The human body, mind and spirit have incredible, deeply rooted instincts for self-preservation. People go to extreme lengths to protect themselves, often doing things or avoiding things, creating outcomes that seem to run contrary to what they think they want. You might think that your procrastination, resistance, and lack of wanting to take actions to move you toward your goals are ruining your chances for success, and maybe even ruining your life. But what if they’re not? What if they are somehow serving you?

What if all of those seemingly self-sabotaging behaviors were actually self-preserving ones? What if they were trying to communicate a crucial message to you? What if it was essential to your survival?

As an easy example, let’s consider the practice of dieting. Millions of people, myself included, have struggled to maintain a healthy and attractive weight. One of the most popular and commonly held beliefs about weight loss has to do with restricting calories, and many people lose weight by limiting their daily calories to a certain amount. Have you tried this or watched it happen with someone you care about? You cut back on calories, and your body will fight you tooth and nail because it thinks you are starving yourself. You experience hunger pangs, mood swings, lethargy, munchies, headaches, dizziness, loss of lean muscle tissue, and a whole host of other ailments – basically your body screaming at you to stop because it thinks you are doing something detrimental to your health. Nonetheless, based on the information you have, your conscious mind thinks that you are doing something good for your health by losing weight, and this is the only way you know to do it, so the battle rages on.

I see the same thing happen to my students with their studies, and especially when they are preparing for exams. They use study methods left over from childhood that are time-consuming and ineffective. They have trouble staying motivated, because they recognize that what they are doing isn’t producing the results they want. They procrastinate, again because their other-than-conscious minds recognize that their current study techniques are futile and an enormous waste of their precious time.

When studying is ineffective, it creates a cascade of disempowering emotions, including self-doubt and the questioning of their own intellectual abilities. Realizing they haven’t yet mastered the content for the exam, they force themselves to pull ‘all-nighters’ trying to cram a myriad of details into their minds at the last minute. They foolishly attempt the exam while sleep-deprived and anxious, a terrible state for performance and memory retrieval; and then they berate themselves during and after the exam for not having more ‘will power’ and ‘self-discipline’ to succeed. For students who don’t have more effective techniques and technologies, this ‘banging your head against the wall’ technique of trying to force oneself to achieve is the all they know, and so the battle between their conscious goals and other-than-conscious feedback about their methods rages on.

If you can step back and be open to the feedback you are getting from your other-than-conscious mind, you can then be honest with yourself when what you are doing isn’t working, and begin to find techniques that do. You can release the disempowering emotional states. The greatest artist in the world is going to struggle if s/he doesn’t have the right tools, and learning is the same way. When you have the tools and technologies that are essential for your success, nothing can stand in your way.

So when is procrastination, resistance, and lack of wanting to take actions to move you toward your goals an empowering message rather than habits that are ruining your life? How can you discern the difference between when you are getting in your own way because you don’t want to extend beyond your current comfort zone of achievement, and when your other-than-conscious mind is attempting to communicate some essential information about how to better attain your success?

A very effective way is to simply ask your inner mind the following questions, and keep an open mind and open heart for the answers:

1. What is it I hope to achieve by doing such and such?
2. Is there a better way to do this? If so, how?
3. What is my inner mind trying to tell me?
4. What is the best way for me to achieve my goal?

For this to work you need to be completely accepting of and grateful for the answers, whatever they are. You also want to be sure to tune into any sights, sounds, tastes, smells, flashes of ideas, and physical sensations that you experience. Often these are the first forms of communication that you may get from your inner mind.

The next time you catch yourself doing something that at first blush appears to be self-sabotaging, consider the possibility that your other-than-conscious mind is trying to communicate an essential message to you and is somehow serving you. Open up a dialog with your inner mind and listen carefully. It just might provide you with the information you’ve been praying for.

Here’s to your success!

Copyright 2007 by Teresa Bolen. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Teresa Bolen, ‘The Horse Whisperer for Students,’ teaches at Todaiji Academy, one of the top 3 schools in Japan. Together with John Gray, Richard Carlson, Jack Canfield and other internationally recognized success experts Teresa has also co-authored ‘101 Ways to Improve Your Life, Vol 2.’ You can invite your inner genius abilities into your life right now when you get her book, ‘Master Plan to Master Exams: How to Discover Your Hidden Abilities to Create the Success You Desire,’ plus you’ll receive over 16 greatly empowering bonus gifts by world experts in personal growth, performance and learning – Yours F-R-E-E for acting in your best interest right now!

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