The first part of the Triad of Change we looked at our focus, or what we focus on. To obtain lasting change, we have to focus on (think about) things that are positive, rather than obsessing over negative things and the past. If you are always looking back at the past, you will stumble moving forward. Try walking while looking constantly behind you, and you will soon stumble or run into something. Whatever we think about or focus on is what we will become. So to make changes in your life, you have to first change that on which you constantly focus. If you focus on the fact that the last 3 times you applied for a promotion at work you were denied, your brain and body will respond negatively, and jeopardize your future chances of promotion, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t focus on the past, focus on the possible. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says in the title of his bestselling book, “Change your thoughts, change your life.”
The second part of the Triad of Change is communication or language. Specifically, the messages we tell ourselves or the language we use to communicate with ourselves, controls our brain. Recent studies in the field of neuroscience reveal that the human brain processes perceived events in the same neural pathways that it processes actual events. For example, if you watch a scary movie where someone is being chased by an ax murderer wielding an ax, your brain releases the exact same chemicals to your system as if YOU were being chased by the ax murderer yourself. This is why normal humans get so fired up when we see abuse, particularly of children. Because when you hear someone say to a child, “you’re so stupid” your brain releases the exact same chemicals to your body that it would release if someone said to you, “you’re so stupid.” Conversely, this is why movies and media with “sex scenes” are so popular. When you watch someone else receiving pleasure, your brain releases the same chemicals to your system as if you were receiving that pleasure yourself.
To make permanent, lasting change in any area of your life, change the messages you are sending to your brain. Instead of saying, “I’ve tried three times before to get this promotion and they always turn me down,” say something like, “I now have the skills and resources to add value to my company in this area, and this promotion is going to help both me and the company grow.”
Have you ever heard a song and got it stuck in your head. No matter how hard you try, it keeps popping back up? You find yourself humming or singing along? That’s because the song got mapped into a part of your brain for short term memory. There have been lots of recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity related to this topic that we can use to our advantage. Create your own song, and recite it over and over until it gets mapped into your brain. Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins uses “incantations” to communicate positive, uplifting, powerful messages to himself on a daily basis. Author John Maxwell also follows a daily ritual where he does the same 5 things every day, no matter what, even on holidays. Write a mantra, a list of affirmations, some motivational quotes, a personal mission statement, or something similar that you can repeat to yourself over and over to motivate and inspire you to the greatness that lies dormant within you. Repeat this message to your self as you walk, on your breaks at work, during lunch, while you exercise, while you shower, as soon as you arise, while falling asleep at night, until it becomes mapped into your brain, so engrained that you can easily quote it by heart. This will reprogram your brain so that you start to see what is possible.
Communicate to yourself out loud. Don’t just think about your new positive messages, but actually say them to yourself out loud, in the mirror, in the car, on the treadmill, or while walking down the sidewalk or even mowing the grass. Others may look at you funny, or even laugh, but so what? You have to do the things today that others wont, to become tomorrow what others can’t.
If a negative thought or message pops into your head, immediately replace it with your positive message. At the same time, be in charge of what you expose yourself to in terms of others. If you are hanging around people who tell you that you can’t do something, you will ultimately believe them because of “social proof.” A classic example of social proof is Roger Banister who was the first man to run a 4 minute mile. Science had always said that it was impossible for a human to run a mile in under 4 minutes, and no runner had ever been recorded running a mile in under 4 minutes, so everyone believed it was impossible. Then Roger Banister did it, and within just a few months dozens of others runners did it too. Maybe you will be the first to do something. So what. Good for you. Blaze new trails. Be a leader.
So the first part of the Triad of Change is what you focus on, and the second part is the language you use to communicate with yourself. In our final article in this series we will look at the third component to lasting and permanent change.