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Noah St. John: Why Self-Help Backfires, Reprogramming Your Brain, & The Shower That Changed Everything

We’re here with bestselling author, Noah St. John, to help reprogram your brain’s natural instincts to make success a habit: http://bit.ly/NoahStJohn

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is it so hard for me to lose weight?”

That question is enough to send most of us into a tailspin of negativity.

But let’s see if we can turn it around.

Try this instead. Simply ask yourself: “Why is it so easy for me to lose weight?”

Think about that for a second.

“Why is it so easy for me to lose weight?”

Notice how your brain is searching for solutions instead of dwelling on problems. And you’re on your way to a bright sunshine-y day.

On today’s show with bestselling author, Noah St. John, we explore how to harness the brain’s natural instincts to make success a reflex.

Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, says:

“Noah St. John’s work is one of the most significant breakthroughs in the study of success in decades.”

No matter what you struggle with, this show will help you break through that plateau and level-up big time.

You’ll learn:

  • How to lose weight, stop smoking, and boost mood with a simple Jedi Mind Trick
  • What you need to know about the subconscious to achieve results
  • Why self-improvement backfires (and what to do instead)
  • Whyone shower changed everything, and much more…

Let’s hang out with Noah…

NOAH ST. JOHN: HOW TO BUILD THE SUCCESS HABIT

Abel: We’re here with Noah St. John, “The Power Habits Mentor” and creator of The Success Clinic.

He appears frequently in the news worldwide, including CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, NPR, and more. Noah is the author of 10 books that have been translated into 12 languages, including the newest best seller, “The Book of Afformations.”

Noah, you specialize in teaching people the power of self-talk. Listeners will be familiar with the concept of self-talk, but most of us are actually doing it wrong. Can you explain what you’ve developed and why it’s important?

Just so the folks watching and listening are clear, we’re actually saying a new word, which is afformations.  Everyone knows what an affirmation is—it’s a statement of something you want to be true. For example, “I am thin. I am healthy. I am rich.”

So the problem is that we say these statements but we don’t believe them. So basically, your brain has this “yeah right” response. We’ve been taught for decades that we should repeat these statements over and over until some day we believe them.

For some people that works just fine, but for millions of people that doesn’t work at all.

In fact, there are several scientific studies showing that affirmations actually make 75% of people more frustrated. Affirmations literally make people angry.

Abel: So with an affirmation, we create positive mantras but our brains don’t think they’re true…

Right – you’re trying to bash your brain into submission.

“I’m rich, I’m happy, I’m healthy… No you’re not. No you’re not. No you’re not.”

Back in 1997, I was a religious studies major in college and I’d been reading self help books for many years… and I was not successful. I was a failure.

I sat there in my little dorm room upset, lonely and broke, and thought to myself, “I’ve been reading these books. How come it’s not working?”

There were all these little post-it notes all over my room that said, “I am happy.  I am rich. I am successful.” The problem was that I was none of those, so now I felt even worse.

I went to bed depressed. I woke up the next morning and got in the shower like any other morning. In the book I call it “the shower that changed everything.” All these thoughts are rallying around in my head.

How come I’m doing everything and nothing’s working? What’s missing? What are we really talking about?

Then it hit me: We are talking about beliefs. You want to be healthier, make more money, find love, whatever it is to change your life.

The first step is to change your belief. What’s a belief? A thought. What’s a thought? Well, human thought is the process of asking and searching for answers to questions.

Let’s play a little game. I’m going to ask you a question and see what happens.

Why is the sky blue?

Okay, now what’s your brain doing? Searching for the answer. Notice you did that without even trying. You couldn’t not do it.

If the human brain is automatically searching for answers to questions, why are we making statements we don’t believe?

Why don’t we just cut out the middle man? What would that look like?

If you say, “I am rich,” and you’re not, the brain goes, “Yeah, right.” If that’s the statement, what would the question be?

As I was standing there in the shower, I thought, “Why am I so rich?

You have to search for the answer. What we’re talking about is the law of sowing and reaping. But what are we sowing? We are sowing seeds of thought. Most people are sowing lousy thought seeds.

Here are a few terrible thoughts we tell ourselves all the time: “Why am I so fat? Why can’t I ever lose weight? Why can’t I find the right person? How come my business isn’t growing? Why is there so much month left at the end of the money?”

The law doesn’t care what you think, negative or positive. You’re going to get the answer anyway.

Instead of asking lousy questions, let’s start asking empowering questions that lead to phenomenal answers and create a wonderful life.

I was standing in the shower in 1997 and said, “Wow, I think I just created something!”

Affirmation comes from the word firmary, which means to make firm. Afformation is a word that I invented—and it’s perfectly legitimate to invent a new word when you have a new technology or process (podcast, webinar, internet, etc.). Afformation is a new technology of the mind, and it comes from the Latin word formary, which means to form or give shape to.

What if you’re making something firm but it’s in the wrong form? That’s forming a life you don’t want. You formed it unconsciously. The law doesn’t care, you’re going to get that result anyway.

Using afformations, you can take conscious control of your self-talk and change your life.

Abel: When you ask a question in a positive way, your brain automatically searches for solutions.

For example, “How did I run a marathon in less than three hours?” is much different than, “Could I run a marathon in less than three hours?” It’s stunning.

Great way to look at it. The point is that you’re talking to yourself anyway – you might as well make it positive.

I jumped out of the shower and wrote everything down and thought, “Wow, this could change the world.” This is in 1997, when there was no social media, no blogging, no podcasting. I just knew I had to tell the world about this. I had no money, just passion.

I put a book together and started selling it online. I got all these stories from around the world, from people who started to make more money, lose weight, find love, save marriages… and there were even people who were suicidal and decided not to take their own life.

Now we’re in over 140 countries with ten books in all these languages—we call it the afformations revolution. It’s a movement of hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have been awakened.

They are finding the dream job, getting promotions, publishing their first book—the point is they were already doing affirmations in a negative way. They just had to change the question.

You’re already doing this! Everyone is a walking question machine. For 99.9% of the earth, we’re asking lousy questions. There’s your life. Once you understand afformations, when you do it, your life is almost—not magic—it’s science. But it’s kind of miraculous.

Abel: The brain does the vast majority of its work under the radar. Our conscious mind is such a small sliver of the equation—when you engage the subconscious and allow it to work for you, all of a sudden your life can transform as if it is magic.

Something else you talk about—the power of self talk—the fact that you have such a  powerful brain is good and bad news.

You’ve already created your life through your thoughts. What are your thoughts? Questions. Just write down your life right now and what you don’t like about it. What are you asking yourself that caused that situation to happen?

When I was in that bad situation, I realized I was asking really lousy questions: “How come I don’t have a girlfriend? How come I’m always broke?”  If I just changed those questions, I’d have to change the thought seeds I’m planting.

One of the reasons I say it’s not magic is because you can’t say: “Why did I make a million dollars by tomorrow?”

Although, we have had a lot of people reporting they’ve been scratch-off winners for $50, $100, or $500.

Abel: Let’s take an example of something almost everyone struggles with—sugar addiction. Everyone knows sugar is bad at this point, but almost everyone eats it.

If someone comes to you and says, “Noah, I need help. What do you do?”

Every human endeavor has the inner and outer game. The inner game is the stuff in here that you can’t see, but you see the effects of it. Your beliefs, thoughts, desires, priorities, and decisions. You can’t see and touch them but they affect everything.

The outer game is what you do, your habits, lifestyle, the foods you eat, etc.

Whether you’re talking about sugar addiction, weight loss, building a business, relationships, etc, a lot of people only do one and forget there’s both. People come to me who have tried a lot of diets and exercise programs, and they’re asking why they can’t lose weight. That’s what they’re sowing and reaping.

Write down what you’re thinking: I’m so stupid. I’m so fat. I could never lose weight. Now change that to a positive question. That’s the inner game. That’s when the outer game strategies work.

As you well know, eating healthier proteins and substituting the healthy carbs for the lousy carbs is important. The lousy carbs are everywhere because they’re cheap to make. Everywhere.

But here’s a story about one woman in Pennsylvania who wrote to me that she had been labeled and called obese since the age of 9. Her thoughts were really negative.

She started using afformations. She started thinking more positive thoughts, then started to eat better.

Eventually, she lost 170 pounds and has kept it off for five years. I heard story after story like that!

Abel: How did she frame her questions to finally reach her goals?

One of the very easy ones for weight loss is: “Why is it so easy for me to lose weight?”

Your brain HAS to search for the answer. It unlocks what’s already there. It literally is the key.

We are all so much smarter than we think.

The afformations unlock what’s already there.

Abel: One thing that differentiates people who don’t experience success from people who do is the perception of control over their own lives and circumstances.

Cultivating positive self-talk puts you in control over your thoughts (and your life). You’re intentionally building and cultivating something that gives you the life that you want.

What else have you seen people accomplish through self-talk?

One woman named Susan from California had spent $60K on self help, even going to big names and gurus. She was about to go bankrupt, lose her home, lose her marriage. It was kind of the end of the rope.

Then she heard me on a program like this and something clicked. Within six months she had found her dream job—an executive television producer for a national TV show.

She got a 6 figure income, paid off all debts, was nominated for 2 Emmys and just finished her first book!

Abel: Wow. This is one of the reasons I love having a show about health. Time and time again, I’ve seen health be the catalyst for changing almost every aspect of someone’s life for the better.

Maybe you hit rock bottom, something traumatic happens, you get sick, or you’re injured and life sucks for a while. Then you start looking around for answers. And you might find something that works, then find the next thing that works, and the results become the motivation.

In order for self-talk to work, you need to actively practice it like meditation, exercise, or eating well. You have to build it into your day and your habits.

How do you recommend listeners incorporate self talk into their daily lives to cultivate the right mindset?

Meditation is one of the most powerful tools, if not the most important.

Having gratitude throughout the day is also very important. I wasn’t always a positive guy. If you met me before Afformations, I was lonely, angry, resentful. I had to really work on my brain to not live like that. Having the attitude of gratitude, and practicing gratitude every day, helped me change that.

We’re here with bestselling author, Noah St. John, to help reprogram your brain’s natural instincts to make success a habit: http://bit.ly/NoahStJohn

I have audios you can listen to throughout the day on your MP3 player, or you can record your own afformations. A lot of the tools are right at your fingertips. I really feel that it’s helping you access what’s already inside you.

Abel: You frame these as positive “why” questions, but you don’t necessarily have to answer the question for afformations to be effective. How does that work?

Psychologists call this the embedded presupposition factor: If you’re asking a question, your mind is going to solve it anyway. Or search to solve it.

Take the example of why is the sky blue? You can go into Google and search, but for thousands of years nobody knew, and finally scientists solved it.

But if you were to say, “Why am I so healthy?” Meditate on it. Write it down. Say it to your spouse. Your mind will try to solve it.

By the way, kids LOVE afformations because they don’t have years of head trash. Kids have earned better grades, started believing in themselves, and even overcome depression. Awesome stuff!

Honestly, if you read the book—it’s not written for a child, but kids get it. On our Facebook page there was a lady in Canada who showed a video with the Iafforms in the background, and she had a 1 ½ year old listening. That kid is going to be so empowered.

Listen to them. Meditate on them. You’re rewiring your brain. You can do it. You’ve got the power, it’s right at your fingertips.

Abel: When I got out of college, I worked as a strategy consultant on a project about cutting-edge pipeline technology – a subject I knew next to nothing about.

I crammed for weeks and wrestled with one particularly tough feasibility question. Days later, in the middle of the night, the surprising answer literally came in a dream. I eventually got a huge raise and promotion by asking and listening to the subconscious.

But you have to ask the right questions. You can’t expect an immediate answer, but you need to trust that your brain will be working on it.

Afformations are both immediate and long term. When you afform why am I healthy? It immediately feels better. But I haven’t made any lifestyle changes yet. Why am I so healthy? What could I do to make that true?

It’s immediate and long term. You can’t go back to being unhealthy. You can’t unknow afformations once you’ve heard about it and know it.

Abel: One of the biggest things that separates people that are “healthy” from people who are “unhealthy” is identity.

For example, I’m Fat-Burning Man—I “can’t” get fat because there’s accountability built-in. I can’t eat bad food all the time and get away with all non-stop debauchery. I’ve created a positive identity around being healthy, balance, and happy.

If you consider yourself a healthy person, all of a sudden people around you start holding you accountable to that.

If you do the opposite—that’s something I ran into on that ABC show with Kurt and other people who are in the obese range—in their daily lives, they might self-deprecate and call themselves “the fat guy.” So when they eat out, they’re thinking “I’m the fat guy,” which actually encourages ordering the wrong food and overeating.

But if you frame it as “Why is it so easy for me to be healthy?” you have to make lifestyle adjustments. You need to change your reality if you want to improve.

Maybe if you start with that afformation, you walk into the store and don’t go to the Chips A’hoy… You go to the vegetables. That’s the magic of it—you find you act differently even if you weren’t expecting it.

I’ve had clients report to me exactly what you just said. Junk food is everywhere and it’s easy to eat bad, it takes a little extra thought to eat well. America wants you to be fat. It is, in fact, a conspiracy.

One gentleman I talked to was at a restaurant. He remembered his afformation and thought, instead of ordering that thing with all the gravy, I’m going to have the Caesar salad. He lost 20 pounds really fast. It just came off because the body wants to be healthy.

Abel: It almost sounds like we’re building an alter ego.

If you want to make any changes in your life—health, finances, stress, overcoming addiction, sleeping better. You’re trying to go from where you are to where you want to be. A part of that is believing you can get there.

The main reason people aren’t making positive changes isn’t because they don’t know how, but because they don’t believe they can do it.

I don’t really talk about creating a new alter ego, but when you change the questions, you have to change your life. It’s not making yourself do it, but it’s like the guy in the restaurant, it just happens.

Abel: You also apply this to help people quit smoking.

Let’s play with that. If you say to yourself, “I am a smoker,” that creates a self-fulfilling destiny. It’s hard to “quit” an identity.

There are so many messages out there that say it’s hard to quit smoking. In the book there’s a story about a woman who quit after 20 years. It begins with changing the question. She literally didn’t try to quit smoking, it just happened.

Abel: Since you’ve studied self improvement for so many years, what are the most important things our listeners need to know to immediately improve their lives?

  • Write down the top five disempowering questions that you’re asking yourself. Why am I so dumb? So fat? No money? Just start with five. Turn those into empowering questions. Why am I so smart? Why is it so easy for me to lose weight?
  • Have that attitude of gratitude. Maybe I am overweight or struggling with sugar. Maybe I can’t get a date, I’m looking for love, or I have no money… but being grateful for what you do have will change all of those things. I really believe this.

WHERE TO FIND NOAH ST. JOHN

Visit Noah at www.noahstjohn.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Did you enjoy this show? Share your most powerful afformations with us in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  • Angela says:

    GREAT interview!!! I agree, one of my favorites you have done so far.

  • Bob says:

    Way to go Able! I think by having Noah on you may have addressed the number ! cause of most peoples major problems.
    I am one that has used affirmations for a very long time and even today I hear a small voice in the back of my mind saying “LAIR!” after I do an affirmation that I don’t feel is true. The very first time I asked myself, How did I get so successful? I could feel a whole new set of gears kicking in. I have a great feeling about Noah’s discovery. I think it really will help a lot of people!

  • Ryan says:

    A great conversation and sort of what I have been into lately. Asking more positive questions and interacting with people in a kind and considerate way is the way I have tried to be for the last few months. Now that I have this idea of forming the questions it changes a lot of things for me. Funny its often when I am cutting the grass that I have time to think and today I was cutting and listening to this podcast. My wife is a big affirmation person and we talked about it, she said that they are always a lie and unrealistic. We had a large discussion about all these topics and what a great way to spend time. Love this show and keep the interesting guests coming.
    Thanks

  • Utahhiker801 says:

    When Noah said that by using his “afformations” he’s had clients report winning scratch-off lotto cards, he lost all credibility in my mind. Sure, I think there are important affects of our inner voice, but that kind of throw-in comment seems designed to attract gullible, low self-esteem individuals who are looking for a quick fix to the problems of their life, setting themselves up to be victimized by a fast-talking con man.

    The target demographic of Mr. St. John seems outside of the Fat-Burning Man audience. His frequent repetition describing individuals who keep asking themselves “Why am I so fat? Why can’t I ever lose weight? Why can’t I find the right person? How come my business isn’t growing?” made me think he was completely unaware of the types of guests you generally have on your show.

    From my perspective, the majority of your guests have their stuff together and they offer insights for others to tweak their performance. I could be completely wrong, but I can’t imagine your audience ever asking “Why am I so fat or Why can’t I ever lose weight” because you have dozens and dozens of experts who have been explaining exactly how to do these things.

    Abel, I appreciate the hard work you put into your podcast, and I’ve learned quite a bit. I think his lotto scratch card comment set me off because I live in an area that has the highest amount of affinity fraud in the US and those scams frequently begin with that type of deceptive hook.

    I wish you all the best.

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