"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” - James A. Baldwin
“Within each of us there is an internal mental world, what I have come to think of as the sea inside that is a wonderfully rich place, filled with thoughts and feelings, memories and dreams, hopes and wishes. Of course it can also be a turbulent place, where we experience the dark side of all those wonderful feelings and thoughts, fears, sorrows, dreads, regrets, and nightmares. When this inner sea seems to crash in on us, threatening to drag us down below to the dark depths, it can make us feel as if we’re drowning. Who among us has not at one time or another felt overwhelmed by the sensations from within our own minds?” – mindsight – The new science of personal transformation, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
DEFINITION: Insightful Change Techniques – A combination of self-help techniques within one process that can change how we view our world, our experiences, our view of self and our view of others. The Proper application of these techniques can reduce or eliminate negative thought patterns and behaviors that stem from unhealthy or distorted perceptions and experiences. When used as instructed, the Insightful Change Method (ICM) techniques will increase our ability to automatically respond from an internal sense of neutrality, and a calm centeredness. The desired result is that we are better able to stop and think, not simply react, when faced with stressful situations. In the long run that translates into healthier choices, healthier relationships and peace of mind.
“Any culture we are immersed in....is likely to be like water to fish: utterly pervasive in how it conditions our perceptions and behavior yet largely unconscious. Culture is the interior commons, the group identity we implicitly share with those we include whenever we say “we”. It’s our interpretive framework, the perspective through which we view our familiar world. It is the lens that, for the most part, we’re looking through rather than at, until we step away and begin to reflect on what our shared assumptions actually are and how they affect the content and outcome of our [lives]*.” **
Cultures that influence us can include our home environment, religioion, educational, and/or our societies as a whole. It can be whatever we immerse ourselves and our thoughts in, be it healthy or unhealthy. Our environment conditions our perceptions and our behaviors, either positively or negatively. As stated above, it is the lens we are looking through rather than at. Or put another way “our reality” is just that – our reality, based on our perceptions.
If we want to change our reality we must look at our acquired perceptions or assumptions rather than through them. We will then begin to see the influence they have in our lives. Because of our environmental influences we come away with healthy, positive perceptions as well as some that are not so positive and can, in fact, prove harmful to us. Ideally, we want the healthy ones to dominate how we choose to live our lives, and take aim to change, eliminate or reverse the perceptions that distort our lens and result in unhealthy choices or automatically trigger negative emotions and responses.
Consider the perception or belief that addiction, even when no longer active, is a latent pathology, an ever-enduring identity that never really goes away. Perhaps you have heard it said.... “once an addict, always an addict”. Recovery, from this point of view, can only be seen as abstaining from addictive behavior and returning to conformity within social norms. This view of recovery, is like defining peace as simply the absence of war.
In the process of human development, all of us face the same choice. We can walk the circle of eventual repetition or break out onto a new path of freedom that leads beyond the known to the discovery of whom we really are and why we’re here.
Physician and addiction specialist Gabor Mate, MD writes: “A sense of deficient emptiness pervades our entire culture. The drug addict is more painfully conscious of this void than most people and has limited means of escaping it. The rest of us find other ways of suppressing our fear of emptiness or of distracting ourselves from it....Human beings want not only to survive, but also to live. We long to experience life in all its vividness with full, untrammeled emotion...For the addict the drug provides a route to feeling alive again if only temporarily.”***
Our thoughts, emotions and perceptions are constantly changing from stimulation within our environment and are expressed through various modes of expression based on the lens we look through. When that expression is blocked by events that we cannot adequately respond to, it is like a stream that cannot continue to flow freely. It soon becomes a whirlpool that has its own energy within us and has the potential to block healthy development.
This metaphor of a blocked stream can include any repeating pattern or habit that keeps our lives trapped in a whirlpool of unhealthy behaviors that continues to be recycled. This process of repeated negative thought patterns and behaviors block the positive, healthy emotions and thought patterns that can allow us to live full, creative, happy and authentic lives.
Dr. Daniel Siegel uses the term Mindsight. He defines it as “focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off of the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in. It lets us name and tame the emotions we are experiencing rather than being overwhelmed by them.”
By utilizing this uniquely human ability to focus inward and ask “why”, we can examine the process by which we think feel and behave. By utilizing the techniques of the Insightful Change Method we are able to reshape and redirect our inner experiences so that we have more freedom of choice in our everyday actions.
When we are not taken over by disruptive internal thoughts and feelings, we become clearer, more centered and integrated in mind and body. We are now able to be more receptive to the inner world of another…showing more interest and empathy toward them...rather than being consumed by our own internal chaos. Without this internal equilibrium we can become imprisoned in behavioral ruts, anxiety and depression, greed, obsession and addiction.
Dr. Siegel points out through the findings of neuroscience that the mental and emotional changes we can create through this internal mental focus are transformational at the very physical level of the brain. “...We can re-sculpt our neural pathways, stimulating the growth of areas of the brain that are crucial to mental health.”
The beauty of the Insightful Change Method process is that by using them, these repeating negative thought and behavior patterns can be identified, eliminated and replaced with healthy emotions, thoughts and behavior that become our new identity. They become so much a part of who we are that they become our automatic way of responding to old triggers in a more grounded, healthy manner with ease and often without conscious thought.
“NEUROPlASTICITY is the term used to describe this capacity for creating new neural connections and growing new neurons in response to experience. Neuroplasticity can occur throughout the lifespan....Whatever our early history it is never too late to stimulate the growth of the neural fibers…another exciting discovery of modern neuroscience: that the brain never stops growing in response to experience.”****
J. Santino, 12.2015
* J. Santino replaced the word “work” by the original Author, with the word “lives”.
** Wisdom Recovery, Part III, The Culture is the Competence: Evolving the Practice of Treatment and Recovery; by Gordon Devirin, EdD; Counselor Magazine, October 2015 Vol. 16
*** In the realm of hungry ghosts: Close encounters with addiction; Dr. G. Mate; Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
**** mindsight – A term that Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, MD uses in reference to the the science of personal transformation,