Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keeping Resolutions - Part 5

The Importance of Mindfulness...

[From my upcoming book - Time Rich, Cash Optional!]

"Mindfulness is seeing things for what they are. It is being open to what is going on around you, without attachment and without ‘reaction’, moment to breaking moment.
It is developing the ‘watcher’ or the ‘observer’ within. Our minds are perpetual motion machines that create thought after thought. Mindfulness is recognising that these thoughts are transient and these thoughts are not us.
By observing our thoughts and emotions and by developing the ‘watcher’ within, we can see that our thoughts are not us. There is something deeper than this. We know this simply because we can become mindful, we can ‘watch’ our thoughts and emotions arise…and so we know that they are things that happen, and are in fact things that we ‘do’ and cannot therefore be ‘us’.
Developing mindfulness is essential for maximising our enjoyment and appreciation of time. If we are not fully in each breaking moment how can we hope to enjoy it?
It is also essential for realising what things are important for our deepest happiness and on the other hand what things we are doing or trying to posses merely to boost our ego.

Developing mindfulness can be very basic. Meditation has been used for centuries to develop mindfulness. Many eastern (and also western) religions and many schools of philosophy and psychology include mindfulness in some form as either a fundamental goal or tenet.
There are several ways that you can encourage mindfulness in your life. I strongly recommend you put some time (as little as 10min) each and every day into one mindfulness activity. You can do the same activity every day at the same time, at different times or perform different activities as you feel like it. An activity that suits one person will not suit everyone. Be a power unto yourself…the main thing is that you do it!"

Mindfulness helps us to stick to our resolutions by allowing us to see in the breaking moment that we are about to make a reactionary decision, that perhaps is not in line with our goals. If we can develop greater 'critical awareness' we can instead CHOOSE to make a different decision that is more in line with our goals. 

~  Cliff


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keeping Resolutions - Part 4

Self Sabotage & How Our Vices Serve Us

Many of my clients often wonder why they self sabotage.
They start into something with all the gusto in the world and it almost seems too easy...
This is the initial phase when our reserve of will-power is at it's greatest and we seem to have limitless resolve to do the things we want and need to be doing...and to avoid the things we know we shouldn't be doing!

However often after a short time the compulsion to NOT do the good things and the compulsion to derail ourselves through negative action can become almost overwhelming.

This springs from a couple of behavioral patterns.

One of these is that we are considered to only have a certain amount of willpower to devote to anything at one time. It can be quite difficult (with our reduced neuroplasticity) as adults, to institute new patterns of behavior and we do require a large degree of resolve or 'will-power' to do this. However we really only have a certain amount of energy to devote to this, and so if we try to change too many patterns at one time we will be less likely to succeed in any of them due to a diffusion of energy and effort.
If we instead focus on only one or two changes and see them through to the point at which they become ingrained patterns of behavior we are much less likely to 'fall off the wagon'.
This also happens if we are suddenly inundated with stress; and I see this a lot with my college age clients. Around exam time for example they are exerting SO much will-power to stick with an intense study and exam schedule that the energy and resolve required to exercise and eat well is often lacking.

The other, and perhaps MOST important factor in self sabotage is a survival one.

Anything, be it a movement pattern, a behavioral response or an emotional or psychological pattern, is to a large degree learned.
We can 'learn' many things, and once they are patterned to the sub-conscious level as a 'belief' they are part of our survival imperative.
If someone for example is told that they are fat, and they begin to believe this, and even reinforce it by telling themselves that they are fat this belief will become their natural, safe and appropriate set point.
The body-mind complex on a deep level believes that this is a safe place to be, and to move outside it could potentially be dangerous.

IF we then try to DO things that will take us away from this natural set-point (for example by eating well and exercising) the body-mind will believe that we are perhaps moving out of our safe and comfortable place, towards a place of potential danger and will begin to bring to conscious recognition things in our environment that are conducive to us NOT achieving the goal of weight loss.

We only bring up into our fully conscious faculty a tiny proportion of what we actually 'see', 'hear', 'smell' etc in our environment, and what we bring to cognition is what is deemed to be most important for survival.
SO if we see potential danger (a threat to survival) in losing weight we may be that much more aware of the chocolate cake at the work function we are attending - and feel compelled to eat it!

This is why so often with weight and body related goals we hear that "I didn't even really 'want' it...I just felt like I 'needed' it!" or "And the silly thing is I NEVER usually eat that stuff!" - of course you don't - because the survival imperative wasn't there!

Some of the perpetuations of this we call "treasured wounds". I have treated many people who either perpetuate physical disorders or injuries in response to life situations.

A professional athlete I worked with for example always had hip issues arise when he had a major career decision to make, and another client suffered with terrible abdominal pain that debilitated her whenever she needed a break from the self-imposed demands of her family, church and work because she hadn't developed the ability to say 'no' to people.

Reducing the presence of 'treasured wounds' and finding the negatives that serve us...and releasing these self-limiting beliefs and behaviors can really help to reduce the amount of will-power we need to exercise to achieve our goals, and make the process of goal achievement that much easier.

I work with my clients to identify and reduce negative and self limiting beliefs and behaviors and help them to encapsulate their dreams and set, and achieve the goals that really matter. 

email: or visit for more info


Monday, January 10, 2011

Keeping Resolutions - Part 3

The "It's Broken so I'm Giving Up Mentality"

How often do we set resolutions and then launch into them with gusto. 
We decide to not drink, to give up sugar and to exercise...
And then at some stage we find ourselves gorging on donuts at Tim Horton's at 3 in the morning after a night out boozing and decide it would be a good idea to NOT go to the gym in the morning...

So often one simple slip up can be enough to completely derail someone's efforts.

It's a slip up...

Who cares? Move on, get back on the horse and do what you need to do to live the life of your dreams. 

I remember being called by clients in a state of utter distress:
"Cliff I ate an ENTIRE chocolate cake!!! I've blown it completely!"

To which I usually say something like. "OK Stop. Now think about it - Have your goals changed? Do you still want to look, feel and perform better?"
(Their inevitable reply is that their goals haven't changed and they still want to look, feel and perform better!)
And so the ONLY option for them is to continue with the process. Either that or give up on living. 
Yes I'm that serious - being alive is's the default. You woke up - congratulations, now you want a medal?
Living - REALLY LIVING is a little more difficult - it's simple but actually doing it requires a bit of effort. 
So we are in this skin a long time. There will be calamities along the way. But if we really want to improve, if we REALLY want to achieve our goals we simply must stay in the process and honour ourselves enough to keep on keeping on...even if we feel as if we've blown it. 

~ Cliff

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Keeping Resolutions - Part 2

Avoid the 'Check Box' Mentality

So often people mistake the 'action' associated with achieving their goal with the goal itself.
They may not do this consciously but often deciding to do something, or taking the first steps (or step!) is all that people do...and they subsequently don't reach their goal...

An example from my own life comes from my Naturopathic practice. One of my specialist areas is nutrition and as a nutritionist I've helped thousands around the world to eat healthier, and have consulted to dozens of Olympic and World Championship level athletes.

Often when people make a resolution to eat better in order to achieve their health, performance or aesthetic goals they may decide that they 'need to see a nutritionist'. This is obviously a great step to take!
BUT it can become almost a replacement for actually going through the process of change.
So many times people make such a big deal out of 'seeing the nutritionist' that once they have done it they seem to sit back, check it off the list of things to do...and then fail to follow any of the recommendations!

I call this the 'check box mentality'.

Don't be content to simply 'check the box'. Remember that the action steps you take to achieve your goals are not the goals in and of themselves ~ they are merely a small part of the process.

Honour yourself and honour the process by taking one small step after another, knowing that by being complete, present and total in the moments of action within the process (and standing up and doing what must be done!) you can achieve most everything that your heart desires.

~ Cliff

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Keeping Resolutions - Part 1

Making the Decision to Change Once

One of the biggest reasons for people failing to achieve their goals and stick to their resolutions is that they think they make the decision to change just once....

In reality making the big changes that really matter to our lives means making the decision to change what we do and how we act literally THOUSANDS of times.

Do you think for example that if you decide to stop smoking that you simply make that decision once and then 'hey presto' you won't smoke anymore?
As anyone who has actually beaten addiction knows - achieving this goal requires making decisions many times per day to avoid the temptation to smoke.

With any goal that is important we need to reset our resolve almost constantly to avoid falling into old habits. We are after all creating new ones, and thankfully as we make the decision over and over again to stick to our guns and continue to progress toward our goals (even if we may fall off the wagon at times) the new habits and behaviours that we continue to ingrain become our new natural set point and we need to exercise less and less willpower to stay the course.