Memes. funny word, big concept. Memes are essentially the building blocks for how we move through life. From “Where’s the beef” to “Nice guys finish last”, they are made up of ideas, behaviors, styles or usages that spread from person to person within a culture. They form the boundaries and limits we use to operate in the world. When we were infants, we soaked them up like a sponge and learned how to survive. As we grew older, we began to question them as well as gather evidence to support those that had already taken root, often subconsciously. Sometimes these memes helped us reach our dreams, sometimes not. Through awareness and conscious choice, our memes can support and energize us to reach our goals and create a new reality–one of our own choosing. So roll up your sleeves and let’s do some spring cleaning on those memes…
1)Name the Memes Around You
In your lifetime, you have been surrounded by countless memes. Your family history, culture, friends, television, music, the part of the world you live in, the time period in which you grew up all play a part in the way you view the world. As you become more in tune to these messages, you will be able to identify the ones that support you and eliminate those that don’t.
Exercise: Consider the following areas and the cultural beliefs that relate to them:
1. Money 2. Success 3. Relationships 4. World politics 5. Aging
2) Clarify What’s Influencing You
Were there certain beliefs in your family that you picked up? Did work have to be hard? Was it selfish to ask for what you want rather than go along to get along? Were there certain things that were just not done? The key shift is taking control and using your own thoughts, beliefs, and ideas to invent a new way of being that becomes a bi-product of your thinking propelling you forward to grow and evolve reducing the struggle.
Exercise: Ask yourself the question “Is this belief, idea, concept, or thought working for my life purpose?”
This sounds simple, but it can actually be quite challenging. We all have ideas, beliefs, and thoughts (all memes) which work for our lives and those which don’t. This question should also be asked as you are interacting with your memetic environment. Are the books, websites, journals, movies, and conversations you are having pulling you forward or causing a block in your energy or zapping you of your reserves?
3) Dust Off Your Dreams and Evaluate Your Strengths
What are your strengths? What comes easy or naturally to you? Find out what your strengths are, and apply these each and every day to your life. By getting clear on your life purpose and by examining your thoughts several times each day, it is possible to begin choosing memes which pull you forward.
Exercise: Make a list of things you were “driven to do” but you didn’t because of a belief.
Did you want to “major in interior design,” “invest in a certain stock,” or “date or marry a particular person?” Make a list of everything you have wanted to do in the past but didn’t, and then ask yourself “What were the reasons that you did not act on what you really wanted to do in life?”
4)Map Out Your “Superhighways”
Each of us takes in information in a variety of ways, however some ways are our preferred paths. For example, some people enjoy getting ideas from friends and family, some are moved by visual images, music or lyrics, and still others have to experience life to form their own conclusions. By identifying and using your “superhighways” you can enhance and speed up the process of creating a supportive belief system.
Exercise: Discover your learning style and work with it.
Do some investigation into your learning style and take note of the trends you discover about yourself. Do you prefer to listen to books on tape rather than read? You may be an auditory learner. You learn by listening. If you like to learn by graphs, charts, or from presentations, you may be a visual learner who learns by watching. If however, you learn by hands on experience, you might be kinesthetic and learn best by doing.
5) Eliminate Clutter Holding You Back
Waste and clutter crowd your thinking, and the visual image can create negative thinking, such as “I am overwhelmed” or “Things are broken” or “My house is messy.” The subconscious will take this thought and will translate it into “I am broken, overwhelmed, and messy.”
Exercise: Spend about 10 minutes writing down everything that is on your mind.
This could be a “to do list”, set of random thoughts, energies, or emotions. The goal is to get what is in your mind out and on paper. A “brain dump” is a great way to clear the mind of clutter and crowded thinking. The clearing process can shift your thinking in a heartbeat.
6) Get Creative and Broaden Your Horizons
- Study an evolutionary trend, a culture different than your own, or a new territory worth entering.
- Investigate a new topic or idea that interests you—read magazines, interview people in the field, find a group to join
- Focus on the 15 frameworks. They can open a dialogue to new options, and new ways of thinking. (http://www.coachville.com/15frame.html)
- Exaggerate or Minimize – If you take a problem, and you blow it up…really exaggerate the problem and make it bigger than it really is, what happens to your thinking? It normally becomes wildly creative. On the same note, when you make something much smaller, the creativity soars as well, because you are shifting your thinking into a mode which is either larger or smaller than is normal for you.
Exercise: Put yourself in a new physical environment.
We can be creatures of habit, doing the same things over and over again. If you always sit in the back of the room, try sitting in the front, left, or right. You can even sit in a different chair around your table at mealtimes or in your living room. You can walk instead of drive, try a new restaurant or route to work, etc. The new perspective will sharpen your ability to be open to new concepts.
7) Design Failsafe Structures
A failsafe structure is a structure or system which makes all environments stronger than you are. Failsafe means that the system or structure is not subject to changes in your mood or in what is going on in your life. Examples of failsafe structures include are
- strong, stable Coach
- stimulating artwork, pictures, and photographs access to solid resources (online, library, magazines)
- structures for self care (weekly massages)
- mastermind groups
- music you enjoy waking up to
- ongoing skills training
- pets who greet you with happiness, excitement, and lots of kisses
Exercise: Identify 5-10 people you know and ask them to be on your team.
No one does it alone. Next to each person’s name write down their strengths. When you ask them to be on your team, mention their strength, “Bob, I have noticed you are a fantastic speaker, would you be willing to be on my team and help me improve my speaking skills.” Most people will be flattered that you asked, but if Bob turns you down, thank him for his time and ask someone else. In time, you will have assembled a team of people who can provide you with quick solutions to your challenges and stretch your thinking.
Be in Your Purpose
Find your purpose and put yourself squarely in the middle of it. Get to know people who are outstanding in your field, what are their beliefs, what drives them, what ideas do they have about success? Try those on, how do they fit for you? Study your topic or find a group. Instead of saying, “I can’t”, ask yourself, “How can I?”. Surround yourself with real success and unlimited possibility, then your meme’s will begin to shift and line up with your goals.
Exercise: Interview 25 people in your area of interest.
However you define success chose people who have attained it and ask curious questions. Some questions you might ask are:
- “How/why did you get started?”
- “What is the most exciting/challenging part of your day?”
- “If you knew now what you didn’t know then, what would you do differently?”
- “What are you most proud of?”
- “What is success to you?”
Look for trends and differences in the answers to these questions. Then ask yourself “Which answers work for my life?” You may be surprised at what you find. And, you might even add some members to you team (See tip Number 7 above).
9) Pay Attention to Inklings and Other Guidance Tools
An inkling is a subtle sense of something, even with no evidence to back it up. As you begin to trust your inklings more often, you will find that your thinking shifts and you will become more trusting of your own abilities to make smart choices. Creativity and momentum are also increased. While we don’t recommend that you act impulsively on something that is going to cost you financially or in a way which harms you, we do recommend that you go with your impulses in areas such as creative writing, drawing, playing music, or in talking to a stranger “just because you want to.”
Exercise: Spend time each day in the alpha state. Research has found that the ideal state for learning is when the brain is in a relaxed, but aware state. Techniques for moving into the alpha state are varied. Some examples are meditation, yoga, swimming, deep breathing exercises, and guided visualization.
10) Realize That “Soakage” is Inevitable
Even though we carefully try to choose our memes, renegade beliefs will occasionally get in or resurface, we will always be a work in progress. Don’t beat yourself up but do the necessary things to maximize success. Below are a few suggestions:
- Stop watching television (or at least…be very, very selective about what you watch.)
- Immerse yourself in thoughts and literature which relate to your goal.
- State your intention for what you see is possible for your day and make a verbal commitment to achieving just that. You hit the ground running, and you are in charge of your entire day…not waiting for others to call forth your best.
- Observe nature – your thinking can become MUCH bigger and can reach far beyond where you are today.
- Teach or lead others in a new way of thinking
- Hold an “integrity day” to help people complete mundane tasks, such as cleaning their office.
Exercise: Create a “Vision Board” and reinvent this one time each month.
One time each month, take the time to post pictures of what you want your life to look like, be like, and feel like on a poster board or bulletin board. Once these pictures are in place, do one thing in order to move you closer to the direction of your vision. A personal vision can orient you in the direction of the future. The more you focus on pictures and goals of what you want and where you are going in life, the more your vision will be pulled in your direction.
This article was co-authored by Kris Knopp and Bea Fields. Kris Knopp is an idea advocate who believes in the power of ideas and empowers others to take their own ideas seriously and get moving on them. She inspires people to see bigger possibilities and think beyond the ordinary answers in life. Visit Kris at www.InspiredLifeSolutions.com or email Kris@InspiredLifeSolutions.com. Bea Fields is an Executive Coach, the Visionary Leader for the Personal Environments Community with CoachVille and the Owner of Five Star Leader Coaching and training.