Only a fraction of humans actually call themselves programmers, but in reality, every human is a programmer. In this article, I’m going to talk about the “change is hard” program that so many people like to run.
Here’s how the program is executed:
Whiner: “Well I’m trying to modify my diet and it’s been really hard.”
Sympathetic listener/enabler: “Well, you know, change is hard.”
In Raja Yoga, change is not hard. Prospective Yogis are taught to dislike things they once liked and like things they once disliked. You can bet they didn’t go around saying, “Change is hard,” like self-defeating people in our instant gratification culture. No, they didn’t do that because someone in Raja Yoga is training their mind, and when you train your mind, you quickly learn that you must discard useless thoughts that take energy and accomplish nothing.
It Starts with Desire
The Raja Yoga program is not difficult. It starts with desire. The desire to change. It’s so basic that it seems obvious, but many people who try to change their ways simply don’t have the desire. Whether it is to stop smoking, drinking, or eating sugar, trying to tackle this through willpower alone, without desire, and without mental tools, is incredibly difficult and not enjoyable. Change is hard—if you approach it incorrectly.
Form a Mental Equivalent
A mental equivalent is like a bundle of thoughts that comprise a firm conviction about something. You just don’t think about it anymore. A smoker has a mental equivalent of being a smoker. They have an idea in their head about what they are and who they are. Same with a fighter, a business executive, or a middle class office worker.
This bundle of thoughts is created by our experiences and where we indulge our thought, consciously or unconsciously. By forming a desire, you are changing your thought architecture to focus on being something else, and eventually this thought architecture becomes natural. Kind of like once you learn how to walk you no longer think about it. It just is.
Forming Desires and Mental Equivalents
Joseph H. Appel says it perfectly:
You want a better position than you now have in business, a better and fuller place in life. All right, think of that better place and you in it as already existing. Form the mental image. Keep on thinking of that higher position, keep the image constantly before you and—no, you will not suddenly be transported into the higher job, but you will find that you are preparing yourself to occupy the better position in life—your body, your energy, your understanding, your heart will all grow up to the job—and when you are ready, after perhaps years of preparation, you will get the job and the higher place in life.
Substitute your own goals in the same process.
Practice your new conviction
It might be that you are trying to learn to speak up and introduce your ideas. Try doing this in a friendly environment. Graduate to more difficult environments. If your new conviction is to become fit and healthy, start a walking habit. After you practice your new conviction, use your thought power and remind yourself how much you enjoyed this new aspect of yourself.
When you go through a process, you must put your faith in the process and have a confident expectation of success. Caterina Rondo in her book Power Thinking says that many people have “catastrophic thinking.” Immediately in their mind the worst possible outcomes are conjured up. So, as Caterina says, “Expect success.” Why imagine any other possible outcome? In other words, have faith that you will succeed.
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Change is not hard. It’s a process. It’s a technique. Saying change is hard makes it hard. I’m not saying that change is easy, but I am saying that there is a system for changing and it’s documented in Raja Yoga, sports psychology, and many other genres of information. I’ve outlined what I’ve learned from Raja Yoga here. You can follow this simple process to change yourself. It’s not hard, it’s just a technique that requires practice—and it can be done by anyone.