I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision. – Eleanor Roosevelt
The rules we have for our lives are one way we manifest our intentions. While some of us are more spontaneous and impulsive than others, all of us have guidelines that preplan our success or failure. So, for those times when you’re not acting on the spur-of-the-moment, what are the rules that serve as the chaperones to your life? And which of those are not serving you well? That’s what we’re going to discover today.
At one time or another, we’ve all had these thoughts: If [such and such] happens, then I’m going to [fill in your favorite miserable emotion]. Or how about this one: When he does [that], then he makes me so [fill in your favorite woeful reaction]. These are classic examples of the kinds of negative self-talk and detrimental statements I hear people make everyday; conditional proclamations – those truths we have come to believe are so self-evident – of just how bad or extremely unhappy we are going to feel in the Future. That’s right – admit it, even you have entertained those pesky, premeditated plans to behave severely, act ineptly, and experience a gloomy life.
How would your life be different if you could harness and exploit the same successful thinking that the immensely affluent and consistent winners in society use? What if you had a spectacular and easy method to program yourself for a positive outcome?
Before I show you an effortless programming technique, let’s understand what usually goes into someone’s decision to have a bad tomorrow. Obviously, it starts with a projection or prediction about the Future, and sounds something like this: If John doesn’t support me in front of everyone, then I’m going to be so angry! If you deconstruct that choice to feel angry in the Future, we see that it necessarily starts with the word if.
By using the if word, you put an arbitrary boundary around what you will feel or do when something you believe to be true happens; in this case, the belief that John might not support you – if proven to be true (to you) – will necessarily lead you to feeling angry. The essential part of our negative programming, by the way, is what appears after the word then. Naturally, most people take the then words for granted and focus, instead, on the words that immediately follow the if. In order to give yourself the most powerful options available, I urge you to change your focus to how you want to feel first, not on how someone might act or how something might happen. A fundamental key to your success is the realization that you can always choose how to react, even when it does not appear you have any choice on the triggering person or event.
In other words, if John does not support you, then what? Seriously. What will happen? This is where you must believe that your choice of an outcome is limitless. Your answer to the then what? question determines how successful or unfulfilled you will be. You want to feel prosperous, successful, and on top of the world no matter what is thrown in your path, don’t you? I thought so. Here’s how to skillfully schedule yourself for feeling great:
Start with your if statement. Write out some Future event that you believe could happen and to which you want to control your response. Given the time of year here in the US, let’s use this example, if my CPA calls and tells me I owe a lot of money in taxes . . .
If it actually happens that my CPA calls and gives me the pleasant news that I owe a lot of money for taxes, then what? This is where you brainstorm (in advance of the event actually happening) so that you can settle on the most powerful and worthwhile response. Write out all the things and feelings and events you believe will happen, or those things and feelings you want to happen. For example, if my CPA calls and tells me I owe a lot of money in taxes . . .
Typically, people would complete the sentence with things like:
Then . . .
I will be really pissed off.
I will have to figure out how to find the money to make the payments because I just don’t have it.
I will simply blow off the IRS and let them come and find me.
I will cry because this whole tax system is just overwhelming.
I will shake my head in complete confusion and be stunned.
I will send them their money in rolls of pennies – that will show them!
I know that an angry or sad response might be a way to let off steam or release tension. But, none of these are too empowering, are they? So, don’t forget to write out the positive things you can do in hearing the bad news. Write down the positive feelings you can experience. So, the rest of your list might look like this:
Then . . .
I will be thankful that I make enough money to owe taxes.
I will be happy because I have enough to pay what is owed.
I will start looking at other ways to reduce my taxes next year, because I don’t want this to happen, again.
I will gladly pay my fair share.
Now, look at your list of emotions and actions, and choose the ones that are the most liberating for you (each one of you will have your own, personal ones). Which of those then statements will make you breathe easier and unshackle you from your dark thoughts? Now choose the one or two assertions that serve you the best! Write out the completed sentence. Using our example:
If my CPA calls and tells me I owe a lot of money in taxes . . . then I will be happy that I have enough to pay what is owed.
The key to making this exercise a success, by the way, is now taking your chosen, positive statement or statements and really reading it over and over until you understand the reaction you are choosing to have in the Future.
Imagine taking this solid technique and using it at work with someone you don’t like; someone who had really bothered you in the Past. Before, you used to tell yourself: If I see Sally texting at her desk one more time, then I’m going to scream! Before, you would see Sally doing her personal, non-work related stuff and you would get really mad. Sally’s still doing her thing, and all that’s changed is that you feel bad. You can change this habit. Now, you have an industrial-strength technique that grants you a new way to feel good. Imagine how your time at work would be changed if you programmed yourself with: If I see Sally texting at her desk one more time, then I’m just going to smile because I know that I’m doing what’s expected of me, and I have better things to do with my life than worry about Sally.
Do you now see how this programming technique finally allows you to have the control over your emotions that might have been missing in the Past?
By the way, this method applies to your when . . . then . . . . programming, as well. Now, if you’ve read through all this and started asking yourself how you can put this to work for you, then you are well on your way to living a wondrously empowering life.
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