Monday, August 2, 2010

I CAN! (Not "I Can't...")

     Yeah, I know...this all sounds like so much new-age claptrap.  But it isn't.  I know because I've used these principles in the past and they work.
     Your "mind" is really comprised of two parts; a conscious, thinking mind (which you are aware of), and a subconscious (so-named because you're not necessarily aware or conscious of it).  The conscious mind is constantly analyzing data.  Thinking.  And that's what it's supposed to do.  The subconscious part of the mind catalogues informaiton and never forgets anything.  For instance, it remembers how many steps it took you to walk up the steps to school on Oct. 15th of 1988.  It never forgets anything and is capable of storing an untold amount of information.
     It also does everything it's told to do by the conscious mind.  Without questioning anything.  If you look at something and say, "I can't do that," it will do whatever it must to ensure that you cannot do it.  The saying about being careful what you wish for is very appropriate here.
     On the other hand, if you insist that you CAN do something, the subconscious will do whatever it takes to make sure that you are capable of doing it.  And that's the trick.  Re-read that statement - IT WILL DO WHATEVER IT MUST TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING IT.  That means that you will be CAPABLE of doing whatever...not that you WILL do it.
"The world is full of failures.  Do not seek to add to their number."
Line from "The Octogan"
     Yeah, I can see the guy in the back raising his hand and saying, "Oh yeah?  What if I want to fly?  Can I jump off the roof of my house?"  Go ahead.  You'll probably break something important, too.  The subconscious is very much aware of what you can and cannot do as a human and as the person you are.  So that eliminates flying by flapping your arms, standing in front of a cruising cement mixer in the hopes of stopping it, and doing other such "superman" type things.
     But you are capable of doing lots of things that you've probably never considered.  You COULD become a brain surgeon...but you'd have to go to school first.  You COULD be an NFL star running back, but you'd probably have to work on it for awhile first.
     Also, the subconscious doesn't work too much with commands (like your brain), but rather with images.  If you visualize yourself doing something, it will accept that information and work to bring it into reality.  But first you have to have the IDEA; the IMAGE of doing something.
"The indispensable first step to getting things is this...
 Decide what it is you want."
Ben Stein
     First you have to decide what it is that you want.  Oddly enough, lots of us have never really considered that.  You want something, but you've never really considered EXACTLY what it is that you want.  You have to take time to sit down and think about it.  Once that's been decided, you can start to work.
     Remember that even once you've decided what it is that you want, you're going to have to work for it.  If oyu're not willing to do that, your desire is nothing more than a wish.  It'll never become a reality.  You want to become a black belt? OK, but it's going to require some work.  It isn't going to just "happen" miraculously.
"If you keep believing what you've been believing,
 you'll keep achieving what you've been achieving."
Author Unknown
     Once you've decided what you want, you have to get very specific.  You want to lose weight?  And you're willing to do whatever it takes including giving up those candy bars?  Fine.  The subconscious mind accepts that information.  And you might even lose an ounce or two.  Not enough, you say?  Well, then you've got to be SPECIFIC.  You didn't tell the subconscious HOW MUCH weight you wanted to lose.  And by when (the time has to be realistic, remember).  You REALLY want to lose 20 lbs. by Jan. 15th of next year?  Okay.  It'll start to work on it.
"I never hit a shot, not even in practice,
 without having a very sharp,"in focus"
picture of it in my head."
Jack Nicklaus
     You have to be careful about using negative statements.  Saying things like, "Everyhting I eat goes straight to my butt" will ensure that that's precisely where it goes.  Remember, the subconscious doesn't care whether something is necessarily good for you or not.  It simply believes what you tell it and does what it's told to do.
    The visualizations and wording you use wiht the subconscious are very important.  They have to be SPECIFIC.  If you say, "I want to lose weight," that's not specific enough.  So you say, "I want to lose 20 lbs by Jan. 15th of next year."  Fine.  What's wrong with that statement?  You said YOU WANT to lose weight.  The subconscious acknowledge what you WANT, which isn't what you GET or ARE.  It simply acknowledges the fact that you have made a wish.  Like Jiminy Cricket wishing on a star.  Big deal.  You have to word things the right way.  It's like working with a super-computer.  You have to know the right commands to get it to work for you.  So you say, "I WILL lose 20 lbs. by Jan. 15th of next year."  That's better.  You've just givcn a command and the subconscious goes to work.
"Take the first step in faith.
 You don't have to see the whole staircase.
 Just take the first step."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
     The subconcsious works best with images.  So you take some time each day, sit back, and visualize yourself weighing 20 lbs less than you do now, and DOING the things you'd be doing at that weight.  You have to BELIEVE that you're really losing weight and do what it takes to achieve it.  You can BELIEVE it all you want but if you eat a steady diet of Snickers and chocolate malts, it isn't likely to happen.  You COULD tell yourself that you really don't like the taste of excessively fatty foods.  And that will work.  In a short time, you honestly con't like the taste of Snickers.  And tell yourself that you really LIKE foods which are low in fat and that you actually prefer them to fatty foods.  And that's what will happen.  Soon, you'll be losing weight.  And with exercise, it'll happen faster.  And the weight will stay off.
"Nothing happens unless first a dream."
Carl Sandburg
     Think about it.  There are millions of people who achieved their dreams this way.  You probably know some.  Ask them if you like.  I remember a student of mine who owned a couple of fast-food chicken restaurants.  Times were tough.  But he and his family had a dream and wouldn't let go.  Now their company owns over 70 fast-food restaurants. Pretty good for a youngster who started off with no more than a dream.
     And there are SO MANY others. Wilma Rudolph (the fastest female runner in the world) who was crippled as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. who was an unknown black preacher, the riverboat bum named Sam Clemens (aka. Mark Twain), the deaf, dumb, and blind girl whose family decided was hopeless (Helen Keller)...millions of them!  And martial arts are full of such people as I mentioned in the first lecture...the internal boxing master who started off trying to commit suicide because he was so horribly poor and he even failed at that (Sun Lutang), the enlisted sailor who decided he wanted to make martial arts his living (Robert Trias), the dirt-poor Texas kid who joined the Air Force to escape poverty (Chuck Norris), and many, many others.  Each one had a dream and decided to make it a reality.  They set to work and wouldn't give up.  Hard times and setbacks are inevitable; the subconscious isn't a magic wand.  But with it's help, you can achieve anything.
"We cannot rise higher than our thought of ourselves."
Orison Swett Marden
     And that's what much of martial arts training is about.  Helping you learn to live and overcome obstacles.  Helping you know yourself better.  Achieving your dreams.
"Age is something that doesn't matter
 unless you are a cheese."
Billie Burke

1 comment:

  1. Excellent wisdom. I'm a fanatic about creative visualization. I have so many examples of it. Years ago I started writing down my goals. It is not a hard thing but it was a mental chore to be so exacting because I - like most others - had habituated myself to fuzzy thinking.

    After the first time it got easier. Now I love revising them because I get to see how far I've exceeded them. Each time I formulate them I think "am I asking too much?" And each time I review them I think "I didn't ask nearly enough because I far surpassed that goal." Quite an amazing engine our minds/spirits are.

    The one addition I'd offer is the necessary omission of negatives in one's thoughts. The parasympathetic/unconscious/cosmic consciousness/universe/whatever you wish to call it works only on positives. It omits Negatives. To be effective, people should phrase their desires only in positive statements. It's so true... and why I worry that Google - whose mission statement is "Do No Evil" - will ultimately become the greatest corporate threat we've ever seen. But I digress. :)

    Excellent column, Sifu!