“I don’t want to go over the same ground again and again”

by Annie Kaszina on November 13, 2007

When I asked them what changes, specifically, they wanted to
make almost half of them found it hard to reply.   

These
women were feeling demotivated and unfocused and so had fallen into a vicious
cycle; because they were demotivated and unfocused they found it hard to
identify what they wanted to achieve, and not knowing what they wanted to
achieve caused them to feel increasingly demotivated and unfocused.

Some of them could only identify what they did not want in their life.  Little did they know how harmful that negative focus could be…

Now the
thrust of the workshop was to show them how they can ‘coach’ themselves, how by
asking different questions they can arrive at different and more useful
answers.  Clearly "don’t know" and "not sure" don’t count as more useful
answers, because they don’t provide useful targets to aim towards.   

One
woman, in particular, struggled all morning with the question: "What do you want
to get out of the workshop today?"  She lives with an abusive, binge drinking
partner who pushes her to her limits and then turns on enough charm and
affection to keep her hooked in.  She has been stuck in the quicksand of her
situation for years and years.

Each time
she attempted a reply she would start by saying: "I don’t want to keep going
over the same ground again" and then tell her "story". 

My goal
was to help these women to work productively with their own baggage.  So I
repeatedly and respectfully pointed out that I acknowledged her pain and her
courage, and her staying power.  For all that, telling and retelling her ‘story’
clearly wasn’t that effective as a strategy.  After all she knew every detail of
it and things never became any better as a result of the telling.  It had
happened, it had been heart-breaking and, actually, she was
not her story
.   She is far more than her ‘story’.

Because
she can never go back and change her story, if she was waiting for that past to
change before she could be happier and more focused, her wait would be in vain. 
It is never going to happen. 

What she
could do was change her perspective.  I suggested to her that she could choose
to ‘reframe’ her circumstances, by saying: "Because I have been through these
difficulties and traumas in my life, I now choose to have…" whatever
perspective would be most productive for her right now.   

Needless
to say, she gave me one of those "Yeah, right! Easy for you to say" looks.  She
also asked whether what I suggest actually works.  I said that it did, both for
me and many hundreds of other women I have worked with.  (I could almost see the
bubble above her head bearing the words: "Yes, but it’s different for
me
.")  I asked her whether what she was doing actually worked to bring
about a positive outcome.  You can probably guess her answer.

Delightful people-pleaser that she
is, she remained semi-engaged with the workshop to humour me as much as
anything.  Quite possibly, for her right then, knowing once and for all that her
problems were beyond hope and resolution would have felt like a result. 

Somehow
the question of what she wanted for herself came up again, and again she replied
with the negative statement that what she didn’t want was to keep going over the
same old ground.  Was there, she asked, a problem in stating what she didn’t
want?   

Actually
there was.   

The
unconscious mind doesn’t hear negatives.  So each time she said: "I don’t want
to keep going over the same ground", what her unconscious mind heard was: "I
want to keep going over the same ground".  I said to her that
the unconscious mind is not a dumping ground where you offload garbage. Instead,
it is a somewhat literal genie totally committed to giving you exactly what
it hears you ask for.
  For her this was a revelation, first shocking and
then oddly empowering.

You see,
she quickly grasped the idea that, in reality, what she was getting was exactly
what she had asked for, albeit unwittingly.  Tell your unconscious mind: "I want
to keep going over the same ground"  and it will make sure that you are fully
provided with as much ‘more of the same’ as you could ever want.   

Suddenly
this woman realized that, simply because of what she hadn’t known until then,
she had perpetuated the very situation that she least wanted.  Suddenly she
understood why it is so crucial to focus on formulating feelings and desires in
a positive way.  She still couldn’t see how to take her life forward, but she
could see how to start moving herself forward –  which is always the first step
on the road to massive change.

What
about you?  Do you want to move forward and now realize that the statement of
what you don’t want might be a significant part of what’s
holding you back?   

Maybe you
think that this is ‘just words’ and that I am talking nonsense.  I can live with
that.  But are you prepared to experiment?  Of course you are free to dismiss
the whole idea, carry on thinking what you have always thought, prove yourself
right, and continue getting the same wearying sense of going round and round the
same loop.   

Or you can test whether this new idea is useful to you, by
eliminating the negative statements about the things you don’t want. Instead,
you can start crafting positive statements about the things that you would
prefer to welcome into your life.

Are you ready
to start moving forward over new ground?

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