You tried to make changes starting in 2017, the first few weeks you were determined to put everything into it.
But you keep finding yourself stuck and not taking any action… Does that mean it’s just not for you, should you just move on?
“Why don’t we do the things we should do, to get what we want?”
Part 1 — What is the catalyst for change?
What are the things we most want?
Feel better?…A promotion?…Lose weight?…Have better relationships?
Success is working towards a goal. It implies some kind of change or growth must occur to reach the higher level or state. We gain a huge amount of satisfaction from success and we find we’re very good at isolated skills which we tend to focus on.
But then we hit a ceiling and to take the next step we may find a new kind of growth needs to occur, something we’re not comfortable with, something that is perceived to be difficult.
Everyone knows the answer, its so intuitive — ‘You need to stick with it, just do it, it’s one decision after another. It will eventually be worth it’.
Well then why don’t we?
The fact is most people don’t change — Even when we know how, even when we have the best evidence, even when it’s our life or our happiness on the line.
We just tend to find reasons why we can’t.
To understand what makes people change, I wanted to understand what keeps people the same…
I’m a skeptic and I always wondered how people believed things when faced with over whelming evidence to the contrary — Even me.
This is how I realised.
Evidence plays second fiddle to something…
And I finally understood, what keeps us stationary is of the same kind that drives us forward.
Change is so hard because a set of beliefs makes us who we are.
And these beliefs lie deep inside our unconscious mind in the emotional part of our brain.
We dogmatically apply our beliefs even when presented with the most compelling evidence.
Beliefs resist change, but when our beliefs do change, who we are changes along with them.
I now want to separate behaviours from actions.
Actions come from the conscious rational mind, our normal experience.
Behaviours come from the emotional mind, our unconscious experience.
We always make emotional decisions before we consciously become aware of them. It takes far more energy to override our emotional decision with logic and take conscious action — than to follow through with our engrained behaviours.
I love those shoes — But I’ve spent too much money this month.
I’ll just have 1 beer — I’m limiting my alcohol for the next 2 months.
This is why we struggle to make change.
If you want to lose weight, the gain in weight you have is due to a set of beliefs, which have become your behaviours.
“I drink with my friends every Friday night”
“I get pizza on Sundays”
“I love having something sweet at night”.
If this is true, to lose weight we should shift our focus away from the actions we take and move it to the beliefs that control our ongoing behaviours. Which is completely backwards to the convention.
Because in the case of weight loss, which requires months of consistency, if you just try to take new actions everyday like not having pizza, you just burn yourself out. You end up completely drained and give up — It’s inevitable.
To think that weight loss is just changing one decision after another goes completely against our psychology and explains exactly why we fail.
Let’s say I get to the point where I really need to make a change…
My alcoholism is too much for my family, for my health and bank account.
I realised that my lack of activity is causing my back pain and preventing me from working.
My public speaking skills need to improve to be a better manager at work.
More than 50% of adults are overweight, of those who DO manage to lose weight. 4/5 of them will put the weight back on in 12 months
Weight gain is something we can see, so it gets more attention. But surely these numbers aren’t isolated to body fat only. Weight gain is a result of behaviour, which is in our unconscious mind and is not subject to logic.
Therefore it is entirely possible these numbers represent any or all behaviours — largely reflecting our inability to change anything about ourselves. But in a deeper way, reflecting our inability to recognise and update our own beliefs.
The numbers above say it’s VERY difficult to change…
But having said that, it’s far from impossible and I think it’s actually quite easy.
I think our culture is suffering from a far more insidious problem than obesity. We’re suffering from an inability to adapt. Coming from a lack of self awareness and emotional connection.
Our survival as a species wasn’t due to our intelligence or strength. It was our adaption — Now I expect everything else to adapt to my special needs.
I’m going to explore this idea of adaption but I’ll refer to it as change.
Let’s begin with the consistencies in the 1/5, the people who DO change their behaviour long-term and get results?
Everyone I observed over 8 years who made long-term change was influenced but a deeply emotional experience — Some kind of trauma. A break up, a poor performance, a death, an accident, a bad experience. ALWAYS!
It was an experience that would bury so deep it would expose their unconscious, open it up like a gate. So what ever they were thinking about would then get trapped deep down in their emotions. And quite often in times of pain we ask questions. We ask why?…
The highly emotional state of trauma gives us a gateway to the unconscious. In answering the questions we have, we create new beliefs about ourselves and the world which changes us forever and we adjust our behaviour to align with those new beliefs.
Part 2 — Meaning creates behaviours
New beliefs can inspire us to make dramatic positive change and drive us to reach achievements previously unimaginable to us.
As much as beliefs can drive us forward, they can also destroy and corrode us from within.
The wild thing about trauma is, if you’re not aware you’re vulnerable at that time, belief changes can go completely unnoticed. Even so, these new beliefs will make us to feel like making changes in our life — to align with the new beliefs we created. Now if we don’t act on these feelings, we build up anxiety, regret, loathing, which we feel through our entire body and without any apparent cause.
If we’re disconnected from our emotions, unaware of the questions and fail to acknowledge the beliefs that change during highly emotional periods…We won’t have any idea how we’ve changed, grown or shifted.
The nature of the beliefs we create, either positive or negative, within this emotional window are determined by the meaning we give the experience. What frame we choose to take when we answer these questions of why…
We can choose to take a negative frame, a negative perspective and look at the experience with feelings of fear, pain and regret.
We can choose to take a positive frame, a positive perspective and look at the experience with feelings of love, gratitude and connection.
The unconscious beliefs created by fear & hate, that lead to self-destructive behaviours, will torture us forever — Eating us from the inside, leaving us hollow and empty and we can never escape from them.
Trauma will rip open our unconscious and expose it fully. In the aftermath, we ask questions. We use these questions to create reasons, which form new ideas, beliefs and perspectives which we take forward.
Once those beliefs are there, like we’ve spoken about, they are incredibly difficult to remove, especially if we do not recognise them.
Part 3 — Recognising our mind-body connection
You might think that you can exist above your emotions and it is true that you can close yourself off to these traumas and feelings. You can even choose to ignore them day-to-day, disconnecting from their pull and sway.
Emotions do come out and when they come out, it is a whole body experience…
I know that before when I was closed off to emotional experience, I would have moments when I would become completely paralysed. My whole body would go numb and I would completely tense up. I would retreat away from doing the thing I wanted and be unable to face the situation.
It happened giving public speeches, talking to people I loved… Anything high pressure or high emotion.
And sometimes at worst it would completely erupt.
This wasn’t going to get me anywhere, so I decided to not be that way any longer.
For a long time I thought I was above my emotions, but I was mistaken. It did come out, and at the worst possible moments. I understand it feels somewhat empowering to think you’re above your emotions, but in reality, it’s just a fear of the dark…
I learned by not recognising my emotional experience, I was actually preventing myself from getting to know who I was. From forming a relationship with my true self.
90% of our behaviours are unconscious — So it’s impossible to know yourself without forming a deep relationship with the darkness of your own mind.
After strength training for 13 years, what strength meant to me completely changed.
It now means confronting problems, communicating effectively and learning how to adapt… Not so I could get rich, be greedy or manipulate people — but so I would never leave someone else worse off, so I could live the richest life I could, so I would never have excuses to hold me back.
The first thing I knew I needed to let go of was this idea that I knew stuff.
I realised that what works, it just works and what we experience, is real.
It was my ego that stopped me from meditating because it was silly.
It was my ego that prevented me from feeling positive, being supportive and asking for happiness.
The big one, I thought that my everyday experience was ALL there was.
Because these are the things we are told.
The truth is if you believe you have unlimited potential and believe you have access to an infinitely higher level of happiness, simply waiting to be unlocked. Then there’s no end point, there’s only a journey, a journey that just keeps getting more enjoyable, more exciting and more fulfilling as time goes on.
There’s no reason to conceptualise these ideas as religious. It’s entirely possible we evolved the ability to hack our own psychology, DNA and experience. Maybe it’s just by chance… Or maybe science and spirituality are just two sides of the same coin?
What I do know is our brain isn’t confined to just our skull. It travels down our spine, to our heart and throughout our body via the nervous system.
I know that when I feel emotions, I feel them in my gut, in my chest and the whole way through my body.
I know that it’s our emotions that drive us to take action and no one has ever done something incredible off the back of logic or reason.
We’ve just discussed that emotions are unconscious, the same place our beliefs are held and it’s our beliefs that drive our behaviour. We also know we feel our emotions in our whole body.. And yet we continue to disregard the possibility they are somehow linked, simply because we cannot measure it yet?
Part 4 — Taking a pragmatic — not dogmatic approach
We know that losing weight, quitting drinking, getting healthier…
These are all great things to do.
So what keeps us stuck in these behaviours? What prevents us from overcoming the habits and addictions causing us harm?
“I can’t quit”
“All my friends drink, so I can’t stop”
“I couldn’t survive without pizza”
Outside your own experience, these excuses are obviously completely irrational. But within the frame of your own experience, these things are real, they are insidious, and they are forever.
They are above rational thought.
Mind over matter is true, but only true if we use our mind to cultivate valuable beliefs, and mental discipline to relentlessly reframe our experiences in a way that gets us the outcomes we want.
It’s a pragmatic — not dogmatic approach to living.
If we continue to take action — without acknowledging our unconscious, we’re doomed to continually repeat our mistakes forever. Because if you try to take actions against your innate behaviours you will eventually get tired and give up, because you will always fall back to your emotional behaviours.
So do we wait around for a traumatic experience to change us?
We need another way to open up, connect with and shape our unconscious mind. So that we can fully direct our life, control our behaviours and become the masters of our will.
In order to get results, we should first shape our psychology in a helpful way, so it drives us towards the things we want, instead of away from them.
Self destructive behaviours, as mentioned earlier, are born from fear. The deepest, oldest fear is our fear of the dark. Which is a metaphor for the unconscious mind or the unknown world. If we continue to be afraid of things we don’t know or understand, we will never have the mental frame to change, to be fulfilled or to have the richest experiences available to us.
“Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result”
A wellness engineer recognises the drivers of his behaviour and uses effective tools and methods to achieve the outcome he wants.
4 steps to overcome any obstacle and get results
- The first step is to acknowledge we are flawed, become fully open to change and courageously engage with our current beliefs. This way we can find the subversive beliefs holding us back from getting what we want and we can cast them away.
We must not hold any beliefs that do not align with our goals. Discipline must be used to keep our thoughts in a frame of love and connection.
2. The second step is to reconnect with our body, with stillness, focus or unity. It’s the process of collapsing our sense of self, duality, mind-body, and getting past our ego.
Our unconscious is emotional and our emotions are throughout our body. Through building a deep relationship with our body, we can release emotional blockages, live in the present and begin to fully understand our identity and purpose.
Connect with your unconscious through your body with meditation, exercise, breathing and cold therapy.
Once you’re reconnected, you’ll open up the door to your unconscious, you’ll begin to ask questions, over time you’ll learn exactly what your beliefs and values are and eventually you’ll be able to shape them.
3. The third step is to identify the behaviours you need to get the things you want.
What actions do I need to take to get there?
- Eat small meals
- Pitch to crowds,
- Exercise more
4. The fourth step is to cultivate incredibly strong beliefs around these behaviours, by reframing the meaning you assign to these behaviours and practicing the mental discipline to stay away from thoughts driven by fear & hate, keeping only thoughts from love & gratitude.
What are the ideal set of beliefs that will compel you to pursue the ends at all cost? → (Turning a want to into a have to)
- I am a great listener because I always learn something new from others.
- I love to ride my bike to work because I feel so great when I do.
- I always eat healthy and I only drink when it’s a very special occasion because I love feeling great everyday.
If you want to start a business, lose 20kg or get a promotion and you just can’t seem to take any action — it’s not because you’re lacking will power or your not good at it. You haven’t yet aligned your beliefs with your goals.
If you’re lucky enough to have been given the behaviours that lead you towards your goals, either by your parents, through school or sports then you are incredibly lucky.
If you’ve only been given the behaviours that lead you on a negative, destructive path then you have another opportunity. The opportunity to learn how to adapt.
The lucky boy may never need to learn how to adapt. But one day he’ll realise he can’t make himself happy with external things and he’ll either learn to adapt or he’ll be sad forever.
The unlucky boy, if he adapts, will be stronger and more resilient than anyone else. Which is a huge advantage.
A Wellness Engineer is self aware enough to know what he desires and adaptable enough to shift his mind set to achieve it. The engineer takes full responsibility for his life, because he knows he already has the tools and energy to achieve amazing things.
The engineer uses emotion, logic and questions at the right time in a targeted way to maximise his psychological ROI.
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