I just got done re-reading with my ears (in other words, re-listening to the audiobook 🙂 ) “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson. If you haven’t read this book yet and you are interested in learning to master the madness that sometimes can go on in your mind, I highly recommend it.
The one idea that particularly made an impact on me this time around was the suggestion that actions can be determined from CHOICE rather than HABITUAL REACTIONS.
Multiple times throughout the book, Rick mentions that really no behavior or emotional reaction is wrong, bad, or negative, but rather a big part of this game of life is to simply do our best to make sure we are RESPONDING to circumstances, events, thoughts, etc. from a place of CHOICE rather than reacting from a place of unconscious, conditioned, programmed, habitual behavior.
When I took a step back and reflected on this perspective regarding CHOOSING HOW to behave in a situation versus HABITUALLY REACTING based on beliefs, stories, and thoughts that live in the mind, I had a eureka moment. I was blown away by the freedom that can come from taking personal responsibility for my actions and responses in the moment rather than taking actions and reacting from some pre-conditioned belief, thought, or story in my mind.
Let me illustrate with an example. I am a recovering procrastinator. Wait, let me reframe that statement to be more accurate. I have habitual tendencies whereby I put off completing tasks because I believe they will be too hard or time consuming to do in the moment. When I am playing out this procrastination tendency, I notice that my mind is trying to convince me (and sometimes does an excellent job of this!) that at some future point in time I will magically have more time to do the task AND/OR sometime in the future the task will somehow be more agreeable for me to work on. Therefore, the result of the procrastination process is that the task is not getting done now and who knows if it will ever get done because the promised “future time” sometimes never comes.
When I observe this procrastination process from the RESPOND FROM CHOICE lens rather than the REACT BASED ON BELIEFS, STORIES, AND THOUGHTS, this is what I realized:
When a task comes up that I want to procrastinate, I can first look to see what my choices really are at this point in time rather than react to the sensations that are coming up in my body (such as the tightness in my stomach) or the thoughts going through my head (such as, “This sucks and is boring! I hate this! I don’t want to do this now!)
I can acknowledge that those sensations and thoughts are on the scene, however, when I am coming from the perspective of CHOICE, I realize I do not have to react based upon those sensations and thoughts.
When I notice my choices, I see the following, I can:
- Put off doing the task to later.
- Do the task now.
- Delegate the task to someone else.
- Eliminate the task and decide to not do it ever.
Do drama, just a list of choices.
When I look to the sensations in my body and the thoughts, stories, and beliefs cruising through my body and mind, I notice I get stuck. I get caught in a struggle between forcing myself to do something I don’t want to do or putting myself down and feeling bad because I am not doing the task now but I believe that I should. Either way, this pathway leads to drama, feeling bad, and suffering — all “rewards” that are not worth it to me.
How about you? Are you sick of feeling bad because you did or did not do something that your habitual mind is trying to convince you that you have no choice and you must or must not do what it’s telling you?
If yes, then start to practice the game of listing out what your choices are before you take an action. Try to come up with at minimum three choices so that you do not fall into the trap of either/or thinking (meaning, your only choices are “either” this “or” that, both of which equally suck). Stretch your imagination to create a third, fourth, or fifth alternative that you can choose from rather than believing or thinking you “have to” because of whatever notions are floating through your mind.
Your True You is more powerful than you think (or habitually believe).
Cheers to choosing and have fun!