Life is demanding we take charge of our own circumstances and create the life we want. That's the empowering message from NLP Master Trainers Tad and Adriana James who speak with Nicola Silva
As a child, I recall my mother being rather fond of this quote from Oscar Wilde, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." It reflected her generally sunny outlook, which has sustained her through the numerous crises that make up a life, including my father's untimely death.
"One of the things we believe is that people have all of the resources they need inside themselves to succeed," says Dr Tad James, NLP Master Trainer and creator of Time Line Therapy. "The problem is in general many people aren't in touch with those resources.
"That's not to say that these are not tough times, here and coming. But the focus is what holds you through."
"It's a tough time, I agree, it's stressful," adds his wife Adriana James. "Right now in the world, pretty much everywhere, people are afraid of economic problems."
A charismatic and articulate presenter, for over 25 Tad has been travelling in Europe, Japan, the United States and Australia to teach NLP, Time Line Therapy and also hypnosis.
He and Adriana recently arrived in Sydney on an NLP training tour. We're discussing the global financial situation, a topic on many lips.
"It's important to understand that even in tough times there are people who succeed," he says. "The people that don't succeed are the ones with the negative focus. The ones that do succeed ... keep their attention on what they want and regardless of what the outside circumstances are, they manage to focus on what they want and bring it to pass."
How do you turn a problem into an opportunity? It begins, say Tad and Adriana James, with training the mind, both conscious and unconscious, away from habitual negative patterns. This is where NLP, Time Line Therapy and hypnosis can be useful.
"It's important to understand that you're in charge of what goes on in your mind. So if I say to myself: Tad, don't think of a blue tree. What am I doing? I'm thinking of a blue tree!"
"Or if I'm overweight and thinking about being overweight what am I focusing on? The weight," Adriana interjects.
"We have to learn how to do something different," Tad continues. "We have to learn how to focus on what we want and the issue is focus. We need to pay attention to what we want and not pay attention to what we don't want.
Looking back on the Great Depression, Tad points out that while some people suffered, others became incredibly wealthy.
"What they did was they managed to turn the problem into an opportunity. They managed to focus on the solution rather than the problem. Some people focus on the problem. They go, 'Oh my God, it's terrible, maybe I'll get fired.' What are you focusing on? You're focusing on getting fired. Whereas if you focus on doing a better job, or making a difference to your company you'll do really well."
A recent NLP master class graduate of theirs, Tad says, negotiated a $45,000 increase in his IT job with a major Chicago company.
"We know that the process works. We know that people can get results doing this. We know that you can pretty much overcome anything that's out there."
What's out there is a lot of fear and anger. The Wall Street protests, thus far peaceful, are gaining momentum across the United States. Greece has witnessed violent riots linked to its austerity measures. Although Australia lives up to its lucky reputation, several State governments have announced public sector job cuts - 5,000 jobs will be lost in NSW.
All of us can relate to the visceral fear of losing your job.
"Fear is a real killer in terms of your success," Tad explains. "Because if you're afraid to try something you're not even going to do it - you will sit back and be afraid. During these uncertain economic times getting rid of fear is real important."
Tad and Adriana James teach techniques to release fear using Time Line Therapy, which was used in Croatia to help war victims suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.
"Everyone has a time line and the time line stretches from now back into the past as far back as it goes," Tad explains. "The time line also stretches out into the future. In quantum physics there's a lot made about the time line."
Time Line Therapy and the Basis of Personality, Tad James's first book, was published in 1988. Adriana shows me how to discover my time line by asking me to point to the past, very quickly and without thinking about it, in a direction around my body. I point over my left shoulder. Then she asks me to point in the direction of my future, which seems to be right in front of my eyes.
"Imagine a line from over your shoulder through now and going into the future. This is how you have your time line organised. Some people have it right to left, up to down, in different directions and that's fine as long as you know the difference between past and future!" she laughs.
According to Tad and Adriana James, the unconscious mind utilises the time line to organise memories in a linear fashion.
"The unconscious mind uses the time line to create chains of events," Adriana goes on. "It puts together all of the anger, for instance. So you have chains of negative emotions. The chain of anger, the chain of sadness, the chain of fear, the chain of depression and the chain of guilt. The time line is our entry to go in and clean those up."
Releasing negative emotions like fear, anger, sadness, guilt, can create change on many levels. Tad says, "Those emotions are really detrimental to consciousness and they lower your vibration. (When) we let go of the negative emotions using Time Line Therapy, what happens is the vibration of the body, the mind and the soul raises pretty much automatically."
It's a well known paradox that crises often bring out the best in people. "It seems that because we're forced to, we reach deep down and grab resources we didn't need before," Adriana says. "I don't look at the tough times we're going through as being something bad. I look at it as an opportunity for all of us to grow and evolve. Many people will find incredible abilities they didn't know were there before."
Travelling around the world has given Tad and Adriana James a global perspective of human nature. "It was almost like a surprise for us," Adriana laughs. "Once you put aside the social and cultural differences, people are just people.
"Above everything else, people want to be happy, healthy and enjoy life with their family, their friends. They want to have ... a good lifestyle, to enjoy a good vacation. These are the common traits all across the planet. This transcends, if you like, 'Oh I am black or I am white or I am a woman or I am a man or I am from Spain or I am from America. This is what unites us."
Tad adds, "Our travels around the world have shown us one thing; regardless of what language you speak it's possible to focus on what you want.
"When you focus on what you want you're able to create your future the way you want to.
"One of the rules is you can create your future. The future isn't fixed but you must create your future. If you don't create your future yourself, your future will be pre-determined by your family, your circumstances, by the world you live in."
Increasingly, life demands that we actively take charge of our circumstances, no matter how bleak.
Adriana recalls an exceptional breakthrough they had with a student who underwent the NLP master practitioner training. Initially, her demeanour had been shy and fearful. The training includes a segment called the board break where people use their hands to break a piece of wood. "She broke that board like it was a biscuit!"
Adriana later found out that this woman was living in an abusive relationship and had no money as she had been forced to give up her career. Among the many changes she later made was to end the relationship and return to her job.
"Three years later we met her again and she had bought a house and had started her own company. This woman got empowered; she discovered her inner resources. It was absolutely amazing because when she shared her story with us, everyone in the room was in tears."
Finally, Tad asks us to remember who we truly are. "Inspiring works from all cultures in the world tell us -you are love, you are light, you are joy, you are happiness. In fact, the Hindu system says you're sat chit ananda and that means love, joy and perpetual bliss."
"The only thing that prevents us experiencing the love, joy, happiness and bliss we truly are at the core of our being," Adriana adds, "are those things we call negative emotions, negative beliefs, limiting beliefs, limitations.
"Most people don't know that they have the power over their own mind and their own emotions. I don't mean power over in terms of being overpowering, I mean true empowerment. They don't know how to do it. That's what we show them."