When you were a child, whatever fear came up, you figured out a way to survive the moment. These survival skills were very handy in adolescence simply because they worked to keep us alive!
Sure, we probably weren’t going to die, but it felt like it! Then, years later we became adults (well, some of us did 😉 ), and soon we were put into situations that caused similar fears and once again, that old survival mentality kicked back in.
Our brains went, “Oh yeah, I know how to get through this! I learned it as a child, this is an easy one. I’ll just… (fill in the blank).” We took the belief system we developed as children into our adult world and suddenly we feel stress and pain and hurt, and all kinds of things we didn’t expect.
That’s because we stuck to the old system of beliefs we created as children. And these beliefs are deep, so it’s no wonder we rarely question what we believe. But, isn’t it time to do just that? Especially if the results you are getting in life simply aren’t what you expected them to be?
Sounds like a trip to the subconscious mind is in store today!
Today’s quick quote is by Martha Beck, and it’s this:
Caring for your inner child has a powerful and surprisingly quick result: Do it, and the child heals
The term, “inner child” may be a bit overused sometimes, but would you be surprised to learn that the child in you is the source of not only a lot of your creativity and playfulness, but also your emotional challenges in life?
In fact, how you were treated, how you behaved and especially, what beliefs you created when you were young is very likely what is causing almost all of your struggles today.
Sure, things are happening in the present, but many of your reactions stem from the past. And because of that, much of the bad feelings you get today started a long time ago when you first experienced what it was like to feel that way.
The child you were was imprinted with values, a perception of the world, and a belief about that world, and you lived life with that structure going way into the adult world.
It’s like getting out of the driver’s seat for your brain and letting a six year old drive instead. This is great when you are playing and want to feel free and happy. But it’s not so great when you’re in the middle of an argument or getting emotionally triggered by something.
The child in us can come out at the wrong times, and they can take the wheel while we sit in the passenger seat hoping everything works out. But since the car was made for an adult, you already know what can happen when a child is driving…
This is a point of decision. Who do we let drive our mind: Our adult self or the child that’s still in us that wants to run the show?
That’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Who you were does not define who you are.
This statement is one of the most significant truths you should adopt as soon as possible.
I’ve learned from many self-help books and teachers throughout the years that you are the combination of everything that has happened to you, and how you behave is how you’ve been programmed to respond to all of life’s events.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I had a coaching client the other day that talked about responding to life’s events from her inner child. She could feel her emotions rise up in her and react to the situation as if she were not in control, but her child was.
You know who your inner child is, right? He or she is the person that learned how to survive in the world, and brought those sometimes very unhelpful survival skills into the adult world to deal with adult problems.
When you were a child, everything was about figuring out limitations. You pushed the boundaries on walking, running, swimming, biking, skating, hitting each other, and so much more. You wanted to experience as much as you could without the fear of what might happen because, quite frankly, you had no clue what might happen until you tried it.
When I was a kid, I rode my bicycle as fast as I could down a hill towards a mound of dirt at the bottom in order to gain as much air as possible.
I was 10. I had no stunt bike experience. I wasn’t wearing a helmet. And it was going to be the coolest thing ever to show my friends how far I could fly. After all, Evel Knievel was jumping busses with his motorcycle, so it made perfect sense that I would fly through the air, and land perfectly.
But you already know where I’m going with this, don’t you?
At about 150 mph (I’m exaggerating of course), I hit the jump and flew through the air in a blaze of glory. I’m not sure where my bicycle was, but there I was flailing wildly above the ground trying to get my balance.
It was phenomenal. I was more scared than I’d ever been, then I blacked out. When I came to, I looked up and noticed everyone around me trying to figure out if I was dead or not.
Having miraculously not suffered a broken bone, or even spraining an ankle, I went looking for my bike so that I could get home as fast as possible.
Sure, I survived a great stunt, but didn’t get to brag about it. In fact, I was hoping everyone forgot about it!
And as with many things in life, that moment came and went, and soon that stunt was just a memory never really to be mentioned by me or any of my friends again. I guess it felt a lot bigger and scarier than it actually looked from their perspective.
But that’s where the important part comes in. At that moment, I made a decision not to take too many big risks like that. I became more of an introvert and less involved in extracurricular activities.
It wasn’t only that specific incident, but it was one of many “failures” I had as a child that caused me to create a belief system of “Why try, I’ll fail”.
Why bother trying if I’m only going to fail anyway?
I grew up with this belief created by a child. Imagine if you followed the advice of a child? For example, if they told you what stocks to invest in or what kind of car to buy?
Some children may actually know this stuff, but that’s not the point. What I want to get across is that many of your decisions and behaviors come from a child’s perspective of the world.
A child’s perspective of love, for example, could be about how many toys his or her parents buy for them. Then when that child grows into an adult, and that perspective sticks around, they feel love when things are bought for them.
This is why the 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman is so popular. It talks about what we need in our life to feel love.
Regardless, your perceptions as a child are a lot different from how they are today. If you got yelled at a lot as a child, you probably developed an aversion to yelling today, maybe even becoming hypersensitive to it.
Now in the adult world, people yelling may make you uncomfortable.
In my case, I developed irrational fears regarding people who drank alcohol. I brought those same fears into the adult world and ruined a few relationships because of them. Once I explored what I really feared, I was able to let go of those childhood beliefs about people who drank alcohol.
Think about everything that you feel emotionally triggered by. An emotional trigger, at least the way I’m talking about it here, is when you feel bad when someone does or says something.
For example, I used to feel bad when the one I loved drank alcohol. I would feel hurt and unloved because that’s how my stepfather made me feel when he drank.
My belief was that, “He wouldn’t drink if he really loved me.” and also, “I feel scared when he’s drinking, therefore I don’t want to be around people who drink.”
Think about what beliefs you are holding onto from childhood that you still base your decisions and behavior on today.
The client that I mentioned earlier could actually catch herself behaving in a way that she didn’t want to behave, but didn’t know how to stop it. She felt it coming on, but couldn’t stop the negative emotions from coming up.
Those emotional triggers are your inner child’s survival mechanisms kicking in. There’s something now triggering a child’s response in you.
If you don’t like the term, “inner child”, just call them old beliefs or something. What old beliefs don’t apply to the world you’re living in today?
And what’s the difference between an old belief that doesn’t serve you anymore, or any belief that you believe still has a purpose and feel that it’s important to keep?
That’s what we’re talking about today.
I love the question, “Who’s driving the bus?” In therapeutic circles, the question refers to who’s actually in control of your decisions and actions.
There’s the “you” that is consciously aware of what you are doing, taking deliberate steps in the direction you want to go. Then there’s the “you” that reacts and does things out of character and sometimes beyond your conscious control.
This other you, the one that is not so conscious and more reactionary, is what I’m interested in talking about today. This is the part of you that is actually driving all of your decisions and behaviors. This is the part of you that is driving the bus!
What that means is that you consciously walk around and do the things you do. You have the power of free will and you make choices and say what you want to say. You feel free to turn left or right, or blink your eyes or not.
You feel free to breathe and yawn.
But think about it for a minute. Do you really believe that all of that stuff is conscious all the time? You’re not always thinking about what you’re going to do. You don’t have to think to breath, because your body remembers to do it for you.
And sometimes you’ll say things where you have no idea why you said them, or where they came from.
If you ever want to test this, have someone put you on stage in front of a crowd one day and tell you what you’re going to talk about at the last minute. You’ll have no preparation time, no notes, and you’ll just have to wing it.
Do you think you’d be okay? If you’re not used to doing this, you might think, “No way, I don’t think I could do that.”
But something happens when you are forced into this type of scenario: You suddenly have access to resources you didn’t think you had. Those resources come from that subconscious part of you that is actually running the show in the background.
We’re too busy staying consciously aware of things to realize that when needed, our subconscious can kick in and pull things off that we had no idea we could do.
I know this is true because of what happened to me. I was part of a training class and one of pop quizzes was to stand in front of the class and talk about a topic that we wouldn’t know about ahead of time.
When I was called up, I thought, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to do this”. I walked up to the teacher, he handed me a piece of paper that said lollipop.
I was like, “How am I going to talk for 5 minutes about lollipops?”
And something happened inside of me. I suddenly snapped into a different state of mind. I wasn’t thinking, I was flowing.
I drew a circle with a line on the board and asked the group what it was. Someone said, “Lollipop!” and I said, “That’s right, it’s a lollipop. That’s what we sell here and we need to sell more. And how are we going to do that?”
Then I went on presenting and interacting with the group for 5 minutes. People were laughing and really enjoyed my made up, on the fly presentation.
I had no clue what I was going to say, but I said what came to mind. And it was great! This exercise proved to me that no matter what, even if I’ve had no time to prepare, that I could trust my unconscious mind to come up with the resources I need to get through almost anything.
This can and probably has happened to you. It may or may not have been the same circumstance, but I bet you were in a position at one time in your life where you said and did things that later you went, “How did I do that?”
That’s because the part of you that’s unconscious is actually the one driving your brain. That part is “driving the bus”. This you is always in the background making decisions before you decide. It’s planning your actions before you act.
It’s thinking before you think.
In other words, every thought you have is being fed to you from another part of you.
What do you think of that?
But, you not being conscious of that part might think that you are running the show. But there are too many times when you react unconsciously to believe that’s true. If you were truly conscious of everything you were experiencing all the time, you’d never react badly because you’d think before you reacted.
But since reactions come from a more subconscious place, they bypass your conscious reasoning filters. What this means is that when you say something or do something you don’t mean, it wasn’t really the conscious you making that decision.
I hope that makes sense, because if you can grasp this, it will help you understand yourself and your behavior a lot better.
Have you ever smacked your kid, or your pet, and immediately felt bad for doing it afterward? Have you ever yelled at someone and thought, “Wow, that was mean. Why did I do that?”
These behaviors are pre-programmed deep within us, and they come out as reactions beyond our control.
But there’s a reason these reactions are there. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means that the subconscious mind is like a computer and does what it’s been programmed to do.
Your subconscious mind runs the show. It is the foundation of your beliefs, therefore, the engine that runs your decisions and behaviors. When you make a decision, it derives from a deeper part of you.
You may already know this, but doesn’t it make you wonder about free will? In other words, if there’s a part of you that’s making decisions before you consciously decide, it makes you wonder if you have any conscious control of your decisions in the first place!
You may think, “Well, I can change my mind if I want to!” And if you did, was that change a conscious choice, or was already decided before you decided?
It gets a little hairy talking about this stuff, because first off, we all want to believe we’re in control of our life in some way.
Secondly, it’s no fun if free will is taken out of the picture because then we’re just automatons on a track being dragged around doing whatever our subconscious has in mind for us.
But, there is a reprieve here. There is hope for all of us, regardless of free will. And that is how we develop our belief system.
The magic that programs our subconscious mind isn’t really magical at all. The decisions that are made before we consciously decide may not be fully controllable in the moment, but they can be programmed to respond and behave the way we want them to in the future.
We’re going to get into a little bit of woo woo here in a moment, but I promise to approach it from a practical standpoint. There is a way to program yourself for success by pre-programming your belief system to serve you.
Think about who’s driving the bus. You may believe you have conscious control of everything you do and say, but also be open to the perspective that conscious behavior comes from unconscious belief systems: Those underlying values, perceptions, and filters you have about the world you grew up in.
These unconscious belief systems run the show. And when you know how to program those underlying beliefs (beliefs you may not even know you have), you can alter your course and maybe even change your destiny.
Did I mention affirmations? Oh no! Let’s see where this goes…
What old beliefs are you carrying around that no longer serve you?
The problem with this question, one that I’ve asked before on this show, is that the reason you have a belief is because you believe it serves you!
That’s why I rarely use the term, “limiting beliefs”. Did you ever hear anyone use that?
“Let’s eliminate your limiting beliefs so that we can create new beliefs to help you succeed.”
I’ve used this term to describe how you have beliefs that you don’t even realize limit you in some way. A belief like, “I know I’ll never be healthy because my whole family has never been healthy” limits you in that you think you’ll never be healthy.
And, if you don’t think you’ll ever be healthy, you’ll never take steps towards creating good health for yourself. After all, why would you even try to be healthy? If your family wasn’t healthy, that just means you won’t be healthy either, right?
There’s an obvious flaw to that thinking however and it’s this: Genetics are a component of health, not the totality.
And you can use that line with just about anything you think you think about. For example:
Saving money is a component of wealth, not the totality of it.
Love is a component of life, not the totality of it.
On and on. Everything you have and do is a component of a bigger picture. So if you think your health is doomed because your family had health issues, then instead of feeling defeated, realize that you need to work a little harder on all of the other components of your health so that you don’t end up like them!
Another example is that you could believe that because your mom and dad did such and such to you that you will turn out a certain way, but what it really comes down to is that you end up in a way that is the result of the amount of attention you give to each component of the major areas of your life.
Or to make that easier to understand: You get what you put into all the components as a whole.
A good example of that is how you approach relationships. If you think all you need to do is love someone else and you have a relationship, your relationship will probably fail.
Love by itself is not enough. The people you love need to know you’re safe to be around too. They also need to know that you’ll support them when they need it, and that you’ll help them if they fail.
Love could already encompass all of these things for you, and if that’s the case, that’s great! But there are so many components to loving someone. That’s why I say ‘just loving someone isn’t enough to create a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship’.
But let’s get back to the topic at hand, and that is what we can do to create an empowering belief system that propels us along the path of personal growth and development.
We talked about how we really don’t run the show, our subconscious does. It’s turning all the dials and pulling all the levers.
Our conscious mind is simply going along as commanded.
But that’s no fun! How can we enjoy life if we believe that we are just going along for the ride?
I agree, there’s no joy in just tagging along! So here’s what you need to do to start taking control of your life again and creating the outcomes you want. You may not like it, because it’s not instant gratification, but it does work.
The secret to creating the life you want is two-fold:
- Remove the clutter of negative emotions and attachments
- Replace that space with positive programming
The first item is what I always talk about. It’s laid out in my book Clear the Path to Happiness, and it goes over what needs to be done to clear the obstacles that block the path to happiness.
I repeat it over and over again in this show, but I’ll say it again if you’re new to The Overwhelmed Brain:
Find someone safe, and express your pain, shame, misery and humiliation and embarrassment
This is the first step to processing and releasing all the negativity you may have stored in you. Once you do this, it’s like springing a leak on a giant dam. Once the leak starts, and the negative emotions pour out of you, you’ll start letting them all go. And you’ll feel free and empty of all that negativity.
There are other things you can do too, but that step is so important. But many of us don’t like it because it means admitting to things that we’re afraid to admit.
It means being called out on what we did and who we did it with. It means showing people that we are dysfunctional and handled things in a way we’re not proud of.
I say, “So what! Everyone has done things they wish they hadn’t. Everyone has regretted something along the path of life at some point.”
It’s just that some people hang onto it all their lives, hoping they never have to deal with it. You know how that goes, right? Hanging on to pain transforms into destructive habits and behavior. But finding someone safe to express and talk about your pain starts the process of healing.
And if you can’t find a safe friend or coach or counselor, just write down your thoughts. And be brutally honest about what you write.
If you hate, write that you hate. If you want to hurt or worse, write that down. It doesn’t matter what’s true or not, it matters what’s released when you do this process.
Number 2 is replace the space you created with positive programming.
Are you annoyed with affirmations? Are you tired of being told to “think positively”?
Recognize that? Affirmations feel like lies, don’t they?
Looking in the mirror saying, “You are a wonderful person. You are worthy and loved” can feel like you are being dishonest with yourself when you don’t really feel that way.
That’s why I’m usually very annoyed with just using affirmations without first clearing out the negativity.
Some people say affirmations overwrite the negative thoughts. But I say in many cases, they stuff your negative thoughts even further.
That’s not always true, as I do believe the brain can simply rewrite old programming. But it’s always true when you never let go of your old beliefs.
If you feel unworthy and say to yourself, “I am worthy” a hundred times a day, it’s possible it can become a habit, but at the end of the day, if there’s even an inkling of doubt that you’re not worthy, then the affirmations are helping you avoid processing and releasing the pain.
This is the test you can do with affirmations if you ever use them: Repeat them over and over again. If in a week you truly believe your affirmations, and have none of the old beliefs that prevented you from thinking the opposite of your affirmation in the first place, then you’ve reprogrammed your mind.
If however you have doubt after a week of repetition, the affirmations aren’t working.
Now here’s the kicker, affirmations can work. But you have to get rid of the clutter first. Clutter is all the negative thoughts you have going on inside. When those are dominating, you have very little chance of succeeding with affirmations.
But, once you are clear – you know, when you get your brain defogged – then you can tell your subconscious mind anything you want, and you will be able to program your future.
A much simpler way to explain that is this:
When you feel bad, affirmations probably won’t work, and you will continue to feel bad until you address what’s really causing you to feel that way. When you address the hard stuff and you can share it with safe people in your life, you start letting it go.
Most of us don’t get rid of the painful stuff because we feel there will be more pain sharing it with someone else.
For example, it’s hard to share how a loved one’s behavior hurts you if you are afraid they’ll leave you.
But, living your life being afraid of the consequences of expressing yourself is miserable. It’s the opposite of personal growth.
You want to grow. And in order to do that, you have to express what’s going on in the deepest part of you.
The pattern I see a lot is in adults who were either physically or especially sexually abused as children. They’re so afraid to talk about what happened because of how it will go over, so they hang on to the pain someone else gave to them just so they don’t have to deal with the consequences of talking about it.
The pain is usually much greater in abuse survivors, so that means their lives are usually more challenging. The more you hold in, the harder life is.
But, finding a group or a person to express everything to, no matter how bad it is, and no matter how bad you think it makes you look, is step 1 to freedom.
And once you are free from the burden of holding on to all the misery, you are free to start creating the future you want.
Yes, affirmations can work at this point. When there are no obstacles or stronger, negative programming in place, an affirmation is a great way to tell your subconscious mind what you want, how you want to feel, and what to do.
Now, it’s not only affirmations, but also what you feed your subconscious mind on a day to day basis. This second part is actually more important. The shows you watch, the people you interact with, the books you read, all compound into the bigger picture and each are a component of what gets created in your future.
You have the power to create free will by programming what you want into your brain. This programming comes in the form of whatever you feed your brain.
One of the most powerful forms of programming comes by interacting with other people. You can read and watch all the bad stuff you want, and it will affect you, but nothing affects you more than what other people do and say around you.
Even now, you’re listening to me and I am influencing you in some way. I have to choose my words carefully because I know that I am an influence in your life. But some other people are not so careful. They could say very mean-spirited things, and those things could stick with you if you’re around those people often.
You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most, and this is why. You are influenced even when you don’t want to be.
Here’s some proof of that. I want you to control what you think about, okay? I really want you to take control of your mind now.
Just control what you think about, it’s easy, right?
Now, don’t think about the tiny black kitten that I saw in a parking lot the other day. Seriously, a tiny, black, furry kitten, made the cutest noises, was in a parking lot. The mom came and got her and took her to safety, I hope.
But, just don’t think about the kitten.
Now, unless you are a master of your mind, you probably thought of a tiny black kitten.
What this means is that even when you try not to be influenced, you are still influenced. No matter what, you are influenced.
What that means is that bad people can influence you too. And when that happens, your mind can get programmed with bad thoughts.
This happened to me when I used to listen to Howard Stern many years ago. He’s a crude radio personality that usually comes across as very negative.
I found myself adopting a lot of negative beliefs just being entertained by him. I was starting to believe what he believed, and I didn’t know it was happening.
When I figured it out, I immediately stopped listening.
That’s hard to do sometimes because a lot of us tend to thrive on misery, as if experiencing other people’s misery is somehow freeing for us. But in reality, we are absorbing more of it.
So think about the people you are around most, and determine if you’re at a place in life that you want to be. Are the people you hang around most in alignment with your vision for yourself? Are they lifting you up or bringing you down?
And look at your own behavior towards others too. When you don’t like what someone else does, do you put them down for it, or do you support their decision to do it?
You can either be selfish and get what you want, or selfless and support what they want.
It works in reverse too: People can be supportive of you, even if you’re wrong, or they can put you down.
Which path is more empowering?
When you are empowered, you tend to make better decisions for yourself. When you feel bad, you tend not to.
Programming your subconscious mind is all about releasing the bad and letting in the good.
Once the bad is gone, programming is much easier.
Remember I said we were going to touch on the woo woo a little bit? Well, here it is: When you clear the path of obstacles, all those negative emotions and such, manifestation becomes easier.
“Manifestation” is one of those words you hear about in the Law of Attraction circles all the time. But, here’s what’s interesting, it’s true.
Manifestation does and can happen for you. It happens easier and faster when you release the pain from the past. If you truly want to put the vibe out there and get what you want in life, you’re not going to see those returns until you’re ready to face your inner demons and release the pain.
You can manifest what you want, but it will take work. It will take you being brave enough to express it all to someone safe, so you can start getting good returns in life.
Hang around good people, and you will get good returns.
Does family put you down and make you feel bad? It’s time to express the pain they are causing you, or just get away from them.
I know, I make it sound easy. But, listen to other episodes of this show and you’ll learn all the ways to do this.
You can create the life you want. You can manifest what you want. But, it takes work. It’s not just positive thinking, it’s dealing with the stuff you don’t want to deal with so that you don’t get triggered in the future.
When the pain is drained, the good will replace the bad.
If you can’t release it all, or are still working on it, you’re still heading in the right direction. And you can still manifest what you want in life. It might take longer, but always head in the direction of what’s best for you.
Remember that each step you take is a component of a bigger vision. You’re either growing and evolving, moving towards the vision you have for yourself, or your fearing and moving away from what you want.
You have an opportunity to change your future. You may not be getting everything you want right now, but you have the opportunity to start programming your mind for success in the future. And that future could be as soon as tomorrow.
So don’t get caught up in today and how you’re not where you need to be. Get motivated that everything you do is a step in the right direction. Follow your vision and all the details will work themselves out. That doesn’t mean your vision will manifest as you intended, but something will manifest that will be just as rewarding.
Think about the people that bring you down most and either walk away from them, or honor yourself when you’re around them. People can try to put you down, or they can put you down. It’s a hard choice, but it is a choice you can make.
People who lift you are the best type of people to be around. And of course, once you really honor who you are and start being compassionate towards yourself, you can become the most positive influence in your life.
Programming your future starts with draining the pain from the past, filling the space with positive programming, and always moving towards your vision.
So before we part today, I want you to think about something that you believe to be true that you don’t like. Whether it’s you’ll never make enough money, or have the health or the relationship you want, or whatever.
Now ask yourself two questions:
Is that belief really true? and Does it serve you? If you said “no” to either one, it’s time to adopt a belief that will serve you. Beliefs are created when you release old hurt.
And if you’ve tried everything to release the pain and you still can’t let it go, let me leave you with this: Pretend you are the last person on earth. No one else exists. You woke up, and there’s no one around.
The power is still on and you can do pretty much anything you want, but there are no people, at least that you know of.
Now think about any pain that you have from your past. Knowing that there are no people on earth, do you still feel the same about your pain?
I’m willing to bet something feels different when you think about it that way. Why do you think that is?
Just something to ponder.
Thanks for joining me today.
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The subconscious mind does what it’s told. It’s just like a computer. And in order to program it, we need to feed it what we want it to know. But doing that will take something you may not like… slowing down a little.
We are such an instant gratification society. We want to get on the internet and learn something new right away. We want answers now. We can’t wait! We want to microwave our food in 60 seconds and get our computer repaired as fast as possible.
There is some charm in waiting. Waiting helps us understand that life is a process, not a finale. I think anticipation of a thing is sometimes more exciting than getting the thing.
And if we can do that more often, we might just be happier more often.
We’ve gotten shorter attention spans over the years leading to shorter tolerance levels and less patience. And our desire for instant gratification actually does something you may not expect:
It distances us from our subconscious mind
And the farther we are from that, the less likely we’ll be able to program our mind so that we are making good decisions in life. And the reason we want to program our subconscious mind is so that we are not just a pawn in the game of life, but instead are somewhat in control of our lives.
What you feed your subconscious mind today determines your destiny tomorrow.
So start creating your destiny by feeding your mind with good people and good information. Let things happen a little slower every now and then so that you can develop appreciation and let you get back in touch with a part of you that you often forget about.
After a while, you’ll start to get more joy out of life, and appreciate not having so much instant gratification all the time. It’s sort of a meditation that you can do without meditating. That should save you some time, right! Ha ha.
So start the process by stepping into your power so that you can be firm in your decisions and actions, and this will help you create the life that you want.