Alistair Horscroft: 7 Seconds To Change Your Life at TEDxNoosa 2014 (Transcript)

And the second cash prize that people could win was the person with the best origin story for their phobia. And that title was held for four years by a lady who believed that spiders had hunted her down through seven lifetimes with the sole purpose of making her life a total misery. So you can see that when you have people like this, just telling them to stop it and get them to believe in themselves doesn’t really kind of cut the mustard, you know.

Anyway, I want to get on and talk more about this space. Before I do so I need to give you a little bit of kind of behind the scenes knowledge as it were. And I’d like you to imagine just for a moment that you’re in a game show and in this game show you have two buzzers, you’ve got a buzzer here and you’ve got a buzzer there. And this buzzer is controlled by your conscious processing, your conscious mind and this buzzer is controlled by your unconscious processing, your unconscious mind. And whoever gets to press the button first, how these two parts of you get to choose the next response to the moment, they get to choose the next response to the moment.

And I want you to imagine if we take this into a setting, let’s say, for example, a new social experience. You’re going into a new social party or some kind of social experience and you decided that you want to go in there and do confidence with your conscious mind. You said, ‘Oh, yeah I’m going to be confident.’ And you’re going to walk in and you’re going to do your fancy-pants confidence.

But as you kind of walk in, all of a sudden something happens. What happens is, is this bloody unconscious just starts hitting its button again and again and again and all of a sudden you find yourself feeling nervous, worried, consumed by certain thoughts what people are thinking of you and you’re doing the absolute opposite of confidence. So how does that occur? When it occurs, because although there’s no agreed-upon speed there, if you take the mean for more research studies we find that the conscious processing travels at about a hundred miles per hour around your brain. But your unconscious processing travels about a hundred thousand miles per hour around your brain. So what this means is your conscious mind is kind of going calm — and the unconscious you just go no, no, no, you need to do something else what I tell you to do.

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And so it seems to me that actually contrary to what most people believe our unconscious actually meets the moment first and your conscious mind is more of an observer to what your unconscious has already dictated or decided that it’s going to occur. In fact, we can take this further and we can get to the meat of this which is this 7 seconds.

So I don’t know about you but when I was kind of up until very very recently, whenever I heard about brain scan equipment or brain scans, the only image that ever came to my mind was that Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters, you know that colander on his head and a little kind of things coming out of him and this lady has prepared one. And I was so disappointed when brain scans, something you look like that, they look far more like this, which isn’t good if you’ve got claustrophobia. And this is called a functional resonance imaging machine, magnetic resonance imaging machine and it is basically a fancy kind of brain scan. And this piece of equipment was used by a Dr. John-Dylan Haynes from Berlin University, a neuroscientist. And perhaps six years ago he did some research, it was quite extraordinary and it certainly made him sit down for three days when he heard it and made me lie down when I heard it.

And what he found was that the unconscious had dictated or decided a decision that your conscious mind thought that it made a second before you actually made it. So again more of this confirmation that your conscious is just an observation to what your own unconscious dictates. In fact, it goes deeper and he really had to lie down when he found this out. He found out that your unconscious often predicted the decision or the response it was going to make to the moment up to seven seconds before your conscious mind was aware of what was going on.

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And now we need to look at them, I mean that seven seconds, so imagine that you decide — say, for example, you’re given an arbitrary decision to pick a number between one and ten or something like this. And you think that you just made that decision, but it’s pick three or pick 7 but one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, seconds earlier your unconscious had began to pattern recognize everything that was going on and began to decide and dictate what response you were going to make. This is extraordinary.

So let’s talk about this space, this space that I’m talking about. Now to talk about this space that we can create, that will allow us to begin to make changes in such a way that the changes you make become a part of our unconscious programming as it were, so that they become our immediate response. We don’t have to think about it, instead we can deliver that response by our unconscious and to create that space I believe we need to look at two parts of the brain that people far smarter than me have told me about.

And the first part of the brain is what they call the amygdala. And the amygdala as I’ve been told is your emotional processing unit within your brain. It’s to do with your emotional level, emotional arousal at any given point in time and we often hear associated to the flight and fight response.

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