Choice Awareness Training Articles

Formula of Change

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

A break-through begins with a pattern break.

That’s it: pattern interruption restores operational freedom.

Break out of the prison of pattern, Luddite of Consciousness.

related: Choice Awareness Training: Mindfulness and Logotherapy in Treatment of Addiction (Somov, P)

 

 


The Right to Live is the Right to Die

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

chalkNew Scientist: “FEW situations could be more distressing. Femke, a girl aged 14, has terminal bone cancer, cannot tolerate the pain and wants to die. The Belgian government is proposing to grant such a wish. It wants to legalise euthanasia for children of all ages – the first country in the world to do so.”

I’ve been saving my breath on this general topic for a pretty long time. It’s time to exhale: as I see it, a right to live is a right to die. Put differently, a right to die is a right of self-determination, i.e. the most fundamental of our freedoms. Dying is part of living. Dying and living are but two words for one and the same process.

While I am on this subject, let me also say this: “rights” are abstractions. We have them even if they are not legally or constitutionally codified. We are free whether we want to be or not. That’s how I see this: you are free to see it however you choose. Freedom is built-in.

Dignity image available from Shutterstock.


Open Your Hand to Open Your Mind

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Be freeLetting go of thoughts that bother you doesn’t always have to involve self-talk.  In my clinical work with clients I tend to prefer a variety of experiential approaches.  Here’s a simple experiential technique of how to literally let go of the tension that comes with the rumination.  I first described this in my 2010 book, Present Perfect, but I’ve been using it for years and my clients seem to always like it.

When wanting to let go, try this.  Think of the worst part of what happened.  As you do, clench your fist as tightly as you can.  Notice the tension.  Think of this as the tension of holding on to the past.  Recognize that you have a choice right now:  you can stay tense or you can let go.  Decide if you want to hold on to the thought about what happened or if you are ready to let go of it.  When you decide to let go, gradually open your fist to drop the issue.  Notice the release of the tension. If the thought still has hold on you, repeat until it doesn’t.  If what happened bothers you in more than one way, think of the next worst part.  Repeat the sequence. 

This simple letting-go technique builds on a couple of  old psychological methods such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and exposure-based response prevention (ERP).  But unlike the classic PMR and ERP (which can take up a lot of time) this hand-opening/mind-opening technique is a kind of coping short-cut.  And this on-the-go simplicity is coping power.

In sum, open your hand to open your mind.

 

Adapted from Present Pefect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control (New Harbinger, Somov, 2010)

Creative Commons License photo credit: opensourceway


Wellbeing Chooses Itself

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Whether you are choosing the lesser of the two evils or the greater of the two goods, whether you are choosing to reduce pain or choosing to amplify pleasure, or just choosing not to choose in order to maintain the comfort of the status quo, a choice is always made in the direction of one’s wellbeing.

Indeed, a choice is an act of selection between two or more options.  But what guides this selection?  What informs any given preference?  Wellbeing, of course.  So, congratulations to you on any conscious choice you make since any conscious choice is an affirmation of wellbeing!

Life is in the business of wellbeing.  Celebrate life with conscious choice!

 

[reference: Choice Awareness Training (for clinicians)]

www.eatingthemoment.com

www.drsomov.com

 


Willpower, Habitpower, Skillpower

Friday, May 18th, 2012

We are all equally endowed with willpower but we differ in the power of habits that we have ourselves created and have now to struggle with.  We also differ in terms of the skillpower*  that we bring to the fight with the habitpower.

*skillpower: coping power (which is a reflection of our mastery of such coping strategies as craving control and emotional self-regulation)

related: Weak Willpower or Habitual Automaticity?


Weak Willpower or Habitual Automaticity?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Adapted from Choice Awareness Training: Logotherapy & Mindfulness for Treatment of Addictions:

The act of will, application of willpower, and making of a choice are synonymous.  The term willpower, however, has an unfortunate connotation of varying strength, as if to convey that some people have a more powerful will than others.  It should be noted that the term “willpower” is not an inherently incorrect term.  When used in the sense of “power of will (or volition),” the term heightens, if not extols, the human capacity to make a choice.

The phrase “power of will” is free from any kind of interpersonal comparison, it is merely an acknowledgement that as humans we possess a power (a freedom) of self-determination through choice.  The term “willpower” becomes problematic, however, when the semantic focus shifts from “power of will” to “how powerful one’s will is.”

The Concise American Heritage Dictionary (1987) reflects this distinction by defining “will power” as:

  1. the ability to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans, and
  2. the strength of mind.

While the first meaning of willpower does exist, the second is nothing but a linguistic connotation of the word “power” that does not have a phenomenological reality.  Comparative perception of will or capacity for choice as being stronger or weaker is erroneous and psychologically damaging.  An act of will or a choice is a binary event: one either acts or does not act in a certain fashion.  Consequently, all people are equally strong choosers, with an equal power for will, i.e. of the same willpower.


Ego is a Memory

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

See the dog chasing its tail?

That’s easy.

See the tail chasing the dog?

That’s still easy.

Here’s the hard one:

You chasing your own “I.”

Ego is a memory.

Forget it.

 

Related Resources:


Enso of Effortlessness

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Choice Awareness Training exercises (continued)

Choice Awareness Training is designed to leverage a greater sense of freedom-to-change, to awaken the living zombie, to facilitate change-process (see a more detailed description of Choice Awareness Training in Make a Choice When It Doesn’t Matter and Open Your Hand to Open Your Mind and Circle of Choice).

Exercise: Enso – Choice Awareness Calligraphy

(if new to this post-series, check Circle of Choice first)

Jung wrote: “It is not that something different is seen, but that one sees differently” (1958, p. 546).  Enso is “zen” for “moon circle.”  The moon circle, in Zen Buddhism, is a symbol of enlightenment and is a frequent subject of calligraphy (Austin, 2001). 


Encircle Yourself With Choice Awareness

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Choice Awareness Training exercises (continued)

Choice Awareness Training is designed to leverage a greater sense of freedom-to-change, to awaken the living zombie, to facilitate change-process (see a more detailed description of Choice Awareness Training in Make a Choice When It Doesn’t Matter and Open Your Hand to Open Your Mind and Circle of Choice).

The Circle of Choice – Practice Version

(if you are new to this discussion, see Circle of Choice first)

Draw at least one mindful circle every day.  Slow down enough to consciously take in all the options available to you at the moment:  the hand you’ll draw it with, the placement of the drawing on the page, the starting point, the direction, the diameter, whether you will bring the ends of the line together or not.   Use this exercise as an alarm clock for your mind.  Time this exercise strategically, before the events in your daily life that are fraught with compulsive mindlessness. 


Circle of Choice

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Choice Awareness Training exercises (continued)

Choice Awareness Training is designed to leverage a greater sense of freedom-to-change, to awaken the living zombie, to facilitate change-process (see a more detailed description of Choice Awareness Training in Make a Choice When It Doesn’t Matter and Open Your Hand to Open Your Mind).

Pattern Interruption: Waking Up the Zombie

George Gurdjieff, an early 20th century Greek-Armenian mystic, the pioneer of the so-called Fourth Way, prescribed pattern interruption activities (such as the use of non-dominant hands to perform various routine tasks of daily living) to wake up the human spontaneity from its slumber.  Pattern interruption is one of the elements of choice-awareness training. 


Reinventing the Meal
Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment
The Lotus Effect The Smoke-Free Smoke Break
Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.


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