I was inspired to write this blog whilst watching the Paralympics. To see these guys and girls get on with life, not just survive but thrive and be the best they can be is truly awesome.
But what allows people to achieve such great feats of strength and endurance when the odds seem stacked against them, what kind of mind-set must one possess to keep going, to keep moving forward in spite of set-backs.
Remember what happened the last time you bought a car? Didn’t it seem like everyone was suddenly driving the same make, model and colour car you had just bought? You know why that happened? Because buying a car was an emotional experience that caused your brain to start focusing on that model and colour car. We are wired that way. That’s just how the brain functions. Once you understand how the brain works, you will be able to condition it to focus on reaching your goals.
For me it was having a baby, well it wasn’t me that had a baby, but I was assured that I had something to do with it. As soon as I knew my partner was pregnant all of a sudden we started seeing babies everywhere, in Tesco’s, on TV, in nightclubs (OK maybe not nightclubs), but pretty much everywhere else.
98% of everything scientists know about the brain has been discovered since 1996. Recently it has been scientifically proven that writing your goals down regularly, visualizing your intended result and saying it out loud, you actually physically change your brain’s neurons and hardwire your subconscious mind to focus like a guided missile on reaching your dreams and goals.
I love the fact that modern science has finally proven what successful athletes and entrepreneurs have known all along. There are ways we can change ourselves to become the type of person capable of achieving our dreams. This means that no matter how bleak your past has been, you can make a choice to have an unbelievably successful future because, if we can change the wiring in our brain, our past does not have to dictate the future.
If you are not into science and if you already buy into these findings and are living the life of your dreams, don’t read any further and put that green bib on now! But if you really want to understand the nuts and bolts of how your mind works and how you can programme it to work for you, read on.
At the base of the brain, where it connects with the spinal cord, there is a region called the Reticular Activation System (RAS). The RAS acts like a filter that decides which thoughts to focus on at any one time. Every second, there are about eight million bits of information (subconsciously) flowing through our brain, so we need a way to filter out the noise. The RAS decides which messages will arrive at the brain. Once a message gets past the RAS filter and enters the cerebrum, it can turn into conscious thoughts, emotions or both.
Even though the cerebrum is the centre of thought, it will not respond to a message unless the RAS allows it. The RAS is like Google. There are millions of web sites out there, but you filter out the ones you are not interested in simply by typing a keyword. You can also think of the RAS as the brain’s gatekeeper to conscious thought. It’s critical to your future that you learn how to get messages past this gatekeeper.
So what causes some messages to get through the RAS and others to get blocked out? Whatever is important to you at the time and whatever you are currently focusing on gets through. If your focus is to buy a house in Tuscany or Edinburgh your RAS will automatically filter in thoughts that will help you get that house. This includes people who might help you, opportunities to make it happen or resources that you might need. This means the more you keep your goals “top of mind,” the more your subconscious mind will work to reach them. That’s why writing your goals down every day, visualizing your intended outcome and regularly saying them out loud is so important. Doing those things truly does help you to focus your subconscious mind on what’s important to you.
Visualization taps into the creative powers of the subconscious mind. It gets the subconscious mind working 24/7 on helping you reach your goals. Unless you visualize, you miss out on resources that are available to help you out. And by the way, five-sixths of your thoughts are subconscious thoughts. You don’t want to ignore the majority of your thinking resources, do you?
If you want success, you need to learn how to get your subconscious mind to work for you. Visualization focuses your subconscious mind to look for those resources. That is also why you need to trust your hunches, your gut feelings and your intuition. Whenever you get a hunch, what has actually happened is that your subconscious has just detected that your outside circumstances are favourable to take action. The sum total of your subconscious memory has spotted an opportunity favourable to you, so don’t ignore your intuition or a gut feeling.
Once you learn how to get your subconscious mind working for you, your life will start changing dramatically. You’ll find yourself waking up in the morning filled with great ideas that will help you reach your goals. You’ll start meeting people who can help you realize your dreams. You’ll be like a magnet that attracts favourable conditions. People will start thinking you are lucky.
Did you know that you can actually physically change your brain cells to help you realize your dreams? Whenever you affirm a goal out loud or visualize something using a lot of passion and emotion, new neural pathways are formed. Intense emotional experiences actually stimulate the growth of additional spiny protuberances on the dendrites of brain neurons, which result in more neural connections and stronger memory and retention of that thought. That’s why people can remember what they were doing when Princess Diana died or when the attacks on the Twin Towers in 9/11 happened. Because those events were so emotionally charged, that new mental pathways were created.
You want to create strong mental pathways that will help you to realise your dreams. Doing so will turn you into a dream realising machine! What you think about and act upon comes about. But focus is the key. If you focus on only one goal and don’t quit, you have a ninety-five percent chance of achieving it. If you focus on two goals, your chances drop to sixty-five percent. Focus on three, and you’re down to twenty-five percent.
See why it’s critical to be single minded.
Would you like to believe more in yourself? Beliefs are developed in the subconscious mind. If you don’t believe you can succeed, you need to change those beliefs by programming your subconscious mind. More recently brain research shows that passionately repeating the same statements over and over forms new neural pathways that can eventually fire as “belief,” and when this belief fires, it triggers you to take the actions that will help you to reach your dreams. This is why your self-talk and who you associate with are so crucial to your success. What you say to yourself and who you hang around with will determine what kind of neural pathways you are developing.
What kind of neural pathways are you making? Will they lead you to success or to failure? It’s all up to you.
So get started right now. Schedule time daily to write your goals, to vividly imagine what success will be like for you. Then get in front of a mirror and passionately tell yourself that you WILL MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. And the chances are, you will.