Changing a Habit with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on October 27th, 2013

Sometimes making a change is simply about remembering to do so.

When you have enough healthy habits, you can enjoy lasting weight loss success. Use this Neuro-Linguistic Programming process for making a new habit.

Think of a change that you’d like to make and think of the context, where does it fit in your routine? For this example we are going to use adding exercise into the schedule after work.

What are you doing now? I come home from work and I sit down in front of the TV.

What change do you want? I want to come home from work and put on my workout clothes and go to the gym.

What is the cue that tells you to run the new habit? Coming home from work.

Read the rest of the blog post here:

Peace, love and joy

Posted by Holly Stokes on September 10th, 2013

All our motivations boil down to wanting more peace, love or joy in our lives. You may think I don’t know what I’m talking about, but here’s how it works.

Think of something that you desire, it can be anything. Now ask yourself, if you had that, what would that get for you? Think of the answer, now thinking of the answer, ask the question again, what will that get for you? And keep asking yourself the question of each answer you get.

Here’s an example. Suppose I want to get more clients.

I then ask, what will that get for me?

Answer: relief

What will that get for me?

Answer: I don’t have to stress as much, I can relax

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can enjoy life more

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can really engage with life

What will that get for me?

Answer: I will be fulfilling my life purpose

What will that get for me?

Answer: I will be at peace.

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can relax.

As you ask yourself the question, what does that get for me, you’ll find that when you get to the peace, love or joy, it will loop on itself. You know you’re done asking the question when the answer starts to loop back through the sequence.

So here’s the secret. You don’t have to wait for peace, love or joy to happen to you. These are feelings and you can feel those feelings just by thinking about them.

It’s as simple of thinking of your memories. Think of a time when you felt really peaceful. Imagine being there vividly, let yourself be back in that time and place, and allow yourself to feel what you were feeling, see what you were seeing, and hear what you were hearing. Let the peace once again wash over you from your head to your feet, then let the feeling wrap around you and become larger, let it radiate out into the space around you. Let yourself just soak up the peace.

Then go about your goal with the new feeling, and you’ll find you flow better with the task at hand. Rather than struggling and fighting the goal, like trying to swim upstream, you’ll find a better feeling in accomplishing your tasks.

Peace, love and joy don’t make your goal go away, but it gives you a better feeling to work from, which allows you to be more productive, insightful, and open to inspiration.

Motivation tip #1: Give your Mind Clear Directions

Posted by Holly Stokes on July 25th, 2013

As a life and business coach, I often ask my clients what they want. In response I usually hear a long list of what they don’t want, “I don’t want to be overweight anymore,” “I don’t want to stress at my job anymore,” “I don’t want to feel like I’m lacking purpose anymore.”

But knowing what we don’t want isn’t useful as useful as knowing what you DO want.

As a white water raft guide, I learned the value of staying focused on what you do want. We had a saying, “where you point your boat, that’s where the river will take you.”

We were on a three day trip down the Deschutes River, it was day two of our expedition and we came up on White Horse Rapid. Now White Horse is a class four rapid. To give you an idea of the rating system; class one is still water, class two is bumps and giggles, class three is you can dump your crew and pick them up at the bottom, class four is you better know what you are doing, class five – nobody runs a class five, except drunk and on a dare, and class six – well, it’s un-runnable.

Before we run the rapid, we park our boats on the bank and walk out to the overlook. As guides, it’s our job to check the flow of the water, pay attention to the current, and pick our path through the rapid from a safe vantage point. So as guides we are mentally marking out our path down the river and talking about the flow of the water.

Now in the middle of this rapid, is a big rock jutting out of the water, and we call it OH SHMACK rock (but as guides we had another name for OH SHMACK). The goal is to find the current that will take you close to the rock, but will carry you around it. If you hit the rock, it could pin your boat against it, and it could cause you grief, it’s not a safe place to dump your boat. So, anyway, us guides are talking about the current and flow of water, and on our way back the boats, I hear our fearless leader Martin, muttering under his breath, “I’m not going to hit the rock, I’m not going to hit the rock, I’m not going to hit the rock.”  It was funny, we giggled, undocked our boats and headed out.

Martin, our senior leader had spent nine years on this river and he was the first one down. He had our gear boat, full of sleeping bags, the stove, and food supplies. He pushed his boat off the bank, sailed around the corner and what did we hear?  “OH SMACK!@!#$!”

We scurried around the corner to find Martin in a sea of gear spread across the water and trying to pick up his load.

So, what happened? Martin was a pro on this river, 9 years of experience. Think of the phrase, “I’m not going to hit the rock,” what does that phrase bring to mind? Hitting the rock! You see a mental picture of it, and maybe see the gear even fly about. 9 years of experience wiped out through one simple phrase.

What we focus on – that’s where our mind will take us. Martin had a clear goal, “not hitting the rock” but this goal speaks to what isn’t wanted rather than what you do want.

This has to do with how the brain works, it interprets our language through making mental pictures. Consciously we understand the word “don’t” but don’t doesn’t translate in our unconscious mind. I’m going to ask you not to do something, will you try not to do it? Don’t think of a yellow butterfly because as you do it will turn blue and fly out the window. What did your mind do? It pictured the yellow butterfly turning blue and flying out the window!

It’s these mental pictures that speak directly to our unconscious mind and primes our brain to focus on what we are talking about. So if you want to engage your unconscious mind to work for you, give your mind clear directions about what you do want rather than what you don’t want.

Think of the phrase, “I’m not going to eat sugar anymore” what does that tune your brain to notice? Sugar! Now think of the phrase, “I’m going to eat healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables” and what does that tune your brain for? Notice your mental pictures.

Cue your brain into what you want to focus on by giving your mind clear directions. Where you point your boat, there the river will take you. Where you focus your mind, there life will take you. You get what you focus on.

Top 10 Tips for Living your Best

Posted by Holly Stokes on July 4th, 2013

Life and Business Coaching are on the rise. Working with a Coach can offer accountability for
your goals, a sounding board for your life’s choices, and a confidante for life’s difficulties. Coaching has grown out of the movement of positive psychology. As a Life and Business Coach, here are my Top 10 Tips for Living Your Best:

1. Make Time for Your Health – Eating right and exercise are foundational to living a happy, healthy life. Remember the old saying, you are what you eat? The quality of your health and energy depend on the quality of foods you are eating. Take the time to plan and make healthy meals. Making the time to care for your body is not only important to your health, but to your mental health as well. Research has found that the effects of depression can be alleviated by regular exercise. You only get one body, best to take good care of it throughout your life.

2. Make Peace with Yourself –Making mistakes is part of being human, have compassion for yourself and others as we are all in the process of learning and growing on this planet earth. Forgiving yourself means taking the learning from your mistakes and moving on.

3. Let Go of the Past – We can get so caught up in the hurts and injustice of the past.  When we think of past hurts, we feel hurt all over again. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean to cover it up and deny it, but rather to see it for what it is, our mistakes or someone else’s, and then being willing to forgive and let it go. Forgiving others frees us from negative emotions of anger, hate, and victimhood and opens us up to more positive range of emotions.

4. Imagine the Best – What is the best you can imagine for yourself? Imagination holds the key to  possibilities. As we open up our imagination, we dream about what is possible, then like magic, synchronicities show up to bring us the possibilities. Airplanes, internet, television, running water, all these things started as a dream in someone’s head. Your reality starts in your head, what can you imagine for yourself and your future?

5. Cherish the Present Moment – Too often we wait for vacations to spend quality time with our loved ones. Cherishing the present moment can be done every day, appreciating the little things in life with our friends, spouses, children and loved ones. It is as simple as asking yourself, “what is there to enjoy here?” and then taking a mental snapshot of it. Whether it’s your morning coffee, the smile of a friend, the laugh of a child, it’s the small moments of everyday that make up a lifetime.

6. Believe in Yourself. Why do we so often define ourselves by the past? The past is only a memory. What if you were to define yourself by the future and what you aspire to? As we think better about ourselves, we feel better and then naturally do better.  You hold the best within you right here, right now. Take an “I can do it” attitude.

7. Have Clear Written Goals – A study conducted at Dominican University found that those who had written goals significantly outperformed those who only thought about their goals. And, those who reported their weekly progress to a friend, significantly outperformed other groups. Having clear, written goals is a cornerstone to your success, and even better is to have a friend that will support you in achieving your goals. Make short term, mid range and long term goals.

8. Take Small Actions – Take one small positive step everyday that will move your life forward. Success is built one step at a time, it’s all the small steps that add up rather than a singular heroic effort. As you take small steps every day, you build a solid foundation for your success.

9. Stay Positive – Research has found that optimism increases longevity, health, job successes and higher scores on  achievement tests according to “Research Affirms the Power of Positive Thinking” by Daniel Goleman, published by The New York Times. When you practice the power of positive thinking, it helps you stay focused on what you want, helps you find solutions to your challenges, and empowers you to take action toward your goals. Plus, it may also benefit your health as researchers found that pessimists were more susceptible to depression and disease. Keep a scrapbook or journal in which you write only your successes and moments of happiness. You can include pictures, great quotes, your experiences, and this then becomes a great pick-me up anytime that you need a mental boost. As you think about the good experiences, it primes your brain to remember more good experiences, and create more positive experiences in the future.

10. Build Your Social Support – Positive relationships are key to enjoying life. As you cultivate your positive relationships with friends and family, you build a social support that can promote your health and well being. Making time for friends and family can decrease stress, provide mental well being, and even promote better health. A great way to meet new people with like-minded interests is to join groups on

Whether you are working on your own or with a Coach, as you implement and practice these tips, you’ll be thinking better and feeling better in your life.

Leave comments with your tips for living your best!

Here’s to your Health, Happiness, and Success!

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Laughter is not only good for your mood, its good for your health.

Posted by Holly Stokes on June 22nd, 2013

Can watching funny movies strengthen your immune system? There are physiological and psychological responses toLaughter is good for your health. laughter that affect both the mind and the body. Research studies show that the many health benefits of laughter may be just the ticket to help heal a weakened immune system and restore a positive mindset.

Laughter is a great way to reduce stress.  Cortisol and epinephrine, stress hormones that can impair the immune system, decrease with laughter.  Relieving stress conserves the body’s energies and promotes healing. One study found that laughter actually enhanced production and activity of natural killer cells which fight viruses and tumor cells. (Bennet, et al).

In addition to decreasing stress, laughter may also help with coping skills. Laughter was found to ease negative emotions and increase the sense of control and hope of cancer patients.

Laughter is thought to increase the number and activity of cells essential to the immune response including lymphocyte, cytotoxic helper cells and B cells. Studies have shown an increase in the number of antibodies after subjects watched a humorous film. Laughter also elevates levels…

Read the rest of the article here:


Research shows regular exercise is as effective as antidepressants.

I am now writing for, my official title is: Salt Lake City Healthy Living Examiner! Here’s my first article:

Can exercise be a prescription for depression?

We all know the health benefits of exercise, but what about the mental health benefits?

Research studies show that exercise can be as effective for depression as antidepressants.  A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed 156 men and women divided into three groups. One group participated in an aerobic exercise program, one group took Zoloft, and a third group did both. After 16 weeks, depression symptoms had eased in all three groups and 60-70% participants,  could not be classified as having major depression.

A followup study showed the effects of exercise lasted longer than antidepressants. From Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School “Understanding Depression”, reported that researchers checked in with 133 participants six months after the study had ended, those who engaged in regular exercise were less likely to relapse into depression.

Read the full article here, plus the top 5 tips for Motivation for your exercise program.

Here’s to your Healthy Lifestyle,

Holly Stokes, Motivational Coach

P.S. Need help with your Motivation to Exercise? Get the MP3 Motivation for Fitness for only $9.95 instant download. In just 15 minutes of listening, you’ll feel empowered and excited for fitness, looking forward to a great workout. Boost your motivation: see details here:

The Power of Smiling, Free Coaching session

Posted by Holly Stokes on May 7th, 2013

Surprising research on the power of smiling predicts how long you live, your happiness in your relationships, and your satisfaction in life. Kids smile as much as 400 times during the day, what can we learn from kids? People who smile more often are perceived by others as more polite, more sociable and even more competent.

Watch this TedTalks with Ron Gutman: The Hidden Power of Smiling

How often do you smile?

Do you want to be happier? What’s getting in the way of your happiness? Where are you stuck in your life?

For a Limited Time, I’m offering a FREE Life Coaching or Business Coaching session. In this session, you’ll :

  • Identify Whats Been Holding You Back
  • Experience the Magic of Life Coaching + NLP
  • Create a Plan for Moving Forward
  • DeMystify Self Sabotage
  • Discover if Life Coaching is a Good Fit For You and More

There is no obligation, as a Life Coach, it is part of my duty to educate people on what Life Coaching and Business Coaching is all about, and the best way to do that is to experience it for yourself.

Limited Space Available. Call Now to schedule your 30 minute Breakthrough Strategy Life Coaching or Business Coaching Session:


“I started working with Holly after ending my second marriage.  I was very emotionally depressed and negative about the prospects for the rest of my life. Holly was able to redirect my focus to the positive aspects of my life which has greatly improved my health and well being.” Barry S., Ph.D.-Research Biochemist

“I struggled with focus, procrastination, negative programming and developing a clear vision for my business. Holly as my Business Coach enabled me to achieve clarity and purpose in life and business. Working together, we shifted several past negative experiences  to positive associations which allowed me to be more focused, positive in attitude, and confident in achieving my personal and business goals. I am now more positive and focused, I have a work/life balance and I am sure of my business vision. I am now a believer in NLP techniques. I highly recommend Holly Stokes for NLP Business Coaching.” – Michael Leitch, VSource Systems, LLC Member Manager

Business Focus: clear your mental space

Posted by Holly Stokes on June 5th, 2012

Do you ever have those days that things just seem a little off? This morning, as I pulled my

coffee from yesterday out of the fridge,

as I did, I fumbled it and coffee spilled everywhere.

When the little things seem to go wrong, its easy to get flustered, and that makes us less effective

in everything else.

If we are seeing our business through the lens of frustration and stress, we are missing out on Read the rest of this entry »

Powerful NLP Process to Transform Depression

Posted by Holly Stokes on May 4th, 2012

In Neuro- Linguistic Programming (NLP) we think of depression as a mental habit rather than a disease.

Now a mental habit sounds fairly simple to change, right? Well, yes and no. What we know now in how the brain works, we can help it set up a new mental habit very quickly, yet emotions can be tricky, they can range from simple to very complicated.

At the simple level, we have emotional habits, like feeling stressed when you open up your mail or pay your bills. Then we have emotional associations, like the emotions that different foods have, such as the feeling of warmth and family that comes with pumpkin pie.

Then, we have emotions as messengers, giving us useful information about our lives and how to find greater happiness and well being.

Emotions can also indicate automatic thought patterns that are working against us. Rather than avoiding, denying or cutting off these negative emotions, its even more useful to identify what is causing or triggering the feeling, and then change it at the underlying level.

Emotions are messengers

Emotions are messengers giving us important Read the rest of this entry »

Instant Confidence with NLP Tool in 5 Minutes!

Posted by Holly Stokes on April 12th, 2012

Have you ever walked into a new situation with people that you didn’t know, a new job, speaking in front of a group, or even attending a party with people you don’t know? You know that feeling of being uncomfortable, nervous and withdrawn?

I used to get the heebie jeebies speaking in front of groups. In fact, one time as a teenager, I was supposed to speak in front of my church, I had memorized a poem, and I felt pretty comfortable with it. I stood up in front of the group and about ¾ of the way in, I was so nervous that I totally forgot it. My mind was so blank – I could not Read the rest of this entry »