Changing Your MIND – Part 1 & 2
Questions and Action Steps
Welcome to Module 3….Changing Your M.I.N.D.
In Module 1 we decorated the walls of our Changing Room with pictures to remind us what we need to learn from the past and what we need to let go of. We learned how to rid our mind of the negative brain chatter and from whom we need to ask assistance. In Module 2 we tried on Courage, Honesty, Acceptance, Never giving up and Guts, the things we need for our change journey and then we admired our Excellence in the mirror that reminds us why we’re even on this journey. Now in this Module 3 we will keep going deeper and learn how to change our M.I.N.D.
This shouldn’t be hard for a lot of us….we change our minds as often as we change our clothes. HaHa But, seriously…..we will again use the acronym M.I.N.D. and look at how to change your Mind by using:
M. Mental Awareness
N. Negative brain rut reversal
M – Mental Awareness.
You can choose how and when to change your mind. You’re in control! There are many daily activities we do on an unconscious habitual basis. In a way, that’s fortunate because if we had to consciously decide every morning whether, to stir our coffee clockwise or counter clockwise it would drive us crazy.
There are many things we do without thinking. We brush our teeth and tie our shoes a certain way. We kiss our spouse or hug our kids at certain times of the day. It almost becomes routine. There are thousands of daily choices and things like this we do that are just habitual. I’ve read that there’s statistical proof that the conscious mind only occupies 5% of our total thoughts and our subconscious takes over the other 95% of the time. But no matter how automatic our actions, we CAN make conscious decisions to change them by changing the way we think about them.
When there’s something you habitually do that starts to cause you pain, you begin thinking about changing it. You say to yourself, “what was I thinking.” Its human nature at first to start berating yourself about how stupid you are to continue letting that thing control you and cause you discomfort or pain.
I know exactly how this happens. I’ve always been fidgety with a lot of nervous energy. This has caused me to twirl and twist my hair. Since a very young teenager when I get anxious or nervous I can’t keep my hands out of my hair. Even now, when I’m watching an action packed movie I catch myself pulling and twisting my hair! Now, I don’t have a lot of hair to pull out. I’ve tried and tried to stop pulling my hair. When I find myself doing it, my first reaction is to get mad and say, “Why are you doing this stupid thing again!” Usually it just takes me becoming aware that I’m doing it and then to consciously sit on my hands or fold them in my lap.
It comes with that first thought of being AWARE of what I’m doing. Then I can consciously decide what I want to do instead. In the case of my hair pulling, I know that if I keep doing it my hair will become uneven and I’ll look lopsided or worse, become bald. That matters to me. That causes me discomfort and pain. As much time and money as I spend on my hair to cover the gray and keep it styled I don’t want some nervous unconscious habit destroying all my good efforts to look presentable.
We must first become AWARE of what we’re doing. We must be aware of the circumstance, who we’re with, where we are. This first step in changing our mind is to start analyzing the unconscious habitual activity you want to change.
Sometimes it’s the people we spend time with that cause us to continually make decisions that aren’t in our best interest. It could be who we eat lunch with every day. The person who keeps the negative gossip spinning about the work place. It could be the location of the after work get togethers that bring out the temptations that cause us harm. As you decide to change, stay AWARE of the who, what, when and where.
When I was fighting a smoking addiction several years ago I reminded myself of the when, where and who’s to avoid.
When—I had to be aware of the day of the week or the time of day when I was the most vulnerable to give into the urge to smoke. Was I more vulnerable on Monday morning as I frantically got ready for work anticipating a busy week? Or was it Friday afternoon when the week was winding down and getting ready for a relaxing weekend. What time of day are you the weakest when you’re trying to break a habit? Is the temptation greater when you’re thirsty or hungry or tired? Sometimes being aware of your physical condition can help you avert the temptation with something as simple as a glass of water or a bite to eat. Not getting overly tired is always a good precaution. (But, we’ll get more into that area in the next Module about changing your body.)
Where—I had to be aware of where I was. Realize if I was more vulnerable at home or work, at a friend’s home, in a sports bar, or in an airport.
Who—I had to be aware of who I was with: friends, strangers, or alone.
As I became aware of the times and places and people I was able to recognize and avoid, (just for a while) the triggers that made me more vulnerable.
When my husband and I built our new home over fifteen years ago, we decided not to smoke inside. There was a beautiful screened porch off the living room and we had gorgeous plants and a relaxing sitting arrangement that became our smoking area where we would spend quality time. At first it was very difficult to avoid going out on the porch in the early morning with a cup of coffee and just relaxing and beginning our day together smoking cigarettes. It was also difficult in the afternoons (especially during daylight savings time) not to go out on the porch and listen to the birds sing and watch the sun set. I realized these were the times during the first couple of months when I would need to take a walk or have a book handy: anything to divert my attention or change my mind when he went onto the porch. I had to be especially careful not to be resentful toward him. He was making his choice, and I was making mine. Now I can join him and continue to enjoy our quality time and the outdoors, but without that cigarette.
You will know what times and people or events you’ll need to avoid or steer clear of for a while. It only takes a little while and it gets easier and easier as you become stronger in your conviction to change. One affirmation I like to remember is: The pain of discipline is temporary but the pain of compromise is permanent! Living in bondage is hard and I was determined not to let something as small as a cigarette control my life.
You may not have a smoking addiction but we’re all addicted to something we want to change. At first it may be hard. At first people may talk bad about you or criticize you for wanting to better yourself. But remember you are making a conscious decision to make a change that will ultimately better your life. Keep reminding yourself you want to become free of that addiction or that harmful, negative environment. You want a better life for your family and for your future. They are more important than what someone else might say or think about you. They have their own selfish reasons for wanting to keep you involved in small petty behavior or circumstances. Be a better person and rise up and claim your new life. Become a person who reaches an exalted state of awareness and live a life impacting the people and world around you. Stay mentally aware!
I – Information/Knowledge
We are living in the information age. All around we have access to boundless information via our phones, laptops, televisions. We can google and find out about anything these days. We can become experts and fill our minds with as much information and knowledge about a subject as we have time to read and study.
The biggest contributor to our information age is the internet. The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 and has quickly become the main provider and our main source for information. I’ve read that the Internet could not be destroyed by one main catastrophe or event. The information could be easily rerouted and made available.
So it should be with our minds and thinking. The thought process is very powerful and every action starts with a thought. When we experience one bad thought or feeling or catastrophe we can just reroute the following thoughts and turn them into something that could benefit or be more positive for our situation. Our thoughts also control our emotions. When we have thoughts that are not in harmony with our true selves we have the ability to send that thought away and then re-route the following thoughts to be aligned with our true beliefs.
Our minds can be compared to a computer. We were hardwired with either encouraging, nurturing beliefs and thought patterns or we were wired with negative, condemning thoughts and situations. But every computer has an operating system just as each of us has the ability to take all the information and knowledge we have downloaded over the years and process that information into something that can benefit us or we can choose to let that information continue to harm and defeat us.
It was Jim Carey, the famous actor/comedian who struggled as a child in a very poor musician’s family. They lived in a van and he quit school at 15 to begin working to help support the family as a janitor. He was so bitter he carried a baseball bat on his janitor cart because he was so angry and wanted to just beat something up. As we know, he didn’t let this negative childhood experience hold him back. He struggled, but has since gone onto entertain millions with his comedies.
If there was a bad experience in our past we can let ourselves think about it and let that thought enter our subconscious mind so that every time that experience presents itself we’ll react in the same way every time. But, there is a way to keep that from happening. There is a type of programming that has been referred to as mass mind or collective unconscious. It’s how we absorb without fully knowing or realizing it.
It’s been proven that one of the best ways to reprogram our thoughts and minds is through repetition and reinforcement. It’s with these positive affirmations during times in our day when we’re reminded and can focus on our new lives and things we want in them. I also call them whisper prayers. An affirmation is a statement that evokes not only a picture, but the experience of already having what you want.
One of the affirmations that helped me overcome a smoking addiction was, “The fresh air I am breathing into my lungs is healing my body, mind and soul.” A whisper prayer that also helped was repeating Philippines 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
If you are experiencing any type of pain or discomfort because of a habit just believe that you can change once you have boldly made that decision. No one else can make that decision for you. If you are tired of living in your pain and want the peace, joy and pleasure of a good life, you need to alter the I. information that is coming into your mind and let your thoughts lead you to change your life.
N – Negative Ruts
I believe that one of the major reasons we have been unable to make positive changes in the past is because of the negative ruts we’ve allowed to become imbedded in our brains. Just like the Grand Canyon has been carved and worn over the years with steady streams and the pounding of the Colorado River, we’ve allowed the steady, pounding of negative thoughts and influences carve into our brains and wear down our minds until there seems nowhere else to flow. We don’t think we can change therefore we let this comse comsa attitude ruin our future.
I also believe that the negative ruts get deeper as we allow ourselves to justify or come up with excuses for our current actions or behavior. As we discuss below some of our favorite excuses, keep in mind that you can only rise higher by taking responsibility for your choices and who you presently are as a person. There’s no judgment in that statement. I just want you to become intentional and recognize and admit your present set of circumstances and why sometimes you stay stuck in these negative ruts.
Reason 1. I don’t have any will power, I’m not strong enough and it will take too much effort.
These 3 excuses are very similar. Answer for yourself, how much strength is it taking to endure your current set of circumstances? Are you gritting your teeth every time you try on those jeans you so want to fit back into? How much effort is it taking to put up with that difficult spouse or child rather than addressing the communication break down? I would beg to differ that it takes MORE strength and effort to handle the situations we want to change than the will power and effort it will take to change them.
Maybe all it would take is changing the way we look at this. It’s been said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.” Try envisioning the changed you as being easier to accept and take care of, rather than the change itself will be hard to accomplish. Just slightly shift the way you are perceiving or thinking about the situation. Think of yourself and actually see yourself strong and confident.
Now, just continue to hold that vision no matter what comes up or gets in the way. As we discussed earlier, if the negative thoughts or visions try to bombard their way into your new self-vision, just toss them out and even more fervently visualize your life being loved, respected, happy and prosperous. This is the new you! Claim it and own it! If you’re determined that there is nothing you wouldn’t do to claim this new you then the rest will be easy as you reinforce this mindset. Be bold and hold that vision!
Reason 2. I can’t change….I was born this way.
Over the years I’ve heard this excuse in many different ways. I’ve heard it said that all red headed women are high strung and temperamental. I’ve heard Italian men all have hot tempers. I’ve heard kids say, I was born fat but it’s OK, my Dad’s this way too. What a shame! We don’t have to accept a negative trait just because of some old wives tale or ancient belief. We’re free to choose what and how we want to be. It doesn’t matter your hair color, your national origin or the shape or size of your Mother or Father.
Sure, we gain most of our physical make-up from our parents but there’s scientific evidence that proves only one-tenth of our personalities are formed by our DNA. The only nine-tenths is our own choosing. Don’t fall into the trap of letting this false belief shape your destiny.
Likewise, if you had alcoholic or abusive parents or came from an adopted family or a lower income family….these past situations don’t have to define who you are today. Sure, they had an impact, but you are free to choose what you learned or what you take away for those past situations. Choose freedom for yourself and your family and your future! Don’t allow yourself the easy way out and stay stuck in that past. That’s a cop-out on addressing how you can change. You have the power to elevate and require more for yourself.
Reason 3. Fear of failure. Afraid the change won’t last and I’ll relapse and it will all be for nothing.
Fear keeps us from taking action. If you’re accustomed to a certain way of doing things and you are averse to trying different things then you’re just playing it safe. You’re living in a cocoon of misery afraid to try something that could better your existence. No one’s ever 100% sure that what they try will work out. Always remember, the pain of discipline is temporary, but the pain of compromise is permanent. Aren’t you glad that others have tried new things and attempted change? Where would this world be without the Edison’s and Ford’s and all the innovative thinkers and inventors?
George Bernard Shaw said, “The one universal passion is fear.” What a waste, to have so much energy focused on fear. There are two kinds of fear, normal and abnormal. Normal fear is necessary for our own protections, that we use to exercise sensible caution. But abnormal fear is paralyzing. We are afraid of sickness, unemployment, rejection, loneliness, old age, and death. We can replace fear with faith and love and believe with confidence that we can make the changes that will replace the fear with joy and love.
But to have this kind of faith we must take action. We must acknowledge our human weaknesses and admit we need help from others and from God. The way I calm my fears is through affirmations and filling my life and thoughts with greater emotions like faith, hope and love. This has worked for me! Try memorizing these affirmations. Repeat them first thing in the morning and then several times throughout your day. It will soon become second nature, and you will find yourself repeating these affirmations when you’re stuck in traffic or in line at the grocery store.
“I will no longer accept feeling fearful. I am filled with faith, hope and peace.”
“My strength comes from God who made heaven and earth. I will not fear.”
“I will not be shaken, I will not fear.” “I am filled with love for all mankind.”
Reason 4. Easier to stay status quo. Don’t have the energy to give up a known routine.
Not having enough physical or mental energy is an excuse that keeps us from doing many things. But, usually it’s the very thing we need to change that will give us more energy and mental clarity. As hard as it is to start an exercise routine, once we’ve been exercising a few days the physical stamina and energy is multiplied many times over. Not eating that second helping of food keeps the body from slowing down while trying to metabolize the excess.
Accepting the status quo out of fear or lack of energy only triggers our resentment toward ourselves to stay stuck in the ruts. Take that first difficult step and then the steps do get easier and easier. You will become filled with so much confidence and fulfillment that you actually made the decision and made the first attempt to start your new behavior this will buoy you forward and make the next steps even more beneficial to your new found self-confidence.
Reason 5. My family won’t understand and/or support me.
Don’t let this be the excuse that keeps you from following your path. As much as we love family and cherish their support and approval you cannot live your life pressed down and stifled because of someone else’s ideas or dreams. If they truly love you and you can express your desires in an open and honest way to them, they should understand and continue to love you.
They may not be happy with your decision and you need to become OK with that outcome, should it happen. But, if you truly feel a calling to live your life a certain way you need to follow your dreams. You can’t live their lives or submit to their ideas for your future. If you communicate this to them in a loving and peaceful manner and remove any fear or doubt or negative emotion it is likely the drama, if there is any, will fade and diminish. If there is drama and you then go on with your head held high and your goals securely in mind then eventually their disapproval will turn into respect and gratitude for you.
This excuse kept me many times from pursuing different dreams. It took me years to realize that I had given certain members of my family that control over my life. I was too concerned about and desperately wanted their approval. I felt like I had to conform to their way of thinking in order to be loved. It’s a terribly stifling, un-empowering way to live and not one I would choose again. I’ve come to realize and accept that they only wanted what was best for me but I had allowed them to alter my path and choose a destiny that wasn’t aligned with my true self. Now that they understand and have accepted my choices for my life, we’ve re-established a loving fulfilling relationship. It wasn’t easy, but it’s been worth it.
Reason 6. It will/might take too long. I want it now. I deserve it.
All we have is right now. This present moment is all we’re sure of. If you don’t start now, when will it matter? I’m reminded of the conversation between a woman in her 40’s asking the professor if she was too old to start college. He replied, how old will you be in 4 years if you don’t. Just stay focused on this present moment and this very day. It may not take as long as you’ve dreaded or allowed your mind to believe. In 4 years we’re going to be 4 years older whether we’ve made the positive decision or not.
We must learn how to be present in the now and not waste time lamenting over the past or worrying about the future. Think about all the time you would have in the now if your mind didn’t contain any thoughts about the past or the future. You would have boundless time and energy to pursue your dreams and goals.
This deserving mind set of our generation has gotten us into a lot of trouble. I recently talked to an independent young man who was complaining about the fact he had to look for a second job because more money was going out than was coming in. I’m glad he saw the problem and was trying to fix it. But his response to my questions about his spending habits explained part of the problem. He tried to explain that his only splurge was buying café mocha and he didn’t want to cut it out of his life because….”I work hard and I deserve it.” And there it is. He deserves it. Maybe what he deserves more than specialty coffee is the luxury of not having to get a second job. He mentioned that he only buys it on work days and that it only costs $3.50 but the more questions I asked the more facts started coming out. Actually, he sometimes gets two a day and not just on work days but every day and he leaves a tip. Working out the math, I figured he spends almost $200 a month on coffee. He was shocked!! He had never questioned how much money he was spending because he had rationalized that he deserved it. So he has decided to give up his beloved café mocha so he can have what he really deserves….time with his family.
So what do you deserve? Are you giving up things that you genuinely deserve, such as good health, time with loved ones, because you have things you’ve convinced yourself you deserve?
Our generation has an inflated sense of entitlement and we use those three words, “I deserve it”, to justify just about anything we want. Try not to fall into this mindset and sabotage your dreams and goals.
Reason 7. I don’t know how to change.
It’s too bad some people use this excuse. This is the main reason I’ve completed this course for you. I’ve heard this excuse so many times from people who sometimes have their answers within reach and just don’t know it. If you are still reading or listening to this course, then there’s something you want to change in your life. I don’t care if it’s loosing weigh, breaking an addiction, time management, earn more money, if you’re thinking about it, you can change it.
There will be times we get discouraged or fearful, this is only natural, but don’t let it stop you from continuing to believe and think that you can change your life. You have the ability to create unquestionable certainty and power within yourself. You have the ability to change. Stay with me and I’ll help you do it! Don’t let life just happen to you. Plan ahead your reactions and Work your plan!
I often remember and repeat the quote from A Course in Miracles, “If you knew who walked beside you at all times on this path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again.” Always know there is a higher power that resides within you that will sustain and give you all the strength you need. You are not alone! Tap into that thought and belief for energy!
D – DREAM
Now allow yourself to Dream. Dream and visualize how you will feel when you have mended that relationship or conquered that addiction. How will you feel when that child graduates or you have more time to volunteer at the homeless shelter, or more time to enjoy vacations with your family. What will that feel like in one month, in six months, in a year? When those negative thoughts and emotions that have clouded your mind and robbed you of your peace and joy, when they are gone and your mind is filled with only thoughts of freedom and certainty, confidence, peace and love!
When we dream as if the desired outcome has already happened, we awaken a part of our mind and spirit that automatically seeks to achieve it. It gives us that extra juice or motivation we need to keep trying and moving forward. It will attract all the people, resources and situations into your life that you’ll need to accomplish that goal.
Athletes have been using it since the 1960’s. They visualize swinging the golf club for the hole in one, scoring the winning touchdown, making all the foul shots or knocking out the opponent with one punch. Athletes want to condition their mind so their body will automatically perform when their time comes because they know the outside world is a mirror image of the inside mental world. See, dream and visualize yourself winning.
I’ve read that Michelangelo said about his Statue of David, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” He was able to use his mind to visualize David in the slab of marble and then carved him out of it. John F. Kennedy visualized sending a man to the moon, the Wright Brothers visualized a man flying in an airplane, Edison visualized sending sound through the airways and others visualized having a conversation across the world with no wires. Great, wonderful things have been invented and accomplished and moved our world into a higher and more productive economy and state because of those who allowed themselves to visualize and dream.
It’s easy to do! Concentration and relaxation are two of the most important requirements as you bring a loving positive energy to the experience. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes and imagine with laser-like focus with as much emotion as you can give it. See in living color with vivid detail; hear the sounds as you see your situation unfolding. How does it look and feel after you have achieved your goal? This is powerful and it works!
I’ve read about and tried many dream and visualization techniques. I’m going to give you a combination of those that have worked best for me.
Step 1. Imagine sitting in a movie theater when the lights dim and the movie starts and it’s a movie of you doing exactly what it is that you want to do better. See all the details that you can create. Imagine what you’re wearing, your facial expressions, your body movements. See yourself now inside your body and become one with the image. You’re the main participant or character but notice those who are around or with you. Add in any sounds you’re hearing such as music or other people talking or cheering. See this all in 3D living color and even sprinkle some glitter on the clothing or images to make them become more vivid. As your character expands and goes beyond your normal possible comfort zone, just go with it. Let your character be bold, vivid and boundless.
Then finally, recreate in your body any feelings you think you would be experiencing as you engage in this activity. Are you excited? Proud? Filled with a loving sense of accomplishment? Do you hear the cheers or shouts of praises from others because you’ve accomplished your goal? Whatever you feel or hear just let the feelings wash over you and fill you up.
Step 2. Get out of your movie chair and walk up to the screen and open a door and enter into the movie. Experience the entire movie again from inside of yourself, looking out through your own eyes. This will even more deepen the impact of that same experience. Again, notice and see everything in all the same vivid detail and hear the sounds and experience those feelings again.
Step 3. Now, walk back out of the screen that’s still showing the movie of you performing perfectly and return to your seat in the theater. Reach out and grab the screen and shrink it down to the size of a cracker. Now put this miniature screen in your mouth and chew it up and swallow it. Imagine each tiny piece that contains the full picture of you performing well and imagine all these little screens traveling into your stomach and out into the bloodstream and into every cell of your body. Then imagine every cell lit up with a movie of you performing perfectly.
When you finish this five minute visualization experience, open your eyes and continue your daily activities. You will be amazed how much this will improve every thought and action you’ll continue to have the rest of the day. Try to do this at least once if not twice a day. The best times I’ve found that work for me is first thing in the morning and then right before I fall asleep.
As we finish up this Module on Changing your M.I.N.D. I’d like to reinforce how powerful affirmations and visualizations can be and how they contribute to your overall success in changing your mind when you focus on the positive outcomes in your dreams and goals.
This is going to take more than you accepting that this will work on an intellectual level. You’re going to need to put into action the small necessary steps of repeating these affirmations that will reinforce your mind and your thinking. I know you’re thinking this is so basic. Is your future worth 5 or 10 minutes each day doing these exercises? Believe in the power of words and believe in the power you have over your habitual actions. I believe in you and I’m here to help you! You can do this! In the downloadable PDF for this Module you’ll find a list of Affirmations I’ve used over the years. Take some of these and modify to your specific situation and then use them to Change Your Mind.
Change starts with you….one thought, one choice, then one action at a time! Dare to Change Your Life Today!