Someone (meaning I have no idea where this quote originated) once said “It’s easiest to ride a horse in the direction it is going.” Change is never easy. Never has been. For every one person who ever sought to facilitate change there were 100 people eager to resist it.
Although we have little control over much of what happens around us, it is we who choose from that list of options as to how we react to what happens around us. We can choose to change and adapt or we can choose to cling to the past as the world changes around us.
We can choose to be elevated by the people and experiences around us or we can choose to be degraded by them. The value of choosing to be elevated can not be overstated.
To make that choice, we must understand that we are a product of our life experiences, and those past experiences shape the way we view ourselves and the world around us. This is not some fuzzy theory or new-age mysticism. It is a mechanical blueprint of the way our brains work, and how the influence of past experience shapes the decisions we will make today.
Don’t think so? This simple exercise just might change your mind.
Ca y u rea t his?
W at i y o a e not r adi g th s?
I y o a e n t re din t is, t en w at ar y u d ing ?
What you are doing is blending what you see (the present) with what you remember (the past). Your eyes read what’s there, and your memory fills in the blanks. This fill-in-the-blanks ability of our minds is present in the way we think about many things, including how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.
Our memories are the stored experiences of our past. If our past experiences are dominated by failure (can you say yo-yo dieting?) then our fill-in-the-blanks thought process may suggest that future failure is likely as well. In addition, negative or painful past memories are more easily recalled by the brain as a way of protecting us from repeated risk. This enables failure or negativity to be more impressionable on our day-to-day decision making and behavior choices.
Fortunately, we have the power of choice, and we can learn to use these same fill-in-the-blanks skills to our advantage.
Here’s a couple of helpful suggestions on how to intelligently fill-in-the-blanks:
1) Question your initial assumptions about how to react to circumstances around you. Everybody gets hungry, but not everybody speeds into the nearest McDonalds drive through because of it. Fill-in-the-blanks by remembering this is why you always keep a banana or granola bar in the car with you.
2) Never decide whether you will exercise this morning from under the blankets of your warm and cozy bed. Fill-in-the-blanks by deciding the night before WHEN you will go to the gym the next day, not IF you will go. Decide the day before your workout and execute on the day of your workout.
3) Exert your power. When you need to attend a meeting with that annoying co-worker who causes colossal spikes in your blood pressure, fill-in-the-blanks by remembering I can only control how I act. How I react. Exert your power over your reactions, let the annoyance run right off your back, and focus not on your co-workers actions, but on the freedom of remaining unaffected.
4) Build upon your behavioral success. Fill-in-the-blanks with a commitment to repeating having healthy food available, going to the gym and keeping your cool. Repeated behaviors become new habits which replace past cycles of failure. Don’t surrender when you make a mistake. The only mistake is surrender.