Category Archives: Brain Power

Build Your Future Today

Re-Awaken This Ancient Process

One of the biggest problems facing us humans is a mismatch in our instincts and modern life.

Our instincts were developed to help us thrive in a hunter-gatherer environment.

But since society has been changing FAR MORE rapidly than our instincts can keep up, sometimes they slow us down.

The easiest way to see this is hunger.

Back in the caveman days, it was a BENEFIT to ALWAYS be hungry.

It was a benefit to eat as much as you could whenever there was food available.

Those that DIDN’T have this trait (to always be hungry and to always eat as much as possible whenever possible) were at a significant disadvantage.

Needless to say, if you ate as much as you could TODAY, whenever you had a chance, you wouldn’t be very healthy.

Consequently, something that HELPED us back in the day is something we MUST struggle with constantly.

Another thing that helped back then but can mess us up in all kinds of surprising ways is putting the cart before the horse.

It was a benefit, (it helped to speed up our thinking, and motivate us to action a lot quicker) to “mix up” cause and effect.

If we had to take the time to use pure logic and rationalize everything out, we would have died off LONG ago.

But those who made quick causal connections (A causes B, etc) even when they were FALSE, tended to last longer.

But today, we very rarely assume accurately whenever we make a “connection” between A and B.

News media (and medical researchers) take advantage of this ALL THE TIME.

It’s easy to find a CORRELATION between two things.

But it’s VERY DIFFICULT to prove one is CAUSING the other.

But that doesn’t keep us from ASSUMING that one thing is CAUSING the other.

One of the ways is the confusion between LEARNING and EDUCATION.

Most people think that EDUCATION causes LEARNING.

They both happened at the same time.

That was the stated purpose of “education.”

But could it be that LEARNING happened DESPITE education?

Could it be that whatever you LEARNED during the industrial process of EDUCATION was because of your NATURAL ABILITY to learn, and NOT the structure, or the environment?

After all, EDUCATION has only been around a few hundred years.

But humans have been LEARNING since before we even learned to speak.

In fact, most of the inventions of modern society happened OUTSIDE of traditional “education.”

Which means if you can get in touch with your inner-natural-learner, you can REDISCOVER that ancient process of lifelong learning.

And to NOT satisfy your teacher (or your parents or your boss) but to satisfy YOU.

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Use Your Brain

Is Your Brain An Ornament?

Imagine if you got a box in the mail.

It was really heavy, so you thought it was something cool.

But you opened it up and all it appeared to be was a black shiny object without any buttons or instructions or anything.

But it looked cool, you couldn’t really tell what the material was, so you put it up on your shelf.

Maybe sometimes people would ask about it, and you’d make up some story so you wouldn’t feel like a goof for accepting a strange package and using it as decoration.

Imagine if you went to a garage sale, and found a really cool set of paintbrushes. Maybe a few easels, and a massive set of paints.

While standing there, you looked up something similar on Amazon and found a set of the same stuff sold brand new for several thousand dollars.

And there it was, in front of you, virtually untouched, for five bucks.

You scooped it up, thinking maybe you’d sell it, or maybe even spend some time on YouTube learning the basics of painting.

It might end up being a cool hobby.

But the set of paints ended up in YOUR garage, in the same corner, covered by the same sheet.

We do this all the time.

Get stuff that we WAY underutilize, if we utilize them at all.

The prime example of this is our brains.

Capable of ENDLESS learning. (Well, we can learn as long as we draw breath).

Yet how much of your time is spent learning new things?

Having our brains and using them the way we do would be like spending millions of dollars on the world’s fastest supercomputers, loading them up with the best software available, and then using them to watch YouTube, or check social media.

Problem is that most of us associate learning with school.

With discipline, memorization and learning the most incredibly boring stuff on Earth.

Luckily, our brains are WAY more efficient than that.

And when you learn to unlock your potential, that’s when you’ll REALLY start to appreciate your gifts.

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Always Be Chasing Something Important

Get Women To Follow You

Most guys would do anything to get “a girl” to like them.

Unfortunately, when it’s gotten to that point, where you like her and she’s already decided she doesn’t like you, it’s too late.

The thing about us people is our brains are really pretty simple.

And by understanding how our brains operate, it’s pretty easy to get us to do stuff, (or get others to do stuff) if you know what you’re doing.

EXCEPT if they’ve made a clear decision BEFORE they interact with you that they DON’T want to do what you’re going to try and persuade them to do.

For example, if you walk onto a car lot and your main goal is to NOT buy a car, it’s going to be VERY HARD to sell you a car.

On the other hand, if you kind of, sort of want a new car, you’ll be a lot easier to persuade.

Which means, if that girl you like has ALREADY DECIDED she’s not interested in dating you, there’s not much you can do.

So it’s much better to focus on other girls.

But when you do that, it’s really pretty simple.

The easiest way to become VERY attractive to many girls is to have a huge plan for your life that will ALWAYS be MORE IMPORTANT than any girl.

This has to be real, it can’t be faked.

Women are hard wired to FOLLOW MEN. Many women are angry today because most men have NOTHING they are going after, which makes it VERY HARD to follow them.

Which means a lot of women are stuck doing the leading, which they HATE.

At least from a sexual-attraction standpoint.

All you need to do is take some time, figure out what you are going to chase (dreams, goals, visions) for your life.

And then start chasing it.

The effect on the women in your life will be profound.

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Social Confidence

How To Radiate Friendly Energy

Social Confidence

Nowadays, everything anybody famous does is always recorded.

However, most of those people KNOW they are being recorded and they act accordingly.

On top of that we have tons of “reality TV” showing people how they REALLY are.

Of course, it’s not REALLY how people are. They take a whole week of conversations, interactive behaviors and situations and edit them down to the BEST of the week.

So even those “reality TV stars” are more or less “packaged and sold.”

A long, long time ago, Nixon and his buddies got in trouble. Nixon secretly recorded everybody that came into his office.

And when the newspapers published the transcripts of what went on in those “secret” meetings between leaders of the free world, people were flabbergasted.

Not because of the CONTENT of their conversations, but the STRUCTURE.

Or the lack thereof.

Even when the leaders of the free world get together to have a powwow, if they think nobody’s listening, they speak like idiots.

“Uh, what about that thing?”

“Yeah, the, what, how do we, uh, that other stuff…”

Etc.

Unfortunately since most of us spend TONS of time watching FAKE PEOPLE behave as FAKELY as they can, when we act “normal” we don’t look so good in comparison.

But this is actually GOOD news.

Why?

Because if you ever need to make an impression on somebody, it’s pretty easy, since the competition ain’t all that.

But you DO need to do a LITTLE bit of practice.

But not much.

Luckily, there’s tons of opportunities to brush up on your social skills.

Chatting up people in line, for example, is a great way to practice.

Everybody’s bored, and wanting to pass the time (so long as they don’t have their eyes glued to their phones watching porn or something).

An EASY way to “break the ice” just for practice is to throw out a “pacing statement.”

These are verifiably TRUE statements about the environment.

It’s sunny today.

This line is slow.

That lady has a lot of pineapples in her cart.

The idea is to get the person you say these to to automatically agree. Say a couple of them, and you’ve effectively merged your frame with their frame.

Just this skill in and of itself is pretty useful, and will make you STAND OUT when people meet you.

Once because you will have practiced how to easily start conversations with anybody.

Two because you will radiate a different energy than most people.

One that says you’re friendly and easy to talk to.

Two things that will help people remember you from all the other people out there.

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Self Confidence

Back Pocket Skills

Self Confidence

You can get better at pretty much anything with practice.

The ideal situation is where you enjoy practicing, so getting better is fun.

Like musicians. They like to play, and they like to practice.

Compared to when I was a kid and I HAD to practice the violin.

Unfortunately, when it comes to a lot of things, we don’t seem to see them as “practice and get better” frame.

We see them through the, “some people are good and some people aren’t” frame.

Especially when it comes to anything regarding our brains.

Intelligence, learning ability, these are commonly thought to be “set in stone” but in reality they are very fluid.

Another thing that is very fluid (able to get better with practice) are social skills.

Most of us see somebody who is naturally outgoing and think, “Wow, I could never be that way.”

Which is OK if you really don’t like mingling with strangers. These days it can be pretty easy to hang out at home and STILL make a pretty good living.

However, for those who WANT to improve their social skills, it can seem pretty difficult.

Because most of the ideas of doing things like this require you to “feel the fear and do it anyway,” or “push through your anxiety,” until it becomes less of an issue.

While that DOES work, it requires a TON of motivation.

Luckily there IS another way. To increase your comfort zone from the inside out. So you can continue to feel comfortable while doing new behaviors.

After all, something like being exceptionally confident and outgoing can help out in a lot of ways.

Job interviews, capitalizing on opportunities, or just having fun in social situations.

Even if you ONLY want to be socially outgoing when you need to, it’s much better to HAVE the ability, just in case.

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Interrupting Patterns Can Lead To Expanding Opportunities

I Shot An Elephant In My Pajamas

I used to have this friend that had a particular skill. It wasn’t anything that was going to make him rich, or famous, but it was really fun to watch. The interesting thing was that whenever he tried to purposely do it, like think about it beforehand, it never was quite as amusing.

It even was less funny to watch, and more obviously forced, when there was a group of people, and somebody mentioned this particular skill, and then everybody turned and expected him to turn it on right on the spot. He wasn’t a shy guy, so he never melted under pressure or anything, but it seemed to be much more spontaneous whenever he just launched into this particular behavior without any prompting, and kind of riffed off of himself. Especially when it happened at a party or something when there were plenty of people around, and they were completely taken by surprise.

I was reading this article the other day about something called a pattern interrupt. This is something from NLP that goes way back. What is likely the most taught, or talked about, or referenced example is the handshake interrupt.

Milton Erickson, the famous hypnotherapist invented this, mostly by trial and error. He would walk up to somebody, stick out his hand, and right in the middle of the handshake, he would suddenly shift into hypnotist mode, and pretty soon the person would be standing there staring at his or her hand.

The way it works is like this. The brain is a very lazy organ. Perhaps lazy is the wrong word. The brain is a very efficient organ. It doesn’t want to waste a bunch of energy figuring out the same things over and over. The brain likes to find patterns, so that it doesn’t have to expend a lot of energy. Most people are surprised when they find out that the brain burns over twenty percent of your daily energy. So it makes sense it wants to make things as efficient as possible.

So the way it does this is it looks for patterns whenever possible. Like when you first learned how to open a door, you pretty much knew how to open all doors. And when you first learned the alphabet, you could read any font, regardless of how esoteric or flowery it was.

If your brain had to stop everything, and spend all its energy trying to relearn how to open a door every time, then you wouldn’t get much accomplished.

One of the reasons, according to many evolutionary biologists, for the reason of our powerful brain was because we had to develop all kinds of complex social skills as we evolved on the African plains. So a large part of our brain goes into reading body language, and trying to decide who to trust and who we can take advantage of.

So it makes sense that patterns involving other people are very important to the brain. Once we figure out certain behaviors that we do over and over again, it can potentially save a lot of energy.

Meeting somebody for the first time is one of those patterns. If you can imagine what it would be like if we had to invent ways to get to know somebody every single time we met somebody new, it would be an extraordinary burden on our brain. Meeting somebody for the first time is extremely important, because how accurately we judge them can have a profound effect on our future safety, especially when you consider what it was like back in the caveman days.

If you made the wrong impression about somebody, perhaps thinking if they were harmless when they were really a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it could be devastating later on. So when you meet somebody for the first time, you need as much brainpower as possible to “feel them out,” so to speak. Which makes the handshake interrupt very powerful.

The automatic portion of the handshake, where you respond by sticking out your hand when somebody sticks out there, grab it and pump it a few times, and say the automatic “My names Jack, nice to meet you, nice to meet you too…” is rarely given any conscious thought.

So when Erickson would stop right in the middle of the handshake, people were completely thrown off balance. The mind is do entrenched in the automatic behavior that there is a complete and total shutdown of all thought for a few moments as the “targets” tried to figure out what was going on. And during this brief window, Erickson would see how much he could get away with.

A typical interaction would go like this:

Erickson (sticking his hand out) “Hi!”
Mark (Responding with his hand) “Hi.”
Erickson (freezing the handshake in the middle) “Nice to meet you my name is….”

And then he’d quickly grab the other guys hand with his non shaking hand, gently turn it and lift it so the other guy was staring at his palm. He would do this in less than a second.

“..as you look at your hand you can start to wonder about all those things you’ve forgotten, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to stand here and think of all those wonderful things…” or something similar, that would take up as much of the guys brain CPU as possible.

Then he would walk away and leave the guy staring at his hand.

I think the reason my friend was so funny when he was so spontaneous, was that everybody was busy caught up in their pre-programmed “behavior” and they would be shaken when he started to act out his bizarre behavior. If you take any popular joke, a key element is something that is completely unexpected, especially if the joke is a play on words or something, and delivers a punch line that completely shakes up the imagine that you were led to automatically think.

The old Groucho Marx joke comes to mind:

“Last night I shop an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

Or the famous linguistic example of ambiguity:

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

I’m sure you can think of many others.

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Expanding Energy Leads To Increasing Resourcefulness

Spaghetti

Once I had this really strange and sudden desire to eat Italian food. It wasn’t even close to lunch or dinnertime. The feeling just completely hit me out of the blue. Since I didn’t have any real solid plans for the next couple hours, I figured I’d go downtown and find an Italian restaurant.

Not being big fan of sit down type restaurants, (I almost always get food to go whenever I’m too lazy to cook) I wasn’t too familiar with the fine dining landscape, so I expected to have to search for a while. I did have a couple ideas on where I cold find something decent, hopefully before the strange desire vanished, and I found myself knee deep in ravioli with no motivation to transform it into human energy.

Energy is an interesting thing. Most people consider energy as some kind of matter in motion. When somebody is hyperactive and in a good mood, they say he or she has a lot of energy.

Some energy is more expensive than others. You can spend tons of money on electricity, or you can build a windmill in your backyard. The funny thing is that your toaster really won’t be able to tell where you are getting your energy. 110 volts is 110 volts despite how it was generated.

I suppose you could also build a nuclear power plant in your backyard, but you’d probably need a pretty big backyard, and it may be hard to find some fissionable material. You’d also need a safe place to keep it, and most people’s back yards aren’t big enough to put everything. And the people that do have back yards big enough to not only build their own nuclear reactors as well as a place to keep all their uranium don’t usually do so, since cheap electricity is the least of their concerns. They’re worried about what to wear to the Oscars or something.

It’s kind of interesting when you take a step back, and see things in a different light. You decide what you need in order to get something, and you set out to get that thing you think you must have before you get that other thing.

But then along the way, by getting those items you previously imagined were a prerequisite for that super important thing, you actually care less about getting the super important thing, and those prerequisites seem to satisfy you in ways you never imagined. Usually at a deeper level that you thought you’d get from achieving that super important thing in the first place.

And paradoxically, the less you value something, the more you start to get it. Pretty soon you’ve got oodles of that thing you used to think was super important, and now it doesn’t seem to matter much.

Huh?

For example, guys that are naturals with girls don’t read all kinds of books and spend all kinds of time practicing the right pickup lines, and making sure their clothes are all perfectly matched. Guys that are natural go out to have fun, don’t are much about meeting girls, but are somehow always surrounded by girls desperate for their attention.

Or people that are fabulously wealthy seem to always have a knack for making more money. But making money isn’t their primary goal; it’s more like a side effect. They just enjoy doing whatever it is they enjoy, to the point where get really good at it, and the money follows.

There aren’t too many professional athletes that originally got into sports because they thought it would be a way to make a living. Sure, plenty of athletes, after they discovered their talents decided it might be a pretty lucrative meal ticket, but that was after they played their particular sport for a long while, usually since early childhood.

Obviously, not everybody is naturally good at something that will make you rich. Most of us have to find things that we like, and get good enough to make a decent living doing them.

But if you dig deep, you’ll find plenty of natural talents that when applied creatively, will earn you a good chunk of change, if you focus on developing your talents, and enjoy doing so, rather than simply looking for a paycheck.

I suppose in a few years, maybe even in this generation (depending on which generation you count yourself among) they’ll develop some truly renewable energy resource that doesn’t require much environmental impact, nor space to store all that uranium. I think tapping into ocean currents is one way that future generations will have unlimited energy for pretty cheap.

And when I finally showed up at where I remembered the Italian restaurant to be, I was glad that I still had my cravings. And wanting to take full advance of that fact, I ate quite a bit.

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The Secret Behind Human Intelligence

Captain, That Is Illogical

Here’s an interesting mind experiment. Ready? Here is the situation; you have four cards, with the following faces showing. D, 7, 3, F. You are told that each card has a number on one side, and a letter on the other. Now you are given a statement:

On every card that shows a “D” on one side, there is a “3” on the other side.

Here is the challenge: How many cards do you need to turn over, and which cards, to conclusively prove or disprove the following statement, and which cards do you turn over?

While you may find this easy (I didn’t I had to cheat and read the logic behind the explanation to get it,) most people don’t. In face, when this study was first concocted by a couple of professors at Stanford (where you’d think there’s be some smart people) only about one out of four got the answer right.

Now here’s the same question, presented another way:

You are a bouncer at a bar. The rules are that you can’t drink unless you are twenty-one. Now the cards are “drinking coke, drinking beer, 16 years old, 25 years old.” Or if you prefer, there are four people sitting at the bar. One is drinking beer (you don’t know how old they are) one is drinking coke (you don’t know how old they are) one is 25 (you don’t know what they are drinking) and one is sixteen (you don’t know what they are drinking).

From a logical standpoint, the problem is identical, yet when presented the second way, most people quickly realize that in order to figure out if anybody is breaking any laws, all you do is card the person drinking beer, and quickly check what the sixteen year old is drinking. In effect, turning over two cards to see what is on the other side.

As in the case above, you turn over the “D” to verify it if has a three on the other side, and you turn over the “7” to make sure it doesn’t have a “D” on the other side. If the D has a 3, and the 7 doesn’t have a D, then the statement is correct. If the D doesn’t have a three, and the 7 has a D, then the statement is incorrect.

The underlying problem is why, when the logic is identical, do so many people have a hard time (as I did) with the first question, and a much easier time (as I did) with the second question?

One answer could be that we aren’t as logically thinking as we’d like to believe. It may be that our brains aren’t designed to think in terms of Vulcan logic like Mr. Spock, but to think only in terms of social interactions, specifically to uncover social “cheats,” those that would break unwritten social contracts.

The thinking behind this idea goes like this. Humans lived in small groups for a couple hundred thousand years. That’s when we developed our “humanness” so to speak. One thing that evolutionary biologists think is one of the major driving forces behind the massive growth of the human brain during our history was social pressure from within the group. Our brains, our language, our thinking was all developed to outsmart each other within that small group of wandering nomads all those years ago.

Numerous studies of chimps and various apes have shown this to be a major portion for the need for their large brains as well. Most of them have plenty of food where they live, don’t need to organize sophisticated hunting parties, or come with complex methods of evading predators. Most of their thinking power, many believe, is so they can outsmart each other and rise as high in the social order as possible.

When humans developed language many, many years ago, we just took it a couple notches higher (to say the least) and developed all kinds of conscious and unconscious social skills. We learned to read facial expressions and body language, learned how to tell when somebody is cheating or lying, and be able to cheat and lie ourselves.

Many species have a specific feature, which is there solely for sexual competition within the species. The most often given example is the peacock’s tail. When peahens get together to choose their mate, they choose the male with the most flamboyant tail. Interestingly, the more flamboyant the tail, the dangerous it is for the peacock, as he is a much easier prey for predators, as well as having to lug that huge thing around should he have to run away.

In other species, they have other aspects. Bull seals have their size and strength, gorilla’s have their silver stripe of hair on their back, different birds have various ways to strut their stuff, from colored feathers to singing ability.

In humans, it is our brains, more specifically our verbal and social skills that became the driving force of sexual selection. Those that were the most eloquent, and the most persuasive, were the most prolific, and left the most offspring. Those offspring, having inherited slightly higher skills for eloquence and social prowess, in turn competed with each other. Continue that process for a few hundred thousand years, and you’ve got these big-brained humans walking around.

Us.

Something to think about yet next time you’re at a bar or club or other social gathering, and watching the vast throng trying to talk their genes into eternity.

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How To Make Everything A Logical Conclusion

Follow The Bouncing Ball

Once I had this friend who had this really overactive imagination. I guess overactive isn’t quite the right term, as I don’t suppose his biochemical neuro activity was any more or less than the next guy. But he had two things that stood out when it came to his imagination. He was very good at verbalizing his thoughts, as they came up, as well as getting on a track, and just keep on going.

I’ve met some people that were absolutely scatterbrained, they’d be talking about the benefits of exercise, and all of a sudden start talking about something that happened to them last weekend, and then remark about how the grocery was having a sale on bananas. All without any logical switch between the two. Of course, in their mind, there is always a logical switch, or at least a neurological connection somehow. You fire up one neuron, and the other neurons that are connected to it get fired up, and then the surrounding ones in turn get fired up, until you have a large enough cluster centered around what your brain thinks is an important idea, or a pertinent memory, and that kicks the verbalizing department into action, and pretty soon your listeners are wondering what planet you’re from.

Most people, when you listen to them, you can sort of see the connection in their ramblings. They’ll be talking about oranges, and then mention their grandfather was an orange farmer, and then tell some story about how they went fishing once one summer with their grandfather, and pretty soon, the story is all over the place, but it’s left a trail of bread crumbs back to the original story or idea.

I remember when I was in college, when we used to sit around in our dorm rooms in an altered state (due to excessive studying, of course), we’d sometimes try and follow our conversation backwards and see how many ideas we could link. “You were talking about this, and that was because he was talking about that, because you said, the other thing, which reminded of his pet when he was a kid…”

It usually didn’t work out so well, as you’d probably already guessed.

But this guy would not only clearly ramble on about his imaginations, but he would do so in such a linear and easy to follow fashion, that it was a kick just to sit back and let watch him go. It got to the point that when he started talking, we’d all kind inwardly smile, and know when to just shut up and enjoy his imagination.

The funny thing was that sometimes he would go off in a positive direction, and other times he would go off in a negative direction. Positive meaning he would start thinking in “best case scenario” terms and the end result would be everybody getting laid like rock stars and getting paid millions of dollars for barely passing a geometry test.

When he would go off on a negative bent, we’d all end up serving a life term on death row in a Mexican prison, figuratively. The funny thing was that he knew full well that we enjoyed listening to him go off on his tangents, and it became kind of like an impromptu performance art. Once he started, he would see how far he would go.

But the interesting thing was that whichever direction he started off in, he would always stay in that direction, either positive or negative. I asked him about it once, and he said that the brain was just like a muscle. Just like you can train your muscles to do certain things, you can train you brain to do certain things.

If you train your muscle to do certain repetitive actions, it becomes unconscious and automatic. If you know how to dribble a basketball, there was a time when you didn’t, and you had to go through the process of learning. Maybe you learned quickly, maybe it took a while. Maybe you had to start by watching the ball, and watching your hand, and you had to be all by yourself, otherwise you’d lose control of the ball, and you’d have to chase it down the street or something.

But after you learned how to dribble without looking at the ball and your hand, you then maybe learned how to walk and dribble at the same time. You could direct where the bouncing ball when without even looking at it. If you kept at it, then you may have been able to move sideways, backwards, even a slow job while keeping the ball under control.

I remember once when I was a kid I spent a couple hours one day learning how to dribble between my legs. I saw somebody on TV do it, and I thought was pretty cool, and I wanted to learn how. After a while, I could dribble back and forth between hands, between my legs, while I was walking, without even looking.

This guy with the amazing skills of imagination said the same is true of your thoughts. If you just let them go wherever they go, they’ll usually end up in a bad place of fear or anxiety, as that’s the way the brain is hard wired from evolution. To always be on the lookout for danger. But if you train your thoughts like you train your self to dribble a basketball, pretty soon, you can direct your thoughts in any direction, and they’ll start going there automatically.

He said that once he learned how to do this, he had great fun just setting a basic intention, and a theme, and then letting his mind do the rest. It would pretty much go in the direction he sent it without having to keep conscious focus on it, like when you are beginning to dribble a basketball.

And if you can learn to direct your thoughts as well as some people can dribble a basketball, there’s no limit to what you can creatively come up with.

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Visualize Yourself To Victory

How To Change The Playing Field In Your Favor

I remember once, a long time ago, way back when I was in Junior High school, I was playing golf with a couple of friends after school. There was one hole that I always had trouble with. The first 80 yards or so, you had to hit your ball over part of a lake. The part of the lake that you had to hit over ended on the left edge of where the fairway would be, and to the right it only got bigger. Being a habitual slicer, I usually sliced off to the right, and into the water.

In order to get over the water hazard, I only had to hit a normal shot. My normal shot didn’t start to fade until about fifty to a hundred yards or so, which gave me enough distance to get over the water if I could ever hit a normal shot. My problem was that on that particular hole, I never hit a normal shot. My drive was rarely more then ten yards or so off the ground and sliced a lot earlier and more pronounced than normal, sending my ball straight into the large area of the lake.

From a pure physics standpoint this is easy to understand. If you flinch even slightly in the direction of lifting your head to see where the ball went, you’ll hit the ball just a little bit higher than normal, giving you less height, and in my case, more slice, as I twisted the club head just a little bit more than I normally would have.

The funny thing is that I lifted my head because I was unconsciously worried about slicing into the lake. And because I lifted my head, I sliced into the lake. My unconscious actions, (e.g. lifting my head up and turning the club head more than normal,) which were based on my fears, actually caused my fears to come true, rather than preventing them.

From a structural standpoint, it went like this: I had this fear about an outcome based on a planned action. My anxiety going into the action changed the action slightly, and became the direct cause of my fears coming true.

In this particular case, it was one off shot, so to speak. I hit it in the water; walked about halfway up the fairway, about even where my ball went into the lake (next to all my other balls) dropped a ball, took a penalty and went on my way. This was a one-time event, which in the end only increased my score by two. The rest of the course was wide and open, so I could slice all over the place and be OK.

Naturally, every time I teed up on that particular hole, I remembered all the other slices into he water, which of course increased my anxiety, and made it much more likely to repeat the error. But only being a golf game, and only being in Junior high school, I figured that was normal. Until my friend shared with me a powerful secret that I still use today, and you can to, to break out whatever rut you happened to be in.

This problem, often called a self fulfilling prophecy, can present itself in many ways, and the feedback loop can be much more debilitating that a couple of strokes on an afternoon golf game.

Suppose you are a single guy, and you see a girl you like. You walk up to her, introduce yourself, and she blows you off. Happens all the time right? Only next time you walk up to a girl, you remember the last one that blew you off, and it makes our approach less effective. You are nervous, can’t hold eye contact, and basically come across as kind of creepy. This makes you get rejected even more harshly, which in turns makes approaching another girl too scary to even contemplate. You have effectively locked yourself into a vicious circle of defeat, by using your worst possible past in order to hallucinate a likely outcome. The likely outcome terrifies you so much; it cripples your behavior, and virtually guarantees itself.

Another example. You go ask your boss for a raise. He turns you down. You become depressed, and your motivation to work hard decreases slightly, which in turn decreases your productivity a little bit. Next time you ask for a raise, your boss is even less likely to give you one, based on your productivity. If you get locked into this horrible tailspin, you may very well find yourself on the list of people who are expendable when budget cuts are mentioned.

One of the insidious things about these self-defeating cycles is that it is incredibly easy to blame others for your predicament. The guy who is approaching girls can blame women for being stuck up and not having the ability to see his true worth. Maybe they think he’s too short, or doesn’t make enough money. This can lead to a belief that all women are shallow and materialistic

The guy who never gets a raise can blame his boss, the economy, his coworkers for talking about him when he’s not around, and so on.

As difficult as it sounds, only when you take responsibility for your lot in life do you have a shot at bootstrapping yourself up and out of any vicious cycle of defeat you may find yourself in. Even though that often times others are culpable, some bosses do play favorites, and many people, both men and women, are shallow and materialistic, that doesn’t help you a bit. You can’t change the world, but you can change how you interpret it and react to it. That is completely in your control.

So one day, just as I was teeing up, my friend, says “Hey wait, before you hit, just close your eyes and pretend there is nothing but a huge patch of green grass in front of you.” I tried it, and it worked. I don’t think I ever hit another ball in the water after that.

The funny thing is that he didn’t tell me to visualize my ball bouncing on the other side of the lake, like most sports psychologists would have you do, or visualize how I’d feel when I hit it over the water. The advice my friend told me was to imagine the playing field, the course, was physically different than it really was. By imagining a different playing field, my actions changed automatically.

It’s so easy to argue until we’re blue in the face that “the playing field isn’t equal” and that others have advantages and opportunities that we don’t have. But what if you could simply hallucinate a more helpful playing field, and allow your actions to naturally respond to your hallucination?

What if before approaching some cute girl in a bookstore, instead of going through the difficult procedure of imagining a positive outcome, and planning his various openers, he simply imagined that all girls were irresistibly attracted to his type? There’s no rule that says your imaginations have to be true or accurate, only that they lead to behaviors that get you what you want.

And what if the guy in the office imagined he was the boss’s nephew, or that he’d pulled him out of a burning care a week earlier, or something else as ludicrous? Sure, it’s completely false, but what if it works?

Something to think about next time you’re gearing up to imagine yourself into a positive outcome.

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Success with NLP

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