It’s surprising how much people ask for what they don’t want rather than what they do want. It’s seems counterintuitive, but it‘s the way we are. Most of us don’t even realize that we’re doing it. To explain what I mean, consider the way your mind works. When you see or hear something, your mind deals with images, pictures in your mind. You are able to think about something even if you don’t know the word for it (“You know, the little round things on the bottom of fishing poles.”) Your mind thinks in images. Even when we read something, we don’t think of the written words in our mind. We translate those words into images. Words like “no” and “not” don’t change the images they’re associated with. Telling someone else (or yourself) to not do something creates the image of what you don’t want in your mind as well as theirs. How could it be otherwise? This point is important because we tend to move toward what we think about. We hear about athletes who clearly imagine a perfect performance to help them achieve it. The same applies to everyday life. We may not actively choose our thoughts, but we will still tend to move toward them – even if we’re thinking about what we don’t want. An example I use at my seminars is also the only bit of parenting advice I’ll ever venture to give. (I don’t know who said it, but I agree with the sentiment expressed by: “Before I had children, I had seven theories of childrearing. Now I have seven children and no theories.”) Imagine you’re the parent of a 3 year old who is in the kitchen attempting the incredible feat of carrying a full Ѕ gallon container of milk from the counter to the table. Your psychic parental vision gives you an image of yourself cleaning up a large puddle of milk in the near future. You say to the child… Most folks say something like “Don’t spill the milk.” As you say that, what picture do you have in your mind? What image did you create in your child’s mind? In hypnosis circles, a statement like that is known as an “imbedded command”. The “don’t” in a statement like “Don’t relax any more quickly then you…” puts the conscious mind at ease and lets it accept the “command” to relax. In the same way, “Don’t spill the milk” is a command to spill it, and saying it increases the chance that you’ll get a result you don’t want. You, in fact, asked for it. How about this statement: “Carry the milk carefully and safely using two hands.” What image does that create? The difference is now you’ve asked for what you want, not what you don’t want. By doing so, you’ve dramatically improved your chances of getting a result you want. You decide. Which style, asking for what you want or asking for what you don’t want, is more likely to yield results that please you? Asking for what you want is the way to go. Yet most people ask for what they don’t want. Listen with this in mind and you’ll hear all sorts of examples. “Don’t forget your keys.” “Don’t stay out too late”. “I sure hope I don’t blow this presentation”. Now that you’re aware of this principle it will be fairly easy for you to change to asking for what you want. It’s a relatively small shift in mind set that pays large cumulative dividends. At first, it may take a little effort to catch your negative requests, but soon you’ll be asking for what you want. You’ll find the shift easy. After all, it’s much more fun to think about what you want than the things you don’t want.