According to many positive psychology theories “achieving happiness” often entails changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and “rewire” your brain. Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.”
So how can you develop new thinking? Let’s imagine that you want to loose some weight:
Instead of focusing on deprivation and starving yourself, ie scarcity, begin your weight loss goal by firstly approaching it sense of curiosity and with a positive mindset of abundance.
(1) firstly, adopt a positive affirmation statement in the present tense such as “I’m happy and grateful that I have lost 5lbs this week” repeat this at least 40 times each morning and then just before you go to sleep for at least a two week period
(2) then, find a photo of yourself when you were slim or a photo of someone else in a magazine who is slim and look at this following each affirmation
(3) Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future
(4) Last but not least, reflect on this statement: you never fail if you never give up
In other words, it’s about moderation not deprivation and adopting a small steps approach such as:
setting a specific realistic goal such as aiming to loose 5lbs by the end of March not something vague like to loose weight.
Sounds simple and perhaps mumbo jumbo doesn’t it? However, I have used this technique with several clients and friends to help them tackle issues such as:
- overcoming procrastination
- overcoming addictions
- overcoming shyness and social phobia
- overcoming anxiety and exhaustion
- overcoming loneliness
The results have often been astounding. Having said that though, most of these clients have undertaken a few counselling or coaching sessions with me, before adopting the above exercise in order to achieve their goals.
What’s the primary principle behind this techique?
The subconscious mind operates 95% of your life and only 5% of what you are thinking or perceiving is your conscious mind. The subconscious mind works most effectively with pictures and imagery so you want to take advantage of that, ie the photos. Once you train your subconscious mind to focus on the things that you want then your performance starts to follow because your performance is always aligned with your subconscious mind.
Also as children we picked up messages from parents, peers, teachers and society, not always positive, that literally form the 95% that we are not conscious of and this 95% is really running the show often resulting in fears and doubts that cause us to procrastinate or to feel stuck and demotivated.
- don’t dream like this
- you can never have this kind of house
- don’t set yourself up for failure
- you can never run your own business it’s too risky
We then blame our doubts and fears on the external world and we play the victim but the reality is it is our own selfs we are our own saboteurs.
The weight loss exercise is an ideal tool to reprogramme your subconscious and of course your unhealthy, scarcity mindset.
Does any of this sound familiar? What can you do about it?
Be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you’ve probably fallen victim to the scarcity trap and mind set. Naturally, the reason will be different for each person and remember you’re not alone in this very common dilemma…
So take action today, International Day of Happiness, and take control of your negative internal chatter box alias “inner critic”.