How many choices do you think you make on any given day?? A handful, a few dozen, a few hundred??
Well the truth is, each and every one of us make literally thousands of choices a day. Human beings are constantly responding to stimulus from their environment – situations, events, interactions. Believe it or not, every response is actually a choice. The scary thing is most of these choices (maybe 90% or more) are being made below our conscious level of awareness in accordance with our own individual subconscious programming and belief systems. Which means that most of us have handed over control of our lives to a bunch of hidden tape loops that may or may not be serving us. For some, it is the equivalent of handing over control of the asylum to the inmates. Probably not such a good idea!!
You see, between Stimulus and Response there is a gap, and the Quality of Choice made in that gap, determines the Quality of the Outcome we are going to experience. Why?? Because the quality of our choices, determine the quality of our responses and subsequent actions, Aware, consciously chosen, empowered responses and actions generate empowered, positive outcomes. Unconscious, disempowered choices, done on autopilot, usually generate more of the same kind of crappy outcomes that put those crappy, disempowered pieces of programming in there in the first place!!
We’ve all heard many times that famous quote, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, then you’re going to keep on getting what you always got.” Unfortunately it is true. If we want a different outcome, we are going to have to start to do something different and make some different choices. It’s that simple and yet there are few things seemingly more difficult and challenging than to go against our programming.
Why?? Well most of the unhelpful, dis-empowered programming was put in place as the result of some kind of fear response – or the fear response of another -usually a parent or some kind of other authority figure that thought they were doing the right thing in terms ‘training’ us how to keep ourselves physically safe. We are taught to focus on the perceived dangers, the potential threat, all the reasons why doing something or not doing something would endanger our physical survival. Do you know the single most common and repeated word we say to our children is ‘No!!’ Is it any wonder then as we go through life we automatically set all kinds of unnecessary limitations on ourselves and see potential threats lurking around the corner. We are often taught to focus on Lack, Want, and Limitation – as opposed to, Being, Doing and Having.
When we are in ‘survival’ mode and reverting to our ‘survival’ programming – we are actually locked into the most primitive – often referred to as the ‘reptilian’ – part of the brain. This part of the brain can only ‘REACT’ – and it only has three possible responses – Fight, Flight or Fright. And it responds in a millisecond!! No thinking, no real conscious choice – just pure instinctive animal response. Aggression, Avoidance, or Paralysis – that’s it. Now that might of been useful in prehistoric times when we were in danger of ending up as someone else’s lunch, but it is not terribly helpful now.
On top of that the Reptilian Brain also loves the 3 R’s – Repition, Ritual and Routine – as it helps it to ease its ever present sence of anxiety. It will insist on keep on doing the same old stuff that isn’t working just for the sake of it. It is very slow to adapt to new possibilities or patterns. Hence the feeling that we continue to bang our head against a brick wall even though we can clearly see that wall we are getting in return is a headache.
Thankfully, for most of us, ensuring our ongoing day-to-day physical survival is no longer an issue – and yet, in most cases, it is still our old survival responses that remain in charge.
So how do we recognise these unhelpful bits of survival programming and where they are no longer serving us, remove them? Stay tuned, because of that is going to be the subject of my next couple of blogs. But I’ll give you a hint. It all starts with being aware that they are there!!!