The 80's was a decade of amazing movies. Growing up in the 80's, my older brother and I consumed many of these timeless classics.
One of these movies is a Sylvester Stallone movie called "Over the Top." (If you have actually seen this movie, reply to this email and you'll get 50 New Paths Points! I just made these points up, but still...) In the movie, Stallone's character, Lincoln Hawk, is a truck driver. On the side he competes in the long lost art form of professional arm wrestling. (Man, you gotta love the '80s.) Whenever Hawk approaches the arm wrestling table about to compete, he does the same ritual every time. He takes his cap and he turns it around backwards. Hawk explains in the movie that when he turns his hat around, it is like a switch. That switch transforms him from a normal, truck driving man into what he calls a "machine," ready to compete. He's going into a different mode. That switch is a good description of the first step of the P.A.T.H. Plan. The first step of the P.A.T.H. Plan, the "P," is simply to pause. Here are the four steps, as a reminder: P - Pause A - Acknowledge T - Timer H - High five! (If you haven't yet, go download a free one-page PDF of the entire P.A.T.H. Plan) In this first step, you are switching modes. You are changing from normal, simply-going-about-your-day mode, into plan implementation mode. What does this look like in action? Let's take a common example. Imagine you are alone. Maybe it's at night, or it could be first thing in the morning, but that familiar thought enters your mind: You think about pulling up your phone or computer and going to that website, or pulling up that image. This thought triggers the urge. The urge is the feeling that happens in your body that pushes and pulls you into the behavior of viewing porn. For you it may feel like butterflies in your stomach. Your heart rate may increase. Your breath might become quicker and more shallow. Your mind probably also starts running a mile a minute, going back and forth with whether or not you should. This generates even more of those intense feelings. This is the urge. And, this is the catalyst to initiate the first step of the P.A.T.H. Plan. When you feel that urge, it is your cue to "turn your hat backwards" and switch into plan implementation mode. The first step is very simple. It only takes a couple seconds. Whatever you are doing when that urge arises, you stop, you take a breath, and you pause. That's it. That's the first step. You are taking a brief second to notice what is happening, to realize that the urge has flooded you, and to make a mental switch. You're now in implementation mode, and ready to move into the next step. So, for Hawk, the catalyst to turn his cap backwards and switch modes was walking up to the arm wrestling table. That was his trigger that caused him to make the switch. For you and me, the trigger to initiate the first step of the P.A.T.H. Plan is when you experience that urge to watch porn. It's a feeling you have inside your body. Hawk had it easy. There was no question in his mind when it was time to make that switch. But for us, the catalyst is a feeling. It's something that happens inside, underneath the surface. It's something we have to notice and be aware of in order to be able to make that switch. So this begs the question: how can you and I be constantly ready to notice that urge when it arises so we can initiate the first step? How can you be sure you will really be able to stop when the urge hits you? After all, how many times have you ended up watching porn and afterwards looked back and asked, "How did that even happen?" The good news is I have the answer for you. The answer is self-awareness. And I have even better news. I am going to tell you how you can get this pivotal skill. This is so essential that I am going to spend next week's email talking just about this one tool of self-awareness. This week, I want to invite you to think about one thing: think about the next time you might experience that urge to watch porn. See yourself in that instance. And, imagine yourself noticing what is happening, taking a breath, and pausing. Picture yourself making that switch and initiating the plan. I'm going to repeat this as a strong encouragement to you to take 30 seconds and actually do this: picture yourself in the next instance when you might feel the urge to watch porn. Imagine yourself stopping when that happens, taking a breath, and pausing. See yourself making this switch into plan implementation mode. Practicing this in your mind will increase the chance that you will actually take this action in real life. It also helps you imagine what the "P" step will look and feel like for you. Remember, to increase your chance, practice in advance! Next week, we are going to look at why self-awareness is like superpower in your life. I will also share the things that I have personally done that have effectively built and grown this skill in my life. Let's go! Dan