People are always asking me about ‘inner game’. How to improve yourself internally, how to materialise goals in your head, how to become more this or get more of that, etc. I’ve tended to not go into this too much as 1) It has not been my area of speciality, and 2) A lot of people looking for inner game methods are trying to substitute the physical actions which they know are necessary, but would rather not do.
But here are my thoughts.
It’s more about you than the method
To start, the main thing that I have learnt about inner game it is that, much like infield game or pretty much anything else in life, results are reliant on about 90% the user and only 10% the method. This accounts for the vast differences in results attained from any inner game technique or method. It’s YOU that makes it work, much more than it working for you.
In short, if you really feel that something has value, then it will. If it sits well with you, it resonates with you, and you believe in its effectiveness, then that, whatever that may be, is a great technique for you to put into practice. Either way, you should be constantly reminding yourself that it is the value that YOU place upon the technique, and how YOU put it into use, YOUR discipline, the drive and passion that YOU instil in yourself whilst using it – that is going to be the main factor in how much it helps you.
What do I do?
I get asked this a lot. Personally I make it a daily practice to put aside 30 minutes of time for this stuff, twice a day. First I relax and calm my mind with simple presence meditation – focusing on my breathing and emptying my mind of thoughts as they arrive (here is a great vid from RSD to help with that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a5fO8jE7mc – also one of the books he mentions in this, ‘Do You’ is one of the best books I’ve ever read). I generally do this for about 15 minutes, and then spend the remaining time in 5 minute increments thinking about my top 3 goals. The most effective method that I have found is simple verbal affirmations (“I am now …”), repeated over, and integrating visualisation of that goal as I do. Now, people will scrutinise this technique just like any other, but it works for me because:
1) Because of the beliefs that I forged, through years of obsessive research into the mind/reality relationship. Starting from when I read The Power of Your Subconscious Mind in my late teens, right through till now, I have developed an unwaveringly certain belief that we can use our minds to shape our lives. Without this key ingredient – the belief in this relationship – any recipe for self-improvement is bound to fail.
2) Because of the results that I have seen from this method in the past – some little, some very significant. In a nutshell, I have done this ‘mind work’ on and off for periods of my life for several years, and the life that I am living now is the life that I envisioned a few years ago almost exactly. Of course – be careful what you wish for, your goals and direction will change as you do.
If you find yourself scrutinising over methods, it’s your faith in this mind/reality relationship which needs attending to, not the methods. As long as you’re spending discipline time guiding your mind towards what you want on a daily basis, and taking action that is in sync with that, you’re on the right path.
Do results come right away? No. But does this practice get me on path to getting the things that I want? Definitely. Do results appear magically out of the clear blue sky? Nope. Does one thing lead to another, which leads to another, which brings me the results that I want, eventually? Yep.
Spending disciplined time each day to mentally focus on a goal, let’s say for example becoming more confident, will not simply and automatically make you more confident. But what it will do is direct your mind towards the things that WILL make those changes. On a scientific level, the part of your brain that finds ‘proof’ of your dominant thoughts – your Reticular Activating System – will open you to possibilities that you may not have even seen before. That book on confidence on the bookstore stand that you would have not even noticed otherwise, you now see and buy. The social, confident people who once intimidated you, you now see as an opportunity and decide to get to know. I do not really believe in a magical force governing this (as per The Secret – although a great, even if cheesy, movie), I simple believe that our minds are incredibly powerful, much more powerful that we’re lead to believe in our culture, and direct us towards the things that which we think about.
And herein lies the reason that it’s very easy to become problem ridden, stressed, depressed in our world. Our minds get so swept up in the chaos of day to day and media life – work, money, murder, famine, GFC, the kids, university – the belief that life happens TO us rather than BECAUSE of us – that it’s very easy to go absolutely insane and feel utterly helpless. Our driver in life – our subconscious mind – in this case becomes a gutter of trash, swirling around and around, rather than having a positive direction.
Relax and go with it
We live in an age where surgeons can perform operations on people under hypnosis and where top coaches and performers, people who have already succeeded, preach the power of the mind. I believe that if I managed to put someone into a deep trance and convince them that touching a refrigerator on a daily basis would give them more confidence, or perhaps even cure a minor illness, it would work. And yet I see guys trawling through ebook after ebook, method after method, to find the magical trick that will certainly make all their dreams come true, discarding one after the other on their quest. I see this a lot – guys approaching a method or technique and demanding its success before they even really giving it a good shot. What happens when you approach a girl with a huge expectation on yourself to make this one specific interaction go perfectly? Yes, you very likely stuff it up. You just have too much riding on it that you don’t relax in the present and go with the flow. As opposed to when you approach with the mentality of “Oh, cute girl, I’ll say hi and see what happens”, in which case it always works out much better. I think that inner game is exactly the same. In an ironic sense, I believe that you need both strong intention of getting what you want, and becoming who you want, while at the same time maintaining a sense of detachment, and not relying on it for your happiness.
Advice 1 – Research
So back to the point, my first piece of advice on inner game would be to simply do your research. You need to understand WHY this works rather than just another method that worked for someone else. If you do not understand or believe how much your mind and thought patterns influence your life, then any success with inner game will be limited and you will not have the discipline to continue. The world is at your fingertips (internet), so get Googling. Learn about how and why you can use your mind to improve your life. Follow what feels right to you and you will carve your path.
Advice 2 – Discipline
In today’s world we’re disciplined enough to go to the gym three times a week, disciplined enough to work hard in the office to make budgets, but we do nothing with debatably the most important thing in our lives – our minds. Like I said, I do my mind work daily, and anytime that I do let that slip and stop for whatever reason, the results are VERY obvious. I start to lose track, get lost, get stressed, motivation drops. Once you find something, a method or technique which resonates with you, give it the time and effort that it deserves. Your faith should carry you through. As soon as you get some results, even minor ones, your belief in your mind’s ability will grow, and then it becomes a fantastic cycle of result = more confidence in the practice = more results = more confidence in the practice. But just like a quick trip to the gym won’t make you huge, your results won’t come over night. You’re likely reprograming a very polluted or habitual mind, and redirecting from a path that you’ve been on for a long time, so give it time. The time in between now and getting what you want is the best time. It’s the time of lessons and growth which will make you a better person.
You can’t just sit on a mountain top and pray for things to come. You need to take action that is in sync with the things that you’re desiring and the goals that you’re thinking of. And he bigger the action, the bigger the payoff. If you’re focusing on making more money, great – but you need to take action also. Go buy a book, go ask someone that you know is good with money, review your business plan – anything. Taking action is more important than taking the right action. Remember, once you begin tuning your mind in to your goal, with regular disciplined practice, your intuition will begin to give you hints or little ideas on what actions you can do. The action doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be something.
Find your emotional payoffs
Perhaps you might also have to examine what you’re getting from wherever you are in life now. You’re there due to your choices, and are likely staying there due to some kind of emotional payoff. It’s a tough cookie for any of us to chew. “So you’re saying that I like this shit place that I’m in now?” No, I’m not, but you’re not far off. What I’m saying is that emotions are incredibly addictive, even negative ones. Our minds will do ANYTHING in order for the world around us to make sense. We cling to what we know in order to feel in control. If you’re comfortable in a ‘bad’ place, you better believe that your mind is sabotaging you from moving forward. From example, I think that victim mentalities are the most addictive because there are a ton of potential payoffs varying from not having to take on the responsibility of taking action, to fear of failure, to even maintaining a sense of superiority (“The world is fucked, I see through it all, so I’ll sit over here and watch it all burn down”). Point being, if you’re somewhat interested in improving your life or mentality, but on a very deep level you feel (maybe even unconsciously) comfortable and content where you are, change will be harder. Definitely not impossible, just harder if you’re unknowingly self-sabotaging. So an examination of your emotional payoffs is also very handy for internal change. And don’t mix this up with just positivity. I’m not a preacher of Ned Flanders style ‘happy happy joy joy’ thinking. In fact I think that most contemporary notions of positive thinking are delusional. THE most powerful place to be is also the most negative. It’s the time after you’ve crumbled where you lift your head and go “Fuck this! No, seriously, FUCK THIS!” and you are compelled to do something. Drive is overall THE biggest factor in any kind of change, and when it reaches such a point of either going to top yourself, or DOING SOMETHING, son, you’re about to hit light speed.
Don’t fuck with fate
The last thing that I will say about inner game IS a little woo-woo, and that is, don’t fuck with fate. Sometimes life has in store for you things that you cannot even see. Many times I have pleaded and longed for things which have consistently eluded me, reached depths of unhappiness when what I was chasing trailed off to nowhere … only to realise later down the track that it was not the best thing for me, or that something better was awaiting me. The whys and whats behind this, I don’t know – nor do I really care, I just accept it as ‘is’. Sometimes, you just need to accept and have faith.
I would also highly recommend supplementing any inner game endeavour with one of physical exercise. Gym, sport, anything which gets your blood pumping and endorphins flowing. I’ve personally found the two are very much related and beneficial to each other.
Hopefully that answers my thoughts on the matter 🙂
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