Saturday, 31 May 2014

Keeping it Real

Can you tell the difference between what is real and what you have created internally?

Here's an example.  A few years ago I was on a one-day course.  Whilst I enjoyed the course I felt I was getting bad vibes from the trainer and I didn't like his style - it seemed quite egocentric.  This was reinforced when he also asked me to answer some tricky questions and laughed at one of my responses.  Luckily, there were two people on the course who I immediately gelled with and we enjoyed working together on a variety of exercises.

At the end of the course we were required to divide into small groups to work on some follow up assignments.  We three chose to stick together and selected a date in six weeks time to meet for the follow-up work. We corresponded intermittently in the meantime via email.

Two days before we were due to meet I emailed them both to confirm the arrangements for our meeting.  There was no response from either of them.  

I became progressively more grumpy.  In the absence of any information I began to create a scenario.  Boy, was I creative.  I decided that evil trainer-man (for that was now his given name) had contacted my two new pals and told them not to work with me as I was a bit rubbish.  They were following his instructions but weren't sure how to tell me this information - hence their silence.

Made perfect sense to me.  See how I linked everything together - genius.

As the evening progressed I became sure they weren't going to turn up the following day.  Should I even set off for the meeting?  I texted them both - no response.  I went to bed - despondent, stressed and upset.  For good measure I was also snapping at Manel.

The next morning, after sleeping badly, there was a text from one of my pals - he was really looking forward to our meeting.  The other friend texted as she was on the way to the venue.  We had a superb meeting - very productive and creative.  

They had both been mega busy the previous day and were totally committed to our meeting as soon as it had been arranged 6 weeks earlier.

I never told them of the story I created, I felt a bit daft.  

Look at the effect that the story had on me - I was grumpy, sullen, snappy and insecure.  The 'reality' I had created would have also impacted on my blood pressure and my whole body.

But none of it was true.  My subconscious mind didn't know the difference and therefore reacted to my creation which produced my behaviour.

What I'm trying to illustrate is how quickly the information we create can become our reality and the impact it has on our lives and behaviour.

Luckily I am now far more skilled and through applying techniques from my coaching toolbox, my self esteem is great and I use my creativity far more effectively. 

Here's an exercise.

Are you aware of stories you have created in your life that aren't true?  Often they are with you for so long that they become really embedded in your history - like a real Grimm fairytale.  Or maybe they are obstacles that stop you doing stuff.  

Think about the example above.  How did my beliefs and thinking create those feelings of grumpiness and insecurity?  

Are there areas in your life where you have created an unproductive reality which leaves you upset and despondent?  
  • Ask yourself if this could be a story that you have created?
  • What if it wasn't true?  
  • What would an alternative perspective look like?
Makes you think!  

Why not let the sunshine in?

Once you challenge your stories then things can start to shift, the story crumbles and you can see daylight.  I would explore an issue like this using Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy - I'll blog more about that in the future.

Cheers Ross