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Archive for the 'mindset' Category

Does talk therapy actually work?

Monday, August 6th, 2018

 

One of my clients Romana drew the image above. The title ‘naval gazer’ accurately sums up what can happen when too much time is spent dwelling on problems, suppressing pain, and not enough time healing, actively evaluating options and challenging any unhelpful assumptions. In a state of paralysis, many people get bogged down.

Sometimes, a simple but effective way to get unstuck is to explore a range of different thinking styles – ideally, ones that challenge crippled thinking, open up possibilities and move you into a state of inspired, solutions-focused action. This is where working with a therapist can help. However, many people resist going to see a counselor or therapist because they assume that all they will achieve from the session is ruminating on their problems and more navel-gazing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. A skilled counselor can not only provide much-needed support but also act as an objective, independent sounding board who can help you get to the root of your issues, add a liberal dose of much-needed empathy and understanding and support you to make the changes necessary to empower your life. As one of my clients told me, “It wasn’t until someone listened to me, really listened, that I knew what I really thought.”

All too often, no one gives us the space to think or express our emotions. Well-meaning family members, work colleague, friends and even strangers may dispense advice—not all of it is helpful. Take the example of Simon whose wife of thirty-years had recently died. “You just need to suck it up and get on with it,” a friend told him. Working through his grief in therapy proved to be a much more helpful and healing approach.

“I thought I should be able to handle it. I told myself I wouldn’t get upset, ” he told me.

“Who told you that when you lose someone you love very, very much that you shouldn’t feel something?” I asked. He shrugged.

We both agreed it was natural to cry. I suggested that if he didn’t feel anything – if he didn’t feel loss, or grief, sadness or pain, he would be inhuman. Cognitively we can often fool our minds, but the heart is often our greatest, and most honest, teachers.

In our Western culture, so many people, particularly men, bottle up their feelings. Some experts say that these repressed feelings are contributing factors behind the escalating rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. Tom, whose sister took her own life when he was in his earlier 20’s recalls his parents praising him for showing a lack of emotion, “Good boy for not crying,” they told him. Bottling trauma is neither helpful nor good.

Now in his fifties, Tom suffers from mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Rather than seek help releasing these feelings, including anger toward his parents, he abuses alcohol in an attempt to anesthetize dark feelings. And he’s not alone. As I share in my book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More, A great many people drink alcohol to mask or numb the symptoms of their wounds.

No one escapes walking in this world without some degree of hurt. But for many people, this hurt is profoundly deep. The first cuts, experts (and songwriters) say are the deepest—very often these wounds are inflicted during childhood. Tragically, what should be a happy time of innocence is one of incalculable pain. Incest, rape, physical abuse, emotional neglect—and many more horrid things happen to people growing up.

Many wounded souls never receive therapy. Reasons vary. For some, it appears too costly, for others they think that talking to a therapist make them weak. Tony Soprano, one of the thoughest characters to storm across our TV screens in the award-winning show, The Sopranos, sought therapy to deal with repressed emotions which contributed to his anxiety attacks.

In 2017 movie superstar Brad Pitt revealed he had a shocking drinking problem that wrecked his marriage and tore his young family apart. “I feel retarded when it comes to expressing my emotions,” he said as he opened up about his battle with alcohol. To help him kick the alcohol habit he opted to face his demons and learn how to express and handle emotions by seeking the services of a qualified and skilled counselor.

Asking for help, whether this is addiction counseling, relationship therapy, coaching to deal with stress at work, or something else, isn’t easy for many successful people. However, it’s often what you need to gain a fresh perspective, overcome obstacles, heal wounds and expand your life. You may like to check out this interesting series discussing why men struggle to express theiir feelings.

As a qualified counselor and psychologist, I know that very often integrative talk-therapy which draws on an eclectic range of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and other modalities, including creative and art-based techniques can be extremely effective, and therapy needn’t be gloomy. A lot of healthy healing can be achieved using playfulness and fun. Personally and professionally I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform peoples’ lives.

Creativity in its various guises is a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, which explains why art therapy is such a potent and popular tool. Art therapy is a form of experiential therapy, an approach to recovery and healing that addresses emotional and spiritual needs through creative or physical activity. People don’t need to have a background in the arts or any artistic talent to participate.  They need only to be open to experiencing and engaging actively to benefit.

I have trained in a technique called Interactive Drawing Therapy and have found it to be an incredible tool in my own life and in my sessions with others. The simplest of drawings, a line, a color, a scrawled phrase or word can powerfully access parts of the psyche we often repress, bringing unhelp subconscious belief to light. In an alchemical process, wounds are spun into gold.

When I first trained in Interactive Drawing Therapy the teacher asked for a volunteer. No hands were raised so he picked me. What harm could it do, I thought, being as skilled as I was at keeping a lid firmly on my feelings.

“Draw an animal,” he said.

Sure, I thought. Great. Harmless. I drew a giraffe.

“Put some color on the page,” the teacher gently guided.

My giraffe became pink with green, purple and yellow spots. What fun I thought.

“Where is she?” the teacher asked. “Draw this on the page.”

I drew large grey and black rectangles, symbolizing office blocks, cars belching smoke, and a road, not unlike Lambton Quay, in Wellington, New Zealand where I went to work in a job I hated every weekday.

“Put some words on the page,” the teacher whispered.

“She doesn’t want to stand out.”

And then it dawned on me, just as the words slipped onto the page. That giraffe was me. And the fact was I did stand out—naturally. I had always been different. And I had struggled unsuccessfully to belong.

“She can’t help but stand out,” my tutor affirmed. “It’s who she is.”

For me, this awareness was so new, so potent, so transformative, that I knew instantly there was work to do. I began to understand the deep social anxiety I had felt as a child and carried with me through adolescence—and with it the drinking and reckless behavior I had adopted to belong, to bolster the confidence I never felt, to hide the discomfort of living in my own skin.

When I completed my counseling training many years ago I was also introduced to Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). REBT originated in the mid-1950’s as Ellis became increasingly aware and frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional psychoanalysis to produce a change in his patients.

The REBT worldview is that people often make themselves emotional victims by their own distorted, unrealistic, and irrational thinking patterns. Ellis takes an essentially optimistic view of people but criticizes some humanistic approaches as being too soft at times and failing to address the fact that people can virtually “self-destruct” through irrational and muddled thinking.

According to Ellis and the REBT worldview, all people are born with self-defeating tendencies. When something goes against your goals, your values or desires, feelings of failure, rejection, etc., can set in; but you have a choice.

You have a choice of feeling terrified, panicky, depressed, self-pitying, self-doubting, etc.—and succumbing to these emotions.

But these feelings can prevent you from making positive changes—and may drive you to drink, for example.

Which emotion you choose, according to REBT practitioners, is thought to mainly depend on your belief system—not your goals and values, but what you tell yourself when your goals and values are thwarted or blocked.

We all have a rational set of beliefs called “preferences.” In this context, “rational” means self-helping beliefs, such as, “I don’t like what is going on.” “I wish it weren’t so.” “How annoying?” “Let’s see what I can do about it.”

Many people very frequently pick irrational beliefs, referred to as “demands,” such as, “Because I don’t like what is going on, it absolutely should not be allowed.” “It can’t happen.” “I can’t stand it.” “Everyone should love me–if they don’t, I am worthless.” “It’s horrible, I think I’ll give up” (or, when taken to the extreme, “I’ll kill myself”).

Ellis’ therapeutic approach is not to challenge the clients’ goals and values, but instead attack their absolute demands about achieving these values. The emphasis of the therapy is on changing the way the client thinks about the behavior or the upsetting event, rather than on changing the behavior itself.

This is a critical point—it is not the actual event but our view of the event that is critical.

The task of the REBT therapist is to help clients’ challenge and self-correct thought patterns and minimize irrational ideas, while simultaneously helping them to change their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Challenging the irrational statement is key to changing an entire philosophy of life.

The ABCDEF Method

Perhaps Ellis’s most important concrete methodological contribution is his A-B-C–D-E-F theory, which can be summarized as follows:

A – the “objective” facts, events, behaviors that an individual encounters. (I call this, ‘the activating event’).

B – the person’s beliefs about ‘A’

C – the emotional consequences, or how a person feels and acts about ‘A’

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

E – the effect that disputation has on the client

F – new feelings and behaviors

 

Example:

I helped a friend apply the ABCDE method following a Boxing Day alcohol-fuelled drama which impacted his son. The following is an edited extract (I have changed names to protect people’s privacy):

A – the activating event and “objective” facts, events, behaviors encountered.

Following Boxing Day, Tim, who is nineteen, rang and told his father, Simon about an alleged assault between him and his mother’s new boyfriend. Tim says both his mom and her boyfriend were drunk.

 

B – the beliefs about ‘A’

Simon is waiting to speak to the ‘old-one’ (his ex) to determine the facts but believes his son’s account of what happens.  The ‘old one’ is not returning his call.

He believes the reason she is not returning his call is because she is at fault, and that an assault did occur.

 

C – the emotional consequences, or how Simon feels and acts about ‘A’

Simon’s emotions are heightened. He’s feeling frustrated, powerless, angry, resentful and fearful for his son’s safety. Yet, aspects of his son’s version of what happened concern him. He feels confused as to what really occurred.

Simon drinks 3 bottles of beer and goes to the bottle store to buy more.

Simon believes alcohol relaxes him, minimizes stress, and helps him stay calmer and in control while he waits.

Over the course of the evening (3 hours), he drinks five 500ml bottles of beer (11 standard drinks.) Feeling stressed, I join him—minimizing my drinking by consuming small quantities in six crystal glasses (in total 500 ml, or 2.2 standard drinks.)

After speaking to ‘the old one’ and his son on a three-way call, and resolving all misunderstandings, I asked how he feels now that he knows his son is not at risk. He shuts me down and says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He doesn’t speak to me again that evening.

 

D – disputing ‘B’ irrational beliefs

Rather than work myself into a state, I challenged my belief that by drinking with Simon we would both be relaxed. Alcohol is a depressant, it depletes your energy, and increases symptoms of stress already triggered by external events, I reminded myself.

It increases anxiety, melancholy, gloom, and aggression, which is why Tim’s mom and her partner argued, and why Tim ‘lunged’ at this stepfather when he told him to mind his business.

I counsel myself, “Alcohol is ethanol, a flammable, colorless chemical compound—it’s poison, also used to fuel cars, masquerading as a happy drink.”

 

E – effect that disputation has

The episode strengthened my resolve never to drink during times of stress, and my conviction that I don’t want to ingest poisons.

Simon’s knowledge that his ex is an alcoholic causes him to question his own dependency on alcohol during times of stress.

This change in thinking affects Simon by making him more committed to controlling his drinking and being a role model to his son.

 

F – new feelings and behaviors

Simon and I felt calmer and more optimistic about the benefits of not drinking.

Simon felt more empowered and in control now that he has discovered the truth about his ex’s drinking and how her relationship with a man who drinks excessively affects his son.

He decides to take control by helping Tim find a way to gain his independence and leave home, knowing that despite urging his ex to seek help for her drinking that, as with other times, this may have fallen on deaf ears.

Tim successfully finds work that he loves which means he is seldom at home and tells his father that alcohol has no place in his own life. Tim is happier sober!

 

As a holistic practitioner and life coach I also know there is a wide range of alternative healing approaches that yield remarkable, extremely quick results. It concerns me, and a lot of other health professionals that too often people turn to antidepressant medication, Despite research that cites the lower effectiveness, for many people this still appears to be the solution of choice prescribed by many medical professions.

“Pills are cheap,” my doctor told me when I asked her why counseling wasn’t recommended to more people. It may be cheap, but worrying it is not always effective and the side-effects can also do more harm than healing. Rather than offer short-term help very often people come to rely on medical prescriptions for decades. In an extract from his book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected SolutionsJohann Hari, who took antidepressants for 13 years, says masking the pain does not offer long-term relief and calls for a new approach.

“I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him – crouched, embarrassed – that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why.

However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened. The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through.”

You can read a summary of his views, including his claims of an over-riding profit motive by pharmaceutical companies, in his interview with The Guardian. ‘Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?”

A good therapist will often share strategies that can help you rebalance the hormones in your brain, or refer you to other health professionals like nutritionists and dietitians. There are a great many ways to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs, including meditation, exercise, sunlight, vitamins and other low-cost approaches. Many will save you money, boost your health, help you reduce weight and improve your relationships—here I’m talking about eliminating or cutting back alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has been found to significantly reduce serotonin 45 minutes after drinking. As this article in SpiritScience claims, there is also a clear link between alcohol consumption and violence or other types of aggressive behavior. Aggression is also heavily linked to low serotonin levels and may be due to alcohol’s disrupting effects on serotonin metabolism.

In an article which appears in  Psychology Today, F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist, and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City, cites research confirming the ineffectiveness of antidepressant medication compared with other therapies, including talk therapy. In the November 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind: “Getting to Know Me: Psychodynamic therapy has been caricatured as navel-gazing, but studies show powerful benefits,” claims Jonathan Shedler. Shedler, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of psychology at the University of Colorado Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry Service. As Barth notes, Shelder ‘combines anecdotes from clients and therapists with fascinating research to explain something that those of us who have practiced “insight” therapy (sometimes also called “talk” therapy) have known for a long time: psychodynamic psychotherapy works. It helps clients find solutions not only to specific symptoms but also to difficulties at work, in their social lives, and with self-esteem.

For example, Shedler writes, “One major study found an ‘effect size’-a measure of treatment benefit – of 0.97” for psychodynamic psychotherapy. “For CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), 0.68 is a typical effect size. For antidepressant medication, the average effect size is 0.31.”

Barth describes seven features that researchers have found contribute to the power and effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy: “exploring emotions, examining avoidances, identifying recurring patterns, discussing past experience, focusing on relationships, and examining the patient/therapist relationship.”

As a result of counselling, many people choose to connect or reconnect with lapsed spiritual or religious rituals. I love integrating spiritual approaches into my ‘talk therapy.’ Many people have lost their union with God because of the hypocritical dogma which has polluted many faith systems. However, prayer, for example, comes in many shapes, colors, and textures.

Many recovering alcoholics, prosperous creatives and successful business people, including Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, refer to prayer in several forms, including describing it as the voice of God, intuition, higher self, inner goddess, or their Sacred Divine. In her book Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, Marianne Williamson, who also shares her early dysfunctional relationship with her mother, speaks of prayer as a way of “focusing our eyes,” dramatically transforming our orientation, releasing us “from the snares of lower energies,” and aligning “our internal energies with truth”.

Prayer, or invoking a higher power, is revered by many for its power to help them reclaim their strength, find their inner power and overcome tragedy. You may enjoy reading my earlier post on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/spiritual-approaches-to-the-treatment-of-alcohol-addiction/

 

Whether you elect to seek the services of a therapist, put your faith in God, divine wisdom, spirituality or something else, the truth is very often that safety, guidance, and strength comes from a place within. The right therapist can act as a much needed and much-valued guide who supports you to find solutions to your problems and develop strategies you can apply yourself to regularly to stay well.

 

 

Cassandra is a holistic psychologist, integrative counselor, life coach, and author. To book an appointment or learn more about her wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

Learn more about Cassandra from reading Testimonials to her work.

 

You might like:

Quantum Transformational Coaching—all your questions answered

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

Life transformed by faith in the stars

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How to conquer the destructive force inside human nature

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

 

Do you have a death wish?

Freud claimed we all do. The Death Wish, he said, is a destructive force inside human nature that shows its face whenever we consider a challenging, long-term course of action that might do for us, or others, something that’s actually good.

Others refer to this as resistance. How many do you recognize as true for you?

• Self-sabotage

• Distraction

• Allowing others to sabotage your success

• Something else that stops you moving forward?

“Speak to your darkest: and most negative interior voices the way a hostage negotiator speaks to a violent psychopath. Calmly, but firmly. Most of all, never back down. You cannot afford to back down: The life you are negotiating to save, after all, is your own,” writes Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat. Pray Love, in her book, Big Magic.

The more important taking action becomes to our personal growth and soul’s evolution, the more resistance we can feel toward committing to it. This is why, so often, we know we’d be better off not having that extra drink, but we have it anyway.

The following activities, most commonly create resistance:

• The launching of any new venture

• Any kind of education and learning of new ways of thinking and being

• The pursuit of any life purpose or calling

• Any act that requires devotion or total commitment

• Taking a stand in the face of setbacks or adversity

• Any acts of courage, including the decision to change for the better some negative habit or toxic pattern or thought or behavior in ourselves

 

Take heart—resistance is normal! While you may have your work cut out for you, resistance, rather than being a personal failing, is a normal part of the change process. And you can beat it!

 

Tug of War

Have you ever held two magnets in your hands, holding them close but not touching? You’ll know then, the energy it takes to keep them apart. Resistance works in the same way. To resist is to struggle, or fight against something you are drawn to be or do. Think of it as a war—a war against your heart. A war against yourself.

A magnet creates an invisible area of magnetism all around it called a magnetic field. Your heart is your body’s most powerful magnet. The heart, like the brain, generates a powerful electromagnetic field, McCraty explains in The Energetic Heart. “The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. The electrical field as measured in an electrocardiogram (ECG) is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram (EEG).”

Numerous studies by the HeartMath Institute show this powerful electromagnetic field can be detected and measured several feet away from a person’s body and between two individuals in close proximity.

So you’ll appreciate that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to resist what you know in your heart you really desire.

The feeling of resistance reminds me of a young foal called Venus we were looking after on our rural property. Her owner came to take her to a new home where a young girl was happily waiting to care for her.

But Venus didn’t know what the future held. She wanted to stay where she was and with who and what she knew. It was all she would ever know—unless she surrendered and moved to new, fertile pasture and loving home.

I watched as her owner, unable to coax her to move of her own accord, dragged her from the field. Was it fear, a primal instinctive resistance that she found threatening?

Resistance can be traced to its evolutionary roots in genetics. The cure for humankind is to connect with a “higher realm.” To let love, not fear, be your guiding light. This is the place where inspiration, or being in spirit, resides. It’s the purpose and passion zone, and the place where magic and manifestation miracles really do happen.

 

Why are You Resisting?

Now you know that pursuing the best outcomes often meets with the greatest resistance. The things that you feel most scared or apprehensive about are the things that matter most.

Resistance is fueled by fear. It has no strength on its own. Gently accept and acknowledge your fears and then send them on their way and you will conquer resistance. In the previous chapters, you’ve discovered some helpful techniques.

Perhaps like Venus, you find change threatening. Perhaps like my client Richard, a past story—one of hurt and disappointment—keeps replaying in your head. Or you may be like Katherine who has embarked on a journey of sobriety before and failed. She was worried about what the future held.

Failure is not fatal—plenty of people have fallen off their sobriety wagon. But, just like people have fallen off horses, they didn’t let a fall from grace, hold them back from another ride.

Will you have to be dragged kicking and screaming, rather than walk forward with confidence that you are in safe hands and all will be well? Have you forgotten the consequences of denying your path with heart? By resisting change are you suffering in the process, like Venus who tried to make a great escape and leaped the fence, hurting her leg as she fell?

Are you struggling like she did until she no longer had the strength to resist and surrendered? Are you waiting for someone to make the decisions for you until you have no choice but to change?

Perhaps you can relate to my story. When I stopped struggling and quit boozing because I finally got so sick of feeling shitty, tired and afraid. Maybe you don’t want to wait until you’re so fed up and stressed that your health is compromised.

“The enemy is a very good teacher,” says the Dalai Lama. Whatever your situation you’ll find it helpful to clarify your sources of resistance and learn what needs to change. The following resistance quiz will shed some light so that you are better able to navigate the road ahead.

 

The Resistance Quiz

Increase your awareness and prepare to take some empowered steps by taking the following resistance quiz.

How committed to achieving your best life are you? Do you:

1. Know what you want in your heart, and your gut, but resist taking action

2. Spend time doing anything but the thing which inspires you (drinking, watching television, hanging out with toxic friends etc.)

3. Allow your thoughts to be contaminated by fear, doubt, and other negative emotions like anxiety

4. Sabotage opportunities by breaking promises or not following through

5. Want certainty and absolute guarantees before committing to action

6. Opt for the comfort rut and ‘easy fix’ rather than embrace a new challenge

7. Do what’s practical at the expense of what inspires you

8. Let laziness control you, suffocating your aspirations

9. Procrastinate, dither, make excuses and justifications to explain your lack of progress

10. Have a shopping list of reasons why you can’t cut back or stop drinking

11. Consciously try to ignore or repress positive thoughts, feelings or experiences

12. Take a stand against and actively oppose or block people, things, and situations that could help you achieve your dreams

13. Pursue or fight for opportunities that don’t excite you

14. Other

 

Or do you:

1. Know what you want in your heart, and take steps, even small steps to make your dreams a reality

2. Feed your thoughts, and nourish your dreams with love, faith, and clarity

3. Answer the call for change by saying ‘yes’ to opportunities and following through

4. Act, despite uncertainty, and trust that when you do what you love all else will follow

5. Believe and tap into spiritual supply and providence to manifest your desires

6. Want to make yourself proud and live your best life

7. Proactively exercise good self-care and maintain a healthy balance

8. Regularly do what energizes you

9. Whip laziness into shape by taking inspired action

10. Work with a sense of urgency, knowing if not now, when?

11. Do what you love

12. Surround yourself with a vibe-tribe who inspire and support you

13. Pursue or fight for opportunities that do excite you

14. Other

 

Your answers to the above will help boost the necessary self-awareness to embrace positive change and design a plan of inspired action.

 

Overcoming Resistance

To find success the following things are important:

• An overriding sense of your purpose for being here—your authentic calling

• A vision and an idea of the right direction for your work and life

• Consistent action and continually taking steps, i.e. doing what lies before you today, tomorrow, next week…

• A willingness to show up every day with your gifts and talents, often in the face of fear and resistance

 

Begin with The End in Mind

A very powerful strategy to overcome resistance is to begin with the end in mind. Tap into the power of your heart, see your end goal as already accomplished. Allow your body to feel the exact feelings you sense you’ll feel when you have achieved your end goal. They may be, love, excitement, joy, satisfaction, or pride.

Draw a timeline. Mark on it the year and date when you would like your business to go live. Feel that goal as already achieved. Then look along that timeline and note all the steps and things you did to achieve your end goal. Note these on your timeline.

A timeline helps you see and feel the end result before you begin. It’s a powerful and simple way to free up any perceived or real fears and blockages.

I like to think of all my goals as projects including sobriety. And I always like to visualize what it will feel like when I’ve actually finished a project. I don’t want to wait until the project is finished. I want that feeling of achievement and excitement now! I’m also rewarded with a big juicy dopamine hit!

 

Building the Home of Your Dreams

I applied this strategy when I visualized building a house on the back of my old villa in Wellington many years ago. At the time, everyone thought achieving my desire was an impossible dream. Even I knew it was audacious—I was a single working mother with no savings.

But I didn’t let that stop me from throwing my energy into seeing the house built. To feed my desire and overcome resistance I imagined how beautiful my home could be. I felt the evening sun on my face.

I heard the birdsong in the trees. I saw every aspect of what I wanted—the colors, the expanses of glass. I felt the lovely stone bench tops. I tasted the meals I would cook for friends. I fed my motivation to actually build a house from scratch.

To feed my desire, generate ideas, increase clarity and fuel a sense of possibility I created image boards and gathered clippings of what I wanted to manifest.

I also broke the project into manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and also to counteract my fears around cost escalations. I sourced my team—builders, architects, and other pros. In short, I began with the end in mind and broke the project into manageable steps and drew up a project plan.

Don’t get me wrong—I am no passionate planner. I am naturally organic and spontaneous. But when the need and the desires arise we are all capable of mastering the skills we need. But first I worked to my preferences and strengths and began creatively.

I like creating projects because they make things seem more manageable. They usually have beginnings and endings, and often tangible concrete results.

Some of my projects have included things like publishing books, building websites, beginning a blog, creating companies and personal brands, generating products, and services, and customers.

As you start to surround yourself with tangible evidence of possibilities and to chart your progress, inspiration, desire, and love build. Suddenly your dreams are no longer dreams but living realities.

Be sure to include completion deadlines—these can flex if need be, but have a date to work towards. Reward yourself each time you complete a milestone; much like builders do when they have the roof shout.

Share your completion deadlines with a supportive cheerleader or nag buddy. This is the reason so many entrepreneurs use business coaches and mentors. Being accountable is motivating.

Unless you start taking action toward sobriety now, unless you’re closer to achieving it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow, your resistance will bury you.

Khalil Gibran said this poignantly when he wrote: “Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning to the funeral.”

Cast off from those safe, but dull shores. Break free of the comfort rut and embrace the most comfortable feeling of all. Being sober! You’ll discover your authentic self and your heart’s desire.

 

What Makes You Happy? Do it!

Revisit your goals and intentions and remind yourself why achieving them is important to you. Revisit your Sobriety Journal and add more inspiration to feed your heart and fuel your dreams.

Crack on and do what it takes to whip resistance into shape. Do more of what makes you happy and less of what no longer fills you with feelings of love. Do this with a sense of urgency before it is too late. Trick yourself if need be by imagining you’ve been told you only have a year to live. Be life—don’t just dream it!

“I am a writer,” proclaims Elisabeth Gilbert, the best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, in her book, Big Magic. “This proclamation of intent and entitlement is not something you can do just once and then expect miracles; it’s something you must do daily, forever.

“I’ve had to keep defining and defending myself as a writer every single day of my adult life—constantly reminding and re-reminding my soul and the cosmos that I’m very serious about the business of creative living, and that I will never stop creating, no matter what the outcome, and no matter how deep my anxieties and insecurities may be.”

 

Wage War on Resistance

I never met Anthony Bourdain, but his death shocked me. It shocks me still. As does the death of Amy Winehouse and other great artists and people who made the world a better place with their devotion to their craft.  I wonder, did Bourdain and Amy harbor death wishes. Did they really want to die?

In Bourdain’s case, John E. Richters, Ph.D. wrote an article entitled, “Anthony Bourdain’s long-burning suicidal wick— in his own words.” In his article, Richters summarises numerous instances where Bourdain referred to hanging himself. Heart-wrenchingly this is exactly the way he ended his life.

“As Bourdain continued to struggle publically with his demons over the years,” writes Richters, “he also became increasingly comfortable with the idea of suicide as a potential exit strategy. He became particularly comfortable with the idea of hanging himself as an option and was especially drawn to the idea of hanging himself in the shower. Sufficiently comfortable that he referred casually and explicitly to killing himself in this way throughout his professional career. Not occasionally, but frequently. A cursory review of his public statements over the years reveals 19 separate occasions— in writing, during interviews, and on camera—on which he refers to suicide by hanging. On the vast majority of these occasions he refers explicitly to hanging himself in the shower, on 1 occasion more specifically to hanging himself in the shower of his hotel room, and on 1 occasion even more specifically to hanging himself in the shower stall of his lonely hotel room.”

Bourdain was very transparent about his battles with addiction. It remains unclear if he had been drinking the night he ended his life, but what is clear is that he had embraced a comfort rut of the worst kind—becoming comfortable with suicide as an exit strategy.

A great many people have contemplated suicide.I have. Many people close to me have. Tragically, some have succeeded. Most often suicidal thoughts and intentions occur during or following periods of extreme stress. Everything seems out of balance. It’s easy to give into despair. Easy to try and kill our pain by anesthetizing with alcohol or drugs to try and numb the unbearable hurt. But this numbing only serves to silence our will to live, to block out our faith and hope that we can get through the worst of times, and the belief that tomorrow will be a better day.

 No one is immune to suicide. Even Bourdain’s mother said her son was the last person she thought would commit suicide.

According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, Deputy Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “depression is not a condition that’s related to success or failure.” Depression is not a disease. It’s a feeling. A very heavy feeling that is sometimes hard to shift. But shift it does. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes it seems to last forever. But there is always, always a cure.

People like me, and those I know who have contemplated suicide, have found the will to live or reached out for support, or by some divine stroke of lucky intervention have been saved, have found purpose and sometimes joy, despite our wounds. In my case, as perhaps it was Bourdain’s (and certainly was Amy Winehouse’s) a relationship meltdown, accompanied by far too much alcohol, was the catalyst that led me to contemplate ending my life. 

No relationship is worth ending your life for. None. Bouncing back from destructive relationships brings with it much-needed healing. Reach out for support, you can and will find love again.

Boost your immunity—wage war on the resistance to live another day.  Commit to your soul’s evolution. Accept yourself as you are, the good and what you may perceive, or what others may tell you, are the not so good parts.

Bourdain, for example, was told that he was a narcissist. He later referred to himself as one, and said that nothing could be down. He wore his label with guilt and shame, yet what if he’d embraced that part of him, made friends with it, accepted it—or shunned it as just not true? Would he still be walking amongst us, delighting us with his journeys into “Parts Unknown,”  uniting cultures through food? Instead, depression claimed another beautiful soul.

Depression is often your spirit’s way of telling you something needs to change. That there is something within you that needs to grow. To grow you may need to let somethings, or some people, go. The more you resist, the more you try and mask the symptoms, the more prolonged your pain. Popping pills, or downing more jugs of booze, may often short-term respite, but never a long-term cure.

“Consider this single fact: According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, 11% of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs! And 1 in 4 women in their 40 and 50s are also on antidepressant medication. If you don’t believe this doesn’t indicate deep societal problems, you’d better start smoking marijuana. We are a mentally sick pill-infected nation,” writes Dr. W. Gifford-Jones, in an article about Anthony Bourdain’s death, ‘Why did Anthony Bourdain commit suicide?’

“It’s also ironic that antidepressant side-effects have been linked to sleep disturbance, brain damage and suicide. The other irony is that there is little evidence they benefit patients suffering from mild to moderate depression. And that in 80% of cases, they work no better than a placebo sugar pill,” says Gifford-Jones.

Could medical treatment have saved Bourdain’s life?

“Maybe,” says Gifford-Jones, “but I doubt it. If this were possible, Ernest Hemingway, a famous author, and Philip Graham, owner of the Washington Post newspaper, both treated at a famous clinic, would still be alive. Great wealth and expensive care cannot heal a brain that’s dedicated to eventual self-destruction.” 

That doesn’t mean we should ever give up hope. We can dedicate our lives to self-preservation, and there are a great many interventions, many holistic, some of which I have shared above that can re-engineer our brains, breathe life into our battle-weary hearts, and rejuvenate our souls. The most important thing is to fire up your warrior spirit and battle those demons that drive you to despair.

And while you’re at it, lay off the booze. As I’ve already discussed, alcohol abuse and excessive drinking is a major cause of anxiety and depression, impairs mental reasoning and critical thinking—increasing the likelihood of making tragic and often impulsive choices. The risk of suicide increases for many people who turn to drink.

 

 

If a person claims to be a burden, talks about suicide, has increased anxiety, increased alcohol or drug use, sleeps too much, expresses hopelessness, or withdraws from activities, suicidal thoughts should be suspected.  Take it seriously and encourage them to seek help.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Below are some support services in New Zealand.

Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz

0800 WHATSUP children’s helpline – phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day.

Kidsline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Help (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation‘s free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).

 

To learn more about my wellness-therapies, including how QTC can help you achieve rapid, lasting, transformational change click here >>

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

Or direct from the author  http://www.cassandragaisford.com/product/mind-your-drink-the-surprising-joy-of-sobriety

 

NOTES:

You can read John E. Richters article about Anthony Bourdain here https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c25xJS6S-XvS8CXagIeQsg5D755vaWoW/view

 

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones’s article can be read in full here: https://torontosun.com/life/relationships/why-did-anthony-bourdain-commit-suicide

Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

 

Prompted by many of my clients who struggle with ageism and also mindset issues re their employability and who are struggling to find a job, I’ve written a new book in my best-selling  Mid-Life Career Rescue series: “Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies That Work”

In fact, just today I was coaching a client who confided, “I’ve been frightened and keep telling myself not to bother looking because employers want someone younger.”

True-Not-True! Yes, ageism exists, but enlightened employers know the value a mature worker brings to the job. Do you? Do you know how to find the jobs that are never advertised? Do you know how to help hiring managers say “yes! You’re hired!”

Successfully finding a job takes skill and confidence, but once you know the rules, you’ll feel more confident, more successful and a whole lot happier.

To increase your chances of getting the job you really want, this book will help you:

•Beat “age bias”

•Increase your awareness of the importance of self-marketing

•Highlight the appropriate attitudes, styles, and behaviors that you need to market your skills successfully

•Prepare you to use a variety of job search strategies, including Using recruitment agencies effectively; Responding to direct advertising, including newspaper and Internet mediums; Outline the steps to successful networking; Provide strategies that will help maintain a positive outlook

•Accelerate your job hunting success

Some people find job hunting very challenging. Perhaps years of conditioning that you should be seen and not heard, acute shyness or lack of practice and experience in the art of self-promotion may be affecting you.

 

In Mid-Life Career Rescue Job Search Strategies That Work you will also discover how to:

•Harness the law of attraction by focusing on areas of passion and purpose

•Tap into the hidden job market

•Let people know what you have to offer confidently

•Overcome stress and doubt

•Boost confidence, courage, and self-esteem

•Help you find and get the job or career you want

Whether you love the idea of the 4-hour workweek, want to find a job that reflects who you are and what’s important to you, or thinking about starting a business, career change after 50 and finding a new job can be yours.

As Richard N Bolles, author of ‘What Colour Is Your Parachute‘, once said to me, “sometimes all it takes is one book, one sentence to transform your life.”

Quit feeling trapped. Reclaim your power! Find a job you love and finally live the life you want. Scroll up and click “Buy Now” before it’s too late.

Available for immediate download for less than the price of a cup of coffee here>>getbook.at/JobSearchStrategies

 

I’m thrilled with this early review from an industry expert

Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies that Work

I was curious about the content of this book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies that Work, as I have worked as a careers professional for almost 20 years and with a few variations on job search strategies over the years, my practice and coaching in this area of career coaching has remained largely the same. I wondered if the ideas, the suggestions, exercises and the theories that support these that I learned all those years ago still held true. Did my ideas that I encourage my clients to undertake, still work, were they still in vogue even? Did my ideas need a complete overhaul? I looked to this book in the hope that it would help me face today’s practises and update my own knowledge. So, with my curiosity in full openness, I began to read.

First I was struck by the relevance of my knowledge to what Cassandra was suggesting in 2018. What I have been coaching my clients to do while exploring their own job search journey were still very useful.Second I was encouraged and even felt embraced by the strategies suggested in Cassandra’s book for my own professional re-development process that I am undertaking. Everything I am quietly doing to re-define my working and private life is here in black and white and gloriously celebrated as the way forward.

Never before have I felt so on-track with a major life change as I do right now. I tick off my own strategies as they appear on the pages of Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies that Work. From Dream and Explore to Developing visual plans in a Passion Journal to the exercises relating to Generating Idea’s – I am totally on track.

However, there is room for more ideas and Cloning was one I hadn’t thought off.I hadn’t ever offered that idea to my clients. So over the past few days with a careers client booked in, I decided to test this out. My client’s response, to begin with, was very hesitant, but with gentle encouragement to tap into her more creative and playful self, we had a great time coming up with, at first outrageous, clones for her. Then as the energy settled, she developed ideas for her 5 clones which gave her major leads on strands she could develop and even whole new ways of working. My client now has very solid career options to explore in future career coaching sessions because of this Cloning exercise.

As for me, I am balancing my excessive excited energy in re-creating my work-life balance by regular daily meditation, sitting in stillness, and daily yoga. Cassandra has beautiful ideas, encouraging real-life stories, and powerful and yet very accessible exercises to offer anyone who is either embarking on a job search journey or for anyone already on the journey but looking for further strategies to add new energy to their journey. Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies that Work is a book for job seekers and career professionals alike.

~ Catherine Sloan, Counselor

 

EXCERPT

Networking: Discovering the Hidden Job Market

About 80% of all the positions available at any time are NEVER going to be advertised by Recruitment Consultants or directly by companies looking to employ someone.

By far the most successful job search technique is the process of networking—using personal contacts to uncover the “hidden” job market.

Largely this technique is so successful because organizations also use their networks to find employees when vacancies occur. Advertising is often a last resort, partly because of the time taken to screen applicants, but also because of the additional financial costs.

 

What is Networking?

When you need a builder what do you do?  You ask a friend or an acquaintance if they know of anyone who’s good.   That’s networking!  We do it all the time; we just don’t “label” it. Trust or lack of it is a key reason we don’t rely on advertisements or the Yellow Pages.  There are a lot of phoneys and crooks out there.

Networking is the process of accessing personal contacts via word of mouth to achieve a particular purpose. For the job seeker, this purpose is to tap into the hidden job market. For the employer the purpose of networking is to find out if anybody knows of anyone that’s a) good and b) available.

In its simplest form networking is often called “keeping an ear to the ground”. Networking in the real world is nothing more than overcoming the fears of making contact with others.  It’s simply talk.

But it only happens through an orchestrated effort. You have to seek people out, get them to agree to meet with you, discuss your career aspirations and ask for more contacts. This is hard enough for some people to do face to face.

For so many that are new to Internet job seeking, it is nigh on impossible to do online.  Or so it would seem.

But a growing category of connecting tools are emerging online that will make job seeking-through-networking (or, Internetworking) not only easier—but essential in the years ahead.

REMEMBER, WORD OF MOUTH ADVERTISING IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE  MARKETING TOOLS!

 

If Networking Is So Effective why Don’t the Majority of Job-Seekers do it?

FEAR!  One of the most common reasons people don’t network is because of fear of rejection or fear that others will think they are begging for a job.  Lack of confidence and assertiveness are often other factors. Laziness can also sneak in– job hunting is hard work!

It is for these and other reasons that most job hunters prefer to use the more passive job search strategies such as:

• Looking in the newspaper, or on the Internet

• Registering their CV’s online

• Approaching recruitment agencies

These strategies are passive because the job seeker is not taking control and out there actively hunting for a job.  Instead, they are passively waiting for a job to come to them.

The Rule of Thumb is: DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET!  Employing a variety of job search strategies is the key to success.  If you rely on only the passive strategies you are missing out on 80% of the roles which either exist or which could be created for you.

 

Networking for Non-Networkers: A Guide to Feeling The Fear and Doing It Anyway!

Completing the following exercises will help equip you with the know-how to network effectively.

Remember this is the “active job-search strategy”—it does take energy and perseverance but the rewards are huge… finding the work you love, loving the work you found!

 

Call to Action! Prepare to Network Effectively

Some people have a negative mindset when it comes to networking. They think if they contact people they know that these people might think they are begging or hassling them.

Use your own words to describe the term “networking.” Think about the benefits to the other person. Things like saving them the hassle of advertising for candidates if you happen to be a good fit for who they are looking for.

List some of the skills and personal attributes that are required to network effectively, eg research, persuasion, optimism, perseverance, confidence.

What skills and attributes do you already possess?

What skills and attributes will you need to develop?

Prioritize in order of importance. List some ways that you can develop and nurture the areas that are more challenging for you, eg  affirmations, mentors, supportive friends, visualization, and self-help books.

 

The Aim of the Networking Meeting

Just like a fishing net, the aim of networking is to “catch” as much as possible. However, rather than fish, what the active job hunter seeks to gather is as many actual, or possible, job leads as possible.

The aim of the networking meeting is also predominantly about exploring information and gathering market research.  This shift in focus from “give me a job” to “I’m interested in finding out about…” should help to minimize the fear of rejection and to take some of the pressure off all parties.

Remember: just as you don’t like to be rejected, employers don’t like rejecting you!  The key things you are interested in “finding out” are:

• Whether your abilities, skills, and background match the employment needs in that business, industry or organization.

• If so, whether any employment opportunities either currently exist, or are likely to in the future

• If not, whether the person you have initially contacted knows of people within their own network that may benefit from your skill-set and experience. Just like the Internet or World Wide Web – the objective of the active job hunter is covering as much distance as possible in the most effective way. Leveraging off the networks of other people is one of the most effective and efficient ways to do this.

You may strike the jackpot and get a job, but if you don’t, remember:

• Timing is everything

• Your aim is to generate at least two additional leads from each visit, email, or phone call you make.

Identifying Your Network

This diagram below can be very useful in identifying the groups of people that you know.  It is by no means exhaustive!

(And you thought you didn’t have anyone to network with!)

 

Call to Action: Getting Ready to Chat!

From the networking diagram, including any other potential contacts you have added, identify and prioritize five people you could approach and arrange an appointment to see:

 

HOT TIP!

You may wish to set networking goals for yourself to help keep you motivated—for example, 10 networking phone calls per week, resulting in 5 networking visits per week. Don’t forget to include a reward for yourself when you successfully reach your goal.

 

Preparing for Success

Before you make your network approach you should:

Research the company and its senior people.  Some of the things you need to be aware of and may need to be able to talk about include:

• Industry issues

• Organization structure

• Company products and services

• Industry and company profitability

• Competitors

Remember:  people like talking about their jobs and if your interest is based on soundly researched information you are providing yourself with an instant hook to gain their interest.

 

Cold Calls Versus Warm Calls

When deciding on your list of contacts to call remember to distinguish between “cold” contacts and those which are “warm” or “hot”.

Cold contacts are those you have never met, nor know of no one who can introduce you. After moving cities recently I approached the local health board to inquire about their services and to see if they may need mine as a holistic psychologist. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. Despite my spontaneous meeting and arriving unannounced the timing was perfect. They told me they were very short-staffed and my skills and experience appeared to be just what they needed. It’s the old adage—if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Warm contacts are those who someone you know personally knows the person you wish to contact. In this case, your friend, for example, may be able to refer you or at least allow you to mention their name. This gets the relationship off to a warmer start than if you tried to establish contact with no prior “history’ or connection

Hot Contacts are those who you know personally. For example, I know the owner of our local bookstore. Recently he advertised for casual staff. Had I been interested in the role (I love books!) I would stand a ‘hotter’ chance of nabbing that job than someone ‘cold’ who walked off the street.

Remember – even the best salespeople hate cold calling, mainly because the likelihood of “rejection” is increased ten-fold.  Where ever possible leverage off existing relationships!

 

Making a Telephone Approach

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!  Every aspect of the job hunt process is about preparation – from writing your resume or CV, to preparing answers to questions that may be asked in an interview. Networking is no different especially when it comes time to pick up the phone and make that call.

You should have an outline script and responses to the most common objections prepared in advance.  Remember that most people respond to appeals for help, so your call should use the phrase “help me” as often as possible.

You may wish to use the script which follows as a guide.  It includes ways to respond to common objections.

It is important to remember that it is not so much what you say but how you say it that carries the most weight.  Smile as you speak and, if possible, to stand—these both help you to sound more confident.

 

Example Script:

CONTACT: “Mary McCrae speaking”

YOU: “Hello Mary, my name is John Farr.  I believe that you are the best person to help me.  Jake Evans from XYZ suggested that I give you a call.  I am looking at the career prospects in the Communications/PR industry and Jake suggested that you are the best person to help me.”

I wondered if I could talk to you about your industry before I make a move and would appreciate 15 minutes of your time.”

What follows are sample responses to possible objections:

CONTACT: “I’m not sure I’m the right person.”

YOU: “Jake spoke very highly of you and thought you would be the best person for me to talk to.  I’d be really grateful for your advice – if you could spare 15 minutes.”

CONTACT:“We’re not looking for anybody right now.”

YOU: “I understand.  Of course, I would like to get work inside the Industry, but not right now.  At present, I’m looking at opportunities in various areas and I need someone who could help me to find out more about your industry.  Could we get together this week or next week?”

CONTACT: “I’m very busy right now.”

YOU: “I appreciate that you’re busy but I’d be really grateful for 15 minutes of your time. Perhaps I could buy you a coffee as a sign of my appreciation for giving up some of your time to help me.”

CONTACT:“OK, next week then.”

YOU: “Thank you.  I really do appreciate it.  Which day would suit you best and would you prefer morning or afternoon?”

(Always go for non-core hours with late afternoon the best.  Always offer to leave at the end of 15 minutes – most likely your offer will be refused in which case the obligation to close the meeting passes from you to the contact.)

The above example may seem repetitive and it is.  It is important that you are persistent and don’t lose sight of your goal – to meet with the person face-to-face.

You are unlikely to encounter all the objections listed, although you may get others.

 

Call to Action! Overcoming Possible Objections

Either list three of your most “feared” responses or those objections that you think or feel you are most likely to encounter.

The techniques for overcoming objections used in the example above were: Acknowledge the objection

• Restate your objective

• Use the “15 minute of your time” technique

• Offer alternative time/dates and always leave it up to the contact to decide which option suits them best

Refer back to the objections you highlighted and prepare some responses using the technique above.  Record your answers. (If you couldn’t think of any “objections” ask your friends etc for their input).

 

Questions to Ask When Networking and/or Breaking into a New Industry

Listed below are some typical and effective questions people use when networking or “interviewing for information”. You may wish to adapt the ones below or to completely make up your own ones.  It is helpful to practise asking these questions out loud until you feel comfortable asking them.

How did you get into XXX, eg Public Relations/ HR, etc?

(People love to talk about themselves, and it’s flattering to think someone is interested in what we do and how we got to where we are.  This a great way to help build rapport and begin a relationship)

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?

What do you see as the top 5 skills necessary to be effective now and in the future?

(This is a good question to check whether the skills you have now are valuable/marketable and to affirm areas you may need to develop in order to be successful)

What makes a successful (Public Relations/ HR, etc.) person?

What skills, attributes etc. do you look for in people you hire?

Why don’t some people make it in this industry?

(This is a good way of finding out potential pitfalls and how you may highlight your strengths in areas where others may be weak)

What are the values of this organization?

What makes this a great place to work? What attracted you here?

What keeps you here?

(All the above questions are designed to find out the pros and cons of working within the specific organization you have targeted.  Answers will confirm  areas of “fit”).

What issues is your organization likely to face over the next couple of years?

(A good question to identify future skills needs and also to convey interest and enthusiasm in the organization’s future.  Helps to convey less of “What can you do for me?” and more of “What can I do for you?”)

 

Closing Questions

Remember, the initial purposes of your meeting were to:

• Find out information

• See if there are any employment opportunities currently or in the near future

• Generate at least two additional leads

If you have established good rapport and built a good relationship with the person you have just been “interviewing” they will be only too happy to refer you to other contacts they may have.  Remember this is how networking works and why it is so effective. You‘d do the same, wouldn’t you?

Most people hesitate when it comes to asking the sorts of questions below.  Fear of “rejection” is a common reason why.  Remember if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Besides most employers would be surprised, if not astounded, that you didn’t ask—nine times out of 10 they will be expecting it.

If you are still reluctant, you may like to think of a reward that you can give yourself when you “feel the fear” and do it anyway.  Purchasing a new music album or item of clothing is a good reward.  Each time you hear or wear it will remind yourself of the new, “courageous” you.

 

Some Closing Questions

Do you have any openings now? If the answer is NO: Is this likely to change in the future?

Do you know of anyone else in the industry/this organization that it may be useful for me to talk to? OR

Do you know of anyone else in the industry/ organization who may be looking for someone with my experience?

 

Ending on a Positive Note

You‘ve heard that first impressions count—well so do last impressions!  Be sure to leave on a positive, enthusiastic and grateful note.

You may like to conclude by using the example below or adapting your own:

“I really appreciate all the time you have given up to meet with me. I really like what I have heard.  This sounds like a fantastic place to work/ like a fantastic role/career path.  You must feel very lucky.  Thanks again—I’ve gained a lot.”

Key points to remember are:

• Thank the person you have met

Their time is valuable to them and there were probably half a dozen things they should have, or could have, been doing.  People like to be appreciated.

• Convey that you have really benefited from your meeting with them

People like to feel that what they do makes a difference.  Tell them what you have learned or gained as a result of their input. Your feedback to them is invaluable.

• Show your enthusiasm

The worse you can do is to leave the meeting looking unmotivated.  Even if the meeting hasn’t yielded the results you hoped for, remember the person you have just met may be your best advocate – advertising you by word of mouth to his/her own personal networks.

Follow Up

Out of sight does not necessarily have to be out of mind.  Even well-intentioned people forget – your job is to remind people that you exist.

Follow up one week after your initial meeting or phone conversation.  Include a copy of your Resume or CV, if you had not already left this behind, and a thank you note.

The thank you note should include the following details:

• Confirm the date and time of the meeting

• Highlight key knowledge and insights you gained

• Bullet point how your skills and experiences fit the organizations current and future needs

• A “thank you” statement for the initial meeting and your interest in any opportunities that arise

When to Leave Your CV or Resume

Always have your CV with you in case an employer should ask to have a copy.  It is also a useful “talking” document—while you are in your meeting you can point to your skills and experiences and talk about them in more specific detail than you may otherwise be able to.

The benefit of NOT leaving a CV at the first meeting is that you can further tailor it as a result of the new knowledge you gained. It also takes away the pressure you might feel about seeming like you are “begging for a job”.  We know you are not a beggar. You are an enquirer and an investigator—enquiring as to whether there are any employment opportunities and investigating what other opportunities might exist.

 

REMEMBER: 

Everything that occurs in life is always a matter of timing.  Be patient and have faith that when the timing and the situation is right the opportunity will appear.

Perseverance and maintaining a positive expectation is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people.

 

 

 

This is a review and edited extract from Mid-Life Career Rescue: Job Search Strategies that Work: How to Confidently Leave a Job You Hate and Start Living a Life You Love, Before It’s Too Late by Cassandra Gaisford. Available in paperback or for immediate download for less than the price of a cup of coffee here>>getbook.at/JobSearchStrategies

True Stories: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

 

“Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could make changes to the life of others.”

 

Giving up alcohol is a heroic journey—it’s not easy and it’s not a quick-fix, but inevitably there is a happy ending and you are rewarded with a life more beautiful. The journey to sobriety very often takes extreme courage, tenacity, and resilience in the face of obstacles, setbacks and, occasionally, defeat.

Alcohol addiction remains a hidden and stigmatic problem marked by denial and fear.  There are millions suffering alone, afraid to ask the question, ‘am I drinking too much?’ Reading and hearing about others who felt similarly and share their stories of triumphing over addiction is inspirational and transformational. I know this personally and professionally.

I honor and give thanks to Justin Raj for being willing to share his hero’s journey (I use this term in a gender-neutral way). The word “hero” comes from a Greek root that means to protect and serve. The hero is connected with self-sacrifice. He or she is the person who transcends the ego and incorporates all the separate parts of themselves to become a true Self.

I asked Justin that as he responded to the questions he may like to recall the details of his journey from alcohol to sobriety as though his journey was a movie, recalling all the aspects that had the greatest impact and both his decision and his success in controlling alcohol. I have structured the questions I asked Justin by drawing on Christopher Vogler’s Story Structure.

“The reader is usually invited to identify with the hero”, says Vogler. “You admire the hero’s qualities and want to be like him or her, but the hero also has flaws. Weaknesses, quirks, and vices make a hero more appealing” – again, I honor Justin for not sanctioning his responses. He has been brutally honest, shared from this heart, and spoken the truth in the heartfelt desire that those who read his story may be emboldened and inspired to join him in joyful sobriety.

 

Q. You recently gave up alcohol. What was your life like when you were drinking? What, if any problems, or issues did you face?

 

I started drinking at the age of 18, I still remember clearly the day I experimented with alcohol.

It was during a Christmas party at my home. I took some brandy from the bottle from which my dad was drinking. I felt dizzy after two drinks and I puked. Next day I woke up with a headache and I was not well for two days.

During my days of higher studies, I started drinking with friends and it became a norm to celebrate with drinks.

It was when I started my own business in 2011 that I realized that my drinking was affecting my business and life. In 2014 my business failed terribly.

I joined an Alcohol Anonymous group in my hometown. I thought AA could help me quit drinking. But, AA here is filled with spirituality, prayers, boring lectures and public confessions. I quit the group after two months and continued with drinking.

When I was drinking, I was failing at any endeavor I undertook. The only thing I thought about was getting drunk and having fun. I even thought of making money just to have drinks. I was penalized for drunken driving several times, ended up in a number of illicit sexual relationships and also involved in a fist fight with strangers and friends in a bar.

 

Q: What was the catalyst for change?

The catalyst happened on the night of 24th February 2018. I had a road accident in which I hit an elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. My left forearm was broken and dislocated. I had to undergo a surgery. My family and friends came to know that I was drunk when I had the accident.

Even after the accident and surgery, I continued drinking regularly. I visited a nearby bar with my broken hand resting in an arm-sling. After observing this addictive behavior of mine, my family took my drinking seriously.

One of my cousins who is a psychiatrist-counselor recommended me to attend a counseling session with a friend of hers. It was after the counseling session that I decided to quit.

 

Q: Was there ever a point when you knew you needed to stop drinking but refused ‘the call’ or had second thoughts about giving up? What obstacles did you face in order to stay firm in your decision?

 

Yes, whenever I decide to quit alcohol, I had second thoughts: ‘why should I?’ Alcohol is the only answer I have to escape from my boredom, to have fun and pass my free time. I didn’t know anything other than drinking alcohol to engage myself with. To me, peer pressure was less. I don’t have any friends who compelled me to drink. I can’t blame anyone other than myself.

 

Q: What sources of aid did you receive to continue on the path to sobriety? i.e. Did anyone appear to help you? A mentor, friend, adviser, support group etc.

 

Counseling sessions were great. It was those three days of counseling, that changed my attitude towards drinking. Then the books the counselor recommended. One of the books was yours, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Your Beautiful Mind happened to be the first book in my life I read on alcoholism. It was a well written, informative and inspiring book.

I spent three weeks after the counseling sessions to read books on alcoholism. Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power. My family and friends also gave great support. Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could help make changes in the lives of others.

 

Q: At what point did you truly commit to giving up drinking and follow with action? Describe the point when you crossed the threshold.

 

It was the road accident, counseling sessions, reading books on alcoholism and knowing more about the menace of alcohol, that motivated me to strongly decided to quit alcohol for life.

 

Q: Once you gave up drinking did you face, or were you confronted with, any difficult challenges (ranging from minor struggles to setbacks) that threatened your resolve and may have defeated a lesser person. What tests did you face, what allies did you meet?

The only enemy I have to face was myself. As I said earlier, none of my friends compelled me to drink ever in my life. It was my decision to start drinking and it is the addictive nature of alcohol which kept me hooked. Today, I’m getting great support from my family and friends. The happiness my mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends experience after I embraced sobriety is priceless.

It has been two months. I have been sober and I will remain so for the rest of my life.

 

Q: Did you emerge wiser from these trials? In what way did these tests help you prepare for the ultimate test—unwavering sobriety. Looking back now, what advice or warning would you give to others about what could go wrong, and possibly derail their decision to give up drinking?

Our life is a great teacher. Out of my drunkenness and reckless riding, I hit an innocent, elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. He was 73 years old. Still today, I can’t recollect how I hit him or what happened that night. If that elderly person was dead, I would have ended up in jail. To me, thinking about that incident is still scary.

Alcohol is a legally available addictive substance. People cant stop drinking because they are hooked by its addictive nature and nothing else. People think drinking is fun. Even I thought so till a few months ago. But the truth is, I still can’t remember the fun I had while I was drinking.

It is saddening that our society and media is all praise for drinking and smoking just trapping youngsters into the mindset that drinking and smoking are essential for a fun-filled life.

Life is more beautiful if you take away alcohol from it. We can have everlasting, memorable fun and experiences without the influence of alcohol. My advice is don’t try alcohol if you haven’t already and quit it if you are using it.

 

Q: What were your deepest fears during this time? Some people describe this as a battle with “the dark villain” – an inner battle whereby they faced and overcame their own demon and inner fears. Was this your experience? In what way?

The dark villain is me. I was engaged in an inner battle with my own demon. If we need to change our life, we have to take that decision by ourselves, don’t we?

Even before going to counseling I had determined with a half-heart that I had to quit drinking. My family has a background of alcohol and drug abuse. My father died from alcohol-related disease, my maternal grandfather died due to heavy drinking. My paternal grandfather was also a heavy drinker. A few of my uncles, cousins, and family friends are also suffering from alcoholism.

I started experiencing alcoholic depression for the past few years which I didn’t recognize. It was only after counseling that I realized that I was suffering from depression—not from a hangover. I have a great many reasons to quit alcohol not a single reason to continue with it.

 

Q: Describe/recount the time you truly knew you had succeeded in defeating the enemy of alcohol when you transformed into a new state of being – where fears were vanquished and the new you was born.

When you find no reason to drink alcohol, you will quit. What I thought was fun wasn’t fun anymore. When I get bored I have better things to do today other than drinking.

Why should I drink and invite trouble as well as create a deep hole in my purse, if I can do productive, enjoyable things like reading, writing, working out and talking with friends which add value to my life and myself?

We are basically our thoughts. When we change our thoughts, ultimately we change ourselves.

 

Q: What rewards did you reap—external (knowledge, a promotion, career success, improved relationships, better health etc.) and/or as an inner reward (personal growth, fulfillment, freedom, self-respect etc.)

As I said earlier, I don’t have any reason to drink. Moreover, I have more reasons not to drink. Even after two months of alcohol-free life, I can really feel the changes in myself and things I do.

First and foremost, my financial situation has improved. I spent too much money on this destructive habit of mine. I started doing things I love with more vigor and passion. I’m getting an everlasting, joyful and positive high from it. Alcohol disconnected me from my life, my business and myself. Today, I feel that connection is back. It is priceless.

 

Q: Having gained the rewards, and with nothing left to prove, how was your early experience of sobriety?

For the past four years, I was struggling with my drinking. I tried to quit in all ways I can but in vain. I couldn’t stop drinking even for a week. I never read any books like yours in those days.

Today, I feel if I had read the books I read today or attended a good counseling session, I should have got the power to quit alcohol for life earlier. And also I should have avoided all the troubles I had to overcome in those alcohol-filled days.

 

Q: Was there ever a point where you felt lulled into a false sense of security, but in reality, there was one last challenge you had to face? Perhaps the desire for alcohol was not completely vanquished or perhaps something plunged you into a temptation to drink—just when you thought it was safe to breathe easy again?

It was my lack of knowledge and the addictive nature of alcohol. You know, I quit sugar two years ago when I learned the bad effects of it on my physical and mental health. I was too much addicted to sugar from my childhood and when I learned that it was doing me harm I quit.

Why couldn’t I do it with alcohol, even though, I knew it is bad for health, mind, and my purse?

The only reason is alcohol is addictive. It is normal that we defend our addictions by stating ‘today is Saturday’ ‘my friends are here so we are going to party hard’, ‘I can stop it anytime and many more excuses. These defensive mentalities last only until the day we realize the habit we are nurturing is gradually destructing our mind, body, finances, and relationship with our loved ones. I have met with that stage of self-realization and freed myself from a self-imposed prison of my addictive behavior.

Do you think, I want to go back to the prison again? I don’t think so.

 

Describe the moment when you felt truly reborn into a new, joyous form, with your beautiful mind – able to control the desire, temptation or compulsion to drink alcohol. In what way have you been rewarded for your courageous and determined journey?

I can give full credit to the psychiatrist who counseled me. He has a decade-long experience in dealing with alcohol and drug addicts. His level of knowledge fascinated me. He made me realize that drinking alcohol, which I thought was joyful fun, is, in fact, an illusion.

The counseling sessions usually last for three days. By the second day, I learned that what I was doing is wrong and decided to quit alcohol for life. The last day of the session was just a friendly talk and he recommended a few books to read including your book.

Today, I’m not thinking the way I used to be. I have changed and I can feel that transformation. I have got myself back. My business has grown, my passions have started blooming and my financial condition has improved. Today, I started welcoming mornings without hangovers and regrets. It feels great!

The book I prefer from all those I have read since committing to sobriety is your book: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

I’m so thrilled to have been able to help! As I write this post, Justin is working on his business plan and also preparing for an entrance exam for his doctoral degree in journalism—something he doubts he’d be achieving if he was still drinking.

Below is a copy of the review Justin Raj left on Amazon.

5.0 out of 5 starsDiscovering my beautiful mind!
21 May 2018

Cassandra Gaisford’s book- Your beautiful mind – is the first book I read after completing my three-day counseling session at a major alcoholic rehabilitation center in the Indian state of Kerala. Her straightforward way of writing hooked me and motivated me to hold on to my decision to quit alcohol, strongly. She handled the menace of alcoholism from the level of basics to the level of an expert in a language even a layman can understand.

‘Your beautiful mind’ inspired me to think beyond my alcoholic lifestyle, which wasn’t possible before and helped to transform my mind completely. She motivated me to take up my passions- reading, writing, stock market analysis- as fruitful addictions rather than following self-destructive addictions like alcohol, nicotine, and drugs. Today, I can enjoy my life more and feels like I have been freed from a prison – a self-created prison of addictive behaviour. Keep inspiring and keep up your great work, Cassandra!”

 

It was lovely feedback to receive! All power to Justin… I’m so proud of him!

 

Are you struggling with alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction? Are you worried you’re drinking too much? Or are you curious about the life-changing magic of sobriety?

I hope Justin’s story of self-empowered, purpose and passion-filled sobriety provides hope, courage, and determination for you to achieve the same.

“Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power.”

 

Life really is more beautiful sober. You can learn more about Justin Raj and follow his blog here—www.justyjots.com

 

 

This is an edited testimonial for Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

You’ll also find plenty of ongoing support and cheerleading in the Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment/. Pop along and join us now.

 

The Five P’s of Life – Patience, Persistence, Perseverance, Passion, and Purpose

Monday, May 14th, 2018

The best thing I can tell you? It’s one word. Persistence.

~ James Patterson, author

 

Knowing when to quit is one thing; knowing when to persevere another. Whether it’s the weight of obstacles you face, the setbacks and the disappointments, the successes others seem to achieve more speedily, or the critical feedback from others who are impatient to see more evidence that you’ll make it—never give up. Never, never, never give up.

Many prosperous authors’ most enduring successes took years and years to achieve. Nora Roberts is probably the most successful romance novelist on the planet. Thirty-four of her titles are sold every minute and she earns an estimated $US60 million a year! But her success didn’t happen in 6 months, a year, or even three.

She started writing back in the 1980’s for Mills and Boon and then morphed into mainstream romance fiction—and other genres. So, I really shouldn’t be discouraged when the three romance novels I published this year haven’t filled my coffers with gold. Looking back, I also shouldn’t have been discouraged by the feedback that I received early in my career that “my characters were dysfunctional.” Instead of targeting Mills and Boon, the reviewer suggested that my romances seemed better suited to mainstream women’s fiction—a path Roberts also pursued.

Along with Roberts’ commitment to writing characters she can personally identify with, it is her work ethic and her prolific output that really defines her. “Whatever I’m doing, I get very guilty if I don’t put a good day’s work in. I’m not one for making excuses. I had this Catholic upbringing. I was taught to finish what you start.”

A prodigious work ethic, cultivated talent, commitment to finishing what she starts, over four different pen names, writing in a variety of genres, perseverance, and persistence are amongst the many things which have made her one of the world’s most prosperous authors.

Award-winning, perennial bestselling author Jodi Picoult is the author of over twenty books, the last five of which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Her books have been translated into thirty-four languages, and four have been made into television movies, while another, My Sister’s Keeper, was made into a film starring Cameron Diaz.

“I had over 100 rejection letters from agents. Finally, one woman who had never represented anyone in her life said she thought she could take me on. I jumped at the chance. She sold my first novel in three months,” says Picoult.

Both authors, and others like them, wouldn’t be where they are now if it weren’t for their grit, persistence, and patient perseverance.

Similarly, many other successful people across a diverse range of occupations and industries have discovered the value of patient perseverance.

In fact, the five P’s of Life – Patience, Persistence, Perseverance, Passion, and Purpose, are the foundation of many peoples success.

A failure at 65, Colonel Sanders was world-famous and wealthy at 80. His father was a miner and his mother worked in a shirt factory. Harland Sanders had to give up school in the sixth grade because he was so poor.

He eventually opened a small home-town restaurant in the Kentucky hills. All looked well until the highway was rerouted and he lost everything. He was 65 at the time and faced with a future barely surviving on social security, his motivation to try again kicked in.

“My government is going to give me a hundred and five dollars so I can eke out an existence. Surely there is something I can do for myself and other people.”

Tapping into powerfully creative questions like this unlocked the key to what would be his major success—his mother’s secret chicken recipe.

Turned down by numerous restaurants at the time he turned potential failure into another inspired idea—franchises. It was an instantaneous hit, and the rest is history!

Fifty-five-year-old Rhonda Byrne’s life was at an all-time low. Twice divorced, her father had just died and her career was in crisis.

That was until, acting on an inspired thought, she created the DVD The Secret and later produced a book, both of which went on to become some of the biggest-selling self-help resources of all time.

At the heart of Rhonda’s inspirational series of products and resources is the law of attraction.

“Everything in your life is attracted to you by what you are thinking,” Rhonda says. “You are like a human transmission tower, transmitting a frequency with your thoughts. If you want to change anything in your life, change the frequency by changing your thoughts.”

Take a leaf from Rhonda’s secret to success and change any stinkin’ thinkin’ that may be lingering. Answering the following questions may help:

1. What results are you currently experiencing that you would like to change?

2. What thoughts would you need to change?

3. What thoughts would remain the same?

4. What things supported you in maintaining a positive state of mind in the past? How could they be helpful now?

5. Can you think of some other strategies to help you keep your mind on what you want and off what you don’t want?

 

Mining for Gold

When you think of patience, perseverance, tenacity, passion, purpose, and success, who comes to mind?

Who or what can help you to manifest more persistence? How can you keep your mind on your vision, your body moving towards your dreams, your heart warmed by the joy you will feel when you finally achieve success?

Identify three ways to strengthen your persistence by strengthening your willpower and self-discipline.

 

This is an edited extract of Change Your Mindset: Millionaire Mindset Makeover by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how your thoughts affect your success habits read the book here

Amazon: viewbook.at/ChangeYourMindset

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and iBooks: books2read.com/u/bP56wz

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