Archive for the ‘Courage’ Category

The End of the Line- Stop seeking. Be.

Written by Kate • November 5, 2017 •
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End of the Line

Be Here. Now.

The End of the Line

There comes a point in each of our spiritual journeys that we know it’s time to stop seeking validation, knowledge, or input from any more external sources. No matter how enlightened the guru, skilled the expert, or inspiring the author, there comes a time when it’s time to just do the work.

The Work. Be Here.

Sit in stillness.

Listen to the silence.

Notice your thoughts and feelings rise up and float away.

No more seeking or fixing or trying.

Be here now.

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What Are Your Beliefs? How to Uncover the Unconscious Beliefs Running Your Brain

Written by Kate • November 3, 2017 •
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Break Free

Break Free From Unconscious Beliefs

What’s Running Your Brain?

There are lots of unhelpful unconscious thought patterns running your brain. Because they’re unconscious, meaning they are so ingrained in your neural pathways that once triggered, the thought patterns are nearly instantaneous and therefore essentially unknown to your conscious mind. I say “essentially unknown” because, in fact, it’s your brain and while you may not always be conscious of the thought pattern, with attention and stillness, you can be aware of the thoughts  and beliefs that arise, even in triggering situations, even if there isn’t anything you can do in that moment to counter the ingrained thought and resultant behavior pattern. While many of your thought patterns may be beneficial to you, some may be working against what it is you want from life.

What Do You Believe?

For example, as a child -and without blaming my parents for living their life based on their own thought patterns and beliefs, I learned that when you’ve had a really bad day, you have a stiff drink to help you calm down and manage your emotions. When you’ve been in a car accident, you have a stiff drink to help you calm down and manage your emotions. When you have a party or go out to eat, you have a drink to have fun. Party=drinking. Going out to eat=have a drink or two. One day in my early 20s, on a day with a few emotional upheavals, I started thinking about having a drink. I didn’t have any of my normal hooch in the house so I cast about for something else to drink. And I wondered why I needed a drink so much on this particular day. I then realized that with the ebbing of my emotional upheaval, in its wake I was left with a wrung-out feeling. And that wrung-out feeling meant, in a my habitual way of thinking, I needed a drink to fully calm down from the lows of my day. But really, did I need the drink? How about if I just felt my feelings instead? It was a novel concept: just deal with my bad day without the stiff drink that I was conditioned to think was normal (and necessary).

Later in life, I also learned, once I moved in my with partner 13 years ago, that despite being a feminist down to the bone, I believed that men take out the trash. That first month, the trash can got more and more full and I started wondering when the heck he was going to take out the trash. Finally, I just asked him when he was going to take it out. He looked at it me in wonder, asking me why I thought he would take it out? And I realized only then that I had an unconscious belief pattern that was running my brain without me being fully conscious of it. So I took out the trash and I take out the trash to this day, when it needs it and I’m the one who notices first.

I could go on and on about the beliefs I’ve uncovered with attention and inquiry. Over the years, I’ve become aware of many unconscious thought patterns and had glimpses of many more. I know I have or have had unconscious thought patterns and beliefs about money, how much money I should have, eating, travel, sex, relationships, healthy boundaries, spirituality, compassion, the Divine, and on and on and on ad infinitum.

Thought Patterns versus Beliefs

I use thought patterns and beliefs interchangeably here. There are more learned people than I who know about which is first, the thought pattern or the belief. I look at it as the chicken or the egg. Which came first is likely the thought pattern. And with repetition comes the belief. In regards to my belief about having a stiff drink, I remember my Mom came home one day when I was 9 years old or so. She was shaking and clearly distraught from a car accident she’d just been involved in. Dad immediately when to the liquor cabinet and got her drink, something like rum and coke or vodka and a mix. And she drank it and was much calmer for it. So I thought, “oh, that’s what you do to calm down. You have a drink.” First it was an external thought pattern that I held from seeing it repeated several times throughout my childhood and then an unconscious personal belief, as I began acting on that belief in my own early adulthood.

How To Undo Thought Patterns and Beliefs

There are many ways to uncover your thought patterns and beliefs. I think one of the easiest ways is to begin to be curious about what beliefs are running your brain. Always begin this type of inquiry with compassion. Don’t use this knowledge to beat yourself up for following your conditioned mind from belief to action. Just allow the knowledge to rise to your consciousness with curiosity about who you are and what’s going on in your brain.

These days, for me, because I meditate daily and have for several years. I know from these sessions how my thoughts come unbidden across my mind and how easy I can attach to and follow them. So it’s been easier for me to feel when a thought has hooked me and I am able to feel the unconscious thought pattern trigger me into a reaction. However, until I’m aware of the thought pattern, there’s nothing to be done to stop the triggered response.

The way I first began this inquiry into my unconscious beliefs was to ask the Divine to allow my to see my blind spots. I know I had them and in relationship with my partner and with my extended family, I could see and feel myself being triggered without being able to stop my conditioned response. So I just asked for these beliefs to be shown to me.

Because I want to be aware of my beliefs, I am increasingly aware of them. It’s just how it works.  When the thought pattern is not that important or so clearly irrational, it’s easier to substitute new thought patterns in its place. No, it’s not exclusively men’s job to take out the trash. Boom. Belief updated. Yes, I can have a bad day without having a stiff drink. (I have to say with that one, the pull remain strong and I remain confronted with the thought to have a drink after a bad day, so I know there are more unexamined thoughts beneath this behavior pattern plus years of habit!).

Some ways to become aware of your unconscious thought patterns and beliefs:

  1. Ask to become aware of them
  2. Seek out professional help with a therapist to uncover some of the bigger ones operating in your life
  3. Write your way to knowledge.
    1. Take a fresh sheet of paper. At the top of the paper, write “Here’s what I really believe about (subject)”.  (Money, Relationship, Food, Pleasure, You Name It)
    2. Begin to write in a stream of consciousness way without stopping or censoring yourself. State “I really believe that (subject) is … For example, I really believe money is hard to get, evil, corrupting, means selling your soul, etc. Or I really believe that relationship with someone else means the loss of myself, being chained to another person’s whims, etc.
    3. Keep going and write down at least 10 beliefs but try for more.
    4. Now that you’re aware of a negative belief that you’d like to change, try to tease out the thought patterns or belief under that belief. So if money is hard to get, what is the belief or thought pattern that supports that belief? Keep writing.
    5. Try on better feeling thought patterns and use a consciously created thought pattern as a response whenever the old belief arises, now that you can feel and/or know what the  conditioned, negative thought pattern is. For example, if you’ve believed that money is hard to get, what happens if you start thinking that money is easy to get, how does that feel? Can you believe that instead?
  4. With caution and care, ask a trusted and loving family member or friend what is one blind spot you have. Obviously, do this one with someone in your life who will tell you the truth about yourself in a way that isn’t finally the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to criticize you or go running with it as way to list your every perceived flaw. This is simply one thing in your life that they notice which it seems you’re not aware of.

Some Caveats

Some conditioned thought patterns are so deep and ingrained and arise so fast that they don’t cross your frontal cortex and you don’t have the opportunity to initially respond in a new and more thoughtful way. Be kind and compassionate to yourself in these circumstances (in every circumstance, ideally). Something profound in you is being triggered so don’t be dismayed if you can’t help yourself. (With the obvious exception if you’re engaging in harmful or self-harmful behavior. With these, you should get help immediately through professional help and remove yourself from the situation wherever possible).

If you can, just stop the triggered response. When you feel attacked and you’re in the middle of yelling back a response, just close your mouth and stop, even mid-sentence. Try to understand what thoughts arose in the situation and try to become aware of them. When you open your banking app, seeing your balance and feeling a wave of fear about to engulf you as you worry about all that needs to get paid, stand up and take a breath. Take a short walk and watch the thoughts that arise about fear, money, lack.

By engaging in new patterns as soon as you’re aware that you’ve been triggered,  you can start to unwind your conditioned response little by little even as the initial response is so fast and habitual that you can’t yet control it. And begin to start a new thought pattern that are helpful to you.

Willpower Doesn’t Help

An additional caveat- Don’t try to use willpower to change your response to unconscious thought or beliefs. It’s a losing proposition. You only have so much willpower and one day, you’ll be tired, hungry, or angry enough that your willpower will fail you and you’ll respond to the trigger in your conditioned behavior pattern based on your true/old beliefs.  Willpower is not a long term, permanent answer to negative thought patterns and beliefs.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

By understanding what thoughts and beliefs are running your brain, you can replace them with more helpful and empowering thoughts.  Staying present with your thought despite a rising tide of conditioned responses will help you to understand and change your thinking- changing your life

More Resources

Steve Pavlina‘s blog is always a great source about conscious awareness and behavior change.

Martha Beck is always a great source. Period.

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. This is a great book that goes over how effective, and limited, willpower really is. It also shows how industry and corporations are highjacking your instincts and what you can do to become aware and counter these tactics. It also helps you become of aware of your habitual actions.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This is another book that describes the power and the limits of willpower and our conditioned thinking.

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt. This book was formative in my understanding about biology and thought patterns.  His most compelling concept is one where the author, a psychologist, notes the mind is like an elephant of conditioned desires and impulses. On top of the elephant is conscious intention as an ineffectual rider. So using your willpower as a jockey riding an elephant of desires and conditioned thinking, you can see how ineffective willpower is. Instead, delving into your beliefs is one of the most effective ways to change your behavior patterns.

Byron Katie is amazing for using inquiry to question our thoughts. She has a lot of free resources. If you’re looking to understand your triggers and blind spots (after you’re out of the profound trauma of fresh tragedy), I think her tools are amazing.

How about you? What has helped you uncover and change your conditioned response?

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What Do They Think?

Written by Kate • September 14, 2011 •
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Image Thanks to Christian Revival Network

I was on the phone today with a friend who is making some decisions in his life. He knows what he wants, he knows how to get where he wants to go, and he’s got a plan. The one thing that is holding him back is the worry and fear he has for what “they” will think. Will “they” think he’s being silly pursuing this dream? Will “they” still be his friends? Will “they” disapprove and think badly of him?

“They” have a lot to say and “they” can rule your life if you let them.

Who are “they”, though?

“They” are voices you hear in your head that are, in fact, all the worries, fears, criticism and negativity you’ve ever encountered, both from yourself and from others in your life, that has stuck with you. “They” are the thoughts and ideas that keep you living small.

I had a run with what “they” thought recently myself and I was glad to experience it again so I could banish it from my mindset.  I got a speeding ticket in town the other day. I was trying to play an audible book on my iPhone and I wasn’t paying attention. After I got the ticket, I drove away and realized I was feeling a surprising sense of shame about the ticket.

So I examined my thoughts, as Byron Katie would advise, and I realized that I was thinking about what “they” would think. As in, “they” will think badly of me because I got this ticket. I shook off the belief by going through the exercises below, pulled another part of my power into my own solar plexus [having unknowingly left this little bit external to me for too long], and continued on my way, stronger for the experience. I was actually happy I got the ticket. How else would I have known I thought that?

If you realize that you care too much about what “they” think, here are some tips I’ve used to overcome the feeling that I’ve just failed to live up to some unknown rule:

#1.- Ask yourself who “they” are.  Sometimes the voice of what “they” would think is actually something I would imagine my mother, my friend, my sister, my partner, or some specific person in my life would say to me if they were with me physically in the moment.  It can help to know you’re channeling your mom’s voice from 20 years ago, for example.

And once you know who they are, you can actually have a conversation with that person [in your head] and let them know that they no longer have the power to control your actions. And ask yourself if “they” would really want you to live your life in small and unhappy ways based on something they said but that you interpreted differently than what they said. And if the answer is no, then you can wrap yourself in the feeling that really, “they” want you to be your best. And if the answer is yes, they do want you to live small, then it’s time for you to do some work on being OK with disappointing people and removing the power they have over you. You’ll have to do that at some point any way. So why not now?

#2.  Ask yourself why what “they” think is more important that what you think. This one may seem obvious but what it really does is get at your need for approval, your deep fears of rejection or not being good enough, and your sense of personal power [or lack thereof]. The answer to the question about why what “they” think is more important than what you think is a true sign post to what’s going own with you and your power center.

#3. Feel where the power of worrying about what “they” think is. You can almost feel that when you worry about what “they” think -or a specific person in your life- you’ve given your power away. Your power over the situation is external to you and that’s why you feel so shaky about going against what “they” will think.  Once you’ve gone through the thought exercise of points 1 and 2 above, imagine absorbing the power that had been outside of you right into your third chakra, your solar plexus, and owning the decision on how you’ll proceed.  With this act of pulling your power into you, you’ll feel surprisingly more powerful and grounded than you had.  It can be a bit of a rush!

 

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Need A Coach

Written by Kate • August 4, 2011 •
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Christine Kane and Kate Allen at Uplevel Your Purpose

Although it may seem self-serving in that I am a Life Coach myself, working with Women to Step into a Life Filled with Delight, I truly believe that a coach is essential to getting you to the next level of expertise, of mindset, and of ability- in whatever you’re trying to achieve. I believe in it so much that I myself have a Business Coach.  I have been working with Christine Kane for over a year now, on my mindset and on building my business up to the next level.  [This picture is of Christine and me at her recent Uplevel Your Purpose Conference, a mind-blowing, impactful three days we spent last week in Charlotte, NC).

I have had coaches in other areas of my life, such as exercise, food, and nutrition. It has helped me get to the next level of competence and has, in general, been worth every penny. I have a Zone of Genius and they have theirs.

The following are 5 reasons why I think pretty much everyone needs a coach.

  1. You can’t  fix your problems with the same mindset that created them. As Einstein is believed to have said” “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Therefore, if you continue down the same old path you have been, you’re going to continue to get to the same end results.  A coach helps you see the limiting beliefs you have and the mindset that helped create the life situation you have created for yourself.  I have experienced many more A-Has with Christine about some of my own beliefs that I probably would not have discovered without her coaching.
  2. You’ve been trying for years but nothing seems to be working. Also known as “I don’t need help. I can do it on my own”. Perhaps you don’t NEED help and perhaps you CAN do it on your own. But are you? Have you gotten the results you’re looking for? Are you living the life you dreamed of? Are you following your bliss? The hard facts are that unless you are you’re living or close to achieving a lot in life that you’ve intended, you could use someone to help motivate you and to keep you focused.
  3. You Think You Already Know This Stuff. As Christine says the Buddha said, if you’re not living it, you don’t really know it. If you really already knew this stuff, you’d be living it. Professional athletes have coaches. Executives have coaches. When you want to learn a new skill, like playing the piano or learning a new language, you turn to an expert, right? Well, it’s the same with intangibles, like success, financial management, marketing, and search engine optimization. There are true experts out there who can help you leap frog over the learning curve and give you access to pre-vetted resources that will more than likely be immeasurably of help to you.
  4. You Think You Don’t Have the Time. This is a big one. If you think you don’t have the time, have you checked out what you’re spending your time on? Do you really know? If you mapped out your day, how much of it is spent in front of the TV, surfing the internet looking at hulu.com, Facebook, and your emails? And how much of the weekend is spent on activities that can actually be delegated, skipped, or bunched together? A coach can help hold up the mirror you need to see your life as it really is so you can free yourself from time sinks that are keeping you off your purposeful path.
  5. You Don’t Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up. Even if you don’t know where to begin on getting you the skills and life you want, your coach will. If you’re just not the best manager, if your life makes you depressed and you no longer have any idea what makes you happy, if you want to take your business to the next level and are so tired of treading the same ground month after month, all with the same results, working with someone to help you re-focus, re-strategize, and re-energize is exactly what you need. Your coach is going to be able to help you start to understand what it is you need to get you to the next step.

It doesn’t have to be me. But use the resources that are out there.  Take advantage of the knowledge gained by someone who has been there and done that to help you rapidly increase your expertise and knowledge. We can all use some help to keep us on track, motivated, and with our eyes on the prize.

 

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Recommitting

Written by Kate • September 2, 2010 •
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This past weekend I “got off track”. I had to do some errands, like getting the car inspected, that ended up taking longer than I had anticipated and I ended up not setting up my day, spending it, or ending it as I had intended.  And then it happened again Sunday.  And for me that means that I can’t quite enjoy what I’m doing, even if it’s worthwhile, because I’m not doing what I planned.

Nonetheless, I stayed with it and did not just give up and watch TV or anything else that for me would have been true checking out and going unconscious. I ended my day with the intention to begin again Monday with the things I want to do for the week.

In that past, that recommitment would have included a lot of self-scolding about how I can’t keep to a schedule, that I didn’t spend my week perfectly, and then being very strict with myself. This week, it was a gentle reentry into my desired routine and was very easy. Establishing a pattern helps with that reentry. Recommitting to the task, to the routine, to the new way of life does too.

It’s that recommitment that is the important part. Your life is going to keep on in the stream of time. No matter what you did yesterday, or what you intend tomorrow, now is all we have.  So in this moment, decide again to spend this moment as you mean to and let everything else fall away, especially those voices inside your head.

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