Yesterday we talked about your RAS and how it filters your experience of reality. It’s also the part of your brain that makes considering other perspectives–shifting your mental Gears– possible. Today you have the chance to try this out for yourself with the Clock-face Technique.
The Clock-face Technique
This is a simple strategy that will help you shift your experience as quickly as you snap your fingers. All you need for it to work is the ability to:
- Experience your feelings in 1st Gear
- Think of the exact opposite feeling
- Move from one spot to another
Let’s start with context.
Say you’re feeling less than optimal; in fact you’re feeling totally stuck — anything that you consider to be a state that is not fun for you. This usually happens when you have to do something that you don’t feel you can handle (anything from making “cold calls”, to speaking in public, to attending another networking event, to having a crucial conversation with someone in your professional or personal life. I have a friend who got into this state at the prospect of buying a new car.)
What do you do about it?
The typical thing to do is to keep thinking about that feeling — worrying it like we did when we were kids and our baby teeth got loose. You figure that the pain will stop when you get the tooth out, so you keep pushing it with your tongue or wiggling it with your finger. It takes concentrated attention – and then it eventually comes out and everything’s fine (at least until the new tooth starts coming in).
What works great with baby teeth is not very effective with feelings.
The more you think about the way you feel, the worse it gets. Some of us can get so caught in the feeling that we can’t even think. (If you’ve ever completely lost your train of thought when you’re nervous at a speaking engagement, you know exactly what I mean.) This happens because Emotion Cancels Logic. It does so for a very good, very biological reason: our survival.
We’re the great-great-great– (to the 10th power) –grandchildren of people who only survived long enough to have children if they were in touch with their feelings. Like anyone living in dangerous circumstances, they could feel whether they were in danger or not; they could also smell food at 500 feet and were continually aware of their five senses. Since Logic takes longer than Emotion, if you want to survive, you have to use your feelings. So the humans who survived were the ones who were adept at quickly accessing their feelings and taking focused action based on what they felt.
The Na’vi in the movie Avatar are the quickest reference for this. Imagine thinking through your response to being attacked by one of the creatures on that planet – you’d be lunch in a nanosecond! So the skill that Jake had to learn was to be instantly aware of his feelings and use them to take focused action.
How about you? Which is quicker for you: going with your gut or thinking through a problem? (That’s what I thought.)
So it’s completely natural to get caught up in our feelings–humans are hard-wired for emotion in a very strong way. The challenge is that we can’t move from feelings to logic, since emotion cancels logic. In order to shift our state, we have to move from one emotion to another one. We have to jump from one feeling to another, so we can have a choice about our next action.
We can either:
- reduce the impact of our emotion long enough to get to our logic
- jump to an emotion that will get us into positive action (like Jake learned to do from the Na’vi)
Now for the technique
- Stand up – imagine that you are standing on the face of a huge clock at high noon, 12 o’clock.
- Feel every bit of your “stuck” feeling, step into it and feel it deeply for about 30 seconds.
- Take a slow breath in, then breathe out and look straight ahead. Imagine that at 6 o’clock, directly in front of you, is the exact opposite feeling.
- Take another breath and as you breathe out, walk forward three steps, snap your fingers and jump into that new feeling at 6 o’clock . Breathe it in and let it envelop you.
- When you’re ready, turn around and face 12 o’clock again.
- When you’re ready, take your 6 o’clock feeling back over to12 o’clock –retrace your three steps and snap your fingers when you get there.
- How does it feel at 12 o’clock? If you need to, go back over to 6 o’clock and repeat your actions until you’ve eliminated the “stuck” feeling completely. (This can take 1-4 times, depending on you and the feeling you’re working with. Remember to use your breath and snap your fingers each time.)
- Once you can bring the new feeling over to 12 o’clock, it’s time to consider the circumstance you need to address. You’ve just given your brain a new filter! You’ll be amazed at what you can now tap into.
Once you start using using this process on a regular basis, you can get to the point where all you need to do is snap your fingers and you can shift your experience.
Next week: Belief #2, You Have What It Takes