Powerful techniques to optimize your emotions, beliefs, and behaviors

A Call to Action and the Action Maneuver

A Call to Action is as simple as moving.  You move and your emotions change.  To see change, do.  Instead of thinking about it, wash the dishes or vacuum that floor and observe how your feelings change about doing it.


The Action Maneuver is a method by which to get moving and do an activity.


Warning: Folks with a history of mental illness, PTSD, or panic are urged not to use these techniques without a therapist. If you decide to do these processes you will agree to absolve the webmaster, the webhost,, and Steve Mensing of any responsibility for the application or misapplication of these processes. There is always in any process the possibility that someone could experience some discomfort.

A Call to Action

Giving activity assignments is a common occurrence in brief psychotherapy. Activity assignments are often based on the notion that folks require both listening to their inner promptings and taking action on what is important. Many have recognized the profound and simple wisdom of doing what the moment requires regardless of how we initially feel. The alarm goes off and we have to head out to work.

Over and over we observe how feelings change when we are doing something important. Life calls us to take out the trash, feed the dog and cat, call friends, go out on a date, or follow through on a work assignment. Taking required action can quickly alter initial fears, emotional paralysis, and negative and self-absorbed trance states. In many instances doing what the moment requires is a keystone in overcoming depression and severe anxiety. Taking required action can create profound emotional shifts and remake our perspectives on ourselves and reality. Further, important actions can provide a sense of control and directly impresses upon us the great power to do and to make changes.

The Action Maneuver

The Action Maneuver is a simple 4 step method for getting things done no matter what we're feeling or how much magnetic gravity we're experiencing. Someone can always get up and do something. They decide to do something, choose to do it, and then do it. Sorry, there are no acceptable excuses not to do something we chose to do. The "I didn't feel like it" excuse doesn't have any weight here. We can always move our hands and feet. If we can't, we should see a medical doctor immediately. Of course if we can make a doctor's appointment and follow through, we can take action can't we?

The Action Maneuver is based on the age-old insight into the reality that human beings, no matter how intensely they are up against it, can choose to get up and do something. It's a fact that people can feel intensely overwhelmed and still do something. Even a person seized by panic can still flee a building. (They can also choose to stay there). What stymies people are not feelings or being overwhelmed, but the choice they make to remain inactive. They choose not to do something. Unless a person has major neurological problems, actual physical disabilities, or a severe psychosis, they can choose to do something and do it. They don't even have to see the meaning and the value in what they're doing (It's sure motivating) in order to do something. They do it.

No matter how much "I can't stand it-it is" or this is "too much" or "overwhelming" we experience, we can still choose to get our limbs moving and do something important.

Would we do our self-help assignments if a 300 lb maniac held a pistol to our heads and whispered: "Do it"? I'm pretty sure what choice we'd make.

Choice and action are powerful tools we all have at our disposal. Nothing fancy. Action is a very powerful change process. It gets important things done. It gives folks a sense of control. Absorbing action feels good. Extended absorbed activity produces endorphins and feels good after awhile. People have changed how they felt, their beliefs, and their behavior patterns by taking action. Small actions can start the ball rolling for large changes.

When we can take action at anytime (which we can), we're in the driver's seat.

An exercise for taking required action:

The Action Maneuver:

1. We sense something important better be done.

2. We give this prompting due consideration. Had we better do this? A bit later or right away? What good and worthwhile payoffs would come about from us taking action? Clean dishes? A balanced bank account. Better health?

3. Do we require any planning or should we take care of business now? If we don't require much planning, then we better choose to do it and do it right away.

4. Added step for those frozen to act:  Feeling overwhelmed, up against it, magnetized to the old bedski? Press your tongue hard against the roofs of your mouth near your teeth, rub both palms briskly together for 10 seconds,and then get up and do it. The only thing that can hold us back is a choice not to do so. If you make the choice to do it, then do it. Keep in mind the good things resulting from our actions. If you hesitate, you ask yourself if you would get up and take action if a 300 lb maniac held a gun to your head and demanded that you took action. If you answer yes, then you can do it anyway.

Tips on Taking Action

If you feel overwhelmed by emotional paralysis, then do what you need to do right away. This will shift you quickly out of emotional paralysis. Unless you're in a body cast all excuses are unacceptable. Get up and do it. Real living ends for people who give into emotional paralysis. The truth is we can move our arms and legs and lift our hands. We are making a choice here. The emotional overload dissipates after we've taken action.

You can assist this process by noticing the value of what you're going to do. This can be motivating. It's easy to see the value of washing dishes, balancing checkbooks, going to school. See the valuable outcomes and payoffs of your actions.

You can choose to listen to anxiety and false lethargy or you can do what you better do. Which do you think will feel better over the long haul? No matter how you initially feel, always do what you better do.

You can stand your feelings. Truth be told, you can stand any feelings -- even the most severe panic and fear. Ask yourself: Could you stand your feelings for 1 billion dollars or true love or a highly valuable reward of your choice? If you answered yes that presupposes you could stand your feelings even without rewards (your life generally gets better when you take important action).

Be aware of "musting" or "shoulding" yourself to do something. Folks respond better and balk less to the inner promptings of "this is something I better do", than to the demandingness of shoulds and musts.

List 8 activities you deem important right now. Set a time and do them. Notice how much better you feel and how much more empowered you are.

You needn't even integrate any beliefs or stuck emotions around these important actions. You can process or integrate after you take action if you still need to do this work.

Fear of rejection can be integrated after you've taken action. Action and direct exposure tends to burn out fears of rejection over time.

If you have a pattern of stuckness, the beliefs and emotions involved in this stuckness may be processed to make sailing easier in the future. Still all we need to do is to get up and do the required action. We can choose doing over giving our attention to feelings. Those feelings change when we take required action.

Don't wait for inspiration, the right moment, or motivation. These all come from being absorbed in the moment provided by taking action.


Feelings are strongly influenced by our activities. You know what being deeply absorbed in something is like. You know what a feeling of completion is like. Compare those two feelings to guilt infested procrastination and false paralysis. Which would you choose?

Taking important action falls under the category of "stuff that works".

When action is required, shift your attention from your inner life to the task at hand. If you sense too much analysis of the situation and planning, then go ahead and do what you need to do.

Take care, Steve