But when anyone begins a process of change, it's usually not a great idea to set the hardest goal first. You want to take small steps that you can more easily accomplish and that will build confidence as you test out a more imperfect, vulnerable self. Remember, you want to set yourself up for success and hope. Your goal is to be vulnerable. Following this idea, you could text a friend to see if she can meet for a cup of coffee, with the intention of telling her about reading this book. If you struggle or can't "make" yourself risk being vulnerable as of yet, no worries. But at least go in with that intention. Remember the whole "Rome wasn't built a day" thing. Be patient and persistent. You'll get there in your own time. Good luck! I'm going to present you with what I hope are a lot of extremely thought-provoking questions, designed to bring you back into contact with your authentic self. By answering the questions honestly and thoughtfully, you will begin to exercise the real power that comes with the courage of honesty. You will learn that you cannot be who and what you are unless you have a lifestyle, both internally and externally, that is designed to support that definition of self. Once you take control of such things as your internal dialogue (you're not going to believe the crap that you've been telling yourself), and your other interpretive behaviors, you are going to love the power you have to create the experience you want. All of this is likely to be a huge stretch, because it will mean letting go of some long-standing and powerful momentums in your life. Remember: You must be willing to challenge virtually every thought, attitude, behavior pattern, and life circumstance in which you find yourself. To sum up: You have a self-concept and I want you to know how you got it. It didn't just happen. You entered this world with certain core qualities and characteristics, but almost immediately the world began to write on the slate that is you.

You have been both an active and a passive participant in its creation. To some extent, your self-concept was forced on you by others, and to some extent you have just automatically accepted it, even elicited it. Either way, you became who you are living as today and I intend to show you how to take total control of you and this process of fashioning your "self," in the here and now. When we are finished, you will be able to fully and completely overwhelm your history and momentum. Together, let's find out what your self-concept really contains. Let's challenge every message you have ever been given about yourself and discard those messages that are toxic. And let the destination that we're traveling toward be this: From here forward, your external and internal factors will be affected by you, instead of the other way around. You are likely aware of the multitude of law of attraction DVDs and books. Does it work? Well, yes and no. A light switch works to give you light, though only if you physically move it. You could sit and will it to flick down or up. What a waste of more energy. Believe, think, emotion/feel, DO! If you haven't manifested your desires yet, the ones that lead you to smile, it will be a few factors related to you. Manifesting is an inevitable process. You process this continually. You are either manifesting your desires or something else. Stay focused on the desires. Allegedly, we have 60,000 thoughts a day.

I cannot find any absolute scientific evidence of this. However, what the figure happens to be is irrelevant. We have a choice. Our desires, or opposingly, the things we don't want. In short, focus on the troubles you are thinking now or focus on moving towards smiling. Secondary benefits can come into play, like enjoying attention for being a victim, resistance, friends and family influence, fear, and not taking action. In other words, a belief that continuing to receive what you consciously don't want is attracted by your subconscious, which believes there are positive outcomes for continuing what you don't want! Confused? Read it again. It is beginning to make sense. Focus on what you want. How do you know if it is really what you want? Many of us can feel depleted in the face of busy modern life in a material world. Perhaps we push on day to day, over-filling our schedules and feeling far too busy to rest, relax and care for ourselves. Perhaps we are anxious and not sleeping well. Perhaps we are striving very hard towards a particular goal and our balance of work, rest and play feels right off kilter. Whatever the case may be, re-establishing connection with our spirits is an empowering way of embracing ourselves and our lives with healing, energising love. In what has been an age of consumption and distraction, we are beginning to see that our connection to ourselves is of utmost preciousness. The grace we come to embody through deep self-awareness and care allows us to be authentic and present in all the moments we live. In order to live fulsome, magical lives in our modern world we are being called to notice and integrate the different layers of our sensory experiences.

We are being invited to acknowledge the multidimensionality of our humanness, and tend lovingly to the worlds both within and around us. The brain is networked with what scientists call reward pathways and reward centers, as we've described earlier in the book. When we engage in stimulating activities that we experience as pleasurable--whether that be a delicious pizza, beautiful music, or a loving touch--these pathways trigger the release of endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter associated with positive emotion. The proper balance and interaction of these substances help to create the biochemical and psychosocial conditions that support well-being and help counter the effects of stress. But when you don't have enough healthy sources of pleasure in your daily life, you don't experience a cascade of positive neurochemicals, thus resulting in a "reward deficiency," which in turn may trigger a state of depression or anxiety. These negative states may make you more inclined to seek out self-comforting and pain-avoidant behaviors, potentially leading to harmful addictions, cravings, and compulsions. You've lived much of your life rarely, if ever, asking for help. Going it alone is something you're quite accustomed to doing. You've worked hard to be seen as self-sufficient, the problem solver in a group, or the person who can take charge and get things done. You trust in your ability to help others. Your perfectionistic drive has led you to hide whatever problems might arise, especially those problems associated with feeling confused or lost. The fact that you picked up this book at all is a minor miracle. Even accepting help from this book may feel like you're failing somehow. But going it alone is another major stumbling block to your healing. You're struggling with perfectly hidden depression in part because you haven't asked safe, supportive people for what you need. Now is the time to build a support network. Beginning to cope with whatever trauma might be in your past is very difficult work. You may even cringe when you read the word "trauma." You might think, I wouldn't call it that. That's too dramatic for what happened to me. But keep in mind that you've discounted your pain for years--and it isn't easy to stop.

I've included the stories of others who've covered up their true selves in order to address this tendency to discount what happened in your life. When you read their stories, do you recognize their pain? Loss? Unexpressed grief? I bet you do. That's trauma! Please hold that same yardstick up to yourself. If you think about that for a minute, it's not as outrageous as it sounds. An airline pilot once described his job as hours and hours of total, monotonous boredom, punctuated by moments of stark terror! Isn't that life? Days and days of routineness and monotony, all of which has little impact on you or anyone or anything, punctuated by defining, critical, and pivotal happenings, some that take place in the blink of an eye. Scary thought, I know, but good or bad, that's the deal, and we have to get real about it to understand and take control of your self-concept. Some of your ten defining moments, seven critical choices, and five pivotal people have provided positive input to your self-concept, lifting up and affirming your authentic self. Other defining moments, critical choices, and pivotal people have poisoned that authenticity and distorted how you see yourself. You will be amazed by the clarity you will gain when you identify these key factors, when you mentally and emotionally step back and take a view of life in which the routine, mundane minutiae simply drop away, and you instead highlight just the outcome-determinative occurrences and players from your life. It will be like looking at one of those optical illusion "magic eye" pictures, consisting of thousands of dots of color with an image disguised and embedded somewhere within them. (I hate to admit it, but I have never been able to see the damn image until someone points it out to me!) Once you take away all the background minutiae, the camouflage wallpaper that conceals the target image, then that image of course becomes crystal clear. The ten defining moments, seven critical choices, and five pivotal people from your life are that image. When you focus on just those key external experiences, the origin of your self-concept will be revealed to you with shocking clarity. As fitness develops, your muscles will increase their ability to generate energy.