If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. - Wayne Dyer
Our minds are the most powerful tool that we can harness for all levels of success in life. Our thoughts shape who we are and who we will become, as well as influencing our physical well-being and our emotional state. The power of the mind is a tool we are still discovering and just beginning to unleash. The capability we each possess is far greater than most of us can even begin to imagine. This article explores some of the ways our minds impact our lives and how to transition our thought patterns to benefit us.
For years the placebo effect was considered a failure in medical studies. It is only now that the medical community is beginning to look at placebo drugs as a success and potential remedy. The placebo cure rate ranges from 15% to 72%. This is not a fluke occurrence nor is it insignificant in what it means for humanity. What happens with the placebo effect is that the brain anticipates an outcome. The mind then communicates to the body the anticipated outcome and prepares the body for healing. Through this process the body can even miraculously create natural chemical reactions. For example, when a placebo pill is given for depression and the body releases serotonin, curing depression without the need for drugs that may have harmful side effects.
The impact of thought is not limited to physical ailments. Placebo drugs and their impact on a person's health is much easier to gain hard data points on than studies on how our belief systems impact the outcomes in our personal and professional lives. A shift in your mindset can be profound for the outcomes you are wanting to gain in your personal and professional life. Your thoughts affect all aspects of your life, whether you are aware of them or not. Every experience begins with a thought. That thought, placed into action, creates a ripple effect that becomes magnified in your life. Have you ever had the experience of deciding to purchase a certain make of car and then all of a sudden that same car seems to be everywhere you look? When you start thinking and acting on what you want then your mind automatically shifts and pulls you in that direction.
Here is the catcher and where people have lessened the chances of a positive outcome, you have to actually believe the thought and action needs to be taken towards the desired goal for this to be effective. This is not a stagnant process. It can’t be a superficial thought or a thought that is not paired with effort. If you place a post-it on your wall saying “I am successful” without substance to back up that reminder it may not become actualized. Now if you write down how you have been successful in the past or at the end of everyday you take the action to write down your successes…then you have the proof to back up your statement.
The power of the mind applies to both positive and negative outcomes. If your mind believes you are chronically sick or lacking capability to accomplish a goal, you automatically start your day with that expectation. Whatever is your primary thought pattern you will subconsciously spotlight the reasons why this thought is true. What happens next is you create a feedback loop, reinforcing your primary thoughts because of where you are placing your attention. That is why the practice of rewiring your thinking is key to your success, happiness and health.
Your brain has developed habitual neural pathways associated with responses to situations. For example, if you have a time-sensitive task that needs completion, your immediate response might be to become stressed out. The stress response is a habit, formed by repeatedly feeling this way. We train ourselves to respond in the same fashion, regardless of whether or not the stress is warranted. The good news is that you have power and choice regarding how you respond to any given situation. The process of choosing starts when you become aware of how you are feeling. The next step is to examine the thought by asking yourself if it is relevant and what the worst case scenario might be. Then, if you feel that the thought is not warranted, you can reroute that feeling in order to create a new neural pathway. A redirected response to feeling stressed out might be, “The time constraint on this task is out of my hands and all I can do is my best. The worst case scenario will not destroy me or the business, and does not justify being stressed.”
Repetition is essential when creating new neural pathways. Your typical tendencies are engraved pathways in your brain, similar to a ski trail that has been used over and over. It is easy and natural to follow the established path. Going off the path is difficult, and in the beginning it is especially challenging to carve a new path. After you travel down a new route for some time, a new path begins to form. Eventually you can go down that new path with ease. That is exactly what happens in your brain when you practice a new thought pattern or behavior. New grooves are created and soon the formerly unfamiliar way of being becomes the norm.
Your mindset is one of the most influential forces moving you either away or towards achieving your goals and even improving your health. With this knowledge comes choice, and with choice comes effort. The effort is by far the most difficult at the beginning. It is okay to ask for support. In fact, asking for support is encouraged. This may mean asking a friend, colleague, mentor or family member to hold you accountable or to check in regularly. It also could take the shape of joining a group where everyone is working towards a similar outcome. Create a structure that works specifically for you and start harnessing the power of your mind.