Napoleon Hill, legendary author of Think and Grow Rich, thinks that all thought has a tendency to manifest itself in reality. In his view, if you come to believe something strongly enough, you’re going to see results in the real world. If that’s true, then you can achieve anything you want to through sheer willpower and self-programming.
This is auto-suggestion – telling yourself that something is true (about yourself or the world) until you’ve internalised it and made it the unconscious launching pad from which you then act.
But is it true? Andrea agrees that the human brain is incredibly powerful, but more because it can simulate practically any reality. And that doesn’t mean we should buy into our self-made reality so deeply that we mistake it for being objectively true. You can believe as strongly as you want that you can fly, but just try jumping off a building and see how that works out for you.
Which brings us to the central tension at the heart of this episode: does it benefit us to use auto-suggestion to get ourselves to believe certain realities? Is there a healthy way to do this which can genuinely benefit us, or are we simply courting megalomania and delusion?
Napoleon thinks it’s all about vibrations. ‘Vibration’ is a heavily overused word these days, which can become as meaningful as saying ‘everything’s energy, maaaan’. We dismantle the pseudo-scientific, spiritual language and try to uncover if there’s a genuinely useful tool lurking in its shadows.
Rather than getting too caught up in the mumbo-jumbo, we try to make Think and Grow Rich more concrete and practical. Programming yourself to feel a certain way can certainly have its benefits. Entering situations with confidence rather than fear does influence what happens. Or, if we find ourselves in negotiations for money or services, believing that we’re worth more than someone wants to pay can be a powerful boost, financially and psychologically.
Jon shares stories of pushing beyond his comfort zone to craft an external persona to get better results in the world, but this still brings us back to the question: how much is delusion, and how can we use this tool of self-programming safely and healthily? After all, Bill Cosby managed to convince himself that drugging and abusing women was totally fine: auto-suggestion can have incredibly disturbing consequences when used unethically.
We’ve got a better idea than thinking that the power of your mind is genuinely crafting reality. Instead, realise that you’re priming yourself to see more positive things. Reap the benefits, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that there is a causal connection between your belief system and the objective nature of the world around you. You can change the filter through which you see reality, but it’s vital to remember that that’s what you’re doing.
Napoleon also insists that we need to have faith to succeed. But what is faith? A blind belief in spite of all evidence? Or is there a more subtle, more useful and much healthier way we can think about the concept? What if this is more about nurturing trust in yourself?
Ultimately, you’re neither doomed nor destined. But how you feel about it is up to you.
- Reprogramming your negative reactions
- Bartering to get what you feel you deserve
- The risks and benefits of confirmation bias
- Is failure always of your own making?
- Developing 50 Cent-itis
- What does plastic surgery tell us about psychology?
- Would you avoid getting plastic surgery after an injury? How attached are you to your external appearance?
- Have you ever convinced yourself of something successfully (self-programming) and was that a good thing?
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