That will help you master your mind, and live a life you’ve dreamt about and not experienced yet.
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I fell in love with his writing because it helped me to think. When I reached out to him for the first time, I expected him to be an a**hole.
My biases, as usual, were totally wrong.
Early in my writing career, I read the work of Benjamin Hardy, which impressed me because it was fact-based (unlike a lot of self-help at the time). I sent him an email asking for his help and to my surprise he responded.
Before we even spoke, he did me a huge favor: he got me into a publication that I could have only dreamt of. That small gesture shaped my entire writing career and changed my life. Since then I’ve read all of his work.
These are the psychological superpowers Ben introduced me to that can help you completely rethink your life and what is possible.
“Every time you retrieve a memory, you change the memory. The more times you retrieve a memory, the more it will change.”
Perhaps the biggest psychological superpower you’ll ever hear is this one.
It’s funny, isn’t it? Tell your truth long enough, and, inevitably, you’ll become a liar. Invented stories, however, were never real to begin with — and that’s why they’re so authentic.
In my own life, as my mind changes, so does the way I reference my past memories. I used to talk about my mind in a negative context. Now I tell the same story about mental illness in an entirely different way.
Here’s what that memory looks like now: Mental illness is the greatest thing ever to happen to me and I’m grateful for it.
You always recall the past slightly differently than before. That story over the course of a few days doesn’t change much. But when that same story is retold over and over and compared with the original story years later, it’s never the same again. This idea is a superpower when you realize it for yourself.
Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval — Dr. Donna Bridge
You can be ordinary and choose to become extraordinary
Ben’s whole philosophy is that your future is determined by your thinking, not by your personality. To be extraordinary is to choose it for your life and to come up with a list of actions that get you there.
Your psychology forms around your goals and what you believe is possible — to either support you, or defeat you.
You don’t discover your true self — you create it
You’ve probably heard someone say “I haven’t found myself.”
The truth is you don’t find yourself at all. You don’t suddenly bump into the person you want to be at the supermarket and magically change into Magic Johnson. This is the lie of wishy-washy self-help.
You have the opportunity right now to create who you want to be.
How does that person act?
What addictions is that person going to fight?
How does that person walk?
How does that person think?
How does that person talk?
What will that person believe?
What will that person rebel against?
These questions help you to create the person you want to be. Get committed to answering these questions and you’ll be committed to change. You can’t change your life with a fixed mindset.
Open-mindedness is sexy and it starts with questions.
Your personality is dynamic, flexible, and contextual
This was a massive insight for me. You are a different person depending on the circumstances. Straight after the death of a loved one you’re probably going to be introverted and want to have time to yourself.
At a party full of your friends you’re probably going to be extroverted and want to talk to them all. During the start of a new career opportunity you’re probably going to be more flexible to what sort of work you’re willing to do than if you’ve been in the same career for ten years without any change.
The environment you’re in will change how you act. You get to choose how you act based on who you want to become.
Everything in your life is flexible.
Everything in your life was created by you.
Everything is dynamic.
Last year you could have been winning. This year you could have lost your business because of a recession caused by a global health crisis. Force yourself to be adaptable no matter the circumstances.
Accept what has happened and find a way to use it to your advantage.
You can’t control what happens, but you can control the narrative
Random stuff happens to us all the time. Last year I lost my job and it knocked me to the ground. My ego was destroyed and I had to face the wolves of social media and admit career defeat.
I decided to control the narrative, though. I went on LinkedIn and announced to the world that I had been fired. Mentors and friends told me it was career suicide — that’s because they didn’t understand this psychological superpower. See, I didn’t make getting fired a sad story. I turned it into an opportunity to demonstrate how kind humanity can be.
I used the enormous rejection of the job interview process to build mental toughness and not take no for an answer. By the end of the process I had had so much hurled at me that there was nothing anyone could do or say that was going to hold me back any longer.
I wanted to work in technology four days a week and write for two days a week. People told me that no employer would ever agree to that deal. They were wrong. I got exactly that and so much more.
You control the narrative of your defeats. Use them in your favor and perhaps help others in the process.
Make decisions knowing your future self will be different
Trying to make decisions for the future is tough. Why? Because the person you are in five years’ time is going to be different. If you say you’ll never live in America and then your employer decides to double your salary and offer you a job in California, you might change your mind.
Make decisions with an open mind.
Always leave the door open to every opportunity. You never know when you might need that opportunity or see yourself differently to take it.
Lose the victim mindset
Many people spend their entire lives being a victim.
They take what happened in the past and justify it as factually correct for the future too. Victims experience failure or are treated unfairly and then spend their whole lives reinforcing that ideal.
Rather than reinforce the past, change it.
Take what has happened in the past and change it for the future.
Choose people based on who you see them becoming
This one blew my mind from Ben. The person you might marry is going to change. The idea is not to choose people who are perfect in the present but to choose people based on who you think they can become and grow into.
Choose someone who is open-minded.
Choose someone who you can grow with.
Understand your behavior to become a conscious human being
Ben teaches us to understand why we engage in certain behaviors.
For example, for years I engaged in reckless drinking and did many stupid things I’m not proud of. Then once I understood that it was partly caused by mental illness and my need to be significant, everything changed.
Until you understand what is driving the behavior, you can’t become conscious and change it.
Your job and income level are based on your confidence
Confidence reflects your personal beliefs in what you can do, learn, and accomplish.
Psychologist, Nick Wignall, said it best when he said this: “Confidence isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the belief that you’ll be okay despite your fear.”
The economic situation has changed drastically and everything you have achieved in your career could change overnight. You could be fired tomorrow or lose your key customers that generate the bulk of revenue for your business.
The psychological superpower that sets you free in your career is to have the confidence to know that you’ll be fine no matter what happens. An even bigger idea to consider is that you’ll thrive if the worst happens rather than self-destruct.
If you can use your psychology to help you promote a healthy level of confidence (not ego), then you can outgrow your job, income and level of leadership you can provide.
Your brain is designed to protect you from uncertainty
Your brain wants you to be comfortable and in familiar surroundings. But we’re all smart enough to know that growth comes from discomfort.
Your bicep muscle doesn’t grow when it’s comfortable. It has to be pushed beyond failure and to experience pain continuously, for sustained periods of time before even the tiniest bit of growth can be noticed by a stranger.
Your brain is the same. Your brain won’t grow and help you become the person you dream of becoming unless it is pushed. You can defeat the limiting effects of uncertainty with this one question:
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
No matter how uncertain you are and what happens, you’ll be fine.
You need an empathic witness to avoid trauma
All that pain you are holding inside of you is going to turn into trauma if you don’t share it with someone.
An empathic witness is a friend, leader, or mentor who can listen to the emotion you’re bottling up inside of you and help you see it for what it is.
Your mind lies to you more than you think. An empathetic witness can help you shatter those lies and tell you the truth.
Without an outside perspective, your mind can distort the truth.
You can think your way back to youth
In Ben’s study of personality he shares an experiment Harvard psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer did with a group of men.
A group of eight elderly men over the course of five days were asked to live and talk as if they were back in their youth again.
Their surroundings were changed to mimic that era and they couldn’t talk about anything beyond 1959. Surprisingly, these men started to physically change, and feel and act younger again. It proved that our environment could change our thinking more than we think.
You’re only as old as you allow yourself to feel.
You can create a trigger for your thinking
I have a copy of the workbook I got from attending a Tony Robbins event in 2013, displayed right where I can see it. I trip over this workbook daily.
The whole point of displaying this book is to remind me who I used to be and how quickly one can transform their life.
A simple way to hack your psychology is to create triggers.
Another phrase for these triggers in psychological terms is pattern interrupts. You can shake your mind out of negative thinking or even destructive thinking by placing triggers in your environment that help change your thinking.
A picture of your family on your phone’s home screen helps remind you why you go to work. A book that sits on your bookshelf faced outwards helps remind you of a transformative moment. A baggy shirt that hangs on your wall helps remind you of the previous body you inhibited that you never want to go back to. A sports trophy reminds you of the power of teamwork.
A pinned quote on your Twitter account helps remind you not to give up when you feel like throwing it all away.
Hack your psychology by leaving positive thinking triggers in your environment that remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” — Albert Einstein
Psychology can help you question your thoughts. When you learn to question everything, you question yourself and your reality. This allows you to grow and become adaptable enough to achieve your audacious goals.
Change is possible when you understand what drives your thinking.