Here’s a preview of the book and workbook I recently wrote “The 5 Secret Steps to Fixing Any Problem”. If you’re interested in reading more, you can visit:
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The 5 Secret Steps that Fix Any Problem
Chapter 1 – What is a problem? 4
Chapter 2 – What Makes Problems Big or Small? Identity Maps 6
Chapter 3 – How You Create the Biggest Problems 10
Chapter 4 – Beyond Problems 15
Chapter 5 – The 5 Steps 19
Chapter 6 – What Next? 25
The 5 Secret Steps Work Book 26
Section 1 – Questions 27
Section 2 – Answers 29
Section 3 – Seeing 31
Section 4 – Invitation 33
Additional Resources 39
It was a warm sunny day off the coast of Maine; a great day for a swim at the small non life-guarded beach. I was floating with two friends about a hundred yards from shore when we realized we were being drawn further out into the ocean. My heart started to jump as we tried unsuccessfully to move toward the beach. Over the next twenty minutes my friends and I struggled against the growing force of the water only to be pushed further and further away from the shoreline. My two friends were closer than I was and suddenly they both broke free of the oceans grip and began moving slowly towards the beach. I however, was still trapped fanatically fighting the waves and being taken further away. I could barely see the beach now and my thoughts were growing increasingly more frantic. What if I wasn’t able to break free of the tide? What if the ocean’s force continued to grow and I was taken unable to fight it any longer? My strength was wearing thin. I was having trouble breathing. The sun was going down at this point it dawned on me that this might be the end of my then nineteen year old life.
At that moment, I stopped. I stopped struggling against the tide and I stopped the flow of frantic thoughts moving through my head. I had the one thought “Well if these are my last few moments on this planet, how do I want to go out? Do I want to be in a state of complete panic and overwhelm fighting the forces of nature to the death, or is there another way I can live out the small number of minutes I may have left?” Suddenly a feeling of immense gratitude for my entire life filled me up. I spoke to the idea I had of a creator at the time and thanked him for my entire life. There was a complete feeling of peace, calm and love for the life that I had been given. The water, although choppy, seamed to be in complete harmony with the speckles of sunlight that danced on its surface. The billowy blue sky above me felt as it existed in perfect symmetry with the water and all the sounds around me. I could hear my own breathing and in that moment I truly loved all that my life had been.
In this state of peace, focusing only on the beauty of each second, my vision expanded. Suddenly I noticed a wider view of my surroundings. I noticed that I had floated down shore quite a bit and if I kept going, there was a stone jetty not too far away. My rescue plan was suddenly revealed. I would simply allow the tide to take me close enough to the jetty and when the time was right, I would move myself toward it, climb up on the rocks, making sure I was doing it between waves so as to not get slammed against the rocks, and then I would walk to safety. Within five minutes or so I was up on the jetty walking towards the beach feeling completely filled up with life.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had just been given a glimpse of an amazing life secret. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned how powerful this secret could be in everyday life.
It was several years after my near death experience. I was attending my first NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) training and we were doing a parts integration exercise designed to help resolve inner conflicts. The exercise involved speaking directly to your unconscious mind and finding out what its highest intention was for having created an unwanted behavior pattern. At the end of the exercise, I had a profound insight. It was a feeling of overwhelming Eureka! I jumped up out of my chair and told John the trainer-“I got it, I got it!!! There is really only one issue in all of life! There is one key problem that if you were to solve this one problem, all the others would be solved as well!” John said “great! What is it?” That’s where I fell short. I said “Well, I’m not sure what the key problem is, but I know there is one.”
At that point I had had a profound insight. I knew in the core of me being that there was something significant to be learned. I just couldn’t find the right words to verbalize what this one key problem to all problems was. It wasn’t until years later and upon hearing many other people’s insights that words that point to this key problem were revealed to me.
This book was written to put words to these insights, to share what I have experienced in a way that may be of value to you. Words are only words and can never encompass the true essence of any “thing” that they describe. The best they can do is point in the direction of that essence so that someone can experience the essence beyond words. My hope is that the words I have chosen will be helpful when combined with your own insights and being in pointing you to experiences that will be of true and lasting value. Thanks or reading!
What is a Problem?
Your gut hurts, you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days, and your thoughts keep spinning around on the same scenarios. The voice in your head won’t be quiet, you can’t seem to relax and you can’t seem to get a clear idea of what to do next.
We all know what a problem feels like. And those feelings give us all a natural motivation to want to fix problems. But what actually is a problem? What are the underlying elements that create problems in the first place? How can we fix problems consistently?
To truly fix problems consistently, we have to know what problems are and what creates problems in the first place. With this knowledge we may then become aware of a way to deal with, manage, fix or avoid all together problems that comes up in life. This is the purpose of this book, to help you discover and make use of such a way.
First let’s look at what a problem is. In order for you to have a problem, three things must happen:
1) You must have an expectation and
2) You must perceive reality as different than your expectation
3) You must label your perception of reality as worse than your expectation
Let’s look at this assumption. Think about any problem that you or anyone has ever had and you will see that these three elements are always present. There may be other things present as well, but these three are always there.
You might say, “What about someone who is about to have a problem but does not know it yet? What about the person driving across a bridge that is about to give way? Isn’t this a problem without them perceiving reality as different from their expectation of getting across the bridge?” It is not a problem until it is a problem in the person’s mind.
Let me say this in a different way. It only gets labeled a problem in the person’s mind. It only becomes a problem once the person realizes he is not going to make it across the bridge and then labels that event as worse than his expectation of getting across the bridge. It is not a problem until the three elements are present, in this case:
1) The expectation of the person getting across the bridge and
2) The perception that they are not going to get across the bridge AND
3) The labeling of this event as worse than them getting across the bridge
The event does not become a problem for the person until these three elements are present. So for the purposes of this book, we will call a problem: Any event which you yourself call a problem. Your significant other may say that you have a problem, but we will focus on only those things that you call problems.
What Makes Problems Big or Small?
What is an expectation and why do we have them? An expectation is a judgment about the future. It is your brain creating a picture of how you think things will be at a particular time in the future. This function of our brains may have developed out of the need to plan for the future to ensure the survival of our species, and on a more fundamental level, we have expectations in order to maintain or achieve states.
For efficiency, our brains have created templates of prejudgments about our world. Most of us have developed a mental construction of who we believe ourselves to be. This mental construction, or map, has been created to answer one key question: what do I do next? In most people the identity map includes the physical body, past, current and future events associated with the body, key relationships, the person’s various roles, and the emotions which the person’s body has experienced most often: their identity states.
This mental construction operates just like a regular map. When you go to a new town and are attempting to find your way around, you may use a map to get from one place to the next more easily. Our identity maps work in exactly the same way only this map represents who we currently believe we are and exists only as mental images and sounds inside our brains and the emotions that accompany those images and sounds. It gives our attention a diagram of all the things we are including in our self concept.
We have attached key emotions to the various sections of our identity map. These mental / emotional connections have happened most of the time without us being aware of them. For instance, a person may have the idea of being a good father or mother as part of their identity map. The mental images and sounds of “good father or mother” stored in their brain then may be connected with a state of feeling proud or loved. So every time they think about being a good father or mother, the emotion of pride or love also gets fired off and they experience those feelings instantly upon having the thought. This works the same way for every section of a person’s identity map. Each role or identity image is connected with a specific identity state that accompanies it.
Identity maps are not real. They only exist in thought. They are simply fabricated mental images and memories of sounds stored in the brain. Identity states are also not real. They are simply bio chemical reactions in your body that have been wired by the environment to fire off when the images and sounds of the identity map are called up. Identity maps and identity states are used by most people so often that they are believed to be real. They are believed to be actually who the person is. When faced with a problem, most people do not question the validity of their identity maps. They may deliberate over answers provided by the map, but most people never question whether the map itself is real or not.
There is a hierarchy of states in each person which corresponds directly to how much of each state that person includes in their identity map. For example, a person might experience freedom as the number one state that corresponds to who they believe they are, then just under that they may associate fear or sadness, then just under that it may be love and so forth. Most people are not aware of their identity state list on a conscious level and it runs in the background.
Sometimes different parts of a person’s identity map compete with each other for a higher position. When this happens, the experience is similar to reading an unclear map. Your brain literally has trouble deciding what to do next.
The rank of a state on a person’s identity map and the degree to which that state is threatened by a particular event is the degree to which the event is perceived as a problem. In other words, if your highest identity state is threatened with total annihilation, then you’ll believe you’ve got a big problem. Conversely, if the state is low on your identity list and it is mildly being threatened, then you’ll perceive the issue as a small problem. It looks like this:
Identity State Rank +
Degree of Threat =
Size of Problem
I’m sure you’ve noticed that some people can view a situation as the worst problem ever, while someone else may think the same exact situation is no big deal. It is precisely because of how much each person’s identity states and to what degree their identity states are threatened that makes this is the case.
Back to our person driving across a failing bridge example: at the point where the person realizes he is not going to make it across the bridge, for it to become a problem, he must label the situation as worse than his expectation to make it across the bridge. If his top identity state was anguish and he had been planning to commit suicide, the degree of threat to his identity would be none at all and he would most likely perceive the event as better than his expectation to cross the bridge. In this case, the person would not have a problem at all where other people given similar circumstances would see it as a rather big problem.
The size of a problem is determined by the level of threat to the person’s identity states. Believing the identity map and identity states to be who you are is the one problem that creates every other problem in your life.
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