Currently being drafted, but ideas are usable.
TRUTH #1: WE HAVE LIMITED ‘ENERGY’
We only have x amount of energy, though the x amount can be increased above normal (or decreased) but beyond a certain limit there is no more energy. Therefore, it makes sense to spend it well.
We cannot do unlimited things all at once nor too many things that use up too much energy. (Duh!)
Although physical energy is a factor, I am talking about what I call “psych energy”, which is a similar idea to having a willpower reserve. It is scientifically proven (see the references in the Willpower section) that for all of us, focused effort and decisionmaking uses up a reserve. It is similarly to a muscle getting tired in a work out, you will be able to do less, until it is renewed.
Decisionmaking is one of those items that depletes ‘psych energy.’ (In studies, even if the people only had to decide which of 20 jams to buy, their subsequent ability to resist temptation dropped dramatically, compared to the control groups that didn’t have to do anything.) If we have to make decisions on every bit of everything that happens, we are caught up in minutiae and have no left over units to do more or bigger things.
THE MECHANISM EVOLVED TO SAVE ENERGY
In evolution, those survived who had an energy saving system that took care of all the survival related things automatically for us and also took care of a lot of details, automatically, so that we could reserve our energy and attention to other things.
We have a mechanism that helps us conserve our energy, which has evolved and will “want” to go for the laziest way to do things (not really, as it cannot want, but its mechanics have just evolved to do the equivalent: to be lazy).
YES, SIMPLE PROGRAMMING, BUT NOTHING MYSTERIOUS OR MAGICAL
Our inner core of the brain has a bunch of simple programming and remembering (recall) capabilities. They are adaptive, in a sense, to stimuli and to, own its own, checking to see whether we get the result we want. But note that it is generally totally mechanical. It “learns”, a lot like a computer, noting whatever particular thing happens and then noting the effect of it, and then fitting that into an overall pattern (where it remembers if what was done satisfied the objective?). If it did satisfy the objective (which is a form of reward) then it is so noted. The pattern that seems to work is then selected. Any pattern that is repeated then becomes repeatable, i.e. automatic, and is built into the brain in a stronger and stronger cable of “wiring” that makes the response more and more accessible and more and more strong based on repeating the item, adding more wiring as we go. (This is an analogy, as it has wiring, but also builds a “myelin sheath”.)
THE IMPORTANCE OF “AUTOMATIC”
The importance of having something be automatic is that it means it is virtually effortless, mapped out as a routine that doesn’t need to be redecided, so it does not engage the higher brain, which takes a lot more energy to run.
I repeat, and underline and bold it, if you use this mechanism well, your LIFE WILL BE REMARKABLY EFFORTLESS AND EASY. (It will also be more effective!) This is not some hype, as it is actually scientifically proven over and over, with no magic involved.
We have only so much “psych energy”, I’ll call it.
If we use it up deciding what to do or rethinking things, or we use it up battling one thought or inclination against another, then we’ll have less left to cope with other things – and life will seem to be a bit of a struggle. When a person says that “life is hard”, this is because the person is not using this mechanism well and is, in fact, struggling.
Just as it has been proven that our willpower reserve gets depleted if we exert our willpower, all of our Psych energy reserves follow the same rule. It’s much like using your muscles, as they will soon tire and you’ll be able to lift less.
DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE (DECIDE WHAT AND HOW, THOUGH)
To not use up so much energy, so that we have more energy left for what is more important, we must use delegation so that some other part of us does the work. Just as the same as having employees, we cannot delegate well or completely (meaning we have to intervene and correct or guide) without passing on a clear routine (checklists, procedures, etc.). No clear routine = more intervention = more using up of energy.
THE DIAGRAM/PICTURE OF MY CORPORATION
(“Corp means “body”; a corporation is an organization. A well running organization has an excellent system to run things, so it is more productive with fewer errors and/or costs)
As an analogy or metaphor, we actually have an “organization” given to us with all of its employees knowing how to do some basic things. We simply need to use them properly.
You (“I”) = CEO = the thinker, planner, decider, manager = high level thinking (System Two). This is Who I Am.
Support organization/system = functioning parts of the great machine (System One)
Principle of operation:
Delegate, clearly and definitively so that your energy is not used up
in constant intervention.
I focus on the important decisions and planning, but I only have limited time
and energy to do so.
People who operate without clearing things up, without deciding definitely what is to be done, or with poor planning strategy to determine what to do in the first place, do not do as well in life, often exhausting themselves in life, as they constantly have to alter or decide what or overly monitor what they are doing in the moment, often with some confusion.
Bringing the process of clarification higher up the “cognitive ladder,” where we are more capable of discriminating and deciding well, is the key. Although the primitive system(System One) will perceive a cue and a reward and automatically make simple decisions on what to do next time, those decisions and routines are often not very good ones. We have to intervene with the “employees” to stop the wrong moves and to correct them.
And the reason we do this is one you’ve heard over and over, and most likely trivialized:
“A stitch in time saves nine” (It’s takes time to unravel one’s mistakes if one continues them.).
“A person who solves problems promptly and completely has no problems.”
The earlier on we design a good routine, the less time we have to spend time correcting the routine and/or getting bad results (suffering). (This is a definite “duh!”, as it is a given, a simple idea.)
IF YOU DON’T DECIDE AND COMPLETE, THIS IS WHAT YOU’LL GET
A client of mine insists she “knows” lots about psychology, and she, indeed, does, but some of it is erroneous. The errors make a difference, but the bigger problem is that she has not “implemented” the knowledge. She has not designed the routines for getting the desired results. She also has not taught it to her employees (other parts of the brain).
So she keeps on repeating the old patterns and cannot understand how her superior knowledge and how she doesn’t understand how all the many hours she spend on this area is not producing the results she wants as quickly as she would think would happen.
She stops short. She gets distracted onto other issues or problems so that she does not complete.
She is hugely intelligent and smart, but the bad habit of not "completing" is simply causing her not to get the results she wants. Basically, if someone doesn't complete the work, they cannot possibly reap the rewards. If the farmer doesn't plant the seed, he knows it and can't BS himself about it. She needs to, with or without a coach/partner, answer the question: "Have I competed this sufficiently to expect to get the results I want?"
And, of course, the ultimate test will be how the "crop" turned out, as the results (effects) are always an indicator of the cause.
She doesn't know why her hard work isn't paying off enough.
It’s pretty apparent to me, however.
THE REASONS FOR NOT SUCCEEDING
She doesn’t follow through on the assignments and doesn’t write things down nor push her thinking to the point where she does what is required in order to get the results desired:
1. Using logic and facts to make good decisions and then
2. Formulating the right routine and then
3. Teaching the "employees" to do it by
a. By repetition to “learn the routine” (so it is automatic and effortless)
b. Having very clear instructions. [Note that strong people are not somehow magically strong. They got that way by following the path to become strong. They thought enough and learned enough about an issue to make a clear and definite decision on what to do. Consequently, they have high clarity, and, accordingly, They have clear instructions that they have built into themselves so that they know exactly what to do - and to know exactly what to do, on cannot be vague or they will be little chance that it will get done correctly!!!!]
4. Doing the routine in actual life BUT also monitoring it to see how it is going, correcting as needed.
(See Living Life As A Champion.)
5. Then her brain could continually be used for the higher functions, that require considerable energy to do.
[And remember, please that this reduces one's overall effort in life. It is not more work. It just required something in the present, invested to get huge returns in the future. The return is at least 10 to 1 in time and efficiency, with an enormous reduction in mistakes, stress, and effort. ]
As the CEO, then, you are freed up to invest your psych energy in areas with a high return. If you make good investments, you will, I guarantee, have high returns for your effort.
You will stop
1. Leaving small things undecided and
2. Using up your attention on
a. Minutiae and
B. Redeciding things in the moment
c. Using anxiety energy on the undecided and the unclear (which also breeds confusion and lack
3. Being exhausted and struggling in life (you'll be well-rested, paced, and pausing as needed)
A REPEATED REMINDER OF THE "OLD RESULTS"
A person who does not delegate well and train well will be exhausted, frazzled, always on alert for something going wrong – rapidly using up the supply of psych energy – and not being able to use it where it really counts, where it can add so much to live and living a life of grace and ease. Ultimately such a person’s body become exhausted and dysfunctional, so it operates with more mistakes and much less efficiently, wasting energy, running on flat tires, so to speak. This has its effect on psych energy, so that less is added to the tank and more is drained from the tank, often distracting you from what is important. This person deposits less energy in the tank or “battery”,so the supply is even smaller, then uses up more of the energy, using less of the higher brain and continuing to be dysfunctional, going into a continuing down spiral.
WHAT IS NEEDED
Somehow, I have been ineffective in trying to have her follow what is needed. This is what everyone needs, as part of a being a “procedure expert” who runs an excellent corporation that is highly profitable (profit is happiness and satisfaction):
a. Using clear problem definition so that good decisions can be made, with
enough facts, with sound reasoning applied (thinking it out) and then, and
this is essential, not forgetting to lay out a clear path as to what is to be
done. [The higher brain’s key function is planning – and that is why we
have survived as a species. And, as part of this, you must make a
commitment, a decision that this is worth doing.]
2. Fully installing the routine
Here you would teach it to your System One employees, using the same methods of teaching that work for employees in an organization:
a. Repetition to learn it and see how it works
1. A subpart of that, which will more quickly increase effectiveness and
reduce errors substantially, early on and in the future: Rehearsal
[Rehearsal is simply where you repeat, in a dry (practice) run, what is to be done, observing what you are doing and what happens, experiencing the mistakes you might have experienced in the implementation "out there" but only in your practice and then correcting.before regular use. \
Actual experience does bring up things that you hadn’t anticipated, so you’ll need to correct those as you go, after making your mistake. But you will also be able to anticipate many of the possible errors in your practice runs, because your brain is aware of most of what to watch out for. The rehearsal (or “practice run”) will, of course, teach System One the routine, as it is using repetition plus the direction of one's attention [paying attention strongly increases the rate of learning and skill development].
This “wires” it into the brain, and makes the wiring cord bigger so that it is the most convenient path for System One to choose. [But make no mistake about it, the old wiring is also present and can be reactivated under certain circumstances - don’t go to sleep about it, don’t forget this, like in Alcoholics Anonymous; eventually with non-use some wiring will go away, after it is seen as being useless, at which time the brain takes the material and uses it elsewhere.]
3. Monitoring what is happening, getting feedback, in order to instigate necessary corrections (resuming the process above, but requiring less effort than creating from the beginning)
THE SHORTEST DISTANCE BETWEEN TWO POINTS IS...
We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That is the truth that we are implementing, though not perfectly straightly: we learn and install what works early on, so that we are not deviating from what works - and thusly we end up further along the path of life, to the part that has huge payoffs, where we operate smartly and easily - an effortless life of grace and happiness.
RECALL HOW THIS HAS WORKED IN THE PAST
Remember how driving used to be such a chore, but notice how we can do the detailed routines and monitoring without any effort or attention at the basic levels. Note how that frees up a tremendous amount of energy for more important things, such as anticipating problems from other drivers and watching traffic patterns. Anything in life that involves cues, routines, and rewards (almost all of life) is exactly the same process as driving, though the details are different.
CRUISIN' THROUGH LIFE
If you can do a greater percentage of your activities without any thought, energy is left over and the brain can quiet itself instead of being so preoccupied. (Note how information overload requires processing and uses up the energy - the strongest sign being the stress we experience.) Go with your brain’s search for ways to save effort. Give it the inputs to make more things routine, without having to exert energy to decide or be concerned about it, so that it is left with a big reserve for when you need it.
A ROUTINE IS A "PROCEDURE"
These automatic routines often include alot of subroutines and alot of detail all mixed in, so that they are essentially amounting to a behavior, with complexities inherent in the behavior.
The process of converting a 'sequence of (multiple) actions into an automatic routine that is 'pretty large' is called ‘chunking’. We do much chunking automatically, where we have created many "metaprograms," which are a combination of sub-programs linked in to form a bigger program.
In the highly lauded Heartmath methods, they use metaprograms to accomplish certain ends more quickly. For instance, we use the metaphor, as it is certainly not true physically, of "getting in touch with our heart" to either calm us down, or to get us back to calmer thinking involving our true values, or to feel “warmth” and love. None of those are in the physical heart but they are in our big routine or metaprogram. Get in touch with your heart in your mind, and your breathing will slow down and you’ll breath deeper and be calmer. And you didn’t have to decide to do each of these, as they were just a part of your program!!! But it is a powerful program!
And, you might ask, how many routines/programs do we have? 1,000’s, even if we don’t include our automatic breathing and body functions. And how did we “learn” these? [Gradually, of course.] Either by happenstance, sometimes with poor conclusions, or by being taught or teaching ourselves them, but in each case it was also by repetition - which resulted in programming being fully installed.
REMEMBER THE REASON TO DO THIS
Note: without habit, we cannot free up our mental capacity for more important things.
There is magic here nor any superleaps from instant transformation - just plain old simple habit creation, but on purpose this time.
Design, practice, implement, monitor and improve --> live a great life.
Notice that my client has to repeat this process lots of times and deal with the same problem routine over and over. If she practices, she will quit far too soon - and the old program will automatically go into play - and she gets to live the old saying: "What you do not complete, you are doomed to repeat...and repeat...and repeat...and repeat......" .
FIRST UNDERSTAND THE STRUCTURE OF A HABIT
1. Cue --> 2. Routine --> 3. Reward
Repeat, repeat --> automatic --> effortless
WHAT WILL A STRONG ROUTINE INCLUDE
The characteristics of a strong routine are easy to determine and see:
1. The employees believe it is a good routine (factual, effective).
They are convinced of its effectiveness in getting the job done (getting the
reward, objective, goal - they, of course, observe the results in doing the
2. Employees have it available to do. (Available for reference when needed,
but they also "know it" by heart; they may also use checklists to assure all
the steps are done where it is important.,
Strength = Know it is true and accurate + Availability (wired in) + Feedback to know it is right + Clarity (know the steps clearly) + Commitment (definite decision) to using it or to not using the wrong one
Discussion of the pieces of a habit
A cue (anything that is a potential reminder) is always intertwined in the brain with the related reward. Once this is wired in, we'll notice the feeling of getting the reward occurs immediately with the cue. The cue equals an instant reward in the mind, as the mind is powerfully anticipating that the routine will be successful or at least believing in its possibility,
Examples: Pavlov’s dogs salivating after the repeat of the cue (ringing a bell) and learning an automatic association with the reward, with a powerful sense of anticipation.
Once we have the anticipation of the reward clearly wired in and, of course, wanting the reward, we start craving it. I like the reward and I crave it because it will feel so good or I'll feel so relieved. If I don’t have an alternative routine, I am stuck with repeating the same old routine, as I crave the reward and will take the path I know to get it. Once one quits smoking, the chemical addiction to it stops in about 100 hours. But the reward of relief or breathing deeply and relaxing or whatever must be attained in some other way, or I'll start smoking again. I must (almost always) have a routine that gets a similar reward. (No the reward is not sucking smoke, it is what we get from it: dopamine, feeling good, blowing off tension.) All of these rewards are available from healthy alternative, but we have to install those routines thoroughly or we'll go to what is easiest: the old path.
Remember the cue starts the routine to get that reward. I must have a strong alternative and a strong 'conversation routine' that will keep me on track and remind me of the new reward (victory, feeling strong, having less weight) that is added and the importance of avoiding the penalty of doing the old routine: "I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to have low energy" - and, of course, you have to have a convincing argument and believe in the truth of it for it to be strong!!!!
In case, I haven't been clear, the new routine has to provide the same reward (plus the new one) that was needed in the first place. The new routine will give oneself energy, say from a short walk, that will replace the dopamine hit from sucking in the toxin, as a poison activates the body to produce action against the invader.
Cues, triggers, stimuli
Other words you'll hear for cue might be trigger, stimulus, "activating event". Actually a cue or a happening or an event are not really a stimulus or an activator, so the words are actually misused; the actual stimulus is the thought association with a reward or fear, which then stimulates your action. That stimulation into action is often called 'motivation'. Incidentally, anyone who say "I'm just not motivated" is making a false statement, as we are always motivated. We are always doing something we are motivated to do, even if it is just watching TV. When a person starts to be fully responsible for his/her life, he/she realizes that he/she is the one who is motivating oneself, not some mysterious force or 'parent' - and then the person no longer uses the passive tense. They would, instead, say something like I chose to do this or I created myself being a couch potato for four hours...
THE OPTICAL DELUSION OF "IT IS NOT CHANGEABLE! (HOGWASH!)
We often default into the thinking of “if something reoccurs over time, and I haven’t been able to change it so far, therefore it will continue, it is locked in.” That is not actually logical, though many think it is true. (Versions of this: I am just this way, as my childhood... or, I am this way because anybody would be this way if they went through what I went through...it's normal... - all Bullbleep!)
It is just habit. And habits are not destiny!
What I can do instead of rolling over and giving up is:
1. Understand the habit mechanism and the pieces of the relevant habit, as I see more details I have more pieces I can manipulate - just as dealing with gears in a machine and knowing about how they work, we can get the machine overall to work again. If you break a habit into its components, you can fiddle with its pieces.
2. Choose to
a. Ignore them
b. Change them
c. Replace them
Note that one of the beauties of a habit is it allows the brain to no longer participate in decisionmaking, which takes alot of energy and attention. But the downside of this is that you are operating without your higher brain and everything will continue as it is if you don't check things out or look to see what to change. Basically, we have to engage the brain in deliberate decision making in order to correct (or fight) the habit that was often formed with little or no thought and is fairly often harmful or dysfunctional. If we don't do this, then the pattern "remains outside our heads" (outside our higher brain, consciousness, attention) and we just repeat and repeat the old pattern.
Once you have made a clear decision and every time you think of it, you get a dose of psych energy and your lower brain feels relieved. Whenever issues are "closed", the lower brain feels safe and no longer has to use up energy monitoring and attempting to protect. And that freed up energy allows you to be stronger and to have a higher willpower reserve.
As you’ve heard over and over in some form, your primitive brain is not smart enough to tell the difference between a bad habit and a good one (especially at least the more complex ones that do not involve immediate results). [It does understand the immediate reward part! And that is what it was designed for - and it worked in the caveman days. We would gorge ourselves on anything sweet, as it might be a long time before we would get that instant energy food again in the forest.]
CREATE NEW HABITS WHERE HABITS HAVE NEVER GONE BEFORE
Star Trek: Going where no man has gone before...
The key truth to realize first: Without habit loops our brains would be overwhelmed with data and decisions, mired in minutiae - which is a great source of stress. anything undecided and not routinized takes up energy and/or incurs stress.
Given that that is true, it would seem to make sense to find whole new habits to address things you don't address right now - and to attain rewards you've never sought before.
Meanwhile, let's go through our habits and see what we can do about them.
THE FORMAT FOR THE HABITS REVIEW LIST AND REPLACEMENT
(Email me when you are ready for this and I'll wrap it up.
For social grace and ease:
As teenagers some of us are able to copy others’ behaviors if we have good models or think enough about it and decide what to do so that we can become popular and suave. [I remember the awkwardness I felt as a teenager, but I had some experiences where I was around "cool people" for a lot of the time and found that I picked up what to do and seemed then to be 'in the flow' of it and for it to be natural to be "suave" or whatever.]
However, for most of us, we need additional observation about what works, a decision to do that, visualizing ourselves doing what works and seeing ourselves coming off well.
As many of these social behaviors must be routinized as possible - and then we’ll have the confidence and the freed up energy/attention units to be able to pay attention to what is going on and to manage it well.
How would we do that?
I wish as a teenager that I had kept a journal where I wrote down daily what worked, what didn't work, and what others did that worked. And then that I decided from that how to act and what to learn to be a better conversationalist - even how to move in a "cool" way, practicing in the mirror.
If my plans for this Life Management Alliance go as planned, I will have available a series of videos that show how people move, talk, and think, so that people can see "models" of what to do. It would save a lot of haphazard learning and a lot of mistakes and suffering!
Panic or anxiety attacks
If we practice through visualizing what is going on in a pretend situation and we practice “noticing” the signals, we will develop a routine to spot and be aware of signals of stress and an escalating cycle of thoughts and poor breathing. We can practice breathing only through the nose and deep stomach breathing while in the situation- and how to excuse yourself when you need to go breath into a paper bag.
Each signal is a “cue”, and wherever there is a cue we need to have a routine that is a good one. Like closing your mouth so that you cannot hyperventilate, plus taking a slow deep breath. And then you’ve got to deal with the reinforcing thoughts that 'there will be a problem that will leave you being stupid' and 'looked down on' and/or exhausted and suffering, all of which are actually optional, though not optional in the moment if you don’t have a routine (and an exact, rehearsed conversation to say) to handle it, you’ll just have the old routines continue to hype you up the stress spiral into your brain’s thinking it is being in panic over something that is made, falsely, into a huge threat.
And, of course, even if you design a great routine, you’ll not implement it in the moment, as it will not yet be routine AND when you’re in high stress your brain will be shut off in the emergency (so you can fight or flee), so you’ll not make good decision. You have to have a pattern to access!! - and the pathway you’ll go down will be the one that is most available.
How long should you practice?
Given how strong the habit is, I would recommend no less than 40 hours. Then check to see if you can recall all of your designed conversation and routine automatically and easily. If necessary, add another 40 hours. Don't shortchange yourself.
How can this affect other things?
In a classic book on time management McKay, has you select something that you can practice in excellence each morning for a few minutes. And, yes, of course, you’ll get better at what you are practicing. But you’ll find that you’re also practicing “excellence”, noticing what is working and what isn’t and then correcting it (as in Living Life As A Life Champion).
Practicing our internal or external conversations
As with any routine, we look at what isn’t working and then we identify the routine and then we correct it, making as good a decision as we can by using logic and facts, so that we have a good routine - and then we practice it.
Those who keep on having bad internal conversations keep doing so because of
1. Repeating a bad conversation so it becomes stronger and stronger (even stuff you think is nonsense will be programmed in)
2. Not noticing what is a bad conversation and not really nailing it down, which is always involving writing it down if one is successful and asking what am I telling myself (and what am I telling myself about what I just told myself) until I get the complete conversation down so that I know what to correct.
3. I determine and decide with logic and reason and facts that will work better and I write that in, often having to improve it or get outside viewpoints and help (from people who are objective and intelligent about it, perhaps also knowledgeable)
4. I establish what is true and valid and make sure I am clear on that, that I understand what is involved. If I don’t believe it, there is diminished strength, diminish certainty - notice that if there is not certainty, then the brain has to keep being concerned about making decisions and/or battling against the opposite - that doesn’t work!!! You cannot affirm something that is not legitimately firm or if you are in doubt you’ll cancel it out - your energy I mean, by pushing in two opposite directions..... fighting needlessly, uselessly, unproductively and going nowhere, except perhaps into frustration and getting tired, using up energy that would be good for other things.
1. I write the routine
2. I implement the routine
a. Installing by repetition, until it meets the criteria of being automatically
3. Testing it to verify it is working of course.