Every single choice you make is influenced by what has come before. Every single one! It is for this reason that life can seem very cyclical and you often hear people say 'Why does this keep happening to me?'. Unfortunately, our future will be comprised of different renditions of the same events until we become aware of our negative cycles and actively make changes to ourselves to break them. Fortunately however, making these changes is very possible and we can start today.
But first, I'm sure you're asking, how do these cycles come to be and why do they even happen? This is a very good question with a few infinitely complex answers and one simple one. As we don't have forever, let's focus on the simple one.
These things keep happening because our mind, body and emotions cannot see what has not yet come, yet can see what has come before.
Why is this important? Because all that we've seen to date is what we use as information to analyse risk and reward when looking at our future.
And before we dive into why this is problematic, let's just celebrate how this can be useful. Let's say a rather nasty person has punched you in the face every single time you've seen them since you were a child. This very cyclical analysis is what is used to ensure you actively avoid seeing that person again. Rather useful right? Saves some jaw ache.
And if it was just self-preservation over things that would actively harm us that triggered this system, then we could all exist in peace knowing that we are living our life to the fullest. But here's the catch, the data we use to subconsciously manage our lives is not only imperfect but it also attempts, with great affect, to stop us from ever trying anything new or risky.
Why? Because self-preservation is the key goal for this system and crucially, it cannot deduce right from wrong. It can only process what has come before.
A fascinating example comes in the form of long-term smokers who are trying to quit smoking.
Why do they find it so hard?
Because although they consciously want to quit smoking more than anything else, subconsciously their mind computes that smoking has been part of a long term routine that has kept them alive to date. Not smoking therefore is deemed risky. It's change and all change could lead to death. So subsconsciously speaking, keeping smoking is the logical thing to do.
Hence, giving up smoking is a real challenge. Because you end up, quite literally, fighting yourself.
So how on earth do you break the cycle?
Well, imagine if you had someone sitting over your shoulder at all times calling you out on your weaknesses, making you more aware of the times you were being irrational and praising you when you broke the negative cycles you've been perpetuating for many years. Wouldn't that be awesome?
And I'm guessing you're now thinking that I'm going to say that this is what I do for my clients (and yes, sometimes I do) and that you should all sign up for my coaching program, but I'm not. Because you already have this someone, and this someone is you.
What do I mean? Simply put:
Should we be able to mindfully foster a consciousness that allows us to objectively look at our lives - and ourselves - from the outside in, then we become able to exist aware of the negative cycles we are living through and break them once and for all.
Even more simply put:
If we can see the negative cycle then we can fix the negative cycle. And the tool we use to identify a negative cycle is mindfulness.
So the question now becomes, how do you foster a sense of mindfulness strong enough to allow you to see your negative cycles.
Well, I recorded a podcast on this very matter which you can listen to by CLICKING HERE., and then playing Episode 4.
Aside from that though, the first step to mindfulness is to start to radically doubt our thoughts, our actions and our emotions.
The next time we think 'I hate that person at work', doubt it!
Do we really hate that person? Or is there something else there? Is it instead jealousy, envy or repressed positive emotion? Is it rooted in something totally different? Do we think we hate that person just because they exhibit the same traits as someone who hurt us in the past?
And even if we do really hate that person, what part of us is most hateful? Where does our hate come from? What painful button inside us are they pushing and what made that button in the first place?
At one point we end up finding the root of our thought and emotion. The root of that physical gut feeling.
In finding this root, we find the reason why we think, act and emote in a certain way.
And it's right here, at this root, that we can make changes that break our negative cycles.