I have always told the players on the basketball teams that I have coached that “the mind does not know the difference between a real and an imagined experience.” I want them to imagine themselves playing and practicing successfully prior to each time that they take the floor.
I have continued to study mental programming and visualization techniques and am using this post to share a few of my beliefs and learnings on those subjects. My hope is that these thoughts can be applied to any area of performance from athletics to business to interpersonal relationships, or to any area of life where you would like to be more successful.
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Your subconscious mind plays a greater role in influencing a person’s beliefs, habits, and actions than the conscious mind does. Research suggests that 90% of our thoughts come from our subconscious mind. Those thoughts have been imprinted in our subconscious through the thoughts we have chosen to think in our conscious minds. The more we allow a thought (good or bad) to inhabit our conscious mind, the deeper it is imprinted
Our subconscious mind has been programmed by the things that we have heard, seen, and experienced throughout our lives. Unfortunately much of what we hear see and experience is negative these negative experiences are programming our subconscious minds to keep us from fulfilling our potential without us even knowing it. That means that I need to work to program my mind in positive way to keep the negative programming from directing my actions.
The 80/20 rule applies to the constraints that we put on ourselves a percent of what is holding us back his work from within 20% of what is holding us back comes from without external factors. Most of us sabotage ourselves subconsciously without even knowing it by allowing the negative programming we have received to dominate our actions.
When I take the time at the beginning of my day consciously read, listen to, reflect on, imagine, and talk to myself about my goals and the vision I have for my day, it goes much better than when I don’t take any reflection time. The 15 minutes that I take to feed my conscious mind thoughts that will find their way into my involuntary or subconscious mind definitely makes a difference in my day.
We often worry about things that usually don’t come true. That worry results in a pre-programmed fear of failure that is responsible for much of our lack of success. The fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) of failure keeps us from putting our full efforts into or even attempting new projects or tackling the acquisition of new skills.
We can erase negative programming by the messages that we send our subconscious mind through our self talk and our visions. That little voice inside our head that talks to us is frequently negative. Instead of listening to ourselves, we need to talk to ourselves with positive and affirming messages and visualize future success.
I do believe in being a “realistic optimist.” To me that means that you do not ignore the problems and challenges that you face, but that you do believe in yourself and your ability to succeed.
Clear, written daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, five year, and lifetime goals and visions program your conscious mind for success.
Your subconscious mind works 24 hours a day and is moving you towards the things you think about. If you think about failures from the past or anticipated failures of future events, then your mind is moving you towards failure. That is self sabotaging behavior and must be avoided.
It takes self-discipline and mental toughness to block out the negative lifelong programming that you have it encountered and reprogram yourself in a positive way. Just like any other habit this habit is going to take at least 21 days to master.
Habits are actions that we take that have become almost involuntary. We don’t have to spend a lot of thought and energy to make them happen. I believe that the key to controlling our habits is our subconscious minds.
We feed our subconscious minds by the beliefs we hold in our conscious thoughts and by the interpretations we attach to what we experience.
When you consciously talk to yourself-think positive thoughts. Listen to others with positive thoughts. Read positive information. All of these exercises are programming positive into your subconscious mind. Again, realism is essential, but there is no doubt in my mind that being optimistic is going to help you to achieve the best you can even in tough situations. Thinking positive thoughts is not going to help me to become an NBA basketball player, no matter how long, I think them, but programming myself with positive thoughts for my day to day activities and responsibilities will help my be more affective in those areas.
I do not see negative thoughts and realistic thoughts as being one and the same thing. Negative and self defeating thoughts are thinking “I can’t do this,” or “It’s going to fail,” before you even begin. If you feel that way, you should rethink your involvement in that particular activity.
I believe in daily affirmations whether by reading them, listening to recorded versions of them, or saying them to yourself after memorizing them.
People who are optimistic are not only enjoy more success, but they’re happier while they’re working towards their goals. I do believe that peace of mind is what we should all be striving for in life. Life is much too short not to enjoy every single day of our journey.
Mental rehearsal is a type of programming. That goes back to my coaching point that the mind does not know the difference between a real and an imagined experience. Whether you are a salesperson or an athlete, the individuals who are extremely successful use mental imagery every day, even if it does involve a potential large scale event. The daily programming is what creates or positive (or negative) mental maps.
Using mental imagery of the desired outcome in the learning or practicing phase is a tool that will help improve what you learn or what you get from the practice. It also gives you to practice the skill of using mental imagery, which will then make you more effective at using it during the events that you are practicing or learning for.
We’ve all had bad programming whether it was intentional and mean-spirited criticism or unintentional and well-meaning. Despite that negative programming we don’t have to accept it as the basis for your everyday actions.
Someone who fears failure and what others might think of them will subconsciously find ways to procrastinate on projects where there could be failure or criticism from others. Your subconscious mind is going to steer you in the direction of doing things that are not moving you toward completion of the project, but that will make you feel like you are busy or active. You are sabotaging your own success as your subconscious mind is building in excuses. When you don’t succeed it will be because you had other things to do.
Programming your mind with affirmations such as “I work continually on tasks that are moving my most important projects forward,” program your subconscious mind to overcome what I would call rationalized procrastination.
Mental programming is one way that we can be our own success coach. If we don’t think about the things consciously that we are allowing into our subconscious mind, then we all0w all of the bad programming to build up and take control of our behaviors. If we feed our minds positive programming continually, eventually it is accepted by our subconscious mind and moves us towards becoming the type of person we are striving to become.
Here are three things you can do to improve your mental programming.
1. Develop five goals in each of your areas of responsibility in your life for today, this week, this month, this year, five years from today, and for your lifetime. Make a commitment to review and refine them every day. It takes a maximum of 10 minutes.
2. Determine areas for improvement that will move you forward in the desired areas of your life and write them down.
3. Collect affirmations or write your own that fit your particular situation and the goals and areas for improvement that you are working on. Here is a link to some of Write them as though you are delivering them to others that you lead. Commit to reviewing them daily for 30 days. You are going to need at least that long to see the difference that they will make.