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Revolutionary: The Pressure-less Diet—helps you lose the pressure that is weighing you down!

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Are you ready to lose the weight that slows you and often keeps you down? Do you want to lose the weight that makes you anxious, fearful, short-tempered at work and home, and robs you of enthusiasm? If “Yes” is your answer, you’re ready to go on the pressure-less diet.

The pressure-less diet: based on research I collected over twenty five years, I found that most people experience daily feelings of pressure akin to a weight upon their shoulders, a burden to be carried 24/7. Your life is apt to feel sour. The pressure-less diet reduces your daily feelings of pressure, and unlike most diets, sweetens up your life.

Because we all want to succeed in the tasks we deem important, we all experience pressure moments. For these pressure moments—a job interview, an audition, an important test, a presentation—we can learn specific “pressure solutions” that help us manage our anxieties, fears, and self-consciousness that often cause us to perform below our capabilities. We encounter pressure moments—like a holiday dinner—intermittently throughout the year.

Too many people, though, experience pressure feelings everyday—not just in a particular pressure moment. The extra pressure becomes a burden—extra weight that they have to carry around. They might feel pressed and squeezed: the world upon their shoulders.

People gain this extra weight by becoming pressure pigs—they stuff themselves with pressure often without even realizing it. You will too, if you don’t break this hardwired pressure-eating habit: confusing your wants with your needs.

Start to understand the diet’s science by asking yourself, “What’s the difference between a want and need?” One woman put it this way: “a need is clothes. A want is a Chanel label.”

For early man, wants and needs were the same—his wants were literally equivalent to needs. He wanted food because he needed it to survive.

Today you gain extra pressure if you equate wants with needs because in your mind, you then feel as though you have to attain your wants to survive—this was true for early man but not for you. You might want a Mercedes but you won’t perish if you don’t attain one, and while you want a bigger house for your family, you can still be happy in a smaller one.

Treating your wants as needs increases the importance of your wants and thus adds more pressure on you to achieve them. Simultaneously, thoughts of not getting them stimulate anxiety and fear. Treating wants as needs gives you a big appetite and you become a pressure pig—you eat a lot of pressure.

Eat less pressure by short-circuiting the primal association that equates wants and needs by expressing your wants as wants, not as needs. Feeling less pressure and be more appreciative of what you have are results.

Make a list of your needs and transform each into a want and you’ll see that most of your needs are exaggerated wants. Does your son or daughter “really need” the new iPhone—or is that what he or she wants to keep up with the other kids? “I need a nice car” is a different message to yourself than “I want a nice car.”

Most people do want a nice car, but those who treat the want as a need will feel compelled to buy a status brand, even though they cannot afford it. When you recognize that you want a nice car but in fact, any reliable car will do, you experience less pressure and in fact, more at ease.

Your hard wiring makes the pressure-less diet hard to stick to but you can stay on course by remembering Keith Richards’ message: “You can’t always get what you want, but you can get what you need!”


When Giving & Taking Criticism—stay cool, calm and collected

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Your heart beats faster, you breathe more quickly, your blood pressure is zooming, and you are apt to perspire. If you are exercising, you probably would welcome these physical responses as a sign of a good workout. Your system is on track, and you are on your way to getting in shape. But if you’re giving or taking criticism, they are a sure sign that you’re probably about to get bent out of shape and derail yourself from the track of success.

For many of us, criticism evokes strong emotions, particularly anger, when we receive it and anxiety when we give it. These emotions — fueled by negative self-statements — intensify and speed up our physical arousal system to the point that it becomes disruptive to our thinking.

If your arousal is not checked, you lose your mental agility. If you are the recipient, you automatically lock out the criticism. If you are the giver, you become rigid, and forceful in your delivery.

In either case, not being able to stay relaxed when you are giving or taking criticism will prevent you form staying focused when the heat is on. This is when criticism turns ugly.

On the other hand, if you can stay cool and calm during the criticism encounter, you will be able to deal with the situation more effectively because you will prevent your emotions, in the form of defensiveness, from getting the best of you. Instead you will be able to appraise the situation accurately and respond appropriately.

There are several actions for you to take that will help you stay cool and calm when you are either giving or taking a criticism. The first is to become sensitive to the physiological responses that tell you you are becoming unsettled. You will be able to use these responses as a cue, a warning that your emotions are beginning to get out of hand. You can then make a conscious intervention to calm yourself, thus allowing yourself to evaluate the criticism for what it’s worth. If you are the giver, your emotional arousal will tell you if you are too angry or anxious to give the criticism.

You can begin to learn how to use your emotions as a cue that things might be getting out of hand by monitoring your physical arousal level in a variety of situations. For example, monitor yourself when you are resting, reading a book, exercising, rushing to get to work, or being criticized. Focus on your breathing rate and heart rate, and feel for how they differ in different situations. You will soon note that your physical arousal system is much slower at rest than when you are in a rush or becoming angry. After a few days of monitoring, you will become very adept at noticing when your body is speeding up.

In a criticism situation, this physical sensitivity will pay off because it will enable you to quickly recognize that you are becoming aroused; this recognition will serve as a cue to calm yourself, perhaps by consciously breathing more slowly. You may also use your increased physical arousal as a signal that it’s time to modify your self-statements, since your getting aroused probably means you are thinking counterproductively.

A second way to stay calm during the act of criticism is to develop a relaxation response, the ability to quickly calm yourself when you desire, even in emotionally distressing situations. Your relaxation response helps you maintain a receptive attitude toward criticism because it keeps emotional arousal at a level that allows you to think rationally.

In a criticism situation, using a relaxation response will probably prevent you from getting angry of defensive. You remain mentally flexible and are able to evaluate as well as give the criticism more effectively.

To develop your relaxation response, first select a relaxation exercise to practice for ten days. One popular relaxation exercise to consider is the tense-relax procedure, which calls for you to tighten and relax the different muscle groups in your body. Start with your calf muscles, and proceed to your thighs, stomach, shoulders, neck and forehead. Tighten each muscle group for approximately thirty seconds and then release it. At the end of the exercise, your body will be in a state of physical relaxation. If this does not appeal to you, select another exercise. The key, however, is to practice the relaxation exercise within these four parameters:

  1. Be in a quiet environment.
  2. Be in a comfortable physical position.
  3. Have the same mental image, key word, or key phrase in mind as you practice.
  4. Have a passive attitude. Don’t try to relax — let it happen.

After a few days of practicing relaxation, you may conclude that it doesn’t work. You would be right. It takes ten to fourteen days to develop a relaxation response, just as it takes two weeks before you start to see the benefit of any exercise program.

Staying cool, calm and collected during a criticism encounter isn’t the easiest thing to do, but if can do it, you will find the power of positive criticism to be quite relaxing.


Cool Your Day

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“I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker. I feel the heat 24/7”   If you were to come to my office, I’d prescribe 5 actions for you to take to cool your day, to “depressurize.”

Focus on how good you are at something, not your ranking. You’ll experience less pressure if you focus on your own skill and excellence rather than how you stack up against others. We all know that we live in a competitive world. But we can’t control the efforts of the other guy. Competition encourages us to try to be better than others. The tradeoff is a constant feeling that “you have to be the best,” which can create unrealistic expectations and a sense that you don’t measure up. Focusing on your own excellence, rather than beating out the other person, puts you in control of your destiny. It promotes feelings of confidence, rather than pressure anxiety.

Adhere to your values and personal expectations. You’ve probably seen plenty of films and television shows in which one of the characters feels extreme pressure to live up to the expectations of others. These shows are a good example of art imitating life, and we relate to them because it’s such a common pressure.

Whether because of a fear of rejection or the need to be accepted, attempting to perform to meet the expectations of others helps to exacerbate pressure. It can force you to navigate a different course than you would otherwise. Staying true to your values and honoring the goals and expectations you set for yourself are more likely to reduce the feelings of pressure you experience.

Focus on your interests, not the incentives. Almost everyone thinks about incentives
in the workplace, from salaries to bonuses to promotions. Paradoxically, those who focus excessively on attaining them or losing them are more likely to feel stress, anxiety, and fear— emotions that intensify feelings of pressure that, ironically, inhibit their capabilities to attain the very incentives they desire.

Those who pursue and develop their interests in their careers are much more likely to experience positive emotions at work than those who don’t, as well as greater productivity.

The same is true for people who focus on achieving a sense of purpose and meaning through their work. If you are starting out in the work world, follow your genuine interests— any pressure you experience will be buffered by the feelings of curiosity and fulfillment
that come from following your passions. If you’ve been in the work world for a while, try to rekindle your purpose.

Appreciate what you “have,” not what you “have not.” Experiencing joy is a great minimizer of pressure. Appreciate the people, events, opportunities, and achievements that enrich your life, but which so many of us often take for granted. Focusing on what you
don’t have will likely increase your feelings of pressure. To de-pressurize, take a few minutes each day to appreciate what you have. You will feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed.

Use any feelings of pressure you experience to modify your thoughts. If you are experiencing pressure anxiety before a key event or action, remember that how you speak
to yourself can help you or hurt you. If you have butterflies in your stomach before a presentation you are probably not telling yourself, “I can handle this,” or that “Life is great.” But
you should. Telling yourself you’re not ready, or imaging yourself failing is not productive. Give yourself practical advice, such as “stay focused,” or “just do your best.” Instead of allowing your thoughts to keep you stuck, repeating and intensifying your fear, train yourself to create feelings of confidence. Those feelings will stay with you as you walk out onto the mean streets of pressure.

We all feel pressure but you don’t have to feel it 24/7—just depressurize.


Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm!

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In today’s demanding work world, the pressure for doing more with less has become part of many organizational cultures. People are in fact working longer hours and often asked to take responsibility for tasks that go beyond their job description. We all know that more stress at work takes its toll mentally; but it also taxes us physically and we go home feeling exhausted. Rest and relaxation can be a cure, but they are normally reserved for the end of the day, weekends and vacations.

Researching my recent book, Performing Under Pressure, helped me realize a cure that we can be use throughout the day, one that not only reduces feelings of exhaustion and pressure, but also makes you — and those around you more productive and it works instantly. It’s called “enthusiasm”.

We become enthused “automatically when we achieve a goal or when we encounter something we like, be it food or a person. Goal completion and liking something are natural stimulants for enthusiasm but we don’t achieve goals every day or perform enjoyable work activities every day. Why wait?

Your can learn how to create enthusiasm for the moment and throughout the day but you need to know the nature of enthusiasm:

Enthusiasm is an affective state. How do you feel when you are enthusiastic? Energized or excited is the common response.

Enthusiasm is a state of heightened arousal.  Breathing rate, heart rate, for example, are accelerated.Enthusiasm is accompanied by positive thought. “I can do this,” or “I love this,” are common enthusiastic thoughts

Enthusiasm is a behavior. Enthusiasm stimulates movement be it in the arms or legs, face or eyes.

Enthusiastic responses are universal across cultures. A smile, clapping — these are hardwired into us so a crowd in Brazil cheers when their soccer team wins just like American college students do when their basketball team wins.

Enthusiasm communicates excitement, engagement and positivity to the people around you and like all emotions is contagious so your enthusiasm is infects others.Enthusiasm is expressed via our hardwired emotional communicators — facial expressions, voice, gestures, and arousal. A smile or a frown, slumped shoulders or standing upright, a whimper voice or a yelling voice — are all examples of our hardwiring apparatuses expressing emotional information.  Next time you say you feel enthusiastic stand in front of a mirror — I bet you are smiling.

Given the fact that your having a draining day and need more energy, or feeling  lull five minutes before an important presentation, what can you do to instantly Jazz yourself up?I’d recommend using an ET–an enthusiastic technology.

Enthusiasm Technologies

Enthusiastic technologies leverage your inherent emotional communication mechanisms –voice, facial expressions, gestures, arousal — so they help you experience enthusiasm —energized, excited, and positive and ready to be productive.

The following enthusiastic technologies are some examples of using emotional ocmmunicaiton mechanisms to jazz your self up and/or to elevate the mood of others. Your underlying task is note the enthusiastic properties in play and to create innovative ways of how to bring these properties to life:

Activate Yourself — Moving our bodies increases our arousal that stimulates endorphins that promote creativity and positive feelings. If you have an important meeting to brainstorm ideas, go for a ten -minute walk beforehand. One step further, lead your team through a brisk five-minute walk, even if its through the hallways of your office building. If you need to pep yourself up in a minute, do a Bagger Vance dance step and away you go!

Sound of Music — Sound carries emotions so music can be a natural mood enhancer. During lunch, short breaks, or even at your desk, put on headphones and give yourself a dose of enthusiasm by listening to music that inspires and excites you. With your team, make it a fun ritual by singing each other’s favorite song together or sharing a favorite lyric. Your team might sound terrible, but they will feel enthused. When you want to rally your troops, don’t speak in a monotone. Mimic Al Pacino’s rhythmic flow in his Any Give Sunday and Scent of A Woman Speeches.

Clap it UP. Do you recall the film Hoosiers? Its a story based on small Indiana high school’s basketball team that goes on to win the state championship in 1952. Academy Award winner Gene Hackman plays the team’s coach.. Before each game, he gets his team in a huddle and has them clap at a feverish pace—and then lets them take the court—with great enthusiasm. Look at the halftime basketball breaks that are televised on ESPN: Every one ends with a “Hack” Imitation. Clapping is a percussive sound that is made by an object struck or rubbed by hand. Give yourself a few claps — fast and loud — and you’ll feel up! Do your own hack imitation with your team and they will get up and go!

Laugh and Smile — Enthusiasm is contagious. We transfer and catch emotions through facial expressions, sounds and body gestures. Stand in front of a mirror and look and act enthusiastic —bet your smiling so make it a point to increase your smile. Share jokes and laugh out loud. Ask family or friends to let you know when you sound enthusiastic and I bet it’s a time when you are feeling good!

None of us need more stress —your own experiences tell you the downside of stress outweighs its upside. And pressure is the enemy of success. Fortunately, we all have access to enthusiastic technologies that allow us to lessen our feelings of bing overwhelmed and do our best when it matters most That’s a fact to be enthusiastic about!!

5 Reasons You Don’t Give

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I’d bet you’ve heard countless times that “it’s better to give than to receive.” I’d also lay heavy odds that you’ve read numerous articles on the importance of giving, and an equal amount of articles and blogs that promote numerous ways in which we can all be a more giving person. Even Presidents have written on this point.

It is not surprising that we all advocate care giving. The fact is, Mother Nature has hardwired us all with care giving instincts, their evolutionary function being that by providing care to others, especially the young, boosts the odds that the organizational unit will continue to flourish.

Care giving, then, is nature’s inherent tool for developing others, or more broadly, for advancing the future. For this reason, Mother Nature has made sure that that you have care giving genes.

In lieu of this point, we know why so many people are givers; what I find interesting is why so many people are not. It is as if many people are “instinctualy disconnected,” a term that means one has lost touch with their inherent tools for making life better.   In this case, it means that many people are disconnected from their care giving instincts or at the very least, suppress them. Why might this be? Why do people refrain from care giving, even when their hardwiring instructs them too?

From my clinical and counseling experiences and daily observations, I’ll give you some reasons why people often don’t express their care giving instincts and how to <em>instinctualy reconnect to this life enhancing tool.

The Anger Excuse.   In therapy sessions, I hear the anger excuse time and time again: “I was angry, so I didn’t want to show care.” When mismanaged anger permeates a relationship, it extinguishes the nurturing instinct. Because most people are not adept at anger management, you can begin to see why so many people in so many relationships accuse their partner of not caring. You won’t find wolves not nurturing their mates because they are angry, perhaps a reason wolves mate for life. Solution: learn anger management skills.

No time to Give. If you don’t spend time with someone, it is pretty hard to demonstrate and communicate affection, whether it is with your partner, kids, employees, or your parents. Indeed, many people lose contact with their care giving instincts because they do not spend time with the people who would benefit from their love and attention.  Solution: spend time with your loved ones so you have ample opportunity to express your care giving instincts.

It’s Too Much Effort. From your earliest moments of being a caregiver, you quickly learn it is hard, draining and sometimes even painful. Many people just do not want to demonstrate their nurturing instinct because it is too much of an effort. Care giving takes energy and sometimes, you don’t have it to give. Solution: take occasional respite — you will be reenergized to express your care giving instincts.

I’ll Help You Lose. Our competitive instinct, too, can trump our nurturing instinct. This is particularly true to the working environment where, for many people, competition with their colleagues dominates their working attitude. Because competition typically is a win/lose scenario, many people are reluctant to help others because it makes themselves lose in comparison. In effect, by not helping your coworker, you help him lose. Solution: recognize that those who cooperate and develop others are always the most successful.

It Is Expensive. Nurturing in all its forms can be a pricey endeavor. It costs a lot of money to give your parents the best care, your children the best developmental opportunities — such as tutors, dance, music and karate lessons — or your pet the high end food and frequent veterinarian care. Lack of resources, especially finances and time, is a frequent and realistic reason that prevents people from exhibiting certain care giving behaviors and communication.   Solution reexamine your priorities and figure out “cheap” ways to give.

I’d like to hear why you think so many people are instinctualy disconnected from their care giving instincts, including times you’ve fallen into that group.


Executive Decisions — How To Make Them Better!

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It’s obvious why we want to make good decisons. Yet, it’s also obvious that too many people make too many wrong decisons, from taking the wrong job, marrying the wrong person, to selecting the wrong college. How does this happen?

There are many reason we make wrong decisons but through my clinical, counseling, and coaching experiences, I have found a major culprit for many is the tendency to listen to the advice of others instead of using the natural intuitve decision makers that Mother Nature has provided to all of us. Using these natural decisions makers is the act of applying what is commonly called “intuition.”

If you are in the process of making an important decision, here are five tips to help you surface your intuition and thus help you decide your best course of action.

Use your facial expressions when making an important decision. Emotions are directly linked to facial expressions. Before an important decision, stand in front of a mirror and think of the decision you are to make. Does your face show fear, anger, happiness, anxiety? If your face does not look happy or satisfied when you think about the decision you are to make, you better think twice, because you will be ignoring your instincts.

I had a client, a young lady do this who was about to become engaged. When she spoke about her engagement, she said it was right for her, but when she saw how she looked in a mirror, when she was discussing her relationship, she opted out and soon came to realize that she would of been making a huge mistake. Her facial expressions helped her realized that she was fooling herself. Later on, she told me that deep down, she felt something was wrong, but tried to convince herself other wise because she didn’t want to hurt her boyfriend. The mirror on the wall helped her become the fairest of them all.

Listen with your 3rd ear…the practice of “listening to your voice,” is based on the fact that sound carries emotion, which is why some sounds of music make you enthusiastic, others scared, others depressed.

When a patient would tell me they were feeling great or happy about something, I would often notice that their voice communicated the opposite. You say you are happy but you don’t sound happy, or enthused.

Talk about a decision into a tape recorder or out loud and ask yourself, “how do I sound” often brings forth the incongruency between what a person says and what is really going on. Sounds of silence, when the person cannot talk about their decision enthusiastically often indicates not listening to one’s instincts/intuitions.

Emotions are complex systems with three components: thoughts, physical arousal, behavior. Many times, with our thoughts, we “lie to ourselves,” but our behavior speaks the truth. You might tell yourself you have found the perfect mate, that the uncomfortable feeling is just your normal nervousness, but your behavior will speak the truth. One woman told me she found the perfect mate, but when I pointed out that her behavioral avoidance of sex didn’t match her thoughts, she finally confessed that she felt she knew she was kidding herself. Observe your behavior and if it doesn’t match what you say or feel, think about why and you will get closer to your intuitiveness for helping you decide what action to take.

Intuition is defined as stimuli that is below your conscious awareness. Thus, you can get closer to your intuition by increasing your awareness to sensory data. In a therapy session, a husband and wife were sitting close together. The husband said something and in a micro second, the wife moved away. I said, “Did what your husband said hurt your feelings?” She said, Doctor, you are so “intuitive.” The fact is, I saw her move and my question was just validating my “intuition.” Exercise–when you go for a walk, increase your awareness to all the sensory data-noises, smells, colors. When you drive, off with the radio, open the window, you will be bombarded with sensory data. Next meeting, before it starts, check out the sensory data of people and see if your “interpretations” will prove to be valid.

5. Listen to hesitancies in speech, take in facial expressions. The more sensory data you tune into, the more you can get in touch with your intuition. If you interview someone for a job, and you are “uncomfortable,” ask yourself what the sensory data is that is making you uncomfortable–you are responding to something and by knowing what, you clarify your intuition.

5) Visualize & Feel The Outcome of Your Decision-Making
Many times, when we are anxious (uncertain) about a decision we have to make, we can help ourselves by visualizing and feeling the outcome if we were to decide one way or another. Ask yourself, “How would I feel in year if I go down this path? Answers of Joy, engagement, interest, are telling you it is a path to take and that you are in turn with your nature. If the answers are different, you are going against your instincts–the “bad feelings” are saying, “This isn’t for you. Don’t do it.”

Not long ago, I was giving a presentation to the 200 most successful women in a major financial institution. Shortly after my presentation and while I was waiting to be driven to the airport, one of the participants approached me and asked if she could ask me a question.
“Go ahead,” I told her.

She told me that she worked in Florida and had been offered a new position in a new firm with great opportunities in LA. “Sounds good,” I told her.

She told me it was everything she wanted but for some reason, felt uncomfortable about taking it. A few questions later, she told me she had lived in Florida for several years, had good friends, and had moved there from NY because she wanted to be close to her parents who lived in a retirement community in Miami. She saw them frequently. She said she had to make her decision in a week and didn’t know what to do.

We sat down and I gave her the following instructions. “Imagine yourself living in LA. It is six months from now. How do you think you will feel about not seeing your parents frequently? How will you feel about not seeing your friends? Does it make you feel good to think of yourself in Los Angeles. Does the type of work you’re doing excite you much more than your current work?”

After these mini-visualization exercises, she exclaimed, “I’ve decided…When I think about how I will feel if I took this job and moved so far away, I realize that it would not make me happy. What does make me happy is being close to my parents–after all, they are not going to live forever, my good friends, and the truth is, I like my work a lot but these other things are more important to me. I think I was feeling the pressure to take a move up position, but it wasn’t making me comfortable; that is the nagging feeling I was having. It was telling me something was wrong. Now, I feel good about my decision, she said.”

Decision making is a task throughout life. Now you can use Mother Nature’s intuitive decision makers help you make your best choices.

To find out how pressure adversly affects your decision making, check out the recent New York Times Bestseller, Performing Under Pressure: The Science Of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most (Crown, 2015) and the new online empowering E workshop: http://pressure.hendrieweisingerphd.com