On my mind

... in my brain actually. My very own brain tumour

Friday, February 22, 2008

Practical Exercises - How to balance your perspective

We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed by problems. They seem so enormous that they overshadow everything else in our lives. We dwell on them every hour of the day, they take up all our time and energy and often they immobilise us to the extent that we simply withdraw from the world and become miserable, ineffective, unhappy people. Of course, we can't avoid problems. Pretending that they don't exist is not realistic. But it is always important to try to get a sensibly balanced picture of our own place in the bigger scheme of things and to see our problems in that light too.

Have a look at the graphics below. They should help you to get your mind balanced.

We live on one of the smaller planets in the solar system:

If you look at the larger planets, the Earth starts looking rather small . . .

Bringing the Sun into the picture gives us a further jolt when we see that the Earth is now like a full stop on this page. And that is where we live with all our problems.

Our sun is rather a small star in comparison to others close to us

Antares is the 15th brightest star in the sky and is more than 1,000 light years away. Put youself in the picture if you can.

Now see if you can get your mind around this picture taken by the Hubble telescope in ultra deep field infrared view. It shows countless entire galaxies, each at least the size of our Milky Way wherever you look. They are billions of light years away.

And this is a close-up of one of the darkest areas of the picture above, showing still more galaxies where you only saw black in the picutre above.
Yes, you are still important, and you do have problems, but see them in perspective!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to reconstruct your unhelpful beliefs

Introduction and general summary

After 62 years of unsuccessfully trying to eliminate my ongoing depression, fear of failure, and other problems, I have now miraculously found the answer. Elsewhere in this blog, I describe how successful I have been at completely restructuring my beliefs after being shocked into action by the discovery of my brain tumour. I hope you will understand that I am very excited about this. I now want to pass on the very simple method that I have used. It has been spectacularly successful in transforming me from a grumpy, negative, depressed person into a joyful, normal person who is in touch with reality. If this helps just one person out there in the world, I will be delighted. So here goes . . .

Our brains are amazing organs. They help us construct a representation of reality, using about 100 billion (yes, Billion, not million) nerve cells, each connected to many others in a network so complex that it is almost incomprehensible. The brain is organized into a number of modules that perform different functional tasks which help us survive and compete in the world. The structures that create the representation of reality can be thought of as virtual reality software. This is very powerful software indeed. Some people say there is no reality, only perception. I agree with this, and so do many leading brain physiologists who have studied the brain with imaging techniques to visualize what actually happens when it is at work.

Think about it: Information about the world we live in is detected by our sense organs - eyes, ears, nose, taste, skin etc - and then converted into electro-chemical signals that travel along nerves into the brain. The information that is detected by our sense organs may be in the form of electromagnetic radiation (eyes), air pressure waves (ears), pressure (skin) and Chemical compounds (taste and smell). So the original stimuli are converted into coded electrical currents and sent to the brain in this coded form. These electrical currents are then processed by the brain in order to build up a representation of reality. This is not simply my idea of what is happening. It is accepted and observable. It is this representation of reality (a theatre of the mind) that we experience as our own reality. It feels very real indeed to us, but it is a representation only.

Here is the amazing part. The brain also constructs special filtering mechanisms called beliefs that colour our unique experience of reality in order to make it specially relevant to each of us as individuals. What is more, these beliefs are, by default, constructed automatically, without our conscious intervention. The virtual reality software of our brain is so amazing that it gets things right most of the time using the automatic option. For example, when children are very young, they are programmed to accept as true just about anything their parents tell them. This works well if the parents are sensible and in touch with reality. If you say often enough that the moon is made of cheese, it will be accepted until it is seriously challenged. If you promote the idea of Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy, those things will be automatically built in as beliefs and will last until those beliefs are changed as a result of normal, healthy evolution of the intellect of the child. If you say often enough, “You are a lazy, good for nothing boy and won’t make a success of your life”, that will be built in as a belief. Unfortunately this could become a self-fulfilling prophesy and will be extremely difficult to change later, even if the intellect of the child develops normally. Parents have to be very careful about the beliefs that they are consciously or unconsciously pumping into their children. If you tell your children sensible things, they will incorporate sensible beliefs automatically and everything will be fine. There is another possibility, namely that our beliefs can be controlled by our conscious brains and modified if necessary. What it boils down to is that you can incorporate your beliefs automatically and reactively from your environment, or you can choose them, examine them, think them through and have them under your control. I think you can guess that I favour the thinking and choosing option over the automatic, non-thinking option. This is because the automatic option has let me down seriously.

These beliefs are kept in permanent memory and are called upon whenever needed, often automatically. When you see Nelson Mandela, your perception of him will be different to mine because of your unique beliefs. When you stand on top of a high mountain peak, your perception will not be the same as mine. You may hate it, be afraid of it, while I may feel relaxed or exhilarated by it, because of our different belief systems. If you and I hear a Beethoven string quartet, you and I hear it differently and it means different things to each of us. This is a consequence of our beliefs. I find it empowering to know that I can change my own reality by learning how to access my beliefs, examine them, and modify them. I have proved to myself beyond any shadow of doubt, that the process works exactly as I have stated and that I have recreated my reality in such a way that my depression, anger, fear and anxiety have been eliminated. This is very potent stuff. I want you to learn how to use it for yourself. But only if you want to.

The belief systems usually work pretty well, but sometimes they misrepresent reality. At one extreme end of the spectrum, you may find that in some disease states, beliefs may be so out of touch with reality that they are called delusions, not beliefs. You may believe that you are a flying monkey, and that the law of gravity does not apply to you. You may then jump off a high building, based on this delusion and kill yourself. There are various grades of faulty beliefs that result in various grades of behaviour that are in touch with or out of touch with reality. So, your beliefs are pre-arranged filters that put a particular spin on your reality. The dictionary defines a belief as a principle or idea that is accepted as true or real, especially without positive proof. They define who you are as a person and have a potent influence on how you behave, how you relate to other people, and what you think of yourself. Your beliefs are very, very important. But they may or may not result in an accurate representation of reality. I want to make a case for trying to ensure that your beliefs are actually routed as closely as possible in reality. If they are, they will be more reliable as filters that will help you in normal day to day life.

Where do your beliefs come from?

They come from many sources, and many of them are built into you when you are very young. Because of this, most of your beliefs have never been examined by you properly. They have been constructed automatically by your brain and automatically incorporated into your virtual reality software in good faith. They may have come from your parents, the TV set in the lounge, your culture, advertising, popular songs, school, friends, politicians, and a whole range of other sources, some reliable and others very unreliable. In most cases, faulty beliefs adjust themselves as a result of trial and error in a learning process. But in other cases, where conditions are abnormal, faulty beliefs may remain unchanged and will then exert a dysfunctional influence on your perception of reality and cause dysfunctional behaviour and dysfunctional emotional experiences. This has been the case in my life. It is sad, because my belief systems have only been properly adjusted now after 62 years of playing havoc with my life. This is why I want to get these ideas out into the world. I hope I can help someone.

I have discovered that it is possible to identify your problem beliefs very easily. It is also possible to test them easily for reliability. It is then possible to examine them objectively and make a decision as to whether you want to hang on to them or not. I have been horrified at some of the beliefs I have carried around all my life and have caused me damage. If you want to get rid of them, this can be done without too much trouble. It is always a good idea to replace a discarded belief with a new, reliable one and then to fix it in place with techniques like repetition, imagination, role playing and reward. In my case it took only a few days to accomplish all these things, such was the shock of learning about my brain tumour, and initially being told that I had between 3 and 9 months to live. The prognosis of my illness has changed, thank goodness, but the shock was important. Having reconstructed important beliefs, it is vital to get them incorporated into your mind so that they become simple habits. This can be done by using rather simple routine procedures. I am going to show you how to do all this. It is not difficult, especially if you are motivated to go through the process.

The process of changing your beliefs reliably and permanently.

Essentially, the process involves identifying your unhelpful beliefs, testing them for validity, then replacing them with realistic beliefs. To show how this is actually done, I have broken the process into 8 steps.

There are eight points to the plan and they are all important. Here they are:

1. Shock yourself into wanting to change your unhelpful beliefs.

2. Identify your unhelpful beliefs by observing your normal daily life carefully. Your feelings are the key in identifying them. Write them down clearly, using simple language.

3. Examine the unhelpful beliefs using clear criteria to see if they are in touch with reality.

4. Now list all the beliefs that did not pass the test in 3 above.

5. Replace the unhelpful beliefs with ones that work and satisfy the criteria in 3 above. Write them down clearly, using simple language.

6. Try to share your experiences during the process of reconstruction.

7. Stay firmly in reality during the reconstruction process.

8. Set up a simple daily routine to help you convert the reconstructed beliefs into habits.

Let’s go through the points in more detail now.

1. Firstly, you need to genuinely want to change your perception of reality. If you are happy with the way you are and have no desire to change, then you should stop reading now, as everything from here on will be a waste of time! The sorts of problems that can be fixed quickly, permanently and dramatically include relationship problems with other people, inappropriate behaviours like road rage, angry outbursts, timid behaviour, indecisiveness, fear, self hatred, depression, apathy, inability to study, anxiety, lack of confidence and a host of other unpleasant or dysfunctional behaviours. It is useful to be motivated by a shock of some sort. This happened in my case. Learning about my brain tumour was a shock like an earthquake and it got me going. You may want to create a shock for yourself by thinking about what would happen in your life now if you knew you had 3 months to live. Whatever you do, you need to get yourself motivated before starting. So start by contriving to give yourself a big shock! I do not recommend a brain tumour.

2. Now you need to find your dysfunctional beliefs one by one and write them down in a list. How on earth do you do this? Where do you start? How do you get the right ones from the thousands of beliefs that reside inside you? The answer is that it is easy. You simply take your time and observe yourself carefully during your normal daily life. You will need to become sensitive to any situation which causes you to feel negative emotions like fear, anxiety, depression, anger, fight or flight responses that are out of proportion to what is actually happening to you. The more effort you put into this process, the more likely you are to succeed. If you feel uncomfortable emotions like these while talking to someone, doing something or experiencing anything in your life, it is a pretty good indication that a dysfunctional belief has been called into action and is trying unsuccessfully to deal with the present situation. Be on the lookout for uncomfortable feelings that are out of proportion to the situation. Let’s take two examples to clarify what I mean.

a. I remember one day that I was unable to start my car in the driveway in the morning. I felt a rising, overwhelming rage in me and asked childishly and impotently, “why is this happening to me now?” On examination, it looked as if the battery had run down. I told myself that it was totally my fault that I had allowed the battery to run down and accused myself viciously of being a complete idiot. I needed to jump start the car with the other car that was parked behind it. This meant driving the healthy car out into the road, then pushing the unhealthy car into the road and positioning them in such a way that the jump leads could be used. So I started executing the plan, all the time telling myself that I was an idiot for letting the situation arise in the first place. My self-anger was extreme. When the unhealthy car was outside I realized that I could actually let it run down the hill to the end of our cul de sac road and start it more easily. So I did just that. Unfortunately the car refused to start and ended up stranded at the bottom of the road pointing in the wrong direction, still immobile. My emotions short-circuited and some of the self-abuse that yelled at me from inside included things like, You total idiot! You are a complete failure! You can’t get anything right! Everything is your fault! Your decisions are always bad! The emotions were so strong that I was immobilized and couldn’t find a solution. I took myself inside, hyperventilating, sweating and crimson with rage, repeating one oath after another. It wasn’t long before I was in a deep despairing, black depression. This is what I mean by feelings or emotions that are out of proportion to the situation. I have now identified and described the unhelpful beliefs that were automatically called up to deal with this incident. Here are the descriptions of the unhelpful beliefs as they presented themselves to me at the time:

i. I fail all the time. Despite my need to be responsible and strong, I do not have the personal strength of character to succeed. I am therefore a shameful failure. I will keep trying but I know I will fail again.

ii. Everything is my fault. I will take responsibility for everything that happens in the world. I will deal with it myself, because I can't trust other people

iii. I will not share my problems with other people. My problems are my responsibility, not theirs. I dare not involve other people.

b. During the last few weeks, after I had identified all my unhealthy beliefs and replaced them with healthy ones my life changed as if a miracle had occurred. Everything was smooth and joyful and wonderful. Then I slowly started to notice that there was a strange behaviour that stayed with me and refused to go away. I kept feeling a sense of urgency in all things that I did. I got frustrated when being given lifts by my wife, because she travelled too slowly, did not take the most efficient routes, stopped too often to let other people into the traffic in front of us, etc. I started back- seat- driving quite badly and frankly became a pain in the neck to my wife and to myself. The sense of urgency was quite marked, and definitely out of proportion to the actual situation. Obviously, I had missed an important belief! Clearly I had an unhelpful belief about time and deadlines and needed to describe it, having now identified it. This is how I described it:

i. I have a very strong commitment to time. Things need to be done immediately to avoid them piling up and overwhelming my personal resources. I am terrified of having so much to do that I can’t cope. I must use every available second of time efficiently and effectively in order to stay in control. I am massively afraid of failing to get everything done on time and must avoid such a situation at all costs.

When you have identified your unhelpful beliefs, you can gain a deeper understanding of them by asking yourself when they first arose, under what circumstances, who was present at the time, how you were feeling at the time. You can also ask yourself what purpose the belief served at the time. It will always have served some purpose, but if you were very young, you may not have had the intellectual or emotional maturity to construct a meaningful belief at all. The belief may have arisen automatically and been constructed using the immature brain software available at the time. This often happens when a child is called upon to take responsibilities or solve problems that are inappropriate for a child of that age. In my case this often happened to me as a child. As a result, many of my unhelpful beliefs are incomplete, childish and ultimately lead to childish frustration, failure and giving up. Parents must be very careful not to expect young children to solve adult problems. They are simply not equipped to do so and abusing children in this way will usually result in long term damage to the child. The clear descriptions of the underlying beliefs shown in the next section were arrived at by reflecting on the present situation that caused the unhelpful belief, together with its uncomfortable emotions to surface. One needs to look at the present situation very carefully and ask oneself what is actually happening now. What does the present situation have in common with the original situation that stimulated the original formulation of the unhelpful belief. This may take a little time to get used to, but if you reflect carefully and trust your intuition and judgment, you should get to the bottom of the belief quite easily. I know this assurance of mine doesn’t sound as if it is fool proof. But I believe that you need to give it a serious try before discarding it. Your beliefs are very personal. The circumstances that originally caused the formation of the belief are also very personal, and you will know and feel the correctness of your description of the belief when it presents itself to you. If your description doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right. Relax, take your time, take days if necessary. When your description feels right, it is right. Having used this process a fair amount now, I trust it and use it with confidence. It works well when you get the hang of it.

3. Having now identified and described the dysfunctional beliefs, we are at the point where we can apply a set of criteria to them to see if they are healthy or unhealthy. Here are the criteria I use:

a. Are the beliefs factually, accurately and scientifically based on observable reality and are they realistically achievable?

b. Do they positively serve my unique personal needs?

c. Do they positively contribute towards my adaptation to reality?

d. Do they positively contribute towards my physical and mental health ?

If you have a look at the 4 beliefs described in the examples in 2 above, you will see that these beliefs fail all four of the criteria. We can confidently say that the beliefs are unhealthy, they are not in touch with reality, they do not serve me well and they do not contribute to my health.

4. I can now go ahead and list all my unhealthy, dysfunctional beliefs: Here is the list I made:

a. I am a supremely responsible person who will protect and provide, no matter what. I force myself to be responsible, even though I don’t know how. I hate it.

b. I am not important. It is my actions that are important. I must provide, no matter what. Whatever happens to me in the process is unimportant.

c. I must stay in control, no matter what. I cannot trust other people. They always let me down.

d. I fail all the time. Despite my need to be responsible and strong, I do not have the personal strength of character to succeed. I am therefore a shameful failure. But I will keep trying, knowing that I will continue to fail.

e. My father is a bad person, irresponsible and weak. I must therefore take a vow (I remember using that word as a young child) to live my life being unlike him. I reject everything about him, his playfulness, fun, story telling. I must show loyalty towards my poor mother who I will always protect. That loyalty will be shown by rejecting my father and despising him.

f. Everything is my fault. I will take responsibility for everything that happens in the world. I will deal with it myself, because I can't trust other people.

g. I will not share my problems with other people. My problems are my responsibility, not theirs. I am alone. No one else cares, so I must make things work.

h. Avoid confrontation at all costs. Just don’t go there, ever.

i. I have a very strong commitment to time. Things need to be done immediately to avoid them piling up and overwhelming my personal resources. I am terrified of having so much to do that I can’t cope. I must use every available second of time efficiently and effectively in order to stay in control. I am massively afraid of failing to get everything done on time and must avoid such a situation at all costs.

Clearly, these beliefs are dysfunctional and fail all 4 criteria comprehensively. Yet they have been managing my life for years, causing huge damage along the way. Reading through them, it is rather obvious that they were constructed by the mind of a child. They are hopeless beliefs! Yet, I have clung to them out of fear, even though they never worked. Now that I have the mind of an adult, they can be examined and reconstructed surprisingly easily.

5. We are now at the point where we can replace the unhelpful beliefs with ones that work and satisfy the criteria that we used to judge them. (see 3 above). How do we go about replacing beliefs? It is nothing more than common sense. If you look at the dysfunctional beliefs listed, you can see that they are either very extreme, far too general, may be completely wrong, and out of touch with real, observed facts. Go through them and change them to make sure they now conform to the criteria in 3 above. This may involve subtle changes or in some cases may actually require you to change the belief completely. Whatever you do, you must feel that the final result is something you can realistically live with because it satisfies all the criteria. When you do the exercise on yourself, it should be easy to reconstruct your beliefs in this way. Write down the new beliefs, because they are going to replace your old, unworkable ones. You are now using your adult, mature brain to do the work. You will be in a much better position to make your beliefs realistic and helpful. It is really an easy task.

Here is the list of my beliefs reconstructed from the list of unhealthy beliefs above:

  • I like who I am and take a delight in being a unique, authentic person. There is no need at all to make excuses or apologies for any of my beliefs. I have thought about my beliefs, examined them and fully embrace them. I do not need to defend them with my life. I accept them easily, without shame or doubt or fear.
  • I know that I am liked and accepted by other people. I am joyful for this good fortune. I like people who accept me the way I am.
  • I accept other people the way they are and have no need to try to change anyone or anyone’s beliefs.
  • I know I have the ability to show people how to examine their beliefs and therefore change them if they want to. I am happy to provide the tools, but feel no need to make them change.
  • I trust people when I know them, and am happy to seek their help.
  • I have very good judgment and rely on it.
  • My life has been a success. I am proud of my achievements. I have a tendency to succeed at everything I do.
  • I am driven to success and happiness through childlike fun, playing, curiosity, excitement, discovery and research. I am not afraid of failure. If I do not succeed immediately, I use humour and fun to handle the temporary setback. A setback is nothing more than an opportunity to try a new, exciting direction. I am not driven by fear of failure, but by the passionate desire to achieve the outcomes I have chosen. There must always be fun and excitement in the process.
  • My father and mother were real people. I remember their positive qualities with great love. They gave me gifts like music, humour, fun, tenacity, communication skills and many more. I love them for their positive qualities and have forgiven their mistakes.
  • I take responsibility for myself and my actions. I do not take responsibility for things that are not in my control.
  • I have an internal locus of control. In other words, I am in control of, and take responsibility for my destiny. There is not some mysterious force outside of me that controls me. I am in control of myself and I take responsibility for it. I am, however, relaxed and confident of my abilities to control my destiny and am not motivated by fear.
  • I will try to be good, honest, kind and open with other people. I will share myself freely. I will be kind to myself, and gently accept setbacks along the way.
  • I do not relate to people through confrontation. I relate to people through acceptance of who they are, and will always listen in order to understand them before criticizing or judging them.
  • Time is important to me. I respect other people’s time and am therefore punctual. When learning, or performing a project I will now take plenty of time to do what needs to be done thoroughly and in the total absence of fear that I have too much to do. I will now take my time and relax in order to concentrate on the task. It is far better to get through fewer tasks by spending more time on those that are tackled than getting through more tasks quickly and ineffectively. Those that are done thoroughly will be remembered better (if learning is involved), be better finished, and be more durable and reliable. So, take your time! It is always worth it.

6. Try to share your experiences during the process of reconstruction. I have found, to my great surprise, that sharing and consulting with others is a very valuable way of making sure you have made the right decisions. In my case I actually created a Blog and all my problems were made available to everyone on the internet. This method helped me, but you may have some other way of sharing your experience. Please try to share it because it will make a positive outcome very much more likely. Trust me.

7. Stay firmly in reality during the reconstruction process. Be positive. But don’t get so carried away that you end up with a new set of beliefs that are so wildly idealistic that they are unrealistic again! Just stay in reality and be sensible. Also, don’t be doubtful or cynical about the process. The process definitely DOES work. It takes a bit of time so you may have to wait a few days or weeks before you start seeing positive results. Just stay in reality. If you have done your work well, you will be surprised at how quickly your life changes.

8. You are now at the point where you can set up a simple daily routine to help you convert the reconstructed beliefs into habits. Many people think of routines as boring, mechanical and uninspiring. I suppose that is true. But the merit of routines is that they provide a regular, structured, comfortable way of making sure you stay on track. They convert all your creative, inspirational ideas into real life behaviour. Don’t underestimate the importance of routines. They are very important if you are serious about converting your reconstructed beliefs into daily habits that support you. They can change your life seriously for the better. In my case, they have changed me so miraculously that I am in awe, not of myself, but of the power of the virtual reality software built into my brain. You have that software available to you too. It is a product of the evolutionary processes that make us successful human beings. In the case of my new, restructured beliefs, the methods that I have used involve repetition, imagination and reward. This is how I have done it, and I suggest with due humility, that you may want to try it. If you can think of a routine that suites your needs better, then go for it. But make sure that all your hard work doesn’t fall off the edge of your desk because you fail to follow through with a routine of some sort:

a. Repetition: Repetition is a very powerful thing. It is used in education, advertising, religion, even brainwashing! So why not use it to fix your new beliefs in your mind? I have made a list of my new beliefs and put them on my computer diary system. Each day, one of the beliefs comes up for review together with all the other chores that I have scheduled for that day. I read it, perform some imagination exercises on it, and reward myself when I use it successfully in real life (see the next two sections). The following day, the next belief comes up for attention. When I have covered all of them, the computer starts at the beginning again. You may want to use an ordinary paper diary, a calendar, or any other routine that works for you. In my case I have set a two month period to go through this repetition exercise. I can confirm that it is working spectacularly. At the end of the two month period I will review the process and decide what to do then.

b. Imagination: Your imagination is a very potent thing. It is part of the virtual reality software I talked about earlier when discussing the way the brain works. I want to invite you to do an experiment right now to see how powerful your imagination is. Sit down quietly and relax. Don’t try to meditate or do anything unusual. Just sit quietly, breathe regularly, relax and close your eyes. Now imagine you are at a favourite place in the country. You are lying on a lilo on the still, quiet water of a dam or lake. There is a gentle, pleasant breeze just taking the edge off the heat. You can feel the warm sun caressing your skin and the pleasant breeze occasionally wafting over you. Really feel it and smile at the pleasure. You can hear a Fish Eagle calling high above. It’s call echoes from the surrounding mountains and makes your skin contract into goose bumps, it is such a beautiful, evocative sound. Feel it, hear it. The sound pierces the deep, three dimensional, background rumble of silence all around you. Now picture yourself from above. See yourself lying on your comfortable, safe lilo on the smooth surface of the water. The colours are bright and well defined. The picture is sharply in focous. There is no frame around the picture in your mind. It is three-dimensional with depth in all directions as far as infinity. You can smell the sweet scent of an orchard of orange trees close by. It is aromatic, delicate and sensual. Now roll off your lilo and feel the shock of the cold water contracting your skin, your muscles. It is exhilarating, but it takes your breath away. You surface, laughing out loud.

It should not be difficult to recruit your imagination to create the kind of picture suggested above. If you did find it difficult, I suggest you try it more often. When you use your imagination, try to use all you senses in order to enhance the experience. Above all, try to actually feel everything as if it were real.

Now back to the project of using imagination on our new beliefs. Concentrate on the belief you have decided to adopt for the day. Use your imagination as vividly as possible and see yourself in a situation where you are challenged by some event to use the belief. See it, feel it, feel the emotions. Take time to use all your senses in your imagination. The more vivid, three dimensional and sensual you make your imaginary situation, the more powerfully it will be incorporated into you, and the easier it will be to recall later. Then use the belief to successfully overcome the challenge. Make it as real as possible but make the outcome successful. After overcoming the challenge, praise yourself strongly. The more realistic you make your imaginary experience, the better it will be fixed in your mind. These experiences are first laid down in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, and after repetition, they go through a process called reconsolidation and are transferred to the neocortex of the brain. If, later in the day you actually come across a real situation that requires you to use one of your new beliefs, use it and again praise yourself afterwards. You may want to tell someone about your experience.

c. Reward: This is really easy. When you have successfully used one of your new beliefs either in your imagination, or in real life, always reward yourself immediately. Either say to yourself, “Well done! You are a success. You are great” or something like that. You may even want to give yourself some treat. Just be careful about chocolate and cookies! I speak as a full blown chocoholic of note. Too much success could cause you to blow up like a blimp! So be sensible, but use an appropriate reward. (I admit to using chocolate occasionally, but it works for me! And I have learned to forgive myself.)

That is the full process. It doesn’t need to be more complex or detailed. I hope you find it useful. It has worked for me and transformed my life in a matter of weeks.