This particular reason keeps the same problem or problems around far longer than you ever imagined they would be. It’s also what contributes to your feeling stressed, exhausted, frustrated, and why little to no lasting progress is made, no matter what you do.

Think of one issue you’ve been personally struggling with for a while, say, five years or longer. It might be money, weight, health, business or career, or something else (more about what the real issues may be in a moment).

Here are three approaches you might have chosen regarding your issue, maybe even all three over time, depending on your frustration levels. I ask you to suspend any judgment you might impose on yourself or others as you read them.

1. You sincerely want to improve this issue and have tried one or more (or many) systems, invested a lot of yourself into more information and numerous attempts, but the issue just isn’t shifting in your favor; or, any shifts you do make don’t last, much less expand into more of what you desire.
2. You make halfhearted efforts at improvements.
3. You make no effort beyond complaining to yourself and others.

Whichever approach listed here has been the one you’ve taken—or all three, the reason, which I’m about to share with you, contributes significantly to why the first approach doesn’t lead to desired results, as well as why you might choose the second or third approach. The reason has two parts.

Part 1

Let’s say you sincerely desire to improve your issue or situation, so you begin to focus on this, maybe make some headway, then find yourself pushed or slammed backwards… the old one-step-forward, two-steps-back pattern. What’s happening?

When some desired shift of an issue doesn’t happen despite our efforts, there are many considerations we could make that include alignment with right purpose, right location, right this, right that… all significant aspects that deserve genuine consideration. For our purposes here, I ask you to focus on any issue you know CAN be different, but none of your efforts lead to what you ultimately desire, or you find your ability to act on your behalf is hampered at the inner level, which of course hampers your outer-level actions and results.

Let’s use a specific example. Say you’ve recently (or for longer) been feeling and telling yourself that you’re a failure, in some measure. Question: Do your behaviors (thoughts, feelings, words, and actions) match the idea in your mind of what someone who is a failure thinks, feels, says, and does? Now, substitute “failure” with any word that best fits what your primary struggle currently is or continues to be and consider the question again, and keep it in mind as you continue to read.

If you’ve long perceived yourself as a failure (or whatever), your behaviors will support how a person who’s a failure “should” behave. Notice I didn’t use “would” behave, I deliberately used “should.” There is no rulebook for this, just best guesses and what you’ve been conditioned to believe. Your analytical left brain is programmable and has programs running about what failure should mean to you, how you should behave according to your program, and what should happen if you try to abandon the program that’s running.

If you decide to shift from “failure me” to “successful me,” and you begin to behave in ways that don’t match how you believe a person who’s a failure should behave (thoughts, feelings, words, actions), the part of your mind responsible for monitoring program settings, still set on “failure,” will attempt, and succeed, to get you to return to behaviors that support what you believe a person who’s a failure behaves like.

Part 2

You can see how that program creates a vicious vortex. This vortex spins even faster when you attempt to follow a path supported with a thought like “I’m not a failure.” This is because the word “not” is ignored (it’s the same for the word don’t). Go to your Internet browser and type in “Recipes Not Italian” or “Don’t give me Italian Recipes.” Which recipes will come up first and for quite a while? Italian, of course, because the computer ignores the word “not,” just as your brain ignores it, and just as the very literal quantum fulfillment field ignores it, too; and all three “computers” strive to fulfill the other words included in your request.

This means that when you attempt to shift from perceiving yourself as a failure by trying to perceive yourself as (not) a failure, this runs a double-negative through your brain. This is why nothing or little changes and why you feel stressed and exhausted. It’s like trying to run up a down escalator that adjusts its opposing speed when you do.

How many of these double-negatives are running in your life right now? If you want to identify them, just look at any area you’re struggling with, especially if you’ve been struggling with it, or them, for a while. However, I ask you to look at what really may be going on. If your answer is money, the underlying stressor cause may be an issue of self-worth, self-value, or self-identity. If it’s weight, the underlying stressor cause may be self-image or self-acceptance. If it’s taking action, the underlying stressor cause may be a deep fear of criticism which keeps your self-critic active. Find your word and ask what the underlying stressor cause may actually be.

Fortunately, your intuitive big-picture right side of the brain is trainable, rather than programmable, and can be retrained. Here’s a way to do this that also leads to a realistic resolution for your lingering issue. Using “failure you” as an example again, swap it with “successful you.” What do you believe, perceive, or imagine that you, as a successful individual—according to your ideal image of this, not that of anyone else—would think, feel, say (to yourself and to others), and do action-taking-wise? (Notice I didn’t ask what “successful you” would have, but who you would be.) Make a list for each category, such as: How Successful Me Knows to Think, etc. Instead of judging which items on your list you haven’t done or don’t do consistently, pick one or two a week and integrate them as a way of being successful you. These are actually strengths you already possess that just need to be built up and upon.

“The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things,” Thomas Troward said. Any person who achieves or accomplishes desired improvements, goals, or dreams says, thinks, feels, plans and takes action differently than someone who consistently doesn’t achieve desired results. Perhaps it’s time to consider what you’ve been putting into practice and start putting something positive into practice instead.

You may want to rush toward desired outcomes to ease painful emotions, especially if you’ve been struggling, but start by putting your attention on the inner practice described here, which will extend itself naturally into your life and create a strong foundation for desired results to be more effortless to accomplish.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer, Life Coach, Author, and provider of Love Who You Really Are, Go for What You Really Want—an 8-week life-changing online coaching course that lets the real you come out and play (you know you want to!), and publisher of State of Appreciation, a free weekly online newsletter that blends practical & spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization through articles, and free downloads, when you subscribe at