Many years ago, when I was still trying to figure out which way I should go with this whole “eat right and exercise” thing I fell into, my friend Jim suggested I hire his business coach for my own biz.
Her name was (and presumably still is) Debbie Happy Cohen. And yes, that’s her real middle name.
Working with Coach Debbie turned out to be one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I discovered a new level of creativity (not that you can tell from this blog) and really developed my professional identity by implementing the strategies she introduced me to.
It’s been several years since I ran the following ‘interview’ I did with her – it was previously only available to my clients and subscribers of my first website – but when I was digging through my archives a few days ago, I figured you, my adoring legion of fans (I think there are 8 of you now), would enjoy this blast from the past. The information is every bit as valuable today. Enjoy. Share it with others.
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JoeS: Can you explain why people actually limit their own success? – Whether it’s fitness, business, personal life or anything else.
Debbie Happy Cohen: We’ve lived in a world where for centuries and millennia, our goal was to survive, and we had a strict order of class in terms of what role we were supposed to play (male-female, serf-lord, king-subject). We also had to physically protect ourselves from the elements of nature without the safety we have today.
In the last century alone, we have gone from being an industrial society to an informational and service-oriented one… So what in the heck does all this mean to YOU?
It’s only in recent times that we’re thinking about PERSONAL HAPPINESS, satisfaction, feeling loved. Choosing positive feelings was a foreign thought to many of our ancestors because they were busy surviving.
So we are on the leading edge of FEELING GOOD AND GREAT.
BUT – our societal “thermostat” setting for feeling good is not set very high. We have peak moments, like winning at the Olympics (or watching someone win) but we still spend most of our time watching the news and other negative drama. WE GET USED TO FEELING EITHER BAD OR MEDIOCRE.
JS: But why is it so easy to become content with mediocrity?
DHC: BECAUSE IT FEELS SAFE. Because when we stretch out of that comfort zone, it feels UNCOMFORTABLE and most people run back to the safety of mediocre feelings.
For example, I have a friend who is a best-selling author of a parenting book, and she shared a story about receiving a call one day from a majorly hot and hard-to-get publisher. Though she was elated, she was also extremely uncomfortable feeling so good. So what did she do? She ran upstairs immediately after the call and grabbed a piece of cheap chocolate, which she knows she is allergic to. She effectively and immediately brought herself down instead of letting herself enjoy the feeling of pure satisfaction and bliss of receiving that call.
JS: Where exactly do these beliefs come from?
DHC: We hold these beliefs in our memory storehouse, like a baby blankey.
JS: Can they be changed?
DHC: Absolutely. But it takes courage and often outside support. Like your newsletter…or a live coach.
I think it’s interesting that EVERY Olympian – the beginners as well as the multi-gold medalists – EVERY one of them has a coach! I think that one of the purposes of that person is to hold a vision for a higher possibility, because it’s often easier to do it for someone else than it is for ourselves.
One exercise that you can do on your own (that was shared with me by my author friend and credited to Gay Hendricks :-)) is to change the HIGH-LOW pattern to PEAK-REST. For example, have you ever said to yourself when things were going really well, “I wonder when the other shoe will drop,” or “I wonder how long I’m going to actually stick to this diet” when you just lost a huge amount of weight? Those are ways people bring themselves DOWN when they’re HIGH, in order to get back to NORMAL.
TO RAISE NORMAL TO HIGH, you want to get comfortable with PEAK STATES.
JS: So how can you do this?
DHC: DEEP BREATHING. When a person is afraid or uncomfortable, their breathing is shallow, and they block good feelings. When a person is comfortable and feeling happy, they laugh and breathe deeply. During your next PEAK moment, take a breather, rest for a few minutes or a couple of hours. Laugh. Take it in.
I have an audio CD called Sensualization: Exceeding your Upper Limits and Getting Comfortable with PEAK LIVING. In it, you’re guided to experience yourself in a moment of satisfaction and well being. When you get there, you notice what fear comes up, and you breathe through it until you feel comfortable. It’s amazing because it’s beyond the limited visualization techniques that so many of us use. It’s leading edge and it works because you use all of your senses and your mind really believes you are there, so when the time comes and the success really happens, you don’t resist it (at least not as much as before!)
It reminds me of a story of a guy who was in the back room before an event where he was to be receiving an award. Someone “caught him” talking to himself and shaking hands with an invisible partner, saying “Thank you. Thank you very much.” When asked what in the world he was doing, he replied, “I’m getting used to the idea of people congratulating me, so that when they do, I am able to really accept it.”
JS: How often should we do this?
DHC: Many people have benefited from doing this breathing technique for 15 minutes a day for 30 days. What you do is imagine a future PEAK moment with all of your senses, then notice when you feel any kind of discomfort or fear. And then BREATHE DEEPLY until it passes.
JS: So if I do this simple exercise for only 15 minutes a day for a month, what can I expect to experience?
DHC: You’ll notice it’s much easier to take in new experiences and successes when you do this regularly. This, of course, will allow you to notice newer and better opportunities, and you’ll be more likely to grab them. You’ll spend more time feeling good and making better choices. You’ll enjoy your life more and experience more peak moments.
JS: I really enjoyed reading (and re-reading) your book Reach Your Stars! Who do you think could benefit most from reading it?
DHC: Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Its message is for any person who cares about their personal or professional growth, especially if they are exploring new options in their lives, or developing the confidence to take new action.
JS: The changes I’ve experienced by simply learning to accept higher levels of success as ‘okay’ (and even downright acceptable!) have me convinced there’s much more to it than simply “positive self talk”. How can I learn even more about this technique and others that we’ve used during my own coaching sessions with you?
DHC: Here are two things you can do right now:
1. You can visit the MastermindU archives and listen to a live recording of a lecture I gave, called “Real Pearls, Cheap Chocolate and Stone Soup” which includes a Sensualization audio experience.
2. Register for the MastermindU course called “Break Through Internal Barriers”. Just visit MastermindU.com and click on Courses. When you sign up for the course online, you will get a FREE copy of Reach Your Stars!
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