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Pause Your Machinery: Thinking Mindfully about Acts

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Stop and take a moment to “pause your machinery.” The concepts and techniques I present throughout my latest book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, require mindfulness to learn and master, and this brief written exercise will give you the opportunity to rest, step outside the pattern of passive reading, and bring yourself into the present moment to reflect and see how the information I want to share with you can be integrated into your own life.


Keep your written answers, because they will be valuable for you to review and refer to later. You may want to buy a notebook or open a computer file so that you can keep all of your responses together in one place.

  • Think mindfully about your “acts”—the character roles you play in your interactions with others when you react on auto­matic pilot, especially in times of stress. Write a brief descrip­tion of each act.
  • It’s helpful to label each of your acts with a short phrase that gives you a quick handle on it. You might also include a satirical element in your labels for your acts to help distance you from them. For example, if one of your acts is to save people close to you whom you perceive as being in trouble, you might label your act “The Superhero” or “The Superheroine.” Or if one of your acts is to stay on the sidelines and feel sorry for yourself for doing so, you might label it “The Pitiful Wallflower.”
  • After labeling your act, describe it more fully, including the attitudes and traits that are part of it. For example, if your identity is that of a caregiver, and one of your acts is “The Good Doctor” or “The Good Nurse” or “The Human Band-Aid,” does your act include the attitude that you always have to take care of other people’s needs and feelings, even at the expense of your own? If so, does this mean that you believe you should always agree to other people’s requests even if you would really like not to?
  • Write down the false payoffs that you get from each act. Then write down what each of your acts costs you. Imagine life with­out the need to cover your true Self with an act.

An excerpt from my recent book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, now available at Amazon.

  • 9 Oct, 2014
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 19 Tags

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