Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do you have a mental crap cupboard?

After a lovely breakfast in bed prepared by my teenage son I cleaned up the linen cupboard on Mother’s Day last. Not very glamorous, but revealing.

There’s a huge pile for the church jumble sale. What struck me was the excess; 2 feather quilts, 4 wool blankets, 5 sleeping bags, 10 pillows and cushions, 30 sheets, 16 pillowcases, 15 towels, 3 mattress protectors and a box of toys and clothes. It was a miracle the cupboard didn’t explode! How did this happen? How did I accumulate all this stuff I didn’t need?

I learnt a lot from cleaning the linen cupboard, because I think we all have crappy cupboards.... do you recognise these symptoms?
  • It’s been building up for years.
  • But you push it to the background, out of sight out of mind
  • It annoys you
  • But you never can manage the motivation to do something about it
  • It seems bigger than it is
  • It affects you every day (every time I went to that cupboard it was a nightmare)
  • It makes your life a misery
  • You tell yourself you’ll fix it tomorrow
  • It’s making your life messy
  • You don’t need it
  • But you hold onto it out of a false sense of security
  • You know how to fix it
This cupboard is an analogy for a lot of behaviour we do. Behaviour that doesn’t serve us but we seem incapable of changing.

If you are struggling with a crappy cupboard of your own.... weight loss, bad moods, anger, shyness, poor relationships, financial problems, etc... then it helps if you can understand, the problem isn’t the problem, it’s your behaviour that’s the problem.

The good news is you can change your behaviour. Psychologists have defined the steps of change that occur and you can use these to clean out your own emotional crap cupboards. First you have to believe three things;
  1. This must change NOW; link pain to NOT changing and pleasure to changing to help motivate action.
  2. I must change it now; take ownership /responsibility for the problem within yourself.
  3. I can change it; the past does not = the future, believe you can.
Then you must take action. Again there are 3 steps;
1. Leverage. Get leverage on yourself. Associate massive, immediate and unbearable levels of pain if you don’t change now.
Change is never a matter of ability, it is a matter of motivation.
If you CAN’T then you MUST
“Oh, I can’t do that” – watch out for the power of our words/thoughts.
“Oh, I could try that” - better words, but not fully committed.
“Oh, I could do that” – best effect, empowering and enabling.

2. Interpret the pattern
Be aware of what you are doing. To change a behaviour pattern, first you must recognise it. If you have been doing it for years, it may take doing something radical or ridiculous to jolt your awareness of the pattern. Set up something that you will do every time you start playing the old pattern. I know one person who would simply lie down on the ground! Very hard to take your old excuses seriously when you are horizontal unexpectedly in a public! This might not be for you, but you get the idea.... Before you start something new, recognise the old.

3. Create an empowering alternative, swap the bad habit for a good habit
Replace the old pattern with an empowering, more fulfilling, rewarding alternative. Reinforce, practice, and train yourself to do the new pattern, so you become addicted to it. That way you are not depriving yourself. For example I broke the coffee habit by replacing it with beautiful herbal teas. I didn’t deprive myself, I just replaced one bad habit with a good one. Now I love my green tea pot ritual. Replace don’t deny. It’s too hard to break an old pattern, just replace it with a new more rewarding pattern.

If it doesn’t work – don’t give up. Try again BUT do something different!

Stupidity is doing the same thing that didn’t work, over again.

Change, do again, doesn’t work, change, try something different. The massively successful are those who have had the most failures. Be persistent. Fail faster. Welcome your failures as lessons to be learned, dance with your fear of failure. Experience comes from bad experiences.

There are 5 elements of change, the chemistry of transformation. Remember addiction is a big scary word for a bad habit. Good news, you can get addicted to good habits
  1. Satiation – You really have had enough. If you haven’t, try overdosing on your bad thing.
  2. Get dissatisfied with the crap you are doing. It doesn’t give you the rewards anymore.
  3. Get to the threshold where change becomes an absolute MUST, don’t look backwards, look forwards.
  4. Get an insight, awareness of your bad habit/problem/issue and realize you can’t blame others , that you can do something yourself and that it will transform your life.
  5. Jump through the opening. Take action. Face your fears, dance with them. Do something, ring someone, pledge someone, break the cycle, replace the habit. Take massive action. People are rewarded in public from what they practice massively in private. Your crap cupboard is very private. You can talk the talk and never walk the walk.

I found an understanding of mastery helped me when I was making changes. There are 3 steps, and often we get stuck on step one!

1.Cognative Mastery. Intellectual understanding. Knowing is not enough. Everyone knows stuff they don’t do, or should do
2. Emotional Mastery. There are emotional consequences to what you know, and what you do.
• Do you remember where you were when 9/11 happened?
• When someone very dear or a loved one died?
The memory is clear because of the emotional intensity attached to the event. The more emotional intensity you can attach - the more you learn.
3. Physical Mastery. It gets into your body and once it gets into your body you can do it easily. Repetition also helps.

If you want to change the crap in your cupboard / behaviours that don’t serve you – write out all the reasons WHY it is a must. The Why comes FIRST. The How comes 2nd. Reasons come first – answers come 2nd. Once you know why you must do it, you work out how you can do it. Add emotions, the more intense the better.

Imagine what life would be like if you don’t change, double, triple and quadruple that feeling…. Imagine life when you do change, double, triple and quadruple that feeling….
Now you have emotional intensity to help motivate you. Emotions give you intensity. Intensity gives you leverage.

Involve other people. Find people who want you to improve and stick with them. You don’t need friends who only feel secure when you are doing bad stuff. Let them deal with their own crap cupboard.

Now I must run, I’m off to the church jumble sale. My linen excess will keep people warm this winter. That’s a great feeling. And I’m loving my new tidy cupboard. Life is so much more fulfilling, easy, rewarding, satisfying and happy, with clean cupboards!

All of these principles are made easy in 4me2realize. If you want to seriously change your life, get a system that makes it easier.

Kind regards


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