Summary of “Unlimited”: In this book, sports and personal development coach Jillian Michaels makes us aware of our potential. She offers the keys, step by step, to developing our originality, achieving our objectives and living our dreams. Her book is a concrete method for taking your life in hand in order to thrive and reach fulfilment.
By Jillian Michaels, 2011, 261 pages.
Original title: Unlimited: a three-step plan for achieving your dreams.
This is a guest chronicle written by Enaëlle from the blog Les élans d’Ena.
Chronicle and summary of “Unlimited”:
Step 1: Imagination
Chapter 1: Identify your passion. What the hell do you want to do with your life?
In this first step, the author prepares us to go on a trip. She invites us to give free rein to our imagination, without imposing the limits that society wants to place on us.
You have the right to be happy. Let go of any guilt that you may feel when you decide to chase your dreams! Allow yourself to see life on a bigger scale! You owe it to yourself to exploit your maximum potential.
Taking herself as an example, Jillian Michaels is proof that dreams can become reality. From an overweight teenager, through sheer hard work and conviction, she became an incredibly successful sports coach. As trainer on the show The Biggest Loser, she helped hundreds of people take back control over their bodies and their lives. She has written a number of books and made more than 15 training DVDs. Jillian is a genuine inspiration in her field, thanks to her dynamic personality and extraordinary career path. She is a household name on the other side of the Atlantic.
Jillian Michaels tells us not to be afraid of failure, not to be afraid of our desires. She asks us to free ourselves from the “martyr concept”, doing what others expect of us and observing all the rules while hiding behind a smokescreen of responsibility. Have dreams! Living without dreams is like being lost at sea and allowing yourself be carried along by the waves without taking command of the ship.
The first step consists of discovering or rediscovering who you really are behind the daily demands. It involves finding out what you aspire to behind this sleepy exterior, this non-awareness of your being.
Using a series of targeted questions, the author guides us to see things more clearly. Do you prefer a physical job and are you more comfortable sitting at a desk? Do you do volunteer work? And do you prefer to work alone or do you like to feel part of a team? What are your beliefs and values? What do you care about most? Are you creative? Do you have an aptitude for science? This is to find out if you are moving in the right direction or if you are on the wrong track.
By examining your past experiences, by trying to discover what they have in common, by drawing up a list of your skills and areas of interest, by being attentive to your feelings and emotions, you will hear what your body is saying and listen to your thoughts and to silence.…Jillian Michaels asks us to determine our essence.
Chapter 2: It’s all in the details
Once you have a sense of your deepest aspirations, it is essential to get down to the specifics. Breaking down an overall vision into small objectives allows you to clearly identify the stages. That way, you can measure your progress and keep moving in the right direction with your motivation intact.
“I want more money” or “I want to get married” are not specific objectives. It matters to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. You can have more money, but still work at a job you hate. You can get married without necessarily being fulfilled. In order to illustrate her words, Jillian Michaels talks about the way she worked with candidates on The Biggest Loser. They were people who often arrived on the show with a lot of emotional baggage and deeply rooted negative conditioning.
These things led them to become morbidly obese. It was quite simple. She pushed them hard, sometimes to the point of physical exhaustion, in order to reach the psychological wounds. She carried out what she calls “demolition work” in the belief that you have to knock everything down in order to build a person up again on solid foundations. This process must go hand in hand with a firm intention to achieve your objectives. Otherwise, it will be nothing but useless suffering.
Jillian invites us to examine the contents of our dream in detail. What does it look like? We have to have a vision that is sufficiently clear and concrete for our actions to be a step towards achieving that dream.
To do this, creative visualisation is an excellent tool. Our brain cannot tell the difference between clearly imagined and strongly felt events and real events. This makes it a perfect tool to make our dreams become reality. Sometimes, we inflict unattainable objectives on ourselves in an unconscious attempt at self-sabotage. For example, dreaming of becoming a basketball champion when you measure 5ft 3”.
The more precise and detailed your vision, the better the chances of success. If you want to get a new job, visualise the journey from home to the workplace, what clothes you will wear, the light in your office, the plant facing the window, the faces of your colleagues, the surrounding sounds, etc… This precise vision will be incarnated in your mind in a positive way. Emotions are primordial for this. How will you feel at the end of the day, when you go home? You can focus on the joy and satisfaction you will feel when you reach your objective.
Create a link between visualisation and emotion and your dream will practically become reality. You can also contribute using your physical sensations. For example, if you want to lose 20 kilos, you can picture how you will feel when you slip into those size 12 trousers, feeling full of energy, sleek and toned. This is a technique that many world-class athletes use. Introducing pleasant physical sensations to the visualisation can help to anchor it in reality.
Another way to visualise your dream is to create a visualisation picture. This can be fun to do and it can really contribute to motivation and the sense of fulfilment you will get when you reach your objective. It also refines your vision. You can use a board with photos attached or a screen saver. What counts is that you regularly see a visual representation of your dream, so that it takes root in your sub-conscious.
Visualisation is a powerful tool. Practising it every day can lead you to a more positive reality.
Chapter 3: Say a little prayer
This is a slightly controversial chapter in the book, and Jillian Michaels fully recognises it. She asks us to leave our prejudice to one side because she is convinced that this aspect of the method is absolutely essential to move forward. She is talking about spirituality, wish-making and meditation.
It is scientifically proven, and fairly logical, that our beliefs and our thoughts have a major influence on our daily reality. There is a close link between what we think and feel and what is happening around us. Let’s keep an open mind. There is no attempt to enlist readers here, simply a statement of fact. Sending out good vibrations, born from our positive desires and movements, prepares us physically, through the hormones released, to live out our success. Our way of thinking models our behaviour and our reactions to events. Positive thoughts lead us to act in a positive way. Consequently this leads us to a positive situation.
Now comes the subject of quantum mechanics, which has real importance, but is close to the edge of the rational. Quantum mechanics is the study of the properties of matter and energy on an atomic and sub-atomic scale. The idea is that because everything in the universe is made up of atoms, we are all connected and we are all one. Each one of us emits a certain vibrating frequency.
It varies in relation to our consciousness and our will. It is a question of the overall, of harmony. And it is therefore absurd and counter-production to believe that wanting to be happy and fulfilled is somehow selfish. Our energy has an influence on the results we obtain. This is a fact. It is also an excellent piece of news, because it gives us a certain amount of power. By changing the energy, we change our reactions, and therefore their consequences and therefore the result.
That is why we have to cast out toxic feelings of fear, loss and denial and welcome feelings of peace and abundance, no matter what the current situation.
For example, if I want to get a promotion, being jealous of the success of my colleagues will only damage me. I will be sending out a sub-conscious message about my lack of value and my inferiority. It is better for me to focus on my objectives and on the possible ways to get that promotion by concentrating on my abilities, my merits, and the successes from my past.
But Jillian Michaels reminds us that while meditation and visualisation are very efficient tools, they only work if we are proactive. It is of course necessary to take action, a non-negotiable condition for success. She specifies that it is fundamental to keep your mind open and enlightened. It is impossible to accurately predict the future. Success sometimes takes a detour and a different path to the one we were expecting.
We need to trust ourselves and have faith in our actions. Have faith in life.
The author ends this chapter by concluding that the mind is genuinely powerful. The question is to choose to allow this power to work in our favour. Depending on what we think and believe, our mind can hold us back or set us free.
That is why self-confidence is essential and it is the topic of the second step.
Step 2: Believe
Chapter 4: time for your wake-up call!
Do you think that it is possible for your dreams to come true if you are not certain that you deserve them? What if self-confidence is cruelly lacking?
For this second step, Jillian Michaels shows us how to channel our energy, to act despite fear and to redefine our self-image. Self-affirmation with conviction, strengthened self-respect.
It’s a great programme, but intense, and it includes leaving your comfort zone and taking risks.
For Jillian, personal development books that promise that change is easy and all it takes to become a new person in the morning is to recite some positive mantras before bed are misleading people. We all have a personal story. It has constructed our personality and our deeply rooted defence mechanisms come from it. Changing your reality requires changing your behaviour.
The first step consists of becoming aware of how you act, identifying your self-destructive habits. This deep self-observation can be uncomfortable. Your ego will not like it and you may feel overwhelmed, powerless when faced with who you are. Routine, even the one that puts us to sleep and we dream of escaping, is comfortable because it is recognisable.
Learning to consider our weak points and failings as opportunities to improve is the key to development. If we ignore or choose to ignore the weaknesses and wounds that condition our behaviour, we are doomed to reproducing the same pattern all the time. Taking back control of your life consists of becoming aware of destructive behaviour.
This step can be painful. Why do we devalue ourselves? What lessons can we draw from the past? Burying things is not a solution if we want to thrive.
The author encourages us to scratch below the surface, to put a finger on a sensitive area.
She suggests an introspective exercise, with questions that we may find it unpleasant and tricky to answer. What damaging behaviour do I want to change? What toxic scenarios keep repeating in my life? And what are the origins?
Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. I am becoming an observer of my feelings. What wells up spontaneously when I answer these questions? If I resolve these problems, they will stop haunting me, even sub-consciously. Then I can free myself from this negative conditioning.
Chapter 5: Forgive and accept responsibility.
Once you have clearly identified the past circumstances that are affecting the present, the next step consists of forgiving people who have hurt you.
The source of most self-destructive behaviour in adult life can be found in the childhood or teenage years. Sometimes, we simply didn’t have the means to avoid the bad things that befell us. We are a victim of circumstances. Therefore, it is unfair and cruel to blame ourselves by internalising the situation. We all know that: “I wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t funny enough, good-looking enough for so-and-so to love me or stop mistreating me”, etc. But if we have been a victim in the past, we can stop beating ourselves up and take responsibility for our present. This is where forgiveness turns out to be essential. Even if we are still hurt and furious and the very thought of forgiving those who hurt us seems impossible, we have to do it. Forgiving does not mean apologising for wounds or forgetting them. It means healing them.
Forgiveness allows us to detach ourselves from our conditioning and no longer allow what we have lived through and put up with to define us. Letting go releases us from old resentment and the negative emotions related to it. Resentment is bad for your health and takes you away from your dreams. It stops you from opening up new perspectives. Forgiveness acquits us of our status as victim.
Jillian Michaels reminds us that we are all mirrors: we project onto others the things that we do not like about ourselves. This allows us to understand that the wrongs we have been subjected to in the past were a projection of the problems endured by the person who hurt us. They are not the consequence of our own faults or our own failings.
These problems, that are not our problems, no longer have the power to destroy our self-esteem. This also allows a certain kind of empathy and this understanding leads to forgiveness.
Now of course if your sufferings were particularly traumatic and repeated, it can be extremely difficult to forgive. It takes time and requires patience and kindness.
To assimilate all this, in fact in every chapter, Jillian Michaels offers some exercises. They can guide us towards understanding of ourselves, our internal patterns, and they also invite us towards allocentrism and passion.
Now comes the time to take responsibility for our actions. If we stop blaming other people for our problems, we become more powerful. It increases our capacity to run our own life.
Responsibility does not mean guilt. There is no point in condemning yourself. You can decide to emphasize your strengths and your future success instead of bemoaning the obstacles you encounter and the difficulties you have to overcome.
According to Jillian, “we are powerful beings and we put ourselves into difficult situations in an unconscious effort to learn a lesson”. The exercise suggested places us squarely facing the nature of our problems and worries and opens our eyes to our responsibility.
Chapter 6: Get an attitude adjustment
Once you have become aware of your automatic reflexes and figured out where they come from, after forgiving and forgiving yourself by taking responsibility for your actions, it is time to envisage a genuine change.
Because our reality comes from our attitudes and beliefs, if it does not suit us or makes us unhappy, we have to completely revise it. If I am constantly putting myself down and telling myself that I am incapable, then there is a very good chance that my reality will match the image that I have of myself.
Once again, the author has us face ourselves. What am I scared of?
Listing our most intimate fears and linking them to our life and the problems we face helps us to realise how much of our own reality we create and how our behaviour contributes to maintaining our problems. Once again, it is a question of responsibility. If we fully and consciously accept it, we take back control.
Once you have assessed the situation and established the facts, what counts is to stop the constant negative reproduction in your sub-conscious mind. Your self-confidence is mainly the result of the image you have of yourself. Get rid of the roles that you play out of principle, duty and habit! The roles we play, often unconsciously established during childhood (he’s nice, she’s patient, he’s bad-tempered, etc…) hold us back. They are just the surface, an ersatz of who we really are.
To succeed, you have to believe. That is a truth. As long as you think you cannot succeed, you are holding yourself back. Our minds can be a prison. But it is certainly not easy to change the way we perceive ourselves. It is genuine de-conditioning work.
The exercise consists of identifying the roles we play in our own life that are stopping us from moving forward. Why do I not have enough money? Is it because I think I’m a loser? Because I convinced myself that I didn’t deserve it? Why do I carry those extra kilos? Because I am locked in the role of a big eater, a lazy person, someone who is not sporty? Is there any grain of truth in this story? Am I really a loser? What is stopping me from lacing up my trainers and going for a run? Am I really a monster who is not worthy of love or success? Evidently not. Jillian guides us towards unmasking the illusions that are the source of the negative image we have of ourselves in order to break free of the chains.
Once we do this, we are free to change our behaviour and to leave this negative image behind. This may push us towards making different choices. And making different choices leads to different results. Now she doesn’t claim for one second that this will be easy. Old habits die hard, as they say. But if we remain vigilant and determined, the small daily victories will contribute to redefining the way we see ourselves. This will strengthen our self-confidence and our capacity to achieve our dreams.
Chapter 7: Outer’tude
In this chapter, Jillian Michaels gives us the keys to reconnect with our inner circuits, in a way that mentally conditions us to face difficulties and failures and overcome obstacles, so that they become springboards to success.
She advises us to anchor ourselves in the present at first, as the best way to ease anxiety and its undesirable effects (sweaty palms, insomnia, migraine, addiction…). Often, we imagine the worst and lose our cool. It is not about sticking your head in the sand. Stop poisoning your life by anticipating things negatively.
Whatever happens, it is best to stay focussed and present.
Similarly, when you face a problem, you should focus on the solution. It is a state of mind. Being proactive can chase away a lot of stress.
There is no point in carrying it all on your shoulders. This is both painful and counter-productive. Asking advice from a third party can be a good move. They can offer a fresh perspective on the situation, look at it more objectively. This will also give you a sense of being supported, not facing the difficulty alone. It goes without saying that you should choose the person you are going to ask for help or advice wisely.
Jillian also talks about the lever that fear can represent at any given moment. We can channel our fears and use them. If we learn to dominate our fear, to become familiar with it, it can become a source of positive energy. The biggest fear of all is undoubtedly the fear of change. Even if we dream of a change, we dread the unknown. Resistance to change is the best way to stand still.
For Jillian, “fear indicates that the process of change is in motion; consequently, it is an integral part of the voyage that is life”. Have faith! When we trip up or when we feel as though fate has it in for us, if we know how to maintain a positive attitude, we will continue to develop and we can get the best out of any situation.
We can practice strengthening our tolerance threshold when faced with fear and tackle our demons.
The only real failure is when you don’t try
Once you have faced your fears, the best thing to do is let go. Let the pain flow through you because it contributes to the release.
After exercises designed to help us face our fears, and offering some ideas on how to overcome them, the chapter ends with this concept of karma – you reap what you sow. If I want life to be kind to me, I have to be kind.
As Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Chapter 8: Stop selling yourself short
“Unlimited” is founded on the belief that anything is possible for anyone. Jillian Michaels found one thing in common between all the people she helped in her life who were in a situation of failure. None of them had confidence in themselves, and they all had a low opinion of themselves.
One thing is absolutely essential to “release the forces that are sleeping inside you”: learn to have confidence in yourself. Whatever plan you have established, no matter how detailed it may be, if you are lacking in confidence, it will be extremely difficult to achieve.
“Low self-esteem is the toxic product gnawing away at the link that exists between your actions and your intentions”. Quite a revealing sentence, don’t you think? If I don’t have a healthy opinion of myself, my self-destructive habits will inevitably drain all the positive things from my life. This will happen in every area of life: family, professional, romance, relationships. There is no possible sense of well-being, no internal strength without good self-esteem and a certain amount of self-confidence. In fact, the latter is not imaginable without the former.
Jillian Michaels highlights something that speaks to me very strongly. Even if you reach an objective, you are inevitably doomed to go backwards. That little toxic voice whispering in your ear that you do not deserve this success or this happiness will lead you to destroy, albeit unconsciously, whatever you succeeded in accomplishing. She illustrates this state of things with her own example.
When she was younger, she systematically abandoned her goals just when she was on the point of achieving them. This happened even, if not especially, after making huge efforts to get to that place. For example, after working tirelessly to get a third dan red belt in Akarui-Do, she gave it all up overnight, even though the black belt was within reach. In the end, she got it four years later, after she understood that it was time for her to be herself and to stop identifying with the pudgy, unhappy, solitary kid she used to be.
So how do you go about transforming low self-esteem into healthy self-love?
First of all, you need to define what level you are at. Jillian suggests a little quiz that allows you to position yourself on a scale that ranges from self-disgust to self-love. This quiz points to guilt, putting yourself down, shame, anger, all the emotions and wounds that are the true enemies of success. Once we have the answers and we have a fair idea of where we stand, we can start to implement her methods. They invite us to reflect and strengthen our sense of self-worth. Our power is unlimited if we genuinely believe in it.
Jillian Michaels warns readers: this may require quite a lot of effort. It is more than likely that we will experience highs and lows. This happens frequently and we can often feel that we are walking backwards along the path to improvement and success. This is no time to feel guilty and especially no time to give up.
Draw up an inventory of your achievements and small victories, no matter how small and mundane (I did 10,000 steps today, I finished that book about personal development, I meditated for 5 minutes, etc.). Visit this inventory every time you feel self-doubt or discouraged or when you feel fearful. It is an excellent way of planting the seeds of what you are capable of doing in your mind – being strong and competent.
In this chapter, Jillian Michaels talks a lot about guilt. She describes the feeling as useless and dark. She believes that everything has a right to exist, except shame.
Even if you do something that makes you ashamed, in a very objective way, the feeling does not do you any good. It cannot resolve the problem, it often paralyses you instead of taking action because you feel that you are piling shame on top of shame.
Whether you are truly guilty or not, shame and guilt do not lead you anywhere. We all make mistakes. The only way to fix the problem is to learn from it, make amends and correct the situation.
Accentuate the positive side of things Pay attention to your internal monologue. It is the incarnation of your own reality. Stupid, lazy, good-for-nothing…how many times do we cut our own legs out from under ourselves? Treat yourself as a friend would treat you.
Jillian offers a little exercise in internal reprogramming. Replace the unhelpful comments that you say to yourself all day long with positive affirmations that are full of self-love. Make a list of your qualities, what you like about yourself. Society often asks us to be modest, or even to be self-deprecating. But remember that feeling great and unique does not mean that you think less of your neighbour. “There is nothing unhealthy about being aware of your own strengths”, insists Jillian Michaels.
A little exercise: write down at least 10 qualities you like about yourself. Take this list and read it out loud every time you feel miserable or mediocre.
Helping other people is also an effective way to revive a sense of your own value and gain confidence in yourself. You can look after your health too, both physical and emotional, have a rich social life, cultivate yourself, continue to learn… and smile!
This is the final chapter in the second part of Jillian Michaels’ book. It is a demanding section that requires a great deal of introspection. The third and final part of the book propels us forward: Action!
Step 3: Achieve!
Chapter 9: Hit the books – Then the deck
Never stop learning
Acquiring new knowledge, learning from our mistakes, specialising in a certain field, reading the biographies of successful people who came before us… Knowledge is an essential tool for growth.
When you know your subject, your choices are more relevant, your approach is more coherent and your chances of success are higher.
Jillian Michaels advises learning as much as possible on the subject of the objective you set yourself. Access to information is very easy these days. In fact, it’s so easy that we can sometimes drown under the weight of all the information, much of which may be contradictory. The key is to be sure to gather as much knowledge as you can and adapt it to your project, your personality and your life. You can also learn to follow your intuition, to have faith in your good sense. Often, when we make a decision and focus all our energy on it, the solutions to any eventual problems appear by themselves.
Having a mentor can be a tremendous help and save a lot of time and energy. Knowing how to ask for help is a strength. But finding a good mentor is not always easy, so Jillian Michaels gives us a few tools to succeed. Precisely determine your needs. Make a list of all the people who could potentially guide you. Aspire to become a person you admire. Don’t put all your money on the same horse…
And practice… This is a fundamental point on which the author insists. Targeted training is the most efficient and intelligent way to achieve your purposes. Be proactive (again!) and pay special attention to your weaknesses while consolidating your strengths. Your energy must be focused on what you have the power to change, in other words your own aptitudes and not outside circumstances. This kind of attitude allows you to manage most situations and to keep moving forward.
While Jillian Michaels concedes that some people have it easier from birth than others, she makes a special point of insisting that excellence is not the preserve of an elite. Anyone can master any discipline if they devote enough time and energy to it. Through repetition, things become second nature to us. This is physiological: the more we keep up the same thought pattern or behaviour, the more the neuronal circuit that carries the information attached to the thought or behaviour will strengthen. When you create new and positive circuits, the old negative circuits shrivel up and eventually disappear.
By targeted training, Jillian means: breaking down a global objective into sub-goals, permanent self-observation and self-control with immediate retroactive effect, and hours and hours of work. Joining a network is also very important. Gathering the opinions of qualified and experienced people is an excellent way to learn. This is also why a mentor is important. Sometimes, we are so involved with a topic that we have no perspective and we cannot see what is right under our nose! Real expert feedback saves a lot of time and effort. It also significantly increases the chances of success.
It is also essential to take responsibility. We have to learn from our mistakes in order to improve. What did I do right? What could I have done better? And what problems are holding me back? How can I overcome these difficulties? Our mind can overcome great challenges, and surprise us in doing so!
Chapter 10: Get organised
The first thing to do is to set your goals down on paper, in a precise way. It is not just a question of noting down the final result you want to achieve, but the entire process that will lead you there. You need to break the objective down into sub-goals, starting at the end. The final result will act as a reference for everything you are about to undertake.
Jillian Michaels advises us to break down the long-term objective using the “pyramid” tool. At the top of the pyramid stands the final objective. Just below are the monthly objectives, below them the weekly objectives, then the daily objectives, and finally, at the bottom of the pyramid are the immediate objectives.
By following this method, you move forward step by step. You can establish a reward system, too. It is a good way to stay motivated if you reward yourself every time you achieve a secondary goal. For example, if I want to lose 20kgs, I can treat myself to a manicure or a massage when I lose 5 kilos. Be good to yourself; pampering yourself is not a form of complacency. Quite the opposite, in fact. It contributes enormously to achieving your goals.
Setting aside some time to sort out your paperwork contributes to better organisation. So does archiving documents by creating folders for the different documents related to various activities.
Chapter 11: Create the right environment
Do not neglect the importance of your living and working space. Everything that surrounds us, the environment, the landscape, the objects, the sounds and smells have a direct influence on our thoughts and our behaviours. This is obvious. So it is quite important to create a favourable environment, filled with good vibrations.
The first task consists of looking around you and noticing anything that may shake your determination. If we go back to the example of losing weight, it would be very difficult for me to stick to a diet if my cupboards were full of chocolate, sweets and crisps. Will is a little like a muscle. It tends to get tired and this is a perfectly normal process. The more you use your will, the more tired it gets. Paradoxically, in the same way as a muscle, it also gets stronger.
Once you have precisely noted the potential sources of interference, you need to eliminate, avoid or replace them. Carry out a comprehensive reorganisation of your living space, using the help of feng-shui for example, without forgetting threats from society – the media, magazines, etc.
Objects are not the only things that can have an adverse effect. The people around us also pass on many of their habits. If we spend time with positive people, they will have a positive influence on us. The opposite is also true. We often learn by imitating the people around us. This interaction takes place in all areas of life: family, work, friends, religion…. That is why it is a very good idea to spend time with people who have succeeded in the same field or people you admire for their tenacity or self-assurance. It is not always easy to get in contact with those people, even if you start with the principle that they are approachable.
That is why the next chapter is devoted to the art of communication.
Chapter 12: Master communication.
In the first place, creating good relationships with other people is an excellent start. Knowing how to communicate means knowing how to talk, as well as how to listen, cooperate and collaborate. People who succeed understand the importance of social capital, in other words, networking. We return to our previous point. The people you know can make a difference.
Having good social capital allows you to learn the ropes of a profession, or perhaps broaden your horizons. You can climb the ladder and avoid a certain number of mistakes that are due to a lack of knowledge. It is wise to surround yourself with people who are more skilled than you are, or who have different, complementary skills.
Expressing your needs and your shortcomings, or even failings, is a sign of strength. You rarely get anything without asking. Being afraid to seek help or talk about your problems is a question of pride or self-esteem.
So, how can you improve your communication skills? Jillian Michaels gives us some ideas. Firstly, know how to listen. Try not to project your own experiences onto other people; you may interpret them incorrectly. Keep in mind that the other person does not have the same frame of reference as you. Experts in personal development talk about empathic listening. It means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and adopting their frame of reference.
There are two important advantages to knowing how to listen in this way. Firstly, you gain the other person’s trust and they will open up more. Secondly, you have an objective vision of the situation, not a projection that is full of suppositions.
As it is not necessarily easy to listen with empathy, the best thing is to practice remaining present and attentive. Gain some knowledge about body language as this will help you to better understand the other person and get your message across. Finds points of convergence in order to get past the points of divergence. Basically, get closer to the other person instead of pulling away from them.
The author invites us to open the path by asking some key questions. This shows that you are genuinely interested and know more about what the other person is thinking and feeling. This will allow you to determine their needs. Mastering leading questions also contains a certain advantage. Sometimes, it can allow you to get the other person to see your point of view. You cannot force change on people. You need to get them to feely opt for change, by highlighting the advantages and disadvantages using a series of targeted questions.
Next, keep an open mind. It is the key to making effective communication possible. Avoid becoming defensive or blaming the other person. This is the best way to end communication before it has even begun. Speak in the first person, about how you feel rather than making it about the other person. Be disposed to make compromises by finding the way to make the other person part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Cultivate mutual respect. These are the foundations of good communication.
Jillian Michaels suggests a very useful exercise when preparing to negotiate. Through a series of questions, she invites us to take our own objectives as well as those of others into consideration. Know what you are prepared to give up. Have a back-up plan. Draw lessons from the past and make a list of all possible solutions.
Chapter 13: Strengthen willpower and tame emotions
Willpower and emotions go hand in hand. Our unreasoned emotions cause us to act impulsively instead of giving ourselves the time we need to find solutions and maintain a positive dynamic. At the same time, a more rooted and solid form of willpower can be acquired with training. It is a skill that we can all cultivate, and not a genetic trait.
Jillian Michaels gives readers a method to calm our impulses when they appear and threaten to weaken our will. Deep breathing is one key. It contributes to eliminating stress and soothing the mind. When our attention is focused on our breathing, it is almost impossible to feel tense, impatient or annoyed. When we breathe, we can become aware of the possible consequences of our thoughtless actions when we give in to impulse. By taking the time to relax before doing anything, we drastically reduce the risk of swaying.
It is very important to learn how to manage emotions. The only thing we can truly control in life is the way we react to events. Cognitive reassessment is a very profitable practice. It is a strategy of adaptation that commits us to monitoring our negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. In this way, we contribute to lessening the negative consequences of an unhappy event. There are always two ways of looking at things. The challenge is to choose the way that best serves our objectives. Take the time to see the bright side of things. Re-educate your mind so that it will do this automatically and this will trigger favourable circumstances.
In the last chapter, Jillian Michaels encourages us to transform these moments of awareness into productive measures.
Chapter 14: Make it happen – the art of conscious choice-making
To end the book, Jillian invites us to take concrete action by using all the information from “Unlimited” in synergy.
Our everyday choices shape our lives. Every gesture we make can have an impact. These decisions are often made unconsciously, and while they may appear harmless, but they are the source of our problems. They are holding us back in our development. Choosing a salad instead of fries, opening a book instead of watching TV… The goal is not to pay excessive attention to everything you do on a daily basis, but to be aware of what is happening inside you and around you. Do not go through life half asleep. Refuse numbness. This is where your true power lies. Let’s start by becoming aware of our unconscious choices.
Exercises are deployed throughout the book. In this last chapter, we learn to press the “pause” button to ask ourselves what we are doing. What am I doing? Am I facing a choice? If so, what decision am I about to take. What will be the repercussions? Will it bring me closer to my goal? Will it contribute to my happiness?
These questions allow us to manage our impulses and strengthen our will. As we have seen, they also make us more attentive to our everyday gestures and allow us to take our life into our own hands. They can detect whether something is going to damage us or help us. Give each decision and each action the respect they deserve – undivided attention. Don’t forget that apparently insignificant moments add to happiness.
Follow your intuition, don’t neglect it! It is quite common for the body to express its clear disagreement with a negative choice we make. This is a survival mechanism. If you don’t get enough sleep, you get a migraine. If you take too much sugar, you get a skin reaction. You get stomach pain when you make a decision against your better judgement…
Jillian Michaels considers thoughtful decision-making to be an art. Don’t let events happen “randomly”. Make things work for you!
Conclusion about “Unlimited”:
I knew Jillian Michaels from her fitness classes and as a coach on TV. Her book “Unlimited” is faithful to character. It is a book that shines a light on problems, that is not afraid to go where it hurts and offers concrete action to release you from your hang-ups. The goal is to boost self-confidence and faith in your future. It encourages readers to take action. It is a very constructive book. The tone is familiar, even though the pages are stuffed with studies and concrete cases. Jillian alternately kicks butt and consoles and encourages, always in a positive way.
I like her methodical approach – awareness, de-constructing mental pathways, self-assessment, defining objectives, tools. It is a guide that I frequently refer to. It allowed me to realise that there were things that I was doing automatically. Not only did I become conscious, I also discovered the source. I was able to move along the path to self-knowledge. On the way, I overcame some of my fears and refined my aspirations.
This book takes a worthy place in any self-development library.
- Easy to read: the style is fluid, clear and light.
- The exercises throughout the book help towards understanding of the theory and immediate daily application.
- The advice
- Jillian Michaels illustrates all the points with concrete examples and is always ready to admit to her own mistakes. We feel understood and can trust her.
- The major quality that Jillian Michaels possesses is her capacity to motivate and push people forward. She is an excellent coach and you can sense this in the book. She has an accessible and human side that readers can easily identify with. It makes everything seem possible!
- Occasionally, there is a certain amount of repetition or passages that seem long.
- Jillian Michaels is primarily a sports coach who specialises in weight loss. A lot of her examples are therefore centred around this goal, but it is quite easy to transpose them to your own personal story.
- For those not familiar with the author, her somewhat authoritative tone may offend…
My rating :
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