If you’re anything like me, you grew up with the expression, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Then, a few decades later “The Secret” turns us on our heads with the idea that “what we believe we conceive.” All of a sudden those very intentions ARE the core ingredient to success. What’s more, if we have good ones, we may not end up in hell after all! So, what gives?
This was one of the conflicts I wrestled with before I could accept the “law of attraction” in my life. I grew up learning to take responsibility for my actions. The point my parents tried to get across wasn’t – you are what you think, it was about what you did.
As I thought about it, I realized that when you decide what you want in your life and get clear on your goals, it is easier to get rid of what doesn’t work. Just by focusing on what you want relentlessly, you reject by default those things that don’t support your vision. As you think about what you do want and really concentrate on it, you naturally take actions to achieve your desires. The better you get at linking thoughts and actions, the more efficient the process becomes. Your life becomes a snowball of your thoughts leading to actions which create results.
So, if your intentions are negative, even if they are rooted in a less conscious belief system, your actions will create the results that match your thoughts. Ultimately, our brain wants things to make sense. It is how we move through the world without constantly feeling shocked and panic by every new thing we encounter. We try to organize the data we receive and normalize it. So, if it makes sense for you to have a negative outcome, you will think and do what makes that possible. Same story if you believe that the outcome should be positive. You will do what it takes to achieve that result.
When I came to realize this connection, I saw that thought is very important, but alone (intention) is not enough. You need to take action when opportunity arisesin order to get a result. So it seems that the best thing we can do is some prep work to get our thoughts straight and our belief system aligned to the results we want. Otherwise, we’re just spending a lot of time and money fooling ourselves that anything will change.
In summary, I am grateful for 4 things related to intentions:
a) the road to hell is NOT in fact paved with good intentions, it is paved with inaction b) we can change our lives whenever we make the decision to do so c) what we believe determines our range of actions d) intention + action changes your life
Today was another day of waking up to a roll call of my failures and shortcomings. All before I even opened my eyes.
Sometimes, I stay paralyzed in this state for a good 15 min. while I get the shit beaten out of me.
At some point, another dude shows up and says, “C’mon now, it’s not that bad. I love you & we’re gonna be ok.” I have to hear this repeated over and over in order to release the physical paralysis and get up.
Tired Before I Get the Day Started
Needless to say, this is an extremely exhausting way to begin my day. Often it will take me until afternoon to start feeling ok. It makes it hard for me to focus on the things I set out to accomplish. Often, I’m too exhausted to do much else after just managing these assaults all day long. This, of course, folds back on itself creating “proof” that the asshole in my head just might be right after all.
Of Two Minds
Research shows that the conscious mind averages about 40 bits of information/second – approximately 1-3 events at a time. The subconscious mind however takes on an average of 4 BILLION bits of information/second – so literally THOUSANDS of events at a time!!!
If these two were in a fight to get the message across the fastest, who would you put your money on to win?? If you said the subconscious, congratulations…you’re a little richer.
If you are one of the many people out there, like myself, who have jumped on the “law of attraction / affirmation” bandwagon in order to feel better about your life, you may have also noticed that it’s not quite cutting the mustard. Why not? Well, I’m glad you asked 🙂
First, we read all these books or watch the videos and we “think” Aha! I’ve got the secret. Soon, after much practice…we say something like…wait a minute, it’s not working.
That’s where the gurus typically tell us that we are not trying hard enough and we are affirming our negativity.
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing more I hate than someone telling me I’m failing because I’m not “trying hard enough”, especially when I”m giving everything I’ve got.
I believe that’s both unfair and unhelpful. It gives you absolutely no insight whatsoever. To make some headway (pun intended hehehe), first you have to understand a little bit about the purpose of the conscious and the subconscious parts of the mind.
Conscious vs. Subconscious
Conscious – uses logic & reason, anything you CHOOSE to do, past & present, filter for your belief system (the judge/bouncer)
Subconscious – uses emotions, involuntary actions, always in the present, core of your belief system and memories
Let’s use an example. Based on my experience of being bitten by a big dog I trusted, my subconscious has stored a memory of the event and a belief that ALL big dogs are dangerous and I should stay away. When I see a big dog my conscious mind is alerted by the subconscious that there is danger and it logically chooses to avoid contact to keep me safe from perceived danger based on my belief system.
Now, let’s imagine you try to create a conscious affirmation that “ALL big dogs are safe”because you’re tired of being scared. Hmmm…it isn’t working. Well that’s because your conscious mind says these words and then dutifully checks in with the subconscious belief system and learns that the subconscious says…hell no. So basically, you can say all you want, but if the subconscious says bullshit, all bets are off. You are still afraid of big dogs.
The Powerless Feeling of Positive Thinking
In my own life, without realizing it, I’ve habitually and chronically adopted some beliefs deep down that prevent me from achieving what I say I want out of life. This is really demoralizing and depressing.
You start to get pissed at yourself because, you’ve tried to convince yourself to believe differently through affirmations and you’ve failed. You start to think well maybe I really am useless, messed up, broken, etc. So now you’re basically afraid AND feel like a failure. Cool. So much better. Thanks.
If this sounds familiar, first of all take a deep breath. You’re not the only one who has tried the power of positive thinking and felt at your wits end.
It is enormously helpful to understand that, you simply cannot consciously do what you subconsciously don’t believe without creating a moral dilemma.
That is the whole basis of the conflict, misery, and discontent you feel inside.
When these “two minds” are aligned we can be successful, when they are not we are in conflict with ourselves and others. PERIOD.
If you wonder why you say you want to do one thing, but seem to quit before you start, or half-way through, or lose it after you get it, this is why. It is almost impossible for us to achieve a goal if we hold subconscious beliefs that are in conflict with that goal. Your subconscious mind will find a way to sabotage you at some point in the process.
Any time the conscious is distracted or offline the subconscious takes over the reigns of control. So, that’s why I wake up to the jackhammering sound of my subconscious every morning for a while until my super slow conscious comes back online to get me up and going like a good project manager.
Your Head is Like an 8-Track Player with One Tape to Play
Most of us have heard about the “tapes” that play in our heads. This is another way to approach talking about the subconscious mind. Sometimes, it is really hard to tweeze out the messages that are constantly replaying in our minds because they play so quickly. If your’e lucky you have great positive messages playing, but for many of us, that’s not the case. Today, I wrote mine down immediately after my conscious mind got me up.
I’m going to share them with you because, I have a feeling you might think you’re the only one this is happening to and you’re cracking up. You’re not alone. I can’t promise that you’re not cracking up ;p
Here are the ramblings of my subconscious (my tapes) that I hear every morning and whenever I feel insecure and my conscious can’t keep it under control.
Why don’t you just kill yourself? You always take on more than you can handle. You know you are going to fail, so why do you even try? Sooner or later you’re going to be homeless and living on the street. Nobody loves you. Nobody cares about you. You are insignificant. Fucking loser. You can barely keep it together. Why do you even bother getting up day after day? You are not good enough. You are not smart enough. You’re a fraud. You suck with people. Nobody would ever want to be your friend. Everyone see that you are a problem. If they don’t see it yet, give it time.
Whew!! I read these aloud and began sobbing uncontrollably half-way through. Day after day of waking up to this barrage of abuse. Knowing it is lying just beneath the surface of my consciousness threatening to undo me with the right trigger, makes it damn hard to get much out of life.
What do your tapes play? See if you can write it down and then read it back to yourself. How did you feel?
Prolonged Exposure Therapy?
I recalled reading about a “prolonged exposure therapy” developed by U. Penn psychologist Edna Foa to help veterans with PTSD. It has been enormously successful, but it works contrary to the way most of us deal with trauma (by avoiding talking about it or discouraging survivors to dwell). Basically, this therapy encourages you to talk about it /tell your story over and over until it minimizes or eliminates the PTSD entirely. If we don’t talk about things, they don’t magically disappear. They fester.
Prolonged exposure therapy is now also being successfully used to help survivors of rape and sexual assault to deal with their PTSD. It has been shown to be more effective than conventional therapy. After exposure therapy, 83% of these girls no longer had the diagnosis of PTSD vs. 54% who received conventional supportive counselling. Even their depression and daily functioning improved significantly with exposure therapy.
It got me thinking about how the tapes we play in our heads operate in our lives in a very similar way as PTSD in that they both can take over your life and belief system to negative affect. Ultimately, in both situations a trauma has occurred that has affected your belief system AND is making life unmanageable.
Could a version of this “prolonged exposure therapy” help us to manage our crippling fears and beliefs that negatively impact our lives so that we may move past the trauma and towards creating the life we really want to live?
Experimenting with Conscious Exposure to Subconscious Tapes
Step 1: I decided to begin by recording myself saying all the messages I hear on my tapes in the same mean way I hear them everyday.
Step 2: Then, I played the recording over and over and over while I visualized someone outside of me saying these things to me/about me.
Step 3: Each time I listened, I rated my emotional reaction on a scale of 1 (least affected) – 10 (most distressed).
Step 4: When I need a break, I either go to a safe place in my mind or I get up and go to another room to create a sort of “environmental reset”.
My theory is that I “know” somewhere deep inside that the things on these tapes are bullshit….somewhere beneath the trauma and the entrenched belief system.
I hope that by courageously facing the fear of hearing those words and feeling the feelings that go with them head on, I can get to the point that I recognize it as false, reject it as untrue, and desensitize myself to the emotional terrorism I feel day after day so I can have my whole life back again with a much better belief system.
As I go into the new year I’ve committed myself to an attitude of gratitude. However, that also means that there is a transitional phase from negative attitudes and mindsets that have to be managed. It’s a little like a corporate takeover. A lot of sorting out to do before it all settles down again. Oh how nice it would be to have my very own “Easy Button”!!
Today I noticed that I was feeling really tight in my chest and down in mood. I tried telling myself to stop it, but that didn’t work. Then, I tried closing my eyes and breathing, that didn’t work either. What gives??
As I searched for answers, I remembered what I wrote yesterday about using “LAG” as my new conflict management style and I thought, maybe this will work for conflict within me as well.
LAG is an acronym for a conflict management style I created to help me create the life I want to be living. It stands for these three steps in the process: “Lean-in”, “Accept”, “Go on”. I’ve started applying it to situations where I am in conflict with others and today I learned it could also be applied to internal conflict.
LAG: Step 1: When I “Leaned-in” to the feeling, my mind fought very hard to run away. It did not want to focus on the ill-feeling at all. I kept saying to myself, “Stay with it”. “You are safe”. I kept breathing in and out to stay calm. When I breathed in I said, “breathe in”. When I exhaled, I said, “breathe out”. That kept me better focused.
When I felt less flooded, I asked myself, “What are you feeling?” “How would you describe it in one word?” The answer came – “I feel rejected”.
I thought, ok. Now we’re on to something. The feeling has been identified. I had no idea until this moment how often I actually never knew what I was specifically feeling. It was just “bad” and I wanted to avoid it and get as quickly as possible to good. That’s all I knew.
It makes sense now why my internal conflict never got resolved as it arose. Negative feelings just kept building up until I began to feel helpless and hopeless in my life. I felt like a prisoner who was put on this earth to do her time. As if I were chosen to be unhappy, while others were chosen to have a fulfilling life. I have felt powerless in my own life for a really long time.
LAG: Step 2: “Acceptance” – I said to myself, “thank you for sharing that. I accept that you feel rejected. That must be very painful. How can I help?” Much nicer 🙂
I waited a bit for an answer and then seemingly out of nowhere, an image of myself on a beach wearing a zippered wet suit popped into my head. The suit felt tight and constricting. My skin felt clammy. I could smell the salty air, hear the waves lapping onto the shoreline and felt the warmth of the sun on my face. I just stood there and took it all in for awhile.
A few moments later, a guiding voice spoke to me over my shoulder.
“What if I told you your pain of rejection could be removed at any time you chose?”I said, “Shoot. I’m all ears”. He said, “Unzip your wet suit and let it fall to the ground. Walk forward and feel the warm grains of sand between your toes. Look behind you and see your pain balled up and lying on the ground. You can pick it up anytime you want and suit back up or you can leave it there and go for a swim in the ocean and clean off all the residue that it left behind”.
LAG: Step 3: “Go On” – I decided to walk into the ocean and swim. It felt good to get the suit off. I kept swimming until all the residue was gone and I felt refreshed. I found myself smiling and laughing again. I felt lighter.
After taking myself through the process, I now understand why my initial attempts to deal with the feeling that arose didn’t calm me down. By flat out telling the feeling to STOP, I was completely ignoring and avoiding it. Then, with zero tolerance or acceptance, I wanted to flush it out with my breath without taking a moment to understand its purpose for being there. Very rude of me actually!
I looked back at the wet suit on the shore and thought about how I don’t have to wear outfits just because someone else thinks they suit me well and I can take them off at any time.
In more practical terms. Let’s say you are in fact being rejected by someone or a group of people. Do you have to feel ashamed of yourself and wear your feeling of rejection like a full body wet suit sponsored by, “THEY REJECT ME”? No, not really.
And here’s the kicker. You can still acknowledge to yourself that they reject you because they very likely may not like you or want you around. It happens.
You don’t have to treat yourself like a reject.
That’s where most of us end up in major pain. When we agree with another persons opinion of us, we are subconsciously feeling that other people know us better than we know ourselves. We give them permission to change us to become what they say we are, what they limit us to. This is the express lane to pain, depression & loss of self.
Instead, you can just accept that they do reject you and that it sucks.
Remind yourself that other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.YOU are not a failure because of this.
You are still that same awesome, talented, special person with so much to offer this world no matter what other people say.
People who try to make you feel bad about yourself are really unhappy people. Believe it or not, it is NOT personal at all. They are just showing you how bad they feel inside. Something in you reminds them of a quality they wish they had inside but they don’t know how to achieve it.
Pray for them. Acknowledge that they are in pain. But under no circumstances do you let what’s going on in them define who you are. It’s separate.
Instead of carrying their load as if it were your own, bless and release them.
You just may not currently be with a person or a group that honors your gifts in the best way. It’s just not a good fit. Focus your energy and talents on honoring yourself and surrounding yourself by people who do honor you.
You’re already good enough as yourself.
Happy New Year and lots of love from aneternaltraveler 😉
You know how Facebook now shows you your “Year in Review”? It got me thinking about how easy it is to forget all of the little and big things you really accomplish in a year. When you’re stuck in the day to day, sometimes you can get into a pattern of beating yourself up and forget that you are in fact moving forward and growing after all.
So, I sat down and wrote out my TOP 15 LIST of things I’m proud of. It turned out 10 wasn’t enough. Who knew?
TOP 15 LIST of ACCOMPLISHMENTS 2013
Quit Smoking after 15 years (9 months and counting!)
Got a new job
Bought a brand new car
Became a Certified Personal Trainer
Hit a milestone for bench squat weight
Redid my kitchen and basement DIY style 🙂
Had a blast with my college roomate who i hadn’t seen in 10 years
Spent part of the summer with my sister and niece
Visited Portland with the help of a new friend
Fell in and out of love more times than i can count
Made 2 true friends
Reconnected with my family
Saw Maroon 5 thanks to my mom’s ability to win tickets for anything from the radio 🙂
Started a blog that I care about and managed to have people follow it (thank you!!)
Have begun to love who I am warts and all and accept other people as they are too
When I looked at the list I thought, wow I really don’t give myself enough credit or see the whole picture. I’m way too often bogged down by negative feelings like there’s some dark cloud over my head.
I wondered how much more I could appreciate my days if I had an attitude of gratitude. How much further could I get with that kind of mindset?
So, on the heels of my TOP 15 LIST (see below), I’m going to go into this New Year with another kind of list and a whole other focus. I don’t want to let another year go by without noticing and appreciating the positive impact I’m making in my life and the lives of others. I don’t want to wait until the end of it to enjoy it.
I’m letting go of my negative attitude and going to do everything I can to pay attention and acknowledge the positives.
TOP 15 GOALS FOR 2014
Write down my gratitude list daily
Repeat my positive affirmations consistently
Develop my personal training business into a big success
Improve all my relationships
Smile no matter what
Acknowledge my unique talents & love myself better
Open up & risk trusting myself and others again
Follow my passions relentlessly, no matter how many times I may fail, get back up
Take a trip overseas
Assist those in need
Love like my life depends on it 🙂
So there you have it and now you can hold me to it! It’s pretty big for me to make these kinds of changes and I’m not going to lie it scares me, but I guess it’s a sign that I’m on the right track.
As you go into this New Year, what do you want to say goodbye to and what do you want to open the door to?
When I used to think about what it took to transform your life, I thought it meant that you had to focus on adding more good stuff to your life. I think subconsciously I already felt like I had enough occupying the spaces in my brain, so over time I gave up. It became too much to keep reorganizing and making everything fit.
Recently, I decided to just be willing to open my mind to seeing what brings me joy. And you know what I discovered?
Successfully transforming your life is way more about what you let go of, not what you hold on to.
When we start to focus on what makes us happy and say YES! to it, it seems like more of it shows up and it gets easier to recognize. Also, I’ve noticed that I’m suddenly getting into conversations with people who I didn’t even know shared my interests. It’s like you start to send out “Bat Signals” subconsciously and people who pick up on it start coming into your life. Additionally, those who are on a different wavelength keep moving past you like you have a Teflon coating 🙂 Pretty cool, huh?
This “phenomenon” has been happening to me more frequently and it’s really caught my attention. It finally clicked that when we make a conscious decision to focus on what brings us joy, the “stuff” that doesn’t really do it for us falls away and very naturally makes room for the things that do. I imagine if you do this long enough, you have a pretty happy, clutter-free mind and feel quite content with your life.
It reminds me of all the clutter-clearing I’ve been doing in my house over the past year or so. I made up my mind that I am only going to allow things in my house that I really want. Before you knew it I had sold a bunch of items on craigslist and gave away 50-60 boxes of dead weight. I feel lighter. It’s easier to find things. I know what I have. And most of all, I really enjoy the space.
If I were to compare the way I initially thought about life transformation to owning stuff in my house, that would mean that I basically thought I’d have to add more to my house to be happier. I’d have to make room for more!! Crazy talk!! I would never think that makes sense, but here I was applying that same philosophy to my own well-being.
“It seems so obvious now that the key to happiness lies in recognizing what lights our fire AND knowing what we can let go of.”
Tell me about how your life was changed by learning the art of “letting go” and focusing on what revs you up.
Awhile back when it was still warm enough to wash my car, I tried to connect my hose to the faucet at the front of my house. I’d been using the back faucet and dragging the hose around to the front which was a pain.
The problem was that the inside shut off valve was broken off so I had to use a pliers to turn it on. Every time I did that it leaked down my wall.
So this was a no go. I am a very handy person, but I have copper pipes and I know nothing about soldering.
My neighbor saw me running in and out of the house like a lunatic trying to see what I could do to fix it.
He said, “there’s no way around it, you have to get a new valve. So I left it alone thinking aw heck, winter is almost coming and I’ll make due until next year.
Today, I hear a knock at my door as I’m racking my brain thinking of what to write for my latest blog post. Who’s standing there but my neighbor with a shutoff valve in hand. He said, “Guess what I found?” I said, “Looks like a shut off valve to me ;).”
“Yes, but you don’t have to solder with this one. It’s new technology. You just have to cut the pipe into a smooth surface, slide each side securely into the hole, and you’re done!” “I saw it and I thought of you so here you go!”
Then, he said “Oh and by the way, my friend stopped by last week and said he saw you raking your leaves out front. By the time I came out, you were finished. I have a blower you can use the next time you want to clean up your yard. Just let me know.”
I woke up today and practiced my intentions and affirmations just as I explained in yesterday’s post “Just Be Willing”.
I couldn’t help but think about the affirmation where I say that,
I trust that the universe is providing for me everything that I need and I am safe and well taken care of.
I just want to say Thank You 🙂
I follow another wonderful blog on here that I highly recommend. It’s called Chrissie’s Take. Just today, she posted that perhaps because of her new found positive outlook her family is gathered around her once again. Read Chrissie’s post here: Grinch No More – a part of her “No Negativity Challenge”.
The proof just keeps showing up for me and for others. Change your thoughts, change your life.