as Published in Conway Daily Sun
When we imagine an amazing dinner, a walk on the beach, a new romance, or just getting home to relax, the images in our mind are very real to our brain and our body. These images can change our heart rate, our breathing, our stress levels... the brain does not know the difference between real and imagined. If you close your eyes and imagine you are on a giant rollercoaster… slowly, slowly, rolling up toward the sky… looking almost straight up… you feel yourself leveling off at the top…the track disappears in front of you… your stomach senses the impending drop… you feel that? Even as you sit safely on the ground, reading this article, you can create a physical reaction in your body. Your brain sends the same signals raising your blood pressure and stress levels, and releasing cortisol and adrenalin as if the event were real. If you have ever blushed when embarrassed, or if your stomach churns when you speak in public, you are already a believer in the mind-body connection. It is so easy to demonstrate how our brain affects our body whether the event in our brain is real or imagined. Somehow, when it is suggested that our brain has a role in disease, illness and physical pain, we tend to prefer a reliance on western medicine, pharmaceuticals and hard science. As science advances to explain phenomena that only a few years ago were considered too hokey for mainstream consideration, it begs bigger questions.
If the brain has such influence over the physical body, imagine the influence it has over our emotions, fears, hopes, inhibitions and even our most strongly held beliefs. Humans are born with only two natural fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Everything else is a learned fear, based on some experience or outside influence. The things we hold most dear in our belief system are all made up and placed into our minds by our parents, teachers, preachers, TVs and experiences. Imagine if just some of the things you were convinced to believe were false. What if you could earn a living doing what you love? What if you could find the perfect mate? What if being fat (or skinny/short/bald/poor/stupid) was not in your genes? What if you were smart enough to pursue what you want? What if guilt did not exist? What if money was not the root of all evil? What if you were pretty enough? What if you were strong enough? What if the neighbors’ opinions did not matter? What if thinking of yourself was not selfish? What if worrying and was unnecessary? What if suffering was optional? What if you were not subject to harsh judgment for every mistake you make? Would you be willing to consider just the possibility of some of your beliefs being untrue?
This concept affects everything we do at home and at work. If we believe we are always subject to harsh judgment for mistakes, are we less likely to take risks at work or in business? Does being successful at work require taking some measured risk? For many people, just speaking an opinion or idea out loud, even when solicited by the boss, is too intimidating due to the fear of being judged stupid, naïve or unqualified in some way. It is easier to stay quiet than take the risk. A low-trust environment may have influenced this, or more likely, it is the perception of fear based on our imagination. Somewhere in our childhood, we made a decision about how the world works. We all have vivid memories of mini-traumas; maybe it was that time in the third grade when you raised your hand, made a silly comment and everyone laughed at you. Maybe your parents sarcastically said you would never be a brain surgeon. Whatever it was, maybe it is time to reconsider your beliefs. After all, a belief is just at thought that we keep on thinking. Once we think something, we start to find and store evidence to prove our thoughts correct. Then we keep thinking it and it becomes a belief.
When I work with private clients, they have amassed evidence to prove their beliefs. In a typical session we identify the original thought that started the belief and uncover a mountain of evidence that would prove alternative beliefs. Armed with new evidence to consider, it is then possible to make new choices about how their world works for them.
Having witnessed this transformation too many times to count, I know we can choose a new truth. We can show up at work ready to serve and prosper, while helping others prosper. We can come home every day, fulfilled and eager to enjoy our loved ones. We have the power to use our brains to alter our physical state in an instant, which means we have the power to use our brains to create whatever experience we want in our lives. Sure, it takes a little training and sometimes a lot of clearing of old ways, but consider the payoff. What if dreams really do come true? What if anything really is possible?