How to influence your mind
If you want to succeed in anything in life you need to know how to influence your mind. You need to know how to make your mind do what you want it to do, not what you don’t.
Have you ever noticed how we are surrounded by messages like 'Don't drink and drive' 'Don't forget your passport' 'Don't touch the button! 'Don't eat junk!' And how many times have you have ended up doing the very thing you were told not to? Why is that? The answer lies in understanding how the mind processes information.
For many years I have tried to explain to my clients how to successfully influence their mind but only recently I have come across an explanation that is both simple and accurate. I will borrow and adapt Marisa Peer's framework to make it very clear how to effectively communicate with your own mind.
Hack 1: Your Mind Does What it thinks you want it to
Since the moment you come into this world your mind has one job: to keep you alive for as long as possible. It does that by taking you away from pain and moving you towards pleasure.
It is easy for your mind to know what gives you physical pain, but how about psychological pain? After all an event could be pleasurable for some and painful for others. Some people love to jump off planes with a parachute. For others that would be the picture of hell.
To know what is psychologically painful or pleasurable to you your mind gathers information based on how you interpret events. It does this by listening to what you say to yourself and noticing the positive or negative meaning you assign to them.
Once your mind knows what you think is good or bad for you it will transform that into a belief that will inform your future actions. So if you think snakes are fun you will get excited by the prospect on handling pythons.
If on the other hand you tell yourself that talking to a stranger is hell then your mind will most probably make sure you avoid all social situations so that you are not in danger of suffering.
Hack 2: Your Mind Responds to only two things
Your mind is always listening and it responds to only two things: the words you say to yourself ( inside your own head and out loud ) and the pictures you make in your mind.
It does not distinguish between what you imagine and what you actually experience so it responds to what you imagine as if it was real.
The words you say to yourself automatically produce pictures in your head. It is not possible to stop this from happening by using negation because negative words are not ‘picture words’.
For example: if I said to you: 'don’t imagine a red bus parked by the side of a hill covered in snow in the middle of a winter storm’ you would imagine the red bus on the hill covered in snow. And I bet you have just done that, haven’t you?
When you remind yourself of what you don’t want your mind doesn’t register the negatives, and moves you towards the very things you don’t want.
So when you spend all your time saying to yourself: I hate performing, performing is hell, I am going to forget all the words, I am going to make a fool of myself, my mouth is going to go dry, performing is torture, I am terrified, I’d rather die than perform, I am terrible at speaking in public etc, your mind is listening and encoding performing as painful.
Its job is to keep you away from pain, remember? So when it hears your words it goes: Torture? Hell? Hate? You’d rather die? It responds with”: I’d better get you out of it then! Perhaps I’ll give you a panic attack or the flu, or a migraine or I’ll make you lose your voice! (This happened to me so many times it’s not funny)
The moral of the story is: be very careful what you say to yourself. Don’t use negation. Never imagine what you don’t want. Imagine what you do!
Hack 3: Emotion trumps logic
Your thoughts control your feelings, your feelings control your actions and your actions influence events. How you interpret these events will influence your thinking and the loop will go on.
Once you have said something negative to yourself such as “I am terrified of speaking in front of an audience’ or ‘I always botch up my interviews’ this thought will produce a negative emotion in you.
This emotion will produce a physical reaction such as a nervous stomach or bowel or shaky hands or a trembling voice. You cannot control this chain of events because it’s an automatic response.
So if you want to change how you behave you need to change your feelings and to change your feelings you need to change your thinking first. Now, thoughts sometimes come automatically to you, out of habit.
If you have spent your entire life saying to yourself that you suck at speaking in public that is the first thought that will come to mind when you think of speaking in public. Once you become aware of that thought you have a choice.
You can indulge it or you can dismiss it. You can feed it and repeat it and believe it or you can starve it of attention, ridicule it, doubt it, and flip it over to its opposite.
Hack 4: Repetition is the key to changing beliefs
If you repeat something to yourself long enough your mind will believe it. Your subconscious does not care whether what you tell it is true or false, good or bad, false or correct, healthy or unhealthy.
Whatever you repeat to yourself again and again is accepted by your mind as true. This is even more so when you do so in hypnosis because the conscious critical factor is bypassed.
Remember: whatever you focus on expands. Whatever you focus on, you get more of. The plant that grows is the one you feed. The plant that dies is the one you starve.
Hack 5: What you expect tends to be realised
Remember that what you expect is almost always realised. What happens in the outer world is a reflection of what is happening in your inner world. In other words: you don’t see reality as it is, but as you are. Your thoughts are a blueprint that your mind and body work together to meet.
So be careful to always expect the best and accept the rest. Although you cannot influence what others do you can influence how you interpret events and respond to them.
If you go to a meeting expecting everybody to hate you, you will probably behave in such an awkward and insecure way that people will not like you much. But since outer reality is a mirror of your inner reality, you have no better way of trying to influence other people’s response to you than expecting them to like you because you like yourself.
When you say to yourself that you and others are ok you will behave in a way that will be a lot friendlier and the right people will respond positively. If they don’t you also have a choice. You can see it as a disaster and proof that you are worthless or you can see it as a blessing: they are not your tribe. Now you know who your real friends are.
The moral of the story is: expect the ideal outcome of any situation. This way you will be likely to influence your desired outcome with a good attitude and even if that outcome does not become reality you are more likely to take it well and not unreasonably conclude that it’s all your fault.
Hack 6: Your Mind Loves what is familiar and rejects what is unfamiliar
Your mind loves what is familiar and rejects what is unfamiliar. Your mind loves what is familiar becomes it makes evolutionary sense. ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’ right? If something is familiar it is something you already know.
So it is more likely you know how to deal with it if things go wrong. The mind loves what is familiar because it makes it feel safe. But of course if you stay ’safe’ in your comfort zone you never grow. And if your comfort zone is full of negative habits you can end up being in hell.
To hack your mind you need to make the unfamiliar familiar and the familiar unfamiliar. If for example you constantly put yourself down whenever you make a mistake that will feel very familiar to you, and as such it will come natural. If I then suggest to you to stop doing that and replace it will words of encouragement it will feel very strange to do so at first.
But by consciously deciding to start praising yourself when you do well and to be more compassionate and gentle when you don’t you will start getting more happy and you will get better results.
The trick is to decide to make the unfamiliar behaviour (self criticism) less familiar by replacing that behaviour with a willingness to forgive yourself and the decision to learn from your mistakes. As long as you repeat this new behaviour enough times it will eventually become familiar and feel more natural.
How to apply these hacks
When you learn how to apply these principles you can overcome limiting beliefs as well as self doubt and this will help you improve your self esteem.
Since most problems in life stem from thinking that you are not good enough, you don’t belong or you can’t have what you want, when you start to flip these beliefs into their opposites anything is possible.
Now, let's put this into practice.
Pick a task you have difficulty with or something in your life you want to change. Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns:
CHALLENGE / opportunity
In the nightmare column write down the words you usually associate or say when speaking about this particular task or area of your life.: this is the worst, this is hell,I'd rather do anything but this, I can't do this, this is boring, I hate it, I am a loser, I am a failure, this is killing me, etc etc.
In the challenge column think of an alternative set of words that you can use to replace the first set.
Make sure you can believe these. They don't have to be over the top but remember the mind's job is to move you away from anything you link to pain by increasing your resistance so use words that are progressive and that you can believe in time. By progressive I mean, something that gets better and better in time. i.e. every time I do (activity) I get better and better at it...
Remember, this is about choosing a better more useful perspective, taking responsibility for change and communicating that to your mind clearly what you want (not what you don't) with positive words in the present. It' s about choosing to change your beliefs, because you make your beliefs and then your beliefs make you.
Initially repeating these phrases to yourself will feel unfamiliar. But stick with it. Initially it will be what you choose to do, and in no time it becomes who you are.
The more you do it the easier it is and the easier it is the more you do it. You are wiring your mind to move towards success instead of coming up with obstacles and resistances.
Once you have this alternative set of words really challenge yourself to start using them both out loud and in your daily speech and internal thoughts. Bring them to our session so we can incorporate them into hypnosis.
Whatever you focus on, you get more of.
The 6 Fundamental
For more details or to get inspired into action watch this video:
If you find it hard to implement these practices you may need extra professional help. Feel free to give me a call and discuss your case with me in detail.