In Part 1 I introduced leading expert in neuroplasticity, Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, and the first step in his 4-Step Solution designed to help Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients. In this 2-part series we’re using the 4-Step method to overcome procrastination.
A refresher: Step 1 is Relabeling – identify unhealthy thoughts and label them for what they are: unhealthy thoughts.
Step 2: Reframe, or “reattribute” as it is sometimes called for OCD patients. “OCD [patients] get very intrusive feelings and thoughts that they know don’t make sense. The ‘reattribute’ step is ‘see it for what it is.’” And what is it? “It’s not you, it’s your brain.” Jeffrey’s voice amped at this point in our phone conversation, “This is where the whole concept came from; realizing that there’s brain wiring that accounts for why [OCD patients] get the intrusive upsets that don’t make sense.”
For those of us that are not OCD, we may not have a ‘diagnosable pathology’ as to why we procrastinate but we can still reframe and ‘change our perception of the importance of our unhealthy thoughts.’ We can stop our self-bullying and separate ourselves from the thoughts that are holding us back by saying “It’s not me, it’s my brain.”
“Mindfulness practice [is] intentional control that leads directly to the next step which is ‘Refocus.’ Now you focus your attention on something adaptive,” says Jeffrey.
For me, this meant changing my thought from: if I write the end of my book I’ll mess it up to if I mess it up I can fix it, but I must write it to have it. Refocusing is shifting your attention to something positive, healthy and beneficial to you.
The first three steps correlate. “You ‘Relabel,’ you ‘Reframe’ and then you ‘Refocus,’” says Jeffrey. “When you do that regularly, [the fourth step], Revaluing, happens.” Revaluing is a conditioned understanding that your unhealthy brain messages are not helping your goals and have little to no value to you in life. “Revaluing means you are now able to change your [attention] to something adaptive more automatically.”
Reminds me of that old adage, Practice makes perfect.
How about it? What unhealthy thoughts are holding you back? What healthy thoughts can you replace them with?
Thank you to Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz for contributing his time and expertise. Learn more about his book You are Not Your Brain and about Jeffrey himself.
Photo: courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz