The power of “I Don’t!”
Words are powerful. The words that we agree with in our minds have the ability to influence our behaviours. These words are called “mental agreements.”
Mental agreements can be either positive or negative. An example of a positive mental agreement would be, “I agree with myself that I will be faithful to my wife.” The marriage vow is an illustration.
A negative mental agreement would be, “I agree with myself that I will never forgive that person.”
Mental agreements have a fixed and rigid quality to them. You can see the force and energy that is involved in a mental agreement.
The “words” involved in mental agreements play a very big role in our lives.
Often, we are not aware that these mental agreements are present. They can just exist in our consciousness and shape our behaviour without our knowing that they are there.
We Are What We Believe!
The words that we believe directly affect out actions. For example, if I believe that exercise will help me maintain a healthy heart, then I will be more likely to go for walks and work out on an elliptical exercise machine.
Many beliefs are superficial and consequently the actions related to them can fluctuate. For example. I think sugar is bad for me, but I don’t really know for sure, so I eat sugar filled desserts from time to time. I am not committed to my belief about sugar, so my actions can vary from one day to the next.
A mental agreement is a stronger form of belief. The words “never” and “always” tend to be connected to a mental agreement.
When we believe strongly about something, the actions relating to the belief tend to be more consistent over time.
The Power of Likes
When I believe that I like something, my will can more easily align with that belief.
For example, I say to myself that I like to play golf. I have had experiences where it pleases me to hit a ball long and straight. Therefore, it is more likely that I will join the men on Thursday morning and play a round of golf with them. My behaviour is influenced by my “like”.
People who smoke cigarettes have been heard to say that they want to quit smoking, but the reality is that they “like” to smoke. Often the like is stronger than the dislike, so they continue to smoke.
Cravings Are Even Stronger Than Likes
A craving is defined as a “powerful desire for something.” In the mind, the thought is that I really, really want this thing that I desire. The brain is signalling that “I want this thing now.” The action then flows from the belief, so that the desired reward can be received.
Addictions Can Result from Such Beliefs
When a craving grows and when that craving satisfies a particular need, as in relieving a pain or producing a pleasure, the pattern can become compulsive and turn into an addiction. We are what we believe. So, the belief is now supported by the addictive mental agreement. Example: “I agree with myself that I need to partake in my addiction now.”
At the very beginning of any addiction is the mental agreement that I need to do something and that it is okay to do it.
The Brain is Only Able to Hold One Thought At a Time
The power of “I don’t” stems from the fact that the brain can only process one thought at a time. If I accept the mental agreement that “I don’t smoke/drink/lust etc.” then I am agreeing with myself in a powerful way to not do the action. Since “I don’t” is a mental agreement, it can forcefully push out the addictive thought that I need to do something, and now the problem thinking has less ability to control the mind.
The key is to be aware of and take control of the specific thought at the very first moment that the thought/desire enters the mind, and then replace it with an “I don’t.” statement.
“I Don’t” Is a 100% Commitment, Not a Half-hearted Statement
When I agree with myself that “I don’t,” there is much less wiggle room for the problem thinking to be present.
I was working with an alcoholic and I tried to get him to come into agreement with the words “I don’t drink!” He could not say the words because he knew that he wanted to drink, and these words eliminated that possibility. He knew he would be lying, so he could not say it.
How the Brain Works
The principle of the brain is “Use it or lose it.” The words that you use expand and create neuronal connections that are physically in the brain. The more you use a word or story, the more powerful it becomes in your brain.
The more often you repeat the “I don’t” story, the stronger it becomes.
Take the Challenge Today!
- Become aware of the thought or desire
- Note the words of the specific desire or craving.
- Turn the desire into an “I don’t statement.”
- Repeat the “I don’t” statement frequently to build the neural pathway.
- When tempted, stop the negative thought and replace it with the “I don’t” statement.
- Praise yourself when you succeed.