How To Reprogram Yourself
I got a message on my social media- someone was asking about how to make a major change. They wanted to be more assertive. And I loved the way they worded that! Rather than saying, ‘I want to set boundaries’, they wanted to be an assertive person, who embodies someone that sets clear boundaries and so much more…
First, how does someone become non-assertive in the first place? Babies are born knowing how to assert their needs. So then how does someone lose that ability?
We’ve been programmed by parents and peers, growing up. Most of what we do, say, think, and believe is a reflection of our past programming. And a lot of it is old and outdated programming that no longer serves you and your goals.
In order to make changes, people try to use willpower. Willpower is a short-term solution. It doesn’t change your subconscious programming. Willpower is conscious effort. It can help you with a 2-day juice fast or saying “no” to your neighbor’s request to babysit their cat, but what about living a healthy lifestyle for years or being assertive and saying no to daily requests of your time and energy?
If you want to BE healthy or BECOME assertive, it takes reprogramming. It takes more than one salad to be a healthy person. It takes more than setting boundaries to be assertive. Being an assertive person isn’t uncomfortably setting boundaries and second-guessing themselves afterwards. This is a grueling way of going through life.
People tend to focus on changing their behavior, usually by willpower, rather than focusing on what type of person has that desired behavior.
You have to become the assertive person who naturally sets boundaries and exudes confidence, expresses how they feel, disagrees respectfully, and communicates clearly.
You can’t have people-pleaser energy while occasionally setting boundaries. This inconsistency that most people experience when trying to change is because you’re not experiencing your desired changes on all levels of your being:
By reprogramming yourself (I’ll talk about how soon), you change who you are on a deeper, more comprehensive level. Change is often difficult because our emotions want food to soothe but our mind says no, so in most changes you can see how the emotional or physical may not match up or the energy around a change still isn’t coinciding with the logic.
In psychological terms, this is called cognitive dissonance: The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.
There’s an obvious conflict when who you are doesn’t coincide with what you think and how you act. In the case of being more assertive, the past conditioning and programming that led to a lack of confidence or vocalizing your needs for instance, must be reprogrammed, and it must affect you on all 4 levels mentioned above.
What you may or may not realize, is once you become an assertive person, a lot of other things automatically change. You start to get more of your wants and needs met, which changes your outlook and mindset. It’s a domino effect rather than tackling one issue at a time or one behavior change at a time.
Who are you?
A mentor and friend told me that when she began her career as a Hypnotherapist, her life was a mess. How could she help others when her entire life could use an overhaul? She had debt, divorce, depression, and disorganization ruling her life.
That’s when she began to:
- listen to relevant audio books on her way to work
- pop in guided meditations and affirmations
- turn off the TV
- nightly visualizations of her ideal future
- surround herself with people on a personal growth path
… and otherwise immersed herself with all things relating to the positive changes she wanted to make. Needless to say, it worked!
She reprogrammed herself so that the changes she wanted to make were the biggest influence in her life. They affected her on all 4 levels of change. Nobody’s bad energy brought her down. No emotional trigger sidelined her. Her physical environment was set up for success.
When the reprogramming becomes an everyday part of your life, therefore a part of who you are, change becomes more comprehensive, integrated, and lasting.
Why do you need to reprogram yourself?
Many people did not grow up hearing positive words of affirmation and encouragement from their parents and caregivers. Maybe we were motivated by guilt, approval, shame, people-pleasing or anger. Criticisms were used to “encourage” us.
Because of this, our inner voice sounds critical, perfectionist, rejecting, guilty, or demanding. These are the voices from the past, and they become our present programming, and then our identity.
Often when a client of mine has repetitive negative thoughts, I ask them to name who that sounds like from their past. They get to see how much of themselves is showing up in their life and how much of the people from their past is dictating it. People repeat something so often, they tend to identify with it.
Freud called this process of past programming, Repetition Compulsion. This includes re-enacting past events and programming by putting oneself in situations where the event/programming is likely to happen again. This is “re-living” trauma or choosing relationships that mimic parental programming.
As adults, we’re often still operating on childhood programming. After 20 years or 40 years, wouldn’t you want to update your programming? That’s like 1.000 yrs. old in iPhone age 🙂 If you’re not reprogramming and updating yourself, you’re basically walking around with a flip phone.
Your thoughts, habits, and beliefs are all tied to your programming. If you couldn’t speak up in your family or one of your parents demonstrated a lack of boundaries, you become someone who is terrible at setting boundaries or speaking up. It’s a subconscious program.
This past programming gets integrated into your identity, which makes up who you are, so this is why it affects you on all 4 levels, emotionally, psychologically, energetically, and physically.
[Don’t miss my NEW article: Why Toxic People Don’t Change]
The first way to change on all 4 levels is immersion.
According to Drew Gerald, Author of Why You’re Still Stuck, there’s a hierarchy of personal change.
On the bottom of the hierarchy is your actions/behavior, and on the top is who you are/your identity. In the middle is thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. Most people try to change their actions and behavior, but this is short-lived.
By immersing yourself, you’re changing your identity. That’s top-level change according to the hierarchy. Top level change will affect the 4 levels, for lasting change.
It’s like learning French. Perhaps you’re learning it in a classroom for college credit or you’re going to live in France for a year to study abroad. The immersion factor is more powerful both for motivation and learning.
If immersion seems like a lot, simplify your life in other ways for a while. Too often we complicate things like grocery trips and schedules. Make your tasks and routines, simple.
Another way to affect all 4 levels of change is through practice, in visualization.
When I have a smoking client who wants to quit, I take them on hypnotic journeys where they can begin to identify with their non-smoking self. We walk through the life of a non-smoker, we walk through their life as a non-smoker. With enough of this type of practice, they become the non-smoker.
When you visualize, you are practicing and experiencing the change you want, on all levels.
I’ve noticed in families where there was abuse that some of the children grow up to be abusive and others don’t. Studies showed, the ones who don’t, had a vision of what a “good mommy” or “good daddy” is, and they became that. Their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors were reflected in that vision. They, in essence, created themselves with an alternate self-perception.
Visualization works best in a theta-wave, relaxing trance state such as hypnosis and deep meditation. You’ll get better with practice. Soon, your outer reality will match your inner!
Repetition is an easy way to make reprogramming a daily practice. Find a few simple things pertaining to your desired change and repeat them often.
Listen to affirmations or relevant guided audios, while you walk or drive or fall asleep. I enjoy Louise Hay’s 101 Power Thoughts, my NEW Power Thoughts and Positive Affirmations audio, and you can even record your own on your smartphone to play back. Nearly half of the input you receive each day should be dedicated to your desired change. Like those t-shirts say, Eat, sleep, breathe (your desired change). Repeat.
Reprogramming (Repetition, Immersion, and Visualization)
For at least a month:
- Listen, watch, read all that pertains to your desired change. [When I became vegan, I watched the documentaries, I read the books, etc]. Be intentional about your programming.
- Join groups that support your change.
- Incorporate a few simple/small changes that you can easily repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Get a guru or mentor; have someone in your corner like a coach or follow inspiring people on social media who are living the changes you want to embody.
- Minimize other “noise” and distractions.
- Create an atmosphere for change. Prioritize yourself- your environment should reflect the changes you want to make. Don’t take on extra projects or hang out with people who don’t support your changes.
- Use your imagination (for visualization). Create a vision of reality until it becomes reality. Try to incorporate details and emotions.
- Spend time in an altered state. Some of your new programming should be done when you are deeply relaxed, before bed or first thing in the morning. Also, in meditation or hypnosis. Listen to audio books pertaining to your change while driving, when we are in a relaxed state, or while taking a walk.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat: You cannot heal from what you continually repeat so repeat something else and relearn, in order to heal. “Repetition is learning.” or “you are what you repeatedly do.” Have you ever wondered why the chorus of a song sticks with you more than the rest of the lyrics? Because it’s repetitive. Studies show, repeated words are like music to our ears.
- Keep a journal for writing your ideal day, write about people who have made the changes you’ve made, track your changes.
The following meditation can be used as part of your reprogramming:
Guided Meditation: Power Thoughts and Positive Affirmations
Peace and Be Well,