• Melissa McGrath

Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Our emotions are the reactions to thoughts we give attention to. We decide what we will and won't give attention to, whether something is going to annoy us or not, whether we are capable of joy and happiness or not. And behaviours come about through these existing belief systems. Makes sense right? Our reality, life as we see it, is entirely up to us. Nobody else. The old adage of whether we see 'that glass as half full or as half empty' is enitrely up to us. So how have those thoughts we have and the beliefs we live with become embedded in the first place and how did the behaviours we now live by and act out take hold ......

According to cognitive neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about 5 percent of our cognitive activity. Yes, 5 %. So most of our decisions, actions, emotions, and behavior depends on the 95 percent of brain activity that, goes beyond that …. in our subconscious mind. From the way you might react differently to someone else in the same situation, what our political persuasions are, career aspirations, right through to health and fitness and the relationships we have been in: we rely on something that is called the adaptive unconscious, which is all the ways that our brain understands the world around us.

So how has our brain learnt to understand the world, or our interpretation of the world mores the point? Primarily through what we have experienced, learnt and witnessed during our childhood. In basic terms, that can either work for us or work against us in adulthood and throughout our lives. It is widely reported how crucial the first 7 years of our lives are, in terms of what we learn and what we are exposed to. However to a lessor but still important degree, are all of the years leading up to when we pack our bags and make our own way in the world. There are reasons why some of us would tell the cashier that they have given us $5 too much change whilst others might not, why some people end up in gaol from robbing a petrol station whilst for the majority such an action is incomprehensible etc. Why do some women put up with less than respectful treatment from men whilst others stay around even if a spouse / boyfriend is clearly a dickhead? Why do some 16 year olds never even think of exploring their full potential whilst others have everything mapped out for their path ahead? Almost any question you can ask in this regard can be linked back to the environment in which we grew up. Personalities we have been born with sure, but even the most innately optimistic personalities can be hindered by upbringing.

As some examples, if we grew up in a house with racist connotations, parents of whom put down other cultures (even if they knew nothing about them) we are going to be prone to doing that ourselves once leaving home. It is not a given, but the odds are stacked toward it. If we were raised in an atmosphere of negativity, family and relatives who were always complaining about something, never motivated to change their own lives and whinged about the Government as the reason for all their woes etc, we are very likely to grow up as individuals who are not go-getters ourselves. You get the picture – the examples are endless of course. It is worth taking a moment of thinking about your upbringing, the attitudes and the actions you witnessed during early childhood. Therein will lie much of who you are today. We can take many positives from our personal experiences and wonderful things that occurred as children, but it is productive to also recognise the negatives. It is the latter that contribute to problems later in life, but in recognising that is taking the first step to rectifying it.

The trouble is, our conscious day to day mind doesn’t recognise unfamiliarity. So it resists change. That is, attitudes and beliefs that are not our ‘norm’. Even if new more productive thoughts and behaviours might serve us better, we tend to stick to existing beliefs because we draw upon them without thought. Indeed our conscious, day to day mind, does not accept change to the degree of generally dismissing it. And I know I am writing now as though our mind and our thoughts are a third party, but that is because in a way this is how we should see particularly our subconscious mind. For our subconscious mind will do everything to revert to existing beliefs and what has been learnt and repeated.

So unless you change this power source – your subconscious mind where all your learnt behaviour is stored – the outward you cannot change. The day to day mind you operate with cannot change. Well not long term anyway. And herein lies the frustration. Most of us for example, are aware of losing weight only to gain it again a year later. Or decide to cut down on spending, or over-drinking etc for it to only last 3 months, or don't attempt to go for a job we might love because we don't think we are up to it. This is because we have not changed the reasons behind the behaviours we wish to change. And our subconscious mind is resistant to change. We cannot will it to be, or have ½ dozen counselling sessions and think we can undo damages or beliefs that stem from our environment when we were 6. That is not to belittle any success people have had with traditional counselling of course. From my own personal experience in past years and through information from others, my firm belief is that significant change can be difficult to achieve through chatting face to face, wide awake and at our conscious level of thought. Needless to say I am coming from the perspective of a Clinical Hypnotherapist and so my views have bias. But it is fact that our thoughts and actions come about through what is stored in our subconscious minds, not the alert, right now state of being that we operate from as we go about our day to day. That state merely draws upon the former as it needs. Draws upon the ingrained patterns, beliefs stored away.

Unfortunately however, our subconscious mind doesn’t recognise our desire to change without resistance. It generally dismisses it in fact / anything it is not used to doing. It is only when we look deeply in to why we do what we do, what has formed our beliefs, that we can begin to change them. Those things that would benefit from change and in turn make are lives more fulfilling.

To eliminate debilitating beliefs and learnt behaviours, we need to make those changes at a subconscious level if it is to be long term. Changes within the machinery that has us do what we do. What you are then doing in effect, is creating a new reality for yourself, once you reconfigure existing beliefs that do not serve you well. Because our long held thoughts are the basis by which we operate in all parts of our lives, we innately turn away from what is not familiar practice. It makes sense to stay with what we know. Now this is fine if what we know is healthy. When it isn’t is when those long held practices or thoughts serve only to bring problems to our lives. Or to hold us back from living a truly joyful existence.

There are many examples we can each draw upon, in order to unravel the concept of linking childhood to the present. You are able to do it at any time by just taking 5 minutes to think back. Just take a few topics that you could use to realise how your views now, have been shaped by your earlier learnings. Think about work ethic; or how you view unemployed people; how you view criminals; family relationships and what they mean; what happiness means; what makes you angry. Maybe gauge how much you have evolved over the years through self-enlightenment, experiences and meeting other people in order to change what you once thought as true? Or do a lot of your beliefs and your actions still stem from your childhood and the role models in your life back then? Possibly you even married someone who was similar to those around you during your upbringing and so you have continued not to question particular behaviours or beliefs?

I have a friend who was brought up with an overly strong work ethic in her family. That is a positive right? Well it is sure, if there is balance i.e a balance of pursuing a future, mixed with having regular fun along the way (in a nutshell). However I have seen the negative ways in which this has impacted on her, as this balance was not taught. What if your pursuit of owning a home, having ample money in the bank, and gaining the majority of your self-esteem from how many hours a week you work, is what you were taught? What if occasionally indulging in purchasing something expensive, or taking a 3 week holiday, or dropping back to 25 hours per week work was considered lazy or irresponsible in your childhood home? Does it not make sense that as a 40 year old that if you were to indulge in any of this, that instead of enjoying the treat, you instead only feel guilt. We have all known people who have no reason to any longer work full-time and are in jobs that they don’t even like too much, but still persevere. What is stopping them from dropping back a day and taking up a hobby, going to the hairdresser, getting a massage, reading a book etc. What they learnt and witnessed before they were even 10 years old that’s what! And certainly you can take all of this and put in the context of the reverse – if a very unmotivated household was your experience.

Such examples of course are not devastating. Just like the parent that associated food with love was doing that out of good intentions, but later caused you an unhealthy association with food in order to feel comforted and rewarded. Not all childhood experiences had bad intent by parents, but the the point is that outcomes can be negative. Some clients I have seen have been impacted much more significantly due to events of their past. Those who grew up in households whereby one parent was abusive toward the other or where parents put down the children instead of building them up, or nobody ever placed great importance on education, having a career or pursuing dreams, or nobody did anything when they were being abused by a relative, or drinking until you are drunk was the norm…… you get the idea. We could fill a page. The results or the on-going coping mechanisms of such issues as these often go on to include drug taking, over-eating, alcoholism, being drawn to relationships that are unhealthy, and a lack of belief and optimism that we can achieve real happiness in our lives.

So it is important to have an awareness of why people around us might act they way they do at times. But just as or more importantly, to give ourselves a break when we feel anxiety about our own behaviours or inadequacies. When we have an understanding of that, only then change can commence.

Many techniques can be used in order to ‘re-program’ learnt behaviour and existing entrenched beliefs. These techniques change considerably depending upon whether you wish to address a habit you want to rid yourself of, whether it is to get to the bottom of anxieties or depression, or to move forward after a prior traumatic event. There is no standard practice or program or script that should be utilised for everybody. What is consistent in hypnotherapy is ridding yourself of limiting beliefs, putting trauma into a context that is manageable, and replacing long held unwanted behaviours with more productive and healthy ones. Accessing your powerful subconscious mind, and having you take control over what it dictates, instead of the other way around. The proof is in the pudding in that almost all Hypnotherapists went into the profession after having life changing experiences through this form of natural therapy themselves. Put it this way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. However, if going down this path is not for you, hopefully you at least you have some food for thought in terms of why you do some of the things you do or have some of the views or habits that you have. And you just might be a little kinder to yourself, with understanding how your behaviours have come about 😊. Importantly, you are not stuck with current issues that prevent you living your most rewarding life. And we all deserve to be living that.

#movingforward #positivechange #anxiety #addictions #depression #happiness

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