Can You “Imagine” Your Way to Future Success?

The short answer to “Can You Imagine Your Way to Future Success?” is that you can.  But keep reading.  Let’s think about how to do it and why it works.

As I have written many times before, each of us is a story.  Our narratives began with our births (if not before).  The chapters that have unfolded since depended on a combination of what we brought to this lifetime—be it DNA, soul or both—and the ensuing experiences we encountered.  The major influences on our narratives likely included moments of great happiness and success and warmth and moments of disappointment, pain and disappointment.  Our stories continue today—into this very moment (which, I am privileged to say, includes you reading this blog at this very time).

The fact that each of us is a story means that we can understand far more about ourselves and repair lots of emotional damage and set the stage for far greater success in life by understanding the past.  This includes success in one’s personal and professional lives.  But it also means that we can envision powerful, future chapters of our life stories and that the envisioning them can be part of manifesting them.

Why would imagining yourself achieving what you want and need actually make those things more likely?  First, remember what your mind does when it writes a story or thinks about how to solve a problem or envisions the next steps to build a business.  Your mind imagines the steps to take and the possible results.  Those steps that seem connected to the narrative moving in the most positive direction are the ones that almost always win out (barring undue anxiety, for instance, about deploying them).  And bringing the steps to mind is part of the momentum necessary for them to unfold.

That may seem obvious, but it is a kind of miracle.  Bringing the next chapters of your life story to mind begins the process of them actually unfolding.

Now, take the process one step further.  By directing the process of imagination to envision the most powerful possible pages and chapters of your life story, the “writing” of those pages and chapters can be said to have already begun.  The path forward now exists.  Take just one step in that direction, and the path has become even more real.

Let’s allow that forces like intuition and synergy and synchronicity also exist in the universe (and I believe they do).  The moment you envision moving toward the goals you most treasure and just begin moving in their direction, your intention goes “viral.”  I don’t think this is pie-in-the-sky, New Age thinking.  I think it is the way God (or the Universe, if you wish) actually works.

In this regard, the words of the great Scottish explorer W.H. Murray again come to mind:

Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initative or creation, there is one elementary truth…that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves. too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones’s favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed would have come his way.

Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.

If you are ready to imagine your way to future success, I am ready to help to:

  • Clear away hurdles in the way of you identifying your most treasured goals
  • Defeat resistance to moving forward toward those goals
  • Join you in “cowriting” the next chapters of your life story, in which you reach those goals

Ready?  Why else would you be reading this blog?

Need a little push?  [email protected]  978-462-1125.  : )

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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Most Relationships Can Be Fixed

Most relationships can be fixed.  That sounds like a bold statement, right?  Well, having worked to strengthen or resurrect well over 5,000 personal and professional relationships during the past 25 years, I promise you it is true.

Every relationship is a co-authored story.  That includes marriages, friendships, business partnerships and employer-employee relationships.  The tricky part is that the co-authored story is written by writers who each have a “back story,” meaning a life history.  The experiences each has had can and will influence the new relationship—sometimes favorably and sometimes not, sometimes rationally and sometimes not.

Think of a Venn diagram—the kind with two circles that intersect and share a shaded area.  The shaded area is where there is potential for great things like a meeting of the minds and synchronicity.  Each person’s prior experiences and relationships can provide fuel for synergy.  But it is also where there is the potential for negative things to happen.  Because each person’s prior relationships can also trigger prejudging the other person, feeling rage that was actually kindled long ago by prior conflicts and having outsized expectations that really relate to unfulfilled needs going back, sometimes, all the way to childhood.

Here’s an example:  Think about the Vice President of a company.  He has not only worked for a company in which the CEO promised him compensation that was never delivered, but he was also the youngest of four children in his family and, due to a reversal in his parents’ business, needed to fund his own education (whereas his siblings did not).  There is every possibility that the VP will see his interactions with the CEO through a lens contaminated by his prior feelings of being shortchanged or treated differently than others.  And the sources of that perspective won’t be known by the CEO, who may have only the best of intentions and find the VP to be “paranoid.”

Believe it or not, “fixing” this relationship, which has roots that actually reach back decades, is achievable quickly—by helping the VP understand where his exaggerated or misplaced feelings are actually coming from.  That will clear the current landscape of “pollution” from the past.

Here’s a mini-course on how to make this happen:

  • Assume that very strong, seemingly inexplicable feelings being voiced by someone with whom you seek common ground are not necessarily about the moment at hand, or even the relationship at hand, but may be based in other experiences or relationships.
  • Ask the other person, empathetically but directly, whether it is possible that your current relationship with him or her is being negatively impacted by any other disappointing relationship or anyone else’s shortcoming.
  • See if the two of you can agree to “reset” and move forward toward a truly positive connection that is “win-win.”

I don’t think it will be seen as self-promoting for me to suggest that a professional coach or counselor can greatly expedite and optimize this process.  The same is true when marriages are threatened.  Or other family relationships.  Or friendships.  The point is this:  Human understanding, camaraderie and even deep love can be found in that shaded area of a Venn diagram where two lives intersect, once the past is put in its proper place.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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A WAY TO GIVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK THAT ACTUALLY GETS HEARD

So many people have had negative experiences with negative feedback (sometimes, very early in life) that they are ready to react defensively—even when the feedback is well-meaning and constructive.  We are all human.  We all have egos.  And all of our egos have been bruised, at one time or another, when someone was not constructive, dead wrong or extremely inelegant in offering it.

One productive technique to make sure a person can “hear” and make use of negative feedback is to presume that the way in which someone is underperforming does not represent his or her best self or ultimate potential.  The person can do better.  The person has a blind spot for how to make it happen—a resistor in the circuit of his or her best intentions.  This automatically allows you a “prejudice” in that person’s favor.  It gets you into a healing, helpful mindset that will register consciously or unconsciously with the person receiving the feedback.

By the way, this isn’t about avoiding the necessity to give negative feedback.  Giving negative feedback is often essential. It’s about making that feedback easy for the recipient to accept and act upon.

How might this work?  Take as an example someone who has submitted a report about a project.  The report is lacking in needed details.  One could either begin a meeting about the shortcomings of the report with a funereal tone and launch into its shortcomings or one could begin optimistically, even with a smile:  “I think you’re a big picture person and you like getting things off your desk.  And there’s power in that.  You can’t teach people vision.  Sometimes, though, big picture people need to slow down and sweat the details.  I do, too.  Trust me.  And this report is slim on details.  I tell you that because I know the tendency to rush to complete things and the tendency to focus way down the road.  But that tendency needs to be reined in.  Because, ultimately, we need the work to be excellent.  And, frankly, you can do better.”

Or, consider giving someone feedback about tending to cut others off as they are speaking during meetings.  Simply stating, “Joe, you have to stop interrupting people,” is likely to make Joe feel badly about himself and might well lead him to be defensive.  After all, Joe may have heard about his habit before—maybe at a much younger age when he felt much more vulnerable.  But what if you started with a prejudice in Joe’s favor by saying, “Joe, when you have an idea, you’re like a race horse at the gate.  I can see it in your eyes and the way you lean forward.  And I appreciate that enthusiasm.  What I want to help you with is avoiding running out the gate to present your ideas when it’s not the best time—like, if someone else is talking at a meeting.  And I feel badly because I see that happening quite a bit.  You don’t have to jump the gun.  Your ideas are often strong enough to take center stage, whenever you share them.  So, you can afford to wait.”

Again, none of this is meant as a prescription for avoiding or dancing around tough truths.  It is meant as a way to not only speak the truth, but to have it be heard.  Win-win.  Pain-2-Power.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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Ashwaganda for Mood, Memory—and More

Ashwaganda is an ancient medicinal herb known to fight inflammation via its high concentration of molecules called withanolides.

Ashwaganda has been shown in scientific studies to reduce cortisol.  Increased levels of cortisol are associated with feelings of stress and anxiety.  In fact, when people in one scientific study used ashwaganda supplements, their anxiety and insomnia were reduced by 69 percent.  Other studies have shown similar or even more powerful data.

Depression may yield to ashwaganda, as well.  One study showed a 79 percent reduction in depression in those who took 600 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha extract per day.

Ashwaganda may increase testosterone levels and muscle strength in men.  It also seems to offer some level of protection against cancer cell lines (at least in the laboratory).

Yet, some of the most profound effects of ashwaganda appear to be on brain function and memory.  Supplementing with ashwaganda at between 300 and 500 mg in two studies significantly increased memory, focus and the ability to complete cognitive tasks.

The website getroman.com states:

The “youth giving” properties of ashwagandha don’t just apply to your physical aptitude. Preliminary studies done on animals and in test tubes suggest it also extends to boosting your mental abilities and brain function. Though the practice of using ashwagandha for brain health is a long Ayurvedic practice, research in humans is lagging behind. Reaction time and cognitive function improved significantly in men put on a regimen of ashwagandha versus placebo in one small study (Pingali, 2014). Memory and information processing were also increased in participants of another study that looked specifically at effects in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (Choudhary, 2017).

Common dosages of ashwaganda run around 450-500 mg, taken twice a day.

Ashwaganda is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers or those with autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis.  Ashwaganda is also a “nightshade,” so anyone following a diet that eliminates nightshades (which include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) should avoid taking this supplement.

 

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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Pain-2-Power: A Lost and Found Department for . . . True Potential

I’ve decided Pain-2-Power is a little like a lost and found department for . . . well . . . people and the best of their potential.  It is part of the human condition that our gifts are often difficult to deploy once we live through childhood, adolescence, teenage years and, then, into adulthood.  Psychologically complex events unfold that divert our attention and energies from our dreams, talents and ability to love ourSELVES profoundly.  Emotional resistors get added to the circuitry through which our best intentions, abilities and energies must run.

People get lost—to themSELVES.  If the soul is a red Ferrari, so many of us end up using only four or six of the cylinders actually available to power us to extraordinary relationships and creative journeys and achievements.

Too many of us forget we’re Ferraris altogether and live life as Camrys—safer, perhaps, but with far less performance and exhilaration.

There’s a toll to living lost, too.  Our brains and souls are not meant to be underutilized.  Angst, low energy, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression are the results.  In that way, the metaphor of living like a Camry, while being a Ferrari, still holds.  Leave a Ferrari to sit for too long or drive it only at slow speeds for years and its engine won’t benefit.  Quite the opposite.  The Ferrari “needs” to perform.

So do you.

Pain-2-Power is a plan to reengage all 12 cylinders of your existence.  It not only makes you aware the cylinders exist, but takes away any fear of using them.

How?  The plan does so by revealing the platinum version of oneSELF—the irreducible and irreplaceable REAL you.  You, but before life limited you.  And worry not, that you still exists, after two decades or four or five or seven.  It is the starting point for your most promising and powerful path forward imaginable.  And it is revealed and deployed by Pain-2-Power through:

  • An assessment of exactly where you are in life at this moment.
  • A review of the events in life that have shaped you—empowering and temporarily disempowering you.
  • Discovering negative emotional, intellectual and behavioral patterns to be extinguished.
  • Discovering positive emotional, intellectual and behavioral patterns to be made more powerful.
  • Uncovering the core, iconic, truest, most powerful next “chapters” of your “autobiography”—the one you are living.
  • Deploying the treasures you have found and harvesting the inevitable benefits of 12-cylinder personal and professional performance.

Pain-2-Power, the “Lost and Found” department for human potential, has something of yours to be claimed:  Your Platinum Self.

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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A PAIN-2-POWERFUL SUPPLEMENT: CURCUMIN TO LIFT MOOD AND REDUCE ANXIETY

I briefly mentioned Curcumin (the main active ingredient in the spice turmeric) in a previous blog, but it deserves its own because of how powerful it can be.

Back in 2013, a randomized, double blind scientific study looked at how curcumin fared against the antidepressant Prozac in relieving symptoms of depression.  Amazingly, at the end of six weeks, those receiving Prozac and those receiving Curcumin showed the same level of improvement on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) which includes questions about mood, sleep, anxiety, gastrointestinal symptoms and energy.

Other studies have confirmed the miraculous effects of Curcumin.

These studies are important because medications to treat depression—while a Godsend for many people—can also sometimes cause side effects like weight gain, insomnia and sexual dysfunction (and can even cause worsening depression).

Curcumin is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.  This is tremendously important since inflammation has been theorized to be one of the sources of impaired mood, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain and many other symptoms.  It may, in fact, be a central cause of depression itself.

Inflammation has also been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, heart disease, asthma, colitis, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and becoming overweight.

How does curcumin achieve its anti-inflammatory power?  For one thing, it blocks a molecule called NF-kB which seems to turn on inflammation and has been linked not only to depression but to many inflammation-related illnesses.

Here’s more amazing data on curcumin.  In a 2015 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled scientific trial, researchers observed the effects of curcumin just hours after people took it and after they had taken it for four weeks.  Just one hour after administration, curcumin significantly improved performance on attention and memory tasks, compared with the placebo. Working memory and mood were significantly better following four weeks of treatment. Curcumin even reduced total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

In yet another study (also during 2015), overweight adults without depression were given curcumin or placebo, along with bioperine, a common agent added to curcumin supplements to enhance its absorption.  Both the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) tests were filled out by each participant at the beginning of the study and then, again, at four, six and ten weeks of taking curcumin.  Anxiety was significantly reduced by curcumin.

Curcumin is considered very safe and generally causes no side effects.  There are some people who have reported headache, diarrhea or rash, when given large doses.

Curcumin supplements can be ordered from many sources. The link below will take you to just one of them, which I consider to be a reliable source.

In the quest to be powerful in the face of pain—whether emotional or physical—curcumin is on my P-2-P list.

 

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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EXERCISES TO MAINTAIN AUTONOMY IN THESE ANTI-FREEDOM DAYS

It isn’t difficult to see the evidence around us that freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly are under assault in America today.  Our freedom to pursue happiness is, as well.  It is no longer enough to assume that living in this country or learning in this country (as a high school or college student, for instance) will be enough to maintain or sharpen your independence and autonomy.  Given this, I have devised a series of 7 exercises to do just that.

  1. Write down ten core beliefs you hold dear.  These might include a belief in the right to personal property or the right to speak your mind or the right to educated your children in the manner you deem most appropriate or the right to vote or the right to refuse certain forms of medical treatment.  Take some time with this.  If you write down your ten core beliefs, it’s okay to substitute a more powerfully held belief for another one on the list, as you think more about them.
  2. Donate to one issues-based organization you believe in.  Your donation can be $1.  The amount doesn’t matter.  Being willing to stand up and be counted matters.
  3. Watch a network that is known to oppose your core beliefs for 30 minutes as a way of exercising your critical thinking.  If this were to make you question your positions, so be it. But it may make you embrace them, with even more certainty.
  4. Go—physically—to a place that “embodies” your belief.  In these days of technology taking over the world, it can seem like enough to say what you think on Facebook or Twitter.  It isn’t.  Attend a rally for what you believe in.  Visit the grave of a leader you greatly admire.  I will never forget my visits to the Lincoln Memorial or Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust memorial center.
  5. Order a book that deepens your understanding of one of the beliefs or issues you hold dear and read it within the next 14 days.
  6. Watch two famous speeches online that showcase one of your core beliefs.
  7. Lead today.  Wherever it matters to you.  Be definitive and bold at work or at home or both.  Find your North Star and let others know you intend to follow it to a goal.

These exercises are just a beginning.  But even recognizing that they are needed is a way to start immunizing yourSELF from being deprived of yourSELF.

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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If You Are Reading This Right Now . . .

You are ready—right now—for positive change.  You are ready to be more powerful.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be visiting Pain-2-Power or reading this blog.

Think about that.  It says a lot.  And I mean all of it.

First, it says that there is an order to the universe we don’t fully understand and are certainly not in complete control of.  But it exists.  If not, we wouldn’t be having this I-write / you-read “discussion” at all.  You wouldn’t have come to the site.  You wouldn’t have clicked to get to this entry.  And you certainly wouldn’t have gotten to this, the 111th word of the piece.  Probably, without going too far, that word wouldn’t have been number 111, either.  111 is a number that symbolizes spiritual awakening.

Your responsibility isn’t to generate these moments.  You can’t.  I can’t.  It’s to notice them when they occur and act on them, rather than dismissing them.

How would you do that?  Well, most likely, you would schedule an initial consult with me about making your life more powerful.  But maybe you would end up buying a book—by anyone—about the power of taking advantage of chance moments of connection to become the person you have always been meant to be.  Or maybe, this very instant, my having written the last sentence is making you think of a mentor or potential business partner or a potential life partner you bumped into several days ago and never followed up with.

You get the idea.  The universe has a plan for you.  Call it destiny.  Or synchronicity.  We’re surrounded by miracles every day.  Some are meant for you.  Really.  Embrace them.

Begin.

Now.

Need more motivation?  Here’s a quote from the late Scottish mountaineer and writer William Hutchison Murray:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.The email to get started changing your life is [email protected].  You know what to do.

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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What Good is Being Asked of Me?

If there is a single question that can power your personal and professional success and also right the ship of life amidst stormy seas, it may be this:  What good is being asked of me?

The question is powerful, first and foremost, because it reflects a core belief in the existence of something far “bigger” than one’s ego-defined concept of self.  Something is asking the question.  And that presumes the existence of God, which others call the “Universe” or even “A Force that Connects Everything.”  The word choice matters less than the belief.  For hundreds of millions of people—and I hope for you—that means you are connected to a source of energy that never dissipates and will never fail you, as long as you remember it is there and seek it out.

The question is also powerful because it reminds you that you yourSELF aren’t “done.”  Not ever.  No matter what has happened.  No matter what anyone thinks or says.  The source of all energy in the world has filled you up for this journey through life, too—YOU, as an individual.  If you are being asked what good you can do, then you obviously aren’t powerless, even if you feel that way, at times.  That feeling is a myth of the mind.  A lie.  Your soul knows better.  Your soul knows never to surrender.

The third reason the question is so powerful is that it opens up your heart and directs you toward “the good” and away from counterproductive paths based solely on immediate goals or only on financial rewards or only on saving face or even on getting revenge for being unfairly treated.

  • If your business courses into complex, difficult times, the question will help focus your efforts on needed action to save it, yes. But it will also help focus those efforts on building or rebuilding the strongest and most worthy and worthwhile parts of it, while supporting others in the company who have the same goals.
  • If a loved one (God forbid) confronts illness, it will help you, even amidst your own suffering, to do what is needed for that person—and perhaps for others confronting illness, too.
  • If your country is mired in conflict and rage and fear, it will help clarify the words and actions you can put forward to help heal it.
  • If the pages of your life story take the story into chapters of darkness or peril or any kind of pain, the question will help you find your power, which is actually the power of God or the Universe or “A Force that Connects Everything.” Again, the word choice matters far less than the belief.

The fourth reason the question What Good is Being Asked of Me? is so powerful is that it inherently accepts that the source of potential power available to you is itself aligned with goodness and decency and healing and hope.  You can count on that source of power.  Truly.  Even when it seems that the lights will go out, that the shadows will win, that can’t happen if you remember the question and act on it.  It will never fail you.

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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The Future Defines the Past

One of the concepts I hope you’ll keep in mind as you strive to evolve into the most powerful version of yourSELF and to make the most significant contributions to this world that you can is that the future defines the past.  What I mean by this is that the way you regard today’s trials and tribulations will very much depend on where they lead.  Therefore, you can afford to be kind to yourself and look forward, with faith.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re writing a book (or starting a company, or trying to improve your marriage, or running for office).  Maybe the book is taking you three times as long as you planned.  Maybe, even after finishing it, the first 25 publishers turn it down.  Yet, if the 26th publisher accepts it and publishes it to glowing reviews, all the struggle will look like it was worth it.  The future success of the project will light up the path that led to it.

Running a marathon is another example.  At many points along the way, the journey may seem beyond arduous.  Quitting may seem like the best option.  One might wish not to have ever started.  Yet, at the end of the race, all the miles will likely get redefined.  They will likely seem well worth it.

Certainly, there will be times in life when we find ourselves “in the weeds.”  The terrain can be so punishing and the skies so dark that we see nothing up ahead.  And, yet, if we can remember that we can’t judge the present moment until we can look back at it from “up ahead,” then some of the suffering can be taken out of it.  We can persevere.  We can let the jury stay out.  We can hope for the best.

This perspective is extremely important because I don’t know many worthy goals or great successes that did not require crossing a chasm.  It might be too much to ask that the jagged rock faces be appreciated as they cut deeply.  But SELF-possession, in its best sense, can lead to the resolve to bind our wounds, redouble our efforts and look forward to healing in the future.

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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