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Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get stuck in a mode of complaining about things even though that’s not you conscious intention? Why is this, even when we basically don’t want to be doing it? In personal growth work, understanding your thinking can be a great help with managing what you may think you are stuck with and not have any control of.
What I’m talking about comes out in a glaring way at times when we are in a group of people that gets going on complaining or criticizing another person. Have you witnessed how the group seems to get on a roll, with each person adding another and another related comment? If we are not careful about our presence of mind we can get pulled right into it.
Now, the reason complaining starts in the first place is a different matter, here I want to address what happens in our mind to keep feeding it. Once we start it is so easy to keep on with it and even enhance it even when it may not be in our normal character.
It has to do with the way your brain works, your brain is a seeking, answering mechanism. It wants to solve or satisfy what you are telling it through your conscious thought. Essentially everything you are thinking is a question to your brain. A question your brain is programmed to either answer by finding proof or find more of the same to validate your conscious thinking. Your brain wants to support and please you! It will quickly show you that what you are thinking is ‘correct’.
So, when you either start complaining yourself or you are listening to others complain, the brain goes to work finding more related content for you to back up your current thoughts. This validates your thinking, and yes what another person is saying, you are thinking about. If you agree or go along with what they are saying, you are thinking it yourself, thus asking for more of the same, or validation.
This is how you get a related thought popping up which leads to your statement about it. If you had complained, this new thought will likely be another related complaint. If you are making negative comments about another person, your brain will help you find more, and even bring up other people to criticize in a similar way.
Of course this works for all thinking, so it if very beneficial to you when your thoughts are happy and positive. Your brain will seek more of the same for you. The key in this is thought command. All of this brain activity is instigated by your conscious thought. Your conscious thought, which you can choose all of, is ultimately the director of your mind. If you are in command of your conscious and subconscious thinking.
However, the subconscious mind might be doing some things that it thought you wanted at an earlier time. This is where thought habits and beliefs are stored as programs to be turned on when a new related thought comes from your conscious mind. This is a topic for another article, but briefly, this is why you may have behavior that you are not sure why you have.
Even though these programs turn on automatically and direct your thinking and behavior, you are still ultimately in command consciously. You just need to recognize what is going on so that you can redirect or reprogram them as you now want.
In regards to complaining, in order to not have our mind help us complain, it is necessary to take command of our thinking. This means that you must first notice what you are thinking, then you can make a choice to keep on with it or change it. This is where the ‘master switch’ of your thinking is, in your conscious choice of thought. You don’t need to stay with a complaining though, or agree with others as they complain.
Just because something did happen, it does not mean you must let it continue. Because others are having a complaining session, or that you have noticed that you complained, you can choose to change that pattern of thought. You must specifically put in new thoughts, there can be no voids in thought, thee must be some thought. Choose a line of thought that is based more on being happy and loving.
Choosing your intentions and watching to keep your thoughts aligned with them is where you power is. Like anything with regards to managing your thinking, it can take some practice to get efficient at it. But doing what you can right now is better than waiting for some perfection, the doing will bring about more ability to assert your command of your thoughts.
I’m sure you have noticed attributes of another person to be appealing or admirable. This is normal, and can be used to your advantage if you understand why and what you can do with this awareness. Using the characteristics of others can help you to build these up in yourself. This method is called modeling.
You can use the desirable attributes you notice in others as a model to begin thinking and feeling how they can be in you. Actually, the reason you notice and admire specific characteristics in others is because you already have them yourself, they are just subdued. You noticed them in others because these characteristics in you want to be more fully expressed.
Modeling is a powerful way to heighten attributes within you that you want to be more dominant in your daily life. There is a powerful natural human characteristic that you can use to do this. Your mental state and your physiology are linked. You probably know that what you think and feel is transferred and expressed in your body and actions.
What you may not be aware of is that the opposite is true as well. Your thoughts and feelings will respond to your physiology. So, the power in this is that when you see the body posture and behavior of someone exhibiting a trait you admire, you can mimic them and get your mind to respond with like feelings. This has been clearly demonstrated in both the fields of sports and psychology.
So, for instance you admire what appears to be confident behavior in someone, use that as a model. You can at first imagine yourself acting as they do. How are they standing, holding themselves, and projecting themselves? How are they communicating – the tone and inflection of their voice? What feelings do you notice while watching them? And this can be done not only when you are actually watching them, but also in your mind as you think about them and see them in your mind.
Think about the people you have admired some attribute of, and make a list of them. You can categorize them by characteristics. This way you can group similar people together to better help you relate to the attribute you want to heighten.
Like anything new this may take some practice, as you apply some time to doing this. As noticing how you feel when doing it and gradually being able to get yourself to feel your mind and body associating with the trait, you will be applying more energy to aligning and empowering this in yourself. NLP and other disciplines have some techniques for aiding with this process which you may want to look into.
You are capable of doing this on your own, but for most it is not something we are accustomed to doing, so tools and techniques can help us do so. It can be helpful to have a method to help us do something new to use because the mind can tend to resist our efforts just to keep things the way they are. Discomfort is one of the main reasons we discontinue anything new before it’s taken hold in our behavior pattern.
Just start, and don’t give in to the, “I can’t do this” or “I don’t know how to do this” chatter you may get in your mind. That’s all just your ego mind resisting change. Don’t fight it, rather choose to step through it, you can!
With what is going on right now with the financial industry, housing, the stock market and the economy anxiety levels are running high. The more things appear uncertain, the more we can imagine ways they can be even worse, humans are creative creatures. And it seems we can imagine the negative quite easily. As we create more undesirable possibilities I our mind we have more to be fearful about.
This can snowball out of control when we collect our worries from several different areas at once, it can be overwhelming. We can feel totally out of control, which can bring on more anxiety by itself, bringing about emotional overload. When this happens we can cease to function in our normal way, giving the vast majority of our attention to all the worries and fears. Your behavior will change, to be more in following your thoughts and feelings. You will find yourself complaining a lot and not able to focus on accomplishing tasks which will increase your anxiety too.
We become consumed with it. As our thoughts are more focused on these fears, then on the anxiety itself, then on worry about being fearful and anxious it becomes a spiral you can’t overpower. You can feel like a beach ball caught in a hurricane being whirled around with no control. When you actually feel you have little to no control apathy can set in, which also will increase the anxiety.
So, you can see, this worry thing can become all encompassing if you allow it. And this is the key, if you allow it? Here’s the thing, any of the situations that you point to as the basis of your fears do not come with these feelings. In fact they come with no feelings at all, that is your doing. This is hard for many to accept but it’s true. Even when someone treats you badly, how you feel about it is all of your doing.
Yes, there are some very common reactions and feelings that you can have, but ultimately you have command over these. They are brought up from your unconscious programming automatically on cue, with out your conscious permission. Much of the reason you have these common reactions is that you tend to easily buy onto concepts and how to feel about when you see this exhibited by many others. You don’t realize how much of your inner programming was developed through modeling others. These common reactions and feelings are passed on by the masses without knowledge.
However, you don’t need to keep them in place. You can choose to have any reaction you want to something. So, back to your reactions to the fear, worry over the state of things in the economy, you don’t need to continue with them as you have. You can reduce or even eliminate them, thus the anxiety level drops as well.
The tough part is that right now it is much easier to fall prey to the negative news and your existing reactions than it is to take command of your thought and consciously consider other ways look at the situation and new interpretations that don’t include so much fear.
I would suggest not listening and reading current news as much as possible, stop allowing yourself to be continuously ‘prodded with a hot poker’ antagonizing your fears. The more news you get, the more this is reinforced. If you are directly involved in one of the problem areas, be concerned based on facts and look at what you can actually do about it, then take action. But just to worry is self destructive because it is based on fiction, choose not to get wrapped up in. And choose to not let yourself worry about anything you can’t do anything about.
Many try to find ways to eliminate anxiety without much success because you must actually look to changing what the anxiety builds on, in this case self chosen fears and related thoughts and feelings. All of these things going on, that you can’t personally do anything about, will evolve as they will with or without your feelings about them. Well, if anything, you will be mentally supporting them with your fear thoughts and even physically supporting them if your behavior follows suit. For example, if you get so fearful that you stop spending money as you normally do when there is no actual reason preventing it, you will be contributing to the economic slowdown. You surely don’t want to do that if you can help it.
Take mental and physical action:
Choose to take command of your thinking and analyze the situation.
Is your involvement in the situation causing your thoughts and feelings about it, or is it your fears about what could happen?
What are your perceptions of the situations, and how can they be changed to bring about different reactions?
What are your reactions, and must they be this way? How else can you react that would allow you to feel better?
Is there an actual personal involvement that you should be dealing with rationally, or are your actions being motivated by fear?
Choose to stay away from the constant bombardment of the news which just highlights the negative.
What can you do purposefully to keep yourself positive, upbeat and productive? Look for the good and create it.
The more you seek out why you think and feel as you do, the more you will understand, the more you can do something about it. When you change the way you look at these things, the way you see them will change, the way you react will change, the way you feel will change, the way you act will change and it’s all based on choice.
Make the choice to take command of your thinking, change it and the anxiety will dissipate.
Are you focusing your time and attention to the right things? Are you placing importance on the right thoughts, feelings and behaviors?
Did you know that for most people, much of what they do in life was not consciously chosen by them? And many times we have done these things for so long they now do seem important to us, but deep down they really are not. At least not as important as what truly is deeply important. This is because doing so requires us to take command of our thinking and analyze the state of our life. But letting our minds just run things is easier, efficient and more comfortable. Most people have not taken the time to discover what is truly important to them, life just kind of goes along with many seemingly important activities going on all the time. Your brain will ‘take care’ of you in it’s own way and understanding this is very helpful if you want any kind of change in your life.
When you put your attention to something you will see and experience more of it, you will think about it more and even expound on it. Have you ever become interested in a certain model of car from reading and pictures, and then in the next few days you all of a sudden see lots of them on the road as you are driving around, and you hadn’t really noticed many before? Now that you have placed some of your attention, and maybe with some heightened emotional feeling, into the car you want your mind will help you experience more of the same. Your mind is just doing it’s job, to help keep you as comfortable as possible, and make your life easier with patterns, habits and easily repeated behaviors.
When you understand the way your brain works you can better work with it to get and experience what you want. In this case, it is valuable to be aware of what your mind will tend to do automatically so that you understand that you must be purposefully proactive with your thought and attention. Your mind gets programmed through repetition to see and pay attention to what you have already paid attention to. So if you don’t consciously otherwise direct your thinking, your mind will normally keep replaying the same things you have already done and have experience with. This is makes life easier, you don’t have to ‘think’ about a lot of things.
This is why we can feel as though our life has just been going on by itself, because it is. Until you step in, taking command of your thought, and direct your thinking – it will remain as it was. Well actually not exactly the same, your mind will continue to help you expand and develop on the theme – good or bad! In addition, whatever your mind focuses on becomes more important to you. This importance does not differentiate between good or bad.
When you place your attention on anything, this is a command to your brain telling it what you want. So, your brain works to fulfill this. Now this can be anything, even what you don’t want, or a bad experience, or a fear – anything you have focused conscious attention on your brain will help you experience more of it. This is one reason why habits are so hard to break, you keep falling into routines and have the same reactions and feelings over and over.
What can be done about this? Your brain is performing as intended but you are stuck repeating many experiences you would rather not have anymore or you want something new and different. You need to consciously take command of your thinking and override the automatic aspects of your brain. This is where your true power resides, in your conscious command of your thoughts. Just because your brain throws out thought and defense of it does not mean you must follow this – your conscious thought is ultimately in control. It may not seem this way because you have become accustomed to allowing the brain to keep things going automatically, but you can step in and take command anytime you choose.
You may not even know your deepest desires even though they have likely popped up once in a while. You will need to take some time and give attention to discovering what is deeply most important to you, it may not be what you have thought is important. There are different ways to go about this, with most consisting of quieting your chattering mind talk and learning to be receptive to inner information coming up to the conscious level. Doing things like asking yourself questions about yourself and becoming receptive to answers may not be something you are accustomed to doing, so it may take time, patience and persistence realizing that you are really in charge of your thinking. Even adding this kind of activity into your day means that you will need to make time by replacing something already present.
There are a few factors to be aware of that can hamper your progress:
Your brain will attempt to defend the repeating thoughts, throwing out ‘mind chatter’ to dissuade you from your new thinking and actions.
There is more short term comfort in what you already know, even if it is very bad for you. Keep your vision on the long term intention and satisfaction, as a way to get by the desire for feeling good now.
You must remain persistent, more persistent than the brains need to protect what you are trying to displace. Utilize whatever tools and techniques you can to help yourself stay on track. Persistence reveals the winner!
When you begin to see what is truly most important, you will then want to start to change what you focus some of your time and attention to. In order for the new desired experience to come to fruition you will need to continuously give it attention and time in your day. It is like a seed that needs to be nurtured. As you do this your brain will help expound on this and gradually have it become part of the automatic norm for your life just as it has with what you experience now.
Remaining in focus with what you have now or with what you don’t want will only tell your brain to perpetuate it. The first and necessary step for anything to change is your taking command of your thought and choosing what you do want based on what is important to you, then focus on it even if your brain throws up resistance. It’s up to you to choose your priorities and tell your brain what you want to focus on, not the other way around. Your brain will follow your lead once you’ve established your athority over your thinking. Take charge of your life, utilize your true power, choose your thought and your priorities.
Have you ever been overwhelmed with fear as you have faced doing something? We all have I think, each at our own level, with some becoming physically immobilized by it. If your fear feelings overpower you to the point of inaction you have given fear the upper hand. I stated it this way on purpose, your fear is not doing anything to you, rather you are allowing the fear to affect you as it does – it is all within your thought. And you have command over your thought and feelings as well.
When you get the fear feelings based on doubt, worry and uncertainty you choose to allow these thoughts to roil around in your head. You choose how you interpret them and how you react to them. A fearful thought does not come pre-packaged with a specific set of feelings and behavioral commands. Those too are of your choosing.
When you let yourself remain in the fear, you are choosing to have the fear guide your actions. It’s a logical progression to react to the fear feelings based on how most of us have developed our perceptions around fear. But when you realize that you have created the whole cycle in your mind, you can begin to see that you have ultimate command over the whole cycle. You can change this existing cycle of perception, interpretation and reaction to one that is more supportive of the life you want.
Dr. Wayne Dyer is well known for saying in the Power Of Intention that – when you change the way you look at things, the way you look at things changes. He is referring to your perception, which may appear at first to be totally automatic but it’s not. Well it is and it isn’t! It is automatic as it functions now, but you have the ability to change it and have it automatically be different. Just because you now, as most do, react to worry, doubt and uncertainty with fear thoughts does not mean this is the only way or that it must be this way.
So how did your perceptions, interpretations and reactions get the way they are? And why does it seem that this is just the way they should be? Because you were taught these things by those you were around as you grew up. You took on the perceptions, interpretations and reactions of those who provided the greatest impression on you as you grew up. Your mind allows this, unless you consciously step in to stop it, because it seems normal in the environment you were in when young and highly impressionable. When most or all of the people you are around do it ‘this way’ there is no red flag raised in your thinking to question it, so you don’t. Their way becomes your way.
This is how your behavior and that of groups, families and societies is formed and why it appears to be ‘normal’. And the fact that many people behave in a certain way does not make it the best way, many times it is just the easiest way. It is easier to conform than to take a unique path. You don’t have to remain stuck in the mode of allowing fear thoughts to control your actions. You have command of your thinking so you can change the whole cycle or mental chain of events that occurs with fear. Initially the thoughts of doubt, and some uncertainty are normal when you are facing something new, different or challenging but you don’t need to let the heightened feelings well up and create this big fear thing that you then cater to.
You can change the way you look at doubt, worry and uncertainty. They are just certain thoughts questioning what you are about to do. “Am I prepared?” “What if ____?” “Maybe I won’t remember?” “How will they react?” “How do i look?” These are mostly logical concerns about what you are about to do and if you can answer them logically, without emotion, you can clear them up and soothe your mind. Some you can specifically answer and check off the list and others you will determine you can’t do anything about, so you do not concern yourself with it any more. Choose to leave out the doom and gloom thoughts, the “i can’t” thoughts that are not part of the original concerns – they are your reaction to those thoughts.
Just because you are concerned with how you look, dies not mean you should stop from doing it. Just because you are wondering if you are prepared or not does not mean to turn and run. Just because you have not done this before does not mean you can’t. Your interpretation and reaction to the logical progression of thought leading up to your planned action is what causes you to freeze up. But even when you allow the feeling of fear to well up over these thoughts, still does not mean you must behave in a certain way. You can proceed with the fear, don’t interpret the fear feelings as a stop sign. Just acknowledge those feelings and move on. Accept them, realize how they come about and let them be. Fear thoughts and feelings in themselves can’t do anything, only when you choose to react in specific ways do they. Choose not to react to them.
In acting they teach actors and actresses to channel their fear. It’s not that that many don’t have it, but it’s how they have learned to handle it. Many who perform live or speak in from of large groups are nervous every time before they do. But rather than letting this stop them they are able to channel the energy in the fear towards what they are doing. This actually transfers that heightened energy you notice with fear thoughts into their performance or presentation. Have you ever noticed that some performers seem to have a different ‘personality’ off stage than they do when they are performing? Many are quiet and reserved when talked to away from a performance, but when on stage they come alive with energy and boldness. I wonder where that comes from -re-directed fear perhaps.
Everyone has the ability to do this, to transfer that energy attached to fear thoughts onto something else, like what it is you want to do but feel afraid to. It’s really a matter of perspective, yes, how you look at something and how you interpret it determines what you will do with it. Have you noticed how that when you have chosen to do something you feared you did it with a higher energy level than you normally operate with? This is that energy re-directed to something of your choice, which better supports what you want.
In fact sometimes your energy is so high, in a calm way that you are ‘in the zone’ able to do what you are doing without much conscious thought. This is how powerful it can be to channel your fear associated energy onto the task at hand particularly if you are prepared to do it. As you may have found, even being prepared for something still does not prevent you from feeling fearful about actually doing it, but preparation does make it flow better once you get yourself to go.
Don’t allow your fears to slow or prevent your progression in life, choose to change the way you look at them so your personal dreams can be expressed fully. When you feel the fear and do it anyway, you choose to let it be and proceed as planned, and channel the fear energy into your planned actions to enhance your performance. As you do this, like with anything, over time it will get easier and easier. You will be actually re-training your unconscious thought patterns to automatically behave differently, to do it the way you want it done. Dropping the emotional reaction to logical thoughts can allow you to address them and move on. Once you have checked your hair, it’s good -stop dwelling about it.
Remember that you have command of your thinking not the other way around. It may seem that your thoughts and feelings run the show, but this is just because of the default programming that had been allowed to become established as you were developing. At the time you did not know any better or different so as to guide this development differently. But now you can change your perceptions of everything in your life, you can alter how you interpret everything that you see, and you can adjust your reactions to these as well which in turn changes your behavior. Choose what best supports; the life you want, what you want to do and how you want to feel.
One of the things that makes it tough to change your thinking is the attachment to existing thoughts.
At first you may think that you wouldn’t do such a thing when the new mode of thinking is what you think you want. And of course this is true, but there is the aspect of your mind that loves to hold on to what you know and are familiar with. It’s very much like how a magnet automatically attracts iron and steel. Your existing thoughts seem to have a power of their own. They don’t of course, other than through your allowing them to.
But the hard part comes with your not always being aware that these thoughts are even there. Your unconscious mind harbors these thoughts which are integrated into your base mental operating system
Two aspects that are very powerful with us humans are the desire for comfort and following the familiar. Even when thoughts are not really in our best interest but are familiar to us, we will gravitate towards them, craving what is known.
We generally have a hard time facing the unknown, thus we shy away from it rather more often seeking what is known and comfortable. In our desire to eliminate the unknown, we attempt to define, categorize and organize everything to put it all into neat order that we can feel comfortable with.
This of course can not actually be done. In reality everything is in constant change, but because we are generally uncomfortable with new and different, we seek the known no matter how inappropriate it may be for us. This is also why thoughts and actions that don’t serve your best interest are so readily held onto and acted upon automatically in your unconscious mind.
“Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.” — Glenda Cloud
Part of your mind is trying to help you feel comfortable by building a database of what you have already experienced and use this as often as possible to help you feel good. One of the basic human drives is to feel good and our unconscious mind is geared to help accomplish this.
I know, how can doing something that is harmful such as a bad habit be comfortable? It can in the sense that it is known. It is more comfortable than what you have not done before because at least it is known to you. As you know many people will hang on to some very destructive habits without knowing why. This is one of the main reasons why change is so difficult.
For the most part you are unaware of this mental activity as your unconscious mind efficiently streamlines many of your thought processes. Don’t get upset with your brain, it’s just doing it’s job. Just imagine if you had to consciously think about everything your mind did – you wouldn’t have time to do anything above your basic life support, if that.
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” — Abraham H. Maslow
Our unconscious mind, much like a computer operating system, performs many functions without our need to be aware of them. But also like a computer program, your automatic brain functions can be altered. As a programmer can go in and change a program such as Microsoft Word and get it to perform different functions, you can change many of your basic thoughts, feelings and perceptions that automatically guide your behavior.
The question is – are you willing to face your basic comfort seeking programming in order to experience something new and different in your life? You must choose to step into the unknown, into what is new to you and away from what you have been deriving some comfort from. On the surface this seems and feels unnatural – but it’s not.
Learning to face and accept the uncertainty of the unknown releases your ability to change your lot in life, realize your potential and increase your happiness.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”
This applies here with your perceptions about the unknown, comfort and feeling good. When you change how you look at change, the unknown, anything new, you can affect your related behavior and how your automatic unconscious mind tries to keep you away from it.
Your life is designed to continuously develop with you becoming more of what you are capable of as you go along. When you allow yourself to shy away from change you are actually stopping this free flow of growth. When you see something new as being somewhat painful because it is different, this is a perception – a choice. Something new and different does not come with discomfort attached that is your doing. Nothing comes with perceptions or emotional feelings attached – that is all of our doing.
One of the most powerful self-help methods is totally free. Ask yourself questions, the right questions. Your subconscious will seek to answer your serious heartfelt questions. And questions can be used to assist with changing the way you perceive the unknown and change so that you welcome it rather than avoid it.
Ask yourself, “How can this be beneficial to me?”
“How can this be more beneficial than remaining as I have for so long?”
“How can this, new and different activity, better support the life I want?”
The questions you can ask are endless. It will take a little practice to figure out what to ask, just keep playing with it – having the intent of creating effective questions you will discover the right questions for your situatuion. You will also likely need to learn to listen for the answers. Quieting the incessant mind chatter is necessary and can be done in various ways such as breathing and meditation.
Another angle for questions is to ask yourself why you feel as you do about change, comfort, happiness, new and different to see if you can get clarity into your perceptions about them. This then allows you to see what you don’t want which then leads to the opposite, what you DO want.
Take the position mentally that something new and different is basically good and beneficial, ask questions seeking how this is. Rather than your old way of looking at change as uncomfortable and undesirable. Look for the benefits, not the detriments – this is a change of perception. Your emotional feelings will follow your perceptions, you will feel different about change when you look at it differently.
Be proactive with how you look at things, choose the perceptions that best support the life you are meant to live. Just because you have had a certain perception now does not mean you must keep it forever. The first step is to change the way you look at change.
“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.” — Herbert A. Otto
John Halderman teaches and writes in the areas of personal growth and development focusing on effective methods for self actualization, increased satisfaction and happiness. For more: