Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything You Want by Paul McKenna PH.D. (2016)
DEVELOPING THE CONFIDENCE HABIT
Your Amazing Mind
Your mind is like a computer—it has its own software that helps you to organize your thinking and behavior. If you have a behavior you want to change, it’s just a matter of conditioning or programming. Having worked with all sorts of people with different problems over many years, I have learned that almost all problems stem from the same cause: negative programs running in the unconscious mind.
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
But the mind is neither positive nor negative in nature. When you think about all the amazing inventions, music, movies, poetry, architecture, and scientific achievements throughout history, all of them came from the human mind. In fact, if you look around you right now, most of what you see first began as an idea in one person’s mind.
Scientists often talk about how complex the human brain is, with its billions of interconnecting neurons. However, after many years of research we now understand that the mind operates on a few, very simple principles. In fact, it’s really quite mechanical.
Your Conscious Mind
There are only two primary ways we make sense of the world—consciously and unconsciously. Throughout this book, I will be referring to these as your conscious and unconscious mind.
Your conscious mind is the mind you actively and deliberately think with all day long. You probably experience it as a fairly continual internal voice you think of as “me.”
But while the conscious mind certainly has its uses, it is extremely limited in what it can accomplish on its own. Studies have shown that it can only hold a handful of ideas at any one time. That’s why the majority of your life is run automatically by your other mind.
Your Unconscious Mind
The unconscious mind is your larger mind. It can process millions of messages of sensory information every single second, and contains all of your wisdom, memories, and intelligence. It is the source of your creativity, and perhaps most importantly for our purposes here, it stores and runs all the “programs” of automatic behavior you use to live your life.
The unconscious mind is like having an “autopilot” function in the brain: it allows us to do multiple things simultaneously without having to concentrate on all of them at once. For example, when you were a child you had to concentrate consciously in order to learn to tie your shoelaces properly, using your conscious mind. But once you mastered the program, your unconscious mind can direct your hands without your having to focus on the process consciously.
These programs (“habits”) are useful because they free our conscious minds up to think about other things. Learning to drive a car involves learning lots of little habits, indicating, accelerating, breaking, turning, etc., that become habitual so that now you can just get in the car and decide where you want to go.
But as we shall see, sometimes we need to change, override, upgrade, or even completely discard our old, outdated programs.
So many of our habits are simply things we picked up by accident and never got rid of. They may not even have been helpful to us at the time. For example, many of us were told as children that we were not good enough, at least in certain areas of our lives. As adults, we still allow that old program to run our behavior, spending inordinate amounts of time worrying that we are not good enough and criticizing ourselves for not performing as well as we should have done.
The good news is, all that is about to change!
The Awesome Force of Habit
The wonderful thing about our unconscious habits is that they allow us to carry out tasks and make new choices without having to use deliberate attention. In theory, we could spend most of our waking hours consciously considering all of the different alternatives available to us every single day—but we wouldn’t have any time left to actually do anything about whatever it was we finally chose. In order not to waste our days considering and reconsidering those millions of attitudinal and behavioral possibilities, we’ve developed the capacity to make “automatic” choices instead.
“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.”
For example, when we get up in the morning, we don’t spend 20 minutes running through the options for breakfast. On ordinary days we just have the same thing we normally have. We usually take the same route to work, read the same newspaper, and listen to the same radio station. We cook and eat and tie our shoelaces and comb our hair in pretty much the same way, day after day after day.
We do a thousand and one daily tasks without having to think about them, simply by using the “habit force” of our unconscious mind. In this way, our largely unconscious mental programs keep our lives running smoothly.
The basic mechanism of these habits is association. Our unconscious mind remembers every time two things happen simultaneously or in close proximity to one another. After this pattern repeats itself a few times or in an emotionally significant way, the one thing gets associated to the other. So in the morning the alarm rings and we “just know” to get up and go to the bathroom. We go into the kitchen and “just know” to switch on the kettle. Soon, we make bigger habits out of lots of little ones all joined together.
The brain is a mass of neural pathways and every action we take creates new connections. Each time we repeat an action, that specific neural pathway is strengthened, just like a muscle that becomes bigger the more it is used. This is how a new habit is formed.
The best way to accelerate the rate at which we program a new behavior into our unconscious mind is through the imagination. The hypnotic trance contained in this book will help you to rehearse success over and over again in your mind, just as athletes visualize winning again and again in order to guarantee success.
While you become absorbed into a natural state of relaxation, I will program the computer—your unconscious mind—to help you become instantly, habitually, and naturally confident. The really important thing is to listen to the hypnotic trance over and over again, every single day. As you practice thinking of yourself as naturally confident, you are sending signals to your unconscious mind to behave as a more naturally confident person.
And the programming has already begun …