I’ve never thought that I live ‘by the numbers’, but then again, there’s a lot I didn’t know before I studied the subconscious mind. Numbers seem to ‘pop up’ in research and historic trends, as well as in our lives. Some of them we are aware of, while others run below our conscious awareness (which can cause us a bit of trouble sometimes).
While the following number related ideas may just serve as a guide or heuristic, there may be some suggestions or ways that we can ‘play’ with the numbers to perform, feel or live with greater ease or success. So let’s take a quick look into the values of certain numbers have on our minds and lives.
80/20: Pareto’s ‘Battle’
Many people have been exposed to the concept of the 80/20 rule, or the rule of vital few. Vilfredo Pareto originally wrote about it in 1896 – indicating that 20% of the population held 80% of the land in Italy, while 80% held the other 20% (while this held at the time, economically this ratio has since changed in many nations). This lofty concept stemmed from his observation of peas in peapods, so it can easily be translated back into daily life. For example, 80% of my groceries cost 20% of the total bill, while my specialty items, which make up about 20% of my cart, end up costing the other 80% of the total.
While many people have the idea that they’d like to get their lives organized/sorted/figured out 100 percent, we might take a moment to look critically at these numbers for the purpose of change.
If we look at resources and costs, there may be some numbers whose values are too dear. For example, when we are planning a party, there may be items we’d love to include, but the financial, time or support burden of adding one little thing – which may take our 80% party to 85% – may be too great to be worth the relatively small shift in end results. And as we continue to approach 100%, often the cost of a tiny change may be extremely costly to our mental, physical, financial, emotional, timely or spiritual reserves.
While we may have areas of our lives where we are willing to spend our resources on incremental changes, there may be other areas where ‘good enough’ may assure a wellspring of energy for other things.
When I am meeting with clients, they often bring a ‘laundry list’ of issues they would like to change. I’ve found that often very few shifts can create profound transformations. Sometimes only a few negative habits or emotions are affecting a large component of life (20/80?). At other times, sourcing just a few of our internal strengths and personal attributes (some that we may have forgotten or have yet to discover), can alter a person’s direction for good. I’ve found that the biggest barriers, using the subconscious mind, can often be rolled with much less effort than may be expected (80/20 again).
Computer programmers’ Ninety-Ninety rule is a variation on this, which states that the first 90% of code accounts for the first 90% of development time, and the last 10% of code accounts for the other 90% of development time. Thankfully, I deal with the human computer which tends to reprogram much more easily!
90% rule: Where is all my time going?
There are a LOT of ideas that include this ratio and number.
But let’s focus on one. Steven Covey suggested that 90% of life is decided by how we react, with only 10% of life made up of what happens to us.
How can that be? My life is full of stuff happening… or is it? How many times have you had a small disappointment turn into a much bigger deal? Reacted negatively to something or someone which built into a short argument or ill feelings that continued for longer? Made a story up about why someone ‘did you wrong’ and plotted your ‘revenge’? This all takes time. I know that many disagreements about who should wash the dishes take a lot longer than doing the dishes in the first place…
Have you ever worried about doing something for a long time, and then the act of doing it was less stressful than the anticipation? We can have time-consuming mental, emotional and even physical ‘reactions’ even before the action!
How do we pick up these negative reactions? Sometimes they are simply practiced over and over and become habits. Sometimes these reactions are ‘lessons’ we’ve learned from our families, culture or community. Sometimes they worked in the past but may not be working for us now.
Let’s not forget that our reactions can also be positive or bring contentment or fulfillment to our lives. There are the little things in life that tend to have lasting positive effect on our thoughts and feelings. There are habits or practices we do that tend to expand time (or our perception of it). It sometimes helps to keep track of those so you can insert more of the same into your life, or celebrate it when it happens.
The wonderful thing about reactions is that they can change. We can adjust associations and connections at the deeper levels of the mind, shifting our internal perspectives to reduce the negative impact ‘stuff happening’ has on us. We can notice the good more, or be curious rather than accusing about the actions of others. We can release ourselves from patterns that aren’t working to those that work better using the subconscious mind. Because that’s where our automatic reactions, ‘good’ and ‘bad’, are stored.
5:1: Rain Helps the Flowers Grow
Many people want only positive interactions with others. Only happy faces and sunshine. Others see the world as a problem that needs to be fixed – and the people around them as sources of obstacles or headaches.
Is one a more correct view than the other? Well, similar to Henry Ford’s quote “if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”, our perspective seems right to us – because we can only see through our own eyes and experience (without some extra work).
One may seem more pleasant than the other; however, research done about productivity in work teams as well as charting successful couples over the years (those that stayed together) showed that both positive AND negative expressions created a ‘sweet spot’ for performance.
And there seems to be a specific ratio For every 5 positive interactions or feedbacks there tended to be one negative one.
Why not positive all the time? There are a couple reasons, including using negative feedback as a way of showing a place for improvement, guarding against complacency or indifference, or stopping us from heading in the wrong direction. However, negative feedback about things we cannot change can be deflating, if structured vaguely and ever-shifting can create a sense of helplessness, or if given too often (hence the ratio) can stop us from improving or wanting to improve at all.
Negative comments, like indispensable rain rather than destructive floods, need to be constructed so that the other person can DO something with the criticism, for their greater good.
While we often fail to notice, I’ve found that internal chatter for many of my clients has an almost opposite ratio – the voice in their head is giving five negative comments to every one positive! If you’re having some challenges in feeling the ‘love’ from the inside out, hypnosis can help.
Maybe there’s a relationship in your life whose number is off? Sometimes keeping track of our positive to negative comments with others can give us a better idea of which way we need to go, and can develop better ‘weather’ with others, through rain or shine.
While you can hold these all these ‘numbers’ loosely – with a ‘pinch’ rather than 127 grains of salt – they can serve as helpful guides for your mind and your life. Remember, it all adds up!
If you need any support in getting the ‘total’ right for you, please let me know. I’m here to help.