The question occurred to me during my morning meditation – how do things change or how can we change things in our lives? Then upon reflection I saw the grandest changes that have brought the most happiness and external results have all followed the same route into physical reality. A repeatable path, if you will.
What it Appears to Be
Sometimes we have this idea that people just wake up one day and change their life’s trajectory out of the blue. We hear about it all the
time. Like when people talk about how they quit smoking cold turkey; “He just woke up one day and quit,” or when they left their job and pursued their passion; “She just woke up one day and realized she’d had enough!” Or when they lose that 50 pounds on their road to health and change their entire relationship with food. It just seems to have “happened” one day.
Perhaps that is partly true because on the outside we do see it just materialize, sometimes over night and we make the mistake in thinking that’s how it works, or that’s how it will work with us.
Nothing to do but wait for it to magically appear.
That wrongheaded approach will leave you frustrated and in or near the same place you were 5 minutes, weeks or years ago. The same is true for attempting to force things to happen on a surface level where it may work temporarily but slide back to where it was before.
So, what is the path to true progress?
The road to cultivating real and lasting change? I was going to rattle off 5, what I think are super helpful if not necessary, steps. But they are too important to just rattle off, so I will dedicate one post per step.
Step One – Change Your Subconscious Programming
Subconscious programming? What am I, some type of robot? I have no programming! I have free will! I do what I want!
If you are hearing this rebuttal to the initial idea of subconscious programming, it is a good thing. Why? Because you hear it. We don’t get to vote on it, we are all programmed, conditioned, or whatever you want to call it. Most of our programming is “written” before we are 5 or 6. The rest we make up along the way. This is what feeds our automated processes and thoughts. The critical parent voice in your head? Programming. The voice telling you to stay inside the lines? Programming. That voice telling you you need that jelly donut? Also programming.
So what to do about this insidious director behind the curtain? Fire him and hire yourself, or your best self. In other words reprogram it. Unlearn. Change the script. Record over that cassette tape and then press play and listen to what you want to hear – that which will empower you not limit you.
It won’t be easy but it will certainly be worth it. Think about the billions of dollars marketers pour into finding out what makes you tick and how to get you to buy their products or services. They know how to reprogram you to their will. They know that after a certain number of impressions of a specific ad, you will feel compelled towards a certain product. They understand our drive to identify with what we want and what words and triggers will affect us deeply.
I still have ads in my head from when I was a little girl of 5 years old. Why? How? It’s crazy. I don’t remember a fact I learned in elementary school, except for some erroneous notion of a peaceful relationship between early American
discoverers conquerers and the native populations, but I could sing you jingles until the cows come home. Repeat impressions.
What is the Programming?
So as we have discussed, we are programmed from a young age. And we are still being programmed. And it seems on some level we are allowing ourselves to be programmed. It is not just ads and jingles. It is any message you accept without condition.
It is any standard you agree to by not realizing it is a standard you agreeing to. Most of what constitutes your world are standards you are agreeing to. They are not real and tangible realities, but things others made up. These also make up a large part of our unhappiness. If we don’t direct our programming, someone else will. This can change through some conscious effort and deliberate repetitive actions.
Ways to Reprogram
Meditation as a habit or begin with mindful practice if you can’t even imagine meditating. This is the number one foundation to build upon. If your mind is noisy and loud and full of whatever happens to flood it, it is going to be very difficult for you to have the wherewithal to seek something better. Becoming mindful is the first step; becoming aware of your thoughts.
I’m a big fan of metacognition or thinking about thinking. It lessens the power of the thoughts. It gives you distance and space. If you want to really create a quiet place and draw from a deeper well of wisdom and you want to be guided there I can’t recommend transcendental meditation enough. For me, it was the turning point in my life. It gave me peace, quiet and a clarity that I don’t know I could have received in any other way. It turned off the fight-or-flight response on loop and turned on the relaxation response. It’s the best investment I have ever, ever made in myself. Period. You can read my blog post here, or check out their site here.
Another way to do some reprogramming is through hypnosis. The thing is you have to find a great hypnotherapist. Don’t just google randomly and find someone. Ask around, look for recommendations. Yelp them. It makes a difference. This is the person who helped me, Cappi Pidwell. Also, if you have the time and interest, learn the principles of hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) yourself. Figure out how your mind works and then work it. The time and energy will pay off in dividends.
Another way is to change the messaging you give yourself each day. I like paraliminals. I listen to them before bed and after repeat listens, the driving force behind my behaviors change. It is remarkable. There are so many different areas of focus and there is hard science to back the approach behind them. I love them. Reprogram while you close your eyes and induce the relaxation response. Triple Whammy.
Affirmations. I know affirmations are associated with a lot of cheesy type stuff but they are a good way to start changing the programming outside to in. I began doing them years ago and a lot has changed since. We learned and were programmed through repetition and we can unlearn and reprogram with the same thing. Some tips for affirmations are to always write in the present and in the positive. Instead of writing or saying: “I will not eat bad and junky food”, write, “I eat food that nourishes my body and makes me feel strong and healthy.” Write this stuff out daily and see what happens. It’s powerful. Don’t know what to write? Ask me. Tell me what you are working towards and I can help you construct your very own affirmations.
Write Out Ideal Courses of Action: I did this for a while and I saw some real changes in my day-to-day life. When I was working for a big corporation and found myself having trouble navigating the political landscape I would sit and write out what I wanted to happen as if it were happening. I would really begin feeling it. I don’t know what exactly takes place but maybe I carried that around and that drew it to me. I got recognition and accolades, I got put on projects and teams that were fun and interesting. Things came together in a neat way.
That’s it for now! Look out for part II of this series coming soon! In the meantime, practice some of these and come prepared. I can honestly say that if you actually carried these things out and made it routine, there is no way you’re life would not change in some way shape or form, and the degree of change is directly related to what you put in to it.
You have to, have to, have to, change on the inside before it shines through to the outside. Then it’ll just look like easy magic to everyone else and you’ll get to explain what worked for you.