- Thoughts for inspired living

November 13, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:50 am

Did you ever notice that Americans are the Kings and Queens of nicknames? I haven’t lived in other countries, but I can’t imagine anyone does this name shortening process any more than we do.

Jessica becomes “Jess.” Christopher or Christine becomes “Chris.” In the world of sports, basketball stars Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade become known as “AI” and “D-Wade” respectively.

Automatic Teller Machines automatically became ATMs. Individual Retirement Accounts became IRAs (although with the amount they’ve gone down recently, maybe they should be shortened to just plain “I.”). The list of truncating names is endless.

Yesterday, I promised I would offer you a strategy for interrupting and outgrowing patterns that I have found very helpful. It involves shortening.

Let’s pretend that you begin to notice a pattern of thought or a behavior you have that isn’t working for you. You have often heard me say you can interrupt that pattern, while it is happening, just by noticing it. The noticing awareness acts as a wedge between the stimulus and response. The wedge creates a space for a new strategy to enter your awareness rather than the repeated one that isn’t working. For this interruption strategy to be effective, it has to be repeated until it also becomes automated.

You could notice and interrupt by unemotionally and specifically stating the facts. “I’m noticing that I’m having unsettling thoughts about my IRA going down again.” “I’m noticing that I’m having repeated thoughts about being the next job cut in my company’s downsizing.” “I’m noticing I’m having the ‘fat slob’ conversation about myself in my head.” “I’m noticing I am arguing for my limitations.” “I’m noticing I’m ending my sentences with a preposition.” You get the idea.

What I have found is that instead of stating the entire case, you can just shorten it to a generic trigger word or phrase. NLP people will recognize this method as anchoring. Eastern aficionados would call this word or sound a mantra. I have come to find out that all the detail isn’t necessary when noticing.

I have come up with two, two word phrases that have been very helpful to me in interrupting undesirable patterned thinking or behavior. They are “Patterned Thinking” and “Patterned Behavior.”

Anytime I notice myself in an unproductive thought loop, I interrupt by saying “Patterned Thinking.” It’s a generic, shorthand interrupter of that thought pattern. If I notice myself running a behavior that isn’t contributing to my well being, I interrupt by saying “Patterned Behavior.”

The more often you notice and interrupt an unwanted thought or behavior, while it is happening, the less often it comes around. This practice adds to your peace of mind and creates new options for you to consider and act on.

Efficiency experts are always seeking the fewest number of steps to accomplish a goal without losing quality in the process. This shortening process works for me and I trust it will work for you too. It takes some repetition for you to notice how effective this strategy is.

Who knows, maybe in a future blog I’ll have it shortened down to “PT” and “PB.”

All the best,


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