Get that Paper Bag Off Your Head!

Howard just lay there in bed. He knew he had to go to work. But he felt so anxious and depressed, he didn't want to move. It felt like he had a paper bag over his head, and he didn't know why.

STUCK OR UNSTUCK?  Have you ever awakened feeling out of sorts, not knowing why? When this happened, weren't you tempted to focus on how bad you felt? The danger is, of course, getting stuck inside that brown bag on a mental merry-go-round.

YOU CAN GET UNSTUCK   Yet, there is a way to get unstuck right away. Start with these two simple questions: What am I feeling? and What do I want? can make a difference.

LABEL THAT FEELING!   Yes, you already know you feel lousy. But when you ask the first question and deliberately label what you are feeling, you can locate that feeling in time and space. You make the emotion concrete–something you can manipulate instead of giving it power to run you... you stop doing the same old thing and do something different.

YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR BRAIN Recent brain research by Matthew Lieberman of the University of California, Los Angeles suggests that simply labeling your feelings—angry, anxious, overwhelmed, sad—changes your brain.

A little almond shaped bundle of nerves, called the amygdala, sits in your emotional brain. It becomes very active when you are upset. Lieberman found that when his research subjects deliberately labeled their feelings, the amygdala began to slow down and “relax.” Also, labeling an emotion engages the thinking part of the brain and better equips you to understand and resolve your problems.

YOU CAN LEARN SOME SIMPLE TOOLS   There are simple tools you can learn to help you stay aware of feelings and label them. These tools can also help you to let go of feelings safely and appropriately. “Appropriately” means to express them without hurting yourself or anyone else. Later I'll tell you where you can find those tools.

So label your painful, angry, and overwhelming feelings. Learn to let go of them and engage the thinking part of your brain. Your mind will clear and now, it’s time for the second question: What do I want?

BAD NEWS – GOOD NEWS     When you ask this second question, look for personal losses and conflicts. There may be surprises. The bad news is that often, emotions help you avoid knowing things you are not ready to face. The good news is that when you release those emotions in an appropriate fashion, the door usually opens to new understanding. This includes knowing what you really want.

EMOTIONS AND THOUGHTS CAN POISON YOU   Appropriately managing your negative emotions and thoughts is critical. If you fail to deal with them, they don’t just disappear. They just sit in you. Like bad food, they can poison you until you get them out of you. Whoa, you can become so toxic, confused, and stuck. Why not learn to recognize emotional paper bags and how to get rid of them?

Using the two questions What am I feeling? and What do I want? can help. You can learn about these questions and other things in the book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be – The Choice-Cube Method. The method presented in the book will give you a mental framework, simple tools, and four steps to help you deal with all kinds of paper bags. You can download the first chapter for free.

Four Steps You Can Take Right Now To Change Your Life

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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 these four steps. 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 help you change... 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, 

FOUR 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 afraid 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 or reinforces the formation of 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 the 4 Steps of the Choice-Cube Method for choice and change found in Become the Person You Were Meant to Be. In addition to the 4 Steps, this book also provides a Checklist 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.

Tips To Get You Out Of Feeling Stuck

Are you feeling depressed, anxious, angry, or in conflict? This is a normal part of life. Getting stuck feeling this way is the problem.

We get stuck when our focus is off and we keep repeating painful or damaging thoughts, feelings, desires, and behaviors that hurt us and others. Life can feel overwhelming when we try, but fail to avoid or control things that keep coming back to haunt us. We often feel paralyzed when we are in conflict and uncertain about our next move. Or we jump the track and act crazy. To get relief, we shut down and simply repeat hurtful old thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Or we blindly make unhelpful new choices. We are stuck and that’s the problem.

We get stuck because our powerful subconscious mind takes over and our thinking becomes lopsided. We cannot see the whole truth of the situation—the big picture. And we lack hope and compassion for ourselves and others. Our subconscious mind stirs up instincts and habits that force us to see ourselves, others, and the world in painful, but familiar ways. And often we don't even realize how mean and ugly our focus is; or how hurt and angry our focus makes us feel. We get stuck on auto-pilot and our subconscious mind, not our conscious mind, is running our show.

We can find freedom if we stay conscious and know how to get off auto-pilot. Here are two keys to help us. The first key is to stay aware of where we focus, what we feel, and how we react. The second key is take responsibility for our part in the problem and to look for the truth of the situation. Using these two keys creates choice. And freedom to choose is the first step toward the change we desire. It's all about turning off the auto-pilot and taking full command.

Our creative, problem-solving conscious mind can control the reactions of our body, emotions, thoughts, pictures in our mind, desires, and behaviors. When we stay in our conscious mind--aware, responsible, and off auto-pilot--we can always find more appropriate ways of responding to life. Instead of falling back on old hurtful habits and ways of doing things, we can do something different and helpful.

But there's that problem again. It's so easy to lose our focus, go on auto-pilot and get stuck. Without a constant effort to stay aware and responsible, our sub-conscious takes over, controls us, and we repeat the same old things one more time. We can get terribly stuck!

The self-help book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method, by Dr. Beth Cujé can help guide you to greater awareness and freedom. You can begin to understand yourself and why you do the things you do the things you do. You can learn to have choice and change. The method will give you:
• A mental framework to help you self-monitor and stay aware
• Simple tools to give you choice and help you change
• Four steps guide your change and help you get free



THE SITUATION“Tim makes me so mad. I hate him!” Sara, a new client, was yelling at me. Truth be told, Tim does not make Sara angry. He triggers her rage, but Sara is making herself furious.

It works like this. Sara’s focus on Tim’s current behavior pulls up certain thoughts, memories, and pictures in her mind. These create the meanings she attaches to Tim. At this moment, she sees him as mean and unreasonable. The meanings she attaches then cause the emotion (anger) that Sara is feeling.

But let’s suppose Tim makes Sara laugh and hands her a small gift. Her focus will still be on Tim, but the meaning she attaches to him will change. I’m pretty sure her emotion will change from hate to something more positive, hopefully love.

Note: Our focus causes the meaning we attach to a person, thing, or situation and this causes the emotions we feel.

WHAT ARE WE TO DO?      Our challenge is to stay aware of our reactions and take full responsibility for them. It’s true that others trigger emotions in us. But how we process that flow of energy and information depends on us. Moreover, we mustn’t forget that in most cases we repeat these useless reactions over and over again. We get stuck in this habitual way of reacting, and it’s up to us to train ourselves to get unstuck.

BAD NEWS - GOOD NEWS     If we refuse to take responsibility and insist that others are making us feel a certain way, we give away our power to change ourselves. We are at others’ mercy until they make us feel different. In contrast, if we take responsibility for our reactions, we can choose to do something about them. If we acknowledge them, and our responsibility in them, we are better prepared to resolve the issues and situations that cause them.

THIS MIGHT HELP   If you struggle with taking responsibility for your reactions, do not despair, the tools and four steps of the Choice-Cube Method found in the book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be, can teach you how to train yourself to take responsibility for your reactions and change them.

A LITTLE SECRET     Here’s a secret. Forgiving is often necessary for us to change our focus. This means forgiving others and ourselves! Sometimes forgiving is possible only with help from God or our Higher Power. Connection to God or our Higher Power can often help us find the compassion and forgiveness we seek.

My book, Become the Person You Were to Be, gives you the chance to explore some of these ideas. Look inside the book at or download its first chapter for FREE. Just click here and get an idea of what the Choice-Cube Method can do for you