One of the many fun points we covered in the “untangling your financial patterns” workshop last month was how to be open to learning how you operate without defaulting to blame, criticism and self-recrimination.

Here is the thing. It often happens that you begin a process of self-work or self-learning (whether this is therapy, journaling, using affirmations or just practicing mindfulness) and it doesn’t work.

In some cases you just tune out. You have the best intentions to use a certain technique or to meditate before bed and you just don’t. In other cases, you start the process and it works “too well”. What I mean by this is that, as you go deeper into the process, you start noticing things about how you interact with yourself and with the world around you. You don’t like some of these things. In fact, some of them are uncomfortable and even kind of off-putting. You think, “I’m like that?!” On some unconscious level you decide you would rather not know these things, and you start sabotaging the process.

When mindfulness triggers fear, resentment or annoyance, you’ll always opt out. And if you aren’t in a regular habit of noticing and learning about your patterns, you can’t choose new ones.

The good news is that there is a way to approach the self-work process from a conscious place where you adopt an attitude that can make the process work for you.

Today’s technique is all about how to cultivate the attitude that can help you to stay engaged in the process and keep learning. Because the more you learn about who you are with yourself and how you “work”, the easier it is to take this useful information and use it to rewrite your patterns and change the way you do things. Enjoy!

Technique of the month: Being Philip Marlowe

Did you know . . .?

1. Every moment — every single moment, no matter how mundane or seemingly devoid of meaning — is an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself and how you interact with yourself and/or the world around you.

2. If you are resisting being in the process, you aren’t going to enjoy being present and you aren’t going to learn from being present.

This means that you need some sort of conscious approach to help you be– and stay — in the process so that you can reap the benefits. One of the best roles to adopt is that of the detective.

Think of the hard-boiled gumshoe who is always on the case. Think Philip Marlowe on the path of self-discovery. The detective is intrigued by the story, driven by the mystery, eager for clues. And even when he’s off-duty, he’s on-duty.

The case doesn’t cease to exist when the work day is over. When he is sitting at the bar nursing his pint of low-fat milk, he still has his eyes peeled and his ears pricked. And he finds stuff. Clues fall into his lap.

When you are a detective everything is interesting because everything is potentially of value.

Noticing and observing, analyzing and double-checking, allowing everything to be potentially significant; all of these abilities help the detective figure out how people tick, why they work the way they do and what it all means in relation to the patterns that he (or she) is trying to resolve.

The reason that this attitude is so important is that it creates focus and perspective. It demands mindfulness. If you have just observed that you bite your nails when you are anxious, you might forget to be in the process and instead go straight to berating yourself for being such a loser. The detective, on the other hand, says: “Aha! A clue. How very interesting. I will keep watch to determine what more I can find out! “.

Start noticing. Instead of blaming yourself for not noticing, noticing that you’re blaming yourself for not noticing. Clues are everywhere. Start collecting.

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