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Motivation by crisis: the global epidemic of consciousness

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 by: Mike Bundrant
Tags: crisis, motivation, health news

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(NaturalNews) Please compare the scenarios below and determine which one would cause you to act more quickly and decisively. If you are a normal human with a functioning nervous system, the answers won't be difficult. However, the dilemma that arises because of the answers may well represent the consciousness epidemic of our age.

Scenario 1:

All is well in your home, yet you don't have a written fire escape plan and tools (window ladders, fire extinguisher, first aid kit and first aid training, etc...) in case of fire.

Scenario 2:

Your house is on fire with you and your family inside.

Another set of scenarios - which one would prompt more immediate and decisive action?

Scenario 1:

You know the water bill is due soon.

Scenario 2:

You come home to find a disconnect notice from the water company hanging on your door.

One more time:

Scenario 1:

You know hypertension runs in your family and that a low-stress, healthy lifestyle is best for you.

Scenario 2:

You just survived your first heart attack.

Nothing motivates like a crisis. This is human nature and we are blessed for it. If crises didn't motivate us to act decisively, we wouldn't likely survive many of them. Can you imagine? Yeah, the house is on fire, but Oprah is on and...

We're wired for responsiveness to emergent matters and therein lies the rub; the cause of most the ills of our age. Most people don't move beyond crisis management - ever - as their primary self-motivational strategy. Most countries don't move beyond it either. Instead, we lazily remain on autopilot, reactively following the path of least resistance. The inevitable problems that flow from this level of consciousness, therefore, define our existence.

How many times have you heard it?

My life is consists of moving from one crisis to the next.

Our company is too busy putting out fires to create a long-term plan.

Our country is experiencing financial collapse, so perhaps we should require people to actually qualify for loans.

Living this way derails any opportunity to accomplish something worthwhile and wonderful. The constant crises don't provide space for dreaming, planning and mustering resources for pursuing genuine happiness. It's a tragedy. If someone were to find a solution to this problem, she could change the world, or at least millions of lives. There have been many attempts.

One tactic employed by many personal development leaders is to try to convince us that what we experience as "non-crisis" is actually a crisis. For example, if you are at risk for heart disease, you might be told it is urgent that you take immediate measures to protect yourself. Save yourself years of suffering and act now to prevent a future heart attack! The problem with this approach is that it is simply inaccurate (not the overall message, but treating the situation as if it were an actual crisis) and we know it. Being at risk for heart disease is definitely not an immediate crisis. It is something to be concerned about, for sure (which would ideally prompt decisive action, but often doesn't). The reframing of non-crises into crises is well-intended, but ultimately ineffective. We all know it is just a clever trick and therefore the message doesn't grab our nervous system like an actual, real-time crisis.

Preaching a proactive approach to life is another popular strategy among personal development leaders. This is sage advice. A proactive approach to living is a true solution. If we were proactive on every level - individually and collectively - the current financial, pharmacological, food, personal health and even military crises in the world would not exist. Consistent proactive choices are the solution. It's almost a sacred cow in the personal development and management training industries.

Here is the problem with preaching "Be proactive."

It's the solution, but it doesn't tell us anything about overcoming our natural tendency to be reactive. Telling people to be proactive is a little like telling football players to have a good offense so they can score more points than the other team. It's one of the basic components of success, but it says nothing of how to do it. Contrary to popular belief, being proactive is not a strategy.

Being proactive, like having a good offense in football, is the result of a strategy. You have to do some things internally to become a proactive person. When you do these things, you don't need to be reminded to be proactive. If you don't do these things, it doesn't matter how often you are reminded.

What to do? Set aside your reactive, autopilot-oriented mind and allow space to think and act proactively. How? Use what I call Zen Motivation. Zen Motivation doesn't focus on compensating for our hard-wired, reactive nature or preach any principles. It's a simple method that sets aside our natural, reactive mind to make some space for proactive thought and gentle yet decisive action. Here's an example of how to do it. Experiment with it. If you like the potential, I'll hope you investigate further.

Zen Motivation experiment:

1. Think of something that you are having a hard time motivating yourself to do, such as complete an assignment, get some exercise, balance your checkbook, schedule a meeting with a difficult employee before things get out of hand, etc...If you can, write the name of the task down in the middle of a piece of paper.

2. As you consider the task, notice the various thoughts you have about it and the physical feelings or bodily tensions you're experiencing. Write them down, too, if you can. For example, "I can't do it" or "I hate this" or "I just have to get this done" or "Come on, Mike!" or "Tension in chest and shoulders." Write freely for a minute or so and don't censor yourself.

These are usually thoughts and feelings that occur on autopilot that, given the non-emergent nature of the situation, decrease your motivation to act decisively. They create resistance and thus motivation for you to follow a different path.

3. Now, shake all that off and clear your mind.

4. Next, get into a more present, grounded state (setting aside your reactive mind) by tuning into a mundane sound, such as the sound of distant traffic, the hum of your computer or the white noise of a fan, refrigerator, running water, etc... Don't try to relax yourself on purpose - just thoroughly tune into some mundane, repetitive sound. Keep listening to this sound until you feel settled.

Tuning into the mundane sounds in the environment (NOT music, TV or the voices of other people) grounds us in the present moment and sets aside our reactive mind. There is an entire body of medical research behind this related to the brain's Default Mode Network, which is beyond our scope here. You know you're there when after listening to white noise for up to a minute or more, you feel yourself settle. This is not a conscious choice, but an actual switching of brain networks.

5. Once settled, reconsider the task you need to get done. Write it down on a clean sheet of paper and notice the thoughts and feelings that come to your mind and body. Do you notice the difference? A calm, gentle and obvious call to action results when considering what needs to be done from this Zen-like state of being. Say good-bye reactivity and procrastination and hello to chop wood, carry water. What needs to be done is obvious in this state. Doing it is just as obvious because there is nothing to resist - your mind is not generating resistant thoughts. The reactionary mind is turned off. To get it, you need to experience it for yourself.

Moral of the story:

Don't follow the path of least resistance. Alleviate resistance.

About the author:
Watch the free video The AHA! Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.

The information in this video has been called the missing link in mental health and personal development. In a world full of shallow, quick-fix techniques, second rate psychology and pharmaceutical takeovers, real solutions have become nearly impossible to find. Click here to watch the presentation that will turn your world upside down.

Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center and host of Mental Health Exposed, a Natural News Radio program.

Follow Mike on Facebook for daily personal development tips.

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