Week Eight / Day Six – Examples of using the Choices Step

 

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.

 

Moderate Issue: I don’t like being a stay at home mum because I’m bored & lonely

Aim: To enjoy being home with my children more

(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).

  1. Brainstorming possibilities (off the top of my head): plan more activities outside of the house, find more games to play with the kids that I would enjoy playing too, find more activities that will occupy the kids so that I can do more things for myself, establish what it is that I want to do and plan how to do it, learn to cook, factor in more ‘me’ time, create a schedule that incorporates all the activities that I want and need to do, including time for me, playing with the kids, outdoor activities, housework and things that will stimulate me, take a night course, do more little things for myself during the day, join a mother’s group, make playdates with other mums.
  2. Resource even more possibilities (from other resources): After googling ‘bored mum’ I found many forums where other mums had posted questions about what to do when they are bored.  Here are a few of those suggestions:  take up swimming, music or gymnastics lessons with your child,  go to a library or Barnes & Noble bookstores for story time, organise to go walking regularly with a friend,  treat being at home like a career by creating a schedule for the week of everything you need to do and incorporate stuff that you want to do in there too, change activities regularly, create a project for yourself that will keep you and your mind occupied.
  3. Inspiration from others: Where are all the mummies who don’t feel bored?  Where are all the women who are at home and are feeling inspired and absolutely loving it?  Search for those people so that you can learn from them. When I googled ‘do you love being a stay at home mum’, the common thread of comments seemed to be that these mums had regular activities outside of the home that gave them interaction with others while providing their kids with fun too and/or they were working on projects that they were passionate about.  It wasn’t all about housework and nappy changing, these ladies were making the most out of the flexibility they had and used it to socialise, perhaps just in a different way then what socialising used to be before having children. A lot can be learnt from those who are leading the lives that we aspire to be living.
  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): Plan activities outside of the house, find games to play with the kids that I can enjoy too, find things to occupy the kids so I can do more for myself, plan to do things for myself, create a schedule,take up swimming lessons with the kids, story time at library, find a project that I am passionate about.

  • Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims?
    Yes they do. Not only am I going to be able to be happier mixing it up rather than having everyday be monotonous, it will also help me to enjoy my role as a mum more.  In my schedule I can start to work on one of my ‘things I’d like to do before I die’ list, helping me to feel inspired and encouraged.
  • 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? Finding the time to be able to do everything I need to as a mum and find time for myself too.  Also, I don’t know whether it will be enough for me to do those things and am worried that I will still be bored.
  • What can you do to overcome this ‘but’? Creating a schedule will help overcome the time factor.  As for being worried about still being bored, I can look at that later if it happens. Right now I have some great options to start on that could possibly stop me from feeling this way.  If after I try these things, I am still bored, I can revisit this problem again and try to seek out new solutions.  Perhaps maybe looking at going back to work, if things haven’t improved.
  • What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options? I can try to be a stay at home mum like I wanted to be.  I believe that children need their mums in the early years and I really want to be home for my child.  I don’t want to miss being there for their ‘first’ experiences (walking, talking etc), so I want to try to work on this boredom issue. Also at the same time, my priority is to feel interested in other things, other than being a mum.
  • Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me? Yes, I’m looking forward to really mixing my day up with some of these suggestions.  I think it will make a big difference.
Assessing List Two (options that I would not like to use): learning to cook, going for walks regularly with a friend, joining mother’s groups, make playdates with other mums .

  • What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work?
    Firstly, I’m not a fan of cooking at the best of times, so I’m not going to try and learn how to.  As for going for walks with a friend or joining up with other mums, I’m not really good at making new friends.  I’m too shy.  I live in a different country and wouldn’t know where to start.  I’ve also heard that mother’s groups are a little bitchy and don’t want to get involved in that.  I’d like to have friends that I can visit, or have visit me, but the whole ‘meet new people thing’ is a little scary for me.
  • What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options?
    I don’t want to be rejected by friends. I’d much rather be alone than face the possibility of not being liked.  Even though I would like to have friendships, my priority is to protect myself from hurt or humiliation trying to make friends.

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:

 

Minor Issue: My partner and I fight all the time and just don’t seem to be on the same page anymore

Aim:  To communicate better with my partner and create a harmonious, loving relationship

  1. Brainstorming possibilities (off the top of my head): couples counselling, read books on creating good relationships, learn better communication skills, find out what he wants and how he thinks our relationship needs to change, do something nice for my partner, sit down and write out what I want to change in our relationship, stop participating in arguments.
  2. Resource even more possibilities (from other resources): create date nights, find out what he is interested in at the moment and get interested myself, organise a weekend away if possible, write down all the things that you love about him, give compliments everyday, change the way you interact with him,  show more love and affection yourself, introduce regular touch back into your marriage (I’m not talking about sex here, but hugs, hand holding or even a stroke on the back as you pass by him), spend time listening to your partner, learn about how men think, stop the blame game and search for solutions to your problems instead – it doesn’t matter who was wrong, it’s how you can negotiate now and make changes that suit both of you, make the commitment to work on your relationship (I know this sounds obvious but you want to consciously commit to learning about how to improve your relationship, actually make it an intention and work for it), figure out why your relationship has headed down hill in the first place, if your partner won’t go to couples counselling, you go by yourself and learn from the therapist what you can do to help your relationship.
  3. Inspiration from others: Seek out friends and family or interviews from celebrities to see what the common theme is for a happy marriage.  Start implementing these things into your relationship 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): try couples counselling, read books on creating good relationship, learn better communication skills, find out what he wants and how he thinks our relationship needs to change, sit down and write out what I want to change in our relationship, create date nights, organise a weekend away, learn about how men think, make the commitment to work on your relationship, figure out why the relationship has gone downhill in the first place.
  • Do all of these options align with my bigger picture aims? I guess so.  If I did all these things, they would help me to learn how to have a harmonious marital relationship.  It’s a start anyway.
  • 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 really don’t think he’s going to want to do couples counselling.  And I just don’t know whether I’m going to be able to change enough for the both of us. I mean I can work on me, but I can’t change him, so I’m unsure whether this is going to work or not.
  • What can you do to overcome this ‘but’? I could go to counselling on my own if he won’t go.  Maybe if I change my side of things and learn how to communicate and negotiate without getting worked up, perhaps it will change the dynamic and then he might open up and change too.  It’s worth a try.
  • What is your payoff (motive, priority) for choosing these options? To stop all this fighting and live a peaceful life.  I don’t want to be with someone that I am arguing with all the time.  I want my life to be better than that.
  • Do these options motivate, excite me and/or encourage me? I am encouraged to see what I can learn and how I can make changes. I’m also interested to see how these changes in me will affect our relationship and how he is towards me.
Assessing List Two (options that I would not like to use): do something nice for my partner, show more love and affection yourself, introduce regular touch back into your marriage (I’m not talking about sex here, but hugs, hand holding or even a stroke on the back as you pass by him), spend time listening to your partner, learn about how men think, stop the blame game and search for solutions to your problems instead,  stop participating in arguments.
  • What are your opinions/beliefs about why these options won’t work? In all honesty, I’m really resentful that I should have to be the one that has to be nice and affectionate. I’m tired of being the one that has to do all the work and change who I am all the time.  Even though I’m willing to try and learn more about how to have a healthy relationship, I just can’t stop feeling annoyed that he’s not going to reciprocate what I’m trying to do.  It can’t all be me.  I’m not even the one whose in the wrong half the time he is, so it’s a little difficult not to blame or participate in arguments. I just want him to see that it’s his fault too.
  • What is the payoff (motive, priority) for not choosing these options? To get him to understand me for a change.  To be acknowledged as right, I guess.  My priority for not choosing these options is probably out of spite.  I don’t want to give him these things because I don’t get them from him.  I guess it makes me feel a little bit better that I’m not giving myself to him with no return.  I can see though, that this is not really going to help the situation.  It’s only going to make things worse.  Perhaps I should have a look at these options and see if they do, in fact, make some sort of difference to our relationship.

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.

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