Way too often we get so tied up with everything bad that is going on in our lives and continue to enter into these conversation that are in conflict with what is going on. We invest all of our energy into the problem and almost no energy on the solutions to our problem.
This is a common habit that most of us get into at one point or another in our lives, or perhaps most of the time, as the case may be.
But a funny thing happens when you begin to shift that focus onto finding solutions to your problems, and that is, you start to find solutions to your problems.
If you have ever worked in the business arena, you may have experienced that it is commonplace for the managers of a company to get together on a regular basis and start working on setting targets (aims) and brainstorming all the different ways to reach this aim.
They spend a lot of time researching, talking, strategising and planning what they are going to do. You don’t see them setting up meetings so that they can sit around and complain about what isn’t happening and how they wished that the sales would increase and how their competitors aren’t letting them be the biggest industry in their field. What good would that do them? How productive would that be?
So why do we do this in our lives? Why do we think that we can just sit around and moan about the experiences we are having without using the same fundamental business principles of setting targets and achieving them?
Well in this week, this is exactly what we are going to start doing with your aims. There’s no point allowing yourself to get tied up in conversations that are in conflict with your present reality. It will just keep you stuck where you are.
It’s time to start shifting your attention to the ‘how to’ part of achieving the aims that you set last week.
To do this, you need to first start focussing on your aim. Continuing with your affirmations that you set last week is a great way to start because you are teaching your mind to think about what you want habitually.
However, affirmations are only the beginning of getting to your aim. This helps you to focus in on your aim. What happens next, is that because your attention is on what you want, your brain starts to automatically search for ways for you to get what you want.
Remember the analogy of buying your new car? You start to see your new car everywhere, right? That’s not because all of a sudden there are loads of your type of new car out on the road. It’s simply because this is where you have your attention focussed.
We’re going to use this same analogy this week for you to focus on your goals and start to notice all of the possible pathways that are available that will take you to your aims.
For example, let’s say that one of your aims is to get your child into a sleep routine. You are clear in your mind about the realities surrounding this aim (for example, I cannot control my child’s behaviour, my child is going through a developmental stage that will pass soon enough), however you want to find some sleep techniques that will accelerate this developmental stage and hopefully get you and your child a lot more sleep.
In the recent past, you may have been getting overwhelmed with your child’s crying, your inability to settle him/her, the amount of time that you are spending in the nursery instead of doing all the other chores that you are supposed to be doing etc, however this is not what we do in business. This kind of thinking is only going to lead to further stress and is in complete conflict with the reality of what is actually going on right now.
What you want to do is start to shift your focus, first to the reality of the situation (“this is a developmental stage”), then to your aim (“find a sleep routine that accelerates this developmental phase”) and now onto asking yourself ‘how am I going to do that?’
Ask yourself: Are there babies in the world that sleep well at the age that your child currently is? Did all of these babies learn to do this by themselves, or did their mothers have to find sleep routines that helped them? So if this is a possibility, is it also possible that there may be information out there that could help me? If other mothers have experienced the same thing that I am experiencing, then is it possible that I could learn off someone who has already been and done this? Where can I find this information.
The reality is that everybody experiences problems in their lives and everybody has overcome one problem or another in their life and have moved on. More often than not there will always be someone out there who has gone through your current challenge and has information that you can learn from. All you have to do is seek out that information. You can’t do this, if your attention is in conflict that this event is even happening and if you are wishing that it wasn’t all the time. Because the reality is that this event is occurring, so what are you going to do about it? Where are you going to get the information and the knowledge required to move through this challenge in your life.
Because remember, this event is not happening because you are useless, stupid or worthless. It is happening because sometimes we come across challenges in our lives. That’s it. We learn from these challenges by getting new information and applying it to our lives. Sometimes it takes us ages to get these lesson because we spend too much time focussing on the problem and not the solution.
In this program, and in particular, the final three steps of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process, I am encouraging you to accelerate the amount of time you spend having to experience challenges, by actively seeking out the information you need to move you out of this stage of your life quicker.
When using the example of getting your child into a sleep routine, it is easy to see that the solutions to this problem lie in books, advice from other mothers, parenting forums, internet, child health nurses and helplines etc and most of us would naturally gravitate towards this solution focussed thinking, because we are desparately trying to get more sleep!!
So in this case, it’s important to keep a level head about the situation while you are seeking and applying this new information. This is not happening because you are doing anything wrong. It is happening because you don’t have the information to deal with it yet and your child is going through a learning phase themselves. You are learning more about life through this challenge.
However, what about other issues. Would you actively seek out the information you need to improve your relationship if it were struggling? Would you actively try to learn how to communicate better, be more compassionate, how to negotiate and set goals for your relationship? Where would you find that information?
What about goals to overcome depression? Have you actively sought out all of the information and created a specific plan to overcome this too? There is more than one way to help you overcome depression. Have you tried all of them, or at least investigated all of your options?
The same applies to problems such as experiences of tantrums, money struggles, social issues, time management, troubles being organised, being able to show affection etc. Whatever your issue is, there is a solution that lies out there somewhere waiting to join the current information you hold about life.
All you need to do, is start searching for it – actively seeking out the information that you need to move you out of your current issue faster.
You see, no one knows all there is to know about life. We are all learning off each other because we all have different experiences that can benefit someone else and help them. In fact that is how our entire society works. Electricians spend years learn about electricity so that people will pay them to work on their homes. Child care workers train in learning how to work with children and have a wealth of knowledge about raising children, drug addicts get through their addictions and then volunteer to help other people get their lives together again. We are all sharing what we know with one another and all learning something too.
The reason why ‘Choices’ is the fourth step of the TRACK process, is because you are starting to focus on what choices, options and solutions you have for dealing with your problem and moving towards your solution.
The first part to getting towards your aim is to look at ‘how‘ you are going to get there. What are all the possibilities that you can find – the options you can find that you think will lead you to where you want to go. What techniques are out there that will help you to teach your child to sleep? What are other mums doing who are or have been faced with this problem?
Investigate all of the possibilities that you can find that will lead you in the direction of your aim and then list them all so that you can decide on which option you are going to choose. Later on in this week we are going to start having a look at why you would choose one option over another. As you know already, priority beliefs AT THE TIME are what dictate the decisions you make and the actions you take, so conscious consideration of what’s going on in your mind about each option is needed to be considered before making your final decision.
Last week you wrote quite a few aims for yourself. You wrote situation aims (that is aims that will help you move out of your current issues), parenting aims for the kind of parent you would like to be, life aims that determined what sort of life you would like to lead and the experience you would like to enjoy, and finally your self-worth aims where you determined the kind of person you would like to be and that would make you feel good about yourself.
Now, that is quite a few goals, so you may be starting to feel a little overwhelmed now that we have got to the ‘how to’ part of achieving your aims.
Don’t worry, we are not going to go for all these goals at once. More often than not, you will find that a lot of the parenting aims, life aims (at least the general ones) and the self-worth aims will probably seem all that closer when you start to tackle some of your situation goals.
Remember that your bigger picture goals are ones that we continue to aspire to. When you achieve your smaller picture aims, often you learn a lot about yourself and your capabilities that naturally add to your knowledge of getting the bigger picture aims.
Sometimes the bigger picture aims are your situation aims. For example, being angry all the time at the kids, where as your bigger picture aim is to be a calm, loving natural parent. That’s okay, then work on this aim.
What you want to do first, is choose your top three aims that are causing you the most grief right now and work on them. If you can, choose one aim from each level of issue (for example a minor issue, a moderate issue and a major issue).
As we continue through this week, I am going to show you quite a few examples of how to research your options by actively seeking the information you need to move out of this issue, we’re going to explore in great detail all of these options and we’re going to look at the beliefs that drive you to choose one option over another.
For today though, just pick out your top three aims that you wish to go for right now and over the next 24 hours before your next lesson, begin contemplating some potential solutions/options and think about where you might find more information that will give you even more potential solutions/options that will lead you to your aim.
In my life, I have had the privilege of meeting Wayne Parrot. He is the founder of The Anti-depression association of Australia and has become a very dear friend to me.
What has struck me most about this man is his enthusiasm for life and his ‘can do’ attitude. Recently Wayne was diagnosed with secondary lung cancer. He had a 7cm tumour right next to his aorta and had been given a sentence of just 90 days live. He was told to go home and spend time with his family as there was very little doctors could do for him.
In his usual ‘Wayne Parrot fashion’ which I have learnt to love so much and be hugely inspired by, he would not take this diagnosis as gospel and he began his search for finding other solutions to his ‘problem’.
I guess you could say that his aim was to live and he embarked on the ‘how to’ part of his journey that led him to learning so much about cancer, that he has now started to share this information with other people and Australian doctors, so they can learn and change their diagnosis’ too.
What’s more, this journey has now led to this tumour being completely annihilated and his life sentence being reinstated as ‘unknown’, just like the rest of us.
What did he do? He researched. He learnt. He applied the information he found to his life. He became committed to his aim to live and did whatever he had to do to reach this goal of staying alive and not giving into the beliefs of other people, whose only crime was to believe in the knowledge that they had as being the only truth out there.
We do this all the time. We accept what others have told us as true without actually looking at whether these beliefs are right for us. Wayne began doing what I’m telling you to do with your aims, he started researching, learning and seeking out people to help him actively seek out the knowledge he needed to move him through this issue…and the outcome was? He got his life back.
This could be you. You may not have cancer, but you are at a place in your life where something has taken over you and threatens to take away your quality of life – your happiness, your passion or your enthusiasm for life.
Now you can either take it laying down, or you could start finding ways to move through it, just like Wayne did.
There is more to this story that I’d like to share with you. Not long ago I spoke to Wayne about what he has been doing to treat his cancer and overcome it and he shared with me all of the many different things that he was doing as part of his treatment. He said that what he’d learnt was that 90% of what Australian doctors know about cancer has turned out to be untrue.
He also mentioned that people would often come up and say to him things like: ‘I am eating asparagus in my diet and that is helping my cancer.’ His reply was: “Great! That’s one of about 80 different things that you should be doing.”
80 different things! The answer to Wayne’s cancer wasn’t just to have chemo and/or radiation. He was treating his cancer with nutrition, traditional medical treatment, juices, coffee enemas, stem cell growth, new treatments that were still in their testing phase, treatments that the Australian head oncologist said was a scam and wouldn’t work (which proved to be instrumental in his recovery). He wasn’t just using the advice of one doctor, he worked with many doctors all over the world and became the facilitator of his own treatment, meeting with them to discuss and decide the best course of treatment for him.
He become fully educated about all of the options that were available for him to meet his aim for staying alive and he became fully engaged with the actions that he needed to apply to get him where he wanted to go. Now none of this was easy for him. There were many times where he was sick, nauseous, away from loved ones, scared and generally going through the ups and downs of wondering whether any of this was going to pay off.
But with knowledge, persistence, commitment and applying the information that he sought out, he has achieved his aim of being cancer free. Although his cancer journey has not ended (his aim now is to stop any further cancers from re-appearing), he has achieved such an inspirational milestone that I think leave most of us in awe.
I am hoping by now you are starting to see some common threads between this story and what I’m teaching you about researching and finding solutions to your goal. When you start searching for solutions, instead of remaining stuck in the problem, you start to make progress towards your aims. When you begin actively seeking the information you need to propel you to the next level of your life, you begin to progress towards your aims.
The second point I would like to highlight is how many different things Wayne was doing to get to his aim. 80 different things! There were many factors involved that he was required to do in order to live (reach his aim). Sometime there isn’t always just one solution to your problem. Sometimes it requires many different strategies that you need to educate yourself on and implement into your life. This is where having a plan comes in (step Five of the TRACK Process).
But before you establish a plan, you must first establish your options, which is what this step of the process is about – establishing your choices, your options and potential solutions and deciding which one/s are the best for you and your situation.
For example, if you were having marital issues, then you cannot expect that there will only be one solution. There are many different aspects to this problem that need to be dealt with individually and there are many things that both you and your partner need to actively learn in order to take you to a new and happier level of your relationship.
Here are just a few potential solutions:
This list is just few things off the top of my head that may need to happen to reach your aim of having a happy, harmonious relationship with your partner. How do you begin acting on these things if you don’t have the knowledge? We only ever know what we know and most of the time it was limited information that caused the issues to occur in the first place. Now what is required, is more information that will see you through to the other side of this issue.
Let’s have a look at another simple issue that many of us deal with as mothers – A child not sleeping.
In order to deal with this issue and get to the other side of it, we need information on how to:
You can see that when you start seeking out what is required to get what you want, there are lots of things that you need to consider in order to establish the ‘right action to take’. Let’s look at one more example – your depression.
Something that stuck out to me when reading Wayne’s blog about his cancer journey (you can read about it here), was a comment that a doctor made. His name is Dr Greg Wren and he says:
“The problem in medicine is that everybody has different genes, health, type and advancement of cancers, reaction or resistance to treatments, and it means there will never be a fully effective standard treatment for everyone. This means that to be safe, you are best to throw everything at it both natural and traditional, but knowing how, when, and in what order to do it is an unknown.”
So many medical professionals are so busy that they just do not have the time to give patients the unique, individual care that they require. It is quicker and generally more effective to prescribe medication and send their clients on their way knowing that the medication will at least provide some relief for them. Now I’m not saying that health care professionals don’t care about their patients. I’m simply saying that, as Dr Wren has said, everyone is different and it would take a lot of time to individually establish an appropriate treatment plan for each individual patient that incorporated all aspects and possibilities available to assist their patients. Medication is the most standard treatment of depression that helps the majority of patients.
However, as Dr Wren also suggests, everybody has different genes, health and types of (in this case) depressions, and in my opinion, different triggers, beliefs and circumstances that occur to send you into depression. The answer to overcoming depression will be individualised for you to.
What you want to do though, is to actively seek out the information you need on ALL the different treatments available for treating depression. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I believe that it first occurred through incorrect belief systems set up in childhoood that effect how we view the world that is creating this imbalance, and this can be corrected, however you still have the issue of the physical chemical imbalance that needs help in correcting too. While changing your thoughts is a major part of change, there are many other avenues of help that you can seek out in order to treat this imbalance that work alongside changing your mindset. Other things you may find useful to investigate are:
All of the things mentioned above work alongside changing your mindset. The mind/body connection is huge. Remember how you feel when you see a spider? Your thoughts create a physcial sensation in your body. Likewise when you correct the imperfections within the body, with nutrition, exercise etc, it becomes easier to apply the new way of thinking that you are learning in this program. It all connects and all aspects should be given equal importance.
Similarly, there is also a place for medication during the process of changing your mindset too. Sometimes your thought processes have led to such a strong chemical imbalance that you physically lack the ability to learn or retain new informatin on how to think differently. Sometimes medication is an integral part of allowing your consciousness to get to a level where you can be given this new education on self-worth and a healthy view of life and to allow the time for the other things that you implement (supplements, exercise, diet etc) to take effect.
This is why I say to never stop any medications that you are on without your doctor’s approval. Instead, tell him/her the work you’ve been doing on your mindset and how much better you are feeling and work with them on establishing your best treatment, just like Wayne did.
Conversely, educate yourself on all treatments, medications and what you believe is best for you and work with your doctor on an appropriate treatment, instead of handing the power of your recovery over to someone else. You have a vested interest in your recovery. You have an aim to get better. They don’t. They only have the information that they know and perhaps that’s not everything there is to know about treating your individual, unique depression. If Wayne had just gone with the information that one or several Australian doctors knew from their experience of cancer, he would no longer be in this world.
You need to take responsibility for your life, for your depression and for your situation. Actively seek out the information YOU need to assist you in your recovery, then use experts and professionals to help you to initial an individual and appropriate plan of action that works with your knowledge of the situation and their expert knowledge of depression.
Education is key. Knowledge is power. Seek and ye shall find. Put your attention on solutions to your problems and you will find solutions to your problems.
I’m hoping by now that I have really emphasised the point I’m making about how important it is to research the solutions to your problems by exploring, questioning and seeking answers even when others don’t think there are any.
As I mentioned, there is often always someone else out there who has overcome your issue, whether it is a minor issue or a major issue. Learn off them. Learn what they have done to be successful in this area of their life and then apply that knowledge to your life.
There may not just be one solution, there may be many solutions and in the last step of this TRACK process – Know your plan & Action it, you will learn how to pull all of these solutions together to create a do-able plan that will help you to work towards you aims.
For now though, your job is to go and collect this information and sort through all of the potential solutions to your problems. In tomorrow’s lesson I am going to teach you how to do this.
Today it’s time to start contemplating what solutions and options are available for you to start moving towards your three most important aims that are causing you grief right now. One from your minor issues, one from your moderate issues and one from your major issues.
It’s important to start small and only concentrate on three of your aims so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed with trying to change too many things at once.
Chances are that the minor issue will be the one that will be the easiest to deal with, as it’s probably got less emotional charge attached to it. So let’s begin there. With your minor issue in mind, consider the following questions:
When you start to put your attention on answers, you will be surprised at all the things that come up as potential solutions to overcoming these problems. Just start listing them all and see how many you can come up with. Here are a few examples to get you going:
My child is having a lot of tantrums
Potential solutions: Learn a discipline technique for handling the behaviour, ignore her and keep doing what I’m doing, throw myself on the floor and kick and scream too to see what she does, distract her, see the funny side of tantrums, give myself some time out, plan my next activity, whenever she’s having a tantrum, imagine I am on holiday at my favourite destination, think about all the fun times I have with her and how much I love her, take her for a walk outside, go outside for some fresh air after putting her somewhere safe to scream it out, put some of my happy music on, write a list of all the quick things that I could do to help me get through these tantrums.
I don’t have any support around me
Potential solutions: Find a local support group for mums. Join a social club that I can attend weekly and get a friend/relative/babysitter to look after my children, join a mother’s group, see my community centre for activities for kids so that I can get to know others, look into occassional care or child care options, go to the park to meet new people, allow myself to ask for help, make sure when the kids are asleep I do something fulfilling sometimes so that I feel like I am getting ‘time to myself’, let the housework go sometimes and opt for ‘me’ activities that I can do around the kids.
I don’t want to work full-time anymore, but we need the money
Potential solutions: Compromise on lifestyle, sell an asset, research work at home opportunities, find out if your job can be worked at from home some or all of the time, look for another job that is better pay for less hours worked, take some holidays in order to work out what you want, study something new, if you can’t afford to study, look into scholarships or funded programs, keep an eye out for other jobs that may come up doing something different, apply for that new part-time job anyway, even if it’s not in your field of experience, seriously consider and re-prioritise your budget to see if you can stop work or reduce hours, even if it’s temporary until you find something else or build a new business, take a loan out so that you can build your dream business.
I’m bored at home all day with the kids
Potential solutions: Plan activities to get you out of the house, plan activities that are just for you but can be integrated into your day with the kids, play your music sometimes too, do your housework while listening to the ipod, take up a new hobby, explore fun games that you can play with the kids that you might enjoy too, join mother’s groups to get adult interaction, Learn to cook, go for a walk, go shopping, try a new hairstyle, stop doing the housework and do something that you enjoy to break the monotony, set your child up with an activity and read your book instead of doing the housework. Create a schedule that incorporates all your chores, play time with your kids and time for you (both while you are looking after the kids and outside of looking after the kids).
Once you begin to brainstorm all of the possibilities to your issue, you will be surprised by just how many solutions pop up in your mind. It’s okay that some of them may not seem do-able right now, just list them anyway, because sometimes these are the very choices that end up being the most appropriate ones. When you have as many possibilities listed as possible, move onto the next question:
Educate yourself. Where are the resources you need to help you learn how to handle this situation? Could I find them on the internet? Are they in library books? Can I call a child health nurse (if it is child related)? Can I call lifeline or visit a community information centre to get information on services that may be able to support me (for example if you were planning on leaving a relationship).
What you want to do in this Choices step of the TRACK process is to arm yourself with information. Seek out all of the resources that you can find that apply to your situation and that may create the pathway towards meeting your goals.
Explore some of the possibilities of the listed potential solutions and arm yourself with information on whether this option may just work for you.
Here are some examples:
My child is tantruming a lot
Perhaps you have been feeling overwhelmed by this behaviour, unsure whether you are handling it the ‘right’ way. While there is not real right or wrong way to handle tantrums (unless you are hurting your child of course) there are easier ways to handle tantrums. Research as many different ways as possible for dealing with this situation and look for what works and what doesn’t and why the resourced experts think it does or doesn’t work. This is going to give you information that will help you to make your decision on which approach to take. You can find this information in the plethora of parenting books available, internet parenting forums, parent help phone lines, child health nurses and parenting courses that you can attend that will teach you how to handle these situations calmly and also, teach your child not to tantrum, thereby accelerating their development through this stage.
I don’t have any support around me
This is where we need to get out of our ‘woe is me’ and start picking up the phone to see what services there are available for mums in your area. Husbands are not the be all and end all of support for mums, nor is immediate family. There are many women who are either single mums, or have husbands who work away from home or work long hours. You need to engage in a solution focussed approach by actively seeking services that may be able to help you in this area – for example, childcare, occassional care, neighbours, friends etc. Also seek out books, parenting blogs etc that touch on this issue that may provide other potential solutions.
I don’t want to work full-time anymore but we need the money
On a surface level it may look like you have no choice but to work full-time and put up with it, however until you start actively seeking out resources that show you an alternative, you will never see what else is out there. Look up career websites, job networks, job advertisements, new career prospects, new business opportunities etc
I’m bored at home all day with the kids
Research interesting activities for mums on websites, in newspapers in your area, community notice boards. What mother’s clubs are available in your area? What parks are there around that probably have other bored mums there that you could strike up a conversation with.
Now start to look for what other people are doing to overcome your issue. Learn off other people’s adversities and let them give you their advice. Whether it be stories from celebrities or strangers, or whether you simply sit down for a cup of coffee with a friend who has had experience with your problem, or with a new acquaintence that you have come to learn went through your issue. There is a lot to be learnt from other people if you just take the time to listen to their stories.
Parenting forums are great for this if you are dealing with a child development issue. Money making websites have blogs and forums that help you to make money, start a new business or learn how to be a work from home mum. Read books and biographies that show you how someone went through a particular adversity and how they got to the other side.
Even if you find that their solutions don’t work for you, reading the stories of other people overcoming the issues that you have too can be incredibly motivating for you to remember that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and you too will see the other side of it soon enough.
Once you have thoroughly explored all of the potential options and solutions that may be available (whether do-able, feasible or not), list ALL of them down together, as tomorrow you are going to have a look through this list and review which ones could be the next course of action to take and why.
Tomorrow we will look again at the priority beliefs that govern your choices and why this is important when assessing your options. If you haven’t done so already, go back through these questions and list all the potential solutions to all three of your issues that you are tackling this week – the minor, the moderate and the major issue that you chose to work on.
Every decision you’ve made and action you’ve taken in the past, has been due to the priority AT THE TIME of making that decision. Whenever we choose one option over another, we weigh everything up against our beliefs and the information we have and decide what works best AT THAT TIME.
Behind every decision, there is always an intention to maintain our life’s worth, or our self-worth.
Now that may seem like a really bold statement to make, as it makes us sound like very selfish creatures. You may argue that you often put yourself last and do things for others when you would preferred to have been self-indulgent. It may seem to you that this statement about our intention being about ourselves, is wrong. However, when you really look behind the reasons why you choose something, it will always come back to the payoff you get for making that decision.
For example, you may constantly do huge amounts for your children, keep a clean house and invest loads of time do everything for everyone else. Logically you would much prefer to just sit down and put your feet up, rather than do these things. So on the surface it’s difficult to see that your intention has anything to do with your self-worth or your life’s value.
But look closer and you will find that there is indeed something in it for you. When asked why you would do these things when you don’t really want to, your answer may be because:
All of these reasons have your best interests at heart. All of the beliefs we have are rated on how important they are. Your belief on keeping a clean house and therefore defining you as a ‘good mum’, is rated as more important than sitting down and putting your feet up. Even though that is what you would like to do, you don’t do it because cleaning the house and maintaining your ‘good mum’ status (in your mind) is the priority AT THAT TIME.
It works a bit like this diagram below:
You can see that keeping the house clean is the overall priority that makes you feel like a worthy, valuable person and that putting your feet up and relaxing comes a close second.
Although you have overall beliefs that this ‘should’ be the case, this order of priorities can easily change. Let’s say you have been having a particularly rough day with the kids. They have been fighting, crying, whinging, you’ve not stopped picking up after them, you’ve had very little sleep from the night before and you are exhausted. In the middle of the day, you find that one child is having their day nap and the other is fully engrossed in playing with her dolls. You might think to yourself “I deserve a break”. IN THIS MOMENT your priorities changed. Suddenly, your rated beliefs looks like this:
This is because your mind assessed the CURRENT situation and based on the INFORMATION you had AT THAT TIME, you assessed that you are tired and exhausted now and in order to feel good again (worthy/valuable) then your priority was to relax and put your feet up while you could. This time the house cleaning came second, even though you would rate housework as a top priority normally.
We only ever make decisions based on the information we have AT THE TIME of the event, and we always take the priority belief that has been activated as the most important one AT THAT TIME. Every decision you have ever made and every behaviour that you have ever displayed, has came from a priority that you had which was governed by your beliefs.
If you are mistreated by somebody over a period of time, there is a priority for you to be putting up with it. If your kids are taking advantage of you, then you have a priority for continually allowing them to take advantage of you. Perhaps in some way it validates your worth for them to need you so much. Perhaps, your priority triangle looks like this:
Because of beliefs you have about your current self-worth and how it is defined, you believe that your worth is determined by other people’s behaviours. Seeing evidence that others need you makes you feel wanted. Getting approved of by others makes you feel good about yourself. With these two self-worth beliefs running, you are always going to choose and allow behaviours that are going to make you feel good.
Your priority for letting the kids disrespect you or your husband, as the case may be, may come from this need to feel wanted and approved of. It’s not that you don’t want to be respected, because you do. That is a priority on this list too , however it is superseded by your rating that it is more important for the survival of your self-worth for you to feel wanted and approved of.
This is only an example of the beliefs that may be causing your current situation to continue to occur, however it illustrates how IN EVERY MOMENT we are always operating in the best interests of ourselves (giving us a payoff) and operating through our priority beliefs – that is what we rate as the most important AT THAT TIME. This can continually change depending on the situation, the current information that you have at the time and your assessment of the situation.
Here’s one more example to illustrate this point:
It may be a priority for you to have a clean house when your husband comes home from work. However you get a telephone call from a friend who is upset and you have a decision to make in that moment. Do I tell her I can’t talk as I have to clean the house, or do I stop what I’m doing and give her some support? Your beliefs about either option will determine which way you go because there will always be a priority belief activated IN THAT MOMENT that will dictate which option you choose. Perhaps the clean house makes you feel like a good wife and mother, and on the other hand, being able to support and help your friend makes you feel like a good person.
In both scenarios, there is a payoff for you to be feeling good, but which one do you go for? It all depends on which one holds more importance in your mind IN THAT MOMENT – feeling like a good, supportive friend or feeling like a good wife and mother?
It’s possible that in hindsight we can regret our decisions. We receive new information as time goes on and then find that perhaps a different decision might have been a better way to go. But you didn’t know that information then, or it wasn’t a priority in that moment. You only ever know what you know at any given moment, and when you make a decision you assess the situation according to your current beliefs and the current information you have. This current information that I keep talking about comes in the form of what you get from your senses (eg what you see, what you hear etc), from the memories you have, learning that you have received from past experiences and any other beliefs that seem to link to what is currently happening in your present situation. Very quickly, the brain assesses all of these things and determines what you believe about the situation and how to respond.
You can only ever have the information you do at any given moment to help you to make the best choice IN THAT MOMENT – that is, the choice that’s going to be in your best interests.
The more you can become aware of your thinking and the beliefs that drive your choices, the more objective or deliberate you can be about making decisions. We can use this information about priority beliefs when making your choices as to how you are going to start achieving your goals.
You are at where you are at in your life because of how everything has unfolded in the past leading up to now. Some of this was enjoyable, some of it was not. What we are trying to do now, is deliberately set aims for the way we would like our lives to be and gather new information that will take us to these aims.
Throughout this whole Mind TRACK to Happiness process, we are always looking at how we are thinking and trying to align it with the reality thinking model. We are trying to keep our thoughts in alignment with the reality of the situation (what is actually happening), the reality of being a parent (the ups and downs, the learning we get and the normal development of our children), the reality of life (its ups and downs, how we learn and grow, finding the hidden good in the bad etc) and finally the reality of self-worth (understanding that your worth comes from your existence, because you are here alive in this world contributing who you are and what you know, learning more and then contributing more of what you’ve learnt through your interactions with others. Other people’s development depends on your influence in their lives and your development depends on their contributions to your life. This is what defines the reality of self-worth).
When using this choices step of the TRACK process, it is important to assess what you are thinking about the options that you are considering when working towards your aim. There will be beliefs that drive you to choose one option over another. There will be beliefs that disregard one option in favour of another. There will be beliefs that will reject an option you have, that may just be the very option that works.
By consciously assessing what we think about our options, what our priorities are for choosing one option over another and what our opinions are about our options, and then assessing whether this thinking is in conflict with reality, or even if it is in conflict with our bigger picture aims, we can objectively decide on the best course of action to take.
So far this week, you have begun to look into some options/solutions for getting you closer to your aims and now it’s time to look closer at these potential solutions and consider whether they are the solutions that will help you and your particular situation.
What I have been teaching you to do in this week’s lesson so far, is educate yourself on what can be done to solve your problems. You got to where you currently are with the information that you currently had. You cannot know more than you currently do and when you give yourself more information, you can then make different decisions. This is what I want you to start doing – realise that you had certain information that led you to making decisions in the past and right now is where it has led you. You now require more information that will lead you to someplace else.
For example, let’s say that you have children who yell, fight, speak to you rudely and generally have no respect for you or their things. Understand that this has been taught to them over time and kids will not change unless they are taught to change. By the same token, there is a reason why you have allowed them to behave in this way. You may say that you didn’t know how to stop it, and that’s fine, but if you want to change their behaviour, you must learn how to stop it. Not knowing how to change something is no excuse for leaving it the way that it is. Learn how to implement change, then apply it to your life.
Also, there has been a priority for why you have not sought out the information that you needed to make these changes until now. Perhaps at some level you don’t want to give them discipline because you are scared that they won’t love you. Perhaps you had a strong disciplinarian in your family and you swore that you were never going to be that way. This may be your priority belief for letting your kids run amok in your house.
Behind every choice, circumstance or behaviour, there is a priority belief behind it, and it will always come back to you and what your pay off is (that is how it benefits your self-worth or quality of life). If you want to change, then look at why you do the things that you do and consciously look at what your beliefs are about the potential choices, options and solutions that you have for overcoming a situation or problem.
So now that you have a list of potential solutions to your problem, it’s now time to assess them and think about which options you are happy to give a go and which ones you are going to ditch.
In your workbooks, create two columns and write on one side, all of the options that you would like to use, and on the other side, the options that you would not like to use.
Take the column of options that you want to use and write down your answers to the following questions:
Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims?
What steps you take next, is not just about solving your problem and achieving your situation’s aims. You want to think bigger. In last week’s lessons, you created an outline of the LIFE that you want to live. If you want to live that life, then everything that you do in your life needs to start aligning to this bigger picture. You have to start thinking like a person who really wants to create their ideal life and you need to start taking action towards having that life. If any of your options do not align with your bigger picture aims, then they need to be revisited.
What reservations do you have about any of your aims? What are your ‘buts’ when it comes to the thought of implementing these options into your life? (for example, ‘but I won’t have time to do that’)
What can you do to overcome this ‘but’?
Think about ways to get around your road block of thoughts. Self-doubt is bound to kick in when you are trying to change things in your life, so it is important to keep challenging your thinking and finding ways to overcome what your mind sees as a problem (for example, ‘but I won’t have time’ may become ‘so I will write up a schedule to incorporate all that I need to do, including these options’). Write down as many ways as you can for overcoming this objection to any of the options you would like to use. If you get stuck, perhaps you need to do some more research in how to overcome this block. This is all part of gathering the information you need to make changes.
What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options?
Assess what you’re thoughts are about using these options that you have listed. What are your opinions? What do you expect the outcome to be for using these options and how will it benefit you? Asking this question will highlight any misaligned thinking or thinking that is in conflict with the reality of true self-worth (for example, ‘make him realise that what he’s doing is wrong’ – this is all about making you right and him wrong, which is counterproductive and could potentially cause more conflict. After honestly assessing your payoff for using this option and realising that it was not helpful, you may then change it to something like ‘align with him on how we can both agree on what to do about this situation’.)
Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me? If any of these options don’t do this for you, then perhaps its not the right option to use. You want to feel like the options you choose for achieving your aim are going to work for you. If you don’t feel excited about trying these things, then it is unlikely that you will do what you need to do in order to implement them into your life. You want to be inspired to take action otherwise you will stay stuck where you currently are and nothing will change.
Take the column of options that you would not like to use and write down your answers to the following questions:
What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work?
Take notice of what you are thinking about these options. Why have you disregarded them? What are your reasons?
What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options?
How does disregarding these options relate to your self-worth? You would have disregarded these options for a reason that is in your best interests. Identify what this reason is and how it relates to what you believe about your self-worth or your quality of life?
As we continue through this week’s lessons you will get to see examples of how these steps are used, so don’t be concerned if all of this seems like a lot of questions or you don’t really know how to answer these, because you will get an opportunity later on in the week to see how this whole Choices step is being used with examples that relate to motherhood.
After answering these questions and assessing your beliefs on the options that you have chosen (and the options you have not), write your complete list of all the options that you are going to use in order to take you on your journey towards your aims.
By following this process of assessing your aims, you are consciously and honestly weighing up which option or options are the best ones for you. Without carefully considering your options and what you believe about them, you could randomly choose the first option you find. Even though this may be the most logical option to choose, it may not align with other aspects of your belief system or with your bigger picture aims. This could result in you sabotaging your progress towards meeting your aims. Logic very rarely has anything to do with getting you to your aims. It all comes down to the underlying beliefs you hold about life and what you believe is the ‘right way’ to live. Sometimes your logic and your beliefs match, but often they don’t, so consciously challenging why you would choose a course of action to overcome your problem will highlight where your mindset is at in regards to that choice.
You may find that when you do this, you might just choose different options than might have otherwise been overlooked. You might also uncover beliefs (or memes) that are in conflict with reality and need to be upgraded with the reality thinking model.
Over the next two days, I am going to use examples of common problems that parents encounter, and show you how you apply the information I have taught you over this week so far, so that you can begin assessing your options and deciding what’s right for you and your circumstances.
All of this is leading into next week’s lessons where we discuss Step Five of the TRACK Process: Know your plan, where I will teach you how to take these options and formulate them into a do-able, easy to follow plan of action.
It’s important to remember that as you begin your journey towards you aim, you will encounter highs and lows and learning along the way. What we are doing in this step is accelerating your ride towards your aim, by gathering information. Gathering infromation is essentially what this step is all about.
You are gathering information about what options you know are available, educating yourself on new information that you didn’t know about, seeking out experts and experienced people who have encountered your particular challenge, and you are gathering information about what your beliefs are in regards to choosing which options are the best for you.
In all of these steps we are always continually checking whether our thoughts are in conflict with reality and wherever necessary, aligning them back within the reality thinking model (the reality of the situation, the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth).
In summary to the choices step, there are five ways to gather the information you need to propel you towards your goal. Once you gather this information you are then ready to move onto the final step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process: Step Five – Know your plan and action it.
But first, here is a summary as to how you use the choices step.
List all of the potential solutions that you presently know of already. Even if they are not options you are willing to consider, list them anyway if you know that it is still an option.
Seek out other resources that can teach you more about your problem, the solution, information surrounding that problem (eg how something works, the process involved etc). Educating yourself about whatever you can in regards to knowing everything you need to know about this topic can often help you to learn more about what options you have.
Find how others have gotten through your challenge and what they did to overcome it. These people not only give you more options that you can use, they also give you motivation, encouragement or inspiration for achieving your aims too. They will tell you about their highs and lows and you can learn from them too.
Now that you have resourced many different options, you now collate a list of potential solutions for you to begin contemplating as potential ways to move towards your aim.
Look over your list of options and make two separate lists – One list of all the options that you are going to use and one list of all the options you are not going to use. Then ask yourself the following questions about each list:
(NB – Remember, at this point of the TRACK process, you have set and test your aims and your thoughts on your aims. While it may seem logical that the aim for this issue might be ‘to breastfeed’, upon assessing this aim, you might have found that when you asked the question ‘why do I want this aim’ you could have realised that you believed that breastfeeding was attached to being a ‘good mother’ . By assessing your aim during the Aim Step, you may have changed your aims to be in alignment with the bigger picture instead, being what’s really important, which is your child getting the nutrition he needs to grow).
By answering these questions and going through the assessment process of the Choices step, you can highlight any incorrect ‘get your life right to be worthy’ thinking and upgrade it where necessary. Sometimes you find that when you answer these questions, you can identify thinking that is in conflict with reality and when corrected, you are open to considering other options that you may not have considered to begin with.
This example from the ‘minor’ category is a fairly straightforward one. Not all of your aims are going to be that easy. It is also important to understand that what you try to do first, is not the be all and end all of getting to your aim. Sometimes you will try something that you thought would work and it doesn’t. This doesn’t mean you have failed, nor does it mean that you can no longer get to your aim. It simply means that you have to try another tactic to get you there.
Life is about trial and error. It’s about learning and growing, and with every experience more knowledge is added to your brain for you to use and contribute to others as your life unfolds. Remember, no experience is pointless. Everything has value. Remind yourself of this as you continue trying different ways (options) for achieving your aims.
Also remember the true purpose of aims – to set life in motion. Creating goals keeps you learning, experiencing and contributing to your development and that of others’. Achieving aims does not define your self-worth nor does it define whether your life is successful or not.
As you can see, we are continually checking our thoughts and beliefs throughout this entire process, because beliefs are the foundation to how we perceive and enjoy life. Remember, it is never events that cause us stress, it is how we perceive these events. Similarly, it is not the range of options that dictate our decisions, it’s what we believe about these options. When you assess your options and compare them against your beliefs, then analyse to see how reality-based these thoughts are, you will gain more clarity over which decision to make.
In tomorrow’s lesson we are going to explore two more common issues and aims that a mum may come across – this time from the moderate and major issues categories.
NB – There will be no audio for this lesson
In today’s lesson we are going to go straight into using some examples of how you can use this choices step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process.
Remember you have already gone through the Aim step where you have started to search for what you want and the ideal of the situation that is causing you grief in your life. Now, in this step you’re establishing how you are going to reach this aim. You’re starting to gather information, educate yourself and contemplate scenarios that will help you do this.
Let’s move onto an example that may be in your ‘moderate issues’ category.
(NB – When setting this aim, the process would have called for an assessment of this aim. In this example when asked ‘why do you want this’ [aim] it was determined that it was a priority for this mum not to return to work, but instead to keep trying to adjust to being at home full-time and work on enjoying this experience more).
You can see from these last two questions, that an issue has been highlighted that needs to be addressed and upgraded. This mother fears meeting new people and even though she would like to make friends and be able to socialise with other mothers, her priority is about her self-worth, believing that it is safer to not bother trying to find new friends. The answer to this issue is to take this specific issue through the whole Mind TRACK to Happiness process in detail. By doing that, she is going to get to look at her thoughts that are in conflict with the reality of true self-worth, regarding friendships, get an idea of how this was set up from her childhood. She is then going to be able to upgrade these beliefs using the reality thinking model. Then she can set and test some aims in regards to making friends, and start to resource and plan (steps four and five of the TRACK process) how she is going to get these things.
Herein lies the value of assessing your options in regards to your beliefs. It can highlight other issues that you could work on that will lead you to the life that you would like to live. Often we think that we don’t want ceratin things (like friendships in our lives), but we really do. We have convinced ourselves that we can live without those things, when really we are just operating out of fear and memes that keep us from creating the happy life we would like to have.
Let’s have a look one more final aim and how we can use this choices step in regards to it:
Again, you can see in this final assesment that some beliefs have been highlighted that are counterproductive to this person achieving their aim. If you are feeling resentful, angry, or unforgiving, then you need to take this issue through the Mind TRACK to Happiness process and specifically work on this issue. Remember, all anger, criticism, judgement, resentment and anger all lie in the belief that things ‘should’ be another way. The reality is that it isn’t another way. You are in this current situation because both of you participated in the creation of the current dynamic between you due to both of your beliefs and behaviours.
When working on your relationships, there is definately not one quick fix. It took some time to get to where your relationship is currently at, and it’s going to take some time to repair it too. At this point on the TRACK process, you are only at the beginning of what needs to happen to start fixing your relationship. This will be a continual process where you will need to use this TRACK process over and over again as you progress, get new information, see changes and work on the ongoing issues that surround the problems in your marriage.
This is where commitment to the process comes in. If this is your issue, I suggest that you take a look at chapter 13 of The Happy Mum Handbook PDF that you have been given to learn some other ways of handling the issues with your relationship.
This week, we have been walking you through the process of seeking out the information you need to help you to progress towards your aims. Sometimes you will find that you don’t need to be this thorough with assessing your options. It can be quite clear cut what you may need to do, in which case you would just start to implement that.
The Mind TRACK to Happiness process is a 5-step process that can be used in any situation that is causing you stress, so I really wanted to explain how to use it in great detail.
If you only have a minor issue causing you stress, then use the track process to acknowledge your thoughts that are in conflict with reality, upgrade your thoughts to be in alignment with the reality thinking model, set your aims (assessing them where necessary) and start seeking out solutions and do it. You can see that you are still using the TRACK process, however it is not necessary to assess it in great detail.
In saying, that, however, it is important to always remain aware of what your priorities are for making the choices that you do. This is why we have called this step choices. We are given many choices throughout our lives and the more aware we are of what drives those choices, meaning what our agenda, priorities and beliefs are that govern which choice we make, the more deliberate we will be in our lives.
Always check to see whether what you are doing is in alignment with your bigger picture aims, your values and the way you would like your ideal life to be. You can’t control how life unfolds, nor can you change what has happened in the past, however you change the way you handle what has been given to you and this week you have learnt how to seek these answers.
In tomorrow’s lesson – exercise day – you will go ahead and put this week’s learning into practice and begin seeking solutions to your issues and make some choices about how you can start moving towards achieving your aims.
NB – there is no audio available for this exercise
Here comes the really interesting bit – taking your aims and resourcing all of the different ways you can begin working towards your aim.
This fourth week of the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process: Choices is all about actively seeking the information you need to move you forward. Doing this step will help you to feel encouraged, solution focused and driven to achieve your goals.
Instead of feeling consumed, overwhelmed and sucked into your current problem, you have now progressed to your mindset focusing on answers. You have stepped into the learning and receiving mode and away from the ‘get your life right’ mode of thinking.
You have seen a few examples of how to use this exercise, so today you are going to use these steps to start working towards your own top three goals (one from each level of issue – minor, moderate & major). So for each of your three goals that you’ve picked, follow the instructions below:
Remember, this step is about gathering information. Next week I’m going to show you how to formulate this information into an action plan.
Create the heading – Brainstorming opportunities (just like you saw in yesterday’s lesson). Underneath this heading write all of the obvious solutions to your problem that will lead you towards your aim.
Resource other opportunities – Go ahead and research external information from any other source that talks about your problem. Seek out books, experts, websites, forums, magazines or any other form of education you can find that teaches you what other options there are out there for achieving your particular goal.
Inspiration from others:. Using similar resources as you did in step three, find someone who has overcome your problem, or who you find inspirational in regards to your aim. This person will give you hope, encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward through the ups and the downs of the journey towards your goal. You may know this person from your life, or you may not know this person (a celebrity or random mum from a forum), however she/he is someone who you draw strength from and remind yourself of when the going gets tough, or you feel yourself falling into old habits.
List all of the potential solutions that you now have for working towards your aim.
Assess your top options. Look over your list of options and make two separate lists – One list of all the options that you are going to use and one list of all the options you are not going to use. Then ask yourself the following questions about each list:
Now that you have looked at all of your options and what your thoughts are about them, you are now in a position to choose what solutions best suit your circumstances (and your aims). Write a list of the solutions that you have chosen to use in your planning step (Step Five of the TRACK process: Know your plan & Action it). Remember that there is not always one solution to your problem. There could be many things that you need to incorporate and co-ordinate in order to achieve your aim, so make a list now of which options you are going to use. Keep this list handy, because in next week’s lessons I’m going to show you how to take this list and turn it into and action plan – a step by step approach to acheiving your goals.
One final word on making choices. Things change all the time. Just because you have this list of options it doesn’t mean that they are set in gold and that you must use them. Sometimes as we are applying the information that we have found, we receive new information from the experiences that we have encountered as a result of starting to work towards your goals. These experiences may teach you that the option you are using is not effective, or is not aligned with your bigger picture aims. Our life is a course of never ending twists and turns and you will always be working and reworking plans to get to what you want. This is the exciting part of life. Use this list of options that you’ve just created as a starting point for experiencing the life you want. It’s not set in stone, but it will set life in motion, which at the end of the day, is the true purpose of setting goals.