HJ: Until we understand the mind, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to master it. This may seem to be an overwhelming thought to some who feel that the mind is infinitely complex, and indeed it is complex, but there are some fundamental rules that govern how it functions and hold the keys to understanding and working with it successfully. Furthermore, these rules or laws, if you will, are not complex in and of themselves. They offer a rich framework for understanding why the mind works as it does and ultimately why you think the way you do. By knowing how the mind works, you can begin to use the laws to transform and reshape your consciousness, beliefs and thoughts in whatever direction you desire. These 8 laws are outlined and explained below and offer anyone interested the keys to truly knowing themselves at a much deeper level. They are the jumping off point for exploration of the psyche and discovering those areas of the self which are in greatest need of healing and adjustment. Mastering your mind is not only possible, but accessible.
Rules of the Mind
Rule I – What is Imagined or Expected Tends to be Realized
Dr. Maxwell Maltz, in his popular book “Psycho-Cybernetics,” describes the subconscious mind as a “goal-striving mechanism.” This term means that when the mind perceives a goal it automatically works to achieve that goal.
The individual, who strongly believes in success, subconsciously strives to bring about favorable circumstances leading to success. When advantageous conditions arise, he is able to recognize the opportunity and take the steps necessary to complete his success plan. We all know people who seem to have a “magic touch.” Life seems to shower them with blessings for no apparent reason and we call them “lucky.” What appears to be luck is actually nothing more than POSITIVE MENTAL EXPECTANCY — a strong belief and mental image of success.
On the other hand, the person who conceives himself to be a “failure type” will find some way to fail, in spite of all good intentions. The student who believes he is poor in arithmetic must make poor grades in that subject to justify his own convictions. His original negative belief is reaffirmed by his poor grades and a vicious cycle is set in motion.
Expect good things to happen and good things will occur. Vividly imagine yourself successful and you will achieve success.
Rule II – Every Thought or Idea Produces a Physical Response
An abundance of experimental data on thought processes has revealed that thinking is always accomplished by some physical response. Many scientists believe that muscular movements are an integral part of the thought process. For example, whenever we think of a word, our vocal muscles react and become part of the thought. To convince yourself of this phenomenon, try the following exercise: Holding your mouth wide open, try to think the word “bubble.” Upon first trying this you may find it very difficult to think the word, or the thought may at first seem slurred, as though you were attempting to pronounce the word aloud with your mouth held open.
Thoughts and ideas with strong emotional content produce physical responses in the body characteristic of the emotion. Anger and fear thoughts stimulate the adrenal glands that in turn affect the activity of most body functions. Recent studies have shown that the body’s natural resistance to disease can even be affected by one’s thoughts and emotions.
In order to adapt successfully to the stresses of life and eliminate or change chronic negative physical reactions, we must first learn to change our THINKING HABITS. We must learn to accept situations positively. We must learn to change fixed negative ideas into strong positive attitudes. This can be done with autosuggestion and self-hypnosis.
Rule III – Law of Reversed Effect
This law was first formulated around the turn of the century. Emile Coue, the father of autosuggestion referred to it as the “Law of Reversed Effort.” Coue stated, “Whenever there is a conflict between the will (conscious effort) and the imagination (mental imagery), not only do we not do that which we wish, but we do the exact opposite.” When one thinks that he would like to do something but feels he cannot, then the more he tries the more difficult it becomes.
A common example of this rule is seen in people troubled with insomnia. They go to bed with the thought, “I suppose I’ll not be able to sleep.” Then they try and the harder they try the more wide-awake they become. Sometime later, thoroughly fatigued, they stop trying; begin to think of something else and drop off to sleep within a few minutes.
A second example of the Law of Reversed Effect is the forgetting of a name. The more you consciously try to remember the forgotten name the more impossible it becomes. Later, when you have stopped trying and are thinking of something else, the name easily comes to mind. The attitude reflected in the Law of Reversed Effect is: I want very much to do it, but I know that I cannot. What is expected then tends to be realized (Rule I) and you obtain the opposite of that which you seek.
Rule IV – New Habit Patterns can be Formed with Visualized Images
When you look at an object, light reflected from the object enters your eyes causing an electrochemical change to occur. This changes produces nerve impulses that are transmitted to the visual center of your brain where they are interpreted as visual images. It is these mental images in the brain that you react to and not the actual object itself. For this reason, visualizing some object or action in your imagination can have the same affect as the real event.
Realizing that our nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and one that is vividly imagined opens a new door to self-improvement. It offers the opportunity to practice, without effort, new skills, traits and attitudes until new habit patterns are formed. Habit patterns can be modified and even reversed simply by practicing or “acting out” the new response or behavior in your imagination. However, this rule can work for or against you. An imagination preoccupied with negative images will only serve to hinder your improvement.
Successful living starts with a picture held in your imagination — a picture of what you want to be and of what you want to accomplish. Decide how you want to act, then picture yourself acting and feeling that way. Dwell upon those ideas — keep going over them in your mind and new habit patterns will begin to form. Once the habit patterns are established, the desired result will occur automatically without conscious effort.
Rule V – Habit Patterns can be Formed with Auto-suggestions
Words, whether spoken or unspoken, are symbols that convey certain images and thoughts to the mind through previous associations. When we think the word “HOT,” for example, an image immediately comes to mind relating to some experience of being hot, of being burned by something hot, or of a hot object. Once a word becomes associated with a specific image (object or action), the word alone then becomes a signal to the mind representative of that image and can act to elicit the same responses that the image itself would evoke. Kimball Young once said, “words are an expansion and creation of total reality.” Through the use of words, in the form of auto-suggestions, we are able to create “real” situations corresponding to the goals we seek to achieve. Repetitious use of auto-suggestions then act to form new patterns of behavior.
Because repeated use of words and thoughts can act to form new habit patterns, we must be careful in our everyday life to repeat words and thoughts that result in productive responses and avoid negative words and thoughts that evoke destructive responses. It is also important to realize that when someone else says something it becomes your thought for the moment. Therefore it is equally important to avoid situations in which you are continually exposed to negative words, negative thoughts, and negative goals.
You will be given specific rules for structuring positive auto-suggestions (see Rules for Structuring Auto-suggestions) and you will learn how to effectively administer these suggestions in a scientific manner (see Rules for Administering Auto-suggestions).
Rule VI – Attitudes/Habits are Best Learned/Changed without Effort
Out currently held beliefs, whether good or bad, true or false, were formed without effort, with no sense of strain, and without the exercise of “will power.” Habit patterns whether good or bad are formed in the same way.
The late Dr. Knight Dunlap made a life long study of habits and learning processes. His findings revealed that effort was the one big deterrent to either breaking a bad habit or forming a new one. In many cases, effort to change an undesirable habit may actually serve to reinforce the habit. His studies proved that the best way to break a bad habit is to form a clear mental image of the desired end result, and to practice without effort toward reaching that goal. Instead of trying hard by conscious effort and “iron-jaw” will power to change undesirable habits, simply let yourself relax, mentally picture yourself as you want to be and allow the new habit patterns to form automatically. Once the new habit pattern has started, it will automatically strengthen itself with each repetition and each successful performance.
Rule VII – Once Established, Patterns Tend to Remain Until Replaced with a New Pattern of Behavior
Starting at birth, and from then on, every individual is continually exposed to a variety of situations requiring some degree of adaptive behavior. Similar situations occurring repeatedly soon begin to establish certain conditioned responses. Once this happens, each repeated occurrence serves to reinforce the responses, until they become so strongly established that we are unable to exercise much voluntary control over them. If all habits, attitudes and emotions were beneficial there would be no problems. Unfortunately, often they are not.
To change a habit pattern, we begin by forming new conditioned response patterns for the habit situation. We then practice the new responses, using techniques found here (Self-Hypnosis Center’s Home Page), until they become so strongly associated with the habit situation that a new pattern of behavior is formed. A person with stage fright, for example, can easily learn to associate feeling of confidence, poise and success with situations requiring his performance in front of an audience. As the new response pattern becomes stronger with each repetition, the old responses are permanently replaced.
Rule VIII – Habit Patterns can be Formed without Repetition
Many reflexes are present at birth and others are acquired through repeated experiences. However, reflexes and behavior patterns can be formed from a single experience. When any strong emotion is present there is an intense focusing of mental activity and undesirable reflex responses may develop accidentally. For example, a child who is barked at, chased or bitten by a dog rapidly learns to fear dogs. Only one such encounter may cause the child to subsequently fear all dogs, even harmless pictures of dogs.
A similar condition of focused mental activity can be brought about intentionally to form desirable behavior patterns with little or no repetition. The process occurs most easily when the body is completely relaxed and all competing or conflicting thoughts and ideas are held to a minimum. Carefully structured auto-suggestions and mental imagery can be used during this time to rapidly develop new habit patterns.
Michael Robinson, MSN, RN-BC is a Board Certified Registered Nurse, who specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, including trauma, relationships, weight related issues, learning to feel confident about yourself and your decisions and understanding the effect of unconscious processes and their effect on your emotions and behavior. He uses hypnosis to assist in providing alternatives through work with unconscious processes when people are having a difficulty with current negative perceptions. He believes all life is a growth experience, within which self respect, love and happiness can be found. Learn more at: http://hypnosiseducationcenter.com.