In 1912, Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe could be seen digging through the garbage hours before his event was to begin.
That morning he discovered his shoes were stolen. Thorpe scrambled to find another pair. Fortunately, he found two shoes in a trash can. One was a few sizes too big so he wore extra socks to keep the shoe from falling off. He competed in the pentathlon (5 events) and decathlon (10 events) and beat every other athlete despite this hardship.
Having his shoes stolen didn’t stop Jim Thorpe because he had already built up his endurance, speed and skill through years of training. So even though he had to use inferior equipment, he was able to compete and win. We can build our mental strength through a kind of training as well.
But instead of running laps around a track or lifting weights in a gym, we can grow our mind muscles with the way we handle the little annoyances that happen daily. That way when life throws us a major storm, we are ready.
How do we use little annoyances to build mental strength?
By dissolving the inner factor that causes us to feel unhappy or annoyed — occurrings.
What are occurrings?
Occurrings are the meanings your mind gives to events in the moment. Often they are evaluations of events.
Your car has a flat. The mind says “This is unfair.” You feel mad.
There’s traffic on the road. The mind says “This sucks.” You feel annoyed.
You’re late to work. The mind says “I’ll get in trouble.” You feel anxious.
Notice in each case, the mind gave meaning to the events. The meaning then caused a feeling. These feelings can seem to build up over time and weigh us down. But they don’t have to do so. With a small change, we can use them to become stronger. You can have flat emotions about the flat tire. You can be in flow when the cars are stopped. You can be late and not worry.
But how do you get to a place in which you let go of negative feelings about unwanted experiences?
We use the following four steps of the Lefkoe Occurring Process:
- Name the event (a moment in which something unwanted happened)
- Find the meaning (often a negative evaluation of the event)
- Create alternative interpretations for the events
- Notice that the interpretations are not inherent in the events
I’ve had quite a few opportunities to apply these four steps lately
For example, I was listening to the news and heard the death count from COVID-19. I felt fear. The occurrings I had were “If I get sick while alone that would be terrible.” I came up with the following alternative interpretations. Just because others are getting sick doesn’t mean I will. And even if I do get sick, I could get a mild case. After this, I was able to see the events have no meaning and my fear dissipated.
I’ve had moments in which I’m all alone and my place is quiet. I notice I have no one to cuddle up with and go through this with me. My occurrings: Poor me. This is terrible. My alternative interpretations: Being physically alone doesn’t mean I can’t connect to others. Being physically alone doesn’t mean I can’t use the time to reflect and grow. I then felt grateful and the pity party stopped.
The morning after shelter-in-place started, I felt worried. I would normally go to the gym but was stuck at home. I had the occurring that I would get out of shape and lose the results of having taken care of my fitness for decades. I then created these alternatives: I can do zoom exercise calls, I can watch exercise videos, I can exercise alone (although I don’t prefer that). After this, I realized how blessed I am that I have these options during this time. I felt grateful and have actually done something every day! I even take socially distant hikes with friends.
As you can see, this process is very helpful in centering yourself during times of difficulty. To gain the benefits, try these four steps with some small events that still have some charge on them.
Every time you stop for a few moments to notice there are other ways of viewing your situation, you may notice that your sense of freedom grows. You may start to feel lighter and your ability to dissolve meaning about bigger events grows. It’s like lifting little weights for your mind. The more you do it, the stronger you become.
But will I be focusing even more on the negative?
I can understand this concern. If a “bad” thing happens, thinking more about it can make us feel worse. However, what I’m suggesting is that the bad feeling doesn’t come from the event but from the way the mind interprets the event. Noticing this distinction frees you from those feelings and the event doesn’t seem so negative. In fact, you tend to have more room for positive feelings to flow naturally.
We can use little annoyances to build our mental strength.
We do that by dissolving the meanings our mind makes in the moment about these annoyances.
We can dissolve meaning with the four steps of the Lefkoe Occurring Process.
I can only imagine how Jim Thorpe felt when he discovered his shoes were stolen that summer in 1912 before he competed in the Olympics. He persevered through that difficulty to become heralded as the greatest athlete in the world that year. You and I may not have such lofty ambitions. But dissolving one annoyance is victory enough to be proud of. Then dissolve another and another. After some time, you’ll find that you have become an Olympian of personal growth.
How to dissolve negative feelings in seconds (and make it a compelling habit)
Life brings us all big and small storms that can keep us from experiencing total joy. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow be a bit more like the eye of the storm, unaffected by chaos around us?
Fortunately, my husband Morty created a way to do just that called the Lefkoe Occurring Course. In that course you learn how to dissolve unwanted emotions in seconds. Then you make dissolving emotions a habit. You see reality with much greater clarity. As a result, positive and uplifting emotions tend to occur naturally.
You can take part in the Lefkoe Occurring Course in July. However to do that, you first need to join the waiting list here: https://www.mortylefkoe.com/lfc/lfc-2-0-waiting-list/
While you wait you’ll get several goodies teaching you more about how to dissolve unwanted feelings. So please join today and use what you learn to help yourself and contribute to others.