In our work around the world, The Pacific Institute employs a series of guiding principles to help individuals and organizations understand the inner workings of the human mind. Working with high performers from industry to sports, one of the things we want to make certain of is that everyone understands one very specific principle before any change process can work.
It is simply this: All meaningful and lasting change starts on the inside and then works its way out. Change imposed from the outside seldom, if ever, succeeds – in the short-term or the long-term. It all has to do with the way human beings have learned how to think. You see, we think ourselves into behaving. Our thoughts create our beliefs, and our beliefs cause our behaviors.
If you don’t change the picture in your head before you start to change anything about yourself, you will have a tendency to slip back to the old picture, the old you. That’s what happens, for example, if you force yourself to lose weight without first changing your inner picture. If you continue to see yourself as overweight in your mind’s eye, you’ll start to gain the weight back as soon as you take it off.
It is also why, if your dominant picture of yourself is as a smoker, and you try to quit, you’ll have a strong tendency to relapse once you relax the intense control it takes to stop in the first place. This same lack of a new, dominant picture is why most, if not all, New Year’s “Resolutions” are doomed to failure after a couple of weeks . . . or days.
Human beings are picture-oriented. It’s a simple fact and becomes an effective tool when we go to make changes in our behaviors. Affirmations and visualizations, journaling and meditation, are excellent ways to change your internal pictures and make sure that new behavior lasts. They help you create your reality from the inside out, which is the most consistent, reliable, and effective way to make change happen – for an individual, team, department or organization – even a nation.