October 17th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina Email this article to a friend
One of the key models for goal achievement is that of cause and effect. This model says that your goal is an effect to be achieved, and your task is to identify and then create the cause that will produce the desired effect, thereby achieving your goal.
Sounds simple enough, right?
However, the main problem with this model is that nearly everyone seriously misunderstands it. And that misunderstanding comes from not knowing what a “cause” really is.
You might assume that the cause of an effect would be a series of physical and mental actions leading up to that effect. Action-reaction. If your goal is to make dinner, then you might think the cause would be the series of preparation steps.
To an outside observer, that certainly appears to be the case. The scientific method would suggest that this is how things work, based on a purely objective observation.
However, within your own consciousness, you know that the series of action steps is not the real cause. The actions are themselves an effect, aren’t they?
What’s the real cause? The real cause is the decision you made to create that effect in the first place. That’s the moment you said to yourself, “Let it be” or “make it so.” At some point you decided to make dinner. That decision may have been subconscious, but it was still a decision. Without that decision the dinner would never manifest. That decision ultimately caused the whole series of actions and finally the manifestation of your dinner.
Where does that decision arise from? It might arise from your subconscious, or in the case of conscious decisions, it arises from your consciousness. Ultimately your consciousness is the greater power, as it can override subconscious choices once it becomes aware of them.
Missing this very simple distinction has contributed to quite a number of failed goals.
If you want to achieve a goal you’ve set, the most crucial part is to DECIDE to manifest it. It doesn’t matter if you feel it’s outside your control to do so. It doesn’t matter if you can’t yet see how you’ll get from A to B. Most of those resources will come online AFTER you’ve made the decision, not before.
If you don’t understand this simple step, then you will waste a lot of time. Step 1 is to decide. Not to ruminate or to ponder or to ask around and see whether or not you can do it. If you want to start your own business, then decide to make it so. If you want to be married and have a family, then decide to attract a mate. If you want to change careers, then decide to do so.
It blows my mind that people think that something else has to come before the decision. People waste months trying to figure out, “Is this goal possible?” And this makes a lot of sense to do so if you’re at a certain level of consciousness. But all you’re really doing is creating delay, and you’ll simply manifest evidence to suggest that the goal is both possible and not possible. You think doubt in your head, you find doubt in the world.
Time and again I’ve seen evidence that not only people, but the universe itself, can sense a lack of commitment to a goal. Have you ever heard someone tell you about a goal of theirs, and you can just sense how wishy-washy and uncertain they are about it? They say things like, “Well, I’m going to try this and see how it goes. Hopefully it will work out OK.” Is that evidence that a clear decision has been made? Not remotely. Are you going to help this person? Probably not — who wants to waste their time on someone who isn’t committed?
But what happens when you sense total certainty in the other person? Will you help them if they ask for it? You’re far more likely to help a committed person because you can tell they’re eventually going to succeed anyway, and you want to be part of that success. You even feel more energized and motivated yourself to contribute to the success of people who are very clearly committed to a goal that resonates with you and which is genuinely for the greatest good of all.
Don’t you think this process works the same way within your own mind? If your consciousness is divided against itself, do you think it will commit all its internal resources to your goal? Will your subconscious give you all the energy and creativity it possibly could, or will it hold back? Think of your subconscious mind as a multi-tasking computer processor. What percentage of resources will it devote to a task that you’ve told it to execute with the words, “Run this for a little bit and see if it works, but quickly dump it if it seems too difficult”? Now what if you gave that CPU a process labeled, “Run this now”?
The universe itself works on the same principle. Think of it as the superconscious mind. When you’ve made a clear, committed decision, it will open the universal floodgates, bringing you all the resources you need, sometimes in seemingly mysterious or impossible ways.
Whenever you want to set a new goal for yourself, start by setting it. Take the time to become clear about what you want, but then just declare it.
Say to the universe, “Here is the goal. Make it so.”
Do not ask the universe for what you want. Declare it. Don’t ask. This is very similar to prayer, but you are not praying FOR what you want. You are praying WHAT you want. You are simply saying, “Here it is. Make it so.” It is like planting a seed in the ground. You do not say to the ground, “Here is the seed. Please, can you make it grow?” You simply plant the seed, and it will grow as a natural consequence of your planting and tending to it. It is the same with your intentions. Simply plant them. There’s no need to beg.
Intend that your goal manifest in such a manner that is for the greatest good of all. This is very important, as intentions that are created out of fear or a sense of lack will backfire. You may get what you want, but it will yield a bitter aftertaste. Or you may get the exact opposite of what you want. But intentions that are genuinely made for your own good and the greatest good of all will tend to manifest in a positive way.
After I declare my intention, I wait for the resources and synchronicities to arrive. Usually they begin to manifest in 24-48 hours, sometimes sooner. Sometimes these synchronicities appear to be the result of subconscious action. I just happen to notice things that may have been there all along, but now I see them in a new light, and they become resources for me that I never noticed until after I declared my intention. But many times it’s nearly impossible to explain such synchronicities as the result of my own subconscious action, even if I step back and try to look at them purely objectively. Sometimes they come in such unusual avalanches that I can only explain them as the result of superconscious action. On some level the universe itself is aware of my intention and is doing its part to help manifest it. I also find that the more inviting I am of these synchronicities, the more easily they flow. Right now I typically experience about 10 per week on average, and I think that’s because I have many different intentions in the process of manifesting, so there’s a constant flow of resources coming to me.
The mental and physical planning and action steps come later. That’s how I organize the resources that have arrived. Once enough resources have come to me, I can begin to see how they all fit together to achieve the goal. But if the path seems too complicated or difficult and I don’t like what I see, I put out some new intentions to make it the way I want it to be. I declare, “Let it be simpler.” I again wait for the synchronicities to arrive, and a simpler approach becomes clear. Usually for an approach to be simpler, it means I have to get past some personal block within me. I have to grow on some level in order to be able to take advantage of a simpler solution. Or perhaps I have to learn a new skill first. So while it might be simpler, it might also be harder on a personal level. For example, by putting out the intention to do more to help people, I had to develop my communication skills. That makes the goal easier to achieve, but it’s more work up front.
It took me a number of years to be able to trust this approach before I could begin to use it as my default manner of goal achievement. I have to be open to achieving goals in unusual ways sometimes. I get what I intend, but not always what I expect. So when the synchronicities begin dropping me clues, I do not always understand how they’ll be part of the path to the goal. But invariably there’s an intelligence at work, and if I trust it, it will work just fine. Usually it will bring me new information first, so I can raise my own awareness and knowledge to the level required to achieve the goal.
For example, if you declare your goal to become wealthier, within a few days you might see all sorts of synchronicities related to spirituality. They may seem to have nothing to do with wealth whatsoever. So you figure it’s just a coincidence, and the approach isn’t working. But the approach is sound, and it is working. Most likely it’s a signal that the path to wealth first requires you to improve your consciousness. This is especially true if your intention was for the highest good of all. If you become wealthy before your energy and consciousness have reached a certain level, then greater material wealth may only feed your problems — your goal cannot yet manifest for the greatest good of all. But if you first learn to use your energy and consciousness positively, then the greater resources that wealth provides you will be a positive manifestation instead of a negative one.
In truth this is a simple and direct process. But our minds are so cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam of social conditioning that we have a hard time thinking on this level. We get so attached to seeing our goals manifest a certain way because that’s how they manifest in TV shows or in movies. Or maybe that’s how our parents or friends did it. But this attachment to a particular “how” blocks us from allowing our goals to manifest far more easily. If we could loosen up a bit on the “how” and just learn to allow the manifestation to occur in its own perfect way, goal achievement would be far easier.
So often I see people sabotage their own goals because they do not understand the power of intention. Realize that EVERY thought is truly an intention. Every thought. So most people manifest a cluttered mish-mash of conflict in their lives because their thoughts are in conflict. They simultaneously set a goal and then unset it. “I want to start my own business.” “I wonder if it will work.” “I wonder if I’ll succeed.” “Maybe this won’t work.” “Maybe John is right, and this is a mistake.” “No, I’m pretty sure it will work just fine.”
If you are trying to achieve goals on the level of action-reaction, meaning that you’re purely focused on the action steps, while at the higher level of intention-manifestation, you’re putting out conflicting thoughts, then you’re sabotaging yourself. If you go on a diet and exercise like crazy, while all the while thinking, “I’m fat. This is hopeless. This is taking too long,” then your higher level intentions will override your actions, and negative or incongruent results will follow.
If you want to achieve a goal, you must clear out all the “hopefully” and “maybe” and “can’t” nonsense from your consciousness. You cannot allow yourself the luxury of a negative thought, and that is an intention to manifest what you don’t want. This takes practice of course, but it is the essential art of learning to use your consciousness to create what you want. When you are congruent in your thoughts, your goal will manifest with ease. But when you are incongruent in your thoughts, you will manifest conflict and obstacles. As within, so without.
Why is it you’re able to do this? Because you have that power. Not believing in yourself simply means you’re using your own power against yourself. You’re like a god saying, “Let me be powerless,” and you don’t even realize it. If you think/intend weakness, you manifest weakness. If you project your power outside yourself and onto the external world, you lose your power.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to do this. It is a natural human ability. But it takes practice to develop your consciousness to the level where you can apply it and especially to learn to trust it.
What happens if you decide to manifest a really, really big goal, one that seems physically impossible? The process will still work. It’s just that there will be a lot more steps, and you may be led through various synchronicities for years before you’ve reached the point where your ultimate goal can manifest. It might take longer than your human lifetime if the goal is so big. But you will certainly make progress if you use this approach.
So what is your goal? Say it out loud right now, and let it be for the greatest good of all. Then say to the universe, “Make it so.” Wait for the synchronicities and unusual coincidences to arrive. Follow them where they want to lead you, even if it seems strange at first. Allow your goal to manifest.
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Throughout much of our lives, instead of following our bliss, we’re busy trying to avoid being seen a certain way. Perhaps we’re designing our lives to make sure we aren’t perceived as selfish, arrogant, weak, incompetent or something else. Whatever way we don’t want others to see us, the compulsion to make sure others don’t think of us like that feels overwhelming. Our anxiety about being viewed the wrong way can be so intense that it’s almost as if we’d be hurt or destroyed if others ever learned the “awful truth” about us.
We don’t want people to hold these beliefs about us because, on some level, we’re convinced that those beliefs are true. We’d have no reason to fear someone calling us incompetent, for instance, if we didn’t have a deep-seated conviction that we actually are. Not only that—we believe, consciously or otherwise, that if people discovered our “dark secret,” no one would want anything to do with us. We’d be left completely alone and helpless.
Given how scary this is, it’s no surprise we put so much effort into making sure no one finds out the “awful truth” about us. Each person’s approach to covering up their dark secret depends on what the secret is. For instance, people who believe deep down that they’re powerless might strive to accumulate possessions and prestige to convince the world they’re actually powerful. People who see themselves as weak might go out of their way to act tough and convince others they’re actually strong. People who think of themselves as insignificant may talk loudly and incessantly to make sure others know that they matter. And so on.
Unfortunately, the strategies we use to prevent others from seeing us in certain ways often achieve the opposite of what they’re supposed to do. Human beings are highly empathic creatures, and we can readily tell when someone is trying to prevent us from seeing something about them. Even if we don’t know exactly what they’re trying to conceal with their behavior, we get a vague sense of unease, as if something isn’t quite right about them.
For instance, when we see someone bullying or being overly critical of others, we can often tell immediately that they’re trying to compensate for their own feelings of weakness. When we see someone talking loudly and nonstop, we can easily see that they’re trying to conceal their feelings of shyness or unimportance. In other words, by trying so hard to make sure others don’t think something about us, we often ensure that they think exactly that, or at least that they feel uncomfortable around us.
Even more unfortunately, often we’ve been using these behaviors to cover up the “awful truth” about ourselves for so long that we’ve forgotten that other approaches to living are possible. The bragging we do to conceal our sense of inadequacy, the overwork we use to hide our feeling of laziness, and so on become unconscious and automatic, and sometimes we aren’t even aware that we’re doing them.
A Process of Self-Knowledge
The good news is that, if we can find the places where we’re trying to conceal a perceived inadequacy in ourselves, we can make great strides toward achieving our goals in life. When we let go of the strategies we’re using to make sure people don’t perceive us a certain way, life becomes easier and more fulfilling.
How do we gain this valuable self-knowledge? In working on myself and with clients, I usually think of it as a three-step process, which I’ll describe below. This type of self-discovery can take a while—you aren’t likely to come up with definitive answers the first time you ponder these questions. Moreover, it’s sometimes difficult to answer these questions on your own, and the outside perspective of another person or a group can often help you arrive at the answers where your own efforts cannot. However, I’ve found that the rewards, if you follow through with this process, can be tremendous.
1. Find Your False Core
We can start by pondering this question: what’s the worst thing someone could find out about me? Or, to put it differently, what do I try to ensure that no one thinks about me? For instance, am I determined to make sure no one thinks I’m irresponsible, unattractive, helpless, or something else? When you come to the answer, you’ll likely have a strong, instinctive feeling that you’ve found the truth, and perhaps a sense that many of your behaviors and hangups “make sense” in a way they didn’t before.
Psychologist Stephen Wolinsky, in his book The Way Of The Human, has a great term for the “darkest secret” each of us believes to be true about ourselves: the “False Core.” The False Core, in his view, is a belief we unconsciously adopt as infants to explain why, in the process of being born, we were physically separated from our mothers. In other words, our young minds assume we must have been detached from our mothers because something is wrong with us, and the False Core is what we believe to be the problem.
Whenever something happens to us that “proves the False Core right”—when someone really does see us as incompetent, selfish, or whatever our False Core is, we relive the suffering we endured in being separated from our mothers. The threat of this pain is the reason we try so hard to conceal the False Core. But ultimately, the False Core is, as its name implies, false—it’s an incorrect conclusion we draw about ourselves when we’re too young to understand how the birth process works.
Of course, you don’t have to accept Wolinsky’s ideas about how the False Core comes about to find the concept useful. You can just think of the False Core as a deep-seated negative belief you hold about yourself and are designing your life to cover up.
See if you can find your own False Core by asking the questions I described above. If it’s hard for you to think of what you’re most afraid of people finding out, think for a second about an embarrassing or painful moment you regularly replay in your mind. And ask yourself: what did people say, or believe, about you in that moment that created so much suffering? Or, what were you most afraid that they’d concluded about you? Answering this question may help reveal your False Core.
For instance, one of the ways I recognized my own False Core was by thinking about a particularly painful argument I’d had with an ex-partner, and tended to find myself mentally reliving. One day, I recognized that, when I replayed the interaction in my mind, I kept having the thought “she wouldn’t have said that to me unless she thought I was powerless to get back at her.” In that moment, I recognized how deeply I feared being seen by others as helpless or powerless. “I’m powerless,” I realized, was my False Core.
2. Find Your False Self
In Wolinsky’s terms, the “False Self” is the face we show the world, or the set of strategies we use, to make sure people don’t see our False Core—i.e., perceive us in ways we don’t want to be seen. For example, someone with a False Core of “I’m helpless” might create a False Self like “I never ask for anything from anyone, and I always take care of everyone else.” This person might do all the chores and pay all the bills in their family, and refuse to allow anyone else to take responsibility for those tasks, no matter how overworked they became.
To discover your own False Self, ask yourself: what behaviors do I use to make sure no one sees my False Core? In other words, what do I do to ensure that people never see the part of me I want to hide? For instance, if your False Core is “I’m bothersome to people,” perhaps your False Self is meek and quiet, and shies away from interacting with people to make sure you don’t “bother” them. Similarly, if your False Core is “I’m too emotional,” maybe your False Self is cold, deadpan or robotic.
In my own case, when I recognized that my False Core is “I’m powerless,” many of the anxieties I’d had in my life began to make sense—and, interestingly, to feel less intense. For a long time, I was extremely driven to acquire money, prestige and credentials in my work. Lurking in the background was a constant fear that people would discover some inadequacy about me if I didn’t work hard enough. My “workaholism,” I realized, was an aspect of the False Self I used to compensate for my feeling of powerlessness.
3. Notice How Your False Self Is Limiting You
Once you have an understanding of your False Core and False Self, you’ll likely start to see some of the ways your False Self has been limiting your fulfillment and achievement in life. Most importantly, when you become conscious of how these behaviors are holding you back, you start to feel a greater sense of choice around how you live—and perhaps even that you don’t need your False Self to get along in the world at all.
For example, when I started having the intuition that I was designing my life to make sure people didn’t see that I was powerless, I came up with a surprisingly long list of behaviors I was using to make sure no one saw my False Core. As I mentioned earlier, overworking was one example, but there were many others. I tended to be overly agreeable, and avoid conflict in, my relationships to make sure my partner never did or said anything that would have me feel powerless. I held back from introducing myself to strangers for the same reasons. And the list went on and on.
Making this list was initially depressing, as it showed me how significantly the fear that others might perceive my False Core affected the decisions I made. However, this list also gave me profound guidance about the changes I wanted to make in my life, and has helped me come to my activities in life from a place of genuine passion and excitement, rather than one of anxiety.
I invite you to try making your own list. Write down the False Core and False Self you’ve discovered within yourself, and then put down all the ways the False Self you’ve adopted has been holding you back in life. A brief example of such a list might look like this:
|I must never be seen as:
|To make sure people don’t see me that way, I:
|My False Self limits me in these ways:|
|Obnoxious||Keep really quiet and make sure I never upset anyone||1. It’s hard for me to meet people2. I have trouble asking for a raise at work
3. I have trouble taking leadership positions
4. I feel like others take advantage of my meekness
When you have a clear idea of the behaviors that are limiting you in life, and the fears that motivate those behaviors, you experience not only a sense of freedom to choose different behaviors, but also a sense of peace. With an understanding of the false ideas about yourself that have held you back comes the realization that what you are, in your essence, is far too extraordinary and beautiful to be expressed in any idea or belief.
Copyright © 2008 Christopher R. Edgar. All rights reserved.
Christopher R. Edgar is an author and success coach certified in hypnotherapy and NLP. He helps professionals transition to careers aligned with their true callings. He may be reached at http://www.purposepowercoaching.com.