Saturday, May 29, 2010

From thinking to doing

Human behavior expert Theodore Bryant, author of the book “Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How to Go from Thinking to Doing”, has conducted self-discipline courses, workshops, and seminars for over a decade. He explains that everyone is made up of different selves. Often, your different sides want to go in different directions, which causes inner conflict. While part of you wants to clean the kitchen and balance the check book, another part of you wants to grab a bag of chips and a diet coke and veg out in front of the TV.

Bryant calls the side of you that tries to sabotage your efforts to be self-disciplined, Hyde. And, yes, the part of you that wants to be self-disciplined is Dr. Jekyll. The author cautions not to think of Hyde as an enemy, but, instead, he advises that you regard Hyde as a part of you which you’ll want to recruit to help you in your efforts to achieve your goals, resolutions, and objectives.

Here are some of the strategies you can use to overcome the resistance which Hyde will put up whenever you try to take action toward achieving your goals:

Excuses and Action Oriented Self-Talk

Whenever you hear yourself coming up with an excuse as to why you can’t take the steps necessary in order to accomplish a goal you’ve set for yourself, remind yourself that it’s just a tactic being used by Hyde to avoid doing the work. In order to counteract Hyde’s negativism, use action oriented self-talk.

Action oriented self-talk is positive, specific, and present tense. Suppose you tell yourself that you’re going to spend the next two hours organizing your closet. However, you get distracted by other things and, two hours later, you haven’t accomplished anything productive. What happened? Hyde started working on your subconscious to get you to do anything but clean your closet. What you need to do is replace Hyde’s self-defeating subconscious messages with positive, specific, present tense messages.

Once you make the decision to organize your closet, begin saying the following out loud: “I am now organizing my closet.” When you do this, the subconscious mind will turn all of its attention to organizing the closet, regardless of what you may actually be doing at the time. Your subconscious mind will begin sending messages to your motor functions, emotions, and other members of your physical and psychological network that will be in line with organizing your closet. In addition, it will begin to look for ways to organize your closet.

Here’s an example used by Bryant: You’re sitting in your favorite chair reading a magazine. Part of you begins to think that your time could be used more productively by working on that eBook you’ve been meaning to write. However, Hyde begins to say: “I’m reading a magazine.” Therefore, your subconscious turns all of its resources toward reading the magazine. At this point, Dr. Jekyll needs to say: “I’m working on my eBook.” Now, your subconscious will begin to point its resources toward working on your eBook:

* You’ll begin to feel agitated as you sit there leafing through the magazine.
* You’ll start getting ideas for things to include in your eBook.
* You’ll feel like getting up, sitting at your desk, turning on your computer, and getting to work on your eBook.
* As long as you keep repeating your positive, specific, present tense message, you’ll feel compelled to work on your eBook. Repetition is the key to success.
* If you say it out loud, it will be even more powerful than simply repeating it silently.

Hyde might try to convince you that you will take action to achieve your goals; you’ll just do it later. After all, if you want to start exercising you’ll need a new jogging outfit. You can’t possibly be seen in any of the old work out pants and ratty t-shirts you have in your closet. And in order to buy new exercise clothes, you first have to pay off your credit card balance in full. After all, getting out of debt is another one of your goals. So, you see, exercising is not something you can do at the moment. But you’ll do it later. (Hyde is quite devious.)

The tactic to use here is to question whether there’s a legitimate reason to delay getting started, or if it sounds suspiciously like one of Hyde’s clever excuses. Remember, Hyde is like a little kid who will come up with all sorts of ruses to avoid his parents’ orders to clean his room. It’s perfectly fine for you to exercise in the clothes you already have; the perceived obstacle of needing a new jogging suit is just Hyde trying to trick you into spending an hour surfing the Internet instead of exercising.

Fear of Failure

Bryant points out that study after study has shown that the greatest obstacle to personal success is fear of failure. The pain of past failures lingers in the shadows of your subconscious, reminding you of how awful you felt the last time you failed. Why would you want to set yourself up to feeling like that again by pursuing a new goal? Just sit back and enjoy your TV show. Go ahead, put your feet up on the coffee table. You could even grab that pint of Rocky Road ice cream you have in the freezer. That feels nice and safe, doesn’t it?

We’ve been trained by society that failing is shameful. Is it any mystery, then, that we’re so reluctant to attempt anything at which we can’t be sure of succeeding? When part of us wants to do something, and part of us is dragging its feet because it’s terrified of failing, it’s like trying to drive a car with the handbrake on. In order to succeed at achieving your goals, you have to fully invest yourself in the task at hand.

The trick here is to separate your performance on a given task from how you feel about yourself. You probably have a tendency to say to yourself: “If I fail at this, I’m a failure.” You need to begin regarding failure as evidence of experimentation and attempts at self-growth, instead of seeing it as a blow to your self-esteem. Refuse to link failure to how you feel about yourself. As Bryant points out, failure is not a tombstone, but a stepping stone to success.


You’ve known for a while that you have a Hyde lurking around in your subconscious, haven’t you? After all, how many times have you made goals and resolutions with the best of intentions to follow through, only to find that you never get started, or that you leave things half-finished? Bryant offers many more clues in “Self-Discipline in 10 Days” on how to recognize Hyde’s attempts at sabotaging your efforts, and what to do about it.

What types of things have you caught Hyde doing to try and prevent you from getting things done, or to stop you from taking the risks you need to take in order to accomplish your dreams?

This article is a reprint from one of my favorite blogs . . .


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