Because everyone should dig their job

How to Stop Playing it so Safe

By Richard Bolles

How do we get the Safekeeping Self to alter its behavior? How do we get it to stop ruling the roost? Well, there are three rules that we have found, over the years, work rather well:

First rule: Put a lot of music in you life. The left brain is the seat of the Safekeeping Self, while the right brain is the seat of the Experimental Self. Music 'feeds' the right brain, activates it, calls it more into active participation throughout each day. Classical music seems to be particularly effective in doing this.

Second rule: Go to the The Land Of Information Gathering. Do lots of information gathering about the New World you are moving into, or contemplating moving into. The more information gathered, the less the new land will seem intimidating and unfamiliar. This means: in a divorce, talk to other people who have been through divorce; upon being fired, talk to other people who have successfully worked through the period afterward; in career-change, talk to people who have successfully moved into the field that is of interest; and so on. Information-gathering is not an optional exercise for job-hunters. It is crucial, if the Safekeeping Self is to stop panicking.

Third rule: Understand what the Safekeeping Self does, and how it behaves. The information below should help:

The Sound Of The Safekeeping Self

1. You know your Safekeeping Self is too much in control of your life, when: You find yourself talking much more than you usually do - - particularly about all the reasons why you shouldn't do this, when you are contemplating making a change in your life. Words, words, words are the way in which the Safekeeping Self manages to keep control and have dominion over the Experimental Self within you.

The remedy: practice silence and meditation. Put on music. Resolve to gather more information, and then to act.

2. You know your Safekeeping Self is too much in control of your life, when: You are using certain words, or phrases, that are the 'fingerprints 'of the Safekeeping Self. Words like:

"I can't, I shouldn't, I'm not sufficiently (fill in the blank: bright, talented, outgoing, etc.), Yes, but . . . , It feels wrong to just do what I want, I think I may lose more than I will gain, What would people think?, This isn't realistic, I've never done this before, What if I do this wrong?, But I've always done it this way, This will never work, This is just a waste of time, Oh, I've tried this before, Convince me, This is too hard, See I knew it wouldn't work (after only one try), My present job's not so bad after all"

Remedy: make a list of the opposite of these phrases, and place that list of affirmations on the mirror in your bathroom, and on your refrigerator. Memorize them. Repeat them often, to yourself. Use them as meditations in your silences.

3. You know your Safekeeping Self is too much in control of your life, when: You are feeling very confused about each step along the way toward change, the matter how carefully and well these steps are explained to you. Confusion is, of course, normal when the road ahead has a fork in it. But confusion normally starts to dissipate after a time. If your confusion not only persists, but - - if anything - - grows stronger, you're almost certainly hearing the sound of the Safekeeping Self. Confusion is one of its favorite weapons, much like the octopus who throws out a cloud of ink when under attack, to confuse its enemies.

Remedy: focus on what you do know, rather than on what you don't know; focus on what you are sure of, rather than upon what you aren't sure of. It is easier to deal with uncertain ground, when your feet are firmly planted on certain ground. If you are a person of faith, reaffirm for yourself the certainties about "underneath are the Everlasting Arms", etc. and ask God to lead you through all confusion.

4. You know your Safekeeping Self is too much in control of your life, when: You find yourself being even more obsessive than usual about your little daily rituals and routines. In group workshops, this is manifested by: always sitting in the same place, always talking to a few of the same people, etc. This is the sound of the Safekeeping Self: it likes to cling to the familiar routine, as a way of 'planting a flag  which says: I am a creature of habit, not one who goes off on flings into new adventures. In other words, this is the Safekeeping Self saying, "Hell, no, I won't go!"

Remedy: practice doing one 'altered behavior '(for you) each day. Practice taking one new risk a day, it even if it's a little one, like speaking to a neighbor you usually never speak to, or what ever.

5. You know your Safekeeping Self is too much in control of your life, when: You find yourself engaging in digressions and diversions. This is the old magician's trick of 'keep them busy watching the left hand, so they won't notice what's going on with the right hand'. Digressions are of various kinds. Leaving your job-hunting and career-changing activities until all your other tasks are done, is one digression. Feeling an inordinate need to sleep is another. Devoting more and more time to helping others, rather than giving yourself the time your job-hunting, career-changing exercises need, is another. Physical maladies, such as headaches, tiredness, colds, and the like, are yet another. Essentially, by means of procrastination, the Safekeeping Self is trying to cling to the status quo by getting you to 'put off until tomorrow, the things you could do today'. Except, it is praying tomorrow never comes. Know these tricks for what they are: the Safekeeping Self trying to play procrastinating magician, in order to preserve the status quo.

Remedy: get more physical exercise. That way, you are practicing defining yourself more and more as a person of immediate action, rather than as a person who meets a challenge by taking flight.

Biofeedback About Itself

Does the Safekeeping Self alter its behavior once you shine light upon its ways? Yes, it does, often to an incredible degree. Why should this be?

Well, it's like the biofeedback we are all familiar with, vis a vis heart rate, blood pressure lowering, and the like. The rule here: give the brain some information about ‘attendant signs' that occur when blood pressure is lowered, or heart rate is slowed, and then - - armed with this information - - the brain will be able to reproduce the same results by paying attention to ‘the attendant signs'.

So, here too, the brain profits as well from information about itself. Given this information about the ‘attendant signs' of the Safekeeping Self, the brain can subsequently regulate the Safekeeping Self when it goes into hyperactivity, and move quickly to restore the equilibrium and balance between the Safekeeping Self and the Experimental Self that is its natural state. The job-hunter or career-changer is freed from the immobility, and is able to get on with the life changes they desire.

(My thanks again to George Prince, of the Mind-Free Group, Inc., for first formulating this concept of the two selves; I have used it for years now. George has been most kind to me, in all of our conversations.)