Psychologists say … when we try to consciously remove a negative mental image or habit – it actually reinforces it.
That’s because if you give yourself a command such as ‘Don’t think about donuts’; there’s actually a part of the brain that is trying to obey by constantly scanning… (“Are you thinking about donuts now?…How about now?), which of course results in us constantly thinking about donuts.
But if you create a positive image of what you want to go toward, that’s what the brain begins scanning for instead.
Finding a positive motivation also engages your ‘emotional brain’ (see note below) to kick in and work for the change, not against it.
Remember the emotional brain always goes towards pleasure. So the more emotionally pleasurable your positive motivation is…the more it will help you achieve your goal.
And make sure it’s your motivation, not your mother-in-laws, your friend’s or your spouse’s. Don’t move forward until you’ve got a why that matters to you. Why do you want this new change? Why is it so important to make the change?
A strongly emotional ‘why’ makes meaning out of the drudgery you may have to go through, and gives you a reason to persist.
Note: According to neurologist, Paul MacLean, there are ‘three’ brains inside our head – the ‘instinctive’ which is in charge of body functions; i.e. breathing, heartbeat, etc.; the ‘emotional’ which is concerned with feelings; pleasure, pain, safety, danger; and the ‘thinking’ brain – the part capable of reasoning.
The ‘thinking’ brain is where we decide we want to do something different; but depending on what it is, how it’s presented, and what we’ve done in the past, our emotional brain may not cooperate. It’s concerned with pleasure and safety – that’s why we ‘sabotage’ ourselves – our emotional brain overrides what our thinking brain has decided in favor of immediate pleasure or perceived safety.
So, if you are serious about succeeding with your resolution, this information is crucial. You’ve got to get your emotions on your side. We change, not because it makes sense from the perspective of our thoughts (I should go to the gym), but by engaging our feelings (it’s going to feel fabulous to be thinner). If the change seems like its too scary, too hard, or no fun, your emotional brain is going to work against it.
Cool information from the book, This Year I Will…: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan.
The cool name of the blog post… was my idea. 🙂