Daily Archives: September 28, 2010

S.T.A.R. A Tool to Choose Healthy Alternatives

Avoid Old Patterns

STAR = STOP, THINK, ASSESS, REDIRECT

This is a tool I have found useful through my process of learning and personal growth.  Whenever I feel I may be crossing over into one of my old patterns of behavior I use this simple process:

  • Stop Stop  the unhealthy behavior or process may be; take a few deep breaths
  • Think Think about what is going on
  • Assess Assess the situation and its alternatives
  • Redirect Redirect your actions or behavior to the HEALTHIEST alternative

That’s the “STAR” technique received from a very good therapist more than ten years ago. She added this “tool” to my “tool belt” because I needed something to slow me down a bit. Slow me down when feeling like I’m beginning to react. I can be a very sarcastic person and have emotionally wounded many. The “STAR” technique helps me to be healthier in my interactions with others. This technique helps when I’m facing, or considering anything that may be unhealthy for me, or any behavior that I’m trying to correct.

At the time I first learned this technique, I had some tools available to me. They were added to my tool belt year’s earlier, maybe even during childhood. They worked well for me as a child, but as I grew into adulthood, I found that many of my old tools weren’t working anymore. They weren’t in the adult world. I loved my old tools and hung on to them. They were hard to give up! But to grow, I had to say goodbye to my outdated old standby’s, thanking them for protecting the little boy – me, and for keeping me safe when I so desperately needed them. I had to make room for new tools that would help me along my path of personal growth.

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When Decisions are Made Out of Fear

Declare your independence of all fear based limits. — Alan Cohen

I have found fear to be one of my most worst and ineffective tools for making decisions.  By “tools”, I mean the emotional coping mechanisms our mind creates during our life time and from our own set of unique and personal experiences.  These tools may be useful during a certain time period in our life because they protect us.  As humans we change, and some of our tools must change as well.  As a child, fear may have been an important tool, because it kept us out of harm’s way from something.  For example, I have a friend who has a two-year old, and to keep the child away from certain things around the house tells the child, “It’s hot.”  So now, when the child wants to touch something, he asks, “Hot?”  My friend has been effective at keeping his child away from certain harmful elements, but obviously, as the child matures, this tool must change.  As adults, I find that our tools don’t change often enough.  Fear based tools are common for us to carry with us into adult hood.  Fear based tools may distort reality, giving one an unrealistic platform for certain functions, such as decision-making.

Fear is the absence of love. Fear is where our higher power (God or the Universe) is not. Making choices out of fear keeps us from looking at the true cause of our pain or anguish. Pain, misery, aggravation are just a few of our negative emotions.  Our mind, our Ego, tells us that something out there in our world is causing us fear. We then believe we must resolve an issue or problem to get rid of the fear.  This process tends to distort reality, blinding us from the true source of our fear, the Ego.  It is our Ego, our mind, causing the fear. Our mind hides this fact from us. If we knew the true cause of our fear, we might feel we were wrong and put ourselves to blame, which then creates guilt.

Our Ego shelters us in this same way from guilt with all of our emotions.  Anger, frustration, embarrassment and sadness are not ours to own responsibility for; it is the outside world to blame.  Something or someone “out there” is the cause of the emotion.  The problem with this tool used by the mind is that it leaves us feeling powerless.  It leaves us feeling unable to change our feelings.  Our power is surrendered to something outside of our own self and at the mercy of this “thing”.  Many of us have learned by now that we can’t change another person.  So we believe we cannot change “it” nor can we change our own emotions or feelings.  We believe that this “thing” in the outside world must change for us to feel better.  The same holds true for every one of our emotions. If the outside world or something or someone in it is the cause of our emotion, then we are not to blame.  Clearly, it is that “thing” “out there” that is responsible for our emotions. This way of thinking makes us feel we are not to blame and not at fault.  The only way to truly heal the problem is to heal the fear.

Through our awareness that it is our reaction to an event and those stories we have fabricated in our mind creating what we believe to be the truth, our power is restored. We have the power to create change and happiness.  We begin realistically and authentically to heal the fear.  No longer is there a dependency on the outside world for our own true joy.

Making choices or decisions out of fear are actions not from God or the Universe.  When an individual has even a remote feeling that a choice or decision is being made from a fear based emotion, I recommend one to stop and take time to do the necessary inventory of one’s own feelings.  Do not make a decision based on fear.  Some of my personal friends and acquaintances go so far as to even do the opposite that a fear based decision may suggest.  I recommend that if one becomes aware that a decision is being made with fear as a driving force, to stop. Breathe deeply in and out and go inside one’s inner Self for direction. I often suggest the use of a simple technique I refer to as “STAR”.  STAR is an acronym for:  Stop, Think, Assess and Redirect to a healthy alternative.  Even the simple exercise of breathing deeply in and out will help to release the fear.  Susan Jeffers, a life coach and spiritual guide suggests, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”