The seven Mind-freeing, Life-changing, World-saving word-switches
Dear World Peace Leader,
This is letter 5 of the mini-course on How to Become a Powerful Force For World Peace and a Mental Wealth Millionaire. I am especially pleased with this stren (mental strength) because it provides, in abbreviated form, all the essentials to update our thinking to modernity, to “use our best to do our best.” This stren introduces you to seven critical word-switches that make us master of our thinking as they free us from the demands of the early dictators that would control our life – instinct and tradition. You will understand the power of these seven easy word substitutions if you envision the way we redirect a train to an entirely different path and destination by altering one switch at a single location on the train-track. By the simple act of changing the appropriate switch, we not only redirect the train to the preferred destination, we simultaneously prevent the predetermined outcome we don’t want. Dramatically change the course and outcome of your life’s experience by regularly applying these seven simple word-switches.
During our prolonged immaturity, the word-meanings imbedded in every native language emphasize our helplessness, dependency, and need for blind obedience to authority. We also acquire the habit of thinking in two conflicting either/or categories such as our tribe or not, us or them, good or bad, right or wrong, win or lose. This misperception of the world is the root cause of bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, destructive aggression, and war. Thereafter, our society’s formal education biases us to compete to make a living but has yet to provide the specific wisdoms that make life wonderful. Each of these seven mental word-switches, like the train-track switch, is our means to take control of the path and outcome of our thinking, feelings, and actions.
Here are the word-switches that initiate Einstein’s newer way of thinking (ANWOT) solution to prevent imminent catastrophe. Each is explained both here and on our free web site.
1. Substitute “Yes, I think I can” for helpless/hopeless trigger words such as “why bother,” “what’s the use,” “it’s too hard,” “I can’t,” “to Hell with it,” “ferk it.”
2. Substitute “I could” for the dictator words “You should.”
3. Substitute the personal responsibility word-switch “I allow” for the common blaming formula that expresses dependency: “he (she, they, it, the world) makes me ….”
4. Most important, substitute “both … and” for the “either …or” trigger words that divide the world into two categories. Two-category “dichotomous” thinking promotes bigotry, prejudice, and intolerance.
5. Regularly apply this Magical Problem-solving Sentence: Given this situation, what is most likely to make things better for me AND you (or us and them), for now AND the future
6. Substitute “energy” for “anger” and “anxiety” whenever possible
7. Substitute “urgent” for “emergency” and immediately assign “high,” “medium,” or “low” priority to “urgent.”
Keep in mind how you will benefit from each of these word-switches: 1. Yes, I think I can turns-on the energy we require to get results. Word-switches 2, 3, and 4 free our thinking from mental slavery to the instinct and traditions nature and our nurturers program in us through the years we are helpless and must blindly obey the authority of dictators. 5. The universal Problem-solving Sentence is the “magical” tool that, regularly used, creates common sense solutions that work. The six harmful alternative actions available to our will (see letter #6) will then wither away from disuse. Word-switches 6 and 7 diminish the instinctive anger and the emergency fight or flight impulsive responses that are least likely to work in our relatively civilized world and that often get us into trouble.
E=mc2 initiated a new era, a world where multiple tribes have or will soon possess weapons with ultimate destructive power! For the first time, in our very lifetime, an earth creature has become capable of deliberate self-annihilation. Recognizing the significance of “the bomb,” Einstein expressed his most important insight:
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our ways of thinking. Thus we are drifting towards a catastrophe beyond comparison. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
Historically and currently we focus much of our energy and resources on harmful aggression. We have ignored Einstein’s admonition, the need to continue updating the way we think. Humans are distinguished from all other earth creatures by the degree to which we create symbols and manipulate them in our mind. Words are our triggers to release powerful energy. Only humankind has the capability to attain substantial control of our life’s experience, to free ourselves from the hardwired directions of our genes and nurturers, and from fate and circumstance. Only we can significantly change both our self and the world for our well-being or for our own destruction.
The seven simple word-switches start the process of updating our thinking to better deal with the requirements of modernity. The strens we will discover enable us to assume direction of our life’s experience. We can take responsibility to problem-solve instead of blaming others and/or our self. We can teach ourselves to act on reason and wisdom more than instinct and habit. We can transform our mental energy into a weapon for mass CONstruction. The regular application of these seven basic mental skills re-directs the way we process information. Each dramatically strengthens our thinking.
Changing the way instinct and tradition have programmed us to think is a self-taught skill that requires five ingredients: faith in one’s self to say “I think I can”, work, patience, direction, and the willingness to risk giving up the automatic ways we were taught to think that no longer work. All of these ingredients are abundantly available. For the asking, you will be provided a new stren every other day. All skills are mastered through application. With repetition, new skills become automatic, habitual, and effortless. The wisdoms you will receive have been proven by others to be among those most important to enhance life’s experience. These seven word-switches will update your thinking to become your own chief executive officer and proceed to the collective wisdoms that will make you a Mental Wealth millionaire and a powerful force for world peace.
Word-switch #1, “Yes, I think I can,” turns on our energy. It provides the energy to acquire all the wisdom strens that follow.
Substitute “Yes, I think I can” for “why bother,” “what’s the use,” “it’s too hard,” “I can’t,” “to Hell with it,” “ferk it” and any otherhelpless/hopeless give up trigger words that shut down your energy factory. This stren turns energy back on that you’ve turned off! If you have forgotten, re-read The Little Engine that Could – “I think I can ...I think I can ... I think I can.” “I can ... I will ... we will!”
The Little Engine that Could tells the story of toys eager to be delivered to deserving children on the other side of a mountain. The powerful engines who could take the toys to the children claimed they were too busy or too important, and refused to take the toys to the children. The small engine had never gone over the mountain and the task looked overwhelming. Inspired by the tears of the dolls and the thought of the children who would not have any toys or good food, the little engine bravely said, “I think I can...I think I can...I think I can,” and you know the rest.
The reason so many individuals stay stuck in an unhappy life experience is because they maintain a hopeless/helpless attitude they learned from repeated “you can’t” statements earlier in their life. We need only create a small spark to turn on enough energy to grow into an energy producing factory. If you lack even a spark of faith in yourself, here are just three tips among the many available on our web site.
1. Act as if. Go through the motions. When actors play the role assigned to them, they may not feel the part. They first rehearse the faked emotions. However, when they “act as if,” they begin to experience the emotion and energy of the character they portray. With repetition, the “act as if” becomes “feel as if” and soon the “as if” disappears. We feel strange when we first add or make changes to the way we traditionally think, feel, and act. Expect it and continue on.
2. Learn from the inspiration others offer us. My favorite example was provided by a colleague who turned around his persistent suicidal preoccupation after a tragic football injury that made him permanently paralyzed from the neck down. Consider this one sudden dramatic insight: As long as I dwelled on what I’d lost, didn’t have now, or might never obtain, I realized I’d continue to feel miserable. When I began to think about what I had achieved, have now, and may yet attain, it changed everything. There are many readily available inspirational stories that worked for others who had similar or worse situations to manage. Two recent bestselling books, Tuesdays with Morrie and The Last Lecture introduce us to Morrie, with Lou Gehrig’s fatal muscle=wasting disease; and Randy Pausch, with terminal cancer of the pancreas, who nevertheless make their days worthwhile. What they found, you can also acquire, and turn on the small spark that gets you started into a roaring blaze of life’s satisfactions.
3. During my immature “magical” years, I wished I could flap my arms like a bird and experience the excitement and freedom of soaring into the air. I don’t try now because I’ve never seen that happen. However, if one day I looked up and saw someone flapping their arms and flying, I’d get very excited; I’d look for some directions to get started. You see, I wouldn’t need to see a lot of people flapping their arms and flying, not even a few. Just one would do! I’ve seen many individuals who have barelyimaginable life hardships who just the same have created the joy and meaning in their life thatwe can envy. Each of us can generate the spark that turns on enough energy to get started. The succeeding steps get easier once we take the first.
Remind yourself until it becomes habit: The way I think is my powerful resource to become my very best friend, to free myself from control by fate and circumstance, and to make a significant contribution to peace in the world. This first step will generate the energy to accomplish the next basic steps.
All of us can learn from mistakes. If you are one who turned your energy off and wastes energy beating on yourself, consider this wonderful wisdom from Mark Twain:
“Good judgment comes from experience. And where does experience come from? Experience comes from bad judgment.”
The 100+ strens provided free at www.anwot.org are the effective judgments that others learned from their bad judgments and gladly made available to us. Why learn from our own bad judgments when the proven wisdoms learned from other’s mistakes are free for our taking? The “I think I can...I think I can...I think I can” word-switch is powerful! When you spot those helpless/hopeless trigger words that shut down your energy, let them know they have overstayed their visit and give them a hearty boot.
Word-switches #2, 3, and 4 free us from “others” control to assume personal responsibility for our life’s experience.
Word-switch #2 replaces the prescriptive trigger words that lead to blaming others or our self, “He/They/It/I ... should” with the personal responsibility words “I could” or the equivalent descriptive words that turn-on personal responsibility.
Whenever reasonable, switch “could” for “should.” I could for I should is one of the three critical word-switches that frees us from dictators. I could inspires us to assume responsibility for our life’s experience; This word-switch redirects the energy we waste on blaming others or “guilting” our self when some “other” or we ourselves fall short of the dictator’s “should” word.
Prescriptive words such as should, have to, must, and ought prescribe the one “proper” action; all other actions thereby become improper. Should is the favorite means by which dictators express themselves. Could and related words such as I prefer, I choose, I am wise when ..., are descriptive words that invite our freedom organ to mentally rehearse alternative actions and apply common sense judgment before acting. Our first masters, instinct and tradition, program our thinking pathways to lead to the actions they prefer before we are sufficiently mentally mature to resist. We could not survive and thrive without the protection and direction of these dictators through our prolonged years of helplessness. But as we attain physical and mental maturity, we must break out of the hard shell that imprisons us toassume personal responsibility for our life’s experience.
We can go through our lifetime as a servant to “shoulds” and “should nots”. Many people do just that, as does all other life on earth because they have no alternative. Humankind is distinguished by the intelligent part of our brain that I refer to as our “freedom organ,” our “cerebral cortex.” It has the specialized function to create symbols, accumulate knowledge, and make us powerful creators. Sophisticated use of language gives us the opportunity, as well as the burden that goes with freedom, to join nature and nurture in creating who we are and what we become. We mentally imagine things not present in the common world and apply will power to make our imaginings common to the physical world we all share. No other earth creature has such power to change ourselves and the world by transforming a personal, non-physical idea into a commonly shared physical reality, such as a symphony or a weapon of mass destruction.
Our growing knowledge makes it clear that we are a work-in-progress. The shoulds that we first require to protect us become our prison. Descriptive I could words empower us to think creatively outside-of-the-box. They free our thinking from the prescriptions that lock us into what instinct and tradition dictate. Descriptive words inspire meaning and purpose to our work-in-progress. When we substitute descriptive for prescriptive words, we signal our freedom organ to assume responsibility for what we think, what we feel, and what we do. Our recent knowledge of weapons with ultimate destructive power has created the urgency to think out of the box by adding common sense wisdom to the power of raw knowledge.
The hardwired demands of instinct would have us direct our creative power to survival of the fittest and the fight or flight behavior prescribed by our genes. The action pathways of traditionwould have us direct our creative power in the successful ways our ancestors and nurturers managed yesterday’s problems. Neither instinct nor tradition is well-suited to wisely problem-solve the many negative effects that accompany current knowledge. Instinct too often assigns blame and demands instant harmful confrontation. Tradition too often acts to restrain destructive aggression by teaching self-putdowns, what we call “guilt.” Blaming others or blaming ourselves is unlikely to solve current problems.
To summarize, recognize that shouldis the most common of a limited number of prescriptive trigger-words in our language. Learn the equivalent words for should, such as have to, must, ought, it is predetermined, I am compelled. Could is the most common of equivalent descriptiveword-switches in our language such as [I] choose, am wise when ..., like, desire, wish, prefer, decide, elect, opt, think, fancy, determine, take responsibility, originate, cause, when this occurs then likely ...Prescriptive words convey the dependency of childhood responding to the commands of dictators which may be loving, self-serving, or some combination of the two. Descriptive words inspire our will to engage in common sense creative thinking.
Word-switch #3 replaces the dependency blaming words “He/She/They/It makes me” with the personal responsibility word “I allow.”
I allow is the second of the three critical word-switches that free us from dictators. By substituting the personal responsibility word-switch “I allow” for “he (she, they, it, the world, God, etc.) makes me …”, we switch energy away from blind obedience to authority, and assume personal responsibility for our life’s experience. We are naturally prone to blame others (even our self) when the world disappoints us. Through our early years, we survived because our world did provide for our needs. We get used to being fed, protected, and having someone take care of our needs. Hopefully, we received love along with our physical care. Our years of immaturity are necessarily highly controlled.
When we say, “They make me ....” it is usually an accurate statement. We know “they” brought us into the world; “they” nurtured us and usually made sacrifices for our well-being. It’s not difficult to understand how we come to falsely expect that the world is here to serve our needs and wants. Just obey the prescribed shoulds. When any aspect of “our” world does not comply with our expectations, no matter how unrealistic, we experience frustration. Frustration commonly leads to blaming others. Think of the many times you have observed a child having a temper tantrum when gratification is not provided. All of us are born impatient. A favorite motto is, “I want what I want when I want it.” How shattering to our expectations it is when reality demands we become givers as well as takers. I allow inspires us to assume personal responsibility for our attitude and stop habitual blaming.
There is a common tendency for us to get stuck in the blaming pattern. It is fostered by both instinct and tradition. The easily identified blaming trigger sentence goes like this: “Someone or something did what they shouldn’t have done (or didn’t do what they should have done) and therefore deserves punishment.” Instinct pre-wires us to secrete action chemicals when we are frustrated, usually interpreted as a signal to us to strike out. Our nurturer’s favorite way to curb harmful aggression to others is to teach us to direct it inward. We call these acquired self-putdowns “guilt.” Guilt is a human quality not seen in animals, although I’ve seen dogs taught what appears to mimic our obsession with guilt.
As we attain adulthood and mental maturity, we are wise to switch off blaming and turn on personal responsibility, not only for our physical needs but more importantly for our emotional well-being. To the degree we fail to assume self-mastery, we will continue to deal with frustration by blaming others or ourselves. How surprised and resentful we can get when the world doesn’t meet our erroneous expectation that fairness should always prevail. One need only read the daily paper to see the prevalence of non-productive blaming and need for common sense problem-solving.
We create preferred outcomes with a one-two combination - the “I allow” word-switch is followed by word-switch #5, common sense problem-solving. The “I allow” word-switch is simple to apply. Put it to work and enjoy the benefits.
Word-switch #4 replaces the “either/or” way of processing data that divides the world into two categories with the “both...and” newer way of thinking. Both...and emphasizes similarities instead of differences.
I consider substituting the word-switchboth...and for either/or to be not only the most important wisdom of the seven Mind-freeing, Life-changing World-savingword-switches, but the most important of all word-switches. Simply substitute “both … and” for the “either/or” two-category thinking we require to direct us through our years of immaturity. Recall that word-switches selectively replace established action patterns that are no longer effective or have become dangerous. Theyinspire us to apply current knowledge and common sense wisdom to create more effective solutions to today’s problems.
[This crucial word-switch was the focus of letter #3 in this Mini-course, and the lessons are so important that they are stressed again here. This is a concept you will see many times throughout the wisdoms gathered in the ANWOT website.]
The either/or manner of thinking we all first learn and habitually maintain divides the world into opposing extremes. It biases our thinking by limiting us to two conflicting categories: good or evil; us or them; safe or dangerous; right or wrong; O.K. or not O.K.; win or lose; and so on. If my way, my family, my team, my values, my religion, and my flag are good, right, and just, then what is not me or not us is bad, wrong, evil, lacks respect, and may be deserving of harm. Until we change our either/or way of thinking, this root cause of bigotry, prejudice, hatred, destructive aggression, and war will persist. Tribes will continue to seek to dominate other tribes to assert their superiority. A “tribe” may consist of any political, religious, ethnic, or geographic group joined in a common interest. Either/or thinking demands that individuals maintain allegiance to local priorities. The shrinking world that makes everyone our neighbor now requires that we become citizens of the global community and contribute to its well-being.
Either/or thinking effectively filters out our similarities. It assigns all “good” to one side and all “bad” to anything “not our side.” Our history is defined by its destructive aggression fighting for “good” against “evil.” During war, “our” side is all deserving while “not our side” is evil, demonized, sub-human and therefore O.K. to treat without regard. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” A superior being or ideology is often depicted by all parties as favoring “our side.” Religions engage in harmful conflict on the basis of either/or thinking even though our areas of agreement are huge and the areas of disagreement are so limited. Either/or thinking supports harmful ongoing confrontation even within the same religion. The same holds true for ideologies such as democracy, socialism, and communism. The ubiquitous conflict we see among tribes of every sort is easily explained as the outcome of remaining stuck in either/or dichotomous thinking.
Either/or thinking often lacks rational explanation and is supported only by the authority of a dictator. Dictators usually offer what is purported to be common sense justification for their claim of absolute correctness. However, when viewed by non-tribe members, the self-serving motives are recognized as transparent. The test of universal common sense invariably fails. Dictators, driven by emotions, usually refuse to consider common sense logic. Dictators’ source of power, i.e. their followers, usually are more in touch with commonly shared interests and therefore are more amenable to common sense wisdom and learning a newer way of thinking.
Both...andthinking recognizes shared interests and goals; it promotes collaboration for mutual gain. Substituting and for or dramatically switches the focus of thinking to similarities instead of differences. Perception recognizes similarities for a very good reason: we are far more alike than different! Both...and thinking includes the positives and the negatives of each alternative choice, [both] right and wrong, good and bad, mine and yours, AND the shared interests of us and them. Cooperation and collaboration for mutual gain are the preferred action outcomes of the newer way of thinking. Both...and works together with the I could and I allowword-switches required to assume responsibility for our own destiny. The newer way of common sense problem-solving promotes tolerance; it is our means to world peace.
All individuals first learn to process data into either/or categories in a process we call “dichotomous thinking.” Neither we nor our nurturers have a choice because during our prolonged immaturity we lack the knowledge and common sense wisdom to survive. Limiting “choice” to two possibilities and having the “right” choice prescribed by an authority is suited to an undeveloped mind. We require decades to attain sufficient physical and mental maturity, sophisticated use of language, self-worth, and the wisdom required to free ourselves from our first masters, instinct and tradition. Other labels for the creative forces that first control us include nature and nurture or fate and circumstance.
Instinct includes the survival of the fittest and fight or flight trial-and-error behaviors that were adaptive to the demands of the savage environments our early ancestors faced. Instinct is hardwired into our biology at birth. Tradition also consists of the behaviors that worked for our ancestors. Unlike innate instinct, our nurturers hardwire us with tradition after birth. Through repetition, our nurturer’s ways become habit. Habit passed forward from generation to generation becomes tradition. Instinct and tradition hardwire our thinking pathways before we are sufficiently mature to resist, before we can stren-by-stren assume personal direction of our life’s experience. Our freedom organ is not fully physically mature until about the age of 18. Years later, even when we become competent in common sense interpretations, the way we think remains dominated by two-category either/or thinking. Limited in common sense wisdom for most of our first decades, we remain servant to instinct and tradition except to the degree we strengthen a newer way of thinking; thereby, we may whittle away their power to fashion our own style of self-mastery. We may become our own person.
We require protection and direction to progress to the stage of maturity when we can become our own person, what we call self-mastery. The mindless action pathways directed by instinct and tradition provide us quick, relatively effortless automatic responses for life threatening emergencies. Their hardwired action pathways are powerful because they are programmed with emotion.
Let’s keep in mind a fatal shortcoming of the action patterns we passively acquire from the first masters of our thinking. Instinct and tradition direct us to manage both yesterday’s and today’s issues using yesterday’s level of knowledge, but yesterday’s solutions may no longer work for today’s problems. Our work-in-progress is to selectively replace action patterns that no longer work or have become dangerous with common sense solutions using today’s knowledge and wisdom.
Instinct’ssurvival of the fittest and fight or flight perspective, and tradition’s repeated use of force through intimidation and war are more likely to result in destruction of the fittest instead of survival of the fittest. When we put the test of common sense to the hardwired solutions instinct and tradition apply to new problems, we recognize theirtransparent foolishness.
Einstein told us the one most certain way to prevent catastrophe: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our modes of thinking..... a new mode of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.” The newer way of thinking, unlike instinct and tradition, requires actively teaching ourselves to apply universal common sense wisdom to new knowledge to solve new problems. The first and most important step is substituting mature both...and processing of information for our established either/or thinking. Our work-in-progress is to make common sense thinking common.
The persistence of the “either/or” way of thinking that we all learn during our immature years creates the most important dangerous creed that threatens our survival:
“My tribe’s way is right! Any non-subscriber is inferior, is deserving of punishment, even murder unless they become a member of my tribe.”
Given the present proliferation of weapons of ultimate destruction, this outdated belief is leading to our self-annihilation; it threatens our loved ones and all of humanity. Ours is the first and only generation to have already created sufficient nuclear destructive power to end humanity 10 times over, has put the power on 24/7 ready release status, and has installed triggers that allow one person’s word or a mechanical error to release its fury.
On an individual rather than a tribal basis, immature either/or thinking leads to the conclusion “My needs are important; others are not.” Our innate drive for dominance and physical power is modified in contemporary society to include insatiable pursuit of the symbols of power and dominance: these include money, status, immortality, and “rightness.” Whereas animals are satisfied with enough, humankind expands need to greed. No matter how much wealth some individuals achieve, enough is not enough. Emotion overrules common sense intelligence as we observe those super-wealthy individuals who still greedily enrich themselves without regard for the consequences to others.
The great attraction of immaturity and either/or thinking is that life’s challenges are relatively effortless and stressless when the “right choice” has been clearly defined. It matters little that the outcome may be catastrophic as long as we believe at the moment we are doing the “right” thing.
Don’t overlook this critical insight. Both...and processing of information emphasizes mental rehearsal of alternative solutions. It anticipates the future consequences of actions before choosing among multiple possibilities. This is the basis of prevention. Either/or thinking is hardwired to quickly initiate prior solutions and thereafter resolve undesired outcomes by “cure.” We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! This is especially true when weapons with ultimate destructive power provide no second chance, no opportunity for cure.
The both...andword-switch is our tool to redirect the action pathways hardwired by instinct and habit to the newer way of mature problem-solving using universal common sense wisdom. It emancipates us from dependency to assume responsibility for who we are and what we become. Both...and thinking switches us from prejudgments, bigotry, and intolerance towards “not me” or “not my tribe” to recognizing our similarities, common needs, and the benefits of collaboration and sharing. As we proliferate our new weapons, the tick, tick, ticking of the Doomsday Clock gets louder. The more we substitute both...and for either/or thinking, the slower the ticking. Working together we can stop and reverse the clock; the alternatives are far less inviting.
Word-switch #5 is the “magical” problem-solving sentence.
Learn and regularly apply this simple sentence:
Given this situation, what is most likely to make things better for me AND you (or us and them), for now AND the future.
This simple problem-solving sentence turns on the action pathways that are most likely to lead to constructive outcomes. It replaces uncritical obedience to the authority of dictators (instinct, tradition, and human) with problem-solving based on current common sense wisdom.
This word-switch applies current wisdom to current knowledge to mentally create and initiate intelligent solutions to new problems. It selectively corrects traditional action pathways that are no longer effective or have become dangerous. Common sense wisdom is universal, discoverable by everyone and all tribes, and is validated by consensus. Common sense wisdom doesn’t favor one side at the expense of another. While not actually “magic,” it is so universally effective it seems like magic.
The problem-solvingword-switch corrects the two most common causes of resentment and harmful confrontation. First, it emphasizes a “win/win” outcome in which all parties walk away with a sense of accomplishment. Instinct and our dominant tradition emphasize that I or we “win” regardless of the outcome to not me, or not us. The second important wisdom contained in this Problem-solving word-switch is envisioning the long-term outcome. We are naturally impatient. Our current way of thinking focuses on short term gain at the price of long term pain.
This problem-solving word-switch creates dramatic benefits by quickly shutting down the most common mental response that gets us into difficulty, what I call “the blaming response.” Once you know the blaming formula, it is easy to recognize. It goes as follows:
He (she, they, it, I, God, etc.) did what he shouldn’t have done (didn’t do what he should have done) and therefore he deserves punishment.
Blaming others or blaming ourselves is a non-productive skill that becomes habitual in our way of thinking very early. As we regularly use the universal problem-solving sentence, say goodbye to blaming and guilt. Good riddance! Say hello to constructive outcomes. Regular use of this word-switch will replace the unproductive pathways imbedded in our mind. These include procrastination, avoidance, apathy, worry, depression, substance abuse, phobic anxiety, and stress related physical pain. Consistent use of the “magical” Problem-solving word-switch and Self-endorsementword-switches will cause the negative mental response pathways to atrophy from disuse.
I recommend that you repeat this powerful stren until it becomes habitual: Given this situation, what is most likely to make things better for me AND you (or us and them), for now AND in the future. This sentence gets results without ascribing blame.
Word-switches #6 and #7 replace the instinctive automatic emergency reactions that get us into trouble with more effective common sense actions that are effective both short and long term.
Some years ago, I was invited by the Connecticut Commissioner of Mental Health, along with the Commissioner of Corrections, to interview inmates serving the longest sentences in our highest security prison. I was struck by the high percentage of individuals who lost their freedom because of a single destructive act committed in a fit of rage, often an act of passion. Even though their mindless crime was an atypical deviation from their usual behavior, they could not undo the damage. Have you witnessed the many other kinds of “rage” that lead to explosive behavior? Can you recount personal experiences where you reacted to a stressful situation by taking action that you now wish you could manage more productively?
Word–switches #6 and #7 both update our thinking by reinterpreting the biological signals we experience when under stress. Traditional labels established by our ancestors that triggered fight or flight behavior were appropriate in their savage environment but are rarely adaptive in today’s more civilized society. Our survival requires that we replace “physicalmight is right” with newer common sense action pathways whose outcome is collaboration instead of dominance. Word-switches #6 and #7 dramatically prevent major problems we bring on our self. I’m referring to the mindless, impulsive, harmful aggression that commonly results in irreversible consequences and punishment in today’s relatively civilized world. We too commonly observe road and other types of rage, crimes of passion, and impulsive physical and mental outbursts triggered by a stressful event. The primitive fight or flight behavior, the root of this problem, is ever present in the older, reptilian portion of our brain, which is the first part to develop.
Our body is biologically programmed for mindless, immediate response to the life-threatening situations our ancestors regularly encountered. In today’s more civilized society, surviving and thriving relies more on symbolic than physical confrontation, and long-term mental solutions rather than immediate physical ones. The earliest humans were preoccupied with protecting their few valuables – family and weapons. Eat or be eaten was a daily challenge. There was no agriculture and no permanent residences. Every turn at every corner required “red alert” readiness. Getting a four year degree, thirty year mortgages, retirement plans, an eternal hereafter, and preserving the global community were of little consequence. Credit cards, contractual agreements, and the civil humane qualities to which we aspire were less important than physical prowess to dominate others.
Instinct and our established traditions are preprogrammed to deal with frustration by striking out with harmful aggression. Serious crimes and the other, less serious physical and mental actions we each experience and would usually like to take back, are a major source of problems in contemporary society. These last two of the seven critical word-switches change the interpretations of our basic emotions to become adaptive to modernity.
Word-switch #6 replaces the trigger words anger and anxietythat bias us to automatic fight or flight with the word-switch energy. Energy biases our will to create and pursue common sense solutions.
We all start life hardwired to release energy chemicals in response to stressful situations. Instinctive physical responses alert us to take quick action. Our survival required being on red alert status and prepared to strike out or run away. In either response, emergency production of energy was required. Second mistakes are rarely permitted in life-threatening circumstances. The elegant emergency response system nature has designed allowed our ancestors to survive and thrive in their savage environment. It is why we are here today.
Physical fight or flight action is readily recognizable in animals. The words anger and anxiety (and equivalent symbols) serve humankind as mental triggers for non-physical ways to express instinct such as resentment or procrastination. Preoccupation with survival explains why humor is not a characteristic of animals and was unknown to our primitive ancestors. Sophisticated common sense long term problem-solving and laughter are learned with the help of language.
In today’s world, we no longer face life-threatening situations on a daily basis at every turn or corner; rarely at any corner. Yet when we experience the frustrations that are a common part of daily living, our body still responds by producing instant changes in our chemistry and triggering red alert tension, telling us to take immediate, usually physical action. We are all preprogrammed to repeat the life cycle, to direct our energy to eat and not be eaten, and to procreate, but surviving and thriving today is best accomplished by directing our energy to elegant common sensemental problem-solving. Fighting or running in today’s world usually gets us what we don’t want. Technology has suddenly shrunk our world so that geography no longer separates us from other tribes. It is crucial that we learn to collaborate with our new neighbors to accomplish our shared interests, rather than fight or intimidate others to prove our dominance. Our ancestors were preoccupied with short term solutions; we need to emphasize long term outcomes. Cooperation and collaboration for mutual benefit are now required to survive and thrive.
“Anger” is an appropriate trigger word to activate the fight response. “Anxiety” is an appropriate trigger word to activate the flight response – run or hide. Most people continue to label the problem-solving energy chemicals produced by stress with traditional trigger words such as anger and anxiety. These labels turn on not only the primitive physical behaviors of fight and flight but also many modern day harmful mental equivalents of these behaviors. These negative reactions include blaming others; blaming ourselves through putdowns and guilt; avoidance behaviors such as procrastination, lying, substance abuse, and changing jobs, residences, and spouses. Worry is sustained pink alert thinking. We “what if...” and then anticipate the worst outcome of a situation to the neglect of what is the “most likely” or the “best” outcome. When individuals become excessively anxious about anxiety, they multiply its effect. Common outcomes are panic and phobias over some real or imaginary situation. Sustained tension leads to muscle contraction pain in the specific tensed area such as headache, backache, or neck and jaw pain.
By labeling our automatic chemical response to stress “energy” rather than “anger”, we may direct action to mental problem-solving action instead of a physicalfight or flight pathway. Energy is untainted, unlike the trigger words anger or anxiety. We can assign “energy” the meaning that makes it our signal to “turn on” mental problem-solving and plan beneficial action. Common sense logical thinking is our means to create wisdom-inspired solutions that benefit all parties, and to secure future benefits in addition to immediate momentary benefits. The simple word-switch “energy” reroutes our thinking to selectively replace harmful action pathways that are no longer adaptive. Problem-solving thinking is now the appropriate substitute for hair-trigger physical reaction. Physically fighting or running and hiding and their symbolic equivalents provide limited short term benefit given today’s social expectations. Our web site addresses ways of getting rid of these avoidance patterns.
Use this “energy” word-switch and word-switch #7 to effectively prevent the instinctive primitive behaviors that are commonly triggered by our emergency response system. Each of the prevention word-switches is easy to learn. With a bit of practice and mental rehearsal, they will become habitual, effortless, and enhance instinct and tradition with common sense wisdom.
Word-switch #7, like #6, prevents the thoughtless instant response to stress that commonly gets us into trouble.
This is the last of the seven critical word-switches that prepare us to create a joyous, purposeful life and make us an important force for world peace. It, along with word-switch #6, powerfully prevents the instinctive and mindless reactions to stress that get us into trouble.
Substitute “urgent” for “emergency” and immediately assign high, medium, or low priority to establish the level of urgency.
“Emergency” is a red-alert trigger word that demands instant reflex action to resolve a life-threatening situation. It is necessary when there are real emergencies. Our biology biases us to misinterpret common life stresses as emergencies, instinctively react physically and mentally, and thereby create irreversible harm. Undoubtedly, you can recount times you wish you could take back an impulsive act. Expressions of frustration such as road rage and crimes of passion can extract a high price for one moment’s loss of control. In our partially civilized world, real life-threatening emergencies are rare; our misperceptions are not.
By simply substituting the more accurate word-switch “urgency” and assigning high, medium, or low priority to the stressing event, we redirect our energy to more effective short and long-term problem-solving. Our biological tendency to instantly and automatically react to stress conflicts with the realities of society’s expectations. Mindless, prewired reactions to frustration get us into trouble when we live in a civilized society. Upon reflection, common sense will reveal that most of the challenges we deal with are actually of low priority when compared to what is really important in our life!
We are so innately over-wired to respond to stressful events as an emergency that it is highly unlikely that we will fail to respond appropriately to the rare life-threatening event that requires instant reaction. Today’s great threats to our survival, such as pollution, global warming, and the unleashing of weapons with ultimate destructive power, require collaborative mental problem-solving sustained over a long time span. In the relatively civilized world most of us experience, we manage stressful events far more effectively by replacing physical might to dominate with common sense wisdom to promote shared interests. Short and long-term strategies benefit all parties. Knowledge guided by wisdom is our most certain means to create a joyous, purposeful life.
As with the other Mind-freeing, Life-changing, World-saving word-switches, you will make substituting urgency for emergency more automatic and effortless with repeated use. Upon reviewing these seven mental skills, you will recognize the simplicity of upgrading your thinking. You’ll love increasingly promoting your well-being and that of your loved ones as you diminish those demands of instinct, tradition, and human dictators that serve themselves at others’ expense.
Putting it together - We are a work-in-progress!
Let’s create a dynamic image of how the Seven Mind-freeing, Life-changing, World-saving word-switches initiate the newer way of thinking we now require to survive and thrive. Recent knowledge enlightens us that we ourselves are the work-in-progress of a powerful creative force. We have a mission and a purpose that began with simplicity and is continuously growing in complexity and sophistication as we make ourselves increasingly powerful creators.
We have been given the gift of naming. Naming enables us to collect, store, share, and pass knowledge forward. Knowledge is power. Whether we call the creators of the way we first think instinct and tradition, nature and nurture, fate and circumstance, or a supernatural force identified as “God,” common sense wisdom tells us that we have suddenly assumed responsibility for the future of our loved ones and all that is about us. Our work is to acquire physical and mental maturity, skill in language, self-worth, and common sense wisdom. Thereby, we elevate ourselves above the animals and teach ourselves the civil humane qualities to which we aspire. We label this process with such names as self-mastery, mental freedom, becoming one’s own person, thought control, and super-maturity.
We progress by creating word-switches that empower us to think out of the box. Word-switches serve as signals to selectively replace older instinct and tradition action pathways that no longer work with newer actions we design through common sense wisdom. We progress from instinct by receiving our nurturer’s traditions, and then we must pursue self-mastery; adding maturity to immaturity and then super-maturity to maturity, but he early stages of our development remain with us to compete with our common sense wisdom.
Recent knowledge has so effectively enlightened us and changed the world that, like it or not, our generation is now responsible for everyone’s future. We must assume our task of designing neweraction pathways that lead to more effective preferred outcomes. The critical insight is that the recent discovery and proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power (WUD) overshadows our current priorities; it has transformed a leisurely task into one with great urgency. Einstein’s solution, a newer way of (common sense) thinking, is our most certain means to consistently direct our growing godlike power to constructive outcomes.
What we need now is enough informed citizens to awaken our population to the need for collaboration among all tribes. We have a limited amount of time to unite and popularize a newer way of thinking, to become humane, civilized human becomings. Our generation has the choice of creating a marvelous life experience, self-annihilation, or anything in between. What choice will you make? A review of the seven Mind-freeing, Life-changing, World-saving word-switches will make it clear how each one contributes to our mission.
Letter 6 will introduce you to The Mental Freedom Control Panel. It identifies and explains the eight action pathways available to our will to direct our energy. We make our life’s experience more wonderful by regularly applying two of these alternatives.
Our need to strengthen common sense intelligence by adding emotion is addressed in letter 7 and our web site.