What are you allowing in through your senses without thinking about it? How is that incoming information affecting you? Are you the gatekeeper of what you allow in or are you running these processes on auto-pilot?
In Aug 2013 I published an article that referenced an experiment by Williams and Bargh (2008) that indicated the extent to which just fleeting incoming stimuli can determine the decisions and judgements we make…about people!
In this experiment, a momentary touch of a cup containing either a hot or cold beverage skewed the participants’ judgements about someone they read about shortly afterwards. Those who held the cold cup judged the fictitious person in the written text as being significantly colder, more selfish and less sociable than did those who held the hot cup of coffee. The only thing different was the temperature of the cup they held moments before making judgements about a person they were merely reading about. Pretty incredible, right!
Of course, if what we take in through our senses can affect how we perceive others and the judgements and decisions we make, then surely we are doing this about ourselves. As it happens, various studies suggest that we do so we really need to be in the driving seat of what we allow in to our minds as much as possible.
This is something that plays on my mind when I’m working with coaching clients, particularly when they seem to be lacking confidence in some way and/or are feeling stuck in some way. After all, associations are powerful, they are embedded within us, recorded from our experiences and whilst some associations can be fairly universal, some can be entirely specific to the individual.
Think of an apple and you will associate it with something, I will associate it with something else and many of us will also associate it with the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
A Service Enables A Smoother Journey & Prevents Breakdowns
When we feel that we’re not reaching a goal or that we don’t feel good about ourselves or that we lack self-esteem, there will be things that we are doing or not doing that are getting in our way. When we’re not achieving something, it’s really us in our own way. Our thoughts, things and behaviours are either conducive to our goals or detrimental. Taking our senses for a service can help us to identify these.
Let’s use lacking self-esteem as an example because we can all lack self-esteem from time to time. What do you possess that makes you feel lacking in worth? Do you hold on to clothes that you wouldn’t even give to charity? Do you keep your house in a constantly disorganised state? Do you let your house get dirty? Do you let your body get dirty and smelly? Do you listen to sad songs that make you feel low? Do you berate yourself frequently with powerfully damaging words such as idiot, fat b***h, or ugly cow? Do you grow your hair until it looks completely misshapen and your face loses its je ne sais quois? Do you hang out with people who verbally knock you down?
What do you think your brain tells you about you and your worth and your abilities when you indulge these sorts of behaviours?
What do you think it tells others about you?
How do these incoming stimuli affect how you and others judge you, make decisions about you and treat you?
Remember how in the Williams and Bargh experiment, merely touching a hot or cold cup of coffee for a few seconds swayed people’s perceptions of the character of a person they were only reading about? Exactly! Pretty powerful, right?
So get into the driving seat and take your senses for a service.
Think about the behaviours you indulge, whether it’s wearing tatty clothes or maintaining a disorderly environment or staying unclean or being stingy with the heating or eating ready-made microwaveable meals for every evening meal or…
What are you really saying to yourself and how can you change the incoming stimuli, like that hot or cold cup, so that you change the associations that are influencing the decisions and judgements you make about yourself and your abilities so that you can get out of your own way and steadily propel yourself towards your goals?
If we don’t service our senses frequently, it’s easy in the short-term but tough in the long-term. If we do service our senses frequently, it’s pretty easy in the short-term and much easier in the long-term. It’s a choice we make every day, even if that choice is not making a choice.
Williams, L. E., & Bargh, J. A. (2008). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322 (5901), 606-607.