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Your Words Matter, Especially When Talking To Yourself

Hello, I am Coach Tony… Welcome to Operation Melt!

My name is Coach Tony, and I am a coach, author and project manager on a mission. I am working to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

I almost allowed one of my biggest life goals to die without ever being attempted for forty years. My goal almost died, not of failure but of loneliness. But, I took a risk and leveraged a simple, logical process that helped me wildly exceed my goal. 

I transformed my life, and you can do the same with the help of Operation Melt. 

Operation Melt provides engaging, practical content and hands-on coaching to inspire, motivate and equip project managers and other left-brained high-achievers to pursue and accomplish their biggest goals. 

Got Goals?

Do you have dreams that you are trying to make come true? Do you have a goal that you are trying to crush? Success doesn’t happen by chance.  Success is a series of choices that can make you unstoppable. Goal Success by Choice helps you make these choices to move you closer to your goals.

This blog is my gift to you. I hope that it helps you choose to be successful and bring your goal to life. Are you ready to help build a world where no goal dies of loneliness?

Amuse Bouche

Before we get to today’s post, I offer you this light “amuse-bouche” to entertain your mind before we get down to business. Like any other amuse-bouche, you may hate my “dad joke,” but it is worth every penny that you paid for it, right?

What’s green, fuzzy, has four legs and will kill you if it falls out of a tree? A pool table.

Your Words Matter, Especially When Talking To Yourself

Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.

Pearl Strachan Hurd

Full disclosure: I have addressed this topic before. However, as I continue to speak with, coach, or simply observe people, I continue to be reminded of its importance. So, I want to revisit it this week.

I will even give you a bullet-point summary of what I am going to say before I say it:

  • Your words matter. 
  • Your brain listens to the things you say about yourself out loud or even just in your brain.
  • Your brain believes what you say and interprets it as a command. Kind of like your very own Hey Siri or Alexa.
  • So, stop being such a jerk to yourself!

Always Listening

I interact with many people daily in my day job, through Operation Melt and in my personal life. Something I like to do during these interactions is to listen to the language that people use to describe themselves. Beware, I am always listening!

Sometimes, the things I hear people say about themselves are pretty shocking. Here are some examples of a few things that piqued my interest when I heard them.

  • I am such an idiot!
  • I’m old, tired and grumpy. (In response to “how are you today?”)
  • I’m not a leader, or I’m not a good leader.
  • I could never write a book. 
  • I’m such a control freak.
  • I’m a total mess, or my life is a total mess.
  • I’m old and fat.

The list of self-undermining statements I hear people say could continue for many pages. They make me cringe every time. But I am just as guilty of using these statements as a form of self-deprecating humor. Plus, these are just the things that people have said out loud. I can’t imagine the internal self-talk that accompanies them.

Guess what? I am not alone in listening to these statements.

Your brain is always listening to what you are saying too. Not only is your brain listening to you, but it also believes what you are saying. That thing you said in passing, maybe as a joke, wasn’t perceived that way by your brain.

Your brain interprets these self-undermining statements as commands.

Programming Your Brain

Each of us has a small yet powerful part of our brains called the Reticular Activating System (or RAS). The RAS receives input from all of our senses and filters what gets distributed to other areas of our brain. The RAS often gets referred to as the bouncer in the nightclub that is our brain. It decides which pieces of information are allowed into our conscious brain.

Consider how much information your brain is bombarded with every second. Every sight, every sound, every smell, the sheer volume of data is astronomical. But, many neuroscientists agree that your conscious brain can only process around one hundred pieces of data per second. The role of the RAS is to quickly sort through the incoming data to determine what gets processed consciously versus what remains in your unconscious mind. It all goes somewhere.

The RAS is an essential tool for goal-setting, motivation and, ultimately, your happiness. The RAS is very goal-oriented and will do what you tell it to do. You can change the programming of your RAS simply by telling it what to focus on.

A simple example of how you can program your brain using your RAS is when you consider purchasing a car. If you are thinking of buying a specific car, say a Honda Accord, you have told your RAS that a Honda Accord is something interesting to you. This means your RAS will now prioritize this piece of information and allow it into your conscious brain. Next thing you know, you are seeing Honda Accords everywhere you look.

What Are You Telling Your Brain?

The car example is a pretty simplistic example of how you can program your brain by telling it what to prioritize, but this is a powerful tool. A significant portion of life coaching is focused on helping clients learn to harness their brains’ power and refocus their thinking.

By learning to focus your brain, your life can become instantly happier. You can also improve the probability of success with your goals.

When you have a goal, you can harness the power of your RAS. If you tell your RAS to focus on a specific goal or ask it a question, it will continue to process these things in the background, without you even knowing it, until the goal is achieved. 

In a personal example, I did this (without knowing it at the time) when I told my brain that I would lose over one hundred pounds in under a year. My brain learned this was important to me and remained focused on it around the clock.

Unfortunately, your RAS doesn’t distinguish between positive commands and negative commands. If you tell your RAS something like “I hate Mondays,” it will interpret that as a command and start processing it. Your RAS will allow every piece of data into your brain to reinforce that you hate Mondays. It essentially becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Uh oh! We may have a problem here, huh?

When you make the self-undermining statements above, they aren’t just throwaway comments and self-deprecating jokes. They are commands for your brain. When you tell your brain, “I’m such an idiot,” your brain will look for every possible piece of data to reinforce this and turn it into a deeply-held belief.

Suddenly, your brain has taken a joke and turned it into a reality. But the original statement wasn’t the truth. So, now your brain believes a lie.

Reprogramming Your Brain

With a little work, you can purge these lies and refocus your brain on more positive beliefs. This is a two-step process:

  1. Telling your brain what to focus on starting now 
  2. Undoing the prior damage and silencing the lies

Let’s start by telling your brain what to focus on now. What do you want your RAS to focus on? Do you have a goal? Not a hundred goals, but one that you want to be your focus right now?

Remember: if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

If you haven’t created your goal yet, this is the right time to do it. Once you do, this will keep your RAS busy and focused on the positive result you want to achieve. 

Download my free Goal Success Quick Start Guide and use my ABCD goal-setting technique to help you craft your SMART goals.

Pro tip: a SMART goal is the type of thing that makes your RAS salivate. It knows what to do with that and focuses on it around the clock. Similarly, your vision gives the RAS a picture of what future you are trying to build, and it won’t rest until that is reality.

Ok, got your goals now? Are they written down? Good!

Place these goals around your house, car, office, or any other place where they will be visible. The more you see and read them, the more your RAS will know that they are priorities for you and stay focused.

Next, it is time to clean up the lies you have encoded into your brain.

Silencing the Lies

What are the self-undermining statements that you say about yourself? What is your inner critic telling you every day? You probably don’t know off the top of your head because they are being processed on autopilot now.

It’s time to start paying attention to your words to catch these. Ask yourself, “what negative statements do I regularly make about myself?” If you ask it out loud, even better. By asking this question, you will make it important to your brain to listen for when your inner critic starts talking. This lets you turn your RAS against itself to find these statements and identify that inner critic that keeps lying to you.

The types of self-defeating statements you are looking for usually start with the following words:

  • I am…
  • I’m just…
  • I’ll never…
  • I can’t…
  • I’m not…

Listen for these statements and make a note of them so we can silence these lies in your brain.

Once you have your list of statements, or even just a few to start with, it is time to use the Silencing the Lies exercise. This simple, 7-day exercise will help you turn your inner critic’s lies into powerful, motivating affirmations. It does this by helping you find and remain focused on the real truths about yourself instead of the lies. 

Download the Silencing the Lies exercise template in the resources section to get started rewriting your inner limiting beliefs.

Repeat this exercise whenever you feel negativity and self-criticism creeping into your brain. Remember, that negative voice isn’t you, and you have the power to silence it!

You may note an extra benefit of training your brain to focus on the truths the next time you make a self-undermining statement. Your brain now knows the truth and will say (to borrow from The Simpsons), “why must you turn our brain into a den of lies?!” This means these statements will stop losing their power!

Don’t forget, I’m always listening, and so is your brain!

So What?

Your brain is a powerful tool that you can use to achieve your dreams. But be warned, your brain is always listening to what you are saying about yourself. And your brain believes you! One wrong move and you risk turning this powerful tool against you and undermining your happiness. Be careful what you say about yourself to be sure your brain is focused on what is really important to you. When your brain starts believing the lies that your inner critic told it, you have the power to silence those lies with one powerful exercise.

Need some help from somebody who asked his RAS, “how can I help people achieve their goals and build a world where goals don’t die of loneliness?” I’m your guy! Click Here to learn more about my Operation Melt coaching services.

Before you go… please consider purchasing one of my books to help you achieve your goals.

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Published inGoal Success by Choice