Think of who you are and what you do as a river. The path you lead creates the twists and turns, rapids or smoothness, and fast or slow pace of the water flowing in your river. These characteristics of your river depict how you achieve your goals and passions (your values); the final destination of your river being your life’s mission.
In my opinion, your values are more important, they are your river bank. The river bank keeps the river in check. A widening indicates when you stray from your values, a narrowing when you are focused.
What causes us to stray from our values? Without digressing into a deep neuroscience and psychological discussion, it’s the efficient auto pilot aspect of our brain and our emotions.
Since birth we have been trained that life is a series of cause and reactions. As an infant, you cry, your parents feed you or comfort you. When you are a child, you do something your parents like – your parents react positively, or the opposite if you do something upsetting.
Through events in your life, your brain creates an efficient “cause -react” memory. Because your brain needs to conserve energy, and is built to be efficient, this cause-react memory turns into habits. Someone makes you mad, you react a certain, but same way. Someone makes you happy, you react a certain, but same way.
This brings me to a very important point – if our thoughts are built on cause-react memory, when a situation happens to you, who is mostly influencing your life, you or the people around you? You may be thinking, “What? I don’t get it.”
- Example: Your spouse/ex-wife say something to push your buttons (the “cause”). You then begin to say something immediate after (the “effect”). So who was the most influential in that situation? Not you because your brain is built with a cause-react auto pilot. So it must be your spouse/ex-wife for creating the situation in the first place.
This brings me to my second and most important point – self-mastery!
Self-mastery is the ability to be aware of what is happening (be present, mindfulness …) and then choose how to react. Now you are the most influential person in any situation. To get to a point of self-mastery we must begin with defining who we are and what we stand for, your values, or you use your old frame of reference (emotions) to make decisions.
Self-mastery truly flips life upside down.
Live your Values
Living your values is a process of mental reprogramming. The first step is to increase your consciousness (mindfulness) to become more aware of your “react” situations – situations when you experience an immediate emotional reaction. When those situations occur – STOP, think of your values, then react!
This Stop, Think, React repetitive habit turns into self-mastery!
You can create the Stop, Think, React mentality using several strategies to retrain your cause-react memory. Those cause-react neuro-connections are deeply embedded like the Great Canyon walls carved by the Colorado River. A few strategies you can use to lead you to self-mastery are:
- Repeat your values several times a day, every day
- Bring your decisions into your consciousness.
- Learn your triggers (your “buttons”)
- Visualize your new action when your buttons are pushed
- Review your day and note where you made decisions based out of emotion
The process of defining and loving your values was the focus of our January 14th meeting. Our meetings are not only a great way learn from an expert, but also to connect with other men, and get out of the house!
Come to a meeting to help yourself, learn from each other and together we’ll build a great community of men!