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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.
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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.