I helped my sister with some finish carpentry recently. It had been quite awhile since I’d done much finish work, so I was nervous about driving nails into expensive material. Doing it anyway gave me an opportunity to notice how the skills I learned in construction are relevant to Take Back Your Brain!. (I also had an insight about how earning a living with a keyboard doesn’t keep me in very good physical condition, but that’s another topic!)
I can remember vividly how difficult it was to learn how to drive nails. When I was training we used to practice by pounding hundreds of long, thin 16 penny box nails into a large beam – trying over and over to drive them all the way in without bending. Most of them did bend for the first few weeks until I learned the secret: focus all of my attention on the nail going in.
Prior to that I’d thought a lot about trying not to bend the nails. Of course I got exactly the outcome I was thinking about – bending nails – since our unconscious minds are not able to process negatives. My breakthrough occurred when I realized that at the moment of impact I should instead visualize the nail traveling straight and true into the center of the wood. As long as I kept my concentration on that image, it almost always worked. Sure, practicing helped improve my hand-eye coordination. But succeeding consistently turned out to be a largely mental exercise.
Later, when I had more experience, I would encounter situations where the only way to reach the nail I needed to drive was to strike it backhand at a difficult angle. Although that was quite a bit harder, the method for success was essentially the same: concentrate only on the nail going in. I was sometimes amazed at how well that worked.
Similarly, I was able to do a pretty good job on my sister’s project, even though my skills were kind of rusty. As long as I remembered to focus my attention on those nails going in, my body memory caught up and obeyed.
I think that’s exactly what we’re trying to do with the techniques I’m describing in this blog: keep our attention on the outcomes we want. Whether that outcome is a job, a behavior change, an adventure, an object, a relationship, or whatever – encountering images and messages about it regularly helps keep our attention focused on that goal.
When you’re designing your ads, try to create a tiny place where the reality you want to achieve is already true. For example, use your digital camera to photograph yourself standing near the car, job or house you want. Or use Photoshop to insert yourself into a picture of an exotic destination or domestic paradise. The beauty of technology is that you can create a visual representation of a situation that don’t yet exist outside of your mind.
Now expose yourself frequently to the image you made. Print it out and put it on your bathroom mirror, or use a technical delivery method like a screensaver slideshow. Each time you see the picture some part of your attention will return to visualizing the outcome you want. As we saw in Unexpected results, once you start seeing images of a desired future there’s a very good chance your mind will get busy making them come true.