Let me explain.
All of us must live in the present, so to create “Goals that work,” let’s learn how to take those goals and put them in the present…where you and are living…so they actually do work.
Here’s an example!
I tried to lose weight for 25 years by giving myself pep talks. I would look in the mirror and exclaiming, “You are a 230 pound man who will lose 40 pounds!” When I said that, my brain said, “Ok. Good luck! Hope you do. I’m going to go take a nap! First of all, I have NO idea what’s going to happen in the future, and second, I’m so buy dealing with present, I don’t concentrate on the future.”
When I finally did lose the weight, it came off when I brought a future goal into my present. That goal became “I feel so great about myself and feel so light and eat so little because I weigh only 190 pounds…today” even though none of this was true at the time. However, over time this became the stronger picture. When I now sit down to eat my desire to eat a lot is very small. Why? Because the strongest picture I have of myself is one of a 190 pound man who eats like a 190 pound man.
The statement, “I feel so great about myself and feel so light and eat so little because I weigh only 190 pounds;” is called an “affirmation.” It is not magical, and does not make supernatural changes. It is nothing more than a statement that I am declaring to be true, before it actually is.
An affirmation is simply a statement that you are declaring to be true – to no one else but yourself. It then triggers a picture in your mind of a goal as if it has been already accomplished.
It would be a lie if I had told everybody I was a 190-pound man for the two years it took me to lose that weight. But I was not telling anyone else. I was simply saying this to my mind repeatedly as a belief about myself before it happened, and as we have learned in this column, The brain accepts what you tell it without argument. So it was NOT a lie to MY mind, for my mind accepted it as the truth.
An Important Note
I have said in previous columns that there are some self-images that “you would love to throw out.” The research has shown however, that other than by a pre-frontal lobotomy, that is impossible. Our self-images are hard-wired into the neurons of our brain as patterns, so they will always be there.
However, over a year, my self-image as a 190-pound man became the strongest picture. The old self-image of the 230-pound man is still floating around my brain someplace, but I have not paid attention to it for years.
Words, Pictures, and Feelings
There is one final we must understand about how our brain works.
I said many times in this column that while I am talking to you, you are talking to yourself three times faster.
How is this possible?
The reason is the great majority of our thoughts are not in words, but in pictures and feelings. For instance, when I think of my wife Mary, I don’t picture her as a written description in a book. I see her as a picture in my mind’s eye…and along come the feelings! Since most of our thoughts take this form, we can think of something in a fleeting moment that would take pages of words to describe. Even one picture in our thoughts can be saturated with meaning that hundreds of verbal words would be required to explain.
Pictures are therefore an important part of affirmations because in order for affirmations to work, they must become the stronger picture than the one you have of yourself now. Why? Because as we have learned, our brain seeks the strongest picture.
Dr. David Bressler, head of the UCLA pain clinic, works with people suffering from chronic pain. These people experience suffering, some the results of injuries and others the result of causes unknown. One of the successful forms of therapy involves the use of visual images in the mind. In this process of mental imagery, Dr. Bressler sometimes has the patients visualize what the pain looks like. Once they have a visual image of the pain in mind, they work on changing the image of the pain, reducing its size and intensity. In the process the actual pain is also reduced.
It does not happen overnight!
We also need to remind ourselves that change…long-term change…does not take place overnight. It has taken a lifetime for some of the self-images you have to be formed, so it will take some time to form some new ones.
Before you get discouraged, realize this! Your old life ended…about a second ago. And your new life began…about a second ago. Since there are 86,400 seconds in every 24-hour day; that means you are given 86,400 opportunities to begin your new life…every single day.