“Every man is what he is because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind.”-Napoleon Hill
She was late for dinner. Immediately, my thoughts spiralled out of control and my “thinking mind” was playing havoc with me from calling her irresponsible to downright untrustworthy. She then arrived, all smiles, kissed me and gave me a big hug. Suddenly she was the best thing that had ever happened to me. All my negative thoughts faded and were replaced with pleasing thoughts.
What makes our thoughts so sharply bipolar? How can she go from being untrustworthy to the love of my life in mere seconds?
Thoughts are neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that are released by the brain to allow it to communicate with parts of itself and the nervous system. Thoughts control all our body’s functions and our emotions which in turn affect our behaviour and results.
Scientific research has confirmed the power of thoughts and how they affect our behaviour. However, the most telling thing about how our mind works is that almost 90% of those electrical signals being formed are done so without our conscious consent or to be exact, they occur at the sub-conscious level.
We have two separate minds:
The Conscious mind which represents 5% of our mind is the thinking mind, where we think freely and can accept or reject any idea. It gets information from our five senses and is rooted in the present. E.g. When crossing the road, we hear a car approaching, and we immediately stop.
The Subconscious mind is like a super computer stored with a database of programmed behaviours, most of which we acquired between birth and the age of six. Almost 95% of our thoughts, decisions, emotions, and actions are influenced from the programming in our subconscious mind.
In the example above, my thoughts went astray as our relationship was still new and I was insecure. The programming in my subconscious from a previous relationship which broke down on the grounds of mistrust came into play.
The subconscious is basically running our lives and most of the time we are unaware of our behaviour, and if not addressed quickly enough, our thoughts crystallize into core beliefs which become almost impossible to shift.
However, science has shown that though it’s difficult, we can reprogram the subconscious mind by using some of the techniques below.
1.Stillness of the conscious mind
Our conscious mind is often so noisy that we can’t hear the whispers and murmurs that emanate from the subconscious. Meditation and mindfulness give us the calm and inner peace we often need so that our mind becomes clear enough to open communication between the two minds.
2. Notice Our Environment
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”-Jim Rohn.
Often we find that there are certain people around us, who are well-intentioned but create so much noise around our being that we can’t have the peace and quiet we need.
We can’t leave our conscious minds open to toxic people and negative situations. It’s not easy trying to quit smoking when all our friends smoke. Conversely, it’s much easier to develop a good eating habit when those around you eat well.
I often escape to the beach alone or sit in a quiet place surrounded by birds, trees and the wind where I can purify my conscious mind and so that it can be clear and efficient in affecting the subconscious.
3) Reflection and observation
We need to look at our behaviours so that we are aware of the results in our lives. In this way, we can start catching ourselves when we are in the midst of a tantrum, or during an eating binge that opposes the actions we want. The more we reflect on our results, the more we know where we are headed.
As soon as I find myself getting frustrated or angry, I stop immediately, retreat and take three deep breaths. This action alone has saved me countless moments of rage, anger and going the wrong way.
4) Creating Habits
“In every area of life — from your education to your work to your health — it is your amount of grit, mental toughness, and perseverance predicts your level of success more than any other factor we can find.”-James Clear
Repetition is key to reprogramming the subconscious mind, and so it’s important that we persist in whatever we are trying to impress onto the subconscious mind.
Whether it’s creating new positive behaviours or replacing old negative ones, then the best way to do so is by incorporating habits into our lives.
It’s smarter to split habits into smaller wins so that we make sure we can remain consistent with our actions.
For example, I have created a habit of writing for 30 minutes each day, something that is not so difficult but after six consecutive months, I’ve started reaping the benefits as my writing has improved tremendously, and I’m getting published regularly.
The mind doesn’t know if we are doing something or not and the more we visualize or imagine the desired outcome than the more neural pathways in our brain that we altar and as such we are rewiring our brains.
Michael Phelps, American swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time visualized his races in detail, and usually many times a day. He would “play the movie” over and over so that all of the little things could be done as perfectly as possible, and with as little conscious thought as possible.
6) Taking action
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
If visualization has been proved by science, to rewire our brains, then taking action is likely to have an even larger impact. There is nothing like taking the plunge and getting out of our comfort zone for us to yield the best results in change.
I committed to run four times a week and for four weeks and after a month I had cultivated the habit of running.
We have the power to change our behaviours only when we recognize that we need to address the subconscious, emotional mind through our conscious thinking mind.
We can’t control our past programming, but we can from this moment on, start to create new behaviours by consistently marking the subconscious mind with the actions and results that we want in our lives.