Self image is strongest picture available to you
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By Steven Campbell  July 11, 2014 12:00 am

Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bicycle? Your father or mother ran alongside while your hands desperately clung to the steering handles. They then pointed out a rock in the middle of the dirt road 50 feet ahead, and warned you, “Now don’t you run into that rock!” And to keep yourself from running into that rock, you kept your eyes fastened to it. You know what happened? Bam…right into the rock!

This illustrates an amazing brain principle. Our brains are teleological; they seek the strongest picture. They are like a guided missile. Just as a missile seeks objects, we seek pictures or ideas. Unlike a bullet, which never veers from its path, we are continually correcting ourselves to find whatever target for which we are searching. And what is that target? It is simply the strongest picture. And that strongest picture is found in your self-image.

For example, when I weighed 230 pounds, my strongest picture (i.e., my self-image) was that of a 230-pound man. My brain then locked onto that image.

However, as I began to learn the principles I’m writing about here, I began seeing myself as a 200-pound man, and as this new picture became the stronger one, I found myself eating and exercising like a 200-pound man. Over two years, the 30 pounds gradually came off.

All of this is accomplished through your self-talk. You give yourself an idea of what you are seeking. If you don’t, your mind simply keeps you the way you are, with no change. 


Sarah’s story

The best example for understanding how our brains follow the strongest picture is the story of Sarah’s birth, our youngest daughter.

When she was delivered, she was barely breathing. After she was admitted to Children’s Hospital, the pediatrician told me she had about a 50 percent chance of living.

It felt like an arrow had pierced my heart.

My sister Sallee, who was a perinatal RN, met me at the hospital, sat me down in the waiting room, looked at me squarely in the eyes and declared, “You cannot give up on this child!” “Sallee,” I protested, “she is only three hours old. What do you mean?”

“I mean that it is up to you to give her the desire to get well. You must paint an amazingly vivid picture of the wonderful place she is going home to, rather than the picture she now has of lying in a perinatal intensive care ward so heavily medicated she cannot move.

“Sallee, she can’t even see me or hear me! What good can I do?”

“I’ll repeat it again, Steve. It is up to you to give her a stronger picture; a picture of your wire-haired fox terrier licking at her face when she comes home, or her older sister holding her in that big brown chair.”

So, for the next five days, I stood by her isolette talking to her for about 12 hours a day, stroking her back. Frankly, much of the time, I did not see how my standing and talking could be doing any good.

On about the fourth day, the pediatrician told me they were at a critical stage in her care. You and I normally breathe about 30 percent oxygen, while Sarah was receiving 100 percent. He told me that over time, this is very destructive, and that she must somehow lower her oxygen requirements over the next 12 hours or else they would have to lower the oxygen intake themselves then just wait and see.

At my wit’s end, I went home and brought back my guitar. For the entire night I stood by the isolette singing gentle children’s songs to her, touching her back, talking to her, telling her about her sister, our dog “Tobe,” and all the wonderful things she has to look forward to.

When they took her blood gas levels the next morning, her oxygen requirements had decreased from 100 percent to 40 percent in 12 hours, and she was home with us three days after that.

I believe, and the pediatrician agreed, that Sarah’s magnificent mind saw a stronger picture at home. It simply said, “Enough of this! I want to go home now and meet my sister.”

This leads us to another brain principle. We move towards and become that which we think about, and our present thoughts determine our future. In other words, we move physically and emotionally toward that which we think about. This is the reason that worrying can be so destructive. Worrying is simply negative goal setting.

Studies have also shown that significantly successful people think in the future, as if it has already happened. Stephen Covey, in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” lists this as the second habit, and titles it “Begin with the End in Mind.” We lose that weight because we already see ourselves as weighing 120, or 140, or 200 pounds a year before we have actually lost it. 

If you are to change, learn and grow, you can learn to think this way. 

You can learn how to make what you want for your future the strongest picture, and the brain will follow it like a guided missile follows a target.


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 For more information, go to 

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