What You Need Is Will Power

When I first started my counseling practice I had all these people coming to me complaining about not having willpower.

If only they had willpower they would tell me, they would be able to
– lose weight / get fit
– stop smoking / drinking / gambling / womanizing
– control their domestic violence / drug problem / children / finances
– achieve their goals / dreams / aspirations / next birthday
– basically, succeed in anything and everything instantly and forever.

All they needed was some Will Power!

After one such session I got so fed up that afterwards I went over to my bookcase and took down the phone book.

I looked up Mr Power and discovered to my amazement

Power, Bill
Power, W
Power, William
and yes even
Power, Will!

I fantasized for months about calling each of them up and explaining I was a therapist fed up with people complaining to me about needing Will Power, and would it be alright if the next time this happened, I gave the client their phone number and told them to call.

I never did phone anyone up, and somehow I seem to get less people asking for Will Power after that phase.

Pity really.

But these days I wouldn’t give them a phone number anyway because I now have a better option.

An Australian guy has given me a website to offer instead…


Go Will Power!

-Dr Martin Russell

Intern Program Re-Opens

This post is for people who want to learn about internet marketing and online business systems, without risk, and for free.

About 3 months ago I opened up an intern program to pass on the skills I use in building my online businesses. The response was so great that I had 100 people go through it in surprisingly quick succession.

The idea of hands-on learning seemed to appeal to enough people that I’m re-opening the program, with improvements.

If you have an interest in true internet business (rather than fads and quick-fixes) then you can discover more about this Intern Program at…


-Dr Martin Russell

Are You Going Wrong Right?

You might have heard many times that it’s okay to make mistakes.

If so, good.

But what sort of mistakes?

Has anyone ever told you what sort of mistakes to make?

As a small kid I used to enjoy watching on TV the enthralling game of darts.

I would marvel at big blokes standing back from a target with all these numbers on it, throwing small spiky things into a board.

The camera would pan onto the man as he walked up to the line to throw, and then as his first dart landed, it would give you a real close up of where he was aiming.

The dart would be hanging on the board and then the other two darts would follow, thudding solidly into the board nearby.

Most often the camera wouldn’t focus on the center where the obvious bulleye was, but would instead be focused up higher waiting for all three darts to go into the triple 20, so that the cry would ring out in an excited English drawl… “One hundred and eighty!”

As the game went on and it got more tense, suddenly they would be throwing darts into new areas of the board. I wasn’t able to do my maths fast enough to sort out how they jumped about, but I would hear the tension in the announcer’s voice as it turned into a whisper. Suddenly the scattered ease was no more. The darts would come slower and more deliberately.

The camera would watch the thrower shifting his position to throw. Darts would start to regularly miss.

Sometimes it would slow dramatically, and a bunch of darts would all miss, clustered together just past the outside edge of the scoring zone. I didn’t understand why it was happening but I could sense there was a fear of hitting inside. Better to err wide.

When you make a mistake you identify the mistake by comparing what happened to what you were aiming for in the first place.

In psychological mistakes, people tend to be the same each time. We err consistently.

What if you decided to still be wrong… just in a total different or even opposite way?

For example if you are told you are lacking confidence, you could find out what it takes for you to be told you have too much confidence.

If you are driving too fast, how much do you have to slow down before your back seat driver, even it it’s just the one in your head, says you are going too slow? Does the number you see then on the speedometer, have any correlation with what a police radar would call slow?

If you are depressed, have you also identified what it means to be unsuitably happy?

Since you’re going wrong anyway, is it really the end of the game where you have to err on the side of caution, or something else?

The highest priority is in fact usually about learning to do better next time, and this works best by being in and around the mark in all sorts of varied ways.

When something is important to you and you’re not succeeding, are you at least going wrong in the right, left, up, down, back, and front ways as well?

If not, here’s something to help you play better:


-Dr Martin Russell

Count On Your Blessings

The biggest problem with reading all the self-help literature is that so much of it is just ideas with very little real evidence to back it up.

Fortunately there are some notable exceptions.

But first, take a moment to do a bit of a self-assessment.

Do you want to have any of these changes in your life…?

– Better feelings about your life as a whole,
– More optimism about your expectations for the upcoming week.
– More regularly helping others if they have a personal problem or need emotional support.
– Fewer physical complaints.
– More exercise happening in your life automatically.
– Improved amounts of sleep and quality of sleep.
– And improvements in your well-being big enough that those closest to you notice it too.

Here’s a proven self help way to get all these results.

In a series of 3 studies back in 2003 researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough found that all these can be produced by doing a simple task for just 5 minutes each day over 3 weeks (or a couple of months if you want the exercise and physical benefits.)

Take a pad or diary and follow these instructions they gave study participants:

“There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful about. Think back over the past week and write down on the lines below up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.”

In the study some examples of gratitude-inducing experiences participants gave included: “waking up this morning,” “the generosity of friends,” “to God for giving me determination,” “for wonderful parents,” “to the Lord for just another day,” and “to the Rolling Stones.” (These were after all college students.)

Gratitude is such a simple activity.

It means acknowledging that we are blessed or advantaged in ways that have nothing to do with our own efforts.

If you are in the US and reading this on Thanksgiving Day then it may be even more important than it is for others to begin this gratitude diary starting today.

Self help doesn’t have to be hard. It’s available and ready when you are. You can count on it.

-Dr Martin Russell

3 Ways To Avoid Depression and Burn-Out

Our society seems to be suffering an epidemic of depression, stress and burn-out, with figures as high as 10% a year being regularly quoted.

As a medical doctor working exclusively in counseling and therapy I’ve observed people come to me over the years complaining of being stressed and burnt out.

They come with a wide variety of problems and diagnoses, from straight out suicidal depression, to simply feeling like they can’t get out of bed in the morning. From paralyzing panic attacks to a pervasive feeling of no longer being able to live up to the expectations other people have for them.

In my experience there are 3 fundamental ways to avoid letting this depression and burn-out happen.

1. Have goals with a fixed end-point.

You need to turn a never-ending series of demands on your performance into a series of 400 meter races, or at the very least a marathon of known distance. If you run full pace all the time don’t be surprised when you get worn out and have to stop exhausted. Usually this won’t happen at the best possible time.

Call it a holiday, call it an exit strategy, call it a rest stop, call it a reward for a job well done, but the requirement is the same; you need to plan for the waxing and waning of your energy and motivation.

For example, if your goal is “more money”, then the striving never ends. If you want to avoid feeling overwhelmed, you will need to clarify how much is enough, or even better, define the lifestyle you want and then that will define the amount of money you need to aim for.

2. Stay aware of your bigger purpose.

There are so many different options for how to fill a day, or a lifetime, that you need to have a way of choosing from it all. If you don’t identify a bigger purpose you end up having a midlife crisis-type reaction of asking yourself what all this is for.

It is in fact better if you can ask yourself this question, and answer it, before you even get started.

Now it doesn’t have to be an overly grand purpose, like solving world poverty. It does however need to be something that brings out the passion in you to help you manage the day-to-day bumps and the bigger obstacles that are in your way.

If you don’t have a bigger purpose right now then as long as you’re happy, you don’t have to frantically search for one. If you simply wait you will find that life will give you setbacks that let you show how badly you want something, and then you’ll discover what is really important to you.

3. Create results that last beyond that day.

This is the most important one, in my experience as a counselor.

You need to build some cumulative benefits to the work you do each day. Otherwise every day is starting from scratch yet again, and you will feel like you are “never getting anywhere”, because you truly won’t be.

For example, if you are earning money but just as quickly spending it or going deeper into debt, are you better off financially than if you just stayed in bed?

Sometimes it is simply a matter of really identifying the lasting value you are gaining from each day.

More often when people come to me burnt out, they have a nagging awareness that their daily activities are not producing results that last. Results such as money kept for themselves rather than spent, passive income sources rather than swapping more time for money, business systems that last beyond the individual person, life-long habits in place of knee-jerk panic responses, better key relationships, and much more.

Here is the key to this third point.

When you go to sleep at night answer this question…

“Have I done something today to be in a better position for my future than I was when I woke up this morning?”

If the answer is yes, then you will have had a worthwhile day.

All these three factors add together, and if you miss out on any one of them then you are highly likely to be experiencing unnecessary stress.

If you’re missing all of them, then you’re probably already burnt out and need to make some of these three changes… fast.

-Dr Martin Russell


One of the reasons I wanted this web-site to be about self help rather than psychiatry, psychology or therapy, is because much of what people actually have as problems and limitations is not covered in the textbooks.

This is slowly changing however.

Psychiatry is finding labels for more and more, whether by extending current labels, such as finding that “depression” which was previously a 1% diagnosis is now up to 17% of the population at some time in our lives, or by creating new terminology entirely such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD – otherwise known as Minimal Brain Disorder until they realized they couldn’t even find any brain problem at all, even a minimal one.)

However there are still gaps that the textbooks don’t yet cover, and I appreciate Paul Myers of TalkBizNews.com for pointing one gap out to me.

Oh, and he also includes a cure with it as well.

Paul was talking about the problem of people taking themselves too seriously.

It’s pretty common. It’s usually worst in teenagers and the uptight elderly. [Editor’s note – Not exclusively confined to these groups however.]

It’s called the “self-importants.”

Fortunately, there’s a cure for this sad condition.

Go to K-Mart or Target or wherever, and look for the men’s clothing section. Find the rack with the weird boxers on it. The ones with monkeys are the best. [Editor’s note: substitute female equivalent garments as appropriate.]

Buy a few. They’re cheap. Wear them.

The next time you’re hit by an attack of the “self-importants,” just think to yourself: “I have monkeys in my pants.”

That’ll put a stop to the self-importants, you betcha.

At $4 a pair, it’s the cheapest therapy you’ll ever get.

When I wrote to Paul to get permission to use this he also gave me some extra details, perhaps because he knew my medical training would mean I required it…

Martin – It’s not a scientifically proven technique, but the anecdotal evidence is running at 100% so far. And the downside risk is pretty small. 😉

I look forward to seeing “self-importants” in a psychiatric textbook very soon. Along with recommended medication, and a much more expensive and lengthy course of treatment for it too.

Except of course, if this cure catches on. So go spread the word today!

-Dr Martin Russell

Waving A Magic Wand

I don’t often tell people I do hypnotherapy anymore.

Very few people distinguish between hypnosis and hypnotherapy ie hypnosis for a therapeutic purpose.

The explanation my first mentor used was that one was given Catholic approval by Pope Pius XII in 1956, and the other was not.

In casual conversations I got tired of the discussions about “Is that stuff you see on stage/TV real?” and “Can you make me cluck like a chicken / quack like a duck?”

[My current answers: “Almost always. Yes.” and “I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t already able to do that for themselves so I’ve never tried.”]

People who came in to see me would have all these magical ideas about what hypnosis was about. I didn’t mind the twirling fob watch, or “what if I do something I didn’t want to do” questions. The ones that bothered me were those that expected me to snap my fingers, put them to sleep, and have them wake up cured. The “wave a magic wand” idea.

A friend of mine was a counselor for many years and found a similar problem.

Fortunately he did a training class back in the 70s where they got him to make a magical wand out of a TV antennae and a coin. The coin was cut into the shape of a star and fixed to the top of the TV antennae, which was conveniently extendable for easy storage.

Since then every time a person came in wanting someone to “wave a magic wand so I can be cured” he would bring out his wand from his drawer and wave it around mysteriously with a few strange words and a tap.

Then he would ask them if they were cured.

When they said no, he would put the wand back in the drawer and say “Oh well, I suppose we’ll have to try something else then.”

He hasn’t been assaulted by anyone so far.

-Dr Martin Russell

Why Help Yourself?

I went to a medical conference on the weekend. It’s something I very rarely do.

Medical events tend to have people talking about things I either have no use for anymore, or that I disagree with. This one was more on the second category. But I still need to keep up my medical registration by attending some of these events.

Anyway one of the pieces that did catch my attention was repeated by two speakers.

They said that on current trends in my state, in 25 years the health budget will take up the ENTIRE government budget.

There will be money for health, but nothing else.

As one of them pointed out, this will of course make government much simpler because there will be only one portfolio to deal with… Health.

Who needs education, road, police, infrastructure etc anyway.

Then each of the speakers said we had to do something about this problem, and they had the solutions that would fix it.

That’s where they started to go into stuff I disagree with, so let me not go there.

Instead let’s examine their claim for Health expenses being so dramatically out of whack.

The assumptions are these:

Currently the economy of the state where I live is growing at 4%.

Fair enough. That’s a nice average rate for most Western economies.

However health expenditure is 30% of the government budget and it is growing faster, by 9-11%.

Not really very surprising, because of two big factors.

1. The population is getting older and more likely to get sick and use the health system, and

2. There are many more ways to spend more money, on new medications, fancier operations, and higher-tech equipment.

I also like to add in 3. That much of health is driven by private enterprise that has an interest in making us spend more money on their particular drugs, equipment, services etc. But “disease-mongering” and it’s ilk aren’t required for health demands to still grow rapidly.

The end result is that even assuming a steadily growing economy, we have a blow out in the money spent on health.

If you pull out a spreadsheet and plot the growth the dates are correct.

At 9% growth there is no money left over for anything except health by the year 2032.

At 11% growth, the year of catastrophe is 2026.

My kids will be barely out of school!

And remember, that’s the 100% point, and that’s just ridiculous.

The point where just 50% of all government money needs to be spent on health at 9-11% growth, is either 2018 or 2015 respectively.

This is nuts!

If you think that Western health-care systems are bad now, then you just wait. They have not even begun to show the cracks if these predictions have any basis at all in reality.

That’s the key question. What is the reality?

Will government health care systems collapse within just one generation?

Or is it this all just mathematics gone mad?

Are these theories and extrapolations just as vague and open to interpretation as the debate on world population, or the guessing game about when we will run out of oil we can dig out of the ground to run our economies, otherwise known as peak oil?

When is optimistically saying that we will work it out when we get there, equivalent to burying your head in the sand?

I didn’t have the numbers before, but personally, I think we are indeed in for a health care melt-down. Self help and self-reliance is more needed than ever.

But what’s your opinion?

-Dr Martin Russell

EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 3

The “universal healing method” called Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as EFT (see EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 1) is almost completely lacking any worthwhile scientific evidence.

It’s founder Gary Craig, offers only anecdotal evidence and sheer numbers of examples. A quick search on the internet reveals many people who have not found benefit from EFT, as well as many others who swear by it.

The credibility for EFT’s claims mostly comes from reliance on the Eastern idea of energy flows and meridians, but I believe this has nothing to do with EFT’s results at all (see EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 2)

But very little evidence is not no evidence. There is one study of merit.

It was published in 2003 in “The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice” from the work of two Canadian psychologists Wendy Waite and Mark Holder.

They were testing EFT on the problem where it has claimed the most clear-cut success – phobias.

This is a particularly impressive study because they didn’t simply test EFT vs nothing. Instead they set up 4 different arms to their experiment.

In one group they used EFT.

In a second group they had the subjects tap on 12 points on the person’s arm, chosen as a place where there is not meant to be any meridian points.

The third variation was the most impressive. In this group they had subjects do the same EFT tapping sequence, but rather than tap on their own bodies they had them tap on a doll instead!

The final group was a control group where they had the subjects fold a paper toy for the same length of time as the other variations.

They ended up with 119 people in this trial and they divided up the groups equally between men and women, and different types of phobia. Unfortunately the researchers say that this meant that they ended up with uneven numbers in each of the 4 arms of the experiment, but they do not give the data of exactly what this was.

So what were the results?

Firstly EFT did significantly reduce people’s levels of reported fear.

EFT worked.

But so did tapping on the arm, and tapping on a doll. And equally well.

The control paper folding exercise did not however significantly alter people’s fear.

So on this basis EFT is doing something, but so do other forms of tapping that have nothing to do with energy meridians. Critics may have been able to argue that people tapping on their arms had accidentally hit upon part of the body’s energy flow, but the similar response from tapping on a doll removes this as an explanation.

This study does not fit with EFT having anything to do with meridians, but it does fit with my analysis of EFT as a method for re-conditioning (probably what the researchers are refer to in their own analysis as “distraction”, but I think this it is more than that.)

As far as I am aware this study has not been repeated elsewhere to confirm its results. It stands alone; intriguing, seemingly ignored by the EFT community, and as yet unverified.

Attention Gary Craig – this study was published in 2003. It’s in Wikipedia. You must know about it, so where is your response?

[As Gary Craig points out in the comment below, I missed his public open-letter response on his main website. I now have the answer to my question here, so I can get on to other questions about EFT. Thanks Gary.]

For my reply to Gary’s comment below go here to EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 4.

-Dr Martin Russell

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