Do you know what all of the self-made successful entrepreneurs have in common? Positive self talk.
Once upon a time, I was a total professional when it came to self-sabotage. If there was a contest, I would probably win it. It wasn’t until I landed on medicaid for the second time that I realized my problem, was me. I needed to learn how to rebuild my subconscious mind or face a life of pain and loss due to personal failures. I just didn’t know where to start.
My best friend helped to jolt me out of this toxic habit by sending me the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck for Hanukkah one year. I followed this book up with a promise to read every self-help book I could get my hands on (recommendations at the bottom of this page) until I flipped the switch from personal critic to personal cheerleader.
But this is a work in progress and not something that happens just after reading a few books. You need to put what you read into practice. Every book I read mentioned its own variation of the following two daily practices:
- Looking at a vision board
- Writing or reciting affirmations
How & why this works:
At a fundamental level, we humans are 99% the same. With the exception of minor genetic mutations, our brains & bodies all contain the same parts. Our brains are all wired for survival & therefore wired to react and re-wire to external factors using an amazing built-in feature called neuroplasticity. According to MedicineNet.com the medical definition of Neuroplasticity is
The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.Medical Definition of Neuroplasticity according to MedicineNet.com
The part I want to focus on here is “to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.“
As “pack animals” we are also wired with a few mechanisms that make humans able to thrive in communities. One of these mechanisms is called confirmation bias and another is known as mirror neurons.
Confirmation bias leads your brain to look for evidence to support whatever decision or opinion you posses. This function protects your brain from suffering due to over-stimulation by helping you to quickly filter out, or flat out ignore countless stimuli every minute of the day. Pair this with neuroplasticity and you can quickly see how and why we can, in fact, easily rebuild our subconscious minds.
Example of this in action:
If you choose to like someone your brain will amplify all of the great things about the person and devalue their negative attributes. If you choose to dislike someone your brain will amplify all of the negative things about the person and devalue their positive attributes.
Mirror neurons are attributed with helping us to “fit in” to a new group or tribe. They cause you to “become” the 6 people you spend most of your time with AND when you’re spending a bit of time each day looking at your vision board, they will help you to be drawn towards positive and helpful opportunities that will lead you to reach your goals faster.
Example of mirror neurons in action:
We’ve all heard the saying “you are most like the last 5: books you read, songs you listened to, movies you watched & people you interacted with.” We have mirror neurons to thank for this.
So, what does this mean for us today?
Think of your brain as a city that has been built up over time. When you were a baby the city of your mind contained a few streets and buildings, “make this noise at this volume to get food”, “make that noise at that volume to get a clean diaper”. By the time you reached the age of 8 the key highways and buildings in your city were more or less built. After this point, you gravitated toward certain subjects and built new boroughs & towns attaching them to your city. Each time you learned a new subject, it was equivalent to finding new, undeveloped land & building a brand new town from the ground up. Sometimes you had a great teacher who used a framework to help you quickly construct a new boroughs & towns. Other times you started to build a city, hated it and left it with little more than a metaphorical dirt road labeled “5th grade world history” or “10th grade algebra”.
After a time you came to realize that some roads and highways which were key to survival at one point (such as using disassociation to survive the abuse of pedophiles present during your childhood), were no longer routing your thoughts to a destination that was helpful to you.
Your “Freeze & Disassociate” building was the perfect destination when you were 10, but now at the age of 30 a trip to that building during a stressful meeting is also the highway to being passed up for promotion, or worse the one upon which office bullies dump all of their emotional garbage.
So how do we break down and rebuild entire highways?!?!
Remember that saying “you are most like the last 5: books you read, songs you listened to, movies you watched & people you interacted with?” Telling yourself what not to do & what not to think is like tearing down all of the bridges, tunnels & highways leading to NYC without first building newer & better highways.
What I found is that once I’d built the new highways, the traffic wanted to go there, the highways were nicer, cleaner and took me to my new desired destinations (aka adult goals) faster.
While the “Freeze & Disassociate” building was a key destination during my childhood, it was a path to destruction a few decades later. So how did I rebuild?
The fastest way to build new highways in the city that is your mind:
- Take this FREE quiz to first decide which parts of yourself you should develop to hit your goals.
- Next take this FREE quiz to discover the best way to reward yourself for new positive behaviors.
- Go to the self-help section of your library & flip through books until you find one that resonates so strongly with you, that you feel like the author wrote it for you. Devote 10 minutes each morning to reading this book.
- Create a vision board on Pinterest. Every time you go to the bathroom, ride an elevator, wait in a line & start or end your day, scroll through it. Humans are visual this simple act slowly rebuilds new highways to lead you to the destinations you internally visualize daily so make them amazing. (To learn more about the science behind this trick google “confirmation bias”).
- Scroll through Pinterest boards like this one to find new thoughts that you would like to make a part of your internal dialogue & drop them into a collage like this. Print the collage out & hang a few copies around the house, swapping them out as you constantly evolve to aim for new affirmations.
This is the collage I have currently taped to my fridge so I read it every time I fill up a glass of water, feel free to use this one, or follow my guide here to create your own.
What if I don’t want to create a collage?
There is another process that I found works quite well. Here it is:
- Take out a notebook
- Open to page 1
- Put the date in the top right corner
- Write out your first big goal on the top line
- Write out how you want to feel about yourself and your work
- Copy 1 or 2 more affirmations from this list
I love my job, self, body, etc
I am healthy
I am terrific
I am intelligent
I am an effective communicator
I am loved
I make (insert desired income) per week (or per month)
Check out more affirmations here: 80 Powerful Affirmations That Could Change Your Life, 1,132 Positive Affirmations
- Enter the number of times you’d like to repeat the affirmations aloud into the free tool below. Somewhere between 15 and 50
- Click the button to keep track of how many times you’ve repeated your affirmation(s)
Side note: If you think this counting tool is cool and want help creating your own tool contact Gavin Ray here.
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
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- 50 Spiritual Classics, Second Edition: Your shortcut to the most important ideas on self-discovery, enlightenment, and purpose
- 50 Self Help Classics 2nd Edition: Your shortcut to the most important ideas on happiness and fulfilment
- 50 Success Classics, Second Edition: Your shortcut to the most important ideas on motivation, achievement, and prosperity
- Subconscious Mind | 9 Facts You Should Know