In my previous post, I mentioned Napoleon Hill and Maxwell Maltz. These two, along with others, talk a lot about the Subconscious mind, and the power it holds.
In recent years, researchers have discovered where this amazing, yet elusive thing resides. It’s called the Reticular Activating System.
Reticular Activating System
Sounds important, yes? Well, in is. While the name simply means that it’s a web-like structure of neurons that activate something, what makes it important is what it does for you.
The RAS is a web-like structure of neuro-pathways located where your spinal cord meets your brain. It’s responsibilities are to control your level of awakeness, and to filter input from all of your senses, except smell. (Smell goes directly to the emotional center, which we wont talk about today.)
Imagine that you’re in a crowded waiting room. In a corner is a muted television. There is also an aquarium. It’s a warm spring day, so a window is open and a ceiling fan is turning slowly overhead. Behind the sign-in desk, someone is doing paperwork.
As you sit, scanning your phone or reading a magazine, you dont really notice what’s happening on the TV, or the sounds of bubble pumps in the aquarium. The outdoors sounds from the window dont bother you. Neither do the moving shadows from the fan. Shuffling of papers behind the desk are simply part of the background.
Then, in a whispered conversation around a corner, you hear something that sounds like your name. You hadnt noticed the people talking before, but now you’re listening. Are they talking about you, or was it some other word?
That’s your RAS at work. What if it hadnt filtered out all those irrelevant noises? How overwhelming would it be?
In a nutshell, the Reticular Activating System removes unimportant stuff, while notifying you when something important, like your name, comes up. The basic function of this bunch of neurons is to keep your reality as normal as possible, so you dont go crazy.
In the moment, it filters out things that might distract you from your immediate purpose, but in your life, it plays a much bigger role
From the day you were born, it’s been programmed with your deepest beliefs about life, the world, and yourself. If you believe life is hard, it will filter out things that say otherwise. If you believe the world is brutal, it does the same thing. So, if you believe your not good enough, too stupid, ugly, it will work to reinforce those beliefs.
Let me reemphasize that:
Your Reticular Activating System works to support your deepest beliefs about the world, life, and who you are.
That’s why some people seem “lucky”, while others cant seem to catch a break. If you believe that the world is full of opportunities, the RAS is going to open up and send you all kinds of information about opportunities that surround you.
Contrariwise, if you believe that life is a struggle, filled with almost insurmountable obstacles, those are precisely the messages that the RAS is going to reinforce.
See, the RAS just wants things to be normal. What ever that means to you is what it will support. Your core beliefs are what it will protect.
Now comes the interesting part: You can train it.
How does it know what to filter out?
To train it, you have convince it that things are different. That means you have to change your beliefs.
Next time, we’ll talk about what that means (and it has nothing to do with religion).
Thanks for tuning in.