The Negative Spin Cycle

The Negative Spin Cycle


– In 32 years as a high
performance coach you know, there’s one question
that keeps getting asked over and over again,
it comes in two forms, and the first form is called why can’t I make myself
go to the gym, you know, I’ve bought a 12-month membership, I signed up, I committed the money, I paid upfront to make myself go, and the first six weeks was fantastic and then I stopped going,
so could you explain to me why I don’t do
something that I want to do that when I do it is good for me and I really enjoy the results,
and like what’s going wrong? And of course, the reverse
version of that question is why can’t I stop myself
doing things that I know that are bad for me,
you know, why is it that I can sit there, saying to myself halfway through a box of chocolates, you should stop, and I
can’t, why is it that I can sit there late at night
watching garbage on the TV, telling myself to turn it off and I can’t. And I’ve thought what
I might do is show you what we call a negative spin cycle, and that’ll explain
these kind of behaviours. Remember, we’re probably
gonna be able to cover most of your life with
this one single concept. We call it a negative spin cycle. What it starts with is an event. Now I should have said
a set of circumstances, but if you look at my board here, there’s not enough room to write that, so what happens is we get
something comes into our life, for example, and this is an
example we’ll kind of expand as we go on, for example, we
get an invitation to a party. That’s just fantastic, so the
invitation comes in the mail or somebody rings us up
or texts us and says, “Come to the party,” and we immediately have
a thought about that. Now if you’re like me
then you’re a bit shy, so if you get an
invitation to a party then the first thought that occurs is I don’t go well at parties,
I’m not that good at mixing with people, I hate
those networking things, ah, ah, oh what am I gonna do, et cetera. Now we don’t recognise
ah, ah, ah as a thought, but it actually is kind of
like we’re stuck in limbo. Very, very quickly after the thought, whatever that thought
might be, comes a feeling. So as a consequence of the
thought there’s an emotion. Hope I’ve written that
well enough for you to see. So the emotion turns up
or the feeling turns up, and that emotion is like oh,
I’m gonna be embarrassed, I don’t know how to handle people, I don’t know what to say, you know, what do you say to
someone when you get asked what you do for living,
that kind of thing. So the feelings of being
embarrassed the last time I went to a party and
I didn’t do too well, or a networking event where
I got nailed in a corner, or I stood there all night feeling lonely. That emotion starts to
turn up, either old ones or new ones in anticipation
of what’s going on or what is likely to happen. As a consequence of
that, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna take an action,
and most likely that action is gonna be, I’m busy,
you know, that’s the night I’ve gotta wash my hair, can’t
go to your networking event because my cat’s gonna break its leg, so the action is to refuse the invitation or to knock it back or whatever
you want to say about that, and as a consequence to
that action we get a result, and is it only that we’ve
come back to purple, I’ve spelt that wrong, that’s the T, that’s the L. Isn’t this fantastic, you’re learning from an ex-woodwork teacher by the way, spelling was not my big forte. But high performance coach, no problems. So what happens is we get
a result which is that we stay at home and we feel lonely. So, like I said we’ve caused
a negative spin cycle, so you just put what happens
is that we spin around and the same thing keeps
occurring over and over and over, so most people kinda think,
well, how do we stop this? If you look outside, if you look at people who don’t really know what
they’re talking about, and that’s pretty much everyone, then what’s gonna happen
is the rest of the world is gonna tell you, look,
you’ll just have to try harder. But I’m gonna ask you a serious question. If you put more energy into this, what’s gonna happen is you’re
gonna spin around faster and faster and faster, and
that’s gonna be more devastating and that’s gonna be the
opposite of what you want. So what are we gonna do? Well, essentially we’ve
gotta look at how we think, and the big thing for me
to say to you first of all is the problem is gonna be here and here, so there are two things
that we’ve gotta do. Let’s look at the thinking process, and then we’ll look at
the feeling process, ’cause they’re so
interrelated it’s difficult to talk about them separately. The thought process
basically what happens is there’s no one up there to argue with you. When I say to myself I don’t
feel like going for a swim, there isn’t anybody up there saying, you idiot, you’re hot, why
don’t you go for a swim. It’s just kind of like
I don’t feel like it, I don’t feel like getting
changed, you know, my swimmers are wet, I hate
putting on wet swimmers, which is now a feeling, and so you’ll see thoughts and feelings are
so powerfully connected to each other that they kind of merge, and we have them sort of
happening simultaneously. So the thought, I’m no good at networking, I don’t mix with people
very well, I’m shy, there’s no one to argue with that. And I’m suggesting that we
should start here and say, okay, if there was someone
to argue with that, what would they say? Now, most of us know that
there’s two people in here. There’s me going through life
riding the rollercoaster, the ups and downs, I’m sure
you’re familiar with it, and there’s me who’s watching. When you think about it,
which is the real one, which is the smart one? Well the really smart one
is the one who’s watching, and who can say, you
don’t have to think that, you don’t have to think that
being hopeless at networking means that things are gonna go bad. Maybe you could be hopeless at networking and go along anyway. Maybe you could just go along and be shy, and meet someone who shows
you how not to be shy. In other words, what is the
alternative thought process? I’m not saying change your
mind just automatically, what I’m saying is, what
are the alternative thoughts that could spring up? For example, hey you beauty,
an invitation to a place that I don’t want to go to, to meet people I don’t want to know, to do
things I don’t want to do, how exciting is that, life is an adventure compared to staying at home with my cat with a broken leg. So that’s an alternative in
terms of way of thinking. The question is, who’s arguing? So the question, what happens here is that (mumbles) relies on reaction,
we react to the thought as if the thought carried some weight. So when you get the
text, if you’re a parent have you ever said to yourself,
I’m gonna kill that kid? Well I’m a parent of two
and I’ve had that thought multiple times, and it
surprises me how recently I’ve had that thought (laughs) So, I’m going to kill that kid, we just don’t act on it. So we don’t live in reaction
to being a child murderer, what happens is we dismiss that thought, and what I’m suggesting
to you is that you can get a whole bunch of thoughts
in your life and just say, not that thought. That’s not a Buddhist
concept, but it’s such a powerful concept, not that thought. Because as soon as that
thought’s out of the way, well what is an alternative thought? And I’m gonna suggest to
you not killing the child is a great place to start. As an alternative, you
don’t have to act on it, you could go right ahead if you want to, but essentially changing our mind means not reacting to the initial thought as if it’s the only thought,
the only possibility, the only thing that could happen. So if that’s a first
thing, what could I think alternatively to this, what other possible thought process could be involved? Secondly, have a look at your options. So my thought is, I’m
hopeless at networking, emotion is, feelings of
likely to be embarrassed, maybe remembering some old embarrassments, feeling that I don’t know what to say, and therefore feeling like I’m stupid or embarra, or whatever, so
have a look at the emotions, and look at the construction
of the word emotion, you’ll see the word emotion is
made up of energy and motion. This is a feeling within our body, what you’ll notice is
that you can go ahead and do what you want to do
regardless of how you feel. You see, courage is not
the absence of fear, courage is doing what’s
the right thing to do, despite the fact that you’re scared. So the second thing to
understand is you do not have to act on that emotion, you
do not have to respond to that emotion, reaction
would be a better word, responding means choosing an emotion, could you choose to feel anticipation, could you choose to feel
maybe there’s an adventure gonna happen, and that
could change the direction of my entire life. Maybe if I go along I might
meet the person I’m gonna marry. I might discover a whole new career, I might meet someone who’s
gonna dramatically, powerfully, and forever, change my
life for the better, and why wouldn’t I look forward to that? So emotions can be chosen,
so there are two things here, acting together, thoughts
and emotions acting together, reinforcing each other
that we need to stop from continuously repeating the past. Work on both of those and what you’ll find is that it allows you
to take another action. In the case of the invitation to the party or the networking event,
if I can think differently or feel differently, both
of which affect each other, then maybe I’ll accept the invitation. The consequence of
accepting that invitation is that I will go along and
I might bump into somebody who either wants to be my
best friend or my worst enemy or whatever, either way
is gonna be an adventure, and what that does is it creates
a different result for us, and it stops us spinning
around in the same circle. That my friends is a fantastic
thing to be able to do. Can you do it just like
(snaps finger) that, no, you will have to practise, bit if you keep this
negative spin cycle in mind and remind yourself, I
just need to practise, then it’s not gonna be long
before it becomes second nature.