subconscious

You, the Supertanker – part 2.

Last time I made the metaphor that your life is like a supertanker going full speed and that it takes time to change course.  Continuing the metaphor, what would it be like if you went to change course and nothing happened?  What would happen if the ship’s parts were stuck or no matter how much you turned the wheel, you kept heading towards a rocky shoal?  That would be a nightmare, right?

Well, I have bad news for you: this is kind of how it is when it comes to making course corrections in our lives.  Have you ever tried to make an important change in your life only to find yourself back where you started?  You try to lose weight, get fit, be a better leader or improve your finances but no matter how hard you try, everything seems to stay the same?  If your life were a ship, it might feel like your steering mechanism is frozen.

That’s because it is frozen.  Our subconscious – the part of us that manages the myriad of habits and programs that move us through our life – is doing what it is designed to do: keep things “normal.”  That is to say that our subconscious habits, thoughts and actions are designed to keep us from making changes to our life.  Our subconscious is so good at it’s job that even if we try hard to break a lifestyle or habit, it will keep things just as they are, or, even worse, if we start seeing some success in our new endeavor, it will rearrange things so that we fall back into the old lifestyle or habit – even if it is harmful to us – because that is what it knows.

Do you always have seconds at dinner?  You probably feel dissatisfied if you can’t go back for more.  Think your staff is incompetent?  Perhaps you only seem to notice instances when they made mistakes.  Think you’ll never get rich?  It’s difficult to do when you always have to have the latest tech gadget.  Program your subconscious to do and think a certain way and it will show you the results you tell it to.

Sure, we may want to lose weight, be a better leader or make more money, but the subconscious has other plans: keep things the same.  Anything that is not what you are used to is conveniently ignored or sabotaged.  Consciously trying to change habits and thoughts is like trying to get out and push a ship with your bare hands.  It takes so much focus and discipline that most of us give up after a short, valiant effort.

No wonder people get depressed.

So, the question is, if we are programmed to stay on the course that we have followed for so long, how can we get out of that rut?  A ship’s captain would call a repair team and get them to replace/fix the malfunctioning parts, right?  Who says we can’t do the same with our subconscious?  Our subconscious got programmed to act the way it does in the first place, are we so inflexible that we can’t reprogram it for a better way?

This is exactly what a good guide can do for you.  Instead of trying to make conscious changes, a good guide helps reprogram underlying habits that stop us from the kind of life we dream about.  A good guide can help you change the way you think about and perceive things so you can naturally change course.

So, rather than trying to force yourself to not go for seconds at dinner, why not reprogram your satiation gauge to need less food?  When changing your leadership style, instead of forcing yourself to act unnaturally, why not adjust your engine output to guide your team in a more balanced way?  If you are trying to be more efficient with your budget, why not replace your fun-o-meter with one that allows you to enjoy entertainment that is less expensive but still satisfying?

By reprogramming your subconscious, you naturally change your habits and perspectives.  It can be so effective that you will forget why you used to do things differently.  You will soon find that you don't even need to turn the wheel to move away from the rocky shoals because your ship itself will automatically course correct.  It will automatically steer you away from the life you had into the life you want because that is what it now knows.

Sounds better than getting out to push, doesn't it?

Next time learn how dopamine will drive your life if you don't drive it.

You, the Supertanker - Part 1

It’s really amazing how big supertankers are.  The largest one, the Seawise Giant, was 460 meters long (over ¼ mile) and fully loaded weighed over 560,000 metric tons.  That’s a lot of ship.

These ships don't go super fast, but once they get up to speed, they don't stop or turn easily.  Depending on a ship’s size, speed, weight and load, it can take a few kilometers for one of them to stop or reverse course.  Of course, considering the amount of momentum they have, that’s no surprise.  On top of that, when they turn, it can take over an hour.  That’s a bit slower than a sports car.

Our lives are like a supertanker at full speed.  We set a course in our 20s and for the most part stay on that trajectory.  We more or less stay the same weight; have about the same amount of money/income, similar types of jobs, and the same sorts of relationships.  We might stray from our norms sometimes, but usually find ourselves back on track – whether we like it or not – soon enough.

Of course, if we are satisfied there is no reason to change.  However, as I said in my last post, if we decide to make a change, one of the best ways is to connect with a guide we can trust.  Conversely, trying to charter a new course and failing can be because we don't have a guide we connect with.  This is still true.

The other way we usually fail to change course is if we give up too soon.

When we realize our ship has gone off course, one common reaction is a bit of a freak out – a frantic need to get back on track as soon as possible: “I don't like the way things are going.  I have to fix everything, NOW!” 

Of course, it’s a positive thing to make changes when life is going the wrong way.  The thing is that, just as it takes time to change a supertanker’s course, it takes time for us to go outside of our current course.  Though we might want to fix everything overnight, trying to do so can cause unnecessary stress and disappointment – especially if things don’t change right away. 

When I have a new client, I ask them to pre-pay for 7 weekly or bi-weekly sessions.  This is important because by pre-paying they are committing themselves to achieving their goals and, more importantly, they are sending their subconscious a message: “This is what we are going to do.  I expect you to get on board with it.”  By committing financially, the subconscious mind knows that we are serious and it will work with, instead of against us.  Likewise, because it is a set number of sessions, the subconscious feels a bit of pressure to meet the “deadline” we have created.

This, then, is the magic combination for success: a guide we connect with, good techniques, and our commitment to put in the time.  Sure, I’ve had clients get incredible changes after only 1 or 2 meetings but they are the exception rather than the rule.  Most of my clients need a bit more of a commitment to work on the various aspects of their goal.  By doing so, they can get long-term, satisfying results.

So, when you decide to permanently lose weight/get fit, start that company you’ve always dreamed of or to break and into a better wealth zone, remember to commit some time and money.  Make this investment in yourself and I am sure you will get a great return. 

Here’s the bad news: your ship would rather crash into an iceberg than change course.  Tune in next time to find out how your subconscious keeps you stuck on the course you are going and what you can do about it.

What I Do

Have you ever told a friend or family member about something you wanted to achieve?  How did it go?  Did they give you encouragement or advice?  I hope they didn't say: “That’s impossible!  You can’t do that.”

Whether they are supportive or discouraging, others often share advice.  Sometimes it’s useful and sometimes it isn’t; but in the end, whether we listen to it or not is up to us.  This is the way most of us work to improve our lives: gather information, evaluate effectiveness and implement the best plan. 

The problem is that it doesn't usually go so smoothly.

Let’s say you decide to lose weight and read an article where an expert tells you to give up your morning donut and vanilla latte.  Sounds reasonable, right?  There are lots of calories in that combo and taking that off your plate will really help.  The problem is that you LOVE your vanilla latte and donut.  It makes your mornings bearable.

Do you think you are going to follow this expert’s advice?  My guess is that most of us would valiantly try only to abandon it as soon as we had “bad” morning and “needed” our treat again.  I know I would.

This is also the way most therapists, coaches and consultants work.  They use suggestions as a way to induce change.  It goes something like this: you have a goal and doing X, Y and Z will get you there.  They provide you with reasonable and rational suggestions to move you forward and it is your job to implement them. 

The problem is that very little of our decision-making is rational. Most of our decisions are irrational and subconscious.  You might be getting great suggestions, but most of them will be difficult to implement unless your irrational mind agrees.  Rationally, it’s a no-brainer that giving up so many calories will help you lose weight, but your irrational mind – which is like a child – doesn't care: it wants what it wants and it wants it now.  It takes a LOT of mental discipline to make the irrational mind do something it doesn’t want.

Think of it like an iceberg.  What is the best way to move one?  Considering that 90% of an iceberg is underwater, pushing the above-water part might get some movement, but mostly it will just rotate the iceberg around in the same spot.  Pushing the underwater part, however, moves the top as well.

We are like that iceberg.  Our rational mind is the small part above the water and the rest is our subconscious.  It’s easy to rationally decide something, but it takes a lot of work get anywhere with it.  Move your subconscious, however, and your conscious experience effortlessly goes with it.

This is where I do my work: on the level of the irrational, or subconscious mind.  To achieve their goals, I do my best not to tell clients what to do or how to do it.  Instead, I help them work with their subconscious mind to propel them in the direction they desire. 

Working with me, clients come up with their own ideas, perspectives and excitement of how and what to do to get where they want to go.  This really makes a difference because what they decide comes from that irrational mind and, like I said before, when the irrational mind wants something, it’s hard to stop. 

Would you be able to do that thing you’ve always dreamed about if it felt fun instead of scary?  How would your company function if your staff loved coming to work?  Could you lose weight if a salad sounded more satisfying than the vanilla latte and donut?  You can push to make these things happen, but it’s much easier if your subconscious helps.

This is what I do: I provide an experience that allows clients to coordinate their conscious and subconscious goals.  Whether it is losing weight, getting fit, finding that dream job or reorganizing a company; getting the subconscious mind on board makes it much easier to achieve your dreams.

So, how do I accomplish this?  What do I do to get the subconscious working with you?  Next time I will explain it using sumo, roller derby and curling.