meaningful, lasting change. In it, you'll learn about why and how we pick up habits in the first place, and what makes change seem daunting at times.</p> <p>You'll also access practical tips for clarifying what healthy change can look like for you, and how to achieve this, step by step, using time-tested, cognitive behavioral strategies and self-hypnotic techniques. I've found this approach helpful in both my clinical practice and personal life, and I think you'll find it helpful as well.</p> <p>As always, be kind to yourself, take a moment to appreciate what's good in the now, visualize the positive things you want to bring about, and be well!</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/752528f7e473d94587257358fa6aedac_S.jpg" alt="A New Free Report: Ten Keys for Kicking Your Habit" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Hello all, and happy Fall! This is my favorite time of year for many reasons: the air is becoming crisp, leaves are turning, and children are gearing up for the new school year. I always feel more energized and ready to get back in the swing of things once the lazy days of summer have begun to fade. Both literally and metaphorically, fall is a time for shedding whatever has run its course to make way for new growth.</p> <p><a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/news/a-new-free-report-ten-keys-for-kicking-your-habit/download/health-journeys-changing-habits-report-final-pdf.html"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/kicking-habit2.png" alt="kicking-habit2" style="margin-left: 20px; float: right;" /></a>Fall is the perfect time for reevaluating whether a particular habit, behavior, or outlook really serves us best in the now, or whether it is time to make meaningful change.</p> <p>If you're like me, you probably have a running list of things you'd like to tweak a little, or change completely. On my to do list right now: get more exercise, eat fewer refined foods, bring my lunch more often, reduce my salt intake, increase the duration of my meditation sessions, be more patient, and so forth. As always, there are things I want to do less of and things I want to do more of.</p> <p>What helps me, and I hope is helpful to you, is remembering that it's <em>not</em> about perfection (there really is no such thing, anyway), or about accomplishing everything at once. Our lives really are about the journey, rather than immediately reaching any specific destination.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maintaining change is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day process. Each day, we recommit to what's important. That's much easier and more effective, I think, than trying to address "forever" right now, on top of everything else we do on a daily basis. And what a relief that is.</p> <p>If there are old habits you wish to leave behind, or new ones you hope to begin, I encourage you to take a look at my <a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/news/a-new-free-report-ten-keys-for-kicking-your-habit/download/health-journeys-changing-habits-report-final-pdf.html"><strong>free report</strong></a>, which outlines what you need to know about making meaningful, lasting change. In it, you'll learn about why and how we pick up habits in the first place, and what makes change seem daunting at times.</p> <p>You'll also access practical tips for clarifying what healthy change can look like for you, and how to achieve this, step by step, using time-tested, cognitive behavioral strategies and self-hypnotic techniques. I've found this approach helpful in both my clinical practice and personal life, and I think you'll find it helpful as well.</p> <p>As always, be kind to yourself, take a moment to appreciate what's good in the now, visualize the positive things you want to bring about, and be well!</p></div> Dr. Traci Stein Discusses Tools for Creating Positive Change 2014-04-25T14:25:27-04:00 2014-04-25T14:25:27-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/new-guided-imagery-titles/dr-traci-stein-discusses-tools-for-creating-positive-change.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/9267284e7733f4bec00d2e114d3f3ba1_S.jpg" alt="Dr. Traci Stein Discusses Tools for Creating Positive Change" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Happy Earth Day, and Happy Spring to all! I am grateful for Spring’s arrival for a number of reasons.  Spring provides us with a much-needed break from what has been a very long, cold winter in much of the country. Symbolically, Spring represents new life, growth and positive change on so many levels after having shed whatever Nature deemed necessary during Fall. It also ushers in longer, brighter days and a delight in being outside after the winter hibernation. Now, each tiny seedling sprouting forth from the earth invites us to appreciate the beauty and change all around us.<br /><br />Spring also is a time for personal housekeeping and sprucing things up – both literally and metaphorically. Sometimes this means taking stock of where we are with regard to relationships, old patterns, our health, and how we spend the bulk of our time. We can then lovingly tend to what needs nurturing, prune what belongs in the past, and sow the seeds of the changes we desire.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=689" target="_blank" title="Guided Self-Hypnosis to Help Release Old Habits Creating Positive Change by Traci Stein, PhD"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/2215BN.gif" border="0" width="206" height="275" style="border: 0; float: right; margin-left: 20px; margin-right: 20px;" /></a>Even before I approached Health Journeys about doing a program for changing habits, I had been taking stock of my life and asking myself what things I wanted to do differently. One of the first things that came to mind was reducing my dependence on coffee. Like most people, there is an amount of coffee I can consume that feels enjoyable, but beyond which I feel jittery, have trouble sleeping, or experience an upset stomach. I realized that part of me wanted to give up coffee altogether, but another part was worried about how I would sit with the loss of a “tool” to which I have both a physiological and emotional attachment. I knew it was important for me to become more intimately acquainted with my feelings about coffee, as well as my reasons for using it in the ways I did. Additionally, I wanted to gain more clarity about why a part of me hoped to change my consumption and what my new usage of this tool would ideally look like. <br /><br />Things that were helpful for me were being more mindfully aware of my coffee routine – when I noticed a craving, to what extent I was even mentally present when I drank my first cup, and how I felt afterwards. Fairly soon I realized that coffee was something I associated with my morning “warm up” – part of my daily ritual of waking up, turning on the news, and chatting with my husband before work. So, it represented for me the gateway to giving myself permission to awaken slowly, connect interpersonally, and ease myself into my day. Of course, there was also the aroma – a powerful trigger and in a way, its own reward. Because I routinely add cocoa powder and cinnamon to my coffee, I very much looked forward to this “treat.” And one cup almost inevitably leads to another because I enjoy this process. <br /><br />The part of me that associates the above with comfort and control over my mornings was not too excited about making any changes on the coffee front, even though another part had gotten tired of reflux, insomnia, and the idea of dependence on a substance, legal though it may be.<br /><br />Although a more formal report on how to change habits is coming soon, in the meanwhile, here are a few things that helped me to change my relationship to coffee. I offer them in the hopes that these will be helpful to you as well.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Set the goal that is right for you</strong>. Don’t worry about what someone else would do, or how they would do it, unless the person you are thinking of is particularly inspiring to you. Some people would think it’s silly for me to even think about reducing my consumption of coffee – which is pretty low by most standards.  Others would say I should never consume it again. I decided I wanted to be able to have coffee sometimes as long I didn’t feel I needed it to function. And I wanted to keep my maximum intake to less than two cups per day.</li> <li><strong>Step back from the situation</strong>. In the moment, leaving an old tool behind, changing how we use it, or even taking a break from it may activate feelings of distress. When I gave myself a bit of mental distance from the issue, however, I remembered that having less or even no coffee would not kill me. Seriously.</li> </ol><ol> <li><strong>Breathe</strong>. Cravings are a temporary phenomenon that in the moment we can experience as catastrophic and permanent. But cravings come and go, just like clouds. We couldn’t hold onto them even if we wanted to. Breathing through them helps us ride cravings out.</li> <li><strong>Change the routine</strong>. When I ran out of the coffee I really like, I picked up a cup from a local place. It tasted okay, but it didn’t taste the same as my typical beverage. It was therefore much easier for me to consume less of it. Similarly, I noticed that if I did not add the chocolate I had become very used to having in my morning Joe, it was much easier to consume less of it. These changes helped ease me into the larger change of having less, and sometimes avoiding coffee altogether.</li> <li><strong>Be present for what’s in your present</strong>. Some days, I made myself a cup of green tea with mint. It was not the same beverage experience by any means, but it was an experience I could enjoy for what it is. I noticed, too, that unlike when I drank coffee, I felt more alert without feeling keyed up at all.</li> <li><strong>Notice the rewards</strong>. For me, reducing my dependence on coffee was a meaningful change that I could be proud of. I also noticed a definite improvement in my sleep quality and digestion. The more I acknowledged these benefits, the greater the reinforcement for maintaining this change.</li> </ol> <p>In addition to the above, there are, of course, other changes and adjustments I’d like to make, as I am sure many of you would. It’s completely normal to reevaluate how we do things and make adjustments from time to time. If you try the <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=689" target="_blank" title="Guided Self-Hypnosis to Help Release Old Habits Creating Positive Change by Traci Stein, PhD">Creating Positive Change</a> program, please let me know how you like it. Feel free to post a review, tell a friend, and most important, continue creating a life that is meaningful and rewarding for you.<br /><br />Be well!</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/9267284e7733f4bec00d2e114d3f3ba1_S.jpg" alt="Dr. Traci Stein Discusses Tools for Creating Positive Change" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Happy Earth Day, and Happy Spring to all! I am grateful for Spring’s arrival for a number of reasons.  Spring provides us with a much-needed break from what has been a very long, cold winter in much of the country. Symbolically, Spring represents new life, growth and positive change on so many levels after having shed whatever Nature deemed necessary during Fall. It also ushers in longer, brighter days and a delight in being outside after the winter hibernation. Now, each tiny seedling sprouting forth from the earth invites us to appreciate the beauty and change all around us.<br /><br />Spring also is a time for personal housekeeping and sprucing things up – both literally and metaphorically. Sometimes this means taking stock of where we are with regard to relationships, old patterns, our health, and how we spend the bulk of our time. We can then lovingly tend to what needs nurturing, prune what belongs in the past, and sow the seeds of the changes we desire.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=689" target="_blank" title="Guided Self-Hypnosis to Help Release Old Habits Creating Positive Change by Traci Stein, PhD"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/2215BN.gif" border="0" width="206" height="275" style="border: 0; float: right; margin-left: 20px; margin-right: 20px;" /></a>Even before I approached Health Journeys about doing a program for changing habits, I had been taking stock of my life and asking myself what things I wanted to do differently. One of the first things that came to mind was reducing my dependence on coffee. Like most people, there is an amount of coffee I can consume that feels enjoyable, but beyond which I feel jittery, have trouble sleeping, or experience an upset stomach. I realized that part of me wanted to give up coffee altogether, but another part was worried about how I would sit with the loss of a “tool” to which I have both a physiological and emotional attachment. I knew it was important for me to become more intimately acquainted with my feelings about coffee, as well as my reasons for using it in the ways I did. Additionally, I wanted to gain more clarity about why a part of me hoped to change my consumption and what my new usage of this tool would ideally look like. <br /><br />Things that were helpful for me were being more mindfully aware of my coffee routine – when I noticed a craving, to what extent I was even mentally present when I drank my first cup, and how I felt afterwards. Fairly soon I realized that coffee was something I associated with my morning “warm up” – part of my daily ritual of waking up, turning on the news, and chatting with my husband before work. So, it represented for me the gateway to giving myself permission to awaken slowly, connect interpersonally, and ease myself into my day. Of course, there was also the aroma – a powerful trigger and in a way, its own reward. Because I routinely add cocoa powder and cinnamon to my coffee, I very much looked forward to this “treat.” And one cup almost inevitably leads to another because I enjoy this process. <br /><br />The part of me that associates the above with comfort and control over my mornings was not too excited about making any changes on the coffee front, even though another part had gotten tired of reflux, insomnia, and the idea of dependence on a substance, legal though it may be.<br /><br />Although a more formal report on how to change habits is coming soon, in the meanwhile, here are a few things that helped me to change my relationship to coffee. I offer them in the hopes that these will be helpful to you as well.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Set the goal that is right for you</strong>. Don’t worry about what someone else would do, or how they would do it, unless the person you are thinking of is particularly inspiring to you. Some people would think it’s silly for me to even think about reducing my consumption of coffee – which is pretty low by most standards.  Others would say I should never consume it again. I decided I wanted to be able to have coffee sometimes as long I didn’t feel I needed it to function. And I wanted to keep my maximum intake to less than two cups per day.</li> <li><strong>Step back from the situation</strong>. In the moment, leaving an old tool behind, changing how we use it, or even taking a break from it may activate feelings of distress. When I gave myself a bit of mental distance from the issue, however, I remembered that having less or even no coffee would not kill me. Seriously.</li> </ol><ol> <li><strong>Breathe</strong>. Cravings are a temporary phenomenon that in the moment we can experience as catastrophic and permanent. But cravings come and go, just like clouds. We couldn’t hold onto them even if we wanted to. Breathing through them helps us ride cravings out.</li> <li><strong>Change the routine</strong>. When I ran out of the coffee I really like, I picked up a cup from a local place. It tasted okay, but it didn’t taste the same as my typical beverage. It was therefore much easier for me to consume less of it. Similarly, I noticed that if I did not add the chocolate I had become very used to having in my morning Joe, it was much easier to consume less of it. These changes helped ease me into the larger change of having less, and sometimes avoiding coffee altogether.</li> <li><strong>Be present for what’s in your present</strong>. Some days, I made myself a cup of green tea with mint. It was not the same beverage experience by any means, but it was an experience I could enjoy for what it is. I noticed, too, that unlike when I drank coffee, I felt more alert without feeling keyed up at all.</li> <li><strong>Notice the rewards</strong>. For me, reducing my dependence on coffee was a meaningful change that I could be proud of. I also noticed a definite improvement in my sleep quality and digestion. The more I acknowledged these benefits, the greater the reinforcement for maintaining this change.</li> </ol> <p>In addition to the above, there are, of course, other changes and adjustments I’d like to make, as I am sure many of you would. It’s completely normal to reevaluate how we do things and make adjustments from time to time. If you try the <a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=689" target="_blank" title="Guided Self-Hypnosis to Help Release Old Habits Creating Positive Change by Traci Stein, PhD">Creating Positive Change</a> program, please let me know how you like it. Feel free to post a review, tell a friend, and most important, continue creating a life that is meaningful and rewarding for you.<br /><br />Be well!</p></div> Scents, Sense and a Journey to the Land of OZ 2013-11-27T15:22:01-05:00 2013-11-27T15:22:01-05:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/guided-imagery/scents-sense-and-a-journey-to-the-land-of-oz.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/b8292acafd72142128a3481ac4b0abff_S.jpg" alt="Scents, Sense and a Journey to the Land of OZ" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Almost before we consciously register a note, scents have the power to evoke another time for us, another way of being. I have long since stopped wearing perfume, but every time I smell anything by Estee Lauder, I can immediately identify it, so strongly have their fragrances been linked to memories of my maternal grandmother and her sisters – all women who were very influential in my upbringing. The link exists exclusively of any liking or not – even the perfumes I actively dislike are immediately and paradoxically associated with feelings of being cared for.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>This link between our sense of smell and key people, events, or feeling states is due to the fact that the olfactory bulb is located near other brain structures responsible for how we form and process memories and emotions. Instantly, and without any conscious volition, scents transport us. <br /><br /><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=676&amp;special=1" target="_blank" title="Power Self-Esteem Pack with Aromatherapy by Traci Stein, PhD"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/9656b.gif" border="0" alt="Power Self-Esteem Pack with Aromatherapy" width="221" height="294" align="left" style="float: right; border: 0; margin-left: 20px; margin-right: 20px;" /></a>Several years ago, when I was working with the now famous Dr. Oz, I had essential oil samples in my office for a study we were considering conducting. We’d had several other projects going on already, and the potential for stress was high (yes, even we experience stress from time to time…). Late one day, as I headed toward the escalator on my way to a meeting with him, I had the sudden and unusual (even for me) idea to take a detour to my office and dab a few drops of Turkish rose oil on a post-it. I stuck this to my note pad before proceeding to the meeting. A legendary multitasker well known for his ability to cram an hour’s worth of information into five minutes, Dr. Oz began by firing off a rapid list of questions about each project, adding numerous tasks to my already enormous to-do list, and querying me about any new ideas I might have. This was par for the course. Within a minute or so, however, he began to slow his pace a bit before asking, somewhat incredulously, “Is that…Turkish rose oil I smell?” I nodded. “I love Turkish rose oil. It reminds me of my childhood, when I spent summers in Turkey, with my family.” He smiled and paused to reflect silently for a moment before continuing with the meeting. I still chuckle when I think about how a few drops of oil resulted in one of the easiest, most laid-back meetings we ever had. <br /><br />In addition to linking the present with the past, and in part because of their association with both memory and emotion, scents can be deliberately employed as tools for enhancing recall of new patterns and feeling states that we hope to foster. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the repeated pairing of one thing with another can link the two such that eventually, the scent alone will be enough to trigger that particular feeling. A pleasant aroma can be paired with hypnosis or guided imagery to further enhance the experience, and then the scent can be used independently to evoke the same inner state – whether of calm, self-confidence, commitment to change, or restorative sleep. I use scents in my clinical practice, and to enhance my own meditation and self-hypnosis. My favorites remain lavender and bergamot, but I also enjoy sweet orange oil, sandalwood, and pine. I find lavender to be calming, bergamot and orange oil uplifting, and sandalwood and pine to be wonderfully grounding. Choose what you like, and try pairing it with hypnosis, imagery, or meditation. Using scent in this way is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most pleasant tools for training your mind and body.  <br /><br />Be well!</p> <p>To see a guided imagery video by Dr. Traci Stein created to counteract the anxiety of having blood drawn, go to <strong><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtQjMd5LP7U" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtQjMd5LP7U</a></strong></p> <div class="yj6qo ajU"> <div id=":1zz" class="ajR" data-tooltip="Show trimmed content"><strong><img class="ajT" src="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif" border="0" /></strong></div> </div></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/b8292acafd72142128a3481ac4b0abff_S.jpg" alt="Scents, Sense and a Journey to the Land of OZ" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Almost before we consciously register a note, scents have the power to evoke another time for us, another way of being. I have long since stopped wearing perfume, but every time I smell anything by Estee Lauder, I can immediately identify it, so strongly have their fragrances been linked to memories of my maternal grandmother and her sisters – all women who were very influential in my upbringing. The link exists exclusively of any liking or not – even the perfumes I actively dislike are immediately and paradoxically associated with feelings of being cared for.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>This link between our sense of smell and key people, events, or feeling states is due to the fact that the olfactory bulb is located near other brain structures responsible for how we form and process memories and emotions. Instantly, and without any conscious volition, scents transport us. <br /><br /><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=676&amp;special=1" target="_blank" title="Power Self-Esteem Pack with Aromatherapy by Traci Stein, PhD"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/images/9656b.gif" border="0" alt="Power Self-Esteem Pack with Aromatherapy" width="221" height="294" align="left" style="float: right; border: 0; margin-left: 20px; margin-right: 20px;" /></a>Several years ago, when I was working with the now famous Dr. Oz, I had essential oil samples in my office for a study we were considering conducting. We’d had several other projects going on already, and the potential for stress was high (yes, even we experience stress from time to time…). Late one day, as I headed toward the escalator on my way to a meeting with him, I had the sudden and unusual (even for me) idea to take a detour to my office and dab a few drops of Turkish rose oil on a post-it. I stuck this to my note pad before proceeding to the meeting. A legendary multitasker well known for his ability to cram an hour’s worth of information into five minutes, Dr. Oz began by firing off a rapid list of questions about each project, adding numerous tasks to my already enormous to-do list, and querying me about any new ideas I might have. This was par for the course. Within a minute or so, however, he began to slow his pace a bit before asking, somewhat incredulously, “Is that…Turkish rose oil I smell?” I nodded. “I love Turkish rose oil. It reminds me of my childhood, when I spent summers in Turkey, with my family.” He smiled and paused to reflect silently for a moment before continuing with the meeting. I still chuckle when I think about how a few drops of oil resulted in one of the easiest, most laid-back meetings we ever had. <br /><br />In addition to linking the present with the past, and in part because of their association with both memory and emotion, scents can be deliberately employed as tools for enhancing recall of new patterns and feeling states that we hope to foster. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the repeated pairing of one thing with another can link the two such that eventually, the scent alone will be enough to trigger that particular feeling. A pleasant aroma can be paired with hypnosis or guided imagery to further enhance the experience, and then the scent can be used independently to evoke the same inner state – whether of calm, self-confidence, commitment to change, or restorative sleep. I use scents in my clinical practice, and to enhance my own meditation and self-hypnosis. My favorites remain lavender and bergamot, but I also enjoy sweet orange oil, sandalwood, and pine. I find lavender to be calming, bergamot and orange oil uplifting, and sandalwood and pine to be wonderfully grounding. Choose what you like, and try pairing it with hypnosis, imagery, or meditation. Using scent in this way is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most pleasant tools for training your mind and body.  <br /><br />Be well!</p> <p>To see a guided imagery video by Dr. Traci Stein created to counteract the anxiety of having blood drawn, go to <strong><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtQjMd5LP7U" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtQjMd5LP7U</a></strong></p> <div class="yj6qo ajU"> <div id=":1zz" class="ajR" data-tooltip="Show trimmed content"><strong><img class="ajT" src="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif" border="0" /></strong></div> </div></div> Embracing What Makes Us Different 2013-08-19T12:53:48-04:00 2013-08-19T12:53:48-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/health-journeys-contributors/embracing-what-makes-us-different.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/e44a6f32e15cb53ee479b2697e759e2e_S.jpg" alt="Embracing What Makes Us Different" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Although it is still technically “summer time,” a few leaves have already begun to dry and fall from the trees in the New York City parks, the daytime sun has given way to a crisp nighttime temperature of 60-something degrees, and I have resumed the almost daily ritual of packing a light sweater in my bag “just in case.” As such, many of you have probably witnessed the re-emergence of that notorious TV commercial, with those kids -- dread-filled, feet dragging, frowns pronounced – trailing the giddy parent who skips through the school-supply aisle to the tune, “It’s the most wonderful time…of the year!” <br /><br />All joking aside, for everyone, the start of the school year elicits something different. Certainly, there are those kids (and adults) who unequivocally enjoy the opportunity to connect socially and the academic stimulation of being in school. For others, this time of year can highlight feelings of “otherness” or social awkwardness, as well as struggles to complete schoolwork well, on time, or at all. The latter can result from difficulties in paying attention, diagnosable learning disorders, anxiety, poor self-esteem, or some combination of the above. In addition, challenges with schoolwork can serve to exacerbate all of these issues, resulting in a vicious cycle of distress and poorer performance.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>When we have apprehension about or feel disconnected from some aspect of our daily lives, whether academically, at work, or within our social spheres, it can lead to sadness, self-doubt, a sense of futility, and a feeling that we don’t belong somehow. All of these things can get in the way of doing as well as we can – whatever that may mean for us. They can also prevent us from noticing what’s good about our lives, and about ourselves - as we are in the moment – even if there are things that we are still “working on” or would otherwise like to change.<br /><br />Our differences are obviously what make each of us unique. And they allow us the privilege of learning and growing from people who have backgrounds, points of view, skills, and challenges unlike our own. In the same vein, we give ourselves and others a most remarkable gift when we can truly be ourselves, because in doing so, we let go of the pressure to “fit in via blending in,” and by our example, we give others permission to embrace their own uniqueness. <br /><br />Some of the most personally influential people in my “inner circle” have gone through periods when they have felt alone and misunderstood, or been marginalized because of what makes them different. Being made aware of our “otherness” can lead us to forget that ultimately, it is we who are the arbiters of our worth, and that it need not be contingent upon being “just like everyone else.” Nor does our having value require unanimous approval – something which exists only in the realm of fantasy, anyway. <br /><br />I’ve found it interesting that the quality we most struggle with now may be the one we ultimately embrace. As I write this article I am thinking of one friend in particular. “Adam” is unusually tall, yet not at all athletic (by his own admission), frequently cantankerous, as well as notably visually impaired. These sorts of qualities did not exactly enhance his chances of being nominated high school homecoming king; yet, his unusual perspective (visual and otherwise) has contributed to his development as a truly brilliant artist, as well as a gifted writer and award-winning storyteller. If Adam had forced himself to be like everyone else, he would have deprived himself and the world of his gifts – ones no one else could deliver in quite the same way. Most of us know several “Adams,” and if we allow ourselves, we can find and nurture the “Adam within” – the sensitive, or thoughtful, creative, quirky, math-loving or -hating, shy, bold, funny, incisive, or whatever it is that forms our unique personality fingerprint. <br /><br />Some of my favorite tools for fostering self-acceptance, improving focus, and decreasing stress along the way include imagery, hypnosis and self-hypnosis, yoga or meditation to help you remain in the moment, getting regular exercise, and engaging in creative or other pleasurable activities that nourish the soul. Find and use the ones that work best for you. <br /><br />My wish for us all as this next season and school year approach are good health, much happiness, and appreciation for our gifts, and challenges, and quirks, whatever they are.</p> <p>Be well!</p> <hr /> <table width="342" border="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td width="150"><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=640" target="_blank" title="Healthy Self-Esteem by Traci Stein"><img src="http://www.belleruthnaparstek.com/images/stories/2201.gif" border="0" alt="" /></a></td> <td width="20"> </td> <td width="150"> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=641" target="_blank" title="Self-Esteem During Sleep by Traci Stein"><img src="http://www.belleruthnaparstek.com/images/stories/2205.gif" border="0" alt="" /></a></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Traci Stein is the author of two popular Guided imagery titles designed to build and maintain self-esteem.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/e44a6f32e15cb53ee479b2697e759e2e_S.jpg" alt="Embracing What Makes Us Different" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Although it is still technically “summer time,” a few leaves have already begun to dry and fall from the trees in the New York City parks, the daytime sun has given way to a crisp nighttime temperature of 60-something degrees, and I have resumed the almost daily ritual of packing a light sweater in my bag “just in case.” As such, many of you have probably witnessed the re-emergence of that notorious TV commercial, with those kids -- dread-filled, feet dragging, frowns pronounced – trailing the giddy parent who skips through the school-supply aisle to the tune, “It’s the most wonderful time…of the year!” <br /><br />All joking aside, for everyone, the start of the school year elicits something different. Certainly, there are those kids (and adults) who unequivocally enjoy the opportunity to connect socially and the academic stimulation of being in school. For others, this time of year can highlight feelings of “otherness” or social awkwardness, as well as struggles to complete schoolwork well, on time, or at all. The latter can result from difficulties in paying attention, diagnosable learning disorders, anxiety, poor self-esteem, or some combination of the above. In addition, challenges with schoolwork can serve to exacerbate all of these issues, resulting in a vicious cycle of distress and poorer performance.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>When we have apprehension about or feel disconnected from some aspect of our daily lives, whether academically, at work, or within our social spheres, it can lead to sadness, self-doubt, a sense of futility, and a feeling that we don’t belong somehow. All of these things can get in the way of doing as well as we can – whatever that may mean for us. They can also prevent us from noticing what’s good about our lives, and about ourselves - as we are in the moment – even if there are things that we are still “working on” or would otherwise like to change.<br /><br />Our differences are obviously what make each of us unique. And they allow us the privilege of learning and growing from people who have backgrounds, points of view, skills, and challenges unlike our own. In the same vein, we give ourselves and others a most remarkable gift when we can truly be ourselves, because in doing so, we let go of the pressure to “fit in via blending in,” and by our example, we give others permission to embrace their own uniqueness. <br /><br />Some of the most personally influential people in my “inner circle” have gone through periods when they have felt alone and misunderstood, or been marginalized because of what makes them different. Being made aware of our “otherness” can lead us to forget that ultimately, it is we who are the arbiters of our worth, and that it need not be contingent upon being “just like everyone else.” Nor does our having value require unanimous approval – something which exists only in the realm of fantasy, anyway. <br /><br />I’ve found it interesting that the quality we most struggle with now may be the one we ultimately embrace. As I write this article I am thinking of one friend in particular. “Adam” is unusually tall, yet not at all athletic (by his own admission), frequently cantankerous, as well as notably visually impaired. These sorts of qualities did not exactly enhance his chances of being nominated high school homecoming king; yet, his unusual perspective (visual and otherwise) has contributed to his development as a truly brilliant artist, as well as a gifted writer and award-winning storyteller. If Adam had forced himself to be like everyone else, he would have deprived himself and the world of his gifts – ones no one else could deliver in quite the same way. Most of us know several “Adams,” and if we allow ourselves, we can find and nurture the “Adam within” – the sensitive, or thoughtful, creative, quirky, math-loving or -hating, shy, bold, funny, incisive, or whatever it is that forms our unique personality fingerprint. <br /><br />Some of my favorite tools for fostering self-acceptance, improving focus, and decreasing stress along the way include imagery, hypnosis and self-hypnosis, yoga or meditation to help you remain in the moment, getting regular exercise, and engaging in creative or other pleasurable activities that nourish the soul. Find and use the ones that work best for you. <br /><br />My wish for us all as this next season and school year approach are good health, much happiness, and appreciation for our gifts, and challenges, and quirks, whatever they are.</p> <p>Be well!</p> <hr /> <table width="342" border="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td width="150"><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=640" target="_blank" title="Healthy Self-Esteem by Traci Stein"><img src="http://www.belleruthnaparstek.com/images/stories/2201.gif" border="0" alt="" /></a></td> <td width="20"> </td> <td width="150"> <p><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=641" target="_blank" title="Self-Esteem During Sleep by Traci Stein"><img src="http://www.belleruthnaparstek.com/images/stories/2205.gif" border="0" alt="" /></a></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Traci Stein is the author of two popular Guided imagery titles designed to build and maintain self-esteem.</p></div> Building Healthy Self-Esteem 2013-06-17T10:46:15-04:00 2013-06-17T10:46:15-04:00 http://blog.healthjourneys.com/mental-health/building-healthy-self-esteem.html Traci Stein imagery@emediacy.net <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/0d0c19531d6e29f793ed165732978408_S.jpg" alt="Building Healthy Self-Esteem" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>One summer afternoon, many years ago, a colleague of mine confided to me, “I have really, <em>really</em> ugly legs. Bad, bad-looking knees.” We were sitting in the hospital garden having lunch and talking about work, and I wasn't sure I’d heard her correctly. By most accounts, this woman had a bubbly personality, a sunny smile, and a pretty normal looking body (whatever that means). She was also professionally accomplished, had a loving family, etc. etc. To be quite honest, she had worn a skirt to work on a number of occasions, and I had never noticed her legs one way or the other. Quickly I glanced down at them, and then looked her in the eyes. I said, with no flattery intended, “I really don’t see what you’re talking about.” Mind you, I was probably much more aware of my hair at that moment – which was an odd combination of flatness and frizz from the humidity, a stray tendril clinging moistly to my temple. Not exactly my most camera-ready look.  I’ve had lifelong hair angst, but have surrendered to the fact that it will never be thick, lustrous, well-behaved, shampoo-ad type of hair. And at this point, it doesn’t really bother me all that much. Truly. But it did throughout my adolescence and teens and probably through college as well. I tortured it with highlights and perms and had numerous hair disasters along the way.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>As I think of my own stuff, as well as the stuff of my friends, colleagues, family and patients, I am aware that most everyone has something about them that challenges their sense of self-confidence. The degree of one’s distress about a body part or skill or other issue need not be based on consensus opinion, and can cause deep wounds over time. Examples include the heavy (or thin) person who believes they need to lose weight to feel okay (the majority of external complaints I hear); the student who believes if they do not receive the top score, they will be a total failure; the single person who worries that their unpaired status proves that they are not really lovable; the professional who believes that they will “matter” when they’ve crossed a certain earning threshold, and the like. Although for some, the internal insecurities feel arguably less obvious than the physical ones, they are no less powerful at shaping what we think we are worth.<br /><br />As this summer gets off to a slow, wet (in the New York City area, anyway) start, it creates for many a small delay before the beach/shorts/tank top anxiety kicks in. For the uncomfortably single, the abundance of summer weddings that prompt bride-friends to ask, “Are you seeing anyone?” can feel like a spotlight shining on one’s life status. And the Facebook postings from friends gushing about their latest exotic vacation can highlight the feeling of being one of the “have-nots.”<br /><br />It’s cliché to say that self worth “comes from within,” but few statements are more true, I believe. After all, there are plenty of well-known beautiful/successful/partnered/wealthy public figures who confess to feeling like “something is missing.” Putting all of our eggs in the basket of others’ opinions sets us up for perpetual anxiety and minimizes the value of our own abilities to assess how we’re really doing. So although it’s normal to have aspects of ourselves that we may feel are less than thrilling, when these things interfere with our ability to accept who we are, or interfere with our social or emotional functioning, it’s time to address the issues head on. Here are some thoughts about how to begin to reevaluate what’s important for us, nurture ourselves more, and rely less on outside validation or internal comparisons with others:</p> <ol> <li>Ask yourself, “What is it that I value?” Another way to phrase this may be, “What qualities do I admire in others.” Even if we may envy someone’s swanky pad or trim thighs, chances are, what we respect about them has a lot more to do with how they conduct themselves, what’s important to them, and how we feel when we are with them. Is this person charitable? Kind? Loving? Helpful? These qualities are likely the ones we, too, possess, or would like to further develop in ourselves.</li> <li>Once you have answered the above, ask yourself, “What do I need to do to live in accordance with what I value?” For example, if you value charity, find ways in which you can be charitable. This could be through formal volunteer work or by helping out a friend or loved one. There is a good reason that people all over the world know who Mother Teresa was, and why no one ever mentions her thighs or hairdo. Her charity and service to others were legendary.</li> <li>Practice (self) forgiveness. Often it feels safer to consciously focus on something external or material that seems “not good enough,” and not on the things we wish we’d done differently. I emphasize to patients that making mistakes is a normal part of learning. No one learns to walk right out of the womb – we first learn to sit up, and crawl, and toddle  - falling innumerable times – before we can walk, and run, and play! Acknowledge what you’d like to do differently now – the only time period in which we can act to make things better.</li> <li>Set goals that are discreet, measurable, and in accordance with what you value. Leave room for goals that are fun when possible. Realizing you can accomplish the things you set out to do – even mundane things – is part of how we build self-esteem.</li> <li>Ask yourself each day, “For what am I grateful?” Everyone – and I do mean everyone, if they are willing, can find at least one small thing each day for which they can be thankful. Even when things seem bad, we can be grateful for someone’s kindness, for some part of our body that works (even if we are ill), for the sun shining, for the lessons we can learn even from the difficult people in our lives, etc.</li> <li>Visualize yourself shedding the harsh, outdated ideas about yourself that you (really!) no longer need. They actually don’t do any good. See yourself feeling as you’d like to feel, doing the things that are most meaningful to you. Imagery and self-hypnosis can be very powerful tools to this end. My self-hypnosis programs, “<strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=640" target="_blank" title="Healthy Self-Esteem by Traci Stein">Healthy Self-Esteem</a></strong>” and “<strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=641" target="_blank" title="Self-Esteem During Sleep by Traci Stein">Self-Esteem during Sleep</a></strong>” can help change the negative “trance” of feeling “not good enough” and help you move forward, creating more of the life you really want.</li> <li>If you find yourself needing additional help with the ideas mentioned above, it’s worth consulting with a mental health professional.</li> </ol> <p>Reflecting on these suggestions can help us to put things in perspective, create evidence of success, and bring attention to some of the positive things we may have overlooked in our lives. <br /><br />Be well!<br /><br />For more information about Dr. Traci Stein, and to read her health-related articles, follow her on <strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/DrTStein" target="_blank" title="https://www.facebook.com/DrTStein">Facebook</a></strong> (facebook.com/DrTStein), <strong><a href="https://twitter.com/DrTraciStein" target="_blank" title="https://twitter.com/DrTraciStein">Twitter</a></strong> (@DrTraciStein), or visit her blog: <strong><a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/DrTraciStein.wordpress.com" target="_blank" title="DrTraciStein.wordpress.com">DrTraciStein.wordpress.com</a></strong>.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/media/k2/items/cache/0d0c19531d6e29f793ed165732978408_S.jpg" alt="Building Healthy Self-Esteem" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>One summer afternoon, many years ago, a colleague of mine confided to me, “I have really, <em>really</em> ugly legs. Bad, bad-looking knees.” We were sitting in the hospital garden having lunch and talking about work, and I wasn't sure I’d heard her correctly. By most accounts, this woman had a bubbly personality, a sunny smile, and a pretty normal looking body (whatever that means). She was also professionally accomplished, had a loving family, etc. etc. To be quite honest, she had worn a skirt to work on a number of occasions, and I had never noticed her legs one way or the other. Quickly I glanced down at them, and then looked her in the eyes. I said, with no flattery intended, “I really don’t see what you’re talking about.” Mind you, I was probably much more aware of my hair at that moment – which was an odd combination of flatness and frizz from the humidity, a stray tendril clinging moistly to my temple. Not exactly my most camera-ready look.  I’ve had lifelong hair angst, but have surrendered to the fact that it will never be thick, lustrous, well-behaved, shampoo-ad type of hair. And at this point, it doesn’t really bother me all that much. Truly. But it did throughout my adolescence and teens and probably through college as well. I tortured it with highlights and perms and had numerous hair disasters along the way.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>As I think of my own stuff, as well as the stuff of my friends, colleagues, family and patients, I am aware that most everyone has something about them that challenges their sense of self-confidence. The degree of one’s distress about a body part or skill or other issue need not be based on consensus opinion, and can cause deep wounds over time. Examples include the heavy (or thin) person who believes they need to lose weight to feel okay (the majority of external complaints I hear); the student who believes if they do not receive the top score, they will be a total failure; the single person who worries that their unpaired status proves that they are not really lovable; the professional who believes that they will “matter” when they’ve crossed a certain earning threshold, and the like. Although for some, the internal insecurities feel arguably less obvious than the physical ones, they are no less powerful at shaping what we think we are worth.<br /><br />As this summer gets off to a slow, wet (in the New York City area, anyway) start, it creates for many a small delay before the beach/shorts/tank top anxiety kicks in. For the uncomfortably single, the abundance of summer weddings that prompt bride-friends to ask, “Are you seeing anyone?” can feel like a spotlight shining on one’s life status. And the Facebook postings from friends gushing about their latest exotic vacation can highlight the feeling of being one of the “have-nots.”<br /><br />It’s cliché to say that self worth “comes from within,” but few statements are more true, I believe. After all, there are plenty of well-known beautiful/successful/partnered/wealthy public figures who confess to feeling like “something is missing.” Putting all of our eggs in the basket of others’ opinions sets us up for perpetual anxiety and minimizes the value of our own abilities to assess how we’re really doing. So although it’s normal to have aspects of ourselves that we may feel are less than thrilling, when these things interfere with our ability to accept who we are, or interfere with our social or emotional functioning, it’s time to address the issues head on. Here are some thoughts about how to begin to reevaluate what’s important for us, nurture ourselves more, and rely less on outside validation or internal comparisons with others:</p> <ol> <li>Ask yourself, “What is it that I value?” Another way to phrase this may be, “What qualities do I admire in others.” Even if we may envy someone’s swanky pad or trim thighs, chances are, what we respect about them has a lot more to do with how they conduct themselves, what’s important to them, and how we feel when we are with them. Is this person charitable? Kind? Loving? Helpful? These qualities are likely the ones we, too, possess, or would like to further develop in ourselves.</li> <li>Once you have answered the above, ask yourself, “What do I need to do to live in accordance with what I value?” For example, if you value charity, find ways in which you can be charitable. This could be through formal volunteer work or by helping out a friend or loved one. There is a good reason that people all over the world know who Mother Teresa was, and why no one ever mentions her thighs or hairdo. Her charity and service to others were legendary.</li> <li>Practice (self) forgiveness. Often it feels safer to consciously focus on something external or material that seems “not good enough,” and not on the things we wish we’d done differently. I emphasize to patients that making mistakes is a normal part of learning. No one learns to walk right out of the womb – we first learn to sit up, and crawl, and toddle  - falling innumerable times – before we can walk, and run, and play! Acknowledge what you’d like to do differently now – the only time period in which we can act to make things better.</li> <li>Set goals that are discreet, measurable, and in accordance with what you value. Leave room for goals that are fun when possible. Realizing you can accomplish the things you set out to do – even mundane things – is part of how we build self-esteem.</li> <li>Ask yourself each day, “For what am I grateful?” Everyone – and I do mean everyone, if they are willing, can find at least one small thing each day for which they can be thankful. Even when things seem bad, we can be grateful for someone’s kindness, for some part of our body that works (even if we are ill), for the sun shining, for the lessons we can learn even from the difficult people in our lives, etc.</li> <li>Visualize yourself shedding the harsh, outdated ideas about yourself that you (really!) no longer need. They actually don’t do any good. See yourself feeling as you’d like to feel, doing the things that are most meaningful to you. Imagery and self-hypnosis can be very powerful tools to this end. My self-hypnosis programs, “<strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/product_detail.aspx?id=640" target="_blank" title="Healthy Self-Esteem by Traci Stein">Healthy Self-Esteem</a></strong>” and “<strong><a href="http://www.healthjourneys.com/Product_Detail.aspx?id=641" target="_blank" title="Self-Esteem During Sleep by Traci Stein">Self-Esteem during Sleep</a></strong>” can help change the negative “trance” of feeling “not good enough” and help you move forward, creating more of the life you really want.</li> <li>If you find yourself needing additional help with the ideas mentioned above, it’s worth consulting with a mental health professional.</li> </ol> <p>Reflecting on these suggestions can help us to put things in perspective, create evidence of success, and bring attention to some of the positive things we may have overlooked in our lives. <br /><br />Be well!<br /><br />For more information about Dr. Traci Stein, and to read her health-related articles, follow her on <strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/DrTStein" target="_blank" title="https://www.facebook.com/DrTStein">Facebook</a></strong> (facebook.com/DrTStein), <strong><a href="https://twitter.com/DrTraciStein" target="_blank" title="https://twitter.com/DrTraciStein">Twitter</a></strong> (@DrTraciStein), or visit her blog: <strong><a href="http://blog.healthjourneys.com/DrTraciStein.wordpress.com" target="_blank" title="DrTraciStein.wordpress.com">DrTraciStein.wordpress.com</a></strong>.</p></div>