The STOP technique is a tool designed to interrupt any negative pattern or behavior, to replace it with a new an empowering one, and to program or condition yourself to do it automatically. I learned it from Joseph McClendon III.
As in any human change procedure, awareness is the first step to overcoming any challenge.
Sometimes you don't even realize that you're doing something that doesn't serve you until it's too late.
So it's important to catch yourself doing the negative pattern and interrupt it while you're doing that behavior.
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."
- Anthony Robbins
So, choose a particular negative pattern or behavior that doesn't serve you. When and how often do you experience it?
Lure it into the open. Your emotions don't play fair and neither should you. Trick it by thinking of the very thing that bothers you. Then kill it with the STOP technique. "Kill the monster while it's a baby".
Decide what you want to experience instead.
Like in life in general, looking for things make them appear (If you're looking for to see a BMW, for example, you'll soon see them everywhere, right?). When you do this, you become more aware of your negative emotions and behaviors as they are happening.
Then it's easier for you to clean them up.
The STOP technique has five essential elements that are necessary for fast and lasting change:
1. Become aware.
2. Interrupt the pattern. A pattern interrupt creates a vacuum, and nature always fills a vacuum.
3. Breath and move. This is a change in your physiology.
4. Focus on the desired outcome.
5. Reward yourself. This makes your new behavior stick, so it becomes a new habit.
Each of these elements is important to make the whole thing work, in this order.
You can do the following STOP technique exercise anytime and anywhere.
The purpose is to program yourself to automatically replace any negative emotions or behaviors with powerful alternative emotions and behaviors.
When you are in the undesired state of mind and you realize it, say it. Say the word "Stop!". Or, you can say any emotionally charged word that does the job and serves you. Say it out loud and clear. You can shout if you want.
For example, sit on a chair feeling the bad feeling, then quickly stand up while saying "Stop!".
This immediately interrupts the pattern, and causes your brain to start searching.
Immediately upon saying it and interrupting your pattern, take a deep breath. Breathing is the first thing to do to change your state of mind. It brings oxygen to the brain and starts the process of clearer thinking and better choice.
If you can walk around for a while and shake yourself out, do it. It makes the process faster.
You have already decided the state of mind that you want to put in place of the negative pattern, so focus on it now. Play with it and make yourself feel that emotion fully. Squeeze your fist and say "Yes!". Move yourself, dance...!
Usually, the emotion that you're looking for is the opposite of the one that you're moving away from. As you think, so you are. Have fun with it, and let your mind do the rest.
The good old praise. Pat yourself on the back. Praise yourself for the whole thing. Praise yourself for the fact that you broke the pattern.
If all you did were continue to interrupt the pattern and reward yourself for doing it, the negative pattern would subside.
Anything that is repeated will eventually become a habit, and any habit that is reinforced will become automatic. Think of tying your shoes, riding a bike, or driving a car, for example. You do those things automatically, because they have become your habits.
"Act like you want to be and you'll soon be like you act."
- Joseph McClendon III
I've heard Joseph tell about a man who had a really bad fear of heights. He had to drive over a bridge in California to get to his workplace, but he couldn't do that. Then he learned about the STOP technique. He dealt with his fear by practicing this technique about 200 times in a row. A few months later, he made a bungee jump from the very same bridge... Incredible, right?
In the same way, you can program yourself to take better actions to design your life and get the results you want. Repetition is the most common way of programming. Repetition with reward is a very quick and effective way of programming yourself.
Do the exercise as many times as it takes to get rid of that negative emotion. You'll soon see that whenever you would've normally gone into the old state of mind, you now become neutral, or better yet, empowered.