The other day a client reminded me of a clip from Bob Newhart’s show in which a patient came to him with a fear of being buried alive in a box. Bob’s solution for his patient was simple: “Stop it.”
Bob’s patient asked him what he meant by that. He said, “I mean, stop it. Stop being afraid of being buried in a box. That sounds terrifying.”
The patient agreed, “Well, it is.”
“Well then, stop it!”
Why isn’t it this simple for us? When we have behaviors that we don’t like, why can’t we just “stop it?” Especially when it’s making our life harder. Why is it so difficult to “stop it?”
I have a project I have been procrastinating. Every day I tell myself to stop it. Stop procrastinating. Figure it out. Decide. Stop stalling. And telling myself to "stop it," isn’t getting me anywhere.
Telling ourselves to “stop it” never works.
And that’s because what we are doing isn’t the problem. The action we are taking or not taking is not the cause of our problem. It is a result. It is always a result of what we are thinking.
So to act differently, I have to look at the thoughts that are causing my actions. And to do that, I have to stop judging my behavior long enough to be curious about it.
Why am I procrastinating? Why does my brain think procrastinating is better than doing the project? Why does my brain prefer procrastination right now?
Being curious about what I'm doing allows me to see that I am scared of doing the project wrong and scared of failing. These thoughts about doing it badly are causing me to procrastinate.
And no amount of willpower to “stop it” is going to override these fearful thoughts.
If I want to do something differently, I’m going to have to think something different first.
Stop telling yourself to stop it.
It's not working anyway.
As much as you wish you could stop, ask yourself why your brain prefers doing it to stopping. The answer to that question, is the thought that is getting in your way of stopping.
You have found the cause. And now the solution is just one thought away.
P.S. If you want help finding the cause or creating the solution to the things you want to do differently, sign up for a coaching consultation and I'll show you how easy it is.