Now that you have developed your Defining Statements (D.S.), you need a tool to help you stay on track with the Primary and Secondary Choices. And since you have practiced being mindful, you are ready to learn this tool.
The behaviors here are pretty simple and will seem obvious as you read through this lesson. But simple is not the same as easy, and having steps and a name for the behaviors of this technique will make is easier for you to remember and easier for you to do.
Notice, Own and Control (N.O.C.)
When there are thoughts in your head urging you to take an action that does not align with your D.S., take Notice of the fact that you are having these thoughts.
Next, Own it. By Owning it, I mean to acknowledge the thought and that it did in fact come from inside your head, it wasn’t put there by someone else or by evil spirits.
Note: Don’t be ashamed that you are having these thoughts, don’t feel like you are a failure because your thoughts are not automatically aligning with your Defining Statements, don’t get down on yourself. In fact, you need experiences like this to learn. You can’t develop a skill without learning and practice. Whether the skill is Nourishing Yourself or Saving Money, it will take practice to learn and make it automatic (a habit).
Next, take Control. Realize that you have the ability to Control your actions. (To me, this is actually kind of exciting: the fact that I have the ability to control my actions, and that I don’t have to blindly follow every thought or craving that pops into my head.) You can choose to follow the thought and take an action that does not align with your D.S., or you can choose to take a different action that does align with your D.S. It is your choice. You are in control.
- Here is an example: You have a stressful day and come home from work and sit down to relax and you want a bowl of ice-cream.
- Be Mindful and Notice your craving. If you don’t actually Notice the craving until you have the bowl and spoon and ice-cream out, that is OK. Or maybe you’ve already taken a couple bites … it doesn’t matter, you can still take control of the situation.
- Next, bring the desire to eat ice-cream to the front of your mind and Own it. Acknowledge that you like ice-cream, and that when you’re sitting down to relax feels like a good time to have some ice-cream. Realize that this is a normal feeling for you, (or if it is not a normal feeling for you). Don’t push the feeling off, or blame it on a stressful day. Own the fact that the craving is coming from inside you.
- Then, realize that you have the ability to Control your actions. You don’t have to blindly follow the craving that follows the stressful day. You can make a choice to have the ice-cream, or not. But you are in control, not the craving, or the stressful day, or the boss that made the day stressful.
Of course, if you make the choice to skip the craving and stick to the actions that align with your D.S., you are going to feel pretty good about yourself. And you should. It takes a million little steps to reach any destination, and every step can be celebrated.
Dig Into It
Last week we learned about “head hunger”, and at the end of that lesson was a long list of ways to dig in to this feeling. If what you Notice is Head Hunger, this would be a good opportunity to explore where the Head Hunger is coming from.
Not just eating
The Notice, Own, and Control technique can be used to any aspect of life, not just nutritious eating. For example, if you have a co-worker who rubs you the wrong way, and you tend to raise your voice to them, this may be a behavior that you would like to improve. You can apply Notice, Own, and Control to this situation.
It might go something like this: The co-worker approaches and starts saying something that is annoying to you. Notice that you are starting to feel annoyed. And Own it. It is OK to be annoyed by people. But not necessarily OK to raise your voice to them at work. So, acknowledge the fact that they annoy you. You might even take a moment to figure out why they are so annoying to you.
Note: When dealing with people, keep in mind that the only thing that you can control is your reaction to them. You cannot control other people.
When you are Owning this feeling, do not push it off onto the annoying co-worker. They are likely just being themselves, and you just happen to find them annoying, so the problem is your reaction to them, not them. Or, at least, this is the approach you should take.
Next, decide how to react to the annoying co-worker. By spending a split second thinking about it, you may even come up with alternatives that you never considered before: walk away before they get to you, offer to buy them a cup of coffee, ask if they like the local football team, etc. Take Control of yourself and the situation.
Start Changing Your Habits
This Notice, Own, and Control technique is a good way start changing bad habits, and to uncouple undesirable reactions from events. Any time you become aware of an unhealthy thought, feeling or action, use this thought process to stop your conditioned response in its tracks.