[Draft: 2nd Edition Book]
Chapter Five: The Routine:
Tricky, But Once You Get It, You’ll Love It!
CAUTION: This is a powerful, mind-expanding routine designed to create a temporary, euphoric, altered-state of consciousness, commonly referred to as a "natural high" or a "runner's high".
If you'e prone to extreme mood swings it is recommended that you discuss this routine with a mental health professional before proceeding.
The Basic ASC Routine
The ASC routine uses a simple but effective basic platform to elevate mood and permanently change behavior. It consists of repeating out loud, (the louder the better), key words and phrases while smiling and looking into a mirror. And then doing the same thing while looking at pictures of smiling faces, (I cut them out of newspapers and magazines, creating an artificial audience if you will).
Build a “Trigger”
As discussed in an earlier chapter, one of the key ingredients of the routine is the evoking one or more episodes of the "frisson" with the intent of elevating positive emotion.
And, from my experience there are at least three (3) methods that enable me to evoke or “trigger” frisson (to repeat, frisson (technically piloerection, or cutis anserina ) is the (frequently pleasurable) physical sensation frequently referred to as "cold chills", "goosebumps", "gooseflesh", "thrills", "shudder", "bang", etc.).
The First Method for Evoking Frisson
The first method involves repeating positive words or phrases while simultaneously trying to remember what the sensation of frisson feels "like".
This first method will only work if you have previously ex-
pienced positive, “mood elevating chills” . Music lovers for example, frequently experience pleasurable chills when anti-cipating and then experiencing certain musical phrases.
(Many people however, claim to have never had the experience
So, during this first process, I'm "linking" two events (repeating positive affirmation while trying to remember what frisson feels like) with the intention of creating a response (the positive, mood elevating type of frisson, not the type of frisson asso-ciated with a negative, fearful response).
You could think of it as A plus B equals F where A is the positive word or phrases, B is the thought or memory of frisson feels like and F is the actual experience of frisson.
The first method takes a lot of practice and will not work right away for many. Fortunately there is more than one way to get the job done which I will outline further on in this chapter.
So to repeat, if you have no history of experiencing frisson which can come with positive experiences, then this first method probably won’t work for you and you will have to try one of the other two methods to follow.
Some Reminders on Learning Theory
Perhaps you remember learning in school about Pavlov’s dog. This was an experiment that showed that you could train a dog to salivate even if no food was around to create (evoke) that event.
We have all seen that a dog will often start salivating when it sees food being brought into a room. Pavlov showed that by ringing a bell every time he gave a dog food something new happened.
He observed that by repeating this association over time, ring-ing the bell would cause the dog to salivate by itself, even when no food was present! A new association or “conditioned response” had been formed! With practice you too can create a new association or conditioned response (an episode of positive frisson!
To repeat, you can learn to associate repeating an affirmation with the memory of what an dopamine/endorphin rush (frisson) feels like and eventually the memory of an episode of frisson brings about (evokes, triggers) the actual feeling! Just think of the repetition of a positive affirmation as the “bell” and the frisson as the “salivation”.
Some Sensations Can Be Remembered With Practice
Memories of sensations themselves can’t normally be recalled.
To test this, try remembering what strawberries taste like. Can you taste them? More than likely you won’t be able too.
But an episode of frission rush does not require an outside event such as someone giving you a bowl of strawberries to experience the feeling. It can be evoked, or willed, with practice, once you have created a new conditioned response! It's a totally new experience in and of itself.
A Second Method for Creating Frisson
The second method for creating frisson at will is basically a reversal of the first method. You can repeat positive affirmations AFTER experiencing frisson (chills) that you've just experienced for any reason (e.g. listening to your favorite music, winning at an important game, etc..
Immediately after the experience if you think back over what the chill just felt like, hopefully you will experience another chill at the moment you repeat a positive affirmation! In the first method above we are repeating affirmations and then trying to remember the feelings associated with a chill.
With this second method we are experiencing the first and then repeating a positive affirmation while trying to remember the experience of the chill the moment before. Both methods work to create the link (trigger) or association (conditioned response) between repeating positive affirmations, thinking about the feeling of a frisson and the experiencing a new frisson.
With this second method, if you experience a chill in public and don’t want to repeat the affirmations out loud, just do it under your breath! The important thing is do it immediately, with the intent of creating a "link" between the behavior of repeating affirmations, thinking about what the frisson felt like a few seconds ago and experiencing another deliberately induced frisson.
The important thing is doing it immediately, to create the link between the behavior of repeating affirmations and experiencing the feelings of euphoria, happiness, optimism or well being! After practicing this second method for a while hopefully you will eventually be able to evoke positive emotions at will and then eventually these positive emotions, (with continual and protracted use) may well expand into the intense feelings of an endorphin rush or chill!
A Third Method for Creating Frisson
Now, if you have never experienced frisson (chills) there is a third method to create or trigger this ability.
We have all heard of a runner’s high. As you may recall, people who run a lot for routine report feelings of mild euphoria after extensive exercise. And even non-exercisers have reported feeling a runner’s high (euphoria) after performing in public, such as when giving an uplifting speech or scene in a play.
Well, years ago, I accidentally learned that I could experience a "runners high" (mild euphoria/dramatically elevated mood, etc.) anytime I wished. I learned this when I was using Accelerated-State Conditioning simply to elevate my mood daily, (not create endorphin rushes or chills). At that time I didn't even know you could evoke frissons at will. I wanted too but I just could not remember what a chill felt like.
But again, what I learned was that by performing the ASC rou-tine for a lengthy period of time each day (often up to an hour at a time) I could create a runner's high at will!
It’s amazing what this constant bombardment of repeated daily positive affirmations (outloud while smiling into the mirror and then at the artificial audience) did for elevating my mood.
And once I learned how to evoke a runner's high at will, it wasn't long before I started experiencing episodes of frisson for the first time in my life the routine!
Once you start experiencing these chills and endorphin rushes (frisson) during your ASC sessions in front of the mirror then it will not take much time for you to be able to build the “triggers” or “links” or “conditioned responses” that enable you to create one or a whole series of “frisson at will” by using the first two methods outlined above!
Using a Mirror & Pictures is Optional
Now, you don’t have to use a mirror to still get the benefits of this routine, but if you don’t like looking in the mirror, you probably will benefit doing it anyway for that reason alone.
Often, not liking what you see in the mirror is abnormal and can be changed with time, regardless of how you feel about your appearance! During the routine I'm actually alternating my attention back and forth every few seconds between the mirror (my smiling face) and the "audience" (the pictures of smiling faces). And, I make sure I'm alone because I want to feel free to say anything and I need absolute privacy to have that feeling of "anything goes".
Actually, for a while, this was one of the major stumbling blocks for me with Accelerated-State Conditioning. That is, finding a suitable environment for feeling free enough to “verbally act out”. Before learning how to do the ASC routine under my breath I had even gone so far as to drive to an empty super-market parking lot to do the routine when the house was full of company!
But as I say, now I've come to discover that I have the ability to create pretty much the same effect "under my breath". I can just close the bathroom door and do the routine by just mouthing the words and remembering the feelings of an endorphin rush or chill. But, out loud is still best because you stimulate muscle memory (those memories usually associated with movement and loud verbal outbursts, etc.) of what a rush feels like and of course, for those who can afford it, a "sound-proof" library, music room etc. is ideal. I actually foresee the day when companies will have private sound-proof rooms where their workers can go to elevate their mood with Accelerated-State Conditioning! This would be especially helpful for employees who have to deal with difficult people on the phone or in person and for salespeople who need to keep their mood elevated.
Eventually I learned that there were other options for creating a "natural high" (listening to certain music, meditation, etc.), but "pumping up mood", while smiling into a mirror probably works best for most folks.
Fantasy Helps Generate Mood Elevation
There is a lot of "fantasy" that goes into generating "mood". I am continually "visualizing" myself talking to vast audiences while doing the routine. I also pretend to be talking to important people sometimes, or what ever seems to be stimulating to me at the time. Everything has to be “customized” to your current place and time. Some days one person or event is important to you, some days another. Think back over recent “successes” during the routine that heighten your mood and “link” those memories and feelings with your current affirmations!
Creating Frisson Is Not Easy for Most
Now most of us agree there is value in repeating positive affirmations to overcome negative conditioning, and many of us have practiced saying a few positive words to ourselves while looking into a mirror, but if it was that easy, the ASC technique would have been discov-ered and popular years ago! Actually, “Self-Talk” (written by psychologist Shad Helmstetter), and “Psycho-cybernetics” (by Maxwell Maltz), were effective affirmation therapies for me, but fortunately I found creating euphoria and belief” (as discussed earlier) during the sessions with Accelerated-State Conditioning was many times faster and more powerful.
But creating frisson which results in a temporary state of excitement or mild euphoria is not that easy. Roughly fifty percent of the population reports they have never experienced a “chill”. There’s a lot to evoking chills, as you’ll find out if you decide to start trying it.
Like meditating, or using bio feed-back to control your blood pressure, it takes skill and practice. The first time you try it, you may need to do it for an hour or so, for several days, before you really start getting some significant elevation of mood. Others will jump right into it. Bipolars (manic-depressives), watch out, if you’re like me, you like getting high too much and need to remember this is a temporary mood you're looking for, not a way of life! Our nervous systems can’t take it even if we could control the side effects.
And for those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder; anti-depressant and mood elevating medications (which theoretically you are creating with the ASC routine) usually need to be offset with mood stabilizers like Lithium according to mental health professionals, so they probably need to make sure their support group and mental health professional are following their use of this routine to give feedback on observed behavior).
Why Self-Affirmations (SuprAffs)
Are An Important Ingredient of ASC
With regards to why we use self-affirmations during the routine; repeating positive words and phrases is a proven psychological self-help process for changing, adding or removing specific behaviors and habits. As outlined earlier, this process is known as “affirming”. According MindPowerPlus.com, a popular website promoting the use of affirmations, affirmations are positive statements or messages.
Affirmations that are heard and repeated often enough can have a pronounced effect upon the user. Positive, high impact phrases can actually change your life for the better as they act as a counter-weight to all of the negative messages you hear daily through radio, TV and the media (not to mention all the negativity you may carry over from childhood)”. That’s because they affect your subconscious mind.
The easiest way to change and improve the quality of your life is to change or improve your perception of yourself. This can all be accomplished with powerful self-affirmations that can quiet negative thought patterns and discipline your mind.
According to the Internet site Psychlopedia.com, “Self affirmation, in which individuals reflect upon their values, has been shown to foster resilience. In particular, after individuals consider the facets of their life they most value, they are less inclined to exhibit anxious or defensive responses in the aftermath of criticisms, rejections, or other personal threats.
Usually, individuals are merely invited to select which option from a list of domains, such as money, relationships, art, or knowledge, they feel are most important. These individuals are then asked to write about why they value this facet. This exercise alone is sufficient to amplify resilience. For example, after this exercise, individuals are less inclined to ruminate over criticisms. Self affirmation theory explains these findings.
Research Supporting the Use of
Self-Affirmations for Changing Behavior
Regarding the use of self-affirmations, one recent study of interest is outlined in an article discussing recent research on self-affirmations by Dr. Sander L. Koole, et al from the University of Nijmegen titled "The Cessation of Rumination Through Self-Affirmation" (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, Vol. 77, No. 1, 111-125). Here is the opening statement in their article about their research findings:
"Drawing from self-affirmation theory (C. M. Steele, 1988) and L. L. Martin and A. Tesser's (1989, 1996) theory of ruminative thinking, the authors hypothesized that people stop ruminating about a frustrated goal when they can affirm an important aspect of the self. In 3 experiments participants were given failure feedback on an alleged IQ test. Failure feedback led to increased rumination (i.e., accessibility of goal-related thoughts) compared with no-failure conditions (Studies 1 and 2).
Rumination was reduced when participants could self-affirm after failure (Studies 1 and 2) or before failure (Study 3). In Study 3, self-affirmation led to increased positive affect on a disguised mood test and more positive name letter evaluations. Moreover, the obtained increase in positive affect mediated the effect of self-affirmation on rumination. It is concluded that self-affirmation may be an effective way to stop ruminative thinking.
In earlier article supporting self-affirmation theory, procrastination expert, Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada in an article titled Self-affirmation: A strategy to reduce self-control failure (Psychology Today, March 2009), states "the rationale behind the use of self-affirmation as a strategy to enhance self-control is that the act of self-affirmation allows people to respond in a manner that counters their automatic response tendency. In other words, self-affirmation counters habits of action, and this is the essence of self-control-our action is consciously volitional as opposed to habitual."
Affirmations Work Best if "Believable"
As mentioned above the third unique concept of ASC is as follows: I believe that the well established practice of repeating positive affirmations works best (for both elevating mood and changing behavior long term) when the affirmations are “truly believed” and not just mouthed in a half-hearted hope that you will become what you mimic!.
Building Affirmation Sentences is Simple
A quick way to build “believable” affirmation sentences is to simply put the words “I like it when I.....“ in front of hundreds of positive words. Positive words like sociable, friendly, gregarious, organized, helpful, kind, productive. So a simple, “believable” affirmation is;
“I like it when I'm able to be sociable”. It’s an easy fast way to build sentences designed to create a quick “rush” or "chill" and later you can add more detail to the sentences to begin working towards eliminating specific habits, etc..
Examples of BELIEVABLE Affirmations
“I like it when I speak up for myself when unjustly criticized.”
“I feel great when I meet my daily weight reduction goals.”
“It’s a joy when I get through a day without spending over budget.”
“I love it when someone returns my compliment with a smile.”
“It’s a terrific feeling when I take charge and avoid the impulse to smoke.”
“I love it when I’m able to be sociable, friendly and gregarious.”
“It feels great when I’m able to be positive, optimistic and enthusiastic”
“I enjoy it when I can be kind, loving, supportive, patient and tolerant with
“It’s a pleasure when I can be productive, efficient, quick and precise in my
Examples of Affirmations that are NOT BELIEVABLE
Here are some examples of affirmations that are “usually not believable”:
“I am Powerful beyond Imagination.”
"I’m the Richest Person on the World.”
“I’m Enormously Successful in all ways.”
“I’m Powerful beyond Belief.”
Choose Affirmations That Are
Believable Regardless of Mood
Another way the ASC routine can begin with “believable” words and phrases is to pick specific words that we nearly always believe regardless of mood. For most people, it’s words and sentences referring to "character". Words like "kind", "generous", "warm", "friendly" or "honest". You can make flashcards up with these words, one to a card, on the front, and then sentences describing examples of your character on the backside. Then, as the routine proceeds and you feel a little better, and your mood lifts or elevates a little, you find that you can repeat other positive things about yourself, and can comfortably start repeating more positive affirmations using sentences containing words like "neat", "thrifty", "organized " or whatever normally describes your basic personality (or what you want your personality to be) and so on.
Everyone is different. You scan down long lists of written words and phrases (preferably sentences) and pick up the ones that "feel right" at the moment). Sometimes it may depend on what you have been successful at recently, for example. As your mood elevates during the routine, guess what? Your "belief system" changes! And all of a sudden, as you start getting into a more positive frame of mind (or another personality, who knows), and you start remembering other good attributes about yourself that had been temporarily forgotten and you can start repeating additional words and phrases from your lists (or flashcards).
Other Sources of Affirmation Lists
Regarding these affirmation lists; a great source for building these lists are the Self-Talk (tm) paperbacks by Dr. Shad Helmstetter. These books have page after page of terrific positive affirmation scenarios and scripts. Take these scripts and pick out and "repeat out loud" what you believe about yourself (according to you initial mood). Then, during the ASC routine, before you know it, your flying along with words and phrases that you would normally only repeat to yourself when you are really "up" and even a little grandiose, (euphoric,.... get it?)! At the end of a routine I literally believe I’m everything described in my entire portfolio of SuprAffs.
For your convenience, I have also developed an extensive list of affirmations that meet the guidelines above. They can be found in an Addendum at the end of this eBook. I call them SuprAffs (short for super affirmations). There is a wide range of topics to choose from including weight control, smoking, financial goal setting, exercise and stage fright.