How many times a day do you need to take a deep breath to buy some time or clear your head and refocus? When you need to refocus, give the “Miracle Breath” a try. This simple little breathing exercise can help you get out of the parts of your brain that control fear and desire and get you back into your frontal cortex. Frontal cortex? What’s that? That’s the part of your brain that helps you think clearly and plan ahead. It’s right there behind the bones of your forehead.Read 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.
When Jack feels upset, he tries to figure out what’s going on. Sometimes, he can, but more often he can’t find the answer. Janice in contrast, doesn’t even try to understand what’s happening. She just looks for someone to criticize or blame.
Tom simply is not interested in trying to understand. He thinks that if he just forges ahead and works harder and harder, things have to get better. But usually they don’t.
These are all examples of people caught up in efforts to control people, things, actions, and problems.
At the other extreme, are the people who try to avoid difficulties. Fran, for example, escapes her problems by getting high. Jack stuffs his thoughts and feelings about the problem, while Alice collapses, submits to the problem, and wallows in it.
We have failed to understand and manage the overwhelming power of our body and emotions to hijack our mind and negatively influence our everyday life.
Instead, for years, our efforts to help people with problems have focused on changing how they think—on their minds. We have ignored the role the body plays in driving us to avoid or control things that make us uncomfortable or threaten us in some other way.
Why would we prefer to focus on the mind? Because honestly confronting our stress and emotions can be uncomfortable, even painful. In fact, we often choose to feel stuck and unable to change rather than deal directly and honestly with stress and negative emotions.
This is dangerous. When we refuse to consciously and appropriately manage stress and our emotions two things happen. First, stress and our emotions lock in warped and distorted thinking. Second, they hide the whole truth—the big picture--from us.
We then tend to use the avoid/control survival strategies, mentioned above, to keep stress and negative emotions from overwhelming us. The problem is that each time we repeat an old strategy, we strengthen it and create habit patterns of negative beliefs, reactions, and dysfunctional behaviors.
Like Jack, Janice, and Alice, we reach for old, familiar strategies that prevent healthy resolution of issues. We strengthen the stress and negative emotions attached to them and create habit patterns that we mindlessly repeat and reinforce through repetition.
It’s time to awaken to the role the body plays in what we think, feel, want, and do. It’s time to learn how to manage our stress and emotions moment-to-moment, instead of allowing stress and negative emotions to take over and control us.
A first step is stress management training. This approach makes us aware of our body and often enables us to stay present in the moment. Body awareness and knowing how to use our mind to stay present is foundational. But there’s more, much more.
Can you imagine a dependable method for choice and change that provides a simple framework to help you immediately recognize and label stress and negative emotions; tools that equip you to make wise choices and changes; and 4 steps to guide that change?
Such a method would create an internal sense of safety as follows. I can trust the framework to help me recognize my stress and negative emotions, I can use the tools to help me take responsibility and make wise choices and changes. I can follow these 4 steps and do something different that leads to positive action.
The framework, tools, and 4 steps are like a tool kit that keeps you moving through problems and difficulties to a win-win resolution of them.
When you can recognize your reactions and take responsibility for them, hopefully you have some simple tools to help you manage them. The tools should help you let go of crazy, hurtful thoughts--distorted information—and the emotions attached to those thoughts.
Both the thoughts and the emotions--energy in motion--are embedded in the nervous system of your mind and body. It’s this distorted information and energy and that create the stress and negative emotions in the first place.
I would like to offer you the Choice-Cube® Method framework, tools and 4 steps to help you move through confusion, anxiety, anger, shame, and feeling overwhelmed to honesty and compassion for others and yourself.
Would you like to learn how to use the framework, tools, and 4 steps in your life? They are found in, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method: Step by Step to Choice and Change, by Dr. Beth Blevins Cujé. You can learn more about the method and sign up for a free copy of the first chapter of Dr. Cujé’s book. Just click here: http://www.choicecube.com.
 “Appropriately” means managing our stress and emotions without hurting ourselves or others.
DEBBIE’S STORY Debbie recalls the day she met her husband. It was the typical scene of gazes meeting across a crowded room. They spoke. They danced. He walked her home. They shared a brief kiss. But then they hugged. And that was what did it for her. She knew right then and there he was the man for her. A few years later they married.
What happened that first night? Love at first sight? Magic? Ah, wouldn’t it be romantic, but no. Most likely, their romance was influenced by a surge of oxytocin – a hormone that passionate physical touch and closeness releases in the brain.