Why the Reticular Activating System is so important to understand
Recognize in this very moment how truly incredible it is to be a human being. Our brains are incredibly complex and amazing. You can sift through billions of bits of data at any given point in time. And somehow, so you don’t overheat or short circuit like a computer, you have to organize that information. The Reticular Activating System helps us with that.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through.
The RAS is the reason why you buy a new shirt or lease a new car and then all of a sudden you start seeing that shirt or car everywhere you go. The blue shirt or Tesla was there before, but now your senses are enhanced to those specific objects. The same is true if you learn a new word or a new language, you start to hear it everywhere you go. It’s why you can tune out a crowd full of talking people, yet immediately snap your attention to someone when they say your name or something that at least sounds like it. Crazy, right?
Think about it like this. Your RAS (brain) takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you and your value system. The cool part is, of course, all of this happens without us noticing.
In the same way, the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs, values, and identity. It filters the world through the lenses and framework you give it, and your beliefs 100% shape those guidelines. If you tell yourself you’re bad at public speaking before giving speeches or presenting in front of a classroom, you will be second-rate. If you believe you’re a productive and efficient worker, then you must be someone who can and will get results. Your RAS helps you see what you want to see, and in doing so, influences your actions.
Some people suggest you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts. Think about this as “setting your intent.” This means that if you focus hard enough on your goals and dreams, your RAS will reveal the people, information, and opportunities that can help you achieve them. However, then you have to put in the work and actions behind it.
If you care about positivity, just as an example, you will become more aware of it and seek out positivity. If you really want a cat or a dog (your choice) and set your intent on getting one, you’ll tune in to the right information that helps you do that. Pretty awesome, right?
Look at it this way. The Law of Attraction, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t seem so mystical now does it? Focus on negativity and what happens? You will invite negativity and poor conversations into your life. Focus on the good things and optimism and what happens? The greatest associations imaginable will come to you because your brain is actively seeking them out. It’s not magic or rocket science, it’s merely your Reticular Activating System influencing how you see the world around you.
I find this method and exercise to be helpful:
- First, think of the goal, dream, or ideal situation you want to influence.
- Next, think about the experience or result you want to reach in regard to that goal/dream/situation.
- Create a mental picture of that goal/dream/situation ideally turning out for you in the next 2–3 years, or future. Notice the visuals, sounds, breeze, conversations, details, and specifics of that mental picture.
- Replay it as often as needed in your head to define the clear mental picture and vision.
In reality, these things aren’t as easy as they sound. Trust me, I’m not a professional or claiming to be one in regards to this field of psychology. I’m simply sharing with you what I’ve learned from mentors and high-performance teachers along the way. I confidently believe our RAS can be trained, just like a muscle. Our brains are one so I hope you’re getting your reps in!
It comes down to visualizing what you want in life, and then letting our subconscious and conscious work together to make it a reality.
The idea is simple: If you can hear your own name in a crowded room of hundreds, can you tune your brain in to focus and attract the things that truly matter to us? I’m confident you can. You must continually refocus and remind your brain what matters and what is merely noise.
Our brains, as a survival tool, look out for our best interests. Our RAS is constantly filtering through billions of pieces of data so you can see and hear and be what you want to be. It sounds like a superhuman power to me.
Have a fantastic week everyone, thanks for reading!
My Very Best,