I have been a computer programmer for a number of years and as a result I have sat down in front of an array of machines. As time has progressed the computers I have used have steadily become more and more powerful, with the effectiveness of their processing and memory increasing on a seemingly exponential level.
As you may or may not be aware, a computer is only generally capable of responding to exactly what it is told via the medium of a pre-defined script or program. If the program has been designed badly, then the machine interpreting the code can only respond in a way aligned to this input. If on the other hand a program is presented to the computer, which is well designed and has a purposeful meaning to it, then this can result in a very useful outcome. There is a well-known saying in the world of programming, garbage in, garbage out. GIGO primarily relates to the data fed into the computer and that if the quality of data is poor then the results of processing and therefore output data will also be of low value.
Given what we know about the way a computer works and the pitfalls to watch for in this discipline, it is a shame that we ignore or pay less attention to the principal when applying this to our daily lives. Arguably we can draw a parallel with computer data with that of our thoughts and our preoccupation’s that we carry around on a daily basis. If the data in our head is of poor quality i.e. negative in nature often founded on untruth or misinterpretation then it is unlikely our brain ruminating about these thoughts is unlikely to end with a positive outcome.
The power of the subconscious
A lot of the processing of thoughts/data in our brain occurs in our subconscious and is effectively happening on autopilot. No doubt you, and I have experienced proof of this sub-level processing and probably not even aware of it. Ironically, often when faced with a programming issue at work that has caused hours of frustration, I have gone home only to return to my desk the next morning with the answer. I can honestly say I haven’t consciously thought about the given issue beyond an hour or so of leaving my desk. That clarity and simplicity of the answer is quite astounding. I agree this may partly be due to simply stepping away and giving myself time and space to help lift the blindness brought about by the stress the problem presents, but I believe it is most definitely more than this.
Another example of the subconscious mind is seeing an Olympic grade gymnastic at work. The speed and agility demonstrated by someone at this level is not happening in their conscious mind, they are not able to evaluate every step and move in time before the next consciously. I agree, what we witness from such a display is the culmination of hours and even years of commitment by the individual, but at the same time this process has simply enabled the programming of the subconscious to later execute the required moves for the spectacular display in a seemingly automatic fashion.
There have been a number of books written about the power of the subconscious mind and although these may seem hard to believe, we have all experienced the negative effects of this power without it being intentional. The key thing is the subconscious, like a computer can only respond to what it is fed. If the nature of our thoughts are negative then the outcome is also negative. If this state is maintained for any length of time then this only is magnified and perpetuates this bad state. Conversely, if we maintain a positive outlook this feeds into the subconscious and will maintain a good outlook and keep us open to opportunity. I believe Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
OK let’s think about someone with low-self esteem, which might even be you. The point is this state of mind didn’t happen overnight. This person is almost as professionally dedicated at telling himself or herself they are no good or worthless just as the gymnast is at training for their Olympic career. If we reiterate thoughts on a regular basis we not only think what we think, we become what we think. Not only does this have an effect internally but also manifest externally with our relationships, health and life in general. Arguably whether you believe it or not the subconscious is conduit to a much bigger thing. The problem is the evidence is before us and we have all experienced the negative impact of misuse of this power, we just need to build faith in adopting a more useful positive approach to tapping into this resource and let us experience the flipside of this powerful phenomena.
Meditation is a good foundation for separating the troublesome thoughts and just letting them pass rather then letting them attach to you on a personal basis. I suppose it helps to prevent becoming what you think because you detach from thoughts and see them for what they are rather than accepting them as being what defines you.
Counting your blessings
To help prevent the negative thoughts from appearing in the first place, a useful tip is to simply sit for five minutes at the start and end of your day and think about five or ten positive things about your life. One example might be being blessed with a caring and loving wife or how lucky you are to have such wonderful children. The point is they must be personal to you and genuine, but by doing this and making it a habit it re-programs the subconscious so that the default state of mind is working with good data.
If you think about it whether you are religious or not, one of the benefits of attending church every week is the quiet and reflection which is experienced and often you are encouraged during the service to count your blessings. This leaves the congregation with an elevated sense of well-being and reduces the impact negativity can have on the subconscious. Praying for positive things is another form of registering with the subconscious, again whether or not you believe there are further implications of prayer.
I am by no means an expert in this reprogramming, I am exploring it just as you or anyone else might be. One thing that is becoming clear though, if you let negativity take a hold then it will do just that. The bottom line is faith in the method you adopt, without faith it is worthless, as you can’t kid yourself. You have to believe and when you do, I think that’s when the magic happens and it really starts to stick. I would love to hear what works for you.