Read an Excerpt
Please Change Your MindBecause You Are What You Think
By Steve White
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Steve White
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the Beginning
Life Occurs for Us
Life occurs for each of us every day at one hundred miles per hour. Our lives are so busy, it is hard to keep up with it all. Between our jobs, our families, church, recreation, civic duties, and maybe even a little rest periodically, we process so much information every day that it's a miracle we can function at all.
Technology brings everything on the Internet right to our face, 24/7. Thanks to search engines, social networks, dating services, and much more, we've never had access to more information more conveniently than we have today.
We take all this activity and information in through our five senses. The lion's share of this information gathering is done through seeing and hearing. Our brains or minds (I use these terms interchangeably) are extremely capable, fast computers that process all this life activity in nanoseconds, hundreds of thousands of times each day. No wonder we need sleep.
I have created a graphic diagram that starts in this chapter and builds in subsequent chapters. This diagram will help you follow the logic of the process I will describe.
Each of us has a lens through which we see and process life. All life activity has to pass through that lens before it gets to our brain. In addition to this lens, we all have certain human needs that we are driven to meet.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have written a great deal about basic human needs. Abraham Maslow wrote a paper in 1943 entitled "A Theory of Human Motivation," which proposed a hierarchy of human needs. I believe that Maslow's findings best summarize the collective wisdom of all the experts in regard to human needs. He found that all basic needs could be broken down into five major categories. He believed they were hierarchical, and perhaps they are; but for our purposes I simply agree that they are correct and will refer to them separately. The following pyramid diagram shows Maslow's five basic human needs.
For the most part, physiological needs are obvious. They are the literal requirements for human survival, the need to live. Air, water, and food are all metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements. Human sexual instinct maintains a birth rate sufficient for the survival of the species.
Safety and Security
These needs have to do with our yearning for a predictable, orderly world. These needs include personal security, financial security, health and well-being, and safety nets against accidents and illnesses.
Love and Belonging
We need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, whether it comes from large social groups, such as clubs, churches, sports teams, gangs, or professional organizations; or from small, intimate groups. This would include emotionally based relationships in general, such as friends and family. We need to love and be loved by others.
We need to be respected and have self-esteem and self-respect. We need to be accepted and valued by others. This would include the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. It would also include such things as strength, competency, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom.
This need pertains to a person's realizing his or her full potential. It is the desire to become increasingly more of what one is, to become everything that one is capable of being. Individually, this need is specific. In one person it might be a strong desire to become a good parent; in others it might be expressed athletically, or in the arts, or through inventions.
While Maslow's hierarchy of needs has its critics, it is widely accepted. In fact, many courses in marketing and business use his pyramid as one basis for understanding consumers' motives for action. For our purposes in this book, we will look at these needs within individuals, and we will consider them as separate rather than hierarchical.
So our process looks like this:
The PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
Chapter TwoThe PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
The Lens and the Laws
As stated in the previous chapter, we all have a lens through which we see and process the world and all of life. It is unique to each of us, made obvious by the fact that two people can view the same thing and each see something different. Look at the following picture:
Do you see an old woman? Or do you see a young woman? Look closely and you will see them both. So while you and I can look at the same thing, we may each see something different. But what I see is just as real to me as what you see is real to you. We are looking at the same thing, but the laws we put on our lens could be very different. Similarly, when life comes at us, you and I may witness an event but interpret it differently.
As an example, suppose you and I are on a subway train. We both observe a young boy running through the car unsupervised, while his father sits there and does nothing to control him. You may see a father not disciplining a child and feel angry; I may see a man lost in grief, unable to pay attention to his child, and feel compassion. We both saw the same thing, but because we thought something different, we felt something different. And if we are both compelled to do something about that boy and his father, then we would certainly do something different.
Each of us places our laws on our lens. Laws are the things that you hold to be true. Some of these laws have been placed on your lens by your parents, your teachers, and your friends. But you have put most of them on your lens as you've experienced life, and have come to believe that these laws are true. You have laws on your lens about everything. You have hundreds of thousands of laws on your lens, and they filter everything that goes into your brain. You have simple and obvious laws, such as "Fire is hot." But you've also got some complex laws on your lens, like, "My self-worth is dependent on being accepted by my peers." And you have laws of every kind in between those two extremes. You have laws about Dad's way to cut the grass, Mom's way to load the dishwasher. You have laws about marriage, parenting, business, religion, health care, and so forth.
You put these laws in place; you get to approve them before they go on your lens. Mom or Dad may have suggested something was true, but it only goes on your lens with your approval. You adopt these laws largely because you believe they will help you meet one or more of those five human needs.
So you have a lens, and you place on your lens laws that you hold to be true. And then life occurs for you through your lens, in accordance with those laws. It looks something like this:
The PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
Now let us take a few examples through this process. Let's say you have a law on your lens that says, "All dogs are vicious." What need is probably driving that law? Physiology, or the need to live. Now, when you see a dog, what are you going to feel? Fear. And when you feel fear, what are you likely to do? Run, without any doubt.
Notice the progression here. First, something happened—you saw a dog. The next thing you did was think something. You processed seeing that dog through your lens and your law that said "All dogs are vicious." This happens so fast in your mind, you don't even know it. But that is what happens. And it is only after you think something that you feel something, and it is only after you feel something that you do something. This is always the progression. Something happens, you think, you feel, you act. Now our process diagram looks like this:
The PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
Let's take a few more examples through the process so you get the hang of it. Let's suppose you have a law on your lens that says, "My self-worth is dependent on always being first." Now, what need is probably driving that law? Esteem. You want and need to feel important. So, what will you feel when you start losing in any game? What will you feel when others get credit for something you did? What will you feel in slow traffic? What will you feel in a long line at the bank? You'll feel cheated, you'll feel beaten, you'll feel second class. So if that's what you feel, what will you probably do? Sure, you'll cheat, you'll cut people off, you'll butt in line, and you'll do anything to be first.
Let's take another example. Suppose some of you men out there have a law on your lens that says, "Men are better than women." Not that any man would ever really have this law. Remember, we're just supposing. What need is probably driving a law like that? Esteem again. You need to feel better about yourself. So what will you feel when you get a female boss? What will you feel when your wife makes a decision that you don't agree with? What will you feel about your daughter in relation to your son? Perhaps you'll feel anger toward your boss, perhaps you'll feel resentment toward your wife, and perhaps you'll feel justified in the way you treat your daughter.
If you feel these emotions, what are you then likely to do? You'll find every chance to show up your boss and criticize her. You'll yell at your wife or criticize her, saying she's not capable of making decisions. You'll lay down different rules for your daughter than you have for your son.
Now let's take an example of two women, each with a different law on her lens. Both Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith are newlyweds. Mrs. Jones has a law on her lens that says, "If my husband loves me, he'll spend all his time with me on weekends." Mrs. Smith, however, has a law on her lens that says. "My husband will need some time to himself on weekends to decompress from a hard week at work."
Now comes Saturday morning. Both Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith have gotten up early to fix breakfast for their husbands, probably because they also have a law on their lens that says something like, "Cooking breakfast is a good way to show my husband that I love him." Then down the stairs come Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith with their golf clubs slung over their shoulders, and they both say, "I'm off to play golf, honey."
What do you think Mrs. Jones is going to feel? She's going to feel anger, and probably hurt as well. The human need she's trying to fulfill is love. She needs to feel loved, and if her husband loved her, he'd spend the weekend with her. Since Mrs. Jones feels anger, what is she likely to do? Of course, she's going to yell and scream, or maybe sulk.
Now, what is Mrs. Smith likely to feel? She will probably feel compassion, because her law says that her husband will need time alone on weekends to decompress. So what do think Mrs. Smith is going to do? Of course, she's going to give her husband a kiss and tell him to have a great time with his buddies.
In this example, both Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith observed the exact same event. Both husbands came down the stairs with the golf clubs over their shoulders and said the exact same thing. The only thing that was different was the law on each woman's lens. That law dictated what each woman felt and did. What do you think the results in real life would have been? Which woman's actions probably generated the result that is most likely to meet her needs?
Now I'm not here to tell you that the laws on your lens are good or bad. I'm just saying that you have a lens, and that you are putting laws on that lens every day. Those laws are dictating what you feel, and your feelings are then dictating what you do. And what you do is creating the results in your life.
Chapter ThreeThe PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
The Results We Create for Ourselves
So now you've seen that when life occurs for you every day, at one hundred miles per hour, you process all of life through your lens. On that lens are the laws that you hold to be true, and they have all been placed there by you, with your permission. When life meets those laws, you instantaneously think something that is based on those laws. This, in turn, causes you to feel an emotion, like anger or compassion. These feelings, or emotions, then dictate what you do. It is always this progression—something happens, you think, you feel, you act, and you create results.
Our diagram now looks like this:
The PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
The results that you produce in your life provide feedback to the mind. This feedback, positive or negative, is always being measured (subconsciously) against your five basic human needs. When there is harmony between your results and your needs, you have a sense of satisfaction, well-being, and peace. When your results don't produce harmony with your needs, you end up in conflict, dissatisfied, without peace, and the sense that something is wrong. So now our diagram is complete and looks like this:
The PLEASE CHANGE YOUR MIND Process
Let's say that there is some aspect of your life that is not meeting your needs. You have no peace and you know something needs to change. How do you fix it? Well, there are a thousand books that will tell you to change your behavior. And there are another thousand books that will tell you that since you can't change what happens in life, you should change the way that you feel about life. But I believe that while focusing on your behavior and your feelings might provide some short-term benefit, it will never produce long-term peace.
It is very frustrating to try to change your behavior or your emotions if you keep the same laws on your lens. Those laws drive the other two. To make lasting positive changes, so that the results of your actions lead to long-term peace, you have to alter the laws. If you can do that, you will automatically change the way you feel, change what you do, and create different results. While the new results may still not meet your needs, they will produce something different from before.
For example, if someone has a law on his lens that says, "Men are better than women," and he changes it to, "Women are better than men," the results probably still won't meet his needs. So he keeps changing the laws! Sooner or later maybe he'll hit upon, "Men and women are equal," and he will experience the peace he was looking for.
Said another way, if the results of your behavior are not meeting your needs over time, you have an unsuitable law on your lens. Let me repeat that. If the results of your behavior are not meeting your needs over time, you have an unsuitable law on your lens.
I believe that all human growth is the result of people changing the laws on their lenses. If you can take a law off your lens, put it on the table, examine it, and have the courage to change it and then put it back, you have the formula for producing results in your life that will meet your needs.
You must always remember that results take time to measure. If a teenager has a law on her lens that says, "My self-worth is dependent on being accepted by my friends," and she goes to parties where drugs and alcohol are being served, what will she feel? She will feel pressure, and she will feel that her friends' acceptance is slipping away. So what will she do? Sure, she'll take the drugs and drink the alcohol. Now, is that going to meet her needs over time? Of course not. But it will provide her with some short-term benefit.
Excerpted from Please Change Your Mind by Steve White Copyright © 2011 by Steve White. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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