In a previous article, we discussed the 5 Mental BLOCKs of our awareness that prevent you from reaching your goals and achieving success. These are:
-> B: Blinded by the Light—distractions.
-> L: Likes and Dislikes—personal bias.
-> O: Overthinking and Overwhelm—mental clutter.
-> C: Cynicism and Despair—negative worldview.
-> K: Killjoy Attitude—mental anaemia.
These 5 BLOCKs arise from the three parts of our triune brain: reptilian, paleomammalian, and neomammalian.
Assuming that you now know and accept that you have BLOCKs of awareness and that you also wish to remove them, we now need to understand how to remove them.
In my book, The Flea Circus, I discuss how to sidestep these BLOCKs.This is a 4-step method to help you remove your blocks and give yourself the best opportunity to build effectiveness.
All you need to remember, as the Buddhists say, is to ‘Let it RAIN’:
-> R: Recognise the symptoms.
-> A: Accept what is.
-> I: Identify the cause.
-> N: Navigate your way out.
R: Recognise the Symptoms
The problem most people encounter is that they don’t recognise the symptoms of the 5 BLOCKs for what they are and what they signify. Unfortunately, most people don’t know what they don’t know.
Even if the symptoms of being blocked are noticed, it’s easy to dismiss these symptoms as irrelevant and nothing to worry about. Or to associate these symptoms with something else, usually something minor or insignificant.
But as we know, symptoms are warning signs of something going on underneath your awareness.
If left unchecked, symptoms of an underlying problem will only become more intense and more frequent, until, more often than not, it’s too late to do anything about the underlying cause or issue.
Recognising the symptoms of the 5 BLOCKs for what they are—markers of the underlying state of your mind—is the vital first step in eliminating these blocks.
You can only implement a solution to a problem that you know exists. Awareness, then, is the key. Awareness of what state of mind you are in.
Here are some associated symptoms of the 5 BLOCKs:
-> B: Blinded by the Light—Poor attention span, easily distracted, avoidance behaviour, sensory addiction.
-> L: Likes and Dislikes—Closed-mindedness, controlling behaviour, motivated by mood states, ill-will toward others/things.
-> O: Overthinking and Overwhelm—Restless or unsettled mind, intense and uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, sensations, feelings of being unable to cope, continual over-reaction.
-> C: Cynicism and Despair—Intellectual superiority, futility, hopelessness, despair, chronic indecisiveness.
-> K: Killjoy Attitude—Refusal to feel enthusiastic, mental sluggishness, physical heaviness.
You may recognise symptoms in yourself of one or more of these 5 BLOCKs, maybe even all of them.
Which is actually great news, because now you can take steps to do something about them.
A: Accept What Is
Before you can implement a solution to your blocks and navigate your way around them, you first need to accept that you have a problem.
Denying that you have a block, or rejecting any idea or notion that it exists, will only cement that block in place and make it harder for you to remove.
In her famous book, On Death and Dying, psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first outlined her theory of the 5 Stages of Grief—Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Her underlying philosophy was that everyone would best be served by gracefully accepting that death and dying is an integral and necessary part of life.
Over 2,500 years ago, the Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, also argued that true philosophy was the practice and preparation for death.
Accordingly, the true aim of philosophy was to no longer fear death, to conquer the final frontier.
The important thing is to learn to acknowledge and accept the situation as it is.
Acceptance of what is leads to peace of mind. It leads to healing. It leads to growth and advancement.
Rejection, or resistance, of what is, however, has the opposite effect: anguish, suffering, stagnation, failure to heal.
What you resist persists.
This is true of anything in life. It’s vital, then, that you accept whatever blocks you are experiencing.
Accepting them can be difficult. You might experience denial, you might get angry about it, even try to bargain your way out, or get depressed over it.
But if you don’t accept your blocks, you are likely to remain stuck and unable to progress, unable to find peace of mind and healing.
Blocks that severely hamper and limit your ability to build effectiveness.
I: Identify the Cause
Once you have recognised the symptoms of your block and accepted that you have a block, the next step is to identify the underlying cause of the block.
One way is to use the process that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals use to identify health issues with their patients—take a history, examine the patient, request some investigations, and diagnose the illness.
Taking a history of the symptoms involves asking the right questions.
What symptoms have you noticed? When did they start? What makes the symptoms worse or better? Have you or your family had these symptoms before?
The aim of taking a history from the patient is to focus on the most likely diagnoses and narrow the list of possibilities.
Then the doctor will examine the patient for signs, listening to the chest, feeling for lumps and bumps, looking inside the ears and throat, inspecting the skin, and so forth.
Examination of the patient will narrow the list of possible diagnoses even further, and may even confirm the diagnosis that had been suspected when taking the history.
If the diagnosis is still up in the air, the doctor may request some investigations to build the evidence to confirm the diagnosis, such as blood tests, swabs, X-rays, and other internal imaging.
Sometimes multiple investigations are needed.
Gathering all the evidence that was taken from the history, examination, and investigations, the doctor then makes a definitive or highly probable diagnosis that they then use to formulate a treatment plan for the patient.
This medical process is also a useful diagnostic tool to identify the cause of any block you might be experiencing.
- First, take a history of your symptoms. When did you first notice them? Do they occur at certain times? How often do they happen? What triggers them?
- Second, examine your mental and emotional state. How do your blocks make you feel? Is there a strong emotional component to your block? Why do you think this happens? You can also ask yourself what will be the consequence if your block remains and you do nothing about it?
- Third, investigate which part of the brain is the dominating factor in your block, your forebrain, midbrain, or hindbrain?
- Are you continually overthinking and have a forebrain block? Are you constantly overwhelmed and have a hindbrain block? Are you habitually running toward pleasurable situations, or avoiding painful situations, and have a midbrain block?
Once you have made your diagnosis and identified the cause, you can now formulate a treatment plan to help navigate your way out.
N: Navigate Your Way Out
Your life is too unique and too important to allow your blocks to limit your life and be less than what you are capable of being.
To build effectiveness is to bring meaning and value to your life and to the lives of those you touch, so it’s vital that you navigate your way around your blocks and don’t let them stop you being who you are and what you can be.
Remember, though, treating the symptoms is only temporary. You must treat the root cause for a permanent solution or remedy to your blocks.
Like all problems, the solution is embedded in the problem itself. You just need to look at the problem and the solution will reveal itself.
For example, if you are poor, the solution is money. If you are unwell, the solution is health. If you are unemployed, the solution is employment.
Your focus then becomes a question of how to make money, how to get well, or how to get a job.
So, how do you find a solution or remedy to your blocks? You simply do the opposite!
-> B: Blinded by the Light—Delay of gratification.
-> L: Likes and Dislikes—Do what’s right.
-> O: Overthinking and Overwhelm—Simplicity and mindfulness.
-> C: Cynicism and Despair—Embrace the mystery (curiosity).
-> K: Killjoy Attitude—Change perspective.
Practical Tips to UnBLOCK
Here are some practical tips and remedies for each of the 5 BLOCKs and some of the symptoms they may present with.
#1. B: Blinded by the Lights
Symptom: distraction, sensory addiction.
Cause: pleasure and pain.
Remedy: delay of gratification.
Practical Tip: The best way to navigate your way out of sensory distraction and addiction is to think of what dogs do: they delay gratification. They bury their bone and wait for it to ripen before digging it up and enjoying it. They are the experts in Delaying Of Gratification—D.O.G!
#2. L: Likes & Dislikes
Symptom: displeasure, ill will.
Cause: preferences and bias.
Remedy: do what’s right despite your preferences.
Practical Tip: The best way to navigate your way out of mood motivation and ill will toward others is to think of what knights do: they fight the good fight. Fighting the good fight is simply doing what’s right in every situation. No matter if what is happening around you is to your dislike, you have the power to always choose the right thing to do. No matter if everyone around you is behaving to your displeasure, you have the power to choose the right course of action.
#3. O: Overthinking & Overwhelm
Symptom: unable to cope.
Cause: fear of failure.
Remedy: be courageous and act despite your fear.
Practical Tip: The best way to navigate your way out of feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope is to think of what soldiers do: they are brave under fire. Being courageous isn’t the absence of fear, it is doing what you should do despite the fears you have. This is the time to simplify and prioritise, to be mindful of the present and take each moment as it comes, even if all you can do is take one step at a time, live each hour by hour.
#4. C: Cynicism & Doubt
Symptom: futility and pointlessness.
Cause: the belief your needs won’t be met.
Remedy: embrace the unknown, be curious.
Practical Tip: The best way to navigate your way out of futility and hopelessness is to think of what children do: they are naturally curious. Embracing the unknown is simply the attitude of being open to the mystery of life and allowing what will be to be. It is to humbly acknowledge that you don’t know everything, and can’t know everything, and to stop pretending that you do know everything. So let Life be your teacher, embrace the experience of today and learn from it. Greet the day with anticipation. Be vulnerable and be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
#5. K: Killjoy Attitude
Symptom: mental sluggishness.
Cause: lack of purpose.
Remedy: change your perspective.
Practical Tip: The best way to navigate your way out of mental sluggishness is to think of what bees do: they are energetic and positive. Why? Because they are working for a common cause—the well-being of the hive and the well-being of each and every bee. To feel more energetic and positive, release the shackles of your mental sluggishness by changing your perspective on why you do what you do and embracing a bigger purpose.
- Let it RAIN: Recognise the symptoms of your block; Accept you have a block; Identify the cause of your block; Navigate your way out.
- Like all problems, the solution is embedded in the problem itself.
- You can find a solution or remedy to your blocks by simply doing the opposite!