In a previous post I talked about personal development junkies and how people get hooked on looking for the next silver bullet that is going to be the sure-fire route to their success. They’re on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows as they become serial consumers of self-help and personal development products that fail to deliver the successful outcome they are searching for. The story is the same regardless of the area of life they want to improve – career, business, relationships, money, health etc.
Not only do these products (seminars, books, courses, coaching) fail to deliver the desired results, but they actually set us up to fail even more!
Why? Because they are motivational not transformational.
Let me explain.
Our present circumstances are the product of our subconscious belief system.
(Note: Here the terms subconscious and unconscious are interchangeable. Personally I prefer the term subconscious from the Latin word ‘sub’ meaning beneath. Like an iceberg, the subconscious is below the surface and represents 90% of our mind power – far more than the conscious mind which is like the tip of the iceberg.)
Our Subconscious Programming
From the day you were born you have been programmed in a way that completely strips your power away. Most people are brought up using negative reinforcement – in other words you are punished if you do something wrong – rather than positive reinforcement which praises you when you do well. Even if your parents approached your upbringing in a positive way, the school system operates to create subservience, conformity and obedience.
We build our self-image based on our experience. So, if we repeatedly hear bad boy/girl, stupid boy/girl, you’ll never (fill in the gaps), you’re not good enough to (fill in the gaps again) and more negative remarks, we start to believe what we hear as the truth. So our subconscious mind is programmed with negative self-beliefs and we develop low self-esteem and self-doubt and create exactly what we believe in – our own mediocrity.
Our upbringing and the school system label us as smart or stupid. Is it any wonder that the most successful people didn’t finish school but left the school system as soon as they could?
So, if our present circumstances are the product of our subconscious belief system, it follows that to change our circumstances we have to change our subconscious beliefs. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
The Conscious/Subconscious Mind
Here is a diagram showing the different functions of the conscious and subconscious (or unconscious ) mind. The conscious mind is where we do our planning, make decisions, and where our will power lives. Now look at what the unconscious mind controls – habits & patterns, long-term memory, emotions, creativity and our protective mechanism. Our conscious thoughts bubble up from our unconscious mind, the product of our long-term memory, our established habits and patterns and our self-protection. That is why our head fills with negative thoughts when we try to step outside our comfort zone – ‘danger, that’s hard, I can’t do that, I’m not good enough’.
The problem with motivation is that it only works on stimulating the conscious mind. You go to a motivational event, you get fired up to set goals, take action, be like the motivational speaker. What you also hear is the message that not setting goals and taking action is being a loser. At the time, you are determined you’re going to do everything the motivational guru tells you. Then you get back home, and within no time you’ve slipped back into the normal routine because your subconscious still believes you’re not good enough, its too hard, they can do it but you can’t. Plus, the old patterns of behavior are firmly established while the new intentions have got little more than a toe-hold and it takes a lot of conscious will-power to replace the old habits, which most people don’t have. The trouble is that you’ve now labeled yourself as a loser and reaffirmed your negative self-belief because that’s what the guru labelled the people who don’t follow through, take action and achieve success!
It works like a shot of illegal stimulants – you get a temporary high and then the crash takes you lower than when you started.
Now don’t get me wrong, we all need motivation to get us moving towards our goals. But, think about how you would describe yourself in your resume if you were applying for a job. You would describe yourself as self-motivated, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t say I need daily doses of motivation from someone else. That would immediately move you to the bottom of the pile!
So, to change our circumstances we need to change our subconscious belief system. How do we do that?
First of all we have to identify our beliefs, and then we need to ‘transform’ them from negative beliefs into positive beliefs so we become truly self-motivated and capable of taking empowered action.
I’ll be telling you how we do that with The Success Equation™ in Part 2.