Have you ever heard yourself say, “I’m of two minds?”
We all do. Human awareness is part conscious mind and part inner mind (unconscious/ subconscious). Our conscious is the smaller mind (approximately 5 to 10 percent) and excels in complex, analytical thought.
As the bigger of the two (90 to 95 percent), our inner mind thinks in pictures, stories and metaphors.
One of the jobs of our inner mind is data collection: life experiences, decisions made, beliefs and attitudes (and more) are archived for easy access. The primary job of the inner mind is safety and survival, therefore needing to access the archives to judge what is protective and what isn’t.
Here’s where things get interesting: whenever you ask a question of yourself, the reticular activating system (RAS) in your inner mind immediately searches for an answer. Similar to typing a question in an online search engine online, asking a question is equivalent to pressing the ‘send’ button.
When internal dialogue is: “Why am I such a failure?” the inner mind searches the internal archives to find examples of being a failure.
When your internal dialogue is: “What about my life am I grateful for?” your inner mind searches internally for examples of all the blessings in your life.
The first example makes us feel terrible, and as a result, we are less motivated to accomplish our goals.
Research shows that being grateful (the second example) results in better mood and improved quality of life. Of the two examples, which one is more resourceful?
The second one, of course!
What we focus on we create more of.
The RAS is a part of the brain stem that ensures sleep-wake cycles and is also the brain’s attention centre: the RAS pays attention to what you focus on and directs the inner mind to look out for more of the same. For example, if someone was afraid of polka dots, the inner mind would continually look for polka dots.
If someone wants to get pregnant, the RAS directs the inner mind to notice pregnant bellies, babies, strollers, and more. My clients comment on this all the time. The trick is to not let it upset you—it is just your mind reminding you of what the RAS is focused on.
Consider carefully crafted questions to help improve your life. In Notes From A Friend (1995), Anthony Robbins teaches seven “Morning Power Questions.” These include:
- What am I happy about in my life today?
- What am I excited about in my life right now?
- What am I proud of in my life right now?
- What am I grateful for in my life right now?
- What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
- What am I committed to in my life right now?
- Who do I love? Who loves me? What about that makes me loving?
Part of this exercise includes focusing on how you feel when answering these questions, as well as how they are relevant to you.
The “Evening Power Questions” are:
- What have I been given today? In what ways have I been a giver today?
- What did I learn today?
- How has today added to the quality of my life? How can I use today as an investment in my future?
If you have a health condition or are going through fertility challenges, refocus your inner mind on what you want. This doesn’t negate that crummy experiences happen, but it can help bring some balance to your emotions.
This exercise takes only a few minutes of your time, yet yields powerful results. You might choose to have a special journal set aside to write in; a digital record can work just as well. Commit to at least twenty-one consecutive days for best effect and let me know how it works!
In the next blogpost, we’ll examine the concept of Empowering Questions, taking your morning/evening practice to the next level.
Until then, notice your internal dialogue and what questions you are asking yourself. If your questions are not resourceful, you might ask yourself, “How can I ask this question in a way that supports my success more effectively?”