Have you ever noticed a pattern of thinking that is causing you pain or frustration? You notice these thought processes and wonder why it always seems to go down the same path? First of all, good for you! Noticing your own brains’ ways is like having two brains going at once right? One side says this, and the other says, “Wait? What?”. I call this “other” side the conscious side.
Here’s the research, it’s believed that 90% of our minds are programmed/subconscious – it reacts to things that distress it (real or imagined). The other 10% is self talk or conscious. The subconscious paths are well-worn and that makes them easy to go down. Especially after years and years of traipsing down the same way.
Luckily, everyone can develop awareness and learn to make new brain pathways.
Another metaphor is this. Picture a tree. Every time we go down a pathway, that’s one of the branches, and the more we do it, the stronger the branch gets. But if we learn to start “feeding” other branches, the old branches which are no longer serving us, will eventually shrivel up and weaken. They may even drop of entirely.
We can start re-wiring our brain pathways, and essentially creating new ones or feeding more positive one by learning the skill of Reframing. This is the art of finding one positive in the situation or thought. Such as, “I’m such a perfectionist it's like OCD”, you might respond, “being detail oriented has helped me create really professional work presentations which have gotten me where I am today”. Reframing can also include looking at a situation from another angle, i.e. past to present, from an outsiders perspective to your own, or vice versa.
If you’re unable to reframe, that’s okay, here's a few more ideas:
Try imagining that you're pushing the thought away.
Every time that negative thought arises, think “well isn’t that interesting”. It will help you disassociate or detach from the thought.
Take a breath, 4 counts in, hold for 1, 4 counts out. Do that 5 times.
And lastly, rationalise and don’t judge yourself. You're not “wrong”.
These techniques will take practice. The brain is a powerful thing and it’s behaved this way for a very long time.
When you start to “grow consciously”, you begin to shift your paradigm, which I like to think of as a filter, like on Instagram. If you can change the colour of your outlook, or shift your perspective, things will start to look quite different.
Full disclosure, stress can weaken those new pathways that you’ve been busy creating. So here’s a quick stress management tool. When you start to feel stressed, write down everything that’s causing you stress, take a deep breath, then cross out everything you can’t control, circle everything you can. Write a small action step for the things that you can control, and do it.
As I write this, I’m realising that my job as a coach is to help you grow consciously. And get through those weak or stressful times when it seems easier to go back to those old habits. My clients appreciate that I have their back when they stumble, that they can vent to me and I can help them reframe and regroup. Suddenly things don’t seem so bad anymore.
If you think this is something you’d love to have in your life, contact me now, while it’s fresh in your mind.