Resolving To Stick To Resolutions

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You know the drill. You resolve that, in the near year, you're going to lose weight. Or exercise more. Or stop smoking.

Yet, by the middle of January, almost half the resolutions will be broken.

To find out why, and how we could increase our odds of keeping them, The Early Show sought out Dr. Judith Orloff, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of the book, "Positive Energy."

She offers advice to help keep you focused and inspired.

Why are so many resolutions broken, and so quickly?

The new year is a great time to build positive energy because it's a time of new beginnings, Orloff explained to co-anchor Harry Smith. But many people make the mistake of setting goals that aren't realistic. And when you set the bar too high, it's hard to stick with those goals.

For instance, let's say you have a goal of losing 50 pounds, and then you binge on chocolate. Well, what many people do is get so upset by the binge that they give up on the diet completely.

Orloff offered some suggestions that could up the odds that you'll stick to those vows.

KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

You have to tell yourself that you can do it. It's a new year and a new beginning and whatever happened in the past doesn't matter. You just have to say that you can do it.

AVOID ENERGY VAMPIRES

Energy vampires are those people in our lives who are very negative. They tell you that you can't do things and don't support you when you don't live up to your goals. You need to stay away from these types of people. Instead, gravitate toward people who emit positive energy.

PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION

If you make a mistake on diet or with your exercise regimen, be kind to yourself and don't beat yourself up over it. You are just creating negative energy and setting yourself up for future failures.

SET REALISTIC GOALS

Don't begin the new year by saying you want to drop 50 pounds or go to the gym every day. Instead, tell yourself you want to lose five pounds and go to the gym twice a week. By setting realistic goals, you are more likely to fulfill them — giving you the positive energy to aim for new goals.

DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS

This is something many of us do, and it's a recipe for disaster. Don't go to the gym January first and say that you want to look like the body builder next to you. It probably won't happen and it doesn't matter if it does. Instead, do things just for yourself.

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES

That doesn't mean gorging on candy and carbs. It means, even if you go the gym once, give yourself a pat on the back. People tend to be very unkind to themselves, and that makes them feel bad. You want to always focus on the positive.

The following is an excerpt from "Positive Energy," by Dr. Judith Orloff

The 10 prescriptions for Positive Energy are:

* Awaken Your Intuition And Rejuvenate Yourself
* Find A Nurturing Spiritual Path
* Design An Energy-Aware Approach To Diet, Fitness, And Health
* Generate Positive Emotional Energy To Counter Negativity
* Develop A Heart-Centered Sexuality
* Open Yourself To The Flow Of Inspiration And Creativity
* Celebrate The Sacredness Of Laughter, Pampering, And The Replenishment Of Retreat
* Attract Positive People And Situations
* Protect Yourself From Energy Vampires
* Create Abundance


Positive Energy Excerpt
INTRODUCTION TO THE POSITIVE ENERGY PROGRAM: CLAIMING YOUR ENERGETIC POWER

Are you forever in a rush, staving off exhaustion? Are you desperately overcommitted, afraid to say "no"? Do you have fang marks from being bled dry by energy vampires? Does the onslaught of violence in the news leave you drained?

A hidden energy crisis threatens our world. Our high tech, volatile society thrusts many of us into chronic physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion. With information overload, we sink into techno-despair, the burnout of being enslaved by beepers, email, faxes, and phones. Meanwhile, we're confronted with hostile forces on a global scale. No surprise: our energy suffers. Most alarming, we come to tolerate tired, joyless states as normal. We must shift this socially condoned pattern of madness, no matter what external threats are looming. Using extraordinary solutions to liberate energy, I'll show you how to alleviate tensions that can do us in and design a life that nurtures.

In this book I want to introduce you to many ways to build your energy. As a board certified psychiatrist and Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA with twenty years in practice, I now believe that the most profound transformations can only take place on an energetic level. I've met a slew of people who've spent lots of time and money in intellectually-oriented therapies hoping that rational insights alone can bring the joy they seek. It's true, the mind will set you on the path, and the depth of emotional healing can be phenomenal. However, as much as I encourage and work with both, my approach coordinates them with a conscious rebuilding of your total energy.

The problem is, we physicians weren't taught the full story about energy in medical school. No wonder that as a student the conventional dull take on energy never jibed for me. Professors, who looked bored themselves, taught that energy was like gasoline: we fuel up with a healthy diet, sleep, and exercise, then set out to face the world. (Even these basics were mentioned as a tag on to the "hard core" sciences.) Our energy level is gauged by how much we accomplish. As deeply grateful as I am for my medical education, I've come to realize the traditional model that's still touted, is stuck in the Dark Ages. It grasps energy only in its crudest form.

This book is a call to activism, an imperative to claim your vitality using the methods I'll share. It's dedicated to people under stress who may have low energy or only so much to give. You'll find it pivotal if you're a workaholic, if you have a job that devours every last minute, or if you're a parent balancing family and career. You'll sigh with relief, suddenly finding answers to "psychosomatic" symptoms such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety. The book is also for those inundated by the upheaval of our times, struggling to keep themselves together. You'll learn ways to protect yourself from draining people, and also how to counter feelings of helplessness or doom about societal tumult. Further, you'll benefit if you feel good but want to feel better. All of us can soar with higher energy.

We live in a world of violence, selfishness, an erratic economy, and scary diseases--as well as a world of love, miracles, and healing. All this affects our energy, while ours affects people around us. We are part of great swirling invisible energy fields, positive and negative, that shape personal and planetary health. The formula for expanding energy you'll apply is to both build the positive and turn negativity around--a calculated tact requisite for our peace of mind and our survival. In the words of Helen Keller, "To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable."

This book is your guide to understanding energy. It'll give you a new mastery of your energy so you'll be clear where it goes and how to recoup it. We all know that energy comes from diet, sleep and exercise. This book gives you tools to access energy. Energy isn't some vague phenomenon. I'll show you how to break it down and make it work for you. To begin, envision energy as conveying two qualities--either positive or negative. You must become acquainted with each to take charge of your health and moods, especially in response to a sometimes unsettling outer reality.
You'll learn how to harness the power of positive energy--loving and nurturing forces within us such as compassion, courage, forgiveness, and faith. (Being the best people we're capable of being brings wholeness to a broken world.) Or from without: supportive friends, creative work, a hilarious joke, or vibrant sexuality. It comes from an honoring of the Earth and all its creatures, a deep human instinct for tolerance, as well as our passion to achieve a peaceful civilization. These are as central to our sustenance as food or oxygen.

You'll hone skills to combat and reverse negative energy, which enfeebles us, causing dis-ease. It includes everything that keeps us small, unhealthy, or alienates us from our best selves. We may generate it with our own fear, self-loathing, rage, or shame--an emotional terrorism we inflict on ourselves without realizing the toll. Unless we're committed to identifying and healing these forces, they will enervate us. Take our daily lives. Toxic people, traffic and techno-despair are as insidious as second hand smoke. We must each pinpoint what zaps us, large and minute; the causes may differ. When you embrace the positive and say "no" to the negative, high energy and optimism become a choice.

My approach with Positive Energy immediately engages you in mastering your energy. My focus is heavily experiential, not "in the head." I don't just sit there detached in a white lab coat and say "Uh-huh Uh-huh." I'm not asking my patients (or you) to take my word that subtle energy exists. It's mandatory to feel it. I really work my patients! To begin, I teach them to sense the energy that penetrates and surrounds the body in a capsule-like field. Also, to experience the mid-line centers called chakras.

In this learning process, I'm a guide for my patients. When they say, "I can't do it," or "I don't feel anything," I don't let them stop there. For instance, I hold my palm close to theirs, but not touching. Then I walk them through what energy passing between the palms feels like. I explain that we can't analyze our way to such insight. To detect energy's gradations, I train my patients to hone their intuition. A potent inner wisdom not mediated by the rational mind, intuition allows us to sense beyond the physical. The payoff is practical. For example, knowing if someone's vibes feel good or not-- critical in making smart choices.

I don't minimize my patient's perceptions. From personal experience, I appreciate how exquisitely--sometimes painfully--sensitive to energy we can be. One extremely shy, waif-like artist-patient had a nose like a hound dog; she was perennially beset by noxious odors. To defend against them she used inordinate amounts of energy to wall herself off. Worse, she felt ashamed of her sensitivity. As we worked together she learned that though it was harrowing to speak up, she had to request that friends not wear perfume around her, and ask her boyfriend to get his teeth regularly cleaned. With such changes by sympathetic others, she could begin to let her guard down and her energy increased.

Because our medical system doesn't acknowledge how energy affects health, I've seen many patients suffer. For years, they run from doctor to doctor with no relief. Energy provides a missing piece that can lead to miraculous breakthroughs. I've helped agoraphobics (who panic in crowds) overwhelmed by energy fields in congested malls get off Valium by using shielding techniques. I've treated compulsive overeaters, who've put on hundreds of pounds to buffer themselves from the energy of others, loose weight when given tools to stop being a sponge. I've provided tortured "crazy hypochondriacs" with centering exercises to stop absorbing other people's symptoms. When how we react energetically--particularly with global atrocities that can demolish highly receptive people--is not named, a crucial component of behavior is ignored.

We each have own energetic style. Some serve us, others don't. As my patients do, you'll become aware of ways you've learned to process vibes. For instance, intellectuals tend to contrict energy, whereas intuitive empaths give too much away. My goal for patients and for you is to find a comfortable style of navigating life which balances vulnerability with emotional security.

Like me, you may be an intuitive empath: a person who's so sensitive that we often unknowingly absorb energy from others and are drained by it. To cope, we escape into solitude to ward off overload. In Energy Psychiatry I emphasize empathy because it aggravates disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sexual shutdown and obesity. Empaths are so uncannily attuned that we feel what's going on inside people emotionally and physically, making it hard to distinguish whether it's us or them. We get struck down, and don't know what hit us. As a child, I'd arrive at packed shopping malls feeling fine and leave exhausted, depressed, or with some new ache or pain. Dismayed, I'd tell my physician-mother, who loved to shop. She'd respond, "Sweetheart, you're just overly sensitive." My mother doted on me, wasn't intending to be unkind. She (and my father, also a physician) just didn't realize crowded places heighten an empath's experience of energy, can overwhelm.

My own healing path required reconciling intuitions such as empathy with medical science. Knowledge is power. If you've ever been accused of being "overly sensitive," an appreciation of the mechanics of empathy will enlighten, transforming it from burden to asset. Empathy can eat at you until you learn to work with it. Now that I have tools to center myself and not take on the world's woes, empathy has become a gift. When I'm both grounded and responsive, it intensifies my sense of aliveness, compassion for others, and balance to withstand our sobering times. I want to share these specific, everyday tools with you.
I've devised the Positive Energy Program because I know how life saving it has been for me and my patients to maximize our energetic power. My emphasis is on action and technique, passionately practical: improving your life, your health, your relationships. If previous wellness plans have failed, despite the best intentions, you may have picked ones that were counter-intuitive to your body's needs. I've watched intelligent, aware patients battle horrible constipation while on a high protein regimen for weight loss. Their bodies scream for a balanced diet, yet they persist until they get sick and have to quit. Other patients hire trainers who push their bodies so hard they suffer serve injuries. One actress, obsessed with being thin for roles, ignored her body's signals until a torn knee ligament put her out of commission for months. I understand the desire to lose weight and be fit. But we don't have to martyr our bodies.

This book helps you find a regimen you're in harmony with. It's based on compassion; hurting yourself in any way becomes abhorrent. Using intuition to sense what feels right isn't about slacking off. It means trading a culturally acceptable masochism for a wellness approach that makes inner sense. Doing so prevents burnout and fosters enduring success.

Following each chapter I've included an interview I've had the privilege of doing with heroes of mine, public figures from Quincy Jones to Rosa Parks who illustrate how they use a particular prescription to increase energy in their lives. I hope these interviews inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

I'd love for you to use this book to fashion a passionate, self-styled life and worldview. The changes I suggest won't force you to revamp your old life, merely change your focus. I've seen everyone from stressed out moms to hard charging executives benefit. Let my prescriptions be champions of inspiration, an antidote to conformity and complacency. Gaining more energy doesn't only mean you'll be ultra-productive at work, excel at time management, or run a marathon in record time. It also means you'll be able to breathe in the sweetness of night-blooming jasmine, marvel at the sight of storms converging in the twilight sky, or giggle unpredictably at the silliest things. It means that you are committed, personally and politically, to not leading a life tyrannized by fear--rather guiding your actions by the heart and intuition.

Postive Energy is about slowing down time to match your natural rhythms so you can be fully present for your life. What has this done for me? Colors are brighter, the scent of the sea more pungent, my lover more mine. And I more his. Our stay on Earth is far too short. If you're like me, you won't stand for missing a single moment. Recovering your energy means recovering your most impassioned self--a revolutionary process that subverts all people and situations seeking to keep you small. My deepest wish is that you join me in this practice and quest.

Excerpted from Positive Energy by Judith Orloff, M.D. Copyright © 2004 by Judith Orloff, M.D. For more information about Positive Energy or Dr. Orloff's lecture schedule: www.drjudithorloff.com
  • Brian Dakss

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