“Intentional Action—combining thoughts and feelings with action—is the bread and butter of Train Your Brain—providing you with a ‘stronger, quicker method’ for success.”
– Train Your Brain, page 13
Train your Brain teaches you to control your thoughts and emotions more than how to build a million dollar business. I was hoping for the million dollars, but instead got immediate help when applied to my life instead of my work.
Shape the way you think and your work becomes, in a sense, unconscious. We process nearly 95% of our lives without conscious thought. Author Dana Wilde believes that anyone can intercept conscious thoughts in a way that can create unconscious thought patterns, allowing you to feel better about your work and enjoy more success.
Acting on beliefs, long-standing and unchallenged patterns of thinking, is the most efficient and effective way to improve your work. If that is true, it is a matter of primary importance to shape those beliefs. Changing yourself at the level of what you believe is the brain training this book is written to accomplish. The first half of the book offers an explanation about why you act and feel like you do; the last half provides exercises or “experiments” in reprogramming your brain.
The Big Idea
Make the outside of your life match the inside
"What you’re ‘feeling’ always reflects what you’re ‘thinking.’"
Thoughts, beliefs and emotions lead to actions. Train Your Brain guides you in shaping your inner world of thoughts, beliefs and emotions so your actions will be different.
Thoughts form the foundation upon which beliefs are built and from which emotions spring. Emotions are helpful because they are the barometer of the thoughts that are forming them. Your feelings follow your thinking. Emotions also drive our actions. Those actions in turn reinforce the beliefs and the feelings.
Wilde coaches you to reprogram your thoughts using what she calls a mantra or a “positive conscious thought”. While I rolled my eyes at the thought, she improves on most “positive thinking” teaching by solving the biggest problem with it – those who simply don’t buy into their attempt at positive thinking.
She suggests I will believe myself when I offer myself a good reason to believe – a “because” statement or a “transition” statement. I know I’m not slim and fit. It won’t help me to say that to myself, but if I give myself a reason, I believe it in spite of my experience. For example, “I am slim and fit because I am taking smaller portions.” She says that works whether you are actually taking smaller portions or not. Or, “I used to be overweight and lazy, but now I am getting more disciplined at (transition statement) walking every day.” A reason, no matter how flimsy, is all you need to begin to believe yourself
You believe what you believe
"Your beliefs keep you on The Cycle of Perpetual Sameness. "
Beliefs are those things which function in our lives to keep us from having to reevaluate all of life every day. We establish deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and feeling that become automatic. These beliefs form the basis for most of our actions. Our actions stem from our beliefs and at the same time reinforce them.
One of the activities in the second half of the book encouraged me to be more aware of my current beliefs and how they made me feel. That wasn’t a religious question at all. I became aware that my unchallenged beliefs lead to actions that either help me or hurt me.
While I struggled to identify beliefs about my work that were affecting my production or outcomes, I found it quite easy to identify things I believed in my personal life that were counterproductive. My wife had a habit that I believed meant she wanted more space. I believed it for so long that I actually found myself creating more distance than was healthy. The insight is that I didn’t have to believe that – I chose to believe it. Now, I am working on re-training my brain in order to have a better marriage!
Interrupt the Cycle
"You cannot change your future with the same kind of thinking which created your present."
You don’t need to settle. Because you’ve experienced pain or disappointment doesn’t mean you always will.
I am responsible not only for my thoughts, but for my feelings. That was a new insight for me. I had settled into feeling badly more frequently than I care to admit. I was challenged to identify those areas in which I was settling and to begin to think differently. When you reprogram your thoughts, the feelings will follow and so will a change in actions. Ultimately, this is the intentional action the book is built around.
My ten-year-old daughter is a gifted musician. She will sit down and play the piano for fun. She can sing parts with her older sisters. She will not, however, even if her life is threatened, sing in front of other people. My wife and I know we must challenge this, so we planned a little program where she would be forced to sing along with her sisters in front of the rest of the family (a small and sympathetic audience, for sure). She burst into tears just as the music started. There was no “regrouping”. She gasped out a few notes mingled with sobs and the “performance” was over.
Later on, I explained to her what I had learned in this book – she was telling herself a story that she was believing. She then acted in accordance with that belief. Since she her actions were following beliefs, the tears flowed just like the story she told herself.
I explained how she needed to tell herself a different story. If she told herself a different story, she would begin to act in a way that matched the new story and she’d get a different outcome.
Much to my surprise, she got it! She committed to beginning the new story right now.
I started the book as a skeptic – another positive-thinking book, I thought. But, as I continued to read I began to see how I could apply its concepts to my life. I didn’t think I would actually use it so effectively, so quickly.
What stories are you telling yourself? What are you believing? What different story do you need to tell yourself?