"It's always been that way", said the gentle, giant of a man. A man who for years coped with anxiety and panic by working. Like many people he worked a tremendous number of hours in a highly stressful job as a way of denying and blurring awareness of his feelings and anxiety.
Finally he could cope no more with his anxiety, by working. With psychiatric medications and counseling he has made significant improvement. For example, he has been able to enter stores symptom-free. He even returned to work.
Today he reported that he still has symptoms at work and then stated "it's always been that way".
What is wrong with his statement?
He continued to tell me how he is coping better with his anxiety in the shop. After listening to his report of how he has been doing better in the shop and coping effectively with anxiety, I asked him if he remembered what he had said.
In the midst of talking about his successes and improvement, he made a statement that did not fit. If unchallenged, this thought would destroy and neutralize his gains. When I pointed out the statement, "it's always been that way", he was shocked by what he had said. He realized that his thought was wrong for him and would program his mind for failure.
"It's always been that way" was a self-defeating thought based upon his past experience of anxiety at work. Unconsciously, his past was re-creating itself in the president and future for him. He immediately saw that the statement was programming his mind to generate and preserve anxiety in the present and future.
Karen Sherman wrote in the ThirdAge Blog a post, It's All in the Spin You Give It, "Oone of the key elements to transforming your life and being able to live a life full of choice is to create distance, to no longer react as you did in the past. After all, what you did in the past was appropriate for your past but is no longer serving you now."
The gentle, giant and I talked about the thought, "it's always been that way" as a statement meant to maintain the status quo, a life of anxiety. We talked about amorphous nature of the statement, beginning with "it's". I asked him where the "I" went.
Rather than thinking "it's always been that way", I suggested that he think "I determine the way things will be"! This statement will empower him to cope effectively with work and also replace his anxiety with relaxation, happiness, peace of mind, freedom and control over his life.
This man is not unusual. Without awareness, I believe most of us, at times, fail to exercise our self-determination and live lives imprisoned by the sentence "it's always been that way". There is no possibility of change, when this thought is in a person's mind.
The Right Choice is the choice to change your thinking. With The Right Choice thinking is not determined by one's past or the way things are currently in a person's life. With The Right Choice, thinking is determined by your present dreams, goals, successes and self-affirmations.
Remember, You Live within the Environment Created by Your Choices!
Life and Mental Fitness Coach