This morning I decided to get on with it. It was something that I had been putting off – and in my head for good reason.
Why on earth would I want to wake up, and instead of hitting the snooze button, step out of bed, and step into an ice bath?
On a purely logical, scientific side, there were a myriad of reasons. For one, the adrenaline and dopamine spikes are truly incredible.
On the other hand, it was about doing something that I knew I didn’t want to.
Right on cue, before I even started to peel back the covers from my bed, my mind – my inner critic – fired up. ‘You don’t really want to do this,’ it calmly said. ‘Listen, why don’t you just do it tomorrow’.
I had become wise to this inner voice. I learned that it was more often than not, not trying to sabotage my progress, but arose out of a deep-seated desire to protect me from any inconveniences, pain, or discomfort. I chuckled to myself.
Anyone around me seeing this would probably have considered me a complete weirdo, laughing to myself – or at myself. The phrase I have adopted when this voice now pops up, which I say to myself in a cheeky, playful way is simply ‘remember, I don’t negotiate with terrorists’. It’s a phrase that, at least for me, is enough to remind this inner critic, this part in me that puts up blocks, that we’re not going to open a dialogue, and that these complaints or blocks to actions are just that. Visceral thoughts.
In a later post, we’ll look at how the mind, and our thoughts work. But the main topic in this post is around our scripts, our habits. For many people unfamiliar with deep listening, or inner awareness, they may not even notice the inner critic, or these blocking suggestions that are brought forward.
Before we build an awareness that takes some practice, we naively believe that these things are ‘us’. Instead of it just being a ‘part of us’. It might seem a silly, almost semantic distinction. But once we begin to grasp the fact that we are bigger than any thought, feeling, or emotion, we regain control and power.
Not power to reframe it, not power to have an argument with it. But power to sit with it. To notice it.
Pema Chodron, the Buddhist monk, states that it is this process of becoming aware of our deepest feelings and thoughts that allows us to connect with ourselves – not with the aim of beating ourselves up for having such thinking, but to develop deep, unconditional compassion for ourselves.
But let’s pedal back to the point before we live life with fuller awareness. Where, when thoughts arise, we implicitly believe them to be accurate, true. A state that I call living on autopilot.
Even when we build awareness, there will be plenty of moments in life where we follow deeply ingrained scripts and habits. Has anyone ever commented on the uncanny likeness in how you do a task, speak a phrase, or approach a problem to one or even both of your parents? Our lives are made up of a rich tapestry of experiences.
As we are sense-making machines – that is, when we experience something for the first time, we aim to rationalise and make sense of its benefits, threats or deeper meaning. In this state, we learn habits. These could be good habits, such as, as soon as I wake up, I get up and don’t hit snooze. Or they could be bad habits, such as, when I feel fatigued, drained or stressed, I make myself feel better by eating a chocolate bar / opening wine / numbing myself with Netflix / social media / or buying something expensive.
There is a dynamic interplay between our conscious observations and intentions and the subconscious scripts that operate silently beneath the surface. Just like the subtle currents beneath a calm sea, these subconscious narratives, habits and beliefs significantly influence the course of our actions, and in turn our lives. There is an important question at the start of any self-awareness process.
How many of these narratives and habits own you?
It’s all too easy to live on autopilot. And many people do, living their lives based on the habits and routines that they were given, developed or picked up as a child from their parents, carers, or peers. But many of these early learnt scripts – they weren’t carefully selected and installed in us. They were in most part a subconscious passing on of beliefs, habits, and narratives, that they in turn had been passed subconsciously from their parents, carers, and peers. And so it goes on.
It’s one of the reasons that cultural philosophy takes such a long time to shift or change. The issue is, however, that when we live our lives on autopilot, directed by these scripts, we can get stuck, they can lead to us misliving our lives, and block us from ever getting close to the things we really want.
Within the PPM Method, early in the course we start to build awareness in this area. Uncovering habits that don’t serve us, or hold us back. Uncovering limiting beliefs that stop us pressing forward or pin us in a corner.
This is not an exercise in intellectualization; it’s a venture into self-discovery that uses the body’s deep feelings and inner awareness as primary tools. When we tap into this deeper, stiller, feeling of the body, called many things in different camps from a ‘felt-sense’ in Focusing, to a somatic feeling, we bypass the idle chatter of the mind and direct our attention to the sensations arising in the body. At first this may seem a little strange.
For one, not many people have ever thought of using their physical body as a way of gaining understanding of what seem to be cognitive issues. But this comes from our culture’s promotion of thinking that is only focused on what occurs from the neck up.
Just as we can, if trained well, read a person’s body to see if they are being genuine and honest with us, we can train ourselves to become finely attuned to far smaller, but no less accurate, sensations within our own bodies that allow us to discover what resonates, and what lies beneath. Using this technique, we question the scripts that confine us within the boundaries of doubt, fear, and unworthiness. We can find a quiet moment, and ask ourselves, “Does this belief serve my highest good?” We use our refined felt-sense to test these beliefs, to see how they resonate with our truth. And most importantly, we grant ourselves the permission to let go of those beliefs that do not.
Do not mistake this process for an easy feat.
To take the wheel from autopilot requires courage. It involves confronting the uncomfortable, it involves change. But the rewards are invaluable. It is an opportunity to reclaim ownership of your life, to align your external world with your internal truth, to cultivate habits that serve your purpose, and to rewrite your scripts in a way that honours your growth and potential.
Remember, our subconscious scripts and habits only own us if we remain unaware of their influence. Through understanding and conscious choice, we can transition from being passive recipients of inherited narratives to becoming active authors of our life story. In the PPM Method course, we are committed to guiding you on this empowering journey.