When It All Gets Too Much….Expand
If you’re anything like me, you might find it an extremely attractive proposition to crawl into your shell every once in a while, and forget about the world. I used to feel like that a lot. Whenever it got a little too much, and sometimes for no obvious reason at all, I would start to feel vaguely afraid and yearn to withdraw. I might grow uncomfortable about buying new clothes; or get an urge to cut down on ‘extras’ like personal development trainings, and the monthly donation to my favourite charity; perhaps I’d decide to stay in instead of going out with friends… Basically I would start to anticipate some kind of doom and gloom scenario, and rush to rearrange my life accordingly; I would contract, restrict, and downsize my universe. Needless to say I’d get the results that go with that approach: sad, small, and pretty meaningless.
Looking back on those times now, I wonder what I was thinking! Clearly there was no reason not to go out for that meal, pass on that new pair of running shoes, and drown in a bucket of dread and anxiety at the thought of ‘something, somewhere, maybe’, going wrong in my future! Now whenever I get that nasty feeling creeping in, I recognise it as my heads-up to pay attention. You can refer to the NLP Communication Model here: our feelings (our state) are the result of an internal representation which is itself based on some beliefs and values we have, which can be conscious or unconscious. So whenever you don’t feel like you prefer, it is a signal that you are out of alignment, dwelling on negative beliefs, focusing on what you do not want: the problem with that is that if you remain in that state you will start to get the results that match your thinking!
And so for a concrete example: the other day I agreed to give someone a lift because we were both going to the same charity event in Nottingham. A few days before the event I chose to start experiencing some of the decisions and changes (extremely positive, mind you!) that I have made and created for myself recently as overwhelming. And I began to really resent all that extra stuff I’d put myself up for: why (WHY??) was I getting involved in all that charity stuff? Why couldn’t that guy drive himself? And didn’t I have enough on MY plate already?! Before you know it I was lost in a hurricane of destructive, narrow-minded, and restrictive thinking: it was ugly inside my head, you bet!
A few years ago I might have sent everything and everyone packing, and stayed home that weekend with some bad TV and a box of wine for company. Fortunately, I do much better these days! I have used NLP modelling techniques to define a ‘best version’ of myself. That means I went out hunting for behaviours and character traits I admire in other people, and I adopted them as my own. The science of modelling is all about replicating excellence. At NLP Master Practitioner level we learn techniques to identify the beliefs, values, behaviours and strategies of people who excel at what they do. Then we learn how to install those in ourselves, at the unconscious level, where it’s going to do the most good. That’s what I did.
And so when I started to fall back into the old me, I stopped, and wondered (since it’s always a good thing!), what twisted beliefs would have to be running through my head to influence my state in such a negative way? Didn’t take me long to realise I was being derailed by ideas that did not even belong to me. So I re-calibrated my thinking, and aligned back with who I prefer to be and how I prefer to act: to expand, not contract. To give, not hold back. To connect, not separate.
In other words, to be someone I would love to model! Tell you what: it works.
“Be a light, not a judge – be a model, not a critic.” – Stephen Covey