How to Bend Reality with Your Mind

How to Bend Reality with Your Mind

Written by Emilie

Topics: Life

Wow, I had no idea how popular my post on sleep-hacking would be. It’s funny how that happens. The blog posts that do well are often the ones we think are strange, personal or off-topic (a reminder to continuously push yourself).

I’m going to continue the weirdness/psychological hacks train and write an article that I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time. I just wasn’t quite sure how to express the idea without sounding crazy. Too late there.

 ***

The first thing I want to say is that bad shit happens. Big bad shit happens. There’s often nothing that can be done about it and no one to blame. In these situation, it’s your reaction that matters.

What I’m talking about here isn’t so much the big stuff. It’s the little, everyday ups and downs– it’s not spilling your soup as you climb the stairs or not missing the bus– that sort of thing.

Automatic Negative Projections Come True

When I was applying to university (before choosing to go into film production/communication studies with a minor in music), I auditioned for a bunch of music performance programs. I’d been studying jazz guitar but was pretty nervous when it came to soloing.

While preparing for my auditions, I noticed something interesting. I’d be playing and suddenly I’d think, “this part is hard. I’m going to screw this up,” and then I would. This happened nearly every time. I’d think, “wuh-oh… I’m going to hit the wrong string,” and sure enough, I would.

The law of attraction people are right that what you focus on, you get. When you focus on really negative things, you train your mind to expect them, to make them true.

Become Self-Correcting

The big realization came to me when I was on stage, in the middle of an audition. All of the faculty members were watching, judging my performance. The moment came. I thought, “crap, this part is hard. I’m going to fumble here.” But this time I had a second thought that followed the first, and went something like: “no. I’m not going to fuck this up! The only reason I would mess up, is that I just THOUGHT I would.”

I played it perfectly.

From then on, I began applying this trick to everything. An automatic thought like, “there will be no seats left when I get to the coffee shop,” now gets followed up with, “that thought I just had is what will make it true.”

Acknowledging Your Negative Thoughts Takes the Power Out of Them

As soon as you have an automatic negative projection, become aware of it and acknowledge the fact that you thought it.

I have all kinds of fears that pop into my head as I go about my day. Even walking down the street, I sometimes imagine horrific car accidents. Instead of preventing these thoughts altogether (which is very hard to do), you just self-correct.

Notice the thought and tell yourself you had the thought. That takes the power out of it. 

Get into a habit of doing this. The more accustomed you get to acknowledging your negative thoughts and replacing them, the more automatic this process becomes.

It sounds totally woo-woo, but it absolutely works for me– not every time, but enough to make the exercise worth doing. Like my sleep-hacks, this is one of the most useful bits of knowledge that I use regularly.

Got any tricks?

Do you use any psychological hacks to “bend reality” and make it work in your favour?

36 Comments

  1. Annie says:

    I love this post. LOL. :D

    It is so true that we set ourselves up for failure sometimes–and it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    On the other hand, when we really think we’re going to do well… well, things go a lot better for us.

    I have a technique I’ve been developing recently that just annihilates negative thoughts by replacing them with new ones. The idea is to start living in a world where the negative thought can’t exist. Make it impossible for it to thrive. And soon enough, your positive thoughts will overwhelm it and become the new standard.

    I’m certainly still working on it, but it works wonders so far. :)

    • Emilie says:

      I love this idea, Annie. Living in a world where negative thoughts can’t exist. I’m totally going to try it out, though I already sort of practice this anyway. But yeah, very cool.

  2. Denise says:

    I agree with your thoughts here, but I don’t put it into practice enough.

    There are plenty of occasions where I psyched myself into success…
    and plenty of times I did the exact opposite.

    What’s interesting is that all that negative stuff ISN’T reality anyways. We worry about stuff that hasn’t even happened yet and then it does… maybe as a result of us worrying about it so much.

    • Emilie says:

      Definitely. I feel like life often delivers our worst fears to us so that we have no choice but to deal with them. That’s why acknowledging your worries is so important. Then again, coming head to head with your nightmare and striving anyway is also pretty empowering.

  3. jennifer says:

    Yup!! You are totally right. The Law of Attraction is in action all day every day. What I do when I have a thought or string of thoughts that I don’t want, I will say in my head or out loud if no one is around–”Cancel, cancel!” That way the Universe knows I’m retracting the negative thought I just had. It’s enough to pull me away from the negative thought and to help me keep sane. haha…

  4. Lesley says:

    I definitely feel what you’re saying here, Emilie. Just this year I was told that when we think negative things about ourselves or our surroundings, that that is all they are – thoughts. They are not real, they don’t exist, they are things we have conjured up in our awesomely creative but often over-active and very imaginative but sometimes-in-a-bad-way brains, and if we can acknowledge them as such — thoughts — we can take away their power.

    Now the opposite type of thinking, positive, uplifting, optimistic thinking… that’s definitely worth giving some power to and holding onto. But the negative stuff, whether it’s worrying about getting tongue-tied during an interview or never finding a job, thinking we’re unattractive or unworthy of others’ love and affection. To that, we have to say “you are a thought! you’re not real. and you don’t get to decide what happens. I do!” :D

    This is always easier said than done, but even just being aware that there’s this way of approaching negativity is so soothing, at least to me.

    • Emilie says:

      Absolutely. And you’re getting at the other side of it, which is consciously spending time focusing on the positive. I like to go on little “gratitude jogs” where I spend 20 minutes going over everything and everyone in my life that I’m grateful for. At the very least, it puts me in a fabulously positive, productive mood.

      Thanks for sharing, Lesley. :)

  5. Nicole says:

    I planned on writing a post similar to this.
    I’ve noticed this when I run. I’ve tried to run before (months ago) but it was hard for me building it up (I was doing c25k).
    This time when I was running I would keep my head up, looking straight forward and telling the woman who was encouraging me through my headphones; “Bring it on, I can do this!”. And when I started to feel like I couldn’t keep up I noticed I started looking down and thinking “Oh man, I can’t do this”. But I instantly stopped that and looked up again and told myself that I -could- do it!

    It really helped. I could run longer and I enjoyed it a lot more! :-)

    • Janet says:

      Interesting thing with running. I also notice when I look at the ground, I tend to run slower than when I keep my head up on the path and focus on something far away. This is the lesson in seeing the importance of a bigger picture. When you’re too focused on what’s in front of you (step by step), you might not be able to stay on the path.. You need both macro and micro to balance your way, but keeping your eye on the greater goal (the road/distance far away) is what keeps you going more than the mundane day to day (step by step). Buddhist monks are able to run incredibly long distances (marathon level and up) by focusing on the big mountains… That’s the right kind of meditation to take in life. :)

    • Emilie says:

      Wow, what’s interesting about this is that when your confidence dropped, your physiology changed radically. Tony Robbins talks about this (all of this actually). But in particular, using the way you stand and move to change your mood. If you want to feel confident, move the way a confident person would, project your voice, etc. It really does work.

      • Kait says:

        Wow. Not only is this article amazing and spot on, but you also mention Tony Robbins? *insert goosebumps here*
        Our minds have infinite potential. Thanks for writing this!

  6. Janet says:

    Yes I’ve had a lot of good things / manifestations come to me by visualizing, writing them down as lists, etc. Or simply declaring it out loud! It’s simply amazing.

    I would go further to say that the minute you think something positive or negative, you shape your future. It’s as if you have a ball that you throw, and with a simple flick of your wrist, subtle change could turn it one way or the other, and once you make that wrist adjustment (lets say one symbolizes positive and the other is negative), it’s already set on its path.. with a positive or negative outcome. And yes, I’m totally woowoo.

    An example: Say you have a really bad dream. 60% of the business you own is being sold without your input from your partners and you wake up pretty shaken. You give a lot of negative energy thought to it because it scares you. In real life, your partners aren’t agreeable people to be around and you don’t have a good relationship with them. The dream might represent your subconscious psyche/and your relationship not being trustful, open, communicative. Things go on in this closed path and your frustrated bottled up emotions towards your business partners lead you to start drinking more or doing riskier things that aren’t normally ‘like you’. One night, you have too much to drink with a friend and decide to drive your motorcycle.. Without a helmet. You end up in a motor accident and die. Sadly, this is a true story but this is the reality that gave me an a-ha on this concept that you really can “predict” the future based on current trends or thoughts in a very big way. It’s nothing psychic about it. It’s manifestations.. And yes, the business partners want to sell…

    • Janet says:

      OK obviously, I really love this topic ;P but I couldn’t end it negatively. I want to share my positive experiences with this!!

      So before I moved to Asia, I wrote down a bucket list. Among the list was ‘join a zen buddhist monastery to practice meditation’, learn Filipino martial arts, try modeling… And I was dreaming about love and what that would mean to me as a single person scared to commit. Whether love meant ‘just friends’, or sharing a banana leaf umbrella under tropical rainstorms (I was trying to be poetic in a blog post). Strangely enough, ALL of these things happened without effort! They just seemed to flow in my path..

      1. I got offered a lucrative career with no experience and a chance to train from the best.. But something in my gut told me this wasn’t right. After all, I wanted to build my business doing what I love and be a location independent rockstar (also on my list, and in the process right now!). I had no other opportunities at the time so I prayed for an answer or sign that if this was something I REALLY shouldn’t go for, if my intuition was right, i’ll take something better that comes along. The next day, I found the buddhist monastery opportunity on my friend’s facebook wall I was stalking (had a major crush on him). He was in Japan at the time but posted something in reply to a lonely planet thread that connected to his FB wall via app, about a zen retreat in the Philippines, the most Catholic country in Asia!!
      2. From there, I met a Filipino martial artist through a common friend and 3. another retreatant is currently a model and asked me to do a nude session with her. Why not! I got to cross modeling off my list. ;P

      4. The banana leaf umbrella thing happened with the Filipino martial artist guy when we walked the island together.. Got caught in a rainstorm in the middle of nowhere and took cover under a banana leaf.. Strangely enough, he also wrote down that he wanted to find a girl and share that moment with her, and had a vision that he would meet her at a temple!!

      • Emilie says:

        WOW- I sort of want to turn your comments into a blog post. Heh.

        I’ve had the same sorts of experiences. Seeing my ideal life manifest in real life. It takes a clear vision, really putting your intention out to the universe, consistant focus and then moving yourself in the right direction.. If you do this, then yes, the opportunities absolutely present themselves. My life in Portland is starting to look a lot like the dream life I envisioned a year ago. :)

        Thanks for the comments Janet! You’re awesome. And your life sounds super rad too.

  7. Jackie says:

    “I have all kinds of fears that pop into my head as I go about my day. Even walking down the street, I sometimes imagine horrific car accidents”

    That’s just freaky…I do the same thing, random thoughts strangely disturbing often flash into my mind (usually about my kids or people I know) I’ve got to the point that I recognise them immediately and shout NO inside my mind and visualize the word NO obliterating the picture.

    It breaks the pattern and allows me to not dwell on the negative.

  8. Tim Webster says:

    I actually think that negative thoughts are okay sometimes. To use an extreme reference, if you’re about to jump headfirst into a fireplace and you’re mind says, ‘Hey man, not your best idea’ and you ignore that negative thought, well, you’ll pay the price.

    However, a key exercise that I have been using for myself is training my mind to separate the BS negative thoughts from the real, true, survival-mode negative thoughts.

    Running helps me with this. Kung fu helped with this. The trick is to push yourself to a point of physical fatigue. When your body gets tired it will start sending messages to your brain.

    ‘Hey brain. Tell this dude I’m tired and we should stop.’

    At this point, this message is 100% BS. Your body is just tired. There is no exhaustion and no risk of injury.

    However, you need to be able to learn when your body DOES mean it and is NOT BSing you.

    I learned this a few times during my kung fu training. I would keep pushing on even though my body was telling me it was tired. ‘One more run through Jeet Kune’ Midway through a form, my eyes would get tunnel vision, the room started to go dark, and it was clear that this was my body saying, ‘Emergency shut down!’

    Finding that differentiation between BS negative thoughts, and real negative thoughts that are protecting you is key!

    • Emilie says:

      That’s true. However, in my own life I haven’t had all that many true flight/fight moments. I’d say 99% of my fears are unfounded. There’s been the odd emergency (I’m certainly very lucky), but I think in general, most of our fears are “BS.”

      The impulse definitely comes from a genuine place though. Our body truly does want to protect us. It just can’t tell the difference between say, a bear in the woods, and a first date.. lol.

  9. Terry says:

    Emilie,

    And I thought I was alone in imagining all sorts of catastrophes or things going wrong! I would suddenly find myself ‘running videos’ in my head of things going wrong.

    I must have been doing this for a long time without noticing. Then, after reading the amazing book by Lynn Grabhorn, “excuse me your life is waiting”, I realised I had to stop doing it.

    As you say, just acknowledging them helped a little. But then I used different techniques, like seeing the video turn black and white, then disappear into a small dot – like turning off an old telly.

    Today they are almost gone. And it’s making a difference in how I feel.

    Terry

    • Emilie says:

      Very cool, I’ll have to check out that book. I’ve done similar exercises to get over limiting beliefs and painful past experiences. I’ve had mixed results, though sometimes it works wonders.

      Thanks for sharing, Terry.

  10. Juventud says:

    Damn! Emilie, you are my alter ego. You speak my mind. I have always had this thing in my mind but was too afraid to share it. You have baffled me just once again. I shared this thought only with my younger brother cause he understands me. I didn’t even share it with my best friends, though all call me names like crazy, weird, psycho etc. But I believe people who are a little weird have the thinking power they can think those things that don’t make sense to so called normal people but actually are true. I’m glad i’m a weird geek. I have one more thing to add here. Same thing happens with the positive thought because if you have a positive thought in your mind and you share it with others, you lose its power. Tc

  11. Johan says:

    Good post, like it.

    It’s all about framing – however you chose to interpret events, etc.

    We’re all delusional and project our own reality onto the world.

    Might as well make it useful!

    I used to filter information through negativity. It lead to nowhere.

    Now, after a year or so of making it a habit, I have a hard time not being positive.

    Habits, framing, and delusion.

  12. My ultimate, super, ridiculous, hack-your-entire-soul, be-all-end-all trick is swiped directly from Abraham-Hicks (my role models in LoA):

    Every morning I wake up and write/think/say this:

    “Let my dominant intention today to be one of Feeling Good.”

    I also repeat this before bed.

    I also use it many many times throughout the day, I made it habit a long time ago, and it is my Single Greatest Habit.

    I highly recommend it.

    Try it.

    It rocks your socks.

  13. Rhii says:

    My trick for these thoughts when they get out of control is to remind myself (and sometimes others) that IF everything does go wrong I’d rather only live it once rather than ten thousand times in my head and then AGAIN in reality.
    It’s a great way to deal with the thoughts when you get into a ‘yeah but’ spiral (like ‘I’m going to miss the bus!’ ‘wait, that thought is what will make it true’ ‘yeah but if I miss the bus I’m going to be SO late and…’)
    It works really well on nay sayers too – when they tell you your life/business/etc. will crash and burn & you go ‘okay, well if I do end up with no money and friends living under a bridge because of this one chance I took then I’d rather only do it once so I’m not going to focus on that now’ they get no power & give up. Leaving you to focus on that beach in Bali you’re aiming for instead.

  14. Melayahm says:

    Have to say, I’ve never really been convinced by this. If it were really true that whatever negative thoughts you have come true, then all my boyfriends would have been killed in car accidents when they were only late, my daughter would have been drowned, I would have been attacked on walks home in the dark, I would have no job because I’d have failed every interview, and I’d have every ailment from brain tumours to bowel cancer! I think my mind works on the elimination technique – If I’ve thought of it, it won’t happen, because every disaster I’ve ever thought of has never yet happened, so it’s kind of like magical thinking. I know it’s probably not true, so I guess its a habit I’ve gotten into.

  15. I think the ‘every negative thought comes true’ could be better phrased as:

    ‘every negative HABIT comes true’

    and connected with that:

    ‘every single negative thought paves an easier path towards habitual negative thought.’

    Does that clarify things?

  16. We are energy. That is all we are. We are always creating, whether we are intending to do this…..or not. I have had a bit of practice at this and the outcomes have actually scared me, as to how powerful it can be. Don’t like to think about all of the bad things in my life that I have actually created or caused…….completely by default. I am currently working on visualising my book being endorsed by Ellen Degeneres. I told my publisher that I would bring him something to remind him of my commitment to get the whole publishing team on board. (Similar to the guy that wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul). I left the meeting with my publisher and went to the mall to shop. I walked by a store that had a LIFE SIZE cardboard photo of……guess who…….Ellen Degeneres. The girl in the store said that she didn’t need it anymore and actually had another one out back. I drove back to my publishers office within only 1 hour with “Ellen”! She now lives there and another one in my office to continue to visualise her assisting me to launch my book to the world. My little book that would make a big difference to some people. So, yes…………this “stuff” is certainlly bending my reality! :)

  17. Mike says:

    Great info in article and comments thanks …figure out one’s nature and evolve it to suit your needs and the needs of others…question everything nature does not lie it holds all the answers to what your heart’s desire is and will help you achieve it. from the smallest insect to the largest creature we all try to survive to live another day or try to escape for a better life if we are aware one can exist.

    In my experience external objects like for example a horseshoe (facing up) over the doorway actually helps with good luck because even if I believe in it or not… does not matter the idea that it does bring good luck has been placed and stored in my auto-memory (sub-conscious)so please note the external environment can also have an effect on reality as well to trigger internal dialog…in theory if one surrounds oneself with beauty inside and out what a beautiful life one will have…but than again sh!t happens when it does turn it into manure it will help your seeds grow!

  18. Mike says:

    here is an analogy I like to sum this up with:
    We are farmers with a bag of seeds in hand planting them into the ground some seeds are bad some are good the smart farmer realizes before planting a bad seed or digs it back up and throws it away while planting in the earth only good seeds nurturing them to grow with the sun and water.

    seeds=thoughts
    planting=the impression the thought makes on us
    earth=mind (important to eat right so that it has the proper nutrients)
    sun=pondering the thought(light)
    water=action taken to bring the thought into reality

    hope this helps

  19. sarah says:

    the same thing happened while I was playing guitar. what happened was as I had to perform in front of the class I would just shut down and think to myself “Oh No im going to forget the notes!” and I did. later on while still taking guitar my teacher noticed I was using a right handed guitar instead of a left handed. (im left handed) after I got the strings sorted I had to perform in front of the class and I thought to myself ” I can totally do this and the only reason I couldn’t last time was because I was using the guitar wrong.” well I passed with flying colours. now I don’t think it was the guitar that did it. two years later I got bored of guitar so I guess I will never know.

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