Amnesia: Not A Deficit, But The Way To Success

by Paul Hudson

Yes, brain damage is the leading cause of amnesia. And no, it is not something worth aspiring towards. However, if we were to take the term amnesia a bit more loosely — specifically as a way of letting go of our past — then we would find that having the ability to manufacture a state of amnesia within us would be rather beneficial throughout many different aspects of our lives.

Our minds are magnificent things, but their processes often overwhelm us and quickly spiral seemingly beyond our control. While our ability to focus is the reason for the great success of the human race, it is this same ability that causes us so much trouble. The ability to focus becomes hazardous to our health and to our future success when we are unable to shut it off.

While it is important to be able to focus on the task at hand and while doing so is the reason why we are, and continue to be, capable of so many accomplishments, this same focus works against us when it is directed in the wrong direction. It is great to be able to focus on a certain task or idea for an elongated period of time.

However, when our focus begins to wander — seemingly beyond our control — we suffer for it. Naturally, our thoughts and focus wander; it takes years of practice to develop the focus to zone in on a task for hours without giving into distractions coming from our surrounding environment. Developing such skill is not as difficult as it seems; it just takes practice — granted, lots of practice, but regardless, just practice.

What people often tend to find more difficult is not the process of focusing our thoughts, but rather avoiding allowing our thoughts to focus on things that we ought not to focus on. The hardest distractions to get over are not those found in our surroundings, but rather those that are impressed in our memory.

Our memories — specifically our negative memories — are the cause of much unhappiness, of all stress and a significant part of failure. When we have a negative experience, we don’t just let the memory go — we dwell on it. It’s funny because when people experience success, they rarely go back and try to figure out exactly what it is that made them successful.

No one cares why they succeeded because success is the end goal. Therefore, once a person has succeeded at whatever it is they were attempting, they feel that their job is done. They feel good, they live in the moment and they move on.

This does not work with our negative thoughts and memories. Whenever we are put through a shitty situation, we find trouble letting it go. We begin to either question why we failed or why our failure bothers us so much. We focus on dissecting our negative memories and thoughts and in this way we ensure their survival.

The only way to let go of negative emotions and feelings is to let go of the past memories that trigger them. Hence my claim that being able to trigger ‘amnesia’ at will is a skill that each and every person dreaming of success and happiness must possess.

The harm that focusing on negative thoughts and experiences has on our psyche and well-being cannot be overstressed. Our minds may have borderless capabilities, but they don’t start out that way — we need to develop them. The act of mastery is the act practiced by all those living a life of success. Mastery — the continuous task of practicing and developing oneself to the point nearest to perfection — is not very popular among the youth of today. In fact, it never was popular.

If it were, then we would have more successful people than we have plebs; that is obviously not the case, nor was it ever. This is the reason why people will try to discourage you from attempting something requisite of greatness: they know that being great is rare and knowing that you are just like any other person, they want to discourage you from failing.

The secret is that each and every one of us is the same as the other. True, some are born with more strength or more intelligence than others, but sheer intelligence or strength has never created success or greatness. The only way to succeed is through repetitive, unyielding action. Without action, we have no results. Without the proper mindset, we have no action.

If you are focusing on the past and your past failures, then you are actively discouraging yourself from giving your attempt at greatness your all. The more you dwell on how you f*cked up the last time you attempted a task, the more likely you will be to fail again.

This is something that has been pissing me off for quite some time now. I have seen and heard people attempting a task, stating beforehand that they will most likely fail because they failed the last 2 or 3 attempts. If you are going in already thinking about your future failure, then you will inevitably fail.

This sort of obsessive focus on the negative does not always span over long periods of time — this failing thought process, most of us go through day-in and day-out. How often have you heard about a sports team playing a great game, but then after one single screw-up, they end up throwing the entire thing?

The same is said in the reverse: often at times a team will be playing a terrible game and then after a single score, touchdown or great play they seem to regain their energy and focus and finish off strong. We tend to call this “regaining momentum.” All this means is that the team experienced one positive result, focused on that positive result and kept building on it.

There is no one standing behind the players and literally pushing them, helping them gain momentum — it is their minds that are allowing them to succeed. This is the secret to success: you must try and you must fail. You must feign amnesia and forget about your failures enough to only learn from them. Then you must try and try again. Eventually you will succeed.

Paul Hudson | Elite. 

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