Begin the Ascent

Session 3 - Cause and Effect

Welcome to part three. Your backpack now holds two important quantities – Your Values, which will sustain you, and the three Dynamic Energies (Emotions, Thoughts and Actions) of Alignment, the “Swiss Army Knife” of personal power.

As emphasized in the second session, this alignment tool functions best when the three energies are consciously and conscientiously united. You don’t have to look far to observe that most people’s lives are full of struggle and suffering. As human beings we’re so susceptible to difficulties and challenges that we’ve come to believe problems are inevitable.

They are not.

We ended the second session with this statement: Emotions, Thoughts and Actions either work together and produce positive results, or they get in each other’s way and produce conflict. Here’s why.

A strong alignment of this dynamic triad is like packing the right clothing for an ascent up a mountain. Imagine emotions as your base layer, thoughts as your mid- and outer layers, and actions as your stormy weather layer. When all these layers work together, you are prepared for any condition you might meet. If you forget any layer, or if you you put them on in the wrong order, or if one of them is insufficient, you put both your comfort and safety at risk.

Positive emotions (like appropriate gear) will ease your way and make each step more pleasant. Negative emotions (like the wrong gear) will, at best, make the way harder, or at worst, expose you to danger.

When you are prepared for any eventuality, you’ll be confident you possess the ability to climb to a higher vantage point.

Audio of this Session

by (sample only - full text coming soon)

Fillable Worksheet – Cause and Effect

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As an example of how this works in real life, we’ll look at Aaron’s story.

Aaron builds software, and he’s been working on a pet project for several years. His project is a powerful but complicated website, and figuring out how to engage users has been very challenging for him. Recently, he discovered an AI program that could help him produce some necessary tutorials. About two-thirds of the way through this endeavor, he turned on his computer and discovered the first two minutes of his latest tutorial had been replaced by a stranger explaining something in French. A quick examination showed that every one of his tutorials had been changed in this way – all 35 of them.

When he related this disaster to me, my heart started beating faster in sympathetic panic. He said his first reaction was curiosity. Having experienced a loss of important data from my computer before, I could imagine the horror of having to recreate it all from scratch. He merely started asking questions and probing for answers.

When struggling with technology, it seems I never have the right gear. It’s as if I pack for a sunny day and get caught in the rain. In other words, by getting frustrated and panicked, my emotions pull me out of my power.

Aaron is knowledgeable and experienced, and he stayed in his. It turned out the glitch was in the AI system itself and would be fixed within a day, so while waiting for the solution he turned calmly to other tasks.

You can probably imagine what Aaron’s thoughts would have been if he’d as been reactive to this near disaster as I was. He might have gotten caught up in some wintry storm of guilt or blame: “What did I do wrong?” “Where did I make a mistake?” “How could I be so inept?” “Boy, was I stupid to put so much energy into something so unstable.”

Instead he was curious.

Perhaps you’ve gone into such thought spirals yourself, and you know how immobilizing they can be. Perhaps you recognize the pattern. You react to an emotion that robs you of power and your thoughts immediately get tangled in a web that distracts and/or consumes you. If you’ve been caught in that kind of wintry storm, you know how it makes your actions ineffectual. You complain, you delay, you struggle, you whine, you distract yourself. It’s as if you just switched off your personal power. To mix metaphors, it’s like turning off the lights and leaving yourself engulfed in darkness.

So here’s the cause and effect: Debilitating emotion triggers immobilizing thoughts and results in defeat. (At least, I have often been defeated by a software mishap.)

Aaron, on the other hand, chose an expansive emotion which allowed for exploratory thoughts, and resulted in both an easy solution and the possibility of staying productive. He kept his lights on.

To turn your lights back on, start paying attention to your emotional reactions. They are always the first “cause” to look for. Then notice how your thoughts took off as a result of the emotion. Take note of how you responded – your actions or reactions – and follow the progression through to your ultimate result – your “effect.”

The fillable worksheet linked below, Cause and Effect, will guide you through this process. It suggests you name an emotion that frequently arises within you. Then recall the thought or thoughts that show up in response. These two energies often occur in such close proximity they appear simultaneous. Don’t bother trying to determine the order in which they appear, just identify them both. Then fill in the third space with the action you typically take in response to the energies of emotion and thought.

And lastly, consider the final result. What is the outcome you end up with?

The worksheet is just a guide to help you become more conscious of your personal power and of the dynamic energies of power that are always active within you.

Fillable Worksheet – Cause and Effect

If filling out a worksheet doesn’t appeal to you, you can start getting new results by returning to the 4-step mindfulness exercise from the Alignment session:

1. Stop whatever you’re doing at the moment. Stop walking, stop talking. Just hold still.

2. Pay attention to your breathing. Inhale deeply. Notice whether your intake of air stays shallow or goes deep. Now exhale as slowly as you can. Repeat two or three times.

3. Slowly swivel your head, looking first over one shoulder, then over the other.

4. Straighten your posture and open your hands as wide as you can, stretching out your fingers.

Now add one additional step to this practice:

5. Name the storm of your thoughts. Identify both what you’re feeling and the reason you’re feeling it. For example, say “I’m distressed because my housemate keeps blaming me for stuff I didn’t do.” Or “I’m afraid about the path this country is taking.” That’s all. Just name the cause and effect. (Or in these examples, the effect and the cause.)

This concludes our session on Cause and Effect. I hope you’ve found it both informative and inspirational, and that you choose to complete the series with session #4. If you find these sessions helpful, please recommend them to your friends. 

Look at the world with wonder and at yourself with warmth.

Previous Session – Alignment

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Session 4 – Mindfulness

If you are not already enrolled in a Path of Mastery workshop, I encourage you to do so now. These 10-week workshops combine the study of my book Being the Creator and group coaching. I invite you to explore and participate in the wealth of other free programs offered on this website.