Full text of human behavior expert Peter Sage’s talk: How To Eliminate Self Doubt Forever & The Power of Your Unconscious Mind at TEDxPatras conference. In this powerful talk he explains some of the hidden reasons and unconscious patterns that cause us to self-sabotage and explains what we can do to change them.
Best quote from this talk:
“If you don’t start filming as the star of the movie in your life, by default you’re going to end up as a film extra in somebody else’s.”Peter Sage
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Peter Sage – Human behavior expert
Thank you. Why is it that intelligent people procrastinate? Why is it that people that are so self-motivated often self-sabotage? And why is it that no matter how many new business opportunities we get or new skills we try to learn, many of us just are simply finding different ways of earning the same amount of money or achieving the same kind of level of success as if there was kind of a glass ceiling above our head that we’re trying to break through but didn’t know how?
Now, one thing we do know is, it’s not down the lack of resources or opportunity. We live in a time in history where there are more resources and opportunity than ever before. In fact, there’s many people that have access to resources and opportunity that really never get the battle to shoulder and take a swing at life, and the results are mediocre or disappointing.
And then there is the other people those who have access to virtually no resources or no opportunity and, against all of the odds, went out and created magic for the rest of us to go Wow! and stand in awe of.
People like Colonel Sanders who retired broke at 65, before starting KFC. Obviously Oprah, people like Helen Keller or even Albert Einstein who dropped out of school at 15 and then failed the entrance exam for the Zurich Polytechnic.
No, you see if you want a masterclass in taking away the excuse that resources and opportunity are the root reason why you are not successful, go study any of the lives of the people on screen.
You see, as human beings, our nervous system is hardwired for comfort, whereas the essence of what makes us us, some would say our soul is hardwired for growth. And it’s managing that dynamic tension between how good a comfort zone feels and the innate calling of our potential that lies outside of that, that causes the frustration for most people and keeps them on that hamster wheel of mediocrity.
So how do we unravel that?
Well, let’s look at the human brain. See, what separates us from almost all of the animal kingdom, the crowning achievement of human biology is the front part of the brain, once known as the neocortex of the frontal lobe. And that neocortex operates at a brain wave length of alpha or beta. One of the challenges is that, that doesn’t get turned on until we’re about seven years old.
See, kids operate in delta and theta which is why babies sleep so much, and why kids live in that magical fantasy world where they’re operating at theta with no critical thinking.
Now, it also means that children are very impressionable, and why Aristotle is widely quoted as saying that, ‘give me the child for seven years and I’ll give you the man’.
But what happens when we drill down on that? Why is that important to why we procrastinate or self-sabotage?
Well, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say it’s dad’s turn to take little Johnny shopping and the kids, and you know mom’s busy that day and he’s kind of frustrated; he’s got to go out and get the job done. And yeah… one thing you need to know about dad: he’s got his own stuff to deal with right now. He is figuring out how to pay the credit card bill that was higher this month than he thought. He’s worried about whether the boss is going to be downsizing soon. And he’s still reeling from the lack of intimacy that morning caused by a fight that he had with his wife. He is dealing with the stuff as we all do.
Now, little Johnny doesn’t live in that world. And so when they get to the checkout, now as every good retail psychologist knows, they place the products at the eye height of the people you’re trying to sell to. And so Johnny sees the toys, and Johnny wants the toy, and he’s like, “Daddy, daddy, can I have a toy?”
And daddy comes out of his mind fog and says “No, you can’t have a toy,” but his daddy is thinking he can afford it but that’s now it’s just not the time.
But as parents will understand children are prime examples of the ability to be persistent, are they not?
So little Johnny says “Daddy, daddy, I want a toy; please can I have a toy?”
See, little Johnny doesn’t live in a world of credit card debt. And in his frustration on dealing with his stuff and trying to handle the kids and all the other stuff, Daddy snaps out and says “Listen, you can’t have a toy; you don’t deserve it. You’re not good enough; you’ve not behaved enough today.”
And daddy thinks that’ll just keep him quiet while he goes back to dealing with his big world problems.
But what’s happening right now is quite significant. You see, little Johnny doesn’t hear dad’s frustration, all Johnny hears is that ‘I’m not good enough, I’m not worth it and I’m undeserving’, and probably spends a large part of the rest of his life unconsciously acting out that behavior to justify why he’s right, including self-sabotaging if the threat of success comes along to challenge that model of the world.
You see, when it comes to being able to work with psychology and after thousands of hours of working with people all over the world, I’ve come to know that the undisputed first law in psychotherapeutic intervention and in other areas, the undisputed first law of personal growth is this: that people will never rise above the opinion of themselves.
Now, one of the challenges is that opinion is largely formed in our childhood years sub-7, from the perception of where we think we did or didn’t get love from the people we most wanted it from.
Hmm… I usually let people sit with that one for a while.
It also mirrors the first law of relationships, which I firmly believe, states that no one can ever love us more than we love ourselves.
Now, one of the other challenges on that is that, we are also creatures of habit. Now what does that mean? That means that the prefrontal cortex, that neo-cortex, that frontal lobe that serves all of that executive decision-making is prime real estate. In fact, the brain weighs 150th of the bodyweight but takes up 20% of all of the calories.
So, when it comes to using that frontal lobe, evolution has some shortcuts. It says, well, clearly you’re using intelligence to make the decision, so it should be a good decision. So, when you choose the fries instead of the salad, it doesn’t care, its job is to adapt.
And if you make that decision over and over again, then rather than take up critical thinking which is meant to serve you intelligently, it hands it over to the midbrain. And it becomes an unconscious behavior or pattern or what we also call a habit.