This evening, in our Master Class, someone shared how much they’ve grown in their confidence. As she did, I noticed her hesitating and pausing to comment on the occasions when she hadn’t been so confident. And, it appeared to me that noticing when she had ‘failed’ caused her to question if she really was changing.
I watched her facial expressions in those stilting pauses. I could almost hear the cogs of her mind evaluating and checking her beliefs against the reality. What she said next is really important, “Well yes, I still have some ‘melt-downs’, but not in the same way. They’re not as bad and not as often and I get over them much quicker”.
How clever! Intuitively or unconsciously she compared her current performance on the three key aspects of change; Duration, Intensity and Frequency (DIF). She recognised that when she didn’t manage her mind-set as well as she liked, it was not as intense – “they’re not as bad”, frequent – “not as often”, and the duration was shorter – “I get over them quicker”.
Often we’re so focused on the end result – the perfect end – that we miss the change we ARE creating. That’s ok if it drives us forward. Often though, we feel frustrated with our rate of progress and notice only the need for more improvement and this can slow us down or stunt our progress. Some times we even give up.
One way we create this feeling is by thinking of the change in all or nothing terms. Like thinking, ‘if I have changed, then I should be my new way totally all the time’. Or, ‘If I do any of that old behaviour, I haven’t really changed’. This error in thinking is sometimes referred to as a ‘Universal Quantifier’.
The problem with only noticing the bit we’re not yet getting right is that
whatever we put our attention on we strengthen.
When we only pay attention to failing, we strengthen the error. This is because every thought…everything we notice… each time we are paying attention to something, we have to run that through the neural path-ways in our brain and each time we do we make that path-way bigger and stronger and easier to use.
What you want to do is strengthen the positive progress. You can strengthen that by paying attention and watching for changes in the duration, intensity and frequency of your new way of being. Then you can have big, wide success path-ways. That will be cool, won’t it!
Then you can have more evidence to start to tell a new story about yourself.