Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Reprograming: replacing inacurate information

One of the things that drew me into my path is my love of learning.  When I was first studying Paganism and witchcraft, there was a huge emphasis on study, on exploring knowledge both of the world, the Self and the unknown.  The expectation was that each person would be on lifetime journey of learning, and that through this process, we would find our truth.

But, it is inevitable that along the way you discover that things you previously learned, things that you believe to be true, are not....or are no longer true for you.  It can be really hard to unlearn things, especially after you took all that time to learn it in the first place!

This applies not only to factual information, but also information we know about more ephemeral things.  If I first learned that ritual needs to be done in a fully cast circle, I may feel like I'm not doing it right or my workings might be less effective because, in my mind, they aren't complete, if I don't cast a circle.  Likewise, if I grew up hearing that I was a procrastinator, even years after I learned to better manage my time, I still may think of myself as a procrastinator, and this will make me more likely to slip back into those bad habits.

When we don't deliberately replace faulty information, it keeps popping up, and we have to work, every time, to move past it.  We may find that our default reaction is based on this inaccurate information, which might cause issues with things we thought we've worked through.  It can be very frustrating when the things we think and the things we do without thinking are at odds.

The good news is that you can absolutely reprogram yourself.  You can root out those faulty bits of information that are lingering around and actively work on replacing them with updated information.  I was really enthralled by this image, of the brain as a machine (and his looks a little broken...don't we all feel like that sometimes!).  Our brain is often likened to a computer, which is a complex machine.  And like many machines, our brain not only needs regular maintenance but also sometimes it needs updates.

The first step in re-programing your mind is to figure out what isn't working.  This part can definitely take some investigation.  Sometimes you notice things are going wonky, but you may not be able to easily identify the exact origin of the issue.  While you can definitely do damage control right away, you can't fully fix things without knowing precisely what is causing the problem.

So, you need to start tracing back the problems you are having to their roots.  Start keeping track of where and when you are having conflict.  If you notice that every time you go to work on love magic, you start to feel moody and depressed, there is probably something going on there.  By tracking when it happens, you may notice that you tend to work on love magic at certain times, which may correlate to a previous relationship that ended badly. 

Sometimes, you need to trace back your steps and see where you got your ideas from.  Over the years, I've studied runes from many, many sources.  Some were really great, but others...not so much.  A few of the sources I looked into, in my very early days, conflicted....because they were from a video game (I wasn't so great, when I first started, at checking sources).  So, I had some varied associations with different runes and what they meant.  I had to go back through and see where the information came from to realize that some of my early sources were suspect.

For me, knowing why information is suspect is very important.  If I know the source of something, it helps me to reinforce the falseness of it.  Even when it pops up, I can remind myself that it's not valid.  But sometimes, just knowing that something isn't true isn't enough, because it still effects you.  I may know that I'm not crippled magically by having short hair (seriously, I have a book that flat out says if you cut your hair short you will loose your magical potency), but I still have that thought pop into my head and I have to negate it whenever it comes up.

Ultimately though, you want to have the new, accurate information be what is foremost in your mind, whenever the situation regarding it is triggered.  And in order to do this, you need to replace the faulty information with more accurate information.

You can achieve this through standard study methods, just like when you are learning new information.  Of course simply reading and thinking about information helps it sink in.  But taking notes, by hand, is also a huge help.  While typing is more effective for a lot of people, in terms of getting information copied quickly, writing your notes by hand activates different parts of your brain that help with retention.  If you like having typed notes (for clarity and ease of searching), consider both hand-writing or at least journaling out your notes first, then transcribing them onto the computer.

But approaching reprogramming in a purely analytical way will be slower and less effective than it would be if you included emotions and story.  These are both really great ways to cement information in, and can also be used to help weaken the hold that old information has in our brain.

I'll talk about story first, because I really feel that story creates proper context for information, and context lets us link information in a way that makes it easier to recall.  We can memorize lists of things, and many people still use rote memorization when they need to learn something.  But, if you create a story around the same information, the narrative links the items together and they become easier to remember.

The great thing about stories is they can be tailored to your needs.  So if you need to replace an association, why not write it into the story!  I really love this approach for rewriting our own memories.  When we have lived through something traumatic, or even just a bad decision that we wish we had handled differently, we can go back and change the story in our mind.  We could even include the original outcome, as something we considered or feared but ultimately moved away from.  We then change the story, retell it, so that our new standpoint is highlighted.

Often, this process naturally includes emotion, but even when it doesn't, we can add emotion.  When we have an emotional response, that memory sinks even deeper.  We always recall things that hit us emotionally easier than those that we don't respond to.  You know what your emotional triggers are, what things touch you deeply..use that information!

We are constantly learning, growing, evolving...and the information we carry with us needs to change as well.  Seek out that which no longer serves you, the false information that is holding you back, and replace it with knowledge that inspires you and calls you to a higher place. 

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