Your Transformation Coach
My name is Jason Leow.
I am a positive psychology coach who can help you find life satisfaction and wellbeing through mentoring, activities and products. I will work with you to put together your bespoke transformation plan, according to your goals and aspirations. An alliance of trusted and reliable service and product partners will support our journey.
I am a certified SPARK Resilience coach with a Grad Dip in Applied Positive Psychology, and a Masters in Communications. I specialize in the solution-focused brief method of coaching, and in hypnotherapy. I am a trained psychotherapist affiliated with the International Council of Psychotherapists based in Britain.
I have spent 20 years in media and communications, first as a foreign correspondent and then a Chief Communications Officer and a communications director for various companies. My corporate lives have enabled me to understand and coach successful (if also a bit stressed out and slightly lost) executives and senior managers.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss having a bespoke transformation plan put together for you.
At The Doing Well Centre
I have been reading Search Inside Yourself, which is no surprise since I wrote about its author Chade-Meng Tan last Sunday. In the book, he advocates mindfulness through meditation and other techniques, and self-awareness as its reward. Among the techniques he recommends is envisioning: we are asked to speak about the life we will lead several years from now. I took his advice and put my fantasy to iPad, and tapped away.
What you will see below are mental doodles about my near future. In case you believe it’s narcissistic to publicize our private visions, Meng encourages us, in fact, to talk to many people about them. As long as the vision is altruistic – I know mine is – telling other people about them begets public generosity and support. That’s the promise, anyway.
Prologue: for this exercise to work, we need to know or find out what our core values are, and what we stand for. If you don’t know and need help, try the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
So when you’re ready, I’d like you to give me the opportunity to share my deepest, boldest thoughts with you, for the sake of therapy, mine and perhaps yours too:
“My core values are …
I stand for …
Living every day with meaning and purpose: through learning; helping and growing, not just doing.
By 2017, I envision myself being a hypno-positive psychotherapist. Every day I wake up feeling energized and ready to help people understand themselves and resolve inner conflict. I work on getting every client to accept themselves, warts and all, despite the consequences that they are made fully aware of. I practice compassion as a life habit, not a religious value. I wish for everyone I meet happiness and purpose. They include friends and family, even those I am not fond of. I am happy to be advisor; counsellor; mentor and guide to people from all backgrounds and ages. I begin writing a book on Purpose and Meaning, and Self-Acceptance. My blog has become very well-known and has been cited by the WSJ and New York Times. I am sought after as a speaker and trainer. 🙂
I am financially secure, even independent. I invest wisely and consistently, and spend judiciously. I don’t need much materially: I have a comfortable home; a useable car; I can afford two or even three vacations a year and eat at one fancy restaurant every month. My most indulgent spending is on Momo (my Snowshoe cat, whom I adore). Perhaps, seminars related to my work, too.
I am psychically healthy. I practice mindful meditation and body scan every morning, and self hypnosis for pain management and ego-strengthening. Every day I share healing white light energy with people around me.
Physically I am fit. I walk at least 10,000-15,000 steps a day and perform resistance exercises twice a week. I continue playing tennis 2-3 times a week. I watch my diet to complement the moderate exercise I do. I adore Manuka honey and cinnamon, and drink 2-3 glasses of the concoction every day. I consume fruit, too, mostly oranges. I get myself a physical exam every year. The doctor says my blood work looks good, my heart pumps normally, and I have no tumors. I have healthy skin and breath.
I have self-acceptance.”
What does your envisioning exercise show?
Mindfulness is what we achieve when we become able to identify both our emotional shape of the moment and the traits we use to run our lives. It’s this ability that helps us stay focused, react after thinking (not before), know where pain and joy or any other feeling hover in our bodies, and reduce living on automatic impulses. Some of us might deride this as living like control freaks. Yet once we think of ourselves as drivers of our own automobiles, we might begin to see it’s not a matter of choosing to take control. We are already driving, so it’s best to learn how to steer this hunk of metal or end up in a heap.
It wasn’t until a friend recommended that I watch Chade-Meng Tan’s Youtube clip, above, that I understood the ideas at a more pedestrian level and turned them into habits. Do watch the clip, in parts if you don’t have an hour to spare. He is also the author of Search Inside Yourself, in which he illustrates a wellbeing program he developed at Google where he works. I have no commercial interest in promoting Meng, by the way. I don’t even know him. That said, I would be psyched if he left me a note here. Psyched and inspired to help advance the world peace he wants. But I digress.
For myself and with clients, I often begin with mindful breathing. It helps to calm the mind, particularly for clients who fidget and talk multi-directionally. These are physiological signs of being uncentered, anxious, troubled or worse (which hypnotherapy is then applied to pinpoint and resolve). Mindful breathing also puts us (I say “us” because it benefits me as the therapist, too) in a more open state for hypnotherapy.
As the sessions progress, I may teach them to locate bodily sensations of lethargy; fear; anxiety; even depression. I do the converse, too, since we can’t embrace the downside without properly experiencing calm; confidence; elation and bliss. I find too many of us let the horses ride us, as Meng might put it. Romantic notions of seizing the day by its balls and running with the first feeling that grips us are Hollywood. Healing requires a more horse(wo)man-like approach. I highly recommend learning to live on top of how we feel, and let this ability steer our horses. Freedom, inspiration and mindful romance come from being able to decide what we want to do with our feelings (and not the other way around). An alternative for building up emotional awareness is by journaling, like using the iphone app Happier to do it. It’s something I have written about.
Because we don’t live by feelings alone, there’s something else I keep doing; helping people discover their strengths, which are the ingredients we draw upon to get things done. This is a technique I learned both from my supervisor and Martin Seligman, the positive psychology guru. I’ve been recommending to friends and family the VIA Survey of Character Strengths found on Seligman’s website, authentichappiness.org. The top five will be our signature strengths, the ones we (should) turn to most often for our best performance. Although the test reveals no weaknesses, we can regard the last five strengths (20th to 24th) as our weakest links.
Traveling on a Sunday (today) to get to a meeting early tomorrow morning. The next time I weigh in here again might be next Friday. Meanwhile, here are some interesting insights that an auto-analytic tool, called Track Your Happiness, threw up. Apparently, I don’t suffer Monday blues, which reinforces the view that those feelings are learned from popular culture. Surprisingly, I’m happier on Saturdays than Fridays. It could be because I get to sleep in on Saturdays, which another chart, not shown here, indicates is happiness-giving to me.
See you next week!
I have been thinking a lot about roles. Not mine, but the question of why some of us become so anxious about the roles we play in life. For starters, let’s assume we can agree that each of us plays multiple roles to co-exist. These can include gender roles; our order in the family; our function at work and even our standing to clients, acquaintances or friends. Unless we live as hermits (which might be a fairly self-contained role but a role nonetheless), roles are as required as oxygen.
So why do we get so worked up about them when they are so natural? I think it’s because unlike inhaling oxygen, which is a physiological habit, we don’t act out the roles so effortlessly. We must be taught to take our places in life, nurtured on the expectations they come with, monitored and assessed on how well we have executed them; and finally rewarded, punished or left alone to get on with them. This process could take many years.
Kids are told they need to let mommy finish talking to auntie Lucy; admonished if they cut in again, and ignored if they continue to disrupt. Fathers have been taught by their own dads and other men (and women) that they are the protectors (and moms are the nurturers), even if both parents bring home the bacon and make dinner.
The process of becoming the roles we are is fairly time-honored. In order to know what we need to do, we need to have been conferred the expectations; shown the proper behavior; and rehearsed through repeated experiences. Skip a step and we don’t do very well in adulthood. One reason, then, why we can get so anxious about playing roles could be that we never learned to play them well, or at all. Internally, we aren’t very clued in.
This hurts externally, too. In response to how others behave, all of us have been raised to praise; put down or play dumb. The last reaction is particularly true when someone who isn’t too clued in on what to do or how to behave confuses us. In turn, we knock them off-kilter by not displaying the helpful social signals. It’s a vicious cycle that breeds anxiety.
So how do we fix this? We could read self-help books and sign up to weekend seminars where we can learn how to become gentler parents; emotionally smarter employees or more engaged citizens. Millions of us already do this. But the solution doesn’t really extract us from a cycle which we weren’t properly plugged into. We will be patching holes and hoping we don’t fall into one again.
Some cognitive behavior therapists believe the best solution is to fix ourselves. They call this self-acceptance. Drop the “should’s,” “must’s” and “have to’s” and deal with just being, warts and all. The process to get here may be different. Some therapists use a challenging approach of drilling into our core beliefs and compelling us to modify them (which might put off Singapore and other Asian clients). Others advocate mindfulness-based therapy that equips us with techniques to embrace the anxiety and press on.
Positive psychologists use a toolkit of forgiveness exercises; expressing gratitude; and strengths discovery to help us. They will get us to see life as a journey of learning or leaving behind the baggage, day by day. I use some of these tools in my life, and a bit of mindfulness exercise.
These approaches try to dilute public approval (more rightly, perceptions of public approval) and strengthen self-awareness. There’s already a lot going on in our heads. These methods teach us to pay attention to some of the signals, if we want to suck the juice out of the present life rather than waste it on worrying. The other signals we can just put to rest.
Yes, even hypno-trainees get mellow. Sometimes.
That’s counting trainees such as I who haven’t begun the formal clinical hours (but soon!). Hours of hypnotherapy helping people quit smoking, lose weight, sleep better and cure insomnia. All the positive stuff that qualifies us as bleeding hearts.
Yet there is the casual therapy, minus the hypno, which trainees happen to undertake, stoically, I’d like to think, for anyone who happens to believe taking the Hippocratic oath commits us to full-time empathic understanding. Anyone can include, in no specific sequence, friends, family and the friendly neighborhood gossip. The outpouring ensues.
Not that it’s a bad thing. Psychotherapy is really more art than science, though the science always will be the foundation for future therapeutic artfulness. The more people trainees counsel, the more artful we become. Which can only benefit prospective clients. Plus what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, which Friedrich Nietzsche said. I had thought Kelly Clarkson, which is proof that practice makes wisdom.
There’s downside though. Therapy drains the empathy tank. What happens when trainees find our tanks half full? I suppose we could take a vacation. I’m told vacations, when taken judiciously, send positive psych-like signals to clients. Or we could get therapy ourselves. That might be nice for morale-boosting.
In my yellow moments, I’ve been doing self-hypnosis . You know, the white healing light; my safe place; lots of optimistic autosuggestions. My favorite one happens to be Émile Coué‘s “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Say it in French, every day if you like. It just sounds better.
Occasionally I drink beer … in moderation … with friends. Because even introverts like me need company sometimes (two hours, max). How do you, as a people-helper, unwind? Write me at email@example.com.