Rewriting Your Own Personal History
Many of us are convinced that we are hopelessly linked to our past.
We say to ourselves, “After all, doesn’t my upbringing as a kid, or what I did or did not do remain a part of me all my life?”
It is the idea that your past remains all-important; that because something once strongly influenced your life, it must keep determining the feelings you have about yourself, and what you do today.
We tell ourselves that we couldn’t possibly be more active at this or that because we’ve never done it before. We say to ourselves “I couldn’t possibly return to school” or “Starting a new relationship is too scary” or “I have always failed at loosing that weight and keeping it off” or “Trying a new venture has always been scary to me” or “I’ve always had a bad temper!” or “I have always had trouble doing this or that!” or “I know I’ll fail again because I have failed before.”
Many of us think that the damages we have made in the past means we can’t change today!
Rubbish! Cognitive psychologists actually call this an irrational belief.
SOME WONDERFUL LIFE-CHANGING DISCOVERIES!
There is now incontrovertible evidence (“A Guide to Rational Living, Albert Ellis, Ph.D.”, “The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D,” “Get Out of Your Own Way, Robert Cooper, Ph.D.” “Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman, Ph.D.” “My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.” and on and on and on) which indicates that we are connected to our past only because we choose to!
The influences you experienced as a child do not linger into who you are today just because you experienced them! No, they linger because you “still believe the stuff and nonsense which you were originally taught.” (Dr. Ellis, Page 188) In other words, they are influencing you because you are choosing to believe they do!
Don’t feel bad! You are not alone with this, Most of us believe that because something once badly affected our lives, we must remain that way throughout our lives. Cognitive psychologists call these “Irrational beliefs.”
Here are four ways they can be quite damaging.
- We are overgeneralizing. Just because something happened in the past hardly proves that it must continue in the present.
- We cease to look for alternative By allowing ourselves to remain locked to our past, we forget there are other solutions out there.
- Behaviors which may have been healthy at one time may be decidedly unhealthy today. What you did in the past does not often work in the present!
- Transference Effects. This simply means that we transfer our feelings about people or things in our past life to people and things in our present. We rebel against our boss today because he or she reminds you of our parents’ high-handed order of forty years ago.
THE WONDERFUL NEWS!
So…How do you get the influences of your past out of your system? The same way you them into your system!
Let me explain. I never passed elementary school math because I always drew dinosaurs in class rather than pay attention to my teachers. Why? Because I believed I could never understand all ‘those numbers, especially when they began teaching the “New Math” in 1956. While my past math teachers did influenced then, the greatest influence by far was by own belief that I could not understand math. I chose to believe that I was horrible at math. And since our brain believes everything we tell it, my brain believed it to!
However, when I was 42, I decided to change that belief about me and math, and ended up writing two college textbooks on computer software, and…MATH!
So here are two ways to put our past aside.
- Accept the fact that your past does influence you in some However, also accept the fact that your present life is your past of tomorrow.
Think of this, dear reader. Do you know when you past ended? ONE SECOND AGO. So when did your new life begin. ONE SECOND AGO!
Now…do the math. If there are 60 seconds per minute, and 60 minutes per hour, and 24 hours per day, in one day, you have 86,400 new opportunities for a new life by changing what you are saying to yourself, about yourself, staring now.
- Your past is a gift to you! Use mistakes you have made in your past as a tutor for your future. Instead of unthinkingly repeating mistakes because you once made them, think of them as a gift you have been given to learn from.
- Remember that your past has passed! It has no magical automatic effect on the present, unless you choose to believe it does. Your past does make it harder, but harder, but not impossible! Work, time, practice and more practice, thinking, imagining and doing – all of these are effective keys to unlock almost any chest of past defeats, and help fill it with present successes and enjoyments.
Many Americans work up Wednesday morning feeling absolutely stunned…then afraid…confused…and some even angry.
However…did you know that your feelings are not coming from the election!
They are coming from your beliefs about the election.
This is a principle that was suggested back in a little book titled “A Guide to Rational Living,” written by Dr. Albert Ellis…the second most influential psychologist in the history of psychology!
He suggested that our feelings do NOT come from what is happening to us, or how we were raised, or events in our lives. They come from our beliefs about what is happening to us…our beliefs about how we were raised…our beliefs about events in our lives.
And dear reader…we can change those beliefs! And when we do, our feelings…follow!
Let me illustrate. Imagine that your name is Joe and we’ve been friends for years. One Saturday morning, I show up on your front porch with a shovel. “Hi Joe! Can I dig a hole in your back yard?”
“Ok, go ahead.” So I go to your back yard and start digging a hole. As you watch me digging, beliefs begin forming in your mind. “We’ve been friends for years…Steve knows that today is my birthday. He also knows I love trees. Oh! That’s what Steve is doing! He’s digging a hole in my back yard to plant a tree for my birthday! Oh Steve….you’re so sweet. Call Mary over and we’ll have pizza tonight to celebrate my birthday!”
However, here’s another scenario. We HATE each other, and I show up on your front porch one Saturday morning, and announce that I’m digging a hole in your back yard. As you watch me, your beliefs are completely different. You believe that I am digging a hole to bury you in it. Your feelings are then angry and fearful and hateful.
Now…watch this! Same Joe…same Steve…same Saturday morning…same front porch… same back yard… same shovel…same hole…but completely different beliefs.
AND COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FEELINGS!
Our feelings follow our beliefs!
Now.. our brains believe everything we tell them…without question.
So…when you believe certain things about the election, your feelings are coming from those beliefs. In addition, your brain is then doing everything it can to make those beliefs come true.
That’s its job!
Perhaps we can change our beliefs from something bad is happening to America, to the need to saturate America with prayer, especially prayer for our new president…that God would turn him into one of the best presidents we have ever had.
God can do that, you know.
He took a man named Saul, who was such a radical in his time that would have been a leader of ISIS today, brought him to Christ, changed his name to Paul, and had him write a third of the Old Testament.
God can do that with Donald Trump!
Perhaps the best thing that has come out of this election is that it has brought Americans to their knees in prayer.
Maybe that’s the best place we could be!
Do Affirmations Actually Work!
“I am getting better and better every day in every way” “I am losing weight without effort”!
“I am a money magnet and money flows into my way!”
Affirmations like these are nothing new. They were first popularized by French psychologist Emile Coué back in the 1920s, and have been bandied about by the likes of Napoleon Hill, Anthony Robbins and countless other self-help gurus. The question is, do they actually work?
Well….according to the latest research…yes and no, and even the “yes” is a qualified “yes.”
Let me explain.
Consider the last time you really wanted something badly. It might have been to lose weight, a dream job, or an ideal relationship. Having read all the right books, you used positive affirmations in all the suggested ways. You wrote them on a card and repeated them over and over in your head.
However, in the vast majority of cases, they didn’t last; and here’s the really sad part. You end up berating yourself for “not doing the affirmations correctly,” or you “were somehow undeserving,” or maybe, “it was simply not meant to be.”
Remember dear reader; most affirmations are targeting changes that have been lodged in your unconscious for most of your life! In addition, when the changes don’t line with how you see yourself, there’s quite a struggle. Why? Because our brain hates change! “What if it doesn’t work!” “What if you don’t like the change?” “You’ve tried this before!” “Stay the way you are!”
This conflict creates a lot of tension, and your negative beliefs become even stronger as your mind and body fight for survival. This is the reason that, frankly, most affirmations do not work, and you regain the weight, lose the job, or injure a relationship.
However, there is a simple method you can use, apply immediately and have instant and excellent results.
In 2010, Senay I, Albarracín D, Noguchi K. published a groundbreaking study titled “Motivating Goal-Directive Behavior,”[i] which discovered that asking questions of ourselves, rather than making ‘declarative statements” (i.e. affirmations) may be significantly more successful in bringing about the permanent changes we desire.
In their study, four groups of participants were asked to solve anagrams. (An ‘anagram’ is a word, formed by rearranging the letters of another word, such as “cinema” formed from “iceman.”) Before completing the task, the researchers told them that they were interested in handwriting practices and asked them to write 20 times on a sheet of paper either: “I will,” “Will I,” “I” or “Will.” The group that wrote “Will I” solved nearly twice as many anagrams as any of the other groups.
From this and similar studies the researchers conducted, they found that asking questions of ourselves is far more powerful than declaring something to ourselves through an affirmation.
Why are questions more powerful? Because they turn our mind into an ally and friend, while declarative statements make it a disciplinary school master. There are three reasons for this: 1.) Questions cause us to probe for answers, 2.) Questions cause us search for the resources we need to make the change, and 3.) Questions activate our curiosity.
When I wrote Making Your Mind Magnificent, its original titled was “Making Your Mind Your Mentor.” The publishers changed it, but I like my title better. Why? Because a mentor is someone who sees more in you then you see in yourself, and permanent change comes when your mind is working with you, not against you.
All that is required is a simple tweak.
Imagine you are giving a presentation and feeling nervous. You may find yourself declaring: “I’m terrible at presentations; they never go well for me.” You therefore create a declarative affirmation: “I am delivering a great presentation that inspires my audience.”
Can you already sense the tension? Both of these statements are declarative statements that apply a kind of external pressure to your mind. The “Motivating Goal-Directive Behavior” study discovered that it is this tension which actually prevents your mind from accessing the mental resources and creativity it needs to make any kind of changes.
However, tweak the above statements so they become questions: “Am I terrible at presentations? Have they ever gone well for me?” Or: “Will I deliver a great presentation that inspires my audience?” Potential answers may be: “I get shy and nervous and people switch off when I talk. However, in my last presentation, I made a point that people found interesting and I really had their attention. How could I expand on that?”
Or: “The last presentation that I did went well. What did I do that worked and how could I do more of that?” Or “When I lost that weight, what was I doing different? Who said I can’t go back to that…not perfectly…but then…nobody is perfect!”
This powerful strategy works is more effective because it acknowledges the negative feelings that come from being human. When they are acknowledged, your mind becomes your greatest ally, which elicits its cooperation, which then enables it to come up with fantastic creative, stuff.
Tweaking your affirmations from a statement to a question elicits your curiosity and creativity! More importantly, it puts an end to that draining inner struggle. It also doesn’t cost you anything and makes your mind your mentor and closest friend.
[i] Senay, I., Albarracín, D., & Noguchi, K. (2010). Motivating Goal-Directed Behavior Through Introspective Self-Talk: The Role of the Interrogative Form of Simple Future Tense. Psychological Science 21(4), 499-504.
A Magnificent Reason for Optimism
Can you read the following sentence?
7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 7H15 LIN3 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17!
The reason you can read this is because your brain has ALREADY created a pattern for every word you know, and instantly recognizes them by finding that pattern and then bringing them forward! THEY ARE IN YOUR BRAIN ALREADY!
So…can you imagine how many trillions of patterns your brain must be carrying around right now?
Now couple this with the fact that while I am talking to you, you are talking to yourself many times faster.
And…your brain accepts this self-talk without question! No arguments!
So when you say, “No way! I can’t do that!” the mind simply says, “OK…you can’t!” and then blocks out ways for you to do it.
THE PRIMARY REASON FOR BEING OPTIMISTIC in 2014
So what is the primary reason for being more optimistic? By realizing that when you say, “Absolutely…I CAN do that!” the brain not only accepts what you say just as quickly, IT ACTUALLY HELPS YOU FIND A WAY TO DO IT!
So realize this…that the primary element…that holds you back…from learning and growing and changing…is what you say to yourself.
So…a new way of thinking is to immediately throw away any notions that you are too old, or too young, or too uneducated, or too stuck in our ways to grow and learn and change. We can grow and change as much as we really want to!