Once you are aware of what you are doing, the emotions you have and the impact of all of that in your world you have the ability to see new choices.
But, we don’t just want to make a new choice right away. Delay the choice making for a few seconds. A knee jerk recaction to your awareness may just cause another problem – reaction is just another action to something that you have just done. Instead, once you become aware I invite you to accept what is happening and where you are, and your responsibility for it. Acceptance is the second A and a step that bring you closer to planned action, or pro-active choices.
Every behaviour and emotion is useful in some context, and there is also a higher intention for everything. As you accept whatever is happening, this gives your conscious and unconscious mind a moment to pause, reflect and take control back.
You can identify the positive intention behind any behaviour or emotion by asking yourself these questions a few times:
- What is the positive intention of _____
For example, a few weeks ago I communicated with some food cravings I was having – which I really want hungry for and wasn’t assisting me to reach my goals. I can communicate with this symptom of craving by asking it “what is your intention”. Here is the conversation I had with the craving:
Me: Ah, a craving… thank you… I’m aware of you. What is your intention?
Craving: I want you to be fulfilled
Me: And what is the intention of being fulfilled?
Craving: When you are fulfilled you can relax
Me: And what is the intention of relaxing?
Craving: when you are relaxed you can sleep.
It dawned on me after this conversation with my craving that over the past week I had averaged 5-6 hours of sleep per night and I was grumpy, irritable and hungry! I know that I function best on 7-8 hours of sleep, and my food cravings were a symptom of me being sleepy!
Now, am I crazy to communicate with my symptoms? I’d be crazy not to!
There is a saying in NLP – when you know better, you can do better. And when I communicated with what is going on with me – I can then understand it and make better choices. I can use this tool to communicate with anything – emotions, physical pains, behaviours! It helps me to know better, therefore do better!
I have a client that suffers from anxiety. He used to have regular panic attacks and they would be so overwhelming that he would often take sick-leave from work. After working with him for a few sessions we learned that the anxiety he had came from an intention to keep himself safe. There were many triggers for his anxiety – dealing with the unknown, ambiguity, situations where he felt threatened, where he felt he may be judged and when he felt out of control.
The mind and body are amazing. When we feel in danger somehow our unconscious mind sets up biological signals to the body which engage the adrenals and we go into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Anxiety is an example of flight. Anger and rage are examples of fight mode and depression is an example of freeze.
When I ask my client what they do when they notice the flight – flight – freeze coming on, most of them tell me they try to push it away or run away. And, the more they try to push it away the stronger it pushes back or the faster it runs toward them.
Let’s look at it this way. Imagine my clients’ anxiety as if it were another person outside of them – with a sole responsibility of keeping that person safe. In fact, lets make this other person outside of them as a bodyguard. The job of the bodyguard is to keep its mark safe – at all times – with executive orders to never, ever, let anyone or anything stop it. Now, imagine that the ‘client’ feels threatened by having to meet new people at work that day and their unconscious beliefs kick in about being judged or threatened in some way and a small amount of anxiety kicks in.
As soon as that anxiety kicks in, this is a signal that the body guard has gotten to work. He is in hyper alert – making sure his client is safe. He elevates the blood pressure, increases the heart rate, swirls the thinking and churns the stomach of his client. He is the warning system that ‘you are not safe now – get ready to run’.
Sometimes the clients first reaction to this anxiety is to run – which in turn ensures the bodyguard he is doing a good job and the anxiety gets dialled up a few notches. Other times, the client notices the bodyguard go into motion and starts to fight back – the client starts to deny, defend, push the anxiety away. But, the body guard is under strict orders that under no circumstances can the client not be safe. In these situations, the anxiety gets dialled up a few notches.
In either situation, anxiety has the potential to move into a full-blown panic attack. When this is happening, the bodyguard is in full control and doing an excellent job of keeping his client out of harms way. He has won.
Here is what I invite my clients to do – when they feel the first prickling’s of the anxiety – accept it. Welcome it. Say “ah, there you are! Thank you bodyguard – sometime must be going on (inside or outside) of my awareness and you are here to keep me safe”. And then breathe. Breathe into the anxiety – the depression – the anger – the cravings. Welcome it. Let it do its job. Stop for a moment and allow your attention to focus on the here and now.
In the next post – we’ll be looking at the final A – Action!