Who Do You Think You Are?

BeliefsWho you think you are has more to do with the way you behave than you realize. That’s really the key – who you really believe you are. If you really believe you are a failure, if you believe you are bad at math, if you believe you are a poor public speaker – those beliefs manifest themselves in your actions. You become no more than what you believe you are.

Putting on a pair of glasses

What if I told you that you could take your beliefs and change them in the same way that you can take off a pair of glasses and put on another pair of glasses. When you put on another pair of glasses, let’s say a pair of sunglasses, you see everything differently – EVERYTHING! Now what you see, you see through the lenses of those glasses.

Your beliefs are the same way. Everything you do or every decision you make goes through the lens of your beliefs. If you believe that you’re a failure or you believe that you’re this kind of person or that kind of person, then no matter what, you are always seeing yourself through that lens. What you need to do is change the lens of your beliefs – the beliefs of who you are.

Removing doubts and fears

Some people look at hypnosis and they think that it’s some kind of trick, that it’s a farce. They think that the people are faking it. They don’t believe in hypnosis. But, hypnosis really does work. It’s a very simple thing. It doesn’t give anyone any special abilities or allow them to do anything that they don’t already know how to do. When a hypnotist hypnotizes someone and causes, for example, someone who stutters to give an eloquent speech, or causes someone who is afraid of heights to walk across a beam laid across two ladders, or someone who can’t sing to sing a beautiful song – the hypnotist is not giving these people these abilities, these abilities already existed in these people. The only thing the hypnotist is doing is removing their doubts that they can do these things. He’s removing their doubts so that they totally believe they can do it. That’s all hypnosis is. It is removing all inhibitions, doubt and fear that you can do something. The things that people do under hypnosis are things they already have the ability to do, but just don’t believe they can.

What are your beliefs?

I want you to think about that concept and think about your own life and think about the things that you continually fail at or that you continually can’t do or can’t accomplish. Is it because you don’t have the ability or is it because you simply believe deep down inside that you can’t do it, that you are not that kind of a person?

For example, there are people who all their lives have told themselves, “I’m not a runner, I can’t run, I hate running. It’s painful.” And they have never been able to run because they have told themselves that they are not a runner. That’s their belief. Well, there are some of these people who have had this belief all their life and have changed their belief. They began running and began training and got past that belief and suddenly realized that people aren’t runners or not runners and that you weren’t born into this world a runner and some people not runners. It’s all in your mind. It’s all what you believe.

These very same people who all their lives believed that they were not runners have been able to run marathons. Think about it! Suddenly they realized that they were a runner. They look at themselves now as a runner. It’s now a part of their being. It’s now a part of who they are. And now that they see themselves as a runner, they can RUN! And now that they believe that it’s enjoyable, they enjoy it!

What I’m trying to tell you here is that you need to change your beliefs about who you are. Not just parts of who you are but your entire being. Let’s go back to the glasses example. Think about it again. Let’s review it again. If you put on a pair of rose colored glasses, everything you see in this world is rose colored. No matter what it is that you see you see it through those rose colored glasses.

Who do you think you are?

I want you to take this example and think about who you are. Let’s say that you believe that you are a failure or that you are never going to be successful, that you are never going to accomplish the things in life that you want to accomplish. You have desires but your beliefs are not there. So, everything you do you see through those beliefs – the beliefs that you are a failure and no matter how hard you try you’re always seeing it through the “failure” lenses.

If you can understand this concept you can begin to identify your false beliefs about yourself and begin to change them. Put your false beliefs away and begin to see yourself as the person you desire to become. By changing your beliefs you can experience dramatic changes in your life.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

The Power of Decisions

Decisions

I want to talk today about the power of decisions. When you think about any change that you’ve ever made in your life, didn’t it really happen the moment you made a decision? Sometimes we say, “Oh it’s hard to change, it took me forever to change.” Usually what takes forever is getting yourself to the point of deciding. It’s the “getting ready to get ready to change” that’s takes so long. You really didn’t make any changes until you decided to change.

So you can say today, “That’s it! I’m done. I’m never going to do that again” or “this is the way I’m going to be from now on.” It’s the power of a decision. No change was ever made in anybody’s life without first deciding. Once you make a decision then you can move forward. A lot of times you say, “Oh it’s so hard to change, it’s so hard to do this, it’s so hard to do that” but really it’s not hard because you’re really not doing it yet, you’re really not making any effort until you decide.

The decision – when things begin to happen

Once you have made that decision, things start to happen in your life. Making that one single decision, saying from this point on, from this time, this minute, this second, I am going in a new direction. I am no longer going in the direction I was going. I have turned my life. I am headed in a new direction and everything I do and everything I say and everything I feel is different. This gets you on the road. You won’t totally change your life in a day but you will be amazed at how quickly you move in that direction.

Think for a moment about the story that Charles Dickens wrote, A Christmas Carol. Think about Scrooge. Think about what happened to him, how in an instant his life changed. After he was shown all the pain and misery of his past and the mistakes that he had made, and the person that he had become, and then as he looked into the future and was shown what his future would be if he continued on that path, if he continued in that direction – he made a decision, in an instant. He changed his direction. He changed his glasses, his lenses that he sees his life through. Suddenly everything changed.

Can you change in an instant?

Is it possible for a person to change in an instant? I believe it is. Think about Scrooge and how he changed in an instant. He totally changed his direction. He became a different person. Now, did everything change in his life all at once? No! But his direction changed and the lens through which he looked at life changed. The lens through which he made decisions, his feelings, his actions changed by changing that lens that he looked through. He changed the direction that he was headed in his life. Everything changed and he was now on the road in a different direction to a different life, to becoming a different person. You can do the same. You can make that change.

Now you don’t have to have spirits come to you in the night to show you the mistakes you have made in the past. You can do that on your own. Review your past. Review the pain that you’ve had in your life by going the direction you’re going right now. Think about all the pain you’ve suffered through. Think of all the opportunities that you’ve missed because of the actions and direction you’ve taken in your life. Think about where you could have been now.

Ponder your future

Think about your future. If you continue on the road that you are on now where will you be one year from now? Will you be any better of a person? Will you continue down hill? What about five years from now? Where will you be if you continue on this road that you’re headed without changing? What will your life be like? Is that where you want to be? Is that where you want to go? Experience the pain of this. Think about it. What kind of a life do you want? What kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to continue heading in the direction that you’re heading right now? Is that what you want? No!

As you experience this pain of your past mistakes and what it will mean to you in the future if you don’t make any changes – let it sink deep down into your heart, into your mind, into your emotions. Feel this pain and make a decision now, at this moment, that you will not put up with this any more, that you will not live another second in this world headed in that direction, that you are tired of tripping up, falling down, making mistakes, following the easy path and suffering the misery from this. You want better things in life.

You know deep down inside of you is a different person, a better person, a great person, a person with potential. The real you is deep down inside you. You know who the real you is and it’s trying to get out. Why not let him out now? Defeat the old “you” and let the new “you” out. You can do all this with the power of decisions.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Overcoming Self-Criticism

Self-CriticismWhen you look in the mirror are you happy with who you see? If you are like most people you will tend to see your own faults over your qualities. It’s amazing how critical and judgmental we can be with ourselves. It can suck the vitality and energy out of our life if we are constantly chipping away at who we are. It’s like trying to blow up a balloon with a pin hole in it. It takes constant effort. Our incessant internal criticism and judgment deflates our self-esteem faster than we can fill it.

A certain amount of self-analysis is good and healthy. If not, we would never make any improvements in our lives. We need to examine ourselves from time to time and determine the areas we need to improve on. However, this can be overdone to the point of being hyper-critical and counter-productive. You become your own judge, jury and jailer.

What are the causes of Self-Criticism?

1. Comparing ourselves with others. We are great at putting ourselves down because we know ourselves the best. We are intimately and painfully aware of each of our faults. The trouble is, when we look at others we tend to see the polished and refined exterior and are unaware of the flaws and internal conflicts that they battle with each day. We tend to compare the worst in ourselves with the best in others. We can never win that game.

2. Unrealistic expectations of ourselves. It’s good to set goals and strive to make improvements in our lives. We should strive for excellence. However, some of us mistake perfection for excellence. When the goals we set are so high and out of reach for the average human being then we set ourselves up for failure.

3. Not realizing life is a process. Journeys are accomplished one step at a time. Bodies are grown one cell at a time. Buildings are built one brick at a time. These are all processes that are accomplished in a gradual, procedural way.

Imagine driving by a building under construction. What do you see? Half-built walls, pallets of bricks, scaffolding, unpainted surfaces, weeds and debris – it’s not a pretty sight. Imagine criticizing the building because of these flaws. That would be unreasonable because we know it isn’t finished yet. It’s under construction. Yet we fail to consider that our lives are not finished yet either. We are still under construction. Of course everything isn’t in perfect order yet. We are still in the middle of this process called “Life.”

What are the consequences of Self-Criticism?

1. Incorrect vision of ourselves. When we continually focus on our flaws and imperfections we get to the point of identifying ourselves as our flaws and imperfections. That’s who we become in our mind. Instead of thinking “I have a weight problem” we instead think “I’m fat.” It becomes who we are.

2. The “Why Try?” attitude. Since we identify ourselves with our defects and believe that’s who we are, then we feel like “what’s the use” in trying to change since that’s “just the way I am.” If you see yourself as a zebra then why try to change your stripes. It’s simply who you are.

3. Saps energy. It takes energy and effort to be constantly judging ourselves. Experiencing discouragement and disappointment in ourselves is like dragging around a heavy weight. It wears on you and drains your energy.

How can we overcome Self-Criticism?

1. Pay attention to what’s going on in your head. Make an effort throughout the day to be aware of how you talk to yourself in your mind. What are you saying?

“I’m such a loser”
“I’m so ugly”
“I never have enough money”
“I’m so fat”
“I’m such an idiot”

Be aware of these negative jabs at yourself and rein them in. Take control of your thoughts and shut down the negative ones.

2. Lower your unrealistic expectations. Give yourself a break. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. You’re not done yet. You’re still under construction as a person. I’m not talking about lowering your personal convictions or your personal moral standards – just your unrealistic expectations of yourself.

3. Focus on your good points. Start noticing what you are doing right. Focus on the positive things you accomplish every day. Make a list of all the things you are doing well and give yourself a pat on the back. Notice even small steps of forward progress.

T.S. Eliot wrote:

What is this self inside us, this silent observer,
Severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us
And urge us on to futile activity
And in the end, judge us still more severely
For the errors into which his own reproaches drove us?

When you truly overcome self-criticism you free your mind and energy to move forward in your life. You are not stuck in Paralysis by Analysis. You become at peace with who you are and where you are headed. Remember, there is only one person in the world that you are compelled to live with – and that is with yourself. It’s best you both get along!

Thank you.

Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson

Self-Pity – The ‘Luxury’ You Can’t Afford

Self-PerceptionTragedy and misfortune strike people every day. We open the newspaper and read about terrible things that happen to others. We ourselves are not immune to having bad things happen in our lives. As bad as these things are, there is something even worse than the tragedy itself. It is self-pity.

You can see how this can happen. People get immersed in a horrible experience and their energy is sapped and their defenses are down and it becomes easy to fall into the trap of self-pity. They begin to dwell on their hurts and hardships, whether real or imagined, and begin to enjoy talking about them and sharing them with others.

Self-Pity a Luxury?

Why do I call it a luxury? The dictionary tells us that a luxury is something we indulge in, is something we enjoy, is costly and is not necessary. Self-pity fits that description perfectly.

Wallowing in self-pity, like all habits, is hard to overcome once we become accustomed to it. We become comfortable with it and find that it’s hard to do without. We look for others to commiserate and sympathize with. But self-pity is unproductive. It causes us to be bitter and unforgiving and resentful. Self-pity doesn’t bring people together – it divides them. When you throw a pity party, you are the only invited guest.

Self-Pity and Self-Image

Self-pity allows us to feel that we are victims. It’s how we begin to define ourselves. It creates a distorted feeling of security. It gives us an excuse for not trying. It creates in us a “What’s-the-use attitude.” It’s been said that the nice thing about self-pity is that if you can’t get others to feel sorry for you, you can still feel sorry for yourself.

Self-Pity and Self-Destruction

I’ve known people who have been in horrible marriages. Maybe their spouse had a problem with drugs or gambling or is an alcoholic. They have experienced untold suffering. We know they have because of their constant complaining to others. They are continually looking for a shoulder to cry on. Their life seems to always be full of drama.

Strange as it may seem, when that person finally ends the relationship they are unhappy. They have nothing to complain about anymore. No one feels sorry for them anymore. They don’t get the attention they once had. They no longer have a crutch to lean on and are expected to live a normal life just like everybody else. This is a real blow.

Invariably the injured person goes out and marries someone as bad or worse than their first spouse. They find another drug-addict, wife-beater, alcoholic or gambler to marry so they can indulge in self-pity again.

It’s natural for us at times to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve all done it before and in reality it can help ease the pain of our trials. But when it turns into who we are and we continue to dwell on it and convince ourselves that we are victims and are in the hands of some uncontrollable fate, then it becomes detrimental to our well being.

If we permit ourselves to dwell upon our past hurts and injuries we are more likely to use them to justify our yielding to other destructive habits such as over-eating or drinking. We seem to think, “You would do the same if it happened to you.”

Self-Pity is for Losers

This may sound harsh but there are some who are losers because they want to be losers. They may not even be aware of it yet it is true. If things start to go well for them they get worried and concerned. They feel it can’t last. They then begin to self-sabotage their success. Why? Because they have become so used to feeling a certain way that the new feelings are uncomfortable to them. Since they have concluded that a loser is who they are then success is out of harmony with their self-image. They can’t stand that feeling.

It reminds me of a time when I needed to stop over at my church to pick up some papers. I was in my grubby work-in-the-yard clothes. I just needed to run in, grab what I needed, and leave. As I entered the church I realized there was another event taking place and everyone there was dressed in their Sunday best. I felt so out of place. I felt so uncomfortable. I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could and get back into the dirty and grimy environment of my yard work. I think that is why some people feel so uncomfortable when things start to go good in their lives. It is not compatible with the concept they have of themselves.

Overcoming Self-Pity

The solution is to realize that your unhappiness is caused by your self-centeredness. When you are continually focused on yourself it comes at the price of excluding all others. This self-absorption is like a fence around you that keeps out those who could lend you a hand. You have to take the focus off yourself and begin to see that there are those around you who also have trials and struggles in their lives and you can be someone they can lean on. And as you open up and reach out to help others, they in turn can help you.

Another way out of self-pity is through forgiveness – meaning your forgiveness of others. As you begin to forgive others of the perceived hurts and wrongs they have committed towards you, you can begin to heal and let go of the pain and self-pity. Is this easy? Not by a long shot. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

Helen Keller said,

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.

Let us rise above self-pity and use our efforts and energies for more fulfilling and positive endeavors. Thank you.

Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson

How to Make Your Self-Labels Work for You

Self-Labels

Self-Labels

Self-labels are an enormous force in your life without you realizing it. By understanding how self-labels are affecting your life you can begin to take back control over your feelings and actions. This article will help you understand what your self-labels are and how to change them.

What Are Self-Labels?

Everyone has self-labels. A self-label is simply how you automatically think about yourself. If you were asked to describe who you are, it is the description you would give. It is the list of attributes you would use to describe yourself. These are your self-labels. Our self-labels can be positive or negative. Here are some examples of self-labels:

  • I am smart
  • I am fat
  • I am a night-person
  • I am not athletic
  • I am a runner
  • I have a short temper
  • I am an artist
  • I am a smoker
  • I am impatient
  • I love computers
  • I hate country music
  • I love animals
  • I hate animals

You get the idea. Self-labels are the “facts” you believe about yourself whether they are true or not.

How Did You Get Your Self-Labels?

Where do these self-labels come from? There are several sources.

  1. Given to us by others – When we were growing up we were greatly influenced by the significant people around us such as our parents, siblings and friends. What they say to us and how they treat us aid in the formation of our self-image. We see images of ourselves in the “mirrors” others present to us and we believe those images regardless of how warped or imperfect those mirrors may be.
  2. Self-created – Many of our self-labels are self-created as we experience the normal ups and downs of life. They are created from our successes and failures, pains and joys, frustrations and triumphs.
  3. Media – The third way that self-labels are created is through the media that pours into our lives every day. Millions of dollars are spent on figuring out ways to make you feel that you don’t measure up unless you buy a certain product, look a certain way, drive a certain car or eat a certain food. We are blasted with messages like these from the media every day. They help form many of our self-labels.

How Are Your Self-Labels Affecting You?

You may be wondering why you should care about the self-labels in your life. Your self-labels are what make up your entire self-image of who you are. It is the blueprint your brain sees when it thinks about you. All of your actions and emotions will always be consistent with this blueprint. You will always act in harmony with it. It’s impossible for you to act in any other way except that which is in agreement with your blueprint of yourself.

The girl who thinks she is shy and unattractive to other people will manage to prove to herself that she really is shy and unattractive. The boy who thinks he is bad at math will find a way to fail at math. The man who believes he has a weakness for gambling will live up to that belief and continue gambling. The woman who believes she can’t sing will prove it over and over that she has no singing voice.

Each of us carries this mental picture or blueprint of ourselves in our minds and we simply cannot act contrary to it. To do so would not be in harmony with our beliefs about ourselves. We must live up to our self-labels.

What you continually tell yourself about yourself tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7) is an accurate statement.

Can You Change Your Self-Labels?

Can you change what you “think in your heart?” Can you change the mental blueprint you have of yourself? The answer is Yes!

Because we are dealing with “objective truth,” most people seldom recognize that the problem lies in their own evaluation of themselves. When they have tried to change in the past it didn’t work because their main efforts were aimed at their behavior, not the root of the problem which was their belief about themselves. One of the main strategies is to change your old labels to new labels.

Let’s look at the following two labels:

  1. I am a liar.
  2. I do lying.

Do you see the difference in these two self-labels? The difference is huge. When you say, “I am a liar” it gives the impression that this is a permanent condition and that you do it all the time. The “I am” makes it feel like this is what you are, that it’s part of you, that you inherited it and it’s something you can’t change or stop.

The second label has a very different feel to it. “It do lying” is still negative but it gives you the impression that you still have the possibility to change. It’s not who you are but something you do. It’s a behavior that you do occasionally. You can change from an “I am” label to an “I do” label very easily.

As you examine the negative labels in your life you can make this one simple change and give the labels a new meaning.

To take it one step further you can change a negative label to a positive label. “I am nonathletic” becomes “I am athletic.” I am fat” becomes “I am thin.” “I am bad at math” becomes “I am good at math.”

These simple words can have a powerful transforming effect on your life. You are, in effect, changing your mental blueprint of yourself. Once you have done this and truly believe your new self-labels, you can’t help but live up to that new picture of yourself. You must live in harmony with what you believe about yourself.

How Do You Change Your Self-Labels?

You can put this method to the test yourself by switching the words you use. Here are some simple ideas to help you do it.

  • Write down your old, negative, self-label
  • Change it to a new, positive, label and write it on card or sticky note
  • Look at it several times a day and say it out loud
  • Stick it on your mirror at home
  • Carry it with you
  • Change your wristwatch to the other wrist as a reminder
  • Choose a color and whenever you see that color say your new label
  • Put a button or bean in your pocket or shoe to remind you to say it often

You Are In Control

You are in charge of your thoughts. With this method you will become more aware of your thoughts and be able to control which thoughts you entertain on a regular basis. You can then be certain that your self-labels are positive and constructive because you consciously made a decision to make them that way.

Nothing will be of any use to us unless we have taken the most important step of all: The decision to produce change inside ourselves. Not a change in my father or mother, not a change in my wife, husband, children, not in anyone else—in myself. Let us initiate change in ourselves, for then and then only shall we be able to effect a change in other people. – Huxley

Thank you.

Master Yourself, Master Your Life

Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson

The Big Lie: “That’s Just the Way I Am”

DestinyToday I want to explore what habits are and how they get created. Each of us have things we do in our lives that we know aren’t good for us and are holding us back. We call these habits. There can be good habits and bad habits. Bad habits for some might be smoking or drinking or overeating or anger or swearing – it could be any number of things.

You hear people say, “That’s just the way I am. I was just born that way.” My response to that is – Baloney!

Yes, you were born with certain gifts and talents. But I don’t believe that an all-wise and loving God would implant in us destructive behaviors. Those behaviors or habits were learned after we came to this earth. The package we were born with did not include those items. Most of our habits, behaviors and personality traits were learned and I believe that anything that can be learned can be unlearned or changed.

What are habits?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a “habit” is described as a “constant, often unconscious inclination to perform an act, acquired through its frequent repetition.” So basically a habit is any action we perform so often that it become almost involuntary.

A habit is just your brain’s way of accomplishing a task easier or more efficiently. Once it learns a pattern or a habit, it can then repeat that action or behavior again with much less effort. It’s like a computer program which is simply a set of instructions for the computer to perform. A habit is just a set of instructions that your brain is given to do and then it goes on its merry way and does it. You don’t have to do much about it.

How are habits created?

These habits, behaviors and personality traits you possess are just a set of neurological relationships or pathways that have been created over a period of time. It’s like a trail in the wilderness. The first time over the trail you can scarcely see anything – a few footprints, a few bent blades of grass. But as you walk that trail again and again it becomes well worn. Every time you pass that way it becomes easier. After a while you don’t even have to think about it. That’s the simple explanation of how habits are created.

Let’s explore deeper how these habits are created.

Conditioned Response – Pavlov’s Dogs

We’ve all heard the story of how Ivan Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate at the ring of a bell. Every day, just before his dogs were given their food, he would ring a bell. The dogs made the connection in their minds that when a bell rang it was time to eat. It came to the point where he did this so often that when he rang a bell the dogs would begin to salivate even when no food was presented because they anticipated food was coming. It was a conditioned response. A habit.

Throughout our lives we have created thousands of conditioned responses in our minds. That’s how we live our lives and that’s how we were designed to be. When a certain condition is met, your brain responds in a certain way. That response was programmed into your mind. You weren’t born that way. Yes, there are some things you were born with. You came with some pre-set programs. But most of our behaviors and actions that we do now in our lives have been programmed into us. When a bell rings, we salivate.

Habits are neither good nor bad

These habits can be very useful for us in many ways but can also be very destructive in other ways. Habits are neither good nor bad in the same way that fire is neither good nor bad. A warm fire can keep you alive or a fire can burn down your house. A habit can make many daily tasks automatic and free your mind of the complex details of performing them. But a habit can also have a vise grip on your mind, causing you to perform destructive behaviors repeatedly.

Learning is the creation of habits

Sometimes we think learning is when you sit in a classroom and you learn facts and figures and information. That is part of learning. However, the real learning occurs in your physiological system, deep down in your nervous system.

You can attempt to teach someone how to swing a golf club in a classroom. You can show them pictures of it. You can diagram it on the blackboard and tell them everything there is to know about swinging a golf club. Your student can know everything about swinging a golf club but they still have not learned how to swing a golf club until they take that club in their hands and swing it over and over again. Only then is it programmed into their body, their mind, their nervous system.

Then, one day when this person is on the golf course and he picks up a golf club, his brain says, “Okay, run the ‘swing-the-golf-club’ program.” It brings back into his mind, into his memory, the software that has been programmed into his mind and he runs it. Now it’s not always perfect. You don’t run it exactly the same every time – but that’s what learning is about. That’s how we acquire these habits that we do every day. It’s a way of saving your brain from having to think about every little thing.

Sandwich Bag Example

Some time ago I had a simple little program in my brain that had to do with my kitchen at home. I used to get up every morning, eat breakfast, and make my lunch. At that time I liked to bring my lunch to work. For many years the sandwich bags had been in the second drawer next to the refrigerator. They had always been there and every time I made my lunch or needed a sandwich bag I would automatically reach for that second drawer.

One day my wife decided to reorganize the kitchen. When I went to reach for the sandwich bags I opened the drawer and there were a bunch of dish towels and I had to ask her, “Where are the sandwich bags?” She directed me to the third drawer, not the second drawer. So I got the sandwich bags out of the third drawer and made my lunch.

The next day I went to make my lunch. I reached automatically, without even thinking, for the second drawer. I was running my “make-my-lunch” program and my “make-my-lunch” program told me that when it’s time to get a sandwich bag to reach for the second drawer. I reached for the second drawer and there were no sandwich bags, only dish towels. I mentally berated myself for my stupidity and opened the third drawer, got a sandwich bag and made my lunch.

The next day I opened the second drawer for a sandwich bag, and did the exact same thing. This drawer has been changed now for several years and I still find myself from time to time automatically reaching for the second drawer when I need a sandwich bag. I have to stop myself and mentally tell myself to reach for the third drawer.

So why is it so hard for me to change that behavior? Well, first of all, I created that program long ago in my mind – the “Make-My-Lunch” program. The trigger is simple. It is simply the conscious thought that I need to make my lunch. The response is to reach down to the second drawer and grab a sandwich bag – I do this without even thinking! It’s programmed in. And when you’ve done that for years and years that program becomes stronger in your brain. Unlike a computer, your brain has the ability to strengthen a program and make it more powerful each time that it’s used.

Driving Home Example

Okay, another example, and I know all of you have done this. When you drive back and forth to a certain place every day, like your job, and you do it day after day for years, what happens? Do you have to think about how to drive home? Do you have to think about the speed limit? Do you have to think about where it is that you live? No! In fact, you don’t have to think about anything. You can think about something totally different the entire way home and you pull into the driveway and you may not remember anything about your drive home.

When you got in your car, that was the trigger or condition. Your external conditions told you it was time to go home. You looked at the clock. You saw you were getting into the car. You were at work and knew that every time you do that you drive home. So your conscious mind told your sub-conscious mind, “Take me home!” And your sub-conscious mind took over and you began driving home. You didn’t think about shifting gears, you didn’t think about anything. Your sub-conscious mind took over and it drove you home.

That’s why it’s so hard sometimes to break out of that pattern. You know what I’m talking about. My wife would call me at work and ask me to stop and pick up a gallon of milk on the way home. I say “sure” and when the time comes for me to come home I jump in my car and before I know it I’m home, with no milk! Then I think, “You idiot, you totally forgot the milk.” I let my program take over and off I went with my mind wandering in a totally different direction.

Driving Stick Shift Example

When you drove a car the very first time with a stick shift, how difficult was it? Remember grinding the gears, putting in the clutch, thinking “where’s the brake?” and then “oh my gosh, you mean I have to think about steering at the same time!” It was terrible! You thought, “How am I ever going to learn this?”

And now, after you’ve learned to drive, you jump in the car and start driving and you don’t even have to think about it. Why? Because it’s all programmed into you. You just run that program and you don’t have to think about it any more. Now your conscious mind is freed up to think about other things. You can be preparing a speech in your mind while you’re driving home. You can be thinking about your vacation two weeks ago. Your mind can be doing something totally different and your subconscious mind has taken over and is driving you home.

We are also programmed to feel emotions

I’ve talked about behaviors, about programs that get created in your mind that really have to do with actions. But aren’t we also programming our minds to feel certain emotions – not just actions but feelings?

Food Example

For example, is there a certain food that you dislike very very much? Think about that for a moment. Is there a food that you really dislike? Now think about that food and why is it that you dislike it. Other people, perfectly normal people, happen to like that food. Why? Why do they like it and you don’t? Why is it revolting to you?

More likely than not there was some time in your past when you had an experience with that food and that experience was not a good experience. Have you ever gotten sick and vomited up your dinner? You know, maybe you had, let’s be really grotesque here, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs in it and you got very sick. Your face turned green. You vomited it up all over your bed at night as a kid. Those slimy hot dogs covered with macaroni and cheese were all over you face and your pajamas and your bed. Not a very pleasant experience at all!

That is how you create a program very fast. You don’t have to do it over and over again because of the intense emotion you’re experiencing at the time. That is the fast path to programming your mind. It’s with emotion – intense emotion.

Music Example

Another example of programming your mind is with music. You may recall a time when you were driving along in your car and you were listening to the radio. A song comes on and all of a sudden you are flooded with wonderful feelings. It takes you right back to a certain time in your life when you were with that certain special someone. It could have been twenty-five years ago and you’re right back to where you were. That song – you love that song because of the way it makes you feel. It may not even be a very good song but it doesn’t matter. It’s what it makes you feel and experience that makes it such a special song. Whenever you hear that song it immediately sends you back to that wonderful time in your life.

Why is it that that song does that to you? How did it get programmed into your mind? Again, it’s the same thing. You were in a deep, powerful, emotional state when that song got programmed into your mind. You were in love. You were feeling wonderful feelings and that song came on the radio and you were with that special someone and it got embedded into your mind and linked up with that experience. That’s how your mind can be programmed in one step.

Smell – Cattle Yard Example

What about smell? Smell is another trigger. It is one of the most powerful triggers that we have of past experiences and emotions.

I have an example in my own life and it’s kind of strange. You know we smell certain smells and some are pleasant to us and some are not. We smell bread baking and it brings us back to when we were a kid at grandma’s house and so we love the smell of baking bread. It brings up back to happy times, good memories, Thanksgiving, etc. So a smell can be very pleasant to us.

I happen to have a memory or a program in my mind that is very unusual. Have you ever driven past a cattle yard? You know, you’ve been out in the country for a drive and you go past a cattle yard where there are hundreds of cattle in big pens and you smell that SMELL of the cattle yard as you drive by. It’s powerful. It’s made by cattle dung – piles of it. You drive by and you plug your nose and say, “OOOO, this is disgusting!” You roll up your windows and drive by it as quickly as you can. It’s not a pleasant smell to you.

Well, when I was a kid I lived out in the country. Every day on the way to school and on the way home from school our bus would drive by a large cattle yard. We would smell that pungent smell every time we drove by. Back then it was not a pleasant smell. None of us on the bus liked it. But that period of time in my life was a happy time for me. I had many great experiences during that part of my life. So now, when I drive past a cattle yard and smell that smell, what kind of feelings do you suppose it gives me? Strangely enough I love the smell of cattle yards because it takes me right back to that time in my life when I was 12 years old. So to me it’s a pleasant smell. I like the smell of cattle yards.

Now isn’t that strange? What makes a smell good or bad? What makes food taste good or bad?

You are the programmer of your mind

What I’m trying to get at here is this: there are conditions in your life that trigger certain responses. Some of your responses are behavior responses and some of your responses are emotional responses. Those were all created by you. Every day you are creating them. You create good programs and you create bad programs. You are the programmer!

It stands to reason that if you are the programmer of your habits and behaviors then the way you are is NOT just the way you are and always will be! If you are the programmer then you can control what new programs get created. If you are the programmer then you can erase and re-write old programs. Instead of allowing programs to be created sub-consciously without even knowing about it, you can now be the architect and designer of who you are! The malicious and obstructing belief that the way you are is just the way you are will no longer hold you back. You can put that belief away and move forward with your life. You can create a totally new YOU by reprogramming the software of your mind.

Thank you.

Master Yourself, Master Your Life

Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson