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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Motivational Mondays: Yes You Can and Here's How

Thought for the Day: Political campaign slogans can make or break an election. The "Yes We Can" campaign and poster may have been the single most influential element in Barack Obama's presidential victory. It captured the attention of a nation weary of inaction and searching for hope for a better future. Whether the nation has seen the progress that they had hoped for is another question. In fact, the slogan may have in some ways backfired. People may have expected change to happen quickly.

As a psychologist, I know that change takes time. Although psychotherapy empowers people to overcome adversity and make changes in their lives, they need to be patient. Change takes hard work and perseverance if it is to become real and lasting. In a society which thrives on fast food restaurants, smart phones and computers with immediate answers at our fingertips, many people have lost hope on the political arena and "Yes We Can," may now feel like an empty promise. History and time will tell whether actual changes began to occur during this presidency. However, I can help you and clients with challenges facilitate change in their lives and the slogan for you to remember is: "Yes You Can."

Here's some advice on how you can, based on things I have learned over the years in my clinical practice...

In my book, The Wake Up and Dream Challenge, I talk about what I call "Dream Parenting." Most of us have not been fortunate enough to have had my definition of "Dream Parents," parents who support your dreams and aspirations even when they are not the dreams they would have chosen for you to follow. A dream parent will voice their opinion if they disagree with your choice and still give you full support for your endeavors.  Instead of dream parents, any of my clients had "Dream Busters." You know the ones who would not pay for college unless they studied business or law or whatever they imagined their child should become. The ones who found fault in your choices with undermining comments like, you are a great artist, (musician, or whatever you may have had a passion for), but don't quit your day job." (Don't get me wrong, dream busters can be loving parents who are afraid that their children will be disappointed or unable to support themselves if they follow their dreams, however, their children grow to lack self confidence.) Often when a child gives in to this kind of parent's demands or expectations, they end up unhappy, dissatisfied with their life and unable to break free. Even as grown adults with children of their own, they are stuck in unfulfilling lives.

Their inner voice devalues their dreams and undermines their self confidence. They end up questioning their ability to change. Even when they are highly successful and accomplished in the career of their parent's choice, they don't believe in their abilities to do something else. What is often surprising is that they are able to encourage their children, spouses or friends to follow their dreams. This has led me to ask clients what they would advise a friend or family member, if they were struggling with the issue they have brought to me. They know what to tell others, but seem unable to give themselves the same advice.

There is a lot more to therapy than this, however, one simple way that you can begin to overcome a challenge when you feel you don't have the tools, is to imagine that you are a friend facing the exact same challenge. Try having a conversation with yourself as if you were your friend. Address yourself and give yourself the same pep talk you would give a friend. Tell yourself, "You can do it." Become your own, "Dream Parent." Give yourself permission to go ahead and start moving towards your dreams, even if you have some doubts. Model your supportive talk after friends, family or even characters in movies who have shown you how supportive parents encourage their children even when they disagree with their choices.

Even though the "Little Engine That Could," spoke in the first person to himself, i.e., "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can," use the second person in your self talk, "You can do it." It may seem awkward at first, but psychological research has found that addressing yourself in the second person is more powerful and has more lasting results than speaking in the first person.

You can read more about the concept of "Dream Parenting" and how to overcome "Dream Busting," in my book. Have a great week, "Yes, You Can."

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