“Every human is an artist. And this is the main art that we have: the creation of our story.”
— DON MIGUEL RUIZ
Hello, you gentle soul, you!
Today I'd like to talk about closing the gap.
Closing the gap as an easier way to think about your efforts towards changing what's not working in your life.
Creating that new story for your life.
So, what story have you been writing?
I've been blogging, podcasting, and talking about being in the drivers seat of my life in order to change the way I think and feel about the circumstances going on around me. I want to expose the beliefs and traumas in my life that are getting in the way of living my best life in order to create new behaviors for myself. I promised myself I would take baby steps and [simply] close the gap to feeling better about the circumstances of my life. That seemed doable!
I talk to sooo many people. And so many people ultimately consider themselves a victim of fate.
People feel the circumstances in their life are happening TO them and there is no controlling the outcome. "It is what it is", they say.
Willingness and awareness have always been first and foremost for me.
I've found that when people try the "fake it 'til you make it" method, especially when they start from a place of feeling negative, often hopeless emotions, this 'technique' often backfires.
So, I encourage you to be open, willing and aware in order to let go of some of these negative emotions and climb [baby] step-by-step up an emotional scale.
When we're in the middle of a freak-out, we have to first reach a state of non-panic, non-freak-out, and move towards steadier, calmer thoughts until we can approach something more neutral, a place where we can feel grounded and centered and reconnect to our wiser more intuitive selves.
When we're in the middle of a freak-out, we are NOT thinking with our best selves. (And trust me when I say, I could easily 'freak-out' about the circumstances throughout my life!)
Yet, from this calmer place, we can begin to allow a little hope to shine in on our situation.
This is the real turning point. It is in this moment where we can look at the situation with just a bit of optimism and hope - then we're more likely to turn things around in our physical world.
We often fight against the concept that we ARE in control of how we think and how we feel about a situation and that I can ABSOLUTELY contribute to the outcome.
Creating your best life begins with an assessment of how you get trapped by reflexive thinking – those automatic thoughts that hammer you with doubts, fears and worries.
Other common trip-ups can include - guilt trips, doubting, [self] name calling, not caring, hostility, lying, manipulating, doom-and-gloom thinking. . .
And how about...
– Yes, buts … which allow you to sidestep responsibility. (If you don't acknowledge or agree with any feedback or criticism, you’re in complete control.)
– Have-tos … which help you control yourself and others. When you’re convinced you must do something, you eliminate all doubts.
– What-ifs … which soothe you with the belief that IF you can just figure out what’s going to happen, you can prepare for it.
– Can’ts … which excuse you from possible failure. If you avoid failure, you’re in control.
Can you feel me here?
Have you had at least ONE of these experiences as an automatic thought? A reflexive thought? And because we've done it for soooooooo long, it feels comfortable in its discomfort! Doesn't THAT always make so much sense!!!
I found that a good place to start is to begin to separate fact from fiction.
So much of my experience, both professionally and personally, has convinced me that most people don’t think about thinking. Especially the 'knee-jerk' reflexive thinking.
They simply react to their thoughts. (Raise your hand if you're with me on this one!)
It’s time to infuse some consciousness into the picture.
Remember, we are talking baby steps here. Small steps towards changing the way you think and, more importantly, how you feel about any given situation.
We're looking to close the gap with each day, each situation that presents itself. Re-frame a situation or a circumstance and look at it from a new perspective. Test drive new behaviors and new thoughts until they become as comfortable as the thoughts that are currently getting your attention and holding you back. And it takes as long as it takes. This is YOUR life, nobody else is living it.
Closing the gap towards letting go of the thoughts and ideas that stand in the way of getting what you want for your life. Closing the gap is a much kinder approach towards helping your efforts and more importantly to help you not judge your progress! (I will admit, I am a progress judger ... There, I said it! Outing myself!)
Try to step back, NCSI style, and observe the struggle, conflict or [intense] emotional experience happening in your life right now and ask yourself: “Am I reacting to the facts or am I reacting to fiction?”
Facts are objective, observable, and here-and-now.
Fictions are based on interpretations, judgments and predictions about the future.
Once you make this distinction – fact or fiction – scrutinize the thought.
This simple awareness will shine a light on your habits of insecurity. Those negative habits prefer the dark, but once exposed. . . they begin to fade. But as I'm learning, you must ask yourself if your willing to scrutinize your thoughts like that. If that's a yes, you then allow thoughts to 'out themselves'. You will be surprised how rapidly more and more evidence shows up in your life's awareness. This has FOR SURE been my experience, even as I type these words.
So once you’ve figured out that fictions are steering your thoughts, you'll need to learn to stop listening. Stop feeding the story.
You can’t stop a reflexive, insecure thought from popping up in your mind, but you don’t have to keep feeding it with a second thought and a third and so on.
This might not seem easy, but it doesn't need to be hard. It always depends on how bad you want a thing, doesn't it?
After you’ve learned to separate fact from fiction and how to shut down reflexive, insecurity-driven thinking, it’s time for the change - beginning to practice a new habit.
Once you expose those knee-jerk thoughts, those reflexive thoughts, you can stop, notice what you're noticing, and let go of what's not working. It's as easy as "changing the channel"!
Once you realize how easy “changing the channel” can be, you’re on your way to understanding the true meaning of empowerment and closing that gap towards your renewed sense of being.
You might even think of it as simple as switching stations on your TV, or navigating apps on your phone. If you don’t like what you’re thinking, change the channel. . . swipe right. Change the way your looking at it.
Of course you realize it sure is easier when giving the advice or even looking at the circumstance as an observer... it's always easy to see someone else's "stuff" - isn't it? That's why 'feeling' has to be a contributing ingredient in nurturing these new behaviors. Thoughts create a feeling, the feeling drives our action, our action creates our results. (NCSI, remember?)
Keep at it, though...likely it's become more painful to continue to think and feel the negative way you do about your life, so just keep at your awareness and practicing the change. It's still closing the gap because you have it in your consciousness now...especially since your reading this. (I love when I can't 'unknow' a thing!!)
Take when we first learn any skill... like driving a car. We didn't know what we didn't know so everything was very deliberate, very calculated. . . until we put time into practicing those new skills, new behaviors. Now when we drive the things we needed to be sooo aware of feel second nature. (btw...that's how those thoughts got their "automatic behavior"... putting in the time to feed the negative stories.... and because we didn't expose them for the culprits they are, they became stronger and BAM...knee-jerk, reflex thinking!)
Give it time.... it took a long time feeding the negative thoughts, and THAT was so powerful! So give it the time and as each opportunity is presented it closes the gap and gets easier to chose. Check out how each opportunity is making you feel. Actions are up next. What outcome are you hoping for? Always your choice.
If you sense you’re losing ground you may also feel you’re losing your emotional grip and be tempted to just give up. Once you start wrestling with doubt and insecurity, you’re just one step away from asking, “What’s the use?”
Motivation and momentum are two vital components to following through on as you begin a self-coaching practice towards closing the gap to feeling better about your life.
To sustain your efforts towards breaking the habit of reflexive thinking, you need to maintain an empowered attitude.
Start collecting some small, early victories against reflexive thinking by accepting less risky challenges. Rather than being a pleaser or yes-person, try being more honest and true to yourself. Start with the people you know best.
The key is to safely begin building your trust and confidence with “small wins,” so that you feel more competent about taking on larger trials. Ask yourself how YOU feel after.
Check out some of these self-coaching truths . . .
You must challenge the myth that anyone else can “rescue” you. Professional help and accountability can add huge value (and is essential for many struggling with severe depression especially), but YOU ultimately have to do the work.
You must accept responsibility for personal change.
You must be convinced that you really have a choice
Self-coaching is a simple, straightforward practice you can begin on your own, right now.
Rather than mindlessly feeding your fears, why not learn to starve them by liberating yourself from insecurity’s knee-jerk, reflex thinking. Once you do, you – not your insecurities – will be steering your life.
Could You Use Some Coaching?
Read the following questions carefully, but don't over think your responses.
Circle your responses as being either mostly true or mostly false as they generally pertain to your life.
Answer each question, even if you're not completely sure.
I'm not as happy as other people. T F
I have many fears. T F
I'm often moody and/or depressed. T F
I worry/ruminate a lot. T F
I seem to have bad luck. T F
I'm insecure. T F
I'm often too negative. T F
I usually don't feel that I'm as good as other people. T F
Life is a constant struggle. T F
I have many self-doubts. T F
I'm a great procrastinator. T F
I often find myself "what-iffing." T F
I'm often anxious or tense. T F
I always expect the worst. T F
I don't have many interests or hobbies. T F
I have no willpower. T F
I'm lazy. T F
I have a hard time saying no to others. T F
I don't adjust well to change. T F
I always feel rushed; there's never enough time. T F
Give yourself one point for each True response.
0–6: Satisfactory quality of life. You're doing well – and you're probably striving for even greater happiness. Self-coaching can teach you to cultivate a deeper awareness, spontaneity and enjoyment of life.
7–13: Restricted quality of life. You may be feeling a bit stressed out. Self-coaching can make a significant difference in your overall happiness.
14–20: Substantially compromised quality of life. You're likely feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety. Self-coaching can make a profound difference in your life experience.
Hey, this is YOUR life. How do you want to live it?
Self-coaching can be a start. At the very least it will start exposing your thoughts and then you can ask yourself, "How's that workin' for me?" If you don't like the answer, you are already changing your outcome.
If you need more, I'm always here! I can get you started and be your accountability partner as you start to own how you approach the way you look and feel about the circumstances in your life.
If not, you can just delete this email.
It's always your choice, beloved.
I am not my sisters keeper, I am my sister.
Much love, respect and support,