Using Your Brain…for a Change (I apologize because I do not know who wrote this article. I would love to give them credit here. I was given a copy of the article years ago without an author on it. I think it is so important to share it though, because the information is wonderful. Please, if you ever come across the author's name for this article, let me know. Thanks, Kat)
"Imagination In – Willpower Out"
Gayle North, C.H.
“I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me. ”
- George Bernard Shaw
There are some principals at work as we begin to make positive change in our lives. In my work as a personal coach I often see people trying to force themselves into compliance with a new goal by using willpower and giving themselves orders to “power out” the old behaviors.
Let's use the process of quitting smoking for an example. If you say to your self, ”You are going to quit smoking!", or give yourself orders like “Don’t smoke, don’t smoke, don’t smoke”. The more you repeat orders like this to yourself or another person, the more stubborn the unwanted habit will become. Your brain cannot even interpret the statement unless you think about smoking first. Once you think about smoking you will naturally want a cigarette. Statements such as these actually hypnotize you to intensify your desire for a cigarette. To make matters worse, when you weaken and smoke a cigarette, you probably punish yourself with defeating words like, “You are so weak,” or “You are so dumb, you know all the reasons why you shouldn’t smoke.” The more guilt, shame, or fear connected to a habit, the more difficult it will be to change.
The secret to success with any change is the imagination. Unless your imagination has been enlisted in the process so that you now see and define yourself in your new way of being - as a nonsmoker for example, there will be a struggle between your willpower and your imagination. The imagination always wins those battles, so if you see yourself as weak or dumb, or stuck in your habit, you will create more of the behaviors that support those images of yourself.
Discovering your purpose, mission, and capabilities supports you as you create a new life – a new way of being in the world. As you align your imagination and create new images - a new model of your life – these new images become the picture on the top of the puzzle box so your subconscious mind can know what the puzzle is supposed to look like when it is finished. Without this picture, putting the puzzle together is very difficult if not impossible for your subconscious mind.
In other words, if you are not able to imagine a life without your negative habits or patterns, you cannot manifest such a life in the physical world. Once your imagination is fully engaged, the limiting thoughts of your dependencies no longer dominate, and the picture of the new life becomes like a magnet attracting all of the pieces to it – as long as you keep the images and feelings associated with your success upper-most in your focus.
”Consciousness Changes Physics.”
Lance Armstrong, the legendary six time Tour de France winner is a perfect example of creating change with the imagination. He has used the power of his mind to heal himself and outshines other world class athletes in his field because of the power of his imagination. Without a clear sense of his goal, he would not be able to do what he has done.
Important Steps to Lasting Positive Change
1. Resolve your inner conflicts about experiencing success. Would there be a downside to your success?
2. Discovering the positive intentions behind the old behavior. Ask yourself what benefit the old behavior gives you.
3. Ask yourself how you can get the same benefit from healthier activities. Make a list of replacements.
4. Quit beating yourself up. Say this to yourself 20 times per day: “Even though I have had this challenge with______________, I accept myself deeply and profoundly just the way I am right now. I have the power to do anything I want to do and I am ready to experience ________. I am in the process of eliminating any blocks to my success."
5. Imagine yourself already successful and feel the feelings you expect to enjoy – feel them right now and keep the feelings present in your body as continuously as you can. The pleasant feeling will take the place of the anxiety you have experienced in the past that caused the negative behavior.
Change can be an elegant and gentle process, one in which the magnet of our highest possibilities is steadily drawn to the magnet inherent in our hearts desire to become more of who we really are…a way of being where things that are bad for us will not tempt us .