Your Feet Change Your Mind

by Eric Disco
Oct 30

It was 1968. Jane Elliot, a third-grade teacher, asked her students if they’d like to participate in an experiment.

The experiment, she told them, would allow them to understand how it felt to experience racism.

The students agreed.

She then separated the students from one another by an arbitrary but unchangeable attribute–their eye color–and assigned that attribute a social value.

On that day, a Friday, she decided to make the brown-eyed children superior first, giving them extra privileges like second helpings at lunch, access to the new jungle gym and five minutes extra at recess. She would not allow blue-eyed and brown-eyed children to drink from the same water fountain. She would offer them praise for being hard-working and intelligent.

The “blueys” on the other hand, would be disparaged. She even made the blue-eyed children wear crepe paper armbands.

At first, there was resistance to the idea that blue-eyed children were not the equals of brown-eyed children. To counter this, she used a pseudo-scientific explanation for her actions by stating that the melanin responsible for making brown-eyed children also was linked to intelligence and ability, therefore the “blueys” lack of pigmentation would result in lack of these qualities. Shortly thereafter, this initial resistance fell away.

Those who were deemed “superior” became arrogant, bossy and otherwise unpleasant to their “inferior” classmates. Their grades also improved, doing mathematical and reading tasks that seemed outside their ability before.

These “inferior” classmates also transformed ? into timid and subservient children, including those who had previously been dominant in the class. These children’s academic performance suffered, even with tasks that had been simple before. (Wikipedia)

Jane Elliot’s experiment shows brilliantly how the ugly cancer of racism affects human beings. It demonstrates the worst part of racism, how institutionalized racism becomes engrained in the victim’s mind.

But another brilliant aspect of this study is the effect it had on the students’ behavior, demonstrating how people’s views of themselves affect their performance.

Anyone shaken with doubt in a relationship knows the effect of their lack of assuredness: you begin acting out of weakness instead of strength. You become needy and unattractive.

You aren’t really unattractive, it’s what you believe that’s making you unattractive. Our beliefs are paramount to our behavior. If we perceive ourselves as attractive, we will act attractive and others will be attracted to us.

The major work, even more so than changing our behavior, is changing our internal belief system.

But changing your beliefs can be a seemingly impossible task.

It is painful to think of yourself as unattractive. When you learn that what is making you unattractive is actually your belief that you are unattractive, it is freeing at first. Now you know. You are the blue-eyed kid in the class who was only taught to feel inferior.

It feels great momentarily, but now you are charged with the task of changing your own beliefs. You are expected to try to think differently.

It’s been said that all game is inner game. And I completely agree with this. But I loathe the term ‘inner game.’ I hate that term because there is some implication that you can just sit home in your bedroom and change the way you think.

There is an implication that you can just decide to believe something and that will make it so. True, when you do believe the idea that “I am sexy,” it does make it so. But truly believing in your heart that you are sexy is not something you can simply decide to do.

You cannot change your thoughts. No matter how hard you try to believe that elephants can fly, there is no way you will truly wake up one day and believe in your heart that elephants can fly.

You putting pressure on yourself to carry a specific belief system around with you is not only unlikely to work, it can be counter-productive.

Thinking you can change your beliefs simply by willing it is almost more problematic than believing you are unattractive in the first place. Because now you are struggling within your mind.

Where there used to be acceptance, albeit acceptance that you’re a loser, you now have amplified your bad feelings by telling yourself I shouldn’t be thinking this way!

The root of the problem with approach anxiety is that you wrestle with your feelings, trying to expel them from your mind instead of ACCEPTING your feelings. When you struggle with pain, you amplify it.

You may walk around trying to REMEMBER that thought that you are sexy. You walk around trying to conjure up past feelings of worthiness.

Then you get in front of that girl and your body takes control. Those productive, positive thoughts fly away like birds. Because you never truly changed your belief in the first place.

So how do you change your beliefs?

First, stop trying to force yourself to believe something.

Relax. Breathe in. Accept everything. Accept the way you feel right now. It’s okay.

You will get there. But for now, allow yourself to feel everything. You are the way you are right now. We all have room to grow and learn. But you are who you are right now, and that’s a beautiful thing.

You can take steps to change the beliefs of the person you will become. But it doesn’t come from forcing yourself to think differently. It comes from taking action.

Perhaps you read an inspiring book and your thinking changed. That’s great. Thoughts are beautiful and important and can change your world. But they are also fleeting.

Perhaps your feelings about yourself changed. Feelings are also fleeting.

If there is no action to accompany that thinking or feeling, than there will be no perceivable change in your world and very little long-term change in your beliefs.

You wouldn’t think, Wow, that was a really cool thing I thought last week. No. But you if you take action you will think, Wow, that was a really cool thing I DID last week.

To change yourself to believe you are a sexy motherfucker, you need to take action in the real world. By simply walking toward that attractive person, you are changing your beliefs.

Your feet change your mind.

The greatest weapon we have against a fear of taking action is¡Ä taking action. Taking initiative, in the smallest ways to start off with, is the bedrock that will change your belief systems.

Nothing breeds confidence like confidence. Nothing breeds success like success.

When you can look back on your week and realize you approached a beautiful woman every day, you will know that you can approach another woman today, even if you are scared.

People who are confident around women love to give out the advice “Just be confident.”

You cannot “Just be confident.”

In fact, when you begin doing something you have never done before, your action will resemble anything but confidence.

Take action, whether it be a walk around your neighborhood, asking a stranger for directions, or introducing yourself to someone new. Take physical initiative to interact with the world outside.

This is not something you can do in your mind. As David Mamet said, “If it’s not physical, it can’t be done.” The only way to change is to take small, simple steps every day toward your goal.

You don’t have to believe it. You don’t have to feel it. You just need to do it.


posted in Initiative and Inhibition

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