Friday, November 25, 2011

Improve Your Inner Dialogue and Decrease Anxiety

GUEST BLOGGER Ryan Rivera used to suffer from anxiety. When he turned to natural and alternative methods of treatment, he got the help he needed. To know more about how he survived anxiety, go to

Internal dialogue, or self-talk, powerfully shapes and programs your self-concept. Usually normal and non-threatening, when the content consists of unfailingly negative and unhealthy deliberations or beliefs about your self-worth, self-talk can lead to anxiety. To be set free from this negative internal dialogue, work must be done.

1. Become More Mindful of Your Thinking Pattern
The first step to changing your negative internal dialogue is to gain awareness of your thinking pattern, particularly the instances when negative thoughts persist. Scrutinize and analyze your mental ideas and sentences. Identify them as positive or negative. Keep the positive ones and throw the negative thoughts away.

2. Keep Your Thoughts in a Journal
Sometimes, you can’t keep track of all the thoughts you have. To track thoughts and allow for further examination, keep a journal or diary. When a troubling thought comes or a strong feeling is evoked write it down like you are telling a story--your story. It will shed light on the real root of your difficulties.

3. STOP the Negative Thoughts
When a negative thought pops up, take active action and stop it. You can do this by stating out loud the very simple, four-letter word “STOP!” Saying this with conviction and power makes you the master of your mind. Taking control makes you the master of your thinking.

4. Relax
For counterattacks against negative thoughts to be effective, you must be calm. With your back on a chair or on a firm mattress, close your eyes and block all surrounding noises, except your breathing. Press your palms on your chest and abdomen. Inhale deeply and feel the rise of your abdomen. Hold your breath. Then, slowly release this air and feel your abdomen fall. Repeat until you’re more relaxed.

5. Challenge Negative Thoughts
Extreme negativity feeds anxiety. Thinking of worst case scenarios and assuming you will fail contributes directly to failure. To stop this vicious cycle, question your negative thoughts. Ask yourself if these thoughts are reasonable and logical. If not, think instead: “things will be better this time” or “everything will turn out well."

6. Positive Affirmations
“I am at peace today” or “I am good” are examples of positive affirmations, a great tool to help reprogram your unconscious mind from negative thinking to positive. Make a positive statement that you would like reality to reflect, and repeat it until it is part of your way of thinking.

Improving your internal dialogue is a great anxiety reduction technique that you must practice to master.  Recognize that negative thoughts are mere thoughts, nothing more and nothing less, and achieve peace of mind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Manage Your Energy to Move Ahead

I was revisiting a great book, The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, and was struck by the simplicity of their basic axioms.  Following them makes it seem like a straight shot from Point A (where I am now) to Point B (where I’d like to move to).

*To be fully engaged in our activities we draw on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sources of energy.

Interpretation:  You can’t ignore any of these components of your life.

*Energy expenditure and renewal are equally important.

Interpretation:  You can’t sit on your butt and expect to feel energetic, but you also can’t ignore your need to recharge.

*Reaching our full potential requires pushing beyond our usual limits.

nterpretation:  You can’t coast and expect to feel engaged; you’ve got to push the envelope.

*Positive energy rituals are critical for high performance.

Interpretation:  You have to have specific strategies for creating positive energy (e.g., meditation, prayer, deep breathing).  You can’t just wait for the positivity to come.

*Change requires defining your purpose, facing your truth and taking action.

Interpretation: Not only do you have to identify your goals, you must face the hard truths about yourself and others and act according to those truths.  You can’t put your head in the sand and expect to feel fully engaged and energized in your life.

My suggestion:  Choose one place in your life where you’d like some movement.  Can you get back to doing something that gave you a sense of meaning, peace or energy?  Can you do more, or less, than you’re doing right now?  Can you push the envelope somewhere?  Can you introduce a positive ritual?  Can you face a hard truth and take the difficult step you’ve been avoiding?  It’s great stuff.  Just take a shot.

Crank it up with Pat Benatar.  Hit me with your best shot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just Stay Positive. Optimism and Cancer Survival

Guest blogger Trevor Bradshaw is a dedicated cancer advocate and aspiring writer, who is very passionate about educating people on the power of optimism in fighting cancer.
Just Stay Positive.  Optimism and Cancer Survival, Trevor Bradshaw
We hear it so often that sometimes, it seems like we don’t even listen to it at all but is there more to the phrase “just stay positive” than even the most ardent optimists would have guessed?  Scientists, who are studying the new field of physchoneuroimmunology and exploring the interactions between the body’s nervous and immune systems, believe that there just might be.  In fact, studies are showing that the power of positive thinking might even be strong enough to fight against cancer!
Although scientists are still at a loss to explain it, several recent studies have shown an extremely strong connection between positivity and cancer patients’ survival rates.  An extensive study performed by the Mayo Cancer clinic showed that the cancer mortality rate is a shocking 19% higher for pessimists than it is for optimists.  Some scientists posit that the gap in life expectancy and cancer mortality rates is primarily due to too much negative thinking.  They point to new research on the effects of norepinephrine (released into the bloodstream in large amounts when you feel stressed) that has demonstrated a direct correlation between too much stress and tumor growth.  The new studies show that norepinephrine increases cancerous tumor cell growth in mice and scientists now believe that it plays a significant role in ovarian cancer in humans as well.   Those who believe in the power of positivity point to studies showing optimists’  increased life expectancy in cancers caused by environmental factors like peritoneal mesothelioma.
While there is still much research to be done before you’ll hear your doctor prescribe “just stay positive” as a treatment for cancer, it is increasingly commonplace for doctors to recommend patients diagnosed with rare cancers like mesothelioma to attend support groups.  In fact, with its low survival rate, limited treatment options, and relative rareness, it should come as no surprise that mesothelioma support groups are quickly becoming one of the top complementary treatments for mesothelioma patients. Because support groups allow patients an outlet to discuss their myriad emotions and reactions with others in a like-minded community, they can decrease the dangerous levels of stress associated with cancer and promote positivity. And after all, maybe there’s more to that old advice “just stay positive” than we ever thought.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Journal Writing: Taking a Nightly Inventory

Guest blogger Ryan Glassmoyer is the Managing Editor of, a drug treatment and education website.

Journal Writing: Taking a Nightly Inventory, Ryan Glassmoyer

I like to journal nightly about the good and bad parts of my day.
Over time this leads to personal growth and emotional stability.

There are many ways to journal. Play around with what works for you. Try diary form or make a checklist. Any inquiry into the positive and negative events of a day promotes growth.

Questions to Ask Ourselves:
Was I angry today? When was I happy?
Was I selfish? Did I help others?
Was I dishonest? Was I honest?
Was I fearful? Was I faithful?

The Act of Bettering Ourselves:
Self searching is at the heart of spiritual growth. Journal writing highlights where we want to make changes in life.

Writing down feelings and actions gives a clear picture of what’s going on in our lives.

Discover What Is Really Going On:
Emotions can come out sideways. We acquire small resentments and without recognition they fester; eventually unleashing on the barista or our spouse. Taking inventory of what upset us during the day allows us to keep tabs on our emotions. When we know what is bothering us we have power to remedy it.

Give Credit:
Take notice of the good parts of the day. Observing where we’ve acted better than we would have a month before creates a consciousness of growth. Acknowledging the “ups” creates belief that the “downs” are repairable and temporary.

Daily Practice:
Commitment to journal writing amplifies the practice. Repeated introspection builds emotional stability and sustainable behavior change. Journaling empowers us to own our personal actions (the only factors in our lives that are in our control.) By noticing our rise and fall we are more aware of the general flux of human lives. When others wrong us we become more forgiving, for we have been learning to forgive ourselves. We see that life is a process and not a destination.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Zen and the Art of Cooking

The food will taste better when the cook is joyful. So says Edward Espe Brown, Zen Buddhist priest and chef, in How to Cook Your Life, a lovely documentary about zen and the art of cooking.

Espe Brown says:  When you’re cooking you’re not just cooking, you’re not just working on food, you’re also working on yourself, you’re working on other people.  It’s about doing things in a thoughtful and loving manner.  How would it be if you did everything in your life in a thoughtful and loving manner?

Espe Brown says:  Is food precious?  Is food worth caring about?  Are you precious?  Are you worth caring about?  It’s a bit of eating to live and a bit of living to eat, with a large cup of caring added to the mix.  How would it be if you considered yourself that precious?

Finally, he says: There’s the possibility of connection with life…Nourishing yourself and other people doesn’t finally come out of a package.  It comes out of your heart.  It’s about connecting with where your food comes from, and how it is prepared and shared lovingly with others.  How would it be if you nourished yourself and loved ones from your heart?

Consider cooking as working on yourself and others, as an important undertaking for precious people and as a heartfelt connection.  It’s something to joyfully contemplate.

Zen Buddhist chant