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The Positive Approach - Lesson 14


Changing Your Mind About Yourself

By Peter Shepherd

Listen to the Lesson:

Should you or could you? The rationale that supports 'I should' (and 'I should not') allows us to hand over the responsibility for our lives to others. It is a childlike stance and gives the decision-making power to someone else. Believing the 'should' inhibits change, risk-taking and assertiveness. It is both comforting and severely limiting.

Whenever we question our basic beliefs we are also questioning our status quo - our safe solutions - and this can feel threatening. Personal growth is a courageous process - to provide that courage we need to recognize the benefits of opening up our options. We will reclaim our own life and be our true self - that's really the only way to be genuinely and stably happy.

The first step is to identify the inner voices that tell you that you should do this and ought to be doing that. An inner voice that nags you in this way is likely to be an internalized parent or someone who is important to you, which you give authority, in the past or currently.

Some 'shoulds' and 'oughts' make sense of course, such as legitimate rules to live by, and if violated then harm results, to yourself or others. However many 'shoulds' and 'oughts' act to undermine the strength and directness of what you think and do.

Practical
Make a list of all the things you think that you should or ought to do, should or ought not to have, should or ought not to be.

Take each listed item read it out loud and then ask yourself, "Why should I?"

Here are some typical answers to the "Why should I?" question: "Because everybody has to," "My father said I should," "What will happen to me if I don't?" "Otherwise people won't like me anymore," "Because I'm too fat/ stupid/lazy/careless etc."

The answers to "Why should I?" questions demonstrate how we can limit ourselves by holding certain beliefs. Try ending an "I should..." statement with, "because I really want to." The sentence doesn't make sense because the word 'should' implies reluctance and feelings of guilt and fear. Do we really need to burden ourselves in this way? The word 'should', however, can be replaced by the word 'could' and this restores freedom of choice. So go through your list of shoulds and rephrase each item: "If I really wanted to, I could..."

Another approach is to ask the question, "Why should I?" repeatedly until you genuinely and sincerely answer it with "Because I really want to." Or you decide to give it up because you really don't want to!

Looked at this way, somehow things seem much more possible and at the same time you no longer feel you "have to." So give yourself permission to run your own life. You don't need taped instructions from the past - right now you can make your own decisions and create your own experiences.

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Next Lesson: 15. Improving Your Relationships

What's next?

If you enjoy working through these Positive Approach lessons, you might appreciate reading an expanded version that is included in my Kindle ebook Daring to Be Yourself. For those who are interested in the psychology and philosophy of this approach, my first book Transforming the Mind is freely available online.

In addition we offer the home-study New Life Course, available in PDF format, designed to help you smoothly and gradiently develop mental resources that open up new ways of understanding. You will learn how to make difficult decisions, think more objectively without negative feelings from the past, have a clear mind open to all your intuitive resources, manage stress and upsets in your life, improve your personal relationships, dramatically boost self-esteem - and live much more consciously.

And then if interactive video workshops are more your bag, we have the best available...

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