Episode 3: Learning to Think Constructively

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We all want to live our ideal lives. Yet sometimes, we are faced with a number of challenges that discourage us from ever considering our kind of living. You can still make it happen as Lisa Lentino, PhD shows you how to harness the incredible power of your mind to create your ideal life. She shares some of the most constructive ways of thinking in several key aspects of life. Find out how the most successful and content people in the world think in this episode.

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Learning to Think Constructively

Step 3 To Living Your Ideal Life

Are you ready to take control of your mind so it helps you create your ideal life? Are you ready to start thinking like the most successful, happiest people? I’m glad you’re here. In this episode, we’re going to be teaching you how to program your mind constructively to help dramatically change your life for the better.

I’m glad to share the third phase of my process for Living Your Ideal Life, Learning to Think Constructively. In our last episode, we discussed how to discover your true self. We now turn our attention to learning how to program our minds constructively in a way that helps us manifest our true purpose. Most people weren’t taught to be conscious of how they think. Instead, they live life at the mercy of the subconscious programming they’ve inherited through life. For most of us, we did not acquire constructive programming in all aspects of life. We might have learned constructive ways of thinking about certain things and dysfunctional models in others.

Unfortunately, because our subconscious mind isn’t the rational part of our mind, it doesn’t have the ability to look objectively at the way it’s programmed and edit out the dysfunctional ways of thinking. Instead, it uses its incredible power to create a reality that fits its programming, even if that program is dysfunctional or not helping our cause. In order to live your ideal life, you must become conscious of your habitual ways of thinking and behaving. You then need to learn to “edit out” the dysfunctional core beliefs and thought patterns and replace them with more constructive ways of thinking.

Self-Worth

In this episode, I share with you constructive models on how to think in several key aspects of life. By programming your mind with more constructive core beliefs and ways of thinking, you will see your life improve dramatically. Let’s begin by starting with the most important core belief, namely that having to do with our self-worth. When looking at your self-worth, I’m going to present a model that likely directly counter to what you may have been taught about self-worth. I assure you the model I’m encouraging you to adopt is the only one that leads to a life of true enduring contentment. First, let me start with the model most of us were taught that which the ego would have you believe. Namely, that our self-worth is conditional or dependent upon your achievements, appearance, performance or how you compare to others. Therefore, as your achievements go up, so does your self-worth or stock value.

In order to live your ideal life, you must become conscious of your habitual ways of thinking and behaving. Click To Tweet

Conversely, if you don’t perform as well, your self-worth can plummet. As long as you buy into what the ego or the database is selling you about your self-worth, you will have guaranteed yourself a certain level of anxiety or depression your whole life. Our self-worth is such an important need for us as human beings that when it’s remotely threatened, we become extremely preoccupied with trying to secure it. The reason the ego or the database fuels chronic anxiety and depression and that it works on the, “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy. Even when things are going well, the ego may give you a minute or two to pat yourself on your back for an accomplishment, but it won’t let you rest long. There’s always the next performance or comparison for which you need to prepare.

In essence, when you buy into the ego or databases’ philosophy, your worth or value is always on the line no matter what. Therefore, you spend your life chasing or trying to ensure your self-worth. Unfortunately, that becomes your life’s work. The sad reality is that as long as you buy into what the database is selling, you never reach a secure sense of self-worth. You may get these temporary hits of self-esteem when you accomplish something or there’s a comparison in your favor, but it never lasts long and then you need another hit, another accomplishment or a higher performance standard.

The image that I like to use is imagine a big old wooden barrel that gets a big influx of water. You achieve something like earning over $100,000 for the first time. When that happens, you temporarily feel filled. Your self-worth is up. With this type of barrel, there are small holes in the bottom of it to which the water seeps. As the water level decreases so does your self-worth and then you need another hit. You need to make $120,000 in order to feel good enough. Many people fall into the trap of thinking, “There’s got to be this magic accomplishment,” that’s finally going to give them a secure, enduring sense of worth. I can only assure you that as long as you believe in a conditional sense of self-worth, it will never happen. You’ll find yourself perpetually chasing your self-worth only to never find it. It is a wild goose chase that the ego will have you on, one that will never bring you genuine contentment or help you fulfill your true purpose in this world.

GYTM 3 | Think Constructively

Think Constructively: No one piece is more important than any other. The puzzle only works when all the pieces are present.

 

If you would like to live your ideal life, one where you experience true contentment and fulfill your unique purpose in this world, you need to adopt a belief that your self-worth is unconditional. That it’s inherent in the fact that you are a unique human being with a purpose in this world that only you can fulfill. You are no more or less worthy than any other human being. Your worth is truly unconditional. Thus, you don’t need to do anything to earn your worth. You’ve already done enough simply by showing up on this planet. Also, because your worth is unconditional, it is totally independent of any of your accomplishments or anything external to you. Therefore, no matter what your achievements, your self-worth never goes up, but it also never goes down.

Unconditional is unconditional. Imagine your self-worth safely placed within a vault. It is truly untouchable and nothing you need to be concerned about earning in your lifetime. The model which I have found to be an absolute prerequisite for living your ideal life is that your self-worth is inherent in being a unique human being. Therefore, your worth is equal to no more or less than any other human being and secure. Instead of being preoccupied with chasing your self-worth as the ego would have you do, you get to spend your life discovering your unique purpose, what’s in your acorn and developing those gifts and talents throughout your life.

Relationships

The next model I want to present has to do with relationships. Relationships look different from the perspective of the acorn versus the ego or database. The ego would have you believe that who you are is dependent upon some external criteria. How you compare to others or how others define you. Unfortunately, because the ways of the ego are conditional, relationships often take on a dysfunctional dynamic. They frequently end up being about playing different roles or games involving power, control, manipulation or using people for your own gain. Trust and a sense of safety, psychological emotion and even physical at times are often compromised.

You don't need to do anything to earn your worth. You've already done enough simply by showing up on this planet. Click To Tweet

In such dynamics, you often don’t feel you have the freedom to be who you are, but rather that you have to fit a certain mold or criteria other people set up for you. You also struggle to accept other people for whom they are and instead try to get them to act and function in ways that you deem most appropriate or preferable. Relationships often feel like work and leave you feeling drained, resentful, threatened, insecure, stifled or exhausted on many levels. When you learn to live life from the place of your true self, relationships feel different. You understand that we’re all pieces of this huge puzzle that comprises our world. You have a part to play, I have a part to play. No one piece is more important than any other and the puzzle only works when all the pieces are present.

I also don’t need to worry about you playing my part better than me. In essence, I’ve got dibs on being me. I also understand it would be fruitless for me to try to spend any time trying to be a better you than you. When you’re connected to your true self, you understand that your purpose in life is to be you to your fullest perspective, to fulfill your piece of the puzzle as completely as possible. You also understand that it’s in your best interest to empower others to be who they truly are because that’s how the puzzle works best for everyone. It’s important for you to also realize it’s not for you to dictate what other people are or should be, but rather to celebrate and nurture who they are naturally. Help them discover and fulfill their part of the puzzle.

When you start understanding how to handle relationships from the perspective of your acorn, you’ll experience a whole different sense of freedom and growth from anything you may have ever experienced. You feel truly free to be who you are and have a desire to develop your gifts and talents so that you can share them with the world. You also want other people to be themselves and learn to appreciate and accept them for who they are. You feel a genuine, enduring sense of security and realize you never have to feel threatened by other people. You enjoy people on a different level and are much less susceptible to getting swept up in games of control, dominance and manipulation.

GYTM 3 | Think Constructively

Think Constructively: Rather than feel fear or sadness, many people prefer to feel anger instead.

 

You also find that you could connect with people in deeper, more genuine ways. However, you also find that there will be people you naturally gravitate towards more or who get you better than others. Those within you have more chemistry. Think about those people as fitting better with your part of the puzzle. There will also be others who you don’t understand as well. Think of them as playing a piece on a different part of the puzzle from you. The key is to accept them for who they are. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make them fit your part of the puzzle. Therefore, the model relationships that I would encourage you to adopt is that relationships are about valuing and being who you are to your fullest potential while appreciating others and empowering them to do the same.

Emotions

The next model I’d like to talk about has to do with emotions. Emotions are an incredible tool for helping us navigate life, but all too often they’re not managed or utilized well at all. Unfortunately, emotions have generally gotten a bad reputation. There’s often a negative connotation to describing someone as “emotional.” People who strive to keep their emotions at bay are frequently viewed as being stronger. To maximize our development, we need to start learning how to not only become more aware of and accepting of our emotions but also how to listen to their guidance. One of the metaphors I like to use when thinking about emotions is viewing them as another sense like sight, hearing, taste and touch.

The reason evolution has equipped us with these senses is that they help us navigate life successfully and have dramatically increased our ability to survive. The same is true for our emotions. If we learn to listen to them, they could be an incredible source of information for helping us navigate life. As species, we, human beings, frequently make emotions much more complicated than they ever need to be. In fact, animals tend to handle emotions much better than humans do because they have them. However, humans in our infinite wisdom have decided that we don’t like certain emotions like anxiety, fear or sadness so we’re not going to have them.

When you learn to live life from the place of your true self, relationships feel different. Click To Tweet

First of all, that would be like us driving down the road and cutting off half our visual field. We wouldn’t do that because we not only need to see the nice smooth road ahead of us, but we also need to see the guy about to pull out in front of us. We need to see both the “good and bad,” in order to navigate the road successfully. The same is true for emotions. We need to be okay with experiencing the whole range of human emotions from the “positive ones to the negative ones.” What many of us do, however, is decide that we don’t want to experience certain negative emotions, but unfortunately, that’s simply not how emotions work. We can’t decide not to have certain ones. They don’t go away because we don’t want them.

If we’re not going to allow them to happen as animals do, the next action we have is to try and come up with some avoidance strategy. These avoidance strategies are what complicate our lives as far as emotions are concerned. Humans have created a plethora of these avoidance strategies like workaholism, perfectionism, alcoholism or any substance abuse. Obsessive worry, being obsessed with body image, earning money or status, any compulsion. We’ve also developed a strategy of having secondary emotions. Secondary emotions are emotions we choose to have instead of experience certain primary emotions.

For example, rather than feel fear or sadness, many people prefer to feel anger instead. The anger is secondary to fear or sadness, which is the primary emotion. Anger is one of our more common secondary emotions and many people prefer experiencing anger because it comes with powerful energy and strength versus the sense of vulnerability that often accompanies fear or sadness. One of the problems with secondary emotions is that they often complicate our interactions with people and prohibit us from understanding what’s going on with our primary emotions. The many problems with other compulsive avoidance strategies like alcoholism, workaholism, obsessive worry and body image issues are more obvious.

GYTM 3 | Think Constructively

Think Constructively: Every human being is going to bring a unique perspective on any given situation.

 

Avoiding emotions not only leads to its own set of complications in our lives, it also keeps us from understanding our emotions, which can be a wise source of guidance and knowledge about our true selves. For example, if you consider some of the more prominent primary emotions including anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, frustration, happiness and love, they all have a basic message that they’re trying to share with us. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways these emotions are trying to guide us in our life. Let’s look at anxiety. One of the evolutionary purposes of normal anxiety is to help prepare us for something in the future. It’s anxiety about the end of the month coming that might prompt us to send out a rent check.

If you’re in school, it’s anxiety about an upcoming test that may prompt you to study. Healthy anxiety, therefore, motivates us to take action for a future event. It also kicks us into gear to help us perform at our best. Let’s look at fear. Many people confuse anxiety and fear. The main difference between anxiety and fear is while anxiety helps prepare us for a future challenge, the message of fear is that there is an immediate danger or threat that requires our attention and/or action. Our reaction of fear is our flight or fight response that evolution has given us to help us survive. It’s an incredibly powerful full body response that has been effective at helping us do that.

Let’s look at anger. When I’m referring to anger in this situation, I mean primary anger, not when we use anger as a common secondary emotion secondary to anxiety, fear of loss or sadness. With basic primary anger, the message is trying to tell us that there’s been some violation either of our person, property or something or someone we care about. There’s a powerful energy that’s associated with anger that’s designed to prompt us to take action to either defend our boundaries or those we care about from who or whatever it is that’s doing the violating. The interesting thing about anxiety, fear and anger is that they all come with an energy dump because all their messages involve trying to prompt us to take some action.

You are no more or less worthy than any other human being. Your worth is truly unconditional. Click To Tweet

Nature designed it well that when we experience these emotions, our bodies also respond with unnecessary energy to help us complete any actions that are required to meet the needs we’re facing. On the other hand, compare that energy response to what happens when we experience sadness. Sadness does not come with an energy dump like anxiety, fear or anger. Instead, it comes with a withdrawal of energy. The reason energy decreases with sadness is because the message of sadness is that there’s been a loss or injury. It’s trying to prompt us to retreat and take the time we need to heal or recover. You can see how the profound differences in energy we experience with the various emotions prompt us to act in different ways, which is one of the main ways our emotions try to guide us.

Let’s look at frustration. Frustration is one of those emotions that many of us would benefit from listening to better. The message of frustration is basically that what we are doing is not working. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s trying to tell us that we are wasting our resources like time, energy, money, etc. What frustration is trying to get us to do is to stop what we’re doing and either evaluate the strategy we are using to deal with the situation or at least the timing of that strategy. Let’s look at happiness or joy. If you start understanding our emotions as a navigational tool, what the emotion of happiness is trying to tell us is to move toward the person, situation or experience that is fueling the feelings of happiness or joy. One of the reasons that the emotion of happiness or joy is such an important source of information is that it often gives us the greatest clues as to what’s in our acorn. What clicks best with our talents, skills, passions, and what we’re meant to do in this world?

Let’s look at love. Experiencing love for ourselves, for others, for our work is one of the greatest gifts we can be blessed to enjoy in life. It truly gives life a whole level of meaning and purpose. When you experience the emotion of genuine love, what it’s trying to tell you is that this person, experience or thing is something that’s important to you. Keep it close to you, nurture it, protect it and appreciate it. I hope this discussion has helped give you a different perspective on emotions and increase your willingness to experience them more fully. Therefore, in order to program your mind most constructively, I would encourage you to adopt the model that our emotions are one of our best “senses,” for helping us navigate life and learn more about our true selves.

Stress

The next model I’d to talk about has to do with stress. All too often when people hear the word stress, they tend to have a negative reaction and use stress as a threat, something to be avoided or at least reduced. The model I would encourage you to adopt is one of challenge and growth rather than a threat. As the famous stress researcher Hans Selye put it, “Stress is the spice of life. Without stress challenging us to grow, our lives will become stagnant and boring.” As you go through life, I would encourage you to adopt a growth mindset where you continually look to further develop whatever gifts or talents are in your acorn. Don’t ever stop trying to improve your skills, develop your talents or continue learning. It’s what makes life truly fun and engaging. Therefore, the model related to stress I would encourage you to adopt is that stress is about opportunities that challenge us to grow and that’s what life is all about. There are always new branches to develop so never stop growing.

Conflict

Next, I’d like to share a constructive model for approaching conflict. One of the reasons many people have issues with conflict is that unfortunately, they have little experience with conflict being conducted well, which is in a healthy constructive way. Instead, many people’s experience with conflict may involve feelings of frustration, intimidation, fear of violence, passive-aggressiveness or threat of a loss of a relationship. With experiences such as these, it’s no wonder many people go out of the way to try and avoid conflict or automatically go into fight mode when they sense a potential conflict coming. When you’re more connected to your true self, you are by definition more secure and therefore in a much better position to handle conflict well. What does conflict done well even look like?

First, when you’re more grounded and secure, you can recognize when someone’s trying to have a conflict from the place of being trapped within their ego. That’s when they would be using tactics to try and hook you, intimidate you, disrespect or disempower you in some way. The more you can see what they’re doing and stay grounded in who you are, the less susceptible you would be to their tactics and getting caught up in dysfunctional, non-production interactions. You would also be in a better position to try and engage them in a more emotionally mature way, so the conflict reaches a productive resolution.

Stress is the spice of life. Without stress challenging us to grow, our lives will become stagnant and boring. – Hans Selye Click To Tweet

There are several benefits to learning how to resolve conflict constructively, beating your personal or professional life. Whether you are parenting children, managing a home or running a company or a community, there is a range of needs and tasks to be accomplished. Every human being is going to bring a unique perspective on any given situation based upon factors such as their background, the programming of their database, gender, age, how their mind works and what they value or how they approach the world. Some of our greatest leaders such as Abraham Lincoln understood the value of surrounding yourself with people with different backgrounds and viewpoints than your own. While such diversity may create more conflict and be messier at first, in the long run, it’s such diversity that allows you to cover more parts of the pie that needs to be covered then you ever could do alone or with people who only thought and approach the world as you do.

When working with other people who challenge us in a respectful and constructive way, while at times frustrating, we’re often able to create something better than we could’ve ever created alone. That is the conflict’s greatest benefit. When either as parents, coworkers or members of a community, we’re able to create something that has been discussed and challenged by all parties. What is created reflects the best parts and strengths of all our individual ideas and perspectives. That is the ultimate in managing conflict well. Therefore, the model of conflict I would encourage you to adopt is that conflict managed well can help us create things we could never have created alone.

Let’s talk about money, which is often a cause of angst for many people. Many people associate money with greed, exploitation, power and materialism and vilify the rich. The thing about money is that there’s nothing inherently evil or bad about it. The trouble with money comes when it’s used to serve the ego. The problem isn’t with money per se. It’s with the insecurity of the ego and its insatiable need to be fed at all costs. It’s the ego that feeds greed, exploitation and corruption. The other downside is that no matter how much money you accumulate, the ego is never truly satisfied or content. You may have fleeting moments of happiness when you reach another financial milestone, but it quickly dissipates and then you need another hit. You need to reach another milestone to get the same rush. This phenomenon is why you see people acquiring millions and millions of dollars, but it’s never enough. Whenever your primary goal is to accumulate money, you will ultimately be disappointed.

Don’t buy into what our culture and those around you are saying about chasing money. It’s never going to lead you to true contentment and happiness. The thing to understand is that accumulating wealth and abundance throughout your life is not a bad thing at all, but it needs to come from the secure place of your acorn or your true self. When you’re grounded in your acorn, your goal in life is to develop your gifts and talents to the fullest extent possible. Financial abundance simply becomes a beneficial byproduct of developing your gifts and then sharing them with the world. You also realize that money is meant to be a tool to serve and empower others. It’s not supposed to be your master or your end goal.

Money in the hands of people secure with who they truly are has been an incredible source of good in the world from building schools, libraries and hospitals to medical advancements and helping solve problems of hunger and poverty. Money has enabled people to help and empower others in ways that would never have been possible without it. Therefore, the model I would encourage you to adopt with regard to money is that money supposed to be a tool to serve and empower others. Never let it define your self-worth or be your end goal. Focus instead on developing all your gifts and talents and then sharing your abundance with the world.

Path To True Contentment And Meaning

The last model I’d like to share with you is the path to true contentment and meaning, which is the accumulation of the three phases of my process for Living Your Ideal Life. Once you’ve freed yourself from the database of your mind, which is phase one, and discovered what’s in your acorn. That is what unique talents, strengths, values and passions you were meant to bring to this world, which is phase two, then focus on learning to think constructively, phase three, so you can do two things. First, figure out what you need to grow your acorn. Determine what you need in terms of training, experience, mentoring, etc. to develop your unique gifts and talents. Finally, figure out how to share your gifts beyond yourself. As human beings, in order for us to find true contentment, it’s not enough for us to develop our gifts. In order to find life truly meaningful, we need to use our gifts and talents we’ve developed in order to make a positive contribution beyond ourselves, be it to other people, animals, the environment or adding to a body of knowledge.

This brings us to our key take-home message, which is that to create our ideal life, we must become conscious of the thoughts and beliefs in our subconscious mind. Replace dysfunctional core beliefs with constructive models of thinking that would help us manifest our true purpose. We’ve covered all three phases of my process for Living Your Ideal Life. One, freeing yourself from your mind’s database. Two, discovering your true self and three, learning to think constructively so you can follow your path to true contentment and meaning. You are positioned to begin your journey of becoming a conscious creator of your ideal life.

I’m glad to have had the opportunity to share this information with you because I know firsthand how powerful it can be in changing your life for the better. I’m also excited for you to tune into our subsequent episodes. In each episode, we’ll be talking with experienced coaches who’ll be giving specific advice and techniques to help you step-by-step through all the aspects of the process for Living Your Ideal Life. Thank you. You’re going to love how it will change your life. Be sure to visit The Coaching Connector at www.TheCoachingConnector.com. We’re continuously updating our site with content to help you with your journey to a more ideal life. There you’ll also find our ever-growing database of coaches with whom you can connect directly. I’m wishing you much success.

Important Links:

References

  • Lentino, L.M. (2014). Constructive thinking how to grow beyond your mind. Sudbury, MA: Grow Beyond Your Mind.

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