Welcome to the Monday Mindwash. We’re here to give our minds a little scrub, get some of the dirt out. These weekly episodes will challenge your mind, body, and especially those beliefs you store within. Well, you don’t actually think they’re your beliefs, do you?
This week we’re listening to the crazies. You know, those people your mom warned you about that go around and talk to themselves. No doubt that crazy people talk to themselves, but would you believe that the most successful have the same habit? Wait, it gets scarier. Did you know that you talk to yourself already, even if only in your head? Aren’t they’re called thoughts? What you say to yourself, whether silently or out loud, will have an immense impact on your chance for success.
The Dirt: Only psychopaths and crazies talk to themselves
Consider that what we think and say have energy. Imagine that our thoughts inside were physical things, alive, with an energy that could create our world outside. If thoughts are expressed outwardly into words, then words are how we further amplify a thought, like turning up the volume on the radio. The more energy something has, the more impact it has on our environment.
What if most of what we think and say come from others and is not even original? I don’t have fancy statistics for you on this, but my estimation from years of experience is that most people have no more than four or five original thoughts in their entire life. Instead, like a clever parrot, we regurgitate much of what we hear and see, whether it be from parents, society, or marketing. It would not even be unreasonable to consider that marketing is little more than a means of telling us what to think so that we believe it’s our idea to buy their product or service.
What’s more, there is a well-studied phenomenon called the illusory truth effect. This states that we have a tendency to believe something to be correct after repeated exposure. In other words, the more we hear something, the more familiar it becomes. The more familiar it is, the more it feels true and eventually becomes a truth to us. This effect has been shown to survive debunking, labeling false, and correcting after the fact. From the Earth being flat to the fake news stories on Facebook, even once we know something is false, we tend remember and believe the main content, often forgetting the small detail about it being false. This is all fine and dandy IF everything we think and say directs us to win, to build a great life for our family, and to have a successful career.
How does it feel to know that your expectations and attitude in life may be built upon the repetitive falsehoods of society’s hand-me-downs and the marketer’s fancy?
But is what we say to ourselves really serving us or not? This is the big question. Regardless of truth, is it helping us in our mindset to achieve our goal? Our belief in achieving something has a significant effect on our attitude about it. If we believe we can, our attitude is generally more positive and vice versa. When we feel good about doing something, we tend to perform better at it, creating good results and reinforcing our belief that we can do it. If we believe we can’t, then we feel poorly about doing it, we’ll (subconsciously) put in subpar to little effort, and will therefore achieve less than stellar results. We are still reinforcing our belief, this time that we can’t do it. Around and around we go.
Can you see how impactful our attitude is on our belief and eventually our results? If this is the case, then what we say to ourselves is crucial in determining our results in life. Consider what happens when we say, or energize, the following statements.
- That’s just my luck
- I can’t do that, just not cut out for it
- Oh well, what can you do?
- That’s just the way it goes
- Money isn’t everything / can’t make you happy
Is there any surprise that energizing doubt, worry, and hopelessness produce more doubt, worry, and hopelessness?
What if we stopped listening to ourselves and started talking to ourselves?
Imagine we could reprogram ourselves for success, leaving behind much of those beliefs that don’t serve us. That we can directly improving our attitude about anything we wish in our lives, putting us in a better position to win. This will not be an overnight success, but then again, it took decades to program our thoughts that don’t serve us. With time and intention, perhaps we can find a way to upgrade our mental software and create new possibilities.
One method is called the positive affirmation. As stated in the beginning, it’s not just for the mentally ill. I reiterate this because I had bought this lie for the first 30+ years of my life and ignored what I have found to be an invaluable tool in my workshop. It’s like trying to plumb a house without a wrench: incredibly difficult, back breaking, and likely unsuccessful.
A positive affirmation is a statement of expectation (not fact) that energizes that which we want for our future, whether or not we currently believe it to be possible. It is usually expressed verbally, since it is easier to say something you don’t necessarily believe than to think it. While there is no requirement that it be true today, it must be genuinely desired and expected to one day be possible.
A few key points about affirmations:
- They must be written as if already accomplished.
- Not good: “I will be healthier and wealthier”
- Good: “Every day I am healthier and wealthier”
- They must be spoken in order to be energized back into your subconscious
- Read out loud first thing in the morning to set the attitude for the day
- Read out loud in the evening to set your mind for peaceful sleep.
- They must be spoken with emotion. Do not just read the words, imagine how you would feel if it were true already. Use your ”mindsight” to experience it.
- Put several affirmations together into a story. Have fun with it.
- “I’m too blessed to be stressed, too glad to be sad, too elated to be agitated, and too anointed to be disappointed.”
- “I do not procrastinate. Procrastination leads to devastation. It’s the assassination of my destination, thus I will act now.”
- Make them a habit. You have decades of reinforcement on your thoughts and words that don’t serve you. It will take that type of commitment to rewire yourself.
Is it weird? Yes. Would me from 10 years ago kick my own butt if I was caught saying positive things to myself? Yes. The good news is that it’s only weird in the beginning because someone in our past told us it was. Would it be worth it, however, if it worked?
You can be weird and rich or broke and cool. Your choice.
Muhammed Ali was famous for his boasting and brashness, mainly out of the ring. He would let everyone know that he was the greatest that ever lived. The interesting thing is that he was saying it before he had proven himself. Was he just being arrogant? Was he egotistical? Maybe. But what if it weren’t an exaggeration, but instead it was his affirmation? Have you ever considered that he talked about his greatness so much that he started to believe it? Someone with his belief level and work ethic surely could become the greatest.
So how can we take the bad that we say and convert it to something good. Let’s compare a few common disserving thoughts with their positive affirming counterparts. Remember, the affirmation does not have to be true today, just what you would like to be true in the future.
I can’t remember names → I easily remember a name and a face
I struggle to be on time → It is effortless for me to be on time. I excel at time management
Why does everything happen to me? → I’m so blessed that everything happens for me, not to me.
It’s no use → I always find a way.
I can’t quit smoking → I no longer smoke. Smoking is of no interest to me.
Just as a peek into the power of affirmations, let’s take the last example above. If you were a smoker and were to make a commitment to the affirmation “I no longer smoke”, even while you continued to smoke, there can only be one of two outcomes: either you must stop smoking or you must stop saying your affirmation. Doing both simultaneously puts an immense incongruence in your mind. You mind does not like dissonance or dischord. Smoking while affirming the opposite to be true will have to be reconciled at some point. With a stronger commitment to the affirmation, you may find your commitment to the cigarette, well, extinguished.
I am blessed and appreciate you for sharing time with me. I dare you to share this with your five closest friends and family who still fill the air around you with negative, unserving baloney. You just might save a life or two!
“Almighty God was with me. I want everyone to bear witness, I am the greatest! I’m the greatest thing that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face, and I upset Sonny Liston, and I just turned twenty-two years old. I must be the greatest. I showed the world. I talk to God everyday. I know the real God. I shook up the world, I’m the king of the world. You must listen to me. I am the greatest! I can’t be beat!”
— Muhammed Ali (1964)
Meet you at the top (‘cause the bottom’s way too crowded)