“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” —Ernest Holmes
You are always creating your future. You bring it forth through your thoughts, actions, feelings, beliefs, values, goals and dreams. You do this regardless of the level of your conscious awareness. Your present moment awareness coupled with the future that you create is a deeper reflection of your subconscious programming. When we first developed the WealthyMind™ program, we began calling this way of creating your life experience “bringforthism.” (1)
Understanding the key elements of bringforthism allows you to more “consciously” create the future that you want, versus “unconsciously” creating the future that you don’t want.(2) Intentionally using the concept of bringforthism is a powerful approach to take in achieving any of your goals or future dreams. Once you recognize how your mind really works, it becomes more possible to achieve almost any goal.
For example, when Tiger Woods, the great American golfer, was a little boy he wrote down all of his golfing goals on a piece of paper. Every night before he went to bed, he looked at his goals and thought about what it would be like to be the greatest golfer in the world. He then unconsciously stepped into his future by imagining what it would be like to break all the greatest golfing records in history.
Tiger firmly set his intent to make this goal happen, while pretending that it had already happened in his subconscious mind’s eye. He then put all of his conscious attention on achieving the goals that he wrote down as a boy. As a result of doing this, Tiger developed a deep subconscious belief that it was entirely possible to achieve his great dream. By the time Tiger was 25 years old, he was well on his way to becoming one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game. (3)
All of your future goals and dreams are not only a reflection of your subconscious thinking, they are mediated by your Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is the part of your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. The RAS, which is located in the core of your brain stem, takes instructions from your conscious mind, and passes them on to your subconscious mind.
Because of this biological function, whatever you are thinking about or focusing upon will seep down into your subconscious mind only to reappear at a future time. Have you ever decided that you wanted to buy a certain car, and shortly there after, you see cars everywhere like the one you wanted? That is the RAS at work. (4)
From a very young age, Tiger Woods had begun the process of programming his mind to achieve his goals. There were several things that Tiger did to subconsciously create the future that he wanted.
- He set a goal, and wrote it down.
- He maintained a positive state of mind and attitude whenever he thought about his golfing dream.
- He focused all of his attention on achieving that goal.
- He set his intention to make it happen, and he believed that it was possible.
- He also mentally rehearsed his goal over and over in his mind, as if it were a movie that had already happened.
Keys to Mastering the Art of Bringforthism
There are several ways to access the power of your subconscious mind for setting goals in the future. We call them the key elements of bringforthism. Some of these keys will be really obvious to you, and some of them won’t be as obvious. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you try all of them, you can pretty much achieve any future goal or dream.
The first key element of bringforthism is to: set a goal, and write it down. Writing your goal down will trigger your RAS, which in turn will send a signal to your cerebral cortex to stay focused on achieving the goal. The more clear and specific you can make your goal, the better the chances are that your subconscious mind will help you achieve it.(5)
In NLP there are four conditions for setting a well-formed goal:
1. Describe your goal in positive terms. Be certain to indicate what you do want, as opposed to what you don’t want. You may want to ask, “Is my goal something that I want, or is something that I don’t want?” Rather than setting a goal to not be nervous during a job interview, you can set a goal for being calm and confident. Keeping the goal positive will help your RAS sort for feelings of calmness and confidence throughout your subconscious mind. If you set a goal to not be nervous, then the RAS will have to process being nervous first.
2. Ask yourself, “Is achieving the goal under my control, and can it be initiated by me?” Setting a goal for you’re your boss to quit being a jerk is not a well-formed goal because you can’t control what your boss does. The only thing you can control is your own behavior and attitude towards your boss. So instead, you could set a goal to be more assertive around your boss, or to ignore his behavior.
3. Define the sensory based evidence for achieving your goal. To do this, ask the following three questions:
- “How will you know when you have achieved your goal
- “What images, feelings and sounds will you experience when you achieve your goal?”
- “If you were to run a movie of you achieving your goal, what would it look like?”
Keep in mind that the more specific you can be, the better it is for your subconscious mind to help you achieve your goal.
4. Be ecological. Think about your goal, and define any possible downsides to achieving it. You may want to ask, “Who else might be affected when you bringforth your goal into the future?”
For example, one of our clients named Steven set a goal to become a successful Motivational Speaker who traveled the country. Steven knew his goal was possible because he was already a talented speaker, however, his goal ended up not being so ecological. After setting his goal, Simon thought about its ecology and quickly realized that achieving his goal would have a negative impact on his two small children because of all the travel involved. He immediately decided not to do it because his children were more important to him than traveling around the country.
Bringforthism and Your State of Mind… Whatever you Think, you Shall Receive
The next key element of bringforthism has to do with your state of mind. This has to do with the emotional states that are connected to your goal. When you experience a positive state about achieving your goal, and stay focused on the outcome, you are sending a powerful message to your subconscious mind to bringforth the desired goal. Have you ever noticed that when you are in a good mood and having a great day, people will smile at you more than they usually do? That is because you are sending your RAS a message to be happy, and so your subconscious mind will begin to pay attention to more positive experiences.
In his essay on Compensation, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Whatever you think, you shall receive.”(6)
Your attitude, moods and feelings are energetic attractors for various life experiences. Each one of these elements serves as a driver for your state of mind—and your state of mind serves as a trigger for where you place your conscious attention, and what you choose to focus on. If you are in a bad mood, then you are more likely to place your attention on negative things, which will makes it more difficult to achieve your goal.
Therefore, whatever you are feeling, you will bringforth into your awareness because your outer reality is a reflection of your inner reality. If you stay focused on your goal, then your chances of achieving it will increase significantly, because you are sending a message to your RAS to filter its attention for the desired outcome.
One way to keep your attention on your goal while maintaining a positive state is to monitor your internal dialogue and thoughts. Because of your higher cognitive ability as a human, there is a tendency to be constantly talking to yourself about what is going on in the world outside of you, and how it impacts you. Sometimes, it is really easy to get into a negative space and not even realize it, because your ongoing internal thoughts and dialogue are outside of your conscious awareness. They are operating at a subconscious level, and are controlling the experiences that you bring forth, both positive and negative.
An easy way to become more conscious of your deeper subconscious thinking is to set your intent to be more consciously aware of your internal experience. You can do this by periodically checking in with yourself through out the day to see how you are feeling emotionally. If you are having a good day, then chances are that you are maintaining a positive state of mind, and keeping your attention and focus on your goals for the day. If you find yourself wondering away from you goal, and having a hard time staying focused on it, then you can ask your subconscious mind the following question,
“What is going on inside of me, and what is stopping me from achieving my goal?”
Interestingly, if you give your subconscious mind a moment to answer, it will tell you exactly what is going on in the form of a picture, a movie, or an internal commentary. You can then begin to communicate with this deeper subconscious part of yourself, and ask,
“What do I need to do to get more focused on my goal?”
Again, more often than not, your subconscious mind will give you the answer or solution. Sometimes, the solution is really simple, like perhaps you need to simply rest or take a break. Other times, it may be more complicated.
For example, we had a client named Barbara, whose goal was to start a new coaching and consulting business. Barbara’s problem was that she was unable to take the necessary steps to bring her goal of starting a business into fruition. Every time she thought about doing the things she needed to do to start her business, she got overwhelmed and would place her attention on everything else, but her new business. Because of this, she got frustrated with the whole idea of starting a business and became depressed.
Finally, one day Barbara called us to see if we could help her regain her focus. She told us how overwhelmed and depressed she was by the whole idea of starting a new business. After listening to her for a few minutes, we asked her a really simple question:
“Take a minute to drop inside now and ask yourself, what is really stopping you from achieving this goal?”
Barbara quietly sat there for a moment as she contemplated this question. After about a minute of thinking about it, tears started coming from her eyes, and she said, “I finally realize why I have been so depressed about starting a business. Several years ago, I went into business with another woman and she horribly betrayed me. We ended up splitting up as business partners, and I had a take another job working for someone else. What I am realizing from this is that I still have a lot of anger toward her for what she did to me, and I need to forgive her and let go of that anger.”
We then asked Barbara’s subconscious mind another really simple question: “What do you think the positive intention of your having anger is?” (In other words, “What is the good reason for you holding that anger?”)
Again, Barbara got quiet and contemplative. As she began to think about her answer, we noticed that her face softened up and she didn’t look so angry any more. Barbara then replied in a soft voice, “Well I think the positive intention of my anger is that it was trying to protect me from something bad happening when I started my new business.” Barbara quickly realized that her subconscious anger was keeping her from maintaining a positive attitude and focus around her goal of starting a new business. We then asked Barbara’s subconscious mind another question:
“What are some other ways that you can protect yourself, without having to be angry?” She thought about this for a minute and got a big smile on her face saying, “Well there are a lot of other ways that I can protect myself such as paying better attention to the business records that I keep, and be more careful about who I do business with. I had a bad gut feeling about the woman who betrayed me, and I didn’t listen to it. In the future, I will pay better attention to my internal thoughts and feelings.”
Barbara then proceeded to outline a concrete business plan for starting a successful consulting business, which was the first time she was able to do so with such clarity and peace of mind. Barbara’s inability to stay focused on her business goal was directly related to her deeper subconscious fear and anger around being betrayed. Once she gained conscious awareness of these feelings, she was then able to let go of the fear and anger and replace them with her own internal resources for protection. She did this by simply sorting for the positive intention of her subconscious anger, and then coming up with several solutions to insure that she would always be protected from any type of future betrayal.(7) Thus, Barbara’s subconscious mind was completely at peace with the idea of achieving her future goal of starting a successful coaching and consulting business. She was finally able to maintain a positive state of mind, while keeping her conscious attention and focus on her desired outcome.
The Power of Setting Your Intent
Setting your intent is another key element for encouraging your subconscious mind to bring forth a desired goal. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word intent is derived from the word intend, which means to direct the mind and proceed on course towards a goal. The word intent originated from the Latin intendere, which means to stretch towards. When you set your intent you are directing your RAS to stretch towards the goal, and to also enjoy the journey getting there.
To gain an experience with setting your intent, try saying the following three sentences to yourself:
“I hope to enjoy my dinner tonight.” (Notice how you actually think about this – your internal pictures, voices, and feelings.)
“I want to enjoy dinner tonight.” (Notice how you actually think about this – your internal pictures, voices, and feelings—what is different from the first question?”)
“I intend to enjoy my dinner tonight.” (Notice how you actually think about this—your internal pictures, voices, and feelings—what is different from the first two questions?”)
Pay attention to how each of these simple changes in your language creates a very different experience. For most people, the first question will produce some doubt. In other words, multiple images will appear in your mind representing different possibilities—one is that you may enjoy dinner and the other one being that you won’t.
The second sentence should produce a different representation. When you say, “I want to enjoy dinner tonight,” you will typically see what you want in the future, but you may not see yourself having it now. The future then may feel compelling because you see what you want. But there is still some room for doubt because it is more difficult to put yourself into the actual experience of achieving it.
The third image of intending to enjoy your dinner should put you into the act of fully enjoying your experience and being present to it. Intending for something to happen will generally associate you into the experience of achieving your goal and all the feelings, images and sounds that go with it.
When you set your intent, you are marrying your subconscious mind with your conscious will to make something happen. It is like you are sending your subconscious mind a message that you are “expecting” the event to happen, and there is absolutely no room for uncertainty.
Setting your intent is a way of preparing your subconscious mind for the kind of journey that you will have in achieving your goal. While setting your goal represents the end result you want to achieve. For example, Tiger Woods set a goal to become one of the greatest golfers in the world. He also set his intent to have as much fun as he could with playing golf. By staying focused on his goal and staying true to his intent, Tiger eventually achieved his desired goal while having a lot of fun along the way.
We originally learned about the idea of setting intent from a Peruvian shaman who we worked with years ago in the deserts of Southern Utah. We were with a group of NLP Practitioners who were modeling the healing powers of the shaman. One of the men in the group, George, had the beginning symptoms of early Multiple Sclerosis, and asked the shaman if he would do a healing with him.
The shaman said, “Yes,” and laid George down on the ground, and engaged him in a rather unusual healing ceremony. He first got a rattle out, and shook the rattle over the George’s head, and chanted and sang for a long time. He then picked up the George’s arm and gently spoke to it. He kept doing these kinds of activities for almost an hour.
Finally, the shaman looked at George and told him to stand up. He reached out his hand to help. When the shaman was finished, George stood up and proclaimed with excitement, ‘I feel a lot better!”
We were all pretty amazed by this, and asked the shaman, “When did the healing actually take place?”
The shaman looked really confused by our question and replied, “The healing took place when I set my intent. The rest was ceremony.”
What the shaman meant by this comment is that when he was clear on his intent, it made it easier to achieve his goal of healing the man. Hence, the shaman recognized that if he and George entered into the same system, any change he made would be reflected in the bigger system including George’s health.
In Systems Thinking, there is a presupposition that if one part of the system changes, then the rest of the system has to change. Anthropologist and systems thinker, Gregory Bateson, metaphorically addresses the power of intent from a systemic perspective in his book, Steps to Ecology of the Mind.
“When the phenomenon of the universe is seen as linked together by cause and effect and energy transfer, the resulting picture is of a complexly branching and interconnecting chain of events. In certain regions of this universe (notably organisms in environments, ecosystems, societies, and computers), these chains of relating events form circuits which are closed in the sense that causal interconnection can be traced around the circuit and back through to whatever position we chose as the starting point of the description. In such a circuit, events at any position within the circuit may be expected to have an effect on all of the positions at later times.”(8)
Setting your intent is a powerful way of directing your conscious energy and attention towards your future goal, which in turn helps your subconscious mind to stay focused on the desired outcome. Your subconscious mind and conscious mind are a system that co-exists within a larger system that we call reality. How we think, act, and behave has a direct influence on the greater system of our external reality. When we set our intent, we are influencing both our inner reality, and our outer reality in a way that sets a chain of events into motion. We are bringing forth a new chain of events that are directly related to our deeper subconscious thinking, as well as our overall intent for the desired outcome and journey that unfolds.
Hence, the shaman was clear on the fact that the actual “healing ceremony” offered George’s subconscious mind something to wrap this process around. The healing ritual or ceremony was also a way to comfort George’s conscious mind, but the action took place systemically. If you change any part of a system, the rest of the system cannot not respond.
Not only does intent setting work well with goals, it is also extremely useful to do throughout the day. For example, you might set your intent to find a parking space quickly and easily when trying to park your car in a crowded area. Or perhaps you have a big meeting with your boss and you want the meeting to run smoothly and effortlessly. You could then set your intent to be calm and to speak clearly throughout the meeting.
Here is a real easy process for setting your intent around certain goals or situations:
1. Think of the goal or situation that you would like to set your intent for.
2. Set intent for yourself in terms of the experience that you want to have in that situation, or in achieving your goal.
3. If there are other people involved, then set your intent for the kind of interaction that you would like to have with them. Perhaps you would like to have fun, learn something new, be productive, feel peaceful, be happy or loving, feel respected, be calm and helpful, or feel connected with others.
4. Create a mental movie of what you will be like in that future situation. Notice what you are experiencing in the situation once you have set your intent. What are you hearing? What are you saying to yourself? What are you seeing and what are you feeling? (9)
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1. The word bringforthism, coined by Tim & Kris Hallbom, originated from the years of research they had done in the fields of Systemic Thinking, NLP and Autopoiesis. They first came across the idea of bringforthism when reading an essay on Autopoiesis. The term autopoiesis means, “Self Creating”, and was originally introduced by Chilean biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana in the early 1970s. The Greek meaning of the word auto is “self” and refers to the autonomy of self-organizing systems such as the human mind. The Greek poeire means production or creation, such as poetry and refers to the ongoing creative process that exists within all living systems. Autopoiesis offers us a deeper understanding of the deeper structure of our human experience on this earth, which includes bridging the gap between the subconscious mind and the conscious mind. Autopoiesis also explores the internal occurrences that happen within a system and the parts that make up the system; the relationships between those parts; the boundaries that surround and contain the parts; how information emerges from the system via cognition; and how external information triggers the structure of the overall system.
2. In the field of NLP, a metaphor that we sometimes use for the subconscious and conscious minds is that of a torch in the attic. The attic is filled with interesting things, that you can shine your flashlight on. Whatever the flashlight shines on is where you’re conscious awareness rests. Nevertheless, there are a lot of other things in that dark subconscious room, and you will be only conscious of what you see in the stream of the flashlight. The subconscious includes all these additional things that exist, yet are in the dark at the moment.
3. The Tiger Woods Story (1998) (TV)
4. Write it down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser (Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2000).
5. The Well Formedness Conditions originated from the field of NLP.
6. Compensation, The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson – Volume II – Essays I (1841)
7. Positive intention is common term that is used in the field of NLP. It originated from the NLP Presupposition that, “Behind every behavior is a positive intention.”
8. Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson (Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. 1972)
9. The Intent Setting process originated from the WealthyMind™ program developed by Tim and Kris Hallbom in 2000.
10. The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding by Maturana, H.R. and F. Varela. (Shambhala Publications, Inc. 1987).
Kristine Hallbom is the co-founder of the NLP Institute of California and is a principle author and developer of the the WealthyMind™ Program. Recognized for her ability to translate complex ideas into practical skills, and for her warm, approachable style, Kris has trained and coached clients throughout Europe, South America, Australia, and the United States. She is a long time student of NLP and Systemic Thinking, and holds a degree in Psychology and Languages.
Tim Hallbom is an internationally recognized NLP trainer, author and developer. He is co-founder of the NLP Institute and WealthyMind™ Program. He is best known for helping people to make transformative personal changes, and for his work in identifying and changing unconscious beliefs. Tim is co-author of the best selling book, Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well-Being and a co-author of NLP: The New Technology of Achievement, which has been listed as one of the 50 best self help books of all time.