Before we get to the last level of participation, let’s take a performance tool from Lanny and apply it to daily life. One of Lanny’s teaching points is that your self-image can be changed through directive affirmation. He recommends that you create an affirmation of what you want to be and then state it as if it already is and your performance will improve. Further, if you do not meet your directive affirmation goals you actively dismiss that moment as “not like you”. Do not let a poor performance one time affirm the negative self image.
For example, I have been using a scuba diving based directive affirmation for some weeks now. While it was created for my challenging dives I made it broad enough to apply in other areas of my life so that I can practice and strengthen it even when not diving. My directive affirmation targets a specific behavior I want to change and I must fight my self-image to effect this change.
In my case I tend to passionately engage in any problem that comes along. This stems from a long history of dealing with problems; I have been the “go to guy” for fixing things for a large part of my career. However, my solutions were based on a need for speed and sometimes there are problems that require careful consideration before acting. Speed solutions often subconsciously lead to physical responses. Tense muscles for fast reactions, tunneled vision for problem focus, and shallower breathing for higher oxygen transfer rates. These are exactly the wrong things to do when you face a scuba diving challenge! My problem solving habit had to be broken and my directive affirmation was the first big step in that.
To improve the self-image you need to visualize the positive change you want and then build the directive affirmation that is “like you”. If you perform in your new self then that is “like you”. If you do not succeed then it is a temporary moment and it is “not like you”. I needed to be much more relaxed in my problem solving, it should be like me to face a challenge and act coolly and properly. My directive affirmation is:
“I respond to challenges with calm precision.”
This is great for scuba; it means that when any difficulty comes along I calmly pick the best solution and execute the actions efficiently. I do not “react” but “respond”. My actions are based on thought and are not the first emotional reaction that comes to mind.
In scuba diving you need to be able to respond to a variety of challenges. Your air supply is low, your buddy is out of air, you get separated from the group. All sorts of things can happen but you generally have time to respond and go to the surface and fix it. In cave diving you can not go to the surface, there is usually several dozen feet of rock between you and air. You must solve your problem right then, right there. That is why there is so much training involved in cave diving; you have to be practiced in how to respond to all the likely challenges. My directive affirmation makes it like me to solve these challenges properly.
How about you? Are there behaviors you want to do differently? A directive affirmation can be used to stop smoking, improve spending or exercise habits, or even revitalize personal relationships. What can you choose this week to make your life better?