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The Results Are In: Direction and Willpower are the Biggest Challenges By Far

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who filled out our short Resilience Survey. As promised, here are the results. The average scores per question are out of ten.

1. I have a written vision for how I want each area of my life to be (e.g., Health, Relationships, Career/Finances, Spiritual Life). 3.6/10
2. I read over this written vision for my life at least once a day. 2.1/10
3. I know exactly what I want to accomplish in each area of my life this year, this month, this week and today. 3.5/10
4. I have identified all the specific skills I don’t have and will need to make this future vision a reality. 3.7/10
5. In each area of my life, I have identified the 1-3 specific ACTIVITIES that will most contribute to the results I want. 3.6/10
6. I devote about 80% of my time and energy to doing these specific activities (mentioned in the previous question). 3.2/10
7. I have taken steps to simplify my life and I feel it is “under control”. 5.2/10
8. I see myself as a highly competent expert in my job / career. 6.2/10
9. I see myself as highly competent in my roles as spouse and parent (If currently fulfilling only 1 of these 2 roles, rate that one. If you don’t have a spouse or children, give yourself a 7). 6.9/10
10. I spend at least 30 minutes a day in quiet meditation. 5.6/10
11. I look after myself by getting enough exercise every week. 5.4/10
12. I look after myself by eating a diet of healthy, living foods, appropriate to my age, sex, body type and activity level. 6.2/10
13. I spend time every week keeping in touch with my network of friends, neighbors, colleagues, and work/business contacts, for the sole purpose of staying connected and letting them know I care. 5.4/10
14. I have completely and unreservedly forgiven everyone who has ever wronged me. 6.3/10
15. I’m so organized that, when I get up each day, I know exactly what I want to accomplish without having to think about it. 4.6/10
16. During my daily tasks, I always distinguish between what appears “urgent” and what’s truly important, and I focus as much as possible on the latter. 5.8/10
17. If I needed to teach someone how to take back control of their time and their life, I would feel perfectly comfortable saying “Do what I do”. 4.6/10
18. I accept full and complete responsibility for everything that happens in my life, as proven by the fact that I never complain about anything and never fall into the victim mindset. 6.7/10
19. When I read over my goals, I feel complete inner assurance that I can achieve them. 5.3/10
20. I regularly practice an energy-psychology method for reducing or eliminating my doubts, fears and self-limiting beliefs. (Examples of such methods would be: the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Quantum Emotional Clearing (QEC) or others. 5.6/10
21. I generally have enough time every day to accomplish what I want to. 5.9/10
22. I generally have enough physical and mental energy to easily accomplish what I want to on any given day. 5.7/10
23. I consciously monitor my thoughts to ensure I stay focused on what I do want, rather than on what I don’t want. 6/10
24. Whenever I begin a new activity during the day, I take a moment to intend and visualize the results I want. 4.4/10
25. I have positive emotional attitudes about money and never worry about a lack of it. 4.9/10
26. I have a positive emotional attitude about relationships and easily attract the relationships I want. 5.2/10
27. When I read over my goals or think about them, I feel enthusiasm and not inner resistance, fears or doubts. 5/10
28. When I wake up every weekday, I feel enthusiasm for what I’ll be doing that day. 5.3/10
29. I do everything I can to maintain a positive emotional state, knowing that my emotional state is a major factor in my success. 7/10
30. As I move toward my goals, I always feel “pulled” by inspiration and never as if I have to “push” myself by force. 5.8/10

What Does This Mean?

If the results are to be believed, about half of you have major work to do in most areas, particularly on the goal-setting and mindset aspects of personal resilience. Anything to do with systematic goal-setting or goal-visualisation showed particularly low scores. It would be a mistake to think that this is “simply” a problem of not applying the methods. The key question here is 27- your average score for having a positive assurance about your goals is only 5/10.

The comments you wrote were even more illuminating than your answers. While some people found this survey a wake-up call for more systematic goal-setting or a confirmation of the direction they’re already taking, many of the comments suggest a profound struggle with and frustration over willpower, consistency and finding a direction. There are a lot of people feeling “stuck in a dead man’s zone,” to quote one commenter.

I Still Haven’t Cleared My Programming/ Emotional Blocks

A related complaint was that, even after years of trying to live consciously, to use the methods of energy psychology to uproot negative childhood programming and emotional blockages, there’s still something there, a big one you can’t seem to get at. Some people have identified themselves as struggling with a victim mindset or a feeling of being trapped by their circumstances- including their financial situation, as the average score for Question 25 suggests. This is also the result of deep-seated programming.

The first thing to recognise is that the two problems, willpower/clarity and mindset, are related. If you’re having trouble with willpower, consistency and clarity, there’s almost certainly a big bit of programming sabotaging you. The truth is that energy psychology methods are often far too pleased with themselves for the flashy emotional and physical healings they achieve on a regular basis- classic phobias, for example, are relatively easy to deal with.

Deep-seated beliefs are quite another matter. I know one person who, after more than three years of intensive work with energy psychology, including EFT, BEST and other methods, was no closer to uprooting the central problem despite many obviously powerful healing experiences. It was only by teaching himself to use the fourth step of Dr. Joe Dispenza’s method that the nature and inciting incident of his false belief were revealed to him. The point is that the main thing is to keep at it until you find it, no matter how long it takes. Regular and determined effort is critical- judging by Question 20, that’s something for many people to work on.


Quite a few of your comments amount to beating yourselves up about not being able to commit or persist. You have to realise that until you get your programming clear, your capacities will not be your own to direct, no matter how hard you try.

There is a certain pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality when it comes to willpower. It says that willpower comes from exercising willpower, the implication being that if you don’t have willpower, it’s probably because you’re lazy. This, frankly, is crap.

Until you clear your controlling and self-limiting programs, whatever they are, your capacities are not entirely yours to direct. You can commit yourself and recommit yourself to building willpower day after day, but it may not matter, because your energy, your focus is being sapped somewhere else. This is where Question 30 comes in- you aren’t in a state where you can be motivated by inspiration.

Once you clear that program, then yes, you can start to build willpower, persistence, goal-setting and organisational skills by going out and doing it, preferably with the help and advice of someone who will hold you accountable as you progress (as some of you suggested). In no tradition of spiritual development are you expected to learn this on your own.

Once you have your programming clear, then you can begin to consciously and systematically change your life, and in fact you must do this- simply getting rid of the block will feel great, but you still have to grow from the person you were into the person you want to be. There’s no substitute for action in the real world.

Get Clear on Principles and Desires to Get Clear on Goals

If you’re not yet clear on your goals and direction, the best thing you can do is be clear on your core values, the things that are most important to you in life, the things you want to contribute to the world. Once you have a strong foundation of values, you have a basis for action.

The next thing you need to do is find your core desires. Jack Zufelt correctly points out that we only pursue our goals with discipline and persistence when they correspond to a core desire. Even if what we have to do at a given moment is of no interest to us, as long as it propels us toward that core desire, we’ll stick with it. The catch is, most of us don’t know our core desires. The basic goal-setting questions we’re all familiar with take us only so far. Once we answer these questions, we have to ask another one: If I had that, was that or could do that, what would it give me and how would it make me feel? This is basically a why question. Why do I want this? We may have to ask this over and over again, until we come to the one thing that resonates totally, our basic core desire.


This survey has shown up some of the basic roadblocks to the effective and consistent action that constitutes personal resilience: lingering childhood programming and emotional blocks sabotaging willpower, clarity and belief, disconnection between basic desires and goals, and lack of guidance by someone who can coach you in applying these methods consistently and hold you accountable. As far as putting 80% of your effort into what really counts, these are the areas where you can start to get some traction. Our own coaching program launches soon, and I look forward to working one-on-one with some of you there.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

The Keys to Creating Yourself in Quotes

Self-esteem, persistence, courage and belief are interrelated and inseparable keys to personal development, resilience and success, in fact to the human creative faculty itself. They are also persistently and consistently suppressed in our culture.

We are taught from an early age that our prospects in life depend on how others perceive us. We are discouraged from taking risks and following our dreams in the name of “realism” which is nothing more than skepticism in disguise. By allowing this belief structure of victimhood, dissuasion and discouragement to rule our lives, we crush our own innate creative capacity to manifest beauty, goodness and truth in the world.

It is not in the nature of human beings to experience happiness or fulfillment unless they are creating something good in the world, in accordance with the unique vision and passion that is given to each of us. This is an inconvenient truth for many societies, a disruptive and uncomfortable truth, a truth that rejects conformity and denounces the image of human being as a compliant worker in the halls of industry as a sin against human nature.

This ongoing and worldwide struggle with the forces of discouragement goes on in the battlefields of our hearts and minds and spirits. We offer these quotes as inspiration to press onward to victory in that struggle.


“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
– Frederick Douglass

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
– Carl Jung

“I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.”
– Henry James

“Don’t waste your energy trying to change opinions … Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.”
– Tina Fey

“No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible worker does not knock those who work with him. Don’t knock your friends. Don’t knock your enemies. Don’t knock yourself.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Shakyamuni Buddha

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself.”
– Anais Nin

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anaïs Nin

“Let’s remember that our children’s spirits are more important than any material things. When we do, self-esteem and love blossoms and grows more beautifully than any bed of flowers ever could.”
– Jack Canfield
“Greater self-esteem produces greater success, and greater success produces more high self-esteem, so it keeps on spiraling up.”
– Jack Canfield



“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill

“Let the man who has to make his fortune in life remember this maxim. Attacking is his only secret. Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb.”
– William Thackeray

“The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”
– Napoleon Hill

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
– Japanese Proverb

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
– Albert Einstein

“Saints are sinners who kept on going.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
– Mark Twain

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
– Anaïs Nin

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
– Robert Frost

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”
– Erma Bombeck

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
– John Quincy Adams

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”
– Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

“The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.”
– Brian Tracy

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.”
– Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“A man of courage is also full of faith.”
– Marcus Tulius Cicero

“Courage consists not in hazarding without fear; but being resolutely minded in a just cause.”
– Plutarch


“More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much.”
– P. T. Barnum

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”
– Anthony Robbins

“To believe a thing is impossible is to make it so.”
– French Proverb

“If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible.”
– Anthony Robbins

“One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.”
– John Stuart Mill

“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.”
– Dale Carnegie

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.”
– James Joyce

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright


We see from these quotes not only the importance of these four keys to the creative force, but their interrelation. Courage rests on self-esteem, persistence arises from belief, and each of these qualities multiplies each of the others. We also see traces of the correct and incorrect forms of each of these qualities, as in Twain’s quote about moral and physical courage. It is also clear that an academic, intellectual belief is not the kind of belief that can change the world. Hopefully, these quotes will inspire you to cultivate the sort of belief that can.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Mastering Self-Defense for Women

There is nothing more poisonous to personal resilience than constantly worrying about your physical safety- except for feeling so helpless against a threat to your safety that you do nothing to defend yourself or escape. Fear and helplessness are pernicious states of being, with repercussions far beyond any physical danger. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to know how to defend themselves and to feel empowered to do so.

That goes doubly for women. If you don’t think that you have it in you to defend yourself, that you’re not courageous enough or strong enough, think again. Society teaches women to be fearful, it tells them that they are not as brave as men. Believing that can be debilitating. The truth is, women can be enormously courageous. Kamla Devi, a middle-aged farmer in India, defended herself successfully against a leopard attack in a half-hour long struggle, ultimately killing her “assailant” with nothing but the farm tools in her hand. Leopards are quite a bit stronger than humans, and yet how many women every year allow themselves to be victims of physical abuse without fighting back? Without belief in yourself, you’ve already made yourself vulnerable and undermined your own resilience.


Keys to Women’s Self-Defense

The Logic of Courage

Many schools of women’s self-defense focus on avoidance and escape as their primary approaches. Alright, escape is always a preferred alternative. But it may not always be an option. More importantly, when adrenaline kicks in, you have a very short time to actively choose between the fight and flight responses, and it is imperative that you learn to choose “fight,” EVEN IF you’re going to run. Only in fight mode do we have the mindset of winning rather than just escaping, the ability to choose our own actions and exercise our intelligence rather than being governed by fear. The objective is to get to the point where you are no longer afraid of physical confrontation, but are confident in your ability to overcome, or at the very least to give a good account of yourself. This is the logic of courage, and win or lose, it carries none of the mental debilitation of the logic of fear.


Some Hard Truths

1. If you don’t train against live opponents in a serious way, you will not gain the feeling for body mechanics that you need in a self-defense situation.

2. If you don’t train seriously against (a variety of) men, you will not be able to defeat them in real life. Men have different body mechanics, different mass distribution, different musculature and different psychology than women. You must train against men both to get the feeling of it and to overcome any physical intimidation you may experience.

3. If you don’t train for victory, don’t bother training at all. Not every opponent you meet will be easily discouraged. You have to be prepared to do what it takes to neutralize your attacker’s ability to harm you or your family, and to do so when necessary without hesitation. This doesn’t have to mean inflicting lasting bodily harm (although that is always a possibility), but it does mean that you can’t hold back when an assailant escalates.

A few of the things to look for in a system:

– Hands-on practice at no less than half-strength.
– Real-world scenarios
– Approaches to dealing with multiple attackers, since escape is more difficult when you’re facing more people
– Focus on combat psychology
– Lots of striking practice, both delivering and receiving
– Grappling
– Knife, hard object and gun defense (tip: guns are actually pretty simple to deal with; it’s the knives you’ve really got to watch out for! )


Teaching Your Body to Think

The most effective martial arts provide exercises designed to help the body interpret and deal with incoming force in such a way that your body will do the thinking for you. This leaves your mind free to strategize.


Web Resources
Safe International’s blog offers information, news and tips about women’s self-defense.
The Women’s Self-Defense Institute blog offers information on controlling the dynamics of violent crime.!mindset-self-defense-magazine/clue
Mindset Self-Defense offers an online magazine dedicated to women’s self-defense topics.



The quality of instruction is the single most important factor in finding a place to learn self-defense, and there are plenty of systems for women’s self-defense developed more recently, but here are a few established options that we have the most confidence in.

Wing Chun, a Chinese martial art invented by a Buddhist nun, is an excellent way to hack self-defense. It teaches body alignment, combat angles, sensitivity to the opponent and simultaneous attack and defense. It is both relatively quick to learn and devastatingly effective when taught well. Make sure that you get lots of hands-on practice time, real-life scenarios and focus on modern problems like knives, guns, Western boxing and wrestling etc.

A Russian martial art developed for use by the Russian special forces (SPETSNAZ), Systema (Система) is deceptively soft, relatively quick to learn and provides you with principles and training you probably won’t find anywhere else. Systema is peerless in providing one-on-one (and one on two or three) experience. If you stick with it, it will teach you serenity in dangerous situations and remove your fear. You must, however, be prepared to face and conquer the two biggest fears of all beginners – falling and getting hit. Their training DVDs are well worth checking out for anyone learning any system.

Israeli Krav Maga is the world’s most popular modern self-defense system. It incorporates scenarios from real-world experience, and its methods have been extensively tested in real-life situations. If you can find a good Krav Maga school, you could do far worse.

One of China’s most respected battlefield martial arts, Xingyi is externally quite similar to Wing Chun. It is the quickest of the Chinese “internal” styles to learn. It is linear and aggressive, controlling and collapsing the opponent. Historically it was a favorite among security guards escorting valuable cargo across a countryside infested with bandits, so it has been well tested.

Several harder-edged versions of Aikido have emerged over the years under different names. Though I have tremendous respect for Ueshiba’s teachings, personal abilities and philosophy, his martial art as it has been transmitted tends to follow the movements of the master without inculcating his understanding of the energies of combat, the combative body or his experience of the messy side of self-defense.

Fortunately, some newer redactions of Aikido have reacted against the dumbing down of the self-defense aspects and definitely offer a viable alternative for women today.

For more information and video demonstrations, refer to our past posts here and here:


Call For Feedback

When we set out to find the best web resources for women’s self defense, we had no conception of the vacuum we were walking into! There are plenty of sites out there for individual local programs and schools, but very little in the way of hubs for general self-defense information and resources for women everywhere. We may end up doing something about this ourselves, but in the meantime, we’d like to ask for your feedback. Have you taken a women’s self-defense course? Are you a woman who’s been involved in martial arts more generally? Please share your experiences, impressions and opinions. How has the training impacted your confidence and your self-defense abilities? What was the quality of instruction? Post your comments below.

The 16th Annual Canadian Energy Psychology Conference

On October 24th, one of the most exciting events in personal development will be coming to Toronto. The Canadian Energy Psychology Conference has brought together practitioners, researchers and the interested public to talk about the therapeutic approaches we often talk about here for sixteen years.

What these approaches have in common is their holistic understanding of the human organism. Following in the footsteps of ancient medical and spiritual traditions, these people have recognised the interconnectedness of the human organism. The body, mind, emotions, energy system and spirit are profoundly interconnected. Just as we know that the mind can make the body sick or well, so we can use one element of the human organism to heal another.

Energy Psychology as a field starts from the insight that the body’s energy system as mapped primarily by traditional Chinese medicine stores emotional energy linked to neural pathways that surround particular sets of experiences, most notably traumatic experiences. It follows that by releasing that emotional energy, the brain can be freed to change in ways that classical psychology has never been able to achieve. The great thing is that this is not the only pathway to healing one part of the organism with another- you can approach it from all sorts of different directions. That realisation has the power to profoundly change the way that energy psychology sees itself.

So what does the field encompass? Well, here are a few past speakers whose names and approaches should be familiar to readers of this blog:

Dr. Gabor Maté

Brent Baum

Lynne McTaggart

Although I can’t make it this year, I’ve spoken at past conferences (you can see on parts of my keynote on this page), and the experience has always been tremendously rewarding and enabled me to connect with some truly amazing and talented people. Being able to spend three days with a group of highly intelligent, friendly and open-minded people whose primary focus is healing others is an electrifying experience. Their collective dedication to truth, to scientific rigor and their insistence on respecting the scientific method were very inspiring. As the website declares, “More than a conference, it’s an experience.”

If you’re in the area and would like a fantastic opportunity to connect with people who are serious about manifesting positive change for themselves and the world, I highly recommend that you consider attending.

Best of the Web: Traditional Medicine

While most of the focus on traditional medical practices on this site has been on Traditional Chinese Medicine, and, to a lesser extent, Ayurvedic and Sioux medicine, this only scratches the surface of what’s out there. This post is intended to provide a jumping off point for some of the best resources on the web encompassing a number of ancient medical traditions from around the world.

Benefits of Traditional Approaches

Although the Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions are by far the most comprehensive, representing as they do thousands of years of continuous recorded experimentation, equivalent traditions have existed in almost every culture, and these are slowly being explored and documented. The common denominators among these traditions include not only their concurrence with Hippocrates that food is medicine, but an understanding of the human organism as an integrated physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual being.

From this ancient knowledge comes not only a vast and elaborate pharmacopeia capable of addressing almost any problem the human body can come up with (see the video above for a taste of that), not only a library of other techniques, but an approach which seeks to prevent illness by supporting the immune system and strengthening the body, mind and energy system in a systematic way.


Exploring Traditional/Alternative Medicine

Because of the seeming difference in theoretical assumptions and terminology between Western and traditional medicine, exploring alternative medicine can seem like a chore. Determining whether any practitioner is competent or not is often more than a question of a degree hanging on a wall, though there are many recognised degree programs in the field. There is also the question of distinguishing between real knowledge with centuries of practical validation behind it, and worthless folklore of the type that funds poaching of rare animals for supposed aphrodisiacs. For all of these reasons, it is important to read, compare, get second opinions and at least begin to understand the theoretical underpinnings of the medicine you use. You and only you can ultimately be responsible for your health.


Traditional Chinese Medicine
Articles and information on acupuncture and all aspects of TCM.
Information and articles on the theory, practice and application of TCM. The information ranges from accessible primers for the novice to practitioner-oriented material on diagnosis and treatment.
Site of Daniel Reid, the author of some of the best practical books on health and lifestyle from a TCM perspective.
The Journal of Chinese Medicine, one of the foremost professional publications.
Site of Shou-Yu Liang, prominent and learned exponent of health qigong traditions.

Site of Robyn Landis, coauthor of the excellent traditional health primer Herbal Defense.
Site of Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Landis’ teacher.

Other Traditions
African Networks on Ethnomedicines, a South Africa-based organisation dedicated to research into local medical knowledge on the continent of Africa. The organisation also runs a peer-reviewed journal (
Tibetan Medicine resources.
Site hosting the texts of a number of classics of the Western herbal tradition.
The Center for Traditional Medicine supports research into indigenous medical traditions of the Americas.

General Sites
In addition to an extensive range of articles on Chinese medicine, the Institute for Traditional Medicine provides information on a range of other Asian traditions, including Ayurveda, Japanese, Mongolian and Southeast Asian traditions.
The Institute of Traditional Medicine (different from above) teaches a range of traditional and integrative approaches, and provides a vast selection of links and resources.
The Centre for International Ethnomedicinal Education and Research is an umbrella organisation for research into local medicinal knowledge worldwide.

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