Simple neuro tricks : how to change yourself and influence others

The hardest battles in people’s lives and in the world take place imperceptibly, in the depths of the mind. Low self-esteem, depression, addiction, pain cause great suffering, but are exclusively in the head.

Conventional wisdom says that both mental problems, such as anxiety, and milder behavioral problems, such as the inability to follow one’s own passion, need to be solved by changing the mindset. Sean Young, Ph.D., author of Habits for Life, is convinced that this view is fundamentally wrong. Here’s what he says.

Change starts with action

It is often said in books on personal growth and pop psychology that we can influence our behavior by changing our thoughts. But it is not so.

Self-hypnosis is far from the most effective way to overcome fears, gain self-confidence, or, say, get rid of a bad habit. You will not become a different person if you tell your reflection in the mirror every day: “I’m good, I’m smart and, damn it, people like me.”

In fact, everything is exactly the opposite: you need to change actions, and the mind will catch up. This is what neurohacking is based on .


To achieve positive change, you need to make small adjustments in behavior and let your brain think about it. A key element of this process is self-identification.

People often make decisions based on what they think of themselves. And this, in turn, depends on how they acted in the past.

Want to become more responsive? You don’t have to convince yourself that you are. The brain will not believe it if your thoughts are not backed up by actions. Just start actively supporting friends in difficult times or doing volunteer work, and then you will find a new identity – a person who cares about helping people.

The psychological tricks you will read about below work on the same principle: as a result of certain actions, a person forms ideas about himself, and a new identity influences his future decisions and actions. Knowing the techniques of neurohacking , you can change not only your own, but also someone else’s behavior.

How to turn an enemy into a friend

When Benjamin Franklin was re-elected to a seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, another legislator made a lengthy diatribe against him. Franklin knew that paying back in kind was a bad idea. It was necessary somehow to win over the defiler to his side.

Franklin changed the opponent’s mind and turned him into a friend with a neural trick .

Knowing that the man had a rare book, Franklin wrote him a letter asking him to borrow it for a while. Flattered by this attention, he quickly sent his copy and received in return a courteous letter of thanks.

This little thing forever changed their relationship: they became friends and remained so until the end of their days. And all because there was a powerful shift in the mind of the enemy. Enemies don’t share books or write pleasantries, so Franklin isn’t an enemy.

Franklin later wrote that he had learned an important lesson: “He who once did you a favor is more willing to help you again than one to whom you yourself have done a favor.”

How to get rid of fears

Another neural trick is to dive right into your fears to overcome them. Sean Young experienced it himself: “At 21, I was sure that the worst thing is to find yourself in a foreign country without money, acquaintances and knowledge of the language. And so I found myself in just such a situation. Everything turned out not bad at all, even wonderful. I began to see myself as a different person – capable of doing what I could not before. Without knowing it, I used neurohacking .”

Neurohacking can do the same for you. Are you afraid to communicate with people of the opposite sex? Go on a date. Do you feel awkward in a big company? Join some interesting party.

Contact with what causes anxiety, at least in the light version, is useful. You will be able to see yourself in a different light, increase self-esteem and become bolder.

How to stop procrastinating

Start a self-development group or start a blog about the dangers of procrastinating. It’s hard to teach people not to procrastinate if you’re doing it yourself, so taking this step will help you beat the bad habit.

Think back to your therapist (or imagine you have one). He seems very calm and relaxed, doesn’t he? This is largely due to the fact that he plays the role of a mental health expert.

This approach – playing a role until you get used to it – creates a neuro -trick : a person thinks that it is impossible to lead a procrastination prevention group if he himself has problems with this.

How to get someone to agree with you

Did you know that your decisions—like whether you like a person and whether you agree with their statements—depend on how your body moves while they are talking?

Participants in one study were asked to listen to an announcement that students must carry identification cards. Half of them had to nod at this time, and the rest to shake their heads from side to side. They were then asked if they agreed with the announcement.

Those who nodded agreed much more often than those who shook their heads in the negative.

Why did such a result appear? The participants were unaware of the purpose of the study, but subconsciously understood that nodding meant agreement.

Thus, if you force a person to make movements that are associated with the expression of consent, he will become more accommodating. Marketers, for example, can use this trick by arranging their product line vertically instead of horizontally.

How to persuade a person to do something

A very important neurotrick is to make the person himself show that he wants something. If he voluntarily makes a decision, such as choosing a certain job or a completion date for some business, the likelihood that he will consistently go to the result is higher.

Give the person a small number of options and ask them to choose something.

Parents can use this technique to influence their child’s behavior. For example, if you need to sit him down for breakfast, you can ask what he wants more – cereal or eggs (just do not need to offer too many dishes, two or three will be enough).

It is important that a person perceives his choice as voluntary. If he feels that he is being pushed towards some option, the method will not work.

How to have a successful date

You must have heard that some young men invite girls to the cinema for horror movies. They hope that the friend will get scared and hug the companion. This tactic may seem ridiculous, but the scientific evidence speaks in its favor.

There have been many studies that have shown that people rely on manifestations of their own physiological and emotional state in order to evaluate themselves and decide what to think and how to act.

If a person is physiologically aroused—particularly while watching a horror movie—the brain may decide that the arousal is related to something else, such as the presence of another person or worry about whether a date is going well.

If you don’t like horror, think about what else will give you and your companion (or companion) an adrenaline rush. For example, you can ride a roller coaster. The effect will be the same.

How to cheer yourself up

Scientists have proven that we can quickly change our mood by using facial expressions. If you smile or frown, then you experience the corresponding emotions (without even realizing it).

In one study, participants were divided into two groups. Representatives of the first had to hold a pen between their teeth, imitating a smile (they were not explained why this was necessary). Participants from the second group were asked to hold the pen tightly with their lips (try to smile while holding the pen in this position – and you will see that it is not easy).

After that, the participants had to perform various activities, including looking at the cartoons and judging how funny they were. In theory, our opinion about the picture should not depend on the position of the pen – between the teeth or lips – but the participants in the first group seemed to have fun caricatures.

In another study, people were asked to say words that made their facial muscles move in a certain way, with similar results.

Recently, psychologists and doctors have been using Botox to study this effect. During the experiments, the subjects injected this substance into certain areas on the face in order to make facial expressions more difficult. The results were similar: by losing the ability to frown and make an angry expression, people became less angry. The study participants also experienced a reduction in depression levels.

chain links

As you can see, instead of trying hard to control the thoughts in your head, you can use a little neuro trick that will seriously change the mind and behavior.

There is another important point: the neural trick will work much better if you apply it several times. Let’s say you want to loosen up and overcome shyness. If you do something once, like dropping into an improv class, it will be difficult for you to acquire a new identity. You have to go to classes repeatedly and out of your own interest.

To change your self-perception, you need to do the same thing over and over again.

After, say, five classes, the mind begins to believe that the lessons are enjoyable, otherwise why go to them. Thus, a new type of personality is formed.

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