THE POWER OF NEURAL ASSIGNMENTS
This is also known as ‘anchoring’, or the process by which one assigns personal meaning (an internal process) to an environmental experience (an external event).
And when new stimulus appears to be from a previous experience, it can trigger an underlying anchor, sending into action a sequence of neural events which constructs a narrative to include the character we are to play in the storyline about a physical event which hasn't even occurred, yet.
When this narrative is fully constructed, your body's actions take on the animation, not of your pure & fluid self, but of the character constructed in the story; and your behaviors are limited to the set of rules that character follows. And any possibility for a new, novel experience is ruined by the pre-cognitive model your mind constructed based off an old memory.
You do this all the time in the heat of the moment. For instance, when you catch a ‘red light’, and you think to yourself, “just what I needed”, followed by, ”this always happens to me”.
You'll take a perfectly random physical event and assign it a personal value to your internal mental processes, thus anchoring a psycho-emotional attachment to the stimulus. This is what Dr. Pavlov tested and proved with his dog: if we associate a personal value to a stimulus (a.k.a. neural assignment) a positive feedback loop forms.
Positive feedback loops are neural patterns that form as signatures in our brain's circuitry (these are physical connections, not just mental experiences) which reinforce physical behavior patterns (Dan Siegel, 1997).
It’s worth noting that negative feedback loops refer to the reduction or breaking of behavior patterns. (More on these another time.)
And, in most cases, when you actively assign a meaning to an event–like when you say to yourself “this always happens to me”–you are positively reinforcing the behavior pattern(s) which led you to the outcome you just assigned meaning to, for better or worse.
Now, don’t worry; with the exception of a few, fully-enlightened minds, almost all people activate positive feedback loops into their mental processes that produce undesirable outcomes, and we do it regularly.
The objective is to:
Identify It: Clearly identify the psycho-linguistic wording used to reinforce behavioral outcomes by your idle mind.
In general, these words and phrases will auto-populate in your mind without much effort on your part. Dr. Daniel Amen (author of 'Change Your Brain, Change Your Life') calls these ANT's, automatic negative thoughts.
- Challenge It: To the ‘wording’ you hear emerge from your idle mind; present a challenge question:
Those words can ‘trigger’ a response whereby I slowly begin to question and doubt what I do, how I do it, and even who I am as a person entirely.
In the past, this simple phrase, when gone unchecked, has demolished me for afternoons and even entire days. But now, when I identify that phrase in my mind, I mentally “STOP” and challenge it by responding with exactly who I believe I am.
I instantly remind myself of the childhood struggles I overcame, the youth adversity I battled through and made sense of, and bring into my mind all the training, skill-development, and the countless times I sacrificed myself in the service of and to others.
A simpler example is that of the traffic signal. If I hear the words "this always happens to me", then I'll ask the challenge question in immediate response, "Always? I 'never' get 'any' green lights?" And my mind recounts all the green lights it can in split second, thus stopping that "always happens to me" narrative from being constructed.
3. Execute: Some people call this “acting as-if” and others call it “faking it ‘til you make it”. The strong distinction in the case of neural assignment is that it’s an intentional “acting as-if” or purposeful “faking it ‘til you make it”.
But, in either case, once you’ve challenged the ANT, you must take action and execute through the storyline of the challenge you presented. And that means assuming the character you've created yourself into through the intentional neural association.
And, because the process of neural assignment has a physical relationship to your brain’s circuitry, you’re not just faking an action and hoping you make it. This is an ongoing, supra-conscious* process that continually forms physical alterations in your brain which recreates new neural signatures, which recreate your mental experience.
Neuropsychologists refer to this as using one's mind to alter the brain to recreate one's mind.
*Super-conscious refers to being 'aware of awareness'.
I.C.E. is an easy to remember acronym: Identify, challenge, and execute. And the acronym’s word, “ice”, actually refers to cooling your mind down in response to a stimulus that heats it up.
The objective of the I.C.E. Method is to transfer heat from your mind into your body so that you have a cool mind with which to think clear and an energized body with which you may move free.
And the I.C.E Method is a great tool for learning how to spin your thoughts and feelings toward a sense of Self that’s more useful for producing desirable outcomes, whatever those may look like to you.
In addition, the I.C.E. Method is a useful deterrent to the media's techniques of anchoring and triggering of neural associations in your mind which produce the urge to purchase soda pop with 60 grams of sugar and televisions with over 70 inches of screen...
Media uses social engineering techniques, which are mega feedback loops of hyper-stimulatory program content with auto-associations built into them in order to produce predictable behavior.
Start using I.C.E. today. Right now, in fact. And notice the next association that emerges in your mind unintentionally. And then continue to practice being supra-conscious and be aware of what it is you're aware of as often as possible.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK...
They Do What?: Social Engineering in the Age of Web 3.0