THE THINKING PATH - PAGE EIGHT
Writing, also known as journaling, involves writing about the thought habit. The client can use the Thinking Path framework to write about the thought habit including where it comes from, what it means, what it feels like to use it, and what behaviors and results emerge when it is used. Much has been written on the benefits of journaling as a meditative and reflective practice including enhancing self-awareness and self-understanding, discovering meaning in specific events, making connections between different ideas and events, gaining perspective and clarity, and developing critical thinking skills. From the perspective of neuroscience, the act of writing activates a broader neural landscape and causes a multitude of neural pathways to form and fire around the new thought habit. Writing also translates the thought habit into a motor skill by activating a sequence of neurons which ultimately fire motor neurons that activate our skeleton, glands and muscles. This not only strengthens the original thought habit but encodes the sequence within the broader landscape of the body.
With this in mind, a coach might suggest that as part of a client’s Thinking Path Plan, the client could take a moment each week to journal about a particular thought habit using the Thinking Path framework as described above. In the case of the executive in the example, another part of his Thinking Path Plan could be to take half an hour every week to journal about the thought habit. The subject of the journaling could be specific to one aspect of living healthy lifestyles or it could be general. As you can imagine, if journaling is added to daily affirmations, educational activities, and occasional visualizations, the probability that the thought habit would be encoded and sustained is even greater.
One challenge to be aware of is that some clients do not enjoy writing, and many shy away from the practice of journaling. It is important to allow clients to find their own approach and rhythm, including the frequency and duration of their journaling periods. It is also important to accept that some clients will simply not do it.
Conversations with others about a specific thought habit can generate a remarkable amount of learning quickly. From the perspective of neuroscience, conversations, like writing, activate a broader neural landscape and cause a multitude of neural pathways to form and fire around the new thought habit. Conversations also translate the thought habit into a series of motor skills by activating several sequences of neurons which also ultimately fire motor neurons. This also encodes the sequence within the broader landscape of the body and strengthens the original thought habit. We often remember great conversations and their content. And if the client is willing to remain curious and open and to use inquiry and actively listen, he/she can only enhance the number of new neural connections that can be made relative to the thought habit.
With this in mind, a coach might suggest that as part of a client’s Thinking Path Plan, the client could select certain people in both the personal and professional spheres to have conversations with. These conversations could be about the thought habit itself or about applications of the thought habit in everyday life. In the case of the executive in the example, another part of his Thinking Path Plan could be to have specific conversations about his desire to live a healthy lifestyle with his wife, several friends, his doctor, and one or more of the experts he listened to in his education activities. He could also have conversations or even work sessions with his boss and his team about what it would take to engage in a healthy lifestyle at work. Conversations are an excellent way to transform affirmations, educational activities, visualizations, and journaling into an interactive experience. They can be powerful in their ability to sustain change.
One challenge to be aware of is that some clients are more reserved, may lack conversational skills, may be uneasy having these types of conversations, or may have issues speaking with certain people.
It is important to gain a clear understanding of any reservations a client may have and to strategize accordingly. There are many different ways to have conversations and many different types of people with whom to have conversations.