What's The Streaming Channel In Your Head? Part 2.

By Karen Carnahan & Marsia Gunter

Neon vector equalizer wave

In part 1, we discussed how the voices or messages that we listen to in our head are like streaming channels or radio stations. And how when we listen to those stations long enough, their messages become immutable truths that can impact our behavior, our results and our view of the world.

In part 2, we’re going to discuss practical ways you can replace old channels that aren’t working for you with new ones that can help you get to where you want to go.

Switch Your Stations or Streaming Channel!

Make some changes. Switch the tune you are listening to.

Switch radio stations or channels. It’s your choice.

The freedom we have to change is very powerful. Our thoughts, opinions, judgments, etc. are just that -- they are not immutable truths, not solid as a rock. Language is malleable, it moves and flows. And you always have a choice about which voice, which internal radio station or streaming channel you listen to.

It's important to understand that whether a particular voice is "right" or "wrong" is not the point. It's a question of whether or not it is useful. You can listen to any voice in your head that you want - you'll always find evidence to support that point of view, or indeed any point of view. But if a particular voice is not useful, not productive in creating the future you have declared for yourself, then you are better off listening to a different voice.

The Power of Neurochoice

The power of choice is not just an idea that temporarily changes your thoughts; it actually physically changes the connections between the brain cells in your head. Neuropsychologist Dr. Tomaino describes the amazing power of choice on a cellular level, known as a neurochoice. She says, “As neuroscience has revealed the functions of those inner structures in our heads that create who we are, the capacity for making a "neurochoice" is now available.

Neurochoices are your options for brain change by choice because you know enough about your brain and care enough to make choices to focus it in healthy, growth-producing ways.

A key concept that reveals your power of influence comes from Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb, who said, ‘the neurons that fire together, wire together.’ This is the neuroscience version of ‘practice makes perfect.’”

But What if Your Channel Is So Loud It’s Hard To See A Different Choice?

Dr. Tomaino suggests three steps to making positive neurochoices.

First, shift your focus.  Change your focus from just reacting to the situation. “Ask a question like: How would you like this to work out? The brain loves a question and will search for the answer if you provide the focus. All thoughts produced will then follow a different path if you are seeking an answer to your question.”

Sometimes shifting your state can also help you get in the right frame of mind. Get up. Take a walk. Go outside. Shift the state that you are in.

Next, remember to breathe. “As you breathe in and out at a consistent pace, you will notice your heart rate slowing, regulated to a calmer and more even state. As the heart automatically speeds up under stress, it affects the nervous system and hyperfocuses you on reacting to the problem rather than thinking through the solution.”

Finally, make a conscious choice. “Make a conscious choice. Relax your muscles, which spontaneously tense up in the face of conflict or danger.

In the "fight or flight response," your body is ready to keep you safe but is often overreacting to events that can be better resolved from a more relaxed state. There is greater creativity and more access to your intelligence in ease.”

You Always Have a Choice

Even in the toughest situations, you have this choice about which voice in your head to hear. But you must be willing to make that choice. This ability to manage the internal stations, to orchestrate the private tunes you're playing in your head, may well be your most important skill for making yourself effective.

A channel or station that plays a vigorous tune “This is going to work!” is likely to be much more useful than one that squeaks sadly or resentfully, “No one listens to me.” By listening to a voice that choruses, “Our team members are capable and able” you'll achieve much more than with the refrain, “I have to do everything myself.”

Note, this is not an exercise in positive thinking. Switching stations means you paying attention, being awake to what is going on in your head and managing it. Most of us blame the other person for the poor communication relationship. Yet we can't change that person; we can only change ourselves. Nevertheless, in changing ourselves we influence the world outside ourselves. The private radio stations we run in our head sets a course of action. So it's wise to ensure that the voice that's running is one that will set the course of action that fulfills the future we say we want.

Practice makes perfect. Wouldn’t you rather listen to a station called “This is going to work" and have that become just the way things start turning out for you most of the time?

Making it Happen

Think back to the exercise you did earlier. Are there any tunes or radio stations running there that are not useful? For example, Marsia's tune about her mother was not useful, because it prevented her from really having an optimal relationship with her mother.

Marsia changed that radio station. She began by checking out its accuracy. Questioning her brothers and sister showed her different tapes about her mother's behavior, so she decided to try listening to a different tune. She began to play a radio station in her head called, “Whatever Mom says and does is out of her love for me.” Marsia also began to try out the thought that her mother listened to her as if she was capable and able. Admittedly, the changes took a lot of managing - initially about a hundred times a day, as habit kept luring her back to the old radio stations. Gradually, the change in the tunes she was playing resulted in a new way of hearing her mother and relating to her.

Replace Old Tunes That Are Not Useful

Now go back to the earlier exercise. Look at the list of tunes you are playing, and determine which are not useful. Once you have identified them, set about changing them. You might want to check them out, since disproving their accuracy helps to undermine their effectiveness. But the bigger issue is not accuracy but usefulness. Are they serving you, helping you to create the future you have declared? If not, replace them with other tunes.

Make a chart with the non-productive tunes on one side and their replacements on the other. Train yourself bit by bit to make the replacement. Remember Marsia's story and persevere. You might prefer to focus on changing one tune at a time, and as soon as you are accustom to hearing that new one, move on to the next replacement.

How it Works in the Workplace

The results that get produced in business can come directly from your private conversations that then are publicly spoken. How many of you have a private radio station or streaming channel called, “There's not enough time” that then results in people talking out loud about how they don't have enough time. Or, the thought may be that “We're in a stagnant market.” The external conversation may be “There's just not enough business today.”

Being in Mastery

Being in mastery as business owners, team members, stockholders, etc. demands being awake to what radio station we are playing and what framework it sets for the actions we take and the results we get. It requires us to be rigorous rather than sloppy in our thinking; to check out our assumptions rather than automatically believing our thoughts to be true; and in general, manage what is playing in our heads and coming out of our mouths. Above all, mastery in this area comes from accepting responsibility and the power of choice.

Keeping This Distinction Alive - Promise to Action

What commitment can you make regarding your own radio stations and what action will you take? What will you do differently? What changes will you make? How will you know when you have succeeded in making them? What results can you measure?

Expect to be effective! That is your promise to yourself!

Are you further interested in being in mastery of your personal communication and embracing the future for yourself, your company or your organization? Explore the future you want to create through ongoing coaching to develop business growth strategies, professional leadership development and business ownership, and transitioning your business for the next generation. We believe in the future you envision, and stand with you to help achieve it. 




Gary Gunter