PTSD Recovery

By: Dr. Bill Tollefson

Certified Master Life Coach

Your Free Personal Philosophy E-Book

Making A Positive Change  Copyright 2012

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Personal Philosophy Method: What is your Personal Philosophy?

Chapter Two: First Key Element – Core Belief

Chapter Three: Second Key Element – Core Value

Chapter Four: Third Key Element – Programming

Chapter Five: Fourth Key Element – Core Expectation

Chapter Six: Conclusion


For many years now, my passion and intention has been to find ways to help individuals make significant positive changes in their lives. Human behavior, thought, emotions and personality structure is very complicated subject, and most lay people, as well as many professionals, find it very confusing. At first, I encouraged people who wanted to change to understand that memories of the past have an effect on their present day life. An unclosed memory of past events does influence us in the here and now.  This was demonstrated time and again over my thirty-five years as a therapist and founder of an inpatient behavior management program which was internationally renowned for successfully helping those suffering with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Dissociative Disorders. The program helped scores of people to live more stable lives free from the negative influence of abusive and traumatic past experiences. My first book, Separated From the Light, gives a first-hand view of this experience (albeit from a fictitious composite person), and my DVDs explain the development and ways to use the Rapid Reduction Technique® (RRT). 
Three years ago, I shifted my focus from therapy to Life Coaching. This move has opened a whole new focus in a field that allows me to coach individuals on an ongoing basis and show them how to improve their current skills, as well as gain new skills, which will create positive changes in their lives. These individuals will be empowered to move forward from today and to break barriers which seem to keep them stuck in their current situations.  This move into Life Coaching enabled me to answer the question asked by my program clients for over a decade and a half, “Now what do I do?” I wanted to be able to answer this question, so I dedicated myself to long hours, more education, current research in all disciplines and plain hard work to answer the question. I reviewed all of the hundreds of lectures, presentations and groups I had conducted throughout my career looking for answers. My objective was now to find out how to help an individual to grow from where ever they were in their life today, what their intentions were, what skills they were lacking and support them to move forward regardless of their past. I used my passion to discover an approach that will lead a person from stabilization to healing. 
In this endeavor, I have opened my mind and heart in a new direction. I have taken all that I learned in my extensive education, and thirty-five years of clinical experience as a therapist, along with my new training and education in life coaching, to shift my mindset and vision. All my efforts helped me to create a unique new method which is called Personal Philosophy.

Is there a Difference?

 So you ask what is the difference in this method than all others? Many methods practiced in the helping field today focus on alleviating the symptoms. Unfortunately after a short period of time the symptoms return and sometimes with more intensity.  Maybe focusing on the symptoms is the wrong thing because it takes our focus off the real problem therefore not effecting change.
 I would like to use a metaphor or analogy so you can have a really clear understanding of what the message of the book is about and what I am talking about.  Imagine that your house is on fire and all your smoke alarms are going off. Would your first action be to cut the wires to the smoke alarms? Of course not. Your first reaction would be to get out of the house and then obviously  attempt to put the fire out, not just turn off the noisy fire alarms. Now I thought that this was a really wonderful way of looking at it in a sense of how often a lot of the symptoms that we suffer from are like the alarms alerting us to a greater problem, a greater danger, or a greater threat. Maybe our symptoms are telling us that something else is happening within us whether it's emotional, mental, physical or even environmental that's affecting us, that's affecting our enjoyment, safety or success in life and affecting the way we look and react to things.
The key principle is that this method does not deal with symptoms. It looks at the root cause of the problem. That means it is the root problem that's driving our thoughts, actions and behaviors either toward motivation or blocking what we want. Well this driving force is actually buried deep in our personal philosophy which resides in the subconscious. This book will explain how each of the 4 key elements, which make our personal philosophy, influence how we are reacting to daily events.

Chapter One

Personal Philosophy Method:What is your Personal Philosophy?

How many times have you been asked such a question? Not many times I am sure. Personal philosophy is not normal social conversation topic. Most people do not just sit around discussing their own deep personal beliefs, ideas, expectations, values or views with each other. Personal philosophy is a subject that is rarely addressed, yet personal philosophy is an integral part of how humans function in their lives. It is what you stand for, and it is your foundation. Personal philosophy is a way of life.  As you can imagine, it is a complex subject. 
Personal philosophy makes up the majority of your belief system. It is a mindset which sets your viewpoints on all things in life. What you stand for and stand on, your foundation, the basis of your identity. Your personal philosophy determines how you perceptually interpret and respond to life situations. Your personal philosophy determines how you feel and act.

            “Not satisfied with you or the course of your life? Change your Personal Philosophy and create a new you.”

Let me share a story of a woman who I was coaching. She was facing extreme problems and her life was becoming dysfunctional. She had just finished her third marriage and felt abandoned, empty, lost and unloved. She described her last marriage relationship as “he kept me trapped and I was his emotional hostage for years. My unhappiness grew with every month. I lost who I was and continually tried to correct my thoughts, behaviors and feelings in order to keep peace or make things better; because he constantly said it was my fault and I was the reason for our bad marriage and his unhappiness. I truly thought it was my fault for the bad marriage and my unhappiness. So I submitted to him daily. I gave into his constant berating because I figured he must be right, he is the man of the house. Because that is what I learned to believe was the way it was supposed to be growing up from my mother and what she did with my father.” In the course of her coaching, she blurted out “I guess I do not deserve any better. I am unlovable.” Once this was pointed out to her, she realized that she had been repeating this pattern in all of her relationships, and she believed this was right.  

So when I begin coaching someone like with the client above, I ask him or her, “What do you stand for? What is your personal philosophy?” The person stops, a glaze goes over their eyes, their mouth opens part way, and they are mute for a couple of minutes. A minority of people state indecisively: “I don’t know.” Generally, I get no response. I have had this happen time after time, person after person. If it was an election year and I had asked, “What is your political philosophy?” they would quickly answer, “I am a Republican (Independent or Democrat).” How can a person know who he or she is if they do not know what they stand for, on or believe deeply in? 
One thing that I must say at this point is that the brain is a wonderful organ. As a human grows up, the human brain records and stores a lot of data from the time it turns on until it turns off due to death, damage or disease. The data includes: beliefs, concepts, desires, expectations, ideas, principles, needs, requirements, rules, standards, and values. The brain accepts all the data without a filter, that is, without judging whether the data is right or wrong. The connected human accepts this data as his or her own, even if it was delivered by an outside force. 
Let me explain the bases for my method. I believe that personal philosophy is what drives human reactions (actions, behaviors, feelings, and thoughts) to oneself, others, life situations and the world. It may also be defined as layers of accumulated information of recorded excerpts of a human’s experiences and a reflection of one’s intellectual belief formation as well as emotional history. Simply, personal philosophy is a portion of a person’s belief system. 
“Ignorance of personal philosophy causes us
to view ourselves as somebody we use to know.”

Even though personal philosophy is a complex subject, I have broken it into basic key elements to increase simplification and understanding. There are four (4) key elements: 

1. Core beliefs, 
2. Core values, 
3. Programming and 
4. Core expectations. 

The accumulated data in each key element is recorded, accepted, stored and then embedded, or what I term “rooted,” in a person’s mind over his or her lifetime. These elements hide in the shadows of memories and are not conscious to the recipient. 

To give you a visual, key elements (Diagram 1) stack one on top of the other and interact with each other vertically. The base or foundation is the core beliefs and ending at the top with core 
expectations. When triggered by a life event, information filters down through each element, associating with what is familiar, bottoming out and collecting a core belief then surfacing in 
the conscious producing a reaction. This is what drives or motivates how a person will react in the moment. It can also block or hamper a person and cause them to do, to think or to feel 
negatively. So how a person functions in his or her life depends on the content that is embedded in their Personal Philosophy.  


             “The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection the state of your personal philosophy.”

The above statement has a lot of power. How can you know what is driving your thinking or state of mind if you have no idea what is contained within your personal philosophy? Most important is if you are not living off your own personal philosophy, then you are living of someone else’s, and you will not have command of your own life. 

Chapter Two

First Key Element – Core Belief

                              “Scars of my past made me stronger and the person I am today.”

 What is inside you standing in the way of you achieving what you want? 
Generally, it is an internal barrier. At some point in life, each of us experiences blocks that keep us away from what we want. Unfortunately, we do not realize that the block is coming from a subconscious source. This source is known as core belief.  Although little is known about core belief, it is very powerful and will rise from deep within to stop you from achieving fame, love, money or success. A core belief can unknowingly influence the direction of your thoughts, behaviors or feelings. When triggered, a core belief can creep into your consciousness undetected and completely alter your direction. It then slithers back into its safe realm, the subconscious.
So what is a Core Belief?
A core belief is made up of personal messages that you form about yourself directly related to each life event you have experienced. A core belief could be positive or negative, good or bad, encouraging or discouraging, motivating or blocking, insignificant or traumatic.  Core beliefs are the foundation of a human’s identity. The last chapter explained that the foundation of your belief system is the key element of core belief. Core beliefs, sometimes recorded during childhood, determine how an adult will think, feel and act today. 
Whether we know it or not, we are affected by deep core beliefs every day. Over time, a core belief will root itself into your subconscious and become more powerful. Once triggered by a present event, a core belief’s message surfaces into the consciousness and then influences your feelings, thoughts, reactions, emotions and behavior. A rooted core belief reflects not only your beliefs about you, but it also reflects a profound belief about your body, confidence, esteem, looks, intelligence, performance, potential and relationships. People do not realize the huge effect old core beliefs can have once they become rooted in the emotional mind or the damaging impact they can have on our present lives.
Let’s look at different developmental scenarios. If the core belief is formed out of a positive life experience, the core belief can result in becoming a positive drive, inspiration or a motivator toward success or happiness with yourself. On the other hand, if the core belief was born out of a negative or traumatic experience, then the formed belief message would cause you to belittle, minimize, doubt, judge, punish, sabotage or beat up yourself. The resulting messages 
from negative core belief, if triggered, would surface in real time and block you from achieving any personal happiness or success. Negative core beliefs make you feel lonely, stupid, not good enough, failure, undeserving and unworthy. These core beliefs can also result in anger, depression, rage, hostility, thought addiction and/or resentment.
How do Core Beliefs Form in the Brain?
The human brain is a fantastic complex organ. The brain accomplishes all its numerous functions through compartmentalization. One compartment of the brain operates the heart, one compartment operates breathing, one compartment regulates balance, and another compartment activates digestion and so on. Memory involves three specific compartments which constantly record every life experience you have. Simultaneously, while the brain is recording the event, yet in a different compartment, a belief about the person forms in direct relationship to the event. An emotion also forms and attaches to the core belief. The core belief and emotion inhabit the brain near the related memory (whether in long-term or dissociative storage), but hides in the shadow of the memory, and over time, the core belief quietly roots itself in the person’s subconscious. The brain maybe able to process and make closure on the memory, but the core belief remains rooted in its original form just waiting to be triggered. 
Let’s say, for example, I am sitting at my desk in math class in middle school. I took a test two days before. I studied very hard for it. My math teacher passes by my desk and throws down my test. I gaze down and see that I got an “F” on the test. I look up at my teacher bewildered, and she states, “I really do not think you can pass this class. You just don’t have it.” This was the actual recorded memory. Inside my head, I form a belief that I am stupid and do not deserve to pass and feel very sad (formation of a core belief and associated feeling). Well somehow I persevered, studied enough and ended up passing the math class (memory is processed and closure is made). Let’s jump ahead ten years. I happened to get a job working with numbers … math! A peer approaches me and asks, “Why didn’t you go to college, because you are so good at math?” Without a hesitation, out of my mouth comes, “I am not smart enough to get through college,” and I experience a deep sadness. 
Without knowledge of the foundation of our personal philosophy, core beliefs, we travel through life with blind faith. Our identity, worth, thoughts, reactions and emotions in the moment are all generated from this key element.


Is there Hope?

So are we helpless to rooted core beliefs that reside under the surface in the subconscious and quietly affect the direction of our lives? No! I have learned that no matter what you do in your life you can never get what you want until you heal your rooted beliefs first. It was not until I identified all my rooted beliefs that I had accumulated in my lifetime, did I find what was holding me back from happiness and success. 
 First of all, you cannot fix what you do not know.  Recognition, discovery and identification are the initial steps. There is a skill that can help to shift the content of the messages carried by rooted core beliefs. Shifting core beliefs is one thing that I do have power over. All I needed was a skill to accomplish shifting negative beliefs to positive beliefs. Hundreds of people have learned this skill, and they have achieved the same positive results. Once the skill is learned and practiced, confidence follows.  Master your belief and change you and your life.
“How can we know what is blocking our success 
if we aren't mindful of our own core beliefs.”


Success Story
I have been coaching a client whose intention was to become happier and less anxious. He has been working on recognizing his core beliefs for the past two months as well as learning the skill of shifting. It has been working phenomenally well for him. His life has improved significantly. He discovered his core beliefs were influencing and directing every action and reaction concerning himself, his job, relationship with his wife and children as well as his interaction with his environment (state of happiness). 
In six short sessions, he stated “I am a new man. Everything in my life has changed. I respond differently, I am different. My wife told me that she has seen noticeable changes in me.” In reviewing his accomplishments, he reported increases in:
1. Ownership of self,
2. More connected with self, family and life,
3. Happiness,
4. Closure with past losses,
5. Focus,
6. Confidence, and
7. Wholeness.

If that was not enough major accomplishments, he also reported a decrease in:

1. Guilt and shame over past experiences,
2. Self sabotage,
3. Compulsiveness, 
4. Stress,
5. Fear,
6. Obsessions,
7. Feelings of failure, and  
8. Held resentments.

"Change starts always from within."
Core Beliefs are a key source and the foundation of human identity, as well as the major influence on behaviors, thoughts and feelings. If not recognized, there will always be an undiscovered reason that success was out of reach. Make a positive change to your core beliefs and your identity will remarkably transform in a short time period.

Chapter Three
Second Key Element – Core Value

                                  “Personal worth is generated from core values placed on our beliefs.”

Core value is the second key element of the Personal Philosophy Method. Core value is more of a complicated and abstract concept. Simply put, core value is your assessment, measure of worth, or degree of emotional investment related to each important core belief that has formed during your lifetime. For each core belief, there is a core value assigned to it. Core value reflects your sense of right and wrong, good or evil, as well as how things ought to be. A core value has great influence on human attitude. Without core values, you would lose the essence of your identity.  Sense of worth would be absent. 
Core values tell you the degree of importance of anything you think is significant.  In other words, those things you consider good, beneficial, attractive, important, useful, moral, beautiful, desirable, appropriate, etc. A core value answers the question of why you hold on so strongly to what you believe in. A core value designates the degree of influence a core belief will have once it is triggered and surfaces into consciousness. Once in the consciousness, core values determine the emotional impact on your behavior, thoughts, reactions or feelings. The degree of assigned core value establishes how much influence a core belief will have on you. Core value can increase drive or restrict positive movement. 
To gain a clear understanding of what motivates your behaviors, emotions and thoughts, you must know what value you place on any given core belief. What connects a sense of worth for any given core belief depends on the intensity of the original emotion when a core belief was formed. The greater the attachment to the person, group or event causing the formation of a core belief, the higher the value is placed. The designation of core value comes from all areas of life; ethical/moral, cultural, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political), social, and individual.
Clarity of core value can be gained from looking from a different perspective.

View a core value as a rating scale of 1 to 10. 
1 is the lowest effect on the scale. 
10 is the highest effect on the scale.

For example, if you form a core belief of “I am smart,” and the core value is a 3, then the core belief will have little or low effect when it is triggered into consciousness. Now if we look at another core belief such as the #1 most common core belief “I am not good enough,” and it carries a core value of 9, the effect and power it has over the resulting reaction in the present will be effect is extremely high, therefore resistance to stop the reaction will be very low. 
So at this point, core belief drives your belief about yourself, and core values determine the impact or influence that accompanies it. All of us have experienced or remember a time when we reacted, doing something we did not want to do, but we did anyway impulsively. Perhaps a word or comment popped out of our mouth without thought or the ability to stop it. Both of these examples come from surfacing core beliefs and associated values. Without knowledge of these key elements, we are defenseless stop or command such reactions.

Chapter Four

Third Key Element – Programming

Programming is the third element and probably easier to understand than the two preceding elements. Our minds are being constantly programmed throughout our lives by other people and the media. Programming is statements recorded, accepted and encoded in the brain precisely as they were spoken without processing. We heard other people say “I can clearly hear (my father, mother, brother, sister) say _______  in my head.” Programming is statements about what we have been told or taught about ourselves. So when we have core beliefs which surface in to our conscious stream of thought, we retort with “I am that way because my parent (brother, sister, teacher, minister, loved one, etc.) said so.” These accepted statements end up validating our core beliefs and core values.
The brain utilizes these recorded statements to validate core beliefs and core values. A validation statement gives you a reason to behave a certain way. We react toward ourselves and others due to the statements we hear in our head. You are often unaware of this mental programming. Programming functions on a subconscious level. Programming strongly validates specific thoughts, beliefs, concepts, ideas, principles, or expectations that you have heard and assume to be true. Here is an example of programming: “All women are _________,” or “Males only want _________.” Embedded programming can validate you to drive for success or cause you to self sabotage. 
The power behind programming is the degree of emotional need or attachment you have to another person, group, idea, doctrine, principle or value. Strangers for the most part have no power to program us. Think about it, if a stranger makes a comment about you like “You are stupid,” your brain rejects the statement. However, if a person who you have an emotional attachment with makes the same statement, it hurts deeply and it is remembered. Many people carry negative statements through life which become a personal barrier or limitation. If the statement is positive the statement becomes motivation. We need to learn and understand that the statements which run through our mind, whether good or bad, support how we believe about ourselves and what we are able to accomplish.

   “Let go of the old & be free to accept the new. The more you let out what occupies your mind,                                                                   the more space you have to create good things and envision new directions.”

Chapter Five

Fourth Key Element – Core Expectation

The last key element in Personal Philosophy is core expectations. Core expectations are defined as the underlying assumptions of what you, or other people, expect you to do with your life. Core expectations are future projections taught to or placed upon you as you grow up. Core expectations determine the direction or limitations to success.
The power of a core expectation like all three elements before, affects you due to a strong emotional attachment, meaningful association or loyalty with another person or group making the future goal. Core expectations can be an expressed action, idea or concept. The emotional attachment can be negative or positive, but it is the emotional charge that causes it to attach in the mind. Core expectations can be positive or negative projected wants, accomplishments, behaviors, beliefs, goals, loyalties, objectives, performance (success, failure), values, demands or wishes placed upon you. Internal stress or pressure can develop for failure to fulfill core expectations.
A main variable of core expectations is external validation.  External validation is the act of seeking another’s approval. External validation is other’s opinions, perceptions, judgments, views and / or prejudices about what we can accomplish or not.  Most of the time, we take other people’s opinions as true or more right than our own. 
Can core expectations be the downfall of positive movement in the healing process or limit our vision of possible success? The answer to this question is yes.  We only accomplish what we expect to achieve. Discovering the core expectations you are living by can help you to determine whether they are your desired expectations or that you are living on expectations that someone else placed upon you. Once you recognize this, you can work at discarding the ones you do not want and create new core expectations. This process will open you to move toward new directions. So do not wait any longer, create new expectations, regain your personal authority and strive for the direction you want.

                    “Expectations from others either grow or limit our accomplishments.”     

Chapter Six


         “Not satisfied with yourself or the course of your life? Change your Personal Philosophy.”

Too many of us live our lives without knowing what motivates us or blocks us from what we want, what we want to achieve or why we are unable to get there. We are so busy with life that we do not have the time to reflect and recognize our personal philosophy that has formed out of our many years of experiences. To make a positive change, we first have to understand the baggage we have been subconsciously carrying around. It is our subconscious baggage or our personal philosophy that greatly influences how we think, act and feel. 
Everyone can identify certain occasions when we say things, do things or feel things we consciously decide we will not d, but we end up doing. We get caught in situations where we get triggered subconsciously and suddenly can’t stop from doing, saying or feeling things … and we don’t know what they are based on. It is our personal philosophy that manifests into our present. Every human has one. If we are unaware of the key elements that make up our personal philosophy, then we are blinded to their effects on how we function.
The new model discussed in this book brings light to the specific elements, the development and effects of our personal philosophy and how we react to life. Hopefully it has introduced you to a whole new way to view yourself and understand that positive changes can be achieved once we understand what is driving us, eradicate the negative elements of our personal philosophy and shift to creating w new personal philosophy.

“If you are not living off your own personal philosophy,
then you are living of someone else’s.”

How do I make a positive change in me?
I want to give you a personal challenge. I have created a 30 day program, called the Intensive Life Changing Challenge, that will help you discover what is motivating or blocking you from getting what you want out of yourself and out of life. This 30 day challenge, if you commit to it, will radically change your life. 
Step by Step, the Intensive Life Changing Challenge will reveal your personal philosophy. It is designed to help you recognize the mindset you have about you, the core beliefs that are motivating or blocking you, the influence of your core values, programming that validates or invalidates you, and the core expectations that keep you stuck in relationships or jobs that do 
not satisfy you. If you are ready and serious about making a positive change, this program is for you.

The Intensive Life Changing Challenge will positively help you answer 8 major life questions:
1. What are the events in my life that have shaped the way I think, behave and feel?
2. What are the resentments that I am not aware of that keep me stuck from moving forward?
3. What is my general personal philosophy?
4. What are my core beliefs that I have formed subconsciously which affect me and my life?
5. Do I value beliefs that are not beneficial for me?
6. What are the statements from others I carry in my mind which either validate my beliefs about me or not?

7. Do I live by someone else’s expectations just to please them and not me?

8. Do I have personal permission to succeed, or do I hold myself back from succeeding?

The 30 day Intensive Life Changing Challenge will guide you step by step into creating the personal philosophy which truly serves your best interest and supports your goals. Ask yourself: 

“Am worth investing 30 days to radically change me?”