By Brian Beatty & Rob Schneider
Nothing is wrong is having some years of experience. Though we often strive to maintain the physical health we associate with youth, how many of us say, “It would be great to be 10, 20, 30 years younger, if I could know then what I know now.” Hopefully as we age, we accumulate some of the wonderful gifts we call wisdom & insight. As Richard Pryor said, “You don’t get to be old being no fool, been a lot of young wise men, dead now”. We have all heard some version of the prayer, “Lord, grant me the ability to change the things I can, patience to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.” Whatever our chosen activity, we are often trying to notice what we do and improve upon it.
As we are trying to make changes, it is important to do it in a wise manner. We often get frustrated that we can’t control what we are doing in the manner that we desire. To do so, we need to recognize the roles of our consciousness and our sub-consciousness. We also need to be aware that several distinct steps must occur. First we must consciously notice what we are doing, then initiate a corrective action, and notice the effect of the corrective action. Our goal is for this conscious feedback process to eventually become our automatic (i.e. sub-conscious) manner of performing the activity and lead to a permanent change in performance. The first goal toward change therefore is to improve the noticing. Without the noticing, we can’t change our actions. Our second goal then becomes to make the noticing sub-conscious, so that the changes can happen automatically. If we interfere either of these goals, we interfere with the desired change.
In order to do this, some understanding of the working of the sub-conscious is important. Our sub-conscious responses are directly related to emotional impact that any action we undergo will create. As part of our survival instinct, the sub-conscious directs our actions toward events that will be perceived as pleasurable or positive emotionally, and avoids actions that have a negative emotional impact.
In attempting to change our actions, we have two opportunities to either positively or negatively influence our sub-consciousness. These opportunities occur at the moment we notice the action we desire to change and again when we notice the result of our attempt to change. At both of these times, it is critical that act of noticing what is happening is judged in a positive manner. If you do so, you will reinforce the acts of noticing and correcting in such a way that your sub-conscious will assist you in automatically continuing these actions. If you are overly self-critical or negatively judgmental, then we are subconsciously teaching ourselves not to notice. If we don’t notice, we have no opportunity to correct and create the desired permanent, habitual change. Though your conscious cognitive level may desire that you pay attention and work on improving form, your subconscious will attempt to avoid that very action if the noticing is connected to a negative emotional event.
On a larger level, this practice is about cultivating the skill to listen to yourself, be kind to yourself and trust your inner wisdom. Though I do not claim to be a wise person, this seems like wise advice to me. I once read an interview with a centenarian, who, when asked her secret to a long life replied, “When I work, I work hard. When I rest, I rest easy. When I get tired, I sleep.” I can’t add anything to that; enjoy your wise age, whatever it may be.
Brian Beatty, Rob Schneider and all of the talented people at Balanced Physical Therapy desire to provide services in the wisest manner that can. They are grateful for lessons that are taught by all the wonderful people with whom they are blessed to interact with on a daily basis.