“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw
Some people just have a knack of making their intentions a reality. They have huge audacious dreams come true, while others struggle to achieve the basics.
So, how are your dreams shaping up?
Is your vision board going mouldy in a corner, mocking you for failing those collaged goals?
Well you’re not alone. Although a vision board is a great idea, and shown to help us manifest our desires, it seems we’re missing a few steps. Clarity and a CLEAR intention being two of them.
When Martin Luther King had a dream, he made his intention TOTALLY clear…
He told us…
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr King didn’t just have a dream. He had a very specific intention.
John F Kennedy had a dream. He didn’t tell us he wanted to develop space travel. His goal was specifically,
‘To land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth’.
Again, a very clear intention.
But most of us get stuck at some vague wishing stage mangled up with doubt, confusion and mixed emotions.
So, if we’re going to build a dream and a vision, and we can agree that our ‘intention’ is a necessary part of it succeeding, then we need to understand what an intention actually is.
What is an intention?
A basic definition of an intention is, ‘something you want and plan to do’.
But that already raises some issues, because often we have mixed emotions and intentions that conflict with one another.
Let’s say your goal is to find a soulmate, get married and live the suburban dream. You write it all down. You make the vision board that will end up haunting you. You stick your brown eyed lover on there, a semi in the suburbs, throw on a couple of kids and a Labrador.
3 years later, you’re still single, renting loft space from your mate Dave.
Now let’s assume the dream is not unrealistic and is within your grasp. You’re attractive enough to get dates. You can save for a house deposit. Dogs like you.
So what happened?
Well the problem is, either consciously or unconsciously…you’re in two minds.
You want this, but you also want that.
You want something, but not something else that comes with it.
You want something, but deep down you don’t believe you can have it.
For example, you want a big house in the suburbs, but you love the city. You’d love a relationship, but you don’t want to get hurt. You once had an unfortunate incident with a dog (which we won’t go into)…but anyway, you get my drift.
The upshot is, when you try to implement your plan, it either never starts or it keeps falling through.
Because you think you’re clear on your intention.
But you’re not.
You have two different parts of your mind competing, and neither is winning. Now you don’t have the suburban dream AND you’re left lonely in Dave’s attic.
It’s a lose/lose.
And this is how we live our lives when our intentions are unclear. It’s a frustrating cycle of not liking our current circumstances, but never manifesting an alternative.
So the next issue is…
How do we make a CLEAR intention?
Because a lot of our happiness depends on knowing what we want and setting priorities. But often there are fears and blocks interfering with our success.
Rick Hanson, author of ‘Resilient’ tells us that we need to keep the survival brain out of our intention process. He explains that because the survival brain’s job is to keep scanning for threats, it ends up, ‘narrowing your horizons’. Then we end up defaulting to the safest option…which is…’I don’t really want it’.
So, we need to use a more creative part of the brain to manifest our goals.
And we can do that with…
The ONE powerful question
I’ll tell you about the powerful question in moment.
But first, I’ll ask you something simple…
What colour is your house?
That’s a question posed by David Hoffeld (The Science of Selling), to demonstrate what happens when the brain is asked a question. It automatically stops what it’s doing and engages to find the answer.
After hearing that question, did you think about your house?
And how is this relevant to the subject of ‘intention’?
Neuroscience shows that when you’re asked a question, especially an open question, the brain lights up and scans across the mental landscape to gather existing data to answer it. It also releases feel-good chemicals (serotonin), that allow it to relax and do a good job.
Hoffeld explains why asking questions can be so important for shaping our future…
‘Questions trigger a mental reflex known as “instinctive elaboration”. When a question is posed, it takes over the brain’s thought process. And when your brain is thinking about the answer to a question, it can’t contemplate anything else’.
What’s more…the brain likes to engage in open questions (questions that don’t just have a yes/no or this/that answer). It’s a vision building machine. It’s powerfully able to use imagination, access memories and piece together new stories. As humans we’re naturally wired for storytelling and picture building.
The one powerful open question that allows you to build your ideal vision and bypass doubt is…
‘What would it be like?’.
Once we ask THAT question, we get out of the analytic and fight/flight brain…and we start to see something amazing happen.
So, let’s go back to the vision board with the house, marriage and kids. In order to reinforce that dream, you might ask…
What would it be like to have lots of space and freedom in my new house?
What would it be like to be in love with my soulmate?
What would it be like to have fun in the garden with my kids and dog?
Asking those types of questions, helps the brain wake up and start scanning the mental landscape for things it already knows about those experiences. Then it pieces together a scenario and fetches it back to show you.
It doesn’t analyse. It doesn’t work on fear. It works with existing neural pathways and pure possibility.
Now you have pictures and words to represent the dream.
Now you’ve turned your dream into a mental movie.
Now you’re literally living in the future.
And that breathes life and soul into a two-dimensional vision board.
But sometimes there’s resistance to the dream…because…
The fearful brain (in the limbic centres) can still kick in after the fact. If you have resistance pop up, you can keep asking open ended questions.
If it resists and asks you, ‘But what if you get hurt?’, you can ignore that, and instead ask the question, ‘What would it be like to know that I can handle rejection?’. ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen and what would it be like to handle that with courage?’.
If it resists and tells you, ‘Kids tie you down’, you can ignore that and ask, ‘What would it be like to love my kids so much, that I feel completely free?’.
If it resists and tells you, ‘Nobody will ever want to marry you’, you can ignore that and ask, ‘What would it be like to know I was worthy of my soulmate’s love?’.
Keep asking, and the creative brain will keep going off and presenting you a new version of yourself and your story.
And the great thing is…
There’s a part of the brain that doesn’t know the difference between reality and imagination, so it starts wiring in the visions as if they’re real.
Now instead of doubt and stress, your imagination is working to create your map to a desired future.
The second benefit is, neuroscience has shown that during positive visualisation, the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain continue being released. The body is unconscious, it doesn’t know that this happy story is not a yet reality…so you actually begin to feel better.
It’s a win/win. And NOW you have an intention that’s going places.
This process works with anything you want to change, within your reasonable ability. If you want to generate a high income, but have lack beliefs, you might ask, ‘What would it be like to feel worthy of money?’. ‘What would it be like to have a million bucks in the bank?’
If you’re a generally angry, anxious or depressed person, you can ask, ‘What would it be like to feel calm (or happy, or confident)?’. ‘What would it be like to trust others and myself?’. ‘What would it be like to have an open, loving heart?’.
No more guessing. The brain knows. It has images, stories, beliefs, memories and imprints that it will happily run off and gather up for you and proudly present you with a version of yourself you can start to code in.
Because the current beliefs you have, were coded in the same way.
This is not magic, it’s science.
A belief is just a thought you keep thinking over and over again until it becomes your lived reality. Traumas are coded in, largely by the ‘survival brain’, to protect you in the future. Professor Steve Peters (The Chimp Paradox), refers to this part of the brain as ‘the chimp’. He also points out that the chimp brain is 5 times faster than the frontal lobed human part…so we need to be clever if we want to outsmart it.
That means this creation process must take place often, and when there is no immediate danger. This is when your re-visualisation process can sneak in and do the work.
Persistence is key. So, get ready to dust off that vision board and experience some miraculous changes!
What to do now
Make your mental movie. Go through the exercise of getting clear on your intention. Ask the ‘what would it be like’ or ‘what if’ type questions that wire in your new vision.
Take the time to do this and play that movie as much as you can throughout the day.
When you do this, you’re literally creating new neural pathways and in turn…a different version of yourself and your future.
Now most people stop at this stage. But there are some key powerful processes you need that will more easily and quickly make that movie your lived reality.
I’ll share some extra ju-ju to make it REALLY powerful… in a future post.
To your dreams.
Linda B x
Linda Bebbington is a psychotherapist & coach who specialises in healing anxiety and fear. She's the creator of 'The Pledge' program, 'Plenty of Power' and 'The Confidence Code', which help you RISE in Relationships, Identity, Strength and Enterprise.
You can find her at www.lindabebbington.com
Linda Bebbington is a psychotherapist & coach who specialises in healing anxiety and fear. She’s the creator of ‘The Pledge’ program, ‘Plenty of Power’ and ‘The Confidence Code’, which help you RISE in Relationships, Identity, Strength and Enterprise.
You can find her at www.lindabebbington.com