Posted in Self Esteem, Setting Goals

How to “Hack” Your Own Brain

Much like a computer responds to commands, your brain can be programmed to accept any changes you might want to make in your life. However, many of your current behaviors stem from unconstructive programming you received as a child that may stand in the way of change.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, in his book Psycho-Cybernetics, published in 1960, says, “Beliefs about ourselves have unconsciously been formed from our past experiences … especially in early childhood.” So keep in mind, when you want to change a particular habit or belief, that the unwanted behavior was built on patterns developed over time.

In this classic book, Dr. Maltz introduced the idea of a mind-body connection and that positive outcomes are achieved through changing our attitudes. Here are some simple steps that can help you overcome self-sabotaging tendencies, much like installing new software into the computer of your mind.

Identify the issue. Write down everything you know about the habit, such as when it started and why. Be as detailed and truthful as possible because it’s hard to change what you don’t acknowledge. And list all the reasons you want to change. According to Dr. Maltz, “Change the self-image and you change the personality.”

Set realistic goals. If you want to lose weight, for instance, simply saying, “I want to lose a few pounds” is not enough to bring about lasting change. However, if you state “I will lose 10 pounds before my birthday” then your mind has a distinct path to follow. And make sure your goal is both realistic and attainable so that you set yourself up for success.

Use “creative visualization.” Using your imagination to picture how you want to behave gives you a huge edge in overcoming unwanted habits, because the subconscious mind sees in images. For example, as you recall what you had for breakfast, do you picture the words “I ate scrambled eggs” or do you see scrambled eggs on a plate? So “see” yourself as having accomplished your goal.

Act “as if” you have achieved your goal. Imagining you have already accomplished your goal goes a long way toward actually achieving it. For instance, someone 10 pounds lighter may exercise more or be more confident, so if you already act as if you weigh less, you will automatically start moving more and feeling better about yourself.

Use positive affirmations. Power words or phrases spoken as if you mean it keep you motivated and help you turn negative programming into positive change. And the great news is: according to many experts, including Maltz, it usually takes only 21 days to effect change in our self-concept. So you are just three weeks away from achieving your goal from the day you start!

Reward yourself. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for every positive step you make towards your new goal. It’s important to reward yourself with something that will make you feel good about yourself and to “imprint” your newly forming positive habit.

According to Maltz, the brain itself is simply a “goal-striving mechanism” that operates very much like a computer. Your mind is the software that makes you uniquely you. Following the steps offered above is a means of “hacking” your brain, changing the programming and creating the life of your dreams.