If your life is not a reflection of what you want, that means you’re you’re idling in the present circumstance, and you’re unhappy, or unfulfilled, and you wonder why you can’t figure out a better way.
Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together
What that means is the more you think or do something, over and over again, you’re creating neuro pathways in the brain. So the more you think about a damaging situation, you’re creating circuits in the brain that reinforce that thinking and then it becomes a habit. To break free from this form of self-sabotage, it takes a willingness to explore your feelings and thoughts and to question if they are derived from past experiences and beliefs, and how can you broaden your perspective to find a better picture of the situation.
In my first book, Finding My Way, Facing My Journey With Courage, I wrote about when I stopped playing the victim, I become empowered.
This chapter will demonstrate how important it is to tap into your self-awareness and to take full responsibility for everything that shows up to live your life according to your rules.
Fast-forward ten months into this new sales position, I had earned three sales awards, and was opening up new business left and right. My idea had worked! But, what I hadn’t realized was that I also had to service these accounts when the claims came in, which meant I would open up new business during the day, and service the claims at night after I arrived home.
I soon saw that my workload required 12-hour days; I was getting more and more tired, agitated, and frustrated. Trying to keep up, my back pain flared up to the point that one morning I woke in tears.
“I can’t move!” I cried. “I can’t get out of bed; the pain is unbearable.”
Steve looked me square in the eyes, and said, “Donna, you’re doing it again. Every time you over schedule, over work, and you zone everything else out and work like mad, until you can’t any more. Stop!” Then he said, “You don’t have to put yourself through this.”
He was right. I had to own this situation. I was the problem. Not the job, not the schedule; I caused my pain and suffering. I had totally disregarded my own wellbeing to prove something to myself. During my high-speed chase, this lesson kept popping up repeatedly, but I kept ignoring the signs. Finally, this time I received my lesson, and it was the last time I would allow overwork to damage my health.
We have many lessons to learn in life, and they will keep showing up until we get them. Mine involved mindlessly and needlessly working myself to a point where I would be living my life on autopilot, forgetting to take care of me. Fortunately, my sales job was the last time I would allow this lesson to show up in my life. It was my wake-up-call for me to pay attention to my tendency to default to an unconscious state of self-torture. Now, I finally got it. To change, we must first wake up and acknowledge our self-sabotaging habits.
It wasn’t until I made a conscious choice to change how I was activating and responding to circumstances in my life that I became motivated to abandon my old habits of self-sabotage. Most of us go through our lives doing the same thing repeatedly, without questioning our thoughts or actions. We wait for a crisis, illness, trauma, loss of a loved one, or other tragedy to question how we are feeling. Are we truly happy? Are we living the life we want? Are we listening to our true nature? This is when we realize we have been sleepwalking, not paying attention to what truly means the most to us. We start to question why we choose to live this way. When we start to question those beliefs that are holding us, hostage, we become aware of what is causing our pain.
Self-Awareness is staying present to what works and what is not working.
What if we could change our thinking process and our habits, deliberately, being proactive instead of reactive, to things in our lives that are not serving us, instead of waiting, as I did for things to get really bad, to the point where I couldn’t move, living in pain and feeling like I was swimming upstream? I had no choice but to own up and face how I was feeling and what was causing it. The gift for me was waking up to this fact, and taking personal responsibility to change; that was what gave me a sense of empowerment.
In Joe Dispenza’s book, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself,” he writes, “We live by a set of memorized behaviors, thoughts, and emotional reactions, all running like computer programs behind the scenes of our conscious awareness.”
To change, we need to be aware of our subconscious programming, our beliefs and habits, and develop new habits that will move us towards a life we intend to live.
My own high-speed chase for success in my jobs helped me realize that my post-cancer state of “thinking positive” was not enough for me to make a significant, sustained change in my life. I had to work on mindfulness that is, staying with my present day reality as much as possible and not revisit my past, or play back my old stories and beliefs repeatedly.
Understanding the Power of the Subconscious Mind
We learn most of our behaviors and attitudes early on, during the first seven years of our life. They get stored in our subconscious minds. Now I was beginning to understand why my pattern of always being in a fight-or-flight response mode, causing my back to go in spasms, my trapezoid muscles to swell up with pain, and being in a constant struggle just to keep my head up. I witnessed this exact behavior in my mother. I learned these behaviors through watching her react to circumstances in her own life.
It didn’t take much for her to spin out of control, from an unexpected phone call from her mother, to a change in schedule at work, or us kids leaving dirty dishes in the sink. She would go into a fit of rage, yelling, screaming, throwing things, and slamming doors. Then for days afterward, she would be in terrible pain, saying she had a “pinched nerve” in her neck. Her self-inflicted ills were brought on by her own subconscious reactions and beliefs; she just wasn’t aware of it. Realizing this on my own journey was a “gift” to me, and is why I have gone to work on mindfulness. It was not until I looked at and started to change my own hurtful habits and beliefs that I gained the knowledge and awareness I needed to break that cycle of self-sabotage.
Neuroscience has recognized that the subconscious controls 95 percent of our lives. The other five percent we are operating from our conscious mind.
According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, “Your subconscious beliefs are working either for you or against you. Becoming aware means accessing the behavioral programs in your subconscious mind so that that you can change the underlying limiting or self-sabotaging thoughts that don’t serve you.”
That is why it is critical to take on the practice of mindfulness, to tap into our own emotional intelligence that is within and create a new normal, to break free from our old habits.
Think about what habits or stories you’re telling yourself, and how can you improve your situation by changing your perception of the situation to a more empowered state.