Choosing New Feelings
By Gary McKay and Don Dinkmeyer
While we don't have much control over how our senses take in data, and there's nothing we can do to change our personal history, there are things we CAN DO. Here is a simple three-step formula developed by Doctors Gary McKay and Don Dinkmeyer to help us remember the necessary process for choosing new feelings. In their book How You Feel Is up to You : The Power of Emotional Choice, they offer the 'A.C.E. formula'...
A - ACCEPT yourself and your feelings
Change involves first accepting yourself, realizing that you're an imperfect human being. You're not perfect ... you knew that? Well, how about accepting yourself as you are, "warts and all." Self-acceptance can pave the way for more joy in your life by helping you see yourself from a new perspective. When you can accept your imperfections, you have the courage to be imperfect. When you accept yourself as you are, with your mistakes, you no longer need to pretend. Pretense hinders self-acceptance and impedes your happiness. If you don't accept yourself, you can't accept your feelings, and if you don't accept your feelings, you can't change them. As you begin to change your feelings, you'll make mistakes. At these times, acceptance becomes crucial to your self-esteem. Learn to rate only your behavior, not your personal worth. Whenever you have difficulty accepting yourself or your feelings, accept the fact that you're not accepting yourself!
C - CHOOSE new purposes, beliefs and feelings
Emotions serve a purpose. Learn to recognize what you're trying to achieve by a certain feeling. Decide if achieving that purpose will benefit you in the long run. If your PURPOSE has been to be perfect and protect yourself, your BELIEF has been, "I'm only acceptable when others think of me as right and knowing everything." To change, you need to be willing to accept your limitations. Try this new belief: "I'm an imperfect human being who works hard but makes mistakes." Or your PURPOSE may have been to be in control. You may feel angry when you don't get your way, or you might feel like giving up or getting even. These feelings stem from your BELIEF that "I must be in control to have life work perfectly". By examining your beliefs and modifying your demanding approach, you can choose new beliefs: "I like to make decisions and be in charge, but I recognize life won't always give me what I want. I can accept that without spending a lot of negative energy trying to get my way." Remember, your beliefs create your feelings. When you choose to look at disturbing events as unfortunate rather than awful, or as opportunities rather than obstacles, you'll create new feelings. As you develop the courage to risk making a mistake, you become free to see yourself, others and the world more realistically. E - EXECUTE your new choices
Change requires action. It's not enough to simply think about how your behavior can be different ... you must make it different through action. You've taken the basic step of accepting your imperfections. You say to yourself, "I have the courage to be imperfect. I accept myself as I am." You can begin to experiment with new ways to put joy and humor in your life. You can do what you love. You can risk failure. You can heal your spirit by acting on your new purposes, beliefs and feelings.
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