Week Eight / Day Five – Summary of Exploring your choices

 

NB – There will be no audio for this lesson

 

The fundamental principle to step four of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process: Choices is to actively seek out the information you need to get you moving towards your aim.

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.

  1. Brainstorm possibilities

    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.

  2. Resourcing more possibilites

    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.

  3. Inspiration from others

    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.

  4. Collate your list.

    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.

  5. 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:

Assessing List One (options that I would like to use)
  • Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims?
  • 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? Does this option align with my bigger picture aim?
  • What can you do to overcome this ‘but’?
  • What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options?
  • Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me?
Assessing List Two (options that I would not like to use)
  • What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work?
  • What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options?
Let’s use this framework by using an example from a minor issue that some mums may come across (one I personally came across):
 

Minor Issue: I can’t breastfeed

Aim: To give my child the best nutrition he needs for his growing body

(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).

  1. Brainstorming possibilities: I could continue struggling with the pain of breastfeeding, I could bottle feed, I could take food supplements to increase my milk, I could do part-time breast, part-time bottle feed, I could seek help from a lactation consultant, I could go onto a mother’s forum and seek options there.
  2. Resource even more possibilities: Google breastfeeding and see what comes up. Straight away you will see videos, forums, parenting websites, breastfeeding associations and support that will arm you with loads of information to help you understand the feeding process, how the body works and ways to assist your body in the breastfeeding process. Remember that information is key here. You want to educate yourself in how you can meet your aim of giving your child the best nutrition he needs for his growing body (that is, your aim).
  3. Inspiration from others: For this example you can get onto parenting forums and pour through the many posts that are submitted to these forums on the challenges of breastfeeding. Not only will you see lots of different hints and tips to help you, but you will also know that you are not alone and receive a different perspective to the situation than what you might currently have. Here is a good example of a forum post that I found of a mum who had tried lots of different things to help her with breastfeeding and the inspiration and support she recieved from others. Here is the link: http://www.bellybelly.com.au/forums/f135/struggling-breastfeeding-pnd-160657/. There are thousands of posts like this that can assist you with actively seeking the information you need and inspiring you to act too.
  4. List all of the potential solutions you now have for working towards your aims.
  5. 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:
Assessing List One (options that I would like to use): Take food supplements to increase my milk; seek help from a lactation consultant; go to mother’s forums to find more answers to what else to try, understand the feeding process (how milk production works and how my body works and ways to assist my body in the breastfeeding process

  • Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims?
    Yes they do. All of these align with my aim to provide my child with a healthy start to life and to be a good mother.
  • 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? I’m a bit worried that I still won’t be able to breastfeed properly and will need to give up anyway.
  • What can you do to overcome this ‘but’?
    Just keep practicing and trying again. I’ll get it eventually and if I don’t then I may just have to consider bottle feeding, but for now, I am going to try these options first.
  • What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options?
    To keep on breastfeeding my child. I really want my child to have the best start to life and I believe that breastfeeding is the way to go, however I understand that I am not a bad mother if I can’t. Before I felt this way, but at this point of the TRACK process I know that my worth as a mother is not defined by whether I breastfeed or not, however I would still like to persevere with it anyway, for now. I can revisit this decision later if these new things to try don’t work out.
  • Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me? Yes, I’m eager to try going to a lactation consultant and to try some of the techniques I saw on youtube.
Assessing List Two (options that I would not like to use): bottle feed, part-time breastfeed/part-time bottle feed.

  • What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work?
    It’s not that I believe they won’t work, it’s just that I’m not ready to try bottle feeding as an option right now. I still have more fight in me to try and work towards my goal of being able to breastfeed, so at this time I’m going to stick with trying to use some of the other options first.
  • What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options?
    To keep practicing the art of breastfeeding so that I can give my child the best start. My personal payoff is that I will feel like I have personally tried everything to give my child breast milk before going onto the bottle and that will make me feel like a good mother, even though I know that being a good mother is not defined by my ability to breastfeed or not.
You can see in this example that this mother knows that her priority/her payoff is to give her child breast milk and continue to pursue this aim with the agenda of feeling like she had done the best by her child. This is fine, however make sure you are always aware that if you cannot achieve your aim, you are not worth-less. Your worth is not attached to whether you can breastfeed or not.

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.

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