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Virtual Reality Part 3: How to Reprogram Your Automatic Reactions

Do you want to put an end to miscommunication and conflicts with your colleagues, your partner and children? What would it be worth if you could easily notice other people's perspective and not be fixated on being disrespected or being ignored? Just smoothly navigate conversations, interactions, and empathetic win-win and co-creation sort of mindset.

Unpacking the NLP Model

Over the last couple of weeks, we used the NLP model of ‘delete’, ‘distort’, and ‘generalize’ to understand how our VR goggles are often transforming what is really occurring around us into sometimes a very different perception.

And that leads to us to not feeling heard or appreciated and all kinds of conflicts.

Today, I'll talk about how the deep mind is actually doing ‘delete distort generalize’, so you can start to reprogram your deep mind and put an end to those conflicts.

Last week I suggested journaling. Now, if you did that, I'm going to show you what to do with your work. And if you didn't yet, then today you're going to know exactly why it's so valuable. And what you're going to do with it when you start.

Beliefs and Values: A deep dive

Now, how does the deep mind choose what to delete, distort and generalize?

Beliefs and values.

Now, these are common words. So I want to define and explain how I specifically use them.

Beliefs are what we would assert to be true.

That could be ‘the sky is blue’, ‘The sun rises every day’. Or it could be limiting beliefs, like ‘I'm not smart enough to do math well’.

Values are what's important to us.

And they are built up often from many beliefs. The values are NOT what we like or don't like, they are what we find to be important. What we're willing to take action for.

As an example, I don't like brushing my teeth, but I believe that they need to be cleaned or they'll decay. And I believe that tooth decay when it's serious causes other health problems. So it's important that I keep my teeth healthy.

Values directly motivate our behavior.

We do what we do because of what we value. Not because of what we like or want, or even believe.

The deep mind holds our beliefs and values. Those beliefs and values are the ones that are operating every day, and we may be somewhat or totally unaware of the beliefs and values that are there.

What we think we believe rationally, and what we think we value may or may not be things that are actually driving our behavior, unless we are totally conscious.

And most of the time we are not operating in a totally conscious way. In fact most of our behavior is automatic–Our mind takes in data from our senses and acts without even involving the conscious mind.

How Automatic Behavior Protects Us

A great example. In 2008, a study led by the University of Leeds Business School professor Gerad Hodgkinson, was about automatic instincts in business leadership.

And he talked about a Formula One race car driver.

That race car driver happened to be about to round the corner at full speed when suddenly he slammed on the brakes and he didn't know why he did that.

Then, as he came around the corner, slowly now, he noticed there was an incredible wreck. Now if he had come at full speed, he wouldn’t have been able to stop and it probably would have cost him his life.

Now when he was put under hypnosis, the driver recalled noticing that the people in the stands were not looking at the track where he and other drivers were coming from, but they were all looking around the corner.

His unconscious mind saw that–didn't bother to engage his conscious mind–but simply immediately protected him by putting on the brakes.

He took an automatic action that was totally out of his awareness and it also probably saved his life.

How Automatic Behavior Harms Us (and our Kids)

So, what does this look like in everyday life?

Take a client of mine who was a father. He was getting angry with his son almost every night while they were trying to do homework together because he was convinced that his son who was struggling to do the work simply wasn't putting in the effort, wasn't paying attention, wasn't following instructions.

And he was frustrated and angry by that. And yet that father still knew somehow that maybe his reaction was a little bit exaggerated and unwarranted. When we mapped back into his deep mind, we discovered that he had a deep belief that he actually wasn't very smart. That came from experiences he had with his father when he was a kid.

However, the reaction he was having wasn't about his son and his son not doing the work–It was actually about an internal reinforcement of that belief and the reaction to the belief that he wasn't actually smart enough to teach his son, that his son's an ability to grasp and do the work was not his son's fault, but it was his fault.

Now, this is a great example of the VR goggles telling him on the surface ‘it's your son that's the problem. It's your son that's not doing the work’.

But the reality is that the emotion that was coming up, that reactivity, the behaviors of being angry and even shouting at his son at times, were all coming from another source: an internal belief that he was stupid.

And this is really, really important because so often when we're looking outside of ourselves and we have reasons for why things are the way they are so often. Those aren't the reasons at all. They're really much deeper reasons.

How to Change your Automatic Reactions

So notice that our perception can be one thing: “My son is not making an effort. Not listening to me.”, when in reality, the actual emotional reaction that's happening is coming from a totally different belief and value system deep inside us.

To be able to make change and stop those reactions and behaviors we have to be able to get at the actual root causes and begin to work with them. So, how do we start to become aware of what our VR goggles are doing and deprogram the deep mind?

Making change can happen in two ways.

​You can literally deprogram the deep mind, which means removing the limiting beliefs and removing the emotions that lead up to those values to create the reactivity. You can simply remove them so that they do not distort your responses at all. When this happens, the change is immediate and conscious awareness or effort is needed.

Now to do this requires advanced intervention by a skilled practitioner and is very difficult to do for yourself, but what you can do for yourself is you consciously and intentionally reprogram the deep mind in ​three easy steps.

3 Steps to Consciously Reprogram Your Automatic Reactions

Last week I suggested journaling. Now, if you did that, I'm going to show you what to do with the work.

And if you didn't start yet, then today you're going to know exactly why it's so valuable. And what you're going to do with it when you start.

How can we correct these skewed perceptions? The process involves three steps:

Observe: Take note of recurring patterns. In our real-world example, the father could have noted that he frequently felt like his interactions with his son were "a battle."

Interrupt: Develop a mental 'stop sign' that alerts you when you are falling back into a pattern.

Reprogram: Use your new awareness to choose how you want to react. Visualize yourself acting in a new, healthier way in those moments.

Step 1. Observe

Now when you observe you look at the patterns. You look for the underlying values and beliefs that are driving your perception of reality.

One way is to notice the language you use to describe the conflicts or miscommunications or patterns.

For example, a client frequently used the phrase “it's like going into a war zone” or “I'm going into a battle”.

That language showed an obvious unconscious belief system that the world is dangerous or that they were under attack. And when you have that deep belief system, you will experience your environment as hostile and you will hear, feel, and see attacking behaviors from others as your mind makes meaning of the actual sensory inputs, which might be facial expressions or tones of voice. But that facial expression, that tone of voice may not be hostile, but your mind will have you see them that way.

Another way to notice is the initial emotional response you have. If you have a pattern where you often feel like, for example, your kids don't respect you, notice in the moment when you have that feeling.

What is the first emotion that comes into your body? Is it hurt, fear, anger.

Start to notice what that first emotion is.

In most conflicts and misunderstanding some amount of anger or frustration are going to be the hallmark of the conflict. But notice what came before it, if anything.

Each of those emotions points to a different cause or concern that your mind is actually trying to protect you from.

Is it trying to protect you from being hurt for example, or does it feel like there's a threat?

In each of those cases, different emotional responses will happen first before you reached the frustration of a typical conflict.

Once you've done that you can then start to interrupt the pattern.

Step 2. Interrupt

Developing a Pattern Interrupt means that the more you think about the moments in which the pattern plays out and the more that you want to be consciously aware as that happens, the more likely your mind will give you that awareness when real situations are occurring.

When you have that awareness, you can do something about it in the moment.

Wherever you focus your attention on a pattern, your deep mind will learn that you want more awareness and will start to give it to you.

Once you're interrupting the patterns, now you have the ability to insert something new and different in terms of how you respond or how you perceive it

Step 3. Reprogram

To reprogram, decide how you want to behave or how you want to feel in these patterns and situations.

Do some basic visualization where you replay real scenarios, real examples of these patterns in life, but change the movie:

  • Notice yourself, perceiving the situation differently.

  • Notice feeling curious instead of self-protective or angry.

  • Notice yourself responding differently.

I recommend to all my clients to do this practice daily before going to sleep.

Replay your day and notice where one of these patterns may have occurred and you didn't intercept it as quickly, or as fully as you would have liked.

Replay the movie the way you would like to experience it.

Feel the feelings of being open and curious and not reacting. Notice yourself taking the conversation in a different direction.

Whatever that movie is for you, replay it three to five times.

And do that for whichever patterns may have occurred during the day that you'd like to repattern.

It only takes five max, 10 minutes a day. Do it right before you sleep, when your unconscious mind is very open to being programmed.

You'll notice significant changes in how quickly you detect the patterns as they're occurring in real-time, and also how much easier it is to insert behaviors of openness, curiosity, and collaboration, where before reactivity was closing down that option for you.

Now this practice is simple, but it needs to be disciplined to make change happen. If it means less conflict with our loved ones and colleagues, I think it's totally worth it.

But make sure you set an alarm and do the practice every night–It doesn't work if you only do it once in a while.

Now since you made it this far, why not also go the extra mile and forward this article to a hundred of your friends in relations? It might just mean the difference between receiving a recycled holiday fruitcake or receiving their undying love and admiration.

About Mercury Coach

We're on a mission to provide parents and children, the most powerful mind tools we know of so that parents and kids can live free of overwhelm, self judgment, anxiety, free from the programming and your deep mind that holds you back from fully expressing your gifts, having joyful connection with your friends and loved ones and teaching your kids to do the same.

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If you are ready to make changes and START loving your life, check out my upcoming program The JoyAlchemy Time Machine. It was a life changer for me and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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