|We behave how we believe we are at all times
You are not aware of 99.9999 percent of what your nervous system is doing. It not only keeps your brain working, it keeps the rest of your body working. It keeps your heart beating, your stomach digesting and your eyes seeing. In addition, all the memories you take in every day are recorded in your unconscious.
Now this is interesting. We do not record the actual event, but our version of the event, and then we call it the “truth”...not “our” truth, but “the” truth. When you think you are experiencing the way life really is, you say, “I see the way life really is!” And I say “No…I see the way life really is!”
We’re both wrong!
And the reason for this dichotomy is found by looking at a part of your mind I like to call the creative subconscious. Of its three functions we know of, we’ll look at only one today. That function is to make sure that what you do and how you think lines up with your self images.
Notice I said self images. We don’t have one self image; we have hundreds of thousands…one for everything we do. You have one for how you see yourself as a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a cook, an athlete or a dancer.
All of these are stored in the subconscious. So if I see myself as shy, I don’t need to remember to act shy. My subconscious makes sure I act shy.
In other words, its job is to make you behave like you think you are, to make sure you act like your self images. This is called maintaining sanity. Once you know who and how you are, the subconscious automatically takes over. It makes you behave like the person you think yourself to be. You never need to remember. So if you are outgoing and gregarious, you don’t have to remember to act outgoing or gregarious. You just will be. When you know who you are, you don’t need to get up in the morning and remember to be that way. Your subconscious makes sure you behave like you think you are.
The downside of the
However, there is a down side to this. Your creative subconscious does this without ever asking if what you think about yourself is true. It does not care.
Its job is to make sure that you act like you believe you are. This alone explains why change can be so difficult.
As the best way to teach this is through true-life stories, I’ll share with you how I did not and did lose weight.
My father was very young when he died 30 years ago, and as Mary and I drove away from the memorial service, she said to me, “If you die early, I’ll kill you! I want us to enjoy our life together growing old.”
I was about 30 pounds overweight, so on the Monday following the memorial service, I got up early, ran for 30 minutes and did that every day. I also limited my diet, and by the end of that first week, I had lost three pounds, which is a lot in one week.
However after Saturday and Sunday, I gained all the weight back by Monday and did that for 25 years.
The reason is that when I said to myself, “You are a 230-pound man who needs to lose 30 pounds,” my brain simply said, “OK, you are!” (Because as we have already learned in this column, your brain believes and accepts and acts on everything you tell it). My creative subconscious then made sure that I ate and exercised like a 230-pound man, whether it was good for me or not. That’s its job.
So, after studying what I am sharing with you here, I changed what I was saying to, “I love weighing only 200 pounds because it makes me feel so great about myself.”
Now at first, my brain protested that I was just playing another one of those mental games and lying to myself. “You are not 200 pounds! You will always weigh 230 pounds. So just give up.” But I said, “No…I see myself as weighing 200 pounds right now, and I’m going to lock onto that image when I exercise, when Saturday and Sunday comes, and every time I sit down to eat.
Over time, I did find myself eating and exercising like a 200-pound man. Why? Because I had learned how to override the image of a 230-pound man to one who weighed 200 pounds.
My creative subconscious then caused me to eat and exercise like one. And over the years, the weight came off.
Stephen Covey devotes an entire chapter to this in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” He calls this “Begin with the End in Mind.”
Now of course there is a lot more to this that we will be exploring in this column, so hold onto your hats, there is much more to come.
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.