Friday, April 3, 2009

Back to Goals

Occasionally I get asked my advice on what someone should do, what direction they should take - I can't answer that question, but whenever someone is lacking direction or hope for the future it often is simply either the goals they are setting are not productive or adequate.

I covered a little about my appraoch to goals in the first article I wrote for this blog, "The Importance of Goals".

Expanding upon what I wrote there, when asking someone about goals they are often unable to come up with any.  I ask, "If you don't know what you want, how are you going to get it?".  Know what you want.  Often when people who are lacking direction, focus or motivation and they are trying to establish goals I find they dismiss them with thinking like "that will require too much work." or "by the time I reach my goal I'll be too old to enjoy it." or "what would my friends/family/coworkers think of me if I did it." or countless other excuses.

This is where it counts to be selfish.  Selfishness isn't something I'd normally be quick to advocate, but when it comes to goals, it's important that they are about you.  Goals that involve other people should only be adopted upon mutual agreement and understanding of the goal, but this form of co-operative decision making and mutual benefit is something I'll be covering in the future.

These goals don't need to be immediately achievable nor do they need to be precise or detailed.  A goal can be as simple as to "continue to develop my French skills." or "to travel to Egypt and visit ...", feel free to let your imagination wander and dream - these are things that you'd like to do.

Still struggling to establish something?  Start looking at the things in your life that motivate you or you're passionate about.  It could be an obscure sport, collecting something, animals, literature or restoring antique cars.  Build your goals around the things that already motivate you, putting that energy that can often be wasted into planned action.

If your goals are things that you can go out and accomplish immediately, they serve little purpose as building blocks and something to set your direction by.  As I mentioned in my initial post on goals, I have an over-arching goal of self development, all of my other goals fit under this one.  A more physical goal of mine is visiting Egypt next year - but there are deeply significant reasons I wish to do this that fit well within my over-arching goal.

Once you have your goal, visualise the picture, feel the feelings, smell the smells and interact with it.  Make it real, day-dream it and see yourself accomplishing it.  Feel what it feels like to accomplish it.

This is the point that often gets difficult, let go of the goal.  Know it's a goal, but don't keep it at the forfront of your mind, constantly struggling and working towards it - let the cosmic provide you with the opportunities that will lead you to the goal, they'll show up - but you have to be open to them.  They may not appear in the way you expect, but it's up to you to identify in those opportunities which ones will help you achieve your goal and which ones will take you further from it.

Remember - we're all children of the cosmic and the cosmic wants to give her children all the tools and opportunities to create abundance all around them, always.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Behavioural Change - Modern and Ancient

I feel our personal behavior plays a large part in creating the world around us and the amount of abundance that we open ourselves up to receiving from the cosmic.
A lot of us don't realise that we live very re-reactionary lives - constantly re-acting to events around us as opposed to living pro-actively - constantly seeking out opportunities to grow, reach out and expand.  Emotions often are a large cause of some of our more inexplicable re-actions to events and situations and often the initial emotional reaction isn't at all the core of the problem but something that has triggered a memory or recollection of other similar events and often a bunch of emotional baggage will come flying back with it.

How do we deal with these reactions and behaviours that cause us to block the abundance that's right in front of us but seemingly just out of reach?
There are a range of methods available to use to deal with altering these behaviours and patterns and the way we re-act and in this article I'm taking a look at some of the underlying commonalities of these methods.

The modern techniques of Neuro Linguistic Programming and a large portion of the therapies that can be grouped together as Cognitive Berhavioural Therapy are two useful tools in making conscious behavioural modifications to ones own behaviour.  However springing from late antiquity we have another useful tool in self transformation and that is in Hermetic Alchemy, which Carl Jung described as a Western proto-psychology dedicated to the achievement of individuation.

These three tools all have slightly different targets and uses.  NLP is well suited and often aimed at people seeking business, financial and marketing success through better communication both internal and external.  CBT covers a range of therapies all based around the same principles of conscious behavioural change through a variety of methods and is a more clinical approach also used for the treatment of anxiety, fear and mood disorders.  Where alchemy is often discussing metals and transmuting something ordinary into something spectacular these principles run much deeper.  Paracelsus in his Alchemical Catechism tells us
Q. When the Philosophers speak of gold and silver, from which they extract their matter, are we to suppose that they refer to the vulgar gold and silver?
A. By no means; vulgar silver and gold are dead, while those of the Philosophers are full of life.
The process of all of these techniques can be broken up into several stages which involve identification of the behaviour or process to modify,  isolation of the particular behaviour and it's associations, transmutation of that into the desired positive result and re-integration of the final product back into the whole personality.   All of the techniques I've mentioned have slightly differing steps but the principles are the same.

One of the presuppositions of NLP is there is a positive intention behind all behaviours.  Another way I look at this is that everyone does the very best they can do with the tools and resources they have.  With NLP we take that positive intent behind the behaviour and use it to our advantage - we find another behaviour that we can consciously substitute and ultimately make second nature or habitual. 

NLP also presents that personal change can be effected by modifying the way we communicate, just as we can re-frame our behaviours and consciously modify them we can re-frame our speech.  For example instead of the statement "I'm no good at football." one could use "My football skills could use improving.", allowing plenty of room for growth and not restricting or limiting oneself by the language used.

Unfortunately an exploration of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is outside of the scope of this article as the field is expansive and incorporates many different therapy techniques and tools each with their own immense volume of work and specialists.  I can suggest starting at wikipedia and exploring some of the work referenced in the article.

The ancient science of Alchemy uses a process alternating between separation and rejoining, each stage associated with a colour with the stages being Heraclitus: melanosis (blackening), leukosis (whitening), xanthosis (yellowing) and iosis (reddening).  Each of the dis-integration and re-integration phases is a purification process each time refining the results. 

The black state represents the confusion and chaos in the psyche.  It is in this stage that we must acknowledge our self, our weaknesses and mistakes the elements of our self that hold us back including those subconcious or shadow aspects.

The white stage represents a state of self knowledge.  We must recognise and re-integrate all the aspects of ourselves we separated and identified in the first stage, including the ones previously hidden, even to ourselves.

Moving from the alchemical white to yellow involves action, reformed action based on the self knowledge resulting from the previous stage, leading us to the final stage of alchemical red, or integration of everything harmoniously into the new whole.

There is a fantastic discourse and guided meditation exploring the Alchemical process that is available from Rosicrucian Podcast.

NLP Weekly magazine also provide a useful NLP for Beginners Online Course.