If you’re playing Tetris like it’s Mario, you will never achieve a high score. Please excuse my dated reference because the point is important. They’re very different games and you need to understand the mechanics and rules of a game to play it well. Just like the computer programs determine a game’s mechanics, your mind is running a program which dictates your thoughts and actions. Our behavioral “loops” are the actual gameplay.
Your original programming is installed in childhood and you run it mostly unconsciously. Without awareness or understanding of these original programs, we end up running behavioral loops that may not serve us well. They could be inefficient or even problematic.
Only after we become aware of our original programming can you begin to remove negative programs and intentionally install new ones.
Most atypicals understand computers and are familiar with the common mechanics of video games. Here are some ways that our brains can use these concepts to begin reprogramming your mind with conscious intention. Think of them as tricks to adjust the difficulty setting.
This is not a video game mechanic, but have you ever rearranged a room, looked at it, and thought “undo” as you blink in frustration? Yeah, the copy/paste and undo/redo functions are so ubiquitous that my brain is programmed to expect them even in real life.
If that ever begins to work for you, then disregard this advice. Until, then: plan first. In the case above, I could have drawn out the floor plan at least. It always takes less time to do something once. It always yields better results when you have a clear understanding of the steps. It clarifies your intention and illuminates potential contingencies. You will always finish more quickly, efficiently, and confidently with a plan. That means write it down.
Progress bars and skill checks
Every game has objectives. Think of the game and each of its parts as objectives that must be completed. In your life, the main objective is self-actualization, but you achieve that objective by completing many smaller goals along the way.
Each objective, big or small, displays a progress bar. The progress bar fills by completing “skill checks,” which require your player input. Keep working on the objectives and hitting your skill checks. Each task throughout your day simply requires a specific amount of time and some number of skill checks. It’s possible to finish any task with calm and focus when you know that the challenge will not last forever. Just spend the time and hit your skill checks.
If an enemy or obstacle tries to prevent me from completing the objectives, you can deal with that.
Anticipate that the same challenges will appear over and over again. Skill checks and other obstacles will always be present, especially when you’ve seen them before. Learn from past experience by reflecting on it.
In addition, the “enemies” respawn instantly. Your enemies are your symptoms. They chase you around familiar negative loops. Recognize the symptoms and situations that lead to negative loops for you. For instance, being distracted by many things often causes us to be inattentive to our work or relationships.
Atypicals walk confidently into the same pitfalls again and again. At first, we believe the situation is different every time, but–upon closer inspection–it is the same enemies every time with only cosmetic differences. Recognizing this helps us identify the similarities that could warn us of the negative loop approaching.
Atypicals can seem incapable of learning from consequences and avoiding negative loops. It seems like our internal alarm isn’t functioning. Often this is because we are distracted and habitually overlook warning signs. Identify these patterns and set up external structure to compensate for the unreliable internal alarm mechanism that has been letting you down.
For example, I often I become engrossed in my own projects and neglect spending time with friends. I get distracted by everything in my immediate vicinity and forget to make the effort to maintain relationships by talking or organizing a hang out.
Now I set time every week to catch up with friends and family. Even just a quick call can start planning to catch up or hang out. Just make sure to check your calendar before you make a firm commitment 🙂
I hope these tips help you understand your programming and running more beneficial behavioral loops. I’ll definitely be writing more about this topic soon. Let me know what you think in the comments. For more treatment tactics, check us out on Youtube and consider purchasing one of our self-coaching products.