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Interview with Neil Fiore

By Peter Shepherd

Do you sometimes find it hard to keep focused on your goals or feel like giving up? Or perhaps you find it hard to get even started on important tasks you know you need to do. Don't despair, you have the ability to conquer these challenges naturally, with the help of hypnosis. Clinical hypnosis has helped thousands of people to find the power within themselves to make drastic changes in their lives. The Hypnosis Network is a group of highly accredited hypnotists and psychotherapists who have brought the power of hypnosis to CD for safe and effective home use. If you have a challenging career, or if your personal life often presents stressful situations, you need to check out their audio CDs.

There are many ways that hypnosis can help an individual. I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Neil Fiore, Ph.D. who has produced psychotherapeutic audio sessions for The Hypnosis Network - 'Mental Toughness' and 'Productivity Engineering' - that can motivate you to create enthusiasm, focus, and resilience in accomplishing your goals. Neil is a psychologist in private practice at Albany, California, and Instructor at the California Institute of Clinical Hypnosis, San Francisco. He has authored five books including most recently, 'It's Your Life - Who's In Charge?'

Q. Why do most people resist acting right now and, instead, put tasks off until later?

A. We humans are hard-wired for immediate gratification and rapid feedback. We naturally seek pleasure and avoid pain. That's why computer games, fast foods, and TV can be so addictive and distracting. Without a plan and commitment, the immediate and definite rewards of life - think, ordering a cheeseburger - will win over the delayed and indefinite rewards - think, running a marathon with a slim chance of winning.

So most people will avoid starting on a long-term project - that requires say, more than 8 to 2000 hours of work or 4 to 8 years of training before you start getting paid [e.g. Med School, PhD programs, writing a novel, learning to play the piano]. Even though the most rewarding, worthwhile, and profitable activities involve a long-term commitment, we can get almost immediate satisfaction in minutes or seconds from completing smaller tasks, such as answering email or the phone, clicking the TV remote control, or popping a frozen pizza in the microwave.

My bet is that - without a strategic program - most people will put off starting tasks that take more than 4 to 8 hours of work, much less 4 to 8 years. Without a clear vision for their lives, most people will be distracted from optimal productivity by small, low priority activities that offer more immediate gratification.

Feeling overwhelmed by big or boring projects is another reason we don't immediately face some tasks. Those tasks that we associate with pain, failure, fear, and anxiety will be avoided unless we learn to take charge of our automatic, conditioned responses. Remember, our mammal brain is wired to avoid pain and our ego avoids embarrassment. So, the tools of the 'Productivity Engineering' CD put your higher, integrated Self in charge of lower brain responses and ego defenses.

Ineffective self-management techniques often lead us to become self-critical about less than perfect work. We even criticize ourselves for not starting sooner, when we should be rewarding any movement in the right direction. If we demand perfection from ourselves and are self-critical, then long-term projects will require us to spend long hours in solitary confinement with our most feared and brutal critic - ourselves. "It's never good enough," we tell ourselves. "Why try?"

Procrastination temporarily helps us escape the pain and fear we associate with some tasks or people. Putting things off becomes a costly habit because it works - temporarily but immediately - to lower tension and anxiety. A strategic program must provide, therefore, healthy alternatives that can compete with these immediate rewards.

'Productivity Engineering' provides the strategic program for countering each of these reasons why we tend to resist starting now and subconsciously motivates us to start now on our most valuable, high priority projects.

Q. You say that procrastination can become a habit. How can hypnosis help to break a habit that the person feels somewhat comfortable with, even though it is holding him back?

A. Habits are comfortable because they have become a kind of 'default,' conditioned or automatic reaction that doesn't require decisions or thinking. Hypnosis helps us slow down our reactions so we can observe the very start of our automatic reactions and then choose a more effective alternative.

Hypnosis helps us rapidly change behavior by creating a new neural pathway in the brain - through the use of imagery - that leads toward healthier, more effective alternatives. By exercising - first in imagery, then in real-life - this neural pathway, we not only make new behavior possible, we make it easier to start and to maintain.

Q. Starting a cycle of action is one thing; completing it is another. How do you help someone to stick to their goals, even in the face of setbacks?

A. Most of us have an entrepreneurial spirit that loves to start new things but is not so enthusiastic about following through on the details. That's why I pay an assistant and an accountant to handle my income tax each year. I'd rather look forward to next year and working on new books and CDs rather than looking back on the details of last year.

So, in order to face the task of completing detail tasks such as following up on reports, paying and sending out bills, I need to use my own methods. I use the exercises and rituals that are included in the "Productivity Engineering" CDs to:

  • calm myself by connecting conscious and subconscious functions and Left and Right Brain hemisphere's;
  • evoke my mind's curiosity about what I will know within 30 minutes of work that I do not know now - what I call "the full-brain approach";
  • keep starting [to complete] some work that will make life easier for my "Future Self"; and,
  • enjoy a sense of self-mastery and Effective Self-Leadership by redirecting my initial, habitual response toward calmly finishing what's in front of me in this moment rather than running to some new task.

I prepare the listener for setbacks just as I do with peak performing athletes. The external world will affect us to some degree but it's our attitude and internal dialogue - our negative self-hypnosis - that causes us to give up. The 'Mental Toughness' CD provides exercises similar to those used by peak performing athletes and business people to stay in the game, even when it looks as if you're losing. Preparing for set-backs and maintaining commitment to our goals is an essential step - as shown by National Institute of Health research - in effective habit changing and goal setting.

These exercises help us commit to completing the entire race or project; prepare us to push aside former distractions and old habits; and get back to the basics of using more of our brain-cell power and our subconscious genius to come up with creative solutions.

Q. How do modern methods of hypnosis differ from the stereotyped image of a therapist dangling his watch back and forth in the face of a stupefied client who is totally exposed to manipulation?

A. The old and incorrect concepts of hypnosis date back to the 1880's when Freud experimented with hypnosis on hospitalized mentally ill patients who were highly dependent and suggestible. "Stage hypnotists" have further confused the public about the true nature of modern hypnosis by using tricks and manipulating highly suggestible people.

Hypnosis really gained credibility during World War I when doctors and medics found that it worked to lessen and remove the pain of wounded soldiers when morphine was unavailable. The old model of an authority figure giving commands to clients persisted until the 1950's when Dr. Milton H. Erickson, one of my teachers, introduced "indirect" and "client-centered" hypnosis.

Erickson's indirect hypnosis respects the client's beliefs and needs and works with the client's conscious and subconscious mind to achieve the goals defined by the client. This is the prominent - and, I believe, more effective - model used today by trained, clinical therapists who use hypnosis as one of their therapeutic methods. Modern hypnosis puts clients in touch with their own ability at self-hypnosis and to access the creativity of their subconscious dreaming mind.

Q. How can your hypnosis CDs be effective without the client understanding the basic principles of personal growth... or do you actually introduce these concepts in the process of the hypnotic session?

A. What I introduce on these CDs are the concepts for identifying counterproductive or empty habits, forming an alternative vision, and accessing deeper resources that are far more effective than the conscious mind's fears and it's tendency to struggle alone. The drive for personal growth is natural and simply needs to be unblocked of negative beliefs and fears in order for clients to make remarkable changes.

While a conscious understanding of the "principles of personal growth" may provide some comfort, it's not necessarily what's needed to produce change. Learning to use self-hypnosis to access subconscious resources - the genius of Left and Right-Brain integration, and the ability to work in the Zone - doesn't require conscious "understanding." In fact, when the ego and its conscious mind strive for control and understanding, it takes us out of the Zone. Athletes and musicians know this and they avoid answering the devious question, "How did you do that?" with "I don't know, I was in the Zone." This means:

"I was operating at a level far beyond what my conscious mind can understand or achieve on its own. It's a relief to my ego and conscious mind to not have to know it all. I'm just so grateful for whatever comes to me, from wherever it comes to me."

Q. How quickly can a person using these CDs expect results? Is it an ongoing process, and how much motivation and involvement does the person himself need?

A. People who listen to these CDs for 30 to 60 minutes everyday can expect to see results within two weeks. Most will feel more relaxed and less anxious after the first hour. [It is important to practice these techniques for at least two weeks before testing them in severely stressful or challenging situations.]

After the initial 2-4 weeks of using these CDs almost daily, listeners can choose the briefer exercises - that take less than one minute or as little as three deep breaths - to use "on the job" and in "real-life" situations. In other words, the essential elements of these CDs will be accessible in everyday life without needing to find an hour each day to sit back and listen. By using the one-minute version of these exercises daily, many will experience ongoing improvement in productivity, creativity, goal achievement, and health. Some clients have achieved a doubling of productivity and income within two months of starting this program.

Motivation is awakened by the expectancy of improvement provided by this new model of behavior change and the actual experience of rapid relaxation. Even while the conscious mind remains skeptical, the subconscious can begin using what it knows is beneficial. You do not need to wait for your conscious mind or ego to feel motivated or confident before experiencing results; but you do need to choose to show up and use the tools every day.

Following the interview, I checked out Dr. Fiore's Mental Toughness CD set. As you know, life is not all smooth sailing. Successful people are nevertheless able to face set-backs, get back up and try again with their full enthusiasm. It takes persistence and resilience to achieve your goals! The CD contains three separate sessions in which Neil progressively describes and subtly encourages a mindset which allows you to relentlessly pursue your goals, even in the face of unexpected barriers. Over time one discovers within oneself a surprising hidden inner strength. One gets the feeling that "success is inevitable," and that feeling then - through the power of hypnosis over several repeated sessions - becomes a permanent resource. This is helpful to anyone who wants to remain focused and achieve great things, I feel.

You will find more details on our The Hypnosis Network page. They have programs to help you with stopping smoking, losing weight, overcoming procrastination, finding core inner strength, sleeping better, performing better at sports, managing sexual problems, preparing for uncertainty, taking tests, enhancing relationships, handling stage fright, and programs to support young children.

IMPORTANT! The Hypnosis Network are currently offering Trans4mind visitors a 10% price reduction on all their products. Best to order now whilst this offer is available! When making your purchase, you will find a place on the bottom left to put the coupon code, which is: "mind".

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