I often liken the SIRPA approach to helping people resolve persistent health problems with my own personal development journey.  As you will know if you have read my book, I resolved my own (numerous) recurring health problems many years ago now, after coming across the wonderful and pioneering work of Dr Sarno.  I quickly realised though that although some people do recover quickly from understanding the concept and maybe acknowledging unresolved emotions from past experiences, this was often just the start of the recovery journey for many people.

Boy, Child, Sad, Alone, SitIdentifying the causes of your self-induced stress

Our lives tend to be so hectic these days and we create so much self-induced stress on a daily basis from our reactions to what is happening in our lives caused by our personality traits, our learned behaviours and beliefs, resulting in all those ‘buttons’ that were primed in childhood which so often get ‘pressed’.  Focusing on these is often a necessary part of our personal development journey and often I find myself mentoring my clients to help guide, motivate and support them on their own personal development/recovery journey as they work on reducing the resistance caused by these.

Understanding what causes you self-induced stress and working on these can help prevent or resolve pain, but it can also help us learn to become more allowing, less reactive when our buttons are pressed and more able to acknowledge, process and ‘let go’ of emotions that are challenging us.

We are who we are because of our experiences in life and recently I had an urge to do something that had been formulating in the back of my mind for a day or two, which I realised could be a way to help us explore who we are and why we are who we are.   I decided to try it out myself and really drill down into what my own self-limiting beliefs are and what behaviours I have which cause me self-induced stress, plus just as importantly, why I learned them in the first place.

Exercise in 6 simple steps:

Colour Pencils, Color, Paint, DrawStep 1: Find some sheets of paper and on each sheet draw an outline of yourself, depicting yourself at different ages.   I drew myself aged 4, 11, 14 and 21 years old.  I chose these ages for specific reasons, but each person would choose their own, depending on their own experiences in life.  N.B. Lying on the floor and using different coloured pens or crayons can also help you let your childlike creativity out!

Step 2: On each sheet note down inside the outline how you are feeling and the understanding and beliefs you developed about your experiences at that time specifically, or prior to that.

Step 3: After you complete each period, make a list of all the self-limiting beliefs you have identified and which you know you have now, having a clearer understanding of why these developed. These could be about anything in your life that you know cause you stress and your buttons to be pressed, whether to do with your worthiness, finances, not being good/tidy/slim ‘enough’ etc.

Step 4: Then put pen to paper and just let yourself offload freely by writing about your findings and how you felt etc. I often gain useful insights through free-writing after undertaking an exercise like this.

Step 5: Following this incorporate into one sentence your main self-limiting beliefs and fears which you believe are holding me back in one way or another.

This might all sound negative up to this point, but this is about understanding that these are just beliefs and being able to identify why you have them means you will be more able to work on them. Being able to acknowledge how you feel/felt means you are connecting emotionally with them and therefore more able to realise they are just beliefs and they are often not supporting you now.

Step 6: The last step is coming up with one or two emotive sentences to switch this sentence around and reinforce more positive beliefs. Known as ‘switching statements’ these are statements you can use as an emotive and very personal positive affirmation.

The idea then is to repeat it to yourself often in the day, maybe even write it on your mirror for you to say while looking yourself in the eye! It can also be very helpful to use this when a ‘button’ has been pressed because you will more easily be able to relate the emotion you feel with not just what’s happening now, but why and then move immediately on to this learned switching statement.  It can also be helpful to use as soon as you realise you are beginning to chew over something because it can help prevent the self-induced stress you know this would ultimately cause. You could then go into a fun, maybe even silly and positive visualisation of a more resilient you, using positive self-talk and really feeling the wonderment of it. This will help to reinforce more supportive and healthy nerve pathways.

I found it to be a very helpful exercise to do and I hope you do too, so  why not give it a go and please do let me know below how you get on.