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1:15 – Why doing “thought work” right now is so important
4:00 – How to use the AVARA model to help with the “mind virus” that’s going around
23:45 Turning your anxiety into clarity of vision so you can get into action on solutions
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This is episode 45 – How to Develop Inner Security in Chaotic Times.
With all the uncertainty and fear happening the world, it’s easy to get lost in the survival brain trigger cycle. There are certain types of mind stories that activate the whole brain, and certain types that activate the survival brain. In case you haven’t been listening to other podcasts in my series, a mind story is an entire interpretation you give to a situation that involves characters, motivations, theme plot, just like a novelist paints a whole picture of what a certain reality is about. We all do that regularly, with most people it happens subconsciously, meaning they are running on programs they picked up from society, their parents, the media…and they let those dictate their interpretations, which create certain emotions which lead to certain actions and results that they may not want.
On the other hand, some people have developed methods for choosing their interpretations consciously. I do believe that the whole purpose of life is about moving from letting programs run you, to choosing your interpretations consciously. So, that’s what today’s episode is about, giving you a method for doing that. The more tools you have like this, the better. With what’s happening now on a global scale it is a perfect opportunity to develop and strengthen your discernment, and your power of choice. And I know if you’re listening to this, you are probably a thought leader, coach, consultant, speaker or thinking of doing that, and you are likely interested in this type of topic.
And you know that this is a time for the philosophers and deeper thinkers of the world to do their best work, to be of great value to others. That said, even people who study their own mind, and make those better choices are challenged these days when many things in their normal life start to go sideways. For example, with Dave and I, we are in the middle of a move this month , which I tend to find stressful by itself. Now everything is going into lockdown. In addition, we both had speaking engagements cancel. I’m sure you have your own version of things not working out the way you need them to at this point in time.
Of course I want to remind everyone that without the interpretation, there is no fear. I will give an example here of me using our AVARA model from the MindStory Inner Coach Book so you know what I’m talking about. If you’d like to follow along, we’ve made this book available for free right now, because it’s been so helpful for people who are dealing with the stresses of this global pandemic on top of all their other regular obligations and stressors. You’ll see that link in the shownotes, or just go to https://mindstoryacademy.com/free/ You can also just do it in your head if you’re driving.
So the first two parts of the model are to separate the issue from the facts. Step A is stating the issue, and you can do this for yourself right now with an issue you have. It does help to write it down as it’s like getting your thoughts out of the looping state in the background of your brain and putting them in front of your brain, where you could use your Neo cortex or higher brain functioning to help sort out and see what’s useful and what isn’t. But if you do this enough in your life, you can often just do it in your head.
This is just freeform writing down what’s bothering you. As I said, getting it out of your head and on paper will help you activate the witness consciousness, so that you are not fully run by the survival brain. I have many particular things triggering my survival brain at the moment, the move by itself from a place I’ve lived for 12 years is triggering, then add to that things like our business events cancelling. So Step A is full of facts about the situation but also what it means to you. In my case, I wrote – I feel stressed because we’re moving from a place I’ve been in for 12 years. It’s been a huge job to sort through all our belongings and either throw out, donate or sell most of it. Although I want to move, letting go feels hard, and I’ve had a few sleepless nights. Trying to do that on top of all my other obligations has meant long days and tiring work. Now with the virus, and lockdowns and events cancelling..we don’t know how to make decisions right now, because we don’t have enough information, and yet we have to make decisions soon.
Now, step B is just the facts. That’s where you see if you can state what you wrote in step A as objectively as possible. That means to separate facts from your interpretation, no adjectives, adverbs or descriptive phrases. Just the issue without your feelings or thoughts about it. In my case I wrote, We are moving this month. Five events canceled due to the coronavirus. Three services we use are on lockdown. Do you see how usually Step B is shorter, to the point just factual. Just doing those two parts alone is huge. So see if you could just state your issue in one or two maybe three factual sentences. You know how the police ask witnesses, just give us the facts ma’am. So ask your brain to just give you the facts.
Now in step C you want to explore the limiting version of your mind story about the situation. This is where you break down your mind story into its component parts, and then in step D you will explore a more empowering version. Within both step C and step D are the five parts of the model which are Acceptance Vision Action Reprogram and Attention, or AVARA.
The first part of Step C is acceptance. This is where you write a sentence such as I am plus and negative feeling because plus a negative thought plus what you’re making the situation mean. So I write I am feeling in a panic, because of my move and so many things canceling and this virus going around the world. I making the situation mean that life is working against me, that I’ve done something wrong, that other people in the world are making bad decisions, that I don’t have enough information to make the right decision, that a matter what decision we make it will have a bad outcome.
Now you might notice this sounds quite neurotic, catastrophic, doom and gloom. But that’s what the survival brain does. It is very important that you give space for that rather than pretend you don’t have those kind of thoughts going on. Because if you try to pretend you don’t have those thoughts, then they go into the shadows, they start to run you and you try to push them away through some sort of addictive behavior.
Even people who are normally very mature, centered, and calm can go through periods like this where their survival brain gives them all kinds of catastrophic thoughts. You don’t want to fight with yourself, push these away, pretend this isn’t going on, because then you strengthen it all. So the Acceptance part of the model is about just being really clear about what’s going on, and accepting that it’s going on, being compassionate with yourself, and curious about the situation. It’s like you are dealing with a child who’s having a nightmare or temper tantrum, where you just give them lots of love and acceptance and find out what’s going on and then you can help calm them down, but you can’t really do that if you don’t know what’s going on. Make sense. So that’s what I’m doing with myself here. So think about that with your situation, how can you be more accepting of these survival brain kind of thoughts?
The second part of step C which is exploring the limiting mind story is Vision. What is your possible future year from now if you live from this limiting mind story. Be specific. You can use any period of time, but a year can be useful, or six months, or in my case I thought it makes sense to choose three months, because I have this assumption that things will calm down in the world in three months, of course I could be wrong about that. If I keep living from this place, which has caused me a few sleepless nights, and procrastination because I’m not making a decision, because I am lost in confusion, and I’m not thinking very clearly what will life be like?
So three months from now I could find myself sick, because if you really want to lower your immune system, according to many researchers such as Dr. Bruce Lipton, just stay in a perpetual state of worry. That will lower your immune system much more quickly than anything else. And watching the media and social media right now seriously triggers the survival brain, which is adding to this worry, stress and discomfort of moving, so it ups my chances of getting sick either from the virus or just from exhaustion.
It also shuts down my creative problem-solving mind, because, the survival brain is good at fight or flight, but not solving complex problems. I also find, that operating from the survival brain shuts off magic, synchronicity, where things that seem dire become gifts in disguise. I’m sure you have experienced that phenomenon, when you change how you view the world, the world changes. Literally great opportunities usually show up, the minute I change my perspective. So, this part is just about confronting yourself with the consequences of living from a limiting mind story.
So think about that with your situation, what are the 3-6-12 month consequences of living from this limiting mindstory for you? It’s not to scare yourself, but just to be aware of what you’re creating in your life by the thoughts you choosing to have.
So the 3rd part of the limiting MindStory is Action – what action or inaction will this perspective lead to? For me, not sleeping well, spending far too much time reading and rereading the same facts about this virus, thinking I don’t have any good choices to make, stuck in confusion about how to move forward, feeling like every direction is blocked, not making a decision.
What about your situation? What actions are you taking that might not be serving you? What actions are you not taking that are not serving you?
The 4th part of the limiting mine story is Reprogram. In Vision we talked about a longer-term of 3 to 12 months, and reprogram we explore what’s happening recently that made you think of this issue. This is where you use the present tense as if you were there now. In my case, it’s 4:30 am in the morning and I wake up thinking about the 47 things I have to do to prepare for the move, and having an inner war about each possible decision, unable to just make a decision to move forward. It’s important that you pick a moment in time in your situation so that we can go back to it when you have the more empowering mind story.
The 5th part of the limiting mind a story is Attention. This is where you want to get down to maybe the deeper predominant self talk or core beliefs that are generating this mind story. It may seem similar to what you wrote in the acceptance part, but often you explore this enough that you can get down to something a bit more core. In my case, I said I’m not able to break free from this worry, even though that’s what I supposedly help other people do. I’m not walking my talk, life is against me. So think about that in your situation, these hard-core beliefs are the ones that really cause the biggest trouble like me thinking I’m supposed to always be perfect and never worry, and that life is against me. That’s one of the most corrupting thoughts a person can have, and yet a lot of people have it, I know I’m not alone in that, especially when things like economic downturns, pestilence, war, disastrous weather hits, it seems like life is against us as humans. So this is where your deeper philosophical thoughts can rise to the surface and you can decide what you want to keep or not.
So now we move into step D which is the empowering mind story. So it helps if you have your limiting mind story written out, because you’ll use that as the basis for transforming your thoughts. So we start again at acceptance only now it’s helpful to do a turnaround in this way. What I wrote before is – I’m feeling in a panic, because of my move and so many things canceling and this virus going around the world. I making the situation mean that life is working against me, that I’ve done something wrong, that other people in the world are making bad decisions, that I don’t have enough information to make the right decision, that a matter what decision we make it will have a bad outcome — so instead I start with the sentence – I have chosen to feel then just pick the opposite, so my case I wrote I have chosen to feel calm and clear because of how I’m thinking. You always want to end that sentence with, because of how I’m thinking because it reminds you that feelings are NOT caused by external circumstances, but by your thoughts. Then you want to answer this question – a better meaning I could give this situation is… In my case I said a better meaning I could give the situation is that the crisis keeps me examining my own thoughts, which makes me a laboratory for what I’m teaching others, it’s making me have to think outside the box and reach out for more help, having less business events to attend is actually making it easier to do this move, because I can just focus on that. And I listed a number of other reasons why I could feel clear and calm about how to move forward. So you want to do that for yourself – ask yourself — what is a better meaning I could give to this issue that would help me feel better about it? This isn’t to negate the challenging aspect of things you’re dealing with, but the human survival brain does tend to look at things from a very negative perspective, so this is just to balance things out.
The second part of step D is about vision – what is your possible future year from now if you live from this more empowering mind story? So if I’m living from that better interpretation of the situation, a year from now I will likely have turned this situation to our advantage, made better, wiser decisions rather than panicked decisions.
The third part of step D is action. If you fully believed in your vision above, what are some ways to get there, no editing, any idea goes. So if a year from now I can see that I turned the situation to our advantage, what are specific ideas for doing that now? Finding an interim place to move that doesn’t involve getting on an airplane, doing online presentations instead of live ones, taking this time to do more inner work, taking this time to catch up on projects that I’ve back burnered, finishing my book, spending more time with family. I can tell you, after I made that list I felt so much better, I totally saw the situation in a good light. So what are specific things you could do now to reach this vision?
The fourth part of step D is reprogram. What is a similar event or experience that might happen in the near future that is now playing out in a more empowering way? Use present tense as if you were there now. I wrote – I wake up in the middle of the night and feel safe, protected and sure about how to make decisions in a constructive way. So I’m mentally rehearsing myself doing that, I’m training my brain to not go into a panic mode in the middle the night, but to instead have thoughts that make me feel calm. And that’s exactly what happened. You don’t have to be a victim of survival brain looping thoughts. Did it happen like that right away? No. I had to build the muscle of just calming my brain down, it took about three nights of doing it but now I just sleep through the night peacefully.
The fifth part of step D is attention. What might be new self talk that is more empowering? So that’s where you go back to the negative self talk from the limiting mind story and just to a turnaround on it. Again, these are core beliefs that you may not believe just yet, but if you mentally rehearse them, write them down, say them to yourself eventually your subconscious mind will pick up on them, because whatever you focus on grows. And I like the statement – every day in every way I’m more and then add in the more empowering self talk. In this case, I said – every day in every way I’m more okay with myself even if I’m stressed, I’m more able to train my survival brain to calm down, and I more often see how life is supporting me. Literally, right after I did that statement, an email came in about an opportunity I was now available for because I wasn’t away speaking at a conference.
So think about that in your situation, these core beliefs are the ones that really change everything for the better if you focus on them.
The final part in step E is just one small step you can take to ensure this new, empowering mind a story takes root. So one small step with a date and who’s going to do it. In my case, I created a three-month plan for totally focusing on the online part of my business. My online business has always been about 50%, but now I see that I need to ramp it up, meetings are canceling for the next few months, so I’m glad I have so much of an online presence already, and I’m here to help other speakers to the same thing, and to give help to anyone who really wants to build their online classes, coaching, consulting and speaking going. So it’s exciting to just focus on that full-time now, and to help people with their mindset with all the tools we have at the mind story coaching Academy.
So hopefully that’s helpful for you, do check out the free book link, because you also get two short guided audios that are called neuro-blueprints. They are form of mental rehearsal that opens up communication between your conscious and subconscious mind to deepen these kind of core belief changes. One is called how to end self sabotage, it’s one you would use at night. The other is called your hero’s journey, which is about reframing the challenges of your life in terms of a mythic adventure and how it’s forged you in the fire of wisdom to now help others, sometimes it’s hard to see until you do a process like this. And this is a version you would do in the morning. These take chapters 2 and 10 of the book to a much deeper level. All together, the audios and the book come to $94 but you can get them free right now.
Also, if you’d like to check out our certification program in coaching and speaking you can just go to MindstoryAcademy.com and you’ll see the tab for Certification. It’s where we train you how to make extra income or even your next million working online, from the comfort of your own home, living from anywhere making a huge difference while making a great living. Until we talk again, stay safe, do this work on the meaning you’re giving situations around you, you not only be doing yourself a favor, but all those who count on you to be there for them. Until next time, I’m Carla Rieger, thanks for listening.