Isn’t it funny, I bet that after simply reading the title of this blog you have a picture in your head of a purple frog or a unicorn? We just can’t help ourselves! Now, if I say to you “don’t think of a purple frog” what do you notice? You still think of a purple frog right!? At least until you realise that you’re not supposed to be thinking of one so you change the image, perhaps to a different colour or animal. So what does this tell us?
The short answer is that the unconscious mind cannot process negatives. What this means is whatever you want to achieve, you must frame that goal as what you want, rather than what you don’t want.
I remember as a child I once got told ‘don’t touch the iron, it’s hot’. So instinctively I wanted to do nothing more than go and touch the iron… I did…it was hot!! Now having an understanding of the unconscious mind, a better instruction would have been surrounding the desired behaviour, such as ‘please continue playing with your toy’.
Whether you are working within management and providing an instruction to a team member, a parent to child or setting your own goals they must be correctly worded so there is no misunderstanding between your conscious self, and your unconscious self.
Here are some examples of negatively worded commands and how you can switch them so they serve you better:
- I don’t want to waste my money – I need to use my money wisely
- I don’t want to be stressed out – I need to be calm
- I don’t want to work in this job anymore – I need to gain a more fulfilling job
- Don’t forget to put the bins out – Remember to put the rubbish out
- I can’t be late – I need to be on time
- I can’t make a noise – I need to be quiet
- Don’t walk on the grass – Stay on the path
It’s simple but effective – just trying asking for what you actually want and you might be amazed by the impact this could have!
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