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.
“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.
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.
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)
- mind (thoughts-mental pictures)
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. He needs to believe and feel (not simply be told, but feel) that she listens to him.
- 2. He needs to believe and feel that Courtney understands him and loves him.
- 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 4: REPLACE/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.