Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Truth #3

I ran across the 30 Essential Truths according to Dr. Gordon Livingston, author of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, on Alex Blackwell's great blog The Next 45 Years. Some of them hit very close to home. This post is about the Third Truth. From Alex's blog:

3. It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place. By nature, we are emotional creatures. Often we live and react based on feelings, not logic. Feelings are wonderful, but when we become tied to a particular thought or belief we tend to ignore the fact that change might be necessary. If a negative behavior is driven by an emotion, then we must find a way to still satisfy the emotional need while putting an end to the destructive behavior.

Have you ever had an idea, feeling, past hurt, resentment, envy or emotion that you just couldn't shake?  Are you still mad about something?  Is your reaction to an event or person different than the reaction of others?  A very common example is former significant others.  For example, because you hate/hated the fact that your ex did _________, you dislike anyone else who _________.  Envy creates ideas that are not logical.  My ex would not visit a BrandX gas station because I had had a boyfriend that owned a BrandX gas station.  Now realize that we crossed the country a few times and he refused to stop and get gas there no matter what.  That's an extreme example, but to test your logic, try it on someone else.  Picture a friend having the same negative behavior that you experience based on your logic.  Seems silly, doesn't it? 

But how do we satisfy the emotional need that drives this thought or belief?  First, identify the original event.  What feeling or thought is tied to this event?  What caused these ideas?  Let's say the event was a perceived slight and the feelings are embarrassment and hurt.  What emotional needs drive those feelings?  A need for self-esteem, comfort and understanding.  How can these needs be fulfilled in order to remove this idea?  Identifying requirements that satisfy these needs varies from individual to individual, but an example will help:

  1. A perceived slight causes feelings of embarrassment and hurt.
  2. Whenever we are in a similar situation or around the person who we feel slighted us, these negative feelings occur again.
  3. Deciding to fulfill the needs of comfort and understanding, we find something that fulfills these needs.
  4. Take a course of action which may be something like: a mantra saying "I am not who this person says I am"; a soothing activity such as a walk to clear your mind; a talk with a friend who understands; picturing an eraser clearing the idea, etc.
  5. Now decide on a new positive thought to replace the old - use it when you are reminded of the past:  "I choose to feel good about myself"; "Others' opinion or view are not my reality"; or my favorite - take the old and replace it with the opposite.

Leave a comment on how you've overcome a negative thought or behavior!  I would love to hear from you!

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