The sun rises in the east. Wrong! The sun sets in the west.Wrong! How quickly we forget that it is we, the earth that is orbiting the sun. And think, this sun rising and setting is ubiquitous to the world. We are all in on this con. But it is not a con, it is just our perception. And yet we are surprised when a group of people follow
a leader that appears to us to be unbalanced, and like Jonestown may follow that leader to their demise. Yet if we look at ourselves closely, we may realize many of our beliefs are things we accepted without even a question. So why not follow Charles Manson? Isn’t it all just perception? My perception is right and yours is wrong? And if we look at history, much death has occurred because of differences of perception. The crusades lasted 200 years starting back in 1095. Israel and Palestine have been fighting for about 70 years. In Salem Massachusetts, perceived witches were hung. All this occurred while the sun rose in the east and set in the west, every single day. Only, it didn’t.
Many of our beliefs are formed by the time we are 8
So success friends, what is your perception of yourself? What beliefs have formed your life? What sunrises and sunsets color your world? Our childhood does influence our adulthood, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. I think it helps if you understand part of the why. And in this case, the why is Myelin. Webster defines myelin as: “a mixture of proteins and phospholipids forming a whitish insulating sheath around many nerve fibers, increasing the speed at which impulses are conducted.” The key here is the last part of the definition, “increasing the speed at which impulses are conducted”. A myelin sheath means deep brain channels, better connections between nerves, faster connections. A myelin sheath allows us to react without effort. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes a myelin sheath. As children, up until we are about 8, and again in our puberty, we produce large quantities of myelin, as adults not so much. Myelin in a child can produce instant learning, let them touch a hot stove once and they have learned, and that information stays with them for the rest of their lives. We adults need to learn the hard way, repetition. Myelin sheath is one of the reasons that children learn a language or an instrument so much faster than adults, the myelin coats the nerve connections creating a sheath and the reaction time is immediate. Having the ability to learn fast is a great survivor tool. However, you can learn unhealthy things equally fast. You may learn that you can’t be trusted, or you learn that food makes you feel better or that you were not capable of taking care of yourself. (We tell our children that they can’t take care of themselves every time we solve their problems, we are unable to let them fail, but, we cause a bigger problem by not letting them fall) An eight year old does rule us. As adults these unhealthy nerve pathways, just like the ones that keep us from touching a hot stove, are still in our brain, and just like the hot stove information, these nerve connections are coated with myelin and when a trigger occurs, we just react. If we learn as a child that food makes us feel better, as an adult it may be our go to when life throws us a challenge, and unfortunately, challenges happen every day. Or you could be like me. I learned during puberty that alcohol made me feel better. I chased that solution for 17 years.
Fortunately, I had one other myelin coated nerve cell, and that was a belief that I could be successful. During my years of drinking, that success connection did weaken, but it was such a dominating thought as a child that it stayed alive, and thrived when I put a cork in the bottle. And this is the next topic I want to touch on. How do we go from bad habits to great habits? The answer has to do with myelin sheath, but not the way it works when we are children.
A child that feels pain is a child that is learning. Sometimes the learning is good, sometimes the learning is not so good. A child that pinches her finger in a door, will learn to be more careful around doors. A child that feels the pain of a parents love being withdrawn will learn either he is not worthy of love, or, he will learn how to be deceptive so that he doesn’t experience that pain again. And, with myelin available, what they learn, they learn for the rest of their lives. Or until they change their brain. And what is interesting is that what they learn, is just perception of a situation. And that perception can be completely wrong. Just like sunrises and sunsets.
I learned as a child that the world is a very scary place. I learned to be on the look out for trouble. I learned to always try to be in control of my situation. I became a very intense adult, always on edge, always ready for a fight. Alcohol took the edge off. But alcohol had it’s own set of problems. For about 15 of the 17 years that I drank, I was able to control the issues that arose with alcohol. But in the end, drinking 1-2 quarts of booze a day was not a viable way to survive. And when I stopped drinking, I came face to face with a world, I viewed, as a very scary place. The perception of the world as a young boy was still the perception I had as a thinking adult, thanks to myelin sheath. I had a protective reaction, anger, rage. I could blow up in an instant. My myelin sheath was working wonderful. I would react to cues and triggers that I didn’t even notice and suddenly I am in the middle of a screaming match with a stranger that may or may not have a gun on him. Just as when I was a young lad. I also hid from the world by working too much, which, on the upside, allowed me to learn to become successful. As I grew more successful I carried with me great anxiety that I would loose everything that I had worked so hard to achieve. This was another nerve connection from my childhood, as I had learned that I was a looser, that I couldn’t grow up to be somebody, And here I was being somebody and I was confused. My perception of the world was colliding with the reality of my world and the result was anxiety.
I am happy to report to you success friends, we can change our brain. I knew I needed help and was fortunate to meet a caring and competent therapist. I also read anything and everything I could get my hands on as to how our brain works.* What I discovered was that the connections that are made as a child that color our perception of the world today, can be changed. But unlike the child that learns something in an instant, we adults need something called repetition, and we need time. My changes did not come over night. However, if I knew then what I know now about our brain, I would have had a quicker recovery. As an alcoholic, to begin our recovery, we are told to take a fearless inventory of ourselves. We begin to change our brain just like the alcoholic, by taking a fearless inventory of ourselves. We need to learn what memories we have mis-perceptions about. And we need to catch ourselves when we go to that type of behavior. We also have to consciously stop ourselves and replace unhealthy behavior with a healthier behavior. I had to learn to catch my anger and look at it for 3 or 5 seconds before I reacted. I have heard it said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I believe it takes 90 days. And I set a goal to notice and then slow my reaction when something triggered me. I did this for 13 weeks, and even though in the beginning I struggled mightily, by the end of the period, I had a different mindset. I wasn’t cured, but I was aware of me and my perceptions. I repeated the effort again for 13 weeks, and then again. I got a little bit better each time. Now, I do get angry at times, but now it is because of legitimate reasons. Or, at least that’s how I perceive it.
What perceptions, or should I say, mis-perceptions do you carry around? You cannot change them unless you know. Life is so fleeting, why give them power to stop you from experiencing the fullness of life.
We change our thinking by changing our thinking. Maxwell Maltz wrote about this subject almost 60 years ago in his book “Psycho Cybernetics”. Today we have proof that he was correct. He suggested we play a movie in our head. Describe in detail what we want our world to look like. Repeat this over and over until we change our belief, our perception of ourselves. I perceived myself as a man that couldn’t earn much money, I had to change that perception. I continue to work on changing my perception of myself.
Step one, have a “Grand Obsession”.
Step two, find small goals that go along with your obsession
Sep three, write down your “Grand Obsession” and your goals
Step four, Set deadlines for your goals
Step five, reward yourself on a regular basis, the reward can be small but it must tie into your goals and your “Grand Obsession”.
Step six, repeat the above process over and over and over again. Hopefully for the rest of your life. When you realize your “Grand Obsession” create a new and bigger “Grand Obsession” and all the goals that go hand in hand with a wonderful life. And use the app GPS SFS as it helps you accomplish all six steps. Goal SFS is my gift to you.
I don’t care where you are at in your life. You may be working a dead end job with no hope for a future. I believe you can create a future for yourself if you just start changing your perception of who you are, start dreaming of who you can become.
Get Inspired and Stay Inspired @ www.tommyfierst.com
* Two books I especially like are:
1. Habits of a Happy Brain by Loretta Graziano Breuning ,PHD
2. Supers Sense by Bruce M. Hood