Change: How to bring real change to your life

The psychology and secrets of highly effective people

by Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Paperback, 8 in. x 10 in. 194 pages

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Excerpt Chapter 2

Simply put, this workbook is about you winning at the game of life. It is a step-by-step guide that shows you how to get your needs met. If you studied highly effective people, you would learn that these individuals avoid Thought Mines and negative self-talk. They excel at positive self-talk and use emotional frameworks that lead to healthy interpersonal relationships. Highly effective people have learned to communicate clearly. They consistently read their environment correctly. They avoid emotional conflicts and bring out the best in the people they encounter.

Highly effective people build on their skills and are able to accomplish amazing feats. You too can learn to be a highly effective person. For this to happen, you will need a few particular skills. These skills are not hard to master, and they will serve you for a lifetime.

The five skills you will need:

1. Understand your self-talk and your self-esteem

2. Understand your emotional frameworks

3. Understand goal setting

4. Understand how to control time

5. Understand how to work your plan

 I hope you have noticed that the above are all about you...

All about you getting your needs met.

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

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Table of Contents



Introduction 7

1. Understand your self-talk and your self-esteem 9

         Self-talk can be implanted  9

         Self-talk is more believable  9

         You must control your self-talk to control yourself  10

         How is self-esteem built?   10

           The bird nest 11

         Three basic levels of self-esteem   12

               High self-esteem  13

                    An example of high self-esteem: 13

              Medium self-esteem 13

                   An example of medium self-esteem: 13

              Low self-esteem  14

                   Two examples of low self-esteem: 14

         Now for the good news... Self-esteem is not carved in stone 15

         How do you build your own self-esteem?  16


2. Viewing Your World With Effective Emotional Frameworks 19

         You are 100% responsible for dealing with your life  19

         Responsibility does not mean blame  20

         You are 100% responsible for dealing with how others treat you  22

              What do you present to the world? 23

         Understanding Thought Mines  26

         Thought Mine #1: Hyperbole  27

         Thought Mine #2: Irrational Labeling  28

         Thought Mine #3: Black and White Thinking  30

         Thought Mine #4: Practiced Hopelessness   32

         Thought Mine #5: Magnification (often related to Catastrophizing)  33

         Thought Mine #6: Catastrophizing (often related to Magnification)  34

         Thought Mine #7: Mind Reading  35

         Thought Mine #8: Fortune Telling  36

         Thought Mine #9: Filtering  37

         Thought Mine #10: Tunnel Vision  39

         Thought Mine #11: Emotional Reasoning  40

         Thought Mine #12: Judging  41

         Thought Mine #13: Self Blaming  42

         Thought Mine #14: Confusing needs with wants  44

         Thought Mine #15: Ambivalent Beliefs  46

         Thought Mine #16: Size Problem  47

              Admonition before you continue 49

         Life rewards calculated risk  50

              What is calculated risk? 53

              How can I do it differently? 54

              Life Rewards Action 55

              Your morals are your compass 56

         Control your perceptions  57

              Can you trust what you see? 60

                    Which is the heavier can experiment: 61

                    I have to go to the bathroom experiment: 62

                    Visual illusions: 62

         Purify your filters  67

         Stagnant beliefs hold you in the past  68

         Divest yourself of emotional baggage  71

         Emotional pain lasts much longer than the initial event  72

              Emotional pain influences your health 73

         Forgiveness is about you  74

              Forgiveness behaviors that have worked for others 75

         To Close this chapter, A few more tongue twisters:  78

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3. Understanding Goal Setting 81

         Avoiding the pitfalls  83

         Avoid the fear of failure 83

         Knowledge 85

         Two ways to get knowledge 87

         1. Learn it yourself: 87

         2. Hire it, rent it, or trade for it: 87

         Are you willing to do what it takes to get the outcome you desire?  88

         We need to question ourselves  89

         Confide in yourself and choose your counsel well  90

         Adapt or stagnate  91

         One choice at a time 93

         Most people and water take the path of least resistance 94



4. Understand how to control time 97

         Time lies  97

            1. There is more time in the future. 98

            2. I don’t care about time. 98

            3. You can “save time.” 99

         Time bandits  99

            Attitude 100

                   You’re tired 102

                   Lack of focus 102

                   Undefined goals 104

                   Distractibility 106

                   Failure to plan 107

                   Procrastination 108

                   Need for perfection 111

         Time management and personal organization skills  112

            Honest limitations 113

            Predicting time 114

            Excuses/Lies 117

            I’m too busy to plan 118

            I hate not being free, a daily planner is controlling 118

            My life is boring, I have nothing to plan 119

            Planning doesn’t work for me, I already tried it once 119

         Dr. Phil’s two sheet simple planner  120

            Section A: Hours of the day - The chunks 121

            Section B: Small item check boxes. 123

            Section C: the big stuff 124

         What else is in the planner binder? 126

         What to avoid: 127

         Ten minute planning time every day 127

         Appointing big projects 128

            Big project example one: A term paper 128

         Organizing big projects backwards in small chunks on a monthly calendar 131

         Let’s look at a few sticky places in the big project organization: 133

         Sometimes life gets in the way.  134

         Judging time takes practice 135

            Big project example two: Taking back the garage!  135

         Organize the garage projects backwards in small chunks on a monthly calendar 138

         Motivate the workers 143

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5. Understand How to Work Your Plan 145


         Understand what you want  145

         My Goal List  149

            Slight exaggeration helps 153

         What to do with your goal list  153

            Overview of the reticular activating system (RAS) of the human brain 153

            Putting the reticular activating system to work on your goals 157

            What’s the next action? 160

            A few more examples of setting personal goals 164

            The columns list to help define a path 165

            Let’s look at a business example.  169

            Accountability and the columns list 169

            Accountability section 172

         How others have made personal changes  173

6. In Conclusion: Be Creative... Go Do Well! 183

7. Forms 186

1. Understand your self-talk and your self-esteem


Self-talk is shrink speak for the stuff that goes on in our heads that only we can hear. It is that internal dialogue that we keep with ourselves. Most of us do not really think about how we talk to ourselves–—it just happens. But, self-talk is really important to understand if you wish to win in the game of life.

Self-talk is powerful. It comes from inside you. It comes from your past. It is a CD playing a familiar tune. If the tune is negative, it is hurtful in a negative way. If the tune is positive, it is helpful in a positive way.

Unfortunately, we are hard-wired to remember the negative better than the positive. Our brain lays down stronger negative memories than positive ones. Most people find that they can remember the negative events, the painful ones of their youth, more clearly than their positive memories.


Self-talk can be implanted

A lot of our self-talk is accidentally implanted. Often, self-talk is given to us by others that we feel are powerful in our lives. Mothers, fathers, spouses, teachers, friends, to name a few, give us information about ourselves that we lay down as powerful memories.


Self-talk is more believable

Self-talk is the interpretation of a situation rather than the situation itself. This interpretation influences our emotions, behaviors and even our physiology. Because self-talk comes from inside, it avoids most of the filters that we learn to use to evaluate our environment. We take the self-talk thought as a fact. Often self-talk is treated like a fact with emotional baggage. Sometimes we don’t even see the baggage, we combine it with a fact, making it an even bigger unexamined fact.


You must control your self-talk to control yourself

Thoughts that emanate from within are often stimulated by some external event. This makes your self-talk very powerful. So, if for example, your parents have called you stupid for twenty years, I suspect that when you are feeling upset or nervous you call yourself “stupid.”


How is self-esteem built?

Let’s start off by defining what we are talking about. Self-esteem goes by many names. Some call it self-worth, others self-confidence. The high brow academic set use words like, “the sense of self” or “ego identity.” Shakespeare said it best, “A rose, is a rose, is a rose,” or something like that. The reality is that we all know what high self-esteem or low self-esteem looks like, but it is hard to put it into words.

In a nutshell, self-esteem is the internal belief we hold about ourselves. What makes it hard to understand and put into words is that it is ever changing. We hold different internal beliefs about our abilities dependent on the situation.

For example, my five-year-old son informed me that he couldn’t pick up a hat in the side yard because of spiders. He hadn’t seen any spiders, but he was obviously uncomfortable. When he was reminded that he had touched spiders before, he said, “Yeah, but that spider was not hiding to get me!” Is this a self-esteem issue? In a way. If, at five, Joshua felt comfortable enough within himself to handle the fears that he pictured, I would not have had to pick up the hat. But, is it a self-esteem problem? It definitely is not. Josh was not saying to himself, “I’m not able to pick up the hat.” He was saying, “I’m afraid of spiders hiding under the hat and attacking me.” Often parents confuse low self-esteem with reasonable fear.

The internal belief we hold about ourselves is somewhat situational. You may feel comfortable talking to a small group, but petrified about presenting to thirty-four regional sales managers. When we talk about self-esteem, it is important to listen to our own self-talk. If we focus too much on our initial behavior we often miss the true picture.

So, when we talk about self-esteem, we are really talking about the internal balance of our beliefs of our self-worth.

When we are born we enter the world with a personal makeup. This personal makeup is usually called our temperament. You interact with your world through your temperament.

Newborns seem to be “pre-wired” to investigate their world. Part of their temperament is to investigate and eventually build relationships with their new world.

Infant research has shown that newborns have the ability to “interact” with their caregivers from the first moments of birth. Their eyes are developed enough to focus on their mother’s face during the first breast feeding. Infants are able to smell and remember their caregivers.

An individual’s temperament is influential in the formation of the feeling of self-worth. We take this sense of self with us throughout our life. For example, a sixty year old can truly say that they are the same, but still a different person than they were when they were six. Our feelings of self-worth are with us for a lifetime.


The bird nest

Recently my family and I watched a Discovery Channel program about birds from around the world. The narrator explained how different birds build their nests. Some birds simply moved around a patch of dirt and called it home. Other birds carried twigs and grasses up into a tree and intertwined them to make a nice basket. One swallow carried beak-fulls of mud, making a substantial “clay” pot to call home. A hyper little fellow swiped spider webs and sewed the sides of leaves together making a sturdy green hammock. The birds did all this by instinct. Each of the different birds was pre-programmed with the innate ability to build their species-specific nest. This is impressive.

We all build our self-esteem in a similar fashion. We pick and choose from our environment to form our belief of who we are. Our temperament tends to initiate the direction of what we notice. Then, as time goes by, our temperament is intertwined with our experiences to form the “self.” Most researchers believe that the self is pretty much built by age two. Then, by age three, we start an internal dialogue with ourselves and we develop our opinion about whom we are...,,, This is the onset of self-esteem.

End of chapter 1 excerpt


2. Viewing Your World With Effective Emotional Frameworks

Situations do not have feelings. We add the feelings to situations as they unfold before us. What I will be discussing here is your perceptions of your life. Your interpretation of what you think and do is your emotional framework. In this chapter we will dissect how we formulate and understand our world. First, we will look at personal responsibility. Then, we’ll move on to how we can often misread a situation, and finally, end this chapter by looking at how we can control our perceptions.

You are 100% responsible for dealing with your life

Over the years, my belief that we are all 100% responsible for our behaviors has produced predictable arguments from the adults I work with. On the surface, people are comfortable with this rule, as long as they read 100% as 93% or 97%. So let me make this clear, you are 100% responsible for how you deal with your life.

Mr. Griffith was a thirty-two year old father of three. He was arrested on December 24, for fighting in a hotel bar. When I talked with him in the jail’s interview room he looked as if he lost the fight. He held ice to his swollen face and complained of loose teeth.


Mr. Griffith:    It’s not fair! I’m told that I have to stay in this $#%&^ place until after Christmas.

Dr. Phil:          Sounds unpleasant, but how come you asked to see a therapist?

Mr. Griffith:    I want you to tell them that they are #$%$^ing with my kids. It’s not fair to my kids that they can’t be with their dad on Christmas.


The point that Mr. Griffith didn’t enjoy hearing was that he was blaming “them” for ruining his children’s Christmas. The reality was that he was 100% responsible for getting arrested, and his behaviors lead to him not being available to spend Christmas with his children.

Taking 100% responsibility for dealing with your life is hard. It is multifaceted. Often it is a pain in the neck. It would be much easier if you just got to blame others.


The American Heritage Dictionary defines responsibility as:


Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority. Able to make moral or rational decisions on one’s own, and therefore answerable for one’s behavior.


So, if you don’t get the promotion you desire, you are 100% responsible for how you deal with it. If your spouse walks out on you, you are 100% responsible for how you deal with it. If your children are hard to live with, you are 100% responsible for how you deal with it. If your car gets stolen, you are 100% responsible for how you deal with it.

At this point some smart individual likes to throw me a zinger. “You mean if a girl gets raped, or my mother gets shot by a gang banger, they’re responsible?”

I say yes! You are always 100% responsible for how you deal with it. Read on...


Responsibility does not mean blame

Responsibility is a person’s accountability. My friend, Sally, who I have known since high school, called all in a dither. “Phil you have to help me … I have to lose 28 pounds by next Saturday!”


“What?” I questioned.

“I have to lose 28 pounds by next Saturday!” She whined. “I have to. My college reunion is next Saturday.”

“Sally you can’t lose that much by next Saturday.” I said.

“I know, I know. But it’s not fair. I’ve got to lose this baby weight.”

“Baby weight, are you…?”

“Of course not, it’s all Michael’s fault.”

“What? Michael, your Michael?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s all his fault, I put on this weight with him.” She snarled.

“That makes no sense, Michael’s 28, how can you blame him?” I asked.

“It’s all his fault… that was a hard pregnancy.”


Sally did not want to take any responsibility for her problem.

Let’s look at this in a more serious situation. Stephanie was molested when she was six years old. She didn’t tell anyone because her uncle was the molester. She was very confused and blamed herself for many years. She came to my office when she was twenty-four years of age. She had recently told the man she loved that she could not marry him. But, she could not tell him the reason why. Stephanie was afraid to have sex. This was not a huge problem while she was dating. Both of them were saving themselves for marriage. But she knew that she could not go on a honeymoon. You can’t save yourself for marriage after you say “I do.” At that point you have to “do.” It took a lot of courage for Stephanie to reach out for help.

Over the course of a year, Stephanie worked very hard in therapy to combat her fears. During our last session, I asked her to sum up her therapy experience.


I learned that my uncle was to blame for betraying my trust in him, and that I was not responsible for being a victim at the age of six. But, I am responsible now if I feel like a six year old victim at the age of twenty-five.

After a long pause she continued.

I also know that if I let my life get ruined because of my past that would be my fault. I am 100% responsible for how I deal with my life! I want a family. I deserve a family. And, I’m looking forward to getting pregnant.


We both cried with joy because we both knew that she was a powerful woman who understood personal responsibility.


You are 100% responsible for dealing with how others treat you

Most people assume that they have little, if any, control over how others treat them. I believe the opposite to be true. I believe that you are 100% responsible for dealing with how others treat you. That doesn’t mean that you have 100% control of how others act. It simply means that you are responsible for how you deal with how they act towards you.

Recently, a friend and I went out for our normal late Tuesday night dinner. Usually, the restaurant is almost empty. This particular night, the place was a mad house. It was packed with fire fighters just off the fire lines thirty miles away. The two waitresses were running all over, frantically trying to get the loud, hungry mass fed.

The bus boy noticed us and said he would clean a table for us in a few minutes. My friend and I sat reading the menu. He said, “We’re never getting served today!”

“It’ll be OK,” I said.

When the waitress made her way to our table she looked like she had been put through a blender. Her hair was a mess, her little purple decorative apron was stained, and she seemed all jittery.

“Wow, you seem to be really overworked tonight. Are you OK?” I inquired.

“Hungry ... rude ... fire fighters,” She gasped. “They all want steak at the same time.” She wiped her brow with her forearm.

She told us that since four o’clock the place had been packed with hungry fire fighters. The kitchen was not set up for cooking this many steaks at one time, and two waitresses were not enough.

“It sounds unfair how you’re being treated. When you have a minute for me let me know.” I said.

“No, it’s OK. What do you want? I’ll get it for you. I don’t care if they starve!” She said with a smile.

We were taken care of very well. The reason was because I treated the waitress with respect and empathy. I let her feel like a nice person, and she subsequently acted towards me like a nice person. I’m sure that she was choosing to treat my table nicely, because she surely had no trouble growling at the loud table in the far corner.

As you go through your world you need to take responsibility for getting your needs met. If I were grumpy with the overworked waitress she would have seen me as one of the loud mass of humanity that filled her restaurant. But, recognizing that she was being put upon by her situation let her see me as a nice guy she wanted to feed. We both won. She felt appreciated and I got fed.


What do you present to the world?

I told the story above to a sixteen-year-old boy who had been referred to my office because of his argumentative nature in school.


Benjamin: It’s not fair. If I go into a restaurant and the waitress is having a bad day, she has no right to treat me like $#!*. She works for me, doesn’t she?

Dr. Phil: I guess she works for you, but she is a person, isn’t she?

Benjamin: So ... she’s a person with a job. I shouldn’t have to kiss her ass just for her to do her job.

Dr. Phil: Is that what I was doing, kissing ass?

Benjamin: Most definitely. ‘You’re working hard.’ ‘You’re being mistreated!’ He mimicked. She shouldn’t take a job she didn’t want. She is getting paid to get food for people and not to bitch.

Dr. Phil: I’ll give you that what you are saying is true. But, none of that really matters to me. I wasn’t nice to her because I had to be nice to her. I was nice to her because I wanted to be. In fact, I wanted to be served food in a timely manner. And, I didn’t want her to growl at me. I was getting my needs met. It was also nice for the waitress, but that wasn’t the reason I went to the restaurant, to be nice to a waitress. I went to the restaurant to get dinner. The way I interacted with the waitress got my needs met.

Benjamin: Oh, that’s great for you with all your psychology. But I run into people that dump on me all the time.

Dr. Phil: Like at school?

Benjamin: Right. My first period teacher is a bitch to everyone. She doesn’t care if I’m tired or if I have a headache. She just is on me, “Where’s your homework,” “Don’t talk to me with that attitude!” I hate her and she knows it. So she takes any opportunity to jump on my back.

Dr. Phil: You mean if you turned in your homework, and were talking to her politely, she’d complain?

Benjamin: No. Of course not. She would probably find someone else to bitch at.

Dr. Phil: So, you’re saying you’re involved with her bitching at you?

Benjamin: I didn’t say that, she just hates me.

Dr. Phil: It sounds to me that she will find someone else to hate if you don’t fuel her fire by not turning in your homework.

Benjamin: Yeah, I guess. But, she works for me and she just bitches at me.

Dr. Phil: Let me understand this. Your teacher works for you? Her job is to get you to learn stuff? She thinks that you doing your homework will help you learn? It sounds like you have a pretty good employee for first period.

Benjamin: (with a smile) I hate when you make this all my stuff.


It was Benjamin’s job to learn. Instead of taking that responsibility on his own shoulders, it was easier for him to blame his teacher. In fact, it was easier for him to blame his mother, his ex-girlfriend, and his grandparents for the problems in his life. He was the king of blaming others for his crappy relationships. It wasn’t until he started to take personal responsibility for how he treated others and how others treated him, that his life became rewarding.

It is not until you accept 100% responsibility for dealing with your life that you will start to have a positive influence on how you treat others and others treat you.

Emotional frames are the borders that we see our world in. Imagine taking a full sheet of paper and cutting a small square in the center of it. The paper would become a frame for the small square you removed. If you put the paper in front of your face, and peered through the small opening, the paper frame would limit your view. You would still see a lot, but your view would be significantly limited. The paper frame would become your visual filter.

If you wore the frame in front of your face, over time your limited view would become normal to you. In fact, if you wore the paper frame from birth, you would not know what you did not know.

If this frame were filtering your emotions, rather than your sight, you would probably misinterpret interpersonal communications on a regular basis. And you probably wouldn’t even know that you were misinterpreting.

This emotional framework and emotional filtering is very important. It is part of who we are every second of our life. It is how we view and feel about our life experiences. Let me give you a simple example:

I needed to pop into the hardware store to replace my old wrench. It wasn’t the most important thing in the world to do, but I wanted to do it. When I got to the store, the parking lot was packed. Later, I found out that there was a big pre-pre Christmas sale. I parked at the farthest parking lot, in the last row. I was barely in the same county as the store.

At this point, I began to think about my thinking. At the simplest level I had two thoughts.

“What a pain in the neck. I have to walk all the way over there just for the privilege of buying a wrench.”

“What a nice opportunity. I get a nice brisk walk and get to go buy a wrench.”

These two emotional frameworks seem pretty similar. But they most definitely are not. The first emotional framework defines my world as inconvenient. It makes me the victim of a mass conspiracy of mega corporate hardware stores who forced me to suffer a several-minute walk.

The second emotional framework allows me to experience the blessing of a healthy four-minute walk to do what I want.

We all have a running dialogue narrating our life (self-talk). If the dialogue is negative once a day, no big deal. But, if the dialogue is constantly negative, hour after hour, day after day, we become negative. You are, or will become, what you think about the most. If you have millions of negative thoughts you will become a person weighed down by negative thoughts.

On the other hand, if you have millions of positive thoughts, you will become a person who is uplifted by millions of positive thoughts.

Please think about this at a very selfish level. If you could choose positive over negative, why would you chose negative? Which would be better for you? By being aware of your self-talk, and your emotional frameworks you can uplift yourself. Who better to help you, than you?


Understanding Thought Mines

Thought Mines are social misreadings that get in the way of communicating clearly. They are thought stumbling blocks that allow us to misread, and often misjudge, the intention of others. By misreading others intentions, we can often get sidetracked from getting our needs met.

There are sixteen Thought Mines listed below. Each Thought Mine is followed by a definition and several examples. The example categories are:


• Negative self-talk example

• Couple example

• Teen example

• Work/school example


The examples are typical sentences that illustrate that particular Thought Mine. Negative self-talk is a thought, whereas the categories: couple, teen, or work/school, are representative sentences. These examples are not set in stone. It is common for a Thought Mine to be in more than one category at the same time. The important thing is that you notice it as a Thought Mine. The act of noticing the Thought Mine allows you to control it. We all have Thought Mines. If you do not control them, they will control you.

The order of the following Thought Mines is based on what I see in my office, ranked from most common to least common. Most Thought Mines occur without warning. As the stress in one’s life increases, the intensity and frequency of the Thought Mines increase, often to the point where the mere presence of the other person, or the situation, is revolting and painful. Please note, a situation (or a person) simply is. We interpret it as a positive or a negative. This will be discusses in more detail later in the section, Control your perceptions.

Each Thought Mine is followed by a definition and a list of examples. Please note that the following examples are representative statements. The same sentence may represent numerous Thought Mines. I list examples mainly to give you a starting point. Often individuals blend two or three “favorite” Thought Mines together into their own type of social misreading.


End of Excerpts

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Paperback, 8 in. x 10 in. 194 pages

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