It has been said that taking our journey through life is like the explorers of old when they were exploring a new continent or territory. They didn’t know where they were going or even have a map to guide them. In fact, they are the ones that had to create the map as they went along, creating a trail for others to follow. The accuracy of the map really depended on how good the map maker was at explaining where the rivers and mountains were located. What landmarks were available for them to identify and the hazards to avoid. This blog is your map to help you be successful at navigating your own life to become the person you want to become. This blog is a journey not a destination. You are the destination!
Breaking Out of The Box – The Four Walls
We will examine how we make the choices that are in our best interest and will set us free from our box. You may be dealing with things that you learned from caregivers, teachers, well-meaning friends that are based on their experiences and are not grounded in fact. Your behavior is based upon what you learned as a child. Basically, there may be a five-year-old driving your train and making decisions that a five-year-old would make and having the emotions that a five-year-old would exhibit.
The inconvenient truth is, that now that you are older it is time to teach the five-year-old how to do things differently. This blog will offer insights, understanding and information that will allow you to break out of the box you have created for ourself, offering more personal control, a greater sense of confidence. While living without the debilitating effects of uncertainty and confusion. Let’s begin by understanding the four walls of our box.
We Build a box around us we call our life. The walls of First Wall of our box is based on other’s perceptions of us; you are smart, you are not very smart, you are pretty, you are plain looking, you are creative, you are not very imaginative, and so on…this perception that others have of us cements what we think about ourselves… this box are of our own making and tend to influence our life more than you can imagine. whether it is true or not is not the issue…it has become what you believe about yourself.
Whatever we believe we act on that belief of who we think we are because that is what others have told us…so it must be true, right? It is only true if you believe it to be true! If you don’t like it…you have the power within yourself to change it.
Second Wall deals with the viewpoint of the world. We are told from the time we are children that to succeed, you need to go to school, get good grades, graduate, meet someone nice, get a good job, marry, raise a family, and teach them what you have learned. That idea of how the world works was the view that was given to us in the 1950s & 1960s. Here is a shocker…that world view is not the same today as it was back then. Technology has come to dominate the culture we live in and how we approach daily life now. It has changed how we experience life.
Think about this for a minute, do you know anyone that doesn’t own a cell phone or a computer? Back then, those things were not even an idea yet. During that time period we read in the comics about Dick Tracy and his wrist watch that could do anything, find anyone, or assist in offering directions to get somewhere. Today, if you ask someone about Dick Tracy, they probably won’t have any idea what you are talking about. But they will know about watches that function as a phone or computer. Today, we don’t think twice about it.
Third Wall of the box we build for ourselves called self-identity, what we think about ourselves. I am capable, I didn’t get a good education and am relegated to being a laborer in society. I did get a good education and have a good job…but if people really know who I am they would know I really don’t know very much and am bluffing my way through life. They wouldn’t like me, so I will hide that part of me, even though it is only our perception. The scientific term for what guides what we believe about ourselves and what guides our behavior is known as “subconscious beliefs.” Most of you are wondering what is a subconscious belief and how did it get there?
Basically, there are two parts of the brain at work. One is our conscious part of our brain, we call it the thinking part of our mind. It is a scientific fact that only 5% of everything we think, do, and say today comes from our conscious mind, the thinking part of our brain, (there is an oxymoron for you). I wonder about calling it the thinking part of our brain…is that really thinking or is it really just a mechanism for reacting?
Amygdala deals with fight or flight. Thalamus deals with our thoughts.
The other part of the brain is the subconscious mind. The reality of this part of the brain, it provides 95% of everything we think, say, and do, everyday comes from this part of our brain! Here is another little fact you can amaze your friends with…the average person has about 40,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. Here is the amazing part…80-85% of the thoughts you have today are the same thoughts you had yesterday! and will have tomorrow. You have got to be kidding me! Nope, it’s a fact!
The Amygdala deals with “fight or flight.” This part of the brain is there for survival, to keep us around. The use of the amygdala is different now than back when human beings were hunters and gatherers. Back then, the amygdala prepared our body to either fight the Saber-tooth tiger or flee from it. To fight the tiger it would put more blood into our arms and legs from our digestive system. Helping us use our arms and legs to either fight the Saber-tooth tiger or run from it. The need for digesting our food was not important in that moment…it would restore that later after we killed the tiger and needed our digestive system to eat it.
The Thalamus deals with our thoughts. This is where we create the rules that drive our behavior are located. If safety from harm were the issue, we would be alert for danger. Such as things that could harm us or keep us from reaching our goal. If we have the perception that the Saber-tooth tiger is dangerous and can harm us, we are on the look out for the Saber-tooth tiger. When we encounter one, it triggers the rule that drives our behavior. The thinking part of our brain sees the Saber-tooth tiger and quickly runs to the Thalamus where the rules are stored, and asks, “What is the rule about Saber-tooth tigers.”
Because we have had experience in the past with Saber-tooth tigers, we learned they are dangerous and can hurt us. Our brain then must now decide about what it is going to do about it. The Amygdala has fired off to decide to either fight and kill the Saber-tooth tiger or flee from it. The Thalamus tells the thinking part of the brain that Saber-tooth tigers are dangerous and can harm us. It also thinks, but Saber-tooth tigers are good eating and we need food for our tribe…so, it makes the decision to kill the Saber-tooth tiger and take it home.
You’re probably saying, nice story but what does it have to do with me? This is how we are wired…you have a majority thoughts that you think repeatedly, day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year…for many of you this has gone on for decades. Ouch! There is an inconvenient truth for you! These thoughts, whether they are true or not, does not matter. From our experience that is what we learned. It is our perception of things. You have had your whole life are affecting you in ways you are not even aware.
When we experience an event in life, it has some meaning to us. Add to the meaning some emotional feeling about the situation and bind it together with a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine and it becomes a “cognition.” So, how does a cognition work? Let’s suppose you had a boyfriend or girlfriend when you were a teenager. You had a favorite song that you have great memories and feelings every time you hear that song. The cognition is triggered whenever you hear the song. It signals your brain to produce the neurochemicals that create those “feel good” memories and emotions. When the song plays your brain produces the emotions and recalls the memories about that person and situation.
Let’s add something to our story. Awhile later, you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Now your special song now has a different meaning to it and different emotions are tied to the person and the song. Now, every time you hear it, it triggers the NOT so good feelings and memories and that is what you experience.
Let’s take it one step further. Now, it is ten years or more since you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You are walking through the mall not even thinking about the person or the fact that you broke up with them many years ago. They are playing music overhead; you are not even paying attention. Your conscious brain is busy talking to your friend and shopping. You don’t even hear the music…guess who is listening? That’s right your subconscious mind. It hears the song that you are not paying attention to and triggers the neurochemicals in your brain connected to the song. Not when you had good feelings about it, but it triggers the NOT so good memories and feelings. Now you are “feeling off,” not feeling yourself. It has triggered the neuro chemicals in your brain, and you don’t feel quite right. and aren’t sure why. Why, because that is the association you have to the song and the person. Remember, 95% of what we think, say, and do, happens in the part of the brain (subconscious) we are not even aware of it because the thinking part of our brain is only contributing 5% to the whole thing.
Hopefully, you are getting the idea of how the walls of our box are created. The Fourth Wall is adversity. It is not the talk that you heard, the video you watched that teaches us…that is just information, but we really learn from the adversity in our life. When disaster happens…a tornado or a flood wipes out our home and belongings we are forced to deal with the situation whether we want to or not. We can’t just think good thoughts and it all goes away. You still need, food, clothing, and shelter. You must deal with those issues rather than going to the movies and you will deal with it later. We don’t learn from the things we are distracted by…we learn from adversity.
The Forth Wall, dealing with adversity, whether it is a large adversity like being stranded in the Americas with no possible means of escape or something must smaller…we learn to change and adapt. As human beings, we hate change, we fear it, we resist it, we avoid it by giving into distractions. Adversity is what causes us to create change in our life. If we give into the distractions, we don’t create the new rules that drive our behavior. We end up being locked in our box. Wandering around our box wondering why things can’t be different, but never really changing to adapt to life’s changing circumstances.
There is hope for us all…Breaking Out of the Box is a way of changing, a way of creating the best version of ourselves. It is a way of breaking down the walls and barriers we have created for ourselves to attract into our life the things we desire. It is a way of accomplishing your dreams, your desires, and all that you hoped could happen. If we don’t change the perception and the rules, we will continue to get what we have always gotten. Sad but true!
In earlier times, when the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez landed in the Americas in 1547, after he got his men ashore safely, he burned all the ships and sank them to the bottom of the ocean…except the one he used to return to Spain. Seems drastic! That was his intent. With the ships burnt and at the bottom of the ocean. His men knew they had no possible means of escape and would have to make the best of their situation. Their brains were forced to create a new rule to guide their behavior…they couldn’t leave. They learned and changed their attitude and behavior from the adversity they were faced with.
They had to take care of the essentials…food, clothing, shelter, and the like. The new rule was created in their brain. No decision, no understanding, no distractions…they simply had to deal with it.
The Forth Wall, dealing with adversity, whether it is a large adversity like being stranded in the Americas with no possible means of escape or something must smaller…we learn to change and adapt. We create new rules. As human beings, we hate change, we fear it, we resist it, we avoid it by giving into distractions. Adversity is what causes us to create change in our life. If we give into the distractions, we don’t create the new rules that drive our behavior. We end up being locked in our box. Wandering around wondering why things can’t be different.
Don’t misunderstand me…I am not suggesting you turn your life upside down to create chaos from adversity. I am suggesting that you understand that it is the adversity we experience that causes the change, not distracting ourselves with the things that don’t precipitate the changes in our life moving us toward our desired objective.
- The box we call our life…we created it…whether we like it, understand it, believe it or not…we are the one responsible for creating it.
- There are four walls to the box holding us hostage: a) the perception of us from others, b) the expectations we have of ourselves given to us from our experiences and those that taught us to believe what we know. c) Our self-identity is adopted and accepted by us…no one can create our reality, no one can change our self-identity but us. d) Adversity, not distraction, is what causes us to change.
- We are the map makers to chart the course of our life…decide what land marks with help us and where the hazards are to avoid.
- It is up to us to learn what we need to do to change and what tools are available to us to do so.
There is hope for us all…Breaking Out of the Box is a way of changing, a way of creating the best version of ourselves. It is a way of breaking down the walls and barriers we have created for ourselves. It is a way of accomplishing your dreams, your desires, and all that you hoped could happen. In these blogs, I will explore, not only the reasons why, but also the tips, tricks, and solutions you need to break out of the box you have built which is keep you from progressing. You are encouraged to subscribe to the Breaking Out of the Box Blog.
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