Most of us spend our lives stuck in a box, victimized by our emotions. But we always have a choice!
In my first article, I described a transformational approach to changing your life, which becomes immediately possible with a very simple and even fun process that I call “getting out of the box.
To better understand what I mean by being in the box, here is a simple process:
Imagine that you are stuck in a small box, and cannot get out. You're unable to see, and unable to move. Feel the walls closing in on you. How does it feel being trapped inside? What are you thinking about, what are you feeling?
Imagine that the wall in front of you is a wall of your negative beliefs about yourself, and your life. The wall behind you is a wall of your fears, your insecurities, and your self-doubts. The wall to your right is your concerns about your future and your fears that things will get worse. The wall to the left is your negative feelings about your past, and your memories of what people have done to you. Imagine the floor beneath you holds your anger and resentments. Get the picture?
Take a few minutes to fully experience this sense of being stuck or trapped in this box with all of these thoughts and feelings pressing in on you. Then feel your emotional reaction--your frustration, hopelessness, anger, powerlessness, fear, and feelings of being overwhelmed by it all. Imagine this until you feel these sensations inside your body.
When we are in the box, we feel trapped, victimized, and powerless to change how we feel and what we can do. Our reactions feel like the only ones available. From this perspective, it appears as if it is the way things actually are and that we are relatively powerless to change it. The all-consuming nature of the box which I describe in my book, Out of the Box for Life (HarperCollins) seems to override any ability to see alternate ways of responding.
The experience of being in the box is to a greater or lesser extent the way many people experience life. They feel powerless to overcome life's difficulties, and unable to get beyond their feelings and reactions to these dilemmas. Instead, they get emotionally triggered by things that happen to them.
For example, if your boyfriend or girlfriend got angry at you for being late, it would be difficult not to respond defensively, angrily, or by getting hurt. Your reaction somehow seems to be more important and powerful than your desire to resolve the situation. You probably haven’t even considered the possibility that there is a need for another response.
Similarly, if your boss criticizes your work, it is difficult to imagine that you could choose to feel any way other than hurt or angry, much less get completely free from any feeling whatsoever.
Or, if your friend did not return your phone call for several days, you might feel that your hurt or anger was justified. You may feel resigned or discouraged about it, and that you have little choice but to react in whatever negative way you have, and that they have ruined your day. In each of these scenarios, it appears that your responses are determined by an event rather than by you.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
From in the box, we respond with a knee-jerk reaction. Something happens and we react. We often don’t think of the repercussions, or of alternative responses. Somehow, anything goes. Often those we care most about are the victims of our strongest response. We get hurt, so we feel justified in lashing out. We find it acceptable to act this way. This sense of justification is not limited to friends and family. We also care little for the feelings of strangers whom we feel have mistreated us. From in the box, out heart gets very small, because we are focused on our hurt, our self-doubt, or our anger.
In fact anger is such a powerful feeling that we think we cannot control or change. The same is true for feelings of powerless. But we will see in the next two articles that nothing could be further from the truth!
Recognize that any and all limiting beliefs are a sign that you are in the box.
In the BoxThinking
insecurities about yourself feelings of shame
fear of being alone fear of being unlovable
negative beliefs about yourself doubts about your abilities
feeling overwhelmed or stuck feeling resentful toward others
worries about money negative beliefs about your body
What’s your favorite way to keep yourself suck in the box?
When we experience these beliefs, we feel trapped in an image of ourselves as unworthy and unable to do anything about our situation. But in truth, we are simply looking at ourselves, as well as others, through a dark lens that colors everything we see, think, and feel. There is truly no way out of this difficulty, until we realize what we are doing. Once we do, we can correct our mistaken perceptions, and respond more appropriately to any situation.
You will soon discover a clear distinction between how you respond to your in the box thoughts and feelings, and how you respond to the very same thoughts and feelings from out of the box. Quite simply, from in the box, emotional reactions aren’t questioned, you merely respond to them. From out of the box, you see how mistaken and irrelevant they are to the life you want to live, and the relationships you want to have.
Insecurities, doubts, anger, and fear, all restrict the life that you truly want. When you understand this, and choose to do something about it, your unquestioned allegiance to this voice in your head begins to waver. A possibility arises for a new beacon to guide your responses to life. Your faith is placed in what truly honors you, and that makes all the difference in the world!
A Cool Exercise:
Begin to notice several times each day, your internal and external responses to whatever happens to you. And ask yourself “Is my response coming from in the box, or out of the box?” If it’s from in the box (which most of our responses are—sorry, but that’s the human condition right now) then ask yourself, “How would I respond to this situation from out of the box?” And then do so!
That’s the coolest part—that you can immediately change your responses if you are willing to be that responsible for yourself, and truly willing to change. How exciting and empowering is that?
Finally, I am still offering my e-book for just $2.99! You can download it here Outoftheboxforlife.com. Enjoy!