Reaching Goals Through Depression
“So what you focus on you attract, and if you get really super specific in what you do want your subconscious will be moved to try to get it”
Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Jan 6th, 2020 | Updated Jan 6th, 2020.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind Humanic a quantified self platform. Today, he sits down with Kirsten Weinzielrl, the founder of Obtaining Bliss, to talk about how to reach goals while battling through depression.
8 Minute Read
“Leverage is about shifting the perception. Depression makes us get stuck. It stagnates us. And the longer we’re depressed, the worse it gets.”
Today Humanic has the opportunity to sit down and chat with Kirsten Weinzierl about her work over at Obtaining Bliss about helping people struggeling through depression reach their goals. Let’s jump in!
First of all, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today about your experience in the self-betterment space. You have a unique perspective because your path has been quite different than most. You’ve had to quest towards your goals, at least during certain parts of your life, while battling with depression. I want to chat with you in more detail today about goal planning and goal attainment through depression. On your blog, you talk about the importance of using Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC) as a tool to help you achieve goals. Can you begin by telling us a little bit more about what this is and how you’ve used NAC within your life as you’ve quested towards your personal goals?
Neuro-Associative Conditioning is the process in which you become hyper-aware of the negative beliefs you have and re-condition yourself neurologically to be able to achieve a goal.
I’ve used this process very successfully in my marriage. Because of a past abusive relationship I had a lot of negative beliefs about relationships and what love looked like. There were a lot of triggers that would “set me off” and my poor, amazingly patient, darling husband was the brunt of a lot of my outbursts. I would justify these outbursts and lash out at my husband with the fact that I had been abused in my previous relationship. I had the belief because of my abusive past relationship my husband should know how to talk to me, how to act around me, etc. Basically, I got stuck in victim mode and expected everyone else around me to cater to me.
I used the NAC process to become aware of those limiting beliefs, figure out where those beliefs came from and realized how they got formed. Once I became hyper-aware of those beliefs, I realized the behaviors I exhibited associated with those beliefs, I was able to better work through my own issues and heal. As a result of this self-awareness, reconditioning and healing I ultimately saved my marriage.
On your blog, you mention that the first step when it comes to goal setting, is to focus on what you want. Can you tell us more about the importance of this step and how you’ve successfully used it within your own life to obtain a goal?
This step is super important. If you don’t know what it is you want how can you ever expect to get it? A lot of times we are so busy focusing on what we don’t want. However, when we constantly focus on what we don’t want, that’s exactly what we attract to our life. The biggest reason we block ourselves from reaching our goals is that we are not focusing on what we want. Our brains may know exactly what we want, but our body (subconscious) cannot tell the difference between what you do and don’t want. So what you focus on you attract, and if you get really super specific in what you do want your subconscious will be moved to try to get it.
I’ll use the same example as I did within my marriage. After getting out of an abusive relationship it’s super easy to focus on what we don’t want in a relationship. Because what we didn’t want, we lived through daily. So, in my case, with my husband who wasn’t abusive, I needed to shift my focus on what I did want. Part of that shift had a lot to do with me feeling safe, having boundaries, and being able to share my thoughts.
To make this shift and figure out what I did really want, I got deep. I journaled a lot on this and it takes some trial and error to get it just right. Here are some examples of things I did want in my relationship:
I wanted connection with my spouse daily.
I wanted to give and feel love daily.
I wanted to be able to open up to my spouse.
I wanted to feel safe to share anything with my spouse.
I wanted to have deep conversations with my spouse.
I wanted disagreements to be calm and loving.
I wanted to have healthy arguments where we showed each other the utmost respect.
Next, you talk about the importance of using leverage. Can you tell us a little bit more about what leverage is and how people struggling through depression can use leverage to their favor? Are there some forms of leverage that you’ve seen more successfully used than others?
Leverage is about shifting the perception. Depression makes us get stuck. It stagnates us. And the longer we’re depressed, the worse it gets. With goals, in most cases, it’s great to get momentum and then continue to build upon that. When a person struggles with depression it can be near impossible to even begin to get any kind of momentum going.
This is where using the right kind of leverage will be the push to get that ball rolling. The leverage I talk about in my blog post references associating massive pain by NOT changing and associating massive pleasure with making a change right now. This will help create a sense of urgency to take action through an uncomfortable situation.
Our subconscious mind is trying to keep you safe by stagnating you. It’s kind of like “freeze so the predator doesn’t see you and kill you”. Even though we know consciously we’re not really going to die by making a change, it feels like we are and our subconscious (aka body) will take over and shut things down to protect you from that perceived threat.
So, using the leverage of associating MORE pain to not changing, will help you override your subconscious from keeping you stuck.
When it comes to goal attainment you also talk about the importance of interrupting the limiting pattern and breaking negative associations. How do you become aware of your own limiting patterns and what steps do you personally take to overcome it?
To become more aware of what our limiting patterns, behaviors, and thoughts are, we need to slow down. And I mean, REALLY… SLOW… DOWN.
To do this, meditate.
With depression (and anxiety) our thoughts can become increasingly very toxic. And once we’ve let these thoughts become the daily norm, it becomes ingrained in us becoming who we are. It’s difficult to be aware of something that’s become the “norm”.
So to become aware of these thoughts and patterns we need to do something outside the norm. Listen, really listen and then document. When I first started doing this it was difficult to realize the patterns in the moment. But when I took the time to sit down and think about what some of those patterns could be – things started to come to me. As they would come to me, I would write them down. [writing things down commits it to memory] As I would go throughout my day things would come up and I’d be like “oh, well that really seems like a limiting belief, pattern, or behavior” and I’d write it down or make a note of it on my phone.
Some good questions to ask yourself to help identify if it’s a limiting belief are:
Is this belief serving me or is it limiting me in some way?
Is this really the truth or is it something used to protect me in some way?
Is this an excuse not to do something?
Where did this belief come from?
Oh and If the word can’t is part of the belief – it’s probably limiting.
Once you start realizing and writing down what these limiting beliefs and behaviors are you will start to become aware of them when they happen.
It’s a good idea to come up with empowering beliefs to counter-act these limiting ones. So that when they do come up you can shift your perception of the situation and react/behave in a more empowering way.
You also talk about the importance of affirmations. How do you incorporate affirmations into your life and how big of a role have they played for you personally?
Affirmations are important in the beginning. But the trick is coming up with affirmations you actually believe in. Because if you come up with an affirmation like “I am a successful wealthy entrepreneur” and your brain is shouting “bullshit!!” The affirmation won’t be effective.
I’ve found having depression and anxiety will counter-act dang near all affirmations you can come up with.
The trick I’ve found that worked for me is using afformations. Afformations are basically affirmations but in the form of a question.
Using the example above, “I am a successful wealthy entrepreneur” phrase it in the form of a question “Why am I such a successful wealthy entrepreneur?”
By phrasing it in the form of a [positive] question you’re tricking your brain. Because your brain will really want to answer that question. And even if it might not be true right now, it will try to answer it by making it true, hence forcing you to take action towards your goals.
Reaching your goals while struggling through depression is no easy task. There are so many opportunities to fall back or decide not to make progress today. One important strategy you propose, is to create new empowering alternatives to bad behavior. Can you tell us an example of how you’ve incorporated this into your life while striving to your goals?
One behavior I’ve shifted is from labeling things as an absolute (i.e. good or bad, black or white, can or can’t). I think that phrasing limits us and neurologically sends the message that if something is “bad” and we’ve done it or acted badly then we feel shame and punish ourselves.
With depression, we need to be even more mindful of how we word things so that they empower us, not hold us back or make us feel less than or guilty.
One important strategy is to get out of the habit of feeling disempowering emotions and be intentional with feeling empowering ones.
Emotions are what shape our thoughts and beliefs. And if we continuously get addicted and stuck in low energy emotions, we’re just going to attract more of those. That is how we get stuck in a cycle and how depression and anxiety form. Negative/low energy/limiting emotions can become addictive.
To reverse the habit of disempowering beliefs we need to get in the habit of feeling high-vibe emotions. Courage, strength, gratitude, love, to name a few. Even if for just 20 minutes a day. I do this through guided meditation and it’s a HUGE game changer that has immediate and noticeable effects.
Obviously the importance of creating new patterns and being consistent is key to the success of any goal attainment campaign. However, with multiple changes to make, planning can lead to further anxiety. How important has scheduling activity been in your own quest towards your goals? How have you personally approach goal setting, scheduling, and milestones?
I personally got in the habit of setting so many goals and I became overwhelmed and then wouldn’t even try for any of them because it wasn’t working.
I would do SMART goals, but those didn’t work for me either. Again, I’d get overwhelmed and then get frustrated when I didn’t accomplish the goal in the time I originally thought I could. So I started taking the “T” out. I believe when I have anxiety and depression the best thing I can do is to make mental health and healing my #1 priority. And to make sure any goals I made or planned for aligned with that priority.
So basically, your reason for wanting to achieve your goals has to align with your priorities. If a goal violates your #1 priority or will compromise it in any way, you’ll self-sabotage.
Before setting any goals, I set my priorities. Then I set goals that align with my priorities. The next step I take is I set the emotion I want to attain from that goal. Because emotions are the strongest motivators and the biggest magnet.
To attain the goal, I now know the empowering emotion tied to that goal. I’ve really gotten away from setting a deadline because that can set me up for feeling like a failure (see those darn emotions coming into play again). But, by intentionally getting into a mind space of feeling those emotions aligned with my goals each morning (takes like 5 minutes) and reminding myself of those emotions and goals I stay focused to act in that direction.
What are the three most common obstacles that you see people with depression face when it comes to reaching their goals? How would you suggest they overcome those obstacles?
The 3 most common obstacles I see are:
1) Focusing on what they DON’T want instead of what they do (see above for how to overcome that)
2) Not aligning goals with priorities. I touched on this in the last question. But I want to reiterate it in maybe another way. You have to dig into what’s important to you right now. Your priorities could be time with your kids, time with your spouse, time healing yourself. Whatever it is if your goals contradict your priorities, you won’t be able to attain those goals.
3) The third thing is to get clarity around your goal. You need to know why you want this goal and clear any feelings of unworthiness you may have around it. Sometimes we want something because it will make us feel a certain thing or more special than others. Other times we want something because it’ll help us avoid something we don’t want to face.
For example: maybe you want a promotion so your family will approve of you. Maybe you want a relationship because you won’t feel whole on your own.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting a promotion or a relationship. But as you can see these examples are coming from a place of neediness and fear. This comes up a lot for people who have depression and anxiety. So you can still want these things, but check in with the energy that is backing it up. (going back to empowering beliefs) Shift your desire for your goals to that of joy and ask yourself these questions when setting goals:
In what ways does my desire bring me joy? How does my joy bring more service, love, and inspiration to the world?
This has been an amazing and really insightful interview Kirsten. We really appreciate you taking the time to speak with our quantified self blog audience today about your experiences reaching your goals through depression. I know there will be many people reading this who will have some actionable takeaways today. To our blog audience, if you’d like to learn more about Kirsten and the work she does over at Obtaining Bliss, you can head over to her website here.
Compete with yesterday’s version of yourself.
Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Jan 6th, 2020 | Updated Jan 6th, 2020.
Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind Humanic, a quantified self platform So, if you’re kinda into things like personal growth, transformation and reaching your goals, then be sure to check out our homepage.
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