Keep a record of all the program-driven actions and beliefs you can identify on a daily basis. Also record anything you do that breaks the mold of your program.
Make sure you note the situations and people who seem to trigger your self-defeating patterns. Note how these habitual responses influence the decisions and choices you make.
We suggest you keep this log for at least a week. Doing this will help you identify your inner saboteur at work in many different aspects of your life. As you become more practiced, you will learn how to make choices that go against the program.
Make Choices That Counter the Program
The inner saboteur was put in place by a constant repetition of events, circumstances, and remarks during the first six years of life. It must be counteracted every time it shows up now.
You are now armed with enough information to begin to go against each instance of the program, to make small changes that open your life to different influences and exciting new possibilities. Slowly, you can build an environment calibrated to create exactly the new neural connections that you need. After prolonged lack of use, the old circuitry will be replaced by a new one.
Going against the program involves looking at each self-defeating choice your program wants you to make and making another one instead.
Peter, for example, realized that it wasn’t true that he couldn’t make friends; he never gave himself a chance by cutting himself off from the company of anyone he might enjoy. To counter this aspect of his program, he joined a book discussion group where he met a number of people who shared his passion for reading, including an attractive woman who edited a newsletter of book reviews. The second time the group met, he screwed up his courage and asked her out. To his great surprise, she accepted.
In another onslaught against his habitual isolation, Peter joined a group of colleagues for lunch. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that his workmates shared many of his interests, and he was invited to join them frequently.
Some aspects of his program did not give way so easily to Peter’s new resolution. He still resisted going to job interviews or even looking at the employment section of the newspaper. At Bob’s suggestion, Peter approached Jim, a new friend from the book discussion group who seemed sympathetic and easy to talk to, about his problem and asked for help. His friend agreed to ask Peter at least weekly what new job prospects he’d circled in the paper and how many calls he’d made to set up interviews. Once Peter started going to job interviews, Jim would debrief him, sometimes pointing out his self-defeating behaviors.
After a number of interviews, Peter did get a well-paying job as a systems analyst, even surviving a big layoff.
To begin to go against your program, consider the following questions: What decisions did your program make for you today that you could do differently tomorrow? What actions could you take this week that would begin to counter the program? What support would you need to change these behaviors, and who could you enlist to help? What would they need to do, and what information about your program would you need to share so they can assist you?
Congratulations. You have begun to take some very effective steps to arrest the inner saboteur. Throughout the rest of the book, we’ll show you how to build on this awareness and create a new environment that will in turn combat your depression and nourish the real you.
(extracted from) Creating Optimism: A Proven, 7-Step Program for Overcoming Depression, Based on the popular Uplift program, written by Bob Murray Ph. D., and Alicia Fortinberry, published by Mcgraw-Hill