This quote is one of my all time favorites. It’s both comforting and scary to know that my thoughts are constructing what I become. Comforting because I have a degree of control over my thoughts. Scary because I am ultimately responsible for my thoughts thus what I become.
I am both the engineer and the executive of my life.
According to Tony Robbins thinking is a process that he defines as asking yourself questions and then answering them. If you are questioning the above definition of thinking you are actually practicing it.
“Is that right? Is that actually how thinking works?” …see what I mean?
We have roughly 6000 thoughts per day so we practice this process a lot.
Your brain is constantly searching for ways to conserve effort and energy. It operates like a learning software or an algorithm. Algorithms are problem solving software with the purpose of automating solutions. Human algorithms use their powers and automation processes to create what we call habits.
“Habits are built to solve the repeated problems we face in life.”-James Clear (side quote)
The habit formulation process is governed by what I call Human Automation Intelligence or HAI. In partnership with your algorithm software HAI processes all of the repeated data you feed into your mind.
It analyzes and searches for repetitious patterns automating anything it deems important. Here in lies the challenge. Your HAI is largely amoral meaning it doesn’t care if it is building a constructive or destructive habit. It will automate a toxin just as easily as a tonic. Even though this is one of, if not the most, sophisticated systems on the planet it is still relatively dumb. How else do so many people develop the destructive habits of smoking, eating junk food, or over consuming alcohol to the detriments of their own health and survival?
Habits of thought fall prey to the same process. We do become what we think about all day long. The issue is we aren’t conscious of what we are thinking because it has been automated into our subconscious minds. By the time we are 35 years old roughly 95% of our thoughts, feelings, and actions occur at the level of our programming. Essentially we have turned our free will over to a program. The slave has literally become the master. You aren’t becoming what you think about you’re becoming what you thought about enough times until it became a habit.
So what does this leave us to do? How can we override the program?
I never claim to have the only right answer but one I found to be very effective in coaching people is questions.
Questions create a pattern interrupt to our thought processes because of something called instintive elaboration. Instinctive elaboration is a mental reflex that overrides or hacks our minds whenever a question is posed. For example, what color is your house? What’s the name of your best friend? What color are your shoes?
You answered each of those questions automatically didn’t you?
Instinctive elaboration breaks your thought patterns. As a coach I will often use this technique when I notice someone is caught up in an unproductive loop. One of my favorites “when was the last time you ate a cheeseburger.” The question interrupts their pattern and adds confusion. The confusion creates a gap of time for me to take them in a different direction while they ponder the question and why I asked it in the first place.
Rewiring your brain to think about what you need so you can become what you want takes effort. An amazing practice is designing questions you answer each and every day as a means of creating new patterns. Questions like…
What are the blessings in my life that make it really special?
Who is really important to me and why?
How can I make a difference in the life of one person today?
If I could only name one thing to be truly excited about what would it be?
What am I am I truly looking forward to?
See not only do these questions engage your mental reflex but they direct your focus. Focus equals feeling. Whatever you are feeling right now it is because of what you are focused on. Can I give you one more example? What does your left foot feel like? Is it cold or hot? Is it dry or damp? Is your shoe tight or loose? Are you one of those people who never cuts your toe nails so you can feel your talons pushing against your socks? I doubt you were feeling your left foot until I asked right? Focus equals feeling and what controls focus? Questions.
You do become what you think about all day long. It’s true. Today I trust I gave you one strategy to have some choice in your thinking. Design your questions and trust the process. Heed the words of two of my all time favorite people; Gary Keller & Jay Papasan for their best selling book the ONE Thing…
Life is a question and how we live it is our answer.
I trust that rings more true to you than ever…