Once you understand the effect your mental programming has on your life, use these simple strategies to overcome dysfunctional patterns and ensure future success.
The first article in this 3-part series (“3 Parts of Your Mind That Affect Your Ability to Make Decisions“) explained the basic makeup of your mind, how your mind differs from your brain, and the complicated role your unconscious mind plays in making decisions.
The second article (“Think You’re in Control? You’re Not. How Mental Programs are Running Your Life“) explained how subconscious programming from seemingly inconsequential childhood events affects your adult decisions. This final article ties all three together with 5 simple strategies to stop sabotaging yourself and get real results.
Now that you understand your mind and how seemingly inconsequential events from your childhood are influencing your adult decisions, you’re probably ready to overwrite that defective code. Keep in mind though: these programs were created as protective mechanisms. There’s no point in writing a new program while you’re beating yourself up and thinking you were stupid to have created the program in the first place. We all have old programs running; what’s important is identifying the ones that no longer serve us and upgrading our system when appropriate.
So, if you’re ready for an upgrade, here are 5 simple strategies to change your dysfunctional programming so you can stop self-sabotaging. I’ve also noted at which level of your mind you’re primarily using to make the change (just in case you’re curious). Remember, all of the programs live and run in your subconscious mind, but you can use either your conscious mind or your subconscious mind to change and reinforce new programs.
1. Use that pattern-detecting brain of yours to identify the programs that need to change. (Conscious Mind)
This is the most important strategy on this list. If you always get sick when it’s tax season, can never stand up to the office bully, or find yourself in the same miserable situation over and over again, chances are you’re running a subconscious program that is causing it to happen. After all, you are the common denominator in all those situations, as well as the one thing you have power to change.
Once you’ve recognized it, examine your pattern. You may be able to figure out where it originated, and you may not. What’s important is being aware of it. Once you can identify the problem, you’re more easily able to fix it.
2. Do affirmations and/or mantra meditation. (Conscious Mind, or Subconscious Mind if you’re an advanced meditator who can get to a very deep level of relaxation)
Affirmations and mantras are similar, but not exactly the same. Mantras are short phrases, sentences, or even single words you repeat in a relaxed, meditative state. Sometimes prayer beads are used (called a mala) to keep track of the number of times you’ve said the statement. These are completely optional.
Affirmations are sentences you craft to repeat (similar to mantras). These are stated in the present tense, using positive language, and as if you already have whatever it is you want. The idea is that when you act as if you already have something you will magnetize the state of having. If you continually repeat that you want something, you magnify the state of wanting, which is characterized by lack. (If you had it already, you wouldn’t go on and on about wanting it, would you?) Affirmations are most often used in a normal conscious state (as opposed to during meditation), and frequently written out and posted in places you’ll see regularly (such as your bathroom mirror).
Both of these work by repeatedly reinforcing whatever it is you want to achieve. This frequent repetition creates a new pattern–the more you repeat the mantra or affirmation, the deeper the grooves are cut into the record (and the more the neural pathways in the brain are strengthened).
3. Create a vision board. (Conscious Mind)
I explained this in detail in this excerpt from my book The Magic of Mojo: The Creative Power Behind Success. The basic idea is that you create a visual representation of what you want as a shortcut for your subconscious mind. This visually reinforces your goals as opposed to affirmations and mantras which reinforce them auditorily (even if you’re saying them inside your head).
4. Adjust your language; say what you really mean. (Conscious Mind)
Words have power. Hyperbole may be a great way to get your point across, but your subconscious mind is quite literal. If you say, “I’m starving,” your subconscious might decide to store your next meal as body fat–to prevent your impending death from lack of food. If you say you want to quit smoking, your subconscious might respond, “but I don’t want to be a quitter!” If you tell yourself you want to lose weight, your subconscious might remember that when you lose something, you usually want to find it again.
If something is important to you, pay particular attention to the words you use to speak about it. Pretend every word is the magic word that will become true the instant you speak it aloud (or even think it).
5. Get hypnotherapy. (Subconscious Mind)
Hypnosis is the fastest route to changing your mental programming since it bypasses the conscious mind and works directly with the subconscious mind. If you find a qualified hypnotherapist, they will often record the sessions for you so you can reinforce the new programs on your own. You can also purchase hypnosis CDs/ MP3s, but they won’t be personalized to your specific patterns so you have to decide if the programs you want to change are generalized enough to fit the recordings or if you need more individualized attention.
Depending on your choice of strategy, changing your mental programs can be quick or slow. You may even find yourself backtracking after many months of successfully implementing new programs. This is normal. Just continue to reinforce your desired programs and you will notice a difference.