Tom was sure he was one of the unluckiest people on the planet. His favorite quote was, “If something bad is going to happen, it’s going to happen to me.” Tom seemed to encounter obstacles wherever he would go. If there was a major traffic jam, he was in the middle of it. When his company downsized, he was the first laid off. And when he traveled, his luggage was lost…multiple times. The list could go on and on, and it did! By the time I met Tom, he was pretty cynical. He was sure that life was stacked against him and that nothing on the planet could change that reality.
Based on Tom’s experiences, he could argue his viewpoint was valid. He would note other people he knew and point out how their life flowed easily while he seemed to encounter one hardship after another.
“Have you ever considered that your brain has been hardwired to see hardship?”
When I asked Tom this question, he responded with a quizzical look, to which I said, “Have you ever heard about Hebb’s law?”
Hebb’s law is a principle in neuroscience that states, “Nerve cells that fire together, wire together.” That means when you keep having the same thoughts, feelings and behaviors about your life experiences, it creates a neural pattern in the brain. The more this pattern of thought, behavior and feeling is repeated, the more the nerve cells get connected and create automatic thoughts, behaviors and feelings at a non-conscious level.
In the book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, Dr. Joe Dispensa explains it this way:
“The more you fire the same circuits by reacting to your external world (the same way), the more you’ll wire your brain to be equal to your personal world. You’ll become neuro-chemically attached to the conditions in your life.”
In other words, your reality gets shaped by the habit of your repeated thoughts. So, if you believe life is hard, you will see hardship in whatever you encounter.
Interestingly, Tom had not come to see me about feeling his life was hard…he had come because he felt unproductive and wanted to get his energy back. As we explored what might be impacting his energy, it was only then that his negative outlook about being unlucky floated to the surface.
Tom came to realize his belief that he was unlucky, set him up to feel tired before he even got started with his day. He noticed when he thought about his day, his brain would imagine obstacles and hardships that he could encounter, which lead him to feel heavy and tired.
As Tom became more conscious of his negative belief pattern, he learned to consciously challenge those beliefs, and create more energized and productive brain patterns. The great thing about the brain is that is can be rewired.
As Tom said, “It can be challenging to find the good when all you’ve programmed yourself to see is the bad.” Challenging…yes, but impossible…no. It does take willingness, practice, and tools to support changing a negative and draining view point.
One of the tools I had Tom use to help him create a more positive reframe of his negative outlook was a deck of my Inspiration Cards. When he was struggling to find the positive in a situation, I would have him pull a card, and discuss how that message applied to his situation. He would explore this and come out on the other side with a renewed and positive outlook to go thru the day.
If you would like to learn more about using my deck of Inspiration Cards check them out here!