Behavior Modification

(2.vii) Witnessing Your Thoughts  to Expose Self-Sabotage

Behavior modification – sounds intimidating, but it’s not!

Once you understand how to effectively apply a simple technique - cognitive therapy (cognitive behavior therapy) - a whole new world opens up to you.


You will be stunned, discovering how your self-limiting beliefs and negative thoughts have been sabotaging your success.

I have learned and applied numerous self-help techniques for my own personal development, but cognitive therapy is one of the more successful methods to achieve permanent behavior modification.

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Cognitive therapy is in my opinion, the Western version of Eastern teachings on "mindfulness".

You cannot change if you do not know which subconscious beliefs are stopping you!

So far on this website, I have been priming you with information about:

  • Scientific human brain research.
  • How we can apply this research to personal development.
  • How we are programmed to fail by our primary care givers.
  • Thoughts are real, measurable things that influence our feelings, emotions, beliefs and ultimately our success.
  • Over 80% of the same self-defeating, negative thoughts run on auto pilot.

Now, I want to show you how simple it can be to take back control of your mind by observing the thoughts which continually stop your efforts to change.

Formula for Behavior Modification (change)

There are normally three factors present before someone even attempts behavior modification or makes the effort to change their life.

  1. First you encounter problems or become dissatisfied with your current life situation.
  2. Next is being able to see and believe you are capable of making a change - visualizing something better.
  3. Lastly, you need to take action!
Most humans tend to resist change. Only when the synergy of the above three factors becomes greater than the resistance, will behavior modification and positive change become possible.

Becoming Dissatisfied:

Under normal circumstances, most people refuse to change unless their current situation becomes intolerable - unfortunate, but true.

I remember the exact moment in 1977 when I realized my attitude was terrible and I needed to change if there was ever going to be any possibility of enjoying life.

That year (1977) I had recently been reading “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

I was driving to work as a new car salesman, when I was cut off by another driver.

The rage swelled in me as I pulled beside the other driver, made inappropriate finger gestures and screamed expletives at him for being an idiot.

At the car dealership there was a rotation system in place to determine which salesman could approach the next "up" or customer who walked in. I was in rotation to approach the next "up".

As you can probably guess, in walks the "gentleman" who cut me off. I knew immediately there was absolutely no way I would be able to sell him anything and passed the customer on to the next salesman.

To my chagrin, the "gentleman" bought himself a beautiful luxury car. I had not only lost my temper earlier, but I also lost the sale and the commission.

Like a rush of energy, the words from Dale Carnegie’s book flooded my mind. I knew my actions were foolish and I needed to begin a behavior modification program immediately.

This started my almost 30 years of self-improvement. I decided that day my choice was to be calm and happy.

Unfortunately for me, it took almost 25 years before I discovered cognitive therapy (mindfulness or witnessing your thoughts) as an effective technique for behavior modification and permanent change.

What will it take for you to realize change is vital to your success?

Resistance to Change:

When it comes to any behavior modification efforts for personal growth, there are only two schools of thought:

  1. Those who despise change and ultimately become the "victims".
  2. Those who embrace change as a way of life and choose to lead rather than follow.
I look at change this way: If I am not changing, I am not growing. If I am not growing, I am falling behind everyone else.

When you are merrily going through life and everything appears great, behavior modification or change is the last thing on your mind.

Suddenly, when you are faced with a situation such as the birth of new family member, loss of income, a cheating spouse or perhaps a business partner stealing from you, something must change!

Usually, when anything negative happens in your life, it is much easier to blame others (parents, spouse, employer, etc.) for your problems.

Few of us realize we could easily apply some form of behavior modification technique to change ourselves.

Unless you accept responsibility for your self and where you are today, you will never change.

Many successful entrepreneurs understand human nature is to keep doing whatever feels comfortable and safe – which is to resist change.

For example, this is the basis upon which most, if not all restaurant chains have been built. Each location has:

  • The same or very similar decor.
  • The staff in each location wears the same uniform.
  • The menu is identical in each location.
  • The food is prepared in a consistent manner.
These franchises have effectively taken the risk out of going to a restaurant and ordering food only to find out it is not prepared the way you wanted.

You may or may not consider the food at these restaurants superior in taste or quality, but it is exactly what you ordered. Consistency without change!

Remember, in Step One I explained how the “amygdala” in the brain wants to keep you exactly where you are. The human brain is programmed to resist change.

Cognitive Therapy:

Cognitive therapy or cognitive behavior therapy is considered to be a kind of psychotherapy used to effectively treat mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, phobias or fears and so on.

It is the most effective technique I have ever personally used for my own behavior modification.

As I have been explaining throughout this website, emotions are the product of your thinking.

Cognitive therapy simply means becoming aware of your destructive or negative patterns of thinking and replacing or changing these with more positive or supportive thoughts.

Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the premises that how we think, feel and act all interacts together.

Our thoughts determine our feelings and our actions. Negative thoughts cause self-sabotage and self-limiting beliefs.

I previously explained in another section how a negative thought repeated over and over forms new neurode patterns and new beliefs.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it (sorry I couldn’t resist) would then be to discover what thoughts and beliefs are dominating your mind and stopping any behavior modification efforts.

Action Plan:

First off, I want to congratulate you for getting this far. Your inner demons have been working outside your conscious awareness, fighting to stop any behavior modification efforts.

Fortunately, you had the foresight to persist and stuck with me to this point – good for you.

Secondly, it is one thing for me to explain how your thoughts and beliefs undermine your success. It is a real awakening when you experience this for yourself.

Here is what I would like you to do:

  1. Go out and buy yourself an inexpensive journal. Label it “My Current Beliefs”.
  2. In the front of this journal write the heading “Negative Thoughts and Beliefs”.
  3. In the back write the title “Positive or Supportive Thoughts and Beliefs”.
  4. Throughout your day, for at least one week, begin to catch your words, thoughts, beliefs and actions as they enter your conscious awareness and record them.
By nature, most of us are not accustomed to “watching” our thoughts.

At first, you will probably experience a little difficulty discovering the automatic, random thoughts that occur normally outside your conscious awareness; but hang in there and remain persistent.

Keep your belief journal visible as a constant reminder you are becoming a witness to your inner mental game.

Some people change easily, but most of us are not accustomed to change or using behavior modification as an effective technique for personal growth.

Every thought and feeling you have is based on some belief stored in your subconscious. Becoming aware is the first step to understanding why you are stuck.

Here are some examples of thoughts or words you might encounter to give you an idea:

  • I can’t afford to...
  • I never seem to be able to...
  • I am not smart enough to...
  • I don’t like...
  • I’m always...
  • I wish I had...
  • I don’t believe...
  • How stupid of me to...
  • That’s just like a man (woman) to...
  • I never seem to be able to...
IMPORTANT: The whole purpose of this exercise is to become aware – not to judge or change anything at this point. Simply say to your self when you discover a negative thought “Oh, this is interesting”. Then let it go. Have fun with this!

Cognitive therapy is absolutely, positively the most profound technique you will ever apply to discover your old programming, self-limiting beliefs and self-sabotage.

Through observing your thoughts and exposing them, behavior modification, change and personal growth then become easily attainable.

Once you have taken the time to record your self-limiting beliefs for a minimum of seven days, move on to the next step in this tutorial where I will explain how you can easily eliminate any negative attachment to these beliefs.

NOTE: Many are fearful of writing out their thoughts, feelings and beliefs - especially when they are about other people. If this is an issue for you, I recommend you set up a computer journal that is password protected.

The Universal Law of Action:

No matter what we feel or know, no matter what our potential is, only action brings it to life. We only create knowingness when we act and doing becomes understanding.

To state this Universal Law another way, you cannot merely read this information and expect it will automatically affect behavior modification or personal change.

Are you ready to move on to Step Three? Have you taken the time to purchase a journal and do some of your own cognitive therapy; recording your thoughts and beliefs for at least one week?

If not, please don’t click the link. You are only fooling yourself. Remember – The Law of Action – you need to take action to get results.

If yes, good for you! Now, probably for the first time, you have a glimpse of why you are stuck and are ready to do something about it.

In Step Three I you will learn very effective techniques I use to eliminate emotional attachment to self-limiting beliefs and thoughts.

Leave Behavior Modification and go to Step 3 Intro. "Change Management"