Part Three- Belief Systems and Power tools
self-discipline module 9
We are at part-three of this course. You are doing well. In this part, we are addressing the underlying belief system. When you deeply probe yourself, you may encounter in you deep seated beliefs that are incompatible with your identity as a disciple of the Lord, loved and accompanied by Him dearly. These false beliefs are like the darnel that grows with the good seed (Mt. 13.25) and even act as thorns that choke the word as it grows (Mt. 13.7). For us self-discipline is fundamentally conquering oneself for Christ and surrendering the un-evangelized zones in us for the Good News of God’s Kingdom. It is in the terrain of our belief system that the Word of God has to sprout and bear a harvest of hundred fold. The forthcoming modules take a deeper look into our belief system.
Subconscious Belief Systems
And Five Power Tools
Understanding Subconscious Belief Systems
To further strengthen your positive psychological forces, and weaken your negative ones, you will now begin to develop an awareness of the underlying attitudes and beliefs that created the subconscious fears about which you have been learning. For behind each of these fears lies an irrational, self-defeating belief. Upon these beliefs, attitudes are formed. These attitudes, some of which we all subscribe to, determine our daily actions and inactions. The following section of this self-discipline program provides you with information designed to make you aware of self-defeating beliefs and how they operate.
Important: You need to know that most elements in the self-defeating belief system operate subconsciously. So before you can neutralize their influences on your behavior, you must first become aware of their existence, then recognize when they are at work, then you can minimize their influence. In other words, to improve your self-discipline you need to shift your self-defeating beliefs from your subconscious into your conscious. Then and only then can you effectively deal with them. So, until you deal with your self-defeating beliefs, you will be plagued by never-started projects and half-finished projects; and you won’t know why.
. . . plus five Self-discipline power tools
In addition to telling you about the subconscious beliefs that inhibit the development and application of self-discipline, this section will provide you with five power tools that will quickly build up your self-discipline muscle. But here is the key to using these tools: Timing!
To be effective, each tool needs to be used at a specific stage of the self-discipline process. Psychologically speaking, whatever you do (or don’t do) happens in stages.
When you consciously guide each stage to your desired outcome, you are practicing self-discipline. You may not be aware of it but during the self-discipline process you are applying specific behavior tools to get you started and move you along from beginning to completion. Self-discipline problems occur when people don’t apply the appropriate tools that work best at a particular stage.
The main four stages of the self-discipline process are:
- 1.Decision to act
Most people wrongfully start the self-discipline process at the Action Stage, when in fact they are psychologically at the Decision or Preparation Stage. That is why so much exercise equipment ends up gathering dust in the garage, why so many diets are prematurely abandoned, and why so many business plans never hatch.
Why do so many people begin every new year with personal calendars, schedule books, activity organizers, etc., but stop using them in a few weeks? These wonderful tools don’t work because people try to use them prematurely. These are tools for the Action Stage, but if the person using them happens to be at the Preparation Stage, these tools are almost useless. In other words, it is useless to use a screwdriver to sink a nail or use a hammer to turn a screw. Both tools can be tremendously helpful, but only if they are used at the right time.
Each of the five power tools you are about to receive were designed to be used at specific stages of any task you attempt, regardless of whether the task is a one-time endeavor or an ongoing life change. The success of each stage depends upon how much attention you paid to the previous stage. Don’t attempt to built the penthouse before you build a solid ground floor. If you pay proper attention to the Decision Stage and the Preparation Stage, you maximize your chances of success at the Action Stage and the Completion/Maintenance Stage.
Remember:Self-discipline is a process with stages and steps, and problems occur when people don’t recognize what stage they’re in.
Important: The Decision and Preparation Stages must be worked on before the Action Stage. Later you’ll learn about how the different stages work.
To repeat: Each day for the next five days, you will be presented with a brief explanation of a common subconscious belief that works against self-discipline. Also each day, you will find a description of a psychological power tool. Put these tools to work immediately!
- 1.“All or Nothing”& Visualization
The “All or Nothing” Attitude
- “There are only winners and losers,”
- “There is only one right way to do it.”
- “Either do it right or don’t do it at all.”
The preceding statements represent a belief that fosters self-defeating behavior. Every bit of research in human behavior reveals that life isn’t simply black or white, win or lose, good or bad. Life, for the most part, is lived in the grey area, somewhere between the two extremes.
The prevalent but irrational “All or Nothing” attitude is what keeps gambling houses worldwide pulling in billions. The “All or Nothing” gambler always ends up with nothing. This extremist attitude spawns many of the subconscious fears we previously explored. “All or Nothing” thinking paralyzes our efforts at getting ourselves into a pattern of self-discipline because we feel, subconsciously, that we might stumble. And because “All or Nothing” thinking equates a stumble with a fall, we feel that it’s safer not to even try to pursue our goals.
Besides, under this belief system success means living a life of funless workaholism. Who wants that? Certainly not Hyde.
And what about the part of self-discipline that says you need to break big jobs down into small, bite-sized tasks so you won’t feel too overwhelmed to get started? Well, unfortunately, if all you can see is the whole overwhelming project, you will never get yourself to begin because you can’t feel comfortable taking small steps; you must do it All. It’s an “All or Nothing” proposition you tell yourself.
Since it is seldom possible to do any project all at once, you do nothing. Well, of course. With images of “All or Nothing” hanging over your head, you will find reasons to prevent attempting endeavors that require step-by-step self-discipline.
And finally, you subconsciously tell yourself that if your plan doesn’t work, you will be Nothing, a loser. If you define yourself only as either a champ or a chump, then everything is defined in terms of life and death. This stress provoking proposition alone is enough to harpooon your self-discipline efforts. Under such terms, your inner sense of self-preservation will keep you from starting something that you might not finish. The irony, of course, is that you cannot possibly finish something unless you start it. And getting started is usually the most difficult step of any project.
To approach life in “All or Nothing” terms is to multiply your negative psychological forces tenfold. This means that in essence, you’re working against yourself. This type of inner battle will drain you of the energy necessary for perseverance toward any goal. “All or Nothing” thinking is an important element in subconscious fears, which are self-discipline’s greatest obstacle.
Power Tool: Visualization
Visualization is one of the easiest and most effective self-discipline tools at your disposal. It also works well as a time management technique. The best part about visualization is that you already do it. You do it when you remember something from the past, when you contemplate the present, and when you fantasize about the future. Visualization refers to all the movies in your mind. Subconsciously you use visualization thousands of times a day. Consciously you use it at least a hundred times a day. So, how does this relate to self-discipline?
All of your actions and non-actions are directed by the mental images that you create about your chosen goal or project. When you choose a goal or project, your mental images will either support your efforts or oppose your efforts.
Important: Hyde’s fears and doubts, the ones that weaken your self-discipline, frequently take the form of images rather than words. These negative images can be consciously transformed into positive images. Visualization is simply self-talk that uses mental pictures rather than words. A few pages back you learned about verbal self-talk. You learned that the specific words you say to yourself are important in your self-discipline efforts. You know that you can use specific, concrete words and phrases to support every step of your goal or project. But words work with only a part of your psychological system, your intellect.
Hyde mixes the poisons that you learned about earlier with a variety of negative mental images and uses the mixture to sidetrack your self-discipline efforts. When this happens, you need to repeatedly visualize the positive aspects of your goal or project. You need to use visualization at every stage of the self-discipline process.
Visualization is self-talk in Hyde’s favorite language. So to offset Hyde’s negative influences. You need to replace Hyde’s self-defeating mental images with supportive mental images. When you choose a project or goal, you can also choose mental images that make you less susceptible to Hyde’s resistances while simultaneously programming your subconscious mind to motivate you and magnify your powers of perseverance.
Consciously create vivid mental movies that involve your senses. Let’s say that your goal is to start rising an hour earlier to exercise. Then every day for a week or two before you rise earlier for the first time, visualize yourself doing it. Hear the alarm. See yourself stretching and rising. Smell the morning. Then seeyourself doing specific exercises.
The key is to include many specific details in your visualizations. During the week prior to going into action on your project, each day visualize yourself in action as often as you possibly can; ten times, fifty times, a hundred times daily. Your visualization needs only a few seconds to be effective. Sure, it would be more effective if you close your eyes and visualize for thirty minutes each time.
But if you can only catch twenty or thirty seconds, here and there, fine. I repeat, practice visualization every day for a week before you go into the action stage of your project. Each time you visualize yourself actually doing your project, or the various parts of your project, you gain self-discipline support from your subconscious, and simultaneously weaken Hyde’s ability to stall your action.
Visualization prior to action will firm up your commitment, increase your confidence, validate your ability, motivate you, and most important, it will reduce Hyde’s influence.
In other words, the simple act of visualizing yourself confidently and adequately doing the in-between steps of your overall goal will maximize your inner strengths and minimize your subconscious fears and doubts. Visualization will enlist your subconscious mind to help you accomplish all the steps in your project. Once you get your subconscious mind working for you, it will continue working for you even when you are unaware of its supportive activity.
Remember: Visualization works best when you visualize all the specifics of the activity you want to do. In your mind: see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the location, clothes, room, temperature, details, details, details. Make it real. The more you practice visualization the easier it will become. So, mentally, many times a day, for a few seconds, use visualization to experience yourself doing what you want to do. Visualization is quick, easy, and remarkably effective.
For prayer and reflection: Jesus used parables and metaphors amply to implant the Kingdom values in his hearers and to replace old frightful or self-defeating images about God, neighbours with empowering images. Recall the impact of the biblical images in you: Awaiting Father and the prodigal son; Good Samaritan, seed, widow in the temple, leaven, last judgment, lilies in the field, fig tree, pearl,…
Home work to be sent: Visualize one of your important projects in hand at present and visualize it in steps and try the proposals of this module and see its effects on you. Observe yourself and narrate its effect on your mental climate and body. Summarize your insights.