Want To Strengthen An Emotion And Change Your Behavior? Just Your Intention and Mental Rehearsal May Help!

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

Stay Aware and Enjoy Life’s Little Pleasures. You Can Create a Happiness Habit.

fotolia-boy and girl on bench.jpg

“What in the world are you doing?” I asked with a smile. 

Jim was gently rubbing his collarbone with his left hand.

 “Rubbing it in.” he smiled back as he gave one last, quick rub. 

“Rubbing what in?” 

“The good feeling of being here with you, of course.” he replied.    

Then it dawned on me. Jim was taking time to focus on the good feelings we were sharing as he “rubbed it in.”  He was programming his subconscious mind with this positive moment to create his “happiness happy.

You’ve heard the phrase,  “ Take time to smell the roses.” Corny but true. It takes a little effort to stay aware savoring and being grateful for the sweetness of a ripe peach, the good feeling that comes with a genuine compliment, the joy of a family at dinner having a good belly laugh together, or like Jim, the pleasure of just hanging out together.

Positive psychologist, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, suggests that these “good” events are typically subtler than the negative ones and harder to recognize. Also, she says that we tend to take positive feelings in stride because they are less novel, not necessarily out of the ordinary, and not threatening. Studies show, however, that good events outnumber bad events by three or four or five to one and that staying aware of them is good for us.

Happy people generally have better medical, dental and psychological health, suggests Dr. Kurtz of the University of Virginia and coauthor of Positively Happy. Positive people also tend to see improvement in the physical and  psychological conditions of people around them.

Here’s the point. Do you tend to focus on the negative? Do you find yourself craving continuous moments of high passion and intensity and disappointed with the small things in life? Or do you have a mindset that allows you to look for and enjoy those micro-moments of positivity? You have choice!  Instead of automatically going to the negative, you can choose to look for, and enjoy life’s everyday small moments of pleasure, good relationships, satisfactions, and joy. And there’s more good news. You have lots of them.   Your choice…


2018 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.   

Are You A Three-Way-Mirror?

YOU are a three-way-mirror:  How you relate to yourself;  how you relate to others and the world in general; and how you relate to the world of spirit--the world you cannot see or touch.

Have you examined your mirrors lately? It might be a good idea to do just that. Why? Because what is in your three mirrors determines the quality and direction of your life. What is in your mirrors controls how much freedom, purpose, fulfillment, and life-satisfaction you are experiencing , have experienced, and will experience!

If how you relate to yourself--your intra-personal mirror--is limiting or distorted, if how you relate to others--your inter-personal mirror--is limiting or distorted, if how you relate to spirit--your trans-personal mirror--is limiting or distorted,   then  seeing who you really are, how wonderful you are, and what you are here on earth for becomes a very difficult task. 

But there is good news. You always have choice. It’s never too late to change what is in your mirrors. 

YOUR INTRA-PERSONAL MIRROR.          Let me give you an example of each mirror, starting with the first one--how you relate to yourself. Are you your own best friend or your worst enemy? Do you take responsibility for what you think, feel, want, and do? This is the only way to make lasting changes. Do you encourage yourself with honest feedback and compassion? Do you speak to yourself with understanding and love? Do you follow through on your dreams and desires?

Or are you critical and harsh with yourself? Do you feed yourself thoughts and pictures of fear, failure and inadequacy? Do you dwell on unrealistic pictures and dreams that you will never pursue?

YOUR INTER-PERSONAL MIRROR.          Here’s the second mirror--how you relate to others and the world in general. Do you share yourself with people who care for you and have your best interests at heart? Are you honest and compassionate with those you meet and those you are intimate with? Do you treat them the way you want to be treated? Do you speak the truth with kindness, seeking to resolve issues “win-win” (everyone feels they are getting a fair deal)?

Or, are you critical, judgmental, impatient and demanding with others? Do you use others for your pleasure and fail to have their best interests at heart? When there are issues, do you avoid dealing with them? Do you go along and agree just to avoid conflict? Do you try to control things by getting angry or pouting and withdrawing?

YOUR TRANS-PERSONAL MIRROR.          Here’s the third mirror--how you relate to the world that you cannot see or touch--the world of spirit.  Do you believe there is a power greater than yourself? Do you believe this power exists for your good? Perhaps you see it as non-caring and impersonal or even destructive.

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the three mirrors in depth. However, since what is in your three mirrors so influences your life, I invite you to take a few minutes to look at them. What do you see? What would you prefer to see? What changes do you need to make to get what you want? What’s the best way to do that?

One way to give yourself choice and make the mirror changes you desire can be found in my book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be – The Choice-Cube©Method: Step by Step to Choice and Change. Click here.  You can also check out this website to learn more about the method.

Help That Hurting Child!

Courtney, a lovely, blond thirty-something was frantic. Her ten-year-old son, Tim, was out of control and she simply did not know what to do about it. There were the daily calls from school about his grades and his acting out. He was disrespectful to her now in a way he had never been before. Courtney was scared. She didn’t know which way to turn. 

Tim was her only child. His dad had deserted her and his son when the boy was five. Courtney had to raise him by herself with a little help from her family who live in a neighboring state. Courtney thought she had done a good job. But now…well, she wasn’t so certain.  

A strange thing about Courtney, she believed in God for lots of things in her life. God always seemed to come through for her. But this time, for some reason, she was having difficulties believing God was in control of the situation and would help her.  

The “meaning she attached” to this situation with Tim, to herself, and to God was oh, so negative and hopeless. The “story” she was telling herself was dangerous and destructive.  

 THE “STORY” - THE “MEANING ATTACHED”     The meaning you attach to anything affects your:  

  • body (stress)
  • emotions
  • mind (thoughts-mental pictures)
  • will/desires.  

The first three are pretty straightforward. Will/desire is a little tricky.

Basically when you have difficulties with a person (including yourself), a thing, action, or problem you can will/desire only three things:

  • to avoid   
  • to control 
  • to resolve difficulties in a win-win" fashion (everyone, including you, feels they got a fair deal.  

It's only human to want to avoid or control things that are scary and hurtful. It only makes sense. But unless you deal with something honestly, it’s unlikely you will resolved it satisfactorily and permanently.

YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS:      Now,  here’s some good news. You have choice regarding the meaning you attach--the "story" you tell yourself.. You have choice because you can choose where you put your focus. Do you focus on your losses and difficulties? Or do you focus on your options, strengths, and possibilities?  

COURTNEY’S NEGATIVE FOCUS:      Courtney is focused on the negative side of reality Tim’s behavior, her fear, and her helplessness are overwhelming her. The answer to this negativity, however, is not to pump herself up and try to be positive. The answer to her situation is to see reality clearly—the big picture and to choose whether she wants to continue to focus on the negative side of reality or to shift her focus to the positive side of reality. If she continues to dwell on her fears and helplessness, there’s a good chance that her fears will come to pass. (If Courtney can’t make a choice, I’ll explain a way to get help.)  

It’s a universal law, like gravity, that whatever you focus on will get you more of the same 

Let’s imagine that Courtney just gives up and continues to focus on Tim and this difficult situation. She may ignore how stressed she feels and continue to stew around in fear, helplessness, hopelessness, and probably anger. She may try to  get out of he negative mood or state of mind by calling a friend and complaining, eating, shopping, or sleeping more. 

These behaviors may help her temporarily feel better, but none of these strategies gets to the root of the problem--the story she is telling himself. In fact, it’s likely they will make things worse. 

COURTNEY’S POSITIVE FOCUS:     In contrast, Courtney can admit that she and Tim are in a bad place. (What Courtney believes about this difficult situation is true.). She may realize that the negative side is only part of reality, only part of the big picture. The other side of reality is that she and Tim have strengths, options, and possibilities she can’t see now because she is so overwhelmed by the problem. 

If Courtney wakes up and questions her story, she can start to make changes in herself and how she interacts with Tim. She needs to stand back and objectively look at what going on inside of her--become a “conscious observer” of her reactions.  

She needs to stay aware of the inward reactions of her body, emotions, mind, and will so she can change them. This will give her immediate relief and she will stop doing the same old thing and do something different. Furthermore, as she repeatedly changes her inward reactions, the changes will last! Courtney will stop being her own worst enemy and begin to be her own best friend.  

Tim, like all children, he needs three critical things from his parent(s), Courtney. 

  1. 1. He needs to believe and feel (not simply be told, but feel) that she listens to him
  2. 2. He needs to believe and feel that Courtney understands him and loves him. 
  3. 3. He needs Courtney to help him make sense of everything that is happening.

WAKE UP TIME:     So, Courtney needs to wake up to the “story“ she is telling herself and make some changes. But how? The way is always the same.  

Though there are lots of ways to change, Courtney had learned about the Choice-Cube® Method from a friend and decided to use the method’s mental framework, simple tools, and 4 steps to help her manage her inward reactions. Remember, inward reactions are the reactions of your body (stress), negative emotions, the thoughts, pictures in your mind, and your desire/will.    

Courtney understood that the fastest and most lasting way to change starts with changing her inward reactions. This is because whether you want to change behaviors or your beliefs, in the end your four inward reactions will have to change. 

At first, Courtney may be uncomfortable, maybe even more sad, angry, and helpless. But she won’t be stuck! 

DANGER AND HOPE:     Let’s get clear. If Courtney continues to focus on Tim and her helplessness, fear, and anger, she will create situations that cause the very thing she fears to become more and more real. She will become increasingly stuck and unable to change. And the situation will continue to deteriorate.

In contrast, if she becomes a conscious observer and gets in touch with her stress, feelings, thoughts and desires, she can use the Choice-Cube tools to change them. She can get to the whole truth about the situation, including hers strengths, options and possibilities, and Tim’s also. Then she can focus on those, and create change in both of their lives. 

A CRITICAL LIFE CHOICE:     Courtney is at a critical choice point in her life and Tim’s life. Will she screw up his courage and do something to change herself so she can then address her son's issues? Will she go for short-term pain but long-term gain? 

IF ARE YOU READY TO CHANGE:     If you are at a choice-point like Courtney, are you ready to change and stop focusing on the problem? You can begin to turn your life around. First, admit that you have a problem. Second, look at the “meanings you attach” to the issue and third, repeatedly take the following 4 STEPS of the Choice-Cube Method. 

If you don’t know what you are telling yourself—your story or the meanings you are attaching—these four steps will help you find that out.

Step 1: RECOGNIZE - Focus on your body and use the Choice-Cube tools to manage your stress.  

Step 2: INTERRUPT/RELEASE - Label your emotions and use the Choice-Cube tools to let go of those emotions safely and appropriately. Your emotions lock in limited and distorted thinking. So, after you use the tools to release your emotions appropriately, you will see both the negative and positive sides of reality more clearly.

Step 3:  REFOCUS - Look at both sides of reality. Imagine holding the negative reality in your left hand and the positive reality in your right hand. Now, seesaw between the two until you can choose which side you want to focus on, negative or positive. Remember, this is an important choice, because, whatever you choose will get you more of the same! 

Step 4REPLACE/ACT - Once you have managed your body (stress), your negative emotions, thoughts and pictures, you can choose what you want to do. Do you want to do something fresh and different and resolve the situation “win-win,” Or do you want to repeat the same old inward reactions trying to control or avoid the person, thing, action, or problem inappropriately. Be as specific and detailed as possible and use the Choice-Cube tools to help you make the changes you desire.

To help you get a handle on your inward reactions: body, emotions, mind, and will, you can take the Choice-Cube Assessment Questionnaire on my website. Click here /. To learn the Choice-Cube Tools or gain a deeper understanding of the method, check out my book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method. Click here http://amzn.to/Xw2YMZ. 

You Can Retrain Your Brain To Use Your Innate Talents and Strengths...Start Today!


Current brain research shows that your brain is capable of rewiring itself based on your experiences. Understanding this concept of “neuroplasticity” can give you hope that it’s never too late to change what you are experiencing. It’s never too late to discover your true identity as a gifted and healthy-best-real-self. It’s never too late to find a meaningful purpose for your life. 


LIke all humans, you will be the healthiest, joyful, and most successful when you operate from your unique area of giftedness. Failure to know and use your gifts forces you to function in a brain quadrant that is not your gift and requires greater expenditure of energy. PET scans show that your brain may need to work 100 times harder when you are using skills outside of your natural talents and strengths.


This is stressful and can lead to fatigue, a lowered immune system, and trouble with your memory as a result of stress related cortisol release. Often there is a tendency to isolate and self-medicate. Ignoring your areas of talent and your strengths can undermine your confidence, self-esteem, and sense of self-worth. It can hide away the best of who you are—your healthy-best-real-self. 


Your healthy-best-real-self is the authentic, honest, compas­sionate, and curious part of you that sees reality clearly and is a problem-solver. When you express your healthy self, you set good boundaries with others but can also be intimate. You strive for excellence, not as a perfectionist, but from your personal best. Your life reflects balance and joyfulness. You want to make a positive difference in the world.


You may have these two treasures of giftedness and a healthy-best-real-self buried under stress, fear, fatigue, pain, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Difficult circumstances and the struggles of life may have led to unwise choices so that now you feel stuck, unable to break free. Life may feel like a prison that robs you of your freedom and keeps you from discovering who you really are. 

Problems may have become the focus of your life. Perhaps you find yourself on a deadly merry-go-round where just getting through the day and overcoming problems have become your “purpose.” The danger is that focusing on problems and difficulties leads to more issues and to self-defeat. Remember, whatever you focus on gets you more of the same. It’s time to change your focus and become your own best friend instead of your your own worst enemy. 


Consider finding a challenge and a meaningful purpose in life that flows from your innate talents and strengths and from the best of who you are—your healthy best real self. Yes, this may take effort, but think of this as short-term pain that leads to long-term gain. It’s never too late. 

Using the Choice-Cube Method for Choice and Change can help clear away blockages that hide your talents and strengths. You can discover your healthy, best-real-self.

Check out Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method: Step by Step to Choice and Change on Amazon http://amzn.to/n0ztzX, Barnes&Noble http://bit.ly/16F3Dhi,  and IndieBound http://bit.ly/ZoTPsk