You are your greatest resource. You are also your greatest saboteur. And it's the faith you have in yourself that will make or break you. Those were some of the messages that Singaporean personal development trainer Nany Ho had for a group of women in management last Wednesday.
Nancy holds masters degrees in business management and psychology and is a certified trainer in mind management techniques, including hypnotherapy and the Silva Mastermind system. She believes the formula for a successful life is trust in oneself. Treating thought as an energy that manifests life's outcomes, she encouraged participants to cultivate an awareness of negative conditioning, self talk and beliefs that have the power to incapacitate potential. For example, if you believe you aren't good enough, you may find you are passed over for promotion. If you believe everyone's out to get you, they probably will.
Women especially have to cut through a lot of 'noise' created by social conditioning to be their best selves. By understanding how thoughts shape lives, we can turn around areas that are not working. So, the working mother who feels overburdened by her dual career/domestic responsibilities may find that all it takes is a change of attitude to reverse the trend.
Often, negative personality traits are inculcated in childhood. Nancy's 20 years as a hypnotherapist who regresses adults even into infancy in search of cues to their current problems, have taught her that even a mother's well meant warning to her child could impede that child's progress as an adult. Inhibition and reclusiveness in adulthood, for example, could stem from repeated admonitions in childhood to steer clear of strangers. These preconceptions create fear, which in turn causes anxiety, self-doubt and low self-esteem at inappropriate moments, for example, when facing an audience to make a presentation. Although such warnings may be appropriate for the stage of life at which they were introduced, they may cease to serve the purpose in adulthood.
It isn't difficult to turn such reactions around, says Nancy. The first step is to cultivate an awareness of how conditioning – be it by family, friends, or community – has shaped your thoughts and you life. Thereafter, it's a matter of negating the useless, and focusing on the useful. Positive affirmations are used to inculcate new, winning qualities. It's best to have a clear picture of the new you at the outset, so that you have a goal in sight.
Nancy says positive affirmations can be powerful, especially when released at deeper levels of consciousness than the normal wakeful Beta level at which brainwaves oscillate between 13 to 40 cycles per second. There are numerous ways to guide mental activity to deeper states, such as the Alpha level, a more calm, creative and expansive level of thinking, at which brain waves oscillate at 8 to 13 cycles per second. There are progressively deeper levels of mental activity such as Theta and Delta, which should only be accessed under guidance and supervision. Nancy labels the Beta level, the ego or false self as a selfish state of existence.
An understanding of the nature of thought as energy too can help one to move from “depressive” low moods to dynamic “high” moods.
Nancy also introduced participants to a set of tools with which to do the inner work. For example, belly breathing exercises were provided to remove anger and stress. A somewhat abstract exercise was the Mind-Body-Spirit Harmonic Meditation which involved mentally absorbing various colours into the person. Another was to get participants to identify their personality type from among four personality types aligned with the four elemental states: earth, water, fire and air. By identifying their personality type and studying the qualities listed in the others, participants could work on traits they need to cultivate to achieve more balance in life.
Nancy Ho's techniques are not new. Positive thinking, for example, is a subject of renowned self-development guru Norman Vincent Peale's 1952 bestseller "The Power of Positive Thinking", which advocates positive change through repeating affirmations. Peale had his share of 'nay' sayers, but he also had a big following. He sold more than 5 million copies of his book, and wrote several other best sellers. Louise Hayes, author of “You Can Heal Your Life”, turned around a life ridden by abuse and disease into a resounding success through positive affirmations.
Ancient sciences like yoga and qigong, as well as prayer and meditation, help individuals to access inner states of mental awareness. Yoga and qigong address the needs of an individual's vital energy system. Qigong stresses the necessity to breathe from a point just below the navel, known as the dan-tien, said to be the source of primal wisdom and vital energy. Yogic science has a colour theory based on the chakra system that can be used for health and healing. Each of these systems offers a path for individuals to lead a balanced and fully integrated life. Nancy Ho's workshop packaged some of these complexities into a compact corporate seminar, sans spiritual creeds and theories.
So, what do you do when your boss insults you? Refuse to buy into his words, says Nancy. Of course, you'll be angry because you are human. And, anger is an emotion that tends to proliferate when stored: so when possible, toss that toxic stuff out of your system by doing some deep breathing in private. She introduced a breathing technique that involved pounding the chest with a clenched fist, Tarzan style, whilst saying, Aarh! Although this behaviour may seem odd, it is relieving.
Nancy herself is a very good endorsement of her philosophies. Dynamic, charming and humorous, she offered a good dose of inspiration, sans spiritual dogmas.
Did participants find the complexities packaged into one short day useful? One young woman was sceptical. Try putting Nancy in a few of our trishaws at rush hour to see how long she will remain positive, she said. Another woman who had attended the same seminar two years ago gave it a loud public endorsement. An insurance saleswoman said she had diligently put what she had learned to practise two years ago; the result was that she was now a member of the Gold Table, a winner in insurance sales. Having a very supportive boss had also contributed to her success.
As in any seminar, it's what you do with the information learned that matters ultimately. After all, you are your greatest resource, and your greatest saboteur.
-- This article appears only in the web edition. --