In my last post I talked about how our past conditioning can create our reality or in other words form the idea of how good you are and what you are capable of achieving. Today I want to focus on the reinforcement process, also known as the “Self Talk” we use to further build the idea of who you are. We have all encountered naysayers in our everyday life, from our family, coaches, peers, etc. Ultimately, it is our choice to give sanction to the criticism and opinions they have of us. However, there exists a voice so powerful that we are ultimately unable to counteract what it has to say. In fact you are 100% guaranteed to listen regardless of how insulting or negative the critique may be.
Who is this person you ask? Well, if you haven’t figured it out already, it’s you! It’s the voice inside your head that is constantly assessing your current state and being. Have you heard it recently? Perhaps it’s talked to you in the following situation:
Social Functions You’ve been invited to a social function that you are dreading going to. You reluctantly accept the invite with a forced smile on your face, however deep down you are cringing at the thought of being there. Day by day before the event you begin telling your self why you’re going to have a bad time:
- I would rather be somewhere else!
- I don’t know anybody who is going!
- I wont feel comfortable because of X, Y, & Z reasons.
Finally the day of the event arrives and as you foretold the reasons above begin to play out a little like this:
- As you arrive you instantly begin thinking of the other things going on such as your friends party or watching your favorite TV show on your comfy couch. You Immediately begin to compare those preferred events to the one you are at.
- You don’t know anybody at this party! You find an inconspicuous spot where you can text your friends and tell them how much you hate being here. Perhaps you’ll even update your Facebook status and rant about how bored you are.
- All of the sudden, that drowsiness you were feeling is amplified times 3 and now you feel groggy and grumpy. This was one of the main reasons you didn’t want to go in the first place.
Has something along those lines ever happened to you? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Setting Yourself Up For Failure”. When we visualize having a bad time, 9 out of 10 times we will indeed have a bad time. When we set ourselves up for failure, we are basically reinforcing and giving sanction to an idea which stems from our perceived reality. When we do this, we are then forced to act in accordance to that idea. The money question is this: Why and how does this work? The answer has to do with the way the brain is segmented and how it operates.
Let’s take a very simplified look into how our brain works. Without getting too complex, lets segment the brain into three parts: The Conscious, Subconscious, & Creative Subconscious.
- Conscious – What you know and perceive to be real (Your Reality)
- Subconscious – This consists of your storied memory or your thoughts and experiences from the past which have shaped you into the person you are today. When someone says you subconsciously feel a certain way, it refers to your true feelings or automatic reaction based on your memory.
- Creative Subconscious – The creative subconscious job is to “Maintain Sanity”. In other words it makes sure that “Your Reality” stays in tact. Have you ever seen a cartoon where an angel and a devil pops up on someones shoulder to give them advice? Think of the angel as your “creative subconscious” as the angel generally gives sound advice which is within your comfort zone. The devil on the other hand gives you advice which is abnormal in accordance to how you normally act which could be categorized as an “Insane”. To wrap it up, your creative subconscious is that voice within you which is constantly talking to you to ensure that you act in accordance with your reality to prevent you from doing something stupid.
Now that you have an idea of how the brain works, perhaps you can see how it applies to the party example I gave above. To get the full effect of the articles I write, I recommend applying them to situations in your own life. To break the ice, I’ll share an example from my experience working in China.
At the age of 18, I made the choice to study Mandarin at a university in Shanghai, China. Prior to that day I didn’t speak a word of Chinese due to growing up with my Mother where we only spoke English. After a couple of years of formal Chinese lessons I began working a corporate job in a Chinese company. Active participation & presentations were required in Chinese every Monday of the week. I personally was not very confident in my level of Chinese, because of this I would get extremely stressed out for these meetings and 9 out of 10 times I would feel embarrassed due to my performance. This in turn would lead to bouts of depression and other negative feelings regarding myself, and how much I sucked! Let’s break this situation down by looking at how the brain processed this situation:
- Conscious – My reality or my belief was that my Chinese level was below what was required to work & communicate at an efficient level.
- Subconscious – This belief derived my memories and past experiences. Some of these experiences were not being able to communicate with Chinese people in daily situations, submitting Chinese reports and being criticized by my superior, & lastly being told by other foreign students that my Chinese level was terrible for the amount of time that I had studied the language. Day by day I would relate every situation which required me to use the language to these past experiences and further build and give sanction to my belief that my Chinese level was indeed bad.
- Creative Subconscious – Because my belief was so strong at this point in time, my creative subconscious was now in full effect making sure that my sanity was maintained. In other words, my belief was that my Chinese level was not good! Therefore I would subconsciously do anything and everything to avoid feeling uncomfortable or looking like an idiot. For example: instead of practicing with my Chinese peers, I would actively avoid communication because I feared making a mistake.
You see how your mind can work against you? In my quest to become a high performance individual, this information changed my life. I recognized that in order to truly improve myself, I needed to change my belief, eliminate the experiences holding me back, & step out of my comfort zone! Today, I effectively communicate with Chinese millionaires & am the executive president of a Chinese staffed company which deal directly with affluent Chinese clientele. None of this would have been possible without changing the voice within that was holding me back.
For most people, the voice within is working against us. It is constantly trying to check us and maintain the idea of how good we are thus preventing improvement. NO MORE! Starting today, without getting too technical, I want you to attack the problem at its surface. The next time you encounter a situation and your inner voice kicks in, I want you to change its words to motivate and encourage rather than bring you down. Change “You’re not good enough” or “You are nervous because X, Y, & Z” to things like “You are amazing”, “These people are interested in you”, & “You deserve to be here”!
High performance people are fearless & experimental. They approach strangers with ease, try new things everyday, & adapt with flying color simply because the voice within is working for them versus against them.
If you’ve made it to the end of this blog entry, start your next thought by telling your self how amazing you are for being open to ideas and the thoughts expressed here because you truly do wish to become a more efficient person in life & career. That’s what I tell myself, and whats why I am truly thankful for anyone who does feel this way about my writing 🙂
Thank you for reading!