There’s a truth about your unconscious mind, which could be keeping you stuck where you don’t want to be, if you don’t know it yet.
And most people don’t. It’s a trap that most of us fall into.
It keeps you thinking about what you don’t want; it keeps you looking for signs and experiencing life through the filters of what you don’t want; it stops you from moving forwards and can keep you feeling miserable.
Want to know what it is – and what mindfulness can help you do about it?
Your unconscious mind doesn’t understand ‘not’.
What do I mean by this?
Whatever you do, right now, don’t think about a pink donkey climbing up a prickly purple tree with a yellow dog barking at the bottom.
What happened…? Point made?
To be able to do a ‘not’ or a ‘don’t’, your mind first has to imagine the ‘thing’ or ‘scenario’ and then adds in the ‘not’. It is how it is wired.
“Don’t run!” is processed as “Run!” and then “Don’t!”
“Don’t mess up the presentation!” is translated as the instruction to “Mess up the presentation!”, triggering all of your auto-pilot scripts for imagining (and creating) messing up the presentation. The ‘not’ gets lost in the footnotes.
All those times when we’re talking about what we don’t want, guess what we have to imagine first? And that imagining triggers off the same emotions and physical hormone and chemical reactions in your body as if it were actually happening. Can you imagine how that keeps you stuck in what you don’t want? Can you imagine how talking and thinking about what you don’t want keeps re-enforcing your instructions to your Monkey Mind’s filters to spot more things that support what you don’t want – more circumstances for you to get what you don’t want?
We get what we focus on. If we keep thinking and talking about what we don’t want and what we don’t like, that’s what we’ll see more of in our lives.
What has this got to do with mindfulness?
Well, spotting the thoughts that cause us to fall into the ‘negative’ trap is the essential first step to breaking free from this habit.
Awareness is the first key to change.
By practising mindful awareness of your thoughts, you get a chance to press pause and to ask yourself the magic question that can help to turn this around:
What do I want instead?
Then use your answer as a spring-board for taking inspired action.
Here’s a 60 second mindfulness technique to help you turn things around:
- If you catch yourself thinking or talking about what you don’t want, press pause.
- Take 3 Mindful Breaths, breathing in through your nose and breathing out with a tension-releasing ‘ahhhh’ sigh, to help you get out of the story and drama and back into what’s ‘real’, here and now.
- Ask yourself the magic question: “What do I want instead?”
- If more ‘not’ phrases come up, or if more drama resurfaces, go back to #2.
- Once you are clear about what you want instead, decide on one action – even if just a baby step, which could take right now to move towards it.
There you go. How does that feel now?
If you’d like to discover more ways that mindfulness techniques can help you to press ‘pause’ and turn your life around, you might enjoy 52 Mindful Moments. It’s full of inspirational, practical exercises that can take you from stressed to smiling, in under sixty seconds.
I’d love to hear how you got on with this technique. Any insights? Any questions? Please share via the comments box!