Cognitive Training

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Keep reaching for the best feeling thought.

We all have an internal voice inside our heads that rambles on every day. It is said that the average person has around 60,000 thoughts per day and 90% of those thoughts are a repeat from the previous day. Our brain is designed for survival and is constantly scanning the environment for potential threats. So what happens when we’re not being chased by tigers? As Dr. Rick Hanson says, it’s ‘paper tiger paranoia’ and we can spend our days and burn our energy trying to evaluate perceived threats. However, we can shift this habit. We can intentionally change our focus and rewire our own brains (neuroplasticity) to search for new things and better feeling thoughts.

In today’s environment of having a ‘mental health crisis’ we don’t have a lot of discussions around cognitive training. We simply say if you cannot manage your emotional health on your own, please seek professional help. Cognitive training is one of the tools you can use now to improve your emotional health. What should you focus on throughout the day? Your to-do list? Your family responsibilities? Making healthy choices? Yet, how many people spend a significant portion of their day focused on their ‘worry du jour’ or ‘today’s offense’ and regurgitate it to anyone who will listen? It’s as if people will seek out any reason to feel bad, then set the dial on repeat. In today’s world, if you’re happy or relaxed, then there must be something wrong with you. It’s time to change that narrative.

This is where cognitive training becomes very helpful. Just like you would have a personal trainer advise you on ways to improve your physical health through movement/resistance, cognitive training is improving your emotional health. You can practice cognitive training on your own or get assistance. Either way, it’s practicing how to think. Not what to think, how to think.

It’s said that some forms of depression are just really good focusing, but in the wrong direction. If you can focus your thoughts on everything wrong, negative, past hurts, etc. then you can focus your thoughts in the opposite direction. You can focus on gratitude, opportunities, and the love you have in your life. You can pivot your thoughts throughout the day; this is shifting your focus.

So how do you practice cognitive training? Easy: keep reaching for the best feeling thought. You know what feels good to you and what makes you happy and/or at ease. When a negative thought arrives in your awareness, you can either unpack it and work through it; or you can simply say ‘later gator’ and revisit it later when you are in a better place. Replace it with something that feels better. You can shift your focus at any time, all day long. You are always in control of your focus.

Pivoting is when you catch yourself feeling bad so you pivot your thoughts to something that feels better. Keep reaching for better feeling thoughts. Thoughts create feelings; Feelings create behavior; Behavior reinforces thoughts. If you want to feel different, you have to think different. When you feel different, you behave different.

The 3 C’s of Cognitive Therapy are:

Catch- Identify the thought that came before the emotion

Check- Reflect on how accurate and useful the thought is

Change- Change the thought to a more accurate or helpful one as needed

You don’t have to police your thoughts all day or avoid emotions you need to work through. Just like working out physically, make sure you’re ready to work on it emotionally if it is something painful you want to work out. If you’re not in the space to work through something, wait until you are. Maybe this issue is not something you need to work through at all. Maybe it is a perceived threat that can be resolved by not giving attention to it. Only you can determine that for yourself. Again, cognitive training isn’t about what to think, it is how to think.

Keep practicing moments of gratitude and pivoting your thoughts throughout the day and you won’t have to suffer through repeated negative thought patterns. If you have never understood that you are in control of your inner voice, now is the time to celebrate that you are always in control. You decide where your focus goes. The same focus that can make you feel bad is the same focus that can make you feel good. This is the power of intention. Be intention about your focus and kind to yourself. Focus on feeling good. Practice thoughts that feel good. Clean up any stinking-thinking and pivot throughout the day towards what makes you feel good. You got this.  We’re rooting for you!

All is well and you are loved,

-DeVon

Stop Apologizing for Having Fun

In a world of critics and cynics, you will constantly be told to stop posting selfies, sharing stories, or bragging about your experiences. It's not bragging if it's the truth and you're enjoying life. It's highlighting how fun life can be if you choose to make it that way. It's showing appreciation for the experiences and people who bring you joy. You don't need to apologize for having fun and enjoying your life.

If someone cannot figure out what makes them happy or constantly creates justifications for their unhappiness, that is not your concern. They must find their own alignment and their own path. Do not dial down your life, your relationships, or your experiences. You inspire others when you share the good stuff! If you're not comfortable with sharing, that's totally fine, but don't STOP sharing just because it makes someone else uncomfortable. What they are really uncomfortable with is being accountable for creating their life. They want pity and attention instead of fun experiences. You cannot change their perceptions nor their behaviors. You can only continue to live your life the way that you want it to be.

There is no need for guilt or explanations either. You are accountable to you so you might as well enjoy your journey. Don't fall for the paradigm that "life is hard and you must struggle for everything" unless that's the type of life you want to live. Follow your own heart, your own excitement, and no apologies are necessary!

- DeVon  

You Are What You Focus On

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind. -Buddha

The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day streaming through their awareness. What you are observing today is based on where your attention and focus were yesterday. The huge movement of mindfulness and meditation is based on attention-training. It is the practice of training your mind to focus on what you want rather than what you do NOT want. Your inner voice is the most frequent voice you hear all day long and it is shaping your life.

This is why coaches start off with the same practice- doing an inventory or a summary of your belief systems and thought patterns. What do you focus on daily? What are your perspectives on this situation or that topic or that relationship? People go to coaches because there is something they want to change in their life. What people are realizing is that it's their own thinking patterns and belief systems that they want to challenge and maybe change. 

Your inner world is creating your outer world based on where your mind rests and where your attention flows. The good news is that you are in absolute control of your own perspectives, beliefs, and focus. The bad news is that you can no longer blame everyone else for things that you want to change. You are not a victim waiting for adversity to happen. You are a creator who is in control of your experience because you are in control of your thoughts, your emotions, and your focus. 

I'm not against therapy if you are dealing with some serious mental health issues; however, what most people are looking for is a partner to coach them through making some life changes. So whether it's career, relationship, health, or any area of your life- this person will focus on the present and setting goals for the future. 

As coaches, we work with clients who want to change something about their life. We help them sift and sort through what it is they want to give them clarity. We may discuss the past to review your current belief systems, but reactivating painful memories from the past is what therapists do, not coaches. As a coach, stories from the past are just that-stories. In the words of Carl Jung "You are what YOU choose to become." Our focus is the present and the future. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? Let's devise an action plan and steps to get there. Coaches help you work on the 'what' and the 'how-to' part of personal development. 

So whether it's your physical health, eating habits, toxic thinking patterns, emotional health, social skills, relationship management, and a variety of other things that people want to change- there are coaches available everywhere.

We are offering online courses as well so that we may reach anyone and everyone who is ready to work on themselves to live their best life possible. 

We love you guys and hope to see you in one of our courses or workshops soon!

With gratitude,

The Team

Letting Go of Your Childhood

I often hear people in their 30's 40's and 50's refer to the way they were treated as a child. A few years ago, I would talk about my childhood too - as if to explain how I became the person I am today. This is such normal behavior that when you make a new friend or date someone new- there's some underlying expectation to discuss your childhood, as if it defines who you are. Your childhood is just a part of your life experience- it's time we stop giving it so much power.

If you're over the age of 25 and still discussing your childhood in a negative way, rather than a positive one- you have some inner work to do. Our relationships, including the ones with our parents (or lack of), are a part of our life experience. They can be our greatest source of learning or our BIGGEST excuse for a lack of self-accountability. How many people do you know today still blaming their childhood for everything wrong in their life? This is the definition of Victimhood, especially for anyone over the age of 18 years old. I've observed that some people are as addicted to talking about their painful childhood (even at the age of 40) as others are addicted to cigarettes. They can't go one single day without it. They've practiced this pattern of memory, pain, victimhood for so long that it defines their whole life. 

Recently someone said to me "That person is damaged because of their childhood." Then another person last week said, "She's that way because of her mother and that is just the way she was raised." We are still buying into this false premise that adults are tethered to their childhood with no ability to change themselves or their perspectives on life. 

As for my own childhood, was it all rainbows and butterflies- of course not. Am I damaged because of anything that happened- absolutely not. My parents did the best that they could with what they had and I am grateful for the many lessons that I learned. I learned independence, resiliency, and the contrast that propelled me to go seek out more. You can always choose to extract the lessons and the good- or focus on all of the bad things and play the victim. Which one do you think is going to give you more freedom? I have a lot of great childhood memories and hilarious stories that I love to share with my own children. These are the things that deserve my energy and attention because they are fond memories worth remembering. These memories feel good and I am grateful for them. 

Memories are just thoughts that you give energy to and the human brain is not very accurate when recalling them. If you have a painful memory that bothers you there is a simple solution- stop thinking about it! You don't have to give energy, time, or focus to any painful memory- YOU choose what you think about all day long. When you're boo-hoo'ing to a friend, therapist, or spouse about your childhood- that is also YOUR choice to talk about it. Ask yourself, "How is keeping this memory active in my vibration serving my highest good?" If it doesn't serve you, stop thinking about it and please stop TALKING about it. YOU and only YOU are keeping it active. This is why a lot of talk therapy has no impact on growth- because people share all of the bad and none of the good. If you went to therapy every week and only shared positive memories, everything you're grateful for, and all of the good things you're manifesting- you would no longer need therapy. YOU and only you are choosing to focus on the bad- then you're seeking out other people assisting you in your plan to only focus on the bad. Make the choice today to stop abusing yourself, stop talking about old things that don't help you, and move in the direction of the things you DO want to manifest.

You are not your parents. You are not your childhood. You are your own individual person who came here to be your most authentic self and enjoy life. You are a pure, positive being at the core of who you are. Holding onto anything from your childhood that feels bad to you is your guidance system letting you know to LET IT GO. If this is a struggle for you then try this exercise by Abraham-Hicks instead: Book of Positive Aspects. Whether it's your mother, father, sibling, or any other family member - list out all of the positive aspects you like about that person and/or any positive memory you can remember. This will help you focus on the good, rather than the bad.

The more you can love your parents and family members for who they are, rather than what you expect them to be- the more peace you will have. When you love people just as they are- you give them permission to be the same way with you. If they are constantly judging, criticizing, or manipulating you- that is a reflection of their own internal struggles, not a reflection of your character.

You chose your parents to guide you in a way that only you can understand. When you can take a step back into the Observer role, those reasons will become much more obvious to you. So whether you have a healthy relationship or a very unhealthy relationship with one or both of your parents- remember that they are NOT responsible for your life- YOU are. They were only meant to create you and give you some basic guidance. Change your expectations of what you thought they should or should not have done for you and you will be able to love your parents just as they are. 

In this Age of Accountability- I challenge you to design the life that you want to live and enjoy. You are not damaged and you are not a victim. You are a creator. You came here to learn, grow, and constantly expand into a better version of yourself. Stop looking around at other people in your life to do your creating for you. YOU are the author of your own story- so be the hero that you already are and let go of anything that no longer serves you.

Peace, love, and happy manifesting,

DeVon 

 

 

A Fulfilling Work Life

What makes a Fulfilling Work Life?

According to The Four Purposes of Life, Dan Millman states:

Knowing your core value is only one facet of self-knowledge and career choice. You also need to measure any potential career against three essential key criteria:

1. Do I find the work satisfying?

2. Can I make good money?

3. Does it provide a useful service?

These questions point to the three essential components of a fulfilling work life. Two out of three may seem sufficient for a while, but all three elements are usually required in a satisfying long-term career. And (along with unfair or incompetent superiors or repressive company policies) the lack of one or more of these 3 basic elements is the primary cause of dissatisfaction and complaints in the workplace (Millman, 2011).

Love Yourself Like Your Dog

I have always thought I was a decent person who could use some improvements in certain areas, but I didn't realize what I was missing was self-love. I've learned from the great teacher, Matt Kahn, how important it is to love myself first. If I don't love myself, I have nothing to give to others. 

People can only love you from the vantage point of how much they love themselves. We oftentimes hold onto the negative feedback from others ("you're difficult, you're selfish, you're -insert any insult here) while ignoring the positive feedback. The psychologists and neuroscientists (see Dr. Rick Hanson's work) explain how our brains are designed to detect threats; however, we are processing things as threats that aren't truly threats. As Dr. Hanson states in his book Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness, our brains have become Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive. Neuroplasticity research has proven repeatedly that we can rewire our brains by changing our thoughts to more positive ones. 

If you are a student of the Law of Attraction then you know that like attracts like- so maintaining a positive thought for 17 seconds or longer will attract more of the same positive thoughts. How do you do that if you're a cynical and self-loathing person constantly scanning the environment for threats and filling your head with negative self-talk? You do it by learning how to love yourself. 

Yes, this may sound cheesy or you don't think it's even possible to rewire your brain for happiness, but it IS possible- you simply have to change your thoughts. It starts by choosing thoughts that feel good to you. According to Abraham-Hicks, all negative emotion is the result of thinking thoughts that are out of alignment with who you really are and how Source (God or whatever name you like) sees you. Positive emotion is the result of you being in alignment and it's why those thoughts feel good to you. Your feelings are your Emotional Guidance System and you should trust them above all else. 

A really good example of how to love yourself is how you feel about your dog. My dog Zoe who passed away last year was my "Fat, Little Angel" for 14 years. A friend once asked me "So she doesn't have to do anything for treats, she just has to exist?" My response was "Yes, I love her just as she is and she doesn't have to do anything to earn my love." Well, that's how Source sees all of us- we are unconditionally loved just as we are, you just have to allow it. It's time to start seeing yourself that way too- and loving yourself just as you are. I loved my dog Zoe despite her desire to kill squirrels, her paws that smelled like corn chips, or her daily tracking of mud through the house. I loved her cute Ewok-like face, her curly tail, her friendly demeanor, her fuzzy paws, and pretty much everything about her. That's how we all should love ourselves- all of our uniqueness, quirky ways, etc. are what we should love about ourselves. 

Stop what you're doing right now and put your hand over your heart. Now, take a deep breath in and out and say "I love you" to yourself. Take another deep breath and send love to your own heart. Now take another deep breath in/out and send love to every cell in your body. Now do it again and send love to all 7 billion people on the planet. This is who you really are. You are a loving, peaceful creator who came here for experience, creation, and expansion.

The love you seek from your partner, parents, siblings, friends, etc. is the love you are not giving to yourself. Love is our highest vibration which is why it feels so good. However, you cannot receive the love you seek if you've not first given it to yourself. It's the equivalent of ordering a package without giving a delivery address. There is so much love in the Universe, but it starts with you allowing it in- by first loving yourself.

Think of your dog (or cat) and how much you love them despite how they look or behave. This is the type of unconditional love to give yourself daily. It doesn't matter what you did or how you look- you are ALWAYS loved because you come from love and you are love. Do not let the critics, cynics, or negative people around you convince you otherwise because the infinite intelligence within you already knows the Truth. Practice loving yourself, being patient with yourself, and reaching for better feeling thoughts about yourself and others and you WILL rewire your brain for happiness which is our natural state. 

Peace and love my friends,

DeVon

 

Learning to Love Yourself

There are many self-help and positive thinking books, articles, and tools you can use to help rewire your brain for more positive thoughts. However, the theme of many self-help books/articles/courses etc. is really learning how to love yourself again. When you truly love yourself, you are able to manifest better health, relationships, and abundance in all areas of your life. 

So how do you silence the harsh inner critic and learn how to love yourself again? Well there are many different ways of doing this. Some people use religious paths, some use cognitive behavioral therapy, and some use self-help books and courses. The path that has worked for me is the path of heart-centered living. That is a very broad term that can cover a variety of things so I will share my own personal path of heart-centered living. 

My research of the human heart started with something my pastor said 2 years ago when I started my spiritual journey when he said, "DeVon you're an intellectual, but if you want to know God, you need to open your heart." So being the researcher that I am, I immediately started researching the human heart. One of the best teams to explain the human heart are the folks at The Heart Math Institute (heartmath.org) and I recommend them as a good starting point to learn heart-centered living. 

Now that I was understanding the physical parts of the human heart, I needed a better understanding of the spiritual and psychological parts of the human heart. Hands down, my favorite teacher/author on this topic is Matt Kahn. He has taught me self-love in so many ways that words cannot possibly describe. Not only do I HIGHLY recommend his book, Whatever Arises Love That, but his YouTube videos (TrueDivineNature.com) are blessings themselves. 

Matt Kahn has many daily practices that you can do so I'll share a couple of them that have worked really well for me.  

1. Put your hand over your heart (or both hands) and take a few slow deep breaths imagining the air flowing in and out of your heart (at least 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out, longer if you can). According to heartmath.org this will also get your heart-rate variability back to where it needs to be for optimum physical/emotional health. 

2. As you are doing your heart centered breathing, send love to your OWN heart. Say out loud to yourself "I Love You" as many times as you need to feel warm and fuzzy inside. This is you getting into alignment with the REAL you. Your true nature is a state of love, appreciation, and peace. Any negative state you find yourself in is you responding to the conditions you're observing or stuck in the stories you're telling yourself about You or other people. They are just stories that can be altered or let go of at your own choosing.  Sending love to your own heart daily will help you release negative thinking patterns because love is a much higher vibration than fear, guilt, shame, etc.

3. If you're near a mirror- look into your own eyes and say "I Love You" as many times until it feels good. This may seem fake because you're busy judging your physical appearances, but the more times you do this, the more you will get into alignment with the Real you. You are not your physical body, you are a beautiful, eternal soul having a physical experience. The more you love yourself, the more you will see it manifest in your physical body. You will make healthier eating choices, do the activities that feel good and keep your body in good health, and your skin will have a natural glow to it. Self-love is the missing component of why so many weight loss plans fail and why the psychology of eating is sweeping by leaps and bounds to real long term healthy lifestyle changes. If you're stuck in a pattern of eating junk, then self-loathing- the way to break out of that cycle is through self-love. The more you love yourself, the better care you'll take of your physical body. 

Practice these heart-centered and self-love activities on a daily basis and watch your attitude towards yourself and others change for the better. Remember that we are all on individual journeys, including YOU. Love yourself and others exactly where you are today and you will be on a path to happiness and in alignment with who you really are. 

In the words of Abraham-Hicks:  “You are free. You are powerful. You are good. You are love. You have value. You have purpose. All is well."

Peace and love my friends, 

DeVon

 

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Career Happiness

Why are 2/3 of people unfulfilled in their work? I have contemplated this question for many years due to working with so many undecided college students. Students are unsure what they want so they settle for a major then finish their degree. After college, they are unable to find a job because they lack experience in their chosen field. So now they are thousands of dollars in debt for a degree in something they aren't passion about.

So what's the solution? This may sound bold coming from a college counselor, but it's time to be brutally honest. You should NOT go to college unless you know which degree you want. If a college degree is the largest purchase of your life outside of your home, doesn't it make more sense to know what you want before buying it?

Culturally, we teach high school teens to move to a college campus and figure it out there. This is a disaster both socially and financially. How motivated would you be to do homework daily/weekly when you don't even know the intended outcome?

The problem stems from parents assuming that high schools are providing college prep services for their students. While most high school guidance counselors want to provide this for their students, most of them spend their time on non-counseling duties (covering lunch shifts, behavioral problems, etc.). In a recent study, 54% of high school guidance counselors said they spend less than 20% of their time on college readiness, selection, and applications for their students. (www.nacacnet.org)

High school guidance counselor recommended ratios are 1 per 250 students. However, many operate at 1 counselor for over 500 students. Some high schools have no guidance counselors at all. When budget cuts happen, these are the first positions to go. We currently have a shortage of high school guidance counselors coupled with counselors performing non-counseling related tasks.

If you are a parent, it's safe to assume that your child is getting little to no assistance with the college selection or application process. This is how so many of us in the educational consulting world end up with so many frustrated parents in our offices.

While we cannot change the staffing of counselors in high schools, what we can do is start preparing teens for college selection/application processes during their sophomore and junior year so they can take their time exploring careers. 

For the best results, students should take some assessments to determine which careers suit them best. Then they should choose their major based on the job requirements. Finally, the student should select a college based off of their chosen major.

This is how a young person goes through the career exploration process at little to no cost while in high school rather than figuring it out at $4,000+ per semester. 

If you're really stuck at a crossroad, you can hire people like me to assist in the process; however, this is something every teen and their parents can do on their own.

Find the career you want first and then take the necessary steps to get there and you will find the career happiness that many people never will.

Learn. Grow. Pay it Forward.

DeVon