Did you know there is a set of Rules of the Mind – rules that your subconscious mind uses to organize information and create behaviors? Yepper, there is. These rules have been uncovered through decades of working with hypnosis by generations of amazing hypnosis professionals and I learned them when I took my hypnosis training, all those years ago now!
These “rules of the mind” help you understand how the subconscious mind works. They are rules, so they are operating whether you know about them or not. So, if you’ve ever wondered why something is happening to you or you’re doing something you consciously don’t want to do, these rules will help you understand why.
And once you know the rules, you can consciously make changes to make them work in your favor!
I’ve created a series of articles on each of these rules of the mind and I’ll be posting them here each week, until we get through all of them!
Are you ready? I’m going to start with a story that illustrates the first rule: Every Thought or Idea Causes a Physical Reaction.
Several years ago I had a really nice young man come to see me for fear of public speaking. He was a pastor at a large church, and being in front of the congregation wasn’t a problem for him; there he felt comfortable and confident. But when he was meeting with the church board, things changed for him.
Then he got nervous. And one of his main symptoms of being nervous was a dry mouth, which made it difficult to speak. As he explained this to me, he said, “I’ve tried everything. I’ve even tried positive suggestions but they don’t work.”
So I asked him, what positive suggestions have you been telling yourself?
And he said, “I tell myself over and over, don’t get dry mouth, don’t get dry mouth!”
And here is where we see the power of the First Rule of The Mind — Every thought creates a response in the body.
The University of Alaska describes this rule this way:
Rule 1 – Every Thought or Idea causes a Physical Reaction
“Your thoughts can affect all of the function of the body. WORRY thought trigger changes in the stomach that in time can lead to ulcers. ANGER thoughts stimulate your adrenal glands and the increased adrenaline in the blood causes many body changes. ANXIETY and FEAR thoughts affect your pulse rate. Ideas that have a strong emotional content almost always reach the subconscious mind, because it is the feeling mind. Once accepted, these ideas continue to produce the same body reaction over and over again.”
There is a lot going on in that deceptively brief definition, so let’s unpack it a bit.
As this suggests, thoughts and ideas with strong emotional content ‘almost always reach the subconscious mind, because it is the feeling mind.’ This is actually a little bit skewed, because the conscious mind is the analytical mind: the conscious mind does not do emotion. All emotion stems from the subconscious mind. Emotions are part of how the subconscious mind “codes up” experiences and categorizes them and sorts and groups them. So, emotional thoughts are originating in the subconscious mind as a feeling and then getting connected to language that expresses that feeling and becoming thoughts. Engaging in those thoughts strengthens the neural pathways associated with them and then certain thoughts or ways of thinking become habits. You may recognize that happening in your own life.
It’s very much human nature to develop thought habits, frequently negative. But most people don’t think that’s too serious of a matter. After all, it’s just a thought, right? The fact is, that emotional thoughts create correlated responses in the body — triggering the production of neurotransmitters and hormones and those chemicals have real effects on us physically.
The continued over-production of adrenaline due to thoughts about scary things that might or might not actually happen to you, for example, can create “rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety, weight loss, excessive sweating and palpitations.”1 On a consistent, long term basis, these symptoms can lead to real disease in the body. According to the Institute of Science, Technology & Public Policy, “Leading medical experts estimate that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.” 2
Adrenaline is only one unwanted by-product of negative thoughts. There is also cortisol, which long term is catabolic, meaning it breaks down your muscle tissue3. [The reference here is from a body building site and if you ever want to hang out with a group of people DEEPLY geeked out into physiology, you’ll find them there!] Cortisol also triggers insulin and long term overproduction of cortisol then leads to insulin resistance4 and fat gain and is part of the disease progression toward diabetes.
Scary stuff! (Let’s not think about it! LOL!)
We all have more than enough stress in our lives without playing into thoughts that act as an echo chamber for that stress, so what can we do about it?
Ironically, that idea that “it’s just a thought” can be turned around to become a very useful tool. Instead of using that concept to defend continuing to think negative thoughts (as in, “So what, it’s just a thought!”), apply that same idea in a way that diminishes the reality and importance of the thought. As in, “Ok, that’s just a thought, it’s my busy mind trying to do something for me, but I’m going to let that one go.”
Let’s take a look at that last sentence in the paragraph from the University of Alaska, “Once accepted, these ideas continue to produce the same body reaction over and over again.” Why is this true? Because the mind loves repetition, and what we repeat becomes learned and more deeply reinforced in our neural pathways. Again, it becomes habit. So, catching yourself early on and understanding how this rule of the mind works is an important first step to creating a reality you really want.
How do you make this rule of the mind work FOR you?
Start focusing on what you DO want, rather than what you don’t want. It seems to be more natural for people often to focus on what they don’t want. I don’t want dry mouth, I don’t want to be anxious, etc.. And then you focus on how it feels to be those things. Turn your focal point around, and start focusing on what you want INSTEAD. I want a moist mouth. I want to be calm, relaxed and comfortable. Remember what it feels like to be in that desired state, and you’ll find yourself moving into THAT state of being. Because every thought creates a physical response in the body, and the more you engage in that thought, the more easily the same body reaction is produced, over and over again!
Keep in mind, this is not just that platitude, “the power of positive thinking.” That’s too vague and too over used to be of any real impact. This is about specific responses and how your neurology works; stuff that you can get a handle on and really put to use in your life.
Using this rule to your advantage you can create positive thought habits that serve you and help you reach your goals, whatever they are.
For example, I have helped many clients develop habitual, helpful thoughts that now create instant and completely reliable changes in their state. Such as, “I always get my work done on time,” which allowed that client to quit spending time worrying about deadlines. A couple others that come to mind are, “My subconscious mind always reminds me of what I need to know, when I need to know it,” and “Any time I start feeling anxious, I immediately become calm and logical.” (These were anchored with an NLP Swish pattern.)
I learned these rules 12 years ago and I have a few of these “thought switches” installed myself and by now these thoughts are absolutely habits; completely automatic. I’m sure there are times when they’re happening that I don’t even know they’re happening, and I also know that I can purposely use them when I feel the need and have 100% confidence in their effectiveness. In fact, the more I use them, the better they work, and the better they work, the more I use them! When I notice an area I could improve on where this will help, I start adding another.
Let me know if you’d like me to do one of the free monthly trainings on how to do this for yourself! Email me or let me know in the comments below the article.
While I’m geeking out on all this, here’s a cool, short video that gives another perspective on this phenomenon and may give you even more ideas of how to apply this Rule of the Mind #1 in your life:
I hope this has been helpful to you!
Until next week and another rule!
Cindy Locher, BCH