I just finished watching a fascinating interview with Charlie Rose and David Brooks, author of “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.” David’s book is about the influence of the unconscious mind on our destiny as human beings.
During the interview, Brooks shared a story about a young girl who grows up in poverty with a mom who’s suffering from depression and, using her instincts, demands to get into a school that ultimately changes her life. He explains one of the essential points of the story: “If you’re in a troubled situation, you probably don’t have the faculties to change it yourself. What you need to do is get yourself into a different environment and let that environment’s cues change you.”
By putting herself in a new environment – the school – this girl was exposed to new routines, discipline, and different people. As a result, she went from a chaotic situation that undermined her success (her home life) to a situation where she now had the potential to create a very different future.
The message of this story is important: When we change our environment, we interrupt the powerful force of unconscious patterns that keep us firmly rooted in failure.
Stop for a moment and think about the implications of this idea on your life. If you’re stuck in a situation that feels hopeless – a troubled marriage, failed attempts at losing weight, or a life-sucking job that fills you with dread on Monday mornings – it can be overwhelming to even think about making positive changes. But, if you focus purely on changing your environment first, you may just find the key that lets you out of emotional hell.
If you’re overweight, for example, and you can’t seem to get yourself in shape, there’s a good chance you’ll need the support of a new environment – a safe and comfortable health club, the beauty of nature for daily walks, or the structure of Weight Watchers or Curves to help you build new patterns for success.
If you’re tired of struggling with money and being in debt, joining Debtor’s Anonymous might give you the new faces and guidelines you need to get your financial health in order. Or, becoming a member of a Life Makeover Group could give you the new surroundings you need to challenge ineffective unconscious behaviors that keep you bogged down.
The interview with David was a powerful reminder: Stop trying to create a breakthrough from within a structure that’s set up to support failure.
What new environment or structure do you need to put in place to release yourself from the shackles of defeat?
Take Action Challenge
Tackle a pestering problem in a new way. Choose something about yourself or your life that you’d like to improve and find a way to change your environment.
This week’s video is pretty wild. Who knew an animal could do this? You’ll find it here.