You Are Not Stuck with a Mind Like a Rusted Steel Trap!
Most of us tend to think we are hard-wired one way or another. We believe that we are an optimist or a pessimist, brave or fearful, smart or dumb, good at math or not, bad with directions or terrible or whatever. One thing we are certain of, no matter what it is, we are stuck with it. Like a switch eternally stuck on whatever our default setting is, we just have to live with it.
The only thing is…. It isn’t necessarily so.
Things change. And as it turns out, so can we. You see, our intelligence is organic. It adapts and changes all of the time. And that means we have the power to fix the ourselves. Think of it as mental re-programming.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): A Patch for Your Brain
First, let’s take a step back first and look at the programming concept known as a patch. As you probably know, software is naturally buggy. It is the nature of the beast. When bugs are discovered, patches (small pieces of software that act like Band-Aids), are developed to run interference between the software and the glitch.
Basically, it is a new version of the original that bridges the system. Sounds simple enough, but how does this relate to human minds? While people are much, much more complex, the basic idea is still valid.
NLP and Neuroplasticity: New Hope for Our Brains
Enter a new field called neuro-linguistic programming or NLP for short. NLP describes the functional side of what we think, say and how it relates to what we do (our outward behavior). It relates to another concept known as neuroplasticity. Which is basically a twenty-dollar word to explain that brains are not set. (Think playdough instead of concrete.)
Together, these two paradigms shifting theories mean that you can actually change the way you act, by changing the mental conversation that is always running like a stressed out gerbil on a wheel in your head.
Great. Our brains can change. Sounds terrific. How?
First things first. Pay attention to the teleprompter transcript in your mind. If you are like most people, it is some version of, “I suck and this is why.” The need to muzzle your self-talk cannot be overstated.
Listen to yourself. Monitor the flow of your inner dialogue for a day. What are you telling yourself? Are you encouraging yourself, or complaining about why life is not fair?
Ask yourself, would you talk like that to an anxious child? If not, then cut it out!
Next, flip the script. Use encouraging words and tell yourself why things might work out. Explain to yourself how you have faced tough stuff before and succeeded. Or ask yourself how you would feel if everything worked out.
Imagine, complete with details, how good you would feel when you get that new client, solve the problem and or grab the award. Then feel it, really imagine and experience it mentally as realistically as you can.
Try to add details such as sounds, smells, happy emotions and relief. Research has shown that doing this for even thirty seconds at a time creates a physical and emotional shift. It literally reshapes your mood, your stress levels and your brain, all in a good way.
Easy Does it.
Don’t try to rush this step. Practice listening to and correcting your self-talk for at least a month. Think of it as creating a new mental blue-print or programing patch. For instance, when you find yourself being critical or escalating your anxiety, use soothing and encouraging language instead.
Listen, Rome was not built in a day. You are probably walking around with outmoded ideas and concepts you picked up as a child or under stress. Rewriting your brain code takes time and that is okay.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind about these reprogramming concepts is repetition. At first you may feel skeptical. You may not feel an immediate result. You may think you’re being silly. But look, no one ever became an Olympian after one workout.
Rinse and repeat as needed. Eventually you’ll rewrite the code inside yourself. Then stand back for the 2.0 version of the new you!
Stay tuned and follow my blog for more about building a peak performance mindset into your life.