Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Rehearsal That Makes A Lifetime DIfference

The Rehearsal that Makes a Lifetime Difference
Excerpted from Choices and Illusions by Eldon Taylor

Within every human being exists a propensity for greatness. The gifts may vary, and the greatness may live out in a vast array of alternatives—say from carpentry to rocket science—but the gift that gives one true self-respect, lifts the spirit from “same old, same old,” resides within. It is our ability to do our very best with our talents in every thing we do.  This potential resides within each one of us—but if so, then why is it so often denied?
Every individual essentially has a self-representation that is rehearsed and eventually actualized. The process begins by fantasizing at a very early age. We fantasize a script, perhaps one of those from some Hollywood production. We begin rehearsing it, and we either abandon it to take up a new one or practice it until we role-play that script as who we are. Practicing the script sooner or later automates the behavior. Our imprinting environment plays a significant role in the alternative scripts available to us. If the parents are uncaring and abusive, so are the children, and so forth. If warmth and friendliness lead to embarrassment, then cold and aloof compensate. If honesty gets us into trouble, then deception becomes a defense strategy, and so forth.
It is much more complicated than expressed here, but simply, it is also just this way. In fact, every one of us divides ourselves among four essential views of ourselves. These four faces include the following:
Our actual self.
Our ideal self.
Our ought-to-be self.
Our desired self.
These categories were originally developed by P. A. D. Singer to show how the different selves conflict with each other.  I will use it differently.
Most of us are aware of a so-called actual self. This is the self that has failed in ways we often will not share with others. This is the private self. This self holds the thoughts we wish we did not have, the acts we wish we had not done, our beliefs about our worth, our attractiveness, and so forth. It is the self of our secrets and our ambitions. It is the self that most try to change in some way or another at some time in their life—perhaps even perpetually.
The actual self pales by comparison to our ideal self. The ideal self is often a construct built by our culture. This self would live a perfect life—without error and therefore without room for growth.
Then there is our “ought-to-be self.” This is the self full of all our learned “shoulds” and “oughts.” This self differs from our ideal self in the sense that many of the oughts are not ours—they are the oughts of our culture, our society—but deep down inside they are not ours. Sometimes these oughts are the result of rules that make little or no sense to us; sometimes the oughts are of codependent negotiations such as those implied when Mom said things like, “If you loved me, you would not behave that way,” or “If you loved me, you would do what I said,” and so forth. Still, even when one recognizes the source and the nature of the ought relationship from which the oughts themselves arise, they often persist.
Finally, there is the desired self. Somewhere among all of our other selves is a self that we believe we could be. This is the self we long for, especially when we are young and planning our future. It is also the source of much discontent in our later life if the desires have not been fulfilled—and they rarely, if ever, are.
The ought-to-be self, desired self, and ideal self share certain commonalities, but they also differ remarkably. There is psychic tension among them and in their totality, substantial tension between them and our so-called actual self.
Now, there’s one more thing I wish to add before continuing. The actual self is seldom the true actual self. The actual self is the self of self-perception and therefore is complete with every believed limitation that accompanies one’s private self-perception together with every defense adjustment our mechanisms have created to protect our self image or ego.
Okay, all of this is accomplished while we are still very young.  In time we gain the wisdom and insight to become familiar with this maturation process and a myriad of other operations that function in our culture, our homes, etc. to produce socially acceptable membership and behavior.  Using one of Shakespeare’s metaphors, life is a stage where we play our various parts, perhaps it’s time for a new rehearsal.  Indeed, change, improvement, true self-actualization and so forth, all require that we create a new character.  Using our power of imagination and consciously choosing the role playing model we will rehearse, will greatly assist and facilitate any change.
Therefore, it literally behooves all of us to watch those conversation exchanges that take place in our head as well as every other aspect of our “rehearsing” behavior.  To experience our best we must practice/rehearse our best at all levels of our being.  It works—but it can also be much easier said than done.  Still, life’s cornucopia of joy awaits those willing to make the effort.

Eldon Taylor

Eldon Taylor has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics. He is president of Progressive Awareness Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for accessing the immense powers of the mind. For more than 20 years, he has approached personal empowerment from the cornerstone perspective of forgiveness, gratitude, service and respect for all life. To contact Eldon in response to the story, you can reach him via his website:

Eldon Taylor's New York Times Best-Seller, Choices and Illusions, is available at all fine online and retail bookstores. However, to participate in the online event that Eldon has put together, including a chance to win a customized $500 InnerTalk library, please visit:

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mental Health In Elite Sports

Are some elite sports stars suffering in silence because they're afraid of what people would think if they admitted having mental health problems?
The charity Mind says so and they want professional clubs, governing bodies and community organisations to do more. In recent years some high profile sportspeople have taken their lives, including Wales manager Gary Speed. A new report from Mind says elite athletes can be particularly at risk from severe anxiety and stress.

Former QPR footballer Clarke Carlisle knows all about it. He tried to take his own life when he was 21 when doctors told him he may never play football again.
"The margins between success and failure are so small, that's why elite sport dominates your life," he says.
"It becomes a person's identity. A person's work life and personal life merge into one and it's all based on their performance in their sport.
"Life was rosy, then I suffered a very serious knee injury.
"The prospect of having my entire career and livelihood taken away was the beginning of my downward spiral."
He adds: "I was housebound for two months, I was drinking heavily. I really could not process the prospect of a live without football.
"In my head, my self esteem, my worth, my value was linked to football."
He says he couldn't handle the thought of not returning to the pitch.
Although individual sports do offer support services, Mind are calling for a national network to be established to help all elite athletes.
Clarke, who is an ambassador for Mind, has a suggestion for how it should be funded.
"You take the money from the TV revenue, before it's given out to the football clubs," he says.
"You take out one section of money and that is solely for the mental health initiative that will cover everyone across all four divisions."
Mind says young athletes also suffer if they don't have the success they expected and have to find another job.
Clarke says although there is "a great appetite to address mental health issues within sport," the support on offer "is nowhere near adequate".
The Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) has told Newsbeat the number of cricketers seeking help for mental health related issues has "doubled year-on-year for the past three years".
It's not just the professionals either.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, tells Newsbeat: "So many of us want to achieve the best we possibly can.
"Maybe we've won a few competitions and someone says 'Why don't you have a try for your county?' and as that pressure builds, it can be really challenging on young people's mental health."
He says the pressure of exams only makes things worse.
Both Clarke Carlisle and Paul Farmer say coaches and managers need to take the issue much more seriously
"The best coaches are the ones who really understand the whole person that they're working with," says Farmer.
"If you are a great coach you can help them through the tough times to help them achieve great things."
Carlisle says in professional football "when it comes to an issue like mental health [players] don't want to jeopardise their opportunity to play at the weekend or get their contract extended."
He adds: "The perception of mental health is that it is a personal individual weakness and something that will make that person a liability. And that perception has to change."
"Until the managers have an awareness that a person's mental health is as important as their physical health nothing will change."

For advice and help regarding mental health you can contact Mind.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Hypnotherapy To Stop Nightmares

A nightmare is a warning from the subconscious mind. It might signal a medical condition that needs to be treated, but it may also mean that you are ready to release pent-up negative emotions, negative scripting or trauma. Dream expert Patricia Garfield, author of Creative Dreaming, The Universal Dream Key and other books, tells us that most dreams are negative. I like what Robert Van de Castle says in Our Dreaming Mind:
Many people are surprised to learn that the majority of dreams are unpleasant. Since most people don't share dreams with others on a regular basis, they tend to assume that their own dreams are more negative, troubling, bizarre and unusual than those experienced by others. Knowing that other people often have disturbing dreams may be a source of relief to those who worry that their dreams may indicate some psychological disturbance or abnormality. But other individuals may use this information as an excuse to distance themselves from their dreams. 'I have enough unpleasantness in my everyday waking life. Why would I want to expose myself to further unpleasant events and emotions in dreams?' they may say.
I would respond that by paying attention to the troubling events in our dreams, we improve our long-range chances of reducing stress and anxiety in our waking life. Dreams tell us things we need to know to function more effectively when we're not dreaming. They inform us about conditions which require remedial action and give us hints as to which plans might be most successful.
I want to tell you a story about a client of mine who stopped recurring nightmares after one hypnosis session - essentially taking charge of a condition that required remedial action, and how together we created a plan that led to a surprising and dynamic shift. Marion is an elderly woman who lives in an assisted care facility because she has MS. One of her caregivers called me to say she'd been waking up at night frightened by recurring dreams about an angel of death. Sometimes she cried out, alarming staff members. They tried to console her, but the nightmares continued.
Marion was sitting in her wheelchair when I arrived. I pulled up a chair beside her, I explained how hypnosis works, prepared her for trance and began. Under hypnosis she described a woman who represented Death. She came down from the sky and looked like an angel in a dark robe. Recalling the figure, Marion became sad and teary eyed. "I'm not ready to die," she said in a faint voice. "Good," I responded. "Imagine, now, that you tell her that." Resistance surfaced. "But I grew up believing that when Death comes to tell me it's time, I must go."
"If you still have something you want to do here on earth, I wonder if you can ask for more time. If you think that's possible, please nod your head." She nodded. Mistaken literalism is the biggest dream interpretation error, says Jeremy Taylor, author of Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill and The Living Labyrinth. Marion's strict religious upbringing led her to believe the dream figure announced her impending death. She took it literally, as most people would have done. But dream experts tell us that death symbols may indicate our readiness for a transformation - a letting go of an aspect of our personality that no longer serves us.
Marion and I prepared for a visualization in which she would meet the woman in the dark robe and ask for more time. She would explain why she wanted to continue living. I asked Marion to verbalize her reasons. We converted her initial plea of "I'm not ready to die" into statements beginning "I want to live because..." When she was ready, I took her deeper into trance and we began the visualization. Marion was motivated and cooperative. The figure from her dreams agreed to her request. We expressed appreciation for the agreement, I deepened the relaxation again and gave her the post-hypnotic suggestion that before our next session she would have a pleasant dream and she would remember it so she could share it with me.
That was all it took. The nightmares stopped. When I went to see Marion two weeks later, she looked cheerful. "The angel in the dark robe has not come back - and I had a good dream." I'm going to share it with you here because it shows the power of the mind to make a course correction. I think important dreams deserve to have titles, so I asked her to title it. "The River," she said. In her dream, Marion can walk. At four in the morning she opens the door and walks to a river. "I knew which path would take me there." While walking on the path, she feels she is going to accomplish something and that it will be enjoyable. Though she lives in Seattle, the river is in Eastern Washington. She knows this because of the vast, open landscape and the rock formations. She's wrapped in a blanket of many colors that reminds her of Joseph's coat and Indian blankets.
She reaches the edge of a cliff and gazes at the river below, transfixed by its movement, "It's not rushing, just flowing." Across the river wild flowers and bushes are blooming in a rockery. I ask her if the scene reminds her of anything. She says, "It makes me think of the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing 'How Beautiful Upon the Mountain' because this is like a painting, entirely different than a real landscape. It is so beautiful that I'm awestruck."
At this point in the dream Marion worries that someone might realize she's missing, so she walks out to a road. A car stops. Inside are two women who say they've been looking for her, so she gets in. When they arrive home, a man is waiting at the door for her. She feels safe and supported.
After hearing her dream, I asked Marion if she would like to do a guided visualization to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She agreed and we imagined her going to Salt Lake City, entering the Temple and sitting down as the organ begins. When the visualization was clear in her mind, I asked her to describe it. "The organ is so powerful, my body is vibrating. The choir has such magic that anyone who heard it would be uplifted and changed by it." I suggested that now they would sing How Beautiful Upon the Mountain and asked if she would sing along. Still in the trance state, she began singing. She looked blissful. I gave her the post-hypnotic suggestion that she would sing for someone else after our session.
Days later, I learned from Marion's caregiver that she not only sang for the staff and residents, she sang for her doctor during an appointment she had later that day. Bubbling with enthusiasm, she shared her joy with others.
Jeremy Taylor says that all dreams come in the service of health and wholeness and that no dream comes to tell us what we already know. Dreams have multiple meanings and when we have a Big Dream, as Marion did, sharing it with someone you trust can have an expansive impact. Robert Moss, another well-known dream expert says that to harness the power of your dreams you need only two things: the ability to recall and the willingness to be open-minded about what your dreams are telling us.
When you have a bad dream, think about these words from Dr. John Kappas, founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, "Venting dreams are the most important to dream analysis since they represent events, traumas, doubts and fears that you are removing from your past and your present. They reflect what you no longer need to hold on to. They must always be recognized and accepted as a venting process, and not misinterpreted as having precognitive value. The purpose of venting is removal."
The next time you have a bad dream, remind yourself that you are venting. If you dream about someone you knew in elementary school or high school, you are releasing something from that period of your life – so you can feel good about that. Instead of getting up and stewing about it, you can say, "Whew. Glad I vented that!" It's been 18 months since Marion vented her death nightmares.
Every time you consciously acknowledge material that emerges from your subconscious in dreams, you promote greater communication between your subconscious and conscious minds. Let's reflect on the big picture: the evolution of consciousness. "As a species, consciousness is our primary choice for evolution," says Jeremy Taylor. "The evolution of consciousness is the ONLY reliable avenue of evolution." When a nightmare offers us an invitation for transformation on a conscious level, let's say yes...

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Woman With 7 Personalities

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sports Hypnosis: Pittsburgh Penguins Goaltender

Pittsburgh - Still smarting from a late-season collapse, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Johan Hedberg has turned to a hypnotist to improve the mental part of his game.
Hedberg, 29, has had two sessions with a sports psychologist in his native Sweden in the past month, and will have one more on Thursday before leaving Sunday for Pittsburgh, where training camp begins Sept. 12. Each two-hour session include 30 minutes of hypnosis.
"I think back on last year and I feel shame. I feel sick," said Hedberg, whose 25-34-7 record set a single-season franchise record for losses. "I didn't just want to work out my body to get rid of it. I wanted to work out my head, as well."
Hedberg's record was 5-15-3 from February on, a major reason the team finished a 28-41-8-5 season by going winless (0-8-1-1) in their final 10 games.
But Hedberg wasn't just sick over losing - he was losing his composure, breaking his sticks over the net. He's hoping the hypnosis will help him regain control of his temper as well as his game.
"I think this is going to help me. I'm learning to be more patient, how to handle everything better," Hedberg said. "You have to have control of your emotions in my position."
Hedberg said he's also focusing on game situations, like breakaways and tough shots, and visualizing how he'll handle them.
He hopes the hypnosis and two on-ice sessions each day - including one in which he simply faces a puck shooting machine - will combine to pay dividends.
"My big concentration has been with the machine and closing up holes, making my style more compact," Hedberg said.
"There is no worse goal you can imagine than one that goes under your arm or between your legs. If you have the angle on a shot, you should stop it every time."
Hedberg said he can't wait for training camp to start, to test his new mind-and-body regimen - and to erase the ugliest memories of last season, the first time in 12 seasons the Penguins missed the play-offs.
"We didn't win any of our last 10 games and it's not easy to forget about that. It was ugly and disgraceful. That was the worst month I've ever had in my hockey career." Hedberg said. "I'm very anxious to get there and get started."

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

How To Get Unstuck

Feeling Stuck in your Old Ways ?
When we are blocked in an area of our lives it often is due to the fact that we feel safer that way. We may feel unhappy but that is easier to deal with than our fear of the unknown. We begin to change when the pain we experience in staying stuck is bigger than the anticipated pain of change.

A lot of fear comes down to our negative core beliefs : deeply held beliefs acquired some time in the past due to painful experiences. Becoming conscious and challenging these beliefs is the first step in the process of change.

For a moment, think about something you would really like to do or be right now but don’t feel able to. When you’ve got that, write it down. Do that now. Maybe you have always wanted to be an artist so write down “I am a capable and talented artist”.

The Trouble with Positive Affirmations
Now, in all probability a voice in your head has just emerged to criticize this statement bringing up all sorts of reasons why this is either impossible or a bad idea. Positive affirmations can give us a sense of safety and hope if we let them but at first you will probably feel they sound fake, embarassing or not right. No surprise there. If you have spent all your life bludgeoning yourself with negative beliefs such as “I am worthless” or “I am not good enough” or “I must be perfect to deserve success” anything else will sound unfamiliar and syrupy or cheesy . So saying to yourself ” I am lovable just as I am” or “I am capable and confident” will surely sound untrue at first.

The problem with not accepting a belief because it doesn’ t sound right though is that feelings are a result of thoughts and if you want to change a feeling you have got to change the thought first. It’s a bit like the idea of “fake it til you make it”. You can’t wait to feel it to believe it, you gotta believe it to feel it! Luckily there are some ways to get around this obstacle, but all of these do involve a certain willingness to suspend judgement and take a leap of faith, as well as engage our rational mind doubting limiting old beliefs.
Seek out the Monster in your Head
So what is that critical monster in your head saying when you tell it you already are what you want to be? (After saying your affirmation: i.e. “I am ok just as I am” )

Listen to the objections that come your way. What s the cruel voice saying inside your head ? “so you’re ok as you are… ah ah sure you are!”, “who are you kidding?”, “You are ugly”, “You will never change”, “You can’t do anything right”, “No-one will ever love you unless you are perfect”, etc etc…You will be amazed at the rotten things you can come up with. Write them down. These are your personal negative core beliefs.
Become a Mind Investigator
Once you have written them down you can start having a good look at where these beliefs come from: Mom and dad? Your school bully? The boy/girl you were in love with when you were ten? Teachers that pushed you too hard? Your little jealous sister ? Scan your blurts for possible sources. Time travel back into your life in five year increments and list by name who influenced you the most in each block of time.

Once you have identified these challenge their opinions. What self serving reason could they have had to have done or said what they did do or say? How did their own world view influence them ? What did they believe about themselves ? What messages did they grow up with ? Remember this is not about blaming or condoning, just understanding and distinguishing their beliefs from what yours would be if you hadn’t accepted theirs as true. If there is still a lot of emotional energy involved in recalling these memories you might have to release it first so you can forgive them and yourself and move on.

Keep in mind that it is also possible your negative beliefs may come from subtle non direct messages received from your environment or from an experience of something that happened to you where others were not directly involved:

Maybe you felt different because of a situation you found yourself in; maybe you were abandoned by a significant other; maybe you fell ill and became isolated; maybe you were born with something that set you apart from others and you yourself came up with the negative conclusion that you were not Ok just as you were: the possibilities are endless and very personal.
Challenge the Critical Voice
Whatever your monster is, after it has been brought up to the light of day you can start working on challenging its critical voice and changing those negative beliefs that keep you stuck and unhappy. If you would like help with a practical cognitive behavioral approach to this, read this article about “how to get rid of negative core beliefs”.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

VIDEO How Your Brain Can Turn Anxiety Into Calmness

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Life Script

A script is a personal life plan which an individual decides early in life and is based upon his or her interpretation of the external and internal events which affect them. The script is a decisional model - this is very important - if I chose my own script then at any time given the right circumstances I can choose to make a change in my script. (When this change takes place in therapy the client is said to have made a Redecision.)

A potential script decision is made when a person discounts his own free child needs in order to survive. Only after several discounts does the decision become part of the script unless the situation carried a great deal of significance such as the death of a parent or sibling. Script Decisions are the best the child can manage in the circumstances. Yesterday’s best choice made by the child in a land of giants may now be very limiting to the grown adult. People follow their script because of the pay off, a familiar feeling, attempting to avoid the loss of love and in an attempt to gain love.


1) MODELLING by parents, siblings, others demonstrating how to = the Programme (accepted Adult messages).

2) ATTRIBUTIONS, the big person in Parent defining the little person in some way, e.g. “You’re just like .....”.

3) SUGGESTIONS, indirectly giving the message from parent, e.g. “Keep at it until it’s right”. Be Perfect).

4) INJUNCTIONS from the child ego state making demands on the person, either DO or DON’T.

NB: Messages can frequently contradict each other.

DRIVERS (Described by Taibi Kahler) From the Parent Ego State stating that the child will be OK if he/she follows a message which says:-

You will be OK if you..... Try Hard - Be Strong - Hurry Up - Be Perfect - Please Me –

TWELVE INJUNCTIONS (Described by the Gouldings in the book Changing Lives Through Redecision Therapy). Injunctions come from the infants parents scared or angry Child ego state:
Don’t be, Don’t be you, Don’t, Don’t be Important, Don’t belong, Don’t be close, Don’t be well / sane, Don’t think, Don’t feel, Don’t be a child, Don’t grow, Don’t succeed.

It is important to note that the child responds to these injunctions and makes a script decision... It is these negative script decisions which will possibly causing difficulty as a grown up. Permissions are also given to the child, these will be the opposite to the injunctions, e.g. Do think, etc.

The OK Coral: 
One of Berne's best know concepts is the idea that folks are born OK, The phrase I am OK - You are OK has become a part of folk language... In infancy, often pre-verbally the infant will make a decision as to how they related to others and themselves ... This is called their existential life position. Early life experiences will determine the person’s Existential or Life position. Once decided upon, the Life Position influences how the person thinks, feels and behaves. There are four basic life positions and Frank Ernst developed these into the well known OK Corral.

The script can be elicited in various ways, the questionnaire being one, and it is drawn out on a script matrix.
The script matrix is one of the earliest pieces of work done as a Transactional Analyst. The analyst will then design interventions based upon the information within the matrix. In therapy the injunctions are always to be dealt with first rather than Drivers which may well be the thing that keeps the person going. E.g. "I will be perfect then I can live." -- No matter how tempted don’t invite this person to stop being perfect, until they
have made a decision to live regardless of how imperfect they are!

These questions are designed to gain information from the client which enables the therapist to construct a script matrix, a picture of both the messages which were passed onto the infant and the decisions which the
infant made. (These 10 questions are based on Maggie and Jeff White’s article in the Jan 86 TAJ.

1. Imagine your mother sitting front of you and saying: “I am happy with you when you ... ..”

2. Do the same for your father.

3. When you were little, what was it about you that most upset or scared your mother?

4. When your mother lets you know that she does not like you being like this, what do you feel?

5. What do you do when you feel like this?

6. What was it about you that most upset or scared your father?

7. How do you feel when he lets you know this?

8. What do you do when you feel like this?

9. What phrase or sentence describes your mother and her life best?

Introduction to TA … “ TA 101 Notes” by Dave Spenceley TSTA

Saturday, 22 November 2014

What is Consciousness?

What Is Consciousness?
Excerpted for Choices and Illusions by Eldon Taylor

What is consciousness? Language is often thought to be the tool of consciousness and evidence for the kind of consciousness that makes humans different from monkeys. Indeed, language has often been referred to as the “jewel of cognition.” Some scientists have argued that Neanderthal man possessed advanced talking ability. This assertion is largely based upon a neck bone found in 1988. Other scientists argue for a more recent origin to speech—recent in this sense being between 50 and 100 thousand years ago. By contrast, early origin theorists date the beginning of language at more than 2 million years ago.
The evolution and history of language have a bearing on certain philosophical issues where consciousness is concerned. For example, take any date for the first appearance of language. For fun, let’s just assume some hairy bipedal creature that has never spoken. Is this creature conscious? Conscious in the sense humans are conscious? Now one day the creature utters some meaningful form of speech. Not a grunt or guttural sound, as all animals do, but some form—beginning—of speech. Is the creature now conscious?
What is the difference between the consciousness of animals and the consciousness of humans? What is intended by distinguishing between the two conscious forms as different and why? If a primate species shows the ability to learn, remember, and associate learnings, some insist this is evidence for reason. Most flatly refuse to recognize it as such. Is it possible that by recognizing consciousness as worthy and ripe for study that man’s consciousness will lose its unique, elevated status? What precisely is it that one means by consciousness, anyway?
Certainly reason preceded language. It would be rather odd if it were the other way around. Still, that’s an interesting thought.
Some seem to reason only with the tools of their language. In other words, their reason is limited by the rules and definitions of their language. Plus, there is some argument in favor of certain language structure as having greater or lesser faculties for developing logical thinking. Literal languages such as German, for example, tend to encourage the development of logical thinkers. However intriguing this may be, it still seems reasonable that reason preceded the conceptualization and development of speech. As such, one is hard pressed to limit the consciousness of a species on the basis of sound patterns called speech.
It gets still tougher--sound patterns that resemble speech, are uttered by so-called non-conscious animals such as whales and dolphins. So, what is consciousness?
Is consciousness a matter of wakefulness? No, it can’t be just that, for one can be a conscious being and still be asleep. Is consciousness memory? According to the experiments of Cleve Baxter, plants exhibit memory. Since science abandoned the study of consciousness years ago, the problems inherent in describing consciousness have proliferated during the interim. The advent of animal studies, plant studies, and synthetic or artificial intelligence has greatly complicated the matters of consciousness. Or perhaps simplified them.
For most people, parts of the left brain handle language. Brain hemispheric studies, including the now popular Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans show that the right ear sends acoustic information to the left hemisphere. According to Marc Hauser of Harvard University and Karin Andersson of Radcliff College in Cambridge, rhesus monkeys “display a similar cerebral setup, with the left half of the brain often taking responsibility for vocalizations intended to signal aggression.” If that is true, does it mean that the anatomical evidence for language processing is evidence for consciousness in the sense that we normally think of mankind’s consciousness. If not, what are the differences?
For some, mind equals brain. But for many, mind is a more general term that refers to the processes handled by the brain. Therefore, mind is often used interchangeably with consciousness. Is mind equal to brain? The chief area of inquiry offering evidence one way or another to answer this question is a discipline often held in low regard. Still, literally thousands of laboratory experiments in scientific parapsychology demonstrate that many aspects of mind cannot be reduced to anatomical or material brain.

Eldon Taylor

Eldon Taylor has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics. He is president of Progressive Awareness Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for accessing the immense powers of the mind. For more than 20 years, he has approached personal empowerment from the cornerstone perspective of forgiveness, gratitude, service and respect for all life. To contact Eldon in response to the story, you can reach him via his website:

Eldon Taylor's New York Times Best-Seller, Choices and Illusions, is available at all fine online and retail bookstores. However, to participate in the online event that Eldon has put together, including a chance to win a customized $500 InnerTalk library, please visit:

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Relation Between Bipolar Disorder and Music

Music can be a positive force in mental health. It can calm and give peace, it can impart peace of mind and provide a healthy diversion from the harshness of life. It is important to be selective in one's choices in music.

Music, for some, can be a deeply emotional experience. When one identifies with some particular music, bonds with it, the emotions being imparted are like the flow of electricity, they flow from the singer, to the CD or radio, to you, and become a part of you, deeply affect you.

Music can raise or lower moods. One can see how music could have an impact for some persons, who might already be emotionally inclined, in terms of depression and bipolar disorder.

If a child or teen listens to music most of the day, and if that music is alternatively happy, angry, deeply emotional, harsh, jumpy, you can see how emotions can be affected, and how it might contribute to highs and lows in an adolescent's mood. This seems to be the case for some children and youth who are suffering with depression or bipolar disorder, for some with ADHD.

Charged-up and Intense Music and its Affect on Emotions
Some of today's music in most genres can be intense, some is "drug-charged," cocaine-fueled (type) passion-music. It's energy level is high, and when combined with imagery from music videos, it can be an intense experience and overwhelming for the senses. Disorders of various types might be affected by the intensity of the music-media.

Hours on the ipod going to school, in school and at other times of the day, watching Internet and television music videos can weaken the mind of young girls and leave some more susceptible to mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder.

This can especially be the case for those who do not have strong or stable family ties and emotional attachments. The sexual messages of much of today's music for children and teenagers has an affect, as does the intensity. Another aspect of the retreat into a private musical world at one's fingertips is the emotional and social isolation that it can cause. Some find an escape route from unpleasant family or other situations in the fantasy of captivating music.

Long hours on the ipod can affect the mental health of children and teens.
However, this can weaken the child and teenager's ability to be able to create or imagine without some external stimulation. It weakens a child or teen's coping skills and makes him or her more vulnerable to mental health crises.

Moderation is needed in music, and parents and caregivers need to provide a variety of well-chosen wholesome musical choices to young people and to some children who are musically inclined.

Music, Psychology, Bipolar Disorder: Rage, Anger and Desperation
There can be a "rage" and "desperation" in some of the music that is popular today for young people, including alternative (rock) music, heavy metal, grunge and hard core. The mind then can have little time to rest and may be in a constant state of over stimulation. Dopamine level in the mind is overstimulated, and this can contribute to highs and lows in mood, as well as contribute to, among other things, the rage that can become a part of a child or teen's personality.

When this is combined with an unstable family life or other media influences such as violence orpornography, the combined effects can have a powerful influence on destabilizing the mood of adolescents, children and adults. While this may not be the case in all situations, when combined with other controllable lifestyle issues, the choices and intensity of the music you listen to may affect mood and contribute to bipolar disorder for some.

Conclusion on Music and Bipolar Disorder
One can conclude then, by limiting the time of exposure towards music, as well as the intensity, both in terms of emotional impact, anger level, (rock and roll may be described as an angry genre of music, a sort of protest against everything that's not right and which youthreadily internalize. Some rock takes that anger and desperation to extreme levels), and volume, it can positively impact mental health, especially for teens and young people, whose minds are forming and who are adjusting both physically and to new circumstances in life.

Attention to music can be one effective way that one can improve one's bipolar disorder symptoms profile. This can especially be true for teens, and some children. By being careful in the selection of music, toning down the volume and intensity, and by concentrating on selecting positive and mellower music, it can do much to help to improve the symptoms of many who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Pages Related Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder Story - Dr. Liz Miller permanently overcomes bipolar disorder through lifestyle changes, writing therapy, and mood mapping.

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Self Monitoring for Relapse Prevention

Bipolar Disorder Poem

About Bipolar Disorder Information and Facts

Bipolar Disorder Self Help 50 Natural Ways to Overcome Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Help for Bipolar Disorder - Coaching

Labeling in Psychiatry - The Medical Model of Mental Health and its Shortcomings

Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed

Bipolar Disorder and Children, Sharna Olfman

Bipolar Disorder Treatment - Children and Teens

Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed

Mood Stabilizers, Lithium - Effects and Side Effects

Bipolar Self Help (off-site)

Full article:

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Shell Shock in World War One

On 7 July 1916, Arthur Hubbard painfully set pen to paper in an attempt to explain to his mother why he was no longer in France. He had been taken from the battlefields and deposited in the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital suffering from 'shell shock'. In his words, his breakdown was related to witnessing 'a terrible sight that I shall never forget as long as I live'. He told his mother:

'We had strict orders not to take prisoners, no matter if wounded my first job was when I had finished cutting some of their wire away, to empty my magazine on 3 Germans that came out of one of their deep dugouts. bleeding badly, and put them out of misery. They cried for mercy, but I had my orders, they had no feeling whatever for us poor chaps... it makes my head jump to think about it.' [Punctuation and syntax as originally written]

Hubbard had 'gone over the top' at the Battle of the Somme. While he managed to fight as far as the fourth line of trenches, by 3.30pm practically his whole battalion had been wiped out by German artillery. He was buried, dug himself out, and during the subsequent retreat was almost killed by machine gun fire. Within this landscape of horror, he collapsed.

Medical symptoms
Arthur Hubbard was one of millions of men who suffered psychological trauma as a result of their war experiences. Symptoms ranged from uncontrollable diarrhoea to unrelenting anxiety. Soldiers who had bayoneted men in the face developed hysterical tics of their own facial muscles. Stomach cramps seized men who knifed their foes in the abdomen. Snipers lost their sight. Terrifying nightmares of being unable to withdraw bayonets from the enemies' bodies persisted long after the slaughter.

The dreams might occur 'right in the middle of an ordinary conversation' when 'the face of a Boche that I have bayoneted, with its horrible gurgle and grimace, comes sharply into view', an infantry captain complained. An inability to eat or sleep after the slaughter was common. Nightmares did not always occur during the war. World War One soldiers like Rowland Luther did not suffer until after the armistice when (he admitted) he 'cracked up' and found himself unable to eat, deliriously re-living his experiences of combat.

...everyone had a 'breaking point': weak or strong, courageous or cowardly - war frightened everyone witless...

These were not exceptional cases. It was clear to everyone that large numbers of combatants could not cope with the strain of warfare. By the end of World War One, the army had dealt with 80,000 cases of 'shell shock'. As early as 1917, it was recognised that war neuroses accounted for one-seventh of all personnel discharged for disabilities from the British Army. Once wounds were excluded, emotional disorders were responsible for one-third of all discharges. Even more worrying was the fact that a higher proportion of officers were suffering in this way. According to one survey published in 1917, while the ratio of officers to men at the front was 1:30, among patients in hospitals specialising in war neuroses, the ratio of officers to men was 1:6. What medical officers quickly realised was that everyone had a 'breaking point': weak or strong, courageous or cowardly - war frightened everyone witless.

Defining trauma
More difficult, however, was understanding what caused some panic-stricken men to suffer extremes of trauma. In the early years of World War One, shell shock was believed to be the result of a physical injury to the nerves. In other words, shell shock was the result of being buried alive or exposed to heavy bombardment. The term itself had been coined, in 1917, by a medical officer called Charles Myers. But Myers rapidly became unhappy with the term, recognising that many men suffered the symptoms of shell shock without having even been in the front lines. As a consequence, medical officers increasingly began emphasising psychological factors as providing sufficient cause for breakdown. As the president of the British Psycho-Analytic Association, Ernest Jones, explained: war constituted 'an official abrogation of civilised standards' in which men were not only allowed, but encouraged:

' indulge in behaviour of a kind that is throughout abhorrent to the civilised mind.... All sorts of previously forbidden and hidden impulses, cruel, sadistic, murderous and so on, are stirred to greater activity, and the old intrapsychical conflicts which, according to Freud, are the essential cause of all neurotic disorders, and which had been dealt with before by means of 'repression' of one side of the conflict are now reinforced, and the person is compelled to deal with them afresh under totally different circumstances.'

...a soldier who suffered a neurosis had not lost his reason but was labouring under the weight of too much reason...

Consequently, the 'return to the mental attitude of civilian life' could spark off severe psychological trauma. The authors of one of the standard books on shell shock went so far as to point out that a soldier who suffered a neurosis had not lost his reason but was labouring under the weight of too much reason: his senses were 'functioning with painful efficiency'.

Possible Cures
Nevertheless, how were these men to be cured of their painful afflictions? From the start, the purpose of treatment was to restore the maximum number of men to duty as quickly as possible. During World War One, four-fifths of men who had entered hospital suffering shell shock were never able to return to military duty: it was imperative that such high levels of 'permanent ineffectives' were reduced. However, the shift from regarding breakdown as 'organic' (that is, an injury to the nerves) to viewing it as psychological had inevitable consequences in terms of treatment. If breakdown was a 'paralysis of the nerves', then massage, rest, dietary regimes and electric shock treatment were invoked. If a psychological source was indicated, the 'talking cure', hypnosis, and rest would speed recovery. In all instances, occupational training and the inculcation of 'masculinity' were highly recommended. As the medical superintendent at one military hospital in York put it, although the medical officer must show sympathy, the patient 'must be induced to face his illness in a manly way'.

...their reputations as soldiers and men had been dealt a severe blow.

Sympathy was only rarely forthcoming. Sufferers had no choice but to acknowledge that their reputations as soldiers and men had been dealt a severe blow. After a major bombardment or particularly bloody attack, if the combatant had acquitted himself adequately, signs of emotional 'weakness' could be overlooked, but in the midst of the fray, the attitude was much less sympathetic. 'Go 'ide yerself, you bloody little coward!', cursed one Tommy at a frightened soldier. When the shell shocked men returned home, things were not much better. Men arriving at Netley Hospital (for servicemen suffering shell shock) were greeted with silence: people were described as hanging their heads in 'inexplicable shame'. No-one better described the mix of shame and anger experienced by the war-damaged than the poet, Siegfried Sassoon. In October 1917, while he was at Craiglockhart, one of the most famous hospitals for curing officers with war neuroses, he wrote a poem, simply called 'Survivors':

No doubt they'll soon get well; the shock and strain / Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk. / Of course they're 'longing to go out again', - / These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk. / They'll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed / Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died, - / Their dreams that drip with murder; and they'll be proud / Of glorious war that shatter'd their pride... / Men who went out to battle, grim and glad; / Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Eldon Taylor New Book Launch!! Author Questions and Answers

Q:  You came from a fascinating background.  How did you get inspired to write your books?

ET: As a practicing criminalist, nearly every day I saw someone, who had a world of potential, blow it over some silly stupid notion.  Perhaps they stole from their employer and rationalized it away since in their minds the employer was a bum who treated and paid them unfairly.  The fact is, every perpetrator of a criminal act can tell you why they did it, and when you stand back, their answers are justifications more than reasons.

It became clear to me that many people were making choices that were simply self-sabotaging.  Not just those who committed crimes, but the average person on the street.  At a certain point in my career, I became acutely aware of just how persistent this characteristic was with so many folks and the question became, “Why?”  Answering that question changed my life, as well as my vocation, and led to the research and books that I publish today.

Q: What are the basic principles in your life and how did your life lead you to these principles?

ET:  I try to live my life from what I think of as the four-corner philosophy.  These corners consist of forgiveness, self-responsibility, gratitude, and service.  Let me unpack that some. 

Back in the early ‘80’s we conducted a double blind study at the Utah State Prison.  The technology used was a cognitive engineering tool that used a shadowing method to deliver what most think of as a subliminal message.  The technology is known as InnerTalk today. The goal of the study was aimed at lowering hostility and aggression, and perhaps interrupting the recidivist rate.  We used some elaborate psychometrics to determine our intervention affirmations, but in the end, it was the dialogue with our inmate volunteers that led the way. 

The inmates generally displaced responsibility for their actions via blame.  There were all sorts of people and events to blame, but the bottom line argument came down to something like, “All but for the grace of God, you’d be here.”

As such, we created a set of affirmations to prime the inmates self-talk and thereby change the way they talked to themselves, consequently changing their expectation.  The affirmations included three forgiveness messages, something I have referred to as the forgiveness set ever since.  Those affirmations are: I forgive myself.  I forgive all others.  I am forgiven.  We also included messages regarding self-responsibility and general well-being.  The results of the study were very positive and that led to the prison system installing voluntary libraries throughout, from the Youth Offenders facility to Maximum Security. 

I took a cue from this study, for I saw that I too blamed many people in my life for many things.  My life changed as a result of practicing what I preached.  Indeed, for a few years I lectured about the power of forgiveness and our InnerTalk Forgiving and Letting Go program was our best seller.  We found as our research continued that forgiveness was a key for all walks of life.  It was just as powerful for the business executive, the athlete, the truck driver, the live in mom, and so forth.

Then one day it dawned on me, if forgiveness is really the starting point for self-actualization, then the program should be free.  So about twenty years ago we began offering the program for free and it remains free to this day.  Your readers can download it from

As for service and gratitude, that would take longer than we have here, if I am to answer your other questions, but this short video on luck may prime the pump.

Q: In your book, Choices and Illusions, you say that our choices are not our own.  What do you mean by that?

ET: Research clearly shows that there is activity in the subconscious before a conscious thought occurs. In other words, our so-called conscious thoughts are given to us by our subconscious. My work has shown that it is this subconscious information that dictates the kind of life we will experience, and understanding that helps us clarify why the prison intervention I discussed earlier was so powerful.  Change truly must happen from the inside out.  We must choose to take control of everything we put in to our minds.

Q:  How does this information get into our subconscious?

ET:  Most of it comes from our environment – our friends, family, peers etc. Unfortunately negative information, such as “you won’t amount to anything” has a much greater sticking power than positive information, and scientists estimate that 90% of the incoming information is negative. Additionally, we have actually been trained in many ways not to think.  In fact, in a very real sense, we have all been raised in our own little chicken yards.  I think a story is worth much more than data, so to this end I have posted a YouTube video that is the prefect illustration of how this entire process works.  The story is called The Chicken and the Eagle and can be seen here:

Q:  What do you mean, “we have been trained not to think?”

 ET:  We are taught things in limited ways. Logic and linguistics make assertions about many things that are simply false to fact. For example, logic asserts that a gallon is equal to a gallon. This is simply not true from many perspectives, including the most obvious. A gallon of water added to a gallon of alcohol does not equal two gallons of combined fluid. Ergo, 1 + 1 = 2 is not necessarily so in the “real” world, for no two things are alike in every way.

Q: I know you tell us what we can do about this limited thinking in your book, Choices and Illusions, but can you give us an example right now?

ET:  We need to realize that most of our lives we have been choosing as though we were taking a multiple-choices test, choosing between A, B and C when in fact there exists an entire alphabet that we could have chosen from.  I love to illustrate this point with one of my favorite stories. The story is called the Flower Pot story and I’d love for your audience to check it out on YouTube: It’s a short 3 minute video but well worth the time.

Q: Did you have any heroes or influences on your work?

ET:  In the large sense, everyone who has contributed to the knowledge that we have today is one of my heroes.  Everyone who has paved the way for more civility and greater freedom is one of my heroes.  Everyone who takes a moment to go to the aid of another human being is one of my heroes.  I think we improve our world one person at a time and the best way for each of us to begin is to help one another.  That said, I have the larger than life heroes such as Martin Luther King, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Aristotle and so forth.  And I have my close heroes, Roy Bey, my partner in business who believed in what we might be able to do if we made giving back our primary motive, and my partner in life, my lovely bride Ravinder, who for over twenty five years has been my constant source of encouragement and my reservoir of strength.

Q:  What exactly is mind programming?

ET:  I could be a bit of a smart aleck and answer by simply saying, “The title to one of my books.”  The truth is, we are all programmed in some degree.  The science behind our programming is so sophisticated today that it bares the name, Neuromarketing.  Literally billions and billions of dollars have been spent learning how to motivate you to act in a given way, while making you believe that you made the choice to behave accordingly.  This is truly big business today, and whether it is a product or political platform, it’s all about choosing your choices for you. 

The irony is, the research data reveals clearly that once you make a decision, you will vigorously defend it even if you must make up reasons to justify it.  That may sound absurd on the surface, but believe me, it’s quite true!  Take for instance this scenario.  We know that if we place a bottle of hand sanitizer on a table with a questionnaire designed to measure your beliefs according to a scale of conservative verses liberal values, that the bottle of sanitizer will skew your answers toward the conservative side.  Once you provide the more conservative than usual answer, you will defend it and thus become even more conservative.  The fact is, this sort of “prime,” as it is called in the business, is quite often used to influence your choices in all areas of life.  So we must really begin to ask ourselves, especially if we’re like most people and believe that these things can influence others but not ourselves, “What was our last truly original thought?”

Q: How can we uncover our true potential?  Is mastering our mind the key to our happiness?

ET:  The Buddha is credited with saying, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”  Science supports this assertion today whole-heartedly.  Indeed, not long ago I attended a CEU for health care professionals dealing with the latest in neurological research.  There were some powerful concluding remarks, but the bottom line take away is one that is particularly relevant here.  Let me digress just a bit first.  When I attended University, the prevailing thinking asserted rather axiomatically that personality became fixed early in life, ages 4 to 6, IQ was fixed, brain cells begin to die and do not replace themselves somewhere beginning in our thirties, and so forth.  All of this is patently untrue!  Today the research shows us that among the best things we can do to improve our lives is change our personalities.  We know IQ is not fixed and indeed, the brain is amazing!  Voila, today we become excited about the possibilities inherent to neuro plasticity.  So now, fast forward to those concluding remarks and the big take away: YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN CHANGE BUT YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE WHAT YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN CHANGE! 

Q:  How can we find out more about your work?

ET:  I am pretty easy to find.  My web site is  My books are available at all fine bookstores and on line.  My work with InnerTalk can be found at  I host a two hour radio show each week called Provocative Enlightenment, and you can learn more about it at my web site,

Q:  Thank you Eldon.

ET:  Thank you for the opportunity to share.

Eldon Taylor's New York Times Best-Seller, Choices and Illusions, is available at all fine online and retail bookstores. However, to participate in the online event that Eldon has put together, including a chance to win a customized $500 InnerTalk library, please visit:

Friday, 7 November 2014

Mind-Body Fertility Clinic

By: Isabel Teotonio Living reporter

Amira Posner remembers the despair that set in as she and her husband struggled with infertility, trying to get pregnant with Baby No. 2. She would curl up in bed, feeling ashamed and anxious.

“I felt isolated and deficient,” says the 38-year-old Toronto social worker, remembering that difficult period six years ago. “It was all-consuming. It was raw pain.”

Just as she was beginning to lose all hope, Posner discovered a book on fertility that promoted a mind and body connection. Despite several failed attempts with fertility treatments, her faith was restored.

As she prepared to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), with the odds stacked against her, Posner tried hard to block out the negative feelings and thoughts that had plagued her. She focused on listening to that inner positive voice and embraced yoga, meditation and visualization. The IVF worked — she became pregnant with twins.

Her personal experience inspired her to start Healing Infertility Counseling and Support, where she uses the mind-body approach with those struggling to conceive.

“When it comes to infertility, you can’t control what’s going on around you, but you can control your own response,” explains Posner, who runs mind-body fertility support groups at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“The mind-body approach is about refocusing our energy on something we can control ... People need to know that they have more tools in their belt than they think they do.”

That’s why the Mount Sinai Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health is hosting aMind-Body Fertility Conference on Oct. 25 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre in Mississauga.

The public event is believed to be the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area. It will feature a variety of fertility experts from different fields, including reproductive sciences, psychotherapy, psychiatry, nutrition, hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, spiritual healing and naturopathic medicine.

In Ontario, it’s estimated that one in six couples struggle with infertility, according to the Ministry of Health. Beginning in 2015, the province will start paying for one cycle of IVF per patient, but it won’t cover any of the associated drug costs. The IVF procedure involves retrieving an egg, fertilizing it with sperm and then transferring the embryo back into the uterus.

Among the conference’s speakers will be mind-body fertility educator Julia Indichova, whose book Inconceivable is what turned things around for Posner. It’s the true story of how Indichova struggled to conceive her second child and was told at age 42 that her child-bearing years were over — even IVF was no longer an option.

Unwilling to give up, she focused on becoming as healthy as possible. And she got pregnant, delivering her second child before her 45th birthday.

“I attribute it to countless changes that happened inside me that were physical, emotional and even spiritual,” says Indichova in a telephone interview from Woodstock, New York, where she runs Fertile Heart Studio.

“To me, infertility is really not a disease. It’s a catch-all diagnosis. It’s our body’s call for attention.”

Indichova, who will be the conference’s keynote speaker, says she hopes to motivate people to “fully engage with their own healing.”

“I’m going to encourage people to shift their view of this challenge, from seeing infertility as a devastating disease to an immense opportunity for healing.”

For more information on the conference visit

Monday, 3 November 2014

Interview Question: What is Your Biggest Weakness?

It's a standard question in almost every job interview, and one that most people have a hard time answering truthfully: "What's your greatest weakness?"

Despite being straightforward, it's a tricky question to answer. On the one hand, you don't want to appear cocky by pretending you have no weaknesses (because of course the interviewer knows you do).

On the other hand, you don't want to give the recruiter any reason not to hire you. (If your tendency to screw up Excel models isn't apparent on your resume, you certainly don't want to bring it up now.)

Most of us settle for a somewhat rosy-colored version of the truth that makes our shortcomings look like strengths. For example, you say you're a perfectionist who works too hard, or that your procrastinator tendencies have taught you how to work well under pressure.

But according to David Reese, VP of Human Resources at Medallia, who wrote on the topic for Harvard Business Review, this is exactly the wrong way to respond.

"Responses like these tell me little about how a candidate faces challenges and immediately implies a lack of sincerity," he writes. "It doesn’t demonstrate to me how they think — beyond their ability to creatively avoid being honest or self-critical."

Instead, show them that you're self-aware and willing to identify what's not working. Employers, especially startups, value having a diversity of opinions on their team. Innovation doesn't come from a roomful of people blindly agreeing with whatever the boss says. It comes from individuals giving honest and constructive feedback, even when that means pointing out the flaws in a popular idea.

When you're asked about your greatest weakness, be honest about what you need to work on. Better yet, describe how you've already begun to address the issue. That takes maturity and shows employers that you're willing to tell the truth even when it's difficult.

Read Reese's full post here.

Read more:

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Instantly Disliking Someone

Whether we admit it or not, everyone has seen total strangers while shopping, at a restaurant, at the park, walking down the street, driving etc., who you have instantly disliked or even hated for no logical reason whatsoever just for the way they look. I know some of you out there will be thinking "I never judge a person by their looks, but by the way they act etc", which is well and good. But, "judging" someone implies a rational thought process of weighing what we perceive to be "good" and "bad" about a person's character, and then making an informed opinion as to whether we like that person or not. However, this is a lie in most instances. No matter how much a person's character might be deemed "good", if you have a inate problem with the way that person talks, eats, or looks, you're not going to like them.

This is some sort of instinct we have. I see plenty of people like this every day: ones I feel an instant and irrational dislike for, and ones that I feel sympathy for for equally irrational reasons. If I actually got to know them on a personal level my feelings might be the opposite. This is a luxury most of us don't have, and making shotgun decisions about strangers we see on a daily basis is natural.

Human Resources departments and interviewers have a first impression of people the moment they see them, which in all likelihood will determine whether that person gets the job or not in many cases. Would you rather hire a totally qualified person who you have a distinct irrational dislike for, or a less qualified person who you immediately feel comfortable and friendly towards? These feelings are in all of us. They are human feelings and there is really nothing that can override them. The only totally fair way to make hiring decisions would be to see resumes with no names on them (as many HR departments are either pro or anti man/woman). Instead of asking questions face to face candidates for a job should be given a questionnaire to fill out with whatever a normal interview would have had. It is only after this and after a decision has been made for the most qualified candidate would I consider an interview process to be totally fair.

There is no point in denying that many of our decisions are make for seemingly irrational reasons. This then begs the question how irrational are "irrational" feelings? They are part of our instincts, which have been honed over hundreds of thousands of years to keep us from danger.

All of us have seen strangers who we instantly dislike because they are: too fat; too skinny; too perfect; bald; have dyed hair; have bad teeth; have perfect teeth; seem arrogant; seem stupid; seem rich; seem dangerous; seem better off than we are; have a mustache; have a beard; have stubble; seem like they have had plastic surgery; seem lazy; look like yuppies; have an expensive car; have an old pick-up truck; have a hot girlfriend; have an ugly girlfriend etc etc.

And of course there are people who just have something about them that makes us instantly hate them. It seems inexplicable. We could feel bad about it, but then again we can just take it for what is is: our instincts talking to us. You'll probably never see that person again, so just go with it. Just remember, other people are constantly sizing you up on a daily basis too, and they either instantly like you, dislike you, or see right through you and you leave no mark on their feelings either way. That's just the way things are.

Even babies are known to prefer one total strangers face over another during experiments done with photos. It's not bad to embrace our instincts. You never know, maybe our seemingly irrational likes and dislikes aren't that irrational after all.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

5 Classic Studies in the Psychology of Attraction

Most of the time our articles focus on current, cutting edge studies.  Yet, the nature of science is that it continually builds on findings from previous research. Inevitably, current research stands on the shoulders of giants. Here are some of the “giants” or classic works in attraction research: 
1. Similarity: Liking Others Who Are Like Us
At the heart of attraction is the idea that we like being with people who provide rewarding and positive interactions. An early study on attraction assessed whether rewards were associated with how similar to people are.1 To do this, researchers asked over 150 participants to read an questionnaire about attitudes (e.g., attitudes about premarital sex, television shows, etc.) allegedly completed by another participant, or what researchers refer to as a “bogus stranger,” then rate the attraction toward the bogus stranger. The researchers altered the scales to manipulate how similar the bogus stranger was to the participant and how many attitudes appeared on the scale. They discovered that proportion of similarity is more important than overall number of similar attitudes, such that it is more important to be similar on 7 out of 10 traits (i.e., 70%), rather than 30 out of 200 traits (i.e., 15%). This study laid the foundation for hundreds of subsequent studies into the importance of similarity in attraction. (Turns out that similarity is VERY important.)  
1Byrne, D., & Nelson, D. (1965). Attraction as a linear function of proportion of positive reinforcements.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology1(6), 659-663. doi:10.1037/h0022073 
2. Friends in the Dorm: The Power of Proximity
There is a saying that “you can choose your friends, but not your family.” However, it may be that your choice of friends isn’t totally within your conscious control either. In a classic study of friendship formation, researchers asked nearly 300 MIT dormitory residents to list their closest friends. The researchers then looked at where the listed friends lived in the dorms.2 When someone lived one door away, there was a 41% likelihood they were listed as a close friend. As the number of doors increased, that likelihood decreased such that those living four doors away had only a 10% likelihood of being listed as a close friend. This study demonstrates the importance that proximity, or being physically near others, has on relationship formation. Click here for an application of proximity to How I Met Your Mother.
2Festinger, L., Schachter, S., & Back, K. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups; a study of human factors in housing. Oxford England: Harper.
3. The Bridge Study
In this classic study,3 researchers left the laboratory to examine men’s attraction to a female they met under one of two conditions: on a high unstable shaky bridge or on a low sturdy bridge. In each condition, as the men crossed the bridge, they met a female experimenter who asked the men to tell stories about a set of ambiguous pictures. She also gave the men her phone number “just in case you have any questions” (slick). The men who met her on the high bridge told stories with more sexual content and were more likely to call her than the men who met her on the low, sturdy bridge. The reason?  Misattribution of arousal, or the idea that the high bridge created a sense of arousal that the men mistakenly thought was due to the female experimenter. For more about this study, check out this previous post.
3Dutton, D. G., & Aron, A. P. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(4), 510-517. doi:10.1037/h0037031
4. Lots to Gain: The Power of Winning You Over  
Which is more attractive: someone that has always liked you or someone who first did not find you appealing but eventually became more positive? A clever study tested this by having college students engage in a series of meetings.4 The participant “accidentally” (it was actually an intentional part of the study) overheard the experimenter describe them in one of four ways: all positive; all negative; initially negative but becoming positive, or initially positive but becoming negative. As you would expect, participants liked the experimenter when the evaluation was completely positive, but, surprisingly, liked the experimenter even more when the evaluation was initially negative but became positive. This finding demonstrates the gain-loss theory of attraction, or the idea that winning over people who had an initial bad impression is more rewarding to us than someone who liked us all along. Click here to see this theory applied to vampires on True Blood.
4Aronson, E., & Linder, D. (1965). Gain and loss of esteem as determinants of interpersonal attractiveness.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology1(2), 156-171. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(65)90043-0
5. What is Beautiful is Good
Most people assume that being physically attractive is a good thing, but this study shows just how good it can be. Undergraduates viewed pictures of men and women representing several levels of attractiveness.5 Based on the photograph alone, they rated the more attractive people as being more kind, outgoing, modest, sensitive, sociable, and interesting. But the positive perceptions didn’t end there. Participants also viewed more attractive people as having better jobs, better marriages, and better lives. These results demonstrate our strong bias toward beauty and the stereotypical beliefs we ascribe to more attractive individuals. For example, I'm sure the woman in the picture is an world class journalist who is extremely articulate, and happy in life.
5Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology24(3), 285-290. doi:10.1037/h0033731
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