So in the last article I talked about a fantastic way to start a reshaping body program, maybe not losing weight but looking fitter and replacing fat with muscle, which as we all know weighs more than fat, so you may not lose weight but you’ll look great.
As you all know, and I’ve said many times, I love what I do and I love all the “stuff” that goes on around my core business, hence the last article. So hand in hand with that one is this article, the mind / motivation / brain part of any changes that you’d like to make. Most people who change eating / exercise habits experience at some time a conflict in their mind in regard to struggling, motivation, keeping going or even getting started, so here’s a brilliant process you can use to enhance that and achieve your goals. This can be used for absolutely anything not just eating / exercise, in fact I would encourage everyone to try it.
The process is called the Thought-Awareness Bracelet and will teach you and your mind to completely reframe how you think and how you communicate.
So just a little background information.
Our thoughts don’t exist, just think about that for a minute ……….. got it? Well it’s true, our thoughts are constructed by ourselves through our words and self talk. No body can make you think or feel in a particular way, if you feel negative about a comment or a situation it’s because you choose to react in that way. And the key word is react, when we react our brains run a very quick program and we repeat our thoughts, actions and words from our learned behaviour, in other words we just repeat what we have always done and low and behold we get the same old result.
So how do we change that? The trick is to respond not react. When we react, as we have just seen, this is done pretty much immediately and is based on how we have always behaved, this can be literally be anything: thought, comment, conversation or an event. An example: We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve been invited somewhere and don’t fancy it, leading up to it our self talk is all negative, “don’t want to go”, “what a waste of time”, don’t like those people” etc. etc. etc. our self talk / learned behaviour is all completely negative. And guess what? We have a dreadful time and when we get home we have a row with our partner because we’ve been in such a bad mood. We chose that through programming our selves beforehand with our learned negative self thoughts, we chose our thoughts and made our thought reality come true.
We’ve also all experienced something similar where our self talk has not kicked in and guess what? We had a great time.
So what is meant by react or respond? When we react we pretty much do that automatically from learned behaviour and preprogrammed self talk, the outcome is pretty much the same. Be honest have a good soul search and see if I’m right, also look at the people around you, we can all predict how they’re going to react in certain situations.
Responding, on the other hand, is completely different. We listen / watch / observe and understand, yes understand, all the aspects of what is being said to us or what the situation is telling us or requires. We sum up the all the facts and aspects and we formulate a measured and emotionally intelligent response. A grown up way of communicating. A trick I learnt a long time ago when responding to messages or e mails, if you don’t like what’s coming in or it's a tricky subject, don’t reply for twenty four hours, wait, and then respond.
So where is all this taking us? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could reprogram our self talk, if we could remove the negative aspects, if we could see everything positively if our thoughts generated great results, fantastic conversations and brilliant outcomes. Well you know what? They can.
What we’re talking about is changing ingrained, learned, preprogrammed self talk. The words that construct our thoughts, the words that are negative, that create an anxious future and that see our past as dismal. Changing thought habits.
Let’s sit and think again just for a wee while, think and digest this. Just assume, because it’s true, that every experience we have in life, every conversation, every action and every situation has more than one side to it, sometimes more than one, and let’s just assume we could see those differing sides and respond accordingly. How different life would be? But you can do this, learn to respond not react.
The process, or in other words, let’s get on with it.
As I have mentioned a number of times, word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions, it’s not enough to just decide you’ll stop using certain words, though, it requires conditioning. A bit of work now will transform your thoughts, increase positivity, enhance motivation and make changes in your life that you didn’t think possible.
It's very simple, you have to create a physical cue to trigger thought changes. So by simply wearing a very basic elastic bracelet and setting yourself a challenge to go 21 days without complaining or being outwardly negative. Each time you break the rule you simply switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start again from day zero. Simple but highly effective metacognitive awareness training.
The effects can be immediate and life changing.
As regular readers of my articles will know, I have and had mental issues and have been experimenting with the technique. It all makes perfect sense, fix the words and you fix the thoughts. I’m not a negative person, but I wanted to cut out the commiserating most of us use for thirty to forty per cent of all conversations, (if you don’t believe me, keep track of how many people start conversations with you in the next day or so that start on a complaint or criticism).
I made it to day eleven on the first two attempts, then slipped back to zero. Then it was two or three days at a time for about a month and I’m now just starting again from zero. Once I clear the twenty one days I’m not going to stop but will scale it down to maybe a couple of days a week or even just support in times of stress.
So what is negativity, a complaint or criticism?
I defined complaining or criticising for myself as follows: describing an event or person negatively without indicating next steps to be positive or fix the issue. It’s also key to add in any times that you gossip, criticize, or complain, basically, it’s any communication framed in a negative manner. Wow I hear you say, that’s difficult. Possibly yes.
Following the above definition, both of the following examples would require a wrist switch and a return to a zero count.
“I went into the post office today and I had to stand behind this rude jerk for thirty minutes. What a waste of time.”
“John can be such an idiot (or any other profanity) in the way he behaves and talks, Totally uncalled for.”
The following variations would not:
“I went into the post office today and I had to stand behind this rude guy for thirty minutes. From now on, when I go in there if it’s busy I’ll go and do something else first and then come back or I’ll go early in the mornings to avoid the crowd.”
“John was a bit of muppet in there, wasn’t he? I suppose I’ll just have to watch how I talk to him in future or phrase my questions differently. It could also help to e mail him before we meet up so he has time to digest the information.”
So if you read the difference between the two statement the top two are very negative whereas the bottom two are more positive, suggest ways to help the situation and are both far more measured, professional and grown up.
So if we break that down further: If this is self speak the changes start to build positive thoughts, ideas and motivation. If this is in a conversation with someone else you come across as positive and not dreary, dull and constantly negative and critical. In both cases the learned negative behaviour starts to melt away leaving positive and new ways of communication.
So these are a few of the things I’ve learned.
My lazier thinking evolved from counterproductive commiserating to reflexive systems thinking. Each description of a problem forced me to ask and answer: What policy can I create to avoid this in the future?
I was able to turn off negative events because a tentative solution had been offered and a positive spin created, instead of giving those negative statements indefinite mental shelf-life. Positive outcomes were: better sleep, more pleasant conversations with both friends, family and business associates.
People want to be around action-oriented problem solvers. Training yourself to offer solutions on-the-spot attracts people and resources.
Want to take the 21-day no-complaint challenge for a test drive now?
Make the commitment.
Buy the bracelet, yes buy one. Don’t use an old one, this is a new positive, creative commitment, don’t support it with old familiar negative things.
Log each day: If it was a success or if you had to change wrists and return to zero.
Finally. Have fun with it, take time to communicate both with yourself and with others. It’s not easy but the results are life changing. And remember in logging the results, there are no bad days or failures, just learning days in which you learnt to communicate in a positive and emotionally stable way.
And Finally again. The bracelets in the pictures can be purchased from myself for £10 each and for each bracelet purchased £2 will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society. Contact me for details.