With coaching we can solve any problem. But sometimes we're so used to the old way of reacting to things, or to people we know, that we abandon the solution in favour of what we used to do, that didn't work so well. So here's what to do in that case, to handle stubborn problems.
Hi everyone. My name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout To Leadership Podcast where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello, my friends, this is Dex again. And I'm glad you could join me for this week's episode, How to Fix Stubborn Problems, and this follows on from last week's episode number 46 of How to Fix Problems. And I strongly recommend you go back and listen to that episode first, if you haven't already, because today we're building on what you learned there in this week's basically advanced topic. And I really like this one, it can... It was making me chuckle even now. It makes me chuckle because of how dumb I've been up until the moment when I learned this, about how my brain actually works. You think we'd know something like that, but I really didn't. So today we're talking about solving stubborn problems. Go near those, I used to have lots. You might also like to by the way, listen to episode number 44, which is on fixed versus growth mindset. If your mind has a tendency to stubbornness like mine, it's gonna help you break free a few of these kind of wild and happy brain cells that you can divert or redeploy to solving the stickiest problems. So today we're talking about using the self coaching model, or just the model for short, that I talked about in episode 46 as a tool to un stick stuck problems. And as a little recap, cognitive behavior therapy is what's behind all of this and that asserts that the way we perceive and respond to the world depends not on what's happened, but on what we think and feel about what's happened. So when an event takes place, of itself, it can dictate our experience. What a mind blower, right? And also, we won't have any feeling about it until we've had a thought about what happened, because we don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. So in effect, our thoughts create our world. And so beyond the model, which is what I covered in the last episode, which is based on cognitive behaviour therapy, there's another dynamic at play within those models that I didn't mention last time, and it's really beyond CBT now, and it's called confirmation bias, you're probably familiar with the term. It's where we look only... Is where we only look for or notice information coming in from the world that confirms what we already believe. And it comes really from our need to be right, our ego, if you like. And that's been designed to keep us safe. It keeps us safe by having beliefs about what's right or wrong, what's good or bad, what's safe and unsafe, and not letting anyone tear those beliefs away from us. And I don't know why, but that makes me think about religious wars. But anyhow, you've experienced confirmation bias for sure. There's the old farmer story, there's only one way to kill a mole, confirmation bias. And if you doubt me, find some laced up shoes, put them on and try to tie the laces in a different way than you've been taught to tie them. You might find it quite hard. Anyway, in the last episode, if you listened to it, we built a model about this guy called Fred, whose dog had just died of cancer, and he was blaming the vet. In fact, he... Fred spent a lot of time afterwards, sitting numbly in his car, telling himself all the different ways the vet had let him down. Because with confirmation bias, if Fred believes that the vet has let him down, the only evidence he will find is evidence to support that belief. He won't look for or even notice any evidence to the contrary. For example, how the vet gave good service or was compassionate. So we have a set of beliefs that guide how we think about what happens in the world. And sometimes our beliefs trigger negative feelings, feelings that cause us suffering, And our suffering can become deeper and more intense, and more prolonged, the more thoughts we have on the same thing. So we often unwittingly increase our own suffering. Using the self coaching modeller, we're gonna come to regard ourselves as having a little bit of wiggle room in the way we react to the world simply by choosing different thoughts to think about what happened. And we'll see that we can use the model to retrain our brain to respond to events and to people in a new and different way that we prefer, simply because it helps us to feel better. So in the dog example, Fred could have chosen to think that the vet was ultimately compassionate towards the dog and made a tough assessment that nothing more could be done to relieve his painful condition. Fred would probably have felt a little bit differently about the vet then. So if our thoughts create our world, what this really means is, we can learn to create, for example, more happiness for ourselves, more confidence, more assurance than we have before, we can learn to create what we might think of as positive emotion. And if we choose to do that or if we believe that we can do that, we're gonna begin to feel less of a victim of circumstances as we see the power we hold to create our own experiences in life. And learning the model is simple, even though the nuances take a little bit of time to perfect, so go back to episode 46 and have a listen to that if you want to learn how to use the model yourself. And when we do use the model, when we follow this idea to its conclusion, what we're really saying is that when we choose a thought on purpose, that generates what we consider to be a desirable or positive emotion, we can then use the power of that emotion to take positive action, to create results we actually want in the world. So actually then, our thoughts are what we'll use to create a future that we want, which is of course another reason why I teach all of my clients to use the model. However, there can be a bit of a snag. When we change an old thought for a new one, it takes time to de condition the habit of the old thought, 'cause we might have been subconsciously using that thought since we were children, and then go on to make a new habit of the new thought. So for anyone already using the model and unable to let go of old thoughts, habitual negative thoughts is a further idea. When we're trying to replace an old thought but it won't die, we just keep thinking it without really being able to control that, perhaps we decide not to believe the old thought. Let's say... Let's use an example, let's say we use a money related thought like, I can never earn more money than this, and we try to stop thinking it, but it doesn't always work very readily because every T, every thought that we have is not independent, it's not stand alone actually, it's part of a network of other thoughts that support and endorse one another. And the reason I use the money belief as an example, is because as children, we absorb a web of thoughts about money from our parents typically, or other early influence in our lives. We inherit all of their beliefs, and those color the way we think about and behave around money for the rest of our lives, unless we intentionally change those beliefs. But unfortunately, most of those thoughts become over time subconscious. We usually don't even notice we have them, even though they're driving all of our decisions around money in this case. Or if we do notice them, we think they're facts, unchangeable, this is how money is. So deciding that an old thought about money is invalid or untrue, effectively challenges all the other related thoughts we have about money, implying that maybe they're not true either. So we really kinda poked a stick at a big hornet's nest here. And that's why sometimes a new thought we have about something like money doesn't stick very easily, and we can... Without paying a lot of attention, we can revert to our old habitual thought that wasn't really working for us. And the number one reason is our brain believes the old thought 'cause it's been using it for years, it became a subconscious habit. And also because humans don't like change very much, change sometimes feels like a threat or a security risk. The old thought was working, why do I need a new one? And also getting a new thought, we have to have that from our conscious mind, and it uses a lot more energy. It uses actually, a lot more calories, our brains use a lot of calories. 20% of the energy we use every day is brain power. And it's much cheaper to you use a subconscious thought, recycled, than to develop a whole new conscious thought. So we're resistant for change for that reason as well. And of course, our egos don't like to be wrong. I'd like us to keep all of our old belief systems intact. So breaking a thought habit like, I can never earn more money than this might run up against the other beliefs, like someone from my background can't make more money than this or they told me at school I was too stupid to earn a good wage, or my parents never earned more than this, or I don't deserve to earn more than this. Or no one will pay me more than this, and this whole kind of back catalogue of other beliefs that kind of hang together. And untangling those enough to believe this single new thought that I can earn more money than this, might seem like a long and iterative process. And that might explain why so many people self coaching using the model make slow progress and often feel stuck and frustrated, because letting go one old thought at a time can be a bit laborious if we're gonna do it that way. So for those of you listening who already know the model and use it frequently, have skill with it, there is another way, and here's what I do and what I've seen other high fliers doing. And again, I've learned this from Brooke Castillo and a lot of other coaches that I admire. And the results arraign, when I look at them, it works. When you find a thought you'd like to think, spend a lot of time working it and believing it, unwinding down or de conditioning your belief in your old thoughts, telling yourself you don't believe it anymore. The more you believe in your new thought, the more you're gonna... Your brain is actually gonna recognize that it's the one to use. So with practice, repetition and belief, we can change a thought habit. And here's how to do that. Firstly, you're gonna have to find a way to believe that your thoughts are what creates your experience of the world. You have to believe that you have agency to create a better future by changing your thoughts. Otherwise, you're just gonna be out there trying to change the world to suit you. You're gonna see the cause of your problems really, as being outside of yourself, and you're gonna feel like a victim. So if you wanna try and believe that your thoughts are what create your experience in the world, the brain loves evidence, right? So really, look for existing evidence that your thought has created a result for you. Not what happened in the world, not what actions you took, but what thought you were thinking is what creates results. A lot of people do believe that their actions are what create results, but actually your actions are generated based on how you feel, always, and your thoughts are what create your feelings. So really, your thoughts create your results. So to show your brain this is true, look into your past for any time this might have happened to you. Find a moment where you changed your belief about something, and then some serendipitous act happened in your favor, and you will need to take this step to even be willing to do the work to create belief that any other T thought is now true. I always keep abbreviating thought to T. If you keep catching me doing that, there you are, it's my habit. Okay, so once you've managed to find a way to convince yourself that your thoughts are what create the results in your life, then you can look at all of your old thoughts again, let's just revisit them for a second, look at and catalogue all your other old thoughts that prevent you believing this new thought you're trying to embrace, and you do this just so that you know what other thoughts you might also need to work on later. So at the moment, what we had is we had an old thought, for example, I can't earn more money than this, and we want to trade in for a new thought, which is, I can earn more money than this, simple. But the old thought might have had a whole bunch of friends back there that are similar that may also need to do some modeling on. So step two is just make a list of all those other thoughts that might impede you from believing this new thought, just so you know what they are. Third, immediately discard that list of old thoughts for now and decide you're gonna believe your new thought anyway. Fourth, practice your new thought every day, get friendly and familiar with it, so it starts to kind of become more natural for you, make thinking it a new habit. Fifth, fall in love with your new thought, speak out loud every morning, make decisions about what you do every day based on this new thought being who you really are right now. Show yourself how the new thought aligns with your wishes, your dreams and your values. Show yourself what wonderful changes that will be in your life when you believe it, and the effects of those changes on your life and the lives of the people around you. Look for the benefits of the benefits and really what becomes possible for you to create in this world when you believe this new thought. Six, find other thoughts that go with it, make a portfolio of new thoughts that support your first thought. Because this is how your old thoughts were, right? They were a network of thoughts on the same subject that backed each other up. So give your new thought some happy friend thoughts to play with, okay. Make a network of them. You think I'm kidding, right? This is neuroscience working for you. Seven, become so intimate with this process of belief, that it just becomes routine to spend time with it, being the person who completely believes your thought and takes action from that belief. Eighth, encourage and reward yourself for the work you're doing on believing this new thought, this is you creating a new future. Your subconscious mind actually, will keep recreating whatever it thinks is working for you, it's kind of a survival technique. If it thinks you're surviving by doing something, it'll do that thing again. It'll just recreate that circumstance for you, so reward. When you reward yourself for trying to believe a new thought, you're actually telling your subconscious mind to keep thinking that new thought, so you're getting it on board, you're re training it to create this new thought habit belief. Now, I work with a lot of clients who are creating what they want, who've learned this process, they've stepped beyond their old beliefs to believe new things are possible, and sometimes I watch them. Their first time that they do it, it comes as quite a shock, as quite a surprise when it works. And they see it as something, some random synchronicity turning up in their lives working in their favor, that solves their problem, that reaches their goal for them. And so once you develop the skill, you actually can change your life, that's what they do, and I'm watching all my clients do this in there work lives typically, 'cause I work with professionals in burnout. Once they come out of burnout, they go on to achieve, most of them, enormous, impossible dreams that they thought they would never achieve. So I say that by way of encouragement, 'cause I routinely watch people being successful in this process that I've just described today. And if you have scepticism about it, I would encourage you just to suspend your disbelief and give it a little bit of a go. In fact, give it a red, hot go and just see what happens for you. And while we're on the topic... So today's subject was solving stubborn problems, but did you notice that today, even though that's what we were talking about, I never mentioned the person or the situation that's pissing you off. I've asked 'cause you won't want to outsource your happiness to that person or that event, because it's probably not gonna work. You create your experience with your thoughts, you can't change history, you can't change what's happened, and you can't change other people. But luckily, you don't need to, you can change yourself. That stubborn part of the problem is always our own brain. And we can change that, right? A little bit of a radical thought I know, if this is the first time around the block with it. But try it, try it and shock yourself to the foundations when you're thinking outrageous, unbelievable new thought, an aspirational thought, a dream thought that only a spiritual master could believe, and yet you choose to believe it and act accordingly. I can get on with my brother in law, I will double my current salary, that accident did not ruin my life. I can retire at 50. I will run my own restaurant. You can believe anything you like, you can just choose to believe it and go ahead and believe it. And if you do that, if you go through this exercise, if you give it a run and you get a result, I want to hear what results you get, so let me know. That's it, that's what I have for you today. Thank you very much for listening or watching if you're watching the video. I appreciate your time and attention, and I really do hope you found today's episode useful and perhaps a tiny bit hopeful, because you do have agency over your life, and I can teach you how by the way. Listen on to the link that's coming up after this to book a consult with me. And if you're in burnout, you must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance leadership and most of all, enjoyment inside work and out. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my burnout to leadership program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you, and let's make a plan to fix it.