Changing our responses by changing our thinking.

Dear editor,
With self-control and discipline we can change our responses to stimuli from our environment that are often harmful to our thoughts and emotions. By resolving to almost always make a conscious effort to choose healthy perspectives in relation to the circumstances and situations that life throws at us, we can then begin to exercise greater control over our lives.
Being attuned to the thoughts and feelings we are having can make us become aware of the manner in which we are perceiving and responding to our external realities. But this can be easier said than done since the conditioning and socialisation we have undergone has helped to shape and ferment the repeated structured thoughts and feelings we have deposited internally. And so quite a number of us live lives that mirror a sort of automated mechanical kind of existence. We automatically, unawares, continue to repeatedly respond to our external experiences with highly structured and pre- programmed minds.
We live our lives in a matrix, an intellectual and emotional safe space that perpetually regurgitates the same thoughts and feelings even when faced with novel experiences. This monotonous recurring way of existence can nevertheless prove blissful for those who hitherto have been unable to discover and articulate new ways of thinking. Conversely, though, for those that have run the gamut of their senses and sensibilities, aware of the repertoire of thoughts and feelings, but are struggling to re-programme their hardwares, this can prove to be miserably frustrating.
Having the knowledge and the will, knowing the changes in thinking that are essential in order for us to bring about the mental alterations we need is one thing. But lacking the discipline, self- control and power to execute these changes can create internal conflicts and tensions that can be difficult to manage. Changing the way we have been conditioned to think, feel and see the things we are accustomed to experiencing requires focus and awareness. An awareness that ought to motivate us to persevere, knowing our lives can be transformed in blissful, tranquil and peaceful ways.
To this end neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are two helpful concepts/therapy that regrettably have not been embraced by the scientific community. Nevertheless, even with their categorisation as pseudo-sciences, millions have still benefited both from professionally supervised and unsupervised coaching. Many have been able to change the lenses through which they were perceiving and responding to external stimuli with the help of NLP and CBT. As empowering and transformational tools NLP and CBT can reverse our limited perspectival and restraining lives by helping us to change the way we look and respond to things rather than wanting to change the things we look at.
And as the 13th century Persian poet Rumi said, yesterday I was clever because I wanted to change the world but today I am wise because I have changed myself.

Orlando Patterson.

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