March 5, 2018

How Different Are We?

By Barry Rudesill

I had a random conversation about Self-Talk with someone who wasn’t sure they believed that everyone had “similar” thought patterns. They tried to argue that we’re all different and that, because of those differences, the “Self-Talk” class didn’t apply to them. (Funny, but they also acknowledged that they had negative self-talk.)

While I do agree that we are all different and, more importantly, that we all react differently to the situations around us, I have to confess that I am a little bit harder to convince that everyone has radically different thought patterns. As someone who has studied “Cold Reading”, I understand how psychics – pronounced “con men” or “fake” - use basic statements to, “convince”…people that they can see the future.

Even more than that, I’m sitting in a room, surrounded by thousands of dollars in illusions. I LOVE performing illusions for people, because I know that if I do a certain trick in a certain way, I can not only create a convincing illusion, I can also have people experience a sense of wonder. The same prop can be used on an audience with hundreds of people with hundreds of different personalities and produce the same results. That would mean that we can’t be all that radically different, right?

But, rather than just say it, let me show it to you with an object lesson:

Step One:
Get a piece of paper, pick any number from 2-9, and write it down.

Step Two:
Multiply that number by 9. (You can use a calculator if you need to.)

Step Three:
Take the resulting two-digit number and add them together. (For example: if you ended up with 93, you would write 9+3 and then write down the sum of 12.)

Step Four:
From that number, subtract 5.

Step Five:
Convert that number to a letter. If your number is 1, it would be A. 2=B. 3=C. And so on…

Step Six:
Now, think of a country that starts with that letter. To make it more of a challenge, pick a country that is in Europe! (If you can’t think of one that starts with that letter, feel free to use an atlas, Google Maps, etc.) Write down your country so that you don’t forget what it was.

Step Seven:
Go up one letter from where you stopped in Step Five. For example, if you ended up on “A”, you would go up one to “B”. If you were at “B”, you would go up to “C”. And so on…

Step Eight:
Now, think of an animal that starts with that letter. To make it more of a challenge, think of the largest animal you possibly can! Make it a mammal. Oh, and why don’t we pick something far from home. How about a large, African mammal? Write down your animal so that you don’t forget what it was.

Step Nine:
Think of the color we normally put with this animal. Write down your color so that you don’t forget what it was.

Step Ten:
Now, on a sheet of paper, you should have a country, an animal, and a color, right? Think on it. Focus on it. If you want, you can mutter the mantra, “Owa tagoo siam!” (If you say it faster and faster, it forms into a message – don’t let it become negative self-talk, however!)  


It’s coming clearer!


I can see it!


Wait, what?


That’s ridiculous!


There are no gray elephants in Denmark! (Except maybe in zoos, I guess…)

Did that work for you? If so, you’re not alone. I have been 99% successful on this mentalism routine. (The 1% was when someone thought of an “emu”, which is NOT necessarily large or even a mammal, for that matter.)

This illusion sets up the belief that you have a free choice. (You don’t.) It makes it seem like you get to use your imagination. (Instead, I channel your thoughts in a specific direction.) And, the final objects – gray, elephant, Denmark – seem to random that I couldn’t possible know. (Actually, I’ve known so far in advance that about 10 years ago I bought a fake credit card that is from the “Bank of Denmark” and their logo is a gray elephant.)

In this case, I’m guiding you by setting some pretty specific limits. In other mental illusions, I go one step farther and let you freely choose...and still know the answer! Why? Because someone studied human reactions, figured out the patterns we use, and wrote books on the subject.

So, are we different? Yes. Do we react differently to situations? Again, yes. Do we all have our own individual thought patterns that are not comparable to others? Nope… That’s why many of us struggle with our self-talk! But, the bright side is that because we think in similar patters, we can understand it and we can develop tools to fight against those negative beliefs!

Today, if you’re struggling with your self-talk, remember: you’re not alone! Even more than that, you need to know that you CAN change those voices. Why? Because others have! It takes work, it takes perseverance, and it takes courage to be willing to change, but it is doable!

Have fun doing the gray elephant routine with your family and friends and we hope you enjoy your journey!

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