The cards were falling his way until late at night when he began making subtle mistakes. My stack of poker chips, once piled high, dwindled. Ahead a few thousand dollars at one point, I cashed out with little more than my original stake.
I slept fitfully, and in the morning called my father, who grew up in Nevada and is also a gambler, to relate the previous night’s turn of events. He asked me a single question.
“Were you tired?”
“Yes,” I said. “I got up very early in the morning, traveled here, and played cards until after midnight.”
“That explains it,” he said. “You lost because you wanted to lose.”
“No,” I said. “I hated losing.”
“Of course you did, but your body needed sleep,” he said. “Your body knew that the only way it could get you to quit playing and go to bed is if you lost your money. You’re lucky you didn’t lose everything.”
This story illustrates how powerful our subconscious mind can be. Malcolm
Maltz calls it our “servo mechanism” always working to accomplish it;s task. In this case, it was a novice gambler who was being told to lose because it needed sleep. But this applies to many areas of life, not just gamblers needing sleep.
We have all dealt with the “snap back” effect where we start out on a mission to change something about our life or accomplish something only to make choices that seem to undo everything we have accomplished. You see it with weight gain that comes after weight loss, or the person who sabotages their success in business.
Most of the time we have the willpower to force ourselves to do something for a while, basically, we are just forcing our servo mechanism or our subconscious, to the shelf and telling it to shut up and it does, for a while. After a while if we don’t do anything to change the language or the direction of our subconscious it will take us right back to where we started and often times even worse because now it has one more thing, one more time that it can use to validate what it was trying to accomplish in the first place.
The good news is that our subconscious can be trained. It is given the appropriate name of a servo mechanism because it is sole purpose is to serve us. It gets input from us and then it works tirelessly 24 hours a day to validate whatever that data is that we have given it. The problem is that most of us have given it bad data, Stuff that if we were to sit down and write out our dream life would not be found anywhere on the paper. These are old beliefs, usually limiting ones that we have picked up along the way and decided to believe about ourselves and the world around us. If you have always been overweight and that is how you see yourself, your servo mechanism will do whatever it can to accomplish that vision.
The fact of the matter it is very hard to make any long lasting significant change in your life without giving your subconscious a new direction. It is not enough to just change your actions. That is like trying to drive down the road with the emergency break on, eventually, the break will give out. Your subconscious is like the gas pedal and it works non-stop.
Personal development is kind of a catchy phrase right and it has become a little bit trendy of the last several years but it is an essential part of growth. As we learn new things and new ways of being, happier ways of being, we have to retrain our brain to think that way. It does not just happen, it is much like learning a new language, or learning to write with your non-dominate hand, it takes time. Giving circumstances new meanings and creating new ways of seeing yourself are vital to meaningful lasting change.