The elephant in your brain is your subconscious mind.

The British rock band, The Rolling Stones, had a great song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on their 1969 album, Let It Bleed. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The lyrics (paraphrased) tell us that we can not always get what we want, but if we try, we might get what we need. Wants and needs talk directly to our conscious mind and that does not guarantee success.

Wants and needs are verbs that talk to our conscious brain. Our conscious brain has little control over what happens in our lives. Our subconscious brain is the one in charge. Vince Poscente is a business consultant, motivational speaker, record-setting speed skier, and Olympian. He wrote the book, The Ant and the Elephant. It addresses the differences between our conscious mind and our subconscious mind.

The ant is a representation of our conscious mind. The elephant signifies our subconscious mind. Neither the ant, not the elephant speak the same language. The ant thinks he is in charge. However, the elephant determines the path that will be followed. The ant might want to go in the westerly direction. How does it tell the elephant to go in that direction? It cannot.

The subconscious mind has one prime directive in life. It is to protect you. It will protect you against harm. Put your hand on a hot stove once and you will probably not do it again. The pain and hurt of the burn from the hot stove are imprinted in the brain – front and center.

Our subconscious mind never sleeps. It is working all the time. It learns from its own history. New Year’s resolutions. Maybe we want to lose weight for the new year. We make a conscious decision to lose weight. When we do not, the failure is etched into the archives of our subconscious mind. When another failure, like the first failed attempt to lose weight happens, it is added to the list of failures for that desire – to lose weight.

Over time, the list of failures becomes large enough for the subconscious mind to determine that any future attempts to lose weight will fail. The prime directive of the subconscious mind is to prevent anything from hurting or harming you. Failure harms you. It, the subconscious mind, will do everything in its power to ensure you do not fail again by trying to lose weight.

The mechanism to achieve success is rooted in the subconscious mind. When your conscious mind wants to lose weight, the subconscious mind will sabotage any effort to succeed, even though it might be a healthy thing for you. The subconscious mind does not want another failure. It will not give you a chance to fail by interrupting your path to weight loss success.

It sounds crazy, but it is the way it works. There are many things about the subconscious mind that can help you achieve your weight loss, but it is not by having a want or need to do it.

The word, want, as a verb means having a desire to possess or do something. Basically, it is a wish. The verb, need, means you require something because it is essential or important to you. These words address the conscious mind. They do not register with the subconscious mind, the guy who makes the decisions and determines the course of action to get there.

One word that connects directly to the subconscious mind is the word, expect. Expect, as a verb, means that something is likely to happen. I wrote a book, No Matter What You Can Do It, which goes into a lot more details about the subconscious mind. I learned about the subconscious mind from the 1960, Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book, Psycho-Cybernetics.

Dr. Maltz was a cosmetic surgeon and noticed that a small percentage of his patients did not fully comprehend the result of their cosmetic surgery. The majority had no problem identifying a better-looking person when some deformity was removed. However, that small percentage did not see the removal of the deformity. They saw the deformity as if it were there – never removed.

That prompted Dr. Maltz to delve into the reasons why. Dr. Maltz’s book and listening to Vince Poscente and reading his books gave me some great insight into why we do what we do. And what we can do to change what we do not want to do.

In this case, it might be changing the wording a bit to ‘expect’ a slightly different outcome so that the journey to achieve it does not represent one in the failure archive in your subconscious mind. Maybe, you might expect to eat healthier foods, smaller plate sizes, less often, whatever. The result might resemble weight loss, but the direction you are going in does not have exits for your subconscious mind to take you to avoid failure.

There are other ways to achieve your wants and needs, but I will talk about them in a future article. Do not forget who oversees your life. Like the Rolling Stones song, if you try it a bit differently, you might get what you expect!

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –

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