the Neuro-Science Behind "the Secret"

Call it the power of positive thinking on steroids, call it the "law of attraction." No matter what you call it, "The Secret" has become a publishing and DVD success by pushing a simple premise -- love, money, health — you can have them all, simply by thinking it. And while critics have rightly questioned the breadth of the claims of the proponents of the Secret, at least one aspect of the process is squarely grounded in neuro-science - the positive power of affirmations to effect change.

As explained in this article by Hal Williamson and Sharon Eakes published in The Systems Thinker Newsletter, proper use of the affirmation-visualization process creates new neural circuits and conditions the brain to detect information in your environment that helps to turn the affirmation-visualization into reality.

Quoting from the article:

When our mind creates thoughts that are inconsistent with our experiences, habits, attitudes and beliefs, we experience mental pressure. The subconscious pushes back in an effort to maintain system equilibrium...

So how can we overcome these forces that work to maintain the status quo? One way is through affirmations...

An affirmation is a declaration that something is true...When tagged with emotions, affirmations create strong, new neural circuits. These new circuits have the capacity to alter old, unwanted behaviors in favor of new, desired behaviors...

By visualizing something repeatedly, we stimulate our subconscious to search for neural circuits that will evoke behaviors to bring about the very thing we have visualized. Positive results from practicing affirmations come from our natural urge to reduce the cognitive dissonance that is created when we compare current reality with the future state we want to achieve...

The three-step affirmation-visualization process that will drive new neural circuit development is:

1. Craft an affirmation that you will repeat mentally.
2. Visualize an image of the way the world will look as viewed from your own eyes when the affirmed fact is a reality.
3. Recall simultaneously an event that triggered positive emotions in order to chemically tag the new neural circuit formed by the affirmation and the visualized image.

To be highly effective, the words of affirmation need to follow six basic guidelines:

1. Be Personal
2. Be Positive
3. Use Present Tense
4. Express Positive Emotion
5. Be Realistic
6. Be Specific

The affirmation-visualization process has enormous power. Some of the results you can expect include:

*Secure the quality of life you want by activating existing neural circuits to change your behavior and relationships with others.
*Neutralize unwanted emotions, eliminate limiting attitudes and beliefs.
*Condition your brain to detect information in your environment that is of special importance to you.
*Solve problems by utilizing subconscious processes.
The article is derived from Hal's recently published book, Liberating Greatness: The Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life. The book uses the latest in neuroscience to illustrate how to rewire your brain to create the future you've always wanted. By understanding how the brain's neural pathways work, learning basic systems principles, and using simple mental tools, you can unlock your inner capacity and liberate your own greatness.

The book is available from Pegasus Communications, which graciously granted permission to use the Systems Thinker Newsletter article excerpts in this post.