Autopilot high jacked me again this morning. I had just finished writing and was on the way to the gym. My mind was still thinking about an article I just wrote, when I suddenly noticed that I was about to turn on the interstate and go to work. What the hell? The gym is in the opposite direction. It happened again. I went down a whole bunch of streets. Navigated stop signs and signals totally unconscious. How many times have you done that?
I drive that way to work every day for years. It’s now a habit. Clearly something I can do without even thinking about it. So it can be programmed, and you and I can use it. Our sub-conscious mind is capable of doing complex activity. In my case, it remembered the route to work, and was able to respond to stop lights and signs without help from my conscious mind. It was able to judge spatial distances to navigate turns without going off the road, and match speed with the traffic around me.
Your mind is the best tool you Never Use!
Steve Martin was in a movie called the “Man with two Brains”, and you and I also have two brains, but fortunately no “cranial screw tops”. You can call them the conscious mind and the sub-conscious mind. The higher mind and the lower mind, or Fred and Ethel for all I care. The fact is that there are two and they work jointly all the time. Some psychologists such as Robert Cialdini, mentioned in my section on Persuasion, believe that up to 80% of what we do every day is mostly habitual behavior and not conscious determined behavior. Like my autopilot drive to work, or not stopping to remember which button to push on the elevator at work, or songs that get stuck in our head, or other habits.
Here’s one mufti-generational habit my wife has noticed on her side of the family. Her grandmother, father and brother all have the habit of rubbing their forearm with one hand while talking. I’m guessing they learned it when young and started emulating the parent, and then did it enough that it stuck with them for life.
Just because the lower mind is habitual doesn’t mean it doesn’t act on the upper thinking mind. We are conditioned by all sorts of external and internal influences that give us an habitual mental picture of who we are, and that habitual mental picture can and does put fences around our conscious thinking telling us what we can and cannot do based on past ingrained habitual beliefs or fears.
The lower mind actually does think and solve problems too, we’re just not aware of it until the answer pops up fully formed into our higher mind. Have you heard the expression “let me sleep on it”. What that means is thinking on a problem for awhile consciously, and then purposely setting it aside, while we sleep or do something else. I’ve done that many times with problems I’m having trouble solving, whether its a programming problem or a mechanical problem. I reach a point where I intentionally set it aside and work on something else. An hour, a day, a week later the answer just comes to me. The lower mind solved it and escalated it up to the higher mind for action.
Putting the Lower Mind to Work.
The lower mind needs inputs to work. Sometimes once is enough, but more often it needs to be repetitive. Besides the specific problem solving above, you might have a longer term goal to accomplish. Something specific and measurable. For those affirmations are the key. An affirmation is a simple statement of fact or goal that you want to be true or actual in your life. I’m not talking about the fake stuff like visualizing wining the lottery. Let me get personal and tell you a few of my affirmations that I recite in my mind while driving to and from work while my lower mind drives the car.
I have a tendency to get distracted by a lot of things and other interests to the point that I’m not focused and accomplishing the most important things. I had a habit of starting things and not finishing them. My affirmation that I recite mentally twice a day is, “I Jeff always finish what I start“. What this does for me is to establish a tighter mental focus to where I don’t start other things without finishing what I’m working on, or by not getting my time and attention divided into fifteen different areas. Another one is “I Jeff love working out every morning“. But I didn’t at first. Going to the gym at night just wasn’t working for me, but I wasn’t a morning person either. I started working this thought every day while going to the gym at 6 am. Now, when I miss a day, I actually feel like I missed out, and I’m consistently getting up early and making it to the gym.
Just one more and I’ll stop. I have about eight of these that cover various areas including this blog. My affirmation for the blog is that, “I Jeff will have 100,000 page views in 2016“. I just started the blog two months ago in June 2016, and originally I was shooting for 10,000 page view in the 7 months remaining in 2016. I’m already on track to exceed that, so I very aggressively bumped the goal to 100,000. Maybe I’ll make it, but the point of the affirmation is that it focuses my mind on what I need to do to get there. It gives my lower mind marching orders, or programming, to work on the problem. The end result is that I keep getting ideas back up to the higher mind on specific actions I can take to increase the traffic to this blog.
What are you doing to change your mindset?
I have a little black book that I keep these in, so it’s always with me. I challenge you to pick one or two things you want to change, write them down in the format shown above and meditate on them twice a day while driving to and from work. For some people saying them out loud works better. Do it for 30 days and see if it doesn’t make a difference. You could choose some goal you are struggling with, or some specific way of thinking you want to change. Do it. Start now.