You don’t need to play metal records backward to be sent subliminal messages. Your brain is wired to receive an incredible amount of information all day long and this world is built to send you subliminal messages. These messages influence your decisions far more than you likely realize. This week I’m going to share with you how to send subliminal messages to yourself that will support you in reaching your goals and achieving your vision
Your Brain's Operating Systems
Your brain has two distinct operating systems, conscious and subconscious. Your conscious mind is capable of processing an impressive 40 bits of information per second. Yet that pales in comparison to your subconscious mind which processes 20 million bits of information per second! In the time it’s taken you to read this far, your subconscious brain has processed through an incredible 400 million pieces of information! If that feels overwhelming, sit back, relax, and let me show you how we can make this all work in your favor.
First, know that not all of the subliminal messages being sent your way are manipulative. Part of those 20 million bits are ensuring your comfort and safety. Things like body temperature, heart rate, and breathing are all part of what takes place subconsciously. These aren’t something the conscious mind tends to, unless the subconscious flags it or is unable to regulate it.
That still leaves plenty of processing space for our brains to take in information it then uses to make decisions, and more often than not (95% of the time actually) we aren’t even aware of these influences. This can be anything from colors and words that you see, to the temperature of the coffee you’re drinking. This is a psychological phenomenon known as priming. And you can control how you’re priming your subconscious, at least in your own space. I’d love to invite you to snuggle up on the couch, grab a cup of hot tea, and explore how to send subliminal messages along with me…
Let’s start with an easy one. Fill in the blanks to complete the word S _ _ P.
Your brain fills in the blanks using associations and thanks to the recency bias it does so with the information that is most recent and therefore most easily accessed. The two most common words generated above are soup and soap. If you created the word soup, you’re in the majority. By priming you with words like snuggle, hot, and tea, and adding the image of a woman drinking a hot beverage, your brain was more likely to access associations and generate the word soup. If you created the word soap, is there something in your immediate environment or within your current stream of consciousness that elicited that response? I’d be super curious and would love to hear about it!
Warm Hands, Warm Heart
But offering you a hot cuppa wasn’t just to elicit a specific response. It can also be used to generate a specific state of mind without you ever realizing it. In a recent Yale study conducted by John A Bargh, participants were asked to read a story and offer feedback on the characters in the story. On the way to the reading room, a lab assistant, arms full with papers, a textbook, a clipboard, and a cup of either hot or iced coffee, intentionally bumped into them. The assistant asked them to briefly hold the cup while they sorted through the papers. The subjects then handed the coffee back to the lab assistant and continued on with the task of reading and evaluating story characters.
That brief encounter with either a hot or iced coffee had a remarkable impact on how the subjects viewed the characters. Those asked to hold an iced coffee rated the characters as “much colder, less social, and more selfish” than their peers who momentarily held a hot coffee.
Additional studies support these findings. People are more likely to feel generous and offer things to others if they’ve just held something warm, and more likely to take something for themselves if they’ve just held something cold. “Physical warmth can make us see others as warmer people, but also cause us to be warmer – more generous and trusting – as well.” Bargh said.
Staging Isn't Just for Realtors
The metaphor of having warm feelings towards someone isn’t the only one to show up more literally in our behaviors. Washing your hands clean of a situation is another. After being asked to recall previous specific behaviors, those asked to recall a transgression with a friend were twice as likely to accept the offer of an antiseptic wipe at the end of the interview. This group was also less likely to continue to volunteer their time for the study once they’d “washed their hands clean” of it.
There are a wide array of these priming studies and we can learn a lot from them on how to send subliminal messages that will best support us, our families, teams, and communities. Additional studies show people are three times more likely to clean up after themselves if there’s the scent of cleaning fluid in the air, and more likely to order seafood at a restaurant if the air smells of lemon. Students are more likely to be cooperative around a table with a backpack placed innocuously in the room, and behave more aggressively and competitively when a briefcase is present. All of these behaviors are elicited without drawing any conscious attention to these sights and sounds.
How to Send Subliminal Messages to Yourself
It can be fascinating, and perhaps a bit frightening, to see just how many things not within our locus of control can influence our decisions and behaviors. As always though, knowledge is power and you know I’m all about owning that power! I’ve offered some simple steps on how to send subliminal messages to yourself to help motivate and encourage you as you work towards goals and create your vision:
- Customize Alarms How you start your day heavily influences the direction you’ll continue on. Make sure the first message you see is positive and directly reflects the person you want to become. Schedule a few more phone alarms in your day with these positive, affirming messages. There are some great apps to help with this!
- Create a Morning Ritual This can be simple and quick and when done consistently it will be powerful and impactful. If you don’t have a morning ritual yet, start with something that takes 3 minutes or less to complete. The power is in the repetition not elaboration, so keep it simple enough to be easily repeated day after day. Better yet, this 30 second ritual can be repeated many times throughout the day and it's in that repetition that momentum is built.
- Diffuse Scents If you aren’t already doing this, start simple. Choose one part of your day that you want to influence. Do you need more focus during work, help calming down before bed, an energizing boost to pump you up for a workout? Start small and build from there.
- Toss Out Negative Messages Are you wanting to create more meaningful relationships but practically living in your super comfy tee that says “I hate pants and people”? I feel you. I really do. But so does your subconscious. What else in your wardrobe, on your walls, and in your playlist are sending messages that are in opposition of your vision and the person you want to become? Get them out of sight and they’ll be out of mind.
- Decorate and Design with Intention Once you’ve cleared your space of any negative or non-supportive messages, intentionally add in images, quotes, and meaningful objects that represent your vision and the person you are becoming. Neutral design does not exist. Everything in your environment affects you, do what you can to make that work in your favor
- Create an Evening Ritual We all have days where things go sideways. Whether your day was on point or completely out of alignment, there's always room to make it even better. Download and print this bookmark to make an evening practice easy to repeat by pairing it with your bedtime reading.
- Find Your Power People Surround yourself with people who believe in themselves, in you, and in the collective power we have to create a better world. This is one of the most important steps you can take. The adage of “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with" is backed by science and makes this journey into the best version of yourself a heck of a lot more fun!
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