The reticular activating system is a mystery even to neurologists. It is so complex that the chances are that, unless science leaps into a new dimension, we will never truly understand how it works…

…and yet it is the function of the reticular activating system and the associated Reticular Formation, its gatekeeper or superior “I”, that determines the outcome of the lives of all human beings.

It was such a revelation to me when I learned about it, thanks to a book by Dr Steven Pinker called “How The Mind Works”, that it completely changed my life and it has been my mission ever since to share this knowledge with as many people as possible in my lifetime.

Until you understand how the reticular activating system works it is impossible to release your full potential. Our lives are lived as if we were suffering from “Locked In” syndrome, aware of everything, but unable to take appropriate action.

We are totally powerless, never truly live our own lives and end up being tossed around by circumstance, oblivious to all the wonders that are available to us, if only we could release the shackles that are subconsciously holding us back from being successful.

The Reticular Activating System In Layman’s Terms

The reticular activating system is located in the cortex of all human brains and it receives data from its gatekeeper, the Reticular Formation, located in your brain stem.

reticular activating systemUs human beings are incredibly complex and have many senses, we can hear, we can see, we can taste and we can smell. We also have many other acuities, we sense all sorts of things and we often don’t know how or why.

As a consequence, our brain is constantly being bombarded from all directions by different stimuli that are converted into neurological impulses. Incredible as it sounds we all receive these stimuli at the rate of over 100 million each second!

Just think about that. If we had to consciously deal with every one of them independently, life as we know it would be impossible…

…and that’s where the Reticular Formation, the superior “I” comes in. It is the Gatekeeper for all of those stimuli, and protects the Reticular Activating System by sifting through all of those stimuli and only allowing through the ones it thinks our brains should deal with!

Can you see the challenge in that?

How does “it” make those choices? Who tells it which stimuli we want to receive and act upon…

The answer, as always is staring us in the face, we program the “Gatekeeper”. We don’t know we are doing it and it happens gradually over the course of our lives, but it’s our thoughts and our self talk that end up doing all the damage.

You see, the superior “I”, that most powerful and robotic of Gatekeepers, (I think of it as a highly professional Executive Secretary) will only ever release three types of stimuli to your brain:

  • A threat to our wellbeing, or the wellbeing of those close to us.
  • A stimulus, a thought or an idea that it can associate with an area of interest it knows we have.
  • A stimulus, a thought or an idea that it can associate with an established belief that we have trained it to believe that we hold true.

That’s why a Mum with a new born child will sleep through the clatter of every day life whilst catching up on her rest, but awake in alarm when the baby whimpers.

That’s why when you are engrossed in a conversation with friends at a party, your ears will prick up at the slightest mention of your favourite football team at 50 paces!

And that’s why thousands of people attend motivational seminars and then end up doing absolutely nothing constructive to change their lives, because they had previously programmed the superior “I” to believe that achieving that level of empowerment was impossible for them…

…any suggestion that there might be a flaw in that assumption is at counterpoint to the entrenched negative belief that has become foundational.

When studying how the entrepreneurial brain works, please realise that entrepreneurs typically understand that they do have an Executive Secretary that will follow instructions with incredible efficiency so they program their RAS only with the entrepreneurial ideas that they wish to turn in to reality.

They make sure however that their RAS, or reticular activating system is receiving the correct inputs that are properly aligned with the goals they have predefined for themselves.

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