Imagine this: You buy a house and on move-in day, you notice that a light in one of the bedrooms doesn’t work. You try a new bulb in the fixture, but nothing. Then you notice that when you flip the switch, the light in the room next door comes on. Hm. You try the switch in the second bedroom and the light comes on in the first. The lights and switches have been wired wrong. Not sure how that passed inspection but, okay, put it on the mental to-do list.
You get back to the business of moving in, and over the next couple of days, even though you know the light’s not going to come on in the room you want it to, you continue to flip the switch. It’s because your brain has been wired (get it) to accept that when you flip a light switch, the light’s going to come on. Sometimes our emotions can work in the same way. We have behaviors that get tied to certain emotions. Behaviors we continue to engage in even though they’re not producing the results we want, or even worse, missing the mark entirely.
It’s going to take some work to rewire those lights and switches. Unless you know your way around electricity, you’re looking at hiring an electrician, and that ain’t cheap. But what’s the alternative? Just learn to live with it? That sounds pretty absurd, doesn’t it? It takes work to rewire the nervous system and train new behaviors too, but if there was a way to do it, wouldn’t it be crazy not to?
At IMS we focus on optimizing the 3 Pillars of life: Body & Health, Money & Finance, and Relationships. When these three areas are humming, you’re living a fulfilled life. When one or all of those pillars gets knocked off kilter, the byproduct is suffering and discomfort. And as we’ve all experienced before, it doesn’t take much to throw a pillar off balance. Your business is moving like a freight train and suddenly you’re hit with a lawsuit. A routine visit to the doctor results in an unexpected health scare. A freak hail storm turns the roof of your house into swiss cheese. Most people don’t drive their lives intentionally so when the equilibrium gets disrupted, they’re caught completely off guard. Probably the most common thing I hear is, “I just didn’t see it coming.”
I’ve seen it with couples struggling in their marriages. A husband says the relationship was great, going like gangbusters. Life was perfect. Then one day the wife comes home and asks for a divorce. He’s totally blindsided, says he never saw it coming. At which point I say, Really dude? You never saw it coming? If that’s true, then you my friend haven’t been paying attention. A person doesn’t wake up one morning in paradise and by dinner time decide to just tear it all down.
I’ve seen it with people facing challenges in their careers. A woman working as an executive with a Fortune 500 company comes into the office one day to find her name is no longer on the door. She’s completely waylaid. How could this happen? To which, again, I say, really? If you’d been paying attention, you should have seen there were hints and whispers all along the way.
So what’s going on here? How is it that so many otherwise intelligent people can go through their lives completely blind to the warning signs that seem to be staring them straight in the face? The answer, as is almost always the case, lies in the nervous system and the duality of a conscious mind and an unconscious mind that end up in conflict with each other. Your nervous system is built to do one thing and one thing only: to keep you alive. Its prime directive is to identify threats and eliminate them by whatever means necessary. Twenty thousand years ago this was a simple, straightforward formula. Bear = Limbs being torn off = Stay away from bears.
In the modern world, most of the dangers our ancestors faced have been eliminated. But the nervous system doesn’t know that. It’s still looking for bears. If we don’t train the nervous system what to fear, it will try to figure it out on its own, which usually doesn’t go well.
Let’s say, for example, you grew up in a home where money was tight. The feelings around money were fear, anger, and anxiety. Your conscious mind probably didn’t really understand what was going on, but your unconscious mind, your nervous system saw money = bear, ergo money = limbs being torn off, ergo stay away from money. That belief gets wired into the nervous system at an unconscious level so that, as an adult, no matter how determined you might be to create wealth, the nervous system is working against you. The only way to get the results you actually want is to rewire the connections so that when you flip the switch, the light comes on in the right room.
I used to think training people was about giving them tactics. I could give you a step-by-step blueprint for building wealth but the truth is, you probably won’t use it. The process for building wealth is pretty straightforward. It’s not complicated. But getting yourself to follow the program can be. What must come first is identifying what’s happening in the unconscious mind that is keeping you from the result you want. It’s only after your emotional relationship with money is rewired that we can begin to talk tactics.
People with wealth have a different relationship to and belief structure around money. They believe they’re entitled to it, that they deserve it. The average person sees that sense of entitlement and thinks, “What an asshole”. And no one wants to be an asshole. But the truth is, that’s just your own shit around money that’s bubbling up and being projected onto the guy in the thousand dollar suit. I’ve worked with people who have more money than God, and guess what? They’re just people like you and me. There’s nothing special about them. It’s just that they’ve wired their emotions in such a way that creating wealth doesn’t present as an overwhelming challenge.
The same principle applies to the space around body and health. Obesity, smoking, excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Those are all bears. The science is in, and all of those things will eventually kill you. So why do people continue to engage in those behaviors? It’s all in the wiring.
I was fifteen the first time I got drunk and totaled a car on the same day. My life up until then had not been pretty. There was a lot of pain in our household, sadness and rage. Not a lot of connection. We didn’t have family dinners or sit down together and watch Home Improvement. One day I was hanging out with some older friends, college kids, and the vodka came out. The first shot was disgusting and it took all my strength not to throw it back up. But I held it down and I was rewarded with pats on the back and high fives. The shots kept coming and so did the connection I was so hungry for. And just like that (snapping my fingers), my nervous system wired together drinking alcohol with acceptance, praise, and joy.
For the next four years you wouldn’t have found me sober. I drank and consumed whatever drug was available and I totaled six more cars. That’s seven cars in four years because I was caught inside the pattern of using drugs and alcohol to find that experience of connection. My nervous system was actually working against me. The pain and loneliness at home became the bear that I needed to run from, and the drugs and alcohol became the safe shelter.
It didn’t matter if my conscious mind thought this might be a bad idea. It wouldn’t have mattered if I wanted to stop engaging in that behavior altogether. We don’t do what we say we want to do, we do what the nervous system wants us to do. It took a near overdose when I was nineteen to start the rewiring process. The fear I experienced was such a shock to the nervous system that it finally started to see drugs and alcohol as the bear that my conscious mind already knew it was.
How you engage in relationships with other people is also dictated by your emotional wiring. I mentioned earlier the guy who was blindsided by his wife leaving him. I’ve seen it a thousand times. And I’ve found that most of the time, the partner who’s leaving is just as confused about what went wrong. They still love the other person, they want to be happy, they want to be at peace. But something just seems to be driving a wedge. What I find most often is that their nervous system has come to view their partner as the bear.
A lot happens in a marriage. Hopefully most of it is good, but there are going to be challenging times as well. Issues around intimacy, finances, children, you name it. The stuff of life can get ugly sometimes, nasty arguments, unkind words, hurt feelings. If your nervous system is already wired to view confrontation as a threat, something to fear, then it’s going to want to get away from the source of the threat. The conscious mind says, “I love my husband, I want to spend a long, fulfilled life with him.” But the unconscious mind says, “My husband is a bear.”
The first step to training the mind is…you’ve got to ignore the mind. If you only listen to what the conscious mind says, you’re going to miss what it actually believes! And you can’t start rewiring beliefs until you know what they are. Consciously, we say we want more money, we say we want love, connection and happiness with our partner, we say we want to be fit, have a lot of energy, be proud of how we look. Yet, most of us know that the daily actions we’re taking are bringing us to the shit we don’t want. The good news is, it’s never too late to rewire the nervous system so that our conscious mind is aligned with the unconscious.
Join us for our Power Series and we’ll provide you with the tools, techniques and strategies for getting dialed into the unconscious mind and rewiring those emotional connections. Click HERE to learn more and sign up today!