If we did all the things we are capable of doing,
we would literally astound ourselves.
~Thomas Edison, 1847 - 1931
American inventor and businessman
Your brain is like a computer. And, like any other computer, there are occasional glitches that throw it into a loop of negative thinking. When it comes to your life and moving in the direction you really want to go, a brain loop equates to faulty programming and jeopardizes your success. When that happens, you’ll hear yourself make statements like, “I’ll never be good enough,” “I don’t have what they’re looking for,” “People will laugh at me.” That’s fear taking over.
By the same token, you can program your brain to help you get to where you want to go. To reclaim your confidence, you need to release the faulty programming and reprogram your thinking. As those negative thoughts start looping in your mind, you simply stop the program, hit delete, install an updated program to reflect what you want to think, and then hit restart.
Allen’s Story: Mind Over Matter
Allen Miller came from a long line of strong incredibly tough and resilient men. His great-grandfather from the age of 14 years old, was a shotgun rider on the stagecoach between Sacramento and San Francisco. Another relative a distant uncle was the first Baptist minister in what was then Oklahoma Indian Territory. Allen’s great uncle was the Will Rodgers, the famous Cowboy Comedian. His father was with the Los Angeles Police Department and walked a beat in skid row. Not only did Allen grow up at a time when fear was perceived as a masculine weakness and boys were never allowed to show it, but he was also being groomed to become a fearless police officer.
When Allen was eight years old, his grandfather taught him a valuable lesson about fear that he carries with him to this day: Fear is normal. Everyone feels fear so learn to use it as a tool.
“I remember the day my grandfather told me that,” Allen said in our interview. “It was so powerful that, even though I was only eight, it changed my entire dynamic of fear. I went from thinking I had to pretend like fear didn’t exist to using fear to help me get to where I wanted to go. Fear makes you a superhero, your stronger, your senses are heightened, and your focus is narrowed.
When Allen was nineteen, he was recruited into the Los Angeles Police Department. He also worked on the side as a Bodyguard for his dad’s security business. He started working for Dinah Shore, and It was when guarding jerry Garcia at a concert that he was stabbed and had his back broken. While that ended his stint with the LAPD and a bodyguard, it opened up new opportunities which Allen pursued fearlessly. He became a chiropractor and specialized in Sports and Industrial Medicine, and was selected as a Medical Director treating elite athletes competing on the International Track & Field Circuit in the US, Africa, and Europe and became the United States team doctor for the 1992 and again for the 1996 Olympic Games. During this time, Dr. Miller built his one California Chiropractic office into a national business of 40 offices that worked with Fortune 500 companies including Carnegie Mellon University, and the Department of Transportation.
Clearly a business success, a hunting accident in 2005 almost ended Allen’s life. Allen attributes his ability to stay calm in the face of fear and program his thinking to saving his life.
“I lived in Montana at the time and had a lot of cattle. The bears and wolves had begun attacking and killing my small herd, so one morning and friend and I mounted our horses and road out about twelve miles to hunt them down,” Allen began. “My horse slipped on the rocks, rolling over and crushing both of my feet. My friend helped me back on my horse, but it was a long, painful ride home.”
Allen explained that the temperature had dropped from seventy to thirty degrees, and he didn’t have warm clothing for the slow ride back. Freezing, Allen explained that he survived by finding a landmark in front of him and focusing on getting to that point. Once there, he would look ahead, find a new landmark, and do it all over again. For three-and-a-half hours, that was Allen’s drill until he made it safely home.
Re-telling the story, Allen said it was reverse thinking. In other words, he started with the end point in mind and deconstructed the path — one landmark at a time. His ability to visualize the goal was so powerful that he was able to get there one step at a time. His ability to focus on the goal and remain optimistic instead of moving into a state of fear is what saved Allen's life. Later, it saved him from losing his feet to amputation.
Today Allen still feels pain from his injuries, but he continues to adapt and, because he focuses on the goal he doesn’t get hung up along the way.
“Learning to successfully navigate & use fear, is an empowering tool that helps me navigate day-to-day life,” Allen said. “Instead of letting fear take over, I remember that fear is like my inner lawyer saying, ‘Wait a minute, that might not be a good idea,’ or like my mother saying, ‘No, you might get hurt if you do that.’ The flip side is I hear my ancestors saying “get out there, get going” conquering fear by doing it anyway!” Allen says “Most people succumb to fear, and this is where most people stop, this is where I start! I know I'm on the right track if I scared and paranoid.” “I just say yes and figure out the rest along the way”…This line of thinking is how NASA put the rover on Mars”.
How to Break the Fear Loop
Here are three powerful ways to reprogram your thinking and break a negative brain loop.
- Recognize and work through the glitch. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop yourself and acknowledge that your thinking does not serve you. Notice the limiting belief that holds you back. Acknowledge it. Then decide what you want to replace it with and rewrite your story. Visualize yourself living that story, achieving that goal. Visualization is one of the most powerful mind tools you have in your tool chest. When you visualize the outcome you desire — nailing the interview, an amazing first day at a new job — your brain experiences that moment just like it were real. Visualize it repeatedly and you’ve recorded repeated positive experiences in your mind.
- Speak gently and lovingly to yourself. The single most important thing you can do to support your habit-breaking success: watch how you speak to yourself. Don’t reprimand yourself when you fall into a negative brain loop. That inner dialogue can destroy you or carry you through to the finish line. Instead of giving in to negative thinking, have a respectful inner dialogue reminding yourself that you can choose how you think and feel. Then choose a better feeling thought!
- Celebrate the little victories. Whenever you shift yourself from negative to positive thoughts deserves celebration! It’s not easy to break bad habits. It takes a lot of focus and commitment, so don’t short change yourself. When you successfully push through resistance and put yourself bravely out into the world, acknowledge yourself! When you stop limiting yourself and set amazing goals that stretch you intellectually and mentally, that deserves a celebration. The more you celebrate, the happier you feel. The happier you feel, the more you want to have reasons to celebrate! See where I’m going with this?
- Be patient with yourself — life is a process! Once you know what you want accomplish, you’re usually in a big hurry to get to get there. Because there is a complex system of universal order, it takes time for all the cogs and wheels to get in the right position to deliver what you desire. Think of it as a period of gestation — a holding pattern until everything is in its rightful place! In the meantime, rejoice that you are in the process of creating positive change in your life.
- Positive affirmations are a great way to break negative loops. They help you look for the good in every circumstance. Think of an affirmation that inspires you and repeat it until you feel it. Affirmations work best when you use the present tense and speak them with as much meaning as you can muster. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- I believe success will come at the perfect time.
- I have the courage and faith in myself to achieve anything.
- I have many friends and mentors who want to help me achieve my goals.
- I listen to my inner wisdom and trust it’s words of encouragement.
- There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
- I choose my life. I choose my destiny. And it’s better than even I can imagine!
Hunting Down the Bears and Wolves
Chances are that you won’t have to make a long, painful journey in freezing weather on the back of a horse who just crushed your feet after chasing down the bears and wolves wrecking havoc in your life. So why not get real with yourself by answering a couple of questions.
What tremendous challenges are you faces right now that leaves you feeling like you will never reach the goal? What can you do to set milestones along the way to your goal?
Your future is yours, all you have to do is visualize it ahead of you, and set landmarks along the way. Slowly but surely, you will notice that your nagging fears have subsided and you’re one step closer to the life you always desired!
Keyword to remember
Reprogram: If your thoughts don’t support the goal you envision for yourself, you can choose to dump the negative brain loop, and reprogram your thoughts. Pick positive affirmations to feel better about where you are and where you are going.