Practice, Practice, Practice

It astounds me how, after reading, studying, receiving outside help, talking, spotting my patterns, become aware of a different perception or viewpoint, I can STILL fall in to my old ways of thinking and believing my childhood rules about the world. Some are really helpful and some cause me discomfort and I would like to change them.

You may have a similar thing that goes on for you, a behaviour which comes back time after time; something that is quite frequent and that you have several memories of, you may even remember an incidence of it when you were quite young – a strong memory.

My manta of ‘spot it, stop it, choose’ holds true. And yes, at each stage, the missing piece is practice.

As the brain learns and establishes rules, the physiology of how your brain is wired changes, it digs metaphorical pathways in the brain’s actual structure and connects synapses. Once established and practised, these connections are like short cuts. There is simply too much information all of the time to look at each scenario and evaluate it, and so we take a short cut, based on evidence going back in time, to lead us to action.

In my case, I have an unwritten rule that if you ever gossip you will get into trouble. Not a bad rule, keeps me being kind I guess. However, my brain generalises this to ‘having a negative judgement of others is bad’. What can this lead to: energy spent, guilt, time wasted on worry, watching everything I say, fearing it will be my fault if I influence anyone else.

The rule, I think, originated from something that happened when I was about 7 years old. And yet I still perpetuate it, even though I am aware, it still creeps in at times.

If I objectively look at that rule now, I can spot a few missing pieces of information: all the humans I have ever met make judgements; I don’t make what I would call unfair judgements anyway; other people make up their own minds and don’t rely on what I think; if I were to let all judgements in then I will actually protect myself too.

So, how do I make the leap from old beliefs to new? I need the practice, by building up some evidence that the world will not end, I will not unduly influence others, I will not be told off by a headteacher……in fact perhaps I will simply be more discerning in my choices and be stronger. Once I build up the evidence, my brain and its plasticity will be able to build new pathways.

That is why I say spot it, stop it, choose…….and also practise!

What unspoken rules do you have?