Attitude

Don't Read This! (It's Only the Most Valuable Psychology Hack You Can Learn.)

Don't Read This! (It's Only the Most Valuable Psychology Hack You Can Learn.)
Image credit: Shutterstock
Contributor
Founder of Rich20Something
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

“Don’t touch: wet paint.”

How many times have you seen that and wanted to touch the wet paint? How many times have you seen that sign, ignored it, and done the thing you’ve been explicitly told not to do?

If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing a lot! (But maybe I'm just a rebel like that.)

Don’t think of a blue tree.

Did you think of the blue tree? You thought of the tree, didn’t you! Even though I specifically told you not to think of a blue tree…that’s what you did.

Weird, right?

Maybe this seems funny. (That’s because it is.)

But it also touches on deeply rooted psychological forces that influence our everyday experience and our relationship with ourselves. For example…

How many times have you said to yourself...“Don’t mess this up,” or “Don’t be an idiot,” or “I don’t want to fail”?

Psychologically, what do you think happens when you say these things?

Your mind latches onto messing up, being an idiot, being a failure.

The unconscious mind can’t handle the word “don’t.” It concept doesn’t compute. The math doesn’t make sense.

When you say “I don’t want to fail,” you’re giving your brain nearly infinite ideas to ponder over.

Related: 5 Thoughts That Crush Success

...Infinity minus one, to be precise. (The one being “don’t fail.”)

Not very good odds.

Because your brain can’t possibly comprehend all of these possibilities, it focuses on the one thing you have given it: failing.

You end up focusing on the one thing you didn’t want to focus on.

Related: 6 Questions to Answer Before Deciding You Can't Stand Your Job Another Day

The irony.

What would happen if you changed “I don’t want to fail” to “I want to succeed”?

It would be like changing “don’t think of a blue tree” to “think of a blue tree.”

Related: Stop Listening to These 5 Self-Limiting Beliefs Stunting Your Business

When you don’t want to think of a blue true, you end up thinking about a blue tree because “infinity minus one” possibilities is too many to handle. You’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re directly undermining your intention. Yikes.

On the other hand, when you want to think of a blue true, it’s easy to call it to mind. You choose to think of something you want. You choose to be specific over being abstract.

If you live your life saying “I don’t want” you will be thinking a lot about all the things you don’t want, which is exactly what you’ll end up with.

If you live your life saying “I want”, you will be thinking about all the specific things you do want, and that’s exactly what you’ll end up with.

But don’t believe me.

More from Entrepreneur

Grow Your Business at Entrepreneur LIVE! Join us on Nov. 16 in Brooklyn, NY, to learn from legends like Danica Patrick and Maria Sharapova, pitch our editors, meet with investors, and potentially walk away with funding!
Register here

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

Whether you are launching or growing a business, we have all the business tools you need to take your business to the next level, in one place.
Enroll Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.