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This week, we are going to dive into the voice in our head. Most importantly, we are going to discuss how to manage this voice and begin taking control of our subconscious thoughts. As always, please respond with your thoughts and suggestions; I've enjoyed hearing from all of you.
I recently read the book Chatter by Ethan Kross which discusses the pervasive voice in our heads. On any given day, we are constantly talking to ourselves; the issue is that we are often completely unaware of this one-sided conversation.
Without being aware of our subconscious, we can't begin to guide or shape it. Until we take an active role in understanding our background chatter, we are easily influenced by negative outside factors. The news is designed to shock and awe, and the events of the last year and a half have certainly not been easy on our collective psyches.
Kross suggests passive observation as the first step to active management. As you go through your day, try to become aware of as many thoughts as you can. Meditation and mindfulness practices help with this immensely. The goal is to observe without judgement; take it all in, then determine if the voice in your head is largely positive or largely negative.
If it's largely negative, fear not! You can interject with a simple practice of speaking to yourself in the third person, paired with pointing out the absurdity of the situation. I often interject with negative thoughts by saying, "Justin! Snap out of it, you're being a grumpy old man." This, paired with a visual of me shaking my fists at proverbial kids on the lawn usually makes me laugh enough to shift my mood. As strange as it sounds, it's often that simple.
One extension of this background chatter is how much weight we put on the opinions of others. As you are observing your inner voice, try to realize how much of it is influenced by what others in your life believe. If you ever want to succeed (however you define success for yourself), you need to be willing to take risks. One of the most common "risks" we feel we need to overcome is the fear of failure. More specifically, it is the fear of how others will perceive our failure, and not the failure itself.
More often than not, the worst case scenario we envision in our heads will never be quite as bad as we think it will. The anticipation and expectation of what could happen often clouds our judgement and prevents us from taking the leap. If you can learn to lean into this fear and realize what part of your subconscious is being influenced by negative people in your life, you can make substantial positive strides.
As you begin your own personal journey through your subconscious, learning about the Dickens Process can be a powerful transformative tool. This process, named after Charles Dickens and his "Christmas Carol" story, is a self-reflection exercise. The goal is to analyze your limiting beliefs, and understand how they affect the three phases of your life (much like the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future). This process is one of the most powerful group exercises performed by Tony Robbins in his live seminars. Regardless of how you may feel about him and his personality, he's been able to achieve remarkable results on a massive scale.
The first step is to choose a limiting belief, such as "I'm not meant to be successful" or "I'm not a naturally happy person" and jot it down on paper. It is important to visualize this belief, to give it some weight. From there, that limiting belief is brought through a 3-step process:
1) How has this belief negatively affected my past? How has it affected my past relationships?
2) How is this belief negatively affecting my present? How is it damaging my current relationships?
3) How will this belief continue to negatively affect my life in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
The key is to take your time at each step, and write down every way that this belief has limited you and will continue to limit you. Embrace the emotions involved, lean into them, sit with them. From there, you must find a way to rewire this belief into something positive.
Instead of "I'm not meant to be successful" you can tell yourself "the world is my oyster." Instead of "I'm not a naturally happy person" you can tell yourself instead that "happiness is my normal state." The combination of awareness, followed by interjection and change, can be a powerful way to transform your life and make tangible changes in your subconscious mood.
For a great video about the Dickens Process, watch here.
For Part 2 on installing positive beliefs, watch here.
Coaching for Wellness
The Ottawa Business Journal published an article in conjunction with the Stratford Group about integrating leadership coaching as a part of corporate wellness programs. The article is short, and a half-hearted sales pitch of sorts, but coming across it did remind me of some important lessons I've learned over the years.
I spent some time as a leadership coach working with a handful of teams in various industries. Integrating this coaching with a broader goal-setting process helped elevate the performance of these teams and increased cohesion in the office.
Regardless of how you approach it, spending time working on team culture and empowering your peers to make critical decisions is well worth the time invested. Coaching of any kind, whether internal or external, can help put things in perspective for your teams.
The most important step to start with is communication. You must understand that every message is first transmitted, then received, and finally decoded. At each step of that process, countless things can go wrong. Making assumptions about how our messages are delivered or understood lead to many misunderstandings that can easily be avoided with practice.
While you work on your subconscious this week, also spend some time working on your conscious communication. Focus on listening intently, repeating what you've heard for clarification, and making sure that every message you send is received as intended. It is always better to get extra clarification than to create misunderstandings that potentially cause problems down the road. Remember that good communication starts with listening, and listening is a difficult skill requiring constant practice!
That will do it for this week! Please let me know what you liked, didn't like, and what you want to see more of. Do you want it to be longer, shorter? Do you want specific topics covered more? Less? Have a wonderful week, and remember to please forward this to your friends -- helping get the word out and get more eyes on this newsletter is hugely helpful and greatly appreciated!
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