Change Your Feelings by Changing HOW You Think (Rather Than WHAT You Think)

A branch of psychology called neurolinguistic programming has made an interesting and useful discovery: You can change the way you imagine or remember things without changing what you imagine, and it will change your feelings.

For example, if a visual memory makes you sad whenever you think about it, you can make that mental picture smaller and dimmer, and when you do, the memory won’t make you as sad. Since you haven’t changed the content of the memory, you haven’t lost any information. You’ve simply made it less painful.

When you visually remember a pleasant memory, you can make the picture more colorful and the memory will give you even more intense good feelings. You can make your pictures of the future brighter, wider, deeper, or you can bring the images closer. Changes like these will make you feel different — even when you leave the content of the picture the same.

These are general guidelines. You’ll need to experiment for yourself to find out what will work for a particular image. For a few people, making an exciting picture brighter makes the feelings less intense. And for some kinds of pictures, increasing the brightness would cause the feelings to become less intense — for example, a romantic memory.

What is true for visual images also applies to the way you talk to yourself. For example, if you have trouble motivating yourself, try changing the tone of voice you use when you speak to yourself. Some people order themselves around. The voice they use to talk to themselves is harsh and commanding. Listening to yourself being bossy can have the same effect as listening to someone else being bossy: It can make you want to rebel. Change your tone to friendly or seductive, and you might feel more motivated.

When you tell yourself, “I can do it,” fill your internal voice with enthusiasm and back it up with inspiring music. The possibilities are virtually endless.

The important thing to understand is that the way you code your inner world has an impact, and you have quite a bit of control over that coding. You can change it deliberately. When you do, it will change your feelings, which will change your actions, which will change the world around you.

This is a chapter from the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works.

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