What is the winning feeling? That’s a question you won’t have to ask once you have it. You’ll know it. But for now I’ll define it as an overwhelming feeling of confidence and faith — a feeling that there’s no doubt whatsoever that you will succeed. When you have this feeling, you’re on top of the world — nothing can stop you.
How do you get it? To answer this I’ll begin with a brief discussion of the conscious and unconscious mind. Everyone knows about the power of the conscious mind, but not everyone knows how powerful the unconscious mind (sometimes called the subconscious mind) can be. Some of the greatest discoveries in the world have been made through the use of it. The way it usually works is that someone decides to work on a problem; he gathers all the material he needs to solve it and sits down to work on it. He tries to solve the problem, but it seems insurmountable, so he relaxes and forgets it. In essence, he lets it percolate in his mind. At this stage, though, even though he doesn’ t realize it, his unconscious mind has taken over and is still working on it. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the answer comes to him while he is shaving, or driving his car, or just daydreaming. It’s like magic, but it’s a well-known technique that definitely works.
What does this have to do with the winning feeling? As it turns out, the winning feeling can be developed in the same way. The “trick” is to set your unconscious mind to work. You can’t, of course, make it work by consciously telling it to “get going.” What you have to do is supply your braIn with everything it needs, then forget about it. The unconscious mind will take over automatically if the stage is set. I’ll list the steps you’ll have to go through in detail below, but for now I’ll give a brief outline.
The first thing you need is a goal. You can’t succeed at something if you don’t see the “something” clearly and vividly. You have to know what you want. But it’s not really the goal you want to concentrate on — it’s the achievement of the goal. You want to set your sights on the end result, in other words, how your life will change when you achieve it. This means you have to see the goal as already achieved, and you have to visualize this end result as if it were vivid and real. The reason for this is that your brain cannot tell the difference between a real experience and one that is vividly imagined. It’s important to keep this in mind. This is how you “set” your mind for success, and how you get the winning feeling.
You might ask why this winning feeling is needed, or important. The reason is that once you have it you are set for success, and real success is more likely. You will act successful and do things that bring success.
The five steps you need to acquire the winning feeling are as follows:
1. Goals and Gradualness
The first thing you need is a goal. It can be to publish a book, start a successful business, win a medal in the olympics, or just lose 30 pounds. Once you have settled on your goal you have to decide on how you are going to achieve it. Remember, though, that things you’re wishing for — particularly big things — don’t happen overnight. Your business isn’t going to be a success overnight, and you’re not going to win an olympic medal without a lot of preparation and practise. Everything worthwhile is achieved through trial and error. You try one approach and find it doesn’t work, so you try a different one. In essence you learn from your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes on their way to success, and some people learn from them, and others don’t. You have to be one of the people who learns from their mistakes. You have to try something until you get a “hit” — a pattern that works and is successful. And keep in mind that you may encounter many mistakes before you acquire overall success.
2. Affirmation and Visualization
As I said earlier, your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real success and one that is vividly visualized. So start with an affirmation; affirmations are positive messages or phrases that you repeat to yourself throughout the day. They keep you positive, and are a good first step; then move on to visualizations. They are mental images of you succeeding. Picture yourself as a success, and as you do this over and over in your head, gradually add more detail. The important thing again is to concentrate on the end result, not just the goal, and make sure it is real in your mind — as if it has already happened. Let your brain and nervous system experience it as real. This is what triggers the winning feeling.
At this stage you have to remember it’s your unconscious mind that is going to give you the winning feeling, so don’t put a lot of effort into consciously trying to bring it about. Let it happen on its own. Just picture yourself as a success, and capture the feeling you would experience if your goals were, indeed, achieved. Let your unconscious mind work on it. Don’t force it, but continue to have absolute faith in the end result.
3. Cultivate Absolute Confidence
The idea of step two is to build patterns of success into your brain. When a successful pattern of action is performed, it is stored in your conscious memory. In time, an overall pattern of success becomes locked into your brain. In other words, the neurons in your brain will become linked together in a certain way that will remain that way indefinitely.
By this stage you’ll no doubt begin to experience the first stages of the winning feeling. Let it build — cultivate it. Act successful and it will soon become more spontaneous; furthermore, your creativity will start to be unleashed. Keep telling yourself, “It can be done… things may be tough along the way, but there’s no way I will fail.” Continue to develop more and more confidence and faith in yourself. At this stage you’re not only concentrating on your goal and end result, you’re also concentrating on building up your confidence. Again, use visualization to do this. See yourself as successful.
The unconscious mind will, indeed, produce the winning feeling, but unless you are actually working towards achieving your goal it will soon get stuck in a rut. You have to see yourself as making progress, and for this you have to take action. You have to lay out a plan and go through it step by step. And as you have successes at each stage, the way you feel will be reinforced.
5. Challenge Negativity
One of the biggest problems with all this is that negative thoughts and feelings are going to develop from time to time. Everything is not always going to go as we hope; there will be setbacks, and you have to learn how to handle them. If you start to get feelings of fear, anxiety, and so on, and let them build, you will soon lose your winning feeling. One of the first things you have to do about negative feeling and thoughts about the future is remember that they are not necessarily going to come to pass. In fact, they likely won’t. They’re just thoughts — attitudes of your mind.
If you spend very much time worrying about failure, it will build, and in the end you will fail. The best way around this is to look upon them as a challenge. Act aggressively to get them out of your mind. If you do this quickly every time they pop up, they will soon disappear.
You can’t try to get rid of them directly, however. If you tell yourself, “I won’t think negatively.. I won’t let any thoughts of failure enter my head,” you’ll likely fail. It’s like someone trying to stop smoking by continually telling themselves they won’t do it. The problem with this approach is that you’re thinking about the negativity (e.g smoking) all the time, and this in itself is a negative thought. The way around this is to immediately substitute a positive thought for a negative one.
When you feel a negative thought of failure coming into your head, let it be a “signal” to immediately substitute a positive thought or image.This means you have to do it immediately — not two or three seconds later — and it means you have to have some positive thoughts ready to substitute. Typical of these are: past successes, how well the business is going right now, or vivid images of the end product. The winning feeling is critical to success. It gives you the impetus to keep going. It gives you the feeling that anything is possible with a little work. but you have to make up your mind that you want it, and work towards it.
Barry Parker, Ph. D., is a professor emeritus (physics) at Idaho State University. He is the author of 25 books on science, health, writing, and music. His website is http://www.BarryParkerbooks.com and he has several blogs, one of them is at http://www.Barrysbuzz123.blogspot.com He has done research in biophysics (mutations in the DNA molecule) and in relativity theory (Einstein’s field theory), has a strong interest in health and fitness, self-improvement, and in music (particularly piano). He taught a writing class at ISU for several years. One of his recent books is “Feel Great Feel Alive.”