We all have a structure within our brains called the “Reticular Activating System”, or far easier – the RAS. This system is at the base of our brain and filters information before it enters. In my previous blog, I explained that at any second there are around 2,000,000 pieces of data around us, from the things we see, smell, taste, touch and hear. To take it all in would overload our brain, so we need a filter… enter the RAS.
How does the RAS know what we want to filter?
Basically, the RAS picks up clues from our conscious and subconscious i.e. it looks at what we spend a lot of time thinking about and it finds more of the same.
Blaine Oelkers introduced an easy way to understand this; What You Think About, You Bring About or WYTAYBA. Have you ever bought a new car, or considered buying a new car and then seen the car everywhere you turn? Is that just a coincidence? No, that’s the RAS helpfully highlighting more of what is in your conscious and subconscious mind.
It’s easy to see that the RAS has our best interests at heart, it is like the kind grandmother who knows we like a certain chocolate and every time we visit there is a bar waiting faithfully for us on the table. But what if the thoughts we have aren’t really helping us, and the RAS keeps providing more of the same? How can we break out of the cycle?
It’s completely possible, it just takes a change of focus and some consistency.
How to hi-jack your RAS
Due to the amazing capability our brain has to change (read more about this here), we can create new pathways in our brains and we can physically strengthen and change the shape of our brain to benefit our mental, physical and psychological health.
This is done through repetitive action. Repeating the same thoughts will force our RAS to take notice and therefore it will start working on our behalf 24:7 to find more of the same.
Imagine what that could look like for your goals. Imagine you have a goal to eat healthier, now if you chose to think positive thoughts about your food and your body and your exercise regime all day every day, your RAS would begin to find evidence that it is all true. Therefore it would show you evidence that you are beautiful, strong, determined and your food is tasty and nutritious and exercise is the best treat you can give yourself. It would highlight how great you feel after a workout and how delicious your latest recipe was and how fun that dance class was. This is how transformation grows. This is how to create a strong foundation for any goal or behavioural change you want, and that is why this practice is a vital and systemic part of every coaching programme I offer.
How can I get started with this today?
Did you know the average person unlocks their smartphone 110 times every day? Imagine if you could use each of those 110 times, to instil a new thought in your mind and hi-jack your RAS? Well you can, download THIS FREE SCREENSAVER template and edit it with whatever you now chose to focus on (you can do this in Snapchat, Instagram or your usual photo app on your phone). Then save it as your screensaver. Now every time you unlock your phone – about 110 times a day – you and your RAS will be reminded of your goal and it will begin work on your behalf to make it happen.
If that is not a life hack, I don’t know what is!