When it comes to attitudes, most of us have a hard time staying on the positive side of the road. The number of days I started with a Norman Vincent Peale attitude that switched to Eeyore by 10 am are too many to count. What happened?
Triggers (not Tiggers😊)! Triggers are well developed responses to certain events that almost automatically push us off the positive road and into an emotional ditch. These responses have developed over time and represent large channels in the brain synapse. And every time we allow these triggers to take the same response, the ditch gets wider and deeper.
In reality, when we are driving a car and see a ditch, we develop a plan to avoid the ditch. In our subconscious mind we don’t see the ditch. What is required is a mental game plan that we “consciously” implement.
So how do we develop a game plan to keep us on the Peale highway?
- Identify the triggers – This takes time but is absolutely the key step. When you find yourself exhibiting negative behaviors or thoughts – SAY OUT LOUD: “Trigger”. This will turn off the trigger and let your conscious mind take control of your mental steering wheel. Don’t worry. After a while you will laugh when you say it, and your companions will stop staring at you😊!
- Identify the behavior/thought (the ditch) you fall into. Start a notebook of triggers with a page that says I react this way when this happens( the trigger). Get a big notebook because you will be amazed at the number of trigger reactions you will self-identify.
- Identify and implement Plan A – When I feel the trigger, I do ____________ to avoid the ditch.
- Identify and implement Plan B – When I miss the trigger (and you will) and fall into the ditch, I do____________ to get out of the ditch
- Determine an immediate reward for executing Plan A or Plan B (I give myself a Peale coin and 5 coins = a quart of Gelato Mint Chocolate Chip, etc.)
- Document successes in a retrievable file.
- Review your file weekly.
Attitude is a choice, and behavior is the outcome of your choice. While we cannot erase our past behaviors (ditches and roads), we can make sure we spend more time widening and repaving the road instead of digging a bigger ditch.
So the next time you meet a trigger, don’t ditch it, switch it.