A Field Guide to Life – A New Way of Thinking

by Brad on October 9, 2012


A Path to a New Way of Thinking

Becoming a student of your inner world can be awkward and scary. Because we’re taught to rely almost exclusively on the external world, shifting awareness and attention to the internal is not easy to do. This journey into the territory of your greatest potential is also a journey into the unknown. The future is unknown, and so, too, may be your own deepest truth. As a discoverer exploring new lands, you’ll want a few tools as companions to help ensure safe passage. From the perspective of my own journey, three have been crucial:

  • A map. A primary reason for not living the life we’d love is that the map that’s been guiding our steps exists only in our heads. The journey would be far more meaningful, say nothing of more fun, if you had a map that actually matched the territory you’re exploring. That map is deeply personal, is discovered by looking inside, and is created by walking it.
  • Observation tools. The core of your journey is the process of discovering your thoughts and beliefs, then making them conscious so you can intentionally choose and live them. In order to see greater and greater truth, with more and more clarity, you’ll need observation practices that evoke your own authentic self, which today may simply be hidden from view. 
  • A reference system. Even with maps and practices, it’s natural to want to know how your exploration is going. Because you are stepping into the unknown, there’s no reference point for that knowing. Reference points always depend on the past; that’s one thing you don’t want to depend on now. Some serious travelers hire a guide for this purpose. As a coach, I am available to be your guide, should you choose. If you opt instead for a self-guided journey, you’ll need a way to listen to, then come to trust, the emerging truth of your own heart.

Armed with map, tools and a reference system, you begin a journey inside, to your own deepest truth. Every journey is different, for each of us is made of different lessons, life experiences and creative essence. Although results differ in detail, the path of exploration is common. As a framework for this path, I offer a “process flow” for how consciousness creates the results we experience today, and how you replace that process with one that is purposefully chosen, chosen to match the emerging “you” that you discover along the way. This is why I say you create the path by walking it, not by having it laid out ahead of time. 

The transformation here is, at one level, quite straightforward. When you live from your unconscious, or habituated, mind, your unconscious brings stories from the past into your ways of thinking, moment after moment. Unconscious beliefs lead to habitual seeing, which leads to habitual thinking, which leads to habitual speaking and acting, which create the habitual results experienced today. Today’s results are therefore shadows cast by old beliefs and assumptions. By not questioning them, you unconsciously “make them true” again every day.

When you become more aware of your thinking, by “studying” it, conscious thoughts replace unconscious ones. Now, as you notice your thoughts, those thoughts begin to change. You choose awareness, patience, acceptance and trust because you experience how they evoke the unique essence inside you. You begin to notice how they create better results. The bigger you see, the bigger possibility you experience. This is how you create the extraordinary, every day; it simply takes practice, practice knowing your thinking. 

Old ways of thinking won’t offer any hints that new ways of thinking exist, say nothing of have the potential to change your life. Buckminster Fuller said, “There’s nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” As you get to know that thinking, deeply and consciously, you begin to see opportunities for new choices. Here’s a way to look at each component of your consciousness, from a perspective of awareness and choice. For each, I suggest how the shift to conscious choice can have significant impact. 

Interpretation: The Structure of Believing.  In the past, unconsciously-held beliefs filter how you see and think, limiting possibility. Because it’s unconscious, you’re unaware of the limitation it imposes. Now, when you choose your beliefs consciously, in the present, you free yourself from your past. Here are three new beliefs, if you need a place to start: I trust myself in an uncertain world; no one can be a better “me” than me; my life represents pure possibility. Let go of the way it was, and step into the world that could be.

Context: The Structure of Seeing & Thinking. In the past, you lived inside the box of a small context, unable to see or think outside your (unconscious) belief system. Now, consciously chosen beliefs continually expand your openness to larger and larger truths, and life fills the space you’ve created. New questions: what possibility may lie just beyond the edge of my current perception? What context might I adopt so that my greatest potential would be inside it, rather than outside? How might I turn any issue into opportunity? 

Language: The Structure of Speaking. In the past, using language to describe, predict and compare has held you back. Now, language’s power to create, to invent, can bring forth a future you’d love. A “language of the future” creates that future. You don’t have to know how to create it, only that you will. The world’s great leaders knew this; it was key to their presence and their contribution. Forget “what’s wrong?” and start asking, “what’s possible?” The future hasn’t been invented yet; you create it through language. “I am …” 

Intention: The Structure of Behaving. Intention is a term for what you’re up to in the moment. In the past, you’ve used intention to unconsciously uphold old beliefs. Life has gone just the way you ‘intended.’ Now, with awareness, you consciously choose how you see, think and speak, and along with that, you choose an intention to be completely consistent with your own authentic truth. What you’re up to now is creating a future that evokes your potential, in each and every moment. It’s the ultimate in personal power and freedom.

As you inquire deeply into how you believe, see, think and speak, you’ll experience first-hand the remarkable powers inside you to:

  • choose your own thoughts, in each moment
  • choose the size and shape of your life context
  • choose your relationship to the world and to worldview
  • choose continuous connection with your authenticity and potential
  • live from personal truth and freedom, every day 

Looking at figures in history we hold in high regard, Einstein, Mother Teresa, Gandhi or Thoreau to name a few, we realize that what set them apart wasn’t luck, brilliance, money or time, but clarity of intention and awareness. All were so clear on what mattered that nothing could deter them from its fulfillment. And through the skill of conscious awareness, they chose to be that intention. Intention powers contribution; theirs stands above the crowd. 

Here’s a snapshot of how you can use conscious intention to create a future you love. Three ingredients, folded together through the practice of “becoming” each one, define the recipe for a remarkable future. (1) non-judgmental awareness of what’s going on right now; the present is the “seed” from which you grow tomorrow; (2) your innate creative genius (who you truly are; what matters most to you); your essence is “fuel” to help the “seed” germinate; (3) the information flow (feedback) inherent in the experience of life that tells you how things are going; feedback “guides” your next steps. That’s a very different approach than planning those next steps ahead of time, from a disconnected, far-away vantage point. These three ideas, cemented by a practice of being them, represent a huge shift of perspective for most people. Letting go of old beliefs is scary stuff, even if you never knew the beliefs were false. The courage to trust your own powers of awareness and creativity in each moment can have dramatic impact, both on how you experience today and on the quality and meaning of your future. What you once would have labeled “drama” is now far more easily and naturally labeled “possibility.” Same situation; different response. 

As you come to trust in your own heart and truth, you honor that truth by taking one step into it each day. Although each step is still a step into the unknown, two miraculous things happen. First, if each step is grounded in the truth of your heart, you are never more than one step away from “home,” which leaves you far better off than in your life before. Second, with each step, you listen to the natural feedback your experience offers, making “mid-course corrections” as you go. Your inner compass will always guide you. That’s probably more certainty than you’ll ever find in the external world; in addition, it offers you a sense of meaning and purpose in life that you’ve always longed for but has eluded you until now. No one will give back your power to think and act for yourself. You have to re-claim it. That requires courage, if only to stand separate from the herd. Your emerging trust in yourself creates the courage you need.


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