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Recant the I Can't Rant, Part 2 (Why Do You Do What You Do?)

In Part 1 of the Recant the I Can’t Rant, I talked about the different ways in which we limit ourselves in the areas of physical, mental, and emotional, and financial health. I also looked at how closely tied our I cant’s are to our level of self-love with a new level of honesty that avoided self-judgment and encouraged further self exploration. If you did the exercises, you saw your own behaviors, thoughts, and reactions more clearly than you ever have before.

In Part 2, we are going to explore how to create shifts out of the past and make lasting changes. Understanding why you are the way you are is an important part of personal growth, answering the question of why do you do what you do?

So I will tell you more about your own mind, possibly different than what you previously understood, starting with some basics. Your mind is very much like a computer. Information comes in, information goes out. Your brain holds every experience you have ever had. It categorizes every little piece of information based on its emotional relationship.

The stronger the emotion, the stronger the association the brain gives that information. You may have had multiple experiences with a particular piece of information, but it is the strongest emotional experience that the brain will connect with first. When you try to change yourself, if you do not eliminate or decrease the emotional charge behind a piece of information, your emotional connection and reaction does not easily change. But if you retrain your brain to connect with a new and different response, you will succeed in changing. Anger is a universally experienced reactions that we can use as an example.

When you see, hear, or read something that gives you an emotional charge, your brain has reached into its vast array of stored experiences and pulled out a similar piece of information that previously had an emotional connection to it. It does the best it can to find a relationship, any relationship at all, even if far fetched, to retrieve the most similar example for you to access.

The brain does its job and presents you with your past emotional connection. Voila, you have become angry. Not only that, but your mind will also instantly assess the potential risk or danger to you in the future, so that not only do you have the strong past emotional connection, you now have the future mixed up with the past, potentially adding even stronger emotion and strengthening that emotional connection from the past.

You need to further understand the mind so that you can see that it actually cannot exist in the current moment. It either is storing information as it happens, which become the past as soon as it takes that action, it is looking into the past to give you an association to your current experience, or it is looking into the future, which frequently takes the shape of fear and doubt. This is the answer to why do you do what you do.

Your mind really cannot exist in the current moment because it is always storing or retrieving information for you. So when your brain is busy thinking all those thoughts, it is existing in the past and bringing forward all the information it can in its misguided attempts to help you sort things out. It replays the tapes of past experiences for you, from your subconscious.

Your mind is extremely efficient in warning you of any dangers, just like it did from early in its evolution. Your mind assesses all potential risks, letting you know what to beware and be aware of, based on past associations. In prehistoric days, this process was essential and worked exactly as it needed to, warning the body of impending dangers through physiological reactions, which still exist within us now.

Whenever we are faced with a perceived risk, our bodies do go into some form or fight or flight, releasing adrenaline and other hormones into our bodies. In this day and age we experience TMI, or Too Much Information. We are overwhelmed and overloaded by the constant barrage of information that our brain so obligingly provides us with, being as helpful and forthcoming as it is. It does not hide anything and presents us with everything that it thinks may be useful to us.

The problem is that we have not evolved fast enough to consciously process and sift through the information that we are given. Part of our emotional reaction is due to the overload. If we only had a couple of pieces of information given to us at a time, then we would have the wherewithal to look at them, contemplate, accept, reject, or modify them. Life would be so simple!

Since that is not the case, we have to find tools to deal with who we naturally are to make the best use of these great machines that are our brains. We need to consciously sort through the information and train our minds to slow down the amount of information that it is sending us. We need to teach it discernment.

How does this relate to I can’t, you might ask? We are all on edge due to the constant emotional flooding and the regular fight or flight responses us down physically. What happens when you body experiences fight or flight? This always is the subconscious reason for why do you do what you do.

Muscles tense up and the pituitary gland is activated, releasing adrenaline and other hormones. The liver produces extra glucose for the muscles and the heart pumps extra blood to produce more oxygen to change the glucose into energy, raising blood pressure.

The amount of blood is limited so to give extra blood to the muscles, heart, lungs, kidneys and the brain, some is directed away from other organs. The digestive system slows or stops, salivary glands stop secreting, kidney and abdominal blood constrict and the immune system slows down.

Fear, apprehension, worry, and anxiety are all a common, so much so that the fight or flight response is regularly triggered from either acute or chronic stress. When this happens on a regular basis, our health is compromised, we become tired and some people become exhausted from the body being in a constant state of arousal.

Fight or flight is generally considered to be an extreme reaction, but we experience some form of it much more often than we imagine. This deeply affects a person’s ability to make changes within themselves. Some people can’t possibly find the energy to take another risk. Some people can’t even think about facing even more stress in their lives. Can you see how for many people it is easier not to change than to face the fear of the unknown? Yet if you do not change your emotional connections, things will only get worse, not better as your body gets more tired and more conditioned out of fear.

So when you see I can’t in your life, it may also be because your body is tired from the continued stressors. The harder it is for you to feel like you can change your circumstances, the more likely your body has been affected by the constant fight or flight. Your mind is not only trying to protect you from a perceived danger, it is trying to keep your body from experiencing more damage. Your mind does not know how to differentiate between a perceived threat and a real threat, so it encourages you to discard even those things that will help you if it is not familiar.

Much earlier in your life, you enjoyed trying new things, many new things. Think of toddlers and what they get into! As you gathered more and more experiences your brain compartmentalized them as good or bad. If you had enough bad experiences, your mind convinced you to stop trying new things.

The mind does this out of survival. The mind wants a healthy body for itself, not for you, and it wants you to avoid anything that it does not know. You cannot trust the emotional information it is giving you because it keeps you in old patterns of behavior that is why do you do what you do.

Having this knowledge, combined with the work you did from the previous Ezine, you are now ready to take action. In a way, you don’t have a choice. Your health depends on it, your physical, mental, and emotional, and financial health. The question is: what do you do about any I cant's that you can’t seem to change?

The first step is self-honesty and self-awareness. This only comes from taking the time to watch what is happening inside of your head and your body. Start by looking for any emotional thoughts or emotional reactions that are repeated in your life. You must first recognize your own patterns of behavior. When you are familiar with them, only then can you change them.

When you clearly see how a particular thought/reaction repeatedly plays itself out, then you can look to understand it. This step helps you develop a deeper understanding of human behavior, that is, your own behavior. If you start judging yourself, you do not understand yourself. An emotional pattern is the result of deep past conditioning.

Judging yourself only deepens that negative conditioning. Just be aware, let go of judgment, and turn your focus on what you want. This is a key point. If you shift away from what you want, you slip back in patterning. If you make yourself stay focused, you start to break patterns of behavior by that action alone.

It is simple in theory, but can be challenging in practice if you are not used to it. Think of learning by rote as a child. You did it over and over and over until you got it right. Making a change by focusing on your goal is no different and that ability to learn is still accessible in you.

So now you have focus and when you forget and slip into an old pattern, remind yourself to go back to your focus. The defining step in this process is to now take different action. It does not matter what that is, as long as you do something entirely different or new. Use your new, in depth knowledge of why do you do what you do to make changes.

I am going to go through each I can’t and give you some examples of new actions that you can take. Start with the one’s I give you and eventually make up your own. Doing something that you are already familiar with does not count. There must be some aspect of the unknown in whatever you do.

For the physical I cans: move your body. What did you used to love to do? Dance, run, bounce, jump, skip, spin, shake, climb, etc? What made your body feel good? Do one of these things right now. Step away from the computer for one minute and move.

Shake like you are shedding water, climb over your furniture, run from one room to another, jump with two feet together sideways, whatever it is, just do it. Laugh at the silliness and feel the joy of simply moving your body. Get caught up in the movement to the exclusion of your mind.

Please do this right now, before you read any further. Energy creates more energy. Go to the produce or fruit section of a grocery store and find an item that you have never cooked before. Pick it up and hold it in your hand. Feel the texture; smell it. Allow yourself to get caught up in your imagination of what it tastes like. Marvel at the newness. Take it home and read about it first.

What are its origins? How did people first eat it? Where did it travel to from its native lands? Be curious; be involved with your new food. Look up a recipe for it then eat it, thinking about everything you have learned.

Awaken the curiosity and connection to what you put into your body. Above all, enjoy the experience.

It is all about acting in a different way then you are now used to and learning how to enjoy that process again. Looking at the mental I can’s, start by looking up a new word in the dictionary. Learn something new.

Think outside the box. Do random searches to find different avenues and approaches. Read everything you can about a particular topic that you feel stuck in. What do other people do differently than what you are doing right now? Try something new.

Be more like the old you that used to be curious and explored every corner of the world before you were told all the reasons why you shouldn’t. Take any small little step; just explore something new to stimulate your mind in a different direction, away from its negative thoughts about yourself. Know why do you do what you do, but without judging what you see.

With the emotional I cans, what is the opposite feeling to the emotional reactions you feel? Peace of mind. You really don’t want to be calm all the time because that is boring. You want to be able to feel excitement again, to feel alive without all the worry and stress. to feel joy. Start by doing something to distract your mind, to stop it from thinking when you are in emotional reaction. Read a book, write a letter, take some pictures of something new, look through books at a library or bookstore, volunteer, offer your help in an area you enjoy, etc. Do something new that makes you feel good, especially about yourself.

For the financial I cans, start with researching every aspect of what you think there is no opportunity for. Keep en eye out for different ways in which people use skills similar to your own. Be creative. Offer your time for free to get some experience, submit your work to a variety of sources online.

Get people’s attention and let them know you exist, who you are and what you do. By putting yourself out there, you have a chance, even if it is small, to be noticed. Look up money management online and use the information. Just do something new and different.

The theme is newness. You must take different action to get different results in any area. Just remember that when you do try something new or different, you will not always understand the results you get.

Be warned that your first reaction might be to say, so what, or this isn’t working, or I’m not getting the results I expected. Ignore anything your brain tells you. Remember that it is translating for you based on your past experiences, which do not apply in new situations. Be aware of why do you do what you do and use it to your advantage.

Feel how uncomfortable it can be to do something new and remember that you can even get used to doing new things. Your mind will adapt and eventually be more open to allowing it in. Learn from each one of your new experiences. If you feel that your new experience was not good for any reason, drop the judgment and choose to learn instead, to refine your choices, to redefine what something means so that it is neither god nor bad, it is just another experience.

This is how you condition yourself to work through your I cant’s, by exposing yourself to new things that bring life into the dead or stuck areas that I cant’s create. You are reawakening your spontaneity and curiosity. You are giving yourself permission to explore the world again, without all those fears and cautions that have developed. All of this combined together gives you the strength and ability to create what you want, one small step at a time.

Ewa Schwarz
OnlineCounseling.org

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