Self-determination - a muscle worth growing!
It is for me the single most important skill in order to master your life in the present.
Even the definition is so appealing - “a process by which a person controls their life” - simple, right!?
And maybe not!!
I honestly do not believe that it is a skill or competence we are born with, or something that some people are have the privilege over.
For me it is like most of the skills, competences and qualities, it is something that is actually trainable.
It is like a muscle that can be trained, built-up and improved. Trainable means for me that by focusing on intensity and also frequency it will surely improve gradually overtime.
One integral aspect of self-determination is self-command.
Are we our thoughts? Is Descartes right? “I think, therefore I am”?
Maybe, but also maybe not.
I feel that we are more than what we think: we can have bodily experience, we can have sensory experience, we can have meta-physical experience…without thinking…
Self-command is a skill that can help to focus (to experience) without thinking.
…which is mega hard…
…at times – IMPOSSIBLE.
A very effective way to train your self-command muscle are mindfulness practices, meditation, conscious breathing, savasana …focusing on being not thinking.
Even eliminating fashionable words and ancient practices the simple experience of our senses for 10 seconds without thinking can be a great start to improve your self-command muscle.
Are you able to extend the duration to 11 seconds next time…?
Just try it:
Rub two fingertips against each other and focus only on feeling the fingertip ridges for 10 seconds. This will enable you to shift into the brain region that is responsible for relaxation (and many more positive aspects). Do this when you feel a dose of negative emotions and see what happens.
Self-determination or more precisely - training the self-command muscle - is one integral part of the six week’s “Mental Fitness” program.
My self-command practice evolved as followed:
It started already a while ago.
Any type of mindfulness practice has always been very very difficult for me.
My first yoga class was in 2005 while traveling through India…obviously the best place to start my mindfulness journey. I joined a yoga class with my best friend in Varanasi – the place where the holy Ganges passes through – THE PLACE TO START MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY. Unfortunately I could not sit still and apparently I disturbed my best friend (and others) so badly that the yogi kicked us out☹.
Of course I did not stop there, even with lots of other experience under my belt (Vipassana, Yoga, Wim Hof, Globaldetox…) it is still very very hard for me to sit still.
So the idea to work on my self-command practice in the “Mental Fitness” program was set out to be very difficult.
Additionally my current situation increases complications: For me multitasking is constantly present. Specifically as being a freelance coach and consultant I am always working “Selbst-ständig” (self - all the time…as the Germans say). I'm always kind of busy or at least can feel busy. It's difficult to carve out time and to really prioritize such kind of practice especially where ROI is not perceived straight away. Obviously this doesn't go well with sitting still.
So what have I actually tried or am trying to resolve this personal quest?
First of all the App “Positive Intelligence” is a great deal of help. It has guided mindfulness practices (PQ reps) available which can be accessed through the App’s GYM. It has even a notification system. The steps are micro-steps. 2 minutes at a time. Once I got the hang of it, I could increase my intensity and frequency. As they are guided practices, I can do them anywhere, on the train to and from a meeting…even walking. No incense sticks needed😉.
Secondly it is up to me to put the focus on the right things and doing the things right. So I try I try and I try. It took some time to find out a good groove but eventually I found one. It is, like so often in life, very helpful to create a routine, a habit with cues triggering it (The power of habit!!). So for me, one of my habits is that when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is opening my window for fresh air and doing a 12 minute guided session (PQ reps) before I even leave the bed. This sets a great foundation for the day.
Another very typical trigger point for me for negative emotions is when I get in conflict with somebody (e.g. with my son). This I also defined as a cue. I immediately do a mindfulness practice (PQ reps), only a very small one, which is very helpful for me to get in the right state of mind to productively resolve the conflict.
Last but not least I really try not to beat myself up. This is also integrated in the guided meditations, a constant reminder: “your mind will wander…don’t beat yourself up…just focus again on your sensation…”.
Sitting still is still hard...but becomes easier...sometimes.
So like our obsessive drive to build up physical muscles - a lot, let’s go to the gym to improve self-command and self-determination.
If you want to get a good touch and feel about the concept and also it’s potential, I highly recommend you watch the TED talk of Shirzad: https://bit.ly/3qZt66K
If you are interested to get a first emotional experience of the concept, I highly recommend you take the saboteur test: https://bit.ly/2YGrUtq
I am sure you will have a high resonance with the results.
For the coaches among you, I highly recommend you do the FREE six weeks program lead by Shirzad. Check out: https://bit.ly/3ksuDye