How To Get The Upper Hand On Bad Decisions

horizons-hereafter-phil-koch

“Okay, are you ready for some tough love. I know some people won’t like what I am about to say, while others will heartily agree. I think it needs to be said. Some people don’t like to hear things but the bottom line is we don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t.

I may make this two parts. I don’t know, nor can I know, what it is that I don’t know, given my present state of awareness. I can’t connect the dots forward but I can after the fact, go back and see how they lead up to this moment. But I can’t know in advance.

SO whether you want to hear this or not, perhaps you need to. I need to that is for certain. So what is good for the goose is good for the gander, right? I share this because I think it is one of the main reasons people have difficulty in their lives. Ready, here goes.

Good Decisions Come From Experience

If your life is crap it is because you ALREADY, outside of you own awareness, decided it is crap. The decision was made for you, by you, out of old chronic conditioning. Your very own habits determined how you would react. They’ll determine how you react to this blog.

You (we) react before you (we) have any awareness of what was happening. That is how the brain works. It learns to do things and then it does them automatically. Something internal or external triggers a programs and away it goes. It runs on and on.

Until or unless something happens to alter it or stop it, it does what it LEARNED to do.  Habits are wired in. There are good habits and good programs that run a lot of your life. There are other habits many might label less than glorious. Many of these run your life too.

Experience Comes From Bad Decisions – Learn From Everything

For example, getting very mad because traffic is ‘bad’. You don’t have to. Some people don’t, but, you do, (IF you do)  because that is what you’ve always done. Somewhere, at sometime, you reacted that way enough until it became a reliable neural highway in your head.

Chemicals squirt and electric impulses fire off in a particular sequence and voila’ ROAD RAGE! It is reliable. It is automatic. It happens fast. It happens every time. You live with road stress. You’d prefer not to but you haven’t changed it, yet. It is reliable!

If this occurs day and night, to work and back this is NO way to spend your time. It is no way to spend your time in a car. Some people don’t stop there. They recount the story, feeling stressed each time they do, multiple times throughout the day.

You Are Not A Product Of Circumstances But Of Decisions

Some people are worse at this than you are, but many others are far better. They aren’t bothered at all about traffic. They travel to and from places hardly ever getting ruffled for even a little bit. For some others it may be a mild nuisance. Annoying but they let it go.

The only way to change it IS to change it. You have to get inside and make a new decision before the old one fires off.  BUT how on earth can you do that? How do you extinguish the chronic behavior? You have to teach the brain ‘Not That’ but ‘This’ instead.

You have to train your brain to NOT DO THAT but to do this other thing instead. You have to shift from rage to relaxed. HOW? Awareness is the key. Since you can’t stop it before the trigger results in a flood of electro-chemical activity you must catch it.

The Most Important Decision You Make Is To Be In A Good Mood

You must catch it shortly afterwards. The sooner the better. SO you must become sensitized to what sets it off. You must know the trigger. You must know the trigger point. You learn what this is by deciding to change it. That is the first step. You make a decision.

Then you bring awareness to the situation. You begin to plan. ‘When that occurs I’ll do this instead.’ You can really benefit from visualization here. Imagine the situation that sets the sequence off. As you begin to see and feel yourself go into the old behavior, STOP.

Imagine yourself creating a pause. STOP, see yourself take a deep breath. TAKE ONE! Or two or three. Imagine yourself being aware that as it starts you stop it by changing your breathing. Visualize this again and again. You stop, breath and watch yourself shift.

To Change Your Life You Must Change Your Habits

Watch yourself calm down and behave differently. See yourself behave how you want to behave. You stop, calm, and drive normally. You stay calm and relaxed, but attentive and alert to the driving process. You imagine being how you want to be at that moment.

You rehearse the behavior again and again in your mind. There are two perceptual vantage points to take and I have just described one. I’ll describe the other in the next blog. For now you can practice this with any issue you would like to change. Practice on something mild.

It is always wise to choose something that is not to emotionally significant or overpowering at first. Learn the process, get good at it before moving on to more emotionally charged issues. This is wise practice. Take baby steps leading up to bigger change.

Replace Your Negative Thought Habits With Positive Ones

Practice making the changes. Practice your feeling gratitude. Begin and end each day and each practice session looking for this to feel grateful about and express your appreciation for these. Feel it fully and enjoy and delight int he feelings. Celebrate everything!” Rex Sikes

Have a glorious day!

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Horizons photo used with permission of Phil Koch.

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