Have you ever had a situation where the result you want to achieve motivates you, all the steps are planned out, but something inside stops you from taking action, and it’s completely unclear what?
For example, you have a clear plan on how to make money. There are forces, and the money is really needed, but you can not bring yourself to start… Or so: some business you are fond of, and then suddenly began to depress. For example, an excellent salesman suddenly fell out of love with sales, an inspired teacher became irritated with giving lessons, and a good student – with studying…
If you want to know why this happens, and most importantly, what to do about it – this article is for you.
Why do we fall into a stupor?
Often the cause of what happens to us lies in hidden associations and inner emotional charge. Here’s what scientific works tell us about the structure of our thinking:
Our brain is designed in such a way that when we need to remember something, it is encoded by a set of visual images, information from the senses, and related emotions and sensations in the body – that is, what we already have in our long-term memory. All these “memory pieces” are also, in turn, encoded by a similar set, so that activation of one of the memories activates whole chains. This is how associations and chains of associations work.
Add to this the knowledge that we remember best what is colored emotionally. Whether it is positive or negative is not as important to the brain as the emotion itself. This mechanism has been developed by evolution for millions of years: if something frightens or pleases, it means that it is important and we should react to it, while we don’t have to worry about neutral things and don’t waste resources on them.
In order to discover the causes of the internal stupor and to be able to overcome it independently, I suggest that you identify the underlying associations to a necessary concept or situation and see what emotional charge they carry.
Exercise “16 Associations”
This is an exercise that helps you do it quickly, gently and cunningly. After all, our brains love to build psychological defenses to keep us from truly unpleasant and painful things to the psyche. It’s an exercise based on Jung’s method of free association. Plus I supplemented it with chips and clues I found in my research.
In the narrow sense, this exercise is aimed at finding a deep association to a single word, concept, or image that is important to you. In a broader sense (I like to do it that way), it is a way to rewrite the “mental code,” to reprogram my own thinking.
With the help of “16 Associations” you can:
- build a map of your associative relationships;
- catch destructive associations, like computer viruses;
- see the root of the problem;
- to increase awareness;
- gain insight.
You will need a sheet of paper, a pen, and about half an hour of free time in silence. Place the sheet horizontally and write down numbers from one to sixteen in columns on the left. This will help you focus and not get confused while doing the exercise.
Create a query – describe in words or phrases a problem or task that worries you, and whose solution will improve the quality of your life in the short term. Formulate it in one word or short phrase.
For example, you can’t sit down to write your diploma – then use the word “diploma. Your current job began to cause a negative? Take the word “work.”
To get a deeper result, straighten your back, take a couple of deep breaths and exhales, and shift your attention inward to your lower abdomen. Trust me, it works.
First question for self coaching:
What worries me the most right now?
Write down at the top of the sheet the word you used to describe your problem/challenge.
Breathe in and out and look at the written word.
Think of the concept as something that relates to you personally and as an abstract concept. Now write down the 16 associations to that word that come to your mind. Let yourself go, write down all the words. Don’t throw the word away, even if it doesn’t seem appropriate to you-if it came to your mind, then it’s your association.
Now connect the words in pairs, as in the picture: the first with the second, the third with the fourth, and so on.
Now the real work begins. There are two rules, and the first is honesty. The more honest and sincere you are with yourself, the more powerful the effect will be.
The second rule is: words must not be repeated. If a word occurs two or more times during the exercise, write it down separately at the bottom of the page. Then I will tell you what to do with it.
When the words are combined, start working with each pair separately, without linking to the main word (the one that denotes your query).
For each pair of words, find a common association-the word that unites the two for you personally. Remember about inner honesty? Look for that common association that is yours. Listen to yourself and your body.
Does the word you find resonate with you? Is it that one, or can it be more precisely formulated? Use nouns, verbs, and adverbs.
How do you help yourself if a unifying association is not found?
- Visualize: Imagine each word of the pair as an image, mentally step back, and look at them from the outside. What do they have in common? Maybe they are (or are not) part of something bigger? Maybe each of these images has a common piece, a common part? What kind of image is it? What is one word to call it?
- Listen to the sensations in your body: straighten your back, relax your shoulders, shift your attention to your lower abdomen and legs. If you can’t visualize well, you can look for a unifying association through sensations. Feel what sensations in your body the first word of the pair evokes? Now, what sensations does the second word evoke? What do these sensations have in common? What do they associate with? Describe it in one word.
- Check for honesty: when you have found a unifying association for a pair of words, listen to yourself and your body sensations: is this the word? Or is there a more precise one just for you?
You have eight words. Combine them again with brackets in pairs and repeat the same thing as in step three. Remember that the words must not be repeated. If a word repeats, write it down at the bottom and look for another association. Look specifically for your words.
When you have four words, repeat the same thing. Pay attention to the body sensations and emotions that arise. Fix them, as an outside observer, and continue the work.
Now combine the resulting two words into one. That last word is your deepest association.
In all the pictures is my real request. I gave my own personal example.
Some time ago I caught myself that coming to my mailing list with announcements of interesting master classes and webinars began to spoil my mood. And I also could not bring myself to call the university to find out more about new programs…
I did my favorite “16 Associations” and got the underlying association – depression!
Oops, what an unexpected result! Yes, it made sense – studying began to make me depressed. That’s exactly how I felt.
Okay, so what to do about it? Let’s see.
How to work with results?
1. Separate the major from the minor
Remember that all these words are just associations. Depression really has nothing to do with learning.
2. Look at the final word and ask yourself: am I comfortable with this deep association or not?
If I associate study with depression, how does that affect me and my actions? The final word can also be positive, and then it can become a resource: the association and the image that gives you the strength and desire to act.
Looking at the results of the exercise, you can become aware of what affects your perception and subconscious attitude toward the situation. This alone tends to have a transformative effect.
3. Identify the negative and positive associations in each column
Let me remind you: there are five. The last one is one word. What does each of the columns mean?
- The first (16 words) are stereotypes and beliefs formed in the process of upbringing or under the influence of environment and environment;
- The second (8 words) is the mental level: subconscious thoughts;
- The third (4 words) is the emotion level. Pay special attention to the emotional coloring of each of these four words;
- The fourth level (2 words) and the final word make up what I call the “decision triangle”;
- The final word is the underlying association, and the pair of words from which it emerged may be strategies for solving a query or key issues to be solved, or carry information about choices to be made.
Look at which column has more negative associations? What caused them? Where do the negative associations stem from?
Where are there more positives? How can these positive associations help you with your request? Yes, yes, the coaching questions are on their way :).
4. Rewrite the “destructive code”
The more new associations we attach to a word that means request, the more the associative chain triggered by that word will change. The brighter the positive images are, the more pleasant they are for us (including bodily sensations such as goosebumps, tingling, a feeling of freedom in the shoulders, etc.), the stronger the “overwrite” effect will be.
You can simply cross out the negative words and replace them with positive ones.
The effect will be stronger if we find “turning points” on our map (the first negative words in the horizontal chain), replace them with positive ones, and draw new unifying associations all the way down to replacing the final word.
An even more powerful effect would be if, before looking for new unifying associations, you went into a resourceful state (for example, with meditation).
I like this method, and in the case of “study,” I used it. After “recharging” myself with meditation, I found a new unifying association to replace a negative one, and rechained the entire chain from it to the final word.
And the next day I was happy to participate in a webinar.
5. Look at the positive associations and ask yourself why they limit you
What I mean: for example, you were working with the query “money” and got the final word “achievements” and the feeling that, lo and behold, getting money is for you a recognition of achievements, and achievements are income-generating…
How else do you get money? Don’t you miss out on monetary gifts, finds, winnings, and other ways? For example, in my workshop I suggested that the participants write themselves a written permission to receive income in different ways, and before that we created some creative ideas about what those different ways might be.
This helps to expand consciousness and remove boundaries.
6. Fix positive associations
For example, with a bright collage or drawing. By the way, making a collage of the positive associations you find is guaranteed to add insights to your query topic.
Just do it!
Tip: Save the scribbled sheet, date it, and do “16 Associations” again with the same word-query three months later. That way you can keep track of what has changed.
What to do if the word appeared twice or more often during the exercise?
For example, you were working with the word “money,” and you had the word “power” repeated.
My experience and my research show that when a word is repeated, it means that the chain of associations it triggers has an impact on the perception of the main word (request). In the example above, the internal perception of power affects attitudes toward money.
Do the exercise again, but with this (repeated) query word, and see the results.
Modern scientists say that when we remember an event, we are activating the same neurons that were involved in remembering it. The more often we remember something, the stronger the neural connections and associative circuits.
It follows that when we change one link in the chain, we also change the whole chain. And when we do this consciously, we are literally reprogramming our own thinking and training our brains!
All of the participants in my research who have begun to use the “16 Associations” technique on their own and regularly have noted significant changes for the better in each of the areas they are working on.
When I asked my coaching clients, “What exercise or technique gave you your first powerful push forward?” they all named “16 Associations.”
Of course, doing this technique with a coach is more effective. If only because he or she will notice your reactions with an independent eye, pay attention to them, ask helpful questions, and help you get into a resourceful state to “rewrite. However, not everyone has the opportunity to go to a coach, so you can take advantage of the advice in this article.
Of course, in ordinary self coaching, when we ask questions of ourselves, it can be difficult to bypass internal psychological defenses. With “16 Associations,” this can be done in a gentle and environmentally friendly way for the psyche, even if the topic is painful. In addition, they set the focus on a specific request, a specific topic.
For me personally, “16 Associations” has become a reliable tool for self-development and self-exploration. Change your thinking, get insights, and take action!