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How to Create a Vision

With so much beyond our control after two years of living through a pandemic, it may be difficult to imagine what the future may hold, or if it will be much different from previous months. But learning how to create a vision for the future is crucial at times like these. Different from goal setting, in which you become attached to specific outcomes, visioning is a low-pressure technique that allows you to access your birth-given need for exploration. By directing your creativity towards what you find interesting, and not what others expect of you, visioning can be the most powerful practice you take into 2022, helping you gain more clarity on what you truly want and who you truly are.

Some people choose to use a ‘vision board’ as part of their practice, in which you make a collage of images and words that represent your goals and dreams in life. Author Jack Canfield describes vision boards as a compass or ‘guiding star’ to keep him moving in the direction of his dreams, no matter how many unexpected distractions everyday life brings up. But visioning doesn’t have to include a tangible vision board at all. You might use an online platform like Pinterest to make a digital vision board, or you might simply use a journal to map out your vision through words or drawings. No matter what form you use, it’s important to remember that visioning should be the starting point of a strategic planning process. Once you have a clear picture of what you want, you can figure out the most efficient path to get there.

Hoffman Process teacher Ed McClune likens visioning to exercising a muscle that can lead you to where you really want to be. He writes, “For many of us, the patterns we learned in childhood have us focusing our energy on supplying others with what they want, rather than looking inside for what we deeply long for.” By looking within and asking the right questions, you can learn to ‘add bulk’ to your visioning muscle and become an expert at creating the year and the life that you want.

Follow these steps to start creating a vision for the upcoming year and beyond:

1. Create a Vision

Visioning is based on the freedom of creativity. Give yourself some time and space to reflect. Mindfulness meditation may be useful here. Settling into your body and allowing yourself to relax, ask yourself: ‘What lights me up?’ If you could have things the way you want, how would life be? Consider your relationship to yourself, your relationship to family and friends, what kind of work you’d like to do, and even where you’d like to live. Be careful that your vision is not based on what others expect of you. If you have a pattern of pleasing others, consider using the recycling tool to release this pattern. Then create a vision board that represents your vision or record it in a journal. Place your vision board or journal in a place where you can see it often.

2. Become Aware of Current Reality

Simply having a vision will not make your dreams come true. If your vision is to sail around Australia, for example, do you have a boat? What kind of boat is it? Do you have a boating license? Allow yourself to get specific and ground your vision in where you currently stand. Remember that your current reality always changes as you progress towards your vision. Can you see obstacles as mere stepping stones on your way to making your vision a reality?

3. Hold Your Vision in Consciousness

Just as you may need concrete things like a boat or a license to achieve a vision of sailing around the continent, what do you need to embody? You may have to let go of patterns that hold you back or adopt new patterns to get there. In holding your vision and your current reality in your consciousness, ask yourself how you are called to grow and evolve to embody your vision.

4. Activate Your Own Will

The last step is to commit to your vision. As W.H. Murray, Deputy Leader of the 1951 Scottish Expedition to climb Mt. Everest, famously wrote, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.” You must trust that existence will support your vision even if you have obstacles along the way.

The Hoffman Process helps you to get a sense of your vision at the very beginning of the Process. You’re also able to achieve more clarity on our current reality and recognize how your patterns affect your reality. At the end of the Process, you will review your vision again to ensure it was not influenced by a pattern of pleasing others.

Find out more about how the Hoffman Process can help you create a vision for your future.

This article was contributed by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram

References:
www.jackcanfield.com/blog/how-to-create-an-empowering-vision-book
www.hoffmaninstitute.org/create-your-vision

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A Case for Compassion

Recent surveys by Relationships Australia indicate that the Christmas period is a time of increased stress for many families. While finances and work certainly contribute to this stress, family time can also be rife with old tensions that dampen the holiday spirit. One antidote to this tension is compassion. While it may be difficult to muster compassion for difficult individuals in our lives, the rewards are plentiful. According to Paul Gilbert, M.D., head of the Mental Health Research Unit at the University of Derby, we can begin to deliberately cultivate compassion by “learning to cultivate compassionate attention, compassionate thinking, compassionate feeling, and compassionate behavior.” Not only can this compassion help to strengthen our relationships, but it can also improve our own mental health. Explore the many benefits of compassion, how to start cultivating it for difficult people, and how to find self-compassion during trying times.

How Compassion Impacts Mental Health

The literal meaning of compassion is “to suffer together.” It is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s plight or predicament, and you feel motivated to alleviate their suffering. Research has proven that when you feel compassion, your heart rate slows down, you produce the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and parts of your brain linked to empathy and pleasure are activated, which often results in the desire to care for others. But compassion for others doesn’t just benefit them. It can also have significant effects on your mental health. Brain scans show that during compassionate meditation your mind wanders less and tends to focus more positively on the present moment. And by activating the pleasure circuits of the brain, compassion leads to lasting increases in self-reported happiness. There are physical benefits, too. By boosting the positive effects of the Vagus Nerve, compassion has the ability to lower your risk of heart disease.

How to Find Compassion for Difficult People

Knowing the benefits of compassion is one thing. Cultivating it for difficult people is another. Surprisingly, this work begins by taking responsibility for your own suffering. Before you can feel compassion for a person who triggers you, you must become aware of why you become activated in the first place. When you feel this activation happening, it’s crucial to zoom out from the sensations that arise and acknowledge them fully. Find a private space to verbalize your suffering: ‘I am frustrated with this person,’ or ‘I feel judged by this person.’ Or you can simply visualize these statements. When you can verbalize or visualize your suffering, you are able to deactivate the amygdala, a brain region involved in negative arousal and physiological responses typical of fear and anxiety states. Once you have identified the negative feelings that have arisen, you can take responsibility for them. After all, one important maxim used in the Hoffman Process is, “While other people may trigger us, our reactions are 100% our responsibility to deal with.”

Once you have taken responsibility for your own emotions, you can turn your attention to the individual. If they are behaving in a way that is upsetting, such as criticizing you or acting passive aggressively, is it possible to see them as an emotional child? What are their wounds? What needs do they have? Do they find it difficult to ask for help? Do they strive for perfection as a plea for respect? By seeing this difficult person as an emotional child unaware of how to meet their own needs, it’s easier to start opening the door to compassion.

While it may be tempting to hide until the season is over or take a solo trip to avoid running into people you know, suppressing uncomfortable emotions may do more harm than good. In an eye-opening study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester, researchers found that people who bottled up their emotions increased their chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30%, with their risk of being diagnosed with cancer increasing by 70%. Allowing yourself to face difficult emotions (and the people who provoke them!) may just be the best route to long-lasting health.

Practicing Fierce Self-Compassion

The holiday season is also a wonderful time to practice self-compassion, something that may fall to the wayside when striving to buy the perfect gifts, cook the perfect meals, and make it through family functions unscathed. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Fierce Self-Compassion, when we hold our pain with loving, connected presence, we start to transform and heal. Her theoretical model of self-compassion includes three core components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness of suffering. Being able to soothe and comfort yourself when in pain is an admirable act of self-kindness. Recognizing that suffering is part of the shared human condition allows you to loosen your grip when things don’t go according to plan. And mindfulness allows you to hold and validate your pain with open-hearted acceptance. In the spirit of giving, don’t forget to give back to yourself. Compassion might just become your favourite new tradition.

Find out more about how the Hoffman Process can help you work through family conflicts and embrace change.

This article was contributed by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram

References

  1. www.relationships.org.au/document/december-2018-social-isolation-at-christmas-time
  2. www.greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_turn_brain_anger_compassion
  3. www.greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition
  4. www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20851735
  5. www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00771/full
  6. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939772
  7. www.self-compassion.org/women-fierce-self-compassion
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Freedom vs Obligation

With ongoing debates on vaccines, masks, political preferences and beyond, the world may seem as divisive as ever these days. One scroll through your social media feed and you’re likely to come across a heated exchange between individuals who are sure they are on the “right” side and that their opponent is completely wrong. In terms of the pandemic, freedom and obligation seem to be at war. One side sees mandates as an infringement on personal freedoms. The other side sees mandates as necessary obligations that uphold the common good. Read on to find out why divisiveness isn’t the best answer and how to find the middle place.

Masks Debates & the Spanish Flu

Divisiveness is nothing new, not even when it comes to pandemics and masks. During the Spanish flu outbreak, Victorians in 1919 Melbourne faced the same debates they do today. Some thought masks were ineffective, while others argued for their widespread use. Some stayed home as lockdown orders demanded, yet others continued working, often hiding their illness to do so.

In the U.S., the ‘Anti-Mask League‘ held rallies denouncing mask ordinances, decrying what they viewed as an unconstitutional violation of their civil liberties. Men, women, and children who appeared in public without masks were labeled ‘dangerous slackers’ and ordered to pay hefty fines. Deeply ingrained ideals of individual freedom and ubiquitous misinformation only seemed to fuel the divisiveness, much as it does today.

In Defense of the Common Ground

While there is nothing inherently wrong with living according to what one sees as their obligations or choosing instead to live by one’s own self-determination, either of these scenarios can be taken too far. When we become too identified with our opinions and ‘our side’ to the point of shutting others out and reserving our compassion for only those who agree with us, the divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’ deepens. Instead of choosing ‘us’ or ‘them’, would it be possible to choose a place of compassion and empathy in even the most difficult situations for even the most triggering individuals? After all, one of the core teachings of the Hoffman Process is that while other people may trigger us, our reactions are 100% our responsibility to deal with.

How the Hoffman Process Heals Divisiveness

During the Process, participants learn a number of useful tools and practices that enable them to become more mindful so that they can respond to triggers from a place of conscious choice. In identifying negative patterns and tracing them back to their origin (caregivers), participants are able to shift their perspective by realizing and understanding how these patterns have been learned and how their caregivers also learned these patterns from the generation before them. Participants then have the opportunity to cultivate empathy and compassion for those who may have disappointed them in the past.

This compassion is a mere starting point, though. Compassion for one’s parents expands so that participants also learn to have compassion for those around them, even those who follow a different path. In walking in another person’s footsteps, they become open to new ideas from someone else’s point of view. This creates an openness that didn’t exist before. Understanding and having compassion for another’s experience doesn’t correlate with changing one’s own stance, but it does allow us to stay in relationship, holding this difference, rather than creating more divisiveness, which ultimately corrodes community. While today’s news headlines may seem eerily similar to those from the early twentieth century, history doesn’t always have to repeat itself.

Find out more about the Hoffman Process.

This article was contributed by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram

References:

  1. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/masks-lockdowns-fines-and-a-devastating-second-wave-a-century-on-history-repeats-20200723-p55er1.html
  2. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/mask-resistance-during-a-pandemic-isnt-new-1918-many-americans-were-slackers
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Accepting Criticism

While no one wants to hear that they’ve made a mistake or they’ve let someone down at home or at work, accepting criticism is an important life skill that promotes growth. Criticism, when given constructively, allows individuals to learn new things, perform better at tasks, and see themselves or their work from a new perspective. This is also true for leaders who may be wary of receiving critical feedback from their subordinates. In fact, studies show that leaders who ask for critical feedback are seen as more effective by their superiors, employees, and peers.

There’s another reason why learning to take criticism well matters, especially if you’re a workplace leader. It allows those around you to feel comfortable being themselves. It fosters psychological safety for all employees. Being free to give feedback to one’s subordinates as well as one’s superiors is also a catalyst for creativity and collaboration in the workplace.

Though research from the Harvard Business Review indicates that people generally want to receive feedback as long as it is given constructively, some individuals go into opposition when challenged because they are too identified with their opinions. Being challenged feels like a threat to their sense of belonging. Receiving criticism can trigger shame-based thinking in which the person hearing feedback feels inadequate or not good enough. To interrupt this shame-based thinking, we’ve rounded up a number of ways a person can learn how to take feedback without getting defensive, whether they’re a new employee trying to rise to the top or already in a leadership role.

1. Have Self-Awareness

If you find yourself triggered by critical feedback and reacting defensively, ask yourself what this defensiveness is really about. Do you feel embarrassed? Ashamed? Angry? Defensiveness is a way of distancing yourself from these feelings and attempting to protect yourself. Have you always reacted this way to critical feedback? Is defensiveness a pattern?

2. Regulate Toxic Shame with Mindfulness

When triggered by criticism, compassionate mindfulness can help you regulate any toxic shame that may arise. This might feel like needing to break eye contact or a contraction at the heart center. Take a moment to place your hand where you feel stiffness or resistance, witness it fully, and then watch it dissipate. Regulating uncomfortable feelings will help interrupt or prevent a defensive reaction.

3. Develop Cognitive Empathy

Giving criticism can be just as difficult as receiving it because both individuals fear confrontation. Take a moment to develop empathy for the person giving you critical feedback. Put yourself in their shoes and realize that you both play a role in making the interaction constructive.

4. Create a Positive Environment

Creating a safe and positive environment in which the people around you feel liked and respected helps to promote a healthy exchange of critical feedback. This is especially important for leaders. If their subordinates do not feel respected, then they will not feel allowed to express how they truly feel in the workplace, even when they notice something that needs to be corrected in order to help the business succeed.

5. Look for Flaws in the System

When there is an issue at work, it’s important to look at the system rather than finding an individual at fault. If the system is flawed, then bigger adjustments need to be made so that all team members can thrive.

How We Give Criticism Is Equally Important

Giving criticism is just as important (and challenging!) as learning how to accept feedback without defensiveness. Practising nonviolent communication as defined by Marshall Rosenberg is an integral component, which entails a certain level of emotional literacy. In practising nonviolent communication, people giving critical feedback first identify the needs that are not being met and verbalizing these needs appropriately. For instance, if there is a team that is not performing well, the leader may be frustrated in their need for respect and their need for being seen as competent. Once the leader understands what he or she needs, they can use nonviolent communication to come up with a doable solution, and respectfully make a request from the team.

How the Hoffman Process Helps

During the Hoffman Process, participants are able to engage in inner work that breaks down shame-based thinking so they can accept criticism with an open mind. They also develop the ability to distinguish constructive feedback from destructive feedback. Participants learn that while other people may trigger them, their reaction is 100% theirs to deal with. In becoming less identified with toxic shame-based thinking, they learn that their self-worth has nothing to do with what other people say and cannot be upended by critical feedback.

This article was contributed by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram

References:
www.jstor.org/stable/256442
www.hbr.org/2015/04/the-assumptions-that-make-giving-tough-feedback-even-tougher
www.cnvc.org/learn-nvc/what-is-nvc

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Healing the Father Wound

When we have unresolved issues with our fathers, the annual arrival of Father’s Day can provoke a range of emotions in us—many of them unsettling. Whether you had an absent father, an emotionally distant one, or a strict and overbearing father, you may have found yourself affected by what is known as the father wound. While much has been written about the mother wound, the trauma that is passed down from mother to child when she is not emotionally attuned or available to her child, the father wound is just as evident. Having a complicated or traumatic relationship with your father, or no relationship at all, can have a profound impact on your self-esteem and your relationships far into the future.

According to Otto Kelly, founder of the father mentoring organization Dad Excellence Academy, the father wound also has a global impact. He said in his TedX Carson City talk, “Every single social ill that we’re dealing with is directly or indirectly related to fatherlessness.” Studies have shown that children with absent fathers are at increased risk for substance use, school misconduct, and anti-social behaviour. With 79.3% of Australian families consisting of single mothers, the father wound due to absenteeism is rampant. But fatherlessness doesn’t just have to mean having an absent dad. As U.K.-based psychologist Mari Kovanen explains, there is also pain in not having a “good enough” father, and such pain could lead to low confidence, anxiety, depression, anger and rage, too rigid boundaries, too loose boundaries, and having relationships with emotionally unavailable partners. Whatever your scenario entailed, there are steps you can take to begin healing the father wound.

How Social Conventions Inform the Father Wound

Before the Industrial Revolution, a father would often mentor his offspring, encouraging children to work alongside him while they learned whatever training or wisdom he had to impart. However, with the advent of factories and booming commerce, fathers were mostly driven out of the home and expected to provide and protect. This turned the mentoring father into a mysterious, mostly absent force. The omission of his attention and his affections would have a lasting effect on his child’s sense of belonging and security in the world.

How to Heal the Father Wound

During the Hoffman Process, participants take a systematic approach to healing the wounds that stem from their parents. This approach allows them to unpack the intergenerational patterns that affect their behaviours and express frustration in a contained, safe space. Along with recognizing the resentments they may carry over having an absent, critical, or abusive father, they also have the opportunity to cultivate compassion for him despite his failures. In the Hoffman Process, participants learn to:

Label Behaviours and Consequences

By identifying the behaviours and consequences of our father’s parenting style, we can see more clearly what needs to change. What kind of organising principles have been formed in response to him? When we notice that our behaviours are a result of being parented a certain way, we learn that we are not to blame for the patterns we received from our parents or the toxic shame we carry. This allows us to see more possibility for the future—that we can change and adopt new patterns that will better serve us.

Demystify Father

By seeing the world through our father’s eyes, we are able to understand his own wounds, which were inherited from his parents or caregivers. Envisioning our father’s suffering allows us to gain a new perspective on who he is as a whole person and how he adopted his own patterns.

Challenge Father

Using expressive work, the Hoffman Process allows us to voice frustration and anger, moving beyond how these emotions were socialized in our homes. Being permitted to express ourselves authentically without being silenced allows for an emotional breakthrough. This can be incredibly healing for those of us who had critical or violent fathers who were too frightening to confront. During the Process, we are able to safely go into adversity and finally ask for ‘what’s just’.

Move into Compassion

Furthering the demystification process of father, we are able to see who father was before he was wounded by his parents or caregivers and express compassion for his inner child. We are able to step out of the transference trap where we look at the world through the authoritarian lens. We are then able to appreciate father as a human being and restore ourselves to the position of protector and provider in our own lives.

After this healing journey is complete, the Hoffman Process guides participants in taking concrete action to further heal the effects of the father wound on relationships. By adopting healthier patterns and behaviours, participants are empowered to feel more at home in the world, with a newfound sense of belonging and agency.

This article was contributed by by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram

References:

  1. www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTu5sFCl9xk
  2. www.cambridge.org/core/journals/children-australia/article/abs/father-absence-exploring-the-experiences-of-young-people-in-regional-western-australia/9B6EFC323414506A6F208F530E1BE348
  3. www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-status-families/latest-release

www.drmarikovanen.co.uk/8-consequences-of-the-father-wound-on-well-being-and-relationships/

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What Is the Mother Wound?

Mother’s Day can be a time fraught with anxiety for those of us who have unresolved issues with our mothers. Whether your mother was highly critical, emotionally absent, or ambivalent with her affections, different mothering styles have the potential to produce what is known as “the mother wound,” often defined as the trauma passed down from parent to child when the mother is not emotionally attuned or available to her child. This is often referred to as “under-mothering” and may show up in a number of ways, from low self-esteem to a lack of emotional awareness to an inability to self-soothe.

Some experts believe that the mother wound stems from patriarchal conventions. Bethany Webster, author of Discovering the Inner Mother, defines the mother wound as “the pain of being a woman passed down through generations of women in patriarchal cultures.” In such a society, women are more likely to internalize the belief that they are second-class citizens and unknowingly pass this idea on to their daughters. They also pass on the dysfunctional coping mechanisms that are used to process that pain. However, while the mother wound is often associated with the mother-daughter relationship, we believe sons are just as susceptible and that attachment theory plays a significant role.

How Attachment Styles Inform the Mother Wound

British psychologist John Bowlby described attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” It refers to the bond we form with our first primary caregiver and begins as early as in the womb. A crucial theme of attachment theory is that the primary caregivers who are present and responsive to a child’s needs allow the child to develop a secure sense of self. In terms of the mother wound, when a mother instills a sense of trust and security in her child, the child will use this as a base from which to explore the world. When the child does not find a sense of trust and security in their relationship with their mother, they are more likely to acquire the mother wound and pass it on to the next generation. Different attachment styles have different outcomes (and may be displayed by either parent):

  • Secure attachment: A child with secure attachment to their mother will most likely become an adult who feels confident in his or her relationships. Connection, trust, empathy, and independence are major themes in this attachment style. Parents who adopt this style are more responsive to their children’s needs.
  • Ambivalent attachment: In ambivalent attachment, a child learns that their mother is unreliable and untrustworthy in her availability. As a child they may have appeared extremely distressed when their parent was not present, but then not entirely comforted upon the parent’s return. A person with ambivalent attachment to their mother may fall in love easily as an adult but have trouble maintaining relationships in the long run.
  • Chaotic attachment: A child with chaotic attachment to their mother does not trust that she can meet his or her needs, leading to a lack of interpersonal bonds as an adult. Parents who adopt this style display unpredictable or intense patterns and behaviours, leading children to develop an extreme fear of rejection that clashes with a tendency to push others away. They may mimic the explosiveness, unpredictability, or maybe even the abuse they experienced as children.
  • Avoidant/dismissive attachment: Avoidant or dismissive attachment often stems from parents who are emotionally distance or strict, leading the child to avoid social and romantic relationships later in life. While some children who had this attachment style with their mother may appear confident and self-sufficient as adults, even going so far as to say they don’t value close relationships, they may secretly long for intimacy without knowing how to get it.

How to Heal the Mother Wound

In the Hoffman Process, we use a systematic approach to healing the wounds that arise from insecure attachment styles, including the mother wound. In a step-by-step process, participants explore how intergenerational patterns play a role in the behaviours they perpetuate as adults. There are opportunities to safely express anger towards their mothers (and other caregivers) as well as cultivate compassion for them. In the Hoffman Process, participants learn to:

Express Anger Towards Mother

Unless we recognize the anger we feel towards our mother for an unresolved childhood wound, we cannot heal it. The Hoffman Process provides a safe space in which to accept and verbally express resentment, feelings of abandonment, disappointment, and in some cases, hatred towards mother. Simply being able to take ownership of this anger is a powerful step in breaking free of it.

Envision Mother’s Suffering

By seeing the world through our mother’s eyes, we are able to gain a new perspective about the wounds that were passed down to her. Envisioning our mother’s suffering allows us to cultivate newfound compassion for her, especially her inner child.

Acknowledge the Bond

After becoming more aware of our mother’s suffering, we are more open to acknowledging the full picture of our mother as a person. She is human like us, composed of “good” and shadow qualities. We realize we are linked to our mother through our suffering, bonded by similar wounds.

Use Mortality as a Tool for Urgency

The Hoffman Process uses mortality as a tool to create urgency in repairing the breakdowns of parental bonds. Through specific exercises that face us to acknowledge the possibility of death, we are propelled into deeper emotional understanding and a willingness to heal.

Appreciate

Having a more complete picture of mother and an urgency to repair one’s bond to her, we’re suddenly open to appreciation. We are able to look at patterns and behaviours that were once challenging or harmful and see the positive intentions behind them. For instance, if our mother came out of poverty and became materialistic later in life, we see her materialism as a way to safeguard her children from the poverty she once knew. If our mother was highly critical, leading us to become self-critical, we can appreciate that our self-criticism is a form of self-reflection.

After the inner work is complete, the Hoffman Process guides participants in taking concrete action in their relationships to prove their mother wound is repaired. Through healthier patterns and behaviours, participants are less inclined to pass the mother wound on to their own children, disrupting intergenerational pain through awareness and empathy.

References:

This article was contributed by by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram

  1. www.bethanywebster.com/blog/mother-wound-healing
  2. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK305114
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Overcoming Resistance to Change

Research shows that one of the biggest barriers Australian leaders face with their employees is resistance to change. But this resistance is not confined to the workplace. In fact, we are hardwired to resist change as the amygdala part of our brain interprets changes as threats, thus releasing the hormones for fear, fight or flight. The problem is that while this response was necessary for our ancestors who needed protection from predators, it doesn’t always serve us today. With saber-toothed tigers long extinct, our amygdala can be self-defeating, robbing us of the chance to see change as an opportunity for growth.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman coined the term “amygdala hijacking” in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ to refer to this immediate and intense emotional reaction that is out of proportion to the situation. When the amygdala overreacts habitually to so-called threats (which may not actually be threats), a person can feel unhealthily stressed and anxious. But learning coping mechanisms and planning ahead can positively influence how we respond in times of change so that stress and fear don’t lead to resistance. Whether you are facing a career shift or kicking a toxic habit, here are some methods of managing resistance to change.

Reframe anxiety as excitement

When your first response to change is anxiety, one shift that can be helpful is reframing this anxiety as excitement. This is not too far-fetched if you consider that the physiological characteristics of anxiety and excitement are similar: elevated heart rate, butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, etc. In a 2014 study, Harvard professor Alison Wood Brooks found that when people verbally labeled their anxiety as excitement, they didn’t just feel more excited, they also performed better.

Develop mindful self-compassion

One of the reasons you may fear change is a lack of confidence in your own abilities. According to Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, mindful self-compassion can help reinstate this confidence and soothe fear of failure. They explain, “[S]elf-compassion is a reliable source of inner strength that confers courage and enhances resilience when we’re faced with difficulties. Research shows self-compassionate people are better able to cope with tough situations like divorce, trauma, or chronic pain.” One suggestion they give to develop mindful self-compassion is to write a letter to yourself as if you were writing to a beloved friend facing the same obstacle. Return to the letter frequently to comfort you when fear arises again.

Become aware of inner dialogue

Though a certain amount of worry and analysis can be helpful in times of transition, leading you to make a SWOT analysis or pros/cons list, you should become aware of how much of this worry is a result of your critical inner voice. Psychologist Lisa Firestone, author of Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, says “The critical inner voice represents an internal enemy and may be thought of as a threat to self-actualization and self-fulfillment.” She suggests utilising a voice therapy technique in which you voice your negative thoughts in the second person (e.g. “She feels incompetent” instead of “I feel incompetent.”). This will help you become aware of negative inner dialogue and access the hostility that underlies this self-defeating system.

Ask for help

Overcoming resistance to change may require outside help, but what if you’re also resistant to assistance? Dr. Mark Goulston explains that this resistance can be about a lot of things¬—reluctance about burdening other people, grandiosity, a martyr complex—but it can be overcome. By discovering what is within and outside of your control and getting clear about what type of help you require, you can break through resistance to assistance and resistance to change at the same time, creating a lasting impact on your life.

Learn about how the Hoffman Process can help you identify self-defeating behaviour and open you up to new ways of thinking, behaving and feeling. Through a visceral embodied journey, you will learn to recover your natural self-confidence and self-esteem and respond to life’s situations from a place of conscious choice.

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Understanding The Enneagram

“Senior Hoffman Facilitator and Director of Hoffman Program Design, Jutka Freiman is a highly sought-after psychotherapist and group facilitator, based in Sydney, Australia. For over 30 years she has worked extensively both locally and internationally using an integrative, expansive approach including Inner Child work, Attachment Therapy, Enneagram, Gestalt, Somatic Experiencing, Bereavement Therapy and Psychodrama to guide her clients toward healing. She brings to her work a passion for the creative individual and collective experience, believing both to be an expression of the inner being and a magnificent tool for healing.”

What is an Enneagram Type?

The Enneagram is a doorway into the psychology, emotions, and behaviour of ourselves and others. As an internationally accredited Enneagram therapist and trainer, here Jutka writes about the transformational potential of the Enneagram when used as a system of spiritual enquiry.

The Enneagram system has a broad range of applications being used as both a practical tool in any context and a tool of spiritual enquiry with the depth to offer transformational insight like no other.

We are all born with a unique temperament. Those of us who have had more than one child or have been close to different children from the same family will know that each child is born with their own unique gifts, sensitivities, needs and basic temperament.

This basic temperament is known as our essential nature. When attuned to under optimal circumstances, our essential nature will mature, flourish and reach its potential. However, most people did not experience optimal attunement and all of us were subject to challenges in our environment, some to a much greater extent than others. These challenges may have compromised our physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual development or they may be reflected in security, social or relationship challenges. What then occurs is that the aspect of the original essential nature goes into the background and our personality (our Duality – Intellect and Child) develops patterns as a coping strategy for survival and satisfaction. This compensated personality is called the Type Structure.

The Type Structure veils the potential of our essential nature by having us focus on certain aspects of life and not others, distorting our thinking, feeling and behaviour. It creates in us, often unconsciously, a state of mistaken identity in a biased world, corrupting our sense of self and the attitudes we hold towards others.

Enneagram

The Nine Temperaments

There are nine primary styles of temperament within the Enneagram which correspond to nine primary defensive structures. These different temperaments and defences are often why children in the same family, report very different perspectives on their childhoods. These Type Structures, once identified, help us to see the patterns we are most likely to continue to be impacted by.

The Enneagram teaches us that awareness of our behaviour or the what we do, doesn’t necessarily facilitate long term change. It’s why we do what we do that is fundamental to transformational change.

For example, the Type Two and the Type Nine will both want to be helpful and can tend to over-function in relationship. The Type Two is motivated by the need to be indispensable, whereas the Type Nine is motivated by creating peace. So, when we seek transformational change, we can go to the core of the issues that drive us (need for peace at all cost, or the need to be indispensable) and work from the inside out. It is having an awareness of these finer distinctions that illuminates the particular issues we need to focus on for our transformational process and supports us in truly understanding not only ourselves but the others in our world.

Each Enneagram type also has unique gifts and talents. For example, the Type Nine, at their best has an extremely empathetic temperament. They move towards peace through consensus in relationships and are the least competitive and judgmental of all the types. But when the defensive patterns (the negative duality) or structures are strong, the Type Nine will become conflict avoidant, discount their own needs for the sake of peace with their compliance being be rooted in inauthenticity.

Using the Enneagram as a nuanced system of enquiry allows identification of these defensive structures, brings our awareness to very specific patterns and can begin to relax them so that we can move towards our highest potential. Growth is inspired by both knowing the best of who we are and by removing the veils to that.

For a deep dive into the Enneagram, The Hoffman Process offers The Retreat – a five-day journey enabling you to transform, transcend and develop your spiritual practice, deepen into ‘being’ and move toward even greater awareness of negative patterns and greater freedom from them. The Retreat is designed and facilitated by Jutka Freiman and Hoffman Australia Director, Volker Krohn.

Jutka also offers Enneagram sessions for individuals and couples from her private practice in Sydney. Contact Jutka via her website www.jutkafreiman.com.au

What’s Next?

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

Related Articles on our website

Advocate for men’s mental health, GQ Editor Dylan Jones raises awareness on men’s plight with mental health issues in his candid account of his personal experience of the Hoffman Process
Katy Perry talks to Vogue Magazine about her Hoffman Process experience
Dr Joan Borysenko discusses the Benefits of the Hoffman Process, the limbic brain system connection and the scientific study by the University of California
Dr. J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute, Canada discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure

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Dr Joan Borysenko Discusses the Benefits of the Hoffman Process

Each one of us looks back and you can say, I remember the time when something fell into place… and at that moment, what really happens is that you’re free from something that was holding you back, and there’s a sense of increased potential, just like you’re more present, you’re able to be here now because there’s not some hook grabbing you into the past or something from the future that may not be the real thing that you want to do but you’re pulled toward it because you think you have to. To be free from that is an amazing thing.

Dr Joan Borysenko is a Process graduate who did the Hoffman Process over 20 years ago while she was running a behavioural medicine clinic at Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. Dr Joan discusses how she was often asked why she did the Process and explains why she decided to do the Hoffman Process even though she was happily married and living a full life with a fulfilling career.

“What people don’t recognise I think is that people can have tremendous outer success and still be struggling inside. One of the most amazing things in the Hoffman Process was the experience of compassion, for your mother, for your father, for any anybody else in your family of origin and particularly the sense of compassion for yourself.

And that sense of compassion for myself… what it did, I realised and how it’s grown how over 20 years, is that I don’t judge myself so harshly anymore and because of that, I’m free of a lot of that ‘I, me, mine’ self-referential behaviour. And much more free to express the compassion of my deeper spiritual self, it’s just a normal part of life.”

Watch the full video…

… one of the things that I’ve heard about the Hoffman Process literally from dozens of people who finished it, people that I’ve referred, and I’ve experienced myself is that amazing sense of freedom

Dr Joan Borysenko discusses the study published by the University of California which looked to see how people felt a year after they did the Hoffman Process and how the benefits they received during the Process continued to deepen over time.

“Just a few years ago, a peer reviewed study was published, that was research that was done at the University of California with a fairly large group; a hundred Hoffman Graduates and a hundred controls… and after you do a week where you go away, you invest your time and money, you’re always going to feel better. But what was great about this study is it looked to see how are people feeling a year later, what was the residual effect.

And here’s what was found; that directly after the study as one would hope, people felt a great increase in wellbeing, a decrease in negative affect or feelings and a tremendous amount of increase in compassion. However, here’s the best part, a year later, those positive trends continued; they didn’t diminish or decay over time, they actually grew over time.

Hoffman does something unique, that other personal growth programs and most therapies really don’t do and that is not only does it address the kind of rational things that hold us back; what are the patterns that you learn from your parents. What did you do like they did so that you could get love. What didn’t you do; how do you define yourself in relation to those. Those are rational patterns and its interesting to see them. But the fact of the matter is, most of how we behave and how we feel is not conscious, its not rational. It comes from the other than conscious mind and it’s seated in the amygdala of the limbic system that gives rise to emotions. When we speak in words, it affects the hippocampus of the limbic system where there’s memory, but almost no therapy really addresses the unconscious, where things are stored, in the form of images, in the form of feelings.

And the use of ritual in the Hoffman Process that evokes very deep feelings and that completely bypasses the conscious mind and goes for where the patterns are actually stored makes it supremely effective, much more so than many therapies. I know people have got more out of one week in the Hoffman Process than we had out of 10 years of therapy, so as far as I’m concerned, unique that way, in that it addresses both sides of the brain and also the hippocampus and the amygdala in the limbic system. So it’s a full emotional, rational, spiritual experience.”

To read the full study by the University of California, visit this page ‘The Science Behind the Process’ on our website to download the pdf ‘University of California Grant Research Study (2003)’.

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists