Thursday, October 28, 2010


As we go through our day, consciously and unconsciously, we strive to make the best choices we can, given what we know and have to work with at the point of making the decision.

So, whether we are conscious of it or unconscious, all our behaviours or actions have intentions (and they are positive intentions, at least to us). These include seemingly bad behaviour.

Our reticular activation system or RAS is never idle and it doesn't like a vacuum. So if we don't instruct it with conscious intentions, it'll follow whatever unconscious intentions (from our unconscious mind) unquestioningly.

The trouble with unconscious intentions (from our unconscious mind) is that they programme our RAS without us knowing and often set it to work for the wrong reasons.

Indeed, dig deep enough behind self sabotaging and anti-social behaviours, and we'll find that many have unconscious intentions at their root.

For example, everyone knows that the habit of smoking is linked to all kinds of horrible diseases.

Why then do some people continue to puff away merrily in spite of hostile stares, banishment from shared space, overwhelming medical research, and burning holes in their pockets?

There are conscious and unconscious intentions behind every behaviour.

Smokers start to smoke for a conscious intention. Perhaps it makes them feel cool, or more grown up, or helps them fit in, or flaunt their individuality, or establish their identity, or signifies coming of age, independence from parents, or express defiance against authourity like school.

Over time, new unconscious intentions creep in, like giving the smoker an excuse to take a break from work, or a way to give themselves a little reward, or a way to have some control over strong emotions, calm their nerves, or a way to feel a small sense of accomplishment as a cigarette burns itself up.

How can we spring clean our lives of such old unproductive habits of thought and self sabotaging behaviour?

Keep unconscious intentions from choking your RAS like weeds strangling your garden.

I’ll illustrate this with a short story.

One day a young boy was on his knees pulling weeds, one by one, out of the lawn at his home.

His neighbour, a kind old lady, was watching him quietly, smiling.

When she finally got the boy’s attention, she gave him this advice: “The best way to keep the weeds out of your lawn is to plant beautiful flowers.”

So, the best way to keep unconscious intentions from creeping in and short circuiting your RAS, is to plant conscious intentions.

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