|Don’t be afraid to allow the mind to ‘think differently’
Whenever an enthusiastic speaker challenges me to “think differently” at some convention or workshop, I find myself feeling a little irritated and sometimes even mad. Why, because “think differently” is so very nebulous, vague and hazy. What does “think differently” mean? That’s like telling my eyes to “see differently.” How in the world am I supposed to do that?
Well, I’m going to tell you what that means today but with a handle you can use to actually “think differently.”
First….read the following sentence:
Can you raed tihs? I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aullacty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdaniig. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are. The olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerim. Tihs is bcaseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istief, but the wrod as a pttearn. Azanmig huh? And I awlyas thhuhot slpeling was impmorantt.
Isn’t that amazing? You can actually read this. And there are four words in that paragraph where the letters of the intended word do not match. Can you find them? (Two of them are in the last sentence. The answers are at the end of this article.)
Now read this:
7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5.
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 7H15 LIN3 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.
The reason you can read these paragraphs is because your brain has created a pattern for every word you know and instantly recognizes them.
So, you can only imagine how many trillions of patterns we must be carrying around right now. In fact, according to V.S. Romachandran, the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, the number of patterns your brain can carry is theoretically greater than the number of elementary particles in the universe.
It is no wonder that neuroscientists now call the human brain the most complex organism in the universe. But what can all this mean to us? Only this: The primary element that holds us back from learning and growing and changing is what we say to ourselves.
You see, while I am talking to you, you are talking to yourself three times faster. When I stop talking, you talk to yourself six times faster. We call this constant conversation your “self-talk,” and this self-talk determines how you see yourself (called your self-image.) And you do not have one self-image, you have tens of thousands; how you see yourself as an athlete, a teacher, a husband, a wife and so on.
Now, let’s use these observations to create the “handle” I promised you for “thinking differently” at the beginning of this article.
One of the foundations of cognitive psychology is that much of what you can do is based on your self-talk. More specifically, much of what you do is based on what you say to yourself and about yourself throughout the day. And as you probably know, a lot of what you say about yourself can be negative stuff.
But guess what – and here’s the handle – you can change what you say to yourself and about yourself starting now.
So, rather than saying, “I’m so stupid for thinking that or saying that or doing that” you can also say, “that wasn’t the smartest thing to think or say or do, but it doesn’t mean I’m stupid.
The next time, I’ll think or say or do it differently.” You can actually choose to change what you say to yourself about yourself. Or you can change what you say to yourself about a challenging situation in your life or a difficult relationship. It is up to you.
And guess what? Your brain accepts what you tell yourself without question. No arguments. So when you say, “No way. I can’t do that,” the mind simply says, “OK, you can’t,” and then blocks out ways for you to do it. However, if you say, “absolutely…I know I can do that,” the brain not only accepts that just as quickly, it then helps you find a way to do it, and then gives you the energy to get it done.
So, a new way of thinking is to immediately throw away any notions we are too old, too young, too uneducated or too stuck in our ways to grow, learn and change. We can grow and change as much as we really want. How exciting!
(By the way, the misspelled words were pboerim, bcaseae, thhuhot, and impmorantt.)
Steven Campbell is the author of "Making Your Mind Magnificent" and conducts "The Winners Circle" every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. He can be contacted at 480-5007 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.anintelligentheart.com.