Most of us are completely unaware of our thoughts. If you stop to listen to your thoughts, to be aware of them, you’d find most of them are negative. But you only realize you are having these negative thoughts when you force yourself to be aware of them. Awareness is the key. The new age term for this is mindfulness.
Physiologically, these negative thoughts, the voice inside our heads, emanates from an area of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala resides in the limbic system portion of the brain. It never stops talking to us. It’s there for a purpose. Think of it as something like a radar system, warning you of danger. It broadcasts worry, fear, doubts. This voice whispers to us all sorts of negative things. Things triggered when you embark on something new; something that involves risk. The triggers for this voice are new goals, pursuing a dream, investing our money in a new business or a new project, new job opportunities, a possible promotion with new responsibilities etc. It says things to us like:
- You could fail.
- You could lose money.
- You might do a bad job and get fired.
- It may result in bankruptcy.
These voices are warnings to stop what you are doing and reverse course back to your comfort zone. Most give in to the voices. But I found a few who didn’t. I found them in my five-year study of the daily habits of self-made millionaires. These courageous individuals ignored those voices; pursuing goals, dreams, new business opportunities and new challenges in life. How come they didn’t obey the voices inside their head? What did they do to overcome those voices and persist?
Those rich, successful individuals in my study played something I call The What If Game. The What If Game silences those negative voices inside your head. The What If Game is like battery acid, melting away doubt, fear, anxiety and worry. In his book Think Like a Champion (http://www.amazon.com/Think-Like-Champion-Informal-Education/dp/0762438568), Donald Trump explains how he shuts down his demon voices by playing The What If Game. When Trump is considering a new project, he confesses in his book that those demon voices come charging in like an army. Many of the demon voices come from inside his head, but many of them also come from individuals who work with Trump. In the early phases of pursuing a new project, these voices warn him of all sorts of potential dangers. When he was in the evaluation phase of what became his award winning T.V. show, The Apprentice, Trump was confronted with an overwhelming number of demon voices advising him to stop:
- The show might fail. If the show is a flop, it will damage the Trump brand
- It will distract me from my current business. My core businesses would suffer financially.
- What if the show turns people against me?
- What if I hate doing the show?
But Trump played The What If Game:
- What if the show is a success?
- What if the show helps improve my brand?
- What if I love doing the show?
- What if it helps me make more money?
- What if it helps me find apprentices who are outstanding and can add value to my business?
- What if millions of people around the world fall in love with me and my Trump organization?
The What If Game stops negativity in its tracks and replaces it with positivity. It defuses all of the fears, doubts and uncertainties we all face when pursuing something worthwhile. It immediately changes the way you think. It gives you courage to move forward. The next time you are faced with a difficult decision, play The What If Game. Don’t give in to the demon voices. What if the demon voices are just wrong?