The battle of the Rah-rah! (part 1)

Affirmations. Incantations. Positive self-talk. Written life goals. Dreambooks. NLP. Motivational audio. Subliminal programming… Rah-rah!

It is rare to go to any type of motivational, self-help, personal development event, book or website and not be presented with some of these right up front. Many authors and speakers have built empires creating products that help people implement these.

Why? Can’t we be positive without it?
1000 years ago we did not have those and people were “successful”, right?


1000 years ago we did not receive a youtube video of someone getting run over on our iphones. 1000 years ago we gathered daily with our tribes and communities, lessons and values were imparted through song and story. It was selective, filtered by our community in order to keep it strong. The toxic stuff that threatened the integrity of a community was generally filtered out and moderated by the tribal leaders much like a blogger today may monitor and filter post comments.

Fast forward to 2013. Information is an avalanche, and there are few places (if any) that we can escape it. Most of what we get now is filtered by our own interest (eg follow me on twitter etc!) and by those who sponsor our interests. News sites now carry the same dozen stories. It is as if besides those, not much else happened today. It is massively distorted, and extremely dis-empowering because it aims to rearrange your priorities (more abut that next week).

Wait! – is that not a very big generalisation?.

Here is where information meets our biology: Repetition and immersion have an inescapeable power over us.

For better AND for worse. And that is both the good and the bad news!. 

It works like this: Our brains have a central control system known as the Reticular Activating System. In really simple terms it wakes us up and puts us to sleep. It also controls our motivation: attraction (helping us find food when we are hungry, or a suitable mate for procreation, etc.), and avoidance (escape that hungry T-rex). It determines our circumstance by the information it receives from us. Since now most of the programming is happening to us via the information avalanche, we quietly get thrown way of track (and mostly we don’t even notice, it is subtle).

That makes the daily affirmations, incantations, dreambooks and the rest of the “positive living” Rah-rah so important: the advertisers know the reason why you suddenly notice more red cars when you want a red car. And they are working overtime on your head to make it automatic for you to buy their red car.

You must use the same strategy to advertise your own dreams and aspirations to yourself. And your advertisement must win the sale!.

Simple biology. That is why it is so important that you hear your Rah-rah! instead of someone else’s.

[Want to know more about the Reticular Activating System (RAS)?  I recommend that you read some of the many scientific papers and abstracts available on line in preference over the many personal and esoteric blog posts].

** If you have enjoyed reading this you may also like some of my other posts, and register to join the conversation. Someone you know will be grateful to you for sharing this with them on your favourite social network. **


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One Comment

  1. Pingback: The awesome things that mindfulness does to your brain! | Winfried Sitte

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