Affirm the Story You Want
My father has spent years connecting what is known about anger and the brain as well as how to apply this knowledge to concrete interventions. In his domestic violence groups for perpetrators he has them develop a clear and specific belief that they will use to create change in their lives.
Essentially he has been working with perpetrators of domestic violence to actively generate a new story that they will live in to for the duration of the group. My father has integrated the information he has learned around brain change and knows that just like a new habit, if the perpetrator has reached a point in their life where the negative outcomes of their previous thought habits have led to enough consequences then these perpetrators will have the passionate motivation they need to make a change. He is well aware that all habit change requires a passionate commitment. He is also very aware that habit change, from a physiological perspective, takes 13 weeks or 91 days, in which time if the new habit is used on a daily basis the brain will literally change how it’s wired to create new connections enabling the new behavior to now be the brains “go to “ or “default” thus allowing the old behavior, in this case habits of thought that lead to aggression, to dwindle and be replaced by the new pattern. And so for the duration of the group, each week, they review the brain change plan, review the level of commitment to it, and identify what is needed to recommit on a weekly basis.
This is the “brain change” method he utilizes. There may be a few more bells and whistles, but underneath those, this is the foundation for the work.
As my father described it to me I realized that essentially he was creating what I would have called an affirmation. A story that affirms a new belief enabling someone to let go of a limiting belief, and thus the limiting behaviors connected to that belief that they often have held for years and which have led them to their current life results. However I also got something more important out of it. That affirmations, like goals, require passionate commitment. Creating a new story doesn’t mean writing down a simple statement such as I allow myself to receive, I am joyously receiving money in my pockets every day, I forgive myself, or I am calmly and competently completing my work.
Creating an affirmation, creating a story that affirms, means that I am identifying a small number of core areas I want to enhance, I am writing these down and keeping them near me, and I am reviewing them and visualizing them as if they are already real in my life 3 times a day, and ideally each time I am about to engage in an interaction or experience where those beliefs would come to play.
For me, right now, “I am competently and compassionately adding value to everyone around me”, “I trust myself”, and “I allow myself to receive” are the stories I am choosing to affirm. Each of these addresses areas of habitual thought – for what is a belief, except a thought we keep thinking over and over again – that UP UNTIL NOW, has limited my capacity to Be the Difference in my life and the lives of others.
If you were to create an affirmation that with passionate commitment would allow you to Be the Difference in your own life what is it and would you be willing to passionately commit to it today?