We’ve all heard about the power of affirmations, but now science is helping us prove that repeating positive words and phrases actually works to help us manifest our goals. We have a bundle of nerves at the base of our skull called the Reticular Activating System or RAS for short. It has several functions including the ability to filter out data. The Reticular Activating System acts like a gatekeeper or a bouncer at a loud, crowded bar. It decides what information gets into your brain and subconscious and what information, events and experiences are kept out.
Your RAS looks for situations that will validate and prove your beliefs. It filters out things that don’t fit within your spectrum of beliefs. When you say something like, “People are so mean,” the RAS acts like a robot being programmed and seeks out people that are mean to show you and help you validate and confirm this belief. But if you say, “My life is easy and fun,” it will work hard to deliver events, people and experiences that prove your life is easy and fun. When you repeat a daily affirmation, you’re telling your RAS to create that reality for you.
Your RAS or Reticular Activating System will filter out what you expect to see. Think of a time you were in a crowded room and still somehow managed to hear your name being called. How is that you can be in a bar, a loud sports game, a concert, and yet you still hear your name called? Well that’s your RAS filtering out all that noise to deliver to you only what you need to hear. Or think of a time when you purchased a uniquely colored car like a turquoise colored van and suddenly you see turquoise colored vans everywhere. That’s your RAS filtering out and helping you to see things you are now expecting to see.
There can be up to a billion bits of data coming to us at one time. The brain can only process so much which means the RAS filter only allows certain things to come through. How does it know what to let in? By what you focus on. So if you say, “I’m so clumsy,” you will invite or only notice circumstances where you’re clumsy. People who say, “I’m always broke,” tend to always have money issues. Look for and notice the times you say, “I’m always” or “I never.” Pay attention to the words you say after your “I am” statements. They have a powerful effect on programming the RAS. Self-talk leads to belief which programs the RAS to deliver proof of your beliefs.
You need to program your RAS like a computer by telling it what to look for. The RAS can’t guess or figure out what you want. It only pays attention to what you focus on. If you’re constantly talking about how awful your job is or how lonely you are, you are telling your RAS to find and deliver to you events that prove these beliefs true. Ruben Gonzalez who wrote The Courage to Succeed, says, “Even though the cerebrum is the center of thought, it will not respond to a message unless the RAS allows it. The RAS is like Google. There are millions of websites out there, but you filter out the ones you’re not interested.”
This applies to everything you are feeding your brain. If all you watch on TV is the news or reality TV where people are always creating fights or you’re hooked on crime shows, you’re filling your RAS with programmed information that’s telling it “Life is hard. People are mean. There is scary stuff out there.” This doesn’t mean you can’t watch these TV shows or keep up with the news, but it does mean you should be aware of what you’re feeding your mind. Keep this in balance. Watch the news and then turn to an uplifting show or read a happy, positive book on spirituality.
If you start to say, “I am great with money” your RAS will start to filter this and only show you events where you’re good with money. If you say, “People love me. Success always finds me,” then this is what you’ll start to notice in your life. Think about this for a moment. Or for the rest of your life. That’s how important this is. If your RAS can filter out noise, chaos and pounding music to help you hear your name being called across a crowded room, then your RAS can also filter out the chaos of negativity to help you focus and become only the positive things you want to become.
Your brain is always looking to prove you right, to find an answer. Think about your life before google and smart phones. You’re talking to your friend about a new movie and she says, “Wasn’t he in that movie where he lost his memory and had to fight the government?” and you say, “Yes that’s him. Matt Damon.” And your friend says, “Right! What was the name of that movie?” Neither of you can remember it. But hours later, you’re doing something mindless like folding laundry and suddenly The Bourne Identity pops into your head. This is your brain, your RAS factor, working hard to filter out information in your file system and deliver the answer to you.
So how can you make your RAS work for you? In Blaine Oelkers’s Ted Talk on the RAS, his research showed you have to repeat your affirmation 100 times a day to program your Reticular Activating System.Studies show the average person looks at their home screen about 110 times a day. He recommends we take a screen shot of our goal so we’ll repeat our affirmation at least 100 times a day when we check our phones. Write it down in an "i am" statement. “I am healthy, happy, loved and loving” for example. Take a screen shot of your affirmation. Make it your screensaver and 110 times a day you will see your goal.
Our minds and our beliefs are powerful. Placebo studies have proven this. And now new research about the Reticular Activating System is showing is that we can change our beliefs – including negative thoughts. Try it today. Write down your goal, take a screen shot and wait for your RAS to deliver you opportunities, ideas and situations to turns your goals into reality.