Noted psychologist Abraham Maslow, the man who created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs said, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.”
Enlarging on that, self-improvement is a tool belt filled with tips and techniques, each effective for a specific situation. A pipe wrench isn’t designed for carpentry.
Similarly, choosing to build a better life with one ‘mental tool’ is cognitive bias––deviating from rationality. Have more tools in your tool belt, more available options for addressing difficult situations.
Let’s talk about my tool belt, Terry’s Tool Belt, if you will. Not all that creative, but proof of ownership. These are my tools.
AFFIRMATION. An affirmation is a positive, inspiring thought that I actively recite to myself and until it “sticks.” Find an affirmation that works for you and put it in your tool-belt. I think about the adage “by the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s too damn hard,” because it helps me avoid being overwhelmed by a large task.
MEDITATION. Focus awareness on a single object; train your mind to avoid distraction.
REFRAMING. This is a favorite. Whenever you realize your attitude is negative or destructive reframe your perspective.
Look at the situation from a more positive and constructive viewpoint. Spot at a flat tire and be grateful it’s only one tire not three. Oops, that’s over-framing.
VISUALIZATION. Mentally rehearse a new behavior inside your mind so you are prepared to use that behavior in the real world when confronted by a particular situation. Slow down when approaching an intersection––never gun it and get caught by photo-radar as the light changes.
NUDGES.Set alerts on your phone to remind you to do a chore, remember a birthday or return a call. Nudges preempt nagging spouses from swinging into action.
LISTS. Use lists to refresh your mind, to remember and be grateful for all the good things in your life. Lists can also help you measure how far you have come or what you need to do going forward.
Create your own tool belt; name it if you like. Make sure it has tools for both offense and defense. Fill as many pockets as necessary. Leave room for new tools when needed.
No matter the situation, you’ll have it nailed.