Alternative Thinking. The Mental Habit that limits your options.

rupik and the cronut

We fall into this trap while considering our options.  Dr. Robert Anthony calls it “alternative thinking.” It’s a situation where we see only two choices… Likely learned in childhood: “if you don’t eat the dinner, you will not get the dessert.” 

I’ll illustrate it on an example of Kathleen… Kathleen has been in a marriage for the past 7… 15… 25 years?  Her husband is a man of mediocre quality. A man from the lower shelf.

Perhaps you can relate.. When you are looking for some special shoes for tomorrow, you storm thru the store last minute, and can’t find anything you like or can afford… and … suddenly you see them: 75% off. Nobody wanted them so far.  There is some damage in material, there is something wrong with them, but you don’t investigate: you are tired of looking, it’s TIME to get some shoes,  and you are glad these shoes crossed your path.

This is how Kathleen found her husband.

But just like a cheap shoe, a man from the lower shelf has issues: it’s often uncomfortable, leaves blisters, and even the heel may break in public, bringing you shame. Oh, no.

But the man is not important in the story.  When Kat feels really unhappy and alone she calls her friend, and complain what the guy did again. 

And from time to time the friend will bring up a question: “Well, so leave!  What are you getting out of this? How long are you going to suffer?”

To which Kathleen replies: 

[ And this is the important part of the story. THE ALTERNATIVE THINKING IN ACTION ]

She says: “I can’t” (followed by 25 reasons why it’s a bad idea.) Why?  “Because, if I leave, I will never find anyone again. OR even if I find someone he will be the same or maybe even worse!”

She sees only two possibilities. Both bad.

Her work situation is similar. Abusive boss. High blood pressure.  Yet when she is asked: “why don’t you leave, he treats you like shit!” she says:  I can’t. Who will hire me at my age. I will never find another job. And even if I will, they will pay less or the boss will be bad again!”

Kathleen sees only two choices. Each worse than the other. 

In alternative thinking fear dominates. Faith’s gone.

These days we can buy any shoes we can think of.  The choices are unlimited. But when it comes to the important areas of life –  do we really see only two choices ? And one is worse than the other? What’s happening here?

Can you find an example you have done it in your life? I certainly can. Early “friendships.” My early friends happened to be those from the lower shelf.  Being a teen, I haven’t seen any examples of what a true friendship is. But the true revelations come when I notice, how am I limiting my possibilities NOW. 

There is no moral to the story…  just questions we need to keep asking ourselves and allow ourselves to hear the answers. 

Wake up and THINK

What is possible? Explore beyond 3 wild possibilities. How do I make the change?What possibility excites me?  What would be really nice to have? Why do I exist? What will fulfill me? 

Where do I want to grow? who do I want to create deep connection with? Where is the edge? What lasting thing I am called to create? What am I going to experience in an incredible relationship? What is my responsibility to create, say, do, ask for, take, envision. What do I want  to feel?

Let go of the old and open to the new.  

Here is what we need to remember about letting go: it’s hard for everyone.  There has been an experiment done:” When we are presented with making a change OR proving there is no need to change, great majority will get busy proving there is no need.”

In a book by Barbara Stanny, a very successful woman shares “the change of companies was the best thing I could do for myself. And yet, the old place, that caused me so much misery, has my claw marks all over it. It was so hard to leave…”

Set an intention. “The intention helps the manifestation of what we want. Letting go creates room for the new.”

Don’t wait. Create.

Many women work hard, accomplishing “the impossible” without asking for anything. We wait – years – for someone to acknowledge us: “wow, you are amazing! Here is your raise. Your reward. Your prize.”  But it doesn’t happen, because:

“You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you ask for.”

Hw would you lived,  if you didn’t need to prove your worthiness?

You don’t need to question it. You don’t need anyone’s approval.  You have plenty of choices, not just two.  So connect with what makes you come alive. And simply: declare your worth. Don’t wait for what you “deserve.”  Just take it or CREATE IT.

p.s. you also can have the cronut from the photo, without the guilt.