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  • Writer's pictureRonald van Aggelen

How you can consciously use unconscious processes in the brain.

Our brain, an infinite source of information and a misunderstood organ that influences our lives. There are so many unconscious processes, so many micro connections and electrical currents that it is impossible to map them all. Barrack Obama had the ambition though, to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps and take his “shot for the moon” by having an atlas of the brain drawn up. Despite his ambition, in that part of his presidency failed miserably.

My personal fascination for the brain arose from the curiosity about what happens at a micro level in our brains creating a huge effect on our behavior. One and a half kilos of fat floating in a fluid in our skull, the so-called CSF, and determines and influences behavior through a living network of cells. I say a “living” network, because all 86 billion neurons are constantly adapting, growing and dying.

Fascinating, because a lot has already been determined by evolution and there is only marginal influence on influencing impulses, thoughts and behavior. And yet that is what my work is all about: influencing behavior. The evolutionary system has established matters such as emotions, reading facial expressions, empathy, distinction between relatives and non-relatives, but also cooperation with others. This we cannot change, but we can explore it and use it to our advantage.

In order to influence behavior, it is important that you have knowledge of unconscious processes that you can consciously use to achieve your goal. In a beautiful book by Victor Lamme "Free Will Does Not Exist" it is made clear with many examples how we “believe” we make our own decisions, while we are actually pre-programmed to use and implement standards. The skeptics, but also the intellectuals, like to challenge this statement: I choose the next step in my career. I choose to get a better work-life balance. I choose a political party.

It is not free will though, it is a manipulated decision.

In an experiment, in which subjects were given the choice to press a red or a blue button, it turned out that a choice had already been made in the brain. Including the associated motor movements, before the subject consciously made a choice. If you know that cooperation has a positive influence (for example, through similarities in appearance, similar letters in names, shared hobbies or possessions and even word use), you can take this into account. Uniforms are used for a reason. For example, Peter and Paul work better together than Michael and Anna, dog owners have a preference for sympathy towards each other and the word “together” provides a lower threshold for cooperation. Don't try to understand everything, but make conscious use of existing knowledge about unconscious processes in our brains. I discuss this in detail in my book “Mind Hacking”.

No time to read my book? Then follow Braintality here online. Every two weeks on Monday, starting Monday October 9th, we will post a new blog on on the subject influence providing you with practical tips that you can apply in your everyday work.

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