How Your Mind Works

  • Terri Newman

Your mind’s job is simple – it is to keep you alive.  It does this by listening to all the words you use and decides if something is making you happy or making you unhappy.  So, you need to be specific and tell your mind what you want and not what you don’t want.  And in telling yourself what you want, you need to use clear, vivid, vital language. 

A simple example of this, say a student has an exam coming up on Monday, they know they need to revise and study over the weekend to achieve a good score.  The weekend approaches and they think about their friends and what they will all be doing without them this weekend and they tell themselves “It’s not fair, why do I have to study, I don’t won’t to study”.

The mind will then say, “Oh I get it, you really don’t want to study.  I know let’s find other stuff for you to do”.  So, the student will do anything but study, clean out their room, or do those chores around the house mum and dad have been harping on about - anything but study because that is what they have told themselves they don’t want to do.  Doing anything else is better than study.

But if you approach the idea of having to study by saying to yourself “I love study”, “I love exams”, “I love achieving great results”.  Your mind is going to get a very clear picture of what you want to do and achieve, and the mind will do everything in its power to make sure you achieve that goal.  This is not just positive thinking; it is cutting edge work that you initiate with your mind.  It’s better than visualisation - its specific and it’s about you.     

Another example would be, you really don’t like your job, it’s boring, you don’t like the people, you feel trapped.  You repeatedly tell yourself “I hate my job, I don’t want to be here, but I must.  I just want a break”.  Next minute you come down with the flu or a migraine or something equally debilitating, never-the-less you get your time off work, all-be-it sick.  Just what you asked for – time off.  There are countless examples I am sure each of us can relate to from past experiences.

Our mind makes us survive

Our mind helps us survive by remembering the things that hurt us, believing that if we remember what hurts us, it won’t hurt us again.  But, if we avoid being hurt, all we do is switch out pain, but it’s ok to be hurt.  As human beings we are incredibly resilient, and we can survive so much.

Think about the things that you don’t have in your life that you really want.  If you haven’t got love, or success or ambition, somewhere somehow you are telling your mind you don’t really want it.  Maybe you think you don’t want to do the work, or that it’s too difficult for you, or that you might fail or get rejected. 

If you currently have lots of things that you really don’t want in your life, like spending the day lying on the couch watching TV when you should be working, or you are continually putting yourself down, procrastinating and not believing in yourself.  If you have lots of things in your life you don’t really want, then somewhere somehow your mind thinks that that is exactly what you want. 

Every time you lie on the couch and you think “This is heaven”, “This is bliss”, “It’s so nice just to veg out”, you are telling your mind that this is what you really want.  So switch that out - when you are working say instead “This is bliss”, “This is heaven”, “I love this”.  Because your mind does not care if what you tell it is right or wrong, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, so tell your mind what you want specifically, in a detailed way.  The more you do that, the more you will get what you really want.     

If you say to yourself “I love eating healthy” and “I choose to eat healthy, it makes we feel so good” then you will feel good.  But if you say to yourself “Oh no not rabbit food again” your mind will say, “Don’t eat that, you know you would rather have burgers and fries and ice-cream”.  

The way you feel about everything are down to the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself

Imagine if you were an Olympic athlete and you said to yourself everyday “I have to run today, I have to work out today, this is so unfair”.   No, of course an Olympian wouldn’t say these things to themself.  They would keep saying instead “I want this, I want to win a medal, I want this, I am going to win a medal”.  You need to tell your mind exactly what you want.  

“I have chosen this, and I have chosen to feel great about it”.

Our mind loves what is familiar, and it does not like what is unfamiliar    

A simple example of this, are people who don’t like accepting praise.  If you say “Thank you so much, you are awesome” they may reply “Don’t mention it” or you may say “Wow you look great today” and they may reply “Really, I don’t feel great, I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, I have bags under my eyes etc etc.”.  A lot of people don’t let praise in because it is so unfamiliar. 

If everyone could make praising themselves familiar, from the time they first wake up in the morning by saying “This is a great day”, “I love what I do”, “I am really looking forward to my day”.  That alone would change your life and imagine if you made criticism unfamiliar, if someone is mean to you, just smile and say, “Thank you for sharing that, but I am not going to let that in”.

Make praising yourself super familiar, after all if you don’t believe in you, who is going to believe in you.  You have a praise muscle, and you need to make it grow by praising yourself.  Self-praise has more of an effect on you than the praise you receive from other people.  And nothing will make your self-esteem grow like your own praise, and that’s simply because you don’t have an agenda.

When you say good things to yourself “I’m great”, “I’m talented”, “I’m kind”, I’m loveable” your mind will say “Yes you are”.  And when you say things like “I’m rubbish”, “I’m a loser”, “I can’t get anything right” your mind will believe “Yes that is true” because that is what you told it. 

Since your mind believes whatever you tell it, then tell it better things.  Say “I am choosing to make self-praise familiar” and choose to make that who you are.  Decide what you are going to make familiar, praise, self-believe, being nice to yourself, being kind to yourself. 

And decide what you are going to make unfamiliar, like self-criticism, blame and shame of yourself.  You have a choice about what you say, but you can’t choose the destructive effect harsh hurtful words will have on your life.  So, make it easy on yourself, be nice to yourself, talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. 

Make praise part of who you are, think of everything you do want, and make it familiar. 

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