The Reticular Activating System and Your Goals
Focus…it’s something we are constantly in and out of throughout the day. With the Reticular Activating System (RAS) you may be able to harness this focus more sharply, subconsciously to enable you to achieve your goals with more precision. It’s a very handy way to manage your mental energy so that you can make the most of it.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of neurons located in the Reticular Formation in your brainstem. But how does it work? Have you ever thought of buying something, say a red car, and suddenly you’re seeing more red cars and they are everywhere? And then you can’t stop seeing red cars, how did you not notice there were so many red cars on the road before?!
They’ve been there all along but only now has your Reticular Activating System brought this to your attention. This system controls the stimuli you receive and through its processes, motivates you to behave a certain way. You can’t process everything happening around you, so the RAS does this on your behalf, only filtering what is necessary for you! Its job is to automate as much of your behaviour as possible so that you don’t actively have to think about it. When you’re in a noisy environment, trying to have a conversation with a friend, the RAS also blocks out everything else so that you can focus on what your friend is saying.
This is a very powerful thing. If you want to focus on something or remember something specific, you need to bring your RAS into play. Meaning that if you gave a goal in mind, and it’s programmed into your RAS, you will automatically be thinking about it and your actions will be geared towards achieving that goal, without you having to even try that hard. Your choices will automatically steer you towards what you need to achieve your goal.
But how do you engage your RAS to achieve laser focus and connect to your deeper consciousness?
The cool thing about the Reticular Activating System is that it doesn’t know good from bad, it’s like a robot, it only cares about automating and filtering the things that are important to you. For example, if you say “I hate exercise!” it will do everything it can to filter information through to prevent you from having a fitness routine and block out any positive outcomes you’ve had in the past. That’s how powerful it is! So if you say “I really love exercise!”, the same thing, the RAS will start bringing to your consciousness all the positive things that you experience from exercise, and start making it seem easier to get into an exercise routine and stick to it.
Some people call this “the law of attraction” which, it technically is but it’s not magic, it’s right there, inside your brainstem, within your control.
So how can you harness this power? It takes work, I’m not going to lie to you but if you are persistent and dedicated, you will see a difference. A simple way to say it is for you to VISUALISE. We are very visual creatures so use this often! For some, this is easier said than done so try these tips:
- Think about exactly what you want. What goal you want to achieve, what situation you want to find yourself in. E.g. I want to buy a nice house.
- Now think about how you would achieve that goal or reach that situation. What steps are actively going to get you there. It doesn’t have to be too detailed, just an overall vision. E.g. I need to earn more money but starting a side hustle/getting a better job
- This is the fun part: create a mental movie where you see yourself taking those actions and you reaching your ideal goal or situation. This is where details come in. How things sound, how you act, who you encounter, all the sounds, smells, visuals and physical things need to be detail orientated. Once you have your movie, replay it as much as you can when you wake up and you’re having your morning coffee or when you’re drifting off to sleep at night.
We’re not saying that your dreams are going to come true just by replaying a nice movie in your head. But training your Reticular Activating System to motivate your behaviour to steer you towards achieving those goals will. Work hard and keep that laser-sharp focus! Keep thinking about what you want and acting in line with that. You’ll be owning that red car and a nice house in no time!