How Are You Programming Yourself Every Day?

By Ellesse

Kids are one of the world’s most insightful teachers. Don’t you agree?

One Friday evening, as I was preparing to meet some friends for dinner, my toddler niece was contentedly sitting on the couch playing with her toys. I was running a bit late and wanted to inform my friends. Just as I was frantically rummaging through my bag for my mobile phone, my niece slided off from her seat and ran towards me.

“Candy! Candy!” she blurted, looking like a little puppy hungry for a T bone. She kept pointing her little index finger at my bag, as if telling me that there was a hidden trove of candy in it.

I was bewildered. Why would my rummaging of the bag incite such excitement from a 2 year old? And why did she assume that there was candy in my bag? Even though there was absolutely none in it? Just when I was thinking about this, a bolt of realization struck me!

There were 2 isolated occasions when I had offered her candy taken out from my tote bag. My repeated actions must had created an anchor in her pure and innocent mind! So much so that when she saw me rummaging through my bag, she started assuming that I was about to give her a candy treat!

Intriguing, isn’t it?

One small action can actually has a controlling impact over another individual. What makes it even more fascinating is, it was never my intention to influence her. And if my seemingly unintentional actions could have conditioned my niece in such a way, what are the little things you’re doing every day that are unconsciously forming your beliefs and perceptions? Could these play a part in expanding or limiting your success consciousness? And what can you do about it if that’s not what you want?

Ways You Get Conditioned … Unconsciously

Whether you like it or not, it’s a fact you’re constantly being programmed. Look at the many advertisements around you. What comes to your mind when you think of a particular brand of beer? Macho? Manly? Makes a guy popular with women? It’s definitely no coincidence why beer ads in the past used hunky men and sexy women as models.

Every time you watch such commercials, their slogans and images gets drilled into your subconscious mind. It’s only a matter of time before you start thinking that, that particular brand of beer will help you become more masculine and attractive.

Day in day out, the words you say, the resources you read or watch, the habits you cultivate and even the people you stick around with are sculpting you into the person you become or forming the thoughts you embrace. Unfortunately, 95% of these are actually focusing on something you detest : lack and limitation. Here’s why :

(1) Catch Phrases & Vocabulary You Use

I still remember reading a very interesting story in Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich. A bank official, Joseph Grant misappropriated and gambled funds from the bank that he worked at. Trying to avoid the bank auditors, he hid in a local hotel and was so fearful that he kept repeating these words over and over again as he wailed and moaned “My God, this will kill me! I cannot stand the disgrace.” When the police found him, he was dead. Although Joseph Grant’s story sounds unbelievable, it’s a true story. And it bears testimony to this fact : what you say endears on the mind. Sometimes, the impression can be so deep that it kills. Literally.

Take a moment to reflect the daily conversations with your friends and family now. What do you hear? Are you constantly using negative catch phrases such as “I can’t… “, “I’m afraid…” “It’s too difficult…”, “I shouldn’t have”? What about negative vocabulary such as “problem”, “doom”, “worse”, “mistakes” etc? As you recall, not only will you realize that such words have assimilated into your daily life, they’re more often than not, limiting and at times self derogatory.

For example, one of my sisters likes to attach the catch phrase “What can I do?” at the end of her sentences. Especially when she’s complaining. Even though she doesn’t mean anything when she says that, it’s unknowingly downplaying her perception of her problem solving capability. That’s why she often find herself helpless when met with certain challenges. And when I share with her my findings, do you know what she said?

“Gee, this is the way I talk… What can I do?”

(2) Information You Take In

Just like TV advertisements, the type of books, websites, drama serials, movies and other resources you digest mould your perception. If you take a moment to challenge some of your old limiting beliefs or behaviour, it’s not difficult to see the relationship between the two.

When I was younger, I used to believe that rich people are mean and evil. After all, if the rich aren’t mean and evil, why would Shylock the wealthy moneylender, want a pound of Antonio’s flesh in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of the Venice? And why would Robin Hood want to rob them to help the poor? My exposure to those literature gave me the perception that one has to resort to underhanded means to be wealthy.

Because I don’t want to branded “mean” and “evil”, I was narrowing my own prosperity consciousness. That kind of sabotaged my bid to enjoy a higher pay package when I was in my earlier job applications. I was constantly thinking of ways why employers wouldn’t give me the pay I desired. Subconsciously I felt I had to undercut to get the position I wanted! A couple of my personal projects – to seek financial independence – also didn’t take off during that time.

At first, I found it pretty hard to link the two together. But as I learned to expand my self consciousness, I noticed that things improved. Much to my own amazement.

(3) Habits You Cultivate

Never undermine the habits you cultivate over the years because there’s probably a deep seated meaning behind them. For example, if you’ve been doing the most urgent things on your To-Do list everyday you reach the office, you’re sending the message that it’s alright to bypass stuff that seems less urgent but actually have far reaching impacts.

Chances are, when you’ve to make a choice between going after your dreams versus staying in your current job, you’ll likely go for the latter. Because having food on the table seems more urgent, isn’t it?

Most people don’t realize the impact of their habits on their behaviour and recklessly indulge in those that limits their growth. Myself included. I remember hosting a business associate from Sri Lanka many years ago. He noted, “You know something? When I was in the subway carriage, I noticed that almost everyone was holding a mobile phone and busy texting away. In my country, we will smile and chat with the person next to us.” Guess what? I was blushing when I heard that. Because while waiting for him, I was texting another friend on my mobile!

Has the advance of technology and our casual habits made us oblivious to the importance of personal touch and networking?

(4) People You Associate With

Do you know that the average income of the 5 closest people around you has a direct impact on yours as well? I know this may appear unsettling but it’s not difficult to understand why. If those people around you are earning a respectable income, it gives a lot more credibility that you can do the same. If not better.

A friend of mine used to be in the same situation. She was earning a paltry salary as a merchandiser in a renowned departmental store. When she got to know her boyfriend and his high flying buddies, she started to become more conscious of the fact she was very much underpaid. After considering her options and prospects, she is now a lecturer in a local college and earns a much more respectable salary. If I’m not wrong, it’s definitely comparable to her boyfriend and friends.

Not only is this true about wealth generation, it’s also applicable to other aspects of your life. Such as health & fitness. Before I got to know the bunch of sports enthusiasts I’m currently hanging out with, learning to play squash or going on mountain trekking expeditions was something I would never considered. Since then, not only have I picked up the game and went to a few trekking trips, I’ve even took part in a 5km marathon!

How To Control Your Programming

There’s no way we can totally reject programming into our lives. But the good news is, you can control what you’re exposed to and reject negative stuff that you’re constantly feed with.

Here’s are the different ways.

** Photo by Proverbs 31:10


9 Responses to “How Are You Programming Yourself Every Day?”

  1. @Stephen | Productivity in Context at 10:28 pm

    Ellesse, interesting take on Robin Hood. I guess that I have one of those strange minds – but it occurred to me as a child that Robin Hood “stole from the rich” because the poor didn’t have anything worth stealing.

    This is a great post, as it puts some meat into the various sayings that you see on motivational posters like:

    “It’s hard to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys”

    I have also been working hard on my own vocabulary, eliminating the words “hope” and “try” and “can’t”. There are much better words that you can use to more clearly define your situation.

  2. Ellesse at 2:09 am

    Stephen, you’re not weird! The world strives on different perspectives and opinions, isn’t it? Often, it seems easier said than done, to change some of our obstinate habits and vocabulary. But I definitely belong to the camp that believes this :

    “As long as you try, nothing is impossible”.

  3. @Stephen | Productivity in Context at 3:08 am

    Yoda says,”There is no try. Only do, or do not.”
    To which Luke replies, “I don’t believe it!”
    Yoda: “And that is why you fail.”

    I would rephrase that quote as,”As long as you are willing to take a risk, nothing is impossible.”

  4. Alex Blackwell at 11:03 am

    Wow, Ellesse, you are right. Your article has made me consider my words and habits. For me, this is both good and bad news.

    The good: Continue to associate with quality peple who can help me grow and add value to my life.

    The bad: I can be influenced in a negative way that may be so subtle I don’t even realize it.

    Thanks for this article!

  5. kirsten at 11:12 am

    Good stuff, Ellesse, especially the part about habits. They have a way of operating automatically, just as you illustrated with your example.

  6. Ellesse at 10:15 am

    @Alex, over the course of this year I truly relish the importance of associating with the right people. I was surprised when some friends whom you thought would be supportive were acting like Skeptical Joes. It’s a good thing to be aware of the lack and limitation programming, but it’s also important not to be too obsessed about to the extent of missing out on life itself!

    For example, I’ve heard so much about people not reading or watching news! Personally, I don’t watch news personally because I seldom have time to sit through a session of news but I don’t think totally eradicating it, is a good idea. Selective retention, in my opinion is the key!

    @Kirsten, thanks for your nice comments! I’m often guilty of such habits too myself. haha!

  7. Ellesse at 7:37 am

    @Stephen, haha. I retrieved your gem from my spam box only to realize you correct my little quote. I agree with you on the change. Trying does give people the impression that it’s a half hearted effort. Though I’m sure you know I don’t mean that :)

  8. Jonathan Mead at 10:06 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this Ellesse, you have a very concise and fluid writing style. I added you as a friend on stumble via Behind the Screens stumbling experiment. I hope to see you around!

  9. Ellesse at 1:40 am

    Hey Jon! Thanks for the kinds words! I really appreciate it! You mean we’ve already “met” on Slade’s blog. Pardon me. But I’ll definitely add you on as a friend too.

    See you around. And by the way, your blog’s awesome! Great writing!


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