“Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks…” - Leonardo DiCaprio as Dominic Cobb in Inception.
You are who you think you are. Even better, you have the ability to change who you are by modifying the very idea of who you think you are. In three simple steps, you can take control of reprogramming you.
I don’t believe in the power of idea inception thanks to the acting prowess of Mr. DiCaprio. I believe it because I’ve done it.
Recently, I was helping to refurbish an old building into a mechanic’s garage with a group from church. One of my new friends told me that it was obvious that I was a natural-born leader after watching me instruct some of the younger guys. This still gives me a chuckle since as a boy, it seemed that leadership wasn’t even in my vocabulary.
Over many years, I decided to change the idea of who I was through changes in self-image and training. The successes I accomplished built upon this new idea I had created and it became my new reality.
How do you currently see yourself? Are you successful according to your virtues? Would you admire someone like you? Are you who you want to be?
How did you form that idea about yourself? Certainly, much of your self-view is built around your accomplishments. Still, your family, friends, and even your job have all had a hand in helping to form this perception. However, you’d be surprised how much you’re shaped based upon the idea that you already have about yourself. Yes, it is that recursive: your idea of you creates your idea of you. Now, imagine changing that idea to do or become anything you’d like.
Although you won’t be entering a dream within a dream as they did in the movie, you can practically implant a new idea in your own mind. This new idea, once properly formed and believed, will begin to change your life.
Create the Idea
First, explicitly write down your idea instead of only thinking about it. It needs to be a statement describing who you are in the future, not just what you want. For example, “I have earned a Master’s Degree in Economics.” Since you will want to revisit your idea in order to make it a reality, your idea should be clear and concise.
You’ll want to get your idea into your subconscious. You don’t want to only think about this idea, you want to believe it. Talk about the future as if it were fact.
Further in Inception, Leonardo goes on to describe that the subconscious is motivated by emotion, not reason. Let’s continue to properly form your idea and strengthen it accordingly.
Shore Up the Idea With Emotion
An idea that you fortify with emotion can stick around. Let the hurtful ideas move along; don’t give them an emotional anchor. You will want to take your transformative idea and give it some real resilience.
Now, let’s associate positive emotions to this idea. Picture yourself in the future as having accomplished what you set out to do. How do you feel? Be specific and don’t stop at simple word feelings like “Happy” or “Satisfied”. Instead, flesh out full sentences to describe how you feel in your future:
- “I am proud that I’ve earned my Master’s Degree.”
- “I am grateful to my family for having supported me through this challenging time.”
- “I am joyful having realized my goals and excited to know that I can achieve great things again.”
Regularly Revisit the Idea and Emotions
You didn’t get to be you overnight. It took years of doing things over and over to make you, you. Without knowing that you were doing it, you were slowly programming yourself. To change, you’ll have to follow the same pattern but this time, you’ll do so deliberately.
On a routine, daily basis, re-read your new idea. Imagine your future self as the realization of this idea. Remind yourself why it was important to you. Read over your emotional statements and add new ones. Be sure to compliment yourself on your successful steps towards your new idea. When you finally, completely realize your idea in your life, be sure to celebrate.
Over your life, you have accomplished much to become who you are today. However, you have the ability to replace the self-idea created by your activities and others’ perceptions with a new idea of your choosing. Properly implanted and nourished, your idea will become believable. Recognize and celebrate that you are fully in control of establishing this new idea in order to become the new you.