224: How to remove your problems with the power of “Limited Systems”

224: How to remove your problems with the power of “Limited Systems”

Welcome to this episode of our short daily podcast - A Slice of Therapy.

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With Alun Parry https://liverpoolpsychotherapy.co.uk

Automatically Generated Transcript

00:01
you’re listening to a slice of therapy
00:03
with me alun parry
00:06
[Music]
00:11
so imagine you’ve got a bucket of water
00:14
and it’s a lovely clear
00:19
bucket of water the water is pristine
00:24
and as you pick up the bucket of water
00:28
full of this really pure
00:32
clear beautiful water
00:37
you actually drop a bottle of ink
00:40
that is in your pocket and as the bottle
00:43
of ink
00:43
falls it hits the side of the bucket and
00:47
smashes
00:49
and all of the ink
00:52
falls into the water and pollutes it
00:56
now a moment ago you had this lovely
00:59
clear
01:00
pure bucket of water and now
01:04
it’s contaminated with all of this ink
01:07
that you’ve gone and dropped in it
01:09
what are you gonna do now obviously you
01:12
want to get back to the point
01:14
where you’ve got just a bucket full of
01:16
clean water again
01:20
but how did you get to that point well
01:23
there’s
01:23
two ways you could get to that point the
01:26
first way is
01:27
you could try and remove the ink
01:31
now if you try and remove the ink well
01:32
good luck with that because that’s going
01:34
to be really really difficult isn’t it
01:36
like how do you take the inky bits
01:39
out of the water because it’s all meshed
01:41
in together now it seems
01:44
so that’s going to be really hard
01:47
but thankfully there is another way and
01:49
rather than trying to take the bad stuff
01:53
what you can do is add more
01:57
of the good stuff and so
02:01
the best way to get the ink out and to
02:03
get as close to possible
02:04
as having a really nice bucket of water
02:07
again
02:08
is to add water and keep on
02:12
adding water keep on adding the thing
02:14
that you do
02:15
want and eventually what will happen is
02:20
that the amount of water will just
02:21
dilute out
02:23
all of the ink that used to be in there
02:28
and i like this metaphor because
02:33
it’s a good way of thinking about many
02:36
different
02:36
systems in life as well
02:40
the rather than
02:43
always focusing on the problem
02:46
what we can do is focus on what it is
02:49
that we want
02:50
instead we can focus on trying to add
02:53
the good stuff
02:55
rather than try and take the bad stuff
02:56
away
03:00
now sometimes it it does make a it does
03:02
make sense doesn’t it to
03:04
take the bad stuff away i mean after all
03:06
that’s why we flush a toilet
03:08
but there are other times
03:11
where focusing on the problem
03:14
isn’t necessarily the best way or the
03:17
only way
03:18
of going about fixing things and that’s
03:21
particularly the case
03:22
in what i would refer to as limited
03:25
systems
03:28
now the thing with problems is that they
03:30
can get very
03:31
naughty they can get very stubborn
03:35
to try and solve or overcome a problem
03:38
can be really really difficult and
03:40
sometimes we don’t even know why the
03:41
problem is there
03:44
and so it’s very easy sometimes to be
03:46
defeated by problems which is why it’s
03:48
nice to have this other way of going
03:50
about things
03:53
so in this other way of going about
03:55
things we add
03:56
more good stuff rather than try and take
03:59
bad stuff away and as i say
04:01
it’s particularly useful when we find
04:04
ourselves
04:05
in limited systems as i call them
04:08
so what do i mean by a limited system
04:13
well a limited system is something
04:16
that doesn’t expand so a bucket
04:19
for instance is only as big as the
04:21
bucket
04:23
a box for instance is only as big as the
04:26
box there’s only so
04:28
much that i can put in a box
04:32
now when you’ve got a limited system
04:36
like a box
04:39
then you can’t make the box bigger it’s
04:42
simply a case of
04:44
if you want to carry something else in
04:46
that box you’re going to have to take
04:47
something
04:48
out
04:51
now the reason why i like limited
04:53
systems is the
04:55
and why i like to focus on how to
04:57
improve limited systems
04:59
like a box like a bucket is
05:02
because our lives our days
05:06
our limited systems it doesn’t matter
05:09
how
05:10
wealthy you are you get 24 hours in a
05:13
day
05:15
time is that great equalizer and there’s
05:18
nothing that you can do
05:20
to give yourself a 25-hour day
05:24
so every single day that we’re here
05:28
is a limited system and in limited
05:32
systems
05:33
like the bucket then
05:36
by adding something you are
05:39
automatically
05:41
taking away the bad thing
05:45
lessening the thing that you don’t want
05:49
so let me give you a couple of examples
05:52
let’s say in my day for instance that i
05:54
notice
05:55
i’m spending a good portion of my day
05:57
feeling really miserable
06:02
well if i simply convert
06:05
even just a tiny bit of that time
06:09
into feeling happier then i
06:12
automatically lose
06:15
that amount of misery it’s not that i
06:17
keep my misery
06:19
but i’ve got some happiness as well
06:21
because it’s a limited system it has
06:24
boundaries we’ve got 24 hours a day
06:27
so if i spend eight hours feeling
06:29
miserable
06:32
rather than try and solve the problem as
06:34
such
06:35
i can add water to the ink and so what i
06:38
can do there is decide
06:41
to spend i don’t know five minutes of
06:43
that eight hours
06:46
doing something that actually fills me
06:47
up in some way
06:49
that engages me that makes me feel good
06:53
whatever that happens to be and now all
06:55
of a sudden
06:57
i haven’t got five minutes of good stuff
07:00
but i’ve still got the eight hours of
07:03
sadness
07:04
no i’ve got five minutes of good stuff
07:08
and seven hours and 55 minutes of the
07:11
bad stuff
07:13
you see when you’re in a limited system
07:15
and this is the joyous thing
07:17
simply by adding more of what you want
07:21
lessons by definition
07:24
the amount of stuff that you don’t want
07:28
so let me give you another example the
07:32
nutritionist michael greger if i’m
07:34
saying his name
07:35
correctly has discovered that human
07:38
beings
07:39
are really consistent in the amount
07:42
of food we eat per day our calories will
07:45
go up and down but the amount of actual
07:47
the weight amount of food like so many
07:51
pounds per day
07:52
we’re very consistent day in day out
07:56
and so if michael greger is right
07:59
then the amount in weight
08:03
that we eat is also a limited system
08:07
and so we could kind of focus on not
08:09
eating so much chips or
08:11
not eating so much chocolate or not
08:13
having so many burgers or whatever it is
08:17
or we could just add more of the good
08:19
stuff because again if that is a limited
08:22
system
08:23
if we eat the same amount in weight each
08:25
day
08:26
then it means that just by changing
08:29
the balance and adding some more good
08:32
stuff it means
08:33
less bad stuff will get eaten
08:37
now once you realize that time itself
08:42
is a closed system is a limited system
08:45
in that way then you realize that
08:50
how we live our life can change
08:54
by ignoring the problems and by
08:58
focusing on just adding more of what we
09:01
want
09:03
so when we find something in life
09:07
that is going well
09:10
one of the things that we can do is
09:12
focus in on how
09:14
it’s going well like what did we do to
09:16
create that
09:17
little moment of going wellness
09:24
because even if you can spot the tiniest
09:28
chink of light and expand that
09:32
the very act of expanding it because
09:35
it’s a limited system will remove
09:38
the amount of time being spent on
09:40
something that is going less well
09:44
so let’s say for instance i just do five
09:47
minutes of walking
09:51
by definition that means i get five
09:53
minutes less
09:54
of simply sitting down five minutes of
09:58
the good stuff
10:00
automatically takes out five minutes of
10:03
the stuff we want less of
10:07
and this is one of the reasons why tiny
10:10
habits
10:11
work this is one of the reasons why we
10:14
don’t really need to be perfectionists
10:17
we don’t need to go for that overarching
10:21
everything’s perfect approach because
10:24
in a limited system like each of our
10:28
days is
10:30
then all we really need to do is to
10:33
focus
10:35
on expanding the stuff that is going
10:38
well
10:41
and so when you think about what it is
10:43
that you want in your days
10:46
whether it be more exercise or whether
10:48
it be eating better
10:50
or whether it be spending time in a way
10:53
that is fulfilling
10:55
or you want more connection whatever it
10:58
is that you do want
11:00
notice where you’ve created it in life
11:03
already
11:05
and then do more of that expand it
11:09
because by the very act of expanding it
11:14
you’ll be knocking out the stuff that is
11:16
not going well for you
11:19
and so when you notice a problem in life
11:21
and you think
11:22
wow i want less of that i really want
11:25
less of that
11:28
well ask yourself what it is that you
11:29
want instead and then notice
11:32
where it has shown up even if it’s not
11:35
recently
11:36
notice how you created that something
11:38
else
11:40
because simply by expanding that you
11:42
will get less of the thing that you want
11:46
now of course i’m not saying that you
11:48
have to ignore the problems all the time
11:50
but you can see that in a limited system
11:53
often what we can do is simply focus on
11:57
the good stuff and expand it and by
12:00
definition
12:01
the stuff we don’t want gets taken away
12:05
so let’s recap then we started off by
12:08
looking
12:09
at that lovely bucket of water that got
12:12
polluted by the ink
12:13
and we saw that in order to get closer
12:16
back
12:17
to a lovely bucket of water again we
12:19
have to add water rather than remove ink
12:21
and the reason why is because a bucket
12:23
is a limited system
12:25
and in any limited system by adding what
12:28
we want
12:29
automatically lessens the thing that we
12:32
don’t want
12:34
and so we saw some examples didn’t we
12:36
where time is the classic
12:40
limited system we all get 24 hours a day
12:43
and so by just changing
12:46
what happens in that day by adding in
12:49
the good stuff
12:50
like adding in the water into the bucket
12:52
we automatically take out
12:54
the ink of life the stuff that we want
12:57
less of
13:01
and so even though our focus
13:04
naturally falls upon the problem when
13:07
we’re experiencing the problem
13:09
the wonderful thing about time being a
13:12
limited system
13:13
is that anytime we’ve got something that
13:15
we don’t want
13:16
we can ask ourselves what would i prefer
13:20
instead and then find that in our life
13:23
either right now
13:25
or in the past and take that chink of
13:27
light
13:28
and expand it because every five minutes
13:32
walking is automatically
13:33
five minutes less where i’m sat down
13:37
and so whatever it is that you want in
13:39
your life and whatever it is that
13:41
you notice you’d like less of you can
13:44
use this power
13:46
that is inherent in a limited system
13:49
like a day
13:51
like a bucket like a box to simply
13:54
expand
13:55
what you want more of in order to get
13:58
yourself a better life
14:01
so thanks for listening if it’s useful
14:04
please spread it on to somebody else so
14:06
that they can benefit too
14:08
if you’d like to work with me directly
14:09
one to one i’m alun parry
14:12
and you can find out more at liverpool
14:13
psychotherapy dot co dot uk
14:16
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14:17
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14:19
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14:22
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14:24
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14:27
so thanks for listening i’ll be back
14:29
again tomorrow with another one

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