Barbara, with her short sandy colored hair had some tough decisions to make. So many things were swirling around in her head that she felt sick inside from all the questions. Her friends and family told her to just use her willpower and get out of the relationship. But it seemed more complex than thatRead More
"My thinking was in a rut." laments our hero bike rider Destin in the video below. Ah, how true that can be!
Destin had become used to riding his bike (thinking, feeling, acting) one way. It took him eight months of repeating the different way of bike riding before he saw a real change.
Are there areas of your life where your "rutted thinking" causes you to think, feel, and act certain ways? Does change seem almost impossible?
You may have found that simply wanting to change, or even trying to change doesn't always work.
It's not so simple. As Destin says, " If you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes, you can't change that, even if you want to."
So, like me, you may get impatient and want to stop trying. Perhaps you even beat yourself up, telling yourself what a failure you are because you don't change.
Well, here's good news and bad news. The good news first: You can change! And... if you change one part of the problem, you make changes to the whole system.
The bad news? When a way of thinking, feeling, and acting becomes a habit, it has become a "biological chain reaction."
Hum, biological chain reaction? What's that? It's is a set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have become like connecting cross-country ski trails in your nervous system. Once you start on that trail, if you don't know how to interrupt it, you will follow it to the very end. The habit like a CD and you are the CD player
A habit or biological chain reaction is both physical and psychological. It's psychological because it affects your mind, will, and emotions, causing you to think, feel, and act the same ways over and over. It's physical because of the trails embedded in your nervous system.
Once a set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is firmly established in your nervous system, you can no longer analyze or will yourself out of that habit.
You have acted yourself into a set of reactions and now, you will have to act yourself out of it, step by step, choice by choice.
To change, instead of repeating the same old reactions you will have to train yourself to do something different each time something triggers those old thoughts, feelings, and behaviors..
If you want to understand this better, take a look at Become the Person You Were Meant to Be, especially Chapter 6 on changing behaviors. The book also offers the Choice-Cube Method as a way to actually make changes, get unstuck, and move toward becoming the person you were meant to be.
Years ago, I learned that I could direct my emotions. You can, too. I invite you to try it. First, put a paperclip on your knee. Focus on it and tell yourself to feel “love” for it. Feel the love. Pretty interesting, huh? Now, try shifting to anger. If you try, you can even feel fear as you focus on that little paperclip.
That you can direct your emotions is old news. The new news, according to neuroscientists’ research, is that “mental rehearsal”--a repeated focus on a feeling such as love, anger, or fear--can make lasting changes to structures in your brain and body!
An example of mental rehearsal comes from the University of Wisconsin (Psychological Science 2013). This research suggests that a daily focus on being loving and compassionate affects pathways in the brain and reinforces those feelings. Equally as interesting, the research shows that this daily focus also changes behaviors, which become more loving and compassionate.
Along the same positive lines,“compassion meditation” was the subject of a recent study from Emory University. This is where you spend time focusing on your desire to develop feelings of compassion and kindness for others. As a result of this compassion meditation, subjects’ ability to read the facial expressions of others increased.
The takeaway is that the awareness of a feeling and simply focusing on your desire to develop that feeling can activate the neural circuits responsible for producing it thus creating or strengthening it.
Of course, what is true for positive emotions, is also true for negative ones. For example, noted researcher Candace Pert points out that your repeated focus on a negative emotion such as fear or disgust can lead to addiction to that emotion.
It’s the old law of sowing and reaping. (Whatever you put out there, gets you more of it.) It would seem that based on neuroscience research the old law has become the new law.
So what about you? Will you spend a few minutes each day focusing on some positive emotions and memories... on what you feel grateful for? If you do, the likelihood is that you will strengthen the brain pathways and connections that produce those positive feelings and get more of them.
If, however, you have trouble finding and focusing on the positive, you might be interested in how to overcome the things that block you. I invite you to take a look at Become the Person You Were Meant to Be The Choice-Cube® Method: Step by Step to Choice and Changehttp://amzn.to/Ug268G. You can retrain yourself, change, and grow to engage life more fully. You can also check out my website to learn more about the method.
2014 Choice-Cube Publications LLC. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, (including on the World Wide Web), in whole or in part is encouraged provided the attribution Choice-Cube Publications is preserved
Jack had a problem. Around forty-years-old, good-looking, smart, and capable, with a college degree in business, he couldn’t hold down a job. Oh, things would start out just fine. Then Jack would take offence at something or someone and the downward-slide would start.
What was going on? Jack had a “focus problem.” Growing up, both his mom and dad expected him to be perfect. Jack learned to defend himself by focusing on their faults and taking offense at anything he thought was criticism.
Now, as an adult, he had a bad habit. Without thinking, he automatically assumed people were critical of him. Then, to feel better about himself, he focused on their flaws and weaknesses and attacked. He knew just how to make somebody feel rotten.
People who worked with Jack either avoided him or tried to get even. As a result, things at work became chaotic. Finally, though there was no problem with his work, the boss had to let him go. This scenario had played out several times. Still Jack didn’t realize that his negative focus on others was destroying his life.
Like Jack, you may also have a negative focus. For example, you may live in a “what if… focus” that causes you to worry about everything all the time. Perhaps you focus on each little physical twinge and pain with fear of some serious disease. Or, instead of solving problems, do you focus on not having enough money… time… energy?
Your focus determines the direction and quality of your life. Where and what you focus on is where you will put your life-energy. Jack’s fear of criticism and his habit of trying to feel okay by putting others down was ruining his life.
Another way to say this is to talk about the “law of sowing and reaping.” Whether it’s corn or tulips, the seeds you plant determine the crop you get. In the same way, whatever you “put out there” will come back to you.
You can learn to recognize your focus and choose what you focus on. Choose wisely because whatever you focus on, negative or positive, will come into your life.
To learn more about choice, I invite you to look at the “Choice-Cube® 4 Steps for Change” in my book Become the Person You Were Meant to Be. You will find lots of new ideas, and learn some tools to help you both find immediate relief and take the 4 Steps. Most importantly, using the tools and taking the Steps, you can learn to make important changes that will last.
Are you feeling stuck? Do you want to make some changes? You may feel conflicted, uncertain, or unequipped to make changes. You may even have felt this way for a while. But there is a way out. It's not complicated either. If you want to make changes to your life take the following 4 steps of the Choice-Cube Method. They can make a world of difference. But there's a secret. The four steps won't change you.
THE SECRET TO CHANGE Guess what will... Truth and compassion * Yes, ultimately in all situations, it is not tools, techniques or steps, but truth and compassion that bring genuine change and healing.
BUT FIRST! Before you begin to use the Choice-Cube Method's tools and 4 steps for choice and change, I would like you to do two things. First, get an idea--a vision--of the best of who you are. Second, take the Choice-Cube Assessment Quiz to find out how your body, emotions, mind and will/desires may be blocking you and holding you back from becoming who you were meant to be. Now, take a look at the Choice-Cube Method
THE CHOICE-CUBE METHOD'S 4 STEPS FOR TRUTH AND COMPASSION, CHOICE AND CHANGE Step 1 - Body: Pay attention. Stay aware. Be an objective observer of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. What truth is your body trying to tell you? If you feel stressed, have some tools on hand to help you manage your stress and move on to Step 2.
Step 2 - Emotions: Don't be afraind to know the truth of what you feel. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and label them. You do not have to act on them. Emotions are signals from your body that tell you to pay attention and decide if what you are doing, or what is being done to you, is helpful or harmful. If you don't have tools to interrupt negative emotions and replace them, learn some. Then use them. Emotions can enrich your life if you know how to manage them well.
Step 3 - Mind: If you manage your stress and negative emotions it's time to look for the meaning you are attaching to the person, thing, action or problem that is upssetting you. Now is the time to look at yourself and see what needs to change within you. Be honest and patient with yourself and others. Can you you stop focusing on something or someone outside of you that you think is the problem? Are you willing to take responsibility for your part in the problem? If so, you give yourself choice.
When you can see the problem and the meaning you attach; if you take responsibility for what you think, feel, want, and do; you can see the problem but also look for your options and strengths. When you can see both, try to seesaw between the two until you are ready to choose which one you prefer to focus on. This choice is critical because whatever you focus on will result in more of the same. Your focus will cause you to see what you are already looking for! This causes the formation of new mental and behavioral habits, healthy and harmful.
Step 4 - Will/Desires: Now, if you have managed your stress, negative emotions, and the meaning you attach--Steps 1 through 3--you can stop trying to avoid or control everything inappropriately. You can do something different. You can make changes and take action to resolve issues win-win--so that you and others feel fairly dealt with. You can replace the negative and act on the positive.
These four steps are the steps of the Choice-Cube Method for choice and change found in Become the Person You Were Meant to Be. In addition to the four steps, the book also provides a mental framework for self-understanding and tools for choice and change. Once you learn the steps and tools you can use them over and over to find immediate relief in the present and to make long-term lasting changes.
*Truth is defined here as a relatively realistic and complete picture of yourself, others, and the situation.Compassion is defined as consciousness of others’ and your own distress with a desire to alleviate it.